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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 107

CONTENTS

Thursday, June 19, 2014




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
l
NUMBER 107 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 10 petitions.

[Translation]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the delegation of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association respecting its participation at the 41st annual meeting of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association, held in Paris and Grenoble, France, from April 25 to 29, 2014.

[English]

Committees of the House

Environment and Sustainable Development 

    Mr. Speaker, I move that the second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, presented on Wednesday, February 5, 2014, be concurred in.
    I want to thank my colleagues for such a warm welcome. We have been here for so long that it is hard to be warm these days.
    I am moving concurrence in the report from the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I am a member of that committee. The report is called “Terrestrial Habitat Conservation in Canada”. Why did we study this? That is a good question. I am going to go back a bit on why we even have a report on terrestrial conservation.
    I do not actually remember which throne speech it was, but a couple of throne speeches ago, there were some hints that the government was going to have a conservation strategy. That is not bad news. It is ostensibly good news, so we were excited to see what was going to happen with that. Then the environment committee was tasked with doing a study on what a conservation plan would look like.
     On the face of it, that actually seems like really good parliamentary procedure. We have an idea from government. We are going to task a committee to study something and get some really good information so we can give advice to the minister. As I said, on its face, that seems wonderful and it is exciting to actually do good parliamentary work at committee, but what happened is it went off the rails a little bit. I know it is hard to imagine in this environment.
    Where we started was with a general conservation study. My colleagues and I would show up and we would be keen. We had done our research. We would ask questions of the witnesses about conservation, what a conservation plan would look like, what that kind of strategy would look like. It was interesting. There were moments when it was very frustrating, because for some reason the Conservatives did not want to hear anything about climate change when it comes to conservation. It is interesting because conservation actually is a good solution to climate change on a lot of fronts. For example, if we are preserving large tracts of land, we are keeping the vegetation that is there. It is basically a natural carbon storage.
    We heard some interesting testimony about climate change and how conservation would actually help us deal with the effects of climate change and prevent climate change from advancing. We also heard some really interesting testimony about the impacts of climate change on conservation efforts, the fact that we are going to have to adapt a little bit. If we are going to create parks, for example, we need to think about extreme meteorological events. We need to think about the impact of waves, tides, and storms on our infrastructure. It was good testimony. Remember that this is not the current report on which I moved this concurrence motion; it was the report before.
    There was good information, good testimony about climate. None of it is in the report. We have to remember that Conservatives do have a majority on these committees, so what comes out in the end, although we can fight in camera and try to get stuff in a report, it does not end up in the report. There was nothing about climate change. The report was absolutely silent on that subject.
    Getting back to this idea of studying conservation generally, as I said, there was good testimony. We were pretty excited. We were thinking that this was our way to contribute to the parliamentary process, the democratic process. We were going to give some advice to the minister. Despite the fact that climate change did not make it into the report, there were some other positives about the report. We had these moments of feeling that we were part of a parliamentary project, that it was a worthwhile endeavour.
    Then we went in camera to decide the next committee business. All kinds of ideas were put forward. The NDP has all kinds of ideas. We put forward so many motions. We put forward a motion that our committee review the government's sectoral approach to greenhouse gas regulations, and review the delays in establishing those regulations for the oil and gas sector. We put forward a motion on the Great Lakes and how climate change is impacting the water levels. We put forward a motion about the Arctic, to study the impacts of climate change and resulting new resource development and transportation routes on the Arctic, its environment, species and ecological balance. We came armed with so many good ideas.
    We went in camera, where the majority rules, and we came out with a study on urban conservation. We went from conservation to urban conservation. We tried to be optimistic and full of energy and said, “Okay, another conservation study. Here we go.”
     Maybe there is a point to the urban conservation study, because in some musings that the government members had, they also talked about the creation of Rouge Park, a national park that would be an urban park. I think it would be North America's first urban national park. That is pretty exciting stuff. Again, there is a glimmer of this ability to contribute to the parliamentary process and government decision-making. That means there would be another study on conservation, but at least it would be on something where maybe there is a hope that the minister would be listening and we could talk about some important issues that we would see the results of in a bill about Rouge Park.
    We started our study. There was some great testimony from people about urban conservation, the way that people can connect with the natural environment while living in cities and urban environments. We heard really good testimony about climate change, the way we can mitigate the impacts of climate change, and that we can mitigate the fact that climate is changing, and there are things we need to do to adapt when we are looking at urban conservation and climate change. Of course, none of that ended up in the report, because we cannot talk about climate change at the environment committee. It is quite amazing.
    We did this study on urban conservation. What was interesting is that on Friday last week the government tabled a bill on the creation of Rouge Park in Scarborough. I believe it may be on the docket to talk about today, so I have been madly prepping to speak to the bill. It has been really difficult. I read the bill yesterday during my caucus meeting. We had a briefing on it from the minister's office yesterday afternoon. We are scrambling to give some feedback on the bill and we have not had the time to do a proper analysis. I have read it, but I have not digested it. I have not had time to reach out to stakeholders to get their advice on what is in the bill and if it is doing what it purports to do. However, I will say that I have had the time to look at our notes from that urban conservation study. There was a small section on Rouge Park that we did in that study. I looked at the bill, and it is not apparent to me where those suggestions from our witnesses are in the final bill.
    At the time I felt a bit discouraged that we were doing urban conservation right on the heels of a conservation study. However, I thought that maybe we would have an impact on the legislation, that maybe we are giving advice to the minister, which is what committees are supposed to be doing, and maybe it would be in the bill. I have the bill. Perhaps it will become clearer to me later when I listen to the minister's speech, but I do not see that good advice from the witnesses that we heard at committee reflected in the legislation.
    I have gone from being a little disheartened by doing two studies in a row on the same subject to wondering what is the point of us even doing these studies if the minister is not listening. We did not choose the study topic. I will leave it to everyone's imagination, but a majority on the committee probably made the decision to study these topics. I wanted to study climate change. I wanted to study some other topics, but let us make the best of it if we are doing conservation, and then the results of our report are not even reflected in the bill. There were two studies on conservation.
    We finished the study on urban conservation. If my memory serves me correctly, I think we managed to work in a rare show of collaboration with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment. I think we had a unanimous report on urban conservation. There is nothing egregious in it. We pointed out that it is missing a lot of things, but the information that was in there was accurate. There was no discussion on climate change, which we pointed out.
    Then we went in camera and we made decisions about what we would study next. It is on the public record that the NDP put forward some incredible motions, such as doing a study on the Species at Risk Act, its implementation and funding. That is a really important issue right now. It is one of the only pieces of environmental legislation that was not gutted in the 2012 omnibus budgets.
     Speaking of budgets, we put on the record that we wanted to do a study on the impacts of budget cuts on the operations, sustainability and accessibility for visitors, and sustainability impacts for the surrounding communities to Parks Canada. That is a great idea. Why are we not looking at the fact that we have seen all these job losses and all these budget cuts at Parks Canada?

  (1010)  

    Time passes. Also, in 2013, we had motion to receive a briefing by the official Canadian delegation to the climate change convention negotiations prior to the meetings in Warsaw in November 2013 to detail Canada's negotiating priorities. It sounded good to me. We are still waiting for that briefing.
    An hon. member: 2014.
    Ms. Megan Leslie: It is 2014, I know, Mr. Speaker. There is no point any more.
    We come out, and what is on the docket for us to study? Terrestrial conservation. Do we not wish we were on environment committee? Talk about demoralizing. I think there are good reasons to talk about terrestrial conservation, but there are so many other issues, and we have already done two studies on conservation. Now we are doing terrestrial conservation, and that is what this report is, for which I moved concurrence today.
    Why terrestrial conservation? Why not marine conservation? We would not want to study marine conservation because then we would have to talk about fish habitat. This is a way of excluding the important legislation that government gutted back in 2012. The House will remember there was a budget announcement in 2012 and then there were two bills after that in 2012. Those two bills, both of which passed, were remarkable in many ways. They were omnibus pieces of legislation. The first one touched over 70 pieces of legislation: it amended or repealed in some way or added to 70 pieces of legislation, all wrapped up in one bill that was over 400 pages long. Then we had a second one in the fall. This is really significant.
    It is a little hobby horse of mine that the first bill, a budget bill, made changes to assisted human reproduction. Whether or not I can be a surrogate, whether or not I can sell my eggs was in a budget bill. My reproduction has nothing to do with the budget.
    We have these giant omnibus bills. What happened on environment? A number of things. The Environmental Assessment Act was repealed. It was not tweaked or amended; it was pulled off the books and replaced with another one. What are the problems with it? For example, we have had what is called a trigger system with environment assessment. If a project touched a federal issue, such as migratory birds or waterways that crossed provincial boundaries, it would trigger an environmental assessment.
    That makes sense. We can wrap our head around why it would be that way. However, now we have a list of things that mean environmental assessment. If something is not on the list, there is no environmental assessment.
    Why is that problematic? Members should think about the oil sands. If we had had a definitive list 70 years ago, oil sands exploration would not have been on that list because we would not have known it was in the realm of the possible. We would not have considered that we should put oil sands development on the list. A trigger is important, because it is the situation that causes the assessment, not this definitive list. The other thing about the list is that it is cabinet that makes up the list. It is trouble, because the list is narrow. Seismic testing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is not on that list. I think that is pretty problematic. We have moved from the trigger to the list.
     We also had the environment commissioner testify at committee about this list. There used to be three stages of environmental assessment. The lowest stage was like a paper stage, where one would submit documents and get feedback on them, but it was still effective. Forgive me if I get the numbers a little bit wrong because I am tapping into my memory. We asked the environment commissioner how many environmental assessments were being done. My memory says he said 4,000 to 6,000 per year. My next question was how many will be done now that the Environmental Assessment Act has been replaced in this regime. He said 10 to 12. I actually thought he meant 10,000 to 12,000, but he said it was just 10 to 12 for the country. These are incredible changes to our environmental assessment regime. It practically does not exist anymore.

  (1015)  

    There are also all of the changes to consultation, where people now have to be directly affected. What does “directly affected” mean? If I live 10 kilometres downstream, am I directly affected? If I live 100 kilometres downstream, am I directly affected? If I am a scientist living in Vancouver who has expertise about the Douglas Channel, am I directly affected? There is no definition of this, and it completely curtails who can testify and be a party to these hearings.
    In addition to the changes to the Environmental Assessment Act in 2012, there were changes to the Fisheries Act. The Fisheries Act was one of the strongest pieces of environmental legislation that we had here in Canada, because it talked about the protection of fish habitats. If we are going to protect our fish and our fisheries, we have to protect our fish habitat. That makes sense.
    In 2012, the protection of fish habitat was taken out of the legislation. What does that mean?
    An hon. member: Incredible.
    Ms. Megan Leslie: It is incredible, Mr. Speaker. Now we are not protecting fish habitat. We are protecting fish, but not all fish. We are only going to protect fish that we name, and they are going to be fish that are of commercial significance, first nations significance, and recreational significance.
    An hon. member: What about all of the other fish?
    Ms. Megan Leslie: What about the other fish, Mr. Speaker? That is a great question. They are not protected. What about the fish that the protected fish eat? They are not protected. If we talk to anybody at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, they cannot tell us what fish are on the list. It does not exist. They do not know which fish are protected. It is a secret. Secret fish are being protected. Their food stock is not being protected.
    An hon. member: It is a conspiracy.
    Ms. Megan Leslie: It is a conspiracy, Mr. Speaker. We are not protecting fish. We can destroy their food source, we can destroy their breeding grounds, we can have a fish with three heads and that is okay, as long as we do not kill them. We can kill a lot of fish, just not the protected fish that do not exist and that are secret. It makes no sense that we have done this to one of the greatest environmental protections that we had.
    We did a study on terrestrial conservation. Why? We do not want to talk about fish habitat because it agitates the Conservatives when people come and say that it was a bad decision, that we are not going to have a fishery anymore if we do not protect fish habitat.
    We have a very narrow study on terrestrial habitat. The terrestrial habitat conservation in Canada report that came out had no mention of fish habitat. I will say that the New Democrats were crafty. We talked about that liminal space between the terrestrial habitat and the marine habitat, and we managed to get some soggy land in some of the testimony. We asked, “What about that soggy area in between the lakes and the land?” That soggy area can sometimes be fish habitat. We were tricky and we managed to get in some important information about fish habitat.
    We have a supplementary opinion to this report. It is a dissenting opinion that is on the record. It is worth a read. It is two pages. I want to point out that one of the things we said clearly was that there is no greater threat to our ecosystems or barrier to habitat conservation than climate change. There was significant consensus from witnesses on the need to address climate change issues in order to protect our biodiversity, and to design strategies for habitat conservation and the preservation of biodiversity in the context of a changing climate.
    The Conservatives can control the reports. They can control the outcome. They can control what it is that they say happened at committee, but they cannot change committee witness testimony. They cannot change the fact that we had witnesses saying that we need to address climate change if we are going to do anything about habitat conservation in Canada.

  (1020)  

    Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the almost standing ovation from the NDP caucus for the member's speech. We can see that they are quite excited about this issue. However, one could ask why they would not be as excited about the numerous other agenda items that are before us, and the many other concurrence reports.
     That is not to take anything away from the issues of the environment and conservation. Those are very important issues, and I do not question that. I enjoy the opportunity to debate on a wide variety of issues, including this one. However, in going through the many concurrence reports, there are a number of them that are very significant. I would love to see more discussion and debate on concurrence.
    When we think about the environment and conservation, and when it comes to ranking priorities, I wonder if the NDP members feel that this particular motion of concurrence would have been a good opportunity to talk about a very topical issue in Canada today, which is the northern gateway pipeline. Is this something that we should try to facilitate more debate on here today, given the impact it would have on our environment?
     Conservationists are very concerned about this issue. However, I could not help but notice, given how big an issue it is, that the member did not make any reference to it and the impact that it has on conservation here in Canada. The member might want to provide some feedback on pipelines.

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I will answer it, but I first want to get to the point on why I moved a concurrence motion on this topic. Any chance we have to talk about climate change in this House is a chance that I will take. We have a Minister of the Environment who, until I asked her a direct question in the House after her appointment, had never publicly uttered the words “climate change” that we can find on the record. Therefore, I will take any moment I have to talk about climate change, which I think is the most important issue facing us today.
    When I was appointed the environment critic by Jack Layton, I asked what my mandate was. He said, “climate change”. This was the thing I had to work on. It is the most important thing. However, there are other important things going on, and the question about pipelines is relevant.
     One thing I did not talk about in my speech was how agitated the Conservatives get any time someone talks about the Species at Risk Act. It is like they visibly start to twitch, because they do not want to talk about that act, which is directly related to pipelines, and oil and gas exploration generally.
    If we look at the sage grouse, I think there are 12 left in Alberta. Why? It is because they need big spaces to roam, and those big spaces are being interrupted by oil and gas development. If we look at something like pipelines, the fact is that they can bifurcate the existing grazing area of caribou, which is a species at risk. However, the Conservatives do not want to talk about this.
    When we talk about conservation, especially terrestrial conservation, we have to talk about the full ecosystem, which includes animals. I think that we did miss an opportunity to talk about the impact of pipelines on our conservation efforts.
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague for Halifax, in her very eloquent speech on the environment, touched on a link between the existence of species and our existence, such as the fact that certain fish are not listed as protected but they are the food source for other fish. She also mentioned the fact that caribou lands are being threatened, which threatens the existence of caribou, which threatens the existence and livelihood of our first nations brothers and sisters. I would love it if the member could take a moment to expand on that theory.
    Our colleagues from across the way seem to feel that it is okay not to think about the big picture, to just kind of pull a few things that make money out of the works of nature and everything else can go to blazes, as my grandmother would say. I hope that is not unparliamentary language.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Jeanne-Le Ber for his question and also for his incredible advocacy on environment in this House. He stands up for the interests of his constituents. They care very much about the environment, as does he.
    The member brings up a good point, about the fact that it is not about a species. It is not about a tiny tract of land that we can protect. It is about these full ecosystems. As I said earlier, how can we protect a fish if we are not protecting its habitat and if we are not protecting the fish that it eats or its other food sources? There is a chain here, and we have to look at things in this chain, in this holistic way.
    Speaking about fish habitat, we heard very quick testimony at committee during those omnibus budgets on changes to the Fisheries Act. We heard quick testimony. We were sitting until quite late at night. There was a limited amount of time and a limited number of witnesses we could actually bring to testify.
    However, we brought those witnesses. Some of them, representing incredible science-based organizations, said that the answer is no. The answer is not making an amendment to this. The answer is no; this change cannot be made, about protecting fish habitat.
    We did the responsible thing. We moved amendments. I cannot remember how many hundreds, but there were hundreds of amendments. Not one was accepted. Not a single one was accepted. We do our due diligence on this side, but unfortunately the Conservatives are not listening.

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed the passionate speech from my colleague, as well as all the work she does for the environment and with the environment team.
    I wonder if the member could comment on—when we form government in 2015, because the Conservatives are considered an endangered species nowadays—what she would put top of mind, along with climate change?
    I would also like to note that there are a lot of students here and youth in the galleries listening to us. I know environment is very top of mind, preserving our country and making it a better place, making sure we do our best and address climate change.
    I wonder if the member could comment on what she would do as environment minister, potentially, in 2015.
    Mr. Speaker, that makes me a little shy. I thank my colleague for the great work she does, standing up for her constituents here in the House. We sit close to each other, and she talks to me a lot about environment, the hopes and passions of her constituents around the issue of environment.
    In 2015, first up on the endangered species list would be Conservative MPs.
    It is easy enough to talk about some of the big-picture visionary things we would do. For example, we would put a price on carbon; we would bring back the ecoENERGY home retrofit program; we would take that $1.3 billion in subsidies to oil and gas companies, which do not need our help to make money, and we would transfer that money to the new, incredible, innovative start-ups in the green tech industry.
    Why are we subsidizing companies that are making billions of dollars, and not giving that leg up to those great new start-ups in the green tech world that will help us make the transition to the green energy economy?
    Some of this is a little tougher. When it comes to CEAA, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, would we bring back the old bill? There were actually problems with the old bill, so we would make sure we consulted with people, consulted with scientists, and consulted with experts, and took that evidence before we made those decisions.
    It will be tough. Mark my words. Government has done a fantastic job of absolutely gutting our scientific capacity. It is going to be hard. I do not know that we have the scientific capacity right now. We need to start by rebuilding that scientific capacity and then taking that information and actually making changes to legislation.
     The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1110)  

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

(Division No. 221)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hoback
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 133

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Angus
Atamanenko
Aubin
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Dubourg
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Eyking
Foote
Freeland
Garrison
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hughes
Julian
Lamoureux
Latendresse
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
MacAulay
Marston
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Murray
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Péclet
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Ravignat
Regan
Saganash
Sandhu
Scott
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Sullivan
Thibeault
Tremblay
Trudeau
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 85

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    The House will now resume with the remaining business under routine proceedings under the rubric “motions”.

Instruction to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs

    That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs that, during its consideration of Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (enhancing hiring opportunities for certain serving and former members of the Canadian Forces), the Committee be granted the power to expand the scope of the Bill in order to allow members of the RCMP to qualify for the priority hiring program.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak about this important veterans and RCMP veterans issue. I would like to say right at the beginning that I am very fortunate to be sharing my time with the extraordinary member of Parliament for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.
     The government shut down the debate on the environment, and it seems to want to shut down the debate on veterans. The Conservatives should actually be listening attentively.
    An RCMP veteran named Eric Rebiere, from Bath, Ontario, said yesterday that the government is discriminating against veterans by offering different groups of them different benefits packages. The article, which has been carried across the country, says the following: “I feel like a second-class veteran.” This is an ex-Mountie speaking.
    I am just going to read for the record the article itself. It is from Kingston, Ontario, and is dated yesterday. It states:
    A retired Kingston-area RCMP officer is calling for the federal government to stop what he calls "discrimination" between different groups of veterans. Eric Rebiere, whose 24-year career in the federal police force ended in 2006—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, if you could get some order in this House, it would be appreciated.
    I know we just had a vote, and sometimes it takes a few minutes to clear out the room. However, we are on to another item of business. For those of us who need to carry on conversations with a colleague, it would be more respectful to the member speaking to the House if they carried on those conversations outside the chamber.
    The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, I think it would be more respectful to veterans and to former RCMP officers as well.
    Eric Rebiere, whose 24-year career in the federal police force ended in 2006, two years after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after taking part in NATO policing missions in Croatia and Kosovo, said the government should have one standard for all people who served in military operations, including RCMP officers who volunteered for policing missions.“They have created sub-classes of veterans, and that is discriminatory under the (Veteran) Charter”, Rebiere said. “To say we are not veterans is an insult”.
    At a rally on Parliament Hill earlier this month, Rebiere spoke about how the RCMP has for more than a century participated in Canada's military ventures. Like other retired RCMP officers, Rebiere is covered by the Pension Act and receives monthly payments, but can't access many of the programs the Canadian Forces veterans have.
    Eric Rebiere pointed to Section 4 of the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, which requires the ministry to be responsible for “the care, treatment, or re-establishment in civil life of any person who served in the Canadian Forces” and “of any person who has otherwise engaged in pursuits relating to war”.
    What we have also found among veterans themselves is great support among veterans organizations that have felt often under attack by the government. We have seen the closing of so many veterans offices that the cutbacks in services to veterans have been quite appalling. I know on this side of the House that particularly the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant and the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore have been at the forefront in standing and saying that it is unacceptable. What we need to do is put in place a full array of services for our veterans, but that is not what is happening, and veterans are aware of that.
    Even at the Royal Canadian Legion's Dominion Convention in Edmonton on Tuesday, members voted unanimously to amend the Legion's definition of a veteran to include RCMP members and peace officers who serve in special duty areas. There is support from the veterans organizations themselves to say that veterans organizations should include RCMP veterans.
    What the NDP motion of instruction is stating is that we instruct the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs “that, during its consideration of Bill C-27, an Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (enhancing hiring opportunities for certain serving and former members of the Canadian Forces), the Committee be granted the power to expand the scope of the Bill in order to allow members of the RCMP to qualify for the priority hiring program.”
    This is no small thing. As Mr. Rebiere has said so eloquently, RCMP veterans are treated even worse than veterans by the government. It is an appalling state. Just two weeks ago, as I was leaving Parliament Hill to go to the airport to take a flight home, I came across a group of Canadian veterans standing at a table in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street. They were selling T-shirts to raise funds for their services. Look at that picture for just a moment. Because of the Conservatives' slashing and cutting of veterans' services, we have veterans selling T-shirts to try to provide services.
    These are people who put their lives on the line for Canada. These are people who have said that they are willing to do anything to reinforce and defend Canadian democracy, yet Conservatives are forcing them to sell T-shirts to provide for services. I can think of nothing more despicable and nothing more hypocritical than the Conservative government's actions in the cutbacks to veterans' services and the closure of veterans' services offices right across this country. The hallmark of the government is treating our veterans with disrespect, and we see that constantly.

  (1120)  

    They are willing to be there when there is a photo-op. They are not willing to be there when it counts, which is where the NDP is every day in the House of Commons fighting for veterans and saying that veterans have the right to be treated with due respect by the Conservatives and have the right to a full array of services when they have been willing to put their lives on the line for their country.
    In my riding there is a veterans hospital, George Derby Centre. It is another one of the veterans hospitals that have been subject to cutbacks in the services offered to veterans. I see veterans regularly. Some of them are my friends. When I see the cutbacks being put in place and the services not being offered to the same extent they were even a few years ago, it saddens me.
    That is why New Democrats are saying today that we want to engage in a vigorous debate, rather than having the debate shut down, as we just saw happen in the debate on the environment. My seat mate, the member for Halifax, spoke very eloquently about the environment. We wanted to engage the government on the environment, and the government said no, it was not going to talk about the environment in the House of Commons.
     Now we have a debate on veterans' services and on expanding the scope of Bill C-27 to allow members of the RCMP to qualify for a priority hiring program. Our hope is that instead of the government shutting down debate, which is the only thing it seems to be able to do these days, it will actually engage in what is an important debate.
    Mr. Rebiere was very clear that what is needed is the provision of services for RCMP veterans that match the services offered to veterans. New Democrats go even further. We would say that the services offered to veterans need to be expanded and enhanced, and the cutbacks have to stop. It is fair to say that this motion of instruction, if Conservatives are going to be consistent in what they have been saying, should receive the support of the Conservative members of the House so that they provide RCMP veterans and veterans with the full array of services that should be the entitlement of those who have been willing to put their lives on the line for their country.
    When the bill was first introduced, New Democrats said that Bill C-27 simply does not go far enough. It overlooks entire groups of veterans. We thought that in principle, it was a good start, but that is only a first step in providing the full array of services that need to be provided to veterans in this country. We are saying today that we indeed need to expand the purview of Bill C-27 so that RCMP officers are included.
    Eric Rebiere, a 24-year veteran of the RCMP, says that he feels like a second-class veteran. When there are veterans outside Parliament Hill selling T-shirts to try to provide some semblance of service because of the cutbacks by the government in terms of veterans' services, it is fair to say that veterans need to be treated better. That includes RCMP veterans. That is why we are offering the motion of instruction today. We hope it will have the support of both sides of the House so that RCMP veterans are no longer treated like second-class veterans and are included within the scope of Bill C-27.
    Mr. Speaker, the government knows it has let go, either through attrition or outright dismissal, some 47,000 employees from the public service of Canada. Conservatives know that there is a freeze in hiring right now in the federal public service. They know that their existing bill does not meet the same criteria as the bill in the United States, which allows for more preparation and training not just for public service jobs but for private sector opportunities, where so much of the growth is in Canada.
    Can the member help Canadians understand why the government would persist in putting forward what is clearly an incomplete bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Ottawa South for his question. I have worked with him often in committee and I quite like his approach when it comes to legislation. He is aware that this government has botched more pieces of legislation than any other government in Canadian history. It has had more pieces of legislation thrown on the floor of the House of Commons and subject to a record number of closure motions.
    I think the member would perhaps try to defend it, but the former Liberal government, which had nearly 70 motions of closure in the course of its mandate, pales in comparison. This government has had 75, which is why it is being condemned by a number of journalists, saying the government simply does not believe in democratic debate.
    However, the problem is this. The government has had more bills rejected, more shoddy product quality, because the bills it puts in the House of Commons are rejected, certainly by the courts. There has been a record number of rejections by the court. They have also been rejected by Canadians, as my colleague mentioned. The reality is that the government has had to produce more pieces of remedial legislation. That is a product recall. It botches the first bill it puts on the floor, then it has to introduce another bill to fix the errors in the first bill.
    Therefore, my answer to the question from the member for Ottawa South is quite simple. The government does not respect the legislative process and that is why it has botched so many bills. In this case, it means that veterans are going to be more poorly served because the government did not do its homework.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, I respect the theme of my colleague's comments about looking after our veterans and RCMP officers, but I do take issue with the truthfulness of some of the comments he made about supposedly closing offices all over the country. These issues have been dealt with on the basis of expanding the number of services.
    His comments about our cutting back funding for veterans issues are totally untrue. Since 2006, we have added some $5 billion, new dollars, to veterans program services and support for veterans and their families. The rhetoric is really inflammatory when we misinform, miscommunicate, and also convey false information to those who are most vulnerable and most affected by some of these issues pertinent to veterans, their families, and their well-being.
    I will be as crude as he has been with respect to commentary. I would suggest that, if he and his party pay back the $1.17 billion in respect to the misappropriated funds, we could probably do a lot more for veterans and the RCMP.
    The hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster, you have about 45 seconds.
    Mr. Speaker, I have 45 seconds to say this is exactly why veterans say they are being treated with such disrespect. That statement comes from the minister who, a week and a half ago, was running away from Jenifer Migneault, who just wanted to speak to him about the services that her husband, who is a serving member of the Canadian military, was not receiving. All she wanted to do was speak with him, and he ran away. That shows both the arrogance of the government and also its complete lack of respect for veterans.
    In New Westminster, right outside city hall, are the names of two members of my family who gave their lives for our country. I believe, as do all New Democrats, that veterans should be treated with respect, and it should start with this minister. The minister should be—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. The hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would really like to thank my colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster for moving this motion in the House.
    Not that long ago, we voted on a bill that completely overlooked RCMP veterans, who should be included and treated as such. Unfortunately, they are too often forgotten. They were once again completely overlooked in Bill C-27. That was one of our misgivings about that bill. I would like to thank the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster for moving this motion that we had been discussing for a few days.
    Eric Rebiere, an RCMP veteran with 26 years of service, spoke out during an interview with Elliot Ferguson from QMI Agency. He said he was outraged at how services were provided to him and that the government was not treating retired RCMP officers as full-fledged veterans.
    I would like to read my colleague's motion in order to explain it to those watching at home:
    That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs that, during its consideration of Bill C-27, An Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (enhancing hiring opportunities for certain serving and former members of the Canadian Forces), the Committee be granted the power to expand the scope of the Bill in order to allow members of the RCMP to qualify for the priority hiring program.
    RCMP veterans have been completely left out of this bill. This huge gap shows that this bill is incomplete. I am unhappy with another aspect of this bill, which is that it has created even more classes of veterans. There are World War II and Korean War veterans who have access to health care still for some time.
    Ste. Anne's Hospital, near my riding, is destined to be transferred to the province, when it provided very good services to World War II and Korean War veterans. They are obviously aging, and there are fewer and fewer of them. Why not change the eligibility criteria and open this hospital to all veterans? That is what veterans groups are requesting. They say they are all veterans who served under the same flag.
    Why always make classes of veterans who do not have access to the same services and the same health care? It is completely unacceptable that RCMP veterans have been completely left out of Bill C-27. The government should have considered them and stopped this tendency to create classes of veterans. We support the veterans ombudsman, who has been asking for years that the government stop creating classes of veterans and instead place them in a single veterans group. That is the approach we want to take in the House. The official opposition is asking the government to move in that direction, as all veterans and the ombudsman are requesting.
    Mr. Rebiere says that he is absolutely outraged at the way services are provided to RCMP veterans, because they are full-fledged veterans. We are asking that they not be left out, which is what this bill does. They have been completely forgotten, which is why the motion by my colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster asks that they be included.

  (1130)  

    The motion asks to find a way to include RCMP veterans and allow them to qualify for the public service priority hiring program, just as other veterans groups have been included. Mr. Rebiere is left with the impression that the government does not consider retired RCMP officers as veterans. He says he is completely outraged, and rightly so, at being treated like this and never getting the same services as other veterans groups.
    I will read an excerpt from the article. I think it is very important.

[English]

    A retired Kingston-area RCMP officer is calling for the federal government to stop what he calls "discrimination" between different groups of veterans.
    Eric Rebiere, whose 24-year career in the federal police force ended in 2006, two years after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after taking part in NATO policing missions in Croatia and Kosovo, said the government should have one standard for all people who served in military operations, including RCMP officers who volunteered for policing missions.

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    The ombudsman said, and Mr. Rebiere echoed this as well, that RCMP veterans do not get the same services and that is absolutely disgraceful.
    To come back to the subject, Bill C-27 was already incomplete since it followed Bill C-11, for which we had only one or two hours of debate. That bill was incomplete and dropped and then was replaced with this one. We think that Bill C-27 is also incomplete since it completely excludes RCMP officers.
    For an officer like Mr. Rebiere, having access to public service jobs could be very beneficial, which is understandable. He could continue to serve his country in the public service. This would be especially beneficial to those with post-traumatic stress disorder. These are people who are no longer able to work in the military or the federal police service. If they could bring their expertise and skills to the public service, that would be very beneficial. If they also had access to the public service priority hiring program, they could pursue their career.
    That perhaps could have been the case for Mr. Rebiere. The public service actually has a number of jobs for our soldiers and also for RCMP officers, who have been left out of this bill. We are asking the government to agree to our request and find a way to put RCMP officers on the priority list, which, for the time being, is for veterans only. We are hopeful that this bill will pass and come into force very soon. It would be completely unacceptable to exclude RCMP officers. They must also be included so that they can continue their careers. Many are forced to continue serving in the RCMP, without being totally employable and able to effectively serve the public as RCMP officers. They could continue to do so in the public service.
    This is an entirely reasonable request. We are asking the government to vote in favour of this important motion and find a way to also include RCMP officers. In future bills, we will also ask the government to try to limit the number of groups of veterans to only one. We really believe in having only one group of veterans instead of creating divisions and more classes of veterans, as Bill C-27 does. Let us have only one group of veterans. They all served their country in the same way, so why give certain benefits to one group of veterans and forget about the others? That is completely unacceptable. It is fair to treat all groups of veterans equitably and in the same way.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
    First, I would like to speak about cuts. The minister said that there were no cuts, but that is not true. The head office of the Department of Veterans Affairs is located in Charlottetown. This office now has far fewer employees to serve veterans, and the same is true of other offices across the country. It is completely false to say that no cuts have been made.

  (1140)  

[English]

    The question I want to pose is with respect to the view of the government with respect to RCMP veterans. We know there was a class action lawsuit launched by Dennis Manuge against the government with respect to the clawbacks of their disability benefits. We know that at the same time that class action lawsuit was commenced, a companion lawsuit was commenced by RCMP veterans who were in the exact same situation.
    The Conservatives settled the case with Dennis Manuge after they lost at the Federal Court. They refused for months to include the RCMP vets in that settlement and made the them wait for several more months before finally bringing them to the table.
    What does it say about the view of the government with respect to the status of RCMP vets in the eyes of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Government of Canada?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his intelligent question and comments.
    I have the pleasure of being a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, with the member for Charlottetown. He is very knowledgeable about veterans issues, and he made intelligent comments about the cuts to Veterans Affairs Canada. The number of case managers is being cut, and the people who are left in those positions are being given more files. If memory serves, in the recent past, case managers used to handle 35 cases and now they handle about 40. They are responsible for more files and they have less time for veterans. They also have less time to figure out which services veterans are entitled to. In my opinion, veterans have not been receiving very good service in recent years.
    I will now respond to the question about the RCMP. RCMP veterans are treated differently than other classes of veterans. The veterans in the class action law suit initiated by Dennis Manuge won their case, and the government agreed to reduce the disability benefits of those who are receiving retirement pensions. RCMP officers are in the same class. They have also launched a class action suit. However, the government does not want to apply the same rule. RCMP officers continue to be the victims of discrimination, when a settlement was reached in the Dennis Manuge case. This is further proof that the government is treating veterans who were members of the RCMP differently than veterans in other classes. The government is not treating all of our veterans in the same way, and that is completely disgraceful.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    In his speech, he mentioned Ste. Anne's Hospital. We have worked together on matters related to this hospital. This is a very important hospital, located on the West Island of Montreal, between his riding and mine.
    Last weekend, I met with an employee of the hospital. The employees are very concerned about the situation. This is a clear illustration of the government's lack of respect for veterans. Veterans are not being accepted at this hospital, even though we are told that the hospital will shut down services because there are not enough clients. People who would like to have access to the hospital deplore the situation, just as current veterans do. Our veterans are afraid of losing the services they are entitled to.
    I thank my colleague for showing his solidarity with the employees and users of Ste. Anne's Hospital.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question and for the work that she does for veterans and the employees of Ste. Anne's Hospital, who are indeed very concerned about the situation.
    Three years ago, the government announced that the hospital would be transferred to the province, under the pretext that there are fewer and fewer veterans who have access to the hospital, given that it is reserved for World War II and Korean War veterans. Instead, the criteria should be changed to open this hospital to all veterans who might need hospital services.
    In fact, this is an excellent hospital, and I have had the pleasure of visiting it. Veterans receive wonderful, outstanding services there. However, since it is half-empty, the criteria could be changed so that those spots would be available to any groups of veterans who need long-term care. This would be a good alternative to transferring the hospital to the province.

  (1145)  

[English]

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

  (1220)  

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

(Division No. 222)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hoback
Holder
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
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: -- 130

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Angus
Aubin
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brison
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Dubourg
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Eyking
Foote
Freeland
Garrison
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hughes
Julian
Lamoureux
Latendresse
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
MacAulay
Marston
Martin
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Péclet
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Sandhu
Scott
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Sullivan
Thibeault
Tremblay
Trudeau
Valeriote

Total: -- 81

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    Presenting petitions. The hon. member for York South—Weston.

Petitions

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, residents in my riding have continued to register their objection to the loss of home mail delivery by signing a number of petitions that I am tabling today.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to reject Canada Post's plan for reduced services and to explore other options to update Canada Post's business plan.

Cadets  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today.
    The first petition is for the Minister of National Defence concerning the Valcartier cadets and an explosion that occurred in 1974, killing six cadets and injuring some 60 others.
    The petition is signed by a number of residents of Quebec.

[Translation]

    They are calling on the Minister of National Defence to ask the National Defence and Canadian Forces Ombudsman to investigate this situation and to make recommendations to the government on how to help these former cadets.

[English]

    It is an important matter. Permission has been granted.
    The 40th anniversary of this explosion is July 30 of this year.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns Canada Post.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to reject Canada Post's plans for reduced services and explore other options to update the crown corporation's business plan.

  (1225)  

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, I am here to present two petitions on behalf of constituents who are concerned about the lack of tough laws when it comes to drinking and driving.
    The petitioners would like to see tougher laws and the implementation of a new mandatory minimum sentence for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death. In particular, they would like an offence of impaired driving causing death classified as vehicular manslaughter.

Cell Towers  

    Mr. Speaker, the petitions I am presenting to the House today are signed by my constituents in Guelph as well as by Canadians across the country.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to allow cities, local residents, and politicians to make their own decisions when it comes to the installation of cell towers. They are concerned that we still do not fully understand the health impact of emissions. They indicate that there must be advance consultations with residents within a 1,000-metre radius so that the people most significantly impacted can have a say.
    Specifically, the petitioners are asking Industry Canada and the Conservative government to reject proposals for the installation of Rogers Communications cell towers at the intersection of Alma and Crimea Streets in Guelph.
    I look forward to the government's response.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I hold in my hand a petition signed by 1,000 residents of my riding of Scarborough Southwest who are opposed to the cuts to Canada Post.
    The petitioners are opposed to their postal worker neighbours losing their jobs. They are offended at the impact these cuts will have on seniors and people with disabilities.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada and Canada Post to reverse these devastating cuts and find better options so they can keep their home mail delivery.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I have petitions signed mostly by residents of Vancouver.
    The petitioners note that millions of girls have been lost through sex-selective pregnancy termination. They call upon Parliament to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective abortions.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I rise today to table yet another petition regarding the devastating cuts in service and the huge price increases at Canada Post.
    I am pleased to table this petition on behalf of many concerned Canadians.
    I look forward to the government's response.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many signatures it will take for the government to listen.
    I am presenting another petition today signed by hundreds of people who are calling on the government to reverse the decisions made at Canada Post and to find new means to finance this crown corporation instead of cutting services and constantly managing downsizing.

[English]

Emergency Protection Order  

    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present. Two of them are very similar and are with respect to the greater sage grouse in Canada.
    The petitioners request the Government of Canada to rescind this strategy and to rescind the emergency protection order.

Endangered Species  

    Mr. Speaker, I have another petition to present with respect to the Species at Risk Act.
    The petitioners, citizens from right across Canada, ask for the Species at Risk Act to be rescinded and for it to be replaced with something that encourages voluntary implementation.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition with respect to the drastic cuts at Canada Post, which will eliminate door-to-door delivery, close post offices, and drastically increase postage rates.
    The petitioners, who are from Prince Edward Island, indicate that Canada Post is a public service that needs to be protected. They call upon the government to reverse the cuts and to look at ways to innovate.

Citizenship and Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions.
    The first petition is signed by many members of our community on behalf of Jozsef Pusuma and his family. They were human rights activists in Hungary who, due to very poor legal representation, had their case mishandled. They are asking to stay in Canada until the Law Society of Upper Canada continues and finalizes an investigation into the conduct of their lawyer.

Rail Transportation  

    Second, Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by many members of my community who are calling for safer rail cars, especially the DOT-111 cars, in our community. The petitioners want to know what is being transported. They want these cars diverted from our area, if possible.

National Day of the Midwife  

    Third, Mr. Speaker, I have a petition with many signatures. It calls for May 5 to be designated as the National Day of the Midwife in recognition of the tremendous contribution to maternal and newborn health that midwives make.

  (1230)  

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present, on behalf of constituents, a petition whereby they note that an Environics poll has indicated that 92% of Canadians are against pregnancy termination for sex selection purposes.
    The petitioners call upon this House to condemn discrimination against girls caused through gender selection pregnancy termination.

Falun Gong  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.
    The first petition is from literally hundreds of residents throughout Ontario, particularly in the Toronto area, calling for action to protect the human rights of those in China who practise Falun Dafa or Falun Gong. We know that many of them are imprisoned unfairly.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I present a petition from residents of my own constituency on Salt Spring Island. They are asking for the government to reverse itself on Enbridge and on approval of the so-called northern gateway risky pipeline and tanker scheme.

[Translation]

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting petitions protesting the elimination of postal delivery at Canada Post. I do not need to remind members that home delivery will be eliminated in three municipalities in my riding: Lorraine, Rosemère and Bois-des-Filion.
    This same government supports keeping seniors at home, but it is depriving them of this rather essential service. I am presenting these petitions to protest this situation.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by more than 150 Canadians who are opposed to the elimination of mail delivery.
    The elimination of mail delivery in urban areas will affect more than five million households, and the most vulnerable members of society, people with reduced mobility and seniors, will suffer directly.

Mining Industry  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by many of my constituents who are calling on the government to create a legal ombudsman mechanism for mining, to ensure that Canadian mining companies operating abroad are held accountable to local populations.

Canada Post 

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of citizens who are opposed to cuts at Canada Post.
    I should also note that hundreds, if not thousands, of people in my riding have contacted me to say that they are concerned about these cuts. The cuts will have serious consequences, particularly for seniors and people with reduced mobility. I am pleased to be presenting this petition.
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House today to present a new series of petitions. They have been signed by people in my riding, Sudbury, who are opposed to the Canada Post service cuts. This is not the first time I have presented such petitions, and it will not be the last.
    The Conservatives' changes to Canada Post will have a significant impact on people in my riding and across Canada. This is an unfair, unjustified and arbitrary decision.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition with 600 names from people across the Lower Mainland in Vancouver, Surrey, New Westminster, and Burnaby. All of them are protesting the impending service cuts to Canada Post. They are calling upon the Government of Canada to reverse those cuts in services announced by Canada Post and to instead look at innovation within the postal service so that it can be a profitable national delivery service, as is the case in pretty well every other industrialized country. These hundreds of British Columbians are asking the government to reconsider the cuts, stop the cuts, and start offering home delivery service.

Questions on the Order Paper

[Text]

Question No. 498--
Mr. Matthew Dubé:
     With regard to the children’s fitness tax credit, do Canadian Heritage or Sport Canada have studies in their possession measuring the impact that this tax credit has on the level of sports participation among young Canadians and the impact that it has on parents’ decisions to register their children in physical activities that are eligible for the tax credit?
Mr. Rick Dykstra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, to date the Department of Canadian Heritage is not aware of any published studies that measure the impact of the children's fitness tax credit on the level of sports participation among young Canadians and on parents' decisions to register their children in physical activities that are eligible for the tax credit. Members should please note as well that the Department of Canadian Heritage has not conducted any research in this area.

  (1235)  

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 489, 490, 491, 492, and 496 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
     Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 489--
Hon. Carolyn Bennett:
    With regard to the International Upper Great Lakes Study (IUGLS) commissioned by the International Joint Council (IJC): (a) what input or comment did the government provide, through any department or agency, during the comment periods for the two stages of the report; (b) what documents have been produced by any departments or agencies in preparation for or as a result of the IUGLS report, including the date and authoring department or agency of each document; (c) for each year since 2006, what measures have been taken by the government to mitigate falling water levels in the Great Lakes, broken down by department and agency; (d) what measures have been taken by departments or agencies as a result of the recommendations in the IUGLS; (e) what measures are being considered by departments or agencies as a result of, or in relation to, the IUGLS; and (f) what documents have been produced by any department or agency with regard to existing or future economic or environmental impacts of volatile water levels in the Great Lakes basin, including the date and authoring department or agency of each document?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 490--
Ms. Hélène LeBlanc:
     With regard to government funding in the riding of LaSalle—Émard, how much was provided for fiscal years 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, broken down by (i) department or agency, (ii) name of initiative or program and its description, (iii) date, amount and name of recipient?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 491--
Ms. Yvonne Jones:
     With regard to contracts under $10,000 granted by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency since January 1, 2013, for each contract, what is the: (a) vendor's name; (b) reference number; (c) date; (d) description of the services provided; (e) delivery date; (f) original value; and (g) final value if different from the original value?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 492--
Mr. François Choquette:
     With regard to Health Canada’s study on neonicotinoid pesticides: (a) what is the mandate of the study; (b) when will the study be completed; (c) will the results be released publicly and, if so, how will they be released; (d) will the study include public consultations and, if so, (i) with what groups, (ii) where, (iii) when; (e) will the study include case studies and, if so, (i) which case studies will be chosen, (ii) will the case studies cover the decline in the health of insect pollinators; (f) will part of the study include the impact of the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on the decrease in insect pollinators; (g) who will have access to the final report of the study from among (i) the public, (ii) government departments and agencies, (iii) ministers; (h) which (i) groups, (ii) departments (iii) organizations, (iv) scientists, (v) regions, (vi) groupings; (vii) towns, (viii) municipalities, (ix) provinces and territories will be consulted; (i) when determining the scope of the problem, will the study take into account the (i) direct, (ii) indirect, (iii) cumulative impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides; (j) which pesticides will be studied; (k) what impacts will be studied in terms of (i) the economy, (ii) municipalities (iii) communities, (iv) Aboriginal peoples, (v) human health, (vi) animal health, (vii) aquatic flora, (viii) aquatic fauna, (ix) terrestrial flora, (x) terrestrial fauna; and (l) what are the titles of the studies on neonicotinoid pesticides undertaken between 2004 and 2014?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 496--
Hon. John McCallum:
     With regard to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, what is: (a) the number of all positions authorized through Labour Market Opinions, broken down by (i) region, (ii) National Occupation Code; and (b) the number of all temporary foreign workers, broken down by region and National Occupation Code, employed by (i) any government department, (ii) any government agency, (iii) any Crown Corporation?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act

     The House resumed from June 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-6, An Act to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions, be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to speak in the House on behalf of my constituents of Surrey North.
    I know this may be out of order, but I would like to take a couple of seconds to acknowledge my staff who are here today in the gallery. I would like to thank my constituency staff for the wonderful work they do in the constituency. MPs are very busy. We would not be able to do our jobs unless we had our constituency staff to help us out. That is across party lines in the House.
    I have been waiting to speak to this important bill. Last night I was here until midnight, because of the scheduling, and I am here again this morning. It is an opportunity for me to voice my concerns on behalf of the constituents of Surrey North.
    Unfortunately, over and over again throughout this session the government has been moving time allocation motions. It is basically shutting down the debate and prohibiting the opportunity for members of Parliament to represent their constituents and bring their views to Ottawa. That is what we on this side of the House, the NDP members, like to do. We like to bring the views of our constituents to the House so that they can be heard. Unfortunately, this is the 76th time that time allocation has been used.
    Unfortunately, Conservatives do not believe in bringing forward the views of their constituents. Time after time, they do not speak to some of these bills. A number of Conservative members do not speak to these bills. Maybe they do not want to bring the views of their constituents into the House. I believe what we are brought here to do is to represent our constituents. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have failed to do that not only on this bill, but on many other bills that have been introduced in the House.
    There have been 76 time allocation motions. The Conservatives have tried to ram through every bill that has come before us. Omnibus bills containing some 500 pages have been brought into the House and the Conservatives have put time allocation on them. It prevents not only NDP members but Conservative members as well from bringing forward the views of their constituents.
    This bill to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions is important. Cluster munitions are little explosives that are dropped and burst into thousands of mini bombs. They cause great damage, not only when they are dropped, but many years afterward as well. I have seen many times on TV where children are playing with these explosives and they get hurt. Some 98% of those injured by cluster munitions are civilians. People are not only injured during conflicts, but many years after as well. It is the civilians who are impacted the most when cluster munitions are used.
    Canada participated in the Oslo process and worked with other countries to bring forth this convention. This was right after the signing of the treaty to ban land mines which took place in Ottawa. We had an opportunity to bring other countries together to show leadership on this very important issue of cluster munitions, where we could make a real impact around the world and ensure that these kinds of things are not used against civilians, children and women, to make sure that they are not hurt by these explosives. Unfortunately, the Conservative government has failed time after time.
    There was a time when Canadians were viewed around the world as peacemakers. Canadians were viewed as people who would bring the world together. They would negotiate between different countries to bring them together for peaceful purposes. Unfortunately, under the Conservative government, we have seen the deterioration of our reputation around the world.

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    There was a time when Canadians were proud to wear the Canadian flag pin on their lapels. Citizens of other countries would wear the Canadian flag on their backpacks when travelling around the world. We were viewed as a peaceful country that brought people together, instead of what we have seen from the Conservative government, which is divisive and forceful attitudes, and empty rhetoric.
    We have always been viewed as people who have helped countries. We look at the work of CIDA that was done many years ago. We helped poor nations. We helped nations come together. That is where we had our influence. We were out there helping many nations around the world. We had influence. We brought countries together for peaceful purposes.
    Unfortunately, under the Conservative government, we have seen the deterioration in the CIDA funding that we provide around the world. It is now tied to businesses. It is tied more to mining companies or oil companies rather than humanitarian causes for which it was originally intended. That helped us have influence around the world to bring those countries together.
    What has happened over the years? We pulled out of Kyoto. We were supposed to be the leaders in bringing countries together to deal with climate change. I know the Conservatives do not like the term “climate change”. They rarely use it. This morning, the member for Halifax spoke about the environment, and that we should have a debate about the environment. She pointed out that Conservatives rarely use the term “climate change”. There is scientific research behind it, and people all around the world know about it, yet some of the members from the Conservative side do not even want to use the term. They deny there is such a thing as climate change. We had an opportunity to show leadership in that regard.
    The damage to our reputation has been severe. The UN Security Council is very powerful. We have had a seat on it on a rotating basis every year since the UN Security Council was formed, but this year we lost that seat. We did not even run because we knew we would lose to some other country, and we did lose. We did not even ask to be on the Security Council. That is how much damage the Conservative government has done to our reputation around the world. The UN Security Council was a place where we played an important role with all the work we have done as parliamentarians and as Canadians to bring countries across the world together for peaceful purposes. Under the Conservative government, we have lost that seat. That is the record of the government over the last six to eight years, and it has been downhill ever since.
    We had an opportunity with this bill, Bill C-6, to repair some of the damage done by the government. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have failed in this regard. Some of the experts are saying that the Conservatives' legislation to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions is widely recognized as the weakest and worst in the world, that it undermines the very spirit of the convention it is supposed to implement. This is what the world is saying.
    We had a great reputation as peacemakers and world leaders in bringing countries together, but now we have taken some steps backward. Not only did we not ratify the Kyoto agreement, but we also do not have a seat on the Security Council. Now the world is saying that we have an opportunity to be positive and show leadership around the world, and yet this particular legislation on cluster munitions is a step backward.

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    People around the world are saying that this will set a precedent for other countries to also undermine the regulation or banning of these explosive, deadly munitions that hurt people. Again, 98% of the injuries are to civilians.
    Despite the strong opposition of a majority of participatory states and non-governmental organizations, Canada succeeded in negotiating into the final text of the convention an article that explicitly allows for continued military interoperability with non-party states. That is a troublesome issue. That is a very troublesome article that Canada actually championed and negotiated to include in the convention.
    Bill C-6 goes beyond even the interoperability allowance in the convention. The main problem lies in clause 11. We heard this last night, and I am saying it again this morning. I think it is important because clause 11 establishes an extremely broad list of exceptions. We know what happens when there is a broad list of exceptions; it sort of guts the bill. I have used these words before with most of the legislation that the government presents, but we could drive a truck through this legislation which has been so gutted by these broad exceptions.
    In its original form, this clause permitted Canadian soldiers to use, acquire, possess and/or transport cluster munitions whenever they are acting in conjunction with another country that is not a member of the convention, and to request the use of cluster munitions by another country.
    China, Russia and the U.S. are not signatories to the convention. This is where we could have used our influence around the world. We could have brought countries together to persuade the countries that have not signed on to the convention to eliminate and ban the use of cluster munitions. The 98% of the people who are hurt by these munitions are civilians. We could help these people around the world. This is where leadership comes in.
    Time after time the Conservatives have failed not only on the international stage but also on the domestic stage to show leadership in the areas where Canadians want their government to show leadership.
    At the foreign affairs committee, the NDP supported Canadians and international civil society groups in pushing for changes to the bill. We engaged closely with the government, in public and through direct dialogue, to encourage improvements to this legislation.
    We were successful in persuading the government to formally prohibit the use of cluster munitions at least by Canadian soldiers. There was a small give on the part of the Conservatives. However, other loopholes remain. Without amendments to rectify these loopholes, Canada's commitment to ending the use of cluster munitions will be superficial at best.
    Indeed, Bill C-6 may even be damaging, as I pointed out earlier, by establishing an international precedent for opting out and exceptions. Therein lies the problem. The Conservatives entered into the process on the Convention on Cluster Munitions and came back with a whole bunch of exemptions. Exemptions are basically loopholes that allow for cluster munitions to still be used.
     We have seen this over and over. In order for Canada to be a leader on this around the world, we need to close these loopholes. We need to work with other nations, our NATO allies, our Norad allies, and the UN. We need to work with all these international organizations to bring the countries on board so we can look at banning these explosives that hurt civilians, including children, around the world. What do the Conservatives do? They basically leave huge loopholes in the bill and that will not help.

  (1250)  

    As it currently stands, Canada's legislation will be the weakest of all countries that have ratified this convention. Unfortunately, with the government's approach to international issues, where it could take a leadership role and had shown leadership many years ago, it has failed to live up to that leadership. Canadians expect the government to live up to that leadership. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have failed Canadians again. This was an opportunity for them to show that leadership and, again, they failed.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the member's last comments with regard to international leadership. The government has been able to demonstrate leadership on that file. My question is related to the fact that Canada played such a strong leadership role during the 1990s in terms of the land mines treaty. Not only did the Ottawa land mines treaty originate in Ottawa but it was then ratified during Jean Chrétien's era. Liberals demonstrated very clear leadership. Not only did we sign it off, but it was passed through the House unanimously, from what I understand.
    My question is this. Does the member recognize that the government has not been able to get unanimous support from the House of Commons, which demonstrates a deficiency, and it also took so many years to bring it before us in the House today?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have not shown leadership on this issue. The member always talks about the Liberal leadership. Canadians know what leadership Liberals have shown. They are sitting in that corner with the little group and Canadians have told them what they have done.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Surrey North for his very eloquent remarks about this bill on cluster munitions and the failure of the government to live up to the promise of many international treaties. Just today, I introduced a motion calling on the government to sign the Marrakesh treaty so that people who are visually impaired can get access to these documents.
    Can the member comment on the importance of signing treaties like the Marrakesh treaty?
    Mr. Speaker, those are the kinds of things we need to do. The Conservative government has failed. In 2015, New Democrats will take those initiatives to bring honour back to Canada.
    It being 12:54 p.m., pursuant to an order made on Monday, June 16, 2014, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the third reading stage of the bill now before the House.
     The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The 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): Pursuant to an order made on Tuesday, May 27, 2014, the division stands deferred until later this day at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

  (1255)  

Rouge National Urban Park Act

Hon. Ed Holder (for the Minister of the Environment)  
    moved that Bill C-40, An Act respecting the Rouge National Urban Park be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
    Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour and a privilege for me to speak in support of the bill to establish Rouge national urban park in the greater Toronto area. This park celebrates and protects, for current and future generations, a diverse landscape in Canada's largest metropolitan area. It offers engaging and varied experiences. It inspires personal connections to its natural beauty and rich history and promotes a vibrant farming community. In close proximity to 20% of Canada's population, the park includes more than 10,000 years of rich human history.
    The national park would increase the size of the regional park by 25%, making it more than 13 times the size of Stanley Park in Vancouver and 16 times the size of Central Park in New York.
    As Canada's first ever national urban park, the Rouge offers an unprecedented opportunity to support all three priorities of our government's national conservation plan: to connect Canadians to nature and to restore and conserve the parks' ecosystems and cultural resources.
    We can all be proud that this legislation would create a remarkable new entity, one located within Canada's largest and most culturally diverse metropolis. This vast area would be an extraordinary mix of natural, cultural, and agricultural lands. Given its close proximity to one-fifth of Canada's population, the park would be easily accessible for people in the greater Toronto area.
    This legislation would establish the Rouge national urban park as a new model of protected area in Canada. The park owes its very existence to local visionaries and stewards, citizens, organizations, governments, and countless volunteers. Our government is proud to pay tribute to the nearly 30 years of hard work and determination in building one of the largest urban parks in the world. We also want to acknowledge the over 100 provincial, municipal, aboriginal, and community stakeholders, and thousands of members of the public, who contributed to the vision and plans for Canada's first urban national park.
    As hon. members will observe, the bill provides a new framework that would enable Parks Canada to manage the park's natural, cultural, and agricultural resources and to recognize the opportunities and challenges that its urban context brings. Home to nearly 1,700 species of plants and animals, several of which are rare or threatened, Parks Canada would apply its world-leading expertise in conservation and restoration and work with partners to ensure Rouge's ecosystems, plants, and animals are cared for, maintained, and restored for present and future generations.
    The Rouge national urban park act would provide broad regulatory powers to address all aspects of park management. A flexible management approach is needed to meet future infrastructure. The minister of the environment, through Parks Canada, would be able to protect and present this unique place that encompasses deep river valleys and glacial features, thousands of species of plants and animals, farmlands, archeological resources, built heritage, and cultural landscapes.
    I want to emphasize that the park's tradition of agriculture is a unique feature among Canadian protected heritage areas. The presence of working farms would be integral to the future success of this park. People would continue to live and work on the park's agricultural landscape, as many families have done since the late 1700s. The national urban park status would also bring a new sense of security to the park farming community. Parks Canada would become the landlord of all existing leases on transferred lands and is working closely with the farming community to develop a lease structure that supports long-term farming. There is a real potential for visitors to connect with farming as it exists now, as well as opportunities for new types of farming to serve the growing and increasingly diverse population of the greater Toronto area.
    The legislation would ensure that all these natural, cultural, and agricultural landscapes are protected and managed in an integrated way to the benefit of Canadians, now and for generations to come. In fact, the bill would give the Rouge the highest level of ecological protection it has ever had. The management plan would permit the minister to present a comprehensive conservation approach. This would be based on the most up-to-date science expertise and experience, drawn from the entire system of national protected areas.
    The approach to management planning would strive to maximize the ecosystem health of the park by maintaining and restoring its native Carolinian and Mixedwood Plains forests, and wetland meadow and aquatic ecosystems. The approach to the ecosystem health envisioned in the bill for the Rouge would take into account the park's increasingly urban surroundings and the working farms, roads, rail lines, and hydro corridors. The bill recognizes that this dynamic urban and agricultural context has long driven change, both within and around the park, and it would continue to do so.

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    The agency would therefore manage the park, but in an adaptive way, maximizing ecosystem health in these ever-changing conditions. Working with people living next to and in the park would be an essential component of the management approach. The park lessee community and the park stewardship volunteers would play an important role in maintaining ecosystem health, visitor experience, and cultural heritage.
    Our government's long-standing commitment to first nations involvement in protected heritage places would also play an important role in this park. The new status for the Rouge would facilitate first nations celebrations of their historical roots in this park. The bill contains a provision that would respect traditional renewable resource harvesting activities by aboriginal people. The bill would also respect the rights of aboriginal people in the event of any future agreement for the settlement of land claims.
    As the House knows, our government made a commitment in the 2012 budget to invest more than $143 million over 10 years and $7.6 million annually thereafter to make Rouge national urban park a reality. This is a commitment we reasserted in the 2014 budget.
    Among other things, this investment would make possible a protected area that is both larger and more strategically situated than the existing park. Increasing the park's size would also help advance the goal of connecting Lake Ontario and the Oak Ridges Moraine.
    Moreover, with the creation of the Rouge national urban park we would expand the level of experiences that visitors have in the park. Residents of the greater Toronto area and all Canadians would be able to explore more areas of the larger park. This might inspire them to visit more of Canada's heritage places.
    As I mentioned earlier, the creation of the Rouge national urban park supports Canada's national conservation plan. I would like to take a few minutes to explain how this plan will work.
    The plan responds to a clear message from Canadians that they care deeply about the natural environment and want to enjoy and conserve it for future generations. The plan aligns and bolsters conservation efforts across this country. It protects the environment while supporting a growing economy and makes concrete and tangible progress to conserve and restore Canada's lands and waters and connect Canadians to nature.
    The launch of the plan is an opportunity to continue to work together to conserve Canada's rich natural heritage. Many Canadians are already working to conserve and restore Canada's lands and waters. This includes all levels of government, aboriginal groups, environmental organizations, and the private sector, as well as many Canadians at the local level including landowners, land managers, community groups, and individuals across our great country.
    The national conservation plan celebrates collective efforts to conserve the environment. It also invests $252 million toward concrete and targeted actions on conservation. This investment over five years will support and expand successful initiatives, and also broaden work through new activities.
    The plan built on the announcement on the 2014 budget including measures to invest in national parks, conserve recreational fisheries, encourage donations of ecologically sensitive land, and expand recreational trails. The national conservation plan's vision is to contribute to a stronger Canada, a country that cares about the conservation of its national heritage and where citizens can enjoy the beauty of Canada's environment from coast to coast to coast.
    The plan focuses on action across three priority areas: conserving Canada's lands and waters, restoring Canada's ecosystems, and connecting Canadians to nature.
    The first priority, conserving Canada's lands and waters, aims to safeguard and enhance biodiversity and ecosystems through conservation and stewardship actions.
    The second priority is about restoring degraded ecosystems. Once restored, these ecosystems provide clean water and habitat for wildlife and are essential for the protection and recovery of species at risk. The plan also includes $50 million in funding to expand support for landowners, aboriginal communities, agricultural producers, conservation and community groups, and other partners to voluntarily implement measures to restore and conserve essential habitat and vulnerable species.
    Stakeholders have reiterated that voluntary conservation and stewardship efforts are critical to achieving Canada's conservation objectives. These restoration actions complement existing efforts by the federal government such as the cleanup of contaminated sites.

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    With this in mind, the national conservation plan's third priority is to connect Canadians to nature. This work will leverage existing successful initiatives to help foster an appreciation for nature and build a community of stewards among Canadians of all ages.
    Investments of $9.2 million will be made to improve public access to protected areas and green spaces, focusing on those areas located in and near cities.
    To conclude my remarks, the creation of this unique park, the Rouge park, will be another milestone in our government's renowned history of heritage protection. Since we formed government, we have created two national marine conservation areas, three marine protected areas, three national wildlife areas, one national historic site, and two national parks. This does not include the Rouge national urban park.
    It also does not include the bill we tabled last week in the House to create the Nááts’ihch’oh national park reserve in the Northwest Territories.
    We have done more than any other government. In fact, the total area of lands we have protected in this area is more than twice the size of Vancouver Island.
    The Rouge park's urban setting would offer exciting unprecedented opportunities and would connect Canadians to nature, culture, and agriculture. Nowhere is there greater opportunity to showcase and share our natural and cultural heritage than the greater Toronto area, which is home to millions of urban, new, and young Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker it is an exciting idea to create a national park in an urban space. I have been waiting for this legislation, because it has been promised for a while. I have to say I have been waiting for the speech, because the bill was just tabled on Friday, the departmental briefing was yesterday, and I have not even had time to do a proper analysis of the bill; so I was really looking forward to the speech today to figure out some details about it.
    I am very disappointed that the minister is not the first to speak to this. I am also disappointed that more than half the speech was about the conservation plan and not about this park.
    I have so many questions, but this is the question that I would love to have answered right now. We have a National Parks Act that says, “Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity...shall be the first priority of the Minister...”.
    The Ontario Parks Act, where this park is located, says that these areas “...shall be managed to maintain their ecological integrity...”.
    The Rouge Park management plan says “The vision of the park has, as its primary focus, the continuing health and integrity of natural systems and habitats....in protecting the ecological integrity of the Rouge River watershed.”
    The bill before us says, “The Minister must...take into consideration the protection of its natural ecosystems...”. How is taking consideration of a natural ecosystem actually going to fulfill the focus of all these other policies and pieces of legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed that the critic for the NDP did not take the time to actually read the bill. As she said, it was tabled on Friday. As she quite rightly stated, there was a briefing yesterday, and unfortunately, she could not make the time to attend that. The answers to her questions would have been in there. If she had listened to my speech, she would have actually heard that the bill would provide the greatest protection that the Rouge has ever had in its history.
    One of our priorities is to make sure we protect our environment for our future. As I said in my opening remarks, this has been a 30-year task. It has been 30 years in the making between all levels of government, and I must say, I am very pleased and I am very thankful for all levels of government—federal, provincial, and municipal—and all the stakeholders who have come together to make this a reality.
    This is truly a historic moment for Canada. This is a unique park that is the first one in an urban area. It is a model, and it would be treated slightly differently because of the realities that are presented in the park. For example, there are things called highways. That is called development. There are things called hydro corridors. There are things called railways. These are developments that are in place.
    Unfortunately, the NDP, instead of being known as the New Democratic Party, is now being known as the no development party, because it seems New Democrats are against everything.

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the Government of Canada has a talent for turning what should be a good news story into a dubious, suspicious story about which Canadians have questions.
    Frankly, I join with the member for Halifax in saying that the Conservatives could have done this in a fashion so people could have read it in advance, and they just possibly could have got more support than they presently have, because all they do is raise suspicions.
    The first question comes out of clause 4, which is how the park is established. It says that one is supposed to go to the schedule of the lands that are being transferred, so one goes to the schedule of the lands that are being transferred, but there are actually three little squibs of land in Markham, hardly amounting to an acre or two of land, which are actually being transferred. However, according to the presentation the hon. member made, we would be getting 58 square kilometres, which some people argue is even less than it should be.
    Nevertheless, what is actually being transferred right now is three little squibs of land. Therefore, when Parliament passes the bill, that is all we would have. There is a heck of a lot of land to be transferred from the Province of Ontario, the municipalities, the TRCA, et cetera before this is actually anywhere close to reality.
    Why present the bill now when you actually have no land, when the bill could have been presented when you actually had land to transfer—
    Order. I do not know how many times I have said this, but hon. members need to address their comments to the Chair rather than directly to their colleagues.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the critic for the Liberal Party. At least he took the time to attend the briefing yesterday. However, I do believe his question was answered at the briefing.
    The member may or may not be aware that when transferring lands from different levels of government, the process requires something to transfer them to. As I have said, we have got agreement with different levels of government to move forward in this way. The member is correct in that once the act were passed, there would be a certain amount of land, and once there were an official entity to which to transfer the lands, then the other levels of government and other entities would be able to transfer this way.
    As I said, one of the things we should be very proud of is that this would be 25% bigger than the area that is there now, and it would be a parcel of land 16 times greater than the size of Central Park in New York City. This is historic. Unfortunately, it has taken a long time.
    I agree with the member's former leader, Mr. Ignatieff, who said when it comes to the environmental files, “We didn't get it done.” This is other proof that the Liberals did not get it done. We are getting it done for Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, recently, the Prime Minister launched the national conservation plan. I wonder if the hon. parliamentary secretary could explain how the creation of the Rouge national urban park would support this particular plan.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for the question and also for all the good work he does in his community. He lives in one of the most beautiful places in Canada, and he is very committed to conserving Canada's environment.
    The Rouge national urban park would support the key pillars of the national conservation plan by taking practical action to connect Canadians to nature, restore Canada's ecosystems, and contribute to the conservation of Canada's lands and waters. Situated close to 20% of Canada's population, the park would provide a great place for Canadians to connect with nature, culture, and agriculture without having to travel far from home.
    This park, as I said in my speech, has about 1,700 species of plants and animals, several of which are rare or threatened. Parks Canada would apply its world-leading expertise in conservation and restoration and work with partners to ensure Rouge's precious ecosystem, plants, and animals are cared for, maintained, and restored for present and future generations.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, I share our critic's dismay that the minister was not here, because there are some important questions to ask her about letters that local groups have sent and to which they are still waiting for a response.
    My question is very specific and it has to do with one of the driving forces in the creation of Rouge Park, which is the Friends of the Rouge Watershed.
    Jim Robb, the general manager of Friends of the Rouge Watershed said that his group and others have asked the Government of Ontario not to transfer Ontario's lands, which amount to about two-thirds of the park, until standards of past Rouge Park plans are met, because the current plan that the government is putting forward is not even as good as the last one. He is quoted as saying that, “The park they’re proposing is actually not as good as the park they already have.”
    I would like to hear the parliamentary secretary respond to Mr. Robb's questions about why the government's current plan is not even as good as the park we have there now.
    Before I go to the parliamentary secretary, just to clarify, for a member to reference that someone did or did not speak to something is acceptable, because that is a matter of public record. However, to make reference to the fact that someone was or was not here is not. I understand that is a subtle distinction, but that is the rule.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, again the premise of the member's question is incorrect. If he had listened to my speech, he would have heard that what we are putting forward would offer the most protection that this area has ever been given.
    There appear to be certain single-focus groups out there that may or may not have some misunderstanding of what exactly is going on with the new act. The individual he mentioned did take the time to come down and was there on Monday. I had the opportunity to speak with him, and I will be meeting with him in the near future to help answer many of the questions.
    I am very pleased that all of these different groups have done a lot of good work to make this day happen. It is unfortunate that the NDP, the no development party, would even be against the development of the Rouge Park in the way it has been agreed upon. This is a historic agreement. All levels of government and all stakeholders are happy about it. The only people who are not, I guess, are the members of the opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to speak to Bill C-40, and I thank the minister for bringing it forward. The name of my constituency is Scarborough--Rouge River. The Rouge River and the largest piece of the current Rouge Park are in my constituency.
    We are excited about this legislation, but we have some concerns. When I say we, I am referring to myself and thousands of activists who have worked for over 35 years in the community to create the current Rouge Park. We have called for national protection of the park and national park status. It started many decades ago with people literally sitting down on these lands and hugging trees. Conservatives do not like tree huggers and environmentalists, but these people feel they have to protect the park's natural habitat.
    Rouge Park is the northern most point of the mixed woodlands and the Carolinian forest. Activists on the ground felt they had to protect this land from being handed over to developers who might plan to build condos.
    I am privileged to have this park in my community. Many of my constituents have the luxury of living with the Rouge River, or the Duffins Creek or Rouge Creek running along their backyards.
    The minister has shown concern about who has read the bill and who has not. I have the bill in my hand and I have read it.
     My first concern about the legislation is with respect to the section dealing with management of the park and factors to be considered with the management of the park. Clause 6 says, “The Minister must, in the management of the Park”, and this is the concerning part, “ take into consideration the protection of its natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes”.
    This clause looks like it makes sense on the first reading of it. It looks like it is a responsible measure. However, the language is weak compared to the existing legislation, which has stronger language.
    Let me read section 8(2) of the existing Canada National Parks Act. It states:
     Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks.
    I note the words “shall be the first priority”. This is far stronger language than what is in Bill C-40, which is “take into consideration” the protection of natural ecosystems.
    Let us look at the Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act. section 6, which reads:
    Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves are dedicated to the people of Ontario and visitors for their inspiration, education, health, recreational enjoyment and other benefits with the intention that these areas shall be managed to maintain their ecological integrity and to leave them unimpaired for future generations.
    The important words here are “shall be managed to maintain their ecological integrity”. Let us compare that with what is proposed in the new bill, which states “take into consideration the protection of natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes”.
    The Canada National Parks Act states “shall be the first priority”. In the Provincial Parks Act it is “shall be managed to maintaining ecological integrity”. In the proposed bill it is “take into consideration”.
    The Conservative government, under the guise of this bill, “an act respecting the Rouge national urban park”, somewhere refers to making life better for everybody in the country as well. That is what the Conservatives do with omnibus bills. I am joking. I have actually read the whole bill, and it does not talk about the economic action plan once, which is pretty awesome because the Conservatives usually like to talk about immigration, economic action and job creation in every bill. That does not happening with this one. I congratulate the government for not making this an omnibus bill about 75 different pieces of legislation.

  (1320)  

    However, what the government is doing is weakening the protection of my and the people's park in Scarborough. That is what I do not like to see, especially because so many people have worked for so long to create this park and to protect it.
    Just this past year, I have taken groups of schoolchildren and community activists to plant more trees and bushes in this park. We did it to ensure the sustainability and ecological viability of it. We have planted spruce, dark cherry, and bushes. We have taken students and gone in and removed invasive species that are not naturally occurring in this area, so the trees, bushes, and plants can actually thrive.
    Activists and people who care about this park are the wardens of it. We are the ones who take care of it. I and my constituents in Scarborough—Rouge River want to ensure that the park has higher protection through the creation of national park status, rather than disintegrating the quality of it.
    I can read more from the Rouge Park management plan of 1994, which was cabinet approved, by the way. The cabinet-approved the Rouge Park management plan in 1994. I will read excerpts from sections 6.1 and 10.3.
     Section 6.1 reads, “The vision of the park has, as its primary focus, the continuing health and integrity of natural systems and habitats.”
    Section 10.3 reads, “protecting the ecological integrity of the Rouge River watershed”.
    Once again these are stronger words than “take into consideration the protection”.
    Section 3.2.1 of the Greenbelt plan says:
    The Protected Countryside contains a Natural System that provides a continuous and permanent land base necessary to support human and ecological health in the Greenbelt and beyond...support biodiversity and overall ecological integrity.
    All of this is much stronger than clause 6 of the bill, which states “take into consideration the protection of its natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes and the maintenance of its native wildlife and of the health of those ecosystems”.
    Let us look at clause 4 of the bill, which is on the establishment of the park. The minister wrote or oversaw the writing of this bill. It is funny because the bill lists the purposes of the creation of the Rouge national urban park and the first thing identified is protection. However, when it goes into the implementation and the factors to be considered in the management of the park, there is weak language.
     Let me read part of clause 4. It says:
    Rouge National Urban Park...is established for the purposes of protecting and presenting, for current and future generations, the natural and cultural heritage of the Park and its diverse landscapes, promoting a vibrant farming community and encouraging Canadians to discover and connect with their national protected heritage areas.
    Once again, the government talks about protection, but in reality it weakens the protection for the park.
    I would like to talk a bit about the responses since the bill has been tabled. We know that the idea of the creation of Rouge national urban park was mentioned in a couple of throne speeches. It got us all excited in the community, but then we saw there was no real financial commitment. We pushed and pushed and we saw some financial commitment, which is great. We then saw that somebody from Parks Canada had been assigned.
    We thought the community would have a say in the creation of what we wanted to call “the people's park”. I remember that at the first public consultation, as it was called, which happened at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, the member of Parliament who had the largest piece of the current Rouge Park in their riding was not invited. That was me.

  (1325)  

    My constituency is home to the largest piece of the Rouge Park. However, when the government was holding public consultations, I was not even invited. I forced myself in to ensure I was there. This is the people's park. Did the Conservatives say that it is about consideration for future generations? I was the youngest person in the room, and I was not even invited. I make sure that my opinions, the opinions of my constituents, and the opinions of those who have been activists on the ground were brought forward at that meeting.
    The whole idea of “the people's park” came from that first consultation. I know we will probably hear Conservative members say that there was plenty of consultation, but if we speak to residents who live in the vicinity of the park, they will not even know that these consultations took place because not much notice was given to them. There needs to be a thorough inclusion of the constituents who will be affected in the area surrounding this park.
    Recently, since the tabling or announcement of this bill in the House on June 13, CPAWS, which is the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, has issued a quick reaction to the tabling of this. I want to read a excerpt from the group's reaction. It says:
    CPAWS recognizes and supports the importance of Rouge National Urban Park in connecting urban Canadians to nature and encouraging them to become nature stewards. It is imperative, however, that conservation is prioritized in the park’s legislation and management plan to ensure this remarkable natural area and its wildlife are not “loved to death” over time. Putting nature conservation first is also consistent with the international definition and guidance for protected areas.
     On first glance, it’s not clear if the Bill accomplishes this as it only requires the Minister to take the health of park ecosystems and wildlife “into consideration” in park management. We also note there is very little information provided about how agriculture will be managed in the park.
     The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is concerned about the weak protection of the conservation of the park. It is the same point I mentioned about clause 6 of the bill, which states, “take into consideration the protection”.
     The second issue the group identified was the agriculture in the area. We know that within the park boundaries, much of the land is leased to people for private interests. A lot of the agriculture and farming that happens in the parklands is cash-cropping. We know there is usage of pesticides, a concern for many environmentalists, activists and neighbours.
     Residents whose water is drawn out of the watershed and who take their children to walk in the park are concerned about pesticides being used in a soon to be nationally protected park. That is a problem. We need to ensure that the agricultural development and investments in this community are done in a way that is sustainable. Also, we should be supporting organic farming or local community farming in Rouge Park. We want it to be known as “the people's park”.
    I want to mention one other item. The parliamentary secretary mentioned that a lot of consultation was done and that this was the largest the park could be. We know that is not true because this park can be 100 square kilometres. What is being proposed is that it would be North America's largest urban park. Central Park is the largest as of now. We are going to make it bigger than that.

  (1330)  

    It is an historic moment for this country's national parks. I agree. However, why do we not make it the best park it can be? Why does it have to be a mediocre one?
    I want to read from a motion from the city of Toronto. The city council actually passed a motion. It was passed unanimously by the city councillors who were present. I will quote from the recommendations with respect to what Toronto city council wanted to make sure was respected and conserved in Rouge national park. City council wanted to encourage the federal government to:
    Ensure that the concept, legislation and management plan for Rouge National Urban Park respects, strengthens and implements the vision, goals and objectives of the City approved Rouge Park Plans (1994 and 2001) and current Toronto Official Plan, the Provincial Greenbelt Plan (2005) and the Rouge Natural Heritage Action Plan (2008); including incorporating the existing park vision
    This is the current park vision:
     the Rouge National Urban Park will be a special place of outstanding natural features and diverse cultural heritage in an urban-rural setting, protected and flourishing as an ecosystem in perpetuity. Human activities will exist in harmony with the natural values of the Park. The Park will be a sanctuary for nature and the human spirit
    That sounds fabulous. I have so much more to say. The recommendations go on to say:
    Respect conservation science, good planning principles and long term park ecological health and visitor potential, by including the 100+ km2 public land assembly within the Rouge and Duffins Creek watersheds as part of the Rouge National Urban Park study area;
iii. Ensure restoration of a large mixed-wood and Carolinian forest habitat system linking Lake Ontario to the Oak Ridges Moraine with public parkland and trails; and
iv. Include First Nations and other respected conservation NGOs on the Rouge National Urban Park Advisory Board.
    The motion was passed unanimously by city council.
     How does it make sense to create legislation to create Canada's first national urban park but to also push forward and support a pipeline that goes through this park, and then, to make this even worse, to not protect the main waterway that goes through this park and has the pipeline cutting across it? How does that make sense?
    I put forward one of my private member's bills, Bill C-532, an act to amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act (Rouge River), to ensure that the Rouge River, from end to end, is a protected waterway so that the pipeline that cuts across it does not actually pollute the waterway, which is the main waterway for this entire Rouge park. It goes into the tributaries, the Little Rouge Creek, and the underground water tables.
    How is it that the government seems to think it makes sense when creating a national urban park, and saying that it is protecting it with the most protection it has ever had in its history, to not protect the largest waterway that cuts through this park? The government supports having an oil pipeline that cuts through the park.
    For about two years, there was exposed pipeline in the park. It took Enbridge, or the company that went to fix it, two weeks to set up to access the pipeline to fix it. Imagine if there were a disaster.
    There are pieces in the bill about spills—
    Hon. Kevin Sorenson: Have you ever been to the park?
    Mrs. Cathy McLeod: Jasper. What about Jasper?
    Hon. Kevin Sorenson: Jasper.
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: Oh, Mr. Speaker, a Conservative member is heckling me and asking if I have been to the park. Of course I have. I go there and plant trees and bushes, and I take care of that park. I personally take care of Rouge Park.
    Mr. Robert Sopuck: I want to see deer.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am one of the stewards of this park, and that is why I am saying that this bill is a good start, but we need to make sure we are protecting this park and making it the best park it can be.
    Mr. Speaker, I was listening attentively to the presentation by my colleague. I have heard a lot of misinformation presented to the House regarding the park. She said she participates in many activities in the park. Unfortunately, I have not seen her very much. I go there. I live in the park.
    I would like to ask my colleague if there is a difference between a national park and an urban national park. Does she think Highway 401 should not be in Rouge Park, that the 401 should be destroyed, and that they should block the entrance to the park to everyone but the NDP? I would ask her to tell me, please.
    Mr. Speaker, it is really funny that the member would say that he does not see me in the park, because the one or two times he has been to the park, I was there. I do not understand what he means. However, it does not matter. Let us not talk about what he does or does not do. I want to talk about the park.
    The park is very important to me. He says that I was giving misinformation here. I was reading from existing legislation. I was reading from the Canada National Parks Act, the Provincial Parks Act, the Rouge Park Management Plan, and the Greenbelt Plan. I was reading from the motion from city council, from a release that CPAWS put out, and from the legislation itself. The member said he was listening very hard. Maybe he missed the parts I quoted from the existing legislation and the legislation that is before us.
    After he attacked and said I do not spend time in Rouge Park, which is a joke, he asked about the difference between a national park and an urban national park and if I feel the park does not need highways. My vision for this park is that it will be one that conserves and protects the natural habitat and ecosystems of this park while allowing the residents of the area to enjoy the park. It also means making sure that there is not a large oil spill and that the water system is protected.

  (1340)  

    Before I go to questions and comments, I would remind all hon. members that they should wait until their colleagues are finished their questions before standing. Standing up before their colleagues are finished does not increase your chances of being recognized; in fact, it decreases your chances of being recognized.
    The hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member about her participation in Rouge Park activities. Those who have been active in the last 25 years, groups like Save the Rouge Valley System, Friends of the Rouge Watershed, Lois James, Derek Lee, a former colleague, Pauline Browes, a former colleague of members opposite, and a whole variety of others appear not to be involved in, or have been specifically excluded from, the management plan of the park. I wonder whether she could comment on their apparent treatment.
    Mr. Speaker, Lois James is known as the grandmother of the park, and the Friends of the Rouge Watershed are the ones who take care of a lot of the tree planting in the area. The activists and community members who care seem to be left out. Who was invited to the announcement about the Rouge Park legislation? All of the Conservatives' friends were invited to it, it seemed, but Friends of the Rouge Watershed was not. My office did not get notice that they were going to be making an announcement about it.
    Of course, the announcement was made in Markham, but we know that Rouge Park affects multiple ridings in the area, and we need to make sure that we work together for the creation of Canada's first urban national park. People like the grandmother of the park, Lois James, need to be included in at least the visioning of it.
    Order, please. While the Chair appreciates the assistance of hon. members in this place, it is in fact the responsibility of the Chair to try to manage the clock. I know it is getting near the end of the session, but interruptions and interventions from the floor are more likely to delay the business of this House rather than expedite it.
    Questions and comments. The hon. member for Scarborough Southwest.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by commenting on the heckling from the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette when he was talking about wanting to see the deer in the park.
    Deer are one of 27 mammal species in the park. There are 55 fish species, 19 reptile and amphibian species, and 762 plant species. Over a quarter of Ontario's flora can be found in the park, as well as 225 bird species, including 123 breeding species. Therefore, there is a lot to see in the park beyond deer.
    I want to ask my hon. colleague about the absolute negligence of the changes that were made to the Navigable Waters Protection Act by making sure—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The hon. member across the way referred to me as making a comment, and I have yet to speak today, so I would ask him to retract it.
    On the same point of order, the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest.
    Mr. Speaker, I was commenting on heckling by the member when he was not recognized by the Chair, not on a comment he made when he was. Maybe he might want to wait until he is recognized before he speaks up.
    My question to my hon. colleague was about the negligence in the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that mean that there will not be stop valves placed on both sides of the line 9 pipeline when the reversal is made and why that could lead to potential spills down the road.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Scarborough Southwest is correct.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: Mr. Speaker, would you like me to continue over these hecklers?
    You have your own members heckling.
    Order, please. Could all hon. members speak when they have the floor and refrain from doing so when they do not? If there is a discussion that needs to take place, members are obviously free to leave the chamber and do it outside the chamber.
    The hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you. I very much appreciate your getting the House to order.
    My colleague from Scarborough Southwest is correct in stating that Rouge Park is home to many endangered species. I can list a lot too. It is home to 70 species of trees, 27 species of reptiles, and 20 species of amphibians. More rare species of plants and animals are within Rouge Park than in any other region in Canada. That is not me saying that. That is from research done by the Canadian Environmental Law Association.
    To answer the question my hon. colleague asked, which was about the protection of the waterway and the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act that were brought forward by the Conservative government in one of its many omnibus bills, they actually makes it not safe. It was probably in a budget bill. I really do not remember. The changes ensure that the Rouge River, which is the main waterway in Rouge Park, is not a protected waterway. There is a pipeline going through it, and we need to make sure that there are protective measures and that there are valves on each side of the river to stop the flow into the waterway.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest. I know that the New Democratic Party is anti- pipelines going anywhere. I do not know if the member is aware, but the Kinder Morgan pipeline goes through our beautiful Jasper National Park, and has for many years. I do not think there is anyone in the House who would say that Jasper National Park is not a phenomenal treasure. The Kinder Morgan pipeline supplies 90% of the gas to the Lower Mainland. It has gone through my riding for many years.
    I would ask the member this. Is she saying that Jasper National Park is less of a park because it has a pipeline that has gone through it safely for over 60 years and that pipelines and protected and treasured areas cannot coexist?
    Mr. Speaker, I have not had a chance to visit Jasper National Park, so I look forward to visiting it one day.
    Every single one of our national parks in this country is a treasure. Every single one needs to be protected. We need to ensure that every single one is ecologically sustainable and that its habitat is protected. I'm saying this should happen for every single park; I am not saying that one park is more important than the other.
    However, for me, Rouge Park is going to be the most important because it is in my backyard. It is the park I go to most frequently, because it is my park. It is the park where I go to hang out. It is the park where I run and go for a walk. Hopefully, someday I will take my children or grandchildren to that park.
    However, if it is not protected and if there is a spill in it, as happened in Kalamazoo, then my park, the river, the watershed, and the groundwater tables will be ruined. That is what I want to prevent.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to enter into this debate. In the interests of full disclosure, Rouge Park is very close to my riding as well, and I have taken my children and my grandchildren through the park from time to time, both in winter and summer, so I am quite familiar with this piece of real estate and am very pleased to see that we have moved to the point of presenting legislation. However, in typical fashion, the government seems to have a talent for taking good news and turning it into bad news.
    I suppose it is only coincidental that after the northern gateway decision, we are now debating two park bills, the first with respect to Rouge Park and the second with respect to a park up in the Northwest Territories. It is only coincidental that the announcement about northern gateway and the discussion about parks happens almost sequentially. It has nothing to do with trying to burnish the environmental creds of the government.
    Before I go too much further, I want to acknowledge the 25-year effort by my colleague, Derek Lee, in conjunction with Pauline Browes, in advocating on the floor of the House for the park and the reservation of these lands, along with a number of citizens groups, Friends of the Rouge, Save the Rouge, WWF, COSCA, and of course the patron saint of the park, Lois James. I am certain that I have left out a number of NGOs and individuals who have been very important to why we are here today. Regrettably, they do not seem to be as involved in the potential management plan as they possibly should be, and I hope that once the dust settles here, the officials will think it over and see their way clear to incorporate them into the park management plan.
    The interesting part of this proposal is that according to the bill itself, what is actually being incorporated into the park are three little pieces of property in Markham. When asked about this at the briefing yesterday, the Conservatives said they are actually in negotiation with three or four levels of government, a variety of conservation authorities, et cetera, but the way it is being presented by the parliamentary secretary and others is that this is 58 square kilometres. Actually it is not 58 square kilometres; it is about two or three acres. By the time the bill actually receives royal assent, it will still be two or three acres and the negotiations will have yet to be completed.
    Why is this a concern? First of all, the Government of Canada can unilaterally transfer from the Department of Transport the lands under its control, but for whatever reason, it has not included those lands in this bill or in the schedule that would be attached to the bill. In addition, there are other airport lands that apparently might possibly be under negotiations and that are not included in the bill. Instead of 58 square kilometres, some people would like to see 100 square kilometres, going all the way up to the Oak Ridges Moraine, in order to protect a corridor for wildlife, et cetera.
    It is in some respects, as far as a presentation of a piece of land is concerned, much less than what it appears. Take note of the contrast between the bill for the park in the Northwest Territories, whose name I dare not pronounce for fear of offending someone, and this bill. Half the bill, six or seven pages, actually goes to a metes and bounds description of the park itself. That is normally the way a park bill is presented. Bill S-5 is a proper presentation.
    In terms of the schedule of the land being presented, the actual amounts are far less, and there is no guarantee that the lands in the presentation by the parliamentary secretary are in fact the lands that will be transferred.

  (1350)  

    There are two reasons for this. First, negotiations are negotiations and they may go somewhere differently than the government hopes they will. Second, there is no presentation of a plan for ecological protection. That is worth drawing attention to, because in normal park bills we have a specific clause in each and every bill. The specific clause says:
    ...a set of ecological integrity objectives and indicators and provisions for resource protection and restoration, zoning, visitor use, public awareness and performance evaluation, which shall be tabled in each House of Parliament.
    There is no such inclusion in the clause. When I asked the officials yesterday why it was not in there, their reason was that this was a unique park. The reasoning actually does have some sense to it. As others have pointed out, Highway 401 goes over the park, as does Highway 2, and so do Steeles Avenue and Taunton Road, and there is also a huge hydro corridor through the park. Therefore, we cannot set up ecological metrics to evaluate the ecological performance of the park. What we are left with is a very vague clause in paragraph 6 of the bill. It states:
    The Minister must, in the management of the Park, take into consideration the protection of its natural ecosystems and cultural landscapes and the maintenance of its native wildlife and of the health of those ecosystems.
    “Take into consideration” is not a plan. Let me just sketch a scenario. The minister goes to the Province of Ontario and says, “We would like your thousand acres, or two thousand acres”—or whatever the number is—“and we want to know how you're going to manage this plan and this park.” The minister says, “Trust me.“ Well, “trust me” does not cut it.
    As far as I and anyone else in the House know, including the parliamentary secretary or the minister, we do not actually know how this park is going to be managed. If I am the Province of Ontario, or the Town of Markham, or the City of Toronto, I am going to be asking that rather fundamental question. I would say' “No plan, no transfer.” I rather hope that it does not get held up on that. I hope there is a plan. I hope the ecological and cultural integrity of the park would be protected. However, “trust me” is not exactly a great answer when one is asking for thousands and thousands of acres to be transferred, which according to the government's numbers are supposed to amount to 58 square kilometres.
    If in fact the government had some ecological or environmental integrity, one might actually say, “Okay, trust us. We will have a plan and we will fulfill this.” However, as we know, the government's environmental credibility is as about as rock bottom as rock bottom can be, so “trust me” is not exactly an answer when we are asking other levels of government to transfer thousands of acres to the park for what would otherwise be a very supportable proposition.
    Again, why is this of greater concern? As others have alluded to, in the park there is what is called mono-cultural or industrial farming, and some of those farming practices are in clear contradistinction to proper park management functions. One might say “Well, let's not worry about that, because we'll make sure, as we renew each lease and try to move it up to market value, that in fact we will assure the best farming practices.” When I raised that question yesterday, one of the members of the Conservative Party dismissed the concerns about neonicatoids. Frankly, that stuff is of concern. Here we have Environment Canada and Parks Canada managing farms in the park, which should be held to the highest possible standards, to the best science we have available for farming practices.

  (1355)  

    The member just dismissed it: “I do not give a hoot about the bees. I do not give a hoot about the watershed. I do not give a hoot about the hiring practices. Just get my constituents the cheapest possible land for the longest period of time.” It does not inspire—
     I must interrupt the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood at this point. The time for government orders has expired. The hon. member will have 10 minutes remaining when this matter returns before the House.

ROYAL ASSENT

[Royal Assent]

  (1400)  

[English]

     I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
    Rideau Hall
    Ottawa
June 19, 2014
    Mr. Speaker:
    I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will proceed to the Senate chamber today, the 19th day of June, 2014, at 5:30 p.m., for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills of law.
    Yours sincerely,
    Patricia Jaton
    Deputy Secretary

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday my wife and 10-year-old twins tied a blue-and-white ribbon to our maple tree on the front yard of our home. They did this as a symbol of solidarity with the three Israeli boys, Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gil-Ad Shaer, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Hamas. This ribbon will remain until the terrorists release the boys and they are returned safely to their homes. The young boys were abducted last Thursday as they were trying to get rides home from their religious seminary for the Sabbath.
    Although not claiming responsibility, the terrorist group Hamas has praised the kidnapping. In fact, it and its supporters have been calling for the kidnapping of Israelis for some time now. Meanwhile, those who call for the boys' safe return are holding prayer vigils.
    I call on all people of good conscience who support freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law to condemn this reprehensible and deplorable act in the strongest possible terms. The Palestinian authorities must find and apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
     Until the three young boys are returned safely to their homes, I urge all people, wherever they may live, to tie a blue-and-white ribbon to their home, office, or car in solidarity, just like my family has done.

Refugees

    Mr. Speaker, today as we mark World Refugee Day, it is a time of growing concern in the international community as the number of displaced persons around the world soars to a dramatic new high. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees places the number of worldwide displaced people at more than 46 million.
    We simply cannot begin to quantify the human suffering, the broken families, and the destroyed childhoods and livelihoods that come with fleeing a war zone. To date, over two million people have fled the Syrian conflict since its beginning in 2011, making it one of the largest refugee exoduses in history. Syria is only part of the problem, with millions also displaced in Sudan, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and others.
     Canada has a great tradition of providing assistance to refugees in need, and the determination to overcome adversity of those who come to Canada overwhelmingly leads them to make a significant contribution to the new homeland.
    On World Refugee Day, let us not forget that those living in relative comfort today may tomorrow find themselves knocking on a stranger's door looking for safety and shelter.

Country 107.3

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate Country 107.3 in Tillsonburg on winning the radio station of the year for a secondary market award at the 2014 Country Music Association of Ontario Awards.
    The awards night was held in Markham on May 26 to recognize artists, producers, songs, and radio stations that encourage and promote Canadian country music. The winners were selected by members of the Country Music Association of Ontario, who voted for their top three choices in each category.
    Country 107.3 beat some tough competition and came out winning due to its great promotion of Canadian talent through its music selections, community involvement, promotions, leadership, and recognition.
    Country 107.3 is not only an asset for Oxford but also for all Canadians who love to see Canadian talent being displayed and recognized. I would like to once again congratulate everyone at Country 107.3 on their win and tell them to keep on being champions of Canadian country music.

Canada's Top Chef

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I extend my congratulations to Ottawa's own René Rodriguez, who was recently crowned Canada's top chef.
    Following 10 weeks of televised culinary competition, this chef bested 13 other competitors, and amazed judges with his creations. His dishes, inspired by his Mexican roots and his love of the Basque region of Spain, involved a range of ingredients and highlighted his creativity. He calls the experience of competing in Top Chef Canada an incredible journey. He also said it has helped him to grow not only as a chef but as a person.
    After studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and honing his skills at a range of restaurants, Mr. Rodriguez is now the owner and chef at Navarra restaurant in the ByWard Market in Ottawa—Vanier. At Navarra, both European and Mexican influences merge to create the unique and contemporary cuisine.
    Ottawa is proud to offer some of the best and most diverse dining options in the country, with chefs like Mr. Rodriguez. Congratulations once again, and bon appétit.

  (1405)  

Canadian Forces Health Services

    Mr. Speaker, five years ago today, the Canadian Forces Health Services Centre Ottawa, which serves 10,000 Canadian Forces members in the national capital region, moved to the Montfort Hospital.

[Translation]

    It was all made possible by the Government of Canada's investment of nearly $200 million over 20 years.
    Our government has helped the Montfort Hospital shine and survive. It is a beacon for the Ontario francophonie.

[English]

    More than 98% of all wounded taken to the Kandahar airfield hospital survived their wounds. This is a rate of success unmatched by our allies or our enemies in any war in history. Those health professionals are now here at the Montfort Hospital.
    The relocation of Canadian Forces health care personnel to Montfort Hospital is yet more tangible evidence of the incremental approach adopted by the Canadian Forces Health Services with a goal of choosing projects that enable it to work closely with its community partners.

[Translation]

    Happy anniversary to the Montfort and the Canadian Forces Health Services Centre Ottawa.

[English]

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on behalf of all New Democrats across the country to recognize National Aboriginal Day on June 21.
    Over the past year, the Métis Nation won recognition as Indians under the Constitution; the Inuit fought for a Nunavut food security strategy and action plan, and first nations won specific land claims.
    However, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples wrote a scathing report on how successive federal governments have not lived up to our obligations.
    It has been a year when legislation was rammed through Parliament and ignored the rights of first nations. Resource projects are stalled across the country because of a lack of a coherent plan for consultation. There is a better way.
    Consultation is not a roadblock to economic development. The government must sit down and negotiate a protocol that puts consultation at the beginning of resource development projects, not at the end.
    Industry is creating successful partnerships with aboriginal peoples who want resource development on their territories, and they want their own citizens to reap the benefits through jobs and business opportunities.
    Government needs to drop its colonial attitude and join the 21st century.

School Graduations

    Mr. Speaker, this time of year is a very special time for the young women and men graduating from secondary schools as well as grade schools.
    Tomorrow morning I have the special privilege of participating in the commencement ceremony for T.L. Kennedy Secondary School in my riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, which will be honouring 170 students who are graduating.
    I would like to acknowledge T.L. Kennedy's principal, Mr. Paul Freier, and vice-principals Rosemary Stiglic, Mark Botnick, and Brent Serebrin, along with the entire staff for their roles in the lives of these young people. We should also congratulate the students' parents, grandparents, caregivers, and relatives, who all share in these special moments.
    To all who will be graduating as part of the class of 2014, my very best wishes on this special occasion.
    Finally, I would like to ask my colleagues in the House to join me in thanking and congratulating all teachers and faculty members across our country for their hard work and success this school year.

International Peace Garden

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to highlight the International Peace Garden, which lies on the Canada-U.S. border south of Boissevain and Brandon in southwestern Manitoba.
    The International Peace Garden was officially opened in 1932 and continues to welcome visitors from across the continent and around the world. It represents the incredible relationship we hold with our southern neighbours and has flourished as a centre for students to share their ideas and to participate in international music or the Royal Canadian Legion athletic camps.
    The Peace Garden spans over 2,300 acres and now has over 75,000 perennials that continue to grow and develop each and every year. The sheer beauty of the Peace Tower surrounded by the natural prairie landscape is a sight to behold. Visitors will feel a sense of calm and welcome. While they walk the garden grounds, they will in fact be in the United States and Canada at the same time.
    I welcome all members and Canadians from across the country to visit the International Peace Garden if they are ever in friendly Manitoba. It will be a visit that will be long remembered.

WorldPride Human Rights Conference

    Mr. Speaker, next week members of the LGBTQ community from across the world will assemble in Toronto for WorldPride. Hundreds of LGBTQ leaders and activists will come together for the WorldPride Human Rights Conference, ranging from the world's first openly gay head of government, former Icelandic prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, to activists who bravely struggle against homophobia every day on the front lines. Hundreds of thousands more will attend the WorldPride parade on June 29.
    New Democrats want to recognize today the tremendous work of the organizers in putting together WorldPride, and in particular the work of Brenda Cossman and Doug Kerr as co-chairs of the Human Rights Conference.
    Today we also acknowledge the willingness of the government to work with us and conference organizers to secure visas for participants whose applications were initially denied. I want to recognize in particular the effective behind-the-scenes work by my colleague from Toronto—Danforth on these files.
    While Canada has moved a long way down the road to full equality for the LGBTQ community, there is more Canada can do both at home and abroad. However, for today, I would like to ask all hon. members to join me in welcoming WorldPride to Canada.

  (1410)  

Agreement on Internal Trade

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is, has been, and always will be a free-trading country. However, the frustrating reality is that it is often easier to trade internationally than it is to trade within Canada. That is why the Agreement on Internal Trade was created 20 years ago. It was to work toward breaking down the crippling barriers that hinder our economy and hurt Canadian businesses.
    Progress on internal trade has been too slow and unambitious to prepare Canada for the reality of today's global economy. That is why the Minister of Industry is in Halifax today, starting his cross-country tour so that he can hear first-hand from businesses and community leaders how the federal government can better work with provinces and territories to break down these barriers.
    It should not be easier to trade with other countries than within our own borders. The Agreement on Internal Trade must be updated to reflect our new economic reality. The time for action is now, and there has never been a better time to start than today.

[Translation]

Cultural Festival

    Mr. Speaker, this year the Festival Âges et Culture is celebrating its 20th anniversary. This festival is taking place from June 6 to 23 in my riding, La Pointe-de-l'Île. It has two commendable objectives: to promote the many facets of Québécois culture and to use art to bring generations together. Over the years, the festival's organizers have created a vibrant, inter-generational event that unifies our community.
    With diverse cultural programming, Mercier-Est is the place to be in eastern Montreal for these three weeks. There are participatory activities, exhibits that showcase local talent, and indoor and outdoor shows featuring both well-known and up-and-coming artists.
    I would like to congratulate the organizers, the many volunteers, and all of the local businesses that are involved in the 20th annual Festival Âges et Culture. Thank you to all of those who have been contributing to this successful event for decades and who are making La Pointe-de-l'Île even more vibrant.

[English]

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the leader of the Liberal Party tried to say that Canadians just could not understand his nuanced position on marijuana. He tried to say that he will not put illegal narcotics in convenience stores and that this was all just a big misunderstanding.
    However, the very same day, the so-called “queen of pot”, Jodie Emery, announced that she had been approached by the Liberal Party to run as a candidate in Vancouver East. She explained that the reason she wanted to run as a Liberal candidate was to show that the Liberals are serious about smoking marijuana as a normal, everyday Canadian activity. In her own words, “It would basically be to say, ‘The Liberals support legalization’.”
    As a mother, I am shocked by the reckless plan being put forward by the leader of the Liberal Party. Our Conservative government will continue to crack down on criminals and drug dealers, unlike the leader of the Liberal Party, who continues to try to push dangerous and illegal drugs on our children.

Dairy Farming

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize the importance of our dairy farmers. Our 12,000 dairy farms produce wholesome and affordable products and create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Canadians. One of the reasons they are successful is our supply management system. Canadian dairy farmers sell almost eight billion litres of milk annually through processors and contribute over $16 billion to our GDP.
    Many of my colleagues in the House know me as a vegetable farmer, but I can milk a cow. Last summer the Cape Breton farmers exhibition featured the dairy industry and held a milking competition, which I participated in. The MacIntyre Farm in my riding helped me improve my skills.
    Members of the House, and all Canadians, should visit a dairy farm this summer and see not only how milk is produced but also the love and care provided to the cows that produce the milk. Most importantly, we should keep the fridge full of milk, yogourt, and cheese, and of course enjoy the best treat of summer with some real Canadian ice cream.

  (1415)  

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, our government continues to advance the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canadian history. It is a plan that will create jobs and economic opportunities for hard-working Canadians.
    Last week the Minister of International Trade tabled the text of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement in the House. It is a landmark agreement that gives Canadian businesses access to an important Asian market.
    This evening we will also see Bill C-20, the Canada-Honduras economic growth and prosperity act, receive royal assent. The NDP voted against this free trade agreement every step of the way. That is no surprise. It has voted against all free trade agreements and there is no sign that it will be stopping that trend any time soon.
    I am proud of our government's record on trade. We have reached agreements with 38 countries; over 13 years, the Liberals reached agreements with just three countries. Maybe they think that trade agreements just sign themselves.

Northern Gateway Pipeline

    Mr. Speaker, the 21 Conservative MPs from British Columbia have disappeared from the face of the earth. They are hiding from their constituents because of the Conservatives' disastrous approval of the northern gateway pipeline. Not a single Conservative minister from B.C. will explain the decision. The natural resources minister's spokesperson even went so far as to say the government had not actually approved it; it was just a “maybe”.
    An approval by the cabinet is an approval by the cabinet. Approving this pipeline puts 45,000 British Columbia coastal jobs at risk.
    How did we get here? Well, the Prime Minister removed all of the real barriers to the project by gutting environmental bills in one of his earlier omnibus budget bills.
    How can the Prime Minister possibly deny that he stacked the deck in favour of the pipeline? More than 35 years after the Berger report, more than 25 years after Exxon Valdez, Conservatives still do not understand the basics of pipelines and tankers.
    In 2015, an NDP government will set aside this grotesque decision.

Sealers Memorial Statue

    Mr. Speaker, today in the town of Elliston, Newfoundland and Labrador, the unveiling of the Home From the Sea Sealers Memorial Statue will take place. My colleague, the member for Miramichi, is there today.
    This year is the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Newfoundland sealing disaster in which we lost over 250 sealers in the North Atlantic from the SS Newfoundland and from the sinking of the SS Southern Cross.
    It is important that we take the time to remember the lives lost on that day, including Reuben Crewe and his son Albert John, who passed away together on the ice and whose memorial statue will stand as a testament to the hardy and dangerous work done by sealers on the ice every spring.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have always been in favour of the northern gateway pipeline, but ever since they announced that they will allow Enbridge to destroy the fragile ecosystem along the northern coast of British Columbia, they have been doing everything they can to distance themselves from the pipeline project they just approved. A spokesperson for the minister even said that the government did not say “yes”; it said “maybe”.
    Will the Conservatives respect those British Columbians who have said no to Enbridge? Will Conservative Party members represent their constituents, yes, no or maybe?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have been clear that projects will only move forward if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
    Our decision is based on the conclusions of an independent science-based review panel. We have imposed 209 stringent conditions to ensure this project meets the highest safety standards. The panel heard from nearly 1,500 participants in 21 communities and reviewed over 175,000 pages of evidence.
    The proponent clearly has more work to do with communities along the route.
    Mr. Speaker, there is only one thorough thing about this whole process, and it is that the Conservatives have thoroughly bungled it.
    From environmental protection to first nations consultation to community involvement, in every sector the government has failed, and each time it turns around and blames the company.
    The minister said, “The proponent clearly has more work to do in order to fulfill the public commitment it has made to engage with Aboriginal groups and local communities along the route”, but who is responsible for this? The government is. Does the government really not understand that consulting with the public and first nations is the government's responsibility?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, aboriginal consultation is part of the review process. There were 72 days of hearings for aboriginal groups to share their knowledge, including traditional knowledge, and their views on this issue. In fact, 41 first nations were financed to enhance their participation in the review, and there were a range of views among those groups.
    Mr. Speaker, it is continual disrespect for B.C.

[Translation]

    The Prime Minister keeps saying that Enbridge will carry out thorough consultations with first nations. That is not Enbridge's job; that is the crown's job. In other words, it is the government's job. The Conservatives will alienate aboriginal people across the country and will end up preventing other energy-related projects that depend on good relations with first nations from ever seeing the light of day.
    Why is this government not listening to British Columbia first nations? Why?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government is working to build a stronger relationship with Canada's first nations. Our response to the Eyford report is a first step to building stronger relationships with first nations.
    The natural resources sector is the largest private employer of first nations people in Canada. First nations have benefited and will continue to benefit and contribute as full partners in the development of our natural resources.
    Mr. Speaker, mistrust for this government is already so profound.
    First nations in Canada, particularly those on Canada's west coast, have deep animosity toward the government, and it will only be made worse by the government trying to force Enbridge northern gateway down their throats. So determined are Conservatives to poison this already fragile relationship that they are willing to sacrifice tens of billions of dollars of other development in mining and in LNG for the sake of one bad oil pipeline.
    Twenty-one B.C. Conservatives have shamefully allowed their government to ram through Enbridge northern gateway against the wishes of British Columbia. However, maybe they found their courage overnight. Will one Conservative B.C. MP stand up and defend Enbridge northern gateway?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said, our decision is based on the conclusions of an independent science-based review panel. After carefully reviewing the report, the government is accepting the recommendation to impose 209 conditions on the project.
    Our government has always been clear that projects will only be approved if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
    Mr. Speaker, B.C. Conservative MPs' silence on Enbridge as speaking volumes to their lack of courage and their lack of faith in their own government's decision. Perhaps they know that this toxic project is toxic politics in British Columbia.
    I remember the days when Conservatives insisted that Ottawa should never impose energy projects on western Canada without the agreement of western Canadians. Then along came northern gateway. These guys could not rubber-stamp it fast enough, while completely ignoring the people of British Columbia.
    The Conservatives promised to change Ottawa, but I guess it was Ottawa that ended up changing Conservatives.
    Last chance: does any B.C. Conservative MP, any of them, want to stand up and defend this pipeline publicly for once?
    Mr. Speaker, our decision is based on the conclusions of an independent science-based review panel.
    We have imposed 209 stringent conditions to ensure this project meets the highest safety standards. The panel heard from nearly 1,500 participants in 21 communities, and reviewed over 175,000 pages of evidence. The proponent clearly has more work to do with communities along the route.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice recently made remarks to the Ontario Bar Association that were so strikingly sexist that lawyers there described them as offensive.
    As one of the many mothers of young children in this House, I wonder whether the minister believes that we, too, should be intimidated by the old boys' network. Does the minister think that we, too, should stay at home because of our special maternal bond with our young children?
    Will the minister apologize for his blatant chauvinism?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, that, of course, is a complete mischaracterization of what I said, what I think, how I act, and who I am.
    In fact, with respect to judicial appointments, they are based on one criterion and one criterion only, and that is merit and judicial excellence.
    With respect to minorities and women being promoted to the judiciary, I think we can all agree that government of course plays an important role in that, but so too do law schools, so too do law societies. That is exactly the message I was bringing to the Ontario Bar Association.
    Mr. Speaker, members of the Ontario Bar Association described the Minister of Justice's recent fifties rant as disappointing, bizarre, frustrating, and offensive.
    As a parent, daughter, and granddaughter of women who worked full time, and as the critic for aboriginal affairs, I ask the minister to apologize to all Canadians for blaming motherhood for his abject failure to ensure that the Federal Court reflects the diversity of the society it is entrusted to judge.
    Mr. Speaker, all I can say is what I have already indicated, that that is of course a complete misrepresentation of what I said.
    As a son, as a father, that is the last thing I would ever do. What I was doing was completely the opposite, in encouraging women to apply more readily to our judiciary.
     That, of course, is done through a process, as the member knows. Appointments are made at the recommendation of the 17 judicial advisory committees across the country. Since 2006, I am extremely proud to inform the House that we have appointed 182 excellent women to the superior and appeal courts of this country.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice's comments are the latest salvo in the Conservatives' war on modernity.
    This is more than just their attitude. It is their Archie Bunker-inspired policies. Whether it is killing national early learning and child care or their regressive income-splitting policy, the Conservatives just do not get the modern family.
    When will the government realize that Ward and June Cleaver are dead? When will they stop trying to drag Canada back to the 1950s?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear that this government has demonstrated leadership on this file outstandingly; in fact, our Prime Minister has.
    We know that whether it be GIC appointments or whether it be the public service, our numbers have escalated since we became government. Whether it be 31% of our GIC appointments and growing are women, or 37% of the leadership roles in the public service in this government and growing are women, we have taken action on this. Our Prime Minister has been a leader on this. I encourage the others to get on board.

[Translation]

Privacy

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has resorted to making up facts to justify his badly written, unconstitutional bill on cyberbullying.
    The Supreme Court clearly said no to access to personal information without a warrant. The Privacy Commissioner, whom the Conservatives say is an authority on the subject, has stated that this ruling invalidates the principles underlying Bill C-13. The bill must be split to stop cyberbullying and maintain the right to privacy.
    Will the minister abide by the Supreme Court's ruling or not?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we always do. We always respect the Supreme Court. We always respect the decisions. The reality here is the Supreme Court's decision clearly stated that the Criminal Code provisions dealing with voluntary disclosure and immunity do not provide legal authority for access to information without a warrant. As our government has continually said, those provisions regarding voluntary disclosure and immunity do not provide legal authority for access to information without a warrant. This is nothing new.
    We respect the decision. It reinforces the position of the government and we will move forward with Bill C-13.
    Mr. Speaker, he said, “I always respect the decision of the Supreme Court.” When the government gets a decision that it does not like from the court, the Conservatives ignore it altogether, they make stuff up, or they attack the courts.
    The Supreme Court was clear. Collecting personal data without a warrant, something the minister has defended, is in fact unconstitutional. Instead of respecting that decision, he turned around and misled the House and claimed it as a victory. Well, he is wrong.
    Will the minister now accept that the only legal way to protect our children and respect legitimate privacy rights is to split Bill C-13?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, I disagree and of course that is not what the Supreme Court said. The Supreme Court has stated and has supported the government's position that provisions regarding voluntary disclosure and immunity do not provide legal authority for access to information without a warrant.
    While I am on my feet, I want to congratulate the police in Halifax, who today announced the results of Operation Snapshot III, which led to the rescue of five children from sexual exploitation and 150 people charged. Since 2012, the national child exploitation coordination centre has identified more than 45,000 instances of child exploitation.

[Translation]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, dinosaurs still walk among us.
    According to the Minister of Justice, there are not enough women and visible minorities in the top jobs in our courts because they do not apply for those positions. Instead they stay home with their children because they have a greater bond with them.
    Why does the president of the old boys' club not try to achieve gender equality in our courts instead of talking nonsense?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we are doing. We are encouraging more women to apply. We are encouraging more women to go through the judicial advisory council, which I am proud to say has resulted in 182 women at the superior court and appeal court level.
    Further to that, I am extremely proud that our government appointed the first female Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal of Quebec and the first Haitian Canadian woman of the Quebec court. We are going to continue to appoint able women to the bench because they deserve to be there.
    Mr. Speaker, earlier today the minister doubled down on his comments, saying that women have a greater bond with their children. Well, women have babies. This is not news. What is news is the minister's disrespectful attitude, his government's failure to accept responsibility for the appointment of women and minorities to the courts. The Minister of Justice is blaming them for not applying. I am not looking for an apology here. Can the minister outline what actions he is taking and has already taken to ensure our courts are more representative of our communities?
    Mr. Speaker, that is what I have just said. We are in fact seeing more qualified, capable women based on merit appointed to our courts. For example, four vacancies were just filled in Alberta by four highly qualified women. Two vacancies were filled by two highly qualified women in Ontario. In British Columbia, there were two out of four recently appointed in November, qualified excellent judicial appointments. Two from Quebec, highly qualified, merit based appointments and one, just one that was available last week in the member's home province of Nova Scotia, filled by a highly qualified excellent judicial appointment.

Lobbying

    Mr. Speaker, it looks like the Minister of Justice is an extra on the TV show Father Knows Best.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for York Centre, who is a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, holds a partisan fundraiser and invites bankers and lobbyists who are looking for favours from the Department of Finance.
    To entice them, he uses the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Minister of Industry. Personally, I do not see the appeal.
    It is not surprising to later see the Conservatives support projects like northern gateway in order to help their lobbyist friends and make them happy, instead of standing up for the public interest.
    When will the Conservatives stop making backroom deals with lobbyists?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it was this government that brought in the Federal Accountability Act, which removed the influence of big unions and big corporate donations from the political process. We know, of course, that the NDP did break that when it accepted some $350,000 worth of union donations.
    Of course, we expect that all members will follow the rules when it comes to fundraising events. I do note that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is probably among those 21 members of the NDP who owe a significant amount of money to the taxpayers of Canada. I hope that he and his other 20 colleagues will do the right thing and pay back the $1.17 million.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. These types of interruptions do take away time and I would hate to have to make that up further down the list.
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay has the floor.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, while the member for York Centre was launching a full-out assault on the independence of the offices of the ethics and lobbying commissioners, he was using his presence on the finance committee to fill his electoral war chest by hitting up lobbyists who were trying to influence him. He cannot do that. Section 14(1) of the Conflict of Interest Code is clear. Members cannot accept financial gifts in the form of tickets to fundraisers from lobbyists when they knock on their doors.
    The member was paid by lobbyists for the petroleum, financial, and car industries. Did he recuse himself from any of the meetings in the finance committee that dealt with these interests?
    Again, Mr. Speaker, this is the government that brought in the Federal Accountability Act as one of our first measures, which removed the influence of big unions and corporate donations from the political process, something we are very proud of. Of course, we expect that all members of the House of Commons will host events and follow the rules.
     At the same time, we know that the NDP accepted $350,000 worth of illegal campaign donations to their big union friends. It is also ironic to hear this member talk about ethics when it was he who was singled out by the boundary redistribution commission as trying to gerrymander his riding. I think he should think about that and encourage his friends to repay the—
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, watching the government stand up for ethics is like watching a wrestling promoter stand up for good, clean, honest fun.
    We know what the oil lobby bought when the government gave it northern gateway. Let us look at what the member for York Centre's tickets bought for these lobbyists: access to the government House leader, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform, and the Minister of International Development.
    My question is to the government House leader, who attended this event. Does he stand behind these kinds of secret deals with lobbyists? Does he stand behind that?
    Mr. Speaker, as I just mentioned, it was this government that brought in the Federal Accountability Act to remove the influence of big money and big unions from the political process. As I said, we expect that all members will follow the rules when hosting fundraisers and other activities.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Veterans Affairs is once again insulting Canada's veterans. As Sean Bruyea said, he is now making our wounded veterans out to be greedy whiners and complainers. It is just despicable. The minister bragged they get up to $10,000 per month, but no one knows where that number comes from or how anyone would qualify for it.
    Why does the minister insist on disrespecting our veterans? Will he at least now, finally, apologize?
    Mr. Speaker, clearly, that member did not read the article and if she did, obviously relied on certain facts that are not complete.
    In fact, the average, and I stress “average”, monthly financial benefits available to an injured veteran may be anywhere in the area from $4,000 to $6,000 a month and, indeed, veterans are receiving in excess of $10,000 a month in total income and support from the Government of Canada. The member should know her facts because she and her party voted against all these benefits.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the minister would have Canadians believe that our veterans are rolling in money when he says that some veterans can receive as much as $10,000 a month.
    The fact is that only four seriously wounded veterans are getting those types of benefits. The minister's half-truths are outrageous. Many of our veterans are living in poverty. Most of them are constantly fighting with Veterans Affairs, and most of the time they have to wait.
    Will the minister have the decency to apologize?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is quite an ironic scenario. The complaint is totally unfounded, especially so when we look at the consistent voting record of the NDP, voting against operational stress injury clinics, voting against the establishment of the Veterans Ombudsman and the veterans bill of rights, voting against independence housekeeping and grounds maintenance for veterans, and voting against funding for the provision of home care for veterans.
    New Democrats voted against all of those, and I have another list. I could go on and on.

  (1440)  

Intergovernmental Relations

    Mr. Speaker, last week we were treated to the sad and sorry spectacle of the Minister of Finance traipsing through Ontario, criticizing the premier during the election campaign. The premier won; the meddling minister lost.
    Specifically, he gave free lectures on balancing budgets, neatly ignoring the fact that he and his government know nothing about balancing budgets. To add to the hypocrisy, the PBO estimates that the Government of Canada shortchanged the people of Ontario by $1.2 billion.
    Why does the Government of Canada not skip the lectures, write the cheque, and concentrate on getting its own house in order?
    Mr. Speaker, that member knows that federal support to Ontario has increased by 76% since our government took office. Federal support to Ontario will total over $19.1 billion in 2014-15, a whopping $8.3 billion increase since the Liberal government was in power.
    We are also helping Ontario on the road back to becoming a “have” province, by making key investments in Ontario's auto sector, manufacturing sector, and much more.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the most efficient way to create jobs is through infrastructure investment. David Dodge, the World Economic Forum, the Australians, and the British, they all get this.
    The FCM says the Building Canada fund is rife with red tape. It will cost property taxpayers way more money.
    Now provincial ministers of finance are unanimous, blasting the minister for confusion, delays, and misinformation. No contribution agreements have been signed, not one. No shovels are in the ground. Projects are delayed.
     It is June 19. Jobs are on the line. What are the Conservatives waiting for?
    I will begin by suggesting, Mr. Speaker, that this Conservative government has no lessons to take from Liberals with respect to infrastructure investments.
    Since 2006, our investments in infrastructure have nearly tripled. Moving forward, those record investments will continue: over $53 billion in stable, predictable funding.
    There are no framework agreements. Yes, that is correct. There are no framework agreements because none are required. Let us get the job done.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, B.C.'s Premier Christy Clark is clear that the northern gateway pipeline does not meet her five conditions.
    Despite that, the Conservatives have given the thumbs up to this risky proposal to run a pipeline clear through the heart of the province's wilderness and send massive supertankers along our treacherous coast.
    B.C.'s Conservative MPs can run, but they cannot hide from their own government's bad decision. How could the Minister of Industry, the regional minister for B.C., possibly support this Conservative cabinet's approval of this dangerous project, dangerous for the environment, dangerous for the economy, and contrary to the wishes of British Columbians?
    Mr. Speaker, our decision is based on the conclusions of an independent, science-based review panel. We have imposed 209 stringent conditions to ensure this project meets the highest safety standards.
    The panel heard from nearly 1,500 participants in 21 communities and reviewed more than 175,000 pages of evidence.
    The proponent clearly has more work to do with communities along the route.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Blood Tribe is already suing the government for its failure to provide safe drinking water for the reserve. On top of that, the tribe is now suffering under yet another catastrophic flood, issuing a state of emergency with warnings not to use water from cisterns that may be contaminated.
    The past two auditors general have chastised the government for failure to resolve federal roles or to allocate adequate funding for natural disasters in first nations.
    Alberta's Siksika felt abandoned after last year's flood. How many more first nations will be left stranded until the government finally takes real action?
    Mr. Speaker, the truth and the facts do not bear out the statements made by that hon. member.
    We are working in close co-operation with the Government of Alberta and with the affected first nations to address the issues that have arisen because of this flooding, for which the government is not responsible, by the way. I have checked with Environment Canada and it cannot do anything about it.
    Therefore, we will keep working with the province and the first nations to ensure that the health and safety of those inhabitants is protected.

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, talking about facts, the fact is that a year after the flood, more than 100 people are still living in hotels. The temporary neighbourhoods that were supposed to be in place 60 days after the flood are still not ready. That simply is not good enough.
    The government would never tolerate these kinds of delays in neighbouring communities, so why are families in Siksika still waiting for homes? It is the minister's responsibility. Why does he not get the job done?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we are working in close co-operation with the Province of Alberta and the first nations that are affected by these floods. Everything is being done to ensure the health and safety of those inhabitants.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Employment and Social Development has been promising to fix the temporary foreign worker program for months, but the mess drags on. No penalties are being applied, no employers are being blacklisted, there is no independent review, and there is no fix to the mess the Conservatives have made of this program.
    While businesses from various sectors complain about the uncertainty the Conservatives' mismanagement has created, why are they still leaving it to the media, the workers, and the unions to investigate abuses and problems with this program?
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for her consistency, because every single assertion in her question was wrong. She did not have a single fact correct.
    For example, this government has added several employers to the new strengthened blacklist. We have referred several cases to the Border Services Agency for criminal investigation.
    Let us peel back the onion here. When the member said that businesses are complaining about uncertainty, that is the way that the opposition parties are narrowcasting a different message to constituents who are employers who want more and faster access to the program. Here they pretend they are against it; with their constituents they pretend they are for the program.
    This government will fix the program. We will mend it, not end it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government, which has cut labour market research and prefers to google data, would have us believe that it can correct the problems with the temporary foreign worker program even though it has lost all credibility.
    After ignoring the abuses by some employers and allowing Canadian workers to be replaced with cheap labour, how can the Conservative government believe that we will trust it to fix the temporary foreign worker program, a program that it botched?
     Mr. Speaker, once again, the member has it all wrong. In fact, it was the Conservative government that created the blacklist and added the names of bad employers. That was the first time that was done. It was the Conservative government that initiated criminal investigations of employer fraud. It was also this government that added new powers in a bill, resulting in sanctions for bad employers. In the near future, we will add other sanctions for bad employers who abuse the program.

[English]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, with Russia's ongoing military interference in Ukraine as well as new NATO reports confirming additional troop buildup near the Ukrainian border, the eyes of the world are focused squarely on Russian military activity. Our government has been clear that we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. At the same time, there is no greater priority than defending Canadian borders and our sovereignty.
    My question is for the Minister of National Defence. Can he update the House regarding Russian activity in the Arctic and what measures the government is taking to protect Canadian sovereignty?
    Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment specifically on operational matters, but I can confirm to the House that, yes, we continue to see Russian military activity in the Arctic. The Canadian Armed Forces remain ready and able to respond. In fact, the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18s were dispatched in recent days in response to Russian aircraft movements.
    NORAD has intercepted in excess of 50 Russian military aircraft over the last five years. This clearly demonstrates both our capacity to respond and the need for ongoing vigilance. We will continue to work with our allies to defend Canadian sovereignty.

  (1450)  

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the sad state of infrastructure and the road congestion in urban centres like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver cost billions of dollars in economic losses.
    It has been over a year since the Conservatives made their Building Canada fund announcement, but the provinces and municipalities are saying that the process to apply for funds is still unclear.
    How does the minister explain this lack of clarity and these delays?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the new Building Canada fund is open for business. The new Building Canada fund includes the provincial and territorial infrastructure component. This is where municipalities can apply for projects. They initially apply to provinces. Provinces establish these processes. Why? It is so that the provinces can identify their own infrastructure priorities. Applications are being received. One has already been approved. It is a major transit project in Edmonton. We are getting the job done.
    Mr. Speaker, au contraire. Infrastructure is crumbling in Toronto, and all we get from this Conservative red tape brigade is more uncertainty and delay.
    Thanks to the PBO, we finally do have some certainty on Conservative cuts to equalization payments. The Conservatives pulled the rug out from under Ontario. They changed the rules and are now shortchanging the province by $1.2 billion. These cuts will hurt Ontario families and will make us less competitive. Why is the minister undermining the fiscal stability of our biggest province?
    Mr. Speaker, Ontario will receive over $19.1 billion in federal transfers this year, a whopping increase of 76% from under the old Liberal government.
    I want to read a quote. It says:
...[the Prime Minister] made a deliberate effort to bring a principle-based approach to...equalization and federal transfers.... We are very much in agreement with that kind of approach....
    Who said that? It was former Liberal Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty.

Transport

    Mr. Speaker, the recall of vehicles with unsafe ignition switches continues to grow. Over three million cars were added this week. U.S. Congressional hearings are seeking answers about why GM failed to act sooner and how the problem slipped past regulators.
    However, in Canada, the minister is not getting to the bottom of things and the Conservatives have even blocked attempts to study the issue. Does the minister really think Canadians do not deserve more answers on a safety defect that cost at least 13 lives?
    Mr. Speaker, car companies in our country are required to notify Transport Canada of any defects and process the recall as soon as they are aware of them. We have no information that would seem to make us have a conclusion other than the one that GM issued its recall here in Canada when it received its information.
    That being said, we continue to monitor the situation in the United States, and if we do see that GM Canada had information prior to the recall we, of course, would take the appropriate steps.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the United States Congress grilled GM over its lax approach to safety and recalls.
    American legislators want to know what happened and what measures have been taken to prevent this from happening again. Canadians also want answers.
    Why are the Conservatives refusing to examine this problem in parliamentary committee?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I said before, GM Canada learned of the defect and the recall exactly when it issued its recall in accordance with our act.
     That being said, we continue to monitor what is happening in the United States. If there is any information that would lead us to believe that GM Canada knew prior to that, of course, we would investigate and continue to ensure that we would prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, the so-called roadmap for official languages is a sham. No new money has been allocated to this plan. The government even cut $120 million from assistance to communities.
    Nevertheless, the government could at least deliver the existing programs. Complaints are coming in from all over. Literacy, training, and social partnerships are all stalled, and communities cannot wait any longer.
    What is the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages doing? It is her responsibility to wake this government up and get it moving.
    Mr. Speaker, I said the same thing yesterday. I will say it again so the member understands.

[English]

    The road map for official languages is the most complete fund that we have ever had in our country. It is $1.1 billion. This is a fund that will provide to our official language communities in a way that has never been done before, including under that member's government.
    We continue to push forward with getting these funds out of the door. My colleagues are doing everything in their power to do so, because they care about these communities.
     I would ask the member to please assist us in ensuring that if he has information regarding some funds that are lapsing, then let us know.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, last week, the minister tried to justify spending tens of millions of dollars more on advertisements and commemorations, instead of programs and services, by telling Canadians about all of the veterans who received $10,000 a month in benefits. There are four who receive that amount. That is less than 1% of seriously injured veterans. Most get much less.
    It is insulting to veterans to justify wasteful advertising spending by trying to make it sound like, somehow, they just won the lottery.
     When will he stop running away from our veterans and finally provide them with the care they desperately need and deserve?
    Mr. Speaker, that does not make it true. I will say again. The average monthly financial benefit an injured veteran may be eligible for is between $4,000 and $6,000 a month. As I said at committee, some injured veterans are receiving a total income that exceeds $10,000 a month. This is in addition to rehabilitation and other supports from our government to help them transition to civilian life. That is the truth.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives proclaim loud and clear that Canada is a leader in maternal health, but in reality, aboriginal women in Canada do not have access to the support they need.
    We recently learned that a maternal health program managed by the first nations and set up on 14 Manitoba reserves will soon lose all of its funding, even though assessments show that the program is effective.
    Could the minister explain why she wants to put an end to the funding for this essential program?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the government has committed over $2.4 billion every year to programs and services aimed at improving aboriginal health, including 24/7 access to essential nursing services in 77 remote communities and home and community care in 686 first nations and Inuit communities.
     We have also committed to excellent projects on the ground every year. These are things like the teddy bear fairs on reserve, which provide cognitive and development screening for children 0-6 years of age and the head start on reserve program, which nurtures the health growth of children from birth to 6 years.
    Mr. Speaker, we are talking about maternal health here. The NDP fully supports maternal health overseas, but women in Canada need support too.
    According to Statistics Canada, the infant mortality rate among first nations in Manitoba is approximately twice that of the general population. That is completely unacceptable.
    Will the minister reverse the decision and maintain funding for this vital maternal health program, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, first, the member knows that we transfer over to $30 billion a year to the provinces and territories to deliver health. On top of that, we are delivering an additional $2.5 billion directly to first nations for programs and services aimed specifically at exactly what she is talking about.
    Let me tell her about the brighter futures program, which involves activities supporting improved mental health, child development, parenting skills and healthy babies. A very successful program across the country, the aboriginal head start on reserve program, nurtures the healthy growth and development of children from birth to 6 years of age by meeting their social, health, nutritional, cultural and psychological needs.
     We will continue to work on this issue.

  (1500)  

Parks Canada

    Mr. Speaker, the recent launch of the national conservation plan by our Prime Minister makes a commitment to connect Canadians to nature, particularly people living in urban areas. The problem is there are no national urban parks in Canada. What is our government doing to make this a reality?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say that we have tabled a bill in the House recently that would create the Rouge national urban park in the greater Toronto area. The park is near 20% of Canada's population, enabling Canadians to connect with nature, culture and agriculture, without having to travel far from their homes. This park would be 16 times larger than Central Park in New York City. This action has been taken by our Conservative government to make this happen.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, instability continues in the Central African Republic. Over 140,000 people have been killed, and fighting has left 2.5 million in need of humanitarian aid.
    On Monday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs told the House that while Canada would not be sending troops to CAR, “there are other ways” Canada would support the UN mission. Our allies have made specific commitments.
    Exactly in what other ways will the government support the UN mission?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is the ninth largest contributor to the UN's peacekeeping budget and supports the UN, French and African Union efforts in this crisis.
     In the last two years, as well, we have provided over $23 million in assistance to help meet the widespread humanitarian needs and over $5 million to the efforts by the African Union and France to restore security in the area. That includes $6.5 million for humanitarian assistance, $5 million for security and another $16 million for humanitarian assistance later in the year.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Royal Society expert panel on the review of Safety Code 6 released its report a month ago and recommended that more research was needed into the health risks of radio frequency fields. Consumers and health advocates are demanding more information and safeguards to reduce exposure to harmful radiation and to investigate radiation hypersensitivity.
    How does the Minister of Health plan to follow up on the concerns coming from the public and the Royal Society's recommendations?
    Mr. Speaker, first, we have already committed to hosting public consultations on any revised safety standards. We do appreciate the work of the Royal Society and we thank it for its report.
    The member should know that Canada's limits are similar to those of other countries around the world, such as the United States, Australia, the European Union and Japan. Canadians should be confident that our limits are some of the strongest science-based standards in the world.
     However, we will continue to review the Royal Society's recommendations and we will take all necessary actions to protect Canadians and their families.

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, today the Governor General will grant royal assent to the fair elections act, which will require all voters to present a physical copy of their ID proving who they are before they vote. Identity vouching is gone and so is the use of unpaid loans to get around donation limits.
     Could the minister comment on how the fair elections act will keep everyday Canadians in charge of democracy?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, with royal assent, the fair elections act will be enacted today. Identification will now be mandatory in order to vote.

[English]

    With today's royal sanction, we have finally and happily achieved the fair elections act, and it will be passed into law.
     We will have royal assent. We will have a requirement for physical ID every time someone votes. No longer will politicians be able to use loans to get around donation limits. We will have independent investigations. It is fair, it is reasonable and, as of today, it will be the law.

[Translation]

Public Service of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, federal employees are boycotting National Public Service Week once again this year.
    The week, which is intended to recognize the importance of the public service, no longer has any meaning, since the Conservatives have cut 19,000 public service jobs and are promising to cut even more. Public servants lament the contemptuous attitude of this government, which prefers to govern based on its own ideology.
    When will the Conservatives stop turning their noses up at the excellent work done by the 400,000 federal public servants?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are committed to a modern and high-performing public service that gets results for Canadian taxpayers. In fact, our government is getting results while making the public service more effective and efficient.

[English]

    For example, there is $3,400 less in taxes per year for the average Canadian family and a balanced budget in 2015.
    If the member opposite would like to ask a follow-up question, I have a whole list of things that are good for Canadians.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, this is a question for the Prime Minister of critical importance for federal-provincial relations and jurisdiction.
    If the Premier of British Columbia continues to maintain that British Columbians and the Government of British Columbia reject Enbridge's twin toxic pipelines, will the Prime Minister agree to rescind approval and respect the province of British Columbia's jurisdiction and the collective will of British Columbians, or does he intend to force it down our throats?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been clear that projects will only move forward if they are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment. After carefully reviewing the independent regulator's report, the government accepts the recommendation to impose 209 conditions on the project. It will be up to the proponent to show the regulator and Canadians that those conditions have been met.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Respect for Communities Act

    The House resumed from June 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Pursuant to an order made on Tuesday, May 27, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the second reading stage of Bill C-2.
    Call in the members.

[Translation]

    The vote is on the motion.

  (1515)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 223)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hoback
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 131

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Angus
Atamanenko
Aubin
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Dubourg
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Eyking
Freeland
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Julian
Larose
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Martin
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Ravignat
Raynault
Saganash
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Sullivan
Thibeault
Tremblay
Trudeau
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 98

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

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

Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act

     The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-6, An Act to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions, be read the third time and passed.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-6.

  (1520)  

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

(Division No. 224)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hoback
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
O'Connor
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 130

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Angus
Atamanenko
Aubin
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Dubourg
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Eyking
Freeland
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Julian
Larose
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Martin
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Murray
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Ravignat
Raynault
Saganash
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Sullivan
Thibeault
Tremblay
Trudeau
Turmel

Total: -- 98

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

[Translation]

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, since this is the last Thursday statement before we break tomorrow for the summer, I would first like to pay tribute to the NDP caucus. For the past four weeks, we have been having evening sittings. The Conservatives and the Liberals missed about 200 opportunities to speak. However, the NDP members were always there for their shifts. What is more, they did the job of the Conservatives and the Liberals. The NDP has a strong and extraordinary caucus. I want to recognize the hardest working caucus that Parliament has ever seen.
    I am not finished because I also want to say that I really appreciate the work of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. He is very knowledgeable and has a lot of energy. I hope he has a good summer. I would also like to thank the House Leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Beauséjour, who has a lot of experience as an MP and as the House leader of the Liberal Party. I wish both of them a good summer.
    As my colleague from Hamilton Mountain did two years ago, I would also like to recognize all those who keep the House running. Canadians watching at home might not realize it, but there is a huge network of talented and professional staff who work tirelessly to make this place run like clockwork.
    First, there is you, Mr. Speaker, and your staff, along with the procedural experts in the clerks' offices, the table, the journals branch, the committee directorate staff, the Library of Parliament staff and, of course, all of our incredible pages, who do a wonderful job.
    There is the Sergeant-at-Arms and everyone from security, as well as traffic operations, the drivers of our green buses, dispatch operators, mail room staff and messengers.
    There is the cafeteria staff and the food services and catering team.
    There is the maintenance staff, the tradespeople in the Parliamentary precinct, materiel management and room allocation.
    There is everyone in information services, including telecom, ISSI, printing services and the broadcasting team.
    There are the people who deal with HR, finance, travel and pay and benefits.
    There are the folks at Hansard who transcribe and edit all of our words and those who translate and interpret them from one official language to the other. Given that the NDP is a bilingual caucus, we really appreciate all the work that is done by the interpreters and translators.

[English]

    The official opposition wishes to one and all a happy summer with lots of door-knocking.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after this proceeding, we will start the second reading debate on Bill C-21, the Red Tape Reduction Act. I know that my hon. friend, the President of the Treasury Board—a man with firm views on paper documents—is very keen to get this debate started.
    Tonight, after private members' hour, the House will resume the third reading debate on Bill C-8, the Combating Counterfeit Products Act. Once that is done, I look forward to picking up where we left off this morning with second reading of two bills to create new parks: Bill C-40, An Act respecting the Rouge National Urban Park, in the greater Toronto area, and Bill S-5, which will establish a new national park reserve in the Northwest Territories.

  (1525)  

[English]

    If we have time left before midnight, we will continue debating Bill C-35, the justice for animals in service act, or Quanto's law); Bill C-26, the tougher penalties for child predators act; Bill C3, the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act; and Bill C-21 if we do not finish that by 5:30 today.
    Tomorrow will be the sixth and final day of second reading debate on Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act, a bill that, despite lengthy debate, all parties agree should be studied by our hard-working justice committee.
    However, the highlight of this week will of course come later this afternoon. The Usher of the Black Rod will knock on the door and summon us to attend the Governor General in the Senate chamber where, with the three constituent elements of Parliament assembled, we will participate in the ancient ceremony of royal assent.
    Based on messages read from the other place, and messages I anticipate later this afternoon, 14 new laws will be made upon His Excellency's imperceptible, or barely perceptible, nod. This will mark a total of 25 bills passing through the entire legislative process since October's Speech from the Throne. Of these, 20% are private members' bills, further underscoring the unprecedented empowerment of members of Parliament under this Prime Minister's government.
    Speaking of the time passing since October, we are also marking the end of the academic year. This means the end of the time with this year's fine class of pages. Here I know that some in the chattering classes have concerns about the length of my weekly business statements, but I hope they will forgive mine today.
    As we all know, the pages work extremely hard and do some incredible work, both in the chamber and in the lobbies. They perform many important duties, which in some cases go unnoticed, or at least so they think. They show up before the House opens each morning and stay until after it closes at night. We all know that over the past few weeks, it has meant much longer days than usual, but even then, the pages have remained professional, respectful, and have started each day with a smile, and ended it with one too, although that occasionally required a bit of encouragement on my part.
    I would first off like to thank them for their service. Without them and their support, members of Parliament would not be nearly as effective and efficient in performing the duties that Canadians sent us to Ottawa to undertake.
    I do have some insight from being married to a former page, from the class of '87 actually, and she often refers to her year as a page as the best year of her life. Here I can say that the experiences the pages have had at the House of Commons is something they will remember for the rest of their lives.
    In addition, I know that in my wife's case, some of the friends she made in the page program are still good friends to this day, including, in fact, the chief of staff to the current leader of the Liberal Party. I hope that will be the same for all of you, that is being friends for life—not that other thing.
    I am sure that the pages are looking forward to the summer break so they can all take their minds off of school and visit with friends and family to share their many stories and experiences, some of which are even funny, with us here in the House. I will not be surprised one day if we find some of them occupying seats in this chamber, something that happened for the first time in this Parliament with the hon. members for Etobicoke—Lakeshore and Mississauga—Brampton South, both having been elected to sit here in this Parliament.
    Some of the pages may also find employment on Parliament Hill working for members, and I know that I have, without fail, been impressed by the high calibre of ambitious young people who have worked in my office during stints as page.
    Over the past three years, the House has worked in a productive, orderly, and hard-working manner, and this has not been possible without the help of the pages. I believe it is safe to say that I speak on behalf of all members of the House when I thank them for their dedication and service, and finally, give them our best wishes for success in all their future endeavours.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Of course, Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not join my counterpart in giving thanks to your fellow chair occupants, the clerks at the table, and the countless staff behind the scenes who support all that we do here, especially all that we did during the four weeks of extended sitting hours. On behalf of the government and the Conservative caucus, I thank them.
    With respect to the schedule of business before the House during the week of September 15, I will ensure that we will, through the usual channels, advise my counterparts of what that will be.
    In closing, I want to wish all hon. members and everybody in this place all the best for a happy and restful summer, and I regret that I have no motion to present at this time.

  (1530)  

    I would like to thank both the opposition House leader and the government House leader, and of course our hard-working pages to whom I extend my own words of thanks. I have got to know quite a few of them over the course of the year and they are, as both House leaders indicated, a very professional and dedicated group of young individuals who, I am sure, have bright futures ahead of them.
    The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the pages on behalf of the Liberal Party. I thank the staff, the personnel, and my colleagues as well. I know it has been tough sitting until midnight, and sometimes later. I thank everybody involved in making this place run, including you, Mr. Speaker, and all your personnel, and obviously our personnel.
    On behalf of the Liberal Party, I would like to wish everybody, not a merry Christmas, but a good summer.

Red Tape Reduction Act

[Government Orders]
Hon. Michelle Rempel (for the President of the Treasury Board)  
     moved that Bill C-21, An Act to control the administrative burden that regulations impose on businesses, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to speak in support of this ground-breaking legislation to reduce red tape, one of the first of its kind in the world.
    The legislation before us would put strict controls on the growth of regulatory red tape by enshrining the one-for-one rule in law, which means that in order to change it, the government of the day would have to go to Parliament.
    The one-for-one rule is the centrepiece of our package of regulatory reforms aimed at cutting red tape that can stifle businesses' productivity and their overall success. Under the rule, regulators must offset any administrative burden that increases from regulatory changes with equal reductions in existing regulation. That is not all. When a brand new regulation is introduced that adds to the administrative burden, an existing regulation must also be repealed. We have been implementing the one-for-one rule since April 1, 2012 through the cabinet directive on regulatory management. However, we are definitely not stopping there.
    With the bill before us today, Canada would be the first country in the world to give the one-for-one rule the added muscle of legislation. This would make it one of the most aggressive red tape reduction measures in the world. The health, safety, and security of Canadians would still be protected. In fact, the preamble of this bill is very clear that the one-for-one rule must not compromise health, public safety, or the Canadian economy.
     After more than two years of experience, we know that the rule is working. Before we look at the success of this measure and of our entire package of regulatory reforms, I want to talk first about why reducing red tape is so important.
    Red tape impacts the livelihoods of all Canadians. It directly affects our ability as a country to create jobs, to grow, to innovate, and to compete. There is a direct connection between red tape and our long-term prosperity. Unnecessary red tape puts a wrench in the smooth flow of trade and bogs down the dynamic exchange of goods and services that is the lifeblood of a healthy economy. It also costs. A 2008 study by Statistics Canada reported that the cost to comply with the information obligations of 12 of the most common federal, provincial, and municipal regulations in five sectors of the economy worked out to a stunning $1.1 billion per year. In that same year, the Canada Revenue Agency calculated that the average annual time spent per establishment to comply with legislative tax requirements was 15 hours, at an annual average cost of $1,724.
    As the Prime Minister has stated, red tape is a hidden tax and a silent killer of jobs. It is a cost business owners, who are already competing tooth and nail, simply cannot afford. We know this because our Prime Minister had the foresight to launch the Red Tape Reduction Commission in January 2011. The Prime Minister asked the commission to identify irritants to business that have clear detrimental effects on growth, competitiveness, and innovation. The commission was also asked to recommend ways to address those irritants and to reduce the compliance burden on a lasting basis, without compromising the environment or the health, safety, and security of Canadians.
    For a year, the commission criss-crossed the country, talking to companies, small-business owners, and associations like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business about what most frustrated them and what they would like to see changed. It hosted a total of 15 round-table sessions in 13 cities, attracting some 200 participants. There was also an online consultation and a dedicated website. Hundreds of ideas were shared, and our red tape reduction action plan, with the one-for-one rule as its cornerstone, is the result.

  (1535)  

    It is my honour today to share with the House how successful the implementation of the rule has been. During its first year of implementation, the one-for-one rule provided successful system-wide control of regulatory red tape impacting business. As of June 1, 2014, under the rule we had reduced the administrative burden by over $20 million and had achieved a net reduction of 19 regulations.
    Allow me to demonstrate by way of a few examples.
    Statistics Canada has amended regulations under the Corporations Returns Act used to collect financial and ownership information on corporations conducting business in Canada. With these changes, only corporations with revenues of more than $200 million, assets worth more than $600 million, or foreign debt and equity of more than $1 million will have to report financial and ownership information. As a result, more than 32,000 businesses will no longer be required to fill out a complex government return. We expect that this will reduce the administrative burden by about $1.2 million a year.
    Here is another example. Employment and Social Development Canada is reducing the red tape burden and the cost to business by repealing a set of regulations that imposed unnecessary administrative requirements on construction companies awarded federal government contracts. With these changes, the estimated annual savings for business is more than $900,000.
    We are also seeing savings at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, which has undertaken a project to modernize the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Mining Regulations. The proposal was recently pre-published in The Canada Gazette part I and will result in estimated annual savings for business of more than $600,000.
    It is estimated that to date, the application of the one-for-one rule has saved businesses well in excess of 100,000 hours per year in time spent dealing with regulatory red tape.
    Treasury Board enforces compliance with the rule, and I am pleased to report that compliance has been strong.
    With these kind of results and more than two years of experience under our belts, it is time to make the rule a permanent feature of the federal regulatory system.
    The Prime Minister has endorsed the one-for-one rule. The 2013 Speech from the Throne committed our government to putting the rule into law, and with the bill before us, we are delivering on that commitment. With this legislation, we are sending a clear signal that our government has an unmatched resolve to cut regulatory red tape for business while continuing to ensure the protection of Canadians and our environment. What is more, this legislation would backstop the one-for-one rule with a strong commitment to transparency and accountability through annual public reporting on its implementation.
    We are not the only ones who think enshrining the one-for-one rule in law is a good idea. Here is a quote from Laura Jones, the executive vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, “The government implemented the one-for-one rule last year. Legislating it shows they are really serious about regulatory reform. It's important because it makes it much harder to undo.”
    Cutting red tape and making regulatory processes as pain-free as possible is one of the most important things government can do to help Canadian businesses thrive, particularly in this time of global economic uncertainty. That is why the red tape reduction action plan gets rid of business irritants in areas such as payroll, labour, and trade and introduces time-saving measures like a single window and electronic submissions.

  (1540)  

    The red tape reduction action plan, which is being rolled out over three years, is one of the most far-reaching and ambitious red-tape-cutting initiatives in the world today. It encompasses a half-dozen fundamental systemic reforms in the way government regulates as well as some 90 specific changes individual departments will undertake.
    Allow me to highlight the systemic reforms that are truly game changers for doing business in Canada. I have already spoken about the one-for-one rule, which has successfully controlled and even reduced the administrative burden in Canada, but I am pleased to add that our action plan also ensures that the needs and concerns of small businesses are considered when we regulate.
    We are talking about businesses with fewer than 100 employees or with between $30,000 and $5 million in annual gross revenues. These businesses represent over 40% of Canada's private sector GDP and almost 50% of all the jobs in the private sector.
    Small businesses are at the heart of Canada's entrepreneurial drive, yet because of their more limited resources, small businesses often feel the weight of the regulatory burden more acutely than others. We are tackling that reality by requiring regulators to use the small business lens for regulations that have a significant impact on small business. That will happen when a regulatory change imposes over $1 million in annual nationwide costs and has an impact on at least one small business.
    Regulators now have to put themselves in the place of small business when they regulate. They have to ask themselves these questions: Is the information we are asking them for already being collected by another government department? Is there another way to regulate that is less burdensome? Most important, are we communicating in plain and understandable language?
    I also want to emphasize that the burden of proof is not on business. It is up to the regulators to prove that they have done everything they can to minimize the costs for small business. All in all, there are 20 small business checklists that regulators have to fill out, publish, and have signed by their ministers as part of the submission package. This ensures that the impacts of new regulations on small businesses are considered in the earliest stages of design, and, if need be, are mitigated.
    Because departments will have to post these completed checklists online, small-business owners will be able to judge for themselves how effectively the government is minimizing the regulatory burden. The one-for-one rule and the small business lens will bring a new discipline to how government regulates and how it is creating a more predictable environment for businesses.
    This is part of our broader commitment under the red tape reduction action plan to improve service and become more accountable. We are introducing service standards for high-volume regulatory licensing, permitting, and certification processes. Businesses will now know how long they have to wait to receive these decisions.
    As a former business owner, I have to interject that certainty is crucial to business potential. If entrepreneurs see opportunity, they must have certainty when they strike out. Specific timelines will help small businesses the most. Departments will publish these timeframes on their websites, and they will have to report on their website whether these targets are being met or not. For all these authorizations, businesses will also have access to a feedback mechanism they can use to register a complaint.
    I am pleased to report that so far regulators have created service standards for 24 of these high-volume regulatory licensing, permitting, and certification processes, which cover more than 60,000 transactions with business each year.

  (1545)  

    One of the things that businesses often complain about is being surprised by unexpected changes to regulations that impact their investment plans. As part of the action plan, we are addressing that by requiring regulators to publish forward regulatory plans. These plans would identify anticipated regulatory changes over the next 24-month period. Business and consumers would be given an early warning of the government's intention to regulate. It gives that all-important predictability that they need to plan. It also allows businesses and consumers to provide their input into the design of new regulations.
    Again, regulators are delivering, and so far, 32 forward regulatory plans from departments have been posted. In these plans, regulators have to identify if they expect the one-for-one rule and the small business lens to apply.
    Treasury Board Secretariat is making it easy for business to find these plans through its government-wide roll-up page. That is to ensure that Canadians and Canadian businesses have a heads-up on regulatory changes that are of interest to them. I encourage all businesses to stay abreast of these anticipated regulatory changes and to get involved in these consultations to make sure they are designed with their input.
    None of these commitments are worth anything and an action plan is only a pile of paper unless we can prove we are fulfilling our promises, which is why we are keeping scrupulous track of just how much red tape we are cutting.
    In January, the President of the Treasury Board had the honour of releasing the first annual scorecard on the red tape reduction action plan, so Canadians can know just how much progress we are making. The scorecard reports on system-wide changes to the regulatory system, particularly on the implementation of the one-for-one rule, service standards, forward planning and, of course, the small business lens. The scorecard is vetted by a regulatory advisory committee, and yearly results are provided to the Auditor General. These external business and consumer experts have reviewed the report, provided their unvarnished advice on its fairness and reliability, and endorsed it as a reasonable account of the progress made.
    These are some of the top regulatory reforms in our action plan. Taken together, our government's red tape reduction action plan ensures that cutting red tape is part of the government's DNA. It goes further than we have ever gone before to meet the needs of business and to be accountable when we regulate, and it cements Canada's reputation as one of the best places in the world to do business and invest.
    Tackling regulation is just one of the many fronts we are working on to create the conditions for businesses to succeed. From fiscal to tax policy, from regulation to immigration, we are empowering businesses to make the most of what they can be, but most importantly, collectively, to make the most of what Canada can be.
    Our government understands that the way to create jobs and growth is to reduce barriers for businesses, not raise them. The bill before us today does that. It frees businesses to do what they do best: innovate, invest, grow and, of course, create jobs, which means it is a bill that would benefit all Canadians. That is why I strongly encourage all members to support the bill moving forward.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the speech from my colleague; however, I have a question for him.
    We regularly speak to people across Canada. I know that many of the small businesses in British Columbia are in the fishing and tourism sectors. I know from reading a letter from a gentleman from Penticton, Lloyd Creech, they are worried about the menace to the small businesses in fishing and tourism due to the approval of the northern gateway pipeline.
    The government waited until the eleventh hour to do something for small and medium businesses. It spent the past two years concentrating on helping the oil lobby approve this terrible pipeline through British Columbia, against the interests of British Columbians.
    Even though we are supporting this bill at second reading, I would like the member to comment on the worries that small businesses have because of the approval of the northern gateway pipeline in British Columbia.
    Mr. Speaker, what I would start with first is I think it behooves this country and all Canadians to have a process in place to take advantage, the best advantage for everyone, of the estimated $650 billion of potential investment that can come through responsible resource development.
    We need to have a process to separate the wheat from the chaff so that we know what projects can go ahead that are safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
    I have heard from people in my riding, some who advocate for the pipeline, some who advocate for its denial. Ultimately, we want to see jobs and the economy grow. When I talked to Mayor Litke at Penticton City Hall, he spoke of the need for infrastructure. Councillor Jakubeit has said that small businesses need to have a strong environment for them to grow.
    The Red Tape Reduction Commission that travelled all across this country, 15 cities, 200 people, all those round tables, actually heard from British Columbia that we need to see interprovincial barriers to wine removed. Bill C-311 actually opened up that interprovincial transit of wine. This comes back to our strong steps on regulatory red tape.
    We are supporting Canadians. We are making sure that good things happen for Canadian businesses.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member on his speech, but given the somewhat self-satisfied tone, one would think the Conservatives had created heaven on earth in this area, when in fact, for each carefully selected example of reduced red tape, we can come up with one or two of increased red tape. I will name two quickly, both in immigration.
    In terms of waiting time for citizenship, the bureaucracy is such that the waiting time has doubled to two and a half years. If anyone has the misfortune of filling out this huge residency questionnaire, it goes up years and years more.
    Perhaps even more telling, Mexican officials say that Canada is the hardest country in the western world for Mexicans to come into given the enormous amount of red tape surrounding the government's visa system.
    Canadian officials take away passports when other countries do not. Canadian officials, by the department's own admission, have a stack of documents they have to fill in, way worse than other countries and with questions that are totally irrelevant. It has cost the tourism industry hundreds of millions of dollars. It has damaged business and diplomatic relations with Mexico simply because the government is drowning the Mexican tourist and individual entry system in red tape.
    How can the member talk about reducing red tape when he is doing exactly the opposite in a very important area of public policy?

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, the approach the government is taking is to acknowledge the impact of red tape on all Canadians, particularly Canadian businesses, and that when government seeks to regulate, it should find the level of regulation that has the least amount of burden on businesses.
    When a new regulation goes in, one of equal value has to come out, and this is done by a monetizing system to make sure that compliance is not onerous.
    The member is part of a party which, when it had power, put the immigration system in such a state that Canadian businesses could not count on it and the backlogs were quite huge.
     I think all Canadians want to ensure that when government puts things in place it recognizes that the Canadian taxpayer cannot end up paying for it.
    We are recognizing that red tape has a cost. We are trying to take the burden off as much as possible. We are also making sure that we are accountable to taxpayers.
    If the member had listened to my speech, he would see how the accountability mechanisms are very clear and even he could find them on the website.
    Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak at a utilities forum in Washington, DC. Prior to my speech, there was an entire panel devoted to lamenting the regulatory state in the United States because of some of the issues that my colleagues brought up, including non-predictability, such as new regulations affecting capital investments, because it becomes a new determinant to capital investment. Also, there is the cost of not reviewing regulations on a regular basis, because there can actually be overlapping regulations which increase the compliance burden to industry.
    I am wondering if my colleague could speak specifically to how this particular bill could actually provide a competitive advantage for foreign direct investment into this country, because we will have a predictable regulatory review system. As well, perhaps he could speak to how the ongoing review of regulations can actually provide a better economy, because we have a clearer system by which industry can see that regulations are reviewed for efficacy on an ongoing basis.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the minister for her work in making sure that our economy in the west is diversified and strong.
    First of all, as I mentioned in my speech, the passage of this particular piece of legislation would send a signal that Canada is open for business and that we recognize there are legitimate costs that are borne by small and large businesses when the federal government regulates.
    Again, I would go back to the three questions that the small business lens will ask.
    Is the information we are asking for already being collected by another government department? This would reduce red tape.
     Is there another way to regulate that is less burdensome? There are many ways to skin a cat, and I think this bill acknowledges that we should be looking at other options.
    Are we communicating in plain language? Small business owners do not have time to research every rule. They need common-sense language so that they can know what they are doing.
    Last, for foreign direct investment, nothing says opportunity than having low taxes and having an educated, strong workforce, but they also need to have regulatory certainty.
    In British Columbia we have developed a number of coal mines. I have heard that Australian companies are looking at Canada because of our low taxes, because we have coal that they can mine, but also because of our regulatory certainty. They know that this government understands their needs and will regulate so that they and Canadians benefit, that their health and safety is protected, and that there are jobs and economic growth in British Columbia.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, the preamble to the bill suggests that the only exceptions to this rule would be in cases where public health and safety or the Canadian economy are affected. Which one would win when it is both? If we are making a regulation for public health and safety, but to make that regulation would hurt, say, a railway company, which in turn would hurt the Canadian economy, do we then abandon the regulation? Which one would win?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, the one-for-one rule does not apply to areas of the Minister of Finance, so they can make sure that our regulations are strong in regard to the economy and on health and safety. Let us just take a step back. This is not the actual regulation of those areas. This is the compliance. For example, one could have a piece of paper with 20 pieces of information on it, some of which are not actually necessary in order to show compliance. By adding the small business lens, by adding the one-for-one, we are trying to make sure that when our regulators do regulate, it is done in as convenient and efficient process as possible, such as going to the single window for service or email submissions, which reduce costs. Again, this is not in dealing with health and safety like the member has said.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, before getting to the substance of my speech, I would like to say a few words about the fact that the NDP is the only party that takes advantage of all possible speaking opportunities in the House. As we know, we are sitting until midnight on weekdays to debate various issues.
    The Conservatives must have missed about 200 opportunities to speak. The Liberals have also missed a lot. They are absent from the debates. I find that deplorable. It is really too bad that we are not using all the speaking and debate time we have to discuss and duly represent our ridings, voters, constituents and people.
    As you know, I am the small business deputy critic. I therefore have the pleasure of speaking to Bill C-21, An Act to control the administrative burden that regulations impose on businesses.
    Bill C-21 includes the one-for-one rule. This rule requires the government to eliminate a regulation every time it adopts a new one. The government must also offset any new burden on small businesses, that is, time and money spent by businesses to demonstrate compliance with amendments to existing regulations, in order to ease the burden for businesses.
    In addition, Bill C-21 stipulates that the president of the Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives respecting the manner in which the rule is to be applied. He may also make regulations respecting the period within which measures must be taken to comply with the regulations, the manner of calculating the cost of an administrative burden, how the law will apply to regulations changed when the one-for-one rule came into effect, and the power to grant exceptions.
    Although Bill C-21 claims to reduce red tape for businesses, it will actually make the president of the Treasury Board the arbiter of eliminating regulations. A very important point here is that the government claims to deal with something that is actually not that simple. When we meet with small and medium-sized businesses, we know that they would really like to be able to reduce red tape. However, we must be careful because this bill claims to reduce red tape, but, in fact, it is giving yet another discretionary power to the president of the Treasury Board.
     Personally, I remember seeing other similar bills whose intent is often to provide greater authority and greater flexibility. For instance, Bill C-31 was meant to give greater discretionary authority to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. However, when a minister is given greater discretionary authority, this means that the rules may be good for some, and not so much for others. That is when things begin to fall apart and then, ultimately, things begin to get far more complicated and a lot harder to track. The minister has the authority to say yes in some cases and no in others, when in reality, the situations are identical. We cannot clearly rely on the rules.
     Unfortunately, we cannot trust the Conservatives; we have seen this in the past. They have a habit of deregulating without any regard for the health and safety of Canadians. These are vital issues; there is no denying that. The Conservatives, and the Liberals before them, did not manage to defend the regulations protecting the health and safety of Canadians.

  (1605)  

     I must refer to the events that allow me to say today that the Conservatives are not there when it comes time to regulate appropriately. I will now bring them up. It is not easy to talk about these tragic events, but I need to.
     The Lac-Mégantic tragedy put the important issue of rail safety in Canada back on the agenda following decades of Liberal and Conservative deregulation.
     Let us look at other issues such as the maritime search and rescue centre in Quebec City, which was ultimately kept open. For over two and a half years, the Conservatives wanted to close it down. After they threatened the centre with closure, they realized that what mattered was saving lives and that by looking to close the centre, they were endangering the lives of Canadians. In the next election, I will be sure to remind voters that the Conservatives hesitated for two and a half years. That is unacceptable. We cannot take shortcuts when people’s health and safety are at stake.
     Let’s talk about another issue, again in Quebec City. As we know, the Port of Québec went through periods when the city’s air was contaminated with nickel dust. Once again, we need to ensure that there are regulations to protect the public. Normally, businesses are proud to be involved in making and enforcing regulations that benefit the public.
    XL Foods was another big one. If the government cuts the number of food inspectors, such incidents should come as no surprise. There are fewer people on the ground doing inspections. When it comes to regulations, the government needs to think twice and make sure it is doing the right thing because it cannot make mistakes that could have a direct impact on the health and safety of Canadians.
    In Bill C-21, only the preamble states that regulations affecting the health and safety of Canadians will not be affected. No mention is made of the environment. It is not in the bill at all.
    The same thing happened with the free trade agreements the government signed. Human rights and the environment were relegated to the sidelines even though we expected the federal government to sign free trade agreements containing clear measures. Now human rights and the environment are an afterthought. I think we can have economic development that prioritizes people's health and safety as well as their environment.
    If the Conservatives really care about the health and safety of Canadians, why did they not specifically guarantee the application of the bill and the regulations that protect people's health and safety? That could have been done. The government should make it a priority to implement regulations that protect the health and safety of Canadians and their environment. This bill seems to completely disregard that obligation. We need more than the government's promises and the preamble of a bill because that could leave room for interpretation in the years ahead.
    We want a guarantee that deregulation will not apply to those provisions, and we want it now. We have not been given that guarantee yet. Regulations that are in the public interest should be preserved. The idea is not just to limit, in theory, the number of regulations and determine which are good for Canadians and which are not. There has to be a reasonable way to undertake public administration. Giving more powers to the president of the Treasury Board is definitely not the way to ensure good public administration.
    The many small business owners I have talked to agree that there should be less useless red tape.

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    The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, an organization that I have met with on a number of occasions, estimates that business owners pay $30 billion in hidden taxes in the form of the time and money they spend completing forms and following government rules, and it believes that this needs to change.
    I am proud to tell this organization that the NDP is always open to helping small businesses by eliminating useless red tape and letting them focus on what they do best: growing their business and creating jobs. The NDP remains a partner to SMEs.
    Red tape is not the only thing that small business owners come to me about. They also regularly tell me that the Conservatives boast about helping small businesses by eliminating red tape, but that they did not renew the hiring credit for small business. It was not in budget 2014. However, businesses have been clear: this hiring credit is important. It gives them some breathing room. Even though it had the means to do so, the government deliberately decided to ignore SMEs and eliminate the credit. That is not surprising, coming from the Conservatives. This is a very important measure to help SMEs grow and to create more good jobs.
    SME owners are unanimous in asking me when this government will finally take serious action to regulate the anti-competitive credit card fees that merchants must pay to card issuers. If the Conservatives truly wanted to help SMEs, they would support the NDP's proposal to regulate the fees that credit card companies charge to merchants.
    I meet with SME representatives and they show me their bills. They have been crippled by banking fees this year and their profits have decreased considerably. They sometimes even have to reconsider their decision to go into business. This goes for SMEs that have been in business for several years and those that are just getting started. Banking fees have gotten so high that SMEs have no choice but to take them into account. These fees cut into their profits and wages so much that owners start to wonder if they have made the right choice. That is not insignificant.
     The Conservatives did diddly-squat. While small businesses are the ones creating most of Canada’s new jobs, they get very little attention from the Conservative government. In fact, this government preferred to give away billions of dollars in corporate tax breaks, starting with the oil companies, obviously. Even though they produce oil, they apparently need tax breaks. I have always thought that oil producers do not need any public money.
     They gave away billions of dollars instead of supporting small businesses, the real job creators. This is why the NDP decided to support small business. There is nothing better than small businesses to turn around the economy of a region or a community. Profits made by a small business generally go toward developing the region. This money flows through the town or community where the small business is located. That also means local jobs. There is a lot less of a chance of outsourcing as well. This is why supporting small businesses pays off.
     The Conservatives say they want to cut red tape, but they did quite the opposite with the Building Canada fund.

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     Rather than helping municipalities and small businesses start their infrastructure projects within an acceptable time, the Conservatives created a long and cumbersome bureaucratic system for any project over $100 million. That will result in delays of 6 to 18 months, holding back major projects. Furthermore, this government has done nothing to make it easier for small businesses to secure government contracts. We saw it in committee; this should be made easier. Several associations have done their job and tried to make the government aware of this, but contracts should be broken up so that small businesses can access them. It would be worthwhile to make improvements in this area. It is practically impossible for our small businesses in Canada to compete with big corporations when bidding on government contracts, which are so long and complicated.
     Over the coming months, the member for Sudbury and I intend to continue taking part in consultations with small businesses. Young entrepreneurs and family businesses are the key to a prosperous economy in Canada. That is why New Democrats will continue to work toward a pragmatic, common-sense solution in order to contribute to their success.
     If the Conservatives sincerely wanted to help small businesses, they would not drag their feet and would take action against the excessive fees that credit card companies are charging merchants. Neither would they have, as I previously mentioned, eliminated the small business hiring tax credit in the 2014 budget. In this respect, I encourage all small business owners to write their MPs to let them know how important this tax credit was to them. The NDP intends to contact small businesses in all ridings and encourage them to help us make sure that the government understands once and for all that this tax credit helped create and maintain a lot of jobs. These are not unstable part-time jobs that will end in three months, but good solid jobs.
    Again, the NDP believes in common-sense solutions for cutting red tape for small businesses. Allow me to mention something that the government should bear in mind: when we meet with SMEs they often tell us about the lack of collaboration between the different government bodies. We know that this Conservative majority government has a hard time getting along with its provincial and municipal counterparts. That is a serious problem. SMEs sometimes have to fill out forms at both the federal and provincial levels. There needs to be an agreement to make it easier and ensure that SMEs do not have to fill out the same form 10 times, send them to a number of different places and follow different criteria. Those who work 80 hours a week for their SME might not have the time in the evening to figure out how each body operates and so forth. To make things easier for the SMEs, we need a government that listens, that does not say that it does not care and then goes ahead without listening to a word anyone else has to say. We need a government that will listen.
    When various situations came up in Quebec, I would have liked the federal government to listen more closely. Listening closely can pay off and make life easier. Today, we are all saying we would like to improve things. I think that the current approach is not exactly the one that should be used and I hope that the government will understand that. We will not approve the additional discretionary powers for the ministers. That is not what is needed here. We need to simplify the process.

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    If we get rid of one approach and replace it with another then the rule of “one plus one plus one minus one plus one” might further confuse the SMEs. They want us to decide on one way of doing things and keep it that way for 10 years so that they do not have to read a new instruction manual every time they have to fill out a form.
    I will now take questions.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. We could talk about it for a long time. She clearly outlined the problem of government support for SMEs. She rightly mentioned that one of the major problems brought to our attention was credit card fees, which directly reduce SMEs' liquidity.
    I would like to know whether my colleague believes that the one-for-one rule is the ultimate panacea, as we heard in the previous speech. Are there not better ways to promote small business development?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague for his comments. I know that the member for Louis-Hébert is very interested in the challenges facing businesses. He has also looked at important issues such as how businesses can use the Internet to increase their exports. He has done great work on that issue in recent years. I would like to congratulate him because he has some good ideas regarding SMEs that could be included in the NDP's new platform.
    His question was about the one-for-one rule. I believe that there are better approaches. For every regulation that is eliminated, another is added. That is very confusing for people and SMEs that have to apply the rule. In my opinion, the government has not properly addressed the desired objective of cutting red tape. The Conservatives have missed the mark. This rule could be revisited because I believe that it does not take into account the health and safety of Canadians, as I mentioned several times. We are concerned about the fact that this is barely mentioned in the bill's preamble, which also does not mention the environment.

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    Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk credit cards with my colleague. When I meet store owners or people in my riding who have small businesses, they also talk to me about red tape. However, most of the time they talk about credit card fees and not much else. Some of them have even decided not to accept credit cards because it costs too much. It is hurting businesses. Fewer people are paying with cash these days, meaning that fewer people will do business with those companies. It is harming consumers and businesses.
    I am imagine that it is the same in my colleague's riding. Does she see that as a problem? The NDP already suggested that an ombudsman regulate credit card fees. Could that be a solution?
    Mr. Speaker, the issue of banking fees is important, and it unites all Canadians, small and medium-sized businesses, consumers—basically, anyone with a credit card.
    Here is a little known fact: when someone eats out at a restaurant, a large portion of our money goes to the banks, depending on the credit card used. It even comes out of the restaurant owner's pocket. That is the reality. It may be a small percentage here and there, but when you add up all those transactions, it comes out to a huge amount. It has become a serious problem.
    Moreover, points cards are increasingly popular. Companies such as American Express take a significant percentage. When businesses decide to accept a certain kind of credit card, they cannot get rid of it just because it costs too much or because they prefer another card. It is a package deal. That reality is causing a lot of problems.
    However, in 2009, the House of Commons passed a motion calling on the government to adopt legislation to put an end to excessive credit card interest rates. Five years later, the government still has not introduced a bill addressing this issue. I find it odd that the Conservatives have not taken action when they must realize that bank fees are a serious problem. It is shameful.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech, and I commend her for her passion. She spoke about the issue of red tape for small businesses.
    There are two dairy farmers and cheese producers in my riding. When the government announced the Canada-EU agreement on various products, including dairy products, a problem emerged for dairy farmers. Most of the cases involve small family businesses, since the property values sometimes get so out of hand that it is very difficult to transfer small businesses unless it is from one generation to another.
    One aspect of the dairy industry, in my riding in particular, and in many regions in Quebec, is that dairy farmers are required to keep producing higher quality milk. When I visited farms in my riding, I was overwhelmed to see how much time farmers spent filling out forms because a cow seemed to be faltering, instead of milking the cows and taking care of the animals' health. They have to make a report every time the dairy animals seem to have a health problem.
    On the one hand, the government is requiring better quality dairy products in order to compete with products from the outside, but on the other hand, it is claiming that it will cut the red tape.
    I would like my colleague to talk about this persistent contradiction, namely that the government is claiming to cut red tape but then requires more paperwork to ensure we are more or as competitive as the new markets opening up outside Canada.

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