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View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2020-02-07 10:38 [p.1078]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Lévis—Lotbinière for sharing his time with me so I could add my comments on the bill.
I want to also thank my constituents for sending me here for a second term and for the trust they placed in me in the past election.
Bill C-3 was in the last Parliament. I was a member of Parliament at that time and I remember the debates on the subject. Much of the content of the legislation being proposed before us is similar. The fact that this happens to be one of the government's earliest bills, when we have so many urgent, more critical issues to deal with, just calls into question the judgment of the government in pushing this forward at this time.
I support the contents of the bill. I support making a complaints body. I support greater oversight over the civil service and in other situations as well. I spent the better part of the last Parliament on two different committees, foreign affairs and finance, calling exactly for that greater oversight. Our role as parliamentarians is to ensure the oversight of the Government of Canada's spending, but also the oversight over the civil service and what it does.
I know, Madam Speaker, that you sat on a committee in the previous Parliament, the OGGO as we call it, operations and government estimates.
Again, there are so many other things with which we could be dealing.
I often have heard members say, for example ,this is a good, or, for example, this legislation has this concept or, for example, these are the types of problems this legislation will solve.
This will bring me to my Yiddish proverb, one that says, “for example” is not the same as proof, proof of why we should be pursuing this legislation at this time with this expediency. There are so many other issues.
I will use, for example, there are other issues we should have brought forward and dealt with immediately. These issues are of number one concern to people in Alberta, people in my constituency and people all across Canada.
I will mention, for example, the first time homebuyers incentive program. Just last week, the Government of Canada, to a question I asked on the Order Paper, gave us an answer on the $1.25 billion of spending on a program that had helped fewer than 3,000 people. I called it an election gimmick many months ago when the program came out.
I chased down the Department of Finance officials. I chased down Evan Siddall, the CEO of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the minister and many others at different committees to get answers before the House. Now we see from the results that the program has failed. It would be much more interesting for the House to do a deep dive into this program more closely.
The Government of Canada has said that 2,700 approvals happened, but as my colleague from Calgary Rocky Ridge mentioned to me, industry standards say that only about 50% of the people actually went through with it.
We have put aside $1.25 billion, and probably have helped 1,300 people achieve their dream of home ownership, which is an abysmal failure for a government program, a program pushed forward by the Minister of Finance and the minister for families and social development. The program was highly defended by Department of Finance officials and CMHC officials who did not like my chasing down answers on behalf of constituents. People in my riding are very worried about that.
That is a bill we could be reviewing right now, a piece of legislation to review the program and maybe eliminate it. It would save some money, time and look into why we failed as an oversight body to stop this election gimmick. That is my first example.
Originally the Government of Canada said that 100,000 people would be helped by the program. After 99 days, in the data provided in the House, we know that only about 32,000 people would be helped over a four-year time span. When I originally asked the question at committee about where the government got the number of 100,000 people, the Department of Finance officials told me that CMHC gave them the numbers and CMHC officials told me that the Department of Finance gave them the numbers. I am sure, Madam Speaker, that has been your experience in the past on different parliamentary committees, where department officials disagree about who gave whom what numbers. That would be a worthy enterprise for the House, to look into why this program so massively failed.
I know that in this next budget, potentially we could be expanding the reach of the program to $789,000 homes. I am very worried that the expansion of this program would not meet any of its goals.
We could, for example, have looked at the approval of Teck Frontier and the legislation governing it. The Teck Frontier project is a $20.6 billion investment in northern Alberta: 10,000 jobs, 7,500 construction and 2,500 operating jobs annually for four years. It is wholly within the territory of Alberta. It is wholly within the jurisdiction of Alberta. We control our natural resources.
As an Albertan, I do not want a handout. The people of my constituency do not want a handout. We do not want a just transition directed from Ottawa to the people of Alberta. We simply want to be given the respect and dignity to continue creating wealth. We are fine if a portion of the equalization and transfer payments are redistributed to our friends in rest of Canada.
However, Teck Frontier would be an important issue to be debated before the House. It must be approved.
As I asked yesterday in the House, I am wondering if the Government of Canada is afraid to say “yes” to prime minister Jason Kenney—Premier Jason Kenney. I was thinking in French. It would be an interesting one to look at that.
Albertans will say that if this project is not approved, they will know they are not respected within the Confederation. That is a drastic change to how the Confederation is supposed to work. I want the Confederation of 1867, the way the Fathers of Confederation intended it to be, truly autonomous provinces, able to develop their resources, able to do the best things for the people of their province. Provincial governments are elected to do that.
I know the people of Quebec understand this and have fought for this for decades now, just like all provincial residents should do. They should be looking to the provincial governments. It would be worthy, for example, of the House to look at, to ensure the Government of Canada is making the right decisions on behalf of Canadians and on behalf of Albertans.
We could be looking at the Trans Mountain pipeline, its construction and the series of missteps, dithering and failures of the Government of Canada that led to point where a business, Kinder Morgan, opted out. Northern gateway was cancelled, energy east was cancelled, TMX was expropriated.
As my colleague, the member for Carleton likes to say, “All our exes are in Texas.” All those companies moved their money to Texas, and are now building thousands of kilometres of pipeline in Texas for product that will compete at the Oklahoma hub with Alberta product. That situation is an absolutely travesty. For example, that would be something we could have considered instead of doing Bill C-3 immediately.
Bill C-3 could have been cobbled with other matters before the House.
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