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View Michael Chong Profile
Madam Speaker, Bill C-69, in front of us today, has a lot of different changes to current acts of Parliament, but also introduces new acts of Parliament. While I support one of the principles in the bill, which is the “one project, one assessment” process for major natural resource projects, there are too many problems with this bill for me to support it.
In particular, I want to focus on the new impact assessment act that the bill creates. First and foremost, the bill will not streamline, and make quicker, assessments for projects designated to be included in the project list. While the government says that the proposed impact assessment act would reduce the current legislated timelines for reviewing projects from 365 days to a maximum of 300 days for assessments led by the new review agency, and from 720 days to a maximum of 600 days for assessments led by a review panel, it is failing to acknowledge that while these timelines are shorter, the new legislation also introduces a planning phase ahead of an assessment led by either the review agency or the review panel. That planning phase can last up to 180 days.
In fact, this legislation will actually increase the amount of time that it takes for major natural resource projects to be reviewed under a federal environmental assessment. Furthermore, while the timelines put in place for the actual impact assessment are shorter, the timelines in the current legislation in front of the House can be extended by the Minister of Environment and by the cabinet, repeatedly.
There is nothing in this legislation to suggest that the process by which we review proposed projects will be shorter, in fact it suggests that it is actually going to be longer. The legislation in front of us will not actually lead to more efficient and less costly assessments for companies looking to invest in Canada's natural resource sector. In fact, the evidence in the bill is that it is going to be much more expensive for companies to make these applications, because the government has proposed to substantially expand the number of criteria that the review agency or review panel has to take into consideration when it is assessing a project. It does not just have to take into account environmental factors. It now also has to take into account health, social, and economic impacts, as well as impacts on other issues, and these impacts over the long term.
When we take into account this vastly expanded criteria and that it is vastly expanded over the long term, it is clear that companies are going to have to spend a lot more money preparing for these applications and working through the application process.
Proposed section 22 of the impact assessment act lists more than 20 factors that have to be considered in assessing the impact of a designated project. For example, there is a reference to sustainability and to the intersection of sex and gender with other identity factors. These are just some of the added criteria that the government has added to the process, which is just going to increase the cost and complexity for proponents. It is not only going to be a much longer process for proponents to go through; it is also going to be a much costlier process.
This is a big problem, because we have a problem in Canada with attracting, not just domestic but foreign investment for natural resource projects. In fact, Statistics Canada recently, this past spring, highlighted that there has been the biggest drop in foreign direct investment into this country in eight years. Last year saw the deepest plunge in foreign investment in this country since the deep, dark days of 2010, when we were just coming out of the recession of 2009 caused by the global financial crisis of 2008.
We have seen a massive plunge in foreign direct investment, a massive drop in investors willing to invest in Canadian companies. In fact, last year, for the second year in a row, we saw more foreign selling of Canadian companies than purchasing of Canadian companies. This has led to a drop in investment, particularly in the oil sector, with the commensurate drop in jobs and growth.
However, there is another problem with the bill that I want to highlight, which has to do with the designated project list. In other words, there is a problem in how certain projects get designated for an environmental assessment and how other projects do not. It remains to be seen with the proposed legislation whether or not the government will get it right in regulation.
Earlier this year, the government announced that it was going to undertake consultations with a view to help revise the regulations concerning the designated projects list. The Liberals said they would be coming forward with new regulations under the proposed act, and I hope they read the Hansard transcript tonight of the debates here in the House of Commons to ensure that our input is incorporated, if the bill does pass, in these new regulations.
The problem is one of inequity and unfairness from a whole range of perspectives. If a mine is proposed in western Canada, let us say in Alberta, under both the pre-2012 rules and the current 2012 rules, and potentially under the proposed legislation, it would undergo a federal environmental assessment. However, if that same mine was proposed in southern Ontario, mines that we often call “gravel pits” or “quarries”, it would not undergo a federal environmental assessment.
I will give members an example of this. In 2011, a mega-quarry was proposed in southern Ontario by an American company that had acquired over 2,500 acres of prime farmland in Dufferin County. That American company had acquired the equivalent of 10 square kilometres of land to build an open pit mine. Under the pre-2012 rules and the 2012 rules, and potentially under this proposed legislation, the federal government said that it did not require a federal environmental assessment, yet if that same 10 square kilometre mine was proposed in Alberta, let us say an open pit bitumen mine, a federal environmental assessment most certainly would have been required. This is an example of the unfairness of the current and potentially the proposed system the federal government has.
If one builds a mine to extract iron ore or bitumen in western Canada, one would undergo a federal environmental assessment, but if the same mine is proposed in southern Ontario, then do not worry, the government will turn a blind eye and not have it undergo that federal environmental assessment. Therefore, it is not just treating one sector of the economy different from another, the oil and gas sector, or the iron ore sector compared with the aggregate sector, but it is also treating one region of the country differently from another, and that is not fair. I hope that the government, in undertaking these consultations, takes that into account.
It is also not fair to the environment when a 10 square kilometre open pit mega-quarry is proposed for southern Ontario, which would have plunged 200 feet deep and pumped 600 million litres of fresh water out of the pit each and every day. It should undergo the same federal environmental assessment that a mine of similar size would undergo in western Canada. It should undergo that, because in southern Ontario we have the most dense biosphere in the entire country. There is all the more need to protect this dense biosphere, which is under greater threat than any other part of the country largely due to the growing urban populations we see in the Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Windsor, and Toronto corridor.
I hope the government's yet-to-be-created project list, whether it is based on the current legislation or the proposed legislation, treats all sectors of the economy and all regions of the country fairly, and I hope the department is incorporating this input as it comes forward with new regulations.
There is yet another problem with the proposed legislation before the House, and it plays into a broader pattern of the government, and that is of political interference. As the member for St. Albert—Edmonton just pointed out, the proposed legislation would allow the minister a veto power over natural resource project applications. This is unprecedented in this country. Until the Liberal government came to power, not a single natural resource project had been rejected or approved by the federal cabinet before the federal environmental assessment process had been completed, and not a single federal environmental assessment process had been overruled by federal cabinet.
In other words, up until this government, the federal cabinet accepted every single recommendation coming out of a federal environmental review process over the many decades that it was in place. The current government's rejection of the northern gateway pipeline was the first time the federal cabinet had stopped the process for the review of a major natural resource project before allowing that process to be completed and before allowing the cabinet to accept fully the recommendations of that process.
Here, in this legislation, we see a repeat of that pattern. They are proposing to give the minister a veto power. Before an impact assessment can begin, the minister will have the power not to conduct an assessment if the minister believes the proposed project would cause unacceptable effects. That is so broad a criteria that a person could drive a Mack truck through that. There again we see the politicization of processes that were once arm's length, quasi-judicial, and left to the professional public service.
Another example of this politicization of what was once performed by the professional public service, by quasi-judicial entities, is Bill C-49. Bill C-49 gives the Minister of Transport a political veto over a review of joint ventures by an airline. Up to Bill C-49, and for many years, any airline that wanted to enter into a joint venture had to undergo a review by one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the world, the Competition Bureau, to ensure that there were no anti-competitive results from a joint venture. In fact, when Air Canada proposed a joint venture with United Airlines some years ago, the Competition Bureau said no to the original proposal for that joint venture and said they had to pull out of that joint venture a number of cross-border routes because they would be deleterious to competition, and because it would increase prices for consumers and for businesses across Canada.
What the current government has done through Bill C-49, which it rammed through the House and Senate, is it has given the Minister of Transport the ability to veto that process through a broad definition of public interest to bypass the Competition Bureau's review of a joint venture, and to rubber-stamp a joint venture in the interests of the airline and against the competition interests of consumers in this country. With the recent passage of Bill C-49, Air Canada has announced a joint venture with Air China. I do not think that is any coincidence.
Thus, these are just a few examples of how the government is politicizing the process for law enforcement of our competition laws and for the review of major natural resource projects that no previous government has ever done.
Finally, I want to critique the Liberal government's general approach to environmental issues. The Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty. On pipeline approvals, they have created uncertainty. That is why Kinder Morgan has announced that it is pulling out of Canada and why it sold its assets to the Government of Canada. They have created a climate of uncertainty in the business community. That is why, as I previously mentioned, Statistics Canada, this spring, reported that foreign investment into Canada plunged last year to its lowest level in eight years. There has been an exodus of capital from the country's oil and gas sector. Statistics Canada reports that capital flows dropped for a second year in a row last year, and are down by more than half since 2015. Net foreign purchases by foreign businesses of Canadian businesses are now less than sales by those foreign businesses, meaning that foreign companies sold more Canadian businesses than they bought.
On climate change, they have created a great deal of uncertainty.
The Liberals came with big fanfare with their price on carbon, but they have only priced it out to $50 per tonne to 2022. They have not announced what happens after 2022. We are four short years away from 2022, and businesses and consumers need the certainty of what happens after 2022.
Furthermore, the Liberals have created uncertainty because $50 per tonne does not get us to our Paris accord targets. In fact, last autumn the Auditor General came forward with a report saying that Canada will not meet its Paris accord targets of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 with the $50-per-tonne target. He estimated that we are some 45 megatonnes short of the target.
The Liberals have created uncertainty with their climate change policy because they have been inconsistent on climate change policy. They are inconsistent with how they treat one sector of the economy versus another. For example, they demand that projects in the oil and gas sector take into account both upstream and downstream emissions, while not requiring projects in other sectors of the economy to do the same.
They are inconsistent with climate change policy in the way they treat one region of the country versus another. The Auditor General's report from a week ago, report 4, highlights the inconsistency in the way they treat central Canadians versus the way they treat westerners.
For example, the Liberals tell western Canadian oil and gas producers that climate change impacts need to be part of the approval process of any major natural resource project, and yet they turn around, and one of the first decisions they make as a government is to waive the tolls on the new federal bridge in Montreal, a $4-billion-plus bridge. The Auditor General reported, in report 4 last week, that waiving the tolls will result in a 20% increase in vehicular traffic over that bridge, from 50 million to 60 million cars and trucks a year, an additional 10 million vehicles crossing that bridge every year, with the attendant greenhouse gases and pollution that this entails.
The Liberals tell companies and Canadians on one side of the country that they have to take into account greenhouse gas emissions when they propose a new project in the oil and gas sector, but when the government builds a brand new federal bridge in Montreal for $4 billion-plus, it is not going to take into account those greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, it will waive the tolls, which is going to lead to a 20% jump in traffic, with the attendant greenhouse gas emissions that this entails.
Finally, the Liberals have created a climate of uncertainty by their failure to realize that our income taxes are too high. The government talks a good game about the environment and the economy, but the facts speak otherwise. They blew a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reduce corporate and personal income taxes. They failed to seize the opportunity of using the revenues generated by the price of carbon to drive down our high corporate and personal income taxes. They also failed to seize the opportunity to reform our income tax system to reduce its complexity and its distortive nature.
Our system was reformed in 1971 by the government of Pierre Trudeau. It was reformed again in 1986 by the government of Brian Mulroney. It has been over 30 years since we have had any significant income tax reform to our personal income tax system or our corporate income tax system, and the Liberals blew the chance to do it, even though they promised to take a look at tax reform in their very first budget.
The government talks a good game on the environment and the economy, but the facts say otherwise. It is a story of a missed opportunity, and that is why I cannot support this bill.
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Francesco Sorbara Profile
2018-06-05 16:53 [p.20280]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-74 on behalf of the Government of Canada, as well as our government's planned investments to strengthen the middle class and maintain the strength and sustainable growth of the Canadian economy.
Budget 2018, entitled “Equality + Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, represents the next stage in our plan to invest in people and the communities where they live in order to provide the best opportunities for success to the middle class and all Canadians.
The bill we are talking about today, budget implementation act, 2018, No. 1, is the next step in the plan that our government launched over two years ago. When we took office, we jumped into action by helping develop a confident middle class that stimulates economic growth and that is currently benefiting from more opportunities for success than ever.
Giving Canadians the opportunity to reach their full potential is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do for our economy. The decision to invest in the middle class is the right decision. Targeted investments combined with the hard work of Canadians across the country have helped create good, well-paying jobs and will continue to strengthen the economy over the long term.
Before I go into some of the measures introduced in Bill C-74, it is always a good thing to step aside and take a holistic approach to what is going on in the Canadian economy. For example, if we look at the first quarter gross domestic product, we see some continuing good signs. As an economist, I love these terms. We had real final domestic demand rise by 2.1%, driven by a 10.9% increase in business investment.
Recently, off those numbers, the Bank of Canada governor, Stephen Poloz, commented on the signs of the economy of exports and business investment continuing to pick up. Despite the uncertainties in the global economy and the continuing NAFTA negotiations, business investments remain strong.
Those are great signs for our economy, but what does that really translate to? Quite simply, it translates to 600,000 new jobs, 600,000 people working today who were not working two and a half years ago. Those Canadians are our neighbours, our friends, our family. Also, 300,000 kids have been lifted out of poverty because of the Canada child benefit, which we introduced and which is arriving monthly, tax-free, to Canadian families, such as the families in my riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge. Those are great things that we are doing.
The A.T. Kearney foreign direct investment confidence index came out two weeks ago, making comments on what our plan for the economy is doing for Canada. Canada was ranked number two. I would like to read what the A.T. Kearney index said:
Canada moves up three spots to its highest ranking in the history of the Index. An update to the Investment Canada Act, a newly established Invest Canada agency, and new trade agreements [CETA, CPTPP, entering into negotiations with Mercosur] could be boosting investor optimism.
What does a boost in investment translate to? Very simply, it means jobs for middle-class Canadians in my riding, and coast to coast to coast. I am very proud of the measures introduced in Bill C-74.
One of them is the Canada child benefit. We have spoken about it quite a bit, and we should continue to do so. In my riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge, over $59 million was sent via the Canada child benefit to families in a one-year period. It assisted approximately 19,400 children. The number of payments was 10,900, with an average payment of $5,400.
We can throw lots of numbers out there, but behind them are Canadian families like the ones that reside in Vaughan—Woodbridge. These funds are being sent tax-free, not to millionaires but to real Canadian families, families that are working hard to pay their bills every day, assisting them to pay for their kids' sports, lunches, new clothes, and so forth, and maybe save for an RESP for when their children go to university.
I am so proud of the fact that our government indexed the Canada child benefit. What does that mean? Let me simply tell members.
For example, the Canada child benefit is an important government initiative aimed at making a positive change for the millions of Canadian families with children. Close to 3.3 million families with children are receiving more than $23 billion in annual Canada child benefit payments.
A single mom of two children aged five and eight with a net income of $35,000 in 2016 will have received $11,125 in tax-free Canada child benefit payments in the 2017-18 benefit year. Naturally, this $11,125 is absolutely tax free. That is $3,500 more than she would have received under the previous child benefit system.
This means that, for a family making $35,000, once the Canada child benefit is indexed, it would add up to almost $560 more per year. For families in Canada, $500 more a year is a lot of money, to pay for their kids' lunches and school clothes, to bring their son or daughter to a soccer game in the evening or to a soccer practice, and so forth. I am proud that our government has looked at this initiative. I am proud that our government has lifted 300,000 kids out of poverty because of this. I am proud that our government has indexed this. These are real, tangible measures that are assisting families from coast to coast to coast on an everyday basis, and our party should be proud of that.
I am proud to represent a riding, Vaughan—Woodbridge, within the city of Vaughan, that is one of the most entrepreneurial areas of the country. We have approximately 13,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in the city, and I meet with these folks regularly. We are also blessed to have many large organizations. We have Canadian Pacific's busiest intermodal facility in the country, a key barometer of trade and investment. We have Home Depot's eastern Canada distribution centre. We have the FedEx distribution centre for eastern Canada. We have UPS's distribution centre for all of eastern Canada. Again, UPS made that wonderful announcement of investing $500 million in the Canadian economy, creating thousands of additional jobs. We have a furniture maker, Decor-Rest, which employs 700 Canadians, competing globally against furniture makers both here in Canada and in the United States and Mexico, and winning in competing.
I am blessed to have all these entrepreneurs. I am also blessed to have a number of bakeries and great pastry shops, which I have talked about before, especially during Italian Heritage Month. I visit them and we talk about what makes these companies successful.
One big thing we have done, which is contained in Bill C-74, is the reduction in the small-business tax rate from 11% in 2015, which will eventually fall to 9%. We should be proud of that. For small businesses making $500,000 a year in active income, the savings would be $7,500. That can offset other increased input costs they may face. They can use those savings to invest in their businesses, or whatever they choose. That is something we need to applaud.
Looking at our corporate tax system in Canada, the combined federal corporate tax rate in the province of Ontario, roughly 12.9%, is one of the lowest small-business tax rates globally. We have seen that turn up in the job numbers, with 600,000 new jobs, most of them private sector jobs. That is a good barometer for the economy. That is why we have larger companies like CN or CP hiring. However, we also have small companies, because we know that small and medium-sized enterprises and businesses are the backbone of our economy.
That measure, introduced in Bill C-74, is something we should be very proud of. Cumulatively, that measure would result in approximately $3 billion in tax savings due to lower taxes for small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada through the 2022-23 period. This is a substantial reduction in taxes. When we brought in the tax cut for middle-class Canadians, people said, “Whom does it affect?” It affected nine million taxpayers. We brought in a multi-billion dollar tax cut that benefited millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and here we are doing the same thing for small businesses.
We also undertook extensive consultations with small businesses on how we could best work with them to grow their business, because we want to increase jobs and investment and achieve better productivity and a better standard of living for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
We also want to ensure that the businesses that benefit from that low small-business tax rate are the appropriate ones. We undertook a consultation and arrived at a point where we introduced measures where 97% of businesses remain unaffected. If people have an active business, they can continue to invest in it and continue to grow. That is wonderful. These are measures contained in Bill C-74. However, we also have what I think is a very prudent measure. If they have actually accumulated $3 million, $4 million, or $5 million in what is called passive income, which is a little technical to describe, something they can save for retirement or set aside and invest in a separate business, which may not be connected to their own business, that is great. They can continue to do that, and we are not going to change the tax structure within their passive investments. However, at a certain point they will no longer benefit from the small-business tax rate of 12.9%, and we will move them up to the 24% tax rate. It is a fair measure.
Canadians expect fairness and progressivity in their tax system. Canadians expect us to do a thoughtful job. When others take a risk, they should be rewarded, but at the same time they should understand that when they have done very well and have been able to set aside some monies within passive investments, they are also going to move up to the corporate tax rate, which is very competitive globally. Even with the United States' adoption of its recent tax reform, our corporate tax rate is very competitive with the U.S. tax rate, and we need to point that out.
There are a lot of good measures contained in Bill C-74, and I am very proud of them. Another one I would like to talk about is the Canada workers benefit. This is something a lot of low-income working Canadians are going to benefit from. There are a couple of measures that I think are very good and long-lasting, and they will proceed beyond this Parliament and many others.
One is working with CRA and undertaking automatic enrolment. Automatic enrolment means that those in society who do not have the means or access that many of us here enjoy are automatically enrolled to receive these benefits. According to the estimates, just this measure alone is going to lift 70,000 people out of poverty and provide additional benefits. Someone making $15,000, a student or a retiree, can receive up to nearly $500 more with the new Canada workers benefit. It is something I am very proud of. My progressive roots cheer this on. It is something that all Canadians can be very proud of.
We realize that some people, especially indigenous people living in northern and remote communities, have often faced barriers when it comes to accessing essential government services and federal benefits such as the Canada child benefit. With Bill C-74, our government will take steps to ensure that anyone who is eligible for support receives it.
Through Bill C-74, the government proposes to expand outreach efforts to all indigenous communities on reserves and in northern and remote areas, and to conduct pilot outreach projects for urban indigenous communities so that indigenous peoples have better access to a full range of federal social benefits, including the Canada child benefit.
Now I would like to talk about the Canada worker's benefit. Canadians working hard to join the middle class deserve to have their hard work rewarded with greater opportunities for success. We know that these Canadians are working to build a better life for themselves and their families. Low-income Canadians are sometimes working two or three jobs so that they can give themselves and their children a better chance at success.
That is why the government is proposing a new benefit in budget 2018 and in Bill C-74: the Canada workers benefit. This benefit builds on the former working income tax benefit and would put more money into the pockets of low-income workers. It would encourage more people to join and remain in the workforce by letting them take home more money while they work.
Through Bill C-74, the government would increase the overall support provided for the 2019 and subsequent taxation years. In particular, the government proposes to increase maximum benefits under the CWB by up to $170 in 2019, and increase the income level at which the benefit is entirely phased out. As a result, low-income workers earning $15,000 could receive up to almost $500 more from the CWB in 2019 than they could receive this year under the current working income tax benefit. That is $500 to invest in the things that are important to them, and to make ends meet.
The government is also proposing changes to improve access to the Canada workers benefit to allow the Canada Revenue Agency to calculate the CWB for anyone who has not claimed it starting in 2019.
Again, having the CRA automatically register people who are eligible for these programs and others is a large step forward for our tax system.
One thing I would like to comment on is the framework we have introduced for the pricing of carbon. We have done this in a very thoughtful and prudent manner. It is a backstop, and 85% of Canadians are covered by a form of carbon pricing system. The provinces are permitted to do what they wish with the revenues.
However, I agree with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. It was very disappointing that the NDP government in B.C. would move away from a revenue-neutral price on carbon. I am very disappointed. It speaks to fiscal foolishness. We need to allow provinces to do what they wish, but we need the provinces to be transparent. Our carbon pricing system is transparent. The funds flow back to the provinces and the provinces then decide how to allocate those funds, but they should also be transparent about it.
We have an opportunity in this world that we are moving into. Many countries have already adopted this pricing system, and many industries in the private sector, which I am a big champion of, have looked at this. We have companies all over the world, such as Daimler in Germany, FCA, Ford, or any automotive company, looking at adopting electric vehicles, at technology on clean tech, and at renewable energy. We have the system going on. We have this shift going on. We need to be a part of it.
However, this is not, as my Conservative colleagues are saying, scaring away investment. It is not. We saw it in the first quarter GDP numbers. Business investment in Canada is rising. We see that every day, whether it is Samsung announcing its AI facility in downtown Toronto, or Montreal being the gaming sector of North America when it comes to enterprise arts. We see it in Vancouver, with the clustering that is going on, and in the Kitchener—Waterloo area. We see it with many auto parts suppliers in Ontario, and then there is Toyota's announcement. Foreign direct investment in Canada is creating jobs. It created jobs yesterday, it is creating jobs today, and it will create jobs in the future, because we are making those conditions very strong.
Finally, when we talk about Canada's fiscal position, we maintain a AAA credit rating, which we have had for so long. It has been affirmed recently. Our debt-to-GDP ratio is declining. I would argue that we have the best fiscal position of any G7 country on any fiscal measure, and that is something we need to be proud of. It is something our government is proud of.
Therefore, when I hear the banter from the other side, I would love to sit down and chat with them and show them a couple of measures on the economy. These measures that show how well we are doing include the 600,000 new jobs we have created, the 40-year low in the unemployment rate, the increase in wages that Canadians are seeing from coast to coast to coast, and the infrastructure we are building in this country.
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
View Rosemarie Falk Profile
2018-05-31 12:08 [p.19964]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-74, the Liberal government's budget implementation bill. When we consider the contents of the bill and the Liberal government's track record, it reveals a troubling path ahead for Canadians.
We have before us a budget bill that spends borrowed money recklessly. The result of that is a growing debt and higher taxes. Borrowed money always has to be paid back and it is paid back at a premium.
The Liberal government came into power touting modest deficits. The Prime Minister repeatedly promised Canadians that his government would borrow a modest $10 billion a year to grow the economy. He also promised Canadians that the budget would return to balance in 2019. That promise went out the window very quickly.
The Prime Minister has added $60 billion to the national debt in just three short years. Canada's net debt has reached an all-time high of $670 billion. To put that into context, that breaks down to a debt of over $47,000 per Canadian family. What about the plan to return to balance? The budget is not predicted to return to balance until 2045, a far cry from 2019.
The Liberals will wrongly try to take credit for the economic growth that Canada experienced in 2017. A growth rate of 3% in 2017 was largely a result of the oil and gas sector recovering and an unusually strong housing market. The responsible response to that growth should have been for the government to pay down the debt that it borrowed, so in the case of a fiscal downturn, we would be better positioned. However, now, despite all the Liberal spending, private sector forecasts show that Canada is heading for a slow down.
We have legislation before us to help us spend more money and add more debt. Ultimately, it is legislation that would make life more unaffordable for Canadians.
Canadians are already paying higher taxes under the Liberals. It seems that the Liberal government is always finding new ways to dip into the pockets of Canadians. For one, this budget bill would create a costly new carbon tax, which the Liberals are forcing on all provinces that do not have their own. Despite promises of a new era of co-operative federalism, the Liberal government is ramming ahead with its massive carbon tax grab.
My province of Saskatchewan has rejected the Liberal government's carbon tax, and rightly so. The carbon tax will come at a significant cost to the people of Saskatchewan, and the Liberal government is ignoring the basic economic reality that its carbon tax unfairly punishes farmers and rural communities.
My province of Saskatchewan has developed its own climate change strategy, a made-in-Saskatchewan plan that tackles climate change without imposing the unfair carbon tax on Saskatchewan families. However, the Liberal government refused to accept it. The Liberals are forcing it on Saskatchewan against its will.
Well then, what does this carbon tax achieve? We cannot tax our way to a cleaner environment and the carbon tax will not lead to a major emission reduction in Canada.
We can look to British Columbia as an example. British Columbia was the first province to implement a carbon tax. It also has the highest carbon tax in the country. Despite this, carbon emissions have continued to rise there. The real impact of its carbon tax is that British Columbians are now paying more for gas than anyone else in the North American continent.
I will reiterate that point, because it is an important point that needs to sink in. The carbon tax in British Columbia is not reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is making life less affordable for British Columbians, yet the Liberals continue to strong-arm the province of Saskatchewan.
One would think that given their passion for a carbon tax, the Liberals would be forthcoming with information about its impact. It is fair for Canadians to want to know just how much the federal price on carbon will cost them, but again and again the Liberal government refuses to release those details.
Finance officials have said that the Liberal carbon tax will cost an extra 11¢ per litre of gas and $264 in extra costs for natural gas home heating annually. That alone is already a significant cost. However, there are additional costs and impacts of a $50 per tonne carbon tax.
Repeated requests for information have been issued from this side of the House. We have asked the government over and over again to provide details on the cost of its carbon tax and the results it expects to achieve. However, any response received has been blacked out. What does the Liberal government have to hide? What is it covering up? If the government cannot answer a basic question on what its carbon tax will cost and achieve, it is absurd for it to force it on the province of Saskatchewan.
The Liberals are not only raising taxes on individual Canadians, they are making it more expensive to do business in Canada. Businesses are also being hit with increased costs due to the carbon tax. This is in addition to the increased CPP and EI premiums, higher income taxes for entrepreneurs, and punitive changes to the small business tax rate. While we consider these higher costs, we cannot forget that the United States is lowering its corporate tax rate. Business investment in Canada has dropped since 2015. Meanwhile, business investment in the United States has increased.
The natural resource sector has been particularly hit hard. The energy sector and the jobs it creates are very important to my riding of Battlefords—Lloydminster. The fact that over $80 billion of investment in the energy sector has been lost in the last two years is very troubling for my constituents. They certainly are not comforted by the Prime Minister's repeated confession that he wants to phase out the oil sands.
The loss of business investment in Canada is a troubling trend, and the Liberals have offered nothing to Canadian businesses in this budget implementation act. The higher cost of doing business will hurt the bottom line for businesses. When it drives away business, results in job loss, and injects less money into our economy, everyone pays, and we all lose.
Bill C-74 offers Canadians a plan we cannot afford and does not move us ahead. Spending money we do not have on things we do not need is reckless and irresponsible. I would not run my personal household in that manner, and I would not teach my children to manage their finances in that way. Most of all, I cannot imagine that the members opposite would manage their personal finances that way and teach their children that as well. It begs the question: why is it that when the stakes are even higher, when the fiscal security of the country hangs in the balance, the Liberals would choose this route?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand to speak about the budget implementation act.
I would like to start with some facts, which may appear at first glance, to be astounding. The Department of Finance and the Parliamentary Budget Officer have predicted that the budget will not be balanced until 2045.
My kids will not see a balanced budget until they are older than I am right now, and that is unacceptable. During that time frame, there will be an estimated $450 billion in additional debt racked up, for a total of roughly $1.1 trillion. It is our youth who will have to pay all of this back. The future our youth inherit is not the one that we inherited. Our youth are being left behind. We are currently sitting at 11.1% unemployment, while in the United States, the youth unemployment rate sits at only 8.4%. Now our youth will have to live with the shackles of this increased debt.
GDP is up 0.1% in two years. Eighty per cent of middle-class Canadians are feeling the tax increases since the government came into office. There was a $60-billion increase in spending in the last two and a half years, up roughly 20%.
There is no doubt there that a spending problem exists within the Liberal government. Quite frankly, we can look almost anywhere to see it.
Corporate welfare is something I have spoken about over and over again. Why are we taxing Canadians who can barely make ends meet and giving those dollars to millionaires and billionaires so they can make more money? It seems to be done without a strategy or understanding the effects. It seems to be done without a clear measurement as to what is a success or a failure. I have examples: the Bombardier bailout just under a year ago; the superclusters, which were in the last budget and continued in this budget, $900 million going to superclusters, mainly into urban areas, that were recommended by a committee, struck by the industry minister, that included people in charge of superclusters, like the MaRS in Toronto.
A few weeks ago, the Conservatives started saying no to corporate welfare when it came to Kinder Morgan. We did not want government dollars used to prop up the private sector in this circumstance. Not in our wildest dreams did the Conservatives believe we would see corporate welfare enacted when it came to Kinder Morgan, in fact, an outright nationalization of the entire program.
I would like to congratulate some people in the House, such as the member for Vancouver Quadra, the member for Pontiac, and the member for Burnaby North—Seymour, on owning one of the largest oil transportation companies in Canada. I thought they were environmental activists. Usually I would say, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.” What the Liberal government has done is first beat the oil industry and then it has joined it. Ironically, growth in the oil and gas sector last year was what drove our economy. Without the oil and gas sector, we would have had exactly zero growth.
This is not because of the Liberals, this is not because of the federal government; it is despite them. In the oil and gas sector, they have caused a lot of instability, because they have continued to attack it. When I look at Kinder Morgan, it makes me think the government has neglected what lies beneath our feet and has opted to rely on what is between the Prime Minister's ears. It is a failing strategy.
The Prime Minister created a carbon tax of $50 per tonne to put in through 2023. After he did that, creating instability in the oil and gas sector, and in fact across our entire economy, threatening the way those who earn the least in our society actually make ends meet, he realized the ramifications of that decision. The ramifications are that projects like Kinder Morgan can no longer make it. They are no longer viable. The private sector has realized that, and then the Prime Minister realized it, and at the last second, he said he was going to step in, take money from people who earn almost nothing and invest it in this project the private sector is abandoning.
It is very interesting when we break down the carbon tax and look at the effect it is going to have on the average family. With fuel costs, there is the cost of actually producing that gasoline. It is about 50% of what we pay at the pump. Then there are provincial and federal excise taxes. Those taxes were originally put in place to deal with the ramifications of pulling out of that original resource. Then we have our new carbon tax that is being put in place on top of that. The government does not stop reaching into our pockets at the fuel pump, but says that it will charge HST on top of that. That is another 13%.
The carbon tax is going to cost average families $2,500 per year. What does that mean? It means higher food costs, higher gas costs, and higher costs of everything Canadians consume. That is the three-year legacy of the Liberal government. The fact that middle-class Canadians do not have trust funds seems to be lost on the Prime Minister and the finance minister. The legacy that we see over and over again, in budget after budget, is that the government can take and take from Canada's middle class, that it can take and take from the economy, and it can put that money wherever it sees fit. Then when it realizes that is not working, the government will take and take to buy a failing project whose failure, by the way, the government was responsible for in the beginning by introducing more and more taxes.
It is more taxes on payrolls; more taxes on gasoline as a result of the carbon tax; more taxes on Canadians across this country. That does not even begin to deal with the fact of red tape and environmental assessment after environmental assessment, the issues and regulations that constantly hold down the Canadian economy. The Liberal government constantly holds down Canada's poorest people who are looking for jobs, who are searching for that next job, who are looking for growth, and who want to create a new life for their families.
Those are the effects of the Liberal budget. Those are the effects we have seen from three years of Liberal government. The family tax cut is gone. The arts and fitness tax credits have disappeared. The education and textbook tax credit is nowhere to be seen. The life vision of young Canadians is not the one we inherited, the one in which we believed that if we went out to work day in and day out, it would be easy. Manufacturing is not creating more jobs in Canada. The oil and gas sector, while it is moving forward, has seen incredible setbacks. The housing sector, while on fire, is preventing our young people from being able to actually access a home and own it for the first time.
These are the issues that we are seeing in the Canadian economy. It is these budgets that are driving this ship.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
Mr. Speaker, again, congratulations on working through 409 amendments. You did a great job. I listened intently, and you did not miss one, and we do appreciate that.
It is drawing close to 10:30 in the evening, and I am honoured to stand in this place once again to speak to the budget implementation act, 2018. On April 4, I stood in the House to speak to the budget. During that time, I focused my remarks primarily on our competitiveness, or I should say our lack of competitiveness, and the troubling effect of budget 2018 on our competitiveness and business investment in this country.
We are struggling today, as we were then, to attract capital from abroad, with foreign direct investment plunging last year to the lowest level since 2010. As I pointed out in the House over a month ago, the province of Alberta has experienced the worst decline in business investment in the country, much because of the NDP government we have there, much because of the lower price of oil, and much because of the Liberal government here.
Energy investment is at its lowest level on record, below even the worst of the 2009 global recession, with a loss of $80 billion of investment and more than 110,000 jobs. Drilling rigs are leaving Canada, heading to the United States, where there is a more hospitable investment climate. There has been a significant decline in capital spending.
I stood in the House to debate the budget just one week after Kinder Morgan announced that it had suspended its work on the Trans Mountain expansion project and had given the Liberal government until May 31 to provide the necessary assurances that this project would go ahead. We know that the Liberals were funding protesters to protest against that pipeline straight from government programs here. That was the first time I had an opportunity to speak to this budget.
Kinder Morgan's skepticism was based on the fact that Canada had approved the project in November 2016, following an expanded environmental review process that included additional consultations with indigenous communities, yet more than three months into 2018, there was no movement and much added red tape, frustrating Kinder Morgan and others that would invest here in this country. Kinder Morgan saw nothing in immediate sight that would give it any confidence that it could go ahead, so it put the ultimatum of May 31.
I lay the blame for that unfortunate thing with Trans Mountain development at the feet of the Prime Minister, and rightfully so. The Liberal Prime Minister failed to take any concrete steps to ensure that the project was completed. This failure added to the significant economic difficulties facing my province of Alberta and a number of my constituents, as this project is a pivotal part of both Alberta's and the country's economic future.
While yesterday's announcement regarding the purchase of Trans Mountain by the federal government may help get our oil finally, some day, to new markets, it came at an extremely high price. It is a price taxpayers should not have to pay. Given what the government has done, chasing $4.5 billion out of Canada to a Texas oil company so that it can invest in America and around the world, because it is very unlikely that it will come back here to invest soon, there is no guarantee that the government is going to ever be able to build that pipeline.
Canadian taxpayers are on the hook for $4.5 billion, and that shows the Prime Minister's failure. I have zero confidence that the government can see this pipeline through to completion. The private sector has more experience in building pipelines, more experience in building infrastructure, and more experience in building the infrastructure needed to move its product than any government ever has had.
Kinder Morgan never asked for a single dollar of taxpayer money. All the company wanted was certainty. Now, Kinder Morgan's assets have been sold. It is abandoning its expansion plans in Canada and taking its significant investment in this country elsewhere. It is doing so at a time when business investment in Canada has fallen by 5%, or $12.7 billion, since 2015. During that same period, business investment in the United States has grown by 9%. Foreign direct investment plummeted by 42% in 2016, and then a further 27% in 2017.
Why is business investment so weak? There are many different reasons. One reason is all of the added red tape, the red tape piled on top of red tape in environmental assessments and reassessments. It has weakened investment in Canada, because Canadian businesses understand that they are facing rising costs, such as increased CPP and EI premiums, personal income taxes for entrepreneurs of over 53%, and, again, new carbon taxes.
Budget 2018 did not reveal exactly how much the carbon tax will cost the average Canadian. We have tried day after day in the House to get the Minister of Finance to tell us what that carbon tax is going to cost Canadian families, but he will not tell us.
Although the budget did not reveal how much, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation predicts that the carbon tax will cost $2,500 per family at a time when taxpayers recognize they have less and less money in their pockets. Trevor Tombe of the University of Calgary estimates that it may cost $1,100 per family. The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently released a report that found that the carbon tax will take $10 billion out of the Canadian economy by 2022, while other estimates argue that the cost could be as much as $35 billion per year. None of these numbers can be verified because, unfortunately, the Liberal government continues to refuse to tell Canadians exactly how much that carbon tax will cost them, just like they refused to tell us the total cost of the nationalization of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
What is the final cost of that pipeline? Is it $4.5 billion for the assets of Trans Mountain today? What will those costs be by the time the pipeline is built, if it ever is built? We can ill afford the $4.5 billion price tag, let alone the billions of dollars in untold costs, especially given our massive debt.
I would add that the finance minister has finally started to pick up on the Conservatives' talking points, because that $12 million a day, or $42 million a week, is the differential in the price for oil that we do not receive because we are not getting our oil to the Asian markets. This money could build a school or a hospital a day or a week.
In their first three years in power, the Liberals will have added $60 billion to the national debt. Last year, Canada's net debt reached an all-time high of $670 billion, or $47,612 per Canadian family. The growing debt is a direct result of the Liberals' broken promises on their projected deficits. This fiscal year's deficit is $18 billion, which is triple of what was promised.
In comparison, in our 10 years in government, we paid down the national debt. We took surpluses and paid down just under $40 billion. However, during what was considered the worst recession since the Great Depression, we ran deficits. Although fundamentally opposed to debt and deficit spending, we realized, like every G7 country, that we needed to kick-start the economy. That was not enough for the Liberals or the NDP, but that is what we did. We invested in large infrastructure programs in Canada, the largest in Canadian history. With Canada's economic action plan, we got a significant return on this investment. We were the first G7 country to come out of the recession and back to growth.
I see that my time is up. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on this budget implementation bill.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2018-04-30 13:06 [p.18896]
Madam Speaker, today I will address the oil tanker moratorium act, and in particular, its impacts on indigenous peoples and communities that support responsible resource development.
Bill C-48 is not really about the protection of coastlines or marine ecology. It is actually only a ban on Canadian oil development and exports, on the oil sands, and on pipelines. It is an attack on the hundreds of thousands of energy workers across the country, on one industry, and on one product.
Bill C-48 specifically and only prohibits the on- and off-loading of tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude and persistent oils at ports or marine installations along B.C.'s north coast. It does not target any other vessels of comparable capacity carrying any other product, or vessels of any size, which have similar volumes of fuel on board to operate. It does not even enforce the 100-kilometre voluntary exclusion zone, in the region since 1985.
It only applies to one coast, not to any other Canadian coasts or ports where tankers of all products and from all countries travel regularly. Its intent is clearly to permanently prevent vital energy infrastructure in the region, denying any potential for oil exports to the Asia-Pacific from there, which could expand market access for Canada and reduce Canada's near complete dependence on the United States as a customer for Canadian oil.
Diversifying Canada's exports is crucial now, as the U.S. ramps up production to secure its own domestic supply and rapidly escalates its own crude oil exports after removing the 40-year ban. It is estimated that the U.S. will supply 80% of the world's growing global demand for oil in the next five years, while the Liberals force Canada's oil to remain mostly landlocked.
Bill C-48 is also all about politics. It was a predetermined and foregone conclusion for partisan purposes entirely. The Prime Minister instructed its imposition in mandate letters to ministers only 24 days after the 2015 election. Despite all the Liberal rhetoric about consultation, science, and evidence-based, objective decision-making founding policy and legislation, that is not enough time to undertake comprehensive community or indigenous consultations. That is not enough time for thorough safety and environmental assessments, with an analysis of best practices, gaps, and opportunities for improvement; comparison, contrast, and benchmarking against other countries; or local, regional, provincial, and national economic impact assessments and the consideration of consequences. That is because the motivation was actually a political calculation to hold NDP, Green, and left-wing votes for the Liberals in B.C, which helped them win in 2015.
However, Bill C-48, while confined to one geographical area, will have profound negative impacts for all of Canada, on confidence in Canadian energy investment and development overall, and on Canada's ability to be a global leader and contributor in energy regulation, production, technology, service, supply, expertise, and exports to the world.
Reaching tidewater in all directions for Canada's oil and gas should be a top priority for the Liberals, but their track record so far has been to eliminate the only two opportunities for stand-alone pipelines to tidewater in recent history in Canada.
One was the energy east pipeline, which was abandoned after a billion dollars invested and years of review before it could even make it out of the regulatory mess the Liberals created because they changed the rules and added a last-minute, double standard condition for downstream emissions that does not apply to foreign oil or to any other infrastructure in any other sector.
The other was the northern gateway pipeline, which was initiated in 2002 and had actually been approved, with 209 conditions, under the previous Conservative government, in 2014. After a Supreme Court ruling that there was insufficient indigenous consultation by the crown, the Liberals could have ordered additional months and scope for expanded consultation, just as they did with the Trans Mountain expansion application, which started in 2013 and was under way when they announced a complete overhaul for major Canadian energy projects in 2016. However, that option was not offered for northern gateway. Instead, the Prime Minister outright vetoed it, even though it was reviewed under the exact same process, with the exact same evidence, as the other projects the Liberals announced were approved the same day, including Trans Mountain and the Line 3 replacement.
The Liberal government's decision to kill the northern gateway was a massive blow for expanded market access for Canadian oil. It was obviously a loss for energy producers in northern Alberta, for workers in the industrial heartland and Bruderheim, which is where the northern gateway would have started, inside the western boundary of Lakeland, as well as for workers who would have constructed and then maintained the pipeline through operations across Alberta and B.C. It was a loss for potential oil terminal, refinery, and deep water port workers near Kitimat, never mind of billions of dollars in investment and revenue for all levels of government.
However, there is another aspect of that veto of the northern gateway that is just as devastating. Thirty-one first nations and Métis communities were partners with mutual benefit agreements, worth more than $2 billion, in northern gateway, including skills and labour development opportunities.
In Lakeland and around Alberta, indigenous peoples are very active in oil and gas across the value chain: in upstream exploration and production; in service, supply, and technology contracting; and in pipeline operations. They support pipelines because that infrastructure is as crucial to the lifeblood of their communities, for jobs, education, and social benefits, as anywhere else.
Elmer Ghostkeeper of the Buffalo Lake Métis Settlement in Lakeland said, “Equity was offered to aboriginal communities, and with the change in government that was all taken away.... We are very disappointed.” Ghostkeeper pointed out that 71% of the communities along the proposed right of way looked forward to taking part in construction and in the long-term benefits. All that was destroyed by the Prime Minister. They were not consulted about it.
Bill C-48 would put a nail in the coffin of the $7.9-billion northern gateway pipeline and all its employment and economic and social benefits for indigenous and all Canadians, now and in the future.
However, it gets even worse. The $16-billion Eagle Spirit pipeline project could be one of the biggest private infrastructure investments in Canadian history, with meaningful revenue generation, business, employment, education, training, capacity-building opportunities, and long-term economic self-sufficiency for indigenous communities. From Bruderheim to Grassy Point, the Eagle Spirit pipeline project is supported by 35 indigenous communities, every single one along the corridor. Its proponents have been working for six years to secure that support, even from communities that opposed northern gateway, and to exceed regulatory requirements, including exceptional environmental protection, land and marine management, and spill prevention and response.
In 2015, community leaders said what the project meant to them. On behalf of elders, Jack White said, “We like the fact that the Eagle Spirit project put the environment first. Many of our elders are in need and we want our legacy to our children to offer something more that gives them opportunities.”
Youth representative Corey Wesley said, “There are no opportunities for young people in our community. We want a better way of life with real jobs and business prospects so we too can offer our future kids more hope.”
Deputy mayor of the Lax Kw'alaams band and matriarch Helen Johnson said, “Eagle Spirit has widespread support in our community because it shows a real way forward for our members.”
Eagle Spirit's Chiefs Council says the tanker ban is a government action that would “harm our communities and deny our leaders the opportunity to create hope and a brighter future for their members“, which all Canadians take for granted. The Premier of Northwest Territories said almost the exact same thing about the impact on the people he represents of the Liberals' five-year ban on northern offshore oil and gas drilling.
The Prime Minister often says that the relationship with Canada's indigenous people is the most important to him. He says he wants “an opportunity to deliver true, meaningful and lasting reconciliation between Canada and First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit peoples”. However, for the second time, on a pipeline to tidewater, he is actively denying opportunities for dozens of indigenous communities. They say he did not consult them before he ordered the tanker ban.
The Eagle Spirit Chiefs Council says that the tanker ban and the creation of the concept of the Great Bear Rainforest were “promoted largely through the lobbying of foreign-financed ENGOs”. The Eagle Spirit chairman says, “they know nothing about our area, they know nothing about our regions. And they're telling us what we've got to do because it's in their financial interest to do so.” It is “without the consultation and consent of First Nations,” which are “opposed to government policy being made by foreigners when it impacts their ability to help out their own people.”
He says, “We don't need trust fund babies coming into our community...creating parks in our backyard when our people are literally starving”, with 90% unemployment.
I suggest that actual reconciliation involves employment and business opportunities, social welfare, and benefits through economic prosperity, like what is offered by Eagle Spirit, which would ensure environmental protection and benefits for all of Canada.
Eagle Spirit's chairman says, “This is an important issue for Canadians. If you look at what's happening with the oil industry, Canadians are losing $50 million a day. It's about $40 a barrel over four years in margin to the refineries in the U.S. What other country in the world would give away the value of these resources like that? It makes no sense, and it's harming people in northern Alberta and northern B.C. and the chiefs are going to do something about it.”
He is echoed by B.C. MLA and former Haisla chief councillor Ellis Ross, who says, “The more sickening thing for me is that these people who oppose development in Canada truly believe they win when they defeat a project.... Actually, you don't win. It's just that the United States buys the Canadian product at a discount and sells it on the international market.”
The tanker ban is a deliberate and dangerous roadblock to Canadian oil exports. It is detrimental to the livelihoods of Canadians everywhere. It would put very real limits on Canada's future and standard of living, with disproportionately harmful outcomes for certain communities and regions. The Liberals should withdraw it.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2018-04-30 13:37 [p.18901]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on this, but I think the bill has the wrong name. It is called the “oil tanker moratorium act” when it should basically be called the “pipeline moratorium act”. That is really what it is all about. It is not about cancelling the ability of tankers to move through a certain region of northern British Columbia. In fact, they will be able to move 100 kilometres off the coast, as they have been doing all along. It has put the last and final nail into the northern gateway project, and every single other potential pipeline project that might go through northern British Columbia.
There are a few points I will raise to add to this debate, including a letter I have from Prasad Panda, a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, who is also the member for the provincial riding of Calgary-Foothills. In it, he notes a couple of discrepancies. He notes that Bill C-48 is a flawed piece of legislation, mainly because it contradicts the government's own free trade agreement that it signed.
There are two points that he makes in the letter. He writes that in that free trade agreement, article 301 states, “A Province shall not adopt or maintain any measure that restricts or prevents the movement of goods across provincial or territorial boundaries.” This is what the B.C. NDP is doing to try to kill off Kinder Morgan by harassing it through legal and regulatory means to try to put an end to that project. They are trying to end that and the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the energy sector, both in my hometown of Calgary, which depends on it, and also across Edmonton and a whole bunch of smaller communities across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
With regard to my second point, he writes, “The Government of Canada shall not adopt or maintain any measure that unduly restricts or prevents the movement of goods across provincial or territorial boundaries.” I think we can make a fine argument here that restricting tanker traffic off a coast like the northern British Columbia coast is that type of restriction on the movement through a territory that the British Columbia government claims as its own. It has a certain amount of environmental regulations that it can or it seems to want to apply. It is interesting that it only wants to apply it in the north, not in the south, when 95% of all tanker traffic happens to be in the southern part of British Columbia.
This particular member of the legislative assembly, a fine gentleman, wrote quite a long letter to the chair of the committee that reviewed this piece of legislation. He also brought to the attention of that committee that this ban, this supposed oil tanker moratorium on pipelines, would be like “banning ships from moving through the Welland Canal or using the port at Trois-Rivières”. It would be like “denying rail and truck access to the Michelin Tire factory in Pictou County”, like “detouring all the traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway and driving it down 92 Avenue in Port Kells”, like “taking traffic on Highway 400 and running [it] all down Weston Road in Toronto”, and like “stopping OC Transpo service to Kanata or GO service to Streetsville.” It would be the same principle. It is not science based, not evidence based; it is the random cutting off of the transportation of goods, people, and natural resources for political purposes.
There is absolutely no reason for it. As far as I know, there have been no spills in British Columbia. Members may want to correct me on that, but I do not know of any spills that have happened off the coast of British Columbia that would make it necessary for us to pass this particular piece of legislation.
I also note that in this legislation, the government is giving itself an exemption under clause 6 that basically states,
for the purpose of community or industry resupply or is otherwise in the public interest.
Therefore, if for any reason whatsoever the government believes it should provide an exemption for the import and movement of tanker traffic, it has a complete exemption. There is no real reporting standard there. All it would have to do is make a publication requirement that states,
the Minister must make it accessible to the public on the Internet or by any other means that he or she considers appropriate
I wonder what the minister will think is appropriate when the government provides the exemption. We can imagine how hard the advocates for communities, companies, and tanker companies will push the minister to provide them with particular exemptions and how sought after those will be.
I like Yiddish proverbs, and I have one. It states, “Heaven and hell can both be had in this world.” They can also be had through government policy and legislation. The principle is to protect the environment. That is the window dressing that the Liberals have put on this anti-pipeline bill. However, what they are actually doing when they repeat “the environment, energy, and natural resources”, two sides of the same coin, is only focusing on one part of this. That is their single focus on this point. It is is supposedly the environment, when we know, because of the details of this bill, it will do no such thing. Tanker traffic will simply be moved further to the west. It is not achieving any goals that the government has set for itself. There is no similar ban on any oil tanker traffic anywhere along Canada's other coasts.
Do those environments matter less? Do the beaches in Prince Edward Island matter less than those in northern British Columbia? Do the coasts matter less in Quebec? Do the coasts matter less in Ontario? I do not think that is the case, but I do not see tanker bans being imposed. I do not see pipeline bans being imposed. That is what leads me to say that this particular piece of legislation is all about northern gateway. It is to kill it off, and that is what the government intends to do through this particular piece of legislation.
The tankers that go through the southern part of British Columbia right now are in the 80,000 to 120,000 dead weight tonnage. If this were truly about tanker traffic, and there were worries about how many of these tankers are moving through a particular geographic region, then the regulatory process would be simplified to ensure the maximum size tankers could actually come through different channels as safely as possible.
If the government wanted to do it that way, it would ensure that ultra-large crude carriers, ULCCs, were able to navigate certain regions, doing so safely, with the necessary tugboats to pull them out in case they have security problems. It would not impose a random ban on geographic areas, pushing tankers further out into the ocean. That does not achieve any environmental goal I could easily name. It would also kill off economic jobs that northern gateway and other pipeline projects could provide in the future.
What it actually would do is sterilize an entire region of northern British Columbia from any type of development in the future. It would basically ensure that no company would ever propose a new pipeline project running through any of those communities, regardless of how many indigenous communities support it, regardless of how many of them are onside.
As the member for Lakeland has said, there are many indigenous communities that would depend on these energy and natural resource jobs of the future. Over 500 communities all across Canada depend either on energy or natural resources jobs.
When oil, natural gas, coal, or any type of mineral is extracted, it has to be moved to a market. It does no good to sit on a large pile here at home. It has to be moved to the buyer. That is done through a port, through the rail system, and through tankers. Those are the requirements of ensuring that the economy is looked after, and that is what the government is failing to do with Bill C-48.
This bill would kill off any future pipeline projects. It sends another chilling signal to the business community in Canada that we are not open for business. We have had the largest flight of capital from the natural resources sector over the past two and a half years. We are at the lowest level since 2010, and it just continues.
Energy east was killed off by the government. Northern gateway was killed off by the government. The government neglected Pacific Northwest LNG. It has neglected Alberta's energy sector. It has done everything possible to ensure that every single new piece of red tape would strangle the industry, and it has done a great job at it. This is one thing the government has been quite exceptional at, strangling the industry and putting tens of thousands of Alberta energy workers out of work permanently, with no reasonable expectation to return to work in the field of their speciality, in the field where they have spent years obtaining their education and working professionally.
Back home in Alberta, we have spent a generation trying to convince people to move to Alberta in the first place. British Columbia is beautiful, but we just wanted people to stop in Alberta and have a professional career with us. We spent a generation convincing people to move there, but we also spent a generation convincing young Albertans, men and women, that it was worth getting into the energy sector because there would be jobs well into the future and they could work anywhere internationally. They are not going to have that.
Bill C-48 is a nail in the coffin of every single future pipeline project. Every company that is even thinking about running a pipeline through northern British Columbia, or anywhere in fact, will think twice. All of their money could be lost, or there could be a random moratorium, a ban, or a cancellation of their project.
I cannot support this bill. It is another chilling signal to the business community and to energy workers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia that the government is not on their side.
View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2018-04-30 16:12 [p.18927]
Mr. Speaker, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to engage in this debate.
I am going to frame this discussion in terms of Canada's competitiveness and our future, what our future will look like for the coming generations if we continue to go along the path of sending terrible signals to the global investment community. My comments will actually focus on how Bill C-48 is poorly thought out and really does not reflect the reality of Canada's resource economy.
I am a proud Canadian, but I am also a very proud British Columbian. Unlike many of my colleagues in this House, I have had the chance to hike many of the different remote wilderness areas of British Columbia. I have had the chance to hike the Chilkoot Trail, where one hikes out of the coastal rainforest in Alaska into the drier interior area of British Columbia and follow the trail the early gold miners took to the Yukon gold fields. I have had a chance to hike the Bowron Lakes. In fact, we canoed the Bowron Lakes, 12 lakes connected with portages, where one is almost guaranteed to see moose and bear along the way. I have had a chance to climb the Rockwall and Skyline trails in the Rocky Mountains. I have had a chance to hike in the Cathedral Lakes area outside of Keremeos, British Columbia. Also, in the northeast corner of British Columbia, there is the Muskwa watershed, Gathto Creek, and Pine River. British Columbia is an awesomely beautiful province, a place we as Canadians can be very proud of. It is a legacy that has been left to us.
Anything that would threaten our coastal areas, any threat to the marine life in our oceans, is something I take very seriously. We know oil tankers have been plying our coastal waters for many, many years. Over those years, how many crude oil spills have actually happened in British Columbia waters? Does anybody want to guess? Zero. There have been zero crude oil spills as far back as we want to go. Why? Because we have superior pilotage, and we have tankers today that are double-hulled as opposed to single-hulled to make sure if they strike something, that object does not penetrate the hull. We now have a world-class marine oil spill response, and we love the government for doing that. That is good. We want to protect our coastal areas.
What we do not want to do is undermine Canada's prosperity as we do this, so we have to be careful how we implement policy. We have to ask ourselves what the Prime Minister's motive is behind imposing a moratorium on tanker traffic off our west coast. By imposing a moratorium, we are preventing Canada from getting its oil and gas products to foreign markets where they fetch the best price. What is the motive? Well, we could just follow the Prime Minister around the world on his global travels from costume to costume, leader to leader. Guess what? We found him in France, where he thought he was safe and he started badmouthing Canada's resource sector. More specifically, he badmouthed Canada's oil sands and lamented the fact that he had not been able to phase out the oil sands by now.
There is the hidden agenda. We have a Liberal government that wants to phase out our oil industry. It wants to put all kinds of impediments in the way of our resource sector to make sure Canadians do not get the maximum dollar that they should for their products.
The Prime Minister goes so far as to pretend he is one thing in British Columbia, where of course he is the champion of the environment whenever he visits, but when he travels to Alberta of course he suddenly becomes the champion of the energy sector.
In fact, what he did in Alberta was to say, “If you impose a massive carbon price on your residents, you'll be able to get the social licence to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built.” What happened? Alberta followed suit. It trusted the Prime Minister, which is something I think Canadians are now very wary of. Premier Notley trusted the Prime Minister when he said, “Hey, a carbon tax and you'll get your pipeline to tidewater”. Well, do we have a pipeline to tidewater? Today we have protesters, no leadership from the Prime Minister, and court challenges. What happened to the social licence? It is bogus.
Along the way, this moratorium on tanker traffic off our Pacific coast is just one more nail in the coffin of completely undermining Canada's competitiveness within the global marketplace. Every day that goes by, Canada becomes less and less competitive, especially vis-à-vis our partner to the south, the United States. I will mention a few things that this government has already done. If imposed, a moratorium on offshore drilling in the north undermines prosperity, because we leave resources in the ground that could have fetched good dollars, but we leave them there.
On the massive carbon tax that Canadians are now being expected pay, members can imagine how that undermines our competitiveness as we layer tax upon tax. Foreign investors wonder why they would invest in Canada and not go to the United States where the corporate tax rate was dropped from 35% to 21% and it got rid of all the red tape. The Liberal government funds a Canada summer jobs grant to an organization that is actually organizing and protesting against the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Prime Minister publicly says that it is going to build, but then gives cash to oppose it. That is our Liberal government.
Then, of course, there is Bill C-69, the new regulations that the Prime Minister would impose on resource projects. The bill would add more discretionary powers to the minister to extend and suspend timelines. There would be longer time frames. There would be new criteria added, including upstream and downstream impacts. This is how crazy it gets. The government would impose criteria, conditions, upon our own oil and gas producers that we do not impose on those who ship gas from foreign jurisdictions like Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, and Venezuela. The oil that comes from those countries into Canada right now does not have to comply with any of those criteria, but our own homegrown producers of that product, which is the cleanest in the world, and is subject to the toughest conditions in the world, have to comply with those criteria. We wonder why we have lost 100,000 jobs in our economy. It is because of policies like that. Over 87 billion dollars' worth of capital has fled Canada because of the poorly thought out policies of the Liberal government.
As Conservatives, and the word “conservative” implies conservation, we believe that the highest environmental standards have to be complied with. When we extract our resources in Canada, whether it is mining, oil, or gas, Canadians expect that it be done to the highest environmental standards. Canadians also understand that those resources that lie in the ground represent huge opportunities for economic growth in our country, for jobs, for long-term prosperity, and for funding the programs that governments want to provide to Canadians. It is absolutely critical that moratoria, like the one the Prime Minister is trying to impose on our west coast, not proceed, because at the end of the day, Canadians will pay a very significant price for that. Quite frankly, if in fact the Prime Minister cannot get the job done, he should step aside and let the adults take over. Let someone else take over, someone who really understands the economy, someone who understands the environment, and the appropriate balance between the two.
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-04-30 17:41 [p.18940]
Mr. Speaker, the member talked about investments and the uncertainty here in Canada. John Ivison wrote a great article this morning on the front page of the National Post. He talked about the “slow bleeding” of corporate Canada that is about to be under way, and the fact that as investments are slowing, they are almost ready to fall off the cliff.
One of the comments he made was on the uncertainty, not just “over NAFTA, [but] minimum wage hikes, high electricity prices, jurisdictional wrangling over pipelines and carbon taxes, the imposition of new environmental regulations” and why they have a precedent. The government is more interested in taxing than generating wealth.
The government talks about how all these things are doing, yet we see investments starting to dry up. The member alluded to this in his comments, and I would hope he would comment further about how this is undermining not just the oil and gas sector, but other sectors in this industry.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2018-04-30 17:42 [p.18940]
Mr. Speaker, the numbers do not lie, and we have lost $80 billion in investment over the last two years alone. Maybe we do not see the impact today, but these are the investments that will grow our economy tomorrow by providing the jobs and wages for tomorrow. The government can talk about how great the economic numbers are, but it is living off economic numbers from investment when the Conservatives were in government. We are going to be living in a future that has less investment because of the actions of the government.
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-04-30 17:57 [p.18942]
Mr. Speaker, what the Liberals fail to see is that there is a challenge, an undercurrent in this country where investment is starting to dry up because of decisions the government has made. The Liberals go around the world telling people to come and invest in Canada, and yet a number of investment dollars have left. Last summer, when the Liberals mused about making tax cuts, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business brought in stakeholders and talked about how a billion dollars had left the country, because capital can flee.
Given some of the challenges that have been going on with building pipelines, does the member believe that we are going to be in trouble in terms of being able to attract direct foreign investment as we move forward from this point on?
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-04-30 18:15 [p.18944]
Mr. Speaker, I sometimes feel that the Prime Minister is the captain of the Titanic and all these members are rearranging the deck chairs as they head toward an iceberg. Why I say that is the whole issue of direct foreign investment.
I had the chance to meet with 20 businesses from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. These are large companies that have factories here in Canada. One company in particular said that it had six plants in Canada. It could assure us that, because it has other investments around the world, it will probably never invest in Canada again. That is troubling.
What is going on here in terms of direct foreign investment, in terms of uncertainty, and why do these issues matter as it relates to money being invested In Canada from other parts of the world?
View Martin Shields Profile
View Martin Shields Profile
2018-04-30 18:16 [p.18945]
Mr. Speaker, my riding runs up beside Calgary, and we know what is happening in Calgary. When the president of Cenovus says that his office is now in Denver, we know what is happening. It may not have moved its head office yet, but we know what is going to happen.
I personally know a number of people in the oil sector who are now working in Texas because they know that is where the investment is. A number of highly skilled people are leaving their families to search for jobs and may end up in Australia or Africa. They are leaving because there is no work here because the investment has gone somewhere else in the world. It has left Canada and it will be a while before it comes back.
View Maxime Bernier Profile
View Maxime Bernier Profile
2018-04-19 15:24 [p.18563]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague has spoken at great length on the amendments that the Senate made to Bill C-25. I would therefore like to talk a bit more about the general content of the bill.
It is important to state why the official opposition voted for the bill or why it has the unanimous support of the House. It is because it is intended to modernize the acts governing Canadian corporations, namely the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act.
The bill seeks to reform some aspects of these acts to make the process for electing directors of certain corporations more modern and efficient. It also seeks to modernize communications between corporations and their shareholders and clarify that corporations and co-operatives are prohibited from issuing share certificates and warrants in bearer form. However, the most important part for those tuning in is that the bill will affect over 270,000 federally regulated companies, many of them small and medium-sized businesses across Canada. They will be positively affected by these changes.
As my colleague said, the amendments made to these acts stem from a study conducted by a House of Commons committee in 2010 and extensive consultations held by Industry Canada in 2014. Consequently, it was high time that the House modernized this bill.
Furthermore, financial regulators have already adapted to these amendments, and some have adopted regulations in order to comply with the future legislation.
I would like to remind my colleagues that we in the House are responsible for modernizing the legal environment that corporations operate in. That is a good thing. It is a noble and meaningful goal. However, we also need to think about the economic environment that these small and medium-sized businesses operate in. There are more than 200,000 SMEs across Canada.
That concerns me a bit more. The current economic environment is not conducive to investments. Let us be honest. The investments made by these small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as the larger companies, are what create wealth and drive the economy. More investment means more jobs. Today, because of the Liberal government's policies, investments are on the decline.
My colleague, the finance critic, said during question period that capital is leaving Canada. It is a disaster. Where is it going? It is going across the border to the United States where President Trump lowered the corporate interest rate from 35% to 21%. The U.S. is attracting capital because the Government of Canada is raising taxes and adding more regulations, which is another way of telling foreign investors not to invest in our energy economy.
The fact is that government red tape and slow moving processes have caused investments in Canada's energy industry to drop by more than $84 billion over the past two years. Indeed, $84 billion in investments in the Canadian energy sector were simply cancelled. Imagine the impact that has on job creation in the country.
That is not all. As everyone knows, Canada has been open to foreign investment ever since Brian Mulroney's first government in 1984. The Liberal government of the day had set up an agency to select foreign investors. When Mr. Mulroney's government took over in 1984, one of the first things it did was get rid of that agency and welcome foreign investment because it knew that investment creates wealth. Since then, Canada has made much progress thanks to foreign and domestic investment.
Now, however, foreign investors are stampeding for the exit. They are leaving Canada. Direct foreign investment in Canada plunged from 42% in 2016 to 27% in 2017 under a Liberal government. Why? Because the economic environment is not conducive to investment and wealth creation. Today we are glad the legal environment is good because Bill C-25 will modernize the Canada Cooperatives Act and the Canada Business Corporations Act. We agree with that.
However, we need to change the economic environment. We need to attract foreign investment. To do that, as the official opposition has been saying for months, we need less regulation and lower taxes. Crucially, the government has to stop taxing Canadians and funnelling the proceeds to big corporations in the form of subsidies and non-repayable loans.
I would add that businesses have lost confidence in Canada. Canadian business investment has declined by 5%, or $12.7 billion, since 2015. What happened in 2015? Oh right, the Liberal government took office and proceeded to scare off foreign investment. Our business people are now reluctant to invest because of this government. This spells disaster for our country's economic future.
We will understand the impact of this drop in investments in the months and years ahead. Fewer investments mean fewer jobs. That is the sad part of all this.
I fully agree with the government on the need to modernize the legislative framework surrounding business corporations. That is a good thing and we support it. However, we do take issue with the economic environment the Liberal government has created for our country. It will spell disaster for future generations.
That being said, I have to say that we fully support all the amendments to this bill brought forward by our colleagues in the Senate. I hope the House passes this bill as soon as possible. I also hope the Minister of Finance understands the situation in which Canadian entrepreneurs are being forced to operate and can assure them of a brighter future.
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, may I, on behalf of my constituents in Battle River—Crowfoot, pass my condolences to the people of Humboldt and to the parents who lost a child and a hockey player in that horrific accident. I know we are all moved and we have seen other statements, but on behalf of my constituency, I want to pass on our sympathies and condolences.
It is a privilege to stand in this place this afternoon to speak to budget 2018. I would like to begin by echoing the words that our Conservative leader said on budget day, words that have been mentioned many times here in the House already. I would quote him when he said, “Never has a [Prime Minister] spent so much to achieve so little.” I may add that never has a Prime Minister so blatantly made a promise and so blatantly broken a promise, not only once, not twice, but now three times.
During the 2015 election, Liberals promised there would be three modest deficits of $10 billion or under before they would return to a balanced budget in 2019. Did they keep that promise? Obviously, no. As a direct result of that broken promise, the Liberal government is on track to add $450 billion to Canada's national debt over the next 27 years, with a budget projected not to be balanced again until 2045.
The deficit this fiscal year is $18 billion, three times that which was promised. We now have a national debt of $669 billion, and the interest rate for that crippling debt is rising. This year it will be $26 billion and by 2022 it is projected to be $33 billion, which is more than the spending on any one government department, including the $25 billion that is spent on our national defence. If this is not an insult to our men and women in uniform, perhaps the fact that there is no mention of military spending in the budget is.
Of extreme disappointment to many of my constituents, there was also no mention in the budget of the agricultural sector. The only reference to farming in the budget was the $4.3 million over five years that was brought forward to support the reopening of farms at two Ontario federal penitentiaries. What does it say about Liberal priorities when inmates in our federal penitentiaries come before our farmers?
Budget 2018 also failed to address any uncertainties related to the North American Free Trade Agreement or provide a response to the major tax cuts that were announced in the United States. One month after the finance minister delivered the budget, he was quoted in the Financial Post as saying in reference to the significant tax changes in the United States:
There was no place in our budget for saying speculatively what we might or might not do in the future based on analysis that hasn't been completed.
I could argue with that. I could argue, knowing the finance department, that I very much doubt that there was no analysis done or that it was incomplete moving into a budget. In terms of a budget that is going to give confidence to investors and people here in Canada, he backed away from mentioning anything that would give some confidence on the completion of that trade agreement.
He said that the Liberal government is not yet prepared to help Canadian businesses tackle competitive challenges in the face of the corporate tax rate in the United States being cut from 35% to 21%, in the face of a U.S. tax system that fully supports the adoption of new technologies, and in the face of new U.S. incentives for intellectual property and marketing until he has undertaken a complete analysis of the impact of these reports.
He said this despite the fact that investment in this country has been waning since the oil price collapse of 2014, with a total decline of almost 18%. Once the strongest in the G7, it has been the weakest over the past four years.
He said this despite the fact that we are struggling to attract capital investment from abroad, with foreign direct investment plunging last year to the lowest level since 2010; despite the fact that Canada's average corporate tax rate is about 27%, three percentage points above that of the world's advanced economies; and despite Canadian businesses being faced with regulatory changes, new carbon taxes, carbon prices, minimum wage hikes, and higher energy or electricity prices. He said this despite the fact that the Business Council of Canada, representing chief executives from dozens of major companies, asked the finance minister prior to the release of budget 2018 for an immediate response. There was silence.
John Manley, former Liberal finance minister and head of the Business Council of Canada, stated:
We’re hoping for a signal that the government is on the case. There’s really no indication in the budget they’re on the case. The first step to solving the problem is admitting that there is one. And they’re not admitting that there is one.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce concluded that budget 2018 is long on spending and short on growth. It agrees with the Business Council of Canada and has implored the Liberal government to “...act with urgency to implement measures that will retain and attract business investment in Canada.”
They get it: we need to attract business investment opportunities back to this country.
We on this side of the House applaud the efforts of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of Canada because we know, as do many economic experts, that business investment is the most important source of economic growth in this country. The government must leave more money in the hands of business so that it can invest more in innovation, productivity, and enhanced technologies.
However, before the government takes any steps that affect business, it needs to invite small and medium-sized business owners to the table. In his keynote speech at the April meeting of the chamber of commerce, Ken Kobly, president of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce, called out our provincial and federal governments for failing to talk with business owners on policy that affects them. As a result of this failure, Mr. Kobly said, the federal government’s budget “was heavy on platitudes but light on any real long-term economic diversification plan.”
Jack Mintz, of the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, said that rather than providing real tax reform to more powerfully impact economic growth, most provisions of budget 2018 are “aimed at raising taxes, whether it's tightening international rules, throwing money at CRA to curb avoidance, [or] capping the deduction for small businesses on passive income.” He said that to get any economic growth, “the Liberals are relying heavily on government spending.” He further said, “It all harkens back to the 1970s, when Pierre Trudeau's policy framework offered regional development, politically driven grants, wage and price controls, a far-too-generous employment insurance program, and subsidized Crown corporations.”
Obviously it comes as no surprise that the apple has not fallen far from the tree.
The province of Alberta has experienced the worse decline in investment in this country. Energy investment is at the lowest level on record, below even the worst of the 2009 recession, with a loss of over $80 billion and more than 110,000 jobs. With drilling rigs heading to the United States, where there is a more hospitable investment climate, there has been a significant decline in capital spending.
If these facts are not bad enough, a week ago Kinder Morgan announced that it has suspended work on the Trans Mountain expansion project. The blame for this development rests squarely on the shoulders of our Prime Minister, who has failed to take a single concrete step to ensure this project is completed.
John Ivison said last week, “The consequence of failure is the collapse of his entire economic and environmental framework, not to mention reputational damage from which he might never recover.”
We need this project in Alberta. We must do all we can to get the oil moving again to a deepwater port so we can build our markets around the globe. We cannot rely on the United States. The budget does not give any encouragement for investment to come back to our country. We need to see a plan, soon, that will do this.
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