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Results: 1 - 7 of 7
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-06-12 17:20 [p.29016]
Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I would say that it demonstrates his basic lack of knowledge on indigenous consultation and the impact of Bill C-69. Nothing in the legislation or Senate amendment package would change the current situation.
For decades, Canada has been a world leader in the incorporation of indigenous knowledge and expertise in project reviews and partnerships with indigenous communities, particularly of the top 10 major oil-producing regions in the world. Without a doubt, governments must improve their execution of their duties in this regard. However, the Prime Minister is wrong about this issue and Bill C-69.
The proposed Senate package and the specific amendments the Liberals rejected responded to the concerns of indigenous communities to elevate and amplify their locally impacted voices in early engagement and throughout the review process.
Mark Wittrup, vice-president of environmental and regulatory affairs at Clifton Associates, reinforces that point. He says that Bill C-69 “will create significant delays, missed opportunities and likely impact those that need that economic development the most: northern and Indigenous communities.”
The Liberals have caused uncertainty around resource development in the past three and a half years, with their imposition of layers of costs and red tape in policies like the carbon tax. Canada is the only country out of the top 10 oil producers in the world to adopt one.
The Liberals' new fuel standard is a reckless experiment, with severe cost consequences for refining, petrochemical processing, manufacturing and others. Then there is their unilateral imposition of the offshore drilling ban and unilateral prohibitions of activity on wide swathes of land. Their shipping ban, Bill C-48, is a direct attack on a specific industry, particularly damaging to a specific region of the country. It has already driven jobs, businesses and capital out of Canada at a nearly historic rate, resulting in a complete failure to build a single new inch of in-service pipeline.
The consequences of the Liberals' deliberate rejection of constructive suggestions from private sector proponents, economists, regulatory experts and various governments will be measured in more lost jobs, more cancelled projects, more missed contracts and more investment lost for a generation.
Energy companies are warning about the devastating impact on their workers and operations. This is in light of the oil and gas sector, which has already lost more than 100,000 jobs. It is likely closer to 200,000, if the statistics reflected employed individuals in the south. Over $100 billion in energy projects have been cancelled since 2015.
To put this in context, it is important to note that these numbers are the equivalent of losing the jobs created by the entire aerospace sector and almost all the auto sector. It is the equivalent of losing eight times the annual GDP generated by the aerospace sector and five times the GDP generated by the automotive sector.
If either of those two sectors were to face the same job losses and collapse in investment, we can bet, as there ought to be and has been, that there would be full attention and action from the federal government. However, the response to the devastation of the energy sector, of oil and gas workers and of their families has been empty rhetoric and platitudes, as well as a piling on of policies and laws, like Bill C-69, that are out right hostile and make things so much worse.
Concerns about Bill C-69 span sectors and regions.
A joint letter from the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Gas Association, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, The Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. and the Petroleum Services Association of Canada says that Bill C-69 will:
lead to greater uncertainty in the assessment and review processes [because it] requires assessment and decisions based on broad public policy questions that are beyond the scope of individual projects. It introduces longer timelines, and vague criteria that will increase the risk of legal challenges.
This is what the private sector proponents are warning.
They also take issue with the fact that Bill C-69 “gives the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada broad discretionary powers, which could further increase uncertainty for major infrastructure projects.” It also “put[s] at risk the investment needed for Canada to create the jobs and government revenues that support our quality of life.”
Certain criteria are essential to attracting and retaining investment in Canada, such as certainty in regulations, permanence of regulations, certainty in the form of timelines, performance-based policies that ensure benefits to communities by tying incentives to performance-based measures, such as job creation, research and development, innovation and capital investment.
Those criteria were hallmarks of Canada's regulatory framework for decades, with the most rigorous assessment, comprehensive consultation, high standards and strongest environmental protections in the world. However, from the beginning of the consideration of Bill C-69, starting when the Liberals rushed the bill through the House a year and a half ago, proponents raised major concerns on each of these key elements. One of those elements is timelines.
Bill C-69, as it is going to be passed by the Liberals, would create a potential for a delay that would allow the Governor in Council to extend timelines without providing justification. There is no hard time cap for the overall process. The criteria for making such an extension will be defined in regulations. Even after the Liberals ram the bill through the House, there will still be uncertainty around timelines, which we developed after the fact.
Literally, therefore, the cabinet will be the only power to decide when to delay a project. That is clear further politicization of the process and introduces further uncertainty for proponents considering a new project. That is why so many of the Senate amendments are dearly needed. They introduce legislative maximum time frames, they remove the ability for Governor in Council to extend timelines indefinitely and force the Governor in Council to provide reasons for suspending timelines. Maximum timelines set in law reduce uncertainty for investors, because time is money.
The Liberals' rejection of the Senate amendments clearly shows their intention to return to open-ended timelines. According to their legislation, the federal cabinet can keep resetting the process, forcing proponents to go through the same stage multiple times. That is the definition of “death by delay” now being implemented in law by these Liberals, which is a term and a tactic that anti-resource activists call their campaigns to kill Canadian resource projects.
Bill C-69, without accepting the amendments from the Senate, would also grant a single minister the power to refuse to undertake an assessment at all. It would grant a single minister complete discretion regarding whether to designate a project under Bill C-69's lengthy and uncertain assessment process. That would result in considerable uncertainty for proponents, even where proposed projects would not be included on the project list. They simply could be added to it by a single minister, the Minister of Environment.
That sort of political uncertainty is unacceptable. Therefore, a single minister could kill a project by adding years of delay and hundreds of millions in additional costs. It does not really get any more political than that. This is why so many of the Senate amendments must be preserved to make this legislation workable.
That is, of course, related to one of the major concerns from industry, provinces and municipalities, and the Conservatives have been warning about it, which is the uncertainty around vague project criteria. As originally worded by the Liberals, who are again intending to ram through Bill C-69, it would increase the length and the uncertainty of regulatory and judicial processes that already pose significant challenges to a timely completion on major resource projects.
Regulatory reviews already require significant commitment and exceptional due diligence by proponents, communities, as should be the case, but they are often extremely complex, duplicative and expensive and sometimes result in deep divisions.
Clear and concise criteria that projects are measured against ensures predictability for all parties and that ensures approved projects can actually get built, instead of having to repeat key parts of the process or spending years in court defending in approval.
However, the Liberals' Bill C-69 would add numerous additional criteria that would not be within the direct control of the proponent and criteria that would be so vague that it would be difficult to determine what they even would involve precisely, never mind for proponents to be able to determine how to incorporate them or how to account for them in their project proposals.
The Senate amendments, while not even as concise as the Conservatives would make them, are a vast improvement over the original Liberal wording. They would remove broad political debates from the formal review process and focus the fact and evidence-based review on criteria that would be measurable, quantifiable and predictable.
The concern with the Liberals' criteria that they are proposing in Bill C-69 by rejecting all the Senate fixes is that they are requiring the panel conducting the review to make determinations on matters that are subjective, that relate to the subjective policy priorities of the government and are inherently political.
How can a project proponent proposing a physical project based on engineering realities and the technical, economic, environmental and safety merits of a specific project anticipate and account for the particular political objectives of the current government of any given day? The answer is that it cannot. That uncertainty will stop proponents from proposing big projects and crucial infrastructure in Canada.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-04-12 12:58 [p.27064]
Mr. Speaker, I am going to be sharing my time today with my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent. For those who are watching at home and who may be quickly bored by my speech, if they hang in there for 10 minutes, they will hear a much better speech after by my colleague.
I am very pleased to join the debate today on the Liberal budget. The Liberals have presented what I call a Dr. Strangelove budget or, in this case, “How I stopped worrying and learned to love the debt”. That is what the government wants Canadians to believe: “Do not worry, we can continue to spend forever. Do not worry, the economy will grow forever. No recession will ever happen again. Do not worry, we can rack up debt to the very end of time and it will not be a problem. Do not worry about about interest payments. Do not worry about the fact that our interest payments are growing from this fiscal year of $26 billion and to $33.2 billion per year in just a four-year period.”
That is $149 billion that we are going to be paying, transferred out of the pockets of taxpayers to rich bondholders on Bay Street, just over a five-year period. It will be $149 billion. In the fourth year, 2023, it is going to be $33.2 billion. Now, that is more than we spend per year in EI payments. That is more than we pay out in the child benefit program. That is more than we pay out for national defence.
Here we are with the Liberal priority of paying off rich Bay Street bankers and bondholders instead of defence, instead of families and instead of those on EI. To put it in perspective, with that money, the Liberals could pay for 2,750 refrigeration units for the Weston family. Let us think about that. The Liberals could also provide their own billionaire island for every single cabinet minister, so they could go to their island and not worry about violating the ethics laws. Liberal ministers could go to their own billionaire island and not worry about being invited by a paid lobbyist.
“Do not worry” is what the Liberals are saying. Do not worry about the declining productivity rate that Canadians are suffering through. Do not worry about disappearing foreign investment.
That is one thing I do worry about, though. We see foreign investment fleeing Canada. We see the oil industry devastated, $100 billion fleeing to the States. We see the Liberals giving Kinder Morgan $4.5 billion to take out of the country and invest in pipelines in the States. Who do we see interested in investing in Canada, which the Liberals are only too happy to see? It is Huawei. We see Anbang investing in Canada, thanks to the Liberal government. We see the Chinese Communist government-controlled CCCC construction firm trying to buy out local Canadian infrastructure companies. The Liberals are all willing to invest in Canada but not regular people.
“Do not worry,” say the Liberals. Do not worry about the fact that the debt is going to rise to over three-quarters of a billion dollars over the next five years. That is not including Crown corporations. When we throw in the Crown corporations, it is well over a trillion dollars of debt that Canadians are going to be carrying. This money has to be worrying, but “Do not worry. Stop worrying. Learn to love it,” is what the Liberals are saying.
Canadians are worried. We sent out a request to my constituents, asking for their response, asking what they think of the debt and if they feel they are further ahead than when the Liberals took over. This is what they are saying. This is not the made-up information that is in the budget, such as “Billy went to buy an electric vehicle and got a handout from the government.” These are real Canadians, real people living in Edmonton West, and this what they are saying.
Elmer wrote in and said, “It's worse off and it's not improving. They are so concerned about the ramifications of Oshawa's GM plant closing. What about Alberta? We've had no oil revenue and, therefore, severe unemployment problems for over three years, but I have not seen any concern about Alberta's unemployment situation.”
We used to have four Liberal members of Parliament. We have not had any of them stand up, supporting Alberta. We had four MPs in Liberal Party from Alberta, which are now down to three because of a scandal. We used to have two in the cabinet and now we are down to one, again, because of a scandal.
The member for Calgary Centre stood up and publicly stated that he would pound his fist on the desk at the cabinet table to make sure pipelines were built. What has happened? Absolute crickets from the member, he has done nothing.
The natural resources minister is based in Edmonton in the riding of Edmonton Mill Woods. What has he done for Alberta? Absolutely nothing.
In the budget, $27 million are provided for the diversification of the western economy and there are $100 million for oil and gas support. What did the Liberals put aside for subsidies so wealthy people could buy electric vehicles? Almost half a billion dollars. Even though the Minister of Natural Resources is from Edmonton Mill Woods in Alberta, only $27 million have been provided for diversification.
What about the member for Edmonton Centre? I asked him for his thoughts on the no new pipeline bill, Bill C-69. I asked him about the offshore tanker ban that did not ban tankers, just Alberta oil. I also asked him about all of the Liberals' other punitive policies against Alberta. He stood and said that he was proud of them. He was proud to push through Bill C-69, which ensures we will not see a single new energy project ever again in Alberta. He was proud that our oil was banned on the west coast, while we happily bring in oil from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. This is shameful.
I received a letter from a lady named Holly, who was asked if she was better off. She said, “Seriously? Can anyone be better off? We lost our small business of 20 years. We paid our taxes and paid our staff. The bank took our house, which guaranteed our small business loan, which we hadn't missed a payment on. All of our employees, including four family members, are all out of work. We are jobless and homeless, and the government just keeps on destroying the economy.”
Let us remember back to a couple of years ago when the Prime Minister was in Calgary and confronting these things. His comment was, “Just hang in there.” People like Holly cannot just hang in there. The government's policies are destroying the livelihoods and hope of people living in Alberta.
Brian writes, “Worse off—I live in subsidized housing in Edmonton—the cost of living has gone up a great deal but not our income. We all got a raise from the Alberta Government, not even $2. 30% of that goes to my apartment cost, so what did I get? We got a carbon tax—30% of that went to our apartment cost. Anything we get, 30% goes to the cost of our apartment.”
The Government members stand again and again, as they did just recently, to note the Liberals' $40-billion national housing program. Apparently, it is $50 billion now. The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, or IFSD, which is headed by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, has looked for this money. It writes that the Liberals', “NHS looks like” nothing except a “glossy document that accompanied its announcement....unfortunately, for now, the NHS is virtually nowhere to be seen in the federal fiscal framework.”
With respect to the Liberals' $40 billion, the Prime Minister and the parliamentary secretary responsible for this both stood to say that the Liberals housed one million people. They actually told people this. That was until the Toronto Star, the prophet of North America, said this was not true and that the number was actually 13,000. The Liberals' own department results showed it was 13,000 and the Liberals claimed it was one million. However, they say, as they just did now, this is worth $50 billion.
The IFSD said that it could only find $1.3 billion budgeted in the first five years and $5.1 billion budgeted over 10 years.
As a last comment, I would like to note comments by a man named Helmut. He said, “Worse than a year ago. As a senior on income security, the provision is not keeping pace with high rise in expenses....”
This is what we are hearing from Canadians when we talk to them. They are barely treading water. They are not getting ahead, as generations have before them. Every time they take a step forward, the government drags them back two steps, whether it is done with the carbon tax, taking away other tax credits or pushing up debt, which pushes up interest rates. Canadians are not getting ahead.
On Tuesday, when Jason Kenney becomes premier of Alberta, we will take our first steps toward fixing the problems in Alberta. On October 21, we will take the next step, when we turf the government and bring back a Conservative government.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2018-11-06 16:48 [p.23354]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are drowning Canadian job creators in red tape and tax hikes. Whether it is the carbon tax, small business tax hikes or the many cancelled tax credits and deductions, the Liberals are driving businesses out of Canada and killing Canadian jobs, hurting workers and middle-class families across the country.
Every other day major oil and gas companies cancel future projects, stop expansions or completely sell their Canadian businesses and take their money to other countries. It is a crisis, and it is not a result of external factors beyond the government's control. In fact, it is a direct consequence of the Liberals' message to Canadians and the world that Canada is closed for business because of the Liberals' added red tape and imposed cost increases.
Context is important. The energy sector is the biggest private sector investor and accounts for over 11% of the value of Canada's economy. To put this in perspective, it contributes twice as much as agriculture and fisheries combined, sectors in which farmers and fishermen also often have jobs in oil and gas. It contributes more than the banking and finance sector and more than the auto sector. The benefits are shared across Canada. Every one job in the oil sands creates seven manufacturing jobs in Ontario. Every one upstream oil and gas job in Alberta creates five jobs in other sectors, in other provinces.
However, spending in Canada's oil and gas sector declined 56% over three years, from $81 billion in 2014 to $45 billion in 2017. More money has left Canada's oil and gas sector since the 2015 election than at any other comparable time period in more than 70 years. The equivalent value would be losing 75% of auto manufacturing in Canada, or almost the entirety of the aerospace sector in Canada, something no one rightfully would accept.
The biggest beneficiary is the U.S. where spending in oil and gas increased 38% to $120 billion in 2017. Today, U.S. investment in Canada is down by more than half. Canadian investment in the U.S. is up by two-thirds. The consequences of these losses are hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work and less revenue for core social programs and services at every level of government in every single province.
Over 115,000 Albertans are out of work and not receiving any employment insurance assistance right now and tens of thousands more have lost their jobs. The Liberals' anti-energy agenda is clearly both hindering the private sector from being able to provide well-paying jobs, but it is also risking the life savings of many Canadians.
Oil and gas companies are a big part of most people's pension plans, and whether through employer provided defined contribution plans or personal investments in mutual funds, chances are that most Canadians are invested in oil and gas. When oil and gas companies leave Canada, the value of those investments in Canada drops, reducing the value of everyone's retirement savings. Now CPP and the Ontario teachers' pension plan are also investing in the United States.
I want to highlight an aspect of this legislation that will compound uncertainty and challenges for Canadian oil and gas proponents. On page 589, in the very last chapter of this 840-page omnibus bill, clause 692 implements sweeping new powers for the federal cabinet to impose regulations on marine transport. Included in these powers is the ability to pass regulations:
(j) respecting compulsory routes and recommended routes;
(k) regulating or prohibiting the operation, navigation, anchoring, mooring or berthing of vessels or classes of vessels; and
(l) regulating or prohibiting the loading or unloading of a vessel or a class of vessels.
This means the Liberal cabinet can block any class of tanker from any route leaving Canada or from docking at any port the Liberals choose. In Bill C-48, oil tankers of a certain size will be prevented from travelling and from the loading and off-loading of crude at ports only off the northern coast of B.C.
This legislation, Bill C-86, would be a dramatic expansion, giving the Liberal cabinet the power to block oil exports from any port anywhere in Canada or to block oil tankers in general from entering Canadian waters. Places like the Arctic could lose access to the fuel tankers that keep power on during the winter. Offshore oil and gas development in Atlantic Canada could be blocked overnight. That is alarming in itself, and it gets worse.
This legislation authorizes a single minister to be able to make legally binding changes to these regulations for a year at a time and even up to three years, regarding “compulsory routes” and “prohibiting the operation, navigation, anchoring, mooring or berthing of vessels or classes of vessels”. One minister with one stroke of a pen can shut down an entire industry with wide-ranging impacts.
This is a pattern. The Liberals repeatedly demonstrate their hostility to the oil and gas sector in Canada. The Prime Minister of course said that he wants to phase out the oil sands, and Canadians should believe him. He defended the use of tax dollars for summer jobs to stop the Trans Mountain expansion. The Liberals removed the tax credit for new exploration oil drilling at the very worst time.
Also, many Liberal MPs ran in the last election opposing the export of Canada's oil to the world. Since they formed government, the Liberals have used every tool at their disposal to kill energy sector jobs.
Canada is the only top 10 oil-producing country in the world, let alone in North America, to impose a carbon tax on itself. While there are significant exemptions for major industrial emitters, it will hike costs for operations across the value chain, and certainly for the 80% of Canadian service and supply companies that are small businesses. Moreover, individual contractors will still have to pay it.
The proposed clean fuel standards—which would be unprecedented globally because they would be applied to buildings and facilities, not just to transportation fuel—will cost integrated oil and gas companies as well as refining and petrochemical development in Canada hundreds of millions of dollars. Canada is literally the most environmentally and socially responsible producer of oil and gas in the world, oil and gas that the world will continue to demand for decades. We are falling dramatically behind the United States and other countries for regulatory efficiency and clarity.
The Liberals imposed the tanker ban, with no substantial economic, safety, or environmental assessments and no real consultation, and a ban on offshore drilling in the north against the wishes of the premier of the Northwest Territories.
The Prime Minister vetoed outright the northern gateway pipeline and then intervened to kill energy east with delays, rule changes and a last-minute double standard. Now, the Liberals' failures have driven Kinder Morgan out of Canada. Construction of the Trans Mountain expansion has never started in the two years since the Liberals approved it, and they have repeatedly kicked the can down the road for months. The consequence is that crude oil is now being shipped by rail and truck at record levels, negatively impacting other sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and retail.
The Liberals would add uncertainty and great expense for any resource project that has even a ditch on its property, by subjecting all water to the navigable waters regulatory regime in Bill C-68. Moreover, their “no more pipelines” Bill C-69 would block any future pipelines and therefore stop major oil and gas projects from being built in Canada.
Kinder Morgan is now going to take all of that $4.5 billion in Canadian tax dollars the Liberals spent on the existing pipeline and will use it to build pipelines in the United States, Canada's biggest energy competitor and customer. The consequences are that large companies are pulling out of Canada and investing in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Encana, a made in Canada success story, is selling Canadian assets to buy into projects in the United States. Gwyn Morgan, its founder, did not mince words. He said:
I’m deeply saddened that, as a result of the disastrous policies of the [Liberal] government, what was once the largest Canadian-headquartered energy producer now sees both its CEO and the core of its asset base located in the U.S.
It is estimated that the Liberal failure to get pipelines built is forcing Canadian oil to sell for $100 million dollars less a day than what it should be worth. That is $100 million dollars a day that is not providing for middle-class families, that is not fuelling small businesses, and not generating taxes to pay off the out-of-control Liberal deficit.
RBC recently reported that in 2008, taxes generated by oil and gas were worth $35 billion a year for provincial and federal governments. That is now down to almost $10 billion a year in 2016. That is more than $20 billion a year that could have gone to health care and education or to cover old age security costs, or be invested in building bridges and roads. Of course, the Liberals promised a deficit of only $10 billion a year and that the budget would be balanced by 2019, but none of that is anywhere in sight. They choose to spend recklessly: millions of dollars on perks like renovations for ministers' offices, a $5 million hockey rink on Parliament Hill that operated for a couple of months, or $26 million for vehicles. Never mind the billions of dollars spent outside Canada, building oil and gas pipelines in Asia with Canadian tax dollars or funding groups linked to anti-Semitism and terrorism.
Never has a government spent so much and achieved so little. The end result is Canada is trapped in a debt spiral. The ones who are going to pay for these deficits are millennials and their children, and it makes life less affordable today while federal government debt increases interest rates across the board. That poses significant risks to Canada and leaves us utterly unprepared for a global economic recession or worldwide factors that the government cannot control, unlike the Liberals' damaging policies. Future generations will find that their governments cannot afford services or programs they are counting on, and their governments will be in a trap of borrowing and hiking taxes. That is why Conservatives advocate balanced budgets, because it is the only responsible thing to do for Canada's children and grandchildren.
The out-sized contributions of the energy sector to the whole country's economy and to government revenue is also why the future of energy development in Canada is one of the most important domestic economic questions facing all of us. That is what makes the Liberal layering of red tape and costs on Canadian energy so unconscionable, and the consequences so devastating for all of Canada.
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
View Tracey Ramsey Profile
2017-02-03 10:16
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at report stage of Bill C-30, an act to implement the comprehensive economic and trade agreement between Canada and the European Union and its member states and to provide for certain other measures. It is a very important piece of legislation, one that I fear has not been given due study or consideration by parliamentarians.
As a member of the Standing Committee on International Trade, I was dismayed to be the only member of Parliament who voted against a heavy-handed motion that restricted our committee from receiving feedback on this legislation from anyone but the few witnesses who were selected to appear.
It is vitally important that we hear from Canadians on the legislation that comes before us at committee. Shutting the door on the voices of Canadians goes against the spirit of openness and transparency, which should be the very cornerstones of our democracy.
With limited committee meetings and witnesses, there were many issues that the committee failed to properly address, such as the impact of CETA on mariners' jobs. Even of those few witnesses we heard from, groups that are supportive of the deal have concerns about how it will be implemented and how the government will support their industries in accessing potential new markets.
CETA has been called the biggest trade and investment deal since NAFTA. It covers a wide array of issues, including significant reforms to Canadian intellectual property rules related to generic and non-generic pharmaceutical drugs.
Deals like CETA are part of a new generation of trade deals, such as the trans-Pacific partnership, which include many controversial aspects that have more to do with investors' interests than the public's interest.
There is growing concern around the world, where people are questioning if these massive trade and investment deals are in the public's best interests. The Minister of Foreign Affairs claims that swift passage of CETA is necessary to send a message that Canada still supports these deals in the face of mounting public opposition to trade agreements. However, passing this legislation with little study of its impacts on the lives of everyday Canadians is the opposite of how we as legislators should be proceeding.
Much has changed in the world since CETA was signed. We are having many conversations about the trade agenda of the newly elected U.S. president and what it means to have fair trade or free trade.
I would like to read a quote from Angella MacEwen, senior economist at the Canadian Labour Congress, who testified before our trade committee:
There are market failures, distributional impacts, and very real concerns that workers have, because trade deals can increase inequality if you don't take proper action to make sure they don't. The answer isn't in rushing more trade deals through. The answer is in taking a minute to examine those very real concerns that people have and those very real negative impacts to see how you can mitigate them.
I agree that the proper response is not rushing more trade deals through. This is why I pushed at committee for more meetings, more study, and more input from Canadians on CETA.
I proposed various amendments at committee and I was pleased to see the Liberals agreed there need to be some changes to the bill's intellectual property rights. We agreed on several amendments to these provisions in the bill.
I also proposed amendments to limit CETA's controversial investment chapter. There is no reason Bill C-30 should have contained these provisions. European states, namely Belgium, have made it clear that investor-state provisions must be removed before it is willing to ratify CETA, yet the Liberals are asking parliamentarians to sign off on CETA as it stands, including these investor-state provisions. If these provisions will not be provisionally applied and will be rejected for ratification in Europe, why would Parliament sign off on them?
In the event that an investor court system is established as Bill C-30 proposes to do, there is an issue with how tribunal panellists will be selected. As pointed out by Gus Van Harten, these panellists will hold incredible power yet their appointments will be unilaterally selected solely by the Minister of International Trade. I proposed an amendment at committee that this process be opened up and I was disappointed to see that government MPs had no interest in debating my proposal.
I also proposed an amendment to remove the increased threshold for mandatory foreign takeover reviews. CETA includes a clause that would raise this threshold from $600 million to $1.5 billion, meaning foreign takeovers of Canadian companies under $1.5 billion would not be subject to review of whether such a takeover would be in our national interest.
I would also like to discuss the issue of how CETA impacts maritime jobs. CETA will, for the first time, legally allow foreign-owned vessels and foreign crews to transport goods between Canadian ports and will open up domestic dredging contracts to foreign suppliers. This will lead to the estimated loss of 3,000 Canadian seafarers' jobs. These are high quality, well-paying jobs. This industry as a whole supports 250,000 direct and indirect jobs.
I received a phone call in my office over the holiday period from a woman who was distraught over the impact on maritime workers. She was also distraught that her Liberal MP would not respond to her request to understand the situation he was putting their community in. These communities rely on these good-paying jobs, and this has simply been ignored.
I was shocked that the Liberals did not even say a word at committee during the debate around this motion. There was not one word. That is incredibly disappointing for parliamentarians who are committed not only to represent the people in their own riding but across the country, when they sit on such an important committee as the international trade committee.
We also know that CETA will allow foreign boats to bring in foreign workers, with no requirement for a labour market impact assessment. These workers can be paid as little as $2 an hour, and suffer from low safety standards and poor working conditions. Over the holiday period, there was a ship on the west coast that came in with workers who had not been paid and workers who had been on the ship a year beyond their contract and could not be released to go back home. These workers are being mistreated, and only when they reach Canadian ports and someone discovers this is happening are Canadians able to intervene on their behalf. This is an issue of human rights in our own waters.
I would also like to point out that by permitting more foreign flag vessels CETA encourages tax avoidance, since foreign ships registered in flags of convenience countries, such as Malta or Cypress, take advantage of tax havens and the cheapest labour available.
Today, at report stage, on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, I am proposing amendments to delete clauses of Bill C-30 that would implement parts of CETA's investment chapter, implement changes to the pharmaceutical intellectual property rights, implement a host of new geographical indicators, raise the threshold for foreign reviews, and change the rules for coasting trade.
I want to go back to the geographical indicators for a moment, because the European Union was quite clear. It requested over 170 carve-outs for geographical indicators. Some in the House may be asking what these exactly are. These are things like cheese designation for Asiago cheese, or feta cheese. It is things like champagne or Darjeeling tea. These are things that Canadian producers will no longer be able to label with those names because they will own those geographical indicators in Europe. If Canadian suppliers or producers attempt to put the name on them, they will be in violation of CETA.
The interesting part about this is Canada received zero geographical indicators. Think about Nanaimo bars, Saskatoon berries, maple syrup, or Montreal smoked meat. None of these things are protected. That means European companies can continue to label their products in this way. This is a huge loss to all of these growth industries.
I look forward to further debating these amendments today, and I ask fellow parliamentarians to take a serious look at these proposed changes before the House moves on to the third reading of Bill C-30. There are many unanswered questions and outstanding concerns regarding CETA. As parliamentarians, we cannot simply turn a blind eye to the very real concerns that exist in this trade deal.
It is disheartening to me that the Liberals refuse to address the increase in the cost of pharmaceutical drugs that will impact every person in their riding, I believe it is a disservice to Canadians not to look at the good and bad in every piece of trade legislation that comes before the House. We actually are obligated to do that. We have taken an oath to do that. I ask parliamentarians to take that seriously today.
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2016-11-28 17:16 [p.7335]
Mr. Speaker, at a time when so many people have lost their jobs or are at risk of losing their jobs in the near future, the government is about to implement a new payroll tax and take more money off the paycheques of my constituents.
For those who are listening, who may not realize what is about to happen, the Liberal government is about to increase the amount of money taken off an individual's paycheque that goes to the Canada pension plan. Also, the amount of money that their employer pays into this plan will also increase.
For many Canadians, this amount of money coming off their paycheques will make it harder to pay their monthly bills. For employers, especially small businesses, this increase to their operating costs will force many to make choices on whether to hire more people or simply to let people go.
Today I want to do two things in debate. First, I want to refute the government's primary argument for doing this, and, second, I will refute the government's assertion that this is the best policy to help Canadians save for retirement. I will point out how many of its policies are actually detrimental to them doing so.
On the first point, this is a payroll tax increase. The Liberals believe that my constituents cannot be trusted to make the right decisions to save for their retirement. They want my constituents to believe that the lowly taxpayers do not have the capacity to plan for their own savings and manage their retirement. They want them to believe that dependence on their government in their old age is the path to their security. They want them to believe that the government's seizure and control of their funds is in their best interest.
While there is a role for government in many situations, the fundamental belief in the freedom of Canadians is what sets Liberals apart from common-sense people. Liberals believe that it is only through government control that Canadians can prosper; whereas common-sense Canadians understand that the government should exist to enable our freedom, not to diminish it.
When I listen to the rhetoric around this particular bill and this particular financial instrument, I hear the government saying that Canadians are not saving enough and the government will come in and save them. I hear nothing about how the government will enable their freedom and enable their choice to be economically prosperous.
There is a huge fallacy in trying to convince the Canadian population that the best way for them to plan for their old age, for their retirement security, is to depend upon a large bloated Liberal government. I cannot believe that the government would actually put out that duplicitous comment and not believe that there would be some sort of push-back from the Canadian population.
This is why it is not the correct policy at this point in time. First, the government is creating a crisis where there is none. Certainly we need to ensure that Canadian seniors are well taken care of, that they are well looked after and honoured in their retirement. This measure will not impact Canadian seniors who are already into their retirement. In fact, it will do absolutely nothing for them. This will not increase their pension or help their prospects. Moreover, this will certainly not help their children, which many retirees are concerned about. In fact, this will disable them and disadvantage them.
I think the Liberals have been trying to sell this plan as some form of curative for pensioners who are already in retirement, and we know that is not the case. The fact that there is duplicity in the communications is so dishonest.
Let us talk about people who are planning for their retirement right now. First, there has been no formal consultation to date, absolutely none. The government has not talked to anyone. The Liberals announced this with great fanfare, hoping the Canadian public would turn a blind eye to this absolutely abysmal piece of legislation, which is based on zero financial credibility, and, frankly, zero actuarial credibility. However, I digress.
Beyond the lack of consultation, I would like to see the government commit to creating jobs for Canadians and creating the economic conditions in which people can increase their opportunity for economic growth and prosperity.
In terms of looking at policy instruments which would enable the prosperity of Canadians and my constituents, the government has absolutely failed. The bill will not do this. All this does is take away Canadians' freedom and require more dependence on the government. That is shameful.
Let us talk about these things. First, aside from the great arrogance of the government assuming that Canadians cannot save for themselves and must rely on the great saviourship of the Prime Minister and all of his wonderful gazes into the cameras, Liberals want to put in place a national tax on everything. There is the carbon tax, which will actually not reduce greenhouse gas emissions but only function as a GST, because, number one, they have not done any proper modelling in terms of price elasticity around the demand for carbon. It would only increase the price of everything for people who are struggling to make ends meet.
Liberals want to increase EI premiums, which would put a further chill on small businesses and job creation. They have put in place regulatory uncertainty for major resource projects. Anyone who is looking to invest in Canada right now is going to decide not to because of the political uncertainty, which also puts a chill on job creation. They are not doing anything to retain labour in my province of Alberta. They are allowing the best and brightest in Canada to bleed into the wind.
Liberals talk about increasing humanitarian levels of immigration without looking at the economic implications of that. They are running up a huge debt. I looked at some of the numbers that came out of the parliamentary budget office this year, and, in a non-recessionary period, the government is spending at unprecedented levels. If we are talking about the future of people's retirement, the level of debt that the Liberal government is going into is shameful. I cannot even think about this most of the time. Spending for spending's sake, rather than with any sort of outcome or goal, is not going to help Canadians with their retirement.
Moreover, the thing I find so fundamentally arrogant, in saying that only the government can help them save for their retirement with a program that might not be solvent at some future point, is the fact that the government eliminated the tax-free savings account increase that the Conservative government put in place. They said average Canadians cannot deal with that, average Canadians cannot be trusted with putting their own money into it. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, it is the people in my riding, who are now out of work in the energy sector because of the Liberal government's ideological opposition to that sector, who used the TFSA the most.
Rather than giving Canadians a vehicle in which to save their money, the government is saying it is not going to do that. It is going to take it away. Canadians are going to depend on the government and the Prime Minister and his sunny ways, because he is going to see everyone through with all of his financial acumen, his economic expertise, all of his great connections and understanding how to scrimp and save given his trust fund background. It is saying that everyone should trust in him, and he will show everyone and their children the way. Canadians do not believe that. That is hogwash.
Canadians need economic opportunity and a commitment to freedom, a commitment to understanding that it is Canadian families and workers who first and foremost understand how best to use their money. It is Canadian families who best understand what they need to do to make their families prosperous and give their children opportunities. Increasing CPP premiums, for many small business employers, boils down to a choice between one employee or two. This is at a time when the government has sent a chill through investments and is sending that sort of message. Then it is deciding to put a further chill on investment right now. It is irresponsible and garbage.
I do not even understand how Canadians cannot be infuriated with the arrogance that the government is putting forward in this bill, in saying that Canadians do not know how to spend their own money or how to save for retirement. From the bottom of my soul and with every fibre of my being, I oppose this bill. Because of the arrogance of the leftist, socialist school of thought, that the government first and foremost knows best how people should spend their money and save for their futures, I oppose this bill, and I know many of my constituents do as well.
Instead of putting this absolute pile of garbage forward, I wish the government would commit to creating economic conditions in which investment could occur in Canada and small businesses could thrive. I wish the government would push back against harmful economic practices in fragile economies like Alberta, like a price floor on labour or a carbon tax. This is the sort of economic policy that bankrupts and fails countries. I hope that my colleagues will take that into account.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to the budget implementation act, 2016, No. 2.
For people who might be watching or listening, a brief summary of the process may be helpful in terms of why we are here and what we are debating.
In the spring, the Liberals presented their first budget. The actual implementation comes in two phases. There was Bill C-15, the Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1, which of course was passed last spring. Now we are implementing the next phase of the budget. It is known as the budget implementation act, 2016, No. 2. These are the technical measures to move the budget into law.
The Liberals always used to talk about the Conservatives and the omnibus nature of our legislation. I am not going to call this omnibus, although we can see that it has many different features. It is necessary, sometimes, to move a budget into law that impacts lots of different pieces of legislation. The Liberals called it omnibus. I just call it good governance and how a budget is actually put into action.
Part 1 is a number of income tax measures. Part 2 focuses on the goods and services tax, the harmonized sales tax, and some commitments made there. Part 3 focuses on the excise tax. Part 4 has a number of different pieces, including the Employment Insurance Act, the Old Age Security Act, the Canada Education Savings Act, the Canada Disability Savings Act, the Financial Consumer Protection Framework, the Royal Canadian Mint Act, and funds management, etcetera. What we can see is a broad piece of legislation impacting many acts of Parliament. It is not called omnibus. It really is just a government doing its business.
Before I talk about my concerns about this particular budget and the budget implementation bill, not all is bad. There are perhaps one or two features that I actually think are reasonable.
We all know of lower-income senior citizen couples who are perhaps separated. Perhaps one needs additional care and has to go into a home. Their benefits are still calculated as a couple. I think it is reasonable to say that if a couple is separated and someone has to go into a home, they now have double the living expenses, so the calculation of the GIS and OAS will not be impacted.
I want to note that there are one or two pieces that I think are reasonable.
More importantly, I think the budget is a disaster for Canada and overall is totally unsupportable.
I remember very fondly when I had the privilege of serving on the finance committee when Canada entered the global recession. The late hon. Jim Flaherty was our finance minister. He was also named the best finance minister in Canada.
It was a global crisis at the time. It was a catastrophe. We were very concerned. Leaders around the world had many sleepless nights because of the global recession. I can remember that the hon. Jim Flaherty came up with a plan. He articulated that plan to Canadians. He said what he was going to do over a number of years. Not only did he articulate the plan, he executed the plan, and he executed the plan in almost exactly the way he said he would when he first announced that we were going to have to take extraordinary measures to deal with the global recession.
It is important to say that it was a plan. It was articulated to Canadians, it was executed, and the results speak for themselves.
Up to about 2008-09, things were moving along very well. About $30 million or $40 million was paid back on the debt, then we were struck by the global recession.
The plan at the time was a number of years of deficit spending. The reason I am going over this is to contrast the current plan of the Liberals with the plan we had back then. It was deficit spending to deal with an extraordinary situation, but it was declining deficit spending, starting at approximately $55 billion, and over five years getting back to surplus. That was the plan. It was seen as short term. We needed an infusion to get the wheels going when the systems were failing around us.
Canada can be incredibly proud of having the stimulus. I would say to the Liberals that it was truly infrastructure stimulus. It got out the door fast. It was something that actually gave a jolt to the economy. We did not make mistakes and create deficits because of calculation errors.
Jim Flaherty also knew that once we opened the taps of government spending, it becomes incredibly difficult to turn those taps off. Any of us who lived through the 1990s, when we were in an absolutely horrendous position, realize that turning off those taps is very painful. It was very painful for the provinces. They saw health care transfers come down. There was a lot of pain and effort to get our finances back into a reasonable condition. That was a lesson we recognized.
The late hon. Jim Flaherty would have been incredibly proud to know that he achieved his plan. He did not live long enough to see the results. There are some lessons the Liberal government needs to take from that exercise.
It is also important to note that for 2015-16, the parliamentary budget officer recently confirmed that had it not been for the Liberal spending spree once it took office in October and November, we would have had a $2.9 billion surplus.
Different times require different remedies. Canada came through the global recession. None of our banks failed. We had a short-term stimulus for the economy, we had the best job creation record in the G7, and we moved into a bit of a steady state.
Yes, we have slow growth, but we are not in a recession. That is critical to remember. Slow growth is not a recession, and a different remedy is required economically. The Liberals seem to feel that it needs the kind of jolt we had during the global recession. We need a different remedy to deal with the slow-growth situation we are in, as opposed to the catastrophe we faced with the global recession.
I want to talk about how the Liberals believe they need to craft a budget. In the last year we heard that the budget would balance itself and the economy would grow from the heart out. Nothing could be further from the truth. The budget will not balance itself, and the economy is not going to grow from the heart out. It takes a lot of work and a lot of specific policies to ensure that the government does its part in creating an environment for the economy to grow, and balancing a budget requires some spending discipline. That is something we have not been seeing.
I talked about how we had a plan and that it was not a structural deficit but stimulus spending. It was roads and bridges and different investments that created short-term jobs.
What we are creating with the policies of this new government is a structural deficit that is growing and growing and is going to be more concerning as time goes on.
First, on the middle-class tax cut the Liberals so proudly talk about, they miscalculated by a couple of billion dollars. It was going to be revenue neutral. What the rich pay, the middle-class was going to benefit from, but they missed by a billion or two in the structural deficit.
It was a difficult decision to move the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 to 67. Canadians are living longer, and that is what a lot of other countries are doing. A number of countries in the world have moved the eligibility age for old age security from 65 to 67, because times are different. People are living a lot longer. This was something that would create a sustainable structure for old age security. The Liberals have obliterated that. It is now back to age 65. They have not taken into account the huge structural deficit that will be created with that.
The Liberals talk very proudly about their child care benefit. However, they did not index it. They have learned from the parliamentary budget officer that in a few years it will not be as good as the program we had in place. Therefore, they are indexing it through this budget implementation act. However, the cost of indexing it is $4.2 billion over five years. We have not heard what they are doing to create that revenue, so that will also become part of this structural deficit.
During the election, the Liberals claimed they had to run a small deficit of $10 billion because we had a sluggish economy. It was $30 billion, give or take, when they presented the budget. We will see what the minister has to say next week about this whole economic forecast. I hope I can be optimistic, but I am worried about that $30 billion deficit increasing. What we have is a deficit that continues to grow. There is no plan to create a fiscal anchor to bring it back to balance. They speak of the debt-to-GDP ratio, but have no anchor. Rather, they have a horrific spending problem.
At the same time, the middle class appears to be the touchstone word that we hear from the Liberals. To be frank, instead of growing the middle class, the Liberals are breaking it. They are creating an environment that is very difficult for businesses to thrive in.
Another broken promise is with respect to small business, which is the foundation of our economy. It is critical for employment and the revenues that come into government. The Liberals made a promise, reversed it, and now the small business tax has gone up.
During the election, every party committed to a low small business tax, because we recognized that what the government did not take in, the businesses would put into growing their business and increasing their payroll. Therefore, we felt that supporting small business with low taxes would be fundamentally important for the economy. The Liberals backtracked on that promise.
The next thing the Liberals did to small business owners was cook up a deal with respect to the Canada pension plan. Not only has small business had its tax raised, but it will cost an additional $2,000 a year for every employee: $1,000 paid by the employer and $1,000 by the employee. That might not sound like a lot, but for a new business with 20 employees that is struggling to make payroll, $20,000 can make a huge difference as to what it does and how it deals with its business. A number of these measures are creating some significant issues for the middle class.
I need to make a quick comment with respect to rural communities. Again, rural communities are incredibly important. We do not have a softwood lumber agreement signed. We are concerned about these good-paying, middle-class jobs, which keep the fabric of our rural communities alive. It will be an especially important issue for British Columbia. There does not seem to be any concern at all for rural communities.
Today, our colleague who represents Vegreville, which is a small community of 1,000 people, made reference to the fact that 200 immigration jobs would be moved to Edmonton. That will potentially destroy that community. It will have a huge impact.
The minister justified that by suggesting there were economies of scale. It does not take much to recognize that the commercial rates in Edmonton are going to be a whole lot different from the commercial rates in a small town. I really doubt that the business model is going to have that much impact. In the meanwhile, what they are doing is destroying a small town, and those who choose to move to Edmonton, all of a sudden, are going to face huge challenges because housing prices are extremely different.
We have talked about the middle class. I really do not think the middle class is benefiting from this particular budget. We certainly know that our small businesses are not benefiting from the budget. We certainly know the additional complications that are being created around environmental assessment processes, which are really causing pause. I heard from an investor from Korea who was looking at making significant investments in our country, but who is now backing away. He was saying there's now no certainty, that they do not know what the environmental assessment process will look like and how the carbon tax will fit in. People are looking at Canada and saying that maybe their money would be better spent in another place.
What the government does not realize is that money is mobile and for people to invest in Canada, they need to have confidence in Canada, but the changing landscape with government processes is really creating some challenges. They need to have certainty. They need to know what the process is. They need to know how long the process is.
Yesterday, we had a pretty powerful discussion about the indigenous child welfare system. The fact was brought up that during the first 100 days in office, the Prime Minister committed to spending billions of dollars in other countries. I am not sure those billions are really creating a positive impact in Canada. I do agree that we need to do our part to help address some of the challenges facing other countries. However, when we have in Canada some aboriginal communities facing underfunding of their child welfare services, that is a problem.
In conclusion, the government has time to take pause. It is not too late. But please, before you create this structural deficit, those the government says it is helping, the children, are the ones who are going to have to pay it back.
View Brian Masse Profile
View Brian Masse Profile
2016-10-26 16:20 [p.6156]
Madam Speaker, I am here to speak to something that is very important and it is good that this Parliament is bringing this forward. I think Bill C-25 is a positive initiative.
The minister mentioned the Marrakesh Treaty. That was a treaty that Canada signed onto through a bill passed here, which was important for the blind and for other Canadians, for larger print. It is one of the indications that we can actually move things through the House of Commons and we can have things done for Canadians.
The bill is movement in the right direction. As New Democrats, we are going to support it, for sure. There is no way that we would not support the initiatives of the bill, but there are some shortcomings with the current proposal. We will point out a couple of those, but we want to hear testimony from witnesses as well.
Bill C-25 is an act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and the Competition Act. Essentially what we are talking about is boards of governance in general, when we put the three core elements together. It is an opportunity to update and to include modern changes that are reflective. On the private sector model with the private corporations, blue chip corporations, and others, they have been very derelict, quite frankly, across the world in not having more of an inclusive nature. This is why it has come to the forefront, not just in Canada but across the world.
When we look at Europe and even at the United States, Canada has become known as a laggard with regard to this and there is no doubt about it. When the Conservatives talk about this getting through, after the 10 years it took them to bring something forward, right now we are happy to do so. Unfortunately, we are getting into a bragging competition between the Liberals and the Conservatives about this. However, I wonder why the bill is being launched again, another year and a bit later, basically the same as what it was before, especially given what we have seen with the more fundamental changes that are taking place in Germany and other places, which I will get into later, that are very important.
We are here today to at least take that first step forward in this process. To be clear, the most recent change to the measures in the bill was in 2001. That was just prior to my time here. It was under Jean Chrétien's government at that time, and prior to that it was decades before. We are really looking at nearly 40 years of letting them have the whole show so to speak. Right now, and this is how far things have come along and how difficult it still is, we require a legislative arm on this because still the right thing is not being done. Our corporate boards and tables across this country, where decisions are made about employees and about Canadians, do not even reflect anywhere near the diversity they should, and that is a shame. It is a shame that we have had to come this far.
Hence, one of the amendments that the New Democrats will be bringing forth is to have some type of a review of this process in the legislation. There will be a good debate. I know some civil society organizations and some governance organizations, especially related to the advocacy of women, have questioned the voluntary element in this initiative and said that there should be some monitoring of that.
The one way we can do it, and it is a very respectful way, is to make sure we have this coming back to Parliament so that we and Canadians have a voice to ask why a company is not complying and being reflective to some degree of the Canadian people, or at least coming to the benchmarks, generally speaking, that reflect our society. There are those people historically who have popped through the different barriers that take place. However, I have a concern because of the thoughts we have had in the past related to boards. They were referred to as the “old boys' club”, and that is very real.
It is also an indication that not only is this an issue of gender, ethnicity, and diversity, but also of social class. We have people who are basically disavowed and ruled unable, unequal, or unworthy of rising through the ranks. They have to go through exceptional circumstances to break those barriers, and they have been some of the most ingenuous people we have had. However, the time and day has come when everyone should count on who they are, what they think, what they do, and how hard they work, versus whom they know or who their family are, or at the very least, what their gender is.
We need to make sure that a number of things will be looked at here. These are very important.
The bill would have annual elections for directors. Right now, it can take up to three years for a director to be looked at. An annual director position can set the course on how a corporation responds to its shareholders.
If we believe in the essence of capitalism at face value, the argument there is that the shareholder is a voter and that in a democracy there are voting rights as a shareholder for the board and the CEO who controls it at that time. However, the current situation is that those meetings are not held, and if there is not that connection between the board and the shareholders, accountability can be avoided. Accountability can also be avoided by not publicizing meetings, or by not making sure that there is enough time in advance so that people can attend the meetings. Therefore, barriers can be created, similar to what I would call “non-tariff barriers”. When we are trying to sell products in another country, we cannot do so, because the non-tariff barriers or rules are so bad. It is the same with shareholders.
When we talk about shareholders, we are talking about ourselves. They are people who have invested their pensions or earnings. They buy those shares and the company gives them that equity in it, but if they cannot have any direct control whatsoever in terms of voting, because the CEO does not have the proper rules in place or has not been following them for up to three years. Then it becomes a problem. Therefore, the bill would require an annual meeting, which we are very supportive of.
Also, there is the structure of the old boys' club that was there regarding the election of directors as individuals. They used to run slates in the old boys' club, so to speak, making it more difficult for some other individuals who were trying to advance because the old boys' club was grouped against them. We would call that bullying today, but the reality is that we had a number of people who could not get through because the fix was in, so to speak, and the slate was developed. Now, with individual votes for those board members, at least there will be an individual case to made for each person.
I think that is the right way to do it, because, for example, some slates carried baggage where one could basically say, “I like three of the four, and I can live with them”. They would come out with a number of different things, as opposed to giving the right and basically saying that a single selection should be the way to go. I think that is going to be a good advancement.
On the issue of comply or explain, I noted that different countries have done different things. However, comply or explain is a way to bring the numbers up, and the current 18% or less share of women on boards is obviously not reflective of our society. With women making up over 50% of the population, but occupying less than 18% of board positions, it is an obvious problem that has to be fixed.
In surveys we have found that when comply or explain was used in the past in other countries and there have not been improvements in these numbers as a result, they have argued that not enough qualified people applied. That is the ceiling that is created. It is hard to challenge that, because we cannot have access to the confidential documents and information about who applied, who got left behind, and a number of different personal things that are very complicated, and so the target does not move at all. That is one of the reasons Chancellor Merkel in Germany moved legislation on this and now has a target of 30%.
Germany was simply fed up and said that for CEOs and blue-chip corporations the rate would be 30% and that they would have some time to bring that in. The time was shortened because they would need some time to comply or explain. For German not-for-profit boards and others, the rate is going to be 50%. There is a difference between 30% and 50%.
I was not privy to the debate and have not looked at what has taken place in the German legislation, but I am sure it will come out in testimony. Not-for-profit boards are found in hospitals, public institutions, and so forth. On those boards, of course, the rate should be 50% because taxpayers pay for those boards, and with 50% of our population being women they are directly paying 50%. We know that to be a fact. They need to have the same representation. In fact, they deserve to have the same representation. It is an absolute shame if they do not. This can be easily corrected. If women are supposed to be equal, then they deserve an equal voice in running those boards. We New Democrats are arguing for at least a review of this.
This goes back to what we are proposing in terms of an amendment, so that people at the very least are made aware of this. There might be others who do more on comply or explain. There could be a better amendment, and New Democrats are open to that. However, we are not going to give a blank cheque to this piece of legislation. There is no way we are going to let this legislation go through without fighting tooth and nail to the end, without adding accountability to change the current situation. We will not let that happen. We have not come this far on so many other measures, and we still have much further to go, that we would basically put up our hands on the bill and say good luck, we will leave it to the other guys, and we will see everyone later. We are not going to do that. We have done that enough. I have seen that happen too often here in the chamber, most recently with another bill that looked at gender parity with respect to electoral reform, and it was turned down in the House. Sadly, it was another lost opportunity.
This cannot be another lost opportunity. This cannot go back in the record books for another 40 years without any action taking place. That is why I am particularly interested in the German case. Germany has gone through it and has changed.
We do know that the provinces have moved on this as well, and it will be interesting to hear the testimony at committee. They have moved on comply or explain and a few other things. We will be getting some of the results from them as well. I will be interested in hearing what is going on out there in committee. That will also give us a better sense of things.
Maybe we are wrong in the sense that corporations and not-for-profits will act quickly on this. I worked in a not-for-profit industry for a number of years and was successful in bringing in this model. Not-for-profits will comply and move toward that. This is our opportunity to bring it to Parliament and to Canada as a whole. We can find out if those who are laggards have a problem with it and how they are going to fix the problem. That is what we are going to see with this legislation. Hopefully we will see amendments that would make this happen, because we are just not going to leave it alone.
Another missed opportunity with respect to this issue is corporate CEO compensation. We are calling for more shareholders and investors to have a say on CEO pay. We are interested in looking at executive compensation as it is a part of the package. We have seen in Canada and around the world CEOs getting big bonuses while companies tank, and fire their workers left, right, and centre at the same time. We have to look no further than the CEOs at our banks. Their compensation was increasing at a time when banks were having some problems and we had to backstop some of them. The banks had record profits and their CEOs received increased compensation. During the last financial crisis, the average increase in their compensation was about 19%.
How is it that so many Canadians and so many small businesses are going through this problem that we have had. The challenges and the insecurity and the services they are supposed to get are challenged; government, which is funding this, is going into massive debt; and CEOs get almost 20%. Those banks have some of the highest credit card costs not only in Canada but across the world. When it comes to credit card service fees, just talk to small merchants. Look at what is happening in Australia. Australia has a 0.5% cap and it is reviewing this and lowering it because banks are still making lots of money. It is bad for small business.
Here our small business people struggle when they go to the banks to get loans, and if they can get them, they are at high interest rates. Or public institutions like the BDC, or credit unions, have stepped in on riskier loans. What do the banks do in response? They fire more workers, close more branches, and they increase service fees. They do all of those things and the Conservatives set up what is basically a voluntary system for credit cards. It is like playing hockey and getting a penalty for cross-checking someone, but it is a voluntary penalty and if players want to go in the penalty box they can time themselves out if they want to. If they do not, that is okay, play on, play on.
Meanwhile CEOs are making 20% profit. This sends a message that bad behaviour is rewarded. What person does that? We do not do that in our home life. We do not reward bad behaviour, and if we do, it will probably not lead to a good solution in the end. No one does that kind of stuff and that is what we have done with CEO compensation.
Look at Target, for example. It came in and took over a Canadian company, Zellers, which was making a profit. That is key. Zellers was making a profit. It also had a unionized workforce and a wage just over the minimum. It had some benefits and it was making a profit. It was a company that was fulfilling its mandate for people, being a place to work, a place with benefits, a place that respected Canadian laws, but Target came in and what did it do? It ended up going bankrupt and shutting Zellers down, and the CEO of Target, Gregg Steinhafel, received a severance package of $61 million, just $10 million shy of the total severance package for the entire Target workforce. Great, that is capitalism at its best. That is a wonderful example of the Canadian dream being fulfilled.
I recently reviewed the Investment Canada Act, which has had so many changes made to it by previous Liberal and Conservative governments, it is in shambles with regard to this type of behaviour. There was nothing wrong with forcing Target to have some type of mandate or guarantees when it came into this country, so that we could preserve these workers' jobs and stop a bunch of black holes in shopping malls in communities across this country just because of corporate greed.
At the end of the day, with $61 million I am sure that the former CEO is not in our country. The people with the compensation are here and wondering what to do. Guess what we do as taxpayers? We have to fill in the pensions, the employment insurance, and we have make sure that employees get retrained or find other jobs. So CEO compensation is significant and it goes on. The CEO with the highest pay, but worst stock return, is Donald Lindsay. His compensation right now is $9.6 million and there is no remorse on his part. Encana Corporation compensation is $10.8 million. Scott Saxberg of Crescent Point Energy Corporation gets $8.8 million in compensation, despite the company's shareholder falling by 34.5%.
All of these things are taking place that detract from what could be in the bill and what could be greater accountability for Canadians. When we review the bill, let us make sure we crack open the elements that are necessary for full accountability. The big difference and why Canadians need to care more than ever before is that many Canadians are now investing in their own funds for their future. They go online and make purchases and that is why we need to make sure they have their rights protected.
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