Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, let me say, as I probably rise for the last time in this Parliament, how honoured I am to represent the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, how much I have learned from my colleagues here, but also how invigorated I am by the greatness of this country and my commitment to work hard for the people I represent.
As I join this debate today, I feel compelled to make a few observations. To be clear, Canada did not ask to be put in this position. However, as we know, the U.S. election resulted in a new administration, with a mandate, among other things, to renegotiate NAFTA. That is where all of this started.
I think we can all agree that this particular renegotiated agreement resulted in an outcome that is less than ideal, but of course, it could have been much worse. Many concessions were made, and we still have unresolved issues, such as the lack of a deal for Canadian softwood lumber, something that is critically important to my riding.
Ultimately, it is not a secret that the official opposition will be supporting this deal. Unlike the third party, we do believe it is better than no deal. However, that does not mean that there are not some lessons to be learned here.
To me, it is deeply troubling that the Prime Minister went into these negotiations with his usual theme of demanding things that are all about building his brand and appealing to his base of supporters. In other words, the Prime Minister thought he saw an opportunity to score some political points and feed the brand. This is not unlike what he tried to do when he approached China.
In both cases, he failed miserably. Why would he not fail miserably? Would we as Canadians accept another leader trying to push his or her own values onto us? We simply would not accept that. What nation would? However, that is precisely what the Prime Minister attempted to to. Some may call this arrogance. Whatever we call it, it was easily foreseeable that it was a path to failure.
However, the Prime Minister did not care and went about his virtue-signalling anyway, so we ended up on the sidelines: Canada, a world leader, on the sidelines. There we were, on the sidelines with our biggest trading partner, while Mexico was in the driver's seat, getting the deal done.
Here is the thing. Mexico did get it done. Let us look at its approach. Mexico did not use the trade negotiations as some sort of domestic political opportunity to score points. Mexico did not use this as an opportunity for virtue-signalling. Mexico did not have a lead minister giving a speech within the United States of America that took veiled potshots at the U.S. administration. Mexico discussed issues related to trade and did so professionally. It is easy to see why that approach worked so well for it.
Our approach, led by the Prime Minister, was a complete failure. It did not have to be that way. I can tell colleagues that, on this side of the House, we would have taken a much different approach. I am actually quite confident that there are members on the government side of the House, whom I have worked with at various committees, who I suspect would have also taken a much different approach. I believe it is important to reflect on these things so that we can learn from them.
Canada should never again be in a situation where we are sitting on the sidelines with our greatest trading partner, while Mexico is driving the bus. I hope that is one thing we can all agree on. Perhaps that is why we are now hearing the name of Mark Carney, because there are other Liberals who feel the same way.
Now we have a new deal. Whether it is called the new NAFTA, NAFTA 0.5, USMCA, CUSMA, or whatever, there is something we should all think about. Recently, Jack Mintz wrote a very good piece on investment fleeing Canada. Members who have read the article would know that it debunks some Liberal talking points that had been carefully cherry-picked.
As an example, yes, investment in Canada was up in 2018. However, that sounds good until we consider that it was up from 2017, and 2017 was an absolute disaster of a year. Even in 2018, it was still below where things were in 2015. Yes, I mean that 2015.
Yes, investment in the U.S.A. is down, but that is outside investment. There is a large increase in U.S. domestic capital now staying in the United States. This means it is not coming to Canada.
Why should we care about that? Let us look at our automotive sector. Yes, there is still some investment in Canada, but there is considerably more occurring in the United States and Mexico. Mexico, in particular, has been a hot spot for automotive investment. Let us think about that. Mexico has no carbon tax. It has no new and enhanced CPP causing premiums and payroll taxes to increase every month. Much of its industrial power is cheap, and I would even say it is dirty.
CUSMA does more to address some of those issues than the NAFTA deal it replaces, but we also have to recognize that foreign investment in Canada is not the rose garden the Liberals are trying to suggest it is. This is a deal among three countries. If we become the most expensive, most regulated and most inefficient country to do business in, we lose collectively as a country.
The Prime Minister can continue to be virtuous. He can continue to ask people to pay just a little bit more. He can continue to lecture others for not sharing his values. However, at the end of the day, none of those things are going to attract the investment we need to make the most of this deal.
While we are on the subject of trade, I note that last week, during question period in this place, the Prime Minister vilified former prime minister Harper close to a dozen times. As the Liberals' good friend Warren Kinsella recently pointed out, the Prime Minister is looking “for an enemy to demonize”.
I mention that because the former Conservative government of Mr. Harper concluded more free trade agreements than any prime minister in the modern era. It is not as if the Liberals, or the Prime Minister, would be unaware of this, because they sat in this place during the last Parliament and voted in support of all those new trade agreements, yet the Prime Minister turns around and vilifies the former prime minister, who has a demonstrably more successful record on trade agreements.
However, perhaps that is preferable to talking about the lack of progress on Canadian softwood. I looked up on the Open Parliament website how many times the Prime Minister has even mentioned the word “softwood”. The answer is 18 times since 2016. The vast majority of those times were only because he was answering questions on softwood lumber asked by the opposition.
How many times has he referenced Stephen Harper? It is 190 times, and it will probably be more than 200 after today's question period. With the Prime Minister's priorities so focused on vilifying Mr. Harper instead of focusing on softwood lumber, is it any wonder he has made zero progress on this file?
Why do I point this out? I point this out because lumber mills are closing all across British Columbia at an alarming rate. My riding has lost lumber mills. I know first-hand what that does to a small rural community. It is devastating. However, there is complete silence from the Prime Minister regarding softwood lumber unless he is asked about it by the opposition in this place. Why? Maybe it is because he is too busy vilifying Mr. Harper.
In my view, that is not acceptable. B.C. forest workers deserve better. They deserve to know that they have a prime minister in Ottawa working to reach a softwood lumber deal.
I sometimes wonder whether, if Mexico had a vibrant softwood lumber sector, we would now have a deal done by extension as well. It is clear that Mexico has a more effective track record in these negotiations than the brand-first approach of the Prime Minister.
To summarize, we did not ask to be in this situation, clearly. However, I believe the approach taken by the Prime Minister to try to use this as a political opportunity was deeply flawed and made a bad situation worse.
Again, as evidence of that, I say to look no further than the approach taken by Mexico and the success that it had while we sat on the sidelines.
I have raised this point with ministers of the Crown. They told us that the meetings between the United States and Mexico were simply on bilateral issues that had nothing to do with Canada. However, they came out with a trilateral agreement, and Canada had a take-it-or-leave-it moment.
Despite the many concessions that the Prime Minister has made on this file, we can still make the most of it, but only if we recognize that we need to be more competitive. We have a regulatory environment in which things can get done in Canada. Many people have raised alarm bells, particularly the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and not just about the lack of investment but also the ability to get things done.
The Leader of the Opposition today clearly asked the Prime Minister several times for the date for the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Prime Minister promised the Trans Mountain pipeline, one of the most important projects on the deck and one of the only ones on the deck, would go forward to help build the national interest, but the Prime Minister cannot give a date.
Originally, the Liberals said that it would be operating this calendar year. Again, I would submit that one need to look no further than the Trans Mountain pipeline as evidence as to where the challenges are. It has been four years, and still there is not a shovel in the ground. The fact that the Liberal government had to buy the project to save Kinder Morgan from the embarrassment of not being able to build it in a timely manner is all part of the problem. The fact that today even the government has serious challenges in trying to navigate the process to get it done is telling. Does anyone seriously believe that Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 will make it easier to invest in Canada?
The Prime Minister says that tankers can operate totally safely in one part of British Columbia and in other parts of Canada, but are so dangerous in another part of British Columbia that they must be banned. Does anyone seriously think that makes sense? In fact, a number of the senators in the other place have commented on the lack of scientific evidence on Bill C-48. The committee that studied it in depth recommended that the bill not proceed.
The approaches of the current government do not reconcile. These are the types of mixed messages that are just not helpful. However, I remain hopeful that we can become more competitive and that as we move forward, we can ultimately try to fully capitalize on this agreement despite the many concessions.
I would like to close on a more positive note, and I will add a few positive observations.
As we have established many times and in many areas, Canada and Canadians can compete and succeed against the very best in the world. As legislators, it is our job to ensure that they have a level playing field and unrestricted market access to do so. Therefore, I will vote in favour of this agreement as, ultimately, it will provide these opportunities.
However, I must say one more time that until we have full, unfettered free trade within Canada's borders, we are, as a country, not owning up to the promise of Confederation, and that falls on us. It falls upon the provinces that have not allowed Canada to become not just a political union but an economic one.
This will be my last speech in the 42nd Parliament, and I would like to share a few words on a personal note.
We all share the collective honour of being elected members of this place, and our families all share the sacrifice for the many times that we cannot be there for them. It is my hope that our families, particularly our young ones, understand that in this place our collective desire to build a better country starts and ends with them. I would like thank all families of parliamentarians for their understanding and support.
I would also like to share a word with other members of this place. It is so unfortunate that much of the work we do here is often summarized by many Canadians as what transpires in question period. Much of the most important work that we do collectively happens at committee.
On that note, I would like to sincerely thank the many members I have worked with on various committees. Everyone I have worked with shares the same commitment to help ensure that the federal government provides the best level of governance possible. We may disagree on programs, projects and approaches, but I have found that we share a commitment to making these programs work best for Canadians.
A final point I would like to make should not be lost by any of us. The former Conservative government introduced a program to provide supports for kids directly to their parents. At the time, the Liberal opposition mocked it, ridiculed it, and suggested that parents would simply blow the money they received on beer and popcorn, but when the Liberals formed their majority government in 2015, they did not kill that program. Liberals saw the merits of it and saw that it was working so they made improvements to it, and now it is working even more effectively. I wish to commend them yet again for that.
That is an example of two very different governments coming up with a program and finding ways to improve it to ensure that it helps support Canadian families.
Trade is similar. After all, we are a nation of traders. We need to have these things that make us collectively prosper, that allow us to build stronger ties and relationships and provide the security and the sense of certainty that it takes for someone to start a business or for a country to get behind a new program. These are great examples of the work that we do when we are here on behalf of Canadians.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the time you spend in the chair. I am sure there are many different ways you would rather spend your time than listening to me, but I do appreciate the work you do and I am sure my constituents do as well. I look forward to the challenges in the upcoming months and in the questions and comments I will hear from my fellow colleagues.
View Yvonne Jones Profile
Lib. (NL)
View Yvonne Jones Profile
2019-06-13 13:15 [p.29050]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House and speak in support of the third reading of Bill C-88. This bill would amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. These changes have been long awaited by governments, both indigenous and territorial, in the Northwest Territories.
On Monday, we heard colleagues in the House speak to this bill, including the member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, who worked very closely with indigenous governments, treaty and land claim owners and the Government of the Northwest Territories to ensure that this bill would be in the best interests of the constituents he represents and would meet the standards they have been requesting from the Government of Canada.
I want to applaud the member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories for the great work he has done on Bill C-88 and for ensuring that members in this House on both sides fully understand this bill and the need for the changes being proposed.
Bill C-88 is based on a simple but wise idea, which is that the best way to regulate development along the Mackenzie Valley and in Arctic waters is to balance the interests of industry, the rights of indigenous governments and organizations, and environmental protection. The proposed legislation before us aims to achieve this balance in three ways.
First would be by foster certainty, which is required by industry. As we know, the Northwest Territories is no stranger to industry. It has been home to some of the largest mining developments in Canada and to some substantial energy, oil and gas developments. It is a region of our country that has been very active in engaging with industry.
Second would be by reinstating a mechanism to recognize the rights of indigenous communities to meaningfully influence development decisions. This would allow indigenous communities to have full input, full insight and full decision-making in industry and resource developments that are occurring within their land claim areas. This would allow them to be part of development, to look at the impacts and benefits of development initiatives, and to be true partners in decisions and outcomes.
Third would be by ensuring that scientific evidence on the state of the environment would inform development decisions. The indigenous governments of the Northwest Territories have set up a model that allows them to look at individual projects and their impact on the environment, not just today but for generations to come, and to make decisions based on scientific information. Scientific evidence ensures that decisions are informed, not just from an economic perspective but from an environmental perspective.
As it stands today, the regulatory regime fails to strike this balance. In particular, the regime currently in place fails to provide clarity, predictability for proponents who are investing, and respect for the rights of indigenous communities in that region and in the north. In large part, that is because of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which was endorsed by this House in 2015, and which I, too, voted for. However, it was subsequently challenged by a court order, which led the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to effectively suspend key provisions of the act. This ruling caused uncertainty in the regulatory regime for the Mackenzie Valley, and as many of my colleagues have already stated, that uncertainty has not been good for business.
I voted for the bill in 2015, even though it contained clauses that would eradicate the treaty rights of indigenous people in the Northwest Territories. We knew it was wrong. We fought hard to change the bill. We proposed amendment after amendment, but the Harper government would have none of it. It accepted no amendments to the bill that would ensure the rights of indigenous people.
We were left to make a choice. Do we support the devolution of the Northwest Territories, which needed to happen and was long overdue, or do we not support it because of these clauses? We supported the bill but said that when we formed government, we would reverse the negative legislation in the bill that eradicated the rights of indigenous people and did not uphold the environmental and economic responsibilities that should be upheld in any major development. We made a commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories that when we formed government, we would change the legislation to reflect what they wanted. That is what we are doing today.
Over the last couple of years, we have worked very closely with indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories, its member of Parliament and the Government of the Northwest Territories to get this legislation right and change the injustices caused by the Harper government and imposed on people in the Northwest Territories. Today we are removing them.
We would be allowing companies that want to invest in the Northwest Territories through major resource development projects to have certainty. This would ensure that there would be no unforseen impacts for them and would ensure that they would know the climate in which they are investing and the process expected of them.
We would allow indigenous governments, which have had land claims, treaty rights and self-government agreements for many decades, to take back control of their own lands and to make decisions in the best interests of their people for generations to come, and to do so in a systematic and scientific way that looks at all the impacts and benefits. This would allow these indigenous governments to not only have a choice about whether a project went forward but to have the opportunity to partner with investors and resource development companies. Everyone can benefit when they work together.
That is the kind of relationship we have promoted right across Canada with indigenous groups, territorial and provincial governments, investors, resource development agencies and others.
Today we would legislate the changes we committed to in 2015 regarding the Northwest Territories. We know that the legislation would achieve the balance we are trying to establish in three ways. I have already outlined them in my speech.
I want to take a few minutes to talk about how Bill C-88 would restore certainty in the regulatory regime, which was a key aspect of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act. The act eliminated regional boards mandated to review proposed development projects that were likely to impact the traditional lands of three particular indigenous groups: the Tlicho, the Gwich’in and the Sahtu. Their rights were eradicated, and the impact on their lands and treaty agreements forced on them, by the Harper government.
Today we would be giving the Tlicho, the Gwich’in and the Sahtu the right to make decisions about their own lands. They could look at the impact on their traditional lands, their way of life and their environmental footprint and at how their people can benefit from development projects.
It is just common sense, so why would any government want to take that away from indigenous groups in Canada? We saw only a few years ago that the former Harper government had no shame when removing rights from indigenous groups and indigenous governments. That is exactly what it did to the Tlicho, the Gwich'in and the Sahtu in the Northwest Territories. They had spent years working and negotiating with the federal government and territorial government. Generations of elders never lived to see the day they reached self-government agreements in their own lands.
When they finally did, it was an opportunity for them. That opportunity was eroded by the Harper government overnight with one piece of legislation that said that it would now tell them how they were going to regulate resource development in their traditional lands and in the Northwest Territories.
We made a commitment then that if we ever formed government, we would reverse those changes, and that is exactly what we are doing today. Each of those communities concluded comprehensive land claim agreements. Doing so in this country guaranteed them a role on land and water boards and a mandate to review and make decisions on development projects on or near traditional lands. Parliament reviewed and endorsed each one of these agreements and authorized the establishment of the regional boards.
Bill C-88 proposes to reverse the board restructuring and reintroduce the other provisions that were suspended by the Supreme Court decision. These indigenous groups in the Northwest Territories knew that their rights were violated by the Harper government. They knew that what was happening was the epitome of colonization. That is why they fought in the courts. They went to the Supreme Court to argue their case, to say that they had negotiated these rights, that they were inherent rights, that they had treaty agreements and that no government should have the right to impose upon them the way the former government did.
The Supreme Court decision outlined several things that needed to happen to restore confidence in the regime, particularly among indigenous people and proponents and investors in resource development in the Northwest Territories.
The proposed legislation would build confidence in another way. It would clarify the processes and expectations for all parties involved in the regulatory regime. I happen to live in the north, and I represent a riding that is very engaged in resource development, the mining industry and the energy sector in particular. I also know that with every one of those development projects, there are major investments and major commitments. There is nothing better in moving forward on a project than knowing what all the expectations are of all the parties involved and knowing what the process is and what is expected of companies before they put a shovel in the ground. Those things are important.
The party opposite will say that Liberals are too engaged in regulating, restricting and putting too many demands around the environmental component. However, large-scale industries that care about the people where they want to develop want to do what is right. They want to ensure that their environmental footprint is as small as it can be. They want to have the support of the indigenous people and the communities in which they are investing. They want to have strong partnerships to ensure that their development projects are not interrupted by protests or by unforeseen regulations and can move forward and are sustainable. That is why many of these companies, and many I have known personally over the years, are happy to sign impact benefit agreements.
These companies are happy to work with indigenous governments to hire indigenous workers, to ensure that benefits accrue to their communities and to ensure that environmental concerns that indigenous and non-indigenous people have with development in their areas are going to be listened to and dealt with. These companies want to address those issues up front. They do not want to plow into communities and put pressure on them to do things. They do not want to rule what is going to happen. They want to operate in partnership, too.
It is the party opposite that has the idea that these companies are not interested because they have to follow regulatory regimes or look at what the environmental implications are. Very few companies would take that approach, and I am so proud that in this country there are companies investing heavily in resource development that really care about the footprint they leave behind for the environment and the people who live there. Those are the companies that are successful and that Canadians hold up as examples of how resource development partnerships work with communities and indigenous people in Canada. We should be very proud of that. We should not be trying to change how we do that through legislation and impose regulations on people because we think they should do it this way or that way.
People should understand that in the previous legislation by the Harper government, Conservatives wanted to get rid of the regulatory boards of the Gwich'in, the Sahtu and the other groups in the Northwest Territories. They wanted one megaboard to deal with all these issues. They even hired a consultant by the name of McCrank. When Mr. McCrank testified at committee, I sat in that day. One of the questions asked of him was where he came up with the idea that we should get rid of the regulatory boards in the Northwest Territories, that indigenous groups should no longer have control over what is happening on their own lands, their own regulatory boards or negotiating their own deals, and that we would infringe upon them and implement a super regulatory board in the Northwest Territories for the Mackenzie Valley.
When he was asked where that idea came from, he did not know. He did not know where that idea came from or who suggested it to him, but he wrote it in a report as a strong recommendation, and the Harper government at the time said it would run with it, yet everyone in the Northwest Territories, including the three aboriginal groups and the territorial government, knew this was not the right approach and wanted to stop it. This is what is happening today.
We are restoring confidence to the people in the Northwest Territories. Under this act, we would also make changes to the petroleum regulatory board. A moratorium would be implemented that would allow the reissuing of licences for oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories. This moratorium would be revisited every five years. As we know, there were no new applications for licences, no investment was being made. There was no projection for oil and gas, and there was no body to manage oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories to ensure there would be benefits to that region.
It is not like Atlantic Canada, which has oil and gas agreements that pay royalties to the provinces. There are agreements in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec. When the Northwest Territories asked the former government for that agreement, the answer was no. It did not want to pay royalties to the indigenous groups or the territorial government on oil and gas. We are working with them to get it right, and that is why this bill is important today.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2019-06-10 23:16 [p.28876]
Mr. Speaker, a couple of things are not lost on me this evening. First is the fact that the Raptors were down by three points with about six minutes left. That may have changed; I do not know. Maybe the page can provide an update on the latest score.
The other thing that is not lost on me is the fact that the government House leader just came down with the hammer again, effectively stopping debate on an issue that the members on this side of the House feel is important to speak about.
We heard the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo speak about this issue earlier tonight. The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa spoke about this. I have been in this House most of the time during this debate, and that was one of the best assessments of this piece of legislation and the consequential impact it would have on our natural resource sector. I mentioned earlier, when the hon. member was speaking, that it was almost like taking a knife to a gun fight with respect to some of the questions that were coming, not just because of the member's experience working in the Mackenzie Valley as a biologist and understanding these issues, but because the knowledge the member has of our natural resource sector is just incredible.
The hammer comes down once again, and it comes down because there are nine days left in this session of Parliament, assuming we are not recalled in the summer for some other circumstance, and the government has completely mismanaged the legislative agenda of the House. The Liberals had an opportunity to bring this legislation forward far in advance of where we are this evening at 11:17 p.m. on June 10. Now that their backs are up against the wall, not just on this piece of legislation but on other pieces of legislation, the hammer drops tonight. They will no longer be debating this issue, in spite of its importance.
It is not just this piece of legislation that is a problem. It is an incremental, systematic destruction of our natural resource sector through other pieces of legislation. I will remind members of them: Bill C-69, Bill C-48, Bill C-86 and Bill C-55. All of these pieces of legislation are intended to effectively handcuff our natural resource sector and bring Alberta and Saskatchewan and the western producers and manufacturers of oil and gas in this country not just to their knees, but begging on their knees for the government to do what it needs to do and not destroy this important sector of our economy.
This sector is important for many reasons: not just for the transfer payments that it has provided so that various regions of Canada can prosper from the success of our natural resource sector, but also because the social fabric of this country is largely based on the revenues that are created from our natural resource industry. Every single Canadian depends on what our natural resource sector can provide: proper health care, proper social safety systems and the ability to look after the most vulnerable in our society, including indigenous communities, which have prospered in the past as a result of Canada's success. That success is not just economic. It is our success from an environmental standpoint, to make sure we get our product out of our country in an environmentally sustainable manner. It is sad that we are at this point.
Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, consists of two parts. Part 1 amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act, which was initially passed under the Chrétien Liberals in 1998 and amended by the former Conservative government within Bill C-15, the Northwest Territories Devolution Act.
I will remind the House that a major component of Bill C-15 was the restructuring of the four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley into one. Following passage in 2014, the Tlicho government and the Sahtu Secretariat filed lawsuits against Canada, arguing that restructuring violated their land claim agreements.
In February 2015, the Northwest Territories Supreme Court issued an injunction preventing the board restructuring provisions from coming into force until a decision on the case was issued. The Liberals paused that legal battle shortly after forming government, and there is more to that.
More concerning about Bill C-88 is part 2, with respect to the Liberals five-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration.
Bill C-88, and particular part 2, is also quite concerning as is the five year moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort Sea. The bill would amend the Canada Petroleum Resource Act to allow the Governor in Council to issue orders, when in the national interest, to prohibit oil and gas activities and freeze the terms of existing licenses to prevent them from expiring during that moratorium.
Again, as I said earlier, this is a consistent and systemic pattern of the Liberal government to want to control almost every aspect of our natural resource sector through Governor in Council orders. That would place the decision-making powers effectively in the hands of the minister and in the hands of the executive branch of government through cabinet order.
Think about this as an investor looking to invest in Canada. One of the things investors look for the most is certainty. They want to know that if they are going to park their money in the type of investments within our natural resource sector, that it is going to provide a profit, not a bad word, especially for those who are investing. They need to know whether there is actual certainty in the process itself.
After having invested all this money to investigate the potential of investing in Canada, all of a sudden it goes to cabinet or the minister and the minister decides again, like the government House leader did tonight, to bring down that hammer on the investment, saying the government is not going to approve this for whatever reason, mostly based on ideology. If I am planning on investing multi-billions of dollars into the Canadian resource sector, why would I do that?
It is not just that uncertainty it has created, but we also have a government that has clearly indicated to the investment community in the natural resource sector its intent, through its ideology, of flipping the switch.
The Prime Minister effectively stated as much in his travels around the world. When he spoke in Paris and said that he would shut down the natural resource sector tomorrow if he could, did he think what he said would not travel back to Canada? That message was heard loud and clear not just in Canada, but in North America by those investors who were willing to look to Canada as a safe haven to invest and grow their businesses.
It is particularly troubling when the government says, as the Government House Leader did just 10 minutes ago, that it is going to shut down debate. It is important that voices in the House speak to that issue in particular. It is important that Canadians know what the incremental systemic plan is of the government to shut down our natural resource sector and effectively chase investment away.
Where is that investment going? Clearly, all of that money is going down to the United States. We saw that with Trans Mountain. The government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline. Where did that money go? It went back down to Houston to be reinvested into a more friendly environment for investment into natural resources. Arguably, the American economy is firing on all cylinders, being led by the natural resource sector. It is building pipelines like it has never built them before. It is building deep water ports like it has never built them before. All of this is to make sure it gets its products to global markets where the demand is great. That demand is going to continue, whether Canada and a Liberal government decide it is not going to participate in that or whether other competitors of Canada, like the United States, decide they are going to make sure they get their products to market. All of these incremental pieces of legislation that have come up, this one within the last nine days of Parliament, are intended and designed to shut down our natural resource sector.
Today, in an unprecedented move, premiers from six provinces signed a letter. I am not sure in the history of this country whether that has been done. There have been other issues of national importance where premiers have gathered together and discussed with the prime minister certain issues that were impacting them, but collectively, as a group, I am not certain whether that has been done. They sent a letter to the Prime Minister today, which is public. I want to read it into the record so that Canadians are clear on just how serious this issue is, not just on a regional level in Alberta and Saskatchewan, but now we are finding out with Manitoba regarding the hydro electric line that the government is getting in the way of, which is effectively a clean energy project. There is significant concern within the confederation, so much so that these six premiers wrote this letter today.
It states:
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing on behalf of the Governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Collectively, our five provinces and territory represent 59 per cent of the Canadian population and 63 per cent of Canada’s GDP. We are central to Canada’s economy and prosperity, and it is of the utmost importance that you consider our concerns with bills C-69 and C-48.
Canadians across the country are unified in their concern about the economic impacts of the legislation such as it was proposed by the House of Commons. In this form, the damage it would do to the economy, jobs and investment will echo from one coast to the other. Provincial and territorial jurisdiction must be respected. Provinces and territories have clear and sole jurisdiction over the development of their non-renewable natural resources, forestry resources, and the generation and production of electricity. Bill C-69 upsets the balance struck by the constitutional division of powers by ignoring the exclusive provincial powers over projects relating to these resources. The federal government must recognize the exclusive role provinces and territories have over the management of our non-renewable natural resource development or risk creating a Constitutional crisis.
Bill C-69, as originally drafted, would make it virtually impossible to develop critical infrastructure, depriving Canada of much needed investment. According to the C.D. Howe Institute, between 2017 and 2018, the planned investment value of major resource sector projects in Canada plunged by $100 billion....
That money is gone.
It continues:
[This is] an amount equivalent to 4.5 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product. To protect Canada’s economic future, we, collectively, cannot afford to overlook the uncertainty and risk to future investment created by Bill C-69.
I would argue, incrementally, Bill C-88 as well.
It further states:
Our five provinces and territory stand united and strongly urge the government to accept Bill C-69 as amended by the Senate, in order to minimize the damage to the Canadian economy. We would encourage the Government of Canada and all members of the House of Commons to accept the full slate of amendments to the bill.
The Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources heard 38 days of testimony from 277 witnesses including indigenous communities, industry, Premiers, and independent experts. Based on that comprehensive testimony, the committee recommended significant amendments to the bill, which were accepted by the Senate as a whole. We urge you to respect that process, the committee’s expertise, and the Senate’s vote.
If the Senate’s amendments are not respected, the bill should be rejected, as it will present insurmountable roadblocks for major infrastructure projects across the country and will further jeopardize jobs, growth and investor confidence.
Similarly, Bill C-48 [and again I would argue Bill C-88] threatens investor confidence, and the tanker moratorium discriminates against western Canadian crude products. We were very disappointed that the Senate did not accept the recommendation to the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications that the bill not be reported. We would urge the government to stop pressing for the passage of this bill which will have detrimental effects on national unity and for the Canadian economy as a whole.
Our governments are deeply concerned with the federal government’s disregard, so far, of the concerns raised by our provinces and territory related to these bills. As it stands, the federal government appears indifferent to the economic hardships faced by provinces and territories. Immediate action to refine or eliminate these bills is needed to avoid further alienating provinces and territories and their citizens and focus on uniting the country in support of Canada’s economic prosperity.
That was signed by six premiers and territorial leaders: the Hon. Doug Ford, the Hon. Blaine Higgs, the Hon. Brian Pallister, the Hon. Scott Moe, the Hon. Jason Kenney and the Hon. Bob McLeod, Premier of the Northwest Territories.
We need to focus on uniting the country in support of Canada's economic prosperity. That is what this is all about: making sure that Canada has economic prosperity in all sectors.
I know that the government is focused on new technologies, new innovation and green energy. We should all be focused on these things, but we have to take a parallel path. We cannot simply shut or blockade this path for the sake of moving down that path, a path that will require time, energy and significant investment if we are to move to a green economy, if we are to move to the sustainable development of the government's ideology.
Unlike what the Prime Minister says, we cannot flip the switch on our natural resource sector. We have to continue to support it, and we have to continue to support it not just in an environmentally sustainable way. I would argue that Canada has always done that. Canada is a world leader in innovation and technology as it relates to energy extraction in this country and around the world. We have that capability.
Why are we implementing legislation and putting the power into the hands of a government and cabinet whose ideology does not conform with what most of Canada would like to see? That is that we continue to extract and use our natural resource sector and stop buying and relying on energy from other countries. There are millions of barrels being purchased from our greatest competitor, the United States, and from countries with despotic regimes, such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
We have the ability in this country to do what we need to do to ensure economic prosperity for all, prosperity for Canadians across this country, from Newfoundland to British Columbia to northern Canada and to indigenous communities in between. We have that capability.
I said it earlier and will again echo the words of Premier Frank McKenna. It is time we had a truly national debate about whether we want to be a carbon-producing country. In doing that, only then will we determine the risk and the reward of that decision.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your time tonight, and if you would indulge me, could you tell me how the Raptors are doing? I got an update, but I would like another update.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2018-12-03 17:14 [p.24342]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope.
As always, I am honoured to represent the constituents of Saskatoon—Grasswood today in the House as we speak to Bill C-88.
As members may or may not know, I am a member of the indigenous and northern affairs committee, and on October 15 of this year, we undertook a study on northern infrastructure projects and strategies. At the meetings we have heard from federal government officials as well as from territorial and local government officials. We have also heard from indigenous groups and a variety of stakeholder groups. We have learned many interesting things, but the one common theme in all the testimony we have heard for months is that there is a real need for infrastructure in the north. People in the north do not need more rules. People in the north do not need more regulations, and people in the north do not need moratoriums. What they do need is infrastructure.
The members opposite will argue, and we have heard this all day, that Bill C-88 is a remake of a piece of Conservative legislation that received royal assent in 2014 and then faced a court challenge. Bill C-88 still incorporates many of the changes the Conservative legislation made with respect to new environmental enforcement powers and requiring project proponents to cover the cost of the review process. However, it did not carry the weight of a carbon tax, which the current government wants to bring to northern Canada.
The concern from industry, obviously, about the added carbon tax cost and all the new federal environmental red tape, combined with the lack of infrastructure, is that it already costs a lot more to develop a project in the north compared to any temperate location. With the new Liberal regulatory costs, the high business taxes, the carbon tax that is coming in and charging for the cost of the review process, we might as well take out an ad in Bloomberg News saying, “Canada's north is definitely closed for business.”
This is not an overreaction. Let me share some of the testimony from Brendan Marshall, vice-president of economic and northern affairs for the Mining Association of Canada. He said:
Currently, domestic legislative and regulatory processes with implications for project permitting and costs persist, while recent supply chain failures have damaged Canada's reputation as a reliable trade partner. Further, recent tax reform in the U.S. has significantly enhanced that jurisdiction's investment competitiveness over Canada's.
We certainly have echoed that for the past number of months. The tax changes made in the United States are eating corporate Canada. Mr. Marshall continued:
The impact of this uncertainty has been felt by Canada's mining industry, where investment has dropped more than 50%, or $68 billion, since 2014, amid a strong price rebound for many commodities over the last three years.
I will read a few more quotes from evidence at our committee meetings in the last month or two. The hon. Wally Schumann, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Minister of Infrastructure for the Government of the Northwest Territories, said in our meeting:
The Northwest Territories is home to many of the minerals that will fuel the global green economy, including cobalt, gold, lithium...and rare earth elements. Alongside our mineral resources, our territory has significant energy power potential. As we continue our shift to low-carbon alternatives, our hydro development has the potential to meet market needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions....
Despite our enormous economic potential and strong indigenous partners, the Northwest Territories is still hindered, in that we still require much of the basic infrastructure that already exists in southern jurisdictions. This includes roads to which many of our communities do not have access. In partnership with Canada, we need to continue to build territorial and community infrastructure to support healthy and prosperous communities and to lower the cost of living [that we are seeing today in northern Canada].
However, Bill C-88 would not provide any of that. Merven Gruben, the mayor of the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, said:
It's kind of déjà vu. In 2012, I was invited to come here and speak to a panel as well. I think it was just about the same people, or the same panel. We did such a good presentation in the fall of 2012, that in February 2013 our friend Mr. Flaherty—rest in peace—announced in the budget that we were going to get $199 million for our highway. That was the beginning of our Tuk-Inuvik highway. I don't know why we call it Tuk-Inuvik highway. I like to call it the highway to Tuk. It's just the finishing off of the Dempster Highway, the Diefenbaker highway. That's what it should be, the road to resources.
Anyway, we got this highway built, and unbelievably, this year we had 5,000 people come to Tuk—5,000 tourists. On a good year, we maybe get about 2,500....It's just a total game-changer.
Mr. Gruben went on to say:
We're proud people who like to work for a living. We're not used to getting social assistance and that kind of stuff. Now we're getting tourists coming up, but that's small change compared to when you work in oil and gas and you're used to that kind of living. Our people are used to that. We're not used to selling trinkets and T-shirts and that kind of stuff....We're sitting on trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. It's right under our feet, yet we're shipping diesel and gasoline from far away.
This just does not make any sense at all.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the more troubling aspects of the bill is, specifically, the proposed amendments to the CPRA, which will authorize the Governor in Council to issue an order when, in the national interest, prohibiting existing exploration licence and significant discovery licence holders from carrying out any oil and gas activities.
What company would invest its shareholders' money to develop an oil or gas deposit when there is a possibility that the government could come in at any time and shut it down? What exactly do we mean by the “national interest”? There is no explanation. Perhaps an example or two of what the Liberals mean by that would certainly clarify it.
The mandate letter of the sponsor of the bill reads in part:
As Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, your goal will be to implement national commitments and priorities that depend on strong relationships with other orders of government, creating good middle class jobs, growing the economy, and advocating for and achieving improved trade between provinces and territories. You will also work to address the needs and priorities of Northerners.
Bill C-88 certainly stifles the creation of good, middle-class jobs. It would not grow the economy at all. It certainly would not address the needs and priorities of northern Canadians. It is going to be very difficult for the residents of the north to attract resource development companies when they do not have the needed infrastructure, and the onerous tax burdens and regulatory hoops they have to jump through.
We have talked in committee about infrastructure in northern aboriginal communities. We have talked about transportation, energy and telecommunications. On transportation alone, due to the lack of efficient transportation systems, costly workarounds must be developed.
The government must know that it really cannot have it both ways. It cannot attract investment in Canada, in particular in the north, where its penchant for taxes and onerous rules and regulations live on. We have seen this time and again in the country. Now northern Canada is feeling the wrath of the Liberals.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2018-11-27 17:41 [p.24059]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague listed a number of accomplishments that the current government has achieved, but she did not list the great increase in the deficit and the increase in interest costs. At one point, she said that investor confidence is growing.
It certainly is not growing in my area. I can tell her of a number of small and medium-sized enterprises that are losing confidence. Not only are they unable to expand like they had hoped to do, they are laying off people. This is going on across the country.
The Bank of Canada actually confirms this because the new Canadian investments into the U.S. have gone up by two-thirds, by 66%, over the last three years. U.S. investment into Canada decreased by 52%.
I would like it if my colleague could give us some actual concrete evidence for her comments that investor confidence is growing, because that is not my experience.
View Eva Nassif Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Eva Nassif Profile
2018-11-27 17:42 [p.24059]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague opposite for his question. Yes, in fact, we do have a lot of debt but we have invested in economic growth and infrastructure and we have created over 600,000 jobs. I can assure my colleague opposite that a lot of jobs have been created in my riding of Vimy. We have also boosted investor confidence. Investor confidence has increased since we were elected. We are leading the G7. We are working hard to continue on this positive course.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2018-11-01 11:44 [p.23121]
Madam Speaker, today I will address the three inevitable stages of every Liberal tax increase.
First, there is the insult. Second, there is the tax increase itself. Third, there is the high-tax hypocrisy. I will give numerous examples of where this exact same cycle has played out every time the Liberals have targeted modest and middle-income Canadians with higher taxes.
Let us start with the issue of income tax. The Prime Minister started his campaign to raise taxes by calling people “too rich” and therefore claiming they needed to pay more. We did not find out until after the election who he was talking about. We thought he was talking about himself, a multi-millionaire who inherited a trust fund, or maybe the finance minister, whose family business was worth $1 billion.
It turned out he was not talking about those people. It turns out the people he thought were too rich and needed to pay more income tax were moms and dads who have kids in soccer and hockey, students who are spending money on textbooks and tuition, and passengers on public transit. They are the ones who saw their taxes go up. They paid more for kids' sports, because they lost the children's fitness tax credit. They paid more to ride public transit, because the transit tax credit was eliminated. Students paid more for the cost of their education, because they could no longer claim their expensive textbooks as an education expense and the education tax credit itself was eliminated.
Those were the people that the Prime Minister was talking about when he said that the rich needed to pay more. He said that if people could put their kids in hockey, they are rich and get to pay higher taxes. If people go to university or college, they are rich, too rich and should pay higher taxes as well. If people take the bus and do not take a limousine like the Prime Minister, they are rich, too, and therefore they should pay higher taxes as well.
All of this is a little rich coming from the recipient of a multi-million dollar trust fund account from his family. It is also rich coming from somebody who spent most of his life living in publicly funded mansions, and driving around in government-funded limousines. However, according to the Prime Minister that is beside the point. It is also a little rich to say that moms and dads have too much money when the Prime Minister forces those same moms and dads to pay higher taxes so that they can fund his $30,000 of free nanny services every year that he uses in his household, while Canadians have to pay for their own child care with their own money.
That is the final stage. He started with insulting moms and dads, calling them rich. Second, he raised their taxes, forcing them to pay more for transit, textbooks, kids' sports and more. Third, of course, is the hypocrisy where the Prime Minister ensures that he gets taxpayer-funded child care services that no one else in the country would receive as part of their employment package.
Again, we have insults, tax increases, then high-tax hypocrisy.
Now we move on to small businesses. Remember when the Prime Minister said, in the last election, that small businesses, according to him, are merely vehicles for rich people to avoid paying taxes. We know that he was referring to plumbers, pizza shop owners, landscapers, shopkeepers and other middle-class people who mortgage their houses to start businesses and employ people in our community. He said that those people are all just tax cheats, and they needed to pay vastly more in order to keep their businesses up and running.
He brought in new penalties. That was the insult. Then came the tax increase. The Prime Minister decided to penalize family businesses for sharing the earnings and work of their business with family members. He then brought in new penalties for small business owners who save for the future within their company. If people keep some money in their company for a rainy day, sick leave, maternity leave, retirement or for a future investment, they would be penalized for any interest earned on that money in the meantime.
The most recent iteration of that penalty is that a small business can lose its small business tax deduction if it has more than $50,000 in investment income within the company. It is a massive tax increase targeted again at the middle class. There is the second step in the cycle. The Prime Minister starts by insulting the small business owners, then he moves to raising their taxes.
Finally, the last stage is high-tax hypocrisy. Who was not taxed more under the Liberal plan? The Prime Minister was not, to start with. There were no new taxes for his multi-million dollar trust fund inherited from his grandfather's petroleum empire, and no new taxes on the speaking fees he collected from charities while he was a member of Parliament and ought to have been giving those speeches for free like other members of Parliament do. There were no new taxes on those speaking fees, which he earned by the way while having the third worst attendance record of any member of Parliament. He is skipping out on his publicly paid duties to be here in order to give paid speaking engagements that most members of Parliament do on their own time and without charge, and there are no new taxes on any of that.
There we have it again. The Prime Minister started with insulting small business people, then he moved to raising their taxes, then he engaged in high-tax hypocrisy by protecting his own interests from any new costs. He extends that hypocrisy to his finance minister, whose $1-billion family business saw no tax increase whatsoever under the proposed changes to small business tax rates. His company is big enough to be on the stock market, and all stock market trading companies were excluded from the tax increase altogether.
There we have it: insult the taxpayer, raise the taxes and then engage in high-tax hypocrisy to protect himself and all his friends. That is the three-step approach this Prime Minister takes to every single tax hike.
Now we see it one more time with the carbon tax. The Prime Minister starts off with the insult, which is to call people polluters. Be careful, the polluters are not who we think they are. In the eyes of this Prime Minister, the polluters are grandmothers trying to heat their homes in -40° weather, soccer moms trying to take their kids to soccer practice and single moms trying to take care of their kids or drive to work. Generally, suburban commuters, anybody who has to purchase gas to move themselves around or to heat their home is, in this Prime Minister's view, a polluter. There we start again with the insults by calling everyday suburban Canadians “polluters” in order to justify raising their taxes.
The second step in every Liberal tax increase is to raise the tax itself, and so the Prime Minister has increased taxes on gas, home heating and other basic energy people require in our modern way of life to survive. These costs will roll out throughout every aspect of human life. If we want to heat our homes, drive to work or buy products transported by truck, train or ship, we will pay for more for all those products. If someone is a small business person who has to heat or energize their factory, they will pay more for that tax as well.
We have the insult, then we have the tax increase, and the last step is the hypocrisy, the high-tax hypocrisy. Who is not going to pay this tax? Large industrial emitters, the big corporations with the smokestacks on the top of their factories. Those enterprises would be exempt from the Liberal carbon tax. Just this week, we learned that coal-fired plants would be exempt from the Liberal carbon tax. In New Brunswick, the Belledune coal-fired plant would be allowed to emit 800 tonnes of greenhouse gases for every gigawatt of electricity absolutely tax-free.
Now, the government admits those coal-fired plants will be in operation for at least another 12 years, and that is if we would believe its promise that one day after it is long out of office that it will be able to shut down those coal-fired plants over a decade from now. In the meantime and in between time, those factories would operate without any carbon tax.
The same is true for large cement plants and other large industrial emitters. They will be exempt from the tax increase.
It is all well and good to exempt those corporations that have powerful lobbyists that influence government, but we have asked why the Liberals have not provided the same exemption to small businesses, to families and to others. We still do not have an answer to that question. Of course, that is the high-tax hypocrisy. We have again the three steps of every single tax increase: insult, tax hike and then high-tax hypocrisy. Those are the three steps that we can count on the Liberal government engaging in every single time it wants more of Canadians' money.
What motivates this three-step approach to increase taxes? The answer is it is to fund out-of-control Liberal spending.
Spending has grown at 7% a year since the Liberals took office. That is about three times the combined rate of inflation and population growth, depending on the year. In other words, spending is vastly outpacing the need. Those 7% a year spending increases have to come from somewhere. The government has to source that revenue. It started to do so by borrowing. The government's deficit is three times what the Prime Minister promised. Instead of balancing the budget next year, as the Prime Minister promised while putting his hand on heart during the election campaign and saying it would be gone, now Finance Canada says the deficit will continue until the year 2045, under which plan, the debt will grow by nearly half a trillion dollars until then.
This is all happening in a time when the government's own documents admit it has been the beneficiary of enormous short-term good luck. In the government's annual report, which came out about two weeks ago, the government admits that its revenue is higher by about $20 billion because of factors outside of the government's control: record low interest rates, higher than usual oil prices, a booming U.S. economy, a stronger than normal world economy, a housing bubble, which is slowly coming to an end in Toronto and Vancouver, all of which generate more revenue for the government. In other words, good fortune has fallen out of the sky onto the government's lap. The Liberals admit that in their own financial documents.
If they have an out-of-control deficit that is three times the size they promised in times of good fortune, how big will the deficit become when the luck runs out? The Liberals have not answered that question. I have asked the finance minister, at times painfully, 14, 15, 16 times in one committee session, when the budget will be balanced. He utterly refuses to answer. The Liberals have not told us under what conditions would a government ever balance a budget.
It does not matter what one's economic philosophy is, everyone agrees that there should be some point in the business cycle when the budget is balanced. I believe we should ascribe to have a balanced budget all the time, but even if one is a Keynesian economist, one ought to believe that at least when the world economy is roaring and commodity prices are high and interest rates are low, at that point in an economic cycle, for God's sake, the government ought to have a surplus to squirrel away for when times turn bad. However, even under that Keynesian thinking, the government is not living up to the obligation to balance the budget when times are good.
What are the consequences of having these massive deficits? The answer is that, in the short run, we start to pay higher interest costs. The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that by the year 2023, our expenditure on debt interest will go from about $24 billion to $40 billion, a two-thirds increase in about half a decade. This means we will be spending more on debt interest than we currently spend on health care transfers. That means more money for bankers and less money for doctors and nurses. Canadians will pay taxes to get nothing in return except to pay off the wealthy and privileged bond holders and bankers that lent us the money and therefore own our future tax receipts.
When I ask residents of my riding what they want their tax dollars spent on, they say roads, hospitals and other essential services that allow them to live their lives. They never tell me that they want to spend it on enriching bankers and bond holders. That is exactly the consequence of government decisions to pile up new and unnecessary debt on the current generation and on generations yet unborn.
That is the immediate consequence of higher spending, but there is the medium-term consequence which of course is higher taxes. Those consequences are already starting to become known. Middle-class Canadians are already paying $800 more in income tax than they were when the Prime Minister took office.
As I said earlier, small businesses are paying higher taxes to support the government's spending habit with new penalties for saving within their companies or for sharing income and work with family members. Those tax increases are in addition to the new ones that take effect on January 1, that is, higher payroll taxes for workers and small businesses and of course the carbon tax itself. Deficits today mean higher taxes tomorrow. That is exactly what the government is delivering, both higher taxes and deficits at the same time.
That is the underlying motivation for the three-step Liberal process for raising taxes. We will see it again and it will not be long. Soon there will be another billing which the Liberals will actually give a name to. They call moms and grandmothers polluters. They call small business people tax cheats. They call people who put their children in sports or who take the bus wealthy. Then they proceed, after having demonized those patriotic Canadians, to raise their taxes.
The last step is always to look at the fine print and how much the Prime Minister will have to pay for this tax increase. Oh, he will pay nothing. How convenient. Of course, we could not possibly allow a multi-millionaire trust fund recipient to have to bear any extra burden at all. Life is already too tough living in a government-funded mansion with government-funded nanny services. He and his friends and those who have influence on him are always protected from the costs that they impose on middle-class Canadians.
I propose a different three-step plan: first, control spending; second, balance the budget; and third, lower taxes for all Canadians. That sounds like a three-step plan we can all get behind.
On that optimistic and exciting note, I move:
That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “the House decline to give second reading to Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions in the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018, and other measures, since the Bill fails to address the fact that deficits are three times what the Prime Minister promised, that the Department of Finance admits that the budget will not be balanced until 2045, and that the average income tax bill for middle-class families has increased by $800, not including new carbon taxes and payroll tax hikes.
View Bev Shipley Profile
View Bev Shipley Profile
2018-11-01 12:53 [p.23130]
Madam Speaker, the member's last statement was actually the most truthful. People will not believe the changes the Liberal government has made. In a time of a strong economy, with 3% growth, the Liberal government now has a $60-billion debt that has been added to a total debt of $675 billion, which Canadians will be required to pay interest on. That is incredible.
If jobs cannot be created in a strong economy, I suspect that Canadians will have to rely on members on this side of the House to bail them out when the crisis and deflation come.
I am wondering if you could tell me why U.S. investment in Canada has dropped 66% while Canadian investment in the United States has gone up 52%.
View Shaun Chen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Shaun Chen Profile
2018-11-01 12:55 [p.23131]
Madam Speaker, our government has worked incredibly hard to achieve the new USMCA agreement between Canada and the U.S. We are looking forward to continuing to build on the economic prosperity that comes from the trade and investment between Canada and our closest ally and friend, the United States.
The numbers speak for themselves. Since our government has taken office, 500,000 net new jobs have been created in this country. Canada has one of the strongest economies in the G7, and in fact, we have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio.
Our government has made smart investments in infrastructure and in building the middle class and those working hard to join it so that our economy can prosper and we can build a better Canada for everyone.
In this budget, we would go even further, through pay equity legislation, through equality, and through environmental sustainability so that Canadians continue to prosper on the road ahead.
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
View Deepak Obhrai Profile
2018-11-01 16:33 [p.23165]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak on the budget implementation act.
This morning my friend John reminded me that there were dark clouds in the Liberals' sunshine environment, as Liberals said during election time. However, there is one issue that really bothers me, and that was what happened yesterday when the Prime Minister talked to students. He told them that the opposition parties liked to shout at respectful Liberals.
I am profiled in the grade nine high school book in Alberta, talking about democracy. I go to schools and talk about our great democracy and how our country is run. I never run down anyone. We are all here equally in this chamber to talk about issues for all Canadians. This is the chamber where we have democracy, yet the Prime Minister went to a school and partisanly told students that the Liberals were respectful and the opposition was not respectful.
May I remind the Prime Minister, if I recall correctly, that he was a member of the opposition when he first entered the House. Now suddenly he thinks that side is respectful. Should he impart this knowledge to young students? Shame.
I am splitting my time with my great Irish friend from Durham, Mr. Speaker.
We are talking about the dark clouds since the Liberals became government. The last member who spoke talked about the veteran cuts. Cuts to veterans was brought forward by the Liberal government. My colleague was a former trade minister and he did all the legwork for the trade agreements that the Liberal government signed. The Liberals want to take credit for that.
It is interesting that the word “Harper” has become so common in the chamber. I hear more about Mr. Harper than when he was the prime minister. Every minute, the Liberals keep talking about Harper. They forget that they have been governing for three and a half years. It was interesting to hear the NDP member say that the Liberals were worse than Harper. Harper is a great word in the House.
However, talking about the Liberals' record, it is terrible. As I said during my leadership race, the deficit is in the blood of the Trudeaus. Whenever they come into power, we end up having strong deficits and a deficit balance. Our taxes and our debt keep rising. As I already pointed out, the Liberals increased the debt by $60 billion.
Where do things stand today under these dark clouds? Since the Liberals have come to power, the last member who spoke said the business environment was great. It is not great. The business environment today is what is causing serious concern for Canadians, a concern about jobs, the welfare of their children and health care. It is a serious concern. The disastrous handling of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the bill that would stop the pipelines being built under a regulatory regime will take investors away from our country.
We must remember that we share a very long border with the south. We share an integrated economy. If south of the border creates a business environment that is far more appealing to investors, then money flows there. It is not just money, but jobs flow south as well. That is where the danger is.
When we were in government, and my friend sitting next to me was the minister of state for finance, I checked with him, we introduced a regulatory process. We looked at how a regulatory process in our country would stifle competitiveness. To do that, we set out to find out how many regulator processes there were in our country.
Let me go back and give my own example with my son. He wanted to go into an agricultural business, and he is still going into it with my grandson. We tied in with farmers in my colleague's riding to export a product. We are still mired in regulatory reforms. It is not ease of business to do that. It has taken one and a half years and we are still in the process of trying to meet all the regulatory conditions that are laid out across the country.
The important point here is this. If we ask the government how many regulations there are, which it is supposed to know, it will not be able to answer the question. If it does not know that, how will it reduce the regulations? Even there, it cannot do this thing, yet the Liberals are saying that they have policies that are helping the business environment grow.
I come from Alberta and it is concerned about what the government is doing to the economy of Alberta. Irrespective of the fact that the Minister of Natural Resources is from Alberta, we do not see any kind of action coming from the government. It is a big concern.
Now the Liberals say that they are going to put in a carbon tax. Our carbon footprint is 1.6% of global pollution in the environment, yet we are the country putting a carbon tax burden on Canadians. Like everyone has pointed out to the government, it is a tax grab.
I read this morning that because the Liberals have announced they want to give money back to the people, people are saying that it will not impact them. Therefore, how are their habits going to change if they are going to get their money back? The carbon tax is a tax grab, as everyone says. We need to have an environment of the economy moving forward, which the government is failing to do. It seems to have priorities that do not address the main concerns of Canadians, which are jobs, health care and a future for our children.
These are good statements made by the government. However, as everyone has pointed out, when the government says “trust it” that is like the Nigerian prince saying, “Your cheque is in the mail”. More and more Canadians are saying that they do not trust the government.
We are concerned. There are dark clouds in the sunshine environment of the Liberal government.
View Dean Allison Profile
View Dean Allison Profile
2018-10-29 17:35 [p.22957]
Madam Speaker, I also want to extend my condolences, sympathies and utter outrage at what happened to the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. My heart goes out to those in Pittsburgh and to the greater Jewish community. It is absolutely reprehensible that anyone would come into a place of worship, a place so sacred, and do what happened. This was a very heinous crime. I just want them to know that they have our support here on this side of the House, as has been mentioned by all members in the House today.
I want to start by saying that the Conservatives will support Bill C-85, the modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement. This agreement was overwhelmingly negotiated by our former Conservative government. In October 2011, we began the consultation with Canadians. In January 2014, Prime Minister Harper and Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the launch of the CIFTA negotiations. In July 2015, Canada and Israel announced the successful conclusion of the revised agreement.
Amendments to the original deal included four updated chapters: dispute settlement, good market access, governance and rules of origin. The agreement also added seven new chapters: e-commerce, environment, intellectual property, labour, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and trade facilitation.
The modernized CIFTA breaks down many old barriers. It creates new export opportunities for Canadian agriculture and agri-food. It creates new opportunities for our fish and seafood companies in the Israeli market. As members can see, we are very proud to have been the main drivers of this agreement.
Israel is our closest partner in the region and also the only democracy in the region. Israel's economy is a very modern and advanced one. Our two countries enjoy an excellent commercial relationship. Since the original agreement came into force over 20 years ago, trade between our two countries has tripled, totalling $1.7 billion in 2017.
Israel's market has a lot of potential and offers many opportunities for our Canadian businesses. Israel is also placed in a very economically strategic region in the Middle East. With one of the best educated populations in the world, a solid industrial and scientific base, and abundant natural resources, specifically in the agricultural and agri-tech sectors, Israel makes for a great partner in trade.
It is also important to mention that this agreement will further strengthen Canada's support for Israel, which should be very important to all of us. As we bring Canada and Israel closer through this trade deal, we begin to see a very positive pattern for Conservatives when it comes to negotiating free trade deals, a pattern of Conservative-negotiated agreements.
Conservatives negotiated the original NAFTA, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, CETA with the Europeans, and now the modernization of CIFTA. The biggest free trade agreements were done under Conservative governments. We are very proud of that.
We are also very proud of the member for Abbotsford, who worked tirelessly to complete the negotiations on CIFTA, the TPP, and CETA. I have tremendous respect for him on a personal level, and of course, as the former international trade minister.
I have to say that although this agreement will likely pass without much delay, there is a greater concern Canadians have with the Liberal government when it comes to the economy. That concern is about competitiveness.
Canadians are worried that the Prime Minister and the Liberals are making our economy uncompetitive. While our neighbours to the south are cutting corporate taxes and getting rid of massive amounts of burdensome red tape, the Prime Minister keeps raising taxes and adding more red tape to everything he touches. He is raising taxes everywhere he can. He is putting in ridiculous regulations and massive roadblocks that serve to kill pipeline construction and many of its offshoot jobs.
This is no secret. In fact, he admits it every day in question period and every time he speaks around the country. He just sugar-coats it, smiles for the cameras, and relies on his pals in the media to sell it.
Let us take the carbon tax as an example. Last week, the Prime Minister announced that he will be forcing Canadians living in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and New Brunswick to pay his carbon tax. While he claims that he will return 90% of all the money he collects, Conservatives know that the Prime Minister and his Liberals are simply looking for more ways to sustain this massive debt and out-of-control deficits.
Unless large and developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, global emissions will not decrease. Let me repeat that one more time: Unless large and developing countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, global emissions will not decrease. The Prime Minister's carbon tax will not save the environment. It will only hurt Canada's economy, Canada's small businesses, and Canadian families.
Canadians are not fooled by the carbon tax. They know the Prime Minister's carbon tax is a tax plan dressed up like an emissions plan. Canadians see it for what it is, another tax or an election gimmick. Only the Liberals could argue that a new tax will mean money in our pockets while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
To make matters worse, the Prime Minister is personally withholding documents that show the true cost of the carbon tax, both for families and businesses. The reality is that the Prime Minister's carbon tax will make everything more expensive, from driving to work to feeding our families to filling our gas tanks. Canadians will see through this election gimmick, and we will hold the government and the Prime Minister to account for it.
I know the Liberals will keep on repeating the same old tired message they have been repeating, a message that asks for our plan. I would like to be very clear. The Liberals do not have an environment plan. They have a tax plan, an election gimmick. It is another tax. It is nothing more. However, they have no plan to lower emissions. We believe that it is more important to arrive at a plan that will actually reduce global emissions, and that takes time to carefully consider. I would also like to be very clear that we will be unveiling a detailed and comprehensive environmental plan before the next election.
On top of taxing Canadians more through the carbon tax, the Prime Minister and the Liberals are working against Canadian jobs in the oil and gas sector, making our economy even more uncompetitive.
The Liberals have no plan to get the Trans Mountain expansion built. Thousands of workers have already lost their jobs because of the Prime Minister's failure to get any pipelines built. Canadians have lost their jobs because of the Liberals' damaging anti-energy policies. This cannot continue. The Liberals' anti-energy policies have driven more than $100 billion of investment out of Canada in the last two years. Talk about being uncompetitive; this is totally unacceptable.
The Federal Court of Appeal gave the Liberals clear direction to address their failure to properly consult with indigenous communities on the Trans Mountain expansion. However, instead of following those directions, the Liberals announced that they will launch another process, with no timeline, that will only further delay construction.
Canadian families cannot wait until next year for a plan. For the workers and communities affected by the Prime Minister's failure, every day counts. Getting the Trans Mountain expansion built should be the Prime Minister's top priority. What exactly is going on? He spent nearly $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money on the existing pipeline and still cannot tell workers when construction will start, how much it will cost or when it will be completed. The pipeline is crucial for workers across Canada, including the 43 first nation communities that have benefit agreements worth over $400 million, which now hang in the balance.
It seems like the Prime Minister is doing everything he can to phase out our energy sector. We just have to look at Bill C-69. This Liberal bill would again fail Canadian workers and the Canadian resource sector, making us even more uncompetitive. It would kill future resource development, drive jobs and investment out of the country and do nothing to enhance environmental protection.
Before the current Prime Minister became the Prime Minister , there were three private companies willing to invest more than $30 billion to build three nation-building pipelines that would have created tens of thousands of jobs and generated billions in economic activity. The Prime Minister killed two of them and put the Trans Mountain expansion on life support. Bill C-69 would block all future pipelines.
When the Prime Minister says he wants to phase out the oil sands, Canadians should believe him. In the last two years, over $100 billion of investment in the energy sector has been cancelled by the Liberal government. Over 100,000 good-paying, high-quality jobs in the resource sector have been lost. Under the current Prime Minister, energy investment in Canada has seen its biggest decline in over 70 years. Now the Bank of Canada predicts no new energy investment in Canada until after 2019.
The current Liberal government seems incapable of doing anything but raising taxes, creating red tape, and getting in the way of the energy sector. Our country's competitiveness is at stake, and the Liberals do not seem to care.
Yes, walking completed Conservative free trade agreements across the finish line is a good thing. They seem to be doing that, and we appreciate it. Whether it is the TPP, CETA or the modernized CIFTA, the government seems to understand the value of the free trade agreements that we, the Conservatives, helped arrange and worked on. However, it is important to understand that unless the Liberals stop raising taxes and creating out-of-control regulatory burdens, we will not be able to produce anything to trade with anyone. There needs to be a shift in thinking on the part of this anti-energy government. We hope this shift will start soon.
Let us hope that the modernized CIFTA is the beginning of some pragmatic thinking for the Liberals. CIFTA was a great achievement when concluded by our former Conservative government, and it is still very much worthy of supporting now.
As great friends of Israel, my Conservative colleagues and I will be supporting this agreement when it comes to a vote later.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2018-06-13 17:02 [p.20847]
Madam Speaker, as I tuned in to listen to the Senate debate on the cannabis bill, Bill C-45, I was given a stark reminder of why so many Canadians have so little confidence in that unelected, unaccountable body. Certainly it is legitimately questionable whether an institution capable of producing such baseless fearmongering and ignorance has any legitimacy blocking legislation passed by an overwhelming majority in this democratically elected House of Commons.
Disturbingly, in the hours leading up to the final vote on Bill C-45, the Liberal government was forced to quietly swear in two new senators to ensure its passage, even though they were not present for one minute of testimony, one minute of debate, or one minute of review of the bill. However, they cast their vote in lockstep with the government. Some democracy. Some sober second thought.
After studying this legislation for over six months, it is not even clear that all 93 senators actually understood the most basic facts about cannabis, such as the most basic facts about cannabis quantity. While reviewing the act, Senator Nicole Eaton, a Conservative from Ontario, said this:
[F]ive grams is about four tokes. So, in other words, if I’m a high school student—I’m 16—I have four tokes in my pocket, which is under five grams. So you just don’t take it away from me, but I’m allowed to possess it, right?... I’m allowed to have less than five grams, or I’m allowed to have zero grams? This is what I don’t understand.
There is quite a bit the senator does not understand. For the record, five grams of cannabis is enough for some 10 joints. That is far more than four tokes.
Given this statement, l was rather surprised to learn that both Senator Eaton and Senator Frum were forced to abstain from votes on the cannabis bill because they stand to profit from legalization. Senator Eaton declared a conflict of interest over the bill “due to an impending investment in the cannabis industry.” However, until she recused herself, Senator Eaton was an active participant in debates and committee work on legalization, including voting against Bill C-45 at second reading.
For her part, Senator Frum has a property “that will be leased for the purposes of selling recreational cannabis”. After initially indicating her opposition to Bill C-45, she recused herself from debate, deliberation, and voting on the matter.
While it may seem like a contradiction to publicly oppose Bill C-45 while privately investing in cannabis, such behaviour has become disturbingly common in the lead-up to legalization. An emerging group of so-called cannabis capitalists, notably composed of the same police officers and government officials who have spent years prosecuting the war on drugs, has already begun staking its claim to the new recreational market.
Some prominent names include the following.
Kim Derry, who served as deputy chief when the current Liberal member for Scarborough Southwest, the Liberals' point man on cannabis, was Toronto police chief, is now the security adviser for THC Meds Ontario.
Former Ontario Liberal deputy premier, George Smitherman, who once served as the province's health minister, is tied to THC Meds Ontario as well.
Former Liberal prime minister John Turner is a board member for Muileboom Organics, Inc.
Chuck Rifici founded Tweed Marijuana Inc., the country's first licensed provider to go public, while he was chief financial officer of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Former police chief and Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino, who once compared cannabis to murder and voted in favour of harsh mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis as a member of the Harper cabinet, has now gone into the cannabis business himself with former RCMP deputy commissioner Raf Souccar.
It is a travesty of justice and a hypocrisy of the highest order that those who fought hardest for legalization may benefit the least from it, while those who spent a lifetime enforcing prohibition are now lining up to fill the boardrooms of the cannabis industry.
Those who put their liberty on the line as activists for legalization, and who, in the pursuit of their defence of cannabis, often took legal liability and got criminal records, not for any violent activity but in their drive to get sensible cannabis policy in this country, now carry the burden of a criminal record for their efforts. Not only have they been shut out, but the federal government has not even offered them a path to participate in the cannabis industry, or to obtain pardons. Are they now supposed to sit back in admiration of the moral flexibility and business acumen of their former detractors?
The inescapable truth is that Bill C-45 is principally about legalizing the cannabis industry, not the plant or its usage. This bill is not about legalization, but about making cannabis less illegal. If this legislation were truly about legalizing the cannabis plant, it would herald the end of criminalization, the end of stigmatization, and the end of the prohibitionist approach to cannabis policy that has been such a failure for almost 100 years. Instead, this legislation would create an incredibly complex criminal framework that legal experts and police chiefs predict will result in more, not fewer, cannabis offences post-legalization.
There have been many opportunities to change course as Bill C-45 worked its way through Parliament. I want to be clear. I do give the government credit for rejecting the most harmful amendments proposed by the Senate, and for accepting the NDP's proposals in a number of ways, including to legalize the sale of edibles and concentrates, albeit not for one year post-legalization. This is unjustified, but it is the best the Liberals would do. The government has also agreed to remove the misguided 100-centimetre plant height limit. Unfortunately, the Liberals have also rejected a number of key improvements to Bill C-45.
I would like to take a moment to focus on some of the Senate's key proposed amendments and the government's response to them.
First is home growing. Based on the advice of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, the federal government has proposed to allow the personal cultivation of cannabis for non-medical purposes, with a limit of four plants per household. However, after considering a proposal to ban home growing outright, the Senate chose to amend Bill C-45 to allow provincial governments to ban home growing themselves. Now, this is not a rational or evidence-based approach to cannabis policy. As the College of Family Physicians of Canada put it, “Banning home growing for personal use defeats the purpose of legalization, which is to reduce the harms of criminalization.”
New Democrats believe that, under legalization, the personal production of cannabis should be permitted, similar to the home production of alcohol, such as beer and wine. Personal production would play an essential role in eliminating the illicit cannabis market since it would ensure that individuals who want to consume cannabis can afford it and have access to it in regions without nearby retail storefronts. For many Canadians, particularly those in rural areas who would not be served well by the retail marketing of cannabis, this may be the only way to get access to cannabis.
I would point out that under the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling, medical cannabis users are allowed to grow their own cannabis. In some cases, they are growing eight plants, and they can obtain a licence from another person and grow for that person. Would it not be the height of folly if across Canada one house on a block could grow cannabis, because it is grown for medical reasons, but the house beside it could not, because it is for recreational purposes? That is the height of inequity and it would make a mockery of the law.
I would point out that the health and safety issues generally associated with home cultivation are overwhelmingly the result of large-scale, industrial, illicit growing operations that operate covertly in residential buildings due to prohibition. This can result in damage due to improper ventilation, and the illegal electrical hook-ups pose a fire risk. However, the personal cultivation of four plants would obviously not pose similar risks any more than growing four plants of any other species in the home. I daresay that most Canadians in an average household have more than four plants in their house. By contributing to the dismantling of the illicit market, home cultivation would actually serve to help eliminate those covert industrial growing operations.
Furthermore, I would point out that raw cannabis plants are non-psychoactive. According to University of British Columbia botany professor Jonathan Page, who testified at committee, if anybody, including a child, were to eat the raw bud of cannabis, that person would get the acidic form, which is non-psychoactive. The fresh material is not capable of getting one high. One needs to bake it, heat it, or smoke it in order to obtain that result.
The government chose to reject this amendment because it said, “t is critically important to permit personal cultivation in order to support the government’s objective of displacing the illegal market.” Canada's New Democrats agree.
On potency limits, the Senate also proposed an undefined potency limit for cannabis products. I think the Conservatives are supporting this. On this point, it is important to note that the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation rejected potency limits for a number of reasons. It believed that if prohibited these products would continue to be available on the illicit market. The task force also concluded that there was insufficient evidence even to identify what a safe potency limit would be. The task force emphasized the significant risks associated with the illicit production of high potency concentrate, and instead called on the government to regulate them within a legal market.
I would point out that illicit producers often use flammable solvents, such as butane, to extract cannabinoids from plants, an inherently dangerous process that can also leave carcinogenic residues on the end product. Product safety was also a concern as the extraction process may also concentrate contaminants, such as heavy metals and other impurities in addition to THC.
The government rejected this amendment because “the government has already committed to establishing THC limits in regulations, which will provide flexibility to make future adjustments based on new evidence and product innovation.” While we support the decision to reject this amendment, Canada's New Democrats believe that the government should heed the advice of the task force in this area.
On branding, the Senate proposed deleting a provision of Bill C-45 that currently would allow a person to promote cannabis, a cannabis accessories or a service related to cannabis by displaying a brand element on the thing, provided that it would not be associated with young persons, appealing to young persons, or associated with a way of life that would include glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk, or daring.
The government rejected the Senate's amendment because “the Cannabis Act already includes comprehensive restrictions on promotion.” Again, Canada's New Democrats agree.
Branding restrictions on cannabis in Bill C-45 are there now. Indeed, they are already more stringent than those applied to alcohol. I do not need to remind any of the members of the House of the tragedy that occurred just a few months ago. A young Quebec girl died after consuming a high alcohol volume drink and ended up drowning in a river. If we look at that product, it is definitely marketed to young people, even to children, and there are no similar restrictions on alcohol. The House should look at closing that in the future.
With respect to parental sharing in the home, just as is currently the case with alcohol, the Senate proposed to allow parents to share cannabis with a younger family member of at least 17 years of age in the home. Canada's New Democrats believe this was a sensible proposal and the government was ill-advised to reject this amendment.
We currently allow this approach for alcohol because we understand that parents can be trusted to model responsible behaviour to their children and to make positive choices for their family's well-being. In fact, the New Democrats believe parental education will be a key component of low-risk use of cannabis and should not be criminalized. After the bill becomes law, parents will be able to legally consume cannabis in the house, and if they want to pass a joint to their 17-year-old and discuss responsible use of cannabis, the bill would make that a crime. We do not think that is sensible.
The government has also rejected the Senate's parallel proposal to ensure that sharing among individuals close in age within two years would not be criminalized, and that a cannabis offence carrying a sentence of less than six months would not be used in deportation proceedings for someone without citizenship status.
The government justified its rejection by saying, “the criminal penalties and the immigration consequences aim to prevent young people from accessing cannabis and to deter criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for prohibited activities...”.
If criminalization and the threat of imprisonment or deportation prevented people from using cannabis, then Canadians would not be consuming an estimated 655 metric tonnes of it per year and we would not have the second highest rate of cannabis use among youth between 16 and 24 in the world, and that is when we have full criminalization and life sentences for trafficking.
Contrasting that, a single bottle of liquor is enough to kill a child, and yet I know of no 14-year prison sentence arising from the distribution of beer or liquor. However, a parent who shares a joint with his or her son or daughter who is 17 would be a criminal under this legislation. An adult who possesses 31 grams of cannabis in public would be a criminal. A youth who possesses more than 5 grams of cannabis would be a criminal. An 18-year-old who passes a joint to a 17-year-old friend would be a criminal. An adult who grows five cannabis plants would be a criminal.
This kind of continued criminalization is inconsistent with a rational and evidence-based criminal justice policy and will only serve to reduce the positive impacts of the bill. The prohibitionist approach has been repeatedly discredited by its failure throughout history.
For far too long, we have wasted billions of dollars in resources in the criminal justice system by criminalizing otherwise law-abiding citizens at an alarming rate for simply possessing and consuming cannabis. In fact, we are today. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, the most recent year of available data, there were about 55,000 offences related to cannabis reported to police and police charged 17,733 people with pot possession.
A recent Vice News investigation found that black and indigenous men and women have been overrepresented in cannabis possession arrests across Canada just in the year since the Liberals formed government, and yet Bill C-45 would preserve the criminalized approach to cannabis, along with the damaging paternalism of the war on drugs.
I want to be clear that from the very beginning Canada's New Democrats have worked hard to reach across the aisle with constructive proposals to improve the bill. These changes included the following: providing pardons to Canadians saddled with a criminal record for offences that will no longer be offences under Bill C-45. This amendment was ruled outside the scope of Bill C-45. However, given the Prime Minister's previous statements, it is shocking that the Liberal government would structure a so-called cannabis legalization bill in such a way that pardons could not be included through amendment.
We proposed empowering provincial governments to create parallel production licensing regimes in order to give provinces the flexibility to implement legalization in the manner best suited to their jurisdiction. For example, this would have allowed provinces to let craft growers, small scale producers, and outdoor growers compete against the federally licensed corporate giants.
As said earlier, we proposed the legalization of edibles and concentrates, which are among the safest ways to consume cannabis and are the growing part of the market. This would allow Canadians and entrepreneur of businesses across the country to provide safe, regulated products to customers instead of allowing this to be provided underground.
We proposed decriminalizing the penalties section in line with the Tobacco Act. We proposed that the legalization should take a regulatory approach with significant fines for offences rather than criminal ones.
One of the purposes of Bill C-45, as laid out in section 7, is to “reduce the burden on the criminal justice system in relation to cannabis.” Penalties in the bill should be consistent with that stated intent.
I am disappointed that the government chose to reject these vital proposals, but I am heartened that the bill at least contains a mandatory review of Bill C-45's operation in the next Parliament. I view this as a tacit admission by the government that it knows the bill contains problematic sections that will need to be fixed.
To be clear, Canada's New Democrats will support this motion and this legislation because we have fought for an end to prohibition ever since the 1971 LeDain Commission. The bill before us today is an important step forward but it is far from perfect.
After the last election, Canadians rightfully expected that the Liberals would produce a timely and fair cannabis law. As it now stands, the federal government has left the heavy-lifting of legalization to the provincial, territorial, municipal, and indigenous governments. The bill will lead to the emergence of a patchwork approach to legalization that will shut out the most long-standing cannabis activists, the folks who have spent decades honing their craft and providing world-leading medicinal cannabis to patients across Canada.
Some provinces have chosen to impose a government retail monopoly, some have chosen to shut out existing compassion clubs, and some provinces are pushing to ban home growing outright. This is disappointing. It is a lost opportunity. It is a betrayal of the clear promise that the Liberals made to Canadians in 2015.
Done properly, an appropriate legal approach to cannabis can achieve impressive benefits economically, technologically, and medicinally. The New Democrats will continue to work to provide the best cannabis legislation in the world for Canadians.
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2018-06-13 17:22 [p.20850]
Madam Speaker, the member began his remarks by making some very disparaging remarks and named a number of individuals, suggesting somehow they had done something improper.
I know the member and I know he would never knowingly disparage an innocent Canadian. I know he believes, as I do, that parliamentary privilege is not a licence to slander innocent Canadians. I want to advise him that of the five people he mentioned as having some kind of privileged access to the cannabis business through Health Canada, four of those individuals were denied their licence applications and were not successful. They are no longer, in any way, associated with the licensed cannabis industry. The one who actually was approved, was approved by the previous government, when the Conservatives were in power.
I want to give the member opposite an opportunity to apologize to those individuals who he unjustly disparaged.
View Don Davies Profile
View Don Davies Profile
2018-06-13 17:23 [p.20851]
Madam Speaker, that comment reveals a sensitivity that is far in excess of what I actually said. I will not apologize to the House for pointing out hypocrisy.
When a former Conservative cabinet minister compared cannabis to murder and was part of the police process to actively prosecute Canadians for cannabis and is now rushing to profit from the industry, when former Prime Minister John Turner, who as prime minister of the country, could have brought in cannabis legislation, or decriminalization if he wanted to, and chose instead to perpetuate a criminal approach to cannabis and is now seeking to profit from it, it is rightful to point out that kind of hypocrisy, and Canadians deserve to know.
At the same time, all those Canadians who have been working under this prohibitionist criminal regime, who have fought and put their liberty at risk, who have sometimes achieved criminal records and now, under this legislation, may not even be able to participate in the legalized market, I find that hypocritical. I find that unjust.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to say that I will be splitting my time with my colleague and hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.
Before I give the formal part of my speech, I would like to start by discussing an element that was brought up by the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, who had spoken about a number of members of the Senate and others as well as the Right Hon. John Turner as to their potential financial interest in legalizing marijuana.
I understand this is an issue of privilege, that members can say what pleases them in this House. However, I found it particularly unparliamentary that the member would raise the record of someone who has served this country with distinction and with honour in talking about the Right Hon. John Turner who was Prime Minister of Canada, and among the positions he occupied he also was the minister of finance and the minister of justice. He is a man of some advanced age, I believe. I would like to wish him a happy birthday; he turned 89 quite recently. I know it on good authority that he has zero interest in the legalization of marijuana or any pecuniary derivative thereof.
I will not presume bad faith on the side of the hon. member, and I hope that when he gets a chance to retract those words he does so because we are in fact talking about a person who served this country honourably, regardless of party lines. I do hope the member takes the chance to retract those comments.
I am pleased to rise in the House today to respond to an amendment adopted by the Senate with regard to Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other acts.
I commend the Senate for the valuable work that it did as part of its in-depth study of Bill C-45. However, I believe that some of the amendments the Senate adopted do not fully support the political objectives of the bill. They may also have unintended consequences.
Take for example, clause 5.2, a new clause that would provide for the following:
For greater certainty, this Act does not affect the operation of any provision of provincial legislation that is more restrictive with respect to, or prohibits, the cultivation, propagation or harvesting of cannabis in a dwelling-house.
Bill C-45 would allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants per residence. Cannabis grown in a dwelling-house could not, under any circumstances, be sold to others, and anyone who grows more than four plants could be criminally charged.
The justification for the proposal to allow Canadians to grow up to four cannabis plants per household is twofold. First, this proposal would help displace the illegal cannabis market. Second, it would help prevent the unnecessary criminalization of otherwise law-abiding Canadians who safely and responsibly grow a small number of cannabis plants at home for personal use.
Home cultivation would also create a legal source of cannabis for people who do not have easy access to it through a provincial or territorial store or an online platform, particularly those who live in remote regions.
The proposal to allow people to grow a limited quantity of cannabis for personal use is similar to the current provisions regarding tobacco and alcohol. Canadians can legally grow their own tobacco or brew their own beer at home for personal use.
We can also trust Canadians to properly store cannabis, just as they safely store their prescription drugs at home in a responsible manner.
I would also like to point out that in the national cannabis survey, one of the questions the government asked was where people currently get their cannabis and where they thought they might be able to access it in the future. Of all the respondents who use cannabis, only 2% had thought of cultivating it for personal use.
The home cultivation our government is proposing is based on the opinion of the task force on cannabis legalization and regulation, and is in line with the frameworks adopted by most of the American states that have chosen to legalize and regulate cannabis for non-medical purposes, particularly Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada and Alaska.
Those states allow home cultivation and have limits regarding the number of plants that can be grown, ranging from four to 12 plants per household. It is important to remember that Bill C-45 was designed to allow the provinces and territories to oversee the distribution and sale of cannabis within their borders and to add additional restrictions regarding certain aspects that are not proposed in the federal cannabis legislation, such as personal cultivation, if they wish.
That flexibility is there so they can adapt their laws in response to local realities and priorities in a way that is compatible with the public health and public safety goals in the proposed cannabis legislation.
The Government of Canada believes that the provinces and territories are in the best position to determine whether they need such restrictions and to establish tougher regulations. Most of the provinces do allow home cultivation of four plants as set out in Bill C-45. However, some provinces have already chosen to include restrictions in their legislation. For example, New Brunswick requires cannabis cultivated outdoors to be surrounded by a locked enclosure. Indoor cultivation must take place in a separate, locked space. Alberta would allow indoor cultivation only, and Nova Scotia has indicated that it would allow landlords to prohibit cannabis cultivation and smoking in rental units.
If someone decided to challenge a provision of a provincial cannabis law, a court would review the provincial system in its entirety, along with the federal cannabis law. It would then be up to the court to determine whether there was a conflict or whether the objectives of the federal legislation had been frustrated.
Over the past two years, our government has carried out extensive consultations and studies to support this bill. In this way, we have developed the best possible measures for protecting all Canadians, especially young Canadians.
Bill C-45 is largely based on the recommendations of the task force I mentioned earlier, which were formulated based on the opinions and expertise gathered through the extensive consultations. The bill reflects and balances the broad array of opinions from the provinces and territories, municipalities, communities, indigenous governments, and a wide range of experts and stakeholders.
The provincial and territorial governments developed their own legislation based on this insightful framework, and their investments and preparations for the establishment of retail systems are well under way.
Bill C-45 proposes to allow adults to grow up to four cannabis plants at home. It is essential to allow home cultivation in order to support the government's objective of displacing the illegal market.
The government is proposing a national approach to home cultivation designed to allow this activity to be achieved in a way that takes into account the valuable comments received from countless stakeholders. Although the framework for legalization includes some flexibility for setting certain restrictions on home cultivation, we are of the opinion that this amendment is inconsistent with that approach.
However, as we know, the bill contains a provision to review the cannabis act. Under that provision, three years after the coming into force, the minister will have to ensure that the act and its application are reviewed. Our government is proposing to amend that provision in order to specify that the review in question will include a review of the impacts of the cultivation of cannabis plants in a dwelling-house. Our government is committed to carefully examining the findings of such a review.
Based on the evidence currently before us, we are fully convinced that home cultivation can be done in such a way that is compatible with the health and public safety objectives of the bill. It constitutes a reasonable way to allow adults to grow cannabis for personal use, and that approach squares with the opinion of the task force and the approach adopted by most of the American states that have legalized and regulated cannabis.
For those reasons, I will not be supporting this amendment.
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