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Results: 1 - 14 of 14
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am sincerely grateful to my colleague from Bow River for his speech and his contributions to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, particularly in the case of this study. Unlike me, he has a direct connection to these people and their reality. He has often spoken on behalf of communities affected by this bill.
I second what he said about the importance of this bill. I share his disappointment in the Liberals' grand consultation, which was supposed to take care of everything and happened a lot faster than expected.
For years, our wonderful Liberal government sat back and did nothing. Now, all of a sudden, right before the election, the government thinks it is time to take meaningful action. Does my colleague not find that despicable? The government says everything is as it should be and wants us all to support the bill.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise. I really want to say what a privilege it was to work with my colleague during the committee's study of this bill.
As the member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, I came to Ottawa with certain beliefs and goals with respect to various issues. I discovered just how dysfunctional the relationship with indigenous peoples is. Major changes are needed.
I noticed how irritated my colleague was that the government again chose a regrettably paternalistic approach in the lead-up to passing a consequential bill, not to mention the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action. Parliamentarians must look to the wisdom and experience of this leader and her community, for they are intimately familiar with the reality of these people. That is why I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on this.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing his point of view, although it reflects a bit of an alternate reality. It is possible to see things from another perspective.
I would remind members that for Quebeckers who need social housing, it was Paul Martin's Liberal government that decreed that every Canadian had a right to suitable housing and decided to take action in that direction. The situation has only deteriorated since then. When it comes to funding for social housing, it has been nothing but a downward spiral.
According to FRAPRU, the right to housing is the cornerstone to ensuring that a number of other rights are respected. It can help meet many other needs, which is consistent with my colleague's vision regarding housing first. However, that is not the reality. At the Longueuil municipal housing bureau, the wait list for social housing is not counted in weeks or months, but rather in years. No joke.
We hear the Liberals crow about their royal benevolence on every possible issue and towards all of their subjects in Canada.
Did the parliamentary secretary or the Minister of Families bother to meet with the people who walked for four weeks with their backpacks, sleeping in school gymnasiums every night, to reach Parliament Hill? Do they not think that perhaps they should have met with those people?
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I apologize.
How many times have we decried the fact that the public was kept in the dark about these negotiations? I had to learn, because I am not an expert. The purpose of debate is to learn and move forward. We are in Parliament.
How is it that in the United States the two main parties are represented in the negotiations? This helps us better understand the complicated issues surrounding this agreement.
How come you never allowed anyone outside your sacrosanct government to be there?
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, whom I hold in great esteem.
However, as critic for culture and heritage, I have to say that, if you are hearing what people are saying in your consultations, then you are not really understanding them.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
My question is, will you at least extend the consultation period? That is what everyone wants.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on her speech, which she delivered with her usual sincerity. It is right to treat these issues with the dignity they deserve.
However, I heard my colleague suggest that in committee, we should try to seek more control over what will or will not disclosed, so as not to leave it to the discretion of the departments and agencies.
I heard the question from the government member, but I would ask the following question. Even if we can agree that there will be some openness to amendments, what happened with the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as it was preparing its last report, which was tabled in June, shows that the government is fully capable of rejecting useful amendments and reports out of hand and choosing to stick to the PMO's agenda.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, today we have an adjournment debate on a question posed about four months ago, on November 21, 2016. The question was the following:
Mr. Speaker, although the Minister of Canadian Heritage is free to make major changes to the rules governing our distinct culture, she has the responsibility to be open and transparent about what she is calling her “public consultations”. In the interest of transparency, when will the minister make public the briefs submitted as part of these consultations? One thing is certain; they contain important information. Can our ecosystem count on the minister to do what everyone thinks is the right thing and ask foreign companies such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix to pay their fair share?
This is the answer I received four months ago:
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his important question. I would like to remind him that we are indeed holding an open and transparent consultation process and that we are going to make public the briefs submitted by the various stakeholders.
That was done. Thank you and congratulations.
I thank the member. I know that he specifically asked me to make this information public. Of course, I agree with him. This is a good example of co-operation.
I agree that there was a lot of consultation, but the question was about the consensus emerging from every sector in the minister's portfolio that the playing field is not level. Foreign providers do not collect sales tax. Their revenues may not be taxed either.
Yesterday, four months later, I asked her the following question:
Mr. Speaker, last week, the closure of the HMV stores led to the bankruptcy of the distributor DEP, which has put an abrupt stop to the marketing of Quebec artists. From Vincent Vallières to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Florence K, DEP's bankruptcy seems to be the latest sign of the collapse of Quebec's recording industry and a new source of worry about Canadian content. Canada must move swiftly to regulate all the new online providers, whether they are based in Montreal, Los Angeles, or some other tax haven. Can the minister tell us what she has done to ensure that these new players contribute to our ecosystem and to the same tax system as everyone else?
I will read her response:
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his important question and his interest in this file. Of course, we launched public consultations last year to consider all the repercussions that digital services have on the entire Canadian cultural ecosystem. In 2017, I will have the opportunity to introduce some major changes in order to address some of the issues that were raised by my colleague.
I have been asking this question for four months. Some might say I sound like a broken record. Well, yes, that is because it is obvious to everyone. Everyone knows full well that we must ensure that our merchants, our retailers, and our service providers have access to a tax system that is consistent and equal, or at least equal to that of foreign providers.
Of course, when we are in this situation we scratch our head and say it cannot be so. This is a serious problem. Retailers think that online competition makes no sense because they can sell the same product tax free, no GST and no HST. They are right. The same is true for all our cultural providers.
The only thing that is tax exempt is culture from abroad. It is rather pathetic. The question is simple:
Has the Minister of Canadian Heritage asked the Minister of Finance to resolve this situation and ensure that transactional taxes are applied to foreign suppliers?
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his ad lib and frank answer. He says that we cannot rush them in this situation.
In the past four months, HMV and DEP declared bankruptcy, which affects the arts community. I would like to cite another striking example.
Experts on sales taxes, the people who collect taxes, for example the excise tax, were called to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. I use the iTunes app and so I asked them why some songs and apps were subject to the GST and QST in the Apple Store, while others were not. There is no tax on the monthly subscription. They told me that the app that was taxed was probably a Canadian app.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, although the Minister of Canadian Heritage is free to make major changes to the rules governing our distinct culture, she has the responsibility to be open and transparent about what she is calling her “public consultations”.
In the interest of transparency, when will the minister make public the briefs submitted as part of these consultations? One thing is certain; they contain important information.
Can our ecosystem count on the minister to do what everyone thinks is the right thing and ask foreign companies such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix to pay their fair share?
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage is starting to feel the heat. Last month, I reminded her that she still had some appointments to announce at the CRTC and CBC without further delay.
As CBC reported on the weekend, there is a backlog, CRTC hearings are being delayed, and creators are justifiably concerned. As we know, the minister is busy holding private consultations by invitation only. However, I would remind the House that this is an immediate and serious crisis.
Why go without such expertise?
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have a feeling that more people than usual will be listening to this afternoon's debate. We are talking about something that affects a lot of people. Obviously, this is about consumers.
It is deplorable that, clearly, the Conservatives' natural inclination is to say that this is terrible, because it has to do with a constitutional right. This kind of American-style rhetoric is from another era.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have a government with a severe case of “consultitis”. Everything takes forever; nothing happens quickly.
Can the member name one single thing, one point he would like to resolve with the provinces, even if this motion is adopted?
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, for International Women's Day my team organized a consultation in order to identify women who are role models in our society and should be depicted on our bank notes. I am pleased to inform the House that the outstanding women activists Thérèse Casgrain and Madeleine Parent were the most popular choices. I would like to thank everyone who participated.
However, I must say that many exceptional women have recently left Longueuil—Saint-Hubert. I was sad to learn this very day of the death of Marcelle Robidoux, who managed, with love and authority, Maison de jeunes, located on King-George Street in Longueuil. However, the youth in that area will still be in good hands because her daughters will continue the tradition of generosity established by their mother and their grandmother, Antoinette Robidoux.
Marcelle Robidoux left us to join another great lady on Montreal's south shore, another tireless model of social action and dedication, Gisèle Auprix-St-Germain. Longueuil—Saint-Hubert has lost two inspiring women at the start of this year, women who pioneered social causes in our area. We must remember their kindness and dedication, so that they continue to show the way for a long time to future generations of volunteers.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-4. Of course it goes without saying that I will be supporting this bill at second reading.
We spent the last 10 years under constant attack from the previous Conservative government with respect to workers' rights. Obviously I will be talking about Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, which were introduced in the previous Parliament. I will come back to them later in my speech.
There have been flagrant examples in recent years. It was almost an obsession. I am talking about the Conservative Party's attitude towards the workers at Canada Post and the CBC, just to name a couple. I think some people, especially on this side over here, often forget the many benefits brought about by unionization.
For example, a unionized worker earns on average five dollars more an hour than a non-unionized worker. Among women, that gap is even wider at $6.65 an hour. This translates into greater purchasing power and more money going back into the economy. Basically, it is good for everyone. This is not rocket science. I would also remind the House that we do not hear stories about tax havens when it comes to these kinds of wages and workers.
The purpose of Bill C-4 is to repair the damage from the Conservatives' attacks against workers. First, it prevents legal challenges. According to our analysis and that of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Bill C-377 went against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The courts would no doubt have annulled that bill because it violated the right to the freedom of association and violated the privacy of those who work for a union.
I find it rather insulting that the previous government decided to introduce a bill that it knew was easily revocable by a court. Why do that? Was it out of ideology, or flagrant disregard for workers and our institutions, including our courts? Maybe it was a cheap fundraising stunt on the backs of its supporters. We know that the Conservatives have a penchant for that type of thing. Unfortunately, we will never know, but fortunately we are here to undo the previous government's dirty tricks.
The Conservatives may have claimed that they introduced the bill in the hallowed name of transparency, but what they failed to say is that unions were already required to report their financial information to their members. That is a rather important detail that we do not often hear the Conservatives talk about.
Bill C-377 imposed detailed and costly reports and requirements on the unions. The Conservatives pushed the bill through, despite general opposition from the public, including constitutional law experts, the NHL Players Association, the provinces, Conservative and Liberal senators, which takes some doing, privacy experts, the Canadian Bar Association, and so on. We are not the only ones who are pleased to see Bill C-4 before the House and to see it pass quickly.
According to the parliamentary budget officer's estimates, implementing Bill C-377 would have cost much more than the $2.4 million that the Conservatives planned to give the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA would have spent almost $21 million in the first two years to create the electronic database required and approximately $2.1 million annually to maintain the system. I have not even touched on all the hours that the unions would spend to meet these requirements, which would be added to their workload, instead of protecting workers' rights.
Therefore, the repeal of Bill C-377 will save millions of dollars for both the government and the unions. I would like to quote the national president of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents NDP employees:
UCFW is pleased to see the government tabling Bill C-4. Our union campaigned vigorously against the Conservative Government's Bill C-377 in the last parliament. The bill was undemocratic, and part of the Conservative government's campaign against workers and workplace democracy. It was also a major invasion of the privacy of individual union members and it infringed on provincial jurisdiction over labour issues. Repealing Bill C-377 is positive for all Canadians as this bill would have been expensive for the government to implement and monitor.
That is what I wanted to say about one-half of Bill C-4. As for Bill C-525 , it sought to make it harder for workers to organize, while making it easier to decertify unions. What struck me about the bill at the time was that it was completely unfounded.
The government made changes to the labour laws without even proving that the old union accreditation method was a problem. I will summarize the facts.
About 10% of workers currently fall under federal jurisdiction. They are represented by a number of unions, such as public service unions, Unifor, and trade and construction unions. Before, a union was automatically accredited when more than 50% of workers signed a card indicating that they wanted to unionize. When 35% to 50% of workers signed a membership card, an election was triggered to determine whether the workers truly wanted to unionize. Bill C-525 wanted to change the threshold for triggering an election for accreditation from 35% to 40%. Furthermore, it would have also banned the automatic card check certification system.
This is yet more evidence of the previous government's disdain for workers' rights. This backwards attitude ignores the fact that, for example, the wage increases negotiated by the union inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the Canadian economy every week.
I want to get back to what I was saying earlier. One of the advantages of unionization is that it injects more money into the economy. When people earn higher wages, they consume more. We are talking about regular people, not Bay Street CEOs, who earn astronomical salaries and then send that money to some faraway island.
I applaud this bill from my colleagues opposite, who made a good decision to start their term by repealing these two harmful bills. That is a good sign. However, we must remain cautious, because this is only a sign. In recent years, my colleagues opposite waxed on and on about standing up for the middle class, but I must say that their definition of the middle class, which they are using for the tax cuts they promised during the campaign, is flawed. The threshold they use is rather arbitrary.
I would now like to talk about this dangerous new bug that everyone in the current Liberal government seems to have contracted, and that is “consultitis”. That is all well and good, and I understand that some issues require a lot of discussion and consultation with experts. However, there are also some issues that have obvious answers. The government could save time on those rather than getting caught up in this constant consultation. That is what I mean by “consultitis”.
The government needs to protect the middle class by taking meaningful action, not by spouting rhetoric and launching public consultations left and right. We have heard enough about consultation since this government took office. Talk is all well and good, but it does not put food on people's tables.
I therefore urge the Liberals to do more, to take more meaningful action. The benefits of doing so are tangible and easily verifiable, so let us get started.
The NDP will continue to exert pressure on the government to reinstate the federal minimum wage and vote in favour of the anti-scab bill introduced by my colleague from Jonquière. It is a common sense initiative, as is pay equity, obviously.
I find it very frustrating that problems like the ones I mentioned, which were identified decades ago, are still wreaking such havoc. Canada is a progressive country, which is obvious from our general attitude on thorny issues such as physician-assisted dying. However, I find that we sometimes drag our feet for no apparent reason. Everyone here recognizes that women and men are equals, but that belief is not reflected in our economy, where we see wage disparities that make no sense.
In closing, I realize that there are a lot of messes to clean up. After a decade under the Conservative dinosaurs, there is a lot of work to be done. That decade put us on guard. The NDP will certainly not be giving the Liberals a blank cheque, since everyone knows that they have a tendency to signal left during the election and then turn right once they take office.
Unequal distribution of wealth is not just theoretical. It is a very real problem that is beyond comprehension in a country as wealthy as Canada. Decent working conditions and decent pay are good for everyone. We all know the harmful and devastating effects of poverty. I am proud to belong to a political party that understands these issues and refuses to compromise when it comes to implementing effective measures to truly eradicate poverty and poor working conditions, which have no place in a country like Canada.
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