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Results: 1 - 15 of 2174
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2019-06-19 14:30 [p.29386]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can take great comfort in knowing that a real plan for the environment is coming at five o'clock. What it will not include is special deals for Liberal insiders.
Under the Prime Minister, well-connected friends of the Prime Minister have done very well. He rewards his well-connected billionaire friends with taxpayer handouts, like $12 million to Loblaws. He interfered in a criminal court case to help his corporate friends at SNC. He targeted entrepreneurs and small business owners while protecting his vast family fortune.
Why do the well-connected Liberals and the wealthy always get a better deal under Liberals?
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-06-13 16:51 [p.29082]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent for highlighting many of the issues we have with Bill C-58, and a lot of the failings of the government when it comes to transparency.
My colleague joined us recently on the operations committee, beating out 98 other Conservatives who were desperate to join me on that committee. Before he joined us, the committee put together a report on whistleblowers. Canada has some of the weakest whistleblower protections for public servants in the OECD.
The committee put together a unanimous report on how we could better protect public servants. We heard story after story, very similar to that of Vice-Admiral Norman, of public servants who came forward and had their lives destroyed by the government for daring to expose corruption and negligence, almost identical to Vice-Admiral Norman's story.
We put together a unanimous report, submitted it to the government. The then Treasury Board president, Scott Brison, took the report, promptly threw it in the garbage and did nothing. Later, we summoned him to the committee and he refused to return to the committee to report on why he was doing nothing to protect whistleblowers.
We have seen the Liberal government time and again refuse to be transparent. Are these the actions of a government that is trying to be open and transparent?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2019-06-13 16:53 [p.29082]
Mr. Speaker, I have been on the OGGO, the government operations and estimates committee, with the member for the last year. I have learned a lot from his experiences.
I would remind the House that he was the one who highlighted the fact that in the last budget, the government did not calculate correctly. That was not a big surprise for us. The Liberals were elected by talking about a zero deficit in 2019. The reality is exactly the reverse of that. There is a huge deficit of nearly $20 billion.
The member raised a very serious issue. Civil servants should have the protection necessary to blow the whistle when things are not going well, as far as they are concerned. Those are the first witnesses. Civil servants are the first witnesses to how things could go wrong and how we could fix it. For that, they should have all the protection necessary.
Hopefully, those civil servants will have all the protection they need and also will not have to suffer attacks from other people, especially those driven by a political agenda, as happened, unfortunately, to one of the bravest soldiers we have in the Canadian Army, Vice-Admiral Norman. He had to suffer for the last two years because of the Liberal government.
View Joël Godin Profile
View Joël Godin Profile
2019-06-07 11:23 [p.28749]
Madam Speaker, how can the government be happy about making Canadian taxpayers poorer?
On average, hard-working Canadians have $800 less in their pockets, and the Liberals are happy about it. Millions of Canadians are still not earning enough to pay their bills and debts. Worse still, the government has mortgaged our children's and grandchildren's future by leaving them a deficit in excess of $80 billion.
Will the Liberals stop wasting Canadians' money?
View Joël Godin Profile
View Joël Godin Profile
2019-06-07 11:25 [p.28749]
Madam Speaker, I have plenty of respect for my colleague from Louis-Hébert, but I have to say, the Liberals are total hypocrites.
The Liberals are strangling Canadian families. They eliminated the children's fitness and arts tax credits. They think Canadians are stupid. They send them money with one hand and take even more away with the other. Canadian families have $800 less in their pockets. This behaviour is irresponsible and dishonest to Canadian families.
When are they going to stop wasting Canadian workers' money?
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2019-06-03 16:36 [p.28430]
àMr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today on behalf of my constituents in Mégantic—L'Érable to speak to the motion moved by my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent.
I will read out the motion so that everyone can understand why I am speaking today. The motion states:
That the House:
(a) take note of the importance of a free and independent press to a healthy democracy;
(b) express its belief that it is inappropriate for partisan political actors to pick winners and losers in the media in an election year;
(c) condemn the inclusion of Unifor, a group that has taken and continues to take partisan political positions, in the panel that will oversee the distribution of the $600-million media bailout; and
(d) call on the government to immediately cease trying to stack the deck for the election with their media bailout and replace it with a proposal that does not allow government to pick winners and losers.
There are not many days left in the 42nd Parliament, and today we are discussing one of the most important issues for our democracy. My colleagues and I have been called upon to speak on this issue since the Liberals were elected in 2015.
Let us not forget how the Liberals deceived Canadians during the election campaign. The promises they made were certainly ambitious, but they clearly had no intention of keeping them.
Here is one promise they made in the throne speech:
To make sure that every vote counts, the Government will undertake consultations on electoral reform, and will take action to ensure that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system....the Government will promote more open debate and free votes...it will not resort to devices like...omnibus bills to avoid scrutiny.
Those statements were taken from the throne speech, which was read by the Governor General when this government first took office.
Let us also not forget the Liberals' promise to balance the budget in 2019. They promised to run small deficits and to balance the budget in 2019. Instead, they ran big deficits, and they are no longer even giving us any idea of when they will balance the budget. The Liberals have completely lost control of the public purse. Today, it is clear that their promise to be an open and transparent government was an empty one. They may have meant well, but things always seem to turn out the same way with the Liberals.
When Liberals are in power, all they care about is protecting their friends, holding on to power at all costs, breaking the rules they do not like, painting pretty pictures and saying all the right things to hide what they have done or failed to do, and constantly distracting Canadians from the issues that matter most to Canadians.
Not long ago, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change revealed the Liberal government's real strategy in a bar. She said that if you stay on message and repeat it louder and louder, people will totally believe it.
Here are some examples of things the Liberals tried to keep quiet: the Prime Minister's extravagant trip to India, his vacation on the Aga Khan's private island, the Prime Minister's ethical breaches, the Minister of Finance's French villa, political interference attempts in the SNC-Lavalin affair, and, more recently, the Mark Norman case.
It is also worth mentioning repeated attempts by the Leader of the Government in the House to change the rules governing members of Parliament. Whose interests would that serve? The Liberal government's, of course. Doing so would rob the opposition of the tools it uses to stand up to the government and fully engage in its essential role: holding the government to account for its actions.
This brings me to the first paragraph of today's motion:
That the House:
(a) take note of the importance of a free and independent press to a healthy democracy;
All the examples I just gave probably would not have come to our attention if not for the importance of a free and independent press. Trust between the public and the media is a direct result of the people's belief that the media is independent of their government. However, the Liberal Prime Minister has introduced a plan worth $600 million that will be distributed to the Canadian media right before the upcoming election. The Prime Minister himself chose the members of the panel that will decide how to distribute the money. He will not commit to following their recommendations. He will not allow the panel's deliberations to be public. He is asking the panel members to sign non-disclosure agreements. The Canadian Association of Journalists is now wondering whether to take part in the process, and it is calling for greater transparency.
I would like to quote a press release issued by the Canadian Association of Journalists, not the Conservative Party.
The Canadian Association of Journalists, or CAJ, said that its paramount concern is transparency and that its ability to participate will hinge on having measures in place that ensure an open and transparent public process. The CAJ noted that, so far, much of the process appears to have taken place out of the public eye through closed-door meetings between governments, newspaper owners and lobby groups. It believes that, for journalists, whose legitimacy depends on public confidence and trust, the process must be open and debate must be rigorous, thorough and in view of the public.
Furthermore, the CAJ said that combining this with the requested confidentiality agreements could create a situation where a media outlet that is critical of a minister or his or her government is denied funding and the CAJ is barred from discussing this publicly. It said that, to ensure the panel has no appearance of partisanship, regardless of whether or not it does, the panel’s full independence must be the rule.
We cannot be accused of attacking journalists when the journalists themselves are saying that the Liberals' scheme is jeopardizing their own independence. Why does the Prime Minister want to make a decision behind closed doors about which media outlets he will help? Is he hiding that he is trying to rig the election? Does he understand the harm he could do to Canadian journalists if he does not show them greater respect?
Now let us move on to paragraph (c) of this motion, which calls on the House to condemn the inclusion of Unifor, a group that has taken and continues to take partisan political positions, in this panel. Unifor is a big union, by far the union that represents the largest number of journalists in Canada. I am saying this for the benefit of people in Quebec who may not have heard of Unifor. The Prime Minister invited Unifor to sit on the panel that will oversee the media bailout. Many journalists and Canadians were shocked by this appointment. Jerry Dias, the president of Unifor and the Prime Minister's close friend, made it clear that his union will be the Conservatives' worst nightmare for the 2019 election. He had no qualms about posing for a picture with his cronies, billing them as the resistance working to stop a Conservative government from getting elected. When is the Prime Minister going to put an end to this anti-democratic charade?
That is not all. For people who want to know more about Mr. Dias and what he thinks about the Conservative Party, I will translate what he said in his tweets, which were reported by two media outlets. First, he said that he was indeed speaking out against the Conservative leader. Then Mr. Dias said he was not going to tone down his anti-Conservative campaign and that he would probably ramp it up, because the Conservative leader had irritated him over the past few days. Such is the attitude of the president of Unifor. He is the one being appointed to an independent panel to select which media will be entitled to receive funding from the Liberal government.
This is a union whose president is committed to openly campaigning against the Conservatives with money from its members. I could cite many journalists who are furious with this decision, who do not accept that their union is making such statements and who are against the government interfering in the granting process. This process has to be non-partisan, open and transparent. It has to be the opposite of what the Prime Minister has done so far.
The government is going down this dangerous path with Unifor and letting the fox guard the henhouse. It is in the fox's nature to want to eat the chickens, and Jerry Dias has clearly expressed his intention to eat Conservative in the next election. How can we trust Mr. Dias? We can still maintain the independence of our media. To start, the government must remove Unifor from this panel.
I was a journalist for many years. I worked at a local radio station. There is always a thin line between the influence of business partners and the influence one can have as a journalist. Fortunately, journalists have always maintained their independence. However, the government's actions are not going to protect journalists' jobs.
Unifor's president must be removed from the panel and the government must go about this in the right way, in an open and transparent manner, to protect the independence of journalists and Canada's democracy.
View Rachael Harder Profile
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-03 18:17 [p.28445]
Mr. Speaker, I think the point is clear that the Leader of the Opposition has been told that Unifor will be his worst nightmare going into the next election.
The point is that this is clearly a very partisan organization. This is an organization that very much is against the Conservative Party of Canada and very much campaigning on behalf of the Liberal government, which means that now this whole exercise just became very political in nature.
I do not think we can argue with that point. It is very clear what has been said and what the motive of this union is. Therefore, $600 million are on the line and where they go will be determined by this partisan group of individuals. It is not only that. The majority of the money is being withheld and is going to only be given to these media outlets post-election. This means there will be an awful lot of motivation given to them, through the withholding of money and the promise of funds after the election, to cover the 2019 election in a very particular way. It does not take a great deal of intelligence to determine what that way is.
Of course media outlets will be encouraged, if not manipulated, to cover the election of 2019 from a Liberal vantage point rather than from a fair one that is non-partisan in nature. Why is that? It is because there are $600 million on the line and they want a piece of the pie.
I have clearly outlined that there is problem with regard to the independence, but it is not just me who says that. There is far more being said by journalists throughout the country.
Andrew Coyne said, “It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”
Don Martin said, “The optics of journalism associations and unions deciding who picks the recipients of government aid for journalism are getting very queasy.”
Jen Gerson, CBC and Maclean's, said, “If any of these associations or unions”, so the eight individuals who have been selected, “could be trusted to manage this 'independent' panel, they would be denouncing it already.”
Those are quite the statements.
Chris Selley, the National Post, said, “Liberals' media bailout puts foxes in charge of the chickens.”
I and my Conservatives are not the only ones pointing out significant concerns with the decision to give out $600 million of government money to media outlets across the country. Clearly, this is an attack on the independence and the freedom of our press.
In addition to that, it is a matter of protecting democracy and of ensuring media outlets actually cover the story of the day without being pressured by the government to do it one way or the other. As soon as the government offers money to media outlets, all of a sudden the press feels the pressure to cover stories in a way that would perhaps paint the government in a positive light. That is not okay; that is not the Canada we belong to.
We see the lack of independence and the lack of freedom in places like Turkey, Russia and China, where it is dictated how any sort of news will be covered and granted to the people in those countries. In Canada, we very much depend on the government staying out of the way and allowing press to cover a story from whatever angle that media outlet should choose.
The other problem with this is that there is no transparency in the application and review process. This concern has been brought up by the CAJ within the last couple of days. It has pointed out that there needs to be a more transparent process in moving forward with this, that those who apply for this funding should be listed online and that the process for applications for this funding should be made transparent. This should be put online and made available to the Canadian public. After all, the Liberals are taking Canadian taxpayer dollars and using them to help media outlets. That process needs to have greater transparency to it.
In addition to that, there should also be some transparency with regard to not only those who apply, but also who is rejected and why. Why are they rejected? It is fair that many Canadians, many journalists and many of those on this side of the House have a concern that the government will be quite biased in the way that it selects people. I say the government because, make no mistake, that while there are eight individuals on the panel, I have my suspicions that they are nothing more than eight puppets with the current government pulling the strings.
The entire independence and freedom of the press is being called into question with this $600 million bailout. In addition to that, our democracy is being put in jeopardy, as well as just a lack of overall transparency and good governance. It is absolutely terrible.
Furthermore, with regard to credibility, one journalist wrote, “The minute the union starts helping a government divvy up taxpayers’ cash for the benefit of news outlets, there is quite rightly a perception that reporters’ coverage is being bought off.” Whether that is the case or not, there is that perception. He goes on to explain that the credibility of a journalist is of utmost importance, that our journalists work hard to maintain the credibility and trust of the Canadian public. By the government giving $600 million to the free press, it calls into question that credibility. There is a problem there.
This is not the first time the Prime Minister has put his interests above those of Canadians. He does this quite often. In the NAFTA agreement, he said that he would get a good deal for Canada. He said he would not allow ink to go on paper until tariffs were removed. However, he put ink to paper. Meanwhile, we still had tariffs on steel. We still had tariffs on aluminum. We had tariffs on softwood lumber. We allowed the U.S. to take a good chunk of our market with regard to dairy. We allowed it to take a good chunk of our market with regard to auto and implement quotas. At the end of the day again, we saw where he put his image before the needs of the Canadian people.
Further to that was the students summer jobs program. We watched again as the government put itself first. It imposed a requirement on organizations that they would need to sign off on a value statement, that they would need to sign off on a set of beliefs and values in order to receive dollars from taxpayers. If organizations were not willing to sign this value statement, or this attestation, then they could not have any of that money. Again, the government was not acting in the best interests of Canadians. Instead it was acting in the best interests of the Prime Minister and the image he wanted to portray.
The problem with this was that many faith-based organizations could not sign the Prime Minister's value statements. Those organizations do tremendous work. They look after the homeless. They look after those who live in poverty. They help refugees come to Canada and settle here. They run summer camp for kids, many who are underprivileged kids. The Prime Minister actually refused to give them a dollar because they would not sign his value statement. That is wrong.
With the carbon tax, again, the Prime Minister is wanting to put forward this image of himself as someone who cares for the environment. He gets this great idea about putting a tax on pollution. Then all of a sudden people will no longer need to drive their cars to work, put clothes on their back, food on their tables or heat their homes in -30°C. That is not the case at all. That is ridiculous. It lacks any sort of logic.
What have we watched over the last four years? We have watched as emissions in the country have gone up. We have watched as the government is further away from meeting its targets than we have ever been as a country.
The current Prime Minister has the audacity to say he is standing up for Canadians, but he is standing up for no one other than himself. He wants to maintain his image, propagate his ideals and manipulate Canadians along the way, when it is all based on a foundation of deception.
With Bill C-71, the Prime Minister said he wanted to look after the safety and well-being of Canadians, and in order to do that he would go after those who legally acquired their firearms, who were properly vetted to have a firearm and who legally used their firearms, because that would take all criminals and gangs off the street. He thinks he will help make this place a safer country if he shuts down the sports shooters and the hunters. That is the Liberal logic. It is terrible. It is more about image than it is about serving the well-being of this country and the Canadian public.
Meanwhile, the same government put another bill in place, Bill C-75. Do members know what that bill did? It rewarded terrorists. It rewarded those who force marriage. It rewarded those who engage in genocide.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2019-05-30 14:24 [p.28296]
Mr. Speaker, once again, the Canada Revenue Agency is making secret deals with big financial players, no matter what the agency says. According to CBC/Radio-Canada, KPMG has once again managed to make a secret deal with the Canada Revenue Agency.
How can the Minister of National Revenue allow such a situation?
I do not want to hear her say that the net is tightening because, on the contrary, the net is still wide open for friends of the Liberal Party.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2019-05-28 15:20 [p.28150]
Mr. Speaker, I am really disappointed. We have had such a short amount of time to debate this motion, and it is very disappointing to see a motion like this to extend the hours. Even though we have already indicated that we have some understanding of it, some of the other parts of the motion are disturbing. We have not had solid answers to some of our questions. It is disappointing to see this debate being shut down.
I would therefore like to ask the hon. government House leader if she could please assure us that she will adopt our amendments and, as we only have two supply days left as Conservatives, that she would allow those supply days to continue into the evening sitting. I think that would be fair and reasonable, and it would show that there would be some co-operation, as opposed to just giving us a very short day and not allowing the opposition to do our job, which is to hold the government to account.
I understand that the hon. government House leader is ramming this through, but could she give us assurances that she will not shorten our ability to hold the Liberals to account?
View Mike Lake Profile
View Mike Lake Profile
2019-05-28 21:05 [p.28189]
Madam Speaker, it is an interesting assertion that the member makes, and we have heard it made by Liberal members before, that because the bill will pass, we should not debate it. The Liberal government has a majority in the House. If we did not debate legislation that we knew would pass, we would never debate any legislation in the House.
My hope is that the member will take an opportunity to stand and speak in support of the legislation. When she does, I might ask about the fact that one such weakness, as pointed out by stakeholders, is the use of permissive language “may” rather than directive language “shall” or “must”. Then after she speaks, we might also have the opportunity to ask her to reassure stakeholders that this will not impact the ability of the legislation to have meaningful action that would benefit their lives.
View Mike Lake Profile
View Mike Lake Profile
2019-05-28 21:08 [p.28190]
Madam Speaker, I love the question, a question from a member of the New Democratic Party for a member of the Conservative Party, talking about how we can create better legislation despite the fact that I believe both of our parties will support it and ensure it passes before the House. However, the conversation tonight is about how we can make it better, which is the point of debate in the House of Commons is. It is always the challenge to do better and raise the concerns.
One of the things the Senate committee did right, and a proper amendment that we all looked at and believed needed to be made, was the measure to include recognition of American sign language, Quebec sign language and indigenous sign language as the primary languages for deaf people in Canada. It is one step forward, but many other things could have been done to give the legislation more teeth and have more impact for Canadians. This is an opportunity to talk about that.
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
2019-05-16 17:57 [p.27979]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to be able to stand and speak on behalf the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge. He is a dear friend, and I believe that this is a very important piece of legislation that he is bringing forward here in the House. It is an honour to speak on it.
I would also like to thank Senator Percy Downe for introducing this bill in the Senate. It is a shame that the government plans to oppose it, but I hope government members will listen to all of the reasons that this bill makes sense for the government and for Canadians.
It is timely to be speaking about Bill S-243 now, as the majority of Canadians just finished filing their taxes with the Canada Revenue Agency. We also just found out that the Canada Revenue Agency wrote off $133 million owed by a single taxpayer.
CRA employees discussed the large writeoff in an internal memo in September of 2018, and the media reported on this memo in April. However, we do not know who the taxpayer is or whether it is a person or a corporation. We also do not know whether this writeoff is related to government subsidies, which is something Canadians should know.
The aim of this bill is to keep the CRA accountable for tax collection efforts. It would also require the CRA to report on the tax gap, which is the difference between taxes owing and taxes actually collected. The bill would also require the CRA to publish information on convictions for domestic and offshore tax evasion. Data shows that the offshore tax gap for the 2014 tax year was between $0.8 billion and $3 billion.
The CRA has published information about the tax gap related to the goods and services tax. In 2014, here the offshore tax gap was estimated to be about $4.9 billion. The CRA has also shared the domestic personal income tax gap for that same year, 2014, at $8.7 billion. In that one year, the money owed for the tax gap, which could have been as high as $16 billion, could have funded many programs or eased the tax burden for many Canadians.
Conservatives believe in making life more affordable for Canadians and in keeping taxes as low as possible to stimulate the economy. When the government loses a significant amount of money because of a tax gap, it means that taxes could be raised for the rest of us. This penalizes law-abiding Canadians.
I support Senator Downe's bill, which is sponsored by the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge here in the House, because it makes sense and makes the CRA and those Canadians not living up to their responsibility to pay taxes more accountable.
Some Canadians are concerned that reporting on the tax gap could threaten their privacy, but this bill balances the privacy of individuals with transparency and accountability for the CRA. The information would be reported to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, so its intent is not to name and shame average Canadians.
The United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Australia all report on their tax gaps. These governments all indicate that they report this information because it helps their revenue departments understand how and why non-compliance occurs. This information is helpful to policy-makers, who can then make better-informed decisions about tax policy and also help the government better manage its resource allocation.
Canada should have this system. Mandating measurement of the tax gap ensures that future governments and parliaments have all of the information necessary to take action on the tax gap.
Many of us are aware that offshore tax evasion is a problem in Canada. Almost 1,000 Canadian taxpayers, including individuals, corporations and trusts, were named in the Panama papers three years ago.
The CRA told media last month that it had identified 894 taxpayers and had finished reviewing 525 of these cases, resulting in $14.9 million in federal taxes and penalties. This number will rise as audits continue.
Although the CRA told the media the amount of taxes assessed, it did not say how much of that money has actually been collected. Senator Downe's bill, if passed, would require the CRA to report that type of information to Canadians. As I mentioned before, this type of information would be incredibly helpful to our policy-makers. Many other countries use this information, and Canadians would be better served if our policy-makers also had this kind of information.
Most Canadians work hard all year and diligently file their taxes. These are honest people who would never attempt to cheat the government. However, we see wealthy Canadian individuals and corporations attempt to cheat the tax system all the time.
Tax money is used to fund services we enjoy, such as health care, transit and roads. The CRA should be able to say how much money it has collected as a result of the Panama papers. This is in the Canadian public interest.
Similarly, it should be allowed and able to tell us why $133 million was written off for a single taxpayer. That money could provide significant funding for public services, and Canadians deserve to know why this taxpayer or corporation received special treatment while the rest of us diligently work to pay our fair share.
I have had many constituents complain about dealings with the CRA, including poor levels of service or the agency repeatedly requesting documentation that has already been provided to a different branch. The Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman, which operates at arm's length from the CRA, has experienced an increase in complaints over the last few years. In 2017, the taxpayers' ombudsman said the biggest complaints were: first, the struggle to even get through to the CRA call centre, which can be a huge headache, especially around tax time. Other complaints included receiving inconsistent and incorrect information from the call centre agent and the lack of information sharing between different branches of the CRA. Many Canadians have been asked to produce the same information or documents more than once, because the person's file was not properly shared between departments.
The taxpayers' ombudsman called these problems “systemic” and said there are other deeply rooted problems. The CRA acknowledges that it needs to do more to better serve Canadians, and representatives from the agency will be travelling across Canada over the next month to conduct in-person consultations on how the CRA can improve its services. I have no doubt they will receive plenty of feedback. I am hopeful that the CRA will take this feedback and then implement it to create a better-run system, which Canadians deserve.
I know it is not just the CRA that has these problems. A recent Auditor General report found that other government departments, including immigration, employment insurance and the Canada pension plan, did not answer their phones for the millions of Canadians who called them in 2017 and 2018. It is obvious the government needs to make huge improvements to give Canadians the accessible service they require and deserve.
I hope these consultations by the CRA are fruitful and we will see a service improvement in the near future. I know how seriously Canadians take the CRA, except for wealthy Canadians who keep their money in offshore accounts without thinking of the consequences. For many Canadians, getting a letter from the CRA is anxiety-inducing, and dealing with audits and investigations can cause high levels of stress.
When Canadians owe the CRA money, most work to pay that money back, whether it is through installments or a lump sum payment. Most people would not dream of running out on the bill, so to speak, so they should not be unfairly penalized when corporations and wealthy Canadians run out on their tax obligations.
If this bill passes, it means increased accountability for the CRA, which is in the best interests of taxpayers. The changes proposed in this bill require the CRA to report on all convictions for tax evasion in addition to reporting the tax gap, as I mentioned earlier. This data would be reported to the Minister of National Revenue in the CRA's annual report, which is tabled in Parliament. The Minister of National Revenue is also required to provide the Parliamentary Budget Officer with data to calculate the tax gap.
These amendments, which would be inexpensive to implement, would increase transparency, which the government allegedly values. Publicly available reports on the gap between income taxes owed and taxes collected will provide a metric for judging the efficacy of measures to combat income tax evasion. This is important information for Canadians to have access to. Many other western nations publicly post this information. Canada is already behind standard practice in this regard. Conservatives support any measures to enhance the effectiveness and accountability of the public service.
Bill S-243 is a common-sense amendment to the Canada Revenue Agency Act, and I support the amendments.
I thank Senator Downe for his work on this bill, and the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge for helping to get the bill through the House of Commons. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill today.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:15 [p.27638]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise again. It is always awkward when we have our speeches interrupted by question period, but it is an honour to continue with my debate on the Senate amendments to Bill C-55, an act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
This bill went through the House. It went through the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which I sit on, and was studied at great length. There were a number of amendments put forward on this bill when it came through the House and the standing committee. Unfortunately, the majority of the amendments that would have provided openness, transparency, accountability and some assurance for the local communities that could be affected were rejected.
That is why I believe it went to the Senate. They have taken a look at it and have seen that it needs to have an increased level of accountability. It is simply not there.
In our opinion, the bill was not correctly drafted. That is just a continuation of what we have seen in draft legislation from the government. It seems to happen again and again. We get a bill before the House, it makes it through first and second reading here and goes to committee, and then a flood of amendments comes in.
Just recently, I remember the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo speaking about some of the indigenous-related bills that have been before the House, drafted by a government that is high on virtue and low on substance. It actually table-dropped a dozen or more amendments on top of an already long list of amendments that were actually submitted late, after the deadline. It was amendment after amendment coming from the very government that actually drafted the legislation in the first place.
It seems to be a continuation of ineptness on the government's part in seeing what needs to be in place in a piece of legislation. We have seen that multiple times. I actually had the opportunity to sub in at the environment committee when it was studying Bill C-69. That bill was rushed through this House and rushed through the process. I could not believe the rushed process when the committee was studying that bill, especially at the clause-by-clause stage.
I actually happened to sub in the day the committee was doing the clause-by-clause study of that bill and considering all of the amendments that were put forward on that bill. I believe that over 600 draft amendments were proposed. What is even more unbelievable is that over 300 of them came from the government side. There were 300-plus amendments from a government that originally drafted the bill. To me, that is unconscionable. How can it possibly be?
It is an example of how the government was very inept in getting any legislation moving in the early stages of its tenure, and now it is pushing and pushing to move things through at a faster pace as it comes closer to the end of its tenure. I certainly hope the end of that tenure happens in October. We are certainly working hard to restore the trust and faith that people in Canada and people around the world have in Canada. It was lost by the current government.
The government is simply trying to rush legislation through, but it is trying to do this through a lack of accountability, a lack of transparency and absolute power that is being bestowed on the ministers or the councils that operate under their purview. We see that in this bill.
The government does not want to be held accountable for the reasons that it may have within its secret place for establishing areas of interest or marine protected areas. It does not want to be held accountable for any part. If feels that it knows best.
It seems to be the drive of the current government to have the government manage everything. Pay it the taxes, and it will manage everything better. We know that it is not the right way to go. We know that the people on the ground, the people in the communities, know how to manage our fish and wildlife species, resources and access to those resources far better than a government centred here in Ottawa does.
The consultation process is a huge part of what is missing in Bill C-55. I will go back to my experience travelling across this great country, from the east Atlantic coast to our west Pacific coast to our North Atlantic coast, with the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
We met with fishermen, with communities and with business owners in those communities. They wanted to provide input on where a marine protected area, MPA, may be instituted, how it may be instituted and what type of restrictions may be in place. Fishermen brought us maps with the proposed protected areas sketched out. They showed us areas where they would fish and set out their trap lines, fishing lines and long lines in a certain pattern so that they had room to work together as they fished and would not cross over each other's lines or get entanglements. They could fish in a progressive and orderly manner. However, what was happening with some of the proposed marine protected areas was that they had not been consulted on the no-take zones within those areas. They were being squeezed tighter and tighter. They were anticipating conflict on the seas, which is certainly not what we want to see, nor do we want to see people put at risk because they have to travel further or spend more time on the water to catch their harvest. However, it is that consultation that is missing in the bill, which is what the Senate was trying to put in there.
I will talk a little about my understanding of conservation versus preservation and conservatism versus socialism, which really came to light for me after I came to the House and participated in a number of debates here.
I come from a conservation background, where we use natural resources in a sustainable way. We take something out of those resources that gives value so that we have something tangible to put back in. Sometimes that can be as simple as a volunteer angler or hunter willing to put his hours back into habitat restoration, whether that be stream restoration for trout, salmon and species that might spawn in those streams or forest restoration for elk and deer. That is how they put something back, and they feel the need to put something back, because they have taken something from it. To me, that is true conservation, and I put that up against the preservation side any day.
The preservation side wants to lock everything up. There is no take. There is no consumption. There is no value received by anyone from locking it up. There may be some views or a little travel through that area, but basically, it is no touch and no take. Nothing is taken from it. What do we have to do to maintain that? We have to take from somewhere else. We need revenue to patrol, enforce and manage the piece that is preserved. To me, when we have to take from somewhere over here to support something over there, it is too much toward socialism, and I certainly hope we are not going to have to go that way.
There are other pieces in the bill that are really troubling. I want to quote from part of it:
The Governor in Council and the Minister shall not use lack of scientific certainty regarding the risks posed by any activity that may be carried out in certain areas of the sea as a reason to postpone or refrain from exercising their powers or performing their duties and functions under subsection 35(3) or 35.1(2).
For a government that claims to be investing billions in science, this paragraph jumped out at me when I first reviewed Bill C-55. That the Governor in Council and the minister shall not use the lack of scientific certainty in doing anything presents to me that they can use any reason they see fit, whether science supports it or not, to make a decision, which is simply unconscionable. I cannot support that type of power and authority being given to ministers of the Crown or their councils. The greatest part of that concern comes from foreign influence in those decisions. We see this continuously.
I mentioned earlier in my speech the consultations that took place on the closure of chinook fishing off the west coast of Vancouver Island. At the time, fishing organizations and local conservationists felt that they were having a reasonably good consultation process with the department about what closures there should be. They were working co-operatively. They were working with the department and the government on what they saw as viable solutions. They put forward their proposals, which they felt would be accepted. What they found out afterward was that there was a strong backdoor lobbying effort by environmental NGOs that wanted to see all fishing completely shut down. That pressure was behind the scenes, behind closed doors. No one knows what it was, because it was all done through ministerial confidence.
Foreign influence could affect the decisions that could be made through that clause saying that the minister does not need scientific evidence. All he needs is pressure from a foreign NGO. That is where I see huge risks in this bill. We had hoped to see more accountability in the reasoning, location and jurisdictional decisions the minister makes on establishing these MPAs.
Earlier today we heard the parliamentary secretary basically denounce the proposed amendments from the Senate, saying that they were redundant and not necessary. I would like to come to that. If they are redundant, they would be easy to step over to go to the next phase. If they showed that one phase of the consultation or assessment process covered off the concerns, when they got to the next phase, which might bring up those concerns again, they could point out, in the individual instances and cases, how those concerns were addressed. I really have a hard time agreeing with the parliamentary secretary's statements about the redundancy and the lack of the need for accountability. Everyone needs accountability from their government. I think that is why people send us here to Ottawa, to this great place. We are held accountable by our constituents back home.
I want to get back to an early draft of the legislation. The process in Bill C-55 is an attempt to speed up the government's ability to reach targets that were set by our government as targets, not hard-set goals but targets. We were working toward achieving those targets through a process of consultation and input from the local communities.
I talked about the marine protected areas that had been established in the north. I will have to apologize to the Inuit people for not being able to speak their language the way they do. There is the Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam marine closed area in the Arctic Ocean. There is the Tarium Niryutait closure also in the Arctic. Those marine closed areas were put in place because the communities wanted them. They saw what was there. They saw the value. However, they only protect against certain things. They protect against cruise ships coming in. They still allow the local harvest to take place for salmon, beluga whales and whatever the local Inuit had traditionally harvested out of those areas. It was a very co-operative process.
We travelled there and met with the chiefs and the band members. They were very proud of what they had achieved, a total opposite to what we have seen take place over the last three and a half years under the federal Liberal government. We saw a spirit of co-operation in the north, a recognition of those indigenous and Inuit values for the establishment of those MPAs. They were very specific about what they were protecting because they had consulted with the local people. The government understood what needed to be protected, what needed to be preserved, how big the area needed to be and what the risks were.
Another big part of what has taken place here is that for some of this, the moving forward with areas of interest and proposals for marine protected areas, there has not been a full identification of risks. There has not even been a basic identification of those risks. One of the things that came forward in the Senate amendments was that there would be an identification of the risks, the features and the species that might be involved in the marine protected areas.
Over the past couple of years, the fisheries minister has been questioned about MPAs, their enforcement, implementation and so on. One of the things that came out of the study we did, which was basically a unanimous report, was:
That, when identifying new areas of interest for marine protected areas, the Government of Canada evaluate net economic and social values and responsibilities, including cost of patrol and enforcement in Canada, particularly for remote marine areas.
The minister's response to this recommendation merely acknowledged that enforcement was an expense.
Last September, the minister's own national advisory panel, established to give advice on establishing marine protected areas, also recommended “That the government identify long-term, permanent, and stable funding for marine protected areas”. The minister's response to the advisory panel failed to even mention funding or resources for marine protected areas. It is unbelievable. It was mentioned in the committee report and in his own advisory panel's report and the minister did not even acknowledge it in his response.
DFO's 2019-20 departmental plan states that the department will provide enforcement in MPAs through the National Fisheries Intelligence Service, NFIS. However, the purpose of the NFIS, according to DFO, is large-scale fisheries offences, not habitat protection for pollution offences. The minister, through his department, is handing off patrol and enforcement of MPAs to the National Fisheries Intelligence Service that has no mandate to protect habitat or pollution.
There was no mention of MPA enforcement activities in the federal budgets or supplementary estimates since the fisheries committee and the minister's advisory panel told the government that enforcement activities needed to be funded. The minister knew there needed to be funding around enforcement. He was told that by the committee and by his own appointed panel, yet we saw nothing in the budget for enforcement of MPAs.
In the discussion earlier, I mentioned that local communities felt, in many cases, that they might be the best to patrol and enforce because they were on the water. They are out there anyway, performing their activities, at no real additional cost to the government. Therefore, they could spot the bad guys, the infractions, point out who was doing what at no expense. However, we have seen no program platform put forward, no ideas on how to enforce and increase the patrol of these upcoming MPAs.
It is another area where the government is simply putting out ideas and has no plan on how to follow through and complete those ideas. Without a funding plan for enforcement, the creation of marine protected areas is little more than government announcements and lines on a map. Out on the ocean, on the high seas, it may mean very little.
What is the government's funding plan for enforcement activities in marine protected areas?
I believe there were 24 recommendations from the standing committee's study on marine protected areas. The majority of those were around the consultation process that was needed, the consultation process with fishermen, with indigenous people, the Inuit and with people right across the country, on how it would affect them. I also do not want to forget the consultation that needs to take place with the shipping industry. All of those pieces need to be put together into a very intricate puzzle.
Recommendation 15 states:
That the creation of a marine protected area be founded on clear objectives, the best available science or, in urgent situations, the application of the precautionary principle, all informed by traditional knowledge contributed by the local indigenous communities and fishers that have traditionally operated in the area.
All of these pieces need to be put together. It is simply again the consultation process that needs to take place through the best available science. The recommendation is very clear, except for in an urgent situation, but still through the knowledge of the locals.
The bill has been through the House, the Senate, and amendments were proposed in the House and at committee. Unfortunately, a lot of those amendments were ignored by the government. We now have amendments from the Senate. Obviously, it saw problems with the bill. In that, we can see the bill is flawed. It needs to be improved. How the government intends to do it, I am not sure. The Liberals will probably try to push it through.
Rather than a page and a half of detailed points that the Senate made in its amendment that needed to be corrected, the government's response was to take a butcher's knife to it, send it back to the Senate, with three small bullet points saying that it needed to get this done so it could say that had achieved something, because the Liberals have achieved very little in their three and a half years.
I will conclude by thanking members for being here on a Friday to listen. It is has been an important process. I want to thank the Senate for its study and its committee that put the work into the study.
As I mentioned, even before the government introduced Bill C-55, in fact, months before, I moved the motion that the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans take a look into how marine protected areas were established, the process and procedure for establishing those to ensure the science and consultation was done. The committee did some great work on that. Unfortunately, I do not believe the government has actually followed through on the process.
View Mel Arnold Profile
View Mel Arnold Profile
2019-05-10 12:43 [p.27641]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's disagreement with what I am saying, but I certainly disagree with what the Liberals are trying to say. They have seemingly been taken over by organizations that want to shut down any development whatsoever.
As I have mentioned many times through my intervention, consultation is key on closures. However, we have heard comments from the premier of the Northwest Territories that the government, without consultation, shut down the entire northern shelf for any development, negatively impacting an entire territory and the economic benefit it could have had through that.
We have seen the benefit when oil and gas was found off the coast of Newfoundland and how it was developed safely. There has not been a blowout. Nor has there been a problem. The wealth that came into the province of Newfoundland over the past decades was mostly driven by the safe development of oil and gas off those coasts. However, the government is hell-bent on shutting down any type of resource development anywhere in the country.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2019-05-10 13:12 [p.27645]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-55 to contribute a couple of thoughts.
My colleague from North Okanagan—Shuswap gave an excellent overview of the contents of the bill and the substance of the amendments being proposed by the Senate. It has proposed a couple of measures that would improve accountability.
There is a series of common-sense ideas. They are very technical in nature. When I went through them, they gave me pause. I though about the implications for the minister of the requirement to consult and how to consult? I thought about how the government would deal with applying some of the other measures in the real world.
A lot of what we do in Ottawa is put theory into legal practice and provide the wording for what we want departmental officials to do on the ground. However, there is also an entire portion related to the application of the legislation and regulations. We want to know how it will work in the field. How will the ideas in this chamber, brought forward by the government through legislation and by government members and opposition members through amendments, actually work out in the real world?
It is not enough to have good intent. It is also what happens on the ground. The reality on the ground is extremely important in whether the legislation will achieve those goals. Intent is fine. I think intent is laudable. We talk a lot about that as politicians. However, it is the results on the ground that count the most. Did we achieve the goals we set out? Do we have a metric to measure how the legislation is working?
The member from North Okanagan—Shuswap gave an excellent overview of the work both parties on the opposition side have done in proposing amendments and improvements to the bill at various stages, going back to when the bill was before the House of Commons committee. Between 25 and 30 amendments were proposed at that time to try to improve the legislation.
I have been on different committees, and often I have seen government legislation that has technical flaws in it. Some of the flaws are inadvertent. They are simply copied and pasted from other pieces of legislation. Perhaps they had a good intent at one time, but when we sit down with officials and stakeholder groups, we quickly realize that they would have several unintended consequences. I will get to one of the unintended consequences of the MPA processes.
When sections of bills are being changed, or improved, as the government would say, I have seen members try to amend them at committee. I have done this myself. I have proposed amendments to government legislation that I thought would improve a bill and fix it in a substantive way, perhaps by amending a definition, as I tried to do on the medical assistance in dying bill, to provide a more technical definition.
With respect to Bill C-55, we are talking about Senate amendments that, as I mentioned, would improve the accountability of the minister to both Parliament and Canadians. They are common-sense ideas. Whether the amendments and the ideas therein are properly executed deserves further investigation and deliberation.
Bill C-55 would maximize the minister's powers. I have mentioned several times in this chamber, on other pieces of legislation proposed by the government, how opposed I am to maximizing ministerial discretion, especially on things like MPAs, which have an immense economic impact on the livelihoods of people in smaller communities, people who depend on fisheries for their livelihood.
It is incumbent upon any government and any member of Parliament to ensure that ministers are reined in and do not have free rein to do as they wish. Too much of the legislation that has passed in the House leaves it up to cabinet, through orders in council, to decide what the details will be.
I will draw the attention of the House to the cannabis bill, which decriminalized or legalized the sale and distribution of cannabis in Canada, and to the impaired driving bill. These bills created a litany of regulations that were basically to be written by a minister and then approved by cabinet at some point.
Some of them were very basic concepts, like definitions that should simply be taken out of a dictionary. We have the same situation here, where the minister's discretion and ability to intervene and interfere in a local area's decision-making process is very broad.
That is a deficiency in any government legislation, because often when we then ask those ministers to return to committees and provide a summary, provide some type of semblance of what was done with the powers, in almost every situation that I have experienced so far, I have been disappointed when ministers returned to committee to explain how they used the powers. They either went way overboard in their application or fell far short and actually did not pass a regulation that met the requirements of Parliament, thus being unable to achieve the goals that the legislation set out.
Just yesterday, at the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, where eventually the regulations that Bill C-55 would enable will make their way for gazetting and review and approval, I saw another instance of a government regulation being used by two previous governments, both Liberal and Conservative, whereby the officials in the department had collected information they were not legally allowed to collect.
Then an amendment to a piece of legislation was passed in 2012, and at that point, that collection of information was legalized. The logical question that all parliamentarians asked, including members in the government caucus and members of the Conservative caucus and members of the NDP caucus, was that if this collection of information was legalized in 2012, was it illegal before that? That was what the legal counsel for the committee was telling members of Parliament was in fact the case—that the government officials had improperly collected a whole suite of very sensitive, proprietary, corporate economic information.
My worry with Bill C-55 is again the broad discretion being given to the minister during the consultation process and the set-up of the MPA.
I want to quote Jim McIsaac of the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus, who said:
Right now on the west coast we have 10 or 12 different MPA processes. It's impossible for the fishing industry to engage in all of these in a kind of comprehensive way. We need a place where we can sit down and set some of these overarching objectives. If we don't do that, it's just going to disintegrate into a mess. It won't be durable going on. We need a way to bring all available knowledge into these.
That speaks to some of that consultation overload. Consultation is a great thing. I participate in government consultations when they post them on the website. I will mention one right after this, on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, just as an illustration of where I think the problem with this consultation on the MPAs exists.
Having 10 or 12 MPA consultation processes at the same time overwhelms one particular industry. It is too much in one area for one group, one sector, one group of workers in an economy to be able to answer to when we want in-depth, valuable information to be provided. We do not just want boxes checked.
The government has indicated that it does not agree with the Senate amendments and did not agree with many of the Conservative amendments at the House of Commons committee when the bill found itself there, and in this legislation what the government is trying to do is outsmart everybody. I think that is the greatest folly. It is a Yiddish proverb. It is one that has been used many times. We as parliamentarians should know, and the government should know, that it is impossible to know everything.
That is what consultation is supposed to be about. It is the process of discovering what we do not know; it is not supposed to be about affirming what we think we know. It is about discovering what we do not know.
In this case, my thought is that if we do 10 to 12 different consultations, again as with these MPA processes, it will overwhelm a particular industry. I am much more familiar with energy site consultations on indigenous communities at the Alberta provincial level. In a prior life, I worked for the Alberta finance minister at the time and the minister of sustainable resource development at the time. Our sustainable resources in Alberta do not happen to be fisheries. Unfortunately, fisheries are not a major sector in the Alberta economy, but they are a major sector in the British Columbia economy, and we should be worried by what we hear.
We should be worried when groups are telling us that the proposal in the legislation may overwhelm their ability to provide in-depth valuable information, whether it is traditional knowledge or qualitative or quantitative data that their industry collects just as part of doing business and part of proposing what they think. Again, the consultation angle here is that there could be an overwhelming number of them and that would make it very difficult for them to meet it.
I want to provide another quote for the chamber's consideration from Christina Burridge, the executive director of the BC Seafood Alliance. She states:
Closing large areas to fishing off the west coast does little for biodiversity, little for conservation, little for the men and women up and down the coast who work in our sector and who are middle class or aspire to the middle class, and little for the health of Canadians, who deserve access to local, sustainable seafood.
Again, that is valuable input from another organization that feels these proposed MPAs might have a fine purpose in mind, but the difference being the intent and impact on the ground, the reality of what will be done.
Several members have mentioned during debate on the legislation that they are concerned that the minister will have simply too broad a series of powers to do as he or she wants, such as to declare a certain area, cut out a certain border for the MPA first and then consult after the fact. However, the economic impact is immediate. People in the area who depend on this type of fishery or it is a significant part of what they do on a daily basis will not be able to continue to do so. They will have to consult with the minister as part of an organization or individually.
There is always the possibility that the government will of course listen to a particular stakeholder group and will defer. It will move boundaries. It will change them to meet the demands. However, the impact will have already happened. There will be already investors, perhaps or individuals who will have changed their behaviour, either their purchasing behaviour or the fishing practices they had. In the meantime, people still have to make an income at the end of the day. They still have to make ends meet. They still have to pay their one's taxes, because the government will never let up on that. They still has to attain some type of middle-class lifestyle. People cannot just lay down their tools and wait for the government to finish its consultation process. They cannot wait for the minister to be satisfied that they have met the requirements of the law.
Some of the defects and shortcomings in the bill could be addressed by some of the proposals in a Senate amendment. We can look back, as the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap mentioned, to some of the amendments proposed on the Conservative side at committee about improving the way the consultation would be done to protect the workers out there. Part of the amendments proposed here also touch upon some of the announcements made by the government.
The government made an announcement that it intended to spend about $1.5 billion on ocean protection off the west coast. It was part of its goal to reach some of its international targets and it was part of the process toward attaining and ensuring the construction of the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline, so meeting some of the public concerns that individuals had. I have a couple of issues in how this legislation and those dollar announcements matter.
We heard from the previous auditor general, who passed away tragically from cancer. He filed a report late last year, saying that the government was more interested in big dollar announcements in its news releases. He went in-depth in attacking the government's means of testing how it was achieving its goals. He said that it rated its success according to how much money had been shovelled out the door, not the actual impacts on the ground. He had a more broader critique on how the government had managed its operations.
Bill C-55 operationalizes MPAs in a lot of ways. It is much meatier legislation than people might realize. Many people realize that the consultation processes and the conservation of these broad maritime ecosystems and the termination of economic activity in many of these areas for certain types of fisheries or the potential of certain types of fisheries is a big operational part of government.
Time and time again, in different parts of the government, we have seen their inability to meet their own department plans, which every minister tables in the House. There are many shortcomings on that side, such as loading up departments with more work while cutting back on the total FTE count of employees in the department.
The government seems to rate its success simply by how much money has gone out the door, or sometimes, if the money has not even moved, by the quality of the news release being put out and the dollar figure. If there is “billion” in the number, the government will say that it is a job well done, that the mission was successful and that it has achieved its goals.
I will go back to the TMX pipeline for a moment, because I am a member who represents a Calgary riding and I am an Albertan. The TMX pipeline is a perfect example. The government created an investment environment, or a public policy situation, where a company felt obliged to give public notice to its shareholders after a board meeting that it was thinking of backing out of the pipeline expansion. It was not going to meet its goals. The government had created that environment, and it felt obliged to expropriate the pipeline from Kinder Morgan and purchase it for $4.5 billion.
Here comes the operationalizing component. My worry about Bill C-55 is whether the government will be able to operationalize all of this and whether it is overwhelming communities with too much consultation. The government has not been able to build a single inch of pipe to twin the TMX line to the west coast, despite the fact that it promised legislation, despite the fact that it promised, over 300 days ago, that it would get the pipeline built, and despite the fact that almost two construction seasons have been thrown away.
I hear a member on the government caucus side from Toronto heckling me. I remind him that the previous government approved four pipelines. I remind him that the previous government had a record of actually building pipelines. I also remind him that under his government's watch, the government he defends, over 7,000 kilometres of pipe has been cancelled in this country.
The LNG Canada project on the west coast is a $40-billion project that was approved by the regulator in 2012 and approved by the previous Stephen Harper government. They approved it. It took six years before the company felt that the business environment was good enough. For three years, from 2015 to 2018, the project was on the cusp of being cancelled. The only thing that saved the project was that the government exempted it from the carbon tax. That is the only reason the company went ahead with a $40-billion project. As well, under the government's watch, 78 billion dollars' worth of LNG projects have been cancelled.
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