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View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2019-06-04 12:52 [p.28483]
Mr. Speaker, again, not to sound narcissistic, but if we are going to talk, there should be people here to listen.
We are here today to debate the government's bill, which would implement the main measures of the budget. Budgets are highly technical and theoretical, but this gives us a chance to really dig deep.
My first observation is about the budget, as introduced by the minister, election promises and the format of the bill, which is 370 pages long and covers many topics that have nothing to do with the budget. This is called an omnibus bill.
I will remind members that four years ago, back in 2015, the Liberals made a promise. During the election campaign, they made several promises to Canadians in order to get elected. These promises were scrapped, however. The fourth paragraph on page 30 of their election platform states the following:
We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny.
[The former prime minister] has used prorogation to avoid difficult political circumstances. We will not.
[The former prime minister] has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals.
This is exactly what we are debating today. Today we are debating an omnibus bill into which the government inserted measures that have nothing to do with the budget. Four years ago, the Liberals promised not to do this, but they did it anyway.
Must I remind the House that, at around the same time last year, we were all here studying the previous budget implementation bill? The government had slipped in a dozen or so pages of legal provisions to allow companies facing prosecution for corruption, among other charges, to sign separate agreements. These provisions were not properly debated by parliamentarians. The Senate asked the minister to testify, but he refused.
That is what gave rise to the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Last year's bill included a process to allow for separate trials or agreements. That led to the director of public prosecutions' decision to proceed to trial on September 4. Ten days later, the former attorney general agreed to this proposal, and that is when partisan politics seeped into the legal process. That is what later led the former attorney general and the former president of the Treasury Board to be booted out of the Liberal caucus for having stood up and told Canadians the truth.
I am talking about this sad episode in Canadian democracy precisely because what we have before us today is a government that was elected under false promises, a government that promised the moon and sought to be pure as the driven snow but, in the end, did not keep its promises. That is essentially it. We have an omnibus bill.
Now let us talk about what is really going on with this bill, the government's budget implementation bill. What is the deal with this budget? Once again, we must not forget that the Liberals got themselves elected on the basis of budget promises they most certainly did not keep. The last paragraph on page 76 of the Liberal Party platform mentions the planning framework, the budgeting framework. It says right there in black and white:
With the Liberal plan, the federal government will have a modest short-term deficit of less than $10 billion in each of the next two fiscal years....
The platform also stated that the deficit would decline in the third year and that Canada would return to a balanced budget in 2019-20.
That was the promise that got the Liberals elected. Their bold but not-so-brilliant idea was to make a solemn pledge to run small deficits and eliminate the deficit entirely in 2019-20. That deadline has arrived, and what happened? Those modest deficits ballooned into three big deficits in excess of $70 billion. This is 2019-20, the year they were supposed to get rid of the deficit, but instead, this year's deficit is $19.8 billion.
Twice now I have asked the Minister of Tourism and the Liberal member for Surrey-Centre, if I remember correctly, to tell me the amount of this year’s deficit. They can never come up with the simple and yet very serious figure of $19.8 billion. How can we trust these people who get elected by promising, hand on heart, that they will generate only small deficits and zero deficit in 2019, when they generated three large deficits plus a huge one on the year they were meant to deliver a zero deficit?
What the Liberals fail to understand is that a deficit is a bill that our children and grandchildren will have to pay. A deficit today is a tax tomorrow. It will have to be paid sooner or later. Why did this happen? Because we are living beyond our means.
I would like to remind the House that, historically speaking, deficits are permitted under special conditions. You will remember that we ran deficits during the war. We had to defeat the Nazi menace. We will soon be celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings on June 6. It was not until Prime Minister Louis Saint-Laurent that fiscal balance was restored, and I am not just saying that because I happen to represent the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent.
It was in the early 1970s, under the Liberal government led by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the current Prime Minister’s father, that we began running deficits in times of prosperity.
It was unfortunate for the Canadian economy. Indeed, fast forward 50 years and the son of the prime minister who ran deficits in times of growth is doing exactly the same thing, running four huge deficits in a period of rapid global economic expansion.
I truly have a great deal of respect and esteem for the Minister of Finance, as I do for all those who run for election and offer their services to Canadians and who, proud of their personal experience, wish to put it to good use. The Minister of Finance had a stellar career on Bay Street. We might even call him a Bay Street baron for having administered his family’s fortune so well. When he was head of the family company, Morneau Shepell, he never ran deficits.
When he was in the private sector, the Minister of Finance never ran a deficit, but since he moved to the public sector, since he has been using taxpayer money, since he has been using money that belongs to Canadian workers, he has been running back-to-back deficits.
How many have there been? There have been one, two, three, four budgets, and there have been one, two, three, four deficits. Four out of four, that is the grand slam of mismanaged public funds, while, in the private sector, he was a model money manager, an example to be followed.
To say the least, he is now neither a model or an example to be followed. Generating deficits during periods of economic growth is the ultimate heresy. No serious economist will tell you that this is a good time to generate a deficit. Quite the contrary, when the economic cycle picks up, it is time to put money aside.
They were very lucky. When they were elected, they took over the G7 country with the best economic track record. When we were in power, we were so intent on serious and rigorous management that we were the first G7 country to recover from the great crisis of 2008-12. That was thanks to the informed and rigorous management of the late Hon. Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. These people inherited the best economic situation among the G7 nations, as well as a $2.5 billion budget surplus, which will not be the case in five months if Canadians choose us to form the next government.
Worse still, in the past four years, they have taken advantage of the sensational global economic growth and, of course, the economic strength of the United States, which has been experiencing growth for several years. What did they do with it? They made a huge mess of things, and the monstrous deficits they have been running these past four years will be handed down to our children and grandchildren to pay in the future.
That is why we are strongly opposed to this bill, which flies in the face of two election promises: to do away with omnibus bills, and to only run small deficits before balancing the budget in 2019.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 13:23 [p.28487]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address some of the failings of the Liberal government over the last four years and reflect upon just how disastrous it has been.
The heckling continues over there. The Liberals never miss an opportunity to get some good heckling in. Our colleagues across the way are chirping loud and doing all they can to throw us off. However, it will not work. I have been chirped at by the best and they definitely are not the best.
I rise today to talk to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. Essentially, it is an extension of the government's attempt to cover up what could be actually the biggest affront to our democracy in our country's history. It has attempted to cover up potentially the biggest corruption at the highest levels of our government, and that is the SNC-Lavalin case. That is what we are seeing here today. I bring us back to that again because I feel I have to. The gallery is packed. I know Canadians from coast to coast to coast knew this speaker was coming up.
I would be remiss if I did not remind Canadians from all across our country that it was day 10 of the 2015 election when the then member of Papineau committed to Canadians that under his government, he would let the debate reign. He said that he would not resort to parliamentary tricks such as omnibus bills or closure of debate. He also told Canadians around that same time that he would balance the budget in 2019. Those are three giant “oops”, perhaps disingenuous comments. I do not think he has lived up to any of them at this point.
As of today, the government has invoked closure over 70 times. Why? Because the government does not like what it is hearing. If the Liberals do not like what the opposition is saying and they do not want Canadians to hear the truth, they invoke closure. This means we cannot debate really important legislation. They limit the amount of time for debate on that legislation. The BIA, Bill C-97, is just one of them. Does that sound like letting the debate reign? It does not.
It is interesting that whenever things go sideways for the Prime Minister, a couple of things happen. We see him even less in the House or something always happens to change the channel. That is what we have today.
Bill C-97 is really just a cover-up budget. We have talked about that. It just goes in line with more and more of the government's kinds of wacky ways, where it says it will spend money and perhaps it doles it out. However, the money is not really going to things that Canadians need the most.
We see $600 million in an election year being given to the media, a media that is supposed to be impartial. That is a $600 million bailout.
We also know that in the previous budget, approximately $500 million was given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank. That $500 million is not being spent in Canada for one piece of an infrastructure.
I rose to talk about a few things. One of the things that is really disappointing for me is this. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a lot of promises were made, and this one hits home for us. I have brought this up time and again in the House. The Liberals said that they would put an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
I think it was in 2016 that the Prime Minister stood in the House and told Canadians that he was going to have a deal done within 100 days. He had a new BFF, the Minister of International Trade Diversification said. Both were just giddy. They were going to get this deal done and put an end to the softwood lumber irritant once and for all, yet last week, we found out from the Senate Liberal leader that the Prime Minister had other priorities ahead of softwood lumber.
Over 140 communities and over 140,000 jobs are tied to forestry in my province of British Columbia. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in my province, yet it was not a priority for the Prime Minister in renegotiating his NAFTA deal.
What we are seeing with the Liberal government is that rural Canadians are just not its focus.
Last week I also met with some real estate folks and some Canadian homebuilder folks. They told me that the Liberal government's B-20 stress test and the shared equity program, which is geared toward trying to get Canadians into homes, is actually hurting that industry. The real estate industry is saying that the B-20 stress test, which was geared more for Toronto and Vancouver markets but is all across the country, impacts rural Canadians negatively .
Almost $15 billion has been kept out of that industry, meaning that it is harder for Canadians to get into the home ownership they strive for. It is a step into the middle class. People put money toward something they own rather than putting it into something that someone else owns. The government's failed B-20 policy and the shared equity program is hurting Canadians. It is another example of how Canadians are worse off with the Liberal government.
I will bring us to a couple of years ago. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence all have it down pat. They can put their hands on their hearts and say that they really care, yet it is the same Prime Minister who told veterans that they were asking for too much.
Yesterday was a very important day, because we saw the closure of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission and we saw its report. The government knew that this day was coming, but did it put any money in the 2019 budget for that? There is nothing.
The Liberals like to say that Canadians are better off than they were under our previous Conservative administration, but it is actually the opposite. Canadians are worse off since the Liberal government took over. Eighty-one per cent of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes since the Liberal government came to power. The average income increase for middle income families is $840. The government's higher pension plan premiums could eventually cost Canadians up to $2,200 per household. The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut of up to $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit of up to $225 per child. They cancelled the education and textbook tax credits of up to $560 per student. The government's higher employment insurance premiums are up $85 per worker. The Liberal carbon tax could cost up to $1,000 per household and be as high as $5,000 in the future.
The Prime Minister called small businesses tax cheats. The government's intrusive tax measures for small businesses will raise taxes on thousands of family businesses across Canada.
The list goes on and on. Bill C-97 is just the capping of a scandal-ridden administration, and to that, I say, good riddance.
View Tom Lukiwski Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for being so gracious in allowing me to participate in this debate today.
I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-97, the government's budget implementation act. It allows me the opportunity to examine in some detail why the Liberal government should not be re-elected this October. I say that because the government, if nothing else, has exhibited a litany of broken promises since 2015. Allow me to explain and highlight just a few of them.
As many Canadians may remember, during the election campaign in 2015, one of the many promises the Liberals made was to end what they called the undemocratic practice of introducing omnibus budget bills. What did we see this year? We saw another in a series of omnibus budget bills. In fact, the budget bill tabled this year is over 700 pages in length, making it the most lengthy budget bill ever introduced in parliamentary history. So much for stopping the practice of introducing omnibus budget bills.
I only note this as an example of one of the Liberals' broken promises. There are many more.
I will spend a little time on the second example, which is the most alarming of all the broken promises from the Liberals. This is the promise they made in 2015 to run, only for a three-year period, modest deficits of no more than $10 billion. They also promised that by the year 2019, the fourth year in their four-year mandate, they would return to balanced budgets. It is now 2019 and where are we? Do we have a balanced budget? We certainly do not. In fact, we have the furthest thing from it.
What is truly alarming is that on multiple occasions in committee, the finance minister of our country admitted that not only would we not return to balanced budgets in the foreseeable future, but he did not know when we might.
Let us think about that for just a second. I want all Canadians to think about that as well. The finance minister, who is arguably the second most influential person in Canada with respect to setting economic and fiscal policy, will not say when the budget will be balanced. More troubling is that he cannot because he does not know. The finance minister of Canada does not know when this country might return to balanced budgets. That is far more alarming to me than any pronouncement that any finance minister has made in recent history.
I could have understood if the finance minister would have said that he did not see the country returning to a balanced budget in the next five to 10 years or perhaps even in the next 15 years because of the economic and fiscal direction the government wished to pursue. However, it is more than just troubling for the finance minister to admit that he does not know when the country will return to a balanced budget because he cannot project that far into the future.
All Canadian taxpayers should think about that long and hard, and I hope they do. I hope that come October, they will remember this broken promise. Our country deserves better than a finance minister who does not know when his own budget might be balanced. It is almost unconscionable for a man in his position to admit that, yet that is the case before us.
It is not just the fact that the Liberals broke a promise on omnibus bills and their introduction in Parliament. It is not just the fact that they promised only modest deficits, and they have broken that promise. The Liberals have broken promises on things like electoral reform. They have broken promises on elements such as supporting the oil and gas sector in Canada, something on which the Liberals have deliberately, in my view, misled Canadians.
Let me give a couple of examples of what I say and what I mean by not supporting the oil and gas sector. Almost immediately upon forming government in 2015, the Liberal government killed northern gateway, a project that if it were up and running today, would be bringing untold billions of dollars to the Canadian economy and increasing the price of oil that we could have sold on the world market. However, the Liberal government unilaterally killed a project that had previously been approved by the National Energy Board.
In addition to that, the Liberal government, looking at the proposed energy east project, changed the regulatory provisions contained in the legislation and made upstream and downstream emissions something that had to be considered by the NEB, to the point where TransCanada pulled completely out of that project. That project, which could have been a nation-building project, delivering oil from western Canada to the east coast to their refineries to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, because of the Liberal government, was killed.
What is left? It is the infamous Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan project. The Liberal government has no intention, in my view, of following through on its promise to get that built. Right now, again in my opinion, the Liberal Party is simply doing electoral calculus on how many votes it can gain by not committing to completing this project before the next election. If the Liberals feel they can get more votes in British Columbia and Quebec by stopping this project, then that is what they are going to do.
This is nothing more than a political exercise, but the collateral damage is Canadians, particularly in western Canada, in my province of Saskatchewan and my neighbouring province of Alberta. The energy-producing provinces of the country are the collateral damage of the Liberal government's refusal to honour a promise.
Last but certainly not least, I would point out for all Canadians who may be listening to this debate what the Liberals did with the SNC scandal, as it is now known. The budget implementation bill included, buried deep within that bill, a provision that would allow the government, should it so wish, to introduce something called a DPA, a deferred prosecution agreement. The Liberals did that because the government had been lobbied extensively by SNC-Lavalin and they thought that by introducing it in the bill, it would allow the prosecutors office an opportunity to offer a DPA to SNC-Lavalin. That did not happen, and we know what the results were: the biggest scandal in Canadian political history in the last three decades, which resulted in the former attorney general of Canada resigning, because of the inappropriate pressure put on her by the government, and in the former Treasury Board president resigning in protest over the government's handling of that very key element of the budget implementation bill.
I could go on for quite some considerable time, but I have limited time before me. Let me just conclude by going back to my opening remarks when I said that in my opinion the government did not deserve to be re-elected. I can assure the House and anyone else who may be listening to this debate that in slightly less than six months, Canadians will be able to prove my prediction to be quite accurate.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for constituents in the snowy upper Ottawa Valley riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, it is an honour to be their representative in this place.
In 2019, there is a sense among Canadians that the promise of progress, the idea that with hard work everyone could build a better life, is no longer true. The greatest threat to Canada's prosperity today is government, not climate change. Any country faced with massive government interference can be brought to starvation. Blaming poverty on climate change not only lets the government off the hook for bad policy but also encourages the enactment of harmful, inhumane policies.
Today's poverty has little to do with climate change. The most commonly held characteristics of affluent countries are greater personal liberty, private property rights, the rule of law, and an economic system closer to capitalism than to Communism. That is the recipe for prosperity.
The first thing that hits Canadians when they look at the budget document is that there is no plan for balanced budgets. This is a socialist budget.
Economists and the marketplace are telling Canadians that we will be in a recession within the next 12 to 18 months that will significantly impact the underlying projections that budgets are based on, as well as the fact that the government has been wildly spending at a time when Canada should have continued with the balanced budget policy that was left to them by our previous Conservative government.
Compounding the recession that is coming are the foreign policy failures of the government, particularly the inability of the Prime Minister to manage trade policy, first with our largest trading partner, America, and the tariffs on lumber and steel, and then with the trans-Pacific partnership that was basically handed to the government by our previous Conservative government, ready to go, and now with China and the dispute that is causing our farmers to suffer.
The government may be optimistically predicting GDP growth over the next year; however, the external shock of not ratifying the new NAFTA deal, the loss of confidence in the stock market in how Canada is managed and the broader fallout of a U.S.-China trade war mean all bets are off when it comes to predicting the size and duration of any future recession.
Canadians understand that when government runs a deficit, particularly one of the size and duration we see today in the 2019 budget document and Bill C-97, it means the Liberal Party is basically handing the bill not just to the next generation but to generations after that. It is recognized that there will be a price someone will have to pay, and it will be our children, grandchildren and their children.
This budget is being likened to someone being bought a very expensive gift, only to find out it was their own credit card that was being used to pay for it. If the gift was a shirt, it would be made of cheap cloth and two sizes too small.
People who live in Ontario have seen this all before. Canadians who follow my speeches in the House of Commons will have been warned about disgraced former prime minister top aide Gerry Butts, who was forced to resign over his role in the SNC-Lavalin corruption scandal. As a principal political operative for Dalton McGuinty and whatever backroom dealings he had with McGuinty's defeated party replacement, by trashing the Ontario economy, disgraced former PMO operative Gerald Butts can share the credit for the Toronto Liberal policy of “heat or eat” among seniors and others on fixed incomes.
In Ottawa, “heat or eat” refers to the carbon tax.
Canadians would not be as familiar with Butts' close buddy, Ben Chin, until the SNC-Lavalin scandal exposed his backroom role in that sordid affair. During the former attorney general's testimony before the House of Commons justice committee, she mentioned two names. The disgraced Gerry Butts was mentioned five times, and the now-infamous Ben Chin seven times.
In Ottawa, Ben Chin is chief of staff to the finance minister. In his role as political commissar, as was made clear during the SNC-Lavalin testimony, Ben Chin is there to promote the interests of his party over the good of Canadians.
This is a critical point to raise during the budget implementation debate, as Canadians need to be aware of Ben Chin and whether the interference role he had in Toronto is now happening in Ottawa, and at what scale.
Mr. Chin joined the finance minister's office as senior adviser and worked with the minister on the rollout of the government's third budget. The decision to hire Mr. Chin for the top position in the finance minister's office suggests a desire on Gerald Butts' part for an individual to keep close tabs on the finance minister.
That change marked the second significant staffing move in the finance minister's office. Previously, the Prime Minister's policy adviser, Justin To, another of Butts' confidants named in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, was shifted from the Prime Minister's Office to take over as policy and budget director for the finance minister. Ben Chin played the same role with former principal secretary Gerald Butts in Toronto in the disgraced Dalton McGuinty regime: run interference.
Well-informed observer Parker Gallant said this in the blog “Energy Perspectives”:
For the benefit of those who didn’t follow Ontario politics during the McGuinty/Wynne era, it’s worth pointing out both Gerry Butts and Ben Chin played significant roles in Ontario, especially the ill-fated electricity file.
Butts is credited as the mastermind behind Dalton McGuinty’s election as Ontario’s Premier: Butts was, according to the Toronto Star, “the man they call ‘the brains behind the operation’ and policy architect of the Liberal government since 2003.”
Butts left the McGuinty government in mid-2008, after he and the Ontario Liberal team set the stage for the Green Energy Act, by pushing for renewable wind and solar projects and to close coal plants. Butts went off to lead the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) for four years before joining [the Prime Minister] as his political advisor.
The article continues:
Ben Chin, engaged as a “political advisor” to Dalton McGuinty, was the McGuinty candidate chosen to run against the NDP’s Peter Tabuns in a byelection in 2006. Chin lost, but returned as a “senior advisor” to Premier McGuinty’s office where he again worked with Gerry Butts. Chin left for the private sector and a short while later was hired back as Vice President Communications for the OPA (Ontario Power Authority). The OPA was the creation of Dwight Duncan when he was McGuinty’s Minister of Energy and became the Crown corporation to enact the myriad of things mired in the Green Energy & Green Economy Act (GEA).
Chin later became embroiled in the “gas plant” scandal as the Premier’s principal contact with the negotiating team dealing with TransCanada et al on compensation issues related to the cancellation. Ontario’s ratepayers know how that turned out! While Chin occupied his position with the OPA, [former executive director of the environmental group Energy Probe] Tom Adams and I were investigating the gas plant scandal by reviewing thousands of documents.
Mr. Gallant goes on:
The following reveals some of our findings in an article I wrote about the “smart grid” and a Brad Duguid directive.
Co-incidentally (noted by Tom Adams), the Duguid directive is dated the same day as the e-mail exchange between Alicia Johnston (formerly a senior political staffer for Energy Minister Brad Duguid, later promoted to the Premier’s Office) and Ben Chin (a senior Ontario Power Authority executive).
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will. The speech is in order because it will be setting the stage and the background for subdivision B of division 9 and subdivision G of division 9. The background is necessary in order to tie it all together.
Mr. Gallant's quote continues:
That e-mail exchange contained Ms Johnston’s suggestion to engage Tyler Hamilton, a contributor to Toronto Star, as an “expert” to counter the Adams and Gallant duo who “are killing me”; Chin agreed. Shortly after, Hamilton received a contract from the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) for a report on the smart grid.
According to former Pollution Probe executive director Tom Adams:
In July 2011, Tyler Hamilton, a Toronto Star journalist then taking government cash under the table to promote its smart grid agenda, published a “news” report in the Toronto Star extolling the relationship between Air Miles and the [Ontario Power Authority]. As usual, Hamilton failed to disclose to his readers his then ongoing financial relation with the Ontario government energy programs.
As revealed through the gas scandal disclosures, in November 2010 Chin had proposed that Hamilton be “engaged for central” to aid with rebutting criticism of the government’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act.
...Chin also described Hamilton’s journalism as part of the intellectual foundation for Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act.
Ben Chin’s electricity career helps to illuminate the real purposes driving those with their hands on the levers of power in Ontario’s electricity system. Practical solutions to Ontario’s energy problems were never the focus for the team Chin played for. Weaving his way around the in-house and outsourced government sector, Chin was engineering a conservation PR culture. At the same time as the “Count Me In” program was being formulated, Ontario was establishing itself as a massive electricity exporter, selling enough discounted and often free power to neighbouring jurisdictions to power substantial cities. To the extent that the conservation promotions and subsidies Chin worked on actually reduced usage in Ontario, the benefits were mostly captured by neighbour utilities. The conservation PR that Chin was engineering was focused on a different kind of power.
I have more from the Energy Perspectives blog, and then I will be back on this one. It states:
The spin emanating from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Prime Minister himself is not all that different than what we were hearing several years ago during the gas plant scandals days. ...
Those two unelected individuals (Butts and Chin) originally involved in the Ontario electricity muddle now find themselves named as two (out of eleven) of the bullies pressuring [the former justice minister] to grant SNC-Lavalin a DPA (deferred prosecution agreement). In the case of the [Green Energy Act] and the gas plant scandal it took much longer to surface in the public eye than the current [SNC-Lavalin] scandal so it would appear the Chin/Butts team has lost some of the spin abilities they displayed in the past.
From the former attorney general, I quote:
On Sept. 20, my chief of staff had phone calls with Mr. Chin and Justin To, both members of the Minister of Finance’s office, about DPAs and SNC. ...
...Gerry talked to me about how the statute was a statute was passed by [former Conservative prime minister] Harper and that he does not like the law. I said something like that is the law that we have. ...
The foregoing led to the former attorney general saying this:
I will now read to you a transcript of the most relevant sections of a text conversation between my chief of staff and me almost immediately after that meeting.
Jessica: “Basically, they want a solution. Nothing new. They want external counsel retained to give you an opinion on whether you can review the DPP’s decision here and whether you should in this case.... I told them that would be interference. Gerry said, 'Jess, there is no solution here that does not involve some interference.' At least they are finally being honest about what they are asking you to do! Don’t care about the PPSC’s independence. Katie was like 'we don’t want to debate legalities anymore....' They keep being like 'we aren’t lawyers, but there has to be some solution here.' ”
I—MOJAG—texted: “So where were things left?”
Jessica: “So unclear. I said I would of course let you know about the conversation and they said they were going to 'kick the tires' with a few people on this tonight. The Clerk was waiting outside when I left. But they said that they want to set up a call between you and the Prime Minister and the Clerk tomorrow. I said that of course you would be happy to speak to your boss! They seem quite keen on the idea of you retaining an ex Supreme Court of Canada judge to get advice on this. Katie Telford thinks it gives us cover in the business community and the legal community, and that it would allow the Prime Minister to say we were doing something. She was like 'If Jody is nervous, we would of course line up all kinds of people to write OpEds saying that what she is doing is proper.' ”
The foregoing highlights the unmitigated gall of two unelected individuals who, for whatever reasons, see themselves as kingmakers, much as they did for the McGuinty government—
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
Mr. Speaker, I paused for a moment to focus on the Prime Minister's chief of staff reference to lining up some amateur journalists to write up some fake news, such as the Ben Chin-Gerald Butts duo that had lined up Tyler Hamilton during the Ontario Green Energy Act. I am saying that what happened then is happening now.
A prominent CBC reporter not only recently confirmed being used to distribute the fake news stories, he followed up with a story about another global warming report, which is being used by the Liberal Party to justify its new carbon tax, while it desperately gropes to change the political channel to the weather channel.
The purpose of this is to put on the record the inner workings of the Prime Minister's Office, as it cynically manipulates some hidden agenda that has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with another Liberal insider, rich at the expense of ordinary hard-working Canadians.
When it comes to the government's budget implementation bill or the budget itself, nothing is to be believed. In 2019, there is a sense among Canadians that the promise of progress, the idea that with hard work that everyone can build a better life is no longer true.
When we look through the budget implementation bill, we see something very peculiar. We see that subdivision B of division 9 of part 4 would amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act to allow for the addition, by regulation, nothing to do with MPs representing their people, of units of measurement for electricity and gas sales and distribution. The Liberals are also amending the Weights and Measures Act to authorize by regulation the use of new units of—
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
View Pierre-Luc Dusseault Profile
2019-04-10 16:58 [p.26952]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to add my voice to the debate that just began on Bill C-97, another budget implementation bill from the Liberal government.
I rise for the first time as the finance critic for the New Democratic Party. I thank my leader, the member for Burnaby South, for trusting me and for granting me the privilege of serving in the NDP caucus on issues related to finances and the economy as well as on tax issues, as I already do in my role as critic for national revenue.
I am very pleased to be able to continue the fight for greater social, fiscal and even environmental justice, just as we have been doing for quite some time now. That is extremely important to me.
Unfortunately, I must say, this bill falls quite short of the expectations we had, on this side of the House, as well as the expectations of most Canadians. It falls far short of what we would expect from the Liberal government, which has failed to fulfill the promises it made during the election campaign.
It is all the more disappointing because we are debating the Liberal government's last budget implementation bill. This is the government's last real opportunity to implement its legislative proposals for moving our country forward. I am very disappointed that several of the Liberal government's promised initiatives are not found in this bill. The Liberal government will definitely not keep certain promises. In the next election campaign, the Liberals will have to defend why they are keeping Canadians waiting for beneficial and important measures that would improve the lives of most of our constituents. I am truly disappointed, even though some measures have been implemented.
It is difficult to examine such a huge bill. I will reiterate the comments of my colleague from Vancouver East, who earlier called this an omnibus bill. I, too, consider this to be an omnibus bill because of its nature, the variety of laws affected and the fact that many of these measures are not found in the budget document presented to the House on March 19.
Mr. Speaker, I hope that you will consider the points my colleague raised to show that this is an omnibus bill that meets the criteria set out in the new rules of the House of Commons.
I hope that parliamentarians will be able to have their say through separate votes, at the very least. This would allow us to make decisions as parliamentarians and do our jobs properly. It is very difficult for a member of Parliament to vote on a wide range of measures. We may agree with some and not others, but at the end of the day we have to make a choice.
We have to choose between measures that may be good but are connected to bad budget measures or bad legislative measures, which means that we are forced to oppose the entire document. I hope that the Chair will decide to divide this bill so that there will be several votes, which would allow us to better represent our constituents on such important issues. I am confident that we will be able to make good decisions.
Moving on from the form of this bill, I would like to talk about the content. This budget misses the mark and is in keeping with the trend we have seen in recent years and more obviously in recent months and days: putting the wealthy and Liberal Party cronies above all else. Lobbyists have direct access to the Prime Minister's Office, and the second they knock at the door or make a call, they get what they want. The office does everything it can to make them happy.
This budget is a continuation of the Liberals' policy to benefit the party's friends, insiders and donors, like SNC-Lavalin and Loblaws, which have joined the list of companies in the Liberal government's good graces. I could also mention KPMG and big pharma, which still have considerable influence in the Prime Minister's Office. Lastly, we cannot forget Kinder Morgan, the big, Houston-based oil company that pocketed $4.5 billion of Canadian taxpayers' money.
These kinds of actions give us a glimpse of a party's and a government's true values. This budget is essentially the continuation of a policy to benefit wealthy insiders. It obviously does not benefit the ordinary Canadians who truly need help. These people are struggling every day, every week and every month to make ends meet.
Pharmacare is one important element that is nowhere to be found in this bill even though it is an obvious and easy solution that people have been talking about for years. The Liberals have been promising pharmacare for over 20 years, but today, the parliamentary secretary talked about doing things the right way, studying the matter before taking action, laying the groundwork to create ideal conditions and setting up an advisory council before creating a universal pharmacare program. They have been promising that for 20 years. No more excuses. This is long overdue, but the government keeps saying that it is too soon to take action on this file because the conditions are not ideal yet.
People in Sherbrooke have talked to me about being unable to get some of their prescription drugs. One of my constituents has to take three drugs prescribed by his doctor, but because he cannot afford all three, he had to ask his pharmacist which one was the most important. That is an everyday reality for people in Sherbrooke and elsewhere in Canada. In this budget implementation bill, the government is telling people they will have to keep waiting even though everyone who has studied the problem agrees on the solutions. The government is still asking people to choose between medication and food or medication and rent.
Sadly, the government lacks the courage of its convictions. It refuses to stand up to the big pharmaceutical and insurance companies that object to this idea. These are the actions that show us where the Liberal government stands, namely on the side of the companies. These companies are resisting efforts to create a pharmacare program, because they see it as a threat to their bottom line. Everyone knows that drug and insurance companies are immensely profitable, and they are afraid of losing some of their market share, which would hurt their profits.
Once again, the Liberals are siding with big business over Canadians, who just want access to quality medication so they can heal and participate fully and actively in the economy. A healthy population means lower costs for the provincial health care systems, which are straining at the seams.
This is another example of the Liberal government's wait-and-see approach and its habit of putting off important decisions. Powerful lobbies are influencing the Prime Minister's Office and shutting down any good ideas that could hurt their bottom line.
Another thing the bill fails to mention is the environment. I brought this up earlier. The environment is the single most important issue for our generation and our society, especially now in 2019. It was already very important, but it is even more critical today. The environment is virtually a non-factor in the bill. As I was saying earlier, this bill is the Liberals' last chance to take a stand before the election, to propose meaningful and hopefully bold legislation. However, with respect to the environment, they are proposing a few paltry measures here and there. They are proposing measures for purchases of electric vehicles and renovation projects. Given the scale of the problem, these measures are grossly insufficient.
This clearly demonstrates that the Liberals are siding with large corporations on this issue. The major oil companies are still getting subsidies, and just recently they benefited from a $4.5-billion cheque. A single company got that big of a cheque from Canadian taxpayers, from the government. Once again, the government is saying that we need to put off any changes to oil subsidies. The Liberals have put that off until later, probably until after the election, if they are lucky enough to get re-elected and if we do not take their place. That is the reality of a wait-and-see government.
The government wants to put off these changes until later. Major lobby groups have been putting pressure on the government. Billionaire oil companies are getting cheques from the government and keeping their subsidies. Bill C-97 would have been a good opportunity to put an end to shameful oil subsidies that are being condemned around the world. Other countries have taken action to end oil subsidies. This is yet another example of a government putting the interests of large corporations above those of ordinary Canadians. Canadians deserve as much attention as the large corporations are getting from the Liberal government.
The most recent example of this is the famous $12-million subsidy. That is a lot of money. We tend to forget sometimes how much money we are really talking about. A significant amount of money, $12 million, was given to a highly profitable company, Loblaws. That is how the government chooses to fight climate change. It invests in companies that have all the money in the world. If there is a grocery store that has the means to buy itself some fridges, it is certainly Loblaws. In every one of our ridings there are grocery stores that are struggling to make ends meet every month. They want to pay their employees well and provide good working conditions. They see the government caving to pressure from multinationals like Loblaws and giving them the money they need to replace their refrigerators. It is so frustrating for taxpayers, businesses, small grocers, or any business that wants to become greener and invest in improving their energy efficiency, to see that corporations are the ones getting the subsidies to upgrade their refrigerators. It is the right thing to do, but the government chose the wrong target.
I also want to mention some of the proposed measures in the budget that are just half-measures. In some cases, it might be a step in the right direction. However, in other cases, the government again hits the wrong target.
There is the home buyers plan, which allows home buyers to withdraw some money from their RRSPs to invest in buying a house. The government told us that this measure will help millennials access home ownership. We recognize the importance of encouraging access to home ownership. In fact, we also proposed something to that effect in the past few weeks.
The national housing crisis must be addressed. It is clearly an important and serious issue for our country. The Liberals' solution involves expanding the home buyers' plan, allowing people to withdraw $10,000 more from their RRSPs to use as a down payment, raising the limit from $25,000 to $35,000.
Maybe some of my colleagues had young people in their ridings come and knock on their doors to say that $25,000 from their RRSPs was not enough and they needed more, $35,000, in order to buy a house. That makes no sense.
Perhaps some members will tell me that happened to them, but most young people who come to see me are not telling me they need more money from their RRSPs. They are telling me that they simply do not have any money to put towards a down payment, that they simply cannot afford to buy a house. It is not about their RRSPs or how much they can withdraw. I do not know how the Liberals came up with that solution. On top of that, they claim to be targeting millennials.
This may benefit some people who want to buy their first property, but it is certainly not something that will help millennials, given that statistics show that only 35% of them have RRSPs. It makes no sense to target this measure at millennials.
The bill also amends the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. This clearly does not meet the expectations of many unions and stakeholders involved in this important file, who want pensions to be protected from unscrupulous executives who will do anything to get their hands on as much money as possible before declaring bankruptcy.
What the government failed to do in this bill was change the creditors' priority ranking. It was the government's last chance to change creditors' order of priority in a budget implementation bill. It was an opportunity to put employees, their pensions, their salaries and their benefits first in the priority ranking. However, the government again chose to side with big business and lobbyists, who argued that it would not be good for the economy. They told the government not to give priority to employees because it would stifle investment. The government always gives in to these types of arguments by lobbyists who knock at the Prime Minister's door. Sears executives would like us to believe that they acted in good faith. That was another missed opportunity.
Another missed opportunity here has to do with student debt. The government says it will postpone collecting interest on student debt. That is how the government plans to help students drowning in debt once they complete their studies.
The government could support those students and help them become homeowners, as mentioned earlier, but no, students will continue to pay interest on their student loans, on what they owe the federal government. The government had one last opportunity to do something but missed it.
The Liberals are squandering their last chance. They are going to tell Canadians to wait a bit longer, but I think the last four years have proven to Canadians that whatever the Liberals say during a campaign is not worth much at all. The Liberals have had four years to make these changes and deliver on their promises, but they have clearly failed to do so. They have helped the rich at the expense of ordinary Canadians who really need help. It is a great shame those ordinary Canadians must suffer the consequences. The government is telling them to keep holding their breath.
That is unfortunate and is the reason why Canadians will have to choose another economic vision, another vision for our country, a vision for an energy transition, a true vision for the environment, a true vision for pharmacare, a true vision for housing, a true vision for helping people who are really in need. Canadians are going to have to choose people who will stand up to the big oil and economic interests of multinationals, which try to get everything they want from the Prime Minister's Office. Canadians will have people who stand with them.
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