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View Sébastien Lemire Profile
Mr. Speaker, for your reference, I will start by reminding you of my interventions from yesterday.
First, our unwillingness to support the free trade agreement is largely due to the threat of outsourcing that mining industries are facing. The government talks about possible compensation for the industry as if this is something that would benefit the industry. Even if the industry does receive that money, 60,000 jobs could be in jeopardy, because there is no guarantee that the money would reach Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean or the North Shore.
Second, this agreement does nothing to address the softwood lumber issue. Thirty thousand jobs are at stake, and we are struggling to save our villages. Many villages, especially in my riding, are depending on these issues and free trade deals, which do not protect the softwood lumber industry. This can be a difficult situation.
As for supply management, the whole issue of income stability is a major challenge for farmers. They need to be able to predict their income, but the loopholes that have been created in supply management are making things hard for them. We are increasingly seeing quotas being sold off.
When my speech was interrupted, I was saying that the United States is imposing limitations on our negotiations with other world markets. I think that, if we adopted an amendment to change that penalty, we will at least have saved our right to do trade with who we want and thus preserved our sovereignty.
There are 10,000 dairy farms in Canada, including 5,600 in Quebec. That is a major industry that employs 83,000 people, either directly or indirectly, and generates over $1 billion in taxes for the Government of Quebec. The industry is not asking for any direct subsidies. It is a matter of pride, and unfortunately, the decisions on compensation will take advantage of that. Dairy producers do not want the government's charity. They want to be independent and successful. Their prosperity is essential to the vitality of the agricultural life of the small family farms scattered around Quebec's towns and villages.
In closing, in my opinion, Quebec is the big loser in this agreement. The compensation was provided at Quebec's expense. The Government of Canada says that it wants us to work together and that it is reaching out to us. That implies being open to Quebec's demands. It is therefore irresponsible to sign this agreement without adding protections for supply management and aluminum and without putting an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
Could Canada listen to the solutions proposed by Quebec? For now, it it is obvious that the federal government has once again abandoned Quebec's economy.
View Alain Therrien Profile
View Alain Therrien Profile
2019-12-09 15:22 [p.109]
Mr. Speaker, I was talking about health transfer payments. I explained in detail that the provinces are dependent on funds from Ottawa, and they have been since the beginning of Confederation. Federal government transfers flow to the provinces so that they can do their job. Over time, however, transfers have continued to diminish so that the government can download the deficits to the provinces, as we saw in the nineties, or overload them with standards and conditions to go back to the basic notion that centralizing power was what the Fathers of Confederation intended and that the goal of federal spending is precisely to accomplish that almost-solemn mission.
There was no mention of the single income tax return in the Speech from the Throne. On May 15, 2018, the National Assembly unanimously voted in favour of a single income tax return that the Quebec government alone would oversee and administer. I know the motion was passed unanimously because I moved it myself. At the time, the Prime Minister quipped that the National Assembly rarely agrees unanimously on anything, but we saw it happen with the single income tax return. Was that mentioned? No, it was not.
There is some hope, however, since our Conservative colleagues believe in the same cause. If the NDP or the Liberals were to help us, we could create a single tax return administered by Quebec, much to the delight of the Quebec National Assembly and Quebeckers. A recent survey shows that 65% of Quebeckers support a single tax return administered by Quebec. The only study that has been done estimates annual savings of $425 million. Not only will this save money, but it will also save time, since Quebeckers will be able to do their taxes faster.
The Liberal government and the NDP always use the argument of job losses in the Jonquière and Shawinigan regions, and they say those losses would be drastic. Yes, jobs would be lost. Is that an argument for axing the plan? No. According to the Minister of National Revenue, 5,300 jobs in Quebec involve administering Quebeckers' income taxes for the federal government. Transferring those responsibilities to the Quebec government would create 2,332 jobs doing the same work for the Quebec government. The Quebec government could easily ensure that those jobs remain in Shawinigan and Jonquière. The other employees could work on tackling tax evasion or managing web giants like GAFA. Those jobs would pay for themselves.
As there is a shortage of workers in the federal public service, those people could easily go work for the federal government. Given that 4% of public servants retire every year and that it will take four years to transfer the federal government's responsibilities to the Quebec government, there will be more than 800 jobs to be filled. Clearly, there will be no job losses.
Which Liberal or NDP members will join the Quebec consensus that there will be no jobs lost?
Our consensus is that the public service will save $287 million and that Quebeckers who file a single tax return will save time. Who can argue with that?
The Bloc Québécois is expecting a positive response. We are ready to have discussions to promote this great idea.
We know that Quebec is not responsible for managing its representation abroad.
We would have liked the document to make a clear statement on ending the loopholes in supply management. We would like Quebec farmers to no longer be used as a bargaining chip to promote the auto industry in Ontario, or the beef industry in the west. We would like these people to be respected and to never again be directly attacked or have money taken out of their pockets, because they work very hard and deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
I would reiterate in closing that I began my speech with a bit of history. Something has changed since the creation of the Canadian Confederation. At the time, Canada's motto was “from sea to sea”. Unfortunately, now it is “drill, baby, drill”.
Sadly, in western Canada, the economy today is concentrated on a single sector. It is not diversified enough. We have to help the west diversify. What people need to realize is that oil dependency is not just an issue for western Canada. It is an issue for the banks as well. Around the world, five of the 12 banks that are currently investing the most in oil are Canadian. The Canadian economy is heavily involved in oil.
There is one party here that says we need to produce more oil. It has the advantage of being honest and saying what it really thinks. There is another party that plays around with definitions and contradictions in an attempt to put us to sleep. It says it supports this, but not too much. It does not mention oil, the “elephant in the room”, as my colleague put it earlier, in the throne speech. It talks about climate change, whereas the oil issue goes in the complete opposite direction.
We need a clear-eyed understanding. If we want to undertake an energy transition, we simply cannot promote oil. Some people are saying that we should change the Constitution, that it is an old model that does not work well and is of no use to us anymore. I explained the problems with that earlier.
I want the House to know that the Bloc Québécois and Quebeckers do not want to play this game anymore. To paraphrase Jean Garon, changing a comma in the Canadian Constitution would be about as easy as scratching my forehead with my front teeth. We quit.
What will the Bloc do? The Bloc is here to stand up for farmers, to defend Quebec's territory so that no pipelines are built on it without our permission. The Bloc is here to stand up for our cultural community, which is being attacked by web giants. It will stand up for the Davie shipyard and its extraordinary workers, who have demonstrated the quality of their work time and time again. We will defend the energy transition to ensure that our young people have a healthy future in an extraordinary environment.
That is the mission of the Bloc Québécois. We will do that work on behalf of Quebec. We will work hard until, one day, Quebec becomes a country.
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