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View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, I want to start my remarks today by asserting my strong support for the principles of free trade. The original NAFTA, brought in by a Conservative government, led generations of economic growth between our three countries. This agreement is important, and I support it in principle. However, due to Liberal mismanagement, this deal is not what it could have been. It is fraught with shortcomings that will put many sectors of the Canadian economy at risk, but investment in our country depends on certainty, and this deal provides more certainty than we have now.
Under the current Liberal government, business investment has stalled and been driven south due to aggressive American tax cuts. Canada needs to compete, and it is clear that the government has no interest in competing on taxes after repeatedly raising them. Our economy depends on the certainty that comes with a trade deal. This deal, like all deals, is not perfect, and if the Liberals do think that the Conservatives are simply going to rubber-stamp it, they are sorely mistaken.
Many of my colleagues have been highlighting the deficiencies in this agreement, but I want to look at one that has not been talked about as much but is crucial for the future of Canadian creativity and economic growth: copyright protection. Much of the last year on the industry committee we studied Canada's copyright framework, and what changes could be made to improve it. We tabled that report, and I am very proud of all the hard work that went into it. I hope the government accepts almost all the recommendations. One thing we did not recommend was to extend Canada's general copyright term from the life of the author plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. Canada's copyright term is compliant with the Berne Convention and has served us well. It is my opinion that the exclusive rights to a work being held for 50 years after an author's death is entirely appropriate and sufficient. Extending that term is not.
During the copyright study, we heard from many viewpoints about extending copyright term. Many were in favour and many were opposed. At the same time, we knew that the text of the USMCA required Canada to adopt the longer American copyright term. This was not a surprise, as that was contained in the Trans-Pacific Partnership prior to the U.S. pulling out from that deal. I thus expected the text of the USMCA- or CUSMA-enabling legislation we are debating today to contain the extension of the general copyright term. Much to my shock and relief, no such extension is in this bill. There are aspects that extend term in some areas such as sound recording and cinematographic works. There is no general extension to life plus 70.
I do not think that this battle is over, as the transitional period means term extension will likely be in the eventual Copyright Act reform that comes from the committee report, but for now the term will be maintained. I hope the government reads the report from the industry committee and seeks to mitigate the damage to Canadian copyright law that comes from the USMCA.
Why is extending the term not the right move? It is because if Canada extends our general term by 20 years, that will create a 20-year black hole in which no works will enter the public domain. For two decades, no work will become open for Canadians to access it in any format they wish without the permission of the rights holder. This will cast a chill on a large amount of innovation and creativity in our country.
The purpose of copyright was to make sure that creators of a work could enjoy the benefits of their hard work and creativity without someone else stealing it. Protecting that work for the creator's entire life, and for 50 additional years so that their descendants could profit off the work, is a good idea. When we are talking about adding 20 more years, we start to blur the purpose of copyright.
No artist is deciding not to create art because only three generations of their descendants, instead of four, may hold the rights to that art. To suggest otherwise is an absurd proposition. Artists create because they love what they do and want to put their art into the world. The only reason to further extend copyright is to ensure rights holders, often large corporations, can continue to profit off that intellectual property for decades.
In the past, I have been tempted to call the government a Mickey Mouse operation, but that would not be fair. Mickey Mouse runs a hyper-efficient and effective operation when it comes to expanding copyright protections. “Efficient and effective” are words that I would never use to describe the government.
Any time the copyright on early Disney cartoons is due to lapse, the U.S. Congress just extends them. It happened in 1976, the year I was born. It happened again in 1998 and will probably happen again in a few years.
Extending the copyright term is not about protecting artists. It is about protecting large companies that own the rights for decades after the artist's death. To see the impact large corporations can have, utilizing intellectual property law, we only need to look to my riding in the Okanagan Valley.
A small, family-run coffee shop that has operated for five years now has to change its name because of a lawsuit from a multibillion dollar company. I believe it could win if the shop fought it, but it literally cannot compete with such a giant corporation, as it would be far too expensive for this family. That is the risk in further expanding intellectual property powers for rights holders. They can use them to bludgeon small business and independent creators.
Respected Canadian copyright expert Jeremy de Beer, who presented to the Copyright Act review, stated that the trade agreement's intellectual property chapter was “an American win”. Thankfully, despite Liberal mismanagement of the negotiations, Canada was able to salvage the notice and notice regime and avoid implementing an American-style enforcement mechanism, which should not happen.
Over the coming months and years, we will have to work as a body to try to mitigate the damage from the intellectual property chapter in this agreement to which the Liberals agreed. I can only hope we ensure that Canadian and international content remains open and accessible and that innovation and creativity does not suffer serious hardship.
Canadian copyright law has managed to be distinct from, and I believe in many respects superior to, American law. Unfortunately, with this agreement, that will no longer be the case. This deal contains a forced alignment of our framework to the American one, and the Canadian consumers and creators will be worse off because of it.
Another topic I want to speak about today is one that is incredibly important to my riding, softwood lumber. Earlier this year, we watched over 200 jobs disappear in Kelowna, British Columbia as the decades-old Tolko lumber mill closed. This also hits independent logging contractors and all their suppliers and third-party business owners, and those are small businesses. Yet, there was not a word from the Liberal government about softwood lumber. There was not a word in the mandate letter to the Minister of Natural Resources in 2015 nor again in this mandate.
When the Prime Minister recently had a conference call with B.C. Premier John Horgan, guess what subject never came up? Softwood lumber. Why is that? Why is the Liberal government constantly silent on softwood? Let us not forget that with a lack of a deal, we now see Canadian lumber companies setting up shop and investing in the United States. That is jobs and opportunities lost while the Liberal government looks the other way. That is why free trade is important.
If we are not competitive and we get it wrong, it is our trading partners who will benefit at our expense. That is why this deal is flawed. That is why, despite its obvious shortcomings on copyright, on softwood lumber, I will support the bill moving to committee.
View Dan Albas Profile
Madam Speaker, let me say, as I probably rise for the last time in this Parliament, how honoured I am to represent the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, how much I have learned from my colleagues here, but also how invigorated I am by the greatness of this country and my commitment to work hard for the people I represent.
As I join this debate today, I feel compelled to make a few observations. To be clear, Canada did not ask to be put in this position. However, as we know, the U.S. election resulted in a new administration, with a mandate, among other things, to renegotiate NAFTA. That is where all of this started.
I think we can all agree that this particular renegotiated agreement resulted in an outcome that is less than ideal, but of course, it could have been much worse. Many concessions were made, and we still have unresolved issues, such as the lack of a deal for Canadian softwood lumber, something that is critically important to my riding.
Ultimately, it is not a secret that the official opposition will be supporting this deal. Unlike the third party, we do believe it is better than no deal. However, that does not mean that there are not some lessons to be learned here.
To me, it is deeply troubling that the Prime Minister went into these negotiations with his usual theme of demanding things that are all about building his brand and appealing to his base of supporters. In other words, the Prime Minister thought he saw an opportunity to score some political points and feed the brand. This is not unlike what he tried to do when he approached China.
In both cases, he failed miserably. Why would he not fail miserably? Would we as Canadians accept another leader trying to push his or her own values onto us? We simply would not accept that. What nation would? However, that is precisely what the Prime Minister attempted to to. Some may call this arrogance. Whatever we call it, it was easily foreseeable that it was a path to failure.
However, the Prime Minister did not care and went about his virtue-signalling anyway, so we ended up on the sidelines: Canada, a world leader, on the sidelines. There we were, on the sidelines with our biggest trading partner, while Mexico was in the driver's seat, getting the deal done.
Here is the thing. Mexico did get it done. Let us look at its approach. Mexico did not use the trade negotiations as some sort of domestic political opportunity to score points. Mexico did not use this as an opportunity for virtue-signalling. Mexico did not have a lead minister giving a speech within the United States of America that took veiled potshots at the U.S. administration. Mexico discussed issues related to trade and did so professionally. It is easy to see why that approach worked so well for it.
Our approach, led by the Prime Minister, was a complete failure. It did not have to be that way. I can tell colleagues that, on this side of the House, we would have taken a much different approach. I am actually quite confident that there are members on the government side of the House, whom I have worked with at various committees, who I suspect would have also taken a much different approach. I believe it is important to reflect on these things so that we can learn from them.
Canada should never again be in a situation where we are sitting on the sidelines with our greatest trading partner, while Mexico is driving the bus. I hope that is one thing we can all agree on. Perhaps that is why we are now hearing the name of Mark Carney, because there are other Liberals who feel the same way.
Now we have a new deal. Whether it is called the new NAFTA, NAFTA 0.5, USMCA, CUSMA, or whatever, there is something we should all think about. Recently, Jack Mintz wrote a very good piece on investment fleeing Canada. Members who have read the article would know that it debunks some Liberal talking points that had been carefully cherry-picked.
As an example, yes, investment in Canada was up in 2018. However, that sounds good until we consider that it was up from 2017, and 2017 was an absolute disaster of a year. Even in 2018, it was still below where things were in 2015. Yes, I mean that 2015.
Yes, investment in the U.S.A. is down, but that is outside investment. There is a large increase in U.S. domestic capital now staying in the United States. This means it is not coming to Canada.
Why should we care about that? Let us look at our automotive sector. Yes, there is still some investment in Canada, but there is considerably more occurring in the United States and Mexico. Mexico, in particular, has been a hot spot for automotive investment. Let us think about that. Mexico has no carbon tax. It has no new and enhanced CPP causing premiums and payroll taxes to increase every month. Much of its industrial power is cheap, and I would even say it is dirty.
CUSMA does more to address some of those issues than the NAFTA deal it replaces, but we also have to recognize that foreign investment in Canada is not the rose garden the Liberals are trying to suggest it is. This is a deal among three countries. If we become the most expensive, most regulated and most inefficient country to do business in, we lose collectively as a country.
The Prime Minister can continue to be virtuous. He can continue to ask people to pay just a little bit more. He can continue to lecture others for not sharing his values. However, at the end of the day, none of those things are going to attract the investment we need to make the most of this deal.
While we are on the subject of trade, I note that last week, during question period in this place, the Prime Minister vilified former prime minister Harper close to a dozen times. As the Liberals' good friend Warren Kinsella recently pointed out, the Prime Minister is looking “for an enemy to demonize”.
I mention that because the former Conservative government of Mr. Harper concluded more free trade agreements than any prime minister in the modern era. It is not as if the Liberals, or the Prime Minister, would be unaware of this, because they sat in this place during the last Parliament and voted in support of all those new trade agreements, yet the Prime Minister turns around and vilifies the former prime minister, who has a demonstrably more successful record on trade agreements.
However, perhaps that is preferable to talking about the lack of progress on Canadian softwood. I looked up on the Open Parliament website how many times the Prime Minister has even mentioned the word “softwood”. The answer is 18 times since 2016. The vast majority of those times were only because he was answering questions on softwood lumber asked by the opposition.
How many times has he referenced Stephen Harper? It is 190 times, and it will probably be more than 200 after today's question period. With the Prime Minister's priorities so focused on vilifying Mr. Harper instead of focusing on softwood lumber, is it any wonder he has made zero progress on this file?
Why do I point this out? I point this out because lumber mills are closing all across British Columbia at an alarming rate. My riding has lost lumber mills. I know first-hand what that does to a small rural community. It is devastating. However, there is complete silence from the Prime Minister regarding softwood lumber unless he is asked about it by the opposition in this place. Why? Maybe it is because he is too busy vilifying Mr. Harper.
In my view, that is not acceptable. B.C. forest workers deserve better. They deserve to know that they have a prime minister in Ottawa working to reach a softwood lumber deal.
I sometimes wonder whether, if Mexico had a vibrant softwood lumber sector, we would now have a deal done by extension as well. It is clear that Mexico has a more effective track record in these negotiations than the brand-first approach of the Prime Minister.
To summarize, we did not ask to be in this situation, clearly. However, I believe the approach taken by the Prime Minister to try to use this as a political opportunity was deeply flawed and made a bad situation worse.
Again, as evidence of that, I say to look no further than the approach taken by Mexico and the success that it had while we sat on the sidelines.
I have raised this point with ministers of the Crown. They told us that the meetings between the United States and Mexico were simply on bilateral issues that had nothing to do with Canada. However, they came out with a trilateral agreement, and Canada had a take-it-or-leave-it moment.
Despite the many concessions that the Prime Minister has made on this file, we can still make the most of it, but only if we recognize that we need to be more competitive. We have a regulatory environment in which things can get done in Canada. Many people have raised alarm bells, particularly the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and not just about the lack of investment but also the ability to get things done.
The Leader of the Opposition today clearly asked the Prime Minister several times for the date for the Trans Mountain pipeline. The Prime Minister promised the Trans Mountain pipeline, one of the most important projects on the deck and one of the only ones on the deck, would go forward to help build the national interest, but the Prime Minister cannot give a date.
Originally, the Liberals said that it would be operating this calendar year. Again, I would submit that one need to look no further than the Trans Mountain pipeline as evidence as to where the challenges are. It has been four years, and still there is not a shovel in the ground. The fact that the Liberal government had to buy the project to save Kinder Morgan from the embarrassment of not being able to build it in a timely manner is all part of the problem. The fact that today even the government has serious challenges in trying to navigate the process to get it done is telling. Does anyone seriously believe that Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 will make it easier to invest in Canada?
The Prime Minister says that tankers can operate totally safely in one part of British Columbia and in other parts of Canada, but are so dangerous in another part of British Columbia that they must be banned. Does anyone seriously think that makes sense? In fact, a number of the senators in the other place have commented on the lack of scientific evidence on Bill C-48. The committee that studied it in depth recommended that the bill not proceed.
The approaches of the current government do not reconcile. These are the types of mixed messages that are just not helpful. However, I remain hopeful that we can become more competitive and that as we move forward, we can ultimately try to fully capitalize on this agreement despite the many concessions.
I would like to close on a more positive note, and I will add a few positive observations.
As we have established many times and in many areas, Canada and Canadians can compete and succeed against the very best in the world. As legislators, it is our job to ensure that they have a level playing field and unrestricted market access to do so. Therefore, I will vote in favour of this agreement as, ultimately, it will provide these opportunities.
However, I must say one more time that until we have full, unfettered free trade within Canada's borders, we are, as a country, not owning up to the promise of Confederation, and that falls on us. It falls upon the provinces that have not allowed Canada to become not just a political union but an economic one.
This will be my last speech in the 42nd Parliament, and I would like to share a few words on a personal note.
We all share the collective honour of being elected members of this place, and our families all share the sacrifice for the many times that we cannot be there for them. It is my hope that our families, particularly our young ones, understand that in this place our collective desire to build a better country starts and ends with them. I would like thank all families of parliamentarians for their understanding and support.
I would also like to share a word with other members of this place. It is so unfortunate that much of the work we do here is often summarized by many Canadians as what transpires in question period. Much of the most important work that we do collectively happens at committee.
On that note, I would like to sincerely thank the many members I have worked with on various committees. Everyone I have worked with shares the same commitment to help ensure that the federal government provides the best level of governance possible. We may disagree on programs, projects and approaches, but I have found that we share a commitment to making these programs work best for Canadians.
A final point I would like to make should not be lost by any of us. The former Conservative government introduced a program to provide supports for kids directly to their parents. At the time, the Liberal opposition mocked it, ridiculed it, and suggested that parents would simply blow the money they received on beer and popcorn, but when the Liberals formed their majority government in 2015, they did not kill that program. Liberals saw the merits of it and saw that it was working so they made improvements to it, and now it is working even more effectively. I wish to commend them yet again for that.
That is an example of two very different governments coming up with a program and finding ways to improve it to ensure that it helps support Canadian families.
Trade is similar. After all, we are a nation of traders. We need to have these things that make us collectively prosper, that allow us to build stronger ties and relationships and provide the security and the sense of certainty that it takes for someone to start a business or for a country to get behind a new program. These are great examples of the work that we do when we are here on behalf of Canadians.
Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the time you spend in the chair. I am sure there are many different ways you would rather spend your time than listening to me, but I do appreciate the work you do and I am sure my constituents do as well. I look forward to the challenges in the upcoming months and in the questions and comments I will hear from my fellow colleagues.
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2019-06-19 17:09 [p.29415]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on the new NAFTA. Before I start, I would like to point out that I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
Let me take the time to highlight, first and foremost, our government's record on international trade. Consecutive governments have talked about trade diversification and trade expansion, but most governments have failed. I acknowledge that the previous government, under Mr. Harper, had started some negotiations, but unfortunately, it was not able to close the deals. When it came to the free trade agreement CETA, while the Conservatives started the negotiations, they could not close the deal. When it came to the CPTPP, the Conservatives negotiated the previous agreement known as TPP, but it failed. It took our government's leadership and our Prime Minister's leadership to renegotiate it to include progressive, inclusive elements and revive it, improve it and ratify it.
Canada is a trading nation. One out of six Canadian jobs is related to trade. Our government has recognized the value of trade. However, we also know that it is really important to make sure that when we sign trade agreements, they are inclusive. We keep in mind our middle class, we keep in mind small and medium-size enterprises and we keep in mind gender equality. Those issues are not virtue signalling. Those issues are economic issues. Those issues benefit all Canadians. They help lift many people out of poverty and invite them into our labour force to ensure that everyone is benefiting from those free trade agreements.
I want to talk about how we were able to close the deal on CETA, sign it and ratify it here in the House of Commons. We were able to renegotiate and improve the previous agreement known as the TPP, the CPTPP, sign it and ratify it here in the House of Commons. In fact, we were one of the first countries to ratify the CPTPP. We were also able to renegotiate NAFTA, and now we are in the midst of the ratification process.
If we add all that up, that is 1.5 billion new customers for Canadian businesses and Canadian workers. Today Canada is the only member of the G7 that has a free trade agreement with all other G7 nations. These are not just any free trade agreements. They are fair, inclusive trade agreements that keep in mind the interests of all Canadians, particularly our middle class.
I also want to highlight our investment in expanding trade. Our government has put the largest investment into trade infrastructure and trade support systems in Canada's history. We have invested over $1.2 billion in expanding our trade corridors, including ports, roads and rail. We have invested in the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, which is our best asset. It is our Canadian businesses' and Canadian workers' best asset. It is Canada's global sales force. It is present in 160 countries around the world, promoting Canadian businesses and promoting Canadian interests, and we are proud to invest in it and to expand its presence around the world.
We are creating programs that support small and medium-sized businesses that are looking to expand and trade, because we know that small and medium-sized enterprises that trade pay better, are more resilient and are more profitable. It is in our best interest, if we want to continue to create more jobs, that we support small and medium-sized enterprises that export. Today only 14% of our SMEs trade, and we want to increase that number.
We have created programs such as CanExport that help small and medium-sized enterprises that are thinking about trade but are worried about the upfront costs. We are providing support to those SMEs all across our great country so that they are able to take advantage of those new markets that are available to them.
It does not end there. In 2018, foreign direct investment in Canada grew by 60%. Why? Canada is receiving an unprecedented level of foreign investment, because the rest of the world is noticing that Canada has access to an incredible array of markets. The U.S. market does not have the same access to foreign markets as Canada does.
International businesses are noticing. International investors are noticing. That is why we have seen a 60% increase in foreign trade investment. Direct investment from countries other than the U.S. has increased by 300%. Those investments bring jobs to our middle class. Those investments bring wealth to our businesses. This is good news for our country and good news for Canadians.
Let me take a moment to talk about NAFTA.
We had to renegotiate NAFTA when the current President of the United States campaigned on tearing up NAFTA. He told U.S. citizens that NAFTA needed to be torn up.
We started the negotiations with the new administration in good faith. We wanted to keep an open mind. NAFTA was over 20 years old, and it needed an overhaul. It was a tough negotiation process.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge how Canadians of all political stripes and Canadian businesses rallied around our government as we were in the midst of a tough negotiation with our partners.
However, many on the Conservative benches, and other Conservative voices, were asking us to capitulate. The Conservative Party loves to brag about Stephen Harper's record. Here is a direct quote from a memo written by Mr. Harper in 2017. He wrote, “it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now.” He wanted us to capitulate, and he was encouraging people to put pressure on the Canadian government to capitulate.
My colleagues on the Conservative benches were asking questions in question period, and this is on the record. They were demanding that our government capitulate to U.S. demands. I am glad, and I am proud, that our Prime Minister, our Minister of Foreign Affairs, and our team did not capitulate. We stood firm for Canadian values. We stood firm for what made sense for Canadian businesses. We ended up with a great deal.
We did face a challenge with steel and aluminum tariffs, unjust and illegal steel and aluminum tariffs, but we hung in. We pushed and we advocated. At the time, my colleagues on the Conservative benches again asked us to drop our tariffs. They called them “dumb”. Our retaliatory tariffs worked, and we were able to negotiate the elimination of those tariffs with our partner, the United States.
My friends say that we were virtue-signalling. I would like to know from them what part of this new NAFTA is virtue-signalling. Is the new labour chapter virtue-signalling? Is the new chapter on the environment virtue-signalling? Is the new chapter on gender equity virtue-signalling? These inclusive chapters will benefit all Canadians and will raise their wages. They will make sure that we have more productive jobs for the middle class.
I am disappointed in the Conservatives. I am relieved that they will be voting for this agreement. It does not make sense to me, but still I am relieved that they will be voting for it. I ask them to join us and agree that those provisions and this deal are good for Canadians and good for middle-class Canadians.
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2019-06-12 16:19 [p.29007]
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I wish to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin and Anishinabe peoples.
Today, I am pleased to address the chamber in support of our government's bill for better rules for the review of major projects, Bill C-69. The act would put in place better rules that would restore trust, protect the environment, advance reconciliation and would ensure that good projects could go ahead in a timely way.
I want to thank senators and members of Parliament for their careful consideration of this bill, in particular those senators who have worked productively to strengthen and improve the bill.
I would reserve special thanks for Senator Grant Mitchell, who has worked tirelessly as a sponsor of the bill throughout the Senate process.
Thousands of people across Canada have come forward to share their perspectives since January 2016. This is extremely important legislation, and I appreciate how engaged everyone has been.
Hundreds of major resource projects, worth an estimated $500 billion over the next decade, are possible across Canada, creating jobs from coast to coast to coast. It is imperative that we get this right.
These better rules are designed to protect our environment while restoring public trust in the process and improving investor confidence. These rules will also make the Canadian energy and resource sectors more competitive. They will build on Canada's strong economic growth and historic job numbers.
We are keeping our promise to Canadians, a promise we made in 2015 to fix our broken environmental impact assessment system.
In 2012, Stephen Harper's Conservative government gutted the rules for major projects, ignored science, trampled on indigenous rights and removed environmental protection. Those changes eroded public trust in how decisions were made and ultimately led to the polarization and paralysis we see today. It also ended up with us in court.
When good projects cannot get built because the process is in court, we have to admit the system is broken.
Our bill for better rules for the review of major projects, along with the amendments that we are proposing to accept, will change that. We will put in place better rules for major projects, like mines, pipelines and hydro projects, to protect our environment, improve investor confidence, strengthen our economy and create good, middle-class jobs.
Since we have formed government, we have worked very hard to restore public trust while providing certainty to business. Better rules are the key to rebuilding trust and confidence in how decisions about major projects are made. The amendments we are proposing to accept will enhance that effort.
Our bill for better rules reflect public input, respect indigenous rights, increase transparency and ensure that decisions are made by robust science, evidence and indigenous traditional knowledge.
The new impact assessment process will look at a project's potential impacts not just on our environment, but also its health, social and economic impacts over the long term, and the potential impacts to indigenous peoples.
We will also consider how projects are consistent with our environmental obligations and national climate plan. We will do proactive regional assessments to evaluate big picture issues and the cumulative effects of development. When making decisions, we will consider whether companies are using the best available technologies and practices to reduce impacts on the environment.
Project reviews will be completed through a more efficient and predictable process, with shorter legislated timelines that will lead to more timely decisions.
By increasing coordination with other jurisdictions, we will cut red tape and avoid duplication and delays.
Our goal is one project, one review.
We first introduced the bill after 14 months of consultations with provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, companies, environmental groups and Canadians across the country. We heard loud and clear that Canadians wanted a modern environmental and regulatory system that protected the environment, supported reconciliation with indigenous peoples, attracted investment and ensured that good projects go ahead in a timely way to create new jobs and economic opportunities for the middle class. We heard from investors and companies that they wanted a clear, predictable and timely process.
That is what our bill for better rules and the proposed amendments provide.
In January 2016, we introduced interim principles to guide how our government would review major projects until we could put better rules in place. We knew we could not keep approving projects under the Harper government's flawed rules, but we also knew that we could not put our economic development on hold for two years while we worked on new rules.
Our interim principles were the first step toward delivering on one of our high-priority platform commitments, which was to review and fix Canada's broken environmental assessment process and to restore confidence in how decisions about major resource projects were made.
Those interim principles made it clear that decisions would be based on robust science, evidence and indigenous traditional knowledge, that we would listen to the views of Canadians and communities that could be affected by proposed projects, that indigenous peoples would be consulted in a meaningful and respectful manner, that decisions would take into account the climate impacts of proposed projects and that no project already under review would be set back to the starting line.
Since we have formed government, we have worked very hard to restore public trust while providing certainty to business.
Today, we are putting before the House a bill that expands those interim principles into better rules.
This bill has gone through months of consultation and expert review. People across the country have provided input, including industry, academia, environmentalists and our indigenous, provincial and territorial partners. We held hundreds of meetings, received hundreds of written submissions and considered thousands of comments from individual Canadians.
Expert panels and parliamentary committees have conducted studies, heard witnesses and reviewed comments from the public. Senators themselves took the rare step of criss-crossing the country to hear a diversity of views on how to improve the broken system we inherited.
This bill has attracted attention across the country. Last September, someone hired a plane to fly over my office with a flag that read “Kill Bill C-69”. Then, in April, students in Quebec City gathered with signs that read “Go C-69”, decorated with hearts.
There are those who say this bill goes too far, and then there are those who say this bill does not go far enough. Our task as a government is to listen carefully to all voices and find a reasonable middle ground, moving us all forward together.
While we have been working hard to develop better rules, there has been a concerted misinformation campaign from the opposition. Members of the Conservative opposition have used this bill to stoke conflict, pitting one region against another, as if we are not one country, Canada, trying to build the best possible future for our kids and grandkids.
Conservatives in the House and the Senate want to replace environmental reviews with pipeline approvals. They want to replace legitimate public discussion with unilateral decisions. They do not want a better review process; they want to hand decisions over to oil lobbyists, ignore climate change and make the consideration of indigenous peoples' constitutional rights optional. Their goal has been to weaken the rules, and we all know where that road leads.
The opposition would pursue economic development at all costs and put the interests of oil lobbyists ahead of the interests of Canadians. That is exactly why we need better rules, ones designed to measure the impacts of major projects on all Canadians: environmental impacts, climate impacts, community impacts, economic impacts, impacts on indigenous peoples' rights, and impacts on Canada's reputation as a country where good projects can move ahead in a timely and transparent way that protects the environment and helps to build a better future for all Canadians.
The Senate has proposed 229 amendments to this bill. Of these, we are accepting 62 and amending 37, for a total of 99 amendments.
That leaves 130 amendments that we cannot accept, ones that would, for instance, make public consultation optional, remove consideration of a project's impacts on climate change, undermine the rule of law and make it more difficult for Canada to attract investment.
Here is a little parliamentary history for my colleagues. Going back to 1940, when the Library of Parliament began consistently indexing information, the highest number of Senate amendments ever concurred in by the House was 67, in 1946, to Bill No. 195, An Act respecting the Control of the Acquisition and Disposition of Foreign Currency and the Control of Transactions involving Foreign Currency or Non-Residents. In other words, this bill will be one for the history books.
I think it is fair to say that this has been a long and careful process and that we have worked diligently to create better rules. We thank the Senate for providing a variety of thoughtful improvements to the bill. We are accepting amendments that maintain the integrity of the bill and make it stronger.
For example, we are accepting amendments that increase the independence of the agency and minimize the potential for political interference. Instead of ministerial discretion on timelines, or who would be on a review panel, this power will be transferred to the agency.
We also support an amendment to make it clear that the minister cannot direct the head of the agency. We also support additional clarity on how the impact assessment agency will look at the environmental, health, economic and social factors to ensure that the focus is on the most significant issues.
We will make sure that the biggest projects with the biggest potential impacts are the ones requiring a federal impact assessment. We are supporting improvements to regional assessments and how we work with provinces to get to one project, one assessment.
These amendments would protect our environment and put sustainability at the heart of how we approach growing our economy and creating good, middle-class jobs. They would reduce the potential for political interference introduced by the Harper government's changes, and they would give companies and investors the certainty they need with a more timely process, clear timelines and transparent decisions. Together, these amendments would help to rebuild public trust, respect indigenous people's rights and protect our environment, while strengthening our economy and attracting investment to Canada.
We will be rejecting changes that weaken the act, including those that limit Canadians' access to the courts, increase political interference in decision-making, limit Canadians' input into the process, make it optional to consider how a project would affect Canada's ability to meet its environmental commitments, such as fighting climate change, and make it easy for future governments to ignore our constitutional duty to consult indigenous peoples, an approach that would land us exactly where we are today: in court.
The changes we are not accepting would take us backward, increase polarization and make it harder to get good projects built.
Conservatives want to keep the same system, the one that led to so many challenges, including with the Trans Mountain expansion, as an example. It is a system that weakened environmental protections, failed to properly consult indigenous peoples and limited public discussion. Canadians know that the environment and the economy go together, but these amendments would mean pursuing economic development at all costs. We cannot accept them, because they are, quite frankly, unacceptable to us and to Canadians.
Stephen Harper's approach put both the environment and the economy at risk. It failed to protect the environment. It destroyed the public trust. It paralyzed major projects. It is the system that created all the problems and polarization we see today.
Meanwhile, the current Leader of the Opposition has told oil lobbyists that he would kill this bill for better rules if he is elected. That is a recipe for economic risk, increased conflict and environmental damage. It is the same recipe that Stephen Harper tried. It did not work then and it will not work now.
As leading resource companies know, in the 21st century, we have to protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time. Canadians expect no less. It is not just the sustainable way forward; it is the smart way.
As I mentioned before, hundreds of major resource projects, worth an estimated $500 billion, are being planned across Canada. We want to see good projects get built. These are projects that grow our economy and represent tens of thousands of good, middle-class jobs.
Our government is committed to building a strong economy. One million jobs have been created since we took office, and unemployment is at historic lows. Last year, Canada's foreign direct investment grew by 60%.
The official opposition has been talking down Canada's economic success, stoking fear and uncertainty, an act that I remind members has real consequences for investment in Canadian companies. Meanwhile, our government has been working to attract and promote investment in Canada. We know that these better rules will provide investors with the certainty they need and will lead to more good jobs for Canadians.
In 2019, we cannot have a plan for the economy without having a plan for the environment. It is essential to be competitive and attract investment in today's world.
Investment in Canada is rising, and jobs are being created in Canada, in part because businesses want to invest in countries that see the future, countries that take sustainability seriously. Customers expect it. Our trading partners expect it. Canadians expect it.
Combined, the amendments we are accepting will produce better rules for major projects in Canada, rules that are clear, fair and predictable, with shorter legislated timelines and sustainability at their core. These rules will make sure that Canada remains a great place to live, to work and to invest.
To vote for the bill for better rules is to vote for strong environmental protection, transparent science- and evidence-based decision-making, predictable and timely reviews that create certainty for companies and for investors, recognition and respect for indigenous peoples' rights and knowledge and advancing reconciliation, less red tape and better coordination with provinces, a single agency that will provide consistent and efficient assessments, and a full package of measures that will protect our environment, support good, middle-class jobs and attract new investment to Canada.
With better rules, we will restore Canadians' trust in how decisions about major projects are made. We will restore investors' confidence in Canada as a great place to do business. We will restore our reputation as a country that knows we can fight climate change, protect the environment and respect indigenous rights, while growing the economy and creating good jobs.
We are so lucky to live in Canada. There is so much opportunity before us. Now is the time for all of us to reach out to investors around the world and say, “Canada is the place to invest. We have fair, predictable rules with legislated timelines.”
These better rules will make that possible. Any politician or company saying otherwise is, quite frankly, undermining the opportunity we have to attract investment. That is not in the interest of Canada and that is not in the interests of Canadians.
We are extremely lucky to live in Canada. Now is the time for all of us to reach out to investors around the world and tell them that Canada is the place to invest. In the 21st century, as leading resource companies know, we can protect the environment and grow the economy at the same time if we work together to make that happen.
Please join me in voting to pass the bill. We owe it to Canadians. We owe it to our economy. We owe it to our environment and we owe it to our kids and grandkids.
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Lloyd Longfield Profile
2019-06-12 16:51 [p.29011]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her presentation, and I also thank the other place, especially Senator Mitchell for his leadership on this file. The Senate used to be an echo chamber of the Harper government, but now we have an independent Senate bringing forth value. There is still some Conservative partisanship in what we see coming back, but we have come a long way in terms of governance.
In terms of the investments in Canada, we now have the lowest marginal effective tax rate in the G7, which is a full five points below the U.S. We now have a better governance model in Canada in terms of assessing projects and moving forward. We still have partisanship getting in the way, which adds uncertainty, but independence is now being introduced through our Parliament and our assessment process going through the projects.
Could the minister comment on the value of independent assessment as well as the favourable climate we have toward investment in Canada?
View Catherine McKenna Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Catherine McKenna Profile
2019-06-12 16:52 [p.29011]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his tireless work on the environment. I know he works extremely hard in his riding, but he also works very hard in the House to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect the environment and tackle climate change. I also want to recognize Senator Mitchell and the senators who worked really hard to improve the bill.
I absolutely agree that this shows that the way we reformed the Senate is working. We have listened to amendments that improve and strengthen legislation, which is a very good thing. Look at the opportunity we have. We have an opportunity to attract $500 billion in investment to this country. Last year, we had the largest foreign direct investment in our history on record. We created a million jobs. We have the lowest unemployment rate in four decades.
Now we have an environmental assessment process that will help attract the investment we want to create jobs and opportunities all over the country. Having independence in the way decisions are made, the approach taken with an impact assessment agency, makes a huge difference. It increases the certainty, predictability and respect for the system. It creates a system that, quite frankly, is going to do a much better job than the system that was gutted under the Harper government, where good projects could not go ahead. They just ended up in court.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2019-06-12 17:20 [p.29016]
Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I would say that it demonstrates his basic lack of knowledge on indigenous consultation and the impact of Bill C-69. Nothing in the legislation or Senate amendment package would change the current situation.
For decades, Canada has been a world leader in the incorporation of indigenous knowledge and expertise in project reviews and partnerships with indigenous communities, particularly of the top 10 major oil-producing regions in the world. Without a doubt, governments must improve their execution of their duties in this regard. However, the Prime Minister is wrong about this issue and Bill C-69.
The proposed Senate package and the specific amendments the Liberals rejected responded to the concerns of indigenous communities to elevate and amplify their locally impacted voices in early engagement and throughout the review process.
Mark Wittrup, vice-president of environmental and regulatory affairs at Clifton Associates, reinforces that point. He says that Bill C-69 “will create significant delays, missed opportunities and likely impact those that need that economic development the most: northern and Indigenous communities.”
The Liberals have caused uncertainty around resource development in the past three and a half years, with their imposition of layers of costs and red tape in policies like the carbon tax. Canada is the only country out of the top 10 oil producers in the world to adopt one.
The Liberals' new fuel standard is a reckless experiment, with severe cost consequences for refining, petrochemical processing, manufacturing and others. Then there is their unilateral imposition of the offshore drilling ban and unilateral prohibitions of activity on wide swathes of land. Their shipping ban, Bill C-48, is a direct attack on a specific industry, particularly damaging to a specific region of the country. It has already driven jobs, businesses and capital out of Canada at a nearly historic rate, resulting in a complete failure to build a single new inch of in-service pipeline.
The consequences of the Liberals' deliberate rejection of constructive suggestions from private sector proponents, economists, regulatory experts and various governments will be measured in more lost jobs, more cancelled projects, more missed contracts and more investment lost for a generation.
Energy companies are warning about the devastating impact on their workers and operations. This is in light of the oil and gas sector, which has already lost more than 100,000 jobs. It is likely closer to 200,000, if the statistics reflected employed individuals in the south. Over $100 billion in energy projects have been cancelled since 2015.
To put this in context, it is important to note that these numbers are the equivalent of losing the jobs created by the entire aerospace sector and almost all the auto sector. It is the equivalent of losing eight times the annual GDP generated by the aerospace sector and five times the GDP generated by the automotive sector.
If either of those two sectors were to face the same job losses and collapse in investment, we can bet, as there ought to be and has been, that there would be full attention and action from the federal government. However, the response to the devastation of the energy sector, of oil and gas workers and of their families has been empty rhetoric and platitudes, as well as a piling on of policies and laws, like Bill C-69, that are out right hostile and make things so much worse.
Concerns about Bill C-69 span sectors and regions.
A joint letter from the Association of Canadian Port Authorities, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Gas Association, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, The Explorers and Producers Association of Canada, the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C. and the Petroleum Services Association of Canada says that Bill C-69 will:
lead to greater uncertainty in the assessment and review processes [because it] requires assessment and decisions based on broad public policy questions that are beyond the scope of individual projects. It introduces longer timelines, and vague criteria that will increase the risk of legal challenges.
This is what the private sector proponents are warning.
They also take issue with the fact that Bill C-69 “gives the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada broad discretionary powers, which could further increase uncertainty for major infrastructure projects.” It also “put[s] at risk the investment needed for Canada to create the jobs and government revenues that support our quality of life.”
Certain criteria are essential to attracting and retaining investment in Canada, such as certainty in regulations, permanence of regulations, certainty in the form of timelines, performance-based policies that ensure benefits to communities by tying incentives to performance-based measures, such as job creation, research and development, innovation and capital investment.
Those criteria were hallmarks of Canada's regulatory framework for decades, with the most rigorous assessment, comprehensive consultation, high standards and strongest environmental protections in the world. However, from the beginning of the consideration of Bill C-69, starting when the Liberals rushed the bill through the House a year and a half ago, proponents raised major concerns on each of these key elements. One of those elements is timelines.
Bill C-69, as it is going to be passed by the Liberals, would create a potential for a delay that would allow the Governor in Council to extend timelines without providing justification. There is no hard time cap for the overall process. The criteria for making such an extension will be defined in regulations. Even after the Liberals ram the bill through the House, there will still be uncertainty around timelines, which we developed after the fact.
Literally, therefore, the cabinet will be the only power to decide when to delay a project. That is clear further politicization of the process and introduces further uncertainty for proponents considering a new project. That is why so many of the Senate amendments are dearly needed. They introduce legislative maximum time frames, they remove the ability for Governor in Council to extend timelines indefinitely and force the Governor in Council to provide reasons for suspending timelines. Maximum timelines set in law reduce uncertainty for investors, because time is money.
The Liberals' rejection of the Senate amendments clearly shows their intention to return to open-ended timelines. According to their legislation, the federal cabinet can keep resetting the process, forcing proponents to go through the same stage multiple times. That is the definition of “death by delay” now being implemented in law by these Liberals, which is a term and a tactic that anti-resource activists call their campaigns to kill Canadian resource projects.
Bill C-69, without accepting the amendments from the Senate, would also grant a single minister the power to refuse to undertake an assessment at all. It would grant a single minister complete discretion regarding whether to designate a project under Bill C-69's lengthy and uncertain assessment process. That would result in considerable uncertainty for proponents, even where proposed projects would not be included on the project list. They simply could be added to it by a single minister, the Minister of Environment.
That sort of political uncertainty is unacceptable. Therefore, a single minister could kill a project by adding years of delay and hundreds of millions in additional costs. It does not really get any more political than that. This is why so many of the Senate amendments must be preserved to make this legislation workable.
That is, of course, related to one of the major concerns from industry, provinces and municipalities, and the Conservatives have been warning about it, which is the uncertainty around vague project criteria. As originally worded by the Liberals, who are again intending to ram through Bill C-69, it would increase the length and the uncertainty of regulatory and judicial processes that already pose significant challenges to a timely completion on major resource projects.
Regulatory reviews already require significant commitment and exceptional due diligence by proponents, communities, as should be the case, but they are often extremely complex, duplicative and expensive and sometimes result in deep divisions.
Clear and concise criteria that projects are measured against ensures predictability for all parties and that ensures approved projects can actually get built, instead of having to repeat key parts of the process or spending years in court defending in approval.
However, the Liberals' Bill C-69 would add numerous additional criteria that would not be within the direct control of the proponent and criteria that would be so vague that it would be difficult to determine what they even would involve precisely, never mind for proponents to be able to determine how to incorporate them or how to account for them in their project proposals.
The Senate amendments, while not even as concise as the Conservatives would make them, are a vast improvement over the original Liberal wording. They would remove broad political debates from the formal review process and focus the fact and evidence-based review on criteria that would be measurable, quantifiable and predictable.
The concern with the Liberals' criteria that they are proposing in Bill C-69 by rejecting all the Senate fixes is that they are requiring the panel conducting the review to make determinations on matters that are subjective, that relate to the subjective policy priorities of the government and are inherently political.
How can a project proponent proposing a physical project based on engineering realities and the technical, economic, environmental and safety merits of a specific project anticipate and account for the particular political objectives of the current government of any given day? The answer is that it cannot. That uncertainty will stop proponents from proposing big projects and crucial infrastructure in Canada.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2019-04-12 12:58 [p.27064]
Mr. Speaker, I am going to be sharing my time today with my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent. For those who are watching at home and who may be quickly bored by my speech, if they hang in there for 10 minutes, they will hear a much better speech after by my colleague.
I am very pleased to join the debate today on the Liberal budget. The Liberals have presented what I call a Dr. Strangelove budget or, in this case, “How I stopped worrying and learned to love the debt”. That is what the government wants Canadians to believe: “Do not worry, we can continue to spend forever. Do not worry, the economy will grow forever. No recession will ever happen again. Do not worry, we can rack up debt to the very end of time and it will not be a problem. Do not worry about about interest payments. Do not worry about the fact that our interest payments are growing from this fiscal year of $26 billion and to $33.2 billion per year in just a four-year period.”
That is $149 billion that we are going to be paying, transferred out of the pockets of taxpayers to rich bondholders on Bay Street, just over a five-year period. It will be $149 billion. In the fourth year, 2023, it is going to be $33.2 billion. Now, that is more than we spend per year in EI payments. That is more than we pay out in the child benefit program. That is more than we pay out for national defence.
Here we are with the Liberal priority of paying off rich Bay Street bankers and bondholders instead of defence, instead of families and instead of those on EI. To put it in perspective, with that money, the Liberals could pay for 2,750 refrigeration units for the Weston family. Let us think about that. The Liberals could also provide their own billionaire island for every single cabinet minister, so they could go to their island and not worry about violating the ethics laws. Liberal ministers could go to their own billionaire island and not worry about being invited by a paid lobbyist.
“Do not worry” is what the Liberals are saying. Do not worry about the declining productivity rate that Canadians are suffering through. Do not worry about disappearing foreign investment.
That is one thing I do worry about, though. We see foreign investment fleeing Canada. We see the oil industry devastated, $100 billion fleeing to the States. We see the Liberals giving Kinder Morgan $4.5 billion to take out of the country and invest in pipelines in the States. Who do we see interested in investing in Canada, which the Liberals are only too happy to see? It is Huawei. We see Anbang investing in Canada, thanks to the Liberal government. We see the Chinese Communist government-controlled CCCC construction firm trying to buy out local Canadian infrastructure companies. The Liberals are all willing to invest in Canada but not regular people.
“Do not worry,” say the Liberals. Do not worry about the fact that the debt is going to rise to over three-quarters of a billion dollars over the next five years. That is not including Crown corporations. When we throw in the Crown corporations, it is well over a trillion dollars of debt that Canadians are going to be carrying. This money has to be worrying, but “Do not worry. Stop worrying. Learn to love it,” is what the Liberals are saying.
Canadians are worried. We sent out a request to my constituents, asking for their response, asking what they think of the debt and if they feel they are further ahead than when the Liberals took over. This is what they are saying. This is not the made-up information that is in the budget, such as “Billy went to buy an electric vehicle and got a handout from the government.” These are real Canadians, real people living in Edmonton West, and this what they are saying.
Elmer wrote in and said, “It's worse off and it's not improving. They are so concerned about the ramifications of Oshawa's GM plant closing. What about Alberta? We've had no oil revenue and, therefore, severe unemployment problems for over three years, but I have not seen any concern about Alberta's unemployment situation.”
We used to have four Liberal members of Parliament. We have not had any of them stand up, supporting Alberta. We had four MPs in Liberal Party from Alberta, which are now down to three because of a scandal. We used to have two in the cabinet and now we are down to one, again, because of a scandal.
The member for Calgary Centre stood up and publicly stated that he would pound his fist on the desk at the cabinet table to make sure pipelines were built. What has happened? Absolute crickets from the member, he has done nothing.
The natural resources minister is based in Edmonton in the riding of Edmonton Mill Woods. What has he done for Alberta? Absolutely nothing.
In the budget, $27 million are provided for the diversification of the western economy and there are $100 million for oil and gas support. What did the Liberals put aside for subsidies so wealthy people could buy electric vehicles? Almost half a billion dollars. Even though the Minister of Natural Resources is from Edmonton Mill Woods in Alberta, only $27 million have been provided for diversification.
What about the member for Edmonton Centre? I asked him for his thoughts on the no new pipeline bill, Bill C-69. I asked him about the offshore tanker ban that did not ban tankers, just Alberta oil. I also asked him about all of the Liberals' other punitive policies against Alberta. He stood and said that he was proud of them. He was proud to push through Bill C-69, which ensures we will not see a single new energy project ever again in Alberta. He was proud that our oil was banned on the west coast, while we happily bring in oil from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. This is shameful.
I received a letter from a lady named Holly, who was asked if she was better off. She said, “Seriously? Can anyone be better off? We lost our small business of 20 years. We paid our taxes and paid our staff. The bank took our house, which guaranteed our small business loan, which we hadn't missed a payment on. All of our employees, including four family members, are all out of work. We are jobless and homeless, and the government just keeps on destroying the economy.”
Let us remember back to a couple of years ago when the Prime Minister was in Calgary and confronting these things. His comment was, “Just hang in there.” People like Holly cannot just hang in there. The government's policies are destroying the livelihoods and hope of people living in Alberta.
Brian writes, “Worse off—I live in subsidized housing in Edmonton—the cost of living has gone up a great deal but not our income. We all got a raise from the Alberta Government, not even $2. 30% of that goes to my apartment cost, so what did I get? We got a carbon tax—30% of that went to our apartment cost. Anything we get, 30% goes to the cost of our apartment.”
The Government members stand again and again, as they did just recently, to note the Liberals' $40-billion national housing program. Apparently, it is $50 billion now. The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, or IFSD, which is headed by former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page, has looked for this money. It writes that the Liberals', “NHS looks like” nothing except a “glossy document that accompanied its announcement....unfortunately, for now, the NHS is virtually nowhere to be seen in the federal fiscal framework.”
With respect to the Liberals' $40 billion, the Prime Minister and the parliamentary secretary responsible for this both stood to say that the Liberals housed one million people. They actually told people this. That was until the Toronto Star, the prophet of North America, said this was not true and that the number was actually 13,000. The Liberals' own department results showed it was 13,000 and the Liberals claimed it was one million. However, they say, as they just did now, this is worth $50 billion.
The IFSD said that it could only find $1.3 billion budgeted in the first five years and $5.1 billion budgeted over 10 years.
As a last comment, I would like to note comments by a man named Helmut. He said, “Worse than a year ago. As a senior on income security, the provision is not keeping pace with high rise in expenses....”
This is what we are hearing from Canadians when we talk to them. They are barely treading water. They are not getting ahead, as generations have before them. Every time they take a step forward, the government drags them back two steps, whether it is done with the carbon tax, taking away other tax credits or pushing up debt, which pushes up interest rates. Canadians are not getting ahead.
On Tuesday, when Jason Kenney becomes premier of Alberta, we will take our first steps toward fixing the problems in Alberta. On October 21, we will take the next step, when we turf the government and bring back a Conservative government.
View Dan Albas Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place to speak on behalf of the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, as well as to bring forward some of my concerns.
Obviously these tax treaties have existed for a long time. In fact, two of the tax treaties I looked at earlier were dated back before I was born in the late 1970s. These tax treaties have existed for a long time. They have developed over the years. It is important to note that double taxation should be addressed.
Canada, as an open economy where we try to attract foreign direct investment, should do all it can to provide certainty so that monies from other countries can come here to make many of the important projects go forward in places like Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. In my riding of Princeton, we have the Copper Mountain mine development. It is a very popular mine because it is one of the larger private employers in the area. That mine was the beneficiary of foreign direct investment.
When I did door-knocking in the 2015 election and introduced myself to the good people of Princeton, because the riding had changed, people pointed out that when the mine had originally closed for an extended period of time, the economy in Princeton had suffered greatly. The people benefited greatly from that mine both in terms of taxation, because now the community gets a share of the taxes that go to the provincial government, and from the employment and the services that the community is now able to have.
The same goes for the Highland Valley Copper mine just outside of the great town of Logan Lake. On a per capita level, Logan Lake and Princeton are some of the largest contributors to the net GDP of the area.
Before I go any further, I plan on sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill and l am sure she will be giving a much more informed view on things.
However, when we talk about foreign direct investment building certainty through international tax agreements, it is important we talk about the benefits we have.
A new flotation facility was put in Highland Valley Copper about four or five years ago, easily half a billion dollars worth of investment. Those kinds of investments do not happen in countries unless there is a stable framework and the rule of law, including tax treaties. Again, the Nicola Valley has prospered as has the Similkameen Valley prospered because of these large developments. The amount of capital it takes is not always possible to be raised here.
Sometimes Canadians ask me why we have foreign direct investment, why can Canadians not simply invest in our own projects. The answer is that there is so much opportunity in the country that we cannot on our own resources alone expect reasonably to see many of these projects go forward. Having that foreign direct investment, having that stable presence in terms of the rule of law is incredibly important.
Bill S-6 is an act to implement the convention between Canada and the Republic of Madagascar for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. To be very clear, these are not new. Under the previous government, led by former prime minister Stephen Harper, we saw the renewal of the New Zealand agreement and also the agreement between Canada and France was updated.
Consecutive governments of different political stripes have sought to put these things in place. Not only does it relate to double taxation, it also makes life a little easier. For example, students are covered and it defines what a student is. If those students are drawing income from the other country that is part of the agreement, they will not have to pay taxes in the country where they are studying. These things are important and they eliminate a lot of red tape for individuals. I think we can find some common ground on that.
I have talked about two things: first, the importance of certainty, because business, development and investment cannot happen without that certainty; and second, opportunity, meaning people have to feel if they put a dollar in, they can expect that money to come back with even a return on that investment.
I am fearful that while the framework of Bill S-6 is here, the government has eroded some of those areas of certainty and opportunity.
For example, we had an opportunity today. We had Kim Moody talk about the changes the government had made to the Income Tax Act, specifically around small businesses and Canadian controlled private corporations. I asked the Canadian Federation of Independent Business about this. The government likes to talk about lowering taxes for small business, but when I spoke to the CFIB, when I heard some of the testimony of Mr. Moody today, I found that the government had made it so difficult for many families to utilize a legitimate tax regime that was available to them in previous years. Because there is such a grey zone by the layering of rules, they do not have any certainty.
If we ask Canadians or people from other countries to invest in this country and if they find there is not the same certainty or opportunity they once had, they may choose not to invest. They may choose to not grow their business because they do not see the opportunity there.
Bill S-6 does add a little more certainty for people to come from Madagascar to invest in Canada, knowing the rules that would be applied to them under law. There would be a tax treaty to share information between jurisdictions to ensure they would not double taxed. However, when someone sees the absolute mess the government has placed our country in on responsible resource development, there is no certainty.
Look at the visiting convoy we had the other day. Those people want certainty. They want opportunity. They do not want bills like Bill C-69. They do not want to see foreign investment chased away.
While we are talking about chasing away investment, the government, through its failure to create a stable regulatory state, has allowed the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion to languish. Private dollars were going to build opportunity for the people of Merritt. I am not sure I mentioned this before, but the community of Merritt was promised, under a community development agreement, that it would get certain funds to use for flood mitigation. However, because the company did not have that certainty and did not feel there was an opportunity, it decided to use its money to fund pipeline development in the United States. That is a real shame.
It is not just having the framework like Bill S-6 in place. There also has to be a sense that the rule of law will always be followed, that we are bound by the rules that have been put in place, that our word is our word, that there is no political interference once the Governor General has given the nod to a piece of legislation and it is the law of the land.
Mr. Speaker, earlier you raised the issue of you wanting all of us to talk about Bill S-6. However, the elephant in the room is we find out that cabinet confidences have been broken. We find out that caucus confidences have been broken on the Liberal side. It is all over the papers. When people find out that someone is allegedly trying to interfere in an independent prosecution case, they start to ask themselves if this is a country that follows the rule of law. That erodes confidence. That makes people say that perhaps they will not invest in Canada, that they instead will go to Australia, or the United States, where they have certainty and opportunity.
As a Canadian, this is so important for us. We have bills, like Bill S-6, that put forward proper frameworks. However, even if those frameworks are in place, if people do not feel that officials will follow those laws, both elected and bureaucratic officials, that dissolves or erodes the sense of rule of law. May we never find ourselves in such a state where people question the Canadian government or the Canadian people on our commitment to the rule of law.
I call upon the government to have that public inquiry. I call specifically for the Prime Minister to waive client-solicitor privilege for the former attorney general. Why? Because I am all about certainty, opportunity and feeling proud of our country and telling people that I am a proud Canadian. I am sure the people on the street are saying the same thing. It does not look good. It does not make us feel good. That needs to change.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2018-11-27 11:52 [p.24008]
Madam Speaker, the good news is that despite this “man cold”, as my wife calls it, my voice seems to be back. I hope it will stick around for the next 15 minutes so that I can speak to budget implementation act, 2018, No. 2. Before getting to what is in the bill or, more to the point, what is not, which might make up the bulk of my comments, I want to talk about the process.
After all, this is an omnibus bill, like the ones we saw so often under the previous government. The current government actually campaigned on a pledge to end the use of omnibus bills. The Liberals not only broke that promise, but they are constantly introducing omnibus bills. They use them not just for budgets, but also for other areas like public safety, transport and justice. We keep getting bills that are harder and harder for parliamentarians to study in any meaningful way.
I may be mistaken about the numbers, which we can check, but the mere fact that we can evoke this type of image says a lot. The Conservatives' first omnibus bill, Bill C-38, which was introduced in 2012 in the last Parliament, showed how abusive this practice had become. The bill was the nadir of this anti-democratic tendency, seeking to undermine the employment insurance program and eliminate the already inadequate environmental assessment process. The bill was hundreds of pages long.
If we were to combine the Conservatives' first omnibus bill from 2012 with the Liberals' first omnibus bill—not the one we are currently debating—we would have a bill the same size as the one before us, which is over 800 pages long.
That is completely ridiculous. I gather some of us are burning the midnight oil in our offices to read the bill. Some members say that they are sick of looking at the four walls of their offices, so they go read it at home. However, let us be honest. The idea that we have the time to consult our constituents, speak to stakeholders on the various files that critics are responsible for, read up on subjects of interest to MPs, and also read Bill C-86, including all the acts it amends, is simply unrealistic.
Some might say that this violates our parliamentary privileges. I am not looking to start a debate on privilege, but I do think it is important to point out how hard this makes it for us to do our jobs.
Even setting aside the size of the bill, the weight of it, and the rule against using props during debate in the House, I would advise my constituents not to print it out. It would be a waste of paper. The thing is massive.
On top of introducing a massive bill, the government has moved time allocation. Not only is it limiting debate in the wider sense by introducing a bill that is extremely difficult to study and therefore to debate, but it is also limiting the time for debate. In 10 or 20 minutes, the normal length of a speech in the House, it is impossible to address every issue. Plus, the government wants to limit the time for debate. This means that we, as the second opposition party, get to put up about eight speakers at most, out of about 40 or so MPs.
Some might say that the budget process, and therefore the budget implementation bill, are among the most important duties of the federal government. The fact that less than one-third of the members of a recognized opposition party get a chance to speak is a real problem.
Let us put the procedural issue aside, since we could talk for ages about this broken promise. I also want to talk about what is missing from this bill and, by extension, from the Liberals' budget. Unfortunately, the Liberals have neglected these elements too often over these past few years, since they came to power.
I would like to focus on a few aspects in particular. First, the government is still not charging web giants sales tax, even though that is a relatively simple matter. It is a matter of fairness and common sense.
When I was in my riding during the last parliamentary recess, I spoke with a constituent who told me that that is today's reality. We now get services via the Internet. That is how we download music, movies and television shows.
We are not asking the government to reinvent the wheel or to go against an existing trend. We are asking it to do two things. First, we are asking it to put all businesses on a level playing field. If Canadians order goods or services online, then they should have to pay sales tax the same way they would in a regular store. That may seem obvious to those watching at home, but the Liberal government has failed to do anything about this for far too long.
The Government of Quebec has led the way, and we hope that the other provinces and territories will follow its lead. However, with all due respect for our National Assembly colleagues, I have to say that it is not enough. The federal government has economic levers that it must use to level the playing field for businesses so that Canadians can benefit from the revenue generated under the law. That is what is lacking right now. However, it is not only the web giants, such as Netflix, Google, and Facebook, that must be required to charge sales tax. All the other digital platforms on which people can purchase goods must be, as well. The government is currently relying on the good faith of some stakeholders who have chosen to proactively charge sales tax.
Second, an agreement needs to be made regarding the future of our culture, specifically with regard to Netflix. I am not as familiar with this topic as my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, who I am sure would have a lot to say about music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. For now, I want focus on Netflix because I do not have much time.
I will not discuss the sales tax for now. I have no doubt the former heritage minister had a rough time in Quebec. Pretty much everyone unanimously agreed that her Netflix deal fell short, not only because of the percentage of francophone and Quebec content, which is nil, but also because the government asked so little of Netflix. The government is counting on the company to operate on the honour system and obey the law proactively.
Madam Speaker, I see your signal that I have just two minutes left. What better proof that it is impossible to study an omnibus bill in the time provided.
France and other countries offer examples of different ways to do this. We can also come up with our own model to acknowledge that this is the new normal without letting Internet giants rake in the profits while crushing our culture. We need to promote our cultural sector so that it can continue to make all of its unique offerings available to us with content that is our very own. This is about quality content and our duty to remember and share.
I will now move on to something else that is missing from the Liberals' budget.
The Minister of National Revenue keeps talking about a $1-billion investment. The only thing that investment did was rub salt in the wound by uncovering the billions of dollars that are lost to tax evasion and tax avoidance. We see that cronyism is alive and well in the Liberal Party. The issue of the Panama papers and the paradise papers has not been resolved. Nothing has been done to recover those billions of dollars. Again, it is a matter of fairness.
In closing, I would say that the omnibus bill does very little to address the problems that the supposedly progressive Liberals promised to fix and this is their third attempt at it. That is three attempts and three failures.
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
2018-11-27 12:54 [p.24017]
Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about the Liberals, who are proposing a hefty 850-page bill. It is an omnibus bill. It is the largest bill ever introduced in the House of Commons. The omnibus bills that the Conservatives used to introduce were 75 pages long. Today we are seeing an 800% or even 900% increase with this 851-page bill. The Liberals were elected on a promise to be more transparent and more accountable.
Furthermore, we are debating this unusually large bill under a gag order. This morning, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour was boasting about how she has already given opposition members 15 hours of debate.
According to my calculations, 15 hours of debate divided by 851 pages equals one minute and five seconds per page. Is it responsible to allocate so little time to debate a bill? I use the phrase “debate a bill” loosely, because only eight NDP MPs and five Conservative MPs spoke to this bill before today, if memory serves.
The Liberals say that they are more democratic, more transparent and more accountable, but I have my doubts. I think that everyone has reason to doubt the goodwill and good faith of the Liberals.
As my colleague from Jonquière said, this bill amends seven acts. The Liberals have never been able to tell us how many clauses and subclauses are in this mammoth bill. They themselves do not even know. They do not even know all the things they put in this bill. It is ridiculous to have to debate it under time allocation.
I will focus on just a few points in my speech because, unfortunately, nobody in the House can cover all the measures introduced in the nearly 900-page bill in just 10 minutes.
Women have been waiting 42 years for the Liberals to keep their promises on pay equity. Unions have been fighting Canada Post in court over that for 30 years. The government is yet again telling women they will have to wait. Pay equity legislation will come into force not in a matter of weeks or months, but in four years.
Our party has been a tireless advocate for this important issue. We have even proposed changes in the past. As we heard from my colleague from Jonquière, the NDP proposed 36 amendments. The Conservatives proposed amendments. The other parties proposed amendments. How many amendments did the Liberals accept? Not one single amendment was accepted, despite the fact that they reflected the demands of unions and the demands of various women's groups. Not one amendment was accepted to improve the bill, to give women a stronger voice. The Liberals did not agree to any of our suggestions.
Canada is facing some major challenges that require a bolder approach than the one the Liberals are using. The first initiatives requiring employers to determine how many people must receive more pay are a step in the right direction. However, what could possibly justify how long it will take to implement this? Is it acceptable that women continue to be underpaid for another four years under this government?
In 2018, women earn on average $12,700 less than men. If we multiply that by four, that means nearly $51,000 less for women. The government says it is proud to have introduced pay equity legislation. However, women will still have $51,000 less in their pockets, which is a lot.
If I had to summarize the government's action, I would have to say that it is nothing but half measures. The time it will take to implement pay equity is the biggest problem lurking behind the government's facade of good intentions, but it is not the only one. There is also the fact that budget implementation act, 2018, No. 2 does not require employers to apply pay equity to workers who were already under contract if changes are subsequently made to the contract following a call for tenders. Why? We do not know.
The bill also does not include any of the pay transparency measures that advocates have called for. Salaries cannot be compared when pay equity issues are being addressed. What is wrong with that picture? Will the pay equity commissioner have the resources needed to do his or her work properly? We do not know that either.
Speaking of half measures, why did the government not adopt the recommendations set out in the Bilson report, including the creation of a pay equity hearings tribunal? Lastly, the Liberals are once again professing to support equality while telling a segment of the population that is being treated unfairly to grin and bear it. I would like to remind the government that women represent 51% of the population.
The government made its choice. It chose not to make the investments needed to ensure that women receive equal pay, and chose instead to give big business, the richest people in the world, $14 billion in tax cuts. This measure was introduced last week in the Minister of Finance's fall economic statement. Did the rich and these big corporations really need that $14 billion this fall? I do not think so. They are getting help, yet many of them evade taxes or openly use tax havens to avoid paying taxes.
The same is true for web giants like Netflix, Apple and Facebook, which pay virtually nothing in taxes and then get tax breaks. However, they use our services and are quite happy to hire highly skilled workers from Quebec and Canada. The Liberals claim that our SMEs are important and that they want to support buying local, but they support the web giants that do not need to worry about all of the taxes imposed on our SMEs under Canadian law.
How much of this money will go to rural areas? We have no idea. The government is allocating billions of dollars for businesses to buy new equipment and innovate, but how can we innovate when our rural areas do not even have access to high-speed Internet or a 3G or LTE cellular network?
The Auditor General criticized the government for its lack of judgment in managing public money allocated to the connect to innovate program. Some municipalities in my riding are turned down for this program or CRTC funds for ridiculous reasons, such as the fact that there is already a home with high-speed Internet within a 25-kilometre radius. This is happening in Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague, and all the areas served by Coop CSUR in the Soulanges area are under the same restriction. Do we really want a double standard for our rural and urban areas?
On another subject, how will the poverty reduction strategy be funded? Apparently, it will be made up of existing programs without any additional money. I think the Liberals are just thumbing their noses at us. They have targets, but no plan. That seems to be a theme with this government, because it does not have a plan for the environment either. The Liberals got themselves elected in 2015 by saying, “We have a plan, we have a plan, we have a plan”. Today, there is no plan, there is no plan, there is no plan. I think I will use that in an ad.
Are they going to help the most vulnerable citizens access health care services more easily? No. There is no plan for pharmacare either, even though we know that we could save $3 billion a year according to conservative estimates. We could make a lot of investments in health care with that money.
What other measures does the bill include to drastically reduce our CO2 and methane emissions starting this year? None. Is the government planning to help rural areas go green, develop public transit, make their homes more energy efficient, or use solar and wind power? No.
Is the government going to implement restrictions to help big corporations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? No, of course there is no plan to do that. Will the federal government finally have a costed plan for reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions? No, it has no plan for that either.
It has been pointed out that many citizen movements have been launched. In Quebec, artists, scientists, economists and citizens have signed A Pact for the Transition. Millennials have been criticized for not being more involved in all kinds of things, but yesterday, young people who realized that the government is not doing anything for the environment took action, and a youth environmental group called ENvironnement JEUnesse brought suit against the federal government for failing to take action on the environment.
I have to stop now because I am out of time, but that shows just how important the environment is to people 35 and under and how absurd it was for the government to spend $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money on a pipeline.
That move was not a plan or investment for keeping our planet healthy for current and future generations. It is shameful.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Pierre Nantel Profile
2018-11-27 16:42 [p.24051]
Madam Speaker, I know that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage is not the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. However, if he is following this file within his own department, he knows full well that failing to require that companies like Netflix or Google collect GST on their services is an injustice to all competitors that are Canadian and hire Canadians.
I am not even talking about corporate taxes, because I know that the Minister of Finance will say that it is complicated. The Liberals do not have much initiative, but I can understand that corporate taxes are complicated. That said, applying a transaction tax on transactions made in Canada is pretty basic.
Are the minister's rose-coloured finance glasses so big that he does not even see a need to collect taxes from service providers? Pathetic. Does my colleague have nothing to say on this? He knows very well that the cultural sector is unanimous on this issue.
Our service providers and creators at least want local broadcasters and over-the-top television services, which are comparable to Netflix, to be on an equal footing with the others.
View Andy Fillmore Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Andy Fillmore Profile
2018-11-27 16:44 [p.24051]
Madam Speaker, right now, the industry committee and the heritage committee are undergoing parallel studies that in the end will have the result of proposing measures to the House that we can all debate and vote on, that will help to level the playing field in this point of transition from an analog to a digital economy.
I think the member would be very happy to realize that in fact Netflix has announced the production of its first Quebec-based film, which is going to be very wonderful in Canada. This is an evolving media landscape, and we are, all together, going to be finding solutions to address the realities of a new world of media.
View Pierre Nantel Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Pierre Nantel Profile
2018-11-27 17:13 [p.24055]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. I do not doubt his sincerity, but I really did not get an answer to the question I asked earlier. It was a very simple question.
My colleague attends many of our committee meetings and he knows very well that the Quebec cultural sector sees as an injustice the fact that regular buyers of their content will be at a disadvantage compared with Netflix, for example, when it comes time to offer content on the web using their on-demand platforms.
He knows full well that the entire cultural sector would at least like to make sure that buyers are not at a disadvantage on the web, since the government is not requiring that Netflix collect GST on acquisitions and services in Canada, just as it does not require that Google collect tax on ad sales.
I am asking the question. I hope that my colleague will not give excuses and that he will answer my question. It is baffling that, despite the fact that Canada is a G7 nation and that it is performing better in certain areas—although it is also less savvy—we are not asking that federal and provincial taxes be collected on these subscriptions.
I hope to get an answer or at least an admission that he does not know.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I certainly do not doubt the sincerity of my friend on the other side with respect to this issue. He has been a very strong advocate for culture in Quebec and Canada.
The nature of production is changing. Our government has made it very clear that high-tech companies are not getting a free ride in Canada. If they participate in the system, we expect them to pay into the system. That is why we will be undertaking consultations on this issue.
With respect to the overall strength of the economy, I can speak to the greater Toronto area. Virtually, every weekend if I go downtown, I am seeing dozens of vehicles stopping traffic because of productions taking place. There are many production houses in the greater Toronto area, Montreal and Vancouver. I think this speaks well of our overall cultural sector.
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