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View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:29 [p.18517]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to add my voice to the debate on Bill S-14, an act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
This bills makes six much-needed amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. First, it would remove the words “for profit” from the definition of business so that bribes involving non-profits and charities are included in the act.
Second, it would increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment applicable to the offence of bribing a foreign public official, from the current maximum of 5 years in jail and unlimited fines, to 14 years in jail and unlimited fines.
Third, it would eliminate the exception contained in the act for what are called “facilitation payments”. These are payments for carrying out acts of a routine nature. That exception would be eliminated.
Fourth, it would create a new offence relating to books and records, and the bribing of a foreign public official or the hiding of that bribery.
Fifth, it would establish nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all of the offences under the act, so that all Canadians, permanent residents, Canadian companies, etcetera, can now be charged for crimes taking place in foreign countries.
Finally, it would designate the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as the agency with the exclusive ability to lay charges associated with the act. This specifically refers to the RCMP international anti-corruption unit.
These changes, as we have already heard, are meant to bring Canada in compliance with the OECD conventions on combatting bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, which this country ratified in 1998, as well as other international obligations. The Liberal Party will be supporting this bill, as it did through the Senate.
Despite widespread calls for Canada to step up its foreign anti-bribery measures, during the seven years the Conservatives have been in power, they have only begun to deal with the shortcomings of this statute that they propose to fix by this bill.
Bill S-14 updates Canada's anti-corruption laws and puts them in line with Canada's international anti-bribery convention commitments made with the OECD, as well as others made through the United Nations and the Organization of American States. In addition to meeting our commitments to various anti-bribery conventions, Bill S-14 allows Canada to be a country that demonstrates a high level of ethical standards for other countries.
There are important preventative measures that governments should be taking to ensure the RCMP has the resources to successfully investigate cases that are relevant to Bill S-14. A private member's bill, Bill C-474, proposed by the Liberal member for Scarborough—Guildwood, is one such measure, but sadly it is being opposed by the government.
Bill C-474 would attempt to make revenue transparency the norm in resource extraction industries. This transparency would allow for Bill S-14 to be more preventative instead of reactive.
Bill S-14, presently before the House, would result in more prosecutions and convictions for foreign bribery offences. Canada is a bit of a laggard in this regard, even accounting for size differences in population and economy. Canada falls behind, having only prosecuted three cases compared to other major economies. There were 227 cases prosecuted in the United States, 135 in Germany, 35 in Switzerland, 24 in France, 18 in Italy, and 17 in the United Kingdom, as examples.
This bill, as was indicated, would amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, which was passed in 1998 and came into effect the next year. Its passage meant that Canada ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act also implemented Canada's international obligations under the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. In 2002, there were several technical amendments that were made to the act because of amendments to the relevant sections of the Criminal Code.
The OECD working group on bribery has produced at least three follow-up reports on Canada's progress. The phase 1 report was released in July of 1999, the phase 2 report in March of 2004, and the phase 3 report in 2011. Each one commented on Canada's progress and set out areas where Canada needed to improve to stay on par with its international neighbours.
The phase 1 report, in 1999, was focused on the implementation of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. It was almost entirely positive. It stated that the working group was of the opinion that the Canadian act met the requirements set by the convention. It did address the issues that might need to be discussed during the phase 2 evaluation in 2004, including the exemption for “acts of a routine nature”, which are the facilitation payments that I referred to earlier; the effectiveness of the penalties, including monetary sanctions; and the lack of the nationality jurisdiction. All of these things that were referenced in that phase 1 report, in July 1999, are now contained in Bill S-14.
Five years later, the recommendations contained in the phase 2 report included the following: giving a coordinating role to one of the agencies responsible for the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act's implementation; reconsidering the subsection 3(4) exemption for facilitation payments, which I referred to earlier; redefining the word “business” in section 2 to include “not for profit”; and reconsidering the decision to not establish nationality jurisdiction for the crime of bribing foreign officials. Again, all of these recommendations from the working group have been included in the provisions of Bill S-14.
In 2008, the RCMP formed an international anti-corruption unit, which became responsible for investigating bribes of foreign officials. It has two seven-man teams, one in Ottawa and one in Calgary, the latter being the centre of Canada's resource extraction industry. They work with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which does the prosecutions in foreign bribery cases. As of May of this year, there are 35 ongoing foreign bribery investigations. There have been only three convictions against companies in the oil and gas sectors, with fines of $9.5 million and $10.35 million in two of those cases.
As the House is aware, one was the case of Griffiths Energy International, an engineering company that had an inappropriate financial relationship with the wife of the former ambassador from Chad. Another case was Niko Resources, for bribing a Bangladeshi official. SNC-Lavalin, Canada's premier engineering firm, was recently convicted on bribery charges in Bangladesh and has been barred from competing for World Bank contracts for the next decade.
In 2009, an attempt to implement similar changes to those that are in the bill before us today passed at second reading. It was at committee stage when it died, after the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament in December of 2009.
That brings us to the phase 3 report of the OECD working group from a couple of years ago. This report again found problems in several areas. These included only counting bribes for the purpose of gaining a business advantage for profit. These sanctions were not effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The extraterritorial jurisdiction issue, which I mentioned in connection with the nationality jurisdiction, only applies to bribery carried out overseas if there is a real and substantial link to Canadian territory. Considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another state, or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved, are only prohibited if improper.
In 2011, the Transparency International Global Corruption Report noted that Canada fell in the lowest category of countries since it had little or no enforcement in terms of following the OECD bribery standards and was the lowest ranked member of the G7.
As indicated, the measures contained in Bill S-14 are long overdue and are needed to bring Canada in line with its international obligations. They are measures that the Liberals will be supporting.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:42 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns expressed by the member. With Canada being such a significant player in the resource extraction industry worldwide, this is a real opportunity not just to meet and to be level with its international obligations, but to lead. An excellent example was just cited with respect to transparency. The private member's bill brought forward by the member for Scarborough—Guildwood would go a long way toward that goal of Canada being an international leader in transparency and ethical conduct.
Often, it is not good enough just to be level. In our case, there is a real opportunity to lead. This is an opportunity that should be seized both with respect to the initiatives that emanated from the G8 and with respect to the initiatives contained in the private member's bill, Bill C-474.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:44 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question.
This remains a problem. Time and time again, budget cuts are being made to very important services that affect the public. We have here yet another example. These organizations need to have sufficient resources to accomplish essential tasks, such as the ones set out in this report.
Most of the time, there is a lack of consideration. Not enough good ideas are being put forward and not enough effort is being made before budgets are cut.
I absolutely share the concerns expressed by my colleague from the NDP that all too often with this single-minded focus on trying to balance the books as a result of the financial mess that we have been thrust into by the government, we see very important front-line services, very important international obligations, compromised because of some wrong-headed and misguided assessment of priorities.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:46 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, I have very high regard for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, but I need to commence with a correction. I have been in this House exactly the same amount of time as she, having been elected for the first time in May 2011. Because of that relative newness, I cannot speak from a position of experience with regard to whether it is normal or whether it is not normal for bills to be emanating from the Senate.
In my view, this bill is something that has gone partway through the House, but was killed by prorogation. The fact that it is back before us is important. The House has had an opportunity to scrutinize it. It is fair comment that perhaps it is a troubling pattern that there are so many bills emanating from the Senate, but because this one is necessary, I do not think that we should be preoccupied by the manner in which it came before us. It is important to have it here, to get it done and to get Canada on an equal playing field with its allies internationally.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-18 11:49 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, if I understood correctly, the question pertains to Canada's standing in the world with respect to anti-corruption regulations. Of course, we should be concerned and perhaps even a little bit worried about this.
That is why it is important to adopt the measures set out in the bill. The hon. member has reason to be a bit concerned about Canada's standing, but that is also why she should support the bill. Of course, the bill is not perfect. The bill could and probably needs to be improved, but it is a good start.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:37 [p.18542]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to the details of any ongoing investigation, but I can assure the hon. member that although ECBC is an arm's-length crown corporation, I expect officials to co-operate with any investigation that is ongoing.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:38 [p.18543]
Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member there was no whitewashing of any report.
The Public Service Commission found no evidence of any political interference, which not surprisingly is in stark contrast to a 2006 report on the Liberal phantom job scheme. Maybe the Liberals could talk about that.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:47 [p.18544]
Mr. Speaker, we cannot speak to the details of any ongoing investigation, but as soon as I became aware of these allegations, I did direct ACOA officials to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner.
We do expect ECBC to conduct business with integrity, with accountability and with respect for Canadian taxpayers.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:48 [p.18544]
Mr. Speaker, ACOA is actually busy doing a lot of good work in that member's riding.
What the member is alleging is completely false, and he knows it. The Public Service Commission was very clear in its report. The member obviously has not read that report, which he should do before making all these ridiculous allegations.
We did not write the report, so we could not change something that we did not write.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-17 14:53 [p.18429]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to any details of any ongoing investigation, but as soon as we became aware of any allegations, I directed ACOA officials to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner.
We expect that ECBC will conduct their business with integrity, accountability and respect for Canadian taxpayers. I can say that the proper process is in progress to deal with these issues, and they will be addressed in due course.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-14 11:03 [p.18366]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Erskine Smith, who recently passed away.
Involved in theatre as an actor and director for more than 50 years, he and his wife, Pat, founded the Victoria Playhouse in 1982. His family and the playhouse is the heart of Victoria-by-the-Sea, entertaining tourists from all over the world and locals.
Erskine spent many years touring maritime theatres and festivals and performed at the CBC nationally. In 2012, he was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to theatre and the arts.
His lifetime in dedication and self-sacrifice serving the theatre community reflects the exemplary man he was. His humility, integrity and hard work continue to inspire, expressed by many as “how kind, welcoming and generous he was”.
As Erskine moves on, there is no question that he will always be centre stage, from memories of artistic expression to the kindness that was his very being.
On behalf of the House, we recognize and thank Erskine for his dedication and contribution to his community and the arts sector as a whole.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-14 12:05 [p.18378]
Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege last night of attending the citizenship and immigration committee while it was studying a private member's bill. Then I came in here today and I heard a backbench Conservative ask the minister a question so that he could answer and misinform the House on what the discussions were, as if somebody was supporting terrorism.
The real issue is the government is hijacking a private member's bill to try and get its way across, and that goes against our very democracy in this institution.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-13 15:06 [p.18304]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That the House commend and thank the RCMP for the excellent work that they do protecting Parliamentarians and all staff who work in the Parliamentary Precinct, recognize that traffic regulations and signage are important for the safety of those working on the Hill including construction personnel and visitors, and that the House reminds all members, and staff that their full compliance and cooperation is required.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-13 17:19 [p.18323]
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to ask a somewhat different question before the member for York Centre asked who we should be consulting and said that the official opposition would be suggesting that we should be consulting with the smugglers.
That is what is wrong with this place. This was, until that time, a fairly sensible debate. I have been here pretty near 20 years. I have never sat through a question period as embarrassed for every one of us as I was today. It is because of the kinds of remarks from the member for York Centre. The government sets the tone in here, and the tone is spiralling down so much that we are all embarrassed by what happens in this House. That question just shows the kind of attitude government members have to sensible debate in this House.
My question to the member on the legislation, the key point, is whether it will work. The government comes forward, in every bill, with minimum sentences. Minimum sentences, I submit, we will see in ten years' time are not the answer. There is much more than minimum sentences required.
Why do we appoint judges? Why do we instill experience in judges so that they can make decisions for extenuating circumstances? That has to be taken into consideration as well. Minimum sentences in themselves will not do the job.
We will be supporting sending this legislation to committee in the hope that proper discussion can take place there.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-13 17:30 [p.18324]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this motion. I congratulate the member for Brant for putting it forward. There are a lot of points to be considered. I know he has done a lot of work in the disability community, so he is probably the proper one to be putting forward this motion based upon his experience in that area.
As our critic indicated, Liberals will support the motion. However, beyond the motion itself, we want it to be a call to action for the Government of Canada.
The report that came out is entitled “Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector”, and the subtext reads “We all have abilities, some are just more apparent than others”.
That is, I think, a remarkable statement. Everybody has talents that we do not see.
I can remember that during my time in the farm movement, when I used to stay in people's homes night after night, I would always find that people had a second talent that was not visible. One farmer whose place I stayed at was an expert in lead glass. He shipped it all over the world. I never knew that until I happened to stay at his house.
When we see people with disabilities, we do not often see that inner ability and talent. Whether they have a mental disability or a physical disability, given the opportunity, those inner abilities and those talents will come out.
There are a couple of things that should be mentioned about that report.
Number one is that there is a business case for employing people with disabilities. It states that there are 795,000 working-age Canadians in that category and that 340,000 of them have post-secondary education.
We hear in this House and we hear in our communities all the time that there is a shortage of skilled workers, a shortage of all kinds of workers, and although we are looking at the business sector being involved in this area, there is a real opportunity to give people with disabilities an incentive so that they have a better quality of life for themselves and can take pride in the work they do.
The other side of the coin is that they can be productive in a job and in the Canadian economy. That potential is pretty good when we look at 795,000 people, with 340,000 of them having a post-secondary education.
The report states clearly that there are myths and misconceptions in the business community about the costs and risks associated with hiring people with disabilities. It claims there are no costs at all in half the cases—I am going from the study—to accommodate a person with disabilities, but that on average the cost is $500. That is a pretty small down payment to get a loyal and engaged employee, as the report talks about.
I have seen people with disabilities in my riding. I know people who, if they could get a job and have the atmosphere and the technology they need to do a job in a productive way, would turn out to be the most faithful and loyal employees any employer could have, as they would appreciate the employer working with them so that they could have the opportunity to work with that employer.
The report, “Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector”, provides a good basis, a good foundation for moving forward.
The motion itself has five sections, and due to time I will concentrate on the last one. It says:
(e) strengthening efforts to identify existing innovative approaches to increasing the employment of persons with disabilities occurring in communities across Canada and ensuring that programs have the flexibility to help replicate such approaches.
There is so much we can do with new technologies. Investments have to be made in many areas to assist the people in the disability community, not only in terms of getting to work but also in terms of having the technology at work to be able to do whatever it is they may be doing.
How do we make this technology work for people with disabilities? I think we have all seen examples. I know one of the bankers I have dealt with was legally blind, but he was still a banker doing productive work every day. He had a computer program that would either talk to him or adjust the print so he could see it.
Just imagine how many people in North America would be helped by technology that assists people who are legally blind. It would help them to be gainfully employed and to be productive in their lives.
I am sure there are other technologies out there that could assist people with other kinds of disabilities. As MPs we go out into the schools, to high school classrooms and others. There is one thing that always amazes me in those classrooms, and that is the personnel who work with the people with disabilities, as well as how the education system, at least in the schools I have been in, utilizes technologies to assist young people with either a mental or a physical disability to learn and to gain their education.
It may take extra personnel, but the technology is improving all the time for these people so that they can gain their education.
The problem is that sometimes that effort, in terms of helping those people with disabilities, stops when they graduate from the school system.
I think the last point in the motion by the member for Brant really goes to that point, that more effort needs to be made to find a way to transfer that technology and to encourage the business sector to utilize that technology so that these people can be productive in their lives.
Let me close with a quote from the title of the report: “We All Have Abilities, Some Are Just More Apparent Than Others”.
This motion gives us the opportunity to work with people to find those abilities that are not so apparent on the surface, and to utilize the technologies so that those people can add to our economy, assist the business community and find a quality of life in their own livelihoods. This motion could give us that opportunity.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-12 16:42 [p.18194]
Mr. Speaker, is this the 46th time allocation, is it the 47th, is it the 45th? It almost sounds like a farm auction. Will it be 47? Will it be 48? Will it be 50? When are the Conservatives going to hit 50?
This the most secretive, debate-reluctant government that the country has ever seen. We could have a little contest here. We could all make offers and bets on what day and what hour they hit 50. It is getting pretty close. Yesterday was 44 and 45, I believe. This one is 46.
This is not only about what is happening in this chamber. Because of the votes on time allocation, the committee that I sit on, which is the international trade committee, has had its meetings cancelled five or six times, so it is shutting down. There are other issues that need to be dealt with, and the way the current government operates prevents us from dealing with real issues at committee. That is a serious issue, because the Conservatives are such an undemocratic bunch.
I had a motion today that I wanted to give notice on at committee. It was to ask the government to table the human rights report under the Canada-Colombia trade agreement, which is an obligation on the government and which it has not tabled as yet, and now I cannot debate that motion at committee. No doubt the committee would have gone in camera anyway, into more secrecy, and an open debate would not have been allowed.
My point is this: the government is not only preventing business and debate in this chamber, but its actions and the way it is handling closure are hurting the ability of committees to do their work.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-11 14:56 [p.18090]
Mr. Speaker, the suggestion that we are resisting efforts to combat tax evasion is completely false. We support Prime Minister Cameron's efforts to achieve a G8 consensus on tax havens and on tax evasion.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance was at the OECD just last week, working on this very issue. Our government has a strong record of getting tough on tax cheats, including obtaining information on Canadians with offshore assets from our international partners. Since 2006, we have introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of our tax system—
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-10 13:24 [p.17962]
Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for Kitchener—Conestoga and he had nice-sounding words, but making a national park is just not enough to do the job.
Prince Edward Island National Park, or Green Gables, is in my riding, and the big issue is the resources that will accompany the putting in place of a national park to establish the protective measures necessary.
I can tell the member that with the cutbacks at Parks Canada over the last number of years—and I do not know what will happen this summer with further cutbacks—there are not sufficient wardens to show people how to handle things within that national park now. The sand dunes are very fragile structures and depend on grass to hold the sands in place. People are going up those sand hills and coasting down them. They are tearing the sand hills apart, and there is no one there to explain how that cannot be done within that national park zone.
Yes, Liberals support its becoming a national park, but resources are required to do the job that has to be done to preserve the natural resources that are there, and I do not see those resources accompanying this bill.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-10 14:48 [p.17976]
Mr. Speaker, our government has been working with partners abroad to crack down on tax cheats. Today, we are seeing the benefit of Canada's close collaboration with our international partners.
I am pleased to announce that Canada is now in the possession of extensive data on Canadians with offshore assets. CRA experts are reviewing the information on a priority basis and will undertake compliance actions where warranted.
This is, once again, a great day for hard-working taxpayers and a bad day for tax evaders.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-10 15:10 [p.17979]
Mr. Speaker, I, in fact, did use those words, and I will withdraw them.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-07 11:50 [p.17919]
Mr. Speaker, it is widely known that Nigel Wright, prior to his removal from the Prime Minister's Office, was really the one in charge of the CIDA and the TPP trade files.
We also know, by Premier Dunderdale's statement, that in meetings with her, Nigel Wright tried to draw concessions out of the province on the fisheries.
Who is in charge in the Prime Minister's Office of the trade files now, and will the Prime Minister assure us that there will not be concessions on fisheries, on supply management, and on drugs?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-06 10:09 [p.17794]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from constituents and others who are concerned about the possibility of an oil spill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They request the establishment of an immediate moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and they call on the government to commit to establishing an environmental assessment review panel, which would include representation from all gulf provinces and aboriginal leaders, to determine the impact of oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-06 14:38 [p.17823]
Mr. Speaker, we cannot speak to details of an ongoing investigation. However, as soon as I became aware of these allegations, I directed ACOA officials to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-06 15:32 [p.17833]
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order.
The Speaker, in the chair that he or she occupies in this place, is a position that has to be beyond reproach. I have been a member of Parliament for nearly 20 years in this place, and by your ruling, my confidence in the Speaker has been thrown into jeopardy. Let me explain.
My concern is based on the Speaker's response to a point of order raised by the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel immediately following question period about a letter from Elections Canada that referred to the member for Selkirk—Interlake and the member for Saint Boniface. The member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel asked that the Speaker table that letter.
In my view, a letter to the Speaker with that kind of content is a letter to us in the House of Commons. The response from the Chair was that the letter is on the Elections Canada website. We have now looked. That letter is not there. The letter is on CBC's website.
However, this concern goes far beyond whether the letter is available or not. A letter with that kind of content, referring to the ability of members to sit in this House of Commons and suggesting that two members should be suspended, is, I believe, a letter to all of us. That letter should be tabled, in my view, by the Chair.
I am certainly willing to accept that in the heat of the moment, your office thought that it might be available through Elections Canada. Maybe you did not have time to consult with the desk and respond accordingly.
However, Mr. Speaker, in all seriousness, this is a serious matter for our chamber and our confidence in the Speaker and how the Speaker operates.
I respect the position. I respect the individual. I think an error has been made here in terms of the kind of response to that question.
I am asking the Speaker to reconsider—maybe not right in this moment, but I am asking the Speaker to reconsider.
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2013-06-05 15:43 [p.17719]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from a number of constituents from Prince Edward Island. They wish to indicate to the House that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as a national public broadcaster, plays an important role in reflecting Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences while serving the special needs of those regions.
They call upon the Government of Canada to maintain stable, predictable, long-term core funding to the public broadcaster, including CBC Radio and Radio-Canada, in support of their unique and critical role.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-05 17:22 [p.17734]
Mr. Speaker, I very much enjoyed the speech by the member for Markham—Unionville. He posed a question that I would like to hear the answer to.
He indicated that this motion is grounded in one of three possibilities: it is a cynical political stunt, it reflects a misunderstanding on the part of the NDP as to how government works or it reflects the New Democrats' idea of federalism.
The member left it as an open question. I would invite him to answer it.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-05 21:24 [p.17767]
Mr. Speaker, I did not think that I would ever say this, but I agree with much of what the hon. member has had to say, especially with respect to the check on majoritarianism. It is particularly relevant in my small province of Prince Edward Island. Since the Conservative government has come to power, we have seen the withdrawal of front-line services for immigrants, taxpayers and veterans. There needs to be some sort of a check on this majoritarianism.
However, the member did say that he has some difficulty with there being a reopening of federal-provincial negotiations with respect to Senate reform. Does he not agree, given the long delay that the government went through before sending this to the Supreme Court of Canada, that the result of the reference to the Supreme Court of Canada will inevitably be those federal-provincial discussions that the Prime Minister seems to abhor?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 14:02 [p.17513]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Ira Lewis, who recently passed away.
Ira, from York, P.E.I., served his community and fellow Canadians in many capacities, but first and foremost he was a family man, proud of his heritage and so satisfied to see the family farm continue.
His son described his principles as his God-given love, respect and responsibility. Through a number of organizations, including the PEI Federation of Agriculture and the P.E.I. Fluid Milk Association, Ira worked to benefit the total farm community. He was known for being at the cutting edge of agriculture technology.
With his brother Claude, they were recognized internationally as a breeder of purebred Holsteins and won awards in Charlottetown, the Atlantic Winter Fair and The Royal, carrying such honours as premier exhibitor.
In 1984, Ira was inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.
On behalf of the House, I recognize and thank Ira Lewis for his dedication and contribution to his community and the agriculture sector as a whole.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 16:31 [p.17539]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to debate Bill C-60, the budget implementation act. In answer to the previous question, the parliamentary secretary should know that the debt has increased. Again, we are seeing a further addition to that total debt through this budget.
It is interesting that when the Minister of Finance gave his budget speech, he committed to balancing the books by 2015. Well is that not wonderful? The only problem with what the minister said was he has never hit one single target he has ever set, when he was minister of finance with the province of Ontario or when he was Minister of Finance with the federal government.
In fact, the government came to power when there was an annual surplus. Conservatives squandered that away. Now, so the parliamentary secretary understand because he is part of the cabinet, we have a government that is the biggest spending government in Canadian history. It has cut more services and programs than any other government in Canadian history. It is still in deficit spending.
My colleague, the member for Kings—Hants, in his remarks pointed out that there were a number of areas in the bill that we could support, but there were a number of areas that we could not. I have said in this place before that one of the problems is that for some of those technical areas we cannot really get into a discussion and debate on because they are all tied up in the omnibus bill. This one is not as bad as previous ones in covering so many topics, but it still is bad and takes away the ability to really debate in-depth and hold proper hearings on specific sections that are affected by Bill C-60.
My colleague from Kings—Hants indicated that there were two key reasons that we would continue to oppose the bill. One is the legislation threatens the independence of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In the section in Bill C-60 that talks about crown corporations, Treasury Board collective bargaining, it would allow the cabinet to require that a crown corporation have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board before beginning negotiations.
It would also allow cabinet to require that a Treasury Board employee attend and act as an observer during that collective bargaining process. In other words, the real ability of a crown corporation to operate in its own right would be taken away by Treasury Board. That is just pure wrong.
We know the dislike that the Prime Minister, the cabinet and government has against the CBC. They are basically going to have the mandate to order the crown corporation, which is supposed to be independent of government, on how it should negotiate. This really undermines that independence in a very serious way.
The second area my colleague from Kings—Hants mentioned, which I agree with, and as our leader has said many times in this place, was the budget continued to raise taxes on middle-class Canadians to pay for the Conservatives' wasteful spending. That is so evident.
It is interesting that when the Minister of Finance got up and read his budget speech and talked a bit about the budget, he outlined the tax relief on hockey equipment, et cetera. What he failed to talk about were all the areas where there would be really, in effect, tax increases or cost recovery fee increases and other measures that would place a financial burden on middle-class Canadians. It is middle-class Canadians who make our country tick. What we see in the budget are a number of tax measures that are really making it much more difficult for Canadian middle-class families to make ends meet.
It is not just the tax measures. The government members get up and say that by our not wanting to increase the tariffs on China, we are putting a damper on creating jobs in Canada. That is not true at all. The fact of the matter is that none of the low-end bicycles are produced in Canada. The higher end, the $5,000 and $6,000 bicycles, are, in fact, produced here. It goes to show how narrow the focus of the government is. It tries to paint everything with the same brush. As a result, ordinary Canadians are facing increased costs and certainly a lot fewer services.
The budget also raises taxes on small business owners by some $2.3 billion over the next five years, directly hurting about three-quarters of a million Canadians and risking Canadian jobs. That is what the budget actually does. Employment insurance premiums will go up. There is a huge cost to Canadians.
In Bill C-60 there was an opportunity for the government to show some vision for the future. Where that vision really needs to be shown is in the whole area of youth employment. That is an absolute missing factor in this particular budget. Canada's labour market for young Canadians has yet to recover from the recession. Unemployment for young people is around 24%. Young people need the opportunity to have a job to help pay for their education but also to give them skills in the employment field and in the business market. Youth employment has been completely ignored by the government. It had an opportunity to do something about Canada's future, but it is failing dismally.
In fact, as has been said in the House a few times, there have been ads during the Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series about Canada's action plan. The government spends on Canada's action plan ads and talks about the student program, but there are a lot of disclaimers at the end of the commercial. It talks about it, but consultations with the provinces on that program have not even started. It is not up and running, and here is the government spending on ads, when the cost for one of those ads, under the current assistance for student work, is equivalent to 32 student summer jobs, in terms of the federal government share. Every time Canadians look at those ads, they must think that there is money that could have been spent more appropriately creating student summer jobs. That is what really needs to be done, and the government failed dismally in that area.
The government will talk about the incentive for greater charitable donations for young people. However, unless it is a family of wealth, and that is not the middle class, that is not going to make any difference either.
To close, this budget is terrible for Prince Edward Island. In my province, the cuts to the Canadian Tourism Commission mean stopping its advertising in the United States market. That means fewer tours coming to Prince Edward Island to help our economy.
There would be cuts to agriculture. That would hurt us in Prince Edward Island. There would be cuts to the fishery, which would hurt us as well.
This is a dismal budget, and the government should just admit it.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 16:43 [p.17541]
Mr. Speaker, that is why I am on my feet. It is because I do support our youth. The problem is that the budget does not.
Maybe the members are just looking at the talking points. Take, for instance, the $47 billion in infrastructure. Does that number not sound good on the surface? However, it is stretched out over 10 years. It is back-loaded on the other end, well after the next election. For the next two years, there is hardly anything in that budget for infrastructure.
The member can get up to talk about the $47 billion. The problem is that the $47 billion does not exist for that age group that is now youth. By the time that money is available to be spent, they will be well beyond being youth.
That is the problem with the current government. It talks a good line, but it fails to put in the measures to actually do the job. That is the problem with this budget.
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