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Results: 1 - 15 of 235
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I noted with interest the part of my colleague's speech when he talked about the concern many workers have when they look at their pay stubs and the very real struggles many are going through.
Part of the budget implementation act sets a federal minimum wage at $15 an hour. This is something I ran on all the way back in 2015, and I can remember the Liberals openly criticizing it then, so it is very interesting to see it in this act six years later.
Does the member support the $15 minimum wage for federal workers? Does he think it is adequate in the year 2021? Does he have any concerns that it would take another six months for it to actually be implemented?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, it is great to see the Liberals supporting child care in this budget. It is something I ran on quite proudly back in 2015, and I agree with her that it would make a huge difference.
My question is regarding the Liberal standard for engaging with the provinces on these sorts of initiatives. This budget implementation act is setting up the legislative framework for the minister to engage with the provinces to get child care up and running.
However, when it came to Bill C-213, which was NDP legislation to set up a legislative framework for establishing a national pharmacare system, the Liberals voted against it. It seems as though the goal posts are shifting. Could the member clarify for the House what the Liberal standard is for engaging with provinces when trying to build up these national programs?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I agree with my colleague that the finance committee certainly is going to have its work cut out for it. Tying into the last question on the size of the debt, I am very concerned that, as we have seen in the past, it is going to be small businesses and our vulnerable workers who have to shoulder this burden while very wealthy corporations and very wealthy individuals have been making out like bandits for this entire pandemic.
I know the member has spoken at great length in previous speeches about tax evasion, tax avoidance and the need for a wealth tax. Can he tell the House about maybe his disappointment that the budget did not really address those key areas? Going forward, the government needs to make sure those at the very top are in fact paying their fair share and that the burden is not unfairly falling on everyone else, as we have seen in the past.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to be standing virtually in the House and speaking to Bill C-208. I would like to thank the member for Brandon—Souris for being the sponsor of this bill. He is the latest in a fairly long line of MPs who have been trying to achieve this legislative proposal.
I was present in the 42nd Parliament when my former colleague, Guy Caron, brought in Bill C-274, and I remember his passionate speech in the House of Commons during its second reading. He was trying to illustrate the reasons why that legislation was so important. It was great to witness that speech, but ultimately it was very disappointing to see the vote results when the Liberal government at the time used its majority to prevent the bill from going any further.
I am glad to see this time it has been different, by virtue of the fact that we are in a minority Parliament and the opposition used its combined numbers to send this bill to the Standing Committee on Finance where it had a good airing. We got to hear from many witnesses, and ultimately the committee decided to send the bill back to us for our final consideration. It is my sincere hope that this bill will be sent off to the other place and that we can look forward to royal assent, hopefully in the near future.
When Bill C-274 was being considered in the previous Parliament, I had a meeting with the Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce. I was given a 10-minute speaking spot during their AGM, and when I talked about Bill C-274 at that time and about what we were hoping to do, I got unanimous positive feedback from the members of that chamber. For those who do not know, Port Renfrew is on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. Many people there depend on fishing for their livelihoods. They are either commercial fishermen or are in sport fishing, so they have small fishing corporations. To have the ability put forward to transfer their businesses to family members really meant a lot to them. There was overwhelmingly positive feedback. I ultimately had to give them bad news, but here we are with a real opportunity to try to bring about some positive change.
This bill is pretty much tailor-made for the types of small businesses that exist in the riding I represent, Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Like so many members before me, I want to acknowledge the pain and suffering that small businesses have gone through over the last year. I think it is incumbent upon us not only to have support programs to help them through the pandemic, but also to bring about long-term systemic change to important statutes such as the Income Tax Act, so that we can make their business operations and their succession planning that much easier.
My riding is dominated by farming as well. Here in the Cowichan Valley we have a beautiful climate. It is, I think, Canada's only Mediterranean climate and we have a very long and storied agricultural history. We have generational family farms here. Some have the fifth generation of a family farming the same plot of land. If we can bring about legislative change that makes succession easier and gives them peace of mind, I think we are doing a good thing.
I also want to give a shout-out to the five chambers of commerce in my riding: Chemainus, Cowichan Lake District, Duncan Cowichan, Port Renfrew and WestShore. They have all been incredible advocates for their members. I have been staying in touch with them quite consistently over the last year and their feedback during this pandemic has been invaluable in helping me, as a member, advocate on their behalf in Ottawa to make sure that the federal government's policies and programs are reflecting their needs.
I will concentrate mostly on family farms, given the nature of my riding and the fact that I am the NDP's critic for agriculture and agrifood. When we look at family farms, we are looking at $50 billion in farm assets that are set to change hands over the next 10 years. History has shown us that roughly 8,000 family farms have disappeared over the last decade.
The National Farmers Union has done an incredible report on the status of Canada's farms, called “Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis”. It not only looks at agriculture in the context of climate change, but also the financial footing that many farms are on and how shaky it is. According to the NFU, Canadian farm debt has doubled since the year 2000. That is in 21 short years. It was listed at $106 billion in 2019.
Many farms have to chase income from off-farm work, taxpayer support programs and other farm sources. That is just a reality for so many small farms. What is really concerning is that we have lost two-thirds of our young farmers since 1991. The family farm is pretty much being systematically destroyed in Canada, and we need to put measures in place that are going to help.
Why is Bill C-208 so important? The owners of small businesses, family farms and fishing operations who want to retire want to be able to sell to their children because it is often their children who have been brought up in the family business and on the family farm. From a young age they have learned the culture of the business and what it does, and they often have a lot invested in that business continuing to succeed. The next generation often has very important ideas about where to take that business.
When parents decide to sell their business to their children, the difference between the sale price and the price originally paid is currently considered a dividend, but if they sell their business to an unrelated individual or corporation it is considered a capital gain. Unlike capital gains, a divided does not include the right to a lifetime exemption and is taxed more heavily. We can make a measurable improvement in allowing families to pass on businesses that might have been part of a family for generations to their children, making it easier for that work to get done.
I want to recognize the work done at the Standing Committee on Finance. I appreciate the witnesses who appeared. Many of them also appeared at the agriculture committee. We heard important testimony from the CFIB, the Grain Growers of Canada, L'Union des producteurs agricoles and, of course, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which has been such an incredibly important voice for farmers from coast to coast to coast.
They noted at committee that the average age of Canadian farmers is now above 55, and the opportunities these businesses face will carry into the next generation. It is a sector in which the vast majority of businesses remain family owned, and maintaining the financial health of those businesses across generations is critical. At committee, the CFA very clearly said that it supported Bill C-208 because it would ensure that real family farm transfers could access the same capital gains treatment as businesses selling to unrelated parties, rather than treating the difference as a dividend that was taxed at a higher rate and not being able to access the lifetime capital gains exemption.
We have an important opportunity before us. During the vote at second reading, I was sad to see that 145 Liberal MPs voted against this bill. Two Liberal MPs supported it. It is my sincere hope that when this bill comes to a final vote to be sent to the Senate, Liberals can finally see this as an important opportunity and can represent the interests of small businesses, family farms and fishing corporations by making this much-needed change to the Income Tax Act and doing right by their constituents.
I, for one, will be proud to vote in favour of Bill C-208 and send it on its journey. I look forward to the day when we can finally see it receive royal assent.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, Bill C-12 illustrates quite clearly why the committee stage is such an important part of the legislative process. Bill C-12 is a good start, but like any first draft, it does need some revisions.
Would the member agree that when this bill gets to committee, there should be some strengthening in the language around putting in a real target for the year 2025 but also making sure the proposed advisory committee has a very specific role in setting targets and reviewing the kinds of assessments we are putting in place for all of this? Would he agree those two specific areas need strengthening in this bill at committee stage?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-292, An Act to establish Canadian Armed Forces Members Day.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to introduce my private member's bill, the Canadian Armed Forces members day act. I would like to acknowledge and thank the member for North Island—Powell River for seconding the bill as our party's critic for Veterans Affairs.
I have always had incredible admiration and respect for the men and women who serve and have served our country in the Canadian Armed Forces. In addition to Remembrance Day, October 22 has taken on significant importance for the veterans community in my riding, particularly those who are members of Malahat Legion Branch 134. October 22 is forever seared into our country's memory. It was the day when a gunman shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo while he was on guard at our National War Memorial before the storming of Parliament Centre Block.
This day is recognized every year in my riding in honour of Canadian Armed Forces members who have lost their lives on Canadian soil during peacetime. The bill I am introducing today will formally recognize October 22 as Canadian Armed Forces members day in their memory. In closing, I want to recognize Bob Collins as the driving force behind this bill and thank him, James Baird, Keenan Hayes, Brianna Wilson and Rachel Wilson for standing guard at the cenotaph in Cobble Hill in remembrance and for their service.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, like the member, I also hold out great hope for the work the environment committee has to do on this bill. There are some significant improvements that need to be made to the wording.
I want to ask the member about the importance of following up these words with action. We have a Liberal government that invested billions of our public dollars into purchasing a pipeline and is right now trying to increase its exporting capacity. I would like to hear the member's comments about where that money could have gone, and about the importance of starting a just transition for energy workers in provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan to those transferable skills we need for the renewable energy economy of the future.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary said that the Liberals were open to considering some amendments at committee. Opposition members would like to see just what kind of considerations the Liberals are concerned about here. We have already been public about the need for a 2025 milestone target, about clearer and stronger accountability on progress reporting, the assessment reporting, emissions reduction planning. We would also like to see the environment commissioner strengthened and made an independent officer.
Could the parliamentary secretary give us some feedback on those specific proposals and whether the Liberals will support those amendments at committee?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, environment and climate change are issues that consistently rank as top concerns for the constituents of my riding in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. That is why I am pleased to have this short opportunity to intervene and give some of my thoughts on the bill that is before us, Bill C-12.
The reason this issue ranks so highly in concern among my constituents is that we have had consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments that have failed to meet a single climate target. I think Canadians are quite tired at this point, it being 2021, of governments committing to targets and then missing them again and again and again. We are running out of time to turn things around.
I often wonder where we would be today if, all the way back in 2010, the Senate had not killed Jack Layton's climate change accountability act, which was passed by the democratically elected House of Commons. We would have had 11 years of legislated targets in place, and I think Canada would be well on its way to achieving what we need to as a country.
Climate scientists have most definitely reached a strong consensus that, in the absence of any measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly, changes in our climate will be substantial and will have long-lasting effects on many of earth's physical and biological systems. The evidence is very clear. It is no longer in dispute. We have observable data. We can compare it with the fossil record and with what we see in earth's geographic record. It is there for all to see.
We know these changes are going to bring about more frequent and more severe winter storms and summer hurricanes. Many parts of the world are going to see deadly heat waves that will result in mass casualties. We are going to see desertification spread and prolonged droughts. Many populations that are already suffering extreme water shortages are going to see those problems exacerbated.
Here in Canada, we are already becoming familiar with the wildfire season, which is beginning earlier, lasting longer and is much more intense, especially in provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia. Of course, because Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and much of the world's population lives on the coastline, we are going to be impacted by the sea level rise. The levels the oceans will rise by may not look like all that much, but when these are combined with shifting tides and storms, many cities are going to face some extreme flooding dangers, and many in the world have already seen this.
We have seen a rise in ocean acidification, which has an impact on our fisheries because of the bleaching of corals and combines with all sorts of problems in our oceans. Of course, all of these problems are going to contribute to the migration of millions of climate refugees. Although Canada, by virtue of its geography, is separated from much of the world by the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, we live in an increasingly globalized world, and for us to say we will be immune to all of these problems is a venture into fantasy.
We know we will be impacted by negative supply shocks. We know many of these climate-related weather phenomena are going to have a physical impact on Canadian infrastructure. We know our financial system is going to be negatively impacted, and we can see that in some of the data that already exists. According to some reports, climate-related disasters cost the world approximately $650 billion from 2016-2018. We know that a warming world is going to depress growth in agricultural yields by upwards of 30% by the year 2050. That is going to impact many small-scale farmers around the world.
The UN Environment Programme estimates the global cost of adapting to climate impacts to grow to anywhere from $140 billion to $300 billion per year in just nine short years: by the year 2030. This could increase to almost $500 billion per year by 2050. When I hear members in the House of Commons wonder aloud about the costs of the transition, I do not think we fully appreciate the costs of doing nothing or of not doing enough.
I have a very real concern about the biological effects of climate change and what it is going to do to our ecosystems, but for those who are more aligned to the monetary matters of our country, we have to be prepared to ask ourselves how much, as a country, we are prepared to spend in future years' tax revenues. How much are we prepared to spend to adapt to a changing climate and to fix the disasters? These are going to range in the billions of dollars just for Canada. The smart economics are for us to start making changes now and address this problem before the costs start spiralling out of control. This is why we, as a country, must have legislated targets in order to reduce our emissions.
I understand that Canada has fossil fuels. We have been developing them and exporting them, and we have many people whose livelihoods depend on the sector. The changes coming our way are not going to be easy, but they are going to be necessary. This is why, if we are going to do justice to the energy workers currently employed in the oil and gas sector, we absolutely must have a just transition strategy in place. We can already see the writing on the wall. Increasingly, investment is drying up and we are going to see more and more investment firms and banks start listing fossil fuel reserves as stranded assets. We need to identify the fact that many energy workers have transferable skills that are going to be needed in the renewable energy economy in the future. In addition, in Bill C-12 we need to start employing that just transition strategy so that we can take advantage of their skill sets and really position ourselves where we need to be.
I think Bill C-12 is a great first draft and, like any first draft, there is a nucleus of an idea there that we can work with. However, I believe that it needs substantial revisions. The legislation as it is currently written would allow targets to be set by the minister of the environment for the years 2030, 2035, 2040 and 2045. The bill also requires that we have an emissions reduction plan, a progress report and assessment report for each target. It would establish an arm's-length advisory body to provide the minister of the environment with advice on how to achieve net zero emissions. It would require the minister of finance to prepare an annual report detailing how we are managing financial risks and so on. While there are some good things in place, and it is a step in the right direction, I believe that, given we are arguably in the most critical decade for addressing climate change, waiting until 2030 is a bridge too far. When the bill gets to committee, I would like to see committee members work constructively together to make some significant amendments to the bill.
I think that we absolutely must have a 2025 milestone target that would require a progress report by 2023 and an assessment in 2027. I also believe that we need far clearer and stronger accountability measures put in place on progress reporting, assessment reporting, emissions reduction planning and target setting. Again, this is a moment in time, and given what we know about climate change, we need to be upfront and very transparent with the Canadian people about what we as a country need to do. Also, the environment commissioner needs to be made an independent officer, similar to other independent officers of Parliament. As well, the legislation before us should not be by itself but should come along with those significant investments in that just and sustainable recovery plan that is going to support our workers, families and communities with training and good jobs.
To conclude, I implore my colleagues, even those who have doubts about the bill, to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let us recognize that Bill C-12 has its flaws and that there is a lot to be desired within the bill, but let us at least vote in principle to support the idea behind the bill, get it to committee and allow important witness testimony to inform the amendments that it needs in order to make it a much better bill and one that Canada needs.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, like any early stage of a technology that is being adopted, we still have more advances that can be done. The technology with respect to zero-emission vehicles is growing rapidly. A lot of car companies are now starting to throw considerable financial weight into this, and I think we are going to see in short order a huge improvement not only in battery life but also in battery charge capacity.
I own a zero-emission vehicle. It depends on the kind of charger one gets, but it allows me to meet my needs quite ably and it is very satisfying knowing I am going around town not having any emissions. In a recent Angus Reid poll, only 34% of Conservative Party supporters said they believed climate change was human-caused. The Conservatives have a real problem, and the Conservative Party has to own up to that and really have a frank conversation with its membership on the seriousness of this problem.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I need to save my forehead from that kind of pain, but in all seriousness, to the member's point, it is important to underline that with any early adaptation of a technology there will always be growing pains. We saw it at the turn of the last century when people were transitioning from horses and buggies to the first petrol-powered cars. It will take time for the infrastructure to spread and for electric cars to really get to where people need them to be, but it is happening. Many vehicles out there now have a 400-kilometre or 500-kilometre range on a single charge, which is a huge improvement over just five years of the technology being out there.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, I live in a province where the Liberals spent billions of our dollars to buy a bitumen-exporting pipeline and are spending billions more to increase its exporting capacity, so I very much understand his concerns.
I recognize what the Bloc has done on climate change. I also want to recognize the member for Winnipeg Centre in our own party, who has also brought up similar legislation. There are a lot of efforts from all parties, and we all need to collectively come together to treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves and make sure our actions meet our words in the House of Commons.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, I can see the good intentions in Bill C-12, but like any first draft, I think it needs some revisions.
We have identified some ways in committee that we would like to see some substantive amendments come forward: 2025 milestone target, more powers for the advisory committee and maybe separating some of the targets and the plans away from the minister's mandate.
Does the member have any suggestions to the House about some of the improvements and amendments he would like to see to this bill to make it substantially stronger than what we have right before us?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, too many Canadian families are suffering from the high cost of prescription medication. The situation has been made far worse by the pandemic, because many Canadians have lost their jobs or seen their hours reduced and have seen their coverage under workplace plans eliminated. This can have devastating and very negative consequences for family budgets.
The Liberals first made a promise for a national pharmacare plan back in 1997, which was 24 years ago, yet here in the most recent budget, in 2021, we saw a half-page mention of it. I do not know what happened. Did the Liberals cave to the pressure from big pharma, or is this just another promise that they want to drag out for another few election cycles? Working families cannot wait. They need to have this kind of plan in place. It is the missing element for our health care system.
My question is this. How much longer are Canadians going to have wait before the Liberals actually get serious about this plan? When can we expect to see some substantive action on this file?
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Madam Speaker, right before we started the debate to concur in the report from the finance committee, we spent most of the day today debating the government's bill, Bill C-12. I think there is widespread agreement that the bill needs some strengthening at committee.
I specifically notice recommendation 66 of this report to increase serious investments in infrastructure for fighting climate change. That is a very worthy initiative, and I do not think we will find any disagreement on that. However, what does the member think when we see a recommendation like that but then contrast it with the fact that the Liberals spent billions of our taxpayer dollars on buying a bitumen exporting pipeline? Of course, they are now spending billions more trying to upgrade its capacity. We are all being warned that this is the most serious decade for us to get real climate change action coming from the government.
I wonder if my hon. colleague has any comments on the actual infrastructure spending that is going on versus what is being recommended in the finance committee's report.
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