- MPlibJun 05, 2013 2:55 pm | Ontario, Scarborough—Agincourt
Mr. Speaker, I was interested when the member said she was here with Jack Layton and she went on to say something. I presume that she would have said something like he kicked something.
I remember the late Mr. Layton when he was on the city council in Toronto. We talk about people at the trough, we talk about people who are getting $90,000 and all that kind of stuff. If I remember correctly, was it not Jack Layton who was living in co-op housing when he and his spouse were city councillors? Is that not being at the trough?
- MPlibJun 05, 2013 2:25 pm | Ontario, Markham—Unionville
Mr. Speaker, I agree with what my colleague said. However, I also think that the government's current plan is not serious. It is also trying to do things through the back door by avoiding the Constitution.
If we have an elected Senate, which is what the government wants, but we have no change in the distribution of seats, it would be grossly unfair to British Columbia and Alberta, which only have 6 seats each versus New Brunswick, which has 10, P.E.I., which has 4, and so on. If we are going to have an elected Senate which is more powerful, we have to first deal with the distribution of the seats. The current government appears not to be willing to do that.
However, again, we will have to see what the Supreme Court says.
- MPlibJun 05, 2013 2:20 pm | Ontario, Markham—Unionville
Mr. Speaker, I would say it is all of the above, particularly one and two; I am not so sure about three. It is certainly a political stunt because the New Democrats realize the Senate is unpopular these days so they want that message out. As I indicated in my speech, it certainly reflects a total misunderstanding of how the government works.
- MPlibJun 05, 2013 2:15 pm | Ontario, Scarborough—Agincourt
Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order, if we are not here to represent our constituents and bring their views, and say what they are telling us, then who the heck are we here for?
- MPlibJun 05, 2013 1:50 pm | Ontario, Scarborough—Agincourt
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague with great interest, but I did not hear anything about the following: one, who appointed the senators; two, how the Prime Minister chose those senators; three, what the Prime Minister's Office knew from beginning to end on this particular deal, with a buyout of $90,000 and cover-ups and so on.
It is great to sit there and say the NDP does not know where it is going and to say the Liberals are in cahoots with the NDP, but let me refresh this for the minister: first, when did the Prime Minister find out? Second, we are talking about his chief of staff. There could not be anyone closer to any one of us, besides a wife or husband. I am wondering if the minister is trying to hoodwink the House, or does he really believe what he says?
Does he really stand in front of the mirror and say “mirror, mirror on the wall, I believe what I say”. I would like to know what he can tell us about the $90,000 that was given to Mr. Duffy.
- MPlibMay 21, 2013 7:20 pm | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie
Mr. Chair, during testimony at the Natural Resources committee, the deputy minister stated that the department had cut 160 positions in the department. Where did those cuts happen and how many of them were to scientists?
- MPlibMay 21, 2013 7:15 pm | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie
Mr. Chair, I was hoping the minister would have that information, especially since the Conservatives made changes under Bill C-38 to the eligibility of witnesses to appear in front of the National Energy Board. Certainly it is a question that is on the minds of many people because it has such important repercussions.
The latest environmental commissioner's report gave a scathing review on the federal government's and the two offshore petroleum boards' readiness for a major oil spill. Is there any funding in the estimates to fix this negligence by the minister and his government?
- MPlibMay 21, 2013 7:10 pm | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie
Mr. Chair, I assume that means NEB will tell them that they must have backup power at each of the pumping stations and they must also have an emergency off button in the case that they leak.
For my next question, can the minister list any research funded by the government, or that will be funded in main estimates, that addresses the behaviour of dilbit, or diluted bitumen, in the environmental conditions likely to be found on B.C.'s north coast, i.e., cold saline water which is an environment where the winds, the swells, and the currents can be quite extreme?
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 5:35 pm | Ontario, St. Paul's
Mr. Chair, it is quite clear that the need is not being met. The boil water advisories are up 20%.
I would like to move to the issue housing. What happened to the $295 million of additional funding that was allocated in 2005 for on-reserve housing to build even more than the 13,800 units that should have been built every year if the government had stayed at 2005 funding levels?
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 5:30 pm | Ontario, St. Paul's
Mr. Chair, what is the department's goal this year for the number of first nations and Inuit students graduating with a post-secondary certificate?
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 1:50 pm | Nova Scotia, Sydney—Victoria
Mr. Speaker, I would remind the House that it was not $1 billion, it was not $1 million, but at the end of the day it was in the thousands, and that was rectified.
However, my question is on what this $3 billion, when it is spread out, could do for health care. Right now we are seeing many of the hospitals having to charge more and more for parking to pay their bills. How could that money, which could be allocated to health care, help people who cannot afford to pay for parking when they visit their loved ones when they are sick?
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 9:50 am | Ontario, Ottawa South
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague's speech and I think I heard him say that the money would appear, that somehow it is going to materialize. That is interesting. We will wait to see how that all works out. However, I would like to ask him a question about money that we know exactly how it was spent, and that is money that relates to government advertising. I would like him and his colleagues to listen for a second and then explain how he can justify this when looking into the eyes of his constituents.
The government has erected 9,000 billboards at a cost of $29 million. It is running economic action plans now on an annual basis at about $100 million a year. It spent $23 million doing media monitoring for 60% of the backbench MPs in the Conservative caucus. It is spending $90,000 per advertisement on each and every ad during the hockey playoff series. That alone would pay for 40 to 50 additional summer student jobs. Can the member and other members of the Conservative caucus, who I am sure are ashamed of this, explain to Canadians how this is possibly defensible given the situation we are in now economically?
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 8:55 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville
Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the hon. member focus on today's issue, not on something from decades ago.
He says that he thinks the $3.1 billion will be identified in due course. What does that mean? The Auditor General said the information was not available. How can he say that it will be identified in due course when the Auditor General said that the information does not exist?
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 8:50 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from the Green Party for that excellent comparison. I think it is telling when the Conservatives bring in a third party administrator to deal with an impoverished, small aboriginal community, maybe dealing with, I do not know, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then they slough it off when $3.1 billion goes missing under their watch.
I think this shows a certain tendency to take on small, poor communities with a vengeance and to simply ignore the problem of $3.1 billion going missing under their watch.
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 8:35 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this matter.
The subject, of course, concerns the missing $3.1 billion. Why are we here today? Among the many troubling revelations in the Auditor General's spring report was a rotten Easter egg in the form of a $3.1 billion hole in the government's public security and anti-terrorism spending. It turns out the Treasury Board Secretariat simply cannot find the money. Notwithstanding the opposition members' statements to the contrary, it is abundantly clear from the report that they cannot locate that $3.1 billion.
It is not surprising coming from this President of the Treasury Board. Simple details like the term “border infrastructure” can mean gazebos in his riding. Or what about $5 billion in budget cuts announced last year? We still do not know where those cuts are, which is why the former parliamentary budget officer had to take the government to court.
What is worrying is that this audit only covered public security and anti-terrorism funding. We have no information on other government programs. We have no idea what other programs and services that middle-class families rely on are not getting the funding the government says they are.
In the Auditor General's report, the Treasury Board provided three possible explanations for where the missing billions were: one, the money lapsed, in other words was not spent; two, it was spent on public safety and anti-terrorism, but was not properly recorded; or three, it was carried forward and spent on non-public safety and anti-terrorism programs.
Those are mathematically what the options must be. It was not spent, it was spent on public security or it was spent on things other than public security. The government simply has no way of knowing which of those three options was the more prevalent. They all stem from the same problem: the TBS tracking process for those funds was not developed enough to keep track of everything.
However, it was a tracking system. I was completely blown away to read in the report at paragraph 8.24 that:
In 2010, the Treasury Board approved the Secretariat’s request to end the government-wide reporting requirements on Initiative spending. The last reports entered into the database are those related to the 2008–09 fiscal year. The Secretariat stated that it would develop a new mechanism for managing and collecting performance information on the Public Security Initiatives. At the time of the audit, a project was in the pilot stage, but a new mechanism was not yet in place.
This is deeply concerning. It would appear the Treasury Board now has no system at all to monitor public safety and anti-terrorism spending. We have actually regressed. The Treasury Board promises to have a new system in place by March 2014, nearly a year from now and four years from when it killed the original system. Whatever the flaws of the old system, certainly it must have been better than nothing. Or perhaps it was not, but right now what it has had for three years is nothing in terms of monitoring those public expenditures on security.
I turn now to the response we have had from the government on this matter. The President of the Treasury Board has repeatedly told this House that all the money is accounted for and can be found in the public accounts for the years 2001 to 2009. This is a laughable response. Every financial transaction is “recorded” in the public accounts to some extent. What we do not have is any details in terms of where that money is in the public accounts. We know it is in the public accounts, but we do not know where in the public accounts, so in that sense it is truly missing.
The minister's response did not provide us with any information, nor does it do anything to calm the concerns of Canadians that the current government simply cannot keep track of its own money. That is why I have asked the Conservatives, in a written question, to detail where in the public accounts these funds can be found. I eagerly look forward to their reply.
As I said previously, we do not know if there is a systemic problem with other categories of expenses. The Auditor General only examined public safety and anti-terrorism funding. Again, we do not know if other funding destined for services for middle-class Canadians may not also be missing.
I also want to share my concerns about the NDP's reaction to this matter. The NDP motion we are debating today demonstrates a curious lack of understanding about the role and powers of the Auditor General.
The Liberals support publishing the information related to this audit so that Parliament and Canadians can examine it for themselves. However, the portion with respect to turning the data over to the Auditor General is interesting, as he already has that power. He certainly would have looked at all the relevant information. We do not need a motion to ask him to get the information to which he is already entitled.
Subsection 13(1) of the Auditor General Act states:
Except as provided by any other Act of Parliament that expressly refers to this subsection, the Auditor General is entitled to free access at all convenient times to information that relates to the fulfilment of his or her responsibilities and he or she is also entitled to require and receive from members of the federal public administration any information, reports and explanations that he or she considers necessary for that purpose.
The law is perfectly clear on this matter. The Auditor General would not have had to contend with security matters either, as subsections 13(2) and 13(3) also grant the Auditor General access to secret materials as long as his staff take the oaths required of public servants handling such information.
Therefore, it is fair to say that access to the required information was not a problem for the Auditor General. The problem was that the information did not exist.
This is also a question of resources. I would contend that if that money could have been found, then the Treasury Board would have found it during its consultations with the Auditor General on this report. No government wants the Auditor General to tell the public that we have lost $3.1 billion. It is the worst-case scenario. I imagine many Treasury Board officials worked late hours trying to find the missing money. I have no doubt that if it could have been located, it would have been, and the Auditor General's office would have been shown exactly where it was. It is purely a case of self-interest. I imagine the government and the public servants worked very hard to find the missing money, and did not, because the information did not exist.
That said, of course we are in no way opposed to giving the Auditor General more resources. If his office thinks that more resources would help answer this question, then let us provide more resources.
The Liberals support this motion because more transparency is good. The Auditor General has raised serious concerns about the systems used to track government expenditures, and Canadians deserve to see how it is done so that they can judge the government's track record.
Before I move on to the next portion of my remarks, I want to comment on the general tone of the NDP's response to this matter.
Good government is about solutions. However, we do not see many solutions emanating from the NDP. I find this particularly surprising, considering how plainly obvious the solution to this problem is. Perhaps it is simply easier to point fingers and try to score political points. I was dismayed to see the member for Pontiac ignore an obvious solution proposed by the committee we are both members of. The solution is to change how the government appropriates money.
The government operations and estimates committee held a wide-ranging and in-depth study on the process of supply. We heard from experts inside and outside the government, including former parliamentarians, the Auditor General, a former clerk of the House, other governments and the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Our committee made numerous recommendations, some of which the government has endorsed, others not so much.
However, the most important recommendation that was made was to transition the estimates from their current vote structure to a program-based structure. Our current vote structure is archaic and cannot keep up with the size and scope of 21st century government. Its failings are well known.
Most departments have three votes: operating, which means paying for public servants and hydro bills; capital, for acquisitions; and grants and contributions, the funds that are handed out to Canadians.
If a department wants to transfer money inside its vote, it only needs the approval of the Treasury Board, not Parliament. It only has to tell us if it wants to switch money between the votes, such as as fire a public servant and buy a new ministerial limo.
The best example of this problem may be the G8 legacy fund debacle. As a consequence of the confusion with our current system, parliamentarians thought that when they approved the supply bill, they were authorizing money specifically for the border infrastructure fund. That was not the case.
In fact, Parliament approved a single massive pot of money for infrastructure construction; the only condition was that the money be spent on infrastructure. That is why the Treasury Board was able to create a new program, the G8 legacy fund, and provide it with funding by taking money from the border infrastructure program. The Conservatives did not have to tell Parliament they were doing this, since the money all came from the same large pot that Parliament had approved for infrastructure. However, if Parliament had to approve spending by programs rather than in the current way, this would have been impossible, and we would also have been able to track public security spending.
Therefore, our primary proposition is to amend the NDP motion to include a solution to the problem, and the evident solution so that this will never happen in the future is to do the estimates according to programs rather than according to the current archaic system.
I would like to read my proposed amendment.
I move, seconded by the member for Bourassa, that the motion be amended by adding the following: “And that, in order to avoid losing funds in the future, the House requests that the government take all actions necessary to transition to program-based appropriations according to the timeline provided to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.”
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 8:30 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville
Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member over there is denying the undeniable.
In the Auditor General's report, he said:
However, information to explain the difference of $3.1 billion between the funding allocated to departments and agencies and the amount reported spent was not available.
In other words, the money may have been spent appropriately. It may be in the public accounts. Perhaps it lapsed or perhaps it was spent. We do not know what it was spent on.
How can the hon. member possibly deny that this $3.1 billion is missing, in the sense that we do not know what it was spent on, or whether it was even spent? That is very clear from the Auditor General's report.
- MPlibMay 09, 2013 8:20 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville
Mr. Speaker, it is very clear from the Auditor General's report that he cannot identify where the $3.1 billion was spent or whether it was spent, so in that case it is truly missing. However, I would like to read from the auditor general's report of late 2004, Sheila Fraser, who had this to say about the anti-terrorism initiative:
The current management framework of the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism initiative met most of our audit criteria. The vast majority of funds allocated in the 2001 Budget have been channelled to identified priority areas. In addition, the Treasury Board Secretariat is taking care to track spending...
At the end of 2004, it was tracking the spending so the problem came later, presumably under the Conservative government.
Could the member indicate what went wrong once the Conservatives came to power?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 2:10 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra
Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has some arguments to make that completely ignore the fact that it is imperative to actually do something that works. The Conservative government has failed to do that. While positioning itself as a government that has gone half the way to meeting its obligations under its own rather weak targets, it turns out it was wrong. The Conservatives were actually calculating what would happen if oil and gas emissions and other carbon emissions skyrocketed and counting halfway down from that. They actually are on track to increasing emissions since 2005, not reducing them by 17% as they had proposed.
The International Energy Agency, which represents energy industries, says that low-carbon energy technologies must be developed, so we can avoid the potentially devastating effects of global warming.
That is the IEA saying that. What are the Conservatives doing besides trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Canadian public?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 2:05 pm | Quebec, Lac-Saint-Louis
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage talked about the Canadian public rejecting certain ideas and so on but, if I recall, the Conservative Party, especially when Mr. Obama was on the rise, embraced the idea of carbon markets, and people voted for it. Therefore, it seems to me that the Canadian public was supporting the kinds of policies that would help combat climate change. It is just that the Conservatives did not deliver. What would the member say to that?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 2:05 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra
Mr. Speaker, it is a very accurate observation. The Conservatives ran twice, in 2006 and in 2008, on a promise to do a cap and trade system, which is a carbon market system, which is one of the principal ways of putting a price on carbon. Therefore it is true, the public must have perceived that the Conservative Party and its government might be willing to act, but unfortunately that was not the case.
Not only that, many of the organizations that are pointing at the best way to manage this and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a way that is fair, effective and efficient are organizations like the government's own appointed National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. As soon as its members use the word “climate change”, that is it, it is history. This is not a government that anymore is interested in having advice and counsel on how to be effective.
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 2:00 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra
Mr. Speaker, I think I may have hit a bit of a nerve on the other side of the aisle. I have not seen the Minister of Canadian Heritage this excited in a long while. I would note that it is out of the mouth of that member that some very negative characterizations of the public have come, not from mine. Perhaps that is what the member thinks of the public.
However, I will answer one part of that diatribe and that has to do with our carbon resources. Our carbon resources are important assets and it is the oil and gas industry itself that is saying it wants a level playing field. It is the industry itself that is saying pricing carbon through a carbon tax is actually a more cost-effective way than through this cumbersome, red tape, regulatory framework that the government is talking about and has yet to even launch. Seven years of government and it has done nothing.
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 1:40 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have an opportunity to be part of this important debate on an important subject: climate change. However, I am also very disappointed to have a debate that is predicated on one of the parties in the House, the New Democratic Party, playing politics with such an important issue. The time is long past when we should be using this as a topic to divide parties, to insert into the motion some text that makes it an egregious insult to those in the Liberal Party of Canada who have done so much good work on this issue and have advanced this issue so far. Frankly, this is not worthy of the good intentions and the integrity of the members of the New Democratic Party. I was very disappointed to see this issue being used in this way.
The time to debate the science of climate change is over. Apparently there are some Conservative members who are speaking out because perhaps they still think that climate change science should be denied or mistrusted. Frankly, they are in such a small minority on this planet at this point that they are marginalizing themselves.
What we have is an issue that crosses countries, crosses cultures and crosses everything. It is a human species issue. As a species, we need to co-operate to solve this issue. This issue is so complex that it touches people in the whole range of our society, the whole range of the global community, and we need to work co-operatively together. We cannot advance on this issue with the kind of divisive tactics that frankly this motion itself embodies. That is my disappointment.
It is not a Canadian issue; it is a global issue. The atmosphere does not have national boundaries. We will be experiencing the effects of American, Chinese, French and every other country's greenhouse gas emissions, and vice versa. This is an issue that is costing lives. It is costing species, and it is costing the security of our future on this planet.
It is not just low-lying islands such as Tuvalu or low-lying deltas in South Asia; it is also the forests of British Columbia, where we have 70 million cubic metres of pine that have been decimated by changing climate and warmer winters. It is not just the floods in Manhattan that cost billions; it is also floods in Winnipeg, in first nations communities around Winnipeg, and in low-lying suburbs of greater Vancouver. It is not just droughts in the mid-west or the huge costly drought in Australia and China; it is also droughts in the Nicola Valley in British Columbia, droughts that are costing the Okanagan Valley wineries and having an impact on the Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg.
Salmon is the iconic species of British Columbia and first nations. We saw a 90% drop in the Fraser River sockeye salmon returns, and climate change is part of that impact. Do we accept a world in which we might not have salmon in British Columbia in 50 years because of acidification of our ocean, because of the warming of the streams in which those young salmon fry have to survive and because of the change in the food cycle that nourishes the salmon when they come into the ocean? That is impacting our salmon right now, and the situation is already desperate for many salmon species.
We are in a race against time. The climate change issue is urgent.
Canadians and people around the world are driving a car with a broken engine. Arguing about it is not going to fix anything. We need to work together to have a car that will win this race, because it is a race for humanity.
It is not just future generations as some theoretical concept. It is the people who are alive today. Think about the projections. There is a 10% chance that the vast majority of this planet will not be able to support human habitation—not be able to grow food, not have adequate fresh water, not have fish protein for human consumption—by the end of this century.
My niece's son is one year old. That means that he will be 88. It is the people alive today who are faced with the risks that our society is imposing on their future, and that is completely unacceptable. We need to co-operate to deal with this. We cannot keep playing political games, which this motion embodies.
The motion talks about a grave concern about the impact of a 2° rise in global average temperature. For all the lack of commitment on the Conservative Party's part, that party did sign the Copenhagen accord. The Copenhagen accord, which is operational immediately, states:
We underline that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. We emphasize our strong political will to urgently combat climate change in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
Where is the urgency in the government's action? There are urgent communications that try to convince Canadians that it is doing something, when, in fact, it is taking us backward with every month that passes. In the Copenhagen accord the Conservative government signed, it further states:
We agree that deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science, and as documented by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report with a view to reduce global emissions...so as to hold consistent with science and on the basis of equity. We should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible...
This is what the Conservatives actually signed, but what they are doing is completely antithetical to that supposed commitment. Unfortunately, this is a government that has consistently embarrassed Canada on the international stage and has been obstructive in climate change negotiations,. It has even ripped up its binding legal international agreement under Kyoto.
One would think that it is not an issue of concern to take that kind of step and smear Canada's reputation on the world stage. One would think that would suggest that this is not an issue for the Conservatives. In fact, that is what their actions would suggest.
The new president of the International Monetary Fund has been very clear that climate change is one of the major economic threats facing the future of the global economy. The government does not seem to consider it a concern at all.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, a former Conservative finance manager of France, stated that the real wild card in the pack of economic pivot points is “increasing vulnerability from resource scarcity and climate change, with the potential for major social and economic disruption”. As I said, she called climate change “the greatest economic challenge of the 21st century”. That is something one would imagine the Conservative government would actually take account of. On the contrary, this is a government that has a focus on accelerating the development of Canada's fossil fuel commodities, from oil sands to shale gas to coal, at the expense of capturing virtually any of the market investment in the thriving clean energy market.
I am quoting from a study called Competing in Clean Energy. Capitalizing on Canadian innovation in a $3 trillion economy. This is a market that is set to grow much more quickly than the other aspects of our economy. “In Canada, our venture capital investment”, especially from large institutional investors in terms of the clean tech sector, “has declined from around $3.3 billion in 2000 to less than $1 billion this year” with Canadian “companies securing only two per cent of clean energy patents granted in the United States since 2002 (compared to Korea’s five per cent, Germany’s seven per cent, Japan’s 26 per cent...).”
The advice of the Canadian clean energy sector is to have a level playing field, have some certainty for business, get rid of the subsidies for the oil and gas industry, subsidies that include the absence of a price on carbon, that include the absence of actually regulating that industry.
There has been a lot of talk but there has been no action. The Conservative government's plans in that regard are also considered to be amongst the most ineffective and costly approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
I do want to add that there are enormous opportunities to take action on greenhouse gas emissions but there are also economic costs to not taking action, and not just environmental costs as the member for Etobicoke North has been so eloquently able to lay out for us today.
Those are the kinds of tariffs that other countries are putting in place, carbon taxes, like Japan's on our coal exports to Japan. Canada now has a massive wealth transfer of approximately $400 million every year into the Japanese treasury because Japan has a price on carbon and Canada does not. That is just the beginning.
Japan is poised to put the same legislation in place for oil, natural gas, and bitumen, so that for all of those products exported to Japan the Japanese government will collect a tariff. There will be a massive wealth transfer into the Japanese treasury, a competitor nation, because of a failure to act by the government in Canada.
I want to go to the section in this motion, “condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments”.
I will start by asking the member for Windsor West, who was celebrating the reductions that Lafarge cement has made. That is to be celebrated. In my province it is not just the cement industry, it was the aluminum industry, the pulp industry, the transportation industry, and the oil and gas industry.
These industries began to make changes to their processes and technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They started to do that back around 2000, because of the Liberal government's voluntary reduction registry. It worked. There was up to 35% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by the pulp sector.
The idea that the Liberal government did nothing is completely fallacious. In fact, I was right at the table in those days. I was the environment minister in British Columbia from 2001 to 2004. I had a chance, not as a federal Liberal but as a member of a provincial government, to witness the activities of the federal Liberal government of the day.
What I want to say is that when we have an issue that is this woven through the fabric of our society and requires this much co-operation, it also requires education and understanding. That is what the Liberal government, from 1997, when it signed the Kyoto protocol, began to do. It began to educate the Canadian public who at that point did not know much about this.
I understand some members here have been deeply engaged in this issue for many years, not the ones who have been cackling from across the aisle, but some on this side of the House.
In fact, I wrote my Master of Business Administration thesis on just this issue in 1992.
However, the bulk of the public was not aware of the issue when the Liberal government began working on it, so part of what the government did was begin to bring the public on board and have public understanding of individual actions that could take place, co-operating with the public. Part of what the Liberal government did was work through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, FCM, so that the municipalities understood their role in it. They started to become champions for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, we see these municipalities and federations, whether they are provincial or countrywide, as leaders in greenhouse gas reduction because of their partnerships co-operating with the federal Liberal government of the day.
The Liberal government began working with industry, and began industry-by-industry negotiations so that the kinds of reductions that they would make would not harm their competitive chances or their businesses, but would contribute to greenhouse gas emission reductions. It worked, and it worked right across the country. Then they began working with provincial governments, and I was the representative of our provincial government. I witnessed the Liberals of the day in 2001, 2002, and 2003 undertake an extensive set of modelling.
How we can actually accomplish our goals in a way that is fairest for the provinces, the industry, and individuals, and is as cost-effective as possible? The modelling and those conclusions were then brought to me and to the provinces to reflect on, to analyze, and to give input on. Then, the modelling was redone, taking in the information provided by the provinces. That is called consultation. I know that the Conservative government of today does not even know that word. Why consult? It knows better than anybody about everything. Well, the Liberal government consulted and that is how it got the provinces on board.
In British Columbia, I had the privilege of leading an initiative that brought the captains of industry and others who were interested in the issue together to work with our cabinet on how we could move forward on it. Out of that, we came up with a climate change plan in 2004 that involved every ministry reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions and those of its partners.
Following that, in 2007, in the throne speech, the Government of British Columbia launched its greenhouse gas reduction plan, which is widely admired across North America today. An audit has shown that greenhouse gas emissions have actually declined by 15% since 2008 under the B.C. Liberal greenhouse gas reduction plan at minimal or no impact to the economy. That ties into the partnership that the federal Liberal government made with the provinces to create bilateral agreements to support the provinces in bringing forward their own plans and carrying out their own activities.
The Liberal government, in 2005, had project green, the final piece of its road map to action. It was a regulatory tool that would have accomplished the Kyoto targets had the Government of Canada not changed.
The Liberals did nothing? That is one of the biggest fictions of our politics today. The Liberals set the entire framework for the actions that have been carried out, and I was there as witness to it. British Columbia was on board because of it.
What happened next? What happened in the fall of 2005, when the Liberals were poised to put that last piece of the puzzle in place? The NDP made the decision that it knew better. It thought it would be better to have a Conservative government. It thought it would be better for climate change to have the current Prime Minister in charge. It would be better for Canada's reputation to pull down the government of the day and put a Conservative government into the driver's seat. What a mistake.
However, for the NDP to bring this motion forward, claiming that the Liberals did nothing, is the height of hypocrisy. It is very disappointing to me, as someone who works constructively, I would like to believe, with many members of the NDP.
I know my time is drawing to a close. I am just getting going here. I am having a lot of fun, but I remain highly disappointed that we have to have partisan wedge issue motions--
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 1:35 pm | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech and for talking about severe weather.
Severe weather is jeopardizing the lives of Canadians, their livelihoods and their property. Losses from natural catastrophes in Canada are rising; in fact, claim payouts from severe weather have doubled every five to ten years since the 1980s.
The national round table study predicts that the cost of flooding alone due to climate change will be between $1 billion and $8 billion per year by the 2050s.
Climate change is a significant and emerging threat to public health, with considerable effects on the Canadian economy. It therefore seems strange that the Minister of the Environment claimed that staying in Kyoto would cost the country $14 billion but thinks it is okay to saddle our children with actual and not trumped-up annual adaptation costs of $21 billion to $43 billion by 2050.
What specific adaptation measures is the NDP suggesting to reduce the direct human health impact of climate change?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 1:20 pm | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague talked about climate impacts on human health, and I would like to build on that.
With warmer temperatures, extreme weather events are also likely to increase, but stormy weather is already hitting Canadians hard. The 1998 ice storm in Quebec downed 3,000 transmission towers, left millions without power and cost $5.4 billion. In 2010, severe hail storms in Calgary damaged crops, dented cars and cost $400 million.
Past heatwaves underscore possible health impacts. In 1936, Canada experienced its deadliest heat wave. For two weeks, temperatures were above 44°C and 1,180 Canadians died. In 2003, Europe experienced its hottest summer since 1500, killing almost 15,000 in France alone.
My question is: What specific adaptation measures would the NDP recommend to reduce the indirect human health impacts of climate change?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 1:10 pm | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, I would like the hon. member to know that while the Conservative government deployed Canadian diplomats to lobby Fortune 500 companies in the United States to counter a global warming campaign, 2011 proved to be the year of weather extremes in the states. In fact, 14 extreme weather events caused losses of $1 billion U.S. each. The worst tornado outbreak in history hit the southern states, with April recording a staggering 753 tornadoes and beating the previous record by a startling 39%. The Conservative government continues to fail in meeting international climate change commitments, setting science-based emission reduction targets, developing incentives for low carbon technologies and putting in place adaptation measures necessary to respond to the risks of climate change.
I will ask again: What does his government plan to do to close the megatonne gap?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 12:55 pm | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend and I disagree on the science part. The government cuts climate science, research and programs and it muzzles its scientists. The government even cut the climate impacts adaptation research group, many members of which share the 2007 Nobel Prize for climate change.
The Global Legislators Organisation released its third climate legislation study, the most comprehensive audit of climate legislation in the world's major developed and emerging economies. The report showed substantial legislative progress in 18 of the 33 study countries, flagship legislation in 31 countries and limited development in 14. For the first time ever, however, it reported negative progress for one country, Canada, which regressed following the Conservative government's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol.
I would like to know what my hon. colleague's government will do about the crucial megatonne grab.
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 12:35 pm | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, today is a profoundly sad day in this House, the people's House. The NDP had an opportunity to lead a serious debate on climate change, but instead it led a political stunt meant to divide and not advance the issue. The NDP even claimed it was the only party able to address climate change. How terribly sad. Each party should be fighting for real action on climate change. That is why I founded the all-party climate change caucus and chair it.
I would like to know why the NDP took this ideological route on such a serious issue, the most pressing environmental issue facing the planet?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 10:30 am | Quebec, Lac-Saint-Louis
Mr. Speaker, it is all about trust. The question really comes down to whether we can trust the Conservative government to do the right thing when it comes to promoting sustainable development.
A couple of years ago the opposition was saying that we have a problem in the oil sands in that the oil sands were polluting the Athabasca watershed. For many months members of the government said that if there was bitumen in the Athabasca River, it was from natural causes.
Then Dr. David Schindler did some research, and we launched a study at the environment committee to look into the problem. Two years later, the government was forced to do a 180° turn. This leads us to believe that the government needs to be pushed up against the wall before it will acknowledge there is a problem with sustainable development and act on it.
Could my colleague tell me why we should trust the government to do the right thing? Anything it does, it does begrudgingly.
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 9:35 am | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills the same question I asked his previous colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands with respect to the approach the government likes to talk about, the regulatory approach.
The government never mentions anywhere in there that there might be a price to pay and that the price may be paid by the consumer. It talks about regulatory approach with respect to car emissions and coal-fired generating stations.
Hopefully, we will get an answer to a very simple question. There are costs associated with taking those regulatory steps. Would he acknowledge that some of this cost will be passed on to the consumer?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 9:20 am | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie
Mr. Speaker, the government likes to talk about its “regulatory approach to emissions”. On the face of it, without explaining it, it sounds like something that may have no cost that is then passed on to anyone. If regulatory approaches were perfect, we all would have used them a long time ago, but there are, of course, costs associated with them.
Does the member think those costs are absorbed by the sector affected by the new regulations, or are those costs ultimately passed on to the consumer?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 9:05 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, in 2012, the Arctic region ominously broke records in the loss of summer sea ice and spring snow cover and the melting of Greenland's ice sheets. Parliamentarians should be seeking answers to some vital questions. How will changes in the Canadian Arctic affect climate change globally through changing ocean circulation, decreasing reflectivity and increasing carbon release from thawing permafrost? How can the fragile Arctic environment be protected when the Arctic becomes more accessible?
The question I would like to ask my colleague is this, because the NDP is talking about adaptation. How can indigenous people, animals and plants living in the Arctic adapt to climate change?
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 8:50 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, climate has a profound impact on our lives. Climate and weather effect the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. Climate variables such as heat, humidity and precipitation can effect the spread of infectious diseases and the emergence of new pathogens. A Canadian Medical Association report in 2008 said that air pollution would lead to 620,000 doctor's office visits, 92,000 emergency department visits and 11,000 hospital admissions.
Since the NDP is suggesting the government put forth an adaptation plan, which is very important, I wonder what the NDP would recommend to protect the health of Canadians from climate change and what adaptation strategies it would recommend.
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 8:35 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party had project green. Ten billion dollars would have taken us 80% of the way to meeting our Kyoto targets.
We would like the government to recognize that not maintaining the average global temperature rise at less than 2° Celsius places us in serious danger. We need a comprehensive climate change plan. We need a green economy strategy. We need a pan-Canadian sustainable energy strategy.
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 8:30 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, I have been very clear. Our party will be voting against the motion. While we do agree that 2° Celsius represents a grave concern, we cannot agree with the dishonest second part of the NDP motion.
I will repeat. Within three weeks of the Kyoto protocol coming into force, the Liberal government reached an agreement with Canada's carmakers. Within two months of Kyoto coming into force, the Liberal government announced details of its Kyoto implementation plan, project green, pledging $10 billion to cut greenhouse gases by 270 megatonnes a year.
However, in 2006, with the help of the NDP, the Conservative government came to power and immediately killed project green, which would have got us 80% of the way of meeting our Kyoto targets. Sadly, the Conservative government has reduced those targets by an astonishing 90% and claims it can get us 50% of the way there by simply changing the accounting rules.
- MPlibApr 25, 2013 8:05 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North
Mr. Speaker, climate change is the most pressing environmental issue facing the planet. Climate change is real. It is happening now. It is an issue of today and not of tomorrow. Serious impacts are associated with the two degrees Celsius stabilization target, including an increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and sea-level rise.
The World Economic Forum, or WEF, recently ranked climate change the third-biggest concern, overall, of 1,000 experts surveyed. Failure to adapt to climate change was listed as the biggest single environmental hazard facing the planet. Moreover, the WEF listed runaway climate change as its first serious x factor, an emerging concern with unknown consequences. It even raised the question of whether humans have already triggered a runaway chain reaction that is rapidly tipping earth's atmosphere into an inhospitable state.
Canada's 1998 ice storm cost $5.4 billion. The 1996 Saguenay flood cost $1.7 billion. A 2005 rain event in Toronto cost $625 million in insured losses. The now defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy warned that climate change is expensive, with annual $21-billion to $43-billion adaptation costs for Canadians by 2015.
The countries most vulnerable to climate change understand that 2015, the date by which to adopt a universal climate change agreement, is already too late. The two degrees Celsius target will likely be missed. Some developed countries remain insensitive to their predicament. Some islands will likely become submerged. Their hopes for enhanced global support to aid their efforts have continually been disappointed.
At stake is the future of our children and grandchildren. In light of the financial burdens to the next generations, the impacts on Canada's agriculture, environment, fisheries, forest, water, et cetera and ultimately on Canadians and on international communities, such as Bangladesh, which might lose one-fifth of its land mass and suffer the displacement of 20 million people with a one-metre rise in sea level, it is extremely disappointing that instead of having a serious debate on what Canada should be doing to mitigate and adapt to climate change, the New Democrats have chosen to politicize a fundamentally human issue.
I am very surprised that the New Democrats would choose to attack the Liberal Party on this issue, given their party's less than stellar role in combatting climate change.
In 2005, it was the NDP's political antics that led to the fall of the Liberal government, thereby knowingly ending any chance that Canada would take real action on climate change. The Liberal government's project green would have, in fact, taken Canada 80% of the way to meeting its Kyoto targets. The Conservatives have since reduced the previous Liberal government's greenhouse gas emissions targets by an astonishing 90% and will not even meet their very weak target.
My friend and colleague for over two decades, the leader of the Green Party, blamed the NDP for putting politics ahead of the planet, risking the collapse of an urgent climate change conference in 2005 aimed at salvaging the Kyoto protocol. She begged the NDP to rethink the issue. A newspaper article stated, when the leader of the Green Party wrote her 2009 book,
“It was to no avail,” she wrote, highlighting the incident as proof that both [the NDP] and [the current Prime Minister] were willing to sacrifice the key Kyoto negotiations...
I have spent the last 25 years researching climate change, consulting for Environment Canada, serving on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, speaking around the world on climate change and its impacts, undertaking research 500 miles from the North Pole, and watching the glaciers recede and recede. I came to Ottawa to fight for real action on climate change, and I currently chair the all-party climate change caucus, which I founded. I also serve on two United Nations bodies, one regarding climate change and the second one regarding disaster preparedness.
It is, therefore, painful to say that the Liberal Party will not be supporting the NDP's motion as the motion is dishonest about my party's record on climate change. I ensure my speeches are accurate and scientifically rigorous, and that my arguments are fact-based and not hyperbole and rhetoric. The Liberal Party does agree with two of the three sections of the NDP motion, namely, that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2° Celsius rise in global average temperature and the government should immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.
Let me set the record straight on the Liberal Party's action on climate change and then outline the wilfully blind position of the current Conservative government and what it should be doing to protect the future.
In 1998, Canada signed the Kyoto protocol, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6% from 1990 levels by the commitment period ending in 2012. In 2000, the Liberal government introduced its action plan 2000 on climate change and committed $500 million on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or GHGs.
In 2002, Canada formally ratified the Kyoto protocol. The Liberal government called it “an important milestone in Canada's contribution to addressing climate change”. The government also released “Climate Change: Achieving our Commitments Together”, which proposed a three-stage strategy to achieve GHG reduction goals through incentives, regulations, and tax measures.
In 2003, the Liberal government pledged an additional $1 billion for its climate change plan and offered incentives to consumers and industry. Total federal spending on Kyoto reached $3.7 billion. In 2004, the Liberal government issued the one-tonne challenge, which called for every Canadian to cut GHG emissions through such activities as recycling, taking public transit, and using programmable thermostats. From the early 1990s, I have been challenging my own students at the university to reduce their personal and family GHGs.
In 2005, the Kyoto protocol officially came into force. Within three weeks of the date, the Liberal government and Canada's carmakers reached an agreement regarding emission standards. Car companies were to produce vehicles that would cut emissions by 5.3 megatonnes by 2010 as part of Ottawa's Kyoto plan. Within two months of Kyoto coming into force, the Liberal government announced details of its Kyoto implementation plan, project green, pledging $10 billion to cut greenhouse gases by 270 megatonnes a year by 2008 to 2012. However, in 2006, with the help of the NDP, the Conservative government came to power and immediately killed project green. Independent third-party stakeholders stated that the plan would have allowed Canada to come close to meeting its Kyoto targets.
Since coming to power the Conservative government has reduced the Liberal GHG targets by an astonishing 90%, spent $9.2 billion and claims it is half way to meeting its very weak GHG targets. The Conservative government's latter claim is particularly remarkable given that as recently as the fall of 2011, the government was on track to reach only 25% of its very weak target.
Weak target or not, how did the government manage to improve its performance by an astounding 100% in just over six months? First, the government used a higher start value, a projected value, rather than actual emissions. Second, it changed the accounting rules. Third, the government took credit for someone else's hard work. The June 2012 report from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy made it clear that action taken by the provinces and territories is really responsible for three-quarters of Canada's GHG reductions. Moreover, the round table's report echoed that of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which showed that in 2020 Canada's emissions would be 7% above the 2005 level rather than the promised 17% below.
Fourth, the government removed any climate accountability measures through its draconian omnibus bill, Bill C-38, which repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. Because of the repeal, the government will no longer have to publish the climate change plan each year, detailing the measures being taken to meet Canada's commitment. Moreover, the round table will no longer be required to assess each year's plan and offer expert feedback. In fact, the round table no longer even exists as it failed to comply with Conservative ideology. Moreover, the commissioner will no longer have to report regularly on Canada's progress in implementing its climate plan.
Because of the lack of climate accountability measures, Canadians will continue to suffer a Minister of Natural Resources who casts doubt on climate change science saying that, “People aren't as worried as they were before about global warming of 2° and scientists have recently told us that our fears on climate change are exaggerated.” Even flat earth proponents eventually came around. What will it take to convince the natural resources minister that climate change is real?
Because of the lack of climate accountability measures, Canadians will continue to suffer a government that repeats its mantra, namely, that its sector-by-sector approach to climate change is working. Sadly, the approach is just a delay tactic. The government has tackled only two sectors in six years and is yet to take action on the oil and gas sector. Perhaps instead of repeating tired lines, the government should actually review the evidence and experience first-hand what Canadians are living.
The reality is the world is getting hotter. The warmest 13 years of average global temperatures have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. Increased global average temperatures are expected to increase droughts and floods, and other extreme weather patterns. Recent record-breaking temperatures for June 2012 are what we would expect from climate change. In fact, records for the contiguous United States that have been kept since 1895 show that July 2012 was the hottest month ever.
Whether the government accepts or minimizes the fact that record-breaking temperatures and extreme precipitation are likely changing on a global scale as a result of anthropogenic influences, many Canadians are feeling the economic impacts. In Canada, catastrophic events cost approximately $1.6 billion in 2011 and almost $1 billion in each of the two previous years. In 2012, in many regions across Canada, farmers struggled with hot, dry conditions that devastated their crops.
The Ontario provincial government asked for federal support to help farmers dealing with drought. Farmers were forced to sell their livestock at low prices because the drought had raised feed costs beyond what they could afford. Increasing evidence shows drought conditions will become the norm rather than the exception.
What needs to be done on climate change and done immediately? The NDP is calling for a climate adaptation plan and this is important. For many years, I consulted to Environment Canada's adaptation and impacts research group. Many of its members share the 2007 Nobel Prize on climate change, but it has since been dismantled by the Conservative government. The NDP fails to mention mitigation in its motion. We need both mitigation and adaptation. I will briefly describe omitted mitigation options.
We need sustainable development of our natural resources and all decisions must be based on scientific evidence, must safeguard our environment and natural habitats, and must respect the legal and historical rights of aboriginal people. The federal government must recognize that non-renewable high carbon energy sources are unsustainable. Canada must also have a plan for a transition to more sustainable energy sources and a pan-Canadian sustainable energy and economic growth strategy to succeed in the global economy and to make progress on this 2020 GHG reduction target.
The federal government should collaborate with relevant federal ministers and departments as well as with provincial, territorial, and municipal leaders in Canada to develop a pan-Canadian sustainable energy strategy.
It must also fully consult and accommodate aboriginal peoples when development projects affect their rights and traditional territories. Such a strategy should ensure fairness to all emitters and emitting sectors and regions. It should also include the creation of new markets and opportunities, and improve competitiveness for Canadian companies, particularly regarding low carbon technologies.
Both renewable energy and energy efficiency offer the promise of economic growth, job creation, energy security, and reductions in GHG emissions. The government should therefore develop an action plan to achieve identified targets for the deployment of low-impact renewable energy in Canada for the years 2020, 2030, 2040, and 2050.
The federal government should also develop an action plan to achieve energy efficiency targets for the same decades. The European Union is now on track to deliver a 15% energy saving below business-as-usual by 2020.
To address climate change effectively, we also need a strategy for sustainable transportation in Canada that sets targets for the coming decades and an action plan for phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies in order to achieve the G20 goal of a medium-term phase-out.
The government should develop an action plan and milestones for increasing energy literacy and research, development and deployment of low carbon technology in Canada. It should work in partnership with the provinces, territories, municipalities, labour organizations, industry sectors, aboriginal peoples, and others to develop a clean energy employment transition strategy.
The stakes are enormous. Leading countries are creating a new energy future and investing billions to be at the front of the curve in the new green economy. While the government invested only $3 billion in green stimulus spending, Germany invested $14 billion; the United States, $112 billion; and China, $221 billion in green infrastructure, and in the process created thousands of new green jobs.
Instead of reverting to 1950s thinking of development at any cost, the government should be mapping the best way forward to a prosperous, energy-secure, and healthy future. The government must understand that it is a choice between being a producer and a consumer in the old economy and being a leader in the new economy. It is a choice between decline and prosperity.
Finally, the government must stop embarrassing Canadians on the world stage. Canada's withdrawal from Kyoto sparked outrage in the global community. A spokesman for France's foreign ministry called the move “bad news for the fight against climate change”. Tuvalu's lead negotiator said, “For a vulnerable country like Tuvalu, it’s an act of sabotage on our future…Withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a reckless and totally irresponsible act.”
Try as the government might, through cutting climate programs and research, and muzzling its scientists, the science of climate change simply will not go away, nor will the recognition of the economic impacts of warming and the growing chorus of countries taking action to combat climate change and gain competitive advantage by transitioning to the green economy.
The NDP and the Conservative government must stop polarizing the climate change discussion and resorting to ideological extremes during debate on the issue. Sadly, while climate change is speeding up, Canada continues to slide backwards on the issue. The Conservative government's only response is to greenwash its deplorable record on the environment.
Canadians deserve better, and our children and grandchildren deserve better, and should not be held hostage to the government's short-sightedness, skepticism, and stonewalling on the greatest challenge facing our planet.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 2:15 pm | Newfoundland, Random—Burin—St. George's
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 45 I ask that the vote be deferred until tomorrow, Thursday, April 25 at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 1:40 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my NDP colleague for her very clear and interesting speech. I appreciate her words of support for this motion, which strives to strengthen the individual freedoms of the members of the House.
I would just like to know if the member will support our motion, which speaks to an important aspect of the role of members. Will she vote in favour of this motion?
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 1:25 pm | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, I just want to say to my colleague that he is right in his interpretation of the alphabetical order. It would be the family name. It would not deprive the Speaker of his power to decide. The House would have to indicate to the Speaker the way we would like to proceed. It would put the power back into the hands of the MPs. The 60 seconds would belong to them. They would not have to compete with the whip's list, because there would not be any whip's list.
It is the only thing that would change. Otherwise, the parties would keep the same spots. Nothing else would change. I think it would be a great improvement.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 1:00 pm | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, I did not hear any comment on the substance of the motion. The hon. minister did not tell us if he thinks it would be an improvement not to have whips' lists and to allow MPs to have the guarantee that they will have their 60 seconds, one after the other, in alphabetical order.
He addressed three items, and I will comment very quickly.
The first one is that we should not affect the power of the Speaker. Obviously we should not and we will not.
He said that the whips' lists do not bind the Speaker. Alphabetical order, by this motion, would not bind the Speaker. We cannot bind the Speaker. We cannot remove the power of the Speaker. We may indicate to the Speaker how the members of the House would like the Speaker to proceed. If my colleague thinks it is not clear enough, he would just have to propose amendments, and we would consider them with openness. We should not be partisan; the cheap partisan jabs in this case are very imprecise and ineffective.
Second, he asked why we should not do it for question period as well. The motion is about statements by members; we will deal with question period another time. It is a step-by-step issue that we need to focus on, and just because we are not able to do everything at the same time does not mean that we should do nothing.
Third, the member asked why the Liberals are not doing it alone. It is because we want to have the same strategy as our friends. If they have a strategy to attack us, we need to be prepared to react. If we have our strategy to offer more leeway to MPs from all parties, we are ready to do it.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 12:50 pm | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, my colleague and neighbour is right. We are indeed proposing to use alphabetical order by last name. It could also be alphabetical order by riding, but we thought this would show even more clearly that we want to focus on individuals, the members as individuals, by using their last names.
As to her second point, which party is most to blame? The member will understand that I do not want to get into that today. First, I am personally involved in the sense that I prefer my own party's behaviour. Second, I am also urging the members of all parties to support this resolutely non-partisan motion. The motion seeks to improve the institution of Parliament by enhancing the members' roles, without weakening party discipline where it is needed.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 12:45 pm | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, I agree. I believe that if members are allowed to speak without fear of losing their speaking time, and if they take turns in alphabetical order, there will be less pressure to make partisan statements.
Naturally, MPs will still be members of a party and they will be proud of that. They will express their party's beliefs, but they will also have the opportunity to spend 60 seconds talking about things they care deeply about. I think that will go a long way toward reducing the excessive partisanship that results from whips telling people what to say.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 12:40 pm | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Mr. Speaker, it is an unlikely problem because I am sure the member's caucus would have in mind that there are too many members willing to speak. We have never had a situation where nobody wanted to speak and we would give the spot to another party. It would never happen. Today the whips find someone, or say which member will speak.
This motion would make it by alphabetical order. If I am unable to speak because I am away or for whatever reason and my colleague from Mount Royal had a pressing declaration to make about something awful happening in the world, which he does so well, I would be pleased to exchange with him. It would be my honour to do so.
- MPlibApr 24, 2013 12:25 pm | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
That Standing Order 31 be amended by adding the following:
“(1) The Speaker shall recognize Members in alphabetical order by Party. For the purposes of this Standing Order, all Members who do not belong to a recognized party shall be grouped together.
(2) When a Member is unable to present his or her statement on the date required by Standing Order 31(1), he or she may indicate in writing to the Speaker at least one hour prior to the beginning of Statement by Members, the name of the Member with whom he or she will exchange position.”.
Mr. Speaker, as we know, Standing Order 31 provides that 15 minutes prior to each question period is dedicated to private members' statements, during which an MP who is not a member of the cabinet may deliver a 60-second statement.
The motion I have the honour of moving today is very simple. It has to do with the order in which members speak during the 15 minutes dedicated to members' statements before question period every day.
The motion proposes that this order no longer be based on a list submitted by party whips to you, Mr. Speaker.
Instead, the motion invites you to recognize members in alphabetical order.
Of course, you would retain your authority to select the member of your choice based on the criteria of fairness, which remains your responsibility.
Indeed, only the Speaker has the right or the authority to recognize or not recognize an MP during private members' statements.
However, the House has indicated its preference for alphabetical order, rather than having lists submitted by party whips.
In that sense, the motion I am bringing forward here today follows on the heels of the Speaker's ruling presented to the House yesterday.
More specifically, here is what the motion says:
That Standing Order 31 be amended by adding the following:
(1) The Speaker shall recognize members in alphabetical order by party. For the purposes of this Standing Order, all members who do not belong to a recognized party shall be grouped together.
(2) When a member is unable to present his or her statement on the date required by Standing Order 31(1), he or she may indicate in writing to the Speaker at least one hour prior to the beginning of statements by members, the name of the member with whom he or she will exchange position.
As we can see, the motion is proposing only one small change: following alphabetical order rather than the whips' lists.
The distribution of the number of statements allocated to each party and to independent MPs would stay the same.
Thus, the Liberal caucus is currently entitled to two statements a day, and it would still have these two daily statements after the motion is adopted.
In other words, the Speaker would be invited to recognize MPs in the order of their last names each day. The alphabetization would be by party, so each party's respective spot would remain.
This motion offers all of the flexibility that is required. If a member is absent or wishes to change positions with another member, it can be arranged. The motion offers enough latitude for a pressing statement to be made by a given member if circumstances warrant.
The objective of the motion is to give more latitude to members and less to party leadership.
I believe that there is a feeling here in the House that there needs to be a better balance between an MP's right to freedom of speech and the need to toe the party line.
This motion is a step in that direction.
I would like to use the recent example of our colleague from Langley to illustrate the scope of this motion.
On March 26, 2013, when our colleague from Langley rose on a point of privilege complaining that the use of lists generated by party whips during private members' statements had prevented him from delivering a statement, he received a large amount of sympathy, from both sides of the House.
During his point of privilege, the MP for Langley explained that he had been scheduled to deliver an S. O. 31 during one of the Conservative-dedicated spots, but was informed 15 minutes prior to private members' statements that his topic had not been approved by the Conservative whip and that consequently he would not be allowed to speak.
Since then, at least 10 other members of the governing party have spoken in support of the point of privilege from the MP for Langley. The NDP House leader, our colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, has also provided a statement in support.
The Speaker's ruling yesterday made it clear that the member for Langley could have risen, attracted the Speaker's attention and eventually been recognized by the Speaker to make a statement. However, he would have been flouting the decision of his whip and his party.
There is no reason for this type of clash between members and their party. We can prevent it by getting rid of the whip's list for members' statements.
Of course, under this proposal MPs belonging to a party may still feel pressure from their whips in terms of the content of their S. O. 31. However, their ability to speak would not be at risk and this in itself would be an improvement.
Members would have control over their own speaking time. They would not have to defy their whip or party to get the chance to speak. Members would not have to openly disregard the whip's list because that list would no longer exist. That would be a useful improvement, but it is still a small one and far from revolutionary. After all, these lists are a relatively recent phenomenon.
The practice of having party whips supply the speaker with lists of MPs to recognize during private members' statements began in 1994. At the start of the 35th Parliament, all recognized parties agreed that party whips would help to coordinate private members' statements by providing lists to the speaker. It is clear that while the original intent of the decision to have party whips prepare speaking lists was to facilitate a sense of order, it was not to allow parties to use the system to silence their members.
Furthermore, there is no indication that whips' lists improve the quality of the statements. To the contrary, while MPs are inclined to use S. O. 31 spots to highlight the achievements of their constituents and recognize important events, parties are more likely to use them for partisan attacks, which may unfortunately lower decorum in the House. While this motion would not ban such partisan attacks, it would very likely reduce them.
That said, this motion is not at odds with the principle of party discipline. It actually supports the proper use of party discipline, which has a useful role in our institutions, but should not be overly rigid.
Members will continue to express their convictions, and these are in line with the policy directions of the party to which they belong. When making their statements, members will continue to keep in mind the strategic interests of their party, strategies whose success will have a great impact on their chances of being re-elected.
I want to be very clear that the sponsor of this motion supports party discipline. He supports his whip.
Some argue that allowing members of Parliament to represent their constituents in the House without being whipped in any way by their party leader—U.S. congress style—would radically enhance the people's trust in our democracy. If that were so, why is the trust of Americans in the congress at a record low? According to a Gallup poll of December 12, 2001, a record 64% of Americans rate honesty and ethics of members of congress low.
Party discipline is there for a reason. Studies show that when casting their ballot, voters generally vote more for a political party than for an individual. True, hard-working, conscientious, and well-known MPs might, thanks to their efforts and personal qualities, get the extra popular support that helps them survive their party's political setback. Trust me, I know first-hand what that is about.
However, the main determinant of an election is the faith voters have in a given political party and its leader. Canadians expect that each of us as their legislators will be well informed of the realities of the riding that we represent and uphold its interests. However, at the same time, Canadians do not consider their own riding taken in isolation. They want their MP to be a good legislator who makes sound laws and good decisions for all Canadians.
Canadians expect that each of us will care about Canada's 307 other ridings in addition to the one that elected us. They want us to look out for the national interest, to fight for Canada's values, well-being, and reputation. They want us to help them build a country they can be proud of. They know that in this task we are not, and will not be, lone wolves. We will be supported by our party and colleagues. The people of Saint-Laurent—Cartierville know that I am a Liberal and that as always I will be a team player within the Liberal caucus.
This motion would allow us to be more free to express our convictions our own way during this one-minute statement that is given to us, our Conservative, NDP, or Liberal convictions, our convictions as elected representatives of a riding, and our convictions as Canadians who will always put our country before our party.
In adopting this motion the House would not say that MPs elected as part of a team, on a national platform, and with a recognized leader, should not act as a team once elected. Rather, we would say that party discipline should not be unnecessarily rigid in Canada.
By moving to a strictly alphabetized system for determining who delivers S. O. 31s, we would be taking that power from political parties and returning it to the individual members of Parliament, where it belongs.
Adopting this motion would be a step in the right direction towards restoring a healthy Canadian parliamentary democracy. Many reforms are still needed in order for party discipline to have its proper role in our democratic institutions, without being excessive.
We will get the ball rolling by supporting this motion. I am appealing to members of all parties.
This motion is not addressed to any party in particular. It is absolutely non-partisan. Its goal is the smooth operation of Parliament as an institution, something all members care about.
Therefore, I invite all my colleagues to support this motion. I invite all my colleagues to stand up for a right that belongs to us, in turn and in alphabetical order: the right to have our 60 seconds.
- MPlibApr 19, 2013 9:55 am | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, the rhetoric is great. I love it. It seems to be all that comes from that party.
The minister says that she is an aboriginal woman, an Inuit woman. She forgets that it was under the Liberal government that there was a Nunavut government. I was there at the launch of that government. It is treated as an equal.
The aboriginal healing fund was brought in by a Liberal government. The Conservative government cancelled it. That Minister of Health has presided over cuts to all of the health programs on suicide prevention and maternal and child health. Homelessness is a major issue in Nunavut, and the minister has done absolutely nothing about it.
- MPlibApr 19, 2013 9:50 am | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the question. As I said, back in the early seventies when Mr. Chrétien was minister for Indian affairs, he wrote a white paper on the need for us to move forward with aboriginal self-government and self-determinations.
These are not just words. Paul Martin wanted to treat aboriginal people at the table as a level of government on their own. This has moved backward and regressed under the government. This idea that we must continue to tell aboriginal people what is best for them, this colonial, as my colleague referred to it, attitude, this patriarchal attitude of saying that we know what is best for aboriginal people is what we did when we first came here. We told aboriginal people that they did not know what was good for them. We continue to do it under the government. We have gone backward in time.
The hon. member talked about pipelines and the duty to consult. The government thinks that the duty to consult is to pat people on the back and say, “You can come in and line up with everybody else and make a statement at a committee”. The Conservatives need to consult and respect on a face to face, government to government basis with first nations. That has not been done. First nations have been treated just like anybody else by the government.
- MPlibApr 19, 2013 9:40 am | British Columbia, Party: Québec solidaire
Mr. Speaker, I want to go over something my colleague just said about the commitment of Liberal governments, starting with Prime Minister Trudeau, and moving to Mr. Chrétien in the 1970s, when he was the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, as it was called at the time, and wrote a white paper on the need for self-determination and self-government for aboriginal peoples. It is no secret that when he came in as prime minister in 1993 that was one of the things he set as a priority. He immediately brought in steps to try to create the infrastructure to improve land claims and to fast-forward them.
It was not only that, but in British Columbia, in my province, where for 100 years aboriginal people have been trying to get land claims established and could not, Mr. Chrétien managed to convince the then Government of British Columbia to start moving forward with land claims. It was fast-forwarded. It was moving very well, and things were happening. Fast-forwarding land claims was an important part of dealing with aboriginal concerns, the ability to give them the autonomy they needed to make decisions about themselves and to govern themselves.
Prime Minister Martin then came in and picked it up. He signed the Kelowna accord with every province in this country being in agreement and treated the aboriginal people as an equal part of government at that table. The Kelowna accord would have devolved responsibility for health, education and housing to aboriginal peoples.
However, we saw what happened. The Conservative government came in 2006, and the Kelowna accord was gone. It was dead in the water. In fact, we now see that the same Prime Minister Paul Martin, no longer in Parliament, is spending his personal fortune to try to move education forward, knowing this is part of the way for aboriginal people to move forward and become autonomous.
I heard some of my colleagues across the way talking about aboriginal women, etcetera, but the point is that the government does not consult with aboriginal peoples. If it consulted with aboriginal peoples, it would understand the cultural differences. This imposition of what we, as non-aboriginal people, think is best for aboriginal people continues even today in this Conservative government's rhetoric.
Thirty years ago, the Canadian Medical Association recognized the link between aboriginal self-government and self-determination and the high rates of disease in aboriginal communities. As president of the British Columbia Medical Association, I ensured that the Council on Health Promotion started something called the aboriginal health committee. We brought in an unusual thing for a medical association. We brought in aboriginal leaders to be part of that community, to talk about self-determination and self-governance, so we could move forward and change those terrible health statistics for aboriginal people.
However, here we are today. We are still seeing high incidences of homelessness and disease in Inuit communities. Diabetes is three times that of our national average, and obesity rates are approximately 40% on reserve. The life expectancy for first nations men is 10 years below non-aboriginal men, and that of aboriginal women is 7 years below that of non-aboriginal women.
We see suicide rates that are 7 times the national average for first nations communities, and 11 times higher for Inuit communities. Infant mortality rates are 1.5 times higher than the national average. HIV-AIDS infections are 3.6 times higher than the non-aboriginal populations. Tuberculosis is 35 times higher on reserve, and 185 times higher, in Nunavut specifically.
In spite of all this, and in spite of the rhetoric we hear from this government, we have seen, in 2011, 2012 and 2013, incremental decreases in budgets going to first nations and Inuit health, infrastructure programs and to mental health. Maternal and child health programs were cut. Suicide prevention programs were cuts.
The Liberals created a healing fund. We did so when we were in government. It was shown by the Department of Indian Affairs, and by everyone who audited, that it was working really well. It was the aboriginal healing fund.
The Prime Minister made a wonderful apology in the House and cut that fund that was actually helping aboriginal people.
The government also walked away from the Northern Dimension Partnership, which is made up of 11 Arctic countries to look at the health of the peoples of the north.
At a time when Canada is chairing the Arctic Council, the Conservatives walked away from this, which saved them $50,000 a year, while the same Prime Minister, who apologized nicely in the House, spent $500,000 to transport his imperial limousines to India.
The same Prime Minister, again I refer to all the wonderful talk and the apologies in the House, has stalled on land claims. The land claims, which were moving forward, at least in my province of British Columbia, very well under a Liberal government, have now stalled completely.
When I chaired the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, I visited Labrador and I heard of the violence that women faced there. Face to face they spoke to the fact that when they were trying to escape violence, they had nowhere to go.
When my colleague from St. Paul's talked about shelters, she was not talking about shelters as a permanent thing. Everyone who understands violence knows there has to be a safe place to go. There are no shelters for aboriginal women across the country and if there are, there may be five.
When our committee travelled across the country, we heard that more and more children were taken away from their parents when they tried to flee violence and were put into non-aboriginal homes. In fact, we heard the statistics from provincial governments that more aboriginal children were being taken away from their parents today than were in the residential school era.
Conservative members shut down the report when they won a majority government in the 2011 election. It was the first time that all four political parties agreed on what that recommendation should be. Since then, we have seen nothing further being done on violence against aboriginal women, those on reserve, off reserve and in society at large, yet we hear a lot of rhetoric.
This motion is an appropriate one. We agree with the motion because it is time to stop the rhetoric. It is time to stop listening to all the wondrous phrases that come from across the aisle, the Prime Minister's beautiful apology, everyone berating people on this side of the House who, as a Liberal government, moved significantly forward on this issue.
It is time to stop the rhetoric and it is time to get action going. I do not think we will see it from the Conservatives because they are too busy congratulating themselves on their little pieces of rhetoric than actually intending to do anything.
- MPlibApr 18, 2013 1:55 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my hon. friend. When I think about the argument she makes about giving up our sovereignty, it seems to me that if we want to have multilateral agreements and processes for resolving disputes, or bilateral—where we have to have those and we do not have the multilateral ones in place—that we would have to surrender some level of sovereignty.
I think she would make that argument when it comes to environmental matters. Therefore, I do not see her reluctance to accept any surrender of sovereignty, to accept that the idea of having internationally approved arbitrators would surely be far better for Canadian investors in China than to have Chinese courts making those decisions. That is a reasonable way to function at the international level. I think she would agree that very often, in environmental matters, if we are going to succeed we have to surrender something. Was the Kyoto protocol not international governance? Was that not a surrender of some sovereignty? Is it not a better process to have some of those agreements than to have none? Is it not in Canada's interest to have a framework internationally that is based on rules and not power? As China becomes more and more powerful we had better have some kinds of agreements to protect us, not just bilateral, as in this case, but multilateral international processes, to maintain that rule of law.
- MPlibApr 18, 2013 1:50 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asks the question: What is behind this? Is it the ideology of the party? Is it the idea that it does not want to have foreign investment and that it wants maximum government intervention so that people cannot trade freely? That is what we are talking about here. It is very much a socialist point of view.
We can erase the word from the constitution, but apparently it takes much longer to erase the concepts behind these things and the underlying thinking about trade, what actually creates jobs and produces the kinds of benefits that give people a good standard of living and good lives.
- MPlibApr 18, 2013 1:35 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax West
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin my comments on this debate on the opposition day motion concerning the foreign investment protection agreement between Canada and China by saying that I noted that the comments made earlier today by my hon. colleague and friend, the member for Malpeque, were sound, logical and showed an understanding of the importance of trade and investment for Canadian families and communities.
I think most of us understand that those communities are built on having a strong economy and job creation. Having a good standard of living for Canadians depends upon those things, a strong economy and job creation. That is why the issue of foreign investment is so important for us.
Unfortunately, I have to say that my colleagues and friends in the NDP have again focused on their misguided ideology, which is opposed to trade and foreign investment agreements. As we have seen repeatedly in the past, this is the pattern. In the motion today, the NDP is saying we should not ratify the Canada-China foreign investment promotion and protection agreement.
In fact, in my view, a better motion from the NDP would have toned down the anti-foreign investment and anti-trade rhetoric and would have highlighted the areas that require improvement. For example, our party believes that foreign investment protection and promotion agreements, FIPAs, are important for Canadians investing abroad as well as businesses here at home, but only if we get them right.
Let us think for a moment about those businesses and who the owners are of those businesses in Canada that invest in China and elsewhere. Very often they are groups like pension funds. They are the companies that are in people's RRSPs. They are in index funds, mutual funds, the teachers' pension funds and others. Many of the Canadian companies, the kinds that are big enough to invest in China, are widely held by thousands of shareholders all across this country. It is important to them that these companies have returns and that the investments they have in other countries have reasonable protections.
Although the Canada-China FIPA has a number of shortcomings that must be examined, completely abandoning the treaty is an anti-trade, knee-jerk reaction worthy of the early 20th century. The NDP can try to deny that they are against trade and foreign investments, but their position is well known. That is why Canadians do not have confidence in them, even if they did remove the references to their socialist faith from their constitution. They can erase words, but it is difficult to erase ideas.
The Liberal Party recognizes that this agreement has flaws, just like so many of the failed fiscal and economic policies of the Conservative government. These are policies that have hurt middle-class families, that have led to hikes in payroll taxes, that have increased taxes on wigs for cancer patients, on kids' clothing and, yes, even on little red wagons.
We have seen the Conservatives' flawed fiscal management. We know that they inherited a $13 billion surplus, the best fiscal situation that any new government ever inherited in this country's history. However, they squandered it and put this country into deficit by April of 2008, months before the recession began. Of course, since then, they have had record deficits and have added over $150 billion to Canada's national debt. That is some fiscal management.
Now on this deal with China, we see other flaws. We see a flawed approach from a government that has repeatedly demonstrated a growing record of economic mismanagement. The Liberal Party has real concerns about provisions in the China-Canada investment agreement, particularly on the issues of transparency during arbitration, termination of the agreement and the length of time the agreement is enforced.
In fact, this is similar to what I heard from my constituents in a public meeting I held on foreign investment issues in November of last year. They were concerned that Canada would be locked in for 30 years. As one constituent pointed out, the North American Free Trade Agreement has to be reviewed more often and it has mechanisms for signatories to pull out of the agreement with a notice period.
They also felt it was important to see greater protection for Canadian companies and individuals when dealing with China. They felt that arbitration should not be held behind closed doors.
Our party has called for a public debate on this FIPA so we can look at the facts of the situation, instead of having a debate littered with misinformation and fearmongering. Unfortunately, our colleagues across the way, my friends in the Conservative Party, did not bring this deal forward for debate and have refused to recognize the obvious flaws that should be corrected to protect our interests as Canadians.
Let us look at the context of this. Just yesterday, in fact, it was reported that Europe is now the world's largest recipient of foreign investment by Chinese firms. Europe received $12.6 billion of investment in 2012. That is a 20% increase from the previous year.
Who would have thought, 30 or 40 years ago, that we would be hearing about the huge investments from China in Europe or anywhere else? It is amazing how things have changed and how the economy of China has developed and, as they have sold so many goods to the rest of the world, how they have developed the kind of funds to do that kind of investing.
However, this NDP motion to completely abandon the Canada-China FIPA would not only keep significant Chinese investment from entering Canada and creating jobs for Canadian workers; it would also ensure this money continues to flow to our competitor countries, like those in Europe that are welcoming that kind of investment, that see it creates the kinds of jobs that maintain and create a good, and a better, standard of living for Canadian families.
The Liberal Party understands the need for foreign investment to grow our economy and create jobs. However, there is a big difference between saying that we are open for business in Canada and that Canada is for sale.
The Prime Minister's government made a complete mess of the foreign investment file.
The government refused to honour the promise the Prime Minister made in 2010 to review the Investment Canada Act in order to clarify the rules regarding “net benefit” and to make the review process more transparent.
The Conservatives' bad management has led to ill-advised decisions that Canadians oppose because the government does not provide all the facts about investments, the commitments made or how they will be enforced.
Meanwhile, investors around the globe are becoming more and more frustrated and perplexed as they look at Canada and say, “What the heck is going on there? What are the rules?”
In fact, the report released today by the Institute for Research on Public Policy says so. It calls upon the government to rewrite its foreign investment rules. It says that up to now, the government has created an impression that Canada does not actually welcome foreign investment. The reports says the government's actions have, “magnified the uncertainty among potential investors”.
Canadians are worried that we are losing out on billions of dollars in foreign investment and thousands of jobs.
In fact, the report to which I have referred talks about the benefits of foreign direct investment in areas like renewable energy, which needs investment.
Let me tell members what else it says in this area about the importance of foreign direct investment. It says foreign direct investment:
...continues to be beneficial to the Canadian economy in other ways. It increases the pool, and competitively decreases the cost, of capital available to Canadian business to develop Canadian resources and create employment and training opportunities. It attracts top management talent to Canada and disseminates management training and expertise into the Canadian labour force. It facilitates technology transfer into the Canadian economy from foreign jurisdictions. And it further integrates Canada into international markets with concomitant reciprocal trade and investment accessibility for Canadian businesses.
I hope my socialist friends down the way were listening to that.
Canada is rich in natural resources, and it needs to ensure they are developed not only in a way that is environmentally sustainable, but also in a way that benefits Canadians, first and foremost.
That is why, despite years of Conservative inaction, we in the Liberal Party will continue to press the government to keep the promise made in 2010 by the Prime Minister to clearly define the net benefit test in the Investment Canada Act and to strengthen its foreign investment policy.
The Liberal Party believes that Canadians should know exactly what is on the table, so they can judge whether this FIPA or other deals involving foreign investment are good deals for Canada. In our view this deal with China should be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.
My hon. friends in the NDP earlier today refused to allow an amendment to their motion, but they are entitled to a second chance. I propose to move that the motion be amended by replacing all of the words after “China that” with the following: “prior to any decision on the ratification of the Canada-China foreign investment promotion and protection agreement, the said agreement should be referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade to conduct hearings across Canada and report back its findings and any recommendations to amend the agreement to the House”.
I ask for my hon. NDP colleague to consent to this amendment.
- MPlibApr 18, 2013 10:30 am | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Kelowna—Lake Country on one point, and that is throwing out the FIPA is not the answer but we should fix the flaws.
The member said “our government” a number of times, so I think he would know the answer to the question I am about to ask.
One of the member's favourite witnesses, Mr. Van Harten, has indicated that Canada is responsible for any obligations under the international treaty. In other words, Canadian taxpayers would be responsible for decisions made at a provincial level that may be in violation of this agreement. Has the federal government given any undertakings to provinces, municipalities and first nations that it will in fact cover all financial liabilities arising from an arbitration or award that is triggered by a provincial, municipal or first nation decision? That is a serious issue.
We need to know that. We need to know the flaws and we need to know solutions to them. If a first nation, municipality or province makes a decision that is in violation and causes a liability to a business, is the Canadian government responsible for that? Has the member's government notified those jurisdictions of such?
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