- MPndpMar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With respect to wireless spectrum auctions and spectrum license requirements, including but not limited to AWS-3 spectrum, 600 Mhz and 3 500 Mhz, broken down by each individual auction and license requirement: (a) does the government have provisions requiring the incorporation of technologies into the wireless networks that allow surveillance and interception capabilities built into their networks; and (b) does the government pay for the costs of these provisions?
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, she hides behind disabled children to explain why she was feeling guilty for breaking the rules to give money to her friends—
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 7:15 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With respect to government funding allocated within the constituency of Timmins—James Bay: (a) what is the total amount allocated in fiscal year 2013-2014, broken down by (i) department or agency, (ii) initiative, (iii) amount; and (b) what funding projects were approved under FedNor between 2011 and 2014 inclusively, and what was their value?
- MPndpMar 11, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Public Works tells us she does not remember talking to Nigel Wright about this deal that has gotten her into so much trouble. That is really odd because Wright, the Prime Minister's right hand, not only remembers the conversation, he remembers the content.
He said that that minister talked to him about this project that she knew was a dud, but she wanted to find out how important it was to the Conservative Party. The Prime Minister said “sort it out” and presto, a $1 million flowed to a Conservative ally.
Will the minister put aside this convenient amnesia and just explain to us why she put the interests of this party ahead of the interests of the Canadian people?
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I did not even hear a “sorry”. She broke the rules and she misused public funds. We expect that when a minister breaks the rules, there is a “sorry”, but no. It is as though if Nigel Wright makes the call, it is okay. This is the question here. All manner of projects apply, but not all manner of projects get moved up after they have been rejected because they are not in the public interest.
I would like to ask the Prime Minister once again about his interference in this project. When Nigel Wright was told to “sort it out”, what does that mean? Is “sort it out” the new “good to go” for breaking the rules in the PMO?
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 12:55 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, Keystone does not make sense. We have been told about the thousands of jobs by the Liberal leader and the Conservative leader. We are talking about building a pipeline to the Montana border. Then the resources leave us. We are talking about exporting the product so it can be value-added elsewhere, so other countries make the most of it. What we need to do is move beyond this crazy idea of shipping raw product thousands of kilometres to a port, and we actually do the value-added in Alberta, in Saskatchewan, in Canada so we are creating the most and we actually benefit as a nation from it. Right now, the Keystone plan is dead in the U.S. Nobody wants to talk about it except the Koch brothers, the Republicans, and the Conservative and Liberal leaders. People have moved on.
We need to get our heads around moving toward a progressive, economic, environmental plan that will create long-term jobs; and that when we are using natural resources like dirty oil that we are doing it within a limited capacity so we are actually lessening the impact on our planet.
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 12:50 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that up to this point in Canada there has been a higher comfort level with pipelines because we are used to pipelines in Canada. The natural gas pipelines that run across this nation are part of the economic engine and we are used to them. However, we are dealing with something different here when we are talking about high-pressure bitumen, and when we are talking about pipelines that are 40 years and 60 years old. These raise serious questions. When we see the stripping of the environmental protection laws that has happened in this country, it undermines people's confidence and the confidence of our international partners.
I do not know why President Obama would ever stand up with the current Prime Minister and say, “Yes, we love your oil agenda because you stripped all the environmental laws; you act like a gang of ruffians when you talk about anything about the environment, you insult the environment; you act like you believe you're in the end times and you want to get the oil out as quickly as possible”. None of our international partners are going to want to be close to that.
If we are going have confidence, whether in rail or in pipeline, there needs to be, number one, some sense that the Conservatives actually care about what is happening with the environment; and number two, that they care about safety.
At the end of the day, we are a resource-based nation. We need to develop our resource, but we need to develop it in a way that is safe, environmentally progressive and that respects the overall world movement to try to deal with this carbon and climate crisis.
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 12:40 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise and speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay, and speak on the issue of Bill C-46, the so-called pipeline safety act, the amendment to the National Energy Board Act. As I rise today, back home there is great concern in my region about the third derailment in this past month in our region. There were two tanker derailments in the small community of Gogama, one at Hornepayne. Twenty-nine cars carrying heavy crude went off the tracks. A number of them are still burning out of control in the Mattagami River right now. The Mattagami River runs from that part of northern Ontario right through the heart of the city of Timmins, through communities like Smooth Rock Falls up into the Missinaibi and the Moose rivers in James Bay. A huge drainage area of 37,000 kilometres is affected.
This heavy crude is burning in a fish habitat very close to the community of Mattagami First Nation and very close to Gogama. We need to look at these issues in terms of government policy. We saw the horrific tragedy at Lac-Mégantic this past summer and we saw the failed safety measures. We saw the promises that have been put in place allowing companies to look after themselves, that somehow Canadians would be better protected in this privatized world and that if we let corporations look after themselves without oversight, everything will be fine. Many good people in Lac-Mégantic died because of that.
If the train had derailed just a few kilometres from where it did, not into the river but into the community of Gogama, we could have had a repeat of Lac-Mégantic. For all of us across so much of Canada and across the north, our communities are built on the rail lines. Across the street from my house, the Ontario Northland carries its heavy duty sulphuric acid from the smelter in Rouyn-Noranda. In fact my street address is Mileage 104, on the railway line. We are so closely tied to the issues of safety.
I speak of that in terms of the huge economic impact the oil industry has on our country. It is a huge driver, but also we need to start addressing the growing environmental impact to make sure that there is a balance. There will be some people who say “we will not ship by rail anymore, let us get the pipelines through and once the pipelines are through, we will not have to worry anymore”. The problem is the lack of a long-term vision of the government where, as my colleague from Toronto—Danforth said, they only believe in the rip-and-ship philosophy.
There is something fundamentally, economically wrong when the vision of our national economy is to take raw bitumen out of the ground, ship it 2,000 kilometres to a port in Quebec so it can be shipped off to China or someplace else to be processed. That is an abomination. That is not an economic plan. The people who carry the risk are the people living along that pipeline because the government stripped all the environmental protection acts, stripped the Navigable Waters Act so that the need to have the shut-off valves along the rivers does not exist anymore.
We are told that somehow this is in all our interests. I see oil industry ads all over Ottawa say “It's your oil, it's our oil, let's do the right thing”. It is not our oil. It should be Canada's interest. No, it is our risk. The benefits are going to the Koch brothers in the U.S. They are going offshore. Ask any northerner at the pumps, for all the damage they suffered in the economy lately, when have they ever had a break on gas prices. We never had one.
We need to look at this. There are some good things in the bill about issues of liability. I ask people back home about the processes that are in place to protect the public. If I look at the National Energy Board, I do not feel much comfort. I guess if I were an oil lobbyist, I would feel great. If I were a big Suncor or Sunoco, I would think the National Energy Board is good. Energy east is a major project that is happening. The public has a right to participate because if we talk about moving bitumen through pipeline, there needs to be public buy-in and they have to understand what is at stake.
The National Energy Board needs to hear from the citizens about what is at stake. However, citizens do not get to write a letter to the National Energy Board. They have to get approval to write a letter in order to be able to write a letter. The National Energy Board does not accept unsolicited letters. People have to apply and then it will decide whether or not their opinion counts. That is not how to build public trust. That is not social licence. The National Energy Board will decide whether the letters will be posted or whether to outright refuse them.
Therefore, granting or refusing a project application impinges on whether or not there is a direct effect on the interests of the person, the degree of connection between the project and the person, the likelihood of severity of harm that a person is exposed to, and the frequency and duration of a person's use of an area near the project. I am trying to interpret what that means. Maybe if I live right on top of the pipeline I get to go to the hearings to say whether or not I like it. If I am like the citizens of Timmins, in the case of the Gogama derailment, if I am part of the larger population of 37,000 square kilometres who has been impacted by this present derailment and if it was a pipeline blowout, would any of those people be allowed to speak at the National Energy Board hearings?
The issue we are dealing with here with crude, with oil, are about a national vision that says that there is no point processing and upgrading in our own country where we can create value-added jobs and ensure the great gifts we have in terms of resources of oil, gas and mineral production. There is no national vision to upgrade, to make sure there is value added, so we are taking less out of the ground because we would see more in our economy. However, we are being told that somehow we should trust the pipeline agenda because the government has turned our country into a petrol state and, like all petrol states, it is corrupt. We see its attack on birdwatchers, on environmental organizations, on anyone who speaks up against its agenda.
We are supposed to believe that bitumen is just like oil, but it is not. I am looking at Bill C-46 that talks about a $1-billion liability, which was surpassed in terms of the damage that Enbridge did to the Kalamazoo River. It is still being ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency to go back and fix the damage it did to the Kalamazoo River. It may not ever be able to fix the damage it did to the Kalamazoo River because it did not have the proper oversight.
I am thinking of a pipeline running through northern Ontario like the train that ran through Gogama. If there is a blowout and it is carrying bitumen, is there enough protection in this bill to offset the billions of dollars in damage that would accrue? If this northern gateway pipeline had ever gone through and it was blowing bitumen out through the B.C. mountains, how would anyone be able to get to that? When one drives up through the mountains in B.C., sometimes there are trucks at the bottom because it was too difficult to get down to the trucks that went off the edge. How would we be able to somehow get the bitumen off those rivers? That is why President Obama rejected Keystone, contrary to the demands of the Liberal Party and Conservative Party leaders. He said it was not in America's interests to take the risk without the benefit.
Therefore, I am looking at where we need to be as an economy. Our natural resources are vital to us but there has to be social licence. It has to be done safely and with the long-term implication that if companies will be moving products like bitumen out of the ground they are doing it in a safe way. They failed with our rail. We have had too many accidents and we need accountability there. However, if we are supposed to trust that this bill would protect us on pipelines, when we see the collusion of the oil interests and the Conservative government, I do not believe them for a moment and I do not think Canadians do either.
We are interested in this bill and want to bring it to committee, but there is a bigger issue with respect to environmental accountability that has to be addressed by this nation.
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 12:15 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With respect to the Prime Minister's use of the government owned fleet of aircraft since January 2006 and for each use of the aircraft: (a) what are the passenger manifests for all flights; (b) what are the names and titles of the passengers present on the flight manifest; (c) what were all the departure and arrival points of the aircraft; (d) who requested access to the fleet; (e) who authorized the flight; (f) what repayments or reimbursements were made by passengers as a result of these flights; (g) what is the total cost of these flights; and (h) what is the total cost by year?
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is something watching my hon. colleague fumble through his Rolodex of the ridiculous.
Let us stick on the issue here, because not only are Conservative insiders being subpoenaed, but last week we learned that a number of key Conservative MPs have been called to testify.
Let me ask a simple, straight-forward question. Who will be on the hook for the legal bills of the Conservative Party insiders and MPs? Will it be the Conservative Party, because this had to do with Conservative malfeasance in fundraising and bribery, or will it be the taxpayer? It is a simple question.
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 11:25 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Well, Mr. Speaker, those bizarre evasions will not make this one go away, because we know from the RCMP investigation that at least a dozen key Conservative insiders are involved in the Duffy expense scandal and the PMO-orchestrated coverup.
With the Duffy trial about to begin, will the Prime Minister tell us how many of his current staff have received subpoenas and does the Prime Minister know whether there is any indication that he himself will be called as a witness by the defence?
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 10:45 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, we have a situation in northern Ontario right now, in the Gogama region, where there has been a third derailment. Crude oil is burning in the Mattagami River. We know there is a major environmental impact from the movement of bitumen and crude. Questions are being raised in terms of the Gogama accident about oversight and safety. This is the same argument that is being dealt with on the pipelines.
We have a government that has stripped the environmental protection laws of this country to push the pipelines through, which has created a serious backlash in the population who do not trust the government to put the interests of environment ahead of the very narrow interests of the Alberta oil lobby.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague what she thinks needs to be done to ensure that, however we are transporting crude oil, whether it is through pipelines or on trains, we ensure that public safety is first and foremost a priority.
- MPndpFeb 25, 2015 12:00 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, communities in the far north of Ontario are already dealing with underfunded and overstretched health services. In the case of emergency services, we often have to rely on the brave medevac crews, who sometimes fly in brutal conditions to get patients to hospitals in the south. It is a very expensive but essential service.
Will the Minister of National Revenue explain why she has decided to apply the HST to vital medical flights that have already been approved by the Ontario ministry of health? Would her time not be better spent going after offshore tax havens than shaking down our vital medical services of the north?
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 1:40 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I fully agree that the issue of palliative care should be part of the mandate of this motion, but it is not. That is the issue for me. The issue is that we should include palliative care so we are not just looking at the isolation of the Criminal Code, but at the need to develop all end-of-life issues together. It would be a travesty to simply respond to the Supreme Court and then walk away. That is why a mandate has to clarify the role of a committee. This is the first lesson I learned in Parliament when I was young and first came here.
The fact is that the Supreme Court is telling us to go forth, make a decision on assisted suicide, and deal with the Supreme Court decision. We can talk about a whole bunch of other things, but it is not in the mandate, and that is a fundamental problem.
I want to congratulate people for being willing to establish a committee, but if a committee is being established that is not willing to look at the larger issue of palliative care in light of the Supreme Court decision, then we have a problem. I have to remind people that I would be very wary of such a limited mandate.
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 1:35 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the excellent work he has done on the palliative care committee. Coming into this, I learned a great deal, and I believe the committee has done excellent work. It has laid the groundwork that we can use to deal with this.
The issue is that we would all love more time. That is what my old man said in his final days, “I thought I'd have more time”. We always think we will have more time. The Supreme Court has ruled. That is my concern. I do not want to be in a position where we either leave a vacuum or attempt to bring in the notwithstanding clause to counter the Supreme Court. It has ruled. It has given us a deadline.
I believe we can work together across party lines. I believe we can work through the summer and do this. The report the committee did on palliative care, an all-party report, is excellent. Everyone in the House should read it and the folks back home should check it out. It shows that parliamentarians can actually do some good work together. Let us learn from it.
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 1:25 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, as always it is a great honour to rise in the House and represent the people of Timmins—James Bay. I am honoured to rise following my colleague from Vancouver East who has done so much work on health care and end-of-life issues.
I have been meeting across the country with people who are very concerned about the need for a national palliative care strategy. I just met with medical doctors, nurses, and people involved in the palliative care movement in Toronto, and there is a real deep concern following the Supreme Court decision and what it will mean for families and medical practitioners. These are very deep issues that we need to deal with. I think the concern is about a vacuum, a lack of leadership by Parliament to define these issues, that will very much put the medical community in a compromised position that it does not want to be in. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to address this.
First, I would like to thank the province of Quebec for its fair and balanced consultation process.
The government of the day held a fair consultation process with the various interested parties, and it led to a plan regarding the standards for end-of-life care everywhere in the province and a definition of the process surrounding the issue of euthanasia.
Therefore, it is possible to find a solution to this issue, and Quebec is a model.
What concerns me is that the government knew that the Carter decision was coming. The people in the end-of-life care movement knew that something was happening. I heard all the time, “What is the government going to do?”
In court, one has to mitigate one's damages. One has to be able to show the court that action is being taken. If one does not take action, the court will.
What has come out of the unanimous Carter decision is that the court, rather than defining the issue, has opened it up in a way that will probably make it much broader, probably broader than Quebec has gone, and probably much broader than Parliament would have gone. If we do not act in response, the courts will be expected to intervene again. There will be other challenges and we as a society will be put in a position of dealing with it, and who knows where we will end up in the process. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to deal with this.
The frustration is also that Parliament had a chance to act. We established in the House a commitment to a national palliative care and end-of-life strategy to work in consultation with the provinces and territories, recognizing their jurisdictions, and to work with the medical community, because there are models of good, quality palliative care out there. When Canadians know what is available, many of these fears about end of life become very different. However, the reality is that across the country there is a patchwork of services. Seventy per cent of Canadians do not have access to quality palliative care. Therefore, the other issue, the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia, draws a lot of attention in the media.
My concern about my Conservative colleagues is that if they do not act within this year, this issue could become much broader and much more difficult for parliamentarians to respond to. We have an opportunity.
I listened to the hon. members from the Liberal Party. I agree with them: Parliament can act and should act. We have a year. We knew this was coming. We can do this. My concern with the Liberal motion is that it is focused strictly on the Supreme Court ruling and not on the larger end-of-life issues that have to be part of the package.
Harvey Max Chochinov just wrote an excellent op-ed on this. He is an expert on palliative care. He is concerned that they will define through this, through Parliament, or through the courts the right to die but not the right to have access to quality palliative care. It would be a very unjust situation if we simply respond to the court ruling, which might affect 0.2% of the population. I am not diminishing those people, but 70% of the population does not have access to quality end-of-life care.
We have an opportunity right now. The Supreme Court has ruled that this has to be dealt with.
Let us put aside the usual bickering that goes on. We have a period where we can sit down, look at how to do this in a way that is just, that works with the provinces, and realizes that with the vast majority of our population aging, the issue of palliative, home care and hospice care is vitally important.
From a jurisdictional issue and from a planning issue, it is very important as 1% of Canadians use 30% of the health care budget. Many of those in that 1% are people in their final months of life. We are spending enormous amounts of money on end-of-life care, but it is being delivered in a patchwork of services. The stress on patients is enormous, the stress on families can be traumatic and there is the stress on the medical system.
If we talk to people involved in quality palliative care, they will say that once a person is identified in a palliative program, there are no more midnight trips to the emergency ward with a loved one, trying to find a bed, not knowing what to do. It is an incredible stress on families. We have seen really good models in Brantford, Sudbury and Saskatoon. Those models can be replicated in other parts of the country.
I am very concerned that we are standing between a political vacuum on one hand and a committee motion on the other. Again, I commend my colleagues for bringing it forward, but if the motion does not address the issue of palliative care, then I have a problem. I have a problem saying that we are simply going to address the Supreme Court decision and we are walking away on the rest of it. That is problematic for Canadian society.
Some of my colleagues from other parties have said that Canadians are out on this issue. They expect us to show leadership on it. They expect us to show a level of maturity in recognizing that as parliamentarians we are entrusted with certain things. If we do not live up to that standard, the Supreme Court will act for us. I believe the Supreme Court has a fundamental role to play.
The Supreme Court has told Parliament to get its act together, to do it within the course of this year or it will be devolved either to the provinces or we will see further court challenges. Once the courts recognize that Parliament is not willing to act, I think they will start to interpret this ruling in a much broader fashion. I am not sure that is where the Canadian public wants us to go with this.
We have an opportunity right now, and it is an important opportunity, on the issue of end-of-life care. We stood in the House just five months ago, talked about palliative care and we committed to it. Since then, there has been zero action from the federal government. How does that look when the Supreme Court sees that the federal government has done nothing on this?
We have an opportunity. The federal government is mandated by Parliament to start that process with the provinces and territories to establish quality palliative care. The federal government also has a massive role to play in the delivery of health care in first nation communities, which have very little access to quality palliative care, in the military with our veterans, and in the prisons.
The federal government also has a national role to play in health care, to say that we can establish funding that the provinces can access for training. One of the big concerns that has been raised in the palliative care community is that if this moves within a year, the decisions on life and death will be handed over general practitioners who do not have the expertise in palliative and end-of-life issues. We will have to deal with very complex issues in a vacuum, without the support.
The federal government could work with the provinces and establish those norms, those standards and establish training so we could do this in a just and fair way. We could do this in a way that all Canadians would recognize, regardless of their beliefs on this issue. We all share very complicated beliefs. The quality of the lives of citizens, regardless of their station in life and as they face their final few months, has to be considered, a total value that we as Canadians and parliamentarians are willing to embrace.
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 1:00 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. I certainly believe that in the House we have the ability to work together on something so important.
I listened to the member read through the motion, which identifies how many people would sit and where they would sit and what they would do. I did not see the phrase “palliative care” anywhere in that motion. This motion is to deal with the fact, as it says, “...that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms...”. That is the mandate being set up by the Liberal Party for this.
I heard my colleague talk about how we could work in an apolitical fashion: let us talk, let us make changes. He said we could amend the motion. He is not really speaking truth to power, is he? When attempts were made to work with this motion, to ensure we have a comprehensive view of end of life, the Liberals insisted that this motion was going to stay focused on assisted suicide. That is the problem, because we have to look at the full slate of issues with end-of-life health care. That is what is incumbent upon us. Harvey Max Chochinov, who is the distinguished professor of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, has recently stated that under the situation we are faced with now we have the right to die but not the right to quality palliative care.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague why the Liberals have been standing up in the House all day saying we can talk about palliative care if people want to bring in palliative care. However, they cut it out of the motion so that it is only focused on assisted suicide, and we are not responding to the larger issue of end-of-life care that we need.
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 12:20 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, particularly her passion on the issue of palliative care. Palliative care is fundamental in this discussion.
Last spring, parliamentarians of almost all stripes stood to speak on a national palliative end-of-life strategy, saying that if an end-of-life strategy were in place, the vast majority of scenarios that were promoted in the media would become unnecessary because of the support that would be given to families and patients. However, there has not been any action since then. There has been talk, but I am concerned that the lack of action on following through on palliative care is creating a vacuum for the courts to step in.
What steps will the government take to follow through on the commitment that was made in the House to ensure that we build a strong, cross-Canada palliative care strategy, working with the provinces and respecting their jurisdictions, but ensuring people have access to the end-of-life care they need.
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 11:45 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, Canadians were concerned to read recent reports that the Pakistani consul general in Toronto participated in a fundraiser for the Liberal Party of Canada. It was also reported that he then went to Scarborough and participated in a partisan event with the Liberal candidate. We then understand that the Chinese ambassador pulled out of an event when he realized it was being put on by and for the Liberal Party of Canada.
This just shows a real lack of judgment. What does the government intend to do to ensure that foreign diplomats are not being used for domestic partisan purposes by particular parties?
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 11:05 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, northern Ontarians are tired of being treated like second-class citizens. We are tired of the ongoing attack on public transit in the north. We have seen the loss of air services, like Bearskin Airlines, and the privatization of road maintenance. Then the Liberals killed our train. When the provincial Liberals killed the train, they did it on the Thanksgiving weekend in 2012, stranding all the students who wanted to come home. The Liberal minister sneeringly told northern families that if they wanted their kids home, they should buy cars. That is not good enough.
Now they are going after the bus service. It is really unacceptable that someone who is going to Toronto for cancer treatment would have to stand outside at midnight, in -45°C weather, waiting for that bus to come down from Matheson, Kirkland Lake, and Englehart.
The Liberal and Conservative plan for northern Ontario has been the death-by-a-thousand-cuts policy. Public transit is a right. Northerners know that only New Democrats, provincial and federal, will stand up and defend them and fight for the north.
- MPndpFeb 17, 2015 9:55 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague. I am interested in the issue and what we saw with the cult of Bountiful that came across the border into Canada to escape prosecution in Utah. They set themselves up in Canada. There were all manner of allegations of abuse and of young girls as young as 12 being forced into marriage. This had gone to the courts in B.C. in 2007, I believe it was. It did not believe it had the power to go through with it, but it was tested at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2011, which upheld Canada's polygamy laws.
We have the tools necessary to go against these cults.
We saw the same thing with Lev Tahor, where there was all manner of allegations of abuse and forced marriages of children. The Quebec police and the Ontario courts moved against them.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague about the one provision that concerns me, which would apply to participants in a wedding. I am concerned about this, because there may be people who are brought to a wedding who would now be complicit. If we attempt to draw the circle too wide, we are actually not going to be able to target who we need to target, which are the people running these cults. The courts have already given us the tools in Canada. The police have the tools to go after them for forced marriages, child abuse, and polygamy. Would not the criminalization of the overall community actually drive people underground?
- MPndpFeb 17, 2015 8:40 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague.
Bountiful, the fundamentalist Mormon cult, escaped from Utah to escape prosecution and set itself up in British Columbia. There was a huge challenge that went all the way to the Supreme Court around whether Canada's polygamy laws would stand. There was a bogus argument that this was somehow a religious right, a religious freedom argument. However, the courts disagreed and upheld the anti-polygamy laws, because in these kinds of patriarchal cults, the issue of abuse is clearly paramount.
We can look at the issue of Bountiful and other fundamentalist cults. Lev Tahor is another one. It has been called the Jewish Taliban. The Quebec police moved against them, and the Ontario courts moved against them as well, so laws are already in place against these kinds of actions.
Could my hon. colleague explain whether he thinks this bill is redundant and whether it adds new powers currently unavailable to police in protecting young girls and women against this kind of abuse?
- MPndpFeb 17, 2015 8:10 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. We have had two very high profile cases that have shown the power of our courts to go after groups that abuse young women.
The case involving the Mormon fundamentalists in Bountiful was brought all the way to the Supreme Court. Some said that they were fighting for religious freedoms, but clearly this was an abuse of young women and girls, and the courts upheld the anti-polygamy laws.
It is the same with Lev Tahor, the fundamentalist orthodox cult. The Quebec and Ontario police moved against it because they recognized that within the so-called claim of religion there was an ongoing attack against young women and girls, and there was a need to protect them.
What is in this bill that would give the police and the authorities any new powers that they do not already have in going after anyone who uses religion, or culture or whatever to abuse young women and girls in forced marriages? If the laws already exist, if they have been upheld at the the Supreme Court level, what possible additions have been added to this at which Parliament needs to look?
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, let us look at this theme of the Nova Scotia judicial appointments. They tend to go to people who were invited to the justice minister's wedding. Joshua Arnold, the best man, was appointed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, and his wife was appointed too. Other nominees read like buddies of the minister and party donors.
Judicial appointments are supposed to go to the most eminently qualified. Why is it that at other weddings they toss the bouquet, but here they tossed around nominations to the court?
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 2:35 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent example of the sort of monkey funhouse mirror that we see with the Conservatives. From a distance, they say they are going to clear red tape and make government simpler, yet when people try to use government programs, they find that working their way through them is exceedingly complicated and arcane. The Building Canada fund is an excellent example. I remember working for the Algonquin Nation before I was elected, dealing with small hiring projects for young people, and the burden of following through every single week was actually not worth the value of the grant for hiring people, because we had to do so much reporting. Although these were fairly simple projects, this is a government obsession. The Conservatives are not making things simpler; they are actually making things harder.
We can ask any veteran how easy it was to access services when they were being turned away, or we can ask how easy it is for people to get a disability tax credit or benefit. It is a straightforward thing, and they are being turned away.
The Conservatives are very interested in what they believe is reducing red tape, so if it is Suncor, the Conservatives will strip all the rules that they need to get it through. However, if a veteran needs access or a single mother is looking to get basic support for her child, they will jump through hoop after hoop. When a municipality is filling out these forms, we hear about it all the time. That is the meaningless red tape that we should be targeting.
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 2:30 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is correct on one part of it. It is a typical Liberal plan to use the EI fund for any of its hijinks games.
The EI fund is an insurance fund. It belongs to the people who pay into it. It does not belong to the Liberals' smoke doctors in the backroom who are always trying to come up with some shiny bauble.
We looked at it, we brought it to committee, and we realized it was just a dumb idea.
It is not nearly as vicious, though, as the $57 billion that the Liberals took out of EI. They used the EI fund, they stripped it bare, and they called that an example of Paul Martin's great visionary economics. Now they want to come around with this idea that this was going to create tens of thousands of jobs. It is such a fiction, and it is an unfair fiction when in some parts of this country, seven out 10 people who pay into EI are not able to get their own insurance money back. The Liberal Party would take their insurance money, the money that they paid into EI, and use it for their schemes to promote the Liberal leader, the member for Papineau. That is unconscionable.
We will always stand up to defend the rights of people to have the money they put in. Just like their pension, just like their EI, these are things to be protected, not to be played with.
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 2:25 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is amazing that my colleagues have to redact so much of what their witnesses say.
The member should have actually read the full statement from Canadian Federation of Independent Business, about its concern about the hiring tax credit, which the New Democrats are supporting, and which it is not. If the member wants to stand up and promote a bill that is smaller than a fig leaf when it comes to economic credibility and economic defence, he may.
The real issue is that the federation agrees with New Democrats on the issue of the small business hiring tax credit. This is the issue at hand.
My hon. colleagues can stand up there and say whatever they want, but the fact is that they have bet the bank on the tar sands and they blew it. The Prime Minister made a promise that we were going to be this economic super power and he was going to force the pipelines through and cut all the environmental protection.
What did the government get out of that? It got zero, because when the law was not followed and when the proper regulations were not used, the government did not build trust. If there is no trust from members of the Canadian public, they will not allow these super projects. After eight long years of bluster, the Conservatives have blown it.
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 2:15 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Bruce Carson is another well-known criminal, Mr. Speaker.
Arthur Porter was the man who the Conservatives say was able to oversee CSIS, as they allow it all manner of extra rules that have not been in place before. This is not to say that we do not necessarily need more tools to go after terrorism, but we need the rule of law. To them, that is needless red tape.
Who else was overseeing CSIS? It was the northern gateway lobbyist. What was the lobbyist's name? Chuck Strahl. Chuck Strahl gets parachuted in because he is a party favourite and does not tell anybody he is an Enbridge lobbyist. They have northern gateway, so all the Conservatives are standing and denouncing these terrorists, who as far as I could tell were just ordinary citizens of British Columbia. Was Chuck Strahl getting briefed on the northern gateway, the supposed threat, while he was overseeing CSIS? These are questions. This is the government's idea of red tape.
Getting back to this bill, we see Conservatives stand to speak about red tape all the time, but they do not deliver. I ran a small business for 10 years, and one of the biggest issues of red tape I had to deal with was the Conservatives' beauty of GST-HST, where they had moved the burden from the large corporate bodies down to individuals and small companies. I know that as the economy is tanking and people are trying to get back into the workplace and find other work, HST has to be collected starting at $30,000. That was the rule back in the 1990s.
If a man has lost his job or his wife is wanting to get back into the workforce to do some consulting, hairdressing, web design, or the husband wants to do web design, these are micro businesses that can be grown into small business that may start to employ people, but they have to start paying the HST at $30,000. People really cannot do much at $30,000. I know people who told me they wanted to start small businesses, but if they were only making $32,000 or $33,000, the administrative burden of dealing with the HST actually was not worth it. It simply was not worth going back into the workforce to do that.
A reasonable government would raise the minimum on HST, say, to $50,000 over 20 years, from the 1990s to today. That would be a reasonable move. People could get themselves established. They could find out whether their home project could become viable, whether it is making stained glass, crocheting, or whatever, and then a small business gets established.
With the New Democrats' idea of helping small business, one of the big issues we have been pushing is credit card fees. Talk about needless impediments to small business. Ask any small business owner, such as a taxi cab driver or someone running a small restaurant, about the credit card fees. We will never see the Conservatives deal with this.
Not to speak ill of the dead, but I remember when Jim Flaherty stood and said he was going to go to the banks and deal with all of this. He came back like a chastened altar boy. He was just going to leave it to them.
This is where regulation is important. These sectors of the economy have to be regulated because, if basic rules are not in place, people get ripped off. Government needs to ensure regulation on the credit cards. One of the other things was that they deregulated cable and phone rates. We have among the highest cell phone rates in the world, but they believe that, if they just leave it to business, it will do it. We believe that certain regulations are important, to protect the market and to protect the ability of consumers to have fair play.
In terms of supporting small business, we would say in a time of economic uncertainty, when the Conservatives have literally bet the entire Canadian house on Fort Mac, that we need to ensure that small business can innovate and do its job. Let us drop the tax rate from 11% to 10% to 9%, because we know this money would go directly back into the economy.
Small business reinvests that money all the time, whereas the current government put in large corporate across-the-board tax cuts, believing the theory of trickle down. We know the only real thing that does trickle down in economics, and it is not money. The Conservatives cut that tax rate on the large corporations, and any economist will say that we have dead money. It is money that the large corporations have taken out, that they are giving in CEO bonuses or putting offshore, that they are not reinvesting. If the Conservatives are going to work with business, they should offer an incentive for innovation. An innovation tax credit makes sense. What we are dealing with here is a bill that would offer nothing to small business, except the false image that they are going to deal with the needless regulations.
I think back to when I was documenting the life of people in my region in terms of the hard-rock mining industry. If they go underground in Stobie Mine in Sudbury, or go underground in Timmins, wherever they walk there will be signs that say not to put one's hands here or not to stand there. An old miner said to me one day that every one of those signs and regulations was paid for in blood. They would only put up a sign telling them not to do something if someone had been seriously injured, not just once but usually two or three or four times, or killed. Those regulations were important. We saw in the mining sector again and again this effort of self-regulation. Allowing companies to do it does not work. There are certain regulations that are important.
How do we deal with the issues of meaningless red tape, contradictory red tape, red tape that has become redundant as the years go on? I would put it back to my colleagues on the government side that this is where they have to ensure a standard that the ministers are going to meet. That is ministerial responsibility. It used to be in the ministerial code. They quietly took out ministerial responsibility. I find that staggering. It is as if they did not want to be on the hook for promoting incompetence. If they are competent, then they will be overseeing their department and regularly bringing forward recommendations of where regulations need to be removed and replaced with ones that work.
What we are dealing with here is just another shadow bill. It is shadow boxing with the economy, when the real issue we are facing is that the Conservatives have stripped the fiscal capacity of this country to the bare bone. The Conservatives do not know what the numbers are. We are getting contradictory numbers in terms of this budget: if they are going to be doing cuts, if they are going to be going into the contingency fund. The Conservatives do not seem to know. They are playing games with the economy, which is not the kind of message for a G7 nation to send.
At a time when we are seeing increasing economic uncertainty in Canada's west, we need to be able to tell small business people that we are going to work with them to kick-start the economy so we can balance the economy and get off this one-industry-only obsession and ensure we have a diversified economy. That is where the New Democrats are coming down on the issue. We would drop the small-business tax rate from 11% to 10% to 9%. The New Democrats would ensure that, when business people make a capital investment, they can write it off quicker. That would help manufacturing.
Some of these ideas have been in previous budgets. The Conservatives and the Liberals have had similar things in the past. However, they have given them up; they are not interested and they have moved on. We say these are the kinds of incentives that we need now, at a time of economic uncertainty.
I am, as always, proud to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay, but less proud to have to deal with bills that simply do not address the needs of Canadians.
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 2:05 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour that I stand here to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay.
We are dealing with yet another Conservative game of shadow boxing; that the Conservatives actually understand the economy. It is fascinating that they are talking about helping small business when they cannot even bring a budget into the House because they have stripped the fiscal capacity of the country to the bone. They were going to allow people, through their income splitting scheme, to claim it even though it had not passed in law. Everything was dependent in their world view on the high oil prices. The government has banked the entire economy, like a drunken gambler, on the roulette wheel of commodities, not understanding that commodities go up and down. A balanced national economy can withstand those. We have done this in Canada for the last 150 years, but we have had a government that has been completely unbalanced.
We saw all the members from the 401 area stand again and again and praise the tar sands, while the manufacturing sector was going down the toilet. Now the Conservatives have suddenly discovered the manufacturing sector.
We are talking about red tape and this chimera the Conservatives have created, that they will slay the red dragon of red tape.
It reminds me of H.L. Mencken. I am sure he is probably glad he is not alive to see that group in action. He said that for every complex problem, there was an answer that was clear and simple and was wrong. We could probably use that to define the Conservative Party over the last hundred years, but definitely under the current government.
Let us look at the issue that for every new regulation we will strip an old regulation. It sounds so simplistic, but what it speaks to is incompetence, the incompetence of the ministers in the various departments who are not overseeing the regulations right now. They think the Muskoka minister is somehow going to be able to handle the thousands and thousands of regulations, and we should trust him to cut through this.
Folks back home will remember that the Muskoka minister was the man who took $50 million in border infrastructure money, when he had only won by 14 votes, and blew it on pork barrel projects of zero significance. Then when he was asked for the paperwork, he claimed there was none. He took taxpayer money, spent it on the gazebos, the sunken boats, the lighthouses, where there are no waterways, created a fake lake, even though we had no need for one, and then said that he did not have any paperwork, which was not true. It was false. There was lots of paperwork. He made the paperwork up himself out of his constituency office and he ran it through the municipalities.
He misrepresented the spending of money. However, under the government, that kind of malfeasance and incompetence is not punished; it is celebrated. He was given the job of being the oversight for all government spending based on that behaviour.
Do not get me wrong, getting rid of red tape that is meaningless is sometimes very important. I live in the little mining town of Cobalt. Our neighbour is Haileybury where all the mine managers live. It had on the books for many years that it was against the law to walk in the streets of Haileybury with a lunch pail. That was to keep the miners from coming and using the local watering holes in Haileybury. That law was never used and it sat on the law books in the municipality for decades and decades. Most Canadians did not realize it until Paul Soles pointed it out on This is the Law in the 1970s. Maybe they got rid of it then. We should get rid of those kinds of regulations.
We would believe that if we had a government where we had ministers who were actually competent and took responsibility, they would be overseeing their departments regularly to see what kind of red tape was no longer needed, such as what has become redundant and where there are two regulations that are working at cross purposes. However, they are not interested in that. They are interested in creating these sideshow chimeras to take attention from the fact that they have mismanaged the economy substantially.
It seems the Conservatives have put their poor finance minister in a bag and have him hidden away. He cannot explain why he cannot add up the money, because he was counting on the high oil prices. Now they are saying that they are going to help small business. We know that is not true.
Let us look at the Conservatives' idea of red tape. Red tape is a particular buzzword for the neocons. They love this. They use red tape all the time, but they never like to talk about the effects of the red tape.
For example, it was under Mike Harris, their great guru, that they were going to privatize Ontario Hydro, which helped create the Province of Ontario as an industrial powerhouse. However, Mike Harris had it in his head that it was brilliant idea to privatize it. He blew it so badly that we are still picking up the pieces. Perhaps the only people on the planet who could mismanage a hydro resource worse than Mike Harris are the Kathleen Wynne Liberals.
We can talk to any senior citizen in the Province of Ontario on the mismanagement of hydro under the present Liberals. It is so corrupt that they spent $1 billion moving two gas plants to save three lazy Liberals their seats. Imagine what a billion dollars would do for the Ontario health economy. There was the privatization guru.
Let us remember 2008, the horrific listeriosis outbreak. How many people died in that outbreak? I believe it was 22 people with 57 confirmed cases. From the internal reports, we learned that the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency, under the government, was being told that it was no longer going to be ensuring the safety of the plants. That was red tape. The government was going to allow the companies to look after themselves, and people died.
Speaking of incompetence, what did the agriculture minister have to say to families who died because the government chose to trust the cattle and beef giants over public safety? He had lots of jokes to make about listeriosis, he thought it was funny. We remember what Conservatives did with their cutting of the red tape.
We have seen debate after debate in the House. I remember in previous Parliaments, when Bill Blaikie was here, there was a brilliant idea, which came from the Liberals originally, to let the rail companies police themselves. We were told that we did not need the oversight, that we could trust the rail companies. A cheesy little rail company running past Montreal and not following all the rules caused a huge rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic and people died because of the lack of oversight. That was the kind of stuff Conservatives were praising, getting rid of red tape.
The Transportation Safety Board came out with its report on Lac-Mégantic and expressed its deep concern about the need for government to have oversight. Speaking of incompetence, the member for Essex was out there blowing off the need for safety, blowing off the need for the report and then saying that he had not even bothered to read the report. People died because of these decisions and he had not bothered to read the report. We know what Conservatives think of red tape.
Some of the newer neocons have their sense of history which begins in 2008 or 2011. I remember when they were talking about the deregulation of the banks when Citibank was the future and Canada could not compete with all our little banks. We were the economic backwater. That was the scheme the Liberals were totally into at the time. We would allow banks to make investments, allow them to take our savings and speculate on the market because that was the way the world was going.
I remember how members were laughing at the NDP, the nanny state NDP, afraid to compete. We were saying that we needed regulations for the banks to protect people's savings. That is a fundamental principle. We stopped the deregulation. When the rest of the world that had followed the neocon-neoliberal route went down the economic toilet, it was staggering to see Jim Flaherty standing and talking about how glad he was that we had regulation. The Conservatives ridiculed regulation as needless red tape, but it saved our economy at the time.
What is some of the other red tape the Conservatives hate? They get backbenchers to stand on their hind legs and beat their chests about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That is red tape to them. The Supreme Court is more red tape. God, they hate the Supreme Court. Ensuring the rule of law interferes with everything.
We have a justice minister who is so incompetent. Speaking of the incompetence of this world, this man has had more recalls of legislation than Ford had with the Pinto. He ignores the legal reviews of legislation, brings it into the House time and time again, and is told it will not pass a charter challenge at the Supreme Court. He bangs his head against the Supreme Court and then is outraged when it says it will not pass a charter challenge and he has to return it. One would think he would be chastened. In the private sector, he would probably be gone if he had that many recalls, but no. Conservatives stand, beat their chests, and go on about that outrageous Supreme Court defending the rule of law.
I see my friend has just entered the chamber, Mr. Enemy of Red Tape, who is going to allow new anti-terrorism measures and all manner of control to CSIS with no oversight, because it is red tape that is protecting the private rights of Canadian citizens, this needless red tape. That is staggering. Conservatives say not to worry, the oversight body is already able to do the job, the oversight body that the Prime Minister appointed, Arthur Porter. Is he still in a Panamanian jail for gun running, money laundering, or fraud? He was a friend of the Prime Minister. He is just one of the many criminals with whom the Prime Minister has chosen to hang around.
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 1:10 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague.
Bill C-21 is yet another bill in which the government passes off fluff for action. It is as if the government has created itself as Don Quixote and is going to go after windmills called red tape.
The government has systematically attacked the basic systems that are in place to ensure a viable economy. One example is its attack on the environmental legislation, which stripped all of the water protections, and the government's dumbed-down idea that it would somehow make it easier to get the pipelines approved. Then it has run into one bit of opposition after another because there are no clear rules in place.
The Conservative government is afraid to bring in a budget. It cannot have a plan and cannot even count the money, and yet it has created this false attitude that it is going after red tape.
Could my hon. colleague tell me why he thinks we are wasting time on a bill like this flop, rather than dealing with clear issues like the budget and protecting citizens?
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 9:25 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague's passion. I remember when the cod fishery collapsed because of years of federal mismanagement. The cod fishery was one of the reasons that Canada as a nation was founded. It was this incredible resource that brought so many Europeans over here, who created settlements on Newfoundland and Labrador.
One of the agreements when Newfoundland and Labrador signed on with the federal government was that it would be better within Confederation, that there would be a quid pro quo with the province.
The loss of the cod fisheries was a symbol of federal mismanagement. Therefore, I understand the deep suspicion that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have when an international trade agreement is being brought forward and it is being asked to give up some of the sovereignty it has wanted to maintain over its fisheries in order to be part of an international agreement. It has to be able to trust that the federal government is going to make sure that the agreement works on its behalf, not just on behalf of anybody in the Conservative Party, but on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
I am very concerned by this backtracking. We saw how Danny Williams stood up. We saw the movement of “anything but Conservative”. We know that Conservatives cannot be trusted in the Maritimes, just like they cannot be trusted anywhere else.
What does my hon. colleague think about a government that is reneging on a deal that sends symbolic concerns to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?
- MPndpJan 28, 2015 11:55 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are telling senior citizens that they can walk through the snow for their mail because they need the exercise, and anyway Canada Post just cannot afford to deliver it. However, Canada Post can afford to give out hundreds of pro hockey tickets to their insiders and pals.
Now the Liberals made their name filling the box seats with cronies, but surely to God we have a higher ethical bar than the one used by the Liberals.
Middle-class Canadians would love to go pro hockey games, but they would pay their own way, so I would like to ask the minister why it is that the Conservatives are allowing Canada Post to give out such expensive perks to insiders and pals?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 11:55 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the Conservatives are cutting $11 million out of the FedNor budget for northern Ontario over the next four years. This is on top of the fact that we have already lost 30,000 jobs in the north. If that was not bad, we actually then have to deal with the provincial Liberals who do not seem to understand the Ring of Fire is not a karaoke song; it is a $9 billion investment in the future.
I want to ask my colleague this. Where is the action plan? We have communities like Timmins, Thunder Bay and Capreol being sidelined by this lack of investment that would help our businesses, our communities and our first nations.
Where is the plan?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 10:45 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague.
The Conservatives' reputation for being good economic managers is clearly a myth. They have concealed the figures. Is it possible to explain the kind of impact this interference has on planning for the national budget?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 12:20 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With respect to the government’s implementation of motion M-456, a Pan-Canadian Strategy for Palliative and End-of-Life Care: (a) what steps has the government taken or do they plan on taking to implement this strategy; (b) what are the needs identified by the government that this strategy could address; (c) what information or data has been provided or solicited from Statistics Canada or the Canadian Institute for Health of Information regarding patient needs for palliative and end-of-life care; (d) what standards and best practices have been identified for this strategy; (e) what stakeholders and medical experts have been identified as collaborators in developing this strategy, and which of them have been approached; (f) which provinces and territories have been approached to discuss the establishment of this strategy; (g) what steps has the government taken to implement this strategy for the jurisdictions where it has a direct responsibility for health care delivery, including, but not limited to, services to First Nations on reserve, the military, and prisoners; and (h) what palliative and end-of-life care programs are currently in place where the government has a direct responsibility for health care delivery, including, but not limited to, services to First Nations on reserve, the military, and prisoners?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 12:15 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With respect to information in the government's possession concerning First Nation students on-reserve who participated in provincial standardized testing for numeracy and literacy: (a) what was the methodology used to determine the results; (b) what were the ages of the individuals tested; and (c) what were the numeracy and literacy results, broken down by reserve?
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have been bragging about laying off staff at Veterans Affairs, but now we find out that they have been pumping money into these shadowy ministerial offices to help their ministers.
Therefore, while the Conservatives cut 25% of the staff helping veterans with health care and disability compensation, they have boosted by 21% the political staff working in these unaccountable regional offices.
Quite frankly, the Minister of Veterans Affairs does not need more spin doctors; he needs a moral compass and some ethical backbone.
How can the Conservatives justify cutting support for veterans, while hiring flunkies to support such an incompetent and disgraced minister?
- MPndpDec 08, 2014 12:20 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With regard to ministerial staff, broken down for each year from 2004 to 2014: (a) how many individuals work within each ministry; (b) in what city do they work; (c) if they stopped working at the ministry, what range of severance packages were they entitled to receive; and (d) what severance package did they receive, (i) on average, (ii) in total?
- MPndpDec 08, 2014 11:25 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, the Information Commissioner has made it clear that the government is driving the access to information rights of Canadians into the ground. Her office is going broke trying to hold it to account for the continual obstructions. Rather than giving her the resources she is asking for, the Conservatives are looking to restrict access even further. Instead of a $5 processing fee for information, the member for Durham has suggested that journalists be forced to pay $200 any time they request information.
My question for the President of the Treasury Board is why is there this blatant attack on the rights of Canadian journalists?
- MPndpDec 04, 2014 12:40 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I want to honestly respond to my colleague who started off with a question before we got sidetracked, but it was a question on a yes or no. Therefore, how about yes; end of story on that.
With respect to the issue of being insulted, I was reading the Canadian Press headline, “Yukon chiefs say [Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development] insults them over environmental concerns”. This was yesterday, December 3. Ruth Massie said the “amendments...were drafted in secret after a meeting between the government and five industry groups”.
The article goes on:
[Grand Chief] Massie said she and her fellow chiefs hoped to make headway with [the minister] in a face-to-face meeting on Tuesday. Instead, she said, [he] told them he didn't need to consult them.
“We went to actually talk to him...” said Massie. It didn't matter to him. 'It's too bad about your treaties. This is what we unilaterally have decided to do and that's that.'”
I think the record of an aboriginal affairs minister in 2014, saying “too bad about your treaties” is absolutely scandalous and I would be ashamed to be in a House where someone had such a disrespect for their legal obligations.
- MPndpDec 04, 2014 12:35 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I think I heard a few personal insults there, but I will not engage in that. I believe this is an august institution, with my deference to you.
However, what I would like to say in response to my friend who said he feels insulted. The Canadian Press headline of December 3, 2014, reads in part, “Yukon chiefs say Valcourt”—sorry—“[the the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs] insults them”.
- MPndpDec 04, 2014 12:30 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I find it shocking that any minister of the Crown in 2014 would say “too bad about your treaties”.
As I said, we have been dealing with one court decision after another and the idea that somehow these fiduciary obligations will be extinguished by just continual underfunding or ignoring. The courts are strengthening those rights. Coming from a resource area, I would think that we would be a lot better off if we negotiated in good faith rather than having to turn to the courts to bring in these decisions.
I would like to also point out the millions of dollars the government spends every year ignoring the courts. When court decisions are made, the government just goes to the wall. This is not just about treaty rights. This goes right down to individual families trying to get service for their sick children. The government will fight them every step of the way.
- MPndpDec 04, 2014 12:10 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I am not going to let the member throw me off. I have been in Cape Breton. However, everywhere I have gone, my wife asks, “Is it as pretty as home?” I say in response, “It's nice but it's not home”. When I went to Yukon for the first time my wife asked me, “Is it like home?” I said, “Well, this is the one place that might actually move my heart”.
Fortunately, where I live in the incredible Cobalt—Temiskaming region, with the beautiful white pines at Temagami, there are incredible opportunities for canoeing—not that I canoe, by the way. If I cannot see it from a car window I do not go there. However, I encourage everyone else to come. I will stay where I am in northern Ontario. However, there is something magical about Yukon.
I say this in all seriousness, because when I am in Yukon and I go to the hotels and see all the people who fly over from Germany, when they come to Canada, their idea of Canada is about these incredible natural resources. They come to Yukon. They fly in from Japan and from all over the world.
Therefore, when we balance the incredible natural resources, we also have to balance the other interests. We certainly know that in my region, which is a very heavy mining region. It has the deepest base metal mine in the world, the Kidd Mine. It was discovered in 1964. It has pretty much the largest gold mines in operation. Hollinger Mines is just reopening now. My grandfather, Charlie Angus, was killed at Hollinger Mines. It was the largest gold mine in the western world. After a hundred years, it is being reopened. Dome Mine is still running. No matter how rich they are, these are finite resources.
We have to find ways to ensure value added. We have to ensure that when we develop these resources, it comes back. I have to admit that in Ontario, the Conservatives have not been very bright on this. Their idea of the north is that it is some kind of colony: the north gets the money and it goes down south. When a mine shuts down, they tell us in the north, it is too bad, so sad, we were never meant to stay.
However, we can do things better. In Yukon, with the spirit of the people there, the incredible natural resources and their sense of community, they have a right to have an active say in whether development will occur, and whether it will occur in mining, hydro development, in oil and gas, or if the land will be maintained in its natural state. That was the fight about the Peel valley watershed.
Bill S-6 would dismantle the environmental and socio-economic assessment that was developed in the Yukon, by Yukoners, for Yukon. There has been a complete lack of consultation with first nations, which is not surprising for the current government. The Conservatives just do not understand that these are constitutional obligations; they cannot get over it and they cannot get under it.
The Conservative government, with the full assistance of a local Conservative MP and the senator from the Yukon, is forcing a pro-southern-resource agenda down the throats of Yukoners. That is what I heard when I was last in Whitehorse regarding what was happening in the Peel valley. Conservatives see this watershed and they know that there is incredible value in it.
Yukoners do not like that they are being sold down the river for the benefit of companies that are going to be fly-by-nighters, which might be here today but could be gone tomorrow.
There are a number of amendments in the bill that the people of the Yukon we have been talking with have been discussing and certainly the incredible workers of the New Democratic opposition in Yukon as well. The amendments would provide the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development with the authority to provide binding policy direction to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. Yukoners are like northerners, so the idea that a minister in his office gets to decide what they are going to do is just not on.
Here is another one that is just typical of these guys. It would introduce legislated time limits for assessments. Conservatives wonder why their pipelines are going nowhere. Regarding public assessments, now people have to write and apply to be able to be part of the public consultation, and the government gets to decide whether people will be accepted. No wonder the National Energy Board is coming up with big blanks time and again. Using the same strategy they are using with the National Energy Board, the Conservatives want to be able to introduce these legislated time limits for assessments. We have certainly seen in northern Ontario that when they do that and ignore due process, there will be a backlash, because they are not respecting social licence.
It would allow the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to delegate any or all of the responsibilities to the Yukon government. There are federal responsibilities here because these are federal lands, and also because of the fundamental legal obligations that the federal Crown has to first nations. They cannot delegate those away just because they figure that the local government is going to be more amenable to ignoring their legal and constitutional obligations.
It would create broad exemptions for renewals, amendments, permits, and authorizations. I have seen that with the attempted development of resource projects. In our region in northern Ontario, we have seen that once they get a permit and it becomes a rubberstamp, they can vastly expand an operation and its impacts. They need to be able to go back to the people and say what the impact is.
The people of Yukon have lived there. The newcomers feel as passionately about it as the original people of the land. This is their land. They will always be there. The mining companies are going to come and go. They will change ownership and some of them will make money and go on and become another company or go bankrupt, but the resource they are playing with is the resource of the people of Yukon.
We have seen a number of really strong voices on this issue. I have enormous respect for Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson and her passion for the people of Yukon. What is sorely missing is a willingness to engage in an open and honest manner. We need a relationship built on dialogue and respect rather than lawsuits and secret negotiations, which again is the fundamental pattern that is undermining development projects across Canada.
Conservatives believe that if they ignore consultation and public processes and do things through backroom regulations, lo and behold there will be all these pipelines and mining projects. I can say, from being on the ground in northern Quebec and northern Ontario, that if there is no social licence, that project is not going ahead, full stop. That is the end of it.
I have an editorial from the Yukon News. The title is, “Environmental assessment reform should be done in the open”. This is from June 13, 2014. It states:
A long list of people deserve raspberries for this needlessly shady behaviour
—that is not parliamentary, but I am just reading it—
for this needlessly shady behaviour. At the top of the naughty list are Senator Daniel Lang and [the] MP [for Yukon] who are supposed to ensure that the interests of Yukoners are represented in Ottawa. Instead, they’ve kept the public out of the loop, other than [the member for Yukon] uttering vague generalities about the forthcoming changes without offering any meaningful specifics. Shame on them.
That is a direct quote from the Yukon News.
We need binding policy direction, and we need it from the federal minister to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board. We need to make sure that the Conservatives are not undermining the basic rights of protection and consultation through the devolution process.
The government always brags about consultation but ignores the voices of the people who are mostly directly impacted. We have heard the Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie say there was not adequate consultation and that if there is not adequate consultation before this bill is passed, the council will take legal action.
Once again, we see a government that decides that if it ignores its legal obligations, it somehow just might get away with it. The Yukon supreme court this week said no way, that it is not going to happen, so the Peel planning process has to start again.
There have been numerous pieces of legislation that the government has been warned do not meet the constitutional requirements of this country, but that have been forced through anyway and turned back. This is not how to develop resources in this country.
Before the election in 2004, I had the great honour to work with the Algonquin Nation in the La Verendrye park region of Quebec and up through the Abitibi region. At that time, the communities watched as millions and millions of dollars of development, hydro resources, forestry, and mining left the territories. No one local was ever hired. The only way they ever got attention was through blockades, threats of injunction, and protests.
The people in the community asked what would happen if they could put their resources into negotiating and building a relationship with the forestry companies so they could benefit from their territories and have them recognized as unceded lands. No treaties were ever signed, including for the Algonquin lands in northeastern Ontario. They said that if they put their efforts into consultation and building a relationship, communities and the regional economy might start to develop.
That conversation took place 14 years ago in northern Quebec and northern Ontario in the Algonquin communities I worked in, and in the 14 years since I have seen how dramatic the change has been. The mining companies get it. They will now go to communities and have discussions. It is not always easy. We have a long way to go and a lot of problems to work out, but we are a lot further down the road than we were.
I see northern communities like Timmins, Kirkland Lake, and Black River-Matheson that are dependent on mining resources. They get it that if they are not talking in partnership with the Mushkegowuk Cree, the Wabun Tribal Council, and their Algonquin neighbours, the development will not happen.
I ask my hon. colleagues on the government side why they are ignoring the pattern of the refusal to consult, the undermining of environmental regulations, and the stripping of local authorities and local people of consultation in order to pursue a mining, fracking, or oil agenda that is going to be defeated in the courts, just as it was defeated this the past week in the Yukon supreme court, and just as it has been defeated with Kinder Morgan and Burnaby Mountain. It is the issue of a social licence.
I want to go back to Bill S-6. There are parts of this bill that are largely housekeeping, which can be part of any bill. The fact that it would dismantle the environmental and socio-economic assessment process developed in Yukon for Yukoners is a non-starter for the New Democratic Party. New Democrats are not going to go there, because we are on the side of ensuring sustainable development, development that is long term and based on the principle that we have been given.
We have incredible resources in our country, and these resources have to be treated with the respect they deserve. Instead, we see this kind of gambler's economy.
I was talking with a Yukon MLA about the attitude of the Yukon government and the similarity with the Conservative government on the belief that if it could get the resources as fast as it could and get them out of the ground as fast as possible, and these are finite resources, that somehow everything would be better off and that we should not worry about the economic impact or the environmental impact. That is not a reasonable way to do development.
I would like to point out, as well, that in my region we have the Ring of Fire. It is part of the great region of Timmins—James Bay. It is another incredible resource. The Ring of Fire is sitting there among some of the poorest fourth world communities. There is Webequie on one side, with Marten Falls and Ogoki Post on the other. These communities have been left out of the economic development plans from the beginning.
We have an enormous resource to do it right, but it has to be done in consultation. Nothing will happen in the Ring of Fire without the input of the Matawa people and then down river from them the Mushkegowuk people. Then I go into the non-native communities, and I hear the same message, that they want this thing done right.
Coming from a mining family on both sides and representing mining towns and living in a town where half the men in my community travel around the world working in mining, if we asked them about the Ring of Fire, they would say that if it is not done right, then we should leave it in the ground. If there is no value-added plan, it should be left in the ground. One miner said to me that this was the capital for our children's future. He asked why they would strip the bank account now to make some easy cash.
Instead of moving on in a nation-to-nation relationship on the idea of respect, the government believes that it can just change the regulations and everything will be fine. It might get taken to court. If the government does get taken to court, it will lose.
If we look at the legal precedents in terms of all the decisions about the legal rights of the first nations people in this land, it is an unbroken string of victories. It defines more and more, from Taku River, with the second Haida decision, and the Delgamuukw decision. We have been moving on.
Each of these rulings make it clear, and they are boxing government in more and more. Part of the reason the courts are acting in this way is because of the lack of good faith from the Crown. The honour of the Crown is continually undermining and abusing its fiduciary responsibilities.
I will go back, before I go on to Yukon, to my region and Treaty No. 9. When Treaty No. 9 was signed, it was to share the land. There was a promise of education. At the time of the signing, Ontario was an economic backwater and Toronto was just a little town then.
Treaty No. 9 resources turned Ontario into an international economic powerhouse. It was the hydro, gold, copper, iron and the forestry from Treaty No. 9 that created the Ontario economy, which was the juggernaut of the 20th century.
What did the people who signed the treaty get out of that? They got put on these internal displacement camps. All their economic rights were stripped. It does not say anything in the treaty about having their economic, cultural, religious and education rights stripped, or that they would be made wards of Duncan Campbell Scott who came north to sign the treaty.
There needs to be a day of reckoning on this. The communities I am in say that the reckoning is the respect that we move forward with. We cannot fix the past. None of us can. Knowing what has happened and knowing our obligations, we can move forward.
When I look at a bill that will fail the fundamental test of legal duty to consult, that treats the people of the region as though their voices will be less valued than the voices and interests of southern mining, I am seeing another bill that will be challenged in the courts. Like the Peel Watershed decision in the Yukon court, it is another bill that is eventually going down in defeat, and we will be back at square one.
The only thing that will come from this is bad faith. People I know in the resource industry do not want bad faith. They want peace on the ground. I hear that all the time. They want negotiations. They get the idea that if people in the local regions are not happy, then the project will not move forward.
- MPndpDec 03, 2014 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I have been trying to work with my colleagues on the government side to deepen their understanding of section 404 of the Canada Elections Act.
This is what we know. A corruption scheme was set up by SNC-Lavalin to funnel political money to key politicians, and the Minister of International Development was one of those politicians. He has admitted that his riding association received $25,000 under this scheme, which would make those donations illegal. We now know the name of the SNC executives who funnelled the money.
Therefore, it is a straightforward ask. Why not just strike the names of those contributions? Does the Minister of State for Democratic Reform not believe that this is part of living up to the Canada Elections Act?
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 11:45 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up with the member on section 404 of the Canada Elections Act, because in this ongoing investigation into the illegal financing schemes by SNC-Lavalin, the Minister of International Development has now admitted that his riding association received $25,000 from SNC-Lavalin executives.
We also learned that a Conservative candidate misappropriated $10,000 to pay for rent and clothes.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague this. If it is accepted that he received this money, under the Canada Elections Act, does he not believe that this money has to be returned?
- MPndpDec 01, 2014 11:40 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate my hon. colleague's travels up in the upper sphere. I would like to remind him that under section 404 of the Canada Elections Act, one is not allowed to hide the identity of a contributor, particularly if it is a political donation, so we have the minister's riding association receiving $30,000 in transfers, $25,000 of which comes from SNC-Lavalin executives.
Here is the kicker: illegal political financing was actually included in the job description of several SNC managers. Surely my hon. colleague shares my concern about this. Will he join us in calling for an investigation?
- MPndpDec 01, 2014 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is part of the administrative responsibility of government to ensure a strong Canada Elections Act. When we learned that SNC-Lavalin set up a scheme of illegal donations aimed at putting corporate money into certain political hands, I hoped the Minister of International Development would reassure the House. When he saw thousands of dollars being transferred from SNC-Lavalin's executives, did this not raise an eyebrow?
Will the minister explain if he has had any relationship with SNC-Lavalin? Has his staff met with it? What has been the nature of his relationship since the transfer of that money?
- MPndpNov 28, 2014 9:05 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I take my work very seriously in the House. I am shocked that as I do my work, I get some drive-by smear about something to do with kings and the Treasury Board. I have not ever spoken on kings. I have a lot of opinions on the uselessness of the historic monarchy, but I do not know why I am being subjected to this smear.
I would like the member to apologize.
- MPndpNov 28, 2014 8:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, welcome to Conservative Canada where if a person is a vet, they wait 50 years, and if they are hungry, they go to the dump.
This week, when Canadians saw heartbreaking footage of people scavenging in dumps in Rankin Inlet, the Conservatives went on the offensive. The current minister claimed that this video was not true—we heard her. Her staff intimidated people in Rankin Inlet, demanding an apology to the Conservative Party of Canada. What staggering indifference.
I would like to ask the minister why she believes that people eating out dumps in her riding owe the Conservative Party an apology for her failure to represent them.
- MPndpNov 28, 2014 7:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, some people might consider me a rich old white guy. If I said anything derogatory, I retract it. The fact is that there are two laws and indigenous children do not seem to matter to the government. I will retract any unnecessary comments.
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