- MPconThu 8:05 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member asked that question. What type of material is incorporated by reference? Federal, provincial or foreign legislation. This includes standards developed as part of Canada's national standards system, including those of the Canadian Standards Association, the CSA. There are currently over 400 references to these types of standards in federal regulations.
International standards, such as the standards written by the International Organization for Standardization, ISO, most people see that. Members will see we are taking care of business.
- MPconThu 8:00 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I was here then and I do not remember them voting against that.
I do remember them voting against Canada's economic action plan. I remember them voting against the first $33 billion. I remember them voting against $12 billion in infrastructure stimulus. I remember them voting against just about everything we have put forward.
I judge by results, and I think that is what most Canadians judge by. They judge by whether they have a job or not. We have created over 900,000 new jobs.
We see that the member across the way voted against $241 million to improve on-reserve income assistance programs. He voted against $5 million to expand facilities at Cape Breton University for the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies throughout Canada. He voted against $10 million to inspire and help young aboriginal people all across the country. What he voted against most of all, and every time in the House, is the opportunity to train aboriginal Canadians to have jobs in colleges, universities and trade schools right across the country.
That is what we are doing as a government. We are making sure that we stand up not only for the youth of the country, who have one of the highest unemployment rates of any group and sector in the country, but also for the aboriginal and needy people right across the country.
It is not about a handout; it is about a hand up, so that people can feel good about themselves, take pride in what they do and feel good about being Canadian.
- MPconThu 7:50 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to say that I have been looking forward to speaking to this particular issue for some period of time, actually. Indeed, if we really look at it, we will see many important aspects of the incorporation by reference in regulations act. In fact, it speaks about the future, about being prepared for the future and about making sure that we are able as a government to adapt to what is new.
I speak particularly of change relating to, for instance, the world economic crisis. Our government responded in a very positive way, much like we would with changes to regulations to respond to international or domestic treaties. I would say that we responded by way of an infrastructure rollout such as this country has never seen before. I speak particularly of Canada's economic action plan and the investments in roads, street lights, security for airports, and water and waste water infrastructure. I speak of many recreational facilities across this country that have benefited Canadians. I also speak about the thousands upon thousands of jobs that Canada's economic action plan created, especially in provinces that do not have the economic activity of my province. I speak specifically of Quebec, where I have seen an increase in the quality of life through roadways, water and waste water infrastructure and a cleanup of the environment. All of these things were brought in as a result of change, and the need to change, by our Conservative government.
I know, Mr. Speaker, that this is going to come as somewhat of a surprise to you. Not only has Canada been the most successful country in the world with respect to the economy, but there was one party in the House that voted against each and every one of those economic activities. It is true. Even my colleagues cannot believe it. There were members in the House who voted against Canada's economic action plan, the plan that has been raved about by the G8 and G20 and that has identified Canada as having the best banking system in the world and one of the most successful recoveries, with over 900,000 net new jobs. That party was the New Democratic Party in the House. I witnessed it with my own eyes when New Democrats voted against job recovery. They are applauding now, because they remember what they did. They remember that they stood against this government as we created what can only be said is the best recovery in the world from a deep world economic crisis.
The Liberal Party supported us in some of those bills. I would have to give it credit. Of course, Canadians looked at it a little differently, and that is why they returned the Liberal Party with the fewest number of members in its history. I think that had something to do with the $25 billion it stripped from provincial transfers back in the 1990s. Speaking of changes in statutory instruments, Liberals changed the way the law worked. They changed how provinces and the federal government are supposed to work.
We know, for instance, about the relationship we have built up as a Conservative government with all of the provinces and territories, with every level of government, including, of course, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which today identified this Conservative federal government as a government that is prepared to act in the best interests of Canadians by coming forward with a new infrastructure plan, which it was very satisfied with.
We have done a lot that has been asked of us and we have done that because of the need for change. Change comes in many ways. This bill talks about drafting techniques that offer many advantages because for example, reducing needless duplication or repetition of materials such as provincial legislation when there are current federal and provincial legislative regimes that need to be harmonized.
That is what this government does. Our job is to represent Canadians in the best way we possibly can in saving them money that is unnecessarily spent, by standing up, as the NDP now knows it should have, to support our government when we brought forward $45 billion of economic activity in partnership with provinces, territories and municipalities.
In 2004, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities identified $123 billion in an infrastructure deficit across this country. As a result of 13 years of the Liberals ignoring provincial and territorial governments and stripping $25 billion from their transfers, we had no choice but to react immediately and come up with a plan, a one-page application, a simple process that we have had tremendous reviews about. We work with provincial governments to bring one third, municipal governments bring in one third and we invest one third of Canadian taxpayers' money back into roads and bridges. The NDP voted against it.
There might be some repetition in tonight's speeches because I am very passionate about the opportunity to speak. Some parties in this place, in my mind, do not represent Canadians as they should, especially when we are faced with an economic crisis like the world has never seen before. That is the time when all of the members in House elected by Canadians should stand with the government to protect our economy and our jobs.
We have seen an amazing thing happen over the last 20 years; first the Liberals ignoring Canadians and stripping the $25 billion in transfers and then the New Democratic Party not standing up for Canadians. It is rather shameful and I understand their passion in relation to that.
I would like to answer a couple of questions regarding the incorporation by reference in regulations act because it is very important. Obviously, this government does make changes as necessary and we are doing it in this case as well. One might ask what is incorporation by reference. It is a legislative drafting technique most often used in regulations and it consistently allows the reference documents to form part of the regulations without actually being reproduced. That means that as a result of laying down proper ground rules we do not need to cut down a lot more trees. In fact it not only saves the trees, but it is more economically viable for the country. There is no sense in wasting taxpayers' money. They work hard for it.
In my riding most people work 12 hours a day and then they travel about two hours back and forth to go to work, about 30 kilometres. They enjoy one of the best qualities of life in the world and certainly one of the best qualities of life in Canada. The Clearwater River Valley, only about three blocks from my home, is one of the most beautiful places in the world to fish. I have posted on Facebook a picture of my fishing boat. I think it is time for a change, just like the change necessary for incorporation by reference in regulations act. That change is my opportunity to return to my constituency, go two blocks down to the Clearwater River Valley and to go fishing with my constituents and supporters for some period of time this summer. That is the change that I am looking forward to.
It is unfortunate that I am running out time. The types of regulations that use incorporation by reference would be shipping and marine safety acts, energy efficiency acts and hazardous products. I would hate to see the NDP stand in the way of all the safety products and marine products that need to be brought in as well by this legislation.
I see my time is up. I would just like to say in closing that I really hope the NDP supports this government in the future and sees how important it is that we make these changes in the best interests of Canadians.
- MPconTue 3:10 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
With regard to Order Paper questions: (a) for questions Q-819 through Q-1259, what is the estimated cost of the government's response to each question; and (b) what is the estimated cost of the government's response to this question?
- MPconMay 03, 2013 11:05 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I have been listening intently and I have find it very interesting that we are going to set up a sodium control mechanism by registering the amount of sodium that goes into food. I wonder if the next thing is we will have trigger locks on all of our salt shakers on the table.
The NDP members want to have a sodium registry, but they want to decriminalize marijuana. They talk about health issues with sodium, but have they thought about the other issues that they bring forward? It seems they are sucking and blowing at the same time in relation to many of the policies they are behind.
It just does not seem to fit. In fact, I am wondering what is going to happen next after they control the amount of sodium that goes into products instead of just providing information and education. Maybe they are going to throw people in jail for testing too high on salt. Maybe we are going to have lineups of people being tested for salt. I am not sure. I just do not know where this ends.
The control mechanism those members want to force on consumers clearly indicates the disrespect they have for taxpayers and Canadians alike, thinking they cannot make their own decisions based on proper information.
We know for instance that on processed foods it is required to list the amount of sodium that is contained within those products. Therefore, consumers can go along, pick up a can when they are buying their groceries and see how much sodium it has. Then if they have a sodium issue, they can control the amount of sodium they take by being educated. As we know, just about all Canadians have the ability to read the labels.
The NDP wants to set up this mechanism, this highly regulated and expensive Canadian government registry that will have all of these products on the list and the amount of sodium in them. What are people going to do? Every time they want to go out to get a processed product, such as a bag of chips from the grocery store, will they have to run home and check the computer or take the information with them? Are the New Democrats trying to create more money for large cellphone companies? I am really not sure where they are coming from. I clearly think this is a disrespectful model to follow. It is wasteful, ineffective and will simply not work.
I would like to begin by reiterating the work the government is doing to address sodium intake in Canada because it is a serious concern. However, the NDP members say that it will lower health costs and yet they want to decriminalize something like smoking marijuana that would have such a high health cost to consumers. Their position just does not make sense.
I would like to talk about what the Canadian government is doing.
First, the sodium working group that my friend talked about recommended the government take a voluntary multi-stakeholder approach to reducing the amount of sodium found in foods in the Canadian market. I agree because Canadians are smart. They can feel their health. They see their doctors. We have a good medical system in our country. It does need some work, like most things, but one thing that does not need more work is a sodium registry. Clearly, this would not be good for Canadians and, as I said, I think it disrespects Canadians. It certainly disrespects the independent working group that was set up to find some solutions to the issue.
The government recognized the need for this comprehensive approach by setting up the group. It acknowledged the roles of industry, government and Canadians in working together to reduce sodium consumption. However, we must not do so through some draconian methodology that will, frankly, be very expensive and accomplish nothing except to penalize companies and consumers.
In particular, I would like to talk about the 90-day coming into force program. I know many people in this place have not been commercial printers, but I can promise them that a 90-day coming into force regime would not even enable companies to change the labelling fast enough if they were to reduce the amount of sodium. It would not allow them to change the product. These are products they have spent many years on in putting the perfect ingredients in, as they see it and consumers demand, and sodium is used as a preservative for some of these products.
What are we going to have with a 90-day coming into force? If the NDP had its way and if it were in government, it would have its way, we would find there would be nothing on the shelves. That is what it wants to do. It wants to control the lives of consumers, drive up taxpaying costs and disrespecting Canadians through this.
We have established a voluntary approach. It focuses on three main pillars. The first is awareness and education for consumers. It is clear that the Conservative government respects Canadians and respects the ability of Canadians to make proper choices.
The second pillar is the provision of guidance to the industry to reduce sodium in processed foods. This is a voluntary approach, but at the same time one that will make changes. We have seen this work in other areas, including the transportation industry, consumer groups and food safety issues. It does work and it works in such a way that industry members have an opportunity to do so in a consumer-minded and commercial-minded approach that makes sense and does not shut them down and take all of these processed foods off the store shelves.
The third pillar is proper research. This government has done a lot of investment in research and development, not just in the aerospace industry, not just in the transportation industry, not just in the criminal situation where we need to make sure we have proper laws that are not too draconian, but send criminals to jail because they have done wrong things and the public needs protection. Research is very important, especially in food safety and looking at consumers and consumers' patterns of eating, especially Canadians because we are a little different.
We have the far north and some other areas that frankly need to be more careful in relation to the amount of food they eat and what types of food they have. I highly recommend fresh fruits and vegetables and proper foods like that, regularly going to a marketplace and having the food come in every two or three days. Many European nations and other nations do this. They do not buy in large bulk like Canadians do and like we had to do as a result of our heritage. They buy regularly every day and that is why they have sometimes a much better source of food than we do in Canada.
Focusing on these three areas, we are clearly working to respect Canadians' views, but also to lower Canadians' sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day by 2016. This is an ambitious target, but by educating consumers and Canadians we can do that.
This is an approach that is already showing progress. We have had success in this area in meeting its target. As a result of that, in the small amount of time we have taken to do this, it shows that this government's approach is clearly working. Data recently collected from samples of breads, breakfast cereals and canned soups show that sodium levels have been reduced by about 10% overall in these products.
I find very interesting that the NDP members vote against, for instance, infrastructure projects and all the economic action plans that the Conservative government brought forward. They vote against jobs. They sent a delegation to Washington to shut down the oil sands industry, to shut down the jobs that Canadians are working in, to shut down the manufacturing industry in Ontario and Quebec that supplies somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40% to 50% of the jobs outside of Alberta that are working in the oil sands. It is shocking that they would try to shut down Canadian jobs, that they would vote against action plans to create employment and infrastructure and a higher quality of life in Canada, yet they want to control the amount of salt that Canadians eat. Quite frankly, it is ridiculous.
Bill C-460 unfortunately does not acknowledge the work that has already been done and the positive changes that are coming out. It just criticizes. I would like to focus today on the costs especially.
I know I do not have a lot of time because I have a lot to say about the bill because of the ludicrous nature of it. This would be a significant cost to taxpayers and how do we maintain that? Well, the government has to maintain it. The government has to maintain it on a continuous basis and keep it up-to-date. I think it would be underutilized, if at all utilized, by Canadians and would cost a lot of money. The only people who would actually know what is on the website, because those would be the only people able to use it, are government people who are inputting the data. I just do not think it makes sense.
By mandating the levels of sodium in food products, manufacturers would also be forced to reformulate their product in a very quick fashion. That is not how it works. Frankly, as I said before, they would end up pulling the product off the shelf until they could conform properly because it is an issue of food safety as well. They would be changing the products that go into their food because they would have to, as a result of the NDP bill. It would mean so many disruptions to Canadians' lives and accomplish absolutely nothing.
It is clear that Canadians made a choice in the last election. They voted for a Conservative government so that we can continue to operate as they want us to do, continue to respect Canadians, continue to allow them to make their own educated choices, but to make sure at the same time that they have the ability to understand what they are consuming and be able to understand what choices they are making.
- MPconMay 03, 2013 9:55 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, we know that our economy is doing very well. We have heard from world leaders, the OECD, and the IMF about how well our economy is doing as a result of the $45-billion economic action plan and the infrastructure stimulus fund this government put in place. We have seen jobs created as a result of new bridges, new roads and new community centres right across the country—in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta.
Mr. Speaker, you and I know, but many Canadians do not know, that the NDP voted against the economic action plan and every single dollar that went into Ontario, Quebec and across the country.
What would have happened had the NDP had its way? What would have happened if we had not had the economic action plan and had not created the 900,000 net new jobs we have as a Conservative government? What would have happened to our economy?
- MPconMay 03, 2013 8:55 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, our incredibly hard-working Minister of Foreign Affairs is in Montreal today to lead the defence against Qatar's hostile attempt to relocate the International Civil Aviation Organization.
As members know, our government has worked in good faith to complete an agreement to extend ICAO's stay in that world-class beautiful city for 20 years, from 2016 onward. The ICAO council actually endorsed the agreement and gave the secretary general the authority to sign it.
Can the parliamentary secretary today please tell us what the Minister of Foreign Affairs is doing in Montreal?
- MPconMay 01, 2013 2:25 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I find that troubling. The PBO did correct that particular statement that the individual brought forward, and indicated clearly that those jobs would not have naturally occurred without the government investing in Canada. It just simply makes sense.
I would like to talk about a few other things that have happened that I am very proud of as well. They include an investment of $1.25 billion for affordable housing that we are bringing forward in this budget. In fact, in the homeless partnership strategy of $600 million, the investment there is to help people move from the streets to shelters, with jobs or with mental health treatment.
Those are things the government is doing. We are making sure that Canadians are going to do better, no matter whether they are on the streets and have health or mental issues that we need to resolve, or whether they need jobs somewhere else in the country. We are going to make sure, no matter where they are from, they are treated fairly and equally. Canadians are the number one priority of government.
- MPconMay 01, 2013 2:15 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to talk a little bit about what I think is a great budget, economic action plan 2013.
Clearly, we can see the difference between the political parties in this House. On this side of the House are the Conservatives, who stand up for the Canadian economy, which ultimately means more and better jobs for Canadians.
On the other side, they stand up for banks, Chinese manufacturers of bikes and other manufacturers from other countries. Instead of supporting local manufacturing, they stand up to support Chinese manufacturers. It seems absolutely absurd, and frankly, Canadians will punish them at the next opportunity they have.
Let us talk about the positive things in the budget that we are bringing in to promote a stronger economy and to make sure that Canadians have a far stronger and better quality of life.
First, in my part of the country, Fort McMurray—Athabasca, we have problems filling jobs. We cannot find enough people to do the jobs we have. It does not matter whether it is in a car wash sector, a Tim Hortons or even lawyers or doctors; we cannot find enough people to fill the jobs, and we have the highest household income in the country. That is right: $185,000 is the average household income in my city of Fort McMurray.
One of the things I really like is the Canada job grant. This is to help align individual skills with high-demand jobs. It is a $15,000 amount in a tripartite fashion, with the provinces, the federal government and employers working together to find people to fill the jobs. What could be more important than that? This is a very positive initiative. It makes sure we do not just give a handout but a hand up, and we do so in a way whereby every level of government is working together with employers to do exactly that.
Another thing I really like is directing the gas tax fund payments to build a job-creating infrastructure throughout Canada. This is very important. When we came to office, as I am sure we heard from many people and as we have seen in the streets of our country, we had a $123 billion deficit in infrastructure. It takes time to catch up, so in our budget we brought in one of the largest infrastructure investments in Canada's history, $33 billion.
We heard clearly from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and right across the country that these were great initiatives for ensuring that Canada's quality of life continued to be the greatest in the world by ensuring that potholes were filled, by ensuring we had new roads and less congestion on our roadways, by ensuring we had water and waste water infrastructure. We are doing exactly that in this budget. We are doing so in collaboration with other parties: with the provinces, with the territories, with municipalities and now with employers.
We are also amending the temporary foreign workers program. On one side we cannot get enough employees in Fort McMurray for many of the jobs there, especially in the service sector. Those people in the service sector make a better quality of life for the people in the higher-paying jobs with that $185,000 average household income. However, clearly everybody in the House would agree that there has been some form of misuse of the program. That cannot be put up with. Clearly, our Prime Minister has laid out a plan, a strategy, to ensure that employers cannot do that any more.
There is always a need for tweaks. There is always a need for some changes in legislation to make sure that it would be unacceptable for people, companies or employers to take advantage of the system to the detriment of the Canadian economy and Canadians as a whole.
In this particular case, I have heard from union and non-union members throughout my constituency that they clearly want some changes to the temporary foreign worker program. We are here for Canadians, and Canadians should have first crack at any job they want, no matter what part of the country they are from.
We have also extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for two years to create new investments for Canadian manufacturers. This means that companies will buy equipment, and we hope it will be Canadian equipment. Somebody will then need to make sure the equipment works, so we will have to train people. Those will be Canadian jobs. Then employers will have to make sure they have people to operate the machinery.
This is a kick-start to employers to encourage them to go out and buy new machinery. It is a tax advantage for them, in that it defers tax a bit, and it is clearly a financial advantage for them to do so.
All the way down the assembly line of that manufacturing company will be Canadians working for Canadian output. That is an advantage for all Canadian manufacturers. It is an advantage for southwestern Ontario, for Quebec and for other places where the manufacturing sector has been hit. This Conservative government stands up for, and will continue to stand up for, the manufacturing sector in this country.
We are also doing some other interesting things. We are providing $165 million in support for Genome Canada. I know this is a very popular thing in some parts of the country and not so popular in others, because those areas do not know what the company does. This company makes sure that Canadians are on the forefront of research and development. In whatever field, Genome Canada is going to be the first in the world. We heard clearly in the finance committee that Genome Canada is at the forefront of the field, and this government will continue to support that to ensure Canadians have the best jobs through research and development.
We are also worried about youth. Although we have a low unemployment rate, we have a high youth unemployment rate. Compared to the rest of the world, though, it is very low, and we are going to work on youth because we need to fill those jobs. We are going to invest $8 million in the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to provide advice for young entrepreneurs.
As the father of three children in their twenties, I know it is difficult for them to find jobs in some areas, especially in the lower service sector. This will provide advice for people who want to start up new businesses, for people who want to start on an opportunity that they would not have otherwise or would not know how to fulfill. This government sees today's youth as tomorrow's future. We are going to concentrate on the future of Canada through youth, through quality of life and through a strong economy.
We are also providing $5 million in 2013-14 to Indspire, which supports scholarships and bursaries for first nation and Inuit post-secondary education. This program is important in all parts of Canada, but it is especially important for our economy. That is because we have heard in the finance committee that there is a clear correlation between success in aboriginal communities and the resource sector.
That is right. The resource sector is usually found in remote places in northern Canada. Aboriginal communities are usually in the same places. Here is an opportunity to make sure that those people who are the captains of industry are people from those communities, and they should be. Not only should they have first crack at a job, but they should be the people leading this country in that particular area of development.
In the oil sands in Fort McMurray, aboriginal communities are, for the most part, highly successful. They have integrated very well with the industry to create successful aboriginal stories and successful community stories. Fort McKay would be a perfect example. I would suggest it is one of the best success stories in the country as far as aboriginal communities are concerned.
We are also renovating the Investment Canada Act to further clarify foreign state investments in Canada and national security reviews. I have heard that clearly from constituents too. They are concerned about foreign investment. They are concerned about Chinese investment and other countries investing in the oil sands, for instance, or in key industries such as uranium or potash. Canadians want those industries to be owned by Canadians, to be run by Canadians and to have Canadian employees. Canadians are worried about that. They trust us to make sure we do what is best for them.
I do not have a lot of time left, but I want to talk briefly about something that is near and dear to me.
Our government has set record levels on infrastructure investment in this country. I mentioned $33 billion, but that amount is actually $45 billion over that period of time. That is the highest investment by any Canadian government in our history.
People might ask what this does for them. The answer is that it employs them. As well, it makes sure that they have more and better highways and better bridges, and other infrastructure such as social infrastructure. It gives them a better quality of life.
Some of those things include $32.2 billion in the community improvement fund, which will provide stable funding for community infrastructure projects. We have heard from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and from mayors and provinces right across the country that they need to have stable, predictable, long-term funding so they know where they are going to spend money in the future. They need to know when they are going to get it, just as any business does. If we just tell them that every year they are going to get a certain amount and it is a surprise to them, how can they do any long-term planning? It is impossible.
This government is going to make a variety of other infrastructure investments to build on our economic action plan. We are going to make sure we place Canadians first, for Canadians, for the Canadian economy and for the future of Canada.
- MPconMay 01, 2013 1:55 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's proposal. I am not sure if he read the budget and looked at what we are doing in relation to Canada's skills grants, in relation to the accelerated capital cost allowance for Canadian manufacturers and in regard to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. We are investing $8 million in youth to make sure they receive proper advice for their start-ups and inspiration for the future. In addition, Indspire is receiving $5 million from 2013-14 for first nation and Inuit post-secondary education.
I am not sure if he heard that or read that in the budget, but I would encourage him to do so to see exactly what this government is doing and how we are helping Canadians and not sticking up for the banks, as the Liberal Party usually does. In this particular case, it is credit unions. The reality is that we all have to pay our fair share, credit unions as well.
I am wondering if this is actually a move by the Liberals to deflect from the tremendous amount of investment in infrastructure this government has made over the past six years and the tremendous amount of infrastructure in which we are investing in the current budget. Of course, they cut $25 billion in social transfers to the provinces. Is that what this is really all about? Is it about changing the channel from the cuts by the Liberal government in the nineties?
- MPconApr 26, 2013 8:10 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to honour one of Alberta's own. Yesterday, Dave Rutherford announced that he was signing off radio for the very last time. For over 20 years, Dave Rutherford has been the voice of Albertan people, speaking to the people directly on the issues that matter to them the most.
I know we are unlikely to see another radio show like his any time soon. Whether he was hosting the Prime Minister of Canada, or taking questions from listeners, Rutherford always had an uncanny tendency to know exactly what Albertans were thinking.
Hundreds of thousands of regular listeners will miss the pointed questions he asked and the information that he provided. The uniqueness of his talk show, which focused on issues instead of the long political rants that sometimes take place, can solely be credited to the thoughtfulness of this great man.
Even though he is gone from radio, we hope to continue to hear from him in one way or another for many years. We will miss him.
- MPconApr 23, 2013 11:05 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, Canada and the United States are best friends. Our countries share the largest trade relationship in the world, a 9,000 kilometre border, three oceans, $1.8 billion in trade every day and $600 billion in trade exports and imports last year. Of 50 states, 35 count Canada as their number one export market. As well, there are over 4,500 Canadian-owned businesses in 17,000 U.S. locations.
We are best friends, with family connections in every state, province and territory. Today I thank Canada's best friend, the United States of America, its Congress, its Senate and President Obama for our great and enduring friendship. May the key to our future friendship continue to be the stone solid economic link between our countries.
- MPconMar 26, 2013 10:30 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I clearly heard my friend talk about where he was parked for nine years and that he was parked in Fort McMurray, so I thought it would be necessary to talk about parks.
We have done a great amount of work on parks, and green energy in particular. In fact, $4 million in 2013 will be spent to better protect against invasive species and water regulations. We are doing a lot to keep Canadians safe, making sure jobs happen, making sure that this economy continues and Canada has the best quality of life possible.
- MPconMar 26, 2013 10:15 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to budget 2013. In fact, going on from what my colleague said, we are the first government in Canadian history to actually lower greenhouse gas emissions. That clearly indicates to me that the more the Conservatives are elected and sent to this place, the less hot air there would be going around Canada.
However, I do believe that for the most part this is going to be an incredible budget for my constituency of Fort McMurray—Athabasca. When we go up there to see how much job unemployment there is, quite frankly there is none. There are so many jobs that we cannot fill them. It is a sad state of affairs when we have a situation where there are jobs in this country and there people who are jobless, and we cannot fill those jobs. People do not much better psychologically, mentally, physically, emotionally when they have a job and they know the future is bright.
Canada has tremendous opportunities to provide those jobs. However, up until 2006, there was no movement by any federal government to move forward with a situation in the country where people could take jobs, receive training, and either move on a temporary or a permanent basis to have jobs in their particular sectors.
In fact, that is why this government has continued to provide support to the manufacturing industry, whether it be the automobile manufacturing sector in Ontario or the machinery manufacturing sector in Ontario and Quebec, or whether it be one of many others. Again, this particular budget would invest in manufacturing, in jobs and job creation, and in skills.
Some may wonder what that is all about. The truth is that we have continued to do that since 2006, since we were first elected. What we have seen as a result of the election, and then the successive moves by this Prime Minister, this cabinet and this government, is the voting in of some good economic action plans and other budgets that have created jobs and successes.
We have heard from many speakers that we have had over 900,000 net new jobs created in this country. We have also been ranked as one of the strongest economies in the G7 year after year. We have the strongest banking sector in the world right now, bar none. For the past two or three years, we have had an incredible opportunity to create jobs, to fill voids in our sector, in our economy generally across the board, and that has worked out to be tremendously successful.
However, these are about past successes. I want to talk about tomorrow's successes. That is why I want the opportunity to talk about budget 2013.
There are tremendous positive attributes of this budget, particularly, as I said, in job creation, job growth and stimulating economic development. However, we would also note, and members have probably heard this a couple of times before, this Conservative Government of Canada, since 2006, has invested more money in quality of life, in particular infrastructure, than any government in our history. Going forward, this is the plan by this government. We are going to invest in solid community infrastructure that would give Canadians the quality of life they deserve. They deserve a high quality of life, the best quality of life of anyone in the world.
We are going to build and construct roads, bridges, subways, public infrastructure, all in collaboration with provinces and territories and also with our partners in the municipalities. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in 2005, identified that we had a $123-billion deficit on our infrastructure across the country. As a result, we saw economic action plans that brought forward somewhere in the neighbourhood of $33 billion in 2008, and a total of about $45 billion up to today's budget.
Now we are going forward with even more. There is $53 billion in infrastructure funding for the next 10 years, which I will state again is the largest and longest federal infrastructure plan ever in Canadian history. This would include job creation in that infrastructure investment. That would mean more jobs for Canadians all across the country.
The one thing we are doing differently from the previous Liberal government is actually investing on an equitable basis, a fair basis, all across Canada. Whether it be in each and every province based upon population, or in the territories, we are investing fairly so Canadians would get their fair share no matter where they are in the country. That is something different. We can see that clearly in the funding model we have come forward with today. For instance, $32 billion over the next 10 years of building community infrastructure would include over $10 billion in federal public infrastructure. It will be over $14 billion toward major economic infrastructure, which would include major infrastructure, such as the Windsor-Detroit bridge, and other infrastructure investments across this country.
These things will increase the quality of life for Canadians. That is ultimately what I am doing here and what I was elected to do by the 150,000 or so people in northern Alberta, to give them a better quality of life and to be accountable with the money. There are no slush funds here or $40 million missing. We will find proper investments, proper accountability and make sure that Canadians get value for money. That is why I am here. There is why I was elected and that is why I will continue to represent my constituents and give them exactly that.
There is $1.25 billion for creating more efficient infrastructure through public private partnerships. I like public private partnerships because overall they come in for less than budget and faster in time than public infrastructure. That is correct. We can give more money, more quality of life for Canadians, through this type of model. This government has been very good and very aggressive at setting this up and we are seeing the benefits of that. The benefits go straight back to my constituents, and all Canadians.
We are also doing other things, such as $600 million in improving shelters and stable housing for the homeless with mental health and addiction issues. This is a big issue. These people should not be in prisons. They should be taken care of by the government through some form of alternative measures. We are moving forward with that so we will have stable shelters and housing for those people. Finally, there is over $1.25 billion in renewing our investment in affordable housing.
Opposition members talk about how mean and nasty the Conservatives are, but this budget does not say that. This budget says we clearly care about all Canadians and that we are going to make sure there is an equitable division of the tax dollars that belong to them. We are going to make sure that every part of Canada receives what it needs. There are many priorities out there, but those priorities should be done on a fair and equitable basis. That is what we are going to do.
Along with infrastructure, I mentioned earlier that we are worried about Canada's manufacturing sector. Non-renewable resources, such as oil sands, gas, gold, platinum or uranium do not renew themselves. We need to make sure we have an economy going forward for the next thousand years. That is what we are doing. We are making sure we give tax relief for new manufacturing of machinery and equipment of $1.4 billion. We are making sure we give new investments in our aerospace industry. I think we are the third or fourth largest in the world, and that is something to be proud of. We easily fight above our weight on the international stage in the aerospace industry and we need to make sure those jobs continue to happen into the future.
We also are looking at large-scale technology projects. Not only did our knowledge infrastructure program invest in all the universities and colleges across this country that provided tremendous opportunities for my children, other people's children and the next generation, on public infrastructure buildings, but we are also investing in training and trades. We are going forward even in a time of austerity. The world is looking pretty glum, but Canada is looking great and we are investing in new technology.
I want to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart, and that is the Canada jobs grant: $15,000 for eligible participates. However, that $15,000 to train new people is not just given to people; it is given to people under certain conditions. Those conditions include participation by the province. Certainly it is provincial jurisdiction to create jobs and to keep that going, but we are working together with our partners, not just municipalities, but provinces and the employers. That is right. Employers have to buy into this program as well. That means that the employers and employees do not get free money. They have to abide by certain regulations and conditions to get the money. However, the money will be there. The employers have to train people. This is not a handout; this is a hand-up scenario.
I am very proud of that. We believe we will have at least 130,000 Canadians who will have access to training and eligible institutions like colleges and training centres that will take advantage of this money.
I also want to talk about new investments. It is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 20% of my constituency who are aboriginal. I am proud to see there is $241 million to improve on-reserve income assistance programs to help guarantee first nations youth access to job skills and training. One of the largest issues we have in this country is aboriginal youth who are unemployed. That is a large percentage. There is $5 million to expand the facilities of Cape Breton University's Purdy Crawford Chair, in aboriginal studies throughout Canada. It goes on and on.
This is a government that cares about the people of Canada, that is equitable in the decisions it makes and that makes sure every part of the country receives a fair share. However, it is about jobs. Jobs are the future of this country and we need to take care of the people who cannot take care of themselves. We need to make sure we do the job properly in the best interests of Canadians.
- MPconMar 20, 2013 11:10 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, the NDP leader's statement in Washington that the Keystone XL pipeline would mean a 40,000-person job loss for Canadians is ridiculous and false.
This pipeline is a key instrument to ensuring strong Canada-U.S. relations, future economic growth and jobs on both sides of the border. In Canada alone, the Keystone and other pipeline projects will mean at least 905,000 new jobs by 2035. It also means $1.3 trillion of economic output and $281 billion in tax revenue. That is a lot of schools, a lot of hospitals and a lot of roads in Canada.
Not only does the NDP want to discourage one of the biggest economic projects in Canada's history, it also wants to replace it with a $21 billion job-killing carbon tax that would cost thousands of Canadian jobs. Truly, the NDP is not fit to govern.
- MPconFeb 05, 2013 4:15 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for the bill. It seems very useful indeed. There are hundreds of millions of dollars going in unwarranted profits to people who would prey on the most vulnerable Canadians. I applaud her. I will be supporting the bill and I hope all members will as well.
Why specifically did she not set out a maximum fee in relation to the contingency fee charged? I know in Alberta there was talk of this for some period of time in relation to solicitor fees and that was capped at 30%, about 12 years ago, from an unregulated industry. I know that was met with much applause in the industry in Alberta. Did she do much research on this and why she did not set a particular maximum fee?
- MPconJan 31, 2013 1:35 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to be here since 2004. I remember the Liberals being in power at that time and talking a lot and going through the motions of settlements and land claims, etcetera.
During that period of time when they were in majority governments, for most of that time, the Liberals settled very few claims. In fact I think it was somewhere around 10 or 12 claims in 13 years, in essence one a year or possibly a little more.
I wonder if the member knows that we have actually settled more than 80 land claims in the six years the government has been in power, more than 80 land claims that are permanent settlements. One in particular in my riding, the Bigstone Cree Nation, the second largest nation in Canada, is one of the largest claims in history. That was done about three years ago.
I would invite the member to come up to my riding in northern Alberta to see the success of first nations that have the economic conditions to change their lives and change their futures. It is a wonderful thing to see. I have many family members in that area. Their success is true and real. They are successful and very happy people.
- MPconDec 11, 2012 10:00 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I have listened, but again and again I hear the same misrepresentation of the facts. Indeed, I think all members here would agree that 81 out of the 88 recommendations made by Chief Justice Lamer have been accepted by the government, and have been implemented or are on their way to being implemented.
The member and others from the NDP have stood up consistently and said, “They do not deserve criminal record” or “They should not have a criminal record” or “The criminal record follows them”. It is not about “them”. If they have committed a crime, they should be identified with a criminal record. Canadians should have the ability to have someone supervise them for a period of time. Criminals should pay a price as a consequence of their actions.
Is the member suggesting that these people, if they commit a crime, should not have a criminal record and that Canadians should not be protected through some form of supervision on an ongoing basis? That is what he seems to be saying.
The member continuously brings forward the disappointment that the NDP members have in relation to their amendments not being adopted by the government, so the NDP members are going to take their baseball and bat and go home. I know the member is disappointed, but he is not in government.
Is the member suggesting that people should not receive a criminal record if they do a crime? That is what he seems to be saying.
- MPconDec 11, 2012 9:45 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, this is the third time I have listened to members from the NDP bring forward what I would characterize as misinformation. That is the only way I can characterize it.
We do, indeed, have the facts. The only fact we seem to agree on in this particular case is that former Chief Justice Lamer made 88 recommendations in his 2003 report. That should lend a lot of credence to this. It is independent from political purview, from a person who has a great legal track record and actually made recommendations. Eighty-one of those recommendations were accepted by this government. That is clear from all the information, if we look at it. Twenty-nine have been implemented already through legislation, regulation or policy changes; 36 are contained in Bill C-15; and the remainder that have been accepted by the government are pending implementation through regulation or are under study to find out the best way to implement them.
That is very clear. We know that. Why do the opposition NDP members continuously suggest that is not the case? They are misrepresenting the facts on how many have been accepted by the government and how many have actually been implemented.
- MPconDec 11, 2012 9:30 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, having had the opportunity to listen to the member, I want to make a couple of comments.
First, the former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Brian Dickson actually examined the summary trial system, which the hon. member has an issue with, and stated:
The requirement for military efficiency and discipline entails the need for summary procedures. This suggests that investigation of offences and their disposition should be done quickly and at the unit level.
The Supreme Court of Canada and the previous Chief Justice have agreed that the summary procedure is necessary and appropriate in this case. Indeed, Chief Justice Dickson at the time and Justice Lesage confirmed that the summary trial system was constitutionally valid and would withstand anything. Hence, I am wondering why the hon. member would bring that forward.
The hon. member said as well that the summary trial was not reviewable. To the contrary, it specifically is reviewable. The offender is informed at the time of sentencing that he or she has the right to have the finding or sentence reviewed. Moreover, an assisting officer is assigned to the offender, and if the offender is sentenced to detention, that detention is actually suspended until it is reviewed.
Therefore, what the hon. member is suggesting is in fact not the case, and I wish she would comment on that and get the facts straight.
- MPconDec 11, 2012 8:45 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I have been having some problems listening and it is not because my ears do not hear. I understand the member might have difficulty counting. My understanding is that he claims only 29 of the recommendations made by the late Chief Justice Lamer have been implemented by the government.
The facts speak differently. I wonder if the member could comment on that. Specifically, there were 88 recommendations made from the 2003 report, but 81 of these recommendations were accepted by the government. In fact, 29 have been implemented already, either through other legislation, regulation or policy changes. I understand that 36 are currently contained in Bill C-15.
What the member is saying is obviously an accounting error. I know the NDP, as a rule, make a lot of accounting errors because they spend much more money than is actually available through taxes from Canadians. Could the member just stick to the facts and comment on the fact that of the 88 recommendations made, 81 have actually been implemented in some way, either through legislation, regulation or are in other bills? Could the member comment on that in particular?
- MPconDec 10, 2012 12:15 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Fort McMurray—Athabasca and in particular the residents of Big Lakes, High Prairie.
The petitioners ask the government to construct a federal penitentiary in the municipal district of Big Lakes. Although the oil sands are doing great, not all of Alberta or all of the country is doing great. As such they ask for assistance to help with their employment needs in that area.
- MPconDec 10, 2012 11:05 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, it is almost Christmas, a time when our thoughts naturally turn to family, friends and gift giving.
This Christmas the NDP members are behaving more like Scrooge than Santa. They want to give Canadians the gift of a carbon tax. This is no gift, but a money grab, a lump of coal that would create hardships all across Canada for hardworking families.
The oil sands fuel the economy and create jobs in all parts of Canada. Every day, workers fly out of northern Alberta, my home, taking their well-earned good wages back to their families in Newfoundland, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and all of Canada.
A carbon tax like the NDP is proposing would critically hurt Canadian families. Our government has lowered taxes for all Canadians, promoted trade, increased exports and kept our economy stable.
I ask all Canadians during the holidays to raise their voice and say no to the NDP lump of coal, no to the NDP carbon tax.
- MPconDec 10, 2012 9:10 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, first, I want to apologize for laughing at the member when he said responsible government and NDP in the same sentence because, of course, the NDP members were the people who voted against Canada's economic action plan that actually has kept us above and beyond all the other countries in the world as far as economic performance goes.
I want to ask the member if he now regrets the decision to vote against all of the roads, the bridges, the recreation centres, the hockey rinks and all the other things that created a positive economic atmosphere and so many jobs in Canada.
I also want to know if this is the same NDP that is suggesting we stop tanker traffic on the west coast. That is what I have heard from it time and time again, that it would stop all tanker traffic on the west coast. Indeed, that tanker traffic brings oil and gas to many small communities across the west coast. It creates many jobs there. These are the same NDP members who want to shut down the oil sands, where I come from, that created 500,000 jobs across the country and is going to create another 300,000 in the next few years. Therefore, is that what he means by responsible government?
My last question is: Does he support refining and upgrading capacity in Canada and more jobs in Canada, or does he not?
- MPconNov 26, 2012 10:40 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions for the member.
First, obviously the movement of Bill C-47 and the agreement for this legislation to go forward and to be voted on in this place is very important to the north, but important to Canada as well. What is the member's opinion and the reaction of the people in the north to a couple of investments our government has made, in particular $71 million to the Mayo B, which was done in the Yukon? I know there was a tremendous reaction from the premier of the Yukon at the time and others, because it takes five communities off dependence on diesel. It is all about clean infrastructure being built and green infrastructure being built out of the green infrastructure fund. Another thing that has happened in the north is the northwest transmission line in northern British Columbia, $141 million. Again, it is green infrastructure going into place to create more green infrastructure and green energy for the people of the north.
Finally, in relation to the gun registry itself and the destruction of the data, we promised to do that for so long. How important is that to the northern people, getting green infrastructure, ensuring we make these plans so we have the green, clean energy that goes into the north instead of polluting diesel? How important are these things, along with the gun registry data destruction, to the people in the north whom the member represents?
- MPconNov 26, 2012 10:10 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the Liberal position on this, as I did with the NDP position.
I am from northern Alberta. I feel I know northerners. I have a trap line. I have trapped for some period of time. I am an avid hunter. I know one thing aboriginals have spoken loudly about in northern Alberta and in the Northwest Territories is the ability to carry guns in an environment that is not like downtown Toronto or Vancouver. Certainly they have dangers that pose real risks to them on a daily basis in their backyards, as much as Fort McMurray was with bears coming into the backyards. It is just a different type of lifestyle.
Indeed, the only people who seem to stand up for aboriginal Canadians across the country in regard to the different lifestyle that they have as a result of where they live, and specifically with the gun registry, is the Conservative government. We saw the NDP vote en masse to keep the gun registry and the promise to bring it back. The Liberals brought the gun registry in the first place, in essence wasting $2 billion of taxpayer money.
Could the member comment on her position, as to where she lives, and why she and her party have for so long ignored the rights of aboriginal Canadians to have the opportunity to carry guns in a different environment and to have that ability to have long guns as needed to protect themselves and for their aboriginal lifestyle to continue?
- MPconNov 20, 2012 9:50 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, this member and other members bring forward arguments relating to why they think this is not good legislation. I am curious, because I come from northern Alberta. I have many relatives in first nations bands, treaty and status Indians. Even some past chiefs are related to me up in northern Alberta. I worked as a lawyer there, too. I saw first nations' plights first-hand. I saw how chiefs used moneys for their own benefit instead of for members. In particular, I even heard of cases where they would take band money, gamble with it and lose it, for their own gain or loss, as the case may be.
I heard some other arguments the hon. member has made. I have heard questions in the House from him before. Quite frankly, some of them seemed reasonable in the past. Even some of his comments now seem slightly reasonable in some respects.
Does the hon. member not see that this, in particular, is a first step for accountability in first nations, where chiefs and band leaders will be accountable to the members, and ultimately they will get better services? Band members will be treated with respect, while right now many of them have no respect. If they are not related or in some way connected to the chief, they have no rights. They have to leave the band under divorce cases or other things. Does he not see that this accountability, this step, would be the best thing for the people of Canada, the best thing for all members of all bands across the country? Does he not see that?
- MPconNov 19, 2012 12:15 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
With regard to questions Q-513 through Q-818 on the Order Paper: (a) what is the estimated cost of the government's response to each question; and (b) what is the estimated cost of the government's response to this question?
- MPconNov 06, 2012 11:15 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, this week our Prime Minister is in Asia telling the Canadian economic success story to the world. That story is one of the best job growth in the G7, the best fiscal position in the G7 and a beacon of economic light to the world. Under our Prime Minister's great leadership, Canada has become the economic model to the world. Canada is a better place for it. The world is a better place for it.
While the NDP advances a $21 billion job-killing carbon tax, also known as the NDP economic pain, our government will advance our Conservative economic plan, the economic plan that is the model for the world and will ensure a great quality of life for Canadians for generations to come.
- MPconOct 25, 2012 10:10 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I thought the points made by the member who just spoke were very well made. In fact, it is very important to see as a macro vision what we are doing as a government and how we are concentrating on jobs, the economy and the strength of the Canadian economy in the future, which of course is very important to Canadians and most important when we do not have it.
I would like to talk a bit about the future goals of the budget bill and what I see as our overreaching goals. That, of course, is to make sure we have better safety and security, more efficiency, the removal of red tape and, ultimately, a better quality of life. That is what this is all about and why I am in this place, to make a better quality of life for the people in my constituency of Fort McMurray—Athabasca and every part of this great country.
Since the Conservative government has promoted Canada's economic action plan, we have seen tremendous growth and development in this country, even while the rest of the world is suffering from an economic decline and people are wondering how they are going to build jobs in the future. Our country is doing tremendously well, and the people of Canada are doing very well overall. There are pockets of unemployment, of course, and we are addressing that with some changes through our economic action plan, as the member said earlier, in employment earnings legislation specifically, and I believe those changes will be efficient enough to move forward with our economy, because that is ultimately what it is about.
Speaking of records, our economy has expanded in nine out of the last ten quarters. That is right; it is very unusual in today's economic climate, but out of the last ten quarters, nine of them have seen economic growth and expansion. As well, 810,000 net jobs have been created since June of 2009. That is no small feat, especially given the size of our economy and workforce. That is a tremendous thing to brag about. The rest of the economies in the world, the G7 and the G20 all recognize that Canada is the leader as far as jobs and growth go and are envious of our position.
Our nation also holds the strongest fiscal position in the G7. We hear that all the time, but it is the truth and something to be proud of and brag about, because we are in such great condition today compared to most of the world. We do not sit on our laurels, though, and we feel we must continue to secure more jobs and have more growth and long-term prosperity because, as I said, that is what Canadians expect of their federal government and that is what we are going to deliver.
With that, we will specifically focus on supporting entrepreneurs, on innovation and research, and on business investment, strategically encouraging businesses and private enterprises to invest the money they have stockpiled during this recession and hire more workers. That is why things like the small business hiring credit and other initiatives from our government are so popular in the small business community. Businesses know, when we put forward a plan like this tax credit, we will follow through with legislation, unlike what happened in previous Liberal governments, especially regarding climate change and other environmental initiatives. The Liberals talked about it but never acted on it.
That is the difference with this government. The Conservative Party puts forward policies based on its economic platform. People can find it on the website, conservative.ca. We have clearly indicated all the initiatives we are going to have over time, that we are going to concentrate on jobs and growth for the economy, remove red tape and get rid of duplication of services so that Canadians know that, when they contact their federal government, they are going to get good service in a reasonable amount of time and just and satisfactory decisions. Clearly, that is what interests me.
Efficient productivity is vital for this country. Productivity moves up and down, and we can make changes today that we will not see on the productivity index for some period of time. I think, bluntly, that the changes we have made over the last six years are tremendous and we will see positive repercussions on the productivity of our nation for decades as a result. We are going to see an increase in manufacturing jobs, a stronger, more robust economy for manufacturers, and workers who are employed and feel job security, instead of what happened over the past decade or two, such as the insecurity of auto workers' jobs, in particular.
I have friends who work in the auto sector. For years and years they wondered whether they were going to have a job in two or three months. We are going to add substance, long-term planning and predictability for companies and corporations such as the auto sector, so they know they will not have to worry about bailouts, that they will have a good, robust agenda for trade and workers and that their jobs will be good for many centuries to come.
Since 2006, our government has also moved forward in the most aggressive manner on lowering corporate taxes to the lowest level of any industrialized nation, 15%. Even the President of the United States recognized this. The challenger to the President of the United States recognized what Canada has done with the economy, how robust our economy is, because we have lowered taxes for corporations.
Even though we have lowered our corporate taxes to 15%, corporate revenues have actually risen to the highest record ever. It is obvious that this strategy by the Conservative government and this Prime Minister is working, is effective and is working well for Canadians. Canadians can count on their federal government to continue that.
We have also provided $500 million to support venture capitalist activities. This is important, because during times of economic slowdown everyone holds onto their wallet tightly and they are not prepared to invest or take risks. As a government, we have to help them move forward on some of these ventures to make sure the economy keeps going, to make sure jobs keep growing and there are new jobs.
We have also extended the domestic powers of Export Development Canada to continue to provide financial support for both manufacturers and exporters, because if we do not trade with the world we are going to lose; our competition is the rest of the world. We need to make sure we open those markets. Unlike what the NDP has been doing for years, and that is working against any trade objective with any country around the world, we are going to move forward aggressively, as we have done and will continue to do, and sign agreements with other trading nations to bring the rule of law, to bring human rights and the acknowledgement of what Canadians hold dear, but also to create jobs right here at home. We are going to continue to do that.
The $14 million to expand the industrial research and development internship program is very important for our future. Of course, so is the $110 million to the industrial research assistance program in support of manufacturers and exporters.
In terms of the environment, I want to talk about a lot of things. There is not enough time obviously for me today, but the environment is very important to me and I see some of the initiatives we have moved forward with as a government, especially in northern Alberta. We have moved forward with initiatives in co-operation and partnership with the Province of Alberta to have cleaner air monitoring services, to make sure the air that my constituents and my family breathe is cleaner at all times. It is the same for water. I applaud those two initiatives by the federal government. My constituents applaud the Prime Minister for those particular initiatives, because we want to make sure we have significant funding strategies in place to keep the health and welfare of Canadians as our predominant concern.
We have also had other initiatives, and I am going to mention some of the success stories: the ecoenergy for homes program; over $140 million toward creating a national urban park in Rouge Valley, Ontario. That park is one of the largest in North America as far as urban parks go. It is a great success story for our government as well, because we do not want to industrialize every part of the country; we do not even want to industrialize most of it. We want to make sure that in urban areas there are places for people to enjoy and have a good quality of life, as we do in rural Canada.
There is $71 million in funding upgrades to the Mayo B hydro facility in the Yukon. This is a transmission line that will increase clean energy and reduce greenhouse gases from energy production by 50%. It took a $71 million investment by the federal government with about an eight-year payback. Those are good business strategic investments by the government for a return on investment for taxpayers that is reasonable and very good.
We also invested heavily in green energy generation, carbon transmission infrastructure, clean energy research and regulatory activities to address climate change. These are only a few provisions.
I want to talk about the navigable waters changes and how important those are, but I see I do not have a lot of time for that. The changes we are making to the navigable waters will protect navigation. That is what it is for and that is important. I am a canoeist. I spend a lot of time outdoors, and I want to make sure this government protects my right and that of other Canadians and future generations to continue to be able to navigate.
Other pieces of legislation, such as the Marine Transportation Security Act, the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, should deal with the environment and with fish. Let navigation deal with the navigation and let those acts deal with what is important for them. If we streamline those things, we can make sure Canadians get the proper return on investment for their tax dollars and we eliminate the need for duplication and bureaucracy that does not accomplish anything. That is what it is about for our government, building jobs, having productivity and efficiency to ultimately give us all a better quality of life.
- MPconOct 25, 2012 10:05 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the member's speech very much and the concentration on productivity, the economy and on jobs of course.
However, could she comment somewhat about what the Liberal Party did in the 1990s in clawing back $25 billion from social transfers to the provinces that hampered our schools, our medical system, et cetera? Could she comment on whether that is this government's agenda, whether we will claw back $25 billion in social services to the provinces?
- MPconOct 23, 2012 11:00 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the time to thank the 30 members of Parliament who accompanied me on a two-day educational tour of Fort McMurray and the oil sands this summer. They were given the opportunity to see the economic engine of Canada at work.
I would also like to take the time to thank CAPP, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Syncrude Canada, Suncor Energy Inc. and the Fort McMurray regional airport, which together worked very closely with Health Partners International of Canada to raise enough money to send one million dollars' worth of Canadian medicine to the world's most needy, including countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
The oil sands industry is taking steps like this to invest in the most important capital project in the world: the health of its citizens. I thank the people of the oil sands and oil sands corporations for taking time to help heal the world.
- MPconOct 16, 2012 9:50 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the debate intently. I wonder if the minister could comment, in particular, about all the notice that the Liberal Party and the NDP had regarding the contents of the budget.
Of course, I am referring specifically to the Conservative policy and platforms that we put forward for the last 10 or 12 years that contained almost all, if not all, of the provisions contained within the budget.
Indeed, they have seen that. They could visit our website to see exactly what we stand for because, at least on this side of the House, when we put forward laws, we actually put that forward to our committee members, have them vote on it and then put forward policy.
I wonder if the minister could comment specifically on that. I am a member of the finance committee and I cannot imagine sitting for any more time in any committee than we did in the last budget, in particular, the time we spent listening to witnesses.
- MPconOct 04, 2012 9:10 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I was a bit shocked. I have been listening to the New Democrats talk about minor crimes or issues being minor in particular circumstances, such as anything less than six months as far as the punishment goes. Could the member clarify what “minor” means in her submissions?
My understanding, being a criminal lawyer for some period of time, is that we are talking about minor offences such as assault with a weapon, sexual assault, robbery, and break and entry. These are violent offences and Canadians tell me that they expect us to put people in jail for these offences. They do not expect those people to be allowed into Canada in the first place, and if they do commit these offences they expect that they would be immediately taken out of the country and not have the privilege of Canadian citizenship.
Is this what the New Democrats mean by “minor offences”: robbery, rape and sexual assault?
- MPconSep 21, 2012 8:55 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day indeed. This morning the NDP member for Hamilton Mountain attempted to explain why the NDP voted against helping parents when their child was murdered, missing or critically ill. I cannot imagine how any party could stand in this place and vote against such an important measure that would help families going through hard and tragic times.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources please comment on this issue?
- MPconSep 20, 2012 10:35 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I understand the member's concern but I would suggest that he do a bit of light reading. It is called the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, so the businesses in his area are represented by this group. It talks about whether Canada is suffering from Dutch disease and it speaks generally about the NDP's position and the leader's position. It says it very clearly. These are business people representing business people doing the job for him. I think he should do the job for himself.
I have a copy here and if he would like it, I would be happy to table it. It is very clear. It sets out what Canada's economy is doing and how great it is doing in every part of the country, how Quebec is benefiting from it, how Ontario is benefiting from it and how Atlantic Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador are benefiting from it.
Clearly, all of Canada is benefiting from the natural resource sector and I wish the member would take a copy of the report, read it and understand it.
- MPconSep 20, 2012 10:30 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, the member's question is very good because 25% of the Toronto Stock Exchange is made up of oil sands companies. The people who own those oil sands companies are teachers' pensions and pensions of seniors in many different sectors of the country. Those are the people who own the oil sands. They are doing very well by it.
I would like to answer the question in another way. I have been there a long time and those people who came from around Canada to work in Fort McMurray during the late 1970s and early 1980s are retiring now. Their children and grandchildren are staying in Fort McMurray and it is great news indeed. I have many friends who are 55 or 56 years old who are retiring with pensions of $3,500 or $4,000 a month after 20 years of service with some of the bigger plants such as Syncrude and Suncor. They have great pensions. Many of my friends now are travelling the world and coming back to Fort McMurray to visit their grandchildren.
Is that opportunity available in other parts of the country? Yes, it is, but clearly the oil sands has done very well for many people. Many middle-class lower income earners from around the country who were looking for a positive future came to the area 20 or 25 years ago, and they are coming to the area today. They are getting better pensions, a better return on investments for their stocks and a much better quality of life.
I say, come to Fort McMurray and work. It is a great place to start. It is a great place to have a family. It is a great place to live.
- MPconSep 20, 2012 10:25 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I assure the member that I know what our cabinet is doing. I know our parliamentary secretaries went to over 10 meetings this summer with individuals across the country to ensure that we get the message of Canadians, of provinces and of provincial leaders. That is why the Prime Minister and all of the cabinet meet regularly with premiers as is necessary. This is no surprise. We see these summits on TV. They are meeting constantly.
As a previous parliamentary secretary, I know that I was speaking to many cabinet ministers in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Alberta, from time to time Ontario and other places, even the mayor of Montreal and cabinet ministers from the previous Quebec government. I met with those people regularly. Many of them had my cellphone number and they would call me.
I am certain that it is no different for cabinet ministers in this particular case because the business of the country is not done in one day a year. It is done on a consistent basis, 365 days per year. This is a government that listens to Canadians and acts in the best interests of Canadians on a consistent basis.
- MPconSep 20, 2012 10:05 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the enthusiasm of my colleagues, including my colleagues across the way.
I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this issue. Right off the bat it seems interesting that we are here today, especially after what we have heard from provincial leaders and the Chamber of Commerce in relation to some of the remarks that the NDP leader made before the session closed for the summer.
I take issue with the NDP leader's non-stop bashing and talking down of the Canadian economy. As I and many Canadians know, the stock market and the confidence of consumers are based on the confidence of the leaders. That gentleman wants to lead the country. He is applying for the job of prime minister. I think that a person who is mature enough to recognize what he needs to do for the country would also be mature enough not to downgrade our economy and not pit one part of the country against another, or province against province. It is not helpful at all.
I would suggest that as a result of his negative comments our stock markets have been affected. I cannot see how they could not be affected. People invest as a result of confidence in their leaders and confidence in the economy. Our country is a world leader when it comes to economic confidence, but that did not appear in the NDP leader's comments.
The global challenges that we face are real. The world is in an economic crisis, which we hope we will see the end of very soon. It has an impact on Canada. On this side of the House for the last five years we have been saying that Canada is certainly not immune to the financial burden it places on the other economies, especially with regard to the United States and the amount of trade that we do with it, as well as Europe and the amount of trade that we want to do with it. However, the opposition parties, the NDP in particular, are opposing free trade agreements even though there is an obvious net benefit to Canada and Canadians. We are trying to grow our economy through trade because that is simply the best way to do it, especially given our natural resources, our competitive advantages in farming and agriculture, and manufacturing and resource materials. We have a tremendous opportunity to be a world leader for many years when it comes to economic drivers and Canada's economy.
The leader of the NDP should step back and first apologize for degrading our economy and trying to pit one part of the country against another, province against province, the west against the east and the east against the west. It has been tried before. He should be ashamed of himself for doing that.
The facts are very substantive in relation to our performance over the last five or six years. Canada is the economic leader in the G7. In fact, we have heard many comments from world leaders about how well Canada's economy is doing and how others want to emulate our economy. Even the largest economies in the world have suggested that they want to emulate some of the steps that we have taken in Canada.
I want to mention three or four important facts before I get into the substantive part of my speech.
Since July 2009 we have had 770,000 net new jobs created, 90% of which are full-time jobs and 75% of which are in the private sector. Any economist will tell us that those are good fundamentals coming into a world economic crisis. This speaks to the steps we have taken in cutting our debt and stimulating our economy. This speaks volumes in relation to our government's control of the economy and our understanding of the economy and what we have done in relation to that.
On that note, I have been here for over eight years and I do not understand the position taken by the NDP in the past. I hope that it changes in the future.
Mr. Speaker, you may not remember but the New Democratic Party actually voted against Canada's economic action plan. Mr. Speaker, I see the look of surprise on your face. There was $45 billion of economic stimulus injected into the economy by this government over a period of some years and the NDP voted against that. It included things such as waste water treatment centres across the country to clean our water, the clean energy fund and the green infrastructure fund. Billions of dollars went into the economy to create jobs, for such things as green energy, roads and bridges, a better quality of life for Canadians. The NDP voted against those initiatives.
If the NDP had its way right now, Canadians need to recognize that we would not be in the great economic position we are in. We would be in a much different position. There would be unemployment lines and lineups for food. Quite frankly, we are the leader in the world right now as far as having the best economy, the best economic record, and the best employment rates overall.
Third, both the IMF and OECD project that Canada will be among the strongest in growth of the G7 in the future. It is not just the past or present, but it is projected into the future by two independent world economic forums and organizations that Canada is going to be number one in the future as well.
The list goes on, but those are three obvious fundamentals to our economy. Any economist can point to those things and judge an economy based on that performance.
I want to talk about some of the references that have been made by world leaders. The largest economy in the world, Germany, has lauded Canada, and I quote Chancellor Merkel:
Canada’s path of great budgetary discipline and a very heavy emphasis on growth and overcoming the crisis, not living on borrowed money, can be an example for the way in which problems on the other side of the Atlantic can be addressed. This is also the right solution for Europe.
I appreciate that from the Chancellor, from an independent person who has nothing to gain by applauding Canada's position, our economic fundamentals and the steps we have taken. She has said clearly to the world that we are doing the right job and that other countries in Europe in particular should follow suit. I think that is a great thing to say about our Prime Minister and cabinet and what they have been doing.
As I mentioned earlier, I think we do have a problem in this place. That problem is the Leader of the Opposition and his trying to pit one part of this country against another.
I lived through the national energy program in northern Alberta and saw the devastation that caused, not just to the economy of Alberta or the west but to the economy of the entire nation. I think he clearly needs to step back and reassess what he is doing and what his position is on these particular matters. Not only does it hurt our economic fundamentals but it also speaks to the separatist agenda. I am not prepared to step forward in any way and position in a positive light what the Leader of the Opposition is doing for this country. It is just not healthy nor beneficial.
I want to refer to a report put out in June by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As most people in this place know, the Chamber of Commerce represents the business community of the country. The business community, through the chamber, wanted to talk about Canada and see whether it was suffering from Dutch disease. This is an article I read. However, this particular article says that the Leader of the Opposition, the NDP leader, is wrong about his assumptions of Canada's suffering from Dutch disease.
I also want to talk briefly about some of the benefits that the Canadian oil sands generate in economic benefits across the country. I will quote directly from page 7 of this report, which states:
TD Economics estimates increased exports of Canadian oil and investment in machinery and equipment and in infrastructure in the Canadian oil sands accounted for one-third of the economic growth in Canada in 2010 and 2011.
That is right, 33% of the economic growth.
I represent that area. Right now, I think that 99% of the oil sands are in my riding, the parts that are being extracted, which is one-third of the economic growth in 2010-11, which is no small effect to the Canadian economy.
The report goes on to say:
High levels of investment in the resource sector have led to strong demand for parts, machinery and equipment, fabricated metal and other durable goods, as well as for services—professional, technical and in finance and transportation, for example. Businesses across the country have benefitted from this increased demand, not just those in Western Canada. For example, one out of 12 oil sands manufacturers and suppliers are from the Kitchener-Waterloo region...
That is one out of twelve; one out of twelve are from Kitchener-Waterloo. The report goes on:
According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI), between 2010 and 2035, new oil sands projects are expected to contribute $63 billion to Ontario’s GDP.
That is speaking of the future and our economic performance in the future, and that is not Canada's GDP; that is Ontario's GDP. Clearly, it is a great future to look forward to.
Not only do we make sure we have economic performance and job growth in this country but we also make sure we take care of the environment, have environmental integrity and put that obligation on the resource sector in particular and on the businesses that are creating these issues.
However, the report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce goes on to say:
Employment...as a result of new oil sands investments is projected to grow from 75,000 jobs in 2010 to 905,000 jobs in 2035.
I know that most scientists in northern Alberta and most companies are pessimistic. I can tell members that because I see what they do. They also under-project their figures, for the most part.
It is amazing that there will be 905,000 jobs in 2035. We are going to have a tremendous growth in the oil sands sector.
Indeed, I want to reiterate a couple of other things the report says.
The report quotes Pierre Duguay, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada:
“From a macroeconomic point of view, the reallocation of resources is a sign of health...”
This is talking about Dutch disease, in particular, and is found on page 8 of the report:
“...is a sign of health, not disease — it is a sign of a vibrant, dynamic economy adjusting to significant shifts in demand by putting resources to their most profitable use.”
Mr. Duguay made that statement to the Canadian Association for Business Economics on August 28, 2006.
The report goes on to state:
As for the Netherlands, where the term “Dutch disease” was originally applied, “very little systematic and long-term net adverse consequences of natural gas development on the manufacturing sector were found.”
So, even his suggestion that the Dutch disease is working against the economy and the manufacturing sector in the Netherlands is a bogus claim. Clearly, our economy is doing extremely well.
I think what I would like to do, as well, is talk about some of the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition and about what our premiers have said in relation to them, because as I said, there have been attacks on western Canada by the Leader of the Opposition. He is trying to pit one part of the country against another. It has worked before for some previous leaders, but I think Canadians are sick and tired of that kind of situation and that kind of proposition, because we understand that it is one Canada and that we all speak with the same voice for the benefit of Canada.
Let us listen to what British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said of the Dutch disease and the campaign by the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the New Democratic Party, against the natural resource sector. She said:
I really thought that this type of thinking was discredited and it had been discredited for a long time. It's so backwards...
She went on to say, “I think that's just goofy”.
What I hear him saying is, “you know Western Canada, we don't want you to make that big contribution anymore...”. I'm sorry, that is not what this country was built on.
The Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, declared that the NDP leader's “facts are wrong and what he's doing is very divisive for the country”.
Even my own premier, Alison Redford, who of course has to protect the interests of the province, is a premier who is new and understands the fundamentals of economics and certainly what this country is built on and how we are much better together, stronger than when we are separated. She declared, referring to the comments by the leader of the New Democratic Party:
To have this idea that you want to be a national leader, and then target a particular province or a particular resource that is fundamental to the economic development not only of Alberta, but Canada, is ridiculous, and I'm terribly disappointed.... It's not appropriate, and it's not based on a real understanding of either Alberta's role in Canada, or Canada's role in the world.
I myself can clearly see that this is an opportunity to try to divide to be better for himself. I think it is very negative for the country and it certainly does not befit a person who wants to lead the country and be the prime minister of all peoples of Canada. I think it is, quite frankly, an embarrassment and not a position that a national leader should take.
As members know, I do represent the oil sands. I have about 5,000 Quebeckers, for instance, in my riding and probably about 35,000 people from Newfoundland and Labrador in my riding. I have many people from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. I talk to these people on the street, because I have lived in Fort McMurray for 45 to 46 years now. Originally when he got elected a year ago, people laughed because they thought some of the positions he took were a bit of a joke, saying that it was Dutch disease and trying to pit one part of the country against the other.
I explained to them that he is actually a leader who is sworn into the Privy Council. He is a leader who is actually brought in on the secrets of the country, able to make decisions on them and advise the Queen and the Prime Minister. He is an individual who leads a large caucus in this area. A big part of Quebec is obviously represented by that leader, and yet he wants to pit one part of the country against the other. Not only is it immature, quite frankly, but he and his party should seriously look at it as their strategy for the future, whether they want to go down that road, because the road has certainly been destroyed and I do not think any Canadians want to do that.
With the natural gas situation in British Columbia, oil and mining on the Prairies, the Ring of Fire in Ontario, Plan Nord in Quebec, the hydro power in Atlantic Canada and mining in Canada's north, Canada's resource sector presents greater potential to create even more jobs and more economic growth from today and into tomorrow, not just in Alberta and British Columbia but all across this great country of ours, whether it be northern Quebec, Ontario or, indeed, the Northwest Territories. We have a great opportunity to identify and make the world a better place.
Mr. Speaker, you were at the dinner in northern Alberta, in my riding of Fort McMurray—Athabasca, where almost $1 million was raised to send to Africa. It was very touching to see the oil sands companies and local businesses of all stripes come to the table and donate significant money for one dinner on one night and be able to send $1 million to Africa. I say that only because in the finance committee last year, I think it was October, I heard evidence from three or four different groups that the oil sands area I represent is the most generous area in Canada per capita. It donates more money per capita than anywhere else in Canada through the United Way and many other great groups. It was clear from listening to the witnesses that they appreciate what the people in Fort McMurray are doing. They do have great jobs and opportunities.
When I moved to Fort McMurray, there were 1,700 people. Today, there are more than 100,000 people. Those people are not from Alberta. The majority of them are from areas in Canada that are disadvantaged as far as jobs go. They are bringing their families to Fort McMurray and are staying. They have grandchildren there. They are building a much better part of the province. I very much enjoy them. They are bringing cultures from all over Canada, whether they be from the north or Newfoundland. I would suggest that my community has more people from Newfoundland and Labrador than anywhere else in the world. I spoke to a former premier from Newfoundland and Labrador yesterday, who said when he met me that Fort McMurray is the second largest town in Newfoundland. It is not actually in Newfoundland, but driving down the streets of Fort McMurray, people would think it is.
I am saying this because those people are looking for a new future. They see the gold rush. They see what can be brought in. The people going to Fort McMurray are going there for a better quality of life, and they send money home. I was told by one individual at one of the plant sites that the oil sands industry is the number one economic generator in Cape Breton, for instance, suggesting that somewhere around $6 million a week goes to Cape Breton from Fort McMurray oil sands workers who travel back and forth between the communities.
When I say back and forth, I want to emphasize that what is happening in northern Alberta is going to be happening across northern Quebec, northern Ontario, British Columbia and, of course, Newfoundland and Labrador. Canadians are going from one part of this country to the other to find jobs, to find a better quality of life and to find what their ancestors came to Canada for, which was to have a better quality of life. They want to make sure our government is concentrating on the economy and what is best for them, and that is exactly what we are doing.
I would ask the NDP leader to step up, stand up and apologize to the people of the west, Canada and Quebec for trying to pit one part of this country against the other. It is shameful.
- MPconJun 20, 2012 12:35 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting four petitions today with hundreds of signatures from northern Alberta, from communities such as Lac La Biche, High Prairie, Fort McMurray, Slave Lake and Boyle. The petitioners ask for Parliament to restrict abortion to the greatest extent possible.
- MPconJun 19, 2012 1:50 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Madam Speaker, that was so funny I forgot to laugh.
I represent more union members and workers per capita than anybody else in this place. I promise and assure the member that I am not going to stand against workers.
I can say that this member and his caucus are standing against machinery manufacturing jobs. In fact, we heard from the president of the Canadian association that it is selling more machines, and in the case of this one particular gentleman who builds forklifts, 40% of his forklifts are going to the oil sands.
We know that the NDP wants to shut down the oil sands. We know that the NDP leader wrote a preface to a book that said within 30 years he was going to make sure that the oil sands were shut down. What about those jobs? Is the member standing up for those jobs? I would say no.
We have clearly heard that Quebec, with this particular free trade agreement, would receive real benefits for pork and industrial and construction machinery. We know that they will be able to export industrial machinery from Quebec to Panama. Why would the member want to close down those export markets for Quebec manufacturers? I do not understand that.
- MPconJun 19, 2012 1:35 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to rise today to speak in relation to the Canada-Panama free trade agreement.
I would also like to mention that I did rise out of my chair slowly, as may have been seen on camera, because I ran 10 kilometres on Sunday to support a great charity in Barrie for the member of Parliament for Barrie, who did a great job and sold out. I would like to express my thanks to him and the town of Barrie.
I do want to talk about free trade and the belief I have in free trade around the world and the ability for Canada to open up its markets, because it is very important of course to the people I represent, to the businesses, the financial sectors, the farmers and agriculture producers.
I find it surprising that the NDP still takes the position of anti-free trade. We have seen bluntly what protectionism does to countries. In particular, we have seen iron curtains put up and brought down. They simply do not work. To be protectionist simply, in my mind, creates an atmosphere that brings about the surety that the NDP is not fit to govern because one cannot live in a house that is closed today. Certainly, if we close the borders of our country, we will all suffer the consequences for many years.
Therefore, I do want to put my support in this place firmly in the position behind free trade agreements. Even listening to the arguments, we hear they are quite hollow. Free trade will help the workers of Panama under the conditions that we provide them jobs and we provide a better quality of life as a result of their ability to trade with us.
This agreement actually would bring about additional market access for our agricultural and agrifood producers and exporters. That is very important to my constituents in northern Alberta, because I have many cattle producers, and there are many people who are in the agricultural and agrifood business in all parts of this country. Bluntly, Canada has a competitive advantage in the agribusiness. We can use that competitive advantage to ensure we continue to have the great quality of life that we do have in Canada.
As Canada's agricultural and agrifood sector becomes more modern, innovative and competitive, the sector is becoming a more significant part of Canada's economy. In fact, many people do not realize this but in 2010, the agriculture and agrifood industry directly accounted for one in eight jobs in Canada. This actually translated to employment for more than 2 million people. That is a lot of people who are employed through this sector.
In the same year, it accounted for about 8% of the GDP of the country. I would like to make mention that 8% of GDP is about the same as what my constituency in northern Alberta, through production of the oil sands, brings into this country, another 8%. Therefore, it is equivalent to about the same as the agricultural and agrifood business in the country as to the gross domestic product it produces for the country. Obviously, both are very important for Canada and for the continued great quality of life we enjoy.
Increasingly, over the last 15 years the agricultural and agrifood sector has become internationally focused. In 2011, exports valued at more than $41 billion were accounted for in this sector from Canada. This actually ranks Canada as the fifth largest exporter of agriculture and agrifood products in the world, which is a very important place to be. I am hoping with these new free trade agreements we can actually see that rise to first, if not to fourth or third, in the near future.
It is no surprise then, as a result of the great amount of the financial sector and the amount of jobs that are produced by the agricultural and agrifood sector, that our Conservative government continues to work tirelessly on ways to improve access to international markets. I know that my friend, the Minister of International Trade, is doing a great job there and I appreciate his doing that. I barely see him in the House anymore because he is always out somewhere in the world and is extremely busy and working hard for Canadians abroad. I especially appreciate the opportunity he has taken out of his own life to support Canada and Canada's trade market in the agricultural food and agrifood business.
We are achieving this great significant milestone through our commitment to pursue bilateral and regional trade agreements. These trade agreements are essential for continued prosperity for Canadians. I think most people know that.
During question period, the parliamentary secretary actually confirmed how many trade deals we have initiated as a Conservative government. I think it is probably more by three times than was done in the previous 13 years by the previous Liberal government, so we have seen a real focus on that by our government. I think it goes a long way to say how well we are doing as a country.
Certainly, we know the OECD has identified us as being a very strong economy, with the best banking sector and the best financial sector in the world. That is no surprise when we see agreements like the Canada-Panama free trade agreement.
The Conservative government has taken a very firm position on this because we know that to succeed in a global economy, we have to have a strong export market.
We want to ensure that our Canadian agriculture and agrifood producers and exporters remain competitive with other preferential suppliers to Panama, because we are not competing against ourselves; we are competing against other countries. We need to make sure that we have a competitive advantage. We do have a competitive advantage. We have large tracts of land. We have a very good, experienced workforce in the agriculture-agrifood sector. We have the ability to innovate and create, and we have the best agricultural sector in the world, bar none.
We certainly can use these competitive advantages to become that number one exporter. For example, one of the things that has happened in Canada's exports is, believe it or not, frozen french fries. Now, frozen french fries may not seem like a lot to many people. I know some of our members have particular fetishes toward frozen french fries, as we can hear in the background. However, when we get well down into it, this industry would immediately benefit from this because there would be an elimination of the 20% tariffs on this product.
In 2011, Canada exported almost $12 million worth of frozen french fries to Panama. This is a $1 million increase over 2010 exports, at a time when things are supposed to be tough in the world. Now, that is a lot of potatoes. That is a lot of potato farmers who we support through these trade deals and through these free trade agreements. I think that is often forgotten by the NDP, that it is actually the farmers we are helping support, the farmers of P.E.I. or wherever they are growing potatoes across this great country, and the ability for those people who package those frozen french fries to be able to keep their jobs, as well, on the assembly line; so it is the manufacturers and the farmers.
Our pulse exporters would also benefit from an immediate tariff elimination with the implementation of this free trade agreement, because tariffs of up to 15% would be eliminated on its implementation. Fifteen per cent of nothing. I do not mean that 15% is nothing. I mean that 15% does nothing for anybody. Those tariffs, those barriers to trade, are not helping Canadian workers and are not helping Panamanian workers. They are simply doing nothing. That is why it would be so good to see.
In 2011, Canada exported more than $5 million worth of lentils to Panama. Now, that is a lot of lentils, as well. This is almost double the amount of our trade on this product in 2006.
There is a growing market for dried peas in Panama, from Canada. In 2011, Canada exported more than $1 million worth of dried peas. People forget about that, that it is the farmers, that it is the packers, that it is the manufacturing process, all the way from the farmer to the plate, that takes place in Canada. We want to see more manufacturing, more assembling of product, but we also want to see the farmers being able to grow their product and sell it overseas because that is what they are doing. That is what they have a competitive advantage on.
Canadian malt exporters would also benefit from the immediate elimination of Panamanian tariffs of up to 10%. Again, that is 10% for nothing, just a barrier to trade that does not accomplish anything, that does not give anybody a real job. That is what we are doing in this government: making sure that people have real jobs, that farmers have real jobs and that they have some ability to sell their products overseas.
In 2011, Canada exported more than $8 million worth of malt products to Panama. That is a significant amount of malt. This is a significant increase, as well, from the $3 million worth of malt exports in 2010.
So, we can see that the elimination of these tariffs in this free trade agreement would greatly enhance our ability to export products, agricultural products and agrifood products, to Panamanian society.
In fact, there would be some real benefits to different parts of the country, and I want to talk about that a bit.
In Quebec, for instance, key exports such as pork, industrial and construction machinery, pharmaceuticals and aerospace products would receive a real benefit. In fact, that is where this particular province and the farmers from this province would receive a real benefit. They would also receive a benefit for investment services for the engineering, construction and transportation sectors. That is just in Quebec,
I know I do not have a lot of time left, but Ontario and the western provinces would also receive real benefits.
The real benefits are that we eliminate barriers and trade deals that do not help our producers or our country. We enhance free trade, and it works.
- MPconJun 18, 2012 5:45 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, that is a bit outside of the topic, but I assure the member that I am proud to say there have been some tremendous changes.
I talked to an aboriginal chief from northern Alberta two days ago about some of the changes that have taken place in northern Alberta, including more air and water monitoring and initiatives by the federal government in co-operation with the provincial government.
One thing that I am proud of is this. In 1967 when I moved to Fort McMurray it had what was called tailings pond number one. Many people over the last 35 to 40 years said that could not be cleaned up. Well it is cleaned up today. Suncor Energy has done a tremendous job in environmental performance. It has done a tremendous job with the community. In fact, I would suggest the oil sands companies that are currently in Alberta and northern Alberta spend more money per capita for environmental integrity than anywhere else on the planet. That is the truth and I stick with that.
As far as what is happening in the oil sands regarding employment insurance, though, we clearly need more workers. We need more people to take those great jobs With the highest household income in the country of $185,000, I am proud to say that Canada's economy is created in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
- MPconJun 18, 2012 5:40 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, did I really listen to them? That is a bit insulting.
I am trained to listen and to speak, but clearly I am not trained to speak as the NDP member opposite is. I heard those members speak for years about infrastructure investments and when they had the opportunity to vote for them, they voted against them. They voted against the bridges in Quebec and the bridges and roads across the country. They voted against water and sewer infrastructure. I assure the member that I listened to the committee members and to the witnesses who came forward, and not just the witnesses whom this member heard from. We heard from hundreds, including witnesses from aboriginal bands and environmental consultations.
I have been here for eight years now. It is not a very long time, but I have been on the environment committee. I have been the parliamentary secretary for infrastructure and transportation when that member's party voted against all those infrastructure investments. I have heard clearly from many witnesses over the years and I assure that member that all the proposed changes in Bill C-38 would be excellent for the country, today and tomorrow.
- MPconJun 18, 2012 5:35 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
The hon. member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca.
- MPconJun 18, 2012 5:30 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand today. I have not spoken as much as I used to. I remember a time, a couple of years ago, and I can always count on my own colleagues to applaud that. However, I do remember just over a year ago that we had an opportunity to speak up for constituents across the country. I heard the NDP member across the way talk about standing up for infrastructure. I do not remember any NDP members standing up for infrastructure when we brought in Canada's economic action plan.
In fact, I remember the exact opposite. Opposition members sat for that and did not vote. They did not vote for the bridges, the tunnels, all the road work that we brought in for the country. They did not vote for the jobs, the infrastructure investment and multiplexes and other measures we voted for at that time. Although they talked a lot about the need for infrastructure, when it came time to vote for it, they even voted against the water and waste water projects across the country.
I know in my constituency in northern Alberta that waste water and water projects are very necessary because of the expanding growth, but also because some of these projects were put in 30 or 40 years ago and are wasting away, which, as is the case with all infrastructure, actually depletes its purpose.
I heard the member say that she and the NDP spoke up for infrastructure, but I could not help to bring forward the fact that when it came time for the infrastructure investment to combat the economic decline in our great country, as well as that which the rest of the world had seen, and still sees, it took this Conservative government to stand up for Canadians and those infrastructure investments. I will never apologize for that because they were some of the best initiatives we could have taken for our country. It also was the best action taken in probably a 50-year period by any government.
Being from western Canada and northern Alberta, I have seen some things happen with which I am not very happy. One is that we have run out of people to take the jobs in western Canada, jobs that have been available for many years. I am proud to be from the constituency of Fort McMurray—Athabasca, which I consider to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
During the period of time I have been there, I have been a business owner, a lawyer and owned and operated some 10 different family businesses for some 45 years. For the last 20 years, I have been active in my own businesses there. I can assure members that we have had real problems employing Canadians. We have had to resort to outside agencies so to speak. We have had to resort to temporary foreign workers. In some parts of the country that is a dirty word, but in my area it is a necessary word. Without temporary foreign workers and the programs of the federal government in co-operation with the provinces that have been brought into play, we would have nobody manning any of restaurants or hotels.
In fact, I can tell stories of hotels having to close down in my constituency and even further abreast than that in Alberta, and now in Saskatchewan. Some hotels have to close entire floors because they do not have staff to clean rooms. It sounds like a trivial matter until one sees that those people who work in those jobs, like in my area of northern Alberta and Fort McMurray, work 12 to 14 hour days, 20 or 25 days straight. That might sound absolutely atrocious, and I believe it is because the quality of life of my constituencies is affected, but the truth is our economy is such that these people not only work because they need to but also because they come from many different places in Canada.
Economic action plan 2012 focuses somewhat on employment issues. I am proud to say that I think the government has addressed these issues very well.
These employment insurance initiatives will encourage people to take long-term employment, to come from other parts of Canada and to be employed not only in northern Alberta hopefully, but also in Newfoundland. I do not know if members are aware, but I hear clearly from my constituents, and I have about 30,000 to 35,000 constituents who are from Newfoundland, that they and many of their relatives think the growth in unemployment is such in Newfoundland that they will return there.
I see from my notes that I also missed a very important part, but I was passionate about the issue of infrastructure and the vote that this Conservative government took on it. I forgot to mention that I would be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West. I apologize for forgetting that. However, I would like to continue on with some of the employment insurance initiatives that this budget would put in place.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that you may have a problem with me splitting my time, but clearly as many—
- MPconJun 06, 2012 6:55 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The House will have noticed that I voted twice on the last motion. I apologize for my bipolar voting condition. I would like to have myself recorded as voting against this particular motion.
- MPconJun 06, 2012 12:05 pm | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect their elected representatives to focus on the economy and help create jobs. That is exactly what our Conservative government has been doing since 2006, especially through the economic action plan.
While we focus on the economy, the NDP is focused on playing procedural partisan games, a record of partisan games that has included voting against the economic action plan in 2009 and opposing support for the Canadian economy during the greatest depression we have seen since the Great Depression.
Would the Minister of State for Finance please inform the House of the NDP's latest attempt to put its self-interest over the Canadian economy and why the NDP should be totally ashamed of itself?
- MPconJun 01, 2012 8:10 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, the NDP's energy and natural resources critic is at it again. We all know he has led the NDP charge on nearly every trade treaty deal that has come before the House during his time here. He opposes trade deals with countries on several continents and even supported the U.S. in its buy American policy, which unfairly discriminates against Canadian exports. He should be ashamed of himself.
This weekend, he is taking it a step further. Attacking the natural resources sector, he is attending a Council of Canadians conference that actually opposes the mining industry and Canadian companies around the world. The member for Burnaby—New Westminster is spending his weekend attacking trade and our resource sector.
We know the NDP members think that natural resources are a disease, but such positions will cost Canadian families jobs and prosperity at a time when they are needed most. He and his anti-oil-sands party and leader should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.
- MPconMay 31, 2012 11:55 am | Alberta, Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Mr. Speaker, the NDP has been very clear that it wants to stop all oil sands development and the hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs that it creates. NDP leaders, including the former NDP environment critic, have called for a moratorium on oil sands development. Other NDP leaders have just called for a massive carbon tax and pricing scheme that would destroy oil sands development and raise prices dramatically for consumers. It is clear these are reckless schemes that would destroy Canada's economy.
With the leader of the NDP finally visiting my beautiful hometown of Fort McMurray, could the Minister of Natural Resources update the House on the latest developments of this situation?
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