- MPndpMay 01, 2013 11:00 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of my New Democratic Party colleagues, and as an avid basketball player and fan in support of Brittney Griner and Jason Collins.
Collins, a veteran NBA player, and Griner, the first NCAA player to score more than 2,000 points and block 500 shots and the number one pick in the Women's National Basketball Association draft, have courageously come out.
With David Testo of Montreal Impact, Griner and Collins are the first athletes in any major American sport to come out. This is a huge step forward for professional sports.
Athletes should be judged on their talent, heart and work ethic, not on their sexual orientation. We commend the good work of You Can Play, a project dedicated to equality and respect for all athletes without regard to sexual orientation.
The courage of Collins and Griner is a light for every gay and lesbian living in silence and working to overcome fear, and should be a message for all of us to proudly stand up for respect and join the universal fight for equality, justice and human rights.
- MPndpApr 29, 2013 11:25 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, one thing about the Minister of Natural Resources, he sure is consistent. He will always say things that are embarrassing to Canadians. After making up bogus science, claiming that a 2° rise in global temperatures somehow is not a real problem, he has now attacked a respected former NASA scientist. Now, this is a real rocket scientist, which the minister clearly is not.
When is the minister going to start listening to the science and to the experts who spent their lives fighting this major threat? When is he going to stop taking his orders from oil industry lobbyists?
- MPndpApr 25, 2013 11:30 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, newspapers around the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian, refer to the Minister of Natural Resources as Canada's oil minister.
That is understandable, since he denies the threat of climate change. All that matters to him is selling oil at any cost. He is even willing to sell control of our natural resources to the Chinese government.
Canadians deserve better than successive governments that deny that climate change exists.
When are the Conservatives going to stop denying that climate change exists and put in place real sustainable development policies?
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, one fact is clear. We stand up for science and the Conservatives vote against science every time.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was so worried about this pipeline that it said the state department study was insufficient. It got an F. This is the same study that the minister was praising. The Conservatives' utter failure to address climate impacts is causing major problems in the U.S.
Natural resources are important for our economy. When will the minister recognize that denying the dangers of climate change is actually very bad for business and is bad for Canada?
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 11:50 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, it is reasonable, actually, that this Parliament stand with the nation's firefighters and with their families.
Firefighters and their families deserve better. The NDP proposed a compensation fund for families of firefighters who die on the job, and it was passed by Parliament. Parliament also passed the idea of giving them priority access to vaccines and was in favour of the proposed amendments to the National Building Code.
The minister has yet to do anything. Why such disrespect for Canada's firefighters, who risk their lives for us every single day?
- MPndpApr 18, 2013 11:15 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, once again there is trouble in the Conservative caucus. This time, the member for Edmonton—St. Albert is blowing the whistle on the PMO.
During an interview with Global News, the member offered Canadians something they rarely see from Conservatives: the truth. When asked if he would be repeating the carbon farce lies of Conservatives in the House of Commons, he responded, "I will absolutely guarantee you that I won't be talking about the carbon tax", because he does not like these untrue statements.
The member went on to give a first-hand account of the tyranny rained down on backbenchers from the "kids that work over in Langevin Block". The member even recalled pressure put on him by PMO staffers to censor his blog on his MP website.
Fortunately, Canadians will have a clear choice in 2015. New Democrats will offer honesty, openness and strong MPs who truly stand for their constituents.
- MPndpApr 18, 2013 9:15 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, one of the characteristics of what is such a badly botched series of policy decisions by the government is that legal lawsuits ensue. The agreements that are put forward are badly negotiated and often have huge ramifications. There is no consultation with the public. The government even refuses, with an agreement with this kind of immense ramifications for the whole country and for communities, to bring it to committee.
Does the member fear that we will be looking at even more potential lawsuits over the complete lack of consultation by the government yet again? Also, what are the ramifications for lawsuits if we put in these investor state conditions that allow for secret arbitration, where lawyers basically decide how much money the taxpayers cough up?
- MPndpApr 18, 2013 9:00 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to have a short answer.
That is a very good question from my colleague. We have been saying all along that we need to modernize the trade template and that we need a fair trade template. That is what the NDP has been promoting.
We need much more effective negotiations. Conservatives are awful negotiators, the worst negotiators ever, and even worse than the Liberals, which is saying a lot.
Most importantly, in terms of stimulating our export sales, particularly value-added exports, I have talked to Canadian trade commissioners across the world who do not even have the money to buy a cup of coffee for a potential client of Canadian goods and services. That is how this so-called “pro-trade” government has starved the resources that allow for that actual export breakthrough on value-added products.
Conservatives are awful at trade. Case closed. That is our conclusion.
- MPndpApr 18, 2013 8:45 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, in starting I would like to say that I was very disappointed, having been in this House now for nine years, to see the Liberal Party yet again siding with the Conservatives.
I have been in Parliament nine years, and hundreds of times, when push comes to shove, when Canadians' interests are at stake, the so-called new Liberal Party seems to be exactly like the old Liberal Party, always siding with the Conservatives, always siding with the Prime Minister.
I would just like to share my disappointment, because I know that this is an important debate. The member for Vancouver Kingsway, in his very eloquent speech, spoke of thousands of emails flooding in from across this country on this important debate. We have received tens of thousands of emails, letters, cards, and phone calls from Canadians who are very concerned about the Canada-China FIPA and its implications for Canada.
I would like to say at the outset that on this side of the House we are resolute fair traders. The NDP has always stood for fair trade, that means a rules-based system that is balanced and well-negotiated and serves both parties.
In the NDP caucus of 100 strong members, we have many members of Parliament who have actually worked as negotiators in the past. They have represented the interests of their side in negotiations. What we have seen before in the Liberal government and most certainly now under the Conservative government is governments that seem incapable of negotiating strongly for Canada's interests.
I would just like to say on behalf of the NDP caucus that when we come to power in 2015, Canada's interests will finally be effectively protected. Canadians can know for sure that we will have tough Canadian negotiators who will always stand for Canada first and will always be capable of negotiating fair trade agreements.
I just want to mention in starting off that I will be sharing my time with the very eloquent member for Nanaimo—Cowichan who has just reminded me of that point. I look forward to her speech. She will be speaking particularly to the consultation that was not done on the Canada-China FIPA, and will also be referencing the lawsuits that are starting to emerge because of this badly botched negotiation.
Let us start with the Conservative approach to trade. Let us start with the record. The member for Vancouver Kingsway very eloquently set it out. We have the worst trade deficit in our nation's history, and this is after seven years of Conservative government. So badly have they botched negotiations, so badly have they been in terms of defending Canada's interests, that the Conservatives have taken Canada into the worst trade deficit in our history.
This is something the Conservatives were trying to explain, badly, quite ineptly, just a few minutes ago, that somehow that was due to international conditions, that somehow it was somebody else's fault. It is the worst government in Canadian history for trade deficits, but it is “somebody else's fault”. We see this systematically. The Conservatives are always trying to point the finger at somebody else. The member for Vancouver Kingsway replied that out of 18 countries, in terms of the trade deficit, in terms of our chief industrial partners worldwide, Canada is 18th out of 18 among those countries. It is the worst trade deficit because of Conservative incompetence.
We have seen this firsthand, time after time since the Conservatives came to power. We have seen half a million manufacturing and value-added jobs evaporate because of Conservative incompetence. We have the worst trade deficit in our history.
If we look at the inability of the Conservatives to negotiate even one fair trade agreement, then every time we bring fair trade proposals forward, Conservatives and even the Liberals always vote against them. They have never supported a fair trade agreement or anything that has been brought forward that even smells of fair trade on the floor of the House of Commons, certainly since I have been here.
When we look at the components of what the Conservatives have actually negotiated, we see how badly they have defended Canada's interests.
I will give one example, because it strikes home in my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster. It shows the impacts of these badly botched agreements the Conservatives throw onto the floor of the House of Commons and then try to cover up. Of course, there is never any debate because they are so reprehensible in how badly they negotiate these agreements that they never want them to be examined in committee. They never want them debated on the floor of the House of Commons because they are all so bad.
I will give one example: the softwood lumber agreement. In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, in the weeks following the ramming through of that agreement on the floor of the House of Commons, Conservatives and Liberals concocted together, and another party that used to exist and that is not so present today, the Bloc Québécois, conspired, on behalf of Canadians, to push it through. In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, 2,000 families lost their breadwinner. Within a matter of weeks, we saw three softwood plants go down, one, two, three: Canfor, Interfor, Western Forest Products. Those workers were sold out by Conservatives and their partner, the Liberal Party, resulting in those workers losing their jobs and those families losing a breadwinner.
We said at the time, on the floor of the House of Commons, that there would be dire consequences if we rammed this through. Most of the Conservatives did not even bother to read the agreement. They just voted blindly because the Prime Minister told them to. Many of the 60,000 jobs that were lost were lost in Conservative ridings. The Conservatives said, “We don't care about those workers. We don't care about those jobs. We don't care about those businesses.”
Actions have consequences. That is why the member for Vancouver Kingsway is bringing forward the motion today. Having read the Canada-China FIPA and understanding the consequences, we are saying we need to take a halt on this, not ram it through, not ratify it, because the consequences to Canadian communities and the consequences to Canadians would be serious.
We have a government that seems intent on a one-dimensional economy. It wants to ship raw logs, raw minerals, raw bitumen out of this country. That is all it wants to do. It seems to think that there would be some economic benefit to doing that. I think the figures prove the contrary. Half a million manufacturing and value-added jobs were lost. We have the largest trade deficit in our nation's history. We have the worst trade economic performance in our nation's history. Those facts basically speak for themselves. What, then, would happen if we compounded that by ratifying a Canada-China FIPA?
Here is the situation. It was badly botched. The member for Vancouver Kingsway was very eloquent about that, going over step by step, section by section, how badly botched the negotiations were.
It would permanently keep in place all of the discriminatory measures taken by the Chinese state government, but it would open up Canada and basically ensure that the measures that we might normally take to protect our environment, to ensure that there is economic development, even value-added economic development, could be contested and that Chinese state companies that then choose to move forward and seek compensation could seek compensation from Canadian taxpayers.
Who would negotiate an agreement that would ensure that discriminatory measures could be taken by one party but not by another? And who would then say, “We're going to put this into place and ratify it for three decades”?
We have our answer. It does not seem logical. It does not seem consistent with what the Conservative Party ran on. Yet it is the current Conservative government that wants to put into place this FIPA and ensure, for all time, that those discriminatory measures could be taken by the Chinese state government but that Canadian measures that we put in place to protect our environment, our health and safety, our economy, could not be taken.
On this side of the House, we stand with the Canadians who are writing to us throughout this debate, the tens of thousands of Canadians who have expressed valid concerns about how badly this negotiation was botched.
The New Democratic Party caucus stands with Canadians on this issue. That is why we encourage the debate. We invite members who have actually read the agreement to vote with us to send a clear direction to the government that the agreement should not be ratified because it is not in Canada's interests.
- MPndpApr 17, 2013 11:40 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the minister is mired and he expects Canadians to figure it out on their own, when he could not understand the forms even with an entire department helping him. On top of that, the minister has not retracted his comments denying climate change. He said, “I think that people aren't as worried as they were before about global warming of two degrees...scientists have recently told us that our fears (on climate change) are exaggerated.” Unbelievable.
Is it appropriate for the Minister of Natural Resources of a G8 country to be a climate-change denier?
- MPndpApr 15, 2013 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
With respect to domestic production, consumption, export, and import of oil: (a) has the government assessed the economic impact of increasing Canada's refining capacity on (i) the domestic added value, (ii) employment, (iii) international trade, (iv) internal trade, (v) consumer retail prices of gasoline and diesel fuel; (b) if yes, (i) what are the areas surveyed, (ii) which conclusion did they come to on this matter, (iii) what data was used to support this conclusion; (c) what external research, consultations, or reports were referenced to support these conclusions; (d) what internal research, consultations, or reports were referenced to support these conclusions; and (e) has the government conducted, or is it conducting specific studies, on the impact of a potential West-East pipeline on (i) job creation, (ii) domestic value-added, (iii) balance of trade, (iv) the number of jobs created in Canada, (v) what the effect of a rise of oil crude prices resulting from a West-East pipeline would be on the prices of retail gas paid by consumers in Western Canada, consumers in Central Canada and consumers in Eastern Canada?
- MPndpApr 15, 2013 11:25 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources still has doubts about the impact of climate change. He thinks that people are not worried about the earth becoming two degrees warmer. On the contrary, people are extremely concerned to see glaciers melting, polar bears disappearing and our oceans being drained of their resources.
By denying the existence of climate change, the Conservatives have once again embarrassed us on the international stage.
Will the minister finally recognize that climate change is real and has been proven by science or not?
- MPndpMar 27, 2013 12:50 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today from dozens of residents of the Ottawa area. These Canadians are very concerned about the excessive fees and gouging that is taking place when they are transferring money abroad. Many new Canadians live on low incomes, and they are being gouged up to 25% of the amount they are sending to loved ones and family members who live overseas. On their behalf, I would like to table this petition.
They say it falls upon the government to bring in legislation that would limit the fees on remittances to 5% of funds, instead of the 25% and sometimes more that currently exists.
I would like to thank the good volunteers of ACORN Canada who have been raising this issue for low-income Canadians.
- MPndpMar 22, 2013 9:35 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Kings—Hants, who I have worked with on the finance committee, for his interesting speech.
I would like to hear his thoughts on the incredible financial irresponsibility of the government, playing shell games with money that really belongs to the taxpayers, shifting money around to reduce the amount available for infrastructure, playing games around skills training. We have seen the attacks on the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The government is really the worst in Canadian history in terms of poor financial management. I would like to know the member's thoughts on that.
- MPndpMar 22, 2013 8:50 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, Canadians could not disagree more with the government's response.
This year, the Conservatives may not want to boast about gutting environmental protections, but at one time, they were quite proud of that fact. They were quite proud of their irresponsible measures that kept communities from participating in the consultation process and gutted environmental reviews.
Will the minister now admit that the Conservative agenda is not in the interests of Canadians, that it fails the environment and that it is harming our good jobs that depend on the environment?
- MPndpMar 21, 2013 11:20 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, if you are the best, then you do not resign. If you are not good, you resign.
Speaking of "not good", the Minister of Natural Resources tried to hide Conservative inaction on the risks related to oil spills by smiling for the cameras.
However, the largest cleanup ship got stuck on a sandbar on its way to his news conference.
What is the system for preventing ships from running aground for a Conservative photo op?
- MPndpMar 19, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister closed the environmental emergencies programming in B.C. The Prime Minister closed the marine traffic control centre in Vancouver. The Prime Minister closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. The Prime Minister gives new meaning to the word “reckless”. The leader of the opposition is responsible, and that is why we stand behind him.
Canadians want the federal government to ensure—
- MPndpMar 19, 2013 11:40 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, some people say that oil spills are good for the economy, because jobs are created to clean it up. That is even more ridiculous than the Conservatives' public relations exercise, which involves installing cameras to simply watch oil spills, and this is after they cut emergency programs.
As we all know, the Conservatives are big fans of hidden cameras. Is this for a new Conservative reality TV show?
When will they finally bring in some tough environmental protection rules?
- MPndpFeb 27, 2013 2:05 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member for Winnipeg Centre providing his wisdom to the House. He talked about a race to the bottom between the Conservatives and Liberals to see who could be most incompetent and most ineffective in terms of administration. That was the race.
What we have with the bill here is the opposite. We actually have the Liberals and Conservatives competing to see who can be the slowest to bring in the necessary changes to the tax system. Between the two of them, they waited 14 years. The incompetence of both governments is incredible.
Could the member for Winnipeg Centre just tell us which government is more incompetent: the Conservative government or a Liberal government? Which one is most incompetent, according to him?
- MPndpFeb 27, 2013 1:20 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, a member of the Conservative Party has just called Sheila Fraser lazy. That is beyond the pale. Sheila Fraser said the following, “No income tax technical bill has been passed since 2001. Although the government has said that an annual technical bill of routine housekeeping amendments to the Act is desirable, this has not happened”.
The member criticizes the NDP for quoting Sheila Fraser, the former Auditor General of Canada. If the member went back to his own riding and asked whether his constituents believe him or whether they believe Sheila Fraser, I think nine times out of ten the residents of his own riding would say they trust Sheila Fraser over the Conservative talking points that come from the PMO. That would be pretty—
- MPndpFeb 27, 2013 1:10 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to follow the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who gave a wonderful, detailed speech.
We have just begun to really delve into this bill that is more than 1,000 pages long. Bill C-48 is absolutely enormous.
As my colleague just said, we are talking about measures that should have been taken 10 or more years ago. Some of them go back as far as 1998. We have to wonder why the government took so long to introduce this huge bill in the House. Why did it take so long to address the 200 various sectors affected by previous budgets? Why did the government drag its feet on introducing these technical amendments in the House?
When we look at the size and scope of this massive bill, we are talking about areas touched throughout the tax system: changing how labour-sponsored venture capital corporations are treated and the transitional issues that arise from that; amending corporate taxable income allocation formulas; looking at the tax treatment of shares dealing with offshore investment fund property and non-resident trusts; dealing with taxation of foreign affiliates of Canadian multinational corporations, affecting legislation that touches both common law and civil law; avoiding anti-avoidance measures for specific leasing properties; clarifying rules on taxable Canadian properties; looking at housekeeping changes to the Excise Tax Act; clarifying the minister's authority; allowing for tax administration agreements; and putting in place coordinating amendments.
Many of these measures date from more than a decade ago. As my colleagues from Beauharnois—Salaberry and Edmonton—Strathcona mentioned earlier, the former Auditor General of Canada called the government on its complete absence of bringing forward all of the 1,000 pages of technical amendments that should have been brought forward years ago.
Commitments were made at one point. I am not going to criticize just the Conservatives. I am going to criticize the Liberals, as well.
Indications were made in the past that these types of technical amendments should be brought in on an annual basis. What the Parliament of Canada would be called upon to look through would be, basically, one-twelfth of what we are looking at today. On an annual basis, technical treatment would then be updated. That is a necessary part of our tax system. That would mean, as well, that we would avoid the kinds of loopholes that exist when the House of Commons passes budgets or measures are put into place and the technical amendments are never brought forward.
That is not what happened under the Liberals. We know now that the Liberals were simply unable to put in place an effective administrative structure for technical amendments. It has not happened under the Conservatives, either. This is something New Democrats deplore. Of course, we support these technical amendments, but instead of dealing with a yearly review that would allow those technical amendments to be brought in in a systematic way and on a timely basis, we are dealing with another massive Conservative bill of 1,000 pages that Parliament is being asked to scrutinize, because for over a decade, the work was not done.
This is symptomatic of why many Canadians consider the idea of Conservative administrative competence to be an oxymoron. We have seen this time and time again, whether we are talking about technical amendments that have not been brought in or massive budget bills that are thrown on the floor of the House of Commons without the government having any understanding of what the impacts are.
We saw last spring massive changes to environmental assessments and the National Energy Board. Charitable people would say that the government was simply unaware of what it was trying to do when it gutted 99% of environmental assessments in this country. That is what a charitable person would say. The government was simply incompetent. Many others believe that it was mean-spirited and deliberate. Even though the government pretended that it had no idea that it was gutting 99% of environmental assessments in this country, the government actually did understand that it was doing that when it threw those amendments forward. Either way, what we are seeing is administrative incompetence and mean-spiritedness of the highest order.
I am privileged to come from the political party that over the last 20 years, when it has been in power, according to the federal Ministry of Finance, has been the most effective at managing the nation's finances and paying down debt in various provinces. For the last 20 years, the fiscal period returns, year after year, have indicated that NDP governments are much better at balancing budgets and paying down debt. They are much better than their Conservative counterparts and much better than their Liberal counterparts, who seem to be even worse than the Conservatives, if people can believe that, in terms of balancing budgets and paying down debt. Fiscal period returns show that. We certainly have no lessons to learn from anybody.
I would say to the Canadian public that we always have to endeavour to be better and more transparent. We had the Leader of the Opposition stand in the House today and put forward an NDP bill to put in place a Parliamentary Budget Officer. What we believe in is a system of checks and balances, in terms of finance, to ensure that the public is aware that the figures we are putting forward are tested by an impartial third party. We believe in supporting our Auditor General's department and in actually enhancing the ability of the Auditor General to look at the nation's finances as well.
What have the Conservatives done? It is quite the opposite. By death from a thousand cuts, they have cut back on the Auditor General's ability to actually look at the nation's finances. They are seriously, in the most vicious, underhanded way, attacking the Parliamentary Budget Officer. They are systematically removing, and this is the only government in the western world doing this, the checks and balances the Canadian public depends on.
On our side of the House, not only are we better financial administrators, we also believe in the impartiality of a third party to ensure and verify that the financial figures put forward by a government are tested and are subject to those rigorous tests of checks and balances the Canadian public expects.
In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, what I hear most often from people who voted Conservative last time, because I still had about a third of the public in Burnaby—New Westminster vote Conservative last time, is that they voted for administrative competence, and they have gotten incompetence. They say that they voted for some kind of honesty on fiscal matters and have gotten exactly the opposite.
People who voted Conservative are now saying that what they got is the F-35 scandal, the continuous shame of Conservative senators trying to bilk the public and milk the public of every last dollar, pretending they live in provinces where they do not and trying to break the law in a couple of jurisdictions.
What former Conservative voters, because they are not going to vote that way in 2015, are telling us is that it is not what they voted for, but that is what they have gotten.
When we look back to Bill C-48, we can see that this is symptomatic of a much greater malaise. We have a Conservative government that is administratively incompetent, that is mean-spirited and that is unable to control the natural inclination of the Prime Minister to go after shiny baubles and pay whatever it takes, whether we are talking about the Muskoka spending of $1 billion or the $40 billion or more that would go into the F-35s or the ongoing scandal of Senate-gate, with 15 Conservative senators now trying to hide where they live to cover up their past indiscretions.
When we look at all of those things, what we see is symptomatic of why so many Canadians are saying that what they want to see, whether we are talking about a bill like this or any other government decision, is competence. They want to see a government that actually understands the impacts of what it is doing. They want to see a government that is not bringing forward 14 years of technical amendments, because it has been dropping the ball, systemically, for the last seven years.
In 2015, what Canadians will get is a government that is competent, an NDP government that will be submitting technical amendments on an annual basis, because that is what is right and proper for this House of Commons to consider.
- MPndpFeb 26, 2013 11:55 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, this is the 21st century and companies have regulatory obligations and social responsibilities. These responsibilities also apply to the Northern Gateway and Keystone pipeline projects. Yet, rather than establishing clear and specific regulations, the Conservatives have chosen inaction and improvisation.
When will the government show that it is serious about protecting our commercial and environmental interests and the health of Canadians? When will it present clear regulations for the sustainable development of natural resources?
- MPndpFeb 25, 2013 2:15 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie, who really has a lot of experience. She is sharing her extensive experience here in the House. Her speech today added many facts and striking examples to the discussion of Bill C-55. It is important to note that, as of this morning, we had 19 days left to pass this bill, which has just been introduced.
Now the first day is already over, and we have received no replies to our questions. Since this morning, even though the member for Gatineau, the member for Halifax, the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and many others have asked questions, we have not received any answers from the government. The government has therefore lost an entire day even though it introduced the bill late, that is, 19 days before the deadline. The government has known for a year that it must do something.
The question that I would like to ask my colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie is very simple. Why does she think the Conservatives are treating this matter with such disdain? Why is their approach so disorganized, when following up on a year-old Supreme Court decision is actually quite an important matter?
- MPndpFeb 25, 2013 12:20 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petitions signed by dozens of residents of eastern Ontario and the Ottawa region. They are concerned about overcharging on remittance fees. Many banks are charging up to 25% on remittances being sent by new Canadian families to their loved ones and family members overseas. This overcharging hurts lower-income Canadians, particularly new Canadians. The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to introduce legislation that would put into place caps on the types of remittance penalties and remittance fees presently being paid by new Canadians and lower-income Canadians.
I would like to thank the volunteers from ACORN Canada for their work in getting involved and talking to people about this issue to make sure that Canadians can have their voices heard on the floor of the House of Commons.
- MPndpFeb 25, 2013 10:30 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the member for Nickel Belt is a terrific member to work with. I work with him on the natural resources committee. He has been a very strong representative for Nickel Belt in the House of Commons. He is very eloquent and very knowledgeable, so I appreciate his question.
It is absolutely shameful treatment. It is shameful for the Conservatives to have voted to bring in the NDP bill and to have promised in the election campaign that they would bring it in. For six years police officers and firefighters have been asking, “Can you take care of our families when we pass on? When I die in the line of duty, can you take care of my family?” Is that too much to ask so that they do not have to sell their homes, so that the kids do not have to quit school, and so that they are actually taken care of by a grateful nation? That is what New Democrats stand for. That is what Canadians stand for: respect for our nation's police officers and firefighters.
I have no doubt that the Conservatives should be ashamed of the behaviour they have exhibited over the last six years by giving the back of their hands to firefighters and police officers in our country.
- MPndpFeb 25, 2013 10:15 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the excellent, elegant, hard-working and resourceful member for Halifax. She will be using the second half of the time allotted for this speech, so we will have the opportunity to hear from her.
I am rising after the member for Gatineau, who gave a wonderful speech about this issue.
We will be supporting this bill at second reading. However, it is unbelievable that the government is introducing a bill now, even though it knew for a year that changes were needed.
The Conservatives did nothing for a year. They introduced Bill C-30, which the public clearly rejected. The government even tried to denounce those who were opposed to their ill-conceived bill. The government reacted, but luckily, pressure from the Canadian people eventually forced it to abandon the bill.
Now the Conservatives have introduced Bill C-55, only 19 days before the deadline of April 13, 2013, which was imposed by the Supreme Court.
We have 19 days in total to debate it at second reading and to examine it in committee. We have 19 days to hear from witnesses from all over and to do the clause-by-clause study in order to avoid problems and ensure that the Supreme Court does not have to deal with another botched bill from this government. We have 19 days to get to third reading, to consider proposed amendments and to have a final debate and vote. That is completely ridiculous, when we have known for a full year that the government had work to do on this.
Once again, the government did not do its job. This is not the first time. We on this side of the House see this as a real problem.
As the hon. member for Gatineau put it so well, this government's bills are botched, improvised, flawed and nonsensical.
When our work is not done in the House, when witnesses do not have time to come and share their expertise, and when members do not have time to do the clause-by-clause and amend a bill based on what witnesses tell us, what happens?
True to form, the government moves a closure motion, and the bill passes, even if it is a bad, improvised bill. Canadian taxpayers are then forced to pay judges to examine the merits of the bill.
When the government does not do its job and disrespects the opposition members, Canada as a whole pays the price. Now the Supreme Court has to examine several Conservative bills that are botched, flawed and improvised. In fact, the Conservatives introduced yet another botched bill here today.
The Conservatives continue to have an attitude of entitlement. They think that they can introduce any bill in the House and that it does not matter if it is flawed. As a result, we end up spending a lot more time and tax dollars to fix these botched bills than we would if the Conservatives were disciplined and did their homework properly from the start. I think that Canadians are fed up with this.
That is one of the many reasons why more and more Canadians are saying that they look forward to 2015, when they will be able to get rid of this government and bring in a government that will introduce well-written bills, listen to witnesses and amend its bills accordingly.
In a democracy, it takes time to listen to the opinions of people across this diverse country and to fine-tune bills.
The government is being irresponsible and taking that time away from us. Even if we could work together since the deadline is 19 days away, the reality is that, if the government refuses to co-operate and tries to impose its opinion, then we will once again end up with a Conservative bill that is likely to be challenged in the courts.
If the government refuses to co-operate and tries to impose its opinion, we will once again end up with a Conservative bill that will be challenged in the courts, as we heard this morning and as we have been seeing for months. That is not what Canadians want. They want us to take the time to do things right here in Parliament.
We now have 19 days to put forward this piece of legislation. We have 19 days to get through every single level of speaking, hear from witnesses and get through all of this work. All of this could have been avoided if the government had simply done its work a year ago. After the judgment came forward from the Supreme Court, the government could have moved forward in a responsible way. It chose not to.
Yet again, we have the Conservatives basically asking the NDP to fix the mistakes they have made. Very many Canadians are looking forward to the day when we will not have to have Conservative mistakes fixed, when we will have an NDP government that can bring forward legislation that actually meets that test and receives the consent of the population.
I want to talk about the broader justice agenda. Bill C-55 is part of it. It is symptomatic of just how bad the Conservatives are on justice issues. We had crime prevention programs in the country that were doing a remarkable job. Crime prevention programs are a good investment for Canadians. When we put $1 into crime prevention, we save $6 later on in policing costs, court costs and prison costs. For every buck put into crime prevention, we see a $6 return. More importantly, we do not see victims, because the crime is never committed in the first place. That has always been the foundation of how the NDP has approached justice issues.
What did the Conservatives do? They gutted crime prevention programs. They destroyed them across the country. In my area and elsewhere, Conservatives have gutted the funding that would allow crime prevention programs to stop the crime before it is even committed, to stop having victims because the crime is not committed, saving $6 in policing costs, court costs and prison costs for every $1 spent on crime prevention.
The Conservatives have done far more in a negative way for Canada. The whole issue of putting more front-line police officers in place was a commitment made by our former leader, Jack Layton, and by the Conservatives before the last election. What have the Conservatives done? Nothing. They have failed on that front-line policing duty.
Most egregious, and there is only one way to put this, is the Conservatives' complete lack of respect for our nation's police officers and firefighters in terms of the public safety officer compensation fund. Members will recall that six years ago, before the Conservatives were elected, they voted for and committed to putting in place a public safety officer compensation program so that when our nation's police officers or firefighters are killed in the line of duty, killed protecting the Canadian public, their families are taken care of.
Since that time, I have talked to families who have lost their homes, kids who have had to quit university, and spouses who have had to try to put something together to keep the family together, because the Conservatives broke their promise to the nation's police officers and firefighters. For six long years now, firefighters and police officers have been coming to Parliament Hill. For six long years, the Conservatives have given them nothing more than the back of their hands. That is deplorable.
In 2015, when an NDP government is elected, what we are going to see is respect for the nation's police officers and firefighters. We are going to see in place a public safety officer compensation fund. We will never again see the families of our nation's police officers and firefighters left to fend for themselves because the federal government does not respect them and does not care about them.
We in the NDP take a different approach on these issues. We actually believe that bills should be brought forward in the House of Commons in a respectful way. We should hear from witnesses, improve the legislation, and make sure that it is not the type of legislation that is then subject to court challenges just to fix the mistakes the government has made.
We would take a more mature and more professional approach to justice issues. Like so many other Canadians, I can hardly wait for 2015.
- MPndpFeb 25, 2013 10:05 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the presentation by the member for Gatineau clearly outlined that the problem we face today is that the bill was introduced at the last minute. Earlier, I said that there were 20 days left, but, in reality, there are only 19. I forgot to exclude Good Friday.
The government wants the bill to go through all the stages in 19 days and duly pass. But this bill was never analyzed. We already know that there will be flaws. As the member for Gatineau said, we will do what we can. The government's approach is really not professional.
My questions are for my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis. First, what does he think of the last-minute introduction of this bill? There are only 19 days left on the parliamentary calendar to study it.
These problems date back to the previous Liberal government. So why did the Liberals not deal with these issues when they were in power? At the time, even members from Montreal expressed concerns about the Liberals not making changes.
- MPndpFeb 25, 2013 9:50 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I know that the member for Gatineau loves the law, and she will make an excellent justice minister when elected in 2015. I am certain that her expertise and interest will bring about significant change.
I would like to point out that the deadline is only 20 days away. The government just introduced this bill. We know that Parliament and committees will sit for only 20 days. The government just introduced a bill that should have been introduced 10 and a half months ago. Now we have only 20 days to finalize it, to ensure that we will not find ourselves in the same situation as before—with a botched bill that creates problems and that will be thrown out by the courts.
As the member for Gatineau mentioned earlier, the Conservative members see nothing wrong with that. They do not have an issue with introducing a botched bill that has not been reviewed. They think it is someone else's job to review it. Our role, our responsibility as members, is to review bills to ensure that they are in line with the objectives.
So why did the government not fulfill its obligations? Why did it introduce a bill at the last minute, just 20 days before the deadline?
- MPndpFeb 25, 2013 9:25 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the minister. In terms of any sort of justice agenda, we have seen the cutbacks to crime prevention programs the government has made, its refusal to keep its commitment to putting additional police officers on the street and its systematic refusal to put in place a public safety officer compensation fund, even though Canadian police officers and firefighters come to the Hill year after year and continue to get the back of the hand from the government. It is fair to say that we do not take lessons from the government on criminal justice issues.
The question that has come up, which the member from Gatineau and others have raised, is why the government is putting forward this bill at the last moment. It knew that Bill C-30 was problematic. There was a big push-back from the public. Yet even though it had almost a year to bring forward provisions, it is doing it a few weeks before the deadline expires. It seems to be improvised on the back of a napkin.
I would like the minister to stand and explain very carefully to the Canadian public why it is putting forward this last-minute bill on something the government has known about for almost a year.
- MPndpFeb 15, 2013 8:20 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, Canadians know what they are talking about. While they are losing their jobs, the Conservatives' never-ending gravy train in the Senate is continuing. After Senator Duffy and Senator Wallin, now Senator Patterson, of Nunavut, cannot say where he lives. He calls it a complex matter with many facets. It is not complicated. He is required to live in Nunavut, yet he claimed a homeowner's grant for B.C. residence.
It is a simple question of disclosure. Will the government now demand the disclosure of already completed audits into the expenses of Senator Wallin, Senator Duffy and other senators?
- MPndpFeb 15, 2013 8:15 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
The result, Mr. Speaker, is that 300,000 more Canadians are looking for work. Canadians deserve better than that.
The government has been repeatedly warned that failing to protect the environment will have economic costs. Now it is being challenged by our closest ally to take action on climate change.
How many jobs will Canadians miss out on while Conservatives get their act together? How many countries will shut their doors to our resources because of the government's irresponsible policies? When will the Conservatives stop stalling, defend the Canadian interest and take real, effective action on climate change?
- MPndpFeb 13, 2013 11:15 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, another day, another Conservative under investigation. Senator Pamela Wallin is now under investigation for her expenses. She is alleged to have spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on flights to Toronto. University of Regina constitutional expert Howard Leeson is calling on the Senate to remove Senator Wallin for failure to comply with constitutional residency requires.
All the while, Conservatives claim senators are “hard-working parliamentarians”. The average senator worked only 56 days last year. That is 309 days off a year. This is the ultimate Conservative gravy train.
The New Democrats have always rejected Senate appointments. We demand that party operatives stop doing partisan work on the public purse. We demand they pack up their fundraising operations and go home, back to Kanata. When the last of these unaccountable Conservative political operatives go out the door, they can turn out the lights on their way out the door.
- MPndpFeb 12, 2013 11:05 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to wish Chinese Canadians and all those who celebrate the lunar new year a happy new year of the snake.
In Chinese tradition, the snake represents wisdom, friendship and determination.
This is the time to come together around these values for a positive change during the year, in the spirit of sisterhood, brotherhood and sharing. May this year of the snake bring good health, peace and good fortunate to all.
In my community we say: Gung hei faat choi; Xu da dja xin nian kuai le; She nian kuai le; Nian nian kuai le; Tian tian kuai le.
I would like to take this opportunity to convey my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all Canadians of Chinese origin as well as to all those who celebrate the lunar new year, from my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster to all of Canada.
I am thankful for their immense contribution to our country and continuous efforts to build a better, wiser and stronger Canada.
Da ji da li.
- MPndpFeb 07, 2013 11:25 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the environment commissioner was clear that the failure of the government to act puts not just our environment and our health but also our economy at risk.
The government's record? After years of promises, it failed to put into place liability protection, risking billions of dollars in cleanup costs that would devastate the economy. And, of course, federal regulations limiting greenhouse gases for the oil and gas sector are completely missing. They are AWOL, like a Tory senator in Prince Edward Island.
Why is the minister refusing to act? Why is he putting our environment and our economy at risk?
- MPndpFeb 07, 2013 8:55 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has pointed out the importance of the Parliamentary Budget Office.
In 46 days, the Conservatives will be moving to turn out the lights on the Parliamentary Budget Officer, leaving Canada as one of the only few large western democracies without an independent budget office. I think most Canadians would profoundly disagree with that. The hon. member for Victoria has very eloquently said why it is so important for the Canadian public to have this information.
I would like to ask the hon. member for Victoria what Canadians could do. Should they be phoning their Conservative MPs? Should they be writing to NDP members? Should they be raising a ruckus about the government turning out the lights on independent and impartial budget information?
- MPndpFeb 07, 2013 7:35 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry on her great speech. She is very gracious and works very hard in the House. The voters of Beauharnois—Salaberry are well represented.
She talked about the many blunders made by this Conservative government. As we know, at the end of every year, the Department of Finance releases a report on financial results. For the past 20 years, it has compared NDP, Conservative and Liberal governments. For the past 20 years, the NDP has always come out on top thanks to our wise financial governance and our ability to balance budgets and reduce debt.
So, the NDP are better than the Conservatives when it comes to fiscal management. Does the member think that that is a valid reason for the Conservatives to shut down the office that acted independently to keep an eye on the nation's finances? After all, the Conservatives are not very good at managing finances.
- MPndpFeb 06, 2013 11:35 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, so it is all right with the Conservatives for companies to inject any kind of chemical into the ground. Canadians do not deserve that.
There are other concerns raised by the commissioner, such as an inadequate liability regime for offshore oil spills. The NDP has spoken out about this problem since the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Conservatives have done nothing for three years.
Will they implement the commissioner's recommendations or will they again be negligent and irresponsible?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2013 3:15 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. She is truly a strong voice in the House.
She just spoke not only on behalf of her riding, which she represents so well, but also on behalf of Canadians living in rural areas across the country.
There have been signs that the Conservatives may support this motion, at least I hope they will.
My question for the hon. member is quite simple: does she think this is really a matter of quality of life for rural areas of the country and that they should finally be put on equal footing with the country's urban areas?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2013 11:25 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are putting Canadians at risk. The absolute liability limit of nuclear facility operators has not been updated for 35 years. In other words, if an accident happens, Canadian taxpayers are on their own. The Fukushima catastrophe cost close to $200 billion.
Why are the Conservatives passing the buck to Canadians when it comes to paying for the damage from a nuclear disaster? Why are they being so irresponsible?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2013 8:45 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated the member for Jonquière—Alma's speech. He is very passionate and ardently defends the interests of people from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, a region I know and love. He is truly an outstanding and passionate MP.
He talked about the impact of the Conservatives' raft of changes. What does this mean for people? We now have 300,000 more unemployed workers than we did when the recession began. Everyone knows that. This government's cuts have caused thousands of families to lose their employment insurance benefits.
What impact might this have on small businesses in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, businesses that depend on those consumers?
- MPndpJan 31, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, it is not just the Coast Guard. Conservatives have also wilfully ignored concerns from across British Columbia about the northern gateway pipeline.
Concerns have come from the coast, from communities along the proposed route and first nations, and these voices of British Columbians have been dismissed by the government.
British Columbians have been clear. We want to protect our sensitive coastal environment and we want to protect the good jobs that come from a clean environment.
Why are Conservatives refusing to listen? Why are they gutting our environmental protection laws? Why are they running roughshod over British Columbians?
- MPndpJan 30, 2013 11:45 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, that is not balanced at all. CNOOC has no obligation to protect Canadian jobs, and even the Prime Minister admitted that this type of deal is bad for Canada. Canadians deserve better than this.
Now we find out there are three more Conservative MPs raising their concerns. This deal is now undergoing extensive review in the U.S., while in Canada, Conservatives simply rubber-stamp the sellout.
Why are Conservatives dismissing Canadians' concerns, turning a blind eye to concerns in the U.S., and even ignoring the concerns from their own caucus?
- MPndpJan 28, 2013 12:15 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
With regard to all buildings containing asbestos which are owned, leased or controlled by the government: (a) what steps has the government taken to eliminate asbestos-related hazards; (b) has the government developed a list identifying all public buildings falling under its responsibility which contain Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) and (i) if so, what is the address of each such building, (ii) when will the list be made available to the public, (iii) if not, is the government planning on creating such a list and if so, when would it be made available to the public; and (c) is the government working with any provinces or territories to compile a National Asbestos Registry that will inform Canadians which buildings use ACMs and, if so, with which provinces or territories has the government been liaising?
- MPndpDec 11, 2012 11:30 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, the minister seems to have problems explaining this. Perhaps the Prime Minister could give it another try. He failed yesterday.
The doublespeak does not change the fact that the botched $15 billion Nexen decision is more clear evidence of Conservative mismanagement. In fact, Conservative sources are saying that the government sold out on the Canada-China FIPA. Now it has given a blank cheque to CNOOC. Most Canadians and even many Conservatives do not agree with the government on CNOOC.
Why is the government being so incompetent and so irresponsible?
- MPndpDec 11, 2012 11:25 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, there are still no answers.
The Prime Minister's improvised press conference last Friday demonstrated how the Conservatives are mismanaging foreign investment. The CNOOC takeover approval, coupled with the Canada-China FIPA is a dangerous mixture. CNOOC will have unprecedented rights in Canada and now it is entitled to national treatment, meaning it has carte blanche to expand in Canada, including buying up oil sands leases.
Why is the government trying to cover up the real impact of the Canada-China FIPA? Why is it giving CNOOC special and expanding access to the oil sands?
- MPndpDec 10, 2012 1:20 pm | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I wish to acknowledge the work of the hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges. He is a real leader in the House. He has the professional attitude necessary when examining investments under the Investment Canada Act and its related procedures. I want to highlight the leadership shown by the hon. member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges in recent months.
The government has said everything is proper and that it will hand Nexen over to CNOOC. At the same time, CNOOC has acquired special powers and rights because of this government and the Canada-China investment treaty.
Is the hon. member worried about the fact that CNOOC will now have the same rights as Canadian companies and will be able to expand its scope of activities in Canada as much as it wants, because of the approval it was given last Friday?
- MPndpDec 10, 2012 11:35 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are asking these questions because they know, after these last few months of sheer incompetence, Conservatives cannot be trusted to manage foreign investment. The Conservatives just want to sell out Canada.
Conservatives claim they will limit foreign state control of the oil sands and yet the FIPA with China will do the opposite. They did not get reciprocity. They gave away national treatment rights to companies such as CNOOC. The Conservatives do not even seem to understand the agreement they signed. They approved the CNOOC takeover of Nexen and they signed the Canada-China FIPA, which gives special rights to CNOOC. Why were they so irresponsible?
- MPndpDec 10, 2012 9:40 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, like three-quarters of Canadians who said in recent weeks that they were opposed to the CNOOC takeover, I was stunned on Friday night that the Prime Minister would rubber-stamp something that would have such an egregious impact right across the country due to CNOOC's poor environmental human rights record, the threat of job losses in Calgary and for a wide variety of reasons. That is why three-quarters of Canadians said no to the CNOOC deal, yet the Conservatives rubber-stamped it.
Would the member explain why the Conservatives have systematically opposed public consultations and refused to consult with Canadians who actually pay their salaries and who are their bosses in their ridings. Why have the Conservatives not stood and said that this is a wrong decision that should not have taken place and that they should have listened to Canadians?
- MPndpDec 10, 2012 9:25 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to make a speech, but the answer is yes, of course.
- MPndpDec 10, 2012 9:15 am | British Columbia, Burnaby—New Westminster
Mr. Speaker, seriously, that is all they could come up with, after slapping the faces of millions of Canadians who felt that the CNOOC takeover of Nexen was not in Canada's interest, after the failed press conference on Friday, where the Prime Minister just babbled on for a number of minutes, where the government completely failed Canadians by not putting in place a sort of transparency or definition of net benefit. Are the only questions they can come up with this kind of dated partisan rhetoric?
Canadians deserve better than what the Conservatives are doing. This is important public policy. This is a decision about which we have seen thousands of comments over the course of the weekend, thousands of Canadians saying the Conservatives were wrong to sell us out. They were wrong to say here is a for sale sign on Canadian resources and on Canadian jobs. They were wrong to do that, yet the Conservatives have these childish comments in the House of Commons, rather than answering or asking questions that have some substance around the motion before us today. This shows why the Conservatives need to be turfed out as soon as possible, in 2015 or sooner.
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