- MPndpMar 12, 2015 10:40 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I beg to differ. The executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, for example, says:
We wish the government had consulted with some of us prior to drafting this legislation, and we hope that there will be respectful consultation between the government and community groups so that a concerted effort can be made to address the issues of violence against women.
There are several community agencies that deal everyday on the front lines with newcomer women who are affected by violence, who are affected by forced marriage, who are facing all kinds of challenges. If the government had had the respect to hear from their experiences and their recommendations, we could be debating a very different bill today.
I would ask my colleague opposite to consider the experience of front-line women and to respect that. Let us work together to try to get rid of the xenophobia in the bill and help the women who the bill supposedly is designed to help.
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 10:30 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and be part of this debate today on Bill S-7, which intends to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The short name of this bill is the “zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act”. I am pleased to speak to this today. I will be sharing my time with the member for Newton—North Delta.
I think all of us the House would agree that domestic violence is a problem in all of Canada, not just in some communities as this bill seems to imply. We see violence at all socio-economic levels in society, in all cultural communities. It is not just among certain populations. Clearly, I think we would all agree that no woman should be subjected to gender-based violence, regardless of her race, religion or citizenship status. That violence would include being subjected to a forced or underage marriage.
I will preface my remarks by saying that if the government sincerely wants to address the issues of violence against women, first we would call on it to immediately hold an inquiry into the more than 1,200 missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. That would be a good start. Second, it should bring in a national action plan to end violence against women in Canada. Those two measures would go much further than the Bill S-7, which would be to benefit all women in Canada.
The issue the bill pretends to address, which is underage and forced marriages, is not really addressed. What gets heard by people who are learning about the bill, and certainly by the communications that surround this bill, is that it targets a particular culture. People hear that as being very xenophobic, very unwelcoming. Of course, we all stand together in opposing underage marriage, forced marriage and gender-based violence.
Let me be clear that Bill S-7 contains no new tools or resources to help front-line workers and organizations, the very people who are actually working with the women who are the victims of forced and underage marriage. They have expressly argued against the provisions of the bill because they know it would help fewer rather than more women in that situation.
Not only would this bill not solve the problem of gender-based violence that it seeks to address, but if passed, could very likely and in all probability make the situation worse by driving those victims of forced and underage marriages further underground, leaving them even less able to seek assistance.
In 2013, a clinic in my area in downtown Toronto, the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, released a report on forced marriage after conducting an analysis of the surveys that it gave to support providers in order to collect data on forced marriages. It was a survey of the people who worked with and directly helped victims of forced marriage. Of the recommendations accompanying the report, one in particular was not to further criminalize forced marriage, that these women were already very marginalized.
That may sound counterintuitive. Why would we not say that this is against the law? Because most of the perpetrators of forced marriage are in fact their family members, their husbands and sons, et cetera. Victims reported their hesitation to criminalize members of their own family. That is a very real situation with which communities deal. In fact, victims reported that they would be “hesitant to seek any outside assistance if this would result in criminal...consequences for family members”. We must remember that these may be women who have children with the people who have forced them into this marriage situation.
No one is suggesting that forced marriages should be allowed; clearly, they should not be allowed. No one is suggesting that they do not ever occur in Canada; they do occur in Canada. We believe there is a role for government. However, rather than helping the victims of gender-based crimes, which is based in a rather patriarchal view of the role of women in society, the government is too focused on criminalizing this behaviour, locking people up and throwing away the key, instead of eliminating it.
Since this legislation has been introduced, we might ask if there is not other legislation that already covers this situation. The government could have beefed up the enforcement of existing legislation, because obviously polygamy and forced marriage is already illegal. For example, uttering threats, forcible confinement, procuring a feigned marriage and polygamy are already prohibited and illegal. Spousal and child abuse are aggravating factors. The Civil Code of Quebec and the common law of other provinces already require free and enlightened consent for marriage. In other words, this provision already exists in law so the bill is redundant. All the bill serves to do is sensationalize this issue without getting to the root of the problem and helping people.
I referenced a report from the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario. The government could have implemented many of the recommendations in that report. For example, it found that 50% of the clients who sought its services were not even aware of their existing rights with respect to forced marriage. Therefore, educational campaigns about their rights aimed at service providers, such as social workers, police, teachers and guidance counsellors, to help them understand the warning signs and the pressures faced by victims of forced marriage would have gone much further in terms of preventing forced and underage marriage than the bill does.
There is no allowance for the wives and children of an individual found to be committing these crimes. What happens to them? Those who are found to be engaged in a forced marriage are deported, whether or not they are the perpetrator or the victim of the marriage, which seems very unfair and makes it much less likely that anyone would report that situation or go to the police. That leaves little room for women who are fleeing violence or want out of that situation to officially report that they have been subjected to a marriage against their will. This is especially so if they have children.
Another way the government could have addressed this problem would have been to add forced or underage marriage to the definition of family violence for the purpose of seeking housing. That would have provided women greater flexibility to leave this kind of oppressive situation as they would be given preference for housing along with other people fleeing domestic violence.
Simply put, the legislation does nothing to address the real problem of forced and underage marriage. There is no help for victims, only the threat of deportation and the criminalization of their family. There is no help for enforcement. It would be a very different bill if the government only sought to prosecute by using the laws that are already on the books. There is no help for organizations and government service providers who work with newcomers and citizens to identify and prevent forced and underage marriage to assist victims who are fleeing these situations.
After 10 years in office, the Conservatives have taken Canada in the wrong direction, and the bill just continues along that path. The Conservatives are taking Canadians down the wrong path. Canadians can trust the experience and the principled leadership of the New Democratic Party leader to replace the Prime Minister and address the real issues of gender-based violence in a meaningful way.
- MPndpMar 11, 2015 11:15 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Girls Government, students from Holy Family and Queen Victoria schools in Parkdale. The girls are working toward mandatory labelling for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
What an impressive group of girls. They are writing letters to the Minister of Health, to editors of local newspapers, as well as holding a press conference on the issue.
My provincial colleague, Cheri DiNovo, and I want to encourage girls to be active in their communities and their governments. We hope to see more women involved in politics, both running for office and working behind the scenes.
Equal representation can be achieved. As parliamentarians, it is our job to work toward this goal by encouraging youth activism. We can see the results here in our caucus.
Girls Government shows us that when we empower women and girls anything is possible.
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 12:55 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, business does not like insecurity. If a company is going to make an investment, it wants to be able to see, at least into the near term, whether that investment is going to be able to drive growth and earn a profit. Canadian businesses are sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars that could be invested if the government showed leadership and created greater stability. However, business is not investing, and it is not investing because of insecurity. When the finance minister does not bring forward a budget, does not lay out for Canadians how he sees the next year rolling out, does not outline his priorities and explain to Canadians how he is going to steer the economy for the good of all Canadians, it makes it much more difficult for businesses to make their own investments.
The government should be making investments in things like transit and good child care to help workers do better. Then we would see more private sector investment. That would be good for the economy.
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 12:40 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for introducing this opposition day motion. This motion is pertinent and important to the vast majority of Canadians because it relates to our quality of life and standard of living here in Canada.
I want to read the motion. It states:
That, in light of sustained high unemployment since the 2008 recession and the long term downward trend in job quality since 1989 under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, as documented by CIBC, the House call on the government to make the first priority of Budget 2015 investment in measures that stimulate the economy by creating and protecting sustainable, full-time, middle-class jobs in high-paying industries in all regions of Canada and abandoning its costly and unfair $2 billion income-splitting proposal.
It is an excellent motion.
In raising this motion, we are calling for a number of changes that we want to see take place.
The Minister of Finance quite surprisingly called the CIBC statistics sham statistics. He is saying that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, that radical socialist organization, has produced sham statistics. However, no one can deny the long-term decline in employment quality in Canada over the last 25 years or that we need to take immediate action in budget 2015 to turn this trend around. We need to create good-quality jobs, we need to protect and improve existing jobs, and we need to address some of the key challenges of the middle class more broadly.
When I speak to people in my riding in Parkdale—High Park, I find that although they may have what have traditionally been secure middle-class jobs, a growing number of them are feeling insecure. Young people are going into these formerly good middle-class jobs on term contracts, on short-term hirings. They may be receiving no benefits and can be in that precarious situation for years. That makes it difficult for them to get on with their lives, because they never know if they will be able to keep their job. The CIBC has done us a real favour by presenting this report highlighting the growing precariousness of jobs across Canada, but we have some practical solutions to propose, and I want to get into those in a few minutes. However, let me first speak more about my community in Toronto in Parkdale—High Park.
Toronto is now the inequality capital of Canada. We see greater and faster-growing inequality in our city than anywhere else in the country. As I said, we see a growing insecurity even in traditional middle-class jobs, but the number of very precarious jobs, minimum wage jobs, is vast and growing. People are on very unpredictable, precarious schedules and do not get enough hours to make a living, or they work full-time hours but do not make enough money to live because they are at the bottom of the pay scale.
Thanks to the work of a constituent, University of Toronto Professor David Hulchanski, we are now aware of a great disparity in inequality between neighbourhoods. Increasingly, those at the bottom of the income scale are newcomers, new immigrants, people of colour, visible minorities, and women. Different neighbourhoods around our city demonstrate great and huge differences with respect to equality. In fact, over the last decades inequality has widened in our city at twice the national average, so it is ballooning.
The OECD has confirmed what we know from studies about inequality: growing inequality hinders GDP growth. It hinders the broader economy and is invariably negative. We also see other social problems that result from inequality. Increased violence, increased imprisonment, addiction, obesity, greater ill health, and increased child mortality are all social outcomes of rising inequality. They should certainly should trouble all of us.
In my city of Toronto, 165,000 people are on the waiting list for affordable social housing. I see people who are badly housed and living in very poor conditions. They live with mould. Elevators frequently do not work in their buildings. Appliances do not work. We see families that are subject to a great deal of overcrowding because they can afford only a bachelor or a one-bedroom apartment, even though they have kids who should have their own room, their own space, because it is impossible for them to study otherwise.
As well, because of the lack of investment in infrastructure, people cannot get around the city. To get to their minimum-wage jobs, they have to stand an hour or an hour and a half on a bus and then on the subway to get to the other side of the city.
We are seeing growing stress on people at the growing bottom of the economic scale and we are seeing greater stress even on those in the middle. The all-time high personal debt that Canadians are experiencing means that people are taking on more and more personal debt. They are swimming faster and are running faster just to stay in the very same place. They are taking on more debt just to maintain their current standard of living.
I want to thank CIBC for its study on employment quality, which is entitled Employment Quality—Trending Down. The Minister of Finance said, shockingly, that it is based on shoddy statistics. I would argue that the bank has no vested interest in embarrassing the government, but in fact is doing the country a favour and helping us all by pointing out this very dangerous and destructive trend.
The bank's report is very clear. Our measure of employment quality is now at a record low. Employment quality is at a record low. That is a pretty shocking statement. As well, the report says the trend is clear: since the 1980s, the number of part-time jobs has risen much faster than the number of full-time jobs. The damage caused to full-time employment during each recession was in many ways permanent, and full-time job creation was unable to accelerate fast enough during the recovery to recover the lost ground.
The report also argues that the decline in employment quality in Canada is more structural than cyclical. In other words, just coming out of a recession is not doing the job. We have structural problems in our society and our economy that need to be dealt with by serious measures. What we have seen over 2014 is a 0.7% increase in employment. Employment is essentially stagnant.
Here are some of the things we should be doing. Rather than giving the wealthiest 15% a tax cut with an income-splitting proposal, which is a Leave It to Beaver mentality that will keep the good little lady at home, we should be creating jobs, helping families, helping young people, and investing in a national child care program.
What we should be doing immediately is raising the minimum wage. Let us give Canadians a raise and help them pay their bills. New Democrats want to see a $15 minimum wage.
We should be investing in infrastructure and building good-quality housing. Let us also help small businesses, which are big job creators. Let us help them invest in innovation and hiring and let us extend the accelerated capital cost allowance so businesses can create good middle-class jobs by investing in new technology.
New Democrats know what works. We have a plan for reviving the economy. Why do the Conservatives not get on board, accept our ideas, and include them in budget 2015? Then we can get the job done for all Canadians.
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have abandoned more than just the manufacturing sector. Never has the job market been so precarious.
The CIBC employment quality index indicates that job quality is at an all-time low. The Conservatives have managed to perform even worse than the Liberals, if you can believe that. The CIBC believes that the decline is here to stay and could even last for decades.
When will the government finally take action and make employment for middle-class families a priority?
- MPndpFeb 25, 2015 11:55 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' failure to fund infrastructure is taking an environmental and economic toll on our cities. At a community meeting in my riding last night, people raised serious concerns that the planned electrification of the Union Pearson rail link in Toronto could be in jeopardy.
Diesel service is unacceptable and has been banned in places like New York City for over a century, so federal support is badly needed. Cities are crying out for infrastructure funding and clean trains.
Why is the federal government failing to act?
- MPndpFeb 23, 2015 3:10 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, at a minimum, obviously we want to have the kind of oversight that the inspector general provided under CSIS, but even that was not enough. I cite the Campbell Clark article from the Globe and Mail today, where Mr. Clark talks about getting warrants. He said that when CSIS applies for warrants, a judge only hears one side of the argument; the judge does not hear a counter-argument to that. It is up to CSIS if it wants to get a warrant. Judges just routinely give these warrants.
We need better oversight of the existing powers of CSIS. These extended powers are not warranted—at least the government has not made a case for them.
I would urge my colleague from Trinity—Spadina and all of his colleagues in the Liberal Party to please not just rubberstamp the bill. I would urge them not be stampeded by the Conservative government and fear of public opinion. I would urge them, please, to take a principled stand and to stand up for Canadians' rights and oppose Bill C-51.
- MPndpFeb 23, 2015 3:05 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, in response I would ask the minister whether there are not already laws that deal with these activities. Can he give us an example of an aspect of terrorism that is not covered by existing laws?
Could he also tell us why the RCMP's annual expenditures have been cut by $420 million over the past five years and those of CSIS have been reduced by $44 million?
That is not going to enhance terrorism legislation.
- MPndpFeb 23, 2015 2:55 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-51. I have been getting many email messages from constituents in my riding. I have been collecting them. They are unanimously critical and opposed to the bill. I think as more Canadians find out what is in it and they understand the implications of it, that opposition will increase.
I want to be very clear in criticizing the process with which the Conservatives are rushing the bill through the House. It is of course another omnibus bill that changes many existing pieces of legislation. After two hours of debate in the House, they brought in a closure motion, which will mean that after a grand total of 10 hours of debate, they want the bill hustled off to a committee, which, hopefully, they will not rush through in order to have a very full study. However, that has not been their practice so far.
I want to be clear that the Conservatives could have continued the very collegial atmosphere last October when we were all shocked by a shooting on Parliament Hill. Two young men lost their lives. It was frightening, it was shocking, and we all agreed at that time that we would work together and that we should not sacrifice our democracy and our principles in a rush, in a stampede to act out of fear and insecurity.
I now feel the Conservatives are in fact rushing to bring this bill in and get it passed out of political expediency, because they think it will help them get re-elected. They also do not want to give Canadians the time to actually find out what is in the bill. They know that once they do, they will be more opposed to it.
The New Democratic Party, and I believe our leader has articulated this very clearly, believes we should have legislation that provides security, that will keep Canadians safe, but that also protects our civil liberties. Security and civil liberties and public safety are all Canadian values, and they are not a trade-off, they are not a balancing act. We need to have both security and our civil liberties. We need to protect our freedom as much as we protect our security.
We could have, and there is still time for the government and the third party to agree to this, a more serious, evidence-based approach to anti-terrorism legislation. We could stop playing politics with this and we could hear from experts in Canada and around the world. We could look at what other countries are doing. We could, in fact, choose the best. After a thorough review, engaging all parties, all of our ideas, coming to the table and after a full debate, we could come to what I believe would be an effective bill for public safety, one that would include strong oversight of our security and intelligence agencies, one that would devote appropriate resources to security and intelligence agencies rather than make cuts to these agencies, which the government has done, and one that, rather than fanning the flames of Islamophobia, would work with at-risk communities on counter-radicalization programs. That is what is needed in our country and that is where the government has failed.
The criticisms of the bill are of course many, but let me highlight just a few of them. There has been a lot of concern about how sweeping this law is, how vague it is and probably how ineffective it is. In the short time allotted to me today, I do not have time to get into a detailed analysis of this.
I would just say that after repeated tough questioning in the House of Commons by the Leader of the Opposition, neither the Prime Minister, nor the Minister of Public Safety, nor the Minister of Defence could offer a single example of a crime that could have been stopped or a danger thwarted by this legislation that is not already covered by existing legislation. They could not offer even one example to the House, which is pretty shocking. Surely, if they are going to fix the problem, they had better understand what the problem is and better know that what they are proposing will fix the problem. They could not give one single example. That is pretty shocking.
There is serious concern that because of the vagueness and overreach of the legislation, those who are engaged in legitimate lawful dissent, or in some cases perhaps pushing the limits a bit, might also be swooped up under the bill.
Coming from the city of Toronto in particular, I think of the people who were detained and kettled in downtown Toronto during the G8 and G20 talks. Not one charge was laid, but these people were detained in very difficult conditions and their rights were not respected. To me, Bill C-51 is continuing down that very slippery slope.
When constitutional lawyers across the country, former prime ministers, and former premiers are all sounding the alarm bells about the constitutionality and the dangers of the bill, perhaps we should pay attention. Again, it is not necessary that we violate our civil liberties in order to provide for public safety.
I live in a neighbourhood in our country where people are worried sick about highly flammable toxic substances transiting our riding in tank cars. These are the same kind of tank cars that exploded and incinerated people in Lac-Mégantic. I would like the government to invest more in public safety for rail safety and food safety. I want to see investment in all aspects of our public safety, not just in a knee-jerk response like we are seeing with Bill C-51.
Lack of oversight is also a serious concern that has been raised. As the former vice-chair of the finance committee, I was on the finance committee in 2012 when an omnibus bill was brought before that committee. We had as a witness, Paul Kennedy, who was one of the people involved in setting up our spy agency, CSIS. He, at that time, was sounding alarm bells about a proposal in the budget bill to get rid of the oversight of CSIS. I want to quote him, because I think his comments are very important:
For anyone to sit here and possibly think that because CSIS doesn't like this, CSIS should be accommodated and it should be removed is sheer insanity.
It really is. CSIS does not get to make that call. The minister's job is to give the public assurances and to make sure the tools are there. If someone came up with a better model, fine, but he was critical that existing oversight model of CSIS was being removed. When that model was set up, the spy agency was separated from policing. There was CSIS and the RCMP. What Bill C-51 does is to blur those two. Yet, having taken away the oversight, not replaced it, and in fact having cut resources to CSIS and the RCMP, somehow the government wants the public to believe that it is treating security and public safety seriously. I do not buy it and, increasingly, neither do Canadians.
Thank goodness there is one principled leader in this country, the leader of the official opposition, who is standing up and challenging the government and poking holes in the error of this legislation. All Canadians will be thankful for it.
- MPndpFeb 23, 2015 11:20 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are apparently considering selling off General Motors shares in order to balance the budget, even though Canadians would lose $600 million in the process.
Can the Minister of Finance tell us whether he is really planning to sell the GM shares at a loss in order to balance the upcoming budget?
- MPndpFeb 18, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, unemployment is up by 200,000 since before the recession, and somehow the minister thinks he is doing a good job.
The fact is we have seen so many plant closures on the Conservatives' watch that the sector cannot even take advantage now that we have a lower dollar. In order to help manufacturers compete and create jobs, we need to support investments in equipment and innovation, which is exactly what the NDP plan would do.
Why do the Conservatives refuse to support good middle-class jobs for Canadians?
- MPndpFeb 17, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
What is clear, Mr. Speaker, is that the Conservatives cannot be bothered to help ordinary Canadians, but they will bend over backwards to help the well off, even if it means turning a blind eye to tax evasion. Leaked documents show that more than 1,800 Canadians are holding secret Swiss bank accounts with HSBC, but there have been no charges of tax fraud or tax evasion.
Why are the Conservatives using kid gloves on wealthy tax cheats while ordering public servants to deny EI benefits to the unemployed?
- MPndpFeb 17, 2015 11:00 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to our nation's artists and cultural workers, many of whom call my riding of Parkdale—High Park home.
The arts and culture sector contributes $47.8 billion to the Canadian economy annually and strengthens communities by allowing us to share our stories and find new ways of understanding the world we live in.
Sadly, under the government, artists are struggling to have their contributions respected. Conservative cuts to Canadian Heritage, the CBC, Telefilm, the National Film Board, and Library and Archives Canada will have a negative and lasting impact.
Without a strategy for ensuring that Canadian content is present in the digital realm, producers are missing key opportunities, and Canadian stories and voices are being drowned out.
New Democrats respect our artists and are committed to supporting them with stable funding for our national institutions, reversing the cuts to the CBC, and fostering continued growth in the cultural sector.
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 2:35 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. That is indeed the question of the day. Why does the government want to take this power when other countries are satisfied with the independence of the legislative branch?
I do not understand this desire to consolidate this power. It makes no sense. It is a good question for the government. Once again, I encourage the government to support the amendment to its motion in order to preserve the independence of Parliament.
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 2:30 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if the hon. member who just asked the question has evidence that the person who attacked Parliament was a terrorist. Let him prove it.
- MPndpFeb 16, 2015 2:20 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Trois-Rivières.
I am very pleased to stand in this House and debate the motion today on House security, and it does take me back to that day in October. I am sure that the time when this place was in lockdown is on all of our minds. I remember very vividly being quite near the shooter and being ushered into a room by House security. I was standing outside in a corridor. They ushered me into a room for my safety, and then, unarmed, the security personnel went back out into the hallway to confront we knew not what. None of us knew what was going on out there.
I want to add my voice to those of the others in this place who are thanking the brave men and women in the House and Senate security forces who risked their lives to keep us safe on that fateful day. I think we owe them a great debt of gratitude.
I want to say that when the shooter got into this place, he had made it past the RCMP, who guard the outside of the premises here, and it was House security, under the leadership of Kevin Vickers, that stopped the shooter and kept us safe that day.
If the intent of the motion should come to pass and all security for this House, the Senate, and the parliamentary precinct come under the purview of the RCMP, there is nothing in the motion that in any way proves that this place would be one bit safer than it was before or that it would have made any difference in stopping the shooter on that fateful day in October.
I must object to the word in the motion that the Conservatives use in saying that the shooter was a terrorist. There has been no evidence produced to us in this place or in the public to prove that this person was a terrorist. Was he just a lone person who, for whatever reason, got it into his mind that he would do this, or was he in fact connected to some terrorist group? The Conservatives have presented no proof of the latter.
As well, I want to say at the beginning of my remarks how strongly I oppose the government enacting yet again another debate-limiting closure motion on this motion.
This will be the 87th time that the government has enacted closure and limited debate. There has been a grand total of six hours of debate on this very important change. It is a fundamental change that goes back to a system we have had in place since Confederation, one whose roots lie deep in the history of parliamentary democracy. That is what the Conservatives want to change: the origin of the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of this place. This is what is impacted here.
I also want to make the point that we are not opposed to the integration of security forces. Several speakers—in fact, most speakers—have repeated that point. In fact, the integration of parliamentary security was already taking place. As this House well knows, the Speaker announced in a bulletin on November 25, 2014, that in fact the implementation of the integration of a unified security force was under way. That was happening.
I want to again reinforce that we support this integration. We are not opposed to the idea of having an integrated security force operating all over the parliamentary precinct. We think that does make a lot of sense.
We are, of course, in favour of improvements that work to keep parliamentarians, staff, and visitors safe in this place. What we are opposed to is that all of the security of both Houses and of the parliamentary precinct would ultimately be under the control of the RCMP, which does not report to this House, as security does today, through the Speaker. It would report to the government.
This House is not a creature of the government. It is in fact a creature of the people of Canada. Parliament is different from the government. Parliament is all of the representatives of the people of Canada, and that is a very important distinction. That is why security in this House has always been separate and independent and has reported to the Speaker and not to the RCMP, which reports directly to the government of the day. That is a very important distinction.
I also want to object to the wording of the motion, which says “as recommended by the Auditor General in his 2012 report”. It kind of implies that this motion is acting on the AG's recommendation. I have read that AG's report, and the Auditor General, while recommending a unified and integrated security force, never once suggested that this should all come under the RCMP. That did not happen.
I would put forward to this House that this motion is misleading. It is taking advantage of a situation that demands action. We agree with action. Everyone agrees with action. However, it would take this action in a direction that would come under the complete control of the government. That is wrong. It is against our parliamentary tradition. It is against the independence of the Speaker and this House.
For that reason, we are not only opposing this motion. We want to support the intention of better security, better training, and better integration. It is for that reason that we have proposed an amendment. The amendment would be a strong improvement, because it would respect the powers of the respective Houses: the House of Commons and the Senate. It would respect those two Houses and the ultimate authority of the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons, who today have access and control over the security of Parliament, by ensuring the continued employment of our existing and respected parliamentary security staff. It is about the maintenance of the independent security staff. It is about the independence of the Speaker and his or her control over what happens in this House and therefore the control of the people of Canada over what happens in this House. Certainly, that can happen along with better integration, training, and coordination of those security forces.
We frankly do not see how this particular motion would, first, keep parliamentarians, senators, and Canadians any safer. Nothing is proven. Second, it seems that with its changes, it would be doing nothing more than transferring greater power to the government, rather than improving security for this place.
For these reasons, we believe that the amendment is a much stronger and much improved approach to security in this place. We urge all parliamentarians to support the amendment so that we can get on with the work of better security here, ultimately with the goal we all share of better representation for the Canadian people.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Sadly, that vampire is in charge of job creation and he is not doing the job today, Mr. Speaker. Maybe some vegetarians should get involved.
The Conservatives also have no plan to replace the more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost under their watch. That is 400,000 well-paid jobs that once put food on family tables and life in the communities.
The NDP has presented a plan to boost investments in manufacturing and create good middle-class jobs for generations to come.
Why do the Conservatives refuse to support action? Why do they refuse to create good jobs for Canadians?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 11:25 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, Target started liquidating its inventory today. It is liquidating everything: toys, clothes and 18,000 employees. Thousands of people will end up jobless, all because this government is incapable of diversifying the economy and protecting jobs.
Will this government face the facts, admit that its economic management has failed and adopt the NDP's plan to support the middle class and promote job creation?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 7:20 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, if the member believes that there is a trademark on the term “middle class” and that it somehow belongs to his party, I think the rest of the world is unaware of it.
Our leader genuinely comes from the middle class. He is a perfect example of someone who has worked hard all his life and has joined the middle class. That is why he is fighting so hard for the middle class.
If the member's comments indicate that he is going to be supporting our motion, I would really welcome that. It would be a welcome change, because I noted that when his leader was in London, Ontario, he urged that community to transition away from the manufacturing sector. If now he is in favour of the manufacturing sector, we think that is a positive step forward. Perhaps, then, we just need our colleagues across the aisle, in the Conservative Party, to join us, and we can pass the motion, get the Minister of Finance to bring in a budget, and finally get something done for Canadians here.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 7:15 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I should first acknowledge that I regret using the proper name of our leader. It is just that he is such a great leader, I guess I got over-enthusiastic and got carried away. I thank my colleague for correcting that.
Let me address the question of the member opposite. Perhaps she misunderstood the point of my speech, which was that Canada has historically been a land of opportunity. People come to Canada, as my grandparents and parents did, from all over the world, because they believe that Canada is a land of opportunity where one can, through hard work, through study, and through effort, move up economically in the world. Sadly, as a result of the actions of her government, people are less and less able to make that move.
Let me just give her a couple of facts, because maybe she has been unaware of them. There are nearly 1.3 million Canadians today who are unemployed. Another 4,300 lost their jobs in December. Employment growth in 2014 was a mere 1%, which is almost nothing. Clearly, our economy is stalling, and employment growth is not even keeping up with our population growth.
Clearly, a lot of Canadians are struggling right now. We do not think that should be the case. We believe that Canadians ought to have opportunities and jobs and the ability to move into the middle class. We do not know what she would have against that.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 7:05 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
That the House call on the government to take immediate action to build a balanced economy, support the middle class and encourage manufacturing and small business job creation by: (a) extending the accelerated capital cost allowance by two years; (b) reducing the small business income tax rate from 11% to 10% immediately, and then to 9% when finances permit; and (c) introducing an Innovation Tax Credit to support investment in machinery, equipment and property to further innovation and increase productivity.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.
I am very pleased to begin the debate today on our motion, which calls on the government to take immediate action to build a balanced economy, support the middle class and encourage manufacturing and small business job creation.
A defining feature of Canada is a strong middle class. It is something we value, something we want our children to aspire to, and it is the most important economic asset we have in Canada.
Sadly, over the years of Conservative government, Canada has lost more than 400,000 good manufacturing jobs. These jobs have often been replaced by jobs in the service and retail industries, many of which have not paid nearly as well, and have been very precarious and insecure. Now many of these jobs are being lost.
What I see in my community, in Parkdale—High Park, and all over Toronto is families that are struggling to make everything work. They may have jobs, but they are spending so much on housing, whether it is rent or a mortgage, and they are spending so much on child care and everything else, that they do not have any savings or, worse, they have more debt than they have income.
Some families had good jobs with decent pensions and benefits, many in the manufacturing sector, but now they are working two or three jobs, none with benefits, never mind the pension.
More than 200,000 more Canadians are out of work now than before the recession, and job growth is not even keeping up with our population growth. The Conservatives have doled out big tax cuts to big business, and now they are proposing more tax cuts to the wealthiest 15% of Canadian families. What about the 85% of Canadian families? What about everybody else who is only just barely getting by?
That is why Tom Mulcair's NDP is fighting for the middle class and fighting for the majority of Canadians. That is who we are standing up for.
Today we are calling on the government to support the middle class with concrete actions instead of empty words and tax breaks for wealthy families.
We need to strengthen the traditional sectors, such as resource extraction and manufacturing, while taking advantage of new opportunities for innovation and growth. The NDP is calling for immediate action to support Canada's manufacturing base and is sending a message to investors that an NDP government will lead the Canadian manufacturing sector into a new era.
Today, our motion in Parliament is to take immediate action to build a balanced economy, support the middle class, and encourage manufacturing and small business job creation. Our practical plan would extend the accelerated capital cost allowance by two years and reduce the small business tax rate from 11% to 10% immediately, and down to 9% when finances permit. That is the prudent way.
We are calling for the introduction of an innovation tax credit to support investment in machinery and equipment and to help many to further innovate and increase productivity. All these measures would make a difference now to diversify the economy and encourage investment in the Canadian manufacturing sector.
Let us talk about small businesses. I make a point in my community of buying local whenever I can, everything from food to supplies for my house to clothing. I talk to small business owners who are always trying to find new ways to reach customers, to promote their products, to reach and expand into other neighbours.
Giving them a tax break, cutting back on their taxes, would put money into their pockets. It is something my friends across the aisle are always advocating, putting more money back into people's pockets. It would help small businesses expand and help them hire. That is the whole point. They are the job creators.
Government should support our motion today to help small businesses, which make up 98% of all the businesses in Canada. It should help them use their money to grow and expand. Small businesses create jobs and are invested in our communities. They enrich and diversify our communities.
Ninety percent of Canadian exporters are small businesses, and they help build our Canadian brand as high quality, highly innovative, and highly technical manufacturers in many cases.
Let us talk about manufacturing. Clearly the government has failed the manufacturing sector. What Canada needs is a government committed to cutting-edge, advanced manufacturing that looks to energy efficiency and sustainability in sectors where Canada is or could be a global leader; but sadly, it has failed.
There have been some measures that look good on paper, like the advanced manufacturing fund, until we see that actually it is slow moving and inflexible and has not released one single penny. That is some support for the manufacturing sector.
Meanwhile the Conservative government has cut hundreds of millions of dollars of support for business innovation while putting all its economic eggs in one basket, in the oil and gas sector. However, now oil prices are dropping, and most likely this sector will shed capital spending and cut jobs. Because the government has shown no interest in encouraging a diverse economy, our manufacturing sector cannot just pick up the slack.
After years of neglect, this sector has been left without the capacity it needs to increase production and take advantage of the low dollar to boost sales. We need a government committed to boosting the manufacturing sector, like most advanced countries around the world. Germany, South Korea, Brazil, and most advanced economies are fighting for their manufacturing sectors, standing up for small business. We need the government to finally wake up and start taking action.
Today is an important day. It is when members have the opportunity to stand up and be counted. Are members in the House going to stand up for Canada's middle class? Are they going to stand up for the manufacturing sector? Are they going to stand up for innovation and job creation? Are they going to stand up for small businesses in towns, cities, and communities right across this country? Every member has the chance to stand up and be counted. I urge every one of my colleagues to vote in favour of this important motion today.
- MPndpFeb 04, 2015 11:35 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, a lot of these workers are part-time, and they do not qualify for EI. That is the problem they have created.
Job losses are mounting, retail stores are closing, and the Conservatives have no plan and no budget. A hundred and thirty-three Target stores start liquidation tomorrow. Seventeen thousand, six hundred people are losing their jobs. Hundreds of other retail stores are closing, thousands more jobs will be lost, and the minister thinks if he just ignores it, it will go away. Well, it will not.
Canadians need a plan. Where is their plan?
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 11:45 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Talk about quality information, Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' decision to cancel the mandatory long form census was cynical and irresponsible and they are refusing to bring it back out of sheer stubbornness. Policy-makers, business leaders, city planners, and health officials are all warning that they do not have the detailed census data they need to do their jobs. They need the facts.
What could the minister possibly have against evidence-based policy?
- MPndpFeb 03, 2015 11:40 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, another bad Conservative decision was the elimination of the long form census, a decision that has hurt municipalities and provinces, which lack data for development planning.
As Statistics Canada prepares its next census, now is the time for the Conservatives to admit that they were wrong and to restore the long form census.
Will they do so?
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
No, no, Mr. Speaker, let us get the math right: two-thirds of the funds for infrastructure are spent by provinces and municipalities, but they only receive half the tax revenues.
Infrastructure keeps our cities safe and functioning, and it drives the economy. The funding cuts by both Conservative and Liberal governments have left our cities badly in need of investment, and now we have a minister from Toronto who says that it would be crazy to improve infrastructure.
Does the minister really believe that Torontonians deserve nothing better than gridlock and crumbling infrastructure?
- MPndpJan 30, 2015 10:25 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on the motion of my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River. I want to thank her for all of her work on eliminating child poverty, the subject of the motion today.
Because this is the second hour of debate, I would like to refer to the text of the motion, which reads:
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should work in collaboration with the provinces, territories and First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to eradicate child poverty in Canada by developing a national poverty reduction plan that includes: (a) making housing more affordable for lower income Canadians; (b) ensuring accessible and affordable child care; (c) addressing childhood nutrition; (d) improving economic security of families; (e) measures that specifically address the unique needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities; and (f) measurable targets and time lines.
In other words, it is about accountability.
It has been 25 years since Ed Broadbent's motion aimed at ending child poverty was passed unanimously by the House, and yet successive Conservative and Liberal governments have failed to act on this promise. With almost one million children living in poverty, almost half of whom are indigenous, surely it is time to end child poverty.
Dr. David Hulchanski, a professor in Toronto and a constituent of mine, has documented very precisely what is happening with the declining middle class and the growing polarization in our city of Toronto. He calls it a “three city” situation, where some at the very top are getting more wealthy, an increasingly shrinking group is staying at about the same level, and a growing number of people are falling further and further behind.
Childhood poverty is costly not only for the children affected in terms of their childhood experience of inequality, but also in terms of lost potential and social costs.
I should point out that Canada ranks 23rd on child poverty among countries in the OECD, which is a shameful record. If we want to set records, surely this is not one. One out of seven children in Canada lives in poverty, but if one is born aboriginal, there is a two in five chance that one will live in poverty. These are shameful numbers.
UNICEF Canada has written a report and recommends creating a children's commissioner and making the UN convention on child poverty enforceable in court. Canada ratified this international agreement in 1991, but progress remains very slow and spotty.
The UNICEF report makes a number of recommendations worth noting. As I said, one is to make the convention enforceable in courts. It also recommends developing a national action plan aimed at bringing Canada into compliance with the UN convention; holding a parliamentary review on the recommendations of the UN committee on child rights and the recommendation of the Senate's report on children; and including in child protection legislation everyone under the age of 18; and developing a program to educate children and others on the convention rights.
I would like to speak specifically to the subelements of this motion.
First, there is an alarming situation now from the lack of affordable housing. There are 92,000 people in Toronto on the waiting list for housing. In my community of Parkdale—High Park, we see families who have to make the gut-wrenching decision to either pay the rent or put food on the table. They are going to keep a roof over their heads, and therefore we have community kitchens and food banks bursting at the seams. A number of children go to school hungry every day. This is shocking in a city as wealthy as Toronto.
I see families with two or three kids living in a one bedroom apartment because that is all they can afford. I see people living in Toronto community housing in substandard housing with serious maintenance problems with mould, water leakage, and appliances that do not work.
There are buildings in our community where the elevators do not work. We have serious problems.
We also have problems with the lack of effective rent control legislation, and companies get around the legislation. They get people out of the buildings and jack up the rent. The upshot is that people cannot afford to find a decent place to live. There is an explosion of new homes being built, but they are mainly private condos. Low-income people do not have the ability to buy these condos, and there is no affordable housing being built for them.
We also have a problem with co-ops that are finishing their housing agreements. These are not going to be renewed. We have people who were getting a subsidy, who were able to live in a decent place, a co-operative housing development, because they got a bit of a subsidy, and those subsidies have been lost. That is a huge dilemma for many in the city of Toronto.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives have abandoned their social housing responsibilities. One in four Canadian households, that is 1.5 million Canadians, families and individuals, spend more than a third of their income on housing. Canada is the only G8 country without a strategy for affordable housing. It was under the previous Liberal government that the national housing plan was abandoned. It is shocking that in a northern country, with such high needs, we do not have effective housing or even a plan to get to that housing.
When it comes to public spending on child care and early learning, Canada ranks last among developed and comparable countries. For years Liberal and Conservative governments have ignored this pressing need of Canadian families. There are over 900,000 kids in need of care in Canada, with no access to quality, affordable, child care spaces. The Conservatives promised 125,000 new spaces, but just like the Liberals, they did not create one single space.
In my community, child care spaces can run up to $2,000 per month, per child, which is clearly far out of the reach of most families. Noted economist Pierre Fortin has said that the Quebec model of child care, which is affordable, accessible, and high quality, has allowed more than 70,000 mothers to join the workforce and generate the return of $1.75 for every dollar spent on child care. That is clearly an important investment.
When it comes to indigenous children, they are the fastest growing demographic in our country. Investments made to reduce indigenous child poverty would have huge benefits for Canada. We have alarming rates of poverty and huge housing problems. Even Mike Holmes is saying that we have to build better quality houses for indigenous communities. It would be a better investment and more cost-effective. They also face huge food security issues, far more so than people do in the south.
I remember that noted Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, in answer to the question, “What is the best thing Canada can do to create innovation, boost our economy, and boost competitiveness and job creation?”, said to invest in children. Invest in child care. Invest in post-secondary education. Invest in kids. That is the best bet for a strong, innovative economy.
We want the federal government to make the elimination of child poverty a priority. We need to develop an anti-poverty plan with timelines and measurable benchmarks that would include the key components of taking on the crisis of poverty for indigenous children, making housing more affordable for lower-income Canadians, creating an early childhood and childhood education program, addressing childhood nutrition, and improving the overall economic security of Canada. We owe Canadians no less. It is our duty as parliamentarians to act. We should all be supporting this important motion.
- MPndpJan 30, 2015 9:50 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, my question is about the oversight of CSIS. Bill C-44 would give significant new powers to CSIS, yet significant new oversight is not proposed.
In fact, I remember that when I was finance critic, in one of the many omnibus budget bills the Conservative government brought forward, one of the provisions was to eliminate the position of inspector general, the person charged with full-time oversight of CSIS. We heard expert testimony—ironically at the finance committee, even though it was a national security issue—from the person who had been in charge of setting up the machinery of CSIS when it was first created. The witness warned the government not to remove that position because it was the government's eyes and ears on CSIS. The witness said it was the only way the government could prevent the people charged with securing and protecting the public, people who had unique powers, from not exceeding their powers.
Would the member comment on the lack of oversight of CSIS, especially now that the government wants to increase the powers of CSIS?
- MPndpJan 30, 2015 8:25 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, that is why the Prime Minister is not at the first ministers meeting? That makes no sense.
In October, I wrote to the Minister of Industry urging him to seek commitments to protect Canadian jobs, but instead he signed off on a deal to fire 20% of the workers at Tim Hortons headquarters. This week, 350 employees lost their jobs, and the minister has the gall to claim somehow it is good news for Canada. He even makes up job numbers.
Why does the minister repeatedly fail to protect Canadian jobs?
- MPndpJan 29, 2015 2:30 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise on this bill today. Bill C-626 concerns the Statistics Act and Statistics Canada.
I am glad to follow on the heels of my colleague on the government side because, frankly, the government has such a sorry record of denying science, ignoring evidence and silencing experts with whom it disagrees. It is more prone to ideologically based decisions rather than evidence based decisions, and the evidence of it stifling science is just proof of that.
Many of my constituents in Parkdale—High Park have contacted me. They are very concerned about the impact on the quality of the statistics in Canada and their impact on the important social programs that we deliver in Canada. They include everything from immigration and refugee policy and labour statistics, right down to whether we will charge fees for certain programs in local communities across the country.
The bill we are debating today follows on the heels of bills from two NDP colleagues during the government's time, my colleagues from London—Fanshawe and Windsor West. They introduced similar bills. It really comes down to the fact that the New Democrats believe in good data. We believe it is essential to have good data to make government work. Having good data allows a government to effectively target and evaluate programs in order to improve service quality and lower the cost of the programs we deliver.
The NDP fought tooth and nail to prevent the Conservatives from eliminating the long-form census. The NDP believes that the long-form census must be restored in order to provide social scientists, governments and business with the data they need.
Here is a brief bit of history. The modern census was created in 1971. It was taken every fifth year until 2006, and it included some very short, basic questions, such as age and marital status, as well as some longer questions on housing and socio-economic factors. Response to the census was mandatory, and it carried penalties, including fines and possible imprisonment, for failing to respond or knowingly providing false information. This was to ensure the integrity of the data, so people filled it out completely and accurately.
In June, 2010, the Government of Canada quietly announced that it would be eliminating the long-form census without any consultation with stakeholders, the users, or even government agencies, and it replaced it with a voluntary survey, the national household survey. This created a huge uproar from municipalities, researchers and others, including the chief statistician, who ended up resigning when the long-form census was replaced.
In the past, these mandatory surveys typically had a response rate of about 94%. That is a very high response rate. In contrast, the voluntary survey has a response rate of 68%. That is a lot of missing data. We are finding that rural communities are especially under-represented. There are also certain parts of the country out west, east and north, as well as first nations communities, and some very low and high-income people not filling out the census.
Under the mandatory census—and I remind my Conservative colleague across the aisle about this—not one person has ever gone to jail for not filling out the mandatory census. This census had a 94% response rate. There are a couple of people who refused to fill out the form because they disagreed with certain government policies and it went to court, but they were not convicted. Someone else received mandatory community service as a result of not filling it out, but not one person ever went to jail.
The Conservatives eliminating the long form census to avoid mandatory prison sentences was completely irrelevant. It is a red herring.
It seems as though the intended consequence is that we would not have reliable statistics telling us that in fact inequality in Canada is rising. We do not know the level of labour force participation on first nation reserves. We cannot tell where social programs would be best implemented and be most effective because we cannot get proper, accurate, up-to-date data.
Other countries have tried to eliminate their long form census. None has replaced it with a voluntary census, as this government has done. That is a big waste of money right there. The U.S. tried it, but found the data so unreliable it went back to the mandatory census. What do they know that these guys are ignoring?
We are finding that not only are the data unreliable and the results poor, but it also costs more than a mandatory census did. That is unbelievable. These guys are such bad managers. The Auditor General has reported that the national household survey, their voluntary survey, cost $30 million more than the mandatory census, not including the $22 million that was spent to switch over to the new format. These guys are great at spending money, at losing money and wasting money for nothing. That money could have been more effectively invested in creating jobs, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in helping young people and taking people out of poverty. I do not know what makes these guys tick.
It is not just New Democrats who are criticizing the government on this. In the Report On Business in today's The Globe and Mail there is an article by Tavia Grant. She says:
The cancellation of the mandatory long-form census has damaged research in key areas, from how immigrants are doing in the labour market to how the middle class is faring, while making it more difficult for cities to ensure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely, planners and researchers say.
She also references in the private sector the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, whose network represents 200,000 businesses across the country. It is publicly calling on the federal government to restore the mandatory long form census. We have been saying this all along.
She also goes on to say:
It’s now tougher to know whether free programs, such as swimming lessons or skills training, are being offered in the most high-need communities. It’s more difficult to plan subsidized child care. And there are now “huge gaps” in the ability to understand health trends in... [populations].
It is affecting city finances, because cities have to spend extra money to buy data privately, rather than having access to good-quality, more cost-effective public data. The government is downloading. It makes no sense.
Let me just conclude by saying that New Democrats believe that good data is essential to make government work. We also believe in science, unlike our counterparts across the aisle. We believe that good data allows government to effectively target and evaluate programs and thus improve the service quality while lowering costs.
We fought tooth and nail to prevent the Conservatives from eliminating the long form census. We believe the long form census must be restored to provide social scientists, governments, and businesses the data they need.
We also believe that the world is not flat. It is round, and we believe that greenhouse gas emissions are being created by the activity of people in the world. We know some really good scientists who could help our counterparts on the other side understand these things.
- MPndpJan 29, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, except that none of this is working because we still have persistently high unemployment in the country.
The Conservatives have watched while over 400,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared and middle-class families in southwestern Ontario are paying the price: 800 at John Deere in Welland; 2,000 at GM in Oshawa; 2,500 at Ford and Sterling in St. Thomas.
The tax writedown on new manufacturing equipment is expected to expire at the end of this year. How can manufacturers invest and create middle-class jobs when the finance minister is delaying the budget and leaving them in limbo?
- MPndpJan 28, 2015 11:40 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, again the Conservatives are in denial, but the New Democrats have a plan to help Canadian families. The Conservatives' low-wage strategy has meant not only the loss of 400,000 good manufacturing jobs but lost opportunities to create thousands of new ones. Billions of dollars in new product-line investments have just passed us by.
The New Democrats have proposed a concrete plan to attract investments in innovation and create good jobs for Canadians. When will the Conservatives get on board, stop the decline, and invest in the next generation of good middle-class jobs?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 2:10 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
Times are very tough for hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers from not only the manufacturing sector, but also many other sectors.
This government does not really have a plan to help these workers. It has made cuts to EI and it cut assistance to manufacturers. It said that the market will decide and will sort itself out, but during tough economic times like these ones we need the government to show some leadership, support the economy and employers, and create jobs.
Unemployed workers have no hope right now. Many families are suffering because of the lack of jobs and because of the layoffs we are seeing across the country.
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 2:05 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was just going to say that workers in the manufacturing sector, whether it is in Ontario, in Quebec, or wherever in Canada, can certainly count on New Democrats to support their sector and not say or imply that somehow it is a sector of the past.
However, let me say more than that. When we are in difficult times, when finances appear to be different from what they were expected to be some months back, we need to look for ways of saving money. There are some pretty obvious ways. One, of course, would be for all parties to support the New Democrats' call to abolish the Senate. That would certainly save a significant amount of money.
However, I would also call the government's attention to the more than $100 million it has spent on government advertizing, which borders on partisanship, to support its approach to the economy, which, quite frankly, I think is offensive to so many Canadians.
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 1:55 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be joining this debate today, speaking about what many Canadians, and indeed people around the world, have on their minds, which is the state of the economy. The motion that has been presented by the official opposition finance critic is a very important one, and it calls on the government to present an economic and fiscal update to Parliament so that we all, on behalf of Canadians, can find out the state of our economic affairs.
The motion says that “...in light of the unstable economic situation, including job losses, falling oil prices, and declining government revenues...” we need to know exactly what is going on with the nation's finances. Further, the motion calls on the government to “...prepare a budget that addresses the economic challenges facing the middle class by creating more good-quality full-time jobs, and by encouraging economic diversification”.
There has been indeed a lot of discussion about the middle class. What does that mean? Who is middle class? What does a middle-class lifestyle mean?
A lot of working people across this country know what a middle-class lifestyle is. They know that it means having a good job that can pay their bills, that can give them enough money to pay for a decent place to live, that can allow them to support their family, that provides benefits for them, and that can help them one day look forward to a secure retirement. People know that the middle-class lifestyle also depends on access to quality health care.
As the member for Hull—Aylmer who just spoke said, of course our medicare system was pioneered by New Democrats, by Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan and by New Democrats here in the House of Commons, and it is one of the public programs that best guarantees a middle-class, secure life, which of course has been undermined by governments, including the current government and previous governments.
However, one of the things we most need to talk about right now is the state of the country's finances, given the rapid decline of resource prices, especially oil and gas prices, and what that means to the state of our budget.
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 11:30 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs have disappeared.
Middle-class families have to resort to taking underpaid and unstable jobs because the Conservatives are incapable of diversifying our economy. With the downturn in the oil industry, we see the extent of the damage caused by the Conservatives.
Why are they refusing to do something to diversify our economy and stimulate job creation in the manufacturing sector?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 11:25 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, we have lost more than half a million manufacturing jobs over the last decade and southern Ontario has been rocked by plant closures in recent years. The Conservatives have just stood by, while the Liberal leader says it is time to give up. They are both wrong. We can kick-start manufacturing in Canada but we need action now to boost investment and create jobs.
Will the Conservatives adopt our plan to help create the next generation of well-paying manufacturing jobs for Canadians?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 12:20 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
With regard to government funding: for each fiscal year from 2011-2012 to present, (a) what are the details of all grants, contributions, and loans to any organization, body, or group in the electoral district of Parkdale—High Park, providing for each (i) the name of the recipient, (ii) the location of the recipient, indicating the municipality, (iii) the date, (iv) the amount, (v) the department or agency providing it, (vi) the program under which the grant, contribution, or loan was made, (vii) the nature or purpose; and (b) for each grant, contribution and loan identified in (a), was a press release issued to announce it and, if so, what is the (i) date, (ii) headline, (iii) file number of the press release?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 12:15 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
With regard to Canada Post: (a) what are the details of the five-point turnaround plan to put Canada Post on track for financial sustainability by 2020; (b) what is the annual budget for advertising campaigns, broken down by (i) medium, (ii) region, (iii) product or service line, (iv) any additional internal categories used not included in this question; (c) what are the internal metrics for measuring success of any advertising outlined in (b); and (d) what is the cost of any advertising campaigns from (b) in (i) fiscal year 2012-2013, (ii) fiscal year 2013-2014, (iii) fiscal year-to-date 2014-2015?
- MPndpDec 12, 2014 8:30 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, the new Union-Pearson express will cost over $27 each way and is using dirty diesel trains. That is a pretty sorry excuse for public transit.
Gridlock is costing our city $6 billion a year. Infrastructure throughout the province is in desperate need of repair, but instead of working together in the interests of Ontarians, Conservatives and Liberals are waging a partisan war of words.
Why are the needs of Canadians taking a back seat to the Conservatives' childish battles with the provinces?
- MPndpDec 12, 2014 7:15 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, who has asked a very important question.
In my riding, High Park, there is an outdoor school. It is very important for kids who live in the city. Often, people cannot afford to vacation in Muskoka because it is very expensive. For children, this outdoor school is a chance to learn about the importance of nature conservation.
I recently took part in a walk through a park to observe bats. It was so important and so interesting for the kids. It is very important that we protect the environment, not only for today, but also for the future of our children.
- MPndpDec 12, 2014 7:05 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak this morning on a very important subject, which is the creation of the Rouge national urban park. We are at third reading of Bill C-40, and I have to say that I am very saddened today that my colleagues and I will not be supporting this bill. While we believe that it is extremely important that we create this first national urban park, we are very distressed at how the Conservatives are doing it. We believe that they have fallen far short of what is expected and needed in the creation of this park.
Let me say that I am very proud to have in my riding of Parkdale—High Park the largest existing park in the city of Toronto, High Park. It was created by the very visionary John and Jemima Howard, who set out clear boundaries and responsibilities for this park. They were absolutely adamant that this park should exist for all time for the free use of the public and that the integrity, ecology, and environment of the park needed to be protected while recognizing that it would be an urban park and a multi-use park.
I want to publicly thank the Friends of High Park Nature Centre for its stewardship of this magnificent jewel on the waterfront of Toronto. All seasons of the year, this park is warmly treasured by people from Toronto and those who come from abroad, whether it is for the cherry trees blossoming in the spring or for skating on Grenadier Pond in the winter or other sports activities. It is a wonderful urban space.
I also want to recognize that the Humber River is the western border of the riding of Parkdale—High Park. It is the only federal urban heritage river. It is an important historic and ecological major waterway. The watershed of the Humber River stretches from the highlands far north of the city of Toronto. It is a very important waterway. Sadly, the federal government has undermined the protection of this river by changes it has made to environmental protection. Specifically, it has removed all of the Humber River, except the mouth of the river, from the Navigation Protection Act and federal environmental protection, which is very troubling.
I would like to thank my colleague from York South—Weston. He and I are working to have this river reinstated in the Navigation Protection Act because of its importance. We believe it is very shortsighted to remove the protections from the Humber River. We are working hard to try to get that reinstated.
I come from a perspective of someone who understands that when one is living in a city and has these treasures, one recognizes that they are a bit different from very remote parks and heritage areas because of their settings. People can get to the Humber River and High Park by subway in downtown Toronto, so they are very different from other protected areas.
The Rouge national urban park would certainly be the largest park in the city. It would be one of the largest parks in North America and the only national park that can be accessed by public transit. It is a unique situation. The government is still trying to assemble the land, but it is land that is already in use. There is farming. There are hydro rights-of-way. There are roads. There already are activities in this area.
Like High Park, in my neighbourhood, no one is expecting that this will be absolutely 100% pristine wilderness. It will not be. It will be special, because it will be an urban park.
We are strongly in favour of creating more parks, but we are most strongly in favour of protecting the ecological health of these national parks. We have to get this right. To do this, we need strong environmental legislation that recognizes that this is a multi-use urban park and that makes its ecology an absolute first priority.
The Rouge national urban park would be very rich. It has a diversity of ecosystems, including a rare Carolinian forest, numerous species at risk, and many agricultural and cultural heritage resources, including a national historic site and some of Canada's oldest known aboriginal historic sites and villages. It is a very special place.
This bill, because we are dealing with the first national urban park, would create a precedent. It would be a model for protecting other areas in urban settings. We need to get this right. This is a stand-alone bill that has been created just for this park. We have the opportunity, unlike with the grab bag of legislation that is thrown into omnibus bills, to study this bill in detail.
The result of Bill C-40, I am sad to say, would be to create weaker protections for Rouge Park than exist for all other national parks in Canada. They are weaker protections, in fact, than the provincial legislative framework that exists already for the park. Yes, it is an urban setting, but there is already a provincial framework that exists that should be improved rather than undermined.
In fact, the Ontario provincial government is refusing to transfer land to the federal government for the creation of this park. Why? It believes that the land would be jeopardized. To be included in the park, it wants to have stronger protections, not weaker protections, and it believes that the protection the province is offering will be stronger. That is why it is saying it is not going to transfer this land if it is going to undermine its ecological integrity.
I want to point out a key point here. The Canada National Parks Act already says:
Maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes, shall be the first priority of the Minister when considering all aspects of the management of parks.
That exists in the existing parks legislation.
This bill would undermine it by saying that it must only “take into consideration” the ecosystems. There is nothing that gives it priority, that gives it precedence, over anything else.
We have tried to amend the bill. We proposed a number of changes. There was one key proposal that would have recognized that yes, there is farming, and yes, that farming would continue, but the ecological integrity would have to be respected. The Conservatives rejected all of this. We are very sad about this.
Because all of our amendments were rejected, we have been forced to create our own private member's bill that calls for the creation of a Rouge national park. It would incorporate the same national protections other parks have. It has broad support from environmental organizations, local community groups, and residents. I want to salute them, because they have worked and fought so hard to get this park created. They are heartbroken at what they see is this bill undermining the ecological integrity of this very prized piece of land.
We had to create our own bill that says that we support the Rouge Park vision, goals, and objectives and that we want to preserve the ecological integrity of this plan.
Sadly, my time is up, but I would be happy to answer questions.
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 11:05 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House today to mark the silver jubilee anniversary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Nobel Prize for peace. I look forward to joining the Tibetan community this weekend to celebrate this special occasion.
In 1989, His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace for his non-violent struggle for freedom in Tibet. Sadly, the situation in his home has only become worse. At least 133 Tibetans have self-immolated since 2009.
The Dalai Lama continues to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the Tibetan issue through dialogue and mutual respect, even in the face of such tragedy. I urge our government to engage China on the issue of Tibet and to urge the Chinese to re-enter the dialogue with envoys of the Dalai Lama based on his “middle way” approach.
I also want to wish all of us here who are privileged to work in Canada's Parliament happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas, and the very best of the holiday season.
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 7:15 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in support of Bill C-356, to create a national strategy for dementia.
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 7:10 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, the third petition calls on the Government of Canada to end its muzzling of scientists and to reverse the cuts to research programs in a variety of government departments and agencies.
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 1:20 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions today from my constituents in Parkdale—High Park. The first calls on the government to restore full environmental protection to the Humber River and to support Bill C-502.
The second petition calls on the House to support the NDP climate change accountability act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to hold the government accountable.
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 12:05 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, the federal Conservatives and the Ontario Liberals have more in common than they care to admit. Yesterday, the Auditor General's report revealed that the Liberal government wasted nearly $8 billion on the extra costs of public-private partnerships. That is no small change, yet in spite of this evidence, the Conservatives are forcing municipalities to go to public-private partnerships for local infrastructure, adding time and costs to badly needed construction projects.
Are the Conservatives really happy following the Liberal example of misspending billions on P3s?
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 12:00 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, it seems the federal Conservatives and the Ontario Liberals have more in common than they care to admit. Yesterday's Auditor General report—
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 11:15 am | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, Parkdale—High Park, the riding that I represent, is home to many women who come to Canada through the live-in caregiver program.
They leave their families behind to come here and look after our children and our relatives, but this government does not care about their safety. Instead of addressing the vulnerability and precariousness caused by their status here, the government would rather keep these women from building a life by imposing caps on applications for permanent residency.
The government should address the real issues these women face, such as exploitation and unsafe working conditions that are the result of employer-tied work permits and high recruitment fees. Only then will caregivers be safe in Canada, something every person in this country deserves.
- MPndpDec 09, 2014 2:25 pm | Ontario, Parkdale—High Park
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support this legislation put forward by my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie. I want to thank him for his excellent work on cycling safety. This is an issue near and dear to my heart.
Bill C-603 would make side guards mandatory for heavy trucks manufactured in Canada or imported into Canada. As my colleague from Guelph has said, it is about encouraging people to cycle and about encouraging better cycling safety.
Canada should be looking at greater cycling infrastructure, so that we are encouraging people to cycle. I put forward a motion calling on the government to have a national strategy to encourage cycling infrastructure in communities across Canada.
People have to know that they can cycle safely, and installing side guards on heavy trucks would make cycling safer. It would save lives. Too many tragic accidents have taken place in communities across the country. In 2011, there was a tragic case in my own community. A mom was on her way to pick up her five-year old son from school. She was expecting a second child. She was making a right hand turn at a corner in our neighbourhood and a truck clipped her as it was turning that same corner. She fell under the back wheels of the truck as it turned right and suffered massive head injuries as a result. Whenever there is a collision between a truck and a cyclist, the cyclist will never win. Jenna Morrison was killed that day. Obviously, it was a terrible tragedy for Jenna's family and for our entire community.
We have been calling for mandatory side guards on heavy trucks for many years now. Our former colleague Olivia Chow from Trinity—Spadina worked tirelessly on this issue. There was a similar case in her riding involving a young cyclist who was making a right hand turn at Dundas and Spadina. She was clipped by a truck and suffered massive injuries as she fell under the rear wheels.
Side guards would push the cyclist away from the truck rather than allowing the individual to fall into the truck and be crushed by the rear wheels. A cyclist might be injured falling on the street, falling on a sidewalk, or falling into a parked car but would not be crushed to death by falling under the rear wheels of a truck.
For years, other countries have heeded the call for mandatory side guards because they have seen the totally unnecessary deaths of cyclists and pedestrians by heavy trucks. A study in the United Kingdom found that side guards reduced the number of deaths in accidents where cyclists were hit by the side of a truck by 61%. Two-thirds of the cycling deaths were reduced.
The Chief Coroner for Ontario has reaffirmed a 1998 recommendation to install side guards on trucks, believing it would have a positive effect on cycling safety. The coroner for Quebec published a report in 2014, which showed that cyclists would be prevented from being killed by rear truck tires. A 2010 report by the National Research Council of Canada called for side guards to be mandatory on trucks. They are already mandatory in the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Japan, and they have been adopted by several regions and municipalities throughout Canada.
The question is why this is not done nationally. Why not ensure that Canadians, cyclists and pedestrians right across Canada, are protected?
Why would the government not want to do the best for pedestrians and cyclists everywhere in our country? I have not heard a good argument from the other side.
A ministry of transport report said that it was inconclusive. Yet, surely, when so many jurisdictions have brought in this measure and are saying, demonstrably, that this has reduced cycling and pedestrian deaths, why we would not do that here is frankly unbelievable.
It is the government's responsibility to set safety standards for vehicles manufactured in Canada, but it should also bring in this measure for vehicles that are imported as well.
We know there are many validators of this position for mandatory truck side guards.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has said that FCM would like to reiterate its concern and stress the importance of countermeasures, such as side guards, to improve the safety of vulnerable road users; that would include pedestrians and cyclists.
As I said, the Chief Coroner for Ontario said that side guards should be made mandatory for heavy trucks in Canada. That is pretty clear-cut.
The Quebec coroner said that a lateral safety barrier would have prevented the head of Mathilde Blais, a young cyclist, from coming under the truck's internal tire. The conclusion was that it was a preventable accidental death.
The United States National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that both newly manufactured truck trailers and old trailers be equipped with side under ride protection systems to better protect people from fatalities and serious injuries.
Seriously, I do not understand why the government would not bring this in. It is no cost to the federal government. It is actually a low cost measure that trucking companies could bring in. It is a low cost measure that would practically save lives. It is a basic responsibility of government to ensure that it brings in protective measures to ensure the lives of Canadians are protected.
We have been calling for this for over eight years. In that time, we have seen the lives of far too many cyclists and pedestrians taken. We think that should stop.
We have seen that the number of cyclists is rising across the country. I know in my city the expectation is that the number of people who will bike to work on a daily basis is likely to increase from 1.7% to 5% by 2016. It means a lot more cyclists will be on the roads. We need to have the safest measures possible to ensure they are protected.
When other jurisdictions have already taken this on, as it is a proven measure that saves lives, it frankly is unbelievable that we would not take action here. It is a no-cost measure for the government. We have seen a total of 19% of cycling fatalities across the country involving heavy trucks. We have also seen that a number of cycling deaths, probably 50% or 60%, would be prevented by heavy truck side guards.
I mentioned cost earlier. The cost would be between $1,500 and $3,000 per truck. If we look at the total cost of a truck, it is a pretty small amount of money that would save so many lives. We know that truck guards save lives. I call upon my colleagues to join with us and let us get the bill to committee.
I leave them with a question. How many cyclists and how many pedestrians have to lose their lives before the House is willing to take action?
« Previous 1 2 3 4 5 ... 11 Next »