- MPndpMar 12, 2015 3:15 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear friend from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. During the course of his presentation tonight I could not help but think of our departed friend, Jack Layton, and the belief that Jack had in our country and its ability to become so much more, particularly with respect to the situation faced by so many first nations, Métis and Inuit people.
At the end of his speech the member spoke of an offer, of a possibility of true reconciliation for the country. When I observe, because of where I live in the northwest of British Columbia, first nations people fight for their rights and title, not only are they fighting for the rights and title of their particular people and nation, but they fight on behalf of all of us for a sense of decency and fairness in the way we view our history, we reconcile our present and move forward into the future.
I must thank my friend for his work on this over so many years and the place he is taking today in our House of Commons. I take much personal satisfaction in being associated with him and the work that he does. If Canada were to take this offer, what could we do with it? What could we offer, not only first nations people but each other, in a much more prosperous and unified country?
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 11:15 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, if Canadians can bear to do so, it takes some time to look at the terrible Conservative record when it comes to the economy. Truly, it is a record only a mother could love.
We have record highs in temporary foreign workers and record-low job quality for Canadians. We have record-high household debt and record-low access to employment insurance. The Conservatives continue to hurt the economy, but it is Canadian families who pay the price.
Somehow the Conservatives have managed to go from bad to worse. In this House last night, we had a New Democrat motion calling on the next federal budget to help create good-paying jobs for Canadians, yet the Conservatives found a way to vote against it. Which part did they hate the most? Was it that we are calling for good-paying jobs for Canadians, or was it that we are calling for a budget at all, which seems to be such a problem for the current government?
It is time for the Minister of Finance to get off the bench and do his job. All the economists he is relying on are saying that the excuses are over. Let us get to work and give Canadians a budget that helps get them back to work.
If the Conservatives are so unwilling to do it, let us just wait until the fall of 2015. New Democrats will be happy to give Canadians the government they deserve.
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 7:15 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
With regard to the Venture Capital Action Plan for the fiscal years 2012-2013 to the current fiscal year: (a) of the commitment to invest $400 million in the Venture Capital Action Plan over 7 to 10 years, how much has been invested; (b) of the commitment to invest $250 million in new, large private sector-led national funds of funds, (i) what outcomes have been achieved, (ii) what are the names of the funds, (iii) how much money has been received so far; (c) of the $100 million commitment to recapitalize existing venture capital funds, how much has been invested, broken down by fund; (d) of the commitment to make an aggregate investment of $50 million in 3 to 5 high-performing funds, how much has been invested, broken down by fund; (e) what “additional resources” have been invested to continue developing a robust venture capital system and a strong entrepreneurial culture in Canada; (f) how many companies have applied for funding; (g) what is the total amount of funding that has been given out, broken down by (i) fiscal year, (ii) electoral riding; (h) how many companies have been rejected for funding, broken down by (i) fiscal year, (ii) electoral riding; (i) what is the success rate of funding applications, broken down by (i) fiscal year, (ii) electoral riding; (j) what is the total amount of funding, broken down by application category of (i) clean tech and energy efficiency, (ii) information technology, (iii) healthcare; (k) what is the success rate of applications by application category of (i) clean tech and energy efficiency, (ii) information technology, (iii) healthcare; and (l) what is the average amount of funding granted, broken down by (i) fiscal year, (ii) electoral riding?
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 12:20 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see the finance minister back. We have not heard him talk about the economy in the House for almost six weeks now.
I am not sure that he actually read the same report as New Democrats did, and I will quote from the report to help him out. It states:
...the number of low-paying [full-time] jobs has risen faster than the number of mid-paying jobs, which in turn, has risen faster than the number of high-paying jobs.
It further states:
The damage caused to full-time employment during each recession was, in many ways, permanent.
We have seen a 0.7% job-growth rate in Canada during 2014, which was supposed to be a good year. We have seen youth unemployment at twice the national average and 200,000 more Canadians out of work than before the recession, and all Conservatives want to do is pull a muscle patting themselves on the back for a job well done. We know that the Canadian economy needs some help. The government's answer to falling oil prices was to delay the budget by a few months, just hoping things would get better. There is no plan B coming from the government, other than more tax breaks for the wealthiest Canadians.
My simple question is this. The CIBC report shows that job quality in Canada is at its lowest level in a generation. Let me repeat that. The quality of jobs in Canada is at its lowest level in a generation. Does that not preoccupy him at all, the fact that we are moving from full-time, well-paying jobs to more precarious part-time work in this country, as was evidenced in last month's report by his own department? Is he not at all concerned with that, and would he just get on with the work of presenting a budget that would actually meet the needs of the Canadian economy?
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 7:20 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, who are we going to believe on this one: Liberals who say that the only solution to fix the Canadian economy is to raid the EI fund again? They took $56 billion out of it the first time around when they were in office. I guess they got used to the habit of just dipping into a fund and stealing from workers and employers, who put into it for employment insurance, to pad all of their schemes. I do not know how much sponsorship scandal money came out of the EI fund, but we know $56 billion came out.
We believe in lowering the small business tax rate, not a loan. Maybe the confusion the Liberal Party has is that it voted against something without understanding it, because the proposal from us was to lower it by 20%. Here is what Dan Kelly, the head of the CFIB said about it. He said:
Cutting the small business tax rate by nearly 20% will provide a big boost to small business owners across the country and help them create jobs.
Therefore, who are we going to believe? Are we going to believe the head of the CFIB or the Liberals with yet another EI ripoff scheme that would not create jobs and would only hurt workers and employers in our country?
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 7:10 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
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.
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to thank you for that very fair and justified ruling that you just gave to the House, which perhaps even set a new precedent for decorum. It was in fact brief and to the point, which was helpful to all members.
I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague from Newton—North Delta.
Canada's economy has a number of weaknesses. That is why we, the official opposition, feel it is essential to have a debate on our economy today.
I know that my Conservative colleagues would rather talk about something else—anything else, actually—but like the vast majority of Canadians, we want a debate and some answers about the economic realities we are facing, including a very high unemployment rate, a weak economy and the deterioration in employment quality over the past generation that is likely to be long term, according to a new report by CIBC.
We believe that the government does not have a plan B. Canadians know that the Conservative government is only interested in developing the oil sector of the economy. It ignores the rest. It is deeply obsessed with a very controversial pipeline and has nothing to say about other aspects of our economy. The NPD is in favour of a highly diversified and more just economy.
Let us put first things first. We have to understand that despite the Conservatives' current obsession with attempting to change the channel away from economic matters to just about anything else, there is a responsibility for us as parliamentarians to take on the challenges of the day. A clear challenge that is facing us as Canadians and Canadian legislators is the economy.
The statistics prove that we have not seen such worrisome trends since the 2008 recession. This was most recently highlighted in a report by the CIBC, which shows that job quality in Canada has fallen to its lowest level in a generation.
What does that mean? Job quality, as measured, has moved Canadians away from good-paying, middle-class, secure employment to increasingly part-time, insecure, and low-paying jobs that do not support families.
We would think that this would be a preoccupation for a Conservative government that claims to make such great strides on the economy, but, over a generation, we have seen the quality of employment and jobs in Canada steadily decline under both Conservative and Liberal governments. We would think that the government would seek ways to enhance the opportunities for Canadians and seek ways to solve some of the productivity conundrums that we have been having for far too long, yet the choices being made by the Conservatives are most perplexing because they do not address the needs of the economy.
Sure, the $2 billion income-splitting scheme that the government committed to, thereby spending a surplus before it had it, helps the top 15% of Canadian income earners. It is fine for the wealthiest Canadians under a Conservative government. Doubling the TFSA will overwhelmingly help that same group of Canadians. It has been demonstrated in report after report that there are not that many middle-income and low-income Canadians with an extra $11,000 burning a hole in their pocket at the end of the year. However, in a Conservative reality, the people who do have that kind of money, the people who can split their incomes and take advantage of the $2 billion Conservative scheme at the highest end of the Canadian wealth spectrum, are the priority for the government.
They are not the priority for the NDP.
We saw most recently in the Statistics Canada report in January that we actually lost full-time employment, even in a month when we supposedly did well. What was created, again, was part-time, insecure work.
Over the last year, we have seen the Canadian population rate grow at almost double the rate of job growth in this country. That should worry anybody, because the trend is unsustainable if our population is growing almost twice as fast as new jobs and those jobs being created are precarious, part-time, low-paying jobs. Not only are Conservative practices with regard to our environment unsustainable, but we now see that their practices with regard to our economy are unsustainable, and they are leaving a debt.
We know the Conservatives have added somewhere north of $155 billion to the Canadian debt in their tenure. We know they have lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, just since the Conservatives took office. We know that 200,000 more people are unemployed today in Canada than before the recession, yet the Conservatives claim that everything is perfectly fine and there is nothing to do here.
In fact, things are so good, according to the Conservatives, that they have an extra $2 billion kicking around to help out the wealthiest 15% of Canadians. They have so much money right now and the economy is doing so well that the Conservatives were able to dump in more than $1 billion on these self-promoting ads that constantly interrupt every hockey game anyone has looked at in the last few years—to do what? They spend more money by far on these ads than they do on food inspection or rail safety. They do more in self-promotion than they do to help out Canadian workers.
We see youth unemployment doubling the rate of the national average. We know that has not only short-term impacts on young Canadians and their families, but it has long-term impacts on their prospects. For those young people entering into such a weak workforce, it means that they do not go into the professions for which they are trained, with the skills they have invested in. They have to take whatever job might be available in a tough economic market.
We see, in fact, that women's participation in the workforce is at its lowest rate since 2002. For women considering going to work, one of the main factors and principles are the family policies that exist around going to work.
This is why New Democrats highlight and put a circle around the stain of Conservative policies with regard to our economy; the economy that they just do not want to talk about anymore, if members have noticed. We cannot seem to get the Minister of Finance up on his feet in question period anymore. He has been benched and missing in action. Yet Canadians want to know where the solutions are coming from. Where are the ideas coming from? Where is the budget coming from?
Crossing their fingers and hoping things get better in the oil markets is not exactly a plan for the Canadian economy. In fact, over-focussing on just one commodity, as the Conservatives have done with regard to oil for the last 10 years, has put Canada in a precarious place when oil prices fell, as they inevitably do. Yet we have a government in panic mode suggesting that, “Well, we're just going to wait a few more months, and Canadians are going to have to wait with us”.
Well, New Democrats are not waiting. We are putting forward proposals that will actually address the needs of the Canadian economy.
Take, for instance, the New Democrat proposal put forward by our leader to lower the small business taxes in this country. Small businesses account for 40% of our GDP and involve 8 million Canadians. Almost 80% of all new jobs are created by small businesses. When we put forward that motion in the House of Commons, Conservatives voted against it, joined by Liberals for some reason.
When we put forward a motion that would help the manufacturing sector, because we have lost 400,000 jobs in that sector, Conservatives, again joined by Liberals, voted against it.
When New Democrats put forward the idea of an innovation tax fund to help us with our productivity and innovation, because Canada lags behind the rest of the world with respect to research and development, we saw Conservatives, again joined by Liberals, voting against it.
New Democrats are going to continue to support a $15 minimum wage, the $15 affordable child care to help Canadians get back to work, and an economy that works for Canadians, not against them. We will support an economy that will put Canadians back to work. We will form a government in 2015 that is focused on the interests of Canadians and not on the narrow partisan interests of a government just hoping and praying for re-election.
- MPndpFeb 26, 2015 1:25 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, what is inconsistent is that the same government gutted the environmental assessment process through much of those same acts. It is a government that took fishery habitat protection out of the Fisheries Act.
Many of my friend's constituents from Wild Rose Country love to come up to B.C. and fish its rivers. One would think that habitat protection would be important. However, under the government, the Conservatives thought it was not so important.
As well, the Navigable Waters Protection Act existed for over a century in our country to protect the navigation of our rivers and waterways. It is something one would think the public had interest in and thought was important. It balanced out the conversation about what damage could and could not be done.
After gutting the Environmental Assessment Act, after getting rid of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, except for Muskoka and cottage country for the minister's sake, and after gutting the Fisheries Act, to stand and say that somehow the Conservatives are the proponents of strong and tough regulation, no one believes them. This is a problem for the Conservatives. When they say they want to protect the environment and are not completely in the pockets of the big oil companies, the facts deny it all.
The reality is that their plan is not working. The Conservatives cannot bulldoze their way through the country. Some people demand and insist on having a voice in the conversation, that is Canada, and we will continue to do so.
- MPndpFeb 26, 2015 1:15 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I want to inform you that I will share my time with my esteemed colleague from Drummond. This is a good idea, as always.
This may sound strange, but I have looked forward to some version of such a bill for many years. With Bill C-46, the government has finally come to acknowledge a principle that for more than 20 years the New Democrats thought was important for the energy sector and industry at large. This is the principle that we commonly now know as the polluter pays. It is a very simple concept. It is a concept that should be embedded in all of our economic thinking about resource development and the potential for pollution, which is the company that causes the pollution should pay for the pollution.
This is an important concept for us because we also believe in pricing pollution across the board. We have heard the Prime Minister recently muse about the idea of perhaps putting a price on carbon similar to the Alberta model. It has some faults, but the very concept that pricing carbon, a known pollutant in causing climate change, is now something to which the Conservative government may be open. However, we hear Conservatives day after day ridicule and rile the opposition for any hint of the very same policy, which the Conservatives rain on.
Juxtapose that with the strange crossing of ideologies where the Liberal leader now says that pricing carbon should not be up to the federal government at all. It is odd to watch those two leaders cross themselves. More important, in Bill C-46 and the liability around spills from pipelines, we recall that the Prime Minister in an economic forum declare that Canada would quickly become a world energy superpower. This vision was outlined by the Prime Minister in very forceful terms. What one would have expected to be behind such a declaration was a plan or a strategy to achieve that vision.
As we have seen in the last eight or nine years, that commitment has been nothing but an unmitigated failure for the government. We have not seen the approach taken by the Conservatives enhance Canada's standing in the world when it comes to energy in any measurable way, not with our largest trading partner in the United States.
As pointed out by my Liberal colleagues, not only has the relationship around one particular project, in this case Keystone, caused all sorts of tensions between the government and the White House, but it has caused tensions in our trading relations in general. I recently had meetings with some trade department officials and investors from the United States, They wondered about the Conservative government's obsession with one project to the detriment of so many other important trade relations with the United States.
In making the declaration, when the Conservatives said that we would be an energy superpower, one would have thought there would have been some foundational elements included. One of them would have been the polluter pays principle. It is an important and key strategy in bringing the public along to any development, like a pipeline development. If there is a spill, it should not be the public who is on the hook for cleaning up the costs.
As has been pointed out in this debate already, Enbridge, which has proposed the northern gateway pipeline that will go through my region, had that exact experience just south of the border, when 3.5 million litres of diluted bitumen was spilled in the Kalamazoo River. It has spent north of one billion dollars cleaning that up.
In Canada, we had this perverse incentive in that the companies were never on the hook for that money for the cleanup. The companies receive the profit; the public gets the pain when there is an accident. There are spills. There have been several hundred spills across Canada over the last couple of years, some small and some quite a bit larger. The idea that the public would foot the bill for a company's mistake and damage to our environment is indeed perverse.
Several things in the bill remain lacking in a true energy policy from the government. If becoming an energy superpower were so important, one would have thought the government would have sincerely, and with great dedication, sought what would be a very important principle for any company operating, and that is the social licence to operate.
This is a commonly used term by industry today, particularly by extractive industries, heavy industries, that in order to be profitable and to remain viable, having a social contract with the public, an agreement on how companies conduct themselves, supported in the communities in which they operate would be foundational of any investment.
When I talk to the investment banks, the major banks in Canada, and some of the other investors who invest heavily in our country, the social licence of any particular project is paramount to the investor's rational to invest or not invest. If a company is facing protracted legal battles, if a company is in the face of strong public discontent, that affects the investor's decision.
Even with the Conservatives government, which is particularly fixated, having put so many of their eggs in one particular resource extraction basket, on oil, we would have thought that bringing forward legislation, working policies that would increase the level of public support would have been job number one. The efforts by the government to treat and negotiate with first nations in Canada would be job number one. The Prime Minister hired a special investigator, Doug Eyford, to go British Columbia to consult with first nations and find out what was lacking. In his report, Mr. Eyford stated that there was a lack of federal leadership in treating and negotiating with the first nations of British Columbia in particular .
Having lost almost 180 consecutive Supreme Court decisions that deal with first nations rights and title, we would think the federal government would have woke up to the idea that rights and title maybe matters, particularly to a resource like this one.
The bill is missing the ability of the government to understand, to respect and to negotiate with the first nations people of Canada. In provinces like British Columbia, rights and title have been confirmed again and again in the federal courts and at the Supreme Court level, and the government considers it an option to ignore those rulings, as if anything will get built, as if anything will get done by ignoring our Constitution and first nations rights and title.
We have also seen the government utterly ignore another foundational question that Canadians have with respect to any resource development, which is risk versus benefit. The benefits are generally seen in two areas: one through taxation and the other through job creation. What have we seen from the Conservatives? We saw the whole temporary foreign worker fiasco where they drove loopholes so big through the program that companies were firing Canadians working in the banking and energy sector and then hiring temporary foreign workers to the point where the Conservatives had to swing the pendulum back so hard that they essentially shut down virtually all of the temporary foreign worker program.
We have also seen a government absolutely ambiguous about the notion of value-added. Particularly when we deal with a one-time, non-renewable resource, we would think the government of the day would have some interest one way or the other as to whether companies are adding value or shipping the product out in its raw form. We know the true job components in any oil and gas project is when we add value to it.
The proposed projects, which heavily supported by the government, all purport to export raw bitumen in its most raw form. That leaves the risks with Canada and exports the lion's share of the benefits elsewhere.
The economy of the people I represent in northern British Columbia is primarily based on resource extraction. We understand the resource industry, we are support of it and are particularly supportive when it works with the values in the communities in which it seeks to operate.
Conservatives have ignored this time and time again and have lost public support, not just in their wild enthusiasm for projects that do not help the Canadian economy and certainly risk the Canadian environment, but they have run roughshod over first nations rights and title. The record shows they are not getting anything done. All they are doing is increasing conflict and uncertainty, which drives away investment and the ability of the Canadian economy to be more than just a raw export economy.
Time and time again we see the government make the same mistake. The Conservatives suggest that doing the same thing again will get them somehow a different result. We know the definition of someone who believes that doing the same thing repeatedly will get a different result: insanity. Increasing uncertainty, increasing conflict has done so little to even advance the agenda the Conservatives had.
What else do we miss from the Conservative government? It is not just a diversification of our trading partners, but also the diversification of our energy resources. The support for oil has been so outweighed by no support whatsoever for the clean energy sector.
The good news for Canadians is that globally last year, and we look forward to 2015 being similar, the advancements and the investments in clean energy technology, with the costs of production dropping and the acceptance and encouragement by the public writ large across the world for clean technology, solar, wind, geothermal and rest, has only grown and investments are outpacing investments in carbon energy.
Canada should be embracing this enthusiastically, with a government that understands we need to have a balance between these things. However, to put all of the attention on one energy source alone, we see what happens. The Conservatives have had to delay their budget. They have no plan B. All they have is this, and it is not working.
The bill is a small and important step in advancing a more balanced approach to the energy sector in Canada. We look forward to its passage. We will see if the calendar allows for its passage and how much enthusiasm the Conservatives have for it to become law.
- MPndpFeb 26, 2015 11:35 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, Conservative boasts about going after tax cheats have gone from ridiculous to outright dangerous. Estimates just released by the government show more Conservative cuts to Canada Revenue, an additional $56 million in cuts, and this is after having fired 3,000 staff at the agency.
Here is the first rule in fighting international money laundering: one cannot catch the tax cheats and money launderers if one does not have the investigators.
Now the agency will have to review another 10 million files. How can the minister justify these new cuts to the very people we need to go after tax cheats and international money launderers?
- MPndpFeb 25, 2015 11:40 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows every word of that of conversation, it must have been one of those three-way calls set up for her.
It has been said that we cannot judge a book by its cover, so let us look through the actual main estimates to find out what Conservative priorities really are. The devil is in the details.
Let us see here. There are cuts to affordable housing, cuts to consular services, cuts to first nations health, cuts to fishery protection, and Conservative cuts to disease prevention. But wait, while cutting these essential services that Canadians need, Conservatives did find extra money for, wait for it, ministerial salaries and their chauffeur budgets.
How can Conservative priorities be so out of whack and offline with what Canadians actually need and deserve?
- MPndpFeb 24, 2015 11:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, middle-class families are working harder and harder, but falling further and further behind with the current government. It seems that the Conservatives are focused like a laser on schemes to help the wealthy few. Two reports out today show that the government's plan to double TFSA limits will cost tens of billions of dollars and yet benefit only the wealthiest Canadians. Does this sound at all familiar to anyone: taking from everyone to help the wealthiest few?
Do these troubling new reports give the finance minister any pause, or is he really so hell-bent on finding new ways to give tax breaks to the wealthy and the well connected?
- MPndpFeb 19, 2015 11:35 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives create a massive backlog and then want credit for pretending to even help clean up the mess they created.
It is also like this when it comes to the economy, an economy that is hemorrhaging jobs in the energy sector, the service sector, and the retail sector.
It has been weeks since the current finance minister even answered a single question in the House of Commons, and the Conservatives' answer to a struggling economy is to deny there is a problem; delay any action by not bringing in a budget; and desperately hope the problem will simply go away on its own. Trying to change the channel on this issue will not help the almost 1.3 million Canadians who are out of a job.
When are we finally going to see the current finance minister get off the bench and bring in a plan to help Canadians get back to work?
- MPndpFeb 06, 2015 8:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, all the jobs that came were part-time, precarious jobs. The economy actually lost 12,000 jobs in January, and the Conservatives call the economy spectacular. This is after 2014, when the Canadian economy grew at half the pace of the Canadian population.
Four hundred thousand lost manufacturing jobs, and Conservatives say everything is just spectacular. They continue to stick their heads in the sand.
We put forward real, concrete solutions to help the manufacturing sector and the small-business sector. When are Conservatives actually going to get to work, bring froward a budget and a plan, and help Canadians, the 1.3 million Canadians who are out of work, find their own jobs back again?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 1:25 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
[Member spoke in Spanish.]
Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting question. This is very important, particularly for young people, because the current unemployment rate for young people is a disaster. Its effects may not necessarily be felt just today. It may hurt the entire career of someone who has the ability to do something else.
I was a young entrepreneur. In my case, it was sometimes difficult to obtain a little bit of attention from the government and other companies. It is because we think that small businesses are not very important, even though it is in small businesses that we find young people who are creative and innovative. If we can help young Canadians to find new jobs and create new businesses, this is something that can continue on for a generation or two. This is the kind of mindset that can be encouraged with a plan like this one.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 1:20 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I was just checking the numbers with my colleagues.
When the Liberals were in power, they raided the unemployment insurance fund, which, as I would remind all people, does not belong to the government. It belongs to the workers and the employers who pay into EI. It is insurance. It is there for people who need it when they lose their jobs.
The Liberals did two things when in power. The short answer is they took about $50 billion out. They took $50 billion away from the workers and from the employers and used it for an assortment of things. Some of it may have ended up in the sponsorship scandal. It is very difficult to ascertain.
The Conservatives ratcheted that down. They only took about $7 billion of the EI fund and have since stopped, which is good. Seven billion dollars versus $50 billion is varying degrees of things.
In terms of the manufacturing sector, I wish the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification could answer this question. We have heard from manufacturers that they want to be able to take those SR and ED grants for innovation, research, and development and apply them to capital expenditures. That is an important aspect of innovation.
Sometimes equipment is needed in order to do research and development. I know it is shocking, but the Conservatives took that option away from manufacturers, from those innovators and entrepreneurs, while we said that they should be allowed to apply it. That is one of the reasons the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Association is supporting us. It knows this is something that would lead to the next great technological breakthroughs. When government believes in science and believes in investing in that science, the investment leads to innovation and a more robust and productive economy.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 1:15 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Yes, Mr. Speaker, volunteer credit card fees. That is excellent. Small businesses are always telling us that merchant fees from credit card companies not only hurt them as small businesses but they hurt their customers who have to pay these exorbitant interest rates.
These are things that small businesses are asking for. New Democrats have answered with this motion. For heaven's sake, just get on board. Just say yes. It is so easy. All the experts in the field who know what they are talking about say these are good ideas. It is just as easy as standing and voting for it.
I look forward to their support.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 1:10 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend from Parkdale—High Park who has put forward this important motion, which I think addresses in part the context that the Canadian economy faces today.
We have seen from the sitting government a certain element of panic, perhaps confusion, with respect to how to respond to some of the key elemental and fundamental aspects of the Canadian economy and the weakening of the economy over the last number of months. We have seen the Minister of Finance unwilling and unable to answer questions in this place and unwilling and unable to present a budget until at least two months later than was originally planned.
We have seen confusion among the senior ministers about key aspects. Will the government need to bring forward another austerity budget in terms of cutting services to meet its agenda to balance the books? Will it need to raise revenues? Will it need to dip into its $3 billion rainy day fund, which is meant to cover natural disasters?
To all of those basic questions for the government, we have only seen confusion. We have had completely different answers, on the same day in some instances. We have seen a government that is scrambling, with no real plan B. We have seen an economy, due in some part to the government, that overrelied on certain sectors to the detriment of others.
The reason I can say that with some confidence is that the numbers from Statistics Canada hold this picture up for Canadians and, particularly, for the Conservative government to view.
There are 400,000 lost manufacturing jobs just since the Conservatives took power. In 2014, we saw the lowest job growth since 2009. Again, these are not disputed numbers. This is the reality going on in the Canadian economy. In 2014, which was supposed to be a spectacular year for the Canadian economy, according to some of my colleagues on the Conservative benches, the Canadian economy grew at half the rate of the Canadian population, in terms of job growth.
This should be a concern for anybody who is concerned with the economy. When the population is growing at nearly double the pace of the number of jobs that are being created, that is not a good trend.
We have seen persistently high youth unemployment, at nearly double the national average, and we now have 200,000 more Canadians out of work than before the recession started. Take a moment to think about that. We went into the recession with 1.1 million Canadians out of work, and we now have 1.3 million Canadians out of work after the recession and after the government has taken so much self-offered credit for the spectacular job it has done.
Those are the realities. The economy also shrank in November, which is a concern. These are all numbers from before the latest wave of job losses, particularly in the Canadian retail and energy sectors. There, we have seen not thousands but tens of thousands of Canadians losing their jobs. Our worry is that many of them are part time and do not qualify for employment insurance. That is just in the last number of weeks and months.
For any government to not be preoccupied is a concern, when we have six unemployed Canadians for every job opening in the Canadian economy right now. The Conservatives can spin where they want to, but the reality of those numbers comes from their own departments, and they come from Statistics Canada, and they are not to be disputed.
In light of that reality, as well as the plummeting oil prices sitting just a little north of $50 today and lost revenue to the government, we ask what the plan is. What is plan B? We have seen plan A. We have lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, we have a high youth unemployment rate, and we have 200,000 more Canadians out of work. We have the lowest female participation in the workforce since 2002. Those are all indisputable facts. What is the government's response, other than to delay the budget?
In that vacuum of ideas and opportunities for Canadians, New Democrats focused in on two primary sectors. The first is the small business sector, which accounts for 80% of all new jobs created and is 40% of our GDP. We also focused in on the manufacturing sector for reasons that I have already outlined.
We have lost so many value-added jobs. In a country that is primarily basing its economy on natural resources, value-added jobs have been the cornerstone to build the middle class and the compact that the government has had with the corporations for the last 80 years. That is what built the middle class in Canada. To lose 400,000 manufacturing jobs just since taking office should be a priority for the government, but its record obviously shows that it is either not a priority or that whatever opportunities it has given have not worked.
Let us look at other planks that the NDP has laid down, steadily, fully costed and accounted for, like a $15 federal minimum wage and affordable child care for all Canadians at up to $15 a day.
We know from the TD Bank and private sector economists that a fully funded, affordable child care plan would have a dividend in return back to the economy.For every $1 put in by government, the government can see back as much as $1.70 to $2.40. Why? It is because productivity is increased and particularly women's ability to get back into the labour force if they so choose. Private sector employers tell us that this has been a concern for a long time. As I said earlier, Canada has the lowest female participation rate in our economy since 2002. That has been the trend. What do we do about the trend? We offer up ideas, and this is where I find such a challenge with my Conservative and Liberal colleagues today.
Happily, we have support from the Canadian manufacturing sector and the small business advocates in this country, who historically have not always been fans of New Democratic policy. Dan Kelly and the head of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters say that these initiatives put forward by the leader of the NDP just last week are good for the economy. We have been reading some of their quotes all day.
I find it confusing when my Conservative and Liberal friends get up and make speeches and try to denounce New Democrats for what we propose. They say they are going to vote against this effort to lower the small business tax rate and help the Canadian manufacturing sector. Both those proposals alone are supported by the people who know best, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The Conservatives say they are going to vote against it, but for what reason? Do they not believe that lowering the small business tax rate one point would help, potentially two points if finances allowed? Do they not believe in lengthening out the ability of the manufacturing industry to write off heavy equipment at a time when it is most critical?
The minister can make a speech any time she wants. If she wants to make a speech and tell us why they are going to vote against this—because they have not done that all day today—then I welcome her to the debate.
It is important for us. At a time when the Canadian economy is growing at half the pace of our population, when 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost under the Conservatives watch, one would think the government would at least be a little preoccupied with that fact. When youth unemployment is twice the national average and has been persistently so, and 200,000 more Canadians are out of work than before the recession started, one would think the government would be interested in more than just talking points and spending $1 billion on self-promoting ads to tell people how spectacular it is. An ad does not help a family feed itself. An ad does not help people get back to work when they need a job.
The Conservatives just spent another $2 million promoting the oil sector. They spent $2 million in support of Chevron, Shell, and all the companies that had extraordinary profits, and yet they do nothing for the forestry sector, the manufacturing sector, or the clean energy sector, all groups that are looking to grow and need to grow and are on the rebound, in some cases. The Conservatives are going to buy ads for the oil lobby because it is so good at lobbying.
If the Conservatives do not want to believe me, then perhaps they will believe Jayson Myers, who is the president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. He said that these tax credits for new product development and commercialization are key measures that support manufacturing success.
Dan Kelly, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said that cutting the small tax rate by nearly 20% will provide a big boost to small business owners across the country and help them create jobs.
What part of that do Conservatives and Liberals not agree with? Is it simply because of the source? Is it because New Democrats are offering up these solutions that they will not vote for these things, that they will not help out the manufacturing sector, and that they will not help small business?
I was a small business owner before getting into politics. There are two things small businesses need. They need a competitive tax rate and they need customers. We have shrinking and slowing growth in the middle class sector; we have lost more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs; more than 200,000 more Canadians are unemployed than before the global crisis. My goodness, do they want to help out small businesses?
The Conservatives cut the corporate tax rate for the wealthiest corporations like banks and oil companies by 25% since coming into office. They cut it by 1% for small businesses that create 80% of all new jobs in Canada. We can see where their priorities are. They put all their eggs in one basket.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 12:35 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I will never get back that time. My friend across the way spent the vast majority of her available time talking about politics in Queen's Park. If she is that interested in the policies and politics at the provincial level, I would encourage her to seek office in Ontario.
Here we are at the federal level talking about a proposal to do three things: lower the small business tax rate, help Canadian manufacturers through the accelerated capital cost allowance, and offer up an innovation fund. She says, as the Prime Minister's spokesperson has said, that things are spectacular in the Canadian economy. However, bear in mind that last year we had our lowest job growth rate since 2009, with population growth almost double the rate of job growth in the country. To that reality of flat job growth that the Conservatives are facing, there is also the loss of 400,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector alone.
My question for the member is simple. What in particular does she have against lowering the small business tax rate and what in particular does she have against helping Canadian manufacturers after some 400,000 jobs have been lost in that sector alone?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 12:25 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I hesitate to interrupt my friend midway through. I have listened for some time now. She has talked about the Liberal Party in Ontario. She has talked about Ontario policy. She has talked about electricity policies in Ontario.
Just to be clear, I know there is some range with respect to the debate, but the debate is clearly on the NDP's proposal, the motion as put forward. It is about lowering the small business tax rate, about an incentive to the manufacturing sector through accelerated capital cost allowance writedowns, and an incentive through a fund for innovation for the manufacturing sector.
I am grasping to try to find out what the policies from a provincial party of a different orientation and electricity rates have to do with lowering the small business tax rate, accelerated capital cost rate for manufacturers or an innovation fund to allow for innovation in the manufacturing sector.
I know there is breadth here but, through you, Mr. Speaker, I would seek to call the member back to the question in front of us. If she does not like one of those three policies that we put forward, she can tell us why. However, we are not the Ontario legislature. When debating Ontario policies, that is the place for that to happen, not in the nation's capital.
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 11:35 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, recently, the industry minister had a problem understanding how many manufacturing jobs were lost in Canada because he had read a different figure from the one that exists, in a magazine. Some 400,000 jobs have been lost under their watch.
Now he has a problem quoting the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. Mr. Myers said:
The tax credit the NDP is proposing for R&D related capital expenditures will also help Canadian manufacturers develop, test and commercialize the next generation of...technologies.
The CFIB said that cutting the small tax business rate by nearly 20% will provide a big boost to small business owners across the country and help them create jobs.
Why can the Conservatives not simply get on board? Do they just not like the fact that it is the NDP leader who is doing the work to help small businesses and manufacturing in this country?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2015 8:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I can remember a president in the past saying he wanted a “one-armed economist”, because one set of economists would say one thing and another set would give contrary advice. We have, with my friend from the Liberal Party, the great combination in which he offers two perspectives on the same reality in the same speech, many times. Let us break them down a bit.
When anything good happened under a Liberal watch, it was because of what the Liberal Party had done to make that happen. Anything good that happens under anyone else's watch, be it a Conservative or New Democratic government, are other factors. The member also said that if the Liberals offer a business tax cut, then that is a good thing, but if the NDP offers the same tax cut, then that is a loophole for rich people to get off their taxes.
The Liberals did more to allow the wealthiest Canadians to offshore their taxes than any party in political history. They handed out tens of billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways, without the job creation associated with it whatsoever.
Could the member tell me if the problem is the actual ideas we have put forward to help the manufacturing sector, to help small businesses, to help grow the Canadian economy, or is it simply the source?
My colleague does not like the orange brand that was on the policy paper, because that would show him to be somewhat more partisan than impartial in trying to help the Canadian economy, which is exactly what the NDP leader was doing last week in front of the Economic Club of Canada. He was offering up ideas, ideas that the Liberals think, with a flick of the hair and a smile, are going to get them all the way through the next election.
Canadians need solutions to the challenges that this economy faces.
- MPndpFeb 04, 2015 11:40 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, job growth is at its lowest level in five years. Some 200,000 jobs that were in the economy before the recession are gone and have not come back, and the Conservatives are panicking with no budget and no plan.
Does anyone else notice how desperate the Conservatives have become to talk about anything other than the economy? But it is their mismanagement that has led to 1.3 million Canadians being out of a job. New Democrats will keep putting forward solutions to help Canadians and the manufacturing sector.
However, when will see this Minister of Finance stand up with some of his own solutions, with his own budget perhaps? When will see a plan to get Canadians back to work? Why will he not answer a simple question?
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 11:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
The only thing the government's job alerts say to Canadians, Mr. Speaker, is that there are no jobs for them to get, and those guys want to give themselves a pat on the back.
Middle-class Canadian families are working harder and harder and falling further and further behind. Under Conservative mismanagement, the Canadian economy actually shrank in November, and this on top of record high youth unemployment, at twice the national average, and 1.3 million Canadians still out of work.
New Democrats propose to help small businesses; the Conservatives propose to help with a $2-billion tax cut to the richest 15% of Canadian families. We propose to help manufacturers, and the Conservatives want to argue about the 400,000 manufacturing jobs that have disappeared under their watch.
Why is it that just when the economy needs action, the Conservative finance minister and his budget are not anywhere to be found?
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 10:45 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I do not have enough time to properly lay out the number of times the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been betrayed by the Conservative government. We do not have enough time today to outline all of the different articles in which the Conservatives have found themselves offline and offside of the interests of the people of Newfoundland.
My friend raised a recent example in which $130 million was offered up to AbitibiBowater and the Prime Minister had the audacity to chastise the Premier of Newfoundland for standing up for the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. For a government to sit in Ottawa like the Conservatives do and berate provincial leaders, as they do time and time again, for simply doing their jobs is beyond frustration and beyond betrayal. It is perhaps a matter of other words that I shall not use in this place.
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 10:40 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I believe one can refer to a “mistruth” being spoken. I believe that has been considered parliamentary language in recent Speaker rulings.
If one wishes to avoid being accused of misspeaking the truth, then one should avoid misspeaking the truth. To my Conservative colleagues across the way, if they are concerned and their feelings are hurt by being accused—not by me, but by the people of Newfoundland and the Conservative premier of Newfoundland—of having misspoken the truth, then my advice to my Conservative colleagues is to not misspeak the truth to the people of Newfoundland. That would avoid the whole mess in the first place.
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 10:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to make the Chair aware that I will be splitting my time with my hon. friend from Halifax, who gave me such a rousing and warm welcome here. That is how we work on the New Democratic side.
This is an important debate. Many Canadians watching may be wondering why this debate may be relevant to them if they do not live in Newfoundland. As somebody who comes from the complete opposite side of the country, from Skeena—Bulkley Valley in the northwest of beautiful British Columbia, I can say very clearly that there is a pattern and a pathology within the Conservative government that worries us greatly. It is something that we have seen before, and we have great compassion and understanding for our friends in Newfoundland, who negotiated in good faith with the government over an important principle with respect to CETA, the agreement that the government has been compacting with the European Union. Even when we get an agreement with the Conservatives in black and white and the Prime Minister utters support in very basic and understandable terms, as was the case here, that agreement may not hold water when it is time to actually come forward and honour it.
In this particular case of with the European trade agreement, a principle held out by Newfoundland was that there would be a compensatory fund of $400 million established by the federal government to offset some of the damages that would be inflicted upon the people of Newfoundland, in particular with respect to their minimum processing requirements. It had been a long-standing policy and practice of the Newfoundland government to protect the processing of fish products in Newfoundland.
For those who do not know or who find it hard imagine, this is an incredibly important and integral of the Newfoundland economy. It is worth as much as $1.1 billion per year to Newfoundland. That is important, because it allows for the diversification of the economy to not solely rely on things like non-renewable energy, such as oil. That is important in the Newfoundland economy. It is so important that Newfoundland said that it was contingent on its agreeing to the broader CETA negotiations. It was Europe that asked the Canadian government to get Newfoundland to take away this minimum processing requirement that fish had to be processed within Newfoundland.
Newfoundland, recognizing that there were some broader benefits to its broader economy and to the Canadian economy, said yes, but let us set aside this $400 million. The Conservatives in Ottawa agreed, and as soon as they had that deal inked, they started to crab walk a little. They said that there might be a fund, but now that they had secured Newfoundland's support and the train had left the station, they were going to change some of the conditions of how the fund would be used such that Newfoundland would now have to go about the arduous process of proving damages.
Who would prove those damages and to what level? It would be the Conservatives here in Ottawa who would decide for Newfoundland.
We have seen this before, particularly in the more remote or rural parts of our economy and our country when it comes to resources and revenue from resources. I am looking at my friend from the north, from the western Arctic, who has seen the government renege on provinces before when it comes to resources. In the west we have seen it time and time again. Newfoundland has seen it twice now just in recent history.
In the 2007 budget, there was a black-and-white commitment from the Conservatives. I will read it out for them, in case they have forgotten their own words. When it came to non-renewable natural resources, they would exclude those calculations when making any payments to the provinces. Way back in 2006, the Conservatives said that they would:
Work to achieve with the provinces permanent changes to the equalization formula which would ensure that non-renewable natural resource revenue is removed from the equalization formula to encourage economic growth. We will ensure that no province is adversely affected from changes to the equalization formula.
That is pretty black and white. That is pretty clear.
In the 2007 budget, just a few months after making this promise to Canadians, and particularly Newfoundlanders, the Conservatives reneged on that promise. That then caused a reaction from the then premier, Danny Williams, who said Newfoundlanders had been betrayed yet again by Ottawa and ran his ABC, or “anything but Conservatives”, campaign. It was broadly effective, and it is kind of catching on in the country.
Certainly where I live in B.C., ABC is suddenly having a certain resonance with British Columbians, who say that these guys cannot be trusted even when they make their promises in black and white. Newfoundland showed up to say that the Conservatives would not change the equalization formula and would exclude natural resources from any of those calculations because they said they would; then the 2007 budget showed up and the Conservatives were shown to be liars.
That is a strong word that we do not often get to use here, because we have to be able to prove it. When we compare the 2007 budget to the 2006 promise that was made by this Prime Minister, we see that the Conservatives reneged on this promise, reversed it, and suddenly put non-renewable natural resources into the formula. We see that he was not telling the truth and was lying to Newfoundlanders.
We see it here again in an area that is very sensitive and very important to Newfoundlanders, the processing of fish in Newfoundland. A very clear promise was made by the chief of staff to the minister who was negotiating this deal as to what this fund was to be used for. It was to be a transitionary fund.
Then we see the crab walk begin, with the Minister of Justice from the east coast saying that we did not create a “slush fund”, as he calls it. There goes the transitionary worker fund. Now the Conservatives want to refer to it as a slush fund, because that would be a bad thing that would be helping out Newfoundland communities that got hit by impacts from the CETA agreement.
Then the Prime Minister's office very recently issued a statement saying that the government did not want to give Newfoundlanders and Labradorians a blank cheque. Oh, goodness. The very agreement that Conservatives made with those people is now being referred to a slush fund and a blank cheque.
Thank goodness for the New Democrat members for St. John's South—Mount Pearl and St. John's East, who are standing up for the interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians here in the House of Commons, opposed to the few Conservative colleagues left on the island. They are standing up and saying that Newfoundland deserves basic signs of respect from the Conservatives, as opposed to just breaking their promises so easily.
I guess that is what happens to a government when it sits in office for nine long years. It gets easier and easier to make a promise and break a promise, to say to Newfoundland and Labrador, “Here it is in black and white. We promise you can vote for us. Newfoundland can support this trade agreement with Europe, knowing there is going to be a $400 million transition fund.” Then, when it comes time to cough it up and actually come through on that promise, the Conservatives do the happy Conservative dance and say, “No, no, we did not mean a transition fund for communities. We did not want to give Newfoundland a blank cheque.” This was according to the Prime Minister's Office. It was the Minister of Justice who seemed to think this would constitute a slush fund.
Again, let us remember what this is all about. This is understanding that trade deals as complex as what is going between Canada and Europe will benefit some industries and have a negative impact on others. This is understood by the government of the day and the negotiators. It is understood by both sides that there are advantages and disadvantages in every trade deal.
This is why New Democrats wanted to see the text of the deal before issuing blank support in the way the Liberals did, because the devil is in those details. We broadly support trade initiatives with our European allies, free democratic countries that draw from a well of values and histories similar to Canada's. We know the importance of trade and diversifying that trade, while making sure that trade happens in terms and interests that benefit this country, because it is Canadian interests that we represent here in this House of Commons.
That is broadly speaking. I come from British Columbia, but I can stand up for my friends in Newfoundland and Labrador, as they have stood up for us in times past, to say that they deserve to have the promises made to them by the federal government honoured. When a province or territory in this country gets a black-and-white promise from the government of the day, regardless of the party that happens to be in power, is it so radical to ask that the promise be kept?
We saw that in 2006 and 2007 with the Conservative government. When it came time to honour the deal, the promise it had made to the people of Newfoundland to not include non-renewables, Conservatives were only too happy to break that promise and to change the formula to make it more difficult for Newfoundland and Labrador.
Now we see it again. Newfoundland was able to offer its support contingent upon this $400 million fund being there to help people transition, because it knew it was taking away a policy that had helped many communities for many years. Now the Conservatives are suddenly changing their tune, saying the promise was never made. Well, that is not the understanding of Newfoundland. I trust the people in Newfoundland and Labrador to interpret what that promise was, what it meant, and what it is still today.
Shame on Conservatives for so happily and easily lying and reneging on a promise to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador—again.
- MPndpJan 30, 2015 9:20 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, there was a briefing this morning, I believe, on this legislation. Of course, on a Friday morning, as anyone familiar with Parliament would know, a third of all members are here and at least two-thirds, from all sides, are not in the city. We tend to return to our ridings.
The briefing also took place during question period, so of those members who were actually in the capital, I would imagine that almost all of us were engaged here in question period doing our job holding the government to account.
My question is twofold. One, is the government open and available to having a briefing for MPs that could happen at a time when MPs are actually able to attend so we can understand what is often a complex piece of legislation?
The second piece is a more broad question. I listened to the hon. member's comments, but I did not hear this aspect. It is about the radicalization piece and stopping the flow of sometimes Canadians, sometimes young people, who end up radicalized. This has been a struggle that has perhaps had more conversation in Europe and among some of our other allies yet not necessarily as much as it needs to here in Canada.
We have heard some of the aspects of the bill. I still have to read the briefing report, because I was here in question period, on denying travel and intervening for those who seek to go abroad. Yet we saw that the incidents, as best we know, that happened here on Parliament Hill and at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu did not have those elements of international radicalization. They were, as we say, homegrown terrorists.
The first question was around the government's willingness to provide a briefing that MPs can actually attend, including Conservative MPs, of course. The second is around the idea of how we stop the radicalization of people in the first place, be they from Canada or abroad.
- MPndpJan 30, 2015 8:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
The real long list, Mr. Speaker, is the list of layoffs that have gone on under the Conservative watch, while they do nothing about it.
I want to give the Minister of Industry a chance to apologize for dismissing the 400,000 manufacturing jobs that disappeared under the Conservative watch.
We have a jobs minister who relies on Kijiji. We have an industry minister who looks to magazines. In the face of these tens of thousands of job losses, we have the spokesperson for the Prime Minister who says that things are just spectacular.
Will the Minister of Finance whip out his old Ouija board to put together the next budget to help Canadians out?
The NDP leader offered concrete solutions to help the manufacturing sector, to help small businesses get Canadians back to work. When will the Conservatives wake up?
- MPndpJan 29, 2015 11:35 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, we get our statistics from Statistics Canada. The Conservatives get theirs from Maclean's and Kijiji, and they call themselves competent.
Job growth is at its lowest level in 5 years, labour participation is at its lowest level in 15 years, and the Prime Minister's spokesperson just said that the economy was doing spectacularly.
The Conservatives have delayed their budget and are arrogantly refusing to meet with Canada's premiers. The provinces are here to talk about solutions to our anaemic job growth, our growing infrastructure needs and our weakening energy sector. The premiers are meeting just down the street, for heaven's sake. All the Prime Minister has to do is roll out of bed, get into the limo and show them a little respect.
With tens of thousands of Canadians losing their jobs, when is the Prime Minister going to do his?
- MPndpJan 28, 2015 11:45 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, there is question after question from the official opposition about when the budget is coming, and we have a Minister of Finance who is riding the bench. With 400,000 lost manufacturing jobs, the Conservatives' response is to deny there is even a problem. With anemic job growth in Canada, the Conservatives' response is to delay their budget, just hoping things get better on their own.
In communities like Thunder Bay, Chicoutimi, London, Toronto, and Montreal, Canadians are losing their jobs, and the response of the Conservatives is to dither away the opportunity to act and to help these families. Delaying, denying, and dithering away their jobs is not helping Canadians. The NDP leader has put forward progressive, concrete proposals. When are the Conservatives going to get on board or get out of the way?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 11:35 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, our economy faces real challenges that call for a real response, but rather than spring into action, the finance minister has gone into lockdown, hiding the books, and refusing simply to come clean with Canadians.
However, here is the reality. There are 1.3 million Canadians out of work. Jobs grew more slowly than population last year in Canada, and that was supposed to be a good year according to the Conservatives. We have also lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, which the government is doing nothing to replace.
When are we going to see an actual plan from the government? When are we going to see a budget? When is he going to come out from under the covers and do his job for Canadians?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 11:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
The Conservatives say that the 400,000 Canadians who have lost those manufacturing jobs should just read The New York Times and have hope.
Another day and another report showing the mess that Conservative economic mismanagement has put us in. Today the PBO joined the Conference Board, the TD Bank, and others in raising concerns about the impact of low oil prices on the Canadian economy.
Conservatives have failed to build a balanced economy, blowing billions on handouts to the wealthiest families and the most profitable corporations.
While tens of thousands of Canadian families lose their jobs, the Minister of Finance refuses to do his. Delaying the budget months and hiding under the covers will not help these families out at all.
Will he support our motion, at least show us the books, and come clean with Canadians for once?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 7:50 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I may have missed it, but I do not know if my friend across the way said he was supporting the motion or not.
I like the idea that there is a budget forthcoming—no kidding— but the question is when, and does the government seek to act on and respond to the reality that is facing us in these uncertain times, as the governor of the bank has been able to do? The minister keeps referring to unstable markets. The markets are not just “unstable” in oil; they are low. If they had climbed 60% or 70%, I am sure the government would have enthusiastically presented a budget.
My question is about the choices the government has made. It wants to spend upwards of $2 billion on an income-splitting scheme that helps 15%, the overwhelmingly wealthiest Canadians, as was pointed out by the new Minister of Veterans Affairs. It is great for him, since he is earning $180,000 a year. It will help out his situation to the tune of almost $3,500, yet the government is spending 30 times less on the increase to child support payments, at $65 million. Then it derides the NDP for having the audacity to propose a universal and affordable child care plan that would actually help boost the economy. Which is the clear choice: $2 billion on income splitting that does nothing to help put people back to work, or an affordable $15-a-day child care plan that allows those who want to enter the workforce to do so, which has been pointed out by the TD Bank and others as an excellent way to help the economy when it needs help, which it does right now? Why make such a bad and partisan choice in this time of such serious situations?
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 7:20 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, it would be like a Canadian going to a doctor and getting a health check and the doctor saying, “You should cut down on fats a little bit, and we're worried about this” and the person saying, “Well, don't talk down my health”. This is the reality check that Conservatives need. They can choose to ignore it, like they did in the last global downturn in 2008. It was not that long ago. It is recent memory.
We are not anti resource development. We are anti stupid resource development. When it comes up that the Conservatives think they can bulldoze their way through Canadian communities doing whatever it is they want and gut environmental laws and run over the rights of first nations, that somehow that is a resource plan, well, that plan ends up in court.
Congratulations on the energy superpower that the Prime Minister promised Canadians in 2006. How is it going for him? It is an absolute unmitigated disaster. There are tensions with our largest trading partner, the United States, no pipeline is getting approved, and there is increasing public opposition to their plans, because there they go again with all their eggs in one basket. This is all they know.
When we ask for help for the manufacturing sector, where are the Conservatives? With the value added sector, where are the Conservatives? They are nowhere. This motion is asking for an action plan from the government, finally, not the billion dollars the Conservatives spent on self-promoting ads, but a real action plan that will help Canadians get back to work.
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 7:15 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for his comments. First, with the Conservatives, who pride themselves in being somewhat disciplined about the messaging, almost robot-like at times, there has been nothing but confusion not only with respect to this budget that is meant to come at some point in the spring—maybe toward the summer; we are not sure—but there has been utter chaos. One minister gets up saying they are going to bring in a budget that will likely bring in more cuts to services that Canadians need, like food inspection, rail inspection, and veterans affairs. We have seen that already. They are going to cut again. Then we have another minister saying no, not at all. We have another minister saying we have to spend our rainy day fund to make up for the wasteful promises they made. Then the next minister says no, not at all.
With respect to timing, we have seen the government download more than $36 billion in health care cuts to the provinces. It has just recently announced that disaster programs are going to be cut by hundreds of millions of dollars more to the provinces. Now Conservatives are saying, for their own political fortunes and their own political timing, that the provinces are just going to have to wait and guess what contributions may be coming from the federal government. These are provinces that are struggling to make ends meet, much like Canadian families.
The responsible thing, the right thing to do is react, act, and take some leadership when it comes to responding to our economy right now.
- MPndpJan 27, 2015 7:05 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
That the House call on the government to (a) immediately present an Economic and Fiscal Update to Parliament outlining the state of the nation’s finances in light of the unstable economic situation, including job losses, falling oil prices, and declining government revenues; and (b) 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.
Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I thank my colleagues. I will be splitting my time with my hon. friend from Beauport—Limoilou.
I want to thank him for his work and the work we will do together in the future.
Today we present our first opposition day motion of 2015, which we think comes at a critical juncture for this country and our economy. Our expectation is that the government would actually support this motion, because it clearly addresses the needs of this country in response to the moment we are in.
Let us take that moment for what it is. The last time the government came to Canadians with its economic update, the world oil prices were at $86 for world and $81 for WTI. Those prices have subsequently dropped to $48 and $46 respectively. That is a $4.3 billion hit to the current government's treasury, as estimated by the OECD.
Calling for accountability and action is the job of all parliamentarians, and New Democrats take this job incredibly seriously. We have seen over the last number of weeks serious job losses in the retail sector, the energy sector, and other sectors across the economy. The TD Bank has concluded the following:
The conclusion is unambiguous. In the absence of new measures to raise revenues or cut spending, TD is projecting budget deficits in fiscal 2015-16 and 2016-17 as opposed to the surpluses expected at the time of the [last fiscal] Update.
The government needs a reality check. It needs to address the situation that is in front of it rather than the one it wishes to see. It is important, because we have seen this movie before from the Conservatives. Canadians will remember that on the eve of the last global recession, as the world was dipping into negative territory, that rather than paying attention to the facts in front of them, and the indications were clear from the private sector economists, the World Bank, and the OECD that Canada too was falling into a recession, the Conservatives chose to ignore that and brought in an austerity budget. This made the Conservative government unique in the developed world, a uniqueness we did not wish to enjoy, in not responding to the reality in front of us. Only at the threat of losing their government did the Conservatives reassemble a budget that was in fact a stimulus budget in response to the times of the day.
The Minister of Finance recently sent a letter to us asking for ideas and solutions to help fix the economic weakness in Canada.
Let us take a snapshot of the Canadian economy in 2014, a year that was meant to be a year of recovery and coming through the global recession. The population in Canada grew faster than the number of jobs in Canada in 2014. The youth unemployment rate remained twice the national average, a rate seen during the worst times of the global downturn. Canadian youth are still experiencing those very difficult times.
Canadian individuals are carrying more debt than they ever have in our history. We carry this debt, and that is a great encumbrance on the economy, and the Governor of the Bank of Canada has rightly pointed out that this is a concern and adds greater weakness and fragility.
In these long nine years since the Conservatives took power, Canada has lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs alone. These are good-paying jobs that support families. These are jobs that add value to our natural resources. All that time, we never heard a whit of concern from the Conservatives. With their all-eggs-in-one-basket approach to the economy, it was all pipelines all the time. So much of our effort in our relationship with our greatest trading partner, the United States, fixated on one job-exporting pipeline, namely Keystone. There was a loss of social licence with Canadians with regard to natural resources as Conservatives tried to force through job-exporting pipelines to the west coast.
This has been the fixation of the government. We have seen that it built a house of cards, and it spent a surplus in the fall before it had it. What did the government spend it on? It spent it on a $2.5 billion income splitting scheme that would do nothing for 85% of Canadians and that would skew proportionally toward the wealthiest Canadians, those who have a large income and a spouse that has very low or no income. That is what income splitting supports.
The Conservatives called it a lie, but I remember that it was Jim Flaherty who stood in the House and other places and said that his problem with income splitting was its deep unfairness. His problem with income splitting was that 15% of Canadians who do not need the help were suddenly getting $2.5 billion in help from the Conservatives in the last budget.
That is what the Conservatives chose to spend their now illusionary surplus on, and now they are talking about dipping into their rainy day fund, the emergency fund, to paper over their mistake. They had better hope that there are no floods or natural disasters, because that is what it was originally set aside for. It was for unforseen circumstances. Well, this was not unforeseen. This was a choice the Conservatives made. They chose to dig a $2.5 billion hole in their budget that they thought they could pay for, and now they cannot.
An intelligent and responsive government would say that the circumstances have dramatically changed and that maybe this unfair tax cut for the wealthiest Canadians is not timely, because it would do nothing for job creation, which is something that every private sector economist and the Governor of the Bank of Canada is calling for right now.
Is it spending on infrastructure? No, not at all. The Conservatives did not choose that. Does it create jobs in small and medium businesses in this country? No, it does nothing like that. It is a political effort to buy votes on the eve of an election, clearly and simply. That is why they rushed it and backdated it. It was to help their electoral fortunes come next fall.
This is not about the Conservative Party anymore. This is about the Canadian economy, and it is time for the Conservatives to adapt to the reality in front of them.
Today's motion calls for them to simply bring us a fiscal update and tell us what the books say and to then bring forward a budget that responds to the reality in front of Canadians.
According to the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Canada has low or zero job growth recovery. That should be concerning to everybody. Even in the midst of a recovery, the Canadian economy right now is not creating jobs. That is according to the governor of the bank.
The governor acted last week with one of the major tools available to the bank. He lowered interest rates. It is unprecedented. Over the last almost five years, there have been more than 30 opportunities for the Bank of Canada to do this, and it was just last week that the governor chose to act, to move more money into the economy to stimulate growth because of the concern the bank had about Canada's future.
The finance minister yesterday was bragging that we may achieve as much as 2% growth this year, compared to more than 3% in the United States and almost 4% globally. Those guys are patting themselves on the back rather than acting. When it comes time to actually deliver the budget, the Conservatives have said that they are going to cross their fingers, hide under the covers, and hope that things just get better in a few months' time. They have said that maybe in April they will bring it. Maybe after April they will bring it, but do not worry; they have have plan B. After years and years of plan A, which was $50 billion in corporate tax cuts that have contributed to almost $600 billion in dead money in this economy, Canada has one of the lowest reinvestment rates in research and development and one of the lowest rates of job growth, and this does not seem to concern the Conservative government.
Solutions are required, and New Democrats are offering those solutions to the government and to Canadians. We are offering $15-a-day affordable child care for all Canadians, not the 15% the Conservatives are focused on at the top. We are offering a $15-an-hour minimum wage for federal workers. We recognize that since 1974, adjusted for real dollars, people at the lowest end earning minimum wage have received exactly a one penny raise in all of that time. Yet the Conservatives think they concern themselves with average Canadians. Hardly.
We have brought forward ideas on the small business hiring tax credit, which for a couple of years the Conservatives picked up and then cancelled, a hiring tax credit that was connected to a company actually creating a job.
We have connected the idea that when the government acts on the economy, it should focus on creating jobs, not simply focus on partisan activity and trying to buy votes just before an election.
The motion presented today is clear. It is acceptable. It is smart. It asks the government to bring forward an update, level with Canadians, show us the books, and then for heaven's sake, bring forward a budget that actually responds to the reality that Canadians and our economy face today.
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 11:35 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, this is what their policies got us. They lost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, and just last year when things were supposedly good, the Canadian economy grew slower than our population grew, and these guys want a pat on the back. Everyone can see that Conservatives delaying the budget is pure politics.
Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page said that in spite of their rhetoric, Conservatives are bad economic managers, that they built their budgets on a “house of cards”. The Bank of Canada and the private sector economists are all saying our economy is in real trouble, but just as in 2008, the Conservatives are pretending that there is nothing to worry about.
Why will the Conservatives not come clean with Canadians and give us a real fiscal update on the situation now and be straight with Canadians for once?
- MPndpDec 12, 2014 8:25 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of the Environment talks about the importance of traditional knowledge at the climate change conference in Peru, here at home the chief scientist for the High Arctic Research Station is not even allowed to discuss traditional knowledge. Conservatives even went so far as to delete the very words “traditional knowledge” from their new high Arctic research act.
When the minister gets back from misleading the world, she can maybe explain why she is happy to use traditional knowledge to cover up for her inaction in fighting climate change, but prevents government scientists who are working in the Arctic itself from actually applying traditional knowledge in our science to fight climate change here at home.
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 2:25 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Three and a half minutes, for some of us who are a bit more verbose, is just getting warmed up. Just saying hello where I come from in the northwest takes well more than three and a half minutes. However, in this particular case I can at least put a couple of important points on the table.
First, I would like to say from listening to the debate this afternoon that it has mostly been New Democrats who have been carrying the debate on Bill C-32, an act to enact the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and to amend certain acts.
I am so impressed by my colleagues on this side. They have vast experience, both from the legal profession, as in the case of my friend from Toronto—Danforth, and many from their personal experiences as New Democrat MPs, having taken the time to sit with the families of those who have been hurt to understand that victims' rights is about the stories of people who have been impacted by an injustice, and that when we are describing the policies of the day they are not in cold black and white as prescribed in legal notes put forward in bills such as this one.
To summarize, New Democrats will be supporting the bill because it is a small step forward. As was mentioned earlier, it is a failed opportunity because it over-promises and under-delivers, as is so often the case when we look at Conservative legislation. If only the title of the bill matched the reality of what is contained within the bill, then we would be a great deal more satisfied, simply because a bill of rights is such an important phraseology for a place like a parliament, implying that the piece of legislation would contain within it rights that people can then hold up and defend their interests in a court of law and when dealing with the judicial system at large.
The challenge we see here is on two fronts. It is a challenge legislatively speaking, in that this bill is desperately lacking in ability to affect laws and compel certain judicial processes to deal with victims; and it is also a challenge on the money side, in terms of the ability to spend sufficient funds to allow victims to have services they will require to get through the system. As we know, we have an excellent justice system, an excellent judiciary, but sometimes it is not completely accessible due to people's insufficient means. Lower-income families will need support, and we do not find it acceptable for the Conservatives to simply pass the buck down to the provinces and then try to take credit.
The last thing I will say is that I have sat at the kitchen tables of families who have suffered enormous loss, the loss of a son or a daughter, from a crime. To try to find some level of understanding and compassion for what they have gone through is difficult, and I am not sure I will ever be able to do that.
What I can appreciate and honour is that those families remain so dedicated to the memory of their loved one, be it a family member, a son, a daughter, a husband, or a wife, and continue to try to make the system better, even in the midst of their grief.
It would be understandable if they chose not to re-engage with the system whatsoever, but they choose, instead, to come to us, as members of Parliament. The least we can do is to honour the memory of those they have lost by bringing in legislation that would actually make the world a better place for victims.
While we are supporting the bill, we do believe the government completely shortchanged those interests of honouring and respecting those values and views.
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 2:20 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Toronto—Danforth for his comments. Bringing this back to the families and the victims who are impacted by crime brings home to all Canadians the importance of getting this type of legislation right.
Families that have gone through losing a family member in particular have been deeply hurt and victimized. Some of those families get through and deal with that grief and then become advocates to try to make the system better for future victims. I do not know if there is any effort made by citizens in this country that is more admirable in that they have had to deal with their personal loss while advocating for better public policy.
My question is very specific and is about what the bill lacks, because I think this is a missed opportunity in some ways. It is not as if we will revisit this type of legislation every year. It has been eight years since the promise from the Conservatives to bring forward this legislation. We finally have it now, so getting it right seems important.
My question is about resources, because we have heard from victims groups before that to properly incorporate victims into the justice system, there needs to be the ability to fund the types of services they will need: the counselling, the access to legal advocacy, and the ability to be in the court system properly.
My friend is a learned scholar and knows the legal system well. A piece of legislation like this, for all its good intentions, without any financial support in it, is worrisome to me in terms of what experience those families will have in the future as they try to approach the justice system and redress some of the faults within our criminal justice system as they exist right now.
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 11:50 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, we know about the Conservative fondness for offshoring and outsourcing Canadian jobs, but it has gotten so ridiculous that even the Minister of Finance is happy to outsource the analysis of his own schemes to a business lobby group.
He did not do his own assessment of his half-billion dollar EI scheme, but relied on one of these lobbyists. It turns out that the study he relied on was totally bogus. That is the problem with outsourcing, namely quality control.
Will the minister finally admit that his $550 million EI rip-off is a complete fraud, and that maybe next time he should do his own homework?
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 11:20 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are starting to wonder whatever happened to those Conservatives who rode into power promising to change Ottawa because instead they see that Ottawa has changed the Conservatives.
The Conservatives promised to clean up the mess from the Liberal sponsorship scandal and instead gave us Mike Duffy and Nigel Wright. They promised to end the decade of darkness in our military and instead brought in a decade of darkness for our veterans. They promised on a stack of bibles that they would regulate the oil and gas sector and now they call that very same policy crazy. They promised to do something about the economy, but now we see 400,000 lost manufacturing jobs and the temporary foreign worker fiasco.
Here is a new year's resolution for Canadians: 2015 is just around the corner, let us stand shoulder-to-shoulder united and kick these Conservatives to the curb.
- MPndpDec 09, 2014 11:40 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, such lefty bastions as the TD Bank, C.D. Howe Institute, and now the OECD have all shown not only that income inequality hurts the far too many Canadians who are left behind, but the growing gap is a direct threat to our fragile economy. We know the Minister of Finance is not so keen on doing any actual analysis of his programs, but rather than make things better, Conservatives invent new ways to make things worse and give more money to the wealthiest Canadians. Will the minister finally drop his $3 billion income-splitting scheme that would do nothing for more than 85% of Canadians and help out poor people in this country, for once?
- MPndpDec 04, 2014 7:20 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, sadly, it is no surprise that the government has chosen to shut down debate yet again. I guess the only surprise is that the government House leader has not memorized the actual statement he has made, because he has made it 83 times. The government has shut down debate 83 times on important pieces of legislation, more than any other government in Canadian history in wartime or in peace.
On this one, a budget implementation bill of 460 pages, in the few speeches we have heard from government members, they have cited all sorts of things that do not even exist within this budget implementation bill. What does exist, in a time of economic fragility, is a rip-off of the employment insurance program of $550 million that may create as few as 800 jobs, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. That is more than half a million dollars per job.
It would also rip social assistance away from refugee claimants. That does not affect the federal treasury whatsoever. That is contained in this bill.
Is it because there are so many terrible things in this bill and there is so little to help the Canadian economy at a time when it needs the help that the government is shutting down debate? Is it because of outright embarrassment for the lack of ambition and foresight contained in this massive omnibus bill?
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 3:10 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I would like to address that quickly and then get to my friend's other points. There have been many iterations of this conversation in legislation put forward by her, myself, and others.
This is very specific, based on the recommendations and advice we got from the people who live in the northwest. They are my friends, my neighbours, and the municipal and first nations leaders, and they prescribed it very specifically. The elders also spoke to me from the first nations communities about the importance of having some connectivity, some basic connection between the values that first nations people hold in the stewardship of the land.
To the other points about the aspirational, we have seen the Conservative government shrink and greatly limit the amount of consultation that can happen on any of the pipelines going across Canada, rather than welcoming Canadians into the debate and hearing the wisdom, intelligence and passion of people who live along the proposed routes of any of these pipelines. It could be the west-east pipeline, Kinder Morgan into Vancouver, or gateway. This bill seeks to open up the conversation, bring people in, and show them some respect.
The last piece is to finally say that value added should be a component of any consideration of any resource project that the government faces. Why a government would be so infatuated and content with raw export, leaving the cost of clean-up behind while sending the jobs off to some other country, is beyond me. It is certainly not in Canadian interests. It may be in the Chinese government's and other governments' interests, but it is certainly not in our own.
That is what the three components of the bill would do, and that is what it seeks to accomplish, finally, through legislation.
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 2:55 pm | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
moved that Bill C-628, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the National Energy Board Act (oil transportation and pipeline certificate), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I represent northwestern British Columbia. It is an incredibly beautiful and powerful part of our country, not only in the make-up of the geography, the stunning mountains, the coastal communities, the ocean, the rivers, but as much in the people who live and have lived there since time immemorial. They are some of the proudest first nation cultures the continent has ever known, the Haida, the Haisla, the Taku River Tlingit, Tsimshian, Gitxsan, and on down the line. These are people living with and from the land.
There is an expression we use in the northwest. We say that “the land makes the people, the people don't make the land”. The bill that I bring to Parliament today for debate is born directly from that love of home, that defence of land, and the aspiration to be able to continue to hand it down to future generations in better condition than we found it, while creating the type of prosperity we all hope for.
I represent the northwest of B.C. It is has been one of the greatest honours and pride of my life. The stunning land has informed my very way of being. I hope every day I am in this place, the House of Commons, to do it some credit.
Over the last decade or so we have been facing a crisis, a crisis that has in fact borne out to be an opportunity. This has been the threat of an 1,100 kilometre pipeline running from Bruderheim, Alberta to the port in Kitimat, containing upwards of 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen a day, then transported in supertankers three football fields long and a football field wide through the narrow passage of the Douglas Channel through three hairpin turns and out through the inside passage and the Hecate Strait by Haida Gwaii and on to China.
This threat is to our very core, our very being, as a people in the northwest, because our culture and our economy rely on the natural environment. We rely on the rivers, on the salmon, on the place that has sustained people for millennia. While this has been a direct threat to all of those things, it has also helped bring us together across the northwest, first nations and non-first nations, conservatives and progressives, people who find their love of the land in many different ways but are unified in the defence of that land.
It has also been born out of the crisis of a federal government that, rather than to work with us as a people, has chosen to use terms like “enemies of the state” and “foreign funded radicals” when we had the audacity to raise our voices about the proposed pipeline and the supertankers that threaten so much. Rather than silence our voices, which I suspect the government and the minister at the time had hoped to do, it strengthened our passions in defence of our home. We have been seeing municipalities, first nation communities, and groups across the political spectrum come together in opposing the plans, not only of this particular oil company with its Enbridge northern gateway pipeline, but also the plans of any government that hopes to bulldoze its way through the people it claims to represent.
It does not make us an enemy of the state to raise our voice in our country. It makes us Canadian. It is not to be an enemy of the state to join together with neighbours in common cause. It makes us Canadian. Any government that suggests otherwise is unfit to govern our great country.
This act defending the north coast does three principal things. It bans the export of raw bitumen and oil products from the north coast of British Columbia, period. It says that and recognizes what we all know to be true, that there are some things that we cannot risk. There are some places that are deserving of our concern and our protection.
The legislation also goes further. It seeks to deepen and broaden community consultations whenever the Government of Canada addresses the Canadian people about important projects like pipelines and mines and anything that might have an impact on our communities and our homes.
One would think the government would learn from the mistakes it has been making time and time again. The Conservatives have gutted the environmental assessment act. They have utterly destroyed the Navigable Waters Protection Act. They have gutted key parts of the Fisheries Act. This is all in an attempt to speed up and ram through various oil pipelines right across Canada.
However, the reaction from Canadians is most Canadian. It has been to oppose such actions, because when the government is not playing a fair and balanced role in a discussion of something as important as the transportation of energy, Canadians notice. Perhaps Canadians are smarter than the Conservatives think because they pay attention to these things, to all of these omnibus bills the Conservatives have been pushing through.
The third component of the bill is finally to ask the question in this place that has not been asked, that we should have an opinion and take some sort of position about the proposed raw export of our natural resources, in this case bitumen out of northern Alberta, with no value-added whatsoever. Not only is it environmentally risky when we move diluted bitumen because it sinks and cannot be cleaned up, it is also economically risky, in fact, economic suicide to export raw resources of such value, leaving behind all the jobs to some other country to pick up, with our resting just with the costs of production alone.
Those three components—to protect the north coast, to encourage and honour public consultation for once, and to finally talk about value added to our natural resources—are the core principles of this bill, borne out of the crisis, borne out of the threat the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline posed to my home, to the people I represent, but allowing us to take it for what it is, which is an opportunity to do something better in this country.
This in fact been a generational debate. Many in this place will not know that we have been debating supertanker bans off the north coast of British Columbia for 42 years in the House of Commons. The House passed a motion by one of my predecessors, Frank Howard, 42 years ago, to do this very thing. The then Liberal government later brought in voluntary prevention of shipping oil in this manner, and just four years ago, the House passed the New Democratic motion to protect the northwest, protect the north coast, and to say no to Enbridge northern gateway.
It has been 42 years. It is time to have a definitive declaration by the House of Commons and to find out, particularly from my B.C. colleagues across the way, who exactly they work for. I say this because I have been touring British Columbia from edge to edge and north to south, talking to hundreds and thousands of British Columbians at over 20 town halls, in Vancouver Island, Vancouver itself, up through the north and into the interior, packing rooms, church basements, community centres, town halls, with British Columbians from right across the political spectrum turning out, signing thousands upon thousands of pages of petitions that had been flooding into my office, participating online through Leadnow, Avaaz, and the Dogwood Initiative, raising their voices because they cannot seem to get the attention of their members of Parliament on this issue, if they happen to be Conservative
This should know no partisan bounds. This is not about right and left; this is about right and wrong. We know that in defence of home, we are always in the right. When we try to take an opportunity to improve the way we do things in this country, that is right. Anyone who thinks in 2014 that we can simply fire up the bulldozers and ram these projects through communities against their will, against the will of first nations that have right and title to the land, is someone living in a fantasy world. In 2006, the current Prime Minister declared for all the world to hear that Canada would become an energy superpower. We remember that.
Well, all these years on, how are they doing? Every major energy transportation project is mired in controversy, the latest being on Burnaby Mountain just outside Vancouver, where a company that wants to build a multibillion dollar pipeline cannot even get its GPS coordinates right when seeking an injunction through the courts.
The people stand up. Of course they stand up. This is a tradition in Canada. This is a welcome tradition in Canada. When a government refuses to listen, the people come together and join their voices one to the other that there is a better way to do things.
Up north, we call it the “Skeena model”, where first nations sit down with industry and industry recognizes their right and title to that land and works from values up, incorporating who we are as a people, as opposed to the top down Ottawa knows best Conservative model, which says, “We're just going to tell you what's going to happen to you. If you have the audacity to raise your voice, if you have the temerity to suggest that this Prime Minister and his oil executive friends do not know better than those of you who live with the resources, those of you who live in the communities that will be impacted and affected, well, then, we're going to try to silence you. We're going to change the laws of the whole country to silence you. We'll push people out of the conversation rather than welcome them in, rather than use their intelligence”.
What has the reaction been? Twice now the Union of B.C. Municipalities has passed resolutions against this pipeline. Twice it has done that. With the Save the Fraser Declaration, more than 130 first nations across British Columbia came together, put their differences aside, and said that this way of doing business is wrong, that the pipeline is wrong for first nations in that province and in this country.
Municipalities right across the northwest, towns that are based on resource development and have been for generations, understand the extractive economy but know that the risks of what Enbridge is proposing, which is supported by the Conservative government, is wrong. From Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, to Terrace, to the site in Kitimat where this pipeline is supposed to land, to Smithers, Hazelton, and on down the line, communities have passed resolutions at the municipal level against this project.
One would think all this would matter to the Conservatives across the way, but not as yet. They have not quite been able to hear their constituents. They have not quite been able to hear the people of British Columbia, who just last year were polled on supertankers off the north coast, and 80% said no. A small indication to my Conservative colleagues is that one in five British Columbians who voted Conservative in the last election said they would switch their vote.
If we cannot make an economic argument the Conservatives are willing to listen to, which is that raw exports are bad for the Canadian resource economy, if we cannot make a moral argument about standing against people who have presented their voices in calm and peaceful ways, if we cannot make the legal argument that this thing is not going to go through the objections of first nations, who just recently proved their case at the Supreme Court through the Tsilhqot’in decision that rights and title must be honoured, if we cannot convince the Conservatives on any of those fronts, then certainly we can convince them of the politics, because that is something the Prime Minister claims to pay a lot of attention to.
I can remember the day the Conservatives gave their tacit approval to this pipeline. Lord help the media who were out there trying to get one Conservative MP from British Columbia to make one comment about how enthusiastic he or she was about this pipeline. They could not find a one. They did find one, actually, after a few days of hunting, and his message was, “Do not worry, this pipeline will not be built anyway”. What kind of government operates this way? What kind of integrity is this? What happened to standing up for Canada?
The threat is real when a government has so lost its way that it feels it does not derive its power, authority, and legitimacy from the people of this country.
The threat to the wild salmon economy just in the northwest alone is $140 million per year. Across British Columbia, it is $1.7 billion from the seafood industry and recreation. It is $1.5 billion from tourism, which is almost wholly based on the appreciation of what British Columbia is, which is a magnificent and beautiful place, a place all Canadians treasure, certainly those of us who live there, in their imaginations, hearts, and minds.
Through all of this, we launched the campaign takebackourcoast.ca. Thousands upon thousands of average, ordinary, everyday British Columbians have been signing on and joining, encouraging their friends to participate. They believe in one hopeful idea: that we still have something akin to representative government that seeks to represent the people rather than some narrow interests, a government that if pleaded with at the moral, legal, ethical, and economic level, and ultimately, I suppose, at the political level, we can sway, even the current government when it comes to oil and the oil industry, to do the right thing.
I believe in my heart of hearts that there are friends across the way. I appreciate the support we have heard from the Liberal Party and the Green Party. I believe in my heart of hearts that there are members across the way who understand the importance of getting this right, of having an energy policy that actually fits with Canadian values, and that in this day and age, we can do better than what we have seen so far. In this day and age, we can learn to respect first nations and respect citizens when they come forward. We can understand that this project, as designed by northern gateway, is not in the interest of this country and certainly not in the interest of the people I represent. There is a better way, one that seeks to respect those who send us here, one that seeks to respect rights and title, one that seeks to respect, finally, the balance and harmony we seek with the environment in which we live.
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 7:55 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting my friend.
I was listening to his speech and the measures he was talking about, and I was looking for some reference point back to the bill that we are debating. The measures that he is—
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 7:35 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, the challenge for the Liberals is that first, they have actually changed that particular proposal three times in the two weeks since they first introduced it.
Second, the Liberals have it completely wrong. We had a small-business hiring tax credit that came out of general revenues that worked. It did not raid the EI fund. It worked so well that the government picked it up, and small businesses loved it, including the CFIB, because it was a tax credit linked to the creation of a job, not the hope and promise of a job.
We have seen massive amounts of tax cuts going to the largest and most profitable corporate sectors, which have not gone back into the economy. We have one of the lowest research and development reinvestment rates in the world. We have seen upwards of $600 billion that the Conservatives call “dead money”, money that was given back to them in tax cuts that they did not reinvest back into the economy.
If they are going to give businesses a break to create jobs, then why not tie the string and say that when the businesses create the jobs, that is when they will get the tax credit? That is what Jack Layton promoted and what we continue to promote, not these schemes that would only fail workers and hurt those who pay into the EI fund.
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 7:30 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I heard a question in the member's comments.
There is actually a significant change in the argument we have heard from the Conservatives. If members remember, initially the finance minister said that this was going to create 25,000 jobs, or person years. They changed the metrics a little bit.
The initiative to take $550 million out of the employment insurance fund, money that does not belong to the government, was to create jobs. That was the headline. That was the news. That is what the minister was saying. However, when we asked for any analysis, when we asked them to defend this argument, they had nothing. What they had were a couple of quotes from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Dan Kelly, who is the head of that organization, said:
On a firm-by-firm basis, I think that's quite right. You are not going to pay for a full job through an EI hiring credit.
It is not a huge amount of money. This is not a scheme that will create the jobs the government claims. In a time of economic weakness, in a time of global uncertainty, to take $550 million out of the EI fund and not create any jobs out of it seems like a failed opportunity. To not allow people who paid into the fund, because it is not just the employers, it is the employees, to actually access employment insurance, especially if they have lost their jobs, as 400,000 of them just in the manufacturing sector have, seems cruel. It seems bad for the economy.
If the Conservatives are now saying that maybe it will maintain a few jobs, that is a completely different argument than the one the finance minister used. They will have to get their arguments straight. The Conservatives certainly do not have any evidence to back up that this is what they claimed initially.
This will not do what it says, and that is a failure of any intelligence from the government.
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 7:20 am | British Columbia, Skeena—Bulkley Valley
Motion No. 50
That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 225.
Motion No. 51
That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 226.
Motion No. 52
That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 228.
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