Mr. Speaker, you will recall that on the date in question, the Speaker himself said that he would follow up with the member for Ottawa—Orléans and make sure that he gave his excuse and his apologies to the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. That has not been the case.
Through you, again, Mr. Speaker, to the member for Ottawa—Orléans, he should be standing, he should be apologizing, he should be withdrawing his remarks, and that is all he should be doing.
The member for Beauharnois—Salaberry is owed an apology.
Mr. Speaker, on Friday, February 6, the House Leader of the Official Opposition raised a point of order against me. It can be found on page 11171 of Hansard.
In his intervention, the leader claims that during question period that very day I shouted disparaging and inappropriate remarks regarding the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. He is right to say that I know what is appropriate and what is not.
I thank the hon. opposition leader for raising this matter. When he did, I was in the public gallery above him with the hard-working president of the Convent Glen—Orléans Wood Community Association. I was not aware of what I might have said to so offend the sensibilities of the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster, so I looked in the blues and did not find my intervention.
Obviously, whatever I said caused so little fuss that the keepers of the official record ignored it.
However, I do recall reacting to the preamble to the question from the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry. She said that the Government of Canada, which is so capably led by the current Prime Minister, had cut billions of dollars in health transfers. Since we have increased these transfers by 68%, $14 billion, in nine years, I erupted, something I rarely do.
Since the opposition House leader drew my rare heckling to the Speaker's attention, it is now printed in the Debates of the House of Commons on page 11168.
I am unreservedly contrite for having used the Lord's name in vain. It was an unconsidered intervention. I had never done it before and I will not do it again. I seek your forgiveness, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House.
I have the deepest respect for the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry and for her professional training as a teacher. For that reason, I was surprised by the lack of rigour in the preamble to her question of February 6. She deserves the presumption of good faith. I have no doubt that when she asks her next question, she will—
Mr. Speaker, during question period, the member for Ottawa—Orléans shouted disparaging and inappropriate remarks regarding the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.
That member has been in the House for a long time. He knows what is appropriate and what is not. I therefore ask that he apologize to the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry and withdraw his remarks.
Mr. Speaker, I rise enthusiastically in the few minutes left in debate to support Bill S-219, the journey to freedom day act.
I spent a significant amount of time in Vietnam in my previous life as a journalist in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and even into the 1990s. I had the dubious privilege of being in Saigon on that dark day, April 30, 1975, when I was lifted out of the American compound with the final Americans present, other third country nationals, and more than 7,000 South Vietnamese nationals. I watched with great concern during the dark years of re-education through the late 1970s and afterward, and followed with great concern the plight of those who were forced through circumstance to leave their country and seek a better life elsewhere.
I can reassure my colleagues who expressed concern, the members for Beauharnois—Salaberry and Winnipeg North, that this bill will be going to committee. The committee will hear witnesses across the spectrum, and I look forward to seeing the Vietnamese ambassador during this coming committee study.
I would say to him that this bill is not a condemnation of the present government. We have close and good ties with the current government. This portrays a particularly dark period and the journey to freedom of hundreds of thousands of people. Of these, 60,000 came to Canada. In fact, greater freedoms came to Vietnam not through war but through the pressures of capitalism, free enterprise, and the will of the people for better lives in Vietnam.
Just to conclude, the significance of the commemoration of journey to freedom day is really threefold. It would mark the tragic events following the fall of Saigon and the exodus of the Vietnamese refugees. It would also pay tribute to all of those Canadians who rose to the challenge, welcomed the traumatized refugees, and helped them adjust to a new and better life in a new and unfamiliar land. Finally, it would celebrate the incredible contributions that the Vietnamese refugees have made to the building of our great country.
This was demonstrated just last week at this year's Tet celebration in Toronto, where members will recall that the Prime Minister addressed a crowd of over 10,000 grateful Canadians of Vietnamese origin.
All Canadians should know the story of the Vietnamese refugees who were forced to flee their native land, of the vast humanitarian effort undertaken by Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and of the triumph over adversity that the vibrant Vietnamese community in Canada represents today.
The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.
Before we go to the answer, I just remind all hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair.
The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.
Order, please. The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.
The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.
The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry has 40 seconds left.
That this House: (a) agree with many Canadians and the International Energy Agency that there is grave concern with the impacts of a 2 degree rise in global average temperatures; (b) condemn the lack of effective action by successive federal governments since 1998 to address emissions and meet our Kyoto commitments; and (c) call on the government to immediately table its federal climate change adaptation plan.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for reading out our motion, because I think the wording is very important. That is why we are here.
We are here to reaffirm our commitment to the struggle against climate change, as well as reaffirm our commitment and belief in support of the science that supports that struggle.
Members may ask, why today? Why should we debate this issue today? The answer is that we are here today on the issue of climate change because the Minister of Natural Resources commented publicly last week in La Presse that he does not believe that people are worried about these changes to the planet. When challenged on this statement, the minister doubled down on his claims, despite zero evidence to the contrary.
It is so bad that the U.S. newspaper headlines today are actually calling this minister “the minister of oil for Canada”. This minister has been defended, remarkably, by the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment. He has been applauded by the climate change deniers in his caucus, who think nothing of the risk to our planet and the burden that their wilful blindness will leave to future generations.
According to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, a round table that the Conservatives have axed, the world has seen an increase in surface temperature of 0.78° since the mid-19th century, and in the last 60 years Canada has already seen a massive 1.3° change.
What does this mean? The 2° threshold is a dangerous tipping point for irreversible, catastrophic climate change. That is what happens if we see 2° of warming.
The Minister of Natural Resources keeps quoting the International Energy Agency. When he quotes the IEA and quotes the scenario, he is actually quoting 6° of warming.
What does that mean? The 6° scenario, as set out by the International Energy Agency, takes the planet beyond any reasonable expectation of survival. That is the scenario this minister is quoting. In addition, he does not actually think there is anything to worry about. I disagree with him.
My colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry also disagrees. I would love to be able to share my time with her so that she could point out the fallacy in the minister's logic.
During this debate, we should prepare ourselves for an onslaught of greenwashing from the government side today. They are going to take credit for the success of provincial emissions reductions. They are going to celebrate the fact that they are on track to miss their climate change targets by 50%. They are going to miss them, and these targets are actually woefully inadequate.
The Conservatives are going to claim that they are responsible for stabilizing emissions in Canada, but they are contradicted by the most recent annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory, which was released earlier this month.
They are going to ignore the fact that they foolishly cancelled the wildly successful ecoEnergy home retrofit program, despite the incredible promise that this program held for long-term job creation, for reductions in emissions and for making life more affordable for all Canadians. I guess that program was just a little too successful for them.
The Conservatives will also allege that they understand and prioritize sustainable development, even though they have gutted environmental assessments in this country so that 99% of assessments will no longer happen. It is almost impossible to wrap our heads around.
They have decimated the protection of our fisheries. We no longer protect fish habitat in Canada. This is fish habitat, and our fisheries are worth multiple billions of dollars a year.
The Conservatives have eradicated protections for our lakes and our rivers, jeopardizing the livelihoods and recreation and first nations traditions of Canadians across the country.
The Conservatives' record on climate change is abysmal. They have repeatedly embarrassed Canada on the international stage by causing confusion during climate change negotiations, pulling out of the Kyoto protocol—Canada was the only country to do so—and pulling out of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, another international first. They slashed renowned programs on ozone and fresh water that were being used around the world. We have become the pariahs of international climate negotiations. The Conservatives have lowered Canadian emission reduction targets by 90% since they came to power in 2006.
To say they do not have the will to tackle climate change would be a huge understatement. They ignore the fact that climate change does not recognize borders, that it is a global problem and that it affects the health of all human beings, as well as the food security and national security of all countries.
The Conservatives are being irresponsible by allowing Canada to fall behind on the diplomatic scene and in terms of commercial and economic development. The delay in transitioning to a greener economy is making Canada less globally competitive. We are not taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by green solutions and technologies, whether in the area of manufacturing, research, innovation or trade.
Instead, the government has taken the inefficient and ineffective sector-by-sector regulatory approach to emissions regulations, although it is grossly delayed at the same time in actually regulating sectors like the oil and gas sector. This sector is the fastest-growing source of emissions in Canada. Keep in mind that the Conservatives promised those regulations on oil and gas. They said they would actually be in place in December 2009. It is 2013.
The Conservatives claim that their approach to emissions reductions is not costing Canadians. We all know that is ridiculous because the cost of regulations is always carried on to the consumer. The issue is that the Conservatives refuse to be upfront about the costs of their sector-by-sector approach on Canadians as well as the cost of their delay to regulate and the cost of their unambitious emissions targets.
It is cheaper to tackle climate change than it is to just allow it to happen. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy predicted that the cost of climate change in Canada alone would be $5 billion per year by 2020; 2020 is the same year that we are missing those inadequate targets by 50%. It also predicted that this would cost us as much as $43 billion a year by 2050. We have to act.
Today, we are calling on the government to table its climate change plan. That is all we want. We want to see what its plan is. I do not have a high expectation that it will, despite the fact that the government committed in 2007 to develop this kind of a policy framework and despite the fact that it actually agreed with the 2010 recommendations of the Environment Commissioner's fall report. It has failed. For good reason in chapter 3 of his report with respect to the need for adaptation measures in Canada, the Environment Commissioner wrote:
Government reports have demonstrated that climate change affects all regions of the country and a wide range of economic sectors. These impacts and the need to adapt to them touch on virtually all federal government portfolios, with significant implications for policies and programs related to Canadians’ health and the country’s industry, infrastructure, and ecosystems....The health of Canadians and Canada’s natural environment, communities, and economy are vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. Some of these impacts are already occurring from coast to coast. They are most evident in Canada’s North where, for example, the thawing of permafrost as a result of temperature increases is affecting the stability of roads, buildings, pipelines, and other infrastructure.
Yet, the Minister of Natural Resources thinks that we are radicals for wanting to talk about climate change and the costs of environmental degradation. I think we are radically practical. Throughout the day we will hear the NDP plan to address climate change because we do have a plan that includes a price on carbon, includes adopting our climate change accountability act. We will hear from members of my caucus talk about these measures that the NDP supports. It is only the NDP that can be trusted to tackle climate change because it is at the core of who we are as social democrats. I am proud to stand here today with my colleagues to reaffirm that commitment.
Before we return to debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Employment Insurance; the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, The Environment.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Bill C-55 today. I am thankful to my friend, the very hard-working member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, for her kind attention to it also.
The bill is really about striking a balance between personal freedom and public safety that was not achieved with the previous bill, Bill C-30. In the five years or so that I have been here, I cannot recall a topic or bill that has caused so much reaction from constituents. There may be one or two other bills that the constituents in my riding have been very concerned about, but reaction to this one in particular was certainly inflamed by the comments made by the Minister of Public Safety when Bill C-30 was introduced. I am pleased that something is now being done.
I am not sure whether the government is doing this now for political reasons or because the Supreme Court has said that it has until next month to have these amendments ready. In any case, Bill C-55 is certainly a welcome change and welcome difference from the previous bill, Bill C-30.
For those folks who might be watching at home, I want to talk about the bill for a second and give a bit of background.
This enactment amends the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court's decision in R. v. Tse in order to provide safeguards relating to authorization to intercept private communications without prior judicial authorization under section 184.4. Notably, the enactment requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Attorney General of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under that section. It also provides that a person who has been the subject of such interception must be notified of the interception within a specified period. As well, it narrows the class of individuals who can make such an interception and limits those interceptions to offences listed in section 183 of the Criminal Code. On one hand it has been narrowed, but it is also now putting in the safeguards that Bill C-30 did not have to ensure that the personal freedom of Canadians is not infringed upon unduly while public safety is served.
This does strike a nice balance. That is why the NDP and I will certainly be supporting the bill at third reading.
In its simplest terms, this new legislation is simply an updated version of the wiretapping provisions that the Supreme Court has ruled to be unconstitutional. The court has established new parameters for the protection of privacy. We in the NDP believe that this legislation complies with those standards.
Canadians have good reason to be concerned about Conservatives' privacy legislation. It seems to not be front and centre or at least top of mind when legislation is put together, so the ruling of the Supreme Court was certainly welcome, and Bill C-55, which is a result of that ruling, is also certainly welcome.
The proposed amendments appear in direct response to the Supreme Court decision. They add safeguards that constitute notification and reporting under section 184.4 of the Criminal Code. Specifically, the legislation would require giving a person 90 days' notice—although there could be an extension made by a judge—after his or her private communications have been intercepted in situations of “imminent harm”, which are two very important words.
The bill also requires the preparation of annual reports on the use of wiretaps. These amendments appear to be in direct response to the court's instruction in this matter.
As a result, we support the bill. It is essential that such investigative measures include oversight and accountability.
We have certainly heard, and my constituents have heard, over and over again from this government those terms “oversight”, “accountability” and “transparency”. Certainly Bill C-30, the original incarnation of this bill, did not include any of those things. This new bill, Bill C-55, does, and as I said before, it is welcome.
When New Democrats look at the bill, we look at the public interest of the bill and respect for the rule of law. That is why Bill C-30 was a bill that we simply could not support: it failed on both of those counts. Bill C-55, after we have studied it, certainly would appear to do that, and we will be supporting it at third reading. Most importantly, it would meet the rule of law, the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We do not expect that there would be a further Supreme Court case on Bill C-55.
I will talk about section 184.4 of the Criminal Code. The Supreme Court decision stated:
Section 184.4 recognizes that on occasion the privacy interests of some may have to yield temporarily for the greater good of society — here, the protection of lives and property from harm that is both serious and imminent.
With regard to Bill C-30, the court also stated:
In its present form however, s. 184.4 contains no accountability measures to permit oversight of the police use of the power.
I quote that because that is essentially what Bill C-55 would do. It would ensure that there would be safeguards for the public good, while at the same time protecting public safety.
A number of experts have indicated that they are pleased with Bill C-55 and the changes that have been made, and it comes just under the wire of when the Supreme Court said the changes needed to be made. I take it on faith that the government is presenting Bill C-55 in good faith, that it is not for political reasons, that it has listened to the Supreme Court decision and has made the changes accordingly. I do not yet know how the Liberals feel about this particular bill and I certainly look forward to hearing what they have to say on it.
I look forward to any questions members may have for me.
Before we resume debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, Environment; the hon. member for Alfred-Pellan, Correctional Service of Canada.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Drummond.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to follow the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who gave a wonderful, detailed speech.
We have just begun to really delve into this bill that is more than 1,000 pages long. Bill C-48 is absolutely enormous.
As my colleague just said, we are talking about measures that should have been taken 10 or more years ago. Some of them go back as far as 1998. We have to wonder why the government took so long to introduce this huge bill in the House. Why did it take so long to address the 200 various sectors affected by previous budgets? Why did the government drag its feet on introducing these technical amendments in the House?
When we look at the size and scope of this massive bill, we are talking about areas touched throughout the tax system: changing how labour-sponsored venture capital corporations are treated and the transitional issues that arise from that; amending corporate taxable income allocation formulas; looking at the tax treatment of shares dealing with offshore investment fund property and non-resident trusts; dealing with taxation of foreign affiliates of Canadian multinational corporations, affecting legislation that touches both common law and civil law; avoiding anti-avoidance measures for specific leasing properties; clarifying rules on taxable Canadian properties; looking at housekeeping changes to the Excise Tax Act; clarifying the minister's authority; allowing for tax administration agreements; and putting in place coordinating amendments.
Many of these measures date from more than a decade ago. As my colleagues from Beauharnois—Salaberry and Edmonton—Strathcona mentioned earlier, the former Auditor General of Canada called the government on its complete absence of bringing forward all of the 1,000 pages of technical amendments that should have been brought forward years ago.
Commitments were made at one point. I am not going to criticize just the Conservatives. I am going to criticize the Liberals, as well.
Indications were made in the past that these types of technical amendments should be brought in on an annual basis. What the Parliament of Canada would be called upon to look through would be, basically, one-twelfth of what we are looking at today. On an annual basis, technical treatment would then be updated. That is a necessary part of our tax system. That would mean, as well, that we would avoid the kinds of loopholes that exist when the House of Commons passes budgets or measures are put into place and the technical amendments are never brought forward.
That is not what happened under the Liberals. We know now that the Liberals were simply unable to put in place an effective administrative structure for technical amendments. It has not happened under the Conservatives, either. This is something New Democrats deplore. Of course, we support these technical amendments, but instead of dealing with a yearly review that would allow those technical amendments to be brought in in a systematic way and on a timely basis, we are dealing with another massive Conservative bill of 1,000 pages that Parliament is being asked to scrutinize, because for over a decade, the work was not done.
This is symptomatic of why many Canadians consider the idea of Conservative administrative competence to be an oxymoron. We have seen this time and time again, whether we are talking about technical amendments that have not been brought in or massive budget bills that are thrown on the floor of the House of Commons without the government having any understanding of what the impacts are.
We saw last spring massive changes to environmental assessments and the National Energy Board. Charitable people would say that the government was simply unaware of what it was trying to do when it gutted 99% of environmental assessments in this country. That is what a charitable person would say. The government was simply incompetent. Many others believe that it was mean-spirited and deliberate. Even though the government pretended that it had no idea that it was gutting 99% of environmental assessments in this country, the government actually did understand that it was doing that when it threw those amendments forward. Either way, what we are seeing is administrative incompetence and mean-spiritedness of the highest order.
I am privileged to come from the political party that over the last 20 years, when it has been in power, according to the federal Ministry of Finance, has been the most effective at managing the nation's finances and paying down debt in various provinces. For the last 20 years, the fiscal period returns, year after year, have indicated that NDP governments are much better at balancing budgets and paying down debt. They are much better than their Conservative counterparts and much better than their Liberal counterparts, who seem to be even worse than the Conservatives, if people can believe that, in terms of balancing budgets and paying down debt. Fiscal period returns show that. We certainly have no lessons to learn from anybody.
I would say to the Canadian public that we always have to endeavour to be better and more transparent. We had the Leader of the Opposition stand in the House today and put forward an NDP bill to put in place a Parliamentary Budget Officer. What we believe in is a system of checks and balances, in terms of finance, to ensure that the public is aware that the figures we are putting forward are tested by an impartial third party. We believe in supporting our Auditor General's department and in actually enhancing the ability of the Auditor General to look at the nation's finances as well.
What have the Conservatives done? It is quite the opposite. By death from a thousand cuts, they have cut back on the Auditor General's ability to actually look at the nation's finances. They are seriously, in the most vicious, underhanded way, attacking the Parliamentary Budget Officer. They are systematically removing, and this is the only government in the western world doing this, the checks and balances the Canadian public depends on.
On our side of the House, not only are we better financial administrators, we also believe in the impartiality of a third party to ensure and verify that the financial figures put forward by a government are tested and are subject to those rigorous tests of checks and balances the Canadian public expects.
In my riding of Burnaby—New Westminster, what I hear most often from people who voted Conservative last time, because I still had about a third of the public in Burnaby—New Westminster vote Conservative last time, is that they voted for administrative competence, and they have gotten incompetence. They say that they voted for some kind of honesty on fiscal matters and have gotten exactly the opposite.
People who voted Conservative are now saying that what they got is the F-35 scandal, the continuous shame of Conservative senators trying to bilk the public and milk the public of every last dollar, pretending they live in provinces where they do not and trying to break the law in a couple of jurisdictions.
What former Conservative voters, because they are not going to vote that way in 2015, are telling us is that it is not what they voted for, but that is what they have gotten.
When we look back to Bill C-48, we can see that this is symptomatic of a much greater malaise. We have a Conservative government that is administratively incompetent, that is mean-spirited and that is unable to control the natural inclination of the Prime Minister to go after shiny baubles and pay whatever it takes, whether we are talking about the Muskoka spending of $1 billion or the $40 billion or more that would go into the F-35s or the ongoing scandal of Senate-gate, with 15 Conservative senators now trying to hide where they live to cover up their past indiscretions.
When we look at all of those things, what we see is symptomatic of why so many Canadians are saying that what they want to see, whether we are talking about a bill like this or any other government decision, is competence. They want to see a government that actually understands the impacts of what it is doing. They want to see a government that is not bringing forward 14 years of technical amendments, because it has been dropping the ball, systemically, for the last seven years.
In 2015, what Canadians will get is a government that is competent, an NDP government that will be submitting technical amendments on an annual basis, because that is what is right and proper for this House of Commons to consider.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry on her great speech. She is very gracious and works very hard in the House. The voters of Beauharnois—Salaberry are well represented.
She talked about the many blunders made by this Conservative government. As we know, at the end of every year, the Department of Finance releases a report on financial results. For the past 20 years, it has compared NDP, Conservative and Liberal governments. For the past 20 years, the NDP has always come out on top thanks to our wise financial governance and our ability to balance budgets and reduce debt.
So, the NDP are better than the Conservatives when it comes to fiscal management. Does the member think that that is a valid reason for the Conservatives to shut down the office that acted independently to keep an eye on the nation's finances? After all, the Conservatives are not very good at managing finances.
The electoral district of Beauharnois--Salaberry (Quebec) has a population of 106,856 with 86,431 registered voters and 232 polling divisions.
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