Mr. Speaker, the environment is the economy. Nearly two years ago, on May 10, 2013, I stood in the House next to the environment minister to declare what British Columbians and Canadians believe: that the environment is the economy.
Every time we consider whether environmental and economic factors are in balance, we are suggesting that the environment and the economy are in conflict with each other. Some would argue that we must sacrifice one to advance the other. In other words, we tend, wrongly, to start our discussion from the notion that the economy and the environment are at war with each other.
As a member of Parliament, I am increasingly required to consider the impact of industrial projects on the economy and environment, especially in the riding I represent. Throughout the year, conversations at events, in coffee shops, and in the homes of constituents are often related to responsible resource development. Constituents of mine, as individuals and in groups, have consistently expressed their support for Canada's economic success, but have also stood for responsible environmental practices befitting of a riding that many call the most beautiful place on earth.
Some of these proud Canadians include former fisheries minister John Fraser, Carl Halvorson of the North Vancouver Outdoor School based in Squamish, Squamish first nation elder Randall Lewis, and David Bromley, a world-renowned environmental engineer. The environment is the economy. This is the message we Canadians are increasingly taking to our Prime Minister, the natural resources industry, and the environment, fisheries, and other ministers. Bill C-46, the pipeline safety act, shows that our government is listening.
The environment is the economy. This is best illustrated in the context of value-added projects both in the riding I represent and elsewhere in Canada. This government has created a challenging review process for natural resource projects, where proponents have a high standard to meet. They must increasingly show better productivity and value to Canada, with less waste, more efficient use of resources, and a respect for the environment we cherish. These projects have a significant impact on the quality of life in Canada, providing financial and infrastructure inputs. Canada needs these projects.
The automatic reaction of “stop” is a simplistic approach, characteristic of special interest groups that just want to stall projects. This Conservative government believes in the need for continuous improvement in project implementation and impact mitigation. However, we are opposed to the simplistic hands-down rejection by people who would just say no to industry, who forget Canada's entrepreneurial roots, and who would leap to negative conclusions without due process, sound data, or information to support their position.
More and more, we Canadians are learning the benefits derived from a focus on the environment. Specifically, less use of resource inputs such as water, energy, and land has made us more efficient, leading to higher productivity and economic sustainability. As a government, we have emphasised the need for a science-based, independent, objective approval process that keeps us focused on the real objective of less impact, greater efficiency, and sustainability.
This government's focus on these principles has driven a culture of responsibility to improve continuously. The result has been the growth of jobs in the environmental sector, which now supports employment levels that dwarf even the automotive and oil and gas sectors. According to the organization ECO Canada, as of 2013, some 682,000 jobs in Canada are directly related to the environment. The focus on the environment is a change agent, not a simplistic “stop” agent. It is why I continue to say that Canada's environment is our economy.
Our government continues to rely upon independent, objective scientific assessments before approving any project. We saw this approach at work recently in our government's rejection of the Taseko New Prosperity mine project in northern B.C., an ambitious proposal to create thousands of jobs and large economic stimulus, but nevertheless rejected for environmental reasons. Many British Columbians supported the Taseko initiative, but environmental considerations prevailed. As demonstrated by that decision, our government has pledged that natural resource development will only proceed if the project is proven to be safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
The pipeline safety act would complement a number of measures previously implemented by our government to strengthen pipeline safety, which provided the National Energy Board, for example, the authority to levy administrative monetary penalties and increase the number of inspections and audits.
Bill C-46 would build on this work and provide a world-class regulatory regime for Canada's pipeline sector, while strengthening protection for Canadians and the environment. Bill C-46 addresses three main areas, which are incident prevention, preparedness and response, and liability and compensation.
Today, as a lawyer, I am focusing on the area of liability and compensation, particularly emphasizing the bill's strengthened measures to compensate for environmental damages in keeping with the polluter pays principle.
Under Bill C-46, our government would deliver on the promise to enshrine the polluter pays principle in law, to make it an important foundation for the pipeline safety regime. It would place accountability on industy and protect Canadian taxpayers from having to pay for damages and cleanup costs in the unlikely event of a spill or accident. The polluter pays principle assigns responsibility to the polluter for paying for damage to the environment, as well as the associated cleanup costs.
One of the key features of the proposed law is that it would raise the cap for absolute civil liability up to $1 billion for pipeline owners, even where there is no fault or negligence on the part of the proponent. On the other hand, liability where the pipeline owner is at fault or negligent would remain unlimited. Another key feature is that the legislation would establish the legal right for various parties to seek environmental damages. This would ensure that any damages to wildlife, waterways, or other public resources could be addressed.
The absolute or no-fault liability regime created under Bill C-46 would be one of the most robust and comprehensive in the world. While the U.S. and the U.K. have similar legislation in place, the $1 billion minimum financial capacity, and absolute liability limit would be unique to Canada. Canada would also be unique in having a cost recovered financial backstop model that provides complete coverage for cleanup and damages.
Our country has a world-class pipeline safety system. Between 2000 and 2011, federally regulated pipelines boasted a safety record of over 99.999%.
The natural resources sector is the largest private employer of aboriginal people in Canada. The plan described in the pipeline safety act was developed closely with industry and aboriginal communities to provide training for aboriginal communities on pipeline monitoring and response. This would allow aboriginal people to continue to make important contributions as full partners in the development of our natural resources.
In conclusion, Canada's environment is the economy. This government supports robust processes that take into account all considerations relevant to British Columbians and Canadians: a sustainable environment, value-adding jobs, and thriving economic growth.
Let us put an end to the “stop” mentality, which is characterized by not having sound data, and let us start encouraging open dialogue that considers all of the evidence, starting with this question of pipeline safety.
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague talks about small businesses and asks why we are not helping small business, yet we are helping small business. In fact, we introduced the small business job credit, which NDP members voted against. If they want to help small business, why do they keep voting against all the measures we have created to help businesses in this country?
I will share with members some of the other things we have done to help businesses We have provided $1.4 billion in tax relief for new manufacturing machinery and equipment through the accelerated capital cost allowance. We have improved support for Canada's aerospace industry by investing almost $1 billion in the strategic aerospace and defence initiative to ensure that the needs of the industry continue to be met. We have supported Canada's vibrant shipbuilding industry, which is very important in my riding of north Vancouver, with $35 billion in funding. This will create tens of thousands of jobs over the next 30 years and breathe new life into that industry.
These are just some of the things we have done to help businesses in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, every day we hear the member for Winnipeg North, because he is constantly on his feet in the House on every topic, which is good. However, after listening to him today, I cannot help but comment.
The member for North Vancouver talked about the budget implementation bill and the DNA missing persons index for murdered and missing women. This DNA missing persons index is very important to our country and the many victims who have gone missing. Identifying missing persons brings resolution to many families after someone has gone missing.
Having said that, an inquiry is something that has been done over and over again. I would ask the member if he does not believe it is time to take action and solve the missing and murdered women issue in a concrete way, such as having round tables, but also to actually get the job done, instead of talking about it.
Mr. Speaker, under the strong economic management of our Prime Minister, we are in a position to fulfill our promise to help Canadian families balance their budgets. With the enhancement of the universal child care benefit, moms and dads in North Vancouver and across this country will receive nearly $2,000 per year for every child under 6 and $720 per year for every child between the ages of 6 and 17.
Partnered with the family tax cut, the vast majority of benefits will flow to low and middle-income Canadian families, but the Liberals and the NDP want to take this money away and spend it on big government bureaucracy instead. Removing essential tax cuts like the enhanced universal child care benefit and the family tax cut is not looking out for Canadians.
Only our Conservative government can be trusted to balance the budget while relieving the tax burden on Canadian families.
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to present Bill C-43 at third reading. This important bill implements key initiatives from economic action plan 2014.
This year's budget has further illustrated the responsible leadership of our government. It is a budget that builds on our strengths and continues to implement the government's plan for jobs and growth. Our efforts to support jobs and growth are underpinned by our plan to return to balanced budgets in 2015. This commitment to fiscal responsibility has helped to ensure that Canada maintains its hard-earned international economic fiscal advantage, which will help foster a growing, healthy economy that creates stable, well-paying jobs for all Canadians.
Indeed, our government's plan to return to balanced budgets is not an end in itself, but a means to increase Canada's economic potential, improve employment opportunities for Canadians, and raise our standard of living. It is for this reason that we made returning to balanced budgets the cornerstone of our economic action plan. To that end, economic action plan 2014 continues to focus on creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity: long-lasting prosperity, the kind that our children can rely on and that future generations can appreciate.
However, I must remind members that the global economic situation remains fragile and that difficulties beyond our borders may affect Canada.
Thus, it is truly important for our Conservative government to implement its economic action plan, which will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
Bill C-43 does not deviate from these objectives. It supports jobs and growth, helps families, strengthens communities and continues to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system.
I would like to highlight today some of the key budget measures in Bill C-43 and thereby demonstrate how this government is demonstrating strong and responsible leadership with this major legislative measure.
First, let me touch on some ways our government is making our tax system simpler and fairer. This includes closing tax loopholes and strengthening tax enforcement to ensure all Canadians pay their fair share. Since 2006, our government has taken significant steps to establish our country as a global clean energy leader, including through regulatory actions, investments in technology and innovation, and broad-based incentives. The government has also supported these sectors through the tax system by expanding eligibility for the accelerated CCA for clean energy generation equipment.
In 2013, we encouraged businesses to invest in new clean energy technologies by expanding the types of organic waste that can be used in qualifying biogas production equipment and the range of qualifying equipment that can be used to treat gases from waste. Today's legislation would build on that success by expanding eligibility for the accelerated capital cost allowance, CCA, for clean energy generation equipment to include water current energy equipment and a broader range of equipment used to gasify eligible waste.
However, that is not all. Today's legislation also focuses on connecting Canadians with available jobs by helping them to acquire the skills that will get them hired and will help get them better-paying jobs.
In Canada, apprentices in skilled trades do most of their learning during on-the-job paid employment and are required to participate in technical training for short periods ranging from six to eight weeks each year. Apprentices can face significant costs to complete these periods of technical training required by their program, including educational fees, tools and equipment, and forgone wages.
That is why, in order to help connect Canadians with available jobs, we created the Canada apprentice loan. This initiative will help apprentices in Red Seal trades by providing them with access to over $100 million in interest-free loans each year to complete their training.
More specifically, Bill C-43 amends the Income Tax Act to extend the existing tax credit for interest paid on student loans—a non-refundable tax credit for interest on loans paid under the Canada student loans program and similar provincial programs—to interest paid on a Canada apprentice loan.
By helping Canadians get the skills they need to find a new job or a better job, we are investing directly and effectively in this country's greatest asset—our people, who are supporting the economy in general.
Another way we are proposing to improve our system of taxation is by updating the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. Earlier this year, the government released for public comment draft legislative proposals relating to technical changes to the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, and related regulations.
Following this public consultation, Bill C-43 includes amendments to relieve the goods and services tax or harmonized sales tax on services of refining precious metals supplied to a non-resident person who is not registered for GST/HST purposes and to implement real property technical amendments that provide for the consistent treatment of different types of housing and ensure that the special valuation rule for subsidized housing works properly with the GST/HST place-of-supply rules and in the context of a GST/HST rate change.
We will continue to build on our government's stellar track record of improving the fairness and integrity of Canada's tax system, and as is evident from some of these measures, Bill C-43 does exactly that.
There is so much more to this bill than simply tax measures. This bill implements many positive budget measures that I would like to address now, and at the same time I would like to highlight some of the misinformation that the opposition would have Canadians believe.
Bill C-43 proposes to establish the governance structure for a new world-class science and technology research facility that would serve as a hub for Canadian and international Arctic research. The Canadian High Arctic Research Station, also known as CHARS, will not only strengthen Canada's position as a world leader in cutting-edge research in the Arctic but will also support the local economy in the region by creating jobs.
The opposition consistently accuses our government of a lack of consultation and an aversion to science. This research station will provide a very clear example of our government's commitment to exercising stewardship over Canada's Arctic lands and bringing together industry, academia, aboriginal governments, and international stakeholders to co-operatively leverage their expertise, experience, and resources.
It is also important to note that our government engaged widely on all phases of this project, and there is overwhelming support behind it. I could not be more proud of the action our government is taking in this bill, which will cement Canada as a global leader on Arctic issues and scientific research.
If the opposition had its way, it would also attempt to convince the public that our government is taking social assistance away from those who genuinely need it. This could not be further from the truth. Let me clear: that is categorically false.
Bill C-43 would simply give the option to the provinces and territories to establish minimum periods of residence to qualify for social assistance. The specifics of this option would be up to the provinces and territories. Subsequently the provinces and territories would be accountable to taxpayers, who believe that refugees, specifically bogus asylum claimants, should not have access to better health care than Canadians.
By making these changes, our government would ensure that our immigration system would be protected from those who are seeking to take advantage of taxpayer-funded health care, welfare, and other social benefits. We have had numerous examples of these over the last number of years.
Let me spell it out for the opposition one more time. Our government is committed to helping all newcomers, including genuine refugees, integrate into Canadian society and fully contribute to our community and our economy. Those in genuine need will continue to receive Canada's protection more quickly.
Another key measure of this bill supports job creation and grows Canada's economy. I am talking about our government's small business job credit. This measure would lower EI payroll taxes by 15% and save small businesses over $550 million over two years. This is real money we would be giving back to small businesses, to job creators. It is money they would use to help defray the costs of hiring new workers and to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities, thus supporting growth and job creation.
These are small businesses all across the country, some in my own riding of North Vancouver, all of which have frequently told us that the number one job killer is higher payroll taxes. We listened to the voice of small business, the business experts who actually understand what this measure will do for job creation.
Dan Kelly, the President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, called the small business job credit “a big, big deal for small business. It's good news for people looking for jobs....”
Of course, we can expect the opposition members to continue attacking job creators with massive tax hikes, such as a $20 billion carbon tax, and foolishly ignoring what small business is saying about this measure. They will argue that their ideas of an expanded CPP and a 45-day workyear that would cost Canadian taxpayers $4 billion and thousands of jobs alone are the best options for job creation. If we ask any small business if they would prefer increased payroll taxes, the divide is clear.
We will not apologize for listening to small business concerns. On the other hand, our government will continue to lower payroll taxes for 90% of businesses and support some of Canada's most important job creators. Over 780,000 small businesses will benefit from this program.
This legislation will also help consumers. For instance, our government has a strong record of supporting consumers in the telecommunications industry. Since the last wireless spectrum auction in 2008, prices for wireless services have decreased by nearly 20% and jobs in the wireless industry have increased by 25%.
The legislation before us today builds on this record by prohibiting wireless service providers from charging their customers for paper billing, thereby fulfilling a commitment we made in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to put an end to this pay-to-pay practice.
Furthermore, the bill includes changes to simplify the certification process for telecommunications equipment used by consumers and businesses.
Finally, I want to touch on a set of measures that I believe are critical in strengthening Canada's financial sector.
Credit unions play an important role in our communities and in our economy. Across our country, credit unions and caisse populaires work hard to serve their members in the best way possible. Measures in Bill C-43 support a vibrant and robust credit union system here in Canada.
Specifically, our government is moving forward to clarify federal regulation of provincial credit unions and support those that want to become federally regulated. Some of these initiatives include access by provincial credit union centrals to federal intervention tools, such as lending by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation; ceasing supervision of provincial credit union centrals by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions; and making changes to the federal credit union framework to promote continued growth and competitiveness of credit unions that want to offer services on a national scale by streamlining the federal amalgamation process from multiple steps into just one.
We understand there is some interest, so as we build on these measures, we will continue to consult with provinces and industry to ensure the federal regime for credit unions is as clear and simple as possible.
Twenty minutes allows me to touch on only a very small portion of the positive measures included in Bill C-43. Some of the other measures contained in the bill include doubling the children's fitness tax credit to $1,000 and making it refundable. This is a way to put money back into the pockets of Canadian families, allowing families to save on putting their children into sports or after-school activities.
The bill also proposes to strengthen Canada's intellectual property regime to improve conditions for business investment and access into international markets while reducing costs and red tape. It also introduces new reporting standards to meet Canada's 2013 G8 commitment to increase transparency for entities operating in the extractive sector. It would create new indices in the national DNA data bank that would contain DNA profiles for missing persons, allowing families of victims to have better tools available to get closure.
Let me remind members that since the global recession, Canada has created nearly 1.2 million net new jobs. This is one of the strongest job creation records in the G7. Both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD still expect Canada to be among the strongest growing economies in the G7 over this year and next. The Canadian middle class is now among the richest in the developed world, ahead of our neighbours to the south for the first time ever. Just recently, we saw the International Labour Organization say in its global wage report that pay gains here in Canada are the second best in the G20. This is great news for Canadians.
These results do not happen by sitting idly and hoping for budgets to balance themselves, nor do they happen without a steadfast commitment to a proven plan for job creation and high growth. In this respect, Bill C-43 delivers a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda that will continue putting Canadians to work and building a strong economic future.
I urge all members of the House to pass this good bill.
Mr. Speaker, it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
In North Vancouver, we are starting our celebrations with lights, decorated trees, activities for kids, hot chocolate and gingerbread for all.
This Saturday at Shipbuilders' Square, the North Vancouver Christmas festival has all this and more. People can take part in lots of fun, free activities for the whole family, like making Christmas ornaments, lanterns and gingerbread cookies. Of course, the main star of the show, Santa Claus, will be on hand for photos with the kids or people can head over to the Lynn Valley Village Plaza for the fourth annual Christmas tree walk where they can enjoy the many Christmas trees on display.
Also this year, North Vancouver's own Capilano Suspension Bridge Park hopes to once again claim the title for the world's tallest living Christmas tree, a 250-year old Douglas fir that stands 152 feet high. This stunning sight will be draped in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights, which have also been strung along the suspension bridge itself.
This holiday season North Vancouver is the place to be. Ho, ho, ho.
The electoral district of North Vancouver (British Columbia) has a population of 122,371 with 87,034 registered voters and 216 polling divisions.
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