Yes, Mr. Speaker. The government whip raced in here kind of breaking precedence. Obviously, a few things were off on both sides. The member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam of course was not in his seat either, which I think raises the point: it is much better to wait for proper parliamentary process. That is what we believe, on this side of the House. We really have to wait for proper voting procedures.
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the enthusiasm of my colleagues across the way.
It is my honour to stand and bring the voices of my constituents in Parkdale—High Park, but I believe my remarks will also reflect the views of many Canadians across Canada. I have heard nothing but complaints from members of my community about the fact that the government is once again bringing in an omnibus bill, cramming all kinds of measures into one very large so-called budget bill, making significant changes that would fundamentally affect the lives of Canadians, and then, for more than the 60th time in the House, restricting the time available for Canadians to look at the bill and for parliamentarians to effectively debate the contents of it. This bill is over 300 pages in length and seeks to legislate many distinct areas of the lives of Canadians. It is not simply on the economy.
I have to say that I am also very concerned about what it is not in the bill. There is nothing in this bill that would address the growing number of part-time jobs without benefits that are replacing good-paying, full-time, secure jobs that Canadians are losing and have lost, both during and since the recession. There is nothing for a generation of young people unable to find stable work and start their lives without massive amounts of student debt. There is nothing to address the apparent use of EI funds to balance the budget, as opposed to giving the majority of unemployed Canadians access to benefits that would help them make the transition from one job to another without an economic calamity taking place in their lives. This is the case for far too many Canadians, and it is certainly affecting many in my community.
This is also a government unwilling to protect our environment, even with international governing organizations, such as the UN, calling on Canada to be a leader in reducing climate change. In fact, as parliamentarians and a growing number of Canadians well know, the government has used these omnibus budget bills to erode and attack environmental provisions that would protect our environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I want to speak about jobs. Good jobs have been lost under the current government, but year after year there is nothing to help Canadians get back to work. This bill fails to renew the NDP's tax credit for small businesses, a tax credit that we know creates jobs. It would also nullify the existing agreements that identify which jobs are essential and which will effectively disrupt bargaining that is already under way. Over 1.3 million Canadians are still unemployed, and the government has chosen to waste its time legislating measures that were never mentioned in the budget speech rather than taking real action to help Canadians get back to work.
The vast majority of jobs created by the government have been part time, including almost 70% of the jobs created in March alone. As a result, Canadians who were able to recover employment after the recession often find themselves working two or three part-time jobs to try to make ends meet instead of working the one job they used to be able to work in order to support themselves and their families.
It is no wonder that we are seeing growing levels of income and wealth inequality in this country. A report that came out just last week showed that the wealthiest 86 individuals in this country control the same amount of wealth as the poorest 11.4 million. If that is not inequality, I do not know what is. This bill fails to address that growing inequality and, frankly, Canadians deserve much better.
I am pleased that the government has finally accepted the NDP's proposal to cap the amount that wireless carriers can charge other suppliers.
However, this is too late for many Canadian start-ups. This delay has increased convergence in the wireless market. Consumers have few options, which results in price increases.
We hear this concern over extremely high rates for telecom services from Canadians across the country.
I also want to raise the issue of FATCA. This may be something the majority of Canadians do not know much about, but for Canadians who hold dual Canadian-American citizenship, the bill is very troubling. An entire bill about FATCA is enclosed in this omnibus budget bill. It would impose the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act amid questions in the United States about the constitutionality of the act. However, the government does not seem to care if FATCA would be found to be unconstitutional because it is not bound by the U.S. Constitution. It is one of the only governments happy to give out the private details of its citizens' financials. In other words, Canadians' private banking information is to be made available to the U.S. for tax reasons to comply with—wait for it—American law. The bill would give the Minister of National Revenue the power to make any regulation necessary to carry out this highly controversial act.
It is entirely inappropriate for the government to present this legislation by burying it in an omnibus bill with time allocation so that we do not get adequate time to study and debate this bill within a bill. The government is just hoping Canadians will not notice, but I suggest that Canadians are taking notice and are very concerned about these tax changes.
I also want to speak a bit about rail safety and transparency. The government does not seem to care about keeping legislation transparent, but it also seems cavalier about Canadians' safety. For example, the bill would allow the government to change and repeal a wide variety of railway safety regulations without even informing the public. Any cabinet decisions that change the safety requirements for the transport of dangerous good would now become secret.
This includes changes to the classification of dangerous goods, the training and qualifications of inspectors, and rules regarding the importation and transport of dangerous goods. The public would have no way of knowing the government has weakened safety measures because it does not have to be made public. The bill would even prevent experts from advising the minister before the changes would come into effect.
So much for allowing big data to inform our government policies, as the hon. member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam promised yesterday.
As well, the bill demonstrates to Canadians that the government thinks that our parents and grandparents are a burden. It would make it more difficult for families to reunite in Canada, and new Canadians would have to live an extended period in Canada before receiving GIS or the OAS survivor's allowance. Not only would sponsors be financially responsible for new Canadians for a significantly longer period of time, but this measure would also clearly set a distinction between those Canadians who were born here and those who were not.
Employees in the private sector work hard, whereas those in the public sector twiddle their thumbs.
Apparently wealthy single-income families deserve $3 billion in tax breaks while the other 86% of Canadians do not. New Democrats believe the government has a responsibility to all Canadians, no matter what their income, where they work, or where they were born. That is why, despite the cherry-picked New Democrat policies included in the bill, my hon. colleagues and I cannot support it. We believe Canadians deserve better, and New Democrats are going to keep fighting every day to ensure Canadians get the better treatment they deserve, despite this government.
Mr. Speaker, listening to the member opposite, I think he has some vision that the government members are going to be on the telephone every day or every week telling the directors of the museum what to display and what stories to tell and what parts of Canadian history to tell, which is absolutely absurd. It is really a form of paranoia. It is fearmongering and it is totally inappropriate.
It defies logic that anyone in the House, any whole party, could be against Canadian history. We just do not get it and Canadians do not get it either. It is a perfect time to plan a new museum in Ottawa and in Canada because we are on the road to our 150th anniversary. It is an unparalleled occasion to celebrate our history and the accomplishments that distinguish us as Canadians.
In 2012, we celebrated, among other things, the War of 1812, the 19th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. We also announced the creation of the Canadian museum of history in October 2012. During the announcement of the new museum, the member for Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam and former minister of Canadian Heritage, said, “Canadians deserve a national museum of history that tells our stories and presents our country’s treasures to the world.” I could not agree more.
Our government believes that it is essential to take full advantage of every opportunity to celebrate our history. The legislation, once passed, will enable the evolution of the Canadian Museum of Civilization into the Canadian museum of history.
Some have questioned why this change is necessary. The statistics paint a pretty clear picture about that. More than 75% of Canadians feel that learning about Canadian history strengthens their attachment to their country. Yet less than 50% are able to pass a citizenship exam that tests their general knowledge of Canada. Only 26% of young people aged 18 to 24 know the year of Confederation. Only 37% know the Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought in the First World War, and 76% of Canadians are embarrassed by the lack of knowledge that we in Canada have of our history. Something must change.
Our children deserve to know more about our long and complex history. This government is preparing to meet this most fundamental need for all Canadians. After all, our history is a key aspect of our identity. The creation of the Canadian museum of history would provide Canadians with a fantastic opportunity to discover and appreciate the richness of Canadian history. It would provide a chance to learn about the history of Canada and its people. We are here today to discuss the legislation that will make this museum a reality.
Through online consultations, kiosk activities and round table discussions, Canadians have made their opinions known. Input was sought on various topics such as how best to reach Canadians across the country, whether with travelling exhibitions at local museums, creating apps about the museum for mobile phones and tablets, or showing museum stories in movie theatres. More than 20,000 Canadians took the time to tell the museum what they wanted to see in the new Canadian museum of history. The results of the consultation can be seen on the Canadian Museum of Civilization's website under “Canadian Museum of History News”.
Mr. Speaker, I forgot to mention earlier that I would like to split my time with the hon. member for Barrie if that is agreeable.
Before criticizing the consultation process that was carried out by experts at the museum, please have a look at the report.
Canadians in all regions should have opportunities to learn more about Canadian history. To increase those opportunities, the new museum will sign agreements with a number of museums across the country to tour its exhibitions, to share expertise, and to lend artifacts and other materials from vast collections to enhance local programs. This is a great plan and opportunity for hundreds of small museums across Canada.
The Canadian museum of history would have more than 43,000 square feet of permanent exhibition space in 2016. This space will allow the museum to present a more complete history of Canada to all visitors. This additional exhibition space and rejuvenation of existing areas is made possible by a one-time federal investment of $25 million.
However, none of this means an end to international activities by the new museum. The new mandate is explicit. One of the purposes of the new museum is to increase Canadians' awareness of world history and cultures. I quote:
The purpose of the Canadian Museum of History is to enhance Canadians’ knowledge, understanding and appreciation of events, experiences, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada’s history and identity, and also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures.
Along with the new mandate, the museum's name must logically change to the Canadian museum of history so that it better reflects the focus of this new museum. While the new museum's focus will be on Canada, it will continue to host major travelling international exhibitions, which we recognize are important to a national museum's vitality and reputation.
It is important to emphasize that the revised mandate will be fully consistent with the strategic directions approved by the museum's own board of trustees, not government members, in particular its decision to better reflect our national achievements through the social, cultural, human, military and political dimensions of Canadian life. Under this new mandate, the Canadian museum of history will pay greater attention to the events and accomplishments that have shaped and transformed Canada into what it is today.
The last spike, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard's famous number nine sweater and objects belonging to Terry Fox are but a few of the artifacts that illustrate Canadian history and touch our hearts.
There will be new opportunities for interpretation both in the museum's exhibition galleries and history museums throughout the country as they enjoy loans from the museum of Canadian history. More than ever before, the new national museum will provide the public with an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate our identity as Canadians.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization plans to present a series of temporary exhibitions that will highlight its new mandate and generate enthusiasm about the changes in its programming. Just last week the Canadian Museum of Civilization announced that in June 2015 the museum will present “The Greeks—From Agamemnon to Alexander the Great”, an exhibition celebrating 5,000 years of Greek culture.
Those who decry the role of the future Canadian museum of history on the world stage need to understand that the international role of this museum will remain firmly intact, as will its research and collections roles.
On International Museum Day, celebrated on May 18 every year, my colleague the Minister of Industry, in his capacity as former minister of Canadian Heritage, said that Canadian museums receive about 30 million visits annually. That is why our government is proud to invest in programs and policies that support the more than 2,500 institutions that make up Canada's museum sector. We recognize the important contribution that museums make to Canadian society and culture as well as to our economy.
Given the role of museums as centres of dialogue and learning, it is vital that we work together to facilitate the creation of the new Canadian museum of history. Along with a new mandate, the museum's name must logically change to the Canadian museum of history. That will better reflect the focus of this new museum, and this museum's focus will be on Canada. It will continue to host major travelling international exhibitions, which we recognize are important to a national museum's vitality and reputation. There will be new opportunities for interpretation, both in the museum's exhibition galleries and history museums throughout the country as they enjoy loans from the Canadian museum of history.
I am eager to see the new Canadian museum of history. I urge all my colleagues to support the bill to help realize its vision for the benefit of all Canadians.
The electoral district of Port Moody--Westwood--Port Coquitlam (British Columbia) has a population of 116,563 with 79,772 registered voters and 191 polling divisions.
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