April 4, 2017

LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the October 24, 2016, by-election in Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.

This document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Chief Electoral Officer of Canada
Permalink
CPC

David Tilson

Conservative

Mr. David Tilson (Dufferin—Caledon, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the fourth part of the 2016 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and its parliamentary mission to Malta, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, held in Strasbourg, France, and Valletta, Malta, from October 10 to October 19, 2016.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Interparliamentary Delegations
Permalink
CPC

Sylvie Boucher

Conservative

Mrs. Sylvie Boucher (Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix, CPC)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-343, An Act to establish the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Criminal Acts and to amend certain Acts.

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to introduce my bill, the act respecting the federal ombudsman for victims of criminal acts. The responsibilities of the ombudsman for victims of criminal acts have evolved since the position was created in 2007, so this bill would make the position equal to that of the correctional investigator in terms of independence and accountable directly to Parliament.

It will henceforth be independent from the Department of Justice to ensure that the rights of victims of criminal acts, as laid out in the four pillars of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, are fully respected. Under this bill, the position of the ombudsman for victims of criminal acts will no longer be defined as a program, thus ensuring its long-term existence.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Act respecting the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Criminal Acts
Permalink
?

Carol Hughes

NDP

Mrs. Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again in this House to table a petition to the Minister of Transport regarding the Algoma passenger train, which has not been operating for quite some time. The petition is from the riding of Sault Ste. Marie, and it is also signed by petitioners from Garden River.

It is important to note that 75% of properties in proximity to the rail line are inaccessible except by rail service. There has been a huge economic impact in the area, especially for the tourist outfitters. This also impacts first nations' access to remote regions of their traditional territories. The cancellation infringes on the federal government's obligation to have consultation with first nations. The Algoma passenger train has been the only safe, affordable, all-season way to access the Algoma wilderness rail corridor for over 100 years.

The petitioners are asking the Minister of Transport to put the Algoma passenger train back into service to ensure the mission of Transport Canada to serve the public interest through the promotion of a safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Algoma Central Railway
Permalink
?

Elizabeth May

Green

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions today. The first is from residents within Saanich—Gulf Islands calling on the government to take action to ban the possession and sale or distribution of shark fins in Canada.

Shark finning itself has been illegal in Canada for some time, but the import of shark fins for markets within Canada is contributing to the extinction of shark species around the world.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Shark Finning
Permalink
?

Elizabeth May

Green

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents more broadly of Vancouver Island who are proposing a very, I think, significant and innovative approach to protecting our green infrastructure, that is the naturally occurring watersheds that protect drinking water.

They acknowledge that the E&N land grants put under federal control land throughout Vancouver Island that could be converted to community ownership of these watersheds. The petitioners call on Parliament to work with the Province of British Columbia, first nations, municipalities, regional districts, and landowners to begin a process for the protection of community drinking-water watersheds on Vancouver Island by putting them under public ownership.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   The Environment
Permalink
CPC

Joël Godin

Conservative

Mr. Joël Godin (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present petition e-565, which has been duly certified. It was initiated on September 22, 2016, by Marie-Claude Michaud, the executive director of the Valcartier Family Centre. I would like to acknowledge the presence of that organization on the Hill today, to take part in the tabling of their petition.

This petition is intended for the Department of National Defence to show the importance of the families of our soldiers, our military personnel, who fight overseas every day in the defence of Canada. We also have to think about their families. Our country's family resource centres do a great job, and they should be recognized. The department must be able to give family resource centres the support they need and officially recognize them.

The petition has 1,087 signatures, and I am pleased to present it today.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   National Defence
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink
LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink

The House resumed from April 3 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment, and of the amendment to the amendment.


LIB

Jennifer O'Connell

Liberal

Ms. Jennifer O'Connell (Pickering—Uxbridge, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct pleasure to rise in the House to speak to a unique and historic budget.

Budget 2017, “Building a Strong Middle Class”, paints a clear picture of our government's priorities. These priorities include investing in skills, innovation, and infrastructure and establishing a fairer tax system. It also includes a comprehensive listing of new programs and initiatives and how they will help middle-class Canadians succeed. It provides an accurate picture of the economy and the fiscal anchors we are using to help guide us. Most importantly, it outlines an aspirational vision of what we together are building: an inclusive, diverse nation ready to excel in the economy of tomorrow with a plan that works for the middle class, our most valuable economic engine.

However, it is 2017, and it is well past time that Canada's feminist government put the full weight of our intentions in writing. Budget 2017's gender statement represents the government's first comprehensive effort in reporting on a gender-based analysis of budgetary measures. It is a real opportunity to show how we considered and prioritized outcomes for women. Hon. members in the House do not need to be convinced that this work is essential, because it is. I do not need to remind the House that the effort we are taking to promote women is not about partisanship. With this gender statement, we are challenging the basic assumption that budgets are always gender-neutral. They have not always been, and we mean to change that. In fact, we need to change it.

In this period of slow economic growth, empowering women to become economic drivers equal to men would have a real and positive effect on our economy. Let us consider the facts.

Recent history has shown that as women have become more educated and more established in the workforce, Canada's economy and the incomes of both men and women have grown. Canadian women are among the most educated in the world and make up 47% of the labour force, yet women are still paid less than men in exactly the same positions. Compared to gender wage gaps in countries similar to Canada, our record is less than stellar.

Women are also less present in certain sectors, particularly the trades. Conversely, they are overly employed in lower-paying occupations. Executive level positions are most often held by men. On company boards, women are a minority.

Most important of all, we know that women and girls are more likely than men to experience poverty, violence, and harassment. As policy-makers, it is our obligation to consider and take action to address the inherent bias that persists in these areas, not only because it makes economic sense but because it is the right thing to do.

Well before budget 2017, our government started taking action on gender-based challenges. This included increasing the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit to boost support for the most vulnerable seniors, who are disproportionately women. This year we go much further, with actions that focus on innovation and inclusive and sustained growth for women and all Canadians. That includes $7 billion toward early learning and child care and over $11.2 billion for a national housing strategy over the next 11 years.

Before I had the honour of being elected to serve in the House, I was a municipal councillor for close to a decade. I am proud that this budget continues the work of budget 2016 in providing the support communities need to grow in a sustainable and inclusive way.

Public transit and truly affordable housing are critical infrastructure for communities like Pickering and Uxbridge. Just this previous weekend, the Prime Minister announced that more than 300 projects have been approved in Ontario under the public transit infrastructure fund. Through this fund, Durham Region received over $17.5 million in federal support. That means that residents in Pickering and Uxbridge, including students and seniors, will be better able to access important community facilities, services, and workplaces. The Prime Minister also announced that our government will invest more than $1.8 billion in GO Transit regional express rail projects in the greater Golden Horseshoe area. These investments are shortening commute times, decreasing air pollution, and growing our economy.

I am also proud that budget 2017 will fund a national housing strategy that provides a road map for governments and housing providers across the country. This has been a major priority for our region of Durham. This strategy will focus on a renewed partnership between the government and our provincial and territorial partners while creating a new $5-billion national housing fund to address critical housing issues and to better support vulnerable citizens.

In 2017 we all must do our part to combat and prevent homelessness. Budget 2017 takes an important step in addressing this issue by renewing and expanding federal investments.

One of the areas in the budget that I am most proud of is the investment and support we are providing to young people. Back home I speak with residents regularly who want the government to create the conditions for young people to succeed in our economy. Budget 2017 would see the launch of an ambitious initiative to support up to 10,000 new work integrated learning and co-op opportunities per year. This investment would help ensure more young Canadians are able to get the skills and experience they need to attain that well-paying career after they graduate.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, I was particularly proud of the budget's work on creating a fairer tax system. Canadians agree that building a fair, more inclusive society includes raising taxes on the wealthiest individuals and closing tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit the richest Canadians.

I want to thank the Minister of National Revenue for accepting all of the finance committee's recommendations on combatting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance schemes. Last year's investments in the CRA to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance have already been working. Budget 2017's additional investment in supporting the CRA's work to crack down on tax evasion and combat tax avoidance is expected to have a revenue impact of $2.5 billion over five years. That is expected to yield a return on investment of five to one. It is also in addition to a number of actions that strengthen the integrity of our tax system.

As I conclude, I would be remiss if I did not mention the investment of $30 million in budget 2017 to complete, enhance, and maintain the Trans Canada Trail in partnership with provinces and individual Canadians. This is of particular importance to me because Uxbridge, a community that I am proud to represent, has been named the trail capital of Canada. This is a point of pride for my community, and I am thrilled to know that more Canadians would be able to enjoy our trails and natural scenery.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts (South Surrey—White Rock, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could answer a question about the infrastructure bank. We have P3 Canada already in place that leverages public sector dollars, and $15 billion is coming out of communities for this infrastructure bank. As this is a priority for the government and it is not going to get funded until 2028, could she explain how exactly that is a priority and why they are not using the existing system to get those infrastructure projects built?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Jennifer O'Connell

Liberal

Ms. Jennifer O'Connell

Madam Speaker, infrastructure is truly important to our government, and to me in particular, given my background.

The key is that municipalities are being funded with infrastructure dollars. As I mentioned, Durham region in my community alone just this past week received over $17.5 million for transit.

What is critical and important is that the infrastructure bank is new and historic as a way to invest in larger projects, projects that perhaps could not be funded through traditional means. It is important as we continue our partnerships with municipalities and local governments that we take it slowly in exploring how the infrastructure bank and this new stream of funding major projects will work. That does not mean municipalities are not receiving support from the federal government. In fact, we have made historic investments in infrastructure, something of which I am extremely proud.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
?

Karine Trudel

NDP

Ms. Karine Trudel (Jonquière, NDP)

Madam Speaker, softwood lumber will be subject to a surtax as of April 24. Since September 2016, we have been asking the government to introduce loan guarantees. We really need to have a plan B to protect our forestry industry. The current situation is serious. The Union des municipalités du Québec asked for loan guarantees, as did Quebec forestry associations and the Government of Quebec. Deals have been signed with Ontario to reinforce the message sent to the Trudeau government.

Just because the word “wood” appears in the budget twice, that does not signify any real willingness on the part of this government. No money, no plan B, and no loan guarantees were included in the budget to protect our softwood lumber industry.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks of that and what the government intends to do. Is it waiting for the industry to be brought to its knees before it will fix this situation?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Jennifer O'Connell

Liberal

Ms. Jennifer O'Connell

Madam Speaker, I am proud of the efforts our government is making. In fact, at the onset since forming government, when it comes to softwood lumber and other important industries and trade initiatives, we have stepped forward to deal with these issues. We are working with all partners. I look forward to the recommendations and steps that our government is going to take to ensure that Canadian producers and Canadians are protected.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
?

Elizabeth May

Green

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP)

Madam Speaker, in going through the budget, it is exciting to read big numbers, like $11 billion for housing over the next 11 years, but when I break down page 151 of the budget, in all categories of housing cumulatively, we do not get to more than $300 million before the next election. This is a pattern through the whole budget, on infrastructure spending, on climate action. Everything is after the next election.

I would ask the hon. member why we do not see more urgency in getting these projects going now and not basically telling us that we have to re-elect the current government to see the programs.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Jennifer O'Connell

Liberal

Ms. Jennifer O'Connell

Madam Speaker, multi-year budgets are good fiscal planning to ensure that we are taking reasonable steps to fund our priorities, but also keeping in mind that we saw a decade without growth. This is a prudent approach that Canadians expect of this government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
?

Thomas Mulcair

NDP

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the budget that was recently tabled by the Liberal government. First, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my friend and colleague, the member for Burnaby South, who will be taking the second half of our party's time.

I will begin by commenting on what the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands just said.

The leader of the Green Party just made a statement that I found spot on, that the Liberal story narrative, the Liberal arc, is classically the following. The Liberals make a bunch of promises during an election campaign, things like democratic reform, let us say, and then, one by one, they do not keep those promises, but as it gets closer and closer to the next election, they say that the world will come to an end unless the Liberals are re-elected because they were just about to get to it. I guess we could call that particular Liberal approach the “we are just about to get to it” budget, because that is what we have here.

Benjamin Franklin had a famous saying that people loved to quote, and it is true. He said that were only two certainties in life: death and taxes. I can say that there are only two certainties in Liberal administrations, debt and taxes, because that is what we see in this budget. It is not so much a question of how it is the Liberals have already planned to have a deficit of over $100 billion only 18 months into their administration and they are announcing that they will never ever see a balanced budget, despite the promise during the election campaign that they would only have an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny deficit and then, by the next election, they would be back to balanced budgets.

What we are seeing is just what the leader of Green Party correctly described as the Liberals' take on things. They are so good at spinning their stuff they would even have Canadians believe that consistent deficits with nothing in return are actually a progressive value, that somehow that is what left-wing administrations do. Actually, that is what Liberal administrations do. People who are progressive hold the following to be their key value: to make sure that they are there consistently and reliably. Let me provide a counter example.

After seeing the success of the CCF NDP's health care plan in Saskatchewan, Canadians were happy to see universal free public medical care applied across the country. It was a fifty-fifty federal-provincial plan. What is it now, now that the Liberal government is imposing Stephen Harper's cuts in health care? We are down to less than 20% of the federal government share.

This is a classic example of the tail wagging the dog because the Liberals are telling us that not only are they going to go forward with Stephen Harper's cuts but that, from now on, the federal government will be dictating what the provinces can and cannot do when it comes to health care. We all witnessed this vicious cycle of quick spending to score cheap points and the inevitable backtracking where the government is forced to make cuts under Paul Martin.

This is the cycle of the Liberals. We have seen it time and again. They pose as progressives, yet they fought against the $15-an-hour federal minimum wage during the campaign. They posture as environmentalists, but Environment Canada says that it will not even meet Stephen Harper's woefully inadequate targets for greenhouse gas emissions. By the way, that is the only thing that matters.

I was in Paris when the Prime Minister threw out his arms and proclaimed that Canada is back. That produced a lot of head-scratching in the room, people saying that they did not know Canada had ever left. What we had was a Prime Minister trying to communicate that thank goodness he was there because now things would finally change on the environmental front.

Here is the reality. The only plan the Liberals have is Stephen Harper's plan, and they will not meet Stephen Harper's target. People do not have to take our word for it, because Environment Canada confirmed that over the weekend. I guess that is what the Liberals meant by real change. They keep Stephen Harper's targets but they just do not meet them.

The Liberals pretend to be feminists. When one knows that one of the principal impediments to equality in the workforce is the lack of quality affordable child care, one knows that emphasis has to be put on child care. How much money is in the budget that was just tabled for child care? There is not one cent. My colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé asks how much. There is not one cent in this budget for child care for next year.

The Liberals are saying that, if we just give them a chance, they will get there eventually. It is a bit like the promise they made on housing. They are saying that they are going to make a huge investment in social housing, to the tune of $22 billion, but when is that going to happen? It will not happen until after 2022. That is the game they are playing. They got elected by promising to do a certain number of things, such as changing the electoral system. They did not keep that promise. They promised to restore home mail delivery, but they did not keep that promise either. They pretend to do those things. Two years later, after many broken promises, when people start to wonder what is happening and reminding them that they promised to restore home mail delivery and change the voting system in this country to make it fairer, they start making promises for after the next election campaign.

Let us not forget that, in this budget, the Liberals cut exactly $1.25 billion from the environment portfolio. Yes, members heard me right.

Despite all their preening, posturing, and their cardboard cut-outs on environment, the reality is that in this budget the Liberals cut $1.25 billion in what they had promised in the fight against climate change. Canada will never be able to meet Stephen Harper's weak targets, much less our obligations under the Paris accord. That is the reality of the Liberals.

I do not underestimate their ability to spin a yarn in their own favour. I have grudging admiration for it. However, sooner or later the reality always comes back to haunt them, as it did with this most recent budget, which I think we could give a subtitle of the “we will get to it” budget. They are promising, as the Liberal arc always does, that it is going to happen sometime in the future.

I remember that after 13 years in power and four consecutive Liberal governments, Liberals wailed and moaned and whined about the injustice when they were defeated in 2006 because Canadians were going to be deprived of the Kelowna accord and of child care. When we reminded them that they were thrown out not because of child care but because of corruption, they said that they were just about to get to child care and the Kelowna accord. They were just about there and how unfair it was that they were not re-elected.

Meanwhile, today in Canada, six out of 10 people who lose their jobs are not eligible for employment insurance. Nothing in this budget addresses that. We have a finance minister who tells young Canadians to get used to it, that the job churn and lousy, low-paid, part-time precarious work are their lot in life. There is not a single measure in this budget to address that. That is the reality. See you in 2022, Madam Speaker.

What is being proposed for public transit is unbelievable. The Liberals are creating an infrastructure bank in order to steal money from taxpayers and make access to assistance even harder and twice as costly. There is not a single word in this budget about major infrastructure projects, including the Caisse de dépôt's electric train. Not a word and not a penny.

To top it off, the Liberals are getting rid of the public transit pass tax credit. When did they say they were going to do that? During the election campaign and again three weeks ago, they promised to get rid of the tax loophole for corporations.

We saw it again yesterday. So much for the middle class: $32.6 million U.S. in bonuses for Bombardier, keeping the CEO stock options; that is how they pay themselves. That is the reality. Right now we know what the Liberals are all about, and that is why it is important for Canadians to start paying attention, because they have to go.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Mike Bossio

Liberal

Mr. Mike Bossio (Hastings—Lennox and Addington, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, the member likes to talk a lot about what is not in the budget rather than celebrating what is in the budget. I can see why he would be green with envy as for what is actually in the budget: $180 billion to be spent on infrastructure; $625 million to veterans; $2.7 billion into training; $225 million over the next four years to identify and fill skills gaps; $11 billion to affordable housing; $6 billion to home care; $5 billion to mental health initiatives; $950 million to innovation clusters; $1.26 billion to innovation for agriculture; digital; advanced manufacturing; and the list goes on and on.

I would like to know how much the member feels he could have accomplished by trying to balance a budget and also get things done for Canadians. This government has made the commitment to make those investments in Canadians to create the jobs for the future and to help our businesses grow.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink

April 4, 2017