June 18, 2019

LIB

Geoff Regan

Liberal

The Speaker

It being 3:10 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 28, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the Senate amendments to Bill C-58.

Call in the members.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Access to Information Act
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(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:) Vote #1367


LIB

The House resumed consideration of the motion.


CPC

Pierre Poilievre

Conservative

Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Cariboo—Prince George, and what a debate it will be. After all, the cat is out of the bag.

Earlier today, I asked the finance minister if he would rule out bringing back his small business tax increases. Members will remember them, the ones he ruled out in the summer of 2017, after the Prime Minister had said that small businesses are typically just wealthy tax cheats. The minister went out and tried to impose tax increases that would cost 73% on the dollar for every small business investment, and then he increased taxes on income and work shared among members of a family business.

We remember when the Liberals tried to double the tax paid when a parent sells a business to a child. We remember when they put forward a proposal that would allow foreign multinationals to pay half the tax if they bought a Canadian family business, and then the kids of that family business would pay. We remember how our farmers feared that this would mean that within a generation we would have nothing but foreign-owned farms where farm kids would be turned into tenants to foreign landlords on their own ancestral lands. That was the shock and dismay that Canadian entrepreneurs felt when the finance minister struck out and attacked them in the summer of 2017.

Then Canadians fought back. Local chambers of commerce, shopkeepers, pizza shop owners, plumbers, farmers, people who had never met all locked arms and said that was enough. For far too long, the government had been picking their pockets and they just quietly went on their way, showing the typical Canadian culture of deference.

However, when this tax increase struck, it went too far, and entrepreneurs decided that they were going to unite and defeat these tax changes. They were only partially successful. The minister then agreed to put some of the most egregious parts of his original proposal on hold. There was a great sigh of relief, but I think people were under a misconception that the government had backed down. In fact, headlines screamed out that the finance minister had backed down from small business tax changes.

The truth is that he never backed down. He simply put those changes on hold, leaving open the possibility that they might one day come back. He never once admitted that the proposals were flawed or wrong. He simply said they were politically impossible so close to an election. He made the pragmatic calculation to put them on hold. On hold until when, one might ask. The answer is quite simple: until after the election, when the Liberals no longer need voters but still need their money.

Of course, the Liberals are running out of other people's money. The deficit is $20 billion. The budget has not balanced itself. In fact, the deficit is growing year after year, and the government needs a way to pay for its insatiable spending habit. What Liberals hope now is that Canadians will not ask them how they will pay for it until after the election is over, when voters cannot do anything about it because it will be four more years until the subsequent election—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

I want to interrupt the hon. member for Carleton. He is trying to give a speech and there is a murmur going on in the background. I just want to remind hon. members, and if there is anything going on in the corridor, maybe we can check to make sure it is quieter over there.

I will let the hon. member for Carleton continue.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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CPC

Pierre Poilievre

Conservative

Hon. Pierre Poilievre

Mr. Speaker, the government hopes that people will not ask any questions about where all the money will come from. The Prime Minister will just take out a fire hose and spray cash in all directions in the hopes that a grateful population will re-elect him and put him back in the Prime Minister's Office. Only days later, he will spring upon them a whole series of tax increases that they did not anticipate and that he did not mention.

That is why I rose to my feet today to ask the finance minister if he would simply commit that his original tax increases on small businesses were flawed and that they will never be introduced again. He could have just stood up and said that it was a mistake and he would not do it again; that we have his word that if they are re-elected there would be no new tax increases on small businesses. He could have just said that and sat down. Frankly, I would have been quite deflated. I do not know what else I could have asked at that point. Instead, when he stood up, he refused to answer the question at all. He rattled off a bunch of governmental talking points that had been handed to him by junior staffers in the Prime Minister's Office, but he did not rule out bringing back those tax increases. Therefore, the message for small business owners is not to tell us they were not warned. It is clear what the current government will do.

In fact, the original small business tax increases that small business owners fought in town halls and in street protests and in thousands of letters will probably be law by Christmas Day if this Prime Minister is re-elected.

The election is in late October. There will be a short session before Christmas. A Liberal government will want to do its most unpopular decisions between its return and Christmas so that it can hope everyone will forget about it four years later when they go back to the polls in 2023. Therefore, we know that is the window when this will happen. For small business persons out there somewhere working away, the warning goes out now that they have only four months to help stop the reintroduction of those tax increases that were devastating and even existential to their businesses.

This is consistent with everything the government has done. Already the average Canadian family is paying about $800 more in income tax alone. In fairness, people who are very wealthy are paying less. Wealthy taxpayers paid about $4.5 billion less in taxes in the year after the Prime Minister introduced his income tax changes, but everyone else is paying more. They lost their children's fitness tax credit, their public transit tax credit and their education and textbook tax credits. Small business owners now pay new penalties for saving within the companies, for sharing work and earnings with family members. They pay a carbon tax, for which there is no small business rebate. Payroll taxes are now on the rise.

Despite all of these Liberal tax increases on the middle class and on small businesses, there is still a shortfall. This is in an environment where real estate has boomed and the world economy has been on fire, all of which has caused a flood of unexpected revenues into government coffers. The Prime Minister blew every penny of those additional revenues and billions of dollars more.

Here we are in 2019, the year in which the budget was going to balance itself, and we have another $20-billion deficit. He put his hand on his heart and said he was looking Canadians in the eye and speaking truthfully to them as he always has, and that they would balance the budget in 2019. Those were the words of the Prime Minister at the Maclean's debate in the last election. He smashed that promise to smithereens. Thereafter, we cannot believe a single thing he says about money.

As the pressure mounts, the Liberals will start to deny it. They will deny it until they are red in the face, but the reality is that if the government is re-elected, there will be massive and crippling tax increases targeted on the working class and small businesses to fund ongoing, out-of-control spending. By contrast, Conservatives will put forward a plan that requires that the government live within its means, leave more in people's pockets and let them get ahead, and a free market economy that rewards merit rather than political connections and that puts people before government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Francesco Sorbara

Liberal

Mr. Francesco Sorbara (Vaughan—Woodbridge, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague intently, who I have the pleasure of sitting on the finance committee with, to see if he would offer up some new ideas or policies instead of regurgitating talking points that I constantly hear.

He did speak about small businesses, so I will comment on that. He did not mention the small business tax rate that we reduced from 11% to 9% that benefits over 11,000 businesses in the city of Vaughan. He did not talk about the accelerated investment incentive that allows businesses across Canada, from coast to coast to coast, to fully write off their investments in a full year. He did not speak to the EI rates that are now the lowest in a generation that are benefiting businesses across the country. He did not talk about the Canada pension plan that is going to benefit hard-working Canadians, who go to work every day and save for their futures, which is portable, indexed and the model for the entire world. He did not reference those things. Then, when he should have been speaking about climate change, he did not even speak about whether he believes in climate change or we should act.

I would ask the member across the aisle what he thinks we should do about climate change and how we should reduce emissions going forward. We have a plan. Where is your plan?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Anthony Rota

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota)

I would remind hon. members to place their questions through the Chair.

The hon. member for Carleton.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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CPC

Pierre Poilievre

Conservative

Hon. Pierre Poilievre

One more sleep, Mr. Speaker, and we will have a plan that lowers emissions and taxes, just like we did last time, unlike the Liberal government, which has raised emissions and taxes.

Let us go through the tax policy issues for small businesses that he mentioned. One is the small business tax rate. The previous Conservative government reduced the small business tax rate from 13% down to 11% and then 11% down to 9%. One of the first things the Liberal finance minister did is raise it back to 11% from 9%. Then, in the midst of a tax revolt, while he and the Prime Minister were running away with their tails between their legs in full retreat, they reinstated the tax increase that they had repealed when they first took office. That is the reality of the small business tax reduction.

As for the carbon tax, there is no rebate for small businesses. They bear the full brunt of the extra heating, transportation, cooling and other energy costs that they must bear. Only those businesses that can pump 50,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases through their chimneys are able to get an exemption from the carbon tax, but normal mom-and-pop shops, small construction companies and pizza shops pay the full tax, with no rebate and no support whatsoever. That is not a climate plan; it is a tax plan.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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GP

Elizabeth May

Green Party

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

Mr. Speaker, we should be talking about climate science, what target is appropriate in order to hold to 1.5°C and why it is essential for the survival of not only our economy but our civilization that we make the transitions that are required. At this point, we are still having political battles over a carbon tax, which is a very small part of the overall plan.

I know we are waiting for the big unveil tomorrow, but I want to remind the member, because I have a good memory, that we were supposed to see a complete plan from former environment minister John Baird in April of 2007. It was called the “Turning the Corner” plan, but it was never completed. It had some good elements, but it never happened. His successor, whom we all miss, anyone who had the great honour of meeting him, former environment minister Jim Prentice, also tried in that era to put in place something that would look like a plan.

I have not seen a reasonable carbon plan from any party or government at the federal level since the spring of 2005 when former prime minister Paul Martin brought one forward. I wonder if the member could give us any sense of why we would have confidence that whatever the leader of the official opposition announces tomorrow is going to actually turn into the plan he initially announces.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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CPC

Pierre Poilievre

Conservative

Hon. Pierre Poilievre

Mr. Speaker, under the previous Conservative government, we did introduce sector-by-sector rules to reduce emissions at an industrial level. We also brought in improved standards for tailpipe emissions. Along with other measures that I do not have time to mention because of the time limit, we actually saw, for the first time in measured history in Canada, a reduction in overall greenhouse gases in absolute terms.

All of that proves that taxes are not the best way to reduce emissions, technology is. We need to increase the technology and the advancement of our economy, so we can deliver an improved quality of life with lower energy consumption at the same time.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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CPC

Todd Doherty

Conservative

Mr. Todd Doherty (Cariboo—Prince George, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank our hon. colleague from Carleton. As a new father, I know that he considers this a very important debate. I know he takes this matter very seriously.

It is all about a better future for our children. The Minister of Environment has said that lots of times in this House, very loudly and very passionately. We all strive to leave our country better off for those who will come after us. This debate is about the future. It is about ensuring our children have a better future.

It has been interesting over the last three and a half years and indeed over the last couple weeks as we debate Bill C-48, Bill C-68, Bill C-69 and Bill C-88. Again, on the virtue-signalling motion that we had last night, Motion No. 29, everybody wants to know how everybody voted. I was travelling, I landed and all of a sudden the media wanted to know how we voted on it. Motion No. 29 does nothing. It declares that we all agree there is a climate emergency, but there is nothing behind it. There are no critical steps behind it to actually make things better. We have a carbon tax that the Liberal government implemented that does nothing but punish Canadians who live in rural communities.

I want to read something into the record.

“...to constrain the growth of...production by increasing the perception of financial risks by potential investors and by choking off the necessary infrastructure (inputs and outputs)...[the campaign’s original strategy states]. We will accomplish this by raising the visibility of the negatives associated with...[the production]; initiating legal challenges in order to force government and corporate decision-makers to take steps that raise the costs of production and block delivery infrastructure; and by generating support for federal and state legislation that pre-empts future demand for tar sands oil.

It also says this: How are we going to do that? Demarketing, raise the negatives, raise the costs, slow down and stop the infrastructure, enrol key decision-makers, goals, we want to influence debate, a moratorium, strategy, stop or limit pipelines, refineries, significantly reduce future demand for Canadian oil, leverage debate for policy victories in the U.S. and Canada, resources required, first nations and other legal challenges, public mobilization in Ontario and Quebec.

Members would be forgiven if they thought that was the mandate letter for the Minister of Environment. That is exactly what we are up against, the dogma that we hear, that is spread, the language that we hear time and again.

Bill C-68, Bill C-69, Bill C-48, Bill C-88, and Motion No. 29 are all aimed at our natural resources, and somehow Canada produces dirty products and our producers are going the way of just polluting our world.

It is interesting that the carbon tax targets soccer moms and small businesses, but does not go up against the very same polluters of the campaigns, Greenpeace, TIDES, the World Wildlife Fund and all these groups that now have executives or members who are former executives in the highest offices of the Liberal government. It does nothing. It gives those very same polluters a pass.

There is no denying that climate change is real. Humans contribute to the problem. We all must do our part to address the problem, but a carbon tax is not a climate plan. The Prime Minister does not have a climate plan, he has a tax plan.

Time and again it has been said that my province of British Columbia is seen as a success, yet we have had a carbon tax for over 10 years. When it was first introduced, it was supposed to be revenue-neutral, and now it is not. It goes in one hand and stays in the government coffers. It was supposed to lower emissions, and we know that that is not the case.

Over the last two summers, we have had some of the worst wildfires in our province's history. In my riding alone, we have had the worst fire season, the largest mass evacuation in our province's history.

I have stood in this House and asked how high the carbon tax has to be before we start to see those wildfires and natural disasters mitigated and lessened. I cannot seem to get an answer. As a matter of fact, I was laughed at when I asked that question.

The Liberals have pandered to the environmental lobbyists for the last four years. As a matter of fact, what we are seeing today with the legislation and all this virtue signalling they are doing with their hands on their hearts is payback for the 2015 election. Leading into this next election, they want to make sure that they are solidly behind them.

They have had four years to come out with a real plan, and the best they can do is a carbon tax. The Minister of Environment stands up here and shouts loudly so that we will all believe her, yet time and again, she has approved the dumping of millions of litres of raw sewage into our waterways.

A great Senate amendment came forward regarding third-party habitat banking, and I will go back to Bill C-68, where we talked about that. Where there is displacement of fish or fish habitat because of a project, it would allow the government to enlist people who are experts to create fish habitat. However, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his department turned that down, and we heard testimony that they were the only people around the table who did not seem interested in creating fish habitat.

The Liberals like to stand up there, with all their environmental credits and their peeps behind them, saying that what they are doing is for the good of the country. We know that all they are doing is making things less affordable for those of us who live in rural communities.

I do not know if there is a fuel available that can power a logging truck or a freight truck. Our forestry sector has taken a massive hit since the current government has been in power, because we do not have a softwood lumber agreement. I will not put all the forestry downturn on the current government. However, it could have taken some major steps forward in assisting our forestry industry by securing a softwood lumber agreement.

We live in rural areas. Many of our first nations live off-grid. They have to power their communities with diesel. What has the government done to lift any of those first nations off their dependency on diesel and fossil fuels?

What about rural communities? At one point, we were a resource-driven economy. However, we know from the Prime Minister's very first speech that, under his government, our country has become known more for our resourcefulness than our natural resources. I guess that was a promise he has kept, because we have seen the government attack our natural resources sector time and again.

As we speak, there are forestry families who are receiving more layoff notices in my riding and in my home province of British Columbia. They do not have other projects or other opportunities to go to. What will they do? What is it that our Minister of Environment said? There is $500 million worth of opportunity. Where is it? It is not in our rural communities. In some of our northern climates, we cannot plug any of our school buses in. We cannot plug logging trucks or freight trucks in. We need them to get our goods to market.

Everything this carbon tax does makes the way of life in rural communities more expensive. This is not an environmental plan. It is a revenue plan, and it is on the backs of rural communities and rural Canadians. That is shameful.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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LIB

Terry Beech

Liberal

Mr. Terry Beech (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, we have had a price on pollution nationally for 78 days. However, I want to speak specifically about our home province of British Columbia.

This member knows that the Conservatives' number one promise is that if they are able to form government, the first day they are elected they will remove the revenue-neutral federal backstop. This will do absolutely zero to change the price on pollution in British Columbia, because that price on pollution was implemented by the B.C. Liberals and has continued to be supported by the NDP. Both sides of the B.C. government support carbon prices in British Columbia. Why? It is because it has been effective. Per capita emissions have gone down, while we have had one of the fastest-growing economies in the country.

Basically, what this member is promising his constituents back home is that we will continue to pay carbon taxes in B.C., but he will get rid of them for the rest of the country. How does he think that is fair?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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CPC

Todd Doherty

Conservative

Mr. Todd Doherty

Mr. Speaker, our hon. colleague is being disingenuous. British Columbia has the highest fuel prices in all of North America. We know that under the Liberal government, if the Liberals are re-elected in October, those gas prices are going to have to go up at least another 23¢ a litre. That is punishing those in our province who live in rural communities, and in particular, those in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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NDP

Scott Duvall

New Democratic Party

Mr. Scott Duvall (Hamilton Mountain, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, there was a recent poll reported in the Toronto Star, on May 15, 2019, with the headline, “Majority of Conservatives favour pollution pricing: poll”. It shows that 60% of self-identified Conservatives said that there either “must” or “should ideally” be a price on pollution.

If the member wants us to support the motion, which says that the Conservatives want to replace this with a real environmental plan, I would ask him what he thinks of the poll and what the plan is the Conservatives want to bring forward that we could look at and maybe support.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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CPC

Todd Doherty

Conservative

Mr. Todd Doherty

Mr. Speaker, I should turn the tables on our hon. NDP colleague and ask him what he thinks of the poll that came out today that says that the Green Party is ahead of the NDP. Polls are polls.

I would say that as much as the Liberals and the NDP want to say that the Conservatives are not for the environment but are against the environment, we are first and foremost ranchers, farmers, hunters and anglers. We are for the environment. We are conservationists at heart. I cannot wait until our colleagues, and indeed Canadians, see the environmental plan our leader is unveiling tomorrow.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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GP

Paul Manly

Green Party

Mr. Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith, GP)

Mr. Speaker, carbon taxes are part of a solution. They are not the whole solution. I know that has been hammered on by the hon. member and his Conservative colleagues. We need a whole spectrum of things to deal with climate change.

We live in a climate emergency. If members visit my riding, they will see that the forests are dying. We were already in drought stages in early March, when rivers and lakes were at August levels. The cedars and firs are dying. We had a horrific windstorm in the winter. We have material all over the forest floor, and we are worried about the fire season.

We need climate action, and part of climate action is to disincentivize the use of fossil fuels by using a carbon tax. We need incentives in place to help consumers, landlords and businesses make the transition away from using fossil fuels to deal with this climate emergency, because we have to get to zero emissions by 2050. We do not have a choice. This is not something that we can delay any longer. The scientists are telling us that we are out of time and that we need to deal with it. Carbon taxes are one of the tools we need to use.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
CPC

Todd Doherty

Conservative

Mr. Todd Doherty

Mr. Speaker, I want to welcome our hon. colleague to the House. This is the first time I have had a chance to address him. However, I believe he flew here. I do not think he walked here. Therefore, my challenge is that as we move away from fossil fuels, what are we going to go to? The reality is that we have to drive to work in rural communities. In my community, we have to drive for services. We have to fly. We have to ship our goods. How do we do that? Until we have a viable option for fossil fuels, it is not possible.

I would agree with my hon. colleague that we have to have a whole host of programs to fix the environment, but a carbon tax is not one of them, because it does nothing. It is a revenue plan for the government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
Permalink
LIB

Alexandra Mendes

Liberal

Mrs. Alexandra Mendès (Brossard—Saint-Lambert, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, most of my speech will be in English, but I want to start by talking about the price on pollution.

I agree with my hon. colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith that this is not the one and only solution. There are many others.

As for the use of our vehicles—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Business of Supply
Sub-subtopic:   Opposition Motion—The Environment
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June 18, 2019