IN THE HOUSE ~ Bill C-9, the budget implementation act

40th Parliament, 3rd Session
Context : Questions and Comments

M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, j'ai beaucoup aimé le discours du député. Maintenant, il faut dire que le projet de loi devant la Chambre des communes ne touche effectivement pas aux priorités des vrais gens partout au pays. Comme le député le sait très bien, les conservateurs semblent vouloir donner des milliards de dollars et des dizaines de milliards de dollars aux banques, aux grandes entreprises plutôt que d'investir de l'argent dans les communautés partout au pays. En plus, on voit qu'il veut faire des choses comme diminuer la portée de Postes Canada et prendre d'autres mesures qui n'aident d'aucune façon les communautés canadiennes.

Je veux savoir si le député a trouvé dans le projet de loi la moindre priorité qui pourrait toucher de façon positive la vie quotidienne des vrais gens au Canada ou s'il estime que les conservateurs sont vraiment dans le champ.

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I very much enjoyed the member's speech. I must point out that the bill currently before the House of Commons does not really address the priorities of real people across Canada. As the member well knows, the Conservatives seem to want to give billions of dollars and tens of billions of dollars to the banks and big business, instead of investing money in communities across the country. Furthermore, we see that they want to do things like reducing Canada Post's capacities and adopting other measures that do nothing to help Canadian communities.

I wonder if the member found the slightest indication of any priorities in the bill that could improve the daily lives of real people in Canada, or if he believes that the Conservatives are way out in left field.

Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the statement by the member for Kings—Hants. I enjoy working with him on the international trade committee.

The budget implementation bill is the everything but the kitchen sink act. The Conservatives have thrown in a whole number of provisions that have no business being in a budget implementation act.

We have everything from legalizing the theft of the employment insurance fund to softwood lumber tariffs, to probably one of the most egregious elements which is around Canada Post and removing Canada Post's capacity to serve the public including smaller communities right across the country, as in Nova Scotia in the member's riding of Kings--Hants.

I would like the member to comment on how inappropriate this is for the Conservatives to throw all of these provisions into a budget bill rather than having the courage and the honesty to bring those provisions forward one by one so that members of Parliament can evaluate them and vote on them one by one, rather than this deceptive and irresponsible practice.

Could the member comment on that please?

Context : Debate
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill. The misnomer of course is the subtitle, which is “Jobs and Economic Growth Act”. I think a number of speakers from this corner of the House, from the NDP, have pointed out how inappropriate that term is, given that the current government has absolutely no fundamental economic approach, no industrial policy, and no real attempt to create jobs and prosperity for the middle class. What the government loves to do, as members well know, is just shovel money off the back of a truck to bankers and the richest of Canada's CEOs. That is the government's attempt at economy policy.

In this corner of the House we actually believe in sound economics and a fundamentally economic approach that includes an industrial policy, that includes building export markets abroad by providing the same supports that our competitors are providing to their export industries. So, we have different approaches.

I would like to say that Canadian values and Canadians are much closer to where the NDP is going than what the Conservatives are offering in this budget implementation bill.

As I mentioned previously, this should be called the “everything but the kitchen sink act” because what the government has done is thrown in a whole range of inappropriate measures into this bill.

Is this in keeping with where Canadians want to go? Of course not.

Do Canadians want to see Canada Post gutted in its ability to provide services across the country? Of course not.

Do Canadians want to see punitive softwood tariffs imposed that would hit the provinces of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec? Of course not.

This would force more mill closures and more job losses. We had the softwood sellout that killed 20,000 jobs across the country. The budget implementation bill would continue that tradition among the Conservative government budgets and policies of killing our softwood jobs in this country.

What this bill would also do is legalize the employment insurance theft that took place. This is $57 billion of money that was taken from Canada's middle class, Canada's workers, by the former Liberal government, a practice continued by the Conservative government. This was money that Canadians paid into an employment insurance account as an insurance policy against loss of wages.

Yet, what this budget implementation bill would do is legalize that theft. It is quite simple. It is as if we rob a bank and then afterward we change the law to say that robbing banks is okay. Well, robbing the employment insurance fund was robbing Canadians, robbing unemployed Canadians. For the Conservatives to offer the legalization, the retroactive legalization of this theft, whether it occurred under the former Liberal government or the current Conservative government, is equally inappropriate. I believe Canadians will punish the Conservatives when they get the opportunity to voice their disapproval on what is a fundamentally irresponsible and dishonest act.

What this bill would also do is centralize control in Ottawa the environmental assessment process. We have seen this with other Conservative ministries. We have seen how the Conservatives have tried to centralize control in Ottawa, that growing sense of entitlement of the Conservative government. We have certainly seen it perhaps most particularly just in the actions of the last few weeks.

However, the centralization of control, putting into the hands of very few people, or one or two ministers, the ability to determine whether or not the environment is protected in various parts of the country, again, is something that conflicts with basic Canadian values. Canadians are a fair people. Canadians want to see increased protection of the environment, not decreased protection.

What this budget bill would do, the everything but the kitchen sink bill thrown in, in addition to all of these other measures put into this completely inappropriate omnibus bill, is simply allow the Minister of the Environment to dictate the scope of environmental assessments or whether they even occur at all.

For my province of British Columbia, perhaps the worst aspect of this budget implementation bill is that it would compound the incredibly unfair redistribution of taxes through the HST. In my province of British Columbia, HST is a hated word, an epitaph. The B.C. Liberal government is on the retreat and desperately falling in the polls because of what it has done. What it has done is restructured taxes. It has given corporate CEOs another free ride, and it is saying to the average family in British Columbia that it is going to pay $2,000 more a year to supplement this tax-free ride that is being given to the corporate bigwigs.

It is $2,000 at a time when British Columbia has been hard hit by incredibly inappropriate economic policies, both by the Conservative government and also by the B.C. Liberals. To force B.C. families to pay $2,000 more out of pocket so that corporate bigwigs can have an even longer tax-free holiday is absolutely inappropriate.

What we have seen over the last few days shows the willingness of British Columbians to fight back. In places like the Peace River Country, which is certainly not a hotbed of the NDP, we have had hundreds of British Columbians lining up to sign the referendum question, basically a petition to force a referendum on the HST. Those names have been coming in so quickly that Peace River is virtually finished in meeting the threshold to force that referendum.

In places like Delta, we have had 1,000 people out at community meetings. Right across the province, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan, and the lower mainland, we are seeing a record level of support to sign the petition to force the referendum and to force back the federal Conservatives from their incredibly unfair attempt to give corporate bigwigs a tax-free holiday and force ordinary British Columbians to pay more.

The budget implementation bill just compounds that problem by enlarging the HST into other areas like financial services. It is like the Conservatives have completely lost the ability to understand British Columbians. They just do not listen to British Columbians anymore. As far as the Conservatives are concerned, as we heard from one of the budget speeches that was made by the Conservatives, Canada basically ended at the Rocky Mountains.

That inability to understand British Columbians and their belief in having a fair tax system, and their abhorrence of unfair redistribution of taxes to penalize the average B.C. family $2,000 while giving corporate bigwigs a tax-free holiday, is something that will cost the Conservatives quite dearly whenever that next election occurs. Whether it is this spring or next fall or next year, there is no doubt British Columbians will punish the Conservatives for refusing to listen to them.

In the meantime, British Columbians are lining up to sign the petition. There is no doubt we will see a referendum in British Columbia that will cut the HST.

The B.C. Liberals have been pointing their fingers at the federal Conservatives and saying that if the HST bill is not passed in the B.C. Legislature, the Conservatives are going to doubly punish British Columbians. I would just caution the Conservatives. British Columbians are already fed up. They are angry enough at Conservatives.

If the idea of the federal Conservative government is that it is going to punish British Columbians and make them pay more if this bill does not pass the Legislature, I would say that they will see a degree of anger and rage against these federal Conservatives that has never been seen before in British Columbia.

I would be inclined to say every single Conservative seat in British Columbia would be put in jeopardy if the Conservatives are foolish enough to threaten British Columbians by saying that it is going to impose an additional 5% PST on top of this 12% HST unless the bill is passed in the Legislature. That is a warning that I think all British Columbians will be delivering to Conservatives in these coming days.

With all of these inappropriate measures, given what Canadians and British Columbians are living through, there is no doubt that the strong B.C. caucus of federal New Democrats will be voting against this budget implementation bill. It does nothing to address the fundamental economic challenges that we are facing and nothing to help the middle class in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada.

Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, I will not comment on the Liberals voting for this budget and supporting and propping up the Conservatives over the last four years. Canadians have already cast their judgment on the Liberal Party, which is why it has collapsed in the polls and why it is non-existent west of Toronto. Canadians have had their say.

What I would like to do though is respond to the comments about the Conservative government being good, and he used a word which is very appropriate in describing the Conservative government. He used the word extreme. The Conservative government, yes indeed, is extreme, extreme in its betrayal of the fundamental promises it made about transparency and about respecting democracy, extreme in its sense of entitlement.

The NDP had to stop the Minister of National Defence from taking a $100,000 joyride to Vancouver when commercial flights were available. If the NDP had not intervened, $100,000 would have been splurged in a 10-hour joyride. We have seen that sense of entitlement from other minister as well. Some of the ministers have had to resign. Some of the ministers should resign.

The Conservative government is an extreme government.

Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, this is the fundamental problem that we are seeing with the Conservative government.

The member for Yukon may disagree with me on this, but I believe that the Liberals were thrown out of government because of the corruption and their inability to respond to ordinary Canadians across the country.

The Conservatives made a series of promises which were promptly broken. One of their fundamental promises was transparency and due process in Parliament, and they have completely betrayed Canadians who voted for them on that basis, absolutely betrayed them.

We are seeing as many scandals as we saw under the former Liberal government, but arguably, the Conservatives are much worse when it comes to secrecy, central control and the inability to provide for access to information. The Information Commissioner has given them an F on access to information, and that was one of the fundamental promises that the Prime MInister made when he was elected to government.

Context : Questions and Comments
M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, comme d'habitude, j'ai beaucoup aimé le discours de mon collègue de Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. Il se présente toujours très bien en Chambre. Son discours était excellent.

J'ai deux questions pour lui. Il a probablement prévue la première. La deuxième sera nouvelle.

C'est dans ce contexte, dans ce projet de loi que le gouvernement conservateur attaque Postes Canada. C'est très clair que le résultat de ce projet de loi, s'il est adopté, sera d'affaiblir le service et la capacité de fournir des services de Postes Canada, surtout dans les régions rurales comme la sienne.

Je voulais connaître l'ampleur de l'inquiétude de ses concitoyens face à cette diminution possible des services de Postes Canada.

La deuxième question, concerne bien sûr le bois d'oeuvre. Comme vous le savez, on a maintenant une taxe additionnelle sur les produits de bois d'oeuvre qui viennent du Québec. Je voulais savoir s'il pense que, effectivement, le Bloc québécois a fait une erreur en appuyant l'entente du bois d'oeuvre étant donné ces taxes additionnelles qui sont...

Context : Questions and Comments
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the member for Trinity—Spadina is one of the foremost advocates for equality in this House of Commons.

She knows, she is well aware, that what we have seen, dramatically under the former Liberal government and the current Conservative government, is a push back of the kinds of equality that Canadians want to see.

Income inequality in Canada is now at the same level, shamelessly, shockingly, as it was in the 1920s. Prior to the CCF and the NDP coming into being, pushing the big business parties, the Conservatives and the Liberals, into some measure of equality, we have now seen the Conservatives and the Liberals push back and push the middle class and poor Canadians to the point where there is more inequality than there has been in any other time since the 1920s. They have basically pushed us back a century.

I wanted to ask the member, since she represents Toronto and since the only part of the country where Liberals still get elected is really the city of Toronto, how people in Toronto, her constituents, react to the fact that the Liberals are once again propping up this tired old right-wing agenda, this time being brought from the Conservative Party rather than the Liberal Party?

How do her constituents react to this sellout and repudiation of basic Canadian values?