MASSE IN THE HOUSE: Speaking against Bill C-9

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege always to rise in the House of Commons, but sadly Bill C-9 is coming to a conclusion with most likely its passage and I would like to speak against the bill for a number of different reasons.

It is an omnibus bill, so it is a bill that has several additional chapters added on to it. The government has chosen the Americanization of our legislature in many respects. It is similar to state and Congress bills that have riders and pet projects that are added to pass legislation in the United States. What has happened here is that cabinet ministers' pet projects and agendas are moved separately.

I am going to spend a lot of time talking about the bill, but I am not going to necessarily attack the Liberals. I am hopefully going to appeal to the Liberals and the progressive forces who are there to come forward, to change their ways, and vote against the budget.

The reality is that the Conservative government will not fall on this with the G8 and G20 coming. To declare these things as confidence, Canadians would be upset in many respects. Normally those issues that we are talking about should be going to legislation and should have the full debate.

This is a high water mark in terms of what is happening to Canadian democracy and also the repercussions of what is being proposed. I have already seen this.

I saw the thousands of jobs that have been lost, as well as thousands of workers thrown out on the streets in the strike, for example, at Vale Inco in Sudbury. The government changed the Investment Canada Act through a previous budget document, which has now resulted in a foreign takeover that is locking workers out from a fair deal, whereas we could have had a significant difference had that legislation gone through the normal process.

Viewers across the country really need to understand that the government has grouped together and piled on a series of significant social policy changes that are even outside the scope of the discussion of whether or not we should be building fake lakes, whether we should be spending money on employment insurance, whether we should be giving corporate tax cuts, or whether we should be increasing pensions and the politics around that.

This is about a further add-on of legislative changes in hundreds of pages that do not receive accountability. They do not get the input of Canadians. They are excluded from that, whether they are the individuals sitting at home who want to contribute when the government talks about changing Canada Post, who live in a rural community and perhaps would be losing that service, or whether they are in the city and dealing with smog and the environment, or whether they work for an organization actively trying to push for change to public policy. They are being denied the right and usual process in the House to change our ways about doing things.

We are also missing, which sometimes happens in the House, resolutions at the table, with debate in the House, and at committee with witnesses and all those things.

The Liberal Party, by not making a stand on that, is providing this window of opportunity for basically a bully government to get its way, to change public policy through the back door. It is afraid to do that and knows it cannot do that through the democratic process democratically that we normally have.

That is a significant departure from what we have had in the past. We have had this happen a couple of times recently with the Conservatives with regard to the Investment Canada Act and we have seen the hollowing out of the country. We have seen the debacles that have resulted with U.S. Steel, and as I mentioned, Vale Inco. As well, we have a series of divestments in the mining industry that otherwise would have had greater scrutiny.

We have seen the loss of Nortel. That is all because the Investment Canada Act was changed without due process. Pensioners were ripped off, employees have lost their jobs, and we have lost the opportunities of RIM, for example, to become a greater Canadian iconic company that could have brought in some of the technology from Nortel because the government changed the process and created a new process without diligence.

We have seen that happen with the Immigration Act. Canadians are upset about the Immigration Act no matter which way they feel about it. The Conservative government is responsible because it has been fiddling with it without having the proper process.

That is what is unacceptable. It is a watershed moment when it decided to pile it on even further and farther which will cost significantly down the road when we look at the Environmental Assessment Act that is going to be changed.

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If we do not have the proper process in place or accountability, if people peddle their pet projects or get permission to avoid the process, we could end up hurting our economy and the environment, and I have seen that happen before.

I saw the government's short-natured approach when we looked at the Navigable Waters Protection Act. It was changed in a budget bill. We heard significant uproar from native fishermen, anglers, and a series of other groups who had no opportunity to consult.

Now the government has decided to up the ante. We just need to look at what the government is going to do with AECL, our nuclear power industry. It is important to note that 30,000 value-added jobs are in this industry in Canada. AECL has demonstrated that it is one of the most reliable operators in the world. It has demonstrated that it can actually be a progressive force for nuclear energy, but also making sure that it is not connected to weaponization.

AECL has led the way in many respects and it is now going to be sold, probably to the lowest bid. The government is desperate and it is trying to make up for the deficit. Everyone knows that so bids will come in low. That is unacceptable because billions of dollars of taxpayers' money has been invested in AECL.

I come from the auto industry. That industry has seen the loss of many value-added jobs. The manufacturing sector has lost many value-added jobs. The forestry sector has lost many value-added jobs. The effect is not only the bang at the moment when people are sent home and do not know what their future will hold but it also has an echo effect on the community, when their EI runs out or when they no longer have a pension or benefits so they cannot afford to send their kid to college or university.

We are undermining ourselves significantly by not doing the proper planning. It is frustrating when we see some of the things that are happening.

There is a big stink right now with regard to the $2 million fake lake, which is now being called a pavilion. Let me put some perspective on this $2 million lake that is being built in Toronto and is going to be filled in after the summit.

The government only has $8 million in this budget for the Great Lakes, the most important natural resource on this planet. It provides freshwater which is not only a commodity but essential to our everyday living and our farming communities. This is causing regional conflict across this country. It will be the new gold of the future.

The government is providing $8 million for the Great Lakes, yet in Toronto it will dig a hole, fill it with water, put out some Muskoka furniture, add some screens and some fences, and it is going to cost $2 million. This fake lake is probably going to get more money than Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and Lake St. Clair. It is going to get more than all the Great Lakes. This fake lake is getting $2 million and meanwhile $8 million has to be divided up even though we know freshwater is one of the most significant things that we have.

Lake levels are down right now and that is affecting our economy. We have already witnessed that fact. The shipping port through Windsor and that area is one of the busiest in the world. It has actually had to lessen the loads to make sure that they can actually get through. A whole series of other issues related to dredging are going to emerge. Environmental contaminants occur as a result of dredging. We will lose the use of our waters, whether we use them for pleasure, recreation or the economy.

What do we get from the government in this budget? We get $8 million for that and $2 million will go toward something that will be dug out, filled with water, carved up, and then three or four days later be filled back in.

We have to borrow this money as the government has raked up a record deficit. We will have to pay interest on that money. Whether it be the money for corporate taxes, the tens of billions of dollars that will have to be raked over until 2014, whether it be $6 billion for implementing the HST, we will have to pay interest on that.

Everything we do right now counts because we do it at a premium. We do it at an extra cost, and interesting to note is that it is being done on a credit card. The government's solution is to try to change the channel.

I ask the Liberals to think about this because it is significant for our economy and for our democracy. Now is the moment to call the government on the carpet.