Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 (Bill C-45)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I would like to pursue with my hon. friend the matter that I tried to pursue with the previous speech from the member from her caucus, which was to explain the constitutionality of basically the abandonment of navigation under the federal head of power in the Constitution. I hope it will not be unfair to my friend but I think she was present when we were discussing this.

Constitutional law, as I recited from Professor Peter Hogg who is the leading expert, requires that we look at the Constitution not based on what people designed things for in the 1860s but as they evolve. As Lord Sankey wrote in a decision of the high court in 1930, the BNA Act is like a tree planted in Canada that grows and evolves. That means that the meaning of “navigation” and “navigable waters” have changed since 1867. For generations, they have always included that we protect free-flowing rivers in Canada.

When the federal government, through Bill C-45, retreats from this, it would be illegal for any other level of government to step in to protect rights of navigation on waterways throughout Canada. How do we square this circle of unconstitutionality?

Joyce Bateman: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for that question, but I also want to advise her that my remarks in the House of Commons today focused on what the Government of Canada is doing for families, for the financial industry sector and for businesses. That was the focus of my remarks.

I might add that my government is succeeding with a contribution of 820,000 net new jobs since July 2009 because we focus on what we are talking about. We are talking about creating jobs. We are talking about creating growth and we are talking about prosperity, not just for us right now, because that is so comfortable, but for the generations that are going to follow us. That is focus and that is why it is succeeding.