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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 091

CONTENTS

Wednesday, May 28, 2014




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 091 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayers


[Statements by Members]

  (1405)  

[English]

    It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia.
     [Members sang the national anthem]

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Bloc Québécois Convention

    Mr. Speaker, over three days last weekend, some 500 delegates from across Quebec met in the beautiful town of Rimouski, making this Bloc Québécois convention the biggest gathering of its kind in Quebec in 2014.
    The delegates demonstrated how important Quebec's regions are to the Bloc Québécois and how much the party values their development and enhancement. Men and women of all ages worked hard to define the 20 basic principles that will guide the Bloc Québécois through to the 2015 election.
    Unlike the other parties in the House, the Bloc Québécois reaffirmed that it will never sacrifice Quebec's interests in the hopes of catering to the other Canadian provinces. The delegates were able to attend an important debate between the two leadership candidates, and they used the event as an opportunity to put a spotlight on issues that are of concern to them.
    They are calling for a reversal of the decision to eliminate door-to-door mail delivery and demanding that no oil or gas transportation or development projects be approved at the expense of the environment or community safety.
    They are saying that the Quebec consensus must be vigorously defended.
    We will do it.

[English]

Remember November 11 Association

    Mr. Speaker, in 2008 a group of Londoners came together to establish the Remember November 11 Association, dedicated to help honour our heroes by promoting more remembrance events and further strengthen our nation's commitment to remember our fallen heroes.
    Led by director Sean Wilson, the Remember November 11 Association has purchased 1.2 million poppies, which have been distributed to Legions and elementary and secondary schools across London-Middlesex.
    This Saturday I, along with members of our community, will come together to plant poppies to pay tribute to our brave men and women, past and present, of the Canadian Armed Forces. Local companies have donated materials and equipment, and generous Londoners have given monetary donations to make this event possible.
    I encourage all Canadians to visit remembernovember11.com to learn more about this great initiative and to make a donation.
    Lest we forget.

Vancouver Coastal Health

    Mr. Speaker, Vancouver Coastal Health is eliminating a number of primary care services at public health facilities in Vancouver, including several in my riding. These provide some of the most essential elements of care delivered by health professionals at places like the Evergreen and Mid-Main clinics.
    The services being shut down are models of preventive community-based health care. We know that multidisciplinary clinics promote better health outcomes and, when properly supported, provide the most efficient care. This misguided and short-sighted decision will leave thousands of patients without regular access to a primary health care provider. It will cost us more in the long run and hurt patient health.
    It is a direct result of cuts to the Canada health transfer by Conservatives in Ottawa and poor management of our health care system by Liberals in British Columbia.
    Canadians want national and provincial governments that will support primary care and prevention and a strong public health care system.
    I call on the Conservative government to immediately restore the funding necessary to keep these vital services available to citizens in Vancouver.

Highbury Canco Corporation

    Mr. Speaker, on May 20 I received news that the H.J. Heinz Company had completed a business deal with the Highbury Canco Corporation to purchase the Heinz Company facility in Leamington.
    It only makes sense to have a co-packer in Canada, as Leamington is the tomato capital of Canada and our American counterparts are looking to the Canadian market for tomato juice.
    Effective June 27, Highbury Canco will take over all aspects of the operation at the Leamington factory and will continue to manufacture some of Canada's favourite products, including Heinz Tomato juice, Heinz beans and Heinz canned pastas.
     Highbury Canco will keep the Leamington plant globally competitive and also looks to build the business by seeking out new opportunities to create or pack new products. Already, approximately 10 farmers have signed on to grow tomatoes for Highbury Canco, and it plans to hire 250 employees before resuming operations in June.
    I take this opportunity to congratulate Highbury Canco and wish it every success in this endeavour. It is great for Canada and it is great for Leamington.

[Translation]

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, the constant cuts to postal services in New Brunswick's rural areas are unacceptable.
    The Saint-Paul post office and, as councillor Gilles Cormier tells me, the one in Haute-Aboujagane will have reduced hours. The Conservatives keep attacking the rural areas and treating the people who live there like second-class citizens.
    By reducing these services, the government is not only hurting local businesses but also limiting access to an essential service for many Canadians.

[English]

    Cuts in places such as the Cape Tormentine post office are not only detrimental to the communities, which depend on postal service, but also to local employees who have seen their hours cut or, worse, eliminated.
    I call upon the Conservative government to not only reverse these cuts but to find other and better ways to modernize Canada Post.

[Translation]

    The government must stop punishing people who live in rural areas across Canada.

[English]

Troy's Run Foundation

    Mr. Speaker, 27-year-old Troy Adams is the founder of Troy's Run Foundation, a volunteer-based organization focused upon creating a better lifestyle for brain injury survivors and their loved ones.
    Eleven years ago, Troy was in a serious car accident that resulted in brain injury. Among his many therapies, he found that running cleared his mind best, which motivated him to run across Canada in 2012 in establishing the Troy's Run Foundation.
    It was an honour for me to meet with him when got to Ottawa.
    Troy is a role model and an inspiration for brain injury survivors. He speaks at schools, services groups, and charities. His focus is on hope, prevention, and education, which led to his Helmets for All campaign promoting bicycle and sports helmet safety.
    As June 1 is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, please join me in congratulating Troy because of the part he is doing to make life better for brain injury survivors.

  (1410)  

Arts and Culture

    Mr. Speaker, this month Montreal and the borough of Little Burgundy celebrated 75 years of the gift of music, a gift from their native son Oliver Jones.
    On May 11 I had the pleasure of presiding as master of ceremonies over a tribute to Dr. Jones given by the historic Union United Church for his years of devotion to the community of Little Burgundy. On May 20, Dr. Jones was named an honorary citizen of Montreal.
    He holds four honorary doctorates, has multiple Juno wins, and was named a Chevalier du Québec and to the Order of Canada. He is an inspiration of musicians of all genres. He is a gifted man, a humble man and a man who demonstrates the power of music to bring people together. He is respected and adored throughout Quebec, Canada and, indeed, the world.
     On behalf of the House, I congratulate Oliver Jones on 75 years of bringing pride to the people of Little Burgundy and to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Republic of Azerbaijan

    Mr. Speaker, it was 96 years ago today that the Republic of Azerbaijan was established as the first democratic and secular republic in the Muslim world.
    Among the most important accomplishments of that first republic was granting suffrage to women in 1919, making Azerbaijan the first Muslim nation to grant women political rights equal to men. Interestingly, that was the same year Canadian women got the vote, and years before British and American women gained the same.
    Alas, this independent Azerbaijani state did not last long. Less than two years later, the Soviet Red Army rolled into Baku, and a free and democratic Republic of Azerbaijan was no more.
    This story does, however, ultimately have a happy ending. Shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Azerbaijan was re-established in 1991.
    Recently, Azerbaijan took the courageous step of joining Canada in support of UN resolution 262 that called on all nations, including Russia, to recognize the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
    As chair of the Canada-Azerbaijan Friendship Group, I congratulate the Azeri people on this special day and wish the Republic of Azerbaijan a bright future.

Workplace Safety

    Mr. Speaker, imagine how many work accidents could be avoided each year if people would just stop to ask for help instead of rushing ahead with the task at hand. That was the message of a work safety video entitled Just Ask, which placed first both in Saskatchewan and also nationally in a national safety video contest.
    Just Ask was produced by Humboldt Collegiate Institute students Dylan Pappenfoot, Logan Seipp, and Dylan Stadnyk.
    In the video, Stadnyk plays a worker crushed to death under a stack of heavy boxes he is trying to move down a staircase. This video shows his worried mother hearing the bad news from a trauma surgeon and then cuts to Dylan safely moving the dolly down the same stairs after asking a co-worker for help.
    The Humboldt Collegiate Institute won double honours because its Just Ask video got the most votes nationally in the Fan Favourite category.
    By engaging high school youth in the production of this workplace safety video, the second annual “It's your Job!” video contest encourages students to think about safety in their workplace.
    Congratulations to the Humboldt Collegiate Institute and its creative students.

[Translation]

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, last December Canada Post announced that it was going to eliminate home mail delivery for millions of people. I have received thousands of letters and emails from unhappy people in my riding of Brome—Missisquoi, as well as several petitions.
    On May 10, almost 200 people took to the streets of Farnham to support postal workers.
    The people of Brome—Missisquoi are all telling me the same thing: they support the NDP, which is calling on the government to reject the plan to reduce services. Other avenues must be explored in order to modernize our crown corporation.
    Canada Post, we want to keep our services.

  (1415)  

[English]

Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health

    Mr. Speaker, last week I was happy to announce that our government is contributing $20 million to UNICEF for a birth registration project in sub-Saharan Africa. With our support, UNICEF will use innovative information and communication technologies to record births and deaths, ensuring that children can have access to basic services such as education and health care and are less susceptible to violence, exploitation, and trafficking.
    Maternal, newborn, and child health is our government's top development priority, and the Prime Minister is opening a conference on this issue today in Toronto. We are providing $2.85 billion in funding between 2010 and 2015 under the Muskoka initiative to save the lives of women and children in developing countries. I am proud of our government's commitment to protecting the future of the children of sub-Saharan Africa.

Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health

    Mr. Speaker, this week while the Prime Minister and his Conservative government host an international summit entitled Saving Every Woman, Every Child in Toronto, they are letting down women around the world and here at home.
    Aboriginal women in Canada face the highest levels of health insecurity in our country. This reality is linked to the higher levels of poverty and ever-present impacts of colonization. While indigenous communities try to effect change, the current government works against them. In Manitoba, the strengthening families maternal child health initiative at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has made a difference. In 2010, a health director stated that it is “...the first program that has effectively addressed the damage of residential schools and child welfare policies of the past”. It has trained nurses and home visitors. In 2011, it was acknowledged by the Health Council of Canada as a partnership model of best practice.
    First nations like War Lake, Pimicikamak, and others have seen a difference, yet a few short weeks ago, Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch announced it is cutting the funding. Today I ask the Prime Minister to take leadership here at home and support programs like the SF-MCH in Manitoba.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister, Canadians have more money in their wallets, where it belongs. With the federal tax burden at its lowest level in 50 years, our historic tax relief has especially benefited Canada's middle-income earners.
    A new report just released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer says that our tax cuts “...greatly impact low-middle income earners...effectively resulting in a 4.0 per cent increase in after-tax income”. Thanks to our government, the average family of four will save nearly $3,400 in taxes this year. The net worth of families is up over 44%, and even The New York Times says we have the richest middle class in the world.
    Unfortunately, the Liberal leader has no idea what it is like to be a middle-income earner. In fact, he even claims that a budget can balance itself. Despite what Liberal members call their own leader's “bozo eruption”, our Conservative government continues to take action that actually helps middle-income families and puts more money in their pockets, where it belongs.

Religious Intolerance

    Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians, I was deeply saddened by the death of a Canadian doctor, Mehdi Ali Qamar, who was murdered in Pakistan this past Monday. This murder happened as a result of religious intolerance.
     Dr. Qamar was an Ahmadi, and he is among a growing number of Ahmadis killed every year, for nothing more than their faith, at the hands of intolerant regimes and closed-minded dictators. In fact, violence against religious communities in places like Pakistan is on the rise, and too often peaceful and devout individuals such as those in the Ahmadi community are subjects of the violence.
     Religious intolerance is cowardly and must never be tolerated. The Liberals stand against intolerance and are united in calls for acceptance of diversity and the establishment of human rights globally. Let us offer more than our prayers to Dr. Qamar's family. Now is the time for renewed pressure on world governments that tyrannize the faithful. Let that—

  (1420)  

Religious Intolerance

    Mr. Speaker, as my colleague just said, earlier this week a Canadian doctor, Mehdi Ali Qamar, was gunned down in Pakistan. It is believed that Mr. Qamar was murdered over his Ahmadi faith. This incident is a continuance of a pattern of violence and persecution against religious minorities in Pakistan.
    We all remember the assassination of Pakistan's minister of minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti. Religious freedom is an inherent right that must be protected. Individuals everywhere should have the right to practise their faith in peace and security. The government of Pakistan must do more to ensure these religious minorities are protected and bring those who infringe upon this universal right to justice.
    On behalf of our government, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Qamar and assure them that Canadian consular officials will continue to provide assistance during this difficult time.

[Translation]

Supreme Court of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, the fiasco surrounding the appointment of Justice Nadon to the Supreme Court illustrates the Conservatives' contempt for Quebec.
    The Prime Minister thinks that judges from Quebec would be too progressive or too soft on criminals to sit on the country's highest court.
    By stubbornly appointing a federal judge and, moreover, one with little experience in civil law, the Prime Minister is telling us that he could not care less about Quebec's civil law tradition. We already suspected this, though, since the Prime Minister once appointed a judge who was not fluent in French, which is another one of Quebec's fundamental characteristics.
    Yesterday Quebec's premier took the Conservative government to task. He does not like how Quebec is being treated. This morning, the Minister of Justice, looking pitiful, said that he would honour Quebec's wishes. He could have saved face if he had just listened to Quebec's advice from the beginning.
    Quebec has three seats on the country's highest court to ensure that its fundamental character is represented there.
    Every time the Prime Minister tries to get around his obligations to Quebec and wipe away our differences, the NDP will stand in his way.

[English]

Vanessa's Law

    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-17, Vanessa's law, would help identify potentially dangerous drugs and ensure the quick recall of unsafe drugs. It would require reporting of serious adverse drug reactions, so doctors and patients are aware of new risks, and it would introduce tough new fines for companies that put Canadians at risk.
    The Minister of Health has even declared that she is open to amendments to further strengthen this bill. I cannot believe that New Democrats have chosen to stonewall its passage. They wasted hours yesterday talking about how important this bill is, but when asked to fast-track it, they simply refused. I pleaded with six NDP members yesterday in the House to request their House leader to get Bill C-17 to committee as soon as possible. Every one of them refused or ignored me entirely.
    This legislation would save lives. We need to get it passed. The NDP will have to answer to Canadian patients for this inexcusable delay. The NDP should stop playing political games with patient safety.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, it is too bad that his House leader never called it in six months.

[Translation]

    In developing countries, 800 women die every day from causes related to pregnancy, childbirth and unsafe abortions. Funding for reproductive medicine is key to putting an end to this tragedy. Nevertheless, the Conservatives refuse to give funding to groups that provide safe and legal medical procedures, even when those procedures are required because of war rape.
    Why are the Conservatives refusing to fund these basic health care services for women, when they know that 800 women are dying every day?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is important, and the Prime Minister deserves a significant amount of praise for the leadership he has demonstrated. We have got many other countries off the bench and into the game, providing a substantial amount of funding to support these mothers and support their young babies. Canadians can be very proud of our leadership initiatives.
    Mr. Speaker, even in their commitment to end forced marriages, the Conservatives have refused to help finance the United Nations population fund. Why? The UN population fund has long been the target of anti-choice activists for its efforts to provide family planning and promote reproductive health.
    Why are the Conservatives putting anti-choice politics ahead of promoting women's health in the poorest countries in the world, where 800 women a day die for lack of proper care?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, under the Muskoka initiative on maternal, newborn, and child health, will save the lives of 1.3 million children and newborns, as well as more than 60,000 young mothers, so I do not know what the Leader of the Opposition is talking about. This is one of the best initiatives that has come from Canada. We are saving lives. We want the NDP to support us instead of stopping us—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

[Translation]

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, since the Liberal Party expanded the program in 2002, the number of temporary foreign workers in Canada has risen steadily, by 13% per year, under both the Liberal and Conservative governments.
    Today, as soon as an employer is unable to find a Canadian who will work for minimum wage, the Conservatives send him a temporary foreign worker. What message are the Conservatives sending to the 1.3 million unemployed Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear from his question that the Leader of the Opposition is mistaken as usual. Employers are required to offer any jobs that are available to Canadians first, and they must advertise those jobs at the average wage in Canada. If qualified Canadians do not respond to the ad, then employers can apply to the temporary foreign worker program.
    We are going to make changes to the program to ensure that Canadians are given priority in the labour market and that the jobs are there for them when they want to apply.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have approved the use of temporary foreign workers at hotels, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, nurseries, truck stops, casinos, and ski lifts, all at minimum wage.
    If a company can hire temporary foreign workers at minimum wage for any job it wants, why would it ever pay a Canadian more than minimum wage? This is a massive interference in the free market. Is that not in fact what the temporary foreign worker program is all about: keeping wages artificially low?
    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see that the Leader of the Opposition has been converted to free-market theory. I congratulate him. Who knows? He might actually change his position and start supporting tax cuts instead of tax increases.
    Of the temporary foreign workers who are paid at minimum wage, 99% were in the seasonal agriculture worker program, which the NDP wants to keep, and the live-in caregiver program, for which we have since raised the prevailing wage rate. For the other 1%, the prevailing wage rate, the median, was actually at the minimum level in each province, but the vast majority are well above that.

Privacy

    Mr. Speaker, he should tell that to the 1.3 million Canadians looking for a job.
    Today Ontario's Privacy Commissioner added her voice to that of the Canadian Bar Association in accusing Conservatives of chipping away at Canadians' charter right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.
    The commissioner is clear. Conservatives are trying to use new legislation on cyberbullying to push through a host of measures that would “invade the privacy of every Canadian”.
    How can Conservatives possibly justify using a bill meant to protect children as political cover to pass vast new powers to spy on honest Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, what the Leader of the Opposition has just said is not true. What we are doing is in fact passing laws that will enable police and law enforcement to protect children against online predators, to protect children from the type of abuse and humiliation and bullying we saw in the Rehtaeh Parsons case, the Amanda Todd case, and others.
    When we heard from their parents, interestingly, what those parents said was “Pass this law. Protect our children.” That is what our government is doing.

[Translation]

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Immigration. I have a blacklist issued by his department of employers who have maltreated temporary foreign workers. However, the list is empty.
    Can the Minister of Immigration explain why his department has been missing in action on this and why it is doing nothing to deal with the exploitation of temporary foreign workers?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, as soon as an employer ends up on the list, it no longer has access to the temporary foreign worker program. It is as simple as that.
    The department of employment established this list in 2011 and began adding employers to it in December 2013. There are investigations currently under way. There is a moratorium, and we are taking measures to ensure that employers that end up on the list no longer receive labour market opinions.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, he just said that as soon as the employer does something bad to employees, he is on the list. He should know that there is no one on the list. That is the point. There is no one on the list. That is why the real immigration minister usually answers the questions.
    If that minister wants to answer the question, will he tell us, given that there are zero employers on the list who have maltreated employees, why this is? Is this not blanket evidence that they do not care when employees are maltreated?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is plain wrong. There are employers on the list. Both departments are taking action to ensure that LMOs are denied to those employers. There are new investigations under way. There is a moratorium in place for a large number of LMOs under the low-skilled class, and we are proud of that record, because we take the rules seriously. We are cleaning up the Liberal mess started by them in 2002 when there was not even any ability to inquire or--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. There are some members whose names appear later down on my list, but I am worried that they are going to run out of breath by then. I would ask them to come to order lest they be too tired to be recognized by the Speaker later on.
    The hon. member for Markham—Unionville.
    Mr. Speaker, he is addicted to this silly Conservative line about cleaning up a Liberal mess, which did not exist in those days.
    If we want to be more serious, this guy talks about employers on the list. There are zero employers on any list for abuse of employees, so I would ask this minister, or if he does not know I will ask the real minister, can he name one employer on the list for abusing employee rights? Can either of the ministers answer that question?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows perfectly well that there are employers on the list who do not have access to the program. He knows that there are further investigations under way, and he also knows that there was no list in their time in government, because they were indifferent to abuse. They brought exotic dancers to this country in the hundreds and thousands, without any scrutiny of what happened to them. It was atrocious, and we are going to continue cleaning up that mess.

[Translation]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, in response to a question on the order paper, the NDP has obtained the most up-to-date information on the use of the government's Challenger aircraft by Conservative ministers. We can conclude that they use these aircraft—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

[English]

    Order, please.
    We have moved on to the next question. I will ask members to give the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île their attention. The hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, we see that the Conservative ministers make rather liberal use of government aircraft.
    Over the past five years, such flights have cost us more than $4 million. The Minister of Justice, who returned from vacation on a military Challenger, has a $330,000 bill.
    When will they finally decide to limit their travel and to take commercial flights like everyone else?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government has the greatest respect for Canadian taxpayers and has reduced use of the Challenger jet by 80%.

[English]

    It is because we have the utmost respect for taxpayers that we reduced the use of Challenger jets by 80%. I contrast that to the NDP, which still has not accounted for some $3 million worth of taxpayers' money it used to open up illegal offices. It could make a start by returning that money to Canadian taxpayers.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives continue to happily fly at taxpayers' expense, as did the Liberals before them.
    The other problem is that they are refusing to give us information about the identity of those travelling with the Prime Minister and his ministers.
    For example, previously we could find out that the Prime Minister regularly gave lifts to an important Conservative Party fundraiser. Now the rules seem to have changed suddenly, and we are no longer given that information. They obviously believe that those paying the bills may be asking too many questions.
    Does the government have something to hide?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I just said, this government has the utmost respect for Canadians taxpayers. That is why we have reduced the use of Challengers by 80% since we have come into office.
    The only people we are having trouble finding are the people who supposedly work in the NDP offices. We are not sure if they work in Quebec, in Montreal, or in Saskatchewan. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition says they actually work in Ottawa, and apparently it is all the Clerk's fault.
    New Democrats should repay taxpayers the millions of dollars they use for illegal offices across this country to further their party's agenda.
    We enjoyed the fiction show over there, Mr. Speaker, but let us talk about how the Conservatives preach belt-tightening for others while we find more evidence of Conservative ministers flying their friends around the country on the Challenger.
    At least before, they used to declare who was flying on these trips, but now they say it is a state secret. When they hide the flight manifest, it means Canadians cannot tell whether it is government officials or cronies of the Conservative Party who are along for the ride.
    We know the Prime Minister's buddy, Mark Kihn, used to ride shotgun on these airborne Cadillacs. Who else? What are they trying to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, we have reduced the use of Challenger jets by some 80% since we took office in 2006. It is because we have the utmost respect for Canadian taxpayers that we have done that, because we understand on this side of the House that leaving money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians is better than putting it in the hands of government.
    At the same time, New Democrats have to account for the fact that they wasted millions of taxpayers' dollars on potentially illegal offices across this country. They should show some leadership and return that money to Canadian taxpayers.
    Mr. Speaker, I would advise my hon. colleague from Markham that if he was worried about taxpayers, he would be talking to the Minister of Justice, who uses a Challenger jet as his own personal taxi service to Halifax on the weekend.
    Speaking of poor judgment, remember Bruce Carson, the convicted fraud artist who is now up on influence peddling charges? Canadians tried to figure out how this guy ever slipped through security checks. Mr. Carson tells us that the Prime Minister knew about his criminal record and invited him into the inner office anyway.
    A simple question: why would the Prime Minister hire a convicted criminal to be his chief adviser?
    Mr. Speaker, the only people who are in trouble right now are New Democrats, who have to account for the fact that they took millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to fund partisan political offices across this country.
    It is not just one person implicated in the NDP; it is the entire caucus, who actually participated in the scheme to rip off Canadian taxpayers.
    They should account for that. They should stop blaming the Clerk of the House of Commons, whose reputation is the highest reputation, and be honest with Canadians. Repay the millions of dollars they took from Canadians illegally.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, last week the Charbonneau commission found that SNC-Lavalin's upper echelons are plagued by a culture of corruption and non-compliance.
    Arthur Porter and Senator Angus's schemes led to the biggest corruption fraud in the history of Canada. However, the federal government continues to do business with SNC-Lavalin, awarding the company military and building maintenance contracts.
    When will the government look into the contracts awarded to SNC-Lavalin in the past?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, those are problems with municipal and provincial contracts. At the same time, it is very important that the commission continue its work.

[English]

    If the Leader of the Opposition, 20 years ago, had had the courage to come forward with the fact that he was offered a bribe and had not actually hidden it for 17 years, I can only imagine the corruption we could have put a stop to if he had just had the courage, 20 years ago, to come forward, instead of hiding it for 17 years.
    We will continue to put taxpayers first in everything we do on this side.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, give me a break. We are talking about contracts between SNC-Lavalin and the federal government.
    Last March, Public Works and Government Services Canada changed its procurement policies to avoid doing business with companies that have been found guilty of fraud or bribery. However, SNC-Lavalin executives and police told the Charbonneau commission that SNC-Lavalin had defrauded Quebec taxpayers and paid bribes to win the contract to build the McGill hospital centre.
    SNC-Lavalin is now famous for its role in the biggest corruption fraud in the history of Canada.
    Can the government confirm that the new rules will apply to SNC-Lavalin?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, these problems do not involve the federal government. This commission is investigating provincial and municipal affairs.

[English]

    At the same time, anybody who is found guilty should face the full force of the law. As you know, Mr. Speaker, one of the first acts this government brought forward when it was elected was the Federal Accountability Act, which removed the influence of big money and big unions from federal contracting.
    We will continue to put taxpayers first by bringing in laws like that, which protect Canadian taxpayers.

[Translation]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, former Supreme Court justice John Major is shaking his head at the Conservative kerfuffle over the appointment of Justice Nadon.
    He is especially critical of the politicization of the process and the direct attack against the Chief Justice, who was only doing her job in warning the Prime Minister. Instead of attacking the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister should do some soul-searching.
    When will he admit that he alone is responsible for this fiasco?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I notice that former Supreme Court Justice, Mr. Justice Major, has added his name to other former justices from the Supreme Court, Justice Binnie and Justice Charron, in disagreeing with the Supreme Court on eligibility.
    Of course, we also know that constitutional expert Peter Hogg disagreed. We sought advice and followed that advice, in fact. Of course, of all Federal Court judges themselves who had applied, some were listed on the eligibility list. The member opposite was part of that process.
    We will support and follow the letter and the spirit of the Supreme Court.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, according to former justice Major, the Conservative kerfuffle is compounded by the fact that the Prime Minister once again has the wrong people around him.
    Justice Major says that the current Minister of Justice is a lightweight when it comes to justice. That explains why this appointment is such a fiasco. That is not very flattering.
    Why did the Conservatives not listen to Quebec's recommendations before appointing Justice Nadon?
    Mr. Speaker, I recently had a productive meeting with Quebec's justice minister, Ms. Vallée, and representatives of Quebec's legal community.
    As usual, we are consulting a wide range of stakeholders. We will not comment on rumours, speculation or comments made by former Supreme Court justices. We have been very clear: we will respect the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court decision.
    Mr. Speaker, they do not listen to anyone, and that is the problem.

[English]

    We have ever-changing stories from the Prime Minister and his Minister of Justice.
    When the decision of the Supreme Court came down, the Prime Minister claimed he was “very surprised” but this week he tells us he knew all along.
    The Conservatives have targeted Kevin Page, Sheila Fraser, Marc Mayrand and now even the Chief Justice. In short, any eminent Canadian who disagrees with them.
    Why has the Prime Minister gone so far out of his way to pick a fight with the Supreme Court of Canada?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is patently false. We have nothing but the utmost respect for the Supreme Court as well as all of the institutions of the country. That is why we want people with merit, people with judicial excellence, to fill the positions, particularly at the Supreme Court of Canada.
    We acted on the advice of legal experts, including former justices of the Supreme Court. We have listened to the Supreme Court's ruling with respect to eligibility specific to the province of Quebec. That is a new interpretation from the original act.
    As the Prime Minister has said, we will respect the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court's decision.

[Translation]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-24 opens a Pandora's box. It will give foreign courts the right to put the citizenship of Canadians in jeopardy, with no legislative guarantee that the process is fair. For example, how can the minister justify to members of Canada's Tamil community that their citizenship would be in jeopardy if they were found guilty in a Sri Lankan court?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely wrong.
    Our citizenship and immigration bill will strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship by tightening requirements. This means that new Canadians must reside in Canada, fulfill the citizenship criteria and live in accordance with Canada's values and laws.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has a problem getting his facts right. It was his—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. member for Vancouver Centre has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, it was his party that opposed every piece of LGBTTQ equality legislation brought forward by the last Liberal government, from amending the Canadian Human Rights Act all the way to gay marriage.
    Despite his assurances to use his power to make the WorldPride Human Rights Conference in Toronto a success, he still will not say if he will okay visitor visas for 10 Ugandan gay rights activists—
    Order. The hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
    It is astonishing, Mr. Speaker, that former ministers would stand in this place and ask the Minister of Immigration to give a decision in this place about individual immigration cases. That member knows very well that the authority is delegated to highly trained professionals around the world. She knew that when her party was in government. It is not a surprise that her party is not in government now, given that those members deny these things.
    We will continue to stand up for human rights around the world. We will continue to insist that governments in Uganda and elsewhere respect human rights regardless of sexual orientation. We will use our immigration laws to make this conference a success.
    Mr. Speaker, for years the Ontario Liberal government has made it clear that it needs the federal government to raise the targets on the provincial nominee program. Unfortunately, the Conservative government continues to undermine Ontario's economic potential by limiting it to 2,500 applicants per year. Even Tim Hudak now says that Canada's immigration minister is being grossly unfair to Ontario.
    Is the minister just incompetent, or can he explain why he has so stubbornly refused to help Ontario's economy?
    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to answer that question because it gives me a chance to remind voters in Ontario that under the Liberal government before 2006, the number for the provincial nominee program from Ontario was zero. The program when we came into office brought 6,000 new Canadians to this country. This year it is bringing 46,000. We doubled the number for Ontario.
    What shows disrespect to the taxpayers of Ontario is spending Ontario taxpayers' hard-earned dollars on failed and bogus refugee claimants. That is what is driving us crazy in Ontario. That is why we need a new—
    Order. We will move on to the hon. member for St. John's East.

  (1450)  

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have faced sexual assault know that this issue requires an admission that we have a problem and an urgent response. So far, we have neither.
    Reports to the minister are three years behind, even though they are required by law, and they bury the numbers for sexual assault. The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson, said it will take one to two months even to find someone to lead an investigation.
    When will the minister stop washing his hands and passing the buck to the military, take responsibility, and appoint an independent judicial inquiry?
    Mr. Speaker, during our eight years, we have always taken responsibility in this area. Any of these allegations are truly disturbing. No member of the armed forces should ever be subject to this kind of disgusting behaviour.
    The Chief of the Defence Staff is going to be conducting a study of this, an investigation into this. This government has zero tolerance for that kind of behaviour.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what is even more worrisome about the management of the allegations of sexual assault in the armed forces is the lack of leadership shown by successive Conservative defence ministers.
    The situation is even worse than we thought. The Department of National Defence is three years behind in reporting its crime statistics to Parliament. An external audit will not do.
    The minister needs to step up and stop passing the buck to the Chief of the Defence Staff. When will he appear before the committee and appoint a judicial inquiry to look into these serious allegations?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as soon as we have the reports from the Judge Advocate General, of course, we will table them.
    This has been a priority throughout our years. We have stood up for those who have been victims of sexual assault. We never got support from the NDP. If the member and her party have changed their minds, let them stand up and start supporting our efforts to protect the innocent.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives will stop at nothing to hide the impacts of climate change. After trying to muzzle scientists, now the Conservatives are saying that meteorologists at Environment Canada are not qualified to talk about climate change.
    If those who study weather patterns are not qualified to talk about climate change, then who is?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our priority is to protect the environment while keeping the economy strong. We have made significant investments to begin Canada's transition to a clean energy economy and advance our climate change objectives. We have also recently launched a national conservation plan that promotes our government's strong legacy of conservation work and includes new investments to secure ecologically sensitive lands, and conserve marine and coastal areas.
    I am very proud to be part of a government that is getting results.
    Mr. Speaker, well, if the minister followed the news on her file, she would not have been caught off guard by that question.
    Here is something else that is in the news: climate change is real. While media cannot contact most government scientists, it does have 24-hour-a-day access to meteorologists, yet draconian government rules and fear of losing their jobs puts a gag on these meteorologists. They are avoiding talking about the crucial and scientific connection between weather patterns and climate change.
    When will the Prime Minister acknowledge that climate change is real and stop muzzling scientists?
    Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely ridiculous. Unlike the other side, I have chosen not to play politics with this when it comes to protecting the environment. I regularly meet with Canadians across the country to speak to them about the priorities of our government, which are important to them as well. On the other hand, the opposition will continue to play politics with this issue.
    We will continue to meet with Canadians to discuss important issues of the environment.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-17 has the support of every party in this House. When passed, it would empower the Minister of Health to, among other things, order dangerous drugs off the market without delay and require reporting of serious adverse drug reactions.
    This bill is, without exaggeration, a matter of life and death for Canadians who may suffer serious adverse drug reactions in the coming months. The minister has stated that she is open to amendments to further strengthen the bill.
    Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs please tell us why this legislation has not yet been referred to the health committee?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to take just a moment to recognize and thank the member for Oakville for his tireless efforts on this and the obvious passion that he brings to this file.
    He is absolutely right, Bill C-17 has the support of all members of this House. Yesterday, shamefully, the NDP played partisan political games in delaying this before it could go to the health committee.
    The NDP members need to answer to those Canadians, the millions of Canadians who are waiting for this bill to be passed. They have to stop playing partisan political games and work with us to make sure this bill gets passed.
    Let me assure the member, his family, and the millions of Canadians who are relying on this that this side of the House will do everything in our power to make sure this gets passed.

[Translation]

Government Appointments

    Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives were accused of stacking Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation, or ECBC, with their friends, they got rid of former CEO John Lynn. However, that still does not explain why Mr. Lynn hired four former Conservative candidates to work at ECBC. One of the people who was hired is the former chief of staff to the current Minister of Justice.
    Will the Minister of Justice agree to appear before the parliamentary committee with John Lynn regarding the hiring of Nancy Baker?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring we have a professional, independent, non-partisan public service.
    I can confirm that Mr. Lynn's appointment as CEO of ECBC was terminated as of yesterday. As standard practice, the Government of Canada does not provide a severance when an individual's appointment is terminated with cause.
    We take action on issues of accountability. The question is, when is his party going to take action for its abuse of taxpayers' dollars in running House of Commons offices as partisan units?
    Mr. Speaker, it is good to see that the minister has finally come clean on severance for John Lynn, there will not be any. It will be interesting to see if he actually qualifies for EI.
    No severance still does not answer the question of why John Lynn got the job in the first place. How about the Minister of Justice's former chief of staff, Allan Murphy? How about Nancy Baker, who worked for the Minister of Justice before and after her sweet appointment?
    Will the Minister of Justice's friends continue to sit in their comfy positions, or will these jobs finally be open to a fair and competitive process?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. members cannot seem to take yes for an answer.
    Mr. Lynn's appointment as CEO of Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation was terminated as of yesterday. There is no severance because there was termination with cause. This is as a result of the findings of an independent investigation undertaken by the board of directors of that corporation.
    Why does the hon. member not talk to his own colleagues about accountability in repaying taxpayers' dollars that were misspent in a partisan nature?

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives have grossly mismanaged the Canada-EU trade deal. The only thing they have done well is hide the details from Canadians. They promised $280 million for Newfoundland and Labrador in compensation.
    I asked the minister some simple questions on the order paper, simple questions like What was the purpose of the money? What was it to be spent on? What conditions are on the funding? However, the President of the Treasury Board claimed cabinet secrecy, and he refused to answer the questions.
    Canadians deserve transparency when it comes to trade deals. My question is simple. What are Conservatives trying to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, our trade agreement with the European Union is a remarkable opportunity for Canadians to enjoy unprecedented market access to 500 million affluent consumers. It opens up a fish and seafood market worth $25 billion a year. It is the largest market of its kind in the world. We know that Atlantic Canadians will be major beneficiaries of these new market opportunities.
    In the meantime, our discussions with Newfoundland and Labrador to assist them in transitioning out of minimum processing requirements are ongoing.

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of International Trade yet again refuses to come clean with Canadians about CETA.
    Since the staged signing ceremony last October, details have been hidden from Canadians, and the minister's timeline for an actual deal has been a moving target. Last November he said we would have a deal in two to three months. Again in February he said he expected a deal in one or two months. Now, the U.S.-EU talks are in full swing, and the Europeans have a new Parliament.
    Given these factors, does the minister have a new CETA timeline he would like to share with the Canadian public?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we do not emphasize the speed of the deal, we emphasize the quality of the deal.
    This agreement is an historic win for Canadians. It is expected to increase bilateral trade by over 20%. It is going to increase the number of jobs in Canada alone by somewhere in the order of 80,000. It is pretty rich for the NDP members to get up in the House to talk about trade when they have never once stood in the House to support any of the trade deals Canada has signed. They have no credibility on trade.

Government Accountability

    Mr. Speaker, it is increasingly evident that the Minister of Justice in his current and previous portfolios has left a trail of incompetence wherever he goes, including the disastrous F-35 procurement, using a search-and-rescue helicopter to winch himself out of a fishing camp, the botched appointment of Justice Nadon, and the smear job on the Chief Justice, but taking the cake is his hand-picked choice of his friend to lead ECBC, now fired for hiring the minister's lackeys without competition.
    I ask the Prime Minister this: whatever happened to ministerial accountability in the government?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is a former minister. He should know that ministers are not involved in the day-to-day hiring of staff, yet the members ask each day for us to engage in that.
    This is the same member who was asked to repay expenses on the house he claimed was his own which was not his own. I assume it was a glass house. He had to repay the money a couple of years ago. We take no lessons on accountability from that member.
    The hon. member for York West—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    The Speaker: Order, please. Members of the government will be able to answer the question once the member is finished putting it. We will allow her to do so.
    The hon. member for York West.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday Conservatives heard and accepted yet another excuse for systemic sexual harassment within the RCMP and national defence, a very serious issue. This makes years of Conservative foot-dragging, and in that time, thousands in uniform have been victimized. Worse yet, only a fraction were reported and fewer still were punished.
    The men and women of our forces and the RCMP have sworn to protect us, but today they are asking for our help. If the minister is not up to the job, may I suggest that he move over and get someone else who will take over this very serious issue and deal with the men and women who are there to protect us who need our help?
    Mr. Speaker, this is coming from a party that completely ignored our military throughout its term. It was called a “decade of darkness”.
    We take any of these allegations very seriously. Our government ended house arrest for serious sexual assaults. We toughened the sentences for trafficking and importation of date-rape drugs. We brought in mandatory sentencing for sexual offences against children. All of these were opposed by the Liberal Party.
    We need no lessons from the Liberal Party. This is our priority.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have removed the requirement that the gas tax funds be used for sustainable infrastructure, one of the few remaining federal programs fighting climate change. This is at a time when the mayor of Vancouver has said we need more, not less, federal funding to deal with climate change.
    Why are the Conservatives excluding basic necessities like roads from the Building Canada fund and turning a $21 billion program for green infrastructure into one that can be used to fill potholes or build gazebos?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, the gas tax fund is totally dedicated to municipalities. The example the member gave is totally wrong. We are continuing to support the provinces and municipalities. We have signed agreements with many provinces and we hope the money will flow very quickly to the municipalities and the provinces and will continue to do so. That is the biggest plan ever made in this country, and it is because of this great Prime Minister.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives changed the eligibility criteria for the Building Canada fund without consulting the municipalities. Now, they are asking the municipalities to do more with less and forcing them to choose between green projects and basic infrastructure needs.
    Jack Layton worked hard on the federal gas tax fund in order to contribute to sustainable development.
    Will the minister make sure that the municipalities do not lose funding for green projects by restoring the eligibility criteria so that road and bridge projects once again fall under the Building Canada fund rather than the federal gas tax fund?
    Mr. Speaker, this party should not mislead people. It has voted against the country's infrastructure plans every time. People do not believe the NDP.
    The excise tax on gasoline has been in place since 2006. As a former municipal politician, I know what I am talking about. We doubled the excise tax, indexed it and made it permanent. The NDP voted against that. We will take no lessons from the NDP.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives pride themselves in cutting taxes. Indeed, our strong record of tax relief is saving the average family $3,400 a year.
    Recently the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that our government has delivered significant tax relief for Canadians. While we are focused on creating savings for Canadians, the opposition is proposing risky, high-tax schemes that will threaten jobs and set working families back.
    Could the Minister of Finance update the House on what the Parliamentary Budget Officer said?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Prince Albert for that very relevant question.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer confirms that our government reduced taxes by $30 billion last year, benefiting low and middle-income families the most. Indeed, all families have benefited from our tax reduction program, increasing net worth by 44%.
    Unlike the opposition, we believe that Canadians should keep more of their own hard-earned money, and that is why we intend to introduce even more tax relief next year when the budget is balanced. Canadians can count on that.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I met with the Chicken Farmers of Canada, and they are very concerned that the government is undermining supply management. Last year, 97 million kilograms of chicken came in from the United States. The impact is 8,900 jobs and over $600 million lost. The chicken is coming in because the Conservatives changed the rules at the border.
    Why are the Conservatives not standing up for supply management?
    Mr. Speaker, we have a very positive record working with farmers of all calibre across this great country, including the supply-managed sector. We continue to work with them on people who cheat at the border, cheese compositional standards, pizza kits, milk protein concentrates, and of course now we are working on spent fowl, issues that the Liberals never attacked when they were in government.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, the housing crisis in this country is severe, and according to a new Royal Bank report, it is only getting worse. In Toronto alone, over 90,000 families are on the waiting list for affordable housing. Thousands more are added every month. Liberals killed the national housing program and then Conservatives buried—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I am sitting right beside the member for Toronto—Danforth and I can barely hear him. I am going to ask members to come to order.
    The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.
    Mr. Speaker, Liberals killed the national housing program and then Conservatives buried it, and it is Toronto families who are paying the price.
    Will the government reject the Liberal approach, stand with the NDP, and adopt the national housing program and strategy that Canada so badly needs?
    Mr. Speaker, what Canadians do not need are more bureaucrats sitting around in Ottawa telling them what they need and how to invest.
    What we have done is provide funding for the provinces through our investment in affordable housing. Together with the provinces, together with municipalities, together with our partners, we have provided support to almost a million families and individuals.
    Every time we provide that support, New Democrats vote against it, so no, we are not interested in their strategy. We are interested in action.

  (1510)  

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the courts slammed the door closed on two convicted murderers' attempts to get rich at the expense of taxpayers. These individuals were involved in the desecration of the Canadian flag as part of the so-called prisoner justice day. They even went so far as to accuse the former minister of public safety of misfeasance for saying that the actions of these prisoners were offensive, unacceptable, and dishonourable.
    Can the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness tell the House what our government's position is on this matter?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Don Valley West, who told us that the court has slammed the door shut on those who want to abuse taxpayers' money.

[English]

    Of course we are pleased with this sensible decision made by the Ontario Superior Court yesterday. Our correctional system is about correcting criminal behaviour and rehabilitation. It should not tolerate the desecration of Canadian symbols such as the maple leaf. We will continue to put criminals behind bars.

[Translation]

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, the Zamudio family has been living in Saint-Jérôme for almost four years and will be deported to Mexico by June 25 despite receiving repeated death threats from the drug cartel.
    A claim for refugee protection on humanitarian grounds was submitted to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration last October. As the safety of the four family members is at issue, can the minister tell us whether he has made a decision or can he commit to making a decision before the Zamudio family is deported?
    Mr. Speaker, if I understood the question correctly, we are talking about Mr. Figueroa, who admitted to being a member of the Front Farabundo Martí de libération nationale. He fought against the government of El Salvador during that country's civil war. Although it is now the political party in power in El Salvador, the FMLN carried out terrorist acts when Mr. Figueroa was a member.
    Consequently, Mr. Figueroa cannot remain in Canada and he has been slapped with a deportation order. Everyone has the right to due process and Mr. Figueroa made many applications and requests for judicial review. Once all avenues—

[English]

    Order, please. The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, the week of June 4 will begin with the 25th anniversary of one of the most horrific crackdowns on democracy and human rights in recent memory at Tiananmen Square. That same week ends, June 10, with an appeal by the very courageous small first nations band on Vancouver Island, the Hupacasath First Nation, challenging the Canada–China investment treaty.
    I wonder if the Prime Minister would be willing to return the Canada–China investment treaty to hearings in this place, and particularly the very draconian 31-year lock-in if that treaty is ever ratified.
    Mr. Speaker, the member should know that we do not comment on matters that are before the courts.
     What I can say is that this investment treaty sets out a clear set of rules under which investments are made. It also sets out a clear set of rules under which investment disputes are resolved. Canadian investors have been asking for this agreement for a very long time. This is about protecting Canadians when they invest abroad. I can assure the member that this government has every intention of bringing this agreement into force.

Points of Order

Oral Questions 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, during question period, the Minister of International Trade mentioned, and we have already had to correct the Prime Minister on this, that the NDP never supported any trade deal. He will know that we supported the Jordan trade deal—
    That is a matter of debate, not a point of order.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in answer to my question, the minister mentioned a Mr. Figueroa. My question was about the Zamudio family.

[English]

    I suggest that he ask the question maybe at a different time. It is not a point of order.
    The hon. Minister of Justice is rising on what I hope is a point of order.

  (1515)  

    Mr. Speaker, I believe it is a point of order. There were several allegations levelled against me about the use of government aircraft. It is public record that I have never used government aircraft for any—
    The minister is free to answer any question in the House during question period and he can certainly table information, but that did not sound like a point of order.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-life Care Strategy

    The House resumed from May 14 consideration of the motion and of the amendment.
    Pursuant to an order made on Tuesday, May 27, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recording division on the amendment to Motion No. 456.

  (1520)  

    (The House divided on the amendment, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 148)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Angus
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Atamanenko
Aubin
Baird
Bélanger
Bennett
Benoit
Benskin
Bergen
Bevington
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Boivin
Borg
Boughen
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Braid
Brison
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chisu
Chong
Choquette
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crockatt
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dechert
Devolin
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Freeland
Freeman
Fry
Galipeau
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodale
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Jones
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kellway
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Lauzon
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
Mayes
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLeod
Menegakis
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Pacetti
Payne
Péclet
Pilon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Schellenberger
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Sgro
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Thibeault
Tilson
Toet
Toone
Tremblay
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Turmel
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 262

NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the amendment carried.
    The next question is on the main motion as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:

  (1530)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 149)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Angus
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Atamanenko
Aubin
Baird
Bélanger
Bennett
Benoit
Benskin
Bergen
Bevington
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Boivin
Borg
Boughen
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Braid
Brison
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chisu
Chong
Choquette
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crockatt
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Freeland
Freeman
Fry
Galipeau
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodale
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
James
Jones
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kellway
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Lauzon
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
Mayes
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLeod
Menegakis
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Pacetti
Payne
Péclet
Pilon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Schellenberger
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Sgro
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Thibeault
Tilson
Toet
Toone
Tremblay
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Turmel
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 264

NAYS

Members

Fortin

Total: -- 1

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

Marine Mammal Regulations

    The House resumed from May 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-555, an act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Pursuant to an order made on Tuesday, May 27, the house will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-555 under private members' business.
    The question is on the motion.

  (1540)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 150)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Angus
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Aubin
Baird
Bélanger
Bennett
Benoit
Benskin
Bergen
Bevington
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Boivin
Borg
Boughen
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Braid
Brison
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chisu
Chong
Choquette
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crockatt
Cullen
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Day
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Fortin
Freeland
Freeman
Galipeau
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodale
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
James
Jones
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Lauzon
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
Mayes
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLeod
Menegakis
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Pacetti
Payne
Péclet
Pilon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Schellenberger
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Sgro
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Thibeault
Tilson
Toet
Toone
Tremblay
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Turmel
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 258

NAYS

Members

May

Total: -- 1

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Former Canadian Forces Members Act

    The House resumed from May 16 consideration of the motion that Bill C-568, An Act respecting former Canadian Forces members, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The Speaker: Pursuant to an order made Tuesday, May 27, 2014, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion that Bill C-568, An Act respecting former Canadian Forces members, be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

  (1545)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 151)

YEAS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Atamanenko
Aubin
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Borg
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Fortin
Freeland
Freeman
Fry
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Jones
Julian
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Péclet
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Sullivan
Thibeault
Toone
Tremblay
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 118

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Benoit
Bergen
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mayes
McLeod
Menegakis
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 144

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act

     The House resumed from May 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-483, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (escorted temporary absence), be read the third time and passed.
    Pursuant to an order made on May 26, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division at the third reading stage of Bill C-483.

  (1555)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 152)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Atamanenko
Aubin
Baird
Bélanger
Bennett
Benoit
Benskin
Bergen
Bevington
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Boivin
Borg
Boughen
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Braid
Brison
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chisu
Chong
Choquette
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crockatt
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Day
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Fortin
Freeland
Freeman
Fry
Galipeau
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodale
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
James
Jones
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Lauzon
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
Mayes
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McLeod
Menegakis
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Pacetti
Payne
Péclet
Pilon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Schellenberger
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Sgro
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Thibeault
Tilson
Toet
Toone
Tremblay
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Turmel
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 260

NAYS

Members

May

Total: -- 1

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

[Translation]

Divorce Act

    The House resumed from May 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-560, An Act to amend the Divorce Act (equal parenting) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Order. Pursuant to an order made May 27, 2014, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-560 under private members' business.

  (1605)  

[English]

    (The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 153)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Albrecht
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Benoit
Boughen
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Falk
Fletcher
Galipeau
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lemieux
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
May
Mayes
Merrifield
Miller
Norlock
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Preston
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shipley
Smith
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Toet
Trost
Van Kesteren
Vellacott
Wallace
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 80

NAYS

Members

Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Atamanenko
Aubin
Baird
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Bergen
Bevington
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Boivin
Borg
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Braid
Brison
Brosseau
Calandra
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chisu
Choquette
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Day
Dechert
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fortin
Freeland
Freeman
Fry
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodale
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Groguhé
Harris (St. John's East)
Holder
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Jones
Julian
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Latendresse
Lauzon
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leef
Leitch
Leslie
Leung
Liu
MacAulay
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
McCallum
McGuinty
McLeod
Menegakis
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
Oliver
Payne
Péclet
Pilon
Poilievre
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rankin
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Shea
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Sopuck
Sorenson
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Sullivan
Thibeault
Tilson
Toone
Tremblay
Trottier
Truppe
Turmel
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
Van Loan
Warawa
Wong

Total: -- 174

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to one petition.

Certificates of Nomination

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 111.1(1), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a certificate of nomination, with biographical notes, for the proposed appointment of Daniel Therrien to the position of Privacy Commissioner. I request that the nomination be referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    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 delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the first part of the 2014 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe held in Strasbourg, France from January 27 to January 31.

Committees of the House

Industry, Science and Technology  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology in relation to the main estimates 2014-15.

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The committee advises that, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the subcommittee on private members' business met to consider the order for a second reading of the Senate public bill and recommends that the item listed herein, which has been determined should not be designated not votable, be considered by the House.
    Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Health in relation to the main estimates 2014-15.

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Opportunities for Aboriginal Persons in the Workforce”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

[Translation]

Government Operations and Estimates  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on the supplementary estimates (A) 2014-15.

[English]

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to the main estimates 2014-15.

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Main Estimates 2014-15”.

  (1610)  

[Translation]

Motor Vehicle Safety Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, there have already been too many deaths involving cyclists and heavy trucks. A simple and effective way of preventing serious injury and death is installing side guards on heavy trucks. Side guards protect pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles.
    It is quite simple: side guards save lives. That is why I am very proud to continue the work done by Olivia Chow and introduce this bill in my name today.

[English]

    There have been too many fatalities involving cyclists and heavy trucks across Canada. One of the simplest and most effective ways to save lives is to install side guards on heavy trucks. They prevent pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles.
    A few years ago, Olivia Chow first tabled this bill to make side guards mandatory. Today, it is my honour to continue her work and to table this bill, which is also my first bill in the House.

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

Petitions

Millenium Development Goals  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present today a petition signed by a number of people from various parts of the city of Regina, expressing their very strong support for the Millennium Development Goals and calling upon Canada to meet its commitment of directing 0.7% of the nation's gross national product toward official development assistance every year, and to reach that goal by 2015.

Divorce Act  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition from some 900 residents of my constituency. The undersigned citizens of Canada call on Parliament to amend the Divorce Act as in MP Maurice Vellacott's bill, Bill C-560, to require that equal parenting be treated as the rebuttable presumption in custody decisions, except in the cases of proven neglect or abuse.
    Just a reminder to hon. members to use the riding name of the member and not their actual name.
    Presenting petitions, the hon. member for Nickel Belt.

Dementia  

    Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased today to rise to present two petitions.
    One petition is calling on the Minister of Health and the House of Commons to pass my bill, Bill C-356, an act respecting a national strategy for dementia. As members know, we have an epidemic right now of seniors who have dementia, and we would like the government to take action on this unfortunate illness.

Blood and Organ Donation  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from dozens of people from the Windsor area, asking the government that people's sexual preferences not be grounds for the instant refusal of the right to donate organs.

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present. The first one calls on Parliament to refrain from making any changes to the Seeds Act or to the Plant Breeders' Rights Act through Bill C-18, an act to amend certain acts relating to agriculture and agri-food.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns the reduction of Canada Post services. It calls on the Government of Canada to reject Canada Post's plan for reduced services and to explore other options for updating the crown corporation's business plans.

Food and Drugs Act  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is calling on the House of Commons to amend the Food and Drugs Act for mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.

  (1615)  

[Translation]

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House a petition regarding the cuts to Canada Post's services.
    People in my riding are very concerned. They are worried about the negative impact these cuts will have on them. They are calling on the government to reject Canada Post's service reduction plan and explore other avenues for updating the crown corporation's business plan.
    I hope that the government will take this petition seriously, given my constituents' growing concern.

[English]

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions this afternoon. The first is from residents of Vancouver and other locations through the Lower Mainland. It calls on this place to make legislated what has been a moratorium on supertanker traffic on the British Columbia coast ever since 1972. The petitioners call for a tanker ban.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition comes from residents throughout various parts of British Columbia. They are calling on the government to provide stable, secure, and predictable funding to our national public broadcaster, the CBC.

Science  

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to present a petition signed by dozens of community members in my riding of Parkdale—High Park. They are calling on the Government of Canada to create an independent science watchdog.
    The position of national science adviser was eliminated back in 2008, but it lacked independence from the government and it had limited capacity, only to advise the prime minister. Parliamentarians need sound information and expert advice on scientific matters to ensure policy decisions are based on the best scientific evidence available. Therefore, these petitioners are calling on the government to support Bill C-558, which would establish an independent parliamentary science officer.

[Translation]

VIA Rail  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition that has been signed by dozens of people who are calling for better VIA Rail service in eastern Canada, particularly in northern New Brunswick and where I come from, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
    I would like to point out that VIA Rail has already announced that it will delay the resumption of VIA Rail services in the Gaspé, which belies the commitments the company made in the past.
    I hope that the government will put pressure on VIA Rail so that it improves service and delivers on its commitments, which would respond to the concerns set out in this petition.

[English]

Citizenship and Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in this place on behalf of the good people of Davenport in the great city of Toronto to present a couple of petitions.
    The first one is from very concerned residents, friends, and allies of Oscar Vigil, who came to Canada from El Salvador in 2001. He raised a family here. In fact, his wife and three children are now Canadian citizens. The government wants to send him back to El Salvador. The petitioners request the Government of Canada and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to grant ministerial relief to Oscar Vigil and allow him to remain with his family in Canada as a permanent resident.

Urban Workers  

    Mr. Speaker, more than half of workers in Toronto cannot access a stable, full-time job. They have part-time jobs, precarious work, and contract employment. This petition is from members of the riding of Davenport. They are calling on the government to support a national strategy for urban workers.

Consumer Protection  

    Mr. Speaker, seniors and people on fixed incomes are still getting bills in the mail for which they are charged a pay-to-pay fee to get their bill in the mail. The government said it was going to eliminate these fees, but citizens are still getting these bills with fees attached. This petition calls on the government to stop the practice of pay-to-pay fees across Canada.

Lyme Disease  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition regarding Bill C-442, the national Lyme disease strategy act, brought by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, which would develop a national strategy to ensure the recognition, timely diagnosis, and effective treatment of Lyme disease in Canada. We have a large and growing number of citizens in Thunder Bay—Superior North who have Lyme disease, and unfortunately, it is increasing with climate change.

  (1620)  

Railway Transportation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to raise attention on behalf of residents of Sault Ste. Marie, Aweres, Prince Township, Goulais River, and Hilton Beach, which are in the Conservative riding of Sault Ste. Marie. They are concerned about the subsidy removal for the Algoma Central Railway passenger rail service and the fact that there was no broad consultation; that it is impacting businesses, homes, and communities along the route; and that it is affecting their local economy, especially for small businesses. They are asking the government to reinstate funding for the Algoma passenger rail service. I have to admit that the government did put a bit of funding back, but only for one year, and these residents remain concerned about that.

[Translation]

The Senate  

    Mr. Speaker, I have here a petition signed by the people of Brome—Missisquoi. They are calling for the Senate to be abolished. This house of unelected representatives—who are not accountable to anyone, other than the party that appointed them—costs us $92 million a year.
    The petition states that senators represent no one except the party that appointed them. It must be abolished.

[English]

Blood and Organ Donation  

    Mr. Speaker, I have petitions from all over Canada calling on the Government of Canada to review thoroughly and examine the policy on blood and organ donation in Canada. The petitioners ask that the sexual preferences of people not be an instant refusal of the right to donate. They point out that they understand that people should be pre-tested for any disease prior to being qualified to donate. They understand that there may be some high-risk activities. What they object to is the automatic assumption that because of someone's sexual preference, they would be prima facie excluded from donating blood. They request that the Government of Canada return the right of any healthy Canadian to give the gift of blood, bone marrow, or other organs to those in need no matter the race, religion, or sexual preference of a person, because they believe that this right is universal to all people and is a very important right of citizenship.

[Translation]

Dementia  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to present three petitions to the House.
    The first petition is calling for a national strategy on Alzheimer's and dementia affecting seniors. This has an impact on many Canadians.

Public Transit Operators  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is aimed at putting an end to violence against bus drivers, a problem that is not going away. We hope that a solution is found soon.

[English]

The Senate  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is from residents of Vaudreuil—Soulanges, from towns such as Hudson and Saint-Lazare, who are asking that the House of Commons abolish the Senate. They are saying that it is an unelected chamber, it is unaccountable, and it has no place in our democracy.

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition entitled “The Right to Save Seeds”, sponsored by the National Farmers Union, on behalf of hundreds of residents of Toronto—Danforth.
    The petitioners call upon Parliament to refrain from making changes to the Seeds Act or the Plant Breeders' Rights Act through a bill that is currently before this House, Bill C-18. They fear that it would further restrict farmers' rights and add to farmers' costs. They ask Parliament to enshrine instead of that part of the legislation the inalienable right of farmers and other Canadians to save, reuse, select, exchange, and sell seeds.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Motions for Papers

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

  (1625)  

Request for Emergency Debate

Sexual Assault in the Canadian Armed Forces  

[S. O. 52 ]
    The Chair has received notice of request for an emergency debate. I will acknowledge the hon. member for St. John's East.
    Mr. Speaker, as was pointed out, I did give notice to the Speaker of a request for an emergency debate under Standing Order 52(2). I am seeking leave to propose an emergency debate on the alarming reports of sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces.
    There is an urgent need for an emergency debate to allow parliamentarians to address this crisis in a substantive way so that substantive action can be taken to determine the extent of the problem and much-needed steps can be taken to prevent future cases.
    I want to emphasize the fact that sometimes when emergency debates are proposed, it is suggested that there may be an opposition day on which the issue could be raised. However, there are no opposition days in the following weeks. There are none on the planned agenda of the House, and an emergency debate may well be the only occasion we will have to debate such an important and urgent issue.
    It involves a serious matter: victims of sexual assault in the military. We have seen reports that as many as 1,700 assaults per year, or five a day, take place. People in the military need to have confidence that when anything like this happens, their complaints will be taken seriously, that it will not have a negative effect on their careers if they complain, and that the perpetrators will be handled properly and appropriately. That seems to be a big problem.
    There is a potential significant loss of confidence that the current government is taking the matter seriously. We need a debate to allow members to talk about this issue and to discuss the possible ways of dealing with it.
    There is the fact that we do not have reports that are statutorily required and a whole series of serious issues that cannot be dealt with and answered properly in 35 seconds of question period. Therefore, there is a need for a substantive debate. If it does not happen by way of an emergency debate, it may not be debated until the fall.
    These are the reasons it is an emergency. The seriousness of the issue, I think, speaks for itself. We are talking about victims of sexual assault, and there are reports in the media that they are being re-victimized within the military because of improper handling of these matters.
     This is a matter that has been ongoing for some time. There were reports of it 16 years ago. We have similar reports today.
    Something serious needs to be done. We need to debate the issue here in Parliament, and an emergency debate seems to be the best method of doing that right now.

Speaker’s Ruling   

[Speaker’s Ruling ]
    I thank the hon. member for St. John's East for his interest in the subject and for his submission. We have taken the matter in hand, reviewed the proposal that the member submitted, and find that it does not actually meet the usual test or requirements that would compel an emergency debate in this case at this time, and so we will let that matter stand.
    Before we go to orders of the day, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Canada-U.S. relations; and the hon. member for Trois-Rivières, housing.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

Bill C-24—Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the second reading stage of the Bill; and
    That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

  (1630)  

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. As has been the case at other times where the House has considered these questions, we like to limit members' interventions to around a minute so that enough members will have the opportunity to participate. In addition, this is another reminder that the 30-minute question period is primarily intended for opposition members to question the government on the proposal that it has before the House.
    We will proceed with questions. The hon. opposition House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, 65 times we have had closure and time allocation. That is the deplorable record of the government. Back when Conservatives were trying to replace the former corrupt Liberal government, they said they were going to do things differently. They were not going to ram bad legislation through the House but would actually take the time to consider amendments from the opposition. We all remember that. That is what the Conservatives used to say.

[Translation]

    Now, a few years later, the government has a deplorable record: it has used closure and time allocation 65 times. The public has a number of concerns about this controversial bill, which makes it even more deplorable that the government is doing this yet again.
    The government does not want to show openness in the House. It simply wants to impose its law, regardless of the consequences. We all know what kinds of consequences these controversial bills have. The bills are so badly botched that the government is forced to introduce new bills to fix the problems. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has systematically rejected bills introduced by this government. This has happened four times in the past few weeks.
    My question for my colleague is very simple: why is the government imposing a closure and time allocation motion for the 65th time, especially on such a controversial bill?
    Mr. Speaker, we are doing it because we have a responsibility to Canadians, a responsibility to do what we promised we would do.
    This overhaul of citizenship legislation has been on our agenda for years. We promised it during the last election campaign, in various throne speeches, particularly the most recent one, and in our budgets. Now it is time for action.
    Canadians care deeply about their citizenship. They understand that it is very valuable and that problems in the existing law need to be fixed.
    The law was last updated in 1977 under Prime Minister Trudeau's Liberal government. Many problems, such as abuses and processing delays, have surfaced since then.
    If we do not take action and make this bill the law of the land, tens of thousands of permanent residents who want to become citizens will suffer. The opposition is not taking their interests into account.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have the government of the day that continues to want to use time allocation. It uses time allocation more than any other government in the history of Canada. It is abuse. It is so sad to see. We have that on the one hand.
    Then we have the official opposition, the New Democrats, who do not even want to sit in the evenings. They voted against having those extra hours so we could have more debate.
    We have legislation, such as the bill that is being proposed here, that generally needs to be debated extensively, and the government is trying to prevent that debate from taking place by bringing in closure.
    Then we have New Democrats who, even though they agree with legislation, the simplest of legislation, want to invoke and pressure government to have time allocation.
    The question I have for the government House leader is this. Why are the NDP and the Conservatives unable to sit down with the Liberals and work out a legislative timeframe that would allow for adequate debate on the important pieces of legislation that Canadians need to see legitimately debated at second reading?

  (1635)  

    Mr. Speaker, there has been abuse. There has been a problem. Under our current Citizenship Act, last amended under a Liberal government in a thorough-going way in 1977, the door was open to people who claimed residence in this country, in relatively large numbers, but whose physical presence in the country was never checked. That is the kind of abuse Liberal governments left behind them, decade after decade, and this government is moving to correct, because Canadians attach importance to their citizenship. They want to see the rules followed. New Canadians want it. Canadians who have achieved citizenship by descent want it. People aspiring to citizenship today, making the sacrifices to go through the “Discover Canada” guide and to learn our official languages to the level required, want these rules to be followed. That is what the bill would do.
    We have already had 36 hours of debate in this House. We will have many more hours of debate tonight, thanks to the willingness of this government to put its shoulder to the wheel and to work for the benefit of Canadians. That has allowed all sides of this bill to be considered. It has been pre-studied in committee. We are making progress, and we will make more tonight.
    Mr. Speaker, my constituents are shocked. They are angry. I do not know why the current government does not buy an entire warehouse of duct tape and just tape every single mouth in this House. It is ridiculous that we are actually debating something so fundamental as what citizenship is and means in a modern democratic country. It is unbelievable.
    My Liberal friend should probably check the record. It has been very clear from the beginning. We said we had no problems with working. The point is that they got into bed with the government in order to keep us from actually moving motions. How democratic is that? It is incredible.
    My question is the following. Is my hon. colleague, who I know is well intentioned and for whom I have a lot of respect, not capable of recognizing that something as fundamental as citizenship, something that concerns Canadians so much, here and abroad, should be properly discussed by this august chamber?
    Mr. Speaker, we strongly agree. It can and should be properly discussed. It has been discussed for dozens of hours. It will be discussed for further hours, this evening. It will be considered carefully in committee.
    However, there is urgency to passing these measures, which we announced years ago in speeches from the throne and in budgets and for which Canadians sent us here with a strong mandate to bring into law, to bring into effect, because for us on this side who are in government it is very clear what Canadians' expectations are.
    Last year was the biggest year ever for applications to become citizens: 330,000-plus permanent residents applied to become citizens. Our production of new citizens, of new awards of citizenship this year, has been unprecedented: 75,000 in the first three months. We are going to carry that pace forward.
    However, we cannot meet Canadians' expectations and we cannot start to bring processing times down without the measures in the bill. They are urgently needed. That is why this debate, this fulsome debate, which has carried on for 36 hours, needs to continue tonight and come to a conclusion in due course.

  (1640)  

    Mr. Speaker, Marleau and Montpetit's historical perspective on closure is that the closure rule has been the subject of scrutiny and discussion on numerous occasions. In December 1957, the new Diefenbaker government placed a notice of motion on the order paper to repeal the closure rule, but the motion was never debated. In July 1960, the government thought about giving it to committee to look at the closure procedure. Then the Liberals of the 1970s again considered the desirability of repealing the closure rule, but they did not report it on either. Basically, no action has been taken on repealing this awful measure that was used only a handful of times for half a century. There was reluctance to apply the closure rule. It only started in 1913.
    My question for the minister is simple. Does he actually believe in cutting off debate through this use of the closure tool, or like the Conservatives and Liberals of the past, would he at least consider repealing the idea of closure in debates?
    Mr. Speaker, I would correct the hon. member. This is not a closure motion; this is a time allocation motion. We are debating a measure that has been amply debated. Aspects of it were debated under different guises as private members' business, and aspects of it have been debated in different forms in previous amendments to the Citizenship Act.
    These issues are familiar to Canadians, but what would this bill accomplish? First, it would underline and reinforce the value of Canadian citizenship, which all Canadians consider incredibly important. It would speed up processing. If we get this bill passed quickly, it would benefit tens of thousands of those waiting for their citizenships to be processed. It would also honour those who served Canada and circumscribe those cases in which citizenship can be revoked for gross acts of disloyalty. These are all measures that are very popular in this country, that are very much needed, that we have amply debated in this place, and that we want to move forward with this bill.
    Mr. Speaker, this bill has been debated in committee and in the House. It is a very important piece of legislation for citizenship. I would like to ask the minister if he can tell us what he is hearing from Canadians out there about this bill.
    Mr. Speaker, we are hearing from Canadians from all walks of life, in all parts of the country, about how much importance they attach to their citizenship and how much they want to see it protected, its value enhanced, and its integrity assured—the integrity of the process that brings people to this country first as immigrants, second as permanent residents, and then allows them to become citizens in unprecedented numbers these days.
    These are the things this bill would do. It would help us to prevent the kind of fraud that, unfortunately, has prevailed in the system to a significant degree for decades, thanks to Liberal neglect. I have not heard in one single speech from the NDP, the official opposition in this place, that abuse has occurred. Many of the NDP speeches seem to be cookie cutter copies of one or the other. None of them has acknowledged the fact that there was abuse, that people have committed residency fraud in seeking to acquire citizenship in this country. New Democrats complain about the lack of debate, but they refuse to see and describe the reality as it is.
    This bill is urgently needed, and Canadians want it because it would put citizenship on firmer foundations than ever and reflect the value that Canadians attach to one of their greatest possessions.

  (1645)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question for the minister. I am sure he knows he was mistaken when he said that we had debated this bill for 36 hours. I would like to remind him that Bill C-24 was debated for just a few hours by just five members: a Liberal, a New Democrat and three Conservatives, if I remember correctly. If I am wrong about that, he can set the record straight.
    That means that only five out of 308 MPs, or just 2%, have been able to speak to this bill. That means that 2% of Canadians have been able to express their views on a very important bill about the basic tenets of Canadian citizenship.
    I would therefore like to ask the minister a simple question: what percentage of Canadians would have to have an opportunity to speak to this bill for the debate to be democratic?
    Mr. Speaker, every Canadian has the right to have a say in this debate and many did. They sent us letters and emails to share their point of view on this bill.
    The vast majority of them are in favour of the measures in this bill. We are listening to the NDP and the Liberals. If they have something new to say about this bill, then we want to hear it. However, we keep hearing the same things, the same baseless accusations and a refusal to acknowledge past abuses. If the NDP and the Liberals have anything new to add to this debate, then this evening is the time to do it because there are still a few hours of debate remaining.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to join with my colleagues in expressing extreme concern about having time allocation and limiting the amount of debate for the 65th time in the House by the Conservative government. It is a shocking disregard for democratic debate and for the very reason we are sent here, which is to voice the views of our constituents, which is to examine fully the issues before the House prior to voting on legislation, and hopefully, through the voicing of those views and through that democratic debate, to influence one or more speakers and come up with a result that is in the best interests of all Canadians.
    I want to use my question to express the views of some experts in my community of Parkdale—High Park. I am referring to the Inter-Clinic Immigration Working Group and Parkdale Community Legal Services, who offer services for the community on immigration issues. In a brief to the immigration committee they said, in their expert view:
     In the final result, the longer the residency requirement, the more people we have residing, working, and paying taxes here without the full benefit of full civic participation.
     They are especially concerned in this regard about temporary foreign workers. They are saying that prolonging the requirement prior to citizenship would weaken Canada as a nation. It would not strengthen it.
    If the minister believes so fundamentally that his government is right, that there is serious abuse, and that it would strengthen Canada as a nation, why would he oppose full democratic debate on this? Let us hear some examples. Let us hear some stories. We will present our stories. Let us get everything on the table for Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, we do agree that this legislation is urgent and that it needs to move forward. We do agree that it needs debate. We invite the opposition tonight to give us some perspectives that we have not had until now. I am not sure if the member opposite was agreeing that there has been abuse in this program in the past. I am not sure if she is agreeing that there are measures in the bill that would address that abuse, that would prevent residency fraud in the future.
    What is clear is that we can and will act for Canadians on the basis of the mandate we have, in the interests of a citizenship that serves a strong immigration program, that serves a strong Canadian economy. We need to do these things because we need to be more efficient now, not at the end of this year and not next year. We need to be more efficient in awarding citizenship to hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have earned it, who deserve it, who have applied for it, and who have qualified for it.

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wish we could be having the kind of conversation that would reflect the honesty of what is going on in this place, which would mean that I was not addressing my question through the Speaker to the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration but to the puppet masters in the various leaders' offices who have decided that the House is going through the charade of late night sittings until midnight in the absence of the kind of trust and political consensus we should have been building in this place to allow us to avoid long debates on bills on which we completely agree, such as Bill C-17, to get it to committee and not take up our time in speeches, and allow us to have the kind of debate that this particular bill really requires.
    If we had the kind of respect across the House that should be the job of all parliamentarians, we would not be sitting until midnight in a farcical exercise to prove we are working hard, because we are not going to be working smart by the end. I know what happened last June when we worked every night until midnight. Late night sittings do not advance the kind of parliamentary performance that our voters deserve.
    I do not know if my hon. colleague would agree with me, but would it not be better if the House leaders were able to work together so we could focus our time deservedly on this bill and move up the passage of the ones on which we all agree?
    Mr. Speaker, this place, this House has done some of its best work over the decades and over the centuries in these hours, the evening hours, when there is important business to do on behalf of the Canadian people.
    That is why we are here. That is why we have this mandate. That is why we are prepared to work through the night. That is why we do it without complaint and with enthusiasm.
    If we look back 100 years ago to the debate that really first gave us the concept of Canadian citizenship under a Conservative government in 1914, we see that long before there was a citizenship act, there was a naturalization act which talked about citizenship for the first time.
    We had the Hon. R. B. Bennett and Prime Minister Borden speaking to these issues. They dealt with that bill at second reading in one day. Believe me, it was fewer hours than we will have invested here in this House today.
    Mr. Speaker, when many of us first arrived in 2011, we witnessed an argument around time allocation from the government that went something like, “Well, we debated this bill in the last Parliament, so there is no point in talking about it now”.
    I do not know where the minister is getting his numbers of 30-odd hours of debate when we have only had two hours, but I will tell the House about some other numbers that the minister is not talking about. When he talks about fraud, he says that we have not acknowledged fraud in the system. That is untrue; we have acknowledged that there is some. What the minister has not acknowledged is to what degree his department is concerned about fraud.
    We have 325,000 applicants in the queue. Of those applicants, the RCMP is investigating 5,000 for potential fraud. That is—calculators out, folks—about 1.5%.
    Now, of that 1.5%, some may have committed fraud. Some may have, but can the minister tell us how many? Is this truly the focus of this incredibly important and incredibly problematic bill?
    Mr. Speaker, fortunately we do have the capacity to investigate cases of fraud already, and we do revoke citizenship when it is proven. That has been done in dozens of cases since 2011.
    As the member says, there are 3,000—not 5,000 but 3,000—RCMP investigations under way. I am not going to speculate on how many of those will lead to a conclusion that fraud actually took place. That is the RCMP's job. However, there are very important measures in this bill to prevent fraud in the future, measures to make it impossible for applicants to mislead the authorities responsible for citizenship in my department about the time they have been physically present in Canada.
     That is going to be extremely valuable for this program and for the value of citizenship. It will be welcomed by those who know this program and want to benefit from it across the country. Most of all, it will improve processing.
    For Canadians, for those who have applied for citizenship, and for those who are here as permanent residents and will apply soon, the main benefit is that processing will be faster under this act. Anyone who delays the passage of this bill is actually disenfranchising many tens of thousands who urgently want that citizenship.

  (1655)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is very hard to sit here and listen to some of the rhetoric I have heard today.
    We have a minister who says we have spent 30-plus hours debating a bill that this House has only studied or spoken on for two hours, and even though it has some of the elements of a bill that was previously debated, this bill has many other elements in it.
    We have a minister who, instead of having a detailed and thorough debate on something as substantial as taking away somebody's citizenship, is putting more and more power into the hands of ministers, allowing them to become despotic and taking us away from parliamentary democracy.
    What we have right now is a government that is using closure or time allocation for the 65th time. After only two hours of discussion on something that is going to fundamentally change what it means to be a citizen in this country, the government has the audacity to say it is now moving time allocation on this issue.
    My question for the minister is this: where on earth did he get 30-plus hours of debate on this bill?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite speaks in very alarming terms about despotism. I will tell the House what despotism is. It is any government, any parliament that refuses to take action when laws and rules are broken.
    That way lies anarchy. That way lies poor service. That way lies an undermining of the rule of law, and in this bill we are determined to move against just those trends.
    It is astonishing that critics, experienced members of Parliament on the other side, would refuse to acknowledge the basic benefits that the bill would bring by allowing us both to take action against fraud in the system and to process applications faster.
    In my time in this House, I have not heard that member once acknowledge that there was abuse in the system, that there was residency fraud. She would do well, for the sake of her credibility—
    Questions. The hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.
    Mr. Speaker, we need an element of decision-based evidence-making, and the bill is really a classic example of a solution in search of a problem.
    Everybody knows that in any system there is some degree of manipulation and even some fraud, but the bill goes far beyond dealing with that: it makes it harder for someone to acquire citizenship. It increases residency requirements from three years to four years, it fails to count any time spent as a permanent resident, it increases the language requirements and now forces 15-year-olds and 64-year-olds to demonstrate proficiency in English where they did not have to before, and it triples the application fee. Those are the measures the government has taken. They have nothing to do with attacks on fraud.
    The minister talked about fraud. I would like to know exactly what the data is behind the government's move to increase residency requirements. How many people in this country does he think have obtained their citizenship by residency fraud? Let him give us an idea of the scope of the problem to see if this is truly a case of a hammer smashing a pea.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member demonstrates his lack of understanding of the bill in what he just said. He said that time as a permanent resident would not count toward citizenship, but that is exactly what would count under the bill.
    The bill says that time when an individual is not a permanent resident would no longer count. It is much clearer to have one rule for all categories of permanent residents and to make it absolutely crystal clear what Canada expects, what Canadians expect, and what new Canadians who have become citizens expect from those who aspire to Canadian citizenship, which is that they reside here for four years out of six.
    How many cases of fraud are there? We do not know. The RCMP is investigating 3,000. We have revoked citizenship for fraudulent acquisition thereof in dozens of cases in the last three years. We hope to get to the bottom of hundreds of cases in the months and years to come.
    However, what is absolutely clear from the bill is that with the exit-entry records, we will be able to check in the future. With the new measures in the bill, residency fraud will become a thing of the past. All members should welcome that.

  (1700)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister that Bill C-24 is not on solid constitutional footing. It could run into challenges regarding section 15, in particular, and section 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Does he realize that?
    Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the legal advice and review that the government requested concerning this bill. The chances of a constitutional challenge to this bill are low. In fact, it was assessed to be a slight risk.
    We are confident that it is reasonable to insist that those who want to become Canadian citizens express their intention to do so. This will never undermine their right to free mobility or their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It makes complete sense, when requiring that permanent residents spend a certain number of years here, to ask the people if they intend to reside in Canada.

[English]

    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

[Translation]

    The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.
     Some hon. members: No.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
     Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): All those in favour of the motion will please say nay.
     Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:

  (1740)  

[English]

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 154)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Benoit
Bergen
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Falk
Fantino
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mayes
McLeod
Menegakis
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 143

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Aubin
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Caron
Casey
Cash
Chisholm
Choquette
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Fortin
Freeland
Freeman
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Jones
Julian
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Latendresse
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Péclet
Pilon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Sullivan
Thibeault
Toone
Tremblay
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 113

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings on the time allocation motion government, orders will be extended by 30 minutes.
    It being 5:44 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

  (1745)  

[Translation]

Dairy Producers

    That, in the opinion of the House, the government should respect its promise to dairy and cheese producers of Quebec and Canada who will be affected by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, by: (a) revealing details without delay related to the compensation that will be paid; (b) providing for an implementation period for the agreement that is as long as possible; (c) putting an end to the circumvention of tariff quotas and the misclassification of products at the border; (d) maintaining high quality standards by imposing the same production and processing requirements on imported products; and (e) committing to provide support for commercialization.
    She said: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques for seconding my motion.
    I am proud to rise in the House today to move Motion No. 496 in support of dairy and cheese producers.
    My motion has already received the support of the Fédération de la relève agricole du Québec, the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Producteurs de lait du Québec, the Association des artisans fromagers, the UPA, the Solidarité rurale du Québec and the Association des transporteurs de lait du Québec.
    My motion calls on the government to keep its promise to producers who will be affected by the results of the negotiations for the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe.
    Over the past few months, I have met with many stakeholders in the agricultural industry, particularly those in the dairy and cheese sector. They could not believe what happened when the agreement in principle was signed. Having followed the negotiations in the media, I never would have imagined such an outcome.
    The Conservatives negotiated this trade agreement in secret, favouring certain sectors at the expense of dairy and cheese producers. The NDP is open to trade agreements, but we would never turn our backs on the dairy and cheese sector.
    The Union des producteurs agricoles supports my motion and, like me, it was very surprised by the agreement in principle that was negotiated. The UPA's senior vice-president, Pierre Lemieux, had this to say:
    People are being kept in the dark. We do not know what kind of help we are going to get. We are being kept in the dark.
    It is true. Producers did not know that their industry was going to be sacrificed in October and, today, they still do not know what they can expect to get in the way of compensation.
    This year is the International Year of Family Farming. The time has come not only to move forward and foster a dialogue on the future of our farms but also to recognize the hard work that is done by our producers and farmers.
    In supporting my motion, the government will be taking a step in the right direction. My motion responds to calls by dairy producers across the country. Their requests are quite reasonable and justified. The government promised compensation. Now it just has to unveil the details of that promise.
    Dairy producers have faith in their supply management system. The system costs nothing, absolutely nothing, to the government and the producers are not receiving any subsidies. The producers would like to have a compensation structure that would protect the supply management system.
    In Canada, our dairy and cheese industry is thriving. We have reason to be very proud of its success these past few years and the quality and diversity of its products.
    Who here in this room does not enjoy our Canadian cheese? Canada produces more than 1,050 types of cheese, which are listed in the Canadian Cheese Directory. We produce 133,200 tonnes of specialty cheeses.
    Quebec has always been a leader in cheese production in North America. At the end of the 19th century, the first cheese school in North America was established in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska. Since 1893, the École de laiterie de Saint-Hyacinthe, now known as the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire, has been working on improving cheese technologies and production while conducting research in chemistry, bacteriology and nutrition.
     In the 1980s, a return to the land and traditional values breathed new life into the production of fine cheeses. The arrival in Quebec of a Swiss craftsman-cheesemonger, Fritz Kaiser, sparked the passion of Quebec producers for traditional European cheeses. Many focus on manufacturing speciality cheeses, and their products are starting to win prizes in international competitions.
     In the 1990s, micro cheese-makers started offering a wide variety of artisanal cheese throughout the different regions of Quebec, including several raw-milk cheeses.
    Today, the producers are enjoying the fruit of those efforts because the fine cheeses of Quebec offer consumers recognized quality and remarkable diversity.

  (1750)  

    More than one Canadian cheese has won an award at international competitions, such as the World Championship Cheese Contest, which is held in Wisconsin. The Canadian Cheese Grand Prix, a biannual competition held by Dairy Farmers of Canada, showcases the richness and quality of Canadian cheeses.
    The Fromagerie Domaine Féodal, in Berthierville, in my riding, won third place at the American Cheese Society competition in 2011, and first place at the British Empire Cheese Show. Guy Dessureault and Lise Mercier, from Domaine Féodal, make exceptional products. I presented my motion during a press conference at their cheese factory last week. I visited their facilities and had the opportunity to taste their delicious cheeses. I want to sincerely thank them for their warm welcome and their support.
    One of their best-known cheeses is the Guillaume Tell, a soft cheese steeped in ice cider. They told me that they invested more than $179,000 in creating this cheese. That does not include the time that Lise and Guy put into this effort.
    We must recognize that cheese producers invest a lot of time and money in their businesses. They have worked very hard to create their products and market them, as well as to develop the fine cheese market. They are so very disappointed that European cheeses are going to be invading their market. For each European cheese that enters the grocery store, one of our own cheeses will lose its place on the shelves.
    My motion will ensure that our cheese producers will have the support they need to compete with European cheeses. Guy effectively summed up the sector's demands as follows: “I want us to be able to earn a living and be smart about it”. It is as simple as that.
    We must understand that under the agreement in principle, the European Union will have greater access to the Canadian cheese market, which is supply managed. That directly undercuts one of the pillars of supply management, the control of imports, and jeopardizes the effectiveness of the system. This potential agreement is detrimental to Canada's dairy producers. In fact, it would deprive Canadian dairy producers and their communities of some of their revenue, to the benefit of the European industry. The economic development of communities and any associated jobs would be affected.
    Marcel Groleau, president of the Union des producteurs agricoles points out that “cheese factories that were planning investments will reconsider. They are going to be cautious and wait to see the repercussions of the agreement”.
    That is just one consequence of this agreement, and it must not be minimized. It is vital to continue supporting this industry, which, at the same time, supports the survival of our farms and farm labour. Producers reinvest in their farms and support local suppliers and businesses, which contributes to the Canadian economy as a whole.
    Claire Bolduc, from Solidarité rurale du Québec, supported my motion. She raised two important points: this agreement undermines the supply management system and creates a dangerous precedent for future free trade negotiations. The government is talking out of both sides of its mouth when it says that it protects supply management while weakening one of its pillars.
    She also explained how the sale of European cheeses in Canada will affect our communities. Thousands of our cheese factories across the country create jobs, wealth and diversity in our communities. She noted that if we do not do something, an entire industry and the pride of the rural economy will be at risk. She is right. Our families, our communities, the use of our land, our services and our identity will be at risk. We must give our cheese and dairy producers the tools they need to remain competitive and mitigate the adverse effects of the agreement.
    The Conservatives promised to support supply management, but the conclusion of negotiations with Europe has undermined it. They then wanted to calm things down by promising to compensate producers. It is now time to provide the details. That is what I am asking them to do today with my motion.
    The dairy market is one of the most unstable in the world. Canada is lucky to have a stable, reliable dairy market thanks to its dynamic supply management system, a system that has proven its worth. This stability enables farmers to reinvest in their farms and to earn a living from the market without relying on government support.

  (1755)  

    Supply management is not a subsidy. Canada's dairy producers get no help from the government. However, in Europe, producers get state subsidies that can be as high as 60%. Our dairy producers are not on a level playing field with European producers.
    Increased access to 17,700 tonnes of European cheese in Canadian markets will have significant repercussions. Canada's milk output will fall. Subsidized European cheese entering the market will compete with Canadian cheese. There will be increased competition between Canadian cheese and artisan cheese. Some of the growth in the market, which dairy producers have been investing in for a long time, will be lost.
    Granting European cheese greater access to our market will not benefit producers, communities or the regions, particularly not when Europe already accounts for a significant proportion of the Canadian cheese market.
    The tariff rate quota already allows for the importation of 20,412 tonnes of cheese duty-free. Two-thirds of the tariff rate quote are allocated to the European Union. This concession in the agreement will have no impact on retail prices because the vast majority of European cheese already enters Canada duty-free.
    The NDP will support an agreement with Europe that is in Canada's best interests, an agreement that enables us to increase our exports and our opportunities to do business without compromising our government's ability to protect Canadians' interests and to protect the public.
    We are nevertheless concerned about the potential impact of the agreement on the dairy and cheese industry in Quebec and Canada. That is why I am asking the government to keep its promise to dairy producers and the cheese industry in Quebec and the rest of Canada, which will be affected by the economic and trade agreement.
    My motion would mitigate the impact of the agreement on the dairy and cheese industry and support Canada's supply management system, which ensures stable, fair pricing.
    The NDP supports producers. We want the government to walk the talk and protect Canada and its dairy and cheese industry. The government must not harm our flourishing cheese industry. If it does, it will lose the industry's contribution to local economies.
    I am ready to answer my colleagues' questions.
    I would like to hear how she came up with those numbers. She said that this will provide market access to 500 million new European consumers and bring an additional 17,700 tonnes into Canada, so how did she calculate the producers' losses? I would also like to hear her thoughts on the importance of the time period that will allow cheese producers and dairy processors to adapt to this new reality. How many years would be enough to make the time period fair for everyone?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his question.
    I did not pull my motion out of thin air. It is based on consultations with industry representatives. The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food also conducted a study.
    Canada's milk producers have estimated their industry's losses at $450 million a year. That is not exactly a bright future for the industry. That is why the motion also includes an implementation period of 10 years, the longest period possible. The industry made that request so that it can adapt to the changes. It is important to have a longer, 10-year implementation period, as the industry has requested.

  (1800)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have recognized the value of supply management and the important role that it plays in certain industries. One only needs to look at our dairy industry in terms of the quality of product, the lifestyle of farmers, and the positive impacts overall. Supply management has seen Canadians benefit immensely.
    One of the concerns in regard to the European trade agreement is the idea of protecting supply management. Could the member go beyond the motion and comment on the lack of faith or trust in the government with respect to supply management and the profound negative impact it would have if the government were to start targeting that issue?
    Mr. Speaker, this agreement in principle sets almost a precedent for negotiating future contracts with other countries. It is a big hit that the industry was not expecting. Supply management ensures supply and demand. It is a control that means that farmers know what to expect and that they will have good revenue, especially now that we are seeing a need for la relève agricole. We have an aging population. These dairy farms are big business. They are looking to plan for the future, so without an idea of what the compensation package is and with this deal in principle, it is hard to plan for the future.
    Those are the comments I am hearing in my discussions with people. They are nervous. They do not have very much confidence. Even today in question period, a question was asked by one of the member's colleagues about compensation. We need to restore the confidence that Canadians should have in the government. It is a step in the right direction to get more information to be able to plan for our future. That is all it is.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Motion No. 496. Every day, the innovative dairy producers of Canada put safe and nutritious foods on our tables, while creating jobs and adding value to our economy in rural and urban areas of Canada.
    The industry makes an important contribution to our economy with nearly $22 billion in both farm gate and processor sales. That has created thousands of jobs for Canadians.
    This economic success is due in large part to our hard-working farm families and Canada's supply management system.
    This system has served Canadian farmers, processors and consumers well over the years, which is why our government continues to support it.
    At the same time, we are pursuing the most ambitious trade agenda in Canadian history. Canadian farmers depend on export markets to remain competitive and stimulate economic growth across the country. Our government and our farmers know that Canada's balanced trade position is working.
    Over the past six years, we have concluded free trade agreements with 10 countries; announced an agreement in principle on a free trade agreement between Canada and the 28 countries of the European Union; and concluded negotiations with South Korea, Canada's first commercial presence on Asian soil. We are also in the process of negotiating agreements with nearly 30 countries.
    This work is paying off for our economy. Last year was the best export year on record for the agriculture and food industry in Canada, with over $50 billion in trade activities for the first time in our country's history.
    From dairy products to poultry, livestock to oilseeds, our government will continue to support a strong agricultural industry in Canada because our economy and our well-being depend on it.
    As members know, our government recently reached an agreement in principle with the European Union on a new free trade agreement. It is the most comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement since NAFTA.
    With the Canada-EU trade agreement and NAFTA, Canada will be one of the few countries in the world with preferential access to the two largest world economies, which represent nearly 800 million of the wealthiest consumers in the world.
    In total, the Canada-EU trade agreement should generate $1.5 billion in earnings a year for Canada's agricultural sector. Canadian producers will have preferential access to the biggest and most lucrative market in the world.
    Let me repeat: the Canada-EU trade agreement will retain the three main pillars of supply management—production, import limits and pricing.
    In every trade agreement it has signed, our government has clearly indicated to its trade partners that it supports and protects its supply management system, and it will continue to do so.
    We are working in the best interests of Canadians and farmers. The government will strongly defend the interests of supply managed sectors in all of its international trade negotiations.
    That is why we are pleased to support this motion. I want to point out that we have already taken measures that address some of the key aspects of the motion.

  (1805)  

[English]

    The first part of the motion relates to compensation for the industry for losses incurred as a result of the increased access for cheese under the Canada EU free trade agreement. As publicly stated by the Prime Minister, our government is fully committed to monitoring the impact from the implementation of the agreement and, if needed, to provide compensation should a negative impact be realized.
    We have been consulting with industry stakeholders on this issue over the past five months, and we are continuing to do so. This includes provincial dairy producer and processor associations, as well as individual cheeses processors, provincial governments, cheese importers and downstream stakeholders.
    With respect to the urgency expressed in the motion, we are very focused on this issue and expect to have more details in the future.
    As the motion states, the government has every intention of respecting its promise to dairy farmers that are affected by the trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. Our goal is to develop an approach that will effectively address impacts and ensure we can effectively monitor the impacts as the agreement is implemented.
    Regarding the motion's second point on the implementation period, Canada continues to press for the longest implementation period possible for the Canadian cheese tariff rate quota to help to mitigate as much as possible the potential impact on Canadian dairy and cheese producers.
    Regarding the third point on tightening up of controls at the border, we fully recognize that import controls are important to maintain the integrity of the supply management system. We are committed to ensuring that importers play by the rules.
    For example, late last year we took action to address a loophole regarding the importation of cheese through pizza topping kits. We clarified the rules to ensure that for this category of products there would be consistent application at the border. This measure has been very effective.
    A recent global agricultural information network report from the USDA on the impact of trade action on pizza topping kits showed $5.5 million worth of pizza kits entering Canada per month from the U.S. in 2013. That amount rapidly fell to $1 million per month after we closed the loophole.
    In addition, it is important to note that the Canada-EU trade agreement in principle underscores our government's commitment to ensuring that our border controls are doing their job.
    Regarding the fourth point on production standards of imported goods, the government has already acted to ensure that imports into Canada meet our high quality standards. All food sold in Canada is subject to the Food and Drugs Act, whether it is imported or produced locally. In addition, dairy products imported into Canada are required to meet the dairy products regulations.
     While food production and processing requirements may not be exactly the same across foreign jurisdictions, Canada recognizes that the food safety systems of our major trading partners, such as the European Union, have equivalent food safety outcomes.
    This system of recognizing equivalency allows goods to be imported into Canada, provided that the goods continue to meet Canadian food safety standards and regulatory requirements. Of course, it allows our products to be exported.
    A year and a half ago, we passed a Safe Food for Canadians Act. Under this landmark legislation, we are proposing regulations that promote equivalency in food safety outcomes for domestic, imported and exported food products.
    Finally, Motion No. 496 calls on the government to provide support for commercialization of innovative dairy products. We are already addressing this through our $3 billion, 5-year Growing Forward framework.
    Growing Forward 2 is helping Canada's dairy industry capture new markets through a number of key initiatives, including the $12 million dairy research cluster, which almost doubles our previous investment under Growing Forward 1, focusing on milk's human nutrition and health benefits, sustainable milk production and genetic improvement, and investments of close to $1 million to help Canadian dairy farmers meet consumer demands for traceability, animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and food safety and quality.
    My message today is this. Our government has always been, and continues to be, committed to keeping the Canadian supply management sector strong and profitable. Our long-standing support for supply management has not changed. We will continue to promote a balanced trade agenda for all sectors of our economy, to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
    We will continue to drive innovation and growth through our investments under Growing Forward 2 because, as we all know, a strong agriculture industry means a strong economy.
    Our government puts farmers first, and we are pleased to support the motion.

  (1810)  

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal Party, it is with pleasure that I rise to speak in support of the motion. We see the merit in having a vote on this very important issue.
    A number of weeks ago I had the opportunity, just out outside of Winnipeg and literally minutes away from my own home, to take a tour of a dairy farm. At this farm, milk production was under the supply management system.
    When we have the opportunity to take tours of this nature, it gives us a better appreciation of just how important supply management is and the systems on which our farmers are very dependent. They can be so very effective for all of us.
    As I put forward in a question, Canada has an excellent, world-class, quality product through supply management. It may be cheeses, milk or other agricultural products. At the same time, we can ensure that the farmer receives a decent return for the service being provided and that we have enough of that product for consumers from coast to coast to coast.
    I listened to the government representative, and there are a few points I would like to try to address in my limited time on this important issue. One of them deals specifically with the idea that the government says “trust us”, and that we do not have anything to worry about because it will be supportive of our cheese manufacturers, our dairy industry, and supply management as a whole.
    I have a difficult time trusting the Conservative government on the issue. It was not that long ago, for example, when a Conservative government felt that the Canadian Wheat Board had a valuable role to play in the Prairies. In certain situations, the government said that to the grain farmers. It said “trust us”, that it believed in the Wheat Board and would never get rid of it”.
    Mr. Pierre Lemieux: Look at the record harvest. What a good harvest we had this year.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, that has nothing to with the record harvest. It has everything to do with this whole “trust us” attitude that the government proclaims to the farmers. Its actions do not reflect what it asks Canadians to do, which is to trust it.
    Now we have the very important issue of supply management. We know the government has been soft at best in affirming strong support toward supply management.
    When we look at what has taken place with the comprehensive economic trade agreement in principle between Canada and the European Union, some red flags and concerns have been raised regarding certain industries in Canada. One of those industries, specifically, is the cheese industry.
     The Liberal Party as a whole has been exceptionally supportive of freer trade and the idea of free trade agreements. However, at the same time, it has been encouraging and calling on the government to be more transparent in exactly what it is saying abroad. What is the government attempting to negotiate? To what degree is it putting our farmers at risk? Canadians have these concerns.
    I am pleased to hear that the government seems to want to support the motion, and that is a good thing. The problem is that it would not be the first time the government has voted in favour of a motion and then, months later, seems to contradict it. All we have to do is take a look at the fair elections act to exemplify that.
    I am grateful that at the moment the government members seem to be somewhat supportive of supply management.

  (1815)  

    However, I am an optimist. I believe there might be hope at the end of the day for the Conservatives in making that solid commitment to supply management. I would like to hear that commitment more often. I say that because I am genuinely concerned about industries, not only in my home province of Manitoba, but, as pointed out in the motion, the province of Quebec and in fact all over Canada as well. There has been an immense benefit.
    It was interesting what we heard about the agreement between Canada and the European Union, and it is important that we realize it is far from being complete. I suspect there might come a day when we will achieve that free trade agreement with the European Union. Hopefully, if things go well over the next couple of years, it could be a Liberal administration signing off on it. In that situation, supply management would be well taken care of.
    Members over there are a little sensitive on this issue. Maybe they see the writing on the wall.
    However, it is not only the Liberal Party that has raised the issue of ensuring that people are aware of the ramifications. Some interesting points were raised by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. We need to have more discussion on this. European Union access will total 31,971 tonnes, or 7.5% of the Canadian cheese market.
    I am very proud of a local company we have in Manitoba, Bothwell Cheese. The company came into being in 1936. The member for Provencher gave me the thumbs up. He is very familiar with Bothwell Cheese. If one lives in Manitoba, one has to be proud of that company. It is the best cheese in the world. In fact, I think it is their marble cheddar cheese that we could honestly say is the best product in the world. We are very proud of that fact. Our cheese manufacturers can excel, not only in Canada but also abroad.
    However, many cheese companies still are concerned about the percentage of cheese and want to maintain as much as possible the percentage of the current market in Canada. Total imports will reach 38,171 tonnes, or about 9% of the current Canadian consumption. It is a significant increase. How is the government responding to this issue? There are a number of issues that have to be taken into consideration when we start to talk about these kinds of numbers. We are talking about jobs, quality of life for farmers and quality of product ultimately.
    We can look at the financial compensation. There are all sorts of hidden tariffs out there. We need to get a better sense of what the government is talking about when it is sitting at those trade negotiations. When we start talking about these kinds of numbers, we really need more transparency. We want the government to be more transparent in what we hear from the European trade negotiations, discussions and so forth.
    There is serious concern from our dairy farmers with the equivalent of farm quota cuts. There are serious concerns about the fine cheese market in Canada and the rationalization that will have to take place with our dairy herds.

  (1820)  

    So much can be said about this important issue.
    The Liberal Party supports the motion. We are concerned about the government's lack of a solid commitment to supply management. We want more transparency on the issue of negotiations.
    Mr. Speaker, it is always great to rise in this place, but it is even better when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture is fully supportive of the motion my colleague has introduced. This is a good day. I am not sure about the chair of the agriculture committee, because we still have to hear from him. A little bird whispered in my ear that perhaps he may say complimentary things as well. We await his remarks and anticipate that he also will endorse the motion, because it is a good one.
    There are multiple reasons for the motion, but one of the most important is to let cheese producers and dairy farmers across this country know that we understand what the impact of CETA would mean for them. Mr. Wally Smith, the president of Dairy Farmers of Canada, said that for dairy farmers, the impact would be about 2.25% of quota. Those of us who understand the supply system know what quota means. For folks who are listening to us today who are not dairy farmers, that translates to $60,000 in lost potential income for each dairy farmer across this country. That is a significant amount of money, and it is troubling to them. That is what today's motion is meant to address. It is to get the government to recognize that it needs a timeline that would allow for the adjustment.
    The motion proposes a couple of other things.
    My colleagues have pointed to investments in cheese production across this country. Some of that investment has happened in the Niagara region. A new cheese producer opened up in the Niagara region a number of years ago. All members would say that cheese producers in their regions are the best, and of course they are. Why would they not be? If people want to find fine cheese, they should come to Niagara. They could also enjoy the finest wine this country has to offer. Not only that, but the finest ice wine in the world can also be found in the Niagara region, and some great cheese could be purchased to go along with that. I would highly recommend that all of my colleagues come to Niagara, sample the cheese, and have a bottle of wine while they are at it. If they come in September, they would be there when we have the Niagara Wine Festival. There would be cheese, of course. This would support local dairy producers, because cheese producers buy milk from local producers.
    As my friends across the way on the agriculture committee know, that is why the system works as well as it does. It is not just the three pillars. It is about those producers knowing they have a source of income and spending it within their regions. They buy all the inputs they need for their farms locally, whether that be insurance products or a number of different services, which holds that economy together.
    As many of us in the agricultural field know, lenders love dairy farmers. Why is that? It is because they know that dairy farmers have a steady stream of income. They do not worry about whether the commodity market is up one day for soy beans, or this way for canola, and that way for wheat. They understand that in the supply managed system for dairy, dairy farmers have a predictable income stream. Lenders lend money to them because they know they are going to be repaid. They are not taking the same sort of risks they do with others. Perhaps there are other alternatives for farmers in riskier areas. Lenders tell me and my colleagues when we tour this country that it is great for them, because they have a solid foundation in their financial institutions when they provide commercial loans to dairy farmers.
    Dairy farmers have the sense that this is a one-way street. We are waiting for details on CETA. We are constantly asking the government to share more information than what it has to date. We continue to ask for that, because one can only make a reasonable decision when one has the details.

  (1825)  

    We heard today during question period the Minister of International Trade say, “Stay tuned”. We have heard that a couple of times. It reminds me of an old advert, but that would give away how old I am.
    The government is saying that dairy farmers and cheese producers could enter that market. There are cheeses from Canada in the market now in the EU. We cannot sell them for less than we sell them here under the supply system, so that makes them, at a certain price, not necessarily competitive. However, one of the biggest impediments for our cheese makers over there are geographical indications, or what is known as GI.
    The Europeans have a fondness for geographical indications, which we do not have to the same degree. We do not express ourselves, when it comes to food, with geographical indications. We may know that those are Quebec cheeses, but we do not trademark them or label them the way Europeans do. Foods like feta can only come from feta. Therefore, if that becomes one of the geographical indications, we cannot actually make feta here. We would have to call it something else.
    That is exactly what happened to champagne in Niagara. We made champagne in Niagara for decades, and by all accounts, internationally we did extremely well and it was a great product, but the geographical indication for Champagne from France won at the end of the day in a trade ruling. We no longer have champagne in Niagara. We have champagne, but is now called Brut. If it is Brut, we know we are buying champagne from Niagara.
    I give full marks to the winemakers in Niagara for making sure that it is marketed in such a way that they did not actually lose any of the domestic market, but people have to hunt to know that it is champagne, and that is the danger of geographical indications to the cheese industry in Canada. We do not have that. That perhaps rules us out of entering some of those markets in the EU where there may be a GI that will be an impediment to us. It is a trade impediment by another name.
    I will refer to my notes from Mr. Wally Smith when he was testifying before the agricultural committee a little while ago. He said that there has been a huge investment over the last 10 years, to the tune of about $30 million, by the dairy industry and the cheese producers, which have been expanding and building the market. Canadians have come to know that Canadian homemade cheese is a great product and they are looking to get hold of that product, and they have been able to expand over a period of time. There are many artisanal cheese makers. They tend to be small. We obviously have some big ones as well, but the vast majority are smaller ones.
    However, they are taking a fairly substantial risk, because they make a large investment to actually start this up. How do they plan now as we go forward? How do they reinvest in what they want to do if they are not sure what the timelines are, because if the timeline is too short, perhaps they will not get off the ground and market their product in time to go forward.
    That would be a real shame, because this is an industry that reminds me of the wine industry in my home area. When I was a bit younger, a few decades ago, the wine industry in Canada was seen as not really a wine industry. It was not regarded as being very good. Now it is regarded throughout the world as being on par with the best in the world and exceeds the best in the world by winning gold medals.
    Our cheese industry is at the point where it is ready to make that breakthrough. I hope the Conservatives will support the motion. They say they wish to help. It would ensure that for the cheese producers who are now maturing into world-class cheese producers, that actually happens.

  (1830)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in this House today and support Motion No. 496. I also want to thank my colleague from the NDP, who is vice-chair of the agriculture committee, for putting this motion forward.
    The purpose of the motion is to support the action our government has already taken in terms of initiatives for supply management and the EU CETA agreement. Why? It is because the motion calls on our government to respect its promise to Canadian dairy and cheese producers who may be negatively affected by the Canada-European free trade agreement. This is a position we wholeheartedly support.
     We have been consulting with the industry on this issue over the past number of months, and we continue to do so. This includes the provincial dairy producers and processors, associations, individual cheese processors, provincial governments, importers, and downstream stakeholders.
    As stated by the Prime Minister, our government has fully committed to monitoring the potential impact of the implementation of CETA, and if needed, to providing compensation should a negative impact be observed. Our government continues to put the best interests of farmers first in every decision we make on agriculture. Especially in our rural areas, we recognize the value of Canada's dairy industry and its contribution to the economy and to the well-being of all Canadians.
    We have nutritious milk, great cheeses, yoghurts, and ice cream. These are the hallmarks of our highly innovative, highly dedicated dairy industry. From the farm gate to urban centres, when Canadians shop at their local grocers, they do not have to wonder where their milk comes from. They know that it is brought to them by the farmers of Canada. They know they can count on the consistent quality they have come to expect from our dairy farmers and the processing industry.
    As members know, the industry is an important contributor to our economy with close to $22 billion in both farm-gate and processing revenues. It provides thousands of jobs for Canadians and a continuous supply of high-quality dairy products for our consumers. That is why we are proud to stand in support of Canada's dairy sector.
    Our government has backed up this commitment with concrete measures. We have doubled our investment in the dairy research cluster under Growing Forward 2. We are helping to build a world-class traceability system for livestock. We are also promoting science and rules-based trade to open, and in fact, re-open markets around the world for our world-class dairy genetics. Furthermore, we continue to support supply management, because it has served Canadian farmers, processors, and consumers well over the years.
    Supply management is supported by the vast majority of our producers, because it provides them with the opportunity to receive fair and stable returns on their labour and investments. It also provides consumers with a steady supply of high-quality products at predictable and stable prices, and it has done that for over 40 years. It is easy to support an industry that is so committed to innovation, new technology, and the delivery of the highest quality dairy products to Canadians.
    We have come a long way, but we will strengthen and expand the agricultural sector even further. That is why we are pursuing the most aggressive trade strategy in our nation's history. Our farmers depend on export markets to grow, and our government has demonstrated that we will unlock new opportunities while continuing to support supply management. In fact, in every trade agreement we have reached, our government has been very clear with our international partners that we support and will protect Canada's supply management system. For example, we have concluded a number of ambitious trade agreements, not only CETA but agreements with Peru, Colombia, and most recently, South Korea. We did that while keeping supply management intact.

  (1835)  

    We are pursuing ambitious new agreements with 30-some other trade partners because Canada's export sectors need global markets to grow, to create jobs, and to make this great country stronger still. Be confident that, throughout these negotiations, we remain committed to protecting the interests of all sectors of our Canadian economy.
     Canadians appreciate our dedication to our dairy farmers, who are also committed to ensuring that the highest quality of milk and milk-based products reach the grocery store shelves. Our government is committed to keeping this sector strong and profitable by helping our producers stay on the cutting edge.
    Allow me just to share a couple of examples.
     In 2013 the hon. Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced that our government has almost doubled our investment in dairy research clusters to $12 million under Growing Forward 2.
    In March we announced two investments under the agrimarketing program, which came close to $1 million.
     The first investment of $529,000 supports the implementation of the proAction initiative, and this national assurance program for dairy production reinforces the industry's commitment to consumers to provide high-quality, safe Canadian milk and dairy products. This includes on-farm pilot testing of assessment tools and producer training. The six programs under the proAction initiative include milk quality, food safety, livestock traceability, animal care, biosecurity, and environmental protection.
    The second investment of $416,000 supports a national traceability program and updating traceability standards for milk producers. This will help Dairy Farmers of Canada to train and assist provincial associations toward program implementation at the producer level; so it is a trickle-down.
    Motion No. 496 calls for support for commercialization.
    I am also pleased to share with members these kinds of initiatives that go a long way toward building and strengthening commercial confidence and, in turn, boosting sales of our world-class dairy products. In addition, under Growing Forward 2, the new enabling commercialization and adaptation system within the agriInnovation program offers support to the sector for bringing to new markets its innovative products, processes, and services.
    I have underscored our government's support for the dairy industry and put to rest any doubt regarding our commitment to supply management. We have a system that works for Canada, for farmers, for consumers, and for all those who are in the agriculture industry. If there were ever a strong example of consumers buying locally in this country, it would be in our dairy, egg, and poultry industries. We are working in the best interests of Canadians.
    I want to thank my hon. colleague again for bringing this motion to Parliament. We are looking forward to a continued strong and prosperous future for not only our dairy industry but all of Canadian agriculture.

  (1840)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not have much time for my speech, so I will get to the point.
    I am pleased to rise today to speak to the motion by my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé. I want to say that she does an excellent job working on agricultural issues across the country. That is important to point out.
    This motion calls on the government to honour the promise it made to dairy and cheese producers with respect to the free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. The agreement was signed on October 18, 2013, which was seven months ago. The government made a promise to dairy and cheese producers, who are at a significant disadvantage as a result of this agreement, but the government has not yet made any announcement about compensating these producers, who work extremely hard and feed the country. We could get into a debate on food sovereignty and food safety, but that is for another day.
    The dairy industry in Canada, particularly in Quebec, creates a lot of direct jobs in dairy production and other areas, but also a lot of indirect jobs in processing. Obviously, milk is a very versatile product.
    Dairy and cheese producers publicly expressed their concern over the possible economic and commercial repercussions of this agreement, and rightly so. Many jobs are at stake. Let us not forget also the quality of our Canadian products. The motion seeks to mitigate the impact that the agreement might have on this sector. It is also very important to talk about the supply management system in Canada, which helps ensure stability and fairness with regard to the products, without compromising their quality.
    Obviously, the NDP and I support this bill. I am very aware of the significance of this situation, given that I am from a very intensive farming area. The supply management system is very important. We must not abandon it or weaken its pillars. The pillars of supply management are there to make it work properly. If one of those pillars is compromised or collapses, then the entire system will collapse with it. That is what we want to avoid by supporting this motion, which is very relevant to the debate on the free trade agreement.
    I humbly ask that the government keep its promise to producers and think about this job-creating industry that is immensely important to our country.

  (1845)  

    The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act

    The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
    When this matter was last before the House, there were five minutes remaining for the hon. member for Calgary Centre.
    Seeing as the member is not in the chamber, we will resume debate with the hon. member for Newton—North Delta.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in opposition to this motion at second reading, Bill C-24, an act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
    Today in this Parliament we witnessed, for the 65th time since I have been a member of Parliament, a government using the hammer of time allocation to shut off debate. I was in this House when the time allocation motion was discussed. I was so shocked to hear the minister say that we had over 30 hours of debate on this particular bill. Let me make it very clear. We have only had two hours of debate on this bill that has many components to it. From regulating immigration and citizenship consultants, to taking away citizenship, to qualifying for citizenship, all of those different components are in this bill, and yet the only time this Parliament will have time to discuss it is this evening. I am wondering what the rush is for the government. Why is it so afraid of legislation being debated? What does it want to hide?
    Let me remind the House that there is a small part of this bill that is like déjà vu. It takes me back to last June when we were dealing with a private member's bill, and through it the government tried to bring about fundamental changes to citizenship in Canada. That was outside of the rules. Then it tried to change the rules. Of course it was not able to, because it was outside of the purview and the timing ran out. What has happened here is that two elements of that bill have been taken and thrown in with at least five other elements, and a whole new bill has been produced.
    I heard the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration say today that we have spent over 30 hours discussing this. He must have been having discussions in a place other than Parliament, because I have gone back and checked and this bill has only had two hours of debate. Now we are going into an evening session until midnight and then the allocated time will run out and there will be a vote on it sometime tomorrow. Then it will go on to the next stage.
    This is what is beginning to worry me. There seems to be a pattern. It is a pattern in which the government is using its majority to bully. It is using bullying tactics to rush through legislation that it does not want Canadians to find out too much about. It does not want Canadians to know what is really in this piece of legislation.
    Let me be clear. There are two or three elements in this legislation that I support, but they are buried. That is typical of the Conservative government. It brings in omnibus legislation, which is legislation as thick as the telephone books for many of our communities across this beautiful country, and it has taken things that we know we need to take action on and buried them in with the worst elements of legislation that it knew were not only badly written but would have been open to all kinds of constitutional challenges; and it says it is trying to fix things.

  (1850)  

     I will be the first one to say that the immigration system needs to be reformed. The Liberals allowed long waiting periods, and that created backlogs. Some clarity and updating also needed to be done, but the minister has used that as an excuse and has broken the immigration system. He has taken it from one of nation-building to one of nation-dividing. That is a real concern.
    Because of the new changes, family reunification is almost impossible right now. It is taking longer for spouses to get over here. As well, thousands of applications by skilled workers were shredded, even though they played by the rules we made, and now parents and grandparents have been turned into a lottery system. I agree that we do want the young and the brightest, but the young and the brightest have parents. They do not fall out of the sky.
    Our immigration policy has gone from a nation-building policy to one in which the government sees itself as agents who provide temporary foreign workers at minimum wage so that big business can make huge profits. Vulnerable workers are being exploited, while Canadians who spend hundreds of hours looking for work cannot find it because the jobs they could do are being given away. The system is broken.
    This legislation purports to fix citizenship, specifically the waiting list. I worked at a citizenship ceremony recently. The judge showed me a room full of files and told me it would take him a long time to get to those files. People have to wait over 31 months after their applications are in, and this is after they have met all criteria. During that time, these potential Canadian citizens are being denied their rights as well as access to many of their responsibilities.
    There is nothing in this legislation that would expedite citizenship and get rid of the backlog. The government says it has invested extra money into getting rid of the backlog, but the lists have in fact become longer and the time period to obtain citizenship has become longer.
    I am pleased to see that regulation of consultants is in the bill. We hear too many stories from coast to coast to coast of unscrupulous agents and consultants who are abusive toward vulnerable people in this situation. People are looking for help, and these unscrupulous agents make all kinds of promises and commitments. Then all kinds of money changes hands, so it is good to see that kind of regulation in the bill.
    However, at the same time, this legislation has something in it that I find absolutely unacceptable.
    I have to share with the House what citizenship means. I chose Canada to be my home. I came to Canada in 1975 as a young teacher, excited about exploring this beautiful country. I fell in love with it and decided this was where I wanted to stay and have my children and raise them, and I now also have grandchildren.
    It was a very proud moment for me when I became a Canadian citizen. I can remember meeting the judge. He asked me a couple of questions. I was a social studies teacher, so he presumed I knew a lot of the background. We talked about what my experiences were like. I stood next to him and we had a lovely photograph taken. I had become a Canadian citizen. It was a very emotional time for me, because I take Canadian citizenship very seriously. I see it as an honour and a privilege.
    Citizenship has to mean something. If we attend a citizenship ceremony here in Canada, we see people from all around the world with their eyes filling with tears as citizenship is bestowed on them.

  (1855)  

    Last Friday, which was May 23, 2014, was a very significant day in Canadian history, although members may not know it. It was the 100-year anniversary of the Komagata Maru. That is the ship that arrived in Vancouver harbour, where the racist policies of the day, passed by Parliament, prevented people from landing in the harbour. They were British subjects, because India was part of the British Empire at that time, but they were turned back. Some died en route. Some were shot once they got to India. Others faced many challenges.
    On that day, as we were commemorating the 100-year anniversary, a man asked if he could speak. He went up to the mike and said, “After all these years living in Canada, I got my citizenship today, of all days”. He talked about what that citizenship meant to him. That is somebody who became a naturalized Canadian citizen, just as I am.
    In Canada we do not differentiate those who are born in other countries and come to this country and choose to make Canada their home because, as we know, except for our aboriginal people, most of us became Canadian citizens that way.
    However, what we are seeing here in this legislation would change what citizenship means, and not just for those who are born overseas and come here and become naturalized citizens. I think it is on this aspect that Canadians need to pay close attention to what the current government is doing. This legislation, if passed as is, would mean that the minister—not the courts, not anybody else—could take away citizenship from somebody who was born in Canada. Their family could have been here for a couple of generations, but they could still have citizenship taken away from them if they have a dual citizenship.
    As members know, dual citizenship is not limited to a few people in this country. There are many Canadians who have dual citizenship, and—
    Hon. Bal Gosal: Are you Canadian or not?
    Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims: Mr. Speaker, I wish my colleagues would learn to listen. I am a Canadian. I am a proud Canadian, and in this country it is the law of this land that allows one to hold dual citizenship.
    However, what the government is trying to do with the bill would actually change what citizenship is, because even for someone born in Canada, the government would give the minister the ability to take that citizenship away. I think it behooves each and every one of us to pay very special attention to this provision, because we are talking about potentially taking away citizenship from people who may never have been to another country, who were born here, and who have lived here all their lives.
    By the way, I am not blaming just the Conservatives. The party at the far end started this trend because it was too chicken to publicly debate the changes it was making to immigration. It vested more power into the hands of the ministers so they could make changes behind closed doors and not have to go out and explain them to Canadians. The scary part is that we have seen the current government, a government on steroids, increase that power in the hands of the ministers, whether it comes to refugee situations or otherwise. In this case the bill asks Parliament to give the minister the power to take away somebody's citizenship, and it would not have to be based upon any sound evidence. It could be based upon suspicion.

  (1900)  

    There is no judicial hearing or anywhere that a person can go to tackle that. Someone's citizenship can be taken away based on suspicion. It is that scary. What is more scary is that kind of power will be given to some of the ministers I see sitting across the aisle from me. That, I will tell the minister, should scare Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    In Canada we are proud that whether people are naturalized or whether they are born here, once they are Canadian citizens, they have the same rights and the same responsibilities. However, under this legislation we are going to take one group of Canadians and hold them to a totally different bar. They could not only have their citizenship stripped away but would then have to leave the country, based on the whims of whom? It would not be based on any trial or anything like that, but in any case we should not be using citizenship as a tool, as part of a judicial system.
    Let me be clear: if anybody gets his or her citizenship in a fraudulent manner, there is already a mechanism to have that person's citizenship taken away. If anybody has lied or deliberately used fraud in order to get citizenship, of course he or she should have his or her citizenship taken away.
    We are not talking about that here. We are talking about somebody born in Canada, maybe someone born just down Wellington Street or in my riding at the local hospital in Surrey. I would say that Canadians would suddenly be feeling a bit worried, because what does citizenship mean if the minister can take it away based on suspicion, et cetera?
    I read a quote by the new minister of immigration and I kept thinking that a minister would not say that. Here is the quote: “Citizenship is not an inalienable birthright.” If one is born a Canadian citizen, surely that is his or her birthright. That is how people gain their citizenship, unless they have been naturalized, in which case they have the same rights and privileges.
    Here is something from the U.S. Our government always likes to quote some of the governments it likes some of the time. This is with respect to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is a quote by Lorne Waldman, the president of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, on February 5, 2014. He states:
    The US Supreme Court got it right over 50 years ago when it said that citizenship is not a licence that the government can revoke for misbehaviour. As Canadians, we make our citizenship feeble and fragile if we let government Ministers seize the power to extinguish it.
    As I said, there are some parts to this bill that we would be pleased to support if they were separated into different components. On the other hand, there are parts of this bill that give us fundamental concern. I know the government has an allergy to experts and expert opinions, but expert after expert has said that this legislation will be open to constitutional and charter challenges.
    It is too late to plead for a more in-depth debate, but when the bill gets to the committee stage, let us at least hope that we will have a wholesome debate and that the Conservatives will accept the amendments we will take to that stage.

  (1905)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member. I take somewhat of an exception to her shots at the Liberal Party, especially when we look at the history of immigration to Canada. Many would acknowledge that Canada has been a wonderful, generous country towards immigrants. Ultimately, through immigration, we have built one of the greatest nations in the world. We have been ranked fairly high by the United Nations as one of the best countries in the world to live. A great deal of recognition likely goes to individuals like Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, and good solid sound immigration programs.
    Having said that, no doubt there is a need for periodic modification. What we have witnessed over the last couple of years has been somewhat disappointing.
    Could the member provide further comment? I was in the committee with the member when we had an awkward member from the Conservative Party bring forward a private member's bill that was actually being hijacked by the government, which had a totally different agenda.
     Part of that agenda has now been brought into this legislation. Could the member comment?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague and I were at the immigration committee last year when we dealt with the precursor of parts of this bill. I could see that there was some real danger in the direction the government was going. I stand by my words that some of the power we have seen being delegated to ministers is causing me major concern. It is allowing major changes to be made to immigration and, in this case, even to take away citizenship on a suspicion, so to speak.
     I do not think we want to have that kind of despotic power put into the hands of ministers. We live in a parliamentary democracy, and we need to be debating issues right here. It is time that the immigration committee got back to looking at immigration policies that would be nation building, not ones based on the fear that everybody is a terrorist.
    We are getting to the stage where we are not doing Canadians any favours.

  (1910)  

    Mr. Speaker, I find this bill very disturbing and for many of the reasons that the member has already outlined in terms of the notion that citizenship can be held as a discretionary privilege in the hands of any particular political administration.
    As I look at this bill, one of the areas that I think is most troubling is if the minister is of a reasonable belief that individuals have a second citizenship, they can lose their Canadian citizenship. There is a very real risk that other commentators have noted that we could create, basically, statelessness for people we have decided to exile.
    It is a very unusual bill in that it is unprecedented. If there are people we believe deserve punishment, we can put them in Canadian jails. If they are Canadian citizens, they should experience Canadian punishments. The notion that they would be deprived of Canadian citizenship, even people who were born in Canada, is a rather slippery slope of depriving the most fundamental aspects of what citizenship means.
    Does the member think that I am right, that we might actually have a circumstance where someone ends up stateless?
    Mr. Speaker, the original private member's bill would have led to statelessness because it did not specify where there was dual citizenship.
    In this bill, it could happen. In many cases people who are thought to have dual citizenship may not.
    I have heard my Conservative colleagues yell across the way that it is all about holding people to account for treachery or treasonous activities. Nobody in the NDP has said that wayward or treasonous citizens must not be held to account. Absolutely, they must be held to account.
    We still believe in the judicial system. Even the most egregious crime, no matter what it is, demands fair and equal treatment under the law. This legislation would confer different levels of citizenship on different citizens. Individuals born in Canada could find themselves being removed from Canada after they have lost their citizenship. To me, that just seems bizarre. Somebody else who is born in Canada would not be facing the same kind of double jeopardy.
    This just seems wrong. It does not even pass the common sense test.
    Mr. Speaker, the concerns of my colleague from Newton—North Delta are well-founded. The government would certainly benefit from paying close attention to the matters she brought forward. If I could just elaborate a little bit more, we could be in a situation where, on simple suspicion of fraud, a person could have his or her citizenship revoked.
    That kind of power seems excessive, especially, as the member mentioned herself, we already procedures to prove fraud and for people to be penalized and suffer the consequences of fraud where they are found guilty of it, but here we are talking about simple suspicion.
    The minister himself has been quoted as saying that citizenship is a mutual responsibility. Surely the responsibility of the state would be to make sure the person's rights are safeguarded, that there would be due process and rule of law.
    I would like to hear comments from the member. Does she find that the process that is being proposed here is leading to a situation of lawlessness, where the minister is taking upon himself to be judge and jury without due process? Without the benefits of the whole process, individuals can lose their citizenship and quite possibly end up stateless.
    We need to have a better understanding of the rule of law in this country, and the bill seems to be going in the wrong direction.

  (1915)  

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is one of our most hard working members of Parliament in this assembly.
    What we have here is, as another colleague summed it up, a solution in search of a problem. This is what the government wants to do and then it has gone backwards and asks how it can justify it. I do not see where the justification is.
    Right now there is a mechanism to remove permanent residents because they are not Canadian citizens yet. There is a mechanism for a Canadian citizen who has achieved that through fraud, once proven, to have that citizenship taken away.
    What are we saying when we tell people who were born in Canada or who have become citizens through naturalization that they will now be held to a different standard than another person who was born in Canada or another person who becomes a naturalized Canadian? What is it saying? It is creating a two-tiered citizenship. That is fundamentally wrong. It is the responsibility of the state. The state owes some responsibility to citizens as well.
    In this case, I feel that what the minister and the government want to do is shunt that individual off somewhere, when that individual is a Canadian citizen.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for St. Catharines.
    I am very pleased and privileged to have this opportunity to add my voice in support of Bill C-24, the government's legislation that would strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. Let me also say that it is a privilege to be a Canadian citizen and to be able to rise in the House to speak. I first came to this country as an international student in 1968, but I was made a stateless citizen in 1971 when Canada chose to change its recognition from the Republic of China to the People's Republic of China. Due to the generosity of the Canadian immigration system, I was able to apply for my permanent resident status and subsequently became a citizen in 1976.
    Let me address some of the issues in the new citizenship act. As we know, Canadian citizenship is highly valued around the world. The fact that more than 85% of eligible permanent residents go on to become citizens is a testament to this. Last year, this translated into nearly 129,000 new Canadians citizens from no fewer than 219 countries, a 14% increase over 2012 numbers. We can all take pride in the value of our citizenship and in our high naturalization rate. Unfortunately, because Canadian citizenship is so valuable, some people are prepared to lie or cheat in order to qualify. For example, they may break our citizenship law by pretending to be living in Canada when they are living abroad. In fact, more than 85% of Canadian citizenship fraud involves falsifying residency. In many cases, permanent residents have used the services of immigration consultants who fraudulently establish evidence of residence in Canada while living abroad most, if not all, of the time.
    Ongoing large-scale fraud investigations have identified more than 3,000 citizens and 5,000 permanent residents linked to major investigations, the majority of them related to residents. In addition, nearly 2,000 individuals linked to these investigations have either abandoned or withdrawn their citizenship applications. Individuals who seek to obtain Canadian citizenship fraudulently have no real attachment to Canada. They want citizenship for no other reason than to obtain the many benefits associated with Canadian citizenship or purely for financial gain.
    Right now, applicants must reside in Canada for three out of the previous four years before being eligible to apply for citizenship. The major fault with the current citizenship requirements is that “residence” is not defined under the current Citizenship Act. As a result, it is currently possible for someone to become a Canadian citizen even if he or she has spent little time actually living in Canada.
    Under the changes we propose, the rules around resident requirements would be strengthened so that adults applying for citizenship would have to be physically present in Canada. We would also lengthen the residency requirement to four years out of the previous six years, with a specific requirement to reside in Canada for a minimum of 183 days during at least four of the six qualifying years.
    In his testimony before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, Martin Collacott, a former Canadian diplomat and spokesman for the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, said:
...I think newcomers will value their citizenship more if they know it is not something that can be acquired quickly or without meeting certain standards.
    He added:
    I strongly support the provisions of Bill C-24 aimed at ensuring that residency requirements are actually met, particularly in view of evidence that thousands of people have obtained their citizenship fraudulently by claiming they had spent time in Canada when they had not.
    The proposed residency requirement in Bill C-24 would be consistent with the Income Tax Act, which says that those in Canada for less than 183 days with no other attachment to Canada are considered non-residents for income tax purposes. Unlike the majority of Canadians, non-residents are generally only required to pay taxes on their Canadian-sourced income. By better aligning the residency requirement for citizenship with the residency rules under the Income Tax Act, it would help to further strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. Coupled with the new residency requirement, it would also strengthen the permanent residence attachment to Canada.
    Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, in a recent appearance before the standing committee, said the following:
    For the first time, we have a pragmatic, transparent threshold to access Canadian citizenship. That is long overdue.

  (1920)  

    We obviously agree. I would add that these amendments to the Canadian Citizenship Act are also important because the physical presence in Canada assists with permanent residents' final integration into society.
    A longer residence period would enable newcomers to develop a stronger connection to Canada. Furthermore, creating a clear and longer physical presence requirement would help deter citizens of convenience. Those individuals become citizens purely for the convenience of having a Canadian passport and to access the full range of taxpayer-funded benefits that come with this status, without any intention of contributing to Canada or even residing here.
    In other words, they regard their Canadian citizenship primarily as little more than an insurance policy, to quote Mr. Collacott.
    Of course in order to support their admission to Canadian society, citizens must first have an adequate knowledge of one of our official languages. As Mr. Collacott has said, the basic command of one of Canada's official languages is an essential skill for newcomers who are going to be able to contribute to society and the economy, as well as be able to realize their own dreams and aspirations as immigrants.
    The government also believes that citizens must have knowledge about our country as well as the responsibility and privileges of Canadian citizenship, as this knowledge is essential to a new citizen's civic participation. This is why the amendments contained in Bill C-24 would also expand the age group who must first show proof of their language proficiency and take a citizenship knowledge test. We would expand the current age group from 18 to 54 years old, to 14 to 64 years old.
    This would provide incentive for more individuals to acquire official language proficiency and civic knowledge, thus improving their integration. It would also ensure that more newcomers are better prepared to assume the responsibility of citizenship.
    Lengthening the residency requirement and expanding the group that must meet knowledge and language requirements would ensure that more new citizens are better prepared for full participation in all aspects of Canadian life.
    As I have said, these changes would also help deter citizenship of convenience. Taken together, the amendments in Bill C-24 would preserve and protect the value of Canadian citizenship both today and in the future by ensuring Canadians have a real, rather than a tenuous or non-existent, connection to Canada.
    In his testimony before the standing committee, Shimon Fogel, chief executive officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said his organization appreciates the steps taken by Bill C-24 to promote strong ties to Canada and buy-in to core Canadian values. He also added that the introduction of more robust residency requirements including physical presence to qualify for citizenship is particularly well received.
    Canadian citizenship is highly valued around the world and, with this balanced set of reforms, the government is taking steps to ensure that it stays that way.

  (1925)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. He certainly raised some valid points, especially the fact that Canadian citizenship is highly valued. People around the world have a deep respect for Canada and Canadian citizenship.
    That said, the temporary foreign worker program has shown us that it seems to be very difficult to become a Canadian citizen. It seems to be more and more difficult to obtain Canadian citizenship. The government seems to want to tighten the rules and no longer grant citizenship, or do so less frequently. Instead, the government wants to exploit foreign workers and use them as cheap labour in Canada. We have seen this on many occasions. The examples we have seen of the temporary foreign worker program in Canada show that it is used as a tool to lower the value of the worker on the labour market.
    Since we are talking about the granting of citizenship, we should perhaps also talk about valuing workers in Canada. In my opinion, if someone can work, they should also have the right to vote.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what we need to appreciate is that citizenship itself is a privilege. To be a citizen or to be a landed immigrant to work in Canada is itself a privilege. Then we also need to be clear that we have to separate those who come here on a temporary basis from those who are here with an intention to say. Those who are here with an intention to stay, if they fulfill the residency requirements, will be granted citizenship.
    One of the responsibilities of being a Canadian citizen is the ability to have some sort of civic participation. With most of our elections being somewhere between every four years and every five years, I feel it is necessary for a person to have actually physically experienced that period of time in Canada in that civic participation.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could provide some comment about what rationale was used when no longer recognizing workers to the degree they are recognized under the current law. Now people can work in Canada on a temporary visa and can have worked in Canada for a couple of years, and ultimately, when people land in Canada, a portion of that time period would go toward their citizenship time requirements.
    It assisted individuals who were working and contributing to Canada in a very real and tangible way. As a bit of a reward for that, they did not have to wait as long as others to qualify for citizenship.
    What is the rationale? Why would that be taken away from those who are here as temporary workers?
    Mr. Speaker, there is a difference. Let me share my personal experience on this with him. When I first came to Canada as an international student in 1968 and graduated in 1972, I was prepared to pursue my postgraduate education either in Europe or in the United States. There was not that intent to reside in Canada or to stay in Canada. It was not until I subsequently obtained permanent residency that I decided to stay in Canada.
    Therefore, when people are here on a work visa or under temporary status, there is no guarantee that they have the intention to stay. When we hear the intention or the voluntary desire that people profess to want to be a Canadian, that is the time when we should start counting their intention to be a Canadian citizen and their contribution to society.
    Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased to follow my colleague, who did such a good job describing and talking about the Citizenship Act and the changes we would make through Bill C-24. I would like to add my part to the point of how our government is planning to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship.
    Canada's 37-year-old Citizenship Act is in need of serious reforms. Its original purpose, of course, was to ensure we had individuals who worked through the process of becoming Canadian citizens and followed through on the legislation and regulation that was put forward at that time.
    Indeed, the reforms today are here to work toward stopping the abuse of our immigration system and to put an end to the dubious folks who actually cheapen our citizenship by having zero connection or attachment to our country.
    It is clear that our government takes the value of Canadian citizenship seriously. That is why we see this bill here before us today.
    Citizenship defines who we are as Canadians, but it comes with certain responsibilities, like respect for the rule of law, contributing to the well-being of our communities, supporting ourselves and our families, and protecting our country.
    Citizenship also means that we share a commitment to the values that are rooted in our history, values like peace, freedom, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Canadian citizenship is about more than the right to carry a passport. It is about the complete entity of what it is to be a Canadian citizen.
    Citizens need to have an ongoing connection to their country, and in this particular case, an ongoing connection to our country of Canada.
     As a government and as Canadians, we believe citizenship is truly something special.
    When asked, Canadians across this country—especially those who have acquired, or recently acquired, Canadian citizenship—will say how special it is to actually achieve that end and that goal.
    We cannot and do not attach a price to citizenship. Unfortunately there are those who would attempt to attach some form of monetary cost to Canadian citizenship.
    The changes found in this legislation would be a real step in the fight against attempts to defraud the Canadian citizenship program and to defraud Canadian citizens of what is truly a remarkable feat once one achieves that citizenship.
    It is unfortunate, but citizenship fraud is a serious issue in our country. The Government of Canada's investigation into residence fraud continues to grow, with nearly 11,000 individuals potentially implicated in lying to apply for citizenship or to maintain their permanent resident status. These are individuals who were most likely trying to establish the residency requirements for citizenship when they were actually living abroad. These practices demean and devalue what it is to be a Canadian and what it is to achieve Canadian citizenship.
    The legislation before us would amend the Citizenship Act to ensure that, not only are we protecting the value of Canadian citizenship against those who would cheapen it, but we are also enhancing and building upon it.
    Here is how we are proposing to do that. First and foremost, our citizenship program officers do not currently have the tools to determine if a consultant has been involved with an application for citizenship. We propose to change that and to require that applicants who use a representative when they apply for citizenship use only an authorized representative.
    Changes to the Citizenship Act would give the minister the ability to designate a body to regulate and enforce citizenship consultant conduct. These changes would mirror recent changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
    It was just a couple or three years ago that we passed that new legislation in which a regulatory body within the Ministry of Citizenship would actually oversee and ensure that only consultants who were licensed through the ministry, who were approved through the ministry, and who actually met the guidelines were able to represent both individuals attempting to achieve refugee status, in the case of our refugee act, and individuals attempting to achieve citizenship and who are applying for it through this new act.
    In regulating consultants, we would offer a level of protection to newcomers that they do not have at the moment.

  (1930)  

    We have all heard stories and talk within our constituency offices and our ridings from those who come in to our office to sit down with us and explain how they have simply and very clearly been ripped off. They have been led down the garden path to believe they can achieve citizenship if only they pay $1,000, $5,000 or $10,000 to this individual who does not have a reputation of being able to achieve that end and who is not licensed to work within the province of Ontario.
    The amendments would also bring the penalty for committing citizenship fraud in line with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. They would increase the penalties for citizenship fraud to a maximum of a $100,000 fine, or up to five years in prison, or both.
    The second part of this is we are taking action to strengthen the residence requirements for citizenship. My colleague spoke about that briefly in his remarks as well. Currently the Citizenship Act does not define what “residence” actually means. The act does not say or deem what “residence” or “resident requirements” actually mean when people are applying for and working through the process of citizenship.
    Under the current act, prospective Canadians apply for citizenship and are simply required to have resided in Canada for three of the past four years. Our proposed amendment to the act is to stipulate that prospective Canadians would need to be physically present in Canada. This is important, because physical presence in Canada helps newcomers to integrate and establish a sense of belonging and attachment to Canada.
    However, it is more than that. It is also about the ability for those individuals to learn what it is to become a Canadian, to learn about our history, to learn about our geography and what happens in the east or west of our country, what happens in Ontario and Quebec, and the fact that we have two official languages. It gives those individuals the length and the breadth of understanding, and the ability to know that when they achieve Canadian citizenship, it is because they earned it and because they understand it.
    We will, however, include an exception for applicants who are outside of Canada because they are accompanying either their Canadian spouse or parent who is employed in the Canadian Armed Forces or as a crown servant. This is to prevent these permanent residents from being penalized simply because of their family's service abroad for our country.
    It is an issue that we missed in the former bill, Bill C-37, which passed unanimously. I hope this citizenship bill will also pass unanimously. The former bill, Bill C-37, did not cover this instance where an individual had a spouse, parent or child employed in the Canadian Armed Forces. It would not have given those people the ability to achieve citizenship, so we will ensure it is in this act. We also want to lengthen the current residence requirements and require prospective Canadians to be physically present in Canada for four out of the six last years.
    The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration had the opportunity to hear key testimony on the bill. Organizations such as the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform and Immigrants For Canada as well as several immigration lawyers all agreed that extending the residence requirements would strengthen the attachment that individuals would have to Canada and that when they received that Canadian citizenship, it would enhance their ability as a Canadian.
    Immigration lawyer, Mr. Reis Pagtakhan, noted that the longer an individual lived in Canada, the greater the connection would be. He accurately stated:
    Citizenship bestows rights and protections many foreign nationals do not have. As Canadian citizens, they can vote and seek elected office, so it is important that they participate in Canadian life before they become citizens.
    I could not agree more. Newcomers should have a deep understanding of Canada's culture and society before they apply for citizenship. We believe Canada has a strong identity, and this bill would build on that sense of nation.
    Finally, as part of their applications, applicants would also be asked whether they intended to reside in Canada. If an applicant had no intention to reside in our country after they obtained citizenship, or if the government obtained information to this effect, they would not be eligible for that citizenship.
    Our citizenship is highly valued around the world. Canadian citizenship is an honour and a privilege. It comes not only with rights, but it comes with responsibilities. The bill would reinforce that, build on it and take that 37 years since we have worked on the act and make it that much stronger and that much better. It would close a loop that should have been closed a long time ago.

  (1940)  

    Mr. Speaker, some parts of the parliamentary secretary's comments were enlightening, but a lot of it was, in my opinion, quite terrifying.
    He spoke of fraud, that the bill would address individuals who tried to exploit people who were trying to immigrate to Canada by charging them vast sums of money to get to our country. I do not see how revoking someone's citizenship in Canada is going to stop someone overseas from exploiting a person overseas. The question really is how do we protect Canadians in Canada.
    He mentioned that there would be new residency requirements. The person would have to abide by an intent to reside in Canada for four years. The Canada Revenue Agency, notoriously, cannot define intent when it comes to residency, so how does he think the immigration department will do any better?
    Mr. Speaker, let me just give the member the example of how we achieved the Refugee Protection Act. Consultants must now be licensed. They must be approved. They must work through that process. They are known within the ministry. The minute there is an attempt to take advantage as a consultants the individuals would now have the opportunity to go to the ministry, inform the regulatory body of what happened and an investigation would begin immediately. That has never happened when we have pursued the issue of Canadian citizenship and the ability for those to achieve it through fraudulent means.
    If the member takes a look and reviews how successful it has been over the past few years with respect to the refugee legislative changes we have made, he will see that this is a strong supporting mechanism that has worked, and it will work within the framework of our citizenship changes as well.
    Mr. Speaker, every year Canada benefits immensely from students from all over the world who come to study at our universities, colleges and many private institutions. In many ways they come to Canada because they believe they might have an opportunity to ultimately land in Canada. At least a fair percentage of them come to Canada believing and hoping that this will happen. For many of them it will materialize. They will ultimately land in Canada.
    My question for the former parliamentary secretary to the minister of immigration is this. Why has the government decided to recognize students who have been studying in Canada, but not allow those students to use a portion of the time they are in Canada as a way to meet the requirement of being here for a certain period of time to get their citizenship? Why not allow those students to use a portion of the time they were here while studying under a temporary student visa as a way to provide incentive and encouragement? After all, they have made a significant contribution even before they have applied to land in Canada. Why take that away from them?
    Mr. Speaker, we have not taken that away from them. In fact, we have introduced a process, and he is very familiar with it, that students from other countries who come to study in Canada have an opportunity to seek out permanent residency upon their graduation. Permanent residency is a first step for them to reach that citizenship.
    However, let us be clear. Canadian citizenship should be at value, at a potential height, that is not only respected but honoured. If individuals come to our country with every intention of studying or working here on a temporary visa and their intentions are to go back to their country of origin, we will honour that. We have the individual having the visa. We have the individual who is allowed to work here and he or she returns home.
     However, when it comes to Canadian citizenship, if this is the value that individuals want to achieve, the ability to have Canadian citizenship, then giving up four years of their lives to live here directly on the soil of our country to earn that citizenship, I challenge you to find one person, one Canadian citizen in our country who would not say “That seems pretty fair to me”.

  (1945)  

    Before resuming debate, I would like to remind all hon. members to direct their comments to the Chair rather than directly to their colleagues.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for London—Fanshawe.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River.
    With the exception of our first nations brothers and sisters, all of us in the chamber are newcomers to this country, every one of us, and we should be very aware of that reality when we start to bandy about and talk about citizenship. My own family came from places across the world.
     My husband is from Holland, one grandmother was from the United States, a grandfather was from England, and my paternal grandfather was from Italy. In the case of my paternal grandfather, there are various stories about the reason for his departure from Italy. Some say poverty. I am inclined to believe it had something to do with him smoking under the police station veranda and accidentally causing a fire that made his departure essential. No matter what the reason, all who came here came for a better life. They came to make a new beginning, and that is what makes this bill so very important. That is also what makes it so very important to get Bill C-24 right.
    Bill C-24 is an attempt to amend the Citizenship Act. It causes, at least on this side of the House, some great concerns regarding the fairness and constitutionality of the changes suggested by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Everyone agrees that Canadian citizenship is something of enormous value. It is sought after around the world. However, what we do not want to see is any approach that plays politics with the issue, a situation that we have seen all too often from the government.
    The Conservatives have a track record of politicizing issues for partisan gain. They also have a history of violently denouncing anyone who dares to contradict or disagree with them, including public servants like Linda Keen, Richard Colvin, Kevin Page, Pat Strogran, Munir Sheikh, Marc Mayrand, environmental groups, scientists, unions and international NGOs. How can the government be trusted with the power to decide, with no reference to courts or appeals processes, who should have their citizenships revoked and who should be secretly granted citizenship?
    Some of the changes to the Citizenship Act would address deficiencies in the current system, and they should be applauded. With respect to the bill, it is high time that the issue of the lost Canadians was addressed. This is an absurdly unfair situation that has gone on far too long. The bill would allow for individuals to finally obtain Canadian citizenship, individuals who were born before the first Canadian citizenship act took effect. This would also extend to their children born outside of Canada in the first generation, this citizenship that is their right.
    Despite this positive amendment, though, other parts of the bill are, as I said, profoundly concerning. For example, the question of revoking citizenship has raised significant legal concerns and we are always worried about proposals to concentrate more power in the hands of the minister. Under the provisions o