Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
Mr. Speaker, our men and women in uniform have front row seats for the sad spectacle of the Liberals and the Prime Minister.
For the past year, the opposition, experts, and the military have been telling the government to stop misleading Canadians with the unnecessary purchase of 18 Super Hornets. The minister has lost all credibility. Canadians also realize that the Prime Minister is improvising at the expense of national security.
Can the government stop improvising and finally hold an open and transparent process to replace the fighter jets in order to give the military the equipment they are entitled to right now?
View Harjit S. Sajjan Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I was very proud, on behalf of the government's new defence policy, to be able to announce that we will be purchasing not 65 fighter aircraft but 88, making sure that we have a full, transparent competition to replace the entire fleet.
We are investing in our legacy fleet as well. We do have a capability gap and we need to fill it to make sure that the air force has all the planes necessary to meet all their commitments simultaneously.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2017-06-20 18:20 [p.13044]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and pleasure to rise today to speak in favour of Bill S-232.
Do hon. members know who invented the telephone? I am sure that most of them do. It was Alexander Graham Bell. However, do they know who made the telephone a workable invention? I am not sure that they do. It was a Jewish Canadian named Emile Berliner, who not only made the telephone workable, but also the microphone and created the first gramophone.
How many members know who the first Canadian world figure skating champion was? In 1891, a Montrealer named Louis Rubenstein travelled to St. Petersburg to compete in the first unofficial world figure skating championship. Instead of welcoming him, Mr. Rubenstein was put in prison by the Russians because he was a Jew, but because he carried a letter from his friend, Governor General Lord Stanley, demanding his safe conduct, the British ambassador intervened, he was allowed to compete, and he won the world championship. He returned to Montreal and created the Amateur Skating Association of Canada. He served out the rest of his life as a city councillor in the city of Montreal. These are but two examples of Jewish Canadians who, for the last 280 years, have contributed to the vibrancy of this country and this continent.
Before talking about what Jews have given Canada, I want to talk about what Canada has given Jews.
As a Jewish Canadian, I cannot begin to express how proud I am that Canada is my country, that Quebec is my province, and that I am a Montrealer.
All three of these identities are interchangeable. All three of these identities have led me and generations of my family before me to prosper.
Jews come from a history of persecution across the world, whether in Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. Country after country has expelled Jews, has caused them to be ghettoized, and has made them wear symbols to show that they are different. However, our experience in North America, in Canada and the United States, where we arrived as equals, where we arrived and were welcomed, where we arrived and there was freedom of religion, has made Canada what my ancestors called the goldene medina, which means the golden state. That was the United States and Canada. That is why generation after generation of Jews fleeing persecution in the 19th century and 20th century came here, to create our community of more than 400,000 Jewish Canadians who call Canada home today.
I thank Canada for what it has done for me and my community. The reason we love this country and are so patriotic is that it gave us opportunities no other country ever did. Therefore, Jewish Canadian heritage month would not only celebrate the contributions of Jewish Canadians, but for Jewish Canadians it would also celebrate the country that gave us such enormous opportunity.
Contrary to what many people believe, Jewish Canadians were among the earliest immigrants to this country after our indigenous peoples. Even in the history of New France, there were Jews who came here. There was a story of Esther Brandeau who came here dressed as a man and eventually was expelled back to France because she refused to convert to Catholicism, and New France was closed to people who were not Catholic.
Jews were always part of the landscape. In 1740, a gentleman named George Hart settled in Montreal, coming from New England. He was the first Jew to settle in Quebec, not Aaron Hart, who arrived in 1760 with the British army. Quebec, Lower Canada, was the first jurisdiction in the world to grant Jews full political and civil rights in 1832, under the stewardship of Louis-Joseph Papineau.
The Jewish community contributed a great deal to the early days in my city of Montreal. David David was one of the first governors of the Bank of Montreal and sat on the first board. A gentleman named Jesse Joseph was the president of the first Montreal Gas Company, which later became known as the Montreal Light, Heat and Power Company, and he created the Montreal Telegraph Company. Moses Hayes was the chief of police in Montreal in the 1850s and 1860s.
In 1871, Henry Nathan of Victoria became the first Jewish Canadian elected to the House of Commons. Jewish Canadians have served with honour in all three political parties over that time. David Barrett was a Jewish New Democrat and premier of British Columbia. Mr. Marshall was a Jewish premier of Newfoundland from the Conservative Party. There has been generation after generation of Jews in all three political parties in this country, including the Liberal Party, people like David Croll and Irwin Cotler. Even today, in my native area of Montreal, we have produced senators Judith Seidman and Marc Gold. We have produced Irwin Cotler, Lawrence Bergman, and David Birnbaum, who served in the House of Commons and the national assembly. Mitchell Brownstein, Bill Steinberg, Russell Copeman have been mayors. Marvin Rotrand was a city councillor. The list goes on. We have been part of the discussion and of the lexicon in this country.
Jews have served honourably in our Armed Forces since the War of 1812.
The Jewish people served during the Patriotes’ Rebellion in 1837. During the First World War, more than 4,000 Jews served in the Canadian Armed Forces, and during the Second World War, more than 20,000 proudly served their country.
During that period of time we have created institutions that have served not only our community but all Canadians well.
It is interesting that people see Jewish Canadians as having only been from the big cities. They see us in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. However, the first Jewish Canadian wave of immigration was the Sephardic wave in the 1760s, and after that waves of Jews came from Europe and settled small town Canada, creating farming settlements in Saskatchewan and Alberta, like Edenbridge and Wapella, creating corner stores and peddling operations in places like Glace Bay and Yarmouth, in Nova Scotia.
Throughout this country, Jewish Canadians have integrated into their communities and worked alongside their Christian brothers and sisters and later arrivals from other religions to build this country.
In Montreal, many of our institutions, not only Jewish institutions but wider institutions, were created by families like the Bronfmans, the Kolbers, the Reitmans, the Vinebergs, the Segals, the Adams, the Azrielies, the Goodmans, the Bissells, the Martzes, the Goldblooms, the Pascals, the Gewurtzes, the Weiners, the Steinbergs, the Garbers, the Cummings, the Papermans, and the Blacks.
We were joined by a vibrant community that arrived from the Arab countries, a community that endured anti-Semitism after the Second World War. This community settled in Canada, particularly in Quebec and in Montreal. Not only did this community find peace, but it also gave rise to very strong community leaders. They built institutions, not only for the Jewish community, but for all Quebeckers and all Canadians. These are people such as Emile and Aline Malka, Moise Ohana, Sylvain Abitbol, Geneviève Busbib, Marc Kakon, Laurent Amram, Henri and Edmond Elbaz, Betty Elkaim, Jo and Dolly Gabay, Jacques Golbert, Haim Abenhaim, Sidney Elhadad, and many more. There are so many.
This is the 100th anniversary of Federation CJA, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and Federation CJA in Montreal. Federation is our prime organization that gathers all the other Jewish organizations.
I would be remiss if I did not also recognize those community leaders who built our national and Montreal-based organizations, people like Dorothy Reitman, Sheila Kussner, Barbara Seal, Lillian Vineberg, Nancy Rosenfeld, David Cape, Goldie and Shelly Hershon, Susan Laxer, Evan Feldman, David Amiel, Jack and Pascale Hasen, Deborah Corber, Reuben Poupko, Dean Mendel, Gail and Heather Adelson, Karen Laxer, Joel Shalit, Stanley Plotnick, Mark Merson, Sidney Margles, Eta Yudin, Eddy Wiltzer, Gary Shapiro, Monica Bensoussan, and of course the great rabi of Shaar Hashomayim who still serves at age 96, Wilfred Shuchat. In calling all these individual Jews, I want to remind everyone that each of them have made contributions, but the community has made contributions.
I hope in Canadian Jewish heritage month, all Canadians will take the time to learn about their local Jewish communities. In that way, we will be able to fight and eradicate the anti-Semitism that exists. Once we know our neighbours, we are much less prejudiced against them.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-20 22:54 [p.13079]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise tonight to revisit a question I raised on May 4. I asked the Minister of National Defence why the Liberals were taking away the danger pay from our troops that were currently deployed in the fight against ISIS and were stationed in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan. We had already established that the Minister of National Defence had a very casual relationship with the troops.
We heard from veterans not only on the minister's embellishment of his service record, but also the feeling of service members and their families on the impact it had on their moral state of mind, as they served in the Canadian Armed Forces, knowing the government was trying to undermine their danger pay.
A 27-year veteran stated, “The Defence Minister cannot continue to lead the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, having lost the and respect and trust in this way.”
I acknowledge that the danger pay issue was resolved. After opposition members and Canadians put so much pressure on the government, it had to backtrack. The government was forced to accept a motion I brought forward in the House to restore the danger pay for all troops that were in the fight against ISIS, including those that were stationed in Kuwait, particularly at Camp Arifjan. We know the embarrassment was so much that the Liberals had to insert it into the defence policy review.
Today I want to deal with the track record of the Minister of National Defence over the past year. We have heard from members of the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as veterans, who took great offence with the minister's comments that he was the architect of Operation Medusa. This was not a slip of the tongue. This was something he said from prepared notes in a speech he delivered in India on April 18. He said that on his first appointment to Kandahar in 2006, he was the architect of Operation Medusa. He said it in 2015 as a Liberal candidate.
To show how it impacted upon our veterans and our troops, retired Lieutenant-Colonel Shane Schreiber said that the minister, as a soldier, probably would not have said that, however, the minister the politician thought he could get away with it. He said, “When you are careless with your words as a politician, that can haunt you.” He went on to say, “Any good soldier would not try to steal another soldier's honour.” This is often referred to as stolen valour.
The minister has apologized for that statement, but he has undermined his own credibility because of this statement, which was deliberately misleading not only the House but Canadians and the people he spoke to in India.
We also know he has misled the House on a number of other occasions.
He also said that the pulling our CF-18s from Operation Impact in the war against ISIS was accepted by our allies. He said in December, 2015 that he had not had one discussion about the CF-18s. However, emails sent by officials, which we acquired through an access to information request, showed that the Iraqi minister of defence was clearly focused on Canada's decision to withdraw its CF-18s from the coalition air strikes, asking the minister to reconsider this decision on numerous occasions.
We also know that on numerous occasions, Kurdish officials stated that they wanted to have our CF-18s left in the fight against ISIS, but the Liberal Minister of National Defence brought them home.
We also know that over the past year, the minister has also dealt with this whole issue of—
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-20 22:58 [p.13080]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's original question had to do with pay for our troops who are deployed to Kuwait to fight against Daesh as part of Operation Impact. The member opposite also mentioned the Minister of National Defence in his speech.
I am pleased that he has given me an opportunity to reiterate that the minister is a former reservist who has an excellent understanding of the needs of soldiers and their families and who believes that our troops are by far our greatest asset. He is a minister who puts his experience on the ground, his expertise, and his energy into serving our men and women in uniform every day. He is a minister who ensures that our soldiers have the resources, training, equipment, and support they need to successfully carry out the missions and operations assigned to them.
Like the minister, our entire government is determined to ensure that the members of the Canadian Armed Forces get all the benefits they need to take care of their families here in Canada, particularly when they are sent on missions abroad.
That is why we supported the motion moved by the member opposite last March regarding tax relief for military personnel sent to Kuwait. That motion was debated on March 9, 2017, and was adopted unanimously in the House.
The Minister of National Defence became personally engaged in this file in February 2016. On May 18, the Minister of National Defence announced that we would be offering tax relief to all Canadian Armed Forces members who take part in international chief of the defence staff named operations, up to the highest rank of lieutenant-colonel. This change is retroactive to January 2017. In addition, this measure does not affect the hardship allowance, risk allowance, or deployment allowance set out in the National Defence military foreign service instructions. Those payments will continue.
Our women and men in uniform who take part in overseas operations are doing a tremendous job. They are highly skilled and very well trained, and are the pride of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They represent Canada with professionalism and courage, and we are very grateful to them.
Our new policy includes several measures to ensure that our troops get the support they need whether they are transitioning from civilian to military life or back to civilian life at the end of their career.
We put our troops and their families at the heart of this policy by making sure they get the care, support, training, and resources they need to accomplish what we ask of them. The government's new defence policy includes a new vision and a new approach to defence. We provided a clear direction on defence priorities over a 20-year horizon and provided matching long-term investments to fully fund the implementation of our new policy.
The government set out an ambitious but realistic plan to ensure that Canada can respond to current and future defence challenges. Over the next 10 years, annual military spending will rise from $18.9 billion to $32.7 billion. The size of the regular force will grow by 3,500, and the reserve force will be increased by 1,500. We will also invest to grow, maintain, and upgrade Canadian Armed Forces capabilities.
The Minister of National Defence is deeply committed to our troops, and the new defence policy reflects that commitment.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-20 23:02 [p.13081]
Mr. Speaker, we are not questioning the minister's record. We are questioning his trustworthiness. Case in point, the sole-sourcing for 18 Super Hornets where the capability gap is imaginary. We already know that 88% of defence experts and 13 former Royal Canadian Air Force commanders have said there is no capability gap.
We have already seen $12 billion worth of cuts in two budgets under this minister. The government has done a defence policy review, but there is no money to actually resource it. If there is no money to resource it, then it is a book of empty promises.
The minister has been out there doing his tour. Canadians and members of the Canadian Armed Forces are hoping it is his farewell tour, because this is a minister who has gone out, and tried to sell something when we know the money is not in the budget. The Minister of Finance has said that currently the Canadian Armed Forces are properly provisioned. I can tell the House the money is not there to do the things the government says it is going to do.
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-20 23:03 [p.13081]
Mr. Speaker, in a context of complex and unpredictable international security, Canada has to anticipate new threats and new challenges, adapt to the changing context, and act with decisive military capability.
I want to point out that the minister chaired the most important consultation in years in order to develop Canada's new defence policy. His unwavering passion contributed to the plan for Canada's protection, North America's security, and the commitment related to maintaining stability in a constantly changing world for the next 20 years.
As the Chief of the Defence Staff said when the new defence policy was unveiled, this is a good day for people in uniform. Canadian Armed Forces members are happy with the Minister of National Defence and they respect him. That is abundantly clear on the ground. I have seen it many times.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2017-06-19 14:47 [p.12924]
Mr. Speaker, for decades the Canadian government actively discriminated against gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer Canadians. Thousands of public servants and military personnel were fired for their sexual orientation, forced to live double lives or risk loss of employment or even criminal conviction.
I am proud of our government's efforts to build stronger ties with my community, working for rights at home and abroad. However, still more remains to be done. Could the Minister of Justice update us on steps the government is taking to heal the wounds in the LGBTQ2 community?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly proud of the work our government is doing.
In Canada we embrace diversity and inclusion. We have to ensure that everybody has the freedom to be who they are. That is why I am incredibly proud that the Senate passed Bill C-16 last week. I look forward to it receiving royal assent and adding to the Canadian Human Rights Code a prohibition against gender identity and gender expression.
We are doing more. We are looking at historic records and the expungement of them for unjust laws. In this month of pride, I want to celebrate and applaud the—
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-19 14:48 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' mismanagement of the fighter jet replacement has gone from a national scandal to an international embarrassment.
Over the weekend, officials were instructed to meet with aerospace companies in Paris, then they were told to cancel those meetings, and then they were told to reschedule them. The Minister of National Defence has made a complete mess of this file.
Is there anyone on the Liberal benches, anyone at all, who can fix this comedy of errors and actually hold an open competition to replace our aging fighter jets now?
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-19 14:49 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is committed to conducting an open and transparent competition for the permanent replacement of the fleet of fighter jets. This competitive process will help ensure that the members of the Canadian Armed Forces have the best aircraft for the long term, while getting the best value for money and generating the most economic benefits for Canadians. We have begun to develop the bid solicitation process. The initial consultations with the industry will begin in 2017.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal plan to replace Canada's fighter jets has become a real farce, and the farce has even spread to the international stage. That side of the House cannot even organize a simple meeting with representatives from the aerospace industry. On top of that, most stakeholders have lost all confidence in the Minister of National Defence, so this file has become a massive boondoggle.
Does the Prime Minister understand the magnitude of the problem? Will he bring his minister into line and immediately launch an open and transparent process?
View Jean Rioux Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Jean Rioux Profile
2017-06-19 14:50 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague that in the policy statement, the chief of the defence staff said that it was a great day for our men and women in uniform.
Yes, we will ensure that our military personnel have the right equipment to carry out their mission. First and foremost, we have commitments to our NORAD and NATO allies. That is why we want to replace our aging equipment, so that our men and women in uniform can properly carry out their missions at home and abroad.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2017-06-19 14:51 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, nobody trusts the Liberals to deliver on that promise.
The Liberals unveiled their defence and foreign policies, and surprise, surprise, there were no details of a UN peacekeeping mission in either of them. It has been almost a year since the Prime Minister naively promised 600 troops to a vague UN peacekeeping mission. Documents show that the Liberals have turned down five UN leadership roles and will not commit to a single UN mission.
The Prime Minister has said that Canada is back. Now he is backing away from UN peacekeeping missions after stepping back from the fight against ISIS. When will the Prime Minister finally step up and quit embarrassing Canada on the world stage?
View Matt DeCourcey Profile
Lib. (NB)
View Matt DeCourcey Profile
2017-06-19 14:52 [p.12925]
Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, Canada did announce that it was back in the world and will play a significant role in international and multilateral institutions, including as a determined peace-builder returning to peace support operations. That was a commitment of our government, and we will restore Canada's role in peace support missions. We are taking our time, thoughtfully, to decide what mission Canada will lead in. We are doing that because that is what Canadians expect of us.
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