Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-06-20 15:06 [p.21374]
Mr. Speaker, we have all seen the troubling statistics. In 2016, more than one million Canadians had to choose between feeding their family, heating their home, and filling the prescriptions they needed. I have heard similar complaints in my riding of Kitchener-Centre.
In budget 2018, we proudly announced the creation of an advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. Could the Prime Minister please update the House on the progress that our government has made in this area?
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-06-08 12:35 [p.20587]
Mr. Speaker, I have had an opportunity to serve with the member on committee now for a year and to travel with him, and I can say that he is a very good guy. However, the speech was a bit shaky. Let me remind him, because I know he is a new MP like me, and give him a little history lesson. In April 2013, the United Nations had a vote to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty, and 154 countries voted for it, and three countries voted against it. The three countries that voted against the treaty were North Korea, Iran, and Syria. One hundred and fifty-four countries voted for the treaty.
If Canada, under the previous government decided that it was aspirational, that it was good, that it was great to be part of the world community and to sign and adopt that treaty, then my question is simple. Was the government hypocritical then or is it hypocritical now, was it disingenuous then or is it disingenuous now? Could he give me a time frame for when the government was disingenuous and hypocritical? Was it then or now?
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-06-08 12:43 [p.20588]
Mr. Speaker, the only time the photo op was held was in April 2013.
Now that we are talking history, let me remind the hon. member that 154 countries signed to adopt the treaty. As of January 2018, 94 countries have signed and ratified it. Five of the largest arms producers in the world have signed and ratified it: England, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy.
When all of NATO has signed the treaty, the G7 has signed it, and the OECD has signed it, why is there debate over our signing it? You have not given one legitimate reason in your speech. You talked about the robustness of the system. You talked about how good the Canadian system is. If it were so good, why do we not sign and elevate the rest of the world to our standards?
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-06-08 12:49 [p.20589]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Ottawa West—Nepean.
Our government entered office with a mandate to expand Canadian diplomacy and leadership on global issues. We are committed to promoting human rights and fostering peace. We are committed to ensuring that our foreign, defence, development, and trade policies can work hand in hand. It is with this in mind that I am so proud to be part of a government that is committed to an export control system that is transparent and that protects human rights at every stage of the assessment process.
Canada's export control regime is, by international standards, already one we should be very proud of. Canada promotes stringent transparency, and our export regime takes human rights into account during the assessment process. However, while I am proud of what has already been done to build Canada's export control system, I believe that to remain a global leader in human rights, we must continue to do better.
The changes we are proposing in Bill C-47 are about demonstrating Canada's commitment to human rights on the global stage so that we can hold our heads high, knowing that we continue to do our part as we align ourselves with our closest partners and allies in NATO and the G7. In other words, this is about returning Canada to the forefront of international peace and security efforts. As we make these changes, and as we build lasting policies that will advance Canada's engagement on the responsible trade of conventional arms, we need to take the care to ensure that we take an approach that works for Canada. We must build policies that work within the context of Canadian institutions and embark upon an approach to the implementation of the ATT that is practical, long-lasting, and bureaucratically feasible.
This is the first international treaty that explicitly acknowledges the social, economic, and humanitarian consequences of the illicit and unregulated trade in conventional arms. I think it is important to remember that what lies at the heart of this treaty is not bureaucracy or the motivation of partisanship but rather our collective obligation to advance the human security agenda and the international community's collective agreement that we must stand together if we are to protect the rights of those who live in insecure areas and conflict zones.
There has been fearmongering where this treaty is concerned. A debate that should have been centred on the protection of some of the world's most vulnerable people has instead been haunted by hollow, baseless speculation as to how this treaty might interfere with the rights and practices of Canadian gun owners.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said:
This treaty will not diminish anyone's freedom, in fact the treaty recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes.
Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our constitution.
This treaty reaffirms the sovereign right of each country to decide for itself, consistent with its own constitutional and legal requirements, how to deal with the conventional arms that are exclusively used within its borders.
If people are legitimate law-abiding gun-owners or users here in Canada, this treaty will not impact them. The United States signed the treaty, and given the centrality of gun ownership in the United States, I highly doubt that it would have done so had there been any domestic impact from this treaty.
For anyone who may have misread or misunderstood the Arms Trade Treaty upon first reading, let me take this opportunity to remind everyone that the preamble to the ATT both reaffirms the sovereign right of any state to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system, and recognizes the legitimate political, security, economic, and commercial interests of states in the international trade in conventional arms.
From day one, this government has believed in evidence-based policy. Not only does that govern our outward-facing policy, but it affects how we operate internally as well.
We do not have unlimited resources or personnel, and we have to use them very smartly and efficiently. NDP members think differently. They want to force officials to review permits any time new information comes to light that could affect the larger decision to grant a permit.
Our officials are experts in their jobs. They know better than any of us in this House what would constitute a meaningful enough change to trigger a review of either an export or brokering permit. We should allow them to focus their energies in areas where changes are significant and carry a real risk of impacting the eventual result. By pulling them off these important reviews to engage in less critical work, we are simply raising the possibility of not catching something in the high-risk cases that could have an extremely detrimental effect and impact on the ground. Legislation must be reasonable.
The minister has the power to review permits, and in fact, the minister has used that power. The Arms Trade Treaty encourages state parties to review permits when relevant information comes to light. When we have experts tell us that they have relevant information that mandates a review, rest assured that a review will be carried out.
At committee, we learned that export experts wanted us to place the Arms Trade Treaty criteria into legislation so that we could have clear guidelines on which the decision to issue export-import permits could be assessed. We did that.
These criteria are the following: a serious violation of international and humanitarian law; a serious violation of international human rights law; an act constituting an offence under international conventions or protocols relating to terrorism to which Canada is a party; an act constituting an offence under international conventions or protocols relating to transnational organized crime to which Canada is a party; serious acts of gender-based violence; or serious acts of violence against women and children. These are mandatory considerations. They must be taken into account before any decision is made.
This amendment is at the very heart of the Arms Trade Treaty as originally envisioned. It is a vital tool to help protect human rights all around the world. Of note is the language on gender-based violence, which goes beyond the requirements of the Arms Trade Treaty. I am particularly proud of this effort on our members' part in committee to ensure that our foreign policy and development agenda align.
What else came out of committee? We now have a “substantial risk” clause in the proposed legislation. What does that mean? It would bind all future governments to the higher standards we are setting out in this proposed legislation. This clause would prevent the government from allowing for export or brokering if there were a substantial risk that it would lead to any of the acts I have previously listed. Prior to this amendment, there was no prohibition on allowing for export or brokering under these circumstances. It simply had to be considered as a factor.
The Arms Trade Treaty is a powerful tool, and acceding to it is a meaningful statement of our values. It is a way we can keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists and those who seek to do harm to Canada and its allies. The Arms Trade Treaty is a way we can reduce the risk that the trade of arms at the international level will be used to commit genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
As Canadians, we are blessed to live in a country where our strength is not measured only by our excellent defence forces or our resilient and growing economy. Our strength is measured by the people who inhabit this land who want to do good, not only in Canada but around the world. Our citizens demand that we engage with the world and that we continue to strive for peace and justice. That is the Canadian way, and that is the reason this government is going to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-06-08 12:59 [p.20591]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member asked that question. I too also enjoy working with him.
I am burdened by science. I am burdened by facts, and here are the facts.
The U.S. signed that treaty. The nuance in the American political system is that to ratify a treaty requires two-thirds of the vote in the Senate. That is why the majority of treaties are never ratified, but that does not mean that they do not follow the treaty. They do follow the treaty. The G7 countries follow the treaty. NATO follows the treaty. Our allies follow the treaty. The OECD follows the treaty.
What I have been hearing from the other side is about the strength and the robustness of the system. If it is strong and it is robust, why do we not share our best practices with the rest of the world? Why do we not accede to this treaty? Why do we not help those countries that also want to join collectively, in collective security around the world, with our best practices to sign this treaty?
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-06-08 13:02 [p.20591]
Mr. Speaker, I know the difference between signing and ratifying. The United States has signed it, but the nuance of its particular system is a bit different, but it has adhered to the treaty.
I know the NDP has difficulty understanding economics, so let me explain a bit about economics. When the member talks about loopholes, what he is specifically talking about is the United States, from what I gather. The reason for this treaty is to close loopholes, to make sure we aspire to a treaty that is collective among the world nations, the G7, NATO, and its allies.
My colleague is trying to use a different way to ask the question, so let me answer the question directly. We have 2,500 different arrangements with the United States. We have been partners and we have been allies. We have fought two world wars together. We fought the Korean War. We have been in other multilateral situations where we fought side by side. Our defence industries are intertwined and are cross-border; 63,000 jobs in Canada depend on the defence industry; it adds $6.7 billion to our collective GDP; and 640 small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada depend on this industry.
What I can honestly say to the member is that this treaty will allow us to accede to a higher norm that is presently available, but it will also set an example for the rest of the world, for those countries that are all struggling to find a way to accede to this treaty. We would share our best practices, and we would make sure that this treaty prevents war and the alteration of international human rights.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-05-03 14:59 [p.19098]
Mr. Speaker, our government knows that Canada's biggest strength is its resilient, hard-working people. Innovation and technology continue to change the way we live and work. The people of Kitchener Centre, Ontario, and Canada are facing new challenges and new opportunities.
More than ever before, opportunities must be available to acquire the skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
Can the minister tell the House what our government is doing to ensure that Ontarians and all Canadians get the skills they need?
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-04-30 15:15 [p.18943]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present Petition E-1364, spearheaded by a remarkable young woman, a constituent of mine, Niara van Gaalen. Ms. van Gaalen is a community leader in the environmental and conservation movement, and has laid out an ambitious plan in this petition to dramatically enhance Canada's wilderness protection and reduce our environmental footprint.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute her passion, drive, and ambition as she pursues this cause that is near and dear to her heart.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-04-26 14:14 [p.18825]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark World Immunization Week. This week, organizations and individuals around the world come together to highlight the work needed to ensure that every person is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
I am proud to say that immunization and global health are always at the heart of Canadian development efforts. Canadian support for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has helped immunize more than 500 million children and saved seven million lives to date.
Our country is also helping to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus and contributes to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
Canada's contribution to global immunization efforts saves lives. Vaccines save lives here in Canada, too. Vaccines are safe, and they work. They are vital to public health. World Immunization Week is a great opportunity to remind loved ones to make vaccines a priority and to ensure that vaccinations are up to date.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-04-23 18:34 [p.18665]
Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to take a moment to offer my condolences to the victims of the van attack in Toronto. My thoughts and those of my constituents of Kitchener Centre are with the victims, their families, and the first responders on the scene.
Our government supports researchers, scientists, and organizations that drive fundamental research as we seek to foster the innovation which will create a better world for everyone to live in.
We believe in science. We believe in the power of ideas and the benefits of technological innovation and investment, and in supporting the work of the brightest minds as they come together to create a bright future for Canada.
That is why I am so proud to rise in the House today to talk about our 2018 budget. It is a budget that builds on our work to foster innovation while ensuring that economic growth and social progress benefit the lives of every Canadian.
Innovation is everywhere, and innovation is certainly at the heart of my own community of Kitchener-Waterloo. As we speak, Redtree Robotics is busy developing chipsets that enable users to connect sensors to robots, Miovision is finding solutions for advanced traffic signal operations, Thalmic Labs is on a mission to merge people and technology, and Clearpath Robotics is working to develop self-driving vehicles and to get drones to factory floors.
In order for us to remain at the forefront of global innovation breakthroughs and scientific discovery, we need to keep this momentum going. We need to be investing now to support our future thinkers, scientists, and innovators.
That is why I am so proud that budget 2018 proposes a historic investment in support of researchers, in big data and in the equipment Canadian researchers need in order to succeed and become world leaders in their field. This includes more than $1.7 billion over five years to support researchers, and $1.3 billion over five years that will be invested in labs, equipment, and the infrastructure they need.
As we invest in the next generation of innovators, Canada is also responding to the ongoing shift toward a knowledge-driven global economy. Brilliant minds will travel to wherever they can find a good home. We intend for Canada to be that home.
In budget 2018, our government proposes a new investment of $210 million over five years, with $50 million per year ongoing, to support the Canada Research Chairs. This program supports researchers and will help Canada attract and retain the best minds in the world, in the hope that we can benefit from their energy, their skills, and their potential. Their initiative will help Canada shine on the world stage.
Fostering innovation and investing in technology also fosters unprecedented opportunities to change social norms and foster equality.
Speaking at the SAP Next-Gen program last year, the UN Women deputy executive director highlighted that innovation, technology, and partnerships are prerequisites for the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
Social progress and innovation must go hand in hand. When small, medium-sized, and large companies, government, academic institutions, and not-for-profit organizations come together to generate bold ideas, all Canadians benefit from more well-paying jobs, groundbreaking research, and a world-leading innovation economy which fosters opportunities and improves quality of life.
Bold ideas will come out of collaborations like the ones proposed in budget 2018. In the budget, the government is proposing to provide $140 million over five years to enhance support of collaborative innovative projects involving businesses, colleges, and polytechnics.
Our government is working hard to make sure that every Canadian has the opportunity to be part of the success in an innovation-driven economy.
In part, this involves ensuring that Canadians are given opportunities to build new skills which will help them adapt to a changing economy.
Budget 2018 also contains measures that will protect workers in this new environment. In it, the government proposes legislative amendments to the Wage Earner Protection Program Act that seek to make the program fairer and to increase the maximum payment to seven weeks from four.
Our plan is working. Unemployment rates are at historic lows and we lead the G7 in economic growth. Of particular note is that over the past six months, there has been a 16% drop in El claimants from the manufacturing and utilities sector. We are making progress, but there is still much work left to do if we want to unlock Canada's true potential.
In Canada today, women earn 31% less than men. For every dollar of hourly wages a man working full-time earns in Canada, a woman in the same position earns 88 cents. Our government knows that, when women have more opportunities to earn a decent income, everyone benefits. To advance women's equality, budget 2018 will introduce a new proactive pay equity bill. To close the gender wage gap, the government will adopt measures in budget 2018 that enable women to access leadership positions and encourage them to choose non-traditional careers.
Women still only receive 38% of doctoral degrees, and in the STEM fields, that number drops to 20%. The participation rate for women in the economy is 10% lower than it is for men. The Canadian gender wage gap is larger than the OECD average. Just 25% of senior management positions are held by women. Not only are these numbers unacceptable, but this gap is potentially damaging to our economy. Clearly, we must do better.
We recognize there is a need to deliver positive systemic change. Innovation in every sector works best when diverse voices have the opportunity to be part of the conversation. It was with this in mind that in budget 2018 our government has committed to improving diversity in the research community through investments in the granting councils, data collection initiatives, early career researchers, new gender equality planning, and to investments in new El benefits through a use it or lose it incentive which encourages a second parent in two-parent families to share the work of raising their children more equally and allow greater flexibility for new moms who want to return to work sooner.
We have also committed to investments which will help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses through the new women entrepreneurship strategy, and to supporting the advancement of women in senior positions by publicly recognizing corporations committed to promoting women leaders.
We live in an era of social progress, economic prosperity, and technological change. I am proud to live in a time and place in which the celebration of diversity and the commitment to strive to equality are at the heart of policy-making, and in which we realize that our country's economic advancement and our work towards the elimination of barriers to equality must go hand in hand.
As we foster this innovation, as Canadians explore new ideas and build new paths to the future, I believe that the policies of budget 2018 will work to ensure that our country has the brainpower, the diversity of thought, and the potential to continue Canada's success tomorrow and well into the future.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, on March 14, the world lost a brilliant mind. Stephen Hawking sought to better understand the underlying laws that govern the universe.
He probed the fabric of our reality, and along the way he helped to make theoretical physics and cosmology accessible to millions, acted as a champion for those with disabilities, and became a beloved pop culture icon.
In my community of Kitchener—Waterloo, Mr. Hawking will be best remembered for his work at the Perimeter Institute, where he was a distinguished visiting research chair.
People around the world will remember his scientific diligence, his intellectual honesty, his humour, and his work on black hole theory.
On behalf of Kitchener—Waterloo and the House, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to the Hawking family and to all of those with whom Mr. Hawking explored the farthest reaches of our universe.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-02-09 12:07 [p.17031]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by dozens of Canadian scientists, health researchers, and members of civil society who work in the little discussed field of neglected tropical diseases. These petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to join the global movement under way since 2012 to eliminate and control NTDs by signing the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases. The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to take a leadership role in reaching the 2020 control and elimination goals outlined in the declaration, thereby significantly improving the lives of millions of people worldwide.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2018-02-06 14:13 [p.16850]
Mr. Speaker, this week is an opportunity to bring together people of all ages from across Canada to celebrate and discuss our development achievements.
This week is International Development Week.
One of the pillars in our government's efforts to tackle poverty and inequality is education.
Access to high-quality basic education improves children's lives and gives them a real and fair chance to succeed and achieve their potential.
Last week, Canada announced a pledge of $180 million to the Global Partnership for Education, which would strengthen education systems in developing countries and provide support for girls' education.
All week we will be acknowledging Canada's work through the hashtag #SDI2018.
I wish everyone a happy International Development Week.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-11-02 18:25 [p.14941]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of this House from all parties who spoke to Motion No. 132.
As I said initially, the purpose of Motion No. 132 is to improve outcomes and to increase the public benefit from federally funded health research.
While I am proud of the work I have done on this motion, there are many others who have been working on improving Canada's health research regime for much longer than I have, and I know they stand ready to assist the health committee and the government as we move forward to improve health research here in Canada.
I would like to thank the following people and apologize to anyone I may miss: Jack Nickerson from Doctors Without Borders; Rachel Kiddell-Monroe and Chloe Hogg from Universities Allied for Essential Medicines; Dr. Michael Clarke from the University of Western Ontario; Richard Elliott from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network; Alison Krentel from the Bruyère Research Institute; Deb McFarland from Emory University; Angela Quinlan, Marilyn Coolen, and Marguerite Keeley from the Grandmothers Advocacy Network; HealthCareCAN, the Health Charities Coalition of Canada; and all of those working in health research here at home and around the world who have spoken to my team about health research and global health initiatives over the last year. It has been an honour to work side by side with them to ensure that people everywhere are supported by medicines and medical innovation.
Some of the brightest minds of this generation are working tirelessly to eradicate disease, find better treatments, and advocate for policies that will lead to better health outcomes for all. These researchers and advocates deserve to be lauded, and the least that we can do as policy-makers in this House is to ensure that they have the research tools they need to succeed.
As we speak, health researchers here in Canada are working to tackle antimicrobial resistance, playing a leadership role in a global effort to contain the threat posed by a generation of drug-resistant microbes. Canadian researchers are researching infection, healthy pregnancy, cardiovascular health, diabetes, respiratory health, cancer, tuberculosis, and obesity. They are also working on the latest preventative, diagnostic, and treatment approaches to neurodegenerative diseases causing dementia. Quite simply, they are working on the treatments and cures that will make our families and communities healthier. Taxpayers, researchers, and patients alike deserve to know that there is an efficient and effective system to ensure that the benefits of federally funded research reach those who need them the most.
In the words of Andrew Petter, president of Simon Fraser University, “Innovation isn't a magic bullet, it requires a work plan”. Motion No. 132 offers this House and our government the opportunity to step back and examine Canada's work plan. As we invest in science, strengthen health systems, and set priorities for a generation of researchers, I hope that all members of this House will come together to commit to ensuring that policy-makers have a firm grasp on Canada's research priorities and that Canada has the best research framework possible.
View Raj Saini Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Raj Saini Profile
2017-10-19 14:49 [p.14310]
Mr. Speaker, for two years, our government has been working to help grow the economy and strengthen the middle class. The economy is now stronger and growing in ways not seen in over a decade. Canadian businesses and investors can have confidence in our dropping unemployment, our rising GDP, and the strengthening of our investment culture and the environment.
Can the Minister of Finance provide the House with an update on our government's plan to ensure that the middle class and those working hard to join it can benefit from this growth?
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