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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 194

CONTENTS

Wednesday, June 14, 2017




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148 
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NUMBER 194 
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1st SESSION 
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42nd PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayer


[Statements bu Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

     It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of O Canada, led by the hon. member for Edmonton Centre.
    [Members sang the national anthem]

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Quebec National Holiday

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec is the emblem of our pride, and we have good reason to be proud. We are proud to be a creative, determined, and welcoming people.
    We are proud to be a people who, for over 400 years, has welcomed anyone who wanted to join us with open arms.
    We are proud to be nation that continues to speak the most beautiful language in the world, that sings in that language, that puts our own stamp on it, and that stands ready to defend it against any threat.
    We are proud of our artists who amaze the whole world and who make us dream, laugh, and cry.
    We are proud of our bold and creative business people and of our workers who put their hearts into what they do.
    We are proud of our tight-knit families and of those who join us and make us more diverse.
    We are proud to be Québécois.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to wish all Quebeckers a happy national holiday.

[English]

Philippine Independence Day

     Mr. Speaker, on Monday the Filipino community here in Canada and around the world came together to celebrate Philippine Independence Day.
    I was honoured to raise the flag to celebrate this occasion at City Hall in Toronto, alongside Consul General Prospero, my hon. colleagues the members for York Centre and Scarborough Centre, and Mayor John Tory, as well as many other leaders from the community.
    In my riding of Eglinton—Lawrence, we have a vibrant Filipino community, with outdoor festivals ranging from the Taste of Manila, which the Prime Minister attended last year, to the PIDC picnic, to the Victoria Invitational Basketball Tournament, to media outlets like Pinoy Radio and Pinoy Dreams, to wonderful local businesses like Cusina Lounge and Sampaguita, to FV Foods service providers. We have so much to be proud about when it comes to the Filipino community.
    I would like to wish all Filipino Canadians and all those celebrating around the world a happy Independence Day.
    Mabuhay.

  (1405)  

Charity Work in Thailand

     Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to the international charity work of two of my constituents, Dave and Heather Heppner.
    In 2005 the Heppners took their first trip to Thailand, where they witnessed the terrible refugee situation along the border of war-torn Myanmar.
    On their return to Canada, the Heppners founded the charity Global Neighbors Canada. To date, Global Neighbors Canada has completed over 30 projects, at a cost of $2 million. These projects include new schools, school renovations, new dormitories, orphanages, study halls, a safe house for girls, and, most recently, a beautiful 24-bed hospital.
    Their charity also also supports a migrant school in Thailand, teachers at Mae La refugee camp, and a small orphanage in Myanmar. These ongoing commitments total $70,000 annually.
    One hundred per cent of the donations to Global Neighbors Canada goes to projects in Thailand and Myanmar. Not one single cent goes to the charity's administration.
    On behalf of all members of the House, I thank Dave and Heather for their commitment to providing assistance to those in need. May God bless them as they proceed with this work.

National Blood Donor Week

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to recognize National Blood Donor Week and the thousands of Canadian blood donors who are the lifeblood of their communities.
    National Blood Donor Week takes place from June 11 to June 17 and was officially enacted by the House of Commons in 2008.
    As Canada celebrate its 150th anniversary, we celebrate every donor, volunteer, and supporter during National Blood Donor Week. We thank them for representing the best of our country with their generosity and spirit. Donating blood is a genuine act of altruism and a truly selfless gift. It is amazing how such a small act of kindness can have such a big impact.

[Translation]

    Over 105,000 new donors will be needed this year alone to treat patients in Canadian hospitals. A new donor is needed every minute to save a life. Some 50% of Canadians will need blood products themselves one day or know someone who will. I encourage all Canadians to take advantage of National Blood Donor Week to thank someone—
    The hon. member for Outremont.

[English]

Persecution of Roma

     Mr. Speaker, in Italy last month, three young Roma sisters were burned to death while they slept. Graffiti celebrating “3 fewer Roma” subsequently appeared on the walls of the capital.

[Translation]

    This is only one example, and certainly a serious one, of the violence, the hatred, and the persecution that the Roma are still enduring today, all over Europe.

[English]

    Canada still applies policies that turn back Roma travellers when other people from the same home countries are allowed into ours with no constraints.
    The Canadian Roma community has made repeated appeals to the Prime Minister to stand up against the normalization of hate against Roma, to honour Canada's commitment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and to follow the example of the European Parliament in recognizing August 2 as Roma genocide remembrance day.
    Let us hope that happens.

Summer in Brampton North

    Mr. Speaker, summer is right around the corner. For many, summer is a time to go on a long holiday, head to the beach, or start a new hobby. School is done for the year, and the barbecues are fired up. For most of us, summer does not mean a two-month vacation, but it does give us something to look forward to. The weather is great, and people spend more time outdoors and get involved in their communities.
     For me, summer means I get to better focus on the people of Brampton North by being in my Brampton office more often, by attending more community events, and by hearing from the residents of Brampton North right at their doorsteps.
    A year and a half into our government's mandate, we are working hard for Canadians. We have cut taxes, improved our immigration system, and given young families the support that they need.
    However, our work is not done yet. We know there is much more to do and we look forward to re-engaging with the people of Brampton North so that we can better serve them.

Calgary Stampede

    Mr. Speaker, soon we will rise for the summer, and that means it is almost time for the world-famous Calgary Stampede.
    For 105 years, people have gathered from all walks of life and from all around the world to take in the greatest outdoor show on earth. Most people know that the stampede is a unique celebration of western heritage, culture, and community spirit, attracting over a million annual visitors. The stampede is at the heart of what makes Calgary such a special place to live and to visit.
    The stampede also reaches into my suburban riding of Calgary Rocky Ridge, where I will attend stampede events hosted by community associations, churches, businesses, seniors' residences, and neighbours, including the annual Ranchlands Community Association bike-decorating contest, parade, and breakfast.
    There is something for everyone during stampede, so I hope to see many of my colleagues. On behalf of my constituents, an early “Yahoo!”, and I will see them in July.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Municipal Libraries

    Mr. Speaker, the city of Laval has nine libraries and one bookmobile. Laval offers its residents a large number of activities during the summer, including free lectures and exhibitions.
    Today, I want to turn the spotlight onto this institution that is showing our young people how to be successful in learning and how to learn to be successful by reading. It is a place where a plentiful flow of ideas and intellectual delights bring wonderful moments to the families of Laval, who can enjoy it all without breaking the bank.
    Louis Aragon said that literature is the face of a nation. How eloquent, and how true. We must celebrate this institution that is thousands of years old and whose foundation will always be timeless.
    If knowledge builds confidence, reading brings meaningful balance to the development of the intellect.

Youth in Marc-Aurèle-Fortin

    Mr. Speaker, last month, it was my pleasure to announce a federal government grant of more than $1 million for one of the jewels of my riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, the Éco-Nature centre. I am proud that our government is supporting an organization whose mission is to educate and raise awareness among our youth, who will have a critical role to play as stewards of the natural environment.
    I would like to take this opportunity to wish those young people all the success in the world. In the coming weeks, they will be benefiting from the rich experience that the Canada summer jobs program provides. This program is key to local organizations and businesses and makes it possible for almost 200 young people in my riding to gain specific work experience. This summer, it will be my great pleasure to go meet each one of those young people, who are our future and our pride.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, this afternoon this House will vote on a Liberal motion to defeat Wynn's law, a law that would simply require prosecutors to lead evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants.
    During the justice committee's study on Wynn's law, not one witness could provide a credible example of when it would be appropriate for prosecutors to withhold evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants, yet rather than fixing the loophole that cost Constable Wynn his life, the government is planning to leave it open, out of concern that bail hearings might be slightly delayed.
    The bail hearing of Constable Wynn's killer was a highly efficient one, but one with fatal consequences. Potentially adding a few extra minutes to some bail hearings is a small price to pay compared to the loss of Constable Wynn.

Canada 150 Project

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to celebrate Sullivan Heights Secondary School teacher Marc Pelech, a former winner of the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence. He has produced a powerful Canada 150 project with the Arts Council of Surrey.
    Entitled, “Our Time”, the project captures the strength and ambitions of 250 young South Asian women through five years of photographs and written narratives. It symbolizes the progress our country has made in promoting diversity and equality for all women, and ensures this progress is continued in the next 150 years.
    I thank Mr. Pelech and all the young participants for their contributions. Happy Canada 150.

Anne Michelle Curtis

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise in recognition of the late Anne Michelle Curtis, an Alberta native and former resident of New Waterford, who lost her life two years ago at the age of 45 while saving a group of children from a riptide off of Dunvegan, Nova Scotia.
     August 2, 2015, Michelle noticed her nine-year-old son was among a few other children being pulled out to sea in a strong riptide. Without hesitation, Michelle swam to help her son and then headed back into the deep water to help another child. All children were rescued. Michelle made it back to shore, but encountered difficulties. Despite efforts of medical professionals, she died on the beach.
    As a palliative care worker, a hospice volunteer, Michelle dedicated her life to helping others during the most fragile times of their lives. Michelle was often described by those who knew her as ambitious, energetic, a nurturer and giver, and Michelle referred to her children as her greatest accomplishment.
    This past Monday, Michelle's husband Karl Curtis accepted the Medal of Bravery from the Governor General on her behalf.

  (1415)  

Retirement Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Elaine Rouleau, who will be retiring this month after more than 30 years serving the students of Carleton University, including the past 18 years as the founding administrator of the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs.
    While her job title may have been “administrator”, she quickly became the heart and soul of the Kroeger College, providing gentle encouragement always and a stern warning when needed. In short, she was a second mother to all.
     Together with directors Eileen Saunders, Calum Carmichael, Chris Dornan and Barry Wright, Elaine has seen her students go on to leadership positions in the public and private sectors, in NGOs, international organizations, and two members of the House.
    On behalf of myself, the member from Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan, and every Kroeger kid whose student experience was enriched by Elaine Rouleau, I thank her and wish her and her husband Denis a happy and healthy retirement filled with lots of time with the grandchildren.

[Translation]

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, for their excellent work in creating a national housing strategy and legislation for Canadians with disabilities. I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage Canadians to join this discussion.

[English]

    Over 90,000 New Brunswickers live with a mobility disability and the province has the oldest population in Canada. Therefore, it is vital we address the importance of identifying and eliminating barriers to accessibility, including housing.
     I have heard from seniors in my riding. They want to remain independent and stay at home as long as possible, be active in their communities as they grow older, welcome people of all abilities and ages into their homes, and they want to age in place. I believe VisitAbility can be very positive step forward toward the future of housing in Canada.
    I would also like to recognize Ability New Brunswick for its hard work and commitment to strong collaboration with government, its research and public policy efforts, as it continues to champion the concept of VisitAble Housing, something that benefits everyone.

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, it has been one year since the Special Committee on Pay Equity tabled its report, unironically entitled, “It's Time to Act”. The government's response? It will kick the can down a couple of years because women have been waiting over 40 years for this fundamental human right. What is a couple more years?
     It has also completely bungled efforts to remove gender-based discrimination from the Indian Act, when indigenous women have already been waiting 50 years.
    The right to equality is a cornerstone of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but sadly the government has disappointed time and time again when it comes to making things better for women. Grandiose announcements without immediate and meaningful funding do not help Canadian women today, and we are tired of waiting.
    It is time for the so-called feminist government to walk its talk. It is 2017. It is time to act.

U.S. House Majority Whip

    Mr. Speaker, I ask members of the House to keep their thoughts and prayers with the U.S. House majority whip Steve Scalise who was wounded this morning when a gunman opened fire at a charity baseball practice near Washington, DC.
    Thankfully, his wounds are not serious. Prior to entering hospital he was in good spirits and talking to his wife. He also had praise for the police and first responders who came to his aid.
    Several other people, including two Capitol Hill police officers, were also injured in this shooting, for which there is as yet no known motive. Other lives could have been lost had it not been for the heroic efforts of law enforcement.
    We stand with our American friends and colleagues in times of tragedy. At this time, we are praying for those who were shot, their families, and those who work with them each and every day.

  (1420)  

Pride

    Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, for only the second time in Canada's history, we will raise the Pride flag on Parliament Hill.
     Raising the flag to wave proudly on Parliament Hill is an important symbol of our commitment to ensuring Canada is safe, inclusive, and welcoming. With the passage of Bill C-16 from this place and Canada's leadership as the co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, important steps are being taken to recognize this commitment.
    With the reported persecution of the LGBTQ2 community in places such as Chechnya, celebrating Pride affirms our efforts to advance the rights of LGBTQ2 people around the world.
     Across Canada, I invite all Canadians to join the Pride celebrations. I look forward to the Toronto Pride parade, Faith+Pride hosted by the MCC, the Trans March and the Dyke March, started by Lisa Hayes and Lesha Van Der Bij.
     Pride is a time to celebrate, support, and remember.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, in less than two years, the Prime Minister has turned a Conservative balanced budget into decades of Liberal deficits.
     Leaving my kids with his credit card bill is bad enough, but now the Bank of Canada has indicated it might raise interest rates soon, something the U.S. has already done. Raising the interest rates by just a quarter point would mean at least a billion dollars in new interest charges.
     Could the Prime Minister explain what new tax hikes he is planning or which programs he is going to cut to pay back all the Liberal debt?
    Mr. Speaker, for 10 years, we had a Conservative government that gave boutique tax credits to the wealthiest Canadians, that neglected the middle class, and that had the worst record on growth in decades.
    The fact is that we lowered taxes for the middle class and raised them on the wealthiest 1%, which those members voted against. We delivered a Canada child benefit that put more money in the pockets of Canadians. We have created record numbers of jobs over the past year.
     We are working hard to deliver on the ambitious promises we made to Canadians, and we are seeing that on the ground.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, he is spending fast and loose and leaving future generations of Canadians with his bill.

[Translation]

    For weeks, we have been asking the Prime Minister to reject the advice of his officials and take the sensible decision to make the national sex offender registry public. Like me, the Prime Minister is a father. Both of us recognize the importance of protecting our children.
    Why is the Prime Minister not giving all parents access to an important tool like the national sex offender registry?
    Mr. Speaker, the safety of the public and our children is always our priority, and I know this is true for all members of the House.
    Canada already has a national flagging system, created and funded by the Chrétien government, and a national sex offender registry, created and funded by the Martin government. These key tools make it possible to ensure that high-risk offenders are identified and tracked by the police and prosecutors. We are looking at this proposed database to ensure that it will protect our children.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister suggested that he did not have the money to give parents access to information about dangerous criminals living near their kids. This makes no sense. After all, he has found money to renovate offices, to move his friends from Toronto, and even for luxury vacations.
     Why will the Prime Minister not do the right thing, help parents protect their kids, and create the publicly accessible child sex offender database?
    Mr. Speaker, we take the protection of our kids and our communities very seriously, like every government would.
     Canada already has a national flagging system, created and funded by the Chrétien government, and a national sex offender registry, created and funded by the Martin government. These are key tools for ensuring that high-risk offenders are identified and tracked by police and prosecutors.
    The Harper government passed legislation to create a proposed new database, but it never actually set it up and never funded it. We are examining the facts about it, in consultation with provinces and territories, victims groups, experts, and other stakeholders.

  (1425)  

[Translation]

Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the Prime Minister told the House, it is the cabinet that orders national security reviews of foreign takeovers. Plenty of experts are wondering why no such review was ordered for the sale of Norsat.
    Now he is telling us that the United States was consulted, but the White House, the Defense department, the Treasury department, and the U.S. embassy are all refusing to comment.
    Why is the Prime Minister misleading Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, every transaction under the Investment Canada Act is subjected to a detailed assessment by all of the entities responsible for national security.
    In this particular case, as I said, we consulted our allies, including the United States. Our national security experts examined the agreement and the technology and concluded that the deal did not raise any national security concerns.
    We will never compromise on national security.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time the Prime Minister has misled Canadians when it comes to how our allies have reacted to one of his decisions. When he withdrew Canada's jets from the fight against ISIS, he claimed that none of our allies objected. However, we now know that is not true.
    Here at home, we know all about his “consultations”. Informing someone of a decision is not a “consultation”.
    If the Prime Minister did consult the United States on the Norsat sale, as he claims, could he tell us if any objections were raised and exactly who he consulted with?
    Mr. Speaker, every single transaction is subject to a national security assessment. This is a multi-step assessment process, and the process was followed.
    We take the advice and feedback from our national security agencies very seriously, and based on that advice, we proceeded with this transaction. In this particular case, our security agencies did consult with key allies, including the United States. I can reassure the member and the entire House that we will never compromise on national security.

Government Appointments

    Now it is an assessment, Mr. Speaker.
    Yesterday we introduced a motion to remove partisanship from the appointment of officers of Parliament. The Liberals said they welcomed it but had a structural problem with our motion. To show our sincerity, we amended our own motion to address their stated concern.
    Will the Prime Minister accept this reasonable, amended proposal, or is he just physically incapable of putting an end to partisan appointments?
    Mr. Speaker, we created an independent, open nomination process when we came to office after a decade of partisanship from the previous government. That is why we have been able to put forward appointments that reflect the diversity of this country: over 60% female appointments and significant numbers of indigenous and visible minorities appointments.
    We are going to continue to follow all appropriate processes, including consulting with all parties and having a vote on the proper processes for officers of Parliament.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister suggested to Angela Merkel that all references to the Paris agreement be removed from the G20 declaration, and this is a fact, not simply because the German newspaper Der Spiegel confirmed it and then yesterday reconfirmed it but also because the Prime Minister has not denied this specific fact. What is less clear is why. Why did the Prime Minister do this?
    It is very simple, Mr. Speaker. I did no such thing. I clearly expressed to Angela Merkel that we need to continue to work together on fighting climate change, on remaining committed to Paris. As the German government confirmed today, “The prime minister did not ask [Chancellor Merkel] to delete all references to the climate agreement from the draft G20 document.”
    Canada remains committed to the climate agreement, committed to Paris, and we will continue to push for that at the G20, at the G7, and at every opportunity we get, because that is how Canada leads.

Freedom of the Press

    Mr. Speaker, there is an easy way to clarify all this, because the Prime Minister could very simply release the text of his part of that conversation with Merkel, but of course, he will not do that, because he knows that it is a fact that he and his government are a fraud when it comes to climate change.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Speaking of journalists, will the Prime Minister do what needs to be done to pass the bill to protect journalistic sources before the end of the session?

[English]

    Will the government ensure that the protection of journalistic sources--
    The Right Hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, we remain committed to the Paris accord. I have said that to every world leader I have spoken to. We have pushed for that. We were an instrumental part in making sure it was a strong statement of support from the six G7 countries that are moving forward with Paris. We continue to push so it becomes part of the G20 communiqué. We know that leading on climate change is what Canadians expect and is exactly what this government is doing.
    With regard to freedom of the press, we continue to defend and promote journalistic freedom, which is why we are supporting the Senate proposal.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the question is whether we are going to get it through before the end of term, and we do not have an answer to that.
    The Prime Minister said he stood by his defence minister's account of the role he played in Afghanistan and that there was no conflict when he blocked an inquiry into the detainee scandal. The Ethics Commissioner has just reported that the defence minister “downplayed” his role in the transfer of detainees.
    What consequences will the minister face for having misled the Ethics Commissioner, or is the Prime Minister just fine with hiding things from Mary Dawson?
    Mr. Speaker, the issue of Afghan detainees is one we take very seriously in this House. That is why there have been no fewer than six investigations into that issue, including one that is ongoing. Indeed, when we were offered, as NDP and Liberals, the opportunity to go through 40,000 documents directly pertaining to that, the NDP refused to do it.
    We engaged with that. We take very seriously those responsibilities. We will continue to take very seriously what Canadians expect from this government and from this party.

[Translation]

Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, in the scandal involving the sale of a high-tech firm to Chinese interests without having to go through a national security review, the Prime Minister keeps saying that he consulted key allies.
     The problem is that the senior American officials consulted say they were never in fact consulted. They are more concerned about Canada’s national security than perhaps the Prime Minister is.
    Can the Prime Minister, who seems so sure of himself, tell us when he met these people, whom he talked to, and at what time?
    Mr. Speaker, every single transaction is subject to a national security review. This is a multi-step review process, and the process was followed.
     We take the advice and feedback from our national security agencies very seriously. We trust the work they do. It was based on their advice that we went ahead with this transaction.
     In this particular case, the security agencies consulted the United States. I want to assure the member and the House that we will never compromise national security.
    Mr. Speaker, I will repeat my very simple and very clear question: if the Prime Minister seems to be so sure of himself, is he willing to table all the documents and tell us who he consulted and when?
    Mr. Speaker, we take our national security responsibilities very seriously.
     We work with and listen to our national security agencies. We trust our national security agencies, which followed the process, reviewed the transaction, consulted our allies, including the United States, and recommended going ahead with this transaction.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's story on the Norsat takeover is getting murkier and murkier by the day, indeed, the hour.
    We know these facts. It was the Liberal cabinet alone that chose to forgo the national security review. That is a fact. It is a fact that the Prime Minister is claiming that our allies have somehow approved this, yet those same U.S. allies are saying publicly that they have grave concerns, so something is not adding up.
    We ask again. Take away the speaking notes, I would encourage the Prime Minister, and answer the question in the House: Who did they consult with? Which allies--
    The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is in place, and has been in place for many years, a process whereby national security concerns are addressed and followed, and the fact is, our security agencies went through the proper process in regard to this transaction, including consulting with our allies, including the United States, and signalled that we could move forward with this transaction.
    That is the process that is followed. We will never compromise national security, and as the member knows, we followed the process in this situation.
    Mr. Speaker, why will the Prime Minister not be open and transparent in this House about who exactly was consulted on this deal? Which elements of the U.S. administration were consulted? What did they say?
    We know that through this transaction, the Liberals are trying to appease Chinese official interests as they move forward with a free trade deal with China. We know that, but we are concerned about Canadian security, and we are concerned about North American security. Who did they consult with? Let us know.
    Mr. Speaker, we take very seriously our national security and always will. That is why we ensure that the process is rigorously followed for transactions of this type. Our national security agencies were engaged with this process, consulted with our allies, and did the work they are supposed to do.
    On this side of the House, we trust our national security agencies. We believe in their capacity to do their job as mandated by the government, and we respect the fact that they are able to do their work in full respect of the law and the principles Canada lays out.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Prime Minister very carefully today. This is not a question about trust in our national security agencies. This is about the competence and the negligence within the cabinet of the Government of Canada.
    It is simply this. They have many connections, which they laud all the time in terms of talking to the United States. Did any single cabinet minister on the other side give a heads-up to their counterpart in the United States and say, “Is this a good idea, because I want to do a gut check?”
    Does he know who is doing a gut check? It is the Canadian public.
    Who did they talk to, and what did they learn?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is wrong. This is about trusting our national security agencies to do their jobs and to follow the processes. Our national security agencies engaged in the rigorous process we have. They made determinations based on their investigations, based on conversations with our allies, including the United States, and reported to the government that it would be something that could move forward.
    That involves trusting our civil servants and our national security agencies, which on this side of the House we do.
    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian public elected a government to do exactly what we are supposed to do here, which is to take the information from the public service and make sure that the right determination is being made. They have failed abysmally in this decision-making.
    I have sat at this table, and I understand fully the importance of weighing so many different variables in making these decisions. They are hiding behind the skirts of the national security agencies, because they are afraid that they are going to be seen to not be appeasing the Chinese government because of whatever they want to do. This is wrong.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take this occasion to wish all public servants a happy National Public Service Week.
     After 10 years of a government that did not listen to our public servants, did not respect the work they did, and did whatever it wanted based on ideology and not facts, we are proud that we respect our public servants, that we listen to them, and that we expect them to fulfill their responsibilities with professionalism and accuracy. That is exactly what our national security agencies do every day to protect Canadians and our interests.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, speaking of respect, for two decades the indigenous peoples co-drafted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It has been 10 years since its adoption by the UN General Assembly.
    Last December, the Prime Minister promised all chiefs, once again, that he remained committed to its adoption and implementation, yet on Monday, the Prime Minister suggested that the declaration would be tantamount to colonial imposition. How can the declaration be imposed on us if we wrote it? Which is it, yes or no, will the government support Bill C-262?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government has been clear. We are committed to implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In doing so we will ensure that implementation of the declaration goes beyond mere words. It must be translated into practical benefits on the ground.
    Simply adopting the declaration word for word into law ignores Canada's section 35 framework and the hard work necessary to bring about real change. We are committed to working in consultation and co-operation with indigenous peoples to identify which laws, policies, and practices need to be changed to give full effect to UNDRIP.

Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have approved the foreign takeover of the major B.C. provider of seniors care by Anbang, a huge Chinese conglomerate. They did so despite serious concerns raised by the U.S. and many others about the company's murky ownership structure. Now we see that the chairman of Anbang has been arrested on suspected corruption charges.
    We are talking about the well-being of B.C. seniors. Why did the government fail in its due diligence, and will it revisit its decision to ensure that Canadians are protected?
    Mr. Speaker, the member well knows that B.C.'s regulatory regime is robust and imposes rigorous standards of care on all operators of residential care and assisted living facilities. Cedar Tree has confirmed its strong commitment to the ongoing quality of operations of the Canadian retirement residences and to its health care workers. They will remain subject to provincial oversight of senior care facilities, ensuring that rules for the care of seniors continue to be followed, and will keep the current number of full and part-time jobs.
    Mr. Speaker, we are seeing the interests of Canadians being put behind the interests of the Liberals and the appeasement they want to achieve with the Chinese. Our question is simple. Who in the U.S. did the national security agencies consult with? It is a very simple question. Canadians deserve to know who was consulted with in the United States.
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House we trust our public servants. We trust our national security agencies to do the important work every day of keeping Canadians safe, of defending our interests. Our national security agencies went through the process. They consulted with our allies. They confirmed to us that we could move forward. That is exactly what we do.
     For the member opposite to suggest that somehow our civil servants are not up to the task they are given, that our national security agencies are incapable of doing their jobs, that is quite frankly what we saw for 10 years and why they are now in opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, let us try again. Either the Prime Minister does not know who these national security agencies consulted with, or he is misleading the House. Which one is it? He can tell us right now. If he knows would he please tell the House who these national security agencies consulted with in the United States? Put the talking points away and tell us.
    Mr. Speaker, under the Investment Canada Act, there is a process whereby our national security agencies look at transactions, evaluate them in terms of national interests, consult with allies including the United States in this case, and make a determination on whether or not it is safe to move forward. This process is not a new process that we brought in. It is a process that has existed for many years. Our national security agencies and civil servants have demonstrated their ability to protect Canada's interests and deliver on what we ask them to.
    Mr. Speaker, four months ago, the government rushed to sell senior care facilities in Canada to a Chinese conglomerate. Anbang Insurance has been denied in many other countries from buying assets. Now we learn that Mr. Wu, the chairman, has been charged with vague accusations including corruption. There is speculation this is part of the Chinese government's effort to re-establish state-owned enterprises.
    I have a number of constituents who have asked me regularly and are very concerned. Can he tell us who owns their home?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I can reassure the residents that indeed B.C. has a strong and robust regulatory regime that imposes rigorous standards of care on all operators of residential care and assisted living facilities. Cedar Tree has confirmed its strong commitment to the ongoing quality of operations of its Canadian retirement residences. They will continue to remain subject to all provincial oversight in upholding the highest standards of care for our seniors.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is perhaps not aware that a whole number of those seniors immediately received a notice that they had to be removed from their facility. It was absolutely shameful. The Liberals approved the sale of our seniors' care to Anbang. They cannot tell us who owns the conglomerate. The only face of that business was a chairman who of course is now in jail with these accusations.
    The Liberals say everything is so fine. The minister says, “I am going to keep watching. I'm okay.” We are not convinced that things are okay. Would he stand and tell us who owns the homes of the seniors of Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, the provincial governments across this country have the responsibility for imposing rigorous regulatory regimes to ensure the protection of our seniors, regardless of who owns and operates the various senior care centres. Cedar Tree has continued to emphasize its rigorous standards of care. We are going to make sure that the provincial oversight remains strong and that all proper rules and regulations are followed to ensure proper care for our seniors right across this country. This is something we take seriously and will continue to stand up for.

Dairy Industry

    Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the U.S. dairy industry formally asked trade officials to come after the Canadian dairy industry in NAFTA renegotiations. New Democrats have repeatedly stood in the House highlighting trade attacks on our supply-managed dairy industry.
    With the U.S. blaming Canadian farmers for their own overproduction, we need more than vague assurances from the government. It is clear to everyone that dairy will be a top priority for the U.S. administration. Instead of the same meaningless talking points, will the Prime Minister draw a red line and commit to no expanded market access?
    Mr. Speaker, it was a Liberal government that created supply management over 40 years ago. The Liberal Party has always defended supply management, and we always will defend supply management because it protects our consumers, it protects our producers, and it creates opportunities for growth and security in our production of dairy products.
    We have been able to sign significant trade deals internationally, like NAFTA and CETA, while protecting our dairy industry and supply management. We are going to continue to do just that.
    Mr. Speaker, someone should tell that to Martha Hall Findlay.

[Translation]

    The Liberals promised dairy and cheese producers compensation for losses incurred as a result of CETA. Instead, they announced a transition program that does even cover the projected losses.
    The program is so disappointing to Quebec's dairy producers that the official opposition in Quebec City is asking for a six-month delay to give the federal government time to come to its senses.
    Can the Prime Minister confirm today that he will fully compensate the dairy and cheese industry, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, CETA will provide Canadian producers and consumers with access to a huge market of hundreds of millions of people to whom we can sell our products. We know that this will require a certain transition period, but I am so proud of our dairy producers in Quebec and Canada, and I know they will be able to adapt.
    That is why we are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to help them through this transition, so that everyone can enjoy all the benefits that CETA has to offer. We are working with our dairy industry to defend it, support it, and ensure its success in this new global marketplace.

[English]

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canada faces a number of unique challenges in growing our economy and encouraging businesses to innovate and export. One of those challenges is helping high-growth potential firms grow and stay in Atlantic Canada. These firms are generally small in size but their impact is significant. They are more likely to invest in their companies and people, while also exporting more than the average Canadian business.
    Can the Prime Minister please tell the House how the government is helping these firms in Atlantic Canada?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Fundy Royal for the excellent question, and in fact, all of the Atlantic MPs of all parties for their hard work on behalf of Atlantic Canadians.
    With the newly launched Atlantic growth strategy, our government is creating the conditions for more well-paying jobs in Atlantic Canada by working with the Atlantic provinces to provide companies with a one-stop shop for access to both federal and provincial supports. Since the program's launch, the number of companies participating has more than doubled. This will result in more Atlantic Canadian companies expanding, becoming more competitive, and creating well-paying jobs in their communities. It is all part of growth for Atlantic Canada.

Access to Information

    Mr. Speaker, in this beautiful sunny week, thousands of public servants are still not getting paid at all. That is how much respect the Prime Minister has for them.

[Translation]

    We can all agree that responding to an access to information request is not optional, it is mandatory. However, a Shared Services Canada employee, who is also the riding association president for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, recently deleted 398 pages of email after receiving a request for access to information, proving that the Liberals choose political gain over transparency.
    Will the Prime Minister admit today that this goes against the law of the land?
    Mr. Speaker, what happened is extremely troubling. That is why those involved reported what happened in a clear and open manner. The process was followed and now it is up to the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to determine what happens next. We take this kind of partisanship quite seriously. It has no place in our public service.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Val Trudeau, who has a last name that is investigated a lot around here, is the director at Shared Services who illegally deleted 398 pages of emails related to the Liberal Party from a government server. Trudeau is a Liberal Party association president. It is highly doubtful that the parliamentary secretary, a former national director of the Liberal Party, and a Liberal minister can independently investigate illegal activity by this Liberal activist. What are they covering up?
    Will the Prime Minister commit today to have the director of public prosecutions investigation this?
    Mr. Speaker, we expect all employees to meet the highest level of ethical behaviour and decision-making as set out by the values and ethics code for the public sector.
    Let me be clear, all rules should be appropriately followed at all times. Shared Services Canada took the situation very seriously, immediately launched an investigation, and notified the Information Commissioner. As is usual, this matter has now been referred to the Attorney General's office.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, maybe the Minister of Canadian Heritage should review the values and ethics code for the public service, especially the chapter on conflict of interest.
    Once again, we see her staff being lobbied by their former employers. In fact, her chief of staff has been lobbied six times by Google Canada. The problem, Google Canada was her former employer. Anyone with a basic understanding of ethics would know this is a blatant conflict of interest.
    Is the Prime Minister wilfully ignorant of the conflicts of interest within his own ministry, or does he just not care?
    Mr. Speaker, as we have said many times, creative industries are going through a period of disruption brought on by the digital shift.
    The Minister of Canadian Heritage has met with all major digital platforms as part of our review of Canadian content in the digital age. The expertise and broad knowledge of her chief of staff in regard to the digital landscape is essential in our assessment of how best to support the sector during this transition. She has been fully transparent about her former employment with Google Canada, including with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

[Translation]

    In the wake of the conflicts of interest that the Liberal Party must justify day after day, there is yet another conflict involving the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Her current chief of staff, who worked at Google, has had many meetings with her former employer. Just as the Broadcasting Act is soon to undergo a full review, there is no better guidance than consulting the people who will benefit from it.
    Will the Prime Minister and his ministers have to take an Ethics 101 course to ensure that the rules will be followed?
    Mr. Speaker, we all know that Canada's creative industries are facing serious obstacles brought on by the digital shift. The Minister of Canadian Heritage met with all major digital platforms as part of our review of Canadian content in the digital age. Her chief of staff's expertise and broad knowledge of the digital landscape are essential to our assessment of how best to support the sector during this transition. She has always been fully transparent about her former employer, Google Canada, including with the Ethics Commissioner—

  (1455)  

    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Physician-Assisted Dying

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that two Quebeckers suffering from irremediable medical conditions and experiencing intolerable suffering have to go to court because they have been refused medical assistance in dying. However, they meet all the criteria set out by the Supreme Court in Carter. The problem is the physician-assisted dying legislation and its overly restrictive criterion concerning reasonably foreseeable natural death. This means that these individuals' rights were denied, and yet they are suffering.
     What excuse is this government going to use again before really showing compassion?
    Mr. Speaker, we passed a law that provides a regulatory framework for physician-assisted dying in Canada to protect the most vulnerable members of our society while respecting rights and the freedom to choose. Striking this balance is very important but also very delicate. We acknowledge that there is still work to do in society for this legislation to evolve, but we know that we have sought to strike the right balance between protecting the most vulnerable and respecting the freedom of choice and the decisions that Canadians can make. It is an important issue for society and for individuals, and we have found the right balance.

[English]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, I do not normally praise the Senate, but today senators are trying to separate the infrastructure bank from the Liberal omnibus budget bill.
    This is exactly what the NDP tried to do in this place, but the Liberals blocked our attempts. Many experts, including the former parliamentary budget officer, have raised serious concerns about the Liberals' infrastructure bank.
    Will the Prime Minister finally do the right thing and scrap the infrastructure bank from his omnibus bill?
    Mr. Speaker, we were the only party in the last election that committed to actually investing in the kinds of infrastructure that Canadians need. We know that proper investment in the future matters for public transit users, for social housing, and for green infrastructure that will protect people in the coming years.
     We put forward $180 billion in infrastructure spending for the coming years. However, we recognize that even that is not enough. Being innovative about bringing forward new ways to find financing for the infrastructure that Canadians need to grow the economy and build for the future is something important that we have done.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are going to end any prospect of the public child sex offender registry that was passed by this House two years ago becoming a reality. First they said they did not have any funds; now they just want it cancelled.
    I am asking the Prime Minister to make the rights and interests of innocent and law-abiding Canadians the number one priority. What is the problem with that?
    Mr. Speaker, the safety of our children and our communities is a priority for this government, as it is for any Canadian government. There is no partisanship in this. That is why we recognize that we have a national flagging system created by the Chrétien government, we have a national sex offender registry created by the Martin government, and we look at the current proposal around a database that was proposed by the Harper government but not funded and not implemented. We are consulting with various community leaders, police groups, and protection-of-victims services to ensure that however we move forward, we are protecting victims and—
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, he lists former prime ministers, but he has yet to accomplish a single thing. When the time comes to take concrete action to protect children, the Liberal government drops the ball by offloading its responsibilities onto the provinces.
    We are seeing it with marijuana, with the Prime Minister's wanting to legalize pot possession for youth 12 to 18 years of age. We are seeing it with the pedophile registry, with the Liberals' wanting to deprive communities of the right to know when a sex offender moves to their neighbourhood.
    When will the Prime Minister take his role seriously, protect our children and make the national sex offender registry available to parents?
    Mr. Speaker, anyone in the House who would suggest that one of us does not take the protection of our children and our communities seriously is not worthy of the House.
    We all know that we must do everything we can to protect our communities and our young people, which is why we are moving forward with the control and regulation of marijuana, and why we are looking at proposals for child protection and are championing the national sex offender registry.
    We know that it is a priority for everyone to protect—

  (1500)  

    The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, in minutes, this House will vote on a Liberal motion to defeat Wynn's law, a law that would close a Criminal Code loophole that cost the life of Constable Wynn. Wynn's law would simply require prosecutors to lead evidence of the criminal history of bail applicants so that what happened to Constable Wynn never happens again. How in good conscience can the Liberals oppose this?
    Mr. Speaker, again I extend my deepest sympathies to Constable David Wynn and especially his widow Shelly—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The Right Hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Constable David Wynn, including to his widow Shelly. I know the Minister of Justice and she had a good chat a number of months ago.
    We took the proposal around Wynn's law and sent it to committee, where it was studied and where we heard experts on it. It was examined to see whether indeed it would do what it is purported to do. The committee made a determination, and we respect the work of committees to make exactly those kinds of determinations.

Families, Children and Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, families across Canada know the importance that child care has in their daily lives. From working parents to single parents to all manner of families, parents in my riding want to provide the best for their children, to contribute to their development and their communities, and to know their representative is a strong advocate for their priorities.
    This is why on Monday I was very proud to see the federal government re-engage in early learning and child care across Canada with a $7.5 billion investment. Can the Prime Minister inform us on the next step he will be taking?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Brampton South for her question and for the hard work she does in her community and for families in her community.
    Every child deserves access to quality early learning and child care. The framework signed this week will help more Canadian families have access to affordable, high-quality, flexible, and inclusive child care. It will focus on the most vulnerable children and ensure that more child care is language-appropriate for French and English minorities and culturally appropriate for indigenous children.
    Our government is concentrating on finding real solutions for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. That is what we promised to Canadians. That is what we are delivering.

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, on May 18, the Liberal House leader's parliamentary secretary stood in this House and said this:
    I cannot say enough about the Canada autism partnership and what it has been able to accomplish to date. I applaud each and every person involved in that.
     However, on May 30, that same member stood in solidarity with his Liberal colleagues and opposed the Canadian autism partnership and the interests of Canadians living with autism.
    What did the Prime Minister say to make the parliamentary secretary vote against the very existence of the organization he praised less than two weeks earlier?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize that autism spectrum disorder has a significant and lifelong impact on individuals and families. Federal investments in research, data improvement, surveillance, and training skills are supporting those with autism and their families.
    There is an extraordinary network of stakeholders across the country raising awareness and providing services to families. Our government will continue to support these efforts through our programs. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Canada has invested more than $39 million in autism research over the past five years. We will continue to work with communities and parents—
    The hon. member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.

  (1505)  

[Translation]

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

    Mr. Speaker, a coalition has formed against the CRTC’s decision on French-language content. Today I expect an answer from the member for Papineau, not because it is Wednesday, but because the Prime Minister’s Office has met with Bell lobbyists more often than has the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Perhaps that explains why she has been silent on this issue.
    After all these meetings with Bell and Corus Media, specifically on broadcasting, can the Prime Minister tell this coalition from the cultural community that he will stand with them and overturn this bad decision? This is the third time I have asked the government: will it send this decision back to the CRTC, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, our government firmly believes in the importance of arts and culture. That is why we invested more than $1.9 billion in this area, the largest investment in the past 30 years.
     We did so because we know that arts and culture are key drivers of our economy and our identity. We are currently studying the impacts of the CRTC’s decision.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to strengthening the middle class and growing our economy. Last week, published data showed, once again, that our plan was working. Indeed, the employment statistics have been most welcome news, especially for Quebeckers.
     I would like the Prime Minister to tell the House what the employment statistics have shown.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia for his question and his leadership in the Quebec caucus.
     Canadians elected our government to grow the economy and create good jobs. Over the last six months, the economy created over 250,000 full-time jobs, showing the best growth in 15 years. In Quebec, the unemployment rate fell from 6.6% to 6%. It is at its lowest level since 1976.
     Our plan is working, and we will continue to invest in Canadian workers in order to grow the economy in the long term.

[English]

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps pointing to research funding as cover for not supporting the Canadian autism partnership. Does he understand how ridiculous this is?
    Four members of the partnership working group are among the world's top autism researchers: Lonnie Zwaigenbaum from the University of Alberta, Stelios Georgiades from McMaster University, Jonathan Weiss from York University, and Stephen Scherer from SickKids. These researchers want their research to actually be used to benefit Canadian families who desperately need it.
    When will the Prime Minister stop hiding behind our world-class researchers and support them in helping Canadians with autism?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we are happy to support our world-class researchers in a broad range of issues on autism. This government, through the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, has invested more than $39 million in autism research over the past five years. We will continue to work with community leaders, continue to work with stakeholders, and continue to work with families to address the very real challenges faced by people and families living with autism. That is a commitment we are continuing to make in our commitment to research, our commitment to families, and our commitment to helping Canadians live better lives.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, now that the Prime Minister has clarified, for the second time, the Der Spiegel story and has clearly said that he never asked Chancellor Merkel to remove references to the Paris accord from the G20 summit declaration, let me flip it to the affirmative and ask the Prime Minister to confirm that Canada will stand with Germany and insist that commitment to the Paris accord be in the G20 final declaration.
     Mr. Speaker, yes, we will. We remain steadfastly committed to the Paris accords. Our environment minister and our government were instrumental in making sure that the Paris accords became a reality. We will continue to push for the respect and the support for Paris in the G7 communiqué, as we did, and also in the G20 coming in Hamburg.
    I would like to take this moment also to congratulate the Conservative Party for recognizing that climate change is real and for supporting the Paris accords as well. It is an important moment for Canada as we see unanimously the need to move forward with real action to reduce our carbon emissions.
    I look forward to hearing—

[Translation]

    This concludes oral question period.
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable on a point of order.

Points of Order

Oral questions 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, during question period, I raised some real concerns about the sex offender registry, as expressed by constituents of Mégantic—L'Érable. In response, the Prime Minister stated that I was not worthy of a seat in the House. I find those remarks to be clearly unparliamentary; in my view, they are an insult to the voters who elected me.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1510)  

    Order.

[English]

    I would ask the member for Banff—Airdrie to restrain himself or go to the lobby if he cannot. Otherwise, he will be asked to leave.

[Translation]

    I thank the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable for raising the question. I will consult Hansard and come back to the House if necessary.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[Translation]

National Maternity Assistance Program Strategy Act

    The House resumed from June 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-243, An Act respecting the development of a national maternity assistance program strategy, be read the third time and passed.
    It being 3:11 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 30, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-243, under private members' business.
    Call in the members.

  (1520)  

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

(Division No. 319)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Aldag
Alghabra
Alleslev
Allison
Amos
Anandasangaree
Anderson
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Aubin
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Barlow
Baylis
Beech
Bennett
Benson
Benzen
Bergen
Berthold
Bezan
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boissonnault
Bossio
Boucher
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brassard
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Brosseau
Brown
Caesar-Chavannes
Calkins
Cannings
Carr
Carrie
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Chan
Chong
Choquette
Clarke
Clement
Cooper
Cormier
Cullen
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
DeCourcey
Deltell
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Di Iorio
Diotte
Doherty
Donnelly
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubé
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Eglinski
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Falk
Fergus
Fillmore
Finley
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fry
Fuhr
Gallant
Garneau
Garrison
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gladu
Godin
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Gourde
Graham
Grewal
Harder
Hardie
Harvey
Hehr
Hoback
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Jeneroux
Johns
Jolibois
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kang
Kelly
Kent
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kusie
Kwan
Lake
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Laverdière
Lebel
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Levitt
Liepert
Lightbound
Lobb
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
Lukiwski
MacGregor
MacKenzie
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maguire
Malcolmson
Maloney
Masse (Windsor West)
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Moore
Morneau
Morrissey
Motz
Mulcair
Murray
Nantel
Nassif
Nater
Nault
Ng
Nicholson
Nuttall
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Paul-Hus
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poilievre
Poissant
Quach
Raitt
Ramsey
Rankin
Ratansi
Rayes
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rioux
Ritz
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Saganash
Sahota
Saini
Samson
Sangha
Sansoucy
Sarai
Saroya
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schiefke
Schmale
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shipley
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simms
Sohi
Sopuck
Sorbara
Sorenson
Spengemann
Stanton
Stetski
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Tilson
Trost
Trudeau
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Vecchio
Viersen
Virani
Wagantall
Warawa
Warkentin
Watts
Waugh
Webber
Weir
Whalen
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wong
Wrzesnewskyj
Young
Yurdiga
Zahid
Zimmer

Total: -- 299

NAYS

Members

Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Boudrias
Fortin
Gill
Marcil
Pauzé
Plamondon
Ste-Marie
Thériault

Total: -- 10

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Appointments Committee  

    The House resumed from June 13 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, June 13, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the amendment to the motion.
    The question is on the amendment. Shall I dispense?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon members: No.
    [Chair read text of amendment to House]

  (1530)  

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

(Division No. 320)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Allison
Anderson
Arnold
Aubin
Barlow
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benson
Benzen
Bergen
Berthold
Bezan
Blaikie
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boucher
Boudrias
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brassard
Brosseau
Brown
Calkins
Cannings
Carrie
Chong
Choquette
Clarke
Clement
Cooper
Cullen
Davies
Deltell
Diotte
Doherty
Donnelly
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Eglinski
Falk
Finley
Fortin
Gallant
Garrison
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Harder
Hoback
Hughes
Jeneroux
Johns
Jolibois
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kusie
Kwan
Lake
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Laverdière
Lebel
Leitch
Liepert
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacGregor
MacKenzie
Maguire
Malcolmson
Marcil
Masse (Windsor West)
Mathyssen
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Moore
Motz
Mulcair
Nantel
Nater
Nicholson
Nuttall
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Plamondon
Poilievre
Quach
Raitt
Ramsey
Rankin
Rayes
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Ritz
Saganash
Sansoucy
Saroya
Scheer
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Thériault
Tilson
Trost
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vecchio
Viersen
Wagantall
Warawa
Warkentin
Watts
Waugh
Webber
Weir
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 141

NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Alleslev
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baylis
Beech
Bennett
Bittle
Blair
Boissonnault
Bossio
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Chan
Cormier
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Di Iorio
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fry
Fuhr
Garneau
Gerretsen
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hardie
Harvey
Hehr
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kang
Khalid
Khera
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lemieux
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morneau
Morrissey
Murray
Nassif
Nault
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poissant
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Sahota
Saini
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Trudeau
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Whalen
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 168

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the amendment defeated.

[Translation]

    The next question is on the main motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    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 nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:

  (1540)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 321)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Allison
Anderson
Arnold
Aubin
Barlow
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benson
Benzen
Bergen
Berthold
Bezan
Blaikie
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boucher
Boudrias
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brassard
Brosseau
Brown
Calkins
Cannings
Carrie
Chong
Choquette
Clarke
Clement
Cooper
Cullen
Davies
Deltell
Diotte
Doherty
Donnelly
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Eglinski
Falk
Finley
Fortin
Gallant
Garrison
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Harder
Hoback
Hughes
Jeneroux
Johns
Jolibois
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kusie
Kwan
Lake
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Laverdière
Lebel
Leitch
Liepert
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacGregor
MacKenzie
Maguire
Malcolmson
Marcil
Masse (Windsor West)
Mathyssen
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Moore
Motz
Mulcair
Nantel
Nater
Nicholson
Nuttall
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Plamondon
Poilievre
Quach
Raitt
Ramsey
Rankin
Rayes
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Ritz
Saganash
Sansoucy
Saroya
Scheer
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Thériault
Tilson
Trost
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vecchio
Viersen
Wagantall
Warawa
Warkentin
Watts
Waugh
Webber
Weir
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 141

NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Alleslev
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baylis
Beech
Bennett
Bittle
Blair
Boissonnault
Bossio
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Caesar-Chavannes
Carr
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Chan
Cormier
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Di Iorio
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fry
Fuhr
Garneau
Gerretsen
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hardie
Harvey
Hehr
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kang
Khalid
Khera
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lemieux
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morneau
Morrissey
Murray
Nassif
Nault
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poissant
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Sahota
Saini
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Trudeau
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Whalen
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 168

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights  

    The House resumed from June 13 consideration of the motion.
    Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 30, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding the recommendation not to proceed further with Bill S-217.

  (1550)  

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

(Division No. 322)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Alleslev
Amos
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Aubin
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Barsalou-Duval
Baylis
Beaulieu
Beech
Bennett
Bittle
Blair
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Boissonnault
Bossio
Boudrias
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Breton
Brison
Brosseau
Caesar-Chavannes
Cannings
Carr
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Chan
Choquette
Cormier
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Di Iorio
Drouin
Dubé
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dusseault
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fry
Fuhr
Garneau
Garrison
Gerretsen
Gill
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hardie
Harvey
Hehr
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jowhari
Kang
Khalid
Khera
Kwan
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Laverdière
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lemieux
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Marcil
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Moore
Morneau
Morrissey
Mulcair
Murray
Nassif
Nault
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Pauzé
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Poissant
Quach
Ramsey
Rankin
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rudd
Ruimy
Saganash
Sahota
Saini
Samson
Sangha
Sansoucy
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Thériault
Trudeau
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Whalen
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 199

NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Allison
Anderson
Arnold
Barlow
Benson
Benzen
Bergen
Berthold
Bezan
Blaikie
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boucher
Brassard
Brown
Calkins
Carrie
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Cooper
Davies
Deltell
Diotte
Doherty
Dreeshen
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Eglinski
Falk
Finley
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Harder
Hoback
Jeneroux
Jolibois
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kusie
Lake
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Lebel
Leitch
Liepert
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacKenzie
Maguire
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Motz
Nater
Nicholson
Nuttall
Paul-Hus
Plamondon
Poilievre
Raitt
Rayes
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Ritz
Rota
Saroya
Scheer
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tilson
Trost
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vecchio
Viersen
Wagantall
Warawa
Warkentin
Watts
Waugh
Webber
Weir
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 103

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(2)(d), the proceedings on the bill shall come to an end.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2015-2016 Progress Report - Canada's National Action Plan for the Implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security.

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 17 petitions.

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 parliamentary mission to the Republic of Estonia, the next country to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, and its participation at the second part of the 2017 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, from April 19 to 28, 2017.

  (1555)  

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 33rd 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 of the second reading of private members' bills introduced in the Senate and recommended that the item listed herein, which it has determined should not be designated non-votable, be considered by the House.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(2), the report is deemed adopted.

[English]

Foreign Affairs and International Development  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. It is entitled “Scorched Earth: Responding to Conflict, Human Rights Violations and Manmade Humanitarian Catastrophe in South Sudan”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Navigation Protection Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to introduce my bill here and I thank my colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for seconding it. It is a bill that would restore protection to all the lakes and rivers in my riding that were protected under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, but were stripped of that under the Navigation Protection Act in the previous Parliament. The Liberal government promised to repeal these measures in the last election, but has since reneged on that promise. Through the bill, I hope the Liberals will change their course of action.
    The bill would restore protection for the Okanagan River, which is home to the greatest success story in salmon-run restoration in the country; for the Kettle and Granby rivers that flow through Boundary Country; for the Slocan River, one of the most beautiful rivers on the continent; and for lakes such as Skaha, Vaseux, one of the first federal bird sanctuaries, Osoyoos, and Slocan. All of these waterways and more are at the heart of South Okanagan—West Kootenay, and they fully deserve the protection they once had.

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

Committees of the House

Industry, Science and Technology  

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology be the committee designated for the purposes of clause 65 of An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act.
    Does the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader have the permission of the House to propose the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Guaranteed Annual Income  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on behalf of 2,546 constituents who have signed e-petition 211. It concerns a guaranteed annual income. They believe a guaranteed annual income in Canada would help not only to eradicate poverty but would allow individuals the opportunity to use that income to become successful. They highlight the idea of Dauphin, Manitoba, which had a minimum income pilot project in the 1970s, which has been studied quite extensively by researchers at the University of Manitoba.

  (1600)  

[Translation]

Tuition and Public Transit  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by 648 citizens of Laval. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to reverse its decision to abolish the tuition and public transit tax credits.

[English]

Electoral Reform  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions. My constituents in the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands call on the House to take action and amend the Canada Elections Act to ensure that proportional representation becomes our voting system to ensure Canadian elections result in a democratically elected House that reflects the way the citizens of our country have actually voted.

Security Certificates  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition deals with the issue of security certificates. Again, this is from residents of Saanich—Gulf Islands. They call on the Government of Canada to end the use of security certificates as inherently open to abuse and violating an individual's right to a fair trial.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise once again to bring voices from coastal B.C. to Parliament in support of a solution to the long-standing problem of abandoned vessels. They risk oil spills, put at risk local jobs, and risk our environment across the country.
    Let us end the runaround and make the Coast Guard responsible for first action on abandoned vessels. Let us fix vessel registration to get the costs off taxpayers. Let us build a coast-wide strategy, co-operating with provinces and local governments. Let us act before vessels sink. Let us create good green jobs by supporting recycling and local salvage companies.
    The petition is signed by people from Gabriola Island, Victoria, Nanaimo, and all of the directors of the Regional District of Nanaimo signing as individuals. I am honoured to have the support of many local governments for my legislation, Bill C-352. We know $1 million a year, as announced by the government this month, is inadequate to deal with the thousands of abandoned vessels left on all three of Canada's coasts.

Palliative Care  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of my constituents that calls on the government to recognize the importance of palliative care, when people are at their end of life, for the help and support that palliative care provides. Petitioners specifically ask that palliative care be defined as a medical service covered under the Canada Health Act so that provincial and territorial governments would be entitled to funds under the Canada health transfer system to be used to provide accessible and available hospice palliative care for all residents of Canada in their respective provinces and territories.

150th Anniversary of Confederation  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal war on history continues to prompt many petitions to my office. I rise today to present petitions from four Canadian historical societies stating they want history to be respected and celebrated during the 150th anniversary of Confederation, which as we know the government has not chosen to allow as a theme.
    The members and visitors of the Elbow and District Museum in Elbow, Saskatchewan, have expressed their support for the government to include Confederation as a theme of Canada 150. The Elbow museum recounts the life of immigrants to the Prairies in the 1900s coming via Sir John A. Macdonald's railroad to settle the west.
    Members of the Trail Historical Society have signed the petition and are also asking the government to keep Confederation in Canada 150. The former mining settlement grew with the development of a smelter servicing the Canadian Pacific Railway, one of the projects central to the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald. Today, the legacy of this early project of Confederation plays a central role in Trail's heritage.
    Members of the Thornhill historical foundation are calling on the government to restore Confederation as a theme of Canada 150. Father of Confederation, William Pearce Howland represented part of Thornhill as a member of Parliament in 1867.
    I have a petition from the Antigonish historical society. Father of Confederation, William Alexander Henry grew up in Antigonish. He stood as a Liberal and became a Conservative. He originally opposed Confederation, but ultimately became a supporter after attending the Charlottetown conference. His ability to see the light and change his mind should be an inspiration to the government in encouraging it to change its mind, end the Liberal war on history, and make Confederation a theme of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

  (1605)  

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 987, 991, and 995.

[Text]

Question No. 987--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
     With regard to Bill C-38, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons) and former private Member's Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons): (a) did the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada undertake consultations with non-government stakeholders; (b) did the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada or any of her officials undertake consultations with any other federal department or agency; (c) if the answer to (a) or (b) is affirmative, (i) what are the names of the persons or organizations consulted, (ii) when were they consulted, (iii) what were the results of the consultations; and (d) on what evidence was the decision to eliminate the mandatory consecutive-sentencing provision (section 3) based?
Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
     Mr. Speaker, Bill C-38, An Act to amend an Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons) was introduced on February 9, 2017.
    Human trafficking is a very serious criminal offence, and the government is committed to strengthening its efforts to combat it and better protect its victims.
    The legislation proposes to give law enforcement and prosecutors new tools to investigate and prosecute certain human trafficking offences that can be particularly difficult to prove. Human trafficking is a hidden crime, which makes it very difficult to detect, investigate and prosecute.
    In drafting Bill C-38, the Minister of Justice benefited from the parliamentary record developed from former private member’s Bill C-452, which went through the entire parliamentary process. Bill C-38 would bring into force former Bill C-452, with amendments to ensure consistency with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    For more information on Bill C-38, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), members may consult the charter statement that was tabled in the House of Commons on February 9, 2017. It is available on Justice Canada’s website at http://www.justice.gc.ca/ eng/csj-sjc/pl/charter-charte/c38.html.
Question No. 991--
Mr. Len Webber:
     With regard to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Canada and China regarding a collaboration to tackle illegal shipments of opioids and their analogues, as mentioned in the government response to the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Health entitled “Report and Recommendations on the Opioid Crisis in Canada”, (i) when was this MOU signed, (ii) who signed the MOU and in what capacity, (iii) was a Minister of the Crown consulted before it was signed, (iv) over what period of time did the MOU negotiations take place, (v) how much funding has been allocated to the implementation of the MOU and from what funding envelope, (iv) when does the MOU expire?
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (i), the memorandum of understanding, or MOU, between Canada and China was signed on September 22, 2016.
    With regard to (ii), the signatories were the Hon. Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and His Excellency Luo Zhaohui, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China.
     With regard to (iii), the MOU was reviewed and approved by Global Affairs Canada prior to signature, as per the ministerial directive on RCMP agreements and the RCMP administrative manual policy for arrangements.
    With regard to (iv), MOU negotiations took approximately two years, beginning in 2014.
    With regard to (v), there is no specific funding allocated to the implementation of the MOU. However, targeting illicit opioids has been established as a federal policing national priority. Part of the RCMP’s funding for activities in this regard is allocated from the Canadian drugs and substances strategy, formerly the national anti-drug strategy.
    With regard to the last point, the MOU is in effect for five years and will expire on September 22, 2021.
Question No. 995--
Mr. Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood—Transcona):
     With respect to the salary increase for RCMP members announced by the Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on April 5, 2017: (a) what is the definition of a “market adjustment”; (b) how does a “market adjustment” differ from a “salary increase”, for example (i) is a “market adjustment” increase pensionable, (ii) is a “market adjustment” increase counted in the calculation of all benefits just as a “salary increase” would be, (iii) what is the process for rescinding a “market adjustment” as opposed to implementing a salary decrease, (iv) what are any other differences between a “market adjustment” and a “salary increase”; and (c) why did the government decide on a “market adjustment“ instead of a further salary increase?
Ms. Joyce Murray (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), in the current round of negotiations, settlements have been based on 1.25% annual economic increases. A number of groups represented by different bargaining agents have received additional amounts in consideration of the specific circumstances of the group.
    In the context of the current round of negotiations, a ‘market adjustment’ has been used as an informal term to distinguish salary increases provided in response to group-specific circumstances from the pattern 1.25% annual economic increase. For example, a salary increase provided to address group-specific internal or external comparability issues or to address recruitment and retention pressures has been typically termed a ‘market adjustment’.
    With regard to (b), the 2.3% market adjustment provided to the RCMP is a salary increase. The 2.3% increase was termed a ‘market adjustment’ to recognize that it was paid in addition to the 1.25% economic increases to align RCMP members’ total compensation with that of the eight police forces in Canada used for compensation comparability purposes.
    With regard to (b)(i), the 2.3% market adjustment provided to the RCMP is pensionable, as it is a salary increase. ¸
    With regard to (b)(ii), the 2.3% market adjustment provided to the RCMP will be counted in the calculation of benefits just as a salary increase would be.
    With regard to (b)(iii), generally speaking, since the net effect of a market adjustment is the same as a salary increase, the process for rescinding a market adjustment would be the same as applying a salary reduction. However, there are no plans to rescind either the market adjustment or salary increases for RCMP members.
    Should a bargaining agent representing RCMP members become certified, salaries and market adjustments, as key elements of the terms and conditions of employment, would need to be negotiated in the course of a collective bargaining process.
    With regard to (b)(iv), there are none.
    With regard to (c), in the case of the RCMP, it was determined that following the retroactive 1.25% salary increases effective January 1, 2015, and January 1, 2016, an additional 2.3% market adjustment was warranted to align RCMP compensation with what is provided to the eight comparable police forces in Canada. These comparators provide local police services for a large majority of the Canadian population. It was termed a ‘market adjustment’ to distinguish it from the 1.25% annual economic increases that have been included in settlements to date.
    The 2.3% market adjustment is not a separate payment or allowance. It will be applied to members’ salaries in the same manner as the salary increases. The full amount of the market adjustment is pensionable and will be included in the calculation of benefits based upon the rate of pay.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Return

    Furthermore, if the government's response to Questions Nos. 986, 988 to 990, 992 to 994, and 996 to 999 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 986--
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
     With regard to meetings held by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs with the over 600 First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit communities since November 4, 2015: (a) how many meetings has the Minister held, broken down by (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) name and title of the First Nation, Métis Nation, or Inuit community, (iv) attendees, (v) recommendations that were made to the Minister; and (b) what are the details of any briefing notes or correspondence related to the meetings referred to in (a), including the (i) title, (ii) date, (iii) sender, (iv) recipient, (v) subject matter, (vi) file number?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 988--
Ms. Elizabeth May:
     With regard to the Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations published in the Gazette, Vol. 151, No. 3 — January 21, 2017, what are the details, including but not limited to the (i) date, (ii) sender, (iii) recipient, (iv) title of: (a) any correspondence, reports, or documents prepared to brief the Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister’s office related to drafting and publicizing the Regulations; (b) any correspondence, reports, or documents prepared to brief the Health Minister’s office related to drafting and publicizing the Regulations; (c) any correspondence, reports, or documents prepared to brief the President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency related to drafting and publicizing the Regulations; and (d) any correspondence, reports, or documents relating to the background research, content, and drafting of section 68(4), “Water given to food animals”, of the Regulations?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 989--
Mr. Alexander Nuttall:
     With regard to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s ‘Innovation Agenda’ as published by the ‘Innovation Leaders’ titled “Innovation for a Better Canada, What We Heard” and all related events: (a) who was paid $1,990.21 to translate the document; (b) what are the costs of travel for the ten ‘Innovation Leaders’, broken down by (i) individual, (ii) round table location; (c) why were no travel costs incurred when the group travelled to the UK; (d) for each round table held by the ‘Innovation Leaders’, what are the details for meals and incidentals, broken down by (i) individual, (ii) round table location; (e) for each round table held by the ‘Innovation Leaders’, what are the details for lodging costs, broken down by (i) individual, (ii) round table location; and (f) what are the details for rental space costs, broken down by each of the 28 events?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 990--
Ms. Elizabeth May:
     With regard to the United States’ continuing compliance with the Safe Third Country Agreement cited by the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees in an interview with the CBC published March 14, 2017: (a) what are the details of any briefing notes related to this determination provided to (i) the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and refugees, (ii) the Prime Minister; (b) with respect to the Minister’s summary of the Government's assertion that the United States, under the new administration’s Executive Order dated March 6, 2017, continues to ‘meet and comply with international standards’ what evidence does the Department have that (i) the terms of the Executive Order will not lead to the United States violating the non-refoulement requirement of the 1951 Refugee Convention, (ii) the terms of the Executive Order will not lead to the United States violating any other policies and practices with respect to claims under the 1951 Refugee Convention and obligations under the 1984 Convention Against Torture, (iii) the terms of the Executive Order will not lead to the US failing to provide a “meaningful opportunity to apply for asylum” as required, (iv) the United States remains a safe country where there exists systematic, predictable, and legally compliant enforcement of asylum; and (c) what are the details of any other relevant information regarding the evaluation of the United States under the Minister’s review obligation in s.101(3) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 992--
Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy:
     With regard to the Skills Link program: (a) what is the program’s total budget since 2015, broken down by (i) calendar year, (ii) constituency; (b) what is the program’s total budget per constituency for 2015, 2016 and 2017; and (c) what are the criteria for determining the amount allocated to an applicant?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 993--
Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy:
     With regard to the constituency of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot and the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, between the program’s launch on January 1, 2015 and April 13, 2017: (a) which proposals have been submitted from the constituency; and (b) which proposals have been approved?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 994--
Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy:
     With regard to federal spending in the constituency of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot in fiscal year 2016-2017: what grants, loans, contributions and contracts were awarded by the government, broken down by (i) department and agency, (ii) municipality, (iii) name of recipient, (iv) amount received, (v) program under which expenditure was allocated, (vi) date?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 996--
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:
     With regard to the Prime Minister’s and other Cabinet Ministers' private meetings with the American asset management firm BlackRock: (a) what is the list of government officials, cabinet ministers, public office holders, and staff who attended the meeting held on November 14, 2016, at Toronto’s Shangri-La Hotel; (b) what is the complete list of financial institutions, pension funds, sovereign funds, and other financial entities, and the names of their representatives, that attended the meeting in (a); (c) what are the details of the agenda for the meeting in (a); (d) what were the total expenditures of the government associated with the meeting in (a), broken down by (i) cost for renting the rooms, (ii) cost for food and drinks, (iii) cost for security; (e) how many meetings has the Prime Minister had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (f) how many meetings has the Minister of Finance had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (g) how many meetings has the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (h) how many meetings has the Minister of Environment and Climate Change had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; (i) have any other Cabinet Ministers had meetings with BlackRock executives or employees and, if so, how many times have they met with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting; and (j) how many meetings have the staff and designated public office holders from the Office of the Prime Minister had with BlackRock executives or employees since November 1, 2015, and what are the details of these meetings, broken down by (i) meetings held in person or by teleconference, (ii) locations and times of all meetings, broken down by meeting, (iii) costs associated with all meetings, broken down by meeting?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 997--
Ms. Brigitte Sansoucy:
     With respect to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development’s mandate letter and, in particular, the expectation to “undertake a broad review of the EI system with the goal of modernizing our system of income support for unemployed workers that leaves too many workers with no unemployment insurance safety net”: (a) what (i) consultations, (ii) steps, (iii) discussions, have been carried out by the Minister with non governmental stakeholders to modernize the EI system; (b) what (i) consultations, (ii) steps, (iii) discussions, have been carried out with stakeholders by the Minister, his officials, any other minister or any other officials; (c) what was the outcome of these (i) consultations, (ii) steps, (iii) discussions; (d) when does the government expect to undertake a broad review of the EI system with the goal of modernizing our system of income support for unemployed workers; (e) what is the timeframe for the review in (d); and (f) when will the findings of this broad review in (d) be tabled in Parliament?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 998--
Mr. Kelly McCauley:
     With regard to the secretariat supporting the Senate Advisory Board within the Privy Council Office: (a) what are the full job descriptions as they are written for each job posting within the secretariat; (b) what is the pay scale, occupational group and level of the positions being filled in the secretariat; (c) what is the budget for the occupational group assigned to the secretariat; (d) how much has been spent by the secretariat, broken down by (i) accommodation, (ii) travel, (iii) per diems, (iv) incidentals, (v) office renovation, (vi) office set-up; and (e) how much has been budgeted for the support group to the Senate selection group?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 999--
Mr. Pierre Poilievre:
     With regard to the number of Canadians with disabilities and disabled persons employed in the federal public service: (a) what is the percentage of public servants who are disabled versus the percentage of the overall Canadian workforce that is disabled; (b) what is the percentage of public servants who are disabled versus the percentage of private sector employees who are disabled; (c) how many disabled people have gone from being unemployed to employed after the intervention of any federally-funded employment program, in the most recent reporting year; (d) what is the average increase in wages earned by disabled people after receiving the federally-funded employment assistance programs referred to in (c); (e) how many disabled people went from unemployed to employed as a result of the funds provided through the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities, broken down by province, in the most recent reporting year; and (f) how many disabled people went from unemployed to employed as a result of the funds provided through the Opportunities Fund, broken down by province, in the most recent reporting year?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Motions for Papers

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act  

    Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, 2017, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills. In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    That the House:
(a) acknowledge that Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, received Royal Assent on June 18, 2015;
(b) acknowledge that through two federal budget cycles, the current government has failed to fund and implement this Act, as passed two years ago;
(c) agree on the public safety importance of a publicly accessible high risk child sex offender registry database; and
(d) re-affirm that Canadian citizens have the right to know about dangerous and high risk child sex offenders living in their community and neighbourhood for the purpose of protecting their children, families, and loved ones;
accordingly, the House call upon the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to fully implement Bill C-26, Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of sharing my time with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
    Under our Conservative government, Bill C-26, also known as the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, received royal assent on June 18, 2015. That was just a few days before the election was called.
    I rise in this House to address a recent access to information report in which it states that the Liberal government is considering not releasing the publicly accessible registry names of persons found guilty of sexual offences against children to communities where these individuals reside.
    Canadians are disturbed and perplexed by this report. Parents across Canada have the right to know if convicted sex offenders are living in their neighbourhood, so that they can better protect their children. Taking away this tool from parents puts children across the nation at a greater risk.
    Under our Conservative government, I am proud to say that Canadian children were fully protected. If the Liberals do not make public the names of these high risk child sex offenders, it will increase the jeopardy under which Canadian children can be exposed.
    The Conservative government put that law in place to safeguard children. As I indicated, in June 2015, it received royal assent. A day later, the parliamentary session ended for the summer. The Conservative government, though, set in motion a directive to the RCMP to take the necessary steps to implement the program.
    It is two years later, and we have yet to see this database made public. Parents across Canada are justified in wanting to know why the Liberals have not acted on this. If a dangerous sex offender has been released or has moved into a neighbourhood, people should have the right to know. Parents, regardless of their political affiliation, want to be informed. It is the only way to ensure we are doing everything possible to safeguard our kids.
     The question really is, why has the government not implemented it? Its legislative priorities, I would suggest, are skewed. It has introduced a bill that ensures that individuals do not pretend to practise witchcraft, and it has banned duel challenges. I do not know about other members, but the last time I checked my neighbourhood, fake witchcraft and duelling in the streets were not an issue.
     What would be an issue is if a convicted sex offender moved into the house next door, and that information was not made accessible to neighbourhood parents through our high risk child sex offender database.
    The Liberals need to explain this to Canadians. I am at a loss. Again, I pose the question to the government, does the government plan to make this publicly accessible high risk child sex offender database public, and if not, why not?
    The other day in question period, the Prime Minister cited that the government was not left with any money from the previous government to implement the registry. This is completely inconsistent with its messaging. The government has been telling Canadians for the last 20 months it has billions of dollars to spend on everything. It would have us believe it has been struck by fiscal conscience, and it cannot justify the expenditure?
    It would seem the Liberals have plenty of money to spend on staff junkets to Paris, Washington, and other extravagant trips. It does not seem to have any difficulty spending billions of dollars, and running a huge deficit that will ensure the budget will not be balanced until well after 2055.
    The argument that it simply cannot afford to spend money on the high risk child sex offender database does not hold water. How is it the government can defend not budgeting these monies which would better protect our children? Is there a price that can be placed on the safety of our most valuable resource? I think not.
    Had the Liberals employed the database after they formed government in 2015, how many children would have been spared such a nightmare? This is the whole idea of putting this forward.

  (1610)  

    We hear stories all the time of somebody having been picked up and, for whatever reason, the police had not made it known to them. I am the first one to compliment the members of the police and support them, but we have to take this added extra precaution. That is what we are talking about, so we are not reading stories in the newspaper about some convicted sexual predator, who has moved into a neighbourhood and the parents did not know about it. That is what we are saying.
    I am not saying the police do not often notify communities, but I want parents to have the ability to go right into the database themselves to make sure these individuals are being watched, and they have the opportunity to know exactly who is moving into their neighbourhood. It is a step in the right direction. The database has been around for some time, but to make it publicly accessible was something new under our Conservative government. I challenge anybody in this House to argue that children will not be better protected if they have this. I challenge them to explain how children would not be better protected if people have the opportunity to check the registry.
    I am not in the business of criticizing police members. We support them. They have been a tremendous support for everything we have done, and certainly everything we did as a government. However, this is one more protection we want to put in place. With respect to the question of how this would affect those individuals, I want to see those individuals get help. There is no question they should get help, and I am completely supportive of that.
    I do not accept what the Liberals have said, namely, that there was no money for this. First, the election was called a couple of days after it passed. Second, the RCMP is given funds to put these things together, which it has been doing over the last couple of years. Perhaps the Liberals have moved on from the argument that they have no money for this. However, I challenge them to answer this question. Would children, the most vulnerable in our society, not be better protected with a public child sex offender database?

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member opposite a couple of points for clarification. Under the previous legislation, if there was a belief that a sex offender posed a significant public safety threat, the authority resided with the local police chief to release that information to the public. Quite frankly, I believe that I have probably done that more often than any other police chief in the country, so I have some experience with this.
    The question I wanted to ask specifically of the member for Niagara Falls is this. As I read Bill C-26, it states:
    The database must contain only information, with respect to any person referred to in subsection 4(1), that a police service or other public authority has previously made accessible to the public...
    The only information that would be contained in this high risk database, to which the member refers, would be information which a police chief, or other public authority, would release to the public based on a threat assessment. Therefore, when the member makes reference to all entries in the sex offender registry, as I read it, that is not what Bill C-26 states, so I would seek that clarification from him.
    Mr. Speaker, it would be very specific as to where these individuals are. There would not be some broad definition or announcement that this individual has moved into a particular area. Rather, people would be able to go online themselves and check it out. If they missed the warning the community had been given, they would be able to check that for themselves. That is what we want to do. It is the next logical step in better protecting our children. That is what the bill is all about.
    The bill received royal assent. It is the law of this country. Therefore, I am asking the Liberals to go ahead with it. Members should ask parents in their community if they think this would be the next best step to help them, so they are not caught by surprise. We see incidents of this all the time, where some individual has been convicted, and many times the public was unaware or did not hear the announcement that the person had been released from jail. This is just one more step, and that is the way we have to look at it. I am not in the business of criticizing all of the efforts that have been made with respect to this, but we can make the system better. That is exactly what this bill would do. It was passed by Parliament. Therefore, I am asking the Liberals to do the right thing and implement it.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my hon. colleague a question for clarification. Earlier this week, in my riding of Cariboo—Prince George, we were told that a high risk sexual offender, Thomas Marion, was to be released into the community of Hixon, just a small community down the way from Prince George.
    I believe that parents, victims, and communities have the right to know, but my understanding is that it is at the will and whim of the judicial system, and that of the police whether they choose to make those communities and victims aware these offenders will be released into the community.
    All we are suggesting is that it becomes law. It is part of the bill. Regardless of who they are, where they are, they become part of this database, so that victims' families, the victims themselves, can then check the database to see when and if this person will be released back into the community, and be at high risk to offend.

  (1620)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has summed it up very well the challenges parents face under the present law. I believe the law previous to Bill C-26 was helpful. I believe these are important steps. All we are trying to do is to increase that protection that will be available to parents, because we have all heard stories, and I appreciate my colleague raising the question of a particular individual. Parents and people have the right to know if their safety is at risk, and particularly the safety of their children.
    I should be clear, it is not just confined to children. There are obviously sexual predators who attack people of all ages. That being said, we have passed that law in Parliament, and I ask my colleagues on the other side to have a look at it, study it, but let us get moving on it.
    Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago there were reports that bureaucrats within the Department of Public Safety had recommended that a publicly accessible registry for high-risk sex offenders not move forward. Since those reports came out, we on this side of the House have, quite legitimately, asked the government whether those reports are true and whether the government intends to cancel a publicly accessible registry for high-risk child sexual predators. Despite posing very clear questions to the government on this, we have not received a clear answer to a clear question.
     All Canadian parents deserve to know when a high-risk child sexual predator moves into their neighbourhood. Every Canadian deserves an answer from the government as to whether it intends to move forward with this registry.
    Let me say at the outset that when we talk about high-risk child sexual predators, we are talking about the worst of the worst. We are talking about people who pose the greatest risk to our children. It is those offenders who would be in a publicly accessible registry. Anyone could go online and get information about those offenders. As my hon. colleague from Niagara Falls mentioned, it was the previous Conservative government that passed legislation to establish this registry.
    In response to the legitimate questions we have been asking, the government has come back with two arguments or statements. It has said, first, that there is a national sex offender registry, and second, that when a dangerous sex offender is released from prison, the Correctional Service of Canada informs the police, and the police, if there is a danger, can alert the public.
    There is no question that the national sex offender registry is an important tool. To give a previous Liberal government credit, it was under the previous Liberal government that the national sex offender registry was established in 2004. It contains the names of more than 35,000 registered sex offenders. Of the 35,000 or so sex offenders listed in the registry, approximately two-thirds are individuals who committed sex offences against children. The database provides law enforcement with important information, including the names, addresses, whereabouts, and descriptions of sex offenders. That obviously is important for law enforcement so it can undertake investigations and ultimately help facilitate the prosecution of individuals who perpetrate such offences.
    The issue with the sex offender registry is that it is not publicly accessible. Yes, it is a tool law enforcement uses, which is fine and well, and that is important. At the same time, parents deserve to know whether a child sexual predator is moving into their neighbourhood. That is where the publicly accessible registry comes into play.

  (1625)  

    The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Public Safety have said in the House that nonetheless, the Correctional Service of Canada alerts the police, and the police in turn can alert the public, which, yes, is important for the purpose of public awareness and keeping our communities safe. However, that is limited in the sense that the police notify the public on one day, and often, that is it. If one does not read the newspaper or watch the news that night or goes out of town for a week, it is quite possible that one would have no idea that a high-risk child sexual predator had moved into the neighbourhood. This is why our Conservative government introduced this registry.
    The registry would empower parents to go online and check the name of someone who had moved in, see a photo, and maybe check it a few times, not just in passing in a newspaper. The information contained in this registry would be key to keeping our children safe. It is information parents could use to take precautionary measures that could make the difference in keeping a kid safe from a high-risk sexual predator. Yes, there are measures to inform the public, but this would add to them. It would give parents another tool. The real question is what the government has against giving parents an additional tool.
    I think the Liberals owe it to Canadians, if they are not going to move ahead with the registry, to provide a clear and cogent explanation. However, if they agree, as we agree, that this would be a benefit, then it is imperative that they step up to the plate and provide funding so that we can get this registry implemented at the earliest opportunity so that high-risk sex offenders can be identified and children can be kept safe.
    Unfortunately, the government, until now, has instead tried to pass the buck, engaging in the blame game and saying that it was the previous Conservative government that passed a bill but did not provide funding. Well, as the hon. member for Niagara Falls pointed out, the legislation that would have enabled this registry received royal assent on the last day the House sat before the 2015 election.
     It has now been two budget cycles, and the current government has not provided one single cent toward this registry. Talk about a lack of priorities, especially for a government that spends like drunken sailors. It spends billions and billions of dollars on all kinds of things, but it cannot be bothered to provide the funding to create a registry and make available a tool for parents to keep their kids safe.
    However, there is always an opportunity to take a step back and do the right thing. Stop stonewalling, stop the blame game, and just get on with it and get this registry established.

  (1630)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the tone of the member opposite. I would note that the tone we use in speaking about this issue is very important.
    I do not know about the hon. member, but I have three wonderful children. I am fortunate to never have had this horror visited upon them. I did, unfortunately, have someone within my immediate family who, as a child, was a victim of a terrible sexual assault. All of us here profoundly want to protect our children, and all questions must come from that place. I know that the member cares. I care, and every one of us does. It is important that we maintain that respectful dialogue on something that is so difficult.
    I have a couple of points to make. First, this registry was not introduced over a 10-year period but at the end of it, and dollars were not put toward it.
    Second, the registry is just a compilation of already available data. The police already inform the public when they think there is a mistake, and when they notify the public that someone is in the neighbourhood, it is not something one misses.
    We have heard two main problems with making it publicly available everywhere and removing the filter of the police. One is that folks go to ground. They disappear, and the police do not know where they are, because they do not want to be on this registry. They either move to jurisdictions like Quebec or New Brunswick, where they do not put out any information, or alternatively, they do not provide their information. It actually makes the public much less safe, because we do not know where they are and it hurts compliance. Second, there is substantial evidence of vigilante action, not just against those individuals but against innocent members of their families.
    There are a lot of substantive concerns about public safety that I would like to hear the member respond to.
     Mr. Speaker, on the member's first point about the previous Conservative government introducing this at the end, over nine and a half years, the previous Conservative government did more to keep children safe than any government in recent Canadian history. I agree with the hon. member that all members of this House care about keeping our kids safe, but when it came time for action, it was our previous Conservative government that increased sentencing for child sexual predators. We strengthened the national sex offender registry by requiring all sex offenders to register. We made important investments in things like child advocacy centres to assist young individuals who experienced the most horrible of crimes. In terms of the Conservative record, there is absolutely nothing to apologize for.
    With respect to the points raised by the hon. member, it simply comes down to whether you believe that parents should have access to readily available information about where these child sexual predators live. We say that every parent in this country has that right.
     Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, not only for his presentation today but, as we heard earlier today in the House of Commons, for his involvement in another significant Wynn's law debate.
    My colleague is absolutely right. I think those of us who may not have had a direct connection may not have the same feeling. I pass on to him my concern for those who have gone through that. It must be hell.
    We all hear about the protection of our children, and that is great. We have taken one step. What is the concern about having another layer of protection so that we do not have a repeat of these situations that happen across our country?

  (1635)  

     Mr. Speaker, to further respond to the point raised by the parliamentary secretary, of course I recognize that it is a terrible family tragedy, and I acknowledge his sincerity when he speaks about this issue. However, the fact is that in terms of the information that would be accessible in this registry, it would be information that was already made publicly available by the police. It would be available through a process that is already established. What this would do is add another layer so that parents could simply go online and get that information any time, anywhere, rather than being reliant on it being in the news on one day.

[Translation]

    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 Drummond, Official Languages; the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Canada Revenue Agency.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for bringing forward this motion about our government's commitment to protect our communities and especially our children from sexual violence.
    I will repeat what I said in the question earlier. There are certain issues that demand the best of us, demand us to rise above partisan rancour and have mature dialogue about an issue close to all of our hearts: the sexual exploitation of children in violent attacks. The devastation it visits upon young lives is something I wish I knew less about. For someone to survive that and get to a healthy place is an enormous challenge.
    As government, it must be one of our top priorities to ensure the safety and well-being of our children. It demeans this place when anyone casts aspersions on any member for doing anything other than trying to provide that protection. It is incumbent upon us in this debate, and in any debate on such a sensitive matter, to avoid the temptation to oversimplify issues or to seek an opportunity to gain a partisan point when such matters are happening.
    The debate that has been happening today has been much more constructive. Unfortunately, I feel that some of the debate during question period was much less so.
    Before I turn the specifics of the motion, it is important to begin with some needed context and a clear understanding of how the current system works when it deals with sexual offenders.
    Canada currently has very robust measures in place. The national sex offender registry was established in 2004 under then prime minister Paul Martin's government by former public safety minister Anne McLellan. It was created as part of the Sex Offender Registry Information Act, which is a key element of the current system. Under this act, sex offenders have a legal obligation to register with police so they can be monitored in the community.
    The database is maintained and kept up to date by the RCMP. It contains important identifying information about convicted sex offenders across Canada, such as physical description, name, address, and place of employment. Sexual offenders are included in this database upon conviction, and police forces across Canada have access to it. This helps police officers prevent and investigate crimes of a sexual nature. It ensures sex offenders are properly registered and monitored and it serves as a vital tool for identifying high-risk offenders.
    When a high-risk sex offender is released from prison, the Correctional Service of Canada notifies local law enforcement and provides police with detailed information about the individual. This information includes a document such as the offender's criminal profile, records of institutional behaviour, and psychological and psychiatric evaluations. Local police can then notify the public.
    A key point to highlight in this regard is that most provinces and territories already have legislation or policies in place with regard to public notification about sex offenders. The majority of police forces across Canada already publicize information on any released sex offender whom they consider to be a potential danger to the public. Canada already has a registry the police can use to keep track of sex offenders. Most Canadian police forces already alert the public about sex offenders in their communities.
    That brings me to the notion before us and the new database the Conservatives are calling for in accordance with the former Bill C-26.
    Most of that legislation has already been brought into force, and our government is currently examining the sections of the law that allow for the creation of this new public database. I should point out that while the Harper government adopted legislation to create the database, it actually never created it. When the previous government introduced it at the end of its 10-year mandate, it never put any money into actually setting it up.
    I have heard fears expressed by some hon. members in the House, including in some of the comments made here today, that this database might be dismantled. One cannot dismantle something that has not been set up. The term “cancelled” was used. One cannot cancel something that has not been created.
    The question is not whether to take it apart but whether to set it up. Our government is giving the matter careful consideration, taking into account the needs and concerns of victims, the importance of helping parents and communities protect their children, the evidence about the utility and effectiveness of sex offender databases, and the experience in other jurisdictions.

  (1640)  

    Obviously this move is first and foremost about public safety and protection. When former Bill C-26 was being studied by the justice committee in 2005, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection expressed the view that public notification about sex offenders in high-risk cases could be of great assistance to families and communities, and the victims ombudsman stressed the importance of ensuring that victims have access to meaningful information so they feel “informed, considered, protected, and supported.”
    We recognize these concerns, and I specifically share them. The criminal justice system must always keep the needs of victims in mind and we must always do everything we can to prevent further victimization. The best way to do that is by implementing criminal justice policy that has been proven to keep the public safe and is evidence-based.
    To that end, we are aware of the questions that have been raised about the effectiveness of public notification systems and whether such systems might have unintended consequences, some of which I referred to in my questions earlier.
    One practical concern is that public databases might encourage sex offenders to go underground or be less likely to comply with police registries, which can have an adverse effect on the effective monitoring of these individuals and be quite detrimental.
    Sex offenders may also move to jurisdictions where they are not as heavily monitored, and that could be of particular concern with the proposed database we are talking about today, because the law would only allow this new database to include information that has already been publicly released. It would be of no help whatsoever in jurisdictions like Quebec and New Brunswick, which do not have any public notification systems, and it could actually encourage sex offenders to move to these provinces to avoid public exposure and scrutiny.
    Another concern is that people may use a public database to access information about sex offenders for the purposes of vigilante action, as has been in the case in certain jurisdictions. There is the possibility that such an action could be misdirected, especially if information in the database was incorrect or out of date.
    At the time Bill C-26 was being examined at committee, the Canadian Bar Association noted the possibility of innocent people falling victim to vigilantism if they were mistaken for offenders. Vigilantes have also been known to target the families of people on sex offender registries. These kinds of concerns need to be weighed against the benefit that a publicly accessible database would bring. We need to examine the evidence to determine, based on facts, whether this proposed database would make our communities safer, and that is exactly the work we are undertaking.
    One thing we do know for a fact is that treatment and reintegration programs like Circles of Support and Accountability have been proven effective at reducing recidivism among sex offenders.
    Circles of Support and Accountability is a Canadian-made, community-based program that is world renowned for its effectiveness in dramatically lowering rates of recidivism and preventing victimization. It was started by members of a Mennonite church in Ontario and involves some truly amazing volunteers who hold sex offenders accountable, support their reintegration, and protect Canadian communities.
    Circles of Support and Accountability works primarily with people who have committed one or more sexual offences and who require support to live a positive, crime-free life. This program has shown time and time again that it leads to fewer victims of sexual predation, which is exactly what each and every one of us in the House wants.
    The Harper government had research demonstrating that Circles of Support and Accountability reduced the rate of reoffending for sex offenders by almost three-quarters, from 22% to 5.6%. It is truly almost unheard of for programs to have that kind of efficacy.
    As a bonus, Circles of Support and Accountability saves money. Again, the Harper government's own research shows that every dollar invested in the program resulted in nearly fivefold savings in costs to the justice system and to victims. The Conservative government unfortunately cut all federal funding for that program despite its efficacy and despite how science proved it was working.
    At the time, Barbara Kay wrote a column in the National Post entitled “Ottawa's curious decision to cut funding to successful sex offender program”. In her words, “The cost [of Circles of Support and Accountability] is modest, the process benign, the burden on the community nil, the harm reduction proven.” She concluded that the government's choice to stop funding appears to be an incredibly misguided decision.

  (1645)  

    We recently reinstated that federal funding, allocating $7.48 million over five years to the national crime prevention strategy. We have also doubled the annual funding for the national flagging system program. The programs was established to track high-risk, violent sexual offenders and to ensure that prosecutors are aware of potential information regarding an offender's likelihood to engage in violent behaviour. It was recently evaluated and shown to be a very effective way of identifying and tracking high-risk offenders.
    As members can see, we are investing in programs that have been proven effective in keeping communities safe, and we are carefully examining additional measures, notably the database that is the subject of today's motion, to better understand the benefits and potential unintended impacts. While that examination continues and while the work of making sure we get public safety right continues, particularly when it comes to our children, we are not in a position to support the motion today.
    It is our government's intention to consult with communities, various stakeholders, and law enforcement experts to ensure that we have a firm understanding of the potential effectiveness of this initiative before we decide whether to move forward with its implementation.
    We also have to ensure that any future database is compatible with systems already in place in some provinces and territories. Different approaches across various jurisdictions may create implementation challenges, especially since the proposed database would capture only those offenders who are already subject to a provincial or territorial notification. That is why we will be consulting with our provincial and territorial partners. These consultations will inform our way forward on this issue and ensure that we are implementing and funding evidence-based criminal justice policies to protect our children and keep Canadians safe.
    The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and officials in the public safety department will be working very hard to that end over the upcoming months. In the meantime, we will continue to support the existing national sex offender registry as well as proven and effective programs like Circles of Support and Accountability and the national flagging system.
    The most important consideration is that the programs we fund and the measures we implement must have demonstrated positive impacts on public safety. This is not a matter of who cares more or less about protecting our children. We know we all care. It is a matter of doing what works best to protect them, not based on a gut feeling, not based on what sounds best in a sound bite, but based on where evidence leads us. Right now we are doing the work of getting those facts so that we can decide whether or not to create this new database, and, if we do, how to best go about it.
    This is a highly charged issue, but it is important for the public to know that the systems and controls that we have in place now—put in place in part, as I mentioned, by both Prime Minister Martin and Prime Minister Chrétien and by successive governments—established a framework to ensure community safety, and that when police feel somebody is dangerous, they can be used to notify the community. It is hyperbolic in the extreme to suggest that the only thing keeping our kids safe is this particular database, when in fact the database in question is aggregating existing publicly available information.
    On that basis, I think we can have a constructive dialogue about the particular utility of this database, but given the very real concerns that were raised around its misuse, it is only appropriate that we take a prudent and appropriate amount of time to get this incremental piece right. In the meantime, there are a raft of things that we know from evidence we can do and are doing to keep our children safe. I know that is a priority for us and I know it is a priority for every member of this House.

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, an individual can go onto the national registry, but as everybody in this House knows, it is not public. As I have said, I have worked in a constituency office for a number of years and have had a lot of interaction with people who had been the victims of sexual offences. One was a seven-year-old girl and another was a 12-year-old girl. I recognize what the parents went through.
    Following that, when the person was arrested in my own home town, the police were always being asked about it, but unfortunately that information is not public.
    The member seems to be worried more about the reintegration of an offender than about public safety or our children. That is of great concern. I would like to know the science behind that, because this is a very science-based government. I am saying that while biting my tongue.
    He is talking about science. I would like him to tell me, in terms of pedophiles, people who have sexually assaulted our children, what their chances are of re-victimizing.
    Mr. Speaker, I will go back to my earlier comments. When the member says that I care more about integration than I do about sexual victims, it is very unfortunate that—
    Answer the question.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. It is beneath this place and it needs to be called out.
    When any one of us in the House casts aspersions that somehow we do not care about the safety of our children, that somehow we do not care about sexual offenders, it is despicable. Every day we do something to keep our communities safe. I trust our police and chiefs of police that when there is a dangerous offender, they will let us know. When sexual violence hit my family in a very real way, I know exactly what it meant. To say that somehow I do not care about it is repugnant.
    Instead of—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. I realize this is a very emotional topic and emotions tend to bring out responses that are not very parliamentary at times. I want to remind hon. members that one person speaks at a time.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.

  (1655)  

    Mr. Speaker, specifically, when we talk about what works, it is fortunate we have a variety of different jurisdictions that have implemented different measures to ensure reporting is done safely. We know our police inform us. The information being talked about is already publicly available. What we do not want to do is rush into the kind of hyperbolic politics that is being articulated on the other side to try to win some partisan points at the expense of good public policy.
    So many of us here are parents. It is extremely important we get it right and what we do actually protects our communities, not protect our householders.
     Before I go to questions and comments, I would like to remind the hon. members that there are people who want to ask questions. On this topic, we seem to be going a little longer. Maybe members could try to keep it as concise as humanly possible. I know it is not easy.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.
    Mr. Speaker, the Chrétien government brought in the national flagging system, which proved to be fairly effective. A budget followed it. The Paul Martin government brought in the national sex offenders registry and, again, allocated resources for it.
    As the member has indicated to the House very clearly, we all care about the sensitivity of this issue. Could the member comment on how important it is that Ottawa work with different stakeholders and understand what we have in place as we try to move forward on a very important issue?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the lowest rates of violent recidivism and recidivism when it deals with sexual offences. That is because successive governments have implemented good policies. We also have phenomenal front-line police officers and police chiefs who do an incredible job of keeping our communities safe.
    Those measures have already been put in place. The question is what we can do to improve it. The hesitation we need to have, particularly in something as detailed and as complicated as this matter, is to ensure we do not have knee-jerk policies based on gut feelings. Instead we need to root ourselves in evidence and science to ensure what we put in will not make things worse. It is incredibly important for us to be prudent and cautious as we proceed.
     The member quite rightly points out that we have a wonderful base on which to stand. Very good work and policy has been done here. We always have to look at ways to make it better, but it has to be rooted in evidence.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate what the parliamentary secretary has outlined for us today as far as a vision. I was hoping he could expand a bit. He has shown great confidence in the system and what we are doing to move forward to ensure all our children are safe. However, I hear so many concerns from the other side. I would like to give the member extra time so he can let us know exactly what is in place right now so people can feel confident we are moving forward in the right direction to ensure our children are safe.
    Mr. Speaker, as was identified earlier, we have a national flagging system and databases available for police to access.
    When police officers get information that somebody is being released into a community, they can make a threat assessment and determine what the public needs to know. They can make the public aware that an individual is moving into a neighbourhood. Right now, there is a very high compliance with the system as it exists. The police are able to know where individuals are and are able to track them.
    One of the concerns with putting that on the Internet so everybody can search people's names and pictures and then point to them on the street is that if they have not been identified by the police as being a particular risk, everybody will start moving underground and moving off the system, not telling police where they are. We have to be very careful that we get right.
     The circumstance could very well be that if we brought this out, we would not know where dangerous offenders were. When police forces need to apprehend them or need to know what they are up to, they will have no idea where they are. That could be one unintended consequence.
    I have talked about vigilantism. Some think it is good if people commit vigilante violence against offenders who already have served their time and have been released. People have said that to me. I do not think very many people feel that way about the families of the offenders. There is a very real concern with families being targeted, people who have committed no crimes and are completely innocent.
    We have to take a step back, walk outside the cone of rhetoric we are thrown into, and ensure the policies we implement actually improve public safety and protect our children. Where the debate should centre, as we have this back and forth, is on that. The opposition party, the Conservatives, the New Democrats, the Greens, and the Bloc all have ideas. We can share that dialogue in a fashion where we understand others have ideas that they may feel are better than ours, but let us not go to that next point of saying that somehow members do not care about kids or care about dealing the predation. That is unbecoming and not worthy of this place.

  (1700)  

    Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the member's point on vigilantism. I think parents would like to know if somebody is across the street or down the road from them. I appreciate the police have a role, but it is also a parent's right to know if a pedophile lives down the street.
    California, which is a liberal state, a progressive state if we want to put it that way, has a registry. It even has apps so parents can find out where these pedophiles are, if they are on their street or in their neighbourhoods. Has the member gone to California? Has he talked to democratic legislators or lawmakers to see whether they find value in having a registry and apps? Why does it seem like it so impossible to do it here? I ask that question with all due respect.
    Mr. Speaker, I have been to California. The member might be interested to know that it has one of the highest violent recidivism rates in North America. If we are looking for places to emulate, California would be just about dead last.
    Second, I do not speak about parenting in the abstract. I am a parent. The issues the member talks about are ones that preoccupy my mind, and every parent's mind. When we are talking about parenting, I want to look at jurisdictions that are getting it right, not jurisdictions that are getting it wrong.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Niagara Falls and I serve on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights together. In the short time I have gotten to know him, I know him to be a man who treats these issues with sincerity and he cares about them.
    The motion before us looks at a bill that was passed in the previous Parliament, Bill C-26, which received royal assent on June 18, 2015. That act created what was called the High Risk Child Sex Offender Database Act. The motion before us revolves around that act, whether it is operational, has had the funding, etc.
    I want to state how important it is for us to protect our children from predators. I am a father of twin daughters and lucky to have a third one arriving later this year. I know all members in the House, whether Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Bloc Québécois, or Green, are very sincere in wanting to protect our children. I take that as a starting point. We want to ensure the policies and legislation coming out of this place are in the best interests of all Canadians and all children.
    As long as the sexual exploitation of children continues, we need to come together in this place to find effective ways to prevent and eradicate child sexual exploitation. I will note that New Democrats voted in the last Parliament for the Conservatives' Bill C-26 because of the importance of the issue. However, we were very clear that we were disappointed with the legislation as the Conservative government promised action, but there was no new funding to implement it.
     The Conservatives are now in opposition and accusations are being made about the Liberals, that the same problem exists, that there is no funding to implement the law.
    The New Democrats have always had a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual offences against children, and that has not changed. I speak for my entire caucus when I say that. We are disappointed that the Liberals and Conservatives are stuck in this argument that fails to address some of the key problems.
     There have been cuts, followed with years of lack of funding for the prevention of sexual offences against children. The funding has not been there to reduce the risks of recidivism. What is good about this debate is that we now have a chance to discuss how important it is to protect children from sexual predators.
    The committee heard from many witnesses in the previous Parliament that tougher sentences would not solve every problem. We need the resources immediately to counter sexual abuse against children.
    When the Conservatives moved their omnibus crime bill in the previous Parliament, the NDP helped move the provisions that dealt with sexual offences against children through faster than anything else. Members of the NDP have introduced private members' initiatives with a view to preventing the sexual exploitation of children. One of the major changes was to make it illegal to use a computer to organize an offence against a child.
    The NDP also fought for the Circles of Support and Accountability, an organization that works to reduce recidivism. Circles of Support and Accountability's numbers are impressive. One study found a 70% reduction in sexual recidivism for those who participated in the program compared to those who did not. Another study found an 83% reduction in recidivism. The program dramatically improves public safety, while not being prohibitively expensive. Despite the success of such an initiative, its funding was cut by the previous Conservative government.
    When the committee did the study for Bill C-26 in the previous Parliament, we brought forward some evidence-based amendments. We asked that it be explicit that the database not be used to identify victims.

  (1705)  

    We also moved an amendment that would make the minister provide an annual report to Parliament on the effectiveness of the law. As I have mentioned many times in the House, this goes to the ability of this place to hold the government to account for the programs it is operating. We felt that providing this annual report to Parliament would allow parliamentarians to judge the government's effectiveness of the program, to hold it to account, and to possibly provide the pressure to initiate changes that might be needed. We clearly want to know that our measures are effective, and we should see evidence of that fact. Unfortunately, those well-meaning amendments at the time were rejected by the Conservative government.
    Some of the initiatives taken by the Conservatives, when they were in government, starting in 2006, included the following. They implemented new mandatory prison sentences for seven existing Criminal Code offences. They made it illegal for anyone to provide sexually explicit material to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence against that child. This is a process that is often referred to as grooming. They strengthened the sex offender registry. They increased the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age. They also put in place legislation to make the reporting of child pornography by Internet service providers mandatory.
    These were all big steps to stop the sexual exploitation of children. The issue was that in 2014, the minister of justice at the time came to the committee and stated that sexual offences against children had increased by 6% over those past two years. This statistic obviously puts everything that was done into question if we have no resources. It is easy enough to change a law, but if that law is not backed up by the resources, it quickly becomes meaningless.
    I will highlight a point here. Over a five-year period, when the Conservatives were in power, the RCMP withheld some $10 million in funds that were earmarked for its national child exploitation coordination centre and related projects. These cuts were made partly because the RCMP had to conform to some of the deficit reduction action plans that were in place. They were made as the number of child exploitation tips from the public was increasing exponentially.
    I want to talk a little about the sex offender registry now. Canada's sex offender registry is currently only available to police. Federal prisons are required by the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to notify police of the release of a high risk offender, which can result in a community notification. This generally means a police media release that contains basic information about the offender and includes a photograph. Depending on provincial legislation, police can publicly disclose information if there is a significant risk to the public. However, the Conservatives are arguing with today's motion that the public should have access to more information on who is living in their communities.
    I want to look at the example that is employed by the province of Manitoba. It has a community notification advisory committee. It is made up of people from the criminal justice and mental health systems who have the expertise to determine whether an offender is likely to commit further crimes. It has representatives from the general public, Winnipeg and Brandon police, Manitoba public prosecutions, Manitoba corrections, Correctional Service of Canada, and Manitoba health. All of these agencies work together.
    After a thorough review of each case, the committee recommends measures that can range from no notification to full public notification, all based on the circumstances of the individual. It can even recommend that police take other steps to ensure community safety, such as surveillance.
    The Conservatives have been arguing that the public should have open access, but if we look at the measures that have been instituted in Manitoba, we already have an example of where there is an effective program that can institute a wide range of measures, depending on the circumstances.

  (1710)  

    The Sex Offender Information Registration Act is the act that established the national sex offender registry. As it stands now, the national database containing information on convicted sex offenders is managed by the RCMP. It provides access to current information on offenders to assist in the prevention or investigation of sexual offences. Under the current system, those convicted of certain sexually-based offences have to register with the police, and periodically update their personal information such as their name, address, the type of offence, and a recent photograph.
    Police currently notify the public when they deem there is a risk that warrants it. As I have stated, other jurisdictions have drafted their own protocols or legislation regarding public notification, and there are certainly some fine examples that we can be looking at.
    As I mentioned in my introduction, the legislation that was passed under the previous government, Bill C-26, made it possible for the government to create an online public database. The Conservatives, with this motion, are pushing the Liberals to go forward with this publicly available database. However, there have been some issues that have come up with the implementation of said database.
    An internal memo to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, by his officials, which was obtained recently by the Canadian Press, mentioned that a number of concerns have been raised, and that there was support for dropping the idea of a public database. The memo indicated that officials recommended proceeding with elements of the legislation that impose new reporting requirements on registered sex offenders, and allow for better information-sharing between federal agencies.
    Officials suggested Public Safety Canada and the RCMP undertake a review and consult interested parties for a fully informed assessment of the proposed new database, and then to develop options for the government. It is important these issues are dealt with before we go forward with sweeping changes that might not be effective in our fight against the sexual exploitation of children, which I will again repeat in this House is fully the goal of every member here.
    Just to look at some of the judiciary impacts, in the province of Quebec its bar has long held the position that a publicly accessible registry could cause many unwanted societal consequences. In 2003, the bar argued that there were risks of vigilante-style attacks, a propagation of fear, and a creation of a false feeling of safety. Another issue with the federal registry is that there is no national definition of a risk of recidivism. The current assessment of risk is different between the provinces, and if we are going to make a national public database, it should be based on a common definition of recidivism rather than a patchwork quilt.
    I want to do everything we can to protect public safety, which includes properly funding initiatives to put an end to child exploitation. The issue here is that there is not really any evidence that making the registry public would enhance public safety either by increasing arrest rates or by predicting the location of future offences. The police already have all of the relevant information in the current registry, and they are responsible for protecting public safety by using that information. We await the results of the ongoing review by public safety officials and the RCMP, who are at this moment studying further the possible merits and drawbacks of a public database.
    I will conclude by saying this is a good opportunity for us in the House to have a discussion on how to best end child sexual exploitation. I will repeat that the NDP has always had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual offences against children. We need an effective, well-funded regime that is based on evidence, not talking points. I look forward to hearing more from my colleagues from all parties in the House on this issue.

  (1715)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have some experience with the actual application of the sex offender registry. We have talked about the establishment of a federal sex offender registry but, in fact, it was the province of Ontario, in 1999, that implemented what was then called Christopher's law, a sex offender registry, which was the first of its kind in this country. One of the things that I have been very much directly involved with is the oversight in the application of that registry, and how it is used.
     I have just checked the Ontario community safety website where it speaks about the Ontario sex offender registry, the longest established, and I might suggest the most effective, in the country, and also in which the public does not have access. It makes the statement that this contributes to consistently higher offender compliance rates, resulting in increased accuracy and integrity of the data. It goes on to say this enhances public safety for Ontarians by providing police with the ability to have more accurate information about registered sex offenders.
    I can tell members from experience that an accurate, comprehensive sex offender registry gives the police the tools they need to monitor offenders in our community, to locate offenders, and to identify them for the purposes of investigation and prosecution. I can also tell members that it is the responsibility of police chiefs in Ontario to notify the public when, on the basis of evidence and threat assessment, they believe an offender represents a significant threat to the community, and I have, quite frankly, been involved in that notification on very many occasions.
    I ask the member, in light of that experience in Ontario, would he reflect on whether he believes this information should be made public for any other purpose other than the one I have already described?
     Mr. Speaker, in response, this is a very hard subject to talk about. No one wants to imagine any child being put through this. It especially hits hard to those who know children either their own, their immediate family, or their friends who have been affected. Ultimately, the cornerstone of my speech was about finding an effective way to make sure this does not happen.
    I trust our public safety officials, whether it is the RCMP, the local police, or the people in Corrections Canada. I highlighted the example that exists in Manitoba. I trust the people who have made a career out of public safety, and have our best interests at heart. I really look forward to the review that is being completed by Public Safety Canada.
    The House should adopt policies based on that review, and we should trust the officials who have made a career out of this, and who are very dedicated to their craft. Ultimately, it should be based on a collaboration of those officials. We also need to make sure that these systems are well-funded. It is one thing to pass a law, but we need to make sure that when that law is passed and when it is in effect, those agencies have the resources to operate. I look forward to continuing this conversation, and to seeing the report when it is tabled in the House.

  (1720)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member could help out with this from his discussions with his colleagues, particularly those who were here in the previous Parliament.
    This was a bill that was introduced by my successor, the Hon. Peter MacKay. The bill did one of the things that gets talked about here a certain amount of time, such as increased mandatory penalties for certain sexual offences against children, and increased maximum sentences for violations of prohibition orders and peace bonds. A big part of the bill addressed what we are talking about, and that is the public sex offender registry.
    Here is where I want to get some assistance from the hon. member. When this bill came up for second reading, I still remember to this day that it was supported by the Conservatives, Liberals, and the NDP at second reading to send it to committee. Believe me, it sticks out in my mind when the NDP and Liberals were supporting a bill that we presented to get tougher on crime. I am sure it may have happened some other time, and maybe it will happen again in the future. That being said, the bill was sent to committee, and when it returned here at third reading, it was carried by a voice vote here. Therefore, we had support all the way along. It was not something that came up three days before the election that the Conservatives were going to put in. As my colleague for St. Albert—Edmonton pointed out, it was consistent with what we were doing.
    The NDP supported us on this on the registered vote at second reading. We got it passed easily at third reading. What happened in the meantime? Does the member have any theories as to why the Liberals have changed their minds on this?
    Mr. Speaker, I was not present in the previous Parliament. I did work for former MP Jean Crowder as a constituency assistant, so I did have some awareness of what was going on in the previous Parliament. The member is correct that we supported Bill C-26. However, as I identified in my speech, we did have a few issues with the bill. We tried to move some specific amendments to make it stronger, in our view.
    As to what has happened since June 2015 until now, I did mention in the conclusion of my speech that Public Safety officials and the RCMP are currently conducting a review. They are studying further the possible merits and drawbacks of such a public database. I think we owe it to those officials who have made a career out of public safety, who study this issue, and who know the best practices to conduct their review and hopefully report those findings back to the House so that we can then proceed with an informed decision.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.
    The hon. member only has about five minutes, because we will be stopping at 5:30 p.m.

  (1725)  

    Mr. Speaker, those who know me well know I am a man of few words, so that should be more than sufficient to get across what I need to say today.
    I rise to speak to Bill C-26, an act to amend the Criminal Code, specifically the high-risk sex offender database. What is interesting, as was pointed out by my colleague, is that this bill was introduced by the Hon. Peter MacKay back in February of 2014, and because Parliament rose for the summer for the 2015 election, it did not become enacted into law.
    Bill C-26 summarized a number of things. It amended the Criminal Code, among other things, and there is a whole list of them there, which are great amendments in the bill. More specifically, it enacted the high-risk sex offender database to establish a publicly accessible database that contains information police services or other public authorities have previously made accessible to the public with respect to persons who are found guilty of sex offences against children and pose a high risk of committing crimes of a sexual nature. It is important to realize that what is intended in that specific piece of legislation is not information that will be made up. It is already available to the public.
    One of the reasons this database is great is that in my previous life, I, too, as the hon. member across the way pointed out earlier, was involved in ensuring that as a police service, we advised our public when there was a high-risk offender being released in our community. We went through the process of ensuring our public was made aware of it. What was interesting about that process was that not everybody was aware of it at the time we made it public, and they had no other place to go find it unless there was a database available. One of the key aspects of this amendment is that there would be a database available for the public, who missed the police initially advising the public of such an offender, where they could find that information out.
    What is interesting is that this piece of information, this publicly accessible database, contains specific information about persons who are found guilty of sexual offences against children and who pose a high risk to reoffend. The only information the database would contain under the legislation would be information that the police officer has previously made accessible to the public. This includes the offender's name, any aliases, date of birth, gender, physical description, a photograph, description of the offender's offences, any condition by which that offender is bound, and the name of the city, town, municipality, or other organized district in which the offender resides. That is information that is rightfully available and should be rightfully available to the public.
    As I said, not everyone is available to hear the first pieces of information the police provide in a media release to the public. Some people move into a community after that release is done. It would be great to have a database available so that parents can access it and find out who and where these people might live.
    The other interesting thing is that before this information is put into the database, the offender is notified of the intent to do so. That is also a critical component, as we found out in the past. In my previous life, this was something that we did on a regular basis.
    What is unfortunate is that this did not receive the royal assent, as the Parliament session ended for the summer and an election was called. No money could be allocated for this, as it was not up to the government at that point in time for the implementation.
    My suggestion is that the responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the current government to implement this act. It has had two years to do so and we still have no action on it.

[Translation]

    It being 5:30 p.m., pursuant to order made Tuesday, May 30, and today being the last allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the opposition motion.

  (1730)  

     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 Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
     Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
     The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): In my opinion the nays have it.
     And five or more members having risen:
     The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Pursuant to Standing Order 81(18), the recorded division stands deferred until later this day.
    [For continuation of proceedings, see part B]
    [Continuation of proceedings from part A]

[English]

Main Estimates, 2017-18

Concurrence in Vote 1—Privy Council Office  

[Business of Supply]
Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos (for the President of the Treasury Board)  
     moved:
    That Vote 1, in the amount of $129,915,146, under Privy Council Office — Program expenditures, in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, be concurred in.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin my remarks this evening by acknowledging that this week is the 25th annual National Public Service Week.

[Translation]

    Now is the time to celebrate the tireless work of the more than 250,000 public servants who support the Government of Canada and ensure that the needs of Canadians are met.

[English]

    I want to sincerely thank my officials who have supported me since the day I was sworn in as Minister of Democratic Institutions. They work hard to ensure that I am supported in my duties as minister. I feel proud and fortunate to work with such an exemplary group of public servants. Even more than that, Canada can be proud of the strength of its public service, thanks to individuals such as these. I thank them for all that they do.
     I am pleased to rise this evening to speak to this opposed vote. This particular motion deals with vote 1, in the amount of $129,915,146, under Privy Council Office program expenditures, in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018. Of this $129 million, $1 million deals with the creation of the new, non-partisan, merit-based Senate appointments process.
     As the Minister of Democratic Institutions, I am mandated to “restore Canadians' trust and participation in our democratic processes”. My job is to improve, strengthen, and protect Canadian democracy.
     I was honoured when the Prime Minister asked me to take on this portfolio, as, to me, it is one that touches every single Canadian. The effectiveness of our democratic institutions and the health of our democracy is one of the most defining features of our identity as a country. We know that when Canadians have faith in their institutions, they are engaged. It is when they lose faith in these institutions that they become disengaged from the process and disheartened by their lack of voice in the system.
    Unfortunately, Canadians' faith in the Senate was shaken during the Senate expense scandal that saw the previous Prime Minister's Office directly interfere in the day-to-day operations of the Senate. We listened when Canadians told us they were losing faith in this institution. We listened when they told us they did not think the Prime Minister's Office should be interfering in the careful deliberations of the upper house. We listened when they told us the Senate should not simply be a rubber stamp for the government in the House of Commons, but instead should be conducting its important constitutional role as the chamber of sober second thought. Under the previous government, the reputation of the Senate suffered.
    Canadians care deeply about their democracy. It is our job as legislators to ensure that we continue to strengthen and protect our great institutions.

  (1735)  

[Translation]

    That is why we announced in our 2015 election platform that, once elected, a Liberal government would set up a non-partisan committee whose members would be appointed based on merit and would propose candidates to the upper chamber to the Prime Minister.

[English]

    We made this commitment to restore Canadians' trust in this institution. The Senate, after all, plays a pivotal role in our Parliament, and as it is written in our Constitution, we cannot pass legislation without it going through the Senate.
    On January 19, 2016, we established the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments and launched a non-partisan, open, and transparent application process. It consists of three permanent federal members and two ad hoc members from each of the provinces or territories where a vacancy exists.
    The independent advisory board has a mandate to provide non-binding, merit-based recommendations to the Prime Minister on Senate appointments by carefully assessing applications using merit-based criteria. The advisory board looks to identify Canadians who would make a significant contribution to the work of the Senate.

[Translation]

    From now on, Canadians across the country will be able to apply to become a senator.

[English]

    The changes we made reflect our commitment to make the Senate a more open and transparent institution, a Senate that is arm's length from the government and less partisan than ever before.
    If Canadians want to apply to serve in the Senate, they simply have to visit the government's website, Canada.ca. Our government is committed to a merit-based assessment of Senate candidates. Our emphasis is on individuals who meet the merit-based criteria established by the government.
    The first such criterion regards gender, indigenous, and minority balance. Individuals will be considered with a view to achieving gender balance in the Senate. Priority consideration will be given to applicants who represent indigenous peoples and linguistic minority and ethnic communities, with a view to ensuring that representation of those communities in the Senate is consistent with the Senate's role in minority representation.
    The second criterion is non-partisanship. Individuals must demonstrate to the advisory board that they have the ability to bring a perspective and a contribution to the work of the Senate that is independent and non-partisan. They will also have to disclose any political involvement and activities. Past political activities would not disqualify an applicant.
    The third criterion is knowledge. Individuals must demonstrate a solid knowledge of the legislative process and Canada's Constitution, including the role of the Senate as an independent and complementary body of sober second thought, regional representation, and minority representation.
    The fourth criterion is personal qualities. Individuals must demonstrate outstanding personal qualities, including adherence to the principles and standards of public life, ethics, and integrity. Individuals must demonstrate an ability to make an effective and significant contribution to the work of the Senate, not only in their chosen profession or area of expertise but in the wide range of other issues that come before the other place.
    

[Translation]

    Since spring 2016, our government has appointed 27 senators through the new appointment process. Whether they are from Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario or British Columbia, they who have taken their sears in the Senate are all outstanding Canadians who are doing an excellent job on behalf of all Canadians. These new senators are from a variety of professional backgrounds; they are former judges, Olympians, engineers, civil servants, teachers, police commissioners and more, and they will add their knowledge and skills to the wealth of experience each member already brings to our institution.

  (1740)  

[English]

    While we have taken steps to modernize the Senate through the appointment process, the Senate itself has undertaken a number of modernization efforts to fulfill its important constitutional role. For example, the Senate has begun inviting ministers to appear at Senate question period. This gives senators an opportunity to directly question ministers in relation to their portfolios and mandates and to hold the government to account. I had the opportunity to appear before the Senate during its question period in February this year.
    Furthermore, a new special committee was created in the Senate to deal specifically with Senate modernization. This Special Committee on Senate Modernization has released 11 reports to date on a variety of modernization efforts the Senate can implement within the current constitutional framework. These reports deal with issues such as question period, the speakership of the Senate, regional interests, and more.
    On May 11, 2017, the Senate adopted the seventh report of the Senate Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. This report implemented recommendations from the Special Committee on Senate Modernization that amended provisions in the Senate rules to allow any group of at least nine senators to be recognized either as a recognized party in the Senate, as long as the party was registered under the Canada Elections Act, or had been in the last 15 years, or as a recognized parliamentary group formed for parliamentary purposes. This change is a response to the influx of senators who are now sitting with designations of Independent or Non-affiliated. There are currently 43 senators who are not sitting as part of a recognized political party.
    The Senate has also made changes to its committee structure. In December 2016, a sessional order was moved to increase the size of Senate committees to accommodate non-affiliated senators and to give them better representation on committees that is more in line with their numbers in the chamber.
    The Senate is taking an active role in modernization efforts, and we applaud all senators for their hard work in this regard.

[Translation]

    Our efforts to modernize the Senate by making it more open and transparent go hand in hand with our vision of governance.
    We promised Canadians a government that is fair, open, and transparent, and that is what what we are doing. In addition to reforming the Senate, the Prime Minister gave me a mandate to deliver on other government priorities, such as significantly enhancing transparency for the public at large and media in the political fundraising system for cabinet members, party leaders, and leadership candidates.
    I recently introduced Bill C-50, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing). This bill, if passed, will make political fundraising more open and transparent for Canadians.
    Any fundraising activity with a ticket price of $200 or more and involving the Prime Minister, cabinet members, ministers, party leaders, and leadership candidates currently sitting in the House of Commons must be publicly advertised at least five days prior to the event. In addition, a list of everyone in attendance must be submitted to Elections Canada within 30 days so that it can be posted online.

[English]

    Canada, it should be repeated, has one of the strictest oversight systems in the world when it comes to the financing of political parties. We have strict spending limits, a cap on annual donations, and a ban on corporate and union donations, but that does not mean we cannot do more to improve and strengthen our institutions.

  (1745)  

[Translation]

    Canadians have a right to know more about political fundraising in Canada. Bill C-50 will give Canadians more information than ever before on fundraising. This is part of my commitment and this government's commitment to protect, strengthen, and enhance our democracy.

[English]

    This commitment also led us to introduce Bill C-33, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. If passed, Bill C-33 would make it easier for Canadians to vote. It would make our elections more open and inclusive and would help to build confidence in the integrity of our voting system.
     Specifically, the legislation would do the following. It would restore the Chief Electoral Officer's ability to educate and inform Canadians, especially young people, indigenous Canadians, new Canadians, and others about voting, elections, and related issues. It would help more Canadians to vote by restoring vouching and using the voter identification card as ID. Guided by the Charter of Rights, it would break down barriers preventing millions of Canadian citizens living abroad from voting in Canadian elections. It would invite more Canadian youth into our democracy by allowing voting pre-registration for Canadians aged 14 to 17.

[Translation]

    If passed, this bill will strengthen the integrity of the electoral process by giving Elections Canada new tools to ensure that only Canadians with the right to vote are listed in the national register of electors. In addition, this legislation will increase the level of independence of the commissioner of Canada Elections.

[English]

    Bill C-33 would keep our government's promise to repeal certain elements of the previous government's so-called Fair Elections Act, which made it harder for Canadians to vote.
    We believe that Canada is better served when the franchise is extended to as many Canadians as possible, not restricted. We will continue to look at ways to encourage greater voter participation and engagement. We will continue to work with the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is currently studying the report of the Chief Electoral Officer, entitled “An Electoral Framework for the 21st Century: Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the 42nd General Election”.
    The committee has been studying this report, item by item, and I would like to thank them for all the work they have done so far in that regard. I very much look forward to receiving their recommendations.

[Translation]

    In closing, I would like to take this opportunity today to remind Canadians that our work is not finished. Indeed, as I carry out my mandate, I will continue to work hard to protect, strengthen and improve our democratic institutions. To that end, I am currently working with the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to assess our electoral process' degree of vulnerability to cyber threats.

[English]

    I will also be looking at bringing forward options to create an independent commissioner to organize political party leaders' debates during future federal election campaigns, with a mandate to improve Canadians' knowledge of the parties, their leaders, and their policy positions.
    I will also review the limits on the amounts political parties and third parties can spend during elections and propose measures to ensure that spending between elections is subject to reasonable limits.
    Our democracy is strengthened when Canadians can get directly involved in our process. While casting a ballot is one of the most important ways to make our voices heard in our democracy, we have to ensure that Canadians know that it can be so much more than that. We can do this by continuing to examine what barriers exist between Canadians and participation and by learning how to create pathways for meaningful engagement.
    I intend to do just that.
    Madam Speaker, we can tell that the minister has a very ambitious agenda. I know Canadians would know, through the Prime Minister's mandate letter, the task that has been asked of her.
    I want to pick up on the idea of enabling more voters to get out. One of the pet peeves I have, and we saw it with the Conservative government's legislation, is marginalizing the importance of the voter identification card. I wonder if the minister could provide her thoughts on the importance of the voter identification card and how it might be used going forward.

  (1750)  

    Madam Speaker, we know and have the facts from Statistics Canada that almost 200,000 Canadians did not vote in the last federal election because they did not have the sufficient identification required to vote. The voter identification card is an excellent way for Canadians to be able to use that as sufficient ID to cast their ballots. All Canadian citizens have the right to vote. We need to ensure that they have the opportunity and the possibility to vote and that is exactly what Bill C-33 intends to do. I hope that all members in the House share that the importance of democracy is ensuring that everyone can participate.
    Madam Speaker, last year I put a private member's bill forward, Bill C-237, the candidate gender equity act. Through discussions of that bill and the subsequent democratic reform committee, that proposal was put forward but was voted down both times by the government. Canada now is about 65th place in the world in terms of the percentage of women in the House of Commons. I am wondering if the minister has any concrete plans to make changes to increase the number of women in the House.
    Madam Speaker, obviously gender inclusion and ensuring that we have more gender balance in the House of Commons is a deeply important issue for me, as it is for this government. I thank the member for bringing forward his proposal. It is something that I am looking into to see what kinds of actions we can take because we know that we are richer when the House is more adequately reflective of the population at large. I look forward to carrying on conversations about what we can do to encourage more women to run for office and to see how we can support them when they do put their names forward.
    Madam Speaker, the minister spoke about Bill C-50, which she recently tabled, that sets out rules for how to perform cash for access fundraising. Of course, those who object to the practice, object to the idea of selling access to ministers. It is the principle that is objectionable. Does she at least recognize the difference between an ordinary MP and ministers of the crown who are in charge of disbursing large amounts of government funding, together around $300 billion a year?
    The bill does not stop that practice, but I wonder if she recognizes that there is a difference between the influence that ordinary MPs have with respect to government funding and the influence that ministers of the crown have.
    Madam Speaker, as it is clearly outlined in Bill C-50, this legislation would only apply to cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister, party leaders, and leadership contestants. It is precisely to provide more information to Canadians about political fundraising. It is within the rights of Canadians to contribute to a party, to a leader, to a candidate who shares values, who shares ideas, who shares aspirations for the future of our country, and that is precisely why this legislation is designed to provide more information than ever before about who is attending fundraisers, when they happen, and where they are taking place.
    Madam Speaker, I am somewhat confused in the minister's answer just now because in the rules that she is bringing forward what they are really trying to do is make it so that all cash-for-access fundraisers with Liberal cabinet ministers will now be legal, which currently does not fit under their own guidelines that were laid out by the Prime Minister and put in their mandate letters.
    As the Minister for Democratic Institutions, which includes this place, in the late hours last night the House leader for the government tabled a notice of a new Clerk coming to our chamber from the Senate. I want to know whether or not the government consulted with the Speaker and other parties before they made this unilateral decision.

  (1755)  

    Madam Speaker, that question is better posed to the government House leader, as this was not part of my portfolio. However, I do welcome and congratulate the individual whom we are putting forward for recommendation. My understanding is that he is of exceptional quality and has a long and distinguished career in this place, in Parliament.
    Furthermore, I also want to use this opportunity to clarify that Canada has very strict rules when it comes to political fundraising. In fact, the maximum an individual can contribute is $1,550 a year, a level that was put in place by the previous government . We do believe it is important for Canadians to be able to exercise their democratic expression by supporting a political party of their choice. I know that all members in the House fundraise in order for them to run campaigns, that parties require funds to be able to operate, and that parties play an important and vital role in the democratic engagement and discourse that we have in this country.
    Madam Speaker, I have another, related question. The minister mentioned the limit of $1,550. The Province of Quebec has always led the way when it comes to electoral finance. Currently, my understanding is that individuals can donate only $100 there. That is the limit for donations. I wonder if the minister would ever consider lowering the limit. Fifteen hundred and fifty dollars seems a bit excessive and most Canadians could not afford that. Would the minister ever consider lowering the limit from $1,550 to, say, $500 a year?
    Madam Speaker, as my hon. colleague knows, every province regulates how it does political fundraising and that is up to each province to decide. I believe that at the federal level this is a reasonable limit. With regard to that, it should be noted that the average donation is about $207 a year. There are fewer than 2% of Canadians who are members of political parties and who donate to political parties. It is something that more people could contribute to. It is just $5. It is a way to express support for a party that shares the ideas and the aspirations that people have as a country.
    Madam Speaker, in the minister's mandate letter, it says to bring forward options to create an independent commissioner to organize the political party leaders' debate, and she did mention that. On this independent commissioner, will the minister promise in the House not to follow the process followed by the government when it failed to appoint a Commissioner of Official Languages, and actually commit to doing a thorough process whereby all parties in the House are consulted in person through a committee where we can all agree, with the members of the New Democratic Party as well?
    Madam Speaker, in fact I have already begun consulting with the parties opposite, both the leaders and the presidents of the parties as well as my opposition critics, on a whole range of issues including the debates commissioner within my mandate letter. Furthermore, I am particularly pleased and proud that we are going to be bringing this forward, since the party opposite refused to participate in the consortium debates during the last federal election. This is in specific response to ensure that if a party leader decides not to participate we will have debates and Canadians will be able to participate.
    In 2011, 11 million Canadians tuned in to the national consortium debate. In 2015, because the previous prime minister refused to participate, the debate with the largest viewership was four million. This is an important initiative to ensure that during an election Canadians have access to the ideas, to the policies, and to the individual who is asking for their vote and for their trust.
    Madam Speaker, before I begin, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Manning.
    I am here tonight to speak about the estimates and about the part of the process that I am specifically charged with, which is being the critic of the Treasury Board and is also related to the budgetary things we find the government doing, the out-of-control spending we are watching, the fact that the debt is growing, and the fact that this will be put off to future generations. I will touch on a few things first, if I am allowed. I want to talk about what has been proposed by the government in terms of estimates and the reforming of estimates.
    First, we should indicate that changes to the Standing Orders of the House are traditionally done with the unanimous consent of all parties. We do not take lightly the proposal to change the Standing Orders for estimates reform, although the government thinks differently. It thinks it can ram it through unilaterally and do what it wants. Its proposal would drastically reduce the time Parliament has to examine how government spends taxpayers' money. The government can improve this kind of accountability to parliamentarians without a change to the Standing Orders.
    When it comes to the rationale for why the government is proposing to table the main estimates on May 1, the stated goal of the proposal is to delay them and therefore improve the alignment of the main estimates with the budget. However, there is no fixed date for the budget, or even a requirement by any government to table a budget, and there have been times in this country's history when it was appropriate not to table a budget in this Parliament. If we change the rules around what a government can and cannot do all of a sudden without that government agreeing to table a budget on fixed budget dates, then we are starting to take out the accountability factor that the government seems to want to have in terms of the House of Commons and parliamentarians.
    Ultimately, alignment of the two documents will depend on streamlining the internal government processes and the timing of the budget, which are both under the full control of the government, so it should be very clear that a change in terms of when estimates are tabled could easily be done by the government without putting changes into the Standing Orders.
    The primary implication of this change would be to drastically reduce, as I have mentioned, the time Parliament has to consider the main estimates for their approval. As this debate has been going on for some time, at least since the end of last year and into this year, several people have weighed in on it. I will read three quotes, and this is from the parliamentary budget office in terms of the report they wrote called “Considerations for Parliament in Reforming the Business of Supply”, dated November 22, 2016. The first quote comes from pages 11 and 12:
     Unless the Government is able to present a clear plan to reform its internal management processes, this example shows that it is unlikely that delaying the release of the main estimates by eight weeks will provide full alignment with the budget.
    In other words, the stated goal would not be achieved in terms of what the analysis of the parliamentary budget office said when it looked at what was being proposed. The second quote comes from the same document and it reads:
     The Government asserts that Parliament does not play a meaningful role in financial scrutiny. [The parliamentary budget officer] disagrees with this view. We note that notwithstanding the Government’s performance information of admittedly poor quality, and their inability to reconcile the Government’s spending proposals, parliamentarians have performed a commendable job of asking pertinent questions in standing committee hearings, Question Period and Committee of the Whole.

  (1800)  

    Again, this is part of the analysis of the parliamentary budget officer in terms of what the government wants to do. The third quote comes from The Globe and Mail, November 2, 2016, which quoted the former parliamentary budget officer, Kevin Page, as saying:
    On budget and estimates alignment, the report suggests that MPs should consider a delay in the tabling of main estimates until well after the start of the fiscal year. How does that improve financial control? Bureaucrats are effectively saying Parliament would review requested spending after the start of the fiscal year on April 1, with budgets tabled in late winter. If you start from the perspective of financial control, Parliament should see the fiscal plan, departmental plans and requested authorities (voted and statutory) before April 1.
    The point of reading these quotes is that, to get our agreement to unanimously support this, we have been simply told to trust the government. At the end of the day, when we have brought up the issues, the President of the Treasury Board essentially ends the conversation by saying we just have to trust the Liberals, because he has been in Parliament for so long, over 20 years, and he has experienced more of Parliament from the opposition benches than the government benches, and he knows that this would help.
    Estimates reform is a worthy goal. It is one which many Parliaments have tried to tackle. However, this is done in such a way as to not want to take input from the opposition and to, in fact, reduce the amount of scrutiny that the opposition has. The bottom line, in many ways, is that Parliament would have less scrutiny by way of confidence votes on financial matters in the House.
    Why does that matter to the opposition? It matters greatly, because many times in our country's history, especially in minority governments, there are times when other issues are crowding in around the administration of a minority government. On every occasion, to have a confidence vote is an important occasion for the opposition in terms of having a tool to hold the government to true account. Therefore, when we reduce those, we are taking away some of that. This is reminiscent in many ways of what was tried by the government with Motion No. 6.
    Motion No. 6 was a reactionary, spiteful motion put before us which basically took away many of the powers that are given through our parliamentary democracy for the opposition to use to hold the government to account. In that scenario, Canadians spoke up, and told the government that it was wrong, and it eventually backed-off from Motion No. 6.
    There are some parallels here to being told what it is we are going to have in terms of financial accountability on the government side to the opposition in saying, “Well, we just need to do it, because we feel it is the right thing.” This goes against the traditions of the House.
    I want to tie this to the record of the government on financial issues or its economic record. We see in the overall scheme of things, especially now with what is being debated in the Senate today, there are escalations on certain forms of taxation being automatically put into the budget bill. Of course, our friends in the Senate are debating them today, and will continue to debate them whether this is good for Canadians or not.
    In looking back, I want to focus on two things in terms of not only the broken promises, the $10 billion tiny deficit the Liberals campaigned on but also the things that really affect Canadians. However, my time has run out, and so I will stop there.

  (1805)  

    I am sure the member will be able to provide some more information during questions and comments.
    Questions and comments. The hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.

  (1810)  

    Madam Speaker, The Globe and Mail has called the current sequencing of the estimates bad, to the point of absurdity, and said that it is a discredited practice that has only served to keep MPs in the dark about how tax dollars are being spent. When the member is studying the main estimates, does the hon. member not want them to include items from that year's budget, so the estimates are actually relevant?
     Madam Speaker, absolutely, I do. We do reconcile them, through the supplemental estimates that we have right now. The process we have has worked well. As the parliamentary budget officer said in his quote, parliamentarians have done an admirable job in lining them up. They will never be lined up totally. That would depend on when the Minister of Finance decides to table a budget. It will never be perfect. This by no means even comes close to those alignments being perfect.
    Frankly, The Globe and Mail is wrong about that. I have been here nine years, and I have worked through the supplemental estimates process, lined up what the spending has been relative to, what the budget presentations have been and, frankly, I agree with the parliamentary budget officer and not The Globe and Mail.
     Madam Speaker, I want to read further from the PBO report on estimates reform. He said:
     Before agreeing to changes proposed by the government, parliamentarians may wish to visit the core problem that undermines their financial scrutiny: the government's own internal admin processes. President of the Treasure Board's policy papers mention these can materially delay the implementation of government programs...Supplementary (B) tabled on November 3 contained 51 measures worth $1.7 billion that was originally proposed seven months earlier in the budget.
    It is very clear that changing the date of the estimates is not going to help with the alignment if the government is still taking 7 to 18 months to get programs out the door. Why does my colleague think the government is trying to change the Standing Orders and preventing parliamentary oversight?
     Madam Speaker, it kind of goes back to the question of, what is the motive here? Is it truly pure, as has been attempted to be presented, that this would truly make things more understandable for parliamentarians?
    There is nothing in these changes to simplify how the numbers are reported. Frankly, if we look at the size of these documents, and the detail to which they go, they are not an easy read. They are not easy for people who do not have an accounting numbers orientation to be able to sort through. I would rather see the emphasis of the government to try to make them more understandable, make them more readable, than with the alignment.
    The alignment is a good thing. I am not suggesting it is a bad thing. However, the real motive here is to actually chip away at the scrutiny that we have as parliamentarians, all parliamentarians, not just the government, because the government can do what it wants when it has a majority. However, the question has to be asked, if we make these changes, and we have a minority government, what are the long-term effects of these changes? In this case, it is taking away some of the scrutinizing powers that opposition has if we go with these changes, as written.
    There has been some talk of them being open to amendments, and open to negotiation on certain things. I await what those might be. However, the reality is that, as proposed, the real motivation is just to make life a little easier for them.
    Madam Speaker, I find it somewhat ironic that we are tonight debating the main estimates, or the government's projection for what it is going to spend this year. It is ironic, because there is little if any chance the Liberal estimates bear any relation to reality.
    Perhaps we need to change the parliamentary wording. All of us on this side of the House, and probably on the other side, would be more comfortable if we were to refer to it as the wild guesses put forward by the government. Perhaps, given its desire to legalize marijuana, we could call it pipe dreams. That would probably be a better description. Certainly, this spending program has no basis in reality.
    If we want reality, I would encourage members to look at the accomplishments of our previous Conservative government under the leadership of Stephen Harper. During the worst economic downturn since the great recession, Canada had the best job creation and economic growth record among G7 countries. We reduced taxes to the lowest point in 50 years, with a typical family of four saving almost $7,000 per year from what they were paying under the previous Liberal government. Also, after running a targeted stimulus program that created and maintained approximately 200,000 jobs, we kept our promise to balance the budget, and we handed the Liberals a surplus in 2015.
    Of course, we all owe our thanks to the late, great Jim Flaherty for his steady guidance over several years. Today, that surplus is a forgotten memory, lost to history, as are the Liberal promises of electoral reform, or a small budget deficit. Instead, we have out of control reckless spending with no plan to bring any fiscal order to Canada's finances.
    The government may realize that money does not grow on trees, but it is hazy on where it comes from. Certainly, the basic economic fact that borrowed money must eventually be repaid, and with interest, does not seem to have made its way into the Liberal financial handbook. From what I can see, the Liberal economic plan is a simple one, stumble along blindly and hope the Conservatives will come back and fix it in 2019.
    The Liberals have failed to grow the economy. According to the parliamentary budget officer, economic growth forecasts for 2016-2021 are lower today than they were when the Liberals started their spending spree. The PBO says the Liberals' infrastructure plan added only .06% to GDP, and created only 1,900 jobs in 2016-17, far lower than promised in budget 2016.
    Philosopher George Santayana is often quoted as having said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I do not know whether he had the Liberals in mind when he made his observation, but the government certainly proves the truth of his observation. As in the 1970s, the Liberals' reckless spending is causing public debt to grow uncontrollably. Our nation still has not repaid the massive Liberal debt incurred then, and the government is adding to it and repeating it.
    I have a message for the Minister of Finance, information that may be new to him that he might find helpful in his planning. Borrowed money must be paid back. At some point in time, those who have been so eager to lend him money are going to want their money back, and definitely with interest. When that happens, he is going to have to find the money. He is going to look like crazy for money everywhere, and no better place, as the government has a history of doing, but to reach deeply into the pockets of Canadians to make up for its crazy spending it always repeats.

  (1815)  

    What has happened is that money has to be repaid. The obligation is obvious to us. The government has no idea how it will pay the debt back.
     Madam Speaker, you and I both know how the Minister of Finance is going to pay for this reckless spending. I suspect he knows, too, but he does not want to admit to Canadians that he has no plan. I am sure he knows Liberal governments have historically paid for overspending only by raising taxes.
    In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Death and taxes may be inevitable, but unjust taxes are not.” We have seen this already.
     The Liberals have already raised taxes on middle-class families, students, and small business owners, whether it is the CPP tax hike on youth, middle-class families, and small businesses, killing jobs and small businesses. They have cancelled incentives such as the children's fitness tax credit, the children's art tax credit and the textbook tax credit. The Liberals are raising taxes, all the while claiming they are not. The irony is that they claim they are not, while they are doing it, and doing it badly.
    When they kept the small business tax rate at 10.5%, when it was supposed to down to 9%, and ended the hiring credit for small businesses, they showed they did not understand the importance of small businesses to the Canadian economy.
    I was a business owner before entering political life, so I know how business works. The finance minister apparently does not understand that increasing taxes on businesses is not the way to create jobs. Increasing taxes on businesses kills jobs. That may be why the job-creation record of the government is so dismal, so low, and a disaster. I suppose that lack of understanding on the Liberals' part explains why they are so eager to impose a carbon tax on all Canadians, a move that will increase consumer prices on practically everything, while killing jobs in the process.
    We need to protect our environment. However, I fail to see how a carbon tax, which will put people out of work, will help Canadians and our economy. I must admit the financial numbers the government has put forward are impressive. They are certainly not based on reality and are certainly not what Canada needs, but they are still impressive.
     Looking at them, I can only come to the conclusion that the finance minister has missed his calling in life. He is obviously wasted in this place where the true nature of his talent is not appreciated. I would suggest that in the future, he present his budget, his estimates, his fiscal updates, and other financial statements not to the House, but to His Excellency the Governor General.
    The minister may be unaware of it, but each year the Governor General presents an award for the best work of Canadian fiction published for that year. From what I can see from the numbers being presented to the House, the minister would be guaranteed to win this year's fiction award. Maybe in the future the Liberals will adopt some economic policies designed to help, rather than hurt, the Canadian economy and ordinary Canadians. I look forward to that day, no matter how unlikely it seems.
    We really can learn from the lessons of history. That is why, after a few years of reckless Liberal government spending, we know the Conservative Party will be trusted by the Canadian people to put together a fiscal policy that will be in the best interests of all Canadians.

  (1820)  

    Madam Speaker, I do enjoy some time on the finance committee with the member for Edmonton Manning. He mentioned fiction. There really was a lot of fiction in that speech.
    I will give the member a little history about debt in our country.
     During the Mulroney years, the debt went up, and that was a Conservative government. Then the Chrétien and Martin years was when the government had to make hard decisions. I come from a region where those hard decisions really hurt. The government made those decisions, balanced the books, and had a surplus for eight or nine budgets.
    Then Mr. Harper came along and drove us into $170 billion dollars worth of additional debt in the country. It was not just the debt that was the problem; it was the services he cut. He cut back on the military. He had the lowest spending on the military of any prime minister in 50 years. While he talked a different line, he cut the investments into science and research.
    The budget from the Liberal Minister of Finance makes investments. The target for balancing the books is not there yet, but we will not create fiction. We will take our time and do it right. We have invested in infrastructure and research and science. Why can the member not see that this investment is there for the future, for our children and grandchildren?

  (1825)  

    Madam Speaker, you probably could have given the chair of the finance committee a few more minutes to make his own speech. I am really enjoying what the member has just said.
    The member talks about cutting down. We all know that when there are financial difficulties and we are going through a recession, the worst since the first great recession, people need to take all the proper measures if they are truly good managers, businessmen, and financial managers. Those measures were taken by the Conservative government to fix the economy. We came back with a surplus in 2015 and balanced the budget.
    Since the hon. member mentioned balancing the budget, why do you not stick to the old rules and why do you not read the books of the previous government on—
    Order, please. I remind the member that he is to address his comments and questions to the Chair.
    The hon. member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.
    Madam Speaker, the member opposite likes to talk, as the previous member said, a little fiction. I would like to remind the member about some of the investments our government has made in infrastructure, billions into innovation, into the Canada child benefit, where $5.9 million goes into my own riding every month to help 9,600 families. Seventeen thousand children will benefit. All that money is spent locally in my riding. That has had a huge economic impact on my riding.
    I would like to remind the member as well that economists keep upping their growth projections for Canada, going from 2.6% in January to now 3.5%. In his mind, are these investments not making that kind of a difference?
    Madam Speaker, in reality, what the member calls investment, we call crazy and unnecessary spending. If this can really be called investment, it should come with good results on the ground. We are not seeing those results.
    The reports from the PBO show that your return on investment is next to nothing and is therefore not helping. The strategy the Minister of Finance is using is not the right one, is not working, and you must reconsider.
    Again, I want to emphasize that the member should not use the word you. It would be so much easier to address the questions and comments to the Chair. That way there would not be any interruptions.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the main estimates tonight. I will pick up on a theme of the discussion so far, at least for part of the evening, on the topic of the estimates, particularly estimates reform and how we could do a better job of bringing financial transparency and therefore accountability to Parliament.
    It was a theme of the President of the Treasury Board early on in his mandate. He reached out to other parties to talk about it. He even presented a briefing package on some ideas he had for reform and how to address some of the problems, which had to do with a number of things. In some cases it is the alignment, as we have discussed tonight, between the budget document and the estimates documents. There is also a difference in the way the accounting is performed for each document. The budget is done under accrual based accounting, whereas we have cash accounting in the main estimates. There is sometimes confusion for parliamentarians around some of the line items because they are not attached to particular programs.
    All these issues were identified by the President of the Treasury Board, with some proposals to fix them. I, along with my fellow Treasury Board critic from the Conservative Party, noted that a lot of these reforms really were things that needed to be done administratively by government. They were not things that required a legislative fix.
    In the beginning of this reform, if we looked at the President of the Treasury Board's reform package as a whole, it really was not a bad package. It is fair to say that if we could adopt it holus-bolus, it would move us in the right direction for parliamentarians and Canadians to better understand Parliament's financial documents and therefore provide more openness and transparency. The proposal for moving forward ended up being not the kinds of things a government could do administratively, which are ultimately required for those reforms to be a success.
    However, the first ask was that we change the Standing Orders to simply allow the main estimates documents to be tabled later. That, in and of itself, does not provide any guarantee of better financial documents, financial documents that are easier to read. It does not provide a guarantee that the budget and the estimates will align. It simply allows the government to take more time to table the main estimates, which may well be used by a sincere well-meaning government to make those documents cohere. However, it may be abused by other kinds of governments we have seen in this place from time to time.
    It is hard to understand why, with a well-outlined program for reform, the only thing the government seemed to be trying to aggressively advance, and in some ways it was putting the cart before the horse, was the one thing that would diminish accountability unless there was a lot of serious follow-up from the government.
     We have cause to be skeptical at this point in the government's term about its good faith with respect to these kinds of things. The mood here, rightly, is far more skeptical about its commitment to openness and transparency than it was at the beginning of the term.
     I offer up the example of Glen McGregor, a reporter from CTV. He recently asked, under an access to information request, to get an itemized list of the overall number of staff, not the particular staff, in the Prime Minister's office and their salary range. What he got was a list with every name blacked out. That is hardly a step in the direction of accountability and transparency.
    When the President of the Treasury Board comes forward and asks us to trust the government and consent to backing up the date for the tabling of the main estimates, because it believes in being more open and transparent, and then a reporter wants to know how many people are employed by the Prime Minister's office and what their pay range is, not the specific people and the specific pay, and receives an answer that clearly flies in the face of openness and accountability, we have a reasonable cause to doubt the sincerity of the government and its proposed change.

  (1830)  

    This was the same tactic used by the Harper government when it was asked similar questions about the PMO.
    When the Liberals were elected, they said they were going to make changes, that they were going to be more transparent and provide more accountability. Now the Liberals are asking us to change the Standing Orders in a way that would allow an insincere government to simply reduce time for scrutiny, and then they pull stunts like that, not providing legitimate information about their staffing and their spending when they easily could. It becomes hard to trust them.
    The government is also becoming notorious for making big funding announcements but back-ending the funding. The Liberals talk about big numbers, such as $180 billion being invested in infrastructure, but just a tiny fraction of it will actually be spent in this Parliament, never mind this budget year.
    The government says we should trust it when it wants to change the tabling date of the main estimates. It claims to be sincere. It says it wants more openness and more transparency, yet every day in question period ministers get up and misrepresent the amount of money the government is actually investing. We could pick any issue. The government is doing this with respect to defence, to housing, to child care, and it has done it with a number of other issues. I could spend a full 20 minutes just listing the policy areas where the government is daily misrepresenting information and executing a lack of transparency.
    It makes me wonder, and I think fairly, whether we can trust the Liberals when they present their big shiny package of reforms to make the estimates better. They just want to do this one little thing for themselves first, and then they expect us to trust them that the rest will come.
    We heard that from the President of the Treasury Board apparently quite sincerely at the beginning of his mandate. He came to the access to information, privacy and ethics committee many times to say that he wanted to reform access to information laws in this country. He said he wanted a government that was open by default and that the Prime Minister shared his views. He stated it was in his mandate letter. He told us at committee that the government was going to move forward with its reforms to access to information and it was going to be done in a two-stage process. Incidentally, no reform is needed for access to information requests in order to disclose of the number of staff in the Prime Minister's Office and their salary ranges. They can just do it. They do not need to wait on reform for that.
    If the Liberals wanted to model the kind of open and transparent government that they foresee by changing the Standing Orders and by changing the law, they could do it tomorrow. In fact, they should have started doing it well before yesterday, but they did not.
    In terms of the commitment by the President of the Treasury Board to have a two-stage reform to access to information, he made a couple of administrative reforms, but nothing in the law itself. We have waited a long time. In fact, we were supposed to be debating legislation in the House by now that would have changed the access to information regime, but we are not. Not only are we not debating it now, but we are not going to be debating it any time soon. That announcement was made by the minister himself. He announced that the changes will not be coming, at least not any time soon.
     I raise this point because it is important. If we are being given the “just trust us” line by a government that wants to change the estimates process in a way that would ultimately reduce scrutiny unless the government was acting in very good faith, then as an opposition party it is our duty on behalf of Canadians to ask if we can trust the government on this proposal.
    When we take into account the Liberals' behaviour in disclosing information under the current access to information regime, which they could do much more readily than they do, and when we take into account their record on other issues where they have said they were going to do something and then reneged, any right-thinking Canadian would look at their record and say we need to stick with what we have until they are ready to bring in more of the package at the same time so that some of the other elements that introduce more accountability and more transparency come with the change. That change would be tolerable if the other measures were in place. What is not tolerable is to move ahead with that alone and expect to get openness and transparency from the government later.

  (1835)  

    We just saw today a vote on a way to make appointment processes more open and more transparent. That did not come out of nowhere. That came out of a catastrophe on the government's part, in trying to nominate a candidate to become an independent officer of Parliament and failing miserably to select a candidate who could perform that function, because in order to be an independent officer of Parliament, the person has to enjoy the confidence not just of the government but of all the parties in Parliament.
    There are ways of establishing processes that would allow them to nominate candidates that could hold the respect of all the parties in Parliament. We suggested one yesterday in our opposition day motion. After they criticized it, they said, “Everything else is good, but there is one thing we cannot agree to”, so we amended it to solve that problem for them. They still would not support that motion.
    Again we hear, “Just trust us on the estimates reform. We are going to move ahead with this one tiny piece of the whole package.” The package together actually makes a lot of sense, but they are asking us to just trust them that they are going to follow up. It is simply not believable. On access to information, for instance, we just heard recently that in the Liberals' first 18 months in government, their track record on access to information is worse than the previous government's track record in its last 18 months of government. We are just not at the point anymore where the “just trust us” line is adequate.
    It is important to try to understand these documents better, because significant things end up happening within the context of the main estimates. One of the consequences from these estimates in my home province is that the Coast Guard facilities in Gimli, Manitoba, and in Kenora are going to be shut down. An open and transparent government that was serious about having people understand what it was doing when it came to the finances of the country and the financial decisions that it was making would have gone out and consulted with people in the community and made it clear. It would not have buried it in a line item in the main estimates or in the budget. Government members would have gone out and talked to people in the community about the reasons for the closures.
     It could be that the government felt those services were not effective. That is not what we hear if we talk to people in the community, who, with respect, know better than people here in Ottawa. I have asked before in this House, and I will ask again: how many of the seven Liberal MPs from Manitoba knew before it was announced that those Coast Guard stations were going to be closed, and what lobbying did they do to prevent it from happening? Clearly they failed, if they made any effort at all, but it would be nice for people back home to know what the Liberals are doing to represent people back home.
    There is a story that just broke in the Winnipeg Free Press about Canada 150 money. A reporter who has followed the money said that Manitoba is clearly not getting its fair share of the Canada 150 funding. Again, where are the seven Liberals from Manitoba who ought to be advocating for us to make sure that we are getting our fair share? It was not until I raised the issue of the post-secondary institution strategic investment fund here in the House that we started to see at least some announcements being made in Manitoba under that fund. When we are talking about how the government spends its money, it is right to ask where the Manitoba Liberals are on those files and why it is that in a number of cases Manitoba has been consistently under-represented in terms of its fair share of funding.
     It is another fair question to ask where is the federal government is when it comes to meaningfully dealing with OmniTrax, which has not been doing its fair share in terms of the community in Churchill. OmniTrax, after getting a sweetheart deal to take over the railway, has been getting a lot of money in public subsidies, and that money has been going to Denver, Colorado. It has not been reinvested in that railway. Now that there is a flood, the rail infrastructure is inadequate and the town of Churchill is in crisis because the people cannot get food and other supplies to town. We just have not heard the quick response that is needed to provide assurance to people in Churchill that they are not going to be left out in the cold by the current government. I say again, where are they and where is the money when we are talking about estimates and we are talking about a budget?
    Those are just some of the problems.

  (1840)  

    I appreciate my colleague from the Conservative Party bringing up the issue of estimates reform, because it is an important issue and it is something we have to tackle. However, I emphasize that what it comes down to when we talk about reform is sequencing that reform properly to ensure that members of this House who are not in the government have the appropriate tools they need to hold the government to account all the way along. Otherwise, we are in a position of having to press them on reform.
    Another important reform issue in this Parliament was the government's commitment on electoral reform. I think that speaks quite clearly to the character of the government and why people on this side of the House cannot trust it.
    The government made a black-and-white promise that 2015 would be the last election under the first-past-the-post system. The Liberals spent a lot of money to break that promise. They struck a special committee that travelled across the country. It took up the time of Canadians who were calling for action and who were not paid to go to testify at that committee. If they had been paid for their time, because their time also matters, the bill would have been that much higher. The committee came back and put the report together, and it was tossed aside by the minister at the time.
    Then the Liberals had the gall, I think knowing already they had no intention of keeping that promise, to go out and spend literally millions of dollars on a bogus survey that was designed to obfuscate the issue and give them an out, which was the special committee, because the Liberals, despite saying that they wanted Parliament to be a place where people would work together, were hoping that the opposition parties would not work together. The opposition parties went out, did that, and showed them a way to keep their own promise.
    It is pretty wild when the opposition parties are working harder to keep government promises than the government itself. However, that was the situation. Not only were opposition parties working hard, but they were also willing to compromise in order to help the government keep its promise. Instead, the Liberals threw that out. They spent millions of dollars on a survey trying to hide the fact that there was the potential for consensus if the government would show leadership.
    How can we have a government that shows leadership? I imagine the process looks something like having the leader of a party promising something during an election, putting it in the party platform, and having candidates across the country repeat that promise ad nauseam. Then that party would be elected and follow through on that commitment. That is how it would be done, and that is exactly what Canadians did. To say there was no consensus or that the government did not have a mandate to provide leadership on democratic reform is just obviously false.
    Nevertheless, the Liberals broke that promise. They let down all the many Canadians who elected them for that express purpose. Then, when it comes to something as important as the scrutiny of their spending, they ask us to trust them to get around to the rest of the program if we do this one thing that could reduce the scrutiny of a government if it is not acting in good faith in the face of all of the broken promises and everything else. That is what the Liberals are asking us to do, and they should not be surprised if the answer is no, we do not believe we can.
    It is for at least those reasons, and those that I have not had time to get into, that the NDP will be opposing the main estimates.

  (1845)  

    Madam Speaker, I believe the NDP are being true to form in the sense of opposing, even though what we are proposing is something that is very good for all Canadians.
    My colleague from across the way challenged what it is that Liberal MPs in the Province of Manitoba are doing for that province. I can tell the member that we have a very strong representation in the province to ensure that the issues of Manitoba are in fact being raised at the cabinet table, in the caucus, on the floor of the chamber, and in many different ways.
    I would suggest that these are things the member should be voting for. However, he is voting against issues such as the Canada child benefit, which thousands of children in Manitoba will benefit from. He is voting against the middle-class tax cut, which thousands of Manitobans benefited from. He is voting against the increases to the GIS, which thousands of Manitobans are benefiting from, and the list goes on. Therefore, when we talk about the main estimates and the types of things the member will be voting on, he needs to be aware that, through his vote, he would take away the opportunity for Manitoba to be a part of the national scene in which people are receiving great enhancements.
    We are doing things, such as infrastructure, that is making a difference for Canada's middle class and those who are aspiring to it. The member across the way, along with his NDP cohorts, have made the decision that Canada is not going to have the types of activities that we are proposing within this budget, which would in fact enhance the lifestyle of all Canadians, including those who live in Manitoba.
    Why is he opposing that?

  (1850)  

    Madam Speaker, the member has been in the House for some years now. I would encourage him to revise his speaking notes for the budget when he decides to get up and speak to the main estimates.
    While it is true that there is a lot of money in the budget for some things, it is all back-loaded to 10 years from now. The main estimates actually speak to the spending this year, and the spending in the main estimates, as opposed to what is projected for 2027, 2034, or 2058 in the budget, is far less.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his speech and for his passionate work in the House. He is advancing the cause of democracy by his common sense approach when he comes here and calls it like it is.
    My benchmark is from global business. I worked for several multinational corporations. When it came to budgets and estimates, it was clear that we were able to see all the money that was planned to be spent, and we were able to drill down on the line items and know exactly what was going to be spent. However, that is not possible with the government, because we have main estimates, supplementary estimates, and we have supplements that come after the supplementary estimates. There is absolutely no way for Canadians to understand how their tax money is being spent.
    I would ask the member how that represents openness and transparency.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for giving me the opportunity to return to the issue of estimates reform, because the member is quite right. I do not think that is the opinion of just the opposition parties. In fact, it is the opinion of the government, or at least the President of the Treasury Board, that the estimates process is quite convoluted, and that opinion is shared by many people in civil society who are at the forefront of examining government spending. The question becomes how do we change it.
    It was promising, initially, to see the President of the Treasury Board present a package on how we could have a better estimates process. I said in my speech, and I will say again, that as a whole package, it looks pretty promising in terms of being able to get a better system that is more comprehensible for not just us here but also for Canadians generally. However, as always, the devil is in the details. How do we implement it?
     When the government says that it has this great package that has a number of reforms, most not requiring Standing Order changes and which would actually advance the cause of transparency and openness more than a simple change to the Standing Orders, but that is what the Liberals want to start with and that alone, then the issue is whether we trust the Liberals to follow through on the rest of the package. Then we go to some of the examples I raised in my speech where they have promised a two-stage reform, for instance, on ATI, but have not done it, where they promised democratic reform and launched a whole process that came to naught.
    This is why we have to assess the character of the government, and when we do, based on its record, we come up with the answer that we cannot trust the Liberals to go ahead with that one little piece first. We have to have more substantive reform that comes with it.
    Madam Speaker, in the Province of Manitoba, they have the estimates. The member would be very familiar with that, and I served there. Under the estimates, what would happen is that they would present the budget and then, shortly thereafter, they would start to debate the estimates.
    I will not be critical of the NDP, which reduced the number of hours from, at one point, 240 hours of line-by-line debate down to about 100, and I think it might have reduced it further than that. I will stay away from that for now.
    It seemed to be a proper procedure. I wonder if my colleague from across the way would agree that what was happening in Manitoba with respect to having estimates brought in after the budget is a good principle?

  (1855)  

     Madam Speaker, my understanding of the estimates process in Manitoba is that members get considerably more time with ministers to interrogate them about spending than we do here. For instance, here, we are lucky to get a minister at committee for an hour or so. In Manitoba, they just went through an estimates process where ministers were before committee for days, being asked questions.
    If the member is recommending that we adopt a model like that here, then I would be quite interested in hearing more about that proposal. I think there are many members in the chamber who would love to have a minister before committee for days because, he is quite right, there is a lot of departmental spending, departments are very large, and it is difficult.
    For instance, we are debating the main estimates here in the chamber tonight for four hours. That is the sum total of the main debate on the main estimates. Some committees will have a minister before them and examine their spending for probably not much more than for an hour. That is not actually a lot of time.
    He is right to notice that there are substantive differences between the estimates process here in Ottawa and in Manitoba. Manitoba grants far more access to ministers during that process than is done here. I take that as a point of interest. Perhaps it is something we will return to.
     Madam Speaker, I appreciate the words of my colleague from the NDP. He and I have served together on committee, notably the ethics committee, for the better part of the last two years, and he brought up some of the issues that we faced on that committee. The committee has actually done excellent work. All members from all parties in the House have actually done excellent work. We made recommendations on changing several pieces of legislation, the Access to Information Act, the Privacy act, and now we are undergoing a study of PIPEDA, as well. The government has stated quite clearly that it has no intention of actually bringing back any of the legislative changes in response to any of the committee reports that we put forward.
    My question for my colleague, and he brought it up in his speech, is this. How can we, in good faith, when the estimates process is again up for debate by the Liberal government as something it wants to change, know that it is going to keep its word when it has not kept its word on anything? It wants to change the process of how the House works, yet it cannot even nominate a new commissioner. It cannot even get that process right. I wonder if my colleague thinks it can get any process right.
     Madam Speaker, I am a very hopeful person, so I will hope that it can and it just has not yet. However, that remains to be seen. It is up to the government to make good on that hopeful remark. It is frustrating.
     I will maybe just examine another angle of my frustration with the position of the government, and not just in respect to access to information, but I think it makes the point well. We hear often, when it is convenient for the government, that it appreciates the work of committees and it wants to send things to committee and it wants to have it studied, and that is a great virtue. The government did not feel that way about the infrastructure bank because it did not want to break that off and actually have a committee have more time to look at it. The government cherry-picks. It liked the work of the committee on Bill S-217, which we voted on earlier. It cherry-picks when it likes the work of a committee and when it does not.
    Interestingly, the work that we have done on the access to information, privacy and ethics committee generated, and members can correct me if I am wrong, two unanimous reports. One report was on access to information reform. It was a commitment of the minister that he would bring forward legislation this spring, which he has subsequently changed and has not given a new date by which he will bring that legislation in. We also had a unanimous report on reform to the Privacy Act.
    In no case has the government taken that work of the committee, unanimous work, which means six Liberals on the committee endorsed all of those recommendations, and picked one recommendation that it would put into law. Again, the government's word is not worth much.
    Madam Speaker, after nearly a decade of partisan exploitation by the previous government, we are following through on our commitment to Canadians to build a more effective and less partisan Senate that works for everyone.
    Canadians elected our government on a promise of openness and transparency, and it is our job to stay focused on those who have put trust in us. The interests of Canadians should always be placed above political allegiances, and our government is committed to restoring and creating a less partisan Senate appointment process.
    Canadians were clear in the last election. The status quo of the Senate needed to change, and since then we have made major strides to deliver on that promise. Believing that our government should focus its efforts on the priorities of Canadians and not on more rounds of constitutional negotiations, we have implemented meaningful changes and have developed a process to appoint senators that is merit-based and non-partisan, while also being more open and transparent than ever before. These advances are crucial to restoring the confidence of Canadians in the Senate and to reinvigorating an institution that performs vital functions in our parliamentary democracy.
    Shortly after taking office, our government announced the establishment of an Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments in order to provide advice to the Prime Minister on potential candidates to the Senate. This independent advisory board is guided by merit-based criteria in order to identify qualified, hard-working Canadians who can make a significant contribution to the work of the Senate. Additionally, this criteria has helped to ensure that a high standard of integrity, ability to collaborate, and non-partisanship have become central qualities in every Senate appointee. This new Senate appointment process has also aided in reinventing the Senate's fundamental role in our parliamentary democracy, and has done so while staying within the framework of our Constitution.
    Our government knows the important role the Senate plays in our Parliament, so following the announcement of a new Senate advisory board, our government moved quickly to appoint seven new senators whose appointments immediately helped to reduce the partisan nature of the Senate, while also greatly improving the representation of the provinces that currently hold the most vacancies.
    Additionally, as part of our government demonstrating its commitment to the new appointment process, we named one of these initial independent appointees, Senator Peter Harder, to serve as the government's representative in the Senate. Born in Winnipeg, Senator Peter Harder was the first independent senator appointed under the new selection process, coming into the red chamber with nearly 30 years of experience in federal public service in addition to a decade serving as a volunteer in various organizations and as a member of several boards of directors. He also served as president of the Canada China Business Council.
    Senator Harder was first appointed as a deputy minister in 1991 and continued with this role under five different prime ministers and 12 different ministers over nearly 16 years. This included time in the Departments of Immigration, Public Safety, Industry, the Treasury Board, and Foreign Affairs. As deputy minister, he oversaw the legislative process of countless bills and has appeared before the standing committees of the House of Commons and the Senate. In his current role as government representative in the Senate, he is leading efforts on reform for a more accountable and transparent institution, while also working within existing Senate rules to ensure Senate business can be effectively coordinated with the government.