The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.
Mr. Speaker, there were festivities and accomplishments aplenty in Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle this summer.
I had the pleasure and honour of participating in dozens and dozens of events such as the grand opening of the Aqueduc promenade in LaSalle's Marie-Claire-Kirkland-Casgrain park and the new Duff-Court community market in Lachine, plus all of the celebrations in connection with Dorval's 125th anniversary, Lachine's 375th anniversary, and Canada's 150th anniversary.
Additionally, this summer the Department of Employment and Social Development's skills link program created dozens of jobs for young people in the riding, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change came to Lachine to announce our decade-long partnership with the Government of Quebec to ensure a healthy St. Lawrence River, and the Minister of Status of Women personally came to our open house to discuss the impact of poverty on women. I had a great summer, and I have a feeling that thanks to this government, summers in Dorval, Lachine, and LaSalle are only going to get better.
Mr. Speaker, today marks World Architecture Day. Architects make the framework of our lives and architects dream the future of where we live, work, and play. When architects dream well, their work becomes part of the story of our lives.
Preserving our built heritage benefits all Canadians. That is why I introduced Bill C-323, which would create a tax incentive for Canadians who restore and rehabilitate their heritage properties. This bill has the support of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, which said it was good news and an opportunity for all members of all political parties to support the retention of Canada's historic buildings.
Canadians care about outstanding architecture around them. We are worse off when magnificent buildings are demolished or neglected. We now have an opportunity to support Canadians working to preserve historic buildings so they can be enjoyed by generations to come.
On World Architecture Day, I encourage all members to help preserve our built heritage and support Bill C-323
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for one of Canada's most diverse ridings, I deeply appreciate the immense contributions that generations of Asian Canadians have made to our great country. In that spirit, I am proud to rise today in celebration of two wonderful events taking place on Parliament Hill this week.
This evening, I am pleased to welcome Korean Canadians from across Canada to a joint celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary and Korea's National Foundation Day. In addition, on Wednesday it will be my honour to co-host a mid-autumn festival on the Hill in celebration of the upcoming harvest.
World Habitat Day gives me yet another opportunity to bring Canada's housing situation to the fore. Although people say all the right things, the truth is that our record is abysmal. We are still waiting for details about the housing strategy, and it is clear that the money we should be spending to address this crisis now is not forthcoming.
The crisis is a fact, and it affects the most vulnerable members of our society: single-parent families, seniors, immigrants, and people with disabilities. Then there is the harsh reality of the indigenous households, namely that too many people are crammed into houses that are too small and not well suited to their lifestyle or the climate. What are the Liberals doing about this? They say we will not even see 90% of the new money until after 2019.
It is time to do something that will actually stop things from getting worse. It is time to recognize people's right to housing because a roof is a right.
Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to rise today to congratulate our 29th Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, following her installation ceremony earlier today.
A scientific broadcaster, engineer, and astronaut, Ms. Payette has always been very active in her community and has captivated the collective imagination of our nation. She is an inspiring woman who has shown leadership and dedicated her entire life to exploring and broadening her perspective.
I know that as Her Majesty's representative in Canada, she will continue to make us proud here at home and abroad.
I would also like to take a moment to thank the Right Hon. David Johnston for his exceptional service and for fulfilling his duties with such integrity and grace. I believe I speak for all members of this House in wishing him and his wife Sharon all the best as he moves on to other projects.
Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, I attended the 163rd opening of the Highgate Fair in the eastern part of my riding of Chatham-Kent—Leamington.
We enjoyed all one could expect from a great country fair, beginning with a great parade by parade marshal “Woody” McKillop, a pie auction, craft displays, old and new farm equipment, as well as farm animal showings by the local 4-H club. This was especially exciting for Faye and me as we watched our grandkids compete in the calf, beef, and rabbit competitions. All in all, the weather was great, the crowd was enthusiastic, and all the kids had a great time.
I say thanks to all the organizers and congratulations to the community of Highgate for putting on a terrific event. I look forward to next year and enjoying another wonderful day at the Highgate Fair.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Canada's chief science advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer. The entire Lebanese-Canadian community shares this honour with Dr. Nemer, who was born in Beirut.
Other women scientists originally from Lebanon have also made their mark. Dr. Jehane Dagher, a physiatrist at the Institut de réadaptation de Montréal and at the McGill University Health Centre, and her twin sister, Dr. Mona Harissi-Dagher, an ophthalmologist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, both deserve honorary mentions.
Their success is a testament to the dedication of their mother, Grace Dagher, a lawyer by training who successfully raised her five children out of the spotlight, despite the many challenges they faced after being forced to leave their war-ravaged homeland. Her unconditional love, strength of character, passion, self-sacrifice, and courage have made her a true source of inspiration.
As we observe Women's History Month, I invite all my colleagues to applaud these exceptional women. Long live science and long live Lebanon.
Mr. Speaker, October 1 was National Seniors Day, a day recognizing the invaluable contributions made by seniors to my riding and indeed to all ridings of those in this place. I rise today to celebrate the important contributions that they have made to the national discourse.
I would like to thank my colleague from Nickel Belt for the good work he is doing by putting forward his motion calling on the government to take action to improve the quality of life of Canadian seniors.
I look forward to welcoming him to Tobique—Mactaquac and invite seniors living in my riding to join us with a robust dialogue.
The province of New Brunswick has the oldest population in Canada, making it increasingly important to ensure that seniors and their families have access to the information, key services, and programs available in their communities. On Wednesday, October 11, my office is partnering with New Brunswick Wellness and the New Brunswick Wellness Network to hold a seniors round table and a healthy living and aging well expo. All constituents are encouraged to attend, participate in the round table, and learn about the resources and services available to seniors in our area.
Mr. Speaker, on September 10, I had the honour of attending Canada's Walk of Hope for ovarian cancer along Highway 60 near Saskatoon.
Striving for early detection was the theme of the walk. More research needs to be done so that methods of early detection of ovarian cancer can be developed. Unfortunately, there is no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. Two of my friends, Brenda from Cudworth and Denise from Saskatoon, have each lost their battle with ovarian cancer, and I do miss both of them.
If people have any signs and symptoms that may indicate ovarian cancer, they should please talk to their physicians. Even though close to 3,000 women in Canada are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, only 2% of donations for cancer are directed toward this disease. In the competition for research dollars, it is one disease that is sometimes overlooked.
Ovarian Cancer Canada welcomes volunteers and financial support. Please visit ovariancanada.org today to donate and get involved and support friends and family who have struggled against this tragic illness.
Mr. Speaker, as a cancer survivor myself, I know the importance of remembering that this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Let us pause to remember all of the mothers and daughters, sisters and friends who have lost their lives to this terrible disease, but let us also celebrate the great strides in detection, prevention, and treatment that have been made in the past decades. As with all cancers, early detection is essential to maximizing the chances of survival. I believe that early detection just simply saved my life.
Those who have a mother or a sister should encourage them to do regular screening. Those who employ women should ensure they have the time and opportunity to be screened. Let us do everything we can to ensure that fewer women succumb to breast cancer while scientists continue to search for a cure.
Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I stand to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence. All Canadians were shocked and saddened to hear about what happened in Edmonton and Las Vegas this weekend.
It is often too easy to forget that these horrible attacks and tragedies can happen here: “not in my community, not it my backyard”.
Each of us stands with our friends in Edmonton and the United States. Our thoughts and condolences are with the families and friends of those who were killed and injured and those affected by these senseless acts of violence.
We are grateful to the first responders and the authorities, who continue to work in our communities when faced with unspeakable tragedy. On this sad occasion, let everyone in this chamber and across our great country commit to reaffirming the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence and a desire to secure a culture of peace, acceptance, and understanding.
Mr. Speaker, today we share the profound grief of families in the United States and Canada following the horrific and senseless shootings in Las Vegas last night.
As information continues to come in, we are learning about Canadians who were involved in this tragic event. Families are feeling the immense loss of losing loved ones, including Canadian families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Many more families are facing injuries to loved ones. Such senseless violence leaves the entire world in disbelief.
Two of my constituents were in Las Vegas at the concert when the attack began. I am shocked and saddened to learn that Jody Ansell and Jan Lambourne were shot during the horrific attack in Las Vegas last night. Jan is a friend of mine. Both are being treated for their wounds, and we are all pulling for them.
I want to extend my gratitude to all the first responders for doing everything in their power to bring the attack to an end and for assisting the victims. As we mourn for the victims and their families, all Canadians will come together to denounce this callous act of violence.
On behalf of the loyal opposition, and indeed all parliamentarians, I want to offer sincere condolences to all families impacted by this senseless act.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my distinguished colleague for his excellent words.
It is with great sadness that I rise today to speak to the horrific events that occurred over the weekend. On Saturday night, Canadians were left reeling after a terrorist attack in Edmonton, which left five injured. On Sunday night, an attack, hate-provoked, at a music concert in Las Vegas, left 50 people dead and hundreds injured.
These violent attacks against innocent people were heinous, unprovoked, and appalling. I join all members of this House in offering thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families. Our condolences and thoughts are with all those affected. Global Affairs Canada is following up on reports of Canadian victims.
All Canadians stand together against the hate behind these attacks. We will not let it divide us.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to congratulate the newly elected Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, Mr. Jagmeet Singh.
This historic victory is very exciting for our caucus and for New Democrats across this country. As the new leader, Jagmeet brings with him a strong sense of renewal and momentum for our party. He also brings his many years of experience fighting against discrimination and inequality. Jagmeet is going to lead the NDP's work to build a more inclusive Canada, one that lifts everyone up, not just the few at the top.
I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the other three leadership candidates. They effectively promoted new and exciting ideas to help build a better country. Canadians everywhere will benefit from these real progressive values. The NDP is a strong team in the House and we are excited to work with our new leader Jagmeet Singh.
Mr. Speaker, Saturday evening, the people of Edmonton were subjected to a cowardly act of terror. Above all else, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this attack and their loved ones.
Canada is regarded as a nation of peace. When that peace is shattered, as it was in Edmonton this weekend, the effects are felt right across the country. Often we feel outrage at an attack on our fellow citizens, but instead of focusing on anger, we must focus on our strength. Our strength as a nation is that everyone is free to live and worship as they choose.
If anyone needs a model of strength to look to for inspiration, look no further than the great city of Edmonton, and especially its first responders. These women and men put the safety of the public before their own, and there is no telling how many lives they saved on Saturday evening.
Canada is not immune to the threat of global terror, but we can, and we must, face it head on, and we will.
Mr. Speaker, all Canadians stand with the city of Edmonton in the wake of the terrorist attack committed on Saturday. Everyone across the country, and certainly everyone in this House, is thinking of the injured and of their loved ones. We hope for their full and speedy recovery. We are also grateful to the first responders, who answered the call, as they always do, with courage and dedication, and to those who have been working ever since to ensure that everyone is safe.
This vicious act of terror has left us devastated and outraged, but not intimated, and certainly not divided. Canadians will support each other and overcome this tragedy together. We know that we must remain forever vigilant against hate and extremism, just as we remain united in our unshakable determination to make this country, more than ever, a shining example of openness, inclusion, and strength through diversity.
Canadians were shocked, outraged, and saddened by the attack in Edmonton in which an ISIS-inspired individual injured several people, including a brave police officer. Terrorist ideologies have no place in our great country. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those who were injured. We all wish them a speedy recovery.
Can the minister update the House on how the government is responding to this incident, and will he join us in sending our deepest condolences to all those who were injured?
Mr. Speaker, we are all appalled by the terror attack in Edmonton over the weekend. All Canadians totally condemn such horrible violence. Our thoughts and prayers are indeed with the five victims who were injured. Three have already been released from hospital; two are still in care.
The police investigation is still early but vigorously ongoing, led by the RCMP in close collaboration with the Edmonton city police. As was said by the Prime Minister, Premier Notley, Mayor Iveson, RCMP acting Commissioner Dubeau, and Edmonton Police Chief Knecht, and many members in this House today, we will not allow this to divide us, and we will not be intimidated.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are also shocked and disturbed by what appears to be the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Last night over 50 people were killed and another 500 injured by a shooting on the Las Vegas strip. Reports indicate that at least two Canadians, a 28-year-old woman from Alberta and a 23-year-old man from British Columbia, were killed in this despicable act of terrorism.
Can the Prime Minister please provide an update to the House on how the government has responded and on what consular assistance has been offered to Canadians visiting Las Vegas at this time?
Mr. Speaker, Canada strongly condemns the horrific attack that took place in Las Vegas that killed and injured so many innocent people. Our thoughts and condolences are with the friends and family of those killed. I am very sad to confirm that at least one Canadian was among those killed. Canadian consular officials are working closely with U.S. authorities to identify and help any other Canadians hurt by this dreadful attack. If any Canadians listening are aware of friends and family who may be harmed or caught up in the attack, please do get in touch with Global Affairs immediately.
I think I can say for all members of this House that Canada stands with the United States and with the American people following this terrible attack.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' so-called consultations on the unfair tax increases end today. It is clear that the Liberals had no interest in listening to farmers and small-business owners or the consultations would not have been held in the middle of summer. Provincial and territorial premiers arrive in Ottawa tomorrow and many are calling on the Prime Minister to extend the consultations.
Will the Prime Minister heed the advice of his counterparts and finally listen to Canadians' concerns and extend the consultations?
Mr. Speaker, we know that it is very important to have a fair tax system. We also know that it is very important to listen. That is why we took the opportunity over the past two months or more to hear from Canadians across the country, to listen and see how we might facilitate our changes in the best way possible. We listened and we will continue to implement our measures and the important elements that came out of the consultations.
Mr. Speaker, the finance minister has not listened to the concerns of thousands of Canadians who are worried about the future of their small family businesses. Meanwhile, Morneau Shepell sells private pension plans to those who would be affected by this tax increase. This is not only a conflict of interest; it is also an insult to Canadians. When will the finance minister listen and lower taxes for small businesses?
Mr. Speaker, we want to make sure that we move forward to ensure that our tax system is fair for the long term. We know that as we do that, we have to come forward with measures, as we have done, and listen to Canadians to make sure that we are actually having the desired impact. I can assure this House and I can assure Canadians that we have been out listening, that we will take their considerations into our deliberations, and that we will move forward to make sure that the system is fair and do it in a way that does not impact people inappropriately.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance did not listen to business owners across the country who are worried about their businesses. Meanwhile, Morneau Shepell is selling private insurance plans to people who will be affected by this botched reform.
This is a conflict of interest, and I think that Canadians expect more from the Minister of Finance. He is effectively insulting them.
When will the Minister of Finance finally understand and stop putting Canada in debt and taxing small businesses at the expense of their future growth?
Mr. Speaker, SMEs need a tax system that encouragers them to make active investments.
At the same time, it is important for the tax system to be fair, and that is the purpose of our measures. We decided it was very important to listen. That is why we held consultations. We will consider the feedback we received, since it is very important in making decisions in the future. That is what we will do.
Mr. Speaker, horrific scenes that we thought were a thing of the past have been playing out in Catalonia. People have been arrested, injured, and shot with rubber bullets, and seniors have been dragged out into the street simply because they wanted to vote.
Madrid is using force to deny Catalans their right to self-determination. The Prime Minister, who is always quick to preach about democracy and human rights, has said nothing.
Why is the government remaining silent on the situation in Catalonia?
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to congratulate the New Democratic Party on the election of its new leader, who will bring a new and welcome diversity to the roster of federal party leaders.
Our government will stay focused on protecting the environment, growing the economy, and building a stronger middle class. We look forward to a constructive debate and working together with the NDP toward a common goal of building a better future for all Canadians. We just want to say congratulations.
I will give the government a second chance. It was about Catalonia.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made a big deal about Canada being back on the international scene, yet when it comes time to step up to the plate and condemn the violation of democratic principles in Catalonia, his government chooses not to.
In the process of trying to vote, people are being arrested and subjected to violence. These actions need to be condemned. Why does the government continue to remain silent?
Mr. Speaker, Canada, of course, values its relationship with Spain. While the issue of Catalonia is an internal matter for Spain, yesterday's reports of violence are very concerning. A solution to this debate should be found respectfully within the rule of law, according to the Spanish constitution, and through peaceful dialogue.
No one in Quebec thinks that this is a good deal, but the minister continued to boast about how we are the only country to have signed this type of agreement with Netflix. That is to be expected, since no other country would want to sell out its cultural sovereignty to the Americans.
The minister keep saying that it was impossible to do otherwise, but Japan, Australia, Norway, and the European Union are making online companies like Netflix pay their fair share.
Does the minister believe that we are unable to do so?
Mr. Speaker, I am listening to and I understand stakeholders' concerns.
That being said, we need to protect and promote our creative industries in this digital age. That is exactly why I presented a plan last Thursday to reform a sector that has not been modernized in 30 years. I hope to be able to work with stakeholders in doing that.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage continues to brag that Canada is the first country to make such a deal with Netflix. I will tell members why. Surely, it is a great deal for Netflix, but not for Canadians. Three-quarters of this investment comes directly from Canadians through a Netflix rate hike. In the meantime, other countries are trying to create a level playing field by ensuring that large corporations like Netflix pay their fair share. Why is the government working for the best interests of large American companies and not for us Canadians?
Mr. Speaker, we are extremely proud of the vision for a creative Canada that we had the chance to present last Thursday, and the very historic investments on the part of a foreign platform, which is Netflix, of $500 million over the next five years in Canadian productions. This is great news for our industry.
We will work to make sure that we modernize our sector to protect and promote our culture during this important time, which is the digital shift.
Mr. Speaker, the consultation period on the unfair Liberal tax changes is coming to an end. While many questions are unanswered, what is clear is that companies like Morneau Shepell will be sheltered from these tax increases and, specifically, Morneau Shepell will benefit from these tax changes. Going after small businesses while protecting one's own investment is hypocritical.
Does the Minister of Finance not see that this decision appears to put him in a direct conflict of interest?
Mr. Speaker, what we have seen is that the system we have right now encourages wealthy people to incorporate so they can pay a lower rate of tax. That is not the system we want in order to make sure that it is fair.
We have identified some measures that we know will make an important difference. We have also said that we need to listen to people to make sure we get those measures right. We have listened. We are going to continue to listen and make sure we take into account what we have heard in our consultations so that we can move forward, making sure that our system is fair and that people will continue to invest in our economy.
Mr. Speaker, it is critically important that a minister of finance gets engaged in order to make sure that our tax system is fair, and that is exactly what I have done. We have taken a look at the kinds of things in our tax code right now that encourage behaviour for wealthy individuals to pay a lower tax rate than other middle-class Canadians. That is not a system that we want to have going forward.
We have done this in a way that we know will allow people to have a point of view, and they have expressed a point of view on many occasions. We are going to listen to that input to make sure that we get this right. That is what we commit to Canadians, and that is what we will be doing as we move forward.
Mr. Speaker, last Friday, we five Conservative members from Quebec City held a town hall meeting with the city's business community. One business owner named Steeve Marin told us, in a voice choked with emotion, that after all the sacrifices he has made, these reforms are incredibly disrespectful. That is the reality faced by Canadian business owners.
Meanwhile, the minister has chosen to shield his family business instead of abstaining from decision-making.
Why is the Minister going after entrepreneurs like Steeve Marin while protecting his own business?
Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, it is very important to have a tax system that is fair and that encourages people to invest in their active business.
We know we can get both of those results at the same time. That is exactly what we want to do. We have listened, and we are going to move forward with our measures, taking into account what we heard during our consultations.
Mr. Speaker, here is another story we heard Friday morning in Quebec City. Ms. Lapierre is a business woman. She and her spouse started a business three years ago. For 10 months, they drew no salary so they could pay their employees. That is how it is for Canadian entrepreneurs. That is not how it is for people on Bay Street or for Morneau Shepell. That is how it is for Canadian entrepreneurs.
Given how it might affect his own family business, why did the minister not recuse himself from the discussion on his terrible tax reform?
Mr. Speaker, we know that people who own small businesses take big risks. We know that it is important for them to have opportunities to invest in their businesses. It is also important for them and all Canadians to have a fair tax system. We are holding consultations and listening to what people have to say because it is important to have a system that works and an economy that works, and to make significant investments in our economy. That is our goal.
Mr. Speaker, fact, the Liberal proposal will take away retirement income splitting for small business owners unless they take that money out and put it in an individualized pension plan. Fact, this proposal will bring in a double tax on passive income earned within a company unless it is taken out and put into an individual pension plan. Fact, Morneau Shepell is one of the few companies in the entire country that sells individual pension plans.
Did the finance minister disclose these facts to the Ethics Commissioner before he came forward with these proposals?
Mr. Speaker, we know it is important that our tax system is fair. We also know that it is complex. Therefore, as we move forward with measures to make sure we do not encourage wealthy people to incorporate to have a lower tax rate than middle-class Canadians, we know it is important to listen to get this right.
We are listening. We have heard things that we know are going to be important in our implementation. This is exactly what we committed to Canadians. As we move forward, we are going to get this right. Consultations matter. We are going to make sure that we move forward in a way that will encourage people to continue to have successful businesses in our country.
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are listening too, and they know that a lot of people will be hurt. Farmers will be hurt, because they will pay double tax trying to sell their farm to the next generation. No tax will be paid when that farm is sold through a giant corporate conglomerate, like, say, McCain. Small businesses that are trying to save for their future, for maternity or severance, will be hurt with a double tax, reaching as high as 73%. However, a small group of people will be helped, including the minister's family business. Is he not just a little embarrassed to have put forward a proposal that hurts so many people but helps him?
Mr. Speaker, in our consultations across the country, we have listened to farmers. We have listened to small business owners. We have listened to people who want to save within their businesses for taking time off for their families. Our goal is to make sure that as we consider how we move forward on these measures that are important to make sure our system is fair, that we consider all of those things.
I have said that we will make sure that farmers are not negatively impacted. We will make sure that small business owners can continue to invest in their businesses. We will make sure that people can continue to save within businesses. These are all important objectives. We know that we can achieve fairness.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said at the UN that Canada believes in “An approach that...emphasizes fairness...for everyone....” He also said that the historic experience of aboriginal peoples “was mostly one of humiliation, neglect, and abuse”, and yet his lawyers claim that the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement does not include the right to procedural fairness.
How can the Prime Minister allow his government's lawyers to argue that survivors of abuse still do not deserve fairness?
Mr. Speaker, there is nothing further from the truth. We expect fairness in all judicial interactions with first nations, and particularly with the survivors of the Indian residential schools and the execution of their settlement agreements. I am happy to talk to the member opposite to find out what the specifics are that she is referring to.
Mr. Speaker, the position being taken by the government's lawyers is contrary to the letter, the spirit, and the intent of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The Anishinaabe people in my riding, who have been waiting a long time, placed so much hope in what the Prime Minister said following the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Minister of Justice is an experienced lawyer. Does she seriously think that the Supreme Court and the entire legal community intended to draft an agreement that did not even include a fair process for survivors?
Mr. Speaker, I do not believe, at any time, that there would be an agreement that would not include fair justice for survivors. I think that we are looking to almost be done with the Indian residential school issue, which is winding down because there has been fairness.
I thank the member, and I will look into whatever reference she is talking to.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday I met with Carrie. She and her family are fifth generation farmers. They have worked hard and made many sacrifices to keep the farm in the family. Carrie is worried that the Liberal tax changes will make it impossible for her children to take over the family farm some day.
When the minister stood in the House and committed to phoning back every concerned farmer, Carrie took him at his word and left a message, leaving both of her phone numbers. She has never heard back, and she is not alone.
The consultations end today. When did the minister plan to call Carrie and the thousands of farmers who have called him, or is that just another broken Liberal promise?
Mr. Speaker, I would like to repeat in the House that we have been out listening to farmers. I have heard from many farmers. I want to assure them that we are taking their views into account. We know how important the family farm is. We know they are concerned that they can pass it on to the next generation. We are listening to their inputs to make sure we get it right, and I want to assure farmers that they will be in a positive situation to continue their investments in their farms and continue with their families on their farms after these measures move forward.
Mr. Speaker, we know that it is very important to have a fair tax system, and to listen. That is why I listened to farmers from across the country so that I could learn more about their challenges and their ideas.
What I can tell the farmers from across Canada is that we will consider their opinions, and they will continue to be able to operate their family farms, which is very important. That is what our consultations will find.
Mr. Speaker, at the finance committee, witnesses said that the Liberal tax changes could cost the average Canadian farmer $70,000 a year. Imposing a carbon tax, eliminating the deferral on cash grain tickets, and now these crippling new tax changes will make it almost impossible for someone to operate a family farm. It seems that the Liberal government looks at hard-working Canadian farm families as nothing more than wealthy tax cheats. That is simply not true.
The minister promised to call our farmers back. Will he commit today to extend the consultation period on these unfair tax changes so he can keep that promise?
Mr. Speaker, there is only one thing I would like to tell my hon. colleague. Farmers in this country are not tax cheats, and that was an inappropriate statement by the member.
What we want to do is to create a system that is fair. We understand the importance of the agricultural sector in our country; just look at the budget. Being a farmer, I understand how important the tax changes are and how important it is that farmers be able to invest dollars so they can expand their business, repair their machinery, and build buildings to make sure they continue to expand. That is what this government has done and will continue to do.
Mr. Speaker, it is great for the agriculture minister to get up and yell in here, but he needs to talk to the person a few steps down from here to pass on that message.
The finance minister stood in the House and said he would be happy to return the phone calls of any of my constituents who passed on their phone number. Literally thousands of Alberta farmers have passed on their contact information. How many of these has the finance minister contacted? Zero. It is another broken promise by the Liberal government.
Canadian farmers are angry. The consultation period ends today and they feel that their voices have not been heard. Will the finance minister make those calls?
Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Finance has clearly answered that question. He has indicated that he has listened to farmers. We had consultations. The Minister of Finance and our government fully understand the importance of agriculture in our country, and he understands that farmers want to invest. They want to be able to invest in their properties. They want to be able to expand their business. They want to be able to buy new equipment. We will make sure that this will continue to be the case in this country.
Mr. Speaker, there is some very disturbing news coming out of Azerbaijan, where members of the LGBT community are being arrested, detained, brutally beaten, and forced to undergo medical exams.
Obviously, this kind of persecution must be condemned, but the federal government has approved an agreement with Azerbaijan on armoured personnel carriers.
In light of this disturbing report, will the Liberals re-examine and end all arms exports to Azerbaijan, or will they continue to approve the sale of armoured personnel carriers to this oppressive regime?
Mr. Speaker, we are very much concerned about human rights violations, including the LGBT rights violations in Azerbaijan.
Our government has been unequivocal in its defence of all sexual minorities, both at home and abroad. Our government firmly defends LGBTQ rights in Canada and around the world. LGBTQ rights have no borders. They have to be respected and promoted everywhere.
Mr. Speaker, clearly the government has not learned a thing when it comes to selling arms to human rights violators.
We are now hearing reports of yet another campaign of arrests and torture directed against an LGBTQ community, this time in Azerbaijan. Has the minister expressed her concerns about this campaign directly to the Azerbaijani government, as she just approved Canadian arms exports to Azerbaijan?
When will the Liberals finally turn rhetoric into reality on LGBTQ refugees? When will they turn one-off rescue programs into an ongoing path to safety for LGBTQ refugees whose lives are in imminent risk?
Mr. Speaker, as I think the member opposite knows, I am personally very focused on the rights of persecuted LGBT minorities around the world, very much including the former Soviet Union. This is an issue that I take personally and in which I have been very personally engaged. In some areas our government cannot speak about what we are doing because of the danger these people face. We are very focused on the danger in Azerbaijan as—
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul for all of her contributions to Canada's story and to wish everyone a happy Women's History Month.
We all know women and girls who have dreamed big, who have pursued their dreams and paved the way for the rest of us, women like our newly installed Governor General. This October our government is inviting all Canadians to share the stories of these women and girls.
This October, I invite everyone to share the story of an inspiring woman or girl who encourages us to make our own mark on history.
Mr. Speaker, it was reported in the news this morning that the individual responsible for last Saturday's terrorist attacks in Edmonton was already suspected of espousing extremist ideology. At the time, the suspect was not deemed to pose a threat to the security of Canada.
What intelligence did the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have on this individual?
Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member will know, I cannot go into detail because it is an ongoing police investigation and, in fact, charges have been laid. The individual, of course, has been identified by police now. He is a 30-year-old who entered Canada not recently, but back in 2012 and granted refugee status at that time.
Mr. Speaker, we have seen this story play out many times before. Once again, an act of terrorism has been committed by an individual who not only was already known to police, but was already suspected of espousing terrorist and extremist views about the security of Canadians. Now the minister has only vague answers to offer to these crucial questions. Canadians need to know what intelligence the RCMP had on this individual that warranted launching an investigation.
Mr. Speaker, it is because under our law a criminal investigation and a terrorist investigation are under way. I am sure that no member of Parliament would want to do anything advertently or inadvertently to interfere with that investigation. The RCMP, as do all police forces in this country, follow the evidence wherever it leads. Where the evidence supports a charge, they lay one and they prosecute.
Mr. Speaker, the RCMP previously investigated the Edmonton terror suspect on a tip that he espoused extremist ideology.
Did the RCMP provide details of this investigation to the immigration minister's department, and does the immigration minister support the creation of a formal information-sharing agreement between the RCMP and IRCC designed specifically to alert immigration officials when the RCMP starts an investigation on someone who has entered Canada as a refugee or asylum seeker?
Mr. Speaker, again I would remind the hon. member that because of the nature of the investigation presently under way, questions of that nature cannot be answered in detail at this time. The police will pursue the evidence wherever it leads, and they will lay charges as appropriate.
With respect to information sharing among departments, I would advise her to examine the details of Bill C-59.
Mr. Speaker, reports say that the suspect involved in the Edmonton terror attack was granted protection by Canada under our asylum system. My previous question was important because when officials become aware of threats to the public, the minister has the authority to label as a danger to the public those individuals who have this protection and have committed serious crimes, and to subsequently remove them from Canada.
Will the minister be exercising his authority in this regard if this individual is found guilty in a court of law?
Mr. Speaker, as of today, criminal charges have been laid in this matter. Those charges pre-empt all other proceedings. Those charges, depending on how they are dealt with in the final analysis by the courts, will determine the future prosecution of this case.
Mr. Speaker, last Friday I walked the picket line with 2,800 CAMI workers who are on strike and fighting to keep their jobs because of bad trade policy by past governments. The minister keeps saying how wonderful NAFTA has been for our country. I am sure that is true for her corporate friends, but I certainly did not see her standing out on the picket line with us last Friday. This is the reality of NAFTA for working people fighting to keep good-paying jobs from moving south to Mexico.
What about the rest of us? How can Canadians trust the current government to protect their jobs when the Liberals will not even stand up for workers now?
Mr. Speaker, let me assure the member opposite and all Canadian workers that we are fighting very hard at the NAFTA negotiating table for the interests of all Canadian workers and for Canadian jobs. The labour chapter that Canada has proposed is the most progressive labour chapter Canada has ever put forward. It has the support of Canadian unions and the support of unions in the United States. In fact, Elizabeth Warren wrote over the weekend about how strong our proposals are. Canadian workers are at the heart of our negotiating strategy.
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals promised to help seasonal workers by solving the spring gap problem. However, it has been two years and nothing has been done. Meanwhile, seasonal workers in New Brunswick and across Canada will be left without an income to support their families. Instead of solving this problem once and for all, the Liberals are asking them to wait for a rise in unemployment. What a joke! Why is the government breaking its promise and turning its back on seasonal workers?
Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to my colleague for giving me an opportunity to remind the House of the fundamental importance of the employment insurance system for guaranteeing income security, a certain degree of social certainty for our families and workers, and access to jobs all across the country, at a time of difficult economic conditions in some regions. I would also like to remind my colleague that we have made substantial efforts to increase the quality of services and the level of benefits across Canada. We are very eager to continue to work in that spirit.
Mr. Speaker, the premiers will be in Ottawa tomorrow to meet with the Prime Minister, and it is a chance to advocate for crucial energy infrastructure like the Trans Mountain pipeline. The new B.C. premier is fighting to stop it, yet in their first meeting the Prime Minister refused to even bring it up. The Prime Minister claims to support Trans Mountain, but of course actions speak louder than words.
When did the Prime Minister decide to abandon his responsibility to champion this pipeline, which is in the best interests of all of Canada?
Mr. Speaker, this government approved the Trans Mountain expansion project because we determined that it was in the national interest. It is in the national interest because it will create 15,000 jobs, mostly for the people of Alberta, and because it will allow us to expand our export markets. We are not comfortable with 99% of our oil and gas exports going to one country, the United States. We approved it because we believed then, and we believe now, that it is in Canada's interests.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister should have brought it up with the premier.
Energy east will create thousands of jobs for all of Canada, and add $55 billion to Canada's GDP. However, eastern Canadians are forced to rely on foreign oil from places like Venezuela and Algeria, because the Liberals keep changing the rules as they go along.
Provincial premiers are worried and want answers. The New Brunswick premier has said that he believes the project is in jeopardy.
Will the Prime Minister stand up for energy workers and their families, and make sure energy east gets built?
Mr. Speaker, it is not the job of the Government of Canada to make sure that a project gets built. It is up to the Government of Canada to make sure the regulatory process is transparent, carries the confidence of Canadians, and understands the balance between economic growth, environmental stewardship, and partnership with indigenous peoples.
Since we came into power, more than 38,000 jobs will be created in the energy sector, more than $30 billion for Canada's economy inside of two years, more than that government did in 10 years.
Mr. Speaker, these new regulatory hurdles that the Liberals keep imposing mean that Canadian energy development, which is already operating under a world-class regulatory regime, is held to a different standard than say auto manufacturers.
If auto manufacturers had to take into account downstream tailpipe emissions, like the Liberals are forcing on energy infrastructure, they and half that caucus would justifiably be outraged.
Mr. Speaker, what is fair is that the energy east project will be considered and assessed under exactly the same criteria as the Enbridge Line 3 expansion and as the Trans Mountain expansion.
The Government of Canada has offered to ensure that this assessment is done by the National Energy Board at no additional cost to the proponent. The same criteria that was used in the other projects will be used for energy east.
Mr. Speaker, today is designated by the United Nations as World Habitat Day, and this year's theme is affordable homes.
I was pleased to accompany the Canadian delegation for the UN Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador last November. Based on the unprecedented investments in housing in our past two budgets, we know this government shares the important goal of providing Canadians with affordable homes.
Could the minister responsible for housing provide us with an update on what those investments have achieved so far?
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate and thank my colleague from Davenport for her hard work on behalf of her constituents and for advocating for housing.
Since April 2016, our government's commitment to housing has already paid off. Two hundred thousand Canadians have seen their housing needs assisted by our measures. Later this fall, we will be launching our first-ever national housing strategy, which will create opportunities for the long term, 10 years of investment and opportunities for every other partner in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, the importance of seniors is not only very clear in our mandate letter, but it has also been very clear in our actions since April 2016. We increased by almost $1,000 the guaranteed income supplement for 900,000 vulnerable seniors. We brought the age of eligibly for old age security back to 65 years old, which is preventing 100,000 vulnerable seniors from falling into severe poverty. We have launched, and will be launching again, important investments in housing, in health care, and all sorts of things that will produce—
Mr. Speaker, it was a big weekend. Saturday was National Seniors Day and Sunday was pretty exciting too.
However, the Saskatchewan Party's elimination of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company stranded many seniors, leaving them without transport to medical appointments and family gatherings. This is unacceptable.
Will the Liberal government make some of its transit infrastructure fund available to restore needed bus service between Saskatchewan's towns and cities?
Mr. Speaker, this government was elected on a platform to deliver a historic plan to invest in infrastructure: $180 billion over 12 years to create long-term growth and jobs for the middle class, create a low-carbon green economy, and improve social inclusion.
Since November 2015, we have announced 153 projects in Saskatchewan, with more than $210 million in federal funding, with combined funding of over $515 million together with the province. We will continue to work with the Province of Saskatchewan and deliver the projects that are dear to Saskatchewan's heart.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for his tireless work on behalf of his constituents and for his strong advocacy on behalf of seniors.
Our government recognizes the contribution of seniors to our country and is committed to ensuring seniors have access to the health care services they need. That is why we are investing $6 billion through budget 2017 to improve access to home, community, and palliative care services. This funding, along with our actions to bring down prescription drug prices in Canada and the important work being done by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, demonstrates a clear commitment by this government to the health and well-being of Canada's seniors.
Mr. Speaker, the numbers are in. The Liberals' Phoenix pay system fiasco is worsening. The backlog of cases grew by 20,000 last month. Hundreds of thousands of public servants are not being paid their proper salaries. Some are not being paid at all. These are real people.
Just last week, I spoke to Michelle in Edmonton. She has not seen any progress on her case in nearly two years. When will the minister finally stop blaming others and clean up this mess?
Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable that hard-working public servants are not being paid the money they are owed. Resolving this as quickly as possible is indeed our priority. We have taken a number of steps to resolve this problem, including investing $142 million to recruit, hire, and train more employees; initiating emergency pay advances; opening temporary satellite offices; implementing technological solutions; improving business processes; and instituting a working group of ministers.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Spain brutalized the Catalan people. Spain has brutalized democracy.
Whose side is Canada on? It is on the side of those who were beating innocent people with batons. The Prime Minister always supports the winner when he wants to cloak himself in righteousness. However, when it really counts, his complicit silence says a lot about how he truly feels about democratic principles.
Does the Prime Minister realize that his complicit silence legitimizes the Spanish government's violence?
Mr. Speaker, when the Spanish government denied the Catalan people the right to self-determination, Ottawa said nothing. When the Spanish government sabotaged the referendum, Ottawa said nothing. When the Spanish government cracked down on the Catalan population who actually thought they might be able to vote, once again, Ottawa said nothing.
Its silence makes it complicit.
When will the Prime Minister finally stand and act like a true statesman for democracy?
Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, Canada values its relationship with Spain. However, we are very concerned about the violence on the ground. The issue of Catalonia is a Spanish domestic matter. We, like all Canadians, hope that a solution can be found through peaceful dialogue, within the context of the Spanish constitution.
Mr. Speaker, it is rare to have such a broad consensus in Quebec. Liberals and members of the PQ, tax experts and creators, business people and artists, everyone agrees.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage had a tough time last week, and I can certainly see why. The political, business, and cultural communities are all saying the same thing: the minister is giving Netflix special rights and harming Quebec culture.
Can the minister guarantee that Netflix will invest at least one-third of the $500 million that was promised in the production of French-language content?
Mr. Speaker, I hear the concerns of the arts and culture sector and, of course, I represent the sector well. I work very hard to represent it well.
That being said, we have presented an extremely ambitious vision to protect our culture in a digital age. Our various laws do not even recognize the existence of the Internet and so we have to modernize a 30-year-old system. That is why I presented a plan for reform. We are going to amend the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act to better protect our culture.
South Surrey—White Rock and Bonavista—Burin—Trinity
It is my duty to inform the House that vacancies have occurred in the representation: namely, Ms. Diane Watts, member for the electoral district of South Surrey—White Rock, by resignation, effective Friday, September 29, 2017; the Hon. Judy Foote, member for the electoral district of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, by resignation, effective Saturday, September 30, 2017.
Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed warrants to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of writs for the election of members to fill these vacancies.
Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent in the House for me to move the following motion: that the House honour its ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states in article 1 that all peoples have the right of self-determination, and condemn the violent repression orchestrated by the Spanish government during the Catalonia referendum of October 1, 2017.
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Since the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs was not aware of the specifics of the case I referenced in my question, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table these court documents that state, from the survivors' lawyers, “The federal government has asked for a court to declare that former Indian residential school students have no right to a fair hearing when their claims are heard for the physical and sexual abuse they suffered.” How is it possible that the government would ask for such a thing?
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand today to present a petition from the youth in my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, from Salmo, Nelson, Winlaw, and Creston, expressing concerns around climate change. They want the government to fulfill Canada's obligation under the Paris accord by including a strategy that has science-based targets for greenhouse gas reductions, eliminates fossil fuel subsidies, carbon pricing at $150 a tonne by 2030, and invests in renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, low-carbon transportation, and job training. They are asking that the government do this in order to avert disastrous climate change.
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people who live all along the Thames River. As everyone knows, the Thames River is a magnificent heritage river that runs through my riding. These petitioners are very concerned that the Conservative government stripped environmental regulations that covered the navigable waters act, leaving the river vulnerable, and that the current government has failed to reinstate the environmental protections needed in order to protect that river. Therefore, they call on the government to support my private member's bill, Bill C-355, and commit to the protection of the Thames River by amending the Navigation Protection Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the 400 kilometre stretch of coastal temperate rainforest running along British Columbia's northern coast is one of nature's truly spectacular sites. It is beloved by all Canadians and global visitors who share their determination to preserve and protect this land from potential oil spills. I am here today to speak to the proposed legislation designed to do just that. It is my pleasure to outline the rationale for, and benefits of, Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act. In addition, the proposed act fulfills our government's pledge to formalize an oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia's north coast.
Canada has a robust marine safety regime and a strong track record of marine safety. An oil tanker moratorium has been proposed and discussed by the Canadian public and in the House of Commons, by all parties, for years. I am proud that this government is delivering on important environmental protections for the coastline around Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound.
The proposed oil tanker moratorium act would take concrete action to address these risks. This legislation covers all ports and marine installations located in northern British Columbia. The moratorium area would extend from our border with the United States in the north, down to the point on British Columbia's mainland adjacent to the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The area also includes Haida Gwaii. In keeping with our government's commitment, we would protect the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, and Queen Charlotte Sound from a major oil spill.
At the core of the legislation are prohibitions on oil tankers carrying large volumes of crude oil or persistent oil. Oil tankers with more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude oil or persistent oil on board as cargo would not be permitted to stop at ports or marine installations within this area. Oil tankers carrying more than 12,500 metric tonnes of crude or persistent oil as cargo would also be prohibited from loading or unloading any crude or persistent oil at a port or marine installation within this area.
In addition, the bill would prohibit what the maritime industry calls ship-to-ship transfers in an attempt to circumvent the moratorium. By this I mean that smaller vessels would not be permitted to load up with crude oil or persistent oil and transport it to or from a large oil tanker.
That said, these changes would not affect community and industry resupply. We have listened to the concerns of local communities. Many rely on some of these oils for heating and local industries. We also recognize that many communities are inaccessible by road or rail and can only receive these oils by ship, including the communities on Haida Gwaii.
I want to be clear. To accommodate community and industry resupply, this legislation would not prohibit shipments of crude oil or persistent oil below 12,500 metric tonnes. This threshold would allow existing resupply shipments to north coast communities and industries to continue.
These comprehensive measures are the result of extensive consultations on the moratorium. We listened closely to Canadians and came to the conclusion that a precautionary approach to the products included in the moratorium is crucial. Accordingly, we have included both crude oils and persistent oils.
To provide clarity, crude oil is defined in the legislation. It is based on the definition used in an important international maritime convention, namely the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. This definition will be familiar to individuals working in the shipping industry.
Persistent oils are those oils that are heavier and stickier. When these oils are spilled, they tend to break up and dissipate more slowly, fouling birds, wildlife, and shorelines. These oils include partially upgraded bitumen, synthetic crude oil, and marine diesel oil, among others.
I think you can understand our decision to include them. These persistent oils were identified using an internationally recognized test for persistence that is based on boiling-point range and are listed in a schedule to the act.
As members know, the Government of Canada takes environmental protection and public safety very seriously. This proposed legislation, which complements our larger strategy to promote marine safety and coastal protection under the oceans protection plan, confirms it.
The oceans protection plan would create a world-leading marine safety system, which would do more to prevent damaging incidents and be better able to respond quickly and efficiently in the unlikely event of a crisis. As part of this plan, we are investing in new preventative and response measures to better protect our waters and coasts. This includes oil spill cleanup, and science and technology.
With the breakneck pace of technological evolution, there may well be advances in oil spill science and technology in the future. Understanding this, amendments to the schedule on persistent oils could be undertaken under Bill C-48. Any such changes would follow a review that would consider the fate and behaviour of oil products in water and the state of cleanup technology.
Environmental safety and science will always be the main considerations in revising the product list. Any amendment to the schedule to add or remove a product would be made by the Governor in Council.
To reinforce just how seriously we take these matters, the oil tanker moratorium act also includes reporting requirements and stiff penalties in the event of contraventions. Oil tankers capable of carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of oil will be required to report pre-arrival information on the cargo they are carrying, or picking up, from a port or marine installation located within the moratorium area.
This information must be submitted 24 hours before calling at our ports or marine installations. This requirement will ensure we know the types and quantities of oil travelling in our waters.
I want to reassure shippers that the reporting burden will be kept to a minimum by aligning requirements with existing reporting processes. The only additional requirement will be for oil tankers capable of carrying more than 12,500 metric tons of oil to report the specific type of oil being carried and the amount of this product that will be loaded or unloaded at a marine installation in northern British Columbia.
Make no mistake. If there is any concern, the government will have strong directive and inspection powers. Oil tankers can be directed to provide more information. They also can be directed not to come into a port or marine installation in northern British Columbia if it is believed they do not comply with this reporting requirement. Transport Canada has trained, professional marine inspectors already working on the north coast of British Columbia who enforce our existing marine legislation. These inspectors will carry out new enforcement activities under the proposed oil tanker moratorium act.
The powers these inspectors will have under this act are similar to the authorities they have under existing marine legislation, such as the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, and environmental protection legislation, such as the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. If necessary, these inspectors will have the authority to board an oil tanker and take samples or conduct tests on the oil to verify compliance with the act. If a marine inspector has reasonable grounds to believe the legislation has been violated, the inspector can have the oil tanker detained while an investigation is launched.
Safety is our top priority. Lest anyone doubt that, consider just how seriously we will treat violations. There are strong penalties if an oil tanker is found to have committed an offence under this act. We are supporting this moratorium with an enforcement regime that could result in fines of up to $5 million for offenders.
These strong measures are what Canadians want and expect.
The measures of the oil tanker moratorium act that I have described today were very much informed by the voices of Canadians. Beginning in January 2016, I undertook a series of engagement sessions with Canadians from coast to coast to coast. I did this to listen to their concerns and views on how to improve marine safety in Canada and how to formalize an oil tanker moratorium, two of my priorities as the Minister of Transport.
I met with indigenous groups all along the north coast of British Columbia, as well as inland indigenous groups. I also met with environmental non-governmental organizations, the marine and resource industries, and communities from across Canada. Participants welcomed us into their communities to discuss a broad range of marine transportation issues. Many more citizens across Canada logged on to our website to leave comments on the oil tanker moratorium.
They had a lot to say. Individuals and communities want to be more engaged in our marine safety system. They want more information on the products being moved in our waters. I also heard how coastal indigenous groups are often first on the scene in responding to marine emergencies and that if they had better equipment and training, they could reduce the potential impact of marine emergencies or pollution incidents, such as an oil spill.
People also offered their ideas on the moratorium boundaries, the oil products to be prohibited, and the types of vessels that should be covered by the moratorium. I met with colleagues from provincial and municipal governments as well to hear their views on improving marine safety and formalizing a tanker moratorium. We discussed ways to strengthen our partnership to benefit the economy and the environment, because we share a common goal to keep our economy strong and to protect the environment and we understand that marine safety is a precondition to sustainable economic development. We all recognize that it is vital to deliver our products to global markets to improve the economic prospects for middle-class Canadians and to receive goods from all four corners of the world that Canadian consumers depend on. We also realize that it is equally crucial that those products be shipped in an environmentally responsible way. Canadians have been clear that they expect no less, and I could not agree more.
This act is part of our larger plan to protect our coasts—to ensure they remain clean and safe, vibrant and diverse, accessible and sustainable—while growing our economy.
Our government has introduced a suite of measures to protect Canada's coasts and waterways. The moratorium complements existing measures, such as the voluntary tanker exclusion zone on the west coast of Canada.
The exclusion zone is a voluntary agreement between Canada and the United States that has been in place since the 1980s. Oil tankers full of crude oil that are transiting between Alaska and Washington or California must transit west of the zone boundary. The zone boundary extends up to 70 nautical miles offshore and then narrows to about 25 nautical miles around the Juan de Fuca Strait as oil tankers enter U.S. waters.
Laden oil tankers stay west of this boundary to protect the environment and coastline should one of these oil tankers become disabled. Transiting west of the tanker exclusion zone allows emergency response services to assist a disabled oil tanker before it can get close to shore.
This has been a successful measure that, every year, keeps approximately 300 laden crude oil tankers at a safe distance from Canadian shores. While the tanker exclusion zone is voluntary, our monitoring indicates that it is being fully observed by all American tankers.
In addition, as I noted earlier, this past fall our government announced that it would be investing in a $1.5-billion comprehensive national oceans protection plan. This plan has four priority areas.
First, the government of Canada will create a world-leading marine safety system that improves responsible shipping and protects Canada’s waters. World-leading means the system will meet or exceed the best practices in the world. This area focuses on both prevention and response measures.
Second, our government is focusing on the preservation and restoration of marine ecosystems and habitats. This is being done using new tools and research, as well as measures to address abandoned and derelict vessels and wrecks.
The third priority is building and strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities. The government is helping to build local capacity so that indigenous groups play a meaningful role in emergency response and waterway management.
Finally, this government will ensure that Canada’s marine safety system is built on a stronger evidence base supported by science and local knowledge.
Canadians are blessed with some of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, places of raw beauty and ecological diversity. Our new oceans protection plan would safeguard our coastlines and marine environment so that iconic places like British Columbia's northern coastline remain proud elements of our national identity that can be enjoyed today and for generations to come. Once passed by Parliament, our oil tanker moratorium act would provide important environmental protection for British Columbia's north coast, something many Canadians have sought for years.
Mr. Speaker, legislation has been coming fast and furious from this minister, and I can imagine that he wants to get something done so that the Liberals can say their government actually accomplished some of the things that they promised to do. However, this would be one promise that we ask the government to think very carefully about.
As the minister noted, currently there is a voluntary moratorium on tanker traffic. It has been in place since the 1980s and it covers the area that would be affected by this bill. Regardless of whether one philosophically agrees with this voluntary moratorium, it appears to have been working. Since Bill C-48 would do nothing to change the current situation in regard to tanker traffic travelling up and down B.C.'s coast, why is the minister wasting the House's time with this smokescreen of a bill?
Mr. Speaker, yes, the exclusion zone has been in place since the 1980s, but we made an election promise to Canadians that we would also exclude specific zones along the coast: Hecate Strait, the Dixon Entrance, and Queen Charlotte Sound. Specifically, we did not want to allow massive amounts of tanker traffic to be operating in those zones going into Canadian ports. That is a new element in this bill, and it would ensure that the moratorium would satisfy the requirement not to have lots of maritime traffic within the exclusion zone.
Mr. Speaker, protecting B.C.'s coast is very important to all of us, but British Columbians have perhaps a different idea of protecting our coast.
This minister was part of a cabinet that approved and signed off on the Kinder Morgan pipeline that runs to our west coast and to which this moratorium does not apply.
A minister within that cabinet, the natural resources minister, said that he would send in the army to facilitate the construction of that pipeline. I wonder if this minister agrees. Is he willing to violate the rights of British Columbians in order to build pipelines to the west coast?
Further, the Union of British Columbia Chiefs has said it has 25,000 people signed up to protest, using any means possible. I wonder if this minister feels comfortable using army and defence forces to arrest first nations people on reserves just for trying to protect our coast.
Mr. Speaker, of course I am here to talk about the moratorium bill, Bill C-48. I am very proud that it covers the regions from the United States-Canada border in the north right down to the point that is roughly aligned with the northern tip of Vancouver Island. This is a pristine area for which we promised we would establish a moratorium for tanker traffic, and we are keeping that promise.
British Columbia's economy and environment are important along its entire coast. That is why we are particularly proud of having brought in the oceans protection plan, which will put in place world-leading marine safety measures to ensure that the economic development of British Columbia continues but does so with an eye to ensuring the highest levels of environmental safety.
Mr. Speaker, more than 750,000 barrels of oil come into the eastern coast of Canada every single year, and close to 3,900 tankers come down the eastern coast of Canada, whether around New Brunswick or the St. Lawrence River. That number is closer to about 240 tankers off the west coast of B.C., which accounts for 1.43% of the commercial shipping traffic off the west coast. These are statistics from Transport Canada.
My question for the minister is this: why is there such a strong stand to impede the economic abilities of the west coast when there does not seem to be a similar concern about Canada's east coast, or are we going to be looking at a tanker moratorium off the coast of New Brunswick down the road as well, as another opportunity to block energy east down the road?
Mr. Speaker, British Columbians and Canadians in general have been telling us for a long time that they want to have a moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the north coast of British Columbia. We made that promise in the 2015 election. We are keeping that promise.
Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate hearing about what the minister has been doing concerning consultations with first nations groups. I would like to hear some of his ideas surrounding the criteria, and if he could explain further some of the criteria that were used to determine whether a nation-to-nation relationship and consultation had occurred.
Also, I would like to hear more about the consultation with the environment minister and Parks Canada to ensure that this proposal fits into a global vision for what needs to occur to protect our environment.
Mr. Speaker, it is a large question, but certainly I have spent a great deal of time speaking to various coastal nations in the affected area of the north coast of British Columbia, starting with the Nisga'a in the very north around Dixon Entrance; the Metlakatla; the Lax-kw'alaams; the Haida, of course, who have very strong opinions on this; the Heiltsuk; the Haisla; and various other groups as well, including some first nations that are inland.
If the member is asking me if everyone agreed 100% on the moratorium, I would say that there is a range of varying opinions, but by and large, the majority of the indigenous peoples that we consulted—and these are people who have been living on the coast for millennia—felt very strongly that it was important to protect this pristine area of Canada. Environmental activists and the NGOs felt the same way as we did. There were some differences of opinion within the shipping industry, and I can understand their arguments, but there is still very much the possibility to have a very active, economically progressive, and growing shipping industry in the southern part of British Columbia, as well as in the northern part, for traffic other than tanker traffic.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister and his government's introduction of this legislation. It formalizes an informal ban that has existed for many years on the B.C. north coast. However, one concern that we heard loud and clear with its introduction is with respect to ministerial discretion. The bill gives the minister quite a bit of latitude to exempt certain projects for any length of time and for any scale of project. Does the minister agree that ministerial discretion and a minister's ability to exempt certain projects should be a concern?
Mr. Speaker, I would go a little further and say that this is not formalizing an informal arrangement. The exclusion zone has existed for several decades. We are actually bringing new elements into this. We are saying that tanker traffic will not be allowed to go in and out of the ports in the north part of British Columbia. That was not anything that existed prior to this. This is a promise we are keeping to British Columbians and to Canadians.
Second, there is some ministerial discretion, but I want to assure my colleague that it would never be used unless there were exceptional emergency circumstances.
Mr. Speaker, we ran during the election on, and spoke a great deal about, balancing the economy and the environment. I wonder if the minister could comment on that and how the bill carries forward that commitment to balance Canada's commitment to develop our economy with protecting our environment and natural resources.
Mr. Speaker, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the largest by far in the country. A huge amount of trade leaves our country, and enters our country, either destined for the United States or for the Asia-Pacific region. The Port of Prince Rupert, which is in the north of British Columbia, is expanding in a very impressive manner.
We care deeply about the commerce of our country. We are a trading nation, but we have also said at the same time that it is important for us to ensure that we preserve these pristine areas and that we preserve the mammals that live in them for generations to come. This is where coastal people have lived for millennia, and we are very glad that as part of the oceans protection plan they are participating with us. They have a huge amount to contribute.
We care about the environment, and we want to grow the economy. We believe we are achieving the right balance.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to lead off debate on this legislation today on behalf of the official opposition. Although this legislation seems confined to one geographical area, with a very specific intent, it is in fact of national importance, with wide-ranging impacts on people and communities in the local vicinity and also across Canada. It is also instructive of the particular ideology driving the Liberals' policy decisions and reveals the cavern between their words, their aims, and the real consequences of their actions.
The roots of this bill were planted very early, in fact less than a month after the last general election. The Prime Minister himself said that it was his own highest priority to base his government's policies and laws on evidence and consultation. In the mandate letter to the Minister of Natural Resources, the Prime Minister said, “ensure that decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence, and serve the public’s interest”.
However, on November 13, 2015, mandate letters from the Prime Minister to at least three ministers directed them to work together to formalize a moratorium on crude oil tankers off British Columbia's north coast. One wonders quite reasonably how it could at all be possible that there was sufficient time in 25 days to ground this directive on the results of comprehensive assessments of existing environmental and safety records, standards, outcomes, and gaps; a comparative analysis of marine traffic rules, enforcement, and track records on all Canadian coasts and internationally; and thorough local, regional, and national economic impact studies. Clearly, those undertakings would deliver the information required for fact- and evidence-based decision-making.
On top of that, how could there possibly be sufficient time to consult with impacted communities, first nations, industry, and experts? There is a difference between consulting to get to a decision and meeting in order to get to the conclusion one already wants. Unfortunately, two years in, this is a pattern to which Canadians are getting accustomed. Despite all the talk, it is actually voter coalitions, politics, and ideology that drive the Liberals' predetermined conclusions.
This bill, of course, is not really about transport standards, marine traffic, or protecting the safety and ecology of B.C.'s northern shore exclusively for the Liberals. It is really yet another step in limiting Canadian oil development and hindering Canadian oil transportation and the Prime Minister's own explicit goal of phasing out the oil sands. The fact that this ban is exclusively in northern B.C. and only applies to crude oil tankers in a specific zone begs the question: why is tanker traffic okay near Vancouver and off the east coast but not in northern B.C.?
The unbiased, non-partisan Library of Parliament's legislative summary states explicitly that the debate around the tanker moratorium stems from the Conservative-approved northern gateway pipeline project, which would have transported 525,000 additional barrels per day of oil from Bruderheim, Alberta, which is in my riding of Lakeland in the industrial heartland that is Canada's largest petrochemical and refining region, to Kitimat, B.C.
In November 2016, the Liberals directed the National Energy Board to dismiss the project, citing concerns about crude oil tankers transiting in the area. The tanker ban in this region would permanently prevent any other opportunities for pipelines to transport world-leading Canadian oil to the Prince Rupert and Kitimat area, where it could reach the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region to achieve export market diversification by expanding Canada's customer base.
Reaching more export markets is vital to ensuring the long-term development of Canada's crude oil reserves, which are the third-largest in the world. Energy is Canada's second biggest export, and 97% is imported by the United States. As the U.S. becomes Canada's biggest energy competitor, infrastructure that will get landlocked Canadian oil to more export markets worldwide is more important than ever. This is vital for all Canadians.
This bill is not a minor one with only specific impacts in a particular region, as it may seem. In fact, it is a measure that would impact all of Canada, with future consequences for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians employed in the energy sector across the country. Energy is the biggest private sector investor in Canada's economy, and as mentioned, oil and gas is Canada's second biggest export. Deliberately limiting export capacity potential by putting up roadblocks to access to tidewater, thereby putting a ceiling on production, would be detrimental to the livelihoods of Canadians everywhere. It would put very real limits on future economic opportunities, certainly with disproportionately harmful outcomes for certain communities and certain provinces.
Canadian oil and gas provides 670,000 direct and indirect jobs across Canada. In 2015, the oil sands alone generated 151,000 direct jobs and 300,000 indirect jobs across the country. The Prime Minister said, “The world needs more Canada.” We Conservatives agree. The good news is that the world wants Canada too, and it wants Canadian energy in particular.
The International Energy Agency projects that global oil demand will continue to grow in the decades ahead, reaching 99 million barrels a day this year and increasing to 121 million barrels a day by 2040. Global oil demand expanded in the past five years by 6.8 million barrels a day, with 69% of that growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
Reaching tidewater in all directions for Canada's oil and gas should be a pressing priority for the Liberals. It makes no sense to delay, hinder, or equivocate on this point from an economic, environmental, or moral perspective in the global context. All that does is take Canada out, ceding market share to oil- and gas-producing countries where standards, enforcement, and outcomes do not measure up to Canada's performance, and to corrupt regimes with abysmal environmental and human rights records, where energy development benefits only a select few. This is in stark contrast to Canada, where energy development benefits every community with jobs and with revenue for multiple levels of government, which is also shared across the country, with the aim of ensuring that all Canadians have access to roughly similar services and programs. Between 2000 and 2014, for example, on a net basis Alberta's individual and corporate taxpayers shipped an estimated $200 billion-plus to the federal government, and a major source of that revenue was from oil and gas.
A 2014 WorleyParsons study, which compared Alberta's environmental and regulatory systems with similarly sized oil- and gas-producing jurisdictions around the world, said that Alberta was among the best. That is no surprise, considering that Alberta, of course, was the first jurisdiction in all of North America to regulate emissions. The study said that Alberta was near the top of the list for the most stringent environmental laws and that Alberta ranked at the top for the availability of public information about the environmental performance of the oil and gas industry. The study confirmed that Alberta is unmatched on the compliance and enforcement scale.
Pipelines are a safe, efficient, and reliable way to move Canadian energy to consumers. In Canada, federally regulated pipelines carry over $100 billion worth of natural gas, oil, and petroleum products each year, 99.99% of which is transported safely.
I know that my Liberal colleagues will be eager to spin their narrative as champions of pipelines while peddling the myth that not one kilometre of pipeline went ahead under the previous Conservative government. I would like to dispense with that false claim right now, and I hope we can actually have accurate exchanges on the topic in the future. The Conservatives approved 10 pipelines, four that are already constructed and operating. Importantly, Conservatives accepted the independent regulator's recommendation to approve the northern gateway pipeline, which was a $7.9-billion initiative that notably involved 31 benefit agreements with first nations' equity partners of $2 billion all along the pipeline route. It also would have secured critical access for Canada to the Asia-Pacific.
On July 23, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the crown did not adequately consult on the project. In response, the current Prime Minister could have sought additional consultations, with expanded scope, with directly impacted first nations and with those who stood to lose immediate and long-term revenue for their communities and job opportunities for their children and future generations, but he did not. Instead, for the first time in Canadian history, a prime minister overruled and rejected a recommendation by the independent, world-renowned, expert regulator and killed the northern gateway outright and unilaterally, along with all associated economic opportunities and an actual concrete way to give the world more Canada.
This tanker ban would permanently eliminate all potential for any future initiatives in the region.
Context is important. Incredibly, the Prime Minister vetoed northern gateway on the very same day he accepted the Trans Mountain and Line 3 expansions, the latter of which is currently at serious risk in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Commerce has said that the expansion is not needed. If Minnesota blocks the pipeline, landlocked oil and gas will face an additional challenge even getting to Canada's already biggest customer, which reinforces why Canadian access to tidewater is crucial.
The Liberals should restrain themselves on this theme, since they actually unilaterally denied the only new opportunity to reach tidewater while they approved two expansions assessed under the exact same process, with the same evidence. Anyone wondering about this incoherence can understand that it is a result of political and ideology-driven decisions, where the priority is holding voting coalitions together to fend off political opponents like the NDP and the Greens, rather than basing policy on science, evidence, or consultations or reaching conclusions in service of the broad national public interest.
The by-product of the constant Liberal and leftist barrage of attacks on Canadian regulators and energy developers, and changes to rules with new red tape and added costs, is that energy investment in Canada has dropped dramatically in the same time frame. Since the Liberals were elected, the policy uncertainty and additional hurdles during an already challenging time for prices, costs, and competitiveness have caused the biggest two-year decline in Canadian oil and gas investment in any other two-year period since 1947. This year alone, there is a projected 47% drop in oil and gas capital from 2016 levels. Energy investment in Canada, on which hundreds of thousands of Canadian jobs depend, has declined more in the two years after the 2015 federal election than before it. One-sixth of total energy workers in Canada have lost their jobs with it.
Context matters here too. The overall lost investment of more than $50 billion is difficult to conceptualize, so I think it is important to know that it is equivalent to the loss of about 75% of Canada's auto manufacturing, and nearly the entire aerospace industry. I would suggest that those scenarios would rightfully be a national crisis and a top priority for a federal government, and not something to be met with added barriers, benign neglect, and a dismissive, “Hang in there” attitude. Therefore, it is rational to conclude that this ban is about stopping crude oil, not about protecting a specific area from marine vessels.
Gavin Smith, a lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law, points out that there is already a voluntary ban that keeps most big tankers out of the area and a dearth of information about what kind of traffic goes through the region, something that Transport Canada should make public.
This law will not affect the current voluntary exclusion zone that was implemented decades ago. The voluntary exclusion zone was put in place for American shipping from Alaska to the west coast. Because of international law, foreign vessels can decide whether or not to abide by the exclusion zone boundaries. This tanker ban will not make this ban involuntary for American tanker traffic and it will not mandate it for the exact same kinds of tankers that will now not be allowed to carry Canadian oil as a result of this bill. It makes no sense.
Nearly three years ago, the former Conservative government implemented a suite of strong measures to create a world-class tanker safety system that modernized Canada's navigation system, enhanced area response planning and marine safety capacity for first nation communities, and ensured that polluters pay for spills and damages on all coasts. Canada has industry-leading regulations with standards well beyond other jurisdictions'. Government certified and industry-funded marine response organizations, like the eastern and western Canada response corporations, and the marine safety response systems on the east and west coast and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are among the best in the world. Canada's commitment to ocean and coastline protection renders this moratorium unnecessary.
What is the evidence? Tankers have safely and regularly transported crude oil from Canada's west coast since the 1930s. In 2011, 2.2 million tonnes of oil were safely shipped from B.C., and on the east coast, 82.5 million tonnes of various petroleum products have been shipped from 23 ports in Atlantic Canada. There have not been any tanker navigational issues or incidents in about 50 years in the port of Vancouver.
To make matters worse, it turns out that many first nations leaders do not think the Liberals consulted on this tanker ban adequately either. In addition to the lost economic opportunities for first nations offered by the northern gateway pipeline, this tanker ban puts the $14 billion Eagle Spirit Energy pipeline proposal from Fort McMurray to Prince Rupert in serious peril.
The Chief's Council Eagle Spirit Energy Project has stated:
To be clear; there has been insufficient consultation for the proposed Tanker Moratorium and it does not have our consent. As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the federal government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.
Moreover, Isaac Laboucan-Avirom, a member of that chief's council, has said:
The decision to do that impairs not only the people on the coast but it impairs the diverse Canadian economy
This reality is in direct contradiction to what the Prime Minister and many ministers have said repeatedly they would ensure in laws, policies, operational practices, project reviews and assessments in service to what they have said is their most important relationship. However, it makes sense why the Liberals would not want to elevate the voices of the first nations people who supported northern gateway and those who oppose this tanker ban, because it undermines their myth that all first nations people are opposed to oil and gas and to pipelines, which the left exploits to advance its anti-Canadian energy agenda.
In fact, first nations are partners in Canadian energy development everywhere, with more than 300 impact and benefit agreements with energy developers in the last decade, worth millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. AFN Chief Bellegarde says that 500 of the 630 first nations in Canada are open to pipelines and to oil and gas development. First nations in Lakeland and the oil sands region demonstrate that every day. For example, the Fort McKay First Nation near the epicentre of the Athabasca oil sands have an unemployment rate of zero, average annual incomes of $120,000, and financial holdings in excess of $2 billion. Moreover, the Mikisew Cree are owners of part of a Suncor tank storage facility worth more than $350 million. In fact, there are 327 indigenous-owned enterprises that do business with oil and gas operations in Alberta alone, involving $10 billion in goods and services from those companies over the last 15 years.
It is not isolated to Alberta. The Hereditary Chiefs' Council of Lax Kw'alaams, whose traditional territories extend along the coastline that will be affected by this ban, declared their frustration with the Liberals' delay in consulting them on the tanker ban. They say it will have significant impacts on the ability of the council's members to make a living. They state:
As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.
This tanker ban is not in the best interests of all Canadians. This bill enables an ideological, predetermined conclusion that is not based on evidence or consultations and is not substantiated by comprehensive safety, environmental, and economic assessments, or at least none that have been made public.
It deliberately and specifically targets one industry, with disproportionate damage to landlocked provinces, which will seriously hamper future prosperity for all Canadians and limit Canada's leadership role in the world. It is really all about Liberal politicking.
Canada's energy diversity is a vital strength. Responsible development in all sectors across all of Canada should be championed by governments. It is important to know that conventional oil and gas, oil sands, and pipeline companies are among the largest private sector investors in alternative energy technologies like wind and solar in Canada. When one sector thrives, so does the other.
Conservatives value the responsible development of natural resources in all sectors, in all provinces, to benefit all of Canada, and we oppose this crude oil tanker ban.
Mr. Speaker, in 1989, the Exxon Valdez had an unfortunate incident. Human failure led to a critical incident that led to tonnes of crude oil being released into the environment, which still impacts the environment to this day.
In discussions with the Haida Gwaii, they have indicated they are not in favour of the transportation of crude oil through their traditional territories.
I think this is an attempt by the government to come up with a balance between the economy and the environment, allowing crude oil to be shipped from certain areas of the country but not others, depending on where we are and the type of environment involved. This is really based on the idea of using science and data to come up with something that can respect the long-term vision for what we can and cannot do. This does not mean, though, that I do not believe that this moratorium will prevent other types of economic development taking place.
What are the member's beliefs or feelings about the idea that we need to strike a balance in what we need to do to protect the environment while also developing the economy?
Mr. Speaker, Canada already has a long and successful track record of balancing environmental stewardship with economic development and energy and industrial development, which benefit the entire country.
That is one way in which Canada is second to none or to any other jurisdiction on earth. I do not think this legislation is about balancing the environment with economic development. I think it is about the Liberals meeting a commitment, as mentioned in the minister's opening remarks, they made in the election to secure NDP and Green voters in B.C. I think the Liberals have been facing flak for the other two pipeline expansions they approved, so they are doubling down on this tanker ban to try to reinforce their own votes.
It would be incorrect to suggest that all communities and all first nations people have exactly the same perspective on energy development. That is clear from the first nations people who were speaking out in opposition to this ban and who supported the northern gateway pipeline that the member's government killed.
We should be clear that this tanker ban would absolutely eliminate any more potential for crude oil transportation and economic development in the area.
Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about ideology and consent. It was the Conservative government that approved the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline project over the objections of local communities, first nations, court rulings, environmental organizations, and public opinion. The Conservatives, under former leader Stephen Harper, accused opponents of Enbridge of being foreign-funded radicals hell-bent on undermining our nation's economic progress. It was in fact the Conservatives who reorganized the National Energy Board process, denied broad public participation, and weakened environmental protections like the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act in order for Enbridge to pass. In other words, they used ideology to move this forward.
Does this Conservative member regret gutting environmental regulations and public input for that purpose in that legislation?
Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely false to suggest that Canada's regulatory systems and environmental oversight and compliance were weakened. Instead of just talking from my own personal perspective, I have already referenced an expert who, based on an analysis of other oil and gas-producing jurisdictions around the world, confirmed in 2014, before the Liberals were elected, that Alberta's oil and gas production and Canadian regulatory oversight, enforcement, and compliance were the best in the world.
Here is what 31 aboriginal equity partners who supported the northern gateway project said:
We are profoundly shocked and disappointed by the news that the Federal Government has no intention of pursuing any further consultation and dialogue with our communities on the important issue of the Northern Gateway Project. We are also deeply disappointed that a Prime Minister who campaigned on a promise of reconciliation with Indigenous communities would now blatantly choose to deny our 31 First Nations and Métis communities of our constitutionally protected right to economic development. We see today's announcement as clear evidence of their unwillingness to follow through on his promise.
As I stated, the Prime Minister could have expanded the consultations and held additional discussions with locally impacted communities and first nations people to get it right on northern gateway, and ensure that Canada's world-leading resources can reach diverse export markets.
Mr. Speaker, we know that Venezuelan oil is being accepted in Quebec, we know that Saudi Arabian oil is being accepted in the east coast, so why is it that oil from Alberta and British Columbia is not accepted in western Canada? I know that the member is passionate about this, as I am. My home town is Fort McMurray, Alberta, a place where the oil sands create prosperity, a place where I know Canadians go every day to make sure they can fulfill their Canadian dreams.
What kind of negative impact is this moratorium going to have on her constituents and people throughout western Canada?
Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the issue that puts the lie to the Liberals' motivation behind this legislation. It would specifically target one industry and would be disproportionately harmful to one province. If this were only about coastal protection and the stewardship of ecological areas that would be vulnerable to marine traffic, then all marine traffic would be banned in the area, and it would be banned on all coasts. The member raises a very important point.
Moreover, as I addressed in my remarks, this is also problematic because it would limit Canada's ability to provide the world with responsible, sustainable, world-leading Canadian oil and gas produced under standards that are literally the best in the world and provide jobs, prosperity, and economic opportunities for every Canadian in every province.
Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to this idea of balance.
There was an article in the Winnipeg Free Press that discussed Lynn Lake and some of the mining that was going on there. Under current laws, the mining companies were allowed to pollute, destroy the environment, and make these areas uninhabitable for indigenous people and average Canadians. I am very proud of the government going out, trying to get a balance between the environment and the economy. I know we are trying to redo the National Energy Board. The expert panel put out a report recently, and Liberals have been reviewing that report. I have been reviewing that report.
Are there laws in Canada that should be changed to protect the environment? At the end of the day, we still have to live here. We have to drink the water and breathe the air. If we cannot do that, perhaps it is poor on a few of us and bollocks to the rest of us, but at the end of the day, we do have to live here.
Mr. Speaker, every time Liberal members stand and take shots at Canadian natural resources developers and suggest that Canadian regulators have not done a sufficient job, it damages Canada's reputation on the world stage. Our regulators are experts in the field. They are renowned and recognized by everybody else except the Liberals and maybe their friends in the NDP. It is alarming that policymakers and legislators do not know the facts.
Canada's mining industry is also a world leader. I was pretty shocked at natural resources committee when the minister talked about five or six different measures by which the Canadian mining industry led the rest of the world with respect to consultation, environmental stewardship, regulation and compliance, and enforcement. I asked him a very clear question. Did the minister believe that Canada produced the most environmentally and socially responsible oil and gas in the world? He started stumbling and equivocating. He said that he was not really sure what I meant or what metrics I was referring to, so he did not know how to answer the question.
If the Liberals want to have a conversation about how we can improve environmental stewardship and enforcement, even beyond our already exceptional performance, which is the best in the world, then we should debate on that. However, this crude oil tanker ban is not about that.
That, notwithstanding the order made on Thursday, September 28, 2017, the recorded division on the motion for second reading of Bill C-47, an act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty and other amendments) deferred until Tuesday, October 3, 2017, at the expiry of the time oral questions, be further deferred until the expiry of time provided for government orders on the same day.
Legislating the prior informal ban has been a policy objective of Canada's NDP for many years, which received support from Liberal MPs, particularly on the west coast.
The history of Bill C-48 has been quite the legislative roller coaster. Multiple private members' bills have been tabled to protect the north coast, but none became law.
In 2001, Bill C-571 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2009, Bill C-458 was introduced by an NDP MP. In 2010, Bill C-606 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2011, I introduced Bill C-211. In 2012, Bill C-437 was introduced by a Liberal MP. In 2014, Bill C-628 was introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
In 2010, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley moved a north coast tanker ban motion, which passed in the House 143 to 138, with the support of all parties in the House, except Conservative minority government members who voted against it.
Now, here we are finally debating a bill that would protect the north coast from crude oil tanker traffic for good. The New Democrats welcome the legislation, but we do so with caution. We are concerned that Bill C-48 would give the minister of transport too much arbitrary power to exempt vessels from the legislation and the power to define what fuels would be exempt from the act. We hope the government will implement constructive amendments to limit ministerial power and increase oil spill response resources beyond its ocean protection plan commitments to respond to spills from refined oil vessels not covered by this ban.
Our NDP caucus, local first nations, municipal governments, trade unions, environmental NGOs, grassroots activists, and concerned citizens have over the years increased the call for this ban due to the environmental threat posed by the northern gateway pipeline project.
Northern gateway would have meant the annual passage of 225 supertankers bigger than the Empire State building, which would carry three times as much oil as the Exxon Valdez did before its catastrophic spill into similar waters. Cleanup and coastal recovery for the Exxon Valdez spill cost about $9.5 billion, of which Exxon paid only $3.5 billion. Twenty-five years after that spill, fish habitat and stocks still have not fully recovered. I shake my head in disbelief that so many MPs in the House still think the northern gateway pipeline project would have been a net benefit to Canada.
It is equally galling that our last government ripped up essential environmental laws and undermined the National Energy Board process in order to rubberstamp this pipeline project and others like it. As a result, we are still living with the short-sighted rip and ship mentality for Canada.
It was this short-sighted economic vision that disregarded the crown's obligation to our first nation's people. Canadians still remember how in December, 2013, despite overwhelming opposition from British Columbians and first nations, the National Energy Board recommended approval of the project, along with its 209 conditions. British Columbians showed their resolve to defend our coast by creating a broad-based movement of resistance, which today has shifted its focus to the Liberals' Kinder Morgan pipeline project expansion.
The defenders of our coast were vindicated in January 2016 when the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the Province of B.C. “has breached the honour of the Crown by failing to consult” with the Gitga'at and other coastal first nations on the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline project.
Not considering the environmental dangers of a pipeline through northern B.C. was a grave mistake. A large spill would be a disaster for the north coast. In particular, a supertanker oil spill could deal a serious blow to our already struggling wild salmon.
In British Columbia, our wild salmon are considered an iconic species, an integral part of our identity. They are a keynote species that delivers nutrients deep into the forests when they die. They are a major part of what makes the Great Bear Rainforest so great. Salmon support first nations communities, coastal communities, and are an integral part of our west coast economy.
The waters off British Columbia's north coast are a significant salmon migration route, with millions of salmon coming from the more than 650 streams and rivers along the coast. The impacts of a single oil spill would be devastating.
The commercial fishery on the north coast catches over $100 million worth of fish annually. Over 2,500 residents along B.C.'s north coast work in the commercial fishery. The fish processing industry employs thousands more.
The magnificent beauty of this region and the abundance of salmon have made it a world-renowned destination for ecotourism. The tourism industry has been a major catalyst for employment, economic growth, and opportunity in British Columbia. Businesses in this region have worked hard to promote their location as a major tourist destination.
As other resource-based jobs have taken a hit, tourism has provided a much-needed economic boost. The west coast wilderness tourism industry is now estimated to be worth over $782 million annually, employing some 26,000 people full-time and roughly 40,000 people in total. People from all over the world come to the north coast to witness the annual migration of the more than 20,000 gray whales and northern killer whales.
The shoreline is dotted with sports fishing lodges, as fishing enthusiasts flock to experience the natural marine environment and wild ocean and take part in the world famous fishery. People are often left awestruck after spending even a day kayaking, bear watching, or enjoying a guided trip showcasing the majestic west coast. They come to photograph sea otters and bald eagles, and to experience in some cases the untouched natural environment of the Pacific coast.
This legislated crude oil tanker ban will help protect the Great Bear Rainforest and Gwuii Haanas marine conservation parks. These two protected areas have incredible biological diversity that all parties in the House agree should be protected. They contain many species of concern like iconic killer whales, grizzly bears, bald eagles, and Pacific salmon. With so much at stake for our economy and our ecology, we are happy that Bill C-48 legislates an end to the threat posed by projects like northern gateway, but are also disappointed that the bill does not protect B.C.'s coast outright from oil tanker spills.
Limiting tankers to more than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil on the north coast of Canada appears arbitrary and dangerously high. I encourage the government to make public the past and current oil shipment information for this region and provide a rationale for the 12,500 tonne threshold, including the types of vessels or shipments it will include or exclude. There is no reason to impede necessary vessels that help our coastal communities thrive, but clarity is required to ensure a proper threshold so as not to cause undue risk.
The bill makes exceptions for refined oil products like diesel, gasoline, and propane in order for coastal communities to be resupplied and to support value-added petroleum industries. While most of this is understandable, it means the bill does nothing to protect our coast from refined oil spills that could impact marine environments and disrupt valuable ecosystems.
The recent Nathan E. Stewart disaster shows just how big a threat refined oil spills can be. It demonstrates the need for increased oil spill response funding and training on the north coast and increased oil spill prevention measures for refined oil vessels.
For those needing a reminder, the Nathan E. Stewart ran aground in the early hours of October 13, 2016, near Bella Bella, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, spilling toxic diesel into critical fishing areas off B.C.'s central coast. The vessel eventually sank, spilling as much as 110,000 litres of diesel into the marine environment. Cleanup efforts were repeatedly hampered by bad weather and the vessel was not recovered until more than a month after it sank. Good thing the Nathan E. Stewart was not at maximum fuel capacity. The damage would have been even worse.
A Transportation Safety Board investigation showed spill response was inadequate, including slow response time, insufficient and ineffective equipment, a lack of safety gear, and confusion about who was in charge. First nations leaders were outraged at the government's slow and inadequate spill response. This bill would do nothing to ban vessels like the Nathan E. Stewart from carrying the amount of fuel that it did. We must learn from this disaster to prevent such accidents, and to ensure that, if they do occur, coastal communities are better equipped to quickly respond. We are encouraged to see investments in spill response as part of the government's much-touted oceans protection plan. However, these investments alone are simply inadequate.
It is discouraging that despite the NDP's objections, the government closed three integral marine communications and traffic services centres on B.C.'s coast, which undermines the ability of a speedy spill response. Justine Hunter of The Globe and Mail wrote:
The MCTS is responsible for monitoring distress calls, co-ordinating responses, and taking action to ensure the safe and efficient movement of vessels in Canadian waters. However, with only two MCTS officers responsible for monitoring a vast stretch of B.C.'s coast, from north of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border and including the inside passage, a source with knowledge of the situation says there was little chance that anyone would have spotted the doomed course of the tug, charted in real time on marine traffic maps through its Automatic Identification System transponder.
The best spill response plans include spill prevention plans and, sadly, the current government is moving in the wrong direction. B.C.'s MCTS centres deal with an incredible volume of marine traffic. By consolidating MCTS resources into only two centres, Prince Rupert and Victoria, the government has increased the number of vessels that our already overworked Coast Guard staff have to monitor and has opened up the system to new failures. Marine vessels continue to report that communications systems regularly go down, leaving vessels without Coast Guard contact. It was short-sighted to close the Comox MCTS centre, removing much-needed resources along our coast who have local knowledge and monitoring capacity. The most troubling aspect of Bill C-48 is that it would allow the Minister of Transport to make exceptions for indeterminate lengths of time without public review or comment.
Gavin Smith of West Coast Environmental Law said:
Section 6(1) of Bill C-48 allows the Minister, by order, to exempt identified oil tankers from the ban on any terms and for any period of time. Moreover, section 6(2) says that the Statutory Instruments Act does not apply to such exemption orders, which removes requirements that such exemption orders be published and made easily available for public inspection.
This provision, if used to its full extent, could allow wide-scale and long-term exemptions from the oil tanker ban to be ordered behind closed doors without opportunity for public review and input, effectively gutting the purpose of the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act. The need for this provision is unclear given that Bill C-48 already includes sensible exemptions from the oil tanker ban for vessels in various forms of distress (e.g. to ensure the safety of the vessel, for medical emergencies, or to render assistance to another vessel in distress), as well as vessels under the control of the Minister of National Defence. It is even more puzzling that the government has proposed excluding such exemption orders from the application of the Statutory Instruments Act, which effectively makes them less public.
Canada's New Democrats agree. The powers given to the minister in this bill would undermine its positive aspects. The minister's power to exempt ships for indeterminate amounts of time if deemed in the public interest is far too broad. There should be time limits on exemptions and opportunities for public comment on any long-term exemptions. This should also apply to the regulatory authority to add or remove fuel types that count under the ban.
Bill C-48 has loopholes large enough to drive an oil tanker through. Ministerial discretion has been used by the Liberal government and others to circumvent the positive aspects of this bill. There is no need to continue this pattern of letting industry circumvent Canada's environmental laws without constraint or review.
This bill is a positive development for British Columbians and Canadians, but it can be improved. It protects what we hold dear and takes us a step closer to a different vision of development on Canada's west coast. However, with the ability to veto protection for destructive megaprojects, the bill still leaves B.C.'s north coast vulnerable.
We ask the government to listen to first nations, NGOs, and coastal communities to close the gaps in Bill C-48 and truly protect the assets of the Pacific north coast.
Mr. Speaker, to be clear before I start, I oppose both the NDP's and the Liberals' positions on this bill. However, I have some facts for the member: 3,900 crude oil tankers a year are in the St. Lawrence; 240 oil tankers off the B.C. coast, which is only 1.3% of total commercial traffic on the B.C. coast; and the east coast has 16 times higher tanker traffic than the west coast.
Given the NDP's comments, do they actually want bans of all marine vessels of all sizes on all Canadian coasts, and given their own position, if not, why not?
Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. Of course, the NDP is not looking at that. I said that clearly in my speech. We have concerns about vessels: 12,500 metric tonnes is the threshold of concern. We want to see coastal communities thrive and get the necessary fuels they need to carry on what they do.
I will say two words, and they are two words that people all around the world still remember: Exxon Valdez. We can talk about as much traffic and trips as we want, but people remember the one or the few spills that have happened around the world. They make impacts that last decades.
With the Exxon Valdez, it is two and a half decades since that oil spill devastated the north coast. People around the world and on the north coast are sensitive to that. They want to see a new way of doing business, one that protects the values they hold true, which are salmon, the marine environment and ecosystem. They have worked and lived off them for thousands of years in some cases.
Mr. Speaker, we understand in listening to the member that there were many private members, both Liberals and New Democrats, who advanced legislation, a private member's bill, on this very important issue. It only seems to be the Conservative Party that is out of touch with what Canadians truly want to see the government do. We now have a piece of legislation, within two years.
The member made reference to private members' bills. Would he not acknowledge that even within these two years, we have a minister who has taken a very proactive approach, recognizing that the economy and the environment are both important, a Liberal trademark? This legislation is a positive step forward, and we look forward to it going to committee.
Mr. Speaker, I agree, and I did mention in my speech that this is a positive step. We welcome this legislation. I did caution about ministerial powers and exemption, and hope that the government listens to those concerns. I hope my comments will be listened to and taken to committee.
I agree that there has been a shift, a change. However, it is two years later, and we are still waiting for the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and Navigable Protection Act to be restored, as well as the NEB. We have waited for two years. Canadians are tired of waiting. The Liberals promised two years ago that they would make these changes.
Many major energy projects have gone through, including Kinder Morgan, under those same gutted environmental protection laws. While we concede that this is a step in the right direction, the Liberal government has a long way to go before it can say it is moving in terms of true environmental protections, including carrying out the promises it made in the 2015 election.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague not only for his speech today, but for his many years of championing the resources of Canada's coasts, particularly the west coast.
It is sometimes portrayed as just a bunch of environmentalists who care about tankers and tanker traffic off of British Columbia's west coast. However, when I had the pleasure of sitting in for the member at the fisheries and oceans committee, it was very clear that there is widespread concern among many organizations and groups, including commercial fishers and many others.
I would like to give my colleague the opportunity to share with us some of the people he hears from on a regular basis who are concerned about tanker traffic on the west coast, besides environmentalists.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the kind words from the member for Kootenay—Columbia. I also want to acknowledge his work in standing up for the environment and for standing in for me at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I have appreciated his stand on many issues.
In terms of who I have heard from and who New Democrats have heard from over the years, we have certainly heard from many environmental organizations that are concerned with Canada's west coast. However, there are many others, including fishing organizations, fishing groups, fishermen, first nations, coastal communities, local communities, and labour groups. There are many organizations that know and appreciate how important it is to get it right in terms of what environmental protection means to local community economic development.
Salmon is an important iconic species, but it is also integral to the coastal communities' economy. We can see why many of these groups and individuals come together to ensure that legislation reflects the values they hold dear. They have held these values for thousands of years in some cases, like our first nations coastal communities.
Mr. Speaker, on that note, what would the member say to the Hereditary Chiefs Council, which represents the nine tribes of the Lax Kw'alaams, who on September 20 said that they were not consulted on the oil tanker ban. They said, “As Indigenous peoples, we want to preserve the right to determine the types of activities that take place in our territories and do not accept that the government should tell us how to preserve, protect, and work within our traditional territories.” They said that there was insufficient consultation.
What does the member say to the partners of the Eagle Spirit Energy's project whose pipeline will also now be null and void because of the tanker ban?
Mr. Speaker, certainly having consultation is critical. Nation-to-nation relationships are critically important to establish and to get right. I think it is up to the federal government to listen, engage, and have a dialogue that results in good decisions. However, it could be said, certainly prior to the current government, that this was not the case. Certainly under the northern gateway pipeline project, that was absolutely not the case.
However it is a good question, and we should, as a government, strive to work towards a full nation-to-nation relationship, so that we get the best decisions for those nations, for Canada, and for Canada's west coast.
Mr. Speaker, I would also like to commend the excellent work done by my colleague from Port Moody—Coquitlam on protecting the environment and all aquatic resources on the Pacific coast, including salmon.
This bill is a step forward but we still have some concerns, which my colleague has talked about, including for example the new powers this bill gives to the minister, powers that could undermine the bill's positive aspects. With these new powers, the minister could exempt ships for indeterminate amounts of time or for much longer if it is deemed in the public interest.
Exemptions should be subject to time limits, rather than being left to the minister's discretion.
What powers does my colleague think should be given to the minister, and what should the limits be on those powers? Should the public have any input or control?
Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree with my hon. colleague from Drummond in pointing out his concern. I share that concern. I mentioned in my speech that while New Democrats agree with the spirit, intent, and direction of this bill, we are still very concerned with ministerial discretion and allowing the minister the latitude to approve such projects. For instance, large megaprojects that would be harmful to the west coast and coastal communities would be a problem.
The minister acknowledged that those powers do exist. I hope he takes that under advisement and that when we get to committee, Liberals will take the NDP's suggestions seriously and implement those changes in the legislation going forward.
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 Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, National Defence; the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Fisheries and Oceans; the hon. member for Calgary Shepard, Government Appointments.
Residents and communities on Canada's west coast have been working toward this legislation for years, as reflected in the comments made by my colleague, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam. It is a key aspect of actions our government is taking to protect British Columbia's Pacific coastline and to advance our transportation 2030 vision to protect Canada's waterways and three ocean coasts.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the health and well-being of our oceans is vital for our communities, our environment, our economy, and the well-being of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Canada has the largest coastline in the world, and it is critical that these vast stretches of coastline and marine environment be well protected to ensure that our oceans can continue to support a rich variety of sea life, and our lives too. We are all one.
Our oceans play an important role in Canada's economy, facilitating the movements of goods and people and enabling trade to protect our high standard of living. It was a distinct pleasure for me to attend recently at the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert, for example, with the Minister of International Trade. The head of the Indiana railway said to me, “There isn't a shipper in Indiana that doesn't know the Port of Prince Rupert.”
That goes to show how integrated Canada's transport system really is.
In full respect for the importance of trade, British Columbians and Canadians are passionate about the importance of marine safety and protecting the marine environment, which is exactly why the creation of a world-leading marine safety system is central to our government's $1.5 billion oceans protection plan. This will ensure that future generations of Canadians will continue to share and benefit from fisheries, tourism, and traditional indigenous and community livelihoods and knowledge, as well as global trade.
To develop this plan, the Government of Canada undertook extensive consultations with Canadians across the country on how best to improve marine safety and formalize an oil tanker moratorium. This included discussions with indigenous peoples, stakeholders from the marine industry, the oil and gas sector, environmental groups, and all levels of government. These perspectives informed the measures of the moratorium outlined in Bill C-48 today.
I am very proud of the work that many in my riding and throughout British Columbia did to get us here today.
The proposed oil tanker moratorium is just one of several crucial and complementary measures this government is taking to protect our coastlines and oceans. The oceans protection plan will build a world-leading marine safety system that increases responsible shipping and protects Canada's waters, and it includes new preventive and response measures.
We are also taking steps to preserve and restore marine ecosystems and habitats by using new tools and research. To support this work, we are building a stronger evidence base, supported by science and local knowledge. We are investing in oil spill cleanup research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are based on the best information possible.
We are strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities to benefit from local knowledge of the region and to build local emergency response capacity.
These efforts and actions are national in scope, but I would like to be permitted to focus on specific measures designed to protect British Columbia's northern coast.
I would like to remind my hon. colleagues that our government has instituted a concentrated campaign to inspect tugs and barges in the province to ensure that tugs and barges, including those working in community and industry re-supply, comply with all safety regulations.
Preventing accidents from occurring in the first place is our primary goal. This is the main idea behind the steps our government is taking to build a strong prevention regime that enhances marine safety.
For example, we will be providing mariners, indigenous groups, and coastal communities in British Columbia with improved marine traffic and navigation information. This includes designing new information-sharing systems and platforms so they have access to real-time information on marine shipping activities in local waters.
We want to provide maritime situational awareness of who is doing what, and where—which is easier said than done—in a user-friendly way to benefit the safety and protection of British Columbia's coastline.
A first-of-its-kind program will fund initiatives to test new ways to bring local marine traffic information to indigenous and local communities from existing open source information from ports, the Canadian Coast Guard, and other government systems. This will not only help to prevent accidents but will also engage indigenous peoples and local communities with a real, important, and vital role in ensuring responsible shipping.
The oceans protection plan is also making investments so that a proactive, timely, and effective response can be mounted when incidents occur. This would mean enhanced search and rescue capabilities in British Columbia, including four new lifeboat stations and improved communication capacity. The Canadian Coast Guard would be increasing its towing capacity by equipping its large vessels with towing kits. It would also lease two large vessels on the B.C. coast capable of towing large commercial ships that are in distress and pose a hazard to navigation and the marine environment. This would improve Canada's ability to effectively respond to incidents, save lives, and protect the environment.
Beyond protecting marine ecosystems, our government is committed to restoring them. We would establish coastal zone plans and identify restoration priorities that would engage indigenous communities as well as local groups. Furthermore, we are working to understand the threat marine transportation poses to marine mammals and we will examine how to diminish these effects—for instance, by understanding how to reduce the threat whales face from noise and potential collisions from commercial traffic along the B.C. coast. The government would also fund research on the impacts of increased shipping on marine ecosystems, which would better position us to protect these mammals.
Strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities is a key element of the oceans protection plan. With the plan, as well as the oil tanker moratorium, B.C. indigenous communities would know that there is the highest level of protection possible on their coasts and that they will have a real opportunity to be partners in the marine safety regime. This means taking training in search and rescue missions, environmental monitoring, and emergency spill response. It also means that our government would work with indigenous and coastal communities to create regional response plans for the west coast and pursue shared leadership opportunities in other areas. As one example, this might mean creating local traffic management areas to minimize safety risks and environmental impacts.
Ensuring that indigenous groups play a leading role in decision-making processes is also a major goal of the oceans protection plan. We have demonstrated this commitment with the new Pacific region place of refuge contingency plan, which was developed in collaboration with the Council of the Haida Nation and provincial and federal partners.
We believe that we are demonstrating that by working together, we can more effectively manage and protect our marine environment across Canada. By formalizing an oil tanker moratorium on the north coast of British Columbia, the government is delivering on our commitment to develop a world-leading marine safety system, one that will meet or surpass the marine safety practices of other countries. I am confident that by collaborating with the provinces, indigenous groups, environmental NGOs, and other interested stakeholders, we have found an approach that demonstrates that a healthy environment and a strong economy can go hand in hand.
On a more personal note, I would like to say that it is a testament to the people of British Columbia that we are at second reading for an oil tanker moratorium act, and we are very grateful for the leadership of the Minister of Transport, his parliamentary secretary, and his collaborators in cabinet.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's work in the past on some of the values that we share on west coast salmon and the ecosystem, and I appreciated her very specific comments about investing $1.5 billion over 10 years for the oceans protection plan, about $150 million a year. She elaborated on investing in a world-leading safety system and talked about some specific actions, such as tug and barge inspections.
However, my question, which I think she touched on, is about purchasing the two oil-spill response tugs. I am wondering if the member could elaborate on how much those tugs would cost and what it would leave remaining in the $150 million annual budget for oil-spill prevention and other elements she talked about. I would ask her to elaborate on the cost of the tugs and what would be left.
Mr. Speaker, the tugs alone are a gigantic step forward for our government, the protection of marine ecosystems, and the livelihoods of indigenous communities on the coast. For far too long, that aspect was neglected. It is important, as a representative of the west coast of Canada, to describe how treacherous the coast is, how isolated communities are, and the challenges we face when we try to blend both a strong defence of the environment and a healthy economy.
Another remarkable aspect of the $1.5-billion oceans protection plan is how well integrated it is. We took a lot of time to ensure that indigenous peoples, fisheries, justice, transport, Treasury Board, the environment, and beyond were all consulted so that we have brought all we can as a government to protect the safety, environment, and health of the people of British Columbia and its ecosystems.
Mr. Speaker, as we move forward with the sustainable development goals, we know that goal number 14 is about life under water. I wonder if the member could elaborate on Canada's leadership in this regard in terms of our ocean protection plan and in terms of this piece of legislation. How are we taking leadership, not just within our domestic market but globally?
Mr. Speaker, certainly we take our sustainable development goals obligations very seriously, and this provides an opportunity to demonstrate our integrated public policy approach.
Last week we were debating Bill C-55, which would update the Oceans Act, after 20 years, and would deliver on our government's commitment to marine protected areas. Canada has fallen quite far behind in that regard, but our government is committed to expanding that to include 10% of our coastlines. We are well under way, and that is, of course, well reflected in the fact that we would also bring a ban on oil tankers on British Columbia's northern coast.
Mr. Speaker, in reading this bill I looked under clause 9, entitled “Designated Persons”. I wonder if the member could provide clarity on what appears to be a bit of ambiguity in subclause 9(1), where it states:
The Minister may designate any person or member of a class of persons for the purposes of the administration and enforcement of this Act.
The bill then goes on to talk about a certificate of designation:
The Minister must provide every designated person with a certificate of their designation.
I wonder if the member could provide us with some clarity in terms of who those designated persons may be.
Mr. Speaker, my understanding of that clause is that it truly reflects the fact that if we are to do the best job we can to protect the environment and the safety of people on the coast, we are going to need a team. The minister, in understanding the situation on the coast, has been very hands on and on the ground. We are connecting what have previously been disconnected but natural partners to ensure the safety of British Columbia's coastline.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to express my support for this worthy legislation, one of many components of our oceans protection plan. Bill C-48, an act to establish an oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia's north coast, the latest in a suite of actions to protect British Columbia's Pacific coastline, would advance our transportation 2030 vision to safeguard Canada's waterways and three ocean coasts.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the health and well-being of our oceans are vital for our communities, our environment, our economy, and the well-being of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and it is critical that those vast stretches of coastline and marine environments are well protected to ensure that our oceans continue to support a rich variety of sea life. Our oceans also play an important role in Canada's economy, facilitating the movement of goods and people to other destinations and enabling the trade that our high standard of living depends upon.
We fully understand how important it is to improve marine safety and to protect the marine environment while fostering a climate that supports Canadian trade and economic objectives. That is why the creation of a world-leading marine safety system is a central plank in our government's $1.5-billion oceans protection plan. It will help ensure that future generations of Canadians continue to benefit from abundant fisheries, tourism, traditional indigenous and community livelihoods, and global trade.
To develop this plan, the Government of Canada undertook extensive consultations with Canadians all across the country on how to best improve marine safety and formalize an oil tanker moratorium. This included consultations with indigenous groups, stakeholders from the marine industry and the oil and gas sector, environmental groups, and other levels of government. Their perspectives informed the parameters of the moratorium outlined in Bill C-48.
The proposed oil tanker moratorium is just one of several crucial and complementary measures this government is taking to protect our coastlines and our oceans. The oceans protection plan will build a world-leading marine safety system that will increase responsible shipping and protect Canada's waters, including new preventive and response measures.
We are also taking steps to preserve and restore marine ecosystems and habitats using new tools and research. To support this work, we are building a stronger evidence base, supported by science and local knowledge. We are investing in oil spill cleanup research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are evidence-based. We are strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities to benefit from local knowledge of the region and to build local emergency response capacity.
These efforts and actions are national in scope, so let me focus on a few specific measures designed to protect British Columbia's northern coast.
I remind my hon. colleagues that our government has instituted a concentrated campaign to inspect tugs and barges in the province. The aim of the campaign is to ensure that tugs and barges, including those engaged in community and industry re-supply, comply with all safety regulations.
Preventing accidents from occurring in the first place really is our primary goal, and this is the rationale behind the concrete steps being taken by our government to build a strong prevention regime that enhances marine safety. For example, we will be providing mariners, indigenous groups, and coastal communities in British Columbia with improved marine traffic and navigation information. This will include designing new information-sharing systems and platforms so that they have access to real-time information on marine shipping activities in local waters. We want to provide maritime situational awareness—who is doing what and where—in a user-friendly way that meets their needs.
A new program will fund initiatives to test new ways to bring local marine traffic information to indigenous and local communities from existing open-source information from ports, the Canadian Coast Guard, and other government systems. This will not only prevent accidents but also give indigenous groups and local communities a meaningful role in responsible shipping.
The oceans protection plan is also making investments so that a quick and adequate response can be mounted when incidents occur. This will mean enhanced search and rescue capabilities in British Columbia, including four new lifeboat stations, and improved communication capacity.
The Canadian Coast Guard will be increasing its towing capacity by equipping its large vessels with towing kits. It also will lease two large vessels on the B.C. coast capable of towing large commercial ships that are in distress and pose a hazard to navigation and to the marine environment. This will improve Canada's ability to effectively respond to incidents, which will ultimately save lives and protect the environment.
Beyond protecting marine ecosystems, our government is committed to restoring them. We will establish coastal zone plans and identify restoration priorities that will engage indigenous communities as well as local groups and communities.
Furthermore, we are working to understand the threat of marine transportation to marine mammals and will examine how to diminish these effects, such as understanding how to reduce the threat whales face from noise and potential collisions with commercial traffic along the B.C. coast. The government will also fund research on the impact of increased shipping on marine ecosystems, which will better position us to protect these mammals.
Strengthening partnerships with indigenous and coastal communities is a key element of the oceans protection plan. With the plan, as well as the oil tanker moratorium, B.C. indigenous communities will have peace of mind that there is the highest level of protection possible on their coast, and they will have a real opportunity to be partners in the marine safety regime. This means being offered training in search and rescue missions, environmental monitoring, and emergency spill response. It also means that our government will work with indigenous and coastal communities to create regional response plans for the west coast and to pursue shared leadership opportunities in other areas. As one example, this might mean creating local traffic management areas to minimize safety risks and environmental impacts.
Ensuring that indigenous groups play a leading role in decision-making processes is a major goal of the oceans protection plan. We have demonstrated this commitment with the new Pacific region places-of-refuge contingency plan, which was developed in collaboration with the Council of the Haida Nation and other provincial and federal partners. We are proving that working together, we can more effectively manage and protect our marine environment across Canada.
By formalizing an oil tanker moratorium on the north coast of British Columbia, the government would be delivering on the commitment to develop a world-leading marine safety system, one that would meet or surpass the marine safety practices of other nations.
By collaborating with the provinces, indigenous groups, environmental NGOs, and other interested stakeholders, I am confident that we have found an approach that demonstrates that a clean environment and a strong economy can go hand in hand. In the same way, members on this side of the House want to work with all our parliamentary colleagues to enhance marine safety and protect the environment to promote responsible and sustainable economic growth.
I hope I can count on all-party support for Bill C-48, which would help protect the northern British Columbia coastline for the benefit of generations to come.
Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could specifically explain what the difference is between a vessel carrying 12,499 metric tonnes of crude oil, which would be allowed under this ban, and a vessel carrying 12,500 metric tonnes of crude oil. Also, how does she reconcile that American and international tankers of the same size that would be excluded under the ban would not be covered? The ban actually would not deal with that issue at all, and they could still travel through the area, despite the voluntary exemption, which she did not address.
Mr. Speaker, we came up with these numbers through consultation. We wanted the coastal communities to be able to have their industry and grow and flourish. However, we also wanted to put into place controls that would limit their vulnerability. Therefore, when trying to come up with a piece of legislation, it is critical that we consult and end up with an overlapping, complementary system. That is exactly what we have achieved here.
Mr. Speaker, in my riding of North Island—Powell River, we experienced a very hard closure of the Comox MCTS. However, a lot of what we heard in the speech was regarding the importance of having a strong Coast Guard. At this point, we have gone from five communications centres for the Coast Guard down to just two. When the member talks about having a world-leading marine safety strategy, how does closing one of the communications centres, and with it a lack of understanding of our riding and that whole region in terms of what is happening in the waters, help with that?
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her concern for the safety of the people living in and around those waterways. Technology is changing. There are technological advancements that are changing the way we are going to do search and rescue on Canada's coast. It comes back to partnerships. It is about sharing information that would not have been shared in the past. It is about inviting everyone in so they can be part of the process. That key, that sense of teamwork and inclusion when it comes to search and rescue missions, is what will create better opportunities for us.
Mr. Speaker, Canadian oil is extracted and transported under some of the safest and most environmentally strict regulations in the world. Therefore, preventing our Canadian oil from reaching customers in other countries only serves to proliferate the use of oil products extracted and transported in less environmentally friendly ways. Can the member explain this strange contradiction in that she views the proliferation of safe, clean Canadian oil as bad but the proliferation of oil from other countries with less stringent regulations as good?
Mr. Speaker, as always it comes down to balance. It comes down to protecting a very vulnerable piece of our ocean ecostructure here in Canada. It comes down to protecting our environment and at the same time growing the economy. I think we have found that balance by reaching out to coastal communities to ask what they need to continue to thrive, and drawing up these regulations while keeping that in mind. This was done in a consultative and collaborative way to come up with a solution that best balances the environment and our economy.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her extraordinary speech.
I would like to ask her to elaborate on the importance of protecting marine life and the role that it can play in a green and clean environment. How is it important for Canadians, Canada, and the entire world? How can it help grow our economy and create jobs for Canadians?
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague's question is absolutely key to this entire discussion. This is one area where Canada can play a leading role around the world and set an example of how we can have economic health and a strong environment. If we look at Canada's wonderful west coast, the power of the ecotourism sector there and its majesty, we can see that finding this balance between the two was really important.
Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Lakeland not only for the tremendous job she is doing as a shadow minister for natural resources and taking the lead on this file, but also for the wealth of experience she brings to it having worked in the industry in the province of Alberta.
I rise today in response to Bill C-48, the oil tanker moratorium act, a bill that will have devastating effects on our oil sands and the many jobs created as a result of that development. Once again the Liberals are playing games with Canadian jobs. Ostensibly, this act was introduced as a transportation bill. However, in practice, I believe Bill C-48 is a jobs bill or rather a job-killing bill singling out one specific sector of our economy, the oil sector, and punishing that sector irrationally. Since the Liberals formed government, they have made no attempt to hide their disdain for Canada's oil producers and the men and women who work in that field. This bill is another example of that.
Let us be clear and cut through the rhetoric. Bill C-48 is not really about banning tanker traffic; it is about banning development in the oil sands and the pipelines needed to get the product to market. Right now there is no oil flowing to the northern British Columbia coast. That means that there is no oil for tankers to load in the northern British Columbia coast identified in Bill C-48.
There could have been a northern gateway pipeline project. It was meant to run from Alberta to the northern coast of British Columbia, where our oil would have been loaded onto tankers and exported around the world. The development of a safe and efficient means of transporting our oil to the coast would have led to an economic boom in northern British Columbia, as it has in Vancouver and along the east coast. In those waters, tankers have operated safely for decades. The export of our oil would have strengthened Canada's economy by diversifying our market in the Asia-Pacific region. It would have ensured future economic stability, and it was cancelled because of politics.
Under the previous Conservative government, and through the National Energy Board, Canada had an impartial, evidence-based system that based its decisions on the viability of a project via a rigorous set of tests. These tests reviewed everything from the safety of the project to its environmental footprint to its economic impact and to its effect on our first nation communities.
The northern gateway project passed the first phase in that assessment before it was ended due to a short-sighted election promise by the Prime Minister. His action was not based on any science, but entirely on partisanship. Under the regime of Bill C-48, such a project will now be impossible.
Despite what the Liberals may say, this bill is not really about the environment. To be clear, the bill does not actually do what the Liberals claim it does. Bill C-48 does not ban tanker traffic along our coast, but merely the loading and unloading of oil tankers at our northern B.C. ports, which is currently not happening. Tankers will still operate 100 kilometres from shore, as they always have. The bill will do nothing to reduce the risk of oil spills. Quite frankly, it is 20 pages of empty symbolism on the environment, but with a real impact on the future of our Canadian economy.
In contrast to this empty symbolism, the previous Conservative government strengthened Canada's environmental regime by creating a world-class tanker safety system, including modernizing our navigation system, building marine safety capacity in first nation communities, and ensuring that any polluters pay for the cleanup and environmental impact of spills and damages.
The Conservatives pursued environmental protections based on the facts. Using those facts, we enacted real change that would protect our natural wonders, both now and tomorrow, and we achieved all of that without destroying future prosperity.
It would seem that the Prime Minister is not actually serious about reducing the impact of pollution on our planet. If he were serious about reducing pollution, he would do everything in his power to ensure that whenever possible, Canadian oil replaces oil from countries that have less stringent environmental protection regimes.
The fact is Canadian producers are subject to far more oversight and regulation. Environmental standards in Canada are much higher than the majority of other oil-producing nations'. Our oil production sites are cleaner. Our air is cleaner. This is no random accident. It is a consequence of our strong standards. Canada is a world leader on clean oil production and has been for decades.
Instead of basing their decision on these facts, the Liberals prioritize their anti-oil bias over science, over evidence and, most importantly, over people. That is what the bill is about. It is actually about people.
For no discernible reason, with no due diligence, the Liberals are damaging Canada's economic security. The hundreds of thousands of middle-class Canadians who work or hope to work in the oil and gas sector will see this news as another blow to their future prosperity.
This is not only about Canadians who work directly in this sector, nor is it simply an issue in western Canada. The implications of this legislation along with the partisan decision to end northern gateway will not only be felt in western Canada. It will be felt by Canadians from coast to coast to coast. At least 670,000 Canadians are employed directly or indirectly by our oil and gas sectors. Over 80,000 of them call Ontario home. Over 25,000 are Québecois. This sector is Canada's largest private industry investor.
The Liberals unilateral symbolic decision to ban tanker traffic on British Columbia's northern coast will be felt all the way to the St. Lawrence River and beyond. These businesses employ middle-class Canadians who have become constant targets of the Liberal government. They are already preparing to deal with the unfair tax hikes proposed by the Prime Minister, which will damage our competitiveness worldwide. They will be further disheartened to see yet another opportunity ripped from their grasp by the Liberal government.
If I did not know better, I might think the Liberal government is intentionally sabotaging Canadian jobs.
Perhaps the hardest hit in all of this are our first nations. With the tanker ban, and before that the cancellation of northern gateway, first nations in British Columbia and Alberta are losing out on an estimated $2 billion equity windfall. Thirty-one first nations equity partners supported northern gateway, holding a 30% stake in the project. Those first nations knew that the pipeline would bring jobs to their communities and they hoped that prosperity would follow. Without any consultation, the Prime Minister took that opportunity from them. The Prime Minister's symbolic ban on tanker traffic and cancellation of northern gateway will have real effects on real people.
Millions of dollars that could have gone to first nation communities and the families they represent will now never reach them. The affected communities could have used this money for schools, housing, infrastructure, job creation, or any of a hundred other purposes--but no, that will not happen, all because the Prime Minister does not like the oil sands. Perhaps if some of the money from northern gateway went to building sheds to store canoes, the Prime Minister would have supported it.
I must again draw members' attention to what this legislation would really do, or rather what it would not do. Nowhere does this legislation actually ban tankers from operating off of our west coast. Nowhere does it add anything to our already stringent environmental standards. Nowhere does it reduce risks.
Originally I thought I was only going to have 10 minutes to speak to the bill, but apparently it is up to Conservative members to carry the day on so many of the pieces of legislation the government has been introducing. Members of the Liberal Party, the NDP, the Green Party, and even the Bloc may have an opportunity to pose many questions of those of us who are participating in this debate.
While I do not have a crystal ball, I have a premonition that their questions to me will revolve around four topics. I think the first topic will be on the environment.
As I have said, Bill C-48 would do nothing for the preservation of British Columbia's environment. Ships, including U.S. tankers travelling from Alaska to Washington State, would continue to be able to travel up and down the coast just outside the 100-kilometre limit I mentioned. As I said, this is a pipeline moratorium under a different name.
Further, Canadian oil is extracted and transported under some of the safest and most environmentally strict regulations in the world. Preventing our Canadian oil resources from reaching customers in other countries only serves to proliferate the use of all products extracted and transported in a less safe and environmentally-friendly way. The strange contradiction we see with the Liberals, NDPs, Greens, and Bloc's views on Canadian oil is that their opposition to it defeats their supposed greater goal of protecting the world's environment.
The second question I anticipate from Liberal members in this place will be around the fact that this promise was contained in the Liberals' 2015 election platform.
The Liberals' 2015 election platform is basically a list of broken promises. The Liberal platform was not worth the paper on which it was printed. We have seen considerable willingness, if not eagerness, on the part of the Liberal government to break promises made in its election platform.
I will highlight a few of the broken promises from the Liberals' election platform.
First, there was a commitment to run only modest deficits of $10 billion. Well, we now know that promise was a complete joke. The Liberal government blew past that proposed limit faster than the Road Runner.
Then we had the disingenuous and overreaching promise that 2015 would be the last election under first-past-the-post system. It is amazing when we think about the absolute arrogance that was embedded in that promise.
The third topic I anticipate members of the other parties will pose to me will be around the opinions of first nations. I know I touched upon this, but it bears repeating.
There is considerable support among first nations on B.C.'s coast for energy development opportunities. In fact, it is not just on B.C.'s coast. According to the Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, 500 of the 630 first nations across Canada are open to pipeline and petroleum development on their land.
As I mentioned, 31 first nations were equity partners, holding a 30% financial position in the northern gateway pipeline project. For the Liberals to move forward with this tanker moratorium without properly consulting coastal first nations is absolutely hypocritical. We know they did not consult because we know this was in the minister's mandate letter. He was directed to put this moratorium in place without any consultation. The Liberals only consult when it is to get the result they seek. They have no interest in dissenting or contrary views.
Finally, we have the Liberal government's much aligned proposals on open and transparent government. I could go on, but I do not want to use the rest of my time embarrassing the government with these facts.
To conclude on this point, to say their platform commitments are binding would be the height of hypocrisy from the Liberals.
The final subject on which I anticipate members of the other parties to pose questions to me on probably will revolve around pipelines or pipeline approvals. As I said earlier, this is not a tanker moratorium bill; this is a pipeline moratorium bill. The Prime Minister and the Government of Canada must champion pipeline development or pipeline projects will never be completed.
Approving one pipeline but not the other is only a partial solution to improving market access for western Canada's energy producers. Additionally, pipelines are the safest means of transporting oil that is already being produced and moved, yet is appears the Liberals and NDP would rather it be moved in a less safe manner.
The bill would only serve to undercut the future prosperity of Canadians in Quebec, British Columbia, first nation communities, and all throughout our country. I am left with only one question. Why does the Prime Minister care more about empty symbolism than about the prosperity of Canada's middle class?
Mr. Speaker, I was just reading in The Globe and Mail some excellent news out of British Columbia, which is the economy there is going to grow by about 3% this year, exceeding expectations and second only to the province of Alberta. It is interesting. The hon. member is saying that we have disdain for the oil industry, but because of this government's policy, thousands of jobs are being created in the oil industry.
If the hon. member is going to criticize us for the economic problems in Alberta, will she give us some credit when things are going really good, like they are right now?
Mr. Speaker, it is passing strange the member would ask that question when in fact the Minister of Natural Resources stood in the House just a few hours earlier and told us that it was not the government's job to build pipelines. Therefore, why do the Liberals want to take credit for the jobs that building a pipeline creates?
Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my hon. colleague from Saskatchewan, but I am someone who lives in coastal British Columbia and I represents people there. I can tell the member what it looks like on the ground.
We have seen three marine communications and traffic services centres close. We are hearing from both the Liberals and the Conservatives about how great our marine protection is. The Conservatives talk about the great work they were doing before, and the Liberals talk about the great work they are doing now. Both of them talk about the marine training they provided for first nations and indigenous people. They both talk about how they are protecting the ocean. If they actually came to our communities and listened to mariners, they would find out that there is not the training and equipment that was promised to indigenous people, who are usually responding to incidents that happen in coastal B.C. Also, closing those centres was closing local knowledge. The coastline of B.C. is too big to have two marine communications and traffic services centres close.
We do not have a world-class response. When the Nathan E. Stewart sank, within the first 48 hours of that boat sinking the spill response was inadequate, insufficient, and ineffective. That included slow response time and the equipment was not there. They lacked safety gear and there was even confusion on who was in charge. Therefore, this notion of a world-class ocean response program is far from being in place, and everybody in coastal British Columbia knows it.
There are 100,000 jobs at risk in our marine economy. We need people to actually come to visit us to see it first-hand. We cannot even deal with a marine debris spill. The government has no response. It has put no money and no energy or effort to clean up the largest marine debris spill on the west coast of Vancouver Island in decades. Therefore, we know the government cannot deal with marine debris, and it cannot deal with an oil spill.
Given that the Nathan E. Stewart disaster happened, that we totally did not deal with it properly, and that in fact it impacted the Heiltsuk Nation on its food security, income, culture, and local environment, does the Conservative Party now finally understand the danger a supertanker spill poses to the north coast and to coastal communities?
Mr. Speaker, I understand the passion the member brings to this, coming from British Columbia, representing constituents, and wanting to ensure their voices are heard. This is why we did what we did when we were in government. We created a world-class tanker safety system.
However, more to the member's point, I appreciate all that he has outlined to us. It just further proves my point that the bill before us would do absolutely nothing to reduce the risk of oil spills. It is actually empty symbolism on the environment. Therefore, I would respectfully ask the member to pose those same questions to the members across the way.
moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to rise and speak to Bill S-226 at third reading.
I have to first thank Senator Raynell Andreychuk, who is the author of this bill in the Senate. She has been advocating for this legislation, along with a number of us, for a number of years. It goes back to Irwin Cotler, a former colleague of ours here in Parliament, who brought it forward in 2015 calling on the Government of Canada to institute Sergei Magnitsky-style legislation, similar to legislation that has been adopted around the world. Therefore, we are continuing in that vein. I made some amendments to the bill that was originally proposed, and Senator Andreychuk went even further to make sure that this bill first and foremost is focused on human rights violators as well as corrupt foreign officials who are taking advantage of their citizens and abusing their positions of power. We have to make sure that those individuals do not use Canada as a safe haven.
One of the main pushes, of course, behind this legislation is Bill Browder, who was put on red notice and wrote a book about his experience of dealing in Russia and whose lawyer was Sergei Magnitsky. Sergei Magnitsky had uncovered the biggest tax fraud in Russian history, and for that he was falsely arrested and accused, then was imprisoned, tortured, and beaten to death in a Russian prison outside of Moscow.
I also want to thank Marcus Kolga. Marcus has been an unwavering advocate for Sergei Magnitsky and this type of legislation in Canada. He has worked across party lines to ensure that we get as close to possible to unanimous consent in support of this bill.
I want to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs for her support for Bill S-226 and for working with me and Senator Andreychuk and all parliamentarians to find a way that the government could also support this bill. The report stage amendments that we just concurred in really do strengthen the bill in a lot of ways and clarify the language so there is consistency between Bill S-226 and the Special Economic Measures Act.
I think all of us would be remiss if we did not thank the huge diaspora in Canada: the Ukrainian diaspora, the pro-democracy Russians in Canada, the Vietnamese community, the Iranian community, and the Falun Gong and Chinese community here. They believe that having this legislation in Canada, the Sergei Magnitsky law, would enable the Government of Canada to hold those human rights abusers in their countries to account and ensure that they do not hide their money or bring their families and protect them here in Canada, and that we do not allow Canada to be used as a safe haven. I thank all of them for their support, petitions, and advocacy and holding seminars and spreading the world about how important Bill S-226 is.
As I said, this legislation is about anti-corruption. It is about protecting human rights and protecting Canadian values. It is really not just about sanctions and travel bans; it is about ensuring that Canada cannot be used as a safe haven by those criminals. By all accounts, as corrupt government officials and human rights abusers, these individuals are criminals. Each and every one of them should be held to account in The Hague at the International Criminal Court. Until that happens and until the proper investigations take place, we have to ensure that Canada is doing its part in lock step with the rest of the international community to ensure that we are not used to educate these criminals' children, to hide their families and their extra-marital affairs here in Canada, to buy homes and properties over here, or to make use of our very strong banking system.
I know some of the research that has been done shows that we have already been able to uncover oligarchs from Russia who have hidden money here in Canada and essentially used a shell game to clean their money before taking it back to Russia. Russian oligarchs have abused their authority to enrich themselves, to commit tax fraud, and other devious schemes to acquire money from the citizens of Russia, or elsewhere for that matter.
We know they would love to put their money in trusted banks like we have here in Canada, rather than being in Russian banks that are often sanctioned because of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, Georgia, and elsewhere, due to their support for Vladimir Putin's expansionist adventurism.
As I said earlier, there are other countries that have already passed Magnitsky-style legislation. The United States did it in 2012. Last year, the United States made sure that the Sergei Magnitsky law became a global Magnitsky law. It was not just about Russia, but other countries that are human rights abusers, with the people getting rich by being human rights abusers, which is atrocious.
We also know that the European Parliament passed it in 2013, Estonia in 2016, the United Kingdom passed it earlier this year, and Canada needs to get this done so that it falls in line. All three main parties, as I have said in the House before, all supported Magnitsky-style legislation in the 2015 campaign. This is about the three main parties all coming together, supporting this legislation, and bringing it into reality.
People are probably asking why we need this. Are we not already sanctioning officials, Russian oligarchs and Ukrainian oligarchs, responsible for the violence in Donbass and the illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea? The current government and the previous Conservative government have already sanctioned what I think are over 250 individuals and entities, and travel bans have been put in place. However, that only applies to the situation in Donbass and Crimea. It does not speak to the broader context of all of the different abuses taking place in Russia, or any other country, for that matter. Right now the way that the Special Economic Measures Act works is that other international organizations have to direct Canada and member states to sanction because of a certain conflict or issue, saying that we are going to put in place travel bans and economic sanctions.
Bill S-226 would put another tool in the tool box for the Government of Canada, so that we can project our Canadian values and ensure that Canada is not being used as a safe haven by corrupt foreign officials and human rights abusers. This would enable Canada to go after other countries and entities that are human rights abusers. It is not just about Russian aggression and the war in Ukraine. It is not just about Crimea's illegal annexation. This is also about the torture of political prisoners in places like Iran, the human rights abuses that we have seen in Vietnam, and the current genocide that is taking place in Myanmar with the Rohingyas.
This would give the authority to the Government of Canada to act unilaterally in the interests of Canada to stop these types of human rights abuses, send the signal that corrupt officials will not get away with it, that Canada is taking notice, and that Canada and its partners will ensure that we shut down their ability to launder their money, hide their families, and enrich themselves by benefiting from Canada's strong financial institutions and assets, whether it is real estate, businesses, or investments. This is a great piece of legislation.
I talked about the changes that were brought forward by the government with a number of amendments, a lot of which dealt with the language, to ensure that the lines between the Special Economic Measures Act and Bill S-226 are reliable, appropriate, and evident. We want to make sure that there is also fairness. I accept the government's amendments that would enable individuals on the list who are sanctioned with travel bans to have the ability to say they have been confused with someone else and have a right to a just process to appeal it. That was not available before in the way that the legislation was drafted, so Senator Andreychuk and I accepted that amendment. It is also about making sure that there is a way to determine who is a foreign official, a public office holder, and other individuals, and that it is consistent in all torts in legislation. We want to make sure there is not just an open-ended list of indicators, but hard evidence of acts of significant corruption.
It still gives power to the Governor in Council to make the determination of who goes on the list, what sources of information are used, how we compel different agencies, financial institutions, and others to provide information, and also making sure that it is valid. The government proposed a lot of major changes that cleaned up the bill and provided more strength and more tools and mechanisms, which we support.
We talked about some of the examples of where we are seeing human rights abuses outside of Russia. I already mentioned what is happening in Myanmar, with the genocide being committed against the Rohingyas. There are individuals who are responsible for that. We should be going after the current military leadership in Myanmar: Sen. General Min Aung Hlaing; Lt.-Gen. Sein Win, who is the minister of defence; Vice Senior General Soe Winn. These are individuals who are carrying out genocide, ethnic cleansing, and they need to be held to account. Canada can act unilaterally and do that.
In Venezuela, with President Maduro and everything that is happening, they are clamping down on human rights and there is no freedom of the press. We are talking about a recession and skyrocketing costs and inflation impacting everything from food to medicine to medical supplies. He is capturing his political dissidents and imprisoning and torturing them. The Venezuela regime needs to be sanctioned. This is all about making sure that all the political leaders, military leaders, and police agencies are being held to account. The United Nations Human Rights Council says that just since April, 5,000 people have been detained, and 1,000 of them are still in custody. Bill S-226 would be able to put proper economic sanctions in place, as well as travel bans, to send a message to Maduro and his regime that this is not warranted.
In Iran, President Rouhani continues to not just imprison his political dissidents but to executive them. Under Rouhani, who everyone thinks has this charm offensive, political executions have increased by 55% versus under Ahmadinejad. This individual cannot be trusted, and the Iranian regime must be held to account. He is imprisoning not just political prisoners, but ethnic and religious minorities. He continues to push out their theocracy and impugn thousands of people all the time.
We cannot forget that under Ayatollah Khomeini back in 1988, 30,000 political prisoners were killed in one summer. Those who orchestrated and participated in that, who are responsible, still serve today in the current regime. They have never been sanctioned. We could do that now with Bill S-226.
We cannot forget about what is still happening in Ukraine, in Russia, and in Chechnya. We see the human rights violations. There were 200 men who were rounded up and put into detention centres, based upon their sexual orientation. Those individuals who belong to the LGBTQ community had their rights violated, and at least three of them were killed. Those Chechen leaders who are responsible for it, especially Ramzan Kadyrov, have to be held to account. These individuals are no different than any of the other ones we want to sanction.
I will leave my final comments to the end of the debate today, but I do want to thank all members of Parliament for their support. I am looking forward to seeing this go back to the Senate as quickly as possible.
Mr. Speaker, I know the member has been following this issue for a number of years, whether it is what happens in Ukraine—something that gets a great deal of discussion in the House—or having a wonderful presentation at the Manitoba legislature with regard to what is happening to the Rohingya. It is important to recognize that Canada plays a very important international role, and I feel that wherever we can do something, we should try to move forward in advocating for human rights. We are a party of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Manitoba is the home province of the Canadian Human Rights Museum, so would the member recognize that the Canada does have a strong leadership role and that we should have unanimous support from the House to have influence by bringing solid proposals forward so that Canada can continue to demonstrate that badly needed international leadership on important issues such as this one?
Mr. Speaker, this summer we also celebrated bringing more Yazidis home into the community, another ethnic group and religious minority that was persecuted by ISIS and trapped on Mount Sinjar, many crucified on a cross and many burnt alive. We see these horrific atrocities being committed. We are witnessing it now with the Rohingya. Canada always talks the talk, but we do not always walk that talk. This bill gives us the ability to do it.
Canada has always been looked up to as a country that stands up for human rights and tries to stand in the way of corrupt foreign officials, but too often we get caught in this issue of appeasement. We saw that under the previous minister of foreign affairs, who tried to appease Vladimir Putin. We cannot do that, and that it is why it is important that the Minister of Foreign Affairs today is supporting this legislation and brought forward great amendments to it. All members of the House should be able to support the bill to ensure that Canada has the tools to act unilaterally against corrupt foreign officials who are committing these human rights abuses.
Mr. Speaker, I thank and appreciate the member for spearheading the bill and I welcome the support of all the parties in the House. However, it is one thing to enact the law and it is another thing to use the law.
It will be important for Canadians who are watching to recognize that we do have pretty well all-party support to proceed with the bill, which is long overdue, but we also need to be watchdogging the government so it actually delivers on it. In the last Parliament, our party was trying to get the Conservative government to bring stricter sanctions against Vladimir Yakunin and Igor Sechin. Now this government is moving forward somewhat, but not completely.
Would the member agree that we need to move forward and strengthen the law and the capacity of government to act, but we also need the political will to act?
Mr. Speaker, I agree that we want to be able to add names to that list. One of the things the legislation would do is provide some parliamentary oversight, since the foreign affairs committees of the House and of the Senate have the power to request to the Governor in Council that names be added. It would also provide those individuals, if they feel they should not have been added to that list, with an appeal process through the changes and amendments that the government has made to the legislation.
There should be no reason not to add people to the list, since there is a fair balance and right of recourse given to those who have their names added. I appreciate that comment. I know that the legislation will do just that, and the parliamentary oversight provides the political will to get it done.
First, I would like to pay tribute to Sergei Magnitsky, who lost his life in a brave campaign to expose massive corruption at the highest levels in Russia. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Magnitsky's death have made it abundantly clear that state corruption and human rights violations go hand in glove. To protect their ill-received wealth, kleptocratic regimes dismantle the rule of law and then the institutions of democracy. These regimes steal the people's wealth, then their rights, and in the end their people's futures.
Like Sergei Magnitsky, countless brave individuals across the globe have suffered violations of their fundamental human rights for speaking out. Like Mr. Magnitsky, many have been victimized by the very institutions and individuals entrusted with protecting them. Like Mr. Magnitsky, many have not seen the perpetrators brought to justice, and instead have found themselves incarcerated, and tortured on behalf of criminals by prosecutors and judges in show trials, not to uphold justice but to uphold the power of the corrupt. Many are eliminated, or murdered, as was Mr. Magnitsky, to send a message to those foolhardy enough to take a stand on behalf of truth and justice.
Human rights are integral to Canada's international engagements. We stand up for these inalienable rights and we do not hesitate to speak out against human rights violators and abusers, wherever they reside. Speaking out is important. However, words are not enough. That is why Canada needs to, and intends to, have a wide range of tools at its disposal to protect and promote human rights. We will assess the circumstances and then choose the tools that have the best chance of getting the job done for the people directly affected and for the cause of advancing human rights globally.
At the end of the 20th century, with the fall of the Iron Curtain, there were those who celebrated the end of history. Democracy, human rights, and the international rule of law were victorious. Clearly, the celebrating began too soon. Today we find ourselves in a world where too often our shared western principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are being flouted or undermined, not just by small dictatorial countries but also by major powers.
We seem to be entering a world of disorder in which there are those who believe they can disregard the human rights of their citizens, flaunt international law treaties and agreements, or undermine the stability of their neighbours. It is not coincidental that the worst human rights violators, from Syria to North Korea, are also major threats to international peace and security. It is no surprise that a kleptocratic Russia, which killed Magnitsky, has militarily supported both of these states and militarily invaded and illegally annexed neighbouring Ukraine's territory. This has important and dangerous consequences for all of us.
Canada and our government has and must continue to engage constructively and deliberately. Let me briefly illustrate Canada's current human rights tool kit, and then speak to how Bill S-226 will make an important contribution to Canada's ability to lead on human rights and anti-corruption efforts worldwide.
First, no one should doubt that Canada and our government puts human rights on the agenda when we talk to other governments at all levels, from officials to heads of state. These dialogues are not finger-wagging exercises. Canada raises concerns, and does so forcefully when needed, privately and publicly. However, we also seize opportunities to learn from each other, and work together to effect positive change. As the Prime Minister said in his speech at last week's UN General Assembly, we pursue human rights as a partnership through “listening, learning, and working together” as a way to build a better world.
Second, Canada provides funding to multilateral, regional, and civil society organizations to protect and promote human rights. This includes the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which is the principal human rights-focused UN office.
Third, we support human rights defenders. Recognizing their critical role, Global Affairs Canada has recently released the document “Voices at risk: Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders”. This practical tool helps Canadian officials abroad to provide human rights defenders with the support they need to be more effective advocates and to do so safely.
Bill S-226 would add a new and important tool to this particular tool kit: the ability to take restrictive measures to sanction foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of human rights.
To be effective, sanctions must be used wisely and selectively. During its review of the Special Economic Measures Act and the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development heard from some of the world's top experts on sanctions and the effective use of sanctions as a tool. As was heard in that testimony, sanctions are a “policy instrument that can be useful in combination with other tools as part of an integrated political strategy.”
The role of sanctions as part of our engagement tool kit was evident recently when the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced sanctions against individuals in the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Doing so sent a clear message that anti-democratic behaviour, the physical abuse and murder of protesting citizens, and incarceration of opposition leaders would have consequences. These sanctions are targeted against people responsible for the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela and are part of the multifaceted effort that the Government of Canada has been undertaking to pressure for a return to democracy.
Bill S-226 would provide another tool to add to Canada's human rights tool box, by creating a new mechanism to respond to gross human rights violations, as well as significant corruption in a foreign state by imposing sanctions on individuals responsible for these violations.
The government proudly supports Bill S-226 and we are confident it will become a valuable addition to Canada's efforts to promote and protect human rights internationally.
I would like to say a few words about the importance of the non-partisan nature with which all members of the House have approached Bill S-226. On an issue as fundamental and as important to Canadians as the defence of human rights, it is uplifting to see we can all work together.
In particular, I would like to thank our Minister of Foreign Affairs who so proactively engaged on this file; Senator Andreychuk from the other place, for her passion in bringing this legislation forward; the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for all of his hard work; and the chair and members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for their diligence and perseverance and their unanimous report which provided invaluable guidance for the legislation.
I would also like to thank Marcus Kolga. His facilitation and advocacy has been invaluable.
Finally, I would like to thank Magnitsky legislation champion Bill Browder, who I came to know during this process. His relentless and principled efforts to honour the memory of his friend Sergei Magnitsky is enshrined in this legislation.
I would also like to thank Natasha and Nikita, the wife and son of Sergei Magnitsky. Their husband and father was by profession a skilled lawyer and principled auditor. However, within this lawyer and auditor resided a hero who would shine a light on the darkness of a corrupt regime. He sacrificed himself and his future for the future of the Russian people.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to support Bill S-226, also known as the Sergueï Magnitsky law and the justice for victims of corrupt foreign officials act.
The background to this important bill reads like a John le Carré novel. A Russian lawyer uncovered corruption, theft, and tax fraud by a group of senior bureaucrats and police. He reported it and suddenly found himself arrested and imprisoned. Days before he has to be released he mysteriously dies. A former business associate, who had asked the lawyer to look into the corruption, is himself expelled from Russia under threat of criminal charges. Years later, the U.S. agree on sanctions against the perpetrators of the corruption, only to find representatives of the Russian government, people with close ties to the corrupt officials, lobbying a U.S. presidential candidate to repeal the legislation. All of this happened. The lawyer was named Sergei Magnitsky, and after he reported high-level corruption in 2008, he was thrown into a brutal prison where, according to many well-respected sources, he was tortured for months until he died.
The Washington Post wrote:
Independent investigators found, “inhuman detention conditions, the isolation from his family, the lack of regular access to his lawyers and the intentional refusal to provide adequate medical assistance resulted in the deliberate infliction of severe pain and suffering, and ultimately his death.”
In 2012, the United States passed the Magnitsky Act, which named the individuals connected with the corruption and Magnitsky's death, and imposed financial and travel sanctions on them. The European Parliament has passed a similar act, and both the United Kingdom and Ireland are also looking at new laws.
In Canada, a resolution was adopted in 2010 that also imposed sanctions, much to the annoyance of Russian officials, one of whom, according to The Washington Post, called it, “none other than an attempt to pressure the investigators and interfere in the internal affairs of another state.”
I am proud to say that the NDP has long been at the forefront of calling for targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations. We have consistently called for Canada to coordinate our sanctions regime with the United States and the European Union, and to tighten sanctions to address major gaps. We believe that the individuals targeted by sanctions should also be inadmissible to Canada.
Unlike the U.S. and EU versions of the legislation, which targeted individuals connected with the case, the bill that is before us today is a type known as a “global Magnitsky law”, which is broader and meant to be used to impose sanctions on any individual or official from any country, not just Russia. This is an important step in fighting government corruption worldwide.
Last January, I had the opportunity to travel with the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Poland, and Latvia to cement our diplomatic friendships. On those visits we continually heard from officials and NGOs about their concerns with ongoing Russian aggression and the need for continuing and even increasing sanctions against Russia.
Paul Grod, the national president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, stated:
Through its invasion of Ukraine, illegal imprisonment of Ukrainian citizens, and widespread and systematic abuse of human rights, the Russian regime continues to demonstrate its contempt for international law and democratic values….The adoption by Canada of Magnitsky legislation, and the sanctioning of Russian officials responsible for human rights violations would be a strong signal that their actions are unacceptable to Canada. We call on Canada’s Members of Parliament to swiftly adopt Magnitsky legislation, and the Government of Canada to enhance sanctions on the Russian Federation, and ensure appropriate enforcement of the sanctions.
I could not agree more, and I am glad to see that our legislation can be applied not only in Russia but also to corrupt officials anywhere in the world. Corruption is a global problem and a global threat. Transparency International, which is dedicated to exposing and ending corruption worldwide, has stated that “the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world.”
From children denied an education, to elections decided by money not votes, public sector corruption comes in many forms. Bribes and backroom deals don't just steal resources from the most vulnerable—they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in leaders.
Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. It covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement, international co-operation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange. It includes bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector among its definitions.
The Sergei Magnitsky law we are discussing today dovetails perfectly with our international obligations under the UN convention. It does more than commemorate a man who fought a corrupt regime and died for his work. It provides real sanctions against corrupt individuals.
This bill includes the ability to freeze, seize, or sequester the Canadian assets and property of foreign nationals who have been deemed responsible or complicit in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.
Sergei Magnitsky began looking into the accounts of Russian officials at the request of an American-British financier, Bill Browder, who has taken on global corruption as a lifelong cause. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Browder last year at a lunch meeting here on Parliament Hill. He is now the head of the International Justice Campaign for Sergei Magnitsky. He wrote:
one of the questions I got at various different stages of my advocacy work in Ottawa about the Magnitsky act was, what does this have to do with Canada? The fact that we found millions of dollars from the blood money of the Magnitsky crime coming to Canada makes Canada directly involved in this thing. This is not a hypothetical or an abstract notion. This is a situation in which a man was murdered for money, and some of that money came to Canada.
I believe that everyone in this House believes that Canada should not have any role in assisting government corruption abroad. This bill will ensure that Canada can no longer be an unwitting accessory to such acts, and it sends a strong message to corrupt officials everywhere: we are watching, we are paying attention, and we will not help you get away with it.
Mr. Speaker, prior to meeting Bill Browder, the name Sergei Magnitsky was just another name in the news, one more Russian dissident to be tortured or killed by Russian authorities when he or she got too close to the truth about Russian corruption. There is a long and sad list of people tortured or killed for standing up for the basic freedoms that we in Canada take for granted.
Last year, Bill Browder asked to meet us. He told us the Sergei Magnitsky story, and he gave us his book. I made a point of reading it. Briefly, Sergei Magnitsky had the opportunity to leave Russia. He believed, however, that the law would protect him when he exposed a massive $280-million fraud scandal involving some of the most powerful in Russia. There is a fine line between naïveté and bravery, and some might argue that one has to know where the line is. He paid for that with is life. Very simply, Sergei Magnitsky died at the hands of Russian authorities, because he exposed financial malfeasance at the highest levels in the Russian government.
The second meeting on the subject was with Vladimir Kara-Murza and the daughter of Boris Nemtsov, an assassinated Russian activist. Kara-Murza walks with a cane. He was poisoned by Russian authorities for being a Russian voice for democracy. Little did I know at the time that we would meet again and that he would be poisoned a second time, and only through an incredible set of circumstances is he alive today. There is no doubt that his bravery, superb intelligence, and persuasive testimony before the foreign affairs committee brings us to where we are today.
I took some satisfaction in contributing to the foreign affairs committee report entitled “A Coherent and Effective Approach to Canada's Sanctions Regimes: Sergei Magnitsky and Beyond”. I was particularly pleased with recommendation 12, which says:
In honour of Sergei Magnitsky, the Government of Canada should amend the Special Economic Measures Act to expand the scope under which sanctions measures can be enacted, including in cases of gross human rights violations.
That leads me back to my first conversation with Bill Browder. What good will this sanctions regime do? The short answer is to hit them where it hurts. The unique part is that sanctions can now be tailored and applied to those who torture and abuse human rights for financial gain, whether or not they can be linked directly or indirectly to any government of the day. Now there will be no place in Canada for gross abusers of human rights: no condos, no companies, no stocks, no banks, no access to bonds or investments, nothing. They can take their filthy blood money and keep it.
I would have thought that every right-thinking person would support the report of the foreign affairs committee, the minister's initiative, and the bill before us. Therefore, it was with some surprise that I received the following letter from the Russian Congress of Canada, dated June 15, signed by Igor Babalich, president. It would be interesting to know whether the Russian embassy saw this letter before it was sent.
I believe it would be instructive for members to see the letter, and I would be quite willing to table it. In the meanwhile, however, I will use my remaining few minutes to read from it. It is titled “Statement of the Russian Congress of Canada regarding the announced adoption of the so-called Magnitsky Act (Bill S-226)”. It states:
The Russian Congress of Canada calls upon the Canadian government to withdraw its support for the proposed legislation.... [as it] would set a dangerous precedent...further closing dialogue with Russia at [this] time....
...[The Foreign Affairs Minister] announced...that the Canadian government has agreed to endorse a Canadian version of the...Magnitsky Act.... [It] would punish Russian officials, allegedly involved in human rights violations and it would provide for expanding sanctions
That is true. It then goes on to criticize the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. I cannot imagine why. It gives three reasons that this bill should not be supported. The first is apparently because it mirrors the U.S. law:
...[it] will not serve Canada's national interests or demonstrate its leadership in the vital area of human rights protection. This copycat adoption of the U.S. legislation...under the pressure from the most overzealous representatives of the Ukrainian nationalist diaspora will set a dangerous precedent...and will further...[deteriorate] dialogue with Russia at [this] time
The second reason is “the Foreign Affairs Committee...heard only one side of the Magnitsky controversy...William Browder and a few long-time opponents of the Russian government who had little success in trying to get elected to a public office.” These members of the so-called Russian opposition in reality are fully marginal to the Russian political process and have very limited political support among the Russian population. Possibly they have limited success in Russian elections because they are either tortured or killed. Possibly if they stop being tortured, killed, or poisoned, they might have more success.
The third reason is that the bill is named after the Russian Sergei Magnitsky. “He was an accountant...but has often incorrectly been identified...as a lawyer.” For some reason, that is very important to the writer, that he has been incorrectly identified as a lawyer. It went on to say, “Magnitsky was arrested and put in a pre-trial detention facility. After 11 months in detention, he died in November 2009.” That is true.
“The official Russian investigation of Magnitsky's death did not find any evidence of maltreatment or torture.... The reports of his beating by prison officials, which were circulated in the West, have not been based on any empirical or documentary evidence.” Well, maybe that has something to with the fact that nobody can gain access to the evidence.
Then, in a really interesting statement, it says, “The Russian law has changed, so that no criminal investigation can now be opened against those facing their first criminal accusation of tax evasion and an accused would not be detained during the processing of their case by the authorities.” Somehow that is not as comforting as possibly the writer would hope, but I suppose it is an argument to say they are getting better.
His fourth argument is even more interesting. He says, “The death of Sergei Magnitsky was unfortunate indeed.” It certainly was. He then analogizes that in Canada, 43 prisoners died in 2014, that prisoners die in our facilities as well. As far as I know, none of them have died while being tortured.
He says, “we can not support [a bill that is ill-informed by individuals] with personal animosities against Russia that drag Canada into a campaign of wholesale demonization of Canada's partners and neighbours in the Arctic who also bear shared responsibility for the state of affairs of the region, and must see each other as strategic partners but not enemies.”
He urges that the government withdraw itself from its support of the Magnitsky legislation as it “will be detrimental to such a dialogue and counterproductive with regard to its announced purpose.” I do not quite know what Mr. Babalich hoped to accomplish by his letter to parliamentarians, but it seems to me that it is exactly the opposite of what he intended to accomplish.
I am very pleased to know that colleagues on both sides of the aisle from all three parties will unanimously support the bill.
Mr. Speaker, let me know when I am close to five minutes, because we have very little time left and I would like to give time to my colleague so he can make his closing remarks. I know the bill is very important to him.
I do not want to repeat what everyone else said. I too had the privilege of meeting Bill Browder and hearing the story of Sergei Magnitsky. It is important for us and those following the proceedings to keep in mind that this is about more than a couple of corrupt actors in Russia. There are reprehensible actions that occur around the globe, and the purpose of this legislation is to protect Canadians from receiving corrupt dollars and, frankly, to prevent Canadians from interacting with and having financial dealings with those who seriously violate human rights, are severely corrupt, and may resort to torture. It is important for us to recognize that we are addressing very clear and sordid examples with this legislation. I stand by that.
It was a very sad tale, and it is sad to say that there are many such tales around the world. It is long past time for us to have strong legislation in this country so that our government can move forward expeditiously when it wants to take action to prevent this kind of sordid investment coming here, and to send a message to officials around the world and to those who deal with officials around the world who may be involved in severe violations of human rights, torture, and corruption.
This legislation would also prevent laundered money coming here from around the world. This is something that we can do as one more step to stop this kind of action. It is our way of protecting people in other countries so that corrupt officials cannot get away with their sordid actions.
The purpose of this legislation is to enable us to act in a way that would prevent people from emigrating to this country or coming here to do business, as well as prevent them from investing the profits from their sordid activities. Both are extremely important. It is important that people recognize that we will be able to do twice as many things with this legislation.
In closing, as I mentioned to the hon. member who tabled this bill, it will be equally important that the government act on this legislation. It is one thing to enact a law; it is another to act. I am pleased to hear from the hon. member that there will be measures that would enable individuals to bring forward recommendations for further sanctions.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues from Etobicoke Centre, Scarborough—Guildwood, Kootenay—Columbia, and Edmonton Strathcona for their interventions tonight. It is important we demonstrate that there is unanimous consent on the bill, that we are speaking with one voice against gross human rights violators, as well those corrupt foreign officials who abuse their power and authority to enrich themselves and their families.
I also thank the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for the hard work it has done. That committee came out with the report on Sergei Magnitsky. It was an in-depth study that provided great recommendations to the Government of Canada and to Parliament in a transparent manner for all Canadians to see. I congratulate every member of the committee who worked on that report.
Although we are talking specifically about human rights violators from around the world, we cannot forget about those within Russia who are continuing to violate human rights every day. Just today, the opposition leader in Russia, Alexei Navalny, received, for the third time, another 20 days in jail because he was going to have a peaceful protest in St. Petersburg against the government, which also happened to be during Putin's birthday celebrations this weekend. The Russian government wanted to ensure he was not around to disturb the birthday celebrations for President Putin. At his arraignment this morning, Alexei Navalny said, with respect to Putin's Russia, “all autocratic regimes come to an end.” I guess all of us always consider that.
When we first started hearing about the corruption, about Sergei Magnitsky's death, and about the people who were out promoting it, Boris Nemtsov, the previous leader of the Russian opposition, came here in 2012. He described Sergueï Magnitsky's legislation as pro-Russian legislation. It was about standing up for the people of Russia. It was about standing up for human rights, for democracy, and the rule of law. That is what we are doing today. We are following through on Boris Nemtsov's best wishes that this would become reality. He was assassinated outside the Kremlin on February 27, 2015.
Many other thoughts were heard from Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is now the deputy leader of the People's Freedom Party and a coordinator of the Open Russia movement. Two assassination attempts have been made on his life, probably by the Russian regime. This highlights the difference between today's Russia versus the Soviet Union era. He said:
For all the similarities between the Soviet era and present-day Russia, there is one major difference. While members of the Soviet Politburo were silencing dissent and persecuting opponents, they did not store their money, educate their children or buy real estate in the West. Many of the current officials and Kremlin-connected oligarchs do.
It is for that very reason that Russia has been used as a catalyst for the Sergei Magnitsky law. It was the Russians who tortured Sergei Magnitsky. We all have paid tribute to him tonight. However, we cannot forget that they continue to abuse their positions of authority. The kleptocracy that surrounds Vladimir Putin, the oligarchs who support him, and that type of corruption and human rights abuse have infiltrated into regimes around the world. We are talking about Venezuela, Iran, Myanmar. We are talking about what is happening in Vietnam and what is happening against the Falun Gong in China. We need to take that role and stand up against those types of atrocities and those types of violations of human rights. We cannot allow them to use Canada as a safe haven.
I appreciate everyone's support for this. I look forward to getting this back to the Senate as quickly as possible.
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 yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Pursuant to Standing Order 98 the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, October 4, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.
Mr. Speaker, it is with healthy respect for parliamentary democracy in Canada that I rise on behalf of the women and men of CFB Petawawa located in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, which is in the heart of the upper Ottawa Valley.
I rise on behalf of the veterans and serving soldiers in Petawawa, and all the veterans and serving personnel across Canada.
Democracy in Canada is under attack by the Liberal Party. It is a sad day for democracy that it is even necessary to have today's debate, however, no debate in the House of Parliament is more important than the defence of democracy in parliamentary tradition. Not once did the Minister of National Defence try to answer my question when I asked him why he misrepresented his service record.
Today's adjournment debate is all about honour, and in this case, stolen valour. The Minister of National Defence refuses to respect Canadian democratic tradition. Parliamentary tradition demands his resignation.
The Minister of National Defence lost the confidence of the House when he admitted to embellishing his service record. The Minister of National Defence's admission of guilt has lost him the confidence of the people in the ministry of National Defence to whom he was appointed to serve: the men and women in uniform, members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Minister of National Defence had the opportunity this summer to earn back the trust of the soldiers. Nothing disgusts Afghanistan veterans more than the $10.5 million payoff to convicted terrorist Omar Khadr. Where was the Minister of National Defence hiding when the Prime Minister announced the multi-million-dollar payoff? His silence during and after the payoff once again demonstrates how little respect he has for our veterans who served in Afghanistan, yet he is quick to steal their valour when it is politically expedient to do so.
The minister betrayed his constituents the first time he misrepresented his record of service to get elected. He betrayed his party, his leader, the House, and his country. He went on to dishonour Canada a second time by repeating this misrepresentation on an international stage. I challenge the Prime Minister's unethical support for a member of his party who fooled voters in the 2015 election concerning his service record, and who continues to confuse Canadians by repeating his false claims when he thinks he can get away with doing so.
Having grossly inflated his role in one of the largest Canadian military operations in recent history, the Minister of National Defence should have resigned. After he failed to do the honourable thing and fall on his sword, the Prime Minister should have fired him. The Prime Minister, by refusing to fire the Minister of National Defence, has lost the confidence of NATO allies. Defence expenditures are now at their lowest level since end the of the Great War.
On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was the architect of Operation Medusa where we removed 1,500 Taliban fighters off the battlefield…and I was proudly on the main assault.
Much has been written about this effort to take credit for whatever minor role the minister may or may not have played. What is particularly outrageous for the soldiers actually doing the fighting was the claim by the—
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity that my colleague across the way has given me to reiterate that the Minister of National Defence is a proud Canadian with 26 years experience in the Canadian Army Reserve, during which time he served with honour and distinction in four overseas missions.
That distinguished service makes the Minister of National Defence a spokesperson of choice among our allies, whether in Washington, London, or in Europe. He is a worthy representative of Canada and our military and civilian personnel. The minister is proud to have served on an extraordinary team of Canadian, American, and Afghani soldiers who made Operation Medusa a success.
His commanding officer in Afghanistan, General Fraser, considered him to be one of the best intelligence officers he had ever worked with. Chris Vernon, a retired British Army colonel, said that Operation Medusa would not have happened without the Minister of National Defence's critical, major, and pivotal input because they would not have had the intelligence and the tribal picture to put the operation together.
As a former reservist, the minister understands the needs of soldiers and their families perfectly well. During his years of service in Canada or in deployment overseas, he was able to see first-hand how our soldiers are by far our greatest asset. When he took office nearly two years ago, he was well aware of the huge job ahead of him. Every day, he puts his field experience, his expertise, and his energy to work for our men and women in uniform and their families.
He has worked tirelessly to deliver on the long list of priorities that the Prime Minister set out in his mandate letter. The Minister of National Defence intends to ensure that our military personnel are well trained, highly qualified, and properly compensated for the work they do. He intends to ensure that our military personnel and their families have access to the services and support they need in times of trouble. He intends to ensure smooth transitions from civilian to military life and vice versa. He is working to increase recruitment into both the regular and reserve forces. He wants the Canadian Armed Forces to reflect our society. He is a champion for greater diversity, and he is making sure that each and every member of the Canadian Armed Forces is treated with dignity and respect no matter what.
He oversaw the initiation and development of a major consultation process, the largest in 20 years, which resulted in a new credible, realistic, and fully funded defence policy for our armed forces. We put our troops and their families at the heart of this policy by making sure they get the care, support, training, and resources they need to accomplish what we ask of them. The government's new defence policy presents a new vision and a new approach to defence. The government set out an ambitious but realistic plan to ensure that Canada can respond to current and future defence challenges.
Over the next 10 years, annual military spending will rise from $18.9 billion to $32.7 billion. The Minister of National Defence is deeply committed to our troops, and the new defence policy reflects that commitment.
Mr. Speaker, what was particularly outrageous to the soldiers who were doing the actual fighting was the claim by the Minister of National Defence to being on the main assault. Claiming to be on the main assault was an insult to every member of Charles Company, 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. Charles Company of 1 RCR is the most decorated, most bloodied company in the serving Canadian Forces. It has earned its reputation by being on the main assault. The decision by the Minister of National Defence, on more than one occasion, to mislead Canadians about something so important as the most significant battle fought by Canadians since the Korean War means that the minister, and by extension the Prime Minister for refusing to fire him, cannot be trusted to do what is right and honourable.
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence.
I see the minister as a role model. He is a reservist who served four tours of duty, three in Afghanistan and one in Bosnia, and was honoured for each one. In my eyes, the minister is a person we can all be very proud of.
His experience helped make the new defence policy a success. This policy has been very warmly welcomed, as I have learned from the troops and their families. The men and women of the armed forces and their families are at the core of the policy. It addresses training, equipment, and health and wellness, as well as the transition from military to civilian life.
We recognize the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their families.
Mr. Speaker, last week, the Union of BC Municipalities endorsed my abandoned vessel legislation at its convention of 1800 delegates. This vote, from the largest organization of local governments in British Columbia, highlights that coastal communities cannot wait any longer for solutions to fix abandoned vessels.
Oil spills and marine debris from thousands of abandoned vessels pollute our waterways and put local jobs in tourism and fishing at risk. Across Canada, coastal communities are sounding the alarm but, after years of neglect, the Liberal government will not commit the resources needed to deal with the backlog of abandoned boats. Its announcements this year for the removal of abandoned vessels are $300,000 to cover the whole country, plus another $260,000 to deal with DFO-owned small craft harbour abandoned vessels. That is a drop in the bucket for the thousands of boats that need removing.
So far, over 50 coastal organizations from across Canada have endorsed my abandoned vessel legislation, Bill C-352. They include the City of Nanaimo; Islands Trust Council; the Town of Ladysmith; the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities; the BC Ferry and Marine Workers' Union, representing 4,000 members; and the Vancouver & District Labour Council, representing 60,000 members. I have the support of marinas and harbour and port authorities from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and British Columbia.
This week, we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the removal of the abandoned vessel Viki Lyne II from Ladysmith Harbour, where it had languished as a blight for four years. It was a big step for my community, after years of effort by former New Democrat MP Jean Crowder, Stz'uminus Chief John Elliott, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and the Ladysmith Maritime Society. I am so glad that, working together, we were able to get federal action from Parliament to tow it away.
In July, I brought my campaign to Nova Scotia, where I spoke with marine allies about what they need to get rid of abandoned vessels on their coastline. In September, concerned residents from Cowichan Bay and beyond came to the town hall that I hosted with the member of Parliament for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. Residents were eager to talk about solutions to the problem that has been plaguing their coastline for decades. From Tofino, B.C., to Fogo Island, Newfoundland, coastal communities are urging the Liberal government to adopt my legislation to clean up abandoned vessels and protect our waterways and coastlines. Returning to Parliament today with these endorsements, will the government heed the call of coastal communities that the government adopt my legislation and solve, once and for all, the abandoned vessel problem?
Mr. Speaker, in fact, our government is taking meaningful action on abandoned and wrecked vessels. As part of the $1.5 billion oceans protection plan, we are investing in a comprehensive strategy that will address problem vessels from multiple angles. A component of the strategy is already under way with the launch on May 31, 2017 of a national abandoned boats program, led by Transport Canada. This program will facilitate the removal of existing legacy, smaller, high-priority abandoned boats that are plaguing our coasts, educate boat owners about their responsibilities, and support research into improving recycling options for vessels.
In addition, on September 7, 2017, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced the launch of a complementary abandoned and wrecked vessels removal program. This separate initiative will provide funds to assist in the removal of priority vessels that are currently abandoned in Department of Fisheries and Oceans-owned small craft harbours. This measure will benefit local commercial fishing industries and the broader interests of affected coastal communities.
Our strategy goes beyond addressing existing problem vessels. Very importantly, our long-term strategy is designed to take the cost burden off of taxpayers and implement vessel owner-financed programs to pay for the cleanup of vessels. Shifting the cost burden from taxpayers also means that we need to hold vessel owners accountable through law. It is unacceptable that owners can walk away from their vessels, leaving these vessels to deteriorate in our waters without penalty.
Our current laws do not allow us to intervene early enough and often enough. Vessels reach the point of posing serious risks to our environment and economy, resulting in considerable cleanup costs. The need for a prohibition on vessel abandonment has come up repeatedly in our consultations with Canadians. Such legislation has proven to be successful in reducing the problem in other jurisdictions, and we are following through with this best practice in Canada by meeting our commitment to introduce legislation in 2017.
We will continue to work with all levels of government, partners, indigenous groups, and coastal communities to support the cleanup and prevention of abandoned and wrecked vessels. As the member mentioned, we have already made considerable progress, and it will continue.
Mr. Speaker, I have heard in this House over 25 times the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard say that they are going to act on abandoned vessels and that legislation is coming, but it has been two years now, and we still do not have legislation. The elements that the member opposite described are all good elements, but none of them can be implemented and none of them have any teeth unless the government introduces legislation into this House.
The removal amount that was offered for this year was $300,000, plus the recent top-up of $260,000. The Viki Lyne II in Ladysmith Harbour that I helped remove cost $1.2 million to remove. That is just one boat.
It has been almost a year since the oceans protection plan was announced. I appreciate the intention of the government, but unless it takes action, those words are meaningless for coastal communities. New Democrats—
Mr. Speaker, our government signalled its intent to take meaningful action on this matter with the endorsement of the private member's Motion No. 40 by the member for South Shore—St. Margarets, and we are delivering on this matter. I have already spoken about the measures we have implemented or intend to implement to clean up problem vessels and to improve vessel owner responsibility. In order for these measures to be effective, we also make sure that vessel owners understand their responsibilities. This is another important piece of our strategy on abandoned, derelict, and wrecked vessels.
We will work to better inform vessel owners of the consequences of abandoning their vessels, their responsibilities, and their options for proper disposal. Our efforts to expand the scope and the scale of our educational activities will include supporting the outreach activities of marine partners who directly interact with boat owners. Together, we will continue to make—
Mr. Speaker, I am rising to follow up on a May 2 question I asked.
I get this privilege because iPolitics had an access to information request that came back with 100 pages of information showing emails of diplomatic staff that showed a growing confusion over how to work with the dual appointment of special envoy Stéphane Dion to the European Union and to Germany.
There is a quote I want to share with the House: “No idea if true of how it would work.” That could almost explain any Liberal policy that has been put forward by the current government.
There is a large block of text as well that was redacted, no doubt showing the gong show that this appointment has become with our allies. The fault lies completely with the Prime Minister, as special envoy Dion said to the foreign affairs committee when he appeared before it on May 2 of this year. He said that the agreement was not in place at the time, and that is something that is very important among diplomatic staff. Before making a diplomatic appointment, they typically ask their allies and ask the countries whether they are willing to accept it, and that had not been done in the case of the European Union.
In another quote, an ex-Canadian ambassador said, “We look like amateur hour.” The German and EU jobs are more than full-time jobs on their own. The German appointment by itself implies that the government believes that German leadership of the EU—this was pre-Brexit—took precedence over our allies in the United Kingdom, that their leadership of the European Union at the time was not as important as the leadership of Germany. We were taking sides in what was truly an internal diplomatic matter.
The question I want to continue today with the parliamentary secretary is this: was the appointment of special envoy Dion made to advance our national interest, or was it to deal with a niggling personnel problem that the Prime Minister had, namely that he had an incompetent minister at the time and wanted to move him out of the way—shunt him across the pond, so to speak—to the European Union and to Germany so it would be someone else's problem. Further, if that is going to be the behaviour of the government—to ignore the foreign service, ignore the diplomatic staff at Global Affairs—which minister is next?
I think that the Minister of Finance is ready for an ambassadorship. There are countries like, perhaps, Mongolia or North Korea—maybe Cuba would be nice this time of year—that we could send the Minister of Finance to. No doubt he has bungled the consultation on his small business tax proposals and he has bungled the ending portion of it and has refused to apologize. Which minister is next? Are future ambassadorial appointments going to be made to get rid of personnel issues on the front bench, or will they be done in the best interests of Canada?
Mr. Speaker, I would that hope my colleague across the way, as well as every member, would agree that Canada enjoys a long-standing and close strategic partnership with the European continent. We are connected by our values, valour, heritage, and many other commonalities.
We also face common issues, such as peace and security, climate change, and migration. Such challenges can only be resolved with effective global co-operation, in which the EU-Canada partnership must play a significant role.
Under our government, we now have two major levers to enhance our joint action with our European counterparts. First is the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. Second is its political counterpart, the new strategic partnership agreement. These two levers leave us better equipped than ever.
On September 21, just last month, CETA was provisionally implemented, the most progressive trade agreement ever negotiated.
This historic agreement that our government proudly signed on October 30, 2016, in Brussels gives Canadian businesses across the country unprecedented access to the European Union, the world's second-largest market, with over 500 million consumers and a $21-trillion gross domestic product.
Even more, with CETA, the EU and Canada can now show the world there is no need to choose between trade and progress. To maximize our chance for success in strengthening our relationship with Europe, to advance our security, social, and economic interests, Canada now has a new resource, a senior diplomat to Europe.
Canada is currently engaged in 36 bilateral missions in 32 countries. We can increase this already strong presence by taking a consistent pan-European approach. Ambassador Dion, a renowned Canadian, has always fought for a better, greener, and more united Canada. He is also extremely knowledgeable about Europe and strongly believes in the importance of a transatlantic relationship. These are the values and skills that he brings to the position of Canada's ambassador to Germany and special envoy to the European Union and Europe.
In fact, after just taking up his post earlier this year, our ambassador has already participated in the NATO summit in Brussels; the Globesec Forum 2017, one of the top global security conferences in central and eastern Europe; a trade mission to Italy; the EU development days, possibly the largest gathering on international development issues; the G20 summit in Hamburg; the Woodrise conference, promoting the Canadian forestry sector; and most recently, an academic conference on inclusiveness, an important value that needs our promotion, especially in today's global climate.
Ambassador Dion's presence at these important engagements puts Canada at the table with our European counterparts to tackle the biggest issues of our time, issues that have no borders and need collaboration on to achieve real results.
We are honoured to have Mr. Dion represent Canada and stand up for our interests in his role as ambassador to Germany and special envoy to the European Union and Europe.
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to compliment the hon. member for Fredericton on the quality of his French today. I see that he is working hard to join his cabinet colleagues on the front bench. That is good because the government will soon have a position to fill.
I also hope, at that time, they will also find some cushy appointment, especially for the Minister of Finance.
There is a Yiddish proverb, “As we live, so we learn.” I hope that the government has learned a lesson from this. We cannot treat allies like a dumping ground for washed-up politicians. We have to treat them with the respect they deserve. First, we need to consult with them and get their agreement in the first place before then having to dial it back and say, “Actually, the ambassadorship we meant to give you is not so much that, as it is just a special envoy.”
Former minister Dion will actually be answering to Ambassador Costello. We already have professional and excellent diplomatic staff there.
The appointment of Stéphane Dion as Canada's ambassador to Germany and the special envoy to the European Union and Europe has already paid dividends for Canada, and it continues to deliver on our Prime Minister's commitment to strengthen Canada's relationships in Europe.
In my initial remarks, I offered but a short list of Mr. Dion's engagements to date, only a few months into this role. Mr. Dion's expertise, his years of service to his country, his deep knowledge of Europe, and his strong commitment to the trans-Altantic relationship make him the ideal appointment as Canada's senior diplomat in Europe to deliver for Canada and Canadians.
Should the member opposite be in Berlin, he can count on top quality service from Mr. Dion, just as he can from all of our mission leads across the world. That is Canadians helping Canadians.
The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 6:54 p.m.)
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada
on the installation of
the 29th Governor General of Canada
Assembled Right Honourables, Honourables, distinguished guests, dear friends,
Your Excellencies, Mr. and Mrs. Johnston, Laurier, Ms. Payette,
It is an honour for me to be here with you today as you are about to become our 29th Governor General, the representative of Her Majesty the Queen in Canada. Many Canadians already know the details of your incredible journey. It is a journey that is a testament to your talent and to the numerous qualities that make you what you are, an exceptional Canadian.
On May 27, 1999, an entire country watched with pride and emotion as you left Earth. This first trip to space sparked the imaginations of children who, across Canada, watched intently as you soared towards the stars, children who dreamed of travelling in a rocket ship and experiencing weightlessness—just like a little girl in Montreal used to dream as she watched Americans in diving suits drive a jeep on the moon on television.
Children, however, were not the only ones impressed. In a way, that day was even more significant for adults, whose dreams often tend to fade with the passing years. On that day, Canadians came to know an accomplished scientist, a fearless astronaut and, most importantly, a passionate Canadian woman whose knowledge, determination and curiosity not only made her own dreams come true, but inspired an entire country, an entire generation.
As an educator, musician, polyglot, athlete, pilot, and mom, you on multiple occasions went where very few others dared to go. A team player, a trailblazer, and a pioneer, you proved to boys and girls, men and women across this great country that the sky was in fact not the limit.
Upon her return, Ms. Payette dedicated much of her time to sharing her passion for science with Canadians and with the rest of the world. She most notably worked as a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, and was appointed Scientific Authority for Quebec in the United States.
Many Canadians will also remember her scientific outreach program on Radio-Canada or her time spent at the helm of the Montreal Science Centre, where she used her expertise to educate and inspire.
The list of her accomplishments goes on, and they have earned her numerous awards and distinctions not only in Canada but around the world.
Your journey through space and through life may be unique, but the qualities that underpin each and every one of your successes are not. Your numerous achievements are, above all, a testament to your hard work, discipline, and, most importantly, your passion.
Whether as Canada’s chief astronaut or as an Olympic flag-bearer, you represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian and to serve Canada with aplomb and with integrity.
Today, as Ms. Payette chooses to serve once again, she follows a long line of exceptional Canadians who helped shape our country’s history.
If you will indulge me, I would like to take a moment to address one of them, someone who will soon be Ms. Payette’s predecessor, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Lloyd Johnston.
Over the past seven years, His Excellency performed these functions with unparalleled humility and humanity. On behalf of all Canadians, I would like to offer my most sincere thanks to Their Excellencies Mr. and Mrs. Johnston for their many contributions. You helped build a stronger and better Canada. Thank you, my friends.
While Ms. Payette stands on the shoulders of giants, I have no doubt that she will carry on one of Canada’s oldest traditions by shaping this role into her own. As an agent of change and a powerful voice for progress, this two-time extraterrestrial Canadian will bring a new perspective on Canada and on its place in the world.
I look forward to working alongside Her Excellency as she continues to go boldly where few others have gone before.
the Right Honourable Julie Payette
the 29th Governor General of Canada
Good morning to all of you who took the time to come here to witness this secular passing of powers that dates back to the governors of New France but that today is entirely Canadian and represents the foundation of our democracy.
I bring warm greetings from our sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, to all Canadians. Her Majesty welcomed my son Laurier and me to her estate in Scotland just two weeks ago. She gave me the responsibility to represent her here in Canada as Governor General. I accepted this duty with humility. I know that this is going to be a tough act to follow, as I try to stumble my way in the footsteps of my predecessors, in the footsteps of a great man, Governor General David Johnston, and a great woman, Madame Sharon Johnston. Thank you for welcoming me into your family.
From my somewhat unorthodox operational past, which I share with many of you here in this room, I did not expect to be appointed as Governor General, but when duty calls, there is only one answer. I am so privileged, so honoured to have the opportunity to represent you and to speak on behalf of our wonderful country.
Prime Minister, I would like to thank you for your recommendation and for the trust you have placed in me, and if I may, I would also like to thank a proud young man sitting here, my son Laurier, who was one of my first advisers in this regard and who gave me permission. Thank you, Laurier; thank you.
I would have liked for this room in the Senate of Canada to have been larger to accommodate everyone so that we could all be together, because so very, very many of you came. However, I can assure you that we are all in this together. There are many eminent scientists in this room, and lots of great high-flyers, and they would tell you that we are inextricably bound by the same space-time continuum and we are all on board the same planetary spaceship.
Together, as the adage says, we can move mountains, can we not? With our brains and our smarts and our altruistic capability, we can indeed do a lot of good, and it is our duty to some extent to help improve the lives of people in our community, to diminish the gap in the inequities here and elsewhere. Then maybe, if we try hard to work together, we may have a chance to find the answers and we may be able to tackle global issues, serious and pressing global issues like climate change and migration, nuclear proliferation, poverty, population growth and so on, because global issues know no borders, no timeline, and they truly do need our attention.
I am an optimist but also a pragmatist. It was clear, with the success of the International Space Station, that we can always do better together than on our own. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Since November 2000, astronauts and cosmonauts from countries that here on Earth do not often see things eye to eye have been working together aboard the International Space Station, which orbits the Earth 16 times a day.
However, we rarely see the International Space Station on the front page of the newspaper, because nothing really terrible happens up there. It works. People work together from different nations for a common good. They work together and they compromise where it is needed. Somehow the International Space Station, but also big science, bring us, force us, to think not in a microcosm of nationality only, but to think in terms of what we could do to advance matters and to push the boundaries of science as partners in a collective spirit and with a peaceful intent. It is promising, is it not?
These are lessons that we can bring back to Earth more often and apply whenever possible. Of course, that is easier said than done, is it not? However, I believe that we here in Canada are in a position now more than ever to make a difference, because we are rich: rich in values, openness, tolerance, mutual co operation and compassion, because we have decided as a people to share our gifts as much as possible, and because we believe in equality of opportunity for everyone.
I am a product of this country. I truly believe that these very fundamental values unite us all.
My father told me that my ancestor, Pierre Payette dit St-Amour, arrived on this land in 1665. He was a soldier with the Carignan regiment on the Island of Montreal. Allow me now to acknowledge and convey my admiration and profound respect for all of the men and women who choose to serve in uniform.
My ancestor, Pierre Payette, was a soldier, but later became a farmer and settled in Pointe-aux-Trembles, on the Island of Montreal. He had many children, and several generations later, my father, my brother and sister, I myself, and Laurier, the 13th-generation Canadian, were born on the Island of Montréal. A few years later, another ancestor, François Payette, became a coureur de bois. I imagine he was a good paddler. He was a trusted employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company and translated indigenous languages. François Payette left to explore the northwest of the American continent and today, in Idaho, there is a city, a county, a river, and even a national park that bear the name Payette. Clearly, I am proud of my roots, but I long ago realized that all of our ancestors, mine included, had been guided and helped by extraordinary peoples. The first nations, with their ingenuity, generosity, and courage, through mountains, forests, and waterways, opened the land for the rest of us. They were the first pioneers on this land, and they continue to be.
Indigenous peoples are pathfinders. They taught us to fight the cold and survive in it, they taught us how to appreciate the gifts of nature, and they taught us about community. It is a good thing for the well-being of our communities and the future of our children that we finally decided to listen again to their wisdom.
Reconciliation is vital for the well-being of our communities and the future of our children. Speaking of children, mention has been made of some of the things that interested me when I was young, but I understand and I know how lucky I am to have been born in this country and into this family, because it was my parents, my education, what I saw growing up, and the opportunities I was given that made all the difference. When I was young, watching the Apollo missions to the moon on television, I knew that I wanted to be an astronaut, but I did not even speak their language. That did not matter; I wanted to do what they were doing. What mattered was that no one ever discouraged me, and later, when the Olympics came to my hometown of Montreal in 1976, I discovered a world of diversity, a cosmopolitan world, with the thrill of elite performance and the pride of representing one’s country. I wanted to be like them, I wanted to travel, I wanted to become an Olympian, but I did not have the talent. Nonetheless, I was never discouraged from trying.
When you are eight years old and you find something interesting and you want to do it, you dream about it, and then somehow as we grow older, we forget to dream and that perhaps we are able to do things that other people tell us we cannot do. To dare to dream is within us.
A few years later, at the age of 16, I received a scholarship to study at an international college in Great Britain, and thankfully, I was encouraged to go. I left with my faulty English and my two suitcases and crossed the ocean, my head full of conviction but not knowing what lay ahead.
I left Canada without a single worry in my heart because I had been given the greatest gift of all—unconditional love. When I left, I knew somehow that no matter what happened, even if I failed, they would take me back. My parents were there for me, and they still are today.
My mother, Jacqueline, and my father, André, gave me wings, and I made the most of them, I assure you. When I returned from these travels and journeys, I returned with profound convictions: that education for all is the key to all societies; that diversity is an incredible treasure; that sport, mens sana in corpore sano--a healthy mind in a healthy body--can take us very far; that we are stronger when we stand together; and that there is no magic solution in life. It is through hard work that we will move forward.
Guess what? Effort pays off. It has been an amazing journey. I am a true believer in the strength of teamwork, in the power of dreams, and in the absolute necessity of a support structure. This is the backbone of this country. This is our national fabric. I am convinced that anyone can accomplish anything and rise to the challenge as long as they are willing to work with others, to let go of their personal agenda, to reach a higher goal, and to do what is right for the common good, and I hope this is exactly what my mandate as Governor General will reflect.
One of the great privileges we have—those of us who have had the opportunity to see the Earth from above and to go into space—is to see this planet we share, all seven billion, 751 million of us here on Earth. We are all part of the human race, and we share this extraordinary world, a world that so resembles a blue marble on a backdrop of darkness, surrounded by its finite atmosphere. Borders are the invention of mankind. This Earth, this planet, is ours to pass on to future generations in good shape, and it is this notion that should guide us in all of our choices and all of our decisions. Seeing how many young people are here today, I am optimistic about the future.
Canada, we really have a lot of work to do. I think the path for us to take is to trust science, to believe that innovation and discovery are good for us, and to make decisions based on data and evidence. We are the true north, strong and free, and we should always look after those who have less, stand up for those who cannot, reach out across differences, use our land intelligently, open our borders and welcome those who seek harbour, and never, ever, cease to be curious, ask questions, and explore. Oh, and by the way, we should be happy and celebrate who we are and what we want to become.
The young people who are here in the Senate of Canada, the highest place of governance in our country, are showing us that Canada is in good hands.
My friends, aim high. Dare to dream. The sky has no limit.