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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 274

CONTENTS

Thursday, March 22, 2018




House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 274
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[Translation]

Canadian Human Rights Commission

    I have the honour to lay upon the table the 2017 annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(e), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

[English]

Firearms Act

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table, in both official languages, a charter statement on Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms.

Government Response to Petitions

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

Committees of the House

Public Accounts 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 42nd report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled “Report 1, Phoenix Pay Problems, of the Fall 2017 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada—Part 1”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee request that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.

[Translation]

Petitions

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from residents of Magog about Lake Memphrémagog. We have a big problem. On the Canadian side of the lake, the water is potable, but not on the American side. There is a garbage dump on the American side that could pollute Lake Memphrémagog, which is where all 200,000 people of Magog and Sherbrooke get their drinking water.
    The petitioners are asking the Minister of Global Affairs to raise this matter with the International Joint Commission.

[English]

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Ways and Means

Notice of Motion  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1) I wish to table a ways and means motion to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018, and other measures.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2) I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Business of Supply]

[Translation]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister  

    That, given the Prime Minister has supported a claim that the invitation issued to a convicted attempted murderer was the work of a foreign government attempting to interfere in Canadian foreign relations, while others in the government, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, claimed that the invitation was an “honest mistake” on the part of the Canadian government, the House call upon the Prime Minister to instruct his National Security Advisor, Daniel Jean, to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to provide the Committee the same briefing he gave to journalists on February 23, 2018, and that the briefing take place in public and no later than March 30, 2018.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Foothills.
    I rise in the House today to speak to an important issue, although one that is also sad and shameful. Yes, I want to talk about the Prime Minister's recent disastrous trip to India, as well as our immense need to get to the bottom of the unfounded accusations made against the Indian government.
    Our Prime Minister has been arrogant and disrespectful to the House and elected members from all parties. He is in the habit of sharing information with journalists ahead of Parliament and that is shameful. His arrogance, his lack of judgment, and his impetuous behaviour has spoiled our diplomatic relations with India. The relationship between our two countries is in shambles. That relationship was built over years with a great deal of effort. It is sad, but true.
    We have a Prime Minister who is not very keen on coming to the House to answer questions. I guess that when he was young and dreaming of becoming Prime Minister, it never occurred to him that as leader of the country he would have to be accountable to Canadians. I guess that he thought it would be just like in the movies, where decisions and problems are neatly wrapped up in the end.
    I honestly believe that the Prime Minister has woken up to the reality of his responsibilities and role and is in a state of shock. He rarely comes to the House, and when he does honour us with his presence, he does not answer the questions. He is all talk and no substance.
    Let us review the facts. During the Prime Minister's family vacation to India, the media reported that a criminal convicted of attempted murder had been invited to one of the Canadian Prime Minister's events. To save face, the Prime Minister's first instinct was to do what he usually does and blame someone else for his own mistakes.
    Usually, he blames our former prime minister, Stephen Harper, for all the mistakes that he and his ministers are making here in Canada. However, since he was in India, on the other side of the world, he could not find a Stephen Harper or a Conservative government, so he had to improvise. Since he is not overly skilled in the art of telling the truth, he made another mistake in an attempt to hide his first mistake. If you can imagine, our Prime Minister actually accused the Indian government of plotting to embarrass and undermine Canada by placing Mr. Atwal's name on the Prime Minister's guest list.
    To lend some credence to his made-up story, the Prime Minister sent a senior official to a media-only briefing, to try to sell them this story.
    Later, the Prime Minister said that he stood by the claims and accusations his official made against the Indian government. They did not hesitate to make allegations against India to Canadians, but they never provided any evidence or other information to justify their position. The Prime Minister ended up being the only one who believed the story he had made up.
    That same day, both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Liberal member for Surrey Centre readily, though clumsily, denied the Prime Minister's claims.
    From the very beginning, the Indian government rejected the accusations. Even Mr. Atwal confirmed, with deep dismay, that India had not been involved.
    Who are we to believe? We have two versions to choose from, the one from the Prime Minister and his national security adviser, and the one from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Atwal, the Indian government itself, and the member for Surrey Centre. This latter group all denied that the Indian government had played a role in extending this invitation to Mr. Atwal. They all affirmed that there had been no plot, and the minister even apologized to the Indian government.
    On the opposite side, there is the isolated and unrepentant Prime Minister, who continues to level serious accusations at India.
    This Prime Minister often uses big words to say nothing at all. This Prime Minister loves to hear the sound of his own voice. For all of these reasons, we need to shine a light on this affair.
    Every major nation knows that it is important to maintain good relations with other countries.
     Year after year, we, as elected representatives, work hard in partnership with our staff in diplomatic affairs and other services to sign free trade agreements and increase our exports to new markets. This work is crucial because it is the main driver of job creation in Canada.
    In a fit of impulsiveness and wanton recklessness, our Prime Minister destroyed our business community's chances of securing business opportunities in the Indian market.

  (1010)  

    For all of these reasons, we need to hear the testimony of the public servant who could tell the House the whole truth about this infamous affair.
    First, why did the Prime Minister force Daniel Jean to tell the media an unbelievable story? Now, that same Prime Minister is hindering the work of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security by preventing Mr. Jean from answering the questions of elected officials. Why? Does he have something to hide? The Prime Minister likes to brag about being transparent and about having cleaner hands than any other leader in Canadian history. He claims to be the Obama of the north.
    We want explanations and we want answers. The only man—sorry, I meant to say the only person—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Pierre Paul-Hus: One has to be careful these days, right?
    The only person who has the power to resolve this issue once and for all is the Prime Minister himself. I am therefore asking the Prime Minister to do his job.

  (1015)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, to say I am disappointed in the member across the way would come as no surprise to the opposition.
    The Conservatives carry on with this character assassination of the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. They talk about arrogance. I sat in opposition for years, and I saw an arrogant prime minister by the name of Stephen Harper, a prime minister who had a huge disconnect with Canadians.
    Contrast that to our Prime Minister, a prime minister who is constantly out in the community meeting with Canadians. He actually has town halls and invites Canadians to participate and ask questions they might have that are important to our economy and society. He is a prime minister who genuinely cares about Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. Members can take a look at the litany of policies that have enabled our economy to grow, to assist our middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it.
    I would love to spend a full day contrasting our Prime Minister to Stephen Harper, but Canadians already did that back in 2015.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: You can applaud all you want—
    I would remind the parliamentary secretary that he is to address all questions to the Chair. He has been in the House and in politics long enough to know that.
    The hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague is very passionate. We know that he is the one who talks the most in the House. Once again, as was the case with the Prime Minister, those words do not mean anything. Prime Minister Harper, of whom I am very proud, is the only one who managed to sign free trade agreements with countries all over the world.
    The Prime Minister came back from Vietnam, China, and India in disgrace. Nothing was accomplished for Canadians or business people. What is more, he is making up a story to cover up his problems. Stop comparing him to former prime minister Stephen Harper. Mr. Harper is a smart man who worked hard for Canadians. All your Prime Minister has is empty rhetoric that means nothing.
    I do not think that the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles understood what I just told the parliamentary secretary. I would therefore remind him that he must address the Chair and not other members or the government directly.
    The hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I sit with him on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and I am pleased to support his efforts to have Mr. Jean appear before the committee, especially in this difficult situation. The Liberals do not want us to have the same briefing as the media. That is the difference. No matter one's views or party allegiance, the fact remains that the Liberals' conduct on this trip raised questions. I believe that at a bare minimum we should have the opportunity to hear from an expert who will explain how he arrived at his conclusions. I realize that we must always be prudent and careful when hearing from people who work on national security in a public forum. However, I believe that information has already been provided to the public by the media. There is nothing more public than that.
    I would like to ask my colleague why he believes that the Liberals do not even want to debate the motion. In committee, they did not defeat the motion, they chose to adjourn the debate. They do not even want to talk about it. Why does he think that this is the case?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly for his question and for supporting our collective efforts to shine a light on this affair.
     Why do the Liberal Party members on the government side oppose this motion? It is probably because they are getting their orders directly from the Prime Minister's Office. However, they should know that in committee and in the House, as duly elected representatives, if their hearts and minds are telling them to demand that this business be cleared up, they have the right to vote for this motion. They have the right to vote with us. They represent their constituents. Canadians want to know what happened. Citizens want to know whether the Prime Minister made up a story or whether it is the others, including his Minister of Foreign Affairs and his member, who are telling falsehoods. People want to know. The information from Mr. Jean has been given to the media. At the very least, members of Parliament should be informed as well.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this issue. I will be taking a different tack on what we are discussing today.
    Our motion is asking the Prime Minister to come clean with the conspiracy theories he has been putting forward. This is an issue of concern for Canadians across the country who want to ensure that their Prime Minister is being honest, especially in his dealings with countries around the world like India, a trusted ally and one of the largest democracies in the world.
     I want to touch on the very real consequences of the lack of judgment of the Prime Minister, as a result of his actions in India, and the ramifications that we are feeling here at home. What should have been one of the top priorities for the Prime Minister when he went to India was the significant trading issue we have with one of our most significant trading partners when it comes to Canadian agriculture, certainly with respect to our pulses, lentils, peas, and chickpeas.
    The Conservative government grew Canada's pulse industry to a more than $4.5 billion industry. Farmers in my constituency of Foothills in southern Alberta and throughout the province are now growing crops like soybeans, chickpeas, and lentils, which were never grown there 10 years ago. As a result of new innovation and new technology they are able to grow these very lucrative crops. One of the reasons that they want to seed these crops is the opportunity to access lucrative new markets like India. However, over the last few months and as a result of the Prime Minister's actions in India, we have seen what was once a great opportunity for Canadian agriculture drop to not nearly that scope.
    For example, in the days after the Prime Minister returned from India, the Indian government raised the tariff on Canadian chickpea exports from 40% to 60%. The Liberal government does not seem to understand the very real consequences for Canadians and Canadian entrepreneurs in agriculture as a result of its actions in India . Not only is this a question of the Prime Minister's embarrassing performance in India, but it is also having an impact here at home. I want to give the House some statistics with respect to just how profound this impact is.
    The Prime Minister went to India to hopefully address some of these issues. When he came back, we found that not only had the issue not been addressed but it was substantially worse. To put that in perspective, the price Canadians were getting for a bushel of lentils prior to the fall was about $9 a bushel. Now we are getting just over $6.90 a bushel. That is a substantial decrease in the price that Canadians were getting for their product on the market. A great deal of that can be directly attributed to the Prime Minister's performance in India.
    The fumigation issue was one that we were hoping the Prime Minister would be able to address on that trip. He said over there that they were able to bring that issue to the table, and I appreciate that, but they did not come home with any agreement, nothing was signed indicating that the fumigation issue was going to be addressed. In fact, there is no agreement. It is just maybe something that will be discussed further as we go through 2018. We have to understand the financial consequences of that.
    When we talk about a shipment of these products that are going from Canada to India, we do not have the exemption on the fumigation, which we used to have. It sunsetted last December and the Indian government did not extend that exemption. It is now costing Canadian producers $700,000 per shipment on these products going to India. India is not asking us to necessarily fumigate our shipments, but it is charging us a fee when we send our products over there. India has also increased the tariffs on peas to 50% and on lentils to 30%. There is now a fear within the pulse industry in Canada that India could increase the tariffs on lentils to 100%, which is still within WTO rules.

  (1020)  

    My concern, and I think the concern that is shared by producers across the country, is that increasing these tariffs, including the latest one increasing the tariffs on chickpeas from 40% to 60%, is just a shot across the bow, just a warning shot that is saying to Canada that it must come clean with its actions when it comes to Jaspal Atwal and the claim that this was a conspiracy put forth by the Indian government. Until there is responsibility taken for the consequences, they are going to continue to take this out on Canadian farmers.
     I certainly do not believe that is fair in any way, shape, or form, when our farmers or Canadian producers are the ones who are paying the very real consequences for the Prime Minister and his antics in India. Every single day here in question period, he continues to send mixed messages. Even in one single answer he is giving two different responses that simply do not mix. One cannot happen without the other. Either it was a conspiracy by the Indian government or it was an honest mistake, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said. It has to be one or the other, and it cannot be both. Until the Prime Minister steps forward, takes responsibility, and shows some accountability for his actions, we are going to continue to face some of these consequences, and it could get worse.
    For example, there is a company in Saskatchewan that just recently signed a fertilizer agreement with India to supply India with potash. What makes this agreement so unprecedented is that it is the first potash mine in Canada that is being done in strong partnership with a first nation in Saskatchewan. The potash mine is actually on a first nation's land. This is something that the first nation community in northern Saskatchewan will benefit from. It is a memorandum of understanding between the first nation, the mining company, and India to supply potash. However, who is to say that they are not the next target? Will the next step for the Indian government be to say that they are not going to move forward with this agreement to supply potash from Canada to India? Is this another company or sector of industry that is going to be impacted by this?
    I want to give my colleagues a quote from Gord Bacon who is the CEO of Pulse Canada, and was on that trip with the Prime Minister to India. Earlier on, when it came to the fumigation issue, Gord Bacon said, “There was never a science-based reason [for fumigation]. We were having to mix biological science with political science and the two never mixed well.” Thus, even with Pulse Canada and our producers across the country, they are raising alarms on the consequences of the Prime Minister's actions in India and the very real implications that this is having on the ground.
    We are asking the Liberal government to quickly take action on this. I have to be honest. I am not expecting them to take quick action because we have certainly seen over the last several months that when it comes to Canadian agriculture and rural economic development, these are certainly not priorities for the Liberal government. In fact, when a lot of these issues were going on, our agriculture minister was nowhere to be found.
    When the pulse and lentil tariffs were raised last fall, the Liberals sent a trade mission to India. The fumigation and trade issues with our pulse products were not even raised, not to mention that the agriculture minister was not even part of that delegation that went to India to discuss possible free trade agreements with that trading partner. Then again, in January, the Prime Minister went back to India. He took almost 20 MPs and ministers to go on his taxpayer family vacation and photo op extravaganza. This is one of the top issues that we are dealing with here, yet the agriculture minister was not among that massive entourage that went with the Prime Minister on that trip.
    Then we talk about the grain backlog, which is another huge issue for our agriculture sector. The agriculture minister said it is not really a very serious issue when our producers cannot get their products to market. The transportation minister said that he is “satisfied” with what CN and CP are doing. Is he serious? At one point, sometimes only 6% of the railcars, the grain cars, that were ordered were actually being delivered. This tells me that when it comes to agriculture and rural economy, the Liberal government is more than happy to sacrifice our rural Canadians for their antics.
    We need a Prime Minister who is going to take our global relations and our trading partnerships seriously. Canadian agriculture depends on it.

  (1025)  

    

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned international trade.
    Last week, the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, or MCFR, welcomed two guest speakers, namely the High Commissioner of India to Canada and the High Commissioner of Canada to India. These two speakers were there to talk about the trip to India. I was there myself. I went to hear the speeches. Their remarks were reported in an article by Alexis Riopel that appeared in La Presse on April 14. Anyone who wants to verify what I am saying has only to go and read it.
    This is what the High Commissioner of India said: “I think [our Prime Minister's] visit to India was very important.... However, it ended up in the news for the wrong reasons.... Canada and India complement each other. Canada has the technological and financial resources that India needs. India offers Canada a market of 1.3 billion people”.
    The Standing Committee on International Trade just came back from a trip, and we absolutely have to be there. We need to take advantage of the imminent economic progress there. Plus, India is an English-speaking market, so we will have no trouble communicating. It is also a Commonwealth country. The article also reported that “The purpose of the visit was to strengthen and expand the relationship”.
    I would like to know what you think of that.

  (1030)  

    I cannot tell you what I think.
    I would like to remind the member that she must address the Speaker of the House. This is the third time today I have reminded members to do so, and I hope everyone will keep that in mind.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, once again, in that discussion between Canada and India, agriculture was never even discussed. From this wonderful meeting, was any agreement reached on fumigation or reducing tariffs on lentils and peas? No, none of those things were done. In fact, absolutely, it is a great market. When we were in government, $1.4 billion in pulses from Canada were sold to India. Since 2015, we have seen those numbers drop 75%. That is the consequence of a Liberal government that does not take our international relationships seriously, and their antics are costing us trusted trading partners.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, when the Conservatives were in power, the member for Outremont, who was the leader of the official opposition at the time, was admitted to the Privy Council for a briefing on national security issues and to facilitate communication between party leaders on those issues.
    Now that the Conservatives are the official opposition, does my colleague believe the official opposition is getting enough information about national security from the government? Is it regularly getting the information it needs to analyze situations that have an impact on national security?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, that is a great point. My answer is no, but I want to bring it back to what I have been talking about, if that is okay with my colleague. There is a very significant difference between when we were in government as Conservatives and the Liberal government, and I want to bring that back to agriculture and especially trade issues.
    When we were in government, we went from free trade agreements with five countries to 51. When we were doing CETA, trade agreements with South Korea, and the TPP, our agriculture minister and trade minister came back to Ottawa after all those meetings and offered to have debriefs with any opposition shadow ministers or opposition members who wanted to have information on how those meetings went. To have that kind of information is critical when we go back to our constituents and make these types of decisions.
    Since the Liberals have now taken government, they have not one time offered to have those debriefs when it comes to TPP, NAFTA, or finishing up with CETA. They talk about our time with Prime Minister Harper, but there is no question the Liberal government is more secretive and untransparent than any government we have had in decades.
    Madam Speaker, in response to an invitation from Indian Prime Minister Modi, the Prime Minister of Canada concluded his first official visit to India last month. He was accompanied by six ministers in the official delegation. Fourteen members of Parliament participated in key elements of the program.
    Recognizing that the relationship is underpinned by people-to-people ties, the Prime Minister incorporated a strong focus on education and youth in the program, reflecting Canada's 1.4 million Canadians of Indian heritage, and cognizant of Canada's geostrategic and commercial interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
    The Prime Minister's objective was clear: to reaffirm that Canada stands with a united India. Recognizing that the relationship between Canada and India is based on a shared commitment to pluralism, diversity, and democracy, the Prime Minister visited cultural and religious sites of significance to people in Canada, India, and around the world.
    During the visit, the Prime Minister met with India's Prime Minister Modi, India's President Kovind, the Minister of External Affairs, business executives and entrepreneurs, civil society advocates, academics, and thought leaders.
    The Prime Minister visited the world's most populous democracy, the fastest-growing major economy in the world, and a society on the cusp of dramatic cultural, political, and economic transformation. India's economic heft is increasing. Its middle class is expanding, and its global influence grows stronger every day.
    Over the past few years, Canada's relationship with India has thrived. We have expanded and deepened our traditional areas of engagement. However, Canadians expect the Prime Minister to do more, to welcome more skilled workers, to attract more students to study in Canada, to facilitate the ease of doing business with and investing in India. Canada's Prime Minister took the pulse of the change afoot in India in order to guide Canadian stakeholders through this transformation.
    The relationship between Canada and India is strong and mutually beneficial. Two-way trade between Canada and India is estimated to have reached $8.34 billion in calendar year 2017. This represents an increase of 3.9% over 2016, and an increase of over 30% just in the last three years. There is an estimated 1,000 Canadian companies active in the India market, of which 400 have a physical presence in the country.
    Despite these impressive figures, there is a palpable sense that Canada-India trade should be higher than it is right now, that there is enormous potential in India. The fact that our trade and investment numbers are low relative to the size of our GDP is just one example. On the same note, our negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, known as CEPA, and a foreign investment protection and promotion agreement, known as FIPA, are important priorities for both countries.
    Closing these bilateral agreements has proven to be long and arduous, and we are not quite there yet. However, Canada shares the same objective as India: to work together to create economic growth, prosperity, and good middle-class jobs and more opportunities for our citizens.
    To this end, in the joint statement issued by the leaders on February 23, Canada and India agreed to intensify negotiations to finalize both CEPA and FIPA. As well, Canada and India finalized a memorandum of understanding between Global Affairs Canada's investment and innovation bureau and Invest India, which will enhance two-way investment between the two countries.
    The Prime Minister welcomed the conclusion of, and progress on, co-operation agreements in areas such as civil nuclear science and technology, education, audiovisual production, information technology, intellectual property, sports, and many other areas.
    The leaders agree to encourage the private sector to explore further investment opportunities, and they welcome the signing of the commercial agreement, which will create thousands of new economic opportunities and jobs for both countries.
    Clearly, this was a valuable international trip to engage with an increasingly important global partner, India. This brings me to the subject of today's supply day motion.

  (1035)  

    Unfortunately, the subject the opposition has chosen to put forward in today's supply day motion calls into question the professionalism of some of our most senior public servants in the country. Canada's national security agencies are non-partisan, as well they must be. They are highly competent and highly effective. We trust them to protect and promote Canada's security. They continue to do an excellent job in serving and protecting the interests of Canadians regardless of what party might be in power. We respect our national security agencies and we respect the non-partisan public service. We respect their ability to provide non-partisan advice, including on operational issues that bear upon national security.
     As has been explained to the House on many occasions, the invitation to Mr. Atwal should never have been sent. When the government became aware of the invitation, it was withdrawn. The member of Parliament who extended that invitation has apologized for doing so.
    Our security and intelligence agencies are highly competent and do their jobs extremely well. Our government has been working to ensure they continue to do that work despite deep cuts that were made by the previous Conservative government. In fact, in their last four years in power, the Conservatives cut $1 billion from our national security and intelligence agencies.
    By contrast, the Liberal government has been providing them with integrity funding as we undertake reviews to ensure they have the resources to match their mandates and the difficult tasks we ask them to do every day on behalf of Canadians. More than that, we are restoring the public trust and confidence in our security and intelligence agencies that eroded over the 10 years of the previous Harper government.
    Last year, Parliament passed Bill C-22, which created the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. For well over a decade, experts, academics, and parliamentary committees, including ones that I was on, have called for a committee of parliamentarians that would be mandated to review the work of our security and intelligence agencies and who would have the appropriate clearance to review all classified material. That committee is now up and running. It is currently reviewing and taking a look at our national security and intelligence apparatus.
    We are also enhancing and making major changes to the existing review bodies by combining all entities with a mandate to review an individual department or agency into one body. Some academics have referred to this for years as a super SIRC. This too was called for in Justice Iacobucci's report and Justice O'Connor's report. Certainly in my time as the critic for public safety when I was in opposition, it was something that we called for and something that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security called for.
    We are calling it NSIRA, the national security intelligence review agency. There are benefits of having one review body that can actually follow the evidence as it moves from one agency to another. As an example, if SIRC were currently reviewing a CSIS operation and found that at one point CSIS had turned it over to the RCMP for an investigation, SIRC would not be able to follow the trail to see what the RCMP had done with that information. In other words, the security and intelligence review of matters would be siloed and there would not be the ability to follow them from one agency to the other. This would make knowing exactly what went on or what went wrong nearly impossible.
    The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, CRCC, could review what the RCMP has done with that information in the example that I gave earlier, but it would not be able to know what CSIS did in order to obtain it. Should Bill C-59 be passed by Parliament, the new NSIRA would have a mandate to look at every department or agency within the national security and intelligence function.
    In line with Canada's feminist foreign policy and feminist international assistance policy, as well as the emphasis on gender equality in the budget tabled in Parliament, the goal of women's empowerment and gender equality featured prominently during the Prime Minister's visit to India. He participated in a women's business leaders round table and launched the Canada-India accelerator program for women tech entrepreneurs.
    Canada and India announced collaboration between Canada's Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and India's Department of Science and Technology to jointly promote and strengthen the participation of girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

  (1040)  

    As well, Canada's International Development Research Centre, IDRC, announced research initiatives into the most important and effective ways to empower women, prevent gender-based violence, and make digital platforms work for inclusive development in India. New investments by the IDRC in 2018 will improve the working conditions of homeworkers and improve business practices in global supply chains. Canada announced $7.9 million for 40 Grand Challenges Canada projects in India, supporting women's empowerment, sexual and reproductive health rights, water and sanitation, and mental health. Finally, Canada and India launched the Nutrition International's Asia campaign called “She'll Grow Into It”. The campaign, supported by $11.5 million of funding through the right start initiative, works to empower the world's poorest women, adolescent girls, and children.
    On the last day of the visit, the Prime Minister delivered a keynote speech before 5,000 youth at the 2018 Young Changemakers Conclave annual conference. At this event, captured live on Facebook, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of gender equality, youth engagement, and diversity, and discussed the role of technology and innovation in empowering young leaders. Canada's Prime Minister heard directly from India's young leaders on how they are making their country and their world a better place in which to live. India has the largest youth population in the world, with more than 780 million under the age of 35.
    Speaking about youth, I want to turn to the topic of education. India has one of the largest higher education systems in the world. With over 30 million students enrolled in higher education every year, the demand far exceeds the supply. As a result, more than 550,000 Indian students opted to study abroad in 2017, and Canada is increasingly a destination of choice. Canadian institutions currently have over 400 arrangements with Indian institutions, and approximately 50 universities and colleges have a presence in India. In addition, the government has been proactively targeting students from abroad with the result that a record number of Indian students, an estimated 124,000, held a permit to study in Canada for six months or more in 2017. Canada now trails only the United States as a destination for Indian students going abroad for higher education.
    Academic collaboration is also moving forward at an accelerated pace. In 2016, Mitacs, a Canadian not-for-profit organization, brought 184 Indian researchers to Canada with funding of over $2 million through the Mitacs Globalink program and $736,000 in support from the Government of India. Since its launch in 2013, the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability, known as IC-IMPACTS, has delivered 38 projects that have resulted in 16 technology deployments in Canada and India in a variety of fields. Recognizing the importance of innovation, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi welcomed a call for research proposals amounting to $4 million toward cleaning polluted bodies of water and mitigating fire hazards in buildings. Key partners in this initiative are IC-IMPACTS and India's departments of biotechnology and science and technology.
    During the Prime Minister's trip, a memorandum of understanding on higher education was renewed, and Canada announced it will host the 2018 meeting of the joint working group that oversees implementation of that memorandum of understanding. As well, the Prime Minister recognized the 50th anniversary of the Shastri lndo-Canadian Institute in promoting understanding between India and Canada through academic activities and exchanges, with the support of both governments to the institute.
    To pursue this line further, if we continue to link youth and entrepreneurs in India and Canada and if we continue to encourage innovation and collaboration between academics, the private sector, and civil society, then government can back away and let these dynamics take over. There is nothing we wish for more than for the citizens of our two countries to drive forward this relationship and economic partnership.

  (1045)  

    A number of important security challenges face India and Canada in the Indo-Pacific region. On regional and global issues, the leaders discussed the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan, calling for an immediate cessation of violence, renunciation of links with international terrorism, and the dismantling of infrastructure of support for terrorism. The leaders reaffirmed support to the government and the people of Afghanistan to achieve an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled national peace and reconciliation process.
    The leaders called upon the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the DPRK, to abide strictly by its international obligations and commitments. They called on all states to implement rigorously the relevant UN Security Council resolutions relating to the DPRK.
    The leaders deplored the current state in the Maldives, and urged the Government of Maldives to allow democratic institutions, particularly the judiciary, to function independently in a fair and transparent manner.
    The two leaders discussed the humanitarian and security crisis in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh, and called for the voluntary, safe, and sustainable return of the people displaced, while stressing the importance of ensuring law and order, and respect for human dignity in the process. The leaders also called for the restoration of humanitarian access for relevant UN and other international organizations to facilitate the return process.
    In short, Canada and India resolved to work together, bilaterally and multilaterally, to promote a stable and rules-based Indo-Pacific region that would not only benefit Canada economically vis-à-vis India, but would serve to broaden our interests in the region and move us toward greater connectivity.
    To promote and sustain collaboration, Canada's national interests call for a stronger relationship with India. To this end, the prime ministers of Canada and India reinforced the architecture of our security partnership. A dialogue of national security advisers was institutionalized. Canada's national security and intelligence adviser met with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi just prior to the Prime Minister's visit, and concluded a framework agreement on countering terrorism and violent extremism. This framework agreement reaffirms the shared resolve of India and Canada to combat terrorism and violent extremism in all their forms and manifestations.
     Canada and India agreed to step up bilateral collaboration under a newly-formed national security advisers' dialogue, the joint working group on counterterrorism and its experts' sub-group. Both leaders agreed to work collaboratively to address the threat posed by cross-border and state-sponsored terrorism, stop sources of terrorist financing, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, prevent the supply of arms to terrorists, and to counter violent extremism and radicalization to violence.
    On broader defence and security issues, the leaders committed to develop bilateral defence co-operation by exploring possibilities in diverse fields, including cold climate training. They agreed that Canada and India would coordinate on cybersecurity and address cybercrimes at bilateral and multilateral fora going forward.
     India sent a high-level delegation to the Vancouver peacekeeping defence ministerial meeting in November 2017. It is the world's third largest contributor to international peacekeeping operations. The two leaders decided in India to enhance co-operation on peacekeeping to provide an effective response to global challenges. They stressed the importance of integrating gender perspectives into peace and security activities, and interventions in line with the women, peace and security agenda, including prevention of conflict-related sexual violence.
    Taken as a whole, this visit reflects an important step forward in the Canada-India relationship. There is much our two countries can offer each other, in commercial and security terms and in the fruits of collaboration in international fora. To recognize the future of this commercial partnership, Canada and India announced a new dialogue on innovation, growth, and prosperity. This is a collaboration between Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation and India's Gateway House. It will convene subject experts, government officials, and business leaders to promote economic growth and innovation in today's digital economy.
     It is unfortunate that, rather than celebrating all of the accomplishments, the opposition is using today to attack public servants and question their non-partisanship. I will say one more time that Canada's national security agencies are non-partisan, highly competent, and effective. We trust them to promote and protect the security of Canadians. That is why I will be voting against the motion.

  (1050)  

    

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to echo the remarks made by the member who just concluded his speech by saying that we need to have complete confidence in senior public servants. We totally agree.
    However, in order to build trust and ensure transparency, and to shed some light on these events, since everyone is getting caught up in the government's tangled web, the best way to proceed is to allow the individual who gave a technical briefing to journalists to speak. As a former journalist myself, I know what I am talking about.
    Why did a senior public servant give information to journalists and not to all Canadians?

  (1055)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as I said during the course of my speech, the invitation that was made to Mr. Atwal was inappropriate. Once the history of the individual was known, the invitation was rescinded. The member of Parliament who made the invitation apologized for that. We have been very clear on this all the way through the process.
    The member opposite talks about restoring trust in our public service. Frankly, over the period of time that the Conservatives were in government, we saw a sustained battering and attack on both the public service and its non-partisanship and independent nature, which we do not believe is appropriate. This is not a matter of restoring trust in those officials; I have trust in those officials. They have demonstrated that they do their job in a highly effective way. We trust them, their advice, and the non-partisan nature. We respect them, and the whole House should do the same.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, given that the various people involved, including the Prime Minister, are giving us contradictory versions of events, it is hypocritical to say that the opposition is not considering the point of view of security officials and public servants.
    The motion is calling for that public servant to appear before the committee precisely because the opposition feels that he is the only one who can set the record straight. That is why we want to speak with that individual, and not the Prime Minister or the member in question, because there is a perception that they will not tell the truth.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will say it again, and I suspect it will be said a lot today. There are not multiple versions of what happened. There is one version of what happened, and I will repeat it to be very clear.
     Mr. Atwal should not have been invited. We have acknowledge that this was the case. As soon as we found out the information on his background, the invitation in question was rescinded. The member of Parliament who made the invitation apologized. We have stated this a number of times.
    The advice that we get from the public service is at the core of the question of the opposition day motion. The motion calls into question the non-partisan nature of our public servants and the advice it gives, which we reject fully, completely, full stop.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, with all due respect, we are not calling public servants into question. The Prime Minister's trip to India was a disaster, and not just in Canada. It was an international disaster.
    We have indeed heard multiple versions, unlike what my colleague on the other side claims. He claims that there is just one version and that the Prime Minister apologized. The committee wants to hear from everyone, including a government official, because it seems to us on this side of the House that we are not getting the full story.
    When the Prime Minister plays Canadians for fools on the international stage, we need an explanation. This is important to me, because all Canadians were made to look like fools, not just the Prime Minister. With all due respect to the members of this House, no matter which side they are on, we need an explanation.

  (1100)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I reject categorically the member's characterization of the trip. I just spent 20 minutes detailing, in great length, the enormous connections and bilateral relationships that were deepened, the economic ties that were driven, and the importance of having face to face meetings and having our officials in India. It is unfortunate she does not share that same view. However, that relationship deserves this level of attention. The various connections and bilateral engagements that we made in the meetings and how they furthered our economic interests not only of our country but of India were essential. Therefore, I reject the premise of the question entirely.
    Second, the motion, absolutely, at its core is about attacking the independence and non-partisan nature of our public service. We have been very clear that we do not share that view. I was in opposition. I watched the previous government attack the public service and its independence, and we do feel that is appropriate. We do not feel the government should engage in or do that, and we will not do that.
    We want talk about our economic partnership with India and how it can continue to be deepened.
    Madam Speaker, could my colleague expand on his last point? When we recognize what I would call the economic superpower in India, with a population base of close to 1.5 billion, there is an obligation for a good government to reach out and build those very important bridges, which ultimately will help not only Canada but India in doing things such as building a healthier middle class in Canada. If we can enhance that relationship and build the trading relationship, both countries could benefit immensely. Perhaps he could provide his thoughts on that.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague is 100% right. His point is spot on. The reality is that the trade between our two countries has grown to be over $8 billion. Just since 2015, we have seen an increase of 6.6%, which represents about $2.3 billion in exchange both ways, every year. The opportunity that lies there is so much more than that. When we look at the size of our two GDPs and our two economies, this is what we hear from global experts. The possibility for greater economic integration and greater trade between our two countries means that way more can be done, both in growing our economy, creating more jobs for Canadians, and giving better access to Canadian companies to Indian markets. That is why this trade and continued dialogue with India is so essential.
    Madam Speaker, does the parliamentary secretary believe then that the request to bring Daniel Jean to the public safety committee to explain himself is a complete attack on all public service employees across Canada, including unionized members? How does he come to the conclusion that the request to bring one member before committee is reflective of every union and non-union public employee across the country?
    Madam Speaker, the quick answer is no. What I have said is that questioning the independence and the non-partisan nature of our public service is what I disagree with and take umbrage with. The invitation to have the individual before the committee is, in my view, inappropriate. There are other means and methods by which these matters should be examined. This is not the right direction or forum to take.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
    The previous speaker, the parliamentary secretary, provided quite an in-depth look at some of the issues related to trade, economic connections, and social and cultural connections with India. Quite frankly, this motion does not get into all those elements. What it deals with is a parliamentary process that is key to our democracy, here in the chamber and in our committees, which is having a witness testify before our committee. What has taken place is that the Liberals have decided to use this person as an example of all public servants, apparently, in terms of their coming before this committee being seen as an attack. This is really a turning point that is going to be very much objected to by many union and non-union public servants across this country.
    The mere suggestion that this would be an attack on the good men and women who serve this country every single day, whether it be at our borders or in our offices, internationally or domestically, is not only offensive but very unfortunate. It is very unfortunate that this has been characterized as an attack on the public service. I would impress upon the government that it move away from that discussion at this point. It is a rather unfortunate attempt to use the public service as a shield for problems the Liberal Party had with this trip.
    The motion is about one individual, who provided information and advice, as per the job, to the Prime Minister that refute some of the public comments his own party has made on the problematic trip to India, not only from the get-go but during it and after. To use that person as a shield for the Liberals' personal and political embarrassment is insulting and certainly derogatory.
    This request to have Mr. Jean come forward is reasonable and in order. It would only provide clarification. I would add that this person is probably not even representative of the hundreds of thousands of workers in the public service. There probably is a political appointment involved with this to some degree. If not, it does not matter. The Liberals should be ashamed. That they would actually politicize the collective work of our workers at their expense I think will make this a watershed moment.
    What has happened is that the Prime Minister's trip to India went off the rails. They admitted that 14 members and six cabinet ministers went along. They had 20 members go over there, and all kinds of things happened. These are things they are concerned about, whether it was flying chefs across the country and eventually to India, hiring for fashion design and photography, or the parties, where they ran out of booze. It became embarrassing. All those things happened, and their members were part of that and were there for that. It was supposed to be a positive public relations exercise and it has turned wrong.
    The serious nature of this is the defence of the Atwal situation. We have a person convicted of a very serious crime in Canada, who went through our court system, who was put on one of these party lists. There has been controversy, blaming, and finger pointing about how he got on that list. What was serious was the blame that went to the Indian government.
    They can write all they want about the positive things, such as trade with India and the cultural connections, all those things many of us experience in our ridings on a daily basis, but at the end of the day, with the finger pointing by the Prime Minister across the ocean to a foreign country, it became a very serious matter. It is one of the reasons they became an international laughingstock.

  (1105)  

    All one has to do is google this trip. For CNN, The Washington Post, and overseas media it not only became a story for the day but became a continuing story. Here we had the Prime Minister of one of the most important democracies in the world pointing the finger at another democracy, because he was politically embarrassed. That is not going to be un-watched, forgotten, or brushed under the covers. This is a pattern of behaviour. This is about a problem the government has.
    Unfortunately, the government would like that to go away, but this was all done with public money. This was all done under the rules and regulations of the democracy we have, and part of that is accountability. That is what the official opposition and our party are supposed to be doing. That is part of our democracy. It is a principle element to make sure that we are going to stay true to being open and transparent. Maybe we could debate the level of that, but there are certain laws.
    What happened is that we and the official opposition asked that this individual, in a key moment in diplomatic relations, which will not go away, come before committee. That is important, because he will have to give testimony, and it will have to be truthful or he will perjure himself. When people come before parliamentary committees, they have to provide the truth, or they will be subject to further punishment under the law.
    The concern of the Liberals is that the person would then lose his cover, and most importantly, the Liberals would lose their cover on something very embarrassing and very serious.
    Today's motion is very reasonable. The process would be televised. Canadians will be able to judge for themselves the politics of this. More importantly, the accountability of this House will be enshrined, and it will be determined whether appropriate things did or did not take place.
    We have had these watershed moments in the past. I have been around here long enough to have seen everything from the sponsorship scandal to the Schreiber-Mulroney issue and any number of different things. I am working right now on the issues related to Facebook and data privacy breaches. It actually goes back to the Liberal Party, as it is one of their creatures who was involved in this.
    The reality is that at least through that process at committee, there would be an accountable lens applied to our governing practices. The Liberals may not like that, but they have been on this end and they have been on that end. The reality is that this is what happens.
    That is why I take great offence to the Liberals saying that this is an attack on our public service. Under the previous administration, the Conservatives had practices that I did not like and did not support. There needed to be some serious talk about what was happening to scientists and a series of other things. We have seen some of that change, but very little.
    For the Liberals to suggest that the Conservatives are doing this as a broader attack on the people who get up every single day to provide services for Canadians is shameful, disrespectful, and harmful, and it further erodes the reasons people should be involved in the public service to begin with.
    We are talking about a senior position. It is someone who reports to the ministers and the Prime Minister and is expected to provide information and intelligence. The Prime Minister and ministers decide what to do with that. That is now being repeated by government members with respect to the Atwal situation and whether he gets an invite or does not get an invite, and who is at fault and who is not at fault.
     That has led to an international incident in the sense that we are now forever branded, under the current administration of the Indian government and our current Liberal government, as the government that is willing to point the finger and say that it does not really want to find out what took place on our soil with our own people. The Liberals will just say that it is that country's fault. That is not the way to go about work.

  (1110)  

    Madam Speaker, there are a few things we need to remember today. We are hearing one version from the Liberals.
    First of all, we need to remember Mr. Atwal's background. He is actually a long-time friend of the Liberal Party. He has known the Prime Minister in the past. For the Liberals to pretend that they do not know anything about him is just at attempt to mislead Canadians.
    The parliamentary secretary said that there is only one version of this. Well, there are actually four versions. There is Daniel Jean's version, there is the Prime Minister's version, there is the foreign affairs minister's version, and there is Mr. Atwal's version. It is reasonable for the opposition to be asking questions about which one of those is true.
    When the government says that it believes that there is a non-partisan public service and that it trusts our public service, what I think it is actually saying is that it trusts that Daniel Jean is not going to tell what really happened. That is one of the reasons I suspect the government is going to try to keep him from going to committee. I think when we hear from him, we will hear that the Liberals are using the non-partisan public service to try to achieve their goals.
    Why do you think Canadian MPs are being asked to settle for less information and less access to Mr. Jean than the media has already had?

  (1115)  

    I am sure the member meant “why he” and not “why you”. Again, it is important to address questions through the Chair.
    Madam Speaker, one of the key elements of our democracy, regardless of political party, is the standing committees of the House of Commons.
    The member is quite right to note the way information comes out. There are laws that govern that and follow through on that. There is the general court system for accountability when we leave the chamber, such as when a member slanders someone. More importantly, there is committee testimony. People giving committee testimony are accountable. I will give the House an example.
    Recently, all parties agreed to have Apple come before our committee to provide testimony about some of the issues it has had with regard to problems with batteries in its products. That was important, because Apple is now on the record. It is accountable to Canadians for what they should expect to receive.
    It is the same thing with Mr. Jean. His appearance at committee will be the moment when we get the absolute truth, which is the only way to go forward.
    Madam Speaker, I am disappointed in the NDP. Those members are claiming that this is not a question of confidence in the public service. National security agents and our public service are fantastic in what they do. They do their jobs in an apolitical fashion.
    Some members want to confront a civil servant for his professionalism, and because they choose to challenge him, they think it should be done. We have a public safety committee, and that committee, from what I understand, has the same motion in front of it. Why not let that committee deal with this? Why do we feel that we have to question the public service and the professionalism of a particular individual?
    Madam Speaker, I cannot say that I am unhappy that the parliamentary secretary is unhappy with the NDP or is disappointed in us. I would suggest that the mere fact that he was part of this trip should make him want to recuse himself from some of the discussions taking place here today.
    Having said that, we are talking about one individual. We can see in that member's remarks that he is trying to lump all civil servants together, and we can follow this through later on. We are talking about one person in the motion today. What that member is referring to now is the entire public service.
     I would suggest that having openness and transparency shed on this Liberal adventure, which was more a debacle for the rest of us, is important. It is not just the NDP saying this. The member just needs to google The Washington Post or CNN to see what the world is saying about this trip by the Prime Minister.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, today we are discussing a motion to instruct one of our public officers to appear before a committee to try to shed some light on a situation about which we have heard far too many stories.
    This situation occurred during the trip to India. I think is important to present some of the key aspects of the trip. First of all, most Canadians have absolutely no idea what the strategy was behind this trip and this is true of various aspects. For example, when it comes to the criteria the Prime Minister used for determining who would join him on the trip, there is no way of getting a guest list or understanding exactly the purpose of the trip. I think that there were a number of ministers who could have made a valuable contribution to the debate in India and that it would have been important to include them, but they were not there.
    Why was the Minister of International Trade not there? That is an important question. I would think that in planning a trip to India, the Minister of International Trade would have a stake. What is more, if he had been there, then there would have been at least one person there who can speak French. I think we have every right to ask that question.
    One of the people whose name came up the most often was the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. I think that he should have been there, given the trade issues regarding chickpeas and lentils. India has increased import tariffs on chickpeas from 30% to 40%. That has a direct impact on our farmers and yet neither the Minister of International Trade nor the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food were there to talk about it. That alone raises a number of questions, but the list goes on.
    Right now, there is an unprecedented labour shortage in our rural regions. Why did the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship not go on that trip to discuss the possibility of establishing partnerships to recruit workers who would be interested in coming to Canada to work? That would have been a very relevant and worthwhile discussion.
    Recently, we learned that companies are now subcontracting the reading of X-rays to India. Hospitals are sending X-rays and other scans to specialized medical clinics in India to be read. Had the Minister of Health been invited, she could have raised the legitimate concern of the reliability of those readings. She also could have raised the question that many Canadians are asking about this practice, and that is whether their personal medical data is adequately protected when the analysis of X-ray results are subcontracted to India. That would have been a very relevant question, and in my opinion, the Minister of Health could have contributed to that debate. However, she was not there either.
    They also chose not to take the Minister of Status of Women even though India is among the countries where women have the most difficult living conditions. Absolutely horrible cases of gang rapes of women of the lowest castes have been reported by the media. I believe that the Minister of Status of Women could have had fruitful discussions with the Indian government about what is happening and assessed how to collaborate and provide India with tools to improve the quality of life of these women. However, she was not there either. What was the strategy and the purpose of this trip? What were they trying to accomplish?
    I am going to talk a little about the schedule because MPs, when they are available, are asked to travel abroad to discuss issues. When I travel abroad, I always have an extremely busy schedule. Honestly, between my work day and a working dinner in the evening, I often have barely enough time to change. I change in five minutes and go from one event to the next. I do not understand how the Prime Minister had so much time to go sightseeing everywhere. It seemed much more like a sightseeing tour than a prime minister's state visit.

  (1120)  

     For such a trip, I expect the Prime Minister to attend a series of meetings on a tight schedule and have very little opportunity to go sightseeing, or at least keep it very brief. When a Prime Minister travels abroad, he is expected to meet with people, visit companies, and do a very serious job with specific objectives.
     Unfortunately, there were not very many photos of the Prime Minister having meetings. Instead, we saw a lot of pictures of the Prime Minister visiting tourist attractions with his wife and children. That raises questions, particularly given his headline-making trip to the Aga Khan’s island. The Prime Minister should have shown restraint, and he should request that his trips be strictly professional from now on, so there is no longer any doubt as to what they are for. It is too bad that there were no specific visits or a structured, goal-oriented agenda for his India trip.
    The disaster in question is the invitation sent to Mr. Atwal, who attended an event, by the way. It was only after the second event that this invitation was withdrawn, when it was realized that he was there. We heard different versions from a lot of people: from the Prime Minister, from the Minister of International Trade, from Mr. Atwal himself, from the member who decided to take the blame, and even from the Indian government. Nothing in this story holds water. Indeed, one of our public servants, who is non-partisan, is not permitted to appear before a committee. This makes absolutely no sense. If someone is able to provide the most impartial and accurate information, it would be precisely this person. It therefore makes absolutely no sense to refuse to hear from this individual in committee. We need some light shed on this, especially given the situation this has thrown us into.
     Our diplomatic relations with India are a disaster, since the Prime Minister accused it of being behind this invitation. This is totally ludicrous. What is more, he did it without providing hard evidence, which makes it even worse. If solid evidence had been provided, I would have found it a little strange, but at least there would have been some proof. Not only did the Prime Minister suggest this, but he did so without providing any evidence to either the House or the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. It is all very disturbing.
    This is a member of the Commonwealth, a country that swears allegiance to the same Crown as we do. I have had the chance to meet with several of its members of parliament. It is a country that we have a relationship with, and yet, this has been allowed to happen and nothing is being done to remedy the situation. The incident occurred almost a month ago and they are still sticking to the same story, despite its many holes and the fact that it is undermining our relationship, rather than putting a stop to all of this.
    The trip was an unmitigated disaster, but now it is high time to end this farce. We need to know what really happened, and those who provided inaccurate information need to apologize so we can move forward and rebuild our relationship with India. Unfortunately, because both parties are determined to stick to their contradictory versions of events and refusing to shed light on what happened, our relations with India remain strained.
     This situation could have consequences for months, if not years to come. This could even have repercussions on the relationships that subsequent governments will have with India. This is particularly worrisome. The least they could do is to allow Daniel Jean to appear before a committee, given the mess that the Prime Minister has put us in.

  (1125)  

     I look forward to my colleagues’ questions.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my NDP colleague for her great speech. She raises a good point. Indeed, Canadians were under the impression that this was a family trip.
     The Prime Minister, statesmen and stateswomen, MPs and ministers keep a very tight schedule when they travel abroad. They have very little time for photo ops complete with costume changes. They also have little time to visit the Taj Mahal and surrounding area. Responsible statesmen and stateswomen, MPs and ministers are on a tight schedule.
     Does my colleague get the impression that they are still pulling a fast one on us?

  (1130)  

    Madam Speaker, I will give another example. If Mr. Trump invited the Prime Minister to a state dinner in the United States, it would be appropriate for him to be accompanied by his wife and children, as our American colleague would likely do the same.
    However, if the Prime Minister is travelling abroad with 14 members of Parliament, then it is to do work. A group of 14 people travelling together would fill a bus. I think that is a clear indication that they are there to work. I was surprised to see that the Prime Minister found the time to visit tourist attractions with 14 members of Parliament in tow.
    I am not sure how we got here. To me this is an absurd situation. If the Prime Minister had to attend meetings with each MP, that would mean 14 meetings a day, assuming that the MPs in question had only one meeting per day. I do not understand how the Prime Minister found the time to do anything but attend meetings with the 14 MPs who joined him.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, shortly, I will be afforded the opportunity to address the motion and at that point I will talk about that special relationship between two great nations and expand on that.
    I was intrigued by my New Democratic colleague when she said that we should have had this or that minister go. With a country like India of 250 million and growing potential in terms of that relationship, one could argue that virtually all ministers could have gone. If I listened correctly to the member across the way, maybe that is what she was suggesting.
    Are there any ministers that she believes should not have gone on that trip? On this trip there were a number of ministers who went and a number of members of Parliament, including me, but are there ministers she believes should not have gone?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, had I planned the trip to India, I would have given priority to certain ministers over others who went on the trip.
    I realize that not all ministers can go. That is why I named five ministers. If my memory serves me well, there are 30 ministers in the cabinet. I do not think I named all cabinet members.
    I also did not say that all the ministers should have gone. I said that there was no strategy for choosing them. I do not understand how they decided that these six ministers should participate and not others. I cannot get an answer to my question, but if my colleague wants to give it to me or table it in the House, he is welcome to do so.
    I would like to know what criteria the cabinet used to determine which ministers went to India. I will wait impatiently for the parliamentary secretary to provide the list of criteria used to pick the members of the delegation that travelled to India.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to announce that I will be sharing my time with the member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin. I would like to read from page 24 of a document that was published almost three years ago. It says, “It is time to shine more light on government...” It is the Liberal Party of Canada who said that, and it is true. The time has come for the Liberal government to shine some light on the pathetic scandal concerning Mr. Atwal and the Prime Minister of Canada.
    As the saying goes, one lie begets another, and that is exactly what happened with the scandal involving Mr. Atwal and the Liberal Prime Minister of Canada. Unfortunately for us all, our Prime Minister disgraced Canada and Canadians around the world during his infamous mission to India. There was a dramatic and appalling incident the likes of which have never been seen in the history of Canada: a criminal attended a diplomatic event that the Prime Minister was also expected to attend.
     I will not discuss in detail the trip during which we saw the Prime Minister spend eight days with six ministers and 14 other members, take pictures of everything, change his clothes five times a day every day of the week and show up at events dressed up in native costumes while everyone else was wearing Western garb. I will not discuss that. Nor will I discuss the fact that the Minister of Agriculture, and God knows that that was important, did not participate in the mission. However, I will discuss the biggest blunder, the presence of criminal Jaspal Atwal.
     Who is this man? In 1986, Jaspal Atwal was found guilty of the attempted murder of an Indian minister in Vancouver. The House will probably remember that, during question period, my colleague, the hon. member for Yellowhead, described a situation that deeply moved me. He had witnessed the police operation leading to the arrest of the criminal when he was an RCMP officer. Jaspal Atwal was found guilty of attempted murder. The same Jaspal Atwal was present at the events surrounding the Prime Minister’s visit to India.
    Here is the sequence of events that led to today’s motion to have Daniel Jean, the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, appear before a parliamentary committee. The criminal Atwal was present at an official event during a Canadian diplomatic mission to Mumbai, and that is when our suspicions were aroused. Mr. Atwal had his picture taken with all sorts of people, including our Prime Minister’s wife. I call him our Prime Minister because he is every Canadian’s prime minister. Unfortunately, he has not been up to the task, and he has not acted with the dignity befitting his position. When these events unfolded, when Mr. Atwal was found in attendance at a diplomatic event in Mumbai, the CBC began asking questions and uncovered the truth, identifying him. It then began to ask what a criminal was doing at such an event. That is when the Prime Minister had to come up with an explanation. He immediately said that it was the hon. member for Surrey Centre who had invited Atwal. He said that the hon. member took full responsibility for the event.
     First of all, and I will be frank, it is very cowardly on the part of a prime minister to lay the blame on someone else. When you are a leader, you must assume full responsibility for your troops. You do not find a scapegoat and say, “You're responsible. You're taking the blame, I'm out of here.” A leader assumes full responsibility for his troops. In this case, he did not, and what comes next is even worse. Since the situation began to escalate, the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada, Daniel Jean, met with journalists to give them a technical briefing on the situation. I was a journalist for 20 years, and I have been to dozens, even hundreds of these meetings. They are always interesting, because they give us a glimpse of the details about very specific situations, numbers, data and statistics that are not necessarily interesting to the public, but that allow us to get a better grasp of the situation.

  (1135)  

     At that technical briefing, the National Security Advisor did not talk about how many Canadians eat cereal in the morning. What he said was far more political. According to the media, at that briefing, the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada said that the criminal Atwal’s presence was a plot orchestrated by the Indian government.
     I like history, but try as I might, I could not remember one situation in the history of Canadian diplomacy that was as embarrassing, as shameful or as irresponsible as this one.
     Need I point out that India is a Commonwealth country, that we have very close ties with India and that we need to preserve them? This situation with the criminal Atwal at a diplomatic event completely severed the bonds of trust and friendship that we need to have with a country as important as India. That the Prime Minister asked the senior official responsible for national security to meet with journalists to tell them something like that is of serious consequence.
     That is where all the contradictions start. In the House on February 27, the Prime Minister agreed with the version given the journalists by his National Security Advisor to explain the presence of the criminal Atwal, in other words that it was an plot fomented by the Indian government. The next day, on February 28, India, highly offended, vigorously denied this version of the facts and squarely laid the blame on our Prime Minister. I say “our” Prime Minister because the entire country is now paying for the Liberal Prime Minister’s mistake.
     So, on February 27, the Prime Minister told the House that he agreed with his National Security Advisor’s position that he was the victim of an Indian conspiracy. On March 3, we heard from the hon. member for Surrey Centre, the guy the Prime Minister picked out of a hat and blamed, then tossed aside like an old slipper. The hon. member said that it was his fault, that he was the one who had invited Atwal. This contradicts what the Prime Minister said, in other words that India was behind it all.
    That is not all. On March 9, the criminal Atwal, not without pointing out that he knew the Prime Minister very well, not without pointing out that he had participated in dozens and dozens of Liberal Party activities in his part of the country, said that he received the invitation from the High Commission, that he honoured the invitation and that India had nothing to do with it. This contradicts the Prime Minister’s version.
     Lastly, on March 11, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is not exactly a nobody in cabinet, said, “It’s an honest mistake.” It is an honest mistake on Canada’s part.
     So who is telling the truth? Is it the Prime Minister, who is relying on his senior official who is telling all the journalists that it is a conspiracy, or is it the hon. member for Surrey Centre, who is saying that he is at fault? Is it the senior official who says one thing, or is it Atwal, who says that he is responsible, that he went on his own? Or is it the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who says that it was an honest mistake?
     That is what I was saying. When you do not tell the truth, you end up stuck in a web of lies. That is the issue here, and that is why it is at the heart of the motion.
     The motion put forward by my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles would finally allow Canadians to learn the truth.
     Here is a senior official, Daniel Jean, who met with journalists to make serious accusations, to say that India was responsible for having the criminal Atwal show up at diplomatic events. That is what he said. Great. He said that to journalists, who wrote it down. Also great. Now, let him tell that directly to Canadians.
     That is what we are asking, but, oh, what a surprise, these people who got elected by saying that it was time for a transparent government are refusing Canadians the most basic transparency: allowing people who said things to journalists to testify before a committee. Why such obfuscation? The best way for Canadians to finally learn the truth is for them to hear this guy testify rather than continue to cover it up.

  (1140)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the issue is actually fairly clear. All sides have said that the invitation should never have been sent. We recognize that. We have said that on numerous occasions. Once the government found out that the invitation was sent, it was rescinded, meaning the person in question was not able to go to the second event. That is what would have been expected of any government.
     However, when we look at the simple facts of that, the opposition wants to try to bring in someone from the public service, someone who has an incredible record within the public service, which represents Canadian interests and is non-partisan. Given the simple truth of the matter, why do the Conservatives, and somehow they have coerced the NDP to come on side, feel they should be able to pick and choose public servants, whoever they might be, today it is this one, on any issue whatsoever they choose to make political?

  (1145)  

    Madam Speaker, the issue here is so important that we need clarification. There are so many different ways to explain it. We want the truth, not only for us but for all Canadians. If the journalists had the chance, privilege, and the authority to receive that kind of briefing from this high-ranking civil servant, all Canadians deserve that too. There are so many contradictions with the government.
    First, the Prime Minister said that this was a conspiracy created by India. However, it was contradicted by the member for Surrey Centre who said many times that he was the one who decided to welcome this guy. This was a contradiction of the criminal, Atwal, who said that he got there by himself. This was a contradiction of the Minister of Foreign Affairs who said that it was an honest mistake.
     Is it an honest mistake, as the top ranking Minister of Foreign Affairs said, or is it a conspiracy as per the Prime Minister? We want the truth.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. We are familiar with his journalistic standards. He really gave us a factual account of the progression of the scandal. I cannot find another word to describe it. It is a scandal.
     Now I would like to benefit from his analysis, whether political or journalistic. Why are the Liberals refusing to answer? Why did they adjourn the proceedings at committee when it came time to talk about it? Now we have to discuss this motion. Why are we hearing all sorts of diversions today from our Liberal colleagues participating in the debate?
     Why?
    Madam Speaker, unfortunately, as the old saying goes, one lie begets another. At first, the Prime Minister said it was the hon. member’s fault. Then he changed his tune and said that it was not the hon. member’s fault, that it was a plot fomented by the Indian government, as his senior official said. This contradicts what the hon. member for Surrey Centre said and what the criminal Atwal is saying, and it is in direct contradiction with what the Minister of Foreign Affairs said. The only way to shed light on the situation is to allow Mr. Jean to testify before all Canadians, the way he did before a number of journalists.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, there are several different stories, as my colleague has pointed out so well. We want to find out what is actually going on here.
    The government's argument is that somehow the public service is being impacted. Could the member tell me if he thinks the national security adviser to the Prime Minister is just one more public servant? Could he also tell why the government is refusing to allow the national security adviser to come into an environment where he can speak freely to members of Parliament.
    Madam Speaker, if the journalists had the chance to have that kind of briefing, all Canadians must have that kind of briefing.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this today. One of the things that we have noticed over the course of the last two and a half years is that the hallmarks of the Liberal government seem to be arrogance and attacks, constant arrogance and constant attacks.
    We heard it today from the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. He used a common approach earlier today. The Liberals use this approach oftentimes whenever anybody criticizes the government. They refer to the election of 2015 as though, somehow, because 40% of the people that voted in Canada voted for them, there should be no opposition in this country.
    When we take a look at what Canadians voted for in 2015, it is kind of interesting. They voted for a promise of democratic reform, for example, a promise that was completely broken by the Liberal party. We had opposition members from all parties come together on a proposal for electoral reform. A committee put together by the government recommended to the government an avenue, but because it was not the Liberal avenue, the avenue the Liberals wanted, they rejected it wholeheartedly. Then what did they do? Of course, they blamed the opposition.
    The Liberals promised modest budget deficits in their platform and a balanced budget by the next year. Of course, we are nowhere near a balanced budget. We are going to be running deficits for decades to come. However, every time the opposition raises a question, a legitimate question about a promise that was made in the platform and completely ignored, all we get is attacks from the government.
     The Liberals promised a new era of accountability and transparency. How did that go for them? We saw over the course of the last year, as we discussed in this place, the Prime Minister's visit to the Aga Khan's private island. There were legitimate questions that were ultimately borne out by the Ethics Commissioner in her report, a scathing report. All through that year, every single question, every legitimate question was met with accusations of mudslinging by the opposition.
    We were promised sunny ways in this place, a new era of sunny ways. Then, this morning when we were raising a very legitimate question about our relationship with the world's largest democracy, the hon. parliamentary secretary referred to it as character assassination. Somehow by raising these legitimate questions it is character assassination because we have the gall to suggest as parliamentarians that a senior public servant would appear before a parliamentary committee. Somehow that is character assassination.
    How did we get here? Let us take a look at that.
    The parliamentary secretary talked about the contrast between former prime minister Stephen Harper and the current Liberal Prime Minister. I found a little research on that contrast. I found a Canadian Press article from 2012 after Prime Minister Harper visited India. Here was some of the coverage. This is symbolic of the coverage that came out at that point:
    Harper has made encouraging the flow of trade between Canada and India the focus of his six-day visit to the rapidly growing South Asian nation.
    He has said repeatedly that Canada needs to branch out past its usual trading partners if it wants to weather the international economic storm....
    He went through all the elements of his government's strategy for bringing stability to the economy—the “five t's” he called it: more trade, lower taxes, more training, the transformation of government process to get rid of red tape, and support for technology and research.
    Those were the good old days. Because the parliamentary secretary wants to contrast things today, we contrast this with a CNN article following the current Liberal Prime Minister's trip to India. Here is what CNN had to say. This is how Canada's Prime Minister is viewed on the world stage:
     [The] Canadian Prime Minister...'s scandal-ridden trip to India may be over, but the controversy surrounding it refuses to go away.
    [The Prime Minister] has become embroiled in a fresh spat, following his apparent endorsement of allegations that factions within the Indian government had actively sought to undermine his visit to the country last week.
    The comments, made during [the Prime Minister]'s first parliamentary session since returning to Canada, provoked a swift rebuke from the Indian government, with a spokesman for India's foreign ministry labeling the suggestion “baseless and unacceptable.”

  (1150)  

    The CNN story goes on to talk a bit about the background and describes some of the bewilderment that Canadians must feel when they are looking at the situation. The article states:
    It remains unclear how Atwal, a known militant who in 1987 was sentenced to 20 years in a Canadian court for his part in the attempted murder of a visiting Indian state minister, managed to obtain a visa to enter into India.
    Atwal was one of four men who ambushed and shot Malkiat Singh Sidhu, a then-member of Punjab's cabinet, who was visiting Canada for a relative's wedding, badly wounding him.
    In the sentencing, the judge called the crime “an act of terrorism in order to advance a cause.”
    This is CNN's story, which I will read one more quote from, because it is unbelievable that this is the face of Canada on the world stage today because of this trip. It quoted India's Ministry of External Affairs as stating:
    The Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian High Commissioner's reception in New Delhi. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable....
    That is the way the world is viewing the situation, and that is what is leading to some of the confusion that we are dealing with today.
    Then we come to the debate in Parliament and an opportunity for the opposition to question the government on these conflicting stories. We come to some interviews that have been conducted, and members who are involved in the story commenting on some of these things.
    On February 27, our leader asked this question of the Prime Minister:
    Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister tell the House whether anyone in his office arranged, organized or participated in the media briefing provided to reporters that included the allegation that the Government of India was somehow involved in his embarrassing blunder in India?
    Of course the Prime Minister replied, “When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it is because they know it to be true.”
    We have the Indian government saying it is not true and we have Canada's Prime Minister saying it is known to be true. Clearly, we have a problem here.
    Further on, the member of the NDP caucus for Timmins—James Bay asked the Prime Minister another question. The Prime Minister, in his response, said, “The member responsible for the invitation has taken full responsibility, and I will be following up with that member later this afternoon.”
    Now it is even more confusing. We have the Prime Minister, the same day in question period, saying that the story told by the senior diplomat is true but also that the member for Surrey Centre is fully responsible, which are two conflicting things.
    Then we move on and we have the foreign affairs minister weighing in with an answer in an interview recently. She said, “So Evan, what I'd like to say about that is that obviously it was a mistake that Mr. Atwal was initially invited to that reception in Delhi, and it was the right thing to do to appreciate that this was a mistake and to withdraw the invitation; and, you know, it's very good that we did that. I was in Delhi on that day, and I had a meeting with my Indian counterpart...the Indian foreign minister”, and this is really interesting, she said, “I started off the meeting by saying to her that it had been an honest mistake and that the invitation had been withdrawn”.
    The Indian government is saying that none of what was said by the senior Canadian official was true and we have our Minister of Foreign Affairs meeting with her Indian counterpart and starting off the meeting by saying to her that it had been an honest mistake and that the invitation had been withdrawn. We can understand that Canadians would be rightfully confused by the situation we are facing right now.
    I have been a member of Parliament for 12 years. I have sat on many committees and had the opportunity to hear from dozens of public servants on issues that matter to Canadians. I want to know from the Liberal Party why this case is any different.

  (1155)  

    Madam Speaker, it is always interesting when we hear from hon. members who were previously in government and their recollection of the glory days of the Stephen Harper government. What they do not tell us is that during those glory days, the 10 years Stephen Harper was in power, they had the lowest GDP growth since the dirty thirties. They ran deficits. They are vehemently anti-deficit when they are in opposition, but when they were in government they ran deficits nine out of 10 years, and they had the worse job creation record since the 1950s.
    Does the hon. member realize that in the last two years our country has created over 600,000 jobs? Does he realize that unemployment is at its lowest rate in 40 years? Does he realize that during the last trip to India over $1 billion of trade arrangements were made between Canada and India, adding another 6,000 full-time, well-paying jobs to our country?

  (1200)  

    Madam Speaker, first, in 2015 the budget was balanced. We constantly hear Liberal members of Parliament talk about how fantastic the economy is today. My question simply is this. How in the world could we be running an $18 billion deficit with no plans to get back to budget balance for decades if the Liberal government has done such a fantastic job? I think that answers the question.
    I also want to highlight the ridiculousness of the Liberal position. We are having a debate about whether to invite a public servant to a committee on the Atwal affair and the member of Parliament does not ask a question about that at all. The Liberals have absolutely no rationale for that, and this just simply highlights that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will try very hard to address my question to you.
    Concerning the trip to India we have been speaking about since this morning, I wonder whether my colleague had the chance to read the La Presse article of March 14 in which the High Commissioner of India to Canada and the High Commissioner of Canada to India are quoted. A conference on international relations took place in Montreal on March 13, and I had the honour of attending. The High Commissioner of India to Canada said that he believed that the Prime Minister’s visit to India was very important, but that it found its way into the news for the wrong reasons.
     These are people who know what was going on at the time. The aim was to develop and broaden relations between the two countries, and they succeeded. There were several meetings between ministers, and everything went well.
     There are 1.4 billion people in India. It is an English-speaking Commonwealth country. It is one of the countries with which we could do the most business.
     Can you tell us about the economic benefits?
    I would like to remind hon. members that they must address their questions to the Speaker and not directly to the other members. I am certain that the hon. member was not asking my opinion.
     I will allow the hon. member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin to answer.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is rare for me to stand up and agree with a member of the Liberal Party, but I wholeheartedly agree that a visit of the Prime Minister to any foreign country is important. I wholeheartedly agree that this particular visit made all sorts of media coverage all around the world, for all the wrong reasons. That is exactly why we need to vote for the motion and shed some light on why that happened.
    Mr. Speaker, the motion specifically puts into question the professionalism of some of our most senior public servants. Members of the opposition parties can say whatever they like, but let us not forget the professionalism that is brought to the table day in and day out by our civil servants. These individuals are at the top of their careers. When they make these statements, they do it with professionalism. They bring to the table a great deal of experience and expertise and reflect what is in Canada's and Canadians' best interests.
    When it comes time to vote on this resolution, I would encourage members to reflect on what the hidden agenda of Canada's official opposition party is. I would argue that we are doing a disservice by suggesting that the motion should actually pass.
    There are a number of things I would like to share with the House. The mover of the motion talked very quickly and off topic. He was not really talking about why civil servants should be coming forward; rather, he attacked the Prime Minister, and a member made reference to my question about character assassination. The member continued to compare Stephen Harper's trip in 2012 to what has taken place this year. He said Prime Minister Harper went to India and promoted trade. However, he did not share the full story about that trip to India.
    I was sitting in the opposition when Stephen Harper went to India. The member did not tell the House that Stephen Harper had to bring his car with him, I guess because he did not have confidence in the vehicles in India. It cost $1 million. That made some headlines.
    Even if that had been in the headlines, I would still not underestimate the importance when a prime minister travels abroad in order to enhance relationships. When the mover of the motion talked about a comparison, members across laughed when I said I would compare the Harper administration any day to this administration. They are very proud of Stephen Harper and good for them. They can get behind him all they want, but I can tell them that the Prime Minister is very much in touch with Canadians. We have a prime minister who actually holds public town halls in the different regions of Canada affording Canadians the opportunity to ask the questions they feel are important. The Prime Minister has been in Winnipeg twice hosting those types of forums. That is one of the major differences between the two prime ministers.
    When I look at the India trip, yes, there were some very important things taking place even back in 2012. I will acknowledge that. In 2012, not only did I criticize Stephen Harper for taking the car over, to the tune of $1 million, but I also acknowledged, whether I was speaking at gurdwaras or within my community, that having the prime minister travel to India is a good thing.

  (1205)  

    I believe that the opposition, a joint opposition nowadays, is doing a disservice to that wonderful relationship that we have with India today.
    An hon. member: No way.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Yes, way.
    Mr. Speaker, they do not even realize that.
    We have a growing Indo-Canadian community. It is one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada today. We can look at the city of Winnipeg and the impact that community has had on Winnipeg over the last 10, 20, 30 years. It is virtually second to no other community. In fact, in the north end, it is one of the driving forces behind the economic activity we are seeing in a very real and tangible way.
    One of the greatest assets we have as a nation is our diversity. If we look at the Indo-Canadian community in particular with over a million people of Indo-Canadian heritage, it should be a given that any prime minister would make India a priority, as this Prime Minister has done.
    Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,000 Canadian businesses in one form or another today have some sort of economic link to India. That number is growing every year. Hundreds of those businesses actually have a physical presence in India. Those individuals are helping create jobs here in Canada and in India.
    Do the Conservatives and their NDP friends, who want to help them a lot nowadays, recognize the many benefits that were derived out of that trip? They want to focus on an innocent mistake as opposed to talking about the opportunities. If they got in touch with their constituents, they would find that India is a country that warrants the attention this government is giving it. If we continue to develop those relationships, both countries will benefit. That is really what that trip was all about.
    Imagine $1 billion of extra activity between two countries in good part because of that trip, at least partly as a direct result of the trip. That will generate thousands of jobs for Canadians. We do not hear opposition members recognizing that, but that is fine. They do not have to. We are not twisting their arms.
    I would have been more encouraged by the debate if the opposition motion had been about how important it is that Canada build a stronger relationship with India, maybe even looking at ways to enhance trade between the two countries.
    I was at a Canada House event one evening where businesses, non-profits, and others were in attendance. I was part of many of the informal discussions that were taking place. The Prime Minister addressed that group and talked about the importance of the relationship between India and Canada. Not only were people there appreciating what he had to say but there must have been dozens of phones recording what was being said by the Prime Minister, and I suspect it was all over social media.
    When the Prime Minister of Canada makes a trip of that nature, we cannot buy that kind of advertising for Canada in India. It just cannot be bought. The amount of attention that was given because our Prime Minister went to India is significant among the people of India and also back home in Canada.

  (1210)  

    Many members of the Indo-Canadian community in particular have approached me and talked to me about the trip in a positive fashion. I can count on one hand, and maybe only use two fingers of that hand, the criticisms that have been brought to my attention personally on the issue. However, I would need a lot more than two hands to count the amount of appreciation that I have witnessed just from one community alone in regard to the benefits of the trip. I understand and appreciate just how important that trip was. It was about building relationships.
    The New Democrats talk about the 14 MPs and I believe it was six ministers who went. I was one of those members of Parliament who went. I paid my own way to get there, but I can tell those members that I enjoyed the experience. I had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of individuals. I was able to speak to students at elementary and secondary schools and at colleges, to share all sorts of wonderful ideas and thoughts about how important it is that we continue to build those bridges. It was a fantastic experience. Most of my time was spent in the Punjab, one of the states I truly enjoy being in. I have been there before. Many of my constituents spend the months of January and February and even longer in the Punjab region of India. These ties give Canada a strategic advantage over other countries in the world. We should be fostering and encouraging that wherever we can.
    Let us look at some of the benefits. I made reference to $1 billion. A billion dollars is a significant amount of money. On an annual basis, we are talking about 40,000 jobs, if we were to allocate it just to minimum wage jobs here in Canada. A billion dollars is a lot of money. More significant than that $1 billion is the amount of trade between Canada and India today. I believe it is just over $8 billion. In the last year or so, it has increased significantly. I suggest that if the opposition members were to open their eyes and get a better understanding of the potential that is there through an enhanced relationship between Canada and India, that number could increase dramatically, and I believe that it will. A good reason for it to increase is that we have a government in Canada today that has a very proactive approach on trade and is very much interested in what is taking place in India.
    I was amazed. As I said, I spent most of my time in the Punjab. When the Prime Minister came to the Golden Temple, there were banners and thousands of people who wanted to see him. It is truly encouraging, and we should be proud of that fact, no matter what side of the House we sit on, because we cannot buy that type of public relations and advertising within the country of India.
    I had no sense of what the international media were reporting here, but in India thePrime Minister was exceptionally well received, from what I could see. At the events that I participated in, a couple of them in New Delhi but otherwise in the Punjab, there was that recognition when talking to people, “Oh, yes, the Prime Minister of Canada is here.”

  (1215)  

    I have been to India before, and I have never seen a past prime minister receive the type of recognition this Prime Minister received in terms of having that physical presence in the country.
    When we talk about that event, I posed this in one of my questions with regard to Mr. Atwal. Unfortunately, an invite went out that should not have, and when it was discovered it was rescinded. Rescinded means that it was taken away, and that the individual in question did not show up at Canada's High Commission. At the end of the day, at times mistakes happen. The government has been straightforward with that issue. However, what we see now is a concentrated attempt from the opposition to say that it wants this civil servant to come before a standing committee.
    A couple of thoughts come to mind offhand. First and foremost, I believe we have a professional civil servant with an incredible career who acts in the best interests of Canadians, who did his job, and now, because the opposition wants to stir a pot and cause other issues, it says it wants him to come to committee. It wants to politicize it. Yes, that is what it is attempting to do. There is a standing committee for this. The Conservatives have already attempted to get the standing committee to deal with it. Standing committees operate on their own. Leave it with the standing committee, and let us see what happens.
    I have been a parliamentarian for a good number of years, over 25 years or somewhere around there. At the end of the day, I have the deepest amount of respect for the fine work civil servants do. The Conservatives will argue today that this is an outstanding situation, and that they need to have this civil servant come before them, so they can ask him their politically charged questions. Well, they could make that argument for every public civil servant. On virtually any given day, they could be challenging civil servants to come before a committee of the House. Any opposition could generate why it believes a particular civil servant should be called before a committee of the House. Today, it just happens to be that civil servant.
    If there was any sort of an official opposition that had confidence in the public service, as we do on this side, I do not believe we would be seeing this motion before the House today. If the Conservatives were true to their thoughts and feelings with regard to the importance of international trade, I would have suggested that today would have been a better day spent debating potential trade and other related issues with India. For example, I would like to hear what members across the way think we can do to continue to enhance those trade opportunities. We have so much in common with India, for example, a member of the Commonwealth, democracy, and a free market system. Most importantly, again from my perspective, we have an Indo-Canadian community of over a million people.
    There are so many possibilities, and the sky is virtually unlimited in terms of how we can continue to build those bridges between Canada and India. The relationship today is far better between Canada and India than it was two years ago, and it will continue to get better. I predict now, and make it very clear, that we will continue to see more relationships being built, and more trade opportunities between both great nations.

  (1220)  

    
    Before I go to questions and comments, I do not know what it is about that member, but everybody from the opposite side wants to help him out. When you ask a question, you wait for the answer. That is the way it works here, so I do not want to hear any yelling back and forth.
    The hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it feels so good to be able to say “Mr.”
     I have a lot of trouble with the speech my colleague across the aisle delivered with such passion. We know that he absolutely hates former prime minister Stephen Harper, but I would just like to point out that the former prime minister is no longer here. We can bad-mouth him whenever we like but, but today, the question is not what the former prime minister did, but what my colleague’s Prime Minister did in India.
     My colleague spoke passionately about the relations we need to have with other countries. We are all in agreement here. We are even more in agreement that we have enormous confidence in the officers of Parliament. That is precisely why the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security wants to meet with Mr. Jean. The reason is that we no longer trust the Prime Minister. I know that I, personally, have lost confidence in him.
    They talk, they talk, and they talk, but they forgot to talk about what happened in India, the excesses of certain boozy evenings when the Crown Royal was freely flowing. What they are not telling us is that there needs to be a certain model for foreign trips. What is asked of any prime minister from any side to the House is to be professional.
     Can our esteemed colleague across the way tell us just how proud he was of all of his prime minister’s costumes and just how ashamed and embarrassed Canadians were of what they saw not only in the Canadian press but also the international media?

  (1225)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I drew the comparison between Stephen Harper and our Prime Minister, because members of her own caucus were baiting the issue of the difference between the two.
    When Stephen Harper went to India, he talked about trade. Our Prime Minister went to India, and he talked about trade as well. We talked about it, and we will see approximately $1 billion in additional commerce taking place. That will create thousands of additional jobs. We also talked about the middle class. Prime Minister Modi and our Prime Minister talked about the importance of the middle class not only in India, but also here at home.
    That member talks about the Prime Minister being dressed in a Punjabi suit. What is wrong with that? Stephen Harper also went to the Golden Temple, and I did not criticize him for doing that. I thought it was a good thing for him to do. Equally, it was a good thing for our Prime Minister to do. To wear the Punjabi suit is a wonderful thing, and I appreciate that. I have also worn a Punjabi suit. There is nothing wrong with sharing in a heritage.
    That is a positive thing, and people responded to our Prime Minister wearing the suit in a positive manner. It is only the Conservatives, more so than the NDP, who are trying to make something positive into a negative. The trip was a good thing.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to have my colleague’s opinion on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. The members of his government voted against having the national security advisor appear before the committee. The mixed messages coming out of his government have led to a lot of confusion and frustration for all Canadians. They have possibly undermined relations between Canada and India. I would like to know whether my colleague agrees that Canadians deserve to have the facts and to get real answers and to have the advisor appear before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in order to get to the bottom of this once and for all. If they have nothing to hide, they will vote in favour of the motion, it can be studied in committee, and once and for all, Canadians will be able to get the facts and the truth.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here are the real facts. An invitation that went out should not have gone out. When it was found out, it was rescinded. Those are the real facts.
    Another fact is the NDP, working with the Conservatives, now wants to call a professional, apolitical, civil servant to come before committee. That is what they want to do today. Maybe tomorrow it will be another civil servant from another ministry, and then the following day, or next week, it will be someone else from the civil service. Where does it end?
    I would suggest that the opposition, the unholy alliance across the way, should have more confidence in the professionalism that is within our public service. If they did that, it is quite possible that the motion we are witnessing today on the floor of the House would not have been necessary. Rather, we could be talking about the wonderful attributes of Canada's Indo-Canadian community, and the potential that is there between Canada and India into the future.

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, this morning I had the opportunity to listen to our parliamentary secretary for public safety talk at great length about the trip to India, and the outcomes of that trip. Could my hon. colleague share with us the importance of cybersecurity between Canada and India?
    Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, Canada and India have a great deal in common. When it comes to the issue of cybersecurity, there is much room for both governments to continue to work together in terms of doing what we can to protect things such as confidential and privacy issues on the Internet. In the world, today, through the Internet, we are a lot closer than we think we are, which is why it is really important that both Canada and India continue to work together.
    Unfortunately, I was not a part of all the discussions that took place. I went there because I had an interest in promoting a better relationship. I spent most of my time, as I said earlier, in the Punjab. For me, it was reaching out, meeting with everyday individuals, and having the opportunity to communicate positive messages about Canada to colleges and educational facilities.
    In Canada, over the last number of years, we have seen a great influx of students coming from India. We are talking about thousands of additional students. What impact do members think that has economically here in Canada when things of that nature happen? That is why I say that there were so many positives that came out of that trip.
    Mr. Speaker, I have listened with wonder, as I often do, to the hon. member, and not the good kind of wonder, by the way. All morning he has characterized our very rational motion of calling on a professional public servant to be allowed to do his job, which allows us as parliamentarians to do our job. It is interesting that the member's main concern regarding Stephen Harper's trip was regarding a security decision made entirely by our professional public service.
     What is the criteria the member uses to decide when to stand up, and valiantly defend public servants, and when to throw them under the bus?
    Mr. Speaker, if the member wants to check Hansard, he will find that I never raised the issue of having that civil servant come before a committee of the House. The Liberal Party did not do that. Why? It is because it was a decision made by a professional civil servant. Therefore, the member makes the case. Why does the Conservative Party want to pursue this? I did not, and the Liberal Party did not, when Stephen Harper took the advice of taking that car. There seems to be a double standard.
    The bottom line is that we need to respect our public servants for the fine work they do, and it should not be that today we call this one, tomorrow we will call this one, and next week we will call this one. It is a very slippery and dangerous slope. The Conservatives may have convinced the NDP to join them on this cliff, but I am sure not going to.
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House of Commons in this debate with my Conservative colleagues. Just seeing the degree of animation, vitriol, and concern from the Liberal deputy House leader kind of reminds me of something an old bomber command veteran told me. He said, “You know you're over your target when you're getting heavy fire from the ground.” The desperate machinations of the Liberal Party on this issue show us that this, I believe, is an attempt by the Prime Minister's Office to obstruct Parliament from getting to the answers on the Atwal affair or to cover up the whole situation with Mr. Jean.
    To illustrate that, in the time I have, I will start my remarks with a quote. My friend from Winnipeg, the deputy House leader for the Liberals, knows I love reading what people said when they were in opposition and comparing that to their positions in government. I am going to do that right now.
    In opposition, with respect to public safety and security issues for Canada in October 2014, someone said, “being able to ask questions is essential in a democracy, even in difficult situations—especially in difficult situations.” The person who said that, when in opposition, was then the MP for Papineau, now the Prime Minister of Canada. I agree with that sentiment. I wonder what has happened to the Prime Minister. Difficult questions in difficult situations need to be asked when it comes to public safety and security. Remember, he said “especially in difficult situations”.
    The difficult situation Canada finds itself in vis-à-vis the India Atwal scandal is perhaps the greatest diplomatic scandal Canada has ever witnessed. I do not say that with hyperbole, because India is a close friend to Canada. It is a Commonwealth partner. It is a country that bilateral trade doubled under the Conservative government of which I was a part. Many of us, and many Canadians, remember fondly. It is a Commonwealth partner with which we have enhanced relationships on security, nuclear technology, and bilateral relationships in trade. That has all been put at risk because of the careless and reckless actions of the Prime Minister. The trip was entirely premised on domestic politics. Virtually everyone who was on the trip, including the deputy House leader of the Liberal Party, my friend from Winnipeg, and virtually every event the trip had in its plan was based on currying favour and winning votes here in Canada, and it all backfired.
    The denial by the Prime Minister and the public safety minister to allow parliamentarians to ask questions has led to the Atwal India affair and the cover-up I am concerned about, and has brought us here today.
    For Canadians watching at home, let us see if we are being unreasonable here. My friend, the deputy House leader, almost foaming at the mouth, suggests we are not bringing in appropriate debate, that we are overstating the scandal with the Prime Minister's trip to India. Let us see what our request is.
     All the opposition is asking for is that Daniel Jean, the national security adviser to the Prime Minister of Canada, provide members of Parliament with the same briefing and the same ability to ask questions that Daniel Jean gave to members of the media. Canadians, through the members of Parliament, deserve the same right to hear from Mr. Jean on this wild India conspiracy theory. Suggestions by the public safety minister that this material is somehow confidential is wrong. Why? Because the Liberals' own conduct shows that. By putting forward the national security adviser to select members of the press gallery, who write stories that thousands or millions of Canadians read, the Liberals were directly saying that anything Mr. Jean was saying was not top secret, was not confidential, because he was briefing people who tell things for a living.

  (1235)  

    That same basic right belongs with each member of Parliament. I have before you, Mr. Speaker, a privilege motion saying that my privilege and my rights, as both a member of Parliament and as the foreign affairs critic to hold the government to account for the most disastrous foreign trip in the history of our country, are being fettered as a member, or hampered, by the Prime Minister's unwillingness to allow the national security adviser, Mr. Jean, to appear before a committee of parliamentarians to give the same briefing and answer the same questions the Prime Minister's Office allowed him to do for the media.
    Why did he allow the national security adviser to speak to the media? It was to save face in the midst of the disastrous India trip, where the Prime Minister was being mocked internationally for having no agenda, for having multiple elaborate costumes at events that made even Indian politicians and members of the arts community feel uncomfortable, for not taking the trade minister and the agriculture minister to India when, at the moment, the most pressing bilateral issue was a potential tariff increase to chickpeas and pulse products.
     He did not take people to do work. The member for Winnipeg North may have paid his own way, because this was a domestic, political trip. Everyone who went, the schedule, the photos, the agenda was all premised on preening the Prime Minister before his supporters, his fundraisers, and voters in a few ridings. When it backfired, it backfired on him and on all Canadians.
    Our request, to quote Mr. Swift, is a modest proposal. Parliamentarians are entitled to the same information that the Prime Minister's adviser gave to members of the media. That is our basic right as parliamentarians, which is why there is a privilege motion in front of you, Mr. Speaker, but also why we have brought this important debate to the House of Commons today.
    For those following this debate, they have followed this saga for over a month. I have never seen such negative international headlines about a Canadian prime ministerial visit. One foreign columnist said that it was a moving train wreck. Is that what those members mean by “Canada is back”? Canada has a world-class, stellar reputation around the world, and it has been put at risk because of the Prime Minister and because of the India scandal with Jaspal Atwal.
    Let us get to the bottom of the scandal and the two competing stories from the Liberal government.
     One story was that the member for Surrey Centre invited Mr. Atwal, admitting afterwards that he should not have, but took sole responsibility and resigned for it. He fell on his sword, saying, “My bad, it was all me.” Then, a few days later, when the Prime Minister allowed his national security adviser to meet with the media, the government floated this sinister and, we would submit, preposterous theory that Mr. Atwal was invited by the India government to embarrass the Prime Minister. Both of those things cannot be true.
     When the Prime Minister and the public safety minister deny parliamentarians their right to ask questions about which story is true, they are impeding Parliament and are covering up which story is true from Canadians.
    I will show, directly in quotes by all the key figures, what I mean. Jaspal Atwal, himself, in a rather comical at times press conference he held a few weeks said this, “When I asked to consider attending the reception, I had assumed there would be no problem. No one at any point indicated there would be any issue”. He is confirming that he asked the MP for Surrey Centre to go. He did not expect there would be an issue, because the Prime Minister calls him “Jas”. They are friends. We have seen pictures going back several years. Mr. Atwal said that the Prime Minister and him had a nice chat years ago in his Hummer on a visit to British Columbia.

  (1240)  

    At the press conference, Mr. Atwal also confirmed he had been to India several times. This was not a magical trip where he was first granted entry; he had been there several times.
    This is what Mr. Atwal's lawyer said at the same press briefing. He stated, “He basically went to this occasion, put his name in, he assumes he was vetted appropriately, he has not hid who he was, he has not changed his name.” The lawyer for Mr. Atwal confirmed that Mr. Atwal asked an MP to go, and assumed his name would be vetted by both the MP for Surrey Centre and by the Prime Minister's Office. Therefore, we have Atwal to the MP for Surrey Centre. This is the chain of evidence.
    What did the MP for Surrey Centre say? He said:
     As you know, an individual planning on attending tonight’s reception had his invitation rescinded. Let me be clear--this person should never have been invited in the first place. I alone facilitated his request to attend this important event. I should have exercised better judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions.
    I thank the MP for Surrey Centre for admitting that he alone was responsible for the invitation.
    Later, the MP for Surrey Centre said this to the Surrey Now-Leader, a paper in his riding:
    “Look, I took full responsibility as soon as I found out that this had happened and I, you know, the name came from my office, I should have vetted them before I forwarded them, I should have looked a bit more diligently at it, I am a new, young Member of Parliament, a rookie you can say so obviously I am learning from my mistakes.”
    He said, “my mistakes” and “I alone”, yet the Prime Minister of Canada had his national security adviser go to the media and suggest something else. Therefore, we have two conflicting statements from members of Parliament from the Liberal Party. One is from the member of Parliament for Papineau, which he still is, and also the Prime Minister, which means I hold him to a higher standard than I hold the MP for Surrey Centre, because the national security adviser advises him. When he asks the national security adviser to go and say something that is contrary to what his own MP is saying, that is scandalous. All we are asking for is the right to ask Mr. Jean questions like the media did.
    Let us go further. Let us go to the Prime Minister's cabinet, and the responsible minister, someone I respect a great deal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. What did she say on CTV when asked about her meeting with her bilateral partner, the Indian foreign affairs minister? The minister said, “I started off the meeting by saying to her that it had been an honest mistake and that the invitation had been withdrawn.”
    We have the lead cabinet minister supporting the story from the MP for Surrey Centre, which is also supported by Mr. Atwal himself, the person at the core of the scandal. However, the Prime Minister has risen in the House repeated times and has hidden behind a conspiracy theory from his national security adviser who he is now blocking parliamentarians from asking questions. That is scandalous. It is a breach of my privilege and the privilege of the whole House.
     Therefore, I hope some of the MPs on that side, particularly the ones in areas near me, like Northumberland and Peterborough South, and I will be spending a lot of time there. People in Peterborough and Whitby are concerned about this. A lot of people will be very worried about this scandal. No one believes the Prime Minister's story.
    What does the Indian government say? Its spokesman said this:
    Let me categorically state that the Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian High Commissioner's reception in New Delhi. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable.
    The Indian government is insulted by this, and it should be. It knows where the invitation came from, because the Prime Minister's own MP has admitted to the invitation. Jaspal Atwal, who asked for the invitation, has admitted it was the Liberal government. The foreign affairs minister has admitted it was the Liberal MP, the Liberal government is causing this scandal.

  (1245)  

    Now let us look at this smokescreen story that came out of the Prime Minister's Office through a civil servant I respect. Mr. Jean has had a great career for Canada and I am upset that officials in the Prime Minister's Office have sullied his reputation by forcing him to go to the media to concoct a story. Here is what CBC wrote after attending this briefing by the national security adviser.
    After speaking to Daniel Jean, it wrote, “A senior government official with knowledge of the prime minister's security protocols suggested...rogue political elements in India may have orchestrated [the] embarrassing invitation” of a would-be political assassin to a formal dinner with the Prime Minister “in an attempt to make the Canadian government appear sympathetic to Sikh extremism.”
    That CBC story was what the Prime Minister's Office was hoping to get by sending Mr. Jean out to speak. Let someone who advises on top national security issues go out and create an alternate story to the one the MP for Surrey Centre was already accepting responsibility for. I would suggest that is contemptuous of Parliament. That is knowingly sending a senior official to brief the media to create a parallel story to explain the Atwal invitation at a time when their own MP was taking responsibility for it.
    Now we have a situation where Mr. Atwal, who asked for the invitation, the MP for Surrey Centre, the foreign affairs minister, and the Indian government are all suggesting the Prime Minister's story of the Indian conspiracy theory is a sham. That should trouble all Canadians because it has not only eroded our relationship with a close friend; it has embarrassed Canadians throughout our country.
    As parliamentarians, our role here is to hold the government to account. When we are impeded in doing that, our privileges are fettered, they are obstructed, and Canadians by extension are being kept in the dark. The public safety minister in his famous elevator press conference suggested that it was okay for the national security adviser to brief members of the media and take questions on this conspiracy theory, but that it was also okay for the government not to allow MPs to have that information.
    I do not agree. That is a breach of my privileges. It is unethical. It is a cover-up. We deserve to ask Mr. Jean the same questions because we have two stories. They both cannot be true and most people globally believe it was the MP for Surrey Centre. Most Liberal caucus members believe that too. The Prime Minister's preposterous story and the smokescreen, and the human shield he is using his national security adviser as, need to be pierced and we do that here with a vote in the House of Commons.
    All we are asking for is the same basic right to receive information and to ask questions of Mr. Jean that the Prime Minister granted media members. Is that unreasonable when there are two versions of a scandal that we have to ask questions about? As shadow minister, I have to ask questions. Our proposal is a modest one. If the Liberal government whips and votes against this motion, I think we will be spending a lot more time with you, Mr. Speaker. The good thing is that I like you a lot, because we will be here a lot.
    However, it is a sign that the Liberals hold Canadians and Parliament in contempt and that this is a cover-up. The Prime Minister has the chance of showing it is not a cover-up. Make his official available to the public safety committee. We have Canadians appear all the time. If they are willing to send that person out to the media to deflect attention away from an embarrassing trip, they had better be prepared to give the opposition the same opportunity to ask Mr. Jean those questions.
    The government was elected and still uses the phrase “open and accountable”. Today, the Conservatives are going to make the Liberals accountable.

  (1250)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to reflect on a question that I was asked by the member from Edmonton just a few moments ago.
    I brought up the example of $1.2 million that Canadians had to pay so that Harper would have a car in India for his India trip. The member then asked the question of what happened there with regard to the civil servant, and the member's colleague was right that the prime minister had nothing to with that decision. It was the advisers who provided that information. Even though I did not like the fact that $1.2 million was being spent for a car to go to India and even though I had a problem with it, I did not challenge the civil servants who made that decision. Now I suspect had I done that, the very member who just spoke would have been standing in this place saying, “No way do we want that civil servant to be called.” However, because he is now in opposition, now he wants civil servants to be called.
     At least I am consistent. I am not too sure how consistent my friend across the way is on the issue, so I will pose the question to him. Why can he not have as much confidence in the public service as I do, whether I am in opposition or I am in government? I am consistent. Will he join me in being consistent?

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will remind the member of how I started my speech and we will talk about consistency. “Being able to ask questions is essential in a democracy, even in difficult situations—especially in difficult situations.” Those were the words of the Prime Minister.
    We are asking questions on national security, not because of a story in a newspaper that was speculation but because of a story planted by the Prime Minister. He sent Mr. Jean, whom I have said I have great respect for. I remember as a cabinet minister seeing Mr. Fadden, our national security adviser to Prime Minister Harper, being a sage counsel to the prime minister. We never saw him doing press conferences. We never saw him meeting with a group of journalists and saying, “Listen, here is really what happened”, because that is not the role of the national security adviser.
     In fact, the Prime Minister has undermined that position and if we do not get what we want today Mr. Jean should resign, not because of his actions but because of the Prime Minister. Therefore, who is sullying the civil service? It is the Prime Minister.
    That member can yell and scream, but he knows in his heart of hearts that we are right because what we are asking for is reasonable. The same briefing and the same ability to ask Mr. Jean questions that the Prime Minister allowed members of the media to have, MPs and Canadians deserve to have.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal members have repeatedly attacked Conservative and NDP opposition members who want to talk to a public servant.
    I would like to know if my colleague thinks there is anything wrong with us wanting to talk to public servants, especially since they are non-partisan and more likely to give us real answers. It seems to me that we should be able to talk to as many public servants as we think we need to hear from. I think it is perfectly fine for the opposition to ask them for input into certain committee studies.
    Given that my colleague was once a minister, does he see anything wrong with an opposition member wanting to talk to a public servant?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I agree with her.

[English]

     It is quite regular for committees of Parliament to call not just Canadians but seniors members of the government, senior officials. Just this week, I asked senior officials from immigration and citizenship questions.
    I am sad to inform the House that the cover-up continues. Liberal members, likely whipped by the Prime Minister's Office, just turned down at the public safety committee the request to have Mr. Jean appear, again. They continue to cover-up our ability to find out which story is true, in fact, which Liberal story is true. The Liberal story from Jaspal Atwal and the MP for Surrey Centre, their story is one alternative theory, that the invitation came from Mr. Atwal to the MP for Surrey Centre who sent it to the Prime Minister's Office. We saw the pictures of Mr. Atwal.
    The other theory from the Prime Minister's Office, through his adviser, is that the Indian government somehow did this. It is beyond the pale. It is ridiculous. Are we asking for a royal commission on this? No, we are just asking for answers. We are just asking for the official the Prime Minister allowed, actually encouraged, to speak to the media, to answer our questions. It is very reasonable. If we do not get it, with the accountability rhetoric we hear from these guys all the time, we will be talking about this late tonight.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, when the government came to office, I clearly remember it saying it was going to do things differently and that it was going to respect Parliament. When we heard about the media getting a briefing that the government will not allow parliamentarians to get, it was completely offensive. Clearly, we are looking forward to the Speaker's ruling in terms of a possible breach of our privilege.
    Is my colleague living up to the standards he told Canadians he would live up to in terms of respect for Parliament, or is this simply another fail?
    Mr. Speaker, this is the biggest diplomatic fail the Canadian government has ever seen. World headlines have been written about it. As I said, a “moving train wreck” was the description, I think, by the Washington Post. If that is what the Liberals believe “Canada is back” means, we want to go back to going back, because we are embarrassed by this. The Indo-Canadian community is also embarrassed by this, as is the Sikh community. We know what happened in the 1980s is a very sad chapter and should never be glorified, but we know that is not the case today.
    Why is this being talked about? It is because of that Prime Minister and a trip entirely about domestic politics. I will leave it there, because I am hoping to get another question from this side. I am hoping the people watching at home and the folks in the gallery see that our request is reasonable. We want to talk to somebody who the Prime Minister asked to talk to the media.

[Translation]

    The word “Parliament” is related to the French word for “talk”.

[English]

    We are supposed to talk here and in our committees, and for us to do our job we have to be given information. We have to be given access to officials and documents. The Liberals are impeding our ability to parler and to be strong MPs. We have heard excellent representations from this side, and rhetoric, vitriol, and obfuscation from that side. I hope Canadians are seeing sunny ways is nothing but a slogan.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, speaking of talking, let us talk about the media. I would like to talk about a March 14 article in La Presse.
    The High Commissioner of India in Canada and the High Commissioner of Canada in India took part in a Montreal Council on Foreign Relations conference, or MCFR, and I was there.
    Here is what was said, according to the papers: “The Prime Minister's visit to India was very important.... However, it ended up in the news for the wrong reasons”.
    They also talked about strengthening and expanding trade ties. As I am sure you know, India is a Commonwealth country and a democracy. People there speak English. There is a lot to be done in terms of economic ties, and I would like to hear your thoughts on that.
    I would like to remind members to direct their questions through the Speaker and not directly to other members.
    The hon. member for Durham.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Once again, I agree.

[English]

    India is a very strong and important partner. It is a Commonwealth nation. It is the world's largest democracy. That is why it is such an insult for the Prime Minister of Canada to be suggesting a conspiracy theory when none exists. Mr. Atwal himself said he asked. He is not an agent of the Indian government. The MP for Surrey Centre is not an agent of the Indian government. What is the Prime Minister saying?
    That member should use the passion she has shown and her knowledge of the file at her next caucus meeting with the Prime Minister to say, “Stop it, sir. Give Parliament the right to question Mr. Jean.”
    Mr. Speaker, the answer with respect to the invitation is already very clear. In fact, the invitation should never have been sent, and once discovered, it was immediately rescinded.
    Another point that needs to be noted is that this government has great confidence in the security and diplomatic advisers to the government who always act in an impartial manner and always in the best interests of Canadians.
    The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness was given a strong mandate with respect to national security. Bill C-59 is a focal point of that mandate. It was drafted following unprecedented national public consultation. Through an online questionnaire, town halls, social media engagement and more, the consultations heard tens of thousands of views, which Public Safety Canada and Department of Justice collected, documented, and analyzed.
    As members know, the standing committee held numerous meetings of its own on the national security topic, and I thank members here for their input on this priority issue.
    Citizens, community leaders, experts from a broad spectrum of the security field, academics, and parliamentarians alike can see their views reflected in Bill C-59. One of its core themes is central to today's debate, enhancing accountability.
    The proposed creation of an intelligence commissioner along with a national security and intelligence review agency would complement the work of the newly established National Security Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. I am pleased to say that the latter committee is now in place. The intent of its creation has always been to protect Canadians, and to safeguard our values and freedoms.
    Let me turn to the recent trip to India, and the important things that were accomplished during that visit.
    India, as has been noted, is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, making it a market of enormous potential. It is already the world's seventh largest economy, and projections are showing that it would be the third largest by 2030, barely more than a decade from now.
    For these reasons and others, India is a priority market for Canada. It is Canada's seventh largest export market and 14th largest for imports. In 2017, two-way trade of goods between Canada and India totalled nearly $8.4 billion, almost double the amount we traded a decade ago. More than 1,000 Canadian companies and educational institutions are currently doing business in India, and 400 actually have a physical presence in the Indian market.
    Our service exports have grown significantly over the last five years. Canada's institutional investments, especially those made by our largest pension funds, have also been growing rapidly, and are now estimated to exceed $15 billion.
    There is so much more we could do. Exports to India totalling $4.2 billion represent less than 1% of Canada's total exports worldwide. In today's ever-changing connected global economy, Canada can only prosper by expanding markets for its companies.
    True success in building strong and lasting commercial relationships demands sustained effort and long-term commitment from all stakeholders, whether government, business, or civil society, using a framework of formal structures and informal networks, or a new generation of economic agreements and extensive people-to-people links. This is all the more true when it comes to developing a mutually beneficial commercial relationship with an emerging economic power such as India.
    During the recent visit to India, the Prime Minister led a range of efforts to expand and diversify bilateral economic and commercial relations and promote Canadian interests.
    The strengthening of the government-to-government commercial framework was demonstrated through the conclusion of several MOUs and co-operation agreements, with significant progress being made on many others. These covered areas as wide-ranging as civil nuclear science and technology, education, audiovisual co-production, information technology, intellectual property, and even sports.

  (1305)  

    The Prime Minister also met with top Indian business and political leaders, including not only the leader of the federal government, Prime Minister Modi, but also the chief ministers of the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Punjab. These states are populous, enjoy a large degree of autonomy, are immensely influential economically, and buy large quantities of Canadian products and services.
    The Prime Minister interacted with hundreds of Indian and Canadian business leaders through his participation in business-focused round tables and forums. At every opportunity he encouraged them to continue to explore all avenues for increasing trade and investment between our countries.
     During his meeting with Prime Minister Modi, the Prime Minister secured a commitment from India to work closely with Canada on finalizing an arrangement before the end of this year, to enable the continued exports of Canadian pulses to that country. As the world's largest exporter of pulses, Canada plays a critical role in providing India with a long-term supply of this very important dietary staple.
    Additionally, the Prime Minister announced commitments from businesses, worth more than $1 billion, which will help to expand both of our economies. These included a commitment from Indian companies to invest close to $250 million in Canada, leading to the creation of more than 5,800 good, well-paying middle-class jobs for Canadians. These investments are made by global innovation leaders who have confidence in Canada and understand the long-term advantages of doing business here.
    There was a commitment from Canadian companies to invest close to $750 million in India. As is often the case with Canadian investments in India, a significant portion of this amount will go toward large projects aimed at earning long-term, stable income for Canadian investors and pensioners. In addition to the increase in direct company investment, the overall level of investment from Canada's institutional investors and largest public pension funds has surged in recent years, further demonstrating the wealth of opportunities that exist in India.
    There was a commitment to provide opportunities in business for women. Reflecting one of the imperatives found in budget 2018, Canada and India will work together on initiatives that help women in both countries build thriving businesses by providing new access to funding, talent, mentorship, and potential customers.
    There was an agreement to increase the level of creative collaboration between Canada and India. The cultural sector has huge potential. It will create good jobs in the creative sector, among other ways, and potentially help grow Canada's film industry.
     There was an agreement to increase people-to-people ties even faster through education. India is Canada's second largest source of international students, with an estimated 124,000 holding a valid study permit for six months or more at the end of 2017.
     Canadian universities and colleges are very active in India, and increased collaboration in education stimulates increased people-to-people ties, encourages joint research and development projects and spurs entrepreneurship and innovation in the decades to come.
    There was a renewed emphasis on fostering innovation ties between Canada and India. There is an immense demand and enormous potential for innovative solutions whether in agriculture, food processing, skills development, financial technology, transportation, health sectors, clean tech, and aerospace. Canada has a long tradition of finding these innovative solutions, and is ideally suited to filling this demand from India.
    In conclusion, Canada is, has been, and always will be a nation that depends on international trade and investment to prosper. Trade and investment are critical to Canada's prosperity, fuelling economic growth, supporting good jobs at home, raising living standards, and helping Canadians provide for their families with affordable goods and services.

  (1310)  

    As Canada challenges itself to retain and advance its place among the world's most progressive, innovative trading nations, the strength that comes from collaboration cannot be overstated. This government has invested billions of dollars in helping Canadian workers and innovative businesses become world leaders in their fields.
    We have also recently agreed to sign a trade agreement with Pacific rim countries through the comprehensive progressive agreement on the trans-Pacific partnership. This, in addition to the implementation of our agreement with the European Union, will generate thousands if not tens of thousands of new jobs for middle-class Canadians.
    Canada now has preferential market access through 12 trade agreements to 45 countries, with over 1.2 billion consumers and a combined GDP of $41.5 trillion. This represents over one-half of the world's output of goods and services, and demonstrates the critical importance of pursuing, with renewed vigour and negotiations, trade and investment agreements, especially with countries such as India.
    As reinforced by the success of our expanding economic and commercial relationship with India, Canada is quickly becoming the bridge between Asia and the rest of the world, one that will offer business unprecedented access to new market opportunities. Now is the time to increase our global investment and partnerships, and make the most of this opportunity.
    Trade keeps our economy open, dynamic, and competitive, and helps ensure that Canada continues to be the best place in the world to do business. We must emphasize to the world that Canada remains open for business, and is committed to expanding international trade and investment. India is and will remain a very significant part of that commitment.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, nobody is questioning the interest in India-Canadian relations, and the potential that exists. The basis of the debate today, and why we are here, is because of the Prime Minister's attempt, and the attempt of his office, to use the national security adviser to inform the media that somehow the Jaspal Atwal affair was a rogue conspiracy within the Indian government to make the Prime Minister's trip look bad. That is the basis. It is not about the infomercial that the hon. member just mentioned.
    Does the hon. member believe the media is more privileged to receive information than members of this Parliament? That is the basis of what we are talking about today. It is to have the national security adviser appear before the public safety committee, and answer the questions with the same answers he gave to the media. Does he believe that parliamentarians have that same privilege?
    Mr. Speaker, as has been stated numerous times, the invitation should never have been sent, and as soon as it came to light, it was rescinded.
    However, the member noted that nobody is challenging the importance of our business relationship. Therefore, the question should be asked, how is this debate benefiting that business relationship? Should we not be spending more time and effort in our committee on international trade, looking at some of the results of the trip in regard to the meetings with business leaders in various sectors?
    As was noted, India is not just the most populace of countries, it is also one of the fastest growing economies. What an incredible opportunity to focus in on; for instance, those 124,000 students from India studying in Canada, building strong good relationships between our two countries in the business sector on a human level. This will serve us well for generations to come. Those debates are the ones that should be taking place. They will bring benefits to both India and Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on what my colleague referenced.
    If we take a look at the trade and commerce between Canada and India, it is roughly about $8 billion today. Here we have hundreds of millions of dollars that have been added, in good part, because of the trip that was made by the Prime Minister.
     However, when we take a look at the last couple of years, we have seen significant increases in that trade. I would ultimately argue that the potential is truly amazing if we can enhance that relationship and continue to grow it between the two countries. The biggest benefactor will be Canada's middle class, and those who want to be a part of it, and even the middle class in India. I would ask my colleague to comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely correct. When one is the government, there is an obligation to do what is best for the Canadian people. In this case, it is having a debate about the opportunities the Indian market affords Canadian investors and the opportunities for India to trade with Canada. Let us also not forget the fact that we have much in common. Although India is a world away, literally, both countries are democracies with vibrant, multicultural societies. We have values we share.
    Our government has been focused on trade, whether it is a free trade agreement in the Asia–Pacific region or with Europe, which brings real, concrete results. It would really be a hope that instead of partisan debates that will not benefit Canadians in any manner whatsoever we could focus on those things that will produce good jobs for middle-class Canadians, currently and for generations to come.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, the previous question and the answer were completely irrelevant to the motion, but I will indulge the member a bit in this area of the trade relationship. Given that the only tangible and immediate reaction on the trade relationship was an increase in the tariff on pulse products exported from Canada to India, from 40% to 60%, does the member think that this trip, which caused international headlines and embarrassment for Canada, was a success?
    Yes, Mr. Speaker, in fact, there is a lot we can point to. There was $1 billion in investments in bilateral trade between our two countries. Even more important are those hundreds of relationships that were established. There were four ministers and 16 MPs. We had a whole team meeting with business leaders and political leaders establishing those relationships. How do they put a value on all that hard work, which was laying the foundation for economic relations going forward? Headlines come and go, but these established relationships will lead to increased trade between our two countries, and our country is dependent on trade.
    Mr. Speaker, the size of Canada's Indo-Canadian community is well over a million people. There are literally thousands of connections.
    I had the good fortune of being down there. I covered my costs. I spent most of my time in the Punjab. While I was in the Punjab, it was truly amazing the number of Canadians I met there, whether it was for commerce, tourism, or homes. The Indo-Canadian community provides a strategic link to encourage and promote additional potential trade, tourism, and so many other wonderful things. In fact, what we should be debating today is all the potential between Canada and India.
    The issue the opposition has brought forward is fairly clear and very straightforward. It has been answered. It would have been far better to talk about that relationship, to talk about the sense of pride within Canada in our Indo-Canadian community and the true value of that trip, which will reap many dividends into the future.
    Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely correct, and I am glad that the member raised the issue of the very special relationship we have between India and Canada based on the 1.4 million people of Indian descent who live in Canada. Perhaps this is an opportune point to also express gratitude to the Sikh community for all the contributions Sikhs have made over a century to the respectful, multicultural Canada we have.
    When we travel and people around the world see that reflection of Canada, especially in a country that is as multicultural as India is, it makes it that much easier to say that Canada is a welcoming place. We are a welcoming place in terms of people and in terms of students. This is a place where they can invest and do business.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today.
    I want to talk about how the diplomatic corps relies on our government to protect it and to serve our best interests abroad. I am very proud to have been at Global Affairs Canada for close to a decade and a half. I served as deputy head of mission, not once but twice, in fact, so I have a bit of experience in this. I am very proud to have been the chargé d'affaires in El Salvador for two years, at our embassy in San Salvador, as well our deputy consul general in Dallas, Texas. I am very proud to have had this experience.
    The golden rule of diplomacy is one thing and one thing only, and that is to do what one's government asks one to do. That is what one is there to do: what one's government asks one to do. This is in fact a fundamental part of our training in foreign affairs in the diplomatic corps. Humility is a very big part of this. I will give two examples.
    The first one is when I was receiving my accreditation in El Salvador. This was very exciting for me. A motorcade took me through the streets of San Salvador to the presidential palace. I went up the stairs of the presidential palace, and I took my place beside the ambassador to be accredited. The presidential aide came to me and put his hand on my shoulder and said, “No, always behind the ambassador.” That was a lesson in humility, the humility that diplomats face in serving their nations.
    The second example was when I was negotiating the CA4 trade agreement. This was something that was very important for its impact on Canada in terms of pork prices and sugar prices. I prepared very hard for this. I took my communication from the classified computer at the time. I prepared my notes, and I went to visit the minister of trade. I approached the minister of trade. I showed up in my navy suit. I was there prepared to represent Canada as a proud and humble diplomat.
    Frankly, the minister of trade took my papers and looked at me like I was a school girl, and she said, “You tell your government we will get back to them in two weeks.” Again, it was a reminder of my role as a diplomat for the Government of Canada. I was simply there to serve a function. I was only there doing what my government asked me to do. Nothing more, nothing less.
    The peril in this as a diplomat is that, unfortunately, diplomats must wear what their masters give them. This is not always good. Sometimes it can be a trick. Diplomats can be so excited when they understand that a minister is coming to visit. They prepare the best hotel and the best restaurants. They make sure that they know the linens the minister likes. They make sure that they know their favourite foods. They do all of this, and then all of a sudden, it can be cancelled. It can be cancelled because of the changing priorities of the government. This is possible. I saw this in my diplomatic work in Argentina as well, during the Chrétien era. This is throughout government, indeed.
    Diplomats must wear what the government gives them to wear. Sometimes it is a cancelled trip. Sometimes it is something much worse. This was the case in the Atwal mission at the event in India. This was something much worse.
    Are members aware of the mission process to compile a guest list for a mission event? It is a complicated process. It is not something that happens lightly, where diplomats just sit down and make a list of their friends and the people they like. All areas of the mission come together to compile this list. That is what they do. Once the list is compiled, it is sent to Ottawa. It is sent to Ottawa for a complete and utter vetting. The geographical desk will go through the list and see if there is anything that could potentially be a threat or an embarrassment to the Government of Canada. After the geographical desk, it will be sent to security. Security should and will vet the list to see if there is anyone or anything that could embarrass the people of Canada, the reputation of Canada.

  (1330)  

    Is it possible that our professionals at Global Affairs Canada and in our security agencies could have possibly found out this information about Mr. Atwal prior to this event? I think it is very possible. If so, why would the Prime Minister's Office, which certainly would have been made aware of the attendees at the event, not do anything in an effort to stop this terrorist from showing up at this event? Were they aware that this was happening, and if so, why did they not stop it?
    Unfortunately, this has left an absolute, horrible outcome for the Government of Canada, for the public service, and for diplomats all around the world, and this is why.
    First of all, there is the absolute embarrassment of knowing that a terrorist is an official guest at an event at which the Government of Canada is present. As a diplomat, I could not handle the shame. It would just be too much.
    Second, I would be wondering what the other guests at the event thought about a terrorist being at the event. Would any of these guests go to future events of the Government of Canada and the missions of Canada? I am not certain that they would if they would be in the company of terrorists. This is something they would definitely be hesitant to do.
    Also, this would impact the reputation of diplomats in the foreign service and among their colleagues. Diplomats would wonder if their colleagues thought they were the ones who had this terrible lapse in judgment and invited a terrorist to an event at which Canada was present. We talk in the foreign service about the actions of our colleagues and what they are doing.
    What are the diplomatic impacts of this? Will we be able to get meetings with local ministers? What are the trade impacts this will have? What are the consular impacts because we had a terrorist at our event? It was a complete diplomatic embarrassment for our public service, for the diplomatic corps, and for Canada. How this mistake will affect mission contacts is a very important question.
    The government has talked all week in question period about how it supports our public service and stands up for it. This incident sure made it a lot harder for diplomats to do their jobs because of the lack of credibility and oversight. Why would a government that says it supports its public service, that says it supports its diplomatic corps, allow an error like this to happen? That is not a government that supports its public service and its diplomatic corps.
    How will this affect Canada on the world stage? Other nations will be looking at this in regard to trade decisions, consular decisions, and interactions with Canada. This is a diplomatic tragedy.
    I should also say that it affects how diplomats feel about their country and how they feel about the government. Great leaders will always take responsibility, and the Prime Minister and the government did not take responsibility, and in doing so, failed their diplomatic corps. I cannot imagine the conversations in the corridors in New Delhi. I am certainly glad I am not posted there right now.
    In closing, as a former diplomat, I know that diplomats put their trust in elected officials to guide them and to protect them, and the government failed. The government did not guide its diplomats and its public service. It did not protect its diplomatic corps. It did not protect the people at the mission in New Delhi.
    That is all diplomats ever do. They do what a government asks them to do.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, I think we have been fairly clear on this issue all morning and going into the afternoon. There was a mistake that occurred. An invitation was sent out. The moment that was discovered the invitation was rescinded, so the individual did not go to the event. It was a simple mistake that was made.
    It is interesting that my colleague across the way made reference to the fact that we are also there to protect our civil servants. What the opposition Conservative Party, in co-operation with the New Democrats, are doing is not protecting the interests of civil servants with this particular motion. What are we to expect? Tomorrow, is it going to be a different civil servant, and then two weeks from now another one, because those members have some issues with which they do not necessarily agree with the minister? One either has confidence and believes in the professionalism of our civil servants, as we do, or not, and we move forward.
    Today's debate should have been about the many wonderful things that the relationship between India and Canada is today. We should be reflecting on our Indo-Canadian community and the ties between the two countries. A good example of that would be through education, where we have seen thousands of additional students coming to Canada, and so many other positive things.
    Does the member not agree that it is time to start talking about the positive things between Canada and India?
    Mr. Speaker, I find that answer completely rich, because we would not be having this opposition day motion if the government had not failed in protecting its diplomatic corps and its interests in Canada. Shame on the government.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, personally, what frightens me the most about politics is the thought of ever putting my family in danger.
     In this particular situation, Mr. Atwal was photographed with the Prime Minister's wife. If my children were ever anywhere near a terrorist or anyone convicted of terrorist acts, I would be furious and would move heaven and earth to find out why that individual was there. I would not back down until I got an answer.
    In this case, we are told that it was a simple mistake, but I would describe it as a colossal mistake. It is entirely appropriate for us to be told how this could have happened. From a security standpoint, the Prime Minister's wife was put in close proximity to a convicted terrorist. This cannot be taken lightly. It makes perfect sense to me that the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security should look into what happened. To that end, the committee members want to speak with the most non-partisan person possible, someone who can give them the answers they are looking for.
    What are the member's thoughts on that?
    Mr. Speaker, of course, family is also very important to our party. Even if it was a mistake, it was a serious mistake that had severe consequences for Canada. I cannot accept that, nor can Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for explaining how it works when one is part of a foreign mission, but what the government did was use a senior public servant as a shield and as political damage control. I would like the member to comment on that. The crux of the motion today is the government's shameful conduct in doing so.
    Mr. Speaker, sadly, diplomats only do what their government asks them to do, so they would take that, wear it, and respond in the best, most noble way possible, as they do for the public service of Canada, for not just the government, but the people of Canada.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this important motion today. It is important because in my riding, like many rural ridings across Canada, trade is the lifeblood of our economy. Trade is facilitated by building strong interprovincial and business relations. When our Prime Minister creates diplomatic incidents, he undermines those relationships, and consequently, trade suffers. This point leads into my final comments, which will be about the disturbing actions of our Prime Minister, who seems content to throw the reputation of his own Liberal members, and members of our professional public service, under the bus to protect his own skin. These are not the actions of a leader. This is shameful behaviour.
    It goes without saying that the Prime Minister's recent trip to India was a diplomatic disaster. This tour has undermined the confidence of the Indian government that Canada can be depended upon as both a trading partner and a trusted ally. The Prime Minister went to India with a trunk full of colourful costumes, ready to show off his dance moves, but he failed to do his number one job as Prime Minister: to advance Canada's interests.
    Pulse farmers in my riding of Sturgeon River—Parkland and across Canada are suffering because the Liberal government failed to negotiate a deal on tariffs with India. Consequently, the prices for lentils have dropped significantly, and Canadian farmers are finding themselves increasingly shut out of global markets.
    The increased tariffs on lentils announced after the Prime Minister's trip illustrates his complete inability to get the job done. Prices are down for lentils across Canada, and India, one of Canada's top export destinations, continues to slap new tariff and non-tariff barriers on our world-class products. I see the impact of this in my riding. Farmers, including members of my family, are losing out because the Liberal government has failed to deliver serious and meaningful action on this critical trade issue.
     Furthermore, on the issue of fumigation, the Prime Minister failed to gain an exemption from the Indian government that would prevent the use of an environmentally destructive chemical on our crops, a fumigant that is not required in Canada. Why was our Minister of Agriculture not doing the hard negotiations in the backrooms while the Prime Minister and his taxpayer-funded entourage posed for selfies with extremists? Since the Liberals have failed to gain Canadian farmers access to the Indian market when it comes to lentils, how can they be depended upon to ensure that Canada's liquefied natural gas resources get to market?
    The Indian economy is undergoing rapid reforms that will require the use of cleaner fuels in order to meet its climate change and economic growth goals. Currently, many impoverished families in India spend hours every day gathering biomass fuel that wreaks devastation on forests and burns even dirtier than coal. Biomass pollution harms the health of women and children. Canada has a solution, natural gas, or as we in Alberta call it, God's gas. Canada's environmentally responsible natural gas can provide the low-carbon intensity to power India's economic expansion. It will also provide the clean, reliable fuel that will ensure poor families have healthier air in their homes. India needs Canada's natural gas, but the government has failed to secure deals necessary to ensure that Canada and India can benefit from this mutual exchange.
     Let us look at the record of this trip. The Prime Minister took 20 members of the Liberal Party on this taxpayer-funded junket and photo-op tour. What do they have to show for it? Supposedly, there is $1 billion in investment, but when looking closely, it becomes apparent that 75% of this investment involves Canada investing in India. Only a few short weeks later, the President of France announced 16 billion dollars' worth of deals with India and was even met at the airport by the Indian prime minister, not exactly a proud moment for Canada, as we struggle to attract foreign investment while this Liberal government relentlessly raises taxes and increases red tape.
    What else did the Liberals achieve on this trip? Recent media reports paint a disturbing picture of the Prime Minister's entourage. A Liberal member of Parliament argued with security officials tasked with defending Canada's embassy so that he could cut in line and sneak a few friends into a party. They drank the bar dry of Crown Royal, and succeeded in angering Indian officials who patiently waited in line. This sort of Animal House behaviour belongs in a dorm room, not on international trips meant to highlight Canada's serious commitment to our relationship with India.
     It appears that the priority of this vacation, I mean diplomatic visit, was for the Prime Minister to show off his fancy costumes and dance moves. His reckless disregard for Canada's international reputation and the security of the delegation resulted in a convicted terrorist being invited on the trip, a terrorist who was convicted of attempted murder against an Indian politician while on Canadian soil.

  (1345)  

    What kind of message does this send to our ally when we invite on our delegations those who have promoted extremism and violence against the state of India? I know Canadians would not take kindly to a foreign government inviting advocates of separation in Canada, least of all violent separation, and yet that is exactly what the Prime Minister has done.
    To make matters worse, the Prime Minister failed to take responsibility for the actions of his team. Real leaders understand that they have command accountability for the actions of those under their leadership, but this Prime Minister has once again abdicated that personal responsibility. He laid the blame on everyone, from one of his own Liberal members to the supposed actions of the Indian government.
    I can certainly understand why the Prime Minister is frustrated. I am sure he truly believes he is a far superior prime minister to Stephen Harper, yet globally the evidence continues to mount against him. That frustration does not excuse his conspiratorial accusations that somehow it is the Indian government that is responsible for this disastrous trip. Even if there is a shred of truth to the Prime Minister's outlandish claim, surely it would make the best diplomatic sense not to make this claim publicly.
     Now we have an important ally accusing our Prime Minister of making baseless accusations. It is bad for India and it is bad for Canada, and yet the Prime Minister has recklessly gone ahead. It will take a new government to restore that trust.
     It is apparent that the Prime Minister places priority on his own image and not the best interests of Canada. By parading his national security adviser in front of a select media audience, he has chosen to use the non-partisan professional civil service as a shield for his own incompetence. When parliamentarians and Canadians ask for the same privileges that the media received, the Prime Minister refuses to allow his national security adviser to have these claims tested before committee.
    It is clear to me that the national security adviser has been used by the Prime Minister to deflect from his embarrassing failure, and that is one of the great shames of the government. Despite the Liberals' claims to support a non-partisan professional public service, they are all too ready to use and abuse public servants to advance their own partisan ends.
    Just a few years ago, I had the opportunity to watch as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi disembarked from his plane on the tarmac in Ottawa. This important visit from the leader of the world's second most populous nation and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world highlighted the respect held by India for Canada. A few years ago, the Liberal government declared that Canada is back, but now the Prime Minister of India could not even be bothered to meet with our Prime Minister when his plane landed.
    The contrast is illuminating. Under our serious Conservative leadership, international leaders came to Canada and respected our prime minister. Under this incompetent Prime Minister, we have become the butt of international jokes, snubbed when visiting our most important allies. The only thing that will restore the trust for Canadians and for the Indian government will be a new government.
    Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly offended by the speech given by my colleague just now. I implore members to stick to the facts and stick to what they are trying to achieve. This reference to costumes that I have been hearing in debate after debate is incredibly offensive.
    I would like to share a little story about a girl growing up here in Canada, me. A child of immigrant parents, I struggled constantly to try to be proud of my culture and my heritage. I could not help just wanting to fit in. I wondered why my parents could not just wear western clothing to my teacher-parent interview. Maybe I would fit in a little better. Maybe the kids would not make fun of the clothing we traditionally wear.
    This continual reference by the opposition to our clothing being costumes is outrageous. I wonder if my colleague is offended that I am wearing his costume right now. Would you call a business suit a costume? Should I ask people from around the world what they think about my wearing a white man's costume? Are you offended? I am incredibly offended that again and again I hear reference to our clothing as costumes. It is not a costume. It is clothing that we wear every day, day in and day out. Indians wear that clothing, and it is nothing compared to a uniform of a police officer.
    The Prime Minister respected our culture and our traditions, including the clothing we value so dearly. I am so happy that my child, my son, can see a Prime Minister today who respects his culture, his tradition, and where he comes from.

  (1350)  

    I just want to remind hon. members to place their questions through the Speaker and not directly across to other members. It just makes things a lot easier and they would be following the rules.
    The hon. member for Sturgeon River—Parkland.
    Mr. Speaker, I would certainly take the statement by the member much more seriously if what the Prime Minister did in India was not cultural appropriation on the grandest scale. In fact, Indian politicians were claiming that the Prime Minister was offending them. He was literally wearing wedding clothes in India. It was an absolute joke. It was a lack of sensitivity to our Indian counterparts.
    It is a shame on the government that the Prime Minister could not even be bothered to be professional when he went over to India.
    Mr. Speaker, maybe the member across the way could comment on the 13 agreements that were signed in India, the most important being about protection of lentil shipments from Saskatchewan, $1.3 billion a year, which will be opened up by the end of 2018. Has he read those statements from the Saskatchewan lentil association?
    Mr. Speaker, the most important statements I have read are the statements from farmers in my community. Mere months ago, the price of lentils was above $8 and now it is going down to $6, which is directly caused by the 20% increase in tariffs that resulted after the Prime Minister's trip to India. That is the most important thing that we need to be looking at here in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the closing comments made by my colleague.
    I have had the opportunity to wear, with great pride, a Punjabi suit. I feel very comfortable with that. I am wondering if my colleague across the way recognizes that wearing clothing of different ethnic heritage is actually a positive thing.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a clear deflection of the issue. There is a time and a place to respect culturally appropriate wear. However, the Prime Minister has completely overdone it. By wearing a wedding suit in India he has drawn the ire of Indian politicians. It is an absolute shame.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Mississauga—Lakeshore.
    I just want to point out to the hon. member that he will have five minutes and then he can resume his debate once the topic is taken up again after question period.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Montarville.
    Today's opposition motion puts into question the professionalism of some of the most senior public servants in our country. Canada's national security agencies are non-partisan and both highly competent and effective. We trust them to protect and promote Canada's security.
    The answer in regard to the invitation and discussion is clear. In fact, the invitation should never have been issued, and when that invitation was discovered, it was immediately rescinded.
    The government has great confidence in the security and diplomatic advisers to the government, who always act in an impartial fashion and always in the best interests of Canadians. They continue to do an excellent job in serving and protecting these interests. We respect our national security agencies, and we respect the non-partisan public service. We respect their ability to provide non-partisan advice.
    Reflecting the 1.4 million Canadians of Indian heritage, and cognizant of Canada's geostrategic and commercial interests in the Indo-Pacific region, the Prime Minister's objective during his recent visit was to reaffirm that Canada stands with a united India. Recognizing that the relationship between Canada and India is based on a shared commitment to pluralism, diversity, and democracy, the Prime Minister visited cultural and religious sites of significance to people in Canada, India, and around the world.
    During this debate, we are also wise to reflect again on the importance of India in regional and global geopolitics. Given Canada's own strong global bonds and priorities, there is clear potential benefit in collaborating with India in many areas. As many Canadians clearly appreciate, India is the largest and most influential state in south Asia. It is the key actor in its immediate neighbourhood, with complex and important relationships with neighbours like Pakistan and China. It also plays a key role in Asia as a whole in its strategic interactions, especially, but not limited to, in the Indian Ocean region.
     India is important for the pursuit of Canadian geopolitical interests across Asia. Not surprisingly, therefore, the recent meetings between our Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi included consideration of this very question. As a result, the two leaders resolved to work together in bilateral and multilateral frameworks to promote a stable and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, which would not only benefit Canada economically but also serve to broaden our effectiveness and penetration as the region moves forward toward greater wealth, influence, and connectivity.
    A number of important shared challenges face India and Canada in the Indo-Pacific region. During the visit, for example, the two prime ministers discussed a number of regional and global issues of critical importance.
    With respect to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, the leaders paid special attention to security matters. Both called for the immediate cessation of violence, the renunciation of links with international terrorism, and the dismantling of infrastructure to support terrorism. The leaders also affirmed support to the government and the people of Afghanistan to achieve an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled national peace and reconciliation process. Our relationship with India on these matters is important in order for lasting peace and prosperity in the region to be realized.
    Our Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi also called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to abide strictly by its international obligations and commitments. They called on all states to implement rigorously the relevant UN Security Council resolutions relating to the DPRK.
    Both prime ministers deplored the current state of affairs in the Maldives and urged the government of that country to allow democratic institutions, including parliament and the judiciary, to function independently in a fair and transparent manner.
    Furthermore, the prime ministers also discussed the humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh, and called for the voluntary, safe, and sustainable return of the Rohingya refugees, while stressing the importance of ensuring law, order, and respect for human dignity in the process. The leaders called for the restoration of humanitarian access for relevant United Nations and other international organizations to facilitate the return process.
    This is a matter that remains of great concern to many Canadians. In fact, a number of concerned constituents in my riding of Mississauga—Lakeshore have written letters to my office about the Rohingya crisis—

  (1355)  

    We have a point of order from the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I know that the time is almost up before we have to break for question period, but we are about five minutes into the member's speech and he has not addressed the motion yet. I know there is a lot of latitude around relevance, but perhaps when we return afterwards the member could address the substance of the motion, which is allowing the head of public security to appear before the public safety committee to address the comments of the Prime Minister and his conspiracy theory.
    The hon. member is at the end of his five minutes, and he does have five minutes coming to him afterwards. Often relevance is a question, and seeing how it gets brought back. I will leave that with the member. I am sure it will be very interesting once he returns after question period.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

World Water Day

    Mr. Speaker, today is World Water Day, and as the National Geographic advises us, we are in a water crisis where the crisis is too much water in some places and not enough in others.
    Studies by scientists have shown that between 1995 and 2015, 90% of all weather-related events, such as extreme weather events, floods, storms, heat waves, and droughts, were water-related events. Of the world's large megacities, 14 out of 20 are now experiencing water scarcity.
    The reality is that the water crisis runs in tandem with the climate crisis. As we operate in a state of cognitive dissonance, we all know that the climate crisis is real. Measures are being taken by the government but they are not close to enough to avoid the climate crisis.
     Therefore, we need to wake up, we need to act, and we need to stand together and say that we stand with water protectors and that water is sacred.

  (1400)  

Burger Week

    Mr. Speaker, it's the sloppiest, sauciest, greasiest time of the year in Halifax. It is Burger Week again, presented by The Coast newspaper, with a portion of profits going to Feed Nova Scotia.
     Now in its sixth year, with a record-breaking 125 burgers to choose from, there is a burger for everybody. We have burgers for vegans at DeeDee's, with a lentil and roasted mushroom patty. There are burgers for breakfast at Robie Street Station, a sausage patty with egg between two hash browns coming right up.
     Doughnut lovers can rejoice. They can enjoy their beef and a coffee-glazed bacon doughnut fritter bun at Vandal Doughnut. Got the munchies? The Auction House burger comes topped with mac and cheese.
     What would Halifax Burger Week be without a donair burger, sandwiched between garlic fingers, brought to us by King of Donair? Try to save room for a trio of tiny macaroon burgers at the Old Apothecary.
     I call on my fellow Haligonians to grab their burger passports and wet wipes, and hit the town, using #HFXBurgerWeek.

Firearms

    Mr. Speaker, this Tuesday we saw, with great fanfare, the Minister of Public Safety announce changes to our new firearms law. We expected some changes that would actually keep guns out of the hands of gang members, but we saw little of that. What we did see, however and unfortunately, was changes adding additional red tape to lawful firearms' ownership and then buying non-restricted firearms in Canada.
    Sadly, though, the worst of the worst happened. Along with my colleagues behind me, what we predicted was a return of the long gun registry to Canada, not just through the back door, as in the new reference system where every non-restricted firearm will need a reference number and be tracked by the registrar, but also deliberately handing through the front door a copy of the old firearms registry data to the province of Quebec.
     This is indeed shameful and a breach of the Liberals' promise to their constituents in rural Canada that they would not re-establish the long gun registry. It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister is so uninformed about Canadian firearms law.

Impaired Driving

    Mr. Speaker, we mark an historic moment. Parliament is sitting during the first National Impaired Driving Prevention Week. Impaired Driving is the criminal act that kills the most Canadians.
     As we are on the eve of cannabis legalization, we should all have an heightened sense of urgency in addressing this terrible scourge that kills indiscriminately and severely injures thousands of Canadians.

[Translation]

    I want to share my vision zero. We must support scientific research, which will lead to progress and developments to positively shape drivers' behaviour and to give them the technological tools they need to improve road safety. I urge all of my colleagues to write to all school principals in their ridings to remind them that every single life can be saved in the fight against impaired driving.

[English]

World Water Day

    Mr. Speaker, on World Water Day, I rise to speak about the importance of protecting Canada's lakes and rivers.
    In 2012, the Conservative government gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act. During the 2015 federal election, the Liberals promised they would immediately reverse stripped environmental protections and create new environmental safeguards.
     Almost three years later, the Liberals finally introduced Bill C-69, the Navigation Protection Act, which falls considerably short of what the Liberals promised during the election campaign. In fact, the minor changes introduced in the bill make little or no difference for the protection of 99% of our waterways. Instead, Canadians will be forced to fight the government on a case-by-case basis to protect each lake, river, creek, or stream.
     On World Water Day, I hope the government and all MPs will acknowledge the importance of water to Canadians and pledge to conserve, protect, and restore watersheds across our great country.

540 Golden Hawks Squadron

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the achievements of two young women in the Oakville 540 Golden Hawks Squadron. Flight sergeants Maya Moussli and Rachel Shi have received Air Cadet League long service medals for their commitment to leadership and service to Oakville.
    Named after the world famous Golden Hawks precision flight team of the Royal Canadian Air Force, the 540 Golden Hawks Squadron is one of over 450 Royal Canadian air cadet squadrons across Canada. Locally, it has been serving the youth of Oakville since 1951. Hundreds of youth each year participate in its programs and gain valuable skills in leadership, community engagement, and teamwork.
    Its committed and engaged young leaders, like Maya, Rachel, and all the 540 Golden Hawks Squadron cadets make me so proud to represent Oakville. I know their futures are very bright, and I expect big things from the entire 540 Golden Hawks Squadron. Keep up the great work.

  (1405)  

Swift Current Broncos

    Mr. Speaker, the Swift Current Broncos has a remarkable history, a history of great success and tremendous challenge. A successful junior A franchise in the smallest Western Hockey League city requires a huge community effort, and this year that commitment was there. With a record-setting year for attendance, an improvement of 18,000 fans from last year, all of southwest Saskatchewan is supporting our team. It is for good reason.
     The Broncos are rated number four in the country and have recorded the most points in a season since they won the Memorial Cup in 1989. They finished second in the WHL and are moving into the first round of the playoffs against the Regina Pats, a team that wants to win because it is this year's host of the Memorial Cup.
    The hard hitting, fast skating Broncos are on their way, led by their captain, Glenn Gawdin and goalie Stuart Skinner.
     Swift Current and area will be decked out in blue and green as the Swift Current Broncos begin the road to another Memorial Cup. Go Broncos go.

[Translation]

Stephen Hawking

    Mr. Speaker, on March 14, the world lost a brilliant mind. Stephen Hawking sought to better understand the underlying laws that govern the universe.

[English]

    He probed the fabric of our reality, and along the way he helped to make theoretical physics and cosmology accessible to millions, acted as a champion for those with disabilities, and became a beloved pop culture icon.
    In my community of Kitchener—Waterloo, Mr. Hawking will be best remembered for his work at the Perimeter Institute, where he was a distinguished visiting research chair.

[Translation]

    People around the world will remember his scientific diligence, his intellectual honesty, his humour, and his work on black hole theory.

[English]

    On behalf of Kitchener—Waterloo and the House, I would like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to the Hawking family and to all of those with whom Mr. Hawking explored the farthest reaches of our universe.

Anne

    Mr. Speaker, last summer, the member for Malpeque and I visited the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society in Uxbridge.
    Anne of Green Gables, her iconic and cherished Canadian story, is based in Prince Edward Island. Earlier this month I was able to tour the set of the new CBC show Anne. I am proud that this hit television show is partially filmed in my riding of Pickering—Uxbridge. It was a pleasure to tour the set and meet the talented actors, writers, and production staff. They make the show so enjoyable to watch for so many Canadians.
    At the Canadian Screen Awards, Anne was nominated for 13 awards, which included taking home the award for best drama series. Visiting the set and seeing Anne win at the screen awards serves as an important reminder of the tremendous Canadian arts and culture scene. We should all be proud of the Canadian film and television industry.
     I want to thank Canadian Media Producers Association and the cast and crew at Anne for their hospitality, and congratulate them on all their success.

Port Dover Motorcycle Rally

    Mr. Speaker, Friday the 13th in southern Ontario means one thing: firing up the bike and partying with a hundred thousand or so of one's closest personal friends in Port Dover.
     Since 1981, bikers from all over Canada and the U.S. descend on this delightful little town of 6,000 people for a motorcycle rally like no other. This year, the first will be on Friday, April 13, and the second will be Friday, July 13.
     What started out as a small get-together over 35 years ago grew by word of mouth. Now, the Dover rallies are among the biggest social events of the year in Haldimand—Norfolk.
     This April and July on the13th, I ask people to put on their leathers and ride down to Dover. They will have a great time. It will be great for people watching, great to see all sorts of amazing bikes, old and new, and great for receiving the best hospitality that small town Ontario has to offer.
     So saddle up, gas up, and keep the rubber side down.

  (1410)  

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, over the last three weeks, I hosted seven seniors' town halls throughout my riding, in Mission, Abbotsford, Agassiz, Lillooet, Lytton, Ashcroft, and Cache Creek, to get feedback from constituents on shaping our national seniors strategy. Connecting with constituents is always gratifying, and these meetings were well attended, with a spirited discussion and great ideas.
     Through these consultations, I was able to identify several key areas of improvement, including national pharmacare, easier access to assisted living facilities, and financial security for our seniors.
    I would like to thank the member for Nickel Belt for his hard work with the national seniors strategy and for joining me in my riding.
     I am committed to continuing the conversation and ensuring that the voices of all seniors are heard across our country.

Forestry Industry

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's forest sector provides good jobs for families in communities all across the country. Constituents in my riding of Long Range Mountains are extremely concerned by the unjustified anti-dumping duties announced by the U.S. against Canadian forest workers.
     This government is defending the interests of softwood lumber workers by providing nearly a billion dollars to support workers, communities, and companies.
    However, today I am calling on our government to do more to stand up for pulp and paper workers by extending supports to help this industry. In my hometown, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper supports middle-class jobs, provides opportunities for resident across Newfoundland, and provides a market for our wood harvesters all throughout our riding.

Rare Diseases

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my support for the patients with rare disorders and their family members who came to Ottawa this week to meet parliamentarians and attend the Rare Disease Day conference held by CORD, Canada's national network for organizations representing all those with rare disorders. Their message was clear. We need to improve access to treatments for the 2.8 million Canadians affected by a rare disorder.
    The Canadian approval process for rare disease treatments or orphan drugs has been called a “Kafkaesque nightmare”. Fewer than 60% of orphan drugs make it into Canada, and only one in three Canadians with a rare disorder can access the treatments he or she needs. The federal government is failing to recognize that orphan drugs and rare diseases are complex issues that cannot simply be rolled under one umbrella regulatory review.
    Therefore, I call on the Minister of Health to introduce the orphan drug framework that was completed by the previous Conservative health minister, Rona Ambrose. Canadians with rare disorders need this vital framework to address the current challenges and, ultimately, to help improve and save their lives.

Child Care

    Mr. Speaker, since first being elected in Vancouver Quadra, one of the primary concerns I hear from constituents is the shortage of quality, affordable child care spaces. For example, wait times at UBC Childcare Services can reach two long years.
    With budget 2018, our government is making significant investments to address this shortage. We have committed $7.5 billion over 11 years to help fund early learning and child care in the provinces and territories. This much-needed investment will lower the cost for parents and create an estimated 40,000 new child care spaces.
    Recently, I was honoured to host UBC professor and Order of Canada recipient, Janet Werker, at my “MP Breakfast Connections”, to discuss her brain research on early child learning. She spoke of how a rich early learning experience sets the stage for success in life.
     This federal funding will increase parental options, help the economy, and improve the lives of many families in all our communities.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Cape Town, South Africa is about to completely run out of water within the next several weeks. With 20% of the world's freshwater resources, we may not think in Canada that we would ever find ourselves in a similar situation, but this essential resource is under serious threat from both the effects of climate change and our irresponsible management of it.
    In my region of southwestern Ontario, black shale, which can contain dangerous heavy metals like arsenic, has been tainting our well water. In Essex, extreme rainfall has been causing flooding across the community, and the growth of dangerous algal blooms on Lake Erie shut down Colchester Beach this past September.
     Throughout Canada, pollution and toxic chemicals leach into our waterways, extreme weather overstresses our aging infrastructure, and drinking water quality varies from province to province, but is most appalling in indigenous communities.
    Climate change will only make these current problems worse. We can no longer rely on our abundance of water resources as an excuse for our lack of action. Canada must become a better steward of this precious public resource.
     Today, on World Water Day, we must recognize that Canadians deserve better.

  (1415)  

Kidney Health Month

    Mr. Speaker, one in 10 people in Canada has kidney disease, but often patients show no symptoms until it is quite advanced. That is why early detection and prevention are so important.
    In the month of March, we recognize Kidney Health Month as an opportunity to talk about the four million Canadians living with chronic kidney disease and to recognize the estimated 3,000 Canadians who die every year from this illness. Although there is currently no cure for kidney disease, the best chance for improvement is through transplant, which is why Canada needs a national organ donor registry.
    I encourage all members of the House and all Canadians to recognize Kidney Health Month by speaking with their families and registering to become an organ donor.
    Together, we can all give the gift of life.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, we all recognize how important water is. We know that the most significant consequences of climate change will affect the world's water reserves. We also know that women and girls suffer to a disproportionate degree when water and sanitation facilities are lacking, since this affects their health and often causes them to miss school or work.

[English]

    Canada is a water nation and we can help the world achieve water security. We have the scientists, the entrepreneurs, the engineers, and the experience in the shared governance of international waters, such as the Great Lakes, to be a global water leader.
    World Water Day is an opportunity to reflect on the need to continue working on developing a multi-faceted vision for water that includes contributing to water security in the world, including through Canada's feminist foreign policy.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to public safety issues, someone once said this in the House:
...being able to ask questions is essential in a democracy, even in difficult situations—especially in difficult situations.
    Who said that? The Prime Minister when he was in opposition.
    If asking questions is essential to democracy, why is the Prime Minister obstructing the democratic process by refusing to let Daniel Jean appear before the public safety committee?
    Mr. Speaker, the central issue raised in the motion that is before the House today has to do with the invitation that was extended to a certain individual.
    The MP for Surrey Centre has taken responsibility for putting that name forward. When that mistake was discovered, the invitation was immediately rescinded. Those are the facts.
    Mr. Speaker, while I like the hon. member's tie, I do not like his response.
    Jaspal Atwal, the convicted terrorist at the centre of the India scandal, dismisses the Prime Minister's claims of an Indian conspiracy. The Liberal MP for Surrey Centre refutes the Prime Minister's claims by admitting responsibility. The Minister of Foreign Affairs refutes the Prime Minister's claims by saying it was an “honest mistake”.
    Only two people cling to the conspiracy theory, the Prime Minister and Daniel Jean. Which one will appear before the public safety committee?
    Mr. Speaker, the implications of the hon. gentleman's question in relation to Daniel Jean are truly unfortunate.
    He is in fact a public servant of 30, 35 years duration. He has held every senior diplomatic and national security post in the Government of Canada. He has served this country with distinction his entire lifetime. His only motivation in the public service is defending the national interests of Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, enough with the denials from the government and that minister. He needs to be accountable. There is no elevator in this chamber to save him.
    Members of Parliament deserve the same access to the national security adviser that the Prime Minister granted to the media. If the Prime Minister can send Daniel Jean to brief the media, why does he refuse to be transparent and not allow him to brief the democratically elected members of this House?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, when we read the motion that is before the House today, it focuses upon the invitation that was issued with respect to Mr. Atwal. In fact, the facts with respect to that invitation are abundantly clear.
    The name was put forward by the member for Surrey Centre. That was a mistake. When that mistake was discovered, the invitation was rescinded. By the way, that is entirely consistent in every respect with the remarks of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the crux of the matter is that there are two versions.
    On the one hand, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Atwal, the Indian government, and the member for Surrey Centre say that the invitation came from us. On the other hand, the Prime Minister backs his national security adviser and claims that it was an Indian plot.
    There are two versions. Canadians want to know which one is true. Mr. Jean must come to explain this himself.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. gentleman is misreading his own motion.
    The motion zeroes in on the question of the invitation. The member for Surrey Centre has accepted responsibility for putting forward the name. The name was a mistake. When the mistake was discovered, the invitation was rescinded.
     In the motion, there is a reference to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. That explanation is completely consistent with the position taken by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the minister has a lot of experience. He likes to play with words, but facts are facts. Forget the motion, Mr. Minister. We want to know—
    Order. The hon. member knows that he must always address his comments through the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, the fundamental problem is the Prime Minister himself. The Prime Minister does not want to let his national security adviser come and tell us the same thing he told reporters. The reporters got to hear what he had to say, but the members are not allowed to. Why is that?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the national security adviser is a public servant of long service to this country. He is a person who has served Canada, always, with honour and distinction.
    I certainly hope, in the remarks directed by the members of the opposition, that they are not impugning the integrity of Mr. Jean.

[Translation]

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, I asked the revenue minister to explain why the programs to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance received only $15 million of the $1 billion she had promised. Her only response was to regurgitate the same old talking points. Today, we learn that not only has the promised funding not materialized, but the number of tax evasion cases being investigated by the Canada Revenue Agency has dropped from 167 to just 75 over the past six years.
    How can she keep saying that fighting tax evasion is a priority when she refuses to invest the funding that she promised and the number of cases under investigation is dropping?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's rhetoric does not match reality. I invite him to reread the last three budgets. It has always been made clear that our investments cover a five-year period, to ensure that we can combat tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance strategically and over the long term. We are not going on a spending spree, we are making smart, targeted investments. So far, over $100 million from the 2016 and 2017 budgets has gone to support this important fight against tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.
    Mr. Speaker, if they spent only $15 million in two and a half years out of the five-year period, then they have $985 million left to spend.

[English]

    The Canada Revenue Agency operates in secrecy and shows no accountability, like the minister. For example, the general anti-avoidance rule committee decides what constitutes aggressive tax avoidance. It dictates what is right and what is wrong. We do not know who works on that committee, what it works on, or if it is accountable to anyone, yet we know this committee will shape Canadian tax policy for years to come.
    How can the Canada Revenue Agency expect to be trusted when everything it does is done behind closed doors?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would invite my colleague to try again. The general anti-avoidance rule committee provides advice on how to enforce the legislation. It is an ad hoc committee that has the expertise to handle complex cases. Only the NDP likes to spend for the sake of spending. There is nothing wrong with having a committee requiring no additional funding. Our government's position is clear. We are giving the CRA the necessary resources to target tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

  (1425)  

Taxation

    What a ridiculous answer, Mr. Speaker. Quebeckers and Canadians were clear with this government. They expect the Liberals to apply the same tax rules to web giants as to other businesses. It seems that the Liberals are finally starting to get it as they recently said that they would raise the issue at the G7 meeting. The only snag is that our partners are already asking web giants to pay their fair share. Oops. Other than the United States, Canada is the only country that lacks the courage to do so.
    How will the Minister of Finance explain this to his G7 counterparts?
    Mr. Speaker, it is very important to have an economy that works, it is very important to have a tax system that works, and it is also very important to conduct studies to ensure—
    Order. There seems to be a problem with the interpretation and the members cannot hear.
    It is working again.
    The hon. Minister of Finance.
    Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, it is important to conduct studies to ensure that our system is working. That is our approach. We know that changes are happening in our economy and in digital businesses. That is why we are carrying out studies, to make sure our system is still working. That is the approach we have chosen.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our partners, the countries in the G7, are moving to force the web giants to pay their fair share of taxes, yet the Liberal government still stands resolutely against a fair tax system. The finance minister just said that they will “study” the question. Canadians know what that means. For example, the Liberals have been studying pharmacare for 20 years. It means they will do nothing.
    Why will the government not act in the best interests of Canadians and force the web giants to pay their fair share of taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, as we consider the way our economy is changing, with large international firms that have new business models, we are going to carefully figure out how we can assure that our tax revenues stay, appropriately, the way they are today, and that those enterprises pay the appropriate level of tax.
    As we know, other G7 countries are working together with us and with the G20 to consider how we can do this together, because international firms working together on an international basis is most appropriate. We have agreed, at the G7 and G20, to work toward a 2020 deadline.

Privacy

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals assure us the 2016 pilot data project and contract with Mr. Wylie was one time, a quick $100,000 out the door, contract ended, let us move on.
    We now know two senior Liberal data specialists were on stage with Mr. Wylie at a conference later that year. One of them was the Liberal research bureau's director, and the other Brett Thalmann, now the director of special projects in the Prime Minister's Office.
    Could the minister explain this continuing relationship with Mr. Wylie at the highest levels of the PMO?
    Mr. Speaker, the LRB was clear and transparent in issuing the work statement yesterday, making it very clear that no information on Canadians was in any way compromised.
    Participating in conferences is not a new thing for political staffers. In fact, just a few weeks ago at the Manning Networking Conference, a Conservative conference, there was a closed book session on Facebook training. We do not know what was discussed at that session, because it was closed to the media. The Conservatives did not want Canadians to know what they were talking about behind closed doors.
    That is simply not adequate, Mr. Speaker. One is measured by those with whom one associates.
    Could the minister explain to the House whether the mining of Canadians' social media data, and the use of the results of such analysis to tilt future Canadian election outcomes falls under Mr. Thalmann's responsibilities as the director of special projects for the Prime Minister?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member brought up data mining, because Hamish Marshall, the Conservative campaign director, is also president of his own data mining company Torch. He also led a panel at the same Manning conference.
    Mr. Marshall has also gone further. He says on his website that he is “fearless in crafting an approach that pushes the boundaries, breaks the rules and harnesses the power of all digital channels.”
    Which rules does he intend to break in the next election for the Conservatives?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, who is Christopher Wylie? He is a guy who used dubious practices to harvest data from Facebook. This guy also worked with two Liberal leaders, and he worked on Donald Trump's presidential campaign. This same guy was hired by the Liberals, using taxpayer dollars, to collect voters' confidential personal data. The use of public money for this purpose is no small matter.
    Was this payback for the work he did on the Prime Minister's last election campaign?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Hamish Marshall, the Conservative campaign director for the next election, was also president and chief operating officer of Go Newclear 2011, when it bragged of providing everything from the standard tools like websites, email blasts, and web videos to social media management and infiltration.
    How much infiltration did Mr. Marshall do on behalf of the leader of the official opposition to help him win the leadership? Perhaps the member for Beauce and the member for Durham should be asking that question.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating to see how casually the government is taking the reports coming out in the media and around the world.
    Here are a few excerpts from the contract Christopher Wylie was given in 2016: “partner with members of the Liberal caucus and recruit constituents”; “monitor the performance of the Liberal members of Parliament in communicating with their constituents”; “setting up social-media monitoring tools”.
    Now we learn that, in August 2016, he worked with two senior specialists in the Prime Minister's Office.
    For the benefit of Canadians, could the Prime Minister explain the special relationship between Christopher Wylie and the Liberal Party's top officials?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we used a very secret strategy to win the 2015 election, and I want to share this with him.
    We actually put Canadians first. We focused on growing the middle class. In fact, in the last two years, that is exactly what we have done, creating 600,000 jobs, and the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. In fact, I will give him a little hint. We may use the same strategy in 2019 as well.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned the individual at the heart of the Facebook data leak, Christopher Wylie, was a long-time Liberal staffer. We know the Prime Minister hired him to collect information on Canadians. The Liberals claimed they never used what Mr. Wylie was offering, but they paid him $100,000 anyway. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives used data strategy when they engaged in a $100,000 contract with Agility PR Solutions. They have not actually provided the public with the statement of work. The LRB has actually done that. This individual had a brief contract to do a pilot for LRB. That contract was not renewed.
     Hamish Marshall is the campaign director for the Conservative Party for the next election. Perhaps they should be explaining their association with somebody who actively data mines all the time.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, we know the Liberals hired Christopher Wylie in 2016, but they claim he did not do any work for the government. We also know he received $100,000 of taxpayers' money for services rendered.
    If he really did not do any work, why was he paid? Was it payback for his help in the 2015 campaign?
    Mr. Speaker, the contract commenced in January 2016. Later that year, that pilot was completed, and the LRB did not renew it.
    In terms of Facebook ads, in terms of using Facebook, right now the NDP have four ads running on Facebook, the Liberal Party has 25, and the Conservatives have 247 ads on Facebook, 240 of which are used to attack Liberal MPs. It is very clear that the party is quite familiar on how to use Facebook.

Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, auto manufacturers remain united in their opposition to the TPP, and believe the side letters with Japan do nothing to help Canada gain market access. The Liberals refuse to acknowledge that this trade agreement will harm the auto industry and the good-paying jobs that it supports.
    Auto's major stakeholders have called the side letters useless, and the ministers claims laughable. Auto workers, auto manufacturers, and Canadians have real and fair concerns about their future.
    The minister claims he is Canada's chief marketing officer, so why does he continue to ignore the very real fears of Canada's second largest exporter?
    Mr. Speaker, trade helps strengthen the middle class by attracting job-creating investment in Canada, and expanding export opportunities for Canadian businesses to large and fast-growing markets. With CPTPP, Canada will soon have preferential access to half a billion customers in the world's most dynamic and fast-growing market. This will strengthen Canadian businesses, grow the economy, and create more well-paying jobs for middle-class Canadians.
     Our government negotiated the CPTPP to create and sustain growth, prosperity, and well-paying jobs for all Canadians. We wanted a good deal, and that is what we achieved.

[Translation]

Dairy Industry

    Mr. Speaker, dairy producers are tired of the Liberals using them as bargaining chips. CETA and the TPP alone will cost producers over $300 million per year, and there is no telling how much the Liberals will leave on the table in NAFTA negotiations and talks with Mercosur.
    Will the Liberals stop using them as bargaining chips? When will they get that dairy producers are vital to regions such as the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I can assure my hon. colleague and the House that our party is the party that fought to implement supply management, and will continue to defend supply management.
    As an example, when we put the program in place, we put $350 million in the program to make sure that supply management of the dairy industry remained on the cutting edge; $250 million to make sure the farmers stayed on the cutting edge; and $100 million to make sure that processors stayed on the cutting edge. We have and will continue to make sure that the supply management system remains strong in this country.

[Translation]

Privacy

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, while the government was tying itself in knots over whether to call people Mr., Mrs., Ms., or God-knows-what, Canadians were busy dealing with real problems.
    For one thing, we found out that Canada Post lost 427 passports last year. That is unacceptable. We also found out that the Canada Revenue Agency lost track of 21,000 documents. That, too, is unacceptable. That information is private, important, and extremely sensitive.
    What is the government going to do about this ineptitude?
    Mr. Speaker, the CRA takes the protection of Canadians' tax information very seriously because the trust of individuals and businesses is the cornerstone of Canada's tax system.
    The vast majority of breaches reported were the result of misdirected mail. The CRA is one of the government’s largest service organizations, with more than 40,000 employees. It thoroughly investigates all security breaches and possible breaches of confidentiality of taxpayer information and takes appropriate action.

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    Mr. Speaker, it is the same old story. It is not my fault, it is Canada Post's fault. That is what the minister just said.
    This is a very serious matter. The Canada Revenue Agency lost 21,000 files. That means 21,000 Canadians do not know exactly what the government is doing with their files. This is extremely important. It is about security. Either people trust the government or they do not.
    What will the minister do instead of blaming Canada Post?
    Mr. Speaker, had my colleague opposite listened carefully to my answer, he would know that I did not blame Canada Post.
     What I said was that the agency takes the protection of Canadians' tax information very seriously because the trust of individuals is the cornerstone of Canada's tax system. The vast majority of breaches reported were the result of misdirected mail. The agency is one of the largest service organizations, with more than 40,000 employees. It thoroughly investigates all security breaches and possible breaches of confidentiality, and takes appropriate action.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, in February 2017, the Minister of Environment told the House that all of the carbon tax revenues would go back to provincial governments, and none of it would go to the federal Liberal government. Last week though, the government quietly released a document which said that these revenues did not include those in respect of the GST charged on products and services that may have embedded carbon pricing costs on them.
    In other words, the Liberals are going to collect GST on the carbon tax that Canadians are forced to pay. Why is the Environment Minister breaking her word and taxing the tax?
    Mr. Speaker, I always love getting up to answer the questions regarding putting a price on pollution from the opposition members. I am glad that the hon. member is very interested in learning more, because we want to put a price on what we do not want, pollution, so that we can get what we do want, innovation and reduced GHG, so we can have a sustainable planet for our kids and grandkids.
    In terms of GST, it applies as a final price on all goods and services. This has always been the case as the member well knows.
    It's a tax on a tax.
    Order. The hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands may not like the answer. I know he can restrain himself from talking throughout the answer.
    The hon. member for Carleton.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister says the GST applies on all goods and services. Is the carbon tax a good or a service? Canadians are paying this tax on their home heating, their gas to get to work, indirectly on their groceries, and now they will be forced to pay a tax on that tax. This is among the most regressive taxes disproportionately targeting poor and working class people.
    Why is the government taking from those with the least and putting a tax on a tax?
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The most regressive thing one can do is do nothing on climate change.
    Climate change is real. It is actually a tax on future generations. We are paying the price right now. We are paying $100 billion on the impacts of climate change, from floods to forest fires and droughts. That is happening across the country. Canadians know it is real. I really wish the party opposite would actually show it cares about taking serious climate action now.

[Translation]

Privacy

    Mr. Speaker, recent scandals, such as those connected to Facebook and Equifax, have shown that the public's personal information is increasingly at risk. We are calling on the federal government to take action. However, we have to wonder whether this government is in a position to do anything, since this government itself is a sieve. Canada Post misplaced passports, Revenue Canada lost personal information, and the CSE lost confidential information.
    When will the Liberals take real action to protect Canadians' privacy?
     Mr. Speaker, as I have said, the agency takes the protection of Canadians' tax information very seriously because the trust of individuals and businesses is the cornerstone of Canada's tax system. The vast majority of breaches reported were the result of misdirected mail. The agency is one of the government’s largest service organizations, with more than 40,000 employees. It thoroughly investigates all security breaches and possible breaches of confidentiality of taxpayer information. We will take appropriate action.