Skip to main content Start of content

House Publications

The Debates are the report—transcribed, edited, and corrected—of what is said in the House. The Journals are the official record of the decisions and other transactions of the House. The Order Paper and Notice Paper contains the listing of all items that may be brought forward on a particular sitting day, and notices for upcoming items.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication
Skip to Document Navigation Skip to Document Content

42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 300

CONTENTS

Thursday, May 24, 2018




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 300
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[Translation]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, three reports from the Canadian delegation of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
     The first is respecting the bilateral visit to Tanzania and Zambia, held in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma, Tanzania, and in Lusaka, Zambia, from August 20 to 30, 2017.
    The second is respecting the 63rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from November 1 to 8, 2017, and the bilateral visit to Colombo, Sri Lanka, from November 8 to 11, 2017.
    The third is respecting the 66th Westminster Seminar on Practice and Procedure, held in London, United Kingdom, from November 11 to 17, 2017.

[English]

Committees of the House

Veterans Affairs 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, entitled “A Seamless Transition to Civilian Life For All Veterans: It's Time For Action”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

[Translation]

Public Safety and National Security  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 20th report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security entitled “Main Estimates 2018-19”.

[English]

Diabetes Awareness Month Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to introduce an act to designate the month of November as diabetes awareness month. As the chair of the all-party diabetes caucus and a member of the Standing Committee on Health, my colleagues and I have heard about the extreme hardships and enormous demands on our health care system caused by diabetes.
     Roughly 11 million Canadians suffer from diabetes and pre-diabetes, with a new diagnosis every three minutes. This terrible disease is a major cause of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, and lower limb amputation.
    I would like to commend many of the organizations that are doing great work to combat this disease, such as Diabetes Canada, Diabetes Action Canada, JDRF, the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association, Diabetes Québec, and many others. Let us combat this disease by giving them access to essential diabetes medicines, technologies, education, and information to help remove barriers to cost-effective prevention resources.
    With the support of all my colleagues in Parliament, there is no reason the country that gave insulin to the world cannot lead the fight to defeat diabetes.

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

  (1005)  

Trans Mountain Pipeline Project Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present Bill S-245, the Trans Mountain pipeline project act, in the House of Commons.
    The Trans Mountain expansion was approved in the national interest more than a year and a half ago. It faced multiple organized, well-financed challenges and delays immediately, and remains at risk.
    Six weeks ago, Kinder Morgan suspended all non-essential spending and set a deadline of May 31. Last week, Kinder Morgan said:
    We remain steadfast in our previously stated principles: clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct...and ensuring adequate protection of our KML shareholders.
    Bill S-245 would declare the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and related works to be for the general advantage of Canada. It would make explicit that all works related to the pipeline would be under the federal government's jurisdiction, including all local roads, bridges, power connections, and the ongoing operation and maintenance of the pipeline. Therefore, the pipeline could not be held up any longer by other levels of government or anti-energy activists.
    Without real action to remove roadblocks and without certainty, Kinder Morgan officials have said that the risks and costs may be too much to bear. The problem is not, and has never been, about money; it is about certainty.
     The Trans Mountain expansion is vital to Canada. It is in the best interest of the whole country. This crisis damages Canada's reputation as a place for investment, our future standard of living, our ability to create middle-class jobs, and reduce poverty.
    I urge all members to act expeditiously—
    I would remind hon. members that the introduction of bills is a time to explain what the bill is about and not to make the case for it. That will come at the second reading debate.

     (Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Commemorative Plague for Sam Sharpe

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to bring a unanimous consent motion, seconded by the member for Pickering—Uxbridge, in relation to the commemoration of a member of Parliament and First World War soldier named Sam Sharpe.
    The motion is about remembrance and reducing the stigma associated with mental injuries from service. It is the result of the personal support of a number of members of the House. I would like to recognize some of these MPs to show Canadians that remembrance of this nature is beyond partisanship.
    To start, I would like to recognize the Minister of Veterans Affairs for his support of the motion, and of course the seconder of the motion, the member for Pickering—Uxbridge, who represents the modern riding once represented by Sam Sharpe.
     I would also like to thank and recognize the tremendous efforts of the following members: the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, the member forParkdale—High Park, the member for Don Valley West, the member for Kingston and the Islands, the member for Winnipeg Centre, the member for Burlington, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, the member for Barrie—Innisfil, the member for Brantford—Brant, the member for Yorkton—Melville, the member for Cariboo—Prince George, the member for Souris—Moose Mountain, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, the member for Victoria, the member for Beloeil—Chambly, and the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

  (1010)  

[Translation]

    Without the support of numerous parliamentarians, including former senator Roméo Dallaire, and without the support of numerous veterans and passionate Canadians across the country, we would not be able to commemorate the First World War victories we are so proud of and the heartbreaking sacrifices of those who served our country.

[English]

    Following the provision of detailed information on the history of Sam Sharpe to all members of the chamber and as a result of discussions among the parties, if you seek it, Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That, the House:
(a) recognize that Samuel Simpson Sharpe (i) was elected to the House of Commons in 1908, 1911 and 1917, (ii) raised the 116th Battalion from Ontario County and fought with his battalion at Vimy Ridge, Avion, Hill 70 and Passchendaele, (iii) was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallant leadership, (iv) was the only sitting Member of Parliament re-elected in the 1917 election while fighting on active service at the front, (v) tragically died by suicide at the Royal Victoria Hospital on May 25, 1918, and that for unknown reasons after the re-opening of Centre Block in 1920 there was no plaque or marker ordered to commemorate the service and memory of Samuel Simpson Sharpe; and
(b) on this day, one day before the 100th anniversary of the tragic death of Mr. Sharpe, call for the commemorative bronze plaque of Samuel Simpson Sharpe, sculpted by Canadian artist Tyler Briley, to be installed in the Centre Block ahead of the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War and for the Minister of Veterans Affairs to be given the discretion by this motion to allow for the Samuel Simpson Sharpe plaque to be loaned to the Royal Ottawa Operational Stress Injury Clinic, or another suitable mental health treatment facility, for the duration of the closure of Centre Block with the intention that the plaque be returned to its place of installation in Centre Block once it re-opens.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

Petitions

Banking Services  

    Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by the people of Dubreuilville and White River, who are concerned that banks are shutting down in rural communities across the north. Last fall, RBC closed the only bank in Dubreuilville and in Massey.
    The petitioners note that many Canadians do not have access to broadband Internet or reliable cell service to access online banking services. The petitioners add that many also prefer to conduct banking transactions in person.

[English]

    The petitioners state that with no local option, people are being asked to travel to communities that actually have banks, which places them at unnecessary risk. For people in Dubreuilville, the closest bank is now one hour away. They are concerned that these bank closures can lead to economic instability. They also add that banks charge customers who want to switch to financial institutions that may be closer. They raise the fact that banks are posting record profits at the same time that they claim they cannot afford to maintain services in small communities.
    The petitioners call on the government to work with federally regulated financial institutions to ensure that rural consumers and businesses have access to local banking services, and for the introduction of a three- to six-month penalty-free period to move financial business elsewhere when closures occur.

  (1015)  

Campgrounds  

    Mr. Speaker, this week, as we celebrate Canadian RV and Camping Week, I table this petition on behalf of campground owners and operators who are the hard-working small business owners right across the country who play a crucial role in our tourism industry. It certainly is a sector that is dominated by small business.
    Every year millions of Canadians go camping and enjoy the beautiful outdoors right across the country. Unfortunately, the CRA has deemed that these private campgrounds are not eligible for the small business tax deduction, resulting in a tax hike that is 300% higher for some of these small businesses.
    The petitioners call on the government to ensure that hard-working private campground owners qualify for the small business tax deduction, like all other small businesses.

[Translation]

Labelling of Genetically Modified Foods  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the following petitions on the labelling of genetically modified foods. The petitioners are from Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey, from Saint-Lucien, and from across Drummond, as well as from other parts of Quebec.
    They are calling on the government to give Canadian consumers access to all necessary information with respect to genetically modified foods, in light of Health Canada's approval of the sale of genetically modified salmon. They are calling on the Government of Canada to pass legislation on mandatory labelling for genetically modified foods.

[English]

Pharmacare  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to table today yet another petition from constituents of Winnipeg North emphasizing the importance of a national pharmacare system that would cover prescription drugs. They join great organizations like Unifor, which is out today promoting pharmacare, the Canadian Labour Congress; and many other organizations.

Religious Freedom  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present three petitions. The first one calls on the House of Commons to permit Christians to robustly exercise their religious beliefs and conscience rights, both in their private and public acts, without coercion, constraint, or discrimination.

Canada Summer Jobs Program  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the government to rescind its discriminatory Canada summer jobs program attestation. Petitioners call on the government to remove the discriminatory requirement and allow Canadians to continue to exercise their freedom of religion and freedom of expression without facing institutionalized discrimination by the Government of Canada.

Phoenix Pay System  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition calls on the Government of Canada to abolish the Phoenix pay system and replace it with a pay system that has been proven to work with a variety of pay levels, hours of work, and collective agreements; to pay all monies that are owed to public servants completely and on time; and to stop wasting taxpayers' money.

Cycling  

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise and table a petition on behalf of Canadians who would like to see a national cycling strategy. It is timely, because next week is Bike to Work Week and, of course, it is national cycling day on the Hill.
    Cycling is one of the most sustainable methods of transportation, requiring fewer natural resources and producing less waste than any other transportation alternative. The benefits of cycling should be made available to all Canadians, regardless of age, ability, gender, economic status, or location. A national cycling strategy would promote research, upgrade infrastructure projects, and establish a clear framework for investment in support of and and to increase all types of cycling in Canada, including commuter, tourism, and recreational cycling. We know it plays a positive role in healthy lifestyles and reduces health care spending. A national cycling strategy would enhance national safety standards, including measures like mandatory side guards for trucks. Increased cycling would also support Canada's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    The hon. member for Alberni will be pleased to hear that I was cycling this morning, as a matter of fact.
    The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.

Palliative Care  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my constituents and present three petitions this morning.
    The first petition notes that the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion calling on the government to create a national strategy on palliative care to ensure that every Canadian has access to high quality palliative care at the end of life. The petitioners note that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that competent and consenting adults who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring and intolerable suffering should be allowed to access physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia. They note it is impossible for a person to give informed consent to assisted suicide if appropriate palliative care is unavailable to them. Therefore, they are calling upon Parliament to establish a national strategy on palliative care.

  (1020)  

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition from members of my riding calls upon the government to scrap Bill C-71, an act to amend certain acts and regulations in relation to firearms, and to instead devote greater resources to policing in Canada.

Canada Summer Jobs Program  

    Mr. Speaker, members of my communities are calling on the Canadian government to recognize that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms identifies, among other things, freedom of conscience, freedom of thought, and freedom of belief as fundamental freedoms, and that the Government of Canada must defend the rights of all Canadians, regardless of whether the current Liberal government agrees with the specific views held by individual Canadians.
    The petitioners believe that the current Liberal government's proposed attestation, requiring Canada summer jobs program applicants to hold the same views as the government, contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to defend the freedoms of conscience, thought, and belief, and withdraw the attestation requirement for applications to the Canada summer jobs program.

Firearms  

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that you were cycling this morning. Hopefully, you were also target-shooting or hunting this morning, because I am tabling an important petition on firearms. It refers to the 10-round magazine reclassification enforced by the RCMP, and asks for the power of the RCMP to arbitrarily make classification decisions on firearms to be removed. Many of my constituents are concerned about the fact that arbitrary reclassification can happen where a firearm previously deemed to be safe suddenly is no longer deemed safe. This reclassification could affect anyone, even you. Therefore, I commend this petition to the consideration of the House.
    I thank the hon. member, though it would be challenging to hunt and cycle on a bicycle. I did see a deer this morning, he would be interested to know.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

[Translation]

Poverty  

    Mr. Speaker, I have honour to rise today to present a petition from my constituents.
    This petition is about poverty, and it calls on the House of Commons to adopt a national poverty strategy to provide for fair, sustainable living conditions for all Canadians.

[English]

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

Federal Sustainable Development Act

    The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

[English]

Speaker’s Ruling  

    There is one motion in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-57. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.

Motions in amendment  

    That Bill C-57 be amended by deleting Clause 5.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-57 again. This bill, effectively, would amend the current Federal Sustainable Development Act. Members may recall that in a previous Parliament, it was John Baird and the Conservative Party that strongly supported the original legislation, brought forward under a private member's bill, to establish the Federal Sustainable Development Act. That act requires that all government decision-making be reviewed through an environmental, economic, and social lens in the appropriate balance. That is the rub: “in the appropriate balance”.
    The bill before us today aims to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent, first; more certain, second; and subject to greater accountability, third, especially within government. This bill would require more departments and agencies of government—in other words, additional departments and agencies—to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy, bringing the total to more than 90 departments and agencies from the current 26. The bill would also require these departments and agencies to prepare specific strategies to ensure sustainability and to table progress reports on their implementation.
    Bill C-57 would also increase from three to six the number of indigenous representatives sitting on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Government, of course, relies heavily on these advisory councils to provide it with strategic advice on the implementation of that legislation. The bill would expand the council's mandate and provide that representatives appointed to the council may be compensated for expenses. We just heard the Speaker mention that a motion was being tabled that addresses the issue of remuneration. It has been my party's position that although the members of this advisory council should be compensated and reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses such as travel and lodging, they should not be remunerated. This should not be a job they do, but their contribution to society in making sure that Canada has an effective sustainable development plan.
    The act would be subject to a mandatory review every five years. It has already been studied at the environment committee, on which I sit, where the Conservative members strongly supported it, subject to the amendments that have been brought forward this morning. We strongly believe that any decision government makes should always be reviewed through the lens of sustainability and should ensure that social, environmental, and economic factors are in the appropriate balance. This act also supports a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development.
    As I mentioned earlier, the challenge, the real rub, is finding the appropriate balance among those three: social, environmental, and economic considerations, especially the balance between the environment and the economy. Our friends in the Liberal Party are fond of saying that the environment and the economy go hand in hand, which is a nice platitude, but the implementation of that intent is a different matter altogether. We see major failures in the Liberal Party's efforts to implement sustainability in Canada. Despite the fact that the Liberals brought forward this legislation, which is supposed to strengthen sustainability in Canada, their performance reflects quite a different approach. It is one that pits Canadian against Canadian, province against province, and the federal government against province and territory. While in government, the Liberals have not found it as easy as it may seem to implement sustainability.
    I will begin by highlighting the relationship among the provinces, the territories, and the federal government. Members may recall that the Prime Minister, when running for election in 2015, made a host of promises, most of which have been broken.

  (1025)  

    One promise the Prime Minister made, which is now broken, was to usher in a new era of co-operative federalism. Nobody understood exactly what he meant, but everybody took him at his word. They assumed he was a man of his word and had every intention of doing this. In fact, he then began to interpret sustainability as having one's cake and eating it too.
    When the Prime Minister was in British Columbia, he would pretend he was the champion of the environment. He would talk about the oceans protection plan and how we have to move off fossil fuels. However, when the Prime Minister was in Alberta to appease the residents there, whose livelihoods depend on our oil and gas, our resource sector, he would claim he was the great champion of the energy sector, again wanting to have his cake and eat it too and trying to be all things to all people. Those of us who have been involved in business, who have had to pay salaries and make important decisions within our businesses, know that we cannot be all things to all people. Tough decisions have to be made that serve the greater interests of Canadians.
    There was our Prime Minister travelling across the country and pretending to be all things to all people, and suddenly the Trans Mountain pipeline comes along. He tells our friends in Alberta that if they implement a massive carbon tax, Albertans will win the social licence to be able to build the Trans Mountain pipeline to get their crude oil to foreign markets, get their crude oil to tidewater, where ships can then take that oil to foreign markets where it will fetch the highest price.
    Trusting the Prime Minister, the Government of Alberta moves ahead with this massive carbon tax, which is hurting Albertans right across that province. I know some of my colleagues will share the pain being suffered by Albertans.
    Now the Trans Mountain pipeline wants to move forward. Kinder Morgan wants to start building that project, but British Columbia steps up and says it opposes a pipeline coming through British Columbia. Even though there is an existing one there and all we are doing is twinning it, British Columbia is opposed. Now we have a war between the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, a fight between the provinces and the federal government, and there is an appalling lack of leadership on the part of the Prime Minister, who had made a promise that if Alberta implemented this heavy-handed carbon tax, at least it would get a social licence out of it. Now it turns out there is no social licence. In fact, there never will be a social licence.
    Canadians have been misled by the Prime Minister, but it gets worse. We are talking about sustainability, finding the appropriate balance for our economic prosperity as a country, using our resources wisely, getting the maximum dollar for them, getting them to markets, and then a report comes out from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Actually, it emanates out of the Auditor General's office. In this report, dated March of 2018, we read that in Canada greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, which the government committed to reduce, are expected to be nearly 20% above target. This whole report from the commissioner is riddled with criticism of the government's performance on the environment file.
    Then we have Bill C-69, which is the impact assessment act revisions, which were intended to shorten timelines and provide more predictability and certainty for approvals of resource projects and pipelines. In fact, we are now hearing from industry that these timelines are much longer than they were before and that there are many additional criteria that are going to make it even more difficult for resource projects to be approved in Canada. As a result, what we are finding is that on the economic side, we are losing out.

  (1030)  

    We have a Prime Minister who pretends he is the defender of our economy, but who in fact is completely pandering to the environmental movement and those who are on the extreme left.
     I would suggest that this legislation, although it does reflect the consensus of the parties within this House, has not been implemented by the Liberals in their actions and in their legislation.
    Madam Speaker, I believe the member is just wrong in his assertion.
    In fact, what we have, for the first time in many years, is a Prime Minister who understands how important it is to work with stakeholders, whether it is indigenous people or other levels of government. The proof is in the pudding. We can talk about the environmental agreements between the provinces and Ottawa, the health care agreements between the provinces and Ottawa, or the CPP agreement that was achieved between Ottawa and the provinces. When we talk about working with the environment and the economy, it is the government that gets it and the opposition that does not quite understand.
     As the member across the way tries to go on as if the Conservatives know what they are doing on the environment, can he clearly indicate to this House why the Conservatives seem to have only one approach when it comes to energy development, which is full steam ahead? The Conservatives do not necessarily negotiate or have discussions, or even seem to care about the environment. Why is that the case?

  (1035)  

    Madam Speaker, the evidence shows otherwise. In fact, it was under our previous Conservative government that greenhouse gas emissions actually went down for the first time in Canadian history. We were the only government under which that happened.
    My colleague suggests that somehow the Liberal government has this wonderful relationship with stakeholders and a wonderful relationship with indigenous communities, while his relationship with the provinces and territories is completely falling apart. The government is in a fight with Saskatchewan on the carbon tax and in a fight with Alberta and British Columbia on the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
    When it comes to indigenous communities, at our environment committee we just finalized voting on all the amendments to Bill C-69 that were brought forward, which I referenced earlier. Members may recall that the Prime Minister promised that he was going to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so members will be surprised to hear what happened at committee: our Liberal friends over here, every time someone brought forward an amendment to include UNDRIP within that legislation, voted against it on at least 25 occasions. They were speaking out of both sides of their mouth.
    The Prime Minister is all over the country pretending he is one thing in one area and another when he is in a different region of the country. It is hypocrisy at its very worst.
    Madam Speaker, the member for Abbotsford just made a statement that the Conservatives were responsible for a decrease in emissions. What the Conservatives tend to overlook is that over 2008 and 2009, we had a worldwide recession. Would the member not agree that the corresponding decline in industrial output and activity was probably more responsible for the decrease in emissions than any Conservative policy could have hoped to have been?
    Madam Speaker, we experienced unprecedented growth over the 10 years that we were in office. We led the G7 in economic growth. Let that be clear on the floor of this House. We had the best growth in the G7 countries.
    We understood the appropriate balance between the economy and the environment. When I think of an NDP government, let us imagine what that would be like. It was a disaster in Ontario. The last one we had in British Columbia was an unmitigated disaster. Let us remember the fast ferry fiasco. It just went on and on. My colleague, unfortunately, is not qualified to comment on economic growth.
    I can say that the previous Conservative government was the only one that has seen a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, while today's Liberal government here in Ottawa has been held responsible by the commissioner for failing to meet its targets. In fact, the United Nations itself has said that we are going to be somewhere in the order of 90 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions short of our targets under the Paris Agreement. This is a government of capital-F failure.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
    Madam Speaker, this discussion is actually supposed to be about the Federal Sustainable Development Act, but we would not know it from the speech or the responses from the member for Abbotsford.
    The member for Abbotsford supported the bill at second reading and at committee and did not move a motion to amend the bill in this way, so why now? The member also moved an amendment at second reading to clarify remuneration of reasonable expenses, which the committee accepted, so why this amendment now? This is simply a delay tactic, trying to waste the time of the House by talking about things that have no bearing on a bill that the member supported. The amendments he moved at committee were accepted. This is just a waste of people's time.

  (1040)  

    I'm sorry, but it was to be resuming debate. The hon. parliamentary secretary was asking a question. I will not allow the member for Abbotsford to respond, but should the member wish to continue his speech, he can.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to address my colleagues in the House and to reaffirm our government’s commitment to sustainable development and future generations of Canadians.

[English]

    Through Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the government is working to ensure that decision-making related to sustainable development is more transparent, is subject to accountability, and promotes coordination across the Government of Canada.
    Let me begin by thanking all members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work.

[Translation]

    The committee’s hard work has led us to a stronger and more transparent bill, which builds on the government’s commitment to promote consultation and public engagement.

[English]

    It is this last point that I would like to speak to today.
    Worldwide we are seeing a resurgence of interest and desire to promote sustainable development and take action on climate change. By adopting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Canada will contribute to a global framework of action that strives for global sustainable development and aims to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind.
    Through its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the historic Paris Agreement, Canada is also signalling a renewed global commitment to address climate change.

[Translation]

    It is in this global context that we find ourselves, resolutely committed to ensuring that Canada is a sustainable development leader.

[English]

    That is why we are proposing amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that would propel us along a path to a sustainable future and ensure that we have the interests of future generations in mind.
    The current federal sustainable development strategy is the strongest to date. It was developed using an inclusive participatory approach aimed at engaging and involving all Canadians. We released the draft strategy in February 2016 and asked Canadians to share with us their vision for a sustainable Canada and to suggest how we could strengthen transparency and accountability. The response was unprecedented. Canadians provided more than 540 written comments, 12 times the response received to the previous strategy. On social media they contributed about 900 posts and replies on the draft strategy. Overall, the draft strategy had a reach of more than 400,000 people over the course of the public consultation period.

[Translation]

    We heard from individual Canadians who are fully committed and indicated that they are interested, engaged, and passionate about sustainable development.

[English]

    We also heard from provincial governments, indigenous organizations, industry and professional associations, academics, and environmental non-governmental organizations. The strategy also benefited from the standing committee's review of the act and its recommendations. Evidence from the review included insightful testimony from witnesses such as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the Hon. John Godfrey, the originator of the bill that became the act. We also spoke with the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, with representatives from each province and territory, as well as with members drawn from indigenous peoples, organizations representing business, organizations representing labour, and environmental non-governmental organizations.
     In the public consultations, Canadians showed their support for the strategy, as well as for the 2030 agenda and other key sustainable development initiatives. They also appreciated the accessibility and transparency of the strategy, and the government's openness to receiving comments and input. However, Canadians also stressed that they are looking to the government for further progress and improvements, including greater inclusiveness to further guarantee the development of a strategy that engages all Canadians.
     As a response, we felt we could go beyond improving the strategy, to improve the act itself. That is why, spurred by the standing committee's unanimous recommendations, our government introduced Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
    The Federal Sustainable Development Act already requires the government to engage Canadians through public consultations on the federal sustainable development strategy, including through the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. However, we wanted to further increase the effectiveness of our engagement activities, starting with improvements to the council itself.
    Bill C-57 would position the council to be better able to advise the Minister of Environment and Climate Change on matters related to sustainable development referred to it by the minister. Expertise and advice from the council would be sought on the development of the draft federal sustainable development strategy before it goes to public consultation. The council could also be asked to review the draft FSDS progress report during its development and to provide suggestions on its form, content, and direction. Similar to the current practice of including a summary of the council's comments on the federal sustainable development strategy, a summary of advice could also be made public by including it either in the federal sustainable development strategy or in the progress report.
    Our bill also proposes to double the number of indigenous representatives from three to six. The Minister of Environment would further reflect the diversity of Canadian society by taking into account demographic considerations such as age and gender when appointing representatives to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.
     In addition, we have removed previous restrictions that denied council members reimbursement for reasonable costs incurred by them in connection with the business of the council. The proposed amendment would remove the prohibition on reimbursement of Sustainable Development Advisory Council members, in order to enhance effective engagement and inclusiveness. This was framed and was a recommendation by the member for Abbotsford.
    The current act does not allow council members to be remunerated or reimbursed for their expenses, because it was part of a private member's bill. What that has meant in practice is that the council has been convened only virtually and by teleconference to review draft federal sustainable development strategies, and that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change has never met face to face with the council. Members are located in every province and territory from coast to coast to coast. Changing this would further help to minimize financial constraints on participants, particularly youth and members located in rural Canada. It would be unfortunate if individuals with a great deal to offer do not consider putting their name forward to be part of the council because they could not afford to participate.
    Enabling the government to compensate or reimburse SDAC members would provide the ability for the council to play a more effective role in shaping the government's sustainable development approach. It would also enable the minister to engage with the council through in-person meetings or by bringing clusters of members together when appropriate.

  (1045)  

[Translation]

    We believe these changes would increase the ability of the council to guide and support our sustainable development agenda.

[English]

    These proposed changes also reinforce the addition of numerous sustainable development principles. In addition to the basic principle and the precautionary principle, which are already included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the bill adds principles of intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the importance of involving aboriginal peoples, collaboration, and results and delivery.
     Let me say a few words about these principles, which will guide the government's plans and actions on sustainable development. The principles emphasize that sustainable development is a continually evolving concept and allow the government to address new and emerging issues within future strategies. They also highlight approaches that the government should consider when developing sustainable development strategies.
     In particular, the principle of intergenerational equity is the essence of sustainable development. It is the recognition that the decisions we make are not just about today but about tomorrow and far off into the future.
    The polluter pays principle and the internalization of costs are also integral to sustainable development: that we must go beyond thinking of economic growth in conventional terms and stop seeing environmental damages as externalities.
    The principle of openness and transparency supports the Federal Sustainable Development Act's stated purpose to make decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament.
     The Government of Canada is committed to advancing reconciliation with indigenous peoples through a renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-crown, and government-to-government relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Our principle of involving indigenous peoples reflects this commitment, as well as their unique understanding of and connection to Canada's lands and waters, and the important role of traditional knowledge in supporting sustainable development.
    Sustainable development requires contributions and actions from all parts of society: the public and private sectors and civil society. The principle of collaboration is about that joint pursuit of our common objectives.
    The government has made it clear from its first day in office that we are committed to results and delivery.

[Translation]

    Our principle on results and delivery emphasizes the importance of developing sound sustainable development objectives, associated strategies, indicators for measuring progress, and accountabilities. The Federal Sustainable Development Act must promote real change.

[English]

    The proposed amendments to the principles are to be considered in the development of sustainable development strategies. Building more flexibility into the advisory council's role builds on these principles, particularly the principles of involving indigenous peoples, collaboration, and transparency and accountability, by providing an external perspective on sustainable development and ensuring that our federal sustainable development strategy reflects the diversity of Canada.
     I hope that highlighting some of the major features of our bill would give members a better sense of how we can collectively move toward a more sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. I am sure this is something all members of the House fully support.

  (1050)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to probe the member's comments about the great work done on this bill at committee, with all due respect to those who are on the committee. The member may not know this, as I am not sure he was present during the marathon that took place at the environment committee. I was there subbing in. There was a programming motion at committee that prevented any debate on any of the amendments after nine o'clock, which meant that amendments were immediately voted up or down with no discussion, no explanation from the mover, and no debate.
    Hundreds of amendments were proposed, many coming from the Liberal side, which suggests that maybe there were some issues with the bill that the Liberals had not thought through when they initially proposed it. More to the point, members were expected to vote on changes to an omnibus bill with no discussion or even explanation allowed whatsoever.
    We owe it to Canadians to give them the best, most well-considered legislation we can. Simply as a matter of process, does the member think that this is an appropriate way for the committee, the one place where people are supposed to be experts and actually dig into the details, to be considering amendments? Does he think this is something the government would consider doing in the future with other omnibus bills it has?
    Madam Speaker, I think the hon. member may be a bit confused. The discussion today is on Bill C-57, which is about the Federal Sustainable Development Act, and I think he is referring to a completely different bill. The amendment that was moved by one of his colleagues relates to Bill C-57, which is about the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
    I have to say that it is a bit disappointing to see the opposition trying to politicize a bill that we all support, on all sides of the House. One of the great disappointments for many of us who got into politics quite recently is how everything, even things we agree on, tends to end up in a partisan discussion inside this chamber. The hon. member who moved the motion and I have a very good relationship outside the House. However, I am always surprised at how narrowly partisan some of the things that I hear coming out of his mouth in the chamber are.
    I am proud of the work that was done by the committee on this bill. I am proud of the bill itself. It is something that all parties in the House have indicated they support on a go-forward basis. In the spirit of the non-partisan way in which the committee worked, I would simply ask that we continue to talk about a bill that we all support and leave some of the partisanship aside.
    Madam Speaker, first, I have to correct the hon. member, whom I appreciate dialoguing with and enjoy working with. I think everybody in the House supports the idea that there should be sustainable development, but that does not necessarily mean that we think the act is as it should be. To be absolutely correct, yes, there was hard work done by the committee, but in fact the government chose to ignore the majority of the recommendations made by the first review of the committee.
    When we reviewed the bill, one of the strong recommendations came from the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. She supported a proposal that many of our witnesses heard, which is that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be specifically referenced in the bill. This was backed up by the justice minister, who said this last November:
With the direction and leadership of [the] Prime Minister...our government will support Bill C-262. The bill acknowledges the application of the UN declaration in Canada and calls for the alignment of the laws of Canada with the UN declaration.
    However, here we have this environmental bill, and the government is refusing to incorporate UNDRIP. Could the member please explain why the government has refused to incorporate UNDRIP in the bill and respect indigenous rights?
    Madam Speaker, I enjoy working with the hon. member, and the committee has been a very thoughtful group that endeavours to work together in a non-partisan way.
    The government did actually accept the vast majority of recommendations that came forward from the committee. Included in that were a range of principles that are being embedded in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, as well as guides to the strategies that will be done by over 90 different agencies of the federal government, in place of 26, going forward. A number of measures that were included relate to the incorporation of indigenous participation in all of this, which is obviously a key priority of the government and something we will continue to ensure is reflected in all legislation we bring forward.

  (1055)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the chance to speak to this bill. It is very important that we strengthen sustainability legislation in this country. We have taken a few baby steps forward, but regrettably, this bill has not gone far enough. It is not enough for the government to simply say the word “indigenous”, say it cares about indigenous people, and then not take the step it promised, which is to actually incorporate that declaration into the law of the land.
    It is important at the outset to recall that the Federal Sustainable Development Act was initiated in 2008 as a private member's bill with, frankly, much stronger measures. It was transformed by the then Liberal government into the law as it exists today. Second, it is important to recognize the earlier decision in 1995 to create of the office of the commissioner of the environment and sustainable development within the Office of the Auditor General. A requirement was also imposed on departments to prepare and table sustainable development strategies. The commissioner was mandated to audit and publicly report on the government's delivery on these responsibilities. During the 1990s, a cabinet directive was also issued requiring ministers to provide an environmental assessment of any policies, plans, or proposals submitted to cabinet. As my colleague mentioned, that would include pipeline approvals.
    In 2015, Canada joined other nations in signing a United Nations resolution, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This agreement committed the signatories to take bold and transformative steps that are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path. Two months later, Canada also committed, in Paris, to deeper actions to address climate change.
    Finally, Canada has declared its commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which I will refer to as the UNDRIP from now on, much of which deals with the indigenous right to self-determination, including on resource development, environmental protection, and sustainability.
     Over the past decades, consecutive audits by the commissioner have reported abject failure by departments and ministers alike in incorporating credible environmental or sustainable development assessments for decision-making. It is similarly noteworthy that as recently as this past spring, after the tabling of Bill C-57, the commissioner delivered a highly critical audit on the government's commitment to implementing the UN 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals, finding no federal governance structure, a narrow interpretation of sustainable development, limited national consultation and engagement, no national implementation plan, few national targets, and no system to measure, monitor, and report on national targets. It was a very scathing review.
     It is important, then, in assessing Bill C-57, to determine if these proposed reforms to the act brought before us today are sufficient to update Canadian law to ensure delivery of our international and domestic commitment to ensuring sustainability.
    A year before the bill was introduced, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development led a study of a draft federal sustainable development strategy, as required by law. The result was a series of recommendations presented to Parliament to strengthen this very law and the process of applying it. Last fall, the Minister of Environment tabled Bill C-57 to amend the act. The bill was debated and then referred back to the committee, which again undertook a study and reported back a number of recommended amendments. On behalf of my party, I proposed a series of recommended amendments, for the most part based on recommendations from the commissioner, experts heard at committee in both of its reviews, and the committee itself. Regrettably, almost all of them were refused, despite having been put forward by the committee itself in its earlier study.
    Among my proposed amendments was that the bill provide specific reference to a commitment to the UNDRIP. Why did I propose this? The Prime Minister has committed to deliver on all 94 of the calls for action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including calls 43 and 44, which call on the federal government, in fact all orders of government, to fully adopt and implement the UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation and to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve those goals. Clearly, one of those measures would be to include the UNDRIP in this law.

  (1100)  

    In her address to a conference on implementing the UN declaration, in November of last year, the Minister of Justice stated:
    With the direction and leadership of [the Prime Minister], our government will support Bill C-262. The bill acknowledges the application of the UN declaration in Canada and calls for the alignment of the laws of Canada with the UN declaration.
    It could not be clearer. This address was made to the Assembly of First Nations, and it interprets that as meaning that the UN declaration will now be incorporated into every federal law going forward.
    The government has publicly stated its support for Bill C-262, tabled by my colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which calls on the government to enact the UNDRIP in Canadian law.
    This directive by the Prime Minister is clear: all Canadian laws must be written and applied to align with the UN declaration. The federal commissioner of the environment and sustainable development recommended to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development that it seek amendments to Bill C-57 to specifically include the UNDRIP. Again, it came from our federal commissioner.
     Any reasonable person would conclude, therefore, that failing to reference the UNDRIP in the bill was just an oversight. Perhaps no one advised the minister that her Prime Minister, her justice minister, and the commissioner had recommended exactly this action. Therefore, it appears well-founded that I table this exact amendment. After all, the government's intent was clear.
    What was the response by the majority Liberal-led committee? It voted down this amendment. One wonders, of course, why the Minister of Environment had not made this reference herself in the bill, but there we are: no support for inclusion of the UNDRIP in our nation's sustainable development law, which is supposed to guide all decisions on policy, programs, and law going forward.
    There is no commitment to entrenching indigenous rights, but what about the other recommended measures to strengthen the bill? In testifying before the committee, the commissioner expressed appreciation that the minister had heeded the advice of the committee to incorporate into the law at least some of the recommended guiding principles, such as intergenerational equity, the precautionary principle, and polluter pays. Other recommended principles, including environmental justice and the right to a healthy environment, were not included.
    The commissioner expressed concern that additional international commitments critical to sustainability remain missing from the bill. These include, for logical reasons, the United Nations agenda 2030 on sustainable development goals and the Paris climate convention.
    During its review in advance of Bill C-57, the standing committee sought advice from a number of leading Canadian and international experts on sustainable development on ways to strengthen the federal resolve to deliver on sustainable development. These included, as mentioned, the current commissioner of the environment and sustainable development and the head of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, who was also the former commissioner. It also included Welsh and German experts on sustainable development, Global International, and the World Future Council. Clearly, the committee heard advice from a wide array of expertise on sustainable development.
    A widely supported recommendation was to shift to a whole of government approach in instituting sustainability considerations in government decision-making by incorporating into law measures to improve enforceability and accountability on the sustainable development targets, appointing more senior-level authorities to provide oversight, and entrenching the cabinet directive in the statute. The minister chose not to follow this sage advice
    These recommendations were repeated by the federal commissioner when testifying before the committee. She reiterated her call to shift the oversight role from a junior-level officer in the environment department to a central agency. It is no surprise why she came to this conclusion. As mentioned earlier, audits delivered over the past several decades reported abject failure across authorities, including the departments of environment and Public Safety, to comply with the law. Her fall 2017 report found a mere 20% compliance rate by the five departments audited.

  (1105)  

    As recently as this spring, the commissioner reported that the government has no federal government structure, a limited interpretation of sustainable development, and no system to measure or monitor sustainable development.
    I would welcome questions and just share that I am deeply disappointed. This was an opportunity to strengthen the resolve of the federal government--
    Unfortunately, time is up. Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader.
    Madam Speaker, there is something in the legislation that many indigenous people would see as a strong positive, and that is that it would mandate representation on the development advisory committee, which would ensure that there would be a strong indigenous factor. When we think of ongoing development into the future, one would think that would be a strong positive.
    I am wondering if my colleague could provide her thoughts on that aspect of the legislation, which is an important part, because the advisory council, in good part, would provide strong leadership going forward with respect to this legislation and beyond.
    I am sorry, Madam Speaker, but to appoint indigenous representatives to an advisory council to ensure delivery of a bill, when the government refuses to incorporate and entrench its obligations under the UNDRIP, is a vacuous measure.
    Of course, it is terrific that we are adding indigenous members to advise the government. This should be happening across the board, but the government is refusing in this legislation, and refusing in its omnibus environment bill, to specifically make the UNDRIP binding on the government. Indigenous members will be there, but they will not have a law to hold the government accountable.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from Edmonton Strathcona for her tireless work on environment and climate issues.
    I want to ask my colleague about the potential to find something positive in the bill.
    I have been just appalled by the lack of advisory bodies for the Liberal government. Let me give a quick review. We used to have in Canada the Economic Council of Canada, which existed from 1963 until the 1990s. The Science Council of Canada existed from the 1960s until the early 1990s. The Canadian Environmental Advisory Council existed from the early 1970s to the early 1990s. All three were abolished in the early 1990s, because the government created the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. We were told that we did not need the Economic Council, the Science Council, or the Environmental Advisory Council anymore, because we had the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which, in the spring of 2012, was killed in the Conservative omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38.
    Nobody seems to be aware of the paucity of basic research and the combining of themes around sustainable development that we used to take for granted.
    This is a pretty weak instrument we have in proposed subsection 8(1) of this legislation. We have a Sustainable Development Advisory Council, which I think has potential, but it has to be properly funded. The Liberal government needs to see the potential to replace all those bodies we used to have that gave us good advice.
     I wonder if my friend from Edmonton Strathcona thinks that is something we should push ahead with in Bill C-57.
    Madam Speaker, what my colleague did not mention is that the Conservative government also got rid of the Law Reform Commission. I was advising it on environmental laws at the time the government struck it off, too. It would be nice to bring back all of those entities.
    It is a vacuous opportunity to advise on a bill that is not a strong bill. It would be important that UNDRIP, the right to a clean, healthy environment, and the right to environmental justice be principles in the legislation and that UNDRIP be made binding. Those who sit on the advisory council could then hold the government's feet to the fire on the fact that it was not delivering on those binding obligations.
    Madam Speaker, one of the most disappointing aspects of the government on the environment file is that when it came to power, it adopted the Stephen Harper climate change targets, and then the Prime Minister went to Paris and signed the Paris accord commitments. We are not on track as a country even to meet the weak targets the Stephen Harper government met, never mind the targets of the Paris accord, which obligates Canada to meet a 30% reduction over 2005.
    I am wondering if my hon. colleague could comment on where Canada is at in terms of actually meeting Canada's climate change commitments, which, after all, are the basis for sustainable development.

  (1110)  

    Madam Speaker, that is where the rubber hits the road. Sustainability means that we are actually delivering on all of the commitments we made, including on climate. As I mentioned, the government also failed to reference the Paris Agreement in this, which kind of tells us how committed the Liberals really are to it and that we cannot, therefore, hold them accountable.
    We need to point out that the law says what the law says, but what the commissioner is saying clearly is that the government has failed abjectly over decades to deliver on its obligations to do an assessment of all programs, policies, and decisions, including decisions on major resource projects such as dams, pipelines, and mines.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to speak about how our government's priorities and Bill C-57 align with the core principles underpinning the sustainable development goals and support the overarching philosophy of the 2030 agenda to leave no one behind. For Canada, leaving no one behind means that everyone can participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the achievement of the sustainable development goals.
    The 2030 agenda is an informative agenda rooted in the principles of universality, inclusiveness, interconnectedness, and the need for meaningful partnerships that deliver positive change for all. It commits all countries irrespective of their income levels and development status to contribute to the comprehensive effort toward sustainable development.
    As Canada's Prime Minister said in his address to the UN General Assembly in September 2017, “the SDGs are as meaningful in Canada as they are everywhere else in the world”. The 2030 agenda seeks to benefit all people in need, in a manner that targets their specific needs and vulnerabilities. To do so, the 2030 agenda calls for inclusiveness and participation by all segments of society irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, and identity. This generates an unprecedented demand for diverse regional and local understanding of community-based issues and robust data.
    For instance, we know that while drinking water in Canada is among the safest in the world, access to clean water and sanitation remains a challenge in on-reserve first nation communities. This is why clause 5 of the bill, which addresses the composition and mandate for the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, is so important. Clause 5 seeks to increase the number of indigenous representatives on the council to better reflect the indigenous groups represented and the broad range of challenges they face across Canada.
    This directly supports our efforts to forge a new relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Clause 5 also seeks to reflect the diversity of Canadian society by taking into account demographic considerations, such as age and gender, when appointing representatives to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Gender equality and the empowerment of women, for example, are foundational pillars of Canada's leadership in the fight against climate change. We are enhancing our gender-based analysis across all areas of work on environment and climate change to ensure that our actions promote gender equality.
    To further support diversity and inclusion in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, clause 5 provides that representatives appointed to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council may be reimbursed reasonable expenses incurred so they can meet as a council face to face. Council members would only be reimbursed for expenses incurred under the Treasury Board Secretariat travel directive. This directive applies to public service employees and other persons travelling on government business, and its purpose is supported by clause 5, which would ensure fair treatment of those required to travel on government business. The travel directive provides for the reimbursement of reasonable expenses necessarily incurred while travelling on government business, and does not constitute income or other compensation that would open the way for personal gain. The ability to meet face to face will enable more fair and effective engagement of the council.
    The 2030 agenda rests on the interconnected nature of its goals. For example, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation supports the achievement of zero hunger and good health and well-being, by providing clean water to grow food and eliminating potential sources of disease.
    To support the principles of interconnectedness, clause 5 provides that the Sustainable Development Advisory Council may advise the Minister of Environment on any matter related to sustainable development. Given that it was previously limited to reviewing the draft of the federal sustainable development strategy only, this will help to ensure that the core elements of sustainable development—social inclusion, economic growth, and environmental protection—can be further examined to ensure timely and meaningful advice to the minister.
    All Canadians, including all levels of government, indigenous peoples, civil society, and the private sector, have a role to play in advancing the sustainable development goals and ensuring that no one is left behind.

  (1115)  

    In 2016, our government undertook an extensive consultation process to review our international assistance policy. Canadians showed strong support for the themes and issues addressed by the sustainable development goals. Canadians want to support the health and rights of women and children, to ensure peace and security, to provide clean economic growth and climate change, and protect governance, pluralism, diversity and human rights.
    Responding to this consultation, Canada's feminist international assistance policy supports targeted investments, partnerships, innovation, and advocacy efforts with the greatest potential to close gender gaps and improve everyone's chances for success. As we implement the policy, we will strengthen our priorities through working in areas such as gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, human dignity, and growth that works for everyone.
    Domestically, we have already begun to respond to the challenge of the 2030 agenda and the sustainable development goals through the 2016-2019 federal sustainable development strategy, our plan to promote clean growth, ensure healthy ecosystems, and to build safe, secure, and sustainable communities over the next three years.
    The strategy presents 13 aspirational goals that are a Canadian reflection of the SDGs of the 2030 agenda, with a focus on their environmental dimensions. Our goals are supported by medium-term targets, short-term milestones, and clear action plans. Currently, 41 federal departments and agencies contribute to meeting our targets and advancing our goals. Our strategy was shaped by input from stakeholders and Canadians, and it recognizes the important role that our partners and all Canadians play in achieving sustainable development.
    Recognizing the complex nature of coordinating the SDGs, budget 2018 announced $49.4 million over 13 years to establish a sustainable development goals unit to provide overall policy coordination and to fund monitoring and reporting activities by Statistics Canada. To facilitate meaningful engagement, budget 2018 also provided up to $59.8 million over 13 years for programming to support the implementation of the sustainable development goals. This means the development of an ambitious, whole-of-Canada national strategy, in consultation with provinces and territories, indigenous peoples, municipalities, universities, and civil society, to catalyze action across the country, build public awareness, and foster new partnerships and networks in advancing the sustainable development goals.
    Many Canadian priorities, such as taking on climate change, clean energy, and oceans, growing and strengthening Canada's middle class, reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and advancing gender equality, already support the 2030 agenda. However, we know there is more work to do to ensure that no one is left behind. Canada's efforts to implement the 2030 agenda to date will be showcased this July at the UN high level political forum on sustainable development in New York, where we will present our first voluntary national review. Canada's voluntary national review will highlight our efforts and achievements to date, recognizing areas where more work is needed.
    In conclusion, the sustainable development goals can only be achieved if everyone is on board. This is a Canadian agenda, a shared agenda, and an agenda that calls for all hands on deck. We strongly believe that Bill C-57 is in lockstep with our commitment to a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments, but find some of them a little ironic. He talks repeatedly about drinking water, clean water and sanitation, clean energy, and clean oceans, and yet the environment minister, shortly after she was appointed in November of 2015, authorized the dumping of eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River, and just this February, another 43 million litres of raw sewage from Quebec City. How can the member stand in the House and talk about the commitment of the government to environmental cleanliness, especially when it relates to water, when these kinds of issues are ongoing in our country.
    Madam Speaker, the question is about something that is completely unrelated to the bill. Nonetheless, I will take a stab at trying to answer it.
    When the minister has to make these extremely difficult decisions that no one wants to get involved in, she has to work with the infrastructure that has been built in the country today. She is working with the infrastructure that the previous government had been supporting.
     The approach the member is taking is extremely short-sighted. Most Canadians, I am sure, are aware that our government is focused squarely on making sure that all first nation reserves have access to clean, safe drinking water. It is a commitment we made during the election, and it is something we are starting to see being delivered. Perhaps that is why the Conservative member is concerned, because we are able to deliver on something that they, quite frankly, could not.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank—

[Translation]

    That is just about the only commitment you will be able to deliver on, that and pot. It is very interesting.
    The hon. member knows full well that she is not to speak when someone else has the floor, but it seems she needs a reminder.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the concerns remain and, indeed, have been raised by the Liberals' very own Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development .
    She made some strong recommendations backed up by global organizations that deal with sustainable development and a number of world experts. Their recommendations were based on Canada's abject failure, under both Liberal and Conservative governments, over the decades to deliver on what it has promised to do, and not just under this law but under a cabinet directive that was issued in 1995.
    The strong recommendation was that instead of having a low-level official buried within the Department of Environment providing the oversight, to appoint a senior central authority so that all ministries deliver on these commitments. Why has the minister not delivered on this, but is leaving to a junior official the responsibility to tell the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Defence, the Department of Natural Resources that they should start delivering on their legal obligations?
    Madam Speaker, I sat on the environment committee with the member for a couple of years, and I know she is extremely passionate about this. I heard her in debate during that time as well.
    The gist of my comments was about the advisory council, not only the shift to add more diverse representation to it but also the manner in which it members will be able to conduct themselves. Previously the advisory council was only allowed to talk about and critique the act specifically, and now it is being asked to give recommendations and advice to the minister, which I think is completely different from before.
    There is a degree of strengthening the power of the advisory council and how it will be able to enforce, and make suggestions and recommendations to the minister.
    Madam Speaker, the minister has talked about the importance of actually looking at and reviewing the act on an ongoing basis.
    Could my colleague provide his thoughts on how important it is that this not be a static thing and that when we talk about sustainable development, we should continue to engage Canadians?
    Madam Speaker, that is the core principle underpinning sustainability, keeping the act in a sustainable fashion by continually going back to it, looking at it, and re-examining it to see how it can be changed.
    This is definitely the right approach, and I am proud to be part of a government that is choosing to move forward on it.

  (1125)  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate today. For people who are watching on TV or following the debate in the galleries, Bill C-57 is one of those pieces of legislation that would be in many ways be viewed more as a process piece of legislation. It is not so much about a particular policy; it is about how to set up the particular processes, the mechanisms, the various government reports, etc. to come to a particular policy. Therefore, it is often fairly difficult to explain for people who do not live, breathe, and inhabit Parliament Hill why legislation needs to exist. However, we need certain processes and mechanisms to accomplish legislative aims.
    What is fundamental about this bill is that it would expand the number of people who would be involved and the number of departments that would have to report. While that is all fairly interesting and probably useful in the long term, and may or may not have positive outcomes, I think the underlying question most Canadians want to ask is whether all these processes actually make for a better environment, do they get Canada where it wants to go. A process is only as useful as its end result.
     Therefore, this is in many ways a difficult bill to comment about because we really do not know what the end result of all these changes to process will be.
    What I will contribute to today's debate is to make some suggestions based upon the history and knowledge of what actually works in environmental policy, so when these processes come to fruition, the people who are involved in it will have some idea of what the various parliamentarians thought about what would be good input to have to create proper legislation in the future.
     Again, to some degree, we are buying a pig in a poke today because the bill would create more fees and funding for people who would be on the advisory committees. It would require more departments to have more reports. Maybe that is good, maybe it is not, but as far as what the substance is to make the environment better, we really will not know based upon this legislation.
    Let me give some advice for the House as to what has worked in history to make better, more proper, more positive environmental legislation.
     For all the talk we have nowadays from the Liberal government about what works or what does not, the Liberals have not looked at the broader scope of world history to see what has fundamentally made our environment better. I know this may get some challenges from some parts of the House, but one of the things that has been most useful and successful as far as making the environment better has been the rise of capitalism and free enterprise.
     Around the world, the countries that were the first and earliest to embrace capitalism and free enterprise now have the best environment. They may be drifting away from the free enterprise system, but systematically this is one of those things that cannot be disputed from history.
     In places like Europe, which was having massive problems with deforestation, the Europeans brought in coal technology. The market brought it in to replace wood for energy. They began to use things like the market mechanisms to move food around the world. Ships that were run by oil, diesel, fuels, and coal were able to take food from parts of the world, such as North America, Europe, and various other places, and move it around.
     How did that help the environment? Very simply, instead of local areas having to use their marginal resources to produce food, they were able to bring it from different parts of the world by using market mechanisms.
    Technology has also helped to improve the environment. One of the ironies of the expanding debate around fracking and tight shale and different things about that, is these technologies have helped to create a greater supply of natural gas, lowering the price for natural gas which then replaces coal. I am no critic of the coal industry, but natural gas, when it is used for electricity, produces less greenhouse gases than coal.

  (1130)  

    Here is the irony. Petroleum engineers, through free enterprise, have done more to cut greenhouse gases than all the government regulations proposed by the various left-wing regimes around the world. If we look at the other place in the world, where there were major cuts to greenhouse gases, it was after the collapse of the Soviet Communist bloc in Eastern Europe. They got rid of the heavy industry that was subsidized by the socialist-communist regimes of Eastern Europe. That was why the European Union was able to claim such massive credits. However, the irony of it all, for all the talk about regulation and taxation that the Liberal government puts forward, is that free enterprise and capitalism have actually done more for the environment than anything else. This is not surprising when we look at what people take responsibility for. They take responsibility for their own actions and their own property.
     I used to live in the former Soviet Union for a short while as it was transitioning to becoming the various republics and independent nations it is now. I could see, as was to be expected, that people had environmental respect of their own property. However, for the broader collectively owned property, they did not. Free enterprise, responsibility, and all those basic things work to help protect the environment.
    If we look at what the current government is doing, it has not been following those historical patterns. It has not looked at what broadly works to integrate with human nature to do it. Its ultimate policy is to do things like Bill C-57, which is about process, more talking, more reports, and more people being appointed to more committees to get more per diems and more payments, and so forth. Unfortunately that all tends to lead to more taxes and more regulation. The whole drive of the Liberal Party's environmental policy is to tax more and more.
    What do people naturally do when they are taxed more? They do not necessarily change their behaviour in regard to the environment. They would if it were their own property and they needed to preserve and protect it. They do what people naturally should do. They try to avoid these carbon taxes.
    I worked with the Saskatchewan Mining Association, which has been trying to communicate with the Minister of Environment, and not all that successfully I might add. However, it is very clear that it wants to work and do the best job it can for the environment. However, if the government overtaxes it with carbon taxes and regulations that have no basis in reality, its investment will move. Therefore, we do not actually clean up the environment. We do not actually have a better environmental outcome. What we do when we put on these carbon taxes and other regulations that are unnecessary for environmental improvement is that we move the industrial activity, hurt the Canadian economy, and do nothing to improve the environment.
    If we tax electric plants in Canada that are generated by coal and we tax them so they move from Saskatchewan to North Dakota, all we have done is kill economic activity in Canada and moved it to the United States. We have not done anything to improve the environment.
    This is what I encourage the government to do today. Process legislation is fine. Bills such as Bill C-57 could, if the process is actually implemented, do something positive.
    Here is my challenge to other members of the House. When we look to support legislation, such as the bill before us, look to see what the historical record shows has been done to improve the environment. It has not been taxes, big government, or big government regulations. It has been people taking their own initiative under a free market, free enterprise systems, doing what they can with private property rights to improve it. That is what the historical record has shown and that is what we can expect to see in the future.
     Again, a policy of big taxes, more regulation, and more government interference and bureaucracy will not improve the environment.
    I realize I will not have convinced all of my hon. colleagues in the House, but I hope they are willing to enter into a discussion on what fundamentally will help improve the Canadian environment.
    Madam Speaker, 10 years ago, the Province of Alberta came up with the specified gas emitters regulation. In essence, it was putting a price on pollution. By the way, it was a Progressive Conservative government that came up with the initiative. It led the country and North America. It was the first jurisdiction to say that we needed to have a price on pollution.
    That seemed to be okay with the Province of Alberta 10 years ago. Alberta's economy, despite the ups and downs of the price of oil, has done relatively well. The last few years has been a bit of a challenge, but the people of Alberta are rebounding because of the price of oil. However, I would argue that the Progressive Conservative price on pollution 10 years ago has not hampered Alberta's economic performance.
    Does the member across the way believe that the Conservative government back then was wrong to put a price on pollution?

  (1135)  

    Madam Speaker, I would have not put the price on emissions that the then Progressive Conservative government in Alberta did.
    Madam Speaker, sometimes when we are holding up competing models, we tend to fall in the trap of going either one way or the other. I think most Canadians want a bit of both. We can have totally free unbridled to market capitalism or the extremes of communism.
     However, I think most Canadians agree that we want to allow small businesses and industries the freedom to go out and employ people, to make profits, and so on. Also, I think Canadians want to ensure there is a clear set of rules so everyone is playing equally. I know that is the case for many small business owners, who I count as friends and supporters. They want regulations to ensure a level playing field.
    When it comes to environmental sustainability and looking after pollution, there are numerous examples in the corporate world where corporate boards have chosen to maximize profit. If, in some cases, that means polluting the environment, they have gone down that route.
    I hope the member appreciates that we have to meet each other halfway in order to make the system work, where people have that freedom, but also there is a level playing field with a clear set of rules that applies equally to everyone.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's remarks, but I will point this out. It is often big business that has the least difficulty dealing with these government regulations. They have the resources. They have the lawyers. They have the capital. In fact, sometimes we can see big business supporting government regulation because it will be a more onerous burden on their smaller competitors and therefore allow for a more monopolistic market.
    It is often the small businesses, the individual proprietors, people like them who suffer the most. Someone such as myself, who came from the mining industry and worked with the junior mining companies, I know they were often the ones that had the biggest difficulty meeting the regulatory burdens that the government put into place. The big players have the resources. It is often the little guy who suffers the most when these sort of regulations are put into play.
    Madam Speaker, the government makes the assertion that its carbon tax policy is aimed at addressing admissions, yet it is a policy that by its very structure can have no emissions targets embedded in it. The Liberals have their emissions targets on the one hand and their carbon tax policy on the other hand. However, imposing a tax does not give one any sense of a specific target embedded in that policy. Very clearly, this is about raising revenue for the government.
    Could my colleague comment on that?
    Madam Speaker, it is fairly clear that the Liberals have a large deficit. They need to find extra revenue. They are trying to put together a moral rationalization for them to raise extra revenues due to their excessive spending. The carbon tax is about that.
    Madam Speaker, I can assure members, particularly the member who asked the question, that this is not the case. There is an expectation, and unlike the Conservative Party, we, as a political entity, believe it is important to listen to Canadians. Quite often the Conservatives are completely out of touch with what Canadians believe are important issues, but we, as a government, are responding to what Canadians expect of good government.
    Today we have before us legislation that deals with sustainable development, and believe it or not, Canadians support sustainable development. That is why we believe they would support this legislation. It is encouraging, I must say, that we appear to have support from all members of the House. All members are speaking in favour of the legislation itself, and it would have been nice to be debating this particular piece of legislation at third reading.
     I question why the member for Abbotsford brought forward an amendment. I would ask my colleagues to reflect on this. A standing committee reviewed the bill. This particular amendment would get rid of the advisory council. When the member for Abbotsford stood to give his explanation, what did he say? He said he wanted clarification that no one on the advisory council would get remuneration. That is what the member for Abbotsford was hoping to get all members of the House to appreciate and understand. He was, therefore, suggesting that this clause be deleted. By deleting this clause, we would get rid of the advisory council. The advisory council is something I understand every member of this House supports, and yet he wants us to get rid of it.
    To further complicate it, the member for Abbotsford, who was at committee, proposed an amendment at committee stage. Get this: the Conservative Party, through the member for Abbotsford, moved an amendment providing clarification that members of the advisory council would have their expenses covered. If they have to fly to Ottawa, their plane tickets would be paid for. He suggested an amendment that in essence supported the advisory council. It is no surprise that it was accepted. It was not only the government that supported that amendment; New Democrats did too. Now the member for Abbotsford wants to delete it. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless, of course, the Conservative Party is moving an amendment for the sake of moving an amendment. Conservatives say they support sustainable development and the legislation, yet they move an amendment that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
    What would have happened had the member for Abbotsford not moved the amendment? It would have meant that today we would be debating the bill at third reading. Instead of talking about an amendment that should never have happened, we would be talking about the important issue of sustainable development. That is why, with the remaining time, I would like to talk about the importance of that issue.
    There has been a great deal of work on this legislation. The draft strategy was put together and presented to Canadians in different forums. There were hundreds of submissions from different stakeholders and individual Canadians who had the opportunity to express their thoughts, priorities, and ideas on important legislation. It was very much appreciated and welcomed. The minister responsible and the staff did a fantastic job in reaching out beyond the Ottawa circle.

  (1140)  

    However, we also had a standing committee, which came up with ideas, recommendations, and reflections on what could be done to give more strength to the legislation itself. We had a standing committee, and the parliamentary secretary made reference to it when he said that we had all parties build a consensus to move forward on the issue of sustainable development and what that should look like in the form of an act. We actually had Conservatives, New Democrats, and Greens working together with government to try to improve legislation. Personally, I think Canadians would have loved to have seen that. Canadians can be assured that there was a high sense of co-operation from all sides of this House. The minister and the parliamentary secretary did a fantastic job in putting together legislation that we could all get behind and support.
    It goes to second reading, and again it receives a favourable response. It goes to committee, and once again amendments were suggested and brought forward. The amendments—not all, but in good part—were supported, and some were incorporated into the legislation itself.
    I can appreciate that things can always be made better. The Prime Minister of Canada often talks about how we can improve and make things better. We are genuinely open. That is one of the reasons that in the legislation there is the reference to the need for an ongoing review over five years. For sustainable development, all sorts of ideas could be generated in the meantime, so we want to ensure that the dialogue, discussion, and debate do not end the day this bill receives royal assent. It is actually incorporated in the legislation itself.
    My NDP friends often say “what about this?” or “what about that?”. They are very quick to be critical of government. Sometimes it is constructive and sometimes it is more of a filibuster. I believe that for the most part, on this legislation, their attempts were meant to be constructive. We appreciate that.
    In the case of indigenous issues, it is about working with indigenous peoples so that projects can move forward with some sort of consensus-building with different stakeholders. In this legislation, we are saying we have this fantastic Sustainable Development Advisory Council, and within that council indigenous representation will be guaranteed. That is very positive.
    It is in keeping with what the Prime Minister said we need to do: not only re-establishing but supporting and enhancing that relationship between indigenous people, the Government of Canada, and Canadians as a whole. This legislation makes a genuine attempt to do that, at least in part, in a small way that still counts, that still matters and is significant.
    This is something we see as a very strong positive. Imagine more transparency through engaging additional departments and agencies by the dozen. We are going to have more accountability and transparency through other departments and agencies with the passage of this legislation. Again, we see that as a positive thing.
    Let me conclude my remarks by commenting that I believe the constituency I represent believes it is important to see both economic action and action on the environment too. In fact, sustainable development is all about ensuring that the economy and the environment work hand in hand. That is something we have consistently said, not only prior to the election but after the election as well.

  (1145)  

    Madam Speaker, one of the things the bill talks about extensively is sustainable development. The part about being sustainable is that whatever process is happening could continue into infinity, essentially. If it is a sustainable practice, it can continue.
    I wonder if the hon. member feels that the current practice of his government in terms of deficit spending is sustainable.

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, I did not quite expect an issue related to the budget as a question, but let me attempt to answer it. The member has the right to ask the question, and I would be more than happy to answer that particular question.
    When we talk about deficits, I would suggest to my friend that we need to look at it from a historical perspective also. When Paul Martin was prime minister, he left office with a multi-billion-dollar surplus. That multi-billion-dollar surplus was converted into a multi-billion-dollar deficit under Stephen Harper, even before the recession had taken place. Stephen Harper, at the end of the day, added in excess of $150 billion to the national deficit. Then, in the last election, during the campaign, we talked about investing in Canadians, investing in new infrastructure, and assisting Canada's middle class and those aspiring to join it. We are fulfilling that commitment.
    However, what we will not do, I hope, is follow the advice from Conservatives with respect to deficits, because every time they have had the opportunity to govern the country, they have had deficits, especially under Stephen Harper.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague really hit the nail on the head about halfway through his speech when he started to talk about the motive behind this particular amendment.
    I sat on the environment committee when we discussed this particular strategy and when the strategy was going through committee, and he is absolutely correct that it was the member for Abbotsford who brought forward this section of the legislation, for which he has now put forward an amendment in the House to delete. We took the time to discuss his amendment in committee. We voted on it. We treated it in good faith. Then the bill comes to this place, and now the same member who put forward the motion, the member for Abbotsford, the Conservative, is asking us to remove it.
    I do not want to be overly cynical, but what could possibly be the motive? I would be curious to hear what my colleague has to say about that.
    Madam Speaker, in 20-plus years as a parliamentarian, I have seen all sorts of amendments and parliamentary tactics and so forth. If I reflect on the amendment that is being proposed for this legislation, it makes absolutely no sense at all. The only thing that is possible is that it is an attempt to try to slow down the passage of the legislation.
    The Conservatives tell Canadians that they support the legislation. On the one hand they say they support the legislation, but then they bring in an amendment that makes absolutely no sense. It is meant to do only one thing, to slow down the process, to filibuster, yet they say they support the legislation. It is a tactic that is often used toward the end of a session, but usually with legislation that is opposed, not supported.
    If the Conservatives are going to move an amendment, they should at least do some homework on it. They should understand how they are amending the legislation. If members in the Conservative Party really reflect on the amendment, my recommendation would be to not support what the member for Abbotsford has put forward. It will be interesting to watch the vote, because if their vote is to prevail, there would be no advisory council. A lot of the fine work the member for Abbotsford did in the committee stage would be reversed.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am always happy to take part in debates in the House, especially on this issue. It is also always a pleasure to follow my colleague from Winnipeg North and his prose.

[English]

    I can assure all members, and especially the member for Winnipeg North, that I will support the member for Abbotsford, because I know that he is on the right side. Based on his experience as a senior cabinet minister under our government, I know that he achieved great things for Canadians. I am sure he is on the right track.

  (1155)  

[Translation]

    We are gathered here today to discuss Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I will remind the House that this bill seeks to enhance, improve, change, and amend the initial bill, which had been adopted, tabled, and debated in 2008 by our government, under the guidance of the Hon. John Baird, then minister of the environment.
    Various elements are addressed in this bill, but it is essentially about the environment. The speech I am going to make today is about the Liberal government's achievements and track record, considered against the commitments it made and the legacy we left behind from our time in government.
    Let us look at the facts. In its electoral platform, the Liberal Party made numerous references to the environment scattered over more than 10 pages. Page 39 said that the Liberal government would “take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution.”
    There are three assertions there: take action on climate change, put a price on carbon, and reduce carbon pollution. The first is debatable. The second is a promise that the Liberals did keep. The third is one they did not. That is the reality.
    It is not the Conservatives who are saying so, but a neutral and objective authority, the Auditor General, who analyzed every step this government has taken in the past 31 months with regard to the environment.
    The Auditor General reached three fundamental conclusions in his report to Parliament on the environment and sustainable development. Let us look at what he had to say in that report.
    First, the Auditor General found that the Liberal government failed to reach the targets set when the Paris Agreement was signed. Second, he found that there has not been any improvements with regard to greenhouse gas emissions. Third, he found that the federal government is not providing the proper and necessary leadership to fight climate change with the support and co-operation of the provinces. The environment is a federal-provincial joint responsibility and we need to work with the provinces.
    The Auditor General found that the government failed in these three key areas, which are meeting targets, making progress, and providing leadership while working together with the provinces. The Auditor General said that.
    This could undermine the efforts that must be made and the realities to which Canadians are accustomed when it comes time to take action on greenhouse gas emissions.
    In fact, the Liberal strategy was quite simple. They would impose a Liberal carbon tax on all Canadians. Let us remember that the Prime Minister famously said in this place that the Liberals would work with the provinces and invited them to implement a carbon tax or participate in a carbon exchange.
    At first, this makes sense. However, we should not overlook what else was said, namely that if the provinces did not agree, a carbon tax would be imposed on them.
    That does not really show leadership. That is forcing the provinces to do what they are told, or it will be rammed down their throats.
    That is the approach of a Liberal government that came to power by saying that it would work with the provinces. If they do not co-operate, the government will force them to do what it wants. We do not believe that this is the right approach.
    We should remember that this government has a study in hand that indicates what the impact of the Liberal carbon tax will be on Canadian families, a report that is not available to Canadians. We submitted an access to information request, which we now have in hand.
    I will quote this study, which spells out the cost to families of the Liberal carbon tax:
...the potential impact of a carbon price on households' consumption expenditures across the income distribution. The key findings are:
    The rest is blacked out. All of the information has been redacted. When people are ashamed of their numbers, they hide them. When they are proud of their numbers, they make them public. In this case, not only are they not making the numbers public, but they are also hiding them. Apparently they do not want Canadians to know how the proposed Liberal carbon tax will impact them directly.
    In our view, the Liberals are out of line. Let me remind the House that if the provinces happen to want to introduce carbon taxes and if they happen to want to introduce their own carbon exchanges, that is their choice. I have first-hand experience with that. In 2011, I represented Chauveau in the National Assembly. There was a debate on whether Quebec should join the carbon exchange. Some people were in favour of it and others were against it. The political party I led at the time was against it. There was a proper debate. There was a debate and a vote, and Quebec has had a carbon exchange ever since. I was against it then, and I still am. People got to pass judgment on my stance three times, and I was elected three times with a clear majority each time. I was perfectly fine with that.
    Just because someone is against the carbon tax and the carbon exchange does not mean that they are against the environment, on the contrary. People are smart enough to differentiate between the Liberals' partisan position and the facts.
    The facts might surprise some because the propaganda we keep hearing about how the Conservatives were against the environment, did nothing for the environment, and are the enemies of the environment is completely false and not backed by facts. We hear this propaganda far too often.
    Our government started by implementing a green plan, Canada EcoTrust, a $1.5-billion program, with the support and co-operation of the provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a scientific, tangible, and practical way. Hon. members will recall that in February 2007, the Charest provincial government and the federal Conservative government agreed to invest $349.9 million to fight climate change. That was done with the help of technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it worked.
    Those who claim the Conservative government did nothing are lying to Canadians. We worked in collaboration with the provinces, as well as private companies. I am in the best position to talk about it because there is a high-tech environmental firm in my riding called CO2 Solutions. For over 10 years, it has been working with Natural Resources Canada to shrink the Alberta oil industry's environmental footprint. Its methods are working. I am very proud of this company from my riding, because we believe that putting the ingenuity of private enterprise at the service of greenhouse gas reduction efforts is a promising approach.
     Our government's track record therefore boasts a 2.2% decrease in greenhouse gases and a 16.9% increase in GDP. That is the perfect combination: tackling greenhouse gas emissions and growing Canada's economy.
    Others will say that this is not true at all. I say that it is true. Public television viewers may have been a bit surprised last week when I answered an incisive question directly with that statistic. To silence the skeptics, I quickly put the information online, and I am pleased to repeat that statistic. The information comes from Natural Resources Canada:
    Between 2005 and 2015, Canada's GHG emissions in the energy sector decreased 2.2% while real GDP grew by 16.9%.
    That is the reality. Those are the facts. That is the Conservative track record. We had a real policy coupling economic prosperity with greenhouse gas reduction, unlike this government, which is not even capable of meeting its own targets, which incidentally are the targets that we set when we were in government and that were subsequently adopted by the Liberal government, President Obama, and the entire planet in the Paris Agreement.

  (1200)  

    That is the Conservative track record, and we are very proud of it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when the Progressive Conservative party in the Province of Alberta was in power, it was the very first government in North America to bring in a price on pollution, and my colleague and friend, who articulates quite well, commented on the Province of Quebec and how it had a debate on carbon pricing in its legislature. We know that the Province of Ontario and the Province of British Columbia have a price on pollution. However, we also know that at times there is an important role for the national government to play, whether it be going to Paris and having discussions there and then meeting with the provinces in Vancouver, where there was a discussion and the feeling that we need to have a national system with price on pollution.
    Does my colleague across the way not agree that at times and in certain sections we need to have strong national leadership, and that when Canadians are concerned about climate change, now is the time we should be listening to what they have to say and to have a national price on pollution?

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of the comments made by my colleague from Winnipeg North. Yes, we need strong federal leadership, but it has failed. The current government has failed. It was the Auditor General who said in his report that there is no strong federal leadership. That is because the government is imposing a Liberal carbon tax on each and every one who does not have a carbon tax or a cap and trade deal. Let me remind all members that this responsibility belongs to each and every province. If Parliament would like to have a carbon tax, go for it, vote for it, and then decide what it wants, but it is not the role, as far as we are concerned, of the federal government to impose something on the provinces. On the other hand, we suggest giving a hand to those who want to protect our environment. That is exactly what we did in 2007 with our program with such great success, providing $1.5 billion in direct, good investment for protection of the environment. In French, we call it “éco-fiducie”. This is why we had the right approach, and the Liberals do not have it.
    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear the member speak and it is fun to work with him.
    The problem is that we have a bit of a reality check here, as I mentioned in response to the Liberal members. The truth of the matter is that when the commissioner responsible for auditing whether both governments had delivered on the sustainable development obligations audited them, both governments abjectly failed.
    For the entire 10 years of the Harper government, the commissioner failed that government on delivering on what it had promised to do: balancing the environment and economic development. We hear that over and over again. What his previous government did was to promise oil and gas regulations. Did it ever deliver those? The Conservatives thought regulations were the answer, but gosh darn, they did not do it. Perhaps the member could speak to that. The Conservatives are saying they have a plan. Are they still going to promise the same measures they did not implement when they were in power?
    Mr. Speaker, the point is that the facts are clear: les réductions de gaz à effet de serre to 2.2%, and growth of the economy by 16.9%. Those are the facts. Yes, I can assure the member and all Canadians that we will have a strong platform on that issue, and I welcome the time when we will be in an election in 18 months.
    Mr. Speaker, as always, my colleague gives some of the best speeches around here, no doubt. One of very interesting things in his speech was the good numbers he cited. He said he had posted them on the Internet. Where on the Internet did the member put them?
    I put them on Twitter, Mr. Speaker.
    [Member spoke in Cree]
     [English]
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today and speak in support of Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I would like to acknowledge the great work that was done by members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
    Of the many recommendations put forward by the committee, I would like to focus on the recommendations to introduce amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that would enable a whole-of-government approach and comprehensive engagement of all central government agencies in the development and implementation of the federal sustainable development strategy. I am going to speak to the House today about the roles and responsibilities of the various players in implementing the Federal Sustainable Development Act. These include the federal sustainable development strategy departments and agencies, the sustainable development office, parliamentarians, and the main purpose of this debate, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council.
    When we think about a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development, we know that it can be accomplished in a number of ways.
    First, Bill C-57 introduces some changes that would expand the act's coverage to include all federal organizations named in schedules I, I.1, and II to the Financial Administration Act, more than 90, in total compared to 26 in the current act. The act also provides for adding other entities at a later date and for removing entities.
    While Environment and Climate Change Canada coordinates the development of the federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports, these documents are the product of a collaborative effort involving all implicated federal organizations. The bill would require departments and agencies bound by the act to contribute to the development of the federal sustainable development strategy and its progress reports. It would also strengthen the accountabilities of all departments and agencies by requiring annual reporting to parliamentary committees.
    Second, under an amended act, primary responsibility for the federal sustainable development strategy would remain with Environment and Climate Change Canada. However, Bill C-57 would formalize Treasury Board's role in leading greening government operation efforts. The bill provides that the Treasury Board may establish policies or issue directives applicable to organizations covered by the act in relation to the sustainable development impact of their operations.
    Parliamentarians must also play an important role to ensure a whole-of-government approach to the FSDA when strategies and progress reports are tabled and referred to committees. Furthermore, Bill C-57 allows for the permanent review of the act, which further provides parliamentarians with the ability to ensure that the act takes a whole-of-government approach and remains, most importantly, transparent.
    Stakeholders—which include parliamentarians, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, non-governmental organizations, academia, associations, and Canadians—would also play a major role in developing the FSDS by providing input and feedback on the development and drafting of the FSDS.
    In fact, under Bill C-57, the sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada would remain required to consult with stakeholders and Canadians for feedback and input into the FSDS for a period of 120 days. Under the current act, comments received from stakeholders and Canadians are summarized in a consultation synthesis report that is produced and posted to the web by the office, and these comments inform the final federal sustainable development strategy and subsequent progress reports. However, Bill C-57 moves one step further by stating that designated entities under the bill shall take into account comments made under public consultation.
    Finally, and the reason for this debate, the sustainable development office is to seek advice from the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, the SDAC, as part of its governance structure and its consultation and engagement process.
    When we first started the debate, it was led off by the Conservatives, who came up with a beautiful little statement that they felt they were being misled by the Prime Minister. Incredibly enough, we were misled by the former primer minister, Stephen Harper, for he cancelled the national round table on the environment and the economy, the NRTEE, which was a Canadian advisory agency founded by the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in response to the 1987 United Nations document “Our Common Future”. The NRTEE focused on sustaining Canada's prosperity without borrowing resources from future generations or compromising their ability to live securely. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper ended funding to the NRTEE, which ceased to exist on March 31, 2013.

  (1210)  

    The national round table was an independent policy advisory agency of the Government of Canada. Its mandate was to raise awareness among Canadians and their governments about the challenges of sustainable development. Over 25 years it released dozens of reports on priority issues—forests, brownfields, infrastructure, energy, water, air, climate change, and more. It offered advice to governments on how best to consolidate and integrate the often divergent challenges of economic prosperity and environmental conservation. It brought together hundreds of leaders and experts with first-hand knowledge in a diversity of areas. Its members, appointed by the federal government, were active in businesses, universities, environmentalism, labour, public policy, and community life across Canada.
    On March 21, 2013, the Conservative government, in the decade of darkness under Stephen Harper, eliminated the budget for the NRTEE, effectively ending it. The then environment minister initially offered the rationale that the funding was unnecessary because Canadians could at that time access climate change research through the Internet, universities, and think tanks.
    However, in response to a question in the House of Commons, then foreign affairs minister John Baird said the government should not be funding the round table because it had issued a series of reports advocating a form of carbon pricing, which he said the people of Canada had repeatedly rejected. He said the round table should agree with Canadians and should agree with the government and should not offer independent advice.
    The round table released several reports that concluded that the federal government would have to act more aggressively in order to reach its Kyoto protocol target of a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020.
    On March 26, 2013, the then minister of the environment issued a directive preventing the round table from transferring its research and the contents of its website to Sustainable Prosperity, a national research network based at the University of Ottawa. Instead, he said, Environment Canada would lay claim to all previous work, which was promised to remain accessible to the public. However, the move appeared to leave the fate of the two unpublished documents on the history, role, and relationship of the round table to the government uncertain. These reflections of past leaders of the NRTEE were subsequently leaked and posted on the Internet.
    It is important that under this legislation the Sustainable Development Advisory Council would play an important role by advising the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that is referred to it by the minister. More specifically, it would ensure that the government takes a whole-of-government view, seeking the advice and expertise of Canadians who reflect our country's diversity of background, ethnicity, age, gender, and circumstance.
    Research indicates that several OECD member countries have a national sustainable development commission or council similar to our Sustainable Development Advisory Council. These councils often meet on an ongoing basis throughout the year.
    Moreover, reforms to the Sustainable Development Advisory Council set out in Bill C-57 would enhance inclusiveness by increasing representation of indigenous peoples from three members to six, by clarifying that the Sustainable Development Advisory Council has a broad mandate to provide advice on sustainable development, and by enabling more effective engagement.
    There are governance mechanisms already in place to ensure proper oversight of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. The additional provisions in clause 5 of Bill C-57 will help to ensure that the best possible advice and guidance is provided on issues that touch all Canadians.
    I hope that all of us in the House can support our common desire to make decision-making related to development more transparent, promote coordinated action across the Government of Canada, and ensure we receive maximum benefit from the Sustainable Development Advisory Council based on expert advice using data and science.

  (1215)  

    Mr. Speaker, at one point in my colleague's speech he talked about a 120-day consultation. I am wondering if he could elaborate on what that 120 days is all about.
    Simply put, Mr. Speaker, under Bill C-57 the sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada would remain required to consult with stakeholders and Canadians for feedback and input into the FSDS for a period of 120 days.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, one of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development’s recommendations was to “clarify that sustainable development encompasses and requires thorough consideration of economic, social and environmental factors.”
     That is not what is in the bill, and I would like to know why.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, I apologize, but I did not understand the question in French.
     Could the member rephrase her question?
    Would the member for Hochelaga please repeat her question?
    Mr. Speaker, I will try to speak a little slower.
    The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development made several recommendations. One of them was to “clarify that sustainable development encompasses and requires thorough consideration of economic, social and environmental factors.”
     That is not reflected in this bill. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure that with all the mechanisms provided in the bill, such as the advisory council, we will be able to hear a variety of expert opinions. I am sure that Environment and Climate Change Canada will have all the data and resources needed to ensure environmentally sustainable development.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I heard my hon. colleague the first time when he said what the 120 days were for, but he emphasized it a second time, as if he was incredulous about the 120 days and there was some other meaning to the 120 days that he was concerned about. Because he repeated it a second time, I am wondering what the incredulity about the 120 days was.
    Mr. Speaker, 120 days is an adequate amount of time for people to consult with stakeholders, prepare a report, and report back. It is just about holding people to account.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague from Winnipeg Centre, someone I have gotten to know and who I know is very sensitive on a number of files.
    On the issue of sustainable development, I would ask for his thoughts from an indigenous perspective on just how important the environment is and why indigenous consultations take place on projects when it comes to matters of economic development.
    Mr. Speaker, thanks to the member for Winnipeg North, my esteemed from colleague just north of me, from the member for Winnipeg Centre.
    It is interesting that he should talk about sustainable development among indigenous communities. In Manitoba, six years ago, there was a flood. People were not planning for sustainable development for the environment, and an indigenous community was flooded just outside of both of our ridings. There was an NDP government at the time, and it is just recently that members of the community have been able to move back into their homes with funding from our government at the federal level. This is important, because these communities are often impacted by flooding because they are seen, or were seen, as being very unimportant.
    We are looking at how to build bridges between different peoples and how to ensure that all peoples who make up the diversity of Canada are represented not only on the advisory council but in government decisions, using the whole-of-government approach to ensure we have not only a diversity of opinions but expertise from across all government agencies that have a role and an impact on sustainable development.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this particular bill. The bill has the stated objective of ensuring sustainable development and improving accountability and transparency. I would like to talk about those three concepts. I know that they are often talked about in this place, so I am pleased to stand up today to add my voice, the representative voice for Peace River—Westlock, to this debate.
    We have a lot of things going on these days, but today I would like to move a motion. I seek the unanimous consent of the House for the adoption of the motion, seconded by the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, that the standing orders be amended by deleting Standing Orders 57, 61, and 78.

  (1225)  

    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?
    Some hon. members: No.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence, and I appreciate the audience that has returned. There they go again. However, I know for sure that my biggest fan is here today, so I will be pleased to speak to her if nobody else is available to listen to my speech today.
    My speech has three points I want to discuss: sustainable development, transparency, and accountability. One of the parts of this bill I am incredibly pleased about is increasing the number of indigenous voices on the advisory councils. That is an important part. Indigenous people bring something I am very pleased about, which is the whole concept of the Creator. Whenever they are talking about the environment or working in this space, they always bring in the Creator. Whenever we are in the presence of first nations people, we see that they like to start events with a prayer, and they always recognize the Creator. When it comes to talking about sustainable development, an important aspect is this interplay between people and creation, and how that works in terms of public policy.
    It would be a good addition to have these voices there, which understand that creation is not ours but granted to us by a higher being. That would temper and allow us to see ourselves as managers. I think that this would be a good voice at these tables. We are to manage the creation because it has been endowed to us by the Creator. I am really excited to see how these new bodies will work this all out.
    Sustainable development is sometimes a bit of a loaded term, so I would like to talk about that as well. In my mind, sustainable development means that whatever we develop can go on in perpetuity. That would be what it means to be sustainable. Now, when we talk about it in environmental terms, we are often asking if the environment can handle it. In many cases, there is not just one lens through which to look at any particular issue. It is not just the environment that can be looked at. The idea first nations bring is that there is a Creator who will then look at it. That is a better way to look at particular issues, rather than through just one lens, the environment. It is good to look at sustainability in terms of how it impacts people, children, the vulnerable, and finances. Something is not sustainable if it goes broke. That is another part of sustainable development that we need to undertake.
    In the House, I think we all agree about sustainable development, but we often have very different ideas about what the term “sustainable development” even means.
    I have four minutes left. Well, that is unfortunate, but if four minutes is all I have left, I will have to work with that.
    I do not think the Liberals really understand sustainable development, particularly when we see their own budgets. If we want this country to develop sustainably, we would not run massive deficits into the never-ending future. With the current rate of spending by the government, I would be a very old man by the time we get to balancing the budget, if we continue on this path. All this does is place an increased burden on our children and grandchildren.

  (1230)  

    I am happy to support this particular bill, but I would call on the Liberal government to get an understanding of what “sustainable” actually means.
    That brings us to the whole idea of transparency. Once again, this is a great concept. I think all of us in this place want transparency in government. That is something that is very important. Once again, we see that the government talks a good game when it comes to transparency. The Liberal platform in the last election said great things about transparency. The Liberals were going to open up a whole new level of transparency, as the Prime Minister said.
    However, when it comes to the carbon tax, the entire thing was blacked out when we asked what the cost of the new carbon tax imposed by the Liberals would be to the average Canadian family. The Liberals are not being transparent.
    Once again, I am happy that we are all supportive of this particular bill. I am happy that it is improving transparency, and yet, as is often the case, every party in this place uses the word “transparency” to mean different things. In the case of the Liberals, they just say words and expect that everybody will believe them, just as they say that the pipeline will be built. We have to see if that is actually going to happen.
    I am happy to support transparency. I am happy to support this bill. However, once again, I call on the Liberal government to reflect on the fact that while it says it supports transparency, its actions speak louder than words.
    I get the impression that my time is coming to a close.
    Finally, we have the word “accountable”. Whenever the government talks about accountability, it does so with its hand on its heart, and yet it is always frustrating to see that the government is not necessarily always accountable. The Liberals see the word “accountable” and think about their bank accounts and how they can put more money in their bank accounts, rather than being accountable.
    We have seen it over and over again with the ethics scandals that have been going on, and also pay-to-play. The Liberals then say, “Oh well, we have been caught, and now we will fix the problem. Sorry, we did not understand.”
    Accountability is a great thing to be supporting. Once again, I call on the Liberal government to reflect upon what it means when it says “accountable”. When it says that it wants to be an accountable government, it should actually do the things that it takes to be accountable.
    With that, I would like to close my speech. I am happy to support this bill and its efforts toward sustainable development, transparency, and accountability. I hope that the Liberal government of the day reflects on those three items, reforms its ways, and comes to some sort of semblance of sustainable development, transparency, and accountability.

  (1235)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member wants to see action as opposed to words. Within this legislation, there is action on all three. We have seen a high sense of co-operation among the different parties at the committee stage.
    We talk about accountability. Here is the question I would put to my friend across the way. The mover of the motion to amend the legislation in committee put in an amendment to ensure that the advisory council would receive some form of compensation for things such as travel. The amendment that the member for Abbotsford put forward today is going to delete the amendment that the Conservatives put in at the committee stage. What sense of accountability do the Conservatives get out of putting in an amendment to change the legislation and then taking away the changes they put in at the committee stage? It does not make any sense.
    Is the member going to support this amendment, based on what he now knows about the amendment?
    Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting the amendment. The member for Abbotsford moved the amendment, and I trust his judgment on this.
    I know what he has told me. Whenever the Liberal government builds some new form of entity, it always comes with lots of paid positions. The Liberal government loves to spend taxpayers' money. With this particular amendment, we are standing up for the taxpayers and ensuring that they are fairly compensated and protected. In the House, there is no party, other than the Conservative Party of Canada, that stands up for the taxpayers.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, does my colleague agree that economic, social and environmental factors should be treated equally when it comes to legislation on sustainable development? Furthermore, whether he agrees or not, does he think that this is reflected in this bill?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague asked if social and economic pressures should be taken into account whenever we are making decisions when it comes to sustainable development. I think I addressed this at the beginning of my speech. However, if the member is now asking if they are equal, I think that possibly is the difference.
    Everybody typically has the same set of values, but it is just how they are ordered that determines how people make decisions. Therefore, I am not sure these would always necessarily have equal weighting when taking things into account, whether that be the social or environmental aspect. I am not sure how we would determine if they are to be equal. One person may put more weight on one than the other. That is just a matter of fact. As a Canadian society, we grapple with these things.
    However, the advisory council will go a long way, particularly with the first nation component that has been included in the bill. I think that is a great start. Our first nations typically have a good balance of economy, people, and the environment. I am happy to see that in this particular bill. This bill is a step in the right direction.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, we hear a lot of discussion about sustainability from the government. However, the Liberals do not seem to have a broad appreciation of what that means. They are undertaking tax increases as an environmental policy without any real plan to actually focus on measurable improvements in the environment. By the way, their fiscal policy is entirely unsustainable: they are running massive deficits that future generations will have to pay off.
    In that light, I wonder if my colleague can comment further on what the government's concept of sustainability is and how far it misses the mark on it.
    Mr. Speaker, one of troubling things about the government is its very cynical approach to the environment, namely that it must be protected from Canadians. The Conservative Party's approach is that the environment must be protected for Canadians. That is the key, driving motivation.
    I firmly believe that between our ears we have the capacity to solve most of the problems that present themselves when it comes to dealing with the environment, rather than just taxing Canadians in an effort to try to change their behaviours.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand again in the House on behalf of my wonderful riding of Saint John—Rothesay and to have the privilege of addressing my colleagues and to reaffirm our government's commitment to sustainable development and future generations of Canadians.
    Through Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, our government is working to ensure that decision-making related to sustainable development is more transparent, subject to accountability, and promotes coordination across the Government of Canada.
    Let me begin by thanking the members of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work. It has culminated in a unanimous report calling on the government to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. The committee's hard work was seminal in guiding the government in the development of Bill C-57.
    Stable development is critically important not just in Canada, but across the world. By adopting the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Canada will contribute to a global framework of action that strives for global sustainable development and aims to eradicate poverty and to leave no one behind. Nobody knows more about poverty and the fight against it than I do in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay.
    Through its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the historic Paris Agreement, Canada is also signalling a renewed global commitment to address climate change. Our government is making sure that Canada succeeds during the clean growth century and the shift toward cleaner, more sustainable growth.
    It is in this global context that we find ourselves resolutely committed to ensuring that Canada is a sustainable development leader. That is why we are proposing amendments to the Federal Sustainable Development Act that will propel us along the path to a sustainable future.
    For those who are unfamiliar with the Federal Sustainable Development Act, let me say a few words about its origins, what it is, and what it does, In particular, I want to discuss how the amendments in clause 5 regarding the Sustainable Development Advisory Council would strengthen accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness in developing future strategies and how they complement action we are already taking under our current federal sustainable development strategy, FSDS.
    The original act was introduced as a private member's bill by the Hon. John Godfrey in November 2007. Sustainable development was seen as such an important issue that it received all-party support in the minority 39th Parliament.
    The purpose of the current act is to provide a framework to develop and implement the federal sustainable development strategy to make environmental decision-making more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The act also sets out which departments are required to develop a departmental strategy in compliance with and contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. In addition, the act outlines the requirements to consult on a draft strategy; to create an advisory council; and to table a strategy and progress report every three years.
    A key outcome of the act is the development of the federal sustainable development strategy, which is the Government of Canada's flagship strategy on sustainable development. The strategy itself sets out Canada's sustainable development goals, targets, and implementation strategies to meet those targets.
    The current federal sustainable development strategy is the strongest to date. It was developed using an inclusive, participatory approach aimed at engaging and involving all Canadians. We released a draft strategy in February 2016 and asked Canadians to share with us their vision for a sustainable Canada and to suggest how we could strengthen transparency and accountability.
    The response was unprecedented. Canadians provided more than 540 written comments, 12 times the number of responses received by the previous strategy. On social media, Canadians contributed about 900 posts and replies on the draft strategy. Overall, the draft strategy reached more than 400,000 people over the course of the public consultation period. That is an outstanding response.

  (1245)  

    We heard from individual Canadians, who showed they are interested, engaged, and passionate about sustainable development. We also heard from provincial governments, indigenous organizations, industry, professional associations, academics, and environmental non-governmental organizations. We spoke with sustainable development advisory councils, with representatives from each province and territory, as well as members of indigenous groups, and organizations representing business and labour, and environmental non-governmental organizations, as I mentioned.
    The strategy also benefited from the standing committee's review of the act and its recommendations. Evidence from the review included insightful testimony from witnesses, such as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Hon. John Godfrey, the originator of the bill that became the act.
    The current federal sustainable development strategy also demonstrates a more strategic and aspirational approach than others in the past. It contains more measurable and time-bound targets, including reduction of Canada's total GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 relative to 2005 emission levels. However, we felt we could go beyond improving the strategy, to improve the act itself. That is why, spurred by the standing committee's unanimous recommendations, our government introduced Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
    Our bill proposes a number of changes to the act. First, it amends the purpose of the Federal Sustainable Development Act, with a view to making decision-making related to sustainable development at large—not only environmental decision-making—more transparent and accountable to Parliament. The 2030 agenda makes it clear that sustainable development is not just about the environment, and the revised purpose recognizes this by proposing to remove the current emphasis on the environment.
     The purpose also promotes co-ordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respect for Canada's domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development. The amended act would therefore recognize the 2030 agenda, the Paris Agreement, and Canada's other international obligations that bear on the well-being of future generations of Canadians.
    Bill C-57 also proposes the addition of numerous sustainable development principles. To the basic principle, the precautionary principle, already included in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, the bill adds principles on intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the importance of involving aboriginal peoples, collaboration, and results and delivery.
    Let me say a few words about these principles that would guide the government's plans and actions on sustainable development. The principles emphasize that sustainable development is a continually evolving concept, and allow the government to address new and emerging issues within future strategies. They also highlight approaches the government should consider taking when developing sustainable development strategies. In particular, the principle of intergenerational equity is the essence of sustainable development. It recognizes that the decisions we make are not just about today, but also about tomorrow and far into the future. The principle of the polluter pays and the internalization of costs are also integral to sustainable development, in recognizing that we must go beyond thinking of economic growth in conventional terms and stop seeing environmental damages as externalities.
     The principle of openness and transparency supports the Federal Sustainable Development Act's stated purpose to make the decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability in Parliament. The bill is about promoting a whole-of-government approach and increasing accountabilities under the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

  (1250)  

    Bill C-57 would dramatically increase the number of federal organizations that are covered by the act, from the current 26 to over 90. This would truly make it a whole-of-government strategy.
    I hope by highlighting some of the major features of the bill, members will agree it would help to push Canada along the path toward a more sustainable future for our children, for our grandchildren, and for their children after that. I am sure all members of the House would support that.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to what my colleague had to say. I want to repeat a couple of phrases that he used throughout his speech, such as environmental decision-making, sustainable development strategies, meeting our domestic and international obligations, and stopping environmental damage. I think we are all in agreement with those principles.
    However, earlier today I asked one of his colleagues about the dumping of eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. That happened in 2015, just after the government took office. Then again this year, in February, another 43 million litres of raw sewage was dumped into the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City.
     How does that kind of action, degrading our environment, fit with these four principles I heard throughout his speech, principles of environmental decision-making, sustainable development strategies, meeting our domestic and international obligations, and stopping environmental damage?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to sustainable development and having that commitment reflected in the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Canadians have told us they want a sustainable future for Canada. The bill clearly shows that sustainable development and the environment are at the forefront of our thinking in government decision-making going forward.
    Mr. Speaker, I think I speak for the broad majority of Canadians when I assert in the House that Canadians want sustainable development. We want to have a strong economy and we want to do it in a way that protects our environment for the long term.
     One of the ways we measure that is by whether Canada is meeting its obligations for greenhouse gas emissions and carbon emissions as set out in the Paris accord. I was disappointed to see the Liberal government adopt the previous Conservative government's unambitious climate change targets. Apparently we are not even meeting those targets. Our greenhouse gas emissions are not on a trajectory where we will achieve those targets. The Prime Minister went to Paris and signed on to more onerous targets through the Paris accord, and we are nowhere near meeting those targets.
     If Canada is not on target to meet our present greenhouse gas emissions targets and we are not on target to meet the Paris accord targets, could my hon. colleague explain why his government is pushing for an expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in the country, which would no doubt make hitting those targets even harder?

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is consistent that the NDP does not think we go far enough on a lot of environmental things, yet those members do not seem to have answers themselves. We have an NDP government provincially that is supportive of a pipeline. We have a national NDP now that is against the pipeline.
     Through the committee recommendations, the sustainable development bar for Canada has been raised. The committee has already been instrumental in how we develop the 2016 to 2019 federal sustainable development strategy and how it is currently being implemented. It will continue to influence development and implementation of future strategies.
    Mr. Speaker, reflecting on the importance of leaving a healthy economy and environment, could my colleague share his thoughts from a constituency perspective?
    Mr. Speaker, my riding is Saint John—Rothesay. I do not think that is any secret. It is an industrial riding, in fact one of the most industrial ridings east of Montreal. We are also a coastal community. We have seen flooding and we have seen a change in climate. Therefore, people in my riding, including industry, understand the significance of this and the impact this would have.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
    I would first like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development for their excellent work. We congratulate the committee members and the witnesses for their points of view and commitment to addressing the challenges of sustainable development in the federal government. The government supports the committee's positive approach and constructive ideas.
    The committee's recommendations in its report “Federal Sustainability for Future Generations” include broadening the purpose and scope of the act, adopting well-accepted sustainable development principles, increasing the number of federal entities that prepare a sustainable development strategy, establishing criteria for the targets, improving enforceability, and engaging and empowering Canadians.
    Not only were the committee's recommendations helpful in developing the bill, but the report and the recommendation played an important role in establishing the 2016-19 federal sustainable development strategy, the FSDS.
    First, the strategy recognizes the role of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and its global sustainable development goals. In fact, the FSDS targets are a reflection of environment-related sustainable development goals. We drew inspiration from international sustainable development goals and other international commitments in order to develop more ambitious and measurable goals, and we made a clear commitment to the principles and the adoption of a whole-of-government approach.
     Reflecting the committee’s comment that sustainable development goes beyond the environment, the strategy includes goals with strong social and economic dimensions, including clean growth, clean drinking water, sustainable food, and safe and healthy communities.
    Second, the strategy addresses the committee's recommendation for strong targets and increased accountability by including more ambitious and measurable targets compared with the draft 2016-19 strategy and past strategies. For example, it establishes a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from federal government operations by 40% by 2030, which is significantly more ambitious than the draft strategy’s 30%-reduction target. It also reflects the government’s commitment to address long-term drinking water advisories in first nations communities, replacing a previous target that did not directly address drinking water safety or quality.
     Third, reflecting the committee’s recommendation to include short-, medium-, and long-term targets, the strategy includes new short-term milestones that complement its long-term goals and medium-term targets. These milestones will help the government to gauge progress toward the strategy’s goals and targets and, if necessary, to make course corrections during the strategy’s three-year cycle.
     Fourth, it responds to the committee’s recommendation for a suite of well-accepted sustainable development principles by providing a clear commitment to principles beyond the two set out in the act: the precautionary principle and the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources. These principles include polluter pays, reconciliation, intergenerational equity, public participation, and integration.
     Fifth, reflecting the committee’s recommendation for a whole-of-government approach, the 2016-2019 strategy provides broader participation across the federal government than ever before. Fifteen federal departments and agencies participate voluntarily in the strategy in addition to the 26 required to do so under the act.

  (1300)  

     This brings the total number of departments and agencies to 41, which is 8 more than in 2013-2016. The committee's recommendations have already had an impact on the FSDS.
    Now, I want to take a look at the amendments before us. The revised purpose of the bill includes respect for Canada's domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, such as the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This new purpose will bring the strategy in line with Canada's future obligations and commitments, as well as the changing priorities and decisions related to sustainable development.
    The bill also includes new sustainable development principles that will be added to the act. The new principles include prevention of pollution, intergenerational equity, openness and transparency, the involvement of aboriginal peoples, collaboration, a results and delivery approach, and the preservation of the basic principle of sustainable development and of the precautionary principle.
    These principles set clear guidelines to help departments develop their own sustainable development strategies and draft an annual report on their actions and results to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and to the corresponding Senate committee. Furthermore, the government will continue to publish a whole-of-government progress report on FSDS, at least once every three years, which will highlight actions taken by participating ministers and agencies and their results.
    We also believe that the government should be a leader, which is why we think the Treasury Board should step up and ensure that the Government of Canada's operations are environmentally sound. Leadership from central agencies will establish guiding principles on the federal government's environmental footprint, providing for an integrated, pan-governmental approach. This way, the government will lead the way on cutting emissions.
     In addition, the changes proposed would increase the number of federal agencies from 26 to more than 90, extending the scope of the act to federal institutions and agencies that have a considerable ecological footprint, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the National Energy Board.
     The principles of openness and transparency will be strengthened by encouraging the release of information to support accountability. The bill also proposes that interdepartmental evaluation mechanisms be put in place, including requiring federal ministers to report annually to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and the corresponding Senate committee. These committees will play a key role by forcing the government to account for its sustainable development results and monitoring the implementation of the act.
     For example, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in particular will play a central role in holding the government accountable for sustainable development results. It may monitor the implementation of our overall approach and ask departments to account for their progress in achieving the FSDS targets. Several other amendments will help make the federal sustainable development strategy even stronger.
     The committee also proposed enshrining the principle of intergenerational equity in the act. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development supports intergenerational equity. Amendments to the act will result in a reform of the Sustainable Development Advisory Council. Council members will take into account demographic considerations such as age and sex so that the council is more representative of diversity and Canadian society.

  (1305)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we support Bill C-57 and the sustainable development strategy. Throughout the member's speech, I heard a number of phrases used, such as quality of drinking water, pollution prevention, polluter pays, a results-based approach, and the precautionary principle. Those are all great, and Conservatives support them.
    However, I asked twice already today in the House, and both times did not receive an answer, how to square the idea of these good principles, these great-sounding words, with the actions of the Liberal government on the protection of our water and drinking water. In November of 2015, the government approved the dumping of eight billion litres of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River in Montreal. One would think that was just a mistake it made, but again, in 2018, in Quebec City, another 43 million litres of raw sewage were dumped into the St. Lawrence River.
    How can we use these great principles and good-sounding words but not follow them up with action that actually protects our environment?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.
     Our government also takes spills very seriously. They affect the environment, and we are making decisions concerning this issue. I am convinced that everything is in place. That is why our government has put so many members around the table: to make the best decisions we can, to answer all the questions and to produce the most complete report possible.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in the last two and a half years, we have seen strong leadership on the environment file. When we talk about the importance of sustainable development, I would argue that one of the best examples is the Trans Mountain pipeline. We have a government that listened to the different stakeholders. There is a report based on science. The national interest was taken into consideration, and ultimately, we are seeing a commitment to the construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline. That is what sustainable development, in good part, is all about: looking at ways we can advance the economy and the environment at the same time.
    We now have legislation that would enhance more accountability and transparency by getting different departments and agencies working collaboratively in certain areas. This is a positive thing. Indigenous representation is guaranteed on the Sustainable Development Advisory Council that reports to the minister. I would argue that these are all positive and encouraging things that have happened in a relatively short time span. It was only two and a half years ago that the Liberals were elected.
    I am wondering if my colleague can provide his thoughts. For me personally, it is important, because it is what I believe my constituents want. I would ask him to reflect on what he believes his constituents want, from the government's perspective.

  (1310)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. He gave a partial answer, since our government firmly believes that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. That is the case in my riding, Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation, through which the pipeline will eventually run.
     Our government has held historic consultations. We met with organizations, municipalities, provinces, territories and Aboriginal groups. We held consultations across the country to explain to people that the environment and respect for the people on the land are priorities for our government. Ultimately, the economy and the environment must go hand in hand in this project.
    Mr. Speaker, the member who just spoke said that the economy and the environment go hand in hand. The official opposition, the Conservatives, completely agree. Contrary to popular belief, Conservatives do not wake up every morning plotting to destroy the planet. We did a lot for the environment in the past.
     The principles of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act, are commendable. Nobody can argue with the bill's intentions. However, now that we know how this government operates, we have serious doubts about its intention to respect our environment, set clear benchmarks, and make Canada more attractive to foreign investors so we can grow the economy while respecting the environment. I would point out that Canada has some of the strictest environmental standards. The previous government, under Mr. Harper, did a lot for the environment.
    As I was saying, the bill's principles are commendable, but we have some serious concerns. The Liberals have been kind of inconsistent and seem to have trouble keeping their promises. People are losing confidence in the government, especially when it comes to the environment. To substantiate that claim, I would refer to the commissioner of the environment, who, in her recent reports, commented that she is very disappointed in the results but congratulated the former Conservative government on its actions. That reflects well on us. People should stop saying that Conservatives wake up every morning looking for ways to destroy the planet because that is totally false.
    I would like to come back to the minister's mandate letter, which reads, and I quote:
     Canadians sent a clear message in this election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments...
    We can already see that the government has fallen short, just from that section of the environment minister's mandate letter. It goes on to say, and I quote:
    If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country—from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change—Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen.
    If members read the news and keep up with current events, they will see that Canadians are losing confidence in this government, particularly when it comes to the environment. Fine words are all well and good, but the government also needs to be clear and consistent. It needs to keep its promises. However, the government is not doing what it said it would in the environment minister's mandate letter and in the mandate letters of many other government ministers. The ministers are not keeping their promises and they are not necessarily being honest in their actions. They want to look good, but when it comes right down to it, they are not keeping their word.
    The mandate letter also says, and I quote:
    It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them.
    The Liberals have a lot of trouble doing that and they wait a long time to own up to their mistakes. The opposition is forced to draw attention to those mistakes day after day until the government realizes that it needs to reconsider. The Liberals are not even following the instructions they gave their ministers in their mandate letters. The letter goes on to say, and I quote:
     Canadians do not expect us to be perfect...
     We do not pretend to be perfect, either, but it is important to aim for perfection, and that is not what the people on the other side are doing. The letter continues:
...they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.
    Speaking of honesty and sincerity, let us talk about the marathon study of Bill C-69 that we just finished. I have the privilege to sit on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which came under pressure to hurry up. All the members of the House were pressured to hurry up, preventing us from doing our work properly. Even the Liberals presented over 100 amendments. We were inundated with more than 30 briefs a day for a month.

  (1315)  

    Let us do the math. Is it humanly possible for an MP to do their work properly under such conditions? Furthermore, all of the witnesses who appeared before the committee were also hurried along. Very few of them got selected. The number of witnesses was capped. Many witnesses were disappointed not to speak. The avalanche of briefs we got shows how important this issue is to all the witnesses from across Canada. The problem with this process is that we are being made to rush just to get it over with. My personal impression is that the Liberals are following a political agenda. They are not really trying to protect the environment with Bill C-69.
    They rushed us, they bulldozed through the process, and they made an omnibus bill. It is more than 650 pages long. I do not claim to be an expert, but most, if not all, of the experts who testified before the committee said they were deeply disappointed with this bill. The committee even heard from a university professor who suggested scrapping the bill and starting fresh. That says it all. That suggestion did not come from the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier. It came from a specialist who studies the environment on a daily basis.
    I come back to the mandate letter for the Minister of Environment, whom I respect greatly, but who is guided by political agendas and opportunities. Unfortunately, she has no control over what happens in her department.
    In partnership with provinces and territories, establish national emissions-reduction targets, ensuring that the provinces and territories have targeted federal funding and the flexibility to design their own policies to meet these commitments, including their own carbon pricing policies.
    That is not what the Liberals did. They imposed the carbon tax and then left it up to the people to figure it out and do what they wanted. They cannot even tell us how this is going to reduce greenhouse gases. Take Australia, for example. That country implemented a carbon tax, but that tax no longer exists in Australia because it was ineffective.
    Let us look at British Columbia and see whether greenhouse gases are on the rise or on the decline. That province has a carbon tax.
    I am committed to leading an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, brings our country together, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds.
     Considering what I said earlier, I do not think I need to comment. My colleagues can draw their own conclusions. We have serious doubts.
     In her report, the environment commissioner emphasized that the Liberal government has not succeeded, I repeat, has not succeeded in reducing greenhouse gas emissions or adapting to the effects of climate change. I am not the one saying this. This is not partisanship, it is the environment commissioner who said so. I have much more respect for her than for our friends across the aisle. The commissioner clearly indicated that the Liberals have made no progress in honouring Canada’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She confirmed that there was a lack of leadership in adapting to the effects of climate change. We should not be surprised.
     In the last Parliament, we, the Conservative members of the House, implemented important measures that enabled us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We cut them by 15%. That is something. We did such a good job that the Liberals used our targets when they went to Paris to negotiate the Paris Agreement. They submitted the targets the Conservative government set when it was in power, and they applied them. They spent their time criticizing our work, but they used our tools.
     I could say considerably more, but I will allow my colleagues to ask me questions.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have only one very simple question to ask my colleague, who made a very nice presentation. I congratulate him on the excellent work he has done for us on the environment.
     I would like to raise the fundamental question of transparency. He briefly mentioned that the government currently has documents that indicate beyond a doubt the cost of the carbon tax for Canadian families. However, the government redacted these documents to hide the exact amount it will cost Canadians.
     Can my colleague tell us his thoughts on this and share what he heard about the carbon tax in committee?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Montmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, who has done excellent work. I will be adopting his hairstyle on June 9. I will become his disciple. It suits him, but we will see what it does for me.
    As my colleague mentioned, we have our doubts. We do not have the information and the government is hiding information. We do not even know what effect the carbon tax will have on greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot say how much money will be taken out of Canadian families' pockets. That is not very reassuring. Of course, we must protect the environment and take steps to introduce new technologies, but this government is not taking action. It is only trying to look good. Once again, with Bill C-69 it is making it look as though it is implementing additional controls and enhancing the regulations, but, in the end, the government has the last word. It is the minister who has the power.
    If we reread Bill C-69, we see that this government does not have confidence in the people. It wants to keep the power for itself and is acting like the Liberals did in the past. Members will recall the Gomery commission.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in committee, the Conservative Party moved an amendment to the legislation to allow members of the sustainable development advisory committee to claim their airfare for travel. Therefore, if they flew to Ottawa, they could recover that cost. It provided that clarification. It is important to acknowledge that this was a Conservative amendment brought forward by the member for Abbotsford.
     Today, the Conservative Party, through the member for Abbotsford, has introduced an amendment to get rid of the amendment we all supported at committee. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to have this amendment before us today.
     Could the member explain for the listeners and those following the debate today why the Conservative Party moved this amendment to get rid of the amendment, which we all accepted, that was proposed by the Conservatives in committee?

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for his excellent question.
    As I said at the outset, we agree with the principles of Bill C-57. We wanted to improve the bill and we have serious concerns about the Liberal government's intentions. Why does it want to reimburse committee members for their expenses in addition to paying them? Is it trying to put a cash value on political assistance? Does this government really intend to put in place an effective committee that will advocate for the environment? My colleague can answer those questions at another time.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.
    Specifically, I will discuss how the bill supports a results-oriented, accountable approach to federal sustainability. As chair of the environment committee, I also want to mention how the bill has incorporated many of the environment committee recommendations that were tabled as the first report of the committee, and a unanimous report, I might add, which is why today is so confusing with what is being brought forward.
    I will begin by speaking about how the federal sustainable development strategy, or FSDS, supports accountability and transparency. Next, I will discuss the indicators that will be put in place to measure progress and how they will help demonstrate sustainable development results. Finally, I will describe how the amendments in Bill C-57 would strengthen accountability in future strategies and how they would complement action already being taken under our current FSDS. This includes clause 5, which seeks to ensure the federal government's approach better reflects Canada's diversity and its heritage.
    The government has committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency, and that includes being transparent and accountable when it comes to the sustainable development results we achieve for Canadians. The FSDS that was tabled in October 2016 reflects this commitment. It provides the foundation for accountability by clearly defining what government wants to achieve.
     At the core of the strategy, there are 13 aspirational goals, supported by measurable medium-term targets. The strategy identifies the federal minister responsible for achieving each of those targets.
     The sustainable development goals and targets support the vision that Canada is one of the greenest countries in the world and that we want our quality of life to continue to improve. The goals reflect the environmental sustainable development goals of the United Nations 2030 agenda, aligning Canada's strategy with the priorities of the international community.
     Responding to the expectations of Canadians and the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, the strategy includes stronger and more ambitious targets than previous strategies tabled in 2010 and 2013.
    For the first time, short-term milestones have been included in the strategy. These milestones will help ensure we are on track to achieve our medium-term targets and our long-term goals.
     I will now discuss how we are measuring progress on those strategies and communicating our results to parliamentarians, stakeholders, and Canadians.
    Our strategy identifies a total of 46 indicators that will help us measure and report on our goals and targets. They are based on sound science and track Canada's progress on sustainable development issues about which Canadians care, such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, water quality, and our protected areas.
    Many come from a network of environmental monitoring programs from across the country. These science-based programs deliver the data and information needed for the indicators. Many are founded on collaborative partnerships with provinces and territories, our partners.
     For example, the air quality indicators report to Canadians on levels of five key air pollutants that can affect their health. These indicators use data from sources like the national air pollution surveillance program and a collaboration between Environment and Climate Change Canada and provincial, territorial, and municipal environmental agencies.
     Similarly, the indicator on water quality in Canadian rivers uses data from federal, provincial, and territorial monitoring programs across Canada, as well as water quality guidelines from the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and provincial and territorial sources.
     Drawing on the indicators, the FSDS includes starting points so Canadians can closely track the government's progress over the strategy's three-year cycle. For instance, the strategy indicates that in 2014, 64.4% of Canada's electricity came from renewable sources and 80% from non-emitting sources. Canada's target is for 90% of our electricity to come from renewable and non-emitting sources by 2030, and 100% in the long term. As of 2015, 10.6% of Canada's terrestrial area was protected. Our target is 17% of lands and freshwater conserved by 2020. As the strategy is implemented, the government has already begun to report on the results.

  (1330)  

    The first-ever FSDS update was published in June 2017. The updates have provided early results for short-term milestones and show that a number of them have already been accomplished.
    For example, Canada has ratified the historic Paris Agreement. The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change has been adopted by first ministers of the federal government and the 11 provinces and territories, an achievement about which we should feel quite proud. We have surpassed our target of protecting 5% of Canada's marine and coastal areas by 2017.
    Through the tabling of a whole-of-government FSDS progress report that will draw on the indicators, the government will continue to report on sustainable development progress.
    I will now describe how accountability and reporting will be enhanced, including through the amendments in Bill C-57.
    Following our review of the FSDA in the spring of 2016, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommended that the government take action to strengthen accountability under the act. The government listened and has responded. Bill C-57 includes a number of amendments to significantly strengthen reporting and ensure that the government can be held accountable for results.
    The bill provides a comprehensive suite of well-accepted sustainable development principles to guide future strategies. This includes a principle that a results and delivery approach is key to meeting measurable targets. This new approach clarifies the importance of developing objectives, developing strategies for meeting them, and using indicators to report on progress.
    Bill C-57 would also require that each FSDS target be measurable and include a time frame. This would ensure that future strategies could support rigorous performance measurement and reporting.
    The bill also specifies that departments and agencies across government are responsible for contributing to the development of FSDS progress reports. Sustainable development is not something that one department working on its own can accomplish. It is a whole-of-Government approach with a broad range of federal organizations that must play a role in developing, implementing, and reporting on the strategy.
    Our approach must also reflect the input and perspectives of all Canadians, not just the perspective of government. This is why clause 5 of the bill, which addresses the composition and mandate for the Sustainable Development Advisory Council, is so important.
    Under Bill C-57, the Sustainable Development Advisory Council would play an important role by advising the minister on any matter related to sustainable development that would be referred to it by the minister. More specifically, it would ensure the government would take a whole-of-Canada view, seeking the advice and expertise of Canadians that would reflect our country's diversity of background, ethnicity, age, gender, and circumstance.
    Clause 5 also seeks to increase the number of indigenous people representatives on the council to better reflect indigenous groups represented and the broad range of challenges they face across Canada. This directly supports our efforts to forge new relationships with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
    The government recognizes the importance of a transparent and accountable sustainable development approach. It is important that parliamentarians hold the government accountable for sustainable development goals and progress, and the amendments in the bill would strengthen and elevate their role.
    The bill would require that all federal organizations bound by the act report each year to parliamentary committees, including the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, on progress in implementing their sustainability strategies. We found it was important to make them accountable back. We do not want to have to wait for the auditor to tell us what is going on. These strategies comply with and contribute to the broader FSDS and support the whole-of-government approach.
    With this FSDS, which is the strongest to date, the government established ambitious goals, targets, and milestones that would let Canadians know where we wanted to be on sustainable development.
    The indicators show the progress being made, drawing on sound science and high-quality data from across the country. The indicators will help determine whether we are on track to meet the targets and where we need to focus our efforts to address remaining challenges. They also form the basis of the reporting to parliamentarians and Canadians.
    Strengthening accountability was a key issue and it was in the unanimous second report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I am very proud of our recommendations, the government's adoption of the recommendations, and the new bill that we are discussing today.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for King—Vaughan for her presentation today, but there are a few things that trouble me. I believe the hon. member's words were that sustainable development is not something one department can work on on its own. I would interject that I do not believe it is anything any department is going to be able to work on now because of the way Bill C-69 was pushed through the House two days ago. I believe there were about 600 pages of amendments. For the last half of those amendments, we could not even have officials in the room to advise the members that were debating the bill. In fact, we were not even able to debate the last half of those amendments.
    I will say that there were over 126 amendments from the Liberal Party on their own Liberal government bill. Obviously, the bill came out half-baked, half-finished. As well, we have heard members of the resource sector and some from the energy sector saying that it is the “never do anything again” bill.
     How can the hon. member say that all departments are going to have to work together, when the committee she chaired rammed through a bill that is basically going to stop any development of any significant type in Canada in the future?
    Mr. Speaker, I find it very interesting how the member was weaving work that was done at committee on Bill C-69 into what we are discussing today in the House.
    I just want to make a point to answer the question that was raised. All the committee members from all sides of the House brought many amendments. That was really to try to strengthen the bill. The work of a committee is to try to strengthen a bill of the government.
     I am very proud of the fact that all the members who were working on the committee, plus those outside the committee, took the time to look at the bill and bring forward recommendations to strengthen it. We did consider all of those recommendations. We voted on all of them. We did. We heard from 50 witnesses. We had over 150 briefs. We considered every single one of those amendments and voted on them.
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, yes, the standing committee did review this matter twice. In fact, the committee heard from experts, including the commissioner twice.
    The commissioner then came to comment on this bill. She said she was happy that there were some additional factors to be considered, but she was deeply disappointed that although this is a sustainable development bill, it failed to reference the 2030 sustainable development goals Canada supposedly has signed on to. It also failed in reference to the Paris Agreement, although she reports on all the actions.
    The commissioner just this year, this spring, issued a castigating report against the government for abjectly failing to have any measures in place to genuinely deliver sustainable development assessments. Let us remember that there is also a cabinet directive, which she had recommended should be incorporated into the act. The government decided not to, and she has given abject failures to every agency for failing to obey that.
    Given that the commissioner is still failing the government on action, we did not need a new bill to tell us that it is taking it seriously. What is there about this bill, compared to the former one, that is going to finally make the government take seriously its responsibilities under the agreement it signed with the United Nations?

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, there were quite a few things in that question. I will touch on the one at the end and try to capture the others as well.
    One of the things the commissioner brought forward was that there really was not an across-government approach to this, and the departments were not necessarily building toward sustainable development goals, even though they were supposed to. We heard that, and we made recommendations to suggest to the government that it tighten that up, which it has done. It brought in indicators and measures.
    We have tightened up significantly. The commissioner brought the concerns to the committee, and we brought forward those changes. She has come back and said that she still wants to see more changes. I think what we are expecting is that the reports back to parliamentary committees are going to very much strengthen the power of parliamentarians to hold the government accountable. We do not have to wait for many years for the commissioner to come back and tell us that things are not what they should be. We are going to have those reports coming back and different committees responding. We will have parliamentarians holding the government accountable. We will also have Canadians holding the government accountable, because we are going to have measures and indicators that they are going to be monitoring.
    Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here this afternoon speaking to Bill C-57, an act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act. I last spoke in the House at length on this bill in October 2017. I am thankful for the opportunity to have served on the environment committee for a while and have wrapped myself around this topic quite well.
    What does it mean, and what is its purpose? I am going to refer to a specific section:
    The purpose of this Act is to provide the legal framework for developing and implementing a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy that makes decision making related to sustainable development more transparent and subject to accountability to Parliament, promotes coordinated action across the Government of Canada to advance sustainable development and respects Canada’s domestic and international obligations relating to sustainable development, with a view to improving the quality of life of Canadians.
    There is another factor in that section I want to read:
the principle that sustainable development is based on an efficient use of natural, social and economic resources and the need for the Government of Canada to integrate environmental, economic and social factors in the making of all of its decisions;
    I bring that up, because I am going to dwell on that later in my speech.
    Our Conservative Party recognizes that sustainability needs to be included in every decision to ensure that there is a balance between social, economic, and environmental factors. We have always believed in that. The record will show that we are the only government in the last decade and a half that has a record of improving greenhouse gas emissions.
    This type of policy-making ensures not only that today's generation will have a healthy and prosperous lifestyle but that we can pass health and prosperity on to future generations to come: my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren, your great-grandchildren, Mr. Speaker, and everyone else's.
    The importance of sustainable development is something on which all parties agree. I do not think anyone disagrees that we have to protect the environment or that the environment can survive on its own but industry cannot. It needs to protect the environment, and I believe we all believe this and will fight for it very hard. This is proven by the fact that the report from the environment committee was unanimous. Sustainable development is so important to the future of Canada and to our grandchildren that not only should environmental factors be considered, but we need to also consider the social and economic pillars that surround them.
    If we go back almost 10 years, then minister John Baird, under the Conservative government, supported a Liberal member's private member's bill regarding the federal sustainability act. The bill was passed, and we followed the guidelines. We had positive results, better than I can say from the current government. The act declares that all government decision-making be reviewed through an environmental, economic, and social lens. I want to stress the social lens and the appropriate balance. That is a bit of a rub.
    I had a great working career in the RCMP. I have lived near the energy sector in Alberta and British Columbia since around 1986. I also had the opportunity, nearly 20 years ago, to work directly in the oil and gas sector as a regulator, as an enforcer, for the Province of British Columbia after I retired. I have a pretty good understanding of what goes on in relation to oil and gas exploration in Canada and the way we protect the environment.

  (1345)  

    Part of my job was to make sure that companies out there were doing their job to protect the environment. I will stand in this House all day long and wave the fact that I think Canada—the provinces of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and even a little has been done in Ontario and Quebec—has the greatest, strongest environmental standards in the world, and we produce the cleanest energy, regardless of what it is, whether it is coal, oil, or gas. We have such strong, stringent regulations that we should be proud of that fact.
    Twenty years ago, the B.C. government realized that industry was hampered, government was hampered, the public was hampered, and aboriginal communities were hampered by overregulation. Too many departments, having separate control, were all fighting and vying to do their part to protect the environment and the government and to regulate industry. What did the B.C. government do? Twenty years ago, it realized that it needed to hire one person to oversee it and one person to try to bring it back together, and it did.
    If my numbers are correct, we got rid of one-third of the regulations. Industry prospered. We developed a really good working relationship with aboriginal communities. They could understand what was going on and could work with the government and industry because of the way the regulations were modernized and improved.
    If we look at this bill, I believe it says that it would require more departments and more agencies to contribute to the federal sustainable development strategy. It would bring the total to more than 90, from the current 26. My God, look back at history, folks. It does not work. We have to modernize it and make it efficient, effective, and understandable so that everyone can work together. If we make it too big, the government cannot control it. If we make it too complicated, industry and the people involved, whether it is on private or aboriginal land, cannot understand it. Here we are with a new bill trying to increase it by over three times. Let us get this thing back to reality.
    I am sorry that I am a little scattered. I was told about this about 20 minutes ago, so I came in here and wrote some notes down from what I remembered.
    As I said earlier, the environment committee did a fantastic job, and it had a unanimous report on this. Conservative members on the environment and sustainable development committee supported the changes to the FSDS. They wanted to ensure, as did the Liberal and NDP members, that economic, social, and environmental considerations were accounted for by the Government of Canada. They wanted to make sure that happened. They wanted to ensure that the act included measurable targets and enforceability.
    Measurable targets and enforceability are so important. We can throw out a handful of rules, but if we cannot enforce them and cannot ever make that number, why put them out there? Make it reasonable for all the people participating, whether it is the aboriginal community, people living in the area, industry, or government. If we all work together and can understand what we are all doing together, we can accomplish a lot together.
    My friend from the Northwest Territories understands what I am talking about when I talk about finding an appropriate balance between the environment, the economy, and their lives. We can get everything to work together, but we must make it balanced.
    I am thankful for the opportunity to speak. I have more to say. I could probably have gone on another 10 minutes.

  (1350)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to my colleague's debate. Does he not agree that with our planet already facing the effects of global change, from wildfires that rage longer and more harshly to thinning ice, there is a need for such legislation to protect our planet and Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree, but Canada is protected. We have a good set of rules and regulations in place. I hate to tell you, but we had fires shortly after earth developed. We had natural fires. We are going to continue to have fires. We can do everything you want to stop fires, but fires will start. We have lightning, caused by the weather. We have weather trends. Things dry out some years. Some years they are so wet, we cannot even get into the forest. These things are natural. Can we control them with this? No, we cannot. These are natural things that have been happening over decades, and hundreds and hundreds of years. Fires have always existed. The problem is that man wants to stop the fires. The fires controlled a lot of the environmental problems we have today, such as the pine beetle.
    I want to remind hon. members to place their answers and questions through the Chair.
    Questions and Comments, the hon. member for Whitby.
    Mr. Speaker, I have raised this point in the House before. The Insurance Bureau of Canada has said that between 1983 and 2005, Canadians paid about $373 million in insurance costs related to weather-related events. Between 2005 and 2015, that number tripled to $1.7 billion in costs related to wetter, warmer, wilder weather.
    Does the hon. member across the way not agree that Canadians are paying exorbitant amounts of money for the costs of weather caused by climate change?
    We should be doing something about it. We put in a comprehensive oceans protection plan. We put in a comprehensive plan to ensure that we are charging for pollution. We are taking the steps needed to ensure that those astronomical costs that Canadians are already paying will be reduced.
    Does he not agree that this plan, this piece of legislation, will help to contribute to Canadian sustainability now and into the future.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am going to say no. However, the member brings up a very good point. I would like to explain one aspect of what she is talking about. Let us talk about floods. In so many areas in Canada, from coast to coast to coast, governments, whether municipal, provincial, or federal, allow people to build properties, whether residential, industrial, or commercial, on flat plains by rivers. If they had taken the time to perhaps talk to an early pioneer in that area, he probably would have told them that the plain flooded in 1901, in 1896, and in 1932. However, do we listen to him? No we do not. We sit around a table with a bunch of scientists reading a book and coming up with a good, reasoned fact. We should take a common sense approach in the bill, and use people within society, people from the communities, who understand.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Yellowhead for his contributions on the environment committee. I very much enjoyed the work we did together. We did a great job on the FSDA and FSDS. He spoke to much of that in his speech.
    However, I am really confused because we had a unanimous report. I am confused why we are debating today a clause that was agreed in committee and that we worked very hard at in order to ensure that a whole-of-government approach was embedded in the bill. I understand his point about making it very difficult, but if we are going to do sustainability right, everyone needs to be engaged. I want him to explain why we are debating this today and why he wants to change what we did at committee.
    Mr. Speaker, people's minds change. Given a longer time to look at it, we see where the errors and mistakes are, and so we stand up to try to correct those errors and mistakes.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Conservative Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, it would seem that the Conservatives will now be defending Quebeckers' interests. The problem is, we do not know which Quebeckers they are talking about.
    Clearly, they are not talking about those in the regions, because, yesterday in the House, they voted against using our softwood lumber, and their deputy leader is against supply management.
    They will not defend the Quebec City region either. It was their own maritime strategy that cost Davie close to 900 jobs. They will not defend the millions of Quebeckers who live along the river.
    Their leader, whose name nobody really remembers, is nice and all when he visits us, but when he is in the Maritimes, he promises the return of the energy east pipeline.
    Conservatives will definitely not defend Quebeckers' interests. At this very moment, they are sponsoring a petition to reopen the abortion debate. That bunch of Harper clones who still believe that the Earth is flat are totally fine with that. They will take Quebeckers' money and votes, but when the time comes to defend Quebeckers' jobs, they will take a break. They do not defend our rights, our people, or our environment. How then will they defend our interests?

[English]

HMCS Halifax

    Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the privilege and honour of joining the crew of HMCS Halifax as part of the Royal Canadian Navy's Canadian leaders at sea program. HMCS Halifax is one of our proudest vessels, and has flown the Canadian flag on the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Adriatic Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Caribbean Sea, and beyond.
    I returned from this trip with a renewed admiration for the incredible sacrifices made by our armed forces each and every day. From top to bottom, the crew of the HMCS Halifax demonstrated tremendous professionalism, discipline, and hospitality throughout my stay. I would like to salute Commodore Craig Skjerpen, commanding officer Scott Nelson, and, indeed, the entire crew of HMCS Halifax for welcoming me with open arms.
    [Member spoke in Latin as follows:]
    Parati vero parati.

  (1400)  

Tony Day

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to my constituent and friend, Tony Day, who passed away this morning surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
    Tony was the definition of an upstanding citizen. In 1957, he purchased a truck to haul fresh water to the oil drilling rigs. This was the start of Fast Trucking Service, which grew to 85 trucks and to become a major contributor to the Saskatchewan oil industry.
    Tony was a legend in the oil field, employing hundreds of people from Carnduff and southeast Saskatchewan over the years. He was a man who truly cared about his community, giving back more than he was given and supporting the citizens of Carnduff in good times and in bad. I have always said he reminded me of my grandfather. Tony was awarded the Southeast Oilman of the Year Award in 1999 and inducted into the Saskatchewan Oil Patch Hall of Fame in 2009. I also presented Tony with a Senate of Canada 150 medal for all of his work and dedication.
    Tony leaves a legacy and spirit that will live on forever. To his wife Vi, and his children, Linda, Teresa, Dennis, and Larry, I send my deepest condolences.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, it does not take newcomers long to make a positive difference to Canada. Here is a wonderful example. Haya Jumaa is a 24-year-old Mississauga resident originally from Syria. Since her arrival, she has won the Canadian championship for karate four years in a row. She has been named the athlete of the year by Karate Canada for three years. She has just received her Canadian citizenship and will be travelling to represent Canada on the world stage in two international competitions, including the Pan Am Games this June in Chile.
    This amazing young woman is studying health science at York University and wants to become a doctor. She aspires to work with the UN to help people in need. Her family is profoundly proud of her. So are we.
    Haya's story is Canada's story. Haya is a great addition to our Canadian family. I cannot wait to see her kick some rear end at the 2020 Olympic Games.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, in Courtenay—Alberni, the District of Tofino, the Town of Qualicum Beach, and the City of Parksville are all moving toward the elimination of single-use plastics within their jurisdictions. Whether it be the banning of plastic straws or banning of plastic bags, they are doing their part to reduce the amount of ocean plastics washing up onto the coasts of Vancouver Island. Next week, the Regional District of Nanaimo will lead a national discussion with mayors and councillors on the crisis of marine litter by issuing a call to action at the conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Halifax.
    Vancouver Islanders know the harm caused by plastic pollution in our oceans, because they are seeing it every day. Coastal residents are cleaning up plastic straws, bags, and coffee lids on our beaches in a relentless fight to protect our waters and shorelines. It is time for the members of this House to join Vancouver Islanders and their local governments in this important fight.

Distinguished Olympian and Scholar

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to honour Professor Bruce Kidd, an accomplished Olympian, scholar, administrator, Officer of the Order of Canada, and vital member of my community.
     As an athlete, he won 18 national championships in men's long-distance running and was a member of Team Canada to the 1962 Commonwealth Games and the 1964 Olympic Games.
    He has had a distinguished academic career at the University of Toronto as professor, dean, warden of Hart House, and, most recently, as principal at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. During his tenure as principal, he brought forward a strategic vision for the campus, encouraged sports, and championed reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
    He was recently appointed to the federal working group to advance gender equity in sports. I wish to thank Professor Kidd for his leadership, vision, and friendship. I wish him and his partner Phyllis a well-deserved retirement, and I thank them for their service to our community and country.
    I am proud to welcome Professor Wisdom Tettey as the incoming principal at UTSC.

World Vision

    Mr. Speaker, I and colleagues from other parties went to Kenya last week. We saw how Canadians support international development through a non-governmental organization called World Vision. We saw first-hand the positive changes that Canadian taxpayers' investments are making. We saw how we can address malnutrition by equipping small-scale farmers with nutrient-rich, drought-resistant plants. We met with mothers who were learning about maternal and reproductive health, immunization, and HIV and AIDS. We met with schoolchildren who talked about fleeing forced child marriage, female genital mutilation, and child labour. They all were clearly appreciative of the help and expertise World Vision provided in their communities.
    It was encouraging to see the impact that can be made when we come together in partnership to contribute to bettering the lives of others around the world. We are truly making a difference. I thank World Vision.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

4th Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment

    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate Lieutenant-Colonel Jacques Nicolas on his new position as commander of the 4th Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment of Châteauguay in Laval. As a former commander of Squadron 21 of the Canadian Armed Forces reserve and as a major in the air force, it was an honour and a privilege for me to attend the 4th Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment's end-of-year regimental day. Their commitment as Canadian Armed Forces reservists deserves to be recognized. They are essential in defending Canadian values and protecting our citizens.

Yves Grandmaison

    Mr. Speaker, today, Brome—Missisquoi reveals a great volunteer. I wish to highlight the commitment of Yves Grandmaison, from Magog, who has spent his whole life devoted to his community. Yves has owned a barber shop on Magog's rue Principale for more than 50 years. He volunteers for many organizations, including the Fondation Constance-Langlois, which provides assistance to a day centre for handicapped people, and Han-logement, which offers housing that is adapted to the needs of people with disabilities, as well as the Optimist Club, and a number of other organizations. Last Friday, I paid him a visit in his shop to hand him a parliamentary medal and an honorary certificate, in the presence of many of his friends.
    I would like to thank all those who devote themselves to their communities and who improve the quality of life in Brome—Missisquoi through their generosity.

[English]

Armenia

    Mr. Speaker, last evening, along with colleagues of the Canada–Armenia Friendship Group, I was honoured to attend a celebration of the centennial of independence of the Republic of Armenia.
    While we celebrate great strides taken by Armenia, concerns remain surrounding the conflict in the Artsakh region. With over 80% of Artsakh's population voting in a referendum and 99% of those supporting independence, it was unfortunate that Azerbaijan ignored the results and responded aggressively. The conflict resulted in tens of thousands of victims and hundreds of thousands of refugees. In 1994, the conflict ended with a ceasefire agreement.
    In a 2006 referendum, the region approved a new constitution. While there have been signs of progress in peace negotiations, there have been several instances of ceasefire violations, most notably in 2016, when dozens of soldiers lost their lives, and since then deaths of innocent civilians have happened far too often.
    I call on the Government of Canada to stand up for the right to self-determination of the people of the Republic of Artsakh and to work alongside the global community in seeking peace for this region.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

    Mr. Speaker, do you hear a waltz? I ask because I am giving a shout-out to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.
    A cornerstone of the Vancouver cultural scene, the VSO is one of the nation's oldest symphony orchestras. It has led world tours, won Junos and Grammys, and contributes annually to CBC radio. The VSO has enriched the city of Vancouver, our residents and tourists alike. Its School of Music has fostered the next generation of talented musicians.
     I would also like to congratulate Bramwell Tovey, the musical director of the VSO, on 18 years of service as maestro. Bramwell is a world-class, award-winning icon of symphony orchestras, travelling to various cities in China, Korea, Canada, and the United States.
    Tonight the VSO will perform at the National Arts Centre. Members should take advantage of this incredible opportunity. I can assure them that like fine wine, the VSO has aged well, and they will hear a waltz.

Trades Training at Okanagan College

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to convey thanks from Okanagan College for the more than $3 million in federal support to build the most advanced training facilities for the trades in B.C.'s southern interior.
    Last week I had the opportunity to attend the opening of the Trades Training House at Okanagan College' s Kelowna campus. This new facility received $342,000 in strategic investment funding and is a tremendous addition to the recently completed trades complex at the same campus. The Trades Training House provides carpentry, electrical, and plumbing students a hands-on experience in a building that mimics a real-world residential and commercial workspace.
     In August the college will be opening another trades facility in Vernon, B.C., made possible in part by another $2.7-million investment from the same federal strategic innovation fund.
     I am pleased to see how federal, provincial, and community supports have enabled Okanagan College to provide world-class training as we address the skills agenda for Canada.

  (1410)  

Workers with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, the Hon. Michelle Stilwell has proven that anything is possible. A five-time Paralympic gold medallist, British Columbia Liberal MLA, and former cabinet minister, she has always championed people with disabilities. How fitting it is that she is announcing today her support for the opportunity for workers with disabilities act. Her support comes along with support from many New Democrats, Liberals, and Conservatives, who all believe that workers with disabilities should be allowed to keep more of their wages than they lose to clawbacks and taxes.
    Over a million Canadians with disabilities already work. Thousands more want to, but cannot afford to lose housing, medication, and income to the taxes and clawbacks that come along with it. The opportunity for workers with disabilities act seeks to fix this problem to make work pay for everyone. Let us pass this bill and provide opportunity for all Canadians.

Give 30

    Mr. Speaker, for those in Ajax, in Canada, and across the world who are observing, Ramadan mubarak.
    For the fourth year in a row, I am fasting for the entire month of Ramadan in support of the charity Give 30. Give 30 asks us to take the money we save from fasting to give to those most in need, to our local charities and local food banks, so that others may eat.
    When I walk out of here and walk past a plate of food, because I am fasting I make a choice that I am not eating it, but for so many there is no choice. There is no food to reach for. In connecting us to the suffering of others, Ramadan is enormously powerful.
    Give 30 is a tremendous initiative that, since I first spoke in this House, has expanded to the United States and Australia and is now expanding to other parts of the world.
    Inshallah, we can do something if all of us take a small part, a small action, to try to do something about hunger.

Gender Equality

    Mr. Speaker, today marks the anniversary of women in Canada winning the right to vote in federal elections. While we have come a long way in 100 years, we still have a very long way to go. On this auspicious day, parliamentarians would do well to dream and work for what could be.
    Let us remember that we remain saddled with an electoral system that leaves women behind—young women, senior women, disabled women, women of colour, immigrant women, trans women, indigenous women, and LBGTQ2 women. So much for the promise that 2015 would be the last election in Canada using first past the post. This is an anniversary with no change at all, despite the overwhelming preference among Canadians, experts and citizens alike, for proportional representation.
    Women constitute 51% of the population, so 25% representation in this place is not enough. Lip service is not enough. We demand real feminist leadership. We must not let anyone tell us it cannot be done.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' tabling of Bill C-75 is an indication that they do not seem to believe either that crime is a serious issue or that victims' rights should be a priority. The bill contains elements that will permit crimes that are indictable offences to now be treated as summary offences. Perpetrators who commit offences such as participating in the activity of a terrorist group, forced marriage, polygamy, and impaired driving causing bodily harm will now be able to escape the consequences of their actions by simply paying a fine.
    To add insult to injury, the Liberals are breaking yet another promise. They committed to protect religious officials by upholding section 176 of the Criminal Code, which says that the assault of religious officials is an indictable offence. In an era when religious officials are vulnerable to acts of hatred, it is puzzling that the Liberal government is once again trying to minimize the fundamental importance of religious freedom in Canada.
    Conservatives believe that Canada's fundamental charter rights and the safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government.

  (1415)  

Gender Equality

    Mr. Speaker, in the words of Nellie McClung:
    Have we not the brains to think? Hands to work? Hearts to feel? And lives to live? Do we not bear our part in citizenship? Do we not help build the Empire? Give us our due!
    One hundred years ago today, some women in Canada won the right to vote in federal elections for the first time, but indigenous women, Asian women, and others were excluded from this right until much later.
     We have come a long way in these 100 years, from winning the right to vote, to winning a seat in this House, to 50% women in our cabinet, to our gender-focused budget, to our feminist G7 presidency. We have learned that when we add women, we change everything for the better, and better is always possible.
    On this 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in federal elections, we celebrate the contributions of so many great women and men towards equality and we commit to doing more.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, there are new revelations this morning regarding the fisheries minister.
    According to a report in The Globe and Mail, Chief Terrance Paul and the Membertou First Nation were informed by the minister that they needed to partner with the company run by the Liberal MP's brother in order to win a surf clam licence.
    I have a simple question: Are the media reports true? Did the Minister of Fisheries or anyone acting on his behalf suggest to the Membertou First Nation that it needed to make a deal with the Premium Seafoods company in order to win this bid?
    Mr. Speaker, that allegation is simply false.
    What is more important is the decision our government made to include indigenous nations in this lucrative offshore fishery. It is a historic decision. We had a public process, very similar to the one the former Conservative government had, to consult with industry and indigenous groups about participating in this fishery. We think it was a positive process, and we think it is a positive decision to include indigenous people in this fishery.
    Mr. Speaker, we know the Liberals decided to include their friends and family in this, for sure.
    The fisheries minister decided to take surf clam quota away from Clearwater Seafoods and give it to a company with connections to his own family, a company being run by a sitting Liberal MP's brother. To make matters worse, the company he gave the licence to had the lowest percentage of indigenous ownership of all the bidders, and it did not even have a boat. Clearly, the fix was in.
    Will the minister do the right thing and restart the bidding process?
    Mr. Speaker, no matter how often my hon. friend repeats the same incorrect allegations, it will not make them true. To say that I have a family member who will benefit from this decision is entirely false, and she knows that.
    I would draw her attention to the statement made by Chief Sock on the Elsipogtog First Nation website. He has been very clear. I do not have a family member who will benefit from this process. My hon. friend should be more careful before making up those allegations and repeating them, when she knows they are not true.
    Mr. Speaker, this is just another in the latest long list of Liberal ethics scandals: the Prime Minister under investigation; the Minister of Finance under investigation; the Liberal MP for Brampton East under investigation.
    Now the fisheries minister is under formal investigation. There are new, serious allegations being reported, and the minister's credibility is in tatters. No one honestly believes that the deal was above board. It has Liberal corruption all over it.
    If the minister will not do the right thing and reset the process, will the Prime Minister remove him from this file?
    Mr. Speaker, again, obviously, if the Ethics Commissioner has questions or concerns, or would like any documents with respect to this process, we are of course happy to comply and happy to have those conversations with the Ethics Commissioner or his staff.
    I would remind my hon. friend again that it is important to stick to the facts. The facts are that we had an open process to consult industry and indigenous communities. The Conservatives' process, which was very similar to ours, forgot to include indigenous communities. We made a decision to begin the conversation—

  (1420)  

    The hon. member for Lévis—Lotbinière.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the investigation into the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard seems never-ending. There are goodies for everyone with Liberal connections, starting with the industrial park that a slew of Liberal friends and relatives have a hand in. Now we are hearing that the minister ordered a business owner to back out of a partnership with Clearwater in favour of an alliance with a Liberal MP's brother who owns Premium Seafoods.
    When did the Prime Minister find out that the minister's family would benefit from this very lucrative contract?
    Mr. Speaker, apparently my hon. colleague wants to ask the same questions in French. That does not change the facts. As I just explained in English, and in French earlier this week, no member of my family and none of my wife's 60 first cousins benefited from this process. I find it irresponsible of the member to keep repeating these allegations when he knows very well that they are false.
    Mr. Speaker, under the Liberals the only thing that is clear and transparent is the lens taking the Prime Minister's selfies.
    Bribery is the only thing missing from the list of allegations of patronage, breach of contract, and deceit associated with the fishing expedition of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
    When did the Prime Minister learn that the minister's family would benefit from this lucrative contract and why is the Prime Minister defending the indefensible?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has only heard these false allegations, repeated by my colleague, here in the House.
    The Prime Minister was very clear. Our government decided to open up commercial fishing, the offshore fishery, to the indigenous peoples in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. We implemented an open process to consult the industry and indigenous communities. That was something the Conservative Party forgot to do when it also decided to add stakeholders to this fishery three years ago.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General has been clear. The Liberals do not have a plan to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
    How does the government defend itself? It discredits the Auditor General's work and says that he does not know what he is talking about.
    Can the Liberals tell us the total amount of the subsidies for fossil fuels? Can they tell us when in 2019 they will eliminate those subsides? Can they finally tell us how much money they are going to give Kinder Morgan? Where is the Liberal government's plan?
    Mr. Speaker, we are committed to phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by the year 2025, and we are on track to meet that target. At the same time, we know that the Trans Mountain expansion is very important for our country, for our economy, and for jobs across Canada That is why we are working with the company to find a solution to the pipeline expansion. That is very important.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to take us all back to Paris. It was December 2015, and a shiny new Prime Minister from Canada put his hand on his chest and promised the world that Canada would end the subsidies to the big oil and gas companies. If we fast-forward to today, that same Prime Minister beats his chest as he not only keeps the subsidies in place, but is actually adding on indemnification for the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposal.
    Canadians and the world want to know what happened to that guy. Where is the support for the green, clean jobs of tomorrow? When are the Liberals going to finally keep their commitment and end the subsidy to big oil and big gas?
    Mr. Speaker, we have committed to phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies between now and 2025. We are on track to do that. In fact, we took measures to do that in budget 2016. At the same time, we want to make sure that we can move forward with the pipeline expansion, which is in the best interests of our country.
    The environment and the economy can go hand in hand. That is exactly what we are doing by taking a commercial approach to finding a way to have that pipeline project go forward without having any subsidy in place in any way.

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals say they are committed, but I am committed to having a luscious, full head of hair and it is not happening, either. I am wondering when the Liberals are actually going to do something about it.
    There are a lot of things we disagree about in this place, and we should, yet there is one thing we should never disagree about, and that is how Canadians vote in our elections. The way Canadians vote is sacred and a foundation of our democracy. It is not a right or left issue; it is right or wrong. It was wrong when Stephen Harper forced the unfair elections act through Parliament, and it is wrong when the Liberals do the exact same thing.
    My question for the government is simple. Will it commit today, yes or no, to not move any changes to our election laws without multi-party—

  (1425)  

    The hon. Minister of Democratic Institutions.
    Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly proud of Bill C-76, and I am delighted that it is going to the procedure and House affairs committee so it can get the study and the interrogation it deserves.
    I am looking forward to members opposite asking questions of witnesses to ensure that we encourage Canadians to participate in our democracy, to encourage young Canadians to be registered for elections, to ensure that Canadians without identification can have vouching and can use their voter identification card, and to ensure that Canadians living abroad and every single Canadian have the right to vote.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is hard to trust the Liberals.
    We are all gathered here to represent our constituents and make their voices heard in Ottawa.
    Do the Liberals realize what they are doing by curtailing the debate on the electoral reform bill? Do they understand the irony of the situation? Refusing to debate in a democracy is the same as refusing to engage in the democratic process.
    By doing the same thing the Conservatives did in 2014, the Liberals are insulting all Canadians.
    Do they realize what they are doing? It is serious.
    Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with my NDP colleagues to move this bill forward and reverse the changes that were made by the former Conservative government. We can ensure that every Canadian who has the right to vote can do so. We want to ensure that young Canadians are automatically registered to vote when they turn 18. I really look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to improve Canada's democracy.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have brought forward major changes to our electoral laws, and these are changes that would tip the electoral scales in their favour. I do not know if there is any legislation that could be more significant. After only one hour of debate, they moved notice of time allocation.
    As the Liberal member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame stated, “If we are actually debating...any changes to the Elections Act...time allocation and closure need not apply.”
    If the Liberals actually respected Canadians, they would let this legislation receive proper debate. Why are the Liberals disrespecting Canadians and trying to ram this bill through?
    Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to respond to my colleague from the Conservatives, because we are making it easier for Canadians to vote. We are clamping down on those who maliciously thwart and interfere in our electoral process. Let us contrast that with the former Conservative government, which made it tougher for Canadians to vote, from robocalls to Dean Del Mastro, who participated in schemes to maliciously thwart the electoral process. That is also the party that had to pay $250,000 in fines for breaking electoral laws.
    We will take no lessons from the Conservatives when it comes to our democracy.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. member for Niagara Centre will come to order.
    The hon. member for Banff—Airdrie.
    Mr. Speaker, speaking of things that are broken, how about all the broken Liberal promises? Canadians clearly cannot trust the Prime Minister. If he will not keep the word of his own backbenchers, maybe he will listen to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government, who said:
     The government, by once again relying on a time allocation motion to get its agenda passed, speaks of incompetence. It speaks of a genuine lack of respect for parliamentary procedure and ultimately for Canadians. It continues to try to prevent members of Parliament from being engaged and representing their constituents on the floor of the House of Commons.
    I have a question for the Prime Minister: Why the hypocrisy?
    Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite wants to talk about things broken, let us talk about broken rules. With Bill C-76, our government makes it easier for Canadians to vote and toughens the sanctions for those who break the rules. The defeated Harper Conservatives, on the other hand, made it tougher for Canadians to vote and broke the rules.
    We will not be taking lessons from the Harper Conservatives, who paid a $250,000 fine for breaking the rules and used robocalls to send people to the wrong polls. The parliamentary secretary to the former prime minister went to jail.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives wanted to protect the integrity of our electoral system, they allowed for 84 hours of debate. I repeat, 84 hours of debate. When the Liberals introduced Bill  C-76 to rig the election in their favour, they invoked closure to put the bill to vote yesterday, after just two hours of debate.
    What are the Liberals afraid of? Are they afraid of losing the next election?
    Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague opposite remembers the previous government's Bill C-23. With Bill C-76, we are making it easier for Canadians to vote, and we are cracking down on offenders who maliciously interfere with our electoral process. Compare that to the Conservatives, who, when they were in government, made it harder for Canadians to vote and who took part in malicious schemes, like the one involving Dean Del Mastro and his robocalls, to undermine the electoral process. We do not need any lectures on democracy from the Conservatives.
    Mr. Speaker, the voter information card is not a piece of ID. Many of them end up in recycling bins. Elections Canada admitted that in 2015 nearly 400,000 of them contained errors. In Quebec, voters are already used to having to present a health card, driver's licence, Canadian passport, Indian status card, or a Canadian Forces ID card.
    Can the Liberals tell me what class of citizens is excluded from this list?
    Mr. Speaker, according to Statistics Canada, 150,000 Canadians were unable to vote during the last election as a result of the rules implemented by the previous Canadian government. The Conservatives are the only ones who are afraid of Canadian voters. We love that Canadians have the right to vote, and we will do everything we can to ensure that all eligible Canadians can vote.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister said that there was something about basic dictatorships he liked, he was not kidding. Once again, he is proving that statement to be at the core of everything he is and everything he represents.
     We now know that someone has ordered Elections Canada to implement this bill before Parliament has passed it. Our democratic system belongs to Canadians, Canadians who elect us to this place. They expect legislation to be debated before it is enacted. They expect due process.
    Will the Prime Minister instruct Elections Canada to halt the implementation of this bill until Parliament passes the amended version?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, unlike the opposite, we are not afraid of Elections Canada. In fact, that is why in this bill we have given the commissioner of Elections Canada the power to compel testimony, something that may have come in handy when dealing with robocalls. We have also given the commissioner of Elections Canada the power to lay charges.
     We also believe that working with Elections Canada is important, which is why we are implementing over 85% of the recommendations from the CEO of Elections Canada should this bill pass. I hope my colleagues on the other side would do this, because it is right for democracy.
    Mr. Speaker, it looks like Gerald Butts has found another ventriloquist act to perform with. Where are they now? Where are the great defenders of democracy from the Liberal side, and what do they say now? Nothing.
     We now know the Prime Minister ordered Elections Canada to implement this bill before it passed Parliament. If that is not rigging our elections system in their favour, I do not know what is.
    Again, will the Prime Minister instruct Elections Canada to halt the implementation of this bill until Parliament passes the amended version?
    Mr. Speaker, as a woman in politics, I take umbrage with the fact that he is saying I am not speaking on behalf of myself and on behalf of the government. That is unbelievable.
     Furthermore, it is not this side of the side that had robocalls. It is not this side of the House that had the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister go to jail. We on this side are doing what is necessary for democracy, which is why 85% of the recommendations from the CEO from 2015 are represented in this bill. Let us do what is right for democracy, all of us.

  (1435)  

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have offered to fully protect Kinder Morgan, while Canadians bear all the financial and environmental risks. Now we have learned that the infrastructure bank and the CPP Investment Board may offer up Canadian pension money to backstop this pipeline expansion.
     Canadian taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for oil and gas subsidies. This is corporate welfare that the Liberals promised to end. The gig is up.
    Will the Prime Minister just admit that he has completely abandoned his promise to end subsidies to big oil?
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reinforce our commitment to end subsidies to oil organizations of any sort by 2025. We are on track to do that.
     What I can tell members is that we are working hard. We are in discussions with Kinder Morgan, the proponent from the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline. We know this project is in the best interests of Canada, in the best interests of Canadians from a standpoint of jobs and our overall economy. We will work to do this in a way that is commercially appropriate and in a way that does not create any subsidies.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is a Liberal’s word: an election promise in 2015 and maybe we will get there in 10 years. More than two-thirds of Canadians want these oil and gas subsidies abolished. The Liberals solemnly promised to do just , as we have heard many times in this place. However, there is no plan to do that. They talk about something perhaps 10 years from now. If only they get re-elected a couple of times, maybe they will manage to get there. It is even worse, considering that they now want to compensate this same industry by giving money to Kinder Morgan.
     What is their plan to finally end subsidies?
    Mr. Speaker, the truth is that we have committed to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by the year 2025. In our first budget we announced the expiration of the accelerated capital cost allowance for certain LNG facilities.
     In the 2017 budget, we announced the elimination of certain tax credits for oil and gas exploration expenses. We are committed to figuring out a solution for the future, because it is very important, but at the same time, we want to find a solution for our economy.

Government Appointments

     Mr. Speaker, the International Organisation of La Francophonie is funded with Canadian taxpayers' money.
    Over the past year, the QMI Agency has reported some troubling facts about the management of this organization under the leadership of Michaëlle Jean. She has refused to publicly explain the frivolous expenses reported by the QMI Agency. She has not been transparent at all, and other scandals abound.
    How can this government still have the nerve to support the upcoming re-election of the president of the organization in October?
    Mr. Speaker, we are proud to support a Canadian woman at the head of the International Organisation of La Francophonie. Madame Jean does excellent work as far as the organisation's mission is concerned. She promotes values that are important to Canadians, such as defending human rights, defending women's rights, and supporting women entrepreneurs and young entrepreneurs.
    The International Organisation of La Francophonie needs to modernize its financial practices and we will help it to do just that.
     Mr. Speaker, it is not about pride or flag-waving, it is about pride when it comes to taxpayers’ dollars.
     The Liberal government has a nonchalant attitude about taxpayers' money. I am not at all surprised that it is inclined to support Michaëlle Jean, since she manages her finances the same way they do, that is to say abysmally.
     Can the Liberals at least show us anything at all to reassure us about Michaëlle Jean’s candidacy?
     Can they at least ask her today for a public explanation?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that we closely watch every dollar invested by our government, particularly in international aid. Much of the funding invested through the International Organisation of La Francophonie goes to help the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly in African countries and in Haiti, to encourage women and young entrepreneurs. We should be proud of this organization.
    Mr. Speaker, it seems that only the Liberals are proud of what Michaëlle Jean is doing.
    Michaëlle Jean has become an embarrassment to Canada. She has been irresponsible in her management of the organization, doing exactly what the Liberal government is doing now: spending recklessly. Her attitude is completely irresponsible. However, things have just gotten serious, as France has withdrawn its support for Michaëlle Jean.
     How is it that only the Liberal government is defending the indefensible?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, once again, I have had the chance to travel to many francophone countries, meet with my counterparts and attend ministerial meetings. I can assure the House that there is a great deal of support for the secretary general, a Canadian who is doing a good job managing the organization.
    We would agree that this organization’s management and financial rules could be improved, and that is what we are helping Madame Jean and the organization to do.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister says that she is proud of Michaëlle Jean, but journalist Alexandre Robillard just broke the story of a four-day stay at the Waldorf Astoria for $50,000. Are you proud of that?
    Half a million dollars to renovate her apartment, including a grand piano, for double the estimated costs—are you proud of that?
    Order. I must remind the hon. member to direct his comments to the Chair. When we say “you” here, we refer to the Speaker, and I do not believe that he meant to address the Speaker.
     The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you, because I know you are a man who takes pride in responsibility, not like that government over there.
     Madame Jean rented a limousine to go half a kilometre. Is the government proud of that? She spent $2 million on travel, 40% over budget. Is the government proud of that?
    Mr. Speaker, this organization operates under long-established rules. It is worth reviewing these rules based on what is acceptable today. I can assure the House that we are working closely with the administration and the secretary general to modernize these rules that, based on today’s standards, are no longer acceptable. The Secretary General followed the rules, based on the information I have, and I am proud to support her renewed candidacy.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canada and the United States are renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty, a 54-year-old agreement that has had tremendous impact on communities in the Columbia River basin, including three first nations. Last week, the government told those first nations they would be excluded from the talks, despite the massive effects that treaty has had on their territories.
     Why has the government excluded the first nations from the talks, and what happened to the government's commitment to a new nation-to-nation relationship?
    Mr. Speaker, our objective in these negotiations is to ensure that the Columbia River Treaty continues to be mutually beneficial for both Canada and the United States. We have been working very closely with the British Columbian authorities, the first nations up and down its length, and the stakeholders, to ensure that all interests are heard, represented, and addressed in these negotiations.
     We will also address environmental considerations and the interests of first nations, and aim to renew this agreement for the 21st century.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the rights of first nations are protected by our Constitution and by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. When the Columbia River Treaty was signed in 1964, these very nations were excluded from the negotiations. Now that the treaty is to be renegotiated, they are being told that they will again be ignored and excluded from the process. Why is that?
     Is it because the most important relationship that this government has is with indigenous peoples?
    Mr. Speaker, our objective is to ensure that the treaty continues to be mutually beneficial for both Canada and the United States. We have been working very closely with British Columbia, first nations and stakeholders to ensure that all interests are heard, represented, and addressed in these negotiations. We will also address environmental considerations and the interests of first nations.

[English]

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, the serious crisis in Myanmar is a tragedy that requires an urgent response. The humanitarian situation is precarious, with camps and settlements vulnerable to flooding and landslides during the monsoon season. Congested living conditions continue to increase the risk of disease outbreaks, and more Rohingya are crossing the border into Bangladesh every day.
     Could the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie update the House on Canada's latest initiatives to respond to this terrible situation?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from London North Centre for his support to vulnerable populations.

[Translation]

    Yesterday, I was pleased to join my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to unveil our plan to address the Rohingya crisis.

[English]

    Our strategy includes $300 million over three years to address humanitarian, development, peace, and stabilization needs in Myanmar and Bangladesh, as well as support to host communities in Bangladesh to mitigate the impact of the crisis, and to build self-reliance and resilience, with a central emphasis on the needs of women and girls.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, problems may not exist in the magical land of Care Bears and unicorns where the Prime Minister lives, but he created a great big one with his thoughtless “Welcome to Canada” tweet.
    As we speak, Plattsburgh is being flooded with free flyers explaining how to enter Canada illegally. The flyers even explain how to circumvent our border. What a mess.
    There is no need to send ministers all the way to Nigeria. All we have to do is cross the border at Lacolle and dot the i's and cross the t's. With the Liberals in charge, the border is starting to look like a sieve.
     When are they going to plug the gaps?
    Mr. Speaker, we are aware that a great deal of misinformation is circulating in migrant communities. That is why we continue to reach out to these communities to raise awareness.
    Reaching Canada is no guarantee of being granted refugee status. It is vital that we communicate all the important information. That is why our government has asked the organization Plattsburgh Cares to spread the word about the very firmly established criteria that need to be met in order to claim asylum.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are pouring more money down a bottomless pit because they are not turning off the tap: more refugee camps, more money for border services, but nothing to stop illegal border crossings.
     While taxpayers are kept waiting at the airport and immigrants face endless wait times, what is the Prime Minister doing to stop this flood of illegal immigrants at the border?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have contacted the organization to allow them to learn the comprehensive nature of our immigration and asylum systems. The consul general in New York will also provide them with more information on all the issues surrounding regular migration to Canada.
     We have an aggressive outreach campaign that has been ongoing since last year, which has been appreciated by organizations and diaspora communities in the United States. It is having an impact. We will continue that outreach campaign, and we are seeing a lot of results with respect to that campaign.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister just said that his plan to deal with his choice to functionally erase the Canadian border is to divert illegal border crossers from Toronto. Last week the plan was to divert them from Quebec to Toronto.
    Why is the minister playing a shell game with human beings instead of closing the loophole in the safe third country agreement and restoring compassion and order to Canada's immigration system?
    Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day, our record speaks for itself. If we look at the record of the Harper Conservatives, they kept families apart for years. They kept live-in caregivers away from reuniting with their families for five to seven years. They kept refugee numbers very low. They cut refugee health care, which our federal courts called cruel and unusual punishment.
    The irony is lost on the Conservative Party.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the City of Toronto announced that it would be opening two emergency services to deal with the arrival of illegal migrants in the city. Mayor John Tory has made it clear that he will have to take extreme measures if more is not done to stop the redirected Quebec migrants. We have a city in a state of crisis.
    When will the minister finally close the loophole in the safe third country agreement?
    Mr. Speaker, the Harper Conservatives kept families apart for years. They kept live-in caregivers apart from their families for years. They have recently discovered their compassion for refugees by lecturing us, even though they cut health care for refugees. They have recently discovered the importance of immigration processing, when they kept families apart for years. They have no idea that investment follows talent. Under their watch, talent used to take seven months to get to Canada. Under our watch, it takes two weeks to get to Canada. We are proud of our record.

  (1450)  

    I have heard quite a bit from the hon. member for Abbotsford today, but he has not had the floor. I would ask him to not interrupt when someone else is speaking.
    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister personally witnessed the Liberals on the committee once again refuse to vote on a motion to hear from experts and ill individuals to improve EI sickness benefits.
     In 2016, the Prime Minister and the minister said that they were going to fix it by year's end. Two years later, too many ill people still face financial problems.
     What is the problem?
     Will the minister keep his word, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I did indeed have the chance to attend the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. I thanked them for their important work, which among other things has resulted in very compassionate advice for bringing in the Canadian government’s first poverty reduction strategy.
    I also spoke about the substantial investments in parental benefits and the new family caregiver benefit, the loosening of the rules for sickness benefits, and improvements to the employment insurance system, which benefits tens of thousands of Canadians.
     It is on this basis that we will continue to work very hard to improve living conditions and support the EI system.

[English]

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, one year has now passed since Churchill lost its rail line and became a fly-in only community. The closure of the rail line and the port has hurt the entire north. The fact is, Churchill residents do not have time for a years-long legal battle with OmniTRAX to end. They need a deal to get the line back up and running now. In fact, they needed it a long time ago.
    After a year, the Liberal government has failed to broker a deal that will restore the line. Therefore, on behalf of northern Manitobans and all those concerned to see them succeed, I would like to ask when exactly they can expect a deal to get the line back on track.
    Mr. Speaker, our government continues to be committed to the people of Churchill and northern Manitoba. As members know, our chief negotiator has been working with potential buyers of the line and we are also working with indigenous communities and other stakeholders. We are optimistic that we will find an operator to take care of this very important line, and as soon as we are in a position to finalize that, we will let everyone know.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that until this week, a company called iChurchill Inc. was in the process of finalizing an agreement to buy, rebuild, and reopen the Hudson Bay Railway and the port of Churchill. This agreement included a majority ownership stake for Manitoba first nations. However, for some reason, the Liberals decided to intervene and block this agreement. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, I repeat that we are 100% committed to the people of northern Manitoba and Churchill, and we are going to make sure that this line is rebuilt. At the moment, our chief negotiator is working with all interested parties. We are optimistic that we will find a solution, and as soon as we have one we will let everyone know.
    Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals announced their intention to support new ownership, they laid out three criteria: first, a reasonable price for the sale; second, support from first nations; and third, a viable business plan. iChurchill Inc. believes it met all three of these criteria, but the Liberals rejected this deal with no explanation given. Instead, the Liberals are only willing to deal with one specific company, a Toronto-based financial firm. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not going to go into the details of negotiations, but I can assure members that our chief negotiator is working with all serious partners in this venture, and when we have a decision, we will let everyone know about it.

Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government took our advice and declined to allow the sale of Aecon to a Chinese state-owned enterprise. However, in spite of numerous other requests, the Liberals have arrogantly refused to do the same due diligence with Anbang and our senior care facilities. As we now know, Anbang has collapsed, the chairman was arrested, and our seniors' homes are owned by Communist China. Will the minister now commit to fixing the Anbang mess?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government is open to investment from other countries. We encourage this because it creates good, middle-class jobs. We do it, though, with careful consideration, depending on the kind of process and the kind of investment. As the decision yesterday proved, we will never compromise our national security. With respect to Cedar Tree and Retirement Concepts, there are guarantees that were put into place. Those guarantees are being followed and monitored, in particular by the provincial government in British Columbia, and we will continue to monitor that situation to make sure that engagements are kept.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, I was very proud in April 2017 when our government introduced Bill C-46, legislation with the ultimate goal of reducing the significant number of deaths and injuries caused by impaired driving, a crime that continues to claim innocent lives and wreak havoc and devastation on Canadian families. This legislation includes mandatory alcohol screening, which I understand would significantly deter those individuals who continue to put others at risk by driving while impaired by alcohol. Can the minister please provide the House with an update on the legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, one of the key elements of Bill C-46 is mandatory alcohol screening, which is in use in over 40 countries worldwide, including Australia and Ireland. Our government was very disappointed last night when the Conservatives voted to remove mandatory alcohol screening. We agree with MADD Canada that mandatory alcohol screening saves lives and that it is a fundamental piece in moving forward on and tackling impaired driving. We need this life-saving measure right now.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Chinese Communist regime is bullying and threatening airlines, including Air Canada, with the outrageous demand that they change their designation from “Taiwan” to “Taiwan, China”. The U.S. administration has rightly called these demands Orwellian. By contrast, the Liberals have been silent in the face of a foreign government dictating terms to a Canadian company. When will the Liberals stand up to Beijing's bullying?
    Mr. Speaker, Air Canada is a private company and responsible for its own website content and its own negotiations. Canada's long-standing position on this issue has not changed.

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, over two years ago at an event I hosted, the foreign affairs minister of the day, Stéphane Dion, announced that the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture would no longer be optional. It is two years later and nothing has happened.
     I would like to reiterate that torture is abhorrent, illegal, and flies in the face of all of the international norms and conventions we have committed to. When will the government finally stand unequivocally against torture and ratify and implement the OPCAT?
    Mr. Speaker, this government's primary consideration in all of its international engagements is the upholding of human rights. We agree with the member opposite that torture is abhorrent and should not be used.
    Ratifying and acceding to these optional protocols, as with many conventions internationally, requires significant conversations with both provincial authorities and other entities and stakeholders right across the country. That work continues to take place within Global Affairs Canada, across the Government of Canada, and with our partners right across this country.

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, many Canadians are currently affected by the flooding in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay, and in all of New Brunswick and British Columbia. I personally witnessed the impact of the floods on families, businesses, and first responders who are working 24-7 for their community. This year, some of these courageous people may find themselves unable to file or pay taxes on time. Those people should not be penalized.
     Can the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of National Revenue inform the House on the actions the CRA is taking to support affected Canadians?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the important work by members from New Brunswick and B.C. in response to this natural disaster.
     Our government recognizes the difficulties faced by Canadians affected by flooding in New Brunswick and B.C., and we are committed to helping to reduce that burden. We understand that natural disasters may cause hardship for taxpayers, whose primary concern during this time is their families, their homes, and communities. Those affected are encouraged to make a request to the CRA for taxpayer relief, either online or simply by calling the CRA.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister called for an independent investigation into events in Gaza, presumably because he lacks confidence in Israel's domestic mechanisms for self-assessment. However, when a Canadian citizen was killed in an Iranian prison, the government said it wanted the Iranian government to investigate itself.
    Which justice system does the government regard as more credible to undertake neutral self-assessment, Israel's or Iran's?
    Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives shamefully try to turn Canada's support for Israel into a partisan issue, I will repeat the long-standing position of consecutive governments of Canada, both Liberal and Conservative, that Canada is a steadfast friend of Israel and a friend of the Palestinian people.
    Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization since 2002. That is a position our government continues to hold. We strongly condemn its culture of violence, its threats towards Israel, and its acts of terrorism. Our call for an investigation into the situation in Gaza includes reports of incitement by Hamas.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, asylum seekers arriving in Plattsburgh are given instructions on how to cross the border illegally. One pamphlet tells them how to get to Roxham Road, how much a taxi costs, who to contact in Montreal and what to expect. The minister has known all of this for weeks. What did he just tell us he did? He made a phone call. I am impressed by such vigorous action that will make all the difference.
     Does he take us for fools?
    Mr. Speaker, we know there is a great deal of misinformation circulating in migrant communities. That is why quite a while ago we launched an awareness campaign in the United States.
     Making an asylum claim is not a free ticket to enter Canada. We are making sure that everyone clearly understands that they have to appear before an independent tribunal—the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. We have contacted Plattsburgh Cares to inform them about the realities of making an asylum claim.
    Mr. Speaker, Ottawa is preparing to take in more asylum seekers and the Americans are preparing to send them to us, but never through legal channels. The government still refuses to suspend the safe third country agreement between Canada and the United States.
     Instead of encouraging illegal entries, and instead of going off to Africa, can the minister show some backbone and go to the United States to fix the problem with the American authorities?
    Mr. Speaker, we are working on a number of fronts on the important asylum seekers file. We will continue to do so. In fact, next week there will be a meeting of our ad hoc committee, which includes not only federal, but provincial departments as well. We are also working with and are in talks with the United States. We need to work on a number of fronts on this important issue.

[English]

Foreign Investment

    Mr. Speaker, as the first member of Parliament to raise the issue of the Aecon sale in this place, I am enormously gratified that the Government of Canada has decided to stop the takeover of Aecon by the People's Republic of China, but I am very worried because there is the Canada-China investment treaty. The People's Republic of China can complain about anything, anytime, in secret.
     Could the government commit to full transparency if the People's Republic of China complains of the Canadian decision?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, we relied on our security agencies and the multi-step review process and we came to a decision, which we think is the right one.
    We will use all legitimate and legal means to contest any contestation of that decision to defend Canada's right under our act. That is a commitment I will make to the hon. member right now.

[Translation]

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, could the government House leader share with the House what the business will be for the remainder of this week and for next week?
    Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, we will begin debate on Bill C-75, the justice modernization act. This evening the House will consider, in committee of the whole, the votes in the main estimates for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration.
    Tomorrow morning, we will debate the motion to extend the sitting hours. After question period, we will begin debate at report stage and third reading of Bill C-47 on the Arms Trade Treaty. We will resume that debate on Monday.

[English]

    On Tuesday, we will resume debate at second reading of Bill C-75, the justice modernization act. On Wednesday, we will begin debate at report stage and third reading of Bill C-64, the abandoned vessels act.
    Finally, should Bill C-74, the budget bill, or Bill C-69, the environmental assessment act, be reported back to the House, they shall take priority in the calendar.
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. In a moment I will seek unanimous consent for a motion. I will briefly explain why.
    Earlier today, I tabled Bill S-245, which would provide certainty for the Trans Mountain expansion and clearly exert federal jurisdiction over all aspects of its construction and future operations, to stop roadblocks and delays. It would give certainty to the proponent directly and to all the first nations along the route that support it, certainty for energy workers and family, for Canada's economy overall, and for future jobs and opportunities across the country to sustain Canada's social programs and high standard of living.
    Since the government has failed to table its own plan in response to the request for certainty by the proponent and the deadline is just one week ago, it is crucial that Bill S-245 proceed as soon as possible.
    As you know, Mr. Speaker, the Standing Orders require the bill be deemed votable before it can be debated. If this bill is subjected to the usual votability determination process, it will likely be delayed several weeks, which is a delay that is unacceptable to energy workers and harms Canada's investment, regulatory, and political reputation.
    To restore confidence and to ensure expeditious debate, study, and vote on Bill S-245, I seek unanimous consent for the following: That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill S-245, an act to declare the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and related works to be for the general advantage of Canada, be deemed votable.
     Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
    Some hon. members: No.
    I have a notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove.

Privilege

Proceedings in HUMA Committee  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege regarding a matter that you will appreciate falls within certain enumerated rights and immunities for the House to treat as a breach of privilege.
    Page 145 of Bosc and Gagnon states, “The matter of privilege to be raised in the House must have recently occurred and must call for the immediate action of the House.” My question of privilege today is in response to what sadly took place at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, known as HUMA. It happened yesterday afternoon between votes. I am bringing this issue before the Speaker at the earliest possible time.
    Page 323 of Bosc and Gagnon states:
    When in the Chair, the Speaker embodies the power and authority of the office, strengthened by rule and precedent. He or she must at all times show, and be seen to show, the impartiality required to sustain the trust and goodwill of the House.
     At the HUMA committee yesterday, three ministers appeared to answer questions about the main estimates. The main estimates, for Canadians' sake, are how the government plans on spending Canadian taxpayer money. The Liberal members control HUMA, which, in a majority government, is quite normal, and they obviously support the government's main estimates.
    The purpose of having the ministers at committee yesterday was to give opposition members the opportunity to question the ministers. The government has said numerous times that the ministers will appear before committees and answer questions to be accountable. Sadly, that is not what is happening.
    The HUMA committee started with copies of the ministers' speeches being distributed to all members. I immediately made a request to move to questions to the ministers because of the pending votes. This request was rejected by the chair and the chair assured all members that there would be time for questions after the ministers' speeches.
    The chair then asked the first minister to speak, and he spoke for 11 and a half minutes. I then made a point of order reminding the chair of the time restraints because of the votes and that the minister had been permitted more time than what was permitted. I shared my concern that opposition members were being denied their right to ask the ministers questions. The chair again promised all members that there would be time for questions of the ministers after the speeches. The vote bells were ringing and the meeting was suspended, which means temporarily adjourned.
    The HUMA committee reconvened at 5:20 p.m. yesterday. The chair asked the other two ministers to speak for five minutes each. The chair then abruptly adjourned the meeting at 5:35 p.m. Opposition members, who were waiting to ask questions, objected strongly, reminding the chair of his promise to let opposition members ask questions of the ministers. The chair acknowledged that he had the discretion to continue the meeting until 5:45 p.m. when the bells would begin to ring, but he turned and walked away with the ministers.
    Page 1039 of Bosc and Gagnon states:
    The Chair is a key figure on any committee. Chairs are so important that, when a committee does not have one, it is not considered properly constituted. Committee Chairs have procedural, administrative and representative responsibilities.
     They are to be impartial. It further states:
    Chairs preside over committee meetings and oversee committee work. They recognize the Members, witnesses and other people who wish to speak at these meetings as in the House, all remarks are to be addressed to the Chair. They ensure that any rules established by the committee, including those on the apportioning of speaking time, are respected.
    The chair has the responsibility to remain unbiased, to ensure that the rights of all members in the committee are honoured and protected, and to fairly apportion the speaking times to the committee members. To deny opposition members their right to question the ministers was wrong and, I believe, contempt in this case. It has impeded my duties and responsibilities as a member of Parliament, my duties to Canadian taxpayers to represent them and question ministers. I believe the House can consider these acts of the chair, who I personally respect, as falling under the scope of contempt.

  (1510)  

    If you find this to be a prima facie question of privilege, I am prepared to move an appropriate motion and send this matter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the question of privilege raised by the member for Langley—Aldergrove. I will add that on page 116 of Bosc and Gagnon, it says:
    Misleading a Minister or a Member has also been considered a form of obstruction and, thus, a prima facie breach of privilege.
     Yesterday the HUMA committee chair told the committee members that when we returned from votes, he would ask to extend the meeting so that we would have the same time to ask questions to the ministers appearing before the committee. You will find that the chair's assurance is on the record.
    The committee resumed after the votes and proceeded to statements by the remaining ministers. Once these opening statements concluded, the chair did not ask to extend the meeting. Instead, the chair immediately proceeded to adjourn the meeting.
     The chair's assurance to committee members was misleading, and ultimately, the result was that all committee members were denied the opportunity to ask even a single question to the ministers appearing before the committee.
    Opposition members have a duty to hold the government accountable, and my ability to perform that parliamentary duty was obstructed.

  (1515)  

    I thank the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove for raising his question and the hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster for adding her views on this.
    It is normally the case that a committee is master of its own domain, its own house, and that the Speaker does not have jurisdiction over what happens there. Nevertheless, I will examine the arguments and come back to the House.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Criminal Code

    She said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to speak to Bill C-75, an act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to other acts. The legislation represents a key milestone in our government's commitment to modernize the criminal justice system, reduce delays, and ensure the safety of Canadians.
    For more than a decade, the criminal justice system has been under significant strain. Although the crime rate in Canada has been declining, court cases are more complex, trials are getting longer, and the impacts on victims are compounded. In addition, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians, including those suffering from mental illness and addictions, continue to be overrepresented in the criminal justice system. For these reasons, I was mandated by the Prime Minister to reform the criminal justice system, and it is why I was proud to introduce this legislation as part of our government's response to those fundamental challenges.
    Bill C-75 also responds to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in 2016 in R. v. Jordan. The decision established strict timelines beyond which delays would be presumptively unreasonable and cases would be stayed. In such cases, the accused will not stand trial. This is unacceptable, and it jeopardizes public confidence in the justice system.
    The bill also addresses issues raised in the June 2017 report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which called on the government to address court delays, and it reflects our government's commitment to bring about urgent and bold reforms, many of which were identified as priorities by all provincial and territorial justice ministers in April and September of last year.
    The bill proposes reforms in seven key areas. First, the bill would modernize and streamline the bail system. Second, it would enhance our approach to addressing administration of justice offences, including for youth. Third, it would bolster our response to intimate partner violence. Fourth, the bill would restrict the availability of preliminary inquiries to offences with penalties of life imprisonment. Fifth, it would reclassify offences to allow the crown to elect the most efficient procedure appropriate in the circumstances. Sixth, it would improve the jury selection process. Seventh, it would strengthen the case management powers of judges. The bill includes a number of additional reforms related to efficiencies, which I will touch on briefly later.
    As noted, the first area of reform would modernize and streamline the bail regime. Under the charter, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If charged with an offence, that person has the right not to be denied bail without just cause. The Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly stated that bail, including the types of release and conditions imposed, must be reasonable, yet we know that police and courts routinely impose conditions that are too numerous, too restrictive, and at times directed toward improper objectives, such as behaviour and punishment. These objectives do not protect public safety.
    We also know that there are more individuals in remand than those convicted of a crime. In other words, our correctional facilities are more than half-filled with people who have not been convicted of an offence.
    In addition, the current approach to bail uses a disproportionate amount of resources, taking away from more serious cases. It perpetuates a cycle of incarceration.
    Consistent with the 2017 Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Antic, the proposed bail reforms would codify a principle of restraint. This would direct police and judges to consider the least restrictive and most appropriate means of responding to criminal charges at the bail stage rather than automatically detaining an accused. The individual circumstances of an indigenous accused and a vulnerable accused, such as a homeless person or one with mental illness and addiction issues, would become required considerations when making bail decisions. This means that an accused's circumstances would have to be considered prior to placing conditions upon them that were difficult or impossible to follow.
    The principle of restraint would make bail courts more efficient by encouraging release at the earliest possible opportunity, without the need for a bail hearing in every case, and would take significant steps to reduce costs associated with the growing remand population currently detained in custody awaiting trial.

  (1520)  

    The bill would also strengthen the way our bail system responds to intimate partner violence by providing better protection for victims. If an accused has a history of violence against an intimate partner and is charged with similar conduct, the amendments would impose a reverse onus at the bail hearing, shifting the responsibility to the accused to show why the accused should not be detained pending trial.
    I will now turn to the second area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is to enhance the way our justice system responds to administration of justice offences. These are offences that are committed by a person against the justice system itself after another offence has already been committed or alleged. Common examples are failure to comply with bail conditions, such as to abstain from consuming alcohol; failure to appear in court; or breaching a curfew.
    Across Canada, accused people are routinely burdened with complex and unnecessary bail conditions that are unrelated to public safety and that may even be impossible to follow, such as when a curfew is broken by an accused because he or she missed the bus in a remote area. In other words, accused people are being placed in circumstances in which a breach is virtually inevitable. We are setting them up to fail.
    Indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are disproportionately impacted by breach charges, often because of their personal circumstances, such as a lack of family and community supports. As a result, indigenous people and marginalized Canadians are more likely to be charged, more likely to be denied bail, and if released, more likely to be subject to stricter conditions.
    In addition, administration of justice offences impose an enormous burden on the criminal justice system, as nearly 40% of all adult cases involve at least one of these administrative charges. To respond to these challenges, Bill C-75 proposes a new approach. Police would retain the option to lay a new charge for the breach or failure to appear where appropriate. However, if the offence did not involve physical or emotional harm to a victim, property damage, or economic loss, the police would have an additional option of referring the accused to a judicial referral hearing. This would be an entirely new tool that would serve as an alternative to an unnecessary criminal charge and that would substantially increase court efficiencies without impacting public safety.
     In the youth context, these proposals would encourage police to first consider the use of informal measures, as already directed by the Youth Criminal Justice Act, such as warnings, cautions, and referrals, and would require that conditions imposed on young persons be reasonable and necessary. This aligns with the overall philosophy of the act, which is to prevent our youth from entering a life of crime, in part by providing alternatives to formal criminal charges and custody.
    At the judicial referral hearing, a court would hear the bail conditions and have three options: release the accused on the same conditions, impose new conditions to better address the specific circumstances of the accused, or detain the accused. This approach would allow for alternative and early resolution of minor breaches and would ensure that only reasonable and necessary conditions were imposed. This is a more efficient alternative to laying a new criminal charge and would help prevent indigenous persons and marginalized Canadians from entering the revolving door of the criminal justice system.
    The third area of reform in Bill C-75 is with respect to intimate partner violence. In 2015, Canadians elected our government on a promise to give more support to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment and to ensure that more perpetrators were brought to justice. I am proud to follow through on this commitment within this bill.
    As I already noted, those accused of repeat offences involving violence against an intimate partner would be subject to a reverse onus at the bail stage. In addition, the bill does the following: (1) proposes a higher sentencing range for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence; (2) broadens the definition of “intimate partner” to include dating partners and former partners; (3) provides that strangulation is an elevated form of assault; and (4) explicitly specifies that evidence of intimate partner abuse is an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

  (1525)  

    Intimate partner violence is a reality for at least one in two women in Canada. Women who are indigenous, trans, elderly, new to Canada, or living with a disability are at increased risk for experiencing violence due to systemic barriers and failures. The personal and often lifelong consequences of violence against women are enormous.
    The fourth area of reforms is to increase court efficiencies by limiting the availability of preliminary inquiries. Preliminary inquiries are an optional process used to determine whether there is enough evidence to send an accused to trial. Bill C-75 would limit their availability to accused adults charged with very serious offences punishable by life imprisonment, such as murder and kidnapping.
    I recognize this represents a significant change. It is not a change we propose lightly. It is the product of an in-depth consultation process with my counterparts in the provinces and territories and with the courts, and it is based on the best available evidence. For instance, we know in 2015-2016, provincial court cases involving preliminary inquiries took more than four times longer to reach a decision than cases with no preliminary inquiry.
    It is important to note that there is no constitutional right to a preliminary inquiry, and one is not necessary for a fair trial so long as the crown satisfies its disclosure requirements. In the Jordan decision, the Supreme Court of Canada asked Parliament to take a fresh look at current processes and reconsider the value of preliminary inquiries in light of the broad disclosure rules that exist today. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs also recommended that they be restricted or eliminated.
    The proposed measures would reduce the number preliminary of inquiries by approximately 87%, ensure they are still available for the more complex and serious offences, help unclog the courts, and reduce burdens on witnesses and victims from having to testify twice, once at a preliminary inquiry and once at trial. For example, this measure would eliminate the need for a vulnerable witness in a sexual assault or child sexual assault trial from having to testify twice.
    I am confident these reforms would not reduce trial fairness, that prosecutors would continue to take their disclosure obligations seriously, that our courts would continue to uphold the right to make full answer and defence, and that there would remain flexibility in existing processes, such as out-of-court discoveries, that have been implemented in some provinces already—for example, in Quebec and Ontario.
    I will now turn to the fifth major area of reform proposed in Bill C-75, which is the reclassification of offences. The Criminal Code classifies offences as summary conviction, indictable, or hybrid. Hybrid offences may proceed as either a summary conviction or as an indictable offence. That choice is made by the prosecutor after considering the facts and circumstances of the case. The bill would hybridize 136 indictable offences and standardize the default maximum penalty for summary conviction offences in the Criminal Code to two years less a day.
    These proposals would neither interfere with the court's ability to impose proportionate sentences nor change the existing maximum penalties for indictable offences. What Bill C-75 proposes is to provide more flexibility to prosecutors to proceed summarily in provincial court for less serious cases. This would allow for matters to proceed more quickly and for superior courts to focus on the most serious matters, resulting in an overall boost in efficiency in the system.
    Let me clear: this reform is in no way intended to send a message that offences being hybridized are less serious or should be subjected to lower sentences. Rather, it is about granting greater discretion to our prosecutors to choose the most efficient and appropriate procedure, having regard to the unique circumstances before them. Serious offences would continue to be treated seriously and milder offences would take up less court time, while still carrying the gravity of a criminal charge.

  (1530)  

    A sixth area of proposed reforms in Bill C-75 is with respect to jury selection.
    Discrimination in the selection of juries has been well documented for many years. Concerns about discrimination in peremptory challenges and its impact on indigenous peoples being represented on juries was raised back in 1991 by Senator Murray Sinclair, then a judge, in the Manitoba aboriginal justice inquiry report. That report, now over 25 years old, explicitly called for the repeal of peremptory challenges. More recently, retired Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci addressed these issues in his 2013 report on first nations representation on Ontario juries.
    Reforms in this area are long overdue. Peremptory challenges give the accused and the crown the ability to exclude jurors without providing a reason. In practice, this can and has led to their use in a discriminatory manner to ensure a jury of a particular composition. This bill proposes that Canada join countries like England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland in abolishing them.
     To bring more fairness and transparency to the process, the legislation would also empower a judge to decide whether to exclude jurors challenged for cause by either the defence or prosecution. The legislation will strengthen the power of judges to stand aside some jurors in order to make room for a more diverse jury that will in turn promote confidence in the administration of justice. Courts are already familiar with the concept of exercising their powers for this purpose.
    I am confident that the reforms will make the jury selection process more transparent, promote fairness and impartiality, improve the overall efficiency of our jury trials, and foster public confidence in the criminal justice system.
    The seventh area of reforms will strengthen judicial case management. As the Supreme Court of Canada noted in its 2017 decision in Cody, judges are uniquely positioned to encourage and foster culture change. I completely agree. Judges are already engaged in managing cases and ensuring that they proceed promptly and fairly through the existing authorities in the Criminal Code, as well as provincial court rules. These reforms would bolster these powers—for instance, by allowing case management judges to be appointed at the earliest point in the proceeding.
    In addition to the major reforms I have noted thus far, Bill C-75 will make technical amendments to further support efficiencies, such as by facilitating remote technology and consolidating and clarifying the Attorney General of Canada's power to prosecute.
    Finally, the bill will make better use of limited parliamentary time by including three justice bills currently before Parliament: Bill C-28, Bill C-38, and Bill C-39.
     In closing, Bill C-75 proposes meaningful reforms that will speed up criminal court proceedings and improve the safety of our communities while also taking steps to address the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and marginalized Canadians in the criminal justice system.
    Our criminal justice system must be fair, equitable, and just. Victims, families, accused, and all participants in the justice system deserve no less. I urge all members of this House to support this important piece of legislation.

  (1535)  

    Madam Speaker, Bill C-75 is an absolute train wreck of a bill. Instead of reducing delays in our court system, it is actually going to increase delays.
    I want to ask the minister specifically about the hybridization of offences. The purported objective of this bill is to reduce delays in response to the Jordan decision. By hybridizing offences, the government is taking a whole series of indictable offences that must be prosecuted in a superior court and making them prosecutable in a provincial court. Under Jordan, a delay is deemed to be presumptively unreasonable when 30 months pass between the laying of charges and the conclusion of the trial in a superior court, whereas it is only 18 months for matters in a provincial court, so how does downloading cases onto provincial courts actually deal with the Jordan decision?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague across the way about the reclassification of offences. I will start answering the question by speaking to the collaborative work that we engaged in with the provinces and territories in identifying appropriate and bold reforms that would ensure we are collectively addressing delays in the criminal justice system.
    The reclassification of offences was strongly supported between and among my colleagues. As I noted in my speech, these amendments would give prosecutors the discretion they need to elect the most efficient mode of prosecution. Evaluat