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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 321

CONTENTS

Wednesday, September 19, 2018




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 321
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayer


[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

    We will now have the singing of O Canada, led by the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay.
    [Members sang the national anthem]

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Whalley Little League

    Mr. Speaker, this summer, residents of Surrey Centre sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game as we celebrated the accomplishments of Whalley Little League.
    Thanks to the thrilling victory in the Canadian Little League Championship, the all-star team from Whalley earned the right to represent Canada at the Little League Baseball World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
    There, they made Surrey proud, playing hard and showing immense strength and enthusiasm on the field, despite the fact that the team faced adversity prior to the tournament. For a time, it was unclear whether one of their teammates, Dio Gama, could join them. However, with the help of the Minister of Immigration and Minister of Public Safety, he was able to go.
    It was my honour to host them in my constituency office this summer. This wonderful celebration included a surprise message from our Prime Minister, which delighted the players and helped turn it into an unforgettable day for the team. A special thanks goes out to the team's parents and coaching staff, led by Mike Marino, for following and supporting their team on the road for 46 days.

Education

    Mr. Speaker, for six years PIE restaurant has supported children in government-subsidized or low-income households by providing them with the materials needed for educational success.
     Since creating PIE Education, we have supplied over 10,000 backpacks to children in need in the Barrie area. Some of our community partner organizations include the Barrie Municipal Non-Profit Housing Corporation, Simcoe County Housing Corporation, Canadian Mental Health Association, Barrie Native Friendship Centre, Women & Children's Shelter of Barrie and local church groups.
     Having grown up in government housing, I understand how not having school supplies can create anxiety in students. It leads to decreased confidence and performance. Parents should never have to choose between buying their kids new shoes or school supplies.
    On behalf of PIE Education, I would like to thank all of our donors, sponsors, volunteers and community partners. It is because of your generous support that over 2,200 children are prepared for success this school year.

Delta Family Resource Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to recognize the executive director of the Delta Family Resource Centre, Kemi Jacobs.
     Ms. Jacobs has over 20 years of community involvement and has been a leader in the non-government and public sectors in many roles. Some of those roles include the president of the Canadian Council for Refugees, executive director of CultureLink settlement services, chairperson of the National Anti-Racism Council of Canada, director of house at Toronto Community Housing, and the list goes on.
    She is truly a remarkable individual. That is why it comes as no surprise that Ms. Jacobs will be included in Jean Augustine's book entitled 100 Accomplished Black Canadian Women.
     This is quite an honour for Kemi to be recognized. I would like to share in that recognition by congratulating her today on her continuous hard work and volunteerism, inside and outside of my riding Humber River—Black Creek.

Suicide Prevention

    Mr. Speaker, her name was Azraya Kokopenace.
    She was only 14 years old, and she was loved. This nation failed her, because when she needed help, nothing was available. She died alone.
    Azraya is just one of the 5,800 youth we have lost in this nation to suicide.
    What country watches the death of its children and does nothing? Canada is one of the only developed countries without a national suicide prevention plan.
     This is why I am asking my colleagues from all parties to work together to establish Motion 174 for a national suicide prevention action plan. It is not just about youth. We are seeing the crisis of suicide and depression cut across all age groups and spectrums. There is so much that can be done.
     I want to special shout-out to the amazing grassroots organizations and activists on the front lines. They are looking to this Parliament to be a positive partner, and to pass Motion 174 and establish a national suicide prevention action plan.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

Petanque World Championship

    Mr. Speaker, from September 13 to 16, Desbiens, a community in my riding, welcomed the world to the 48th edition of the petanque world championship.
    Lac-Saint-Jean played host to participants from over 35 countries for this major competition. The players were also lucky enough to sample the world's largest tourtière, which will now be listed in the Guinness World Records.
    I would like to personally thank the mayor, Nicolas Martel, for his bold vision and for organizing these extreme events, which attracted a lot of attention to our beautiful Lac-Saint-Jean region.

[English]

St. Marys Cement

    Mr. Speaker, in 1912, in the small community of St. Marys, St. Marys Cement was born, and 38 years later it made its best decision by opening a plant in Bowmanville, Ontario.
     For 50 years, St. Marys in Bowmanville has literally built the greater Toronto area. The iconic CN Tower, Roy Thomson Hall, the Darlington generating station next door were all built with St. Marys cement. It remains one of Durham's largest employers. There are 130 families who are part of the St. Marys story, a story that includes being one of the greenest plants of its kind in North America.
    Its motto is “Life is made to last”. In the last 50 years, St. Marys has contributed greatly to our community life, from schools to hospitals to the Highway of Heroes LAV Monument, to Valleys 2000, to Durham College.
     I want to thank St. Marys for being a great corporate citizen, wish it well on its celebration and wish it a great next 50 years.

100th Anniversary of The War Amps

    Mr. Speaker, this summer I had the chance to meet many incredible people throughout my riding. Today, I would like to recognize a young man I met for the first time.
    Jay Felix is a 16-year-old constituent of mine from Paradise. I met Jay thanks to the War Amps and its 100th anniversary commemorative envelope campaign. Jay was born with a partial hand, and has been a member of the War Amps child amputee program since he was two years old. He remains active with the organization today, and was asked to present me with its 100th anniversary commemorative envelope and pin.
    This highlights the great impact that War Amps has had on this country over its 100 years, and shines a spotlight on the moments and milestones in history that unite us as a nation.
    It was such a pleasure to hear Jay's story and to see what a great ambassador he is for War Amps Canada. Congratulations War Amps, and I thank Jay and his mom Cindy for being such great members of our community.

Supervised Injection Sites

    Mr. Speaker, we understand harm reduction. That is why, to address the opioid crisis, our government has approved 26 supervised injection sites with the co-operation of provinces across Canada.
    This summer, the new government in Ontario withdrew the approval of an overdose prevention site in my riding of Parkdale—High Park, ostensibly because it wants to review the evidence behind harm reduction. However, the evidence is already in.
    As the Supreme Court stated in 2011, supervised injection sites save lives. Hospitals and health care workers get it. That is why they have opened a pop-up site in Parkdale in defiance of the Province's position. The compassionate and progressive constituents of my riding get it. They are actively supporting this pop-up site, and so are the police and the City of Toronto. The only missing link is the Province of Ontario.
    When lives are at stake, this cannot be a partisan issue. It is incumbent upon all elected representatives, at every level of government, to address the opioid crisis and to stop preventable deaths.

Citizen of Edmonton

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to honour and wish a happy 100th birthday to a remarkable Edmontonian, Frederick Major Russell.
     In December of 1939, Mr Russell shipped out to the U.K., serving with the Royal Canadian Signal Corps, 6th Brigade, 2nd Division. He landed with Canadian troops at Dieppe and managed to survive the day.
    It is rumoured that he was part of the secret mission to steal the German Enigma code machine on that fateful day. Freddie denies it, claiming he never made it to the beach. However, conspiracists will note that he was declared missing in action in the confusion, and his dog tags were somehow found far ashore that day.
     Freddie returned two years later to the beaches at Normandy, and fought through France to eventually march into Dieppe when Canadians liberated it. He fought through Belgium, Holland and Germany. He was awarded the French Legion of Honour, France's highest honour, for his role in the liberation of France.
     He returned to Canada where he married his beloved Eileen, making Edmonton their home for the next 60 years of their marriage.
    Freddie, happy 100th birthday. I thank him for his service to Canada.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Organ Donation

    Mr. Speaker, in a Canadian medical first, a face transplant has been successfully carried out at Montreal's Maisonneuve-Rosemont hospital. A team of medical professionals achieved the incredible feat last May, giving Maurice Desjardins a new face after he was seriously disfigured in a hunting accident. Mr. Desjardins has been given a second lease on life thanks to organ donation.
    I want to congratulate Transplant Québec on its leadership and Dr. Daniel Borsuk and his team on their tenacity and expertise, as well as the donor and his family on this incredibly selfless gesture.
    This success story is a reminder that we need to keep supporting our researchers, scientists and doctors as well as our organ donation system in order to keep pushing the boundaries of medicine. To do just that, I will be moving Motion No. 189 so that we can make our organ donation program even better.
    My question to my colleagues and to all Canadians is this: has everyone signed their donor consent form?

Festival Laval Laughs

    Mr. Speaker, what better way to bring a community together than with laughter? I am proud to be participating in the first ever Festival Laval Laughs, which is on from September 20 to 30.

[English]

    This festival is born from the desire to build a stronger community through humour because it all starts with a laugh. By sharing our joy, we strengthen our bonds as neighbours, as friends and as a community.
    Thus, I would like to congratulate Luigi Morabito and Franco Taddeo for their initiative which embellishes and strengthens our community.

[Translation]

    The Festival Laval Laughs is all about diversity and inclusion. It celebrates the multiculturalism that defines our community and our country. The Festival Laval Laughs embodies the joie de vivre of the people of Laval.

[English]

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, as deputy shadow minister for veterans affairs, September 19 is very significant to me.
    In 2016, Claude Lalancette, who served in Somalia in 1993, came to the Hill on a hunger strike looking for answers. After a photo op with the ministers of veterans affairs, health and national defence, with a promise made and then broken, followed by another hunger strike, two days of testimony were his to orchestrate at the veterans affairs committee study on mental health. The testimony sounded the alarm on mefloquine poisoning of our troops up to and including the Afghan war. As a result, Health Canada changed the drug label and mefloquine became a drug of last resort for our troops.
    In 2017, the first mefloquine rally took place after the Prime Minister ignored mefloquine advocate veteran Dave Bona in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Today, the second mefloquine rally is celebrating Quinism Foundation's expanding research to scientifically prove mefloquine poisoning impacts on our Canadian service men and women.
    Members should come and meet our veterans.

[Translation]

Rougemont

    Mr. Speaker, fall is when the riding of Shefford comes into its own. It is a time of plenty, with ripe apples practically falling off the trees. During apple-picking season, over half a million visitors come to Shefford to take part in apple harvest activities or just to enjoy the delights of fall in the orchard.
    In the heart of Montérégie lies the majestic town of Rougemont. With its 500,000 apple trees, Rougemont is proud to be known as the “apple capital” of Canada. As a pioneer in apple cider production, the Rougemont region is also an agri-tourism destination renowned for its rich soil and knowledgeable farmers.
    We invite you to participate in the 16th edition of Les Week-ends Gourmands de Rougemont, an epicurean festival that runs every weekend until October 14. Every MP has been given the perfect calling card, a Rougemont apple from Canada's apple capital.

[English]

Take Back the Night

    Mr. Speaker, for too many women across Canada, gender-based violence is a part of their reality. To this day, the stigma and the threat of retaliation have prevented women from speaking out against their abusers. Too many cases have been shrouded in darkness. Women come together to provide support for one another and raise their united voices against harassment and gender-based violence.
    In Windsor-Essex, our “Take Back The Night” event is happening this Friday. Take Back The Night is a grassroots organization focused on uniting women to stand together, refusing to be silent about gender-based violence. Events will be hosted in communities across Canada and in over 30 countries globally. Women across the country will come together to support each other's struggles, be inspired by the strength of survivors and to remember the women we have lost to violence.
    I invite women from across Canada and my colleagues in this House to join in their local events. This Friday, I look forward to seeing women raise a candle high and adding their voice as we take back the streets and take back the night for all women.

  (1415)  

The Prime Minister

    Mr. Speaker, here is the report card on the Prime Minister's summer activities: reversing the carbon tax, failed; dealing with illegal border crossers, failed; recalling the House to get TPP ratified, failed again; surfing in Tofino, B plus; mansplaining his way through a groping allegation, I would say A plus on that one; negotiating a trade deal with the U.S., under way with challenges, which is Liberal code for “did not get it done”.
    Now, let us see if the Prime Minister did any better by the numbers: high-priced lobbyists attending Liberal fundraisers, 200 of them; taxpayer dollars spent on the Trans Mountain pipeline, $4.5 billion; shovels in the ground to build the pipeline, zero.
    Seriously, this summer of failure has made one thing very clear: Canadians cannot afford another four years of this Prime Minister.

[Translation]

Science

    Mr. Speaker, young Canadians across the county are pushing the boundaries of innovation. Through their intelligence, enthusiasm and ingenuity, they are promoting Canada's know-how both at home and abroad.

[English]

    Today we celebrate those brilliant minds and their contributions to our society.
    On behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Science and Sport, I would like to invite all my colleagues to attend the Prime Minister's science fair tonight in Centre Block from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

[Translation]

    This event showcases the remarkable work of innovative young researchers from across the country. This evening, let us celebrate together these wonderful young people who represent the future of our country.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister spent $4.5 billion in taxpayers' money on the Trans Mountain pipeline, he said that he did it in order to guarantee that construction would start this summer. He failed. The project has been officially on hold for nearly three weeks, and Canadians have no idea what the Liberals intend to do about it.
    Can the Prime Minister tell the thousands of Canadians who are depending on pipeline construction jobs when they will be able to return to work?
    Mr. Speaker, from the start, I have been telling Canadians that I believe that the environment and the economy must go hand in hand. That is why, when we took office, we invested in environmental protection. We worked in partnership with indigenous peoples to create economic growth in this country the right way. That is exactly what we will continue to do. The Conservatives want us to minimize environmental protection and ignore first nations. That is not what we are going to do. We are going to do things right.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, more and more Canadians are referring to this past summer as the Prime Minister's summer of failure, and the judge that ruled on the Trans Mountain case agrees. That judge said that Canada failed in phase III to “engage” and “dialogue meaningfully”. How can the Prime Minister mismanage this pipeline project so terribly?
    Mr. Speaker, in 2012, the Conservative government limited the scope of the National Energy Board in terms of its analyzing the impacts on marine ecosystems. That is why we have moved forward in any case with the oceans protection plan, to look carefully at how we can protect the southern resident killer whale pod and how we can make sure that we are protecting our oceans from spills and accidents. That is something that is important to British Columbians and it is important to all Canadians.
    That is why we are moving forward in a responsible way that protects the environment and works with indigenous peoples as we look to get the right projects built for Canada.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister keeps saying things that he knows are not true.
    The previous Conservative government got four major pipeline projects built. We succeeded where he is failing. One of those, the Kinder Morgan Anchor Loop, opened up Asian markets by getting Canada's resources to tidewater. However, it was his execution of the process that failed. Again, is this just part of a plan to phase out Canada's energy sector?
    Mr. Speaker, what the Conservatives have not understood, even with the drubbing they got in the 2015 election, is that the only way to build a strong economy is to protect the environment at the same time and work with indigenous peoples in a respectful way. That is what they failed to do.
    That is why we are moving forward in the way that Canadians expect, doing stronger science, working in partnership with indigenous peoples and showing the highest growth in the G7 last year, after they had the lowest growth rates since R. B. Bennett.
    Mr. Speaker, the record on this is clear. The Conservative Party got the job done. We succeeded where he is failing. We, through a rigorous approvals process, got four major pipeline projects approved and completed.
    It was the Prime Minister whose tough negotiating skills sent $4.5 billion to Houston investors, overpaying by almost $2 billion. That is the kind of negotiating savvy that the Prime Minister has. Just how fast did those Houston investors sign on to that deal?
    Mr. Speaker, I am simply understanding that at this point members of the Conservative Party of Canada do not want the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion because that is what they would get.
    The fact is when we took ownership of that pipeline expansion project, we prevented it from being dead in the water. We know that moving forward in the right way on projects like this is what Canadians expect. The Conservatives' failure to get our resources to new markets other than the United States is exactly why Canadians grew tired of that government, among many other things.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals bought it without building it. We will build it without having to buy it. That is the difference between us.
    If the Liberals really wanted to develop Canada's energy sector and get our resources to market, they would invite energy east back to the table. They would scrap the carbon tax. They would scrap their plans for Bill C-69, the ban on pipelines bill.
    Will the Prime Minister do any of those things to get our men and women in the country back to work?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives seem full of vim and vigour in what they want to talk about, but they do not actually have any plans. The closest we have seen is, “Well, you should bring in legislation to get that pipeline built”.
    The fact that we would expect the private sector and investors to move forward on projects in Canada, knowing that any time they want to get something built we have to put legislation on it through the House of Commons is not the kind of predictable, clear path that our investors around the world or in Canada want.
    We are going to get clarity to be able to build things responsibly.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, dairy farmers are worried.
     In Manitoba, David and his brother are third generation dairy farmers who are committed to providing the highest quality milk for Canadians. However, with each trade deal, Canadian dairy farmers like them are asked by Liberal and Conservative governments to give away a little bit, and a little bit more. Basically, they are being asked to accept death by 1,000 cuts.
    Enough is enough. When will the Prime Minister do as he promised and commit to fully protect supply management?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have and are committed to protecting supply management.
    Supply management is a system that works for our farmers and for consumers. It was a Liberal government that brought it in 40 years ago. We understand how important it is to continue to protect our agricultural industry and our dairy producers.
    We continue to sign important trade deals around the world and ensure that we protect our supply-managed industry and, indeed, our family dairy farmers. That is what Canadians expect.
    Mr. Speaker, the key word is “fully”, and he still refuses to say it.

[Translation]

    Canadian dairy farmers are here on the Hill today. They are worried that the government is still using them as a bargaining chip in the NAFTA negotiations. When I meet with dairy farmers in my riding, they tell me that the supply management system allows them to stabilize production costs on their farms. However, the government sacrifices our farmers at every turn. One concession, two concessions, three concessions and the system starts to fall apart.
    Can the Prime Minister stand up right now and tell Canada's dairy farmers that he will protect supply management in its entirety?
    Mr. Speaker, it has become quite clear to everyone that the New Democrats simply will not support international trade agreements. They do not grasp that this is good for the economy and good for workers. I want to reiterate our support for dairy farmers and for supply management. I commend the dairy farmers who came to Ottawa today to voice their concerns. We hear them. We will continue to protect supply management. I thank them for their work and for being here in Ottawa.
    Mr. Speaker, Trump unleashed a vigorous attack on our dairy producers. The Liberals are suggesting that they were flexible, which is no comfort to Ms. Chevalier, a farmer from Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola, who fears that our supply management system is again being undermined. She is not sure whether her farm will remain viable as the Liberals cede yet another part of our supply-managed market.
    After the government let down producers with the Canada-Europe agreement and the TPP, how is Ms. Chevalier supposed to have faith that the Liberal government will protect our supply management system?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that the American administration has targeted our supply management system, but Canadians also know that I have repeatedly said that we will protect supply management because this system helps our farmers, helps our dairy producers, and helps consumers be confident in the dairy products they are buying. We will continue to stand up for not only our supply management system, but also the excellent work our dairy producers are doing across the country.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I heard from Dave Taylor from Vancouver Island, who knows how important supply management is for his family farm and locally produced high quality dairy products.
    The Liberals claim to agree with Dave, but two sources with direct knowledge of NAFTA negotiations have said that Canada is ready to make concessions in our dairy market.
    The Dairy Farmers of Canada, representing nearly 12,000 family farms, is watching the government. Will the Prime Minister promise here and now that his government will make no concessions to our dairy market, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said, I will not be negotiating in public. However, I will reassure Canadians, as I have throughout the summer and throughout this past year, we will not sign a bad deal for Canada or for Canadians.
     I know the Conservatives are worried that we need to sign a deal, even if it is a bad deal. We will not be doing that. We will be ensuring that whatever deal we move forward with is the right one for Canadians. If there is not a good deal on the table, we will not sign.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, on May 3, 2010, the following was said in the House:
...providing opportunities for buddies to further their private interests and giving preferential treatment to people based on the buddies who represent them, is illegal regardless of whether or not money changed hands.
    The member demanded to know what the consequences were for this activity. I wonder who said that. Ironically, the Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade said that.
    I would like to know this from the Prime Minister. Does he agree with the 2010 opposition member for Beausejour that the current member for Beausejour should be sanctioned.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that we have a strong system and a commissioner who oversees on ethics and conflict of interest to ensure that all Canadians can have confidence in public office-holders and indeed every member of Parliament.
     We ensure that we work with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, that we follow the rules and that we make amends whenever the commissioner brings forward concerns. That is what we will continue to do.
     We thank the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for his hard work.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very glad the Prime Minister mentioned the Ethics Commissioner, because he said this last week:
    I would really like to have the power to express a point of view as [to] the gravity of the contravention when we find a contravention, [and] what kind of sanctions should be taken.
    It’s important to know that there will be consequences if you don’t respect something.
    The Prime Minister has said that the Liberals will move forward in the ways the Ethics Commissioner recommends. I see what the Ethics Commissioner is recommending. Will the Prime Minister take the Ethics Commissioner's clear recommendation and determine sanctions against the minister?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has among the strongest ethics rules in the world as it applies to members of Parliament, and we are always looking forward to doing more. We know that the trust people have in our institutions and government is the foundation of democracy, one that is shaky in some places in the world, not one that is shaky in Canada. However, we are always willing to do more.
     We look forward to working with all parties in the House to look at how we can continue to bolster the confidence of Canadians in the excellence of these institutions we serve.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the summer of Liberal failure continues. Between June 2017 and June 2018, the RCMP intercepted about 26,000 illegal migrants. Of these, 56% had a U.S. nonimmigrant visa and 65% had legal status in the United States. Almost 2,000 of these illegal migrants are Americans.
    The Prime Minister and his team do not realize that under their governance our laws are being ignored outright. We have a plan; they have no plan.
    What is the Prime Minister waiting for to resolve this situation?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize the challenge posed by the many irregular migrants that are crossing our border, especially over the past year and a half. I can assure Canadians that all security checks are being done, and that the immigration and refugee process is being applied in full to all newcomers, whether they are irregular migrants or not.
    We know that we are fortunate to live in Canada, a country that is generally open to and positive about immigration. We will continue to defend this openness by ensuring that Canadians have a system that works.
    Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that the Prime Minister head over to the U.S. side of Roxham Road and then re-enter Canada from there? He will see a sign that clearly states it is illegal to cross the border there.
    I would like to remind the Prime Minister that 2,000 people have crossed our border illegally even though they have U.S. citizenship. We also know that 16,000 illegal immigrants have legal status in the United States. We also know that some illegal immigrants get to Roxham Road by plane.
    When will the Prime Minister realize he needs to do something about this situation, which has been a problem for Quebec ever since his infamous tweet of a year and a half ago?
    Mr. Speaker, we are working with the U.S. government to move forward on issues that matter to Canadians, and that includes border security. It is important to understand, however, that our international obligations require us to review the claims of everyone seeking asylum in Canada. That is our responsibility. Over the generations, immigration has enriched Canada economically and culturally and helped build stronger communities. We are proud of our immigration system and will continue to invest in protecting it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, 65% of the people who have illegally crossed the border into Canada and claimed asylum already had legal status in the United States, one of the safest democratic places in the world. Let us think about that for a second.
    Instead of prioritizing people who are languishing in UNHCR camps, instead of prioritizing genocide survivors being reunited with their families, the Prime Minister is doing this. How can he possibly think this is fair?
    Mr. Speaker, we are responding in an appropriate and measured way, with extra investments, to ensure we continue to apply in its integrity our immigration and refugee system.
    The Conservatives' enjoy criticizing and drumming up fear and anxiety, but they have no plans other than perhaps to militarize our entire border. These will not work.
    We are applying our immigration system in a responsible way. We are ensuring that it remains fair. We are ensuring that Canadians remain confident in the strength of our immigration system, because they can and should be.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is not fair to prioritize people who have legal status in upstate New York over the reunion of a family member of a genocide survivor. That is not fair. It is not fair to calm the fears of Canadians that our immigration system is no longer sustainable. That is not fair and that lays in the hands of the Prime Minister.
    When will he close the loophole in the safe third country agreement?
    Mr. Speaker, once again the Conservatives are putting forward criticisms without having any idea how they would actually fix this problem. We know how to fix this problem. We are working with stakeholders in the United States and around the world to remind them that there are no shortcuts to becoming a Canadian, that crossing irregularly or illegally does not get anyone into permanent status any quicker than any other way. This is something that is important to emphasize.
    The Conservatives are striking out, trying to create division and fear, but they have no plan to handle things differently.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance's reply yesterday to my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie completely missed the mark. The people of Vaudreuil-Soulanges have been demanding answers from the National Energy Board for two years now regarding Enbridge's line 9B.
     Here is an excerpt from the letter they received: “The National Energy Board has a duty to put an end to the possibility of follow-up with the RCM". In other words, the board does not like their questions and will stop answering them. These people are entitled to answers.
    Does the Prime Minister think it is okay for the NEB to put big oil ahead of people?
    Mr. Speaker, there are still people in Canada, including in the NDP, who believe that we have to choose between job creation and environmental protection.
    We know that the only way to build a strong country for years to come is to protect the environment while also creating economic growth. That is why we are holding consultations and working with indigenous peoples and communities. We are investing in environmental science to ensure that the decisions we make to develop our economy protect the environment at the same time. This is something we take very seriously and always will.
    Mr. Speaker, someone said that the environment is a priority to Quebeckers and there is a real sense of urgency in Quebec, but that here in Ottawa, the Liberals are talking out of both sides of their mouths. That someone is David Suzuki. Everyone from ordinary citizens to scientists can see how disingenuous the Liberals are being. Suzuki goes even further. He says that if the Minister of the Environment were being honest with herself, she would step down rather than defend the Liberal government.
    Does the Prime Minister believe that using our money to buy a pipeline for $4.5 billion is any way to fight climate change? Is that what he thinks?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we see that the NDP is still trying to claim that there is a choice to make between what is good for the environment and what is good for the economy. We know, and Canadians know very well, that the only way to build a future for our children is to protect the environment, fight climate change, and invest in good jobs and in a stronger future for our young people and our communities.
    The NDP does not understand how to do these two things at the same time. That is why we will continue to do so in a reasonable and respectful manner.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, a year ago, the American administration radically lowered corporate taxes, which made our businesses less competitive. Unfortunately, the government did nothing. The Conference Board of Canada published a study, which concluded that 635,000 Canadian jobs, or $85 billion of Canada's economic activity, are at risk as a result of the government's inaction. This led the Conference Board's president, John Manley, to state that the government absolutely needs to have a plan to strengthen Canada's competitiveness.
    When will the government do something and take John Manley's recommendation, who, by the way, is a former Liberal prime minister?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, we realize that our businesses need to remain competitive. This is why we are proud to have lowered taxes on small businesses across the country. We lowered these taxes on January 1, and we will lower them again this coming January 1. We are also looking at investments to keep our businesses competitive with the United States.
    That said, we know that cutting taxes for the rich is not the way to create economic growth. This is what the Conservatives do not understand.

[English]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's unprovoked and inaccurate partisan attack against Conservatives on NAFTA today confirms again that his election strategy is to strut around pretending to stand up to Donald Trump. It is ironic, though, because his increases in taxes and his heavy regulation have led Canadian dollars to head right down south to Donald Trump's America, where Canadian investment is up two-thirds while U.S. investment in Canada is down by half.
    Will the Prime Minister stop all the drama on NAFTA and stop sending our money and jobs south of the border?
    Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite wants to clarify things, he can immediately say that he disagrees with Stephen Harper's analysis that it would be better to sign a bad deal than to have no deal, because that is what Stephen Harper is on record as having recommended to Canadian parliamentarians and to Canadian negotiators. If he disagrees with Stephen Harper on that position or on any other position, please let him say so and set the record straight.

    Mr. Speaker, what I disagree with is the Prime Minister's agenda, which is sending money, business and cheap oil into the arms of Donald Trump. His higher taxes have sent money south. He blocked a pipeline to the Atlantic and another to the Pacific, which means we have to pump cheap oil into the United States, and he gave $4 billion to a Texas oil company that is building pipelines with Canadian tax dollars in Donald Trump's America.
    Again, will the Prime Minister stop the drama and stop sending our jobs, oil and money down south?
    Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite agrees with Stephen Harper that it is better to sign a bad deal than to have no deal. Well, we disagree and Canadians disagree.
    On the issue of getting our resources to new markets, we understand how important it is, and their failure for 10 years to get a pipeline built that will get our resources in a significant way to new markets is on them. We know that the way to get these things built properly is to work with indigenous peoples and to make sure we are protecting the environment. That is what Canadians asked us to do and that is what we will be doing.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister personally intervened to veto a pipeline to the Pacific. Then he regulated to death another pipeline to the Atlantic. That means we have to send billions of dollars in discounted oil to Donald Trump's America. He then raised taxes on businesses, which has led to Canadian investment in the U.S. going up by two-thirds while American investment in Canada is down by half. He then gave $4 billion to a Texas oil company to build pipelines down south. With enemies like that, Donald Trump does not need friends.
    Mr. Speaker, there is just too much wrong with the previous member's statement to go through it, but I will address the question of energy east. A private company made a determination that they no longer wanted to move forward with a project when oil had fallen to half the price it had been when they initially proposed the project. It actually never reached a point where we could have weighed in on it one way or another, because they withdrew the project because they also had another pipeline going south that they had trouble filling the space on.
    This was a market decision by a private company, but the member opposite does not really know anything about that, does he?

  (1445)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, this summer I met Petra Shulz, an Edmonton mother who lost her son to an opioid overdose. She described the devastating impact this tragedy had on her family, and many like hers. Today, we learned that over 1,000 Canadians lost their lives to opioid overdoses in the first three months of 2018, a 5% increase over 2017 and a 44% jump over 2016.
    Opioid deaths have increased every single year of the government's mandate. Will the Prime Minister admit that his approach is failing and tell the House what he will do to reverse this deadly epidemic?
    Mr. Speaker, we are deeply concerned about the opioid crisis in Canada. Between January 2016 and March 2018, approximately 8,000 Canadians tragically lost their lives to apparent opioid-related overdoses. We have responded with new federal investments, new legislation and regulatory action, such as $231.4 million of investments to improve access to treatment, to address stigma and to gather more data to help address the opioid crisis.
    We know there is much more work to do but we will not treat this is as a criminal issue. We will work with the partners to increase access to treatment—

[Translation]

     Order. The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, it is unfair that employment insurance provides only 15 weeks of sickness benefits. Johanne, one of our constituents, had to go back to work while still in poor health, just three months after a tough battle with breast cancer. What can happen when someone is forced to go back to work before they are fully recovered? They can suffer a relapse.
    Johanne and her family have lost everything: their house, their life savings, everything. What are the Liberals doing about it? Nothing. For hundreds of thousands of people, 15 weeks is not enough time to recover.
    When is this government finally going to take action?
    Mr. Speaker, it is always hard to hear stories about Canadians suffering, and we are doing everything in our power to help them.
    We have made firm commitments to enhance the employment insurance program to better meet the needs of Canadian families.
    We have created a new family caregiver benefit. We have relaxed the rules for sickness benefits. We have improved the application process to make it easier for Canadians to access their benefits.
    Naturally, there is still a lot more to be done, and we are working together with Canadian families to help them even more.

[English]

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues know, the economic, cultural and ecological importance of our oceans to Atlantic Canadians cannot be overstated. As depicted in Robert Chafe's play Between Breaths, the goals of working the sea and protecting our country's endangered whales are both vitally important to us.
    Can the Prime Minister confirm that our government's significant measures to protect the North Atlantic right whale have balanced the protection of this iconic species with the help of Atlantic Canada's fisheries?
    Mr. Speaker, we have put in place the necessary measures to protect this iconic species and to ensure continued access to our fisheries. Since taking clear and coordinated action, I am happy to report that thus far we have not had a single reported death of a North Atlantic right whale in Canadian waters.
    I also want to thank industry leaders who cooperated with our measures. However, I am glad that our snow crab and lobster fishers have also enjoyed good fishing seasons.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, when knocking on doors in my riding this summer, I kept hearing frustration at the Prime Minister's continual failures: his failure to build a pipeline; his failure to support Canadian oil, and instead importing it from countries like Saudi Arabia; his failure to keep jobs in Canada; his failure to support small businesses and instead over-regulating and over-taxing them, putting some of them right out of business. Does the Prime Minister understand that his failures are costing Canadians their livelihoods, and does he even care?
    Mr. Speaker, not only do we care about Canadians, but we have invested concretely in making their lives better. I am talking about half a million new full-time jobs since we took office. We are talking about the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. We are talking about investments that have lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty. We have lowered taxes for small businesses. We are drawing in global investment. We are delivering with the highest growth rate in the G7 last year. This is what Canadians expected. This is what we are delivering for the middle class and those working hard to join it.

Natural Resources

    But not for middle-class oil and gas workers, Mr. Speaker. Some 1.2 million barrels a day are flowing through new pipelines approved and built under Conservatives, which will rise to 2 million when Keystone XL is done, with no tax dollars needed. As of today, the Liberals have added zero after three years in government, and they blew $4.5 billion in tax dollars that will go into the U.S.
    Every time the Prime Minister points to the past and blames others, he admits that he failed, and the Liberals still have no plan for the future. Their summer of failure is becoming their legacy of failure and it is hurting the whole country. When will he pull his ban-on-pipelines Bill C-69 and give a plan for Trans Mountain?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, just to correct the record a bit, as a government we have expanded export capacity for the Alberta Clipper project, we approved the Nova Gas pipeline, the Line 3 replacement project, the Arnaud apatite mine, Woodfibre LNG and the Ridley Island propane terminal.
     We are moving forward on getting projects done and getting them done the right way, which both respects indigenous peoples and works in partnership with them. We are working to make sure that the environmental science and the protection of our ecosystem is front of mind. We know from 10 years of failure by the Conservatives, because of their narrowing of the scope of projects, that we need to restore the confidence of Canadians.
    What about Trans Mountain, Mr. Speaker? For the last two years, they said over and over again that their plan would have shovels in the ground by now. The Prime Minister himself said, “Canada has completed the deepest consultations with rights holders ever on a major project in this country”. He claimed that the process brought in “indigenous communities...respects science...[and] gets the social licence”. Well, the court clearly ruled: He failed, failed, failed and failed. Today, there is no Trans Mountain expansion and it has been 20 days without a plan. Why should Canadians believe any word he ever says?
    Mr. Speaker, here is the difficulty for Conservatives. They have actually spent the past three years telling us that we should not be doing so much on the environment, we should not be fretting about consultation with indigenous peoples, but that we should just plow ahead like Stephen Harper did. He did not succeed in 10 years of trying to plow ahead. What we have heard from the court recently was that it was good that we were doing consultations and working with indigenous people and that it was good we were taking seriously the science, but we need to do a little more. That leaves the Conservatives on the wrong side of history, and we are going to do things the right way.
    Mr. Speaker, when asked about the job losses in the energy sector, a direct result of Liberal failures on pipelines like Trans Mountain, the Liberals' response is to take credit for jobs at Amazon. Are they trying to say that the thousands of highly skilled professionals, such as welders, pipe fitters and engineers, who have lost jobs across Canada should find work at an Amazon warehouse? Another 8,000 Canadians are unemployed because of the Prime Minister's summer of failure. What is the Prime Minister's plan to get these experienced professionals back to work in the energy sector?
    Mr. Speaker, what folks in the energy sector understand very clearly is that there is no path forward for our energy sector unless we also protect the environment and unless we build partnerships with indigenous peoples. The old ways of doing things failed for 10 years under the Conservatives. We now know that being respectful and thoughtful about how we move forward is what Canadians expect. That is exactly what we are going to do. While they are still worried about suddenly putting a price on pollution, we know that moving forward responsibly is the only way to get things done in this country.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, recently I heard from Stephane, a veteran from my riding diagnosed with PTSD while serving in the Canadian navy for 28 years.
    Counselling, medication and therapy were not working for him. It was not until he got his service dog, Sarge, that he could finally get out of the house, go for a walk and talk to people. Sarge saved his life.
    The long-awaited Université Laval study states that service dogs, like Sarge, save veterans' lives. However, the Liberals continue to deny veterans and their families the funding they need.
    Why is the government stalling on providing the funding required for life-saving service dogs for veterans?
    Mr. Speaker, as we will see from investments of close to $10 billion in our veterans over the past three years, the mental health and well-being of veterans and families is a priority for this government.
    We have heard from the veterans community that this is an important issue to them, so in budget 2018, we expanded the medical expense tax credit for recognizing costs for psychiatric service dogs for 2018 and future years.
    Being based in evidence is important to us, so we are currently funding three research initiatives related to service animals. We continue to monitor the research to ensure that we are making the best decisions to support our veterans.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, for over a year, my office has been helping a mother whose son is in the military. Her son has PTSD and, tragically, is also suicidal.
    Despite his serious injury and critical situation, he has been forced to wait for almost a year for his medical claim to be processed by Veterans Affairs. He feels his government has abandoned him, and there are seven others in his unit who feel the same.
    When will the government keep its promise to our veterans and get them the help that they so desperately need?
    Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes that we have a sacred obligation to support our veterans and their families, and that includes investments in mental health.
    We have invested, over the past three years, about $10 billion in helping our veterans, in supporting their families, in moving forward on veterans' mental health benefits and supports, in reopening shuttered Veterans Affairs offices. We recognize that there is still more to do.
    We are working hard to meet the expectations and the needs of the veterans who have served this country so excellently for so many years. We will continue to be there for them.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the government's policies have once again failed our military.
    Canada needs effective equipment and highly trained personnel to maintain our defence obligations, but reports say that our military has a shortage of 275 pilots. As a former Air Force officer, I know that pilots do not want to fly 40-year-old used Australian F-18 fighter jets. Those planes are older than our current ones.
    Will the Prime Minister start supporting our military to attract and retain the pilots we need, and finally cancel the interim purchase of these used fighter jets?
    Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, after a decade of Conservative cuts, we are proud that our government is making landmark investments in the Canadian Armed Forces.
    There has never been a better time for Canadians to join Canada's defence team. We are taking action to boost retention of our women and men in uniform, including with tax breaks, and with more than $6 million a year for support and services for military families.
    We have introduced initiatives to speed up recruitment and training to ensure our Royal Canadian Air Force has all it needs to accomplish its mission.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has had three years, and his only solution is to spend half a billion dollars on a pile of scrap metal from Australia.
    The Prime Minister just does not understand the consequences of his failures.
    This report confirms that the Royal Canadian Air Force is short 275 pilots. Why are they leaving? It is because nobody wants to fly a bunch of old, rusted-out fighter jets from Australia.
    When will the Prime Minister cancel this asinine interim policy of buying used jets, recruit and train new pilots, and finally stop failing our troops?
    Mr. Speaker, I know I am not the only one in this House who finds it a little bit rich that the Conservatives are complaining about procurement processes, when they completely botched our fighter jet procurement process from the beginning.
    The Conservatives completely failed to get the equipment needed to our armed forces. They created the capability gap.
    We are fixing that. We are ensuring that the men and women in uniform who serve this country are given the equipment they need, and are not just used for photo ops, like the Conservatives did every damn time.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has failed to give injured veterans the support they have earned. Remember the Prime Minister told veterans that they are asking for too much, yet these Liberals are giving a man convicted of murdering a police officer, a man who is not a veteran himself, money meant for veterans. He killed her, put her body in a compost bin and dumped her under a bridge.
    When will the Prime Minister step in and stop this outrageous abuse of veterans' benefits?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, here is something we saw for 10 years that the Conservative government did not acknowledge. When a man or woman serves in Canada's Armed Forces or in the RCMP, their whole family serves with them. We have made it a priority to not only improve benefits and services for our nation's veterans but for their families as well. Since 2016, investments have totalled $10 billion for veteran programs and services, including the hiring of over 470 staff to increase delivery capacity.
    In regard to the tragic and terrible case the member opposite mentioned, due to laws around privacy and confidentiality—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt.

Science

    Mr. Speaker, our government understands the importance of fostering a culture of curiosity among our kids and youth. Today is the Prime Minister's science fair, which highlights both our outstanding students and science centres across Canada. I am extremely excited to see all of the amazing projects that the students have brought for us today.
    Can the Prime Minister please explain to this House the benefits of getting our youth interested in science?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Scarborough—Agincourt for her work on her file.
    We are delivering on our promise to restore science to its rightful place in Canada. We are strengthening Canada's labs and classrooms with the largest investment in fundamental research in Canada's history.
     I am looking forward to seeing the amazing work of our youngest researchers and scientists later today and invite everyone to come and join. Unlike the Harper Conservatives, we celebrate, promote and believe in science-based decision-making.

[Translation]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not seem to understand why dairy farmers from across Canada are on the Hill today, and I am wondering whether he knows why young farmers were protesting in front of his office this summer. I will tell him. Young farmers no longer believe the Prime Minister because he plays with words. He did not tell them his real intentions regarding supply management.
    Will the Prime Minister finally tell the truth or will he have yet another item to add to the long list of failures he racked up over the summer?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the Conservative member for standing up for supply management. I know that not everyone on the other side of the House supports it.
    We all agree that protecting supply management is a priority for our government and Canadians. We will continue to protect supply management and support our farmers, particularly our dairy farmers who work hard every day to provide Canadians with a clean and healthy product.

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, the recent Gémeaux awards reminded us of the work of several generations of Quebeckers to capture our culture on film. The problem is that this work is in jeopardy. Our youth are growing up with Netflix and YouTube, multinationals that obviously do not care about the future of our language or our culture.
    The former minister of Canadian Heritage spent three years figuring out that urgent action is needed and then did nothing in the end.
    Will the Prime Minister stop interfering and let his new Minister of Canadian Heritage do his job and take action right now and before the next election?
    Mr. Speaker, we know how important it is to protect culture in Quebec and throughout Canada. That is why we have invested historic amounts to restore funding for Radio-Canada/CBC and we have doubled funding for the Canada Council for the Arts.
    We will continue to invest and defend our cultural industries because we know that it enhances people's feeling of belonging and is good for jobs and the economy.
    I have a great deal of confidence in our Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, who will continue this excellent work.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, keeping Canadians safe means confronting instability around the world. In November, we announced a series of commitments to optimize Canada's impact and its contribution to UN missions. In March, we announced plans to deploy an air task force to Mali for a one-year period.
    Would the Prime Minister please update the House on the peace support operation in Mali?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saint-Jean for his question and the work he does.
    After a decade of Conservative cuts, we are re-engaging in UN peacekeeping operations.
    In August, we reached full operational capacity in Mali. Our armed forces are working closely with UN troops to provide medical evacuations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are saving lives.
    I thank our brave women and men for the incredible work they are doing.

  (1505)  

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, after the terrible fire at the Quebec City armoury, home of the Voltigeurs, we, the Conservatives, did everything in our power to restore this precious piece of Quebec history. Today, two expert reports confirmed that, following their summer of failure, the Liberals are now undermining the integrity of the Quebec City citadel by using a poor-quality American stone that does not meet government standards. There is still time to reverse this decision in order to restore the integrity of the citadel.
    What is the Prime Minister waiting for? When will he take action and take our national heritage seriously?
    Mr. Speaker, we care about Quebec City's significant historical heritage, and particularly that of Old Quebec, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, and we are protecting it.
    The contractor is required to follow the guidelines in order to ensure that the UNESCO designation is respected and upheld. The department is monitoring the situation very closely because we understand how important this is to the city.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, during the Quebec election campaign, the four party leaders stood together in support of supply management. It is a priority for the Quebec nation. The four leaders are calling on the Government of Canada to fully protect supply management.
    Will the Canadian government side with Quebec and fully protect supply management, or will it decide to listen to its top adviser, Conservative Brian Mulroney, who wants to create another breach in the system?
    Why does the government always avoid using the word “fully”?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times in the House and as I have told Canadian farmers, including dairy farmers, directly, we will protect supply management.
    We know that the Americans want us to eliminate this system, which works for Canadians and our farmers. We will continue to defend supply management because it works.

[English]

Points of Order

Oral Questions 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, it was brought to my attention that in an outburst of enthusiasm, I may have used a word that was unparliamentary. I withdraw that word and apologize to anyone who was offended.
    I thank the right hon. Prime Minister for his apology.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order.
    I seek the unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion.

[English]

    That this House urges the government to put the complete abolition of the system of supply management on the negotiating table in order to facilitate a new NAFTA agreement with our American partners and bring down the prices of milk, poultry and eggs for Canadian consumers.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: No.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1510)  

[English]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation at the annual Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations in New York, New York, United States, on February 22 and 23.
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the Sub-Committee on Future Security and Defence Capabilities in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on September 11 to 14, 2017.

Committees of the House

Agriculture and Agri-Food  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 13th report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in relation to Bill C-281, an act to establish a national local food day. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendment.

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 69th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House. If the House gives its consent, I would like to move concurrence at this time.
    Does the 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)

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be amended as follows: Ms. Lapointe (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles) for Ms. Tassi (Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas) and Mrs. Kusie (Calgary Midnapore) for Mr. Richards (Banff—Airdrie); and that the name of Mr. Richards be added to the list of associate members of the said committee.
    Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have 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)

Petitions

Children's Welfare  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.
     Yesterday, a number of the same petitions as my first one were presented by other members of Parliament, I think representing cross-party concerns, as represented by petitioners.
    The petitioners ask that the House act to protect the rights of all children, even those children whose parents have been incarcerated or who are otherwise suffering from addictions; that all children should receive the Canada child benefit and child special allowances; and that standards be set to ensure no children are excluded in the country.

  (1515)  

Veterans  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition goes to issue of veterans, the protection of veterans' rights.
     Specifically, residents of my constituency of Saanich—Gulf Islands ask that the House assembled call on the Minister of Veterans Affairs to remove any and all statutory limits on back pay eligibility for disability allowances, recognizing there are a number of delays in these veterans accessing their rights. To penalize them further by having such limitations on back pay is also unfair in the circumstances.

[Translation]

Transport  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of bicycle path users in my riding of Alfred-Pellan who are worried about their safety. The issue is that limited-speed motorcycles equipped with electric motors and pedals are considered power-assisted bicycles. However, these vehicles are a real danger to bicycle path users, especially children.

[English]

    Thus, Canadians and bicycle path users call upon the Minister of Transport to amend the definition of “power-assisted bicycle” in order to ensure the safety of bicycle path users.

Canada Summer Jobs Initiative  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition with a number of signatures regarding the Canadian Charter of Rights and the freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of belief as fundamental freedoms. This goes back to the Canada summer jobs program and the attestation requiring applicants to hold the same views as the government, which would likely contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    The petitioners therefore ask the Prime Minister to defend those freedoms of conscience, thought and belief and withdraw the requirement for the applicants to the Canada summer jobs program to attest to these.
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition from a number of constituents from my riding in the region of Waterloo. These citizens are drawing to the attention of the House that section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms identifies, among other things, freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of belief as fundamental freedoms. 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 would contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
     The petitioners therefore call on the House of Commons and Parliament assembled to defend their freedom of conscience, thought and belief and withdraw the attestation requirements for applicants to the Canada summer jobs program.

Opioids  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to table a petition on behalf of constituents in Courtenay.
     The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to address the opioid crisis. With over 4,000 Canadians dying in 2017 and 2,800 in 2016 due to preventable opioid overdoses resulting from fentanyl poisoned sources, the number of preventable deaths have surpassed the total number of deaths of all other public health emergencies in the last 20 years, including SARS, H1N1 and Ebola.
    The petitioners call on the government to declare the current opioid overdose and fentanyl poisoning crisis a national public health emergency under the Emergencies Act in order to manage and resource it, with the aim to reduce and eliminate preventable deaths; to reform current drug policy to decriminalize personal possession; and to create, with urgency and immediacy, a system to provide safe, unadulterated access to substances so people who use substances experimentally, recreationally or chronically are not at imminent risk of overdose due to a contaminated source.

Rare Diseases  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present e-petition 1590, which has been sponsored and certified by the clerk of petitions. It has been signed by 514 Canadians.
    The petitioners call on the government to establish the last day of February each year as “Rare Disease Day”. Rare diseases affect many Canadians, including a young woman from my riding of Whitby named Victoria Lacey, who visited me on the Hill last spring as part of the Canadian Association for Rare Disorders' lobby day. Knowledge and treatment of rare diseases is still fragmented, and Canadians diagnosed with rare diseases face a host of challenges for which this day would help increase awareness.

Firearms Act  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present e-petition 1608 in the House of Commons. This petition was started this spring by a member of my riding. His name is Ryan Slingerland and he is 15 years old. Ryan is an incredibly engaged young man. He is a Canadian who is informed with the proceedings of the House of Commons.
    Ryan read Bill C-71, which has been put forward by the Liberals, and he deemed this legislation failed legislation as it would not actually protect Canadians and ensure their security.
    Ryan put together a petition, calling on the government to scrap Bill C-71. He has collected more than 86,000 signatures from coast to coast. It is the second most signed e-petition in Canada's history, and it is my pleasure to present it to the House.

  (1520)  

    I remind members that they are not to comment about whether they are happy about presenting a petition, or it is a pleasure or they like it or not.

Pharmacare  

    Mr. Speaker, seniors are having trouble paying for medications in my riding of Nanaimo--Ladysmith and one in five people is unable to fill prescriptions for financial reasons. We hear stories every day of seniors in particular splitting pills or skipping a dosage in order to make their medications last. I therefore bring to the House of Commons a petition, with signatories from Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Calgary.
    The petitioners urge the government to implement universal affordable pharmacare. They note that the savings from universal drug coverage for Canadians by moving to a universal affordable system would be in billions of dollars. Not only would it be the right thing, the ethical thing, and the healthy thing to do, but it would also be a wise investment by the government.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first petition is in support of postal banking.
    The petitioners acknowledge that nearly two million Canadians desperately need an alternative to payday lenders whose crippling lending rates affect the poor, marginalized, rural and indigenous communities the most.
    We have 3,800 Canada Post outlets in existence in rural areas where there are few or no banks. Because of these postal outlets, the infrastructure is there to include postal banking.
    The petitioners request that the Government of Canada enact my Motion No. 166 to create a committee to study and propose a plan for postal banking under the Canada Post Corporation.

Military Volunteer Service Medal  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from veterans and those who support veterans.
    The petitioners want the government to remember that until March 1947, the Government of Canada issued a Canadian volunteer service medal for volunteers in the Canadian Armed Forces. They would like the Liberal government to recognize by means of the creation and issuance of a new Canadian military volunteer service medal, designated the Canadian military volunteer service medal, for volunteers who have served in the regular forces, reserve military forces, cadet corps and support staff and the folks who have completed this honourable service for at least one year.

Organ Donation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition in support of my private member's bill, Bill C-316, which comes up for second reading next week. The petition is submitted by members of the National Capital Region Gift of Life Network.
    The petitioners from around Ottawa-Gatineau call on the House to improve the organ donation system in Canada by making the process to register as an organ donor easier. This would be achieved by adding a simple question to our annual tax returns.
    Every organ donor has a potential to save eight lives, but we need to make registering to be a donor easier. Hundreds of Canadians die every year waiting for a lifesaving transplant. We can do better.

Questions on the Order Paper

    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Motions for Papers

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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1525)  

[English]

Accessible Canada Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, today is a historic day for disability rights in Canada. It is truly an honour to stand up in the House of Commons and open debate on the second reading of Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.
    This bill enhances the legal framework for addressing the barriers to inclusion faced by millions of Canadians on a daily basis. From a substantive point of view, it requires the Government of Canada and entities within federal jurisdiction to address not only the barriers themselves but also the systems that perpetuate these barriers. In and of itself, this will promote a quality of opportunity. However, it does more than just this. This bill sends a clear message to Canadians with disabilities that no more will they be treated as an afterthought, no more will they be systematically denied opportunity for inclusion. Today we are sending a message that Canadians with disabilities are valued civic, social and economic contributors to Canadian society, with full rights of citizenship.
    The history of how we have treated Canadians with disabilities is not a proud one. It is a history of institutionalization, of sterilization, of social isolation. We addressed our fears of what we did not understand and of difference by creating systems that, by design, took children away from their families, that took power away from our citizens, that perpetuated a medical model of disability that saw persons with disabilities as objects of charity and passive recipients of welfare. We treated our citizens as if they were broken, when in fact it was our systems and policies that were broken.
    In my own experience, my parents were told that I should be sent to a school for the blind, that public school was not for me, and that I should be shipped provinces away, far away from my family and friends. I cannot imagine how different my life would have been if my parents had not insisted that I had a right to be publicly educated in my own community and if I had been separated from my loved ones and sent away at age five. It is important to acknowledge this history. It is important not to forget.
    Thankfully, Canada's history is also replete with individuals, families and organizations who fought these systems. As we all know, Canada has a robust human rights system, with strong anti-discrimination laws. Disability is a protected ground under these laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Of course, Canada is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, anti-discrimination laws, while important, are by design reactive. We have to wait until individuals are denied a service, a job, a program, and then the system kicks in to determine if that denial was discriminatory. We literally have to wait until people are discriminated against before we can help them. These laws place the burden of advancing human rights on individuals. The opportunity for system change can be limited and costly. It is incredible to think that currently close to 60% of the complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission are on the basis of disability. Again, thankfully we have these laws, for it is my belief that the most important advances in disability rights in our country have been achieved through individuals using these laws to demand equality. There has been change. However, it has been slow.
    As our understanding of disability has evolved, the medical model is giving way to a human rights-based social model. We no longer see the individual's disability or impairment as a barrier to inclusion; rather, it is the barriers created by society that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying their human rights on an equal basis with others. That is where Bill C-81 comes in. Today, I stand before members to support a bill that will significantly transform how Canada addresses discrimination and ensures a quality for all. As the first-ever minister responsible for accessibility, I take my responsibilities seriously. I want to set a standard worthy of Canadians and of Canada's place in the world.
    Bill C-81 is meant to promote broad organizational and cultural change across the nation. It will benefit all Canadians, especially Canadians with disabilities, by taking the steps to realize a truly accessible and inclusive Canada. It will proactively identify, remove and prevent barriers in a number of areas. Accessibility standards will be established by regulation in the areas of employment, the built environment, information and communication technologies, procurement, program and service delivery, and transportation.
    Bill C-81 applies to Parliament, the Government of Canada, Crown corporations, and other federally regulated sectors and entities, including organizations in the transportation, telecommunications, broadcasting and banking sectors.

  (1530)  

    These entities would be required to comply with the accessibility standards. In this way, Bill C-81 builds upon the existing rights of persons with disabilities under the charter and the Canadian Human Rights Act. It also represents a significant step in Canada's ongoing implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
    At this point, I will pause to put on the record the incredible collaboration that led to the bill. In June of 2016, we launched an ambitious public consultation process in Canada that took us across the country, meeting with Canadians and stakeholders to talk about what accessible Canada means to them. We did it in the most accessible way possible, to ensure that everyone was able to participate and have their say on what accessibility legislation could look like. We held 18 public consultations and 8 thematic round tables. We had a significant online component. We held a national youth forum with the Prime Minister. We worked with indigenous groups. It truly signalled a new era of leadership and collaboration on disability issues.
    We heard from 6,000 citizens from across the country. We heard about physical and architectural barriers that impede people's ability to move freely in built environments, use public transportation, access information, or use common technology. We heard about attitudes, beliefs and misconceptions that some people have about people with disabilities and what we can and cannot do. We heard about outdated policies and practices that simply do not take into account the barriers that are being faced on a daily basis.
    Time and again, Canadians with disabilities told us the same thing: “We are not an afterthought. We are citizens deserving of the same rights and having the same responsibilities as other citizens. We are capable and valuable members of society. We do not want to be looked at as people who need accommodation, and we do not want to be treated like some sort of burden.” By bringing a unique knowledge and extensive network to he table, the Government of Canada was able to get an even better understanding of what the disability community wants its Canada to look like.
    With its clear message as the backdrop, there are five principles recognized in Bill C-81. It is upon these principles that the bill is based, and it is these principles that would serve to guide future interpretations. First, all persons must be treated with dignity, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Second, all persons must have the same opportunity to make for themselves the lives they are able and wish to have. Third, all persons must have barrier-free access to full and equal participation in society. Fourth, all persons must have meaningful options and be free to make their own choices, with support if they desire. Finally, laws, policies, programs, services and structures must take into account the abilities and disabilities of persons and the different ways that persons interact with the environment. Persons with disabilities must be involved in the development and the design.
    Ultimately, Bill C-81 recognizes that barriers to accessibility are at the heart of the inequity between Canadians with and without disabilities. These principles will guide Parliament, the Government of Canada and the federally regulated private sector in offering accessible services to Canadians.
     These principles are reflected in the definitions in the bill. It was important to be as inclusive as possible in the scope of Bill C-81, and an important step was to look at the language we used. We wanted to put the emphasis on the barriers, not on the specific cause of the impairment or diagnosis of disability. It is the barrier that gets in the way of the full and meaningful participation of our citizens, not our disabilities.
    The definitions of “barrier” and ”disability” put forth in Bill C-81 draw upon the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They are broad and inclusive, supporting the greatest number of Canadians. The bill is meant to inspire and drive a deep cultural transformation. Part of that transformation is changing the way we talk about accessibility and disability. It is also about changing existing government structures and systems and creating new ones. It is about putting these aspirations into actions.
    The bill would create several new entities with significant compliance and enforcement functions. A new accessibility commissioner, a member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, would be responsible for compliance and enforcement in the areas not covered by the Canadian Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Individuals could file complaints with the accessibility commissioner if they have been harmed or suffered property damage or economic loss as a result of the contravention of regulation made under Bill C-81, in other words, if the accessibility standards have not been complied with.

  (1535)  

    A chief accessibility officer will report to the minister and advise on accessibility issues. A particular focus will be on systemic and emerging issues. The Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, will be responsible for overseeing the development of accessibility standards. CASDO would also provide technical expertise in relation to standards, and support research and best practices with respect to the identification, removal and prevention of accessibility barriers. The CASDO board will be comprised of a majority of members with lived disability experience.
    Among other initiatives, this last element enshrines into law the long-standing demand of the disability community that people with disabilities need to be involved in the creation and implementation of the policies and programs that affect their lives: In short, “nothing about us without us”.
    The bill would also require that regulated entities create and publish accessibility plans and report on their progress, and that persons with disabilities be consulted as these plans and reports are developed. The bill also provides real teeth to ensure meaningful and lasting change in our institutions. This includes measures such as proactive inspections, monetary penalties, and individual complaints.
    A number of bodies will be responsible for dealing with these cases and administering compliance and enforcement measures. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will be responsible for compliance and enforcement with respect to broadcasting and telecommunications using their existing powers. The Canadian Transportation Agency will be responsible for compliance and enforcement within the transportation sector with enhanced powers. The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board will address complaints by eligible federal public servants and parliamentary employees. All of their complaints will proceed through the accessibility commissioner.
    There are two final points on the substance of Bill C-81. First, the bill will designate the week commencing on the last Sunday in May as national accessibility week. This will be a time to recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively removing barriers to give Canadians of all abilities a better chance to succeed. It will also contribute to the awareness raising and culture shift that we are all trying to achieve.
    Second, the bill gives the Canadian Human Rights Commission responsibility for monitoring the Government of Canada's implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Both Canadian stakeholders and the international community have been calling for such a designation for some time.
    When our Prime Minister and government speak of inclusion and diversity, we speak of the importance of having many voices at the table, and this includes persons with disabilities. This has steered my work on this file. The accessible Canada act is foundational and builds upon our government's ongoing commitment to accessibility and disability issues. We have achieved a lot over the past three years for Canadians with disabilities. I think of our ascension to the Marrakesh Treaty and our work on the UN optional protocol. I think of the disability supplement within the Canada child benefit and the increase to CPP disability. I think of our work on the excessive demand provision in our immigration law. I think of our government's recent appointment of a deputy minister responsible for an accessible public service, and our commitment to hiring 5,000 persons with disabilities into the federal public service over the next five years.
    We have also made significant investments in accessibility, such as the recent announcement of approximately $290 million to advance the accessible Canada agenda, as well as our government's addition of $77 million, for a total fund of $227 million over 10 years dedicated to the removal of barriers in the built environment through the enabling accessibility fund. These are all important steps.
    With the accessible Canada act, the Government of Canada is transforming how we as a country think about accessibility and the value we place on the increased inclusion of Canadians with disabilities. It also demonstrates our government's commitment to the advancement of disability rights in a concrete way.
    Bill C-81 sends a strong message: Canada is a leader in accessibility.
    It is important to remember that although Bill C-81 will be one of the tools that the government can use to address accessibility on a systemic basis, the work does not stop there. There is a need for the Government of Canada, both as an employer and as a provider of service to Canadians, to show leadership and model accessibility. There is a need to support businesses and institutions. There is a need to promote the culture change required such that accessibility is seen as a universal priority.
    I hope that our government's actions will inspire other governments and industries to get on board with forward-looking policies and practices.

  (1540)  

[Translation]

    Today, as we lay the groundwork for an accessible future, I urge the provinces and territories, businesses, and all other partners to consider the role they have to play. After all, this goes to the very heart of our Canadian values.

[English]

    I truly believe that we are making lives better for Canadians with disabilities. This is just the beginning. There is still a lot of work to do to create a Canada without barriers. I look forward to continuing the discussion with Canadians and parliamentarians throughout our review of Bill C-81. I look forward to building an accessible Canada together.
    Madam Speaker, there are many things in the minister's speech that I believe in and respect and certainly support. In her speech she said that change has been slow. That is absolutely correct. It has been slow. In fact, it has been three years since we were promised the accessibility act, the act for those Canadians with disabilities.
    With the passage of this legislation, if it were to receive assent tomorrow, what tangible effect would it have other than the $290 million to be spent and the 5,000 new employees to be hired? What tangible effect on Canadians with disabilities would they feel on day one?
    Madam Speaker, immediately we will see a difference in the lives of Canadians, not only because of what we are telling them, that they are valued and contributing members of society, but we will begin work immediately to create the standards that we will then hold the Government of Canada and federally regulated private sector companies to. We cannot afford not to do this, quite frankly.
    It is a time when, as much as this is a matter of being the right thing to do and it is a matter of being an issue of human rights, quite frankly, we have 14% of the population that is an untapped economic potential for our country. We know that if businesses were to accommodate Canadians with disabilities, the GDP of our country would increase by 1.3% to 1.9% a year. That is a $38 billion a year increase to the economy of our country, and that is just by including Canadians with disabilities. There is a strong business case. Businesses recognize that they do not have access potentially to 14% of consumers. Businesses with labour shortages realize that there is an untapped labour pool out there of willing, educated, loyal, smart, helpful and innovative Canadians who are desperate for jobs and desperate to contribute to this country.
    By starting—
    Sorry, but I do have to allow for other questions.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.
    Madam Speaker, in the minister's response she mentioned she would be able to tell them right away what the new standards would be in relation to persons with disabilities and accessibility issues across this country. Last night when I attended the briefing, I asked those exact questions. What are the new standards? What will they be? How will they affect public spaces and federal spaces, as well as the private sector regulated by the federal government? The answer was, “Well, we do not know what the standards and regulations will be.”
    How could those standards and regulations not be communicated to members of this House but somehow, day one, upon assent, we are going to be able to put them into being right away and we are going to be able to encourage the private sector right away to hold up to them?
    A follow-up question would be how it is that we are supposed to prepare the private sector for this change. As parliamentarians we do not even know what they are.
    Madam Speaker, what I said was we were going to start down the path of creating these standards. We have deliberately created an independent organization through Bill C-81 that will be comprised of industry leaders and disability experts to create standards that will work for both industry and the disability community. We can use existing standards. We can build upon these standards. We can create new ones. We are leaving the flexibility in the regulation stage in order to make sure that we do not create a situation where people are not ready. However, we know and industry has known for some time that this was coming. We have these standards provincially in Ontario.
    What we know is this is good for business and business knows that this is good for business.

  (1545)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague, the minister, for tabling this historic legislation today. I look forward to working in a collegial fashion so that all of us here can strengthen the bill, because it is something that all Canadians deserve.
    I was intrigued and inspired when the minister suggested in her presentation on Bill C-81 that she was inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As we know, that was ratified in 2010, and we have had no movement since for its implementation.
    Especially because we do not get a lot of media coverage for the issues affecting this vulnerable population and the people who care about them, I want to reiterate that there are aspects of the proposed accessibility act that would allow for partial or blanket exemptions for some important agencies. Also, there are no timelines and there are no requirements.
     Do we see the accessibility act here as implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities?
    Madam Speaker, for some time the disability community has been calling on Canada to more actively implement the UN convention. We have taken some steps, but I absolutely agree with the member that we have not moved far enough ahead.
    I see this particular bill as a big step forward toward the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We are working on the UN optional protocol. A particularly exciting part of Bill C-81 for me is designating the Canadian Human Rights Commission as the organization responsible for monitoring our implementation of the UN convention.
    I think these steps go a long way. I look forward to working with the member in committee and at other opportunities to make this bill the best we can for Canadians with disabilities.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the minister for telling her personal story about this at the beginning of her speech. It is incredibly important to connect with these stories to understand why this piece of legislation is so important.
    When I was on municipal council in Kingston, by accident I was appointed to sit as the chair of the municipal accessibility advisory committee. I did not know much about accessibility or the requirements and needs. If I had been asked about accessibility before that, I would have said that it is a ramp to get into a store. I think that many Canadians do not quite understand it. However, I learned through that committee and was educated on the vast array of accessibility requirements out there.
    Perhaps the minister could comment on how important that education is to Canadians. Why is it so important to expose Canadians to what the requirements are? Also, could she comment briefly on why Canada needs the accessible Canada act?
    Madam Speaker, it is very apparent why we need this act. We need it because right now and for so long Canadians with disabilities on their own have had the burden of advancing their rights and insisting that they be treated as equal participants in our country. With this bill, we are saying, “no more”. We are proactively creating a system of standards whereby it will be incumbent upon governments and institutions to take that burden and make sure that accessibility is ensured for all.
    The thing about accessibility is that it will inspire a culture shift. It will inspire a different way of looking at fellow citizens, because if I can get into a business, I can spend my money there. I can work there and my friends can meet with me there. If a restaurant is not accessible and I cannot get to the bathroom, then I will not be eating there and the 10 people I am dining with will not be eating there. For a 3,000-person convention these days, the location of that convention may be dictated by accessible rooms because eight participants have disabilities. There is a massively important business case here for accessibility.

  (1550)  

    Madam Speaker, it is certainly an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-81.
    I want to begin by telling a personal story in relation to this bill, and the effect that I think all parties are trying to have with regard to persons with disabilities and accessibility as a whole across this country.
    When I was a young man, I was exposed to a person who was living with a disability, someone who was very close to me. My grandfather was blinded as a Royal Canadian engineer in World War II. He was an incredibly diligent and incredibly powerful person. He was able to cut his own lawn, chop wood and make wood fires. These are just memories I have from when I was a kid.
    When I was 10 years old, the issue came even closer. My mother was hit by a car while crossing the road. She sustained a permanent head injury, as well as permanent injuries to her body which affected her ability to walk and to manoeuvre. She faced a couple of years on the couch.
    Having grown up in those circumstances, I can say that I understand what the effects of disability are on those around the person, but I will never really understand the impact on the person himself or herself.
     I clearly understand the cycle of poverty that exists in this country, which should not exist, in relation to persons who have disabilities and in many cases children who have parents with disabilities. It is a very important subject. It is incredibly important. It is one that, far too often, we leave to the side.
    No matter what is being brought in relation to accessibility, in relation to persons with disabilities, everyone in this House is happy, content and joyous to see a move forward in the right direction. There is no question that all of us would want to see more movement on this subject, but I do have questions.
    I was left with questions after speaking with ministerial staff, as well as the minister who was kind enough to reach out to me for a phone call this week. I have questions after the minister's speech, after the introduction of the bill, and after the tabling of the bill in June.
     When will these new regulations actually come into effect? There is a six-year time frame on the funding, which would suggest that this entire process could take another six years, after the bill becomes law.
    How much will this bill cost the federal coffers, as well as private businesses across this country?
    What are the new standards? What will they actually look like? Will they reflect what is in Ontario, Nova Scotia, or British Columbia? Those three provinces, quite frankly, are leading the country. Why are we voting on this legislation without understanding what those new regulations and standards will be? How do we as parliamentarians effectively communicate what this bill actually means to Canadians if we do not know what those standards and regulations will be?
    What is the $290 million for? Is there a breakdown of how that money will be spent? That is a question I asked last night at the briefing.
    Do we have estimates or examples of the potential costs to the private sector? When asked last night, ministerial staff said that they do not. However, there are three provinces that have put incredible legislation in place, groundbreaking legislation, sometimes too quickly, sometimes too slowly, but there are examples we can learn from and that data has not been provided to members of this House.
    What tangible effect will this have on day one? What does this change mean on day one, upon assent?
    These are serious questions that we need answers to as we go through this process, as we go through the committee stage, and as we come back to the House, so that we, as members of this House, can provide correct, legitimate information, not just to the private sector companies that will be affected, not just to the government agencies that will be affected, but to Canadians who are living with disabilities, Canadians who worry about accessibility, and the family members of those individuals.
     We need to be able to provide very current, structured information to ensure that this is not just another piece of legislation that may go somewhere some day.

  (1555)  

    I firmly believe, as a parliamentarian, that the opportunity to vote on this bill and to understand the standards would significantly improve my ability to do my job, but also improve the speed at which we affect Canadians with disabilities, we effect change in such a significant area.
    In 2016-17, Global Affairs Canada spent $4.2 billion on foreign aid. I could run through all of it, and it ranges from Afghanistan at $232 million right down to Colombia at $66 million. However, when I asked the question to the Library of Parliament about how much money we spend each and every year on accessibility and Canadians with disabilities, across departments because there is the department but there is also money spent in other areas on this specific item, I could not be given an exact answer.
    Bill C-81 proposes we spend $290 million. There would also be a bump-up in funding for the enabling accessibility fund, but the $290 million would not go directly to helping Canadians with disabilities. It would go to things like audits to figure out perhaps what changes need to be made in government buildings. Perhaps it would go to consultants to say which buildings we are going to look at on a go-forward basis versus those that we are going to retrofit. We still do not have a breakdown of where these dollars would actually end up. We know they would end up hiring more public servants, and specifically those who are living with disabilities. I do not think anybody in this House would ever say anything negative about hiring somebody with a disability and being able to bring that culture within the arms of government.
     However, the $290 million does not even scratch the surface of what it will cost the government and the taxpayers and the federally regulated private sector to catch up to these new standards. I am not saying it is too expensive to do; I do not want to be misinterpreted here. I am saying that in order to effectively fulfill what we are trying to achieve, which is bettering life for persons with disabilities, we need to be able to eloquently, clearly and with clarity explain what these changes would mean to individuals, to businesses and to government. We know how much we spend on foreign aid, and I hope we can find out how much we are spending on Canadians with disabilities. We know how much we are willing to spend abroad on non-Canadian citizens. I hope we can find out how much we spend on some of Canada's most at risk.
    As many of us know, this legislation was introduced in June 2018, two and a half years after the government took power. It is only after three cabinet shuffles that we finally get to the place where we are now. I do not blame the minister for that. Certainly some of those circumstances were challenging for the government. Why has it taken so long for legislation to finally be introduced? The first mandate letter called for this work to begin in November 2015. In fact, the Liberal platform called for this work to happen. Each mandate letter since has called on the minister to be responsible to continue the consultation process and to produce legislation. Now we have this bill in front of us, and we can know and see that all it does is actually call for more consultation and for the regulatory process changes to begin being looked at. It would not actually bring those changes to Canadians.

  (1600)  

    Therefore, after three years, after a price tag of $290 million, after saying we are going to hire 5,000 new public servants, we still do not know what the tangible effect on Canadians living with disabilities would be, what effect it would have when they are in a Service Canada building, what effect it would have when they are dealing with perhaps transportation at a local airport. It is still not here three years on. How could this be considered sufficient? When the minister said it has been slow, she is correct. It has actually been non-existent. There is $290 million more, and we still do not have those tangible results.
    I will give an example of how quickly things get done when the will exists within the government. This is not a challenge to the minister but rather to the government as a whole.
    During the 2008 election, the Conservative Party, under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper, promised it would introduce the registered disability savings plan, RDSP. That election was in October. By December of that exact same year, the RDSP was introduced and available for Canadians to take advantage of, so 60 days or two months later. Here we are three years later without a single, standard or regulatory change to actually be able to point to. That monumental change under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper took under three months. By the time this bill passes, it will have taken three years. An important thing to remember is that this legislation will not change anything once it becomes law in terms of regulation and standards; rather, it asks that the government find out what regulations and standards it would like to produce. On top of the three years it took to get to this point, Canadians might have to wait another six years before these new regulations take effect, this with a $290-million consultation taking place.
    When you take a wider look over the past three years at what the government has done on this file, so far it is more harm than good: the clawback of the DTC and RDSP; the ability for Canadians to access those tax savings vehicles; the challenges that lay ahead for Canadians living with disabilities to be able to save, to be able to have a secure financial future; and, for those who no longer qualified for the disability tax credit, to have their RDSP perhaps clawed back. This is the legacy that we have seen from the government since 2015, yet in every single mandate letter the Prime Minister has called for continued consultation toward crafting this legislation. What we did not realize is the crafting of the legislation would be more consultation. We now have this legislation and $290 million and it is more consultation. How does evermore consultation help Canadians with disabilities today? I do not think we should ever stop consulting. However, at some point there needs to be a tangible standard change, there needs to be a tangible regulatory change that we can hang our hat on, that we can say, “This is what we are doing to improve the lives of Canadians who are living with disabilities to improve accessibility across this country.”
    This legislation was touted by the government as the most historic piece of legislation for Canadians with disabilities since Confederation. However, I have not been told one single tangible change that this bill brings into effect. We all around this House, from every party, want to help Canadians living with disabilities. There is support from every corner of this institution for legislation that helps Canadians with disabilities. However, all this legislation represents is going away and creating a plan. What has the government been doing on this file for the last three years if it has to spend $290 million to create a plan?

  (1605)  

    The previous government introduced the RDSP, which quickly gave Canadians with disabilities better financial security. It was established in 2008, and 105,000 of these accounts were set up. Over $1 billion has been added to the savings of Canadians with disabilities.
    In the last year alone, we have had two Conservative members of Parliament and a New Democrat introduce private members' bills aimed at easing the lives of Canadians living with disabilities, and accessibility to government programs.
    We have seen the member for Carleton introduce legislation, trying to secure the financial future. Not just the financial future in terms of savings through government programs, but also the financial future of Canadians living with disabilities to be able to grow into the private sector without being hurt or pushed aside by the existing boxes in government programming. We have seen a member from Calgary bring forward a bill with regard to Canadians living with rare diseases. We have seen a bill come forward in terms of accessibility to Canadian websites for those living with disabilities.
    We have seen these pieces come forward from all around the House, and this goes to show that we all want to see movement. The problem is that this bill is not movement. This bill is a plan to one day, potentially, maybe, hopefully get to movement.
    The government could not build an ice rink on time and on budget. How can we expect it to properly manage this file? Why is it that we as parliamentarians, after we pass this bill, and the regulations and standards have then gone out, sought after, drafted, taking three, five or six years, do not have the ability to see them again?
    The request through this bill is that we give a blank cheque in terms of the standards and regulations. I know that all around this House we want to do everything that we can to make lives easier, to break some of the cycles that affect persons with disabilities in regard to poverty and accessibility.
    However, we must do this responsibly. We must do this working with private sector. We must do this working with government institutions. We must do this working with persons with disabilities, setting a timeline, setting measurables in place so they understand what effect this is going to have on their lives. We must ensure, going forward, that each and every interaction, especially with a federal government institution or at a federal government building, is one that is with respect and dignity.
    That is what everybody expects in the House of Commons of our government. It is what everybody in the House of Commons expects of our private sector. We must be responsible with our conduct and how we move forward at this point.
    I still have major concerns with how we end up in a process where we say “Yes” as a Parliament but have no idea what the effects of the bill will be. It is incredible.
    As we look forward to the next election, I would like nothing more than to go to Canadians and say, “This is what we are spending your money on, and these are the tangible effects it is going to have on persons with disabilities.” I would like nothing more than to call my own mother and say, “These are the things we are doing to make life easier for people like you.” I would like nothing more than that. However, I do not know what we are doing, because it is not in the bill.
    I want to end today, perhaps being a bit negative at times in this speech. However, at the same time, it is important that we hold our government to account, and it is important to this process that we actually get the best piece of legislation we can, moving forward.
    To the minister, I want to say, “Thank you. I look forward to working with you. I certainly appreciate you reaching out to me earlier this week.”

  (1610)  

    The member knows he needs to address comments and questions to the Chair, and not to the individual members.
    Madam Speaker, I was a little dismayed by my honourable colleague's comments. Maybe I should say I was dismayed a lot, because if we get this legislation through, which we need everyone in the House to co-operate on, it would be so impactful for people with disabilities across Canada. It is the most important legislation for people with disabilities in over 30 years. It cannot be understated that other governments have not been able to get this far. We are moving quickly, and I know you do not think it is quick enough.
    As the mother of someone who has learning disabilities, I know I want things to move faster. However, this is a progressive bill, and we need you to understand that everything good takes time. We need to get it right.
    Does the hon. member not agree with that?
    Again, I want to remind the member that she is to address all of her questions and comments to the Chair. If MPs would stop using the word “you”, it would probably save a lot of headaches.
    The hon. member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.
    Madam Speaker, I promise I will not say it incorrectly anymore.
    First of all, yes, of course we want to get this legislation right. If the reality is that the government is not comfortable that the standards it has in mind are correct, it should wait until it has them right and then bring them back so that members will know what we are voting on. Members can then go back to Canadians in their ridings across the country and tell them what tangible effects would happen or the changes that would take place to improve their lives thanks to the said legislation.
    Unfortunately, that is just not what we have seen to date. If this information exists, I certainly welcome it. Any time the member would like to provide more data to me, I am looking for it. At this point, it has not been provided.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my honourable colleague for his interest in moving forward an agenda to make lives better for persons living with disabilities. In our party, we have a persons living with disabilities caucus, so I do not need the governing party to provide me with information. I get my information from non-partisan groups, and a lot of times it is our NDP caucus for persons living with disabilities that flags these kinds of issues for us.
    I am sure one of the issues the member is cognizant of is that we did ratify, under the Conservative government, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons Living with Disabilities. After doing so, there was no movement to implement it, and not a penny was put into a fund to implement it over those 10 years. I have heard he is close, as I am, to people living with disabilities. We all have people in our lives with disabilities, and I am sure the member has these people in his constituency.
    What does the member think should happen next? I am sure he has some tangible ideas on what he would like to see happen next for this to move forward. I would be very interested to hear them.
    Madam Speaker, I could certainly hear from the members of her caucus, as well as different groups she has been able to consult with over the country on this subject. However, the member's response does not provide any clarity whatsoever as to the tangible regulations that would result.
    The question asked of me was what tangible changes I would like made to the bill, as I understood it, versus what is currently in front of me. I have been very clear to this point as to the changes I would like to see. I would like to understand what the effects would be, what the standards and regulations are going to be, so that we can communicate these changes to Canadians before we pass the bill, not six years afterwards.

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, it is interesting that during the hon. member's speech he talked about the tangible things the government is doing, and then followed that with, “name me the other tangible things”. That is an interesting way to go about things.
     He asked why it is taking so long. The goal is to get this right. There are so many groups, so many individuals, and so many different kinds of disabilities and different types of stakeholders that need to be discussed. The government worked with those stakeholders and we heard back. From the MS Society of Canada, for example, we heard that the bill would work actively to remove barriers and promote inclusion of Canadians living with disabilities, including those that are episodic in nature, such as MS. From Spinal Cord Injury Canada, we heard that the proposed legislation “represents the most important federal legislative advancement of disability rights in Canada in over 30 years.” I can go on and on with the organizations that have praised the minister and the government for bringing this bill forward.
    Would the hon. member support this bill, bring it forward and call for it to go to committee as quickly as possible?
    Madam Speaker, of course I will support this getting to committee, but there are questions that need to be answered along the way. Those questions have not been answered to date. We have not seen any of the changes that are being presented or proposed. I would like to see that information either through some sort of interaction with the ministry or as a result of our asking the exact same questions at committee, trying to assess what this would look like for Canadians living with disabilities, what this would look like for the private sector and what the cost would be for the federal government going forward.
    Madam Speaker, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility is also, in effect, the landlord of this very building. I was recently speaking with the esteemed editor of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, Sixth Edition, who brought up the fact that the west elevator in this very building is out of service and has been since Parliament returned. I wonder if the member might have some comments on that.
    Madam Speaker, I certainly share the concerns about the elevator not working. It has had some ups and downs, no pun intended, over the years. I have actually been stuck in the elevator in question. I certainly hope that the government will take it seriously and get this dealt with so that it is easily accessed by all Canadians who are in our beautiful parliamentary building.
    Madam Speaker, I am intrigued by the member's comments. Here we have a historic moment inside the House of Commons today where we had a minister bring forward legislation that would have a profoundly positive impact on Canadians in every region of our country. I look to the member opposite and I reflect on the years that I sat in opposition when Stephen Harper was here, and I suspect many of the stakeholders would loved to have seen legislation of this nature back when Stephen Harper was the prime minister. Would the member not recognize that what we are witnessing today is something historic? It is very positive, it is a wonderful step forward and this is a good day for communities of disability and families, and in fact all Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, if we talk to Canadians we will hear that they expect results from us. They expect tangible, measurable results when a bill and a piece of legislation is coming forward. Unfortunately, we do not have that in this case. Going forward, what we will continue to call for is to understand what the results would be for Canadians in terms of the $290 million, in terms of 5,000 new positions, in terms of the cost to the private sector, in terms of the increased economic activity that could potentially come from this bill. Where are the data? Where is the information?

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, these proceedings on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, have the potential for tremendous historic significance. We are debating a bill that, if done properly, would create breakthrough legislation that would profoundly impact Canadian society for generations to come. I believe everyone in this chamber is cognizant of the importance of what we are doing here today. Therefore, I speak in support of this bill based on the premise the minister stated yesterday: to get it to committee as soon as possible so that we can make it as substantively great as we possibly can. I agree.
    This bill is not all that it needs to be as it stands now. It will require substantial amendments. While we commend the government for tabling it, this bill will need to be altered dramatically in order to become good legislation. That is why New Democrats commit today to working with the government to provide good-faith amendments so that Bill C-81 can become the historic accessibility legislation that persons living with disabilities in Canada deserve.
    New Democrats have long been committed to the rights of people with disabilities. It has been our long-standing position that all of government, every budget, every policy and regulation, every grant should be viewed through a disability lens. Our ultimate goal has always been to help foster a society in which all citizens are able to participate fully and equally. We believe that this cannot even begin to happen until all of our institutions are open and completely accessible to everyone.
    In fact, New Democrats have supported the establishment of a Canadians with disabilities act for many years, and the call for a CDA can be found in our 2015 election platform. CDA uses the language of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It was an early warning when that language was switched out in favour of an accessibility act, but I was assured that was because an accessibility act would meet and reach beyond the UN convention, which Canada is a state party to. It makes sense that any accessibility bill tabled by the government should essentially be enabling legislation for Canada's obligation to fulfill the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
    Canada ratified this convention in 2010, but until now, has done nothing to bring our laws into conformity with it. Indeed, I tabled a motion in this very chamber, Motion No. 56, that calls on the government to implement these obligations. The convention sets out the legal obligations of states to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. It does not create new rights. There are a number of principles and articles within the CRPD that are extremely important to people with disabilities. These principles address rights, such as the ability to live independently, freedom from exploitation and violence, the right to an adequate standard of living, social protections and more.
    Rather than considering disability an issue of medicine, charity or dependency, the convention challenges people worldwide to understand disability as a human rights issue. It establishes that discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the rights, inherent dignity and worth of the human person.
    The convention covers many areas where obstacles can arise, such as physical access to buildings, roads and transportation, and access to information through written, electronic and alternative forms of communication. The convention also aims to reduce stigma and discrimination, which are often reasons people with disabilities are excluded from education, employment, health and other services. It is crucial that societies eliminate these forms of discrimination, not just because doing so is the right thing to do, but because it will enable a previously ignored and sizeable section of our population to contribute their talents and abilities to the betterment of us all. Everybody wins when everyone is able to contribute.

  (1625)  

     It is important here to note that the convention is our ideal. It is up to governments to bridge the distance between these ideals and the lived reality of people living with disabilities. We debate one such bridge here today.
    While the NDP supports Bill C-81, we do so with the understanding that it will not fulfill our obligations to the CRPD. It is one step in the right direction and I celebrate that significant step. Why? Let me tell the House some of the reasons.
    First of all, it is the most comprehensive federal bill addressing issues faced by Canadians living with disabilities to be tabled in this House in over 30 years. This alone is significant. The previous government had 10 years' worth of opportunities to bring forward a national act and it emphatically chose not to.
    Bill C-81's very title trumpets a worthy ambition, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. The stated purpose of Bill C-81 is to create a barrier-free Canada “through the proactive identification, removal, and prevention of barriers to accessibility wherever Canadians interact with areas under federal jurisdiction.”
    Creating a barrier-free Canada is indeed my intent and why the NDP seeks amendments. We will work with the government to fine-tune this bill so that it truly realizes its own stated ambitions, until it becomes the kind of landmark legislation that people living with disabilities deserve.
    Bill C-81 will establish several important new officials and agencies. These include a new accessibility commissioner for enforcement, a new Canadian accessibility standards development organization, which will elaborate model accessibility standards that the government can enact as regulations, and a new chief accessibility officer to advise and report on progress and needed improvements. It even creates a formal complaint process and a review process to gauge the bill's effectiveness over time. These two processes are especially crucial for a bill like this to have successful outcomes.
     It is vital that a feedback loop be established between those who are to benefit from the bill and the bodies responsible for administering it. A complaint process allows for this, and the review process will allow for proper responses to the bill's shortcomings as they are discovered. Yes, these sections of the bill are both commendable and important. However, there are sections of Bill C-81 that I believe miss the mark and that undermine the bill's own stated goals. These are the provisions that I and my party will work in good faith with this government to fix, should our efforts be welcome.
    Most obviously concerning is the bill's lack of mandatory timelines for implementation. It allows but does not require the government to adopt accessibility standards, and yet does not impose a time frame within which implementation is to happen. Without these, the implementation process, even its start-up initializing process, could drag on for years. Curiously, neither does the bill require all federal government laws, policies and programs to be vetted through a disability lens. This seems a strange omission indeed. I respect the current accessibility minister's commitment to this file and can only assume that this is an accidental oversight which she will correct immediately.
     It might be helpful here to take a moment and explain to those listening just what is meant by the term “disability lens”. In this context, the disability lens is a way to examine public policy. It helps lawmakers such as myself make sure that when a new law, regulatory measure, course of action and funding priority is being debated or implemented, the needs of persons living with disabilities are taken into consideration. Just stopping to ask whether people with disabilities are even considered over the course of the policy's formulation can go a long way to making it better and more just.

  (1630)  

    I like the succinct way the Council for Canadians with Disabilities promotes using a disability lens. It encourages us to ask a series of questions.
    Does the policy view disabled people as members of a minority group with special needs, or does it view disability as one of many variables in the population and thus aim to structure society so as to ensure universal access and coverage?
    How would the policy relate to other policies, legislation, regulations and programs within the jurisdiction in question? How would it relate to others, or even within the same ministry?
    This is another important consideration. Who will win and who will lose when this policy is implemented? How will the allocation of resources be affected by this policy? How will this impact other disability groups?
    Of notable concern is that Bill C-81 would allow, but again would not require, the minister to work with provincial and territorial governments to improve accessibility. It would be absurd for a national accessibility act in a country such as ours with our unique brand of federalism not to include a requirement to work with provincial and territorial governments to improve accessibility.
    The Council of Canadians with Disabilities has been a great resource for me as well. Another non-partisan resource I appreciate is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance for its analysis of this legislation. Its outstanding work allows government representatives, bureaucrats and members of Parliament to do our jobs better when it comes to developing policy and law that provides meaningful impact.
    One issue of great concern regarding Bill C-81 is the way in which it would give various public bodies sweeping and unaccountable powers to exempt any or all obligated organizations from a number of important obligations under the bill. This is especially concerning because it has been my experience that where such exemptions exist, they will be used.
    Section 46 of the bill, for example, empowers the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, CRTC, to totally exempt any obligated organization it wishes within its mandate from any or all of the accessibility plan requirements. Worse still, the bill provides no means by which persons with disabilities can register their concerns before a decision is made to grant an exemption. This is deeply troubling.
    Also problematic is that another section of Bill C-81 gives the federal cabinet the power to make regulations that can exempt any obligated organizations from a wide range of obligations under the act. The bill would allow cabinet to do this, and it need not provide any reasons when it does. Seriously, if cabinet is allowed to do this, why are we here today?
    I also find it perplexing that while the bill requires obligated organizations to establish accessibility plans, it does not require these plans to be good plans. It does not require an obligated organization to implement its accessibility plan. This is more and more curious.
    Potentially quite troubling is a situation created in section 172 whereby a regulation created by the Canadian Transportation Agency for example, without debate, could end up trumping obligations under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It should be a basic principle of Bill C-81 that no provisions therein supersede any human rights. This is a perfect example of some of the technical issues that need to be addressed, and I want our stakeholders who understand the impact of this troublesome section to know that we will seek to have it removed.
    The bill likewise separates enforcement and implementation in a confusing way over a tangle of different public enforcement agencies rather than providing people with disabilities with the simple one-stop enforcement they need. The CRTC will provide enforcement for its obligated organizations and so too will the Canadian Transportation Agency.

  (1635)  

    The bill does this, despite the reality that both the CRTC and the CTA have an unsatisfactory track record when it comes to enforcing accessibility over many years. As this is not a new problem, it boggles the imagination as to why the important bill does not address the core problem. It is absolutely vital that persons with disabilities and stakeholder groups be able to navigate our federal system in order to effectively realize their rights and also that the various agencies and institutions are able to respond to criticisms.
    Moreover, this snarl of enforcement and administration will result in very similar regulations being enacted by the very different agencies involved rather than by one single agency. The duplication will not just risk inconsistencies, it will create them, causing even further delays. The predictable result is the real possibility that some sectors of the economy will have these regulations ready for them before some other sectors.
    The bill should be looking to eliminate the interdepartmental patchwork system that is already in place rather than making it more complex. We simply must fix it. Many of us who follow these issues were seriously expecting that Bill C-81 would include provisions to simplify these processes.
    Earlier this year, a private member's bill of mine, Bill C-348, was debated in the House. It was designed to create a one-stop shop at the individual level to make it significantly easier for persons living with disabilities to navigate the programs available to them from the federal government. At present, persons with disabilities have to prove that they are disabled each time they apply for a federal benefit and with each separate application will typically have to pay a doctor for each time there is paperwork involved. This is an unnecessarily punitive system for so vulnerable a population.
    My bill, of course, was voted down by the government. It was not a whipped vote, yet every Liberal member in the House that evening voted against it, every single one. I had hoped that such discipline on the part of the governing party meant that they perhaps knew something I did not know, that perhaps this upcoming accessibility bill would include provisions to streamline these processes, but no, this was not the case.
    The complaint process will also be unnecessarily confusing. The splintering of the implementation and enforcement mandate will substantially weaken the bill. The likelihood of this creating confusion among many, including public servants, obligated organizations, and people with disabilities and their advocates who come to the federal government seeking justice is all but certain.
    Stakeholder groups and disability advocates know from brute experience that this confusion will force them to run from enforcement agency to enforcement agency with their complaints, going around in circles. “Sorry, no, wrong agency” they will be told, they have to go to transportation. Persons living with disabilities have had enough of this particular brand of bureaucratic confusion. We know this is a problem. Let us fix this too.
    I would also like to note that Canada's hearing impaired community has asked the government repeatedly that the Official Languages Act be amended to have American sign language and Quebec sign language designated as official languages so that accessible communication is taken seriously.
    This sets the course for the direction of the NDP. This is where we are going in our support to bring the bill to committee. There are many provisions we will be looking to amend. Those that I mentioned here today are merely broad strokes of what we in the progressive opposition are committed to standing up for and remedying.
    In closing, I would also urge the committee to hold its meetings in different places across this country. As the most significant piece of disability legislation since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we owe it to Canadians living with disabilities and the people who care about them to demonstrate our intention for meaningful legislation that fully includes every Canadian in the participation of our society.

  (1640)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her encouragement and support with respect to Bill C-81.
    Like me, I know she has heard from so many Canadians, particularly those living with disabilities, about the need to be involved in the creation and implementation of accessibility standards. I would ask her if she agrees with the model of CASDO, the Canadian accessibility standards development organization, where the majority of the board members have lived experience, where they collaborate with industry to develop the standards so it works in real life, or if perhaps there is another model she likes better, because this is what we heard from the disability community was the best way forward.
    Madam Speaker, I am so inspired by the work the minister is doing and her bravery in doing some really groundbreaking work.
    I understand how important it is for those of us who sincerely want to see impactful change to work in a collegial way on these amendments together. I absolutely agree with her that these resources and models are there and we need people with lived experience to actually be a part of policy creation.
    In my speech, I took great care to go into detail about a disability lens in the way we view people with disabilities. They are one variable among many in how we are all unique in our society. A universal access approach is extremely important. I look forward to working on the committee and with the minister and her staff so we can have some workable amendments that reflect this.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague mentioned the UN convention on disabilities, and I wonder, if she had the ability, what priority actions the NDP would want to have the government take on that.
    Madam Speaker, some of the easy ones, some of the low-lying fruit, which I did mention in my speech are things like when one is required to design an accessibility plan one is required to implement it. That is a no-brainer. I would reiterate the reflection that no one gets sweeping powers and exemptions. There are a few of these. I do not want to get too technical. I hesitate now because my brain goes into the technical and I know that is not very interesting to listeners.
    If a decision is made, people need to have a place to appeal that decision. People need to know the reason. Right now those provisions are not consistent. There are exemptions and there are places people can go where human rights are trumped by the protocol that someone gets to make a decision and there is no appeal process for someone with a disability. Those, to me, touch on some of the core issues within the UN convention.
    Madam Speaker, I am so glad to hear that the hon. member is supportive of this legislation. I think she said, “Everyone wins when everyone can participate”, and that is so true. The hon. member also mentioned that this is a step in the right direction and the opposition will work with the government to fine-tune it. That is what we need to do as we move this bill through the committee process.
    I want to clarify one point she mentioned in her speech. She talked about how bureaucracy can really be a problem for people with disabilities. No doubt it is and has been for many years. The one thing we are hoping this legislation would do is to actually mean there would be no closed door. If a person with a disability goes to a federal agency and wants to lodge a complaint but it is not the right agency, the person would not be told that he or she has to go somewhere else. It would be up to that agency to talk to the other agency and make sure the complaint is processed.
    That is part of the legislation that is so important because we know that barriers have been put in place over the years. Our role and our job is to break down the barriers. Would the member agree that this is a step in the right direction?

  (1645)  

    Madam Speaker, I do not want to give a blunt answer that the approach, as I said in my speech, is misguided. This gives me an opportunity to say this is why, as the minister mentioned, it is important to have the input of people with lived experience, because I have every confidence they will demonstrate for us that there is a better model, a better way for us to do this. This is where we need to make an amendment on paper that says we have more options and open doors. It is actually through speaking to people with lived experience today that we will find that maybe we have been misguided in that approach and there are ways that amendments can at least clean this up.
    It is hard for the bureaucrats as well who have to work on the front lines. I am sure that all of you have had the opportunity to speak with those people.
    I will leave it at that.
    I would remind members that they may want to stay away from the word “you”, because all of the questions and comments should be addressed to the chair and it would make life so much easier.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his speech, but especially for his dedication to this file.
    When Quebeckers hear the name Pierre Nadeau, they think of a great journalist who had a following on television and radio, but in Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, Pierre Nadeau, above all else, is known as a prominent, social neighbour who loves to talk. I am not sure exactly what kind of disability he has, but he has some form of aphasia. He gets around using a mobility scooter and he is very active. He is a development officer at AILIA, a Quebec association whose mission is to make housing, including social housing, more accessible for those who need it.
    Nearly half a million people in the greater Longueuil area do not have access to the Montreal metro because there is no elevator access to the Longueuil metro platform. Even if, by some miracle, someone manages to get on, there is no elevator at the central hub, Berri-UQAM.
    Does my colleague think that this new legislation will fix these unjust situations?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his dedication and interest on this file and for being responsive to the people in his constituency as we try to make lives better for people living with disabilities.
    A new agency is being established that is going to develop some of the model standards. I hope that they will reflect global standards, because we are already seeing that we are the beneficiaries of the work that other countries have done. People who travel in Canada and stay in American hotel chains have seen elevator buttons with braille on them. The corporations that do this kind of development said that they are going to have one standard and apply it in every country. Global investors like to see national standards that are reflected globally. It is easy and good for them.
    For housing, it is the same thing. The developers in all constituencies are local guys who know their trade. They want to build accessible homes. They ask to be told what to do and plans are found for them. They want to do it, but they need us to provide these proven plans. It is so easy. People are eager, but we have to show them what we expect and they will meet those standards.

  (1650)  

[Translation]

    Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni, Indigenous Affairs; the hon. member for Essex, International Trade; and the hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, Natural Resources.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.
    I want to say at the outset that I am pleased to see that the minister has brought forward this bill. I have absolutely no doubt about her sincerity in trying to improve the lives of people with disabilities. I too am aligned in that direction. I have listened carefully to the debate we have had so far talking about how to get people with disabilities the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens, how to make sure they are able to live independently and how to make sure they are free from violence. I am aligned in all those things. I think I have heard that all the parties in the House are aligned in how we improve the lives of people with disabilities, and what we can we do with this bill to make sure it is effective.
    When it comes to deciding to tackle an issue, with my engineering perspective I will ask what it is we are trying to do. I think it is trying to get people to be able to live independently, to have the same rights and responsibilities as others and to be free from violence. What is the plan to make that happen? What mechanisms will we put in place in order to make sure the money or the incentives flow so the behaviours of people will take root?
    In my speech, I am going to talk a bit about what has happened in the past and what the Conservatives did. Then I will talk a little about the Liberal record. Then I will talk about the situation in my own riding, some ideas about possible solutions and some concerns I have with the legislation as it is written today.
    I know things were going on to help improve accessibility when the Conservatives were in power. Although I was not here myself, I saw all the announcements and improvements happening in my own riding of Sarnia—Lambton, where multiple millions of dollars were spent to upgrade different buildings to ensure they were accessible for people in wheelchairs and to put different aids in place to help people with disabilities. I note that was going on.
    At the same time, we have heard other members in the House talk about the Conservative Party's introduction of the registered disability savings plan in 2008. This plan is quite a rich plan. I looked at the details of it when we were addressing an issue that I will talk about later. However, this is a plan where a disabled person can put in up to $5,000 a year and the government will match it threefold. That program has been going on for almost 10 years. Although it has not come to the point where people are collecting from the program, it is a very well thought out way of ensuring people with disabilities will have the wherewithal to retire in dignity.
     I see that and see the efforts of the member for Carleton, who brought forward a very intelligent bill aimed at addressing the problem people with disabilities have when they want to go work and their benefits are clawed back. In some cases, the money they are getting from other disability programs is clawed back. I was really disappointed in the extreme that every Liberal in the place rejected that private member's bill. That bill would have been such a help to people with disabilities. We talked as well about the member for Calgary Shepard bringing forward a private member's bill on rare diseases, which was also rejected. I just heard a member from the NDP talking about her bill being rejected.
    This is where one really has to question people's motives. When people say one thing and do another, they are likely to be called hypocrites. When I look at the Liberals, I see there is a lot of talking about helping people with disabilities, but then we look at the record of what has happened since the election in 2015. The first member who had the portfolio to do something here on accessibility, or helping the disabled, was the member for Calgary Centre. It was in the mandate letter, yet nothing was done. That member is also a person who has lived experience as a person with disabilities, but nothing was done. It was not a priority.

  (1655)  

    It was then passed along to the member for Etobicoke North. However, I do sympathize with her. She is the Minister of Science and has a lot of very important things to do which, of course, I, as a fellow science person, cannot criticize. Again, nothing really came forward.
    Then when I looked at the bill to see what was in it, I thought that perhaps there would be a lot of infrastructure money. We know there are a lot of buildings that are not accessible and they need a lot of money in order to repair them so they will be accessible. In some cases, those could be incentives. There is a number of ways that could be done, but nothing in the bill talks about that.
     In fact, the bill has sort of an element of what the minister's powers would be. It has an element of a standards organization that can talk about what the right thing to do would be. There are mechanisms in the bill to complain. There are mechanisms in it to inspect. However, there are no action words. There is really no doing of anything. It is going to be consulting and spending a few more years to try to figure out what we should do, when we already know some of the things we should do. Some of the things we should do involves investing the same kind of infrastructure money that was previously done under the Conservatives.
    I have heard the government speak about the $180 billion of infrastructure money that it will invest over the next number of years. In fact, the Liberals got elected on a promise to spend very small deficits in order to put infrastructure in place. That was going to create jobs and drive the economy and repair our roads and bridges, etc. None of that ever happened. My point is that there was a lot of infrastructure money that was planned to be spent. Even though the government has had difficulty getting that accomplished, as I think it has only spent about 40% of what it planned, it has still racked up way more deficit but not on the intended things.
    There is an opportunity for the government to do something immediately with respect to infrastructure to improve accessibility. Those are things where the building codes exist today. The specifications exist today. The standards exist today. No work needs to be done to consult anybody on that or have new standard organizations to do it. This already exists. All it really needs is political will to put that money in place.
     Instead, the government has basically a different political will, if we look at where the billions of dollars that the government is spending is going: $4.2 billion on foreign aid; $2.65 billion on climate change support for foreign countries like China and India; $5 billion for the Syrian refugees; $1 billion for the asylum seekers; and multiple billions of other things that are spread around the world but not for Canadians and not for the disabled. When we look at where time, energy and money is put, that determines what our values are or what our priorities are.
    It has been three years before seeing any kind of legislation and the legislation does not have any strong actions in it. It is more of “we'll put structures in place to consult”. I really question whether there is enough political will to achieve good outcomes here.
    As I mentioned, I have some good examples from my riding that I can share. I know that the previous member of Parliament, Pat Davidson, was very active. She really cared about improving accessibility. Elevators were put in multiple buildings. We had accessibility all over the county of Lambton. As well, we have upgraded many of the schools to be accessible.
    The Sarnia Arena is going under remediation. I was there for an event this past weekend and all of the entrances and front sidewalks, etc. have been improved for accessibility and all of the standards have been met.
    Not everything is wonderful in my riding. We have a situation in Port Lambton where the post office, which is a Crown corporation and is under the legislation being proposed, is not accessible. It has been there for a long period of time and was grandfathered, but it is not accessible. We are having a municipal election and people are going to have to go to Canada Post to vote. In Port Lambton that is pretty much all there is. However, it is not accessible. People have known about it for a long time. My office has called and nagged and has been told that they will get to it. However, no one has got to it.

  (1700)  

    Here is an example where the solution is known. It just needs to get done and it needs to get done in a hurry. Again, where is the will to force these solutions to happen?
    I have a tremendously great example of a fellow named Dan Edwards in my riding. Unfortunately, he had an accident which rendered him unable to walk and left him in a wheelchair. He has been super inspirational in the riding. He does fundraising for mental health efforts and different things.
     This is one of the things he did. We have a fundraiser in Sarnia—Lambton called the Dream Home. It is a fundraiser for the hospital. He decided to get together with the architect who was going to build the latest Dream Home for a lottery to raise money for the hospital and decided to make it a visitable home. A visitable home is a home where any person in a wheelchair would be fully able to access everything, from cooking to the entrances. Everything is ground floor. It is very well done.
    I had the opportunity to tour the home and see what he and architect had designed together. He shared with me a lot of information about the very many plans like this. It is quite possible. We have these solutions that we could put in place to allow people to live independently. That would be great. Again, money and political will is some of what is required here.
    The other piece of advice I would give with respect to solutions and rolling out the infrastructure money is to ensure that it is well-distributed. Of the $180 billion that was announced over 10 years, only $2 billion of that was earmarked for rural communities. When we look at improving accessibility, I think we will find that there is even more need in the rural communities. In many cases, they have grandfathered their buildings. There are more older buildings, and they have not been made accessible. As well, there is less of a population base to bring in the revenue to do these things of their own volition. That needs to be considered.
    With respect to some concerns about the legislation, $290 million has been proposed. I heard discussion earlier about 5,000 new public servants. I was not clear if that was 5,000 public servants with disabilities who would be hired while attrition happened, so over time, or whether that was 5,000 additional public service employees. Of course, I would be opposed to increasing the size of government.
    Another concern I have with the bill has to do with leaving things for the regulations. As a parliamentarian, and a detailed-oriented one, I do not like to leave things to chance. I have seen before, under some of the legislation that the Liberals have brought forward, where it is all left to regulation.
     With Bill S-5, for example, the Liberals decided, from the plain packaging and the vaping, they were going to leave a lot of it to the regulations. We were approving a bill, and as the point was made, that we really did not know what the final outcomes would be. We were going to leave it to the regulation.
    In the example of Bill S-5, the Liberals want to go to a plain package. The dimensions of the plain package are produced by machines that are obsolete, that are no longer owned by anybody who is legitimately in the business. The Liberals have given businesses six months to convert.
    They would have to redesign the old, obsolete machines and get them built somewhere, and that is certainly an 18-month deal, or they would have to be shut down altogether in order to achieve this plain packaging goal, or let them use the existing size. That is an example of where when things are left to regulations, they do not always get done the way that we might want. That is why parliamentary oversight is important.
    Bill C-45, the cannabis legislation, is another example where the Liberals decided to leave a lot of the details to the regulation. The problem is that the regulations did not come out quickly enough to address all the unanswered questions that were still out there. Now we are left with a situation where we will legalize on October 17, and there is still a huge number of things that are not addressed in the regulations. Again, there is no parliamentary oversight to talk about them.
    This point came up again on Bill S-228 with the regulation that we most recently talked about, which is the one that prohibits the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. Instead of defining what the healthy foods are, the comment was that it would be left to the regulations.

  (1705)  

    As parliamentarians, we have a right to know what that list will be and have some opportunity to object or give input if we do not agree. By leaving it to the regulations, we would be passing a blank bill that says we would be doing something. We have no idea what the something is and we have no input on the something, but we are expected to vote in favour of it. I have an issue with that.
    When it comes to accessibility, we have been much too slow in moving forward and addressing these things. For example, there are a lot of the grandfathered buildings. My mother is 84 and walks with a rollator. There are a lot of places she cannot go because of staircases or it is too narrow to get through. Something needs to be done there and I look forward to seeing what solutions will be brought forward are.
    I will talk a little about some of the things the government could do that would make people have more faith in its wanting to help disabled people.
    Members may remember when I was here on a Friday, asking a question about the disability tax credit. Through that whole event, we found out that where 80% of people with type 2 diabetes were previously approved, all of a sudden 80% were disapproved. We raised the concern, and the Liberal government insisted that nothing had changed. Of course, as the scandal went on, it came out that indeed things had changed. There were instructions given to interpret the criteria differently, and it went very broad. It affected not just people with diabetes but people with other disabilities, such as autism and mental disorders like bipolar. It took months and months to get justice for those people. This is what undermines people's faith that the government is sincere in its efforts to improve things for people with disabilities.
    I will give members another example. For people with multiple sclerosis, it can be very difficult, because people are not always be at the same degree of wellness. It is sort of intermittent where there may be periods where they cannot work and other times they may be fine.
     However, the current EI rules are not flexible enough to allow a person who has MS to be on EI and work intermittently, the same total benefits as someone who takes it consecutively would get. I raised this issue with the Minister of Labour. There is an easy fix there. If 670 hours of eligibility are required and there is a certain amount of hours that people get in benefits, then allow the intermittency. Those are the kinds of things we can do for people who have disabilities to be able to live independently, to work and to engage. We need to do that.
    I did take the point that was made earlier that no disability lens was used for the legislation. When we do legislation, we do it with a gender-based lens. Therefore, it is very appropriate here to take that recommendation from the member and put a disability lens in place.
    I also do not like the powers to exempt in the bill. I find that when we allow exemptions and have cabinet decide, we get into trouble. We saw this with the carbon tax. The government had the power to exempt and it decided to exempt the largest emitters up to 90% of their emissions. There is an example where having the power to exempt is really not what we want.
    In summary, I absolutely want to see persons with disabilities have the independence they need and have the help they need. However, it has to happen faster. I call on the government today to start putting money into infrastructure for accessibility and do the solutions that we already know about, while we craft improvements to the bill.

  (1710)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her interest and keen attention to detail on the bill.
    If members will indulge me, I would like to pay tribute to the late Hon. Jim Flaherty and acknowledge the work he did on the RDSP. That was a game changer. As someone with a disability, I admire the work he did, and it changed lives. I would like to put that on the record.
    I have a question for the member around the use of regulations and standards and some of the thinking behind that, being not putting specific technical details in law. The idea is that the standards organization might create a standard around the specific height of a counter or the specific Braille requirements on an ATM. Is it your suggestion that perhaps we should put that in law as opposed to establishing that through a more nimble, flexible organization? Where is the kind of sweet spot around certainty and flexibility and not being over technical in the bill?
    I will not tell the minister whether or not I am going to go that way. However, I would ask the minister to address the questions and comments to the Chair.
    The hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.
    Madam Speaker, I would say that one of the things that we need to get right is not to have different standards federally, provincially and municipally. A lot of times when it comes to accessibility standards, we will find there is a mismatch. Therefore, while I would not want to see 700 pages of technical detail go into a bill, because that would not be good, I think what should be clear is the pecking order in these things and how we are going to align them and what the constraints are. Is it accessibility or being able to get into a building and operate freely within the building? There needs to be language that describes exactly what the regulators are going to do and the scope of their work so that they do not wander too far from the intent of the bill.
    Madam Chair, I thank my hon. colleague for her speech and interest in how we advance accessibility for the lives of all Canadians.
    I agree that we need to have clear standards so that everyone can follow them. I am a big proponent of that. I have heard from people who are genuinely interested in doing their part. However, they need guidance. They do not want to just come up with something on their own, and the Liberals are expecting us to do that. It sounds like the member is somewhat enthusiastic for that also.
    In terms of the shortcomings, through you, Madam Speaker, I am interested in hearing the member's thoughts about a timeline and how we would best embark on that, because I think we all agree that we need to have something in place if we are actually going to get the dominoes rolling.
    Madam Speaker, I think what we should do is put in place two things, timelines and the specific scope. We do not need, for example, to consult more on what to do to make buildings accessible. Believe me, this has been exhausted to death. That is not what we need. If we are going to consult, let us be specific about what we are consulting to achieve. Are we consulting in order to allow people with disabilities to work independently, to live independently? Which parts of this are we going to do? Are we looking for solutions, like the member mentioned, for people who are looking for sign languages to be included in legislation? What is the scope of what the Liberals are going to do? Otherwise, the government will consult and consult, and it will be endless in scope and endless in topics. We need to be crisp on it, or allow free rein but allow only a limited amount of time, consulting for a year, for example, on the myriad of things it might want to bring as solutions, and then implement a plan.

  (1715)  

    Madam Speaker, the member for Sarnia—Lambton and I have had talks on health care and many other issues over the last three years. She is aware that I have a hearing impairment. She is very aware of that aspect. These are aspects that I look at in this bill specifically.
    She mentioned infrastructure and if we are looking at ramps or looking at rails, and things like that. However, my question really is about standards. I would like to hear a bit more of her thoughts. She touched on standards a bit. There is a difference between standards and regulations. Could she comment on that?
    Madam Speaker, I would say that when it comes to standards, a standard would say, for example, that if we are making an accessible curve the curvature has to be a certain angle, it has to be a certain width, and all of those kinds of things. That is a standard. A regulation is something that everyone has to do by such and such a date, or whatever. That is the difference I see: the standard is more of the technical “what is the right thing to do”, and the regulation is how we are going to enforce and police it.
    Madam Speaker, we do have some obvious agreement on this and we are looking forward to moving this legislation forward.
    The hon. member did say that she does not like exemptions and I want to explain why some exemptions may be necessary.
    The provisions are included in recognition of the fact that some organizations may have alternative methods of meeting the objectives of certain requirements, and some organizations may already have completed the requirements and are living up to existing accessibility standards in some of the provinces. Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and British Columbia have standards and are moving forward on that.
    Does the member not see why some exemptions may be necessary in a bill of this size?
    Madam Speaker, I do see that exemptions may be needed for the reasons the member has cited, but when it is left wide open and there is no oversight, cabinet can determine what those exemptions will be and it does not have to tell anyone why.
    It is better to write them in and to tell people that they have to comply with this, or that they must have a minister approve the exemption. The protocol should be clear and transparent so that we know it is not just people letting their friends do what they want, and also not people weaseling out of their responsibilities.
    Businesses have known for an extremely long time that they would have to become accessible and they have really dragged their feet. If we gave an exemption of any kind, a lot of people would drag their feet even longer, and that is not what we want.
    Let us have clarity and transparency.
    Madam Speaker, it is nice to hear that everyone in the House really wants to do make things better for people with disabilities. I guess the debate is about how that will happen.
    We have $290 million here and it seems to be to create a regulatory body and more consultation. It could be the most expensive consultation in history given the Liberal government's record of dithering and its failure since its inception, including over the summer.
    The minister mentioned the RDSP, which was a game-changer. It was implemented for three months.
    Would this legislation really make a difference for people on the ground? I have done a bit of math. There is $290 million for home elevators. That money would do 70 to 150 elevators to make a difference today. Is this really the best way of going about it?

  (1720)  

    Madam Speaker, there absolutely are things that we should do. The government is not very good at consultation. I could talk about the missing and murdered aboriginal women's inquiry and its $54 million budget. It is still going nowhere.
    The money would be better spent on tangible solutions, and we already know what some of those are. Infrastructure money has been announced. The government should do it now.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to debate Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. We as parliamentarians, and I think all Canadians, know someone, whether a family member, a neighbour, or a colleague who lives with a disability. Often these are visible disabilities, those we can see, but there are also the invisible disabilities, those we cannot see with the naked eye. When we are crafting and debating legislation and implementing standards, we have to recognize the variety of disabilities that Canadians live with on a daily basis.
    For me personally, my mother-in-law is someone who lives with a disability. She lost a leg to amputation about 15 years ago and uses a wheelchair. I speak with her regularly, including earlier today about an issue related to accessibility. I hear the concerns she brings forward on a variety of issues on a daily basis that confront her as she goes about living her life. One example she gave me today was that she was out shopping with her mother and could not enter certain stores because of the lifts at the entrances. She told me she would like to spend money. She would like to buy stuff for her grandkids, my kids, although I do encourage her to stop doing that because our house is getting too full. However, she enjoys doing that and attending things. Certainly this does not fall under federal jurisdiction, but it is an example of how those living with disabilities are in some cases unable to enter certain establishments.
    She tells a story of recently going to a local bank and using a lift to get into the bank because there were three steps she would have had to climb to get into the bank. Unfortunately, the lift malfunctioned and her wheelchair flipped over backward, causing her to fall to the ground and smack her head. Again, this is an example of how she was unable to access that facility, which would fall under federal jurisdiction as a federally regulated institution.
    I think we all know these examples and stories of friends, family members and people living in our community who are capable of participating fully in society, yet there are challenges to their doing so because of certain barriers. Each of us in our ridings know of organizations that work hard with members of the community specifically on accessibility issues and with Canadians living with disabilities. In my riding, we have L'Arche Stratford, which is a great organization, working with those with disabilities. There are also a number of community living organizations in Stratford, in North Perth, and St. Marys.
    In my constituency office, we have Emerson Kuepfer. Emerson works in my office one day a week. He does the shredding for us. He has been living with a disability his entire life. However, he is there every Wednesday morning. He has the biggest smile on his face when he is there because he is working and is contributing to society. The only time he does not have a smile on his face is when the Leafs lose, which happens from time to time. Beyond that, he is always as cheerful as can be, and really is a benefit to our office and to the community as a whole, contributing through those great organizations.
    It is important as well to talk a bit about the unfortunate stigma that is still out there when we talk about Canadians living with disabilities. I have fallen victim to it as well. In the past I might have referred to someone as “being in a wheelchair”, but I have been corrected, and rightfully so, because the wheelchair does not define that person. That person uses a wheelchair as a tool. We need to encourage and speak with Canadians about the stigma that somehow someone with a disability may not be able to do all things quite as well as others without a disability, and ensure that they have full access to, and the ability to work and participate in, the community and attend businesses and events.
    From my time on West Perth municipal council, I know that we often struggled with the challenges that faced us with the provincial AODA legislation in ensuring that our facilities were fully compliant with the AODA. It was a challenge, and it was not a cheap function either. As an example, our local arena did not have fully accessible washroom facilities, so fixing that was a project we undertook while I was serving on council. Now we have a beautiful facility with fully accessible washrooms so that all people within the community are able to use that facility.

  (1725)  

    However, it is not always easy. Most of the businesses on the main street in my hometown had a step or two to get in. One innovation done by the local council at the time the reconstruction was done on the main street is the sidewalks were adjusted to ensure a flat entrance to the different businesses. While it was not a panacea and did not fix every single business, it accommodated the vast majority of businesses on the main street. The sidewalks were adjusted to meet the entrances to each of the stores and each business became more accessible. It is not perfect and we cannot always make things perfect with buildings that are 100-plus years old, but it is a good step forward.
    The Perth County courthouse in downtown Stratford is a beautiful building which is 150-plus years old. It has served as the seat of county government for 150-plus years. It is not accessible. The irony is that despite it being a provincial courthouse and the home of the county government, it is grandfathered from the provincial AODA legislation, but steps are being taken to make that building more accessible while also maintaining the building's important and historic significance, both as a community landmark and as a functioning part of the community as a courthouse and a seat of government in the community.
    I want to talk about some of the experiences we have had in this Parliament with issues of accessibility. I am honoured to serve as a member of the procedure and House affairs committee. One of the studies that was undertaken earlier this year, in the spring, was on a debates commissioner.
    Leaving aside the debate over the debate, it was interesting to hear the testimony and information from different civil society groups on the issue of accessibility. We heard from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind how broadcasting a debate ought to be structured so that those with a visual impairment could have full access to the debate, to engage with the debate and know what is going on in the debate. We heard a similar message from other Canadians living with disabilities, including those with hearing impairments. Whether it is closed captioning or sign language, there are different ways in which, while relatively minor in the great scheme of things, we can make that specific institution just a little more accessible so that Canadians living with disabilities can have full access to debates.
    I will conclude by talking about the RDSP. It has been mentioned by a number of my colleagues, but I do believe that among the many great things former finance minister Jim Flaherty did during his time in this place, the RDSP meant so much to him as a father and as a finance minister. Canadians owe a debt of gratitude to the late Jim Flaherty for all that he did. That is a good point on which to conclude.
    The hon. member will have 11 minutes and 30 seconds remaining when this issue is next before the House.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[Translation]

Child Health Protection Act

    The House resumed from September 17 consideration of the motion that Bill S-228, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (prohibiting food and beverage marketing directed at children), be read the third time and passed.
    It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill S-228 under private members' business.
    Call in the members.

  (1805)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 884)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Amos
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Aubin
Ayoub
Badawey
Bains
Barsalou-Duval
Baylis
Beaulieu
Beech
Bennett
Benson
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Boissonnault
Bossio
Boudrias
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Brosseau
Caesar-Chavannes
Cannings
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Champagne
Chen
Choquette
Christopherson
Cormier
Cullen
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Donnelly
Drouin
Dubé
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fry
Fuhr
Garneau
Garrison
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gill
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hardcastle
Hardie
Hehr
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Johns
Jordan
Jowhari
Julian
Khalid
Khera
Kwan
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Laverdière
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Lightbound
Lockhart
Longfield
Ludwig
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Malcolmson
Maloney
Marcil
Masse (Windsor West)
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Moore
Morneau
Morrissey
Murray
Nantel
Nault
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Pauzé
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Picard
Plamondon
Poissant
Quach
Qualtrough
Ramsey
Rankin
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Saganash
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sansoucy
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sikand
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Thériault
Trudeau
Trudel
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Weir
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Yip
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 210


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Alleslev
Allison
Anderson
Arnold
Barlow
Bergen
Berthold
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boucher
Brassard
Calkins
Carrie
Chong
Clarke
Cooper
Deltell
Diotte
Doherty
Dreeshen
Eglinski
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Finley
Gallant
Généreux
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Harder
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kusie
Lake
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacKenzie
Martel
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound)
Motz
Nater
Nicholson
Nuttall
Paul-Hus
Poilievre
Rayes
Reid
Richards
Saroya
Shields
Shipley
Sorenson
Stanton
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tilson
Trost
Van Kesteren
Vecchio
Viersen
Wagantall
Warawa
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 79


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Bill read the third time and passed)

  (1810)  

[Translation]

Criminal Code

    The House resumed from September 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-375, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (presentence report), as reported (with amendment) from the committee be concurred in.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at report stage of Bill C-375 under private members' business.

  (1815)  

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

(Division No. 885)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Amos
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Aubin
Ayoub
Badawey
Bains
Barsalou-Duval
Baylis
Beaulieu
Beech
Bennett
Benson
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Boissonnault
Bossio
Boudrias
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Bratina
Breton
Brison
Brosseau
Caesar-Chavannes
Cannings
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Champagne
Chen
Choquette
Christopherson
Cormier
Cullen
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Donnelly
Drouin
Dubé
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona)
Dusseault
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fry
Fuhr
Garneau
Garrison
Gerretsen
Gill
Goldsmith-Jones
Goodale
Gould
Graham
Grewal
Hardcastle
Hardie
Hébert
Hehr
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Johns
Jordan
Jowhari
Julian
Khalid
Khera
Kwan
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Laverdière
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Lightbound
Lockhart
Longfield
Ludwig
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Malcolmson
Maloney
Marcil
Masse (Windsor West)
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Moore
Morneau
Morrissey
Murray
Nantel
Nault
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Pauzé
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Picard
Plamondon
Poissant
Quach
Qualtrough
Ramsey
Rankin
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Saganash
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sansoucy
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sikand
Simms
Sohi
Sorbara
Spengemann
Ste-Marie
Stetski
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Thériault
Trudeau
Trudel
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Weir
Wilson-Raybould
Wrzesnewskyj
Yip
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 210


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Alleslev
Allison
Anderson
Arnold
Barlow
Bergen
Berthold
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boucher
Brassard
Calkins
Carrie
Chong
Clarke
Cooper
Deltell
Diotte
Doherty
Dreeshen
Eglinski
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Finley
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Harder
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kusie
Lake
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacKenzie
Martel
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound)
Motz
Nater
Nicholson
Nuttall
Paul-Hus
Poilievre
Rayes
Reid
Richards
Saroya
Shields
Shipley
Sorenson
Stanton
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tilson
Trost
Van Kesteren
Vecchio
Viersen
Wagantall
Warawa
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 81


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

[English]

    It being 6:19 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

  (1820)  

Sikh Heritage Month Act

     moved that Bill C-376, an act to designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House for the second reading stage of Bill C-376.
    Before I begin, I would like to thank all 20 members from across Canada, and from all political stripes, who have seconded my bill. I also want to acknowledge the many others who had expressed interest in seconding the bill but could not get on the list due to the maximum limit of 20 having been reached.
    I introduced this bill to designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month to ensure that the contributions and history of Sikh Canadians are recognized annually across Canada.
    The history of Sikhs in Canada is a story of compassion, hard work, persistence and giving back. The first Sikhs arrived on Canada's shores in 1897. Over the past 121 years, the community has continued to thrive and prosper. The proud traditions of community leadership and providing the next generation with strong role models continues to this day. This bill is about setting a foundation for every generation to recognize the hard work, struggles and ultimately the contribution made by Sikhs in building Canada as a nation.
    Canada is known around the world as a welcoming, diverse and tolerant nation. This is the result of Canadians of all backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures making sure that Canada became a country that we could all be proud of. This is one of the reasons we observe Italian, Tamil, Jewish and Asian heritage months, among many others, to recognize, honour and remember just exactly who we are. The values, principles and ideals that unite us all is a universal theme for Canadians.
    As then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau stated, “A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate....we must continue to cherish...not concepts of uniformity but human values: compassion, love, and understanding.”
    A historical understanding is the most important act of reflection a country can provide for its future generations. It is our obligation to ensure that society is always changing for the better.
     With the support of members in this House, the month of April will become Sikh heritage month. This is significant because the month of April is important to all Sikhs. This is when Khalsa Day and Vaisakhi is celebrated, which marks the birth of Khalsa and his teachings of equality, selfless service and social justice.
    Canada has one of the largest Sikh populations in the world. My riding of Surrey—Newton is home to the largest Khalsa Day and Vaisakhi parade outside of India, with over half a million attendees each and every year.
    I mentioned earlier the history of Sikhs in Canada began in 1897, when officers of the British Army arrived. These Sikh soldiers were known as loyal fighters and were an integral part of the efforts in World War I and II.

  (1825)  

    I want to recognize the efforts of individuals such as Mr. Steve Purewal of Indus Media Foundation in British Columbia and members of the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada in Ontario. They have done an excellent job of collecting artifacts and sharing the history of the many battles Sikhs have fought in and the rich history of Sikhs living in Canada.
    By the early 1900s, Sikh pioneers entered Canada and began to work in resource industries such as forestry and mining. This was a tightknit community that stuck together to overcome many obstacles, whether it was finding employment or being accepted within society, all the while leaving behind their families in India.
    In 1908, the Sikh community came together to build the first gurdwara in Canada located in Vancouver. This became a centre for faith, shelter, advocacy and gathering, where community leaders worked to find ways to make a positive impact on the larger Canadian community.
    Soon after in 1911, a gurdwara was constructed in Abbotsford, BC, which still exists to this day. It is the first gurdwara outside of India and Pakistan to be recognized as a national Canadian historic site.
    By 1947, Sikhs were able to vote in federal elections. They embraced the right to cast a ballot, viewing civic participation as more than a right, but as an essential part of citizenship.
    Laws began to change that would allow those of Sikh faith to be considered equal members of Canadian society.
    It is also important to acknowledge that the journey Sikhs have endured in Canada has not always been easy. Along the way, the community faced intolerance and prejudice. These challenges effectively made Sikhs second-class citizens by being subjected to unfair labour laws.
    Many Canadians know about the terrible Komagata Maru incident and the rejection of Sikhs who had arrived in Vancouver looking for a new beginning. They were turned away simply because of discriminatory laws.
    However, we are doing our part as a government to correct these historical wrongs. The formal apology in the House by the Prime Minister, also the member for Papineau, in 2016 showed that we as a nation have progressed.
    I would like to acknowledge the work done by Mrs. Sukhvinder Kaur Thind, who unfortunately passed away on September 5, 2017, for her tireless advocacy and support in bringing about the formal apology in the House. This apology affirmed true reconciliation with the Sikh community in Canada and provided a new path to a more unified and integrated future.
    The rich Sikh history in Canada is very personal to me because it is also reflective of my own personal journey, because it is how I am able to stand in the House and present this bill.

  (1830)  

    In 1984, because of the work done by Sikh pioneers in Canada, I decided to migrate to this country and along with my wife Roni, and with the help of my mom, Amarjit Kaur Dhaliwal and my dad, Hardial Singh Dhaliwal, who passed away on September 29, 2015, we were able to raise our three beautiful children Keerat, Joat Amol and Arjan.
    As the Prime Minister said when he visited the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada, “the story of the Sikh community in Canada is, in fact, just the story of Canada.”
    It is a story about brave soldiers who fought to defend democracy. It is a story of early settlers and pioneers who worked in the agriculture fields, in mines, in lumber mills and on the railroads. It is a story of the first Sikh gurdwara built in 1908. It is a story of prejudiced laws being used to reject fellow British subjects on the Komagata Maru. It is a story of becoming Canadian citizens in 1947. It is a story of entrenching equality, fairness and justice in the laws of this land. It is a story of athletes, world renowned business leaders, working professionals and philanthropists rising to prominence. It is a story of elected officials, ministers, a premier, a federal opposition party leader and a senator.
    This is all a part of the ideal Canadian experience that today I am proud to be able to share, recognize and celebrate.
    In closing, I hope that all members of this House and the Senate will join me in passing this bill to honour the history and heritage of Sikhs in Canada, and share the story with future generations so that we remain a strong, diverse and inclusive nation.

  (1835)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for bringing this bill forward. Many of us of Sikh heritage are excited for the previous generation to see this bill. Does the hon. member think that those in the next generation are excited? I have three kids and he has three kids as well. What would the bill bring for our future generations?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for being a seconder on this bill.
    As the hon. member mentioned, he has two sons and a daughter, and I have two daughters and a son. When this bill passes in the House of Commons, it then becomes a part of history. When we celebrate Sikh heritage month year after year, it will educate them. This celebration will not only educate the children of the Sikh community but each and every Canadian child, and they are our future. This is a way to bring communities together to celebrate the diversity of Canada together. This is the strength of Canada, and this will strengthen Canada even more.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and friend from Surrey—Newton for bringing forward this very important legislation. I am who I am today, in good part, because of the Sikh community. Sikhism has been a critical aspect of more than half my life. In fact, I would not be here today if I did not have the support of my extended family in the Sikh community.
    To get an appreciation of what Sikhism is all about, one only need look at Canada's diversity, just how rich we are and how much we have been blessed by the Sikh community in every region of our country. As that community grows, we have seen a very strong, healthy and vibrant community. In Winnipeg North, for example, it drives the economy second to no other community. It has contributed so much since 1988, whether it is gurdwaras in Winnipeg, Abbotsford, Vancouver, Calgary or all across the Punjab. I believe that with this piece of legislation, the member is recognizing the month of April as a month when Canadians in all regions, as he himself put it, can celebrate Sikhism and how it has contributed to every aspect of our society today in Canada.
    On behalf of the residents of Winnipeg North, I thank the member and appreciate his efforts in bringing forward this very important piece of legislation.
     Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the member for Winnipeg North. I have had numerous opportunities to go to Winnipeg North and was pleased to invite the hon. member to come to Surrey—Newton to speak in a local gurdwara. I had the honour of travelling with him to Punjab, India, and witness the passion the member carries for the community. It is not only that he is thankful to the community, but, in fact, the community is very thankful to the member, who is passionate and always willing to help the Sikh community rise and help children get to the next phase. I hope the member's inspiration will be passed on to future generations. That will sew the seeds and blaze the trails that the children of Canada will follow very proudly, and keep making us a proud and strong nation.

  (1840)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-376, an act to designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month. I am grateful to my colleague across the floor, the member for Surrey—Newton, for introducing this bill and helping to bring it to this stage.
     This is an important issue for me, as a Sikh Canadian myself. I am thankful to be able to speak here and be a strong representative of my heritage and the larger Sikh community on this important observance.
     As I mentioned previously, I strongly support the bill and its intention to designate, going forward, the month of April each year as Sikh heritage month. In fact, I was the seconder, as the hon. member mentioned, of the bill when it was originally introduced.
    Sikhism is a religion practised by over 35 million followers all over the world. In fact, Canada is a home to over half a million Sikhs, making it the second-largest Sikh population in the world next to India. That is significant and it is deserving of recognition.
     It is widely believed that the very first Sikh settlers who arrived in Canada migrated from northern India and set foot on Canadian soil in 1897 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Those settlers would then pave the way for all other immigrants from South Asia to enter Canada and make this great country their home.
    Those first immigrants settled in British Columbia. Sikh heritage month is very dear to me. Many of those first, original settlers came from back home in the village of Paldi where my mother came from. As they arrived, they came with no money. They did not speak the language. They came to ensure they joined the workforce.
     In the early 1900s, they settled on Vancouver Island and called the place Paldi, the name of the village where the family came from, and they built the first gurdwara in Paldi back in 1919.
    For over 120 years, Sikhs have been contributing to Canadian society and to the Canadian economy.
    From 1904 to 1908, approximately 5,000 Punjabi immigrants, mostly men, entered Canada and became part of the workforce. This was the real beginning of Sikh migration from South Asia to Canada.
     It has not been an easy road for us, as Sikh Canadians. There have been some tough times and some very historically tragic events for Sikhs in Canada. Despite being welcomed to Canada and being able to join the workforce and make a living in Canada, a very humble living at the beginning but a living nonetheless, that welcome was to be later taken away. However, despite the hardship, we as a people have overcome and we have remained here. We have become a strong thread in the fabric of this great nation. We have made and will continue to make rich and significant contributions to Canadian society.
    In 1914, hundreds of our people were looking for a better life for themselves and their families. They sought that in Canada and they were denied entry. The result of the Komagata Maru incident was tragic and horrifying, but that has not stopped Sikhs from continuing to migrate to this great nation and continuing to make a strong impact on Canada as a whole.
     We are a strong people and we have endured and risen above the persecution and tragedy too, as I mentioned, to make Canada the home to over half a million Sikhs.

  (1845)  

    It is important that we, as Canada's Parliament, ensure that the Sikh heritage is recognized and that we celebrate the contribution Sikh Canadians have made to Canada's social, economic, political and cultural fabric, and also that we recognize the richness of the Punjabi language and culture and the Gurmukhi script.
    It is also significant that April is the month that is designated to celebrate Sikh heritage month. April is an important month in the Sikh faith. It is the month in which we celebrate Vaisakhi. Vaisakhi is a historical and religious festival in the Sikh religion that marks the new year. It has always been celebrated on April 13 or 14 every year since the tradition began.
    Vaisakhi commemorates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Through a special ceremony, which gave Sikhs the distinct Khalsa identity, Guru Gobind Singh provided our community the opportunity to live lives of courage, sacrifice and equality. He also called upon Sikhs to dedicate their lives to the service of others and the pursuit of justice.
    Every year in April, Sikhs gather in cities across Canada and worldwide to celebrate through parades, entertainment and gatherings of family and friends. In addition, Vaisakhi observes a number of major events in the history of Sikhism and also celebrates the winter harvest. Obviously, April is an important month and is most definitely the appropriate time to recognize Sikh heritage month.
    Sikh heritage month would provide Sikhs and Canadians alike with an opportunity to reflect on, celebrate and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Sikh Canadians have played and continue to play in communities across Canada.
    Also of note is the fact that the Province of Ontario already observes Sikh heritage month in the month of April each year, as does the City of Brampton. Therefore, it is only appropriate that we should be taking the lead federally on these types of observances instead of playing catch-up with our provincial and municipal counterparts. Support for the bill would ensure that we are taking a leadership role on this front for all of the provinces and cities across the country.
    In conclusion, again, I am honoured to speak to this important bill, Bill C-376. I would like to thank my hon. colleague for bringing the bill forward and recognizing the important and inspirational role that Sikh Canadians have played and continue to play in Canada.
    I reiterate my support for Bill C-376 and call on my hon. colleagues to join me in casting their support for the bill.
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in this House to offer my support for Bill C-376, an act to designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month. It is important to note that this bill is likely the first bill to recognize Sikh heritage at a federal level in the world and is the second such bill in Canada. During his time as the NDP MPP for Brampton-Gore-Malton in Ontario, the now NDP leader Jagmeet Singh tabled Bill 52, an act to proclaim the month of April as Sikh heritage month. That bill received royal assent on December 12, 2013.
    As a proud member of Canada's first federal party to have a leader of Sikh heritage and a leader who has previously tabled and received unanimous consent for a similar piece of legislation at a different level of government, there is no doubt that the NDP strongly support this bill.
    Each province and territory throughout Canada has been touched by the influence and contributions of Sikh Canadians. I believe it is very important for us to recognize the social, economic and cultural contributions of the Sikh community to the multicultural mosaic of Canada by declaring April as Sikh heritage month.
    April is an important month for individuals of the Sikh faith not just in Canada but throughout the world. Each year, April marks the celebration of Vaisakhi, also known as Khalsa Day. Vaisakhi marks the Sikh new year, and commemorates the formation of the Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. It is also a spring harvest festival. Sikh places of worship, the gurdwaras, throughout Canada will hold kirtans, which are the devotional singing of scriptures and legends.
    The harvest festival is filled with music, dancing and fairs known as melas. In Canada, some of the biggest Vaisakhi celebrations occur in B.C. The biggest of them occurs in Surrey. This year marked Surrey's 20th annual Vaisakhi parade. The RCMP estimated that over 500,000 people attended.
    According to Statistics Canada, there are nearly 470,000 Canadian Sikhs. That makes Canada likely home to the largest Sikh diaspora community in the world. Passing the bill before us today would provide Canadians from all walks of life the opportunity to learn more about the contributions, celebrations and culture of their Sikh neighbours and community members. It is something I encourage all Canadians to take advantage of.
    My riding of Vancouver East is home to the Akali Singh Sikh Society. I have had the pleasure of working with the society on obtaining visas and permits for visiting religious workers. This has provided me the wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Sikh community in my riding and also for members of the society to share their knowledge with the rest of the community. The society started in 1952 and began construction on its current gurdwara in 1981. In addition to religious services, the society regularly hosts community meals, offers Punjabi language classes, runs youth camps and offers free tax filing services for seniors and low-income families. These valuable community roles stem directly from the Sikh faith's emphasis on selfless service, justice and equality.
     Passing this bill would also allow Canadians to learn from past injustices that Canada has perpetrated against the Sikh community.
     As members are aware, the Komagata Maru marks a dark chapter in Canadian history. Nearly 400 passengers, mostly Sikhs, were refused entry into Canada at Burrard Inlet because of a discriminatory law. The passengers were sent back to India where 19 of them were killed. During the 2015 election campaign, the now Prime Minister made the promise to officially apologize for the Komagata Maru incident in the House of Commons within the first 90 days of his mandate. That, as we know, did not happen in that timeline.

  (1850)  

    On February 3, 2016, I put on notice Motion No. 35, which called on the Liberal government to officially apologize for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident as a reminder of the Prime Minister's election promise. By so doing, I was also carrying on the hard work of former NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu, the hon. Jinny Sims, who is the current B.C. Minister for Citizens' Services, and the tireless efforts of the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation which initiated the call for justice in 2012.
    In working with the community, together we were able to pressure the Prime Minister to do the right thing. On May 18, 2016, the Prime Minister finally formally apologized in the House of Commons for the actions taken by the Canadian government and the irreparable harm the decision caused in this dark chapter of Canada's history.
    It would be worthwhile to take a moment to reflect on that discriminatory law that cost the lives of 19 people. The Government of Canada had put in place a law that prohibited passengers from disembarking in Canada if the vessel they were on had stopped at any point during its journey here.
    Then in 1939, under the unofficial policy of “none is too many”, Canada would refuse refuge for another ship searching for safe haven, the MS St. Louis. On it were 900 Jewish people fleeing Nazi Germany. The ship was forced to leave and it is believed a quarter of those passengers were killed in Nazi death camps during World War II.
    The Prime Minister's description of the laws that prevented Komagata Maru passengers from disembarking immediately and those on the MS St. Louis reminded me of the current influx of asylum seekers to Canada. The safe third country agreement aims to prevent people seeking asylum from entering Canada if they stopped in the United States during their journey here.
    It appears that we have still not learned from the mistakes of the past. We are continuing to turn people away, not on the basis of their claim but on the basis of the path they took to arrive here as they search for safety and a better life.
    I hope that the government reflects on the Prime Minister's apology to the Sikh community for their mistreatment under the laws of Canada at that time and what it means to truly make sure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. I hope the government keeps this in mind when my New Democratic colleagues and I continue our call for the suspension of the safe third country agreement upon our recognition that the United States is not a safe country for asylum seekers at this time.
    I am proud to support the bill. It gives Canadians a chance to learn more about the Sikh community and Canada's past, including the not so bright moments. That is what gives us the motivation and ability to do better, to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.
     As noted, I encourage Canadians who have questions about the Sikh faith or just about the day-to-day life of Canadian Sikhs to simply ask them. The World Sikh Organization is constantly engaged on Twitter through #AskCanadianSikhs. They are happy to answer anyone's questions and help Canadians better understand their Sikh neighbours. We can all learn from each other. We need to celebrate with each other about who we are no matter where we come from. That is part of our multicultural mosaic that speaks to who we are as Canadians.
    My New Democratic Party colleagues and I wholeheartedly support the bill. As mentioned, our leader, Jagmeet Singh, has paved the way in the Ontario legislature with his bill and now for the House of Commons to do the same is something which we very much welcome.
     I thank the member for tabling the bill and supporting the initiatives that my former colleague in the NDP tabled previously.

  (1855)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and my privilege to rise today in the House to speak to Bill C-376, an act to designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month.
    I must first commend the member for Surrey—Newton for all of his hard work in bringing this bill forward. I know that this piece of legislation means a lot to Sikh Canadians in my riding of Brampton North, as well as Sikhs across Canada and abroad.
     The passage of this bill would recognize the contributions of Sikhs to Canadian society and educate future generations about our language, traditions and history in Canada. I look around at my fellow Sikh members of Parliament, listen to their persona! stories, and cannot help but acknowledge and be grateful that we have had the opportunity to be here today because of the hard work and struggles of the Sikh community before us.
     Since arriving on Canadian shores, Sikhs have been active members of our society. Canada is now home to one of the largest Sikh populations in the world, and the Sikh community has become known for their compassion, work ethic and entrepreneurship.
    The month of April holds particular significance to Sikhs, as it is the time of year when the community celebrates Vaisakhi, which marks the birth of the Khalsa Panth. Sikhism is rooted in the teachings of equality, unity, selfless service and social justice, values that all Canadians hold dear and strive to incorporate into their daily lives. Sikh values are in fact Canadian values.
     However, it has not always been easy. The Sikh community has been a victim to racism, discrimination and violence. Generations of Sikhs have struggled to find their place. Our clothing, our turbans, our kirpans, our food and our traditions were not welcome. From the rejection of Sikhs aboard the Komagata Maru to the desecration of gurdwaras, the history of Sikhs in Canada has dark chapters.
    However, those dark chapters are now coming to a close, because as a country we have grown. I, the daughter of Sikh immigrants, today, have the opportunity to stand in the House and speak to legislation that recognizes the importance of my heritage, so that tomorrow, Sikh youth can take the utmost pride in who they are and be able to share and celebrate that heritage.
    Sikhs have found their place in this country, because our proud legacy of multiculturalism does not ask us to chose between our faith and our religion. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has allowed Sikhs to physically and spiritually be who they are without giving up being Canadian. The implementation of the charter has ensured that equality and diversity have become the pillars and strength of our nation.
    I have been fortunate to be able to travel to every province and territory, and to see how the contributions made by Sikhs are evident from coast to coast to coast.
    I went to Nunavut early last year, and I visited a Sikh who is working on a Liberal campaign and for a riding association. I met Sikhs in New Brunswick who were driving taxis. I know Sikhs who are running homeless shelters, food banks, and a lot of other services, including meals on wheels. I have met Sikhs who are teaching Bhangra in Whitehorse and in Halifax. They have made contributions to celebrate our heritage all throughout the country.
     With Bill C-376, we are able to share and celebrate Canadian heritage through a Sikh lens. As our Prime Minister stated when he visited the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada, the story of the Sikh community in Canada is, in fact, just the story of Canada.
    This summer, I was excited to be on hand as we announced funding for the museum and a project aimed at creating a Canadian Sikh heritage trail and a travelling Canadian Sikh timeline exhibition, along with a web portal and interactive mobile application showcasing facts, figures and Sikh personalities that have shaped the civic life of Canada. The project will allow current and future generations of Canadians to learn more about the struggles, sacrifices and successes of Sikhs, as they travel across this beautiful country.

  (1900)  

    As I speak about our heritage and history in Canada, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the contributions of Canadian Sikh women. In 1912, Harman Kaur and Kartar Kaur fought for the right of women and children to join Sikh men in Canada. In 1946, Ajit Kaur defended herself at city council when her neighbours did not want her to move in because they feared the family would lower their property values. In 1949 and 1950 respectively, Dr. Sarjit Kaur Siddoo and Dr. Jagdis Kaur Sidoo graduated from the University of Toronto as the first female Sikh doctors in Canada.
     More recently, trailblazers like Palbinder Kaur Shergill, Lilly Singh and very our own hon. government House leader are contributing to our place in Canada and showing the next generation that anything is possible.
    As I reflect on what Bill C-376 means to me, I am reminded of one of Rupi Kaur's verses, entitled “progress”:
    

our work should equip
the next generation of women
to outdo us in every field
this is the legacy we'll leave.

     I want to once again applaud the member for Surrey—Newton for his work in leaving behind a legacy where every April we, as Canadians, celebrate our Sikh heritage and the contribution of the Sikh community to Canada. I would like to also thank him for his work and efforts on the Komagata Maru apology. He has been working hard on the issue since 1999.
     I join my colleague in looking forward to seeing all members in the House passing this bill so we can honour and retell the Canadian stories for future generations to come.

  (1905)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as the Conservative Party critic for heritage, I rise today to speak to Bill C-376, an act to designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month.
    I commend my colleague opposite, the member for Surrey—Newton, for introducing this bill in the House.

[English]

    Without a doubt this is an issue near and dear to his heart as a Canadian Sikh, and he represents his community honourably in the chamber, although, in my view, a little in a too Liberal way.
    I also want to thank my Conservative colleague from Markham—Unionville. He has done so much to help the Sikh community as well as the immigrant community more broadly in our country. He has played a key role in our caucus in the work we are doing on files such as immigration, which are important for the Sikh community and all Canadians.
     My colleague from Markham—Unionville is also a living example of the quintessential Canadian immigrant. He came to this country in humble circumstances and through his hard work has not only achieved success for himself and his family, but also his community and our country. When he arrived in this country in 1974, he was 21 years old and did not speak a word of French or English. He had a job that paid $1.50 per hour and would work 364 days per year. However, he told me that he took a break on Dominion Day, which would turn out to be Canada Day. We could see he was a proud Canadian early on.
    In discussing the history and celebration of the Sikh community, I think of the new Canadians like my colleague and also like those I welcome every year to my riding. They come from all over the world and they are more than welcome. They come from Africa, Latin America and so on. They are like my Irish ancestors. Like the Sikh we have welcomed over the years, they come here to work hard, whether in farming or in industry. We are all better off and thankful for their hard work. Actually, they are the fabric of our country and this how our country is built.

[Translation]

    I support this bill and its aim to designate every April going forward as Sikh heritage month.
    Sikhism has millions of followers around the world. As we have heard, Canada is a home to over half a million Sikhs, making it the second-largest Sikh population in the world, after India. That deserves to be recognized.
    What I also like about Sikh values is that they are universal human values, such as respect for others, kindness, charity, courage and honesty.

[English]

    The significant Sikh population is represented in vibrant urban centres, such as Surrey, Brampton, and many other places across this land, whether in British Columbia, Ontario or Alberta. Without a doubt, the large and thriving communities of Indian and Punjabi heritage are essential to the increasingly close and important relationship Canada has with India. For one, cultural and educational exchanges between India, Punjab and Canada make our country richer.
    India not only represents an opportunity for shared prosperity through trade with one of the world's largest economies, but also presents an opportunity to strengthen ties with the world's largest democracy. Democracy is something that unites people and countries. Indeed, we have seen how much Canadian Sikhs contribute to our Canadian democracy. In the last parliament I served as minister with Canadians of Punjabi heritage in caucus and in cabinet. I think of my former colleague Tim Uppal, who was the minister for democratic reform, or Bal Gosal, the former minister of sport, with whom I have entertained some good boxing galas where Quebeckers in particular were proving their talent. In British Columbia, we had Ujjal Dosanjh, a Canadian Sikh, who served as the premier of that province. I had an opportunity to visit Afghanistan with him when we were involved in the defence committee. In this parliament we also have members, like my colleague from Markham—Unionville on the Conservative side, as well as ministers and members on the government benches. Some day we may have the leader of the NDP join us in the House.

  (1910)  

[Translation]

    The first immigrants settled in British Columbia. They came to Canada with little or no money, but knew they wanted a better life for their families.
    As my colleague mentioned, it has not always been easy for the Sikh community, as Sikhs have gone through difficult times. In 1914, hundreds of people wanted to improve their lives and their families' futures. They were hoping to find a better life in Canada, but were not allowed to enter. This resulted in the tragic Komagata Maru incident.

[English]

    In fact, several deaths resulted from the Komagata Maru tragedy. We may remember that in 2008 the Right Hon. Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of Canadians. More recently, as made clear by the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, the Conservatives will never forget the Komagata Maru, and we will use the memory of those who perished to learn from our mistakes and make this country even better.
    Importantly, what is amazing about Canada is that despite regrettable historical chapters, communities like the Sikh community have come together and worked with all Canadians to move forward. While we learn from the past, we do not helplessly dwindle in the past. We do not focus on what divides us. Canadians, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike focus on celebrating what unites us, because Canada has a lot to be proud of. This includes, without a doubt, the contributions of the Sikh community.

[Translation]

     It is important that Canada's Parliament ensure that we recognize Sikh heritage and that we celebrate the contribution Sikh Canadians have made to the social, economic, political and cultural fabric. It is also important to recognize the richness of the Punjabi language and culture, not to mention their food.
    It is important to note that April is the month designated to celebrate Sikh heritage month. As my colleague mentioned, it is an important month for the Sikh community because that is when Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi, which is a historical and religious festival in the Sikh religion that marks the new year.
    Vaisakhi commemorates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Since that time, every April, Sikhs gather around the world to celebrate this important moment with parades, entertainment and gatherings of family and friends.
    April is the logical choice for the Sikh community, and that is why I support this motion.
    Essentially, this heritage month would allow us to make Canadians aware of the culture and heritage of the Sikh community and to educate future generations. For that reason, I wish to support this bill and I invite my colleagues to support it as well.

[English]

    Perhaps this bill is long overdue. We, indeed, have dates designated for the Asian community, the aboriginal community and the black community at the national level. Recently, we also worked with one of our colleagues from the Senate to make Jewish Heritage Month a reality. I would like to thank my colleagues for working on that, but today we can make history again by supporting this private member's bill.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Brampton East. The hon. member will have five minutes to speak.

  (1915)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise today to debate Bill C-376 at second reading. The bill was introduced by the hon. member for Surrey—Newton and I was more than happy to second the bill.
    I am humbled and enormously grateful for this opportunity to speak in favour of a bill that provides opportunity to highlight the many contributions that Canadians of Sikh heritage have made to Canada, an occasion to educate future generations about the role that Sikh Canadians have played and will continue to play building our country from coast to coast to coast.
     A Sikh heritage month is an opportunity to highlight, respect and honour the many contributions that Sikh Canadians have made to Canada. In fact, Sikh heritage month is already celebrated every April in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. I look forward to the passage of this bill so we can celebrate all across Canada.
    April is a particularly significant month for Sikhs around the world. It was in April in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa Panth, which was the formal creation of the Sikh faith. Sikhs around the world believe in core values of naam japna, meditation, kirt karni, earning an honest living, seva, community service, and always helping the less fortunate. These are not just Sikh values; these are also Canadian values.
    Today, Canada holds the second largest Sikh population in the world. Almost 500,000 Sikhs proudly call Canada home. Indeed, the Sikh Canadian story is a deep-rooted story with many ups and downs in Canadian history. Sikhs have worked hard across the country, from serving in our armed forces to building our railroads and working in the lumber mills in British Columbia. Today, Sikhs are doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, media personalities and even politicians. They have successfully established themselves as hard-working, generous people who are integral to the Canadian fabric.
    As Sikh Canadian families enter the third and fourth generations in Canada, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the fact that the success of the Sikh Canadian community is, in large part, due to the early pioneers who left everything they knew in Punjab and India in search of a better life for themselves and their families. We salute the early taxi drivers, truck drivers, people in factories, the individuals who picked up the extra overtime shifts so they could start building their local temples for a place to pray.
    The first Sikh temple was opened in British Columbia in 1907, the Khalsa Diwan Society, and it is still operating today. From that first gurdwara in British Columbia, Sikhs have built numerous gurdwaras from coast to coast to coast. From Halifax to Victoria, one could always drop in to a Sikh gurdwara, meditate and enjoy a community meal, known as langer.
     Sikhs have always worked hard and today our community stands on the stories of giant Canadian Sikhs. Baltej Singh Dhillon comes to mind, the first turbaned RCMP officer; Gurbaj Singh Maltani, a young student who dropped his kirpan on the playground and fought for his right to wear his kirpan, his article of faith, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada; Sikhs like Harnarayan Singh, who is breaking barriers on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition; and even our very own Minister of National Defence, who in 2014 was named the first Sikh lieutenant colonel of the Canadian army.
    Indeed, the Canadian Sikh story is thriving today across the country. However, we did not get here by accident and the story of success will not continue without effort. Everyone in the House remembers that in 1914 the Komagata Maru, a Japanese ship carrying Sikhs fleeing India, was turned away by Canadian authorities. When the ship returned to India, many people were killed. The Prime Minister, in 2016, apologized on behalf of the Canadian government for this unspeakable act.
     Even throughout my lifetime, I have experienced racism for wearing my turban and I have seen Sikh places of worship vandalized. Just last year, university students were being asked if they were extremists just for the simple fact that they were wearing their identity proudly.
    That is why Sikh heritage month is so important. It is not just an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Sikh Canadians, but, more important, an opportunity to educate Canadians and people all around the world of the Sikh way of life and the Sikh philosophy.

  (1920)  

    The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS

[Adjournment Proceedings]
    A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, the previous minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans made commitments to the lead negotiators of the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations that operate the T'aaq-wiihak fishery. At a face-to-face meeting in Campbell River on March 13, 2018, he made commitments to accelerate the reconciliation of the five nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth that have been in a longstanding battle for their fishing rights. It has been dragging on and on through litigation and prolonged negotiation since 2009.
    The government initiated a rights recognition and reconciliation process with the five nations in June 2017, which has yet to produce any results. The five nations negotiated a term sheet with senior government representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which was concluded in September 2017. It was promised that the term sheet would become the substance of a memorandum to cabinet that has yet to make it to the cabinet committee, despite repeated commitments by the government that cabinet would deal with this memorandum to cabinet in the fall of 2017, and then the spring of 2018. Now it is the fall of 2018. Specifically, the fisheries minister was to champion with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs the memorandum to cabinet that must be presented to it this fall. The memorandum to cabinet will lead to the implementation of the nations' rights-based fisheries, and tangibly demonstrate that the government is serious about reconciliation with first nations in Canada.
    The five nations wrote to the new minister of the DFO on August 29, requesting a meeting as soon as possible, and there has still be no response. They just want to confirm the commitments made by the previous minister.
     The nations met concurrently with the previous minister, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Minister of Justice on June 27, 2016, in Ottawa. The five nations have met twice with the Prime Minister on this issue, and yet, despite these high-level meetings and the promises of government action, there has been no substantive process of recognition of the nations' fishing rights by the government, even though two B.C. Supreme Court decisions and several appeals have all instructed the government to work with the five nations to establish a new fisheries regime that recognizes and respects their priority rights.
    When will the government start taking substantive action, demonstrating a real understanding and respect for first nations' rights, and specifically the commercial fishing rights of these five Nuu-chah-nulth nations, rather than just more talk and rhetoric by it about respecting first nations' rights and the importance of the relationship with indigenous people? With these five nations, the government can back up its empty promises so far with real action by approving the reconciliation agreement that these five Nuu-chah-nulth nations crafted with senior government staff from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and DFO. That is all they are asking for.
    The government recognizes that indigenous peoples have a deep connection to oceans and waterways and that fishing is culturally and economically significant to their communities. In this context, a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership is a top priority for our government.
    As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and as a Canadian, I can assure the member that we are fully committed to advancing reconciliation, including working with the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations to exercise and implement their fishing rights.
    Over the past year, the Government of Canada has been taking concrete actions in the spirit of reconciliation with the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations.
    Since the spring of 2017, Canada and the five nations have been engaged, as the hon. member said, in recognition of indigenous rights and self-determination discussions. In fact, the parties signed a framework agreement in 2017 that forms the basis of ongoing negotiations. These negotiations have been instrumental in developing a common understanding of each other's perspectives in what are inherently complex matters.
    In March of this year, the former minister personally met with the leaders of the five first nations to hear directly from them their priorities for implementing their fishing rights. At that time, we were pleased to offer additional licences and quota for groundfish, salmon and shellfish to the five nations.
    In its April 19 decision in the Ahousaht case, the British Columbia Supreme Court clarified the nature and scope of the right of the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island as:
...a small-scale, artisanal, local, multi-species fishery, to be conducted in a nine-[nautical] mile strip from shore, using small, low-cost boats with limited technology and restricted catching power....
    The court found that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has taken useful steps in some fisheries to accommodate the rights of the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations.
    The court also noted that some improvements need to be made. In particular, the court found that DFO's Pacific salmon allocation policy was not justified in according priority to the recreational fishery over the five nations aboriginal commercial fishery for chinook and coho.
    As part of an immediate response to the decision, the former minister announced on the day the decision was released that he directed Fisheries and Oceans Canada to review the Pacific salmon allocation policy in collaboration with indigenous groups and all stakeholders to renew and co-develop this policy.
    While our government and the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations review the court decision and its implications, we will continue working together to advance reconciliation. We are committed to reconciliation and to advancing our relationship with the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations through accommodation of their fishing rights. Significant steps were taken in 2018 and further steps are being planned for next year.
    Court decisions help inform the broader process, which seeks to provide stability and predictability around the management of fisheries and oceans resources.
    We will continue to work with the five nations through negotiations to reach agreement on the implementation of their rights and provide the foundation for a strong and enduring relationship between Canada and the five nations.

  (1925)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member talking about what the courts said. What the courts did say that he did not mention is that at every opportunity the minister sent his negotiators empty-handed to the table. He tried to stymie every opportunity for them to negotiate. That is what the judge said.
    When the member talks about an artisan fishery, the government attacks their rights at every opportunity and tries to diminish them every step of the way. That is not reconciliation. That is not a commitment to reconciliation.
    The government talks about its most important relationship being with first nations and Canada's indigenous peoples, but we do not see that. The government is talking about moving forward with the recognition and implementation of an indigenous rights framework.
    The government needs to recognize the frameworks that are in place right now, charter section 35 in the Charter of Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, case law that has been proven, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, treaties where they exist. The government has not been able to honour the existing frameworks never mind talking about future frameworks.
    The government needs to direct its negotiators to go to the table and give them something to bring to the table so they can get out fishing, not be in court. They belong on the water.
    Mr. Speaker, on April 19, 2018, the B.C. Supreme Court decision clarified the scope and nature of the rights of the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations.
    In his statement to the press on that same day, the former minister of fisheries and oceans spoke to the concrete actions that had recently been taken, including offers of additional licences and quota for groundfish, salmon and shellfish to the five nations in 2018 and a commitment to continue to implement their fishing rights in 2019 and beyond.
    The former minister indicated immediate action to review the Pacific salmon allocation policy in collaboration with indigenous groups and all stakeholders to renew and co-develop this policy.
    Our government is committed to reconciliation and to advancing our relationship with the five Nuu-chah-nulth nations to accommodate their fishing rights.

  (1930)  

International Trade  

    Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House on April 19, which was 12 days before the U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel came down. It was a very difficult time, but it pales in comparison to where we find ourselves today. I want to remind members that we are talking about 146,000 direct and indirect good-paying steel and aluminum jobs across our country, many of which are in my riding of Essex, certainly in southwestern Ontario in Windsor-Essex.
    At that time the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs was reassuring us that they were going to be able to achieve this permanent exemption. They felt that they were working hard on it and were working hard to make this become a reality. As we know, 12 days later, we were slammed with the steel and aluminum tariffs which for the last five months we have really been suffering under greatly. Working people across our country are losing their jobs. Small business owners in my region are faced with closing their doors.
    This reassurance did not come to pass and it is deeply unfortunate. It is incumbent on the government to continue the efforts to get a permanent exemption. I know that the government has tried to remove this and extract it from NAFTA, but to say that these things are not connected is simply fooling Canadians because these things are all deeply connected to the difficult times we are having with the United States right now.
    In the NAFTA negotiations we have to have a conversation about the steel and aluminum tariffs and the impacts as well as the looming threat of a 25% auto tariff which is quite considerable.
    The Liberals' failures are hurting workers and industries across this country. The Prime Minister all but promised he would secure a deal with former President Obama on softwood lumber but that did not happen. With regard to the CPTPP, the Liberals promised a progressive renegotiation, yet what we see is anything but progressive. In fact, “progressive” has been removed from the Prime Minister's mandate letter to the new Minister of International Trade Diversification.
    In CETA, the Liberals promised new markets and support for Canada's supply-managed sectors, but one year into CETA and Canada's trade imbalance with the EU is growing and our support is not reaching our dairy farmers and our other supply-managed sectors.
    The Liberals pledged to secure a good deal for Canada under NAFTA. Time is running out and Canadians are deeply worried.
    On U.S. tariffs, again the Liberals pledged to secure a permanent exemption, but obviously this did not happen. Now our auto sector is very concerned that it will be faced with the same job-killing tariffs.
    It is clear that the Liberals' trade strategy is not delivering the results they promised for working Canadians. Canada has roughly collected $300 million in retaliatory tariffs in the surtaxes that have been imposed on U.S. goods after President Trump's imposition of the steel and aluminum tariffs and our reciprocal tariffs.
    Two billion dollars was promised by the Liberals to support these sectors and it is simply not reaching them. The amount that has reached them is $11,000. I am going to repeat that because someone asked me today if I had omitted a zero. I have not. Some $11,000 has been paid out. I have businesses in my riding that are desperate. Workers are worried about whether they are going to have a job to go to tomorrow. The government is failing at delivering this package to them. It is failing in giving them support.
    The New Democrats have called on the government to establish a national tariff task force. This is exactly what we need to do at this critical time in our trading relationships to support workers across this country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the tariffs imposed by the United States on steel and aluminum are illegal and completely unacceptable.

[English]

     That is why our government has taken such strong responsive measures to defend Canadian workers. That is why we announced dollar for dollar, perfectly reciprocal tariffs on $16.6 billion of U.S. imports into Canada. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, this is the strongest trade action that Canada has undertaken since World War II.
    That was an action that we took out of necessity to defend the principles of trade that have developed between Canada and the United States over decades and which have led to shared economic prosperity. lt was also an action that strongly demonstrated to Canadian workers just how united Canada is in defending our workers. Canadian steelworkers know that our government is firmly behind them. Canada's response is proportional, measured and reciprocal and will cease immediately once tariffs on Canada are lifted.
    We are also challenging these illegal and counterproductive U.S. measures at the World Trade Organization and under NAFTA. These tariffs are completely unjustified. Not only have Canada and the U.S. been close allies in NATO and NORAD for years, but Canada is even recognized in U.S. law as part of the American military industrial base. Using national security concerns to impose tariffs on Canadian products therefore makes no sense.
    On June 29, 2018, we also announced that we would make available up to $2 billion to defend and protect the interests of Canadian workers and businesses in the steel, aluminum and manufacturing industries. Our government continues to stand up for Canadian workers, including the steel and aluminum industries.

  (1935)  

[Translation]

    Our government continues to stand up for Canadian workers in the steel and aluminum industry.

[English]

    That is why we have also consulted with Canadians on possible safeguards action on seven steel products.
    If evidence gathered during these consultations led by the Department of Finance points to harm or threat of harm to Canadian producers, we will immediately apply provisional safeguards and refer the issue to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal for inquiry.
     We have also provided new funding, more than $30 million over five years, starting immediately, and $6.8 million per year after that, which will mean more than 40 new officers to investigate trade-related complaints, including those related to steel and aluminum.
    Our government has and will continue to have the backs of the steel and aluminum industries and will continue to work for the permanent removal of the illegal U.S. tariffs.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry but that is an extremely poor response when we know that only $11,000 has flowed out of the money that the member is speaking about.
    I want to give kudos to our WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation. Stephen MacKenzie, who is the CEO, Marion Fantetti, Rakesh Naidu, Wendy Stark, Lana Drouillard and Lee McGrath are an amazing team. They attended, along with me, an event that was held by the Canadian Association of Moldmakers over the summer. Some 250 people came on two days' notice to talk about the impact in our region of the steel and aluminum tariffs.
    They did a survey and 10% to 99% of their steel and 50% to 100% of their aluminum purchases are from the U.S. They need exemptions, and they are not able to get them from the government. They are asking that the processing of requests be timely, that they do not wait up to six months. Also, information on programs and services needs to be clear and consistent.
    Ultimately, the New Democratic Party is calling for a national tariff task force. Our country is in a crisis under the Trump tariffs. Windsor-Essex is feeling the brunt of that. Will the Liberals join us, strike this task force, and talk about how we can use the money that we are collecting to—

[Translation]

    Order. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's steel and aluminum industries support good, middle-class jobs across the country. Our workers and industry have our government's full support.
    We have taken actions to end fraudulent transshipment and to further prevent dumping of unfairly priced imports into the Canadian market. We are committed to taking action to protect and support our workers and producers.

[Translation]

    We want to protect Canada's steel and aluminum workers and producers. It is our job to protect them.

[English]

     Our government will always stand up for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses, and we will continue to work with stakeholders to determine if further responses are necessary.

Natural Resources 

    Mr. Speaker, when I was last debating this issue of paramount importance to the coast of British Columbia and my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, the Minister of Natural Resources said some stunning things, given how deeply the federal government has since invested itself in the Kinder Morgan pipeline. He challenged me on my numbers and said that it is not a sevenfold increase in tankers but only one tanker a day. Well, in fact, the National Energy Board said that it is a 680% increase. Just last week, a Tyee magazine quoted economist Robyn Allan as saying that it is more like a 1,200% increase; from 30 tankers a year to 408 tankers a year, which is a colossal increase.
    The minister also said that this is happening at a time when indigenous people for the first time had been involved from day one and were becoming part of monitoring and safety. Here is another deep betrayal of that promise. The Heiltsuk first nation are heroes on the coast for being the on-water response in a very ad hoc way. There was not a government-led response to the sinking of the Queen of the North when the ferry went down, nor to the Nathan E. Stewart. These were very high-profile sinkings, attendant oil spills on the coast.
    Therefore, the Heiltsuk bid to the federal government to be able to own and operate a standby tug, which we sorely need. Washington State has it, but Canada does not. It is to be able to have a strong tugboat capacity to take vessels that are in trouble into safety, so that they do not create an oil spill.
    The Prime Minister just the week before had stood with the Heiltsuk people, shoulder to shoulder, proclaiming his allegiance and solidarity with them, and recognizing their stewardship and ownership of the waters. Well, the tug contract was given to an Irving subsidiary on the Atlantic coast, not to local people, and not to very strong indigenous leadership. What a betrayal that was.
    The minister also said to me that “we believe we are going to leave the backyard of indigenous people better than we had found it”. What a totally patronizing comment that is. Indigenous leadership has been the stewards and occupants of the B.C. coast since time immemorial. To think that the lauded oceans protection plan is going to leave the coast better than when we started is an embarrassing statement for a minister to make, particularly in light of the court case that has since come down.
    Coastal people had been saying all of these pieces loudly on the coast, and coastal MPs brought them into this Parliament: about the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, that the biggest risk on the coast is from oil tanker traffic, which had been insufficiently studied; that the orca whale impact had not been accommodated, although it had been identified; and that indigenous people had not been consulted.
    The strongest court ruling came down affirming that all of those were barriers to the Kinder Morgan pipeline. It is now, of course, the Prime Minister's pipeline, because he spent $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money buying it. Then, on the very same day, we had the finance minister say that the pipeline will be built and, oh, they will also do more consultations.
    How can the government square all of these inconsistencies, and how will it move forward, given all of these broken promises?

  (1940)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith for her important and timely question.
    It is timely because we know that the Federal Court of Appeal recently ruled that the National Energy Board should have included marine transportation in its assessment of the Trans Mountain expansion proposal.
    It is important because the issues she raised reflect what we on this side of the House have been saying from the outset: the economy and the environment must go hand in hand, and no relationship is more important to Canada than its relationship with indigenous peoples.

[English]

    Those core values go to the heart of our government's vision for this clean-growth century. The good news is that our government is committed to ensuring that those values are respected in everything we do, including expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. That is why we introduced Bill C-69 to improve the way we review major resource projects.
     That is why we are making the single-largest investment ever to protect Canada's oceans, marine life and coastal communities. The $1.5 billion oceans protection plan has been a cornerstone of our agenda and our efforts. The oceans protection plan strengthens the eyes and ears of the Canadian Coast Guard to ensure better communication to vessels, adds new radar sites in strategic locations, puts more enforcement officers on the coast and establishes the national aerial surveillance program to keep a watchful eye on ships and waters under our jurisdiction.
     At the same time, the oceans protection plan strengthens our capacity to respond in the unlikely event of a spill, by adding more primary environmental response teams to bolster Coast Guard capacity, investing in new technologies and conducting scientific research to make cleanups more effective, including $80 million for groundbreaking research on the behaviour of diluted bitumen in marine settings. We are using every tool at our government's disposal to remain vigilant in protecting our coasts and marine life. That includes a $170 million action plan to protect the south resident killer whales.
    The oceans protection plan is also building meaningful new partnerships with indigenous people in other coastal communities. This includes a Canadian first with the creation of an indigenous advisory and monitoring committee to oversee the safety of the TMX project through its entire life cycle. In addition, we have enhanced indigenous access to federal funding for economic development, job training and other business opportunities that will flow from the pipeline's possible expansion.
    Our position is clear: We are committed to creating the prosperity we all want while protecting the planet we all cherish.

  (1945)  

    Mr. Speaker, the spin is astonishing. The court completely discredited the government's approach to this. There was no reason for the Liberal government to use the discredited and undermined Harper Conservative review process. In fact, the Prime Minister promised during the campaign that he would not, and they did. They chose to leave marine impacts out. They chose not to implement the 2012 court ruling on protecting habitat for orca. In fact, just last week, the environmental groups took the Liberal government to court again over its failure to protect the habitat of the orca. The most astonishing thing is to be so bold as to say they cannot increase the oil-spill safety net without approving a pipeline and a 1,200% increase in oil tanker traffic. It is hypocritical; it is not true. If the government truly were going to lead, it would boost oil-spill response right now and spend tax dollars doing it, but it is not.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, all I can do is repeat that our government is committed to ensuring that the Trans Mountain expansion project is done right. We are working hard to figure out how to proceed, and we will have more to say on this in the coming days.
    In the meantime, our position is that TMX is part of a sensible approach to a low-carbon future that includes diversifying our energy market, improving environmental safety and creating thousands of good middle-class jobs, including good jobs in indigenous communities.
    Canadians understand all of these things are possible if this project is done right.

[English]

    The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
    (The House adjourned at 7:48 p.m.)
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