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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 430

CONTENTS

Monday, June 10, 2019




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 430
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer



Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

  (1105)  

[English]

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act

     The House resumed from May 10 consideration of the motion that Bill S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins), be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to speak to this important issue today.
    I want to thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for bringing Bill S-203 to the House. The bill looks at the reality of phasing out the captivity of dolphins, whales and porpoises.
    The riding that I represent, North Island—Powell River, is along the ocean, and these are beings that we live with. That interaction is very important to us. I think of the times I have spent watching this wildlife engage with us in their free natural state. It is important that we are talking about this issue here today.
    I also want to take this opportunity to thank my caucus colleague, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, for his dedication to the country's oceans, rivers and streams. His commitment to protecting the wildlife that lives within them has resonated with people across Canada. He will not be sitting in the House with us much longer, so it is important to acknowledge the work he has done on files like this one.
    I also want to take this opportunity to thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley has always had a special place in my heart because he represents the area where I grew up. I really respect his connection with the communities in that largest of ridings in British Columbia.
    A couple of weeks ago, the member came to my riding to talk about his private member's bill on zero-waste packaging. That issue is a huge concern in my riding. Packaging made of plastic takes so long to deteriorate and we know the impact it is having on our oceans.
    Without that member's work we would not be standing here today debating Bill S-203. I understand that he is working with the minister right now to push forward his important piece of legislation around zero-waste packaging. It deals with an important issue to make sure we do not fill our landfills with plastics anymore.
    If it were not for the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley accepting a letter from me, the member for Courtenay—Alberni, the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, our colleague from Victoria and Laurel Collins asking him to give up his spot on today's private members' hour, we would not be debating this bill today. I want to acknowledge that and thank him for continuing to work so hard on his zero waste packaging legislation. He will not give up, which is something that I appreciate deeply about the member.
    Bill S-203 proposes to phase out the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Canada, except in situations like rehabilitation or rescue.
    New Democrats will always support the ethical and useful research of these beings in the water, but the research can take place in the wild. Scientists in the wild environment can get a realistic view of the natural behaviours of these animals without causing a lifetime of pain and suffering, which we know is the reality when they are held in captivity.
    What we have heard from scientists is that these beings suffer in confinement. They suffer a sense of isolation, serious health problems, reduced lifespans, high infant mortality rates, sensory deprivation, as well as trauma from the transfer to other parks and calf separation.
    This bill speaks to an important issue where we can get it right and do the right thing. Given the evidence, captive facilities cannot provide for these beings' social or biological needs.
    Keeping them in captivity is cruel. They are intelligent social animals. They are acoustically sensitive marine beings that spend their time in the vast oceans. They dive deep down to places many of us will never see.
    When we look at their freedom in the wild, to swim freely, to dive deeply, when we think about their confinement, it is so much less. We have heard it is less than 1% of the range that they are used to. Can members imagine that? None of us in this place can imagine being in our environment, doing the things that we do, and suddenly being put into a small box and told that we have to be successful and perform for other people. We cannot ask these beings to do that.
    It reminds me of what Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” This is an opportunity in this House to move forward because we now know better, so it is time for us to do better.
    Unlike many issues, this really is not a partisan issue. It is a moral issue. It is a bill that is supported by science. We know that whales, porpoises and dolphins in captivity suffer in a way that cannot be justifiable. We know that this bill, Bill S-203, is a reasonable one. It is a balanced piece of legislation. It grandfathers the process and it gives zoos and aquariums time to phase out this practice. This is the right thing to do and I hope everyone in this House takes the opportunity to support this.
    When we think about the grandfathering process out of captivity that Bill S-203 proposes, we know it will do important things. It will ban live captures under the Fisheries Act, except for rescues when some being out there needs help. Currently, captures are legal if they are licensed. We all need to pause and take a moment to think about what that means. We know that the last capture that happened was belugas near Churchill in 1992, so it is a practice that is not being implemented. However, the fact that it is still there is very concerning, and this bill would remove it.
    Bill S-203 also bans imports and exports, except if licensed for scientific research. This is a hard one, but we want to see an open water sanctuary. We want to see the process happen in a way that is best for the whale, the dolphin or the porpoise. We want to make sure it is under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. These are important factors that this bill can bring forward.
    Finally, this bill would ban breeding under the animal cruelty provisions of the Criminal Code. This is also very important.
    Right now there is a bill before the Senate, Bill C-68, that would prohibit the captures but it would not restrict imports or exports by law nor would it ban breeding. This is why we need this bill. This is why I will be supporting it. This is the action that needs to be taken to complete what is happening already.
    Twenty marine mammal biologists from around the world released a letter supporting Bill S-203. They said, “At a minimum, the maintenance of odontocetes [toothed whales, dolphins and porpoises] in commercial captive display facilities for entertainment purposes is no longer supported or justified by the growing body of science on their biological needs.”
     We know it is the right thing to do and it is time to make sure that people have the opportunity to see these beautiful animals in the wild, to respect what they need and to create a new relationship. Keeping them enclosed is not the right way to go.
    When we look at the wild, we know that dolphins, whales and porpoises travel up to 100 miles daily feeding and socializing with other members of their pods. The pods can contain hundreds of individuals with complex social bonds and hierarchies. That is their natural state. In captivity they are in small enclosures and unable to swim in a straight line for any distance. They do not have the ability to dive deep. Sometimes they are housed alone or housed with other animals they are not naturally used to being with. When we look at that isolation with this concern in mind, we know this is the right thing to do.
    I look forward to seeing support from all members in this House. We can do the right thing. Today is the day and I look forward to seeing a positive vote.

  (1110)  

    Mr. Speaker, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, I am proud to speak in support of Bill S-203, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts, also known as the act for ending the captivity of whales and dolphins.
    I also realize that I am speaking to the bill two days after World Oceans Day. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and this past weekend, Canadians across the country raised awareness and celebrated our magnificent oceans. I took part in two community cleanups in Conception Bay, where I live.
    While our oceans are vast and full of life, we also recognize the peril many of our ocean friends and marine ecosystems face due to threats from climate change and, of course, pollution. More than ever, we must work together to ensure that our oceans are clean and healthy for the many species that call them home, and to support our communities that depend on them.
    Let us imagine whales and dolphins, which are used to having the ocean as their playground or feeding ground, being put in a cage not much bigger than a large outdoor swimming pool. Let us imagine the effect this would have on their ability to survive and flourish if they ever were released again. Let us imagine ourselves being put in a room which is 10 feet by 10 feet and being told that is where we have to live out the rest of our days. It certainly would have drastic effects on anyone, or on any animal, for that matter.
    The bill has been strongly supported by my constituents of Avalon, and several members of the House have also supported the bill moving forward. I would like to thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, who has been strongly advocating for the bill to move forward in the House, and all the other members who have spoken on the necessity of the bill for the protection of our whales and dolphins.
    As many members know, the bill comes to us from the Senate, first by retired senator Wilfred Moore, who originally brought the bill forward in 2016, and then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair. The work of these senators cannot go without mention. I would like to thank them for their leadership when it comes to the protection of our oceans and the species that call them home.
    Whales and dolphins are part of our Canadian wildlife, and we are very lucky to have them live in our waters. In Newfoundland and Labrador, whales are a major tourist attraction. We see many visitors each year and if they are not coming to see the icebergs, they are coming to see the whales.
    Canadians know how important it is to preserve our marine wildlife. That is why our government is not only supporting Bill S-203, but through Bill C-68, making amendments that also strengthen the bill.
    Over the years, we have come to learn more and more about the nature of whales and dolphins and the conditions required for their livelihood. Research has told us that these animals undergo an immense amount of stress when taken into captivity, and this stress persists throughout their life. That is why Canadians and this government support the bill banning the captivity of whales and dolphins.
    I want to thank the House leadership team, especially the member for Waterloo, for working so hard to get the bill through the House at this time. Again, I commend the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Senator Moore and Senator Sinclair for their leadership on the bill and this issue, which is important to so many Canadians. I support the bill and look forward to its passage.

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House to speak to Bill S-203. Despite good intentions, this legislation is flawed in its current form. It should come as no surprise that there are many issues with this bill. In the short time it has been before the House for consideration, one of the major problems identified is an English-French language conflict in the text of the bill.
    As we all know, Canada is a bilingual country. Our two official languages are French and English, and all legislation drafted and passed in Parliament reflects this. Anyone who has ever read these documents knows that the English text is on the left side, while the French text is on the right. We also know that Canadian laws and legislation must be applied in the same manner for all Canadians, regardless of language. This is fundamental for ensuring a fair justice system, which is key to our democracy. Otherwise, it would be grossly unfair and inhumane for a state to subject its citizens to different laws and penalties based on the language they speak. I hope in this place, and across Canada, we can all agree on that.
    That is why I believe the mistake in Bill S-203 was an unfortunate oversight made by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Issues like this are more likely to happen when legislation is rushed through the process without being subject to a thorough study. As members may know, Bill S-203 was given only two meetings before it was pushed ahead without amendment.
    It began on March 18, 2019. In a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the government member from Miramichi—Grand Lake identified an important and significant language conflict in the text of Bill S-203. The following is a quote from the Evidence, as the member questioned a department official on this issue:
    Another thing that would need to be clarified for me is clause 4 of Bill S-203 to prohibit the importation to Canada of living cetaceans as well as cetacean tissue or embryos, subject to a special permit. Apparently the English text of the clause refers to permits issued pursuant to proposed subsection 10(1.1) of WAPPRIITA [the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act] while the French version of the text is silent on the type of importation permit required. That sounds very odd. I wouldn't know of any other piece of legislation in which the French version would be different from the English version.
    The departmental official replied, “I am not completely sure about the two clauses you are referencing. I haven't done a comparison of the English to the French so I don't have a response for you on that.” In response, the member asked, “Do you think we should clarify that?” The departmental official replied, “It would be important to make sure that the intent in both the English and the French is the same.”
    Interestingly, it was a member of the current government, from a bilingual province, who flagged this critical language concern. It is also interesting how the department official stressed the importance of getting the language right.
    The story does not end there. It continues.
    On March 26, 2019, the Honourable J.C. Major, a former Supreme Court justice, penned a letter to all members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He, too, identified the same language conflict as the member did. However, rather than merely stating his concern, he elevated the issue to be a constitutional matter. In addition to that, he informed the committee that this part requires amendment.
    This is what the Honourable J.C. Major wrote to the members of the committee in his letter:
     I have reviewed the proposed Section 7.1 which is scheduled as an amendment to Bill S-203 of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection Regulation of International and lnterprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).
     In addition I have reviewed the French to English and English to French review certified by...ABCO International which on review concludes that the wording of Section 7.1 between the French and English version is starkly different. The question raised is whether the difference is so material that compliance is affected. In my opinion the differences are material and confusion is inevitable and an amendment is the only remedy that will clarify the intent and purpose of Section 7.1.
     Canada, by virtue of the Federal Government's legislation, confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and evidenced by the Charter of Rights, is officially bilingual. In addition, under S.18 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part 1 of the Constitution Act 1982), both English and French are made equally authoritative.

  (1120)  

     Given that both languages are authoritative and that differences between the French and English drafting of Section 7.1 are materially different, it is apparent that revisions by way of amendment of that section would by its uniformity confirm Parliament's intention as the section would then be clear to parties affected by it and invaluable to the judiciary.
    The latter consideration is important as explained below as case law is replete with decisions evidencing the difficulty the courts in all provinces have from time to time reconciling statutory conflicts and either succeeded in doing so or entering an acquittal.
    Section 7.1 of Bill S-203 is an enforcement provision under the Act. Given the conflict in the English and French versions of the proposed legislation its passage without a clarification amendment would, in the event of an illegal violation and subsequent prosecution, present a dilemma to the court. An obvious example being that an application under the English version would be required to meet the conditions set out in s. 10(1.1) whereas an application adhering to the French version would not. In the result the same law would be different depending on the site of the application. Should a charge be laid under the proposed Section 7.1 the difficulty described would be left to the court then to attempt a reconciliation of the conflict in the language and if not possible to strike down the section and order an acquittal.
    The foregoing is a brief response to the difficulties that are inevitable if there is no amendment clarifying the intent of the legislation.
    It is of value to consider the unequivocal recommendation number 35 of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which concluded “the English and French versions of a bilingual Act must be identical in substance”.
    My observation is that the member and the former Supreme Court justice both share the same concern: There is a language conflict in the bill's text. That common ground should be encouraging. However, what happened next in the committee at clause-by-clause was anything but. My party brought forward two amendments. One would make the English text read the same as the French, and the other would make the French text read the same as the English. Both amendments were rejected by the government, and Justice Major's legal opinion was ignored.
    My second observation at committee was about the four government amendments that the member for Miramichi—Grand Lake suddenly withdrew at clause-by-clause. The withdrawals came as a surprise to the opposition members, because they were sensible amendments. Their intent was largely to coordinate Bill S-203 with the Liberals' own Bill C-68, which I can understand. Both bills share overlapping objectives, and if both were to pass, their implementation could clash or create confusion. In short, it made little sense for the member to make those withdrawals, especially when the changes were responsible ones that the Conservatives were prepared to support.

[Translation]

    Here we are then. This is the second hour of third reading of Bill S-203. This bill is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice was called in. Bill S-203 is a constitutional challenge in waiting, and the scariest thing is that this bill is about to come into force.
    This is as good a time as any to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that the bills we pass are constitutional and legally sound.

  (1125)  

[English]

    Given the government's majority position, this decision ultimately weighs on the Liberal government to do what is right. It must act in the best interests of Canadians. That action is passing legally sound and constitutional legislation.
     So here we are, at the second hour of third reading debate. The bill, in its current form, is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice has weighed in on the constitutionality, and those changes needed to be made. Now is a good time to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that all laws we pass are constitutional and legally sound.
    Given these reasons, I hope the government reconsiders its position on Bill S-203.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a huge honour to speak today in the House of Commons. With this bill and with the support of my hon. colleagues, Canada is on the cusp of making history and ending cetacean captivity and making sure it is a thing of the past. Not only is this important to me, but it is important to the people of my riding, to people right across this country from coast to coast to coast, to countless environmental stewards who have fought hard on this issue, and certainly to the Nuu-chah-nulth people and indigenous people across this country.
     I have heard from many of them. Many Nuu-chah-nulth people see the orca, in their language the kakaw’in, as a spirit animal and as an animal that is a reflection of their ancestors. To think of their ancestors being held in captivity is certainly something they do not want to see happen again.
    If we pass this bill, it would do a couple of things. First, it would give us credibility and legitimacy to take it even further, to push for a global ban on having cetaceans held in captivity. We know that cetaceans held in captivity suffer in a way that is not justifiable. Bill S-203 is a reasonable, balanced piece of legislation.
    Let us look at the life of a captive whale, dolphin or porpoise. In captivity, conditions are spartan and prison-like. Cetaceans suffer confinement, isolation, health problems, reduced lifespans, high infant mortality rates, sensory deprivation and trauma from transfer to other parks and calf separation. Given the evidence, captive facilities cannot provide for their social or biological needs. They need to roam widely and dive deep in order to thrive. The range of captive orcas is only 1/10,000th of 1% the size of their natural home range, and 80% of their time is spent at the surface, looking for food and attention from their trainers, who make the choices for them when they are held in captivity. Captive-born animals are often forcibly weaned and shipped to other facilities, away from their mothers and the only companions they have ever known. It creates unnecessary trauma. It is cruel.
    Let us compare that to wild cetaceans. They spend approximately 80% to 90% of their time under the water. They have the freedom to make their own choices, sometimes travelling up to 100 miles per day, following food and the members of their family. Many of these species, like the orcas, live in complex societies with their own cultures and dialects, maintaining close ties with family and friends. Some remain in family groups for life. For wild orcas, their pod is critical to their survival.
    I want to add that I am excited that we just had a baby orca in the pod off Tofino, witnessed by my good friends Jennifer Steven and John Forde. It is another reminder of the importance of our orcas being able to roam freely in the wild and knowing that a baby orca will not be taken and put into captivity. It is a relief to all of us.
    We know that keeping cetaceans is cruel, given the scientific evidence about their nature and behaviour. They are intelligent, social and acoustically sensitive marine animals.
    New Democrats believe in the power of research, and we know that the continued study of cetaceans can be done ethically in the wild. There, scientists can get a realistic view of their natural behaviours without causing a lifetime of pain and suffering.
    Our party also understands the need for legislation to be measured, and Bill S-203 does balance a fair transition for the two remaining facilities that hold captive cetaceans. It grandfathers in existing animals and gives the zoo and aquarium community a long phase-out period. It is not asking these facilities to close overnight. Certainly we will not be supporting the movement of cetaceans or sale of cetaceans anywhere from those facilities.
    There are a few people we need to thank today. First of all, we need to thank the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who brought their voice to all elected officials, whether in the House of Commons or in the Senate, calling for this legislation to be passed; the environmental groups and animal rights organizations for mobilizing people; and indigenous communities for raising their concerns, which led to the bill and today's debate.

  (1130)  

    Also, there are people in the House whom we need to thank, for coming together and showing this is not a partisan issue; it is a moral issue. First, I want to thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. He had a very important piece of legislation to end zero-waste packaging, with which we hope the government will move forward. It made some announcements today in response to my motion, Motion No. 151, around phasing out single-use plastics. I would like to congratulate the government on that first step, and I look forward to seeing more momentum and movement, especially around industrial-use plastics, and rethinking how we use plastics.
    I thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley because his bill was supposed to be in the House today, and he gave up his spot so we could move forward with this piece of legislation, knowing the only way we could save it was for it to be in the House today. I also want to thank Terrace's Ben Korving. He is the one who helped my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley bring the bill forward on zero-waste packaging through a contest held in his riding to ensure Canadians' voices were heard in the House. We have not lost sight of Ben's work. We have ensured the government heard the proposal that Ben brought forward. I want to thank them both.
    In that same spirit, I want to thank my colleague and friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for the considerable work she has done on this issue and the stewardship she has shown by taking on this bill, working with us to find a path forward and showing a non-partisan approach when it comes to ensuring we do the right thing for cetaceans, which do not have a voice. We are their voice and this is an opportunity to demonstrate what we are going to do to look out for them.
    I want to thank my colleague and friend from Port Moody—Coquitlam, the former vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, who helped move this bill through committee and worked very hard on it. I also want to thank my friend and colleague, the chair of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the member for Avalon, who has done some great work to help ensure the passage of this bill. I really mean that, because without his help, working with all of us in the House, we would not have got this done. I commend him for his work on that.
    This bill would not have made it this far without the courageous and bold efforts of Senator Wilfred Moore. We sometimes raise concerns about the Senate, and I certainly have my doubts right now on a number of pieces of legislation, so I will take it away from the Senate and give it to a human being who is a huge champion, and that is retired senator Wilfred Moore. He has been a champion of this bill. He tabled this bill in the Senate and stayed on this bill even beyond his retirement, showing his dedication and commitment, and we owe him a round of applause. I thank him for being completely committed and devoted to seeing this through.
    I thank Senator Murray Sinclair for taking on and championing this bill in the Senate, bringing the really important wealth of indigenous knowledge and his connections across this country and ensuring those voices were also heard in the Senate.
    In closing, I hope this bill passes very quickly. I thank the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have been the voice of cetaceans, which do not have a voice, and look forward to Canada having legitimacy and credibility on the international stage when it comes to fighting for cetaceans and ending the captivity of whales internationally. I hope that is the next step for our country.

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that I rise today to speak to Bill S-203, which on its surface seems to be popular and appeals to the emotional drives behind it. Like many Canadians, I have seen cetaceans in captivity at places like SeaWorld and the Vancouver Aquarium; and at places like Marineland, where personally I have never been. I just want to put this in context.
    This bill is designed to shut down one business in Canada. There is only one business in Canada actively pursuing or using cetaceans right now for the purpose of entertainment. That is what I want to talk about in this bill.
    I am not against the notion that, if Canadians are by and large against having cetaceans in captivity, we can have that conversation. Of course we can have that conversation. It is the approach that this piece of legislation is taking that concerns me. It concerns me because I am a hunter and an angler. I am a guy who grew up on a farm and used animals every day at every stage and walk in my life. I am a guy who represents two areas of my constituency. One area hosts the Ponoka Stampede and one area hosts the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer.
     I am also a conservationist. I have a zoology degree. I am pretty sure the guys who are laughing at me right now probably do not. I am going to ask that they just sit and think about this for one second. Many scientists appeared before the committee in the Senate and the committee in the House of Commons. They were people with not just bachelor of science degrees in zoology but with Ph.D.s. They were very concerned by the precedent that this piece of legislation would set. I asked the question in the committee whether we could end cetacean captivity in Canada in a simpler way, such as by just ending the permits of this particular business. We could do that by making a small change to the Fisheries Act and to the plant and animal transfer act.
    However, this bill would change three things. It would change the Criminal Code of Canada and would do some interesting things. The bill is not about how humans handle animals or about the welfare or treatment of animals in people's care. The bill would, for the first time ever, make it a criminal act in Canada to keep an animal in captivity. That is the first time in our legislation anywhere that having an animal in captivity would be considered an illegal act. It would be illegal in the Criminal Code of Canada to breed animals, and these particular cetaceans—
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
     I will ask the member to stop. I will not mention who the hon. member is.
    One of the things we have to look at in this chamber is that, when somebody is speaking, whether we agree with the individual or not, out of respect, we deserve to hear what that person has to say. I just want to remind the hon. members that decorum is something we want to keep. Shouting out or laughing while somebody is reading is not proper decorum.
    I will let the hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe continue and, hopefully, we will continue in a respectful manner.
    The hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe.
    Mr. Speaker, all I am asking for is the same respect I granted the speakers from other political parties while I sat and listened to them.
    The problem, as I and the people I represent see it, is with the Criminal Code amendments as well as the follow-through and execution of this piece of legislation, which creates a framework and structure whereby anybody can add onto that by simply adding a comma into the legislation and saying that horses can no longer be kept or used for breeding or for purposes of entertainment. I am not saying that is going to happen, but the structure is actually there in the legislation to do it. One has to ask the question why this would need to be done. Why do we need this sledgehammer in legislation to effect the change we are looking for?
    We are known by the company we keep. If we look at the organizations that are publicly and vocally expressing support for this bill, we see they call for the end of things like rodeos, fishing, eating animals and raising animals on a farm. These organizations, like Animal Justice and some SPCAs, call for these kinds of things. This is the company that this piece of legislation is keeping.
    As I said, I am actually okay with it. I understand the science behind cetaceans and that not all cetaceans do well in captivity, but we also have to be logical. We have to think with our heads too about whether this is the right way to go. I will give an example. Dr. Laura Graham, who has a Ph.D., testified at committee and said there is no actual definition of cruel anywhere in this bill. As I said, it would create new definitions. For the very first time, it would make it illegal and criminalize the breeding of animals. This is something that is a very dangerous precedent for anybody involved in animal husbandry or any of these industries.
    Dr. Laura Graham says that the definition of cruel is not anywhere in this bill, and as a scientist, she finds the lack of objective assessment troubling. She has also observed that the people pushing this bill are dismissing the importance of zoos and aquariums in educating the public and eliciting a concern for conservation and saving the planet.
    As a matter of fact, she highlighted a very specific case about Vaquita dolphins down in the Gulf of Mexico, of which there are about 10 left; that is all that is left. If we were to use the facilities in Vancouver, Marineland and various SeaWorld installations as something other than entertainment, but rather as a conservation tool, through captive breeding programs we could potentially some day get to the point where we could release a viable population of Vaquita dolphins back into the wild.
    I will get back to Dr. Graham in a second. When I was talking to Senator Sinclair at committee, I asked him about this notion of going to a national park, for example. Where I live in Alberta, there is a park called Elk Island National Park, which is not the typical national park that people think of when they go to national parks in their neighbourhoods. Elk Island National Park is a completely fenced-in enclosure. It is a captive facility for the purpose of breeding and population enhancement. People buy a park pass and go in there for the purpose of seeing that wildlife. They may have other purposes, but make no doubt about it, they go there to see the elk and the bison. There has just been a relatively successful, depending on the standards one wants to measure it by, reintroduction of bison into Yukon. There has been reintroduction of bison into Banff National Park, which would not have happened without the captive facility and the breeding program that went with it to re-establish this population.
    The whole argument behind getting rid of cetacean captivity is an emotional one. I get it. Look, I have those same convictions when I look at animals in captivity as well. As a guy who goes hunting and fishing and sees all kinds of things in the wild, I get those same heartstring tugs that everybody else gets. I am not some cold and cruel individual. I get the arguments. However, as a conservationist, I also know that we need to make use of every tool available to us in order to help reintroduce wildlife lost through bad practices or mismanagement. Not everybody in the world does things as well as Canada, and we do not do some things all that well either.
    However, we have an opportunity to ask ourselves if this bill is actually going to do more harm than good in the long run. It is the same emotional tug that wants us to end the captivity of whales and dolphins that never would have created these facilities in the first place. The City of Vancouver made the choice to end cetacean captivity for the purposes of entertainment without needing this big piece of legislation to do it, yet that facility is still used for rescue and rehabilitation of cetaceans.

  (1140)  

    It could just as easily use that facility to save a population of belugas, such as the population of belugas in the St. Lawrence Seaway. We know from the experience at Marineland that belugas are actually breeding quite well there. This legislation would be for the express purpose of making that breeding impossible or illegal, actually to the point that someone could go to jail for it. What is that going to do? It is going to split up that family pod at Marineland. It is going to separate the males from the females, and it is going to create the exact same issue that others are arguing captivity is causing in the first place. It is going to create divisiveness and stress in those families.
    We know that belugas in captivity are quite successful at breeding. They have a very high success rate. They have a very high birth rate and a very high survival rate. We have populations of belugas right now in the world that are in trouble. If we do not get the environmental conditions right in nature, in the wild, before those populations are actually gone for good, we would have an opportunity to save those genetics. We could actually use the revenue from letting people come and watch them to help the science and research and help that captive breeding program do more good than harm in this particular case.
    That is what I am asking my friends in the House to consider. Yes, it is going to be very popular to vote in favour of this bill. We have Free Willy and Blackfish and others movies that create the desire to do what we think is right.
    Dr. Laura Graham talked about Dr. Jane Goodall. She had the same feeling about keeping chimpanzees in captivity, and then she changed her mind. As the habitat was encroaching on the natural range of these chimpanzees, as she saw how zoos and other captive facilities were treating these animals and as research and knowledge expanded, she changed her mind. I am simply asking my colleagues to at least consider that before passing this flawed legislation.

  (1145)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to speak today during the final hour of debate after several years of work on a bill that is important to the world's whales.

[English]

    I am particularly honoured to rise this morning because we are at the point that most members in this place appear ready to see this legislation pass. The legislation was first brought forward in the last few days of the Senate sitting of 2015. It has been, to put it mildly, a long haul.
    The hon. member just raised concerns, and I think all concerns by my colleagues in this place are legitimate. However, it is important for anyone watching this debate to recognize that the bill is based on science.
    Many scientists testified as to why it is critical that we stop keeping cetaceans in captivity. We understand why. They are obviously not akin to livestock, for instance. Cetaceans require the ocean. They require the space. They require acoustic communication over long distances. The scientists who testified before the committee who made the case so strongly made it based on science.
    Yes, Canadians care. Yes, the school children who wrote to us in the thousands were not moved by the science; they were moved because they see movies and nature films and they understand that whales, dolphins and porpoises are of a different character than other animals.
    I would reassure my friend that we could not just substitute the name for another species. Bill S-203 is firmly tied to the Fisheries Act. I do not think we would find any horses in the wild in the ocean. We have tied it down legislatively in such a way that others should not worry that there will be a creeping effect.
    In the time remaining, I want to say how grateful I am for the non-partisan spirit. It has been my entire honour to be the sponsor of this legislation in the House. I am enormously grateful to my colleagues.
    I mentioned the scientists. Let me thank Dr. Visser, who testified at committee, coming in by Skype from New Zealand in the days right after the Christchurch killings. It was an emotional time for everyone. I would also like to thank Dr. Naomi Rose, and from Dalhousie University, Dr. Hal Whitehead. Phil Demers, a former whale trainer at Marineland, offered excellent real-life testimony as to the cruelty of keeping whales in captivity.
    Certainly Senator Wilfred Moore and Senator Murray Sinclair have done an enormous amount to help. So too has the government representative in the Senate, Senator Harder.
    I also want to thank the Minister of Fisheries and his predecessor for taking companion elements in Bill S-203 and embedding them in Bill C-68. Bill C-68, the reform of the Fisheries Act, remains before the Senate.
    I want to take a moment to urge all colleagues in the other place to move Bill C-68 through. I also urge everyone here, if there are amendments, to move Bill C-68 through, because the Fisheries Act is critically important on many scores, as well as being companion legislation to Bill S-203.
    Again, in a non-partisan spirit, I want to thank the hon. member for Port Moody—Coquitlam, who we will miss in this place, and the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. I also want to mention his constituent, Ben Korving, who put forward the legislation regarding zero-waste packaging. I pledge, as leader of the Green Party, to take on Ben Korving's motion and make sure that it does not die in this place, because those members made a sacrifice to allow Bill S-203 to pass before we rise at the end of June.
    I also want to thank the hon. member for Beaches—East York, a Liberal, and my friend from Courtenay—Alberni, who was gracious in his praise earlier.
    Everyone pulled together on this. The member for Charlottetown, the parliamentary secretary, helped enormously.

  (1150)  

[Translation]

    I would once again like to thank my Bloc Québécois colleague, the member for Repentigny.

[English]

    I know that there were Conservative colleagues who did what they could.
    I cannot tell members how important this legislation is. I will close with a few words that we have not heard in this place before. They are from the book of Job. They are found in chapter 41, verse 1.
    

Behold, Behemoth,
which I made as I made you;...

He is the first of the works of God;...

Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?...
Will traders bargain over him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants?...

On earth there is not his like,...
He sees everything that is high;
he is king over all the sons of pride.

    To everyone in this place, let us think for a moment. We behold Leviathan. He belongs in the wild. He will never again be placed in a swimming pool in this country.
    The question is as follows. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Suspension of Sitting 

    The House will now suspend until 12 p.m.

    (The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:52 a.m.)

Sitting Resumed  

    (The House resumed at 12 p.m.)


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Business of Supply]

  (1200)  

[Translation]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Telecommunications  

    That, given telecommunication services in Canada cost more than most other countries in the world, leaving far too many Canadians with unaffordable, inadequate or no service at all, the House call on the government to implement measures that will make those services more affordable, including:
(a) a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill;
(b) abolishing data caps for broadband Internet and mandating that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services;
(c) putting an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a Telecom Consumers’ Bill of Rights;
(d) revisiting the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit most from the revenue, rather than repeating the failures of previous Liberal and Conservative governments, which squandered almost $20 billion from previous auctions; and
(e) directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reverse their rural and remote broadband implementation policy, which condemns these areas, including many Indigenous communities, to years of substandard broadband and wireless services.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I want to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the fabulous member for Jonquière.

[English]

    I want to praise the work of the member of Parliament for Windsor West. He has been dogged and determined in bringing fairness to the telecom charges people are paying across the country. He does an extraordinary job. He will be speaking in the House a bit later on today. Right now, he is in a press conference, ensuring that journalists across the length and breadth of the country are familiar with the NDP's five-point plan to not only save Canadians money, but also expand telecom coverage right across the country so broadband and cellular services are made available in remote areas where they are not available now.
    What does the five-point NDP plan mean and what does it mean if Parliament adopts it? It could mean a savings of up to $600 a year for a Canadian. I want to go into that in some detail, because Canadians are struggling to make ends meet.
    As members are aware, half of Canadians are $200 away from insolvency in any one month. Over the past few decades, we have seen more inequality and a greater struggle for average Canadian families to make ends meet. It should be a source of shame for us that the average Canadian family now has the worst family debt load in any country in the industrialized world. That means Canadians have been struggling to make ends meet and for decades, the federal government has done very little to assist them with that. We often find that lobbyists, such as the big Internet companies from the United States, which do not even pay taxes in Canada, have had an influence. The lobbyists for the telecom companies have also made a difference. Therefore, it is common sense, not rocket science, to simply have the federal government take the measures needed to make a difference in the lives of Canadians.
    As we know, in the developed world, Canadians pay some of the highest prices for mobile, wireless and broadband services. It costs them a lot more per month than people who live in other countries. That means price gouging is taking place. The federal government has basically allowed big telecom to gouge Canadians with impunity. That has to end. The NDP five-point plan would put measures in place to ensure that would not happen anymore.
    Let us take one example. This has come out of many studies, which have shown consistently that the average price for Canadians who have a two gigabyte plan per month for data, and I am among them, as I am sure many Canadians are, is now somewhere in the neighbourhood of $75 to $76 a month. How does that compare with plans in other parts of the world? Obviously if Canadians are paying too much, then putting measures in place to ensure Canadians are not being gouged makes a great deal of sense.
    Similar studies show the difference between what Canadians pay and what people in other parts of the industrialized world pay. If we were in Toronto, a monthly plan for two gigabytes of data would cost about $75.50 a month. What is the price for a two gigabyte plan in Paris? The same two gigabyte plan would cost $30.91. That is a substantive difference. The difference can basically be summed up as the big telecom companies in Canada are allowed to gouge Canadians with impunity. In other parts of the world, governments have taken action to restrict the amount of money that can be gouged from the consumer.

  (1205)  

    In London, the same gigabyte plan, which is $30 in Paris and $75 in Canada, is $26.56 on average, which is $50 less per month than in Canada. In Rome, for the same plan, two gigabytes per month, one would pay $24.70. Those are European examples.
    We can look at a country that is similar to our country, such as Australia, which is a vast land and differing infrastructure. Many parts of Australia are remote, as are many parts of Canada. Australia has put in place measures to ensure it had a cellphone and Internet broadband infrastructure. Australia has found that those same prices are substantially less than what they are in Canada. I mentioned $24.70 and that is the price per month in Australia. Therefore, it is $50 less a month for a two-gigabyte plan in Australia, which faces the same infrastructure challenges, as Canada does, with its vast expanse. It has a better degree of remote broadband and cellphone access. It has put in place a better infrastructure, and the cost per month for the average Australian is $50 a month less than in Canada.
    I talked about Italy, and I misspoke a moment ago. In Rome, if one is looking at broadband and wireless access, it would cost $21.11, which is a profound difference to Canada. Canadians are paying about $50 more for a two-gigabyte plan, and this is just one of many examples.
     Consumers living in France, the United Kingdom, Italy or in the vast expanse of Australia are paying $50 a month less for a two-gigabyte plan than we are in Canada. There is no other way to explain this except rampant price gouging and governments refusing to protect consumers. That ends today with the NDP five-point plan.
    The motion was read earlier, but it is important to reiterate what the NDP five-point plan is proposing.
    First, we would put a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill. This is a best practice that other countries have put in place and it has saved money for their consumers.
    Second, we would abolish data caps for broadband Internet and mandate that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services. This abolishing of the data cap has also made a substantive difference for consumers in other countries who are paying substantially less, $600 a year less. What could the Canadian population, the middle-class, working-class families, do with that $600 more they are paying compared to the Italian, French, English or Australian consumers. There is simply no way to legitimize or justify the price gouging that is taking place.
    Third, we would put an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a telecom consumers’ bill of rights.
    Fourth, we would revisit the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit.
    Fifth, we would redirect the CRTC to stop its interpretation that is guaranteeing substandard broadband and wireless services for rural and remote communities.
    This five-point plan makes sense to everybody but the big telecom lobbyists. It makes sense for Parliament to adopt it today. The result would be a $600 saving per year for the average Canadian family. It would make a difference.
     Therefore, I urge all members to vote for the NDP five-point plan to reduce the cost of telecom and to expand services in the country.

  (1210)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my fellow British Columbian raising an important topic. Canadians obviously are finding life less affordable under the Liberal government and we should be looking for ways to find some relief for them.
    In true NDP form, the intention is fine, but the execution is terrible. Some of the policies being presented in the motion are right out of the 1970s. The “zap, you're frozen” approach of a price cap would alter the way we can access new technologies. For example, 5G technology is coming. It will require tens of billions of dollars of new Internet infrastructure. It will allow Canadian businesses and Canadian individuals to innovate. However, with a price cap, how does the member propose that those investments of tens of billions of dollars be made?
    Can the member explain how, under a price cap where the price is pushed down to a certain amount, companies will be able to unroll this 5G technology that people want?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are supporting the big telecom lobbyists, like they have done with big oil and gas. No matter how much money the Liberals pour into companies, for the Conservatives it never seems to be enough. Here is a case where the Conservatives could have taken action for 10 years and never did. That means every Canadian consumer, including consumers in the member's own riding, are paying $600 more than they should be because of the lack of government action. The member threw out a drive-by insult, but the reality is that other countries have put these measures in place. Other countries have protected their consumers and it is about time the Canadian government actually protected consumers.
    Another point is that this would also have a profound impact on small businesses. Small businesses are being gouged, including in the member's own riding. Putting these measures in place not only helps individual Canadian families but it helps small businesses that can be competitive and create jobs in communities right across the country.
    The average revenue per gigabyte in Canada is up to 70 times for big telecom than it is in other countries. We are talking about excessive windfall profits. We need some common sense and decency and we need to save money for Canadian consumers.

  (1215)  

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians as a whole, compared to people in other countries in the world, are very well-educated consumers. They understand the principles of consumption, for the most part.
    I appreciated some of the statistics the member across the way gave. It is really important when drawing comparisons to compare apples to apples. I am glad the member brought up the country of Australia. Let us say the disposable income of an individual is x dollars and the average cost of housing is around 30% or 32%. Has the member across the way or the NDP done a calculation related to the average cost for communications for a consumer in Australia compared to in Canada? Just to say one bill is $60 and another bill is $50, we do not know what that works out to in terms of the percentage of an individual's annual income.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish the member had listened to my speech, but he will have other opportunities as other NDP members explain it again later on.
    The difference I cited is for a two gigabytes per month plan. The average cost in Canada, in places like Toronto or the member's own riding in Winnipeg, is $75.44 per month. In Sydney, Australia, for example, it is $24.70. That is what I cited in my speech and I will be reiterating it throughout the course of the day. There is simply no way to justify Canadians in Winnipeg having to pay $50 per month more for their telecom, wireless and broadband services, than an Australian pays. They have the same infrastructure challenges, apples to apples.
    What has happened, though, in Australia is that the government has taken effective measures to ensure there are not these windfall profits and that consumers are not being gouged. That is what New Democrats are bringing to the floor of the House of Commons today.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, no one in the House would be surprised to hear that cellphone service in Canada today is amongst the most expensive in the world. This should spur us into action. This is 2019 and we live in one of the world's major economies. Canada is a G7 country, and yet we are often a laughing stock.
    Canadian consumers are paying as much as tens of times more for their cellphone plans than people in Europe or Asia, so they should at least have access to quality service. In some areas of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, such as Lamarche, which is located between Saint-Fulgence and Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, on Highway 172 heading towards Lac-Saint-Jean, you sometimes have to stop your car and hope that the call does not drop in the middle of your conversation.
    Access to affordable cellular and high-speed Internet services has become a necessity these days, both at home and at work. It is an essential economic tool in a large region like Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean.
    Canadians deserve to have reliable telecommunications service, without having to pay $20, $30 or $40 more than in other OECD countries for a similar plan.
    Consider this: a two-gigabyte data plan costs a Canadian consumer the same as unlimited data plans in several dozen other countries. Telecommunications lobbies have long argued that the prices are justified because of Canada's geography and its significant impact on the cost of maintenance, but that argument does not hold water. For example, Australia has even bigger geographic challenges than Canada and yet it is able to offer faster connectivity and more affordable plans than we get here at home.
    It is high time for the Liberals to take action, vote in favour of the NDP motion and have the courage to stand up to the Canadian telecommunications giants to provide Canadians with affordable plans.
    The way forward is clear. It is unacceptable that in 2019, several regions of a G7 country still do not have quality Internet and cellular connectivity at an affordable rate. This is even more unacceptable when we know that compared to many other countries, Canadian telecommunications companies generate obscene revenues for less service. Canadian providers pocket 23 times as much revenue per gigabyte as telecoms in Finland, and 70 times as much as those in India.
    Naturally, this reality is putting off many businesses whose growth directly depends on affordable, high-quality national telecommunications services from investing in Canada. The upshot is that we are losing investors, who would rather focus on countries where wireless and high-speed Internet services are less expensive. This needs to stop.
    The Liberals have nonchalantly released a report stating that there is nothing wrong with the rates, the Conservatives are shouting from the rooftops that we should trust market forces to take care of everything, but all the while, nothing is getting done.
    To put an end to this farce, the NDP is moving a motion today to make our wireless and broadband services more affordable and more accessible.
    Our proposal contains five components. First, we are calling on the government to implement a price cap to lower bills, especially cellphone bills. In Ontario, Rogers' 85-gigabyte plan costs $415 a month. Honestly, Europeans could get a lifetime plan with virtually unlimited data for a tenth of the price. That is just ridiculous.
    Second, we are calling for data caps for broadband Internet to be abolished and for companies to be mandated to create unlimited data plans at affordable rates. Together, these two steps, abolishing data caps and mandating companies to create unlimited data plans, would upend the current pricing structure by creating more affordable rates providing better value for consumers.

  (1220)  

    Every supplier would finally have an inexpensive base plan similar to what is offered in the OECD. That is not so much to ask.
    Third, we are asking that a telecommunications consumers' bill of rights be created to eliminate certain unacceptable sales and service practices. This proposal is based on previous recommendations by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to regulate the industry.
    Creating this bill of rights that clearly spells out the rights of consumers would help everyone make more informed purchases and above all would be an effective means of combatting certain scandalous sales and service practices. Agreements between operators to increase prices, arbitrary price increases and one-off discounts are a thing of the past.
    Fourth, the spectrum auction system is in dire need of an overhaul to ensure that ordinary Canadians benefit fully from revenues. At present, new spectrum licences are auctioned from time to time by the Canadian government. The 600-megahertz band, for example, is prized by operators for its ability to penetrate concrete buildings in urban areas.
    The problem is that ordinary Canadians do not benefit from these auctions. In 2001, billions of dollars in licences were granted to telecommunications companies, which do very heavy lobbying. None of these auctions is designed to protect consumers, to lower prices or to increase investments to ensure that Canadians in rural and remote areas have access to affordable, quality services. This must change.
    Fifth, we are calling on the CRTC to reverse its rural and remote broadband implementation policy in rural and remote areas. A decision made this fall slashed speeds by half of the speeds announced by the government in 2016 for rural and remote areas. This policy condemns these regions to years of substandard service. For years now, I have been sounding the alarm to protect competitiveness in my region of Saguenay. The region needs access to cell service and high-speed Internet, but nothing is being done to make these services more accessible or affordable.
    Since 2015, I have been attending meeting after meeting with local elected officials in Lamarche and Labrecque to advance the cellphone file in that area. The Liberals have always turned a deaf ear. The mayor of Labrecque, Éric Simard, announced a few months ago that approximately half the residents of his municipality were still having connection problems. That is unacceptable.
    The government needs to face facts. Its connectivity plan does not meet the needs of the people of Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. There was nothing in the government's last budget to finally give rural and remote areas access to reliable and affordable telecommunications services. The government is giving even more money to rich corporations so that they can expand access to high-speed Internet, but the people of Saguenay know full well that the telecom giants will never do anything to meet the needs of rural areas. These companies would rather invest in urban areas, where they can turn a higher profit.
    It is time that the Prime Minister stopped finding billions of dollars just to subsidize his private sector friends. It is time that the Prime Minister had the courage to stand up to the big telecom companies and rein them in. The people of Jonquière have been waiting for years for a program to build cell towers.
    When will we be able to benefit from a cellular network designed for the 21st century?
    This problem is not unique to my riding. A total of 63% of rural households across the country still do not have access to broadband high-speed Internet and 0% have access in the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, where over 70% of major roads and highways still do not have access to proper cellular service.

  (1225)  

    
    Mr. Speaker, I am having a little difficulty understanding the NDP motion. Obviously we are familiar with the problems the New Democrats have raised, but I do not see any solutions in their motion. Did they read budget 2019? It includes an accelerated capital cost allowance for businesses. We also expanded the infrastructure fund, adding Internet services and cell towers to the eligible categories, which is a first. We also set aside $1.7 billion, despite the member's claim that there was nothing in budget 2019. On top of that, to support innovation, we invested in Telesat to look at the entire country. We also worked with the CRTC, which created a $750 million fund.
    Did the NDP members read budget 2019 and see the concrete measures it includes?
    Will they acknowledge the action we have taken to change the situation with respect to Internet access?
    Mr. Speaker, if my colleague had listened to my whole speech, he would have heard me list the five measures that the NDP is proposing in its motion. I am happy to reread them:
(a) a price cap to ensure every Canadian saves money on their bill;
(b) abolishing data caps for broadband Internet and mandating that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services;
(c) putting an end to egregious and outrageous sales and services practices through a Telecom Consumers' Bill of Rights;
(d) revisiting the structure of the spectrum auction to make sure everyday Canadians benefit most from the revenue, rather than repeating the failures of previous Liberal and Conservative governments, which squandered almost $20 billion from previous auctions; and
(e) directing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reverse their rural and remote broadband implementation policy, which condemns these areas, including many Indigenous communities, to years of substandard broadband and wireless services.
    Those are the five measures that the NDP is proposing in its motion. I hope that was clear. I can spend this entire opposition day repeating it if need be. Yes, we read the budget and, in answer to the next question, I will give some examples showing that the Liberal government's investments are inadequate.

  (1230)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have done a terrible job when it comes to this issue. The Auditor General found their connect to innovate program poorly designed. The Liberals have done announcements, but less than 10% has actually been funded.
    In addition, the member has suggested some alternative paths. Number one of their points was a price cap. In the Auditor General report of last fall, the Auditor General said it would take tens of billions of dollars to invest and bring up substandard Internet access, particularly in rural and remote communities. A price cap would be the fastest way to stop reinvestment, which would see rural areas receive the connectivity we all want to see.
    I would simply ask the NDP member this question. Does she have a solution? If the amount of money is lowered that goes into the industry to be able to supply these things in order to have rural connectivity, where is the money going to come from? Where is the money, in the self-created shortfall the NDP is creating in investment, going to come from?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question about prices.
    We need to give small businesses a chance to set up shop in our communities. Earlier, I mentioned the mayor of Labrecque, Éric Simard. Some people in his municipality are still isolated, because the big telecom companies do not think there are not enough people to warrant investment. This means residents cannot choose to work from home, for example, and teens who live in these municipalities and want to pursue higher education have to move to big cities to access all services at a lower cost.
    In Saint-Fulgence, in my riding, I often have to pull over in my car to talk on the phone, and my calls get dropped. It is 2019, and it is unacceptable that our calls get dropped when we pull over to use the phone, and that isolated communities do not have access to Internet and other telecommunications services.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.
    Today I have the pleasure of rising to highlight the excellent work our government has accomplished, no matter what the opposition may say, over the past four years to support Canada's telecommunications sector and Canadians, who work hard and rely on these Internet and mobile services every day. Telecommunications services are essential to all Canadians, regardless of where they are. That is why the government's telecommunications policy focuses on three objectives, namely quality, coverage and affordability.

  (1235)  

[English]

    Canadians need access to high-quality telecommunications services where they live and work in order to participate and thrive in the digital society and economy. Canada is already among the world's leaders when it comes to fast wireless networks. However, we understand that more can be done in terms of coverage to ensure that everyone can benefit.

[Translation]

     Cell coverage is essential, and Canadians find service issues frustrating. The government has taken steps to expand wireless and broadband access in rural areas. I am from Gaspé, where 40 towns in the riding of Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia will have access to high-speed Internet as of next year thanks to a $45-million investment. The people who live in those 40 towns, including Grosses-Roches, Matapédia, Carleton-sur-Mer and Sainte-Félicité, and all across my riding will have fibre optic service with download speeds of up to 100 megabytes. That is the kind of service we hope to offer. As of next year, 98% of the households in my riding will be connected. We have a plan, and that plan is working extremely well.
    Obligations related to service delivery in rural areas like the ones I mentioned earlier must be integrated into spectrum licences to ensure that Canadians across the country have access to state-of-the-art wireless services.

[English]

    This is not just it. Our government is also looking to the future. By 2023, experts expect as much as 10 connected devices for every person on earth. This is just the beginning. Wireless airwaves, known as spectrum, are essential to supporting increasing demand for data.
    Our government is responding, especially by releasing new types of spectrum, as announced by my colleague the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development last week at the telecom summit. The goal is to ensure that the right spectrum is ready at the right time.

[Translation]

    Releasing spectrum is part of the government's broader rural strategy, which also includes the connect to innovate program. The program will invest up to $500 million between now and 2021 to improve access to high-speed Internet in more than 900 rural and remote communities.
    Also, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, recently announced the details of its $750-million broadband fund. The CRTC's goal for the fund is to ensure that wireless coverage includes as many major roads as possible. Wireless projects will be chosen on the basis of geographic coverage and kilometres of road covered.

[English]

    Supporting new technologies also requires private investment in network infrastructure. In 2016, Canadian telecommunications companies invested more than $11 billion in their networks. Wireless 4G networks, also known as LTE, are now available to 99% of Canadians.
    The government understands the need for reliable and affordable high-speed Internet and mobile coverage. We also believe that Canadians in all regions should have affordable access to these services.

[Translation]

    Our government is working hard to ensure that all Canadians can benefit from quality telecommunications services at the best possible price. The 2018 annual report shows that competition is starting to have a downward impact on the price of wireless and Internet services.
    Competition has driven the price on mobile wireless service markets down by 16% since last year. It is no secret that despite the progress that has been made, prices remain high compared to other countries.

[English]

    Our government also supports a competitive marketplace where consumers are treated fairly. This is why we put forward a policy direction that would require the CRTC to consider competition, affordability, consumer interests and innovation in all its communication decisions. We are giving clear direction to the CRTC, but Canadian consumers must be at the forefront of all future decisions. In doing so, we are ensuring that the communications policy will be made through a consumer-first lens to ensure Canadians have access to quality service at more affordable prices.

  (1240)  

[Translation]

    As I was saying, we have already accomplished a lot for Canadian telecommunications consumers. Prices are going down as coverage and speeds increase, which is excellent news.
    We know that we need to do more to keep up with the rapid pace of change. However, only one party has demonstrated clear determination to take concrete action and that is our government. We are working for all Canadians.
    At the beginning of my speech, I gave some tangible examples. Starting in 2017, we announced measures in the regions. If there is one region that is undoubtedly rural, it is the Gaspé Peninsula. In my riding, there are four RCMs and 58 towns and villages. As I was saying, 98% of homes will be connected to fibre optic broadband by next year. We started with the Avignon RCM, then we moved on to La Matapédia. Now it is La Mitis' turn and next it will be La Matanie's. Every village will be connected to high-speed Internet.
    Those are concrete measures that our plan has delivered. We will continue our efforts with the investments we announced in budget 2019, for example. Money has been allocated for infrastructure. In terms of affordability, for example, money will be allocated to provide Internet services at $10 a month to families receiving the Canada child benefit. Our government is implementing concrete measures to ensure that all families will have access to quality services. That is important.
    No region anywhere in Canada should be left behind. Canada is a large country. There are businesses and families in every part of it and all Canadians must be connected to quality services to ensure their full development and allow them to reach their full potential. Once again, our government has implemented a set of measures in pursuit of its specific commitment to ensure that these services are indeed made available.
    I would like to close by saying that I am very proud of the work our government has done. We will continue our efforts because there is still more to be done. In fact, the policy recently put in place by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development seeks to ensure that the customer receiving the service is at the centre of the CRTC's decisions in order to guarantee adequate and timely coverage at a good price.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to this motion and to ask a question.
    It is important to recognize that Canadians received $20 billion for auctioning off the spectrum from the use of the cellphone and the mobile industry. A lot of people are not aware that $20 billion has gone to the coffers of Conservative and Liberal governments and, at the same time, their policies have also resulted in the highest costs in the world. It is a bad policy because it also is coupled with a lack of coverage to 63% of rural and remote areas.
    We heard testimony from the CRTC at the innovation committee this past week where it admitted again that it is cutting the rural and remote speed times down to half the urban times in terms of expectations. On top of that, there is no plan to enforce improvement on that. Why are Liberals building obsolescence for the future of our rural and remote communities?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to remind my colleague that our government has made some significant investments since we came to power. For example, we have invested in about 180 connectivity projects that will give 900 rural or remote communities in Canada access to high-speed Internet.
    I also want to remind him that the cost of Internet services and cellular service dropped by 16% in the past year. Work is ongoing. The minister has implemented a policy to ensure that the CRTC puts customers at the forefront of its decisions. Our objective is to ensure affordable, quality access to all Canadians, no matter where they live.

  (1245)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, for the first time ever, the government has clawed back a spectrum, not because companies did not own up to the conditions of the spectrum but because the spectrum itself was worth more.
    In question period last week, I asked the minister about the clawback and repurpose of the 3,500 megahertz spectrum, and he called it a clawback. The Liberals are kneecapping rural and remote communities where small and regional players have designed networks, have innovated and are supplying services. They are either going to cut services to rural customers or they are going to have a permanent cap on the services' ability to grow.
    Why is the Liberal government talking a good game on affordability and access in rural areas, and handicapping the very people who are offering the services that are bringing up the quality of life of rural residents in Canada?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for his commitment to rural communities across Canada.
    Internet access is not a luxury; it is a necessity. Our government has worked to ensure that Canadians in rural areas can participate fully in the digital economy. This is why we announced changes to the 3,500-megahertz spectrum. We want to support the development of 5G access without jeopardizing Internet access in rural areas.
    I do not think I need to spell it out for my colleague, who knows very well that 5G comes with some particularly transformative benefits for consumers and businesses across Canada. We are keeping our promise to connect all Canadians in rural communities. I want to clarify that we will provide 5G service as soon as it is available, before any other services for rural Canadians are affected.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise today to join in the debate about telecom service in Canada. I am very proud of the work our government has done on this file and what we have achieved.
    Our government is focused on three elements of telecom services that matter most to middle-class families: quality, coverage and price. We are committed to promoting greater competition to give Canadians more choice and better prices. We have been focused on this since coming to office. Solid, reliable broadband and mobile Internet are vital to supporting Canada's vibrant and growing digital economy. Ensuring Canadians have access to the latest technologies is a fundamental part of our innovation and skills plan.
    That is why our government is committed to a national target in which 95% of Canadian homes and businesses will have access to Internet speeds of at least 50/10 megabits per second by 2026 and 100% by 2030. This is an important commitment and one that is perfectly in line with the broadband Internet speed objectives set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, for Canadian households and businesses. To achieve this we are opening up new wireless airwaves also known as spectrum.
    Spectrum is a critical resource for wireless communication and to meet these commitments. Whether it is for smart phones, fixed Internet, streaming videos, or GPS, current and next-generation services would not be possible without these airwaves. New spectrum will also be the backbone of the 5G revolution that we are on the verge of.
    5G is expected to be a paradigm shift in how wireless services are delivered. It will support more data, more devices and faster speeds than previous generations. To roll this out effectively, our government will ensure the right spectrum and rules are in place at the right time to support the timely introduction of new and innovative technologies in Canada.
    Our five-year spectrum release plan lays out our plan for making spectrum available in a timely manner. We are working to pave the way for 5G deployment in Canada to ensure that all Canadians have an opportunity to benefit from this new technology and participate fully in the digital economy. It will be important for providing Internet connectivity to Canadians in urban and rural areas. It is designed to provide both mobile and home Internet services.
    For 5G to be delivered effectively, operators need a variety of what are called spectrum bands. In this case, low-band spectrum will help with coverage, mid-band for a combination of coverage and capacity and high-band for significant increase in capacity.
    In early April, we completed the first of the auction in our plan. Through the 600 megahertz auction, regional competitors more than doubled their share of low-band spectrum.
    The auction raised $3.47 billion, which, as has always been the practice, will be remitted to the consolidated revenue fund administered by the Receiver General for Canada. This money will be used to support priorities for Canadians.
    It is important to remember that this revenue is collected over the life of the agreement with providers, which is often decades. In the case of the 600 megahertz auction, it is 20 years.
    We are pleased that regional providers more than doubled their share of 600 megahertz spectrum following our auction in March. This will strengthen competition, which will drive prices down and improve coverage.
    We are also planning to release more spectrum. In fact, we are planning three more spectrum auctions over the next three years making more spectrum available for mobile services than we have ever before.
    Of course, we also understand the need to modernize our rules. That is why we launched a developmental licence playbook to help innovators get temporary access to spectrum which will allow them to test the functions of 5G.
    Our government is taking action to empower current and future innovators and entrepreneurs by making it easier for individuals and businesses to test and research leading-edge spectrum devices.
    In addition, the new developmental spectrum licence process supports the R and D of new technologies and services that will benefit all Canadians. This includes medical service companies that want to enable doctors to monitor their patients remotely. It will help tech firms working to equip municipalities with automated systems. It will allow research firms seeking to bring connected cars to market to better test their technologies, to improve safety and save lives on Canadian roads.

  (1250)  

    Officials at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada have noted explosive growth relating to requests to test in Canada and have received positive stakeholder feedback for our efforts to accommodate new systems. In the past two years, ISED has issued over 300 developmental licences that facilitate innovation and experimentation in the wireless industry.
    Looking to the future, we are currently preparing decisions on two consultations aimed at improving access to spectrum. This includes backhaul licence fees that take into account future innovative and data intensive uses. The current fee structure, which is based on how much data one sends, can make it prohibitively expensive to move large amounts of data via wireless backhaul. A new fee structure would significantly reduce the cost of offering 5G services in remote locations or where fibre is not yet available.
    My colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, is consulting on a new set of smaller spectrum service areas known as tier 5. The intent of these consultations is to meet current and future wireless needs, encourage additional access to spectrum within rural areas and support new technologies and emerging use cases. This consultation responds to a specific concern we heard from small service providers that they face challenges in acquiring spectrum.
    By creating smaller tiers, we will recognize the inherent differences in rural areas, make it easier for smaller service providers to acquire spectrum they need to operate and grow their businesses and ultimately lead to improved connectivity for rural Canadians. We are examining new, dynamic and innovative licensing approaches to respond to new service opportunities, including rural and remote connectivity.
    We know that the demand for spectrum will continue to grow and we need to adapt in order to meet that demand. This means not just accelerating the pace at which we auction spectrum, but releasing it in innovative new ways. We are developing new innovative and advanced tools to get the most out of Canada's wireless airways. These tools will help us understand the spectrum environment so we can make more and better use of spectrum available in the future, particularly in rural and remote areas.
    Our government has achieved a lot already on this important file. Prices are going down and speed and coverage are going up. However, we are committed to encouraging affordable telecom services to help bridge the digital divide, foster inclusivity and support an innovative economy. Our government recognizes that in some cases rural and remote communities can only be served by having access to spectrum, and we are working to ensure that spectrum resources are available for the various services that offer rural broadband connectivity.
     Officials are already meeting with small wireless Internet service providers to better understand any challenges they have experienced in accessing spectrum. To date, they have heard back from over 100 small Internet service providers that have shared their experiences and ideas.
    Delivering universal high-speed Internet to every Canadian in the quickest and most cost-effective way will require a coordinated effort with our partners in the private sector and across all levels of government.
    To meet this commitment, budget 2019 proposed a coordinated plan. This includes a $1.7-billion top-up to the connect to innovate program, a new universal broadband fund and commitment to securing advanced low Earth orbit satellite capacity to serve the most rural and remote regions of Canada. Through this comprehensive and important work, we will deliver on our commitment to ensure every household and business in Canada has access to high-speed Internet by 2030.

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his work at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Over the last year, the member chaired a review of the Copyright Act, which was very difficult. I congratulate him on his efforts in doing that. It was a long process that required a lot of hard work from all parties, and I commend him as the chair.
    I take some concern with regard to this particular issue, especially given the fact that his Liberal government already has billions of dollars from the spectrum auction in its coffers. He suggests that a new fund is going to be rolled out in a new budget, which will require a future government to make that resource available. Why did the government not use the previous billions of dollars it had for this, and why is it relying on more Canadian taxpayer dollars for the future? Is he satisfied with the previous government taking $20 billion and now only 30% is required to make this investment into rural and remote areas? Why did the government not act sooner with this money? Where did it go?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. colleague for his question and comments. I have certainly enjoyed spending the last four years on the committee with my colleague. Throughout our term, we did a study on broadband connectivity in Canada. One of the things we heard, time and again, was that Canada is not a one-size-fits-all; different areas require different approaches.
     When we look at what we have been doing over our last term, we see there was a $900 million investment in the connect to innovate program to bring in high-speed Internet and $1.7 billion put into a universal broadband fund to target every connecting household in the country by 2030. That is the plan. In order for us to move forward, we must have an end game. When we want to ensure that everybody in Canada has access to those types of speeds in order to hit our target of 2030, these are some of the things we have to do. One of the things that came from our last recommendation in that study was to invest in low-earth orbit satellites, LEOs. The government has invested $100 million in LEOs, which help rural communities, especially up north. This is new technology. As we look around, there will be a lot more new technology as it continues to develop.
    Mr. Speaker, my riding of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes is served by the Eastern Ontario Wardens' Caucus, which has developed a working group, the Eastern Ontario Regional Network. It has a shovel-ready project that requires a $71 million investment from the federal government. The provincial government in Ontario has committed $71 million and the municipalities have committed the same. All of the Liberal members in eastern Ontario, including a minister of the government, have signed on and endorsed the Eastern Ontario Regional Network project. If my colleague is unfamiliar with it, this project would close the cell gap, which is vital in our region, but it would also allow for reliable broadband Internet in homes and businesses. This region is home to 1.1 million people. The current government has made all the noises and waved its hands about being committed to connecting Canadians, but there are 1.1 million Canadians in eastern Ontario, including in my riding of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, who are counting on the current government to commit $71 million. Will it commit that money?

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, from what we are hearing, the Doug Ford government in Ontario does not want to co-operate with the federal government.
    Having said that, I would like to point out that more than 190 indigenous communities have already received support with new and improved high-speed Internet to 900 rural and indigenous communities. That is what this program is all about. There are many different programs in this country, and I look forward to working toward getting to where we need to go.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the opportunity to stand and represent the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.
    When I found out we were going to be debating telecommunications policy here today, I was very excited. Accessing services and the cost of those services are barriers that Canadians from coast to coast to coast experience every single day. When I speak to Canadians, cost of living is their number one concern. With the Liberal government's huge tax increases weighing them down, the added cost of a $100-a-month cellphone bill can be devastating. Canadians are struggling with affordability more now than ever and the Liberal government has just made it worse.
    Yes, I was excited to talk about and debate real solutions and ideas about how we can support Canadians and make their lives more affordable. Then I read the NDP motion. This motion is typical New Democratic policy. It identifies a very real problem and then proposes terrible ideas to deal with it. This motion is full of ideas that are impractical at best and ruinous at worst.
    Let us examine the motion and see how many of these proposals would only serve to hurt Canadians. My NDP colleague proposes a price cap for mobile phone bills. That would be a disastrous idea. Canadian mobile phone companies have to spend billions on new infrastructure every year to keep up with new technology and new data demands. They must spend hundreds of millions of dollars on spectrum so they can offer services at all, not to mention the immense cost of bringing Canada into the 5G future we all desire. One report estimated well over $20 billion. If the government were to implement a price cap on mobile services, it would make these investments impossible.
    We all want lower prices. In committee last week, I questioned a representative from the telecommunication industry about how we can lower prices and ensure we see the investments we need. The only solution is more free market, not less. I know that New Democrats prefer big government, bureaucratic ideas that only work in university classrooms and, I suppose, probably in their caucus room, but they do not work in the real world. We need to see more competition in the marketplace, more new entrants and smaller regional companies; and the existing big mobile companies are going to have to accept that fact. I want to make myself extremely clear. I am not defending the status quo. Clearly, data prices are too high in Canada. However, a top-down big-government price cap would only make things worse in the long run.
    Regarding the second point on data caps, I agree with the sentiment. Like many Canadians, I also see the mobile phone plans available around the world that offer unlimited data plans. Unlimited data plans should be an attainable option for Canadians. However, mandating that is not the right policy. Again, only free market solutions will ensure we have the services we all demand. Canada has among the fastest mobile networks in the world, a testament to the amount of investment we have seen in our country. However, data usage is a challenge. Modern services like video streaming put a huge drain on network resources, and if everyone is using these services, it can bog down the connection speed. This is why I find it annoying when mobile phone companies advertise steaming sports in high definition on their networks. That activity is not really practical across the board under current circumstances.
    In a future world, with 5G and Internet of things and all of the innovations those will bring, it is unavoidable that data caps will have to go. However, we are not there yet and we have to make sure the accessibility of the network is open to all Canadians. Therefore, the logical question is, do I like data caps? Of course not; no one likes data caps, but forcing a big-government solution on the issue is not the right way to proceed.
    Regarding the point on outrageous sales practices, let me start by saying that no one supports companies preying on people and using abusive practices. I question if an entire bill of rights is necessary when consumer protection rules already exist, but in principle, this is a point I believe there is widespread agreement on, and I would like to hear more from New Democrats as to exactly what that would entail.

  (1305)  

    Clearly, when the government put out its air passenger bill of rights, it was all marketing and, even now, on the implementation, when I talk to most Canadians about air travel, they want to know who is going to enforce it. They do not see the actual promise attached to the marketing. I would say, in this case, unless the NDP starts putting forward concrete proposals on how current legislation could be improved so that we deal with this, it is just marketing for a party that is quite low in the polls.
    Sales practices that lie or misrepresent what a customer is agreeing to need to stop, and they need to stop now. The point in the motion that talks about spectrum is a great opportunity to speak about how the government is hurting rural Canadians with its 3,500 megahertz clawback. I asked the minister about this last week, and he did not deny that rural customers will lose service, and he even called it a “clawback” in this place. At least he gets points for being honest.
    The 3,500 megahertz band is essential for ensuring Canadians can join the 5G future. We are not denying that at all. However, government policy that cuts off service to rural Canadians with no recourse is absolutely unacceptable.
    The chair of the industry committee just spoke, and he talked about all the new technology that will help people in rural areas to access medical services. This policy eats away at that promise, because if those areas that have the least access are being clawed back spectrum that is necessary to run the service, these innovations, these abilities to offer medical services in rural areas, just will not happen.
    Exactly how many people will be affected at this point remains unclear, but I asked a mobile fixed wireless company about the impacts during an industry committee meeting last week. The response it gave was that it would be significant.
    The 3,500 megahertz band has been previously allocated to fix wireless for rural communities. Now that band is in major demand for 5G. The fact is that it is not the government's fault. International forces determine which bands should be used. However, what is the government's fault in this case is not addressing the fact that crucial rural infrastructure is now in conflict with extremely important new technologies.
    Even if no one lost service from the clawback, and I think many will, repurposing the band to mobile without first finding an alternative for fixed rural wireless will stop rural providers from being able to acquire more spectrum to grow their business or to provide faster speeds.
    We also need to be mindful that fixed wireless technology and the spectrum required to run it has allowed regional players to provide service to rural areas, which raises competition, which facilitates better prices.
    This whole decision needs a rethink to ensure rural customers would not be left in the cold. However, over and over again, the Liberal government has proven it is not especially concerned with rural Canadians.
    Looping back to the NDP suggestion within the motion, it is fundamentally flawed. Frankly, I am surprised that the NDP, a party that never saw a tax it did not like—well, except for when the B.C. NDP opposed the carbon tax—would oppose money flowing into general revenue. The NDP says that over $20 billion brought into government over the last number of years has been squandered. Do not get me wrong. The Liberal government has squandered much more than $20 billion. However, under a Conservative government, that revenue was used for health care, old age security, social transfers. I suppose the NDP does not think those things are important.
    In principle, can spectrum auctions be done better? Absolutely; we can never stop working to make sure that government programs function better. Unfortunately with this motion, the NDP would clearly rather attack the previous Conservative government for funding health care and social services than find a workable solution.
    Regarding rural broadband in general, this is a topic that every single Canadian needs to pay attention to, to work to find solutions. While the major mobile companies like to say that the vast majority of Canadians have good services, many do not and they are Canadians too.
    I was very disappointed during a committee meeting last week when the member for Pontiac lamented the fact that the first phase of the CRTC rural broadband funding was only open to the territories. The needs of our northern brothers and sisters are immense, and if service even exists in the remote north, the cost would make most Canadians' heads spin.

  (1310)  

    Making sure that remote northern communities get a first crack at broadband funding is a positive move, but clearly at least one government member disagrees. To give him the benefit of the doubt, he is probably just frustrated because the government's connect to innovate program is such a disaster. This program was supposed to bring broadband to rural communities. Unfortunately, it has largely been a communications exercise in trying to get Liberal members good press.
    Based on an Order Paper question from my colleague from Edmonton Riverbend, we learned that less than 10% of the funding promised and announced has actually gone out the door. This is a government of stalled and delayed infrastructure funding, so it should not come as a surprise, but the government at least seems to pretend to care about rural broadband.
    It is not just me saying that the Liberal government has problems. The Auditor General declared last year that the connect to innovate program was poorly designed and did not get good value for money. Maybe that finding is why the government refuses to fund the Auditor General now.
    There has been announcement after announcement with press releases, but no funding. I have a list of projects with start dates in 2017 and 2018 on which literally zero dollars have been spent. For Câble-Axion and Projet Redondance Estrie in Brome–Missisquoi, Quebec, the amount of money pledged was $119,000, but the money given to date is zero. For CoopTel, Quebec, again, with just over half a million dollars, to this date zero dollars have been paid. We also have Duclos & Michaud Télécom, projet Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec: Again, from over $1 million, the amount actually provided to date is zero. I could go on and on with these things right across this great country. It is absolutely shocking to see that a program designed and launched with so much fanfare still has not found its feet.
    Canadians expect that their MPs show up with a cheque that maybe two years later might be cashed. It seems to me that the Liberal plan is to break ground on these projects this summer as a pre-election, taxpayer-funded media blitz. I asked the minister responsible if any projects announced already would be re-announced this summer, and she refused to say no. Now, as we know with the Liberal government and the SNC-Lavalin scandal, a denial often means yes. Therefore, a refusal to answer probably definitely means yes.
    Now we need to have a real plan to deliver broadband services to all Canadians, no matter where they live, a plan that works with every single level of government to identify where and when we can get cable in the ground and people connected. We also have to work with the existing telecommunications companies, not to do what this motion does and simply attack them.
    Earlier, an NDP member said she was concerned that small companies are being played down by the larger companies and that more competition is needed. The price cap, again, affects all companies, including small or regional players, and they have the least access to capital and the smallest footprint in terms of already existing infrastructure. Therefore, the New Democrats really need to figure out what they want to do and the mechanism they want to do it by.
    Do not get me wrong, the big three are not innocent. Canadian mobile companies receive among the highest revenue per customer in the world, while claiming poverty. Over the last number of days, I have seen several things from various telecommunications companies that make it seem to Canadians like they do not take affordability seriously. The other day in a panel at an industry conference, one representative said that there is no price challenge because most Canadians have phones. This is a totally absurd statement and extremely unhelpful when we need everyone to work together. Just because most Canadians have a place to live, that does not mean there is no housing affordability crisis in much of the country.
    Another statement that struck me as incredible was that Canadians cannot expect price drops because their demands on data are increasing. Now, taking it to the extreme, are we then to expect a $1,000 basic data bill when 5G rolls around? Prices have to come down, not data prices relative to what data cost 10 years ago, but real prices in real terms. The sector must take that seriously. Canadians are not an endless piggy bank. Despite all that, and despite how good it can feel to criticize the telecommunications sector, that would be absolutely zero towards connecting Canadians and lowering their bills. It is perhaps good politics, but bad policy.

  (1315)  

    This is a major challenge for everyone, and everyone must work together to get this done.
    The motion contains ideas that would do nothing to address the structural problems in Canada, help rural and remote residents get connected, or ensure adequate competition.
    In the NDP world, where the motion would be law, companies would never be able to build the capital needed to invest in facilities to connect more Canadians. There would never be 5G, or there would be 5G but it would happen in other places. We would see a continued flight of talent and capital to other regions. Young, aspiring creators and programmers, the people who want to create new systems and innovations, would just go to the places that allow them. Again, the NDP is putting a cap on all these plans.
    The answer is not big government and less freedom. More economic freedom is what brings prosperity. More freedom in this space to adopt new technologies and push the envelope would allow Canadian innovators to stay in Canada, participate in our economy and help Canadians lead the field when it comes to the adoption of new technologies, particularly regarding the Internet of things.
    We need more competition in that sector, not regulations that ensure no company will ever want to compete. We also need new investment, innovation and price caps.
    We need only look to the 1970s line “Zap, you're frozen.” It is very easy for government to dictate a price. However, it is very difficult for those operating in the market to then be able to invest properly and make capital plans. It would run from small operators all the way up to the large ones.
    I have never faulted NDP members for having their heart in the right place. They clearly have identified a problem. However, their solutions, I have to say, border on the absurd.
    We have a New Democratic Party that thinks with its heart and a Prime Minister who wants to grow the economy from the heart out. Conservatives will use their heads to find good policy that ensures all Canadians can live a prosperous and successful life.
    Canadians are drowning under the weight of the Liberal government's affordability crisis. A future Conservative government would ensure that people have more money in their pockets and more market choice, because that is what brings prices and costs down for everyone.
    Again, it is an honour to rise on behalf of the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola. I hope I have added some thought to the debate. I certainly appreciate that all of us come here with our strong ideas on how things should be. I know I have mine, and I am prepared to defend them. However, as we move forward, let us really focus on trying to find practical solutions.
    Canadians do not care what is in our minds. They just want to be able to pay their bills and see their kids go to school, get good access to the latest health care, utilize technologies and be able to stay in Canada. Those are the things we should be focused on in our telecom policy, and a future Conservative government would ensure that Canadians can get ahead and will not simply tread water.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member has made the industry committee entertaining and interesting in all aspects. I do enjoy serving with him. It has been a good committee to serve on, and the member has made it a good environment for that.
    I want to be very clear about where our current predicament started. It was partly with the member for Beauce as the minister of industry. I do not know if the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola supported the member for Beauce, who has now created his own People's Party. It was the policy direction of basically taking the spectrum auction in and not using it appropriately. The question is, with regard to policy, why we did not actually put more competitive things in place.
    There were other expenditures that the previous government did. An example is the implementation of the HST, which the previous government did and the NDP opposed by itself. People now pay HST on their phones and their services, and if they are happy about it, they have the previous government to thank for it. By the way, the $6 billion used to grease the wheels of the provinces is still being paid with interest, because we are still in record deficits, thanks to the record deficit the previous government put us in.
    Germane to this discussion is the issue surrounding the cap. The cap is to put in price stability, which is necessary right now. The member described this idea as absurd. However, the reality is that many countries have used this, including our own country when it comes to utilities and telephone prices. Why is that an absurd idea, when other countries use this type of measure to protect consumers?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's work and I enjoy sitting with him on the committee so we can have these discussions.
    There is a certain danger in thinking that because one country has a particular set of circumstances we need to apply that to our own situation. Let us just focus on the Canadian context for a moment. The Auditor General has said that it could take up to $160 billion to bring the whole country up to the standard that has been dictated through different committee reports and CRTC's own goals. That is an incredible amount of money.
    Regarding 5G, I mentioned earlier that industry estimates that it is going to be a $24-billion investment so that Canada can be, while not the first, among the first to adopt that. The ability to have higher download speeds would increase Canadian productivity, which is important to our economy. Both of those things require massive investments. The New Democrats have not been able to answer the question of where that money would come from. They can point to the spectrum, but they have talked about $20 billion in about 14 years. That is not going to pay. If they were to divert money from the spectrum, that would not even help toward investing in 5G, let alone what the Auditor General has pointed out.
    I question the policy because it is impractical for moving forward to ensure universal accessibility and the next wave of innovation with 5G.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Windsor West for bringing forward this motion for us to discuss today. I feel like I am in the industry committee. We all serve together on that committee, and we have the same kind of humour going back and forth around policy, understating some positions and overstating others.
    I am interested in how we can measure success in this area. The government is proposing $11.5 million over five years, starting this year, for two Statistics Canada surveys, so that we are not relying on industry data but rather Statistics Canada data. In a previous study we did in the industry committee around rural broadband, we were having a lot of trouble getting to the root of where we have gaps in coverage.
    I know the party of the hon. member across the way really was against Statistics Canada, if the truth be known, cutting out the long-form census and gutting Statistics Canada. Would the member approve the spending of Statistics Canada's budget in this area?
     We were talking about mesh technology. It is not just about money; it is also about introducing technology that will change the game. We heard at our last committee meeting about mesh technology and low-earth orbit satellites. We have committed $1.7 billion for technology development. Would those be two good investments that the member would approve of?

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, I think any Canadian government is going to look at innovative ways.
     Specifically, on Statistics Canada, the member knows I have some concerns about how Statistics Canada operates. The government had a mandate to bring back the mandatory aspect of the long-form census. It was clear it had a democratic mandate to do that. However, I do not believe Statistics Canada should be getting access to people's personal financial information without their consent, which is something at which the Privacy Commissioner is currently looking.
    Getting to the brass tacks of it, affordability means that Canadians feel they can access services and do not have to choose between paying their rent or paying their Internet bill. We want to see, through market mechanisms, a stronger emphasis on affordability. Unfortunately, even with the 35 megahertz clawback and repurpose, and the minister has clearly called it a clawback, members must know it will reduce the amount of service or even cut off service to certain areas.
    We need to be focused on the real issues. There are all sorts of things government can support that are new and novel. However, when someone cannot access e-health or cannot process an Interac transaction because the broadband is insufficient, that is what we need to be focused on in this place.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola on his background knowledge on this.
    I want to provide a little background. I had a small business in my community of Salmon Arm in the North Okanagan—Shuswap, which is semi-rural community. I worked with a rural internet provider who would actually tap into my fibre optic plan, because we had good access. He would beam it out through a radio signal on the roof, bounce it off another antenna and hit a remote community. He was trying to address the needs of about 20 rural homes that were simply out of range. However, because of data hogs, he had to put caps on the amount of usage. The motion asks for abolishing data caps on broadband internet, but that was one example where it had to be put in place, because of one data hog who simply put all of the others off-line.
    I would like the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola to respond to that.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member and his work in his riding and also in this chamber. He gives me far too much credit, I think most of us would agree.
    However, again, under the current technology we have now, it only takes a few data hogs, as the member called them. They are using different streaming services and can block out other things. Therefore, it does not make any sense under the current technology.
    I know Great Britain has seen an increase, with just the basic introduction of some new technology, that is ten times the previous speed. In that kind of environment, we may be able to see some progress on dealing with data caps. Until that point, a data cap is a market mechanism for those people who consume a certain amount to ensure they do not over consume and crowd out the bandwidth.
    We all have had cases where we have important things we need to do. That just points again to the NDP. It has really good intentions, but terrible execution on policy items.

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to this important issue today. I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Windsor West.
    I want to take this opportunity to thank the member for Windsor West, who continues to fight for affordability in the key issue of connectivity. That is really important work. As the dean of our caucus, his leadership and his continued patience with those of us who are new and still learning has been absolutely tremendous. I want to acknowledge him for that.
    I represent North Island—Powell River, which is a very rural and remote community. I have a lot of small islands in my riding, a lot of communities that are very hard to access with respect to cell connectivity. A lot of communities are challenged with Internet connection. In fact, several constituents in my riding still use dial-up. That is just the reality facing so many rural communities across the country.
    In the last few weeks, I have stood in the House with numerous petitions that desperately ask for more connectivity for cell.
    In November of last year, a young man named Duncan Moffat drove off a road between Campbell River and Sayward. He was trapped in his vehicle for seven full days. His cellphone was right beside him, but he could not make a call because there was no reception in that area. For seven days, he lived off the oranges and Gatorade, which he had in the front seat. Luckily he was found by a passing hunter, and he is still with us today.
    What was most poignant for me as a mother was hearing the story of when he was found. His mother could not be contacted immediately because she was out in the rural areas, putting up signs alerting people to the fact that her son had gone missing. It was not until she drove into an area with cellphone reception that she was notified her son had been found. This is the reality of many rural and remote communities.
    Affordability is a big issue in my riding. There are a lot of hard-working people in my riding and I am really grateful for their input. They connect with me all the time and talk about the challenges they face.
    I heard a member earlier speaking about gas prices. Rural and remote communities, like the ones I represent, have some of the highest gas prices in British Columbia right now. Recently, I wrote to the minister to ask for a petroleum monitoring agency to be set up. We need to have more accountability to everyday Canadians about why the costs are so high, especially when at people in those communities have no other way to get to doctor appointments, to go to the hospital, to get to specialists, which in my riding are ferry rides away, hundreds of kilometres away in some cases.
    Affordability is exactly what we are talking about. We are talking about the high cost to Canadians of cellular and Internet services. I think it is $20 a month more in this country, sometimes even higher, than other countries. Comparable countries have done similar work to what the NDP proposes today to really take this issue seriously.
    I have seniors in my riding who are struggling from month to month to just meet their basic necessities We need to look at all the costs and ensure they are as low as they possibly can be.
    The big telecom businesses in Canada are making almost 40% profit every year. They are not taking a portion of that and investing it into rural and remote communities. They are leaving that to small telecom businesses, which are working their butts off every day. I have talked to some of those businesses in my region. They have some great solutions, but they do not see anything happening to make it the next step.

  (1335)  

    Sixty-three per cent of rural Canadians do not have high-speed broadband. I think of a community in my riding, Gold River, that is doing a lot of active work. It had a mill closure many years ago. A year and a half ago it lost its grocery store. It does not have a bank. People live over an hour away from a larger community. People are really working hard in that community every day to build an economy. What they do not have is cell reception. It has people come out in droves because it is a beautiful place to go. Tourism and community services are very strong, it needs that to attract more people.
    Highway 28 and Highway 19 in my riding are two of the most dangerous highways, with thousands of people driving them every day with no cell reception.
     Cost matters, but so do these rural communities, which are working every day to make a difference in the lives of their communities. They want to build an economy, but they have been left behind by successive federal governments when the resource-based economy changed. They need to see some of these thing happen.
    We need to ensure that rural and remote communities are a priority. We know Canada pays some of the highest costs in the world for cellphone usage. One of the measurements is for two gigabytes, $20 on average. When we see those high costs, I think of some of the people in my riding who have to make a decision whether to their pay rent or buy their medications. We recently heard that many people across the country were $200 away from financially falling apart.
    It is motions like this that take concrete action, that take the next step. Companies are making 40% profit. We want to ensure that everyday Canadians stop being gouged by big corporations. When is the government going to take the side of hard-working, everyday Canadians? People are working their butts off and the least we can do is work our butts off on their behalf.
    The government has multiple spectrum auctions. From 2001-19, the government has made over $17 billion in revenue from telecommunications companies. Where is that investment in small communities? How are we going to make those prices go down? Rural and remote communities are often forgotten.
    When I was first elected, I started getting numerous phone calls from seniors who had been cut off their guaranteed income supplements. It resulted in Bill C-449, which I have tabled in the House, to ensure they would not be cut off. Simple solutions sometimes make the best impact. The solution I proposed was to give seniors a one-year grace period. They receive the guaranteed income supplement and they have a one-year grace period to get their taxes done. Seniors have health challenges and family commitments that make it hard to get their taxes done on time. If we do not look after those who built our country, we fail them.
    The bill also asked the CRA to reach out to them and find out why they were not getting their taxes done on time. That is important because some families are challenged because their loved ones have Alzheimer's and do not do what they should do. We need to support them. It would mean that no seniors would be cut off GIS if we gave them a year's grade period. Tens of thousands of seniors would not lose that small stipend that can make the difference between having a place to live or being evicted.
    When I look at something as smart as this motion, it is time we seek practical solutions that make a difference, that we support hard-working Canadians over those giant corporations that are making significant profits. It is time to see them as a priority.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, for those who are following the debate, I emphasize that this is a government that has done a lot more than just talk about the issue. Through several budgets, millions of dollars have been allocated to the connect to innovate fund to ensure that hundreds of communities all over Canada could be connected in one form or another. In fact, one of the programs in the 2018 budget enabled access by some of the poorest families in all regions of Canada for $10 a month. Through a budgetary measure, and by working with the companies, this is something we were able to attain.
    For the NDP, there would be equal access and one level of pricing throughout the country, whether it was in a community with 25 people in the furthest northern parts of Canada or in a high-density city like Toronto. That is what the NDP would ultimately like to achieve, which is very admirable. When we look at what this government has been able to achieve over the last couple of years, such as committing $500 million, gaining access for up to 900 different communities and ensuring that it is affordable with the $10 plan, would the member not at least acknowledge that these are helping Canadians get connected, and at a much more affordable price than what the members opposite are suggesting?
    Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out to the member that my job in this House is to represent the people of North Island—Powell River. I represent them with great honour, because they work very hard under challenging circumstances. My job is not to compliment the government. It is to look at what it can do better. As a member who represents rural and remote communities, I take that responsibility very seriously.
    When those communities are doing well, the resources are flowing and they have good resources and are paying outstanding amounts of taxes, everyone is good to them, but when those challenges come and those resources change, those communities are left behind. I hope this member understands that rural and remote communities across this country have some of the most agile, creative folks he would ever have the honour and privilege of meeting, which I regularly have. They are creating solutions every day.
    However, trying to find ways to attract and retain people and find ways to bring their children home, or for them to stay when they want to, is a challenge every day because of the lack of those resources. If we gave some of those small communities affordable Internet and cell reception, it would change their lives and their opportunities. Shame on any government that will not honour them for the work they have done for this country.
    Mr. Speaker, being from British Columbia, the member understands the challenges in British Columbia, particularly in rural and remote communities that have little to no Internet. The NDP proposed a price cap. A price cap would basically make it more difficult for small regional players, with less access to capital, to reinvest in their networks to expand affordable Internet. The price cap would kneecap these smaller operators. Does the NDP have a solution to the problem it would create by proposing this?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to this member that in 2007, the Conservatives said that they were going to set aside spectrum so that those smaller organizations would be able to do that incredible work. It was an absolute failure, and the reason it did not work at all was that the rules excluded them because they had less capital. Those organizations working in my riding and in many ridings across the country are willing to do the work, and they have innovative solutions. We can make that work, but it needs investment and support, and it definitely needs rules that do not exclude them. That was absolutely false advertising, which the Conservatives are well known for.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I know that the session is getting long, but I want to acknowledge you, and more importantly, your staff. We share the same floor in the Valour Building, and I think it is appropriate to say how nice the people on your team are to everyone on the floor, including to my staff. That is something to note as the session winds down, because I appreciate that.
    I am proud that the member for New Westminster—Burnaby brought this motion forward. People should be concerned and upset about what is taking place with respect to mobile devices, because they are now an essential service. They are essential not only for emergencies but for the way people do business, connect to family, entertain and experience cultures and the world we have at our doorstep and beyond, as we are now connected globally with friends, family and other people.
    What has happened over the last number of years is that we have squandered the opportunity as a country to make this a process we could use for innovation and investment. The reality is that the spectrum we have been selling is similar to our air, water and land. It is the people's asset. It is basically the ability to rent the space to send signals and data. That is something I do not think the Canadian public has come to realize. Previous governments, including the current government, have received over $20 billion in compensation. That should be acknowledged, because that is reflected in the pricing, when we look at Rogers, Telus and Bell, to name a few that have gone to these spectrum auctions. It has been done differently in many other parts of the world. In fact, it has increased the prices Canadians pay.
    Are people happy with the status quo? If the answer is yes, if they are happy with their cellphone prices, the data policies and their experience as customers, then the Liberals and Conservatives are the people to advocate for the status quo. The motion we have put forth, which I will get into in a few moments, offers ideas that would enhance accountability, price stability and innovation for this country.
    We believe that the status quo need a shake up, because Canadians download the least among developed nations, yet we experience the highest costs. If usage starts to climb, our prices are going to skyrocket to double and triple the costs we have now if we keep the status quo, which the government and the Conservatives are advocating with their strategies. They have not worked. There have been success stories with respect to how we have rolled this out. However, the reality is that we cannot keep the status quo. Canada is falling behind, not only regarding individual pricing but in blocking innovation and jobs. Most important, we are not doing anything about it, other than essentially passing it on and hoping that something is going to fix itself, and it will not.
    The motion we have crafted is in line with something I have also advocated for in the House in the past, which is Motion No. 175, regarding a digital bill of rights. The digital bill of rights would have a rules-based system for everything from net neutrality to how people are treated as customers. There would be a set of rules and principles in place so that companies and customers could evaluate what they were getting into.
    It is fair to say that when we go to buy a cellphone or a mobile package now, we feel frustration similar to when we buy a car, insurance or a number of different products for which there are a litany of qualifications and excuses. It can be very complicated and undermine our experience and grow our frustration. That is no way to run an essential service.
    In fact, to some degree, the data cap of $10 per month we are proposing would put us in line with the average for the OECD countries. Price caps have been in place for other types of things we have had in the past, such as electricity and phones, when we rolled out phone programs in the past. Price caps and those types of measures can come and go. We have a regulatory body that could do this right now, the CRTC, to bring stability and fairness to the market.

  (1350)  

    If those caps were put in place, they would be adjusted on a yearly basis, with input from the public, the provinces, industry and consumer groups. There would be a process in place to create a sense of stability. The review process would take place every year, as I mentioned, and we would look at the average pricing in the OECD countries, which is a fair and representative way to do it.
    There are some interesting anomalies out there with regard to comparables. Australia has pricing that is 40% lower than in Canada, and it has better service and range. In India it is 70% lower. What is unique to the Canadian experience right now is that our average for downloading data is low compared to different countries. As we grow to 5G and go to more content that requires more downloading, it is going to raise the price under the status quo. I hope the other parties will come around on this, because it will be a recipe for failure in the future. It will block innovation and restrict investment in this country, because countries look at our infrastructure for wireless and broadband technology as a way of measuring whether they can grow and expand their markets.
    I would also note that an important part of a solution is to have a basic plan. For example, there are individuals who do not want a phone. It is an essential service right now for emergencies and connecting with families. We are moving away from land lines. Even to find a job, someone needs a reliable phone plan. We marginalize people even more when there is no basic plan. Those trying to lift themselves up into the digital economy are prevented from doing so because of the policies in place.
    Data caps should be abolished. CRTC representatives appeared at committee and said that they are not going to have data caps. Rural and remote communities, where 63% of Canadians do not have high-speed Internet, are going to have unlimited data, but the speed will be half of what it would be in urban centres. They will not have more to download; they will have more waiting for buffering. They will be able to download more but will wait longer, which is not efficient. That is important to note. The CRTC, and I was quite shocked that the government did not challenge this, has decided that there will be half the speed for rural and remote areas, with no plan for these communities to eventually catch up.
    Not only is the speed not based on the future, it is based on half of what there is right now. The goal of the CRTC is 2030, but at the same time, there is not even any enforcement of that. We are talking about a basic, minimal experience.
    There is a telecom bill of rights. I mentioned the digital bill of rights. The same principles apply. When people go from one carrier to the next, there should be some consistency.
    When I presented these ideas in the past, they were seen as absurd and could not be done. The first was unlocking cellphones. We were told that in Canada, we could not do it. New Democrats fought to have that reversed, because it was being done in the rest of the world.
    The second thing I championed was cellphones being portable, because people own their numbers. Right now, our signals are dropped from carrier to carrier. That should not happen, because the spectrum belongs to all of us, and in emergencies and in other matters, it is important that the carrier transition. It is the same thing with cellphones.
    In conclusion, these are practical solutions based on propositions, not just opposition. It is something I learned from Jack Layton that is now supported by the member for Burnaby South.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot about cheaper telecommunications services in other countries. I would like to highlight that in Saskatchewan, we have affordable unlimited data plans because SaskTel is a Crown corporation owned by the people of Saskatchewan. If there is one element missing from today's otherwise excellent motion, it is public ownership of telecommunications as a means of ensuring affordable and accessible access to what the member for Windsor West correctly describes as an essential service.
    I appreciate that we cannot move amendments during questions and comments, but I would like to ask the member for Windsor West whether he would be amenable to adding a paragraph (f) to his motion, directing the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development not to approve privatization of SaskTel?
    Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with privatizing SaskTel. I am not sure if that amendment to the motion would do it or not. I would have to research that more. However, I do not want to see SaskTel privatized.
    It is important to point out that with SaskTel, when the deferral accounts took place, this was money taken off phone bills by companies being allowed to take place. Bell owed over $1 billion, approximately. It took a law case at the Supreme Court to actually get that money back for consumers, something I fought for years for. SaskTel, of all the companies that were involved, had the least amount of overcharges. In fact it was a minuscule amount. It was insignificant. However, private operators had upwards of almost $1 billion.
    Mr. Speaker, we are discussing the way to keep prices down and the idea of a cap versus competition. I am looking at the proposal of the Government of Canada working to introduce data only plans to try to drive down the cost of plans, as well as setting aside 43% of the 600 megahertz spectrum auction so that we could have regional carriers looking at things such as data only plans.
    Could the hon. member comment on competition and how it exists, and where we might head going forward?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's contributions at committee.
    With competition, the problem we are faced with is that some still believe in the white knight scenario, where somebody will just come into our market right away and be able to compete, driving prices down right away. I do not believe that is possible any time soon.
    With the driving costs that are taking place, the cost of affordability, I believe in the price cap right now to bring market stability and to bring competition for some of the smaller players. It would be reviewable. It may not even be permanent, but it would provide stability and also, most importantly for some of the smaller and medium-sized businesses that provide data, it would also provide a registered approach for them to make sure their investment is protected. They would be able to compete knowing the cost structure for that.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's contribution today, as well as his work on the industry committee with me and others.
    I have asked several NDP members, and since the motion today is in his name, I am hoping he could elucidate some details here.
    A price cap would immediately have an effect in the market, meaning that small regional carriers that do not have legacy systems would suddenly find that their ability to raise private capital would be halted, because there is a max that can be borrowed under a price cap.
    Does the member not see how this would actually be the opposite of what we all want, which is to have a stronger presence of regional challengers to the big ones in these underserved communities?

  (1400)  

    Mr. Speaker, a price cap brings stability. It would bring predictability. If we wait for someone to come and solve the problem, even if it happened tomorrow, it would take years to develop and be competitive.
    People are hurting right now. They need accountability. The price margins for profit are very lucrative. I believe competition will happen with stability.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Catalonia

    Mr. Speaker, Catalonia's exiled president, Carles Puigdemont, has been forced to delay his visit to Quebec yet again. It was supposed to happen in April, then in June, and now it has been postponed to the fall because Canada once again did not allow him into the country in time. Mr. Puigdemont deserves to be treated with all the diplomatic consideration that a democratic nation extends to heads of state.
    The Bloc Québécois is calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that Canada will not interfere with Mr. Puigdemont's right to visit Quebec. In the name of democratic values, the Prime Minister must condemn the authoritarian excesses of the Spanish government, which sabotaged a referendum and is subjecting Catalonian leaders to political trials, prison sentences and exile. Such actions are totally inappropriate on the part of any country that calls itself democratic.

Government Policies

    Mr. Speaker, this session of Parliament is drawing to a close. It is a special time because it also marks the end of the 42nd Parliament. Four years have gone by already.
    Our government has accomplished a lot in four years. One of our first major initiatives that has had a significant impact on the lives of Canadian families is the Canada child benefit. In my riding, 10,470 families are receiving a tax-free sum of $570 a month, on average.
    We did not stop there. We brought in many effective measures to stimulate our economy. These measures have proven successful, because the unemployment rate is at its lowest in 40 years. Since 2015, Canadians have created more than one million jobs. I am proud of what we have accomplished. Our measures are having a real impact on the lives of the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.
    We went above and beyond what we promised.

Water Quality

    Mr. Speaker, my riding is privileged to be home to Lac-Saint-Charles, one of the Quebec City region's largest sources of drinking water. This 3.6-square-kilometre lake provides drinking water for nearly half the residents of Quebec's capital.
    Although Lac-Saint-Charles is always beautiful to behold, preserving its health and the quality of its water is a considerable challenge that requires the co-operation of all stakeholders. We have taken this valuable natural resource for granted for too long. Over 280,000 Quebeckers depend on this life-giving resource and we are all responsible for protecting it. We need to act quickly.
    The Association pour la protection de l’environnement du lac Saint-Charles et des Marais du Nord has called upon many important stakeholders to take practical measures to protect Lac-Saint-Charles. I have heard their concerns. For the past few months, I have been working with this organization in my riding to find solutions to slow the aging of the lake and maintain the water quality. Water is sacred, and Lac-Saint-Charles is a priority for me.

[English]

Islamic Foundation of Toronto

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize the Islamic Foundation of Toronto as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
    Established in 1969, IFT is one of the oldest mosques in Canada. Over the years, what began as a small neighbourhood mosque has become much more to the Muslim community in my riding of Scarborough North and beyond. The centre serves thousands of people through its meals on wheels program, community tax clinic, workshops for seniors and high-ranking elementary school.
    I congratulate Imam Shaykh Yusuf Badat, the board of directors, trustees, volunteers and the worshippers who make IFT the incredible institution it is today.
    Last week, I joined the IFT congregation to mark the end of Ramadan and wished everyone a happy, peaceful and prosperous Eid-al-Fitr.
    Eid Mubarak.

Member for Kootenay—Columbia

    Mr. Speaker, during my lifetime, I have sat in many different chairs. I have been the chair of community organizations, manager for B.C. Environment, mayor of Cranbrook and chair and vice-chair of committees and caucuses in the 42nd Parliament. While I am proud of all of these roles, the most memorable one was the first time I took my seat in my chair as a member of Parliament on December 3, 2015. I felt the incredible sense of history, the stories in the walls and the sense of responsibility that comes with serving constituents and working to make a better Canada. What an incredible honour.
    However, we must never forget why we get to sit in our chairs. It is because of the support of our families and the people in our ridings.
    I would like to thank my wife Audrey, my children Shawn, Kellie and Adrian and my favourite granddaughter, Lalita, who is graduating from grade 12 this month.
    Some members are probably thinking this sounds like a farewell speech. Far from it. With the blessing of my family and the good people of Kootenay—Columbia, I fully intend to return in the 43rd Parliament. Who knows, as a returning veteran, I might even get a chair closer to the front of the House.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

Flooding in Nipissing—Timiskaming

    Mr. Speaker, many communities in my riding have experienced devastating flooding since spring began.
    I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the ongoing efforts of the dedicated volunteers who have given of their time, energy and resources.

[English]

    In my visit to the affected areas across Nipissing—Timiskaming, I have witnessed communities coming together to fill sand bags, clean up damaged properties, supply food and foster optimism. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to help out their neighbours affected by the flooding. As well, I would like to thank the mayors and chiefs from Jocko Point, Mattawa, Coleman, Latchford, Callander, Temiskaming Shores, Temagami and all communities for their ongoing leadership through these difficult times.

Hunsdeep Rangar

    Mr. Speaker, about a decade ago, a bright young man resplendent with energy and optimism came into my life. Hunsdeep Rangar invited me to participate in South Asian Fest, an event of which he was very proud. Later, he would invite me on his famous local Ottawa radio show. His purpose in all of these things was to bring the South Asian community together, introduce other Canadians to that community and to raise money for local charities. In my friendship with him, I came to know his incredible love for his wife Oshima and his daughter Neela.
    Tragically, he passed away suddenly at the young age of 43 to heart failure last week. This is a devastating loss to our community.
    This Sunday, the community will come together at the local gurdwara to pray for him, right after the funeral services.
    On behalf of all my constituents and Parliament, I say goodbye to Huns. We will miss him. We love him. May Waheguru welcome him into his home.

[Translation]

Stellar Gala

    Mr. Speaker, the Thérèse-De Blainville chamber of commerce and industry held its Stellar gala on Friday. This event highlights the successes and community involvement of our region's entrepreneurs.
    I want to congratulate Serge Dion and his team at Jardin Dion, which is celebrating 65 years of operations, for winning the Coup de cœur award and the business of the year award for businesses of 15 employees or more.
    I also want to congratulate Rose de Angelis, from the Académie Ste-Thérèse, who was awarded the Jean-Marc Boisvert award for her outstanding career.
    Valérie Kennedy and Kareen Lamy, owners of the Steakhouse St-Charles & Tartares restaurant, received the prestigious Michèle-Bohec award for most outstanding person of the year.
    I congratulate the finalists and award recipients. They are all winners. Their drive is our trademark. I am extremely proud of our local businesses. After all, Thérèse-De Blainville is the absolute best riding in Canada.

[English]

Host of Jeopardy

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about an individual who was born and raised in my riding and who has, shall I say, been questioned for the past 35 years. This person is none other than Alex Trebek, the host of the award-winning trivia game show, Jeopardy!

[Translation]

    His father was a Ukranian immigrant and his mother a Franco-Ontarian. Alex grew up in Sudbury and attended École Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague.

[English]

    He then went to Sudbury Secondary School.
    After reporting for a decade for CBC, he eventually found his way into game-show hosting and later landed his role on Jeopardy! in 1984. During his many decades of hosting the beloved TV show, he was made an officer of the Order of Canada and given a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.
    A few months ago, Mr. Trebek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I want Alex to know that Sudbury, this House and all Canadians are with him in his battle with this cancer. We are looking forward to watching Alex host the upcoming 36th season of Jeopardy!

  (1410)  

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' carbon tax has made life more expensive for Canadians. It has raised the price of everything, including buying groceries, driving the kids to hockey or dance and even the luxury of home heating. Canadians are being punished for living life in Canada.
    The carbon tax was advertised as a measure that would save the environment and that Canadians would be better off because of rebates offered to cover the cost of the tax. However, we know that the Prime Minister's carbon tax is a tax plan to pay for consecutive deficits and his reckless spending.
    The carbon tax rebates are a third lower than the Prime Minister promised and have no correlation to the amount of hard-earned money that Canadians will pay through the carbon tax. We can bet that as the Liberal carbon tax rises to $300 a tonne, the carbon tax rebate will not rise with it. Like his entire mandate, the Prime Minister's carbon tax rebate is not as advertised.

Award for Teaching Excellence

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate an extraordinary educator in my riding of Don Valley East.
    Kim Lussier teaches grade 3 at Norman Ingram Public School. She was awarded the Prime Minister's regional Certificate of Achievement in teaching last month.
    Ms. Lussier has a unique approach to education that emphasizes hands-on activities and fosters digital learning. Ms. Lussier is herself a digital learning mentor for the school board. She encourages other teachers to use digital tools to prepare students for the future.
    Her classroom is a creative and supportive space that sparks the students' imagination and fosters their confidence.
    I am proud to honour Kim Lussier for her remarkable teaching style. It is teachers like these who inspire their students to achieve success.
    I congratulate Kim.

[Translation]

2019 General Election

    Mr. Speaker, in October 2017, the voters of Lac-Saint-Jean decided to elect a government member who puts family, economic development and equality of opportunity first.
    I am proud and honoured to be part of a government that has helped my region move forward on a number of key projects. I am thinking of infrastructure investments, specifically the $12 million invested to build a railway bridge across the Mistassini River, a project that is vital to the economic development of my region. I am also thinking of how well our economy is doing; it has helped create one million jobs and has brought unemployment to its lowest rate in 40 years. Lastly, I am also thinking of the Canada child benefit, which is helping nearly 20,000 children in Lac-Saint-Jean every month, not to mention our investments to support seniors.
    Our government is having a real and positive impact on our families and our businesses. There is no question that we are the only government that will be able to preserve these gains. On October 21, the choice will be obvious.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, I will remind Canadians what the Minister of Environment said recently, “if you actually say it louder, we've learned in the House of Commons, if you repeat it, if you say it louder, if that is your talking point, people will totally believe it”.
    Well, in addition to this fascinating insight into how naive Liberals think Canadians are, the minister stood in the House repeating the talking point that the carbon tax rebate program would totally give people $248 in New Brunswick, $300 in Ontario, $336 in Manitoba and $598 in Saskatchewan.
    Well, it turns out that the carbon tax rebate, like everything else the Liberals and the Prime Minister do, is not as advertised.
    In a report over the weekend, as of June 3, the CRA says Canadians are receiving much less of a rebate than they were led to believe by the environment minister, yet we all are paying more for the necessities of life in Canada and paying more despite the fact this Liberal scheme will fall 79 million tonnes short by 2030.
    Let us call the Liberal carbon tax plan what it is. It is not an environmental plan; it is a tax plan, and it is not as advertised.

30th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to draw the House's attention to Ottawa's reserve artillery unit, first formed as the Bytown Gunners in 1855.
    This proud and distinguished unit, now called the 30th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, has contributed trained gunners to fight the Fenian raids, the South African War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, numerous peacekeeping missions and the latest war in Afghanistan. For 164 years they have answered the call to duty, with many being wounded or killed.
    When not training to fight, they conduct the ceremonial gun salutes on Parliament Hill and elsewhere in the capital region, rain or shine.
    My family's history is linked to the 30th Field Regiment. My great uncle, my father, brother, two nephews and my son have served in the regiment, as have I. My eldest daughter is a captain in the regiment and, like so many, deployed to Afghanistan in 2009-10.
    I congratulate the commanding officer, the RSM and all ranks for their best efforts in keeping alive the tradition of service before self.
    The next time members see or hear the guns fire a salute on or near Parliament Hill, I urge them to go out and thank the troops who make it all happen, the Bytown Gunners.

  (1415)  

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the threat from climate change is very real.
    The economic, ecological and social consequences are almost too overwhelming to think about.
    Too many people are apathetic or in outright denial of the change coming our way. Too many are worried about their daily needs or where their next paycheque will come from.
    However, I believe politics is an inherently optimistic enterprise and that, with political will, we can mount the Herculean effort necessary to change our course. The old ways of thinking on the economy and the environment are over.
    Now is the time to completely end fossil fuel subsidies, to divest from polluting industries, to decarbonize our economy and to help transition working people to the new clean energy economy of the future.
    It is for this reason that I am excited about the NDP's “Power to Change: A New Deal for Climate Action and Good Jobs”, the first comprehensive plan to address both the needs of the environment and those of Canadian workers in a realistic and meaningful way, a plan consistent with global best practices in addressing climate change.

Government Policies

    Mr. Speaker, we know that the supposed carbon tax rebate is significantly less than the Liberals advertise and it will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will cost Canadians a lot.
    When asked today by a reporter what his family was doing to protect the environment, the Liberal leader floundered and said, "We, uh, uh, we have recently switched to drinking water bottles out of, uh, water out of, uh, when we have water bottles out of, uh, plastic, uh—sorry, away from plastic towards, uh, paper, um, like drink...water bottles sort of things."
    I checked, and one of those drink water bottle sort of things is actually lined with plastic and is 20% less likely to be recycled. When they are recycled, a significant portion of the box is not actually recycled. They still produce plastic waste and cost nine times more than a bottle of water does.
    Come on. When it comes to the environment, the Liberal leader is not as advertised.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons I got involved in politics was to help create opportunities for people back home to find work, so that fewer young people would have to move away just to find a job. I am thrilled to share that, since we formed government, the Canadian economy has added more than one million jobs and we are seeing the benefits locally.
     Every day I see evidence in my community that our plan is working, whether it is the 350 jobs added or made permanent at the local Michelin plant on the heels of a new NAFTA agreement, the 200 positions that Zenabis is hiring for a new industry or the hundreds of folks who are employed working on infrastructure projects at StFX or the Nova Scotia Community College campus in Stellarton, or the many, many small craft harbour projects that are providing a safe place for fishermen to land their catch.
    We will not stop there. I cannot wait to see work getting under way on the new Highway 104 twinning, which will put 500 people to work this summer, or the remediation of Boat Harbour, which will create good jobs to clean our environment and right a historical wrong. These stats do not happen by accident. They happen because hard-working Canadians have been given the chance to succeed through the investments we are making in communities like mine. When it comes to jobs in Nova Scotia, we are better than advertised.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, we all know that the Liberal carbon tax is a not an environment plan. It is a tax plan that takes money from Canadians and accomplishes nothing for the environment. It is no surprise, then, that Canadians have found out that the Liberals have been misleading them about the amount of the so-called rebate. It has been confirmed. Canadians are getting about one-third less than promised. Just like the Prime Minister, the rebate is not as advertised.
    What else is the Prime Minister misleading Canadians about when it comes to his useless, ineffective carbon tax?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to climate change, the Conservatives have no plan whatsoever.
     We have a plan in place, and that plan is working. It is reducing pollution, it is reducing emissions and it is also keeping affordability in mind by giving eight out of 10 families more money, which remains with them to make choices they can use to reduce their consumption. We are proud of the plan that we have put in place.
    Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. In fact, according to their own numbers, families are getting about one-third less than what the Prime Minister promised. The Liberals spent millions of taxpayers' dollars on a misleading campaign about the so-called rebate while at the same time refusing to come clean on how high the carbon tax will actually go.
    Why will the Prime Minister not just admit his carbon tax scheme will do only one thing, and that is take more money from Canadians to fill his coffers?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, based on the independent analysis that was done by the Parliamentary Budget Office, eight out of 10 families are better off under our plan, because they get more money in incentive than they pay in a price on pollution.
    However, it is interesting. It has been more than 400 days, actually 407 days to be exact, that the Conservatives promised to introduce a climate change plan, which they have not done yet, because they have no plan, because they do not care about the environment, and they do not care—
    The hon. opposition House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, it is quite humorous to watch, because the Liberals actually believe that if one repeats a talking point and says it louder, even if it is not true, Canadians will totally believe it. It has now been confirmed, however, that despite repeating it and saying it louder, Liberal claims about the carbon tax plan are simply not true. It is not an environment plan. It is a greedy Liberal tax grab.
    Why do the Liberals not just admit it? Given the chance, they are going to increase the tax on Canadians and keep hosing them all the way to the bank.
    Mr. Speaker, once again, let me share some facts with the hon. member.
    Of the Canadians who were eligible to get the rebate, 97% actually got the rebate, and eight out of 10 of those are better off under our plan than they pay on a price for pollution.
    It is very interesting that the official opposition talks a good talk but has no plan when it comes to making life affordable for Canadians and also taking action on climate change to ensure our communities—
    The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, here is the Liberals' record: four budgets, four years of irresponsible handling of taxpayer money, and four years of deficits. Who will pay the price? Our children, our grandchildren, and Canadian workers who work hard for their money and are paying more today than they were four years ago.
    Will the Liberals ever realize that raising taxes and racking up deficits is not the way to create wealth?
    Mr. Speaker, after 10 years of weak growth, the Canadian economy has bounced back. We now have one of the fastest-growing economies in the G7. The economy has created over a million jobs since 2015, and unemployment is now at its lowest in 40 years.
    Our economic record is excellent. We are undoing the damage that the Conservatives created in their 10 years in office. We are going to keep moving forward.
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that, over the past four years under the Liberal government, the cost of living has steadily increased.
    Canadian families have been paying an average of $800 more a year since the Liberals took office. The Liberals even abolished the public transit tax credit and the children's sports and culture tax credits.
    Will the government stop taking more and more money out of taxpayers' pockets?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's basic assumptions are incorrect.
    A typical middle-class family of four is receiving an average of $2,000 more a year thanks to the Canada child benefit. The debt-to-GDP ratio is clearly on a downward track. We have control over our finances, something the previous government never managed to do in 10 years.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals like to make grand statements about the economy, but the fact is, people are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find affordable housing and pay for cell service. A survey has shown that half of all Canadians are $200 away from a personal financial crisis.
    When will the Liberals realize that people deserve a lot better than that?
    Mr. Speaker, an outstanding proportion of Canadians are benefiting from our measures. Indeed, eight out of 10 families are going to receive more thanks to our climate change initiative. Since July 2016, nine out of 10 families are receiving the Canada child benefit, which makes a huge difference in their lives. They are receiving $500 tax free every month. We are also making investments in housing and child care. In 2019, we need everyone to contribute. Not only is this good for the economy, but it will also help reduce poverty. There has been a more than 20% drop in poverty over the last two years alone.

[English]

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians rely on having good access to cellular services when they go to work, when they go to school, when they are at home and in between. However, the reality is that they are anxious about how much this bill costs them. At the same time, big telecom companies have made $7.5 billion in profits and they receive millions in handouts from the government.
    The New Democrats believe we need to make life more affordable for Canadians. That is why we are putting a cap on cellphone bills.
     Will the Liberals finally stand up to telecom companies and protect Canadians instead of those big friends?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been taking a number of steps to support affordability, competition, consumer interests and innovation in telecommunications. We have seen some encouraging steps in the right direction. Prices are up to 32% lower in regions with more competition and there are now low-cost data plans. We know we still have more work to do.
    That is why, for example, we have issued a policy directive to the CRTC, which states that consumer interests must be considered when making decisions, and why we have directed the CRTC to investigate high pressure sales tactics.
     We are going to continue to take action to ensure Canadians can access good-quality telecommunications.

Government Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, what is clear is whose side the Liberals are on. They sided with KPMG and tax avoidance. They sided with drug companies over people. They let the big telecom companies have their profits rise to $7.5 billion.
    Teachers, small businesses, families, students, everyone needs access to the Internet. The reality is that it costs too much and they do not have the access they need. The NDP would end data caps and would ensure everyone would have access to affordable unlimited data plans.
     Why do the Liberals continue to choose the profits of these companies over people?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I was expecting to talk about tax evasion all day in the House. The NDP changed its mind at the last minute, as its leader is wont to do. I notice that the NDP seems to care about tax evasion only when it is front page news. On this side of the House, we take tax evasion very seriously. Canadians deserve a transparent, fair and impartial tax regime, which is what we are delivering.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, cellular service is essential to every single Canadian, but the reality is that it costs too much. Meanwhile, the big telecom companies are raking in millions of dollars at the expense of Canadians. The NDP has the courage to take action to lower costs for all Canadians.
    Will the Liberals vote with us to protect the interests of Canadians, or will they continue to protect their telecom friends?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, from day one our government has been taking action to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of telecommunications services. Consumers are our top concern. I encourage the member to look closely at the work we have done so far and to acknowledge that this government is taking action for Canadians when it comes to telecommunications.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives left behind a $7.5-billion surplus in fiscal year 2015-16. The Liberals are being irresponsible by burying generations under a massive deficit. They promised to balance the budget in 2019. That promise was broken, along with many others.
    When will the Minister of Finance table his plan to balance the budget?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what is irresponsible is the Conservatives constantly misleading the House and Canadians about their economic record. The numbers do not lie. Frankly, it was 10 years of economic darkness under the Conservatives which saw the lowest growth since the Great Depression. Wages were stagnant.
     Under our plan, we are seeing a million jobs created. Actually, over a million jobs have been created under our plan and the lowest unemployment rate in recorded history. We will never take lessons from the failed Conservatives.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, middle-class taxes have gone up by $800 per family. According to accounting firm MNP, nearly half of all Canadians are within $200 of not being able to pay their bills. Canadians cannot afford higher taxes to cover the Liberals' deficits.
    Everyone knows the government will have to raise taxes. When will the Minister of Finance admit it?
    Mr. Speaker, it is important to be clear for our viewers' sake. I know the Conservatives do not like international organizations but, last summer, the OECD, a totally impartial international organization, reported that the average Canadian family has $2,000 more now than it had under the previous government. That is because of progressive policies such as the Canada child benefit.
    With respect to his previous question about debt, it is important to note that Conservative governments have been responsible for 72% of all the debt Canada has ever incurred. Stephen Harper's government incurred $150 billion worth of debt.
    We will take no lessons from anyone.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the government sent out little leaflets, promising tiny rebate cheques just before the election to offset the cost of the carbon tax that would come largely after the election. However, now we find out that those leaflets were not as advertised. In Ontario, for example, a family will receive a third less than the government promised in its taxpayer-funded advertising. The reality is that Canadians will pay more and get ultimately nothing in return.
    Why will the Liberals not admit that the carbon tax is not as advertised?
    Mr. Speaker, to the contrary, the climate action incentive is precisely as advertised. I have been telling the hon. member for months in this chamber that a typical family of four in the province that he represents will receive an incentive of $307. That remains the case today. The numbers he is citing are based on demographics that represent families smaller than a typical family of four. This is not rocket science; it is simple arithmetic.
     If the hon. member would actually read our platform and our commitment, he would understand I am telling the truth.
    Mr. Speaker, but in reality, nothing the Liberals write for others to read can be believed.
    If people looked at the little leaflet, they would think they would be getting over $300. In fact, they are getting significantly less and not enough to compensate for the higher gas, grocery and heating bills they will have to pay in the province of Ontario and the other provinces in which this high tax applies. Worse, the tax is expected to rise 250% if the government is re-elected. God forbid.
    Why will the Liberals not admit that this carbon tax scheme is not as advertised?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, previously in the chamber, I have invited the hon. member to read the pan-Canadian framework on climate change. I have invited him to look at our website. I have told him where to find the details of our plan.
    We can lead a horse to water, but we cannot make it drink.
    I have one final invitation for the member. The Parliamentary Budget Officer actually produced a report that demonstrated eight out of 10 Canadian families would be better off as a result of our plan. If the member cannot track down a copy for himself, I will provide it to him.
    I look forward to seeing this member in the next campaign, going door to door with a promise to take money from his constituents.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, I invite him to campaign for the next election on making gas prices, home heating prices and grocery prices thousands of dollars more expensive for families in his riding.
    The reality is that the out-of-control promise-breaking deficits of the government will lead to higher taxes down the road. There is no question. Canadians are already paying $800 per family more in income tax than when the government took office. However, the worst is yet to come.
    Why will the Liberals not admit that if they are re-elected, they will take more from Canadians when they no longer need voters' votes, but still need their money?
    Mr. Speaker, the worst already came. It was the 10 years of the Harper Conservative government.
    Thankfully, our plan has been focused on Canadians. A typical Canadian family is actually $2,000 better off. The Conservatives do not want to base their questions on facts. They want to scare Canadians because they know they cannot run on their record.
    On the other hand, the Liberals can because we are focused on Canadians. We have one of the best economies in the G7. We are focused on making life more affordable. The Conservatives focus on power, helping their wealthy friends and on polices like Doug—
    Order, please. I ask colleagues to try to hear things, even those they do not like, without having to blurt things out themselves when it is not their turn.
    The hon. member for Carleton.
    Mr. Speaker, we are proud to run on a record of a million net new jobs right in the middle of the great global recession. We had the biggest drop in poverty, one that was remarked on by UNICEF, the largest increase in middle-class incomes of any government in 40 years, and we left a balanced budget while lowering taxes.
    By contrast, the Liberals have broken their promise to balance the budget this year and their out-of-control spending will lead to higher taxes.
    Why do the Liberals not do the honourable thing and admit that before the election, rather than keeping it hidden from Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we will take no lessons from the Conservatives on how to be honest with Canadians, when we are focused on Canadians.
    We know we need to create an economy that works everyone. That is why we lowered taxes on the middle class, we stopped sending cheques to millionaires, like the Conservatives did, and we made sure that Canada child benefit cheques were tax-free. We are investing in Canadians. Because of those investments, we have created over a million new jobs.
    I cannot say it enough that we will not take lessons from the government that added $150 billion to the debt.

[Translation]

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, in 2019, having cellular service and high-speed Internet is essential, and yet, too many people cannot access these services because they are not available or too expensive. Meanwhile, big telecoms are raking in billions of dollars in profit. They are even collecting millions of dollars in subsidies from the Liberal government. It is time to take a stand against these big companies.
    Will the government commit to implementing measures to make the telecommunications market more competitive?
    Mr. Speaker, not only is our government taking a stand; it is taking action.
    Our government has invested more than $900 million in 190 projects to ensure that communities across Canada can connect to high-speed Internet and have access to cellular service. In my riding, 98% of households will be connected to fibre optic high-speed Internet.
    The problem is that the NDP voted against it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the government is letting the CRTC set the speeds and services on rural and remote communities, creating a second-class citizenship experience that will evolve in our country. In fact, the Liberals have endorsed that policy, even last week at committee when they could have challenged the CRTC.
    Instead, the Liberal policy is to give an antiquated system even more life, making sure that we are going to have two sets, one for urban communities and one for rural communities. The Liberals are institutionalizing this.
    When will the Liberals stop apologizing and put in equal service for all?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, all Canadians need access to high-speed Internet, as well as mobile wireless networks, and our government has taken a number of steps to support affordability, competition, consumer interests and innovation in telecommunications. As a matter of fact, we have issued policy directives to the CRTC to state that consumer interests must be considered when making decisions, and we are directing the CRTC to investigate high-pressure sales tactics.
    We know that rural Canadians and all Canadians deserve access to high-speed, affordable, quality broadband and cellphone coverage, and that is what we are making sure is going to happen.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have failed on Trans Mountain from the very beginning. If the Prime Minister really supported this project, it would have proceeded as first proposed and construction would be done by the end of this year. Instead, the Prime Minister's failures have forced taxpayers to purchase Trans Mountain, and now they are on the hook for all of the additional delays.
    Next week, the Liberals will make another announcement about approvals, but the real question is this: When will this pipeline get built in Burnaby?
    Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member and his party are really serious about this project moving forward in the right way, they would not have voted to kill the process we have put in place. We are moving forward with meaningful consultation with indigenous communities. We know that for a project such as this or any energy project to move forward, we need to get the process right, which means the proper involvement of indigenous communities, as well as taking action on environmental sustainability.
    Mr. Speaker, experts agree the Liberals are not getting it right. Their tanker ban and their no-more-pipelines bill, Bill C-69, are sinking Canada's energy industry, and the Liberals' energy ineptitude is continuing with these delays to the Trans Mountain expansion. The Liberals are going to announce next week, once again, approval for this project, but it means absolutely nothing unless there is an actual plan to get it built.
    The construction season is half over. What is the Prime Minister willing to do to ensure that construction begins in Burnaby this summer?
    Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me correct the hon. member. We have seen one of the largest private sector investments in our oil and gas sector with $40 billion in LNG; we have seen $9 billion of investment in Alberta in our petrochemical sector; we have seen Enbridge Line 3 moving forward in our country; we are working hard on the Keystone XL pipeline with the U.S.; and we are moving forward in the right way on the process related to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
    Mr. Speaker, three and a half years ago, the Liberals approved the Trans Mountain expansion the first time. It was supposed to be operating by the end of 2019, in the next six months, but their failure to exert federal jurisdiction and their mistakes on consultation have held it up. A year ago, they said spending billions of tax dollars would build it immediately, but not a single inch has been built. Now they are eight days away from approving it again.
    What exactly is the plan to get construction started in Burnaby on June 19?
    Mr. Speaker, let me take this opportunity to remind Canadians and everyone listening that under Stephen Harper, 99% of the oil that we sold to the outside world went to one single customer: the United States. That was the case in 2006, and that was the case in 2015 when the Conservatives left office. For 10 years, they failed to build a single pipeline to get our resources to non-U.S. markets. We understand that in order to move forward with energy projects, we need to get the process right, and that is exactly what we are focused on.
    Mr. Speaker, under the Conservatives, four new major pipelines were approved and built, and not a single one has gone ahead under these Liberals. The Trans Mountain expansion was supposed to be built by the end of this year, but after taking the longest, costliest, most uncertain approach, the Liberals delayed their second approval by a month. Further delays will cost taxpayers billions more, and the Liberals must tell Canadians the plan to deal with new court challenges, who will build, own and operate the pipeline, the cost to taxpayers and when the expansion will be in service.
    What is the Prime Minister prepared to do for construction to start in Burnaby on June 19?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, again, I think that if the member opposite, her party and everyone else in the Conservative caucus are really serious about the energy sector and really serious about getting pipelines built in this country, they would not have gutted the environmental assessment plan in 2012, which took away Canadians' ability to participate in the process and took away the protection of the environment: the water, fish and everything else that is important to indigenous communities and Canadians. We are fixing a broken system so good projects can move forward in a meaningful—
    The hon. member for Sherbrooke.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, people's anxiety about the economy and the environment is growing. The causes are obvious: the signing of free-trade agreements that hurt workers, a tax regime that is more lenient than ever before towards big business, and the climate emergency.
    Canadians expect the federal government to show leadership, but, instead, they are getting an old, $15-billion pipeline. There is clearly no plan. The government is always improvising. Fortunately, the NDP has a climate transition plan that would create 300,000 quality jobs in the green economy.
    When will the government follow our example and take appropriate action?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to matters pertaining to the environment, I have a lot of time for New Democrats, who I believe have their hearts in the right place. However, they often approach policy without thinking through the consequences.
    I note in particular that when it came to their plan for big emitters, the Ecofiscal Commission indicated that their plan would both hurt the Canadian economy and have no impact on reducing emissions.
    We are moving forward with a plan that is going to protect our environment and grow our economy at the same time. That may mean getting our energy resources to new markets, but doing it in the right way.

Government Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, climate leaders do not build massive bitumen pipelines.
    Canadians are now crushed by the worst family debt levels of any industrialized country in history. Nearly half of Canadians are $200 away from not being able to make ends meet in a month. Housing is unaffordable, and people cannot afford their medication. Instead of helping families, the Liberals continue to put rich corporations first.
    Why are the Liberals pouring tens of billions of dollars into tax cuts for the richest corporations, when the Canadian families cannot pay their bills?
    Mr. Speaker, that is simply not true. One of the first things we did was lower taxes on the middle class, which the NDP in fact voted against. We then made the Canada child benefit more generous, which again the NDP voted against.
    It is hard for Canadians to take the NDP seriously, when it took on the Conservatives' economic plan to balance the budget at all costs. Meanwhile, we promised Canadians we would grow the economy through investments. As a result, a typical Canadian family is $2,000 better off.
    Perhaps the NDP will come up with a different economic plan next—
    I remind the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby that after he has asked a question, it is time to stop speaking and listen to the answer.
    The hon. member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, plastic pollution is a global challenge that requires immediate action. Plastic waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators, litters our parks and beaches, and pollutes our rivers, lakes and oceans, entangling and killing turtles, fish and marine mammals.
    Right now, less than 10% of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. We have reached a defining moment, and this is a problem we simply cannot afford to ignore.
    Unlike the Conservatives, who have no plan for the environment, our government knows that we need to take action on this issue to protect our oceans, wildlife and planet.
    Could the parliamentary secretary please update the House on the—
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member, as a fellow MP who represents coastal communities, for his advocacy to rid our oceans of plastic pollution.
    We know that plastic pollution is choking our oceans and putting an undue burden on our marine environment. I was so pleased to hear the Prime Minister announce this morning that we would be moving forward with a ban on single-use harmful plastic products and implementing extended producer liability.
    It is the 21st century. It is time we rid our oceans of this pollution once and for all.

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, Elections Canada announced that it is going to use social media influencers in the upcoming election. The Chief Electoral Officer agrees that this type of campaign is very politically sensitive, but it refused to release the names of these 13 influencers.
    The Prime Minister promised to be open and accountable to Canadians, but will not provide even this basic level of transparency.
    Will the Prime Minister finally be transparent and reveal the identity of the 13 people who have been hired to influence the next election?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is only one party in the House that tries to suppress the vote. It is the Conservative Party of Canada.
    When it was in government, it brought in the so-called Fair Elections Act, which actually made it harder for Canadians to vote. It also banned the CEO of Elections Canada from talking to Canadians about how to vote.
    Well, thank goodness that in 2015, Canadians elected the Liberals. We have made it easier for all Canadians to vote and we have given the CEO of Elections Canada the power and authority to talk to Canadians about voting.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government amended the Elections Act to impose its vision of the electoral process. It is forcing Elections Canada to jump on to the new social media trend of recruiting influencers that the government itself chose. Now that these influencers know that they have been chosen and that they will be paid by Elections Canada, we have doubts about whether they will be able to remain impartial.
    The Liberal government has a duty to guarantee more transparency in the electoral process.
    Will it share the names of these mystery influencers?
    Mr. Speaker, only the Conservatives do not want Canadians to vote. When they were in government they restricted Canadians' voting rights and restricted Election Canada's mandate to talk to Canadians and encourage them to vote. We do not need any lessons from the Conservatives.
    We made sure that Canadians have the right to vote and we made Elections Canada responsible for helping them do so.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know the Liberal leader admires China's basic dictatorship. We know the Liberals are forcing Elections Canada to hire social media influencers to influence the election. We know the Liberals chose a partisan union to decide which newspapers will receive election-year subsidies and which will not. We know the Liberals have threatened to shut down Twitter if it does not promise to remove what they consider to be inauthentic content. Do the Liberals really want to follow China, Iran and North Korea regarding Twitter?
    Mr. Speaker, it is just as unbecoming of politicians to troll online as it is in the House. That is a wild extrapolation on comments that were made.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I urge members to rely on the ability of the public to judge and determine their views on what they see and hear in the House. It is not necessary to always interject.
    The hon. minister has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a wild extrapolation the Conservatives are making and they are misleading Canadians. There was a witness at the Grand Committee who talked about suggesting that. I was talking about Twitter being a better actor when it comes to the declaration of electoral integrity. The Conservatives owe it to Canadians to tell the truth and to not mislead them.
    Order. The hon. member for Winnipeg Centre will come to order and restrain himself.
    The hon. member for Thornhill.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have dithered on developing meaningful measures to prevent foreign and domestic interference in Canada's democratic electoral process. They confected deeply deficient legislation to stack the deck in their favour. Now the minister fears that it will not be enough. She is afraid of voices she cannot control, so she is threatening to shut down Twitter during the election. Do the Liberals realize they are walking in the basic footsteps of the Chinese, Iranian and North Korean dictatorships?
    Mr. Speaker, there is one party in this House that continues to mislead Canadians, and that is the Conservative Party of Canada. There is one party in this House that has consistently been found in violation of elections legislation. There is one party in this House, the Conservative Party of Canada, that has had a member of Parliament go to jail for undermining elections legislation. I issued a challenge on Friday to the Conservatives: Will they make 2019 the first time they do not break elections law?

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, in April, Liberals announced Canada would finally join other countries to stop slave labour. The supply chain legislation was to be tabled in the Senate, yet the bill mysteriously disappeared. Now the Liberals are sending out to businesses surveys that ask, “If the Government of Canada considers supply chain legislation, what should be the focus and scope?”
    If? We thought it was in the Senate. What is going on here? Does the government understand it has waited too long to pass legislation in this Parliament?
    Mr. Speaker, making sure that we have a commitment to a supply chain that does not use slave labour is incredibly important to this government. That is why we have been consulting so closely with all of our partners, international partners, labour partners, business partners.
    As the member opposite knows, this is not an easy task, but one that we are fully committed to. We continue to have those conversations and look at ways that we could move forward to ensure that everything that we purchase in this country is free of the use of slave labour.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, the employment insurance system is sexist. Why are only 35% of women workers entitled to these benefits? This government, which claims to be feminist, has done nothing in the past four years to make the system fairer for women. Women workers need a government that is on their side and stands up for them.
    My question is simple. What will it take for the government to finally take action and fix the employment insurance system, which is obviously sexist?
    Mr. Speaker, making sure that the employment insurance system is sound and fair is part of our plan to grow the middle class and help more Canadians join it. That plan is working.
    We have not only created more jobs, reduced poverty and helped middle-class families, but we have also enhanced gender equality by improving maternity, parental, compassionate care and caregiving benefits and making them more generous and flexible. We also introduced the new five-week employment insurance parental sharing benefit in 2019. These measures are helping both men and women fully participate in the labour market.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, things are bleak when a government commits to meeting very specific targets and cannot even see that it is running into a wall.
    How can the Minister of Environment and Climate Change keep a straight face when she tells Canadians that the Liberal government will meet the Paris Agreement targets? It is irresponsible. The government does not take the environment—or sound fiscal management—seriously.
    I will ask a simple question and hope for an honest answer. Will Canada meet the Paris Agreement targets?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the answer is simple. Our government will meet its Paris Agreement targets and we do not have a choice because failure is not an option. I am happy to do more than say we will meet our targets. I will lay out a few of the ways that we are going to accomplish that.
     We put a price on pollution so it is not free to pollute anywhere in Canada. The member's party as its first act as government has committed to repealing this to ensure that it is free to pollute again. By 2030, 90% of the electricity in our government will be generated from non-emitting resources. We have made the largest investment in the history of public transit in Canada. We are investing in energy efficiency, and we are creating good jobs in the green economy of tomorrow.

  (1500)  

Auditor General of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, for the first time in Canadian history, the Auditor General has stated publicly that he does not have the funds necessary to do his job. The Liberals have consistently rewarded their friends and silenced their critics and now they are targeting the Auditor General.
    This Liberal attack on the Auditor General has forced the office to cancel audits that would have been released right before the election. Why do the Liberals think they can get away with silencing the Auditor General?
    Mr. Speaker, it is great to see the Conservatives finally taking an interest in officers of Parliament in this House. Actually, what they are really doing is reminding Canadians of the fact that the Conservatives are the ones who cut the Auditor General's budget by 10%. When our government reinstated the budget for the Auditor General, the Conservatives voted against it.
    We take the Auditor General's reports to us very seriously. We really respect and appreciate the work that the Auditor General does on behalf of parliamentarians and all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, this is ridiculous. The Auditor General has never, until now, come out and said publicly that he cannot do his job for a lack of funds. At no time during the previous government did the Auditor General ever say he could not do his job.
    This is an unprecedented attack on our democracy. When will the Liberals give the Auditor General the funds that he needs to do his job and hold the government to account?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member opposite probably understands that, so far, over 70% of the Auditor General's reports have been based on failed Conservative policies. I know we are coming through that era. I have confidence in the Auditor General and his work, but this is just another officer that the Conservatives do not respect. Canadians remember when they told the Parliamentary Budget Officer that they would not allow him to audit their platform. Why? What did the Conservatives have to hide in their platform, the lack of a climate plan?

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, four years ago, I ran as a member of the Liberal Party to defend our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and among those rights, a woman's right to choose. Last week, 8,000 women from across the world came to Vancouver to promote, defend and extend women's rights for all. Canada is a leader in women's rights.
    Can the Minister for Women and Gender Equality tell this House how Canadians can count on this Liberal government to advance gender equality?
    Mr. Speaker, sadly, the attack on women's rights is very much a domestic issue fostered by Conservative politicians in this House by refusing to support a woman's right to choose, by pledging to cut abortion services and by voting to cut funding for organizations that work to prevent violence that is costing a Canadian woman her life every six hours.
     Canadians deserve a government that is working to advance the financial security of women by adding one million new jobs to the economy, a government that will not reopen a debate that was settled decades ago. Canadians live in the 21st century and Conservative politicians living in the past will do so at their own peril.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, in December 1941, Canadians died in defence of Hong Kong and her liberty. Yesterday, a million people took to the streets of Hong Kong and thousands more here in Canada to voice their concerns about their liberty because of proposed changes to Hong Kong's extradition law. These changes would allow anyone in Hong Kong, including 300,000 Canadians living there, to be extradited to mainland China where two Canadians are being improperly detained and two others are on death row.
    Will the Prime Minister make a clear statement about these proposed changes and has the government taken a démarche with the government in Beijing or the Government of Hong Kong?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Wellington—Halton Hills for his very sincere concern about this issue. We have, indeed, raised very serious concerns with the Government of Hong Kong regarding these proposed changes.
    The Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a joint statement with the U.K. The foreign secretary has said, “We are concerned about the potential effect of these proposals on the large number of Canadian and U.K. citizens in Hong Kong, on business confidence and on Hong Kong's international reputation.
    In May, while I was in Hong Kong, I raised these concerns directly with the legislature. We will continue to raise them at every opportunity possible.

  (1505)  

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Canada Border Services Agency is still the only public safety agency in Canada that does not have an external review process.
    CBC reported that a Canadian woman, Jill Knapp, went through a traumatizing experience because of the CBSA.

[English]

    For years, I have asked the minister to keep his promise and table legislation to correct this. Bill C-98 is too little, too late and another broken promise.
    Why did the minister wait until the eleventh hour before tabling a bill that would allow proper scrutiny of CBSA and allow us to protect Canadians' rights?
    Mr. Speaker, all allegations of this nature are taken very, very seriously. The minister is aware of this file. We are committed to ensuring that border services earn and deserve the trust of Canadians. We have put $24 million into a civilian review and complaints commission to handle these kinds of specific complaints and there is legislation. We hope that all members will work with us to get Bill C-98 passed.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, the Montreal-Boston corridor is currently served by highways except for a 13-kilometre segment in Quebec. Our government made a major announcement this morning. I was there. It announced a project to establish a direct link between Highway 35 in Quebec and Interstate 89 in Vermont. This is a key corridor between Quebec and New England, so it will be great for tourism in the riding of Brome—Missisquoi, and it will promote sustainable economic development in both my riding and the riding of my colleague from Saint-Jean.
    Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities give us some details about this major investment?
    Mr. Speaker, Highway 35 is an important artery for tourism and commercial trade with the United States. Extending it will benefit everyone in the Montérégie region and contribute to the economic development of Quebec and Canada. Our government will contribute $82 million for phase III of the project.
    We have big plans for our regions and are proud to invest in their long-term prosperity.

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Manitoba-Minnesota hydro transmission project is good for Manitoba and is good for the environment by replacing Minnesota's coal-fired power plants. However, the Prime Minister has made it perfectly clear: It is either his way or the highway.
    Former B.C. premier Christy Clark had it right when she said the Prime Minister does not consider himself first among equals, because he believes that he is the only one who has no equal.
    Will the Prime Minister just once humble himself, change course and allow Manitoba to build this clean energy project?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians understand that for good projects to move ahead and grow the economy, we must protect our environment and respect the human rights of indigenous peoples.
    Our government extended the time. There is an outstanding issue that was caused by the withdrawal of Manitoba Hydro's proposed financial and economic benefits to indigenous communities. We have extended the time for them to resolve those issues. We are scheduled to make a decision on this issue by June 14.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, Netflix announced a training program for French Canadian cultural artisans. That is a pittance and does nothing to stop the hemorrhaging that cost TVA 68 jobs just last week. The web giants are not collecting taxes, paying taxes or providing funding for French-language content. We are not asking for anything special. We just want the rules that apply to Quebec companies to also apply to foreign multinationals. As the saying goes, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
    When will the government force them to pay their fair share of taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows full well that we have been working on this file for quite some time. We set up a panel of experts that is currently reviewing this issue and will be submitting recommendations, which will enable us to legislate quickly based on a set of principles, one of which is absolutely essential.
    As I have said many times, we are going to ensure that the system is the same for everyone and that everyone who participates in the system contributes to the system. There will be no free passes.

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, 68 people lost their jobs last week at TVA, and Ottawa continues to support web giants. We are told that it will take some time but that they are working on it.
    Our television and film productions are at the heart of our identity. They identify us as Quebeckers and have helped us develop our star system. Productions like Bye Bye epitomize our traditions, while shows like Lance et compte, Annie et ses hommes  and Les beaux malaises are a reflection of our culture. Our cinema is recognized all over the world, but it cannot be found online.
    When will the government force web giants to pay their share and contribute to our culture?
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is, we have contributed to our culture in record amounts. Examples that come to mind are Telefilm, the Canada Media Fund, the CBC and our export program. I will stop there but I could go on and on. We have made historic investments.
    I would like to highlight the additional $7.5 million in support allocated to Telefilm Canada, specifically to support Quebec productions and films. This was very welcome and very much appreciated by the industry in Quebec. That is meaningful action.

[English]

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, there have been a series of attacks against free speech by the government recently. At the same time that it is trying to influence mainstream media with its $600-million bailout, the Liberal government wants to control what Canadians can say on social media.
    Will the Minister of Democratic Institutions confirm that she is thinking about shutting down Twitter during the election if the company does not comply with her demands, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, the answer is no.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If you seek it, I hope you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: That the House agrees with the recommendation from the 27th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and that the name of the—
    Some hon. members: No.
    Order, please.
    I would prefer that the members allow the House to hear if a member is asking consent to move something, but also what the nature of it is. We heard a bit of that, but I ask members to try to be a little more patient. However, it is very clear that there is no unanimous consent.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act

     The House resumed from June 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, be concurred in.
    It being 3:12 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in Bill C-88 at report stage.

  (1520)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 1345)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Amos
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Aubin
Ayoub
Badawey
Bagnell
Baylis
Beaulieu
Bendayan
Bennett
Benson
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Boissonnault
Bossio
Boudrias
Boutin-Sweet
Bratina
Breton
Brosseau
Caesar-Chavannes
Caron
Casey (Cumberland—Colchester)
Casey (Charlottetown)
Chagger
Chen
Choquette
Cuzner
Dabrusin
Damoff
DeCourcey
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Drouin
Dubé
Dubourg
Duclos
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Dusseault
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Eyking
Eyolfson
Fergus
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser (West Nova)
Fraser (Central Nova)
Fuhr
Garneau
Gerretsen
Gill
Gould
Graham
Hajdu
Hardcastle
Hardie
Harvey
Hébert
Hehr
Hogg
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Johns
Jolibois
Joly
Jordan
Jowhari
Julian
Kang
Khalid
Khera
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lauzon (Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation)
Laverdière
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Leslie
Levitt
Lightbound
Lockhart
Long
Longfield
Ludwig
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Masse (Windsor West)
Massé (Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia)
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Mendès
Mendicino
Mihychuk
Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs)
Monsef
Morrissey
Murray
Nassif
Nault
O'Connell
Oliphant
Oliver
O'Regan
Ouellette
Paradis
Pauzé
Peschisolido
Peterson
Petitpas Taylor
Philpott
Picard
Plamondon
Poissant
Quach
Qualtrough
Ramsey
Ratansi
Rioux
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rota
Rudd
Ruimy
Rusnak
Sahota
Saini
Sajjan
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sikand
Simms
Singh
Sohi
Sorbara
Stetski
Tabbara
Tan
Tassi
Thériault
Trudel
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Weir
Whalen
Wrzesnewskyj
Yip
Young
Zahid

Total: -- 194


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Albas
Albrecht
Alleslev
Arnold
Barlow
Barrett
Benzen
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Block
Boucher
Brassard
Calkins
Carrie
Chong
Clarke
Davidson
Diotte
Dreeshen
Eglinski
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Finley
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Harder
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kusie
Lake
Lauzon (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lukiwski
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound)
Motz
Nater
Nicholson
Paul-Hus
Poilievre
Rayes
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Saroya
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Sopuck
Sorenson
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tilson
Trost
Van Kesteren
Viersen
Wagantall
Warkentin
Webber
Wong
Yurdiga

Total: -- 77


PAIRED

Members

Goldsmith-Jones
Kmiec

Total: -- 2


    I declare the motion carried. When shall the bill be read a third time? Pursuant to an order made on Tuesday, May 28, later this day.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Parliamentary Budget Officer

    Pursuant to section 79.22 of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer entitled “Analysis of Active versus Passive Management of Canadian Public Pension Plans”.

[English]

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

    Pursuant to paragraph 90(1)(a) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House the annual report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in relation to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(a), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Government Response to Petitions

    Pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Crown-Indigenous Relations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a number of documents: the annual report on the implementation of the Labrador Inuit land claim agreement for the period April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2016; the annual report of the Déline self-government agreement for the period April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017; the annual report on the Déline self-government agreement for the period ranging from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018; and finally, the annual report on the implementation of the Sahtu Dene and Métis comprehensive land claim agreement for the period April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.

Committees of the House

Health  

     Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 26th report of the Standing Committee on Health, entitled “Impacts of Methamphetamine Abuse in Canada”.
    I just want to report that the Standing Committee on Health had eight meetings on this issue, received 10 briefs and heard from 34 witnesses here in Ottawa, and we also travelled to Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal and Vancouver over the course of the study, where we saw and heard stories of the terrible impacts of methamphetamines.
    What we have learned from organizations on the ground, such as the Bear Clan Patrol in Winnipeg, and from our witnesses here in Ottawa is that urgent action is needed to be taken on this methamphetamine crisis.
    Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives agree with many of the recommendations in the report on methamphetamines, there are three with which we do not agree. The first has to do with using taxpayer money to buy free methamphetamine to keep drug addicts safely addicted. We believe the answer is recovery and to get drug addicts off drugs, so we do not support that.
    In addition, there is a recommendation to decriminalize all hard drugs, and we also do not agree with this position.
    Finally, the government wants to continue to increase funding for supervised injection sites. We have seen that, with this crisis of addictions across the country, the number of deaths continues to escalate. Clearly, this is not working. We need to move to a more holistic approach of prevention and recovery.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 97th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, dealing with regulations respecting the non-attendance of members by reason of maternity or care for a new-born or newly-adopted child.

[English]

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Precarious Work: Understanding the changing nature of work in Canada”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Competition Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, as always, it is an honour to rise on behalf of the good people of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola who, coincidentally, every time I stand to talk about the credit union movement in this country, are very happy with that.
    As they know, Canadians benefit from a strong, competitive and vibrant financial sector. Currently, we have a challenge where federally regulated credit unions are subject to both federal and provincial regulations. This situation creates regulatory duplicity in having a second layer of often redundant administrative burden to comply with. In fact, as credit unions seek to merge and grow to better serve their members, it actually acts as an extremely costly disincentive to do so. There are also provisions in the Bank Act that create unique challenges for financial institutions that use a co-operative structure versus those of a bank. That is why the credit unions themselves, along with the Canadian Credit Union Association, have asked for many of these changes.
    It is a great honour, on behalf of Canadian credit unions, to present this bill to support these requested changes, and I thank the member for Provencher, who is a small business owner and also served on a credit union in his area. We both know the value that credit unions bring to this great country, and we would ask for all members in this place to support this legislation and bills like it.

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

Business of Supply

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you were to seek it, I think you would find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion.
    I move:
    That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the Member for New Westminster—Burnaby, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose 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

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of our colleague and good friend, the member for Langley—Aldergrove, with three petitions to present on his behalf. Knowing that he is at home and not well, I appreciate the opportunity to do this.
    The first petition is from citizens of Canada who acknowledge that the current impaired driving laws are too lenient. In the interests of public safety, the petitioners want to see tougher laws and the implementation of new mandatory minimum sentencing for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death. They also want the Criminal Code of Canada to be changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving causing death as vehicular manslaughter.

  (1530)  

Physician-Assisted Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents of Canada who draw the attention of the House to the following: that coercion, intimidation or other forms of pressure intended to force physicians and health institutions to become parties in assisted suicide or euthanasia are a violation of fundamental freedoms of conscience; that during testimony at the special joint committee for physician-assisted dying, witnesses stated that the protection of conscience should be included in the government's legislative response to Carter v. Canada; that the Canadian Medical Association confirmed that conscience protection for physicians would not affect access to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia because 30% of physicians, 24,000, would be willing to do it; that section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.
    Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Parliament of Canada to enshrine in the Criminal Code the protection of conscience for physicians and health care institutions from coercion or intimidation to provide or refer for assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition indicates that a CBC documentary revealed that ultrasounds are being used in Canada to tell the sex of an unborn child so that expectant parents can choose to terminate the pregnancy if the unborn child is a girl. An Environics poll found that 92% of Canadians believe sex-selected pregnancy termination should be illegal. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the Canadian Association of Radiologists strongly oppose the non-medical use of fetal ultrasounds.
    There are more than 200 million girls missing worldwide. This gendercide has created a global gender imbalance resulting in violence and human trafficking of girls. The three deadliest words in the world are “It's a girl”. Therefore, the petitioners call upon Canada's Parliament to support legislation that would make sex selection illegal.
    I am sure that all members and all those who work on Parliament Hill continue to send our best wishes to the hon. member for Langley—Aldergrove.
    The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present an electronic petition signed by more than 500 people from across the country, Canadians from every single province and territory. This petition was sponsored by Colleen Dunbar from Richmond, British Columbia.
    The petitioners call upon the government to increase commitment and investment, financial and otherwise, to the development of renewable resources and a clean energy future for future Canadians and for generations to come. The petition also includes concerns about climate change having a further detrimental impact on Canada's food and water system, and the importance to take proactive measures to protect our soil, rivers, lakes and oceans.
    On behalf of those constituents and other Canadians, I hereby table this petition.

Sudan  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present an e-petition signed by 635 Canadians, and many of them are from the Niagara region.
    The petitioners are worried about the escalating situation in Sudan with live ammunition being used against brave protesters. They call upon the Government of Canada to continue its pressure on the Government of Sudan to refrain from using militia groups, live ammunition and excessive force against peaceful protesters and support the rights of the people of Sudan to assembly and expression and the right to protest the government's political and economic policies without fear of intimidation.

Vision Care  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to once again table petitions in support of a national framework for eye health and vision care. This time I am tabling two petitions on it.
    The petitioners reinforce the fact that there is a growing need to take action, given that vision loss is expected to double in the next 20 years. It is a crisis that affects all segments of the Canadian population. At particular risk are Canada's most vulnerable populations, seniors, children and indigenous peoples. The petitioners note that just 1% of the total expenditures on vision loss is invested in post-vision loss rehabilitation therapy.

[Translation]

    The petitioners join thousands of Canadians across the country who are calling on all levels of government to work together to develop and implement a national eye health strategy.

[English]

Equalization  

    Mr. Speaker, my constituents are furious with the government's attempt to pass Bill C-69, the no more pipelines act. They are similarly furious with having to pay equalization payments under the current formula, given all the efforts of the government to stop the development of Canada's natural resources sector, specifically the energy sector. The petitioners believe that enough is enough. The context has changed. They believe that it is not fair for people in my province to pay equalization under the same formula, given the punitive policies the government has put forward.
    I am pleased to present this petition on behalf of my community, which calls on the government to immediately cancel Bill C-69 and launch a study on the economic impact of equalization, including an examination of the formula.

  (1535)  

Climate Change  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from 149 members of my community. They draw attention to fact that atmospheric CO2 is now above 414 parts per million and continues to accelerate, despite international agreements and efforts to slow down CO2 emissions. They also point out that northern altitudes are warming at a much faster pace than the global average, that Arctic warming threatens ice cover, permafrost and frozen methane and that NASA data shows that global warming is now 1.4°C above the 1890 to 1910 baseline.
    Petitioners call on the House of Commons and Parliament to pass a resolution declaring that Canada is facing a climate emergency.

[Translation]

Lac-Mégantic  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition calling for a public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and the rail system as a whole.
    Last week, the minister was talking about a conspiracy theory, but the petition was signed by 1,592 people online, and I have more than 2,000 signatures here. In addition, the Town of Lac-Mégantic adopted a resolution a few years ago, and the National Assembly of Quebec adopted a unanimous motion.
    All of these people want to get to the bottom of what happened because a number of questions remain unanswered. For example, who writes rail companies' regulations? Are there enough inspectors? Is there a law requiring companies to install more hand brakes? Why is the number of rail accidents on the rise?
    Those are just a few of the many questions. A public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and rail safety is essential to ensuring an accident like that never happens again.
    I would remind the hon. member that presenting petitions is not the time to debate the issues they cover.

[English]

    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I have nine petitions to table in the House today.
    The first petition is on Bill S-240, which seeks to address the scourge of forced organ harvesting. The petitioners call on the government and the House to get the bill passed as soon as possible.

Afghan Minority Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition highlights challenges facing religious minorities in Afghanistan, in particular the Hindu and Sikh communities.
    The petitioners call on the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to use the powers granted to him to provide assistance to these persecuted minorities. They also call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to raise these issues repeatedly, regularly and effectively with her Afghan counterparts.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is in support of Bill S-240.

Religious Freedom  

    Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition highlights the issue of religious freedom. It is signed by members of the Christian community, who are calling on the House to protect the religious freedom of Christians and of all people practising their faith in Canada.
    In particular, the petitioners ask the House to amend section 241 of the Criminal Code, which deals with euthanasia, to protect conscience rights and to ensure the protection of conscience in the context of the Civil Marriage Act to ensure that individuals and faith-based institutions have those protections afforded to them.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the fifth petition is also in support of Bill S-240.

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, the sixth petition highlights the issue of health products. The petitioners call on Parliament to instruct the Standing Committee on Health to undertake a comprehensive study of the impact of uninsured self-care products and wellness services and of the barriers that exist for those wishing to access them.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the seventh petition is in support of Bill S-240.

Afghan Minority Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, the eighth petition also highlights the issue of religious minorities in Afghanistan. The Sikh and Hindu communities call for action from the government on that.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the ninth petition is also in support of Bill S-240.

Fresh Water  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present a petition calling on the government to develop a national freshwater strategy and to support my private member's bill, Bill C-439.
     Canada has 20% of the world's freshwater resources. The federal government should have a clear plan to protect this valuable resource, domestically and under international agreements. We have not had an updated national freshwater policy since 1987. Our environment, both nationally and globally, has changed dramatically with climate change.
    Canada's population is highly dependent on our freshwater lakes, rivers, wetlands and watersheds for tourism, commerce, recreation and household needs. National drinking water standards in Canada are not consistent from province to province, which is a problem, and they lag behind international standards. We know that the many freshwater bodies across Canada have been plagued, as have those in my riding, with harmful algal blooms and invasive species.
    This petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to develop a national freshwater strategy.

  (1540)  

[Translation]

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Canada committed to combatting the effects of climate change by signing the Paris Agreement. There is an urgent need for action, and we must launch concrete projects to meet that need.
    The riding of Brome—Missisquoi has an abundance of natural treasures that must be protected. The people of Brome—Missisquoi who signed the petition are calling on the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to pass legislation that creates an inhabited natural park in the riding of Brome—Missisquoi.

[English]

Palliative Care  

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our colleague from Langley—Aldergrove, I hereby present 50 petitions on the following.
    The undersigned residents of Canada draw the attention of the House to the following: that in the 41st Parliament, the House of Commons unanimously passed a motion calling on the government to create a national strategy on palliative care to ensure that every Canadian has access to high-quality palliative care at the end of life; that in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that competent and consenting adults who have a grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring and intolerable suffering should be allowed to access physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia; and that it is impossible for people to give informed consent to assisted suicide/euthanasia if appropriate palliative care is unavailable to them. Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to establish a national strategy on palliative care.

[Translation]

Forced Migration  

    Mr. Speaker, on May 17, I met with representatives of the organization Development and Peace in my riding office.
    This organization's mandate is to defend refugees and victims of forced migration. The organization has sponsored a petition that I was eager to present to the House.
    The signatories are calling on the House of Commons to support grassroots organizations working for peace, democracy and human rights and to invest more in diplomatic and peaceful solutions to armed conflicts.
    I would like to thank all those who signed the petition as well as the board of directors for their important work on this very crucial issue.

[English]

Agriculture  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of my constituents from Dufferin—Caledon highlighting that farmers should have the right to keep the seeds that come from their farming activities and use them as and how they see fit and to not have them subjected to intellectual property restrictions on how and where they can be used.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, one of the petitions I have today has come up before. The petitioners are urging us to support either Bill C-350 or Bill S-240 on the issue of international organ harvesting, essentially making organ tourism unlawful in Canada.

Cannabis  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is one that has not been repeated dozens times by other members. It is in relation to a cannabis production facility in my constituency in Beckwith Township. The petitioners are concerned that the facility does not meet Health Canada requirements. They urge the minister to look carefully, prior to issuing a licence for it.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Government Orders

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Telecommunications  

[Business of Supply]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Niagara Falls.
    I am happy to rise today and respond to the motion introduced by the hon. member across the way for Windsor West regarding telecommunications services in Canada. In fact, it is an item we are discussing at the INDU committee and is something that both of us have opinions on.
    I would like to use my time to speak specifically to the concerns that have been raised by Canadians about aggressive and misleading sales practices.
    Since coming to office, our government has made it clear that we understand that to achieve fast, reliable telecommunications services, we need to focus on three core objectives: quality, coverage and affordability. We understand that to make progress on these three goals, we need a competitive marketplace in which consumers are treated fairly.
    Currently, there are measures in place to empower Canadians in their relationships with their telecommunications service providers. This includes, for examples, the creation of a consumer code of conduct. There is also a dedicated organization to help resolve the complaints Canadians have specifically about their telecommunications service providers. It is called the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-Television Services, the CCTS. The CCTS reported that in 2018-19, it had successfully resolved 92% of the complaints it received.
    Furthermore, the CRTC has strengthened its own measures over time. In 2017, the CRTC revised its wireless consumer code with changes, including a ban on cellphone unlocking fees. That provided savings for millions of Canadians and also made it easier for them to switch providers if they chose to.
    Our government recognizes that more needs to be done. The CCTS 2018-19 “Mid-Year Report” shows that a large proportion of complaints received are about home Internet services. In addition, Canadians have expressed serious concerns about the sales practices used by certain large telecommunications carriers. We share those concerns. That is why, in June 2018, we directed the CRTC to launch a public inquiry to thoroughly investigate this matter and to consider potential solutions. We required the CRTC to investigate what provisions carriers have in place to mitigate the risk of consumers being subject to misleading or aggressive sales tactics. Furthermore, we specifically called for the CRTC to address the most feasible ways to strengthen or expand the scope of existing consumer protections, such as its codes of conduct. We also asked the CRTC to consider creating new codes of conduct that relate specifically to new issues so as to further empower consumers to make informed decisions with respect to their telecommunications services.
     In short, we want to ensure the fair treatment of all Canadians. The CRTC led the inquiry, and the Competition Bureau also participated, given its expertise in combatting deceptive marketing.
    In February 2019, the CRTC released its report on misleading and aggressive sales practices, which confirmed that such sales practices were taking place.
    That these practices occur is unacceptable. They harm consumers, in particular vulnerable Canadians, and are a serious concern for the CRTC. The CRTC confirmed that they exist in all types of sales channels, including in stores, online, over the phone and door to door. The CRTC also believes that the internal measures put in place by the carriers to address misleading or aggressive sales practices are not achieving their stated goals.
    In its report, the CRTC outlined a range of measures to address the matter of these sales practices. In the near term, the CRTC has an Internet code of conduct already under development. The CRTC also noted that it was necessary to establish such a mandatory code of conduct to address consumer contracts and other related issues.
    The CRTC sought comments on a draft Internet code, which is based on provisions in two of its existing codes of conduct: the wireless code and the television service provider code.

  (1545)  

    Issues addressed in this draft include contract clarity, bill shock, bill management tools, service outages, equipment issues and barriers to switching service providers. The CRTC also sought public comments from Canadians with disabilities and companies that worked in this field on the kinds of experiences, barriers and challenges they faced.
     Final comments were received this year, and a decision will follow shortly.
    Furthermore, in the near future, the CRTC plans to launch a secret shopper program to monitor behaviour in the marketplace and will also create information tools to help consumers better understand their rights and the avenues they have for recourse.
    The CRTC has an ambitious agenda for future action, which will require multiple regulatory processes to consider and to implement. Among others, it will consider expanding the CCTS's mandate to include handling complaints about misleading or aggressive retail sales practices. It will also consider requiring service providers to ensure their offers and promotions match the consumers' needs and means. Any new measures will add to the consumer protections already in place. This is a good thing, giving more protections for Canadian consumers.
    More broadly, our government is taking action to ensure Canadian consumers are at the forefront of all future regulatory decisions in telecommunications.
     Having a customer focused agenda, our government recently announced a proposed policy direction that would require the CRTC to consider competition, affordability, consumer interests and innovation in all its telecommunications decisions and demonstrate to Canadians that it had in fact done so.
    Through this proposed directive, we will ensure that telecommunications policy will be made through a consumer-first lens to ensure Canadians have access to quality services at more affordable prices, focused on their needs as consumers. The proposed policy direction includes a specific focus toward measures that will enhance and protect the rights of consumers in their relationships with telecommunications providers.
    The record shows that Canadians have shown significant support for this policy direction.
     Following the publication of the proposed policy direction, we sought feedback from Canadians. Over 64,000 Canadians wrote to their members of Parliament and sent copies to my colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, to indicate their support for the general policy direction. Another 14,000 Canadians signed a petition in support of the policy direction.
     This proposed approach will be a clear and binding direction to the CRTC and apply to all its decisions on a going forward basis. One of my colleagues will soon speak more on our policy direction to the CRTC and how it will put consumers at the forefront of decisions.
    It is unequivocally unacceptable that Canadians are subjected to aggressive and misleading sales practices. This government has responded with concrete and effective actions to protect and empower Canadian consumers. Our government will continue to stand up for consumers to ensure they are treated fairly. In addition, we will ensure that the technical tools are there to ensure we have access to the services, technically speaking, getting broadband available across all of Canada.

  (1550)  

    Madam Speaker, I certainly appreciate the member opposite's work, along with other members such as me, on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
    Last week, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development dropped a bomb, not literally but metaphorically, on the fixed wireless providers due to the new announced changes to the 3,500 megahertz spectrum auction. The government is going to be clawing back from rural areas and repurposing that, which is the first time this has ever happened. In previous years, if providers did not follow through with the conditions, that could have been possible. This is the first time the government has ever done this.
    This policy will either cause service to be lost, because spectrum runs the system, or it will put a permanent cap on the growth of those wireless providers that are offering competition to the other large telecom providers.
     I would like to hear the member comment on this. I know he is a great advocate for e-health and other innovations, but this will be very harmful to local economies.

  (1555)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member across the way for continuing the discussion we are having in the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. As these concerns come forward, they will go to the government to be looked at and analyzed.
    The intention of the program is to increase the competition within the smaller regions of Canada. There are concerns from different types of carriers. We have not heard from the smaller carriers. However, in the end, we need to have something that is fair to Canadians and provides service at an affordable rate, which I know the hon. member would support as well.
    Madam Speaker, I was fascinated to hear a 10-minute speech from a member who obviously had not read what the motion was about. We are not talking about misleading pricing practices. We are talking about price gauging and the fact that people in my region are paying $70 a month for two gigabytes, when in Australia people pay $24 a month. This is supported by the government and the league of telecom lobbyists who knock on its doors daily. When my daughter was in Rwanda, she had better download rates than she can get in downtown Ottawa.
     Let us talk about northern Ontario and the complete failure of the government, which ended broadband plans and said that it would another one. We waited two years for that. Many of the communities I represent do not have broadband service and pay outrageous fees. The government continues to protect the telecom giants that rip us off day in, day out.
    To say that the Liberals will do something better about bad arbitrary calling and how they deal with it is a side issue. The issue is the price gauging by a protected market of telecom giants.
    Madam Speaker, I will turn that into a question about what type of frequency we need in the north. If we look at the 600 megahertz band, we had an auction on that band this year. The low frequency band covers long distances in the north. Of the 112 licenses, 104 from this auction were from nine participants that would go toward developing these types of services in northern Canada and, in particular, indigenous communities. The hon. member across the way should be glad to see the progress we have on the low frequency part of the auction.
    Madam Speaker, I really would like the member opposite to reconsider his previous answer to me. The fixed wireless communities are usually small, local regional players that have offered services that, through no fault of their own, have had their spectrum clawed back. That is why it is called a clawback. It is going to be repurposed, as in, sold at a higher auction price. This is kneecapping those regional players that have traditionally gone to places where the big telecoms have not.
     Does the member not understand there was a consultation and the minister announced last week this change in policy? It is ridiculous.
    A brief answer from the hon. member for Guelph.
    Madam Speaker, it is hard to be brief on these complex issues. When we look at the $1.7 billion that we will spend on the universal broadband fund to connect every household in Canada by 2030, this will include all types of providers, including the types the hon. member across the way has mentioned.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Guelph, who was good enough to share his time with me, as well as all those individuals from different political parties who have been so supportive and helpful over the years.
    It is with mixed emotions that I rise today to give what will be my farewell address in this chamber, the people's House.
     Thirty-five years ago, the people of Niagara Falls first elected me as their member of Parliament, and I will be forever grateful to them.
    I am proud today to be wearing the Nicholson tartan tie for this occasion. I am pleased as well to be wearing a medal that was given to family members of World War I veterans. I received this when I was over at Vimy Ridge a couple of years ago. I was told that the Borden government encouraged people who were related to people who served in World War I to wear the medal. I had two grand-uncles, Gordon Gunn and Stewart Gunn, who fought in World War I. I have been very proud to wear this in public since that time.
    As a boy, I took an interest in Prime Minister John Diefenbaker during the Cuban missile crisis. We talked about it all the time and I got quite caught up with this. I wrote to Mr. Diefenbaker and told him of my support for him, and it started a fan club in my class on his behalf.
    Among other things, I would like to point out to the chamber that on this day, June 10, 1957, John Diefenbaker won his first election as Prime Minister of Canada. That was a great day for our country.
    At the age of 13, I had the privilege of meeting the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, who asked me if I wanted to become a Conservative MP some day. I said for sure I would.
    What I did not know at the time was that since the creation of the Niagara Falls riding, the Liberals had won five straight elections. It came as no surprise to me that years later my teacher, Mrs. Gordon, told me that when she told other teachers I wanted to be a Conservative MP some day, one of them said she should have encouraged me to become the captain of the Zeppelin instead.
    In my 24 years in the House of Commons, I have witnessed much, such as the rise and fall of governments, including my own. Regardless of political stripe, the important thing is that our democracy works. There is not another country in the world that does it better than Canada.
     At citizenship courts and others, I always say that to be a Canadian means that one has won the lotto of life. That was consistently true in the roles I have had as defence minister, foreign affairs minister and justice minister.
    Wherever I went in the world, representatives of other countries were always and completely consistent. They were appreciative of and grateful to Canada.
    I remember being in Afghanistan a few years ago, talking with government officials. They wanted to talk about the difference Canada and our allies had made in that country. They told me that in 2006, 75,000 girls went to school in Afghanistan. They pointed to me and said that two million girls now went to school in Afghanistan, that this was the difference Canada and its allies had made. What we heard was so consistent with what we hear wherever we go.
    One of the other things that always struck me was Canada's influence. I remember getting off a plane in Ukraine and being asked if I would wear a poppy on my left lapel. This was in March. I said I would. Everywhere I went I could see posters of people wearing poppies. I checked my briefing notes, but I did not see anything on this in particular. When I asked about it, I was told that up to a couple of years ago Ukraine had commemorated its war dead the way the old Soviet Union did, but had decided to do what Canada did, which was to wear a poppy. It is a perfect example of Canada's influence.
    I remember getting off the plane in the United Arab Emirates and meeting Prince Abdullah, who was the foreign minister. We made a bit of chit-chat. He told me his son had just completed the Terry Fox run. I asked if he had visited Canada recently, to which he replied no, that the run was in Abu Dhabi, where 20,000 people participated in the Terry Fox run. He said that they got the idea from Canada, to which I replied “I know”.
     This is so consistent with what we have heard about Canada. Canada has always been there for the right reasons.
    Over the years, I have always emphasized the great opportunities for our country. Sometimes we do not underscore that enough.

  (1600)  

    I remember, back in 1988, I had a meeting with an American congressman. We were going to have an election later in 1988, and he said to me, “Do you have your money lined up?” I told him that my party had a few dollars in the bank and that we could spend only $50,000, because that was the limit. He said, “Fifty thousand? I don't think I could open an office for $50,000.” I asked him how much he had, and he said, “I am running for re-election as a congressman, and I have $2 million in the bank right now.” I thought to myself, what a wonderful country this is. One does not have to have a couple of million dollars to become a member of Parliament. We do not need that kind of money, and we are not dependent on people for that.
    We are truly blessed to live in this country. In the words of Prime Minister Diefenbaker:
    I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
    May all of us in this House continue to value those ideas, because that is what makes Canada great.
    It was a great opportunity to be elected in 1984, and it was a great day for Canada when Brian Mulroney was elected prime minister. I have had so many amazing experiences that I would need much more time than I have today to recall them all.
    I do remember, for instance, that very soon after being elected, Brian Mulroney sent several of us MPs over to Ethiopia and Sudan to observe that aid was getting through to the people of those countries. It was no surprise to me that it was getting through. Canadian aid was being delivered to the people of Sudan and Ethiopia. Again, this is one of the things that are so characteristic of this country.
    I was proud to be a member of the government that enacted the acid rain treaty between Canada and the United States and the free trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and I was proud of the fact that Brian Mulroney took such a determined stance against apartheid and was the first western leader to recognize the freedom of Ukraine.
    One of the last pieces of legislation to be passed under that government was legislation that made the possession of child pornography illegal in Canada. I am most proud that as a government we stood to protect children from falling prey to this heinous crime.
    I also had the honour of serving under Canada's first female prime minister, the Right Hon. Kim Campbell, first as her parliamentary secretary and then later as minister of science and small business.
    Serving in the cabinet under the Right Hon. Stephen Harper was one of the great chapters of my life, first of all as his House leader, minister of justice, minister of national defence, and minister of foreign affairs. I thank him, because on the world stage, he stood up consistently for what is right. He stood up for the integrity of our justice system and the rule of law, and for victims of crime. I believe he will go down in history as one of Canada's greatest prime ministers.
    During my time as an opposition member these last few years, I was very pleased to have passed my private member's Bill C-233, on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. One of the most poignant memories I have, after the passing of my friend and colleague Gord Brown, was my initiative to distribute aspirin pill holders in his memory.
     I also want to thank the hon. Leader of the Opposition for having placed his confidence in me. I am grateful to have served under him as shadow minister for justice and shadow minister for procurement. I thank him for putting my name forward for the national security committee. Canada is fortunate to have the Leader of the Opposition.
    There are many I would be remiss if I did not thank. The countless volunteers who gave up their personal time to elect me are all remarkable Canadians, and I owe them a debt of gratitude. I want to thank all those who worked on my federal campaigns, people like the Lyon, Gibson and Stockton families, and members of my own family who have helped me for over 35 years.
    This is also for Maureen Murphy and the outstanding staff I have had the privilege of working with in my ministerial portfolios, on the Hill and in the riding. I cannot name all the people who worked in my Hill and constituency offices, but I will name those who are with me today: Stewart Graham, Tracy Alway, Anna Annunziata, Jenn Stockton, Billy Morrison and Cheri Elliott. I want them to know that it has been an honour to work with them, and a great privilege for me.

  (1605)  

    To my beautiful wife and partner, Arlene, so often she displayed extraordinary graciousness in not having her husband by her side when duty called. There were many special occasions I was not able to be present at. I often tell people, though, that if a spouse does not completely support them in their candidacy, they should not get into this job, because it is a 24-hour-a-day job. One of the blessings I have had is the unequivocal backing of my wife, and I thank her for her love and support. I am looking forward to being there for my wife and my family. I love Arlene dearly.
    To my colleagues in the House and those who work with us, I am grateful. It has been a privilege serving with them, and Canada is a better place because of them.
    There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. Now is my time and season to say farewell to this venerated chamber.
     This marks the beginning of a new chapter in my life for Arlene, myself and our three children, Rob, Peter and Christine. I have enjoyed the journey thus far and look forward to what the future holds. I have always been proud to be a loyal subject of Her Majesty the Queen, and I am proud that the people of Niagara Falls have given me the privilege of serving in this place.
    I thank everyone for the memories, for they will last long after the goodbyes.

  (1610)  

    I want to thank the member for his passionate speech and wish him all the best as he starts a new chapter in his life as we head into a different Parliament.
     I also want to acknowledge the other speakers who have made their speeches over the past few weeks with their farewells to this parliamentary session.
    We do have time for questions and comments. I see that the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby is rising.
    Madam Speaker, I will not be asking a question, but I do have some comments for the hon. member for Niagara Falls. He is the dean of the Conservative caucus, and there is no doubt he has the immense respect of members on both sides of this House, for a number of reasons.
    First, as colleagues are well aware, he brings a wealth of experience to the House and has always brought that in the work that he does on the chamber floor. I will just quickly recount his experience: minister for science; minister responsible for small business; government House leader at a time of minority Parliaments, when it is not easy at all to be the government House leader, but he met that challenge; minister of justice; attorney general; minister of defence, and then a variety of critic roles, as well as parliamentary secretary roles. That experience has given him a wealth of knowledge, and I, for one, rely on that knowledge every time he rises to speak in this House. Sometimes I disagree with it, but there is no doubt he brings with that experience a wealth of knowledge that contributes to the work of the House of Commons and to Canada in a very real and meaningful way.
    He is also a very fierce defender of Conservative values. I do not always agree with him, but what I appreciate most is that, good times and bad, he has always been there for the Conservative Party, even running in some of the most difficult times. Also, he is very collegial and has friends in all the party caucuses and on both sides of the House.
    On behalf of the New Democratic Party, I am sad to see the hon. member go, but we all wish him and Arlene all the best in a very well-deserved retirement. He has made a difference in this place.
    Madam Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the hon. member's speech. He started by talking about something that we all know is true: that political leaders can have an impact on youth and inspire them to follow a career in politics. He talked about his experience with then prime minister Diefenbaker.
     I am sure that the hon. member, through his experience speaking to students and being present in the community, has inspired others to follow in his footsteps. I sincerely hope, however, that he did not irrevocably steer these young people away from running as Liberals. I do not think he would have, because my experience with the member has always been that he has approached issues and the people in this House with graciousness. He has never been heavy-handed in his approach and has never resorted to personal attacks. I think he is a fine example, not only for the youth in this country but for all Canadians.
    I had the pleasure of sitting on the transport committee with the hon. member when he was re-elected in his return to Parliament, and I have always enjoyed listening to him speak in debate. I wish him and his wife Arlene and his family the very best going forward. It has been a pleasure to sit in this Parliament with him.

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to pass on my thanks to the member for his dedication to our great country, to our Queen and to his family. He has been a fantastic person to learn from, and I will always remember him as being the best minister of justice I have had the opportunity to serve beside. He did many great things for this country.
     However, I have to say that I have tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the member that the wines of British Columbia, particularly the Okanagan Valley, are far superior to those of Niagara and Ontario in general. I would like to ask the member whether he now agrees that B.C. wines are far superior to Ontario wines. Have I finally had some influence on his taste and his perspective?
    Madam Speaker, I do not agree. The member was doing so well with his comments, and then he got a little off track.
    I want to thank members from all three political parties. In the different roles that I have had, on many occasions, I have had the opportunity to work with members and their staff. It was a great experience for me, and I grew greater respect for all those who do work, because they truly believe. As the hon. member from the Liberal Party said, we do not always agree on the same issues, but we passionately agree with what we do understand to be the truth and what is the best for this country. While we may disagree, that respect continues.
    Again, I thank all my colleagues very much. I appreciate it.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Timmins—James Bay.
    I am so pleased to rise today to speak to this very important NDP opposition day motion that talks about cellphone and Internet accessibility and affordability.
    I represent the beautiful rural riding of Essex. By far, this is one of our main issues. There are many places throughout rural ridings that simply do not have any type of service, and if they do, it is substandard at best. Therefore, I want to thank my friend and colleague, the member for Windsor West, for all of his work on this critical issue. I want to commend him. He has a fabulous way of understanding what matters to not just his constituents but all Canadians and working hard to improve those areas. He is a fantastic MP, because he constantly focuses on these pocketbook issues of affordability that make a real difference to his constituents and all Canadians. I want to thank him for that. It also adds to his body of work on a digital bill of rights, which I know he is passionate about.
    People in our region of Windsor-Essex are extremely appreciative of the work we have been doing to bring this issue to light. Therefore, at the end of this Parliament, I am very pleased that we are rising to talk about an important issue for Canadians.
    In ridings like Essex, being connected to a cellphone and high-speed Internet is not a luxury; it is an essential service. Farmers, seniors, small businesses, vintners, tourist-based industries and students all rely on connectivity. Every aspect of our lives relies on this. In today's connected world, having access to cellphone and high-speed Internet is essential to the lives of people, whether with respect to work, home or life in between.
    Many Canadians get their cellphone bill at the end of the month and are afraid to open it. They pause before they open it, because they are wondering what is going to be inside. They do not know what the total will be. Did they go over their usage? Did their spouse or another family member go over the limit? It is very hard to budget for a bill that is constantly changing every month. Trying to understand and interpret what is in the bill is difficult. Then, if something is wrong, they pick up the phone and have to spend hours and hours with these big telecom companies trying to get to the bottom of what exactly has happened. That is a reality for a lot of Canadians. They get that bill, open that bill and are truly afraid of what they are going to see. All of us have been in this position where we wonder what the charges are that are being added to our bill. It is not just that the basic packages are completely unaffordable. It is the unknown of what we will see when we open those cellphone and Internet bills.
    Then there is a flip side. I am sure this will sound familiar to a lot of Canadians, because I hear it from people wherever I go. People are afraid to use their cellphones because they are not sure what they are covered for and they are afraid they will go over their data limit. People literally are not using their cellphones outside of an extreme situation because they know they will be dinged for doing that. It has created this whole other culture of people trying to interpret and understand something that, quite frankly, is not easy to understand. People are conditioned to seek out free Wi-Fi to limit their usage of their data because they are afraid of hitting that amount and going over on their bill.
    There should be a study done in the House on the behaviours people have adopted because they are afraid of what their bill might be at the end of the month, as it really is changing the behaviour of people. Even with full-speed data there is a cap. When people hit that cap, their data is slowed down for the rest of the billing period. People are essentially being punished because they have reached their cap, and now their access to that service is slowed down. In rural communities like mine, this is a very serious safety issue. There are many people who are travelling on country roads. If they are suddenly unable to access things at the speed they need to, how fair is that for people? How safe is that?
    If people want to know how much they are being ripped off by big telecom companies, which the Liberals and Conservatives are both defending here today, they should pick up the phone and call Bell, Telus, Rogers, or any one of the service providers, and say they are leaving. If they say they are leaving, the price will drop faster than they have ever seen. All of a sudden, the company is coming out with offers to take money off their bill. If people do not take advantage of that during the phone call, they will get emails and more phone calls afterward, because the company will go after them.

  (1620)  

    Essentially, there are already tiers of people paying different prices in Canada, because if people can spend the time to pick up the phone and call and complain, companies are quick to drop the price. There are lower prices that are accessible for some Canadians but not all Canadians. That is completely unfair.
    We have these discrepancies that exist in the pricing because companies are all desperate to keep customers. They are making an incredible profit on the backs of Canadians. They make the highest profit margin on gigabytes in the world. No wonder they are charging us the most money that they possibly can.
    Everyone knows we are paying the highest prices for mobile wireless and broadband services in the developed world. It is time to fix that. We could ask any Canadian right now on Wellington Street or in my community of Essex, “Do you think we are paying a fair rate for services and broadband?” No one believes we are paying a fair rate. Everyone knows we have the highest costs. Why is this? We have been conditioned to accept it. Why are Liberals and Conservatives happy to accept this? I cannot quite get my head around it.
    I want to say one other thing about the telecom companies. Last year, Bell had an offer if people called between certain periods of time and stayed on the phone for hours on end. I know about that because I did it. At first people did not think it was real, but Bell said they would get a cheaper plan, but only if they called during a certain window of time and only if they kept their current phone. It is not that the big telecom companies cannot reduce their profit and still make a profit; it is simply that they refuse to do it or will only do it for some Canadians some of the time. That is not acceptable.
    My riding of Essex is a rural one and like most of Canada the access and affordability just do not exist; they are just not there. At times in my neighbourhood, people have to stand in a certain place in their house to be able to speak on their cellphone. If they need cellphone access for their business, or a student or a senior needs cellphone access, they simply do not have it and they have to manoeuver within their homes.
     It reminds me of back in the day when people would put tinfoil on the rabbit ears of televisions to get a channel. That is the reality of what rural communities face, and that is only if we can get service. Many pockets in my communities cannot get cell service. People know that their cellphone service will drop between one concession road and another because no one has service within that area.
    Farmers are extremely high tech and need to know that every acre is covered. They are sending out drones and doing incredible things with technology on farms, but they do not have the access they need. That is outrageous. Liberals want them to wait 10 years for a plan that maybe will work. That just is not acceptable. We need service and it is becoming essential.
    Many Canadians are asking how we have become this country with the highest costs. The Liberals and Conservatives have certainly heard this argument today and say that we can rely on the market and competition. They say not to worry, that the corporations will take care of it and somehow competition will bring the prices down. That has not happened. There is no evidence of that whatsoever.
    If we bring in new entrants, but do not have robust consumer protection, price ceilings, essential service mandates and market oversight, measures which are not being implemented by the way, we simply are not getting competitive rates. When we leave it up to the corporations to give us fair rates, we end up exactly where we are. That means Canadian consumers are being forced to pay more than $20 more than the average monthly prices in other OECD countries.
    Liberals and Conservatives once again want to leave it up to the corporations to lower their prices: “Let us not interfere in the market.” They think that somehow these corporations, out of the kindness of their hearts, are going to take less money in profits and lower costs for Canadians. Who believes that? Who sees that happening? People in Essex certainly do not see that as part of their reality.

  (1625)  

    This is about having the courage to stand up to rich telecom companies to protect our wallets and improve the services we rely on. The NDP appears to be the only party willing to do just that on behalf of Canadians.
    I am curious to see how Liberals and Conservatives will vote. To be quite honest, I do not know how they can vote against the affordability and accessibility of wireless and broadband Internet in our country. It would shock a lot of Canadians if they voted against this.
    In countries like Australia, people are sometimes paying two times less than Canadians do for the same plan. While Canadian telecoms make the most revenue per wireless gigabyte in the world, Canadians are paying the highest prices.
    On behalf of Canadians, New Democrats are saying enough is enough.
    Madam Speaker, certainly Canadians are experiencing an affordability crisis. The member and other NDP members are certainly right to raise this as one of the issues.
     The problem is the impracticality of their suggestions. They say that they want to see further investments so that rural and remote areas, particularly indigenous communities up north, can have full, affordable access to Internet. That is certainly possible. The Auditor General chronicled it. He said there was about 160 billion dollars' worth of work that needs to be done. However, by putting a price cap on this, right away it handicaps small regional providers from being able to get the capital necessary to build out those networks.
    Does the hon. member not recognize that by her party's own motion today, just that one simple suggestion is going to drive away investment and make it more difficult for indigenous communities and small regional players to get spectrum and give Canadians the services they need and desire?
    Madam Speaker, the member is invoking indigenous communities as a reason to help corporations. Only a Conservative would bring that argument into the House.
    There is money here. Let us consider the spectrum auction. It is $17.6 billion in revenue. This money could be used to improve the services that are necessary. Quite honestly, establishing a cap would mean big telecoms would have to start looking at offering Canadians unlimited data, just as telecoms are doing across the globe.
    If we never cap these big telecom corporations, will they ever stop overcharging Canadians? Will our prices every come down? Those are the real questions.
    If we do not start looking at this in a way to make it affordable and accessible, like it is across the world, then shame on all of us. This is about, on average, $600 going toward Canadian families, Canadian seniors and Canadian businesses every single year. Why would Conservatives not support that?

  (1630)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, over the past few years, our government has invested more than $900 million to connect communities across Canada. In budget 2019, we announced a $1.7-billion investment in infrastructure projects, bringing the total to nearly $5 billion.
    Does my colleague believe these investments are important? Why did the NDP vote against those measures?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the Liberal Party has been in government for three and a half years, and it has not included any consumer price protection on any of the spectrum auctions that have happened during its mandate. After three and a half years, the result has been ever-rising prices for Canadians for wireless service, reaching levels that are among the highest in the world.
    Why will the Liberals not talk about cellphone service affordability and Internet affordability for all of our communities? I am very curious to see how the member will vote today, given that we are talking about making these services more affordable for Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, the member has raised the subject of affordability a number of times. The previous Conservative government reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. That lowered the cost of everyone's cellphone and Internet service. It is something the NDP opposed at the time. The NDP has always opposed tax relief that would help Canadians.
     NDP members are now bringing up the spectrum auction, suggesting that somehow they can be the white knights of affordability without actually saying what they would do with the spectrum auction. I would like to hear what the member proposes concretely to change in the spectrum auction that would provide some relief for Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, I cannot believe the member is defending price gouging in some way. There is money in the spectrum auction, and this belongs to Canadians. The spectrum auction belongs to all of us, and the money that has been raised out of the spectrum auction can be used.
    When the Conservatives were in power for 10 years, they did not include any consumer protections on any of the spectrum auctions. To be quite honest, there were 10 years under the Conservatives and almost four years under the Liberals and we still have the highest costs in the world. That is what we are left with out of these governments, and it is time for better.
    I noticed there were some questions as to how I picked individuals. I want to remind members that it has been going on for quite some time.
    The way we do it is, when an individual from a certain party is delivering the speech, during a five-minute question and comment period, the other parties will ask questions, in order to have a healthy debate. Therefore, if they get up during the five-minute period, generally the party making the speech will not get a question. When it is a 10-minute round, they will get questions, unless no one else gets up. This is to allow for debate. This has been going on since I have been the Chair, and all of the other Chairs deliberate in that same fashion.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

  (1635)  

    Madam Speaker, we are here today to watch the Liberals and Conservatives come together to defend price-gouging against Canadians, in order to defend what they are claiming is a free market and the importance of a free market. It is not a free market. The telecom market in Canada is a constructed market that is protected. It is protected for the interests of companies that make the highest profits in telecom services in the world, while delivering the highest cost per consumer.
    I will begin by talking about two places.
    One place is Rwanda. When my daughter was working in Rwanda, she contacted me on her cellphone. I said to her that it must be really expensive to contact us in Canada from Rwanda. She said that she gets better download speeds and download rates in rural Rwanda than she gets in downtown Ottawa. I was quite taken aback by that.
    Another place, which you know well, Madam Speaker, is northern Ontario. I do not know if the Conservatives and the Liberals know that Highway 11 and Highway 17 are part of the Trans-Canada Highway route. That is where hundreds of millions of dollars in goods move every day. It is the national transportation corridor. Let us imagine the shock of a couple who invested in a business on the Trans-Canada Highway and were told, in 2018, that a telecom company cannot give their business cellphone service. The big telecom giants who serve the area say that there is no business case for serving those people.
    We have been hearing from the Conservatives today that it is very important to gouge consumers; that is how the free market works. If companies rip people off and make them pay more money, then the magic of the free market is that the telecom capitalists will just reinvest all that and help rural areas. They said that they would help indigenous people. I have never seen, in the history of Canada, telecom companies help any indigenous community unless the government is putting up the money.
     That is the market we live in. We live in a market where it is the taxpayers who put the money in for the broadband expansions. It is the taxpayers who pay through the nose, time and again, for the price-gouging that goes on. As my hon. colleague from Essex pointed out, if people do not think it is possible to get better rates, all they have to do is call Bell and Rogers and say they are quitting their service. The companies will do backflips to give them lower prices. I talk to seniors who have to give up their phone coverage because they cannot afford to pay for it. They phoned me, and they were shocked at how willing Bell was to give them so much better a rate. They would not have gotten that if they had not threatened to quit.
    What does that mean for our economy? We have tried to build an economy that is a digital world-class economy, and yet Canadians have the lowest data use of pretty much any western country. The only countries that use less wireless service than we do are the Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany, Belgium and Greece. We had a period where people would say they did not want to use their cellphone, were not sure if they were covered and did not want to know what the extra costs are. Therefore, we have some of the lowest usage of phones and yet we pay the highest rates.
    Let us talk about what gouging means, because it seems to be a confusing thing to Liberals and Conservatives. They want to compare apples to apples. On a two-gigabyte plan for their phone, people pay about $75 Canadian a month, and they can still get gouged on top of that. In Paris, people pay $30; in Rome, $24. The Liberals and the Conservatives might say that is not fair and it is different in Europe. Let us compare a similar-sized country with a similar population and similar large rural regions, such as Australia. Australians pay $24.70 a month on average for two gigabytes. In Canada, we are paying $70.
    The Conservatives and the Liberals would tell us that is the beauty of the free market. No, that is the beauty of Liberals and Conservatives hanging out day after day with the telecom lobbyists.

  (1640)  

    Folks back at home might not know, but we can hardly walk down the halls of Parliament without bumping into or tripping over a telecom lobbyist, because they do not want government to address the inequities that we are seeing. They want government to continue to protect this protected market that has allowed them the highest profits anywhere in telecommunications.
    In terms of total revenue per gigabyte, Canada is 70 times higher in revenue than India, which has pretty much one billion people paying into it. Now, the telecom companies might say that is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Well then, let us go to Finland, which also has a northern climate. The telecom revenues in Canada are 23 times higher than Finland. Yet, I am being told that the Canadian telecom companies cannot give us a break on our phones, that it will somehow break the companies and destroy the digital economy if they were not allowed to gouge that 23 times higher than what people in Finland have.
    If we look at the success rate, 63% of people in rural Canada do not have access to high-speed broadband. The Liberals think they have done something great, while the Conservatives took the $17-billion spectrum auction and spent it on everything but reinvesting in a modern digital economy. There are 14% of the highways and major transportation routes that do not have access to LTE wireless services. When we get up into the north, we get into much higher rates in terms of what people cannot access.
    Phones are not luxury items anymore. They are essential. We have government moving to all online services, and yet it will not deliver proper rural broadband or proper rates that people can afford to pay to be able to even access the services of the government.
    What are we talking about in terms of a vision? The New Democrats have been saying all along that the spectrum auction is the greatest opportunity to reinvest in a truly digital economy. We have protected the telecom data-opolies for so long that, if they are going to have a protected market, then they are going to have a market that is fair, and that market is going to end the price gouging and we are going to put the caps on. The Liberals will not and the Conservatives will not, because they will look after the friends of big business time and time again, and they will continue to leave ordinary Canadians behind.
    We will put the investments in a truly digital economy, because that is where the future lies. It is not in protecting the insider friends of both the Liberals and Conservatives. It is about protecting ordinary Canadians. It is about protecting seniors. It is about making sure that, when we drive on a northern highway, we have access to telecom services. It is not just northern highways. We can get 30 kilometres outside of Ottawa and have service cut off. How do they explain a first-world country where 30 kilometres outside of the nation's capital we can have our cellphone die out? That is the lack of vision in the last 15 years that we have had under Conservative and Liberal governments, and we are going to change that. It will begin by taking on the telecom giants and making sure we have accessible, fair service at a fair price for Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, as I said many times today, Conservatives want to see more money in the wallets and back pockets of Canadians so that they can spend on important things for their families, save for their children's education, etc.
    The NDP members who have risen today continue to fail to actually say what their spectrum policy will be. The auction process for spectrum is actually charged to the companies, which then have to charge Canadians to be able to facilitate and pay for that spectrum. With a price cap, the motion before us would kneecap many of the small, regional operators that have been able to carve out a niche right across this country. Again, on the spectrum, do the NDP members actually have any ideas, or are they just saying they are going to reform it; and who will pay for it?
    Madam Speaker, we always know that the Conservatives are going to stand up suddenly for the little guy when it means defending their big friends. They had 10 years on the spectrum auction. They continued to refuse to move forward with a vision that would actually reinvest—
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    I would remind the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola that he had an opportunity to ask a question or make comments and nobody interrupted him during that time. I would ask him to hold onto his thoughts and allow the member to speak, whether he likes the answer or not, and then he may have an opportunity to ask another question or make another comment.
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

  (1645)  

    Madam Speaker, I do not hold it against my friend. I know that he is frustrated. It must be terrible to stand up day after day and pretend that his party is defending the little guy when it is coming into the House with a record like Stephen Harper's on the spectrum auction, which took all those billions of dollars that could have been reinvested. However, the Conservatives do not reinvest. When there were billions of dollars from a spectrum auction that could have been invested in the economy, what did they do? They gave it in tax cuts to the rich. They then turned around and asked themselves how they were going to pay for things if they could not do price gouging of senior citizens. That is the Conservative economic model in a nutshell.
    Madam Speaker, I am interested in my colleague's thoughts in regard to the 2017 budget, which saw a substantial decrease in costs for low-income families. We were able to achieve that with a number of private companies. They were looking at $10 a month. Could the member share what his thoughts are with respect to that?
    Madam Speaker, certainly the ability to give low-income families a fair price is very important. It raises the question of why other families do not get a fair price. If the government can do it for low-income families, why can it not do it for seniors?
    The problem with the government is that it has allowed the price gouging to go on for years. We are paying $70 a month, when people in Australia are paying $24 a month. It is affecting students. It is affecting seniors. It is affecting businesses. It is a lag on the development of a data-driven economy.
    If we can do this in a very limited way for a very small number of people, because only a small number of people were eligible for that, why is it not possible to have a proper data plan in place to ensure that everyone has access in the digital age?
    Madam Speaker, I go back to the spectrum policy. The reason there are spectrum auctions is that there is only so much spectrum available, and an auction is a very efficient way for government to allocate it based on what people are willing to pay for it.
    The member has not given a single thing the NDP would propose to do differently. I would like to hear one or two original ideas of what it would do differently in a spectrum auction. I would like him to admit that the NDP is just putting forward things it has no intention of getting serious about. It is just marketing for electoral gain.
    Madam Speaker, again, the issue is that he is trying to avoid the question of price gouging, which the Conservatives support. The problem with the spectrum auction is that if it goes for what people are willing to pay for it, as he says, then of course the big players are going to win, and the big players have won year after year after year, and then they come and whine to us and tell us that we have to pay.
    Earlier he was talking about the little players and indigenous people. Conservatives always bring indigenous people in suddenly when they are trying to defend the big boys. If the Conservative idea of a spectrum auction is that those who have the most money can pay, that is a failed process.
    What we would say is that a spectrum auction has to always include rural, indigenous and new players, who would have a guarantee to get access to it so that we could get some competition, which is something the Liberals and the Conservatives have never allowed in this telecom market.

[Translation]

    Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni, The Environment.

[English]

    Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise and talk, even about issues that are brought to the floor by my New Democrat friends.
     The NDP speakers have talked about the five big things they will do to try to lower prices. There is one in particular I want to reference, which is “abolishing data caps for broadband Internet and mandating that companies create unlimited data plans at affordable rates for wireless services”.
    I was in the Manitoba legislature when we had the great debate about the privatization of the Manitoba telephone system. It was a very heated discussion. I remember one day wearing an army helmet into the chamber, and it was photographed. They called it the war of words. We had MLAs who were walking over and making threatening gestures to the government of the day. The Manitoba legislature was in a bit of an uproar back then.
    The New Democrats opposed it going into the next election, saying that they would buy back the Manitoba telephone system. They even had emergency debates on buying back the Manitoba telephone system. New Democrats argued that rural Manitoba would be shafted and that the prices for telephone services would skyrocket. I must say that I enjoyed that debate. I argued with many of the different points. In fact, the record will show that I did not support the privatization of the Manitoba telephone system.
    However, once the NDP were in government in the province, 15 years later, it did not do anything about the Manitoba telephone system, not a thing, even though New Democrats told Manitobans that they would do quite the opposite.
    That is why, when I look at the NDP's five points for action, I am inclined to agree, and it is not often that I agree with the Conservatives across the way, that this is an election gimmick by the NDP. What New Democrats are trying to tell Canadians is that they would tell our private providers that they would have to expand and that they would have to give unlimited Internet. It would not be an option. They would mandate that they do it. New Democrats would also mandate what the price would be.
    The only other thing I am a little surprised the New Democrats have not said is that their intention would be to nationalize. If they were to nationalize the sector, then they would be able to act on all five points they are presenting. I noticed a couple of the New Democrats smile at that gesture. Maybe that is what their real intent would be. At the end of the day, they need to be a little more transparent in terms of what New Democrats could actually accomplish. In the motion, it says that they want to reduce bills by $10.
     For the 2017 budget, through the connecting families initiative, the Government of Canada, through negotiations and discussions with more than a dozen carriers, agreed that we need to get families connected to the Internet with access to cellular plans. That meant a guarantee of $10 to get that plan. We have seen thousands of families, in all different regions of our country, take advantage of that. It is tied to the Canada child benefit program.

  (1650)  

    We are recognizing how important it is for individuals to have access to cellular and Internet services. As opposed to talking about it, there was a budget initiative to put Internet into the homes of some of the poorest people in Canada. What did New Democrats do? They voted against that budget. On the one hand, they talk about reducing the rate for Internet usage and cellphone rates, but when it came time to support it, where were the comments of the NDP in that regard?
    When I stood and posed a question, one NDP member's response was that their job was not to compliment the government. I can assure that member and other members from the New Democratic Party, almost without exception, that they are very good at not recognizing good things that take place. There are a lot of wonderful policy ideas this government has put in budget initiatives that New Democrats continuously vote against. They talk about—

  (1655)  

    You do not implement them. Where is the pharmacare? Where is the affordable housing? Where is anything?
    Order. I want to remind the member for New Westminster—Burnaby that he will definitely have an opportunity to ask questions or comment. He does not have to put out a fire anywhere. I would ask him not to yell and to hold onto his thoughts so that he does not forget them when it is time for questions and comments.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, this is another initiative that my New Democratic friends decided to vote against. In our very first budget in 2016, $500 million were committed to expanding Internet access. It was supposed to be completed by 2021. The NDP voted against that. Those dollars are connecting well over 500 communities in all areas of Canada, yet they voted against that initiative.
    On the one hand, the New Democrats say they want to reduce it by $10 whereas in many areas our government reduced it by $60 for thousands of families. They talk about wanting to see more expansion into rural communities, yet they voted against a budget that would allow that expansion to take place.
    I would challenge my New Democratic friends to review some of their comments on the record, even the member who spoke just before me.
    In response to a question, the member said that providers did nothing for indigenous communities. A few months ago Bell Let’s Talk donated $100,000 to the Bear Clan in the north end of Winnipeg. For those who are not familiar with the Bear Clan, it is a fantastic organization that has developed into an extended family. It gets residents in the north end of Winnipeg off the streets, residents who are some of the most challenging, some who are addicted to crack. The Bear Clan gets these individuals engaged so they can become part of a broader family. Bell Let's Talk recognized the value of this organization.
    The Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre is an outstanding organization, a world-class organization, that reaches into not only the community of north Winnipeg, but into many different areas. It is is making a real difference in our indigenous community and beyond. Substantial dollars flowed to that organization.
    The NDP is so preoccupied in trying to come across as the champions of some cause that it will throw anything and everyone under the bus.
    I would agree that there are things the government can and should do to ensure there is healthy competition, that we do what we can to ensure, through that competition, we have reasonable cell and Internet access in Canada. That is critically important.
    We need to recognize that Canadian wireless subscribers today enjoy the fastest average mobile download connection fees among all G7 countries, plus Australia, with twice the average download speed of the United States. This is the state of mobile network experience based on May 2019. Canadian wireless networks are now the second fastest in the world, 152% faster than the global average.
    I am not here to defend the providers as much as I am to challenge the NDP to recognize that not all providers are bad people.
    I cannot recall if I met with the organizations. I suspect the NDP might want to do a freedom of information request just to find out how many times I might have. In the last number of years, I might have met once or twice for a five or 10 minute exchange. I do not have lobbyists breaking down my door. Who own these companies? Chances are they are union members and pensioners. These are larger corporations.

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    I made reference to Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata. Unifor teamed up with Bell on one occasion to provide over $100,000, recognizing it could work with providers.
    We could have debated many things today. I am surprised the NDP chose this topic. I would have thought the New Democrats might have wanted to talk about the national pharmacare program. In the last couple of years, they have finally come on board, raising that issue after we put things in place that could lead to a national pharmacare program.
    If the NDP members were true to their colours and were social democrats who were trying to see social improvement on a bigger scale, I would have thought that would have been more important. After all, this is their last opposition day between now and the next election. Instead, they have taken a consumer idea on cellphones. After all, we all have cellular telephones, so no doubt it is very popular to say let us reduce cellphone rates. This government has done that for thousands of people, far more than what the New Democrats are suggesting today. We did that a couple of years ago.
    Mr. Ken McDonald: They voted against it.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: As my colleague from Avalon reminded me, the New Democrats voted against that.
    When we look at connecting for families, the government announced that initiative in 2017 as part of innovations and skills. That helped bridge the digital divide for Canadian families that might have struggled to afford access to home Internet. Again, 14 Internet providers are voluntarily participating in the initiative by offering Internet service for $10 per month to eligible families that currently receive the maximum Canada child benefit. The program is being rolled out and close to 20,000 families are benefiting from the $10 a month Internet service. I believe well over 20,000 computers were ordered through the computers for school program.
    I made reference at the beginning of my speech to MTS and when it was privatized in the province of Manitoba. One of the initiatives that this government authorized Innovation, Science and Economic Development in May 2016, through a GIC, denied Bell's petition to overturn the CRTC's decision to extend wholesale regulation to fibre home Internet services. This decision supported increased retail competition for higher speed Internet services. Average broadband and Internet prices offered by smaller service providers relying on wholesale regulations are up to 35% lower than those of the larger companies.
    I think of the Innovation, Science and Economic Development fund. This affects the province of Manitoba, where the ISCD approved the transfer of the MTS spectrum licences to Bell and Xplornet Communications Inc. As part of the deal, Bell committed to spending $1 billion over the next five years to expand wire and wireless broadband networks to Manitoba. The deal also allowed Xplornet to expand into the mobile wireless market for the very first time.
     That is a significant commitment. That commitment will see many communities having enhanced service for Internet. That is an initiative by working with MTS and Bell Canada, along with listening to other stakeholders. Manitobans will be better as a direct result of that.