Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 185 and 189.
Question No. 185--Mr. Chris Warkentin
With regard to the Canadian seal hunt and sealing industry: (a) is the government involved in any programs or initiatives to combat the international misinformation campaigns against the hunt and, if so, (i) what are the details of any such programs or initiatives, (ii) what government departments are involved, (iii) what was the start date of each such involvement, (iv) what was the reason for termination and the end date of any such program or initiative that is not ongoing, (v) how much did the government spend on each such program or initiative, broken down by year and total amount spent to date; and (b) does the government have plans for any further involvement in such programs or initiatives?Mr. Serge Cormier (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, while the department does not have dedicated programming to specifically combat misinformation, it does undertake efforts to dispel myths and misinformation through three key areas.
In response to part (a)(i), first, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s website includes a dedicated page to Canada’s seal harvest. This page provides information on how the seal hunt is managed to be safe, sustainable, and humane. It also contains information on how the seal harvest is tightly regulated, closely monitored, and strictly enforced. Additionally, DFO responds to media requests on the seal harvest on a regular basis. All of this information contributes to combating misinformation about Canada's seal harvest.
DFO responds to media requests on the seal harvest on a regular basis. All of this information contributes to combatting misinformation about Canada’s seal harvest.
DFO also operates the certification and market access program for seals, CMAPS, which is intended to support efforts to establish tracking systems to certify indigenous seal products for export to the European Union, EU; build the capacity of indigenous communities to improve exporter readiness; and support the Canadian seal products industry’s efforts to change the narrative on seal products and enable access to alternative markets to become more competitive over the long term. As such, the development of strategies and social media to address misinformation about the Canadian seal harvest is eligible for support under the CMAPS.
Regarding parts (a)(ii) and (a)(iii), CMAPS is a five-year, $5.7 million program that was established in 2015 that is shared with the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
The CMAPS was officially approved in July 2015 and is set to expire at the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
The answer to part (a)(iv) of the question is nil.
Regarding part (a)(v), in 2015-16, the CMAPS provided $183,350 in funding to Canadian seal products stakeholders for projects that include capacity building for Inuit communities and women in Nunavut and the development of a long-term strategy, which has communications to change the narrative around seal products and countering misinformation as one of its goals.
In response to part (b), a 2016-17 call for proposals is currently under way and DFO has yet to officially receive additional proposals at this time.
Question No. 189--Mr. David Sweet
With regard to changes to government advertising policies, and as of April 22, 2016, what are the details of any changes made during the prior six-month period?Hon. Scott Brison (President of the Treasury Board, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, the previous communications policy of the Government of Canada, which included policy requirements related to Government of Canada advertising, did not change during the six-month period up to and including April 22, 2016.
On May 12, 2016, the new policy on communications and federal identity and the directive on the management of communications came into effect. The new policy instruments include a number of new policy requirements related to advertising including a definition of “non-partisan communications” for all government communications. Furthermore, the policy now prohibits government programs and initiatives that require parliamentary approval from being advertised until approval has been received. The policy also states that no advertising activities can take place 90 days before a fixed general federal election date.
All federal government advertising with a budget greater than $500,000 is subject to a mandatory external review by Advertising Standards Canada, which will conduct a thorough assessment of proposed advertisements in line with the new policy and its definition of “non-partisan”. These reviews will be published online.
Advertising Standards Canada will ensure that advertisements are objective, factual, and explanatory; free from political party slogans, images, identifiers, bias, designation, or affiliation; not using the primary colour associated with the governing party in a dominant way, unless an item is commonly depicted in that colour; devoid of any name, voice, or image of a minister, member of Parliament, or senator; and initiatives that require parliamentary approval or trade agreements that require ratification are not advertised until such approval has been received.
The government has asked the Office of the Auditor General to conduct an audit of this review mechanism and his office will determine its scope and timing.
Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 186 to 188 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Question No. 186--Ms. Sheila Malcolmson
With regard to the strategy to deal with abandoned and derelict vessels by Transport Canada: (a) how many abandoned and derelict vessels are there in Canada; (b) for each of the vessels identified in (a), (i) what are their locations, (ii) how long have they been considered abandoned and derelict, (iii) what are the removal plans for each vessel, (iv) in which state of removal are each of the vessels, including but not limited to, assessing, removing or disposing, (v) what are the cost estimates for removal, (vi) what are the assessments on options available for carrying out the physical removal of the vessels, (vii) have the owners been identified, (viii) what has prevented the government from identifying the vessel owners, (ix) are they registered or licensed, and have the registrations or licenses been cancelled or suspended at any point, (x) are they a threat to navigation or to the marine environment; (c) how many abandoned and derelict vessels in Canada are 300 Gross Tons (GT) and over; (d) what would be the total estimated cost for the removal of all vessels in the derelict vessel inventory; (e) how many marine casualties have involved vessels that became shipwrecks in Canada’s internal waters and territorial sea, broken down by year for each of the past ten years; (f) how many accidents and maritime casualties are caused by abandoned and derelict vessels, broken down by year for each of the past ten years; (g) what are the risk factors that could lead to a vessel becoming a shipwreck and how is Transport Canada preventing those risk factors; (h) how many “responds to incidents” did the Canadian Coast Guard complete on abandoned and derelict vessels, broken down by year for each of the past ten years, and for each of these incidents please indicate (i) the date, time, and location of the incident, (ii) a description of the incident, (iii) the names of the vessels involved, (iv) the actions that were taken, if any, with regard to the abandoned vessel, (v) the current status of the abandoned vessel, boat or wreck and whether or not the abandoned boat, wreck, or vessel were decommissioned or disposed of, (vi) the plans to decommission or dispose of the vessel, if any exist; (i) what are the reasons for which vessels in Canadian waters would either be unregistered or unlicensed, or for which the registration or license has been cancelled or suspended; (j) for the vessels identified in (a), how many of these vessels then continue to float at anchor or tied to a dock; (k) how many lawsuits have involved the owner of the vessel and have had the aim of recovering the money to cover the cost of removal for abandoned and derelict vessels; (l) what has the government’s strategy been to date and what are the next steps for dealing with abandoned and derelict vessels, including (i) objectives, (ii) government departments and agencies involved in the strategy, (iii) other stakeholders; (m) what consultations has the government conducted and what are the next steps for future consultations with regard to abandoned and derelict vessels, broken down by (i) date and time, (ii) federal government participants, (iii) other participants, (iv) goal of the consultations, (v) method of inviting participants, (vi) length of time given for participation in the consultations; (n) has the government consulted with (i) municipalities, (ii) provinces and territories, (iii) First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, (iv) representatives of Canadian ship owners, (v) maritime lawyers, vi) marine underwriters, (vii) shoreline property owners, (viii) the shellfish industry, (ix) the fishing industry, (x) the lobster industry, (xi) the tourism industry, (xii) First Nations and Indigenous People, (xiii) the Canadian Maritime Advisory; (o) if the answer to (n) is in the affirmative, what are the names of each person consulted; (p) has Transport Canada held any conversations with the Coast Guard regarding the possibility of making the Coast Guard responsible for abandoned and derelict vessels in Canadian water; (q) which options are examined by Transport Canada to address the issue of abandoned vessels and wrecks; (r) what did the department recommend with regard to Canadian membership to the International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks (IWR); (s) if the answer to (r) is in the affirmative, when did Transport Canada first make this recommendation; (t) does the strategy propose a manner in which to deal with the wrecks that were in existence prior to its coming into force; (u) how does Transport Canada plan to deal with existing abandoned and derelict vessels; (v) how would the IWR Convention address several of the limitations inherent in Canada’s current legislative framework; (w) has there been any consideration as to the use the IWR Convention as the centrepiece for a new legislative regime; and (x) has the government considered regulatory frameworks from other jurisdictions, and if so, which ones?
(Return tabled)Question No. 187--Mr. David Sweet
With regard to the Prime Minister’s Office, ministerial exempt staff, and Ministers, for the period of November 4, 2015, to April 22, 2016, what is the total amount incurred for airline change fees, as well as the details of each change fee incurred including the date, amount, and reason for change?
(Return tabled)Question No. 188--Mr. David Sweet
With regard to the renting of venues or properties for executive retreats or meetings outside of a government department, agency, or Crown corporation’s own offices, for all government departments, agencies and Crown corporations, and for the period of November 4, 2015, to April 22, 2016: (a) what was the total cost of the rental of these venues, broken down by department, agency, and Crown corporation; (b) how many times were venues or properties contracted for or rented, broken down by department, agency and Crown corporation; and (c) in each case, (i) what was the name and location of the venue or property, (ii) what was the purpose of the venue or property rental, (iii) how many people attended the retreat or meeting, (iv) what was the overall cost of the rental of the venue?
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker, members of the House, members of the Senate, distinguished guests, and people of Canada, thank you for this extraordinary welcome, which tempts me to just shut up and leave because it can't get any better than this.
Obviously, I am grateful for the warm welcome. I am extraordinarily grateful for the close working relationship and friendship with your outstanding Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and his extraordinary wife, Sophie.
I think it is fair to say that much of this greeting is simply a reflection of the extraordinary alliance and deep friendship between Canadians and Americans.
Justin, thank you for your very kind words, and for the new energy and hope that your leadership has brought to your nation as well as to the alliance. My time in office may be nearing an end, but I know that Canada and the world will benefit from your leadership for years to come.
Canada was the very first country that I visited as President. It was in February. It was colder. I was younger. Michelle now refers to my hair as “the great white north”. On that visit I strolled around the ByWard Market—I tried a BeaverTail, which is better than it sounds—and I was struck then as I am again today by the warmth of Canadians.
I could not be more honoured to be joining you in this historic hall, this cathedral of freedom. We Americans can never say it enough: we could not ask for a better friend or ally than Canada. We could not. It is true, and we do not take it for granted. But that does not mean we do not have our differences.
As I understand it, one of the reasons the Queen chose this site for Parliament was that it was a safe distance from America's border, and I admit that in the War of 1812, American troops did some damage to Toronto. I suspect there were some people up here who did not mind when the British returned the favour and burned down the White House.
In more recent times, however, the only forces crossing our borders are the armies of tourists and business people and families who are shopping and doing business and visiting loved ones. Our only battles take place on the hockey rink. Even there, there is an uneasy peace that is maintained. As Americans we, too, celebrate the life of Mr. Hockey himself, the late, great Gordie Howe, just as Canadians can salute American teams for winning more Stanley Cups in the NHL.
I told you I should have stopped after the applause.
In a world where too many borders are a source of conflict, our two countries are joined by the longest border of peace on earth. What makes our relationship so unique is not just proximity; it is our enduring commitment to a set of values, a spirit alluded to by , that says that no matter who we are, where we come from, what our last names are, what faith we practise, here we can make of our lives what we will.
It was the grit of pioneers and prospectors who pushed west to cross a forbidding frontier, the dreams of generations—immigrants, refugees—who were welcomed to these shores, the hope of runaway slaves who went north on an underground railroad. “Deep in our history of struggle”, said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Canada was the north star.... The freedom road links us together.”
We are bound, as well, by the service of those who defended us at Flanders Fields, on the beaches of Normandy, in the skies of the Balkans, and more recently, in the mountains of Afghanistan and training bases in Iraq. Their sacrifice is reflected in the silent rows of Arlington and in the Peace Tower above us. Today we honour those who gave their lives for all of us.
We are linked together, as well, by the institutions we have built to keep the peace: the United Nations to advance our collective aspirations; a NATO alliance to ensure our security; NORAD, where Americans and Canadians stand watch side by side, and track Santa on Christmas Eve.
We are linked by a vast web of commerce that carries goods from one end of this continent to another. We are linked by the ties of friendship and family, in my case an outstanding brother-in-law from Burlington. I had to give Burlington a shout-out.
Our relationship is so remarkable precisely because it seems so unremarkable, which is why Americans often are surprised when our favourite American actor or singer turns out to be Canadian.
The point is, we see ourselves in each other, and our lives are richer for it. As President, I have deepened the ties between our countries, and because of the progress we have made in recent years, I can stand before you and say that the enduring partnership between Canada and the United States is as strong as it has ever been, and we are more closely aligned than ever before.
Yet we meet at a pivotal moment for our nations and for the globe. From this vibrant capital we can look upon a world that has benefited enormously from the international order that we helped build together, but we can see that same order increasingly strained by the accelerating forces of change.
The world is, by almost every measure, less violent than ever before, but it remains riven by old divisions and fresh hatreds. The world is more connected than ever before, but even as it spreads knowledge and the possibility of greater understanding between peoples, it also empowers terrorists who spread hatred and death, most recently in Orlando and Istanbul.
The world is more prosperous than ever before, but alongside globalization and technological wonders, we also see a rise in inequality and wage stagnation across the advanced economies, leaving too many workers and communities fearful of diminishing prospects, not just for themselves, but more importantly for their children. In the face of such rising uncertainty, it is not enough to look at aggregate growth rates, or stock prices, or the pace of digital innovation.
If the benefits of globalization accrue only to those at the very top, if our democracies seem incapable of assuring broad-based growth and opportunity for everyone, then people will push back out of anger or out of fear, and politicians, some sincere and some entirely cynical, will tap that anger and fear, harkening back to bygone days of order, predictability, and national glory, arguing that we must rebuild walls and disengage from a chaotic world or rid ourselves of the supposed ills brought on by immigrants, all in order to regain control of our lives.
We saw some of these currents at work this past week in the United Kingdom's referendum to leave the European Union. Despite some of the initial reactions, I am confident that the process can be managed in a prudent, orderly way. I expect that our friends on both sides of the Channel will develop a workable plan for how to move forward, and I am equally confident that the transatlantic values that we all share as liberal market-based democracies are deeper and stronger than any single event. While the circumstances of Brexit may be unique to the United Kingdom, the frustrations people felt are not.
The short-term fallout of Brexit can be sensibly managed, but the long-term trends of inequality, dislocation, and the resulting social division, those cannot be ignored. How we respond to the forces of globalization and technological change will determine the durability of an international order that ensures security and prosperity for future generations. Fortunately, the partnership between the United States and Canada shows the path we need to travel, for our history and our work together speak to a common set of values to build on, proven values, values that the spoke of in his introduction, values of pluralism and tolerance, rule of law, openness, global engagement in commerce and co-operation, coupled with equal opportunity and an investment in our people at home.
As Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said, “A country, after all, is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids, and then leave standing there to defy eternity. A country is something that is built every day out of certain basic shared values”. What is true of countries is true of the world, and that is what I want to talk about today: how to strengthen our institutions to advance these commitments in a rapidly changing world.
Let me start with our shared economic vision. In all we do, our commitment to opportunity for all of our people has to be the centrepiece of our work. We are so fortunate because both of our countries are so well positioned to succeed in the 21st century. Our two nations know first-hand the awesome power of free markets and innovation. Canadians help run some of Silicon Valley's most innovative companies. Our students study at each other's world-class universities. We invest in research and development, and make decisions based on science and evidence. And it works. It is what has created these extraordinary economies of ours.
If the financial crisis and recent recession taught us anything, it is that economies do better when everyone has a chance to succeed. For a long time it was thought that countries had to choose between economic growth or economic inclusion, but it turns out that is a false choice. If a CEO makes more in a day than a typical employee makes in a year, that kind of inequality is not just bad for morale in the company, it turns out it is bad for the economy. That worker is not a very good customer for business.
If a young man in Ohio cannot pay his student loans, or a young woman in Ontario cannot pay her bills, that has ramifications for our economy. It tamps down the possibilities of growth. We need growth that is broad and lifts everybody up, including tax policies that do right by working families, and robust safety nets for those who fall on hard times.
As John Kenneth Galbraith once said, the common denominator of progress is our people. It is not numbers, it is not abstractions; it is how our people are doing.
Of course many who share this progressive, inclusive vision can be heard now arguing that investments in our people, protections for our workers, fair tax policies, these things are not enough. For them, globalization is inherently rigged towards the top 1%, and therefore what is needed is an end to trade agreements and various international institutions and arrangements that integrate national economies.
I understand that vision. I know why it is tempting. It seems that if we draw a line around our borders it will give us more control, particularly when the benefits of trade and economic integration are sometimes hard to see, or easy to take for granted, and very specific dislocations are obvious and real.
There is just one problem. Restricting trade or giving in to protectionism in this 21st century economy will not work. It will not work. Even if we want to, we cannot seal ourselves off from the rest of the world. The day after Brexit people looked around and said, “Oh, how is this going to work?”
The drag that economic weakness in Europe and China and in other countries is having on our own economies right now speaks to the degree to which we depend, our economies depend, and our jobs and our businesses depend on selling goods and services around the world.
Very few of our domestic industries can sever what is now truly a global supply chain. For those of us who truly believe that our economies have to work for everybody, the answer is not to try to pull back from our interconnected world; it is rather to engage with the rest of the world, to shape the rules so they are good for our workers and good for our businesses.
The experience between our two nations points the way. The United States and Canada have the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world, and we are stronger for it. It means a company in Quebec can create jobs in North Carolina, and a start-up in Toronto can attract investment from Texas.
The problem is that some economies in many of the fastest-growing regions of the world, particularly the Asia-Pacific region, do not always abide by the same rules. They impose unfair tariffs, or they suppress workers' rights, or they maintain low environmental standards that make it hard for our businesses to compete fairly.
With the trans-Pacific partnership, we have the ability to not only open up these markets to U.S. and Canadian products and to eliminate thousands of these unfair tariffs—which, by the way, we need to do, because they are already selling here under existing rules, but we are not selling as much as we should over there—but also to afford us the opportunity to increase protections for workers and the environment and to promote human rights, including with strong prohibitions against human trafficking and child labour.
In that way, our workers are competing on a level playing field, and our businesses are less prone to pursue a race to the bottom. When combined with increased investments in our own people's education, and skills and training, and infrastructure, and research and development, and connectivity, we can spur the kind of sustained growth that makes all of us better off, all of us.
The point is, we need to look forward, not look backward. More trade and more people-to-people ties can also help break down old divides.
I thank Canada for its indispensable role in hosting our negotiations with the Cuban government and for supporting our efforts to set aside half a century of failed policies to begin a new chapter with the Cuban people.
I know a lot of Canadians like going to Cuba, maybe because they have not had Americans crowding the streets and the beaches, but that is changing. As more Americans engage with the Cuban people, it will mean more economic opportunity and more hope for ordinary Cubans.
We also agree, as Americans and Canadians, that wealthy countries like ours cannot reach our full potential while others remain mired in poverty. That, too, is not going to change in this interconnected world. If there is poverty and disease and conflict in other parts of the world, it spills over, as much as we would like to pretend that we can block it out.
With our commitment to new sustainable development goals, we have the chance to end the outrage of extreme poverty. We can bring more electricity to Africa so that students can study at night and businesses can stay open. We can banish the scourge of malaria and Zika. We can realize our goal of the first AIDS-free generation. We can do that. It is within our grasp. We can help those who are working to replace corruption with transparent, accountable institutions that serve their people.
As leaders in global development, the United States and Canada understand that development is not charity. It is an investment in our future prosperity, because not only do such investments and policies help poor countries, they are going to create billions of customers for U.S. and Canadian products, and they will make less likely the spread of deadly epidemics to our shores and will stabilize parts of the world that threaten the security of our people.
In fact, both the United States and Canada believe our own security, and not just prosperity, is enhanced when we stand up for the rights of all nations and peoples to live in security and peace. Even as there are times when unilateral action is necessary to defend our people, we believe that, in a world where wars between great powers are far less likely but transnational threats like terrorism know no boundaries, our security is best advanced when nations work together.
We believe that disputes that do arise between nations should be, wherever possible, resolved peacefully with diplomacy, that international organizations should be supported, that multilateralism is not a dirty word, and certainly we are more secure when we stand united against terrorist networks and ideologies that have reached the very doorstep of this hall. We honour all those taken from us by violent extremists, including Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall.
With Canada's additional contributions, including training Iraqi forces, our coalition is on the offensive across Iraq, across Syria, and we will destroy the terrorist group ISIL. We will destroy it. We will continue helping local forces and sharing intelligence from Afghanistan to the Philippines so that we are pushing back comprehensively against terrorist networks. In contrast to the hatred and the nihilism of terrorists, we will work with partners around the world, including, particularly, Muslim communities, to offer a better vision and a path of development, opportunity, and tolerance, because they are and must be our partners in this effort.
Meanwhile, when nations violate international rules and norms, such as Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the United States and Canada stand united, along with our allies, in defence of our collective security. Doing so requires a range of tools, like economic sanctions, but it also requires that we keep our forces ready for 21st century missions and invest in new capabilities.
As your ally and as your friend, let me say that we will be more secure when every NATO member, including Canada, contributes its full share to our common security, because the Canadian Armed Forces are really good and if I can borrow a phrase, the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. We need you.
Just as we join together in our common defence, so must we work together diplomatically, particularly to avert war. Diplomacy results are rarely quick, but it turns out even the most intractable conflicts can be resolved. Here in our own hemisphere, just in the last few weeks, after half a century of war, Colombia is poised to achieve a historic peace. The nations of North America will be an important partner to Colombia going forward, including working to remove land mines.
Around the world, Canadian and American diplomats working together can make a difference. Even in Syria, where the agony and the suffering of the Syrian people tear at our hearts, our two nations continue to be leaders in humanitarian aid for the Syrian people. Although a true resolution of this conflict so far has eluded us, we know that the only solution to this civil war is a political solution so that the Syrian people can reclaim their country and live in peace, and Canadians and Americans are going to work as hard as we can to make that happen. I should add that here in the nation of Lester Pearson, we reaffirm our commitment to keep strengthening the peacekeeping that saves lives around the world.
There is one threat, however, that we cannot solve militarily, nor can we solve it alone, and that is the threat of climate change. Climate change is no longer an abstraction. It is not an issue we can put off for the future. It is happening now. It is happening here in our own countries.
The United States and Canada are both Arctic nations and last year when I became the first U.S. President to visit the Arctic, I could see the effects myself. Glaciers, like Canada's Athabasca Glacier, are melting at alarming rates. Tundra is burning. Permafrost is thawing. This is not a conspiracy. It is happening. Within a generation, Arctic sea ice may all but disappear in the summer.
Skeptics and cynics can insist on denying what is right in front of our eyes, but the Alaskan natives whom I met, whose ancestral villages are sliding into the sea, do not have that luxury. They know climate change is real. They know it is not a hoax. From Bangladesh to the Pacific Islands, rising seas are swallowing land and forcing people from their homes. Around the world stronger storms and more intense droughts will create humanitarian crises and risk more conflict. This is not just a moral issue, and it is not just an economic issue, it is also an urgent matter of our national security.
For too long we have heard that confronting climate change means destroying our own economies. Let me just say that carbon emissions in the United States are back to where they were two decades ago, even as we have grown our economy dramatically over the same period. Alberta, the oil country of Canada, is working hard to reduce emissions while still promoting growth. If Canada can do it, and the United States can do it, the whole world can unleash economic growth and protect our planet. We can do this. We can do it. We can help lead the world to meet this threat.
Already, together in Paris, we achieved the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change. Now let us bring it into force this year. With our agreement with Mexico that we announced today, let us generate half the electricity on this continent from clean energy sources within a decade. That is achievable. Let us partner in the Arctic to help give its people the opportunity they deserve, while conserving the only home they know. Building on the idea that began in Montreal three decades ago, let us finally phase down dangerous HFC greenhouse gases.
This is the only planet we have and this may be the last shot we have to save it, and America and Canada are going to need to lead the way. We are going to have to lead the way.
Just as we are joined in our commitment to protecting the planet, we are also joined in our commitment to the dignity of every human being. We believe in the right of all people to participate in society. We believe in the right of all people to be treated equally, to have an equal shot at success. That is in our DNA; it is the basic premise of our democracies.
I think we can all agree that our democracies are far from perfect. They can be messy, and they can be slow. They can leave all sides of a debate unsatisfied.
is just getting started. In case you had not figured that out, it is where this grey hair comes from.
More than any other system of government, democracy allows our most precious rights to find their fullest expression, enabling us, through the hard, painstaking work of citizenship, to continually make our countries better, to solve new challenges, to right past wrongs. , what a powerful message of reconciliation it was, here and around the world, when your government pledged a new relationship with Canada's first nations.
Democracy is not easy. It is hard. Living up to our ideals can be difficult, even in the best of times, and it can be harder when the future seems uncertain or when, in response to legitimate fears and frustrations, there are those who offer a politics of us versus them, a politics that scapegoats others: the immigrant, the refugee, someone who seems different from us. We have to call this mentality what it is: a threat to the values we profess, the values we seek to defend.
It is because we respect all people that the world looks to us as an example.
The colours of the rainbow flag have flown on Parliament Hill. They have lit up the White House. That is a testament to our progress but also to the work that remains to ensure equality for our fellow citizens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
For our Muslim friends and neighbours, who run businesses and serve in our governments and in our armed forces, and are friends with our children, and play on our sports teams, we have to stand up against the slander and the hate levelled against those who look or worship differently. That is our obligation. That is who we are. That is what makes America special. That is what makes Canada special.
Here in Canada, a woman has already risen to the highest office in the land. In America, for the first time, a woman is the presumptive nominee of a major party, and perhaps, President. I have a bias on these issues, but our work will not be finished until all women in our countries are truly equal, paid equally, treated equally, given the same opportunities as men, when our girls have the same opportunities as our boys. That is who we need to be.
Let me say this, because I do not feel particularly politically correct on this issue, I do not believe that these are American values or Canadian values or western values. I believe and Justin believes, and I hope all of you believe, these are universal values. We must be bold in their defence at home and around the world and not shy away from speaking up on behalf of these values of pluralism, tolerance, and equality.
I fear sometimes that we are timid in defence of these values. That is why we will continue to stand up for those inalienable rights here in our own hemisphere, in places like Cuba and Venezuela, but also in more distant lands, for the rights of citizens in civil society to speak their mind and work for change, for the rights of journalists to report the truth, for the rights of people of all faiths to practise their religions freely. Those things are hard, but they are right. They are not always convenient, but they are true.
In the end, it is this respect for the dignity of all people, especially the most vulnerable among us, that perhaps, more than anything else, binds our two countries together. Being Canadian and being American is not about what we look like or where our families came from. It is about our commitment to a common creed and that is why, together, we must not waver in embracing our values, our best selves, and that includes our history as a nation of immigrants. We must continue to welcome people from around the world.
The vibrancy of our economies is enhanced by the addition of new striving immigrants. This is not just a matter of economics. When refugees escape barrel bombs and torture, and migrants cross deserts and seas seeking a better life, we cannot simply look the other way. We certainly cannot label as possible terrorists vulnerable people who are fleeing terrorists.
We can insist that the process is orderly and we can insist that our security is preserved. Borders mean something, but at moments like this, we are called upon to see ourselves in others, because we were all once strangers. If you were not a stranger, your grandparents were strangers, your great-grandparents were strangers. They did not all have their papers ready. They fumbled with language, faced discrimination, had cultural norms that did not fit. At some point, somewhere, your family was an outsider. Therefore, the mothers, the fathers, the children we see today are us, and we cannot forsake them. As Americans and Canadians, we will continue to welcome refugees and we can ensure that we are doing so in a way that maintains our security. We can and we will do both.
We are increasing our support to Central America so that fewer families and children attempt the dangerous journey north. This fall, the United Nations will host a global summit on refugees, because, in the face of this crisis, more nations need to step up and meet our basic obligations to our fellow human beings. It will be difficult and budgets are tight. There are legitimate issues and not everybody is going to be helped, but we can try.
People of goodwill and compassion show us the way: Greek islanders pulling families to shore; Germans handing out sweets to migrants at railway stations; a synagogue in Virginia inviting Syrian refugees to dinner. Here in Canada the world has been inspired as Canadians across this country have opened up their hearts and their homes. We've watched citizens knitting toques to keep refugees warm in the winter, and we've seen your Prime Minister welcome new arrivals at the airport and extend the hand of friendship and say, “You're safe at home now”.
We see the refugees who feel that they have a special duty to give back, and seize the opportunity of a new life, such as the girl who fled Afghanistan by donkey and camel and jet plane, and who remembers being greeted in this country by helping hands and the sound of robins singing today, and who serves in this chamber and in the cabinet because Canada is her home.
A country is not something you build as the pharaohs built the pyramids; a country is something that is built every day out of certain basic, shared values. How true that is. How blessed we are to have had people before us, day by day, brick by brick, build these extraordinary countries of ours. How fortunate, how privileged we are to have the opportunity to now, ourselves, build this world anew. What a blessing.
As we go forward together on that freedom road, let us stay true to the values that make us who we are: Canadians and Americans, allies and friends, now and forever.
Thank you very much.