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43rd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 003

CONTENTS

Monday, December 9, 2019




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 149
NUMBER 003
1st SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, December 9, 2019

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


  (1105)  

[Translation]

Ways and Means

Notice of Motion 

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(1), I have the honour to table a notice of a ways and means motion to amend the Income Tax Act and associated regulations.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), I ask that an order of the day be designated for consideration of the motion.

Speech from the Throne

[The Address]

[Translation]

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply

     The House resumed from December 6 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
     That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, at the end of debate today on the sub-amendment to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, the question be deemed put and a recorded division be deemed requested and deferred to Tuesday, December 10, 2019, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.
    Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House for the first time.
    Before I get into what will be a list of people I want to thank, I would like to reflect for a moment on when my wife and I flew here for the first time after the election for one of the orientation days. Although I had been to this chamber and to the chamber in Centre Block many times, it was an incredible experience to walk onto the floor of this House, the very epicentre of Canadian democracy, to see that so clearly demonstrated through the traditions represented, the desks, the very carpet, and all that that means. It truly is a humbling experience, the burden that all 338 of us have as we sit here representing people from across this country.
    Danielle and I took a few moments and reflected on the significance of what that means in our nation's more than 150-year history. The phrase that kept coming to mind, which I repeated often throughout the election, was the short statement in section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, regarding the House of Commons and making laws “for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada”.
    Although it talks primarily about delegated authority, over these last seven to eight months I spent a lot of time campaigning and talking with Canadians, the people of Battle River—Crowfoot. I thought time and time again the prime reason we are here is to ensure that we have peace, order and good governance. Each and every one of us has that responsibility in representing our many constituents in the diverse regions that make up this country and that we all work toward that in the midst of what often will be differences, sometimes passionate differences, on policy items. As we work in a unique minority Parliament there has to be a level of working together to some degree, while we all strive for peace, order and good government.
    I would be remiss if I did not list a few of the people I wish to thank. I will get to the people of Battle River—Crowfoot in a minute, but I first I need to thank my family.
    My wife Danielle is an amazing life partner. I thank her for the support she has given over these last eight months in the adventure of a nomination campaign and now during the early months as a member of Parliament. I thank Danielle so much. I am also very proud of my two boys, Matthew and Emerson, who are excited that dad gets to now work in a castle. They are a little young to understand the dynamics of it, but they like the fact that I work in a castle.
    I thank my dad, siblings, aunts and uncles. When one comes from a farming family, one has a real understanding of the significance of what family is in a situation like this, and I thank my family.
     I want to especially mention my late grandfathers, Jim Hutchings and Felix Kurek, who, throughout their lives, were such an encouragement to me. They were both very different people, but they demonstrated so well what it is to be Canadian and all that it represents. My grandfather Felix had a career in the energy industry. My grandfather Jim was a career farmer and demonstrated well what it is to be Canadian.
    I thank my campaign team. By the end of the campaign, we had more than 200 people who participated in the nomination and election campaigns. It was incredible to have all of these people involved in the democratic process, and I thank my campaign team.

  (1110)  

    I would also like to thank my office staff, some of whom I have worked with before and some of whom are new, for their hard work, support and effort, especially over these last weeks as I have been learning the ropes as a member of Parliament.
    I want to also thank my predecessor Kevin Sorenson. Kevin demonstrated well what it is to be a strong representative with a principled voice for east central Alberta. He is a principled, good guy. I appreciate Kevin's friendship and his mentorship. I am glad that he is still quick to offer me advice, even though I am now the one sitting in the chamber and he is farming and taking some well-deserved rest.
    I want to talk about the people of Battle River—Crowfoot, and my response to the throne speech and the amendment that our Conservative caucus has brought forward. They go hand in hand.
    I am a fifth-generation farmer from the constituency of Battle River—Crowfoot. Over the last seven or eight months I have spoken to over 10,000 people who are faced with the reality of the country in which we live. I need to first thank them for the honour of representing them with a strong mandate in this House. I will be their voice in Parliament, making sure that the concerns, the issues and all that makes up Battle River—Crowfoot, that 52,000 square kilometres of east central Alberta, get represented in our capital. I take that seriously. I thank them again for this honour.
    As I have travelled over these last eight months, and as I have continued connecting with the people in Battle River—Crowfoot since the election, I have heard a consistent message. They are frustrated and they are not content with our country's status. As a proud Canadian, that is difficult to hear.
    We have heard a number of speeches from some of my colleagues that have touched on this, but the level of alienation that we are hearing about is real. I would urge members opposite to take seriously the fact that there are lifelong proud Canadians who feel their country is not serving them. That is a problem and something that needs to be acknowledged. Unfortunately, it was not acknowledged in the throne speech.
    I have spoken with energy workers, people who have made a career in the oil and gas sector, who have given up hope. These people are proud of the work they do, including the world-class environmental standards that they work hard to preserve each and every day. They were not recognized. They need champions, yet unfortunately, the throne speech does not even acknowledge them.
    I have spoken with the agricultural industry. As a fifth-generation farmer, I am proud of that legacy. Farmers are stewards of the land in Alberta's special areas, yet producers have faced devastating consequences. Let me outline what that might look like for a producer, a farmer. Farmers are facing a drop in the price of canola from $13 a bushel to $9 a bushel. That has a devastating impact on a farmer's bottom line in an industry that already has very slim margins. We did not see those issues addressed in the throne speech. However, the government seems to brag about its relationship on the international stage when it is literally being laughed at on late night television.
     I talked to other business owners and people within my constituency. They are all so close to giving up hope. That is devastating for a proud Canadian, whether it be workers in manufacturing, or whether it be those teachers, nurses, doctors in our small communities. If they do not have strong communities, those institutions cannot thrive.
    My speaking time is nearly done and I look forward to answering questions. I would simply conclude by saying once again that I am so honoured to be the member of Parliament for Battle River—Crowfoot. I thank God for this country. It is such an honour to be able to participate in this democratic process and all that it means for the future of Battle River—Crowfoot and this nation.

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Battle River—Crowfoot and welcome him to the House.
    I heard him speak about energy workers, and certainly in my riding of Burnaby North—Seymour, I have talked about the plight of energy workers in Alberta. In fact, since my riding is at the end of the Trans Mountain pipeline that is starting construction, we can hear the pile-driving happening from my house. It is happening right now.
     We have had over 500 days of protest in my riding over the last four years that I have been a member of Parliament. Now that TMX is under construction, will the member support meeting our climate change targets and support the other underlying issues that my constituents are concerned about? Will he support the oceans protection plan and support making sure we have a world-class oil spill response?
    Most importantly, will the member support the residents of Burnaby Mountain, which is getting an expanded tank farm 600 metres from an elementary school, next to tens of thousands of students at SFU and a growing community at university?
    As well, will the member support the Burnaby firefighters to make sure that the investments are made so that we have world-class facilities to keep those people safe?
    Mr. Speaker, I look forward to being able to answer the question, but I would premise it by saying this: I have constituents who are developing world-class spill response technology, yet they can't even get a meeting with the minister from the other side.
     The Liberals talk about wanting to care about the environment when we have an energy industries and energy investment fleeing this country each and every day. Canada is a world leader in sustainable, environmentally friendly energy production. I see it every day. The people within my constituency are proud that they are on the cutting edge of that, yet the government has all but abandoned them.
    I hope that pipeline gets built. Its terminus, I understand, is in the constituency of the member who asked the question. However, it needs to be understood that this pipeline is among the others that the Liberals have either abandoned or cancelled, or whatever the case may be. We even saw this morning an announcement that more energy investment, at first slated for Canada, is being used in the Gulf of Mexico. That is an abandonment of Canadian energy.
    We need to make sure that we support the world-class industry that we have here in this country, including the environmental industry. I hope that pipeline gets built, but quite frankly, with the record of the members opposite, until oil starts flowing through it, I do not believe it for a second.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is talking about the problems farmers are having, such as poor harvests and falling prices. Our regions are experiencing these problems mainly because of the rather early snow this year. The first snowfall was about three weeks earlier than usual, which may be attributable to climate change.
    Can my colleague recognize that an increase in the production of oil leads to an increase in greenhouse gases, which contributes to climate change? Can he admit that his party's demands, which involve giving priority to both oil transportation and production and to farmers, may be contradictory?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I look forward to being able to answer the question. In the member's constituency there are producers who are facing unpredictable weather patterns and whatnot that are affecting their yields, and the case is the same in many places across the country. We need to make sure that there are strong supports for our agricultural sectors.
    Let me take a moment to describe how producers in this country are on the cutting edge of making sure that we have the most sustainable crop production in the world. That includes things like zero-till technology and genetics research that will ensure that our crops can grow in a variety of climates.
    We are a country filled with innovators. Instead of being like, I think, all the other parties in this House, which support a carbon tax that punishes Canadians, let us support innovations that empower Canadians to find solutions that not only benefit us but truly change the world.
    I would encourage the member opposite to be a part of literally helping to change the world and finding solutions that make a difference here in our country and around the world that will have a real environmental impact.

  (1120)  

    Before we go to the next presentation, I just want to compliment the hon. members for starting off well. I know that last week we had some questions that went a little long and I know that there is a lot to be said, but those who asked questions and those who answered stayed within about a minute and a half. It allows more people to get their questions and answers in, so I just want to start of with complimenting you for a good start.
    Now we will resume debate. The hon. member for Don Valley North.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Oakville North—Burlington.
    It is my pleasure to rise today to deliver my maiden speech in this hon. House as the member of Parliament for Don Valley North and to speak in support of the Speech from the Throne.
    I would like to begin by thanking the people of Don Valley North for placing their trust in me to be their voice in Ottawa. I am incredibly humbled by this great responsibility, and I will strive every day to ensure that the perspectives, concerns and diverse opinions and beliefs of my community are thoughtfully and comprehensively represented in this House.
    Throughout this fall's campaign, just like all of my hon. colleagues, I had the chance to speak to residents through the breadth and width of my riding about issues they cared most about, from traffic congestion and community safety to housing affordability and providing more support for our seniors.
    The residents of Don Valley North and Canadians from coast to coast to coast have made it very clear. They asked all of us in this House to work together to address the issues that matter most to them and their families, and they expect us to deliver results not soon, not down the road, but now. That is why I am proud of the ambitious agenda this government has presented to the House in the Speech from the Throne.
    This government has set forward a plan to address the most pressing issues faced by us as a society today. These include fighting climate change, strengthening the middle class, walking the road of reconciliation, keeping Canadians safe and healthy and positioning our country for success on the international stage. Canadians have chosen to keep our country moving forward, and that is exactly what this government's plan will do.
    While I stand in this House speaking of the mandate handed to us by the Canadian people, my mind turns immediately to an encounter I had on the campaign trail in Don Valley North. While knocking on doors on Van Horne Avenue, I met a young mother completing her final year of post-secondary studies. Although beaming with pride as she told me about her daughter and how much she has accomplished over the years in the face of adversity and challenges, I could see her eyes slowly begin to fill with tears. She told me about her anxieties with regard to the possibility of not being able to complete her studies because of recent cuts to the new OSAP funding by the current provincial government. She spoke about the skyrocketing costs of living and child care and her fears about the type of planet her children will inherit.
    It is encounters like this that have brought me to public life, and indeed to this House.
    My hon. colleagues will know that the fears and anxieties expressed by this young mother are not unique to my riding. Indeed, they are not unique to the people of Toronto, nor to Ontario, for that matter. They are concerns shared by many Canadians in every riding across this country.
    Therefore, as we debate this ambitious plan set forward by the government, which directly addresses the concerns, hopes and aspirations of Canadians from across our country, I ask this hon. House to think about the people who sent us here.
    As parliamentarians, we are presented with unique opportunities. We have been sent to Ottawa by our communities with the expectation that we will not only govern, but, more importantly, we will lead, and lead for them.
    Future generations of Canadians will judge us not on the words delivered in this House today or tomorrow, but on how we addressed the defining challenges facing our generation.
    As members of this hon. House, we have a clear mandate from the people, and that mandate demands action now.
    On climate change, Canadians have demanded that we take immediate action to tackle the crisis head-on. That is why our government is committed to protecting the environment by setting a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, putting a price on pollution everywhere, protecting and conserving nature and reducing plastic pollution.

  (1125)  

    To address affordability and strengthen our middle class, we are taking action to invest in affordable housing and make it easier for more people to achieve the goal of home ownership.
    We know that raising a family is expensive and saving for retirement is a challenge, and that is why we will make before-school and after-school programs and child care more affordable and accessible while also strengthening pensions for our seniors.
    To keep Canadians safe and healthy, our government is taking direct action to crack down on gun crime, banning military-style assault weapons and helping municipalities to ban handguns, should they choose to, while also ensuring that all Canadians have access to high-quality, affordable health care by working with the provinces, territories, professionals and academia to ensure all Canadians have access to a good primary care doctor.
    We know that as a government and as parliamentarians, we are not alone in taking leadership to provide a better future for Canadians. Across the country, countless community organizations are working tirelessly in helping Canadians who need and deserve our support.
    In my riding of Don Valley North, organizations like the Armenian Community Centre, the Iranian Women's Organization of Ontario, the Centre for Immigrant and Community Services, Working Women Community Centre, Toronto North Local Immigration Partnership and Flemingdon Health are offering crucial services to new Canadians.
    ACCES Employment, The Centre for Education and Training, and Springboard Employment Services are providing help to Canadians in search of employment and new skills.
    Willowdale Community Legal Services, Adventure Place, Community Information Fairview, North York Harvest Food Bank and religious and cultural organizations are providing professional and social services to our country.
     I am incredibly proud of the work those organizations and so many more in Don Valley North are doing. I am honoured to work alongside them as their member of Parliament to ensure all members of our community have an equal opportunity to succeed.
    Our constituents are looking to us to lead. They are looking to us to take decisive action to create a better Canada where everyone, regardless of race, religion, sex, age or country of origin, can and will succeed. I am proud to say that the ambitious plan put forward by this government does just that.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague across the aisle for his first speech.
    He called for decisive action, and it is important that we have decisive action, but I was disheartened by the throne speech because it was a lot of words salad without a lot of action.
    If we want to talk about climate change, it is clear that the current government's plan will not even meet its existing Paris targets, let alone the 2050 goals. We also know that the carbon tax is not an effective way of getting there. Europe has had one for 19 years and has only reduced its footprint by 8%.
    Knowing that the government declared a climate emergency in June and that by now it ought to have some idea of what specific actions it will take, I would like to hear what those are.

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that in our platform and again in the throne speech, we heard that this government is committed to making a better future for our next generation, planting more trees and reducing emissions. We are the only party that put forward a very decisive action plan during the campaign to meet the 2050 goal.
    We are on the right track, and I look across the floor for support from opposition parties. Together we can bring down emissions in this country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, since this is the first time I rise in the House of Commons, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of my constituents in Longueuil—Saint-Hubert for placing their trust in me. I hope that I will be able to live up to that trust in the coming years, the next one and a half or two and a half years, or the time that this parliament lasts.
    Oil is the elephant in the room when it comes to everything that has happened and the throne speech. The word “oil” is never mentioned in the throne speech.
    Over the past four years, the Liberal government invested $19 billion in various forms of assistance to the fossil fuel industry. Canada represents 0.5% of the world's population and produces 2% of the world's greenhouse gases.
    On September 27, 2019, 500,000 people took to the streets of Montreal to call on the government to take clear, decisive action on climate change. I was there.
    What practical measures does the Liberal government intend to take to deal with this issue in the coming years?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that bringing down emissions and having a good green energy sector is a good economic case. Our track record has demonstrated that we can make this work.
    Again, I look to those across the floor and to all parliamentarians. We need to stick together and implement actions right away to bring down emissions and improve our environment.
    Mr. Speaker, one thing we find very vague in the throne speech is around the strengthening of pensions and support for seniors. The member mentioned this twice in his speech, which I find very encouraging. However, last week, the Minister of Seniors stated in the House that increases in OAS payments would be for people aged 75 and over. What is the reasoning for eliminating increases for people aged between 65 and 74 who need them just as much as other Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, specifically, we have set out a plan to increase old age security for most Canadians in this country. Our government has also done quite a bit of work in the last four years to increase the GIS. Again, I look for support from all members when it comes to providing more help for seniors and making their living more affordable. We are on the right track to doing that.
    Mr. Speaker, since this is my first opportunity to speak in this 43rd Parliament, I would like to start by congratulating you on your election as Speaker.
    I would also like to thank the residents of Oakville North—Burlington for the confidence they have placed in me to represent them once again in this place. I would like to thank my son Fraser and his wife Taylor for their love and support, and my family, Jill, Rob and their son Bayley, as well as my incredible staff and campaign team, without whom I would not be here. I am incredibly proud of the work done over the last four years, and I am excited to continue that work in this new Parliament.
    During the campaign, I had many conversations with constituents about their expectations for this new Parliament. They, along with all Canadians, expect us to work together as parliamentarians to make sure that we build an economy that leaves no one behind, take decisive action on climate change, make life more affordable, continue down the road to reconciliation and ensure that the health and safety of Canadians remains our number one priority through action on gun control and universal national pharmacare. The throne speech affirmed our commitment to delivering on those priorities.
    The residents of Oakville North—Burlington are passionate about green space, the environment and fighting climate change. During the campaign, I met with the group Grandmothers Act to Save the Planet and others who want to see us take urgent action to save the planet. Two weeks ago, I attended a climate strike in Burlington organized by Caleb Smolenaars, a student in my riding.
    Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, which is why we are taking bold, decisive action. In my riding, we have made investments in Oakville Transit, Burlington Transit and GO Transit so that service can be improved and people can get home faster. We have also invested in the Crosstown Trail and other walking and cycling infrastructure. We are offering incentives to get more people to use zero-emission vehicles. I have long advocated for better cycling infrastructure. Cycling is the ultimate zero-emission vehicle, and I will continue to work with the government and stakeholders to further advance cycling.
    While we have taken action by introducing a price on pollution, there is much more work to be done. We are setting a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, protecting and conserving nature and reducing plastic pollution. Not long ago I challenged local restaurants to stop using plastic straws, and today I am pleased that most restaurants have stopped serving plastic straws automatically. Halton has some of the safest drinking water in Canada, so there is no need for plastic water bottles, yet we still have much work to do to reduce our plastic use in our everyday lives.
    In our last mandate, we took steps to foster a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples and deliver a better life for families and communities, but there remains much work to be done. We will take action to co-develop and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We will continue our work on eliminating long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by 2021 and will co-develop legislation to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to high-quality and culturally relevant health care.
    In 2012, I visited the hospital in Sioux Lookout, a partnership between federal, provincial, municipal and first nation governments. This hospital provides culturally appropriate treatment and care, hospice and long-term stay care and a wraparound continuum of care that ensures better health outcomes.
    We must also address the recommendations of the report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and continue to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. I am happy to see that in my community we are working with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, indigenous knowledge keepers like Stephen Paquette and Sherry Saevil, and the Sheridan College Centre for Indigenous Learning and Support and Elijah Williams to advance reconciliation. Today, the Mississaugas of the Credit flag flies permanently at Oakville Town Hall. The Oakville Community Foundation and Oak Park Neighbourhood Centre are working with indigenous leaders to move us forward on the path to reconciliation.
    As a government, the health and safety of Canadians is our number one priority. Thoughts and prayers are not enough when it comes to gun violence. In my role on the public safety committee during the last Parliament, I worked with my colleagues, as well as stakeholders like PolySeSouvient, the Coalition For Gun Control, Dr. Alan Drummond and emergency room physicians and many others to strengthen our firearms legislation. I am proud of my work on Bill C-71 last year to introduce amendments to protect those subjected to intimate partner violence.

  (1135)  

    During the election campaign, I was proud to run on our record of responsible firearms legislation and investments in law enforcement, border services, and programs that prevent young people from getting involved in guns and gangs. The action proposed in the throne speech to ban military-style assault weapons, like the one used at Polytechnique 30 years ago, is long overdue.
     We are the only country that has universal health care that does not have pharmacare as part of it. As former parliamentary secretary to the minister of health, I was able to work with the minister to make significant changes that will see the cost of drugs reduced for Canadians. No one should have to decide between putting food on the table and taking medication.
    We know that women are disproportionately impacted by the high cost of drugs because of the precarious nature of their work. I have heard stories of women who stopped taking beta blockers after a heart attack because they could not afford them and women who stay with an abusive partner simply for the drug plan that covers the expensive medications they need. This is unacceptable. That is why our move to a universal national pharmacare program is welcome news for Canadians.
    Too many Canadians have been touched by cancer. Certainly one of the highlights of my first term was the $150-million investment the Canadian government will be making in the Terry Fox Research Institute to create the marathon of hope cancer centres with its partners. Through my volunteer work with the Terry Fox Foundation, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. David Malkin and his work at SickKids with Terry Fox PROFYLE.
    Cancer remains the number one disease killer of children. During this term, I will honour children like Carson, Ayverie and Teagan, who were taken far too young by this horrible disease, and support the work of Helena's Hope to ensure that our platform commitment to fund childhood cancer research is honoured.
    Oakville North—Burlington is an affluent community, but that does not mean there are not those who struggle to make ends meet or who live in poverty. We must make sure we have an economy that works for all Canadians, including the most marginalized.
    Affordability is an issue in my community. I have had the pleasure of working with Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, which has said that our national housing strategy has been transformative for its work. Recently, Affordable Housing Halton held an event where Andrew Balahura from the Halton region talked about the work it is doing, with the help of our federal government, to support those who need a safe, affordable place to live. We must also ensure that young people can buy their first home. That is why the proposed changes to the first-time homebuyers program will make a difference in my riding.
     Ford Motor Company of Canada's assembly plant and head office in Oakville are of vital importance to Oakville and the surrounding area. It will be critical to ensure its success, not just today but in the future. Small and medium-sized businesses are the drivers of our Canadian economy and we will continue to provide an environment for them to grow and create well-paying middle-class jobs.
    Gender equality and ending gender-based violence remain a top priority for me personally and for our government. I have had the privilege of working with some incredible local and national organizations, like Halton Women's Place, SAVIS, CAGIS, Actua and many more. I look forward to continuing our work. I am pleased to be launching the young women in leadership program shortly, which my team and I developed three years ago to give young women career mentors in Halton. The number-one obstacle to the full participation of women in the workplace is the lack of affordable quality child care. Ensuring that women have access to child care continues to be a priority for our government.
    Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Nairobi Summit, reaffirming Canada's commitment to the agenda of the International Conference on Population and Development. I heard time and again that other countries look to Canada's leadership when it comes to empowering women, ending gender-based violence and poverty, realizing gender equality and taking urgent and sustained action to realize sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women at home and abroad.
    Canadians are expecting us to listen and collaborate on the many issues where there is common ground between us. It is a rare privilege to take a seat in this place, and one that I do not take for granted. I look forward to getting to work and I appreciate the opportunity to speak today.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to be back in the House of Commons regrouped and ready to go for another session.
    The hon. member opposite just talked about the throne speech. Part of the throne speech was about “gun control”. The hon. member mentioned that it is time for stricter legislation and to move forward with putting in place greater gun control mechanisms. She said this was with the end goal of protecting Canadians and creating safe communities. I would agree with this end, but I fail to see legislative points that actually provide for it.
    We know that firearms are being smuggled across the U.S. border illegally. We know that straw exchanges are being made, when firearms purchased by one individual are then illegally transferred to another. We know that gang violence and organized crime are out of control in places like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. I see nothing in the throne speech with regard to these elements, with regard to looking after our border and the safety and security of Canadians, with regard to making sure that straw purchases are not being made and with regard to reinforcing front-line policing and ensuring that gangs are taken off the streets. I see nothing with regard to harsher penalties, and I see nothing with regard to accountability.
    Could the hon. member opposite comment on these observations?

  (1145)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for coming back to this place.
    During the last four years we invested $500 million into Canadian border services, money that had been cut by the previous government, so we can ensure there is strict enforcement at the border.
    We are also investing in law enforcement and in programs to prevent young people from joining gangs in the first place. It is money that is well received by municipalities like Toronto, which had asked for additional support.
    The vast majority of Canadians supports our efforts to improve firearms legislation and ban handguns in municipalities, as well as ban military-style assault rifles.
    I find it quite troubling when members opposite hold fundraisers that combine alcohol and guns. They do not look at the fact that women are being killed by their partners with firearms. In my riding of Oakville—North Burlington, there was a woman killed by her partner with a firearm not too long ago. We know that women are more at risk if there is a firearm in the home. We know that 80% of women in Atlantic Canada have said they would be less likely to come forward to report abuse if there were a firearm in the home.
    I look forward to continuing our work on this important issue for Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, congratulations on being chosen for the prestigious and thankless position you now occupy.
    I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for choosing me to represent them.
    I will keep this very brief. People toss the expression “climate emergency” around gratuitously, but to me, the climate emergency is very important and a very big deal. People have used the expression and will use it over and over in the House. I truly and sincerely hope that decisions about the environment are examined through the “climate emergency” lens to ensure the government walks the talk.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with the member on the climate change emergency, because it is an emergency. In my riding, both the communities of Oakville and Burlington have declared a climate emergency. I think young people are pushing governments at all levels to take action on this, because we do not have a lot of time left. Our government will be planting two billion trees, because we know that planting trees is an important component of reducing the emissions in the air. It is so critical. I look at my son and think about what kind of world I want all of us to leave for him. Certainly, action on climate change is important.
    I look forward to working with the hon. member and members of his party in the House to make sure we are taking the action we need on climate change.
    Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap.
    Though I rose briefly during Routine Proceedings last Friday, this is my first speech in the 43rd Parliament and I would like to take this occasion to give some additional words of thanks. As a temporary custodian of this seat in Parliament, I am deeply honoured to have the enormous responsibility of representing some 140,000 residents as part of a centuries-old tradition of protecting citizens by checking the otherwise unlimited power of the Crown. Parliaments exist in order to ensure that the Crown and its agent, the government, cannot impose itself on citizens without their consent. That consent is granted through votes in this incredible institution.
    Once again, I thank the voters of Calgary Rocky Ridge for electing me to be their servant in the House. I also wish to thank the 270-odd volunteers who assisted my election campaign. I thank them for their support, for their commitment to their community and for their love of their country. I could not have done it without them. I would like to thank the other candidates who contested the election in Calgary Rocky Ridge for giving the voters choice, without which there is no democracy.
    Finally, I wish to thank my family. My three daughters, it seems I began the last Parliament with three young girls who are now three young women. My loving wife, Kimberley, I thank for her love, her understanding, her patience, her unwavering support and for always keeping it real in the Kelly house. To my parents, Marnie and Duane Kelly, I thank them for their constant love and encouragement.
    Today we are debating last Thursday's Speech from the Throne. My response to the Speech from the Throne is coloured by the recent experience of having knocked on a little under 30,000 doors with my re-election team. What I heard on the doorsteps is what informs my remarks and my impressions of the Speech from the Throne.
    To be blunt, the government has virtually no support in my riding. That is simply a fact and it is supported by the election results. I knocked on doors in the communities of Calgary Rocky Ridge in every provincial and federal election over the last 30 years as an activist and in 2015 and 2019 as a candidate, and I have never experienced anything quite like it.
    It was never easier. People have never been more forthright in coming forward and identifying themselves as Conservative supporters. However, at the same time, I have never had more difficult conversations on doorsteps than I did in this election with people who suggested that they intended to support me, my party and my leader.
    For most candidates in most elections, conversations with our own supporters are the easy ones, but not in 2019 in Calgary Rocky Ridge. Some of the conversations I had with supporters were downright heartbreaking. I spoke with people who had not worked in years. I heard from people who told me that they were on the verge of losing their homes. I talked with people whose spouses were working in Texas and coming home for a couple of weekends a month or were working in the Middle East or other parts of the world and only coming home a few times over the course of a year.
    I talked with a man who has lived in his neighbourhood for 20 years and he said that since 2015, seven previously stable families on his block had come apart in divorce. Economic stress and anxiety from unemployment and failing businesses have taken their toll on families, tearing apart the very fabric of our communities.
    I spoke with people who openly and candidly expressed their despair, anger and incredulity over what they see as a failure of their country to respect their province. For decades, Alberta has welcomed Canadians from across Canada and indeed people from around the world to be a part of Alberta's economic opportunities. It has transferred much of that wealth back to other provinces and continues to do so despite a recession that has been going on for five years.
    My constituents are demanding action. They cannot wait. They made it abundantly clear to me that regardless of which party was to form a government after the election, they would expect me to speak clearly and without ambiguity about just how devastating these past four years have been.
    They expect me to be candid about just how upset they are with their federal government. They told me that they wanted the no-more-pipelines bill reversed. They told me they were stunned that a tanker ban on Alberta exports was brought in while tankers continued to bring in oil to eastern refineries from Saudi Arabia.

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    They told me that they could not understand why a government was running such large deficits at a time of economic expansion. They told me that they were appalled by the constant parade of ministers to the Ethics Commissioner, by a Prime Minister prepared to bully his own cabinet and break the law just to get his own way, and by the way the Prime Minister's personal conduct never matches his moral preening.
    They told me, at door after door, that the Prime Minister is a constant source of embarrassment on the world stage, and that they do not believe that he is up to the diplomatic challenges of our times, because they believe that he is fundamentally an unserious person.
    With the campaign behind us, with the country's divisions laid bare in a minority Parliament, last week the Prime Minister had an opportunity to acknowledge the failings of the last Parliament, which cost him seats and votes in every region of the country.
    He had an opportunity to chart a new course to address the concerns of Canadians who rejected his government's track record. Instead, he delivered a speech full of the same flowery language and grand aspirations that we heard throughout the last Parliament with only a few inadequate words for my constituents in a partial sentence, kind of as an afterthought, where he claimed that the government would “also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets and offer unwavering support to the hard-working men and women in Canada's natural resources sectors, many of whom have faced tough times recently”.
    Really? “Unwavering support” and “have faced tough times recently”, is that it? Since 2015, hundreds of thousands of energy workers have lost their jobs. Over 100,000 of them are out of work in Alberta right now. There is $100 billion in energy investment that has left Canada since the Liberal government took office.
    Encana, which was once Canada's largest company, and TransCanada PipeLines are changing their names to remove “Canada” from their business names and relocating to the United States because that is where the work is. However, all the Prime Minister had to say in his Speech from the Throne was “unwavering support” and “tough times recently”?
    The Prime Minister has been unwavering in his stated desire to phase out the natural resources sector, and he is succeeding. One incredibly insulting sentence that contained a flagrant untruth was all the Prime Minister had to say about this in his entire speech.
    If the Prime Minister meant what he said about getting Canadian resources to market, it would require him to undo much of the work of the last Parliament. It would require him to repeal Bill C-69 or implement every single one of the Senate amendments that were rejected last spring.
    It would require him to repeal Bill C-48. It would require him to champion Canada as a reliable source of ethically extracted resources and to disown his own prior anti-Canadian-energy rhetoric. It would require him to actually take concrete steps to ensure Trans Mountain could be completed. It would require him to apologize for chasing its private sector proponent out of Canada and for having to send $4.5 billion to Texas so they could compete with us by building pipelines elsewhere.
    The Liberals think they deserve some kind of credit for buying a pipeline that should never have been for sale in the first place. I can assure them that not one single person I met in my riding, where pipelines are a huge issue, thought that buying it was anything other than a last-ditch solution to a problem 100% of the Liberals' own making.
    To sum up, the throne speech contains nothing for my constituents. I received a strong mandate from the people of Calgary Rocky Ridge, and I expect them to hold me to a high standard. My constituents expect nothing less.

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    Mr. Speaker, I would love to sit with the member and contrast the response I got from the constituents I represent versus the response from the constituents he represents.
    However, I do know that Canadians want to see opposition parties and the government working together more than they did in the previous four years. That means looking for policies that will further advance Canadians as a whole. For example, today we talked about the TMX, which is actually moving forward. Would the member not agree that is a positive thing? It is something, I must remind the member opposite, that the Conservatives were not able to do.
    Even though the member has been very critical, and often the Conservatives like to make personal attacks on the Prime Minister, let me assure Canadians and those following the debate that this government will continue to focus on strengthening Canada's middle class and has a strong willingness to work with all members of this chamber to make a positive difference for all Canadians in all regions.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Winnipeg North on his re-election.
     He talked about his constituents, and I have no doubt he has support in his riding. I note that he lost some colleagues whereas we gained some. I would be surprised if there was widespread support for his government at the doors in both cities.
    On the member's point about co-operation in this Parliament, if the government proposes measures that will be helpful to my constituents and to Canadians more broadly, I will be more than happy to offer my co-operation and support. We are here to support Canadians and to represent our ridings. I will co-operate fully with any measures the government proposes that will help my constituents. I saw none in the Speech from the Throne.
     I invite the member to knock on doors in my riding of Calgary Rocky Ridge and see what kind of response he gets to that Speech from the Throne.

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[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the people of Laurentides—Labelle and thank them for placing their trust in me.
    We have been hearing about prosperity for the last little while, but let us not forget those who are vulnerable. Earlier, members talked about community organizations and the labour shortage. In Laurentides—Labelle, one in six people lives below the low income threshold. That is alarming. These people have a hard time finding work. Members have also talked about social housing. These people even have a hard time finding a place to live.
    How are we going to help all the people who are suffering and who are unable to contribute to the prosperity we all seek? What are my colleague's thoughts on that?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member to the chamber.
    I have some simple and concrete steps that would benefit the well-being of all Canadians, and that is for the government to become a champion of our resource sector. It supplies jobs to Canadians all across the country. Thousands of workers in Quebec used to work in Alberta. They had good, high-paying jobs that contributed to the prosperity of the province of Quebec, not only from the income they earned in Alberta but also through the enormous transfers that have taken place over the years.
    The economic opportunities that have been lost under the Liberal government represent billions of dollars that could have been used for all manner of social programs. Investment has left Canada and gone to the United States. We are literally exporting hospitals, schools and social services to the United States. The lost tax revenue and income revenue has been appalling under the government.
    Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have risen in this 43rd Parliament, so I would like to take a short moment to thank the voters of North Okanagan—Shuswap for placing me in their seat in the House to serve as their representative. I am scheduled to have an opportunity to speak later today and will wait until then to expand on how grateful I am for the opportunity to be here.
    At this time, I am rising to speak to the Speech from the Throne, so I will use this valuable time to do so. We are expected to use this time to respond to the Speech from the Throne and express our position with respect to the mandate given to us by the voters in our ridings and in relation to the portfolios to which we have been assigned.
     I honour that opportunity and intend to capture what I heard on the doorsteps of constituents of North Okanagan—Shuswap, at 15 all-candidates forums and at countless meetings across the riding over the past four years.
    I also plan to address issues relating to the ministry of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, for which I am honoured to be shadow minister.
    One of the key issues I heard regarding North Okanagan—Shuswap was about affordability, that life had become less affordable under the previous Liberal government. I heard continuously that people were concerned about the debt load that was being passed on to future generations, children and grandchildren, who would be forced to pay for the short-sightedness of a tax-and-spend government.
    Unfortunately, little has changed. The suggestion to cut taxes for the middle class, a class that has never been defined, with no plan to equivalently reduce government spending is once again a reckless one. It is even more reckless when there is no real mention in the speech of how the Prime Minister plans to rebuild the confidence in Canada's business sector for Canadian and foreign investors, whose confidence is needed to build our economy, an area that should be foremost if we are truly concerned about keeping life affordable for Canadians.
    Business owners in the North Okanagan—Shuswap have told me they are not willing to invest in expansion or capital projects under the current government's direction, sectors like the forest industry. In March of 2016, we were told that within 100 days there would be a framework for a softwood lumber agreement. Three and a half years later, there is still no deal and no mention of forestry in the throne speech. Sectors like agriculture have suffered from strained international relationships and lacklustre trade negotiations. Agriculture is another economic driver that is not mentioned in the Speech from the Throne.
     If the government is truly responsive to the message the electors gave at the polls, it should recognize these sectors. They are an important and large component of life in the regions of the country where the Liberals lost seats. They should recognize that actions are needed, more than words of platitude, to bring a sense of Canadian unity back to those regions, regions that have been a source of relative wealth for all of Canada.
    I also want to take part of my time today to address issues related to fisheries, which is my portfolio in the official opposition shadow cabinet. Fishermen and indigenous and non-indigenous groups across the country have grave concerns about Canada's fish stocks, their livelihood and the future of their communities. The fishers, processors and communities that rely on stability of access and markets to make investments in their boats, plants and infrastructure are all looking for certainty. Unfortunately, what we are seeing are more signs of uncertainty, signals of closures of access to the fishing grounds, conflict over who has access and when access may be granted and whether they will be consulted before decisions are made that will affect their work, their business, their communities and their future.

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    Canada already has some of the strongest protection measures for its waterways and marine areas through fishing and operational regulation and legislation. These factors must be taken into account when negotiating with global forces set upon locking up Canada as the world's park.
    The commitment to protect 25% of our oceans by 2025 cannot be done without abandoning meaningful consultation processes with affected communities and current operators.
    I often refer to the difference I see between conservation and preservation, with conservation being the wise and conservative use of resources so there is a benefit or revenue attained from that use, allowing for a portion of those benefits to be turned back into the health and growth of that resource, whether it be forestry, land use, fish and wildlife or other natural resources. On the other hand, to me preservation means locking up those resources so there is no benefit or revenue coming back in to use or divide up and put back into maintaining that resource, requiring funding from other resources to be tapped into so it can be used to support that resource that is now locked up.
    I will always defend the value of conservation over preservation.
    There must also be action on the ground and in the streams if Canada is to rebuild its salmon stocks to the abundance that is possible. We have seen little in the past four years that made a difference in any place other than meeting rooms. Limited resources have actually hit the ground, and now we have seen nothing in the throne speech to even recognize Canada's fisheries and the people who rely on them.
    It is a pleasant dream to live in a world where nothing is taken and nothing is used, but it is not sustainable in a world where everyone wants more than we had yesterday.
    In speaking today, I respect the viewpoint that criticism should not be given directly without offering an alternative or solution, so I offer that instead of implementing legislation and policies that will only make life more difficult and expensive for Canadians and make them more dependent on government, let us look for ways to promote our Canadian ingenuity and technology in Canada and abroad to tackle things like climate change and ocean pollution in areas of the world where it is the worst. Let us consult with resource users and developers on how we can do things better and continue to grow and prosper. Let us work with our remote and coastal communities, listen to them and their willingness to protect our lands and oceans, while still deriving a living from the resources available to us.
    In the spirit of working together and co-operation, I offer these alternatives to the way things have been laid out. While holding the government to account during the coming term, I also offer to work together toward solutions that are best for all Canadians.

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     Mr. Speaker, I think of Bill C-55, which is the oceans protection act. There is legislation, but there have also been budgetary measures, close to hundreds of millions of dollars, put in over the last number of years. I think there is common ground we can both agree on with regard to just how important these issues are.
    The member talked about other areas of the world. If we take a look at Canada's population overall and contrast it to other populations around the world, we will find that the amount of political clout that Canada has is fairly significant given its population base. Does the member agree that taking progressive measures allows Canada to have a greater influence on the things that take place around the world and that is why it is important we bring forward legislation like Bill C-55 and others to ensure we continue to have that clout?
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. member for Winnipeg North brought up Bill C-55, because that is exactly what I was alluding to in my speech this morning.
    I was heavily involved in the debate in the committee study of Bill C-55. In fact, before that bill even came to the committee for study, I had put forward a motion at the fisheries committee that we study how marine protected areas are implemented in Canada and the consultation process that was there previous to Bill C-55. Now we see areas of interest being closed to access without consultation; those local fishing communities have been ignored. The fishermen have been ignored.
    Even though this member says the government has put funding and resources in place, it has cut out consultation process that I see as so important.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the voters in the riding of Montcalm who have once again placed their trust in me. I will do everything I can to meet their expectations.
    While the old parties are stuck in a revolving door—sometimes in government, sometimes in opposition—there is one thing that remains constant when it comes to the climate emergency: both parties are all talk and no action. The day after the Marrakech climate change conference, COP22, the Parliamentary Budget Officer told the Liberal government that Canada would need to change course dramatically in order to meet the targets set by the previous Harper government for the environment. What did the Liberals do? They purchased an old pipeline that nobody wanted and invested $19 billion in the oil industry. Still, that was not enough for the Conservatives.
    Since the Conservatives claim they have a plan for the environment, could my colleague tell us how they would drastically change course to address the climate emergency?

  (1215)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is what we talked about in our election platform. We recognize that Canada can make a difference in our emissions, but we have to work on a global scale. When China emits over 25% of global emissions, why should we punish Canadians with a carbon tax, when we could use Canadian technology and ingenuity, market that worldwide and make a bigger difference in places where the pollution is the worst?
    Mr. Speaker, I have a quick question to my colleague with regard to single-event sports betting, as we start to reach areas of common interest.
    I have tabled my private member's legislation that would allow each province to allow single-event sports betting. Currently in Canada about $10 billion goes to organized crime or to offshore betting. That money could be redirected to priorities and accountable sports betting could take place. The United States is moving toward this, and the rest of the world has.
    Does the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap support this legislation as a unifying thing among parties and ourselves? It would make sure we move this money from organized crime and the black market in basements and back rooms to accountable, taxable and, more importantly, safe single-event sports betting, and modernize our act.
    Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting question. I look forward to seeing the member's private member's bill coming forward. I am certainly not going to say how I am going to vote on a bill that I have not even seen yet, but I do agree with him that we need to deal with corruption. We need to deal with organized crime. We need to deal with criminals who are preying on the most vulnerable here in Canada. That is what we have not seen from the previous Liberal government, and I do not expect we are going to see it from this one, unless it can understand what this side of the House sees as making a larger difference.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be back in this chamber and I want to start by thanking my constituents in Parkdale—High Park for returning me for the second time to this chamber. It is an honour and a privilege to serve them, one I do not take lightly.
    I also thank the most important people in my life in terms of getting me to where I am today, the people who gave me guidance as a young child and then as a young man: my parents, Lou and Sul Virani. My dad just celebrated his 78th birthday this past Saturday. I thank my sister Shakufe. My immediate family has been a rock of support through all of this.
    I will confess that it has been a little more troubling and difficult for my youngest son this go-round. In 2015, he was one year old and did not have much conscious memory of what transpired then. This go-round, he was five and missed his dad a great deal during the election, as did my eight-year-old son. However, it is for them that I do this work and for children around the country that we all do this work. It is important to keep them in mind. I love Zakir and Nitin very much. I am not wearing a shirt with cufflinks today, but I have the cufflinks with their initials on them in my pocket, as I always do on important occasions.
    The most important person is obviously my significant other, my wife Suchita, who has been a rock of support. We do not come from a political family, but she has, nevertheless, been steadfast and by my side constantly throughout this entire endeavour, even to the point of pulling the vote on election day this past year, which was a first for her. I thank my wife Suchita. I love her dearly. I thank her for allowing me to do what I do, serving this country and my riding.
    We have just had the Speech from the Throne, which contains a series of initiatives the government is pursuing. I want to highlight six of them. Members will recollect from the previous Parliament that I remain a litigator who likes to stay organized in his prepared comments.
    My first point is climate action. We know that climate action is urgent. The country heard about it during the course of the campaign and prior to it. We know we need to take bold action, and we have taken the steps toward that bold action. However, I am going to highlight one important thing because it dovetails with the message sent to us by constituents right around the country: what they are looking for in returning a minority Parliament is more co-operation, and there is no monopoly on a good idea. We need to take best practices from across the aisle, across the country and around the world and implement them as best practices here in Canada.
    I will point to one. We have taken some very bold action with our carbon price in our plan to phase out coal and our initiatives in the just transition. One thing we need to do was not contained in our platform but the platform of a party opposite, the NDP. It talked about a climate accountability mechanism that government would report to. That is exactly the kind of mechanism that is worth studying. I was at COP24 last year in Katowice, and that is the model that is used in Britain that was championed at COP24. I brought that idea back to Parliament and immediately started talking about it. I am glad to see it in the platforms of other parties. It is the kind of idea that we need to take up, because there is nothing more pressing than addressing climate change as an initiative.
    My second point from the throne speech is that affordability rang true throughout the country. This is not only germane to my riding, or the city of Toronto or urban centres; this rings true regardless of where one is, from region to region, rural to urban. I would point to a very important commitment in the throne speech that was reiterated when the throne speech was read, which is that the very first act we will be taking as a government is to reduce the taxation burden on low- and middle-income Canadians. How are we doing that? We are increasing the basic personal exemption.
    Again, it is not a partisan issue, but I will point out a subtle difference that lays bare the difference between the two major parties in this chamber. Conservatives presented the same idea and would have had it universally applicable. Liberals said it is a great idea, but we are going to make it applicable to everyone, except for the top 1%. Why? It is because we fundamentally believe in targeting our measures toward those who need it the most.
    We were criticized in the past, perhaps fairly, for having a middle-class tax cut that applied to people earning between $42,000 and $85,000 roughly, if I remember correctly from the last Parliament. People said, rightfully, that low-income people need taxation relief as much as anyone else. We are delivering that in this campaign platform and with this first initiative. That subtle difference, by ensuring that the benefit goes to those who need it the most and not those who do not need it, is what definitely identifies us as a centrist Liberal Party attempting to address the needs of the most vulnerable.
    The third point I want to touch on is housing. Housing is critical. The issue I heard time and time again when I knocked on doors during the last campaign was housing. Whether it was support for housing, affordable rental housing or the ability for people to buy their first homes, people are feeling the pinch. They are feeling squeezed out of the housing market.

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    It is incumbent upon all of us to address that pinch clearly and vigorously. We are doing just that with a $55-billion plan that is 12 years deep to address housing.
    The campaign is over. It is time to implement those policies, starting with the Canada housing benefit, which will be a portable benefit so that a person is not attached to a particular apartment or unit. People take that benefit with them wherever they move in a riding, in a city or around the country.
    The fourth important theme is critical. It is gun control. I want to talk about this a little bit, because when we speak about gun control, we are speaking about the needs of all Canadians. This need not be a rural/urban issue.
    I was so excited to get going on the throne speech that I neglected to mention that I would be splitting my time with the hon. member for Vaughan—Woodbridge. I congratulate him on his return to the House.
    With respect to gun control, this past Friday was a noted anniversary. It was the 30th anniversary of the Montreal massacre.

[Translation]

    I remember that time 30 years ago very clearly, because my sister was a young student at McGill University. Since she was in Montreal at the time, many people called to make sure Shakufe was okay, that she was safe. We knew she was okay, because she had let us know. We were lucky; our family was lucky.

[English]

    There are 14 families who were changed forever that evening. What troubles me is that sometimes people think that while Jacinda Ardern has done really well on gun control, hot on the heels of a brutal massacre in New Zealand, we do not need to wait for another massacre to act. We have had our share of troubles. We continue to have our share of troubles, such as 30 years ago in Montreal and on January 29, 2017, in Quebec City.
     We have had incidents of people being slaughtered through guns that are used only for the purposes of mass killing. Those are not hunting rifles; those are not legitimately pursued weapons; those are weapons that have no place in Canadian society. We made a bold commitment to get rid of military-style assault weapons. That was reiterated in the throne speech and I am determined to ensure that we see that through its course, and see it through quickly.
    However, it does not just stop there. As a Toronto member of Parliament, I believe firmly in the need for gun control. Yes, there are many facets that contribute to the gun problem and to violence in cities like mine. There are gang problems and there are border control problems, but part of the problem is also the availability of readily accessible handguns that serve no place in a city like Toronto, or in many of our urban centres and centres otherwise.
    This issue impacts our communities, including our racialized communities. It affects mental health and those who pass on by suicide. It dovetails with domestic violence, particularly violence perpetrated against women. We will address all of those issues by addressing the nub of the issue, which is gun control.
    The fifth theme that I want to touch on is indigenous reconciliation. I was very proud to see that reiterated again in the speech, as it needs to be. This will take seven generations to resolve. We made gigantic progress in the last Parliament, in terms of addressing monetary needs, boil water advisories, child welfare legislation and the Indigenous Languages Act, which I was very privileged to work on as the parliamentary secretary to the then minister of heritage. What I learned on that file is that, notwithstanding my own background on equity issues and on fighting discrimination, we will get nowhere in this country in rectifying all sorts of other issues that deal with inequality unless we address the core and foundational issue, which is 400 years of colonialism and racism fomented against indigenous people.
    The sixth theme I wanted to talk about is pharmacare. In an effort to reach across the aisle, we have heard about this from many different parties in this House. The time is now to address the lacuna in our current situation of policy. In the entire OECD, we stand alone as the only country that supports medical care and not medicine with publicly financed support. That is a minority of one that I personally do not want to be in and I know the colleagues opposite share that view.
    Exploring dental care is another fine suggestion that was brought forward in the NDP campaign platform. It was mentioned in the throne speech and I believe it is worth exploring.
    Mr. Speaker, you know that I came to this chamber as a human rights and constitutional lawyer. You know, because we served together, that I came here as a refugee from Uganda and that I have taken advantage of the opportunities that were provided to me in this fine country and I have worked to make it better. We have made great strides over the last four years, but there is so much more work to be done.
    I just want to finish on this note and say four things that I thought about after getting re-elected, which I would commit to myself, my constituents and this chamber.
    The first is to continue to speak out about what I have always believed in: fighting discrimination, promoting equality and making Canada more inclusive for all.
    The second is to continue to champion human rights, both here and abroad, at every opportunity that presents itself.
    The third is to ensure that housing is not a fanciful ideal, but is something that manifests for people in my community.
    Finally, the fourth is to ensure that we will always work harder, faster and more ambitiously on climate change because climate change is the most pressing issue of our time.
    In a spirit of co-operation and collegiality, I offer congratulations to all the new members and returning members to this House. I hope to work with all members collaboratively to better this nation and this Parliament.

  (1225)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member on the opposite side. We do share one thing in common and that is we are the only two members in the House of Commons who participated in the Canadian parliamentary internship program.
    My question is straightforward. In his remarks today, the member mentioned targeting measures for those who need it the most. Does he believe it is appropriate for the Government of Canada to provide incentives or to subsidize the purchase of electric cars for those he has termed the wealthiest 1%?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a tremendous honour to receive my first question in the chamber in this new Parliament from a former parliamentary intern. I congratulate the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. We are now a group of three. Judy Wasylycia-Leis, whose name I can mention in this chamber as she is no longer here, was the first intern to be elected.
    In terms of the member's question, it is a delicate one. We provided a universal incentive for people to purchase zero-emission vehicles, but the member should note that we have targeted it to lower-priced zero-emission vehicles, so $50,000 or less.
    There are Tesla vehicles and other types of vehicles out there that are in the $80,000 and $90,000 range. We specifically excluded them because those vehicles are in the reach of a certain part of the population but are not in the reach of low-income and middle-income individuals. It is low-income and middle-income individuals we are targeting, which is why the ZEV tax credit was targeted at that price threshold and not beyond it.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to speak once again in the House of Commons as the representative of St. John's East.
    I want to reflect on the member's comments about co-operation. That is what Canadians want and they have spoken in that regard.
     I do not like to be cynical when we are talking about co-operation, but with respect to the issue of pharmacare, our party called for a universal comprehensive system and the throne speech talks about taking certain steps along the way. On dental care, we talked about a specific, practical, doable program that could be implemented immediately and the throne speech merely talked about a universal program being studied. To me, that seems to be a cynical approach to these two important issues.
    I would ask the member to comment on that and try to reconcile that with co-operation.

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for St. John's East on his return to the House. He is an experienced member who had a brief involuntary interregnum and I welcome him back to the chamber.
    On both of those points, it is in absolute good faith that we are engaging with pharmacare and starting a dialogue on dental care.
    I will address them in reverse order. With respect to dental care, I heard about this a great deal from people in my riding during the campaign. Specifically, and I am not sure if this is germane only to Ontario, but there is a lacuna that exists for people who are on what is called the Ontario disabilities support program. They receive dental coverage but as soon as an individual hits 65 years of age and access to CPPD, all of a sudden, dental coverage stops. That is a problem. That is a problem for people who live to be about 80 or 90 years old. We need to address that. We need to study it.
     On the issue about timing, these are massive structural changes of the same scope of what we did in the sixties with medicare or in the fifties with pensions, if I remember correctly.
    We need to to do it methodically and make sure we get it right. That is the reason for the study and the Hoskins report and that is how we will be proceeding.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by thanking the people of Lac-Saint-Jean for choosing to put their trust in me. This is very special opportunity for me, since my father sat here for 20 years. I am very pleased about that.
    Everyone is talking about climate change. Obviously, it is very important. However, in 2015, the Liberals promised to end oil subsidies. I question the wisdom of subsidizing the oil industry if we want to move towards the other end of the spectrum and transition to a green economy.
    Do my hon. Liberal colleagues believe that they should not break this promise again and that they should stop subsidizing the oil industry?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question and I congratulate him on his election and his family history. I want to note two things.
    First, the oil subsidies are not as simple as they appear. The oil subsidies also include subsidies to indigenous communities, specifically those in Canada's north. They are the ones who told us during the last Parliament that if we eliminated those subsidies, we would be eliminating the connection that gives them access to an economical source of energy.
    Second, we promised to get rid of the oil subsides by 2025, and we will meet that target.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, through you, I wish to congratulate the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming on his election as Speaker. I am very happy for the member and I know he will do a wonderful job for everyone in the House.

[Translation]

    I am pleased to speak during the opening days of the 43rd Parliament to respond to the government's Speech from the Throne.
    I would like to begin this speech with a big thank you.

[English]

    I thank the residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge for placing their faith and trust in me for a second term. The citizens in my riding humbled me with a strong vote of confidence in my ability to represent them, tripling the margin of victory and achieving over 50% of the votes cast that evening. It is a wonderful vote of confidence and I wish to thank them.
    The results speak to a lot of hard work and an unwavering commitment to my constituents that I always will represent them to the best of my capability and will always be their strong voice in Ottawa. Whether it is through visiting residents in their homes and listening to their concerns and issues, or always being available to our wonderful seniors, whom I love dearly, or listening to the opinions of the dynamic, entrepreneurial and very successful business community, which over the last five years has created over 60,000 new full-time jobs in the city of Vaughan, I will ensure their voices are always heard.
    My team of volunteers, those individuals who canvassed, put up signs, sent positive vibes and made the phone calls that count are an inspiration to me. I say a gracious thanks, merci beaucoup, grazie mille.
    My wife, Rose, and my children, Natalia and Eliana, are watching today. I love them so much and thank them every day for much patience and love while I do this remarkable job here in Ottawa.
    The Speech from the Throne, in my view, is analogous to a blueprint, a blueprint for a more prosperous and inclusive Canada for all Canadians, a blueprint to move the country forward and ensure that we are facing not only the challenges today, but as important, preparing for the ones that may come tomorrow to this beautiful country we call home.
    As MPs we have many duties and fiscal responsibilities to fulfill. I believe the most important responsibility we have as members of Parliament is to advocate for policies to provide Canadians with what I call equality of opportunity. Let me elaborate.
    It is the utmost responsibility for every single MP to ensure that every Canadian, every citizen, has the opportunity to fulfill their capacity as individuals. That can only be achieved through one thing and one thing only. We ourselves need to demonstrate leadership, but leadership only comes from when we serve. Every single member of Parliament is a servant. As noted by Martin Luther King, Jr., life's most important question is: What are we doing for others? Writer and businessman Max De Pree said:
    The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor.
    It is time for all 338 MPs in this wonderful House in the 43rd session of Parliament to be servants, to listen, to act with humility and to ensure that we build a stronger, more inclusive country for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast, one that leaves a healthy environment as well as a prosperous and optimistic future for our children and all the children across this wonderful country.
    The throne speech laid out a number of themes that our government will focus on together working with all parties. These include fighting climate change, reconciliation, making life more affordable while we continue to strengthen the middle class, all much important work. I would like to focus my remaining time on the last theme, about the middle class and strengthening our economy.
    Capitalism in the 20th and 21st centuries created enormous wealth across this world. It lifted billions of people out of poverty across this globe and allowed innovation, an exponential increase in agricultural yields, advances in technology, medicine and social innovation to occur. The world is more connected than we ever knew it and who knows what will happen in the years to come, but it is a very exciting future.
    We as a government will continue to ensure that our policies are based on the values that we fundamentally believe in and care about in this country and are in place to grow the Canadian economy and create good jobs and an optimistic future for Canadians.
    Continuing from our first mandate, we will encourage competition, encourage risk-taking and investment by entrepreneurs. We will give Canadians the skills to respond and adapt to an ever-changing global marketplace. We will provide for tax fairness to put more money in the pockets of Canadian families with that goal that we as a government continue to strengthen the middle class, create a more optimistic future and remain the envy of the world.
    We saw the results over the first four years with over one million jobs created, primarily full time in where I like to see them, the private sector. Over 800,000 Canadians were lifted out of poverty including over 200,000 to 300,000 children. Those are real stories across Canada. We can pick a province or pick a city and we will see there are Canadians who benefited directly from the policies that we put in place in our first session.

  (1235)  

    As we did in 2015, our government will again provide tax relief for millions of Canadians. We did it once and we are going to do it again. A promise made will be a promise kept, with a tax cut aimed at those Canadians who need it the most. All Canadians who earn income, whether it is income earned at work, pension income or even investment income, will see a rise in the basic personal exemption amount. This is something that I argued be put in our platform and it is great to see it there. The amount we earn before paying federal taxes will be increased quicker than would happen naturally, from $12,000 to $15,000, while remaining to be indexed. For taxpayers in Canada who earn approximately $15,000, that will mean $300 more in their pockets to spend on the things they deem to be important. Whether they are saving for their kids' future or paying for everyday necessities, it is their money and we are going to give it back to them. This tax cut will provide over $5 billion annually in tax relief to Canadians.
    I am proud to be part of a government that is focused on lowering taxes for middle-class Canadians. I am proud to be part of a government that will provide tax relief to Canadians from coast to coast to coast. The first time, nine million Canadians benefited from our tax reduction of approximately $20 billion over five years. Over the next two to three years, we will see $15 billion to $20 billion of tax relief dedicated to those families who need it the most, not the wealthiest 1%, not those earning over $200,000 or $300,000. Average middle-class families in Canada earning $70,000 or $75,000 will see over $600 more in their pockets. That to me is great news.
    I am blessed to represent a riding that is defined by dynamic entrepreneurial spirit and a can-do attitude. It is an attitude I see every day in the nearly 12,000 small businesses that are located in the city of Vaughan and the approximately 4,000 that are located in my riding. It is a spirit of asking what they can do for this country rather than the opposite. It is a spirit of hiring and growing our economy, a spirit of getting to work and making things happen. These business owners and entrepreneurs have my utmost respect. Their success is not due to luck but due to hard work and perseverance.
    Some of the most successful entrepreneurs and private enterprises in this country are in my riding. I know first-hand that we must focus on policies that encourage investment, but also provide for what I call inclusive growth, which is when growth occurs, all Canadians benefit.
    That has been the focus of our government from the beginning. It is a focus on returning money to Canadians through our middle-class tax cuts, a focus on the Canada child benefit, where eight or nine out of 10 families in Canada were made better off. In my riding, every month, $5 million arrives tax-free to the families in my riding, helping almost 18,000 children and over 10,000 families. That is real change. That is the change that Canadians elected us on in our first mandate.
    In this session, I am glad to see in our platform further adjustments to the Canada child benefit that will help families not just in my riding but, more importantly, from coast to coast to coast. We will continue lifting children out of poverty. We will continue creating those good, full-time jobs in the private sector that we saw in our first four years. In fact, for the last 12 months, starting in November 2018 to today, almost 300,000 new full-time jobs have been created in Canada. We still have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, depending on how we want to use the measurements. However, if we compare apples to apples, we are among the lowest.
    I spent over two decades working in global financial markets. I grew up in a small town and worked at a pulp mill, a grain elevator and McDonald's, which was one of my first jobs, I know the value of hard work. Hard work is what defines this country. It is what defines the constituents in my riding. That is why we as a government will continue to listen to the hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We will continue to put in place policies that grow our economy.
    I see some of my colleagues from the opposition parties who reside in the beautiful province of Alberta. We will make sure the TMX pipeline gets built. It is being built. This will bring our resources to new markets and make sure we are capturing that full price and lower that differential between oil prices which has hampered the economy of Alberta for the last several years. We need to make sure we get full price for our products and our resources.
     I look forward to working with all my colleagues from all parties, in the 43rd Parliament.
    One of my hallmarks of the 42nd Parliament was to reach out to individuals from other parties, to say hi, to become friends with them and get to know them. If many of us in this House do that, we will see a much more congenial place and a nicer attitude. I see some smiles across the aisle.
    Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to say good morning and bonjour à tous. I would also like to say a special good morning to my kids, and tell them to stay strong, that daddy loves them and he will see them soon.
     With that, I look forward to questions and comments.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, as always, the words of the member opposite are good, as is his intent. I am concerned though that the rosy picture he has painted of the situation in our country does not reflect what we are hearing. We know that 71,000 jobs were lost this month. We know that $80 billion of investment has left Canada and that foreign investment has been reduced 50%. We know that the economy is supposed to be flat and not growing over the next one to two-year term.
    If we really are to help the middle class, we need to admit where we are at and that this is the result of disastrous policies in the Liberal government. We have seen a lack of action most recently with the CN strike and propane backlogs that impacted farmers. Again, three slaughterhouses shut down and 60,000 cows are in the backlog. Therefore, there was a total lack of action there.
    What specific actions will the government take to cure the state of the nation?

  (1245)  

    Mr. Speaker, as an economist and someone who follows the numbers in Canada quite closely, what is behind those numbers are stories of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We have seen net full-time employment rise in the country by over 1.1 million, if not more, in the last five years. We have seen our government take action with the accelerated investment incentive put in place in the prior budget to encourage manufacturers to invest, which is what they are doing. We have seen a resilient economy, and that is backed by resilient Canadians investing in our country.
    I would love to sit with the member for Sarnia—Lambton to explain some of the nuances with our foreign direct investment numbers. We are actually seeing an increase in our FDI numbers, especially in the province of Ontario, which has become a leader in financial technology and innovation. Montreal and Waterloo have become leaders in artificial intelligence. Canada has a lot of good things happening.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge for his comments.
    What stood out for me in particular was what he said about connecting Canadians to the Internet, the issue of connectivity and digital development more broadly.
    The throne speech mentions that “regional needs and differences really matter. Today’s regional economic concerns are both justified and important.” I am from a rural area and these are very important elements.
    My concern is that we must not end up with two categories of Canadians: Canadians who are connected and live an “urban” lifestyle and have not just reliable cell service, but also broadband access to the Internet, and those living in rural areas who have no such access. I believe that the prosperity of our villages depends on it.
    How can we hope to attract young families to Abitibi-Témiscamingue if parents are unable to help their children do their homework or stream television series, for example? How can we attract SMEs and economic development if we cannot make our towns appealing to investors?
    My question is the following: Can the government ensure that all Canadians are connected, no matter where they live?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

[English]

    I am in full agreement with the member from Quebec. In my comments on the throne speech, I said that I fundamentally believed in equality of opportunity for all Canadians to succeed. We need to ensure that Canadians living in rural Canada, in the beautiful parts of our country, are connected to the Internet. The Internet is very equivalent to the telephone of 20 or 30 years ago. Every person in Canada needs to be connected to the Internet to undertake the actions he or she needs to succeed. We need to ensure that. In the prior session, the government invested hundreds of millions of dollars into this and formed partnerships with telecom companies across Canada. We need to ensure that rural Canada is as connected as urban Canada. There cannot be two standards; there has to be just one.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like my colleague to provide further comment as to why it is so important that the government continue to invest and support Canada's middle class and the positive impact that has on the overall economy. A healthy middle class is a healthier economy.
    Mr. Speaker, our economy can only grow and only benefit all Canadians with what is called inclusive growth. We need to target policies that benefit middle-class Canadians. We did it with the first tax cut, benefiting nine million Canadians.
    This tax cut would actually take 700,000 people from our tax rolls. That would be 700,000 people across Canada not paying anymore federal tax. That is real change, but it is also giving money back to Canadians who will spend it. What we call in economics the marginal propensity to consume and spend is actually very high. It will benefit those Canadians and benefit the economy the most.
     We can only move forward as a country if all Canadians benefit from economic growth, and Canadians benefit from tax reductions.
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to indicate that I will be splitting my time with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London. I look forward to those remarks as well.
    I cannot begin without thanking the constituents of Calgary Midnapore for sending me here again. I am so very overjoyed to be back in the House representing them. I am truly grateful.
     My parents are my constituents, so my mom is probably watching. I promise to be extra good in the House at this time.

  (1250)  

[Translation]

    I am very sad for my family today. My mother is from Quebec and my father is from Saskatchewan. It is not uncommon for Canadian families to have one parent from the west and the other from the east. We heard a similar story on the other side of the House last week. Families becoming divided has become a Canadian story, and that is very sad. We are divided because the other side of the House spent the past four years playing all kinds of political games. The government split us right in half. It pit regions against one another. That is truly sad.
    My region, the west, and more specifically Alberta, where the energy sector has no support, obviously comes to mind. Also coming to mind are several bills, such as Bill C-69, which makes it practically impossible to start new projects. There is Bill C-48, which makes it practically impossible to build a pipeline and transport oil. That is very sad. The carbon tax is another example. Bills that impede the energy sector have serious consequences on families and individuals. Bills like these are completely destroying families and people's lives. The government claims to want to eliminate poverty, but it is actually creating poverty with these kinds of bills.
    On more than one occasion, the Prime Minister has said one thing to one part of the country and the opposite to another. The President of the United States called that behaviour “two-faced”. The President of the United States and Canadians have seen those two faces.
    With the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister had an opportunity to put the country on a new path. Sadly, he let that opportunity pass him by. However, he had previously taken certain steps in that direction. He specifically appointed a minister of provincial relations. He held numerous meetings with various provincial premiers. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister promised to listen carefully to what the premiers had to say. The Speech from the Throne would have been the perfect opportunity to prove that they had listened. Unfortunately, the speech shows nothing of the kind. The situation is different from what it was before the election.

[English]

    There were words, but not much was said. There were platitudes, like talking about the good of our community and clichés such as “no challenges are too big.” There were also false attempts to show empathy and understanding for regions. There were parts of the speech that said that as much as Canadians had instructed us to work together, they had also spoken clearly about the the importance of their regions and their local needs.
    What did Canadians say when they spoke? Did they say how their father had not been able to find a job in three years because the corporation he was working for left because of instability due to political regulations? Did they say how their neighbours could not get out of a deep depression because they had spent their entire retirement savings on just surviving? Did they say that they sent a suicide note to their member of Parliament because they had absolutely given up hope of ever finding a job?
    We do not know, and we will never know, because it was not in the Speech from the Throne.
    The speech said that regional needs and differences really mattered. Today's regional economic concerns are both justified and important. However, in what year on the planetary spacecraft will Canada's energy workers get an apology from the Prime Minister; when he sheds a tear for those who have committed suicide because they are completely destitute or for the women and children who have been beaten because, after years of not having a job, dad finally snapped? What year on this spaceship is that? Is that when we will know that regional differences really matter? For now, we do not, because the speech does not say so.
     This was the opportunity to demonstrate action, and if not action, true understanding, and if not true understanding, at least respect. It would not have taken much: a timeline for the TMX pipeline or a promise to look into the national energy corridor. However, it was not there.

  (1255)  

[Translation]

    We can pretend that the world is simple and that the solutions to Canada's problems need not be complex or detailed, but that is not true. We can pretend that we do not need one another and that we are not dependent on one another, but that is not true either. Anyone who denies those facts will suffer for it eventually, even if they refuse to acknowledge it today.

[English]

    This is not the way of Albertans.
     What a great day to be in the House, the day when my predecessor and now premier, the incomparable, the Hon. Jason Kenney, is here to get a fair deal for Alberta. He brings with him my counterpart, minister of children's services and MLA for Calgary-Shaw, Rebecca Schulz. Together Minister Schulz and I will work tirelessly for the children of this nation.
    We Albertans love Canada. We have always been proud to work hard and to share the fruits of our labour with the nation, to do our part for Confederation. We have never told others how to live their lives or that their way of life is not welcome in our country.
     We will not let the Prime Minister divide us and we will not let the government push us out of Confederation. We will not allow that to happen. The government had an opportunity to do something profound, to say something profound and to unify, and it did not.

[Translation]

    That is why I am sad today. I am a woman from Alberta. My mother is from Quebec and my father is from Saskatchewan. I am here for unity. I am here for Canada. Unfortunately, the throne speech is not.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am a native Albertan and when I was a young fellow, the Turner Valley southwest of Calgary was pumping more oil than any other place in the Commonwealth. However, Turner Valley is dry now. The oil is gone. There should have been a lesson there for Alberta to diversify, but here it is, all these years later, and perhaps not enough has been done.
    We also see, and this gets to my question for the hon. member, that in spite of the obvious difficulties that Alberta and many families are having there, Albertans' mean family income after taxes is still the highest in Canada.
    While I agree as an Albertan that we need as a country to do more for our province, would the member not agree that diversification also has to be a priority and that income inequity in Alberta is also a major problem, which her predecessor and now Premier of Alberta should also invest time into solving?

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from across the aisle for the question and congratulate him on his re-election. It is great to see him back here.
    I think we only need to look at the world economy. We have the natural resources, perhaps sadly not in Turner Valley anymore, but in a lot of other places. The world needs these resources. Our own nation needs these resources. There is no need for us to bring these resources in from other nations that do not honour the rule of law and do not honour democracy. We have all of these resources within our backyard still. We need them and we need to use them.
    I look forward to the path where we explore new energy sources and when we bring these new energy sources to market. However, we must evaluate the reality as it stands right now, which is that we have resources and the world needs these resources. The government has not allowed us to use these resources for our benefit, the world's benefit or Canada's benefit, but with that we would definitely see a continuation in the quality of life for all Canadians as we have for many years as a result of these resources.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for our Conservative Party friends.
    This morning, various members spoke about the problems the agricultural industry is having, which are caused in part by climate change. All members of the House agree that there is a climate emergency.
    Is the Conservative Party open to developing an energy transition plan that everyone can agree on?
    There has been a lot of talk about oil sands development and about equalization. Those should be two separate conversations. I could talk for half an hour about equalization, which is no tremendous benefit to the state of Quebec in this federation. Over $4 billion of Quebec's money was invested in the oil sands over the past year, so no one is getting a raw deal.
    My question is this: Is the Conservative Party open to start thinking about making the transition to clean, renewable energy? We need to start doing research and development now.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his recent election and welcome him warmly to the House.
    I would also like to thank my colleague for mentioning the agricultural sector. My position, and my party's, is that farmers have received next to nothing from the government. The government has completely ignored this group, so I would like to thank my colleague for raising the subject.
    Of course we are open to all the options when it comes to the future and the environment. In turn, I would ask my colleague to be open to energy from Alberta. Maybe it is worth highlighting the fact that Alberta energy is among the cleanest in the world. I am very proud of that. Maybe we could have a debate about Alberta energy and talk about how we can move things forward together.

  (1305)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute delight to present my first speech in the 43rd Parliament. To begin, I have to thank the people of Elgin—Middlesex—London for re-electing me.
    Just to take a moment, I would like to thank my incredible campaign team. They were out there knocking on doors, putting up signs and having a great time spreading the word of what we can do here. I know I got back here because I have the most incredible office staff. They know about my constituents, they know what their needs are and they are always there to serve them, so a special thanks to Cathy, Jena, Scott, Jill and Charli.
    I would like to thank my family. Without the support I have from my family, my mom, dad, sisters, brother and of course my husband Mike, I would not be here. We know this job, especially for any of the newer parliamentarians, is not a job. It is a life. When members take this role on, it is not just a career choice. We live and breathe being a member of Parliament trying to always work for our constituents, and making sure what we are doing is in the best interests of our community and the country.
    Following the election, I lost two dear friends. One was my former campaign manager, Brian Clements. May Brian rest in peace. He was my uncle, my dad and everything under the sky and I will miss him forever. The second was Dave Dillon, our regional coordinator, who I worked with as part of the Conservative Party for over the last 16 years. I thank Dave for always having that smile and crazy giggle.
    It is because of people like them that I am here today and have the courage and strength to talk about what the throne speech mentioned and listen to the debate on how Canada needs to move forward.
    It is very simple: We have returned to a minority government. Within Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces we saw huge changes. However, we also saw the wiping out of the Liberal Party in the west. When we talk about Saskatchewan and Alberta, we are all Canadians, so it does not matter where my friends are living. It is my job to worry about them as well.
    One thing I have to say is that, throughout this debate, I see division is so strong. It is very hard to listen to my colleagues from the Calgary area talk about job losses and suicides and the fact that no one is taking those issues seriously because they need to diversify. Yes, that is fine, but let us please have compassion for those people in the west being impacted by some of these laws and regulations being made by the government. It is great to say that, but we are not losing friends and neighbours like people from Alberta and Saskatchewan are. I ask for a bit of compassion.
    For the last number of weeks, I have been fortunate to work on many files. One of the big files I worked on was the CN Rail strike. The reason I am mentioning this is that one of the big things that the Liberals have said is that they are going to work with people. I wanted to bring up the CN Rail strike because it impacted Ontario a great deal, especially southwestern Ontario.
    I received a call from Dowler-Karn CFO Dan Kelly, who is also the chair of the board for the Canadian Propane Association. He let me know that they were going to stop delivering all propane to any farmers who were going to be drying their crops. Last year in Ontario, we had bad mould on our crops and this year we have grain that cannot be dried. Whether it is soybeans, wheat or corn, they cannot be dried. With that, farmers are going to have a lot of damage and financial loss.
    I received the call on a Thursday night, and by Friday morning we were working with our team and the member for Chatham-Kent—Leamington. We sat down with about 50 farmers and stakeholders and pushed this issue.
    The next thing I did was reach out to my Liberal counterparts, and I would like to say a very special thanks to the member for London West, who actually picked up the phone and told me that the Liberal government was going to pick up the phone, call people and find out from stakeholders what was going on.
    She did not know until she had that conversation with propane stakeholders what the impact was to our farmers and what the impact was to people who did not have natural gas flowing down their pipelines because they live in rural parts of Ontario. She was willing to take that phone call.
    She was one member of Parliament from the Liberals who took my call. No other members returned my call and others sent messages saying they were not getting involved.
    If we are going to work together, my stakeholders are everyone's stakeholders. That is why I am telling people that when I want to do something, I am going to make that phone call and I want my stakeholders to be heard. If I am wrong on something, please have the Liberal stakeholders contact me too. I want to know the whole picture. Instead of slamming the door and saying this issue is not important, please remember it is important.

  (1310)  

    The reason I bring this up goes back to what I am hearing from Calgary. It went viral on Facebook, and we saw a lot of comments on this. People from Alberta and out west were saying, “We do not care about Quebec. Who cares if they get propane?” People from Quebec were saying a different thing, recognizing that propane is heating their homes. We heard about nursing homes that were one day away from not having propane.
    The reason I bring this forward is because I did not hear a single word from the government. We knew that our grain producers were going to lose money, and we knew that people were having problems with home heating but that the government would not stand up for them. If not for Conservatives, we do not know what would have happened when it came to some of the grain farmers because their voices were not heard.
    One of the other things I hear a lot about is climate change, and of course that is going to be a theme throughout the current government. I do not think there is a person in this room who does not talk about climate change with his or her constituents. For me, it is one of those things that, as we are moving forward and talking about it, we all have different ways of looking at climate change.
    I was talking about the carbon tax in Elgin—Middlesex—London. If people are talking about the carbon tax in downtown Toronto, they are not going to talk about what my farmers are talking about in Elgin—Middlesex—London. They are not going to talk about the carbon tax that was put on their propane bills or put on their energy bills.
    People had a $400 carbon tax when they were trying to dry their tobacco. How are they going to go forward if they have a new $400 tax that is already put on that? Those are the things we are seeing all the time, and they are extremely concerning to me.
    People in cities do not understand the impact. I should not say that, but people who are in downtown ridings may not understand as well as those people who receive the bills what a carbon tax looks like when trying to dry grain, when loading up kids and going to a grocery store that is 20 minutes away, when people are buying grocery items and know a carbon tax has been applied to them because the cost of transportation has been increased. All of these things impact us.
    A carbon tax is the decision that the Liberals have gone with, though there are many other ways we can look at this and other technologies that we need to address. I am asking the current government to please be listening.
    I ask the Liberals to listen to our farmers, listen to our agricultural producers and the agricultural businesses that are wrapped around that. I ask that they make sure they understand, when the farmers are drying corn, how much it actually costs and what the carbon tax adds to that. There are lots of things that farmers are doing throughout this country to make farming work. We know that when the cost of inputs becomes higher, at the end of the day farmers are not going to be able to succeed. I ask the government to work very closely on that.
    Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be in Aylmer at an event with about 700 people from the Bradley Street Church of God, and I can say that when we speak to Canadians there is a lot that we agree on. In this church assembly there were 700 people, families who were gathering for the Christmas season. Their issues were the top three for many of us here. It is about seniors. It is about veterans. It is about our drug epidemic. Those are some of the social issues that we need to address as well.
     We know our seniors are having a tough time. We know that with interest rates not being as high as they used to be, seniors are relying on their old age security and on their Canada pension plan and some of the savings they have are drying up. We have to be cognizant of that. We have to ensure housing and make sure seniors have a good way of life. We need to be there as a government.
    For our veterans, I applaud the government on the fact that we are looking at veterans' homelessness. That is something that we all need to do. We need to do that together, so I appreciate that.
    Also, I am asking about the drug epidemic. We have had over 10,000 people die in this country and we could be doing better. It is not just the fentanyl that we are talking about. It is the crystal meth and it is all of those drugs. We need to work with all levels of government. Therefore, I ask the government to learn how to work with all levels of government, learn how to work with the Conservative Party, learn how to work with the provincial Premier of Ontario, unlike what it has done over the last months, and to please work with our municipalities. If the Liberals really want to get something done, I ask them to please work with us.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite spoke at great length about the CN Rail strike. At the end of the day, our government listened. I am from Kings—Hants. I have a lot of agricultural producers in my riding. I heard those concerns. While the member opposite suggests that Liberal members were not paying attention to these issues, we were.
    Would the member opposite have asked the government to step in and take away the legislative rights and the collective bargaining that were available to those CN workers? Is that what she would propose that this government should have done?
    Mr. Speaker, let us not get tied up in the weeds on the CN Rail strike. Let us talk about the agricultural issue.
     What I am talking about is the fact that we returned to Parliament about a week and a half after we had to. If this issue had continued, there would be farmers who could still not dry their corn. All of these things would be happening. It is fine to say that we are listening, but listening goes both ways. It is not just about hearing the words; it is about what we are going to do. A little compassion would be nice as well.
     This is not about the CN strike. It is about the fact that we did not have a plan B ready. We were waiting for plan A, and if plan A had not worked out, we would still have crops in our fields right now falling apart, and we would be losing billions of dollars.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take my first opportunity to speak to also thank the voters of my riding, who have given me the distinct honour of representing them here. As everyone knows, Drummond is the most beautiful and most vibrant of the 338 ridings we each proudly represent in this distinguished place.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Martin Champoux: Mr. Speaker, I hear some members expressing doubts, but I invite all my colleagues to come and see for themselves. Everyone is welcome. However, I would advise them not to stay too long, for they may never want to leave.
    It is with both humility and pride that I am pleased to bring my constituents' concerns to the House. One such concern is high-speed Internet access and cellular service in all rural areas. I am sure that many of my colleagues are also concerned about that. Internet access is inadequate. In some ridings, farmers, businesses and self-employed people cannot keep pace and cannot adapt to the realities of their markets. As a result, they are really losing out and often have to move to urban areas, which is not necessarily what they want to do, obviously.
    Worse still, there are regions, particularly in Quebec, but probably elsewhere in the country as well, where emergency services are at risk. The problem is so acute in the municipality of Amherst, Quebec, that people's safety is in jeopardy. We are not fearmongering, but this is something the government should really pay attention to.
    When the safety of our constituents is at risk, I think it is time to act quickly. I am asking the government whether it intends to ensure that the process for providing high-speed Internet in the regions keeps moving forward and whether it could speed up—
    Order. Unfortunately, we only have enough time for one more question. The hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there are many small providers, but in my riding of Elgin—Middlesex—London, there are pockets of people who do not receive high-speed service. We know this hurts farmers, small businesses, our students and families. We will continue to work to achieve this, and I think it should be an important mandate for all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London on her return to the House. It is always a pleasure to work with her.
    In the member's beautiful speech, she mentioned seniors. The throne speech said the government wants to strengthen our pensions, as the member mentioned, and make sure that our seniors have a healthy living. However, we were told last week in the House by the Minister of Seniors that old age security would be strengthened, but only at the age of 75.
    Does the member support what is in the throne speech or does she believe that this increase should start at age 65 for all pensioners on old age security?
    Mr. Speaker, to be honest, if I have a right answer, it is not yes or no. However, we do need to look at this, because we have to understand that many people's RRIFs are drying up when they get to the age of 75 and still have time to live.
    The government is supposed to be a backstop for many of these programs, like the guaranteed income supplement, but we have many seniors in need. We need to do an overall review of this. Because of the rise in taxes, because of the carbon tax, because of all these things that seniors did not have at one time, what they used to have is not enough. I believe we need to do a full study on that.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise and address those in this beautiful chamber. I would first like to thank the constituents of Winnipeg North for once again affording me the opportunity to be here representing what I believe is the best and most diverse riding in our country. I suspect there might be 337 other people who might challenge that thought, but it is an absolute privilege to be representing the residents of Winnipeg North.
    That said, I want to reflect on a number of the issues I heard from constituents. Another member gave his perspective earlier on what people were saying. We often hear about the middle class. When I sat in opposition in the Stephen Harper era, it was very rare to hear about Canada's middle class. If one were to perform a word search, one would find that to be the case. We would hear it periodically, but this would come from the Liberal Party, the third party at the time, and particularly its leader.
    Nothing has really changed with respect to this government's priority. Whether as the third party or as we are now, having received a second mandate, we talk about the importance of Canada's middle class. We understand and appreciate how important the middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it are to our society, economy and the social fabric that we call Canada today.
    In terms of some of the actions that have already taken place, the Minister of Finance today talked about another tax break coming to Canada's middle class. One of the very first actions we took after the 2015 election was a tax break to Canada's middle class. We have seen consistency from this government with regard to Canada's middle class, which I believe is the reason we have seen, with the help of Canadians in all regions of our country, the generation of a lot of good, positive news. This is highlighted by the fact that over one million jobs were created in the last four years.
    I know there are significant portions of the country that have not done as well as others. If we look at the history of Canada, we find that at different points in time some areas have been more challenged than others and that at times it is necessary for the government to be more involved. We have seen this in the Prairies, specifically with the province of Alberta and the federal government. When one region has been suffering more economically than others, the government has listened very carefully and supported regional interests where it could.
    I suggest that members take a look at issues surrounding western diversification funds and their allocation or at the percentage of infrastructure dollars that have been committed or in many ways spent in some of those areas. This federal government has worked more with municipalities than Stephen Harper ever did, because we recognize that in many ways it is the municipalities that deliver so many of those services, particularly in relation to infrastructure services.
    For Canada's middle class, Liberals have made huge strides in the area of international trade. We have seen a government that has not only had discussions but has also signed off on some very important trade agreements around the world. In fact, this government has signed off on more trade agreements with other countries than any other government. We even did more than Stephen Harper did, because we understand and appreciate the value of those trade agreements.

  (1325)  

    No matter what the Conservative Party attempts to say about trade, it cannot rewrite history on the facts. What I just stated was factual.
    There are many things we have done over the last four and a half years that have had a profound and positive impact on all regions of our country. Thinking about the years ahead and reflecting on the mandate, and based on discussions I have had with my constituents, I believe Canadians want us to continue moving forward on the many progressive policies that we have brought in over the last four years and to lobby and advocate for those progressive policies. A vast majority of them would want me to say that. I am committed to doing that, and I believe the government will continue to do that as well.
    I also recognize that Canadians want to see a higher sense of co-operation, a higher sense of responsibility from members on all sides of the House, not just from the government side.
    The biggest disappointment I had at people's doors was a negative attitude toward politics. Many people did not vote because they were discouraged by the negative attitude that too many politicians have, and we see it virtually every day when the House is sitting.
    In my previous speeches in the House, I often talked about the character assassination by the official opposition of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance or other selected individuals, whether justified or not. Conservatives put politics before people. It is that sense of negativity, the “Prince of Darkness” negativity or whatever we want to call it.
    At the end of the day, Canadians want to see a higher standard in the House. I would suggest it could start right on the floor of the House. We do not need to make things as personal as we have witnessed over the last four years. It is not warranted. As my colleague would say, park the politics as much as possible. Personal character assassination does not do well to build a consensus.
    There are many areas we could agree to support. The previous speaker talked about the importance of our children and that she is going to work with the minister in Alberta regarding them. This government has done a great deal for Canadian children. We have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty through the Canada child benefit program. This has helped children in every region of our country. Over $9 million a month goes into Winnipeg North alone through the Canada child benefit program. That has an incredible impact on disposable income to support our children. It helps to lift children out of poverty.
    I have good news for members opposite. This government is going to continue to support our children in all regions of Canada. As the Conservative member opposite just alluded to, when we have positive measures, and there are a lot of positive measures, members can support what the government is doing.
    There has been some criticism of the throne speech. I have been a parliamentarian for 30 years and I have been in opposition for most of those years. I hope to tie it up at the government level at some point. It was 20-plus years in opposition and five or six in government. I am an optimistic person.

  (1330)  

    I am suggesting that, at the end of the day, throne speeches are very much general documents. We are always going to find things, whether it is in this throne speech, Harper's throne speech or the 10-plus provincial and territorial throne speeches that come out. It is very rare that one will get into the real nitty-gritty specifics. We are always going to find things that we would like to have seen incorporated into a throne speech.
    However, if we take a look at the important issues that we are highlighting, such as Canada's middle class, the environment and reconciliation, these are all ideas that I believe should generate support from both sides of the House. One does not need to vote against it because it is a government throne speech. There are many things within this throne speech that I suspect everyone will, in fact, support. I would suggest the vast majority of things stated in this throne speech are things members on both sides of the House should get behind and support.
    I have heard members across the way talk about seniors. We did a great deal in the previous four years. I ask members to remember that one of the very first initiatives we did was to reverse the Conservatives' decision to increase the age of retirement for OAS. When I was first elected a person had to be 65 in order to collect OAS, old age security. The former Stephen Harper government increased the age to 67, but one of the very first things we did was to put it back to 65.
    In addition to doing that, we recognize that there is always a limited amount of finances to be put into any given envelope. We wanted to help the poorest of our seniors, so we substantially increased the guaranteed income supplement, which lifted hundreds plus thousands of seniors in all regions of our country out of poverty. In Winnipeg North alone, hundreds of Canada's poorest seniors were actually lifted out of poverty because of that particular initiative.
    However, it does not stop there. We talk about moving forward with our seniors, and there are a couple of other items, one of which is highlighted quite well in the throne speech.
    My New Democratic friends talk about the guaranteed income supplement increasing at age 75 and ask why not have it increase at age 65. That is a good question. It is a very good question. I raised this issue at the doors of my constituents. If there are x number of dollars to put into supporting seniors and trying to assist seniors in the best way possible, there is a big difference between a senior who is 65 years old and one who is 75 years old. I am going to be 65 pretty soon myself. I am 57, turning 58.
    If we have the choice of giving a greater increase to those people who are 75 as opposed to those at the younger age of 65, I suggest that there is a greater benefit to society if we can give a larger percentage increase to those who are 75 and over. As a direct result of targeting it that way, we are going to be able to assist them more. My colleagues will find that there are many 65-year-olds who choose to continue to work. It does not mean that we have to stop there.
    At the end of the day, one of the good things we did was to bring forward a seniors directorate. This is a government that genuinely and truly cares about the future of our seniors. That is one of the reasons we have been very selective and effective at getting more money into the pockets of the seniors who need it the most. That is what we should be striving to do, and we have been very effective at doing that.
    I ask members to stop and think about this. We are giving a bigger increase to those who are 75 and older. We are giving another tax break to Canada's middle class. These are things that reinforce the tax cuts and the increases that we gave to the Canada child benefit and the GIS in the previous Parliament.

  (1335)  

     All of those money breaks are going to put money into the pockets of Canadians in every region of this country. By doing that, we are increasing overall disposable income, and by doing that, we are allowing Canada's economy to do that much better. With an increase in disposable income, we see more expenditures in our communities. That is one of the reasons that this government has been so successful. By investing in people, we have had an economy that has done relatively well.
    I was a bit discouraged when one member tried to point out that because of job losses there have been people committing suicide, and that somehow the government should feel guilty. When hundreds of thousands of people were finding themselves out of work in the manufacturing industry, in particular in Ontario and so forth, the Liberal Party cared. We were compassionate toward that. Equally, we care about and are compassionate toward those who have been losing jobs in our natural resources sector.
    Sadly, when a person loses a job, and it does not matter in what region of the country, it can be a very trying time. To say it is one person's fault or the government's fault is somewhat irresponsible. Let us look at the bottom line and the way the economy and policies have been presented in the last four years. If we listen to what is being said in the throne speech and what is being said by the Prime Minister in the many speeches he delivers, and the speeches of ministers and many of my colleagues, we will see that we are on the right course.
    That is why a major theme for us going into the election was that we want to continue to move forward on what is important to Canadians. We know it is important to Canadians because we have a Prime Minister who has continually said to members of Parliament, in particular Liberal members of Parliament, that here in Ottawa we represent the constituents first. We do not represent Ottawa to our constituents. It is the constituents and their interests that we represent first, here in Ottawa, and that is why we have the relationships that we have built within our caucus.
    We have a great caucus that is committed to the long-term viability and strength of building Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it. We have a caucus that understands the importance of the economy and social programs. One of those social programs that has to be highlighted is Canada's pharmacare program.
    Prior to this Prime Minister, I very rarely heard the word “pharmacare”. It is only because of this Prime Minister and this government, and through the members of Parliament and their constituents that we have raised that whole issue to where it is today, a point where I feel very confident that we will have a national pharmacare program.
    I would like to see all members of this chamber, whether they are New Democrat, Bloc, Conservative, Green or independent, get behind a national pharmacare program. This has taken a great deal of time to put together.
    We have a government that is prepared to work with all the different stakeholders and listen to what they have to say. However, if the need is there to make that decision, we should make that decision for the betterment of all Canadians. This is a government that understands that every day is an opportunity to work hard and provide better results for all Canadians in all regions.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my friend on his nail-biting return to this House.
    He said that the government cares about the middle class and that the evidence is just to do a word search in Hansard to see how many times that word appears. I took him up on the challenge and went to openparliament.ca. There is a feature on there where one can find a member's favourite word, the word a member uses most frequently in the House of Commons. Do members know what the favourite word of the member for Winnipeg North is? It is “Conservatives”. When he speaks in the House, the thing he talks about most is not the middle class or pharmacare. It is the Conservatives. That is revealing in many ways about his speech.
    In the last four years, taxes went up for the middle class. The government did everything it could to increase taxes for the middle class. It took away income splitting and brought in the carbon tax. Why is the member so much more interested in the Conservatives than he is in the middle class?
    Mr. Speaker, the simple answer to that is that I am constantly trying to compel the Conservative Party to do the right thing. When one compels a party to do something, it is much better to say “the Conservative Party” than “Hey, you over there on the other side.” Conservatives will find that if they look beyond my favourite word, they will likely find me asking when the Conservatives will do this or that, or why the Conservatives complain about this or that. That is likely why that is my favourite word.
    I can say that one of the issues I raise more and more is the benefit of the tax cut that the Conservative Party voted against in the last Parliament. However, the Conservatives are going to get another chance and they will hopefully vote in favour of it this time.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House for the first time in the 43rd Parliament and take the opportunity to thank the great people of Vancouver Kingsway for once again placing their trust in me. It is a privilege and an honour to represent them in this Parliament.
    I am glad my hon. colleague raised the very critical issue of pharmacare. The throne speech talked about his government's desire to take steps toward national pharmacare. Those are the words in the throne speech. We know that the Liberal Party has been promising universal pharmacare and a timeline to accomplish it since 1997. The New Democrats campaigned on this issue in 2015 and worked hard to put this issue on the national stage. I am glad his government is paying attention to it.
    Will Canadians see his Liberal government introduce legislation in this Parliament to establish universal, comprehensive and publicly delivered pharmacare through the single-payer system?
    Mr. Speaker, it would be wonderful if all we had to do was make that decision internally in the House of Commons, on the floor of the chamber, but that is not possible. There is a need for us to work with the provinces.
    I was an MLA for many years and the health care critic. The provinces have a very important role, ultimately, on health care. If we are going to have a truly national health care program in every region for all Canadians, we need to work with the provinces. That is why I said at the end of my comments that we will potentially have to make some very tough decisions, but right now there are many different stakeholders.
    I am a very optimistic person on the national pharmacare plan and have been talking about it for many years. I hope to see it in place and the sooner it happens, the better.

  (1345)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I gather that my colleague really liked using the term “Conservative”. I wonder if he could use the term “Quebec” once or twice.
    I would really like him to tell me when the current government plans to increase the health transfers, so that Quebec—which manages hospitals, whereas the federal government does not—can improve the care provided by hospitals. When will Quebec see investments in green technologies? When will we be able to invest in electric vehicles rather than oil, pipelines, Trans Mountain and so forth? We want to hear the term “Conservative” a little less and the term “Quebec” a little more.
    What will they give Quebec?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will not disappoint the member. If he does a word search, he will find that I have also often said “Quebec” in the past. In fact, in the last budget, I gave Quebec credit as a province, because one of the initiatives it had in dealing with the environment was to have a rebate for electric cars. That is an initiative that we have adopted as a national government. Many wonderful, positive policy initiatives originate in the province of Quebec. Because of that, we have been able to ensure in some cases that it becomes a national policy.
    As a confederation, we need to recognize that there are many things that happen in the different regions, and Ottawa can play a role in ensuring that some of those wonderful things, such as the electric car rebate that was brought in by Quebec, can be carried forward to other jurisdictions. Today we have the opportunity to get a national rebate and a provincial rebate in the province of Quebec, and I believe that might even have been extended to one or two other provinces.
     Quebec is always a part of my thinking. After all, my historical roots ultimately go back to the province of Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech by my hon. colleague, and it seems he subscribes to the former minister of the environment's rule that if we speak loudly enough, people will believe us.
    Let me say this. My province of British Columbia is the largest producer of softwood. Over 140 communities are dependent on forestry. Just two weeks ago, in one fell swoop, we saw Mosaic Forest Management go out of business. That is 2,000 jobs. The next day Canfor, the largest producer of forestry products in our country, announced curtailments all across our province. This is on top of the thousands of jobs lost over the summer and the last year, yet there was not one mention in the Speech from the Throne—not this time, not the previous time. It seems like we are going back in time.
    The Liberals talk about it being the Prime Minister's job to stand up for Canadian jobs. It seems the only jobs the Liberals are standing up for are their own or SNC's. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, what the member is saying is not necessarily true. Does the throne speech make reference to the word “forest”? I do not believe so. Does it make reference to our industries and the importance of working hard for our industries? Yes, it does.
    We have all sorts of industries. Relatively speaking, some have done better than others. Some have challenges that others might not have. When I think of forestry and industry as a whole, over the years we have had some very lively debates not only here on the floor of the House of Commons, but also within our caucus.
    We have very progressive ministers. One is our Deputy Prime Minister, who is very much familiar with the issue and has a good history with respect to it, and who I believe will take the interests of that particular industry to heart and ensure, as many of my colleagues have, particularly those from B.C., the province of Quebec and others, that we continue to move forward on a very important issue that provides tens of thousands of jobs throughout the country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague about the fight against tax havens.
     The throne speech references this and mentions their illegal use. In my opinion, the main problem is the legal use of tax havens, especially by the banks on Bay Street.
    Is it not time to make illegal that which is immoral?
    The government said it is open to co-operating. Is that an avenue for collaboration?

  (1350)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as the member points out, there is a reference in the throne speech. I would remind the member across the way, as he was here in the last few years, that this government has invested close to a billion dollars in going after individuals who tried to avoid paying literally hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to ensure that those individuals are paying their fair share. This is something the government is committed to doing and has made reference to it. I can appreciate that the member across the way raised the issue.

[Translation]

    Before I give the hon. member for La Prairie the floor for his comments, I have to let him know that he will have about 10 minutes but that I will have to interrupt him at 2 p.m. He will get the rest of his time when we resume debate.
    The hon. member for La Prairie.
    Mr. Speaker, this being my first formal speech in the House, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my campaign volunteers, who worked so hard to get one more Bloc Québécois MP in this place. I am so grateful to them.
    I am also very pleased to thank the members of my hard-working election committee, without whom it would have been hard to win this election, because the Liberal candidate was a tough opponent, I have to say.
    I also want to thank my friends, who have always been there for me and who nudged me into politics and political life in the first place. It feels so good to know I have their support, and I am grateful to them for that.
    Obviously, I also want to thank my family, namely my wife, without whom nothing would be possible, and my children, who were willing to share their father with Quebec politics. I am very happy that they support what I am doing, and I really appreciate it.
    Lastly, I want to thank the people of La Prairie for their trust, though I have no illusions that it was just about me. The reason people put their trust in me is that they trust the Bloc Québécois and my leader. They voted for Alain Therrien, for the leader and for the party. I will work hard to represent them.
    When the people in my riding do great things, that is worth celebrating. I want to salute the two hockey teams in my region. Over the weekend, they put up an amazing showing at a tournament. Since hockey is a national sport, I could not let these achievements pass without a mention.
    The Étoiles du Richelieu Atom BB team won the provincial tournament in Blainville with an overtime goal. This was tough for the people of Candiac. I want to congratulate these hard-working kids, who were masterfully led by coaches Nicolas Leclerc and Martin Tétrault. There are no words to describe the parents' joy as they watched these boys hoist the cup.
    I also want to congratulate the Étoiles du St-Laurent Atom AA team for making it to the finals. The team's ranking cannot overshadow its exceptional talent, energy and journey.
    To wrap up my tribute to these kids, I just want to say, “Go Étoiles!”
    My father always told me that if I wanted to understand reality, politics or the economy, I had to know my history. It is from history that we are able to understand and even predict future events. I would say that the throne speech is no exception to my father's advice.
    The creation of Canada dates back to 1867. We need to understand why and how Canada was created to understand how it works today. Canada was not created by a mass movement or a revolution. It was not created by people taking to the streets and saying that they wanted to come together as one nation. The reason Canada was created is simple. It was a matter of economics.
    In 1840, our main trading partner was Great Britain, which decided in the early 1840s to start looking to Europe to do trade. In a way, Great Britain abandoned Canada.
    Discouraged at not being able to export to what some of us here would consider the motherland, Canada decided to turn to the United States. In 1854, it signed a reciprocity treaty that made it possible for Montrealers and local producers from Canada, which had not yet become Canada, to export to the United States, achieve some economies of scale and make a lot of profit.
    The reciprocity treaty they signed was in place from 1854 to 1864. This treaty would not be renewed because the American Civil War broke out and Great Britain made the regrettable decision to support the South. In retaliation, the Americans told their neighbours to the north that all trade between them was at an end.

  (1355)  

    Seized with panic, the Fathers of Confederation decided the most important thing was to protect the wealthy and provide a market where they could sell their goods. These people created that market artificially. That is what Canada is today. It was created to make rich people happy back in 1867. That was the Fathers of Confederation's only motivation.
    The new Canadian federation needed a strong central government. I can already hear the NDP and Liberal Party members clapping. They are descended directly from those founding fathers. To establish a strong government and avoid a civil war like the one to the south, which was a bad experiment if ever there was one, it was decided that all of the powers would be given to the federal government and the provinces would get the crumbs. That is what these people did.
    With regard to spending, the government held on to marine transportation, customs and borders, and rail transportation. The provinces were left with a pittance: health and education. It was a pittance at the time because the clergy took care of those things. The state was not yet secular. Maybe my colleagues will infer something from that.
    To ensure a strong central government, customs and excise duties were given to the federal government. The provinces were given income tax revenues, which were not very significant at the time. It was almost nothing.
    Those are the foundations of Canada, our country, or rather that of my colleagues opposite. How we operate is based on those foundations. The fundamental problem is that the Fathers of Confederation could not have foreseen what was to come.
    In the 1960s, health and education became the primary expenses in Canada. It is what was most important at the time. Today, half of all of Quebec's spending goes to health. The federal government is not there. The same goes for education. What was thought to be negligible at first became extremely significant. The only reason the federal government can intervene is because during Confederation in 1867, the federal government put the Canadian provinces in a position where they had to beg. Their revenues were so weak that they depended on federal transfers. They were under the control of the federal government.
    In 1954, following successive attacks by the federal government to control provincial income tax, the provinces finally caved. Only one province decided to take back control because it felt it was important for its people to have a financial tool to allow it to achieve its dreams and objectives. Only Maurice Duplessis, in 1954, said he wanted to keep that system. That is another reality.
    What does this mean? The throne speech mentions health, but that is not the government's concern. Health expenditures are the responsibility of the provincial governments and of Quebec. When the government starts saying that it would like to have this and that, it is not their business. What is important is for it to give the provinces and Quebec the money they need to fund their services and serve the people, who keep saying that health is their absolute priority. The government must respond to this appropriately and not in the way it did in the throne speech. That is important.
     According to the Thomson report tabled in 2014, maintaining health services for Canadians in light of inflation, aging and the increase in the population, as well as progress in health technologies, required a 5.6% annual increase. However, Harper and his gang started capping the increase at 3%. That is scandalous. The provinces are asking the government for an increase of at least 5.6%. That is what it needs to give them to maintain provincial health systems. That is why it is important to increase provincial transfers and to listen to Quebec and the provinces.

  (1400)  

    The hon. member will have 10 minutes to finish his speech when we resume debate.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, in 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau's government signed an agreement—
    Order, please. I know there are a lot of new members in the House and we get carried away, but I want to remind the hon. members that when they refer to someone else in the House, they refer to he or she by riding or by title, not by proper name.
    The hon. member for Fredericton.
    Mr. Speaker, I apologize.
    In 2017, the government signed an agreement with the Province of New Brunswick to invest $299.9 million in housing for the homeless and housing security for New Brunswickers, which began on April 1 of this year. Unfortunately, the funding seems to be trickling into the province too slowly to help the people who are desperately in need of affordable and secure housing today.
    According to a CBC story from last Wednesday, 500 New Brunswickers are currently homeless and 5,000 New Brunswickers' households are waiting for an affordable housing unit to become available.
     I see that the supplementary estimates are increasing funding to the CMHC by $9 million. It is my hope that some of this funding will be spent to help those facing homelessness as we enter the coldest season of the year.

Guru Nanak

    Mr. Speaker, this year, Sikhs across Canada and around the globe are celebrating the 550th gurpurab of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith.
     Guru Nanak Dev Ji walked over 25,000 kilometres across the globe to promote social equality, fight against discrimination and help the less fortunate. He delivered his message through action and verse, treated everyone as one and believed in the equality of all.
    Since 1947, millions of Sikhs were unable to visit his final home in Kartarpur, only to stare at it from across the border. However, their prayers did not go unanswered. This year Pakistan and India agreed to build a corridor from the India side of Punjab to the Pakistan side of Punjab for pilgrims to visit Guru Nanak's final home in Kartarpur, Pakistan. This corridor has now become a symbol of global co-operation and peace.
    Canada has the second-largest community of Sikhs in the world, and it is truly an honour for me to rise in the House to speak on this very special event.

North Okanagan—Shuswap

    Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour to be once again entrusted by the voters of the North Okanagan—Shuswap to be their voice in the 43rd Parliament.
    Last week, the Leader of the Opposition stated:
     None of the seats in this chamber belong to any of us, including the Prime Minister's seat. Instead, these seats all belong to the people who sent us here, and they sent us here to get to work. Canadians sent us here to make sure the country works for them.
    We all share a duty to work for a Canada that works for all Canadians, and I pledge to assist every constituent equally, regardless of partisan orientation.
    There are so many to thank for this honour, for it is their work and their support that made this possible: campaign teams, volunteers, staff, donors, friends, family and voters who stand with us as we strive to do our best to serve all Canadians. We take our seats for them. I am truly honoured to be here.

  (1405)  

Holodomor

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the 86th anniversary of the Holodomor, the famine genocide in Ukraine in 1932-1933. Nineteen people per minute, 1,200 per hour and 28,000 per day were dying of famine at the height of the Holodomor. The world was silent and millions died as a result.
    My grandmother Olena was a survivor of the Holodomor and she once told me that she hoped that the victims of the Holodomor would not only be remembered but that they would be honoured. Honouring them, she said, meant not just remembering them, but learning the mistakes of the Holodomor and taking steps to make sure a crime like this would never happen again.
    Unfortunately, recently a University of Alberta lecturer, Dougal MacDonald, did just the opposite. He denied the existence of the Holodomor and he called it a “lie” and a “myth”. I join the calls of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Ukrainian Canadian Students' Union and thousands of Canadians who have called on the university to take significant and meaningful action against this genocide denial.
    Let us do as my grandmother would have asked if she were here today. Let us remember the victims, let us commemorate the victims, let us honour them.
    Vichna yim pamyat.

[Translation]

University of Montreal Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Saint-Hyacinthe

    Mr. Speaker, from this morning until December 12, the Université de Montréal Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Saint-Hyacinthe will be hosting a team of evaluators from the American Veterinary Medical Association as part of the process for renewing its accreditation.
    This institution is the only French-language veterinary college in America. It is training 400 students for a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine and is renowned as a unique research centre and unparalleled medical complex. It makes all of Quebec proud.
    The faculty lost its accreditation in 1999. It was clear that the faculty was underfunded compared with the other three veterinary colleges in the rest of Canada. My Bloc Québécois predecessor, Yvan Loubier, fought tirelessly against Ottawa's refusal to contribute its share to fund the necessary adjustments. By contrast, the great Bernard Landry's government wasted no time making significant investments.
    Thanks to the Bloc's sustained efforts, the funding was granted, resulting in the faculty receiving full accreditation in 2012.
    We are proud—
    The member for Châteauguay—Lacolle.

Propane Shortage

    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the people of Châteauguay—Lacolle for renewing their trust in me. I would also like to thank my team of volunteers and my family, who supported me throughout the election campaign.
    The propane shortage caused by the CN strike was a major blow for farmers, particularly grain farmers. People in my region and across Quebec were hard hit. I met with about a hundred of them, who had gathered outside my office on November 22 for a UPA Montérégie demonstration. I want to thank the leaders of that organization for explaining both the economic and human impacts of this situation, so that I could share that information with our government ministers.
    We are relieved that the strike was over quickly and that the supply was restored.
    I thank UPA Montérégie for this peaceful visit. I look forward to continuing to work together.

[English]

Cannabis

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying how grateful I am to the constituents of Niagara West for putting their trust in me once again. They gave me their support and confidence, and I will work hard every day to ensure their interests are brought to Parliament.
    Our beautiful community of Pelham, Lincoln West, Lincoln, Grimsby, Wainfleet and part of West St. Catharines offers terrific attractions by our warm, welcoming residents. There are, however, common challenges in my riding.
    First is the odour and light pollution created and produced by cannabis greenhouses. Second are the issues presented by cannabis co-ops. I heard my constituents loud and clear prior to and during the campaign. They asked me to take further action on these two issues, and I will continue to do exactly that.
     I will be exploring all avenues to tackle odour and light pollution created by cannabis greenhouses, as well as ways that we can address the issues of cannabis co-ops.
    I want to again thank my constituents for sending me to Ottawa to represent them and I look forward to serving them in this new 43rd Parliament.

Chancellor of Dalhousie University

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the former member for Kings—Hants, the Hon. Scott Brison, for being named Chancellor of Dalhousie University. The graduate of Hants West Rural High succeeds the former deputy prime minister, the Hon. Anne McLellan, who was a graduate of Hants North Rural High, in the role.
    It is worth noting that Mr. Brison becomes the third resident of Kings—Hants to be named chancellor at Dalhousie, after Sir Graham Day of Hantsport served in the role during the 1990s.
    Education and innovation play an important role of shaping a future Canada and ensuring we remain competitive in a global economy. Scott will be an asset for Dalhousie, and I have no doubt that Scott will serve the university, Nova Scotia and Canada well in the role moving forward.
     I would ask all members of the House to join me in wishing him well.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Community of Verner

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in recognition of the community of Verner's 125th anniversary in 2020.
    It is important to me to recognize my francophone heritage in Ontario. I would like to pay tribute to all the individuals who have played key roles in French-speaking Ontario and to our francophiles. There are those whose actions have had a detrimental effect on the growth and development of francophone communities outside Quebec.
    I am proud of my Nickel Belt ancestors: my Aubin and Serré great-grandparents, who immigrated to Field and Sturgeon Falls in 1870, and my Racine and Éthier great-grandparents, who came to Verner and Cache Bay in 1880. I am proud of my grandmother, Victoire Aubin-Trudel, a descendant of the Mattawa/North Bay Algonquin First Nation.
    Ontario's francophonie is deeply rooted and very much alive. I am grateful to the leaders, communities and volunteers for their dedication.
    Congratulations to Verner on 125 years!

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your election.
     As I rise in the House for the first time, I express my gratitude to the constituents of Yellowhead for placing their trust and confidence in me to be their representative in Ottawa.
    To build unity across this country, we must support each other. I want to remind the Prime Minister that he said that we all needed to work together.
     I recommend that we eliminate the use of foreign oil in Canada. The majority of countries we are importing from have low environmental standards and a record of violating human rights. Instead, we should rely solely on Canadian oil to fulfill our energy needs.
    Also, we need to produce more direct consumer products from all our industries, particularly agricultural and forestry. If we want to build a strong economy, we need to start at home by supporting each other.
    The time for words is long past. Now is the time for action.

Cape Breton—Canso

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise for the very first time in this House to address this special place as the member of Parliament for Cape Breton—Canso.
    First, I would like to thank the people of Cape Breton—Canso for putting their trust in me as their voice in Ottawa. I would also like to thank the extremely dedicated group of volunteers who helped me to get here. Of course, I would like to recognize the long-serving member before me who I know is very familiar to the House, Mr. Rodger Cuzner. I know that not only his poetry and sharp wit, but his collegiality as well, will be missed.
     The past six months have been a truly remarkable experience, getting to know so many community members and leaders, knocking on thousands of doors, and making thousands and thousands of calls. I am inspired by the level of dedication and commitment I witnessed at every level within my riding.
     I am ready to get to work with our Prime Minister and this government to take serious action on climate change, investing in infrastructure and jobs, implementing a universal pharmacare plan, advancing reconciliation for indigenous people and making life more affordable for Canadians. I am ready and I know everyone here is ready to move this country forward.

Simcoe—Grey

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the people of Simcoe—Grey for putting their trust in me as their member of Parliament. It is an amazing honour. I also want to thank my wife, Colleen and my daughters, Lexi and Sarah. Their love and support have been so valuable throughout this whole time.
    Simcoe—Grey is one of the largest and greatest ridings in the country. We are blessed with a diverse economy, from the Honda Canada manufacturing plant in Alliston to productive farms and orchards throughout. We are a year-round tourist destination, from skiing at Blue Mountain to Canada's longest freshwater beach at Wasaga Beach. We are also home to Canadian Forces Base Borden, the largest military training base in Canada. As such, one of my top priorities will be ensuring that current armed forces members get the right equipment and that they and all of our veterans get the treatment they rightly deserve.

  (1415)  

Niagara Falls

    Mr. Speaker, what a tremendous honour it is for me to be standing in my place making my first remarks as the newly elected member of Parliament for the riding of Niagara Falls.
    First, I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your recent election. I look forward to working with you and all hon. members of the House as we work to serve the needs and interests of all Canadians across this great country.
    On the day of my swearing in, I was honoured to have the Clerk of the House conduct my ceremony. His words of advice that day were to enjoy the moment and realize what an honour, privilege and responsibility it is to serve. They resonate with me still.
    I would like to thank the good people of Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake for sending me here to represent them. I stand here today humbled by their decision and for the trust they have placed in me. For a young man who always dreamed this day could one day be possible, I will never forget this moment and the tremendous responsibility they have now placed in me to represent them.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, solving the national housing crisis is one of the most important issues that we face. I have long advocated for access to safe, secure, affordable housing as a basic human right.
    In 1993, the federal Liberals cancelled the national social housing program. That one action caused Canada to lose more than half a million units of social and co-op housing that would otherwise have been built in communities all across the country. Having those units would have put Canada's housing affordability in a dramatically different position than where we are today. In east Vancouver, the situation is so severe that we have had a tent city in Oppenheimer Park for more than a year.
    Solving the homelessness crisis is entirely possible. If people can go to the moon, surely we can actually get housing built. During the election, the NDP called for half a million units of affordable housing to be built and for those funds to flow now. I believe that the federal government must step up and do its part. We need to work with the cities, the province and non-profits to get the housing built. Together, we can end homelessness.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging the people of Thérèse-De Blainville and thanking them for putting their trust in me. I especially want to acknowledge Émilie Sansfaçon, who is here with us and who received two cancer diagnoses in the same year.
    Two cancers is too much for anyone. Apparently, it is too much for the employment insurance system as well. Employment insurance sickness benefits max out at 15 weeks. If treatments last longer, then that is too bad for the sick person. If, for those like Émilie, cancer strikes twice, then they have to make do without EI assistance, even though they have contributed to it their entire adult life. Émilie had to remortgage her home and got into debt; she had to rely on her family for help because she cannot count on us.
    When we face adversity, we can give up or we can fight. Émilie Sansfaçon chose to fight, as did Marie-Hélène Dubé, who has been fighting for 10 years. We can fix this problem once and for all. We just need to extend—
    Order. The hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.

[English]

Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon

    Mr. Speaker, today I stand for the first time as the member of Parliament for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.
    During the election I asked voters to consider the following, which bears repeating:
     Was I open, transparent and accessible? Did I do my honest part to build positive relationships with indigenous communities? Did I fight for key sectors of our economy, such as the struggling forestry sector? Did I advocate for needed infrastructure such as the Mission sewage pipeline? Did I fight for a cleaner environment to protect the Fraser River for future generations? Did I fight for a more accountable federal government? Was I there when people really needed my help?
    I ask the entire electorate of my riding to hold me to these standards. I stand here to serve them. I thank them for this honour.

Hull-Aylmer

    Mr. Speaker, as we begin this 43rd Parliament, where 338 women and men take their place to better represent Canadians across the country, I would like to make a modest proposal.

  (1420)  

[Translation]

    To all of my parliamentary colleagues: we need to listen more carefully to one another. Too often in the House, we cut each other off and bicker, when we should be taking the time to listen to each other more.
    Being an MP is one of the greatest privileges one can have. We all worked very hard to earn our place here in the House of Commons, where legendary figures have stood before us.

[English]

    Let us honour the choices made by our constituents and respect each other more. Let us listen to each other. It is only by doing so that we will all build a better Canada.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said that the economy is doing well, but that is not true. Last month, 71,000 Canadians lost their jobs, and personal bankruptcies were at an all-time high. Half of Canadians are less than $200 away from insolvency.
    Will the economic statement include tax cuts for small businesses, reductions in red tape and a plan to balance the budget?
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize just how much families have suffered and how many people have lost jobs in recent years.
    This is why we will continue to invest in helping these families. We realize that even though the economy is doing well and we have created more than one million jobs over the past four years, not everyone has benefited.
    This is why we have chosen to invest in families, invest in communities and cut taxes. This is the first thing we did when we came to power in 2015, and it is the first thing we are going to do now. We will cut taxes for the Canadians who need it most.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the last time the Prime Minister promised to lower taxes, he actually raised them for the majority of the population.
     The failed economic policies of the Prime Minister have left Canadians with an economy that is not working for anyone. Businesses are leaving Canada and foreign direct investment has dropped by 56% under the government. Government spending is out of control. Canada's debt is blooming and we are on the edge of a recession.
    Will the Prime Minister act and provide a fall economic update that includes a plan to balance the budget so that businesses will stay in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, instead of talking down the Canadian economy, on this side of the aisle we are focused on investing in it. The very first thing we did in 2015, and the member opposite remembers it well, was to lower taxes for the middle class and raise them on the wealthiest 1%.
    Today, we are doing exactly the same thing. We are lowering taxes for tens of millions of Canadians that will lift tens of thousands of Canadians out of poverty and let hundreds of thousands more no longer have to pay any income taxes. We know that supporting Canadians, investing in the economy and lowering taxes for people who need it is the way to continue serving this great country into the future.
    Mr. Speaker, it is the Prime Minister who is actively working to constrain Canada's economy and this approach has left Canada on the brink of a recession. Canada's productivity and competitiveness continue to decline. Wages have barely increased, the U.S. economy has outgrown Canada's in three of the last four years, five of the G8 countries have lower unemployment rates than Canada and we lost 71,000 jobs last month.
    When will the Prime Minister open his eyes, stop doubling down on failed policies and just change course?
    Mr. Speaker, the decision we made four years ago and the decision we continue to make is to invest in Canadians who need support, invest in our communities and invest in a brighter future for all. That is exactly what we have been doing. It is what we will continue to do.
    The next step of that is the very first thing we are doing today is announcing that we will be lowering taxes, as promised, for tens of millions of Canadians, lifting 40,000 people out of poverty, making sure that hundreds of thousands of Canadians no longer have to pay any income taxes. This is help for Canadians at a time when they need it.

  (1425)  

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are mindful that this could be the second Christmas that Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig spend in a Chinese prison. All Canadians stand in solidarity with their families and friends and we must send a signal that such conduct by the Chinese is unacceptable.
    What steps will the Prime Minister take to show that diplomatic hostage-taking is unacceptable for a world power?
    Mr. Speaker, our heart goes out to the two Canadians detained in China unjustly. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have spent a long time in detention in China. We think of their families, we think of their communities. We think of their loved ones, but we also stay focused on them, as we have over the past year.
    We have continued to engage directly, including myself directly with President Xi, to highlight how important it is to bring these Canadians home. We will continue to work very hard, as I know all Canadians will, to send that clear message that those Canadians must be returned home.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I want to remind hon. members that the hon. member for Durham is asking questions and is trying to hear the answers. I do not want him to be disrupted, so I do not want anybody to shout from either side while the question is being asked or the answer is coming forward.
    The hon. member for Durham.
    Mr. Speaker, 75 years ago this week, thousands of Canadians were fighting to defend Hong Kong in the Battle of Hong Kong during the Second World War. In the last few months, millions of Hong Kongers have taken to the streets to protest the erosion of their rights under the one country, two systems agreement with mainland China. Canadians value liberty. We have 300,000 Canadian citizens in Hong Kong and we have spilled blood there as a nation. Will the Prime Minister stand in this House today to show his support for the civil liberties of Hong Kongers?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear over the past months in our support for the people of Hong Kong in defence of their human rights. We have been long-standing supporters of the one country, two systems principle and the rule of law. We have been calling consistently for a de-escalation of violence and hostilities and have asked the authorities to engage in a respectful and non-violent manner with the citizens of Hong Kong, including those 300,000 Canadians for whom we are very concerned.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, I hope you have a great week.
    Let us imagine that I have a cousin named Marcel who works in a plant. The plant closes down. Marcel has paid into EI and is entitled to up to 50 weeks of benefits, assuming he paid the necessary premiums.
     Émilie is with us today. She is sick. She has cancer. She is entitled to 15 weeks of benefits, even though she too paid into EI. There is some talk of making it 26 weeks, but that would still be unfair, because fairness would mean 50.
    Does the Prime Minister agree that this situation raises serious issues of compassion and fairness?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that far too many Canadians are grappling with serious illnesses and are worried about being able to get the treatment they need and relying on family. We know that it is important to increase EI benefits for the sick. We know that many, many families are suffering because of this. We are going to work to increase EI sickness benefits, as we promised.
    Mr. Speaker, given the time that could be allocated to us, we may end up doing something that might not be sufficient. I am asking the Prime Minister clearly whether he will consider 50 weeks in order to be fair.
    Talking about 35 million people does not prove that a person is compassionate, but talking to one person can. I therefore invite the Prime Minister to meet with Émilie this afternoon. She has travelled to Ottawa to meet the Prime Minister. Will he meet with her?
    Before I recognize the Prime Minister, I would like to remind members, many of whom are new, that they are not to make reference to people in the gallery.
    The right hon. Prime Minister.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are all doing our job here in the House of Commons to properly represent and especially serve millions of Canadians, who all have their own challenges. I am always very happy to meet with people we can serve better, to listen to their priorities and to learn from their stories.
    I will do everything I can not only to meet with her, but also to help her with the problems that she and many other Canadians are currently experiencing.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal tax plan will not help 47% of Canadians, but we have a plan that will help them.

[English]

    By targeting the measure to help only those who need it most, we can free up $1.6 billion to fund a national dental care program. This would help 4.3 million Canadians and save our health care system millions of dollars.

[Translation]

    Will the Prime Minister do what is necessary to help those most in need?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the middle-class tax cut we are putting forward today will not only lift tens of thousands of people out of poverty, it will allow hundreds of thousands more to not have to pay income taxes at all. We know that by lowering taxes for around 20 million Canadians, we will make an appreciable difference in the lives of many people. This is the focus we are taking. This is the commitment we made to Canadians during the election campaign. We certainly hope to see support from all sides of the House on this measure.

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, fine words cannot hide the facts.

[English]

    In opposition, the Prime Minister condemned Stephen Harper's cuts to health care.

[Translation]

    Now he is making the same cuts to health care, and he has given $14 billion to the richest corporations.

[English]

    We are in a health care crisis right now. Will the Prime Minister commit today to increase health care funding to help out people, or is he too busy helping out his corporate friends?
    Mr. Speaker, over the last mandate we were pleased to work out health transfers with the provinces. We signed agreements with all 10 provinces and three territories to move forward on funding for health care on things like home care, mental health services and others.
    We know there is more to do, which is why we allocated $6 billion in our electoral platform for investments in our health care system, including things like universal pharmacare. We will continue to work with the provinces and invest. This year, we are spending $40 billion in health care transfers to the provinces.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, families in western Canada are desperate. Jobs are being lost and people are feeling completely hopeless. The throne speech was a chance for the Prime Minister to show western Canadians that he understands the struggles they are going through, that he cares and that he was prepared to act, but that did not happen. Not only is the Prime Minister ignoring the crisis, but he is moving ahead with destructive policies like his no-more-pipelines bill.
    Does the Prime Minister realize that the path he is on when it comes to addressing the concerns of western Canadians is taking all of us in this country in the wrong direction?
    Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to assure the members opposite and all Canadians that our government takes very seriously the economic challenges that the Canadian Prairies are facing. If I may, I would like to quote Premier Kenney, who said at lunchtime today that he believes a strong Alberta is essential for a strong Canada, and I would add a strong Manitoba and a strong Saskatchewan.
    We will achieve that if all of us in this House—
    The hon. opposition House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, the crisis that is being ignored is not only in Alberta and Saskatchewan. There is a crisis going on with forestry workers in British Columbia. Mills are shutting down and people are out of work, but there is no mention of a softwood lumber deal in the Speech from the Throne. At every turn, and we just saw it, these Liberals are turning a blind eye to half of this country. This is no way to lead this great nation.
    When will the Prime Minister start acting in the interests of all Canadians, not just those he is trying to get votes from?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, in 2017, our government made over $1.49 billion in funding and financing available to the forest sector, we launched our softwood lumber action plan to support workers and communities and we introduced funding through the strategic innovation fund specifically for forestry.
    Building on our work to date, we will be including additional investments to help this sector innovate, diversify and grow.
    I just want to say that some members have wonderful voices that carry very well. They just do not realize how strong their voices are. I am sure they are just whispering to the person next to them, so I just want to remind them to whisper even lower.

[Translation]

Intergovernmental Relations

    Mr. Speaker, the throne speech clearly shows that the Liberals are only spouting rhetoric and not taking concrete action to meet Quebec's specific demands.
    Even more surprising, the Bloc Québécois has agreed to fully support this throne speech, even though it pushed hard for Quebec's demands during the election campaign.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us what he plans to do to specifically address the Quebec government's demands?
    Mr. Speaker, we work very well with the Government of Quebec, whether on culture, infrastructure or the environment.
    There are 25 Quebec members in this place who love Quebec and stand up for Quebec.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, during the election campaign, there were calls for a single tax return for Quebeckers, a third link for the greater Quebec City area, and a solution to the problem of illegal border crossings.
    On Friday, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities suggested that there is no third link project in the greater Quebec City area. However, the Quebec government earmarked $350 million for that project in its last budget.
    The people of Quebec need to know where they stand, so can the Prime Minister tell us whether he supports the third link project for the greater Quebec City area, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of being in Quebec City last week, along with the Deputy Prime Minister. We had some excellent discussions on a wide range of topics with Mayor Labeaume and ministers from the Quebec government.
    The day after our visit, I felt that the press reports properly reflected the Canadian government's willingness to work collaboratively with both the City of Quebec and the Government of Quebec for the well-being of all Quebeckers.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, for 10 years the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund produced real results for the lake by improving water quality and restoring wildlife, but with more still to do, the Liberals cancelled the fund in 2017. After Canada's Conservatives committed to bringing it back, the Liberals finally followed suit. At least they know what a good idea is when they see one.
    However, it looks like just another example of all talk and no action. There was no response to my letter to the Prime Minister and no mention in the throne speech.
    Will the Liberal government restore the Lake Simcoe cleanup fund?
    Mr. Speaker, this government has invested significant dollars in water, in cleaning up water in the Great Lakes, in Lake Winnipeg and in lakes and rivers across the country.
    We will continue to move forward to ensure that we are ensuring that water quality is safe and is effective on a go-forward basis.

Agriculture and Agri-food

    Mr. Speaker, canola farmers in my riding and across the country have had a difficult year under the Liberals. They are in a desperate position because of lost access to markets in China, a railway strike and the higher cost of drying their oilseeds and grain because of the carbon tax. There are also three million acres of canola still buried by snow, yet last week's throne speech made no mention whatsoever of addressing this crisis.
    Why do the Liberals not have a plan to help these struggling canola farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, our government always stood shoulder to shoulder with our farmers and ranchers from the very beginning. We have reopened the market in China for beef and pork and we are working very hard to reopen the market for canola.
    We are also making improvements to the business risk management programs because we know that the risks that our farmers are facing are different regarding commercial disruption as well, and we are working on that.

  (1440)  

[Translation]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, surveys ask the same question every election and always get the same answer. Health is Quebeckers' number one priority. Quebec and every province heard the will of their residents. Last week, they all demanded a 5.2% increase in health transfers.
    Will the government respect the priority of Quebec, the provinces, and above all, the people?
    Mr. Speaker, our health care system is a symbol of pride, and we are making the necessary investments to keep it that way.
    This year, more than $40 billion will go to the provinces and territories to support our health care system. We continue to work with the provinces and territories to ensure that our system meets the needs of people across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, a 5.2% increase in health transfers is the bare minimum needed to care for Quebeckers. We need money to hire much-needed nurses and doctors. We need money to improve quality of life for our seniors. We need money for home care.
    Will the government listen to Quebeckers and increase health transfers to 5.2%?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member opposite that our health care system is a symbol of who we are as Canadians, and we have been making significant investments to keep it strong. This year, for example, we will provide over $40 billion to the provinces and territories to support the system, over $6 billion more than the Harper Conservatives' last year in office. This is accompanied by our $11 billion investment in mental health and home care services, the largest in Canadian history.
    We are going to continue to work hard together to make sure that our health care system delivers for all Canadians so they have equal access to quality care close to home.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we will not get an answer on the 5.2%.
    Quebeckers are demanding an increase in health transfers. This is why the Bloc Québécois moved an amendment to the amendment to the throne speech to include an increase. We also added a clause about imposing royalties on web giants. We specified that trade agreements must not breach the supply management system anymore. In addition, our amendment to the amendment states that the government must respect Quebec's environmental protection and land use planning laws. These are all priorities for Quebec.
    Will the government vote in favour of our amendment to the amendment to include these priorities in the throne speech, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, we are very aware of the demands of the Government of Quebec. We are good at working with others.
    Earlier, I responded to my colleague's question on several files, including culture, infrastructure and the environment. It is clear to this government that the whole culutral issue and the importance of investing in our creators, artists and artisans are fundamental to what we do.
    The government has invested more in culture than any other government in the history of Canada. In discussions, as I told my colleague, we are always prepared to look at others' ideas.

[English]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, Huawei and other Chinese telecommunications firms have been deemed a risk by Canadian national security experts. China is known to have hacked Canadian companies and governments and spread disinformation in our own country. China is not acting like a friend or a partner. We know that Huawei is a real threat that could compromise our Internet communications.
    When will the Liberal government finally make the decision to ban Huawei?
    Mr. Speaker, while it is entirely inappropriate to speak of a particular company, a very thorough examination of the associated security and economic considerations in the 5G decision is well under way. We want to make sure that Canadians have access to the most beneficial 5G technology and, at the same time, we will make sure that Canadians are safe and that their systems will not be compromised.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, it is entirely appropriate to speak of Huawei. Our four Five Eyes allies banned the Chinese giant from the roll-out because they perceive Huawei as a threat to national security and privacy.
    Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States banned Huawei. The Americans even warned us that Huawei could be a problem and would be required to give personal information to the Chinese government.
    When will the Liberals ban Huawei? Would they rather see Canadians' personal information in the hands of the Chinese?

  (1445)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government takes the security of Canada's telecommunication networks very seriously. Since 2013, the Canadian security review program has worked to mitigate the cybersecurity risks that stem from designated equipment and services, including the companies mentioned.
    We will continue to work with telecommunication service providers and the vendors through this collaborative program to mitigate the security concerns. We will examine all security, economic and global considerations when making this determination.
    When the hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis asked a question, I was having a hard time hearing the answer. I want to remind everyone that when someone is answering a question not to shout across the floor. Again, as I said when we first started, what if members' children are watching? We do not want to be embarrassed.
    The hon. member for Cloverdale—Langley City.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the voters of Cloverdale—Langley City for the honour of serving them in the House as their member of Parliament.
    The recently defeated former minister of public safety, Ralph Goodale, had promised a decision on whether to ban Huawei before the recent election. Then he flip-flopped and said it would come immediately after. Here we are: Canada's allies have found serious security concerns about Huawei.
    Will the Liberals do the right thing to protect Canadians from Chinese espionage and immediately ban Huawei from Canada's 5G network?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member opposite and every member of the House that our national security agencies work tirelessly to identify all security threats and to protect Canadian interests. Our government respects scientific integrity, but we will continue to listen carefully to the advice of our public security officials as we make this important decision for Canadians.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, I am a very proud Albertan and my family has been among the proud workers who have helped build our province and our country for generations. Now these same workers are struggling, but the government is not listening. The government needs to commit to working with Albertans to diversify our economy and to help create new jobs. The federal government can help people who have lost their jobs, before they lose hope.
    When will Albertans finally get the support they deserve?
    Mr. Speaker, we have invested more than $500 million in our western diversification agency, but we know that we have to do more and we know that we have to be there for the workers of western Canada.
    It will be a pleasure to work with my colleague on this file.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, workers in Alberta need new jobs in a new economy. It is time to take action.
    Speaking of inaction, the Liberals dragged their heels for years, refusing to go after web giants that do not pay their fair share and that believe they are above the law. This is hurting our artists. It is hurting our creators, our businesses and our regional media.
    The Minister of Canadian Heritage is just getting to know his new portfolio, but can he provide any assurance right now that, come January, he will have a clear plan for keeping his promise and taxing web giants?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.
    I would like to take a moment to thank the voters of Laurier—Sainte-Marie who did me the great honour of choosing me to represent them in the House. I also want to congratulate you on your election, Mr. Speaker.
    I want to reassure my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. Our position is clear: anyone who profits from the system must contribute to it. We must protect our culture online, like everywhere else. Our laws predate the Internet, and we made a commitment to update them. That is what we will do. We made a commitment to do so in the first year of our term.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, first I want to thank the people of Vimy for doing me the honour of letting me be their member of Parliament.

[English]

    This morning, the finance minister tabled a notice of ways and means motion that proposes to lower taxes for the middle class and people working hard to join it by increasing the basic personal amount to $15,000 by 2023.

  (1450)  

[Translation]

    Can the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity tell the House what this change means for middle-class families?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as our first order of business, we are lowering taxes for the middle class and people working hard to join it, in the member's riding of Vimy and all across the country.

[Translation]

    Starting in 2020, this change will put more money in the pockets of Canadians by increasing the amount of money they can earn before paying federal income tax. Once this measure is fully implemented in 2023, it should allow nearly 20 million Canadians to save hundreds of dollars in taxes every year.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, over the course of the Prime Minister's time in office, Canada's status on the world stage has taken more hits than one could imagine. Whether he is dancing his way through India or suggesting that he admires China's basic dictatorship, the Prime Minister has embarrassed Canada every step of the way.
    Last week, the Prime Minister was caught mocking the leader of our closest ally and biggest trading partner behind his back like a high school gossip. The Prime Minister is being parodied on network television.
    When will the Prime Minister grow up and start taking his role seriously?
    Mr. Speaker, let me assure the hon. member and all Canadians that, thanks very much to the Prime Minister's work, we have an excellent working relationship with our American neighbours. Let me say, in the lives of ordinary Canadians, there is perhaps no issue in our relationship with the United States that matters more than trade.
    The Prime Minister raised the ratification of the new NAFTA and other trade issues in his meeting last week with the President and we have been working intensively, including having many conversations over the weekend and this morning with our American partners, on getting the deal finalized.

[Translation]

Forestry Industry

    Mr. Speaker, seeing as this is my first time speaking in the House, I want to take this opportunity to thank the voters of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord for re-electing me. It is a privilege to represent them.
    The Prime Minister went to another international summit and, as usual, there was another diplomatic incident. Meanwhile, our trade agreements and relations are paying the price, and our industries are suffering. While we wait for an agreement on softwood lumber to be signed, our forestry industry hangs in the balance.
    How does the Prime Minister think his latest blunder will help our already struggling forestry industry?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure my hon. colleague and all Canadians that our relations with our neighbours to the south are excellent, especially with regard to international trade.
    I want to make it clear to all my colleagues and all Canadians that Canada has better access to the American market than any other country in the world today. This gives Canadians a major advantage, and we need to continue this important work.

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the environment minister says liquefied natural gas is a long way off from helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions. LNG can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing coal-generated electricity 60 to 90 megatonnes annually, the equivalent of 10% of Canada's annual greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention all the jobs it is going to create.
    Why is the minister looking down on LNG when the minister should be trying to promote it?
    Mr. Speaker, what my hon. colleague refers to is the discussions under article 6 that are going on at the Conference of the Parties in Madrid, which I and members of all the other parties in the House are attending for the rest of this week.
    The focus of the discussions on article 6 is to set in place a framework to allow us to establish the basis for trade between parties. It is important that those are transparent, that there is no double counting and that there is integrity to the system.
    We are focused on ensuring that the architecture is in place to enable us to look at an emissions trading system, but the first step is to ensure that it is real.
    Mr. Speaker, liquefied natural gas represents a great opportunity for Canada to be a world leader in clean energy, job creation and the global fight against climate change. However, the environment minister now says we have to be very careful with LNG.
    Last month, 18,000 British Columbians lost their jobs. LNG is an amazing opportunity to help people get back to work.
    Instead of the minister thumbing his nose at new jobs, why will he not stand up and defend LNG?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the first step in this process is to ensure that we have in place rules that are real. Climate change is real. If we are going to allow for emissions trading in this world, it needs to be under a system that has integrity, that there is no double counting and that there is transparency in the system.
    At the end of the day, the focus for all of us coming out of the election should be fighting climate change and ensuring we are doing our part from a domestic perspective to meet the targets to which we committed to our international partners. That is exactly what this government is going to do.

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, we were all moved by Friday's ceremony to commemorate the anti-feminist attack at the École Polytechnique.
    Thirty years ago, the lives of 14 women were cut short simply because they were women. However, 30 years later, the weapon used against them is still available. It is not even a restricted weapon. The Prime Minister said that these weapons have no place in our communities.
    Will the government intervene to prohibit the weapon that was used to kill 14 women at the École Polytechnique?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government has worked tirelessly over the past four years to better keep illegal guns off our streets by passing Bill C-71.
    Much more needs to be done. In particular, we have spoken about the presence of military-style assault weapons that have no place in Canadian society. They are designed for the battlefield and not for our communities. For more than four decades, police chiefs across the country have been calling for the banning of these weapons. We heard the most compelling and heartfelt testimony from the victims of the terrible crime at École Polytechnique just on Friday.
    We will continue to listen to Canadians and we will have more to say about the next steps in the very near future.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, someone needs to stop listening and do his job.
    We have been talking about this for 30 years. It is time to take action. The government can do it. We support the government in its desire to ban assault weapons, but the weapon used to kill 14 young women in a school in 1989 must be added to the list of prohibited weapons.
    Will the government commit to prohibiting the Ruger Mini-14 and implement a buyback program for those who own such a weapon?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I hope that in the coming days everyone in the House will have an opportunity to do his or her job and to keep Canadians safe.
    We are compiling a list of those weapons that will meet the definition of military style assault weapons and it will be published at the appropriate time.
     I would simply remind the member opposite that would we release the names of those weapons prior to the publication of that order in council, it would merely precipitate a surge of sales in the market, which is something no one wants to see happen.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, families across western Canada are hurting. People in my riding tell me their stories about losing their jobs and are forced to sell their homes. In the last two years, over $100 billion worth of investments in the energy sector have been cancelled.
    Bill C-69, the no more pipelines bill, is going to make that even worse. Hundreds of thousands Canadians are out of work because of failed Liberal policies. Many premiers are united against Bill C-69.
     When will the Liberals listen and amend their job-killing legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, certainly all Canadians are worried about the economic issues that are faced by the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Impact Assessment Act, which is now in force, was intended to enable projects to move speedily through the environmental assessment program so good projects could be built. It is far superior legislation to what was put into place in 2012, which has resulted in numerous project delays.
     It is important for us that we have a process that will protect the environment, that will enable strong, robust economies across the country, and that is exactly what the Impact Assessment Act does.

  (1500)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after four years of this Liberal government, Canada has never been so divided. The problem is that the provinces have been pitted against one another and what was just local and quaint at the time, that is “Wexit”, has now become a compelling political reality.
    The government is doing absolutely nothing to resolve this situation. Even worse, 200,000 Canadians have lost their jobs in the energy sector. One way to get these people back to work would be to scrap Bill C-69.
    Why does the government not do that? The bill was condemned by the Government of Quebec.
    Mr. Speaker, the Impact Assessment Act kept an important promise that we made to Canadians, and that is to reform a broken system and restore public confidence in how decisions are made about major projects.
    The best rules that we put in place to review major projects will cut assessment times in half, increase transparency, protect the environment and encourage investment.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, on Friday, the Prime Minister said he was open to “making improvements if necessary” to his anti-energy, anti-business Bill C-69. We assure him that it is necessary, because more than 200,000 Canadians have already lost their oil and gas jobs, over $100 billion in major projects are gone and those losses hurt all sectors in all provinces.
     However, last spring, the Liberals rejected 80% of amendments to fix the bill. Today, every single premier still wants major changes.
     When will the Liberals finally overhaul their Bill C-69?
    Mr. Speaker, the Impact Assessment Act has been put in place to ensure that good projects can move ahead, that we can ensure that the environment is protected, that good projects proceed and that investments proceed. It is a far superior process to what was put in place when Stephen Harper gutted the environmental assessment process in 2012. It will ensure that good projects proceed.
    This morning I had the opportunity to meet with the minister of environment for Alberta. We discussed this issue. We have been consistent in saying that we are open to how we actually implement that. We will work together with all provinces and territories from coast to coast to coast.

Homelessness

    Mr. Speaker, according to the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, “Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy” is the single most important change in national homelessness agenda for over 20 years, and we are seeing the positive results across Canada. Although we have made great progress, we know there is still work to be done.
    Could the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development please explain to the House how we will achieve our goal of reducing the number of chronically homeless people in Canada by 50%?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his hard work in the fight against homelessness. When any member of our society ends up on the street, we are all diminished. That is why our redesign strategy has doubled funding in the fight against homelessness by 2021, and we are making more communities eligible for this important funding.
     While there is still work to do, “Reaching Home”, Canada's first-ever national housing strategy, will enable us to not only meet but hopefully exceed our already ambitious homelessness reduction targets.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, on November 17, the Liberals broke faith with our friends in Israel and the Jewish community and took part in the annual Israel bashing at the UN.
     The foreign affairs minister is quoted as saying that everyone knows why Canada voted the way it did on Israel at the UN. However, the Jewish community and our friends in Israel cannot figure it out. They obviously did not get the memo.
     Could the minister please explain why he decided to vote against the only democracy in the Middle East and our friends?
    Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time I am rising in the House this session, I would like to thank the people of Burlington for re-electing me.
    I am incredibly proud that Canada is one of Israel's strongest allies at the UN and many other international organizations. We are opposed to efforts that unfairly single out Israel for criticism and seek to isolate it internationally. We agree that there are too many resolutions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have called on the international community to channel its efforts toward helping both sides to resume direct negotiations and work toward achieving a lasting peace for both peoples.

  (1505)  

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation in my riding of Kenora have been suffering with the effects of mercury contamination for decades. In 2017, the government promised a treatment centre to support the community. It is now nearly 2020 and we have still seen no action.
    Could the Minister of Indigenous Services please tell the House when the government will finally deliver on its promise and deliver support for this community?
    Mr. Speaker, I first want to congratulate the member opposite on his election and, importantly, his advocacy in this matter.
     I am glad to have had the opportunity to have met with Chief Turtle last week. We had a good, productive conversation. In the meeting, I reiterated my commitment and that of the Prime Minister's to building a mercury treatment facility, and that funding is not an obstacle.
     We share a will to move forward, and I look forward to working with Chief Turtle and the community to get this facility built. I will have an update for the House in short order.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, since this is the first time I am rising in the House, I would like to thank the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country and to have earned their trust.
    Small business is the backbone of our economy, and it certainly is in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country. I have personally spoken to thousands of business owners who have been affected by the Liberals' failed tax policies.
     Families are paying more in taxes and are struggling just to get by. In B.C. alone, my province, 18,000 jobs were lost last month. Businesses are paying more taxes to invest due to the passive investment changes.
     Will the Liberals' economic update include tax cuts for small business?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the member to the House and let her know that in the last Parliament we did reduce taxes on middle-class Canadians. We also reduced taxes on small businesses.
     We were so pleased today to move forward with the next tax break for 20 million Canadians, which we know is important. People are dealing with economic anxieties and we are trying to ensure they have more money to raise their families and to lead their lives.

[Translation]

Veterans

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
    Many veterans in my riding have told me how disappointed they were when the previous government cancelled the veteran's service card. The card is a way to recognize our brave men and women for their sacrifices and their service to our country.

[English]

    Thanks to their advocacy, our government reintroduced the veteran's service card last year. Could the minister please update the House on the status of the card?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the people of Cardigan for electing me for the 10th consecutive time. It is a great honour indeed to serve the people of Cardigan. I also want to congratulate my colleague for Orléans for being elected.
    I can assure the member that the veteran's card is now available for every Canadian Forces member who has been honourably released and to anyone who has completed basic training.
    I encourage all veterans to apply for theirs today so they continue to link with veteran communities and be recognized for their valuable service.

Forestry Industry

    Mr. Speaker, in my riding and across B.C., the forestry industry supports over 140,000 jobs. However, this year, sawmill shut-downs have created uncertainty for many families. Now thousands more workers will be without work over Christmas, and the federal government is missing in action.
    At the very least, will the minister commit to come to B.C. and meet with local leaders? Will he work with us to ensure greater flexibility in the EI system so we can bring support and certainty to B.C. families?
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, I already have had the pleasure of sitting down just last week with the B.C. minister of forestry. We will continue to work together on programs like the indigenous forestry initiative, which supported 15 indigenous forest-based economic developments just last year. These investments are supporting diversification and innovation, while boosting the long-term competitiveness of the industry. Most important, they are creating and maintaining jobs for hard-working Canadians in our forestry sector and the families that rely on those jobs.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, in a recent speech to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities said that infrastructure must be more resilient to climate change.

  (1510)  

[English]

    I was glad to hear this. At home, in my riding of Fredericton, we have faced the dreadful consequences of some of the worst flooding of the Wolastoq river, known as the Saint John, in recent memory. We have certainly not seen the last of this seasonal flooding. We need to effectively adapt to the effects of the climate crisis.
    My question for the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities is this. How is she planning to use the green municipal fund in New Brunswick to ensure that my constituents will stop suffering from the effects of these now recurring and predictable floods?
    Mr. Speaker, it is really important, as we build infrastructure for the next 50 to 100 years, that we consider the impacts of climate change. We know what the science is. We need resilient infrastructure. We need to be protecting communities. We need to also build in a way that reduces emissions.
    I look forward to working with the member opposite. Through the green infrastructure fund, there is also the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund to help support efforts to keep the residents of Fredericton safe.

[Translation]

    That brings us to the end of question period.
    The hon. member for Mirabel on a point of order.
     Mr. Speaker, I do not want there to be any confusion. I respect your position. I even put on a tie for you today.
    When I asked a question earlier, I was talking about the government not doing its job, not you.
    I thank the hon. member for Mirabel for the apology. I appreciate it. I know that members can get emotional in the House and directly address someone. This was a good lesson for everyone in the House, and we all learned something.

[English]

Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Ranj Pillai, Deputy Premier for Yukon, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, Minister of Economic Development, and Minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Committee of the Whole

Appointment of Deputy Speaker  

    Following my election as Speaker, I have consulted with the leaders of the recognized parties regarding the nomination of the other Chair occupants. I am prepared to propose, for the ratification of the House, a candidate for the position of Deputy Speaker and chair of committee of the whole.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 7, I propose Mr. Stanton for the position of Deputy Speaker and chair of committee of the whole.
    Motion deemed moved and seconded.

[English]

    Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, “Report and recommendations” from the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission.

[English]

Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2017-18 annual report of the office of the federal ombudsman for victims of crime.

  (1515)  

Petitions

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I have an opportunity today to table four petitions. The first petition is in support of bills that were in the last Parliament, Bills C-350 and S-240. These bills deal with the scourge of forced organ trafficking. The petitioners are no doubt disappointed that those bills did not pass in the last Parliament, despite having a lot of support, and are hopeful that similar bills will be able to move forward and finally become law in this Parliament.

Falun Gong  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from those who are concerned about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. It asks Parliament and the government to establish measures to stop the regime's mass murder of innocent people for their organs. It also calls for the government to use every opportunity to raise the issue of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.

Afghan Minority Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition draws the attention of the House to the challenges being faced by Afghanistan's religious minorities, particularly in this case the Sikh and Hindu communities in Afghanistan. It calls for the foreign affairs minister to continually raise this issue with his Afghan counterparts. It also calls for the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to use the powers granted to him to create a special program to help persecuted minorities in Afghanistan be sponsored directly to Canada.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition is to highlight the plight of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand. It asks the Government of Canada to raise this matter with the Government of Thailand. It also seeks to address how the issue of refugee status conferred by the UNHCR can be a particular challenge for refugees in this situation, because the conferral of that status is dependent on the good graces of the country in which the application is made.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, as it is my first time being recognized in the House, I want to thank the good people of Peace River— Westlock for putting their faith in me to represent them in Ottawa once again. I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your election to the Speaker. I know this will be a prosperous Parliament because of that.
    I too would like to present a petition today calling for the passage of Bill C-350 and Bill S-240. These bills were introduced in the last Parliament. They passed unanimously through the last Parliament, but were unable to be declared into law. We look forward to reintroducing them and having them pass swiftly through this Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, this being my first time standing in this House, I want to thank the electors of West Nova for the honour that they have bestowed upon me. I look forward to addressing them more appropriately in a speech or reply.
    Forced organ harvesting and trafficking is a growing global problem that requires urgent action. I am pleased to table a petition from Canadians who are looking for this Parliament to finally take action on forced organ harvesting and to make it a criminal offence to go abroad and receive an organ taken without consent.

Justice  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present an electronic petition that was signed by over 1,100 Canadians from coast to coast, from British Columbia right through to Newfoundland and Labrador and up to the territories. I would like to thank Lesslie Askin, a local constituent, who is the instigator behind this petition.
    The petitioners, as residents and citizens of Canada, call upon the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to completely waive all solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidentiality so that the member for Vancouver Granville may speak openly about the SNC-Lavalin matter, and launch a public inquiry under Canada's Inquiries Act into whether the Prime Minister's Office or the Prime Minister politically interfered in the court case against SNC-Lavalin.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition to support Bill C-350 and Bill S-240 from the 42nd Parliament. Petitioners want the 43rd Parliament to be one that finally takes action on forced organ harvesting and passes these bills.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition in support of Bill C-350 and Bill S-240 from the previous Parliament. These bills received unanimous consent in both Houses, but did not pass in identical form and thus the law was not changed.
    Petitioners hope to see this Parliament be the one that finally takes action on forced organ harvesting.

  (1520)  

Wild Salmon  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition today to save the wild salmon, and specifically, to act on the precautionary principle and immediately implement all 75 recommendations made by Justice Cohen to save the Pacific salmon by removing Fisheries and Oceans Canada's mandate to promote salmon farming, to remove salmon farming from migratory routes and to look at prohibiting net-pen farming in British Columbia.

Human Organ Trafficking 

    Mr. Speaker, I also would take the opportunity, this being my first time to rise in this House, to thank the good people of Saskatoon—University. I have a speech later this week that will dive into thanking a number of people, but I do appreciate the support.
    I also would like to join my colleagues in presenting a petition on the forced organ harvesting taking place around the world. This petition seeks to combat global organ trafficking. The petitioners want the government to make it a criminal offence to receive an organ without their consent.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

[The Address]

[Translation]

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply

    The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.
     Mr. Speaker, I was talking about health transfer payments. I explained in detail that the provinces are dependent on funds from Ottawa, and they have been since the beginning of Confederation. Federal government transfers flow to the provinces so that they can do their job. Over time, however, transfers have continued to diminish so that the government can download the deficits to the provinces, as we saw in the nineties, or overload them with standards and conditions to go back to the basic notion that centralizing power was what the Fathers of Confederation intended and that the goal of federal spending is precisely to accomplish that almost-solemn mission.
    There was no mention of the single income tax return in the Speech from the Throne. On May 15, 2018, the National Assembly unanimously voted in favour of a single income tax return that the Quebec government alone would oversee and administer. I know the motion was passed unanimously because I moved it myself. At the time, the Prime Minister quipped that the National Assembly rarely agrees unanimously on anything, but we saw it happen with the single income tax return. Was that mentioned? No, it was not.
    There is some hope, however, since our Conservative colleagues believe in the same cause. If the NDP or the Liberals were to help us, we could create a single tax return administered by Quebec, much to the delight of the Quebec National Assembly and Quebeckers. A recent survey shows that 65% of Quebeckers support a single tax return administered by Quebec. The only study that has been done estimates annual savings of $425 million. Not only will this save money, but it will also save time, since Quebeckers will be able to do their taxes faster.
    The Liberal government and the NDP always use the argument of job losses in the Jonquière and Shawinigan regions, and they say those losses would be drastic. Yes, jobs would be lost. Is that an argument for axing the plan? No. According to the Minister of National Revenue, 5,300 jobs in Quebec involve administering Quebeckers' income taxes for the federal government. Transferring those responsibilities to the Quebec government would create 2,332 jobs doing the same work for the Quebec government. The Quebec government could easily ensure that those jobs remain in Shawinigan and Jonquière. The other employees could work on tackling tax evasion or managing web giants like GAFA. Those jobs would pay for themselves.
    As there is a shortage of workers in the federal public service, those people could easily go work for the federal government. Given that 4% of public servants retire every year and that it will take four years to transfer the federal government's responsibilities to the Quebec government, there will be more than 800 jobs to be filled. Clearly, there will be no job losses.
    Which Liberal or NDP members will join the Quebec consensus that there will be no jobs lost?
    Our consensus is that the public service will save $287 million and that Quebeckers who file a single tax return will save time. Who can argue with that?
    The Bloc Québécois is expecting a positive response. We are ready to have discussions to promote this great idea.
    We know that Quebec is not responsible for managing its representation abroad.

  (1525)  

    We would have liked the document to make a clear statement on ending the loopholes in supply management. We would like Quebec farmers to no longer be used as a bargaining chip to promote the auto industry in Ontario, or the beef industry in the west. We would like these people to be respected and to never again be directly attacked or have money taken out of their pockets, because they work very hard and deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
    I would reiterate in closing that I began my speech with a bit of history. Something has changed since the creation of the Canadian Confederation. At the time, Canada's motto was “from sea to sea”. Unfortunately, now it is “drill, baby, drill”.
    Sadly, in western Canada, the economy today is concentrated on a single sector. It is not diversified enough. We have to help the west diversify. What people need to realize is that oil dependency is not just an issue for western Canada. It is an issue for the banks as well. Around the world, five of the 12 banks that are currently investing the most in oil are Canadian. The Canadian economy is heavily involved in oil.
    There is one party here that says we need to produce more oil. It has the advantage of being honest and saying what it really thinks. There is another party that plays around with definitions and contradictions in an attempt to put us to sleep. It says it supports this, but not too much. It does not mention oil, the “elephant in the room”, as my colleague put it earlier, in the throne speech. It talks about climate change, whereas the oil issue goes in the complete opposite direction.
    We need a clear-eyed understanding. If we want to undertake an energy transition, we simply cannot promote oil. Some people are saying that we should change the Constitution, that it is an old model that does not work well and is of no use to us anymore. I explained the problems with that earlier.
    I want the House to know that the Bloc Québécois and Quebeckers do not want to play this game anymore. To paraphrase Jean Garon, changing a comma in the Canadian Constitution would be about as easy as scratching my forehead with my front teeth. We quit.
    What will the Bloc do? The Bloc is here to stand up for farmers, to defend Quebec's territory so that no pipelines are built on it without our permission. The Bloc is here to stand up for our cultural community, which is being attacked by web giants. It will stand up for the Davie shipyard and its extraordinary workers, who have demonstrated the quality of their work time and time again. We will defend the energy transition to ensure that our young people have a healthy future in an extraordinary environment.
    That is the mission of the Bloc Québécois. We will do that work on behalf of Quebec. We will work hard until, one day, Quebec becomes a country.

  (1530)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in response to the member opposite's comment on supply management, I am from King—Hants. We have the largest agricultural concentration east of Montreal with many dairy farmers and poultry farmers in our area.
    I want the member opposite to know that I support farmers and I support our supply-managed farmers as well. As for the assumption that our government is somehow betraying farmers, I want them to remember that our government was forced into the deal with NAFTA. We maintained the integrity of a supply-managed system and we have also compensated farmers.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his fine words because he is saying good things about farmers. We will always agree on that.
    He said that he is prepared to work together. I have no problem with that, on the contrary. The Bloc Québécois is prepared to collaborate. This could be the beginning of a healthy co-operation. We will eventually introduce a bill that will stop the undermining of the quota system once and for all and make sure that the government respects our agricultural identity in the future.
    If that is what you want, then know that the Bloc Québécois will stand by your side and ensure that the mistakes of the past, which cost farmers dearly, do not happen again.
    Before we continue, I would like to remind members that they must address their comments to the Chair and not directly to their colleagues. I recommend that they speak in the third person rather than using “you”.
    The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise with a question for my colleague. In years past, I had the pleasure of serving with him in the National Assembly.
    In response to the governing party's question, my colleague talked about Quebec's dairy industry. I would like to remind him that, four and a half years ago, when the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was finalized, the Conservative government included over $4 billion in the agreement to compensate farmers. We did not wait four and a half years until negotiations were complete. We promised to compensate them, we did it, and we budgeted for it. We recognize that supply management took a hit, but there would not have been an agreement without that. Also, we attached the funding when we made the announcement.
    I have a question for my Bloc Québécois colleague from La Prairie, if I am not mistaken. I do not want to mix up the ridings because, in the past, I would have called him the member for Saint-Jean.
    Mr. Alain Therrien: I was the member for Sanguinet.
    Mr. Gérard Deltell: Mr. Speaker, I beg my colleague's pardon. My memory failed me. This white hair is here for a reason. I might miss a few things, but it will not take me long to get back on track.
    Could the member tell us whether he supported the Conservative government's approach, which was to immediately enshrine the necessary compensation in any agreements we signed? That is what we did.
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for your comment. I apologize for breaking the rules of the House.
    Indeed, I have crossed paths with my colleague in other circles. He said that the Conservatives attached a sum of money to the trade agreement. I hope he does a better job attaching his toque to his head when it is windy outside, because if not, he will surely lose it. If they had attached a sum, the other party would not have removed it. We would not be talking about it today.
    What I am saying is that the best way to prevent money that has been put in from being taken out is simply to stop putting farmers' necks on the line in international trade negotiations, even when acting in good faith. I do not mean to say my colleagues were not acting in good faith, but that is what happened to farmers, and it must never happen again.

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague, the Bloc Québécois House leader, on his first speech in the House. It was a great, eloquent speech. I appreciated his comments. We agree on a number of points.
    One point is the transition to clean energy. These changes are necessary in British Columbia, much like in Quebec and in the rest of Canada. We also agree on supply management. I am very happy to learn that the Bloc Québécois will continue the work started by Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Guy Caron, Karine Trudel, Robert Aubin and Brigitte Sansoucy, who fought to protect supply management. This is truly needed in Quebec and in the rest of Canada.
    My question for him has to do with the single tax return. Naturally, we meet with federal public servants. I met some in Jonquière and in Shawinigan, and many of them are worried about their future, their jobs and the impact on the system. There are benefits, but of course, there are also drawbacks.
    My question is very simple. Did the Bloc Québécois House leader ever meet with federal public servants in Jonquière and Shawinigan to talk about what would happen next with this file?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the leader of the NDP, for the question.
    I will tell him the truth. I just started sitting in the House. I have worked on the single tax return file, and I am quite familiar with it. Did I talk to those people? At the time, it was not my responsibility, because it was not my job. However, if the hon. member met with people who work in Shawinigan or Jonquière and are concerned, I propose that we meet with them together and work on finding solutions with them. I am sure that the Government of Quebec only expects us to find smart solutions and make the single tax return a reality.
    I am sure these people can understand that this will not result in any job losses. If we act in good faith, there is a way to resolve this matter without punishing anyone. If my colleague reaches out to me, I will return the favour and propose that we go together to visit the people who are directly affected by this file.
    Mr. Speaker, we have definitely heard a lot about the province of Quebec, but all the other parties are here to unite the country. It is very important that we have a united country. We also heard a lot of criticism of the oil sector.
    Before I ask my colleague a question, I would first like to welcome him and congratulate him on his election.
    What will he do for Canada's unity during his time in the House?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question and congratulations.
    What will I do for Canadian unity? That is a good question. I will not answer it, but instead, I will tell her what I will do for Quebec. Quebeckers elected 32 Bloc Québécois members. From the outset, we made it clear that our job is to serve Quebec alone. That does not mean that we will disagree with our colleagues from the other parties. It means that we will sit down with them. I have no ill will towards anyone here. If there are ways to improve the lot of westerners and we can contribute in some way, we will do so.
    That said, we are representatives of the people of Quebec. We are not bad boys and girls. We want to sit down with our colleagues to find solutions, and if they want to sit down with us to improve Quebec's lot, they are welcome to join the discussion.

  (1540)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
    I want to start by congratulating all members elected to the 43rd Parliament, and you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment as the Deputy Speaker. I want to thank the residents of Surrey—Newton for once again putting their faith in me to represent them as their member of Parliament. I am honoured to be back and to be able to work hard on their behalf. I am proud to represent one of the most diverse ridings in Canada.
    That said, I would like to take a moment to extend my heartfelt greetings to all who recently celebrated the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Milad un Nabi, which is celebrated to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him. I also want to wish all those who are celebrating a very merry Christmas and happy holidays.
    Voters across Canada have given us a responsibility to work together to grow our economy and better support their families so that it is easier for them to save, get an education, buy their first home and have a good retirement. This is the mandate Canadians have given us, and the throne speech we heard from the Governor General last week lays out a road map to help get this done.
    In the previous Parliament, this Liberal government laid a foundation that has made the lives of Canadians better. With over one million new jobs created and record investments in programs and services that Canadians need, such as health care, the CPP and infrastructure, we have made progress. While the other side did nothing but oppose, our government delivered results.
    This Parliament is an opportunity for all members to support the needs of Canadians and support the programs and services Canadians want. We will provide better health care and more affordable housing. We will lower taxes for those who need it the most and continue our record investments in infrastructure and public transit. We will address climate change while creating good-paying jobs.
    Most importantly for residents in my constituency of Surrey—Newton, our government will take steps to ban assault weapons and give cities the power to ban handguns. My constituents have said loud and clear that these types of weapons do not belong in our neighbourhoods.
    On this note, I want to acknowledge the hard work of my friend and former minister, Ralph Goodale. Ralph worked hard to make sure Canada remained a safe and welcoming country. Every time I went to him with an issue or concern, he listened intently and worked with me to find solutions. Two years ago, when I spoke with Ralph about the policing needs for Surrey, he was clear that this government would support the wishes of the municipal government, whether it was delivering 100 new police officers, as the previous government failed to do, or offering its support to the City of Surrey as it looked at transitioning to a local police force.
    I am confident that the member for Scarborough Southwest, the recently appointed Minister of Public Safety, will take on this role with just as much passion and focus as our friend Ralph Goodale.

  (1545)  

    I know all members on this side are passionate about doing what is best for Canadians. The actions laid out in last week's throne speech will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians. Canada's economy is growing, and we continue to have a low unemployment rate. We are going to further cut taxes so that Canadians and those most in need can keep more of their hard-earned money.
    We need to make sure that our young people can turn their dreams of owning a home into a reality. That is why we will work hard to address affordability and invest in affordable housing so it will be easier for families to buy their first homes.
    Parents want to give their children every opportunity for a good education and a chance at making their dreams come true. This government shares that same desire. That is why are going to make before-school and after-school care more affordable and accessible.
    To help seniors retire with the dignity they deserve, we are going to strengthen pensions so they can live with confidence, not fear.
    The health of every Canadian is paramount. We are going to work with provinces and territories to make sure all Canadians can access a family doctor. We will introduce mental health standards in the workplace and make sure workers can get mental health care when they need it.
    Finally, we will take steps to introduce and implement national pharmacare so that Canadians have the drug coverage they need. These are the steps we are going to take to make sure families have the support they need.
    However, as I mentioned earlier, families in Surrey—Newton want tougher gun laws in order to reduce gun-related violence on our streets. It is time we took bold action to do that. That is why we will ban military-style assault weapons and introduce a buyback program. This is the action we need to take to tackle guns and gangs and keep Canadians safe.
    All these steps combined make a path that will lead Canada to a brighter future where everyone will have a fair chance at getting ahead. This is what Canadians wanted and this is what we will do.
    I am proud to stand in support of this plan and I request each member of this House to support it so that we can be a force for good in Canadians' lives and make their lives better.
    I want to congratulate each member who was elected to the 43rd Parliament. I wish them all the best.
    Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your appointment. I look forward to working with you once again.
    To the hon. member, Alberta has been kicked in the shins, its lunch money has been stolen and its tires have been slashed. I did not see anything in the Speech from the Throne that says that we will get our tires pumped back up, we will get our lunch money back and we will be able to get back to work.
    Did the member opposite see anything in there to restore the confidence of Albertans that tomorrow will be a better day?
    Mr. Speaker, I first landed in Canada in 1984 in Alberta. I went to the University of Calgary to get my engineering degree. I lived there for eight years and had two beautiful daughters born there. I am a very proud Canadian.
    I can tell members that all the work that we are doing, whether reducing taxes for ordinary working-class families, providing first-time home buyer incentives or investing in the pipeline, is going to help Albertans. I am certain that in the coming days and months that the hon. member will be proud of the work that our government will do.
    Mr. Speaker, specifically on the member's comments about pharmacare, discounting the fact that the Liberals have been talking about pharmacare since 1997 but have never done anything, if they did want to do something, they would need the co-operation of the provinces.
    We have heard clearly from Quebec today that it has no interest, because it already has a program, as do B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In fact, 98% of Canadians already have coverage, and the ones who do not exist in Ontario, Newfoundland and some of the Atlantic provinces. Therefore, it is actually cheaper to put everyone onto the existing provincial plans for $2.2 billion than to spend $15 billion to $40 billion on a program nationally that nobody wants. Would the member agree?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member, a fellow professional engineer.
    When it comes to pharmacare, it is what people want. We have the report and a plan ready to go to implement universal pharmacare by 2027.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very interested in housing and homelessness. In the last four budgets there has been money put into solving the crisis of homelessness in Canada. As in the member's riding and my riding, it is an issue that is facing Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    Could the hon. member talk about the importance of continuing our programs in national housing and investing in housing for the homeless in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member for Guelph and thank him for the great work that he does and for the conversations that we have.
    I am happy to tell the hon. member that the national housing strategy is working. In my own riding of Surrey—Newton, we have built 173 new spaces. We have reduced homelessness by 25%. I am looking forward to working together with the member to keep on fighting to make sure that one day we will eliminate homelessness.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise and to be back. Congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, on just moments ago being affirmed as our Deputy Speaker of the House. I look forward to your great and very capable ability to sit in that chair as you demonstrated over the past four years. It is a real honour to be standing again in this House.
     I want to start, this being my first opportunity to do so, by thanking the constituents in my riding of Kingston and the Islands for putting their faith in me to come back here and represent them in this new Parliament. There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that one has the support of one's community to represent its residents and to make sure that their voices are heard in Ottawa. It is an incredible honour for me to have that.
    I also want to take the opportunity to thank the tremendous number of volunteers, just like all of the members in this House. We all have dedicated volunteers in our ridings who make our elections a reality and are able to bring us through the finish line.
    There is no doubt that I have that great amount of support in my riding as well. In particular, I want to thank the Queen's University Liberal Association members, who have spent hours and hours donating their time and volunteering. It gives me the sense that the younger generation is keenly interested in politics, and I have a great sense of optimism when I see these young people getting involved in politics.
    I also want to thank my staff in Kingston. I have Ann, Nicole, Kaitlin and Parth, who do amazing work representing me and interacting daily with my constituents. In Ottawa, I have Jeanna, who does great work to keep me on schedule and make sure I am here when it is my turn to speak and whatnot.
    Most important, I thank my family, my wife Vanessa and my children Mason, Frankie and Vivian. It is not easy, as most members in this House would know, to leave the riding behind and go for several days at a time without seeing the family. Even with the advancements of technology, it is still not the same as being there in person. I am incredibly grateful for their love and support, as it is required in a job like this.
    I also want to congratulate all of my colleagues, the 337 other members who are in this House for this session of Parliament. We all come from different parts of the country. We have been duly elected by our constituents.
    This time around, our constituents throughout the country have decided to bring the Liberal Party back in government but in a minority situation. Canadians have mandated us to work together in a collaborative way so that we can build legislation and present it to Canadians. That truly reflects the form of this Parliament.
    It is worth pointing out that some pretty incredible legislation has actually come along in minority parliaments from this chamber, for example the creation of the CPP. Even our Canadian flag was created during a minority government. Health care was created during a minority government. There are tremendous examples of how we can work together, and I look forward to working with all members of the House to bring forward meaningful legislation that reflects the will and demands of Canadians.
    I would like to talk about three things in particular that resonated with me in the throne speech, one being the desire to improve the security and strengthen the economic position of so many Canadians. I also want to talk a bit about the government's commitment to health care, and pharmacare in particular. Of course, I also want to address a topic that I have spoken about many times in this House: climate change.
    First, when we talk about more security for Canadians and strengthening the middle class, I was extremely proud to be part of a government the last time whose very first opportunity to present legislation in this House was to give a tax cut to the middle class and ask those making significantly more, the one per cent as we might coin them, to pay a bit more.
    One of the other things we did very early on, probably the second or third piece of legislation that came forward, was the Canada child benefit. Through the data that came out of Statistics Canada a few years later, we saw the impact that had of lifting just under a million, or by this point probably a million, Canadians out of poverty, and in particular almost 300,000 children out of poverty. This is the impact that these policies are having on Canadians.

  (1555)  

    That is why I was extremely pleased to see in this throne speech similar talk. It is important to mention that a throne speech is a guiding document. It is a principled document that sets the overall agenda for a government during the time it will be governing. To see the commitment and the dedication to continuing to build on that was extremely rewarding.
    In particular, looking forward, raising the basic income exemption to $15,000 so that the Canadians who require it the most will not be burdened with any tax up to that $15,000.
    Also, affordable housing is mentioned in the throne speech. My riding in particular has an extreme shortage of housing right now. Our vacancy rate is at 0.6%. For those who do not know, a healthy vacancy rate is around 3% or 4%. That means that housing costs are being driven up, whether to buy or rent. It is putting people in some very difficult situations.
    Knowing that we will continue to build on our infrastructure, and not just the bricks and mortar but also the social infrastructure that goes into the housing family unit and how we can support them, I am extremely pleased to see.
    Regarding increases to the CCB, that signature program that lifted hundreds of thousands of people and children out of poverty, we will now extend it to assist children under the age of one to provide more assistance to them.
    I have two very young children in my family, one just over three years old and another just over one year old. I know the challenges that can be put on families who have a child under the age of one, a newborn.
    Knowing that people who are already struggling will have the opportunity to tap into more of the resources available to them, and to be taken care of and to be looked after more in that very precious time of the first year, is extremely encouraging. I also know it will give the opportunity to see even more children and families being lifted out of poverty.
    On the second topic of health care, in particular pharmacare, I am very encouraged by two things that were talked about. The first is pharmacare, developing a plan that will address the prescribed medication needs of all Canadians. There are many people in our communities, mine in particular, who have to choose daily between taking their full prescription or paying for rent or food.
    The reality of the situation is, when they live in a country as rich as Canada with the advancements we have, I do not believe people should be making those decisions between medications and taking care of other necessities in life. It is important for us to bring forward this plan on pharmacare and I look forward to it.
    The other issue is access to a family doctor. I am so glad to see that our government is talking about making sure that every Canadian has access to a doctor. In Kingston, we had a huge shortage of doctors a number of years ago and we set out a plan as a city council to bring more doctors in.
    The only problem was that we ended up stealing them from neighbouring communities and creating problems for them as we were attracting them to our community. Having a nationalized plan to attract and retain doctors in Canada so that everyone has access to a family doctor is incredibly encouraging to see.
    Finally, when it comes to climate change there is no issue more pressing for future generations than the action that we take with respect to climate change and the action that we take now.
    As the previous minister of the environment said, we are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and we will be the last to be able to do anything about it. We need to accomplish some of these extremely ambitious goals of reaching net zero by 2050. We need to reduce our plastic consumption right now by reducing our single-use plastics, and we need to continue to grow that green economy and invest in technologies that will drive us into the future both economically and sustainably from an environmental perspective.
    I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House over the next months and years as we make sure that we continue to bring forward legislation in a meaningful and positive way for all Canadians.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member opposite for being back. I was a Queen's grad and he knows I am in his riding from time to time.
    Certainly I think the member would agree that I am one of those in the last Parliament who tried to work with the government to align its priorities to opportunities to create jobs in Sarnia—Lambton and we were very successful. As a result, now we have two other problems. One is affordable housing and one is the availability of skilled trades. We are short maybe 1,500 skilled trades and that is projected to go on into the future since we have a lot of expansions.
    I would be interested to hear what the member could tell me about the government's plans to offer actual dollars for affordable housing that I could take advantage of and skilled training for the trades.

  (1605)  

    Mr. Speaker, I could take 10 minutes answering this question on each subject.
    I do want to welcome the member for Sarnia—Lambton back, too. I regret that she was not able to come to her homecoming this year as it fell on the weekend before the election, but we look forward to seeing her in future years.
    When it comes to affordable housing specifically, we have the national housing strategy that is in place right now. There is $40 billion over a 10-year period that, through working with CMHC, housing providers in her riding and all ridings throughout the country can have access to, in order to build affordable housing for people in their communities.
    The other thing the member spoke of was skilled trades. It is an incredible topic that we really need to focus on. Although I do not have any answers for her right now, it is something that I would love to work with her on.
    The reality of the situation is that the average mason in Canada right now is 58 years old. We need to do something about increasing the number of people, young people in particular, going into skilled trades because that is where all the money is right now. If any of my kids want to go into skilled trades, I would be the happiest dad in the world because they would be rich.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a quick question with regard to the member's party and its history with single-event sports betting and tourism in the member's region, my region and others, and also about the $10 billion going toward organized crime from illegal offshore and backroom-basement types of betting.
    Will the member's government support the unification of Canada, similar to the United States, which is moving toward that right now, as well as Europe, and allow single-event sports betting amongst the provinces?
    This just allows them to do that if they want to. Right now, it is a free-for-all for organized crime, versus having a regulated market that is important for tourism destinations in areas like his own constituency.
     Will the member support that, and why did his government oppose it the last time? Perhaps it will change it this time.
    Mr. Speaker, although single-sport betting is not huge in my riding, tourism definitely is. The member might be confusing me with one of my colleagues from St. Catharines, who is very passionate on this issue.
    I will say that I do not have an answer to the member's question. It is a very direct question. I would love to see the research into this, whether it comes through a private member's bill or from government legislation, and listen to somebody like him who is heavily impacted by this in his riding, so that we could put together legislation if it is warranted, reduce the amount of organized crime and ensure that, if there are opportunities there, they are seized.
    Mr. Speaker, this is my first time rising in this House ever, and I would like to congratulate you.
    The hon. member mentioned how he liked that the throne speech referred to strengthening the economy. The reality is that in Canada we are actually facing a productivity challenge. Currently in the U.S., every hour of GDP generates about $60. In Switzerland it is $65, while in Canada it is $50. Wages in Switzerland are $33 on average. In the U.S. they are $23, and in Canada they are only $19.
    The most affluent and highest contribution to GDP per hour is in the oil and gas sector. Bill C-69 had a huge impact on that and it is hammering our oil and gas industry. Currently, the oil and gas industry contributes $644 per hour.
    What concrete steps will the member's government take to improve productivity in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I think that one of the most important things to do is to make sure that we are working in a diversified market. Just like we do not want to always be trading partners with only the United States, we want to diversity our trade relationships throughout the world.
    In particular, when it comes to the products and services that we sell, I think it is important that we make sure that there are many different products we are working on and that our economy is diversified in the sense that we are not only relying on one or two different sectors in different parts of the country.
    When we talk about oil and gas, specifically in Alberta, I was really surprised to see recently that Suncor, an oil-producing company, announced that is investing $300 million in Alberta into a wind farm. I think that just the idea that we can have multiple forms of activity in our economy is the best thing to do.
    Let us not just rely on renewable. Let us not just rely on oil. Let us not just rely on one part of the economy or another. Let us diversify so that we can make sure that we are insulated against peaks and valleys in the economic system.

  (1610)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see you here in the House. Of course, I am also pleased to see all of my colleagues.
    I would have preferred it if the results of the election had been different, but the people have spoken, even though a majority of them voted for the official opposition party.
    I would like to echo what my colleague said earlier and congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker of the House. You are currently acting as Speaker. I think everyone recognizes your good judgment and your keen understanding of human nature. You are a man that we are pleased to work with here in the House.

[English]

    I want to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with a brand new MP, the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley. One day I will table a motion to cancel each every riding name that is too long to say in the House. I am sure it will get unanimous consent.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

[Translation]

    Mr. Gérard Deltell: I am very pleased to be back in the House. I sincerely thank the people of Louis-Saint-Laurent who placed their trust in me for a second time. People can say what they will, but it always warms my heart to see the number of people who voted for me increasing from one minute to the next when the ballots are counted. A person also cannot help but feel a little pang when that number drops a bit. I would like to thank the people who put their trust in me to represent them in the House of Commons a second time.
    I was born and raised in Louis-Saint-Laurent and that is also where I raised my family and where I still live today. In the heart of that riding is the indigenous community of Wendake. I represent that community with pride, honour and enthusiasm. I think it is an inspiration to first nations people and others when it comes to living together in harmony. Wendake is a model, an example, an inspiration to Canada and the entire world.
    Every year in the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent, people are closely involved in charity work. I was with Guy Boutin last weekend, a businessman who works with the Fondation Le Petit Blanchon, an organization that helps children from families that are struggling. Once again, I saw how generous the people of Quebec and Louis-Saint-Laurent are.
    This is my second time running in a federal election, but it is the fifth mandate I have been given by my fellow citizens. I was elected three times in the riding of Chauveau. In fact, I want to acknowledge the people who gave me the immense privilege of representing them in the Quebec National Assembly exactly 11 years and one day ago, on December 8, 2008. I served in that role for seven years. A few of my former colleagues from the Quebec National Assembly now sit in the House of Commons. It is not that I do not like them, but I thought they were doing a good job in the National Assembly. They should have stayed there. However, the voters decided otherwise.
    Now let me speak from the heart about my family. A political career is simply not possible without a supportive and understanding family. Let me start with my partner, Pascale. I am going to make the same joke I make every time: that's Pascale with an e. The first time I said that, 11 years ago, everyone burst out laughing. Now, no one bats an eyelash. My partner Pascale has been with me every step of this magnificent adventure. In politics, there are highs and super-highs, but there are no lows. Basically, either things are going well or they are going very well.
    Of course, I also have two children, Béatrice and Jean-Philippe, who are now accomplished adults. They are so dear to me, and I love them so much. They are doing very well for themselves. I am lucky. It is a privilege to have such generous and caring children.
    Lastly, I would like to talk about my parents, who are 95 and 96 years old and who have been my unwavering supporters for the past 55 years. This year was the first time they were not able to be there when I cast my ballot. It was a tradition. They were not able to attend the swearing-in either. Everyone who was at the swearing-in, including the hard-working volunteers without whom I would not be in this place, could see how much I care for my parents. Even now, in their later golden years, they regularly watch the debates of the House of Commons on television. I must say they sometimes have some pretty harsh things to say about the government, but I am not here to talk about that.

  (1615)  

[English]

    It is with great honour and privilege that I welcome the new mandate I received from the people, a mandate I will serve in the House of Commons.
     As I said, the night of the election, I did a live interview on Radio-Canada with Patrice Roy.

[Translation]

    I was clear: We must work together.

[English]

    This is the clear message we received, because although the government was elected with the most seats, the official opposition received more votes. We have to keep that in mind. The government lost nearly one million votes. We had 600,000 more votes in this election. We now have representation in each and every area of this country. We are the true national party in the House of Commons and are proud of it. This was accomplished a month ago under the strong and proud leadership of the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. We are proud of that and have to keep it in mind in our debates.
     I hope the government will keep in mind that although it is in office, it has to look around closely because more people voted against it than for it. It is the first time in Canadian history that a government has had such low approval in getting into office. We should keep that in mind.

[Translation]

    During the previous Parliament, I had the great privilege of serving under our current leader and also under the hon. Rona Ambrose, as leader of the official opposition, who entrusted me with some big responsibilities. I was the critic for employment, Treasury Board and finance.

[English]

    Now I can say that I was so nervous to be the critic of the finance minister. Who could say that? I remember my mathematics teacher in grade 6 in high school, who would have said that if I became the finance critic for the official opposition in the House of Commons, I would finally have done something right with respect to calculation. It was a real honour and privilege to serve during the last mandate.

[Translation]

    I had the privilege of covering the finance portfolio. In politics, you never ask your leader for anything, but in conversation, I indicated that I had done the rounds and that if, by chance, I could do something else, I would be happy. I am honoured to be the shadow minister for intergovernmental affairs. This portfolio is of utmost importance to the future of this country, especially in this Parliament.
    National unity in this country has unfortunately never been worse off. I must say that although members are making their maiden speeches and everyone has nice things to say about everyone else, the unity problems are the fault of the current government. The government's four years of bad decisions, pointless provocations and combative discussions with provincial governments have pitted the provinces against each other. The Bloc Québécois ended up making a resurgence. Even just a few months ago, the idea of Wexit was lore, a joke.

[English]

    It is no longer funny. When we talk about Brexit, it is no longer a folkloric issue; it is a true reality of the political agenda in Canada, thanks to the government. That is not good for this country.

[Translation]

    To us, national unity is a major issue that we have to address head on.
    I must say—and I am very pleased to do so—that the Prime Minister giving this mandate to the Deputy Prime Minister is a good sign. Observers all agree that the Deputy Prime Minister, an MP from Toronto, has been given more authority, taken on more responsibility, to say the least. After the Prime Minister, she quite likely has the most authority in this cabinet. She has been entrusted with the responsibility of intergovernmental relations. That is a good thing, a good sign.
    We expected to see in the Speech from the Throne a clear statement on the Prime Minister's intention to give this trustworthy person that mandate. That did not happen. The Speech from the Throne has nothing but rhetoric about Canadian unity, how we need to work together and be good neighbours. That is not exactly what we expected. We expected more.
    That is why I have a message for this government, which keeps saying that it is reaching out to the opposition and wants to hear its suggestions. Our country is the global champion of free trade. Canada has 50 agreements with 50 different countries. That is fantastic for Canada's economy. What is incomprehensible is that our provinces cannot do business with one another. That is preposterous.
    Our political party, under the leadership of the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, the leader of the official opposition, has proposed that there be a federal-provincial conference on January 6 to lay the foundation for interprovincial free trade agreements. The one thing I want to ask of this government during this mandate is that it inspire us. It should run with our idea to make Canada the global leader of free trade and the country of interprovincial free trade for the good of all Canadians.

  (1620)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I always listen attentively to my colleague across the way, but I beg to differ on a couple of his points.
    First and foremost, the government of the day has representation in all regions of the country. I am from the Prairies myself and am very proud of that fact. We do share some things in common. The national government does not have any seats in two provincial areas and the Conservatives do not have any seats in two provincial areas: Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, for example.
    On the issue of working with the provinces, this government has achieved a great deal through consultations with them, such as on the Canada pension plan, which will greatly enhance retirement benefits for future workers. It is a positive thing. In working with the provinces and territories, we were also able to achieve the health care accord.
    Does the member not believe there is room for many other things, such as putting a pharmacare plan in place and possibly even freer trade among the provinces, especially given that the Deputy Prime Minister played such an important role—
    Order, please. I am going to try to keep the interventions to about a minute or so, because there is usually lots of interest in posing questions to hon. members.
    The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
    Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to get back because it gives me the privilege of answering the question by my hon. colleague from Winnipeg North. He is back, even though we worked hard to get him out. The next time we will.
    The hon. member is right: his boss, the Prime Minister, talks a lot about the provinces. He talks against Doug Ford, Jason Kenney and Premier Moe. He talks against people elected by Canadians. That is not the way to run this country. We have to work together instead of making political arguments against provincially elected people. That is the first point.
    Second, when we talk about national unity, the first thing to keep in mind is respect for the Constitution. The federal government's role is not to enter provincial jurisdiction on issues like pharmacare. We have pharmacare in Quebec, and decisions on it belong to the province, not at the federal level.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have had the privilege of rising to speak in the House. Congratulations on your appointment as Deputy Speaker of the House.
    As my colleagues have done for their ridings, I want to take this opportunity to thank the constituents of Trois-Rivières and all the volunteers who worked on my campaign. As we know, volunteers are at the heart of political activity in our ridings. I am extremely grateful to each and every one of them.
    Trois-Rivières is home to many seniors who count on federal programs in order to have a decent quality of life so they can meet their basic needs. Will the provisions outlined in the throne speech really meet their needs? What is being offered to people between the ages of 65 and 75?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague from Trois-Rivières on her election. Obviously, in keeping with tradition, we would also like to acknowledge the person who represented us in the most recent election campaign, Mayor Yves Lévesque. As everyone knows, he worked very hard and we all hold him in high esteem. The people have spoken and they elected the member for Trois-Rivières. I recognize and welcome her.
    We all care about seniors for two reason. First, this issue falls 100% under federal jurisdiction. That is why I was saying earlier that it is important for Canadian unity that the government respect jurisdictions.
    Second, seniors are the most vulnerable members of our society. When people get to a certain age, they can no longer go back to school to learn a new occupation. They can no longer work 45 hours a week. When people reach a certain age, they want to focus on other things and, most of all, they want to enjoy what previous generations have built for us.
    We therefore echo what the member said about being very attentive to the needs of seniors in Canada, Quebec, the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent and, of course, the riding of Trois-Rivières.

  (1625)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in this place today to give my first speech. I want to thank my fellow Manitobans from the riding of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for placing their trust in me to be their voice in this great place. I want to thank my family and my campaign team, and also offer you my humblest congratulations, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
    As members of Parliament it is our duty to be the voice of every Canadian, make his or her life easier and build a future for our country that is prosperous and filled with opportunity. The Speech from the Throne just does not do this. With no plan or even mention of a balanced budget, we are passing our bill to the next generation to pay. This is unfair and frankly reckless.
    Right now, Canada is starting to see an economic storm coming our way. Instead of making plans to weather the storm, the government seems intent on reckless spending that leaves our cupboards bare and puts Canada's economic future into question.
    In the run-up to the 2015 federal election, the Prime Minister made a big promise. It was not a small one. It was not something that was buried in his campaign platform. He said, “We will balance that budget in 2019.”
    I think when Canadians hear the Prime Minister make a promise like that, they expect it to be kept. Particularly when there is a majority government, one would think that would be very attainable. However, not only did the Prime Minister break this important promise, but the budgetary deficits under the Liberal government have been high and onerous for Canadians. In fact, the Prime Minister missed the mark in 2019, despite his promise, by $14 billion.
    While reading over the throne speech, I thought I would find the word “balanced” somewhere in there, but no, that word does not appear anywhere in the speech. Then I continued to look for the word “budget”, but there was no mention of the word “budget” either. How could the government leave the word “budget” out of the blueprint for its parliamentary agenda?
    To contrast this, in the Conservative government's 2013 throne speech, there was an entire section entitled, “Balanced Budgets and Reducing the Cost of Government”. The Conservatives recognized that in Canada balanced budgets were important because they would leave us prepared in the event of an economic downturn.
     What is worse is that in 2015 the Liberal government inherited a balanced budget. Since then, Canada's federal debt has increased by roughly $73 billion. This additional debt has caused taxpayers to pay even more interest. If this trend were to continue, it would be safe to say Canada would have a structural operating deficit, which, considering what the Liberals inherited during a period of economic prosperity, is completely irresponsible.
    It is the government's duty to look out for Canada's future. It is ridiculous that there is not one mention of how the government will budget its promises. I know the Liberal government is used to writing blank cheques, but that is not how Canada and Canadians operate. Canadians spend a lot of time at the kitchen table, finding ways to balance their own budgets and stretching every dollar so they can make it to the end of every month, and save for a rainy day.
    The government should also be working on finding ways to balance the budget and leave more money in the pockets of Canadians. Canadians know that their hard-earned tax dollars go to pay interest on all this debt. In fact, the interest Canadians paid in 2019 on our massive federal debt was $23.3 billion. This is money that could have been spent on programs that would help Canadians, but rather went to bondholders and bankers.
     I know the finance minister is very fond of bragging about our declining debt-to-GDP ratio. It is far easier to talk about something debt related as declining rather than increasing. However, Canadians understand that our national debt is increasing. Our debt-to-GDP ratio will only decline as long as our economy is growing at a pace faster than our debt is rising.
    Given the economic storm on the horizon, and as our economy slows, soon the declining debt-to-GDP ratio that the minister likes to brag about may no longer be in his very weak arsenal of debate.

  (1630)  

    I also wish to highlight that Statistics Canada reported last week that our job market had lost 71,200 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate rose to 5.9%, the highest in more than a year. This is the largest drop in Canadian employment in a single month in 10 years. These are real people who have to come home and tell their families that they no longer have a job. While the U.S. economy is on the upswing, ours is on the downswing.
     As the members opposite scratch their heads, wondering what went wrong, I would suggest a trip out west might help them understand. Alberta's unemployment rate is 7.2%. The housing market is in a downward spiral. People are losing their homes and many of Calgary's downtown office towers sit empty.
    The Liberal government could continue to look west for an example of how to be financially responsible. As a Manitoban, I understand personally what happens to a government when it does not take financial responsibility seriously. Manitobans toiled under an NDP government for 17 years; a provincial NDP government that taxed and spent, much like the current federal government is doing right now. There were 17 years of debt, decline and decay. The Liberal government appears to be taking Canada on a similar path of financial mismanagement and reckless disregard for the hard-earned tax dollars of all Canadians, and it is very concerning.
    However, Premier Pallister and his PC government in my home province of Manitoba brought the province back on track. They are balancing their budget, while continuing to make record investments in health care and education. They continue to do this all while lowering the sales tax to make life easier for all Manitobans. This is what all Canadians should expect from their government.
    Back in 2018, when all this was transpiring, I held out hope and thought that there must be a plan to get the federal budget back to balance. Surely, if anyone was on top of this, it would be the Liberal Minister of Finance. However, then I happened to watch a finance committee meeting in which the finance minister was asked over and over again by my esteemed colleague from Carleton about when the budget would be balanced. It seemed like a softball question for our erudite Minister of Finance, yet he could not answer. In fact, by the end, it was apparent he was not interested in the subject at all. Much like last week's throne speech, the minister could not even say the words “balanced budget”.
    The finance minister is supposed to be the guardian of the treasury. He is supposed to have his hands on the financial steering wheel of the country, a steady hand. There is no attention being paid to the continued piling on of debt on millennials and future generations of Canadians, and that must stop.
    As I begin to close, I would remind members of the House, particularly those on the Liberal side, that it is our duty to serve every Canadian, create opportunity and ensure that the next generation has a brighter future, not led by the debt we leave behind. To do this, the Prime Minister and his Liberal team must change course. They must put some serious thought into ending this reckless spending and putting forward a serious plan to put Canada's financial and economic future at the forefront.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member on his first speech, and I welcome him into the House.
    However, perhaps the member is not familiar with the history of previous Conservative governments and their ability to balance budgets, but I will fill him in a little.
    In the last 18 budgets that were introduced by Conservative governments in this very House under Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper, 16 of them ran deficits. Of the two that run surpluses, one came on the heels of Paul Martin's $13 billion surplus and the other came in 2015 when the Conservatives slashed veteran services and sold off shares of GM at bargain prices so they could balance the budget in time for the election.
    As the member spent a lot of his time today talking about balancing budgets, I am curious as to why he thinks the Conservatives are in a position to be lecturing on balancing budgets when their track record speaks absolutely nothing to their ability to do it.

  (1635)  

    Mr. Speaker, over here we take no lessons from the Liberal government when it comes to fiscal responsibility. The fact is that when the Liberals took office in 2015, millions of Canadians voted for a prime minister who said that the budget would be balanced in 2019. When one votes based on a promise and that promise is broken, it is a very serious thing, and we all have to recognize that. I do not think anyone on this side of the House will forget about that, because we speak for our constituents. At the doors of my riding, I heard this over and over again.
    The fact is that in 2015 when the Liberal government took office, it had a balanced budget and it squandered it. The Liberals said that they were lowering taxes for the middle class, but they raised them. Frankly, I do not know how we can take any solace from the comments of the member opposite.
     I would add, just as an aside, that I could get into the litany of problems we are having now economically, but I will just say that 71,000 Canadians lost their job last month and we are not hearing anything from that side of the House about how they are going to fix it.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague on his first speech in the House and welcome him to this august chamber.
    During the last federal campaign, I heard from many people, particularly from young people and those who were particularly concerned about the climate emergency facing our planet. We know that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued some extremely serious and dire warnings that we have 11 years to take serious action now in order to avoid raising global temperatures above 1.5°. If we do not, we risk planetary catastrophe, melting polar ice caps, disappearing coral reefs and mass extinction.
    What are my hon. colleague's thoughts on this subject? Does he agree with the New Democrats that we need to take urgent, pressing action on climate change now and start making the transition to a sustainable economy that not only is the economy of the future but also is necessary to save our planet?
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that for countries like Canada to transition to a low-emissions green economy, we need to have the revenue to do it. Countries with smaller GDPs have a harder time converting to green economies because they just do not have the ability to invest in sustainable technologies.
     We had one of the most comprehensive environmental platforms ever tabled by a political party in the history of this country. It was not just a tax on soccer parents; it was a very comprehensive plan. It had some very good things in it. For example, it talked about the green home tax credit, which would affect millions of Canadians and incentivize them to make our homes more fuel efficient. It talked about taking the climate change globally, that a molecule of carbon does not know borders.
    What I am saying is that balanced budgets, growing our economy and getting harsh bills like Bill C-69, the no more pipelines bill, and Bill C-48 out of the way so we can get our products to market will provide our economy with the strength it needs to make that conversion.
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that I will be splitting my time with the member for St. Catharines.
    What a privilege it is to be here today at the centre of democracy in our country as the elected representative of the great people of Kings—Hants. Located on the shores of the Bay of Fundy and Minas Basin, Kings—Hants is home to the highest tides in the world; to Acadia University, one of Canada's top-ranked undergraduate institutions; the birthplace of hockey, in Windsor; a wine industry that is gaining international recognition; and a dynamic and diverse agricultural sector that is the backbone of our economy and a key piece of our identity.
     I would invite all members of the House, and indeed all Canadians, to come and visit us in Nova Scotia where diverse cultures co-exist, extraordinary seafood abounds, breathtaking vistas await and exceptionally friendly people will serve as their host. They will not be disappointed.

  (1640)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate you on being elected. I am glad we will be able to rely on you to hold us accountable for ensuring the highest possible degree of decorum in the House.

[English]

    I would like to thank the people of Kings—Hants for the support and confidence they have placed in me. I recognize both the privilege and the responsibility that accompany this role. I will be putting all my energy into serving them and all Canadians in the days ahead.
    All parliamentarians can attest to the importance of families and having their support as we take on this important role as lawmakers in this chamber. I am so fortunate to have the love of a supportive family and friends in Nova Scotia, especially my fiancée Kimberly and my mother Shelley. Without them, I would not be the one standing in the House. I know they are back home in Nova Scotia, watching proudly today.
    I would also like to recognize my volunteers. All of us have volunteers who help us get to this place, to be privileged. I want to thank all my volunteers at home who are watching today.
    Finally, I have two special people looking over me today in the chamber. My father, Gordon, passed away when I was 14 years old and I recently lost my grandfather, Leroy, in January. Both were incredible supporters. They never missed a hockey game or softball game. I know they are watching from above today and I hope they are proud.

[Translation]

    Canadians sent us here to work on the issues that matter most to them. I am proud to be a member of the Liberal Party, and I am eager to work with all MPs under the leadership of the Prime Minister as we strive to improve the lives of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

[English]

    I want to talk about the importance of continuing the good work our government has done to support the middle class and those working to join it. I grew up in a working-class family. My father was a truck driver and my mother is an administrative assistant at the local school. I saw first-hand how hard they worked to ensure I had a better future. In fact, there were times when we did not even have enough money to pay for the groceries. Therefore, I am proud to be a member of the governing party that is focused on supporting people who need help the most.
    I want to tell a story of a single mother I met during the campaign. Her name is Sarah and she is working two jobs to support her two girls. Sarah was in tears on the doorstep when explaining to me how the Canada child benefit was allowing her to buy healthier groceries and to put her two girls in soccer.
    Our government's policies have lifted 250,000 seniors out of poverty. Child poverty in Canada is at an all-time low. At the same time, we have created over one million jobs and unemployment is near an all-time low. We know there is more work to be done, but when we invest in people and put money in the pockets of those who need the help, they spend it and drive our economy forward.
    I am 28 years old. I am one of the youngest members of this House and I am proud to be a member of a party that is taking concrete measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. I want my children and grandchildren to have a future and an environment we are all proud of. In the same breath, we need to be mindful of ensuring that no one is left behind, and that our rural communities and residents can afford our necessary transition. This will not be an easy balance, but it is necessary to ensure we can all move forward united together.
    Health care is on the minds of Canadians across the country. This was a prominent issue on the doorsteps in Kings—Hants. Recruitment and retention of family physicians in rural areas of our country is a top priority for many. As we know, health care is a challenge not only in Canada but across the western world. While the provinces administer health care, it is vital that the federal government be a willing partner to support their efforts, and I am proud to say that our government has been, and will continue to be, a strong partner with the provinces.
    For example, in Nova Scotia, since the Canada health accord was signed in 2016, there has been more money than ever before transferred to the province to support health care. I say this knowing that there is more work to be done. Between our commitment to launch a national pharmacare plan and to provide more money to support the recruitment of rural doctors, I know our efforts will improve health care in this country.

  (1645)  

[Translation]

    My riding, Kings—Hants, is home to three indigenous communities, namely the Sipekne'katik, Glooscap and Annapolis Valley nations. I believe that all members, not just the Government of Canada, have a duty to forge strong relationships with indigenous communities because of the special constitutional relationship we share.

[English]

    No other Prime Minister or government in Canadian history has done more to support indigenous communities and work toward true reconciliation. Our critics will say not enough has been done, but the legacy of neglect and the impact of the residential school system cannot be turned around in four years. Our government will continue the hard work needed to bring meaningful change and long-lasting opportunities to these communities, which represent the fastest-growing segment of the Canadian population.
    As part of our government's efforts to make life better for all Canadians, we committed to make historic investments in infrastructure. I am proud to see that work is well under way on significant infrastructure projects in Kings—Hants. The twinning of Highway 101 at Windsor will save lives. The new Lantz interchange will ease traffic congestion. The new recreation complex in Windsor-West Hants and the new aquatic centre in East Hants will increase opportunities for people to lead healthier lives. Completed major projects, like the new interchange in New Minas, the renovated science facility at Acadia University and the rebuilt wharf in Halls Harbour have all led to increased economic prospects.
    Finally, I want to speak about agriculture. Kings—Hants has the largest concentration of agricultural producers east of Montreal. It is the backbone of our economy and a key piece of our identity. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Kentville Research and Development Centre has been providing vital support to Nova Scotia's agricultural sector for over 100 years. The facility has developed 60% of the strawberry varieties grown in Canada and identified the Honeycrisp apple, a high-value apple well suited to the maritime climate.
    Importantly, our government recently opened a research winery at the facility to support Nova Scotia's burgeoning wine sector. I look forward to working with the Minister of Agriculture, and indeed all members of this House, on the issues that matter to farmers and on the initiatives that will support and continue to grow the agricultural sector.
    Yes, there are and will be challenges for Canadians to face every day, but with those challenges come opportunities. That is why it is important that we all work collaboratively in this House to make a positive difference for all the people we represent.
    Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your election as our Deputy Speaker.
    Since this is the first time I rise to speak in this 43rd Parliament, I would like to take the opportunity to thank my campaign team and all the volunteers. I thank the Richmond Centre voters for sending me back here for the fourth time; I am going into my 12th year of serving them.
    There are a lot of issues that have not been dealt with in the throne speech. First of all, when I looked at the word count, the word “seniors” only came up once. Of course pensions were mentioned, but those areas are probably very complicated and not all seniors are looking at that.
    The first issue is about affordability for our seniors. When they go to the grocery store, all the prices have gone up because of the carbon tax. Also, the Liberal government took away their transit credit and there is no protection against fraud to seniors. Some seniors become lost physically and mentally, and the government has done nothing to help them so far.
    There is also nothing for family caregivers who have to look after their kids, their grandparents and often their own parents. This is something we should look at.
    Why are the Liberals forsaking seniors?

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member opposite on her fourth election to this House and of course 12 years in service. That certainly speaks for itself in terms of her ability to provide for her constituents.
    The question was on seniors, and Liberals have committed to increasing old age security by 10% for those who are 75 years and over. Over the last four years, we have invested in the guaranteed income supplement to make life easier for all seniors. This is an issue that resonates for me because there are many senior residents in Kings—Hants and this is an issue I heard about on people's doorsteps.
    I ask the member opposite to look at the government's record. Some 250,000 seniors were helped across this country in the last four years. We will continue that work, and we will continue to fight for seniors and to make sure they have a sustainable living.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, in the excitement of giving my first speech, I forgot to thank the people of Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. I will take the time to do so today. I thank them for trusting me and for electing me.
    Like my colleague, I am 26. I am also one of the youngest elected members of this Parliament. Like him, I worry about the state of the planet we are leaving for future generations.
    In its Speech from the Throne, the government shared its ambitions of fighting climate change, but it failed to offer any substantive polices to go with its good intentions.
    I want to know what tangible actions the government plans to take to fight climate change.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, over the last four years this government has done more than any other government in the history of this country to work on the issues related to climate change. We are on pace to be able to beat our climate accord by 2030.
    As it relates to the Speech from the Throne, I would remind the member opposite that it is a general document that outlines the principles and the work that will continue in the next four years. I would refer the member opposite to our platform during the election, which highlighted a lot of the work we will continue to do in the next four years.
    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned seniors and how the Liberal government is helping them. He was boasting about helping the people on old age security who are 75 years and older.
    When I was campaigning and door knocking, many of the seniors who are 65 years and over were crying for help because of the high costs of living, rent increases and the amount of money being taken up by inflation. Why is it that the government has taken the approach of raising the pension, which is good news, but only for people who are 75 years and older and not for people who are 65 years old and over?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to remind Canadians that it was our government that brought the retirement age in this country from 67 back down to 65. It had been raised by our Conservative colleagues. I would like to point to the fact that we are going to be raising the personal exemption to $15,000. That will provide a family, on average, upwards of $500 a year in savings. We are also going to invest in a national pharmacare plan, hopefully with the support of the House, because it is important for all Canadians, and it will be very beneficial for seniors.
     We look forward to working collaboratively in this House to make sure that we focus on issues that matter. I take a vested interest, as does this government.
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech, I would like to congratulate you on your reappointment as Deputy Speaker. I know in the last Parliament there was a great deal of respect on both sides of the House for the work that you did in the chair. Thank you so much.
    Since this is my first time speaking in this Parliament, I would like to thank the people of St. Catharines who put their trust in me. It is an incredible honour to represent such an amazing city in this place. Going door to door and hearing from the residents, it was a much different feeling this time around than the last, when we were running on adrenalin in 2015. However, hearing the concerns, addressing what we have done as a government, going to the polls and coming back with an increased margin really speaks to a lot of what our government has done.