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43rd PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 080

CONTENTS

Wednesday, April 14, 2021




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 080
2nd SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayer


[Statements by Members]

  (1405)  

[English]

    It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    [Members sang the national anthem]

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Birthday Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, Anne was born on April 14, 1921, in Portland, Ontario, on a farm that remains in her family today. As a student in a one-room school house, she proudly earned good grades and school prizes. She places an importance on education, clearly, as her three daughters and one of her granddaughters are education professionals.
     A dedicated pre-war and post-war DND employee, Anne married François Gagnon of the RCAF. She is a proud mother of three daughters, “Nanny” to her grandchildren and “Gigi” to her great grandchildren.
     A woman of many hobbies, Anne sewed fashionable outfits for her daughters, granddaughters and their Barbie dolls. She enjoys painting; watching political news; she favours the colour red; and watching golf, and Tiger Woods is her favourite, more enjoyable while sipping a manhattan. Anne lives by the motto, “It's only a number. You're as old as you feel.”
    I wish Anne a happy 100th birthday. May she have many more to come.

Donald Sobey

    Mr. Speaker, last month, Canada lost a businessman, philanthropist, arts patron, family man and Nova Scotian, the likes of which we may not see again.
     Today, I invite members in the House to join me in paying tribute to the life of Donald Creighton Rae Sobey.
    Starting in the basement of his family's grocery store in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Donald went on to become president, and later chairman, of Sobeys' parent company, Empire. Donald will also be remembered for his commitment to post-secondary education, delivering a variety of significant scholarships, as well as his passion for the arts, best expressed through his creation of the Sobey Art Award, which is today the pre-eminent prize for contemporary Canadian art.
    Donald was a fiercely proud Nova Scotian who believed in the promise of our province and its people. In 2014, he was appointed to the Order of Canada, and yet he taught us all that we are never too important to be nice to people. Donald Sobey lived a full life of purpose and charity.
    I invite all members and all Canadians to join me in offering our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

Western Hockey League

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to highlight the co-operation between the Western Hockey League and the Government of Saskatchewan in designating Regina the hub city for the east division of the league.
    Sports at all levels have suffered during the pandemic, but the use of the hub city model has proven to be an effective approach to keeping athletes on the ice, while maintaining strict health and safety protocols.
     On February 20, teams from Saskatchewan and Manitoba arrived in Regina to begin their quarantine period. A 24-game season began on March 12. Players, coaches and staff are required to undergo weekly PCR tests, daily symptom checks and masks are required at all times, except when on the ice. These measures have allowed hockey fans in western Canada to enjoy the season, while maintaining the health and safety of the players and the community.
    I welcome the teams of the WHL east division to Regina.

[Translation]

Multi-Service Centre in Blainville

    Mr. Speaker, the Maison de la persévérance will be opening its doors in Blainville, and that is great news for young people in the ridings of Thérèse-De Blainville and Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.
    Three organizations in the RCM of Thérèse-De Blainville, the Centre Oméga, the École de l'être and the Association PANDA, have spent the last three years working on this project.
    They decided to pool their resources to better meet the needs of young people and create an innovative and inclusive multi-service hub. The Maison de la persévérance will enable families to access complementary services that support whole child development and help kids stay in school and engage in their community.
    Congratulations to the organizations and stakeholders, the City of Blainville, and everyone who worked together to bring this major project to fruition.

Ontario Youth

    Mr. Speaker, last week, I had the pleasure to speak to two virtual classes that are part of the virtual school learning program or P.A.V.É., a civics and citizenship class and an exploring career options class.
    I would like to thank Ms. Fraser, a teacher from the public school board of eastern Ontario, for inviting me to talk to over 50 15-year-old students. We talked about things like the work that MPs do, community involvement and the challenges related to the health crisis. I also had the privilege of answering questions from the students, who were very attentive and professional. Our youth are very dedicated.
    I am proud of these young people and thank them for welcoming me. I wish them great success and hope that they find careers they are passionate about. They are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the leaders of today.

  (1410)  

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, my constituents are sick of COVID-19. They want to hear a plan from the government to get us out of this pandemic and to move us toward recovery.
     Getting out of the pandemic means making vaccines available to Canadians and ramping up testing. Restrictive lockdown measures that Canadians now face result in the failure of the government to deliver in these vital areas.
    I believe that a brighter future is just around the corner. Canadians want an end to the pandemic and they want a recovery plan, a plan that recognizes the value and dignity of all work in all sectors of the economy and in all regions of the country. The Conservatives have presented an ambitious optimistic recovery plan to secure jobs by recovering one million jobs lost during the pandemic, create a strategic stockpile of essential products, secure accountability, secure mental health and secure Canada's economy by balancing the budget over the next decade.
    Canadians are ready for a government that is focused on hope for recovery instead on justifying failure, a government that believes our best days are ahead, a government that once again believes that better is possible.

April Celebrations

     Mr. Speaker, April is a month when many faiths and cultural communities are celebrating important holidays.
     The Grace United Church and other churches celebrated Easter. Gauri Shankar Mandir and other Mandirs celebrated Navratri. Tamil communities celebrate Puthandu today. Nepali celebrated the new year. Guru Nanak Langar and Sewa food bank delivered food to those in need as a way to celebrate Vaisakhi and demonstrate their selfless service. Taha Musalla, Masjid Mubarak and other mosques are safely observing Ramadan.
    Throughout Brampton, culture and faith organizations are continuing to serve Bramptonians and find new ways, virtual ways, to connect with the community. Many Canadians are getting support from culture and faith organizations. I want to thank them and all front-line workers for the support they are providing in Brampton South and across Canada.
    Throughout the COVID pandemic, we are fully reminded that diversity is our strength.

International Day of Pink

    Mr. Speaker, it is International Day of Pink when we renew our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Today and always, we stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ2+ community in Canada and everywhere.
     Fourteen years ago, students at a high school in Nova Scotia saw their classmate bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The next day, students wore pink shirts to support their classmate, an act that resonated around the world. All of us can learn from their example by coming together and standing up so that everyone can be their authentic self.
    For all those who feel alone, anxious or hurt, they are not alone. They are loved and supported. Today, we say yes to compassion, empathy and standing up for one another. We say no to bullying and hurtful words that leave long-lasting and emotional scars.
     Today and always, let us lift each other up and ensure everyone belongs.

First Responders

    Mr. Speaker, recently, I met with the witness of a tragic hit-and-run accident. For a passing-by motorist to find a young woman severely injured lying in the gutter next to a wintry highway, it was a deeply traumatic experience. However, as this witness reminded me, this is the reality of our first responders every single day.
    This pandemic has been hard on everyone, but even more so for those on our front lines who face new risks on top of horrible tragedies and accidents. In British Columbia, where we have a significant increase in opioid deaths, it is also our first responders who are the first on the scene.
    As parliamentarians will know, often in the spring in this place, we visit, in person, with representatives of many of our first responders. This year, we will not have that opportunity.
     I would ask all members of this place to join me in sincerely thanking our first responders for the critically important work they do every day on our behalf.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Micheline Lemieux

    Mr. Speaker, 2021 has been a tough year for my community so far. We have lost several tremendous citizens.
    Today, I want to express my great sorrow at the loss of Micheline Lemieux, who died in her sleep on March 21 at the age of 70.
    Everyone knew her. She was always travelling around Old Aylmer on her bike. Her community involvement was legendary. She was involved in the Aylmer Heritage Association, Option Femmes Emploi, as a founding member, the Association des professionnels, Industriels et commerçants du secteur Aylmer, or APICA, the Symmes Inn Museum, L’Imagier Art Centre and the Boucher Forest Foundation, just to name a few. My community is stronger thanks to her efforts.
    We extend our deepest condolences to her family. I am very grateful to them for lending us Micheline. She leaves behind a very real, solid and enduring legacy. We will miss her very much.
    Rest in peace, dear Micheline.

[English]

Laborers' International Union of North America

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to recognize the 118th anniversary of the Laborers' International Union of North America. From its start in 1903 as a construction union, its members can now be found working in all sectors of the economy. In its proud history, LiUNA has played an important role in building strong communities. They help ensure working men and women enjoy the benefits of a growing economy and give workers the security of knowing that no matter what challenges they face, they are never alone.
    Recently, LiUNA stood up for the thousands of union workers whose jobs were lost with the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. It is working tirelessly to defend the thousands of family-supporting union jobs now at risk with the possible shut down of Line 5.
    I send my congratulations to LiUNA and the over 100,000 workers and retirees they represent in Canada for 118 years of standing up for working Canadians and wish them a happy anniversary.

Blood Donation

    Mr. Speaker, it has been five months since I confronted the health minister in the House of Commons about the government's broken promise to end the blood ban.
    For far too long, gay, bisexual and trans men in this country have had to live with stigma because of the policies of Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. The Prime Minister, the health minister and everybody on the government side committed six years ago to eliminate this. The commitment was not to study it, not to review it, not to talk about it more, but to actually act.
    Yesterday, I launched a video of my personal story of how, about 17 years ago, I went to donate blood and could not, simply because I was gay. I encourage Canadians across the country to visit endthebloodban.ca. The time for talk, word salads and virtue signalling is over. It is time to end the discriminatory blood ban in this country once and for all.

[Translation]

Laurentian University

    Mr. Speaker, as part of the CCAA proceedings, Laurentian University is cancelling the only midwifery education program that trains students in French and serves northern Ontario.
    In a region that has trouble finding doctors, midwives help fill that void, ensuring that pregnant women get better primary care for childbirth and so much more.

[English]

    These courses also benefit indigenous students, many of whom return to provide midwife services in their home communities.
    As we work through the pandemic to protect health care workers and hospital resources, cancelling programs that help women safely give birth at home makes little sense. This decision will cost the public more when fewer midwives will be available for the north, and across Ontario, and more doctors will be needed to deliver babies.
    The CCAA was never intended for public institutions. These cuts to health care courses limit opportunities in the north for indigenous, francophone and racialized students, and reduce access to services women rely on. We must act now.

[Translation]

Ishtai Family

    Mr. Speaker, 10 years of war in Syria have resulted in 400,000 dead, more than six million refugees, tens of thousands of detained or missing prisoners and 12 million people facing starvation.
    This humanitarian disaster has given rise to a groundswell of solidarity in Quebec. In my riding, the people of the municipality of L'Assomption came together to help a Syrian family. They welcomed the Ishtai family and provided them with concrete support throughout their integration process.
    It is hard for me to describe how I felt when, on February 29, 2020, Basel, Alafif, Ziaa, Bizan and Suzie opened the door at the home where they now live. There they all were, in front of me, smiling, when in 2017, these Syrian refugees were crammed into a tiny apartment in Lebanon, where they had papered the walls with phrases in French, dreaming of the day they would come and settle in Quebec.
    I want to thank them for enriching Quebec with their presence. I thank them for choosing to live in French and for wanting to help us build our country.

  (1420)  

[English]

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Mr. Speaker, over the last 13 months, Canadians have significantly overhauled their lives in order to accommodate government-imposed restrictions. The Liberal government dangled hope in front of them, telling Canadians that if they followed the rules, stayed at home, closed their businesses and remained socially distanced, then things would go back to normal very soon. Thirteen months later, and there is still no plan. Hope is starting to wane. Lockdowns have resulted in businesses permanently closing. Loved ones have been lost. Hope is waning.
    We need a prime minister who seeks a solution for what is at stake here. We need a prime minister who sees people, not government, as the answer because it is Canadians who are ultimately the problem solvers, the solution makers and the wealth generators, the ones who will get us out of this current state.
    As a part of the Conservative recovery plan, we are committed to unleashing the power of the workforce and recovering the one million jobs that have been lost during this pandemic. As Conservatives, we will implement a strategy to restore this country to the powerhouse nation that it was always meant to be and can be. We will secure the future for Canadians.

Organ and Tissue Donation

    Mr. Speaker, this April I am raising awareness for Be a Donor Month. When one becomes a tissue and organ donor, one can change somebody's life forever by giving them an opportunity for a better and healthier life. One organ donor has the potential to save eight lives, and since 2003, over 20,000 Ontarians have received a life-saving transplant. Unfortunately, while great progress has been made, there are still 1,600 Ontarians waiting for a transplant, including 24 patients in my riding of Brampton North.
    I am proud to be a registered organ donor. I want to thank organizations such as Amar Karma, which raises awareness on organ donation in the South Asian community, and the Trillium Gift of Life Network, which delivers and coordinates organ donations. Every single one of us, aged 16 and older, regardless of medical conditions, can sign up to be an organ donor at beadonor.ca.
    I encourage each and every person to take two minutes to register today and help save someone's life tomorrow.
    Before we go to Oral Questions, I would like to remind hon. members that S.O. 31s are to be 60 seconds. I did not cut anybody off, and I really do not want to do so because I know how important these messages are. I remind members to keep them to 60 seconds.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, CNN, Forbes magazine and The Atlantic have all covered the government's disastrous vaccine rollout just in the last week. The severe third wave Canadians are experiencing right now is the direct result of the months it has taken for Canada to secure vaccines.
    Is the Prime Minister satisfied that his vaccine rollout has now become an international embarrassment?
    Mr. Speaker, as we make it through this third wave, we are going to have to continue to hold on even longer, even as vaccines are arriving in record numbers into Canada.
    We have delivered 11.7 million vaccines to provinces and territories, and 20% of Canadians have received at least their first dose. We are now actually third in the G20 in terms of the percentage of Canadians who have received the vaccine.
    This is promising, but we know there is much more to do. That is why we are working day and night to ensure the delivery of more doses even quicker.
    Mr. Speaker, over 300,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine that were supposed to be delivered to Ontario last week have still not arrived. Maybe they still just have to hold on, as the Prime Minister told them.
    Mass vaccination clinics are now closing as a result of his failure to deliver. Schools are closing across the country. How much worse is the third wave going to have to get before the Prime Minister realizes he has failed Canadians?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, every single week we receive a million doses of Pfizer, which will rise to two million doses a week in the month of June, and more doses hopefully coming even sooner than that.
    Moderna continues to deliver millions of doses as well. There have been challenges with the Moderna procurement system, which have caused a few days of delay here and there, but we are keeping provinces apprised every single step of the way of the delivery timelines, the expectations and any challenges with it. The co-operation with the provinces has been significant throughout.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, those of us in virtual Parliament were unable to hear the Prime Minister's response because one of the hon. members was accidentally off mute.
    We will start right from the beginning and let the hon. Leader of the Opposition ask his question again and let the Prime Minister answer again.
    Mr. Speaker, once again, 300,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine that the government promised Ontario last week have not been delivered. The Prime Minister said that from time to time deliveries have not come. He is also months behind the developed world. Mass vaccination clinics are closing in Ontario. Schools are closing in Ontario. The severity of the third wave in Canada lies at the feet of the current Prime Minister. When will he admit he has failed Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, we see that whenever the Leader of the Opposition has a chance, he goes to disinformation and misleading Canadians. We are not months behind the developed world; on the contrary, we are now third in the G20 when it comes to delivering vaccines to Canadians.
    We will continue to ensure that vaccines flow. We will continue to keep our partners in the provinces and territories apprised of delivery schedules, of delivery delays, like we do see, of a few days here and there, with Moderna. We will continue to deliver Pfizer on time, and all the other vaccines as quickly as we possibly can. When we get them, we send them to the provinces immediately.
    Mr. Speaker, “This is the worst moment of the pandemic thus far,” are the words of the president of the University Health Network in Toronto.
    The Prime Minister's big lift is the big letdown. It is months later than other countries. Other countries are reopening. We are going back into lockdown and it is going to be the worst because we are months behind, courtesy of the Prime Minister.
    How does the Prime Minister expect Canadians and provinces to fight COVID-19 when he is months behind on getting us the vaccines?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Leader of the Opposition bringing up the challenges facing Ontario right now. I can assure him that we are working and reaching out to Ontario to help through this period of crisis it is going through. I have heard the calls from doctors in Ontario, health networks and concerned residents in highly challenged areas who are not getting the support they need. The federal government, as we always are, will be there to support the province as it delivers for vulnerable Canadians.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, CNN and several international media outlets have covered this government's inadequate vaccine rollout this week. The third wave Canadians are experiencing right now is the direct result of the months it has taken for Canada to secure vaccines.
    Why will the Prime Minister not admit that his vaccine rollout is an embarrassment?
    Mr. Speaker, we promised to deliver six million vaccines by the end of March, and we delivered far more than that. Several weeks later, we have delivered nearly 12 million doses, and that number keeps going up. We are now third among developed countries, in the G20, in terms of Canadians who have received the vaccine.
    We will continue to do more. We are working day and night to ensure the delivery of more doses even quicker, because I know that this is how we will get through this together.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are experiencing the worst delays yet in getting the vaccine. Canadians are worried about their health. The Prime Minister is asking us to be patient, but the United States is starting to reopen and we are still in lockdown.
    Was the Prime Minister's failure to act quickly the cause of this more serious third wave?
    Mr. Speaker, no, we are all working together to fight this third wave, and I want to acknowledge the efforts of many of the provinces to deliver the vaccines quickly as soon as they arrive. We will continue to be there to help with the millions of doses that are arriving in the coming weeks. We will continue to be there to help Canadians get through this. We still have to stay the course for a bit with the restrictions because this third wave is very serious, and I encourage everyone to follow the advice of public health officials and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, to properly manage the challenges facing air transportation, the government may have to be pointed in the right direction. It clearly confused assistance for the industry with a sweet deal for Air Canada friends. The agreement does not guarantee service in Quebec's regional capitals and is funding the competition, benefiting a company with a terrible record.
    Are we to understand that regional carriers will only get some of this money if they follow Air Canada's rules or is Air Canada being funded by the federal government to continue to bring down small regional airlines?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that it is very important to protect workers in the airline industry and, indeed, airlines and competition within Canada.
    We will continue to ensure that remote regions are well served. We will ensure that clients of Air Canada, for example, and those of all other airlines receive refunds. We will also provide assistance for the aerospace industry.
    We know how important it is to move forward and to prepare for a strong comeback after this pandemic. That is exactly what we are doing.
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about refunds. The deal is so skewed in Air Canada's favour that it looks like it was negotiated between Air Canada and Air Canada.
    For instance, in order to get ticket refunds, customers have to fill out a written request. The federal government is letting Air Canada require this written request, even though the airline already has all the information needed to issue a refund. The ulterior motive can only be to prevent some people from submitting requests, thereby saving taxpayers money.
    Has the Prime Minister been duped by Air Canada, or are they in cahoots?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been there for travellers and airline workers from the beginning, and we will always be there for consumers, too.
    We have received assurances that people will be refunded. We are also here to ensure that the airline continues to serve the regions and protect jobs.
    This is good news for the Canadian airline industry, but it is especially good news for Canadians.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said that his government has been working on a plan to vaccinate Canadians since last summer.
    We now have a record number of COVID-19 cases and a growing number of people in ICUs. We are clearly in an urgent COVID-19 crisis, and the third wave is hitting hard.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that his plan is not working and that he has to change it?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that some parts of the country are having major problems with COVID-19 cases.
    Other regions are doing better. The federal government will keep working to support hard-hit regions like Ontario, with help from the armed forces and the Red Cross, which are lending a hand in long-term care homes, with rapid testing resources, and with our ongoing efforts to obtain more vaccines faster so we can get through this crisis.

  (1435)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are in the middle of a third wave of COVID-19, which is hitting hard.
    We recently learned that Scarborough hospital had to cancel 10,000 vaccination appointments in communities for people who are hard hit. These are the frontline workers, the often racialized, in communities where they cannot work from home. They have to go in to work.
    These communities and these members now no longer have access to a vaccine, simply because there are not enough doses. The Liberal government has failed to secure enough doses. People are frustrated. Canadians are angry, and they want to know how the Prime Minister let things get so bad.
    Mr. Speaker, we recognize that things are getting very bad, particularly in Ontario. That is why we are continuing to be there to support the Ford government as it is working forward to try to vaccinate and support more people.
    We know there are massive challenges. There is also an issue that we are continuing to work on, which is delivering more vaccines every single week to the provinces. We know that is the way we get through it. In the meantime, we will always be there to support provinces as they face the challenges this pandemic is bringing.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada is making headlines around the globe, but for all the wrong reasons.
    Canada's handling of the pandemic has been a failure. Even the popular American news network CNN has reported on it. The only one who does not seem to realize this is the Prime Minister himself, who went as far as to say that CNN should have stuck to the facts.
    Does the Prime Minister still think CNN is spreading fake news?
    Mr. Speaker, we have made progress in delivering vaccines. In all, 11.3 million doses have been distributed right across the country. Canada is now third in the G20 in terms of getting vaccines to our citizens.
    We know that there is still a lot more work to do. That is why we are working hard every day to secure more doses even faster. In the meantime, we will continue to do whatever it takes to support the provinces and territories, to support small businesses, and to help families get through this difficult third wave.
    Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister wants to talk about the facts, we will do just that.
    Instead of working with the United States on a coordinated response to the pandemic, the Liberal government chose to co-operate with China. Canada has just surpassed the United States in case counts per million people. The provinces are shutting down for another extended period. The government has been in reactive mode from the outset.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that his handling of the pandemic is a failure?
    Mr. Speaker, the so-called facts put forward by the member opposite are ridiculous.
    From the start, we have been working with the United States to coordinate on the border and to have a harmonized approach to managing the pandemic. We will continue to work with our friends and allies. We recognize that this pandemic will not end anywhere until it ends everywhere. That is why we are also involved in international initiatives. We will always do whatever it takes to help Canadians get through this crisis.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if we live in the same reality, but the facts speak for themselves.
    In all, 20% of Americans have received both doses of the vaccine, compared with 2% of Canadians. Media reports suggest large stocks of vaccines and a significant dependence on other countries. We were not prepared. Instead of taking action 13 months ago, the government was asleep at the switch while other countries were getting organized. We want to collaborate with the government, but can the Prime Minister admit that he failed when it comes to vaccination?
    Mr. Speaker, it is quite the opposite.
    Early last summer, we negotiated with potential vaccine manufacturers in order to have the most diversified portfolio of almost any other country, so we could secure more potential doses for Canadians than any other country in the world.
    At the same time, we have been working with these companies to deliver more and more doses. We now rank third in the G20, with more than 20% of the population having received at least one dose. We will continue to deliver for Canadians, and we will continue to get through this pandemic together.

  (1440)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, British magazine The Spectator wrote this about our Prime Minister: “The premier best known for ethics scandals and blackface pictures...claims that the U.K. is facing a 'very serious third wave'...despite figures showing that the U.K. has currently the lowest case rates in Europe.”
    This is not the only misinformation the Prime Minister has spread. His government said border measures do more harm than good and that masks don't work.
    With his track record, is the Prime Minister concerned that Canadians no longer trust the government with their health and safety?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, every step of the way we have worked with experts and scientists to ensure that these are first and foremost as we move through this pandemic. We have led the way on measures that have kept Canadians safe. We have been there to support provinces and territories as they have had to make difficult decisions on restrictions by supporting them with PPE and rapid tests, but also with measures that help small businesses, that help families, that help workers and that help us all get through this pandemic.
    It is an extremely difficult time, but we are going to get through it together by continuing to work together.
    Mr. Speaker, that misinformation is really tough. It was the Liberal health minister, under the Prime Minister, who said that people should not wear masks and who was photographed without a mask in an airport.
    While other countries were planning a massive vaccination campaign, the Prime Minister spent last summer in a cloud of scandal after giving $900 million to an outfit that paid his mother for speaking gigs.
    When asked this week if he could have done anything better, the Prime Minister said “no”. Why will he not show some contrition while Canadians get infected by the variants?
    Mr. Speaker, it is concerning but also symptomatic of the Conservative Party of Canada that they would pick someone to be their health critic who then gives a question listing a whole bunch of facts that are simply not correct.
    Mr. Speaker, CNN's Jake Tapper just called that type of spin, “Tru-Anon”. I really hope that sticks.
    Canadians deserve better. There are zoo animals being vaccinated in the United States while Quebec is reporting a wave of femicides because women are locked down with their abusers. The variants are spreading across the country. If we had had vaccines in January and February while the rest of the world was rolling them out, we would not be in this situation.
    Does the Prime Minister really think that this is going to cut it, and that Canadians will keep allowing him to pass the buck while people get infected with variants and ICUs fill up?
    Mr. Speaker, we have worked closely with provinces and territories across the country to manage the pandemic. Yes, there have been provinces that are harder hit than others. The member opposite's province is one notable challenge and has faced issues recently, but we have consistently been there to support those provinces, to help people with direct aid for families and to help small business owners to get our economy roaring back. We have continued to hit our milestones in terms of vaccines, and surpassed them, because we need to deliver for Canadians, which is exactly what we are doing.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, quarantines for temporary foreign workers are a fiasco. Having already abdicated all of its responsibilities toward farmers, the federal government hired Switch Health to manage the mandatory day-10 COVID-19 tests. As a result, francophone farmers are wasting days trying to get service from a anglophone company that cannot keep up with demand. Some workers are being forced to remain in quarantine for up to 25 days before they get their results.
    The UPA and FERME Québec have solutions. Will the Prime Minister listen to them?
    Mr. Speaker, we will always support our farmers, whom we have relied on so heavily during the pandemic and at other times. We recognize that there are challenges regarding temporary workers, testing and vaccination. We will continue to work with Quebec and the relevant organizations to ensure that we overcome these challenges, and we will always be there to keep supporting our farmers and the essential work that they do.
    Mr. Speaker, on top of the company being unable to serve francophones, there are big delays in the process, which is costing farmers. The season is just beginning, with 500 to 600 temporary foreign workers, and Switch Health is already overwhelmed. Imagine what will happen when there are 14,000 workers. This same company will also be responsible for processing everyone entering the country and administering all of the tests.
    Can the Prime Minister provide assurances that agricultural workers will not have to quarantine for longer than necessary because of administrative delays?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I share the hon. member's grave concerns.
    We are working to ensure that our farmers get the help they need to carry out the essential work they are doing this year and every year. We will be there for our farmers as we have always been.

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, was the Prime Minister looking in the mirror when he said, “It’s hard not to feel disappointed in your government when every day there is a new scandal” ? That is the MO of this Prime Minister. He breaks the law, he gets caught, he deflects and then he covers it up, time and again. Canadians deserve good, ethical governance, but that will not stop this Prime Minister from doing whatever it takes to save his own political skin.
    When will this Prime Minister start putting the needs of Canadians ahead of his own?
    Mr. Speaker, while Conservatives focus on personal partisan attacks, we are focused on Canadians.
     I made a straightforward promise to Canadians at the very beginning of this pandemic that we would have their backs for as long as it takes with as much as it takes, and that is exactly what we have done every step of the way. We continue to work hard, day and night, to get more vaccines into Canada. We are continuing to support small business owners and workers across the country, as well as families, seniors and young people. We know we need to get through this pandemic as quickly as possible and bring the economy roaring back. That is exactly what we are focused on, here on this side of the House.
    There we have it, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister has no intention of cleaning up his act. He is fine with being a global laughingstock and punching bag. He blocked investigations by law enforcement, by officers of Parliament and by parliamentary committees. Whether it is at the ethics committee or the defence committee, once the opposition starts asking tough questions he denies and deflects. When he does not get his way, he shuts down Parliament.
    What will it take for this repeat offender to get the message that the laws apply to him?
    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives continue to focus on me, while we focus on Canadians. We are going to continue to be there to support Canadians through this pandemic with direct supports, with supports for businesses, with more vaccines, with more rapid tests and with more contact tracing. We are going to continue to focus on the things that matter to Canadians as we get through this pandemic and as we build back better for a greener, more prosperous and fairer Canada. That is exactly what we are focused on. The Conservatives can continue to play politics if they want.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, every day, Canadians are shocked by the Liberal government's creativity when it comes to helping out its buddies. As we saw with the WE scandal, when the time comes to return favours, the Prime Minister can be extremely generous.
    Spending on management consultants has increased by $6 billion over the last six years. Spending on legal fees, consultants and others has never been so high, and this is all coming out of Canadians' pockets. Could the Prime Minister tell us how much of this money has gone into the pockets of his friends?
    Mr. Speaker, as a government, we have always relied on facts and science when fulfilling our mandate in the service of Canadians. We can see that this has worked over the last number of years.
    Whether it is the millions of Canadians that we have lifted out of poverty, including 300,000 children, or the million jobs we have created through our work of the past five years, we are here to meet the expectations of Canadians and we rely on the guidance of experts. We will always listen to those who have ideas to share.
    Mr. Speaker, a leopard does not change its spots, and the Prime Minister will not answer the question.
    An additional $6 billion in consulting fees is a lot of money. This Prime Minister will stop at nothing. This was also apparent in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, when his buddies once again came out ahead. Meanwhile, the first woman minister of justice and attorney general of Canada found herself booted from cabinet. That is significant.
    Was the WE Charity scandal merely the tip of the iceberg? Does the Prime Minister realize that the stink of the sponsorship scandal is beginning to hover over his Liberal government?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a shame that the Conservatives are so keen to make personal attacks and that they forget that the first woman justice minister was Kim Campbell, who was also the first woman prime minister of our country. It is sad that the Conservatives forget the past.
    We will always be there to defend women and to recognize our country's historic events.
    I would like to remind members that, when they ask a question, they should listen to the answer.

[English]

    It is a good measure if we do not all speak together. I just wanted to remind everyone.
    The hon. member for London—Fanshawe.

Post-Secondary Education

    Mr. Speaker, Laurentian University is a valued community hub in Northern Ontario. It is Canada's sole university with a tri-cultural mandate to support French, English and indigenous communities. Deep cuts and layoffs were announced this week. These threaten francophone and indigenous education, courses on violence against women, in-demand bilingual midwifery training and world-class research. The government talks about supporting education, research, women and reconciliation, but when it comes to taking action it is absent.
    Will the government help to save Laurentian University?
    Mr. Speaker, we are deeply concerned and are following the situation at Laurentian University very closely. We are in direct contact with the province on this issue. Our thoughts are with all of those who have lost their jobs and all of the employees and students who are facing this difficult situation. We will continue to support post-secondary institutions because the futures of our two official languages depend on them. We are prepared to work with our colleagues in Ontario to achieve this, as education falls under their jurisdiction.
    Mr. Speaker, the lobbying registry shows that when the financial crisis hit Laurentian University, it lobbied the members for Sudbury and Nickel Belt numerous times and nothing was done. The Prime Minister used Laurentian University as a political backdrop when he visited Northern Ontario. Now this institution, which has provided education to generations of francophone, indigenous and working-class youth, is being torn apart and stripped through the use of the Bankruptcy Act, and the government is sitting on the sidelines.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to working with us? What steps will he take to keep Laurentian University from being ripped apart?
    Mr. Speaker, just as we stood up for the francophone university in Ontario a few years ago when there were concerns about its future, we will be there to defend and support Laurentian University as an important institution for Franco-Ontarians and, indeed, for all Canadians with our official languages. We have reached out to the Ontario government to hear what its plan is for how we are going to move forward. We are there to be partners on ensuring that this important institution does not falter. That is a priority for us. We will continue to work with the province on this issue.

[Translation]

Italian Canadians

    Mr. Speaker, Canada has over 1.6 million Canadians of Italian origin. Ours is one of the largest Italian diasporas in the world.

[English]

    During the Second World War, hundreds of Italian Canadians were interned for the simple reason that they were of Italian heritage. Parents were taken away from their homes, leaving children without their fathers in many cases and families without a paycheque to put food on their table. Lives and careers, businesses and reputations were interrupted and ruined, and yet no one was held responsible. Italian Canadians have lived with these memories for many years and they deserve closure.
    Can the Prime Minister provide an update on a formal apology on behalf of the Government of Canada to—
    The right hon. Prime Minister.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Alfred-Pellan for his question and his work with the community.

[English]

    Canadians of Italian heritage whose immigrant stories are so familiar have earned the respect of a grateful nation, but Canadians of Italian heritage deal with ongoing discrimination related to mistakes made by our governments of the past that continue to affect them to this day. I am proud to stand up and say that our government will right these wrongs with a formal apology in the month of May 2021. We thank them for choosing Canada as a place to call home.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the two Canadian female soldiers who filed sexual misconduct complaints against the chief of the defence staff were exceptionally courageous.
    What we saw Monday from the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois was anything but courageous. At the defence committee, the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois colluded to shut down, cancel and extinguish a parliamentary committee that was studying this difficult issue. Maybe some people think that is okay, but the victims sure do not.
    Why do the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal Party not want to get to the bottom of this issue?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is well aware that committees are independent and do important work. That is why the Minister of Defence participated in the Standing Committee on National Defence's study. He spent six hours with the committee for that study alone.
    As we have said, our government will not tolerate any form of sexual misconduct. The time for patience is over. Now it is time to act.
    Mr. Speaker, to take action, you need all of the facts and everyone who has something to say must be able to speak.
    This is not the first time at the Liberal members and their buddies in the Bloc Québécois have joined forces to prevent parliamentarians from doing their jobs. Last year, the Bloc and the Liberal Party joined forces to prevent the Ethics Commissioner from testifying about his report, the “Trudeau II Report”, on the SNC-Lavalin scandal. These parties are once again buddy-buddy to stop us from getting to the bottom of things.
    What do the Bloc Québécois and the Liberal Party have to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, committees are independent and make their decisions based on the important work that they do.
    The Conservatives' frustrations always seem connected to partisanship and result in attacks. The Liberal committee members and other committee members want to be able to move forward. They want to see action, and that is exactly what the committee decided to do last week.
    Some hon. member: Oh, oh!
    I remind members that if they wish to speak, they can get closer, as long as they stay two metres apart. That is allowed.
    It is not civil to yell from one side of the House to the other.
    I simply wanted to remind members.
    The hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals, with support from the Bloc, have shut down the investigation into abuse of power and sexual misconduct at the highest levels in the Canadian Armed Forces. Key witnesses have not appeared, critical information has not been provided and we still do not know how a CDS could remain in his position for three years with unresolved allegations of sexual misconduct against him. The Prime Minister may not care, but this matters to Canadians.
    Will the Prime Minister admit he has failed women in the military?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite well knows that committees are independent and they do important work. That is why the Minister of National Defence worked with the national defence committee on this matter extensively. He appeared for more than six hours on this study alone.
    As we have stated, our government will not stand for any form of sexual misconduct. The time for patience is over; the time for action is now.
    Mr. Speaker, so the Prime Minister maintains there has been no wrongdoing by his government as the military failed to eradicate sexual misconduct in its ranks. After being made aware of the allegations against General Vance in 2018, the Clerk of the Privy Council gave the Prime Minister a plan to replace him before the last election. Instead, the Prime Minister chose to reward him and make him the longest-serving chief of the defence staff ever.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that he failed women in the military?
    Mr. Speaker, anyone who serves in the Canadian Armed Forces deserves a safe work environment and deserves to be able to have supports and resources when they come forward with serious allegations. We know there is still much work to do in reforming the culture at the Canadian Armed Forces.
    We have taken significant steps over the past years, but it is clear that not enough has been done. We have more to do, and that is exactly what we are continuing to work on. We know we need to make significant improvements in many of our institutions, and that is something we are all working on together.

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, it has been five years since the Panama papers came to light, and we know that Revenu Québec recovered $21.2 million that was hidden in tax havens. That is not a lot, but it is more than the federal government was able to recover for all of Canada.
    That brings me to the single tax return. The Liberals are saying that they are against it because Revenu Québec would not be able to fight tax evasion abroad. Now that we know that Revenu Québec is already doing a better job of that than Ottawa is, will the Prime Minister support the single tax return and will he agree to transfer tax information from abroad to Quebec?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, for many months now, the Canada Revenue Agency has been very present and has been meeting the expectations of Canadians, and particularly Quebeckers, in a very direct, measurable and significant way with CERB and assistance for families and youth. We have seen how important it is to have a federal government that is present and engaged to support people in tough times. This is not the time to lose jobs in Quebec or to play sovereignty games. It is the time to work together, as we are doing now.
    Mr. Speaker, the National Assembly passed a unanimous motion. Quebec wants this, and we see the contempt of the Prime Minister for the will of the Quebec nation.
    The Prime Minister is doing nothing about tax havens. It is embarrassing that Quebec has recovered more money than all of Canada thanks to the Panama papers and without access to foreign tax information. It is even more embarrassing when we compare Canada to other sovereign nations. Canada has recovered 15 times less money than the top countries such as the United Kingdom and five times less than Colombia. In times of ballooning deficits, what is the Prime Minister waiting for to take the fight against tax havens seriously?
    Mr. Speaker, the opposite is true. From the start of our first term, we have invested record amounts in the Canada Revenue Agency to fight tax evasion and avoidance. We have seen important changes and improvements in the system because it is important to ensure that everyone pays taxes. That principle has guided our government from the very beginning and will continue to guide us.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, it has come to light that the government threatened to cancel future funding for the Halifax security forum if it awarded the John McCain Prize to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen. The government’s attempt to silence those critical of China is shameful and it plays right into China's desire to silence its critics abroad.
    Will the Prime Minister admit this was a mistake and commit to continuing to fund the Halifax International Security Forum even if it awards the John McCain Prize to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen?
    Mr. Speaker, the minister has already addressed this issue, including at committee yesterday.
    The government has supported and provided funding to the Halifax security forum throughout our time in office, and the minister has participated every year and will continue to.
    On Taiwan, I have always supported Taiwan's meaningful participation in multilateral international forums, and Canada continues to have strong and growing trade and people-to-people relations with Taiwan.

[Translation]

Health

     Mr. Speaker, determining the origin of the coronavirus is essential for preventing the next pandemic. However, we still do not know the exact origins of COVID-19, because Chinese leadership obstructed the investigation by the World Health Organization, the WHO.
    Will the Prime Minister publicly acknowledge that the WHO caved to pressure from China, and will he work with our allies in calling for an overhaul of that organization?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is committed to working with the WHO and international experts to get a better understanding of the origins of the pandemic.
    We have some shared concerns regarding the recent WHO-convened study in China. We support a transparent and independent analysis of the origins of the pandemic.
    We will continue to work with our partners and allies toward the development of an independent process for international evaluations of diseases of unknown origin in the future.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Taiwan's handling of the pandemic has been one of the world's most successful. With a population of only 23 million, it has had only 1,000 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths. Next month, countries will be participating in WHO's annual meeting, but Taiwan has not been invited, even though it had observer status until 2017.
     On Monday in the House, the foreign affairs minister referred to Taiwan as a country. In light of that position, does the government support Taiwan's participation at next month's meeting?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, as a government, we have always been consistent in supporting Taiwan's meaningful participation in international forums.
    Taiwan's role as an observer in the World Health Assembly's meetings is in the interest of global health. We welcome the participation from the entire international community to work together to promote global health.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, our government pledged to protect and support our farmers and to provide full and fair compensation to supply-managed sectors for losses arising from recent free trade agreements.
    In fact, the second compensation payment for dairy producers went out last week for a total of $460 million. Yesterday, our government announced the details of new programs for Canada's 4,800 chicken, turkey and egg producers.
    Would the Prime Minister tell us more about this great news for our egg and poultry producers?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell for his ongoing support for farmers.
    Poultry and egg producers will be entitled to financial assistance that they can invest in their business. Under this $630-million program, our government will contribute up to 70%, or up to 80% in the case of projects put forward by producers 35 years of age or under. Another $61 million will be allocated to a market development program for turkey and chicken.
    I want to thank all Canadian farmers, who have been so resilient throughout this pandemic.

[English]

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, we have another east coast lobster dispute. The fisheries minister has said that moderate livelihood lobster fishing by indigenous communities will follow existing DFO seasons, regulations and enforcement rules. However, the Liberal MP for Sydney—Victoria has said that this is wrong, that the minister's announcement is only for this year, an interim measure, and that first nations will be allowed to set their own seasons and rules.
    Are Liberals mistaking voters for lobsters heading to the traps and the dinner tables?
    Mr. Speaker, reconciliation is about recognizing rights that are not to be granted by governments but that are recognized as having been decided, in many cases, decades ago.
    We are working closely both with commercial fishermen and with Mi'kmaq fishers to ensure that we are moving forward in a way that is both scientifically sustainable and respects the existing rights that Mi'kmaq have towards a moderate livelihood.
    We know there is a path forward, and we look forward to continuing to work in constructive ways to resolve this challenge in the spirit of reconciliation and for a better future for everyone.
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, no one is disputing those rights at all. What we are questioning here are the various stories we are getting from the government. I have discovered that the fisheries minister flip-flopped and admitted to CBC Radio that the Liberal government's lobster announcement for fishing is “the plan for this season, or for this year”. The lobster is out of the pot. This is not what maritime Liberal MPs are telling voters down east.
    Would the PM like to confirm his government is not being straight with maritime fishing families?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, every step of the way we have worked to respect people's rights, to respect people's livelihoods and to move forward in a way that ensures a strong and growing economy with opportunities for everyone, in the spirit of reconciliation. It is not an easy thing, but it is an important thing. That is why we are taking it seriously and working step by step to advance in a way that is acceptable to everyone. We will continue to do the right work the right way to move this country forward.
    Mr. Speaker, the government and the Prime Minister are not being clear with Canadians. It sounds like this is nothing but a pre-election campaign gimmick to protect Liberal candidates with a policy of deception to secure votes, and the fisheries minister's plan will change the day after the next election, if the government is re-elected.
    Does voting Liberal down east mean a vote to allow separate indigenous lobster fisheries outside existing DFO seasons, regulations and enforcement rules? Can the Prime Minister confirm which message is correct: what the fisheries minister tells Ottawa, or what the fisheries minister is telling voters down east?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been clear every step of the way, both about ongoing negotiations and also about our values and our understanding of how important it is to move forward in true reconciliation and partnership with indigenous peoples, in ways that support families that have been fishing in that region for generations.
     We know this is an extremely important issue. We are going to continue those discussions and negotiations in good faith to make sure that we find the right solution for everyone: indigenous fishers, commercial fishers and everyone who lives in the Atlantic provinces and, indeed, across the country.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, in a time when women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the opposition wants to add to their burden by taking away their right to choose. Women's advocacy groups disagree with the extreme measures proposed in Bill C-233. This is not the time to debate women's rights; it is the time to uplift and support their economic recovery.
    Will the Prime Minister recommit to this House that he will always stand up for a woman's right to choose?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Markham—Stouffville for her strong leadership.
    Women and women alone have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. While the leader of the opposition is allowing an anti-abortion bill to be introduced, our government has defended and always will defend women's reproductive choice in Canada. We have taken action to protect this right including repealing outdated sections in the Criminal Code, investing in groups like Planned Parenthood and easing restrictions on Plan B to help increase its accessibility.
    We will always defend women's rights, while Conservatives politicians try to restrict them.

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, the government has done nothing to stop the Nav Canada studies to close flight control towers at airports across the country, which would shut them down. Removing air traffic control services at airports would threaten public safety and eliminate jobs. The Liberals know I proposed a legislative fix, Bill C-278, which would give the government the power to save these airports. So far, two transport ministers have failed to act, putting Canadian lives and jobs at risk.
    Now is the time to decide: no more excuses and no more hiding. Will the Prime Minister use the NDP's solution to protect these airports?
    Mr. Speaker, as Canadians have seen through this pandemic, our priority remains the safety and security of Canadians at all times. We are watching Nav Canada closely as it moves forward in its deliberations. We will ensure every step of the way that the safety, security, and prosperity of Canadians is not put at risk.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the pandemic, the Chair has repeatedly reminded members of the importance of respecting decorum and the dress code.
    I think we broke a record today, because during question period, we saw a member in his birthday suit. Naked. It might be worth reminding members, especially the men, that a jacket and tie are mandatory, but so are a shirt, underwear and pants.
    It is just a simple reminder. We could see that the member is in great shape, but I think members need to be reminded to be careful and check if their camera is on.

  (1515)  

    I thank the hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît for her observations. I did not see that, but while the member was speaking, I conferred with the technicians and they did indeed see something.
    I would like to remind members to always be vigilant when they are near a camera and a microphone.

[English]

    Is the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands rising on the same point of order?
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a different point of order. During question period today, the Conservatives referred to the first female justice minister. They misquoted that. It was actually Kim Campbell. I recognize they probably do not know that because it was a different Conservative Party at a different time, but the first female justice minister was—
    I want to thank the hon. member for that information, but it is starting to turn into debate at this point.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that if you seek it you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
    I move that given (a) the risk to Canada's national security posed by Huawei, (b) the fact that China's national security laws require all companies to support, assist and co-operate with China's Communist Party intelligence work, (c) the fact that Canada's Five Eyes partners have already banned Huawei, and (d) the government's failure to respond to a motion passed in the House on November, 20, 2020, calling on the government to ban Huawei, the House repeat its call on the government to ban Huawei from Canada's 5G network.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving of the motion will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Speaker: I am afraid we do not have agreement on that.
    There is another point of order. The hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills.

Halifax International Security Forum

     Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties, and I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:
    That this House (a) agree with the Statement of the Vice President of the Halifax International Security Forum that, with respect to the John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service, President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan "is a well-respected international leader, the first female president of Taiwan, and a strong global advocate for democracy.... she would certainly be an ideal fit for this award"; and (b) calls on the government to continue funding the Forum at current levels even if the John McCain award is presented to President Tsai Ing-wen.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay. The motion is carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    During debate at the late show last night, I mistakenly claimed that the member for Calgary Nose Hill signed a letter calling for an end to the lockdowns that are helping to protect our most vulnerable from COVID-19. I was wrong. It was a tweet in support of ending lockdowns, which was reported by the Western Standard as the MP for Calgary Nose Hill “joins Alberta UCP MLAs in blasting Kenney's third COVID lockdown”.
    I do apologize for the error and ask that the record be corrected.
    I want to thank the hon. member for that clarification.
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

  (1520)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    During question period today, I did not mean any disrespect to the Hon. Kim Campbell, who was the first female minister of justice in Canada. I want the House to know that I am aware that Ms. Campbell held that position.
    What I meant to say was that the Prime Minister booted the first indigenous female justice minister from cabinet. That is the precise wording I should have used.
    That is a matter of debate, so we will leave it at that.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[Translation]

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act

    It being 3:20 p.m., pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at report stage of Bill C-224.
    Call in the members.

[English]

    And the bells having rung:
    The question is on Motion No. 1. The vote on this motion will also apply to Motions Nos. 2 to 4.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    (The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 89)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Alleslev
Allison
Arnold
Atwin
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Boudrias
Bragdon
Brassard
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Carrie
Chabot
Champoux
Charbonneau
Chiu
Chong
Cooper
Cumming
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Diotte
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Findlay (South Surrey—White Rock)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fortin
Gallant
Gaudreau
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Harder
Hoback
Jansen
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacKenzie
Maguire
Marcil
Martel
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLean
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Nater
Normandin
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perron
Plamondon
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Rood
Ruff
Sahota (Calgary Skyview)
Saroya
Savard-Tremblay
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shin
Shipley
Simard
Sloan
Soroka
Stanton
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Thériault
Therrien
Tochor
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vignola
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williamson
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 155


NAYS

Members

Alghabra
Amos
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Bachrach
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baker
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bessette
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blois
Boulerice
Bratina
Brière
Cannings
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Champagne
Chen
Collins
Cormier
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Garrison
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hardie
Harris
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Manly
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miller
Monsef
Morrissey
Murray
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qaqqaq
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Regan
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota (Brampton North)
Saini
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simms
Singh
Sorbara
Spengemann
Tabbara
Tassi
Trudeau
Turnbull
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Yip
Young
Zahid
Zann
Zuberi

Total: -- 179


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare Motion No. 1 defeated. I therefore declare Motions Nos. 2 to 4 defeated.

[English]

    At this time, the question would ordinarily be put on the motion for concurrence at report stage of Bill C-224. However, as the House has just defeated the amendments to restore the bill, nothing remains of the bill except the number. The Chair is therefore obliged to exercise the authority provided by Standing Order 94(1)(a) to ensure the orderly conduct of Private Members' Business.

[Translation]

    I therefore rule that the order for consideration at report stage of Bill C-224, an act to amend An Act to authorize the making of certain fiscal payments to provinces, and to authorize the entry into tax collection agreements with provinces, be discharged and that the bill be dropped from the Order Paper.

[English]

Reduction of Recidivism Framework Act

     The House resumed from March 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-228, An Act to establish a federal framework to reduce recidivism, as reported (with amendments) from the committee, be concurred in.
    Pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division of the motion to concur in Bill C-228 at report stage, under Private Members' Business.

  (1545)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 90)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Alghabra
Alleslev
Allison
Amos
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baker
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Benzen
Bergen
Berthold
Bessette
Bezan
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Blois
Boulerice
Bragdon
Brassard
Bratina
Brière
Calkins
Cannings
Carr
Carrie
Casey
Chagger
Champagne
Chen
Chiu
Chong
Collins
Cooper
Cormier
Cumming
Dabrusin
Dalton
Damoff
Dancho
Davidson
Davies
Deltell
d'Entremont
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diotte
Doherty
Dong
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duvall
Dzerowicz
Easter
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Epp
Erskine-Smith
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Fergus
Fillmore
Findlay (South Surrey—White Rock)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Finnigan
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gallant
Garrison
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gladu
Godin
Gould
Gourde
Gray
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hallan
Harder
Hardie
Harris
Hoback
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Ien
Jaczek
Jansen
Jeneroux
Johns
Joly
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kelloway
Kelly
Kent
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Koutrakis
Kram
Kurek
Kusie
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lake
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lawrence
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lehoux
Lewis (Essex)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
Lukiwski
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacGregor
MacKenzie
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maguire
Maloney
Manly
Martel
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLean
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
McPherson
Melillo
Mendès
Mendicino
Miller
Monsef
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Morrissey
Motz
Murray
Nater
Ng
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Petitpas Taylor
Poilievre
Powlowski
Qaqqaq
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Rayes
Redekopp
Regan
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rood
Ruff
Sahota (Calgary Skyview)
Sahota (Brampton North)
Saini
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Saroya
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schiefke
Schmale
Schulte
Seeback
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shin
Shipley
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simms
Singh
Sloan
Sorbara
Soroka
Spengemann
Stanton
Steinley
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tabbara
Tassi
Tochor
Trudeau
Turnbull
Uppal
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Van Popta
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Virani
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weiler
Wilkinson
Williamson
Wilson-Raybould
Wong
Yip
Young
Yurdiga
Zahid
Zann
Zimmer
Zuberi

Total: -- 301


NAYS

Members

Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Bergeron
Bérubé
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Boudrias
Brunelle-Duceppe
Chabot
Champoux
Charbonneau
DeBellefeuille
Desbiens
Desilets
Fortin
Gaudreau
Gill
Larouche
Lemire
Marcil
Michaud
Normandin
Pauzé
Perron
Plamondon
Savard-Tremblay
Simard
Ste-Marie
Thériault
Therrien
Trudel
Vignola

Total: -- 32


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.
    When shall the bill be read the third time? At the next sitting of the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[English]

Points of Order

Members' Participation in Oral Questions 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to you informally earlier today, I want to return to a point of order that we were discussing on February 23. It was on the question of not my original point around the right for independent members and members of non-recognized parties to pose questions on Wednesdays, but the more general problem of the distribution among many MPs and that the number has grown.
    At the time, you said that you would take that matter under advisement, as the number of hon. members in the category of either independent or non-recognized members has, in fact, doubled within this Parliament. I certainly will not repeat the points I made earlier. I had citations going back to Speaker Macnaughton, Speaker Jerome, Speaker Gilbert Parent, Speaker John Fraser and so on, to the fact that we do have rights to ask questions in question period. It is a matter of the distribution. I been compiling some statistics, and I will be as brief as I can possibly be.
    In the 41st Parliament, when Green MPs got their first seat in this place, it was one question a week at the beginning of the Parliament. We have gone from five members of Parliament in the category of independents or non-recognized parties. We had grown to 14 members. We went from one question a week to seven slots per week and we ended up with 0.86 questions per week as opposed to one.
    In the 42nd Parliament, we started with 11 members in the category of independent or non-recognized parties. That number grew to 17 members over the lifetime of that Parliament. Again, the effect of that was to go for one question a week to each one of us having 0.82 questions per week. That happened because the Speaker and other parties added three questions to the slots available for members in our category.
    In this 43rd Parliament, we started with four members and we had one question per week for each one of us. The number of members in the independent and non-recognized party category has doubled. It is now eight. No questions have been added to the available slots. The result is that rather than where we started after the last election, with one question per week for each one of us, the three Green MPs and the hon. member for Vancouver Granville each of us at the beginning of this Parliament having one question per week, with the addition of four more independents, we now have 0.50 questions, in other words roughly half of what we ever had since the 41st Parliament.
    I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, we had near agreement yesterday on unanimous consent. We have a lot of support in the House. There should be more questions available for the category of independent and non-recognized parties. I would be very grateful if you could look at these numbers and these statistics and see if it is not time to add more slots to the available times in question period for members who fall into our category.

  (1550)  

    I want to thank the hon. member for her intervention. We will take it under advisement and come back to the House with new information should it be required.
    I just want to point something out on a technical matter. I found that when some ministers were answering questions and when some members asking questions, there was a bit of a choppiness in there. One thing I found with my computer, and this is me giving my experience, is sometimes when I have Skype and Zoom running at the same time, they interfere with each other. Members may want to see if Skype is running in the background and turn it off. It makes it so much easier for the interpreters and their colleagues in the chamber when they hear members speak.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1555)  

[English]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House.
    If the House gives its consent, I move that the report concurred in.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, March 21 to 27 was National Impaired Driving Prevention Week. As we encourage Canadians to drive responsibly and avoid distractions and impairment behind the wheel, we also take time to reflect on those we have tragically lost to impaired driving.
    We have to demonstrate a zero-tolerance attitude for impaired, distracted and dangerous driving to ensure that all Canadians can use our streets safely. That is why I am very proud to table e-petition 3162, which has thousands of signatures, and calls for amendments to the Criminal Code to include harsher penalties on impaired, distracted and dangerous driving. For the families that have already suffered, and to prevent families from having to deal with this tremendous loss, the petitioners are calling for amendments to the Criminal Code.

Canadian Heritage   

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present e-petition 3034, which has been signed by 1,585 residents, most from the County of Simcoe. The petition concerns the SS Keewatin. Built in 1907 and the world's last remaining passenger steamship of the Edwardian era, it is of the same ilk as another famous vessel that members will know of: the RMS Titanic.
    Keewatin is a beautifully restored museum ship in Port McNicoll along the south shore of Georgian Bay. This is the port from which she sailed between 1912 and 1965 as a CPR ship and gave passage to tens of thousands of residents and new Canadians making their way to Canada's west. Keewatin is a touchstone of our region's marine history, a major tourist attraction and a community treasure of national significance, but the petitioners point out that she is at risk of being moved away from Port McNicoll on a technicality.
    The signatories are calling on the Government of Canada to work with the community and the friends of Keewatin foundation to ensure SS Keewatin remains in the port to which her history and service are most accounted and celebrated.

Conversion Therapy   

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition today from constituents who are concerned about Bill C-6 and are calling on the House of Commons to take the following actions: ban coercive, degrading practices designed to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity; amend Bill C-6 to fix the definition of “conversion therapy”, thus banning conversion therapy without banning voluntary counselling or criminalizing conversations; and allow parents to speak with their own children about sexuality and gender and set house rules about sex and relationships.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the people from across Canada who have signed this petition.
    I too have a petition calling on the government to fix concerns around Bill C-6. Bill C-6 defines conversion therapy as:
...a practice, treatment or service designed to change a person's sexual orientation to heterosexual, to change a person's gender identity or gender expression to cisgender....
    Petitioners are concerned this expressly allows counselling or medical surgery to change a child's gender, but prohibits the child from seeking support to detransition to his or her birth gender. Bill C-6 would restrict the choices of LGBT Canadians concerning sexuality and gender by prohibiting access to any professional or spiritual support freely chosen to limit sexual behaviour or to detransition.
    Therefore, the people who have signed this petition call on the House of Commons to ban coercive and degrading practices designed to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, fix Bill C-6 and fix the definition of conversion therapy, thus banning conversion therapy without banning voluntary counselling or criminalizing conversations.

  (1600)  

Myanmar  

    Mr. Speaker, it is good to be here in person. I am tabling five petitions today.
    The first petition is e-petition 3213 with respect to the very concerning situation in Burma.
    Petitioners note the military coup that has taken place, the people who have been detained, the people who have been killed and the ongoing efforts of peaceful protestors to bring about true, proper democracy, as well as inclusion, pluralism and reconciliation among different ethnic communities.
    Petitioners are calling on the government not to be silent about these issues and to take appropriate action, use the Special Economic Measures Act to sanction individuals who are involved in human rights abuses. They are calling for further study by Parliament, for clear condemnation of violence and for support from the Government of Canada for the various non-violent movements in Myanmar and Canada that are highlighting the issues around the military coup.
    I thank all those who have signed, and various members of the various communities who have been very active in highlighting the situation there. I am sure all members stand with the people of Burma during these challenging times in their pursuit of democracy, justice and pluralism.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on another important international human rights issue, which is the genocide of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China.
    Petitioners are calling on the government to recognize the genocide and put in place appropriate response measures that recognize our responsibility to protect an international law of measures, such as reforms to supply chain legislation and Magnitsky sanctions.

Ethiopia  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition highlights the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. It is calling for action by the Government of Canada to support full humanitarian access, independent monitoring and international investigation into credible reports of war crimes and gross violations of human rights law.
    Petitioners are also calling on the Government of Canada to engage directly with the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments on this conflict and to promote short, medium and long-term election monitoring.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition, similar to others that have been tabled today, concerns Bill C-6. Petitioners would like to see a ban on conversion therapy. They would also like to see the government fix the definition and correct the errors in Bill C-6, so it clearly targets conversion therapy and is not an expansive definition that bans private conversations that would have nothing to do with conversion therapy, as it has been historically understood.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the fifth and final petition I am tabling today is in support of Bill S-204, a bill in the other place that would make it a criminal offence for a person to be complicit in organ harvesting and trafficking by going abroad and receiving an organ that had been taken from a patient without that patient's consent. It also contains provisions by which a person could be deemed inadmissible to Canada if they were involved in organ harvesting and trafficking. Petitioners hope to see Bill S-204 passed by this Parliament.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, I too would like to table a petition signed by Canadians concerned about the impact of Bill C-6 on the choices available to Canadians, including the LGBT community.
    The petitioners join the voices of thousands of Canadians who are calling on the House to, one, ban coercive, degrading practices that are designed to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity; two, ensure no laws discriminate against Canadians by limiting the services they can receive based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; three, allow parents to speak with their own children about sexuality and gender and to set house rules about sex and relationship; four, allow free and open conversation about sexuality and sexual behaviour; and finally, five, avoid criminalizing professional and religious counselling voluntarily requested and consented to by Canadians.
    We, in this place, must respect the choices individuals might make when it comes to receiving spiritual counselling and professional support that is freely chosen. Ultimately, we need to fix the definition of conversion therapy in Bill C-6, and I encourage members to work together to get this right on behalf of all Canadians.

  (1605)  

The Environment   

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present e-petition 3050, signed by constituents in Nanaimo—Ladysmith. The petitioners are concerned about climate change. They note the process of gas fracking releases methane into the atmosphere. Studies reveal that methane emissions from oil and gas operations in western Canada were almost twice as high as previously thought.
    Methane is 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas in the first 20 years after it is released into the atmosphere. Gas fracking has been linked to water and air contamination and increased risks of asthma, birth defects and cancer. There are gas fracking moratoriums and bans in many other jurisdictions in the world.
    For these reasons, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to ban hydraulic gas fracking in Canada and accelerate our transition to renewable energy.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to present a petition from people across the country who have serious concerns about Bill C-6. The petitioners recognize that the overarching definition of conversion therapy used in Bill C-6 will end up causing harm to some of the very people the bill intends to protect.
    At the justice committee, members of the LGBTQ community have called the forms of counselling this bill will ban life-saving. They believe it is important to recognize that the definition used by the government in this bill is not used by any medical body anywhere on earth. The petitioners want to see harmful, degrading and coercive practices band.
    Let us make sure we get this right by fixing the definition and avoid causing collateral harm to Canadians who would benefit from forms of counselling that may be unintentionally targeted by this bill.

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition on behalf of the paintball and airsoft industries in Canada, in particular Panther Paintball and Airsoft Sports Park in Surrey, B.C. This is a locally owned business that for years has provided employment and a safe place for paintball and airsoft enthusiasts to come and enjoy their favourite games and sports. The employees and participants are very concerned that the measures in Bill C-21 will put an end to this business, this industry and the livelihoods of so many participants across the country.
    Airsoft and paintball offer Canadians an opportunity to get fresh air and exercise responsibly and in compliance with all social distancing guidelines. To protect all these great things, the petitioners call for the rejection of Bill C-21.

Questions on the Order Paper

Motions for Papers

    Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to call Motion No. P-2.
Motion No. P-2
    That an order of the House do issue for a copy of all unredacted contracts, or purchase agreements, between the government and Pfizer regarding the procurement of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer for immunization against the SARS-CoV2 virus, commonly known as COVID-19.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that this motion for the production of papers be transferred for debate.

  (1610)  

    The motion is transferred for debate pursuant to Standing Order 97(1).

[English]

Request for Emergency Debate

Laurentian University  

[S. O. 52]
    I wish to inform the House that I have received a notice of a request for an emergency debate. I invite the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay to rise and make a brief intervention.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on Standing Order 52(2) to ask for an emergency debate regarding the crisis at Laurentian University. We are not just talking about shutting down a regional university. There are huge impacts that will affect us in the jurisdiction of federal obligations and responsibilities.

[Translation]

    In my opinion, it is very important that Parliament address two issues. First, it must talk about the impact that this decision will have on the constitutional rights of Franco-Ontarian communities. I am thinking in particular of the cancellation of the French nursing and midwifery programs. That decision will hinder Franco-Ontarian communities from having access to health care services in their language, and it undermines the very principle of official languages.

[English]

    The other reason I am asking to bring this debate is because it is using the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, which has never been used against a public institution. If we, as a federal Parliament, say it is okay to use the CCAA to destroy a university that has been there for 60 years, that precedent could be used against any other public institution. It is fine for private enterprise, but public institutions need to have a different standard for addressing financial difficulty.
    I believe that puts this issue under the mandate of the federal government. We need to talk about what we are going to do to save Laurentian University, to preserve programs and to establish post-secondary education in a format that is accessible, particularly in rural regions and the far north, where youth outmigration is a huge issue. Laurentian has played a great role, so I am asking my colleagues from all parties to work on this.
    I am asking you, Mr. Speaker, to call for this emergency debate tonight so we can get the issue of Laurentian University discussed at the federal level.

[Translation]

Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I thank the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay for his comments.
    I am prepared to grant an emergency debate concerning Laurentian University.

[English]

    This debate will be held later today at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

    The House resumed from April 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the third time and passed.
     Mr. Speaker, first of all, I will take the opportunity to speak directly to the Canadian public.
    The last few months have been a unique time for us all. We are in a pandemic. In the last few days, the situation seems to have become more fraught, and some citizens have been protesting. Here in Canada, the right to protest is a legitimate right, and when a protest is held in a civilized manner, it is respectable. I urge the people who are protesting by causing mayhem, destroying public property, and attacking businesses and restaurants that are really having a hard time and are not responsible for the present situation, to protest in a civil fashion. I would like to ask the Canadian public to follow public health guidelines, not to give up and not to let their guard down. The vaccines are coming. Unfortunately, in Canada, they are very slow in coming, but they are coming. I am asking the Canadian public not to let their guard down, but to keep their spirits up for a few more weeks. Hopefully, it will only be weeks, and not months. As I said, in Canada, the vaccines are slow in coming, but they are coming. I think it is important to point that out.
    The current government eagerly dangled the first vaccines in front of Canadians in December in an attempt to dazzle us. To evaluate the government's strategy, we need look no further than our plummeting global ranking. In December, with a few hundred thousand vaccines, we were ranked first or second. After that, it was radio silence. Sure, Canadians got a nice Christmas gift, but then we dropped to second, and now our ranking is plummeting. It was all smoke and mirrors, and we cannot forget that.
    We need to look at how we have dropped in the global rankings. It is rather shameful for us, as Canadians, to be in this position. Canada is used to being a leader, but the current government is not showing much leadership here. Canada looks pretty pathetic with just 2% of Canadians having received both doses. By comparison, Great Britain ranks five spots ahead us, with 11% of its citizens having received both doses. Worse yet, 25% of our neighbours in the United States have gotten both vaccinations, which is 12 times our rate. Our Prime Minister says that he has a good strategy, but we must have different definitions of “good”.
    What is the Prime Minister's plan to remedy the situation and protect Canadians? I do not know. I do not want to hear that this is because Canada does not manufacture vaccines. That is just an excuse. Look at Chile. It found ways to get vaccines. Chile has one of the highest vaccination rates after Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
    Today, I am participating in the discussion on Bill C-14, an act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures. This bill establishes the spending power set out in the fall economic statement, amends the Income Tax Act to top up the Canada child benefit, closes the loophole in the second version of the Liberals' legislation on commercial rent assistance, amends the Canada student grants and loans program and the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to waive interest on student loans by 2021, amends the Food and Drugs Act to deal with shortages of therapeutic products, and amends the Borrowing Authority Act and the Financial Administration Act to increase the federal government's borrowing limits.
    I want to focus on two things. The bill closes the loophole in the second version of the Liberals' legislation on commercial rent assistance, referring to the Canada emergency rent subsidy or CERS.

  (1615)  

    This is what the government says about the Canada emergency rent subsidy:
    Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021. This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords. If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.
    We know that businesses create jobs and bring in revenue for the federal government. They pay taxes and create wealth.
    This program has its share of shortcomings. I said as much to the Minister of Finance and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. They both told me that they would resolve the problem. They have a prime opportunity to modify the program.
    The program is there to help. In the spring, it was geared to landlords. Renters whose businesses were closed, who were victims, could get a subsidy: 25% from the federal government, 25% from the provincial government, 25% from the landlord and 25% from the renter.
    I will give one example among many from my riding. I want to speak for all Canadian businesses that are victims of this rule, and I urge the government to rectify the situation.
    The business that owned the closed property qualified for the subsidy. Now, even though the circumstances are the same and the business is the same, only the renter can apply for the CERS, not the property owner. In the example I am talking about, the renter is the son of one of the shareholders in the company that owns the building. Because his father is a shareholder, he is not entitled to the subsidy.
    Everywhere we turn, we hear that the current Prime Minister's Liberal government is there to help all Canadians: seniors, youth, families and businesses. I just want to help the government get back on track.
    This spring, there was a clause in the program concerning non-arm’s length relationships stating that, if a property owner has a non-arm’s length relationship with an otherwise eligible tenant, then the lease must be on fair market terms, the total gross rent payable under the lease cannot be higher than fair market rent, and the lease must not have been created or amended after April 1, 2020.
    This clause is clear. It is in writing. We should use it. All we have to do is cut and paste to apply it to the new program of last September.
    Do we really want to help businesses? The government has a strange way of showing it. However, it now has the opportunity to get back on track and fix the situation. If it does not do so in this bill, I hope it will do it in its budget next week. We are talking about young entrepreneurs who got help from their parents in the past and who need help today to grow their businesses. We all know that people need more help at the start of their careers than at the end.
    Since we are short on time, I will proceed to the next point. The government is asking for a blank cheque. We have seen how the government controls spending: it does not, and it has no plan. We in the official opposition are prepared to take the necessary measures to help the government help honest Canadians. However, we do not want to give it a blank cheque.
    We asked the government to split the bill, but so far it has not agreed to our request. I would ask the government to be reasonable and to find solutions to help our young entrepreneurs.

  (1620)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to address the member's comments toward the beginning of his speech. The Conservatives have an attitude of wanting to spread misinformation in regard to vaccines. I think it is deplorable, quite frankly, as it comes right from their leadership all the way down. I would ask the member to give his comments.
    Let us go to the raw numbers. We know, for example, that Canada will have approximately 44 million doses of vaccines before the end of June. Can the member provide the House with any other country that will have more vaccine doses on a per capita basis than Canada?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my esteemed colleague, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader. I will take the time he has used in his question.
    Can he tell us what is going to happen in the future? The answer is very simple. No, he cannot. The current government continues to make promises and not keep them, as usual.
    I would like my colleague to withdraw his comment because what I said is based on actual fact. Only 2% of Canadians have received both doses of the vaccine. As of yesterday, 11% of the population in Great Britain had received both doses, and that figure was 25% in the United States.
    I invite my colleague to withdraw his comment.

  (1625)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech, in which he mentioned the Canada emergency rent subsidy.
    What can he suggest for our farmers, who still do not have access to the program, since certain expenses are not deferrable so they are not eligible?
    I would like to know what he would tell them, because for some farmers, it is a real problem that they are still not eligible for the program.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Shefford.
    As I mentioned earlier, the government is always going around boasting that they help everybody: young people, seniors, businesses, families, farmers. They say, “No problem, we help everybody.”
    That is simply not true, and there are concrete examples. I invite my colleague to contact the Minister of Finance so that we can work together to convince the government. Our role as members of the opposition is to make sure the government comes up with solutions and honours its commitments.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member did not touch on this a lot, but he did mention students at the beginning of his speech. Certainly, this government has touted how much support it has provided for students. Unfortunately, this bill states that there is $315 million being waived for a six-month moratorium on student interest, and yet, year after year, the government collects over $600 million in profit on student loans.
    I wonder if the member could comment on that and on what the government should be doing going forward for students.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from London—Fanshawe.
    The opposition is made up of three different parties, and we have just identified three groups of Canadians that the government is neither serving nor helping. Other members mentioned students and farmers, and I talked about young business owners who are non-arm's length tenants.
    This is a great opportunity for the current government to take meaningful action to honour its commitment to these groups, who are not receiving the help the Prime Minister said they would.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier about part 7. Until 2020, the total cumulative debt of Canada was just over $700 billion. The bill before us, which is essentially buried into a COVID relief bill, would increase that debt limit from roughly $1.1 trillion to $1.8 trillion.
    Would my hon. colleague agree that something this substantive should be the subject of a separate bill and an entirely separate discussion?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley for his question.
    Yes, we are asking that Bill C-14 be split in two. We agree with offering help to Canadians, but we do not agree with writing a blank cheque. At the beginning of the pandemic—
    I am sorry, but the debate must resume.
    The hon. member for Kelowna—Lake Country.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-14. I think it is important to note the curious situation we find ourselves in today. Here we are, with the government putting this legislation on its agenda this week, debating the fall economic statement in the middle of April. In yet another example of Liberal mismanagement of important files, we are here debating legislation introduced last year, comprising a whole host of financial measures.
    There are some good parts of this legislation, but there are measures that could have been implemented last year to help people. Now, it seems odd debating this when we have a budget set to be released in just five days. Similarly to how the Liberals have no plan for Canada's economic recovery, they had no plan to get Bill C-18, the Canada-U.K. trade continuity agreement, ratified within deadlines, and they also seem to have no plan for Canada's finances.
    After years of pre-pandemic deficits since forming government in 2015, with little to show for it, now the federal debt will be well over $1 trillion, and the Liberals are asking for substantive additional borrowing capacity in this bill, Bill C-14. The staggering asked increase of an additional $700 billion would put our federal debt just a stone's throw away from the $2-trillion mark. It took our country over 150 years to reach a trillion-dollar debt, yet the Liberals seemingly want to take us to nearly $2 trillion in the blink of an eye.
    Conservatives have supported programs to help Canadian businesses and not-for-profits that have been struggling under the current government's failure to procure PPE early in the pandemic, sustain jobs, procure vaccines, ramp up domestic vaccine production and put data-driven plans together for rapid testing and at-home testing, all activities many other developed countries did.
    Why is the government tabling a bill that has some good measures in it to help many people, and then tagging on raising Canada's maximum borrowing limit by $700 billion, a 56.8% increase? There is no reason, other than to play politics rather than getting real help to real people in a timely manner. The Liberals have not explained why they need to increase the total federal debt to $1.83 trillion. Companies do not operate this way; not-for-profits do not operate this way; households do not operate this way. Why does the federal government feel it can operate this way?
    Pre-pandemic, the government had years of needless borrowing and debt the Conservatives had warned against, debt that led to a credit rating cut. Constituents I am hearing from in Kelowna—Lake Country are rightly worried about the challenges we are facing today under the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also terrified about the future we are leaving our children and grandchildren.
    At every step of the way, the government has burdened our economy with taxes, investment-stifling regulations and red tape. It has refused to halt tax increases during the pandemic, including from escalator or automatic tax increases. To truly prosper, we must unlock the power of Canadian industry; remove barriers to innovation; remove interprovincial trade barriers; do everything we can to expand exports of agriculture, innovative technologies and manufacturing; and bring our resources to market around the world. This legislation would do none of that.
    In November 2020, we learned that the federal deficit for that year alone was going to exceed $380 billion. We already have over $1 trillion in federal debt, and this legislation would allow the government to borrow up to $1.78 trillion. The reality is that under the Liberal government our country has been on the decline. We have had the highest unemployment in the G7. We have had indicators pointing to a debt crisis, dismal vaccine per capita numbers and investment leaving the country. Women have been especially impacted, with over 100,000 women leaving the workforce since the onset of the pandemic.
    It is one thing to fund pandemic response programs, and we are willing to do what it takes to support Canadians during this time of crisis. It is another thing entirely for us to be willing to support unchecked borrowing for unspecified initiatives.
    The past two weeks have been constituency weeks, and I spent time focused on connecting with residents and local organizations in Kelowna—Lake Country. I hosted three community outreach virtual round table meetings with a focus on three areas: small business, tourism and housing.

  (1630)  

    My official opposition colleagues who are the shadow ministers for those files joined me to hear from locals on each of those very important topics. I would like to thank the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, the member for Niagara Falls and the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon.
     Groups in attendance included Tourism Kelowna, Kelowna Hotel Motel Association, Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors, BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association, Festivals Kelowna, Big White Ski Resort, BC Hotel Association, Downtown Kelowna Association, Community Futures Central Okanagan, Lake Country Chamber of Commerce, Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, Uptown Rutland Business Association, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Association of Interior Realtors, UDI Okanagan, Western Canadian Shippers' Coalition, Canadian Home Builders' Association Central Okanagan, and Journey Home Society.
    We received a substantive amount of insights, information and suggestions from what collectively represents well over 5,000 businesses of all sizes and from almost all sectors in Kelowna—Lake Country. There was a lot of consensus on the most important pressing issues that need to be addressed, and many solid recommendations.
    Another issue I am hearing about from businesses is that they are advertising for jobs and no one is answering their ads. I was speaking to a construction company owner in Kelowna—Lake Country last week, who is advertising to pay considerably higher than what is the usual wage for the job. People are calling him and saying they will only come to work if they are paid under the table so that they can continue to collect the CRB. If not, they will just relax for a little while yet. He said these people know they will make more working, but they are prepared to stay on the programs as long as possible. How does that help the economy? How does that help that business owner, and how does it help those individuals, ultimately?
    I spoke with another business owner, who laid off 30 employees last year, and as the economy reopens he does not feel these employees will be coming back. This is not just about creating jobs. At great effort and expense, he will likely now have to recruit, hire and train all new people. This is their reality.
    In my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, our airport, YLW, is municipally owned, so not only does it feel the effects of the travel reductions, but it was also unable to obtain some of the government support provided to non-municipally owned airports.
    Entertainment venues are also under threat. In my community, beloved institutions like the Kelowna Actors Studio and all those who work in the performing arts are in serious jeopardy. The many local arts and cultural organizations have been shuttered for a year. Doing virtual fundraising and a few virtual performances is not sustainable. Musicians have been hit particularly hard. I was speaking to a resident this weekend who told me that two professional musicians he knows in Kelowna—Lake Country are losing their homes right now. Businesses and not-for-profits are looking for a plan for recovery, not a plan to remain shut indefinitely.
    The Conservatives put forth a motion asking the government to put forth a plan to safely and gradually reopen our economy when the time to safely do so is right, and the Liberals voted it down. The bill we are debating today, Bill C-14, fails to do so as well. It is only through ensuring that we are fully utilizing all the tools available widely to test and vaccinate those who wish it, as well as putting forth a solid recovery plan where people in all sectors and in all parts of the economy and the country are ready to go back to work, that we will have a meaningful recovery plan.
    If there is one thing that we have learned so far from the Liberals, it is that it is entirely possible to spend billions of dollars and still leave millions of Canadians behind. Conservatives are working tirelessly to promote a recovery that benefits all Canadians, a recovery that provides jobs and growth in every sector of our economy, in every part of the country, to secure jobs, secure vaccines and PPE, secure our economy, secure mental health and get us back to a road to recovery.

  (1635)  

    Madam Speaker, Conservatives have been raising this issue over and over since we came back for the last reading of this bill, talking about the government wanting to increase and take on more debt, in excess of what is actually being proposed in this legislation. The reality is that all that is being requested is that the ceiling be extended, not to actually take on debt.
    As a matter of fact, in order to take on additional debt, a different bill would have to be put forward explaining exactly what that was, so it is a false narrative that the Conservatives are trying to use to justify why they are not going to vote in favour of this, when they know full well that more spending cannot occur unless another bill comes forward outlining what that spending is.
    Can the member at least inform the House whether she is aware that another bill would have to be put forward in order to justify and make a decision to spend more money?
    Madam Speaker, the member may not be aware that this issue was brought up and discussed at the finance committee. Questions were asked about the costing-out of the existing programs, which are part of this legislation, and where the difference was, and what that would be used for. During that committee meeting, no answers were provided as to what that would potentially be used for.
    Therefore, to increase the debt ceiling to that amount with the hope and trust that things will be coming forth and it will be just fine is not overly transparent. It does not show accountability, it leaves a lot of uncertainty and it is certainly not the way to bring that type of legislation forward.

  (1640)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I was at the Standing Committee on Finance, and I agree with the Conservative member's comments.
    The government did a bad job of introducing this idea. Increasing the debt ceiling is a measure that has not been used before by the government in its legislation.
    In my opinion, the government should have taken the time to meet with each party to explain the idea behind the proposal and what needed to be done. However, I can tell the member that, in committee, the Parliamentary Budget Officer assured us that the debt ceiling could be raised, but that each expenditure would have to be voted on, and that the government could not incur expenses during an election campaign, even with sign-off from the person standing in for the Governor General of Canada.
    I would like to hear my colleague's comments on that.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, the legislation was tabled quite some time ago. Of course, a lot has changed since then. A number of points in the legislation would have been helpful for people a long time ago. The legislation has dragged on. We have been continually making recommendations. We have seen from the very beginning—
    We need to give an opportunity for one further question.
    The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.
    Madam Speaker, a year ago, the government, after much pushing by the NDP, realized that seniors and people with disabilities needed financial help because of the higher costs they were facing. One year later, they are facing even higher costs. Food has skyrocketed as have the costs of rent, heat and hydro. Now we are into a third wave, and in Ontario we are in a complete lockdown. Does the member not agree that there has to be something in there, immediately, for our low-income seniors and people with disabilities until we find a permanent resolution?
    Madam Speaker, this goes back to the point of costs increasing for everyone. We have called for the government to halt all tax increases during this time. Tax increases make the costs go up for everyone. One of the most prominent ones is the increase of carbon tax, which we know just—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.
    Madam Speaker, it is my privilege today to rise virtually in the House of Commons to speak to Bill C-14, which enacts certain fiscal components of the fall fiscal update.
    I want to begin by speaking about some of the advantages of the bill. Steps like raising the Canada child benefit are essential to maintaining gender equality during this pandemic. When lockdowns happened, it has been very difficult for women to find child care for their children. It is clear that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women.
    There is no doubt the relief for student loans will help students. As our students graduate and struggle to find jobs, it is clear that they, too, have been deeply affected by the pandemic and by the high employment rates that have come with it.
    We have also continued to call for changes to the rent subsidy program, some of which has been included in Bill C-14.
    While the legislation does make some important changes, in many ways it also misses the mark. While a certain amount of spending and investment can be expected, and actually encouraged during these times, Bill C-14 would give the government unfettered power to put Canada in a precarious situation. It would give the government the power of borrowing without the appropriate accountability and oversight.
    The fact of the matter is that the COVID pandemic is far from over. In fact, Canada just reached an ominous milestone. For the first time in the global pandemic, Canada has reported more new COVID-19 cases per capita than the United States of America. How is this possible? How is it that many countries across the world are beginning to reopen their economies, beginning a new normal, while we hit a third wave that seems to be even worse than the ones that preceded it?
    The answer is simple. We do not have enough vaccines. The procurement efforts have been botched and have been a failure. It has come with a deadly cost to Canadians. Whereas our counterparts in the U.S., UK and Israel are beginning to reopen, across Canada, we are re-entering devastating lockdowns.
    It is with great sadness that I speak about the devastating impact this has had on our people. Many Canadians, including those in my riding of Northumberland—Peterborough South, have been forced to shut down for the better part of a year. According to Stats Canada, 60% of businesses reported a drop in revenue between 2020 and 2019, with certain industries being affected harder than others.
    My riding of Northumberland—Peterborough South is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and some of the most charming small towns in all of Ontario. Because of this, many of my constituents rely heavily on the tourism sector to survive and thrive. The hospitality, tourism sector, unfortunately, has been one of the hardest hit in Canada.
     New statistics are now suggesting that 50% of Canadians are on the brink of insolvency. As we face more lockdowns, many Canadians are barely holding on and are continuing to rely on federal stimulus, like the CERB and CRB.
    Mark Rosen, chair of the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals, recently had this to say.
    I am having trouble speaking, Madam Speaker, due to a member not having his mute on.

  (1645)  

    Could the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey please mute his microphone.
    The hon. member may proceed.
    Madam Speaker, what we cannot see in the insolvency data is how things will changes as the taps are turned off, which brings about a very important point. The government's programs have created a bridge, but it needs to be a bridge to a better day. At the end of the day, the programs are a Band-Aid and they are not a substitute for prolonged, strong economic activities and economic opportunities. They will not be able to, in the long term, replace the lost income that people face over our government's inability to procure vaccines.
    Our people need jobs. We need to bring work and economic opportunities back to Canadians. While the Conservatives have supported them and, indeed, they were necessary, the benefits have to be a bridge to something. They cannot be a bridge to nowhere. Our people should not have to chose between their health and insolvency. We need a safe plan to reopen our economy, a plan that includes vaccinating our population as soon as possible.
    We also need to ensure this plan will not hurt Canadians for generations to come. As currently written, Bill C-14 is a $600-billion blank cheque to allow the Canadian government to spend how it would like. With no accountability for the spending or oversight, this will undoubtedly hurt Canadians for years to come. Large budgets, deficits and debt are all serious issues, not only for our government but for all Canadians. Interest payments are a major consequence of that.
    Governments must make interest payments on their debt similar to how households must pay interest on borrowing-related mortgages, vehicles and credit card spending. Revenue directed toward interest payments means that in the future there will be less money available for tax relief or government programs, such as health care, education and social services. In reality, to pay off these interest payments, the government will likely have to raise taxes, raise interest rates and cut spending on essential government programs. This will be a painful burden for Canadians as many are already so close to insolvency.
    The government needs to detail its long-term plan for the economic recovery. As former U.S. treasury secretary Larry Summers has often said, growth not consumption must be a priority of expansionary fiscal policy. In fact, our own deputy finance minister Michael Sabia agreed that economic growth was absolutely critical to the future prosperity of our country.
    The expansion of the economy will create much-needed economic opportunities for all. Most important, that growth will help those in an economically challenging position. The impact of growth, or lack thereof, can be illustrated in the last six years with what the Liberal government has done to our most vulnerable. During a period of record-low economic growth, Canadian billionaires have done all right, as my colleagues in the NDP have frequently and rightfully pointed out.
    The impact of low economic growth is nearly always disproportionately felt by those in economically precarious positions, while billionaires and Liberal well-connected insiders have done okay. They often have the connections and the resources to pivot away from economic challenges. Meanwhile, Canadian workers are stuck shouldering the brunt of a shrinking economy as they lose their jobs, close their businesses and even lose their homes.
    The good news is that while a shrinking economy can create havoc, poverty and hardship, an expanding economy can equally create prosperity, wealth and, in some instances, even happiness. Nearly all economists on the left and the right agree that a growing economy is our best defence against unemployment and poverty. How do we achieve that? We need to create an environment where private actors are rewarded and recognized for effectively contributing their talents and their efforts to society through efficient markets. That may sound complicated, but it really is not. All that really means is that every Canadian going to work, whether a CEO, a sales professional, a clerk or a tradesperson, feels as though he or she is getting a fair shake.
    Governments can play a positive role in achieving confidence in the economy. They can put in place the regulations to ensure that actors are competing in an ethical and sustainable manner. This is absolutely a critical role, and all strong economies require some level of regulation and taxation to ensure equity and justice. However, the Liberal government, nor any government in history, cannot create economic growth. They merely put in place the conditions required for growth.
    It is the private sector, everyday Canadians, who power economic growth through relentless determination, endless innovation and infinite work ethic, as they strive to achieve their dreams to buy homes, to own a business, to send their children to university and to help achieve a stronger, more prosperous Canada for all.

  (1650)  

    While governments cannot create economic growth, they can destroy it. The reality is that overly expansive governments suck up the resources, the oxygen, of the free market economy from the private sector, depriving businesses and individuals of much-needed capital to fuel their economic activity. These same governments over-regulate and suffocate the energy and drive of small business and destroy the dreams of millions. They erode the rewards and recognition of work to the point where an individual's desire to work is reduced. The last 100 years of history are littered with governments that have destroyed their own economies through policies that expand government at the cost of their citizens. From the USSR to Cuba to Venezuela, we have seen poverty and destruction caused by overinflated government policies.
    Why, then, in this time of extreme economic insecurity, would the government ask for a permanent increase to the debt ceiling of $600 billion, a debt that would ultimately be financed by Canadians? It is a burden that will diminish our prospects for a growing and prosperous economy by starving it of the resources Canadians need to start businesses and create jobs and by disincentivizing work. There will also be ever-increasing taxation. What Canadians need now is a rapidly expanding economy, not an ever-expanding debt.
    Madam Speaker, I have two quick questions for the member.
    First, I noticed he chose his words very carefully when he was talking about the last measure of the bill. He said that it gives the government the power to borrow, and he did not reference the power to spend. Would he confirm that the government cannot spend?
    Second, I noticed that when he was talking about vaccination rates among G7 countries, he conveniently cherry-picked the two that happen to be ahead of us, the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom. We are ahead of the rest, which are Italy, France, Germany, Australia and Japan. I wonder if the member can explain why he chose to cherry-pick those two particular countries?

  (1655)  

    Madam Speaker, the fact is that when we look at completely vaccinated individuals, Canada actually ranks quite low. Obviously no one is fully vaccinated, inoculated or protected, to the extent that vaccines can do this, until they have received both doses, and Canada is well behind. When we look at other countries, such as the U.K. and the U.S., they are fully opening, as has been reported in the media by CNN's Jake Tapper. Canada is falling behind.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his speech.
    I would like to raise two points. First, we are obviously all concerned about the debt. Second, my learned colleague from Joliette raised a specific point a little earlier, stating that each expenditure must be approved.
    Is the member aware of this and does he believe it makes sense? I would like his opinion on that. I would also like to know what he thinks about the lack of support for the tourism and cultural industries and for small organizations that are really struggling. There are some in each of our ridings.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will start with the second part of the question. I certainly believe in supporting the arts. The Capitol Theatre and the many other arts institutions in Northumberland—Peterborough South certainly require support. The pandemic has been very difficult for them.
    On the second part, I liken the member's point to the individual—

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Joliette is rising on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, the interpretation is not working.

[English]

    Interpretation is working now.
    The hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.
    Madam Speaker, the arts are incredibly important. The Capitol Theatre is in my riding, as are many other great arts institutions, and they have been hit so hard. We would agree that the pandemic has been very difficult on them.
    As to the second part, I would like to use an analogy about individuals. If I took out a line of credit for half a million dollars, it would be an important household decision. I dare say that my spouse would not be too happy if I did not receive her approval before getting a $500,000 line of credit, even though I had not identified how I would spend it.
    Madam Speaker, my question is very much connected to the current third wave of the COVID crisis.
    A third wave, as we know, is hitting Canadian workers hard, especially essential workers. We are hearing disturbing reports that ICUs are filling up with predominately essential workers, and many younger people as well. Obviously, this is coinciding with the devastating impacts of the variant cases.
    For the NDP, it has been critical to fight for paid sick days. We recognize that they are a way to help save lives at this point. Obviously, we are very concerned that there is not widespread support for paid sick days for working people in our country.
    Why do the Conservatives fail to stand up for workers when it comes to key measures like this one that could save lives now?
    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her advocacy on behalf of workers.
    The best possible way to help workers is to make sure that we get vaccines here in Canada, get jabs into arms and get Canadians safely back to work.

  (1700)  

[Translation]

Points of Order

Royal Recommendation Requirement for Bill C-265 

[Points of Order]
    Madam Speaker, I am rising on a point of order in response to the Speaker's statement of March 22 on the need for a royal recommendation for Bill C-265, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act with regard to illness, injury or quarantine, introduced by the hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.
    We have already heard the arguments of the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands in this matter. During his remarks, he mentioned my efforts to amend Bill C-24 by proposing a similar amendment in committee. The committee chair ruled that the amendment required a royal recommendation. The Bloc Québécois member on the committee voted in favour of the royal recommendation, but I think that was an error in judgment.
    The rule does not apply to this bill, because this is a different situation. The House of Commons twice asked to increase the number of weeks Canadians can receive EI sickness benefits from 15 to 50, once by a majority vote on an opposition motion, and once in a unanimous vote upholding the majority decision. Private members' bills rarely get such strong support from the House.
    The government also committed to increasing the number of weeks Canadians can receive EI benefits. I think that this situation is unique in that there was unanimous support of the House of Commons. The Speaker should recognize this unique situation before ruling on the bill. The New Democrats believe that the bill should be implemented.
    I simply wanted these considerations and this position on the record.
    I would like to thank the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona for his remarks. The Chair will consider the matter and come back with a ruling.
    The hon. member for Edmonton-Centre has the floor.

[English]

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

[Government Orders]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the third time and passed.
    Madam Speaker, I rise virtually in the House today to speak to Bill C-14, a second act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19. Before I get into the specifics of the bill and economic recovery, we must all recognize that there is no feasible way that we as a country can make any kind of significant recovery efforts without addressing and conquering this health crisis.
    Small businesses will continue to flounder and shut their doors. New graduates who once looked toward the future with optimism will continue to send in job applications with no response. Single-parent households will continue to struggle, trying to make ends meet with the $2,000 government cheques they receive that are meant to justify the fact that they cannot return to work and provide for their children.
    I cannot believe I am saying this, but currently Canada ranks far below our international peers per capita for full vaccinations. Last week, Canada made headlines worldwide in the most embarrassing way when CNN reported that we were outpacing the U.S.A. for COVID infections. Canada is behind all kinds of countries in vaccinations. Canadians need to be using all the tools available to fight COVID-19. We need vaccines, we need rapid tests and we need the information to secure our future and rebuild our economy.
    The Conservatives want to see the Liberals succeed in securing these tools for Canadians, especially the vaccines, but the Liberals have failed to secure made-in-Canada vaccines until the end of 2021. For the rest of 2021, Canada's vaccine rollout will be at the whims of foreign countries and companies.
    It is clear the Liberal government was late in ramping up vaccine manufacturing. Canadians deserve better than this, but why did the Liberal government wait so long to act? Why did it decide to partner with China? We are so frustrated at the government's failure to secure vaccines and get them to Canadians. We cannot secure jobs and cannot secure our economy until Canadians are vaccinated.
    The singular focus of the government at this point in time should not be on buyback programs or small infrastructure projects. It should be all hands on deck to procure vaccines that it failed to deliver to Canadians so we can get back to normal like the rest of the world is heading toward.
    The U.S., the country right next door, recognized the importance of vaccines and therapeutics early on, investing $20.5 billion for their development. Earlier this month, the U.S. moved the country's active travel advisory for Canada to very high. I appreciate the Liberals' current interest in this area, but it is unfortunate that it comes at such a late stage in the game. Supporting individuals and businesses in the way they currently are, while important, is not sustainable. We have to have strategies and a plan to protect those who are compromised and get the economy back on track.
    Bill C-14 was the government's attempt, during the fall economic statement, to put forward a plan for Canadians that would instill hope and confidence in this country's ability to recover. However, given how poorly the government's vaccine plan panned out, I fear that the economic recovery will yield results that are nearly as dismal.
    Just as my Conservative colleagues voted in favour of providing assistance to Canadians early on in the pandemic, of course we will continue to recognize the need for assistance in these unprecedented times.
    Bill C-14 has introduced some temporary and immediate support for low- and middle-income families who are entitled to the Canada child benefit. The bill would ease the burden of student debt to 1.4 million Canadians by eliminating the interest on repayment of the federal portion of Canada student loans and Canada apprentice loans for up to a year. It would also provide funding for part of the new safe long-term care fund to provide support to long-term facilities, which is critical and very important. There would be up to $262 million for COVID initiatives, including testing, research for countermeasures, vaccine funding and developing border and travel measures. These are all worthy. The bill would also formally provide that an expense such as rent can qualify as an eligible expense under the Canada emergency rent subsidy when it comes due so businesses can access the subsidy before the expense is actually paid.
    With the dramatic increase in the amount the bill dictates the government can borrow, which is more than $700 billion and $100 billion in discretionary spending, one would assume that this would carve out a path for Canadians to get back to work. However, as mentioned before, any attempt to recover will be thwarted unless we can get vaccines into Canadians' arms. Only then can we meaningfully talk about recovery.

  (1705)  

    Like my colleague, the member for Carleton, passionately reminds us, it is the dignity that comes with earning a paycheque and the freedom that comes with the ability to control one's own finances. At the moment, Canadians are experiencing joblessness worse than the G7 average. This gives me absolutely no confidence that offering another $100 billion in discretionary spending would yield any type of meaningful result.
    Although we experienced recent job growth, there is no doubt again that those jobs created would be lost again because of the shutdowns due to the COVID-19 variants. We need a plan to come out of COVID, create jobs and get our economy back on track. That cannot happen without people earning paycheques. We cannot permanently put our economy on the national credit card. Our jobs will provide Canadians with personal financial security. Jobs afford families good child care, housing, post-secondary schooling, nutrition and recreation. Jobs provide tax revenue, reduce government debt burden and protect our cherished social net.
    Integral to our build-back, but equally important to sustain our country's growth, are two metrics that have been falling over the past few years: Canadian competitiveness and Canadian innovation. With a country of our size and sparsity of population, there is no way we can rely on just our internal economy to lead us to recovery. Canada is going to need massive growth and exports to fuel any kind of recovery and provide the capacity to repay our enormous debt. Spending and infrastructure should be predominantly focused on those things that improve productivity, competitiveness and access to markets. Private sector innovation is what is going to lead us into the future and provide us with the technology we need to both shift to global sustainability and reinstate ourselves as a world economic leader.
    In Bill C-14, there is no mention of the resource sector, which is Canada's number one export, nor does it recognize the importance of this sector for our recovery. The world wants and needs more of our natural resources and we should be thinking about how we can expand our market share instead of hastening its decline. With the abundance of natural resources we have been blessed with, we have been handed the keys to the castle. The least we could do is plan for a lessening of our dependence on foreign supply because we have it all right here.
    We fell out of the top 10 ranking for the most competitive economies. We have fallen near the bottom of our peer group on innovation, ranking 17. In 2019, mineral fuels, including oil, accounted for 22% of our country's total exports, the number one exported product, and we have the third-largest reserves. We have enormous potential in minerals, agriculture, forestry, pulp and paper.
    My colleague, the member for Abbotsford, offered eight specific recommendations to help drive the economy and get people back to work. Here are five more for free.
    The government could fast-track decisions on the $14-billion LNG gas project in Quebec, on top of another $6 billion in similar projects waiting for sign-off across Canada.
    The government could speed up approval for job-creating projects large and small. The OECD ranks Canada number 34 out of 35 OECD countries on the amount of time it takes to obtain a permit for a general construction project. All three levels of government must commit to provide the world's fastest permits for factories, shopping centres, parks, mines and more. Canada should be the place to build projects.
    The government could ensure infrastructure is targeted toward productivity and competitiveness.
    The government could unlock the innovation and technology sector, the quantity and quality of R and D, IP protection and strength, and immigration policies that attract talent, and make sure we support these industries that desperately need more people.
    The government could repeal the tanker ban on the west coast, a project that had indigenous backing and would have opened up the Asian market.
    At the end of the day, the government has an entire toolbox of tools at its disposal. It has a spending account in excess of $700 billion. It has access to the most educated population on the planet. It has more land than it knows what to do with and resource potential beyond compare. It has absolutely everything it needs to get this country well on its way to recovery, just like other countries with much less have done. We can all bounce back if it so wishes. The question will be whether it wants Canadians to emerge from this pandemic reliant on their government and receiving cheques from the state each month or resilient, thanks to their government and the strategic steps it took, able to rebuild from this tragedy with a new-found sense of strength and pride in both themselves individually and the will of the country.

  (1710)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for the five free pieces of advice he gave toward the end. The second piece he gave was about building permits. That is odd. The last time I checked, building permits were issued by municipalities or regional governments, and they directly fall under the jurisdiction of the provincial government in terms of setting how they are going to be acquired. I know the member for Carleton has been raising this too, because apparently it is a really good sensationalized point to bring up in this House repeatedly.
     I just want to make sure this member is aware that building permits are not issued by the federal government.
    Madam Speaker, I am fully aware. I spent over 20 years of my life in the construction industry. I can tell members the federal government does take a role in providing regulations that could potentially delay the ability to get a permit. It is not just about the permits at a municipal level; it is about the federal government interacting in a jurisdiction with regulations that make it even more difficult to get anything done in this country.

  (1715)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech.
    When he addressed the question, he insisted on major projects and accelerated approval and financing. He mentioned the GNL Québec project.
    I would like to hear what he has to say about Quebec's and the provinces' environmental sovereignty. Does he not think that it is important to respect the regional authorities for this type of approval?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I absolutely understand. I come from Alberta, and I understand what jurisdiction lies with the province and with the federal government. What the federal government should not do is impose additional regulations and additional burden on these projects to try to stop that investment coming back into the provinces. It is time that we got things built in this country again, and whether it be in Quebec, Alberta or the Maritimes, it is time that we encouraged investment into this country and allowed industry to start to build things again.
    Madam Speaker, from what I can see, Bill C-14 is designed to allow the government to operate without a budget by giving itself huge new borrowing increases. The Liberals assure us they have our backs over and over ad nauseam, while every new COVID support program keeps rolling out with major flaws. So many programs gave much more money than necessary to those who did not need it, so much that the finance minister had to start calling her overpayments “preloaded stimulus”. When we look at part 7, which would increase the borrowing authority with an astronomical hike, the Liberals are asking us to just trust they will do a better job going forward.
    I would like to ask the member why, for instance, the new HASCAP is such a failure at helping the highly affected sectors it was designed to help. The government had a year to make something that works, and yet highly affected sector businesses are being denied loans because they cannot provide a revenue projection when they are closed. Why does every program fail so badly?
    Madam Speaker, it is a great question. Why did they fail? It is because of their design. They bring out these programs in rapid fashion, make an announcement and say the details are to follow. Once the details follow, the private sector says that it does not work for the need. It is time the government got serious about designing programs that actually will result in outcomes, and we see that with our high unemployment rate and high spending rate. We are not getting the outcomes we need and Canadians deserve, so it is time the government does a better job than what they have been doing to date.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak to Bill C-14, a government bill that would implement various fiscal measures, including raising the debt limit. We are doing so, relatively on the eve of the next federal budget coming on Monday, April 19, the first federal budget in two years. As a result of the delays, we have had to endure waiting for what used to be annual event and is now highly anticipated.
    With Bill C-14 as well as the upcoming budget in mind, I want to talk about our fiscal situation and make some proposals. Before that, I want to talk about this broad concept of resilience.
    Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulties. A core responsibility of government is to try to build up resilience within our government, within our institutions and within our national capacity.
    Resilience means thinking about the things that could go wrong and preparing for them, even if nobody is talking about them.
    Resilience is a critical job of government because it is something that could otherwise be undervalued. It can be undervalued by the private market. People do not always think about the various things that could go wrong and prepare for them. It is also something that can be undervalued particularly by government because it can be undervalued by the political market. That is, there is a risk maybe that governments' decisions to prepare for, or failure to prepare for, certain things that could go wrong are not top of mind for voters.
    In the last election, I do not recall being asked by any voter if I thought the government was prepared for a global pandemic. I do not recall being asked by any voter if I thought the government was prepared for the possibility of a foreign invasion. I do not recall being asked by any voter if I thought the government was prepared for a cataclysmic natural disaster. That is natural.
    Generally, as individuals, as consumers, as voters, we are not thinking about the possibility of grand disaster. We are more inclined to think about our immediate needs and our immediate challenges, but these are things that can happen as we have seen with COVID-19. It should bring home for all of us the fact that major, disastrous, global-scale events are things that can happen and the degree to which we think about them or prepare for them before they happen really matters in terms of our ability to engage those situations when they come up.
    This should remind us of the importance of thinking about resilience and about whether we are ready to overcome major challenges that could come along. Therefore, it is easy and natural, coming out of a global pandemic, to think about being resilient in the face of another pandemic: What are the things we learned about dealing with public health pandemics so we are ready in case of another pandemic?
    The broader lesson should be what can we do to prepare ourselves to respond to large-scale disasters. The next big challenge that comes at our country, unexpectedly, might not be a pandemic. It might be some other kind of challenge: a cataclysmic economic event, a cataclysmic natural disaster, something in terms of national security, etc. Thinking about resilience and developing a resilience mentality should be about, as governments and as parliamentarians, asking questions about our preparedness for disasters, those that are maybe undervalued in our typical day-to-day political discussions and by the private market. Developing a resilience mentality requires us not just to think about how we should have been ready for this crisis, but how we should prepare for future crises.
    We know clearly that the job of government of preparing for disaster even if it is not on the public mind is something the government really failed to deliver on in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. We did not have the required protective equipment. We did not have the manufacturing capacity required to respond to the immediate needs that came up. We did not have an early warning system that was operational. We had destroyed stockpiles. We were not prepared with the kind of social structures and systems that would have allowed us to react quickly. Right at the beginning, we should have had the PPE required, given people the right advice out of the gate on masking, put in place strong effective measures at the border right away and had a plan for tracing systems. All of these were thought of and enacted in other countries.

  (1720)  

    However, we did not have the structures and systems, or the necessary equipment, in place at the beginning. We had not built our systems to be resilient, in terms of health.
    Recently, in the official opposition, we have talked a lot about being resilient in the face of possible security threats. We have a government that still has not made a decision with respect to Huawei. It said it would make a decision before the last election, and here we are, on the eve of what the government seems to want to be the next election. We will see. In any event, it has been years since the government's original self-imposed deadline for making a decision about Huawei.
    We hear repeatedly, including from the member for Ottawa South, who chairs the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and who is a member of the government, about concerns of foreign state-backed interference in Canada. We have heard from that important committee that we are not responding effectively. We are not prepared for it.
    What about our fiscal resilience, in the context of the budget or in the context of Bill C-14? Are we ready for the kinds of problems that could be being created by the government's fiscal policy?
    In the last year, we have spent more money than we ever have before. That goes without saying. However, we have actually borrowed more money, in real terms, in the last year than Canada did during World War II. In real terms, Canada borrowed less during all of World War II than we did in the last year. Of course, the COVID pandemic and the needs associated with it are very significant, but so were the Second World War and the needs associated with it for Canada, as well.
    We have run up more debt in the last year. It is more than half of the total debt run up in all of Canada's history until this point. However, at the Liberal convention, were they debating how to get our public finances under control? Actually, they were talking about more spending. They were talking about putting in place a new universal basic income program, which is effectively more government spending, and expanding deficits on a permanent basis.
    In the face of those conversations happening within the government, I think we have to ask how long this is going to last, and are we resilient? Are we prepared for the possibility of a serious fiscal problem? From time to time, countries that cannot control their spending experience runaway inflation. They experience various kinds of fiscal collapse.
    The consequences of that for Canadians would be significant. We would put ourselves in a position where we could not get out of those problems, and could not just spend more money to address the challenges that people would face in that kind of situation.
    Alas, what we have seen from the government is a “live for today and let tomorrow take care of itself” mentality on health, security and spending. It is thinking about today, not thinking about preparing ourselves for what might happen in the future.
    As Conservatives, we have always believed in making the hard argument of thinking about the next generation, preparing for threats and challenges that we might not be able to see, taking a precautionary approach and ensuring that we are able to pass the goods of civilization on to the next generation. This is rather than undermining our position of public health, security and fiscal well-being, and leaving the next generation with a possible disaster.
    We need to be thinking about resilience across a broad spectrum of issues, preparing for challenges and being ready to respond to those challenges.
    I worry that sometimes in Canada, we have been victims of our success, in that we have gotten used to things going well. We have not always prepared for serious disasters because we do not have the same experiences of them here as maybe have happened in other parts of the world.
    However, we have not achieved a level of prosperity, security or fiscal well-being by accident, and it will be not maintained without hard work. The path the government is putting us on right now is not one of resilience. It is one that puts our institutions and our national well-being in great danger. This is why we need to refocus our attention on the values of resilience and preparedness for the future.

  (1725)  

    Madam Speaker, the member criticizes us for what we were talking about in our convention when we were talking about important social programs for Canadians. At his convention a week before, the Conservatives were discussing whether or not climate change was real, and 54% of them said it was not.
    Let me jump to another thing. On the topic of resilience, the member talked about why the world did not know right at the beginning, on day one, that masks should be worn to fight the pandemic, as though he does not realize that this was an evolving threat that nobody had faced before. The World Health Organization did not even start saying that people should wear masks until June 5, 2020. My own community only started advising it about a week or two later.
    Can the member explain to us, since he had all of this insight into what we should have been doing right on day one, why he did not come forward and share it with us?

  (1730)  

    Madam Speaker, the member should look at my Twitter feed and Facebook feed. He will find posts from me in March of last year talking about why people should wear masks. Why was I saying those things in the House and elsewhere? It is because the countries that were successfully fighting the pandemic had been deploying masks for years. We had the SARS pandemic over 15 years before, and at that time the government created a stockpile of masks. Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea were giving people advice and direction about masks. Mask-wearing was widespread, and they still have far lower rates today.
    The World Health Organization was wrong, as was Dr. Tam, as was the CDC, but the data was out there. The member can check. There were people in the House who were saying to wear masks, but his government was saying not to, and it was harmful misinformation, because—
    The hon. member for Shefford.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his presentation on Bill C-14.
    My colleague spoke at length about resilience. If there is one area that has been very resilient it is health care. Everyone who has worked hard to take care of COVID-19 victims has shown resilience. Therefore I say kudos to all those working in health care.
    My colleague also spoke a lot about the importance of preparedness and being ready for the next crisis. Once again, that is exactly what people in the health care system in Quebec and in the provinces are asking for.
    I would like my colleague to comment on that. This is happening after the Liberals and the Conservatives made cuts to the health transfers for the production of vaccines in Canada. It is important to reinvest so we can produce our own vaccines and to have stable and predictable increases in the health transfers of up to 35% of costs.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to first agree with my colleague that individuals within the health system have shown a great deal of resilience and courage in their response. My critique was with the government's level of preparedness for this situation. In particular, it was not building up the capacity in advance to support health workers in those efforts. In the early days especially, there were many concerns by people in the health system about having access to basic equipment and whether they would be able to access the equipment they needed to be safe while providing vital health services.
    With respect to the member's question about transfers to the provinces, under Conservative governments, transfers to provinces went up significantly every year for health, and we can certainly have those debates about appropriate levels. However, it is not just about resources. There are certain things that were missed by this government, in terms of having plans in place and maintaining stockpiles, that would have been relatively less intense in requirements for resourcing if they had been done in advance. It is not just about resources. It is also about thinking ahead.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech, for his concern and care for potential crises, and the need to plan for them to protect our children and make sure they are prepared.
     I would like to know why the member did not mention climate change at all as one of those potential crises and if he believes in climate change. Do we need to do something about it, such as banning fracking, not building any more pipelines and moving away from fossil fuels toward a clean energy economy?
    Madam Speaker, if I had a 20-minute speech, I would have had many more things to say.
    I agree with the member that human-caused climate change is real. It is a problem, and it requires a response. As Winston Churchill said, “It is not enough to do our best. We must know what to do and then do our best,” so I would quibble with some of the member's proposed solutions.
     What we see from the left-of-centre parties in the House are often policies that would simply push industrial activity outside of the country and not actually respond to the global challenge of emissions. Our party's approach has always been to encourage a stronger environmental performance by supporting development that is cleaner and working to export that technology.

Business of the House

    Madam Speaker, I have two unanimous consent motions.
    There have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
     That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House, on Thursday, April 15, 2021, Statements by Ministers, pursuant to Standing Order 33, shall be taken up at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions to permit a minister of the Crown to make a statement, a member from each recognized party and a member from the Green Party to be permitted to reply to the statement, the time taken for these statements shall be added to the time provided for Government Orders, and after each member has replied, or when no member rises to speak, whichever comes first, the following motion shall be deemed adopted on division: “That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen expressing the House's condolences following the passing of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and its hopes that the expression of the high esteem in which His Royal Highness was held may comfort Her Majesty and the members of the royal family in their bereavement”;
    and
     That a message be sent to the Senate informing their Honours that this House passed the said address and requesting their Honours to unite with this House in the said address.

  (1735)  

    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

    Madam Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
     That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, special order or usual practice of the House, during the debate tonight, pursuant to Standing Order 52, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

     The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read the third time and passed.
    Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès): The question is on the motion.

[Translation]

    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

[English]

    I would request a recorded vote.
    Pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the division stands deferred until Thursday, April 15, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
    The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
    Madam Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to see the clock at 5:56 p.m. so we can begin private members' hour.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès): It being now 5:56 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Sex-Selective Abortion Act

     moved that Bill C-233, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sex-selective abortion), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
     She said: Madam Speaker, one of my responsibilities I have greatly enjoyed and look forward to again is attending many of the trade shows throughout my riding of Yorkton—Melville. They are an incredible way to connect with hard-working Canadians. I always bring along petitions to ensure I am responding to the concerns of my constituents, everything from firearms to palliative care and also a petition on sex-selective abortion.
    Every member of the House will know that Canadians are not shy in voicing their deeply-held opinions on matters of conscience. Like a majority of Canadians, many expressed to me how they firmly believed in continued access to abortion. However, as we talked, all were horrified to learn of the practice of sex-selective abortion in Canada, which is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy due solely to the sex of a child. Further, they were shocked to learn that Canada had no law against it. Needless to say, those who were at first very apprehensive were very quick to sign my petition.
    Sex-selection abortion is wrong, it is a discriminatory practice on the basis of sex and it takes place in our country because we have no law against it. As members of Parliament, we have been sent here to represent the Canadians' concerns and their needs. That is why it is an honour and privilege to rise today to represent the 84% of Canadians who would like to see this Parliament enact a Criminal Code prohibition of sex-selective abortion.
    I am speaking this evening on behalf of pro-choice and pro-life Canadians, religious and non-religious, those on the left, right and centre of the political spectrum; new Canadians, the young, the elderly and those in the medical profession across our country seeking support for a framework from the federal government to make sex selection in utero illegal. I am standing today in response to all seven Supreme Court justices who agreed that the state had some interest in protecting the fetus and expected a new law to be created to fill the gap left by their decision in the 1988 Morgentaler case.
    The sex-selective abortion act would create protections for unborn baby girls whose lives are ended simply because they are girls. During the past quarter of a century alone, sex-selective abortion and post-natal sex selection has deprived over 100 million women and girls the opportunity to live, work and affect change through their unique abilities. These global trends are very disconcerting, however, they are not the focus of my bill.
     Sex-selective abortion is a Canadian problem that requires a Canadian solution. Peer-reviewed studies from the Canadian Medical Association Journal point to a worrying trend in Canada. In fact, a ratio of 1.96 males to every female has been recorded among those who had previously given birth to two girls. Following one or two induced abortions, the ratio becomes even more alarming.
    The absence of any law to protect preborn girls shouts to the world that valuing one sex over the other is permissible in Canada. We are the only democratic country that has no law against it, the only one. The only other country that also fails in any way to protect preborn children from sex selection is North Korea, not good company for Canada. Our health care profession has shown concern about sex-selective abortion and discourages the practice.
    In 2007, the executive of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada stated that medical technologies for the sole purpose of gender identification in pregnancy should not be used to accommodate societal preferences and that the SOGC did not support termination of pregnancy on the basis of gender. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario as well as British Columbia and Saskatchewan also echoed these concerns. However, medical bodies do not make laws. Canadians send parliamentarians to Ottawa to work on their behalf and to reflect Canadian human rights values at home and internationally.
     It is in this spirit that I brought forward this proposed sex-selective abortion act. Over a year ago, I introduced Bill C-233 to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to make it an offence for a medical practitioner to perform an abortion, knowing that abortion was sought solely on the grounds of the child's sex. It would also require the federal Minister of Health, in consultation with provincial counterparts, to establish guidelines respecting information provided by a medical practitioner in relation to a request for an abortion from the medical practitioner to the individual asking for an abortion. Fittingly, the criminal sanctions in my bill for a medical practitioner who is found guilty mirrors those that are actually found in Canada's assisted dying laws.
     I introduced Bill C-233 in response to Canada's lack of the legal framework to respond to the wishes of a clear majority of Canadians and to honour our core values.

  (1740)  

    Canada prides itself on our commitment to ending discrimination against any person on the basis of sex. Equality between men and women forms a crucial part of Canada's efforts to promote and protect human rights, as reflected in its laws and international commitments.
     As long as we do not have a law, we continue affirming ending the lives of baby girls simply because they are baby girls. Canadians believe it is time for our country to join the rest of the world by implementing a strong legal framework prohibiting sex-selective abortions. If a baby girl is unwanted simply because she is a girl, I am pleased to say that the majority of Canadians believe abortion access has gone too far.
    A new reality is rising in Canada. A very recent national poll found that a majority of Canadians would be more likely to support a political party if that party promised to legally restrict sex-selective abortion in its platform. Among the results, 52% of Canadians overall, 58% who voted Conservative in 2019, 51% who voted Liberal and 61% who voted for the Bloc would be moderately to much more likely to vote for a party that promised to restrict sex-selective abortion. This critical mass of Canadians is calling on political parties to stop playing politically with the lives of baby girls and legally restrict sex-selective abortions in Canada. There is unity across the country for Canada to assert itself on this fundamental human rights issue.
     This poll result comes less than a year after the results of a 2019 DART & Maru/Blue poll conducted for the National Post, which found that 84% of Canadians believed it should be illegal to have an abortion if a family did not want the baby to be a certain sex.
     These 2019 poll results reinforce that Canadians are united and no longer accept the myth that Canadians are polarized. They are not. They want this law.
    In the same DART poll, it was determined that 62% of Canadians identified as pro-choice, while 13% identified as pro-life. With 84% of Canadians opposed to sex selection, it is clear that this issue has overarching public support.
     I have been so truly humbled by the response of Canadians to this bill. Tens of thousands have signed petitions and family and youth are urging their MPs to support the bill in creative and unique ways. Citizens across the country have taken notice.
    In its statement of endorsement, the Vedic Hindu Cultural Society Of British Columbia declared that Bill C-233 was a reasonable limit on abortion that would work to enhance Canada's human rights image. The United Sikhs is a UN-affiliated international non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organization. The Canadian chapter sent a letter of endorsement as well. It stated, “C-233 proposes a reasonable limit that would reflect Canada’s respect for human rights at all stages of life. The practice [of] sex-selective abortion takes place in Canada and it is our duty to defend those whose lives would be ended simply because of their sex.”
    The Minister of Justice has also publicly declared, in response to petitions tabled by many members of the House, “The Government of Canada condemns all practices that are motivated by discriminatory views of women and girls, including sex selective practices.” Countless Canadians are encouraged by that statement and wait with anticipation for how members of the Liberal Party will vote on this bill.
     If the Prime Minister and his cabinet truly claim to be feminist and wish to condemn sex-selective practices, then their voting for Bill C-233 at second reading and sending it to committee is a reasonable expectation by their supporters. I encourage every member of the House to have the courage to exercise their rightful freedom to vote their own conscience, the way that we on this side of the floor have that freedom to do, and pass this bill.
    Stopping short of a full commitment to ending sex-selective abortion in the second half of the Minister of Justice's petition response, he attempts to wash his hands of any responsibility. It reads, “In Canada, the administration and funding of health care services is a provincial responsibility that falls under the purview of the provincial governments. As is the case for other medical procedures, the delivery of abortion services is determined by the policies of the provincial governments and the standards set by the medical profession itself." On delivery, it is very true.

  (1745)  

    Canadians, however, are very aware that there are many bills that we have worked on in the House together, such as Bill C-7 and Bill C-8, where the federal government chose intentionally to legislate on primarily provincial issues when it believed a charter interest was in play. With regard to discrimination on the basis of sex, the same applies.
    The federal government has already recognized the inherent discrimination tied to sex selection. In 2004, a Liberal government created a precedent in law with regard to sex selection through the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. According to the act, no one may, “For the purpose of creating a human being, perform any procedure or provide, prescribe or administer any thing that would ensure or increase the probability that an embryo will be of a particular sex, or that would identify the sex of an in vitro embryo.”
    In an attempt to downplay the need for a law, I have heard the justification that choosing to abort a baby girl simply because she is a girl rarely takes place in Canada compared to countries like China and India. The number aborted is not a legitimate reason to not have a law, and currently research indicates that this number is approximately 2,000 per year in Canada.
    Canadians have spoken loudly on other issues for women. When the Liberals tried to remove female genital mutilation from our citizen book, they spoke out loud and clear, and we have a law to highlight that value. Those who are fine with allowing sex-selective abortion in Canada also claim that the law would be useless because it would be impossible to enforce.
    As members of Parliament, our role is not to enforce laws, but to create laws that reflect Canadians' values and respond to the concerns of Canadians. Through Bill C-14 and Bill C-7, the federal government crafted a response to a national mandate it received from vocal Canadians and the courts. Ultimately, the enforcement of assisted dying laws were delegated to the provinces and provincial medical bodies, as would be the case here.
    Bill C-233's language clearly outlines a directive to the federal government to work with the provinces to determine effective communications on the framework that sex-selective abortion is illegal in Canada. Indeed, enforcement is an important consideration, but just as impaired driving laws have not removed all drunk driving from our roads, the sex selective abortion act would not put a hard stop to the practice all on its own. However, the bill enshrined in Canadian law will send a clear message about what our country stands for within our country and to the rest of the world, and also what it does not permit.
     Canada must bring legislation in line with human rights obligations to prevent sex selection before birth. Bill C-233 is a necessary step in doing so.
    It is an honour to rise alongside my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London today. We are traditionally from opposite sides of the abortion debate. However, we are both part of the 84% of Canadians who recognize that sex selection is not permissible in a society that advocates for equality of the sexes. Adopting appropriate legislation to end discrimination against any person based on sex is part of Canada's commitment to advancing human rights. My bill addresses inequality between sexes at the earliest stages of life.
    This is a cause for which Canadians are united. While some oppose and some promote, we can all stand together, side by side, against sex-selective abortion, as we all have a moral obligation to stand against gender inequality. No issue important to Canadians should be vetoed from debate in this place by absolutist political narratives for political gain. It is past time to stand in the gap and do the right thing in defence of preborn girls.
    Will elected members of Parliament from all political parties condemn this practice and make it clear to all that Canada values women and equality? Every female preborn child who is terminated because of her sex has paid the price with her life because our lack of laws say she does not matter. With the implementation of this bill, we will be telling the world that Canada has had a change of heart.

  (1750)  

    Madam Speaker, nobody would support sex-selective abortion. However, that is not what this bill is and the member knows it. Ninety per cent of abortions that take place in the country are within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy when we cannot even determine sex. This is just another example of Conservatives who just recently got together to strategize on how to create backdoor anti-abortion legislation.
    If the bill is truly only about banning sex-selective abortions, then why did her own leader come out saying that he did not support it and that he would vote against it? If it is truly not a backdoor way to remove women's rights, why does her own leader not support it?

  (1755)  

    Madam Speaker, in my party, we have the freedom on private members' bills to bring forward whatever is important to us as individual members of Parliament, something that I do not think is available on the other side of the floor. We also have the freedom to vote our conscience. I respect that choice in my leader, as he respects mine.
    I would say this to the individual who is indicating that this is a back door to other abortion laws. As she knows, 84% of Canadians support this. That means 16% of Canadians do not. Of that 84%, the vast majority are individuals who are pro-choice. This is a bill Canadians want, right across this country. It is time we respect that call to protect baby girls in the womb.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, polls that are taken out of context are not useful.
    The member said that 84% of Canadians are against sex-selective abortions. This is not a news flash, since no one supports sex-selective abortions. Does that mean that 84% of Canadians are in favour of chipping away at abortion rights and going as far as passing a law? Really?
    She also said 52% of Canadians were in favour of abortion. It is odd, but the firm behind this poll is led by former members of the Conservative Party. Can we really trust these numbers?
    Finally, she encourages Liberal members, who claim to be feminists, to vote for her bill. I, in turn, encourage Conservative members who claim to be feminists to vote against it because, frankly, it contravenes the principal and fundamental right of women to control their own bodies.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the truth of the matter is that every one of those recommendations, as far as percentages of Canadians go, is accurate. The same poll the member is referring to also indicated that the majority of Canadians want to continue to have access to abortion. That is the truth. However, it also asked the question very specifically on certain issues, whether this narrow concern should be legal or illegal. Eighty-four per cent of Canadians indicated that a sex-selection abortion, where the abortion is taking place solely because of the desire for a certain sex of that child, should be illegal.
    Madam Speaker, I too want to express my deep, heartfelt dismay at this debate today and support my colleagues who have raised amazing questions with respect to the member's statistics, which are wrong and misleading. I am truly upset by the fact that she is directly misleading her constituents, as she said at the beginning of her speech.
    I would like to know this. Our Supreme Court struck down the abortion law in 1988 because it violated women's right to bodily security. Why does she not believe in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I hoped you would call the member to order. There are parliamentary conventions the member is aware of with respect to accusing people of something and—
    I could go very far back to use the same thing on many other members in the House, so I am not going to intervene.
    The hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.
    Madam Speaker, I do not totally remember what the member's question was after all of that, but I will say this.
     It is really important that we recognize that the Canadian Medical Association did major studies in 2012 and 2016 with ethnic researchers involved and with the ethnic community involved, and they indicated that this is a growing problem in Canada that needs to be addressed. Of course, it is happening for other reasons as well, but the truth of the matter is that this is a scenario where the majority of Canadians are saying they are not polarized the way certain groups would like them to think they are. This is an issue where Canadians come together and want a law that restricts sex selection as an option for abortion.

  (1800)  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-233.
    Let me start by saying that our government condemns all forms of gender-based violence. We have taken strong legislative action and made investments to protect women and girls since we took office, from improving judicial education to prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression, investing in an ambitious gender-based violence strategy and, yes, approving the use of Mifegymiso in Canada.
    During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have provided an additional $100 million in funding to organizations across the country to support their efforts to end gender-based violence. In my community, $170,000 of that funding has gone directly to organizations that are dedicated to combatting gender-based violence.
    There is no evidence to support the need for Bill C-233. This is a bill searching for a problem that does not exist. Canada is not seeing a disproportionate number of male versus female births. The sex ratio at birth for Canada is consistent with the global average. In fact, I believe this bill introduces considerable risk in stigmatizing racialized communities, which already experience disproportionate police surveillance, over-criminalization, and violence and discrimination at the hands of public officials.
    Abortion providers and counsellors are trained to ensure that each person is comfortable and certain about their decision and that they are not having an abortion under pressure from anyone. Abortion is health care, and the patients' health and life need to be the primary concern for health care providers; that means ensuring that they can have access to a safe abortion.
    We must assess the bill's ability to achieve its intended objective in light of the evidence showing that ensuring access to abortion services advances gender equality. Evidence shows that restricting such access, in particular through criminal law, has a detrimental and negative impact on equality rights. I am concerned that this bill may serve to exacerbate sex-based discrimination, not combat it.
    This is not the first time the Conservative Party has attempted to legislate women's bodies. The anti-choice movement has co-opted the language of human rights and feminism to try to limit access to abortion.
    The United Nations has issued reports recommending against criminalizing any aspect of abortion, including sex-selective abortion, since research shows that doing so creates barriers to accessing abortion services, which negatively affects women's equality. International agencies have made strong statements that women's right to make decisions about their own bodies is at the very core of the fundamental right to equality, and I agree.
    Abortion is a medical decision made between a woman and her doctor. There are already safeguards in place within the medical community surrounding abortion. Legislators are not doctors and have no business interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. I firmly believe that legislators have no place in the uterus of women across our country.
     There are obviously those in the Conservative Party who do not feel that way, including the sponsor of this bill, who has said she believes that abortion should never be performed, under any circumstances. If the hon. member truly is concerned about gender-based violence and discrimination, I would ask whether she supports preventative measures that are far more effective at reducing abortions, including comprehensive sex education, consent-based awareness-raising activities and campaigns, free and accessible birth control, and laws and policies that promote gender equality and actually address gender-based discrimination, including gender parity in all decision-making spaces, pay equity, paid parental and other forms of leave, and comprehensive social support services, including affordable housing, universal pharmacare and national child care. The list goes on.
    If we want to tackle stereotypes that value men over women, the answer is not criminalizing women's bodies. The answer is getting to the roots of misogyny and sexism and doing the hard work, as a government and society, that we need to do to ensure that women's lives are valued. We need to ensure that young women who want birth control can access it without fear of recrimination. We need to ensure that we support the work that local women's organizations like SAVIS and Halton Women's Place are doing to cultivate male allyship, and we need to call out all people, regardless of gender, who think it is their right to control what a woman does with her body.
    In 1988, in the Supreme Court of Canada's well-known Morgentaler decision, restrictions on abortion were found to violate women's section 7 security of the person rights. Since then, it has remained a medical decision, as it should be.

  (1805)  

    This bill is one more example of the rising power of the anti-choice movement across our country. Here in my riding, I have worked with the Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services to raise awareness about how hard it is for women in my region to access abortion services. One cannot get an abortion in Halton unless it is an emergency. Over half a million people live in Halton Region. We are one of the safest and wealthiest communities in the country, and one out of five women in my region who choose to have an abortion in their lifetime will have to go outside the region to seek essential health care.
    Halton Region is the best-case worst-case scenario. We sit between Toronto and Hamilton and are part of the most densely populated area of the country. Members should think about the barriers that exist for women who live in rural or remote areas or women who do not speak English or French. Members should think about the barriers that exist for women who cannot pay for the $100 taxi ride from Oakville to Hamilton. Now members should think about how these barriers are amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel between provinces is limited, sometimes outright banned, and clinics have closed. These barriers do not make our communities safer; they put women in danger and they act to restrict choice.
    The rise of the anti-choice movement has also led to dangerous online misinformation campaigns sponsored by Alliance for Life Ontario, spreading dangerous falsehoods about medical abortion. This is part of a larger ideological initiative that seeks to misinform individuals and restrict their reproductive rights.
    What is medical abortion, and why does the anti-choice movement want to convince Canadian women that it is unsafe and can be reversed? To begin with, medical abortions have been practised all over the world for more than 30 years. Despite three decades of evidence that proves they are safe and effective, they were only made available in Canada since 2017 under our Liberal government.
    There are two drugs that are used for a medical abortion, sold together in a product called Mifegymiso. Mifegymiso is prescribed by a doctor, and it can only be given within the first nine weeks of pregnancy. A woman takes one tablet, and then 24 to 48 hours later the subsequent tablets, and that is it. Medical abortions are safe and effective, and the vast majority of abortions in Canada, about 90%, happen very early in a pregnancy, before the sex of the fetus is even known, I might add.
    The campaign is targeting women who are seeking an abortion with wrongful claims that a medical abortion can be reversed mid-procedure, in the 24 to 48 hours after the first tablet. Advocates for the abortion pill reversal frequently cite research from Dr. George Delgado, a medical adviser for the Abortion Pill Rescue Network and medical director of Culture of Life Family Services in San Diego, a self-professed provider of Christ-centred medical care. This research has been condemned by the medical community, and compelling evidence exists that abortion pill reversal is ineffective and potentially dangerous. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has released a statement condemning the practice, as has the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
    Simply put, denying access to health services that only women require, including abortion, is a form of gender-based violence. The UN has recognized this, our Supreme Court has recognized this, and I am confident that a majority of the hon. members in this place will recognize this.
    I call on all members of this House to call out the anti-choice movement and recognize this bill for what it is, a bill that is trying to find a problem that simply does not exist in Canada, and I ask all members to join me in voting against this bill.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today to speak to Bill C-233.
    The Bloc Québécois is obviously against the bill, which is essentially an anti-choice bill. The Bloc Québécois unequivocally defends the right of women to control their own bodies, their right to free choice and their right to free and accessible abortions. Of course, the Bloc Québécois opposes sex-selective abortion, but it also opposes the idea that the government can tell women what to do with their own bodies. Women are free to choose whether to terminate their pregnancy or not.
    The fight against sex-selective abortion is a pretext used by the Conservatives to initiate a debate on abortion rights. Although the Conservatives claim that they do not want to reopen the debate on this issue, they keep coming back to it. Bill C-233 is yet another example. The Conservatives are looking for new legal grounds to criminalize abortion. Although sex-selective abortion is based on misogynistic and sexist ideas, we cannot fight it by imposing more social control on women. We cannot fight sexism with sexism. The solution is not more control, but more equality.
    I will share the Bloc Québécois’s position on the issue. I will then speak about the importance of defending the right of women to control their own bodies, and I will conclude by tying this in to reproductive health.
    The Bloc Québécois believes that rhetorical manipulation, the hijacking of the discourse on human rights and the fight against discrimination for other purposes are outdated and worn-out stratagems that do not show the manipulators in a good light and undermine citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions.
    Hijacking the discourse on human rights undermines the fight for human rights. It is our responsibility as parliamentarians to state our real intentions when we open a dialogue on behalf of the citizens we represent. The This is about the quality of the democratic conversation. Obscuring the debate on abortion rights undermines the quality of the democratic conversation. This is why these practices must be recognized and condemned, and they must stop. The Bloc Québécois demands that the leader of the Conservative Party publicly acknowledge that Bill C-233 is merely a stratagem for attacking abortion rights, that he ask his members to oppose it, and that he call to order the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.
    Let me provide a definition of sex-selective abortion. It is a selective abortion based solely on the sex of the child. It involves primarily female fetuses in countries where cultural norms value boys. In Canada, a 2016 study by the Canadian Medical Association reignited the debate about selective abortions within some South Asian communities in Ontario. There is some evidence suggesting that, for cultural reasons, certain groups choose to terminate certain pregnancies in order to promote male birth in Canada. Nevertheless, this is extremely rare in Canada, and it has no impact on the ratio of male to female births in this country.
    It would be wrong to think that this is a common practice in cultural communities in Quebec and Canada. The vast majority of cultural communities do not practise sex selection. Most importantly, the practice tends to fade away on its own within one or two generations. This evolution happens precisely because of the cultural effect and the value placed on gender equality, and not because of any prohibition. It reminds us that we must oppose all instances of discrimination. We need to emphasize the importance of valuing equality and promoting human rights and minimize coercion and control. Yes, sex-selective abortion is a legal practice that does happen in Canada, but it is much less widespread than is being suggested.
    I would remind the House that the Bloc Québécois has taken the same position as the women of Quebec. The debate on women's right to control their own bodies is over and done in Quebec. It is a fundamental value that we uphold.
    In connection with the debate on sex-selective abortion in 2012 and 2013, the Fédération des femmes du Québec clearly and publicly expressed its position against sex-selective abortion, against banning it and controlling women and against the Conservatives' veiled tactics. In keeping with our long-standing commitment, the Bloc Québécois stands with Quebec women and endorses that position.
    There is a huge difference between opposing sex-selective abortion and supporting a ban on the practice in a bill. Criminalizing a medical procedure and making doctors liable to imprisonment is a major move we must not make.
    We know that the problem the Conservatives want to solve is not selective abortion but abortion altogether. Quebeckers will not fall for the Conservatives' tactics. Women do not need to justify their choice to end a pregnancy. Health care professionals' only concern is and should be the health and safety of their patients, who have the right to a safe abortion.

  (1810)  

    The provisions of Bill C-233 compromise patient safety by sowing fear and mistrust into the doctor-patient relationship.
    The issue of sex-selective abortion is not new to federal politics. In 2012, a Conservative member moved a motion to condemn it, thus reviving the abortion debate. That motion came on the heels of one moved by another Conservative member on the rights of the fetus, asking to create a parliamentary committee to study at what point a fetus should be considered a human being for the purposes of enforcing Criminal Code provisions. These tactics, aiming to surreptitiously criminalize abortion, were carried out despite the electoral promise of the former prime minister not to reopen the abortion debate.
    The member for Yorkton—Melville herself has a history of introducing anti-abortion legislation. Is it not a bit odd that the battles waged by the member are never openly about the right to abortion, but that they all result, in one way or another, in a proposal to criminalize this medical procedure and make it subject to stiff prison sentences?
    Today, in 2021, 33 years after abortion was decriminalized in Canada, the Conservatives are continuing their pro-life or, in my opinion, anti-choice militancy. By introducing a bill such as this in Parliament, their assault on women's rights pays political dividends by pandering to the religious right.
    The Bloc Québécois's response to Bill C-233 is that it gives every parliamentarian, no matter their political stripe, the opportunity to reject regressive legislation that proposes an inappropriate solution to a false problem. By rejecting the bill, they will help put an end to the chronic problem of Conservative attacks on women's integrity and their right to control their bodies.
    It was only in 1988 and after much effort that women gained the right to legal abortion. This fragile win continues today to be threatened by these opponents, who are using a set of tactics with a view to reopening this debate and limiting by alternate means women's freedom to choose abortion.
    In Quebec, there has been a consensus that the debate on abortion must not be reopened since the 1988 Supreme Court ruling that struck down the provisions that criminalized abortion. The decision to have an abortion is one of the most difficult decisions in a woman's life. Such a serious decision must be left up to women, and women only. The Bloc Québécois is reiterating its support for freedom of choice, which has unanimous support in Quebec. A woman's body belongs to her.
    The Conservatives are constantly repeating the same refrain about how they do not want to reopen the abortion debate; yet, they are the ones who regularly draw the debate back to that topic.
    Let us now talk about reproductive health. Although the practice of sex-selective abortion is rather common in some regions and countries, the selective abortion of female fetuses is rather rare in Canada since it has little or no impact on the proportion of boys to girls. We are talking about a ratio of 105 boys to 100 girls, which is comparable to the international average.
    Passing this bill could even have racial consequences. If Bill C-233 is passed, doctors could engage in racial profiling by questioning only pregnant women who are Asian or Indian. Canadians do not want to support a bill that encourages racism. Women's health and safety are at stake. Doctors and staff are trained to ensure that patients are all right with their decision and that no one exerts any pressure on them to have an abortion.

  (1815)  

    However, a woman could be at risk of physical violence at home if she does not have access to sex-selective abortion. Furthermore, women may feel forced to become pregnant until they have a boy. In such cases, the abortions are much higher risk and full-term pregnancies are even more so, especially when there are multiple ones close together.
    The primary concern for medical professionals should be the health and life of their patients. This includes providing a safe abortion, regardless of other circumstances. No reason needs to be given for an abortion in Canada. Doctors should not ask and patients do not have to disclose that information. Bill C-233 could make women afraid to speak up, and it could have an impact on their relationships with their doctors by sowing fear and mistrust or causing adverse health effects.
    This bill is clearly driven by an anti-choice agenda and religious beliefs. The bill is ostensibly meant to combat gender-based discrimination, but that is not the case. What we need to do is work on addressing these inequalities.
    In conclusion, an ultrasound at 12 weeks will indicate whether it is a girl. However, such a determination also means that it is a human being, which opens up the debate on the right to abortion. If we truly want to protect women's health, safety and rights, we must vote against Bill C-233, in the name of respecting a woman's right to control her own body. Let us act now.

  (1820)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, women in Canada and around the world have fought long and hard for the right to control what they do with their own bodies. Sadly, many women still do not have this right or they have actively lost it. In some cases, particularly here in Canada, the right to choose is only available in theory. The practice of this right is hindered by the fact that consecutive governments have not ensured that all women have the same rights under the Canada Health Act or the charter.
    To my utter dismay, here we are again. This private member's bill, Bill C-233, is nothing short of a direct attack on women. Despite all the rhetoric claiming to be in defence of women's equality and despite the Conservative leader's assurances that his party will not reopen the abortion debate in Canada, we are debating a bill that does just that.
    I am not surprised. He, like so many former leaders of the Conservative Party, has allowed his members to repeatedly try to undermine women's rights. Since 2006, members of the Conservative caucus have tried seven times to introduce anti-choice laws. In fact, this is not even the first time the member for Yorkton—Melville has tried to challenge women's rights under the charter, and like the other anti-choice private members' bills introduced by Conservative Party members, Bill C-233 is a Trojan Horse.
    I am proud to say that women must retain their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and as a New Democrat in the House and as a woman who has the privilege to speak here tonight, I will never vote for a bill that is quite literally a slap in the face to women who have fought long and hard for the right to control their own bodies.
    Dangerously, the argument that is being used within the bill is couched in language around gender equality, but I cannot state emphatically enough that Bill C-233 does nothing to address gender equality. Let me repeat that: Bill C-233 does nothing to address gender equality. It is a step toward regulating and eroding access to abortion.
    When abortions are illegal, women do not stop having them. They only take more risks to access the services they need, and these risks can have deadly consequences. Before anti-choice laws in Canada were struck down, there were over 35,000 illegal abortions taking place every year. Thousands of women died because they were not given a choice. They were desperate and submitted themselves to clandestine procedures.
    Our Supreme Court struck down the abortion law in 1988 because it violated a woman's right to bodily security. Recriminalizing abortion in any way would be a violation of the charter rights that cis women and transgender people have to life, liberty and conscience.
    If we look at examples from India and Nepal, we see that laws against sex-selective abortion do not work, and because of these laws many women avoid the health care system. They risk their health and lives by resorting to unsafe abortions.
    A 2019 study found that sex-selective abortion bans in South Korea, China and India are difficult to implement and have limited impact. They reduce access to safe abortion services and negatively affect the life chances of women and girls. By contrast, other studies have shown that policies that include mass messaging and measures to increase gender equality show a quick impact in reducing people's preference for having sons and in increasing parental investments in girls.
    The sex-selective abortion of female fetuses is a symptom, not the problem itself. The root issue here is misogyny. A law banning sex-selective abortion only sends the problem underground. The answer lies in raising the status of girls and women over the long term.
    In the promotion and protection of women's rights and gender equality, Canada must be a world leader. We must commit to the view that gender equality is not only a human right, but also an essential component of sustainable development, social justice, peace and security. These goals can only be achieved if women are able to participate as equal partners, decision-makers and beneficiaries of the sustainable development of their societies.
    However, how can Canada be considered a world leader in women's rights when we have members of Parliament suggesting that we revert to the days of gender inequality through the restriction of abortion? How can Canada be considered a world leader when the government refuses to enforce the Canada Health Act, which requires provinces to fund equal access?
    In 1988, abortion was decriminalized, but that does not mean everyone in Canada has access. Last year, Action Canada published “Access at a Glance: Abortion Services in Canada”. This overview of abortion care in Canada shows huge gaps in what care is available and where. There are significant disparities between rural and urban access to abortion. In some provinces, like Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, abortion providers are only in urban centres, despite the fact that 35% to 40% of the population is living in rural or remote communities.

  (1825)  

    Hundreds of people are forced to travel out of their communities to access abortion and must pay for travel expenses out of pocket. Travelling to another city for a procedure can mean having to take time off work, planning and paying for child care or elder care. Some people cannot afford to pay for these expenses.
    Access to health services should not depend on one's postal code or income. Unlike any other province or territory, New Brunswick illegally refuses to pay for abortion services outside of hospital settings. This means that abortions provided in clinics are not funded by the government. This is a human rights violation and contravenes the Canada Health Act.
    For decades, people across New Brunswick and Canada have been advocating for the government to strike down this discriminatory regulation, yet successive governments and the so-called feminist Liberal government continue to ignore this call, and persist in maintaining an unfair, illegal policy that seriously impacts abortion access in New Brunswick.
    Everyone has the equal right to the best quality health care, regardless of race, age, class, immigration status, gender expression, sexuality and ability, but abortion care is impacted by discrimination and bigotry, both systemic and as a result of individual prejudice on the part of service providers. Racism, xenophobia, classism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and ageism in Canada are all direct and intersecting barriers to accessing abortion.
    If the member introducing Bill C-233 was truly interested in strengthening gender equality, this bill could have ensured everyone's right to access health services. It could propose solutions to fight against racism and poverty and homelessness or combat homophobia and transphobia. It could propose operational-based funding for women's organizations, ensure permanent funding for shelters in Canada, put forward a universal early learning and child care bill, introduce a guaranteed basic livable income, ensure free access to birth control or Mifegymiso, create a national action plan against gender-based violence, or implement just one of the 231 calls for justice from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry.
    If the member for Yorkton—Melville was truly dedicated to advancing gender equality, she could have drafted a bill that actually addresses the social, economic or political inequities women experience as part of their daily lives, inequities exacerbated by past and current governments.
    Tragically, this bill does nothing to implement the long-term solutions that would reduce the inequality between men and women. In May 2020, Canada celebrated the 50th anniversary of the abortion caravan, the convoy of activists, advocates and brave women who travelled from Vancouver to Ottawa to protest the criminalization of abortion in 1970.
    Canadian women fought long and hard for the right to safe, legal abortions. Women have been forced to put their private lives under scrutiny in the courts and in the fight for the right to choose. I would like to thank all the brave women, organizations and abortion providers who fought for our right to choose.
    I urge all members of this House to recognize this bill for what it is, an underhanded attack on women's choice. I urge all members to vote against it. If we are to sincerely achieve true gender equality, we will not tolerate the sham that has been perpetuated against women of this country.
    Instead of attacking health services and access, we need to address the reasons why women are undervalued, underpaid and underserved. We need a government that would champion programs and policies that ensure women's contributions to society, the economy and leadership in this country are respected and encouraged. Access to safe, legal abortions is integral to these rights.
    New Democrats, it is safe to say, do not support this bill. We will actively fight against any motion or future bill that would threaten a woman's right to choose.
    Madam Speaker, I want to start tonight's discussion regarding my multiple attempts to write this speech. I kept on changing the way I wanted to discuss it. What is my angle? Who is the audience and what do they expect? I knew I had to focus on the right tone and what specific words to say and why am I, a person strong in her belief, so worried about presenting on this important topic?
    I have seen how these discussions have gone in the past, or should I say, I rightly recognize that this is not a discussion. Instead it is a debate characterized by a great deal of animosity from all sides with no resolutions. However, the bill challenges us to have a genuine discussion. The bill could be used as a potential platform to address concerns, but as I have witnessed, I am afraid there are few people willing to come to the table to have a well-intentioned, meaningful debate.
    The bill should make us all think on how we feel about this subject, specifically on sex-selective abortion. I know that in these 10 minutes every word that I choose to say will be ripped and torn apart and we are losing the opportunity to have a real discussion and properly debate Bill C-233, the bill introduced by my colleague and friend from Yorkton—Melville.
    This is a topic that people are very vocal on, with people being labelled as either absolutely right or completely wrong. Everyone has a label forced on them, but is that really what we want when it comes to such a complex issue? This should not be about how we feel on the right to choose to have an abortion. This is whether sex-selection abortion is happening in Canada and what is ethical in this situation. This is a subject that we just cannot win. There is no right or wrong on this issue.
    When I talk about abortion, it is in general and not specific. I support women having a choice and when I speak on this issue, I recognize that there are many Canadians unaware of what our laws in Canada are. I want to go back 33 years to when there was a law. I want to share with everyone tonight the executive summary and the information available on sex-selective abortion.
    One of the best and simplest summaries was a bill that the Library of Congress, prepared by Stephen Clarke, senior foreign law specialist in the United States. This where I found the best information on Canada.
    Federal legislation that made the obtaining of unapproved abortion a crime was held to be unconstitutional in 1988 and has not been replaced. Canada has no legal restrictions on the obtaining of abortions. Abortion for sex selection is legal and there are reports that it is being practised. Sex selection and reproductive technology is prohibited, subject to an exemption that allows sex selection to prevent disorders or disease.
    Until 1988, Canada's Criminal Code required women who wished to have an abortion to satisfy a therapeutic abortion committee established by a hospital that the continuation of her pregnancy would be likely to endanger her life. However, in the case of R. v Morgentaler, Smoling and Scott, the Supreme Court held that this provision violated section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 7 of the charter provides that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived therefore, except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
    Since 1988, Canada has not had a law prohibiting any type of abortion, including abortions for the purpose of sex selection, although there have been several attempts at legislative reforms that have failed.
    We have actually heard a lot about those tonight.
     The absence of an abortion law in Canada does not mean that a woman can easily obtain an abortion at any time during her pregnancy. Physicians in Canada normally do not perform abortions after the 24th week of a pregnancy unless the health of the woman is in serious jeopardy, even though they cannot be prosecuted for this. Although information on the subject is not readily available, it may also be the case that many physicians refuse to perform abortions for the purpose of sex selection.

  (1830)  

    Now, turning to in vitro fertilization, the same paper from the Library of Congress states that:
     Reproductive Technology
    Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act states that no person shall:
[f]or the purpose of creating a human being, perform any procedure or provide, prescribe or administer any thing that would ensure or increase the probability that an embryo will be of a particular sex, or that would identify the sex of an in vitro embryo, except to prevent, diagnose or treat a sex-linked disorder or disease.
    Thus, Canada does generally prohibit sex selection in embryonic procedures, except to prevent, diagnose, or treat a sex-related disorder or disease.
    What I just read is from the Library of Congress in a journal written back in June 2009.
    There is a much bigger discussion here that we are not permitted to talk about politically. However, I believe in facts. I believe in multiple sides on these issues. When I think about a good debate and great conversations, I think about my own family. Yes, we are all from the same family, but then we add on the in-laws and extended family and brothers-in-law who call themselves the Martyn men. We have extremely heated debates, and sometimes things can get pretty spicy. Sometimes mother sighs, “That is just enough”. However, we share unique perspectives and have had different experiences in the past that have shaped our lives and our beliefs on certain issues. One thing I recognize is that I always learn something new about someone or something during these debates. I respect them, and I respect their views on these issues.
    We do not have to believe to the same degree on every single issue, and I think that is where we are today. This issue could lead us to more. It could lead us to a study of greater awareness of an issue that is happening, such as sex selection. Yes, it can be a very difficult discussion, but I believe it can be a very thoughtful discussion as well.
    As I have said in the House and in committees many times, I am a Pollyanna. I do believe in the best, and I do believe that when people are committed to discuss issues with diverse opinions, they can find the right balance.
     One thing that I have learned through this pandemic is that what is important to people and how people react can be very different. I recognize the vast opinions on COVID-19, and I recognize that I do not have to agree with all of the opinions in this discussion. However, here sex selection abortion becomes something we truly should look at and consider. We have the right to pro-life and pro-choice, and we have the right to question if more needs to be done or considered. I am not saying today that more needs to be done, but is there an issue with sex selection?
    As I said earlier in my speech, the debate is characterized by a great deal of animosity from all sides with no resolution. There are a few people willing to come to the table to have a well-intentioned, meaningful debate. My table is always open for all opinions on this matter, for and against.
    There are many things that we must challenge our presumptions on. It is important that we are willing to challenge ideas and test them against other thought patterns. That is why in every Parliament we have a government with an opposition that challenges it.
    Listening does not mean that one must agree. However, today's debate is on sex selection abortion and, unfortunately, this means that many members have decided to stop listening before the conversation even begins. Does this issue deserve to be studied? Is there an issue that is actually occurring here in Canada that needs to be addressed? We cannot know if we are not willing to even start the conversation. We must be willing to at least have this conversation to discuss this difficult topic and not immediately reach for the attacks and ignore the substance of the bill itself.
    I thank everybody for listening to me today, and I wish everybody the best.

  (1835)  

    Madam Speaker, normally I would say I am happy to rise in this chamber, but on this topic I could not be more disappointed. I am disappointed, as a woman in this country in this day and age, to be once again faced with Conservatives attempting to take away long-fought, long-established women's rights. Members should make no mistake about this. I guarantee nobody in this House supports sex-selective abortions, but that is precisely not what the member has intended with this legislation.
    Just this past weekend, members of the Conservative party and their staff gathered with the Pro-Life Association to strategize on and discuss how to get backdoor anti-abortion legislation in this country to take away women's rights. In addition to that, they were referring to MAID and amendments there as an example. According to one article, they said this is “a 'very powerful first step and foundation' to introducing conscience rights in other areas, like targeting abortion or denying access to medical services for trans people.”
    These are the values that this Conservative party represents, and I am ashamed. In this day and age there should be no debate. The last speaker said they wish there could be a debate, but the debate on women's rights is over. We are equal, and governments do not make decisions on our health and on our bodies.
    There is no law or power that any government has to control decisions on the male body, so if members of the Conservative party want to talk about equality, then this debate is over. Let us work on abolishing inequality in this country, but a woman's right to choose is fundamental, and government has no place and no business in that decision.

  (1840)  

    The hon. member will have eight minutes the next time this matter is before the House to finish her speech.
    The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Emergency Debate

[S. O. 52]

[Translation]

Laurentian University in Sudbury

    The House will now proceed to the consideration of a motion to adjourn the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration, namely Laurentian University in Sudbury.
    That this House do now adjourn.
    He said: Madam Speaker, I am very proud to be here this evening as the NDP spokesperson for the greater Timmins—James Bay region. I am very touched to open the debate on the future of Laurentian University.
    For the people from all around northern Ontario, Laurentian University is a symbol that opened the door to several generations of young Franco-Ontarians, indigenous and young anglophones from small towns in northern Ontario.
    It is important for Parliament to look at the crisis at Laurentian University and come up with a solution.

[English]

    I will be sharing my time with the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
    People in Canada might be wondering why the Parliament of Canada is talking about the future of a university in Sudbury. There are national implications about what is happening there right now. The use of the CCAA, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, to demolish a public institution is something that we have to deal with at the federal level to make sure it will never happen again. If we allow this precedent to happen at Laurentian, we can bet our bottom dollar that premiers like Jason Kenney and other right wingers will use the CCAA to attack public institutions.
    This is not an example of the reason that legislation was put in place, and it cannot be used at Laurentian today. A number of programs that have national significance are being attacked and undermined at Laurentian. That is the issue to be debated in this House, and I thank my colleagues from all parties for being present for this debate.
    When I look at Laurentian, it is very emotional. My father was in his thirties and never had a chance to go to school. My dad had to quit school when he was 16 because he was a miner's son. There was no opportunity for post-secondary education. My mom quit school at 15 to go to work.
    When my dad was 35, he had the opportunity to get a post-secondary education, and he got that because Laurentian University was there. The fact that we had a university in the north made it possible for my father to get the education that had been denied him, and he became a professor of economics. That is what Laurentian did for him.
    I was speaking to a young, single mother yesterday who never got to go to school, as she had a child very young. She phoned me and said she was going to go to university next year. She asked where she will go now. Doug Ford and his buddies probably do not think it is a problem if people are in Kapuskasing or Hearst. He would say they should just go to Toronto or Guelph. They cannot.
    Laurentian makes that possible. Laurentian removed the barriers for so many people in a region that has suffered such massive youth out-migration, year in and year out. Laurentian was the tool that we used. It is 60 years of public investment. I think particularly of the Franco-Ontarian community that has built a level of expertise and capacity that was second to none.
    I think of the indigenous community. The university had the tricultural mandate, and the decision of the board of governors to attack indigenous services as part of their restructuring is an attack on truth and reconciliation.
    Call to action 16 states, “We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal languages.” Guess what, with the CCAA, that is gone. Gone as well are the massive and important programs for francophone youth to get educated in key areas.
    I believe we have to step up at the federal level. We have to come to the table to work with Laurentian on its future, but I would say part of that has to be that we get rid of the president and board of governors who made this deal possible. If we look at what they put in their plan, this is not a restructuring. This is an act of intellectual vandalism that is without precedent.
    They are destroying the engineering program in the land of the deepest mines in the world. They are destroying the francophone mining engineering program when the majority of young people coming into the mining trades are francophone and work all over the world. They have taken that away.
    They made a decision to get rid of the physics program when we have the world-class Neutrino Observatory, which has won awards around the world. Now scientists will be coming in from elsewhere, but the local university will not be part of it. What kind of thinking is that?

  (1845)  

[Translation]

    The decision to cut the nursing program in a region where the majority of the population is francophone goes against the principle of access to equitable services for francophone communities.

[English]

    We need to look at a couple of key areas to see why this matters at the federal level. The attack on the programs that were designed for the northern indigenous is an attack on reconciliation. The federal government has an obligation there.
    The attack on the francophone language rights, services, programming and training is denying opportunities, and it will have an effect for decades to come. It is also going to have an immediate impact on the right for people in rural regions to receive service in their language because young people are being trained in their language to work in those communities. I would point to the decision to kill the midwifery program, which was fought so hard for.

  (1850)  

    For rural people, that program was essential. It is essential for the far north, in communities like Attawapiskat, where the midwives went to work.
    This is showing us it does not matter, in this so-called restructuring, what the mandate of that university was, which was to provide opportunity and education that was second to none in North America.
    Anyone who has not read the filings being used under the CCAA should really take a look at them, because this is the road map for the destruction of public education and public services in Canada. What we heard on Monday was a shocking attack on education, programs and opportunities. It was slash after slash after slash, but what is in here is what comes next. It is the ability of this board of governors, the Doug Ford crowd, to go after and destroy the pensions.
    Coming from northern Ontario, we are no strangers to the attack on pensions. I remember when Peggy Witte destroyed Pamour mine and the workers had their pensions stolen. I remember when the Kerr-Addison mine, one of the richest mines in the history of Canada, was stripped bare by the creditors, so there was nothing left but a bunch of unpaid bills, and the workers had their pension rights denied. Is that is the plan for the post-secondary education? That cannot happen. Not on our watch.
    Were there mistakes made at Laurentian? Absolutely, but it is indicative of the larger crisis in post-secondary education, where students are forced to pay massive amounts to get access to education. They come out with major levels of debt. We see university administrators putting money into new buildings, into all the bells and whistles, and denying tenure and adequate work for the professors.
    We saw another university in northern Ontario that fired a whole crop of young, dedicated professors and put the money into the sports program. What we are seeing with Laurentian and other universities is the creation of a new level of precarious worker, the university professors and staff, who take on enormous amounts of student debt and are given no opportunity or security and now even their pensions are going to be undermined.
    I am calling on my colleagues tonight that the federal government has a role to play. We have to change the CCAA laws so we never again can have a precedent where a public institution can be ripped apart and destroyed and where the pension rights and protections of the people who work in that public service are erased.
    That is not what the CCAA was established for. It was established for private companies. It was also to give them security while they restructured. What is happening at Laurentian is not a restructuring, so we need to deal with the CCAA.
    We need a commitment from the federal government about the Francophone services. We need to speak up for the indigenous programs that are being cut. We have to recognize northern Ontario is not going to go back to third-class status, where the young people, who are the greatest assets we have, have to leave year in, year out because we do not have the services. Laurentian is a service we put 60 years into. We have to protect it.
    I am calling on the Prime Minister to show up and come to the table with a plan to work to save Laurentian.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Timmins—James Bay for the personal account in his describing of the opportunities given to his family members.
    I must admit, I do not understand how we arrived to this point. I think for a lot of people in Ontario, myself included, it was a bit of a shocker to hear this news a few days ago. Does he have any insight into how we came to be here, how Laurentian came to a place where suddenly it is in this position?
    Furthermore, from an actual implementation perspective, can he share details of the plan he is looking for from the Prime Minister? What does he think we can offer as Parliament, as government, in order to help?
    Madam Speaker, when Laurentian began to find itself in financial difficulties, it did lobby the members for Sudbury and Nickel Belt. I do not know if they brought forward any of the crisis happening to Laurentian to their fellow Liberals, but we, as New Democrats, will certainly speak up.
    Multiple issues have happened over the years. The chronic underfunding of post-secondary institutions and the huge levels of student debt have made it more difficult. There have been very bad management decisions, and very bad management decisions made in many universities on where they are going
    The one issue on the CCAA is that when it was brought in, it was believed that maybe they were using it just to stabilize. What we would need from the federal government is for it to say that we cannot use CCAA to tear apart a public institution. We have to change that law. We need the Prime Minister to say that the government will put some money on the table.
    Are we going to have to rebuild, rethink and re-establish? Absolutely. However, we cannot sit back and allow a public institution, with 60 years of history, to be simply torn apart and sold off like it is at a scrap-metal dealership. That is not on, because if that is allowed to happen at Laurentian, we can bet it will happen in region after region, as right-wing governments decide what an easy way that is to get rid of public education and public health.
    Madam Speaker, I very much thank my hon. colleague for Timmins—James Bay for his strong advocacy for saving Laurentian University. I want to also ask the hon. member if what we are seeing with Laurentian could be the first canary in a coal mine.
    Ever since Jane Jacobs drew attention to it in her last book, Dark Age Ahead, we have been watching post-secondary universities and post-secondary education having climbing costs for tuition, overcrowded classrooms, less access to professors and a real loss of sustainability in their funding model.
     We must save Laurentian University, but do we not need a larger national approach to our universities?

  (1855)  

    Madam Speaker, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has hit the nail on the head. That is why we have to debate what is happening at Laurentian. This is the model of what is going to start happening elsewhere.
    I would like to also point out, which I had forgotten, that the other programs they are cutting are the environmental sciences and environmental renewal. Laurentian invented that. Sudbury was an environmental disaster zone, a wasteland that had been caused by the sulfuric mine acids at Inco. When I was a child, Sudbury was as black as the moon.
    For programs that were established to create and restore environments from industrial damage, from the acid rain, from the sulfuric mining, Sudbury is second to none in the world. It became a symbol, yet it is being cut. If this can be done at Sudbury, we know that these programs anywhere else will be on the chopping block when someone decides to turn his or her university into a lean and mean financial machine.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Timmins—James Bay for his passionate speech on this dramatic event.
    I would like him to elaborate on the fact that the Liberals always court the francophone vote outside Quebec—
    I must mention to the member that he has the floor to make a speech and not to ask a question.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
    Madam Speaker, thank you for clarifying that. I was about to ask my hon. colleague from Timmins—James Bay a question, but I will go ahead with my own speech after the really impressive one he just gave. It will be along the same lines as the question I was going to ask.
    Each year and in each election, the Liberal Party of Canada tries to charm francophones outside Quebec, telling them how wonderful and important they are and how important diversity is. It woos them with fine words, but what happens after? Essentially, the Liberals drag their feet and not much happens. In fact, nothing happens. The tragedy at Laurentian University is unfortunately another example.
    Too often in our history, the Liberal Party of Canada has touted the francophone community in its election slogans and speeches. The Liberals use the francophone community as a reliable voting base for when election time comes around, but they are all talk. Nothing ever gets done. The tragedy at Laurentian University is unfortunately another example of that behaviour. I am extremely sorry to see the Liberals treating francophones as a doormat to get easy votes, while never following up with any measures or decisions.
    The cuts to Laurentian University are devastating. I just want to remind members that Stéphanie Chouinard, a political scientist who teaches at the Royal Military College in Kingston, called what is being done to French programs a literal bloodbath.
    I think that my colleague from Timmins—James Bay clearly explained how Laurentian University was an icon in northern Ontario. He clearly demonstrated how it was an anchor institution that enabled francophones, among others, to continue studying in French and to pursue their education without leaving the region. It provided the opportunity to stay in northern Ontario and to live and study in French without having to move to Ottawa or even Montreal.
    The carnage we are witnessing today is utterly appalling. Unfortunately, the federal government is dragging its feet and basically abandoning the 10,000 students who attend Laurentian University every year. The layoffs cost 110 professors their jobs. We cannot just stand by, because it is a shock for those people. If they leave the region, they may never return. That is absolutely terrible. There are also 28 French-language programs that are being eliminated. These 28 programs are important not just for the economic vibrancy of the region and the vitality of the francophone community, but also for access to public service, certain services and professionals capable of doing the work.
    I want to list 25 of the 28 French-language programs that have been cut: law and political science; education; environmental studies; French studies; chemical engineering; mechanical engineering; mining engineering; geography; history; theatre; marketing; leadership; outdoor adventure; French literature and culture; mathematics; philosophy; financial planning; health promotion; human resources; midwifery; linguistics; economics; nursing; political science; and zoology. These are the programs that are vanishing before our very eyes.
    This takes me back to the days of the great fight to save Montfort Hospital, when we really had to take to the barricades to defend the rights of francophones. It feels as though, right now, not only is there a Conservative government in Ontario that really could not care less, but there is also a Liberal government that is dragging its feet on the issue and waiting to see what will happen.
    The Ontario Conservative government is prepared to trample on the rights of francophones and give up on a university like Laurentian and the ability to access programs and classes that are really useful not only for northern Ontario, but for the whole province and the entire francophone community of Canada. Meanwhile, the federal government is up on some kind of pedestal in its ivory tower, talking about how wonderful and fantastic the Francophonie is.

  (1900)  

    Let us look at what happens when it is time to take action. The Minister of Official Languages sent a letter to her Ontario government counterpart in which she said something that really blew my mind. It says right there in black and white that “the Government of Canada is prepared to study the possibility of providing financial assistance”. I must congratulate the Liberals on taking such a strong stand. Look at that: they are “prepared to study the possibility”.
    Why do they not say that it is absolutely essential to protect post-secondary and university education with a suite of crucial programs for northern Ontario and that they will do everything they can to make that happen?
    No, that is not this Liberal government's position. This Liberal government is monitoring the situation and may possibly be prepared to intervene.
    Laurentian University is the only institution in northern Ontario that offers programs for francophones as well as a tricultural program. It offers programs in English, of course, but it also offers programs for indigenous peoples. This situation will certainly affect northern Ontario's francophone community, but it could also affect the programs Laurentian University offered in indigenous languages for indigenous communities.
    As my colleague from Timmins—James Bay asked, were there problems with management, or poor planning? I do not know, but that is likely the case, given what is happening.
    One thing that I am absolutely sure of, however, is that universities and post-secondary education in Canada have become chronically underfunded over the years. Whether under a Conservative or a Liberal government, we are witnessing the systematic privatization of our public universities and their programs and infrastructure, with what look like public-private partnerships. As the Canadian Association of University Teachers recently said, this could just be the first warning sign, the first brick to fall, the first university to run into trouble, and it will become increasingly common to see universities having trouble making ends meet.
    Yesterday, the Standing Committee on Official Languages heard from Mr. Doucet of the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick. He told us that, if things continue the way they are going, we will inevitably see cuts to French programming at the Université de Moncton.
    We are also seeing what is happening at Campus Saint-Jean at the University of Alberta. It is absolutely appalling. There is no money at all for the continuity of education at that campus, even though is so important for Alberta's francophone community.
    We can see that the problems are piling up, and I am very proud and honoured that the NDP requested and was granted an emergency debate on the matter this evening in the House of Commons. This is like a game of dominoes where francophones keep losing time after time. Unfortunately, Laurentian University may simply be the first to fall.
    However, there are solutions. The Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada told us that the federal government can take action and even has a duty to act. We completely agree.
    There is another thing we agree on. The Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario is proposing a solution that would involve a separate French or francophone university in Sudbury. We fully support that initiative. In fact, this week, I sent a letter to the Minister of Official Languages, urging her to consider this solution in order to maintain access to a post-secondary and university-level education in French in northern Ontario. To the NDP, that is a top priority. We think it is extremely shameful that there was no way under the current Liberal federal government to not only properly fund the universities, but to support francophone minority communities.
    Since my time is running out, I will share my other ideas as I respond to my colleagues' questions.

  (1905)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my NDP colleagues for bringing forward the very important matter of Laurentian University, in northern Ontario, and the problems it is facing. We all agree that access to higher education in French is extremely important in Canada, especially for francophone minority communities.
    From what I have been reading over the past few hours, Laurentian University filed for protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. Obviously, there are long-standing issues and a lot of things had to happen before the university ended up in this tragic situation. Is my colleague of the opinion that the underfunding of universities is having a major effect in Canada?
    Madam Speaker, the effect is not only major, it is absolutely disastrous.
    Unfortunately, I have to remind my Conservative colleague that former Conservative governments have not exactly helped fix the problem. Cuts to provincial transfers for post-secondary education made the situation worse and made it more difficult for universities to balance their books.
    The last thing I want to see is for a university to download the responsibility of balancing their books to their students. Providing important public services and making universities accessible and truly affordable for students are collective obligations and duties. We have a good record on that front in Quebec, and I think that Quebec's model should be implemented throughout Canada.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague's passion on this issue, as well as that of all members of our caucus.
    This is a unique francophone program for midwives. It is the only one in the country. It provides bilingual access and training for midwives. Interestingly, it was stated that the program was being cut because of low or limited enrolment, yet for 30 spaces there is a wait-list of over 300 applicants.
    What impact will this have on the provision of midwifery services? Considering the debate we just had in the House about the importance of providing health services to women across the country, how will this impact women?

  (1910)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that fundamental question.
    Access to services and training is one side of it, but midwives can then provide care and use the expertise they gained at university. The demand for the midwifery program was high because it meets a need in the community. Pregnant women need access to midwifery services. If this program and the training and services it provides are abolished, women are the ones who will suffer because they will not have access to a midwife when they give birth.
    We have time for a brief question.
    The hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    Mr. Boulerice, do you agree with me that even though tonight's emergency debate is about the critical condition and major financial problems that Laurentian University is going through, it is also about the French language being in crisis, as well as the decline of second-language educational institutions and our francophone institutions?
    You talked about the Université de Moncton and the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean. Today, we are discussing Laurentian University. Is there not a crisis in the francophone community? The budget is being tabled next week, and action could be taken. However, instead of acting now, Liberals are proposing—
    I am sorry to interrupt the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, but I asked him to be brief. I also would like to remind him not to address his colleagues in the House by name. He must address his remarks to the Chair, not to the members directly.
    The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has time for a short answer.
    I am sorry, Madam Speaker.
    Madam Speaker, French is indeed fragile and in decline everywhere in Canada, including in Quebec.
    It is unfortunate that French educational institutions are not being given more resources, because there is a demand for education in French. We see it in elementary schools, high schools and universities all over the country. More resources should be devoted to education in French.
    Madam Speaker, I am the member of Parliament for Sudbury, and I am currently about one kilometre from Laurentian University.
    Laurentian is a flagship institution in our community and a major economic and cultural driver. As we know, it is actually a tricultural institution.
    My family has a long history with Laurentian. I come from Kapuskasing, but back in my day, Laurentian offered courses at the Université de Hearst. My mother is a graduate of Laurentian. She took distance education courses. For nine years, she worked on the kitchen table to get her degree in social work, which she managed to do.
    My kids went to the Touche-à-Tout daycare on the Laurentian campus. They learned to swim in Laurentian's pool. We go cross-country skiing as a family on the university grounds.
    I even taught a few advanced taxation classes at Laurentian's school of business, filling in for a colleague who had taken a year's sabbatical. My wife Lynne teaches students in the Faculty of Medicine at both Laurentian University and Lakehead University. She teaches many students.
    My family has very close ties to Laurentian, and I am not the only one in this situation. Our entire community is the same way.

[English]

    The city of Sudbury and Laurentian have a very close and important relationship. I can look at some of the amazing professors we have there, such as Dr. Peter Beckett, who studies regreening, and its international institution on regreening. As the House may know, Sudbury's environment was devastated because of mining practices back in the forties, fifties and sixties, but because of the ingenuity of the professors and students in the department at Laurentian, we were able to regreen and plant 14 million trees in our area alone.
    I think of John Gunn and the Vale Living with Lakes Centre. All of the lakes were decimated, but this changed because of his research. There are other world-class researchers doing research right now. I think of David Pearson and new folks like Dr. Nate Basiliko and Nadia Mykytczuk, just to name a few. We know that we have amazing indigenous professors as well, and students who are learning not only their language, but social work and the many other very important programs at Laurentian.

  (1915)  

[Translation]

    We were blessed to have professors like Gaétan Gervais, Robert Dickson and Fernand Dorais, and graduates like Daniel Aubin. The La Nuit sur l'étang festival, which has been one of our flagship annual events since 1973, was created by a Laurentian student. Furthermore, the Franco-Ontarian flag comes from Laurentian University, in Sudbury. [Technical difficulty—Editor] Gaétan Gervais and his students.
    I had the honour of chairing the 2011 Canadian Francophone Games, which were hosted by Laurentian University. The people of Sudbury have a meaningful history with Laurentian University.

[English]

    In 2015, when I became the MP for Sudbury, one of the first things I did was to contact and reach out to Laurentian's leadership at the time and encourage them to apply for the research grants and capital grants that were about to come online. In the spring of 2016, we announced the first of many large research funds for Laurentian.
    Metal earth was a $55-million multi-sector project designed to modernize the research for the deposit of metals. It was right at Laurentian because of the amazing professors it has. Shortly after that, we announced a $27-million investment in a new research centre to replace the cramped 40-year-old science building. The Cliff Fielding centre for research, innovation and engineering was opened three years later, on time and under budget. It is home to Laurentian's family of internationally recognized mining and engineering facilities.
    Since then, I have returned to Laurentian regularly to announce more than $10 million in funding for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and CFI. This was for Laurentian researchers and graduate students. We celebrated research week annually at the end of February before the pandemic hit.
    Our government has provided funding for research projects on indigenous health, in conjunction with Health Sciences North and Sudbury, and for the study and preservation of indigenous languages. We have provided over $840,000 to Laurentian for research designed to help first nations communities adapt to climate change. We have also provided $1.5 million for Laurentian researchers to work with Wikwemikong Health Centre and Health Sciences North in Sudbury to assess the health of indigenous children across the country. In all, our government has provided more than $10 million in research grants to Laurentian alone.
    If we add it all up, over the last five years we have invested over $100 million in Laurentian University capital projects and research projects. This is on top of the annual subsidies the federal government provides through the French languages program and services.
    As I said, I have been engaged with Laurentian from day one, since I became a member of Parliament, and in December and January I continued discussions on how I could help. If it is not through the research funding that I just talked about, it is through a new program on indigenous languages that we created. I invited Laurentian to apply to it, but unfortunately they missed the first round. I then went back to them to encourage them to apply for that funding in the second round.

[Translation]

     The federal government also transfers money to the province through the official languages in education program, or OLEP. The province then distributes that funding. Laurentian University has received more than $1 million over the past five years. The federal government transfers around $16 million a year to the Government of Ontario.

[English]

    On February 1, when Laurentian decided to protect itself from creditors through the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act process, all of the residents of Sudbury and I were shocked and in disbelief. People do not realize this, but one of the largest creditors is the federal government. What has happened is that all the funding I talked about, which was still in Laurentian's coffers, is not there anymore because of the process under the CCAA.
    Teachers and students who are conducting world-class research have, since day one, been left without knowing their future or what is going on, and that has certainly left many questions and a lot of people frustrated, to say the least. The effect on the teachers, students and families has been devastating as well. These are professionals. These are students, some graduate students, who have come here to learn from these professionals. The whole process since day one has been extremely difficult.

  (1920)  

[Translation]

    Monday, April 12 was certainly a dark day for our community, for the Laurentian community and also for the Sudbury community. More than 100 professors and 70 staff members were laid off. These are professionals, experts in their fields. I have close friends who were affected and who lost their jobs. I have friends and family members who are Laurentian University students and who do not know what will happen on May 1 or September 1.
    We have talked about the various faculties that were affected. The French-language Faculty of Education was producing our future leaders and our future high school teachers. Without them, there can be no French-language education.

[English]

    With regard to the environmental studies program, Sudbury is known to be a world-class pillar. It is something I have championed and mentioned on every platform I could get on. When I talk about my community, I say we are leaders in environmental reclamation and that mining and the environment can be together, with the economy at the forefront. That is because of Laurentian University and its ingenuity.
    There is also the physics department. We have the SNOLAB, a world-class research facility, which is two kilometres underground. It is not too far from here. A Nobel Peace Prize was won because of the research that was conducted along with Laurentian.

[Translation]

    The French midwifery program receives more than 300 applications each year. Only 30 students are admitted. Still, the decision was made to abolish these programs to allow the university to survive.
    We are going through a difficult period. We are having a hard time understanding, and we have plenty of questions. Anxiety is high, and that worries me. I am worried about the mental health of the students, the professors and their families. They do not know what will happen. It is taking a long time for communication to flow and, sometimes, very little information is shared. Our community is going through a very difficult time.
    The unfortunate announcement was made on Monday, April 12. When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I told my wife that we were going to have to keep fighting. This fight is far from over. A total of 24 programs were abolished, and our education is again being compromised. I never really thought this would happen in my community, in my backyard. I am so proud of the people who are here. Now we must start thinking about the next steps.
    During the restructuring period, from February 1 to April 12, I spoke with the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages to see what we could do. As members have seen, we are speaking to officials from the Province of Ontario.

[English]

    Universities and colleges are a creation of provincial law. The provinces have more than a leadership role to play. It is their responsibility and it is their jurisdiction. That being said, certainly our government has been steadfast since the beginning and has said that we will be there to work with the provinces to determine and help out as we move forward. The Prime Minister has said the same thing.

[Translation]

    As I said, when I woke up Tuesday morning, I said to myself that we have to keep fighting. I got lots of calls from my friends in the community, and we talked about what we can and must do to make sure our community keeps its post-secondary institution. The community I am so proud of is coming together to make sure that young people, like my children, can earn an art degree in our region. The battle is not over. We really have to get the conversation going. This is a process we have to go through. It is frustrating, but at the same time, we have to keep dreaming. We are hopeful that we will keep being able to get an education in the language and program of our choice in our region. This region is very important to the francophone community in Ontario and Canada.
    As my colleagues will have noticed, I am the one who got the entire 20-minute opening slot today given the importance of this topic. I thank my NDP colleagues for raising this matter this evening. This is an important subject, and some people think it is a final decision. I, however, think we have to keep the conversation going now that the process has started and seems to be wrapping up. We really need to have a conversation with provincial representatives, which is what we are doing today.
    That is why one of the things I did was think of solutions, of what I can do. A month and a half ago, in mid-February, I started coming up with ideas. As mentioned earlier, I used to be the parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources and I decided not to run in the next election.

  (1925)  

[English]

    Because I am no longer a parliamentary secretary, I can bring forward my private member's bill, and I have been working on it since mid to late February. We talk about the frustrating aspect of the CCAA, that public institutions like post-secondary institutions can avail themselves of the protection through that process. I believe the reason that law is there is not to protect creditors with respect to public institutions like post-secondary institutions.
    That being said, when there is a CCAA proceeding, it is not the role of any politician to insert themselves in an independent judiciary process. I have been asked by my constituents to get involved and stop it. We are not China; we are not Russia. Politicians do not stop an independent judicial process. I know that is frustrating. If we could, we would when we do not agree with it, but that is not how the democracy we live in works.
     I will go back to my private member's bill. On Monday, I will be tabling in Routine Proceedings, for the first time as a member of Parliament, amendments to the CCAA to ensure that post-secondary institutions cannot avail themselves of the protection of that act. The reason why I am doing this is very simple.
    The carnage and the anxiety I have seen in my community should not be repeated anywhere else across the country. We are living through a stressful time that should not be happening, if the provinces would take their responsibility and r jurisdiction seriously.
    We knew the situation Laurentian was in, and it is not the only one. We cannot continue cutting post-secondary funding at the provincial level and expect the federal government to always come in with a cheque. It is responsibility of the provinces. They have a duty. As I said, universities and colleges are creations of provincial laws.
    That is why I hope all members of Parliament will support my private member's bill to amend the CCAA to ensure that it is not used to basically restructure public institutions across the country.

[Translation]

    We all have to make sure this never happens again. We also have to come up with short- and long-term solutions for Laurentian University. I, personally, will never stop supporting Laurentian, but we certainly need to look at the big picture to see how we can ensure the survival of our programs and make sure that the teaching staff that was laid off has a future in our community.
    I think that the federal and provincial governments have a role to play in that. We have to ensure the survival of our institutions across Canada. That is why I am pleased to participate in today's debate. I thank the many residents of Sudbury who have written to me.

[English]

    For all my constituents in Sudbury who have written to me or who have reached out to me, I have engaged with not only with the administration, I am engaged with the union, I am engaged with the students and I am engaged with the professors. I am engaging in all the discussions to find solutions in these very difficult times.
    I wish none of my colleagues in the House of Commons have to go through what we are going through in Sudbury and at Laurentian University.

  (1930)  

[Translation]

    I look forward to questions from colleagues.
    Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the time to talk about home and of how proud I am, and to say that it is a difficult time for everyone.
    Mr. Speaker, I extend warm greetings to my colleague from Sudbury. His speech conveyed his commitment to his community and illustrated the challenges that lie ahead.
    I want him to know that I graduated from the Université de Sherbrooke, the first private university in Quebec, and I have seen how that institution has contributed to Sherbrooke's development. I certainly understand why he is so concerned about this situation. I look forward to seeing his bill so I can study it and decide where I stand.
    In the meantime, we need to address the problems facing our universities. However, there are two challenges here, since we also have to think about our minority institutions. We know how important these institutions are to the vitality of communities, and the member for Sudbury is a living example of this.
    I have three questions for him. First, does my colleague recognize that the unique situation of the francophone component of the university requires special attention, and does he recognize the federal government's constitutional responsibilities, particularly under the Official Languages Act and section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
    Second, could he talk about his vision with respect to the solutions proposed by the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, specifically, the moratorium? Also, does he think there could be a francophone identity at the University of Sudbury?
    Lastly, I would like him to comment on the fact that the university's satellite colleges were shut down two weeks ago, and that does not make any sense. I would like him to comment on all of that.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a big question. I could gladly talk about it for 20 minutes.
    Cuts were made at Huntington University in Sudbury and at Thorneloe University . These are historic institutions that play a major role in our community. We must not forget that. The University of Sudbury is a francophone and indigenous university. This is a very important issue.
    Obviously, it is vital that we support French-language post-secondary institutions across the country. The federal government has done that. In its new action plan, the government increased the envelope for French-language post-secondary institutions. We are also providing support to the Université de l'Ontario français in Toronto. If we want a bilingual country, we need to ensure that people are graduating from universities and colleges in both languages across the country. Laurentian University plays a very important role in that.
    The federal government transferred $16 million to Ontario under the official languages in education program. Laurentian University received about $1 million of that funding. We do not know how the provinces are redistributing that money, but we know that there is an internal mechanism for doing so.
    Of course, we are going to continue to support our institutions across the country, which are very important. I will continue to advocate for such support.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    I liked what he said earlier. He asked if we wanted a bilingual country. Recently, there was an unprecedented admission that French is in decline, even though we had been aware of that decline for a long time. Assimilation rates in the francophone and Acadian communities go up year after year. I think that the overall rate of language transfer to English among francophones is around 40%.
    We see what is happening with Laurentian University and the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean. There are more and more important signs.
    I would like to know what my colleague thinks. Has the decline of French been ignored for too long?
    Is a major reform of the Official Languages Act not overdue?

  (1935)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.
    I am a fourth-generation Franco-Ontarian. My children are part of the fifth generation. I did all my schooling in French in Ontario because those who came before me fought so that I could have that right.
    Yes, we must continue to fight, because French is an integral part of who we are, not just in French Ontario, but also in Quebec. We must continue to fight. We are part of North America. We have challenges to overcome. However, I am proud of where I come from, and I am proud to fight alongside members of my community. We will continue to fight for the survival of our institutions as we have for 60, 50 or 40 years. Our accomplishments are greater than ever before. However, the cancellation of French-language programs at Laurentian is hard to accept. Over the past 20, 30 or 40 years, we have racked up many victories. This is a setback, but we will keep fighting and moving forward.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I understand the emotion in the voice of my colleague from Sudbury. This is a devastation of things we have built and believed in, not just for Sudbury but across the north. I would like to ask him about a couple of things.
    My colleague talked about the amount of money that was put into capital projects recently. That would normally sound great, but when I look at what is under the CCAA, a lot of Laurentian's debts apparently came from a lot of these building projects. Now we see the stripping of the re-greening program, the water rehabilitation, as he talked about, the physics, the work that has been done on the university.
    I appreciate the fact that my hon. colleague wants to bring forward a private member's bill, but we need more. This is not just the jurisdiction of the provincial government. The Prime Minister stayed at Laurentian. He held his cabinet meeting at Laurentian. This is a national symbol. We have a national moment here. Were there problems with the management, absolutely. However, what has my colleague asked the Prime Minister to do to help Laurentian so we can preserve this important institution for his children, my children and the children to come?
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the first comment on infrastructure and buildings, the building that we actually funded was the Cliff Fielding building, which was fully funded. On the other construction, I am not sure how Laurentian would have financed it, but I know that the Cliff Fielding building is the one we financed, and it was fully funded, with private funding as well.
    I will reiterate from my speech that, certainly, we are working with the provinces to find a solution. At the end of the day, it is not the federal government. We have no straight line except to create programs that all universities can apply to. There is no straight line of funding going to universities except through the research councils. That is just the way our jurisdictions are through our Constitution.
    That being said, it does not mean that we cannot advocate, and certainly that is what we are doing today. I have talked with the PMO and I have talked with the ministers responsible, as he is doing today, asking them how we can continue. We have been quite clear that we are ready, willing and able to work with the Province of Ontario to help Laurentian University move forward, as well as look at our programming on the francophone side.

[Translation]

    As I mentioned, the community is coming together right now, and that includes my friends, relatives and family members. We are coming together to ensure the survival of our programs.
    Clearly, the federal government has a role to play. We must have these discussions. These things do not happen overnight. We have done this before, and we will do it again.

  (1940)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member has been very passionate about this issue all week. Being in the Ontario caucus with him, I have heard him talk about it quite a bit.
    I would go back to a previous question from the Bloc member who talked about Saint-Jean and another university in Ontario. We, as this particular government, have been there to support French-language rights in post-secondary education over the last number of years. We reopened Saint-Jean. We worked in Ontario with that post-secondary education.
    I wonder if the member would like to hit on those points.
    Mr. Speaker, certainly, we have been there with historic funding for our francophone institutions across the country. It is still being challenged. At the end of the day, if a provincial government keeps cutting funding for post-secondary institutions, as we have seen in Ontario and Alberta, then, yes, there will be consequences, and that is what we are seeing right now.
     Yes, we want to continue supporting. At the end of the day, that is why we need to change the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to ensure that the provinces will stop doing this. We need to ensure that we have strong institutions, that the funding is there, that we are not cutting the funding and that there is an oversight to ensure that this never happens again anywhere across the country. We need to ensure that our students are not stuck at exam time not knowing where their teachers are because they just lost their job. That cannot happen again. We have to be there for them.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
    We just heard a moving account from a member whose very important community has seen its university put on the chopping block. We also examined this very troubling situation yesterday at the Standing Committee on Official Languages.
    For francophone minorities outside Quebec, linguistic institutions are the pillar, the core around which a minority community can flourish. In North America, where English is the dominant language, it is particularly important to ensure that minorities have their own institutions, even in the most remote areas of Canada. Earlier a member referred to Campus Saint-Jean, which is located in western Canada. Other examples are the Université de Moncton in Atlantic Canada, and Laurentian University, which we are talking about now.
     Yesterday I had a chance to ask the Minister of Official Languages questions, and I hope she will take part in tonight's debate. She told us she was looking for solutions for Laurentian University. That was yesterday. Today I hope she has had time to think about the solutions being put forward by, for and with the francophone community, including the member of her own caucus who obviously wants to find a solution.
     Yesterday the minister presented her white paper to us. This white paper was not without interest, but there was nothing concrete. For five years now, communities have been calling for the modernization of the Official Languages Act and for concrete action.
    I have here a news release from the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, which joins the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario in calling on the government to intervene and ensure that the University of Sudbury is able to take over, collect the funding that Laurentian was receiving for French-language university education, and become a university by and for francophones.
    There are solutions. My colleague mentioned this earlier this evening. This is a full-frontal attack on an institution that plays an important role in northern Ontario.
    What we got from the minister yesterday was, unfortunately, a white paper. A white paper is all well and good, but we want concrete action. This issue needs to be addressed. We also need to address Campus Saint-Jean and the Université de Moncton, but we especially need to address what is going on at Laurentian University. That is what we can see.
    We are often asked what the Conservatives think about it, and yet our commitment is clear. Even before the Laurentian University crisis, we had committed to increasing funding for francophone post-secondary education in minority communities and to creating a new funding envelope for that.
    Next week, a budget will be tabled. Of course, we are still in a pandemic. In the last few years, we realized that budgets for our institutions—such as the Laurentian University—were not indexed. We asked the minister if she intended to index the funding, but our question remained unanswered.
    It is still time to do it and to make sure that funds allocated to the Laurentian University to support post-secondary education in French are used only for that purpose. The AFO is calling for that.
    I hope the minister will grant that request from the francophone community, so that funds earmarked for the francophone community in northern Ontario indeed are used to its benefit. Teachers and professors must be allowed to remain active, and important programs in engineering and education must be maintained. We have mentioned in particular the programs for caregivers and for women and men who assist women in giving birth.

  (1945)  

    As parliamentarians, we have the opportunity tonight to make a statement and to encourage the minister to take concrete action for the Laurentian University community. I want to mention that the government does not need to do that out of charity. Indeed, section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that the government must enforce the right to minority-language education.
     The mandate letter of the present Minister of Official Languages reminds her of her duty to enhance the vitality of minority language communities, to protect their institutions and to increase bilingualism across the country. She must protect the institutions of the francophone minority and, of course, the institutions of the anglophone minority in Quebec.
    We have an emergency on our hands. We do not want a white paper that might be tabled after the next election. What I would have liked the minister to do yesterday was present her bill and the concrete actions she would be taking, but instead she told us that she would be holding further consultations and that some measures would eventually be taken.
    While the minister jabbers on, we are seeing real tragedies happening all over the country, and tonight we are focusing on Laurentian University in particular. That is why, in this time of great urgency, the members of the Standing Committee on Official Languages are unanimously recommending that the government live up to its obligation to provide help, as well as support, to teaching institutions nationwide that teach official languages and enhance the vitality of official language minority communities.
    Tonight, we can see how badly Sudbury and all of northern Ontario have been shaken by this crisis. The minister has a responsibility and an obligation to act to support Laurentian University. I hope that she is in problem-solving mode tonight and that she will offer solutions as well as evaluate the solutions that are being put forward.
    As I was saying, the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, or AFO, has proposed some very specific courses of action that I would like to share with the House, since we are having a constructive debate.
    The AFO is proposing a one-year moratorium on cutting programs. We cannot necessarily react very quickly to this crisis, so there needs to be some breathing room. It is also important that the $12 million in federal and provincial funding that has already been allocated for university education be transferred as soon as possible so it can be used to retain professors and ensure that the students and community that rely on their francophone institution can maintain this connection. This is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments, of course, and the AFO reminds us that the two governments demonstrated their ability to work together on the issue of Ontario's French-language university. We believe that they could do it again for Laurentian University.
    This time, we want the minister to take action. I have a lot of respect for her, but she sometimes goes on partisan rants that can get a bit annoying after awhile. I am thinking here of her references to what she calls Conservative cuts.
    I want to remind the minister that the program for official language minority communities was in force until 2015 and was part of the roadmap for official languages proposed by the Conservative government, the second iteration of which was developed by Bernard Lord. When the Liberals took office, the communities no longer had access to that program. They had to wait for the Université de l'Ontario français crisis before the minister finally realized that nothing was being done with the program. That is when the minister reinstated the court challenges program.
    The communities do not want us to argue semantics. They want action. The minister has been in office for five years. She has the ability and the responsibility to take action, and that is what we expect in the case of Laurentian University. I believe that the Liberal member is going to speak to her personally in order to ask her to take concrete action.

  (1950)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech. I would remind him that the minister is very passionate and active on the ground. She promotes and seeks to protect both of our official languages across Canada and Quebec for all minority language communities. We changed the census questionnaire, we supported the creation of the Université de l'Ontario français and we put together a landmark $2.7-billion action plan to support those communities. On this side of the House, we appoint bilingual judges to the Supreme Court of Canada. The minister has been focused on strengthening the Official Languages Act since day one.
    These are meaningful steps that have been taken to promote and protect our two official languages.
    We understand how desperate Laurentian University's situation is. The minister reached out quickly to the provincial government, and we will always be there to support it.
    That was more of a comment than a question.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree that there was no question in my colleague from Sherbrooke's comments.
    I will remind her that the Standing Committee on Official Languages is currently studying the federal government's pitiful management of the pandemic, especially from a linguistic standpoint. Her government submitted tons of documents in English only to the Standing Committee on Health, in violation of the act. Instead of patting itself on the back, the government should take a long, hard look at how it is violating the Official Languages Act and showing its contempt for communities by not meeting their number one demand, which calls for an actual modernization of the act and not a white paper that is nothing but wishful thinking and accomplishes nothing.
    I would invite my colleague to urge her minister to walk the talk.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    My question is about Laurentian University's tricultural mandate. Laurentian is pretty much one of a kind in that it prioritizes French, English and indigenous languages. It gives all three cultures priority.
    What does my colleague think of the threat to this tricultural mandate, which is pretty much one of a kind in Canada?

  (1955)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for asking her question in French. She is absolutely right in saying that Laurentian University operates at the intersection of anglophone and francophone communities as well as indigenous communities, which we have not talked about yet but are an important component.
    Here are my thoughts on colleague's question. Both the indigenous community and the francophone minority are at a disadvantage relative to the anglophone community, which is the dominant community, of course. Solution-wise, it would be great to have an institution that focuses on the francophone and indigenous parts of the equation, which would mean overhauling the governance model so we would have an institution created by and for francophone and indigenous communities.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for granting the NDP's request for an emergency debate.
    I think tonight's debate transcends partisanship. As parliamentarians, we have to think about this situation. I listened to the member for Sudbury and sensed a lot of emotion in his speech. This is happening right in his backyard, in his community. As he mentioned, he represents the people of Sudbury. His friends and family members who study or work at Laurentian University do not know what will happen to them.
    I thank the Speaker for granting the request by the member from the other opposition party. It is very commendable, and I wanted to highlight that.
    My thoughts go out to the member for Sudbury. I was sad to hear during his speech that he will not be running in the next election. I had the chance to work with him on a number of files. I appreciate him greatly. It is unfortunate that we may never run into each other in person again. If he is listening, I send him and his wife my regards.
    I want to talk about the importance of emergency debates and their criteria. House of Commons Standing Order 52 states the following regarding requests for leave:
    (1) Leave to make a motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration must be asked for after the ordinary daily routine of business as set out in sections (3) and (4) of Standing Order 30 is concluded.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not want to belabour the point, but I thank you once again for granting the request for tonight's debate.
    I am saddened to see the people of that region having to face a loss and reduction in services in addition to the pandemic. The pillars of the French fact in northern Ontario have been shaken. It is sad because these people should not have to face this on top of a pandemic. I think we have to be aware of that and work together to find solutions.
    This is what happens when a government has had no vision for more than five years. The Minister of Official Languages has been in office since 2015. I respect the minister. In fact, I told her so yesterday at the Standing Committee on Official Languages. The fact remains that she is not taking action. She is holding consultations. Earlier, her colleague said the minister was promoting the French fact and the two official languages and that she was very present. However, she is always in reaction mode. The government seems to wait until the house is on fire before taking action.
    Recently, in December, a white paper on official languages was proposed to us, but it is just another case of postponing decisions and having to hold more consultations to make sure that whatever is put in place some day will be effective. However, that day might be too late, and new consultations will need to be launched. It is important to act. That white paper is no solution.
    I met with people from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, or CAUT. They were speaking out against the insolvency situation that started on February 1. This is the first time a Canadian public university has become insolvent. I heard the comments from the CAUT representatives. They are urging the federal government to work with the Province of Ontario to provide the funding that Laurentian University needs and to help bilingual and francophone post-secondary institutions. Given the vital role that these post-secondary institutions play in meeting Canada's current and future challenges, they recommend that the federal government develop a national strategy with the territories and provinces, in order to provide sufficient stable funding to promote high-quality post-secondary education.

  (2000)  

    I met with these people on February 17. They filed for bankruptcy protection on February 1. Today is April 14. The Minister of Official Languages may have a plan, and Monday's budget may contain some solutions. However, these people filed for bankruptcy protection on February 1. As a member of Parliament, I met with faculty representatives on February 17. There was no reaction until Monday, April 12. As I said before, the government is waiting for the house to catch fire before it reacts.
    Mr. Speaker, last fall, we requested an emergency debate on the decline of the French fact in Quebec, especially in Montreal. We are here tonight to discuss Laurentian University, which is in financial straits. What does tomorrow hold?
    I have the privilege of sitting on the Standing Committee on Official Languages. Yesterday, the committee heard from the minister and other stakeholders. The stakeholders mentioned that we could not wait for the Official Languages Act to be updated. If Laurentian University is in trouble today, other Canadian universities will also have problems in the future, be it tomorrow or the next day.
    Does the government want to turn its back on post-secondary institutions that teach linguistic minorities? If so, it had better tell us. It is not taking action, and that does not sit well with me. I have to talk about what the Conservative Party of Canada has done. I am not trying to be opportunistic. As soon as our new leader was appointed, we presented a clear plan. In the first 100 days of a Conservative government, we will invest the money to sustain our institutions, defend the French fact and protect official language minority communities.
    Today, we have to come together because the problem is bigger than the 28 programs that were cut. It is a society-wide problem. As long as Canada has two official languages, and as long as the people of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier place their trust in me, I will rise in the House to defend the French fact. We have to roll up our sleeves and find solutions that give Canadian citizens access to education in French.
    Our professors and our students have been wronged. Down the line, that will either stifle our French language or ignite it.
    In closing, I would like to read a brief excerpt from the preamble to the Official Languages Act:
    
...to respect the constitutional guarantees of minority language educational rights and to enhance opportunities for all to learn both English and French;
    That is what the preamble to the Official Languages Act says, so I think the minister needs to act immediately.

  (2005)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Timmins—James Bay and my colleague from London—Fanshawe for bringing forward this important emergency debate this evening.
    Members who have already spoken have made it clear Laurentian University in Sudbury is of importance. I am concerned about a number of aspects about this. There are important protections of the CCAA that provide safeguards other than relief of debts for assets. There are certain protections for pensions of workers in these situations.
    I know some of these protections do not go far enough. In fact, I have a bill before Parliament that would expand those protections. We need a comprehensive solution that maintains some of the protections for workers that exist with the CCAA.
    With that being said, I do fear invoking the CCAA in this way for a public university might be a sneaky way to privatize it. If this were done by the board or the administration of the university, I wonder if the province should not have had the opportunity to step in here and protect the state of the university, including ensuring it remains a public university. I wonder if the member would like to speak to some of those points.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is important to be able to see what is happening in the institutions. In the preamble, there are indicators that call on