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43rd PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 081

CONTENTS

Thursday, April 15, 2021




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 081
2nd SESSION
43rd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Committees of the House

Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Special Committee on the Economic Relationship between Canada and the United States, entitled “Enbridge's Line 5: An Interim Report”.

Points of Order

Taking of Screenshot of Parliamentary Proceedings  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of order with respect to the events that unfolded in the House yesterday during question period.
    I would like to say that the conduct of the person who took the screenshot is not only extremely unfortunate, but it is mean-spirited and life-changing for one of our colleagues. Taking a photo of someone who is changing clothes and in the nude, and sharing it without their consent could very well be criminal. Did the person who took the screenshot give any thought to the ramifications of their actions? Did they think of the member's family, children, friends, or the fact that the Internet is forever? Are we really at a point in our politics where it is acceptable to try to destroy the reputation of and humiliate a colleague because someone finds a very unfortunate error and unintentional mistake to be funny? Our politics has taken a very dark and destructive turn, if this is the case.
    It is difficult to accept that the MP for Pontiac, who has been such a champion for environmental protection and climate action, could be treated with such callous disrespect, so I would request that the Speaker commence an immediate investigation to determine who took the photo, so that the House can decide the appropriate action to take.
    I want to thank the hon. member for his intervention. I will take it under advisement, look into the situation and get back to the House if necessary.

Pest Control Products Act

[Routine Proceedings]
    She said: Mr. Speaker, I thank my seconder and colleague, the member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith, who is always a strong proponent of protecting our environment.
    Today I fulfill a promise I made to my constituents when I ran in 2019. It is an honour to present this bill with the important purpose of imposing a nationwide ban on the use of glyphosate, from our forests to our fields. The widespread use of glyphosate over New Brunswick forests and across Canada is a menace to human health and plant and wildlife biodiversity. There is a growing global consensus that glyphosate, deemed a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, has no place in our society.
    Rather than allowing toxic chemicals to be sprayed in Canada until they are proven harmful, we should be exercising greater precaution and banning products until they can be deemed safe. Canadians have the right to breathe clean air, drink safe water and harvest healthy food from the land.
    I want to thank the leadership of the tens of thousands of New Brunswickers who have bravely fought for years for this ban to be implemented in the hope of ensuring safer communities for generations to come.

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

  (1010)  

Health-based Approach to Substance Use Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to introduce the health-based approach to substance use act. I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver East, for seconding this proposed legislation and for her tireless advocacy for evidence-based drug policy.
    We all know that the situation is dire. Nearly 20,000 Canadians have died of overdoses in the last five years, and in the shadow of COVID-19, the opioid overdose epidemic has rapidly worsened across Canada. In British Columbia, over 1,700 people died of overdoses in 2020 alone, the deadliest year on record.
    Decades of criminalization, a toxic illicit street supply and a lack of timely access to harm reduction, treatment and recovery services have caused this escalating epidemic. It is time to treat substance use and addiction as the health issues they truly are and to address stigma and trauma. This bill provides a comprehensive approach to do just that, by decriminalizing personal drug possession, providing for record expungement, ensuring low-barrier access to safe supply and expanding access to harm reduction, treatment and recovery services.
    I call on all parliamentarians to support these urgent and necessary steps to address Canada's overdose epidemic.

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

Petitions

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a mere four petitions this morning.
    The first petition highlights the situation of Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China. It highlights the ongoing genocide, which includes birth suppression, arbitrary detention, separation of children from their families, invasive surveillance, destruction of cultural sites, forced labour, forced organ harvesting, etc.
    The petitioners call upon the government to do something it has not yet done, which is, as a government, to recognize that Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China are being subjected to an ongoing genocide. The petitioners also call upon the government to hold those responsible accountable through the Magnitsky act and address the issue of supply chain legislation, Canada having among the weakest supply chain laws in the world, to prevent the importation of products that are made through slave labour.

  (1015)  

Ethiopia  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition highlights the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
    The petition calls for various measures by the government to step up its engagement with that situation, including engaging directly with Ethiopian and Eritrean governments on the conflict and promoting short-, medium- and long-term support and election monitoring in Ethiopia.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition is about Bill C-6, the government's conversion therapy ban.
    The petitioners are in support of banning conversion therapy but are concerned about the definition of “conversion therapy” that is used in the bill. They highlight the way in which this definition would apply very broadly to practices that have nothing to do with conversion therapy. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the House of Commons to address this drafting error, this problem in the definition, to fix the definition and to put forward a conversion therapy ban that properly defines the practice, one that all members in the House would support.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Mr. Speaker, the fourth and final petition highlights Bill S-204, a bill currently in the other place, before the justice and human rights committee of the Senate.
    Bill S-204 would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ without consent. This deals with the horrific practice of forced organ harvesting and trafficking that we see in other parts of the world and the risk that Canadians might be complicit in that practice.
    The petitioners are in support of Bill S-204 and want to see it passed by both Houses as quickly as possible.

Public Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and privileged to rise in the House today to present this petition, which was initiated by Nicholas Martin. I am very proud of the fact that there are 36,600 signatures on this petition.
    The petitioners are calling upon the government to reject Bill C-21 to save the jobs of thousands of Canadians; fully and unambiguously legalize airsoft and paintball so that citizens and residents can continue to purchase and use that sporting equipment; recognize that airsoft and paintball are safe activities that tens of thousands of Canadians participate in; recognize that airsoft and paintball do not represent any risk to public safety and banning them would not improve public safety; and not needlessly target law-abiding citizens who use airsoft and paintball for sporting purposes.

Chile  

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition about the situation in Chile. The petitioners are Canadians who care deeply about what is happening in Chile. They observe that the social uprising in Chile, which started in October 2019, has led to massive detentions and other human rights violations in Chile and has continued during the pandemic.
    Several independent international bodies have investigated and internationally denounced these violations, including a Canadian observation mission on human rights and an international human rights observation mission to Chile with Canadian participation, Amnesty International, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Human Rights Watch. They have filed condemning reports calling for immediate action, citing extreme human rights violations by the Chilean government and the use of political imprisonment as an instrument of repression.
     It is, therefore, important for the Canadian government to take a role as a peacemaker and protector of human rights and follow the lead of dignitaries from other countries, like Germany, that have denounced military and police repression since October 18, 2019.

Ethiopia  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition on the situation in Tigray. Since some of that material has been covered before, I will just mention a few relevant facts. The war crimes that are purported to have occurred in that region include indiscriminate shelling of civilian towns and villages, extrajudicial killings, at least one large-scale massacre, looting and sexual violence. All of these are drawn to the attention of the House by the petitioners.
    In addition to the proposals that were mentioned by my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, the petitioners call for an immediate international investigation into credible reports of war crimes and gross violations of human rights law.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition on behalf of constituents here in Saanich—Gulf Islands, the WSANEC indigenous territories, which we acknowledge with gratitude.
    The WSANEC nation, which when anglicized is pronounced “Saanich”, has a very critical ecosystem called the Saanich Inlet. As the name suggests, it is an inlet from the Salish Sea with very little flushing capacity. The petitioners are very concerned that sewage becomes a problem in the Saanich Inlet, primarily from recreational vessels and some other sources. The petitioners seek the designation of the Saanich Inlet as a zero-waste discharge area.
    Another example that friends on the east coast will know where this applies is the Bras d’Or Lake, which likewise is an inlet from the sea and is protected by a zero-discharge area.
    The petitioners humbly request that the government take action and designate the Saanich Inlet as also a zero-waste discharge area.

Provincial Autonomy  

    Mr. Speaker, I have eight petitions to present today. Due to the possibility of an election, I want to make sure that they are in fact tabled.
    The first petition is from constituents asking the government to take responsibility for creating a national unity crisis and ensure that there are no bureaucratic or legislative roadblocks for provinces that wish to exercise their constitutionally allowed measures of autonomy.

  (1020)  

Fiscal Stabilization Program  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition today is that the government immediately increase and backdate the fiscal stabilization program and work with provinces to ensure that they fix the current inequities in the equalization formula.

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, in the third petition today, the petitioners ask that the government formally recognize Alberta's place as an equal partner in the federation, remove any barriers to Alberta being able to develop its resources without interference and ensure unfettered international access to those resources.

The Senate  

    Mr. Speaker, in the next petition, the petitioners ask that the government take steps to establish equal representation in Canada's upper chamber, the Senate.

Property Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, in the next petition, the petitioners ask that the government seek the agreement of the provinces to amend the Constitution to include property rights.

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, in the next petition the petitioners ask that the Prime Minister apologize for the actions of former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his incredibly destructive national energy program, and ensure that provinces are able to develop and market their natural resources.

Conversion Therapy  

    Mr. Speaker, finally, I table two petitions regarding the government's Bill C-6. They are substantially the same, with a little bit of difference in the wording. Petitioners agree that conversion therapy should be banned but express concern about the definition referenced in Bill C-6 and ask that the government make efforts to ensure that this is fixed.
     I remind hon. members that when they present petitions, they should be as concise as possible. I am not pointing to the last member because he did an excellent job at keeping it very brief. I compliment him on that.

Questions on the Order Paper


Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Bill C-15—Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the bill; and
    That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period.

[Translation]

    I invite hon. members who may wish to ask questions to rise in their places or to activate the “raised hand” function so the Chair has some idea of how many wish to participate in the question period.
    The hon. member for La Prairie.

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, once again, the government is imposing time allocation, better known as a gag order.
    This is an exceptional measure that should only be proposed on rare occasions and agreed to even more rarely. It is an exceptional measure that applies to exceptional circumstances.
    However, the current government has made a habit of using this measure. It almost always imposes gag orders and time allocation motions. That has become the government's modus operandi.
    Why is that the case? I think that the answer lies with the current government's management of its legislative calendar, which has lacked rigour and effectiveness. Even though the opposition parties often co-operate, the government is still not managing its calendar properly and always ends up imposing time allocation motions.
    Bill C-15 is an extremely important bill. Today is the second day of debate. The first day, we debated this bill for only an hour and now the government is already moving a time allocation motion.
    Of course, Bill C-15 is very important for first nations, but it is important to understand that the debates in the House are also very important, and the government needs to respect that.
    My question is simple. Why does the government want to stop debate at this particular point in time?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. Obviously, I agree with him about the importance of Bill C-15.
    First, there are no surprises in the bill. It is based on a previous bill introduced by our former colleague Roméo Saganash, so members are familiar with it and it has already been debated in the House of Commons and studied in committee. We therefore need to move forward.
    With regard to the work of the House, the Conservative Party's strategy is to filibuster all of our legislation. That is what it did to the bill on medical assistance in dying, the 2020 fall economic statement and the net-zero legislation. The Conservative Party always tries to stop bills from being examined and passed by filibustering.
    That is why I want to thank the NDP and the Bloc Québécois for their co-operation on the bill on medical assistance in dying. As a result of that co-operation, we are able to move forward and pass very important bills that represent progressive measures in the history of our Parliament and our country.
    Before we move on to questions, I would ask members to keep their interventions to no more than one minute.
    The hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I find it kind of ironic that the government continues to use time allocation on a bill that purports to provide indigenous Canadians with free, prior and informed consent and that the Prime Minister has chosen to ignore the multitude of indigenous leaders who have yet to have their voices heard.
    We support the aspirations of UNDRIP, we have been perfectly clear about this, but there are significant issues that need to be addressed with this legislation. We need to get this right, we need to define “free, prior and informed consent” before it moves through the legislative process. For example, it has taken over 10 years to gain clarity from Canadian courts on section 35 rights enshrined in Canada's Constitution.
    The lack of clarity, that lack of understanding of key concepts of Bill C-15, threatens to turn the clock back on economic reconciliation and dismantle the hard work of indigenous leaders. How does the government actually justify ignoring the legitimate concerns indigenous leaders and communities have on Bill C-15?

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will not challenge the hon. member on his sense of irony, given his party's dilatory tactics every step of the way with every piece of government legislation.
    What I can say is that this bill is built on a previous bill, Bill C-262, brought forward Romeo Saganash. There are no surprises. These discussions have been had in the House of Commons and are continuing to be had with indigenous leadership in all its forms across Canada, in all its diversity across Canada.
    With respect to FPIC in particular, it is a contextual process that will often have a study at committee stage, and that will happen. I know INAN has already done a prestudy largely focusing on that point. There is more than adequate discussion thus far, and that discussion will continue through the rest of the parliamentary process.
    Mr. Speaker, it concerns me because we had the first half of debate for second reading a couple of months ago yet the government continues to stall debate, and now once again we are forced into time allocation.
    I am wondering why the government has put off this bill knowing that in the last session of Parliament this bill ended up not being passed through the Senate because it did not have enough time. Why are we now at the 11th hour again, forcing the government to put in place time allocation?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for her work on this issue and her leadership on this issue, as well as the leadership of her party in hopefully supporting this time allocation motion.
    We are here because of the dilatory tactics of the Conservative Party on other measures, such as the fall economic statement which was debated. Those debates were repeated ad nauseam even though the content of that bill was meant to help Canadians in facing the worst pandemic we have faced in 100 years.
    We are here because this bill is known to the House of Commons. As the hon. member points out, it went through the previous Parliament in its previous form when it was brought forward as a private member's bill by Romeo Saganash. It only died in the Senate because of, again, the blocking and dilatory tactics of Conservative senators to let it die on the Order Paper.
    We are moving because this is a bill that needs to be passed. We need to get to the next stage, which is the action plan co-developed with indigenous peoples across Canada, in order to get us all to a better place. It is a bill about indigenous human rights. We are very much supportive of that and we very much wish to move this forward.
    Mr. Speaker, I heard an earful from the Minister of Justice about why we have to do this here today. I do not know how much of that is actually verifiable, because I have been in this House many times. Today is the first day that I will get to speak on this bill. I have spoken to many indigenous organizations in my riding and in my province in developing resources across Canada. They all want a say in this matter. They all want to make sure that what we are doing here is the right way to move forward.
    I know there are many voices across this House, in all parties, that want to make sure that we do this correctly as we move forward here and this requires actual reading. I hear the Minister of Justice say that Conservatives have been dilatory in this, but this has just arrived here. If we need to choose this to move forward here, let Parliament sit, let us get these things heard and let us move good legislation forward in this House.
    There are so many issues presented in this legislation that need to be addressed by this House openly by all members of this House, discussed so we know exactly what is on the table here and what will change going forward. To rush this bill through, as opposed to anything else the Liberals have put on the table to use as delay tactics in this House, is insincere.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the member is generally supportive of UNDRIP and that he is in dialogue with indigenous leadership in his province. It has been clear in this session of the House of Commons that the Conservatives will resort to dilatory tactics. We saw that with respect to MAID when they refused every single attempt to prolong debate, despite the fact that outside of the House of Commons the justice critic was saying precisely that he would debate it in extended hours. Every time we brought forward a motion for extended hours, they refused.
    We are here today simply because the Conservative Party will use every dilatory tactic in its book in order to slow down the progress of progressive legislation, such as this piece of progressive legislation. We have debated a previous version of this bill in the House. A committee has studied it. The INAN committee has done a prestudy of this bill. We will continue to move forward in dialogue with indigenous leadership across Canada and in dialogue with members in this House who are sincere about the ideals in this bill and moving this bill forward.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want the minister to pick up on the idea of the importance of UNDRIP. This is an issue that has been before the House, in one form or another, for quite a while now. When we speak about reconciliation, we talk about issues, such as reforming justice legislation and doing what we can in dealing with systemic racism. UNDRIP also plays an important aspect in reconciliation.
    Can he take a broader approach in terms of why it is so important that we pass Bill C-15?
    Mr. Speaker, UNDRIP is 25 years old. It was developed at the United Nations with a great deal of indigenous leadership from indigenous peoples in Canada, such as former Conservative MP, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Sákéj Henderson, along with others.
    The contents of UNDRIP are well known. Romeo Saganash then took up the torch in the last Parliament, brought in a private member's bill, which was studied and which went through all three debates in the House of Commons and through committee, but sadly died on the Order Paper because of dilatory tactics by Conservative senators. We also have the example in British Columbia, which has implemented UNDRIP legislation at the provincial level.
    There is a great deal of knowledge about what the potential for UNDRIP would be. Fundamentally, this is a human rights document about the human rights of indigenous peoples and this is a good piece of progressive legislation that needs to move forward.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree wholeheartedly with the justice minister that getting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed is a fundamental human rights issue. I am concerned that we are once again at the 11th hour. We had so much opportunity to discuss these issues and now we are having to use time allocation. To me, this reflects a larger problem: The Liberals talk about working with indigenous people, but continue to ignore their legal obligations.
    For example, I would like to ask the minister about the issue of St. Anne's Indian Residential School, where the justice department lawyers suppressed evidence, presented false narratives, lied at hearings and had cases thrown out. They are ignoring Justice Glustein, who has ordered them not to destroy the documents. They have set up this so-called process that is actually excluding over 160 survivors and will make no effort to even include them.
     The minister has not even talked to the survivors, so how can he come to the House and talk about how the Liberals are going to work for reconciliation when they refuse to even speak with Edmund Metatawabin and the leaders of St. Anne's about the crimes that were committed in those hearings by justice department lawyers?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question allows me to correct some of the misconceptions in the public domain.
    In 2016, Department of Justice lawyers went to the Supreme Court of Canada arguing precisely to maintain the records from St. Anne's and other residential schools because of their importance to Canadian polity and our sense of history, as well as to the justice that would be possible for survivors, and we lost. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that those documents had to be destroyed.
    We are in a process of trying to work within the parameters of that decision to maintain documents for as long as possible, so that survivors will have access to them to the extent that it helps their claims. Our lawyers are working in good faith to try to preserve those documents for as long as possible, notwithstanding the order from the Supreme Court of Canada. I welcome the recent ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal that we are studying carefully, which hopefully will give us the continued wiggle room not to destroy any documents.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is so much to say here and so much to clarify. The arguments are extremely nuanced. The implications of this bill are profound. There are voices that must still be empowered through this process. This is for all of Canada. Canadians deserve a fulsome debate. MPs deserve the opportunity to contribute to that fulsome debate.
    Would the minister agree that even good, progressive legislation has to go through the parliamentary process? We need to have these conversations out in the open. There are many voices, on either side of the bill, who should have their day in the House of Commons. Would the minister agree?
    Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the hon. member in principle. We need to hear voices and we need to move legislation through, but I remind her that this is a process that began 25 years ago with the passage of UNDRIP at the United Nations. It is a process that was picked up in Canada by Romeo Saganash in the previous Parliament. It is a process in which we will continue to be in dialogue with other parliamentarians and continue to be in dialogue in a distinctions-based fashion with the myriad forms of indigenous leadership across Canada.
    This is just a way station in the process. It will continue through the development of an action plan for the implementation of UNDRIP afterward. I would suggest to the hon. member that is really where the heavy lifting is going to be done with respect to our relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada. I agree with her, but we have to be careful to not let perfection be the enemy of the good. We need to move this legislation forward in order to get to the next step and—
    We will have to go to the next question.
     The hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister referred to the pre-study at INAN and all the work that has supposedly been done on this legislation already.
    I do not want to let the facts get in the way of talking points, but at the pre-study at the INAN committee, we had numerous requests from individual leaders of first nations, groups of people representing first nations, and indigenous business groups that had not had the opportunity to have their say and give their input on this important piece of legislation, because the minister's party limited the amount of debate we could even have at the pre-study at INAN. I understand it has also been forced to have a pre-study in the Senate.
     My Bloc colleague pointed out, very clearly, that at this point we have had one hour of debate on this bill. As a new member of Parliament, I am not privy to all of the history and all of the stuff that has happened in prior Parliaments. I have the opportunity and the responsibility as a member of Parliament to speak to this legislation, and to speak on behalf of the many stakeholders who have reached out to my office and who have concerns about this legislation.
    For the government to now invoke closure after one hour of debate, before we even get into the second hour of debate, is unconscionable in my opinion. Could the minister explain why he does not want to hear the voices of indigenous leaders who are asking to speak on this piece of legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth.
    I have been in constant dialogue with indigenous leadership in its myriad forms across Canada. I continue to be. I did not stop when the bill was tabled in the House of Commons, and I continue to speak to industry groups. We had a specific consultation targeting industry groups across Canada, led by NRCAN. We have had a very intensive consultation process, which continues.
     I would point the hon. member to experiences in this Parliament, where we debated a fall economic statement for much more time than we would have debated a budget. Speaker after speaker from the Conservative Party got up and said the same thing. It was the same on MAID: Speaker after speaker got up and repeated the same arguments ad nauseam.
    It is the Conservative Party and its dilatory tactics that have forced us into this position today.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, I was going to bring up the fall economic statement when trying to highlight what has been going on in the House.
    The fall economic statement was introduced on November 30, and we still have not gotten to vote on it because the Conservatives have been dragging their feet.
    I actually do not think they have anything against this piece of legislation and that they are going to be supportive of it. What I feel is that, unlike the Bloc and the NDP, the Conservatives are trying to prevent any legislation from getting through so that they can somehow declare a victory, in the sense that we are not able to accomplish anything.
    We could look at MAID, which the minister brought up, as well as conversion therapy, which we are supposed to be debating. I have a feeling, based on practices I have seen over the last five years, the Conservatives will not let these issues be voted on unless we come forward with a motion like this.
    Would the minister agree with that?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. On this particular day, I also salute our common Italian-Canadian heritage, given our announcement yesterday.
    It is critically important to look at the dilatory tactics of the Conservative Party. The fall economic statement is a perfect example, as was MAID: a very important piece of legislation that Canadians wanted and that courts were requiring. Thankfully, in that particular case, the Bloc Québécois stepped up and supported a time allocation motion.
    I do not like time allocation any more than the next member of Parliament. I would like to see everything debated fulsomely. However, there is a responsibility, and I know the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has brought this up on a number of occasions, to debate responsibly, not just with prepared talking points but with new arguments. We are not getting those from the Conservative Party. We are getting arguments repeated ad nauseam for the purposes of delaying.
    Mr. Speaker, we have to talk about the reality today. I would remind the minister that it is actually the government House leader who sets forward what we will be debating.
     I am in total agreement. I want to get this through the Senate this time. I was part of the last Parliament. I saw this bill go through. I fundamentally believe that the need for legislation that is going to help us build a framework to acknowledge indigenous rights and title in this country is imperative. However, doing it this way is really a choice of the government.
     When we look at the long history that we have here, we still have indigenous communities without clean drinking water. We still have indigenous communities trying to take steps forward, and we have the government blocking the way at every step. I am really disappointed that this is the only way that the government sees the bill being able to go through.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her dedication to this process. I am glad that she brought up the process last time for Bill C-262, under the leadership of Romeo Saganash, where we did get it through all three readings in the House and then it died in the Senate. We do not want this bill to have the same fate. The composition of the Senate is different now. In particular, thanks to our government, there is a great deal of indigenous leadership within the Senate itself, which is absolutely fantastic and a wonderful point in Canadian history.
    Again, I do not want perfection to become the enemy of the good. We have had a robust consultation process. That robust consultation process will continue through the rest of the parliamentary process and through the Senate process. In particular, that robust engagement and collaboration process will be part of the bill once it is implemented in the action plan. This is a positive way forward. This is long overdue. There are no surprises in the bill, and this is the time to do our best as parliamentarians to move this forward and engage in those substantive debates as we move forward through the action plan.
    For those keeping track, we are going to try to get three more questions in.
    We will go next to the hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock.
    Mr. Speaker, we keep hearing the blame game that the minister tries to put forward. I do not think anyone is buying it. We all know it is the government House leader who controls the House schedule and decides what we vote on.
    The minister earlier alleged that the Conservatives keep bringing up the same things. Here is some new information that was brought forward since we last met. Treaty Six first nations chiefs utterly reject Bill C-15. That came out just a week or so ago. They are asking the government to begin a process of engagement with them. We have heard from elders from a number of first nations who wrote to us because they flatly reject and refuse to accept Bill C-15. Many others have been talking about it.
    What does the government have to say to these indigenous communities and leaders? Why will the government not practise what it preaches?

  (1050)  

    Mr. Speaker, indeed I have spoken to indigenous leaders across Canada, including the leaders of the treaty peoples in western Canada. A large number of indigenous leaders have expressed concerns. I recognize that, and we are in dialogue with them. There is also a greater number of indigenous leaders from the myriad leadership structures, and in particular traditional structures across Canada, and we are engaging with as many of them as we possibly can. We will continue to engage with them in order to move this process forward in a positive way.
    Mr. Speaker, going back to my last point, the government promised to put forward the bill last year. Now, in the eleventh hour, it is being forced to put in a time allocation. I question if the bill really is a priority for the current government in the way that Liberals keep pushing the date back. We are in the eleventh hour. We are now putting in place a time allocation. I wonder how sincere the government is in actually getting the bill through, if it will stop playing games and get this process going properly.
    Mr. Speaker, this is precisely what we are doing. Since I was renamed after the 2019 election, I have been working hard to develop the bill. We were sidetracked by COVID, quite frankly. I will be honest, it was around the time we were considering tabling the previous version. In that case the consultation process had a very different flavour.
    We quickly shifted gears with COVID. We began to consult with indigenous people over the summer as a pre-consultation precisely not to lose the time that we had. I can assure the hon. member that much of my summer was taken up by those consultations. We moved to table it in the House of Commons as soon as we could incorporate the suggestions made in that pre-consultation period. We are serious about this. We have done this diligently and we are going to get this through.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, earlier, my colleague from Kingston and the Islands said we were trying to stretch debates out for as long as possible. I just want to point out that the government is responsible for the parliamentary calendar and that there was a prorogation that cost us a lot of time.
    With respect to time allocation motions, I also want to point out that, when we realized that we were wasting our time, not to repeat myself, on the MAID issue, we were in agreement.
    Parts of the preamble to the bill before us now are utterly unintelligible. We have talked about this bill for just one hour, and now here we are with a time allocation motion. I think that is irresponsible of the government and that the government itself is partly responsible for delays in the legislative process.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.
    We want to ensure that this bill gets passed. It is very important. The bill guarantees the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples across Canada. We are in contact with indigenous leaders across Canada, including Quebec. I met with several chiefs and leaders in Quebec, virtually of course, individually or in their communities, or through federations of associations.
    It is very important that this bill gets passed. I thank the hon. member for his support on the MAID legislation. I would like to assure him, and my colleagues from Quebec, that we are working very hard to make sure this bill passes.

  (1055)  

[English]

    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion before the House.

[Translation]

    The question is on the motion.
    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.

[English]

    The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I would request a recorded vote.

[Translation]

    Call in the members.

  (1140)  

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

(Division No. 91)

YEAS

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
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
Garneau
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
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
Saini
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
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
Yip
Young
Zahid
Zann
Zuberi

Total: -- 175


NAYS

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)
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
Kmiec
Kram
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacKenzie
Maguire
Manly
Marcil
Martel
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLean
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Nater
Normandin
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
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
Wilson-Raybould
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 153


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

[English]

Second reading  

    The House resumed from February 17 consideration of the motion that Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings on the time allocation motion, Government Orders will be extended by 30 minutes.

[Translation]

    Debate.
    The hon. member for Manicouagan.
    Mr. Speaker, from the outset I would like to say that it is an honour to speak in the House to Bill C-15. This is an historic bill and I hope we will be able to adopt it swiftly.
    My colleagues know that I represent a northern riding and the majority of its population are members of the Innu or Naskapi nations. I rise in the House with my brothers and sisters from the North Shore and the Nitassinan in mind. I speak for the communities of Essipit, Pessamit, Uashat, Maliotenam, Unamen Shipu, Kawawachikamach and more. It is for these communities and the entire North Shore, which is also in favour of this bill, that I rise today.
    This bill comes in the wake of great moments in our history in Quebec, including the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701, which forged the alliance between our adoptive ancestors. My own ancestors were not on Quebec soil at that time, but that is what happened between the French and the indigenous peoples.
    I will talk about three things today, one of which is extremely important to me because there are many myths about Bill C-15 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We must deconstruct these ideas, comments and opinions, which lead our reflections on the issue in the wrong direction.
    Before speaking about self-determination, the third point of my presentation, I would like to remind members of the positions and actions of the Bloc Québécois that are in line with what we are doing today in the House.
    The Bloc Québécois has promised on several occasions to be an ally of first nations. Whether in my work as an elected member or in the case of the entire Bloc Québécois, we have never wanted to speak for first nations. On the contrary, we want to be a conduit. These are nations. Quebec is a nation. To have a respectful relationship, we must let the other speak. Today, I hope that my words and those of the Bloc Québécois demonstrate that we wish to convey the words, wishes and desires of first nations.
    It will not come as a surprise if I say that we support the bill. The Bloc Québécois has stated its support for the declaration many times. Even in the previous Parliament, we were in favour of Bill C-262, which was introduced by one of my former colleagues. I cannot name him in the House, but he knows who he is. I thank him.
    We have always been an ally to first nations, and we support the declaration that was signed over 15 years ago as well as the previous bill. Despite introducing private members' bills about this over the past 15 years and pressuring the government, we still have not managed to pass a bill. That is why I want to emphasize that passing this bill is urgent. This is just the first step, and there will be more to follow, including the implementation. It is very important that this be done quickly for first nations.

  (1145)  

    I now want to talk about the concerns that have been expressed by different communities. Although the concerns are shared in different ways, they all come down to the feeling of a loss of control. I always find that surprising, since we are talking about first nations' rights. I do not think we should even be asking these questions, on principle, since these are their rights. These rights belong to them.
    There are nevertheless some concerns that may play on fear, whether consciously or subconsciously. Sometimes these concerns are born out of a lack of understanding, which is why we need to dispel the myths.
    The first has to do with free, prior and informed consent, known as FPIC, a topic that has evoked some strong feelings in almost all of the speeches. We hear so much about FPIC, as though it were the only key to adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and enshrining it in law.
    However, we are told that FPIC is a veto right, which blurs the line between two completely different notions, but what we hear is that consent is a veto. The first point I want to make in my speech is that these two notions are completely different. Consent is not a veto. FPIC is a notion all on its own.
    According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we have an obligation to co-operate in good faith with indigenous peoples in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent. We are therefore not talking about a veto.
    There is no significant difference between such consent and the duty to consult established by the Supreme Court. This is nothing new, and it is something that should always be done. I agree with the declaration. I agree with obtaining the consent of a people or nation living in a territory with regard to activities that will have a direct impact on them and on their lives, culture and health. In my opinion, we should all agree on that.
    I have lots of things to say, but I will move on to another point people often raise about how there is some uncertainty regarding the legislative intent. The Minister of Justice said that the legislative intent was not to grant veto power. He said so clearly during his speech at second reading of Bill C-15. I do not have the minister's exact quote here, but I am sure it is in the official report of the House of Commons Debates.
    Now I would like to talk about the legal definition of consent. Consent was already required in the past, though it was not called that. It already existed. Now it is being named and made mandatory. Examples from history are the James Bay project in the 1970s, the Oka crisis and the Grande Baleine project. First nations were being asked for consent back then.

  (1150)  

    In any case, the first nations are rallying and mobilizing. We have seen it over the past couple of years. Political pressure is being exercised on many fronts and it is warranted. There is a desire be consulted and to be able to provide free and informed consent.
    There is another concern regarding the revenues generated by resource-related activities. I think the issue of royalties is simply ridiculous, and I believe the British North America Act is clear on the matter: Quebec and the provinces are owners of their own land and the resources therein. In the case of Quebec, this is an absolutely indisputable interpretation of the Constitution. There is already an agreement on the sharing of revenues from these resource development projects. That already exists.
    When it comes to wealth sharing, I do not see how anyone could have a problem with sharing the revenues with the first nations who live on the land, creating jobs for those first nations and promoting wealth creation in remote areas like mine. The Bloc Québécois believes that sharing resources is patently obvious. It is necessary, and it goes without saying any time there is an agreement, a deal or a consultation with first nations.
    I will address another point, but first I would like to conclude my thoughts on Quebec's jurisdictions, as I was talking about earlier.
    On Bill C-15, the Minister of Justice said the following:
    Let me be clear: Bill C-15 would impose obligations on the federal government to align our laws with the declaration over time and to take actions within our areas of responsibility to implement the declaration, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples. It would not impose obligations on other levels of government.
    The notion that this would infringe on Quebec's and the provinces' jurisdictions is yet another myth and another concern that I want to debunk. This is not true. The intent seems quite clear in this legislation. The Bloc Québécois will be voting in favour of the bill precisely because our interpretation is that the bill does not infringe on the provinces' exclusive jurisdictions.
    I want to talk about the notion of self-determination under the declaration, since that is exactly what it does. The declaration recognizes that indigenous peoples and nations have the right to self-determination. Members will know that a nation's right to self-determination is something that we in the Bloc Québécois hold dear. I do want to point out that this right to self-determination is an internal one. It has nothing to do with a state's borders, and this is made clear in several articles of the declaration. This right to self-determination can simply be interpreted as an inherent right to self-government within a sovereign state's legal framework. There is autonomy, but within the legal framework of a sovereign state, within Canada. I hope that one day this will apply to Quebec.
     On top of that, international law has adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. There is a lesson to be learned from what has been done internationally.
    Canada has also taken a position in support of UNDRIP. We agree, but there is one more step to take. We must follow through and finally pass Bill C-15. Then we need to implement it, which we hope will be done swiftly. There is talk of a three-year time frame, but we would like to move quickly and see that shortened to two years. My first nations brothers and sisters have been waiting long enough.

  (1155)  

    In closing, I would like to quote a few passages from UNDRIP that I think are clear examples of why we should pass this bill very quickly. These are points that everyone agrees on and, again, I have a hard time understanding how anyone could not support this. I will now quote a few articles all at once. Article 10 states the following:
    Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.
    I do not know how anyone could be against that. The declaration also states the following:
    Indigenous individuals have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person.
    These are fundamental rights. Who is against that? I will continue:
     Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights....
    I would ask the same question. The declaration also states the following:
    
     Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining....
    Who is against that? I will continue:
     States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent.
    Once again who is against that? This is my last quote:
     States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
...
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration;
...
    There are many other articles I would like to read, but they are all along the same lines. They speak about rights, integrity, freedom, essential needs and respect; in the end, they are about human beings.
    In closing, the Bloc Québécois obviously supports Bill C-15 because we agree with the principle of it. We would like to see the bill be implemented quickly. With regard to all the misconceptions surrounding Bill C-15, I would like people to learn more about the bill and for us to talk about it, because we need to clear up those misconceptions. We must not vote based on impressions or opinions, but on facts, and we always need to remember that we are talking here about the rights of nations.
    At the same time, since the Bloc Québécois obviously seeks to speak on behalf of Quebec, I would like to remind the House that, on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted the following motion:
     THAT the National Assembly acknowledge the conclusions of the Viens Commission, expressed on 30 September 2019, as regards the responsibility of the Québec State with regard to the overwhelming and painful findings set out in its report;
    THAT it recognize, as the leaders of all the political parties represented in the National Assembly have affirmed, the importance of taking concrete actions, now, to put an end to discrimination against the members of the First Nations and the Inuit and to forge egalitarian relations with them;
    THAT it acknowledge that the report from the Commission Viens calls on the Québec Government to recognize and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a recommendation also made in the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls tabled last May;
    THAT the National Assembly ask the Québec Government to recognize the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and commit to negotiating its implementation with the First Nations and the Inuit.
    The will of Quebec, which I am expressing today, and the will of first nations are clear.

  (1200)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like members of the House to think in terms of reconciliation. I want to emphasize that Bill C-15 is about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. UNDRIP is an international call for action that was adopted by the United Nations back in 2007.
    I will quote from one of our Canada websites, dated November 12, 2010. It states:
    Canada joins other countries in supporting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In doing so, Canada reaffirms its commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples at home and abroad.
    I believe that all members of the House of Commons recognize the importance of reconciliation. Would the member provide her thoughts in regard to the timing and how critically important it is, after years of certain types of delays, which I will not go into, for the House of Commons pass the legislation?

  (1205)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments and his question.
    This bill certainly is timely, and much of it makes sense. As I said several times in my speech, we are behind the times. I would not want to shut down this debate or these discussions, but I would like things to move ahead quickly so the bill can be passed and brought into force.
    I often talk about my personal life. We are members of Parliament, but we are also people, and that shows in what we do. I like when we are proactive and decide to step up and do the courageous thing. I am a Bloc member, obviously, so for me, respect for human rights is a given. We have to pass this bill. Given everything that has been said so far, I do not see how anyone could oppose it.
    Yes, this is an opportunity we must seize, and I hope the government will expedite the process and put this bill on its legislative agenda so we can pass it quickly.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very dynamic and very clear speech.
    For members from regions where many indigenous peoples live, the fight for justice for them is particularly important. These peoples are very resilient, even though they continue to live in Canada in conditions comparable to those of third world countries and their rights are oppressed.
    Does my colleague agree that the government's fine talk about reconciliation and the importance of its relationship with indigenous peoples is not enough? What it must do is take real action. We must pass this historic bill as well as make significant investments and do whatever is necessary to deliver justice to indigenous peoples across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I know that the first nations are important to her because we have had the opportunity to talk about it.
    Of course I wish the government would do more than pay lip service and express its good intentions to legislators. We want real action, and we can simultaneously work on an implementation plan. I imagine that in 15 years, some thought has been given to how to bring in the required measures.
    My colleague talked about living conditions comparable to those in the third world. With all due respect to the first nations, in some places there is no drinking water and no one is ever sure when the food will arrive. Some communities are grappling with climate change. Then there are all the problems related to COVID-19: How can they respect social distancing rules when they do not have a roof over their heads and have to share housing with several families? How can they protect themselves when they have to isolate but someone shows up with the virus?
    It is not just those regions that are far away; often,our knowledge of first nations is also miles away from where it should be, to make a play on words. I would urge my colleagues to find out more about first nations. Anyone who is less familiar with first nations, who may not have had the opportunity to see their communities or to visit them regularly, might learn something about how important this bill is.
    People in some of these communities do not even have access to clean drinking water or have a roof over their heads. This is 2021. We have a duty to act.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is good that I can ask some questions on this subject, but it is unfortunate that it is in the context of time allocation. Once again, we find ourselves in this situation.
    The member from the Bloc talked about a number of myths. I would ask her to comment very specifically on the fact that it is a myth that all indigenous peoples in the country oppose resource development. In fact, I hear from many indigenous peoples across my constituency, my province and the country. They have expressed great concern about the implementation of UNDRIP and some of the associated policies that inhibit the economic opportunity of indigenous peoples, specifically in regard to resource development.
    The member talked a little about some of the myths, and I would like her to comment on whether she would acknowledge that it is in fact a myth that all indigenous peoples oppose resource development.

  (1210)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the myth is that all indigenous peoples oppose development.
    In my riding of Manicouagan, we have mines, fisheries, hydroelectricity and a number of related projects. I come from a resource-rich region, and these projects are already happening.
    What we want is free and informed consent. First nations are interested in their economic development. If there is a myth, it is that first nations are not interested in their economic future, but that is completely false.
    First nations want to be consulted. I think that is what the people of Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick want as well. Asking first nations what they think and seeking their consent is the right thing to do, as history shows. I am thinking of Hydro-Québec in particular.
    First nations are interested in their economic development. They believe that adopting the declaration and enshrining it in Canadian law will help them.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is so important that we are having this conversation. I want to talk about some things that are a little Alberta-specific, so I hope the member will be patient with me.
    Since November 2016, the Metis Settlements of Alberta has unanimously endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although the legislation before us comes late and has lacked full consultation, as we have heard in the House today, it is a first step that has the potential to ensure a real working framework for better outcomes for indigenous peoples, including for my colleague, Blake Desjarlais from the Métis community of Fishing Lake, one of eight Métis settlements in Alberta.
    Although the original content of the bill under former Bill C-26 is lacking in this version, we need to ensure that the intent is still to ensure true nation-to-nation relations and real reconciliation that must put indigenous people in the driver's seat.
     I am wondering if the member could comment on this. Does the member agree that this is, in fact, the true goal of UNDRIP, to ensure that indigenous people are in the driver's seat and are leading the reconciliation?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments.
    I am pleased that she spoke about what is going on in her home province. We are here to work together, debate and improve the bill. She made some compelling comments.
    I completely agree that the first nations must be at the forefront of our discussions. I am a member of the Bloc Québécois, so I want to speak for Quebec. I do not want others to decide what is good or bad for Quebec. That is a decision for me and all Quebeckers to make. The same goes for first nations.
    First nations have rights too, and I want them to be able to weigh in on this issue.
    As an elected official and a human being, I feel strongly about being able to make free and informed decisions, and first nations are no different.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is such an honour to rise today to speak to this very important bill. I would like to start with commending all those who spent so many decades drafting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the grassroots, leadership and civil society groups that have brought us here today.
    I would also like to thank those who introduced bills in support of the implementation of UNDRIP, such as former members of Parliament Denise Savoie and Tina Keeper, or tabled motions in its support, as former MP Irene Mathyssen did.
    The NDP has a long history of support for the UN declaration. For instance, in 2006, the late Jack Layton wrote to the UN of our belief in social justice and equality leading us to support the declaration. He stated that even before the UN General Assembly had adopted it.
    I would also like to give a special acknowledgement to my partner, Romeo Saganash, whose Bill C-262 forms the basis for Bill C-15, the bill we are debating today. It has been a very long road to get here.
    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007 to enshrine the human rights that, as it outlines, “constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.” I would also respectfully suggest adding the security of the person to that list.
    The declaration was the result of over two decades of negotiations between indigenous peoples, civil society groups and nation states. It consists of 24 preambular paragraphs and 46 articles that define the inherent minimum human rights of indigenous peoples. This was a recognition that the rights of indigenous peoples were being violated throughout the world.
    The articles within the declaration affirm the social, cultural, political, economic, environmental and spiritual rights of indigenous peoples. They include the right to self-determination, the right to free, prior and informed consent over matters impacting indigenous rights, including resource extraction on indigenous lands and territories.
    Should these rights be violated, article 27 of the declaration also provides for fair and mutually acceptable procedures to resolve conflicts between indigenous peoples and states, including procedures such as negotiations, mediation, arbitration, national courts, and international and regional mechanisms for denouncing and examining human rights violations.
    It is important to note that the requirement for free, prior and informed consent in activities of any kind that impact on indigenous peoples, their property or territories, differs in law from a veto. Courts are obliged to take into consideration the facts, circumstances and applicable laws in any given cases, while veto is an absolute concept in law.
    Canada, over a period of two decades, was an active participant in the drafting of the declaration, along with numerous indigenous organizations and representatives, and other states. However, despite that hard work, Canada, under the Harper government, opted to oppose the adoption of the declaration in 2007 with three other countries: Australia, the United States and New Zealand.
    Although the current Prime Minister indicated in 2015 that the “most important relationship” was with indigenous peoples, he, along with the Liberal caucus, continued to not support Bill C-262, which was introduced in April 2016.
    It was only through public pressure that the Liberals finally caved and voted in favour of Romeo Saganash’s bill. This was in spite of the fact that during the 2015 election campaign, the Prime Minister promised repeatedly to adopt and implement the UN declaration.

  (1215)  

    It is time we move away from the Indian Act, and move forward in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples throughout Turtle Island. It is time that we confirm the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian law, obliging the government to ensure that all legislation is consistent with the rights articulated within the declaration, as well as to prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the declaration’s objectives, including addressing injustices, combatting systemic racism and discrimination, and eliminating violence against indigenous peoples.
    However, as we speak here today, we are very far away from achieving that goal. Today, as I rise in the House, the current government is in breach of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling to immediately stop racially discriminating against first nations children on reserve. There have been 10 non-compliance orders to date, and the Liberals have now indicated they will break the law and not pay what was ordered by the tribunal.
    There are more children in care now than at the height of the residential school system as a result of human rights violations, including failing to afford families the right to housing, failing to meet international obligations to ensure access to clean drinking water, and numerous other human rights violations that make it almost impossible for families to survive, let alone thrive. The government turns a blind eye to human rights, even when it impacts our children and families.
    The amazing warrior Cindy Blackstock so eloquently stated, “There’s simply no credible defence to suggest that we, the people of this period, don’t know any better.”
    As talk about reconciliation has become the new normal in this House, the government continues to fight St. Anne residential school survivors in court and sixties scoop adoptees, a Crown behaviour that continues to strip survivors of justice. It shows a total disregard for the violence they endured and continue to endure in real time while dealing with the residual traumatic and lingering pain.
    Those experiences changed or shattered lives, including that of my dear friend and spirit sister Michele Guerin. Michele Guerin is a member of the Musqueam Indian Band and an esteemed lawyer who testified as a survivor during the national inquiry's truth-gathering process. Michele was apprehended in the hospital at birth, during the sixties scoop, from her mother Beverley Guerin, who served two years in the Canadian navy and worked as a secretary at an engineering firm.
    The lives and fates of persons who end up in the system are often left to the whims of those making decisions, often leaving them very unstable. That was true for Michele, who decided to testify and chose to pursue a freedom of information request to obtain her child welfare file, records she used in her testimony, walking her through her journey as a kid in care labelled as a “high risk youth”. I would argue that the label was incorrectly provided. It should be given to institutions that are at risk of not meeting the needs of children and families.
    There was a failure to meet Michele's needs as a young person, including objectifying her at the age of 14 in a local newspaper ad posted by the ministry of child and family services in an attempt to find her a home. The ad stated it was looking for a home for “a pretty independent teenage girl. Absolutely no parenting required.”
    Even as a young person, she was objectified and sexualized by the system. Her rights were totally disregarded. Her personal experience brought her to feel connected with the late Tina Fontaine, a young indigenous girl who at 14 was left alone by the system and who was murdered. Her valuable life was further disrespected with the acquittal of her accused murderer.
    Michele so clearly shared this during the hearing in British Columbia during the national inquiry:
    The system labels us, neglects us, ignores us, and fails us. The worst failure is that decade after decade nothing changes. Our girls and women are still the prey. So we held the Inquiry. There were a lot of politics around the Inquiry, yet the families persisted. They needed to be heard. I testified as part of my own healing journey. The Inquiry lawyer told me, it’s rare that we have a lawyer testify as a Survivor. More importantly, I testified to be a voice for my Sisters. Still, there is no action plan. It feels as if our words fell on deaf ears and the government has chosen to Do Nothing.

  (1220)  

    These deaf ears are failing to invest in the current housing crisis, which has become even more critical during the pandemic. Many indigenous people continue to be unsheltered as a result of the violent and wrongful dispossession of our lands, territories and resources, a situation that has become even further pronounced on reserves, where issues of overcrowding, disrepair, inadequate infrastructure and lack of affordability are the norm, not the exception.
    There has been a continued failure of this government to heed the calls from the member for Nunavut, the member for Keewatinook Aski and the member for Timmins—James Bay to take immediate action to address the massive shortages of homes and the mould crisis that have resulted from major disrepair.
    There is also the promise of ensuring an end to water boil advisories on reserve, and it is one broken promise after broken promise. This is a vile human rights violation, as noted by Human Rights Watch in a 92-page report citing the Canadian government’s failure to meet a range of international human rights obligations, including its failure in, and extensive excuses about, ending all boil water advisories on reserve in Ontario, Manitoba and throughout the country. Even now, as we are in the midst of a pandemic, the government continues to find excuses not to afford indigenous peoples with this basic human right to water, yet it had billions of taxpayer dollars to spend on the TMX pipeline. These are choices.
    Although Canada has endorsed the UN declaration, the Liberals still do not apply the right to free, prior and informed consent, as has been witnessed in Kanesatake, Site C, TMX, Keystone XL, Muskrat Falls, Wet’suwet’en territory, Baffinland Mary River Mine and 1492 Land Back Lane. It is not limited to these instances. We have seen excessive police force, or a lack of it, as witnessed in the Mi'kmaq fishing dispute, where police forces stood by their fishery, literally watching it burn to the ground.
    It is no wonder that there has been criticism of Bill C-15 coming from indigenous peoples who have even lost faith that maybe this time the government will do the right thing. It is one thing to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and it is completely another thing to respect and uphold the rights affirmed throughout the articles of the declaration. Indigenous peoples have no reason to trust the government.
    I understand this mistrust. It is valid, warranted and earned. I have the same mistrust, which is why we need this bill, Bill C-15, so we can finally have some legislative affirmation of our minimum human rights contained in the declaration. My support for the bill comes from my valid mistrust of the government to do the right thing. My trust has grown thin watching the clock run down, taking away hope, once again, that this will actually make it through Parliament.
    Why does the government continue to hold up this bill? It is because indigenous people have seen and felt the impacts of human rights violations, including those contained in the Indian Act and other policies in Canada that maintain the violation of our rights to this day. Not only have governments failed in meeting the most basic human rights, but they legislated a violation of these rights.
    It is abhorrent that in 2021, indigenous human rights are still up for debate almost daily in the House. Consecutive Conservative and Liberal governments can pull billions out their hat for their corporate friends, but banter back and forth about how they can come up with the money needed to resolve the water boil advisories on reserves, respect the right to housing and actually put in place a national action plan to resolve the ongoing violence perpetrated against indigenous women and girls caused by colonialism that continues to this today.

  (1225)  

    It is time for the Liberal government to start upholding human rights to ensure that the dignity, safety and the security of all persons is realized. This bill confirms these rights and ensures that any new legislation going forward will be consistent with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as the summary of the bill affirms.
     It is a critical step toward replacing the Indian Act with human rights. The Liberal government needs to act now, and I cannot express that strongly enough. The implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is essential. Bill C-15 confirms its application in Canadian law, meaning that courts can refer, and have referred, to the declaration to interpret domestic law, in addition to other distinct legal frameworks that also inform the interpretation of indigenous rights including the Constitution, indigenous law, our treaties, and international law that also respect and affirm those rights. None of these legal frameworks supersede the others, they are interrelated and mutually reinforcing.
     Bill C-15 is not perfect and requires amendments. This has been noted in witness testimony by indigenous and non-indigenous people in our study of the bill in committee. We must ensure that broad-based consultations occur as we move forward to strengthen the bill. For example, a recommendation to include, in preambular paragraph 8 and article 6(2), a reference to racism.
    We know there are growing movements of white supremacy here and abroad. We also know that as a result of human rights violations, indigenous peoples throughout what is now referred to as Canada have been left poor and, far too often, unsheltered on our very own lands. All the while violence resulting from systemic racism, including what is being witnessed in the case of Eishia Hudson or a failure of the justice system in the case of Colten Boushie, the fact the indigenous women and girls 2S and diverse gendered people continue to be murdered and missing without urgent action, like our lives or loss of lives does not matter. The onus of proving systemic racism is placed on indigenous people whether sitting in the House of Commons or boardrooms, or fighting boots to the ground.
    Indigenous peoples are constantly put in the place of having to justify experiences with systemic racism and the microaggressions we experience, having to explain this reality to those in privilege who get to decide whether the claims are valid or not. Gaslighting: we need to call this out. To do otherwise would merely uphold the white supremacy and paternalism that is designed to keep indigenous peoples oppressed. Let us stop with the games and the need to protect the status quo, and just call it what it is, systemic racism, and not only when it is convenient but let us just call it systemic racism, neo-colonialism, white supremacy and human rights violations.
    We need to first acknowledge truth if we are ever to realize a change in behaviour. Call it out, and let us get on with the work of creating a world where all people are safe and uphold their basic human rights, so we can all achieve our right to joy and dignity.
     Let us stop fighting indigenous peoples in courts, whether it be about lands and resources; our right to free, prior and informed consent; fighting children; sixties scoop adoptees; and residential school warriors. Let us just honour human rights. Laws need to be put in place to protect indigenous peoples from acts of racism.
    The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should have happened 13 years ago, when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly.
     How many years will we have to wait before indigenous peoples' human rights are finally respected? The time for excuses has run out. That is why I am proud, along with the NDP colleagues, to call on the Liberal government to act now and to finally uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague so much for her incredible, impactful words today. She has articulated so many of the things that need to be said more often in this House.
    I have struggled with this bill. I have high hopes, but I also have those same concerns and that same mistrust. I am thinking of court cases, child welfare, residential school survivors, the boil water advisories, the lack of action on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, the snail's pace of implementing the TRC recommendations, the poverty, the state of housing.
    I wonder, will this bill truly address the situation? For communities on the ground, day-to-day band operations, what will this mean in practice? That is the question I am having trouble articulating. Is it symbolism over substance, or can I believe in Canada this time around?

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, it provides us with another legal tool that we can use to protect indigenous rights in this country, which include treaties, international law, domestic law and indigenous law. It provides us with another legal tool we can use to affirm our rights. It does not take away from or impact our rights, it affirms the application of the minimum human rights standards articulated in UNDRIP as having application in Canadian law, and it is beyond time that this happen.
    Madam Speaker, one of the proudest moments in my parliamentary career was being in the House of Commons on May 30, 2018, and voting alongside Romeo Saganash on the third reading of Bill C-262 and sending it to the Senate, where, sadly, it languished for an entire year before the first round of debate began.
    I want to ask my colleague about the inconsistent approach the federal government often has when saying it wants to uphold indigenous rights and the sort of selective application of the UN declaration. My riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford is being plagued by an anchorages issue that were all established without the free, prior and informed consent of the Halalt, the Lyackson, the Penelakut, the Stz’uminus and the Cowichan peoples. Parks Canada is making a huge effort to consult with these nations in the establishment of a national marine conservation area, but when those same nations raise concerns about the anchorages to the Minister of Transport, we get dead silence.
    I would ask my colleague about the totally inconsistent approach that we get from different departments of the federal government.
    Madam Speaker, it is important to recognize that there has been a normalization in this country of violating the rights of indigenous peoples, as we have seen globally. We need to move beyond decision-making that is made only when it suits our economic and political interests and brushing it aside when it does not. Human rights are human rights. Human rights are a non-partisan issue and need to be applied.
    This bill would provide application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law. It would clarify rights that have already been affirmed through the courts, through hundreds and hundreds of Supreme Court rulings, so it is necessary. That behaviour is colonial behaviour and if we truly want to move beyond reconciliation, we have to at least uphold the minimum human rights of indigenous peoples in this place that we now call Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for her incredible passion and the work she has done on this file.
    As we speak today, the people of Kashechewan are being forced to face another evacuation. Year in, year out, every spring, the people of Kashechewan have to leave their traditional territory because they are living in a community that is fundamentally unsafe. I bring this up at this point because we have had the Conservative government break agreements with the people of Kashechewan, we have had the Liberal government sign agreements with the people of Kashechewan, but there is no difference between the actions of either party. They continue to ignore the health and safety of people. The Liberals make promises, but do not follow through.
    With other year of threat to people's very lives, having to leave their homes in the midst of a third wave of COVID, what does the member think about the government's failure to live up to the obligations of legal contracts that it has signed with indigenous people to guarantee human rights and justice?

  (1240)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the House that Canada has signed on to international human rights obligations. We are signatories to human rights in the international community, yet the government has wilfully and intentionally violated the minimum human rights of indigenous peoples. We know indigenous peoples in this country, as a result of human rights violations, were already behind and we know as a result of COVID-19, people are even further behind.
    The fact that in all the COVID spending, although we were further behind, although indigenous people comprise 5% of the entire population, we were given less than 1% of the overall COVID funding. That is a normalized behaviour in this country that we need to look at. We need to stop turning a blind eye and ensure that all people who live in this place that we now call Canada are ensured minimum human rights. That includes the right to housing, to accessing clean drinking water, to keep their kids, the right to go to school in their own territories, these very minimum human rights that are up for debate almost daily in the House.
    I will continue, along with others in the House, to do what we need to do to ensure human rights for all.
    Madam Speaker, I cannot thank the member enough for her comments today. It is so important to hear from her. She is such an ally. I have learned so much from the member about the rights of indigenous people in Canada and around the world. I honour her for her words she has brought forward today.
    As the member for Edmonton Strathcona, I would also like to talk very briefly about a community in my province that has been suffering for decades, that has been suffering with insufficient housing, with insufficient care for the people in that community. The community of Saddle Lake has been asking the federal government for years and years for support. I want to flag to the member that the incredible work she is doing is something that I will be sharing with those people. If there is anything she would like to say, any support she would like to offer to the people of Saddle Lake, I would be happy to take that to them after this debate.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to say that indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, allies, need to unite. We need to unite. The bill is not perfect. It requires amendments, but it is a starting point. We need to stop fighting against ensuring that indigenous peoples have minimum human rights in this country and finally realize human rights for all.

[Translation]

    I am honoured today to speak to Bill C-15 as the member for Nickel Belt in Greater Sudbury, Canada's mining capital, which is located on the Robinson-Huron treaty territory of 1850 and on the traditional unceded lands of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Wahnapitae people.
    I would also like to acknowledge the presence of the Métis people. As a member of the Liberal indigenous caucus, I am especially proud to support this bill, which is so important to the future of my region and the country as a whole.
    Like many other members, I work closely with indigenous communities and their leaders to build relationships, mutual respect and, in some cases, good friendships. We all know that too many of these communities across Canada are struggling with the legacy of residential schools, as well as other problems related to systemic racism, intergenerational trauma, housing, access to clean water, high incarceration rates and a lack of jobs.
    Today, we are having a debate on legislation that will help us address these enormous challenges. Bill C-15 would bring Canadian legislation into line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. UNDRIP sets out the rights of indigenous peoples around the world, including their right to self-determination and their right to develop their lands, territories and resources.
    My speech today will focus on the role that our natural resource economy has played, is playing and will play in helping to right historical wrongs.

  (1245)  

[English]

    Let me share an example from my region. It involves Vale Canada's copper mine and Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation. The property is less than 50 kilometres south of where I am in my riding, next door to my riding of Nickel Belt and the riding of my good friend, the hon. member for Sudbury.
    Work began in the sixties, but hopes to extract the nickel, copper and precious metals vanished in the early 1970s due to the world's low pricing. That was during a time when most Canadian companies did not bother consulting local first nations. The Sagamok Anishnawbek people still refer to this ignorance as a 100-year wall of indifference.
    Things have changed and while progressive companies have played a role, credit must go to indigenous rights' pioneers, leaders from B.C. to Nova Scotia, who launched court challenges, starting in the early 1970s, to assert their rights. It was in that context that the Sagamok Anishnawbek nailed down an agreement with Vale prior to the mine opening in 2014.
     First nation members got training and access to jobs, which involved everything from underground mining to trucking, hauling and snow removal services. In 2019, the first nation acquired control of the mine's ore and waste rock haulage contract. More important to the community, it was a sense of pride.

[Translation]

    At the time, the leaders of this first nation called it a historic event. It will go down in history. The future is here, and I am proud that our government is encouraging these partnerships all across Canada.
    I just watched a video on YouTube about another success story in northern Ontario. Honestly, I got choked up.

[English]

    Last year, Natural Resources Canada provided $500,000 in a training fund for the Agoke Development. The money came from the $13 million three-year indigenous forestry initiative.
     Agoke, a forestry company in northern Ontario, is owned by three first nations. Their leaders are determined to create local jobs, especially for youth who otherwise have to leave their families and traditional territories to get employment. Today, they are truck drivers, millwrights, power engineers and heavy equipment mechanics, and some are trained in forestry management.
     One of the youths in the video said that he was reluctant to take part, but then his grandparents convinced him to take that leap of faith. That youth was bursting with pride when he was asked if he was glad he had applied. He said that it was life changing. A young woman echoed that sentiment, telling other youth, “Honestly, just to sign up.“

[Translation]

    The Natural Resources Canada program also gave $330,000 to the Cree first nation of Waswanipi in Quebec, which is located 800 kilometres north of Montreal. This financial assistance enabled the first nation to reopen a shuttered sawmill. That is fantastic, but the government cannot do this alone.
    We need the private sector and its private purchasing power. Industry is answering the call, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is a good business decision at a time when many companies are experiencing labour shortages, especially in areas that are remote and near indigenous communities. The oil industry already supports more than 10,000 indigenous jobs and has invested some $12 million in the communities.

  (1250)  

[English]

    Just last spring, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers reaffirmed its 2016 endorsement of the UN declaration as a framework for reconciliation. The LNG sector has helped set the pace. In fact, the Conference Board of Canada said recently that this sector had the potential to close the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people.
    Meanwhile, the Mining Association has taken action to support and embrace UNDRIP.

[Translation]

    It revised its indigenous and community relationships protocol. This will make it possible for its members to align themselves with the requirements of our new Impact Assessment Act, our government's initiative to achieve the objectives of the declaration.
    There are approximately 1,200 indigenous communities located near several hundred active mines and more than 2,500 active exploration properties. These agreements provide for training programs, apprenticeship opportunities, and substantial scholarships and retention bursaries. The objective is to provide transferable skills that can be used after the mine shuts down.
    The forest products industry also recognizes the importance of establishing partnerships with indigenous peoples, 70% of whom live in or near forests.

[English]

    In B.C., for instance, the various partnership agreements have brought roughly $250 million in benefits to indigenous communities. This progress is not confined to traditional resources and industries. Many communities will take part in a clean energy wave as we drive toward a net-zero 2050 target.
    In northern Alberta, our government is helping indigenous communities build Canada's largest off-grid solar energy farm. This is hardly an isolated incident. The Conference Board of Canada noted that indigenous communities owned half of Canada's renewable projects, which is making real progress.
     However, the truth is that there is still more work to do be done. That is why everyone, government, industries and these communities, must work harder and together to build that foundation of trust.
    The natural resources sector is the largest employer of indigenous peoples in Canada. The natural resources economy provides jobs, equities and opportunities for indigenous businesses and impact agreements that benefit communities adjacent to natural resources. UNDRIP will provide a clearer picture for resource development in Canada, helping to ensure these projects are done in full partnership with indigenous people.
    Working together, we can be part of correcting this grave historic injustice. I urge all members of the House to support the bill.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to enter into debate on this subject, although it is unfortunate it is under the auspices of time allocation.
    I heard from a number of indigenous leaders, communities and individuals, who are very concerned about the consequences a legislated implementation of UNDRIP would have on their ability for economic self-determination. Certainly, I appreciate the fact that the member brought forward a number of concerns about how stakeholders needed to be engaged and whatnot, but I am concerned about how some indigenous leaders see this as having possible negative consequences on their ability to participate in Canada's economy.
    Madam Speaker, the bill has provided some opportunities for consultation. Some indigenous communities have concerns, but the vast majority of indigenous communities are in support of natural resources and work collectively with a natural resources company. It is clear that many, if not all, of the industries have embraced UNDRIP. They know that we need to consult with indigenous communities. They know that to get resources to market, we need to partner and we also need to look at a net-zero plan by 2050.
     This is important for the consultation that is happening. It is important that we pass the legislation. We need to move forward. We need need to build the trust with indigenous communities, and the private sector is leading the way.

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. He talked about what went on in his backyard, the lack of consultation with first nations people and the fact that first nations youth had to leave the north, again and again. What is happening in his backyard is the destruction of the indigenous languages, the indigenous education, the indigenous politics and environmental programs at Laurentian University. There has been no consultation with them and that member has gone to ground.
    The member talks about how great it is that indigenous people can learn to drive trucks. Yes, they know how to drive trucks all right, but we have a world-class program at Laurentian to ensure access for indigenous youth not to have to leave the north, but to stay and be doctors, nurses or teachers. It is being wiped out and that member has not bothered to stand up and fight for them.
    How can he have the nerve to talk about consultation with first nations now while this program is being wiped out on his watch?
    Madam Speaker, it is always interesting hearing the member speak, because he could not be further from the truth. We all agree that the program cuts that are happening at Laurentian University are unacceptable. The indigenous, the environment and what is happening is unacceptable during the court proceedings.
    However, I want to assure the House, members of Nickel Belt and Greater Sudbury, indigenous peoples and people all across my riding that I have been standing up. Our government will be supporting a plan that has been proposed. This is something we have to do.
     Today, we are debating the consultation approach that we have taken. We are debating UNDRIP. We need to pass this legislation. We need to do this now. The urgency is here. We have supported it over the years and now we need to pass it. I hope that tomorrow my colleague and all the members of the House will take that initiative to ensure it is passed.
    Madam Speaker, resource development and extraction have offered some opportunities for first nation communities: training, jobs, accommodation agreements and perhaps economic prosperity in certain cases. The trouble with highlighting only the positive is that it lacks integrity; it comes off as disingenuous. We know many of the ways that resource development and extraction have actually used and abused indigenous territories and peoples.
     Could the member comment on some of the ways that missing and murdered indigenous women are impacted by, say, man camps that accompany this development?
    Madam Speaker, obviously more work needs to be done. The House of Commons and all political parties need to support indigenous communities across the country. We need to ensure that we look at housing and clean water, and at the many issues facing first nations. We have many issues to deal with, and we will be taking action. We are making great strides. We need to promote the good that is happening in indigenous communities and we need to do better.
    Madam Speaker, good day and áma sqit. I am speaking to members today from the traditional unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam nations. My riding also includes the traditional unceded territories of the Líl'wat, the Shishalh and the N’Quat’qua nations. I am very grateful to also call this place my home.
     Tanúyap. It is particularly important to start with this language acknowledgement as we are debating Bill C-15, which seeks to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian federal law.
    It is important because we need to remember that indigenous peoples have lived on these lands and waters since time immemorial. Their laws, their practices and their ways of life did not end when settlers reached Canada’s shores. However, our nation has stubbornly not been able to reconcile this reality and has instead sought to carve out a box, figuratively, to isolate first nations in society. It has sought to marginalize indigenous people in Canada or to assimilate them into society more widely.
    The actions of settlers and Canadian governments over time have been to dispossess indigenous peoples of the land they enjoyed communally, to separate families, to suppress indigenous culture and to deny the same basic rights to indigenous peoples that the rest of Canadians enjoy freely.
    The advances on indigenous rights we have seen in our country were not simply given to first nations. They were the result of long, arduous litigation that led to the development of aboriginal law. This was by no means easy: It started from a point of first nations not having the right to legal counsel to having rights protected under section 35 of the charter. The common law has evolved to recognize aboriginal rights to traditional practices such as fishing under indigenous leaders and visionaries like Ron Sparrow.
    Recognition of aboriginal practices and title in seminal cases such as Delgamuukw had to be built from an evidentiary base that was recorded through oral history, when the law did not recognize it. These cases had to be heard in front of leading jurists who, only 30 years ago, dismissed indigenous ways of life as nasty, brutish and short before they finally worked their way up to the highest courts in our land where our laws continue to evolve.
    The adoption of Bill C-15 would help flip this script with the government finally taking a proactive approach to recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples, including the inherent right to self-determination. Nothing less is required to move forward in reconciliation.
    Since 2016, progress has been made by introducing new approaches to negotiations and establishing mechanisms for co-operation and collaboration, as well as through ongoing steps to implement and respond to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called upon the Government of Canada to fully adopt and implement the declaration as a framework for reconciliation, and Bill C-15 responds to calls to action 43 and 44.
    Bill C-15 would take this step by further requiring that our laws be consistent with UNDRIP, or else modifying them so that they are. It is a simple and short bill, but its implications are wide-ranging. For that reason, an up to three-year timeframe is established to develop an action plan to implement this legislation. I know that seems like a long time, but when we consider that this implicates all federal ministers, the whole of government, and 634 first nations in this country speaking 50 different languages, as well as the amount of federal legislation that will have to be looked at, we can understand the scale of the task.
    This is not the first time we are debating this bill in this chamber. This bill was first introduced by Cree former Liberal MP Tina Keeper in a 2008 private members' bill, which failed to be enacted. Former NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private member's bill passed in the House, but unfortunately languished in the Senate for over a year before the last election.
    I have to emphasize that we are not the first movers in this space of adopting this bill into domestic legislation, given that the provincial government in British Columbia did so in 2019. We can learn from its experience. The sky has not fallen since. Instead, the province has had one of the most robust economies in our country since then. I mention this to dispel a common misconception about the likely impact of this bill.

  (1300)  

    When it stalled the previous iteration of this bill, the official opposition in this chamber and the Senate voiced fears that the article recognizing free, prior and informed consent from indigenous people for projects on traditional indigenous land would paralyze resource development. However, these fears disregard the fact that the Government of Canada already aims to secure free, prior and informed consent when actions are proposed that impact the rights of indigenous peoples on their lands, resources and territories. Case law has grown to recognize that significant impacts to closely held rights require a meaningful process that seeks consent, in practice anyway, to uphold the honour of the Crown and to meet constitutional obligations under section 35.
    These fears also disregard that industries already work from within this frame because their shareholders expect it, because it is necessary for social licence and business certainty, and because they know that the projects will become fixtures in the communities. Partnership with indigenous peoples is the way forward.
    Giving first nations a say in projects that affect them does not mean that projects do not get built. It means that bad projects do not get built, and that the issues that impact first nations are addressed in the process. The Squamish Nation in my riding pioneered an indigenous-led environmental assessment process that a major project proponent agreed to be bound by. Rather than reject the project, the EA approved it with important conditions that would mitigate the impacts of the project. From that, an impact benefit agreement was then ratified by the nation through a referendum.
    Similar progressive processes have been developed by nations such as the Tahltan Nation in northern B.C., where mining is a hotbed of activity, and the Secwepemc in the interior of B.C. Processes like these are now allowed, and indeed encouraged, by the Impact Assessment Act that became law in 2019. It is a great departure from the assessment regime that the official opposition brought in, in 2012. When the Conservatives were in power, they treated fist nations as stakeholders rather than as the rights holders that they are, and treated consultation with indigenous peoples just the same as with other individuals: as a box-checking exercise. This was not only dishonourable, it was also unlawful, and it is one of the reasons that inspired me to be where I am today.
    The Impact Assessment Act is one of nine federal laws that references, and was created within, the spirit of the declaration. We need not fear these developments, because when first nations have clear power over decisions that affect them trust is built, confidence increases and opportunities become available for indigenous peoples. Decolonizing our relationship with indigenous peoples presents perhaps the greatest opportunity for economic growth in this country. If first nations can get out of the absurdly titled Indian Act, they can gain access to basic abilities, such as getting a mortgage from a bank, among many other benefits.
    I wish to recognize Shishalh Nation hiwus Warren Paull, who was a councillor in 1986 when the Squamish Nation became the first self-governing nation in our country through visionary leadership, blazing a trail for many other nations. The nation has since developed advanced land-use plans to guide development and is assuming new areas of responsibility from other orders of government. It participates as a full partner in the Sunshine Coast Regional District, has reformed its constitution and voting laws, negotiated detailed provincial agreements on reconciliation and inspired the next generation of leaders, all while continuing complex negotiations on rights with the federal government. This is also happening against the backdrop of a community where survivors of residential schools still painfully recount their experiences.
    Chief Paull was one of many dignitaries at the B.C. legislature for the announcement that the province would be the first in Canada to introduce and pass legislation to implement UNDRIP. There he noted that:
     It's been 52 years since Frank Calder and the Nisga'a Nation did the first court case on land claims. Since those 52 years and counting, we finally get back to the place where recognition is there.
     It is high time, 14 years after UNDRIP was introduced to the globe, that we recognize the same rights here. It is time that we work with first nations proactively to advance reconciliation rather than respond remedially to court decisions. It is time that we co-develop the future that we want to see in this country.
    As my time is running out, I will conclude with that.
    ?ul nu msh chalap.

  (1305)  

    Madam Speaker, I heard the member emphasize the importance of this being dealt with now, but I had the honour of supporting Romeo Saganash's bill in the 41st Parliament, which ended in 2015. In that election, the Prime Minister promised to pass and implement UNDRIP. We have not seen that happen. We are now a year and a half into the second Parliament with the prospect of this not getting through, as it did not the last time.
    Could the member tell us why it is taking so long? How can indigenous people, or any Canadians, take seriously the Liberal commitment to having this actually put in legislation with an action plan for implementation?

  (1310)  

    Madam Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, it is high time that we pass this. It is high time that we implement this in Canada. It has been over 14 years since the declaration was passed. There have been many strong efforts to finally move ahead with this in Canada.
    While this process takes place, important progress has been made on implementing some of the principles, but we need to have this as a framework and an action plan so that we reform all types of legislation across the country.
    I would certainly agree with the member that it is high time that we pass this. I certainly hope that my colleagues across the House will agree with me as well.
    Madam Speaker, could the member provide further comment on the issue of reconciliation and how important that has been for the government over the last number of years? As the member pointed out, Bill C-15 is another piece of legislation that responds to the calls for action, and to a deep desire that I and many MPs have to see UNDRIP take effect. How important is it toward reconciliation from his perspective?
    Madam Speaker, moving forward with reconciliation is incredibly important for our country.
    The Prime Minister has said that our relationship with indigenous peoples is the most important relationship we have. There are significant challenges we have in moving forward with this. This is a long process: It is one that is going to require trust-building to make sure we are able to make the progress that we need to. It is also one of the biggest opportunities that we have in this country with respect to economic development.
    We see lots of great progress already. There have been major changes in the way that the Government of Canada approaches negotiations to treaties in British Columbia, which I think is really important progress. We certainly have a long way to go. We have a lot we can learn from the province of B.C., for instance, on how it has been able to move forward in the same respect.
    Madam Speaker, we have heard about how quickly we need to pass this piece of legislation, and I understand that perfection in a perfect world is not necessarily what we can aim for.
    Significant amendments must be made to this bill. I would like to hear the member's comments on that, specifically about the lack of true intent around including the word “racism.” It is not there. We see instead “systemic discrimination”, and a measure to address injustices. Why does a hesitancy to address racism exist? Could the member comment on that?
    Madam Speaker, systemic racism exists in our country. I mentioned a few examples, going back over 100 years, of how that has been present.
    We just have to look at the lack of access to clean drinking water in way too many areas across our country, and the third world conditions that many first nations live in at this point.
    I certainly agree that this is here and we need to make sure we are addressing that through any means possible.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Calgary Centre.
    I am honoured today to speak to Bill C-15, as the relationship with indigenous people in this country is a lived experience for me growing up and living in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. I must admit there is some trepidation on my part as we embark on this journey. The impacts of this bill would be both long-term and far-reaching, requiring more than the seeking of short-term political gains and talking points. The historical relationship between the federal government and indigenous people in this country is filled with distrust that has put in jeopardy the true potential our great country has to offer all of us.
    A couple of months ago, in the announcement that the government would not fulfill its promise to end boil water advisories in first nations communities, it was pointed out that the scope of the problem was not fully understood at the time the election promise was made by the Prime Minister in 2015. This is another reminder to all of us that making promises one cannot keep is not an ideal way to develop trust in a relationship that badly needs more of it.
     In a Globe and Mail article published recently, it was pointed out that Public Services and Procurement Canada for the past three years “has said a key indicator of the government's economic and social-policy goals was an increase in the participation of [indigenous-led business] in procurement.” Unfortunately, it was revealed in the departmental plans in the last three years that the targets have remained as TBD, to be determined. That is three years that we have seen no change in the ministry's plans to set targets or measure results.
    Even worse, to this day, there is not even a mechanism in place to track which bids are coming from indigenous businesses. If the government's goal really was to increase procurement for indigenous businesses, one would think that, at the very least, creating an instrument in its data management system could have been developed in three years. At best, this is an astounding lack of competence.
    Further evidence of lowering the bar was in the minister's 2021 mandate letter, where there was not even a mention of the 5% indigenous procurement promise that had been made to indigenous businesses in the past. Instead of doing the hard work and fixing the department's failures, they just removed the targets. It is not exactly an example that one would find in a leadership manual.
    These examples illustrate a troubling trend with the government's actions when it comes to delivering results for indigenous people and their communities. It starts with making election promises and getting photographs at press conferences, and it continues by using phrases in ministerial letters, on websites and in announcements like “strongly encourages” and “the most important relationship to this government”. It then ends with walking back the original promise, changing the targets or, in the case of the procurement example, eliminating them altogether. The government tends to act only when it has its back to the wall, after spending too much time walking backwards while making little progress on its promises. We see this again today in the fact that it has to invoke closure on a bill that has seen one hour of debate in this House.
    This brings me to Bill C-15. After Bill C-262, the government had ample opportunity and time to develop a national action plan that could have created the certainty and clarity that stakeholders have been consistently asking for. Putting together an action plan before tabling the bill would have allowed for many of the concerns of people across the spectrum to be addressed. The worry that government is putting the cart before the horse is justified, as history has proven that to be the case all too often. Why would we not ensure, on such an important piece of legislation, that we remove as many rocks off the road as possible before we proceed? That approach would alleviate a lot of the judicial quagmire that is sure to follow the passing of Bill C-15 without this transparent road map.
    With no certainty, the very real worry is that there will be many court battles over the next few decades because of political short-sightedness. As we have seen this past year with the Nova Scotia lobster fishery issue, that is a path not worth taking. In this relationship, we cannot afford more failures. We have to be honest: Governments have a terrible track record on delivering expectations for indigenous people.
    Let me use some numbers that the Indigenous Resource Network shared recently, to show who has not fallen short in delivering for indigenous people and communities in this country.

  (1315)  

    The private sector has led the way in spending on indigenous businesses. Suncor has spent over $6 billion on indigenous procurement since 1999, including $800 million, or 8% of its total spending, in 2019 alone. Sunova has spent $2.9 billion since 2009, including $139 million in 2019. Imperial has invested $2.6 billion in indigenous businesses since 2009.
    Diamond mines in the Northwest Territories spent $5.9 billion on indigenous spending between 1996 and 2017. Agnico Eagle in Nunavut spent $408 million on Inuit businesses in 2019 alone. Teck Resources spent $225 million on indigenous procurement in 2019. Coastal GasLink has spent $720 million on indigenous and local contracts. TMX, when it is completed, will have generated over $1 billion on indigenous-based contracts. Finally, from its own published data, Cameco, a uranium company, has procured $3.85 billion since 2004 from local suppliers in my riding in northern Saskatchewan.
    These numbers represent more than just dollars. They represent real outcomes and direct impacts on the daily lives of indigenous people. They allow for investments into communities that have far too long been left out of the opportunities the rest of Canada has enjoyed.
    It is often implied that any discussion around economic opportunity and job creation for indigenous people is somehow insensitive to the social issues they face. I believe the opposite is actually true. Advocating for jobs, own-source revenue streams, equity ownership and financial independence is in fact the pathway to self-determination and the solution to many of the social challenges.
    The culture of poverty has for too long defined the culture of the people. A culture with such rich history deserves so much better. The private sector has done the heavy lifting in the building of trust with indigenous people and their communities, and it has been doing it for years. It should be recognized and applauded for the advancement of reconciliation and the role it has played in it. Part of that recognition should be reflected in its voice being heard in the areas of this bill it is simply seeking clarity on.
    Since Bill C-15 was tabled, I have had the opportunity and pleasure to meet virtually with many indigenous stakeholders. The common theme in our discussions always came back to the lack of certainty in Bill C-15's plan to implement UNDRIP. That is why it is so important that this bill clarify the following issues.
    Number one, in the three years the government has given itself to develop an action plan on the implementation of the declaration, what is the approach going to be to collaborating and consulting with indigenous communities, the indigenous business community and the numerous regional and national organizations across Canada so all their views will be considered?
    Number two, how will the application of the declaration be applied when there is conflicting support and opposition from the indigenous communities on projects that are both large and vertical in scope? Does the federal government retain the final authority in the decision-making process?
    Number three, will not allowing time and space for indigenous communities to find an answer to the question of who has the authority to provide or withhold consent undermine the process? With the current lack of consensus, what does this mean in the years ahead?
    Bringing clarity on these issues is the right thing to do. There is a responsibility in the consideration of Bill C-15 that requires us to not only listen to the concerns around the lack of certainty, but to respond by advocating for indigenous people, communities and leaders who are asking for answers to the important questions they are bringing forward.
    We have a long way to go in building the lost trust in the relationship with indigenous people in this country. Divisions within Parliament have often led to legislation that is based more on politics than on real solutions. That is why it is obvious that seeking clarity and certainty on Bill C-15 is not only a fair and valid request, but it is the very essence of what the aspirations of UNDRIP require us to do.

  (1320)  

    Madam Speaker, it is important that we be really clear. The Conservative members say what they will during the debate, but their actual intentions would be not to allow the legislation to ultimately come to a vote. We have seen that on other types of legislation. Even though they might talk nice in regard to reconciliation and so forth, their actions on this particular piece of legislation, as it was with Bill C-262, say more than their words do.
    I am wondering if the member could provide a very clear indication as to why the Conservatives would not have recognized the value of allowing this to come to a vote so at the very least it could go to committee.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, let us just be clear in the question the member is asking. This legislation is already at committee; it has been at committee for weeks already, as we were required to do a prestudy of this legislation at the INAN committee. Maybe we should actually let some facts do the talking.
    As I said in my comments, I have had the opportunity to speak to many indigenous stakeholders, and what I have heard and what I understand is that many of them have not had the opportunity to have their input into this legislation. They have asked to come to committee; they have sent letters asking to be at committee, but the member's government limited the amount of time and the number of meetings where we could listen to the evidence at committee, so for him to talk about the Conservatives obstructing the process is literally quite a folly. It is actually the Liberals who have obstructed the process for us to hear from the voices at committee.
    Madam Speaker, I represent a very large natural resources region, and we know that no projects get off the ground without indigenous consent. It is now a fundamental principle.
    The issue of consent is important, because it is not just about saying “yes”; it is also about the ability to say “no” when a project has fundamental problems that threaten the environment of traditional territory. I know, from the days when I was working with the Algonquin nation in Quebec, that we actually had to have blockades to get anyone to come to the table. We are talking about a fundamental principle, a principle that has been defined in court case after court case, a principle that the issue of consent is fundamental when we are talking about resource development in Canada.
    I would encourage the Conservatives to recognize that if they are willing to work with first nations communities, we are going to move a lot further ahead, but we have seen obstructions against UNDRIP year in, year out. UNDRIP needs to pass before we can move together as a nation.
    Madam Speaker, in all fairness, I could not agree more with the member. As I said in my comments, not allowing time and space for the indigenous communities to find an answer to the question of who has the authority to provide or withhold consent undermines the process.
    What I have heard from the stakeholders, many of them indigenous organizations representing opportunity for indigenous people whose mandate is to end poverty in first nations, is their concern about the uncertainty and the lack of clarity on this particular piece of legislation and how it may hinder their opportunity to fulfill their mandate of serving their people in first nations across this country.
    Madam Speaker, I want to ask quickly about some of the words we use. Language is so important, and “reconciliation” has been said time and time again in the House. I have heard from many people who feel that this word is actually losing some of its meaning. In fact, if we think of reconciliation, it means to reconcile, to improve what was perhaps once a good relationship, which we know was not the case.
    Could the member speak about reparations and what we could actually be doing in Canada to ensure that we repair a broken relationship?
    Madam Speaker, I would simply point out to the member opposite that the slogan of my campaign and in my riding has been “Building Authentic Relationships” with the people I serve, in a riding that is 70% indigenous people. I believe that authenticity, being real, having good conversation and listening to the concerns of the people is the answer to repairing the relationship. We have to get out there. We have to be part of their lives. We have to listen to their concerns. We have to consider them valid. It is about building relationships that are real and authentic.
    Madam Speaker, I represent a riding that is in Treaty 7 territory, the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Nation, including Siksika, Piikani and Kainai, theTsuut’ina nations; and Stoney Nakoda First Nation. We acknowledge all the many first nations, Métis and Inuit, whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries.
    Let me start today's debate on Bill C-15, introduced to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, with the questions I am often asked about its clarifications.
    How is United Nations involved? How do its edicts fit in Canadian law, which of course is much more robust? How do the United Nations edicts affect jurisdictions that have an established rule of law? How does UNDRIP consider and affect unique institutional rights, like section 35 of the Canadian Constitution? How do the two go hand in hand? As this is legislation, will it remain subservient to the constitutional law of Canada that supersedes it? What happens to existing Canadian laws? How are decades of legal precedent affected by this declaration?
     Who will be the decision-makers? That is, the arbiters to balance the various interests and outcomes of these very pertinent questions. Will it be the same stagnant bureaucrats and interest groups that have ensconced the Indian Act as the status quo, in spite of decades of compulsion from all affected corners of Canada to move beyond this paternalistic legislation? Will it be a star chamber of legalists who have never set foot on the ground or experienced the problems that generations of first nations have been striving to overcome?
    One thing is clear: Based on outcomes that have not arrived, the status quo is broken. How do we know it is broken? Let me count the ways. The words that describe the rights of Canada's indigenous people are a meaningful gesture, but gestures themselves are empty. There is no reconciliation that does not include economic reconciliation. Any legislation that we consider must not contribute to any negative impacts on the many indigenous communities that rely on resource development for jobs, revenues and a means to better outcomes. The decision-makers, bureaucrats, legalists, self-serving interest groups, those with a stake in maintaining the miserable status quo, should not be ensconced as roadblocks to the change that Canada requires.
    It is also worth noting that those with a large stake in the benefits of the status quo have no stake in the misery associated with the status quo, which is borne by those who have been actually seeking to escape that misery for decades. Wholesale change is long overdue, and bringing forth legislation to secure the interests of these regressive middlemen is the opposite of what Canada and its indigenous population require.
    Let me caution the Minister of Justice about placing his faith in the same interest groups and intervenors who have been part of the problem on this matter for decades. If the minister wants to get on the ground and hear about the frustrations with those voices by indigenous Canadians throughout Canada who will be affected by this legislation and the uncertainty it brings forth, please take the time to meet with those groups and have fulsome consultation, which has not happened, including in this House where we have had one hour of debate on it prior to today.
    Weeks ago, I asked questions in this House about the effects of the government's actions on the flight of capital for project development in Canada. Oddly, it was after one of the government's appointees blamed risk and uncertainty as the underlying reasons that projects were no longer being viewed as viable investments by foreign capital in Canada. Of course, rather than addressing the causes of the risk and uncertainty and changing the destructive course on which the current government has ventured for six years, the solution seems to be for the government to allocate capital to replace private investment: the magic of social finance to the rescue.
    We know what this means. It means more risk and uncertainty for Canada's taxpayers. What are others are recognizing as a problem is going to be a problem for Canadian taxpayers, and the government is doubling down on the risk Canadians will bear. In regard to UNDRIP, this legislation, as written, adds another level of risk and uncertainty to development in indigenous territories.
     Prior to this country's battle to get ahead of a pandemic 13 months ago, the biggest issue we were facing, as a country and as a cohesive society, were the blockades that were initiated by certain indigenous organizations in support of some parties opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, traversing Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia. Do we know who these initiators were? Do we know what standing they had: traditional, authoritative, representative, legal, responsible?

  (1330)  

    Do we know if these parties had other interests in the outcome? We know the democratic process for the band matters was completely usurped and endorsed by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, thus by the current government. Therefore, a well-understood process, which had changed substantially, was quickly usurped. Do I need to define “risk” and “uncertainty” for the current government? What does the government see as having legitimacy in the eyes of project proponents? It is definitely not the process as represented. As proponents have attested, if they do not have process, they do not have a path forward.
    This bill, Bill C-15, proposes to increase that risk and uncertainty for indigenous organizations and adds another barrier to the participation in economic reconciliation. Even as project proponents themselves attracted real capital for the development of their own economic opportunities, they will be thwarted again by the government. I thank them for the words, but how about some real action? Let me illustrate the costs of that uncertainty.
    Kitimat LNG is a project on Canada's west coast. The project has been progressing for a decade, along with its partner development the Pacific Trails pipeline. The project proponents have spent over $3 billion to get to this point, which represents a raft of documentation for the regulators, a gravel pad, full agreement from all 16 indigenous organizations traversed by the pipeline and full partnership with the Haisla First Nation at the project site. Thousands of indigenous jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars of benefits to people in indigenous communities, advanced trade training for a generation of people in those communities and the creation of capacity for advancing economic interests do not arrive out of thin air. In addition, more than 40 million tonnes per annum of greenhouse gas reductions will not be met. Sadly, at the end of the day, this project is on hold because there is no path forward at this point in time. Putting aside the ancillary environmental benefits, another file on which the current government is all talk with little tangible results, economic reconciliation delayed is reconciliation denied. Members should tell their children after 10 years that the reason they could not get a better education and advance their own, their society's and the world's interests is because the process was obscure and caused a decade of delays. Then members will understand the frustration.
    The interests advancing this confusion have no stake in the outcome. Let us acknowledge that some of those interests, such as the NGOs that are short-term participants, often funded by foreign actors, have their own interests at heart and are often funded as well by the federal government.
    Words and actions: we hear much of the former from the government and receive little of the latter. How many indigenous organizations have to stand up and say to the Minister of Justice they do not think the law will work and are worried that it adds further to the difficulties they have already experienced before he pays attention, before he gathers consensus, before he shuts down debate in the House of Commons on a fundamental piece of legislation that will change our country's governance going forward, including with those groups we are constitutionally bound to consider under section 35 of the Constitution of Canada?
     We have seen this minister in action with Bill C-7 on medical assistance in dying. Let me remind members that we moved this bill through this House and, on this side of the House, many of my colleagues supported the government's legislation before it went to the Senate. The minister manipulated that legislation in the other place and brought it back here in an entirely different form that ignored the at-risk groups that were left behind in the legislation. As a result, as that represented manipulation, we voted against the process. It was not democratic.
    Does the minister believe that first nations organizations have not recognized his actions? Does he think they are unnecessarily wary of his non-democratic tendencies and partiality to other interested parties? I will repeat that there are many who are moving this legislation forward who have no stake in the outcome. That spells moral hazard and we must divert it.
    Real outcomes, accountability and trust are in short supply with the current government. We must do better.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the member across and I appreciated him talking about uncertainty with respect to these protests and blockades. I want to ask him about a blockade that occurred in my riding. It was a famous blockade that occurred in Ontario in central Canada that lasted for three weeks and it impacted many billions of dollars worth of commerce.
    I spoke to the local chief of that nation in my riding and we were trying to think of a way to end this blockade. He told me that many protesting would not heed his calls to remove the blockade because they did not respect his title of “chief” under the Indian Act. These individuals claimed that they themselves held hereditary rights to the chief role.
    Does the member believe that Bill C-15 would make this type of scenario more likely to occur in the future?

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, that is a very important question because I have met with indigenous organizations in my riding and across Canada. One of the exact issues that they brought forward is who has standing to say that “you need my consent in order to move this forward”. Does that consent now come at the high school level when every person has to step forward or does it come with an actual legitimacy? We have experienced that across the country. It has been brought to our attention that this is a fundamental that has to change. We have to recognize who actually has the authority to give that consent or withhold that consent at the end of the day. That is not clear at all in the bill.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, self-determination means being in a position to accept or reject a project. It also means knowing who has the authority to do so.
    Unfortunately, the Indian Act is fundamentally racist, given its concepts and archaic nature. Bill C-15 is about reconciliation.
    Does my colleague believe that to achieve total and clear reconciliation, the Indian Act must also be changed?
    Madam Speaker, I agree with my colleague.
    I am certainly proud to talk about the existing constraints of the Indian Act. That has to change now. Maybe they should cease to exist. I hope we will see that in the next Parliament.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague is somebody from my neck of the woods and someone I consider a friend. I miss being able to talk with him in the lobby and share our different perspectives.
    I want to talk about a specific Alberta issue. In Alberta at the moment he will know there is a lot of debate around coal mining and about mountain top coal mining. I have worked quite closely with indigenous groups in southern Alberta to help them protect their rights, to work with them to ensure their rights are protected. They brought forward a petition that had 18,000 signatures calling on the government to protect treaty aboriginal rights, water rights, species at risk rights and the environment.
     I am wondering why the member feels that implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples would not provide more clarity, more certainty for investment decisions, not less. By involving indigenous people in the beginning of the project, it seems that would make it an even stronger proposition.
    Madam Speaker, the coal development they are looking at that has been petitioned in southern Alberta has been in the process for over a year. I think it started in 2013, so it has transcended different provincial governments and indeed different federal governments and has a multi-party, multi-level of government environmental assessment review going on at this point in time.
    It is important to make sure that we bring everybody in at the front of the line, but have a process involved that actually says, here is where we get input from all of the different actors or interests that are involved in any type of natural resource project development, especially coal mines.
    I understand the provincial government is looking at that very clearly and potentially reverting to a policy that has been in the works that existed back in the time of Premier Lougheed. It is a very good piece of legislation that made sure we protected those interests and the nature that we need to uphold, especially in the Rocky Mountain eastern slopes.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill C-15.
    I am pleased to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples bill that is before the House of Commons today. I am speaking today from my riding of Labrador on the traditional territory of the Inuit and Ainu people of our great land. We have one of the most beautiful, prosperous areas in the subarctic of Canada. We are very proud Canadians.
    I think we can all agree that today's discussion on Bill C-15 is part of a broader discussion. It is one that stems from generations of discussions that have been led by indigenous people, by many tremendous, strong indigenous leaders who have lent their voices, expertise, skills and knowledge to build to the point we are at today, seeing this bill before the House of Commons.
    While our discussion is a broader one, it is important to highlight that it is also about national reconciliation. One of the broader perspectives that we have been dealing with as a country in recent years is one that we should have, could have but did not deal with in many generations past. It is about the recognition and the rights of implementation of first nations, Inuit and Métis people. It is the rebuilding of strong and healthy relationships based on respect, co-operation and partnership.
    We all know that Canada as a country has a constitutional and legal framework that embodies many of the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In particular, section 35 of the Canadian Constitution recognizes and affirms aboriginal and treaty rights. Section 35 is the core pillar of the Canadian legal and constitutional framework for the renewal of that relationship between the Crown, which is Canada, and indigenous people.
    Implementing the declaration in the context of the Constitution and of the legal framework will contribute to enhancing indigenous participation in the Canadian economy and advancing reconciliation toward renewed relationships.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I hate to interrupt the member, but I believe she forgot to indicate that she is splitting her time with the member for Beaches—East York.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the my colleague for being so diligent in his responsibilities. I am sharing my time with my colleague from Beaches—East York.
    I want to emphasize that we are enshrining this in legislation. It is an opportunity for renewed relationships in our country. The declaration itself, despite the naysayers out there, will help all of us chart a clear and more predictable path forward for the future.
     Some people have questions, and we are hearing a lot of them today. There are some fears associated with clauses of the bill that speak to free, prior and informed consent and how this would be interpreted in the Canadian context, including the relationship to land, natural resources development, other developments and how it affects indigenous people.
    Free, prior and informed consent is one of the key elements, one that we have probably heard more about than any other within the declaration. As one of my colleagues said a short time ago, it is grounded in self-determination. That is the piece we cannot forget. It is really about respectful two-way dialogue and the meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in decisions that affect them, their communities, their territories and the future generations of their people.
     Implementation of the declaration can really help contribute to sustainable development and resource development and it affirms the range of indigenous rights and related protections that are relevant when it comes to natural resources, lands, territories and resources.
    As I said earlier, I grew up in Labrador, where I speak from today, where we still have unsettled land claims with the federal government. I am part of the southern Labrador Inuit and the NunatuKavut Community Council, whose rights have, to date, not been affirmed by the Government of Canada in land claims and settlements. That is not good enough, in my mind. The colonial system under which we and many indigenous peoples have operated has prejudiced them in access to their own lands and having the opportunity to have a final say, a real say, in what happens.
    In my riding today, Nunatsiavut is a territory with settled land claims. It got to settle those land claims because nickel was discovered in Voisey's Bay and because a large corporation had a resource deposit. That became the catalyst to settle land claims with the northern Inuit people of Labrador. If that had not materialized, they would probably still be at the table today fighting for what is their inherent right: to have full declaration in what happens within their lands and territory.
    The land claims agreement with Nunatsiavut Inuit in northern Labrador is one of the most historic claims in Canada next to the one with the Cree. It is a landmark agreement. It is really what UNDRIP is speaking to today with the inclusion of the Inuit people in ensuring they have free, prior and informed consent. That mining operation went forward. It employs nearly 90% indigenous people. It is contributing to a community, but it was done through co-operation, through dialogue, through a two-way agreement on how to move forward.
    When I attended my first United Nations permanent forum on indigenous rights with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations back in 2016, she stood at the United Nations that day and affirmed Canada's support for UNDRIP for the first time in our history. It was a very proud moment for me to know that Canada could see this through the eyes of indigenous people and the rest of the world with respect to its importance and what needed to happen with regard to UNDRIP. Bringing it to where it is today has been, in my opinion, an absolute win for Canada and indigenous people. A lot of work still needs to be done, but as an indigenous person, there is nothing to fear here.

  (1350)  

    Our great country was built on consensus and co-operation. We are reaffirming and including indigenous people in the opportunity to have real say and opportunity within their own lands. Who would ever want to deny that or deny the indigenous rights and reconciliation within Canada?
    I really believe getting to where we are today has not only involved indigenous participation and engagement, but also the natural resource sectors, corporations and people who have a vested interest in lands and indigenous lands across Canada. They know sustainable development comes with co-operation. It comes with working together and having a partnership with indigenous communities.
    It means we build capacity, look at real benefit agreements, joint management and profit-sharing operations. That is where we are with companies like Vale today, which has been successful in Inuit lands and many others. There are models out there that have worked, but they worked because they were forced to the table, not because there was willing participation, in many cases. That is what is going to change here.
     While industry leaders have invested time and energy into fostering many long-term relationships and building trust with indigenous groups, building an agreement that speaks to free, prior and informed consent, this bill asks for that and it would do that. There are many examples of that have already happened in Canada.
    We have done outreach to many sectors, including the natural resources sector, of which I am a proud champion, including the mining industry. It is an industry that fits well for indigenous people, and we are the living proof of how that can work.
    When I look at what is happening today, we might hear of the tremendous experiences and relationships that have been built between industry and indigenous people across many of these natural resource sectors and how they worked together in good faith and made every—

  (1355)  

    Unfortunately, the hon. member's time is up. She will be able to continue during questions and comments.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.
    Madam Speaker, the member for Labrador, in her role as a parliamentary secretary, has been involved in the indigenous affairs file for quite some time. When we look at Bill C-15, it would make the government commit to an action plan.
    When I speak to indigenous people in my riding of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, the thing that comes up in conversation all the time is the Indian Act. We cannot talk about discrimination in our country without talking about the Indian Act.
    With her experience on this file, could the member give the House some thoughts, and this is in the context of the Liberals having been in power now for five years, on what steps we take to get rid of the Indian Act? What are some of her thoughts on the process we need to start to fundamentally reform that colonial era legislation?
    Madam Speaker, in all honesty, I would like to see us get rid of the Indian Act overnight, but I also know, in my role and in the knowledge I gained in this department, that it is not that simple. It is an evolving process. It is a process that will require many legislative changes going forward, but it also has to be replaced. It has to be replaced with something that is not racist, is not discriminatory and that really speaks to opportunity for indigenous people.
    That is where we are today, and it is not the government's decision to do this arbitrarily. It has to be done in partnership with indigenous people and with Canadians. That is the stage we are at right now.
    Madam Speaker, I have a question with respect to free, prior and informed consent and also resource development. We know that in some cases on these large projects there may be the majority of indigenous communities, maybe even a super-majority of indigenous communities, that approve of a project but there may be a small group that does not.
    In the creation of the bill, an amendment was put forward that explicitly clarified that free, prior and informed consent would not be considered an absolute veto. I wonder if the member thinks that free, prior and informed consent would give an absolute veto to any group even if a majority of other groups, for example, approved of a project.
    Madam Speaker, this legislation is really there to guide a collaborative path forward. We cannot forget that. It is there to build a stronger relationship and provide greater predictability, as well as more certainty, over time. It encourages partnerships in the resources sector and includes industry and indigenous people working together.
    It does not create any new obligations. It does not create any new obstacles. It does create a path toward respect and respecting the rights of indigenous people in this country.
    To be honest, many corporations and most industry sectors are more than willing to walk that path because they understand it. They get it, and they know that it is not compromising their investments. In fact, it enhances what they are doing and ensures a fair and shared distribution of benefits to all people who are affected and involved.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

India

    Madam Speaker, on behalf of all Canadians, I would like to thank India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for providing two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses. A total of 500,000 doses are to be delivered, and the balance is expected in due course. This is what real friends do. During a crisis, they help each other.
    India has also supplied vaccine doses for some needy countries for free or at a subsidized cost. This is practising an ancient Vedic saying of the sages. In Sanskrit it is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means that the world is one big single family.
    India is also offering technology transfer for commercial production of vaccines in Canada. These actions reconfirm the respect and affection Canada and India have for each other.

  (1400)  

Volunteerism

    Madam Speaker, National Volunteer Week starts April 18, and this has been an incredible year in my riding of Barrie—Innisfil with people stepping up like never before to help.
    Today, I would like to recognize several individuals and groups in our communities of Barrie and Innisfil who have been there to help each other and our most vulnerable, or to simply bring joy and hope to our communities when we have needed it the most. They are the Barrie Food Bank; Mark and Patty Sachkiw; the Innisfil Food Bank; Innisfil's incredible Jennifer Richardson and her family; Barrie Families Unite Facebook group; Dawn Mucci; the Women and Children's Shelter of Barrie; Tom Hanrahan; Deb Harrison, VP of Christmas for Kids (all year round); Marshall Green; Fill a purse for a Sister; David Blenkarn; Sandy Berube; the Coldest Night of the Year in Barrie; Tracy Baker; Lexi Capirchio; Glenn Rogers; and Bev Kell.
    I will be virtually hosting my fifth annual Barrie—Innisfil volunteer awards soon to honour these and other terrific volunteers. On behalf of a grateful community and nation, I thank everyone who volunteers to make a difference in their communities and in people's lives.

[Translation]

Wage Subsidy

    Madam Speaker, thousands of businesses in Quebec have had a terrible time qualifying for federal assistance or never received any in the first place, yet all parties in the House except the Bloc Québécois pocketed cash from the wage subsidy.
    All parties but the Bloc diverted money meant for businesses and charities to protect their campaign coffers. The Liberals collected handouts, siphoning off taxpayers' dollars, while raising $15 million in donations in 2020. The Conservatives raised $22 million and the NDP $6 million, yet none of them had the decency to pay back a penny of the public money they pocketed.
    During the next campaign, every time we see one of their ads, we should remember that we unintentionally paid for part of it. Every time they talk about the sacrifices everyone made during the pandemic, we should remember that they made no sacrifices and even exploited the situation for partisan gain.
    Shame on them.

[English]

Riding of Davenport

    Madam Speaker, Toronto is one of the many parts of Canada deep in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I rise to recognize the unbelievable organizations in my riding of Davenport that have stepped up during all three waves to help our most vulnerable through this unprecedented time.
    The federal government created a $350-million emergency community support fund, and 32 organizations in Davenport were awarded a total of $1.3 million to address the urgent COVID-related needs of our community. These organizations included Horizons for Youth, Loyola Arrupe Centre for Seniors, Quantum Sports and Learning Association, Latinas en Toronto, George Chuvalo Neighbourhood Centre, Vietnamese Women’s Association of Toronto, and so many more have stepped up to provide a wide range of support.
    From remote services for seniors to warm meals for newcomers, these groups have been lifelines to countless residents. They are a beautiful illustration of how we step up to help each other during tough times, becoming stronger as a community. Together we will get through this pandemic.

[Translation]

New Horizons for Seniors Program

    Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the new horizons for seniors funding recently announced in my riding of Nickel Belt. In Greater Sudbury, nine projects to support the physical and mental well-being of seniors received funding.

[English]

    The nearly $300,000 has enabled dozens of organizations like the Coniston Community Garden, Skead Senior Citizens Club, Wanup Quilters, Rayside Balfour Senior Craft Shop, St. Gabriel Villa in Chelmsford and Killarney Lion's Den. These initiatives promote laughter, joy, knowledge and sharing, and these are essential to keeping residents engaged.
    Isolation remains a real challenge for seniors during this pandemic. I thank volunteers, caregivers and essential workers collaborating to prioritize the well-being of our aging population. Let us continue to reach out to our loved ones, friends, neighbours and others around us, and remind them that we are there for them.

  (1405)  

COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Madam Speaker, Canadians are struggling to cope with the rise of COVID-19 cases, increasing lockdowns and the effects of a struggling economy. Businesses are closed, workers are losing their jobs or having their hours cut, the mental health crisis has deepened and Canadian families are worried about their children. This is all because the government did not secure enough vaccines and did not secure them in time.
    We are far behind our neighbours to the south. Jake Tapper from CNN has brought this failure to the attention of our American cousins. The U.S. has already begun to vaccinate monkeys in U.S. zoos. I cannot make this stuff up. Meanwhile, here in Canada we have only vaccinated 2% of our population. The vaccination issue is such that the current government may go down in history as one of the biggest failures of any Canadian government during a crisis. Canadians and Canadian businesses are suffering because of it.
    The data and tools to effectively manage this pandemic already exist. It is time for the government to begin using them.

Volunteerism

    Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to honour the many volunteers across Canada and in my home of Labrador. Next week marks National Volunteer Week, and we know in this legislature that it is really the volunteers who keep the pillars of our community strong. That has been magnified more so than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is those who give relentlessly of their time, skills and energy who make life better for all Canadians. I could not be prouder than I am of the volunteers in my own riding.
    Today I thank those who work in their communities, churches, recreation centres and social groups, from all walks of our society, for their contributions. They have extended their hand in times of need, and they continue to build on the solid foundation that makes life enjoyable and better for others.
    I acknowledge all of those who give so freely and expect so little, yet contribute so much. They are our volunteers.

The Great Canadian Baking Show

    Madam Speaker, I am so happy today to be able to share the good news story of Raufikat Oyawoye-Salami, a Milton resident who was recently crowned the season four winner of The Great Canadian Baking Show. Raufikat wowed the judges with a combination of natural talent and incredible flavours, which were inspired by her time growing up in her mother's kitchen in their home of Nigeria.
    A proud mother of two, she loves baking for her family, and she sees it not only as a way to stay connected to her roots, but also as a way to share her Nigerian heritage with friends and neighbours. When she is not baking tasty treats, she works as an IT support engineer, a background which she says gives her the scientific precision that was crucial to her success. Having come to Milton in 2017, Raufikat was delighted to find herself in such a diverse community where she could connect with other Nigerian and Muslim diaspora while being able to share in the many cultures of our community. It was through sharing her baking with neighbours that Raufikat was able to share her culture.
    While unfortunately I have not been able to try one of her treats, I know Milton is proud to call her one of our own. We are very fortunate to have her, and we are excited to see what she does next. I congratulate Raufikat on winning The Great Canadian Baking Show.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic recovery and future prosperity are under threat.
    The government's failure to quickly secure and distribute COVID-19 vaccines has placed the health and safety of Canadians at greater risk while we fall further behind economically. The government's inability to prevent the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline or reverse the decision to suspend Enbridge's Line 5 threatens Canada's oil and gas industry and the nation's energy supply.
     On the government's watch we have seen the drastic reduction in foreign capital investment; the heavy losses of steel, aluminum and auto jobs; and the punishing trade barriers and tariffs placed on Canada by both China and the U.S. The Prime Minister refuses to admit that Canada's situation is dire and that his government is responsible.
    Canadians fear that tomorrow will be worse than today and our children's future will be worse than our own. Canada's only path to securing the future is with a Conservative government.

[Translation]

Education Professionals

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize the work and dedication of front-line workers, especially teachers, specialized educators and education professionals during this extremely difficult pandemic period.
    Every day, I witness the hard work of a dedicated teacher of young people with autism who are eager to learn and who must navigate an intermittent world between the face-to-face and the virtual. I am talking about my wife Mélanie who, since the beginning of the pandemic, has worked even harder to ensure that these children get the best possible education under the circumstances. She can count on a top-notch team with Natacha and Didier, without whom the goals could not be achieved. This means many extra hours of preparation, communication and planning for these education professionals.
    On behalf of all these children with special needs, I thank the parents and education staff who are supporting them on their educational journey during this difficult time.

  (1410)  

Sexual Misconduct

    Mr. Speaker, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, the Liberals adopted a motion Monday at the Standing Committee on National Defence to end its investigation into sexual misconduct in the highest ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces.
    What is behind this alliance between the Prime Minister and the Bloc Québécois leader, to the point that they want to shut down important testimony that will shed light on the matter?
    The House will recall the moving case of former CAF member Stéphanie Raymond, who had to fight for 10 years to get justice for the crime committed against her.
    At a time when women need to be protected more than ever, we do not understand why the Bloc Québécois would be complicit in a conspiracy of silence that prevents Parliament from acting to protect the safety and integrity of Canadian women.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, we have seen in a recent survey by MNP Ltd. that 53% of Canadians have said that they are $200 or less from not meeting their monthly bills or debt obligations. Meanwhile, the Liberal government is increasing costs on Canadians: a carbon tax; a second carbon tax; alcohol escalator taxes; increased business taxes; elimination of family tax credits, and the list goes on. With $170 carbon tax, I hope the Prime Minister knows that he will force those 53% of Canadians to choose between heat and feeding their family.
     The government claims that it wants to get Canadians back to work, but has proposed a tax that is projected to kill over 200,000 jobs across Canada. The Liberals' tax increases disproportionately impact lower and middle-income households, single mothers, pensioners and immigrants.
    If the Prime Minister cares so much about middle-class prosperity, why is he trying so hard to push Canadians into poverty?

Fire Keeper Patrol

    Mr. Speaker, the fight against opioids, fentanyl and homelessness has been a grim experience for people in the north, and every day we are losing people to overdoses. However, I want to speak of an incredible initiative that is bringing hope and saving lives.
    The Fire Keeper Patrol is a mobile team working 24/7 on the streets of Timmins to help the indigenous homeless who all too often fall through the cracks. The fire keepers are acting on an initiative of the Mushkegowuk Council, working in partnership with the City of Timmins, Living Space, DSSAB and the front-line workers who have been keeping people alive through this crisis.
     I was approached by the fire keepers about making their dream a reality, so my office got down to work. We got them the funding so we could get the resources deployed on the streets of Timmins.
    We have a long way to go in dealing with the nightmare of opioid addiction and homelessness. We need more treatment facilities. We need the feds to actually put in place a national housing strategy.
     However I want to thank the members of the fire keepers because their work will keep people alive and they will keep the citizens of Timmins safe. That is really important at this time.

[Translation]

Michel Louvain

    Mr. Speaker, Quebec is mourning the death of a Quebec music legend.
    Michel Louvain charmed several generations with his warm voice and love for his audiences. His songs named for women made Sylvie, Lison, Louise and Marie popular names in Quebec. There was also La dame en bleu, whose great success was the subject of a documentary.
    Quebeckers have had a love affair with our crooner for more than 60 years. He was awarded many prizes and received national recognition, which culminated with the opus Ils chantent Louvain when his artist friends and the Orchestre symphonique de Québec interpreted his biggest hits.
    In 2014, he was awarded the Félix Hommage by the Association québécoise de l'industrie du disque. He was going to go on stage in the fall of 2021 at the age of 84. His friends speak warmly about him, remembering his professionalism, class, generosity and his legendary zest for life. It was said that he had stars in his eyes.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois and all of Quebec, I offer my condolences to his wife, sisters and family.

  (1415)  

Michel Louvain

    Mr. Speaker, today Quebec and Thetford Mines are mourning the loss of a larger-than-life legendary performer, who was nonetheless down to earth.
     The humble Poulin became the great Louvain. He made thousands of women swoon and dance and sing. Many men would sing his songs under their breath. We have all said, “Buenas noches mi amor”. We have all sung, “La dame en bleu”. Michel Louvain earned many titles, won countless awards and received the most prestigious honours.
    Nothing made him happier than the applause from his audience. His greatest fear was that his audience would no longer like him. He took care of his fans. He was always elegant, respectful, and meticulously dressed. On stage he wanted to please his audience above all else. He was planning another tour. At 83, he still had a lot of energy to share.
    I will close with these words by Michel Louvain: “I miss the stage, the audience, my musicians, my backup singer, and my technician. I miss my people. They are my world.” We will miss you, Michel.
    To his spouse, his sisters, his admirers and his fans, I offer my deepest condolences.
    Buenas noches, Mr. Louvain.

[English]

Elmira Maple Syrup Festival

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House and recognize the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, the world's largest maple syrup festival.
     The festival is a local tradition, dating back to 1965. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of guests from all around the world have visited Elmira to celebrate.¸
     This past weekend, we celebrated the 56th annual and first virtual festival, featuring an online sugarbush tour, virtual taffy demonstrations, contests and sales of pancake boxes featuring local syrup Producer of the Year, Hoover's Maple Syrup.
    The food, the entertainment and the sense of community that the festival builds is due to the tremendous dedication of the many volunteers who make this annual event possible. Since the inception, over $1.7 million in proceeds have been returned to our community to charitable and not-for-profit organizations.
    I congratulate the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival volunteers for their milestone anniversary, their resilience and their success.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.
    After over 23,000 deaths, tens of thousands of businesses closed, people's jobs and livelihoods lost; after drug overdoses, suicide and mental health crises at an all-time high; people being locked in their homes, away from their families; and a third wave of COVID upon us, could she explain why she thinks the pain and suffering that COVID has caused is a political opportunity, as she said last week, and not an absolute tragedy?
    Mr. Speaker, with great respect, all members of the House, regardless of party, appreciate the nature of the immense tragedy that has fallen across Canada and impacted families and communities from coast to coast to coast.
    When we look forward to what may come out of this pandemic, we have the opportunity to make investments to cure some of the social deficits that we have been living with for generations. From the very outset of this pandemic, we made a decision to support households and businesses and to invest, most important, to protect the health and well-being of Canadians.
    We will continue to do so until this pandemic is over, no matter what it takes.
    Mr. Speaker, that was a really ridiculous thing for the Parliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister to say. The fact is that the Liberals have messed up so many things in their response to COVID, but they will not admit, they will not learn from it and they will not change it.
    Today, we have learned that Moderna vaccines scheduled to arrive mid-April are being delayed yet again, which means provinces are forced to close vaccination clinics and people are not getting their shots. That means higher case counts and more lockdowns.
    Responsibility for the third wave is the Prime Minister's. How many more Canadians will be infected with COVID because of the government's disastrous vaccine rollout?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, every step of the way, we have been there for Canadians. We have been there for provinces and territories in delivering on the things that we know are saving lives.
    This is a difficult time for the country. It is a difficult time for all Canadians. It is a difficult time for the health care workers, the lab workers, the front-line workers and the essential workers, who are all trying so hard to support each other and care for each other.
    We will be there for Canadians, whether it is with personal protective equipment, testing equipment, human resources and, indeed, vaccines.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's failed vaccine rollout and spin is actually making international headlines.
    This morning's cover of the Daily Mail asked if our Prime Minister was jealous of Britain's vaccine delivery. It pointed out that Canada had four times as many new cases per day as the U.K. Prime Minister Johnson said that he did not have a response to our Prime Minister's comments, but that the British case data spoke for itself, because their vaccine rollout is months ahead of ours.
    Could the Prime Minister admit that he is not only failing Canadians, but he is making an international fool of himself?
    Mr. Speaker, it is really important that all of us work together now to save lives. It is important that we see cohesion in our messaging. I surely hope that the member opposite is not working in any way to discourage Canadians from taking vaccination when it is their turn.
    Let us be clear that every step of the way, we have given Canadians the information they need. We have supported Canadians with financial measures. We have been there for provinces and territories to deliver on their health care responsibilities.
    Surely the member opposite would encourage the people in her riding to accept vaccination when it is their turn.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the Liberal government, with the help of the Bloc Québécois, decided to shut down the parliamentary investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct against General Vance. Ultimately, no one took responsibility and no one apologized. We will not be able to get to the bottom of this matter, which is shameful, yes, but more importantly, it is an insult to the women who had the courage and dignity of speaking out during a difficult time.
    Why are the Bloc and the Liberal Party refusing to get to the bottom of this matter?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will always respect the work done by colleagues at committee. In fact, I worked with the national defence committee on this matter quite extensively. I appeared before the committee three times, and for more than six hours.
    I have repeatedly stated at each of these appearances and many times in the House of Commons that our government, and me personally, will not stand for any type of sexual misconduct and that we will be taking more action.
    I look forward to the committee's report on this matter and the substantive recommendations that will be coming.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, of course the Minister of National Defence testified. There were other people it would have been worth hearing from. Unfortunately, the Liberals, with the help of the Bloc Québécois, stopped us from getting to the bottom of this matter.
    We know that the government has some serious ethics problems. It is no coincidence that the Ethics Commissioner found the Prime Minister guilty on two occasions, and there is a third report coming out soon about the issue of sexual misconduct among the highest-ranking military officers. The Liberals and the Bloc Québécois identify as feminist, but they are shutting down an investigation involving these women.
    What message does this send to the women in our military who have been the victims of harassment?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the work the committee does, and the experts they were talking to, can be extremely important. This is why I value their opinions. We need to figure out exactly what needs to be done. All options are currently on the table. I look forward to those recommendations, because we agree with all members of the House that more needs to be done, and more will be done.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, it is a second hellish year for farmers when it comes to quarantines for temporary foreign workers. It was already hard enough for them to shoulder the entire burden of the quarantines, but now the problems with the new border measures are making things even worse.
    From a public health perspective, the federal government has an obligation to ensure that the quarantines are respected, but it also has an obligation to ensure that tests are accessible and the results arrive quickly. Right now, workers are spending over 25 days in quarantine before they can get out in the fields. This is an administrative foul up. The crops will not wait while Ottawa gets things sorted out.
    What is the minister going to do?
    Mr. Speaker, we have worked with other federal departments to expedite the process and simplify the arrival of foreign workers as much as possible. We know that there have been delays in receiving test results. The Public Health Agency of Canada and Service Canada have been in regular contact with Switch Health, the employers and industry associations to resolve these issues.
    We take these issues very seriously, and we will continue to work with Switch Health.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, when the government hired Switch Health to handle COVID-19 testing, it did not make sure the company had the resources to serve Quebeckers in French. Now farmers have no choice but to use Switch Health, even though its services are inadequate. Once again, Ottawa unilaterally gave a contract to a company that cannot serve Quebec. Our farmers are paying the price.
    The minister is responsible for making sure the services available to Quebeckers are just as good as those available to Ontarians. What is she going to do?
    Mr. Speaker, we are of course working very closely with the provinces, and we know that workers in Quebec have the right to be served in French. That is why we are working so closely with the provinces, and we will continue to ensure that Quebec workers receive the services they are entitled to in French.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the third wave of COVID-19 is hitting hard. This is a difficult time. On top of this third wave, tax season is upon us. People need help, as they risk losing the benefits they need. We need to help people.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to giving Canadians more time to file their taxes, as he did in the first wave?
    Mr. Speaker, our government understands that this tax season is stressful for Canadians. We will continue to be there for them every step of the way.
    In February, we announced that recipients of the emergency and recovery benefits would be eligible for interest relief if they filed their 2020 tax returns. The Canada Revenue Agency has also put in place robust taxpayer relief provisions that grant them relief from penalties or interest incurred for reasons beyond their control.
    These measures ensure that Canadians who need help during tax season will get it.

[English]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear the lack of vaccine supply has resulted in thousands of vaccination appointments being cancelled and a slower rollout of the vaccination program across the country. This is directly the responsibility of the federal government, and it has failed. It gives me no pleasure to say this, because Canadians want to get vaccinated, but they simply cannot because there are no doses available.
     Will the Prime Minister admit that his government's failure to ensure we could produce the vaccines here in Canada is what led us to this mess?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize that all Canadians at this time need to pull together to get through this third wave.
    For our part, the Government of Canada has already delivered 12.7 million doses to Canada. We have 8.9 million doses that have been administered in this country. We have accelerated 22 million doses from later quarters to earlier quarters. We are now third in the G20 in terms of the percentage of people with at least one dose.
    We will continue to pull in millions of vaccinations. We will provide them to the provinces and territories and assist them in whatever way we can, including with the low dead-volume syringes that we have procured for the benefit of all Canadians.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, The Globe and Mail reported that the government dropped specific COVID-19 screening for travellers from Brazil, even while the P1 variant spreads throughout British Columbia. It also reported that the health minister's office declined to explain why the extra screening was scrubbed. Her spokesperson directed The Globe and Mail to the federal Public Health Agency, which did not provide comment.
    Why has the government dropped specific COVID-19 screening for travellers from Brazil?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has among the strongest measures in the world at the border. Every traveller, no matter where they come from, is subject to testing on arrival. Then the traveller must wait in a government-approved hotel until the return of their test. Every traveller must further quarantine until the return of their 10-day test and until their 14-day quarantine is over. All positive tests are sequenced by our hard-working National Microbiology Laboratory folks. Of course, we will stop at nothing to protect Canadians.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, is the minister saying that the reason there is no specific COVID-19 screening for travellers from Brazil is because she feels that the other measures the government has in place are adequate, and that there is no additional public health benefit to having the additional screening measures in place?
    Mr. Speaker, I will repeat: We have among the strongest measures in the world at our border. In fact, everything that we have added has created a situation where we are protecting Canadians from the importation of COVID. We are able to track and sequence any positive cases.
    I will take this moment to congratulate the National Microbiology Laboratory during this national week of celebration of laboratory workers. I will also say that every traveller must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of which country they arrive from. We will continue to monitor our borders to protect against importation and to support the provinces and territories in their fight against COVID-19.
    Mr. Speaker, if the minister is saying that the measures put in place prior to the additional screening being put in place were sufficient, would she say that the government put in place additional screening that had no additional public health outcome and, if so, why?
    Mr. Speaker, I know that the member opposite has not been a fan of the mandatory measures that we have put into place at the border. In fact, she has spoken out against them on her social media channels. However, I will tell her that they serve an important purpose. They protect Canadians from the importation of the virus.
    Every step of the way, we have responded to science. We have been led by our incredible scientists and researchers, and we will continue to do that to support the provinces and territories and indeed to protect Canadians' health.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the shipment of 1.2 million doses from Moderna that was scheduled to arrive next week has been delayed until early May.
    The Prime Minister said yesterday that there could be delays of a few days, but now we are talking about weeks. Quebec has gone back into lockdown, and Ontario has had to shut down vaccination clinics because of supply issues.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that his procurement strategy has failed?
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for the question. We will continue to manage our supply chains for COVID-19 vaccines, while accelerating deliveries of approved vaccines.
    Some 12.7 million doses have been delivered to Canada so far.

[English]

    Also, millions of vaccines are on the way. We have accelerated 22 million doses from later to earlier quarters. We will continue to work together as a country to make sure that vaccines get out to the provinces and territories.

[Translation]

    We are working day and night to get the job done.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is giving all kinds of figures, but the results speak for themselves, and they are appalling. We are an international laughingstock.
    There is another decision that I am having a hard time understanding. Why did the government decide to drop the specific screening measures for travellers arriving from Brazil? What was the reason? I have no idea, because the government is being very secretive about it.
    Once again, we see the Prime Minister shirking his responsibilities when it comes to the fight against this virus, and leaving the provinces to fend for themselves.
    Is there anyone on the other side of the House who can explain the Prime Minister's decision?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times in the House, we will stop at nothing to protect Canadians' health. We have multiple, layered measures of protection at the border, as the member opposite knows, including a 14-day mandatory quarantine, mandatory pre-departure testing, mandatory arrival testing and mandatory testing at day 10, and we will continue to protect Canadians from the importation of this virus for as long as it takes.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, last year at the beginning of the pandemic, we made it clear that the border was the first line of defence. They did not listen. Then we said Health Canada should station officers at the airports. They did not listen.
    Now we are being told that we have the best control measures in the world. How can variants from around the world have entered Canada if we already had measures in place, very robust measures according to the government?
    Will the government start screening travellers from Brazil again or not?

  (1435)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, every traveller, regardless of their country of origin, is required to undergo some of the strictest measures in the world. Let me repeat that all travellers must subject themselves to a pre-departure test and submit that test prior to boarding the plane to Canada. They must also subject themselves to a post-arrival test and wait in a government-approved hotel until such time as their tests come back negative. The travellers must then continue to quarantine for up to 14 days and must submit a day 10 test. Any positive test is also sequenced so we understand just how this virus is shifting and changing.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, the budget is being tabled on Monday. If there is one segment of the population that does not have the luxury of being patient with Ottawa, it is people with serious illnesses.
    Currently, people with diseases like cancer have the added burden of being in a precarious financial position, because they have been shut out of employment insurance. The 15 weeks of sickness benefits are not enough. They need 50 weeks.
    On Monday, will these people be able to count on the federal government?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians want a flexible employment insurance system that is tailored to their needs, and they deserve it. That is why we have spent the past five weeks modernizing the system and making improvements to benefit Canadians. EI sickness benefits are an important support measure for Canadians who have to leave work because of an injury or illness.
    Right now, far too many claimants are exhausting their EI benefits before they are able to return to work. That is why we are committed to extending the benefit period.
    Mr. Speaker, I hope it will be extended to 50 weeks.
    Unfortunately, EI does not meet the needs of those with serious illnesses. The 15 weeks of special sickness benefits are not adequate for illnesses such as cancer, which sometimes involve longer recovery times and relapses. Sickness benefits have been capped since 1971, but 88% of Canadians are in favour of increasing them.
    After 50 years, will the government finally change EI to meet the needs of the sick and provide 50 weeks of benefits in the interest of fairness?
    Mr. Speaker, we are committed to modernizing the EI system. We are committed to extending the sickness benefit period.
    This afternoon, I will definitely be speaking to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, which is studying the modernization of the EI system.

[English]

    I am very happy to be talking to the committee about this issue this weekend.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to honour the memory of Émilie Sansfaçon, who died of cancer, fighting to the very end for women like her to have access to an essential 50 weeks of coverage. She had met with the Prime Minister, who promised to do something.
    The House has also called for an increase to 50 weeks, led by the Bloc. This is not a demand, it is a heartfelt plea. We are appealing to the government's humanity and we want to know when it will increase sickness benefits to 50 weeks.
    Mr. Speaker, we offer our condolences to the family of Émilie Sansfaçon. I was there at her meeting with the Prime Minister and I often think of Émilie as I work on modernizing the employment insurance system.
    As I said, we are fully committed to extending the EI sickness benefit period. We are committed to making this happen.

  (1440)  

[English]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, remember when the Prime Minister gave Loblaws $12 million for fridges? How about the $50 million he gave to Mastercard? Oops, he did it again. On Tuesday, the government cut a cheque for $655 million to a company owned by Fortis Inc. for the Lake Erie corridor project. This is a company worth billions.
    The Liberals are now giving tax dollars to a for-profit company to sell electricity to the United States. Could the minister tell us why?
    Mr. Speaker, thanks to this project, Canada has an opportunity to export clean power, helping to reduce emissions, maximizing clean power use and making electricity more affordable for Canadians. The Canadian Infrastructure Bank's investments in the Lake Erie Connector will give Ontario direct access to North American's largest electricity market, 13 states, and the District of Columbia. It will reduce overall GHG emissions by giving those jurisdictions access to Ontario's clean energy.
    The Lake Erie Connector also gives the province of Ontario the ability to import more clean energy to meet periods of exceptionally high demand rather than firing up an additional gas plant within the province. This is part of our infrastructure plan to create jobs across the country, tackle climate change—
    The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.
    Mr. Speaker, if the project is so good, why can this multi-billion dollar company not pay for it itself? It can. In fact, it was already going to. Fortis Inc. was already committed to the Lake Erie Connector project.
    The Infrastructure Bank was supposed to leverage private sector money to get new public infrastructure built. Instead, it is using tax dollars to build projects for billionaire private companies, which were already going to build the projects in the first place.
    Simple question: Who will own the Lake Erie Connector project once it is completed?
    Mr. Speaker, as this relates to climate change, certainly Canadians have been waiting for a very long time to see a serious climate plan from the Conservative Party of Canada.
    This morning after reading through the Conservative Party's 15-page pamphlet, Canadians are still waiting. No mention of science, no numbers about how much these policies will cost consumers, no incentives to help Canadians afford an electric vehicle or retrofit their home. It is, interestingly enough, a carbon tax that cuts less pollution, that costs more and that takes away the climate action incentive rebates for families and replaces them with some kind of petro-points where the more we burn, the more we earn. This is not a plan. This is a pamphlet that will do less, cost more, from a party that I am sorry to—
    The hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.
    Mr. Speaker, the member can try to change the channel from his own corporate welfare scandal, but the fact remains that the Lake Erie Connector is a project owned by a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., which according to its own website, had revenues of $8.9 billion in 2020. Fortis is a massive energy company that makes huge profits. Last year, it paid out over $800 million in dividends to its shareholders. Why did the government not just tell Fortis that if it needed $600 million, it could pay for it itself?
    Every day we hear from small business owners who are losing their entire life's work. Why does the government think that it is the billionaires who need a bailout?
    Mr. Speaker, again, as this project relates to climate change, it is important that the Conservative Party can answer some questions with respect to the pamphlet that it released this morning. It is a pamphlet, not a plan. It has more holes in it than we could drive a truck through.
    Certainly the focus is on a number of things, including putting a tax on carbon, which in and of itself would be an interesting step forward if it were not so convoluted, complicated and actually incented the creation of more pollution and put more pollution into the environment.
     At the end of the day, we need to be skeptical. We need to look at this through thoughtful eyes. It is not a good plan, but it is also from a party—
    The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

[Translation]

Labour

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, dock workers at the port of Montreal began a partial strike refusing overtime. The management side is standing its ground, foreshadowing a labour dispute that could drag on.
    The Liberals have already hinted that they intend to introduce back-to-work legislation, in complete violation of workers' fundamental rights. This is hardly surprising.
    Can the Prime Minister promise workers that he will allow the bargaining process to proceed, that he will respect the integrity of their rights and that he will not impose back-to-work legislation?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

[English]

    Negotiations between the two parties have been ongoing for over two and a half years.

[Translation]

    Order. The member for Manicouagan on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, for the last two questions, there has been a lot of background noise in the House, and I am having a hard time hearing, even with my earpiece.
    I would like you to remind my colleagues to respect other colleagues who have the floor.

  (1445)  

    The hon. member is right. I was going to say something after the answer, but this forces me to say it now. I thank the member for raising the issue.
    I want to remind members that, if they want to talk, they can go to the other side while keeping two metres apart. That is fine. If they are 20 metres apart, that is a problem because then they have to shout, and that is unacceptable in the House.
    I know that debates in the House can get heated, but I want to make sure members know how this works.

[English]

    It is hard to estimate the distance, but I am sure the hon. members in the chamber can figure out the difference between two metres and 20 metres.
    The hon. minister.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.

[English]

    Negotiations between the parties have been ongoing for over two and a half years, and our federal mediation and conciliation service has been there every step of the way. In fact, in February, I took the extra step of appointing two of our most senior mediators.
    We understand the impact this is having on the Port of Montreal and the key role it plays in economic activity in Canada. I would like to encourage the parties, who are now at the table as we speak, to reach an agreement. We will consider all options as we move forward on this very important matter.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, in recent weeks, the Russian Federation has increased attacks on Ukraine's eastern borders. This has been coupled with significant Russian troop movement, raising concerns among NATO and G7 allies about a possible further invasion of Ukraine. This could lead to a devastating conflict, putting thousands of Ukrainian lives at risk.
    Canadians have an important and meaningful relationship with the people of Ukraine. The Liberal government must do more to support our Ukrainian allies. Will the minister please provide an update on the actions Canada is planning to take to deter possible further Russian aggression against the people in Ukraine?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been in very close contact with Ukraine. The Prime Minister has spoken to President Zelensky, and I have spoken to Foreign Minister Kuleba. We are speaking with our allies.
     We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine against the amassing of unnecessary troops and equipment in Crimea and along the eastern border. I can assure the member that we are there for the Ukrainian people and with our allies with respect to this particular situation.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have made great sacrifices this year, spending time apart from their loved ones to stop the spread of COVID-19. These public health measures are important, but we also know that Canadians need support in these difficult times. The mental health of Canadians is an issue I am genuinely concerned about. Even though delivering these services falls to the provinces, I am proud to see that the federal government has stepped up to help.
    Can the Minister of Health update us on the mental health supports our government is providing for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Newmarket—Aurora for his constant advocacy in this area and his compassion and kindness for his constituents. He knows first-hand how disruptive COVID-19 has been for people and communities and how it has impacted all of our mental health.
    We know that what helps is access to services. We knew we needed to step up to help the provinces and territories in delivering on their responsibilities in health care. That is why, a year ago today, we launched the Wellness Together Canada portal. It is free. Over 1.2 million Canadians have used it over 3.6 million times. People should check it out today for support—
    The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, Laurentian University is tens of millions of dollars in debt, and that is jeopardizing 69 programs, 28 of which are offered in French. The programs that were cut include political science, engineering, law, education and history, to name just a few.
    The francophone community has the right to university programs in French. Despite all the rhetoric we are hearing from the minister, can she tell us what she has actually done to help Laurentian University?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we have always stood up for official language minority communities, and we always will.
    We know that post-secondary institutions are gathering places that are essential to the survival of communities across the country. We are willing to work together to ensure that francophones in northern Ontario have a strong post-secondary institution. As our document on the modernization of the Official Languages Act clearly states, we will continue to support these institutions because the future of our two official languages depends on strong, vibrant communities.

  (1450)  

    Before going on to the next question, I want to remind members that it is very difficult for the interpreters to hear properly if the microphone on members' headsets is too close to their mouths. Plus, it can actually be physically painful for the interpreters. I would therefore ask members to move their microphones either up or down just a bit, so that other members can hear them and the interpreters can do their jobs effectively.
    The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have been in power for nearly six years now, and they still have not introduced a bill to modernize official languages. The Liberals themselves do not respect French. I can think of some examples, like WE Charity, COVID Alert texts sent in English only and documents submitted at committee in English only, to name just a few. Now we also learn that Laurentian University's budget has never been increased under this government.
    Will the minister stop blaming others, accept responsibility and take concrete action to help francophones at Laurentian University, full stop?
    Mr. Speaker, my heart goes out to the students and faculty at Laurentian University who are in a very difficult situation. I think everyone in the House feels the same way.
    The minister has been in touch with the provinces about this, and we are looking for solutions. We are prepared to work with our provincial counterparts to find solutions, but I remind members that education is a provincial jurisdiction.

[English]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the veterans affairs committee, Allan Hunter, a military and veterans advocate, spoke about the reaction from women in the military to the Liberal decision to shut down the defence committee’s study into sexual misconduct in the Canadian military. He said he has heard from women who have said, “Shutting down the committee is giving the message that what happens to females in the service is not important and that we are second-class civilians.” Mr. Hunter also said that women in the military feel like they cannot come forward now out of fear.
    How can the Prime Minister justify adding to a culture of fear for women who serve in Canada's military?
    Mr. Speaker, we will do everything necessary to make sure that we have an inclusive environment inside the Canadian Armed Forces. We owe it to our members.
    We look forward to the recommendations that the committee will be making as it is talking to experts, including women from the Canadian Armed Forces. All options are on the table, and we will take action.
    Mr. Speaker, when asked whether he felt the decision to shut down the committee by Liberal members would put women in our military further at risk, Mr. Hunter said, “I can say that since that happened, I have been getting contacted by females who have been assaulted, raped and abused in the military. Some are still serving, and they are absolutely terrified to come forward.”
    The women are angry that the Prime Minister does not want to hear their stories or, worse yet, that he does not care. Does the Prime Minister not see that by shutting down the committee and covering this up he is adding to a culture of fear for women who serve in our military?
    Mr. Speaker, we take these allegations extremely seriously, and we will be taking more action. The committee makes its own decisions regarding its actions. However, we respect the work that it will be doing.
     Nonetheless, we will be speaking to our veterans and also current serving members. This is an area in which we must continue to make sure we get it right. We will be taking more action, and all options are on the table to make sure that we create an inclusive environment for all members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

[Translation]

Post-Secondary Education

    Mr. Speaker, the entire francophone community stands with Franco-Ontarians over the cuts at Laurentian University.
    Yesterday, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously expressed its concerns. The president of the Université de Moncton, in New Brunswick, said, “We are all at risk. No one would have expected this to happen at a Canadian university.”
    We know that the minister is talking to Ontario about working together in the medium term, but is a plan being negotiated now to shield the students and faculty of Laurentian University from the immediate consequences?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see that my colleague shares our concerns about the fate of Laurentian University. For our government, there is really no doubt that we need strong post-secondary institutions for francophones in northern Ontario. We are ready to find solutions to achieve this, and we will always be allies of the Franco-Ontarian community.
    Mr. Speaker, I am reaching out to my colleague. Laurentian University needs a solution before the 100 professors relocate and the students move away to Ottawa or Quebec. We would be more than honoured to welcome them in Quebec, but they have the right to services in French in their native Ontario. Above all, we need to find a short- and medium-term solution before a single student abandons their post-secondary studies in French.
    Has the government been in contact with the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to discuss the urgent need for action?
    The minister is in contact with her counterpart and the Ontario ministers. Post-secondary institutions fall under provincial jurisdiction.
    From the beginning, we have been there for Franco-Ontarians, and we have been there to protect the linguistic minority here in Ontario. I am proud that we have reached out. Now, it is really up to Ontario to respond.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation has been on a boil water advisory for years, and even though half the island still does not have clean drinking water, the Liberals are pressuring the band to lift the advisory anyway. The Liberals are also refusing to work with the community to improve Georgina Island's water treatment facilities. Clearly, they think access to clean water for only half the residents is good enough.
    When will the Liberal government stop playing games and ensure that the Chippewas of Georgina Island and other first nations communities have access to clean drinking water?
    Mr. Speaker, let me reassure members of this House and all Canadians that this simply is not the case. I would note that when we took power, there were 105 long-term water advisories in effect. We put together a plan and invested $4 billion, and we have now lifted 106 long-term water advisories. No pressure is put on any first nation. We work in partnership with those nations, including the Chippewas, and we will continue to do so, respecting their rights and respecting the rights of all Canadians to have access to clean and safe water.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, while Canadians are losing sleep wondering if they will ever be able to afford a home, the Liberal government readily acknowledges that our system is a safer market for foreign investment than for Canadians trying to purchase a home.
    Why have the Liberals turned a blind eye to foreign speculation and the negative role it is playing in our real estate market? Is the government really okay with selling our neighbourhoods to foreign investors seeking to make a quick buck?
    Mr. Speaker, we brought back federal leadership in the affordable housing sector. We have brought back significant investments that were missing in action when the party opposite was in government. Through the national housing strategy, which is now a $70-billion plan, we are investing more than ever before in communities to ensure the availability of affordable housing in Canada.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, once again the Liberals followed up an election promise to indigenous people without results. The minister of PSPC failed to set targets or even put in place a mechanism to measure the actual results for indigenous procurement. In the minister’s 2021 mandate letter, there was no mention of the 5% indigenous procurement promise to indigenous businesses that was made in previous years.
    Can the minister explain to the indigenous business community why, rather than fix the failures, the Liberals have decided to just lower the bar for her department?
    Mr. Speaker, we are very committed to continuing to meet the minimum 5% target for diversifying federal supply chains in the area of indigenous procurements. We have also made sure to target indigenous suppliers. We have awarded 32 contracts to 24 self-identified indigenous businesses, collectively worth $120 million, including for logistics and air charter services, among others, during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a priority for me and my department, and we will continue to—

  (1500)  

    The hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

[Translation]

Diversity and Inclusion

    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-6 to eliminate conversion therapy was introduced last year.
    I know that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights heard moving testimony about the importance of taking steps to ban this destructive practice. Bill C-6 will send a strong message to members of the LGBTQ2 community that this government cares for and protects them.
    Would the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth tell us why this bill is so important?
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel is right. It is time for us to take decisive action to end conversion therapy in Canada and do everything in our power to end violence and discrimination. We know that young Canadians are our future and that we have to protect them.
    Our government is strongly committed to protecting the rights of LGBTQ2 communities, without exception. LGBTQ2 rights are human rights.
    I ask all members of the House to support this bill without delay.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, in light of all the administrative problems that the Canada Revenue Agency is having due to the Liberals' poor planning, Canadians will have a hard time producing the necessary documents to file their 2020 tax return by the April 30 deadline.
    Can the government extend the filing deadline without penalizing Canadian taxpayers?
    Mr. Speaker, our government understands full well that this is a stressful tax season for all Canadians. We will continue to be there for them every step of the way.
    In February, we announced that recipients of the emergency and recovery benefits would be eligible for interest relief if they filed their 2020 tax returns. The Canada Revenue Agency has also put in place robust taxpayer relief provisions that grant them relief from penalties or interest incurred for reasons beyond their control. These measures will ensure that Canadians who need help during tax season will get it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with record debt and deficits, the wannabe disciples of modern monetary theory across the aisle have only one option, and that is to raise taxes. From the soon-to-be $170 a tonne carbon tax, the Liberals' punishing fuel standard, and even charging Canadians more for beer, that is the Liberal MO.
     Former Liberal MP and insider, Dan McTeague, has said he is pretty darn sure that a GST hike is coming. My question is simple. Will the Liberals be hiking the GST in next week's budget?
    Mr. Speaker, since the hon. member mentioned our plan to put a price on pollution, I congratulate his party on finally embracing the need to price carbon as well. Unfortunately, the Conservative plan is actually going to cost Canadian households more and do less for our environment.
    When it comes to the fiscal track Canada is on, I would remind the hon. member that the COVID-19 pandemic created immense costs, and our government was there to support households and businesses to weather the storm. When the budget is tabled on Monday, he will see a suite of measures that will continue to protect Canadians' health and well-being; support households and businesses through this pandemic; and set the course for an economic recovery that is inclusive, prosperous and green.

  (1505)  

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit seniors hard. Increases in the cost of prescriptions, groceries, delivery charges and service fees have them all feeling the pinch.
     The $9 million to the United Way last March never trickled down to the seniors. The $300 last June was not enough to make ends meet. However, the 61¢ increase in OAS in December, that is just an insult.
     My constituent, Lloyd Lancaster, told me that he and his wife put their increases together and decided to go out and have a cup of coffee. Is half a cup of coffee what the government calls direct support for our seniors in need?
    Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate that the opposition continues to confuse the cost of living increase with the significant support that we provided seniors during the pandemic.
    We know many Canadian seniors are facing significant health, economic and social challenges due to COVID-19. That is why we provided them with significant tax-free support. Combined with the GST top-up, this provided over $1,500 tax-free to support the most vulnerable senior couples in our communities.
    We will continue to support seniors and all Canadians during this pandemic.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, the government knows that it is extremely important to strengthen our relations with Canada’s allies and are committed to expanding Canada's global trade ties. The Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade recently led a virtual trade mission to France.
    Could the minister talk more about the importance of empowering Canadian businesses to diversify and expand their presence on the world stage?
    Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago, I led a virtual trade mission to France bringing together over 300 entrepreneurs, 36% being women-owned, 20% are youth-owned and 20% are visible minority-owned businesses. This is inclusive trade in action, taking advantage of Canada's trade agreement with the European Union through CETA.
     Our government will continue to promote inclusive and sustainable growth through trade, building back a greener future and a sustainable economic recovery.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the people of Grassy Narrows First Nation have spent the last 50 years fighting for justice after industrial pollution poisoned their waters with mercury. Ninety per cent the residents still suffer from mercury poisoning. Three years ago, Grassy Narrows made a land declaration banning industrial activities on its traditional lands, but the Ontario Conservative government is now accelerating mining development on those lands.
    Why is the Liberal government not living up to its responsibility to defend the rights and title of the people of Grassy Narrows?
    Mr. Speaker, the member would well know that this government has invested historical funding into the mercury treatment centre that was announced early last year to right a historical wrong that should never have occurred in the first place.
    When it comes to advocating for the rights of Grassy Narrows', chief and council, and the people of Grassy Narrows are fully capable of doing it, but we will also be their voice at the federal level for whatever they advocate to premiers across the country and to territorial premiers as well. We are glad to do it and speak up on their behalf at any time, but they are fully capable of doing it as well.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's climate record just continues to get worse. The most recently released data shows that our greenhouse gas emissions were rising at the beginning of COVID. Today's report from Environmental Defence demonstrates, once again, that fossil fuel subsidies are also going up, while a report from the Breach tells us that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers secured its own special committee with cabinet.
    Next week, when the Prime Minister stands up in President Biden's climate summit, we will at long last announce a target that is meaningful and holds to 1.5°C?
    Mr. Speaker, certainly, we have developed a comprehensive climate plan that enables Canada to move forward with the rest of the international community to meet our international obligations. A credible climate plan requires increased ambition. The parties to Paris agreed that all would need to do more and increase ambition overtime. Countries around the world are doing that, and Canada will be playing its part in the international community and seizing the economic opportunities.
    I believe that all parties in the House, with perhaps the exception of the Conservative Party, agree on the need for greater ambition, and Canada will be bringing forward a new climate target next week at the Earth summit.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1510)  

[English]

Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2020

    The House resume from April 14 consideration of the motion that BillC-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures, be read a third time and passed.
    It being 3:10 p.m., pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading of Bill C-14.
    Call in the members.

  (1520)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 92)

YEAS

Members

Alghabra
Amos
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bagnell
Bains
Baker
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bergeron
Bérubé
Bessette
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blois
Boudrias
Boulerice
Bratina
Brière
Brunelle-Duceppe
Cannings
Carr
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Champagne
Champoux
Charbonneau
Chen
Collins
Cormier
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Desbiens
Desilets
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
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Garneau
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gill
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hardie
Harris
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Jones
Jordan
Jowhari
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lefebvre
Lemire
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Manly
Marcil
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McCrimmon
McDonald
McGuinty
McKay
McKenna
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Michaud
Miller
Monsef
Morrissey
Murray
Ng
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Pauzé
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Powlowski
Qaqqaq
Qualtrough
Ratansi
Regan
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota (Brampton North)
Saini
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sangha
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Schulte
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Simms
Sorbara
Spengemann
Ste-Marie
Tabbara
Tassi
Thériault
Therrien
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vaughan
Vignola
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Wilson-Raybould
Yip
Young
Zahid
Zann
Zuberi

Total: -- 210


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Alleslev
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Benzen
Bergen
Berthold
Bezan
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Block
Brassard
Calkins
Carrie
Chiu
Chong
Cooper
Cumming
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
Deltell
d'Entremont
Diotte
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Findlay (South Surrey—White Rock)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Harder
Hoback
Jansen
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kent
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lewis (Essex)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Lukiwski
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McColeman
McLean
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Melillo
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Nater
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Poilievre
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Rood
Ruff
Sahota (Calgary Skyview)
Saroya
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shin
Shipley
Soroka
Stanton
Steinley
Strahl
Stubbs
Sweet
Tochor
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vis
Wagantall
Waugh
Webber
Williamson
Wong
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 118


PAIRED

Nil

     I declare the motion carried.

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

[English]

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
     Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When I asked my question to the minister, accidentally a microphone was open and the answer of the minister was not heard properly.
    Is it possible to allow me, please, to re-ask the question to the hon. minister in order that everyone can hear the question properly?
    It was a very slight interruption, but we will ask the House.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    Agreed. The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    We will go ahead, and the member can ask the question once more.
    Please go ahead.

  (1525)  

    Mr. Speaker, this government knows that it is extremely important to strengthen our relations with Canada's allies and is committed to expanding Canada's global trade ties. The Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade recently led a virtual trade mission to France.
    Could the minister talk more about the importance of empowering Canadian businesses to diversify and expand their presence on the world stage?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Laval—Les Îles for this important question.
    Two weeks ago, I led a trade mission to France, bringing together over 300 entrepreneurs, of which 36% are majority women-owned businesses, 20% youth-owned businesses and 20% visible minority-owned businesses. This is inclusive trade in action.
     Taking advantage of Canada's trade agreement with the European Union through CETA, our government will continue to promote inclusive and sustainable growth through trade, building back a greener future and a sustainable economic recovery.
    It being 3:25 p.m., pursuant to an order made on Wednesday, April 14, the House will now proceed to statements by ministers.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

    Mr. Speaker, today Canadians join Her Majesty the Queen, members of the royal family, citizens of the Commonwealth and people around the world in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This sad occasion gives us an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate a life given in the service of others.
    His Royal Highness's life of service began when he joined the Royal Navy just before the start of the Second World War. An accomplished naval officer who was recognized for his bravery, the Duke of Edinburgh's contribution to the women and men of the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Canada and other realms would continue for 70 years after the end of the war. His relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces, and particularly his service as Colonel-in-Chief, was an enduring one. It was so enduring, in fact, that in recognition of his unwavering support His Royal Highness was appointed honorary general of the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as honorary admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy.

[Translation]

    From his first visit to Canada with Princess Elizabeth in 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh made connections across the country. He was there for some of our most important milestones, including our centennial celebrations and the proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982.
    In every province and territory, His Royal Highness had the pleasure of meeting Canadians from every corner of our vast country over the course of his 60 visits to Canada. His deep commitment to Canada was even recognized when he was named the first extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada. He served as patron or president of nearly 800 organizations, more than 40 of which were in Canada. These organizations reflected his interest in science and technology research, environmental conservation, and most notably his love of sports and dedication to young people.

  (1530)  

[English]

    The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, a program he founded in 1956, embodies his desire to help young people succeed. The award is a personal challenge that is tailored to the interests and abilities of each participant. The program is not meant to be competitive. Instead, it seeks to develop youths' skills and perseverance and helps set goals to achieve them. The Duke of Edinburgh wanted a program that was accessible to all regardless of the background of the participants. The award has challenged, empowered and recognized millions of young people around the world and has left them better prepared to succeed. Since 1963, more than half a million Canadians have benefited from the program. The award program alone would qualify as a most important legacy.
    However, when we think of the Duke of Edinburgh's legacy of service, we of course remember His Royal Highness for his decades of devotion to Her Majesty our Queen. The longest-serving consort attended tens of thousands of official engagements, either with Her Majesty or on her behalf. He was a participant in, and a witness to, the great progress we have made as a country over the course of Her Majesty's reign. In fact, one of his last public events was to attend Canada 150 celebrations at Canada House in the United Kingdom in 2017, where former governor general Johnston presented the Queen with a Sapphire Jubilee gift on behalf of all Canadians.
    The Interim Clerk of the Privy Council, Janice Charette, recently spoke to me fondly about his Royal Highness's visit to Canada House at that time, when she was our high commissioner. Even after retiring from public duties at the age of 96, his Royal Highness continued to be an important figure for the royal family and particularly for Her Majesty the Queen, who described him as her “strength and stay all these years”.
    I hope his memory will encourage more of us to serve our community in whatever capacity we can, that it will remind us we all gain when we help others realize their full potential, that providing opportunities in the most inclusive way possible brings us together, that we must support our youth to ensure their success, that when our country calls, we should be ready to serve, and that in times of joy and sorrow, we must be there for our families.

[Translation]

    On Saturday, Canadians will have the opportunity to remember His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh at a commemorative ceremony to be held in Ottawa.
    Although we will not be able to gather in person, this will be an opportunity to remember a remarkable person who reminds us of what it means to serve. It will also be the last opportunity for Canadians to express their deep sadness.
    As we mourn the loss of this public figure, we should remember that the Duke of Edinburgh was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. We acknowledge the profound loss felt today by Her Majesty the Queen and members of the royal family.

[English]

    To the Queen, I respectfully express my deep sympathy for her loss. We share in her sorrow. It is my sincere hope that Her Majesty will take comfort in the knowledge that His Royal Highness inspired generations of young people in Canada and around the world to reach their full potential, achieve excellence and give their lives in service to others. Through his tireless work, he has forever earned our respect and admiration.
    As Her Majesty the Queen best expressed, we “owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today on behalf of all Conservatives, the constituents of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, many Canadians and many current and former members of our Canadian Armed Forces to pay tribute to the life of service by Field Marshal, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh on his passing. We all share our deepest condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and all members of the royal family.
    I am going to focus my comments on the prince's impact on our Canadian military and, I will admit, skewed toward his service as the colonel-in-chief to The Royal Canadian Regiment for 68 years, why I fully recognize he served in this capacity for other Canadian Army regiments, including the cadets, was an admiral for the Royal Canadian Navy, captain general of the Canadian Army and general of the Royal Canadian Air Force. As such, I am going to read into the record not my own words, but quotes from some key Canadian military leaders on His Royal Highness's passing.

[Translation]

     The Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery said that His Royal Highness's life of devotion, service and duty in war and in peace “will remain an enduringly worthy example for us all.”

[English]

    On behalf of The Royal Canadian Regiment, the Right Hon. David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada and the Colonel of the Regiment, “We share a deep sadness on the passing of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a man who personified service before self. We wish to extend our sincere condolences to Her Majesty, the Queen; the entire Royal Family, as well as His Royal Highness' friends and colleagues in this most difficult time.”
    From Major-General Steve Whelan, the senior serving within The RCR, “The RCR was privileged to have His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip, wear the cap badge of Canada's oldest regular force infantry regiment for 68 years. He served as a role model of service to country that no other will likely ever surpass. His leadership will be missed.”
    From Colonel (Ret'd) Joe Aitchison, and former colonel of the regiment:
    No description of Prince Philip's connection to The Royal Canadian Regiment would be complete without reference to an event that occurred well before he was appointed Colonel-in-Chief, but became known only 70 years after the fact.
    On October 1942, young Philip had just been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and appointed First Lieutenant of HMS Wallace, notably the youngest officer of the Royal Navy to hold such an appointment at the time. HMS Wallace was assigned to support Operation HUSKY, the allied invasion of Sicily that began on 10 July 1943.
    The Royal Canadian Regiment was one of the units that took part in the invasion landing as part of the 1st Canadian Division. The regiment's objective was a small airfield near Pachino on the southeast area of Sicily. The second in command of the anti-tank platoon on the day of the landing was a young Royal Canadian, Sherry Atkinson.
    Fast forward 70 years:
    At the breakfast reception preceding the presentation of the new Regimental Colour of the Third Battalion in Toronto on 27 April 2013, the Colonel-in-Chief, the reviewing officer, met Mr. Atkinson by design. In the course of their conversation, they established that on the day of the landing they had been roughly at the same place at the same time, the Prince offshore and Sherry onshore, with the former providing naval gunfire support to the activities of the latter. When they established this connection, it became very difficult indeed to separate them.
    This is the kind of connection that existed between Prince Philip and The Royal Canadian Regiment over the entire 68 years of his appointment as its Colonel-in-Chief. The connection can perhaps be best described as a relationship between warriors, unquestionably of different generations and background, with shared values and ethos.
    I fully agree with these esteemed Canadian military leaders' words that clearly highlight His Royal Highness's dedication to service. Further, I would add that I had the honour to meet the prince in person during the same visit in 2013 as the commanding officer of the Second Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment. Our interaction was likely only 10 seconds in duration, but I still count myself fortunate to have had this privilege. Watching the prince work the room, showing his accustomed ability to relate to whomever he was speaking to, be that a private soldier or the Governor General, his remarkable stamina, his close eye to detail and his overwhelming charm was incredibly impressive.
    Next, I would like to focus on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. These awards will be one of the most significant legacies that will immortalize Prince Philip and his encouragement of youth. Established in 1956, it came to Canada in 1963. Today, the Duke of Edinburgh's international award operates in over 130 countries and territories globally. Over 500,000 Canadians have benefited from the program since its inception.

  (1540)  

    It recognizes young people between the ages of 14 and 24, and encourages those youth to develop universal skills, such as creativity, problem-solving, communication and decision-making.
    The award's aims include improving mental health, employability and earning potential, physical fitness and health; and increased engagement with charitable and community causes.
    The award program is comprised of four sections. The service section is intended to develop a sense of community and social responsibility. The adventurous journey section aims to cultivate a spirit of adventure and discovery, and an understanding of the environment. The skills section develops cultural, vocational and practical skills. The physical recreational section encourages improved performance in fitness.
    I think all members of the House would agree the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is a program that is just as applicable today, if not more so, than when the program was established in 1956.
    Tied to my own riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, I would offer this unique piece of history tied to the Duke of Edinburgh's Award winners and the official opening of the Bruce Trail in 1967 by Lord Hunt. Lord Hunt was the director of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award program and was the leader of the climb of Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary. In August of 1967, Lord Hunt joined 27 of the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award winners from 13 different Commonwealth countries for the start of the hike on the Bruce Trail from Tobermory to Owen Sound, which included five Canadian gold award winners.
    As a side note, I have learned that during the initial planning for this event it was suggested that a then young Prince Charles and possibly Prince Philip would accompany the group. The original plan was to have them flown in by helicopter with an RCMP detail. Apparently, the local committee was aware of this and told it was top secret. Committee members were then surprised when on their way to a Duke of Edinburgh meeting in Toronto they heard on CFOS, the local radio station back in the riding, that Prince Charles might accompany the group. That announcement ended any talk right then of Prince Charles or Prince Philip coming to the hike with the group. I guess maintaining confidentiality has been an ongoing problem for more than just political parties. In this case, it is very unfortunate, as I am sure both Prince Charles and Prince Philip would have enjoyed the hike on the magnificent Bruce Trail.
    In closing, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, lived a life of service and public duty. As a consort to Her Majesty the Queen, he was an unwavering, loyal companion in supporting her as monarch. His service as a warrior, leader and public figure for his entire life is hard to fathom. He serves as an example we can all learn from.
    On behalf of all Canadians and the Conservatives, I offer Her Majesty the Queen our deepest condolences on the passing of the prince. May he rest in peace. Pro Patria.
    Mr. Speaker, I am here today to express condolences on behalf of New Democrats to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and to the entire royal family on the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
    For me personally, during the entirety of my almost 42 years on this planet, there has always been a Prince Philip as the Queen's consort, so in some respects, his passing marks the end of an era. For most of my fellow parliamentarians, it is the same.
    Born on June 10, 1921, on the Greek island of Corfu, Prince Philip was part of Danish and Greek royalty. His father, Prince Andrew, was the son of King George I of Greece and the grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark. This lineage was reflected when, in response to a comment on the quality of his French, he earnestly informed former prime minister Jean Chrétien that he was not an Englishman.
     It would be a gross understatement to simply say that over the course of Prince Philip's lifetime the world has undergone great change. At his birth, the British still ruled an empire that stretched across the globe, and today, after a decades-long and often painful process of decolonization, the United Kingdom is a small island nation that is struggling to define its place in Europe.
    The monarchy, too, has seen significant changes both in its formal role and in the public perception of it. From the time of his marriage to Princess Elizabeth in 1947, and through his elevation to consort of the Queen in 1953, Prince Philip was witness to many tumultuous decades in support of his wife's important role.
    I want to acknowledge and pay my respects to Prince Philip's service as a World War II naval veteran, enlisting as a cadet in 1939, advancing to midshipman in 1940, sub-lieutenant in 1941, lieutenant in 1942 and soon thereafter second in command of the destroyer HMS Wallace. Prince Philip served on many different ships and saw service across the globe, from protecting Australian convoys in the Indian Ocean to seeing battles in the Mediterranean. He finally saw the end of the war with service in the British Pacific Fleet.
    Among the many honorary military positions held from around the world, he was also recognized as admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy, a general of the Royal Canadian Air Force and a captain-general of the Canadian Army.
    As my colleague the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke mentioned earlier this week, Prince Philip will be remembered not only for being the longest-serving consort in the history of the British monarchy, but also for being the person he was. Yes, he was known for many gaffes and for being an expert at opening his mouth and putting his foot into it, referring to it personally as “dontopedalogy”.
     We should also recognize that he was dedicated to encouraging young people to set high goals and work hard to achieve them through the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award, which has the goal of challenging, empowering and recognizing young people and motivating them to set goals and challenge themselves to take control of their lives and futures.
    He recognized the importance of the conservation movement and the importance of keeping our world habitable. He helped found the World Wide Fund for Nature and promoted conservation issues at the highest government and corporate levels. He spoke powerfully and committedly on issues such as biodiversity loss long before they entered the mainstream where they are discussed today. He recognized that if nature does not survive, neither will humans.
    He was a dedicated public servant, keeping an active schedule well into his 90s. The stamina required for this active involvement was reportedly fortified by his adherence to the daily, full-body strength and flexibility regime known as the five basic exercises, which was developed to help get members of the Royal Canadian Air Force into shape without the need for equipment or much space.
    Last, but certainly not least, he was there to support a powerful and strong partner in her duties as Queen.

  (1545)  

    Canada has hosted Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth many times over seven decades, when he came to know the full splendour of our country's geography from coast to coast to coast. I know many Canadians join me today in expressing our deep and sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and to the entire royal family for their loss of Prince Philip.
    May he rest in peace.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to join in the tribute today to a remarkable human being, a royal, and someone who cared deeply about Canada, and the nature and wildlife of this country.
     It was a hot June day in 1987 when I was walking across a farmer's field in Saskatchewan and had the huge honour of meeting His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He was performing the kind of duties that I think he loved the most, which were helping to increase public awareness and support for endangered wildlife.
    We were in the field of a farmer. I remember his name is Grant Fahlman. He was one of the first farmers in Saskatchewan to help with something called operation burrowing owl to try to preserve this very endangered bird, which has sadly become even more endangered since 1987.
    However, His Royal Highness was there in his very strong engagement, as we have just heard from the member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, in the work of the World Wildlife Fund. His Royal Highness was there to increase awareness and increase support. His tour of Saskatchewan in June 1987 included the stop at Grant Fahlman's family farm, as well as going to Last Mountain Lake to see the endangered whooping cranes and sandhill cranes.
    However, what I remark about the most when I think back on that trip was His Royal Highness's extraordinary interest in detail. He had a very sharp eye, and he did not miss a thing. I will give two brief examples. We were walking across the field when he spotted a bit of desiccated excrement, and he stooped down to pick it up and examine it. He handed it to a wildlife biologist who was with us in the field and said, “What do you suppose this is? What animal do you suppose it is?”
    The biologist said, “I don't know. Maybe it's a coyote” and tossed it away casually. His Royal Highness said, “Excuse me, you don't know what it is, and you're going to discard it? Surely we should look into it.” The biologist scampered and found the piece of desiccated excrement, took it with him and promised His Royal Highness that he would study it. Nothing escaped his attention.
     I was there in my capacity as policy advisor the federal minister of the environment at the time, and the burrowing owl relieved himself in the minister's hands. I very discreetly passed my boss a piece of old paper napkin from my purse, so he could wipe his hands off. Somewhat later in the day it was my turn to be presented. Tom McMillan, my boss, turned to His Royal Highness and said, “I want to present you with a member of my staff and she—” at which point His Royal Highness said, “Oh, I know, she provides you with Kleenex”. He did not miss a thing. He had the sharpest eyes I have ever seen and was absolutely attentive to detail.
    He was there also fundraising for Ducks Unlimited to protect our migratory waterfowl, our wetlands and Prairie Pothole. He was there in his capacity as president of the World Wildlife International, a role he held from 1981-96. That is not a small degree of commitment. He was also the vice-president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature from 1981-88.
     His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was dedicated in a way that was more than show. It was not just the occasional event. He went to 50 different countries advocating for wildlife and preservation of key areas of ecosystems. He contributed to saving Canadian old growth in the campaign that took place in those very years to protect the area that is now Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in Haida Gwaii.
    The member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford referenced that Prince Philip was known for the occasional gaffe, but I think that people, wildlife and endangered ecosystems around the world owe an enormous debt of gratitude to this member of the royal family whose sense of duty was extraordinary. His inspiration and his love of the natural world was second to none.
    I join with all of my colleagues today in expressing the deep condolences of the people of Canada to our Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This is an enormous loss to her and to the whole royal family. We express our condolences, and I personally want to express my thanks for the extraordinary honour of having met someone so dedicated to the wildlife, wild spaces and wilderness of Canada.

  (1550)  

    I would like to thank all those who have spoken today in tribute to His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His life was lived in devoted service to his Queen, his country, and the Commonwealth and its people.

[Translation]

     Her Majesty the Queen has lost her most dedicated subject, her companion of more than seven decades. I hope she will take comfort in the admiration and affection expressed by the people of the Commonwealth.
    Pursuant to order made Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the following motion is deemed carried on division:

  (1555)  

[English]

    That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen expressing the House's condolences following the passing of His Royal Highness The 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;

[Translation]

    and
that a Message be sent to the Senate informing their Honours that this House has passed the said Address and requesting their Honours to unite with this House in the said Address.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as it is Thursday, I will ask the traditional question to the government about what will be happening in the next few days.
    As members know, we are in a real stretch now, working here in the House of Commons for 10 weeks out of the next 11 weeks. We are very pleased to serve our people, our constituents in our ridings, here in the House of Commons.
    It is with great honour, privilege and pleasure that I will ask the question. What is the plan?
    This afternoon, we will complete second reading debate of Bill C-15, an act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Tomorrow morning we will start with the debate of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy), followed by the debate at second reading of Bill C-12, an act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada's efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050 in the afternoon.
    On Monday of next week, we hope to complete second reading debate of Bill C-11, an act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts. As all members are aware, at 4:00 p.m. that day, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance will present the budget. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will all be days reserved for budget debate.
    Finally, on Friday, we will continue with second reading debate of Bill C-21, an act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms).

Points of Order

Employment Insurance Act—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    In my statement of March 22, 2021, regarding Private Members' Business, I expressed my concern about Bill C-265, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (illness, injury or quarantine), sponsored by the member for Salaberry—Suroît.
    At the time, I encouraged the hon. members who wished to make arguments regarding the need for a royal recommendation for this bill to do so, which the members for Kingston and the Islands and Elmwood—Transcona did during points of order on April 12 and 14, respectively. I thank them for the precedents and the information they shared during their interventions. I am now ready to rule on the matter.
    During his intervention, the member for Kingston and the Islands argued that Bill C-265 would extend sickness benefits and would thus seek to authorize a new and distinct charge on the consolidated revenue fund not authorized in statute. He added that there is no existing authorization to cover this new and distinct charge and that a royal recommendation is therefore necessary.

[Translation]

     Here is what it says at page 838 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, and I quote:
    Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative.
    Furthermore, a royal recommendation may only be obtained by a minister, the granting of such recommendation being a prerogative of the Crown.

[English]

    In order to determine if Bill C-265 requires a royal recommendation, the Chair can rely on a number of similar precedents, including the ruling made by my predecessor on Bill C-269, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act regarding improvement of the employment insurance system, and Bill C-308, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act regarding improvement of the employment insurance system, both of which would have, among other things, extended the length of the benefit period.
    A reading of Bill C-265 reveals that it would amend paragraphs 12(3)(c) and 152.14(1)(c) of the Employment Insurance Act to increase the maximum benefit period in the case of a prescribed illness, injury or quarantine from 15 weeks to 50 weeks.

  (1600)  

[Translation]

     Clearly, the bill’s goal is to permanently lengthen the period for employment insurance benefits, which would increase the expenditures made under the act’s system. It is, therefore, my opinion that Bill C-265 would increase an existing appropriation and must be accompanied by a royal recommendation before it can proceed to a final vote in the House on third reading.

[English]

    When this item is next before the House, the debate will only be on the motion for second reading of the bill, and the question will be put to the House at the end of this debate.
    I would like to thank the hon. members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division and the ministerial statements, Government Orders will be extended by another 40 minutes, for a total of 70 minutes.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Northern Affairs has one minute remaining in her debate, and then we will go to questions.
    The hon. member's camera is off. We will move on.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Beaches—East York.
    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Beaches—East York, I speak today in support of Bill C-15. I want to start by acknowledging the work of former NDP member Romeo Saganash. It really highlights how the importance of this issue cuts across party lines, and the significance of working across party lines to get important things done.
     I have had many constituents reach out to me in support of implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Most, of course, email or write letters. Some call. Before the election in the last Parliament, when Bill C-262, Romeo Saganash's bill, was before us, I had a constituent, Murray Lumley, who came and met with me in my office and called on me to support that bill, which I did, and encouraged the government of the day to support it. Murray is a thoughtful, caring constituent. He did not vote for me; he worked against me, if I am being honest, in the last election, and I do not expect he will vote for me whenever the next election might be. However, I do want to highlight his efforts, all the same, just as I have highlighted Romeo's efforts. It is important that we emphasize just how this cuts across party lines and how all of us, regardless of political stripe, need to support this really important legislation.
    When we work across party lines, we build trust. Another way we build trust in politics is by keeping our promises. I just want to highlight the platform that we ran on in the last election, which stated:
    Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples charts a path “for reconciliation to flourish in 21st century Canada.”...
    We will move forward with introducing co-developed legislation to implement [UNDRIP] as government legislation by the end of 2020. In this work, we will ensure that this legislation fully respects the intent of the Declaration, and establishes Bill C-262 as the floor, rather than the ceiling, when it comes to drafting this new legislation.
    That promise has been kept through Bill C-15, which was introduced in Parliament in December of last year.
     In substance, Bill C-15 has a lengthy preamble, including that:
[UNDRIP] provides a framework for reconciliation, healing and peace, as well as harmonious and cooperative relations based on the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, non-discrimination and good faith.... [They] constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples of the world....
    It recognizes “historic injustices” and says that “the implementation of the Declaration must include concrete measures to address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination, including systemic discrimination, against Indigenous peoples.”
    In substance, clause 5 states:
    The Government of Canada must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.
     Saganash rightly noted before committee that “the Minister of Justice [already] has an obligation under section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act to make sure that any legislation, before it is introduced, is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”, and he noted that Bill C-15 provides for an equivalent for indigenous rights and treaty rights in this country.
    Clause 6 is the most important section in this legislation:
    The Minister must, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples and with other federal ministers, prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.
    This includes measures to “address injustices” and discrimination and to “promote mutual respect”; “measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy” and accountability; and “measures related to monitoring the implementation of the plan” and annual reporting mechanisms to Parliament.
    Bill C-15 does treat Bill C-262 as a floor, which is incredibly important. It goes beyond, in its preamble, and recognizes the inherent right to self-determination, including a right to self-government.
    In the words of the justice minister:
    Bill C-15 would create a legislated, durable framework requiring government to work collaboratively with indigenous peoples to make steady progress in implementing the declaration across all areas of federal responsibility.
     Is it supported by indigenous communities? Is it supported by experts? Is it supported by the above-noted Mr. Saganash? The answer is yes, an overwhelming yes. There is a letter in support of Bill C-15, with over 200 signatures from first nations, from indigenous communities across the country, organizations, experts and activists, including Saganash, Irwin Cotler, the current NDP member for Winnipeg Centre, and many others. I know that one of the signatories is also a constituent, Kerry Wilkins, who is an expert at the University of Toronto.

  (1605)  

    They write in this letter:
     Parliament has an historic opportunity to advance reconciliation.
[UNDRIP] is a consensus global human rights instrument, elaborating minimum standards for the “survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.” Implementation of these standards is vital to improving the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world, and to upholding Canada's solemn and urgent human rights commitments.
    They go on to note that the measures in Bill C-15 are “important, practical and achievable measures that deserve the support of all Canadians.”
    Two of those signatories, Alex Neve, formerly of Amnesty International, and Brenda Gunn, wrote recently, and separately:
     By any measure, implementing this global declaration domestically will significantly advance reconciliation and strengthen respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples across the country. Not automatically. And not without much hard work ahead, such as the considerable effort—in full collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples—that must be invested in developing the action plan for implementation that will be required.
    They go on to note that it is important as a matter of global leadership and that it “stands to advance Canada's overall commitment to international human rights.”
    Speaking recently to a parliamentary committee studying Bill C-15, Romeo Saganash stated:
    I fully support Bill C-15 being tabled by the federal government in the House.... Government bills can proceed more efficiently, I believe, before the House and the Senate. Bill C-15 confirms the declaration as the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples.
    He goes on to note that there are some amendments he would like to see, but he supports Bill C-15 and acknowledges that it meets his previous bill's commitment in Bill C-262.
    Former chair of the TRC and former senator Murray Sinclair said, “Indigenous people now will be able to negotiate with a stronger hand than they ever have in the past”.
     The Assembly of First Nations said, “The AFN is urging all Parliamentarians to support adoption of a strong implementation framework before the close of this session of Parliament.”
    The ITK calls for the strengthening of Bill C-15, but goes on to say that it strongly encourages all members of Parliament to support Bill C-15 in order to help advance the urgent work of implementing UNDRIP.
    The Métis National Council stated:
     Canada now has the opportunity to assert its place as a world leader in the recognition of the human rights of Indigenous Peoples through this Bill. The Métis National Council fully supports this effort, and we urge members of all political parties to pass this legislation without delay.
     Sheryl Lightfoot, the Canada research chair in global indigenous rights and politics at UBC, stated:
     I am strongly in favour of the implementation model that Romeo Saganash created when he first brought...Bill C-262 before Parliament. This model, which is the foundation for Bill C-15, has a number of elements that I think are crucial.
    First of all, it requires collaboration with indigenous peoples. It also requires concrete action including legal reform and...the creation of an action plan, and it requires public reporting and accountabilities.
...Bill C-15 is advancing the global conversation and setting a very positive example....
    Quite simply, Bill C-15 represents the best approach to human rights implementation that I have seen from around the world, bringing all of these various elements together.
    I previously noted my constituent Kerry Wilkins, who states, “Meaningful incorporation of UNDRIP into Canadian law would improve materially the circumstances, and enhance the autonomy, of Indigenous peoples dwelling here.” He goes on to provide a couple of examples. I recognize I am running out of time, so I will not get into them, unless perhaps I get asked questions.
    Of course, I expect the government will look for ways of improving the bill at committee. I hope to see further testimony at committee that addresses whether a three-year waiting period for the action plan is appropriate and, if it is, whether interim measures might be useful. I am also interested to understand from testimony why the bill does not include a section on power-sharing agreements in the same way B.C.'s UNDRIP implementation legislation does.
    Finally, it is really important to emphasize that so much depends upon implementation, so there are big questions in that regard. This bill is important, but it is important in its potential. Let us pass it at second reading, send it to committee, improve it at committee where possible, and let us get back to the hard work of implementing this important international framework here at home.

  (1610)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member referenced quite a few quotes, so I would also like to reference a quote from Dale Swampy of the National Coalition of Chiefs, who writes in a special to the Financial Post:
    While the affirmation of Indigenous rights is always welcome, the legislation as currently drafted is likely to have negative impacts on the many Indigenous communities that rely on resource development as a source of jobs, business contracts and own-source revenues.
    I have spoken to a number of indigenous leaders and individuals across my constituency and across the country who have shared concern about some of the ambiguity and possible extra layers that would reduce economic opportunities for Canada's indigenous peoples. I would like the member to comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of different things.
     One is that it is curious to me that we would get out ahead of ourselves to determine exactly how this would be implemented, because this is to be implemented in a very codeveloped way in collaboration and consultation with indigenous peoples across the country.
     The second is that its incredibly important to note, because the Conservatives and that member have asked a number questions around certainty, that our Canadian law already says, with respect to the duty to consult, that it varies with the circumstances, from a minimum duty to discuss important decisions where the breach is less serious or relatively minor, through the significantly deeper than mere consultation that is require in most cases, to full consent of the aboriginal nation on very serious issues. These words apply as much to unresolved claims as to intrusions on settled claims.
     Those are the words of our current Supreme Court. This notion of certainty has to be put to bed. We will get increased certainty through collaboration and consultation with indigenous people once and for all.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    I applaud the tabling of the bill, but unfortunately it is a bit late coming. Our NDP colleagues have been introducing bills for the implementation of the United Nations declaration since 2007. The Liberal government has said many times that it is in favour of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. If that is what it wanted all along, why the lengthy delay in introducing this long-awaited bill?

  (1615)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we supported Mr. Saganash's efforts in the last Parliament. I have supported every bill that has come before Parliament, so long as I have been in Parliament, in relation to the implementation of UNDRIP. Romeo Saganash's bill should have passed in the last Parliament but for the fact the Conservatives blocked it in the Senate. That is an unfortunate circumstance, but we are rectifying that in this Parliament through leadership from this government.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the earnestness in which he has supported the previous work of the very great and learned Mr. Romeo Saganash, a friend and mentor of mine, who provided the framework here. However, the hon. member for the Bloc raises some important questions.
    I have a question of my own. I heard the member speak about the ideas of consultation, collaboration and power sharing. There are concerns that the legal frameworks that are already in place have led to scenarios like what we are seeing in Wet'suwet'en and in 1492 Land Back near my home, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy territory. We are seeing these problems exist as well in the Mi'kmaq territory out east.
    Does the hon. member have confidence in the government's commitment to actually having free, prior and informed consent for the collective rights-holders of these treaties?
    Mr. Speaker, this comes up too often and I think this is an inference of a previous question I received from Conservatives in relation to uncertainty. Of course, I am confident that free, prior and informed consent, as referenced a number of times throughout UNDRIP, will be a key part of the collaboration and communications with indigenous peoples in setting down the action plan under Bill C-15.
    What that will entail in the end, as Kerry Wilkins, the expert in my community, and as Murray Sinclair have said, is that it ought to enhance our current framework unquestionably. Let us also remember that, as Romeo Saganash has himself said and as the UN has said in its expert committee's look at free, prior and informed consent, when we are grounded in human rights, we are also looking at not absolute veto considerations, but we are looking at principles of proportionality as they relate to the interest at issue. Therefore, we will see an enhancement of our existing law through the implementation of UNDRIP, Bill C-15 and the action plan. We will also see it building upon this notion of human rights and considerations around proportionality.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Peace River—Westlock.
    I am really pleased to be working and building relationships with the people of the Cote, Keeseekoose, The Key, Fishing Lake and Yellow Quill First Nations and the Métis Nation Saskatchewan in the riding of Yorkton—Melville on Treaty No. 4 and Treaty No. 5 lands.
    I am also very pleased to speak today on Bill C-15, an act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
     It goes without saying that the consideration of this legislation today is a significant moment for Canada, not only because members on all sides of the House, and therefore all Canadians, want to achieve meaningful reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people but because the Liberal government has made a critical misstep toward this goal through the introduction of the bill in its current form. It is my fear that the impact of the bill will result in the opposite of its desired effect.
    The bill aims to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP. Subclause 4(a), for instance, states that “The purpose of this Act is to (a) affirm the Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law”. Further, clause 5 charges the Government of Canada with working “in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.”
     The House will remember calls to action 43 and 44 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, urging the federal government to “to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation” and “to develop a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ”It was in fact the previous Conservative government that adopted UNDRIP in 2010 as an aspirational document.
    Then and now, the Conservatives support the goals and aspirations of this declaration. We support treaty rights and the process of reconciliation with the indigenous people of Canada. However, we remain concerned about the Liberal government’s unwillingness to put forward legislation that clearly outlines the effect and interpretation of key terms within the declaration, such as “free, prior and informed consent”. When it comes to understanding what exactly this term means in a practical sense, the lack of consensus between the federal and provincial governments, among members of the legal community and within indigenous communities themselves is worthy of concern.
    The previous Conservative government, at the time of its inception, opposed UNDRIP, because free, prior and informed consent did not align with Canadian constitutional law. That is why, a few years later, the same government adopted UNDRIP as an aspirational document, not binding law. This was a move in line with three of our Five Eyes partners: the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. It was a decision made with good reason. The wide-ranging provisions within UNDRIP, like FPIC, were found to be inconsistent with Canadian constitutional law.
    Over a decade later, the Liberal government is forging ahead with infusing UNDRIP into the law of the land. However, it has failed to do its due diligence in presenting a bill that can be clearly understood by government and stakeholders. There is a lack of consultation on what purports to be a transformative piece of legislation that will have untold ramifications on our country, indigenous communities and, indeed, all Canadians.
     NTC president Judith Sayers says that the consultative process for this bill lacked mutual agreement and was rushed. AFN chiefs have expressed their concern that no extensive consultations were held. The government is good at partial consultations, but the word “extensive” is mentioned here.
    Late last year, six provincial premiers wrote to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to object to the six-week window provided for input on the draft bill. They stressed the need for “appropriate engagement with provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners on the draft bill” that could “fundamentally change Confederation.” I do not believe that has taken place and any that has is not clearly outlined to the House. The premiers pleaded for time for Canada to fully and meaningfully consider and address the legitimate, significant concerns that we have already raised about the draft bill in its current form.
     It is unacceptable for the government to claim that the time for consultation has been satisfied. I have heard that a great deal today. Concerns expressed at the time of the previous UNDRIP bill, Bill C-262, still exist now. How can the government claim credit for a new era of trust and reconciliation with indigenous communities with such a heavy-handed and sloppy approach to this legislation?

  (1620)  

    As I mentioned earlier, the effect of free, prior and informed consent has been a long-standing concern that has not retreated from the national discourse. It generates more questions than it provides answers.
     Take, for instance, the direct input of indigenous communities. The National Coalition of Chiefs and the Indigenous Resource Network have expressed its concern about ramifications, such as who would have the authority to grant it and the impact it would have on future resource projects. If grant expectations under this model are not met, how will it undermine trust between the Crown and indigenous people for generations to come? Will it deter investment, good jobs and secure incomes from reaching our shores? Indeed, the interpretation of this may lead to consequences beyond Canada's resource development.
    Professor Dwight Newman of the University of Saskatchewan's Faculty of Law, speaking before the Senate aboriginal affairs committee on a previous iteration of the bill stated, “the Court’s interpretation of FPIC is nonetheless subject to uncertainties that have enormous implications for Canada”. Professor Newman's input has merit.
    Again, let us focus on how indigenous communities may be impacted. Clearly, the pursuit of reconciliation and tangible progress for indigenous communities could be stagnated by opaque language like FPIC. Even considering the current constitutional model, one that outlines a duty to consult and accommodate, tangible results can be hard to come by depending on the degree of intrusion proposed. With the implementation of this model, many serious questions are raised, including who might provide their consent in any given circumstance or who speaks for any community.
     Members will recall a sensitive period for our country not too long ago when the decisions of 20 band councils concerning the Coastal GasLink pipeline came into direct conflict with opposition from Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. Opposing groups within the Wet'suwet'en could not come to an agreement about who spoke on their behalf. Speaking before a parliamentary committee, Theresa Tait-Day, a founder of the Wet'suwet'en Matrilineal Coalition, said that the project had been hijacked, despite 80% of the band wanting the project to proceed.
    It has been argued that the passage of Bill 41 in British Columbia, in many ways a mirror of the legislation before us, led directly to the disconnect between the elected band council, hereditary chiefs and government. Many indigenous stakeholders interpreted Bill 41 as the vehicle through which UNDRIP was adopted and therefore established a right to veto construction on the line. Indigenous communities deserve better than the ambiguity that B.C.'s Bill 41 and Bill C-15 provide.
    Other questions remain, such as, how will this apply in situations where indigenous rights include title or the right to occupy lands and use resources? In situations involving unresolved or overlapping land claim disputes, whose consent is required? What form will this consent take in Canadian law? There is a real concern that the government is taking steps to enshrine UNDRIP into Canadian law without a clear picture of how concepts like FPIC will be interpreted in that law.
    As justice minister in 2016, the member for Vancouver Granville said, “simplistic approaches, such as adopting the UNDRIP as being Canadian law are unworkable.” She went on to say, “it's important to appreciate why Canada cannot simply incorporate the declaration "word for word" into law.”
    The Conservatives have been clear and consistent. We believe that UNDRIP is an aspirational document whose goals we support. However, to adopt it wholesale without consideration for lasting consequences is irresponsible. We need a made-in-Canada approach to achieve the type of reconciliation UNDRIP outlines. Indigenous communities do not need a further barrier to achieving the best for their communities.
    Dale Swampy, president of the National Coalition of Chiefs, has spent his professional life in first nations administration as well as the oil and gas industry. In a special note to the Financial Post he wrote that he “know[s] first-hand what happens when federal bureaucracy gets in the way of responsible resource development.” It is his belief that symbolic gestures of reconciliation should not come at the expense of food on the table for indigenous people.
    Reconciliation with Canada's indigenous people means recognizing and affirming their dreams and aspirations to not just be stakeholders but, as I have been told, shareholders. In this case, it is the private sector that has led the way in spending on indigenous businesses.
     One example of nine is Cameco, the uranium company that procured $3.8 billion since 2004 from local suppliers in the riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan, whose member of Parliament is so passionately committed to seeing reconciliation truly succeed. His words I now repeat, “Advocating for jobs, owned-source revenue streams, equity ownership and financial independence is in fact the pathway to self-determination and the solution to many of the social challenges.”

  (1625)  

    The Liberals have been failing to keep their promises, such as ending long-term boil water advisories, and failing to stand up for the future of the natural resource projects that benefit indigenous communities and that they want to be part of. As it stands, this bill has the potential to sow further seeds of division across our country. If it is the government's intention to enshrine an international—
    We will have to end it there. Our time has expired.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Shefford.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. She talked about the problems indigenous communities are facing and access to safe drinking water on different reserves.
    Does she not believe that adopting this program could help foster reconciliation?
    In Quebec, the Viens commission recommended that the declaration be adopted. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls also recommended that the declaration serve as a tool for reconciliation and a means to reduce the inequality of women in indigenous communities.
    I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the point that I am making is that there has not been due diligence done. My comments are not coming from me. They are coming from the indigenous communities around us that are saying this is not clear enough. The government seems to want to take the approach that it takes on so many things: It makes big announcements, it makes big decisions, it implements them, but then all things break loose.
    We need to take the best approach we possibly can to make sure that our indigenous people, our first nations and Métis have the opportunities to truly excel in the ways they choose. I appreciate the comment. They do not want to be stakeholders. They have every right to be shareholders in the economic successes of Canada and they are more than capable of doing so. They want proper due diligence done in defining this situation.

  (1630)  

    Mr. Speaker, UNDRIP was adopted in 2007. We are 14 years into it in Canada, and we still have not domesticated this law. My friend opposite outlined a number of comments made by people who oppose this particular piece of legislation. She has been very selective in picking those.
    My question is quite direct. Are there any circumstances under which the Conservative Party would support UNDRIP in any form? The Conservatives had 10 years to implement it within Canada and they have opposed it every step of the way since being in opposition. Is there any way in which the Conservative Party will support this, or any legislation that hopes to domesticate UNDRIP?
    Mr. Speaker, what the member said is very important to recognize. He said my examples brought forward in the House today are individuals and organizations who do not feel comfortable with this legislation going forward because they do not feel it has had the due diligence done to explain in every way possible the accountabilities, and that I am selectively choosing those individuals and organizations.
    Truly, today in the House everyone has been presenting individuals who support their perspectives. Unfortunately, what that shows is exactly what I am saying. There is not consensus. There is not consensus within the federal government, within provincial governments or within the perspectives of various indigenous groups, including those who are involved in oil and gas opportunities in Canada. They have seen their opportunities shut down because of that inconsistency.
    My concern is that it is clear that the due diligence has not been done. Any consultation has been selective, as the member is indicating in this case, and more needs to be done.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify that “free” means without any coercion, “prior” means before the decision is made, and “informed” is when one has all the information. Every other governance system in Canada is allowed that. They are given free, prior and informed consent to make decisions.
    The only level of government in Canada that is not given that, and it has been proven again and again in the court system, is indigenous governance. This bill is so important because it starts that process.
    Could the member talk about how many indigenous communities want to be stakeholders and how this bill will actually get them there?
    Mr. Speaker, the stakeholders who were involved in moving forward and purchasing the TMX did not get that opportunity. There are all kinds of examples of situations, such as with the Wet'suwet'en, where there is not enough clarity, and that clarity has not been provided according to various indigenous groups across the nation.
    If we want to move ahead as quickly and efficiently as possible to make sure we have shareholders, not stakeholders, side by side with us we need to do what they are calling on us to do, which is to make this consent absolutely clear, and it is not.
    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Edmonton—Wetaskiwin, Natural Resources; the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable, Finance; and the hon. member for North Island—Powell River, Fisheries and Oceans.
    Before we get to resuming debate, I want to give a quick shout-out to my father-in-law, who is tuned in. Ian, stay well, and we hope to see you soon.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock.

  (1635)  

    Mr. Speaker, hello to your father-in-law as well from northern Alberta: Peace River—Westlock, or as I like to call it, the promised land. We have 7,500 dairy animals and we are the honey capital of Canada, so we are literally flowing with milk and honey.
    Peace River—Westlock was settled on a promise called Treaty No. 8. This involved 14 first nations, three Métis settlements and over 100 communities. I overlap with about 500 other elected representatives of band councils, town councils, school trustees and others from a big swath of northern Alberta. Every day, I have the honour and privilege of representing them here in Ottawa.
    Bill C-15, the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, has been a widely debated piece of legislation over the last number of years. It is my honour to bring my voice to that today, representing the people of northern Alberta.
    One of the things that I hope I bring as a member of Parliament is that I typically mean what I say and say what I mean. I wish that were the case with the Liberals on this particular piece of legislation. I find it interesting that even though I will be voting against this particular piece of legislation and the NDP will be voting for it, we actually agree on the substance of it: that it could make a significant change to the way the governance of this country happens. The NDP continually say that it would be a significant change and we say that it would be a significant change. It is always interesting that the Liberals continue to say they are going to bring this in, but there will be fairly minimal impact on the way we do business or the way that governance happens in this country. It is fascinating.
    Section 4(a) in this bill declares that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will have application in Canadian law. That is probably the crux of the bill for me, the tripping-over point that I have. No other declaration from the UN necessarily has application in Canadian law. We have not legislated that for any declaration other than UNDRIP.
    Mr. Speaker, you may be familiar with the work I do to combat human trafficking in this country. Human trafficking is a scourge of this country. It is a growing crime that is happening, often within 10 blocks of where we live. One of the tools that I use in combatting human trafficking is a Palermo protocol. The Palermo protocols are part of a UN document and declaration that outlines how to identify a victim of human trafficking. The challenge with that is it is not a legislative tool. It is not a piece of law, it is a declaration. It gives principles under which countries should operate. I advocate all the time for us to bring Canada into alignment with that Palermo protocol. We have made several attempts to do that over the last 30 years: essentially, recognizing human trafficking and bringing human trafficking offences into the Criminal Code, and dealing with how to identify somebody who is being trafficked. All of those things come in, and we get a framework and idea of how to combat it from that Palermo protocol.
    Another UN instrument that I use regularly is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. That is, again, something that helps to identify whether the rights of a child are being upheld or being violated by holding a given situation up against the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. When there is a default or issue and we are not able to hold a particular case up against the rights of the child or Palermo protocol to ask why a human trafficking victim is not able to get justice, we can look at the Palermo protocol and see that it indicates, in this instance, that in Canada one of the areas of the Criminal Code is that there is a requirement for the element of fear.