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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 173

CONTENTS

Monday, March 27, 2023




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 173
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


  (1100)  

[English]

Auditor General of Canada

    It is my duty to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 7(5) of the Auditor General Act, the spring 2023 report of the Auditor General of Canada.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), this report is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

[English]

Points of Order

Senate Amendments to Bill C-11 

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order this morning respecting the government's Motion No. 2 concerning the Senate amendments to Bill C-11.
    In my view, the notice of motion engages the rule of anticipation and cannot be proposed to the House later today.
    Normally such a point of order should be raised when the motion is actually proposed to the House, but given that it is listed on the Projected Order of Business for consideration in an hour's time, the complexity of the issues involved and as a courtesy to you to find some time to prepare a ruling, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to rise as soon as the House opened this morning.
    On March 8 and March 9, the House considered a government motion concerning the Senate's amendments, a motion which is now referred to as Motion No. 1 on the Notice Paper, to which my colleague, the hon. member for Lethbridge, has moved an amendment.
    Flash forward to Friday evening, when today's Notice Paper was published, we see this new motion, Motion No. 2, from the Liberal government. They are both very long motions, so I will spare the Speaker and the House from hearing them each read out loud.
    Suffice it to say, I studied them very closely to see what might be different between them. Lo and behold, the English versions of the motions are absolutely identical. When one refers to the French versions, one spots the difference, which is a single instance of a “1” and a “2”, in Roman numerals, being transposed. That is it.
    Let me explain for the House briefly what that means. The Liberal government made a drafting mistake; it got its motion wrong. Now it wants a do-over. If one is a golfer, one might call it a mulligan. All this is on a policy Liberals are mistakenly pursuing on a bill they keep botching and on amendments they keep flubbing, and now a motion they cannot even get right, and those people want to control the Internet.
    Setting that aside, I will get back to the procedural concern. The substantive effect of these two motions is identical. Indeed, the text in one official language is identical. The words used in the other official language are all the same. It is just two numbers that are transposed.
    Having established these motions are, for all intents and purposes, identical, let me refer to page 568 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which explains the rule of anticipation. It reads:
    According to this rule, which applied to other proceedings as well as to motions, a motion could not anticipate a matter which was standing on the Order Paper for further discussion, whether as a bill or a motion, and which was contained in a more effective form of proceeding (for example, a bill or any other Order of the Day is more effective than a motion, which in turn has priority over an amendment, which in turn is more effective than a written or oral question). If such a motion were allowed, it could indeed forestall or block a decision from being taken on the matter already on the Order Paper.
    It goes on to say:
    The rule is dependent on the principle which forbids the same question from being decided twice within the same session. It does not apply, however, to similar or identical motions or bills which appear on the Notice Paper prior to debate. The rule of anticipation becomes operative only when one of two similar motions on the Order Paper is actually proceeded with. For example, two bills similar in substance will be allowed to stand on the Order Paper but only one may be moved and disposed of. If the first bill is withdrawn (by unanimous consent, often after debate has started), the second may be proceeded with.... A point of order regarding anticipation may be raised when the second motion is proposed from the Chair, if the first has already been proposed to the House and has become an Order of the Day.
    Though the government House leader might argue that questions about this rule do not come up often, there are a series of precedents through the years that are relevant to the issue before the Chair today.
    Mr. Speaker Michener, on March 13, 1959, at page 238 of the Journals, held, in relation to the rule of anticipation concerning nearly identical pieces of legislation:
...I first considered whether the motion should be accepted to stand on the Order Paper at the same time. I am satisfied that this was quite in order, but I came to the conclusion that it would be quite improper to permit a second debate on identically the same subject matter as the subject matter of a debate which was already proceeding. In other words, the House is not going to occupy itself on two separate occasions under two separate headings with exactly the same business. That would not be reasonable, and I can find no support or authority for following such a course. Thus I have come to the conclusion that this bill must stand, as well as the other bill in the same terms, or at least in terms for exactly the same purpose, until the bill which was first moved has been disposed of either by being withdrawn, which would open the door for one of these other bills to proceed, or by way of being approved, which would automatically dispose of these bills because the House would not vote twice on the same subject matter any more than it would debate the same subject matter twice.

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker Lamoureux, on July 7, 1969, said, in a ruling found at page 1317 of the Journals, concerning a government motion to amend the Standing Orders, anticipating a motion to concur in a report of the former standing committee on procedure and organization:
    I might say, having taken into account the arguments advanced by members of the opposition, that if the honourable Member for Grenville-Carleton had moved his [concurrence] motion I would have recognized that the rule of anticipation would have given his motion precedence...to the motion that is now before the House in the name of the President of the Privy Council. I would have so ruled...
    A much more recent predecessor of yours, Mr. Speaker, considered the matter of two committee instruction motions that varied by a difference of just five words. The Chair ruled, on June 11, 2014, at page 6649 of the Debates:
    Upon examination of the section of O'Brien and Bosc, upon which both House leaders have relied extensively for their arguments, it seems to the Chair that the key concept is the question of whether or not the motions are substantially the same.
    Upon examination of both motions on the notice paper, it does seem that the motions are substantially the same and that the principles cited by the government House leader as to the practice of the House are persuasive to the Chair. Accordingly, we will not be proceeding with the motion at this time.
    The rule of anticipation is a concept which is not unheard of in the current Parliament, or to you, Mr. Speaker, for that matter.
    On May 11, 2022, the Deputy Speaker, at page 5123 of the Debates, ruled that Bill C-250, the private member's bill proposed by my colleague, the hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, could not be debated and would be rendered pending, following the second reading of Bill C-19, a budget implementation bill that contained clauses similar to my friend's bill, because:
     The House should not face a situation where the same question can be cited twice within the same session, unless the House's intention is to rescind or revoke the decision.
    After Bill C-19 had received royal assent, you made a further ruling, Mr. Speaker, on September 20, 2022, at page 7341 of the Debates, to discharge Bill C-250. In doing so, you said:
...there is a long-standing principle to keep or avoid having the same question from being decided twice within the same session
    A similar case can be found in your June 6, 2021 ruling, at page 6142 of the Debates, whereby Bill C-243, sponsored by the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, could not be proceeded with following the second reading of a Senate public bill, Bill S-211. Bill C-243 has been listed on the Order Paper every sitting day since, under the heading “Pending Business”.
    To recap the current case, the government's Motion No. 1 concerning the Senate amendments to Bill C-11 was moved, as I mentioned, on March 8, and then became an Order of the Day. Therefore, Motion No. 2 may only be proceeded with if Motion No.1 has been withdrawn, as the various authorities would observe. Otherwise, proceeding with Motion No. 2 would offend the rule of anticipation and cannot be proposed to the House, as forecasted, at noon today.
    Mr. Speaker Casgrain's ruling on February 24, 1936, at pages 67 and 68 of the Journals, explains a possible way forward for the government concerning its Motion No. 1:
     The adjournment of the debate, last Thursday on the second reading of Bill No. 2...meant that the question shall again be considered at a future sitting when the order for Public Bills will be reached. This is what is called, in parliamentary procedure, appointing a matter for consideration by the House. [Erskine] May...gives many precedents showing that the discussion of an appointed matter cannot be anticipated by a motion...There is sufficient similarity in the Bill and the Motion to confine them to one debate...The difference in details between the two propositions may be dealt with by moving amendments... but it is not sufficient to justify a duplication of the debate. It is a well known principle that the same question cannot be raised twice in the same session.
    The difference between the government's Motion No.1 and Motion No. 2 could be addressed by an amendment to Motion No. 1. It is that simple, really.
    All the Liberal government needs to do is allow the debate to continue on the amendment moved by the hon. member for Lethbridge. Once that debate has eventually concluded and the vote taken, the government could, in the event that my colleague's thoughtful amendment is not adopted by the House, of course, once debate resumes on the main motion, move its own amendment to achieve the change Motion No. 2 contains, which would be up to the House to discuss and decide.
    If you were to find my point of order to be well taken, Mr. Speaker, it would not be the first major procedural error the government has made in pursuing its flawed policy to control the Internet. On June 15, 2021, you ruled out of order many committee amendments made to Bill C-11's predecessor in the previous Parliament because the Liberals on the Canadian heritage committee had run roughshod over the rules and broke several of them in trying to rush the bill through Parliament before the opportunistic and unnecessary early election the Prime Minister called that August.

  (1110)  

    Now it seems that the Liberals are equally hasty in ramming their Internet control bill through the House once again. It is almost as if the government is in a rush to clear the decks for something to come.
    I hope you will find in favour of my point of order, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to your response.
     I want to thank the hon. member for his point of order. After consultation with the Clerk, as the hon. member knows, the next motion will start at noon and it does not give us a lot of time to come up with a resolution. I do have some information from last week when it came up. I will allow it to start at noon, but we will come back with a response as soon as possible to the hon. member's point of order, likely tomorrow at some time.
     I thank members for their patience and understanding.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[Translation]

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

     The House resumed from February 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C‑234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C‑234, which may seem like a hijacking of the carbon pricing legislation, but in fact is not. This is an exceptional measure and the Bloc Québécois supports it. Pricing pollution to change behaviours is a good measure. It is smart to use regulation and taxation with the very specific intent to change behaviour and change the use of a combustible or a larger vehicle for something that is available.
    In the case of agriculture, when it comes to drying grain and heating buildings in particular, these alternative solutions are not yet available nor economically viable at this time. A transition in these energy areas is not very likely for at least five years. When we tax with the view to change behaviour, but the behaviour cannot be changed, we essentially end up taxing for the sake of it. We end up increasing the cost of food and the cost of farming production while reducing farmers' margins when they are already so thin.
    Farmers often wind up having to pay either for big corporations or domestic policies, with no control over the situation. Let us consider the 35% tax on Russian fertilizer. Everyone here is unanimous in wanting to support Ukraine and defend democracy. Everyone wants victory for the people of Ukraine and, ultimately, total and full protection of its territory, without giving anything away, not even Crimea, which has been occupied for much longer. However, who pays the price? Farmers in eastern Canada. They have no choice but to pay that 35% tax, which led to a hike in fertilizer prices elsewhere; however, it is mostly people in Quebec and eastern Canada who paid that tax.
     The government says it will reimburse farmers and that these poor farmers matter to it, but it cannot even do that because the billing was a total mess. Some co-ops assumed the costs while others billed everyone, even if the fertilizer did not come from Russia. It is a total mess. Now, it is about to be included in a program for farmers. I hope that it will go to farmers who paid the tax. That is a lengthy aside, but everyone can see where I am going.
    The government says that it knows that there are no alternative solutions right now, but that it must send a signal and that it will reimburse farmers. However, that is not what is happening according to what we are hearing from people in the sector. What people are telling us is that they are being reimbursed, but on a limited basis and that the process is very complicated because there are so many forms to fill out. The best way to help people in this situation is to create an exemption, which is what Bill C‑234 would do.
    It is also important to understand that Bill C‑234 is in keeping with the spirit of the carbon pricing legislation, which already exists and exempts farming fuel. It is important that members of the House remember that Bill C‑234 already provides an exemption for farmers. It seems that the government forgot to include “propane” and “natural gas” in that section. These terms will be included so producers who need to dry grain and heat buildings, such as poultry barns where significant changes in temperature must be made quickly, can continue to operate their farms without having their production costs skyrocket needlessly.
    I would remind the House that the transition is not feasible at this time. Why am I saying the transition is difficult or not feasible at this time?

  (1115)  

    Take, for example, electricity. According to testimony we heard, there are electric dryers that could have comparable efficiency. However, that requires access to power. Three-phase power is not available in 80% of rural Quebec. I am not sure what the situation is in the other provinces, but in Quebec it is not available everywhere, so farmers do not have access to it.
    We can talk about biomass. Experiments are already being conducted on biomass. This could have potential, but it is very costly and its development is still in the very early stages. It is okay and its development is off to a good start, but it is not quite ready yet.
    Then there is geothermal energy. This is another great alternative, except that geothermal heating does not allow for large variations in intensity. Grain that is damp when harvested needs to be dried, which requires intense heat for a short time. It is unfortunate, but the energy sources capable of doing that are still pretty limited. That is the idea behind Bill C‑234. The bill also addresses the exemption for the agricultural sector. I urge parliamentarians to always keep that in mind.
    We will be talking about culture later. It is in some way a similar principle. We are negotiating free trade agreements and talking about the cultural exemption. We should talk more about the exemption for the agricultural sector. We need to give ourselves the power to protect key, sensitive sectors. Agriculture is the basis for everything.
    Politically, farmers often have a hard time lobbying, because there are too few of them to have voting clout in the next election. We know how the four-year election system works. Perhaps this is an unwarranted judgment, but many politicians' decisions are geared towards the next election.
    Someone told me something this week that struck me. I am trying to keep it in mind and use it: “There is a difference between politicians and statesmen. Politicians base their actions on the next election, while statesmen base theirs on the next generation.” That is what we must do. We have a duty, all of us here in the House, to be statesmen and vote for measures that are good for our society and the common good. That is why Bill C-234 must be passed.
     I would like to reassure environmental groups that we did things properly. Some people wrote us to ask us what we were doing there and to tell us not to vote for this because it creates a carbon tax loophole. In my opinion, we are not talking about a loophole here. We are talking about a temporary exemption.
    The members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food are so reasonable that, two years ago, in 2021, we voted on a similar bill, what was then Bill C-206. Two years ago, we said that we were going to grant an exemption, but it is not true that alternatives will never be available. If we want alternative solutions to be developed, then we need to send a message to that effect and offer an incentive for such solutions. We therefore included a 10-year sunset clause. We did that in 2021.
    In 2023, we are again dealing with the same bill, because we have a minority government that really wants a majority. We do not know when it might get the urge to call another election. Let us hope that we will have time to complete the work on our bills.
    Two years later, I can say the members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food have been very consistent. To ensure that the duration is not extended, we included an eight-year sunset clause. Clearly, we work well together. I am proud of the members of the committee. Naturally, we do not always agree, but in general the members of this committee act as politicians should, in other words, they act for the good of the farming community and for the next generation, not the next election. There is a big difference there.
    Passing Bill C-234 amounts to endorsing the principle of a fair and equitable transition for the people who feed us every day and who are currently facing a major challenge. That is the difference. I invite members to read Bill C‑234 carefully before voting and then vote in favour of it.

  (1120)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is always such a great honour to rise for the great communities of Timmins—James Bay. Talking about agriculture is extremely important in a region so dependent on the agricultural families in beef, canola, rye and dairy. There is such great pride to see young farmers coming in to build up our region from the traditional lands in Temiskaming all the way up through emerging lands in Cochrane, Val Gagné and Matheson.
     It is really important to point out in this discussion today, happening a week after the latest IPCC report, what we are facing globally in terms of the climate crisis. I know it makes my Conservative colleagues very uncomfortable when we talk about climate reality, because it is something they pretend does not exist. However, with respect to vulnerabilities on the planet right now, there is no industry more vulnerable than agriculture, because those businesses are dependent on weather and the vagaries of weather and what is happening with growing fires, storms, droughts and floods. These have caused enormous amounts of damage. One has only to look at British Columbia, which, in 2021 suffered $17 billion in damages from the climate storms, the wildfires, the droughts and severe flooding. Agriculture took severe losses from all that.
    Therefore, finding ways for agriculture to be part of the conversation about sustainability is fundamental because it is also recognizing that farmers and the agricultural community are thinking about sustainability all the time. It is part of the fundamentals of their business.
    In Canada, about 250,000 farmers look after and manage about 68 million hectares of land. Through these farmers, over the last 20 years, we have seen incredible improvements in sustainability, soil management practices for crops and grazing, and rising standards that the farmers have pushed for in terms of water management. Furthermore, since 2000, Canada's agricultural soils have been sequestering more carbon than was emitted. That is the result of the sustainability commitments made by the farming community.
    However, we have to look at it in a larger context because it has been reported that, since the 1960s, agricultural yields around the world are 21% lower than they would have been if we had not been dealing with erratic temperatures and the increase of over 1.1°C around the world. Even as we are working harder for sustainability, we are losing ground.
     It needs to be said that the inputs in agriculture, including fuel inputs and the need for fertilizer, are all fundamental costs that are borne by the farming community and individual farm families. We also know there are significant drivers in some areas in terms of climate risk. We can look at nitrogen, for example. We know that, if there is better management of nitrogen, the losses in the environment will be only a fraction of what they are now. The latest study said that there could be a $500-billion societal benefit for food supply and human health if we start to put in mitigation measures on nitrogen, which would cost in the area of $20 billion.
    Therefore, my question for the Conservatives, who only ever go on carbon tax and nothing else with a vision for dealing with the climate crisis, is this: Where is the commitment for investments in agriculture to deal with nitrogen mitigation?
    My colleagues in the Liberal Party are more than willing to give billions of dollars to big oil, but farmers have to deal with the costs themselves. Therefore, nitrogen is something we have to talk about. It is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Runoffs from nitrogen are causing algae blooms that have created dead zones in waterways. We all know this needs to be addressed, so let us start looking at investments in that.
    In terms of the input costs for fuel, they are extraordinary costs that are borne by farmers. We need to start looking at how we can move toward more sustainability so that Canada's agricultural community will truly be the world leader.

  (1125)  

    The measure that is being brought forward is about a carve-out provision to ensure that the fuels that are being used are not covered by the carbon tax, and I think that is a reasonable solution. However, the Conservatives only have the one tool. They have one hammer, which is the carbon tax, and they pound on the table all the time. When I talk with farmers, they say they are looking at long-term ways they can make their farming operations sustainable with regard to the climate commitments that Canada and the world are looking at for the reduction of fossil fuels. They know that the more we burn, the more damage it is going to do to the land in the long term.
    I look at the issue of tractors and diesel. There is the potential, if the federal government was willing to work with partners, to invest in technologies so that we could not only move more to batteries but also allow for automation because we cannot find workers on many of the farms to sustain what is happening.
    I have heard Conservatives tell me that we cannot use batteries in diesel tractors. Have they ever been to a mine? There are 70-tonne trucks running underground that have moved from diesel to clean energy sources. What we are not seeing is a vision to support farming to be able to do that, because right now these costs are borne by farmers. Farmers are not in a position to shift their tractors to batteries. Financially, it is not possible. However, for example, with carbon capture, big oil companies are making record profits, but they are still coming for handouts and they are still expecting that the people of Canada will cover those costs.
    To me, this is a fair question: Why are we willing to invest billions in the oil sector, which is already hugely profitable, when we are not willing to ask farming communities how we could start to move toward sustainability, and how we could remove our dependence on diesel and other fuels? That is a conversation we need to have, and it raises questions about the grid. We do not have a grid in rural Canada that could even carry electrification through batteries and other sources to get to farms. Farms are on their own.
    We have the one tool before us right now. We need to deal with the high input costs of farming, of drying grain and of sustaining barns. These are big operations, and they are taking heavy amounts of cost in inputs. They cannot pass those on to the consumers. That is the reality. These are mostly family-run farm operations that have limits in terms of how much of the cost they can accept.
    I am more than willing to support this motion to get to committee so we can look at it. However, I am urging my colleagues, in light of the latest IPCC report, to get serious about addressing issues such as nitrogen, which is much more of a planet killer than carbon dioxide. We need to be looking to find the alternatives for fuels such as diesel.
    If we are going to insist that every other sector of the economy shifts, then we need to be showing the shift in agriculture. Agriculture is a fundamental of sustainability. Agriculture is the area that takes the biggest hit, but the problem is that agriculture bears the costs of the transition, and agriculture bears the cost of the damage that is done to the economy by other sectors that do not do their part.
     I would urge my colleagues from all parties to work together to put a vision forward with sustainability measures, with support and with conversation with agriculture. It is the farmers who understand environment better than anyone else, it is the farmers who understand how to run their operations, and it is the farmers who will have the solutions, ultimately, to make farming sustainable in the 21st century so that the world is sustainable in the 21st century.

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, before I start, I want to extend my condolences to the Cossey family who farmed down the road from where I grew up near Chipman, for the loss of their beautiful Veronica, a much-loved, well-known and universally admired nurse, farm wife and community member from Lamont county.
    I appreciate this opportunity to stand up for people like the Cosseys, for people all across Lakeland, and for hard-working farmers and agricultural workers across Alberta and throughout Canada, against the rising costs brought on by the NDP-Liberal costly coalition's carbon tax.
    I thank my Conservative colleagues, the MP for Huron—Bruce who brought in this bill and the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South who introduced it as Bill C-206, which was agreed to before the Liberals called the unnecessary 2021 election. That put it back to square one and blocked crucial relief for farmers of the carbon tax on their farm fuels for the past two years.
    I am proud to represent all kinds of farms, ag businesses and farming families across Lakeland, which is the fourth largest rural riding in Alberta. It is home to nine first nations and Métis communities, and more than 50 municipalities and summer villages. It takes almost an hour to drive from end to end. Lakeland's economy mainly relies on agriculture, natural resources and small businesses.
    I hope colleagues from urban and suburban ridings can begin to imagine the distances, infrastructure challenges, equipment required and costs involved in the daily lives and work of the people and businesses across an area larger than 86 countries around the world, especially for those family farms and related businesses that make a living off the land and who feed the world using the highest environmental and production standards of any farmers on Planet Earth.
    Where I am from, while a lot of us use Starlink now for Internet, we still cannot haul cattle or seed a crop with a Tesla, and almost none of the towns have public infrastructure and transportation. It is in those rural areas that Canadian farmers live and work to feed their neighbours and cities.
    As one of the world's largest producers of canola, oats, wheat, flaxseed and pulse crops, and the fifth-largest agricultural exporter in the world, Canada's agriculture sector accounts for almost 7% of GDP and sustains the livelihoods of 2.4 million Canadians. It is vital.
    Farmers are the backbone of Canadian rural communities. They work hard days and late nights to put food on our tables. Canadian farmers compete with each other and globally, so they constantly innovate for the most efficient production of crops and livestock to maintain, improve and steward the land, water and air on which their lives literally entirely depend. They strive to reduce costs and offer high-quality but affordable products. However, despite their generations of excellence in environmental stewardship and emissions reduction, the Liberals slapped them with an ever-growing carbon tax. Farmers now struggle to provide for their families, to maintain their businesses, to contribute to their communities and to pass on their way of life.
    Constituents often share personal trials and tribulations, and my dedicated staff and I work as best we can to solve the problems we can impact. We all agree that some of the most heartbreaking conversations are in farmyards or in the constituency office where farmers, some whose roots stretch back so far they have awards that celebrate more than a century of their families' blood, sweat, tears and work, painfully say they have resigned themselves to hope that their kids do not try to take it on and that they pick a different path because the costs are insurmountable. It is no wonder, when some farmers will face $150,000 a year in taxes just seven years from now if the Liberals stay on course.
    Canadian farmers and ag-based communities have faced major challenges in recent years, as collateral damage in trade wars and diplomatic disputes has made the normal uncertain weather, growing conditions and global prices even worse. Back-to-back disasters have hit Lakeland with alternating harvests from hell and major flooding. Farmers lost a significant portion of their crops, with some being completely wiped out, and other farmers ran out of grazing area and feed for their livestock.
    Farmers have clearly requested one thing: Axe the expensive and unfair carbon tax so they can continue to feed Canadians and the world.
     Michelle, a farmer from Blackfoot, says that carbon tax hikes are “crippling”. She says, “In my opinion, the Federal Minister of Agriculture is not taking this issue seriously.”
    Farmers already have to navigate challenging conditions, and carefully plan and save so they do not go bankrupt during bad years. When rural families have to watch their once-a-year paycheque burn, drown, rot, freeze on the field or get loaded for processing because they cannot afford to feed all year, or the costs for grain drying and heating barns are skyrocketing and too expensive, situations that are completely out of their control, the government should not use a tax to make it worse and take even more away.
    Unfortunately, the Liberals' approach to farmers and farm families is mostly broken programs, endless platitudes and, at worst, layers of punitive policies and outright hostility to their way of life.

  (1135)  

    In 2016, the then ag minister said the Liberals would not exempt farmers from the carbon tax because “the impact is a very small percentage of operating costs”. Frankly, that is just not the reality for farmers, ranchers and rural Canadians. Farmers need specialized, expensive equipment powered by fuels that have no alternatives to grow and harvest their crops, to irrigate and to heat barns and buildings.
    The carbon tax will cost the average farmer $45,000 a year overall, with estimates of $36,000 a year for grain drying alone. The worst part is that the Liberals were warned, but they ignored the CFIB's analysis that farmers would already be paying an average of $14,000 a year in federal carbon taxes when it was just $20 in 2019. The Liberals hiked it 150% a year ago, and days from now the Liberals will triple that carbon tax compared to 2019. Let us talk about the worst April Fool's joke ever.
    It is not just the Conservatives saying the carbon tax will cost more. The independent, non-partisan PBO confirms it is a net loss for most Canadians. The truth is that 60% of all households pay more than they get back. That will rise to 80% in Ontario and Alberta by next year. The average Canadian family will pay an extra 400 bucks, and more than 840 bucks in those provinces, in carbon tax this year after Liberal rebates. Farmers and ranchers of course will pay even more, but Michelle from Blackfoot is right. The Liberals do not care about the disproportionate damage of their carbon tax for rural Canadians and producers.
    It is even more galling that the Liberals refuse to reverse course. Almost half of Canadians are $200 away from bankruptcy, and food prices are skyrocketing so that Canadians are already skipping meals, turning down the heat or cutting out meat and veggies to make ends meet because of the Liberals' reckless tax and inflationary spending agenda. The Liberals' rebate program, which they claim is an offset, is really just a blanket return to producers that is entirely based on eligible farming expenses that needs a total of over $25,000 to qualify. It ignores the distinct impacts of carbon surcharges on particular farms, sector productivity and competitiveness.
    The carbon tax affects the entire supply chain. It makes it more expensive for farmers to produce food, and more expensive to ship it, which raises the cost of groceries for all Canadians. In many cases, farmers are so cash-strapped, they cannot afford any more capital-intensive innovations and technologies for productivity and sustainability gains. That is the exact opposite of what carbon tax proponents claim they want.
    A chicken producer and mixed farmer, Ross, from Lakeland, recently said to me in exasperation that he doesn't know what the Prime Minister wants him to do: use coal or just quit farming. Obviously, a full carbon tax exemption for natural gas and propane, lower-emitting, more affordable and actually available fuels would make a real difference for farmers struggling to pay their bills. However, the Liberals do not listen to everyday Canadians, Conservatives or apparently even their own public servants. They impose policies with arbitrary and impossible targets without a second thought to how it will hike costs for everyone and hurt some even more.
    Of course, the Liberal government's own studies long warned of the major added costs of the carbon tax for farmers and all Canadians. In 2015, Finance Canada said imposing a carbon tax would “cascade through the economy in the form of higher prices...leading all firms and consumers to pay more”. That prediction came true. The Lloydminster Ag Exhibition Association also says the carbon tax is “crippling” and too much of a burden. Its bill is already $30,000 a year in carbon tax alone. Its building got major energy retrofits, but the carbon tax still hiked bills 30% and taxed away any cost savings.
    However, the Liberals are happy to add disproportionate costs to farmers, farm families and rural residents, even while the carbon tax causes everyone economic pain with no discernible environmental gain. That is not where their votes are.
    Ultimately, all Canadians, farmers, workers, consumers, business owners, the middle class, people on fixed incomes, the working poor, urban residents, all consumers and anyone who eats will pay the price. Conservatives will axe the carbon tax completely, but today we can at least exempt farmers from the carbon tax on fuels they cannot do without, for which there are no alternatives to affordably or immediately replace, and save them tens of thousands of dollars a year on necessary farming costs and operations.
    I want to thank, again, our Conservative colleague from Huron—Bruce for giving us this common-sense opportunity to turn hurt into hope for Conservative farmers. I am proud of the agricultural sector in Lakeland and all across the country. I am grateful to all the farmers, producers, their families and their workers. That is why I support Bill C-234, and I encourage all MPs who claim to stand with Canadian farmers and ranchers to do the same.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to join the proceedings virtually to talk about Bill C-234, but let me start by saying it has been a difficult day for my family. This morning, we had to put down our beloved Bernese mountain dog, Sulley. If you would permit me, I would like to put his memory on the record in Hansard.
    As all of us do as colleagues, I have what I call the “grand bargain” in terms of the partnership I have with my wife in order to be able to pursue this job to the greatest extent that I could. Back in 2019, when I first got involved in public life, that was the bargain, that we had to get a dog. My wife said that if I was going to be away participating in debates, she needed someone at home with her. Sulley has been with us ever since my first day in public life. He was a special dog. I know everyone who has an animal would say that, but with his demeanour, his poise and his presence, he is going to be missed. This is a small way in which I can make sure his memory is on the record and in Hansard for life.
    It has been a difficult morning, but let me also reiterate the importance of working virtually. My colleagues know that if there is any opportunity for me to be in the House, I will be there, but this morning gave me an opportunity to be with my wife and my dog and also be able to speak to this really important bill. It is not without its challenges, but the virtual tools are extremely important for parliamentarians to be able to do their work.
    Let me get to Bill C-234. This bill would expand existing exemptions under the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act. When this government was developing its carbon price plan, there was considerable thought given to exempting on-farm fuels from the carbon price. Let me just say that I have had a front-row seat to this particular bill as the proud chair of the agriculture committee. We have had the opportunity to study it and to hear from witnesses, and that was one thing that was covered.
    There are a number of existing exemptions for those involved in the greenhouse sector for on-farm fuel use. There is already no carbon price applied. However, at the time the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was developed, it seems as though there was not necessarily a lot of thought given to grain drying and, particularly, to barn heating for livestock. That is exactly what this bill tries to do. It would extend to what a number of policy-makers feel was a small oversight at the time of the original drafting of the legislation that brought the carbon price into force.
    At its core, carbon pricing is about changing behaviour and driving innovation to be able to get around what is a market signal around the price. Sometimes that is easier said than done. In the case of grain drying, we have heard repeatedly from witnesses who have knowledge on this subject that although there may be some techniques down the line and there is work being done, there is nothing commercially available to Canadian farmers at a scale that is needed right now to be able to meet that demand.
    On barn heating, certainly it is a little less objective that there are no alternatives, but the committee unanimously amended this legislation to make sure that we were focused on just barn heating for animals. When we think about poultry barns, propane and natural gas are often used to make sure that even in the coldest winters the animals are protected and are in a comfortable temperature. That source is needed and although technologies are forthcoming, they are not readily available at this time.
    That brings me to my second point, which is around the sunset clause. Parliamentarians are not saying that this is forever. This is an eight-year exemption sunset clause, which is anticipating that some of the technologies that carbon pricing, government policy, and innovation in the private sector alone are driving are going to make it perhaps more plausible by around 2030-31 that this bill will not necessarily be necessary and farmers can be making those important investments accordingly.
    That brings me back to the point that it is difficult for farmers to be able to get around this carbon price, in the sense that there are not those technologies. Of course, we would all want to be able to do so, but if there are no readily available techniques to do so, it does have a punitive measure to a certain extent.
    I am sympathetic to the government position, to a certain extent, because for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, the carbon pricing regime is seen as a way to incentivize major transitional projects and investments to reduce carbon emissions, by economists and governments around the world. There are 46 other countries around the world that have some form of carbon pricing.

  (1145)  

    There are people, organizations and groups all seeking exemptions along the line. I can appreciate the concern from the government's side that if we give an exemption in one particular area it may create a cascading impact to suggest that more should be done for other industries. That may be the case, but on this particular issue, as it relates to the evidence we heard, the government is well within its right to move in this direction without necessarily opening the door to other exemptions where the technology may not be available. We are talking about something quite fundamental, which is input costs associated with farmers across the country, which plays into the price of food.
    The government, to its credit, has sought to redress this issue. It was in what was formerly Bill C-8. What happens is that all the revenue collected under the carbon price at farm level is aggregated and then brought back to farmers on the basis of the size of revenue on the said farm, so there is a return model.
    However, as has been noted in the debate, this does not take into account the actual elements of what a farmer may produce. For example, a dairy farmer may not actually be grain-drying and may not be incurring some of those costs, so there is no ability to return it on an equitable scale that actually takes into consideration the farmers who do not have the readily available tools, to be able to return that in a way that is not being punitive to certain industries.
    This bill is the best pathway to be able to move forward.
    The second thing is around the affordability of food. There have been lots of conversations about that. Our agriculture committee is studying the price of food right now. We have had the opportunity to hear from grocery CEOs, farmers and industry stakeholders. I do not think this should be overplayed, but even though it will not be a silver bullet in a moment when food prices are high, it will be a small step toward alleviating some of the costs that may be incurred, at a moment when there is not really an ability to actually innovate and drive the technological change we may want to see.
    The member for Timmins—James Bay kind of suggested the government has no programs in place to help incentivize technological change and innovation on farm. I would disagree, respectfully, with the hon. member. This government has put nearly a billion dollars over the last two budgets toward just that: measures that help drive down emissions on farm. This government is supportive. This government has put money back to farmers to do exactly that. In this particular instance, it is about correcting a small miscue that would have happened back in 2018 when this legislation was originally drafted.
    Mr. Speaker, you and I, both in the Annapolis Valley, share one of the largest agriculture ridings and concentrations of farms in Atlantic Canada. It is the largest concentration east of Quebec. With the federal pricing coming into effect in Nova Scotia by July 1, this bill has added importance for my constituents and the farmers in Kings—Hants. It is reasonable and sensible public policy, and I will be supporting it when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday.
    I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to this bill and the opportunity to memorialize our boy, Sullivan. I will leave it at that. I look forward to seeing members in Ottawa later this evening.

  (1150)  

    I am sorry to hear about Sulley.
    Continuing debate, I recognize the member for Huron—Bruce for his right of reply.
    Mr. Speaker, I first want to thank the agriculture critic, the member of Parliament for Foothills, for his great work on this bill. Although I think this is a better bill, the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South had a similar bill in the previous Parliament, and I want to thank him for his work.
    I want to thank all the members of Parliament who spoke to this bill and brought up some great points, as well as the people on the agriculture committee, the farm groups and, most importantly, the farmers from all across the country who have contacted members of Parliament, including myself, to express how important this bill is, especially at this time.
    If we think about what the member for Kings—Hants said, who is in a different party but understands the value of this bill, when we look at drying grain, there is no viable option. When we look at heating a livestock barn, whether it is for hogs, layer hens, broilers, turkeys or whatever it may be, there is no viable option at this time. It is fundamentally important and ethical for those farmers to be able to heat their barns and provide a climate for their livestock to grow and provide food on the plates at the tables of Canadians from coast to coast. In my mind, when we look at this bill, there is no carbon tax on farm for diesel or gas. What we are asking for is an exemption on propane and natural gas for them to dry their grain, or even for something like growing mushrooms in a building, which is a perfectly acceptable thing under this bill as well.
    The Liberal government tried to address that with the rebate it brought in a couple of years ago, but it falls so short in providing reasonable compensation for farmers that it is really not acceptable. It provides $1.73 per $1,000 of allowable expenses, so if farmers have a million dollars of expenses, they will get $1,730 back with the carbon tax rebate. Any members who have farmers in their ridings know that at harvest time in the fall, or with the monthly bills to heat or cool their barns, the carbon tax bill far exceeds the $1,730 for which they qualify.
    Another thing I would highlight briefly is that farmers are asked to be the government's line of credit. What I mean by that is this. If we look at the HST rebate that many farmers get, whether they file quarterly, semi-annually or annually, they are the government's line of credit regarding that. With respect to all the business risk management programs, they are the government's line of credit. Everything happens and then they file at the end of the year and maybe get a rebate. Once again, the program that the Liberals created also forces farmers to be their line of credit, so we are looking to alleviate that to cut costs.
    I just have a couple of minutes to go, so the other thing I will say is this. If we look at the underused housing tax that has just come up here, it is another example of the government bringing in something without consulting farmers. This has caused chaos in the farming community. For farmers who own multiple farms and maybe have a home for their family, their adult son or daughter, or maybe their hired staff, that has created a whole pile of confusion. I know the Minister of Revenue is working to address it, but it is another example. There is a carbon tax on farmers, as well as an underused housing tax on farmers, when we should be supporting farmers. They are the fabric of this country. They put food on the table. They are the best and we really need to support them.
    If we look at innovation, there has been so much innovation in the last century. Some things are great; some are not great. However, with respect to agriculture, if we look at emissions per horsepower and just use that as a target, and if we look at the old David Brown equipment from 50 years ago and compare that to what John Deere, Case IH or Kubota puts out today, there is no comparison. They have done a great job with respect to the NOx and SOx. On farm, the environmental farm plan, the nutrient management plans, cover crops, no-till drilling and strategic spraying, all these things are tremendous.
    Therefore, we want to get this bill to the Senate. We want the senators to deal with it in an appropriate way, which we know they can do, and really make a big difference for farmers across the country.

  (1155)  

    I want to thank all members of Parliament for considering this bill. The vote is coming up on Wednesday. We want a recorded division on that vote so we can see each person in this House take their place and show their support for farmers one vote at a time.
    Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion.
     If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, I would request a recorded vote.
     Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the division stands deferred until Wednesday, March 29, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, with the unanimous consent of the House, I am quite prepared to begin Government Orders at this time.
    Is it agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1200)  

[English]

Online Streaming Act

Hon. Diane Lebouthillier (for the Minister of Canadian Heritage)  
    moved:
    That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that, in relation to Bill C‑11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, the House:
agrees with amendments 1(a)(ii), 1(b), 2(a), 2(b), 2(c), 2(d)(i), 2(e), 4, 5, 7(b)(i), 8, 9(a), 10 and 12 made by the Senate;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 1(a)(i) because the amendment does not refer to broadcasting undertakings that comprise components of the broadcasting system which may cause interpretative issues in the application of the Act;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 2(d)(ii) because the amendment seeks to legislate matters in the broadcasting system that are beyond the policy intent of the bill, the purpose of which is to include online undertakings, undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet, in the broadcasting system;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 3 because this would affect the Governor in Council’s ability to publicly consult on, and issue, a policy direction to the CRTC to appropriately scope the regulation of social media services with respect to their distribution of commercial programs, as well as prevent the broadcasting system from adapting to technological changes over time;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 6 because it could limit the CRTC’s ability to impose conditions respecting the proportion of programs to be broadcast that are devoted to specific genres both for online undertakings and traditional broadcasters, thus reducing the diversity of programming;
proposes that amendment 7(a) be amended to read as follows:
“(a) On page 18, replace lines 29 to 34 with the following:
“(a) whether Canadians, including independent producers, have a right or interest in relation to a program, including copyright, that allows them to control and benefit in a significant and equitable manner from the exploitation of the program;””;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 7(b)(ii) because the principle that Canadian programs are first and foremost content made by Canadians is, and has been, at the centre of the definition of Canadian programs for decades, and this amendment would remove the ability for the CRTC to ensure that that remains the case;
proposes that amendment 9(b) be amended by deleting subsection 18(2.1) because the obligation to hold a public hearing both before and after decisions are taken by the CRTC will entail unnecessary delays in the administration of the Act;
respectfully disagrees with amendment 11 because the amendment seeks to legislate matters in the broadcasting system that are beyond the policy intent of the bill, the purpose of which is to include online undertakings, undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet, in the broadcasting system, and because further study is required on how best to position our national public broadcaster to meet the needs and expectations of Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to rise yet again on Bill C-11. I have had the opportunity on a couple of occasions already to address the House on what I believe is an important piece of legislation.
    When looking at Bill C-11, members need to reflect on the Canada Broadcasting Act in terms of when we last saw substantial changes. We would be going back to the early 1990s. In fact 1991 was the last time we had a thorough debate in regard to the Broadcasting Act itself. I would suggest that members should reflect on 1991 compared with 2023.
    Before I get into that, I just want to commend the Senate, having had the opportunity to go over the bill and giving it a great deal of effort. I want to compliment the senators on their efforts in bringing forward a series of amendments. Obviously not all the amendments are acceptable from the government's perspective. There are a number that we will not be proceeding with. I want to make very quick reference to a couple of the ones that cause a little discomfort, if I could put it that way.
    I am thinking about amendment 2(d)(ii), which seeks to legislate matters in the broadcasting system that are beyond the policy intent of the bill. The purpose of the bill is to include online undertakings, undertakings for the transmission or retransmission of programs over the Internet in a broadcasting system.
    Then if one goes to amendment 3, this would affect the Governor in Council's ability to publicly consult on and issue a policy direction to the CRTC to appropriately scope the regulation of social media services with respect to their distribution of commercial programs. It would also prevent the broadcasting system from adapting to technology changes over time.
    There are a few amendments that we disagree with, looking at the scope of the legislation and wanting to keep the integrity and the intent of the legislation intact.
    Some of the amendments that we would agree with include 1(a)(ii), 1(b), 2(a), 2(b), 2(c), 2(d)(i), 2(e), 4, 5, 7(b)(i), 8, 9(a), 10 and 12. These amendments that were proposed by the Senate are fairly well received.
    Having said all that, as I indicated, I wanted to provide my compliments and thank the Senate for the thorough review of the legislation.
    I know that for some of us, making the legislation stronger is of great benefit. We want to see that. We saw some changes or modifications that were talked about at the committee stage. It is important that we recognize why we have this legislation here in the first place. I referred in my opening remarks to Bill C-11 being all about updating the Canada Broadcasting Act.
    I have had the opportunity to draw the comparisons from the previous 1991 technology to where we are today. For all intents and purposes, there is no real comparison. It is almost like two totally different worlds. Bill C-11 would put the system, the platform versus our traditional broadcasting, on a level playing field. Not to support Bill C-11 is to say that it is okay to continue in the fashion that we are currently going, where there is an unlevel playing field for those traditional broadcasters versus what is happening with online platforms.

  (1205)  

    If we take a look at 1991, and I have referenced this in the past, we used a telephone line for Internet, and we actually called into it. We would hear the buzzing and so forth, and ultimately a double click that said we were now online. The type of computer technology used at that time had a fraction of the speed and the capacity of what we use today. In fact, things such as Disney+, Crave, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube were virtually non-existent back then, so the Canadian Broadcasting Act did not reflect the technology and the advancements that would come in the years beyond 1991.
    The legislation would put all those platforms on a level playing field because we recognize that Canadian content really does matter. One only needs to look at those traditional media outlets and the impact the Broadcasting Act and Canadian content have had on the traditional media forms: the CTVs, the CBCs, the radio programming that is out there and so forth. I suspect that if we looked at many of the stars we have today and in the past, they would recognize that Canadian content mandates ensure that Canada is better reflected in what is actually being produced and promoted. This is not only the case here in Canada, but the mandates also, in a very real and tangible way, enable Canadians to become sensational hits outside of Canadian borders.
    I can tell members that at the end of the day, some of the programs I watched when I was growing up existed, in good part, because of the Canadian content laws. If we did not have them back then, I do not know to what degree we would have had some of the programs or the success we have witnessed.
    In the Liberal Party, we recognize our arts community as an industry that not only provides jobs and opportunities but also reflects our heritage in many ways. Who we are as a nation is often seen in the types of programming that come out of Canadian content. This is something that should be encouraged. On many occasions, I have used the example of Folklorama, because I really believe Folklorama embodies so much, in terms of our heritage, that it is worth mentioning again.
    Once a year for two weeks, Manitoba, and in particular Winnipeg, comes alive with our celebration of diversity and heritage. I attend some of the pavilions. There are roughly 50 pavilions. There are 24 or 25 that are one week long, and then the following week there are another 24 or 25 pavilions. By touring the pavilions, one may see some amazing talents. There are performers who will act, sing and provide all forms of different services in the production and hosting of these pavilions.
    I would go deeper by saying that when I see some of these young singers or performers, it is not just during that one week. It becomes a venue for them to ultimately showcase their talent. However, we will see that they are actually practising, rehearsing and often getting other gigs, if I can use the word “gigs”, throughout the year.

  (1210)  

    Many of these performers, actors and singers will often get to the next level where they will participate in the film industry, or we will hear them on the radio. These are types of things that we should be encouraging.
    On Saturday night, I was at the Canada Life Centre, where the Winnipeg Jets play, and we had some guests from the Philippines: Moira DelaTorre and company. It was a super-fantastic show. Thousands of people came to witness it. Prior to that show, some incredible local talent was highlighted.
    I say that because events such as that, the Folklorama events and many types of events take place in arts and performance throughout our communities and virtually in every region of our country. We have the potential to support those events by getting behind Bill C-11. If they understand and appreciate our heritage and the potential industry and how it can deliver for Canadians, all members should be getting behind Bill C-11. It does not take too much to reflect on some huge international success stories.
    I would use the example of Schitt's Creek to counter what the member opposite is saying. Some of the actors originate from some good Canadian content in previous years. Many of these actors and singers get their opportunity to contribute, especially in their earlier years, in part because of Canadian content and if not directly then indirectly. I can say that Schitt's Creek is a wonderful production here in Canada, and many people can understand and appreciate values that are being espoused here in Canada. The program is recognized worldwide because of all the awards that it has received.
    One can talk about endless numbers of actors, singers and performers who have made it big on the world stage. A lot of that would not have been possible if not for directly or indirectly ensuring that we have Canadian content. That is why I believe members need to reflect on the importance of Bill C-11 with respect to levelling the playing field.
    I would also like to mention the jobs that are created. If not every week then every other week it seems that there is some form of production taking place in Manitoba. In other provinces and territories, it may be more so or less so. All I know is that there is a healthy industry there to support a growing industry as a whole. Within that, there are jobs that are contributing in a very real and tangible way. Therefore, Bill C-11 would do more than just promote Canadian content; it would also ensure a healthier and more vibrant industry. As a direct result of that, some of the small centres are actually seeing productions being carried out. I think of a program like Corner Gas from the Prairies.

  (1215)  

    These are productions, I would suggest, if not directly, then indirectly, that are provided the opportunities because of issues such as Canadian content. There has been some movement toward Canadian content from different platforms, but nowhere near enough. When we think in terms of what the legislation would do, it would be a modernization of 1991. It says that one has an obligation to contribute.
    More specifically, what would the legislation do? It would bring online streaming services under the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Act. It would require online streaming services that serve the Canadian market to contribute to the production of Canadian content. It would prioritize support for the content from francophone, indigenous, LGBTQ2+, racialized and other equity-seeking creators. It would ensure online broadcasters showcase more Canadian content. In essence, it would modernize outdated legislation and bring the system into the 21st century. This is what the legislation would do and, for whatever reason, the Conservative Party is voting against the legislation.
    Let me tell colleagues what it is that the legislation would not do. The Conservatives will try to give a false impression by trying to ratchet up hard feelings toward Bill C-11 or by providing support for misinformation about the legislation.
    This is what the legislation would not do. It would not impose regulations on the content that everyday Canadians post on social media. There is one Conservative member who is anxious to get up. I can tell by the comments she has consistently been making. Such members do a disservice to Canadians when they try to say anything other than the fact that it would not impose regulations on the content that everyday Canadians post on social media. To say otherwise is not true. It would not impose regulations on Canadian digital content creators, influencers or users. It could not be more clear than making that statement, yet we still get members of the Conservative Party who will say that it would.
    Mrs. Rachael Thomas: You know what would make it more clear? Keeping the Senate amendment.
    Order. We are in the first round of debate here. Of course, the hon. member has an unlimited time to present his thoughts. The next speaker will have the same amount of time to get her thoughts out as well. I am more than happy to allow her to ask the first question when that time comes. I just want to make sure that the conversation stays calm in this chamber.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, I will get back to what the legislation would not do. It would not censor content or mandate specific algorithms on streaming services or social media platforms.
    When I sit down and the member opposite stands up, she will give all sorts of contradictions to some of the things that I am saying here, yet we know for a fact that it would not do that. One can ask why and I will pose that question after I finish talking about what I think is probably the most important thing that this legislation would not do. It would not limit Canadians' freedom of expression in any way.
    Last time I spoke on this legislation, I think earlier that day I got an email from one of my regulars. We all have regulars. This individual, I suspect, may not be overly sympathetic to me or my party. He was being very critical. He said that Bill C-11 was going to take away his freedom and he was not going to be able to communicate the way he wants to communicate in terms of the Internet, or be able to express himself. He said we were putting limitations on this particular individual.
    We all know that is not the case. What happens often is that an opposition party, and over nine times out of 10 it is the Conservatives Party, will oppose legislation. There are key things that it likes and it will amplify those. In this case, it is trying to give the false impression that Bill C-11 has an impact on a person's freedoms. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    I take great pride in the fact that a Liberal government many years ago, before I was elected for the first time in 1988, brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We are the party that guarantees rights and freedoms. When we look at what Bill C-11 is all about and the work that has been done on this legislation, it is not like it is new. This is legislation that has been debated now, in one form or another, for years.
    It has been debated for years, yet the Conservative Party is still stuck on wanting to raise money. It likes to say the government is attacking Canadians' freedoms and their ability to speak. Then it says if people agree and want to donate to its party, please do. The fundraising will hopefully come to an end on this issue.
    Even members of the Bloc are relatively supportive of the legislation. In fact, I think the Quebec legislature actually passed a unanimous resolution supporting the legislation. The creators and the individuals who are so impacted, not only today but yesterday, are thinking about the future and are supportive of the legislation.
    This is legislation that would make a positive difference in every way if we stick to the facts. If we want to talk about rumours and false information, it could be an endless debate as the Conservative Party of Canada has clearly demonstrated.

  (1225)  

    As the next speaker who stands up will clearly demonstrate, it will be all about how big government, in co-operation with the Bloc, the NDP, the Green Party and most Canadians, is trying to limit our freedom of speech and ability to upload documents onto the Internet, whether it is a cat file or whatever it might be. That is the type of thing we have to deal with.
    I ask my Conservative friends to give it a break. Let us look at the facts and move on. This legislation went through the House before the last election, when it was first brought in, and then after the most recent election, it was brought back in. It went through second reading, and there were interesting debates and discussions during the committee stage. It then came back here for report stage and third reading, and ultimately passed on to the Senate, which has had the opportunity to take a look at the legislation. It brought forward a number of amendments, and the government has agreed to a number of those amendments.
    It is time we pass this legislation. There is no justification to do otherwise outside of the Conservatives' desire to raise more money on false information. There is no justification. If we want to support the industry and level the playing field, now is the time for us to support it. Let us get this legislation through the House of Commons.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member made quite the accusations against this side of the House. He was, of course, borderline unparliamentary in his language.
    Nevertheless, he makes a few false points. He says that in the legislation, the government does not go after user-generated content. That is interesting to me because we heard from legal expert after legal expert, content creator after content creator and witness after witness, both at the House of Commons committee and at the Senate committee, that in fact the legislation in its current state does.
    The Senate heard those concerns and it tried to fix the legislation in that regard by taking a part of clause 4 out. It would have removed user-generated content. However, the government has decided to make sure the amendment is not accepted. Further to that, the government has decided that the amendment to remove clause 7 is not accepted.
    Let me explain the impact of this. Clause 7 gives cabinet the ability to direct the CRTC with regard to this legislation. That means there is obvious opportunity for political interference, which, under any government, whether this government or successive governments, is wrong and should rightly concern Canadians. Further to that, user-generated content, under clause 4, absolutely is scoped into this legislation. The government had an opportunity to accept the amendment from the Senate, but it has decided not to.
    If we put those two together, we can quickly see that cabinet does in fact intend to direct the CRTC to regulate Facebook videos or cat videos, as the member says. Does he have anything to say in response to that?
    Mr. Speaker, well, Amazon has a great sale on tin hats.
    At the end of the day, I—
    We have a point of order from the hon. member for Lethbridge.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, but the hon. member across from me just referred to me as if I was wearing a tin hat. I referred to amendments brought forward in the Senate that are on paper. To refer to me as if I am some whacked out individual wearing a tin hat is totally inappropriate and an attack on my character, which is inappropriate in this place. I would ask for him to show some decency and offer an apology.
    With a follow-up to that point of order, we have the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, if the member had called her a whacked out individual, in no uncertain terms that would be unparliamentary. However, there is nothing unparliamentary about a sale on tin hats. I think it would be a real threat to freedom of expression if parliamentarians were not allowed to talk about sales on tin hats.
    We are getting into debate.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the comments that have offended the member.
    Members will notice that the member was saying “if this” and “if that”. If all of these combinations of things occur, then something could happen. Well, the minister, me and many others here on the floor and inside the committee have made it very clear that this is not the case.
    The member talks about clause 4, so I will note that the minister's intention has always been clear to exclude the content of Canadians and social media creators. Some online platforms only act like broadcasters right now. Those are familiar streaming services like Netflix, Crave and Disney+. Other online platforms consist entirely of user-generated content. They are clearly excluded in proposed section 4.1.
    The member knows this, yet she, along with others, continues to say it. That is why I say it is a form of misrepresentation of what the legislation is doing. We are not in any way doing what the member is suggesting. It is just wrong.

  (1230)  

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, I am astounded by what I am hearing. I am not the one responsible for this file. Speaking of which, I want to acknowledge my colleague from Drummond.
     This is the second version of this bill. It is not about changing everything. It is about ensuring the promotion, protection and development of our artists and creators. I myself come from the cultural community.
     If we are talking about $70 million in losses each month, it is because someone here has not understood the importance of culture, because it is over $1.5 billion.
    What are we waiting for when we know that there will be a review in five years as set out in the sunset clause? It has been overdue since 1991.
    I would like my colleague opposite to tell me why the official opposition is digging in its heels and stubbornly fearing freedom of expression so much.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member puts quite well trying to understand the official opposition and the obstructionist role it is playing as we try to modernize Canada's Broadcasting Act. As I said, the essence of the legislation is to ensure there is a level playing field and that there is Canadian content. Canadian content, in the past, has been clearly demonstrated to be very effective. One only needs to look, from a historical perspective, at how successful it has been at elevating, encouraging and developing local artists of many different forms in different regions of our country.
    Those who support our arts community should get behind this legislation. The member brought to my attention that the economic costs of not doing so are very real and tangible. Let us show the arts industry that we genuinely care. We have had all sorts of discussions over the years, so let us get on with it and pass the legislation.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the frustrating elements of dealing with Bill C-11 is that, on the one hand, the Liberal member, whom I do not think mentioned Facebook or Google once, is talking about Corner Gas, a television show I have not seen in 15 years, as though it is the cutting edge of Canadian technology. I think we should focus on what is at hand. On the other hand, we have the Conservatives claiming that taking on some of the richest corporations in the world and making them pay into the system is going to lead to the son of Pierre Elliott blocking people's access to cat videos. That is their position.
    I know if we blocked access to cat videos, it might cause a lot of problems for the Conservative backbenchers, who have a very short attention span during question period, but I want to ask my hon. colleague this. Number one, is the government trying to ban cat videos? Number two, what about Facebook or Google threatening to ban access to Canadians' use of online journalism? That is the question. We have never heard the Conservatives have a problem with Google telling Canadians they are not going to be allowed to read online news articles, because they are being blackmailed by the tech giants. Is the government going to stand up for Canadians' right to access information, not just cat videos but news content that Google or Facebook is threatening to block?

  (1235)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am personally a dog person. Between cats and dogs, I like dogs. However, whether it is cat or dog videos being uploaded on Facebook with their owners, it is great to see and is encouraging. In no way, as I have pointed out and tried to make as clear as possible, is this bill going to put any sort of limitations on individuals.
    At the end of the day, Bill C-18 deals with a good part of what the member was referring to. That is the online news act, which would ensure that big companies, such as the Googles and the Facebooks, pay their fair share. All we are asking for, whether it is in this legislation or Bill C-18, is to ensure that we are levelling the playing field and that everyone is contributing a fair share. In this case, it is about Canadian content.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact that we are debating Bill C-11 in a political context and in terms of what my constituents see as a barrage of false information about it taking away freedoms is very distressing. However, it is also not perfect legislation.
    I want to tell my hon. parliamentary colleague, the parliamentary secretary, that I absolutely could not agree more that this bill does not affect freedom of expression. That is protected in the Broadcasting Act and in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, likewise, I do not understand why the government removed Senate amendments that make it very clear the bill would not affect user-generated content. I am concerned about that because I think it needlessly confuses the situation. We need to pass Bill C-11 to protect Canadian writers and Canadian artists in a context where their access to work has been declining rapidly because of online streaming services.
    Mr. Speaker, what we have seen over the last number of months is a great effort by a large number of people to ultimately see if there are ways we can improve the legislation. We have had recommendations at the committee stage, between second and third reading, and now today we have amendments proposed by the Senate, most of which we are accepting. Where there are changes that go outside the scope of the legislation, we are recommending that we do not accept those changes. However, all in all, I think we have a good piece of legislation here, which has been made even better with some of the amendments proposed by the Senate.
    Mr. Speaker, imagine for just a moment someone going into a bookstore. As soon as they walk in, there is a guide, and they are allowed to go through this bookstore only with his or her help. Now, in this bookstore, there are yellow books, purple books, blue books, green books and red books, and the red books are the only ones that the guide will take that person to. The yellow books, the green books, the blue books, the purple books and the pink books are all there, seemingly available to the consumer, but the guide is not permitted to take them to look at those books. The guide is only permitted to take the consumer to the red books. Of course, in theory, we have this entire store with all of these lovely books, but at the end of the day, the guide will only take the consumer to the red books.
    A person might ask to go through the bookstore on their own without the assistance of the guide, as he seems rather ridiculous, but no, that is not an option. They must go through the store with this guide because that is the rule of the store. This is the Internet under the Liberal Government of Canada if Bill C-11 passes. The Internet will be guided through a Liberal government's lens. The Liberals will determine what content Canadians can and cannot see.
    Now, in theory, there is this big, wide open Internet with all of this content. However, the vast majority of that content will be bumped down in priority or, in other words, made undiscoverable, and the red content will be made top priority and moved toward page one. This is where Canadians will be pointed to. When they go on YouTube and want to find information they care about, watch videos they are passionate about or explore topics they want to learn more about, the government will make sure they are pointed toward videos that the government has curated for them to watch. That is what Bill C-11 is all about.
    An individual might say they will use their search bar to look for things they wish to watch. No, they will not, because the government will take control of their search bar and direct them toward the things the government wants them to watch. That is how the Internet will be curated. That is how it will work.
    Legal experts came to our committee at the House of Commons and also appeared at the Senate. At the House of Commons, we heard from several who likened the bill—

  (1240)  

    We have a point of order from the member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting the member, but the interpreter is indicating that there is an earpiece close to the microphone. This is causing sound problems. The earpiece needs to be moved further away from the microphone.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that, with Bill C-11, those who enjoy online streaming platforms such as Netflix or Disney+, or videos on a platform such as YouTube, or maybe even just scrolling through Facebook looking at people's pages, these individuals would be impacted in the kind of content they could access and watch. Bill C-11 would determine the type of information that is put in front of them. Bill C-11 would determine the content that is put in front of our eyeballs.
    When I say by Bill C-11, what I mean is that, according to clause 7 of the bill, it would be cabinet who could determine, through the CRTC, what Canadians can see, post or hear online. Again, it would be cabinet, based on clause 7, who would be given that authority. That is scary. It is scary for any government in power because it would mean that cabinet, which is partisan, would be directing what we can see, say or post online. Instead of giving a viewer more of what they want, YouTube would be instructed to give more of what the government wants. Again, this is very scary for most Canadians.
    The government will claim, as the hon. member just before me did, that this bill is about supporting Canadian culture or levelling the playing field, but that is not true. Bill C-11 would amend the Broadcasting Act by bringing the Internet under its provisions.
    In order to understand the effect of this, we need to understand why the Broadcasting Act was put in place in the first place. In the early 20th century, the Broadcasting Act was put in place to regulate TV and radio because those are finite commodities. There are only a certain number of radio stations or TV stations, so in order to make sure both official languages were represented within these platforms, the government determined they should be regulated so French language and culture would be protected and would be given space within these spheres.
    Further to that, there was a definition given to Canadian content. We call it CanCon. There was this determination that a certain percentage of the content would be Canadian, or CanCon. The goal was to protect our culture, to make sure not only that it was American content making its way to Canada but also that Canadian content, things produced here, and there is a whole host of other criteria used, would be given space.
    That is within the realm of TV and radio, which is limited, but now we are dealing with a space that is infinite, that is unlimited, which is the Internet. Anybody who wants a website can have a website, no matter their language of choice. Anybody who wants to have a YouTube channel can have a YouTube channel. Anybody who wants to have a space within TikTok, Instagram, etc. can have a space. We are no longer dealing with a finite resource.
    The government does not need to regulate what content should be prioritized and what content should not be because we are no longer dealing with limitations. There is space for everyone.
    I would plead with the government to perhaps look back on the record of what former prime minister Jean Chrétien had to say to this. In 1999, he faced a similar question about the Internet and whether it should be regulated. After undergoing a thorough investigation and a public inquiry, the determination was made that it should not be. He determined the Internet was so different than TV and radio that to treat it the same would actually stifle progress. After numerous public consultations, because there have been many done since Chrétien, here we are willing to function in a regressive way rather than maintaining the progressive stance that was taken by Jean Chrétien.

  (1245)  

    I will read what the directive stated in 1999. It said, “The commission [the CRTC] expects that the exemption of these services [Internet] will enable continued growth and development of the new media industries in Canada, thereby contributing to the achievement of the broadcasting policy objectives, including access to these services by Canadians.”
    In other words, the determination was made that the Internet would not within the scope of the Broadcasting Act and that it would not be regulated. The reason for that was because there was a belief that innovation, advancement and growth would take place if it were left alone. There was a belief that that opportunity would be seized by all sorts of people from all sorts of regions with all sorts of backgrounds and different linguistic ways.
    I would invite the government to consider its regressive stance and pull this legislation. On the Internet, everyone has a spot to showcase their talent. On the Internet, every single individual in this country has an opportunity to thrive, should they wish to.
    Most people in this country have a smart device. One needs nothing more than that to showcase talent and make a name for oneself. The gatekeepers have been removed. In fact, it has never been easier for Canadians to succeed. It has never been easier for creators from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds to reach not just a Canadian audience but a global audience as well.
    For this legislation to build walls around these individuals and keep them hemmed in within Canada is so egregious that it is hard for one to even fathom the reason for such legislation. Why would we punish our young creators? Why would we punish the next media content creators? Why would we insist that a regressive form must be kept and that progress should not be celebrated? It baffles me, but I am not the only one. It baffles Canadians from coast to coast, whether it is legal experts speaking out on this topic, digital-first creators speaking out or Canadian consumers who simply want a choice.
    The fact is that the gatekeepers have been removed. A creator used to have to put together a pitch or a package and bring it to a gatekeeper, such as CBC, Corus Entertainment, Bell Media or Rogers, and they would have to plead with them to accept their package, to accept their idea and to accept their creativity. That used to be the way it was done.
    With the Internet, we have now entered this magical space where creators, innovators and thought leaders get to put their content out there and allow the Canadian people themselves to determine whether they like it or not, whether they want to watch it or not. We have removed the gatekeepers. It is incredible.
    Instead of celebrating how amazing that is, the government is hell-bent on putting legislation in place to make sure that we maintain these old, antiquated ways. Why is that? Is the very nature of the arts not something that should propel us into the future? Is it not something that should have forward momentum? Is it not something that should be creative and innovative in nature? Is that not the whole point of the arts? Why would we hem these individuals in?
    For the minister to say that this bill somehow modernizes the Broadcasting Act is incredibly disingenuous, as I have laid out. The minister is failing to account for the tremendous progress that has been made and the creativity that has been allowed to flow.
    For example, let us take Justin Bieber. He went big in approximately 2013. The way he went big was because he put out a few songs on YouTube and he got discovered. He did not have to put together a big media package, though he could have. He did not have to depend on gatekeepers to either accept him or reject him. instead, he could put his talent out there. His talent was discovered, and we know that he went big. He is a Canadian artist we are proud of.

  (1250)  

    There are many more like him who are aspiring. By putting a bill like this in place, by putting Bill C-11 in place, we are saying to the new generation not to bother. We want to subject that next generation to the same rules that we subjected artists to in the 1970s. Forget progress. If one wants to engage in progress, perhaps one should consider moving to the United States of America, South Korea or the U.K., but in Canada Bill C-11 puts this massive banner up that says we are opposed to innovation, progress and celebrating artists.
    Bill C-11 ultimately will do two things. First, it will censor what we can see online because the government will dictate the content that is there. Second, Bill C-11 would determine the extent to which creators are allowed to thrive. In other words, the government will go through and pick winners and losers. Some content creators will be deemed Canadian enough and other content creators will not make the cut. If they make the cut, they will be promoted. If they do not make cut, they will not be promoted.
    There is nothing progressive about censorship. That is exactly what this bill is about. It is about censoring Canadians and what they can see, what they can hear and what they can post online. It is about censoring artists, whether they have access to an audience and to what extent that access is granted.
    When speaking about this bill, Margaret Atwood, who is an extremely well-known Canadian author, did not mince her words. She was pretty direct about it. She called it “creeping totalitarianism”, which is pretty damning. Those are not my words, but Margaret Atwood's.
    To understand this a little bit more, we have to go back to the origin. We have to go back to the origin of this bill. We have to talk about the motive because I think that is very important for Canadians to understand.
    This bill, we know, started out as Bill C-10 in 2020. It has gone through a number of iterations since then, but the worst parts of this bill remain intact. In fact, one could argue that it is actually worse than ever, in part because it has had opportunity to change. The government had an opportunity to hear from witnesses. The government had an opportunity to hear from experts, and the government made a decision to ignore those voices. The government has had an opportunity to respond to the Senate amendments, which were very thoughtful and reasonable, and the government is making the decision to disregard most of those amendments. One could argue then that the government is actually wanting this bill to be as egregious as possible.
    What brought us here anyway? Why is the government so hell-bent on Bill C-11 going through the way that it is? The evidence would say it is because of broadcasters wanting to maintain power and wanting to hold money. There are these large broadcasters, CBC, Bell, Corus Entertainment, etc., and they are limited by CanCon rules. A certain percentage of the content shown on their traditional streaming platforms has to be Canadian content.
    Of course, this acts as a limitation to them. Those are their words. That is what they have said. They do not view that as an opportunity to show more Canadian content. They testified at committee that they view it as a limitation because they are limited. They have to show a certain percentage of Canadian content, CanCon. They say these other streaming companies should have to do the same because they want it to be the same. Further to that, these broadcasters have to pay a certain percentage into an art fund. This art fund can then be drawn from by Canadian artists who are producing CanCon and used for that material production.

  (1255)  

    Because these traditional broadcasters have to pay into this fund and the larger streamers do not, the broadcasters went knocking on the Liberals' door and said they wanted legislation to be brought into place to “level the playing field”. They wanted the Liberals to go after the streaming platforms, make sure they are showing a certain percentage of Canadian content and make sure the government is taking a certain percentage of their revenue and putting it into the art fund.
    At first glance, that might seem reasonable, except that when we dig into it further, we realize the broadcasters and the big art unions are simply gatekeeping. They do not want to celebrate progress. They do not want to look forward to the future. They do not want new artists to succeed. They simply want to gatekeep. They want control or power, and they want money.
    I want to talk about the foundation on which the bill is built, because it is a false foundation and it has to do with those who came knocking on the Liberals' door for the legislation. The bill is based on the deceptive notion that Canadian content creators or artists cannot make it on their own merit and that somehow they need this special fund in order to make a go of it. YouTubers, TikTokers and other online creators are proving this notion wrong each and every day. They are succeeding without drawing from the art fund. They are succeeding without the government mandating that Canadian content must be watched. They are succeeding because they have incredible talent to watch and incredible talent to offer, and Canadians find themselves drawn to it.
    There is the idea, though, that, in order to succeed as artists in Canada, people need monetary support and that it is the government that should provide this monetary support. Furthermore, there is other misinformation being spread by the government, which is that people will not choose Canadian content unless it is forced in front of their eyeballs, and that a certain percentage of what is offered on television, radio or the Internet must be Canadian, or people will not watch it. How degrading is that? It is as if our artists do not have the ability on their own to produce content that people might want to consume. It is as if the government must rush in and rescue these poor Canadian artists because, without government intervention, they will not succeed. That is a lie and a crux. It is not the case.
    Canadian artists are incredibly talented individuals who can make a go of it all on their own.
    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, we listened to 18 minutes of disinformation and conspiracy theory. Then the member said that the bill is a lie. I think she has to withdraw that comment, given the disinformation we have had to sit through. We sat through it respectfully.
    Mrs. Rachael Thomas: I made my own statement.
     As much as we possibly can, we do not want the use of that word, but I am also going to make a suggestion to the people who are having side discussions while the member is trying to present as well, which is probably not respectful either.
    I would suggest we all sit, listen and get ready for the question and answer component of the debate.
    The hon. member for Lethbridge.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, with regard to money, the heritage minister claimed this bill would capture $1 billion from large streaming platforms. To this day, he is not able to provide how this $1 billion figure was arrived at. We would actually still love to have that document if at all possible.
    However, the government says it is just forcing the large streaming platforms to pay their fair share. That is how the $1 billion is going to be brought in. At first blush, perhaps that seems reasonable. Perhaps these foreign streaming platforms should just pay their fair share. The government says this money would save Canadian culture, as if it is dying. I would be curious to know who says it is dying. I would be curious to know who says it needs to be rescued. Who says it is fragile? Who says it is on the verge of being extinct?
    Aside from all of that, and most importantly, is not Canadian culture what the Canadian people determine it to be? The last I knew, the Canadian population was actually growing. I think Canadian culture is probably alive and well. Do members not think so also?
    It does not matter, because neither the minister nor his department has been able to show me the document that shows that the $1 billion would somehow be extracted from the foreign platforms and then infused into the Canadian art scene.
    The reality is, though, that it does not matter. It is insignificant. The reason it is insignificant is that, as much as Bill C-11 might produce the $1 billion, the way things are right now is much better. Investment in Canadian production is not drying up, as the government would like Canadians to believe. That is a false notion. In fact, investment in Canadian production is better than it has ever been, without government intervention.
    Huge investments are being made, and let me go over that for just a moment. Wendy Noss, of the Motion Picture Association—Canada, testified at the Senate committee and stated that the association spent more than $5 billion. That is five times more than what the government is hoping to bring in through this legislation. That is one company, by the way, spending $5 billion. I will say that one more time just for the hon. member, so that he gets it: The government is claiming it will bring in $1 billion, but already there is private investment being made to the tune of $5 billion. That is $5 billion in 2021 alone.
     The government would rather have its way, shutting down private investment, suppressing that, in order to bring in a government-dictated $1 billion. How regressive can one be? How punitive can one be? The government claims to support artists, and yet it is going to do this. It is actually going to shut down the industry. It is actually going to punish the industry that is pumping $5 billion into the creation of content here in Canada in one year alone, by one company. That is not progress; that is incredibly regressive.
     Let me be clear; this $5 billion actually accounted for more than half of all the production in this country, and 90% of the growth in the sector over the last decade. Holding that up against the government-dictated art fund, the government-dictated art fund fails in comparison. Do we want more government legislation, or do we actually just want freedom to reign? I think we want freedom to reign.
    We are talking about a production company that hired, trained and provided opportunities for more than 200,000 of Canada's most talented creative workers. More than 200,000 is far more than the art fund has ever propped up. We are talking about more than 47,000 businesses that were supported in 2021 alone. Again, this is far more than the government-run art fund has ever supported in one year.

  (1305)  

    We can have government-dictated funds or we can have private-flowing funds; one is far more successful than the other. Therefore, we have to ask the following question: Is the problem that investments are not being made in Canada, in its production industry, or that our culture is somehow at risk of disappearing? Or is there something else?
    I would argue that the sector is alive and well, as I have proven, and I would argue that Canadians are alive and well and, therefore, so is our culture. Thus, there must be something else. I have alluded to it, but let us explore it further, shall we?
    We have a government that loves to support the big gatekeepers, big unions and big bosses that like to keep power, control and money in their hands. We have a government that is more interested in those individuals, who comprise several thousand people, than it is concerned about the vast majority of Canadian consumers who enjoy the content online and the freedom to explore what they will, or than it is concerned about the tens of thousands of creators putting content out there and reaching global audiences. The current government says to forget them. It says it wants to serve the several thousand union bosses and uphold the power, control and money that the broadcasters want, and that this is its focus. It is shameful.
    The bill before us is based on the false notion that artists cannot thrive without the government. However, in fact, we know they can, that they do and that they will.
    Part of the problem is that the government insists on using an antiquated definition of what Canadian content is. It is a whole host of criteria that make no sense at all. There can be a film like Canadian Bacon that does not make the cut. There can be a more recent production, The Handmaid's Tale written by Margaret Atwood, a famous Canadian author, which is being filmed on Canadian soil, stars Canadian actors and employs Canadian producers, but fails to make the cut. As much as the member opposite might want to point to Schitt's Creek, the title tells my audience what I think of that.
    Perhaps there is an opportunity, then, to consider a different way. Perhaps, instead of applying the shackles of a certain percentage of CanCon and a certain percentage of revenue needing to go toward this art fund, we can actually just release all from those shackles. Perhaps, instead, the level playing field actually needs to be set higher rather than lower. Perhaps it is actually about allowing broadcasters and the Internet to exist freely. Perhaps it is actually just about creative merit. Perhaps it is just about tailoring content to an audience that wants to watch what one produces. Perhaps it is actually just about letting private production companies make tremendous investment into our nation and our artists and helping them thrive. Perhaps it is about being progressive. Perhaps it is about being futuristic in our thinking, as the former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, had in mind when he said he would not regulate the Internet.
    Everything I have talked about up to this point is extremely important, but there is one point I have not yet touched on, and it is even more important. That is the fact that this bill would capture user-generated content. The current government had plenty of opportunities to make sure that was not the case, and it did not take those opportunities.
     When I talk about user-generated content, I am talking about one's Uncle Joe's videos on Facebook. I am talking about those videos on YouTube of kids doing stupid stuff. I am talking about—

  (1310)  

    Order. I am hearing a lot of chatter in the back corner. I would be more than happy to put members on the question list when questions and comments do come, but let us just respect the hon. member who is speaking.
    Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, he said that they were going to go after my Uncle Joe's videos. He does not do crazy conspiracy videos. He is not a Conservative; he is okay.
    Order, please. I want to make sure that we have respect for one another in the chamber when members have the floor and are speaking. Again, chatter does get a little high in the chamber sometimes, so I would remind folks that lower voices do carry more.
    The hon. member for Lethbridge.
    Mr. Speaker, everything I have talked about up to this point is significant, but the one point I have not talked about is user-generated content. Make no mistake, the government had every opportunity to ensure that user-generated content or ordinary content was not scoped within this legislation, yet the government refused every opportunity it was given.
    When I say ordinary content or user-generated content, I am talking about the videos that are put on Facebook. I am talking about Uncle Joe's video, Aunt Cathy's video, mom's video or a member's video. I am talking about the amateur YouTube channel that is set up in order to put out some crazy ideas or maybe do some stunts and perhaps capture an audience. That is what some Canadians wish to do. They think it is fun. It brings them joy. Perhaps they are hoping to make a go of it and make it big.
     I am talking about those individuals who are taking advantage of this free space called the Internet, who are putting something out there, saying to Canadians that they can like it or not like it, but they are presenting it to them. If Canadians love it, these individuals go big. If Canadians or the global audience do not love it, then usually it does not go too big. Regardless, those individuals have the right to put it out there.
    Bill C-11 would revoke that right. It would revoke that ability. It would move their content down in the system and make it undiscoverable, which means the government will be determining who wins and who loses. It will be determining what content does or does not get. It does not matter if it is from a large streaming platform or simply from an individual using Facebook. That is crazy.
    Witnesses at the House of Commons committee and at the Senate committee raised this issue. Whether it is the content creators themselves, or Canadians, or legal experts or consumer groups that are incredibly concerned, there is massive concern around this scoping in of user-generated or ordinary content. In fact, some legal experts went so far as to say that it likened us to places like North Korea or China, where the government monitors, surveys and controls what can be posted online. That should be very concerning for everyone in the House. This is not Canada. This does not ascribe to the values that we call Canadian.
    We have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a reason, because we at least in theory value freedom, choice and opportunity. However, when the government determines that it is going to regulate what can be posted, seen or heard online, then we are no longer functioning within that realm of freedom. At that point, we are not only taking away from consumer choice, but we are also stagnating the success of these many digital first creators and individuals who wish to make a go of it and capture an audience online, and not only for the present generation but for the next generations to come, those individuals who would come after us and wish to seek success online. The government will have already determined their future.
    I am talking about the homegrown comedian Darcy Michael, a self-proclaimed pot-smoking gay man, He told us at committee that he was turned away by traditional broadcasters, but is now enjoying tremendous success on YouTube.
     I am talking about a South Asian woman from Toronto who goes by the name Aunty Skates. She is in her forties and she decided to take up skateboarding during the pandemic. She thought it would be cool to bring people on her journey with her so she started posting videos, including some funny clips. People loved it; they still love it. She has done extremely well for herself. She was able to quit her job in finance and is now able to make a go of it on YouTube. She is able to invest in her family, in their quality of life, and she is enjoying it tremendously.
    The freedom of the Internet and the opportunity to advance oneself within this space without needing to worry about gatekeepers has been quite magical for many. Moms have been able to stay home and enjoy a better life-work balance. Youth have been able to use their creative imaginations and skills behind a smartphone to capture an audience, and many have gone viral. It is amazing.

  (1315)  

    It is unfortunate that we have a government that does not take the opportunity to celebrate these individuals. It is unfortunate that we do not have a government that takes this opportunity to celebrate innovation and forward thinking, the momentum that is being gained within this space. Instead, we have a government that is insisting on regulating the Internet and bringing it back into the ages of radio and television.
    I would be curious to know who in this place pays for a cable package. It is probably very few of us. Why? Because we do not want what we see to be controlled for us. Instead, we like on-demand streaming because at the end of the day we want to watch what we want to watch when we want to watch it. For the government to bring the Internet under this umbrella of the Broadcasting Act, which incredibly outdated, is wrong.
    At the end of the day, Bill C-11 would do two things. It would censor what Canadians can say so that homegrown talent and creative content in Canada would no longer succeed based on merit. Instead, content will be subject to a set of criteria that bureaucrats in Ottawa, which can be directed by cabinet, will use to determine its level of Canadianness. This will favour traditional art forms, of course, over the new creative content that is coming out. As a result, we heard at committee that many cultural groups, including BIPOC Canadians and indigenous Canadians, would be hurt.
    Furthermore, Bill C-11 would censor what Canadians are able to see or, in other words, what consumers are able to access online. This legislation would effectively make the government a regulator of the Internet. The search bar would be conditioned to follow a set of algorithms that are predetermined by the government. Therefore, when Canadians go searching, they will not find the things they freely wish to find, but, rather, the things that the government wishes to show them.
    On behalf of Canada's amazing creators who have achieved tremendous success on new media platforms or who seek to do so now or in the future and on behalf of Canadians who value the freedom to choose what they watch and listen to online, I move the following amendment:
    That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the first word “That” and substituting the following: “the order for the consideration of the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be discharged and the Bill withdrawn.”

  (1320)  

    The amendment is in order.
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, after listening to the member, the only positive thing I can take from her comments is the fact that once again the Conservative Party is showing great contrast between what the government is trying to do versus what the Conservative Party wants.
    We in the Liberal caucus understand and appreciate the arts community and how the Canadian Broadcasting Act has done absolute wonders for our industry, for actors, actresses and creators, in many different days. The modernization of this legislation is absolutely critical. After all, since 1991, a lot of things have happened. As I mentioned earlier, Netflix, Spotify or Crave were not there. The need to modernize is there and is very real.
    The Conservatives want to march us back. The question is how far back they want to go. Will the member stand on her principles and make very clear to Canadians that the Conservative Party's intent is to get rid of the Canadian Broadcasting Act in order to level the playing field in the name of so-called misinformed freedom?
    Mr. Speaker, only a Liberal could skew the facts so much to accuse the Conservatives of somehow taking us back. Let us be really clear here, because the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-11, is a Liberal bill. Bill C-11 would take the Internet, this infinite, magical, innovate, forward-thinking space, and put it back under the Broadcasting Act, which was last updated in 1991 and originates from the 1920s. If that is not backward thinking, I do not know what is.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am concerned. I am concerned because I listened to my Conservative colleague's speech. I have to honestly admit that if I were a poorly informed individual who relied strictly on the member's speech, I would be really scared. I would be really worried. I would think that I would no longer be able to express my views on the Internet, on Facebook. I would even be afraid to post on social media.
    People need to inform themselves to discern what it really means, what Bill C-11 really is, by considering both the old and the new version. So many people brought their concerns to us. We received emails from groups of people who were worried. When we asked experts, they all told us that it was clear from reading the bill that there is no censorship.
    I am therefore concerned about what the Conservatives are doing in the House of Commons, in Parliament, a place where we should elevate the debate, try to inform people, provide the facts, go further and rise above the fray. What we are actually seeing is the opposite. The Conservatives are going so low they have hit rock bottom.
    We heard from the member for Winnipeg North that the Conservatives are using their opposition to Bill C‑11 to fundraise. I would like my colleague to tell us how much money the Conservatives have raised with their campaign of fear against Bill C‑11.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member has left out of his statement is the fact that the Quebec government, under Premier Legault, has written an open letter to the Liberal government pointing out that it is censorship. That is an interesting fact that the hon. member might want to include next time, because his premier would like to see the bill looked at in committee. The premier is very concerned that Bill C-11 would put the CRTC and cabinet in charge of dictating what French culture is. I believe that is called “censorship”, is it not?
    Further to that, Premier Legault is concerned that the CRTC and cabinet would control the extent to which the French language and culture is given space online. Quebec actually thinks that it should have the power to determine that for itself. Why does Quebec think it should have the power to do that for itself and is concerned about Bill C-11? Because it is censorship and because the Liberal government has the intent of censoring what content is and is not available online and to what extent that content is French and upholds French culture.
    Therefore, in fact, it is censorship, and I would invite that hon. member to speak to his premier and understand those concerns better.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, it is a bit painful to listen to my Conservative colleague, who is showing just how little she knows about how broadcasting, cultural creation and the CRTC work in this country.
    Why does she think it is appropriate for Rogers, Videotron and Bell to contribute to the creation of culture, television and film in Canada, but then she defends Google, YouTube, Amazon and Apple and has no problem with them not paying, not contributing to cultural production? Why is she siding with the web giants? Why does she want to continue to exempt them from having to pay their fair share?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to repeat a part of my speech. I do not know if the hon. member caught it, so I will just clarify for him.
    Right now, we have just one production company in this nation that is responsible for 50% of all production in Canada. Furthermore, it invests over $5 billion, supporting over 200,000 jobs and over 47,000 Canadian businesses. The stats that I just listed are from 2021, and things only got better in 2022. Let us imagine that.
    Let us take his question, then, at face value. He is saying, well, what about Rogers, Videotron and Bell? Let us add CBC to the mix, shall we?
    What the government plans to do is get about $1 billion through its legislation. It thinks that this will match what these large broadcasters are putting into the fund. Do we want $1 billion or $5 billion? We could have $1 billion through this legislation or $5 billion without it.
    I am not a mathematician but I have the ability to quickly do the math on this one. It shows that if we allow freedom to reign, we are five times better.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her hard work in standing up for freedom.
    The Senate looked at this with its sober second thought, and it came up with an amendment that tried to protect people's individual content and to exclude that from the scope of the bill.
    Why does the member think that the Liberal government will not support that amendment?
    Mr. Speaker, to enter the mind of the Liberal government is something beyond my ability. Certainly, I wish I could, at times, although I suppose that would be a scary place. I am not really a fan of horror movies. Nevertheless, the question is a thoughtful one, so I will give it a thoughtful answer.
    The Senate brought forward some really great amendments on Bill C-11, and I wish to comment on two of those in particular.
    The Senate removed clause 7, which gives cabinet the ability to direct the CRTC. This allows for partisanship to enter the bill. That is a scary thought for any government. It does not matter who is in power, whether the Liberals, the NDP or the Conservatives.
    There should never be partisanship introduced into a bill like this. However, clause 7 allows for that. The Senate tried to remove it; the government put it back in. That should be very telling to Canadians as to what its intent is.
    Second, the Senate took clause 4 and changed it in order to protect user-generated or ordinary content that people would put online. The Senate removed that and protected users.
    The government made sure that it changed that and gave itself the power to regulate individual user-generated content. Again, I think that is very telling in terms of what the government intends to do with this bill.
    I cannot suppose why it would make those decisions except that it wants to hold the power; direct what Canadians can see, hear and post online; and make sure that it maintains its thumb on the Internet, and in doing so, censors what Canadians can access.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to say I will be sharing my time with my very distinguished and dynamic colleague from Shefford.
    Let me make a few things clear. Bill C-11 deals with culture, not censorship. Bill C-11 deals with national identity and pride. Culture is the essence of who we are. This bill does not promote censorship, it promotes and showcases our culture. I would even say that it seeks to showcase our cultures: Canadian culture, Quebec culture and indigenous cultures.
    The bill seeks to give more visibility to culture. This is not about telling people they can no longer listen to certain content. Since the beginning of the debate today, we have been hearing all sorts of things. In fact, we have been hearing these things for two years, since Bill C-11 is the former Bill C-10. We hear things about cat videos, for example. Let us be serious.
    The threat does not come from censorship because of Bill C-11. The threat comes from the platforms that have changed the world of telecommunications. That is the threat.
    We are working on Bill C-11 to review an act that was amended for the last time in 1991. Must I remind you that, in 1991, we did not all have cellphones in our pockets? It was a completely different world, which is why we need to review the act.
    The cultural community is asking for this, as is everyone else. We are not just being asked to pass the bill quickly. Quebec’s cultural community is asking us to hurry because it needs this legislation. They are losing $70 billion a week. On reflection, that may be a bit high. I will have to check the figures later in my notes. Let us say that, every week we delay the passage of this bill, they are losing a lot of money. Let us protect our people.
    What does Bill C-11 do? It ensures the protection and promotion of original content. For us, that means French-language content, which is what concerns us. Of course, it also ensures the protection and promotion of original Canadian productions in English and indigenous languages and productions created by certain visible minorities. If we want to protect Canadian content and boost visibility, we need to bring in incentives. We are not talking about banning people from posting on Facebook and saying what they want. This is not about imposing choices, it is about raising their visibility. It is about ensuring discoverability.
    Let us consider how small the percentage of French-language production in North America is. If we rely only on the number of times videos are viewed by users, French-language content will not be suggested very often. That is the problem. It is not about playing with algorithms. It is about giving the CRTC the power to talk to these companies and see what they can do to give local culture more visibility. It is a matter of promoting and showcasing our culture.
    Let me draw a parallel here. When we look at platforms, we see that there is very little French-language content and that needs to be fixed. When we look at the boards of directors of Canadian and Quebec companies, we see that women are under-represented. In both cases, we need to take action to fix the situation. Obviously, we do not want to prevent anyone from applying, but we want to make sure that the positions are accessible to women and that women receive those kinds of job offers. The same thing applies to culture.

  (1335)  

    With Bill C-11, we want to improve the visibility, and therefore the profitability, of our local French-language productions and put in place a mandatory contribution to the Canadian and Quebec broadcasting system.
    A mandatory contribution is more than just running old television shows. We want the platforms to participate in the creation of real local content. An American movie filmed in Vancouver is not local content. We certainly benefit when American filmmakers shoot in Vancouver. We support that. However, local content is something local produced by local artists who represent us. That is what culture is.
    When racialized people say that they watch television and do not see themselves, that is a problem. These people should be able to see themselves and identify with the characters. That is why we are trying to increase representativeness. It is the same thing.
    We simply want to expand the coverage of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, to all media we interact with. We need first-run French-language content.
    With this bill, we are telling the major American platforms that stream content in Canada and invade our markets that we are relatively happy because that is a good way to disseminate information, it gives more people greater access to information. Furthermore, streaming does not restrict access to cat videos; then again, it invades our market. That is where we have the right to say, as a state, that we have a culture to protect.
    I often talk about the agricultural exemption in the House. This morning, I talked about the agricultural exemption. We cannot act without protecting our culture. It is important. We have the right to tell the people who come and make money in Canada that we are happy to welcome them and that it is a good thing, just as we have the right to tell them that we would like to recognize ourselves in our media. We are not asking them to ban certain content, but to showcase local productions that represent our people. That is the idea.
    There is another very positive element in Bill C-11. It makes no sense that, in 2023, we are revising a broadcasting act from 1991. That is a major oversight.
    The bill includes the obligation to review the act at least every five years. To those who have concerns, I would say that we are capable of being intelligent and implementing a reasonable policy. After the law is in effect for a few years, we will review it all to see how things went and what the impacts were. That is the important part.
    I want to spend the last few minutes of my speech emphasizing that the Quebec and Canadian cultural community wholeheartedly supports Bill C‑11.
    I just found the figure that I mentioned earlier. I should have said “millions” rather than “billions”. I thought that seemed like a lot. According to the former Canadian heritage minister, we would lose $70 million every month. I do not know whether those numbers were validated, but I am assuming that they were.
    This important bill is one of three related and highly anticipated bills in this Parliament. As parliamentarians, I would like us to quickly pass them. There was Bill C‑11 to promote our local content. There is also Bill C‑18, which will complement it. Communications platforms will pay something to use news content in order to encourage our journalistic community. That is important. Finally, there is a third bill on online hate, which we need to regulate.
    Once again, this is not about censorship, but about living together, being reasonable and creating a world where the Internet is a bit more representative of who we are. We need to see ourselves on television every once in a while, see ourselves reflected in the programming so that we do not forget who we are. I said television, but it is the same thing for the things we watch on a computer screen.
    Let us stop wasting time and pass this essential bill.

  (1340)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, one of the things I look at, and that the member made reference to, is the fact that the Broadcasting Act has not been updated since 1991. Things have changed. Virtually none of those platforms existed then in any form, whether Netflix, Spotify or others. This legislation would modernize the act, thereby allowing us to enhance Canadian content and ensure there is a fair playing field. Could the member provide his thoughts in regard to the advancement of technology, which has enabled the Internet to be as successful as it has been? The government has a responsibility to bring in this legislation.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am starting to get worried. I keep agreeing with my colleague from Winnipeg North when I am in Parliament.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Yves Perron: Mr. Speaker, seriously, he is absolutely right. In 1991, we received typed copies of university research. Today, we are living in a completely different world. That is why it is important to include in the bill a provision to ensure that a review is done every five years. Just because the bill states that a review absolutely needs to be done every five years does not mean that we have to wait five years. If after a year or two of implementation, we realize that there is an unforeseen effect, we will adapt and change the bill, but that requires flexibility and parliamentarians with goodwill. Unfortunately, we do not always have that.
    Mr. Speaker, I heard that the Premier of Quebec sent the Minister of Canadian Heritage a letter to say that he was concerned about the fact that the bill would infringe on freedom of expression. Is the hon. member also concerned?
    Mr. Speaker, I did not see the letter in question, but I doubt that the Premier of Quebec said he was afraid of censorship in the bill. I think that the Quebec government's concern is the same as that of all national governments, that is, to ensure that culture continues to exist, to make sure we can buy local. We talk about buying local when it comes to food, but it is also important for culture. We are our culture. We need to be represented on all the different platforms.
     I am talking about Quebeckers, but I also mentioned indigenous and racialized people in my speech. People need to be visible. That is why we need to move forward with this bill, because it will spark a discussion. However, we need to be careful about the misinformation we are hearing. In this discussion, we are giving the CRTC the power to talk to companies about how they think local content should be showcased. That is the issue.
    Mr. Speaker, if my colleague is surprised that he agrees with the Liberals once in a while, he may also agree with the NDP. This is a big day. We are in unanimous agreement. As he said, Quebec francophone culture needs to be present and supported so that it can flourish. I do not understand why the Conservatives from Quebec are unanimously opposed to Quebec's cultural community, our creators and artists, who say they need this bill to modernize the act. What does the hon. member think about the position of the Quebec Conservatives?

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed with it. At the same time, the hon. member is right about one very important thing: Today is a big day. To reassure him, I would say that we agree with the NDP more often than he thinks. The only point we often disagree on is which government should be in charge of dealing with social issues. We could have a lively discussion about that over a few pints of beer.
    With respect to the Conservatives' position, it is disappointing, and it is disappointing to hear the misinformation I was hearing earlier. I am asking the members to be reasonable and to look at the bill in front of them, instead of saying things that will attract attention on social media.
    Mr. Speaker, I humbly rise today following my wonderful colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé's speech about this bill, which is important for Quebec culture and is central to the very mission of the Bloc Québécois. I would also like to commend my colleague from Drummond for his superb work on this file.
    Broadcasting is without a doubt the most effective tool for spreading culture, and it helps define our national identity. Given the rapid development of information and communication technologies, the Bloc Québécois obviously supports the idea of modernizing the Broadcasting Act, which has not been updated since 1991. Back then, I was still listening to music on cassette on my yellow Walkman, and I was only just beginning to take an interest in CDs. I had scarcely even heard of the Internet. The Bloc Québécois contributed substantially to improving the previous version of this bill, the infamous Bill C-10.
    I will briefly address the new version, Bill C-11, in my speech. First, I will talk about protecting and promoting original French-language content. I will then discuss the misinformation circulating about the bill. I will conclude by discussing the importance of the bill for local media.
    First, let me mention a few crucial aspects regarding the protection and promotion of original French-language content: the discoverability of Canadian programming services and original Canadian content so that there is more original French-language content, proportionally speaking; the promotion of Canadian programming in both official languages, as well as in indigenous languages; a compulsory contribution to the Canadian broadcasting system should a company be unable to use Canadian resources for its programming; the presence of first-run French-language content in order to ensure that platforms like Netflix have new French-language programs, not only old shows; and a sunset clause ensuring an in-depth review of the act every five years.
     The Minister of Canadian Heritage promised us that the Bloc Québécois's amendments would be included in the new version of the reform, and indeed they are almost all there. Since nothing can be left to chance in such a bill, we are making sure that we can course correct in the event that changing one simple word has a major impact on the effect of the clause. We have to keep in mind that we want a piece of legislation that will not be obsolete as soon as it is passed. Technology is developing very quickly, and we need a long-term vision to ensure that the act does not become outdated after just a few years. Flexible legislation is important.
     From day one, the Bloc, backed by Quebec's entire cultural sector, was the party that worked the hardest on improving Bill C‑10 and getting it passed before the end of the parliamentary session. During the last election campaign, making sure that Bill C‑10, now Bill C‑11, was passed was even the first item on our election platform under arts, culture and heritage. Quebec's and Canada's cultural sectors have been waiting for decades for this act to be updated. The cultural sector made a simple demand just a few days after Bill C‑11 was introduced. It asked us to ensure that this bill passed quickly, because the sector had waited long enough.
    Essentially, the objective of the bill remains the same: to apply the Broadcasting Act to the web giants by forcing them to contribute financially to the creation and discoverability of Canadian cultural content. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC, will receive new powers that will allow it to determine which online services will have to be regulated and what quotas will need to be met.
    Bill C‑11 will help better regulate video streamers such as Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, but also companies that specialize in streaming music online such as Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. Bill C‑11 will require these companies to contribute to Canadian content when commercial items such as albums are downloaded and distributed on their platforms.
     The exclusion clause, namely clause 4.1, addressed earlier, has been revised. Now creators, users and social media influencers are exempt from the legislation. It still needs to be taken into account. The money a creator earns from their content is immaterial in the eyes of the new legislation. So-called amateur content on social media would be exempt. The legislation focuses specifically on commercial products.
    The CRTC will also have the option to impose conditions associated with discoverability and the development of Canadian content. The bill will not touch the algorithms that can influence the recommendations made to users. The department says it wants to focus instead on discoverability outcomes and not intervene directly with respect to web giants' algorithms. Quebec, francophone and Canadian content must be much more accessible on platforms. Ottawa is trying to give the CRTC the power to hold discussions with each of the digital companies to determine how much they could contribute to Canadian content based on their business model.

  (1350)  

    Second, I would remind members that the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc supported and tried to improve this bill that the Conservatives were against from the outset. They engaged in a smear campaign and tried to find all kinds of far-fetched flaws. They really used their imagination. In Parliament, they used a variety of stratagems to slow down the process, both in committee and in the House. They took the House hostage under false pretenses, claiming that the bill infringes on freedom of expression.
    However, since 1991, there has been a provision that forces the CRTC to respect freedom of expression. This provision has always been respected, and there is nothing to indicate that that will change. Pierre Trudel, a law professor at Université de Montréal who is an expert on the CRTC and information technologies, reassured us of that. He categorically stated that the freedom of Internet users is not at risk. There is no thought police on television, and there will be no thought police online.
    Given the popularity and growing use of online platforms, there is no doubt that the legislation needs to be reviewed. According to ADISQ statistics on the music consumption habits of Quebec francophones over the age of 15, 50% of users follow YouTube's recommendations when choosing their playlists. When it comes to streaming services, 26% of users choose music suggested by the platform through playlists, and 17% follow recommendations. This is based on their past listening habits. These figures illustrate the importance of making Quebec and Canadian francophone content easily discoverable to users on online platforms in order to give it a boost.
    Solutions do exist to address the algorithms. One option to consider would be for Spotify and Apple Music to offer a lot more francophone playlists.
    Part of the CRTC's mission is to ensure the proper functioning and development of the Canadian broadcasting system. In doing so, it must respect freedom of expression and the other foundations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    Third, both Quebec's and Canada's broadcasting industries are in crisis. According to an August 2020 report from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, or CAB, local television and radio broadcasters were projected to face a revenue shortfall totalling $1.6 billion between 2020 and 2022. According to the CAB, 50 radio stations were at risk of shutting down within four to six months of the report's release, and another 150 could go silent within 18 months, resulting in 2,000 job losses, or 24% of 2019 employment levels. The report added that at least 40 of the 95 private and local television stations in Canada would cease operations by 2023.
    The most vulnerable operations are AM stations, independent stations and other private radio and TV stations in smaller markets across Canada. Radio and television revenues have been declining for several years, and COVID-19 exacerbated these disconcerting trends.
    We know that the Internet has revolutionized the way Quebeckers, particularly young Quebeckers, consume their favourite TV shows, movies, radio stations and music. Consumption trends have drastically changed. The online broadcasting market is dominated by foreign players. We need to take that into account.
    Young Quebeckers are especially likely to skirt the traditional broadcasting system. The vast majority of young francophones aged 15 and up frequently listen to music on YouTube. We therefore need to ensure that they are offered francophone content.
    A study conducted by CEFRIO, a research and innovation organization, found that over eight in 10 Quebeckers used a social media site in 2018, an increase of 16% compared to 2016. It is clear that the Internet is changing usage and listening habits.
    Since I have only about a minute left, I just want to give a few statistics from the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office. Canadian content production decreased by an average of 12.4% per year between January 2017 and December 2020. It is important to remember that media outlets are currently in crisis, mainly because they have lost their advertising revenue to web giants.
    In conclusion, the Yale report was clear: Canadian content is important. It said that if we do not tell our own stories, no one else will. That really made an impression on me. That was why the report set out a suite of recommendations on financing Canadian content with public funds, imposing spending requirements on foreign online broadcasters, and strengthening CBC/Radio-Canada.
    One last thing before I wrap up: Last night, I met with Martin Gougeon from the Théâtre de l'Ancien presbytère. He is an artist who has made it his mission to promote our francophone culture to young students. I have also met with local media representatives many times. They are all unanimous. Quebec's cultural and media communities want this. Let us pass Bill C‑11. Enough dawdling.

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
    As a Canadian, but also as a mother of two sons who are growing up in a rapidly changing world that is increasingly online, I want them to see their identity, their values and their country represented.
    What is at stake if we do not pass Bill C‑11?
    Mr. Speaker, the answer is simple. Artists in my community have explained to me how this will affect the music industry in particular. At this point, Quebec francophone artists are losing market share and revenue.
    Every day that Bill C‑11 does not pass is another day that artists have to fight to keep our culture and the French language alive, and another day that artists will lose money and will struggle more financially.
    It is as simple as that. This bill will help our artists to continue producing content in their language. The same is true for indigenous languages.
    Mr. Speaker, here is my question: The senators tried to make an amendment to eliminate individuals from this bill.
    Does the member support that amendment?
    Mr. Speaker, in my speech, I said that Bill C‑11 is clearly focused on commercial interests.
    What I am hearing the Conservatives say is that we want to restrict free speech. Their talk about individuals is no different from the misinformation they spread about cat videos.
    Worse than that, what I am hearing from Conservative MPs is that Bill C‑11 is designed to cater to Quebec's spoiled little francophone artists. That is Quebec bashing, and it is insulting to our artists.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague. It is high time we pass Bill C‑11, for the cultural sector and for our local artists and craftspeople who tell our stories.
    I would like the member to take a minute to reassure us, and reassure everyone, Quebeckers and Canadians alike, that, despite the Conservative propaganda, when it comes to freedom of expression, we are still going to be able to post pictures and videos of our cute cats and dogs on YouTube, and we are still going to be able to say whatever we want.
    Mr. Speaker, I believe I said in my remarks that a professor at the University of Montreal who specializes in CRTC issues made a strong case that, no, we are not at the point of needing an Internet police force.
    More than that, if restricting freedom of expression is the same as trying to get an adequate proportion of francophone content on digital platforms, then I want more francophone content. If that is the one and only thing that Bill C‑11 is designed to do, I do not believe it is infringing on freedom of expression. It is better representing the diversity of our cultural milieu.
    Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with the speech given by my dear colleague from Shefford.
    I just want to say a word in English.

[English]

    When the member for Lethbridge was speaking, she talked about “the big unions”, as if artists are represented by big unions. I think she may think that is true, but there is no collective bargaining among artists. There is a group called The Writers' Union, a volunteer association of people who try to write for a living. There are no union bosses in the artistic community.
    Does the hon. member for Shefford agree that the member for Lethbridge is confused on this point?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree that the member for Lethbridge did not fully understand the situation.
    I apologize for getting so worked up, but what I saw earlier was the member for Lethbridge putting on a show. She is not the one I want to see putting on a show. I want to see homegrown francophone artists putting on their shows.
    For that to happen, young people need to be able to discover their content online. It is simple math. If they cannot access the content online, young people will not go see their shows, and I will no longer be able to see shows put on by francophone artists.
    I do not want to watch this show anymore. I want to see a real show.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Canadian Firefighters

    Mr. Speaker, over the next two days, members in this place will have the great honour of meeting some of the finest Canadians they will ever know. Members of the International Association of Fire Fighters are here for their 30th legislative congress. They will be meeting with all of us with the agenda they bring forward for their safety and taking care of all of us.
    They demand that we get rid of the forever chemicals, the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, that contaminate their gear. They demand we do better at firefighting at our airports.
    It is an honour to meet with them. We welcome them to Ottawa and thank them for their work every single day.

Ravjot Singh Chhatwal

    Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, the death of a seemingly perfectly healthy 43-year-old affected many in the Brampton community, including me. He was one of my most beloved friends. Coming without warning, with no chance to say goodbye, the news of his death was shocking and heartbreaking.
    Ravjot Singh Chhatwal was a hard-working division chief in Brampton's fire and emergency services, where flags flew at half-mast to mark his passing. A proud Sikh, Ravjot was a role model and a champion for equity, diversity and inclusion. He was a community builder, ever-helpful, kind-hearted, caring and thoughtful, winning friends with his infectious smile and sense of humour.
    I hope members will join me in offering our condolences to Ravjot's family, friends and co-workers.
    May his soul rest in peace.

Rare Diseases

    Mr. Speaker, about one in 12 Canadians has a rare disease, and sadly, most of them are children.
    Forty per cent of patients do not have access to appropriate drugs for their condition. On average, it takes 3.7 years and three wrong diagnoses until they even know what disease they have. When they do find out, it takes two years, on average, for public reimbursement for their medicine. That is if they are fortunate enough to have it covered or even available here in Canada.
    There are people working hard to make a change. This includes two passionate and tireless advocates here today from New Tecumseth, Madi and Beth Vanstone, who are working hard with the Canadian Organization for Rare Disorders to improve access to rare disease drugs.
    The government needs to do more to address the needs of rare disease patients, and I am happy to lend my support. Let us all get behind Canadians struggling to access basic care for their rare diseases.

Health Care

    Mr. Speaker, every Canadian deserves to get the health care they need whenever and wherever they need it, but right now our health care system is not living up to that promise due to outdated technology, lack of access to family doctors and long wait times. Hence, many Canadians are feeling left behind.
    I am glad the federal government has announced $199 billion in additional federal funding to provinces to improve health care for Canadians. When we sign the agreement with the Province of Ontario for this additional funds transfer, we should ensure that we deliver real results for Canadians. The agreement must make sure Canadians have access to family doctors, insist on real plans to reduce wait times and get people good mental health care.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

Le Vent du Nord

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to mark the 20th anniversary of Le Vent du Nord, a Quebec folk band. This music group is known for its depth, passion and generosity. They interpret traditional Quebec songs and are also inspired by them to compose original songs replete with poetry and historical references.
    We know how difficult it can be to make a living in Quebec's cultural sector, and so it is important to point out that the group, composed of Nicolas Boulerice, Simon Beaudry, André Brunet, Réjean Brunet and Olivier Demers, has been performing and touring for all these years.
    In 20 years, they have produced 11 albums, given more than 2,000 concerts on four continents and received many honours, including two Junos and three Félix awards at the ADISQ gala. They have not only become star performers in the traditional Quebec music scene, but also a driving force behind it, as they promote and showcase Quebec music abroad.
    Congratulations for thrilling Quebec and the rest of the world for 20 years. I greatly admire them.

Athletes from Bourassa

    Mr. Speaker, during the Canada Games that took place in February, the riding of Bourassa was in the spotlight. As an example, the young athletes from the Centre d'excellence en karaté du Québec, under the leadership of its president, François Persico, won half of the medals for Quebec.
    I am proud to introduce these four young people, aged 14 to 17, who are participating in Quebec's Sport-études program, and to whom I had the privilege of presenting a certificate of merit for their athletic achievements. They are Abdessalam Kerdoussi, who placed in the top seven in sparring, Mohamed Cherif Ilbouche, who won a bronze medal, Maroua Mokdad, who won a silver medal, and Anton Gurin, a young Ukrainian who just obtained permanent residence in Canada and who won the only gold medal for Quebec.
    I want to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all these young people who have done us proud.

[English]

Canadian Firefighters

    Mr. Speaker, firefighters from across Canada are in Ottawa this week for the 30th Canadian Legislative Conference of the International Association of Fire Fighters. As a retired firefighter and former president of Markham local 2727, I know first-hand just how important these next few days of advocacy will be for firefighters and their families.
    In the coming days, MPs from all parties will hear about the increase in occupational illnesses like cancer among firefighters, including the need to remove PFAS from firefighting gear, now being linked to cancer and other serious health effects. There will also be a discussion for federally regulated airports in Canada to meet ICAO standards. Under the leadership of president Ed Kelly, the IAFF is laser-focused on protecting the health and safety of its 334,000 members and their families, both here in Canada and in the United States.
     On behalf of our Conservative team to my former colleagues in Markham, to the Barrie and Innisfil firefighters and all firefighters who have come to Ottawa this week, welcome. We hear them, we respect them and we are here for them and their families.

Human Rights in Iran

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to show my support for the people of Iran, following several troubling reports. In the past three months, over 50 schools in Iran have reported cases of schoolgirls impacted by alleged poisonings, followed by much concern over the effects that this will have on their education and their future. Despite lacking information on the details of these despicable attacks, due to the substantial number of journalists recently detained by the regime, many citizens, especially women and girls, continue to show unwavering bravery and work to protest their current environment.
    While the Iranian regime continues to ignore the rights of its citizens amid these despicable reports, we recognize that it is imperative for everyone to take a stand to protect the fundamental rights of women and girls and all citizens in Iran. Canadians across the country continue to support the families that deserve true justice, and we pray for all those affected.

Bento De Sao Jose

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to salute a hard-working and inspirational Portuguese Canadian, Senhor Bento De Sao Jose, who passed away on March 1, 2023. Senhor Bento was a pioneer who opened doors for many immigrants in the early 1960s. He will be remembered for his courageous spirit that took him through a war in Africa before making Canada home.
    He will fondly be remembered for his never-ending enthusiasm for the social well-being of our community and the entrepreneurial drive for commerce and social improvements. He found opportunity in Toronto in 1963 and with a bright and savvy mind forged a successful car dealership and service centre. Many of us bought our first car from Bentos.
    He was a brave leader who also engaged in politics to elevate our community and leave a positive impact at all levels of government. He has been recognized by Portuguese authorities and Canadian veterans with many honours of merit and medals. His achievements will forever be applauded. His greatness will never be forgotten. Always in our hearts, rest in peace, Senhor Bento.

  (1410)  

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, for the past 20 weeks, Canadians have heard over and over again about the help from the Beijing Communists that the Liberal Party has received in multiple elections. Conservatives have asked hundreds of questions in the House, but the Prime Minister has told us much of nothing. We have asked questions at committees, and the Liberal members have done everything they can to delay, distract and undermine the need for a thorough investigation into this topic.
    At the beginning of this month, 67% of Canadians supported an open and public independent inquiry that would help provide serious transparency in this matter. All opposition parties voted in favour of the motion to launch such an inquiry, but, as always, the Liberal MPs voted against it. Canadians are losing trust in our political institutions and democracy.
    I call on Canadians who watch this to call, email and visit their local Liberal MPs, reminding them that they are in this House to represent them and not to blindly serve the self-interests of the Prime Minister and the Liberal Party.

Graduation Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to rise in honour of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour's Marie Jones.
    In her forties, while raising multiple children, Marie attended Dalhousie University in the Master of Arts program, focusing on education. Her cutting-edge research focused on how the testing and streaming of students at that time was prejudiced against children living in poverty.
    Unfortunately, just before she could complete her degree, Marie's eldest son, David, became seriously ill. Marie left her studies to research, advocate and care for him. He passed away a decade later.
    Despite adversity, Marie continued to give back, from caring for elderly relatives while she raised her kids to teaching those who needed her help and advocating for music programs and increased funding for long-term care homes. Nothing stops Marie Jones.
    I am honoured today in Canada's House of Commons to announce that, at the age of 92, Marie Jones has finally been awarded her master's degree from Dalhousie University.
    Let us congratulate Marie.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, in greater Vancouver, the dream of buying a home or even renting an affordable place has become a nightmare under the Liberal government. The Liberals do not care. They will not take any responsibility for the mess they have created. Reckless spending and the irresponsible doubling of our national debt have lit an inflationary fire.
    After eight years under the Prime Minister, the price of housing has skyrocketed. To compensate for the spending, the Bank of Canada has raised interest rates 1,700% in just one year. Families will be forced to spend thousands more when mortgage renewal comes.
    Whether one is a renter, a first-time homebuyer or a homeowner, Conservatives will fight to ensure housing is affordable. A change of government cannot come soon enough.

[Translation]

Cost of Living

    Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister has been leading the Liberal government for eight years and is now being propped up by a costly coalition with the NDP.
    For an entire generation of young Canadians, the cost of living is at an all-time high, and the hope of building a life like their parents is fading little by little every day.
    In Canada, home ownership was an attainable dream for young people prior to 2016. Now, the Liberal Prime Minister's inflationary spending is making that dream impossible to achieve.
    Fully nine out of 10 young people believe they will never be able to afford a home because mortgage payments have doubled in the eight years since this Prime Minister was elected.
    More and more people, from the very poor to middle-class families, are turning to food banks because their paycheques no longer cover rising food prices.
    The 2023 budget must put an end to inflationary spending. The 2023 budget must make it possible for Canadians to take home more money with each paycheque. The 2023 budget must lower prices by cancelling tax increases. The 2023 budget must remove government barriers to housing construction. The 2023 budget must bring common sense back into this House.

  (1415)  

Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d'Ottawa

    Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege of representing a community of active and engaged seniors in Orléans.
    That is why I was proud to attend the monthly breakfast hosted by the Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d'Ottawa, or RAFO, on March 19 to announce $99,450 in financial aid under the community spaces fund.
    The RAFO, which has over 600 members, was able to do major renovations to make its building more energy efficient and provide a better environment for its members.
    I would also like to honour and recognize in the House three outstanding women in Orléans who all celebrated their 100th birthday this year. Congratulations to Thérèse Gagnier, Germaine Dumoulin and Henriette Comeau.
    I wish these women a happy birthday.

[English]

Battery Recycling

    Mr. Speaker, as we electrify our energy systems, batteries will become more important. However, they have lifespans, and recycling will become an even more critical part of our future.
    I am proud to say that the city of Trail has become one of the biggest battery recycling hubs in North America. One company in Trail, Retriev Technologies, which is now part of Cirba Solutions, has been recycling all kinds of batteries for years. If people bring their used batteries to any recycling centre in British Columbia, they will end up at Retriev, producing valuable products such as cobalt cake and lithium salts.
    Next door is KC Recycling, the biggest lead acid battery recycling facility in western North America. Lead acid batteries are the batteries in all gas-powered cars and trucks in the world. They are completely recyclable. Much of the lead from KC goes directly back into the Teck smelter in Trail.
     All batteries can be recycled, and the city of Trail is leading the way to the circular economy of the future.

[Translation]

Louisette Dussault

    Mr. Speaker, my friend, actor, director and producer Louisette Dussault took her final bow and left us last week.
     In addition to her multiple roles and productions, she was active as the president of the Conseil québécois du théâtre and worked for the Commission internationale du théâtre francophone. She contributed to the success of great Quebec works such as Les belles-sœurs and Demain matin, Montréal m'attend by the great Michel Tremblay.
     Devoted to Quebec, she was part of the women for sovereignty bus. I remember her magnificent interpretation of Panis Angelicus, which she dedicated to me and sang in her beautiful soprano voice when she sponsored the island collective project Les Marsouineries de L'Isle-aux-Coudres.
    What about the 750 episodes of La souris verte that won the hearts of children in Quebec? For six decades we have been singing:

Ten sheep
Nine sparrows
Eight groundhogs
Seven rabbits
Six ducks
Five ants
Four cats
And three chicks
Two weasels and one mouse.
[We love our] green mouse.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister's inflationary taxes and deficit spending, it no longer pays to work in Canada.
    One in five Canadians are skipping meals, and many are going to food banks just to survive. February marks the seventh consecutive month of double-digit food inflation. Rent and mortgage payments have doubled under the Liberal Prime Minister, and the dream of home ownership is quickly becoming a nightmare for many young people in this great country.
    A Conservative government would bring home powerful paycheques with lower taxes, so that hard work would pay off once again; bring home lower prices by ending inflationary carbon tax and deficit spending, which drive up inflation and create higher interest rates; and bring homes to Canadians that they could afford by removing government gatekeepers, freeing up land and speeding up building permits.
    Enough is enough. It is time to make Canada work for those who do the work.

  (1420)  

Affordable Housing

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to welcome members of various organizations, such as Reena, the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, Community Living Toronto and many more, to Parliament Hill. They are joining us to advocate for affordable housing and support for Canadians with developmental disabilities.
    It is essential that we provide support for those with developmental disabilities through programs like the national housing strategy. In this way, they can be fully included in our society with dignity, individuality, independence, personal growth and community inclusion.
    Reena provides support across North York and the GTA, including a third intentional community, the new Frankfort Family Reena Residence. It will provide affordable housing for an additional 154 individuals.
    I would like to thank these amazing organizations for joining us and for all the transformative work they do in our communities, empowering those with developmental disabilities. In this country our strategy is nothing without us. We see those in the developmental disability community, and we care about them. They enrich our society and our communities each and every day.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Taxation

     Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Prime Minister, there is a war on work with his taxes and other clawbacks. Workers can lose 88¢ on each additional dollar earned. There is no common sense in that. It is the opposite of a report card: The harder people work, the more they are punished.
     Will the Prime Minister end his war on work by cutting taxes so that hard work pays off once again?
    Mr. Speaker, since 2015, we have put success for the middle class and all those who work hard at the heart of everything we do.
    That is why we delivered a Canada child benefit that lifted 435,000 children out of poverty. To date, we have created over 50,000 child care spaces by cutting child care fees in half. We have helped over 230,000 children have access to dental care, and we have added over two million jobs to the economy, increasing the participation of women by over 3%.
    The Conservatives voted against many of these measures. On this side of the House, we will continue to meet the needs of workers—
    The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what we voted against is the Prime Minister's war on work, with higher and higher taxes and clawbacks that punish people for working hard. In fact, a worker can lose as much as 88¢ on the next dollar that he or she earns. There is no common sense in that. Why would people work more just to give it over to the Prime Minister?
    Will the Prime Minister reverse his antiwork taxes and give Canadians a break, so that hard work pays off and Canadians can bring home powerful paycheques?
    Mr. Speaker, from the moment we first got elected in 2015, we put success for the middle class in this country at the heart of everything we do. This is why we delivered a Canada child benefit that lifted hundreds of thousands of kids out of poverty and why we have invested in clean energy and new jobs that have helped Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We have also delivered a Canada workers benefit that the Conservatives voted against, which is supporting low-income workers and continuing to be more generous.
    We moved forward on supports for dental and rental for low-income Canadians that the Conservatives directly voted against.
    We will continue to be there for all Canadians, including workers.
    Mr. Speaker, the only place he has been is in the pockets of Canadian workers, taking away their money. He has raised taxes on paycheques, raised taxes on gas, raised taxes on home heating, raised taxes on food and raised taxes on small businesses. What does he want to do this Saturday? He wants to raise taxes again.
    Inflation is at a 40-year high. After eight years under the Prime Minister, Canadians cannot afford to eat, heat and house themselves.
    Will he show a little bit of restraint and commit, in tomorrow's budget, to no new taxes?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have demonstrated, every step of the way, that we are there to support workers. We are there to support Canadians, and that is exactly what we did when we lowered the small business taxes to record levels and even allowed larger growth for small businesses while continuing to benefit from those. We have continued to step up on supports for workers and continued to step up on supports for families.
    That has created economic growth that has benefited everyone, as opposed to the trickle-down that the Conservatives still push, with tax breaks for the wealthiest. We have continued to grow the economy in meaningful ways for everyone.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, the trickle-down is his. He wants to take away everybody's money, centralize it in his own hands and promise that it will trickle down through his mighty bureaucracy and all the prodigious interest groups that gobble it up. There may be a few little drops that get down to the people who actually earned it in the first place.
    When I first said that deficits would cause inflation, all the experts disagreed. Now they all agree with me.
    In fact, even the finance minister has now come around to my view, admitting that deficit spending causes inflation. That is why people are paying more than at any time in 40 years.
    Will he cap government spending and put an end to the inflationary deficits tomorrow?
    Mr. Speaker, we can tell that the Leader of the Opposition is still hoping and waiting for experts to endorse his plan to opt out of inflation by buying cryptocurrency, something that would have erased the savings of Canadians.
    The fact is that tomorrow, we are bringing forward a budget that is focused on affordability and supporting Canadians. It is going to be delivering health care results for Canadians right across the country and creating great jobs for the middle class in a clean and growing economy. Those are the focuses that we have been laser focused on over the past many years, for Canadians. We will continue to step up and be there to grow the economy and support all Canadians.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, the worst part of his inflationary policies is in the price of housing. We see that now Vancouver is the third-worst housing bubble in the world. Toronto is the 10th. They are worse than Manhattan; Singapore; London, England; and countless other places. The average required down payments, rents and mortgage payments have doubled under the Prime Minister. His inflationary policies have made life worse, and his gatekeeping friends prevent housing construction.
    Will the Prime Minister announce in tomorrow's budget serious penalties for the gatekeepers that drive up housing prices so that hard-working Canadians can have homes they can afford?
    Mr. Speaker, we know Canadians are struggling with the cost of housing, whether it is a young family looking to buy their first home or a student looking for an affordable apartment near campus. That is why we have taken action on so many fronts, from helping Canadians save up for their first home to investing in building and repairing more homes, including supporting local governments to fast-track the creation of 100,000 new homes. We are providing support for low-income renters, which the Conservatives voted against, and ensuring houses are used as homes, not investment vehicles, by curbing unfair practices that drive up prices, including banning foreign homebuyers and putting in a federal anti-flipping rule.

[Translation]

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about Chinese interference. We have not forgotten about it. The Prime Minister has not managed to sweep it under the rug.
    On Thursday, the House of Commons voted in favour of holding an independent public inquiry into Chinese interference. The Bloc agrees, the NDP agrees, the Conservatives agree and 72% of Canadians agree. Even the member for Don Valley North agrees. Even the Liberal member against whom the most serious allegations have been levelled is calling for a real commission to investigate.
    When will the Prime Minister understand that his only defensible option is an independent public commission of inquiry?
    Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue and one that should never be partisan. That is why we appointed an independent expert, our former governor general, David Johnston, to identify any gaps in our system. This special rapporteur will make public recommendations that could include an official inquiry or some other type of independent review, and we will implement his recommendations.
    Two national security organizations will conduct separate reviews of foreign interference in our elections. They are capable of getting to the bottom of this.
    Mr. Speaker, I forgot that the Prime Minister is not the only one who does not want an inquiry. His Liberal buddy Jean Chrétien feels the same way. Interference is not a big deal to Mr. Chrétien as long as the Chinese ambassador or consul general were not walking around with envelopes stuffed with cash. In other words, as long as there are no envelopes full of cash, there is no need to launch an inquiry into our democracy.
    Is that still the Liberal standard for ethical behaviour? Is the Prime Minister comfortable with the fact that his only ally against an independent public inquiry is the man behind the sponsorship scandal?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is obvious how badly the Bloc Québécois wants to turn this into a partisan issue, which it is not. Rather, it is an extremely serious issue that must be dealt with in an impartial and independent manner.
    That is why we have asked an extraordinary Canadian, someone who has demonstrated his loyalty and service to his country, to oversee all the processes necessary to get to the bottom of this matter and assure Canadians that we are doing everything possible to counter foreign interference. That is exactly the serious approach that Canadians deserve, rather than the partisan attacks being levelled by the Bloc and Conservative members.

[English]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, millennials in Canada are feeling the squeeze of inflation more than the rest of Canadians. As a CBC article reports, the trustee in insolvency has concluded that Canadian millennials have been dealt a bad hand, and it is true. If we look at it, they have student debt, bad credit card debt and postpandemic tax debt from collecting CERB. In fact, it means that more and more millennials are filing for bankruptcy.
    In the interest of generational fairness, will the Prime Minister confirm today that there will be measures in the budget to give young Canadians a break?
    Mr. Speaker, from the moment we first took office in 2015, our focus has been on supporting young people and supporting all Canadians. We recognize, for example, that millennials are struggling with the cost of housing, whether it is a young family looking to buy their first home or a student trying to rent an apartment near campus.
    That is why we have been taking action on so many fronts. On housing, we have been helping Canadians save up for their first home. We have been investing in building and repairing more homes, including by supporting local governments to fast-track the creation of 100,000 new homes. We are providing support for low-income renters, which the Conservatives voted against, and we are ensuring houses are used as homes, not investment vehicles.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the cost of living is obviously going up. It is becoming more and more difficult to make ends meet, particularly when it comes time to buy groceries.
    We learned that the government plans to announce a grocery rebate in the budget. I want confirmation today that this rebate is what we have been asking for for a long time, namely the doubling of the GST credit to help people.
    Mr. Speaker, I know that all of my colleagues on both sides of the House are eagerly looking forward to seeing what we are going to do in tomorrow's budget to be there for Canadians, but, like everyone else, they will have to wait to find out all of the measures that we plan to put forward.
    I can say, however, that we will be there to help with the cost of living. We will be there for young people, seniors and all workers with measures that will help them get through these difficult times, while ensuring that we make progress on improving our health care systems for Canadians and creating good jobs for the middle class in a greener, more sustainable and growing economy.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Prime Minister's high taxes and higher government spending, 50% of insolvencies and bankruptcies are on the backs of our millennials, despite them only taking up a quarter of the population. They are borrowing into record deficits just to get by. The dream of home ownership is dead for nine out of 10 young people, who will never get into a home thanks to the Liberals. They will make it even harder when they jack up their failed carbon tax on April 1.
    Will the Prime Minister today commit to no new taxes in tomorrow's budget so Canadians can get into housing?
    Mr. Speaker, since forming government, our government has reduced poverty in this country by 56%. That is 2.7 million Canadians, mostly seniors and children, who are better off because of our government. We have done that by increasing investments in affordability. These are investments in things like child care, dental care and health care. We are well positioned for the future, with our debt-to-GDP ratio and our deficit lower than those of any other country in the G7. Canadians themselves have produced over 830,000 jobs since the start of the pandemic.
    Mr. Speaker, let us look at the record of the most expensive housing minister in Canada's history. This genius spent $89 billion to give Canadians double the cost on mortgages and rents, and now it costs double just to save up for a home. These geniuses have also made the cost of everything going into a house double, like gas, groceries and home heating, and they are going to jack that up even further with their failed carbon tax on April 1.
    Again, will they commit to no new taxes in tomorrow's budget, yes or no?

  (1435)  

    I want to remind hon. members to use their language judiciously and try to respect and not mock or criticize each other.
    The hon. Minister of Housing.
    Mr. Speaker, I guess when one does not have much of a housing plan, one resorts to gimmicks, buzzwords and attacks against one's fellow colleagues.
    What we have done from day one is focus on all Canadians in different spectrums of the housing sector. Whether it is getting people off the streets, building permanently affordable housing for those experiencing homelessness, building more deeply affordable housing for the most vulnerable, making sure we are increasing the supply of new rentals, and, yes, building more home ownership options for first-time homebuyers, we have done all of that, despite the party opposite voting against each and every measure.
    Mr. Speaker, the cost of owning or renting a home in Canada has doubled. The cost of heating that home has doubled. The cost of getting groceries in Canada has gone up by double digits. Despite the inflation that Canadians are paying and the surge in revenue it is creating for the government, its unnamed sources are conditioning Canadians for more spending and higher deficits in tomorrow's budget.
    I have a simple question. Will the Prime Minister tell Canadians today that tomorrow he will not raise taxes on them?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to remind the member opposite that it was our government that reduced taxes for the middle class not once but twice, and reduced taxes for small businesses not once but twice.
    While inflation is a global phenomenon, we in Canada are very well positioned to take care of it. We have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. We have the lowest deficit in the G7. That is going to allow us to continue to invest in Canadians, in good, sustainable, clean jobs, and in making life more affordable.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have never paid higher taxes. More intervention, more bureaucracy, more spending and more debt have created less productivity, less growth and less for Canadians struggling to pay their bills. In this country, we have record credit card debt, record food bank usage and record levels of stress and anxiety on people's finances. It seems the Prime Minister's response is to raise taxes, as he plans to do on Saturday.
    The budget is tomorrow and millions of Canadians who are out of money all want to know if the Prime Minister will commit to no new taxes.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very excited, as is the member opposite, for the release of the budget tomorrow. It is going to be an opportunity for us to continue doing what we have been doing, which is making life more affordable for Canadians by lowering taxes for middle-class Canadians and lowering taxes for small businesses, which has allowed us to grow. Despite the fact that we have the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, we are delivering programs like child care, health care and dental care to make life more affordable for Canadians.

[Translation]

    As you know, Mr. Speaker, a new era was ushered in eight years ago, one where government budgets balance themselves. However, the reality is that, thanks to this Prime Minister's mismanagement of public funds, the cost of a mortgage has doubled since 2015, food has never been more expensive and Canadians have record credit card debt.
     Canadians know full well that they need to pinch pennies to pay their bills. Will the Prime Minister commit to no new taxes?
     Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate my colleague's question. As he knows full well, inflation has continued to decline in Canada over the last eight months. We have the lowest deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
    We were able to manage Canada's finances responsibly over the last few years. We were there for Canadians in those tough times to help them make ends meet.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the parliamentary secretary was in the same twilight zone as the Prime Minister when he said that budgets balance themselves. What we must recognize is that this attitude is why the number of personal bankruptcies in Canada increased by 13.5% in January 2023 and why business bankruptcies rose by 39.1% in 2022.
    Canadians are suffering financially. Will the Prime Minister commit to not imposing any new taxes in tomorrow's budget?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my Conservative colleague that our programs and support helped businesses get through the pandemic and helped Canadians keep their jobs. The government spent $8 out of every $10 during the pandemic to save our economy and Canadians' health.
    We are there for Canadians during this difficult period of global instability by making sure Canadians can make ends meet.

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, on the eve of the budget, I would remind the House that in 2021, this government created a class of vulnerable seniors. It increased the old age security benefit, but only for people aged 75 and over, leaving seniors aged 65 to 74 out in the cold.
    Tomorrow's budget is the perfect opportunity to end this discrimination between those who are old enough and those who are not old enough to deserve a decent quality of life. Inflation makes no such distinction. Will this government finally correct the injustice it has created?
    Mr. Speaker, this government has introduced robust measures to support seniors in Canada. Unlike the Conservatives, who raised the retirement age to 67, we kept it at 65. On top of that, for the most vulnerable seniors, we increased the guaranteed income supplement by 10%, and we increased old age security by 10% for people aged 75 and over.
    We are there for seniors in this country, and we will be there in the future.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, on the eve of the budget, there is not a word about employment insurance. Wait times have ballooned across Quebec. Unemployed people wait in vain for months without service, without any answers and without benefits. That goes for people who are eligible, but many workers in our regions who do seasonal work are not even entitled to anything. The federal government is leaving them in limbo. First, will the budget provide answers to this bureaucratic fiasco? Second, will employment insurance finally be reformed to include all of these workers that Ottawa is leaving behind?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, EI is currently one of the oldest and most complex systems across the Government of Canada. That is why we made a commitment to fully modernize the system. In the past two years, the minister has led more than 35 virtual national and regional roundtables with workers, employers and academics.
    EI reform is a priority. We are on it, and we will get it done.

[Translation]

Oil and Gas Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the government promised to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2023. It is now 2023, and tomorrow just happens to be budget day. I am sure everyone can see where I am going with this. My question is quite simple.
    Can the Minister of Environment confirm that the budget will not include a penny, not a single penny, not one cent in new subsidies to the oil industry, either direct or hidden?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. As she probably knows, we eliminated international subsidies for fossil fuels at the end of last year. That is billions of dollars that we are now investing in clean technologies. We have also committed to eliminating all fossil fuel subsidies by the first half of 2023, and we will get there.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, a recent survey showed that only 2% of Canadian farmers believe Liberals are doing a good job supporting agriculture. That should not come as a surprise, as the Liberals are increasing the carbon tax on April 1 and imposing their farm-killing carbon tax on Atlantic Canadians on July 1. The food price index says that when the Liberals triple their carbon tax, it will cost an average Canadian farmer $150,000 a year. There are very real consequences to these carbon tax hikes. They are driving up costs on farmers, which is then driving up food costs for Canadian families.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to no new taxes?

  (1445)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, once again, our government is there to support our farmers. We have been the most generous government in helping them make this transition to an ever more sustainable agriculture.
    We know that our farmers are doing everything they can to ensure the future of their farms so they can pass them on to their children. I can guarantee that we will continue to support them.
    We are supporting them through the sustainable Canadian agricultural partnership, which represents an investment of $3.5 billion. That is an increase of $500 million to help our farmers.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what the Liberals are providing is increases in taxes. They have to understand there are very real consequences to those tax hikes, and Canadians are paying the price.
    Pasta is up 23%. Lettuce is up 20%, and apples are up 16%. The Liberals want to drive food costs even higher by increasing the carbon tax on April 1. All this will do is drive more Canadians to the food bank. The Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto saw its visits quadruple in March, and the staff at that food bank said the numbers they are seeing are startling and “horrific”.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to no new taxes on Canadian families so they can afford to put food on their own tables?
    Mr. Speaker, I have been sitting in this chamber for the last seven and a half years, as many of my colleagues on the other side have as well, and what I remember is that we have put several measures on the floor, which helped Canadian families, that the Conservatives voted against. Whether it was with the middle class tax cut, the reduction of taxes for small businesses or the increase to the Canada child benefit, which gives nine out of 10 Canadian families more money tax-free and lifted 450,000 children out of poverty, and that the Conservatives voted against, we have been there for Canadians.
    We will continue to be there for Canadians. We just hope the members opposite, if they are sincere—
    The hon. member for Calgary Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, small businesses are struggling in this inflationary environment. Borrowing costs and bankruptcies are both up. Most economists agree that we are on the verge of a recession, and the government's response is to increase taxes on April 1, which will hurt small business owners. The carbon tax increases inflation and has a significant effect on small businesses. They cannot pass on those costs to their customers, and the government is indifferent to these effects.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to no new taxes for small business owners in tomorrow' budget?
    Mr. Speaker, that question allows us to outline the important initiatives we have taken over these last seven and a half years. We have put in place measures that help alleviate the burdens that are on small business owners in this country. On two occasions, we have lowered taxes for small businesses, the same entities that member is advocating for, and on both of those occasions he and every member of his party voted against those measures.
    What we also did at the height of the COVID pandemic was implement a series of measures targeted at wage supports and loan supports for those very same small businesses. Surely, that is something we could have all gotten behind, yet again, the voting record of the party opposite speaks for itself.

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, we have known for a long time now that CERB debt incurred by desperate people at the height of the pandemic would disrupt Canada child benefit payments, which people rely on to feed and clothe their children. The Liberals are quick to say not to worry about it and that they will deal with it on a compassionate, case-by-case basis.
    How is it compassionate for families to be surprised by an $800 shortfall in their monthly revenue? How is it compassionate for parents, now worried about their rent cheques bouncing, to have to sit on the phone for days just for a chance to beg CRA for relief?
    Real compassion requires a policy of CERB debt amnesty for low-income Canadians. When is the government going to do it?
    Mr. Speaker, when the pandemic hit, we acted quickly to get recovery benefits into people's bank accounts without delay. To achieve that goal, we planned to verify eligibility in the back end after the fact. This approach kept workers attached to their jobs and positioned our economy to come roaring back.
    Lower-income workers and groups most impacted by the pandemic were able to benefit from all of our programs. We did the right thing. We will continue to have the backs of low-income Canadians and workers.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals secretly negotiated a deal to shut down the entire Canada-U.S. border with an invisible wall. This will only drive persecuted asylum seekers on a more dangerous pathway.
    Seidu Mohammed, an LGBTQ man, nearly died crossing irregularly to Canada in the dead of winter. His asylum claim was found to be valid, and he got his Canadian citizenship just this year. If this policy applied then, he would have been sent back to Ghana to face discrimination and violence for being who he is.
    Why are the Liberals taking a page from Trump and denying—

  (1450)  

    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate an announcement that we made Friday. We have finally updated the safe third country agreement, the agreement that applies to the entire Canada-U.S. border. On top of that, we will be welcoming 50,000 people from America to promote safe and orderly migration. This is a major victory for Canada.

Foreign Affairs

     Mr. Speaker, members of the Armenian-Canadian community in my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt and beyond are concerned by the rising tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. It has now been more than 100 days since the start of the Lachin corridor blockade. There is a growing humanitarian crisis and Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are fearing that the conflict may soon escalate.
    Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs please inform the House about our government's efforts on this important issue?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her important question. I share the concerns of Armenian Canadians, and Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. We continue to call on Azerbaijan authorities to reopen the Lachin corridor. We need to prevent the worsening of the humanitarian crisis.
    Canada supports the 2020 ceasefire agreement, including the return of Armenian prisoners of war. It is important that the ceasefire, which is supported by the E.U. monitoring group, be respected.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, the Governor of the Bank of Canada warned that the recent pause on interest rates was dependent on limited government spending. Excuse my skepticism, but Conservatives know of, and Canadians have witnessed, record uncontrolled deficit spending.
    Will the government, in tomorrow's budget, commit to no new spending, or will it continue its reckless tax-and-spend policy, risking higher inflation and more interest rate hikes?
    Mr. Speaker, our plan is not just making life more affordable for Canadians, it is also to be fiscally responsible. Canada has reconfirmed our AAA credit rating. We have recovered 126% of jobs lost during the pandemic, while the United States has only recovered 114%. We have the lowest deficit and the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. This positions us very well going into the next budget to get inflation under control, improve affordability and create sustainable clean jobs.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives know that every dollar the government spends is another dollar out of Canadians' pockets. That is a dollar that could have been spent on groceries, as Canadians line up for food banks. That is a dollar that could have been spent on a down payment on a new house. Instead, Canadians are struggling to pay their rent.
    When will the government finally give Canadians a break and reduce the taxes on carbon, beer, wine and spirits? Will the government finally commit to no new taxes in tomorrow's budget?
    Mr. Speaker, one thing Canadians listening at home know is that one dollar invested by this government will provide opportunities across the country. Canadians have seen that in biomanufacturing, for example, as we have Moderna in our country.
    Canadians are seeing that we are attracting the likes of Volkswagen to our country to build our ecosystem and the battery ecosystem. Canadians are seeing we have record investment in this country, and one thing they trust is that we will continue investing in their future because that is what we need for the economy of the 21st century.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this inflationary Prime Minister, I would encourage him to listen to what Guy Parent, who has worked as a trucker for the past 30 years, had to say about the carbon tax. He said, “The automatic reaction of the companies that have to pay the tax is to pass it on to the customer. It is the customer who will have to pay. That is how the inflation game works.”
    According to the truckers, all Quebeckers will be affected, and according to them, a large number of products, such as commodities, fruits, vegetables and even televisions, will now cost more.
    My question is simple. Will the Prime Minister commit to scrapping this new tax tomorrow?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to my hon. colleague that the federal carbon tax will not apply in Quebec because Quebec has its own cap-and-trade system.
    My department will be happy to provide him with all of the necessary information so that he can give his constituents the right information.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the truckers who transport the food we eat here will pay more in carbon tax starting April 1. That is not an April Fool's joke; it is the truth.
    On April 1, the carbon tax is going up. On April 1, the tax on wine, alcohol and spirits is going up. People are going to pay more for everything when they are already stretched to the limit.
    My question is simple: Tomorrow, will the Prime Minister cancel all new taxes on Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to remind my hon. colleague that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has made it clear that eight out of 10 Canadians currently receive more money from federal carbon pricing—where it applies—than it costs them.
    Therefore, 90% of the carbon pricing is recycled. The remaining 10% is being invested in programs to help small, medium-sized and large businesses reduce their consumption of oil, coal and natural gas.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, after six years of repeatedly asking for Roxham Road to be closed, after repeating hundreds of times that asylum seekers should not be greeted by RCMP officers, after saying over and over again that the influx far exceeds Quebec's capacity, we see that Roxham Road is finally closed.
    That is good news. It should have been done a long time ago. Now, as we know, before we celebrate, we need to read the fine print. The devil is in the details.
    When will the government share the new safe third country agreement with the United States in full and with all the details?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I hope that he heard President Biden's speech in the House on Friday.
    Once again, Canada and the United States just announced an update to the safe third country agreement. That is great news, because this new agreement will allow us to better manage refugee claimants from both our countries and ensure that our refugee system is caring and compassionate. This is a shared responsibility, a responsibility that Canada is taking.
    Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I was here for the President's speech. We understand that the Liberals are proud of their accomplishment and that they are happy. We are happy, too.
    However, there are still many unanswered questions, and many people are wondering, starting, I imagine, with Mr. Pierre Guay, who owns land near Roxham Road and is a generous Liberal Party donor. Mr. Guay signed leases estimated at $28 million for land and premises that Ottawa will no longer need since Roxham Road is closed.
    Will the government break those leases and recover millions of dollars or will it give a very generous gift to a good Liberal donor?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member of the Bloc Québécois that, every time he asked questions in the House, he asked us to suspend the agreement.
    Let us be clear. I would like to confirm that with my colleagues today. The Quebec government strongly supports our new agreement. If the Bloc Québécois has some concerns about what is happening in Quebec and to Quebeckers, I invite him to perhaps join Quebec in supporting the new agreement, which was updated.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years, whether it be our seniors on fixed incomes fighting the ever-rising cost of living, or families experiencing punishing fuel and grocery costs or our farmers, producers and transporters who literally keep our land, grow our food and haul our goods, Canadians are being crushed by soaring input costs, including the ineffective and punitive carbon tax.
    Canadians from coast to coast are desperate for some relief in the budget tomorrow. Will the Prime Minister get off their backs and commit to no new taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, yet another day, another Conservative stands up and pretends to care about seniors. Just in case that member forgets how many times the official opposition has forgotten about seniors and voted against them, let me remind him. On GIS for single seniors, the Conservatives voted against an increase. They voted against increasing the OAS for those 75 and over. They voted against providing rent relief for vulnerable Canadians.
    Those members stand up on a regular basis, and I am looking forward to seeing how they vote on the budget when we do more things for all Canadians, including seniors.

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this Prime Minister, former bank governor, Stephen Poloz, now says that Liberal deficit spending drove up inflation. The current bank governor said the same thing last fall. If he will not listen to us, maybe the Prime Minister will listen to the bank governors.
    Inflationary Liberal spending and taxes drive up the cost of everything. People cannot afford to eat or even heat their homes. To make matters worse, now the Liberals are going to triple the carbon tax.
    I have a simple question. Will the Prime Minister commit to no new taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that inflation has been challenging for Canadians. That is why we are focused on a legislative agenda that makes life more affordable for Canadians. However, it is important for members opposite, everybody in the House and Canadians across the country to understand that this is a global phenomenon.
    Fortunately, inflation has been coming down. It is down to 5.2%. It is much lower than our peer economies, such as the United States or in Europe. It is actually positioning us quite well to invest in further measures that will make life more affordable, but will also make an economy that works well for everybody.
    Mr. Speaker, reckless spending, record debt and tax increases is a result of eight years of this Prime Minister. With the cost of living climbing higher and higher and the economic outlook more bleak than ever, many Canadians are at their breaking point.
     In tomorrow's budget, the government should reassure all Canadians that it will stand behind them, exhibit some fiscal responsibility and help restore stability in the country.
     Will the Prime Minister commit to cancelling the planned carbon tax hike and no new taxes in tomorrow's budget?
    Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the member is not talking about the record of our government for eight years.
    Just this morning, there is a company right here in Ottawa, Ranovus, $100 million of investment in the top semiconductor in the world. We are becoming the silicon valley of the north. Not only are they going to be the most powerful, but they are going to be the greenest in the world. That is how investment is translating into jobs and jobs into growth. That is the way forward.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we are almost halfway through tax season. As MPs, it is our responsibility to help our constituents, especially members of vulnerable populations, file their income tax returns so they can receive the benefits and credits they need.
    Could the Minister of Revenue inform the House of what we can do to help them?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Châteauguay—Lacolle for her excellent question.
    I want to point out that during this tax season every riding has several free tax clinics, which help hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Canadians file their tax returns every year. I invite my colleagues to promote these clinics to help their constituents obtain the benefits and credits to which they are entitled.
    I also want to take the time to thank the volunteers for the fantastic work they do in their communities.

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, we have a shortage of affordable housing across Canada for which seniors are unable to qualify. After eight years of this Prime Minister, housing has become unaffordable and rent has skyrocketed. Shirley is already struggling to pay for the 11% increase in grocery prices and cannot afford to pay for her rent.
    Will the Prime Minister listen to our seniors, show some compassion and commit to no new taxes?
    Mr. Speaker, seniors are actually a priority population in the national housing strategy. We have invested billions of dollars to make sure that vulnerable groups, including seniors, have access to safe and affordable housing that meets their needs. In addition to that, seniors are eligible for the Canada housing benefit in addition to the top-up that the Conservative members of Parliament voted against. Not only did they vote against that help for seniors, they actually played procedural games in the House to delay that help that seniors needed to pay the rent.

  (1505)  

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, let us imagine being $200 away from bankruptcy. After eight years of this Prime Minister, most Canadians, in fact half of all Canadians, do not have to imagine it because that is their reality.
     The cost-of-living crisis is destroying families across the country. Housing has doubled under this Prime Minister, and the out-of-control food costs are forcing people to skip meals. Andrea wrote to me and said, “We normally skip lunch, even my three kids, because I just can't afford three meals a day right now.”
    We have a chance, right now, today, and it is long overdue, for the Prime Minister to show compassion and to actually support Canadians. Will he today commit to no new taxes—
    The hon. Minister of Families.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take my hon. Conservative colleagues at face value when they say they care and want to show compassion to Canadians, but when they have had the opportunity over the past eight years, every single time they have voted against Canadians. Whether it was the Canada child benefit that has helped lift 450,000 children out of poverty, they voted against. Whether it was lowering taxes on the middle class that helped millions of Canadians across the country, they voted against. Whether it was the Canada workers benefit that helped low-income Canadians stay in the workforce, they voted against. I would like them to show that compassion—
    The hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, everything is getting more expensive. Successive interest rate hikes have doubled mortgage payments in Canada. One family in four will have to pay $1,065 more for groceries this year. The cost of heating, energy, food and even alcohol will continue to increase with this government. After eight years, this Prime Minister's policies are only making things worse.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to no new taxes in tomorrow's budget, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, people will have to excuse me for not revealing the details of the budget now. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance will present the budget tomorrow. I am delighted that everyone in the House is so excited about our upcoming budget.
    In the meantime, I would like to say how hard our government has worked to ensure that we will always be there for Canadians.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, as we continue to face increasing global uncertainty, our relations with our friends across the border are now more important than ever.
     Last week, we welcomed the President of the United States, Joe Biden, to our nation's capital, where he addressed Parliament. Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs update the House on the outcomes of this historic visit and our respective governments' commitments with our closest friends and neighbours?
    Mr. Speaker, President Biden's visit last week provided an opportunity to make very important announcements: historic investments in our Great Lakes; expanding the safe third country agreement to cover the full border; additional commitments to NORAD to protect our skies; and creating good jobs, including union jobs, on both sides of the border.
    When it comes to our closest friend and ally, we can count on this government to get the job done.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Veterans Affairs has been clawing back pensions from women RCMP veterans. These women experienced extreme brutality while protecting our country, and the government is denying what they are owed as directed by the Merlo Davidson lawsuit.
    The New Democrats have been calling for these clawbacks to stop and, after months, finally the minister agrees. These women deserve action.
     Will the minister apologize to these women, stop the clawback and reimburse the money they are rightfully owed from their pensions?
    Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the work that the ombud and her office is doing to provide recommendations to government and thank her for highlighting this issue.
    The women who came forward and disclosed their experience in Merlo Davidson did so with incredible courage. We will contact the veterans who have had their disability pensions reduced by the Merlo Davidson settlement to give them an opportunity to submit additional information for recalculation, and correct the payment if appropriate.

  (1510)  

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, something pretty shocking happened in this place last week. I refer to the statement made by the hon. member for Don Valley North.
    I am pretty scandalized that anonymous smears from CSIS end up destroying reputations with no real opportunity to respond. It is not like CSIS ever gets anything wrong. Just ask Maher Arar.
    What the heck is going on here? Will an inquiry find out who in CSIS thinks it is okay to leak to the media? It is wrong.
    Mr. Speaker, we have said from the beginning that our government takes these issues of foreign interference very seriously.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    The hon. minister, from the top, please.
    Mr. Speaker, our government has said that we have consistently taken these issues of foreign interference seriously. We have put in place a series robust steps.
    We also think this discussion merits a non-partisan fact-based focus. That is why we think the appointment of the Right Hon. David Johnston offers all of us an opportunity to look at the issues, to have a fact-based conversation about what additional steps our government could take. That is the best way to ensure that this process has integrity, and that is the process we are going to be following.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Telecommunications Act

    The House resumed from March 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act respecting cyber security, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    It being 3:12 p.m., pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-26.

[Translation]

    Call in the members.

[English]

  (1525)  

[Translation]

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

(Division No. 287)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Allison
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arnold
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Block
Blois
Boulerice
Bradford
Bragdon
Brassard
Brière
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Cannings
Caputo
Carrie
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Chambers
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Chong
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cooper
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Dalton
Damoff
Davidson
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Doherty
Dong
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Ellis
Epp
Erskine-Smith
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Fergus
Ferreri
Fillmore
Findlay
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gerretsen
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gould
Gourde
Gray
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hallan
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Hoback
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Jeneroux
Johns
Joly
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Kelly
Khalid
Khera
Kitchen
Kmiec
Koutrakis
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lake
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lantsman
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
Lawrence
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lightbound
Lloyd
Lobb
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maguire
Maloney
Martel
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLean
McLeod
McPherson
Melillo
Mendès
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Moore
Morantz
Morrice
Morrison
Morrissey
Motz
Murray
Muys
Naqvi
Nater
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Poilievre
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Rood
Ruff
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Scheer
Schiefke
Schmale
Seeback
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Shields
Shipley
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Small
Sorbara
Soroka
Sousa
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
St-Onge
Strahl
Stubbs
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Thompson
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Uppal
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Van Popta
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Weiler
Williams
Williamson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zimmer
Zuberi

Total: -- 321


NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Members

Dzerowicz
Gallant
Simard
Wilkinson

Total: -- 4


    I declare the motion carried.
    Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)


Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Chief Electoral Officer of Canada

    It is my duty to lay upon the table, pursuant to subsection 536 of the Canada Elections Act, the report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the by-election held in the electoral district of Mississauga—Lakeshore on December 12, 2022.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(a), this report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to seven petitions.
    These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 104 and Standing Order 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 31st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees of the House.

[Translation]

    If the House gives its consent, I move that the 31st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be concurred in.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Business of the House

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

  (1530)  

[English]

    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order, special order or usual practice of the House, later today,
(a) the ordinary hour of daily adjournment be midnight;
(b) after 6:30 p.m.;
(i) no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair;
(ii) if the House has not already completed its consideration of the motion for second reading of Bill C-41, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, it shall complete it pursuant to the order made on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, and thereafter proceed with the resumption of debate on the motion considered earlier today respecting amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-11, an Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts;
(iii) when no Member rises to speak on the motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-11, or at midnight, whichever is earlier, the debate on the said motion be deemed adjourned and the House be deemed adjourned until the next sitting day; and
(c) the debate pursuant to standing order 38 not take place.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    I want to beg your indulgence, because I know there is normally not debate on motions. I just want to make sure something is very clear, because this morning I raised a point of order on the admissibility of the motion, and Conservatives will agree to this motion as long as the Chair views it as the scheduling of debate and as long as it will in no way prejudice your ruling on the admissibility of Motion No. 2.
    Because the phrase “notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House” is in this motion, I just want to make sure the Chair views this very clearly as a scheduling motion and not as something that would touch in any way on the point of order I raised earlier today.
    That is a fair question. We are working on it as we speak, and it is in process. In no way will the debate affect the ruling.
    Could all those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion please say nay? It is agreed.

[Translation]

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

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Gatineau Park  

     Mr. Speaker, I am presenting an important petition today asking the government to amend the National Capital Act to give Gatineau Park the necessary legal protection to ensure its preservation for future generations.

[English]

    This petition was initiated by the Ottawa Valley chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, or CPAWS. On behalf of nearly 600 residents, I would like to recognize the hard work of John McDonnell, the executive director, and Paul Lemoine, chair of the board, who are on the Hill today.

Climate Change  

    Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to present two petitions.
    The first is a petition signed by people across the country, calling on the government to enact just transition legislation. The Prime Minister and his government say all the right things when it comes to taking care of our environment. The problem is that their actions never match their rhetoric. They promised to plant billions of trees, but instead gave billions to big oil.
    I hope the government will finally start listening to people, including those who signed the petition, and bring in just transition legislation that, among other things, reduces emissions by 60%, ends fossil fuel subsidies, creates good green jobs, respects indigenous sovereignty and ensures that the just transition is paid for by the billionaire class through the establishment of a wealth tax.

Seniors  

    Madam Speaker, the other petition calls on the government to stop punishing single seniors for the mere fact of being single. Petitioners call on the government to offer tax benefits to single seniors equal to those in place for senior couples, acknowledging as well that there is a particular gendered impact, and it is single women seniors who often pay the price.

Environmental Sustainability  

    Madam Speaker, petitioners are asking that the House consider the current ecological, social and economic crises and the way in which they are interconnected; that the importance be recognized of making decisions based on scientific evidence; and that it find ways to ensure that the environment and sustainability matter in the decisions we make.
    Petitioners particularly want us to focus on the challenge of environmental education across society, relying on indigenous knowledge in the way we understand the decisions we have to make. Petitioners ask, therefore, that the House of Commons take a leadership role in enacting a Canadian strategy to support educators, communicators and community leaders, as well as governments, to focus on healthy and sustainable paths to a sustainable, survivable future.

  (1535)  

Human Rights  

    Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to table today. Both deal with private members' bills that Conservative members have proposed.
    The first is about a private member's bill I have put forward: Bill C-257. Petitioners want to see this legislation adopted. Bill C-257 seeks to combat political discrimination by adding political activity or belief as a prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. This would align the federal Human Rights Act with most of Canada's provinces in this regard. Petitioners want to see the House support Bill C-257, which would ban discrimination on the basis of political belief or activity and would also defend the rights of Canadians to peacefully express their political opinions.
    Madam Speaker, the second petition is in support of my colleague from Northumberland—Peterborough South's Bill C-281, the international human rights act.
    Petitioners note the importance of Canada's defending human rights and adjusting legislation to ensure the government is accountable to Parliament in the ongoing fight for justice and human rights. Petitioners call on the House to quickly adopt Bill C-281, the international human rights act.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 1208, 1212, 1216, 1218, 1221 and 1224.

[Text]

Question No. 1208—
Mr. Kevin Vuong:
    With regard to the $20 million federal grant provided to Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre in August 2021 for upgrades and repairs: (a) was there a public consultative requirement for the centre to facilitate public engagement and inclusion in the formulation of the centre’s repair and reconstruction planning and updates on activities; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, was Canadian Heritage advised on when the consultations were held and, if so, when did these consultations occur; (c) what specific projects did the federal government’s grant initially support; (d) what projects were subsequently replaced by the centre’s decision to add new projects and was any part of the grant allocated for the construction of retail commercial outlets; (e) did Canadian Heritage approve any of the subsequent project objectives, and, if so, which ones; and (f) on what date was Canadian Heritage informed by the centre of the change in plans related to eliminating the existing public skating rink and did Canadian Heritage approve this change?
Mr. Chris Bittle (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), as an independent not-for-profit organization, Harbourfront Centre is responsible for setting priorities for its ongoing infrastructure projects and making its own decisions accordingly. There is no public consultative requirement as part of the contribution agreement between PCH and Harbourfront Centre.
    With regard to part (b), there is no response.
    With regard to part (c), as part of the recovery fund for arts, culture, heritage and sport sectors under budget 2021, $20 million was awarded to Harbourfront Centre for capital infrastructure work done over two years, from 2021 to 2023. This funding sought to address urgent capital improvements and repairs to update performance spaces and venues; address health and safety elements to welcome back artists, visitors, audiences and staff; provide greater accessibility throughout the site; achieve reductions in energy and water use targeting future zero-carbon levels; and allow for continued urgent capital repairs. The contribution agreement for these funds was signed on August 18, 2021.
    With regard to parts (d), (e) and (f), following an interim report from Harbourfront Centre on October 4, 2022, an amendment was made to the agreement to reflect changes to the schedule and project list, signed November 10, 2022. These updates respect its contribution agreement requirements and fiscal responsibility towards the project and represent good stewardship of public funds.
Question No. 1212—
Mr. Dane Lloyd:
    With regard to the government's reaction to reports that United States National Guard troops have been handing out bus tickets to migrants in New York City for travel to Roxham Road: (a) has the government made any representations with officials in the United States, including New York City municipal officials, to stop this, and, if so, what are the details of those representations, including the (i) date, (ii) government officials who made the representation, (iii) title of the official in the United States who received the representation; (b) what assurances, if any, has the government received that the handing out of bus tickets will stop; and (c) what is the government's estimate on the number of individuals who have crossed the border at Roxham Road after receiving these bus tickets?
Ms. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, insofar as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, or IRCC, is concerned, the answer is as follows. With regard to part (a), engaging with United States officials is not the exclusive purview of IRCC. As of February 6, 2023, IRCC officials had not made any representations with U.S. officials.
    With regard to part (b), engaging with U.S. officials is not the exclusive purview of IRCC. As of February 6, 2023, IRCC had not received assurances.
    With regard to part (c), the collection of information on asylum seekers at Roxham Road is outside IRCC’s purview. IRCC does not collect or use data on means of arrival to ports of entry as part of the asylum claim process, as it is not considered part of the determination decision-making process.
Question No. 1216—
Ms. Leah Gazan:
    With regard to the National Research Council buildings located at 435 and 445 Ellice Avenue, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that were declared surplus in 2012: (a) where is the government in the process of selling these buildings; (b) are any federal employees still working at either building, and, if so, how many are working at each; (c) are there any non-federal government tenants who rent space in these buildings, and, if so, who are the tenants; (d) are there any non-federal government employees currently working in either building, and, if so, how many and who is their employer; (e) has there been any agreement reached with the Public Health Agency of Canada or the Manitoba Métis Federation and are there any other interested parties; and f) what is the current cost to maintain each of these buildings?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), the Ellice Avenue property of National Research Council Canada, or NRC, was declared surplus in 2012, and the NRC began the process of selling the property in 2013. This process included consultation with indigenous communities and has involved various interested parties over the years. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the spring of 2020, the Public Health Agency of Canada, or PHAC, identified new and urgent requirements for laboratory space and entered into a collaboration with the NRC on life science and pandemic-related work. This collaboration included work at the Ellice Avenue property. The NRC is committed to supporting the Government of Canada’s life sciences and biomanufacturing strategy, as well as pandemic response and preparedness. The past and current collaborations in support of the work of PHAC will be critical in achieving outcomes in these areas.
    With regard to part (b), there are 71 federal employees working at 435 Ellice Avenue and 80 federal employees working at 445 Ellice Avenue.
    With regard to part (c), the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority rents space at 435 Ellice Avenue.
    With regard to part (d), there are 70 employees of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority working at 435 Ellice Avenue.
    With regard to part (e), given the new and ongoing government needs for laboratory facilities in Winnipeg, the NRC has decided to retain the property. The NRC continues to explore possible leasing arrangements for the office tower portion of the property.
    With regard to part (f), in the 2021-22 fiscal year, the operating costs for the NRC properties at 435 and 445 Ellice Avenue totalled $1,585,992.
Question No. 1218—
Mr. Damien C. Kurek:
    With regard to requests made under the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act (ATIP), since January 1, 2020, broken down by entity subject to the ATIP: (a) how many requests did not receive an extension but still took longer than 30 days to process; (b) how many requests took longer to process than the time noted on the initial extension; (c) how many requests did the government consider to be abandoned by the requestor; (d) what measures does the entity take to ensure that individuals processing ATIP requests make every possible effort to ensure that the requestor actually wants to abandon their request, as opposed to automatically assuming a request is abandoned after not receiving a response from the requestor to a follow-up inquiry; and (e) how many extensions of more than five years have been issued?
Mr. Greg Fergus (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the President of the Treasury Board), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to questions (a), (b), (c) and (e), the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, or TBS, collects data for each fiscal year from each institution subject to the acts on the number of requests received, closed, outstanding, carried over, abandoned and responded to according to the legislative timeline of 30 days and extensions taken, broken down by length of time taken: 30 days or less, 31 to 60 days, 61 to 120 days, 121 to 180 days, 181 to 365 days or more than 365 days. It collects data on the amount of time required to close requests: 0 to 30 days, 31 to 60 days, 61 to 120 days or 121 days or more. It also collects data on the number of requests that were closed beyond legislated timelines where an extension or no extension was taken.
    TBS publishes a summary of this information annually in the access to information and privacy statistical report, as well as datasets that contain all the statistical data reported by all institutions, broken down by institution, at https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/access-information-privacy/statistics-atip.html. The information requested in parts (a), (b), (c) and (e) can be found, calculated and compared from year to year based on the published datasets. Institutions also individually report this information to Parliament in their annual reports on the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act, which institutions table in Parliament and publish online each fall.
    The latest available data is for fiscal year 2021-22, from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022. Data for fiscal year 2022-23 is expected to be collected by the end of September 2023 and published by December 31, 2023.
    With regard to question (e), the dataset for the supplemental statistics for the 2021-22 fiscal year is also included at the link provided above, which includes information regarding requests that are still open as of March 31, 2022, divided by the year they were received. Therefore, all requests received in fiscal year 2015-16 and before under the column “Open Requests Within Legislated Timelines” are guaranteed to have been issued an extension of longer than 5 years.
    TBS proactively makes the information sought in the above question publicly available every year towards the end of the calendar year.
    With regard to question (d), TBS provides policies and directives as guidance to all institutions on all aspects of access to information and privacy. However, access to information and privacy, or ATIP, offices are responsible for ensuring that when processing requests, every possible effort is made to ensure that the requester really wants to abandon their request before closing it.
    The definition provided to institutions for an abandoned request is as follows. A request is considered abandoned when the requester formally withdraws it, the required fees are not received within the timeline specified by the institution in a notice or the requester does not respond to a notice indicating that the request will be closed if they do not provide clarification within the specified timeline.
    In order for a request to be processed, the requester must submit a request for access to a record “in writing to the government institution that has control of the record and shall provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee of the institution to identify the record with a reasonable effort”, as prescribed by section 6 of the Access to Information Act, accompanied by an application fee of five dollars, as prescribed by paragraph 11(1)(a) of the Access to Information Act and paragraph 7(1)(a) of the access to information regulations. Should these conditions not be met, institutions write to the requester seeking either the additional information or the application fee, setting a deadline for these to be provided. If the requester does not provide the missing information or fee in the prescribed time, the request is abandoned.
Question No. 1221—
Mr. Stephen Ellis:
    With regard to the government's $173 million funding for Medicago announced in 2020: (a) does the government or the Mitsubishi Chemical Group own the intellectual property developed as a result of this funding; (b) what measures, if any, did the government take to ensure that the intellectual property developed from the funding would remain in Canada; (c) did the government receive any long-term job commitments from Medicago or Mitsubishi Chemical Group in return for the $173 million, and, if so, what are the details of such commitments; and (d) did the government receive value for money in exchange for the $173 million, and, if not, what corrective action is being taken?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), in projects supported by the strategic innovation fund, or SIF, the Crown does not have an ownership interest in intellectual property resulting from the project, nor will the Crown acquire new rights in existing intellectual property owned or licensed by the company. Strategic innovation fund contribution agreements require companies to own the background intellectual property or hold sufficient background intellectual property rights to enable their projects. Additionally, companies must hold sufficient rights to permit the use of the intellectual property resulting from their projects’ activities. The Government of Canada’s efforts with parent company Mitsubishi are to protect the company’s world-leading intellectual property science and retain top talent by assisting the workers impacted by the announcement.
    With regard to part (b), the SIF of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, or ISED, provides funding to projects that, one, have a strong research and development capacity or resources to develop new technologies and unique inventions; two, will build a strong intellectual property portfolio or broaden the scope of an already strong intellectual property portfolio; and three, can commercialize the intellectual property portfolio in Canada with strong public benefits. The Government of Canada makes strong efforts to protect and retain intellectual property in Canada. Recipients of the strategic innovation fund, including Medicago Inc., are required to take appropriate steps to protect the intellectual property resulting from activities supported through the program, including retention of project intellectual property in Canada. A recipient may be in default of its agreement if it fails to fulfill any of its contractual obligations, including intellectual property obligations. ISED will continue to work with Medicago and Mitsubishi on protecting their world-leading intellectual property science, retaining top talent and ensuring that all obligations under the agreement are fulfilled, including remedies.
    With regard to part (c), the Medicago COVID-19 project announced 75 jobs created and 275 jobs maintained.
    With regard to part (d), in October 2020, the SIF supported Medicago’s virus-like particles vaccine and biomanufacturing capabilities in Canada based on the expert advice of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, or VTF, and following robust due diligence, which included technical, market and financial reviews. This support was in order to build pandemic preparedness in the uncertainty of a public health crisis and to retain intellectual property in Canada. The supported project led to the successful development and regulatory approval of the only Canadian-based COVID-19 vaccine and the first plant-based vaccine in the world.
Question No. 1224—
Ms. Marilyn Gladu:
    With regard to the Canadian Sport Helpline: (a) how many calls, texts or emails has the line received since its inception, broken down by month; and (b) how many times was each sport or organization the subject of the calls, texts or emails in (a), broken down by sport or organization?
Hon. Pascale St-Onge (Minister of Sport and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the data is the property of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, an independent organization from Sport Canada. As a start, the “Pilot Project Evaluation Report” of the Canadian sport helpline and investigation unit can be found on its website, at http://www.crdsc-sdrcc.ca/eng/documents/Evaluation_of_Safe_Sport_Initiatives_-_Final_report_31_March_2020.pdf.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Madam Speaker, if the government's responses to Questions Nos. 1207, 1209 to 1211, 1213 to 1215, 1217, 1219, 1220, 1222 and 1225 to 1227 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 1207—
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the International Mobility Program (IMP), since January 1, 2016: (a) what are the top 10 employers, in terms of the number of applications received by the government from the employers, for the IMP, and how many employees have each of the top 10 employers sponsored through the IMP; (b) for each employer in (a), what is the overview of the jobs that each has sponsored, including the (i) type of business, (ii) job titles and work description, (iii) wage ranges; (c) how much money was collected by the government in (i) 2021, (ii) 2022, from compliance fees related to the IMP; (d) how many separate employers were the fees in (c) collected from; (e) what is the number of employers currently ineligible for the IMP as a result of non-compliance; (f) how many investigations were conducted by (i) the Canada Border Services Agency (ii) Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada, related to violations of workers' rights or other suspected infractions of companies which used the IMP; (g) of the investigations in (f), what were the results, including, for each finding of wrongdoing, the (i) company's name, (ii) date the wrongdoing took place, (iii) description of the wrongdoing, (iv) punitive action taken by the government; (h) what was the total number of applications received each year under the IMP; and (i) what was the total number of applicants who arrived in Canada through the IMP each year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1209—
Ms. Rachel Blaney:
    With regard to PacifiCan funding programs, broken down by federal electoral district in British Columbia since the agency’s inception: (a) what are the details of all projects that received funding under the Regional Innovation Ecosystems program stream, including the (i) business or organization name, (ii) total amount of funding received; (b) what are the details of all projects that received funding under the Regional Quantum Initiative, including the (i) business or organization name, (ii) total amount of funding received; (c) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Economic Development Initiative, including the (i) business or organization name, (ii) total amount of funding received, (iii) official language minority community that the funding supports; (d) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Community Economic Development and Diversification program, including the (i) business or organization name, (ii) total amount of funding received; (e) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Strategic Partnerships Initiative, including the (i) Indigenous community name, (ii) total amount of funding received; (f) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Strategic Innovation Fund, including the (i) name of the project, (ii) total amount of funding contribution, (iii) total investment leveraged, (iv) number of jobs created and maintained; (g) what is the total amount of funding delivered through past programs, including through the (i) Canadian Experiences Fund, (ii) Steel and Aluminum Initiative, (iii) Western Innovation Initiative, (iv) Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program; and (h) what is the total amount of funding delivered to each federal electoral district in British Columbia in (a) through (g)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1210—
Ms. Rachel Blaney:
    With regard to PacifiCan COVID-19 relief and recovery funding, broken down by federal electoral district in British Columbia and fiscal year since the agency’s inception: (a) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund, including the (i) name of the community, (ii) name of the project, (iii) total amount of funding received; (b) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Jobs and Growth Fund, including the (i) name of the business or the organization, (ii) total amount of funding received; (c) what are the details of all projected that received funding through the Tourism Relief Fund, including the (i) name of the business or the organization, (ii) total amount of funding received; (d) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative, including the (i) business or organization name, (ii) total amount of funding received; (e) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Regional Air Transportation Initiative, including the (i) name of the airport, the air carrier, the organization, the business, or the public institution, (ii) total amount of funding received; (f) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative, including the (i) name of the eligible festival or event, (ii) total amount of funding received; (g) what are the details of all projects that received funding through the Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund, including the (i) name of the fish and seafood processor, (ii) total amount of funding received; and (h) what is the total amount of funding delivered to each federal electoral district through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1211—
Mr. John Nater:
    With regard to the government's executive vehicle fleet and travel expenses incurred by chauffeurs or drivers of those vehicles for travel outside of the National Capital Region (NCR): what are the details of all trips where travel expenses were claimed, including the (i) name and title of the minister, deputy minister, or high-ranking government official driven on the trip, (ii) date of departure from the NCR, (iii) date of return to the NCR, (iv) destination, (v) total expenses claimed, (vi) breakdown of the expenses by type (air transportation, accommodation, meals, etc.), (vii) reason for the trip?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1213—
Mr. Mark Strahl:
    With regard to the Minister of Transport's trip to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in December 2022: (a) what were the total expenditures related to the trip, broken down by type of expense and who incurred the expense (minister, exempt staff, local embassy, etc.); (b) what was the minister's itinerary on each day of the trip, including who attended each item on the itinerary; and (c) what are the details, including the summary of terms, of any agreements which were signed during the trip?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1214—
Mr. Stephen Ellis:
    With regard to the government's financial dealing with Medicago: (a) how much funding has the government provided to Medicago since 2018, broken down by date of payment and program or procurement order under which Medicago received the funding; (b) of the money in (a), how much does the government project will be recovered; and (c) what action, if any, has the government taken with Medicago or its parent company, Mitsubishi Chemical Group, to recover the amounts in (a)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1215—
Mr. Andrew Scheer:
    With regard to government expenditures on appearance fees, speaking fees, hosting fees, or other similar type of fees, since January 1, 2019, broken down by department, agency, Crown corporation or other government entity: what are the details of all such expenditures, including, for each, the (i) date of the event, (ii) description of the role (keynote speaker, master of ceremony, etc.), (iii) name of the speaker, (iv) location of the event, (v) event description, (vi) size of the audience or the number of attendees, (vii) amount paid?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1217—
Ms. Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay:
    With regard to the Prime Minister's residence at Harrington Lake, including the surrounding property: (a) what are the total expenditures related to all renovations, upgrades, construction, or other projects at the residence or property since November 4, 2015; (b) what are the details of each project, including the (i) cost or estimated cost, (ii) start date, (iii) completion date or the expected completion date, (iv) project description; (c) what was the total annual budget to operate the residence and property since January 1, 2016, broken down by year; and (d) what is the breakdown of (c) by type of expense (utilities, landscaping, etc.)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1219—
Mr. Dean Allison:
    With regard to requests made by the government to social media companies to take down, edit, ban, or change in any other way social media content, posts, or accounts, since January 1, 2020, broken down by department, agency, or other government entity: what are the details of all such requests, including (i) who made the request, (ii) the date, (iii) the social media platform, (iv) the description of the original content, including the name or the handle associated with post, (v) the description of the change requested, (vi) whether the social media company abided by the government's request?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1220—
Mr. Frank Caputo:
    With regard to staffing at the RCMP's Operational Communications Centres (OCC): (a) what was the job vacancy rate (i) nationally, (ii) at each OCC, broken down by location, as of February 7, 2023; (b) how many calls from the public to the OCCs went unanswered or received a busy signal, broken down by month and location since January 1, 2022; and (c) how many hours was each OCC (i) understaffed, (ii) not staffed, broken down by month since January 1, 2022?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1222—
Mrs. Claude DeBellefeuille:
    With regard to both small and mid-sized projects components of the Enabling Accessibility Fund, since its creation: what projects have been funded, broken down by (i) province, (ii) applicant, (iii) amount awarded, (iv) year of the project completion?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1225—
Mr. Damien C. Kurek:
    With regard to furniture and office equipment delivered to the personal residences of ministers and ministerial exempt staff, including in the Office of the Prime Minister, since January 1, 2020: (a) what are the details of all such items delivered to the residences of ministers, including, for each, the (i) minister, (ii) amount paid or the financial value (iii) cost per unit, (iv) description of the items, including the brand and the quantity, (v) vendor, (vi) contract or file number; (b) what are the details of all such items delivered to the residences of ministerial exempt staff, including, for each, the (i) name of the minister the staff member worked for, (ii) amount paid or the financial value, (iii) cost per unit, (iv) description of the item, including the brand and the quantity, (v) vendor, (vi) contract or file number; and (c) are any of the items in (a) or (b) expected to be returned to a government location at any point in the future, and, if so, what are the details of any such plans?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1226—
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
    With regard to Medicago, Philip Morris International and the government's investments in Medicago: (a) what are the details of all memorandums, correspondence or briefing materials sent to or received by any minister, exempt staff, or government official in any department or agency in the Health portfolio or the Innovation, Science and Economic Development portfolio, since January 1, 2020, about Medicago or Philip Morris International, including, for each, the (i) type of document, (ii) date, (iii) sender, (iv) recipient, (v) title, (vi) subject matter, (vii) summary of contents, (viii) file number; (b) on what date was the government made aware that Philip Morris' minority ownership stake in Medicago's parent company would make its products ineligible to receive authorization from the World Health Organization; and (c) did the government do anything to hedge its investments following the realization in (b)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1227—
Mrs. Dominique Vien:
    With regard to the announcement by the government on August 1, 2019, that it would be providing $250 million in repairs and upgrades to Reserve armouries and training facilities across Canada: (a) how much of that money has been distributed to date, broken down by the location of each armoury or training facility that has received funding; and (b) at each location in (a), what specific projects or repairs are being done with the funding and what is the expected completion date of each project?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand at this time, please.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Criminal Code

Hon. Steven Guilbeault (for the Minister of Public Safety)  
     moved that Bill C-41, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Madam Speaker, it is truly an honour to begin debate today on Bill C-41. This legislation aims to address important aspects of the deepening crisis in Afghanistan and responds to Canadian humanitarian aid agencies and their pleas to be able to deliver relief to a country on the brink. This work stems from the cross-party collaborative efforts from the Special Committee on Afghanistan and the important recommendations put forward by members of that committee.
    I am proud to have been a member of this committee, but this work is also thanks to the non-governmental organizations and humanitarian aid agencies that advocated and testified at committee for a pathway forward to deliver aid to Afghanistan. The testimony we heard was haunting. The Afghan people have persisted through four decades of war, and since the forceful capture of the country by the Taliban, the world has witnessed the erosion of fundamental rights and the steady deterioration of social and economic systems. This has created the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.
    Drawing on testimony from the committee, I want to remind the House that Afghanistan was a country that was reliant on foreign aid before the takeover by the Taliban. The committee’s report states the following:
    The World Bank had assessed that Afghanistan’s economy was “shaped by fragility and aid dependence.” Grants were financing some 75% of total public expenditure and were responsible for around 45% of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product in 2020. With the abrupt return to power of the Taliban, Afghanistan—whose currency reserves held abroad were frozen—experienced a significant fiscal contraction at the same time as it essentially became cut-off from the international banking and payments systems. That occurred because the Taliban have long been subject to sanctions in relation to terrorism.
    The overall result for the country has been “near economic and institutional collapse, including an inability to provide most basic services and pay civil servant salaries.” The net effect for the Afghan people is that prices have increased, livelihoods have disappeared, and household resources have been exhausted...
    To encapsulate the enormity of this situation, John Aylieff, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at the WFP, said: “Today, millions of people in Afghanistan—young children, families and communities—stand at the precipice of inhumane hunger and destitution.” Of the 23 million people who required food assistance, nearly 9 million were “one step away from famine,” while some 1 million children were “at risk of perishing this year from acute malnutrition.”
    The population of Afghanistan is 40 million people, and 23 million people require food assistance.
    What I have described is but a small sample of the testimony we heard. It was clear that Canadian aid agencies were ready and willing to help, but they were unable to do so. According to Michael Messenger, CEO of World Vision Canada, that organization had “two containers full of packets of ready-to-use therapeutic food…to treat children facing the severest forms of malnutrition…[that] can literally bring children back from the brink of death by starvation.” The committee report goes on to say, “The organization could not ship them to Afghanistan, despite the pleas from their team on the ground. Each container can help more than 900 children.”
    I am proud of the report from the Special Committee on Afghanistan and am pleased this legislation is in line with recommendations 10 and 11, which called upon the government to ensure that registered Canadian organizations have the clarity and assurances needed to deliver humanitarian assistance to meet the basic needs of the people of Afghanistan without fear of prosecution for violating Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.
    Canada has a long and rich history of fighting for human rights and delivering life-saving assistance abroad. Over the last 20 years, many Afghans experienced improved access to health services and education and were able to participate in efforts to build their democracy. This occurred in no small part thanks to the efforts of Canadian organizations providing aid in support of a generation of leaders, many of whom were women, who were building a better country for all Afghans.

  (1540)  

    The purpose of this bill is to address the fact that Canada’s current legal framework has limited the ability of Canadian aid organizations to provide assistance to the people of Afghanistan due to potential Criminal Code liability. Although the Taliban has taken over as the de facto national authority of Afghanistan, it remains a listed terrorist group under Canada’s Criminal Code.
    The Taliban maintains close links with several terrorist groups, and the combination of a weak state and a collapsing economy gives terrorist groups a fertile ground within which to operate, but we must put in place needed reform to address the needs of the Afghan people and to facilitate the assistance they so desperately need. We will find a balanced course of action that will also seek to preserve the integrity of Canada’s counter-terrorism financing measures.
    The proposed bill maintains strong counter-terrorist financing measures while presenting an authorization regime to provide protection from criminal liability for the delivery of humanitarian aid and other activities by Canadian organizations. Terrorist financing remains a criminal offence. Authorizations would only shield applicants from criminal liability for providing an unavoidable benefit to a terrorist group associated with activities that serve a specified purpose, subject to strict terms and conditions. An authorization would not shield efforts to deliberately leverage the authorization to provide a benefit to a terrorist group beyond what is incidental and covered by the authorization terms and conditions. Such activities would remain criminal.
    We recognize that terrorism is a global threat that requires a concerted international response. Canada’s terrorist financing regime is contained in the Criminal Code and, because of this, aid agencies were restricted in delivering aid as it could be interpreted as providing indirect financial support to the Taliban, which is a criminal offence. This authorization tool would facilitate the delivery of certain activities, like humanitarian assistance, human rights programming and immigration services, in geographic areas controlled by terrorist groups. This means that Canadians holding an authorization and providing these services would no longer be at risk of committing a terrorist financing offence, and foreign citizens, like the people of Afghanistan, would be able to receive the assistance they need in their country or by resettling to Canada.
    I have already heard anecdotally that some aid organizations are ramping up their operations in anticipation of the passage of this legislation so they can scale up their work in supporting the people of Afghanistan.
     Further, the proposed authorization regime is not restricted to Afghanistan, in order to enable the Government of Canada to respond to similar situations elsewhere in the world, now and in the future.
     Under this regime, the Minister of Public Safety would consider applications that have been referred by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and/or the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who would first need to be satisfied that certain conditions were met. This includes, among other things, that the proposed activity aligns with a permitted purpose and responds to a real and important need.
    Once the application has been referred, the Minister of Public Safety would conduct a security review that must assess the impact of granting the authorization on terrorist financing. Factors to be considered include, among others, whether the applicants or those involved in activity implementation have links to terrorist groups or were investigated, charged or convicted of terrorism offences. Those assessments would be led by Public Safety and undertaken by the national security agencies, such as CSIS, the RCMP and CSE, where required.
    The issuance of an authorization would ultimately take into account an assessment of benefit, need and capability of the applicant against the assessment of risk of terrorist financing. Any eligible person or organization in Canada, or Canadian organization outside of Canada, could apply for an authorization. This could include Government of Canada officials, as well as persons associated with or acting on behalf of a registered or incorporated Canadian organization. The updated Criminal Code provisions would also set out permissible classes of activities that would achieve certain purposes.

  (1545)  

    In the current situation in Afghanistan, the delivery of aid and other forms of international assistance inevitably benefits the Taliban through taxation and other fees. This regime would allow Canadian organizations, including Government of Canada departments, to work within the defined scope of an authorization to achieve their goals without risk of running afoul of the law.
    Simply put, the changes contemplated in Bill C-41 would allow our aid agencies to go back to what they do best: saving lives.
    I know this is an issue that has touched the hearts of all who served on the Special Committee on Afghanistan. We were able to set aside partisan differences and work together to present our report. The bill responds to that report. I was heartened to see this place provide unanimous consent to a motion last week that will ensure that the bill is fast-tracked through the parliamentary process.
    I began my speech by outlining the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, but it is not only food insecurity that threatens the lives of millions of Afghans. Health care is in crisis. Women and girls are facing human rights violations that are unthinkable. Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of those living with a disability in the world, after decades of war and land mines. Families have sold their daughters just to survive.
    To be honest, the conditions in Afghanistan are beyond comprehension for all of us sitting here in Canada. Sadly, they are a reality for millions of Afghans living under the Taliban regime. Groups like Islamic Relief, World Vision, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Red Cross, CARE Canada and so many others are ready to provide aid to some of the world’s most vulnerable, but they need us to act.
    In 2019, The Asia Foundation released a model disability survey of Afghanistan, which found that nearly 80% of adults in Afghanistan have a disability. As a result, many of the households in Afghanistan have become women-led. With the current regime in place, women have been forced out of the economy and out of schools, leaving many households in abject poverty. Those living with disabilities also face heightened violence and insecurity within conflict. Because of this, so many who have a disability in Afghanistan face more difficulties attempting to flee conflict, resulting in a higher reliance on humanitarian aid.
    Bill C-41 would be able to reach this population, which has not had the same opportunity to seek refuge in other countries, and would allow for humanitarian aid to flow to Afghanistan to address the specific needs those with disabilities face.
    The human rights abuses against women and girls, and the Hazaras, are particularly egregious. Women and girls have been denied their most basic rights, including their right to education and employment, at every turn. Finding different means to control women, the Taliban has imposed strict dress codes, forcing them to wear a burka, a full body covering that obscures their face and body. Women’s freedom of movement has also been severely restricted, with women being allowed to leave their homes only in the company of a male relative. Of course, those who do not comply are met with harassment, abuse and state-sanctioned violence.
    The restrictions imposed on women’s education are devastating.
    In March 2018, on the floor of the Library of Parliament, in the old Centre Block, at the heart of our democracy, I, along with the Minister of Science, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, and the Prime Minister, met with the Afghan Dreamers. They were an all-women high school robotics team who, in partnership with FIRST Robotics Canada, had flown from Afghanistan to Canada to compete against high-school teams across the province. They brought their robot from Kabul to Canada.

  (1550)  

    It is hard to remember these young women and think about their lives today under the Taliban. They showed me what the future of Afghanistan was going to look like, and I remain in hope that this future comes to fruition. When I was speaking with these young women, they told me that when they left Canada to go back home they wanted to open a school dedicated to teaching other women and girls about science, technology, engineering and math. These young women were and continue to be Afghanistan's greatest resource.
    Since returning to power, the Taliban has targeted schools like the one envisioned by The Afghan Dreamers, often destroying school buildings and threatening those who teach and attend them. At times, women have been prohibited from attending schools and universities. Women who are pursuing higher education have been forced to abandon their studies. Women are being used as a tool to advance the Taliban's power in the region.
    Speaking at the UN Commission on the Status of Women on March 24, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan advocacy manager Sarah Keeler said:
     But while girls the world over are out of education, the situation for girls and women in Afghanistan is unparalleled in its intensity and impact. Under repressive Taliban rule, Afghanistan is now the only country on the planet with the terrible distinction of denying women and girls their right to learn as a policy. Indeed, the Taliban's restrictions amount to system-wide gender persecution, in education and elsewhere.
     For girls like Maryam, there are not just the barriers of poverty or lack of infrastructure, already overwhelming enough—there is also ideological malice that has intentionally robbed girls of their rights and hope for the future. “What crime have I committed?”, asks Maryam. She writes to us of feeling hopeless, suicidal and alone. All Afghan women and girls, but perhaps most of all the generation for whom two decades of democratic progress and investment in education provided the catalyst for real achievement and aspiration, are experiencing a profound mental health crisis.
    The Hazara minority is no different. Through witnesses who appeared before committee, we heard about the devastation and persecution faced by the Hazara community. Hazaras are a predominantly Shia Muslim ethnic group that has faced systemic discrimination from the Taliban. From being subjected to attacks to forced displacement and other human rights abuses, the Hazara minority remains a vulnerable group in Afghanistan that is in dire need of the support this bill would allow.
    Previously, Canada introduced special measures to support Afghans through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. We have welcomed over 29,000 Afghan refugees since August 2021. These special measures allow the expedited processing of applications from Afghan nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada. A dedicated channel was introduced for applications coming in from a number of measures Canada presented. The special immigration measures program aims to resettle 18,000 people. IRCC also introduced a temporary public policy that creates a pathway to permanent residence for extended family members of former Afghan interpreters who immigrated to Canada under the 2009 and 2012 public policies. More recently, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada introduced a temporary policy for extended family members of former language and cultural advisers. The work that our government has done has been important and life-changing.
    While thousands of Afghan nationals have been able to seek refuge in Canada, there are millions more who need our support, and this bill would allow exactly that. We as parliamentarians have an obligation to all Afghans to pass this legislation quickly and judiciously. Aid to Afghanistan remains absolutely vital. With this legislative change, Canada is responding to the growing crisis in Afghanistan. This would also help our government work with like-minded countries and international partners to advance our priorities. Canada has a hard-earned international reputation as both a fierce protector and a steadfast source of humanitarian assistance.

  (1555)  

    I want to give a special thanks to those who worked on this issue. It is rare in this place that we work together with civil society to make such monumental change, but with this legislation, we will truly save the lives of some of the most vulnerable in the world.
    Madam Speaker, I do not doubt the member's sincere personal feelings, but I have to say that the government has failed the people of Afghanistan for far too long.
    If we reflect on the timelines, the Taliban took Kabul in August 2021. The Afghanistan standing committee report that the member referred to came out in June 2022. It has been nine months since then, and now we are debating this legislation at the end of March 2023. The foreign affairs committee unanimously passed a motion I put forward in the fall of last year reiterating the call from the Afghanistan committee, and passed a similar motion this spring.
    This legislation, once passed, does not grant the exemptions yet. We will still have to wait for exemptions to be granted by the government through regulation. We have already been through two winters in Afghanistan under the Taliban, and the very dire situations the member spoke about have persisted throughout that time. However, the government has been very late in responding to unanimous calls, and certainly calls from the opposition, for action. Why has it taken the government so long?

  (1600)  

    Madam Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that Canada's terrorist financing regime is contained in the Criminal Code. Work needed to be done to ensure that we were amending the Criminal Code in a way that would give aid organizations the ability to deliver aid in Afghanistan. We also worked with those aid organizations. We took up the recommendations and testimony we heard at the special committee, because we wanted to ensure that we were getting right what we were doing.
    I can assure the hon. member that with the regime in place and the authorization regime, we will be looking at things in a very timely manner, because we know the impact that it will have on the ground in Afghanistan.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Oakville North—Burlington for her speech. I share her sadness for the women of Afghanistan.
    This situation has always had an emotional impact on me. During the crisis in the summer of 2021, I learned about a strong Afghan community settled in Granby. I had men coming to my office crying, worried about their wives and daughters. I discovered the solidarity and beauty of the Afghan people.
    Last fall, I had the opportunity to meet with male Afghan elected officials in Rwanda. Unfortunately, the lone female Afghan representative was unable to attend. She was barred from leaving the country.
    At the last IPU meeting I attended in Bahrain, I spoke about my concern for Afghan women, particularly those living in conflict zones, whose education has been disrupted.
    It is true that this bill is an important step forward. However, as we have seen in the last few days, international co-operation groups are concerned because, in order to increase their assistance for women internationally, they say that they need financial resources from the Canadian government.
    I would like to hear my colleague's comments on this.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I applaud the hon. member's advocacy and work on behalf of women and girls not just here in Canada but around the world. I know that groups like Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan are continuing to find ways to provide assistance to women and girls in Afghanistan, often doing it at great risk to their own lives.
    I worry that Canadians have forgotten about Afghanistan, but through advocacy like ours and the hon. member's, we continue to shine a light on the abhorrent conditions that women and girls are facing in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. I think we all need to continue to speak up loudly on behalf of the women and girls in Afghanistan.
    Madam Speaker, I share in the hon. member's horror and grief at what is happening in Afghanistan, with the discrimination and persecution that women in Afghanistan are facing right now. It is part of the reason my NDP colleagues and I have been so frustrated that it has taken 18 months to get here. We have needed this legislation. However, now that it is here, we are hearing concerns from humanitarian organizations that it may contravene international law and Canada's international obligations. In particular, Doctors Without Borders Canada has expressed these concerns.
    Why did the government not do a blanket exemption and carve-out, like many organizations have been requesting? There are no other countries doing the kind of bureaucratic process the government has chosen with a registry. I am curious if the member could explain how this does nor does not contravene our international obligations, and why the government did not listen to the organizations on the ground and do a blanket carve-out.
    Madam Speaker, I had not heard those concerns, so I thank the hon. member for bringing them forward.
    I will say that Canada was unique among other countries in the way that our terrorist financing regime was designed. It was included in the Criminal Code, so it made it more difficult to make exemptions compared to what other countries have done. I know other countries around the world have granted a blanket exemption, but their terrorist financing provisions were not included in a criminal code the way ours are.
    I look forward to the hon. member passing on the concerns that she has heard to me, and I look forward to working with her to ensure that we put forward something that is able to deliver aid to Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

  (1605)  

    Madam Speaker, I very much welcome this legislation coming forward, although I share some of the concerns of the hon. member for Victoria. Many of our allies and other donor countries did not have the problems we have had as a country with getting aid workers into Afghanistan without tripping up into the rules against terrorism. I welcome this legislation. We need to get it through quickly.
    I was totally moved by my colleague's speech and her emotion about this issue, but our colleagues in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. did not have the problems that were created for us by the very strict and overly narrow definitions of terrorism that tripped up our aid efforts. Does she have any thoughts on what we can learn from this experience going forward?
    Madam Speaker, I think there are lessons to be learned from how the original legislation was drafted. As the hon. member knows, the original legislation was drafted by a previous government. We have been trying to find a way to put in place something that respects what is in the Criminal Code but still allows agencies to deliver aid.
    I wish we could have done this many months ago. I was haunted by the testimony we heard at committee. I think of the young women who came to Canada whose lives have been so disrupted by what has happened in their country, a country that at one time not too long ago had so much hope. We were dealing with a system that was already in place, and I think there are always lessons to be learned as we move forward.
    Madam Speaker, it is heartbreaking to hear what is happening. I was recently at a Nowruz event with thousands of Afghan women, and the stories we heard about what is happening were beyond belief.
    One thing I wanted to ask about was the human rights programming aspect. The parliamentary secretary mentioned that in addition to humanitarian aid, we will now be able to help with human rights programming. Could you specifically address how we might be able to help young women and girls who are not able to get educated at this point through these programs?
    I am not able to answer that, but I will give it to the hon. member to answer. I would ask the hon. member to address all questions and comments through the Chair, not directly to the member.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, you are welcome to answer if you wish.
    As I mentioned previously, groups like Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, which have been doing such incredible work under a previous Taliban regime, are going to be able to do what they do best on the ground. There are other organizations. I singled them out specifically, but other organizations have teams on the ground in Afghanistan that stand ready to deliver education, aid and whatever is needed for the people of Afghanistan.
    Madam Speaker, on September 11, 2001, a terrorist organization that was using Afghanistan as its base of operations attacked New York and Washington. In response to this attack, Canada joined an American-like coalition that worked to overthrow Afghanistan's Taliban government and supported the transformation of Afghanistan into a free democracy. Canada also joined other countries in establishing tough new domestic anti-terrorism legislation that aided in preventing any kind of presence of or interaction with designated terrorist organizations.
    The decision to overthrow Afghanistan's Taliban government was seen as just and a form of retaliation for the lives lost on September 11, but it was also framed as a war for the liberation of the Afghan people. It was widely explained not as a war against Afghanistan but as a war for Afghanistan, in particular for the freedom of the Afghan people.
    The spirit of that period was one of profound optimism about the universality of the human aspiration for freedom and democracy and about the possibility of external intervention quickly bringing about that democracy. This optimism was best expressed by then British prime minister Tony Blair, who said:
...ours are not Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit. And anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
    The implication in the minds of many seemed to be that we could use superior firepower to chase out the bad guys, introduce democracy and then quickly move on with our lives.
    As Canada joined military efforts to support the transformation of Afghanistan into a free democracy, Afghanistan also became a major focus of Canadian development systems. In this whole enterprise we were motivated by the highest aspirations: to sacrifice blood and treasure to allow women and men on the other side of the world to seize their birthright of freedom. However, on August 15, 2021, almost exactly 20 years after the 9/11 attacks, as the last allied soldiers were pulling out of Afghanistan, it was again overrun by Taliban forces. As of this moment in time at least, our great optimistic efforts to transform Afghanistan ended in failure.
    On the same day that Kabul fell, rather than being at his desk working on the desperately needed response to these unfolding events, our Prime Minister was visiting the Governor General to call a domestic election, an election that we did not need, that featured more polarization and demonization of Canadians than any in recent memory and that returned a virtually unchanged Parliament. We would have been so much better off if the Prime Minister had been putting his responsibilities ahead of his perceived political interests.
    Leading up to the fall of Afghanistan, the Conservatives had been calling on the government to use special immigration measures to assist the most vulnerable Afghans, those who assisted Canada during the previous 20 years, as well as ethnic and religious minorities, such as Hazaras, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians. In fact, the very first statement I ever made in this House back in 2015 was to call for special immigration measures for Afghan minorities. The government's response to these calls has ranged from slow to non-existent, and lives have been lost as a result.
    Outside of the failures of our government, it is worth taking stock of what happened in general between September 11, 2001, and August 15, 2021. What caused the optimism for the expansion of freedom and democracy that drove nation building in Afghanistan post-9/11 to fade into the fatalistic acceptance of the apparent global democratic decline that led the United States and other countries to leave Afghanistan and effectively hand it back to the Taliban?

  (1610)  

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Repentigny on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, the interpreter is saying that the member is speaking so fast that she is having difficulty interpreting. She is doing her best. Could we ask the member to slow down a bit, please?
    Of course we need the interpretation to work so that everyone can understand what is being said. The interpreter should have the member's notes. If not, we will be sure to provide them to her.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan can continue his speech.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will. It is my right to speak in the House. I appreciate that.
    Transforming Afghanistan was a great and noble goal, but doing worthwhile things is never easy. Supporting the democratic development of Afghanistan was always going to be a long process, and if it was going to work, then it would require a long-term commitment.
    Tony Blair is right, in an ultimate sense. The people always ultimately choose freedom over tyranny, but the short-term optimism of the post-9/11 era did not pay enough attention to the need to gradually and painstakingly develop the institutions and political culture of a free pluralistic society over time. We were too quick to want to declare mission accomplished. We cannot expect to simply chase out the bad guys and then roll out the template of free democratic institutions because there is no single template for such institutions.
    The core problem was that so-called neo-conservatism was not, in practice, sufficiently conservative. Conservatism, in its essential form, emphasizes the importance of local culture, tradition and familial attachments. To succeed, the institutions and culture of free democracy must be built on that pre-existing local foundation.
    There is no single template for democracy because democracy succeeds when it builds on pre-existing cultural structures that have existing legitimacy, which then confer that legitimacy on the emergent democratic structures. This is how democracy was successfully built in the west, especially in the Anglo-American tradition over a long period. If those advancing democracy elsewhere do not build on the existing cultural foundation, then there will inevitably be rival centres of power that compete for legitimacy with the new democrat institutions.
    In practice, neo-conservatism was not sufficiently conservative because it did not sufficiently take stock of how deeply embedded traditions and authority structures need to be collaborated with and harnessed in order to build free institutions that are authentic to the local setting over time. Any work of external nation building requires both great patience and even greater humility.
    Free societies are not built like buildings. Rather, they grow like trees. Our own long history of halting democratic development in the west building on pre-democratic foundations should have made it clear to us that democratic development was always going to be a long-term project if it was going to be completed.
    In one sense, the work of securing democracy is never complete. As the saying goes, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Save for the possibilities of divine intervention or nuclear annihilation, there is no such thing as the end of history. That is as true in Afghanistan as it is anywhere else. The work of building Canadian democracy is not complete, so why should we have expected it to ever be complete in Afghanistan? Of course, the hope of many, and rightly so, was that at some point along the way, external troops would be able to fully withdraw and Afghans themselves would be the ones vigilantly guarding and defending their own freedom, no longer needing outside help.
    The critics of continuing western involvements in Afghanistan believed we needed to end so-called forever wars at a certain point and to leave the country to its own work in this regard. This framing of forever wars was highly misleading.
    American troops have been stationed in Korea for much, much longer than they have been in Afghanistan. Nobody considers that American presence in Korea a forever war. America's presence in Korea is rather a matter of a contingent of troops helping to guarantee the peace. The withdrawal of Americans from South Korea would create a significant heightened risk of catastrophic conflict, so it is good for America to keep a contingent of troops there as long as is necessary.
    The nature of America's presence in Afghanistan was different of course than the nature of its presence in Korea, but the western presence in Afghanistan was still consistent with the gradual drawing down of engagement, more limited air support backing the Afghan army, extremely low casualty figures in the later years compared to the height of the conflict and a trajectory whereby a smaller and less costly presence could, over time, still help sustain local democracy and security.
    The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban was not the inevitable result of facts on the ground. It was the result of a political choice that reflected a change in the western mood, the shift from too optimistic, impatient interventionism without sufficient cultural understand to too pessimistic isolationist abandonment.
    As we have seen, the politics of isolationism and withdrawal, of putting domestic issues over external security imperatives, has led to global democratic decline, greater insecurity and ultimately a higher risk of costly war. This is why, in an age of further threats to free democracies, we must be vigilant and active, embracing realistic optimism and strategic patience and making the investments and the sacrifices that are required to keep the world a safe place for freedom and democracy.
    The quote I read earlier continues with the poignant line, “The spread of freedom is the best security for the free.”
    I hear from time to time from constituents who want us to ignore events far away and instead to simply focus on challenges at home, but history teaches us that impulse to retrench from the world always leads to the decline of democracy and liberty and to threats from abroad washing up on our own shores. When this spirit prevails, the long-term costs to our own well-being and happiness are inevitably much higher than if we had been engaged with international events from the beginning. I hope we learn the lessons of that history and we apply it.

  (1615)  

    As it relates to Afghanistan, we must now turn our attention to that other legacy of 9/11, which is the impact of anti-terrorism legislation. Anti-terrorism legislation was designed to confront the threat posed by violent non-state actors. Certain states do engage in acts that would fit any coherent legal definition of terrorism, but we have generally found it useful to maintain the possibility of some intercourse with hostile or rights-abusing governments, even those that use terrorism. The extreme isolation associated with a terrorist listing was therefore designed for violent non-state actors as opposed to violent state actors. This design, though, has been stretched and complicated in certain respects in recent years.
    First, certain organizations, such as the IRGC or the Wagner Group, may simultaneously function as an international terrorist organization and as part of, or a close affiliate of, a state. In our view, these organizations should still be listed as terrorist entities, but we should acknowledge that such designations move us closer in the direction of capturing state-affiliated entities, instead of just non-state actors, with anti-terrorism legislation. Designating the particular organs of terrorism, rather than the state itself, still provides space for some interaction with other state organs, and is therefore, in my view, quite doable, even without amending the Criminal Code as it exists.
    More complicated is the case in which a terrorist organization comes to occupy and function as the de facto authority in the state, and this is now the case in Afghanistan. Removing such an organization from the terrorist list would clearly send the wrong message and weaken legitimate and important sanctions against that group. Withdrawing the designation from a terrorist group once it takes over government would appear to suggest that one way for a terrorist group to get off the terrorist list is to simply take over territory. Again, that would clearly send the wrong message.
    However, the Criminal Code, as it currently exists, was not designed for the situation in which a terrorist group also functions as the de facto authority in a state, so it is reasonable to look for ways to make these provisions nimbler, if that nimbleness allows us to preserve the listing of terrorist groups as terrorist groups. Rather than removing the terrorist designation from a terrorist organization that is still a terrorist organization, we should be prepared to thoughtfully amend the Criminal Code to still allow some presence in, and engagement with the people of, a country when that country has been overrun by a terrorist organization without in any way legitimizing that organization.
    This brings us to the particular provisions of Bill C-41. Bill C-41 would allow the Government of Canada to grant very limited exemptions to the Anti-Terrorism Act to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance in areas controlled by terrorist organizations. The legislation does not name Afghanistan or the Taliban directly, but it is clearly designed to allow the government to grant narrow exemptions that would allow the delivery of emergency humanitarian relief into Afghanistan.
    Afghanistan faces an ongoing humanitarian crisis, in large part as a result of Taliban misrule. Terrorists are generally not very good at running an economy, yet Canadian charities have not been able to deliver essential humanitarian aid because in the process of delivering that aid to the Afghan people, they may run afoul of the Anti-Terrorism Act and thus risk criminal prosecution.
    In this particular case, we are not talking about the expenditure of public funds. We are talking simply about increasing the precision of Criminal Code provisions to give private Canadian charities the freedom to deliver private funds to the suffering people of Afghanistan. Bill C-41 does not prescribe the precise form of the exemptions the government will grant. It would simply give the government the power to grant these exemptions. It is reasonable for a government to have this power to deal with contingency situations, although the government will necessarily be held accountable for its judicious and effective use of this power.
    On the basic objective of Bill C-41, the biggest problem I have is that it comes too late, not too late to be useful, but too late for many who have already been suffering under Taliban misrule for over a year and a half. Peer countries have been way ahead of us in addressing this problem, and Parliament has been pushing the government to address this issue for almost all of that time. In fact, immediately after the 2021 election, Conservatives proposed a motion to create a special committee on Afghanistan. When it reported to the House last spring, that committee recommended that changes be made to allow humanitarian assistance to get into Afghanistan. Following that, this past fall, the foreign affairs committee unanimously agreed to my motion calling for changes that would allow humanitarian assistance to get into Afghanistan, reiterating what was in the Afghan committee's report, and the committee adopted a second motion on the matter, proposed by the NDP earlier in the winter session, yet it has still taken until the end of March to actually begin debate on this bill.
    When I met with international development stakeholders on the bill, they emphasized a significant concern about timelines, and in a few different senses. They highlighted the issue of timelines for the passage of the legislation in the hope the government will choose to prioritize it within its legislative agenda so the legislation can, indeed, move forward. The bill does need to be studied and debated thoroughly, but we are prepared to move it forward as quickly as possible, provided that sufficient time is set aside for study and debate.
    While the principles are important, the bill is technically and legally complicated and does require meaningful examination, but stakeholders are not only concerned about the timeline for the passage of this bill. They are concerned about the timelines the bill would create for them in being able to get to work on the ground. Until this legislation passes, international organizations are potentially prohibited criminally from running humanitarian or development programs in Afghanistan if there is some risk of any portion of those resources eventually ending up in the hands of the Taliban.

  (1620)  

    This legislation would allow the Minister of Public Safety to grant certain narrow exemptions. From the perspective of these organizations, the legislation marks an improvement. However, the process associated with accessing these exemptions would be time-intensive and potentially highly bureaucratic, with no timeline set out. Again, it is not only about how long it takes to pass the bill, but also how long it would take organizations to be authorized to get to work.
    The proposed process is that an exemption would be granted after a thorough review by the public safety minister, but only after the issue has been referred to that minister by another minister, either the immigration or foreign affairs minister, who would presumably have to conduct their own analysis. Exemptions would also have to be granted for each individual organization. If one development organization applies for and receives an exemption to operate a particular program, then another organization, running essentially an equivalent program in the same or different geographic area, would also have to apply for their own separate exemption.
    There is also a great deal of uncertainty about how widely an exemption would apply. Would an organization that got an exemption to run a program in one province in one year have to apply for another exemption to extend the program, run the same program in a different province or run the program in another year? From my reading, there is a certain lack of clarity around the breadth of the exemptions that would be introduced.
    Multiple organizations doing essentially the same work would each have to apply separately instead of simply being able to proceed with their work based on an exemption granted to someone else. This process seems more bureaucratic and costly than it needs to be, and it raises questions about whether the actual exemptions would be in place in a reasonable amount of time.
    It also raises concerns about equity. Would the government subject certain organizations to more scrutiny than others, and would small and diaspora-led organizations be able to access these exemptions alongside larger organizations that have a longer history of working directly with the federal government?
    Conservatives have repeatedly highlighted the need to ensure the inclusion of small and diaspora-led organizations in our thinking about international development. It is perhaps natural and inevitable that certain trusted partners are more likely to receive direct government funding, but it would be a grave problem if small and less-known organizations continued to face criminal prohibitions on delivering aid while larger, better-known players were given exemptions in identical situations.
    It would seem reasonable for the government to establish certain general categories or situations of exemption, which would apply to all organizations, rather than only grant exemptions on an individual case-by-case basis. We will be digging more into this specific part of the issue at committee. Although we feel there is an urgency around the timeline of passing this legislation, there is also an urgency to ensure that processes are streamlined so that we can get assistance to the people who need it as soon as possible.
    When I have been consulting with Canadians about this legislation, some have asked if aid should be flowing into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan at all. We know that the real cause of the suffering of the Afghan people is their Taliban oppressors. Poverty is, in this and so many other cases, the result of unjust and broken political institutions preventing people from moving forward in freedom and security. Why treat the symptom when the cause of the problem remains in place?
    To that, I would say that what is true in Afghanistan is true in many places, to a lesser extent, and that is that poverty often has its roots in injustice. When people cannot borrow against their assets because they lack clear title, when a primary breadwinner faces arbitrary arrests and does not have secure access to an objective justice system, when transportation routes of goods are not secure, when corruption limits opportunities, when teenagers cannot go to school for fear of violence there or on the way, these are all too common instances in many parts of the developing world where violence causes or perpetuates poverty.
    People everywhere have the ingenuity and the potential to lift themselves out of poverty if they are not held back by unjust systems that deprive them of the security, title and credit that they need to get ahead. The fight for justice and for the recognition of universal human dignity is central to development and poverty alleviation. We need to recognize this reality, but we also still need to attack poverty directly, especially in emergency situations like this.
    It is not always possible to go directly to the roots of a problem. In the case of Afghanistan, by choosing to abandon Afghanistan's security and the building of just institutions, we have cut ourselves off from the ability to get at the roots of the problem, but with those bad decisions already baked in, we should still do all that we can to save lives and elevate the conditions of the Afghan people.
    We should support such measures, even while recognizing that the Taliban cannot be permitted to continue to inflict its reign of terror on the Afghan people. The political problem will require an eventual solution. Delivering humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan is a necessary form of harm reduction, but we should not lose sight of the underlying injustices, political problems and of the need to look for solutions to them.
    Based on this, what can we say about the future of Afghanistan? Nobody can say what surprises will rest around the corner, but the Afghan people deserve our continuing support and goodwill. Continuing contacts between Canadian organizations and Afghans in Afghanistan help all concerned to be informed and create opportunities to respond to emerging issues and dynamics.

  (1625)  

    We need to start by removing legal barriers that prevent humanitarian aid from getting in. Continuing access to food, education and other essentials will provide Afghans some space to move forward. The involvement of Canadian organizations in this effort will mean contact and two-way awareness that could turn into something else down the road.
     We should retain some of the old optimism, because the intervening decades between 2001 and 2021 were not all for nothing. A new generation of Afghans has seen a different set of possibilities, and we will work together to ensure the re-emergence of those possibilities. We must still look for a way to be there for them.
    At the end of the day, we know the choice that Afghans will make when they are able, because even if not with the right timelines and the right tactics, the main point was correct: “Ours are not Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit. And anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is [always] the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police. The spread of freedom is the best security for the free.”
    Madam Speaker, we are seeing women's rights around the world under threat. I highlighted in my own speech the threat to women and girls, their rights in Afghanistan and how egregious they are. However, I find it a bit rich when the hon. member stands up on providing aid to countries that are in such dire need when he has been such a vocal opponent of women's reproductive rights, in particular filibustering a study at the foreign affairs committee on providing resources for organizations that provide sexual and reproductive health in countries around the world.
    I do not really have a question. I just wanted to make a comment on the need to support women and girls in Canada and around the world.

  (1630)  

    Madam Speaker, we are less than an hour into debate on this important government bill on Afghanistan, debate that is, in my view, a year and a half too late. It shows the partisan political approach of the Liberals to immediately try to throw this important debate about Afghanistan over the side and shift to something else.
     Beyond that, I would challenge the member to actually be aware of what is happening in the foreign affairs committee. The study that allegedly I have been filibustering has actually finished now. We have been through four hearings at the foreign affairs committee on that study, and I would invite the member to listen to some of the very thoughtful and insightful witnesses. We heard some witnesses from western NGOs. We also heard witnesses from throughout the developing world who shared their particular perspective on these issues.
     I would welcome the member to actually come to the committee, as I have never seen her there before, to review the blues, listen to the witnesses and maybe be aware of what is actually happening at committee before she tries to divert an important debate on Afghanistan with something else.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. If the government was as quick to introduce this bill as my colleague was in reading his speech, Bill C‑41 would have been passed a long time ago. I want to congratulate him because I have never heard someone say so many words so quickly.
    There are a lot of things in this bill. Members know that I care a lot about this bill. With the support of my colleagues, I was one of the first to ask questions about this. We have been waiting over a year for this bill, and it is here.
    We have a lot of questions about Bill C‑41. One quickly comes to mind. Authorization must be sought from a number of departments and agencies. That is not clear. What Bill C‑41 is saying is that the Government of Canada must give answers to these requests in a timely manner.
    Does my colleague believe that this will be done in a timely manner—
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, on much simpler matters such as passports and immigration applications, the government has massively expanded the delays we are seeing. When we already have families who are being privately sponsored for refugee status having to wait for three years and we hear the government saying it is going to approve exemptions in a reasonable amount of time, we do not have three years to wait, clearly, to get these exemptions moving forward.
    By the sound of the question, my colleague from the Bloc has exactly the same concerns that I have, which are around timelines: how long it has taken us to get this far and how much longer it will take to not only pass the legislation, which is part of the process, but also get to a point where organizations are able to implement programs.
    Madam Speaker, I want to comment on how disheartening it is to hear members of the Conservative Party not acknowledging the importance of women's reproductive rights when we are talking about humanitarian aid. It is very disheartening.
    However, I will move on. Clearly, the reproductive rights of men are not at stake here, so I guess it is not important. I apologize, it is an important issue.
     Today we are talking about how we need to ensure that the people of Afghanistan are receiving life-saving humanitarian aid. I want to hear from the member whether he feels that, in the current bill we are discussing, the processes would create challenges for smaller aid agencies that do not have the same level of resources as larger ones.
    Madam Speaker, again, we see the eagerness of Liberal and NDP politicians to shift the conversation to abortion.
    I would just assure them again that there is a study happening at the foreign affairs committee. Four meetings have taken place. Neither of the members who have tried to divert this conversation from aid into Afghanistan to that issue have been at the foreign affairs committee. I participated actively in that study. My comments are on the record.
    I would rather focus our discussion today on Bill C-41, which is the bill that is before the House. On this point, I agree with the member. This raises some questions about small organizations and whether small or medium-sized diaspora-led organizations would have an easy time accessing these exemptions. That is why I have raised this idea. What if we say that if one organization receives an exemption to operate under particular conditions in a particular place, then another organization that is doing more or less the same thing would be able to benefit from the same exemption?

  (1635)  

    Madam Speaker, as my hon. colleague knows, I have been a bit torn on this bill due to my own past history and involvement in Afghanistan and due to my hatred of the Taliban.
    I care deeply about the Afghan women and girls and Afghans in general. I do believe we need to support this bill, but we do need to get it right.
    Tied to this, though, in the Special Committee on Afghanistan, recommendation 2 talked about the importance of interdepartmental coordination. This is a good example of a bill that is coming from public safety to change the Criminal Code, but it would tie in to foreign aid, international aid and policies within foreign policy.
    I would like the member to comment on the complexities of this. It would be nice to know how the government is actually going to lead this effort to make sure that, however it gets put through, it is done right.
    Madam Speaker, that is a great point from my colleague. I want to recognize him and thank him for his service.
    It has been inspiring for me to see how veterans developed close connections with the Afghan people and have been so instrumental in trying to support the Afghan people through immigration measures as well as wanting to be part of the humanitarian response to the challenges they are facing.
    The member is right that government can be so difficult to navigate and so complicated. That applies to individuals, to organizations and especially to smaller organizations that are trying to engage in these processes.
    I would call on the government to do everything it can to minimize red tape, especially the red tape that organizations that are trying to engage the government have to experience. We want people to be able to get these exemptions done so that they can get programming out to those who need it.
    It is not going to be good enough to pass this legislation and then have a parade. We need to actually get all the way through the process so that aid could be delivered to people on the ground by as many organizations as possible.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I was at the meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development where we debated women's sexual and reproductive health and where we heard from women. NGOs came to ask for more help for Afghan women who have been raped. These are terrible situations. Representatives from the Afghan community came to my constituency office in Granby to complain about how slow the government was moving.
    Beyond that, this is an unfortunate example of what happens when we allow religious values to come before science and dominate a government. This is an example of the rise of fundamentalism, which is why women's rights are being set back and violated. Women need this bill now. The Bloc Québécois will collaborate to speed up the process. As far as foreign aid is concerned, we heard from NGOs that were worried about funding. The federal government claims to have a feminist foreign policy. It should provide the funding to back up that claim.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, there were a lot of different things in there.
    The member sort of had an implied criticism that there is something going on about religious values in general. I want to identify the fact that many of the leading development organizations in Canada that are working hard to get assistance to the most vulnerable people around the world are coming from some kind of a faith-informed humanitarian motivation. These are Christian organizations like World Vision or Foodgrains Bank and Muslim organizations like Islamic Relief. For many people, though certainly not for all, a commitment to a sense of the image of God being in all of us is what leads to a passion for development assistance.
    I want to recognize the role of people who come from a broad range of philosophical backgrounds who are involved in international development and the important work they are doing.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have been waiting for this day for more than a year. We are finally debating a bill that should have been introduced a long time ago. Last year, I had the honour of sitting on the Special Committee on Afghanistan with my colleagues from different parties, some of whom are with me today. I was one of the vice-chairs.
    It was at the meeting on February 7, 2022, already more than a year ago, that I had the honour of asking the witnesses one of my first questions. This is the first time I have done this, but I am going to quote myself, because I think it is important. This is what I said: “They said that the Criminal Code might need to be amended so that NGOs on the ground could operate in Afghanistan without fear of being accused of funding terrorism. In my opinion, this is a very important subject that we need to address. What are your thoughts on this...?”
    I said that on February 7, 2022. Since then, I have asked that question every chance I get. I even introduced a unanimous consent motion in the House on February 22, 2022, to allow non-governmental organizations to do their work on the ground. That was over a year ago. The motion was defeated by the Liberals, and now we find ourselves debating this bill in March.
    I put that question to the organizations themselves and to the various ministers who appeared before the committee. Surprisingly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship all replied that they agreed with me. That was in meetings of the Special Committee on Afghanistan.
    One year later, we can finally debate a topic that everyone agreed on over a year ago. Democracy is great, but sometimes it takes a while.
    It will come as no surprise, then, that I was quite happy to hear that such a bill was finally being introduced and to hear the government announce that it was going to amend Canada's Criminal Code to allow humanitarian aid to flow again and to allow NGOs to do their work without fear of prosecution. I hope that is what happens.
    This bill is further proof that the opposition can spur action in Quebec, Canada and around the world. After applying pressure to the government together with my friends from the Conservative Party and the NDP, I am delighted with this huge victory. The Bloc Québécois is always pleased to help. I believe that all my colleagues from the other parties are also pleased to help. That is the reason we ran for office in the first place.
    Now, we must expedite the process because it has already taken too long. The Bloc Québécois can be counted on to fast-track this bill because the people of Afghanistan need help now. I say “now”, but they have needed our help since last winter when we were debating this issue. This is a useful bill that will help us make progress in the area of humanitarian aid.
    The caveat is that we need to work quickly, but not too quickly. We have three hours to debate this bill, which will then be sent to committee. There are things we can discuss and on which we can agree in order to improve the bill. I will first touch on the more technical aspects. The government tabled Bill C‑41, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts, on March 9, 2023.
     Currently the bill is at second reading. As it is currently written, the Criminal Code does not include any exemptions to facilitate the delivery of these essential activities in regions dealing with terrorist groups. As I mentioned earlier, this bill amends one of the Criminal Code's anti-terrorist financing offences to facilitate the delivery of much-needed international assistance, immigration activities, and other assistance in geographic areas controlled by terrorist groups. In other words, these amendments would create a new authorization scheme that would allow those that provide humanitarian or other critical assistance, to apply for an authorization that would shield them from the risk of criminal liability if the terms and conditions of the authorization are respected.

  (1640)  

     We have to understand that the Taliban, as the current de facto authority in Afghanistan, is likely to receive revenue from any payments needed to support humanitarian aid.
     Under the Criminal Code, any Canadian or person in Canada making or authorizing such payments would risk contravening the Criminal Code's counter-terrorist financing provision. That is what we have now.
    Despite the uncertainty, most organizations have continued to respond to crises around the world, but problems have grown exponentially since the Taliban, a listed terrorist entity, took control of Afghanistan in August 2021. In that regard, the scale of the humanitarian and economic crisis that the Afghan people are now facing cannot be overstated.
    On paper, Bill C-41 rectifies this inability to make exceptions for organizations that are trying to deliver humanitarian aid on the ground. The bill is the proposed solution, and some aid groups support it.
    However, what is wrong with this approach is that there are already many legal provisions that the government could strengthen rather than imposing a whole new set of legal hoops for humanitarian organizations to jump through. There is also the fact that humanitarian aid workers have said that the current amendments create more red tape for them, as my colleague said earlier.
    For the sake of clarity, here is what is in this bill. Under this regime, the following people would have the power to grant an authorization to NGOs: the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Minister of Public Safety, and delegates with the power to grant authorizations. That is a lot of people.
    These authorizations will shield applicants from criminal liability in the course of certain activities, including the delivery of humanitarian aid, when they would otherwise be at risk of violating the Criminal Code. It is really about time.
    When deciding whether or not to grant an authorization, the Minister of Public Safety will examine applications referred by the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and will take into account their assessment of the application.
    In other words, the goal is to determine whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in terms of the risk of financing terrorism. This is done through a system of information sharing between departments to conduct the security review that must be done prior to granting authorization. However, all this remains to be seen, because it does not mean that the authorization will be granted.
    What happens if the authorization is not granted? Let us look at that together. Under this authorization regime, in the event of a negative response from the Government of Canada, the bill provides for the possibility of judicial review if authorization is not granted.
    There is legal precedent in Canada that supports the assertion that because of the life-saving purpose of humanitarian aid, it cannot be considered criminal to provide such aid, even if a terrorist group may in some way benefit from it.
     This does not mean that humanitarian organizations are shielded from anti-terrorism legislation. It means that they should not be presumed to be violating the Criminal Code simply because they operate in places like Afghanistan.
    The problem is that Bill C-41 turns that presumption on its head. It uses an approach based on mistrust, one that requires humanitarian organizations to prove their abilities before they are allowed to respond to emergencies, and no one knows how long that process will take. One thing we do know, however, is that approval would involve at least two departments and up to nine security or regulatory agencies.
    I cannot speak for my colleagues, but I myself have had numerous opportunities during my time in the House to see how slowly the Canadian government bureaucracy moves. Bill C‑41 provides for applications for authorization to be processed by the Government of Canada within a reasonable time. That does not necessarily instill much confidence.
    Despite the positive advances in this bill, what worries me is the number of interventions required between departments and the impact that such a bill could have on humanitarian organizations. It is no secret that, when it comes to processing times, I get the impression that the federal government does not spend much time checking the clock.

  (1645)  

    The situation for the NGOs and above all the Afghan people, the men, women and children who are suffering, is deteriorating before our eyes. Time is running out.
    When the time came to create this committee, a Conservative motion proposed that the Special Committee on Afghanistan be created. It was not going to be adopted because there was no consensus in the House. If the Conservative motion had been presented as worded, it would have been defeated.
    The Bloc Québécois came up with a possible amendment to the proposal to create the Special Committee on Afghanistan, adding a requirement that the committee focus not only on the fall of Kabul, the federal government's failure to support the Afghan people and what happened before the Taliban took power, but also on what we could do now and in the near future.
    We entered into a dialogue with our Conservative friends about this amendment and we managed to get everyone in the House to support it. Then the opposition parties voted for the motion to create the Special Committee on Afghanistan. It is important to highlight this, because the committee's mission is to find out what is being done now and how we are helping people who are experiencing suffering that we in the House will never experience. Things are horrible there. Women and parents are being forced to sell one of their daughters in order to feed their other children. These are the kinds of horrors we heard about in meetings of the Special Committee on Afghanistan. That is why we wanted to create it, to come up with recommendations and to help the Afghan people as quickly as possible.
    We have known about this problem for over a year, but today the government comes along and tells me that it was complicated to draft. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Immigration, everyone in the Liberal Party agreed that there is a problem and that we need to do something about it, but they said it takes time. The Minister of International Development also got involved, saying that we need to do it, but that it will take time, so we need to give them time. We are being told it is normal for this to take so much time.
    There is a question I ask myself when I get up in the morning. As I often mention, I have a Post-it note on my bedside table that says, “Who do you work for?” When I open my eyes, that is the first thing I see. I work for Quebeckers and the people of Lac-Saint-Jean, but I also work for everyone who needs help around the world. It is part of my files, but I am also fundamentally human and I am a representative of the people. We have a duty and a responsibility toward people who are suffering.
    Now the government is telling me that it was too complicated and that it is understandable that it took so much time. I will give an example. When the pandemic hit the entire country, I think the government acted fairly quickly to implement special aid programs. It only took the government two weeks to create the Canada emergency response benefit and subsidies for businesses when people were losing their jobs. Now, however, the government says it is understandable for this to take a year and a half, even though children are dying in Afghanistan, women are selling their children and Canada is unable to deliver humanitarian aid because of the Criminal Code. Come on.
    I am rather appalled by that. I understand that I have plenty of Liberal colleagues who are acting in good faith, who want to help and who agree with us on this subject, but I think there is a problem somewhere in the machine. It is not right for the government to be able to create aid programs really quickly when people are losing their jobs in Canada but not when children are dying in Afghanistan. I think that is unfathomable and disgraceful.
    I am going to end with that because I do not want to get too wound up, and this is still good news, after all. However, now that we have wasted so much time, we need to get Bill C‑41 in place. How likely is that that the bill is well written and we can all agree on the amendments coming from the humanitarian NGO community, all together and not in committee?
    What I am asking is that the parties come to agreement through informal conversations before sitting in committee and that everyone agrees quickly. I am hoping that there will be no debate in committee and that the amendments that are agreed upon are voted on quickly. Let us not waste any more time; we have wasted far too much over the last year.

  (1650)  

    I will say it again. The first question I asked with respect to this issue was on February 7, 2022, in the Special Committee on Afghanistan. The motion received unanimous consent, so I tabled it on February 22, 2022. What day is it now? It is March and April is coming. There was snow in the Parc des Laurentides, but it is sunny here. It is spring. It should not have taken this long.
    Let us make sure that from now on it moves as quickly as it can and that this bill is as well crafted as possible to allow our NGOs to do the work on the ground, to help women, men, children and the Afghan people through one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet.

  (1655)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to recognize Farzana Elham Kochai, who was a member of Parliament in Afghanistan. I believe I pronounced it relatively right. She is a young woman with a very powerful voice who is now in Winnipeg. I had the opportunity to meet her at the local McDonald's restaurant on one of my Saturday visits.
    When I look at the legislation we are debating today, I think we all have a responsibility to find ways to ensure that it reflects the interests of the people who are out there. I know I, for one, will be sharing my thoughts with Farzana and getting some direct feedback.
    We can talk about why it took as long as it did, and so forth, another day, but we need to recognize that it is important legislation to pass for the people of Afghanistan. Could my colleague provide his comments on why it is important that we get that support?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, it is precisely because we are in contact with people who have been on the ground there for many years that we need to pass such legislation. Every day and every week, we meet people who tell us what they need, and we speak on their behalf. That is more or less what my colleague wanted to say as well. We need to go and get the information from those who are really experiencing the situation in order to use our parliamentary power to make legislative changes.
    It is not such a bad idea to talk about why this took such a long time. Since the bill has not yet been passed, let us move it through the process as quickly as possible as of now. Humanitarian organizations and the people of Afghanistan are the ones asking us to do this quickly.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Lac‑Saint‑Jean for all that he does to help the people of Afghanistan. He spoke a lot about how long it took the Liberal government to introduce this bill.
    I would like to give him more time to share his feelings and frustrations and I would like for him to talk about the consequences that he, other members and I have faced when dealing with the Liberal government in trying to help the Afghan people. Unfortunately, some Afghan citizens were killed because of these delays.
    I want to commend the member for his efforts. He spoke French very well.
    The hon. member for Lac‑Saint‑Jean.
    Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen on his French. I have a great deal of appreciation for him. I know that he has a direct connection to Afghanistan, because he served over there. We thank him for his service.
     I thank him for the opportunity to say how frustrating this is and has been. He and I are part of a group of parliamentarians that also includes our friend from Edmonton Strathcona. The members of this group are advocating for former Afghan parliamentarians. We are working very hard to try and bring them here because we have a responsibility to these women. Unfortunately, we lost one of the women for whom we were advocating. I think that this has been very hard on the whole group. In fact, the Liberals are part of this group, which is a transpartisan group.
    However, the situation is frustrating. Currently, the government's slowness is not only frustrating, but also something that I find incomprehensible. The government says it is feminist. It often wraps itself in human rights' superhero costumes. However, when it comes time to act in crises such as this, it always seems to drag its feet. It is frustrating, incomprehensible and unfortunate.
    We have friends in every party in the House of Commons who work behind the scenes to help people half a world away living in fear. These people are frustrated, whether they are in the governing party or in the other opposition parties. This needs to change.
    I think that the government has some serious soul-searching to do to understand what is going on. Unfortunately, we are talking about people's lives.

  (1700)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would speak French but I find when I get upset, it is difficult to find the words in French. I am upset today because what we have in front of us is the situation the government has put us in, being 18 to 19 months too late. We are now having to judge between accepting and supporting bad legislation or giving the organizations that are desperately trying to help the Afghan people no legislation at all.
    I will be speaking about my challenges later on today, but I wonder how the member reconciles that. I am finding it very difficult to reconcile this dilemma, the dilemma that will actually take away the rights that humanitarian organizations are by international law entitled to.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague and I are in the same position and we feel the same way. This is a bill that we need to pass, but it is truly imperfect and is not acceptable to the very organizations that asked us to create this bill.
    We need to find solutions. Earlier in my speech I talked about that a bit. I do not know whether my colleague had the opportunity to hear it. I think that the members from all the parties are mature enough to talk informally before sitting down in committee to agree on changes to the bill that we could adopt quickly. Instead of putting on a show in committee and deciding to debate this or that amendment, let us sit down. We are capable of going into a room in Parliament, all together, before the committee in order to decide which amendments we can agree on.
    That way, when we go to committee, everything will go more quickly. We will adopt amendments rather quickly and we will do our work properly and in the best spirit possible to be able to help our friends who are awaiting this help in Afghanistan.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean for his speech. Every time he rises here in the House we see that humanitarian causes are very dear to him.
    With respect to Afghanistan, we know that the needs are immense and that millions of people are affected.
    My question may be a little redundant in light of the earlier question. Does this bill strike a good balance between sanctions on a terrorist state and the exceptional measures for humanitarian assistance? I understand that improvements need to be made. Is that tied to this aspect of the bill?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent question. I think this bill was supposed to strike a balance, which is no easy task when it comes to any discussion on terrorist financing. I understand how difficult it can be for legislators to draft a document that strikes this balance, and I think it has been achieved to some extent. Where we do see problems now has more to do with how this balance is being implemented. The government wants to move forward with authorizations and lots of red tape, when there are urgent needs right now. I do not think this is the best approach.
    There is another problem with that balance, specifically that the burden of proof falls on the NGOs. It is the NGOs that have to prove that they are not malicious and they are not financing any terrorists. Take Doctor