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Friday, November 24, 2023

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 255


Friday, November 24, 2023

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 10 a.m.




Points of Order

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Yesterday, I gave a speech when we were talking about Bill C-56.
    After doing so, I received the Hansard emails and there was one word that I caught off the top, so I tried to correct it using the draft blues. The draft blues had an error message. I tried another device and got the same error message. I called the blues; nobody answered, so I left a voice mail. I called the emergency number; nobody answered, so I left a voice mail.
    All that being said, I am told it is too late. It does change the meaning when the interpreter mishears a word, for example, “hole” instead of “hold”. I was talking about a black hole. That really does make a difference. It is rocket science, as I understand, and that is why I want to get it right.
    I thank the hon. member for raising this issue. It is very important for members of Parliament's words to accurately reflect what happened.
    I assure the hon. member we will follow up with Hansard staff and we will get back to the member directly as to what we can do for that.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]


Canada Labour Code

     The House resumed consideration from November 22 of the motion that Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board Regulations, 2012, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue the speech I started the day before yesterday to speak to this very important bill, Bill C-58. For the first time, the federal government is proposing anti-scab legislation for all workers governed by the Canada Labour Code, so, workers under federal jurisdiction, who represent 10% of the country's labour force.
    This is a very important debate. This bill is important because it is historic. For generations, labour activists who support workers' rights have been fighting to have the government uphold workers' fundamental right to strike, to ensure that during a labour dispute employers can no longer use replacement workers, to use the polite term, or scabs, to put it bluntly.
    This is a big day. We need to emphasize the importance of the step that is being taken today. We will continue to exert pressure so that this bill is improved in committee and passed. Obviously, some aspects of the bill need to be improved, but the fact that the government has introduced such a bill for the first time in history is a good sign.
    Over the years, the NDP has introduced a number of anti-scab bills, nine of them, I think, in the past 10 or 12 years. I introduced a bill last year to give the Liberal government a helping hand and point it in the right direction. We managed to hold discussions and make some progress. Today, we have something interesting to look at.
    It could make a huge difference for tens of thousands of people. We wish this legislation had come along sooner, because people are suffering now without it. We want to fix the problem so that painful situations like these never happen again.
    I get pretty disheartened when organizations like the Conseil du patronat du Québec, Quebec's council of employers, tell us that this bill is not relevant or necessary right now. There are still people on picket lines or locked out who see replacement workers take their place during a labour dispute. That was the case until very recently. It has psychological consequences for workers and it impacts the balance of power between management and unions. It also has very serious and significant consequences for families going through extremely tense times.
    The Conseil du patronat du Québec says this is not relevant or timely, but that is simply not the case. Just think about Océan remorquage in Sorel-Tracy, which was in a labour dispute two years ago, if memory serves me correctly. The workers were replaced by scabs. A small team of 12 or 14 employees was replaced. It took longer and it was more difficult to resolve the problem because replacement workers were brought in.
    Let us also not forget the longshore workers at the Port of Québec, who have been locked out for 14 months now. They were kicked out by their own employer, who refused to negotiate in good faith. Because of the lack of legislative measures in the Canada Labour Code, employers can hire replacement workers or scabs. This means that, for the past 14 months, 81 longshore workers have seen people take their place every day on the job site, even though those folks do not have the necessary skills, cause a bunch of accidents and destroy equipment.
    It upsets the balance of power and undermines the possibility of reaching a reasonable settlement that works for both parties when replacement workers are given the job and perform the tasks of workers who are out on strike or, in the case of the Quebec longshore workers, are locked out. It is even worse in this case, because this was not their choice. Workers just want decent working conditions. In this case, it is not even about money. It is more about work-life balance and having more humane working hours.


    This is happening now. We are not talking about 50 years ago, we are not talking about Murdochville, we are not talking about past battles. We are talking about what is happening right now, today. The situation with the longshore workers at the Port de Québec is tough. It is not the only one and may not be the last, unfortunately.
    Now there is a dispute at Videotron, in Gatineau. Again, this is a federally regulated sector. We talked about sports. We could also talk about airports or the rail sector. Here we are talking about telecommunications, another federally regulated sector. It is possible that replacement workers are taking the jobs of the unionized workers in Videotron's west sector, in Gatineau. This would make it much harder to reach a settlement, to get a good contract for the employees.
    I want to come back to the example of Videotron because it is an interesting one. Videotron is owned by Pierre Karl Péladeau, who is proud to be a Quebecker and proud of the legislative advances made by his province. Quebec was the first province to implement anti-scab legislation in 1977. British Columbia followed suit several years later. If Pierre Karl Péladeau respects the spirit of the law in Quebec, then he should not use replacement workers in his own company. We will see what happens with Videotron in Gatineau, but I want to make it clear that when workers organize to collectively defend their rights and improve their working conditions, which is well within their rights to do, there has to be a balance of power. For years, that balance of power did not exist. For example, unions were prohibited in Canada until 1872. They were illegal.
    It was a crime to collectively organize in order to defend a group's rights and try to improve pay or work organization. It really is thanks to the work of generations of union activists that we have been able to achieve better working conditions. In fact, if we look closely, we realize that before unions emerged and took action, spearheading major battles, there really was no middle class. There were extremely rich owners and extremely poor workers. The workers merely survived, trying to work hard and provide for their children so that these children could take their place in the factory and continue to ensure profits and added value for the owners of the means of production.
    It took the courage and action of generations of workers, men and women, who stood up and decided that they had to fight together to lift themselves out of misery and poverty, to get good paycheques, good working conditions and benefits. In fact, the union movement created the middle class. There was no middle class before. It did not exist. In the 19th century there was no middle class. People were either very rich or very poor. Workers struggled to survive under horrific health and safety conditions.
    The goal was to establish a balance of power at the bargaining table and negotiate with management, with the employer, to tell them that workers wanted their share of the profits and to live with dignity. There would be no profits without all these workers doing their jobs in factories to produce the goods and services sold. This was how the middle class got its start and managed to rise above poverty and misery. Finally, middle class workers could buy a house, have a pension, look forward to retirement and get insurance and benefits.


    That is how we were able to create a middle class in Quebec and Canada, as well as in the United States, of course, France and England.
    The problem with not having anti-scab legislation is that the balance of power at the bargaining table is completely undermined. Going on strike essentially sends a message to the employer that production is being halted and that there will be an economic impact arising from this work stoppage, since the product can no longer be sold on the market. If production continues because replacement workers can be hired to keep doing the work, the balance of power at the bargaining table has just been destroyed. It is all well and good for the employer to say that employees can go on strike for as long as they like and that it is not the employer's problem, because, in any case, production and service will continue, the employer will continue to make money, revenue will come in, and there is no problem.
    This destroys the workers' bargaining power and drags out the labour disputes. The employer has no incentive to reach an agreement with the union to provide good or acceptable working conditions to its workers. This also creates more tension, which can lead to violence. Imagine being a worker on the picket line every morning who sees someone go in to take their place, their salary and keep the business in operation. Frustration and anger run high. In the past we have seen violent acts and interpersonal conflicts that are totally understandable.
    That is why, for hundreds of thousands of workers at the federal level, it is important to have this legislation that will simply provide balance at the bargaining table. Such legislation has existed in Quebec since 1977 in every sector in Quebec, of which there are very many. We are talking about 90% of the labour force. This also exists in British Columbia and the sky has not fallen. Economic development has carried on. In fact, the labour disputes have been fewer, shorter and less violent. That is good for everyone.
    Some members of the House use the term “common sense” a lot. I think that anti-scab legislation is just common sense. We are not trying to dictate what workers' wages, working conditions or contracts will look like. We just want to give workers a chance to exercise their constitutional rights and to be in a position where they can use their balance of power, have a say at the bargaining table and negotiate a good employment contract.
    I began working as a union representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees in 2002. Two weeks later, the labour dispute at Videotron began. What I saw 20 years ago is the impact of the employer being able to use replacement workers, or scabs, and just how much that served to prolong the dispute. I was happy to be working with that union, but it was a long, hard battle. In the end, the union was successful. The technicians stayed in the union. However, it is important to avoid this type of situation in the future, like the situations at the Port of Québec and Videotron in Gatineau right now. We must ensure that there is an equal balance of power. It is a matter of fairness. We are not trying to favour one side over the other. These are fundamental rights that must be defended.
    I am extremely proud of the fact that the NDP leveraged its strength in Parliament to help workers. I was talking about balance of power at the bargaining table, but we used our balance of power in Parliament. From the very beginning of talks on the agreement we have with the minority Liberal government, the leader of the NDP made it clear that this was an essential condition. After years of struggle, we absolutely had to have anti-scab legislation at the federal level.


    I think this is an extremely important step. This direct gain is attributable to the work of the NDP caucus, my NDP colleagues and the leader of the NDP, the member for Burnaby South. He forced the Liberals to introduce anti-scab legislation even though the Liberals have always been against it. Every time we introduced anti-scab legislation, the Liberals voted against it. I think they have seen the light, but I also think they did not have much choice. We twisted their arm a bit and, in the end, thanks to the influence of the NDP caucus and all my colleagues, we are going to get it done.
    However, some obstacles remain and some aspects of the bill require improvement. My colleagues and I look forward to sending the bill to committee for improvement. One rather major obstacle right now is the time it will take to implement the bill. A second reading, a review in committee and a third reading will take time. After that the Senate will also be doing its part.
    The bill states that its implementation will take 18 months. This is a major irritant for the NDP. Eighteen months is far too long. We fail to understand why it would take that long for the Canada Industrial Relations Board to adjust to the new legislative measure. We think that it might take 12 months or maybe even six months. We will therefore be applying pressure in committee to shorten the implementation time provided for this bill in light of its importance and urgency to a number of sectors of our economy. It will open the door to good working conditions for the people we represent, make room for good employment contracts and good salaries, and improve the situation of just about everyone in the country.
    I am ready to answer questions from my colleagues.
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, because he emphasized the merits of the union movement. As a former union president, this means a lot to me.
    I would also like to thank the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel. Allow me to explain why I am taking the time to pay tribute to him. Since its inception in 1989-90, the Bloc Québécois has been fighting for anti-scab legislation at the federal level, and the first bill in that regard was introduced by the current dean of the House, so I wanted to take a moment to highlight the work of the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel.
    Here is my question for the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. There is still an 18-month delay before the bill receives royal assent. The leader of the Bloc Québécois has asked that this be done before Christmas. Does the member know the reasons for this delay?
    Mr. Speaker, I also commend the initiatives of the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, who is the dean of the House. He pushed for anti-scab legislation to be passed and I appreciate all the work that has been done.
    As a small point of clarification, however, the 18‑month delay is not for obtaining royal assent. It is for bringing the bill into force after obtaining royal assent.
    We do not understand the reason for this major delay of 18 months. Based on the discussions we have had, it seems that it was a request from the Canada Industrial Relations Board, who needs this time. We think it is a bit much, that it is too long. I would be happy to work with my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois in committee to propose amendments to fix this problem that, in our view, sets us back and will make it take too long before the bill is truly in effect. In the end, it might jeopardize the right of some workers to have the protection offered by anti-scab legislation. I would be happy to work with the member and all members in committee to fix this problem.



    Mr. Speaker, I look at Bill C-58 as a substantial piece of legislation that will make a wonderful difference for the labour movement, but not only the labour movement. I think we get lost in this in the sense that it is in the best interests of all, whether for labour or employers. I genuinely believe that. It is something I have been advocating for for many years.
    My question for my colleague is in regard to the province of Quebec and the province of British Columbia. They have had this, in particular Quebec for many years now. Could he again reinforce the benefits that those two provinces have received by having back-to-work legislation? What are his thoughts in regard to why it is important that other provincial jurisdictions follow suit now that we have two provinces and the national government moving forward on anti-scab legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, there is a huge difference between back-to-work legislation and anti-scab legislation. I am happy that my colleague rectified his wording at the end of his question.


    Reducing the number of labour disputes has helped a lot in Quebec and British Columbia. It has been good for everyone: employees, employers and society in general. The vast majority of collective agreements—97% or 98%, I believe—are resolved without a labour dispute, strike or lockout.
    Experience has taught us that, when there is a labour dispute in Quebec or British Columbia, the average time it takes to resolve it is less than when replacement workers or scabs are involved. That is good news for everyone. Quebec paved the way and British Columbia followed.
    I think it is now time for the federal government to set an example and ensure that we have anti-scab legislation that will make a difference for all of society, reduce tensions and reduce the duration of labour disputes in our country. I think that is good news for everyone.


    Mr. Speaker, this is such an important bill that will help workers across the country and help all communities across the country. As he mentioned, it has been an NDP issue for many years. I remember one of the first private member's bills I saw tabled in this House was from my former colleague Karine Trudel, who tabled very similar anti-scab legislation. Unfortunately, the Liberals and the Conservatives voted against it. However, I am so proud that we have used our power in this Parliament to bring it forward again through the government legislation we see here today.
    The hon. member touched on the conflict that replacement workers often cause in communities, especially small communities, where there may not be many jobs available so there is a lot of pressure to take on replacement worker status. That conflict can often escalate into violence, as he mentioned. One of the classic examples is the Giant Mine strike of 1992, which resulted in one of the worst mass murders, I would say, in Canadian history. That conflict escalated and escalated, and eventually someone set off a bomb in the mine, killing workers.
    I am wondering if he could comment on the effect that this bill would have on communities across the country.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague for his question and comment. No one wants to see violence, people getting hurt or killed, in the context of labour disputes. That is absolutely appalling and has to be avoided. It is also true that in small communities, when everyone knows everyone else, it is even more difficult. Just think of the period after the labour dispute is resolved.
    During a labour dispute, it is hard for workers to see someone coming in every day and getting their pay even though those workers still have to pay for their house and feed and clothe their children. There is a lot of anger and resentment when workers see someone basically stealing their pay. In a small community, when everyone knows everyone else, it is even more appalling. It can go on for years and years. We need to avoid that.
    We need to avoid situations like the lockout of longshore workers at the Port of Québec, which has been going on for 14 months. The Vidéotron people in western Quebec may well go through the same thing today. We need to resolve this problem as quickly as possible. Federal anti-scab legislation has been needed for decades. It is time to act.


    Mr. Speaker, we are delighted over the introduction of this bill.
    As my colleague from Repentigny said earlier, the Bloc Québécois member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel introduced the first such bill back in 1990. I know that this has been a long fight for the Bloc Québécois and for the NDP. I would also like to commend the NDP for keeping this issue front and centre over the years. When it comes to worker-related issues, I think our political parties usually sing from the same song sheet.
    I would like to ask the member if he is concerned about the possibility that some political parties might oppose the bill. If an early election were called and this bill were to die on the Order Paper, could all the time we have spent working to reach this point suddenly come to nothing, when victory seems so close?
    Mr. Speaker, our two political parties have always worked towards this goal. I think the NDP introduced anti-scab bills before the Bloc Québécois even existed. That is just a historic fact.
    We want to push for this bill to pass as quickly as possible. I do not know when the next federal election will be held. That is not really my decision or within my control. We want the bill to be sent to committee as quickly as possible so that amendments can be proposed, so that the bill can be improved and enhanced, to pass in this House and be sent to the Senate. We do not want to have to start this work all over again, since tens of thousands of workers have been waiting for this kind of measure for years now. We want this to come into force as quickly as possible. That is why we are concerned about the 18-month delay in implementing the bill.
    I am ready to work with all political parties. Only one party does not seem to want to talk about this bill very much. Right now, the official opposition is not too keen to talk about it, and I do not know why. Right now, the Conservatives do not want to talk about legislation to ban replacement workers. I think it will be in everyone's interest for this bill to pass as quickly as possible.


    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to talk about the anti-scab legislation. When one looks at page 22 of the Liberal Party platform from the last federal election, one will find a commitment that the Liberal Party made, under its current leadership, toward bringing forward anti-scab legislation. This is a fulfilment of that commitment.
    It is really encouraging to have before us legislation that would have a very positive impact on our labour movement across the country, from coast to coast to coast. In fact, I hope that other provincial jurisdictions will look at what the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec have had in place for a number of years and, now, what the federal government is proposing within this bill to bring forward anti-scab legislation, and do likewise.
    My daughter, who is the MLA for the Tyndall Park riding, through a throne speech, encouraged the provincial New Democratic Party in Manitoba to bring forward anti-scab legislation. Hopefully, my home province of Manitoba will in fact be the third province to bring it in.
    I approach this legislation based on a number of factors. As a member of Parliament of Winnipeg's north end and a north-end MLA for almost 20 years, I have always looked at the issue of labour as important. In fact, one thing I would like to talk about is the general strike of 1919 in Winnipeg, which was a very historic strike for Canada as a nation. It lasted for six weeks, from mid-May to virtually the end of June, and I have had the opportunity to raise the 1919 general strike on several occasions.
    I would like to highlight a couple of those. Back in 2019, I attempted to get recognition of that particular strike on the floor of the House. The first thing I will quote is that request. Before I do that, I want to emphasize that the boiling point of the 1919 strike was in good part over replacement workers. Today, we are debating anti-scab legislation, which is to prevent replacement workers, and this was a theme of the 1919 general strike in the city of Winnipeg.
    I am going to go to May 7, 2019, where I stood in the House from this very seat and asked the following:
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, but first let me just recognize and appreciate the support from the member for Elmwood—Transcona.
    There has been discussion among the parties and, if you seek it, I hope you will find unanimous consent for the following motion: that the House of Commons recognize the historical significance of the Winnipeg general strike of 1919, in particular on workers rights, human rights and social advocacy for over the past 100 years.
    Unfortunately, we did not get unanimous consent in order to have that recognition, but I still thought it was an important issue to raise.
     May 15 is a significant day; for all intents and purposes, it is when the general strike of 1919 started. On May 15, again, I stood in the House at this very same spot and said the following:
     Mr. Speaker, it was a general strike. On May 15, 1919, the call was made for all workers to put down their tools at 11 a.m. The first to strike were the female telephone workers, who failed to show up for their 7 a.m. shift.
    Today is the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg strike. I want to acknowledge the importance of the labour movement in Canada. Unions matter. Unions represent people, people who work hard, support their families and contribute to their communities and our economy.


    Today I thank those pioneers. The labour movement has been essential to promoting fairness and inclusion in our economy. Unions fight for the middle class and have been the driving force behind the exceptional progress made on behalf of women, LGBTQ workers, indigenous workers and workers with disabilities.
    When we were elected, we committed to being a real partner with labour. We stand by that commitment, and we will keep working on behalf of the workers and Canada's middle class.
    I said that back in 2019; I want to reinforce just how important it is. I often talk about the middle class on the floor of the House. It is something that the Prime Minister talked about even before he became the Prime Minister of Canada: supporting Canada's middle class.
    One of the first actions we took was to repeal labour legislation of the Conservative Party, through private members. That was the member, and my colleague and friend, for the Kildonan riding, the minister of labour under the government at the time.
    We have worked very closely with labour to ultimately be able to materialize a substantial piece of legislation. I appreciate the fact that the NDP and the Bloc party are going to be supporting this legislation. I would love to see the Conservative Party realize that the economy works better when one has harmony within the labour force.
    There is nothing wrong with supporting anti-scab legislation. It is in everybody's best interest. I would ask my Conservative colleagues across the way to recognize that fact and support the legislation. It would send a very powerful message to everyone if, in fact, we could see that take place.
    One does not need to say that this is an area that has never been explored before. As I said, the Province of British Columbia has had it for many years; the Province of Quebec has had it for many more, for decades.
    I believe that the numbers and the stats clearly demonstrate that, in the end, we have seen more harmony in terms of labour relations in those provinces. This is a direct result of having anti-scab legislation, or at the very least, an indirect result.
    I do not say that lightly, because it has been attempted before. I will go back to my home province of Manitoba. Back in 1988, when I was first elected, there was a big labour issue before the chamber. It was based on what they called final offer selection. This was, in essence, a compromise. The premier, Howard Pawley, had made a commitment years prior to the union movement to bring in anti-scab legislation. Well, he did not do so; instead, he brought in final offer selection as a compromise.
    The final offer selection, in essence, said that the employer and employee would give their very best offer. The arbitrator would then have to choose one of the two; they could not mix it up in any way. That legislation had a sunset clause on it. That was the closest Manitoba ever came to having anti-scab legislation; it was that compromise.
    I remember the debates quite well, because we would be going until two o'clock in the morning in standing committees. I remember the presentations by, in particular, labour movements and the different types of businesses that were coming before the Manitoba legislature.
    It was a very heated discussion that took place. However, people lost sight of the bargaining table and the issue of collective bargaining.


    There is not a level playing field when an employer is allowed to bring in replacement workers. That became very apparent in those discussions. At the time, we were the official opposition, and we felt we had to fight to keep final offer selection in place in the province of Manitoba, because we knew there was no way we were going to be able to get anti-scab legislation. If we could not get that, then we would stick with Howard Pawley's compromise of final offer selection. Unfortunately, we still lost that because of a lot of political manipulation.
    I suspect that the Hansard of the Manitoba legislature back then would show that I was a very strong advocate, because I believe in, as much as possible, striving for labour harmony and supporting the collective bargaining system. This is why it goes as far back as 1988, and members will find that, with respect to labour issues, I often stand in the chamber, and often on behalf of many of my Liberal caucus colleagues. In fact, today, on behalf of all of my Liberal caucus colleagues, I am talking about how important it is to see the legislation before us pass, because we do not know what is on the horizon. Many, including myself, would like to think that we are going to be on this side for the next 10 years, but Canadians are going to have to make that decision. For now, we have an opportunity to do something very positive for the labour force and for business by getting behind the legislation. It is one of the ways in which we can actually support Canada's middle class.
    If we go back to the 1919 general strike in Winnipeg, it was the grouping of the middle class that was feeling stepped on and that felt compelled to get engaged in the strike. Interestingly, what brought the strike to what I would suggest was an improper conclusion was when a trolley car that was being used for replacement workers came across from what used to be the old city hall, downtown on Main Street, where there were protests taking place for some of the union leaders who had actually been arrested. Strikers were there, and the trolley car was brought forward, which incited the workers. This incitement led to the trolley car's being turned over. The windows were smashed, and ultimately it was set on fire. People died as a result, not because of being burned but because of the actions that followed immediately after that.
    There is a lot to be learned from history, and the Winnipeg General Strike had a profoundly positive impact on the labour movement in Canada. Many of the social programs we have today can be attributed to a lot of the strong labour personalities, and they came from different parties. It does not have to be made a political issue. Each and every one of us can be an advocate. Supporting the labour movement is supporting Canada's middle class and it is supporting our business community. If we learn from the past, we can recognize the value and importance of the bargaining table and of taking actions that would support the collective bargaining process. All one needs to do is look at the provinces of B.C. and Quebec. I truly believe it would provide, directly and indirectly, more labour harmony for Canada as a whole.


    The federal legislation would not apply for a majority. The majority would be found within the provincial jurisdictions. I hope the federal legislation would embolden provincial legislatures. That is why I highlight the Province of Manitoba. I think it is in a good position to be able to advance legislation of this nature, because final offer selection died long ago, 30 years or more ago. Therefore, I am hoping the provinces will look at it and take tangible steps to make it happen. It takes away from bargaining, and anything that takes away from the bargaining table is a bad thing. It prolongs disputes. The costs to our economy are enormous. At the end of the day, having a system in place that encourages labour's bargaining with employers is a positive thing.
    There are many mechanisms within the legislation itself that the Minister of Labour made reference to, and I would like to highlight a couple of them. Employers would be banned from hiring replacement workers during a strike or a lockout. That would mean, for example, that no new contractors or members of a bargaining unit could cross the picket line. Employers would be able to use replacement workers only to prevent threats to life, health and safety, or destruction or serious damage to property or the environment. If a union believes its employer is in violation of the ban, it would be able report it to the CIRB for an investigation. There would be a substantial penalty of $100,000 per day in certain situations. There would also be a maintenance of activities agreement, which is how employers and unions would agree on what work will continue during a strike or a lockout. It is a truce in the midst of a dispute.
    There are a number of clauses within the legislation to reinforce its strength, so hopefully all members will get behind Bill C-58. I have listened to the New Democrats and members of the Bloc, who have some concerns. Let us get the bill to committee stage and see whether there are some amendments that could be brought forward. The government has demonstrated in the past that it is always open to the good ideas of individuals.
    The Conservative leader often likes to talk about how he is there to represent union workers. If he is genuine in his comments, then I would hope the Conservative Party would join the Bloc; the NDP; the Greens, I expect; and the Liberals in voting in favour of the legislation. Unanimously supporting the legislation would send a powerful, positive message to all, in particular the labour movement. That would be my appeal to my colleagues across the way. Hopefully, they will respond to the appeal in a positive fashion and will think of the 1919 general strike and how it could impact some of the thinking on the whole process as we debate the bill.


    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order that came out of the member for Winnipeg North's speech. In particular, he quoted a few occasions at length—
    That sounds like debate. The hon. member will have an opportunity to ask a question, so I would ask him to get straight to the point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, there is a question about quoting from Hansard in the record, and he quoted himself at length a few times. We know that the member is more concerned about the quantity than the quality of his words and—
    That does not sound like a point of order. Members are allowed to quote Hansard as they wish.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have been saying that they are standing up for unions by banning replacement workers. If it is such a good idea, why are they not doing the same thing with their own federal public sector union employees?
    Mr. Speaker, it is about regulating the industry. At the end of the day, I do not have a problem comparing labour negotiations to those of the federal government today. Over the last number of years, compared to Stephen Harper's time, we see there has been a great deal of collective bargaining and agreements signed off on. It is virtually night and day.



    Mr. Speaker, I want to take advantage of the presence in the House of the member for Sarnia—Lambton to draw a parallel between two bills that have required a lot of effort from several parties over the years in the House.
    During this Parliament, the member for Sarnia—Lambton introduced a bill on protecting pension plans. The Bloc Québécois enthusiastically supported the bill. Our colleague very elegantly and gracefully acknowledged the work that had been done in the past by other members of Parliament, and this paved the way for a bill that was proudly supported by several parties and was adopted unanimously.
    Something similar is happening with this bill to prohibit strikebreakers. The Bloc Québécois has introduced 11 bills over the years. The NDP has also introduced some. We in the House have a golden opportunity to once again demonstrate unity and respect for workers' rights, because allowing employers to hire scabs is an affront to the fundamental rights of workers in Quebec and Canada.
    The question I would like to ask my colleague from Winnipeg North is this: Why was the government so set on including a provision in the bill that says the legislation does not come into force until a year and a half after it receives royal assent?
    That does not make much sense to me. All it does is prolong an injustice that should have been remedied a long time ago. Rather than being subject to an 18-month delay, the bill should apply retroactively going back several years.


    Mr. Speaker, I am a bit reluctant to get into an area that is fairly detailed. As I suggested, when the legislation goes to committee, I am sure the member would be able to ask some of the specifics. If he feels it is too long a period, then there is always the possibility of moving an amendment. A lot of it has to do with the background work that has been done on it. For example, the member is not necessarily aware of the discussions and debate that would have taken place among labour and management groups that thought it was the best time frame to put it in. I do not know those types of details. The member might even want to consider approaching the minister directly about the issue.
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP has introduced anti-scab bills eight times in the last 15 years. The last time one was put forward for a vote, in 2016, the Liberals and Conservatives teamed up and voted against the NDP on the bill.
    I am hearing from workers about the fact that they are very happy to hear that the Liberals have finally seen the light, and that they are understanding how the use of replacement workers has created tensions in the workplace and decreased the ability for workers to negotiate for fair working conditions. Workers are wondering whether the member can share with them why it took so long for the Liberals to see the light, and whether, moving forward, we will see the Liberals taking on more measures to protect workers.
    Mr. Speaker, I was being somewhat careful to make sure I did not turn this into a partisan issue, but the member has invited me to do so.
    Let me remind the member that it was a Liberal government in B.C. that brought it in, a Liberal government in the province of Quebec that brought it in, and a Liberal commitment that was made in the last federal policy platform, on page 22. As for the NDP, I was in the Manitoba legislature when Howard Pawley, the NDP premier at the time, promised to bring in anti-scab legislation. He broke that promise and the NDP, over 20 years, has failed to bring in anti-scab legislation.
     Just last week, my daughter, who happens to be a Liberal MLA, encouraged the NDP to bring it forward in a throne speech, which the current provincial government failed to do. However, I am optimistic that the new premier will in fact do what my daughter is suggesting and bring in anti-scab legislation at the provincial level.
     By the way, the provincial jurisdiction impacts more workers than the federal legislation would, so I would hope that all provinces would do likewise and follow the national lead, along with B.C. and Quebec, and have anti-scab legislation.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]



Retirement Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, 24 years ago, Mary Jane Patterson left TV production to study at the University of Waterloo. Our community is so fortunate because she would go on to take the reins of a new project, which grew into a 20-person hub for environmental action, a pillar in our community, Reep Green Solutions.
    It was a joy to work hand in hand with her to build support for Waterloo Region’s first-ever climate action plan years ago. I am so proud of how she and others have only upped the ambition in the years since.
     MJ is not only a friend and a visionary leader, but a mentor to me and to so many in our community. Now, as she gets ready to retire, our community is coming together to thank her for her steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to give thousands of folks the tools they need to take action, including the gem that is the Reep House for Sustainable Living.
    I send my congratulations to MJ, and also to Patrick Gilbride, incoming executive director at Reep. I cannot think of a better choice to build on the incredible foundation MJ has laid.

Guru Nanak Food Bank

    Mr. Speaker, on July 1, 2020, the Guru Nanak Food Bank was born, serving residents of Surrey and Delta in B.C. Under the banner “recognize all human race as one”, the Guru Nanak Food Bank provides essential food and assistance to those in need.
     The food bank is assisted by 69 youth volunteers aged nine to 17, who have collectively contributed a staggering 11,569 hours of volunteer work during their summer break. Guru Nanak Food Bank serves 16,000 people monthly, accounting for 320,000 pounds of food. The day before I recently met with the board, they received and distributed over 55,000 pounds of bananas to the community in just one day.
     Guru Nanak Food Bank takes pride in providing these services to our community. These are among the many reasons I strongly support Guru Nanak Food Bank in its application for a Food Banks BC membership. I am proud of the progress they have made over the last three years, and I look forward to continuing my support for this fantastic organization.

Regina International Airport

    Mr. Speaker, after a long absence, non-stop daily flights will once again connect Regina to a major U.S. hub.
     Last Monday, the Regina International Airport announced that WestJet will be offering daily round-trip flights between Regina and Minneapolis. This investment is a demonstration of confidence in southern Saskatchewan, including our airport, our city and our province. It is a fitting chapter in the comeback story of the Regina International Airport, which in the spring of 2020, went several days with no flights of any kind, international or domestic.
     To James Bogusz, CEO of the Regina International Airport, Jared Mikoch-Gerke, director of alliances and airport affairs at WestJet, and everyone who made Monday’s announcement possible, I send my thanks and congratulations. To the travelling public in Regina and southern Saskatchewan who would like to fly to a major U.S. hub, I encourage them to sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.

Kiwanis Club of Sydney 100th Anniversary

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to congratulate the Kiwanis Club of Sydney on the celebration of their 100th anniversary.
    Chartered in November 1923, it is one of the oldest Kiwanis Clubs in Canada, and it has been a core part of the community for a century. Its impact can be seen throughout Sydney, from the first library, the first seniors housing and the donation of the first Handi-Trans bus. It built the Kiwanis pool and the Wentworth Park bandshell, and played an important role in developing the first-ever little league baseball league.
    The Kiwanis Club has supported the Salvation Army, Cape Breton Boys and Girls Clubs, buddy benches in elementary schools, Hawks Dream Field, Cantley Village, accessible play parks, peer-to-peer outreach programs and yearly high school scholarships, and that is just to name some of the work that took place over those 100 years.
    I would ask all members of the House to join me in offering congratulations to the Kiwanis Club on 100 years of incredible work in Sydney—Victoria.

Environmental Bill of Rights

    Mr. Speaker, the vast majority of Canadians believe they should have the right to live in a clean, healthy environment.
    The government believes that, too, as it voted in favour of a United Nations motion that enshrined that right around the world. However, we do not have that right in law throughout Canada. Some provinces have enshrined that right in legislation. The federal government put it in the new Canada Environmental Protection Act, but there, it is restricted to the narrow confines of the act.
    I have introduced Bill C-219, the Canadian environmental bill of rights, which would extend the right to live in a clean and ecologically sustainable environment to all federal legislation. It would improve on existing laws by providing accountability measures to make sure governments live up to their legal promises. It is constitutional because it only acts through existing federal legislation.
    I call on all members to support all Canadians and enshrine the right to live in a clean environment by voting for Bill C-219.



Social Enterprise Using Supported Employment

     Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to visit Défi Polyteck, a social enterprise in Sherbrooke that is powered by supported employment. The CEO, Steeve Breton, puts his employees first by providing them with training, opportunities for professional development, and a bright, safe environment adapted to their functional limitations.
    This business has been specializing in industrial subcontracting for decades, and it has positioned itself as a major player in the field of appliance recycling by taking a circular economy approach. Everything is reused or recycled. For example, for its fan repair project, the company collected 800 fans from the city's eco-centres, repaired them, reused some of the materials and put them back on the market.
    The most amazing thing about this company is the smiles on the faces of the employees, demonstrating their well-being, pride and commitment to this workplace, where they can grow and reach their full potential in a respectful environment.


Christmas Bureau of Edmonton

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize the wonderful service performed by the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton. The Christmas Bureau of Edmonton started as a wartime effort in 1940 when neighbours put food hampers together, often from their own near-bare cupboards, to support military families during the holidays.
    Over the past 80 years, the needs have changed, but the spirit of neighbours helping neighbours remains the same. The purpose of the Christmas Bureau is simple, and it is to bring Christmas joy to those in need. Last year, it saw the full effects of the cost of living crisis, as a need for Christmas hampers increased by 65%, but the bureau rose to the occasion and served over 60,000 Edmontonians last year.
    I want to send a special thank you to Barb, Adam, Oilers' legend Kevin Lowe and so many others for helping the Christmas Bureau serve those in need. Their service and dedication is truly commendable and certainly more proof why Edmonton is known as the “City of Champions”.

Greeting Card Business

    Mr. Speaker, recently, while going to the Fine Arts and Crafts Holiday Market at the DDO Civic Centre, I had the pleasure of meeting Zach Reisman. Zach is a talented artist.


    Zach is a young adult with autism in my riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard.


    Since 2018, Zach and his mom Lorri have operated Zach Designs. Their small business sells hand-illustrated greeting cards around the world. His cards are for every occasion, including Christmas and Hanukkah. They are a true work of art, and they are also cherished by our community. Everyone can find Zach's cards at
    Through his small business, Zach not only earns a living but also donates 10% of his sales to The Liam Foundation. The foundation raises funds for mitochondrial disease awareness and research.
    I am truly impressed by Zach, his art and his talent. I am truly moved by Lorri's perseverance and support of her son.


    Since the holidays are coming, let us support Zach by buying some of his beautiful greeting cards.


‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas Foundation

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the champions who run ‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas Foundation. Fifteen years ago, leaders in Mississauga came together to make a real difference in fighting hunger, feeding hope and empowering people. ‘Twas the Bite runs multiple events throughout the year, including the annual holiday turkey drive, which provides truckloads of frozen turkeys to local food banks. It all culminates in the ‘Twas the Bite Before Christmas dinner, which is happening on December 5 this year.
    We are grateful to individuals such as Dan Meadowcroft, who brought our community together in a common cause to help one another. They include members from church groups and businesses, and like-minded people who care about their neighbours. Since its inception, more than $1 million has been raised to help families in need during the holiday season. We especially appreciate the inspiration of Slavica Bissylas and her tremendous team in continuing this generous work.
    I thank all the volunteers and donors for their dedication and kindness.



International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Women do not feel safe in our streets. We are always in a state of hypervigilance. After eight years under this government, sexual assaults have increased by 71%.
    Help is available, however. I want to salute the Centre-Femmes de Bellechasse, which does amazing work in my community. I also want to highlight the work of Conservative Senator Boisvenu, who is sponsoring a bill that would allow courts to require violent partners awaiting trial to wear an electronic monitoring device. At the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, brave survivors urged us to pass that bill. The Conservative Party is in favour of using this tool to protect the freedom of victims of violence who are courageous enough to report their abuser. That is the strongest possible message: A world where women are free from violence is a world where women are free. That is our wish for each and every person.


Canadian Paralympian

    Mr. Speaker, last week I had the privilege of meeting with a 15-year-old Hamilton Mountain constituent, who highlighted the importance of the Parapan American Games, which are wrapping up in Chile this weekend.
    Charlotte McElroy has been playing wheelchair basketball since she was six. She trains more than 15 hours a week to excel at the sport she adores. Last month, she competed with authority at the under-25 world championships in Thailand, motivated and inspired by her teammates, who became like sisters during the tournament. Shortly after she hit her first three-pointer. This sport and these athletes are tough. Charlotte told me that wheelchair basketball is aggressive, high contact and fast. She said that it is so cool to see what people can do with a wheelchair. Charlotte learned by watching her idols, like Hamilton-born wheelchair basketball star Melanie Hawtin. I expect that one day soon we will be cheering for Charlotte, who will be living her dream and taking on the world as a Canadian paralympian.
    Go, Charlotte, go.


    Mr. Speaker, for Ukrainians facing a fierce winter Russian offensive, hope dies last. Canada’s Conservatives unequivocally support Ukraine. Do colleagues know what does not help? NDP-Liberals putting a carbon tax in their trade agreement, right there in section 13. This is a carbon tax on concrete and steel, $300 billion worth of infrastructure that Ukraine will need to rebuild, from the Prime Minister, the same man who betrayed Ukraine by sending emissaries to be best friends with Vladimir Putin; betrayed Ukraine and refused to let Canadian gas break European dependence on Putin; and betrayed Ukraine and supplied Putin a turbine to fund his war machine.
    Conservatives will deliver the deal that Ukrainians want, that their ambassador told Canadians about last night, not for taxes, but for defence production; not for taxes, but for energy partnerships. By advancing taxes over victory, they are putting their partisan interests over the national interests of Canadians and Ukrainians.
    We will never back down, never give in and never surrender. Conservatives will always stand for Ukraine.

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, in the Prime Minister's mini-budget, prices are up, rent is up, debt is up and taxes are up. The time for the Prime Minister is up. He has doubled down on his plan to quadruple the carbon tax on gas, groceries and home heating.
    Conservatives are the only party working to lower taxes for Canadians. That is exactly what Bill C-234 would accomplish. It would create another carbon tax carve-out by removing the carbon tax for Canadian farmers. This bill would help lower prices in Canada, because when there is a tax for the farmer who grows the food, and a tax for the trucker who ships the food, groceries cost more. An added bonus for Canadians is that the Prime Minister's activist environment minister has promised to resign if this bill passes.
    Will the Prime Minister instruct his Liberal Senators to put Canadians before his environment minister and pass Bill C-234, so we can leave a billion dollars in the pockets of our hard-working farmers and Canadian families can afford to feed themselves?



    Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to a very timely issue: affordability. Investments in the middle class and in housing are core features of our policies. Affordability is essential in all aspects of life. Financial accessibility, whether in terms of housing, education or health care, creates equitable opportunities. A society where goods and services are affordable promotes inclusivity and reduces inequality.
    By ensuring that everyone in Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation has access to decent living conditions, we are building a stronger, more unified community. Affordability is not simply an economic issue, but a social justice issue as well. Investing in policies that promote affordability helps build a future where everyone has a chance to prosper, regardless of their personal financial means.



Nanaimo Clippers

    Mr. Speaker, the Nanaimo Clippers Junior A hockey team in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith has been on fire. Not only are they playing hard and climbing up the leader board, but the talented team has also been going above and beyond to engage with the community. It was a great evening on November 10 when I was able to not only join in the fun of watching the Nanaimo Clippers win yet another game, but also had the opportunity to do so with the crew of HMCS Nanaimo, honouring all those dedicated to service, including veterans, military personnel and first responders.
    The Nanaimo Clippers recently welcomed 1,900 Nanaimo Ladysmith Public School students for the team's first-ever school-day game. For many of these students, it was their first time attending a hockey game and the Clippers did not disappoint.
    From visiting schools to showing off their skills on the ice, Nanaimo is so fortunate to have this dedicated team representing our community. I hope you will all join me today in cheering on this amazing team.
    Go, Clippers, go.



    Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing humans cannot do, it is erase pages from history. If we could, we would rewrite major parts of our history, like the horrors experienced by the Ukrainian people under the yoke of the U.S.S.R. in the winter of 1932-33, when dictator Stalin deliberately cut off food supplies to the entire country in order to wipe out the population through famine. It was an atrocity, a genocide in the true meaning of the word, that came to be known as the Holodomor.
    Millions of Ukrainians perished, including entire families and villages. Survivors carried the scars of the horrors they had lived through, and those who were able to passed on the knowledge of the Holodomor to their descendants, so that future generations would ensure that such an atrocity never happened again.
    However, it is happening again right now in Ukraine. Now more than ever, Ukraine's allies must stand in solidarity and support the Ukrainian people in their fight against the dictator Putin. We do not have the right to let history repeat itself. We do not need another Holodomor to commemorate.
    Slava Ukraini.


The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, what do grocery prices, tax, rents and mortgage costs all have in common? They are all up, up and away after eight years of this NDP-Liberal government.
    This week, in his mini budget, the Prime Minister has shown that he is not worth the cost. Our estimated public debt costs have skyrocketed to over $52 billion next year, which essentially equals the budget for the entire health transfer, but why? Food bank lineups are longer, and unless one is a Liberal insider, life has never been less affordable.
    This Prime Minister once pledged that he was working for the middle class and those wanting to join it. After eight long years, the middle class can no longer afford to be the middle class, because this Prime Minister has made it too expensive. The proof is not in the pudding but in the eating, and right now seven million Canadians are skipping meals to save money. They know that this Prime Minister plans to continue to spend and thus they will continue to pay through higher debt, taxes and suffering. Time is up for this Prime Minister.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Mr. Speaker, Monday marked the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day to mourn the lives lost to transphobia and violence and to reflect on the conditions in our society that continue to allow trans and gender-diverse individuals to face a significantly higher risk of violent victimization.
     In 2023 alone, at least 320 trans and gender-diverse people were murdered. Ninety-four per cent were trans women or trans-feminine people and 80% were racialized people. Since 2008, when this data began to be collected, there have been more than 4,600 murders of trans and gender-diverse people.
    The data is clear: trans lives are under attack. The recent rise we have seen in anti-trans rhetoric, prompted by highly organized and well-funded right-wing hate groups, is to blame for this inexcusable violence.
    This year, in the U.S. alone, 586 bills have been targeted at the trans community. This trend has already begun creeping its way into our communities, starting with my own province.
    Canada cannot stand by and allow this hateful movement to continue to spread and gain power, which is why I am joining in the calls of activists like Fae Johnstone to urge our government to implement the recommendations from the White Paper on the Status of Trans and Gender Diverse People.
    Trans lives matter.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]




    Mr. Speaker, here is breaking news: Rents spiked in October at the highest rate in 40 years. Rents are up, taxes are up, prices are up and interest rates are up. The Prime Minister's reckless spending is causing pain. Scotiabank says mortgage rates would be two full percentage points lower if the government would just control its spending. Canadians are at risk of losing their homes when they renew their mortgages. Two per cent is the difference between making it and breaking them.
    Will the Prime Minister end his reckless spending so that Canadians can keep their homes?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member wishes to talk about Canadians keeping their homes. Let us look at the Conservative record on housing. When the now opposition leader was the so-called minister of housing, $300 million was allocated toward housing. How many homes were built? Fewer than 100. The record speaks for itself.
    Across the country we have signed deals with many municipalities: Kelowna, London, Hamilton, Halifax, Calgary and the list continues. We are going to continue to work with municipalities and with partners across the way, to make sure we get homes built. This is an obligation, and we are up to the task.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, photo ops do not build homes, and when our leader was not the so-called minister but was the minister, rent was lower, down payments were lower and housing was lower. It was a much more affordable place eight years ago than it is today in Canada.
     Here at home at a time when Canadians are struggling with the cost of everything, the Prime Minister wants to quadruple the carbon tax. He is just not worth the cost.
    Will he show some compassion and cancel the NDP-Liberals' cruel plan to quadruple the carbon tax on the backs of struggling Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, in a week where that party has been exposed for what it is, that is, a party that does not stand in alignment with the principles of freedom and has turned its back on the Ukrainian diaspora and on Ukrainians, it is hard to take anything that side has to say seriously today.
    On the matter of housing, $46 billion has been allocated toward housing, and the result is that two million Canadians have been housed. They have had homes built, they have had homes repaired and homes subsidized. We are going to continue this work.

Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, this is the government that sent turbines to Putin so he can pump natural gas into Europe and fund his war machine. We should end dollars for dictators and turn them into paycheques for our people. The Prime Minister gave $15 billion to Stellantis in Windsor without protecting Canadian jobs; $15 billion is being used to bring in up to 1,600 foreign replacement workers.
    Let us see the contract. Let us see the details. Will the Prime Minister release the contract and let Canadian workers see for themselves how many jobs are going to foreign replacement workers?
    Mr. Speaker, what is becoming clearer and clearer every day is that the Conservative leader of today is just not worth the risk. Quite frankly, the far right element of Canada has actually taken over the Conservative Party today. We saw that in the actions of all Conservative members voting against the Canada-Ukraine trade agreement. It is completely amazing. It shows a lack of leadership. The leader of the Conservative Party is moving it far to the right. It is inexcusable and shame on every Conservative member for joining with—
    The hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable has the floor.



    Mr. Speaker, “A Fiscal Forecast Only a Contortionist Could Love”. That is what Mouvement Desjardins had to say about the Minister of Finance's mini-budget.
    After eight years of fiscal irresponsibility, this Prime Minister has lost all credibility. Next year, the government will be spending $51 billion on debt payments. That is the same amount allocated to the health care transfers to the provinces and double the amount allocated to national defence. This shows that the Prime Minister is just not worth the cost.
    Are the Liberals capable of showing some common sense and balancing their budget so that Canadians can finally manage their own budgets and put food on the table?


    Mr. Speaker, those who are watching at home on this Friday morning understand that the Conservative Party is not worth the risk.
    Foreign investments in Canada are up, but that is something that our Conservative neighbours will not talk about. When it comes to attracting foreign investment, Canada is now ranked third in the world, after the United States and Brazil.
    We have seen record investments in the battery, automotive, mining, steel, and aluminum industries. We will continue to fight to ensure that Canada is part of the 21st century economy.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals should do more to fight for Canadians. If the minister wants numbers, I will give him some. We know that inflation rose at its fastest rate in 40 years. A record number of two million people use food banks in a single month. The cost of housing has doubled in eight years, the price of rent has doubled, mortgage payments have gone up by 150%, the down payment for buying a home has doubled, and the cost of housing is 50% to 75% higher in Canada than in the United States. The Liberals should be ashamed of what they are doing to Canadians. Every expert says that Liberal spending has increased the cost of everything.
    When will they show some responsibility and tell us when we will return to a balanced budget?
    Mr. Speaker, what people in Canada need is leadership. That is exactly what we are giving them in the mini-budget. Canadians asked for two specific things, namely for help with affordability and help with housing. That is exactly what we are doing in the mini-budget.
    On top of that, we are announcing the biggest change to the Competition Act in 30 years. Why are we doing that? In this country, we want fewer mergers, more competition and better prices for Canadians. We will continue to fight for Canadians every day.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the federal government owes Quebec the $460 million that the province spent on asylum seekers, who come under federal jurisdiction. Quebec is doing far more than its share, and now it is time for the federal government to do its part.
    Yesterday, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship not only refused to settle the bill, he had the temerity to say that he was giving Quebec too much money. He said that not only would he refuse to reimburse these costs, he might even send Quebec a bill of his own. Instead of picking fights, why does the minister not get out his chequebook and pay up, so that we can take in asylum seekers the way they deserve?
    Mr. Speaker, I have stated very publicly that we need to sit down with Quebec and our respective finance ministers to sort all this out and put all our cards on the table. If we included all the extra amounts that we have invested in the Canada-Quebec accord, Quebec would definitely be the one getting the bill.
    That is something I hesitate to discuss in public. I would rather sit down with my provincial colleagues and talk this over privately. We need to sort this out. Our goal is to work together on behalf of immigrants and asylum seekers.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is talking about additional amounts, but one has to wonder whether he has ever met with an asylum seeker or one of the organizations that support them. He will not find anyone on the ground who is saying that there is too much money for asylum seekers.
    There is no such thing as too much money when we have to support people who do not even have the right to work because the federal government is not giving them permits. There is no such thing as too much money when people are sleeping in tents in the winter. There is not too much money, there are just too many political games being played at the expense of vulnerable people.
    When will the minister take responsibility, stop playing petty politics and reimburse Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, playing petty politics is to presume that this is a one-way relationship, when it is actually a two-way relationship. It takes two to tango.
    Obviously, both levels of government have to assume some responsibility. That is what we are trying to do. Obviously, under the Canada-Quebec accord, Quebec has all the responsibility and a duty to welcome asylum seekers. We can do this together as a country.
    However, given the reductionist approach of the Bloc Québécois and its friends in the Quebec National Assembly, which are sending questions to the Bloc members, I would ask them to sit down with us to sort all this out. We will be able to see that the bill would very quickly fall to Quebec to pay. We can all work it all out together.



    Mr. Speaker, a 30-year-old Sherbrooke man cannot find affordable housing. Without housing, Alexandre is getting ready for his first winter living on the street. According to the Sherbrooke tenants' association, this is part of a new wave of homelessness.
    Under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, Canada has lost one million affordable housing units over the past 17 years. People need housing today, not two years from now. When will the Liberals take action to build the social housing that people need now?
    Mr. Speaker, yes, it is true that Canada is in the midst of a housing crisis. What approach is our government taking? I believe it is an example of co-operation.


    It is co-operation with the parties across the way that want to do something on housing, with provinces, with municipalities and with the not-for-profit sector.
    To take an example, the national housing strategy is getting people housed. Thousands of people across the country who did not have a home have a home now. Those who were homeless are now able to access the wraparound supports they need in order to have something better. We have more work to do and we are going to get it done.

Grocery Industry

    Mr. Speaker, pretty words like that do not put a roof over the heads of the thousands of Canadians sleeping out in the streets of our country tonight. Seniors are there too. A retired couple in Holyrood, Newfoundland, with teachers' pensions, were just forced to sell their home. They spent their whole lives working to teach our kids, but they cannot afford to live there anymore.
    Food price gouging is hurting them badly and their pension cannot keep up. Will the Liberals support the NDP's plan to lower food prices by stopping price gouging, to give seniors like them a needed break now?
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad that we have the NDP's support on Bill C-56. As we know, there are competition measures in it that would hold grocery chains to account.
    On the question of housing, the more we build, the more we ensure that costs come down. I have good news for the member. Right across the country, we see residential construction up. In Manitoba, it is up 34%; in Saskatchewan, 25%; in New Brunswick, 23%; in Alberta, 11%; in Newfoundland, 10%; in Quebec, 9%; and in my province of Ontario, 7%.
    It is working. We have a plan. We are going to get it done, as I said.


    Mr. Speaker, rent is up. Interest rates are up. Mortgages are up. Groceries are up. Taxes are up. Debt is up, and Canadians are fed up.
    The Bank of Canada governor and Scotiabank economists are all sounding the alarm bell. The NDP-Liberal government's massive borrowing is making everything more expensive for Canadians.
    With two million people using food banks now, we know the Prime Minister is just not worth the cost. When will he stop the inflationary borrowing that is hurting so many Canadian families?
    Mr. Speaker, what is up? Let me tell members what it is up. Jobs are up. Foreign direct investment is up. Homebuilding is up. Support for Canadian families is up. Women's labour market participation is up.
    Let me tell members what is down. Inflation is down. Food prices are down. Unemployment is at a historic low. The cost of child care is down. Canada has the lowest deficit and net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
    Conservatives want to cut and move to austerity while we continue to invest in Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, housing starts are actually down in Canada, so I do not know what fiction the member is listening to. Perhaps it is from the Minister of Finance, who thinks the dream of home ownership has never been so good in this country.
    The NDP-Liberal government will spend more on interest on the debt next year than on health care, so my question is simple. When will the Prime Minister stop abusing the national credit card, cancel his $20 billion in extra inflationary spending and borrowing, balance the budget and bring down interest rates so that Canadians can afford to live in this country?
    Mr. Speaker, I recognize that Conservatives want to try to claim that we are fiscally irresponsible. What I say is irresponsible is downplaying our economy when we are faring better than any G7 country in the world. What is irresponsible is voting against the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement and abandoning Ukrainians in their time of need. What is irresponsible is calling an incident at the border a “terrorist attack” without having the facts.
    Do members know what that shows? That shows a lack of judgment. It shows risky and reckless behaviour. That is all I have to say.


    Mr. Speaker, after eight long years of the Liberal government, Canadians by the millions are depending today on food banks. However, on Tuesday, the NDP-Liberal government released its mini-budget, adding another $20 billion in inflationary spending.
    The Prime Minister is not worth the cost. When will the government cut the line of credit so that Canadians can afford to heat, eat and keep a roof over their heads?
    Mr. Speaker, while our government has stayed steadfast in our commitment to support Canadians with affordability challenges, evidenced by budget 2023 and now the fall economic statement, we have seen the Conservatives this week flip-flop multiple times and showcase their risky and reckless behaviour and judgment. They say they are committed to supporting Ukraine but then they abandon them in their time of need. We have also seen Conservatives stand up and oppose the affordability act, yet last night they all stood up and voted for it.
    Why do they not come clean and let Canadians know where they stand?
    Mr. Speaker, the member should know that Conservatives were the ones to successfully negotiate the current Canada-Ukraine trade agreement. A common-sense Conservative government would modernize the existing agreement without the expensive Liberal carbon tax. Ukraine does not need this woke agenda.
    The Prime Minister has added more debt than the previous 22 prime ministers combined. When will he put the chequebook away?
    Mr. Speaker, we hear more and more that the leader of the Conservative Party is just not worth the risk. The bottom line is that the Conservatives might have supported the free trade agreement with Canada and Ukraine years ago, but just the other day, every one of them, with the leader of the Conservative Party leading the pack, voted against the Canada-Ukraine trade agreement.
    There is no way they can get away from that fact. That is the reality. You have betrayed Ukraine and it is shameful the way you have conducted yourselves in the last couple of days.
    I would like to remind all members that comments are to be brought through the Chair.


    The hon. member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis.
    Mr. Speaker, over the past eight years, this Prime Minister has added billions of dollars to the debt, more than the other 22 prime ministers combined. Let that sink in for a moment. Next year, he will spend more on servicing his debt than he has on health care transfers to the provinces. Clearly, this Prime Minister is not worth the cost.
    Why are the Liberals ignoring our calls to present a plan to return to a balanced budget in order to lower interest rates and lower inflation?


    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative leader has called our plan “disgusting”, yet he is hiding his cuts from Canadians. What would the Conservative leader cut? Would he cut EV factories for Windsor, St. Thomas and Quebec? Would he cut CCUS investment tax credits for projects in Alberta? Would he cut clean hydrogen investment tax credits for projects in Newfoundland?
    Our government is delivering an economic plan that is balanced and fiscally responsible. Conservatives should come clean with Canadians and let us know where they are going to cut.


    Mr. Speaker, there are not enough hours in the day to talk about how wasteful they are. The numbers are undeniable: two million Canadians use food banks every month; a family of four will spend an additional $1,065 on groceries this year; students are sleeping in shelters; and mortgage payments have doubled. The Prime Minister signed off on this mess. He is not worth the cost.
    Does he at least have the humility and decency to admit that the country is in such a deplorable situation because of his inflationary spending?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's question. I even have an idea for her. Christmas is coming. If she is so concerned about affordability, she can give Canadians a gift by voting in favour of Bill C‑56.
    Why? With this bill, we are going to reform competition. This is a reform that has been needed for the past 30 years. We are going to have fewer mergers, more competition and better prices.
    My colleague should convince all of her colleagues to pass this bill as soon as possible to help Canadians before Christmas.


Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, less than a month ago, Québecor announced it was cutting 547 jobs, a third of its staff, but the fact that our television is in crisis does not seem to bother the Minister of Canadian Heritage. There is nothing in the economic statement, not one red cent, for our television and radio.
    The media crisis is a crisis of democracy. Access to information is under threat, especially in the regions. What is really under threat is the advancement of our culture and our sense of belonging. The minister, who sees perfectly well what is going on, is doing nothing.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague on the fact that the media is in crisis.
    That is why we have been there since day one, bringing in new programs to support our news media. We have also modernized the Broadcasting Act. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission—
    Excuse me.
    Could I ask members on both sides to stop having discussions with each other? It is hard to hear the answer from the Speaker's chair, and I cannot imagine that the member for Drummond, who is on the other side of the House, can hear the answer.
    I invite the minister to repeat her answer from the beginning.
    Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, since taking office in 2015, our government has been there to help the entire cultural sector deal with the crisis and the disruption that foreign platforms have brought to the market.
    That is why we modernized the Broadcasting Act, and the CRTC is currently consulting broadcasters, platforms and people in the cultural industry to see how we can better help our television and radio stations deal with today's reality.
    This modernization will pay off in the coming weeks and months. We will continue to work with my colleague on these issues.
    Mr. Speaker, the work started a long time ago. We should be seeing results by now.
    This morning, I sent the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Canadian Heritage a bunch of reactions from people in the cultural sector. They are all livid. They are furious that the economic statement had nothing in it for them. Even the Fédération nationale des communications et de la culture, which is well known to the minister, joined us in criticizing the fact that the economic statement had completely sidelined the electronic media.
    The Bloc Québécois was asking for a $50‑million emergency fund to help out the media while the Minister of Canadian Heritage wraps up negotiations with the web giants. For the federal government, $50 million is nothing, but for our media, it would be huge. Ottawa's reasons for refusing to create an emergency fund are political, not financial.
    Why did the minister choose to turn her back on our news media, especially our electronic media?
    Mr. Speaker, we did study the Bloc Québécois proposal and discuss it with certain stakeholders in the cultural sector.
    Unfortunately, the $50‑million emergency fund that the Bloc was proposing will not solve the problem. What will solve the problem in the long term is modernized legislation, which we delivered. The enhanced labour tax credit program, which we modified in the fall economic statement, will also help our newsrooms.
    We will continue to look at all the solutions. However, one thing everyone in the cultural sector knows is that the Conservatives would have done nothing. They also know that our government has taken action since coming to power in 2015.



    Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal coalition's economic update is out. Prices are up, rent is up, debt is up, taxes are up and time is up for this costly coalition. Billions more in tax dollars will be spent, and Canadians will still be struggling. The Prime Minister is just not worth the cost.
    Will the government adopt our common-sense plan to balance the budget or step aside and let a Conservative government clean up its mess?
    Mr. Speaker, it has actually been humorous to watch this week as Conservatives twist and flail like pretzels, turning themselves into things and trying to make people believe they are there for workers. Let us review what they have been doing.
    Currently, they are filibustering the sustainable jobs act at the natural resources committee, a bill that gives workers a seat at the table in the clean economy. It represents 400,000 jobs before 2030.
    They are opposing landmark legislation our government tabled to ban replacement workers, which is good for workers and enables them to sit at the bargaining table.
    Not only do Conservatives have no credibility when it comes to standing up for workers and jobs, but they also have no vision for the future of our economy.


Carbon Pricing

    I think the only people who still believe these talking points are the Liberals.
    Mr. Speaker, senators appointed by the Prime Minister shut down debate on a common-sense bill to axe the carbon tax for farmers. The NDP-Liberal coalition is blocking important tax carve-outs on grain drying and barn heating. Its actions, driven by failed policies, directly harm Canadian producers and increase food costs.
    Will the government finally support hard-working farmers over their own political agenda and give them a tax break?
    Mr. Speaker, the House has already pronounced itself on this particular bill, but I will talk about support for farmers.
    Why did the leader of the official opposition cut $200 million when he was at the cabinet table to support farmers for business risk management?
    The leader of the official opposition is not worth the risk. He wants to balance the budget on the backs of farmers. On this side of the House, we will always stand up for farmers.
    Mr. Speaker, that response will do nothing to shorten food bank lineups.
    After eight years, the Prime Minister is simply not worth the cost. Lineups at food banks have never been so long. People are hurting bad, and the NDP-Liberal government still plans to quadruple its carbon tax on gas, groceries and home heat.
    Bill C-234 would lower taxes for farmers who produce our food. This would lower the cost of groceries. It is just common sense.
    Will the Prime Minister tell his appointed senators to put people first and pass Bill C-234 so Canadians can afford to eat?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that putting a price on pollution is what enables us to reduce emissions by the equivalent of removing 11 million vehicles from our roads. In Canada right now, there are 26 million vehicles on our roads. We can imagine, if we added 11 million vehicles, the pollution that we would see in our cities and the level of asthma that our kids would have to go through. This is not happening, because we have put a plan in place to help fight pollution, to help fight climate change and to support Canadians in the process.
    Mr. Speaker, after eight years, just as they wanted, the NDP-Liberal-Bloc's carbon tax hikes the cost of heating, cooling and fuel, and so it hikes the price of food. The PM showed this when he paused it for some but not for 97% of Canadians.
    Common-sense Conservatives will axe the tax for all for good; we know that it is not worth the cost, and so do Canadians. However, will Liberal senators stop blocking the Conservative bill, Bill C-234, to cut the tax on farm fuels so farmers can afford to feed Canadians and Canadians can afford to eat?
    Mr. Speaker, I think facts matter in this conversation. According to the Governor of the Bank of Canada, putting a price on pollution has contributed 0.15% to inflation, and not 15%, as the Conservatives are saying.
    Economists agree across the country that our pollution pricing system puts more money back into eight out of 10 households in Canada. If we take that away, we will take money away from Canadians, which is no surprise coming from the Conservative Party. They are simply not there for Canadians, and they are not worth the risk.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, it has been reported that Russia is getting made-in-Canada land mine detonators through Kyrgyzstan. This would mean that Russia is using Canadian-made detonators in Ukraine. This is outrageous.
     Canada used to be a leader in demining efforts, and we should be doing everything we can to help Ukraine demine. Instead, because of weak arms and sanctions enforcement, Canada may actually be inadvertently arming Russia. Can the minister confirm these reports and explain why Canada is even exporting land mine detonators at all?
    Mr. Speaker, we will look into what the hon. member has brought to our attention and report back.


    Mr. Speaker, people in Nanaimo—Ladysmith are struggling to find an affordable place to call home. All the while, the Liberals delay needed help. They have even put off housing funding in the fall economic statement until 2025, but this is not shocking, since the Liberals and Conservatives have spent years putting people on the back burner so their rich friends can get richer off of housing.
    People need homes now, not in two years. Will the Liberals immediately release the promised funding to finally build affordable homes?


    Mr. Speaker, as a result of measures introduced by the current government, two million people are now living in homes, which have been built, repaired or subsidized through the programs introduced. That work continues. In fact, we saw this week, through the fall economic statement, that there are various other supports being introduced: providing low-interest loans for builders, taking a very close look at the work municipalities are doing on short-term rentals and freeing up short-term rentals to make them into long-term homes for individuals and families.
    We have more work to do, and we are going to do it in collaboration with parties that actually want to help.
    Mr. Speaker, across Canada, Canadians are struggling with the cost of housing. Unlike the Conservative leader's plan, we are making the investments necessary to get Canada building again, and it is working.
    Statistics Canada has reported that investment in multi-unit home construction is up over 8%, with all provinces reporting increases. However, we are not stopping there. The fall economic statement is bringing more solutions to make sure that we are building homes and building them faster.
    Can the parliamentary secretary for housing, infrastructure and communities tell Canadians what new housing measures we are putting forward through the fall economic statement?
    Mr. Speaker, the member has served his country and his community since 2004, and this caucus and this chamber are better for it. He continues to advocate for measures, as does this caucus. What is the result? In the fall economic statement, we saw, as I just mentioned, real action to deal with short-term rentals. The result will be up to 30,000 short-term rentals turned into long-term homes for Canadians, which we are working with municipalities on, as well as low-interest loans for builders. All these measures make a difference.
    On the Conservative side, we see nothing. We see no tangible measures. They want to put a tax, in fact, on the construction of middle-class homes.

Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is spending billions of taxpayer dollars on foreign workers to fill jobs at a manufacturing plant in Ontario. He is not worth the cost, and his NDP-Liberal government cannot keep its stories straight. The minister from Edmonton says it is just going to be one. This minister here said it is going to be a few. The hiring firm says it is going to be 900. The Windsor Police Service says it is 1,600 workers from overseas to fill this plant in southern Ontario. Will the Liberals release the contract, so Canadians can find out how many workers from overseas $15 billion buys?
    Mr. Speaker, instead of talking the Canadian economy down, the Conservatives should celebrate that someone is investing $3.4 billion of their money to build a plant in Windsor.
    Let me say what an expert says about the Conservatives. Here is what Brendan Sweeney of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing had to say about them: “I think those making the noise are hypocritical.... What they’re saying is erroneous and factually incorrect. They don’t have the faintest knowledge of the industry”.
    That is what experts are saying about the Conservatives. We are going to continue to fight for Canadian workers.
    Mr. Speaker, I guess it is a question of whom Canadians want to believe: the NDP-Liberal cover-up coalition or the Windsor Police Service. The Windsor police say 1,600 replacement workers are coming from overseas to work at this plant in southern Ontario.
     It is 15 billion taxpayer dollars to fund workers from foreign soil. After eight years, it is clear that the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister is simply not worth the cost. Therefore, will the minister put his disinformation and distraction aside and finally release the contracts, so Canadians can get the truth about how many replacement workers Canadians get for $15 billion?
    Mr. Speaker, I know Canadians. They are watching this morning. One thing they know is not to believe the Conservatives, because this week, they have seen what they are able to do when it comes to misinformation and disinformation.
    Let me bring some facts to this story. The company is going to invest $3.4 billion of its money to build one of the largest battery plants in Canada. The CEO is saying that they are going to have 2,500 Canadian workers at the plant and up to 2,300 workers to build the plant. We are going to continue to fight for Canadian workers, fight for industry and fight for Windsor.


    Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal government is spending billions of dollars on taxpayer-funded foreign replacement workers to build a battery factory in Windsor. The Liberal minister from Edmonton said there was only one foreign replacement worker. The Liberal minister of industry said there will be a fairly small number. Now, a spokesperson for the company itself says at least 900, and the Windsor Police Service said 1,600. Since the NDP-Liberals cannot get their story straight, will they release the contract to show Canadians how many taxpayer-funded foreign replacement workers will be replacing Canadian workers?
    Mr. Speaker, I will take no lessons from the Conservatives. It might be Friday morning, but Canadians know something: The Conservatives have done nothing for Windsor, they have done nothing for the auto industry and they have done nothing for workers.
    If it were not for us, the auto industry would not be thriving. Not only have we landed a Stellantis plant in this country, but we also now have Volkswagen. We now have Northvolt. We have Ford and GM. While the Conservatives talk down our country, we are going to continue to fight to get investments in this place.
    Mr. Speaker, it is anything to avoid answering the question. After eight years, can the Liberals finally be clear and transparent with Canadians just once? We know that this Prime Minister is not worth the cost, and this subsidy to a private business will cost every Canadian household $1,000. Will the NDP-Liberal government release the contracts, or is it going to continue to keep the details of this deal secret in terms of how it is subsidizing a private company's jobs and paying for foreign replacement workers?
    Mr. Speaker, I am so happy that my colleague, for whom I have enormous respect, keeps asking me questions. It allows me on a Friday morning to inform Canadians, because Canadians are watching and are wondering what is going on with the other side. They have seen the Conservatives go way down this week after voting against a free trade agreement with Ukraine. Now the Conservatives would like Canadians to believe that, when a company invests $3.4 billion of its own money, it is a subsidy.
    Canadians must be watching at home and saying, “What is going on with the Conservatives?” However, on this side, Canadians know that we will keep fighting for them.


Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, aerospace workers are urging the Liberals to put out a call for tenders to replace the CP-140 Aurora aircraft.
    The machinists' union published an open letter this morning. It denounces Ottawa's plan to offer a $9‑billion sole-source contract to Boeing, completely sidelining Quebec's expertise. The letter says: “Canada is missing an opportunity to generate significant local economic benefits and is jeopardizing...a strategic, wealth-creating industry”.
    Will Ottawa finally issue a call for tenders so Quebec can bid?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member. We need to replace the CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft. However, we need to replace them with something that will serve the operational capability of the armed forces. No decision has been made yet.
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals cannot give $9 billion to an American giant without even giving Quebec expertise a chance. They cannot give $9 billion to Boeing, knowing that it tried to crush Quebec's aerospace industry in 2016 with illegal punitive duties. The Liberals even had to make up a “Boeing clause” to be included in other calls for tenders so our money would not go to companies that try to harm us.
    How can they now talk about offering Boeing a sole-source contract while preventing Quebeckers from bidding?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear today. No decision has been made.
    What we need to focus on is the needs of the armed forces. Once again, I will repeat before the House, no decision has been made. Our collaboration continues. We have to meet the needs of our Canadian Armed Forces to help us keep our country safe.



    Mr. Speaker, this week, the NDP-Liberal government blocked a Conservative motion to have a whistle-blower testify at the ethics committee about the billion-dollar green slush fund scandal.
    After eight years under the Prime Minister, there has been scandal after scandal. It is easy to see that the Prime Minister is not worth the cost. Facing an Auditor General's investigation and an Ethics Commissioner's investigation, the CEO and the Liberals' hand-picked board chair resigned in disgrace.
    Now the government is blocking a whistle-blower from testifying. What is it trying to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, from the moment we heard an allegation, I had the minister order an investigation to make sure we could get to the bottom of this. Not only that, but I also suspended the fund to make sure there would be good governance before we restore the funding of the organization.
    The CEO of the organization has resigned. I have accepted the resignation of the chair of the board. We have appointed an independent law firm so whistle-blowers can go to it and tell their story to make sure we get to the bottom this, restore governance and restore funding to Canadian companies.
    Mr. Speaker, that is not the way it happened. It was the Conservatives who called for the investigation at committee. It was the Conservatives who got the Auditor General and the Ethics Commissioner to start an investigation.
    Now, we want a whistle-blower to come to committee and talk about who got rich, and they are being silenced by the NDP-Liberal government.
    What is the government hiding?
    Mr. Speaker, give me a break. I know it is Friday morning and the members are going on. It is the time of joy and the weekend is coming, but for God's sake, are they really pretending that the Conservatives would have done anything? Canadians are watching. One thing they know is that once I received an allegation, I demanded the investigation. The Conservatives, who were asleep at the switch, pretend they would have done something, but Canadians know better.
    We will get to the bottom of this. We will restore governance, and we will make sure we can fund Canadian companies.
    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General and the Ethics Commissioner are investigating the Liberals' hand-picked CEO and the chair of the billion-dollar green slush fund.
    This is a new scandal, a big scandal, and the NDP-Liberal cover-up coalition is trying to hide the truth from Canadians again by blocking the testimony of a whistle-blower at the ethics committee.
    What is the NDP-Liberal cover-up coalition trying to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, it seems that the Conservatives forget facts when it suits their story. Maybe some on their bench would remember that it was a Conservative government that had already appointed the chair of the organization in a previous role.
    What matters is what we said to Canadians. We said we were going to get to the bottom of this, investigate the allegation and restore governance, and then we will be able to fund Canadian companies.
    The Conservatives should stop making up stories and stick to the facts.


Families, Children and Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, we know that, during the pandemic, Canadians received support from community and non-profit organizations. Now, those organizations are having trouble generating revenue and dealing with rising costs and growing demand for services. They are even having trouble retaining staff and volunteers.
    Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development tell us what she is doing to improve this situation and help these organizations?
    Nearly 5,500 organizations across the country have received funding through the community services recovery fund. In the member for Pontiac's riding, that means that organizations like the Coopérative de solidarité and the Centre communautaire de Wakefield La Pêche can continue to run safe and sustainable community spaces for arts, culture and recreation that welcome and inspire people of all ages.
    That also means that organizations like Société Alzheimer Outaouais can continue to work to support families in Pontiac who are affected by a neurocognitive disorder. These local groups are making a real difference.



Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Hamas brutally raped, murdered and kidnapped Israeli women and desecrated their bodies, and has used Palestinian women as human shields, yet many international women's rights groups, like UN Women, are silent. Shame on them. These groups' refusals to denounce Hamas's violence against women is normalizing anti-Semitic violence around the world. It has to stop.
    Will the government join me today in harshly denouncing UN Women's silence and publicly demand, on the eve of tomorrow's day, that it end it?
    Mr. Speaker, we condemn Hamas, a terrorist organization. We condemn its actions against women and other civilians.
    Today, we actually got good news from the region. The first hostages have been released under the agreement that was signed, and aid will imminently be flowing into the region.
    We continue to call for the protection of Palestinian and Israeli civilians. We call for Canadian and foreign national hostages to be released, for foreign nationals to leave and for all the hostages to be released.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' least-restrictive-conditions prison reforms have led to a skyrocketing number of dangerous offenders being transferred out of maximum security. Last year, it was a shocking 505 transfers, and one of them was notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo. The review into Bernardo's transfer cited the Liberals' least-restrictive policy multiple times.
    The Liberals are responsible for this failure. Why are they doubling down instead of committing to fixing this terrible law?
    Mr. Speaker, I think it is important, when talking about issues as serious as a notorious killer like Mr. Bernardo, that we stick to the facts and not mislead Canadians. We saw earlier this week what happens when we talk about a sensitive, concerning matter and use language that does not respect the facts of the situation.
    My hon. friend knows very well that decisions around the classification of inmate security are properly in the hands of Correctional Service officials. Those officials are accountable for the decisions, and those decisions are guided by what keeps Canadians safe.

Correctional Service of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, also on the subject of corrections, on a recent visit to Joyceville Institution, I was informed that personnel at Correctional Service Canada had been trying to introduce red seal apprenticeship programs so inmates can re-enter the workforce with real job training.
    After eight years of a Liberal government and of the Liberals' running Correctional Service, how many federal inmates are enrolled in red seal programs? Which programs are they enrolled in, and how many are enrolled per program? How many have graduated, and from which trades? Finally, is there a plan to assist inmates to finish their respective programs upon release?
    Mr. Speaker, I will be very happy to get those exact details and provide them to the member.
     I can tell him that, as the member of Parliament for Beauséjour, when I visited the medium-security prison Dorchester Penitentiary, I met inmates and CORCAN staff who work on exactly those programs. I share his view that if we can give inmates the skills and ensure that, for example, they complete their high school education or a trade, it will make them much more likely to successfully reintegrate into society when they finish their sentence. That keeps Canadians safe as well.

Innovation, Science and Industry

    Mr. Speaker, climate change costs the Canadian economy and Canadians' pocketbooks every day. If there is no plan for the environment, there is no plan for the economy.
    Despite Conservatives' denying climate change, the government understands the need to act now with an economic plan that supports the middle class and creates good jobs, all while protecting the planet.
    Could the parliamentary secretary to the minister of industry please share with Canadians more about the government's work in building a clean economy?
    Canadian workers need an economic plan that will deliver good jobs that last for generations as the global economy shifts toward net zero. We have already seen over 90 clean-growth projects choose Canada in the last three years alone, valued at over $40 billion. More and more companies are choosing Canada thanks to our plan and our workers. The fall economic statement lays out clear timelines for the delivery and implementation of a clean economy investment tax credit regime, all with labour requirements to ensure good jobs for Canadians.



    Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, the UN voted to create a historic global tax convention, but instead of voting with most of the world for tax fairness, Canada voted no. The government chose to stand with billionaire corporations committed to hiding their money. If the Liberals really wanted to take on corporate greed and tax evasion during a period of record profits, they should have supported this resolution. Canadians struggling with sky-high grocery prices and rent deserve an explanation.
    Why are Liberals opposing the world's efforts for tax fairness and choosing to stand with billionaires instead of with hard-working Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the member asked about tax fairness. Since 2015, the government has invested no less than a billion dollars to ensure that the CRA has the resources it needs, resources that the opposite side, the Conservatives, cut when they were in office. Tax fairness is a principle we take very seriously.
    I would just point to the outcome of the Panama papers, for example, where, as a result of investments we have made, we have seen investigations on tax avoidance and tax evasion go up. Convictions are up as well. We will continue this good work.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, access to clean drinking water is a human right.
    Could the Minister of Indigenous Services inform the House as to when the government will provide appropriate funding and technical resources to train and certify first nations people to become water infrastructure operators in their home communities? Can the minister also indicate whether indigenous operators will be paid at a level that eliminates the wage gap with operators in non-indigenous communities? It is 2023. First nations should be empowered with the skills and the jobs to provide clean water. The government clearly has not been able to do it.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a concern that I deeply share as well. Everyone deserves access to clean and safe drinking water. We are fully committed to lifting all of our remaining long-term drinking water advisories in first nations communities. In partnership with communities, we have already lifted 143 long-term advisories since 2015. There is now clean water in more than 96% of first nations communities, and we are committed to finishing the work of the remaining 4%. For each of these remaining advisories, there is a project team and a fully funded plan in place.
    We will not stop until we get the job done and make clean water a reality for every community.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]


Committees of the House

National Defence 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, two reports of the Standing Committee on National Defence: the sixth report, entitled “Canadian Armed Forces Health Care and Transition Services”, and the seventh report, entitled “Public Procurement of the CP-140 Aurora Replacement”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to each of these two reports.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petition e-4603 today, signed by 868 petitioners. It calls attention to the grave human rights abuses happening in Eritrea and the surveillance by the Eritrean regime of pro-democracy Eritrean newcomers in Canada.
    The petition calls for an investigation into the targeting of Eritrean Canadians, asks us to deny visas to those who promote hate or violence, asks for protection for Eritrean newcomers, asks us to ensure settlement agencies use impartial interpreters and asks the Canadian government to impose Magnitsky sanctions on Eritrean regime officials.


Climate Change  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.
    The first is the 17th petition I have presented on this particular topic. It is signed by Canadians across the country who are calling to the government's attention the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's most recent report warning that rising temperatures over the next two decades will bring widespread devastation. In particular in Canada, we will continue to see flooding, wildfires and extreme temperatures.
    The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to move forward immediately with bold emissions caps for the oil and gas sector that are comprehensive in scope and realistic in achieving the necessary targets that Canada has set to reduce emissions by 2030.

Food Security 

    Mr. Speaker, I am starting to receive several petitions, from various different school communities in the Kingston area, bringing to the government's attention the incredible need now more than ever for healthy food programs within schools.
    The petitioners bring to the government's attention that Canada is the only G7 country without a national school food program. They also draw to the government's attention that new data from Statistics Canada indicates that one in four children in Canada lives in a food insecure household.
    The petitioners, among them members of the Loyola community learning centre's open book campus community and the residents of the Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington region, call upon the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to prioritize funding for a national school food program through budget 2024 for implementation in schools by the fall of 2024.
    I thank members of the Loyola community learning centre for bringing this matter to my attention so I could deliver it to the House.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]


Canada Labour Code

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board Regulations, 2012, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I trade barbs back and forth, in good nature, with the member for Winnipeg North all the time. I will point out to him, though, that in his speech he talked about how replacement workers were a cause of the 1919 strike. The Canadian Labour Congress website has no mention of replacement workers. What it does state is that a big cause of the strike was inflation.
    I am wondering if the member could tell the House how much the Liberal-induced inflation right now is causing the need for the legislation he is promoting.
    Mr. Speaker, I suspect that if the member were to peruse Hansard to see exactly what I said, I said “in good part” replacement workers were the reason for the 1919 strike, especially the conclusion of it. A number of factors led to it, and in good part, it was about employers and a sense of exploitation at a time when there was inflation.
    The member tries to compare it to today. It is important that we put things into proper perspective in the sense that, around the world, Canada's inflation rate is doing quite well in comparison. Having said that, we are moving in the right direction. In June 2022, it was over 8%. Now we are getting closer to 3%. We are moving in the right direction and we will continue to have Canadians' backs.
    The other thing I would emphasize, based on the question the member asked, is in regard to Canada's middle class. Canada's middle class has been supported, whether through this legislation or middle-class tax breaks from the very beginning. People in the middle class know that this government has their backs in all ways.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to ask my colleague some questions instead of listening to him talk for another four minutes. I am just keeping our colleague's joke going.
    I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on the 18 months it is going to take before the bill comes into force after receiving royal assent. That is not the usual practice. Normally a bill comes into force upon receiving royal assent. Given that we have been waiting years for anti-scab legislation and there are people who are suffering because there is no such measure in the Canada Labour Code, I would like him to explain why we should wait 18 months. I see no justification for more delays.


    Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate the sensitivity of the question. I believe that once we get the bill into committee, there will be a more detailed, fulsome answer to that specific question. I suspect it has a lot to do with the making of the legislation and the people who were engaged in consultations. There may be some time-related issues.
    I would encourage the member to go to the standing committee and put forward that question, or even approach the minister directly.
    Mr. Speaker, when Labour Day comes every year, I am part of the millions of Canadians who really think about what it means and what the hard-fought labour rights represent. How can this legislation further protect the sacred right to strike in this nation?
    Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I believe it is in recognition of the importance of the free collective bargaining system and the importance of the bargaining table.
    At the end of the day, when we think of labour rights, ultimately labour harmony is good for all of us. One of the things I would like to emphasize, as this is my last answer, is for us to think of the social impact that labour has had here in Canada from coast to coast to coast, which has been tremendously positive.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Edmonton Manning.
    I stand before the House today to discuss Bill C-58, a piece of legislation concerning the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board regulations. This bill, brought forth by the Minister of Labour and Seniors, is a clear product of the NDP-Liberal coalition's agenda. While it is important to look at the contents of the bill, it is also very much of equal importance to look at how the NDP-Liberal coalition is hurting workers they claim they are helping.
    In this debate, we must be mindful of the delicate balance between protecting workers' rights and maintaining a healthy, competitive business environment. It is our duty to examine how this bill fits into the larger narrative of the current Liberal government's failed policies, which have wide-reaching effects on the Canadian workforce and the overall economic landscape. As representatives of the Canadian people, we have a responsibility to evaluate this legislation not just in isolation but within the context of its potential impact on our nation's prosperity and the well-being of its citizens.
    In recent years, we have witnessed an escalating trend in labour disputes across Canada, with a staggering total of 269 major work stoppages. They include both lockouts and strikes in just the past two years. This disturbing rise in labour unrest is a direct consequence of the current Liberal government's policies over the last eight years.
    The Prime Minister's inflationary policies have significantly contributed to this turmoil, leaving workers in a dangerous position, struggling just to make ends meet. The harsh reality is that Canadian workers are increasingly finding themselves backed into a corner. The cost of living has skyrocketed, eroding the purchasing power of their wages. Many feel that demanding higher wages is their only remedy to keep pace with the escalating costs.
    This sense of desperation is a clear indication of the government's failure in handling labour relations effectively. The policies enacted have not only failed to alleviate the pressures on Canadian workers but have actively made their lives harder, fuelling discontent and unrest in the workforce.
    This situation calls for urgent attention and a re-evaluation of the government's approach to the inflationary policies that make life more unaffordable. It is crucial that we address the root causes of these issues rather than merely applying temporary fixes. The government must take responsibility for the current state of labour relations in Canada and work toward sustainable solutions that truly support and uplift the working class.
    In continuing to address the current state of affairs under the NDP-Liberal government, it is important to highlight how these policies are intensifying the hardships faced by Canadian workers. A prime example is the carbon tax, which has resulted in a significant increase in costs across the board. This tax, far from being a simple environmental measure, has had a domino effect, affecting everything from transportation to the cost of basic needs. The burden of these increased expenses is disproportionately put on the working class, who find their paycheques stretched thinner every day.
    Moreover, the housing crisis under the NDP-Liberal government has reached a critical point. Housing costs have not just risen; they have doubled. The situation is made worse by mortgage payments, which are now 150% higher than they were when Harper was prime minister. This financial strain is pushing Canadian families to the brink, with over 50% living within $200 of insolvency.
    The reality is that the Liberals, now hand in hand with the NDP, have long abandoned the workers they claim to represent. Their policies, rather than offering relief, have contributed to the reality where everyday Canadians struggle to afford the basic costs of living. This abandonment is not just a failure of economic policy but a betrayal of the trust that workers place in their government to safeguard their interests and well-being.


    The implications of these policies are far-reaching and deeply concerning. They paint a picture of a government disconnected from the realities faced by its citizens, especially the working class.
    The recent revelation concerning the Stellantis battery plant is a striking example of the government's mismanagement and lack of transparency. It has come to light that 1,600 foreign replacement workers will be employed at the facility, a project funded by Canadian taxpayers to the tune of $15 billion. Even yesterday, we learned that up to 900 foreign replacement workers will help build the NextStar battery plant in Windsor. The fundamental question is why these jobs, created with Canadian money, are not being offered to Canadian workers.
    This situation is unacceptable. It is a glaring injustice that Canadian taxpayers are financing projects that fail to prioritize their employment. The Prime Minister's office has been silent on the details of the massive corporate subsidies granted to electric vehicle battery plants. The recent revelations by the Parliamentary Budget Officer have only intensified concerns, indicating that the actual costs and implications are far more substantial than initially presented by the Prime Minister.
     Moreover, Canadian workers and taxpayers deserve full transparency. Is the Prime Minister planning to use taxpayer-funded foreign replacement workers at other facilities, such as the Volkswagen and Northvolt plants? This lack of clarity should be especially concerning for my Quebec colleagues, who might see jobs in their region being outsourced to foreign workers, potentially at the Northvolt plant located in the Bloc leader’s own riding.
    If the Prime Minister truly cared about Canadian workers, as the bill suggests, he would disclose the contracts signed with Stellantis, Volkswagen and Northvolt. Canadians have a right to know the financial obligations they are under and the specific job provisions guaranteed for Canadian workers. The Prime Minister should have already ensured that Canadian tax dollars would be funding jobs for Canadian workers, not the employment of foreign workers.
    Common-sense Conservatives are committed to ensuring that Canadian tax dollars are utilized justly and that the jobs they help create are indeed available for Canadians. The current situation is a stark reminder of the need for responsible governance that would place Canadian interests and workers at the forefront. We will continue to demand transparency and accountability from the government to ensure that Canadian workers are not sidelined in their own country.
    Bill C-58 looks at dealing with the worsening labour relations across Canada, but the real issue stems from the NDP-Liberal government, which has made life unaffordable for the average Canadian worker. The reality faced by Canadian workers today is one of escalating costs, reduced purchasing power and missed employment opportunities, despite significant taxpayer investments. The introduction of foreign replacement workers in key taxpayer-funded projects such as the Stellantis battery plant symbolizes the government's disconnect from the needs and rights of Canadian labour.
     The Conservative Party stands firmly with Canadian workers. We advocate for transparency, accountability and, above all, ensuring that Canadians are first in line for jobs created with their hard-earned tax dollars. It is time for the government to stop neglecting these vital principles. Canadian workers deserve a government that champions their cause, protects their interests and utilizes taxpayer funds to actually benefit Canadians. That is the commitment of the Conservative Party, and we will relentlessly pursue this goal in the interests of all Canadians.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his speech. A lot of his speech was talking about temporary foreign workers.
    Many places across Canada, such as my riding of Sydney—Victoria, rely on temporary foreign workers where there are labour shortages. The Victoria Co-operative brings in many temporary foreign workers to work in the fish plants in the northern Cape Breton area because they cannot get people to travel there.
    In Canada, we believe that diversity is strength. I am wondering if the member opposite is a little concerned about the narrative that the Conservatives continue to use that really focuses on foreign workers. Does the member not feel that the narrative is creating unnecessary hate and division between Canadians at a time when we are trying to bring Canadians together?
    Mr. Speaker, this is quite rich coming from a Liberal member who is saying, “Don't worry, foreign replacement workers are acceptable”, after we just spent $15 billion to build a plant. That is unacceptable. We have the resources here in Canada. We have the people with the skill sets to do this.
    Yes, temporary foreign workers are vital to Canadian jobs, but at the same time, this should not be the go-to when we are building a brand new plant that the government is bragging will help Canadians boost and build the economy. It is shameful for them to be bringing in replacement workers to build plants.
    Mr. Speaker, for me, this is a really important bill, and one that the NDP really fought hard for. We have been fighting for anti-scab legislation for an extremely long time.
    I think about the times that I have stood on picket lines. If one is from a rural and remote community, sometimes it takes a while to get to that picket line, because people live in very isolated places. I remember having a conversation with one gentleman in particular who talked about the fact that, when they were on strike, the company took away their health benefits. He and his spouse had adopted a couple of kids and were planning to adopt a third, they were in the process, but they could not because of the strike. The bill before us would fundamentally give those folks, those workers, more power in the negotiating process. I wonder if the member could speak to why that is important.
    Mr. Speaker, we are not saying that Canadians do not have the right to strike. We are saying that every person needs to have a right to live. One of the problems with the government is that it is not giving that ability to Canadians to make a financial benefit to themselves. With all the policies that are happening right now, taxes continuing to rise and the carbon tax taking away from their income is the bigger problem. With the cost of food and everything else going up, this is why the Liberals are bringing in this type of legislation.
    It is not about trying to protect workers. It is about trying to protect Canadians to live and have a quality of life. This is why the bill has some issues with it, which need to be dealt with.


    Mr. Speaker, it seems as though, with every bill we talk about in this place, it is just a matter of time before Conservative MPs find a way to bring up the carbon tax again.
    In light of that, the fact is, for the rebates Canadians receive, and that workers receive, eight out of 10 give more back than Canadians pay, unless they are among the 20% of the wealthiest across the country. Is the member for Yellowhead aware of the rebates they get back? Is he not concerned about the oil and gas companies that are gouging Canadians at the pumps every single day?
    Mr. Speaker, I love that they believe these talking points. I am surprised the Green member is not in a Liberal seat because those are their straight talking points, and they are not true.
     Canadians are paying a lot more for their groceries, fuel and everything else. They are far from getting back more than they contribute. The reason that statistic is out there is that they do not include all the costs. They take a lot away, such as fuel, transportation and public transportation. They are not included in the final details, and that is why they can claim Canadians are getting more back, which is not true. That is a false statement from the government.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-58, was unnecessary. As someone who values the work of labour unions, a person who appreciates the historic impact they have had on improving the rights and working conditions of Canadian workers, I feel it is sad that we have to consider whether replacement workers should be allowed in federally regulated workplaces.
    The use of replacement workers comes about when either a unionized workforce has gone on strike or an employer has locked out its workers. In either case, there are no real winners, so what would bring workers or employers to such a position? Why would they feel it necessary to take such drastic measures if nobody wins in such a situation? The answer is simple. If it seems that Canada has seen more labour strife than at any other time in recent history, the reason is simple. The policies of the Liberal government have made it difficult for Canadian workers to make ends meet.
    Workers expect government to look out for their best interests. We have a government that apparently does not understand what is good for people. We see record inflation, food prices spiralling out of control and the dream of home ownership dying for millions of Canadians. Those who are lucky enough to find a place to rent have discovered that rents have also skyrocketed. What is the Liberals' response to these economic problems? Its response includes inflationary deficits and higher taxes, government spending that seems out of control, the highest national debt in the history of Canada and no ideas of how to fix the mess they have created. When the carbon tax is increasing the cost of everything for everyone, housing costs have doubled, mortgage costs are 150% higher than they were before the Liberal government took office and half of Canadians say that they are $200 or less from going broke, it is no wonder workers feel abandoned by the government.
    The Conservative Party supports the rights of workers to organize democratically, bargain collectively and peacefully withdraw and withhold their services from an employer. We also believe the government should work with unions and employers in areas of federal jurisdiction to develop dispute settlement mechanisms and encourage their use to avoid or minimize disruption to services for Canadians. Bill C-58 will apply to about one million workers in federally regulated industries, many of which are sectors that are critical to national life. For this reason alone, it is important to study this legislation at committee to hear from witnesses, both those who are in favour and those who are against the legislation, to allow members to better understand the implications of this bill.
    I am sure the Liberals will tell me that such a study is not really necessary, that they know what they are doing and that this legislation should be passed with a minimum of scrutiny. After all, the Liberals tell us they know what is best for the country, but anyone who questions their dogma, they view as a heretic. In the church that is the Liberal Party, I would be a heretic. I have seen too many Liberal ministers telling Canadians that they know what is best for them when they obviously do not. The government would like us to believe that the Liberals are infallible, but all too often the truth is that they do not have a clue what they are doing. That may be true also with this bill.
    I would think that unions would view Bill C-58 as correcting a tilted playing field that has been in favour of employers. They expect that, once this act is passed, the strikes and lockouts will be shorter. In the same way, I would think employers would see Bill C-58 as favouring unions, with the potential of prolonged strikes and lockouts. These are conflicting viewpoints, and whichever one we might adopt may depend on our view of the current balance of power between unions and employers.


    Our job in the House is to find a way to craft legislation that is fair to both workers and employers, which is another reason to ensure that we consider the bill carefully so we do not have to return to the subject to fix mistakes made by a rushed process. When the minister spoke in the House just a couple of days ago, he said that consideration of the bill would not be rushed and that it is one of the most significant changes to federal collective bargaining that Canada has ever seen. I am glad he sees the need for a long and hard examination of the proposed legislation. We all want more deals to be made at the bargaining table. Strikes and lockouts are harmful to workers, employers and the Canadian economy as a whole. The Liberals seem to think that the bill would result in fewer labour disruptions. It will be interesting to hear what witnesses say when Bill C-58 is examined at committee.
    One of the areas that may be contentious is allowing employers to hire replacement workers as long as they deal solely with the situation that presents or could reasonably be expected to present an imminent or serious threat. Those threats could be to the life, health or safety of any person; destruction of or serious damage to the employer's property or premises; or serious environmental damage affecting the employer's property or premises. Allowing replacement workers in such situations seems reasonable. The problem I foresee is one of determining exactly what the situations are when such hiring would be allowed. I would expect unions would quite naturally attempt to limit the use of replacement workers, while employers would try to stretch the definition as much as possible, but maybe I am wrong. Maybe employers and unions alike would be reasonable in all situations and there would be a clear understanding of what represents a safety threat, property damage or environmental damage.
    More likely, the Canada Industrial Relations Board would find itself much busier if this legislation is passed, as it tries to work out the details of the legislation in practice as opposed to in theory. No one, not workers, not employers and not the public, likes labour disruptions. In an ideal world, they would not happen. Of course, in an ideal world, workers would not have to worry about having to make a choice between paying the rent and paying for groceries. In an ideal world, Canadians would not be wondering why their government was offering tax exemptions on one form of home heating fuel and not on the others that contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions. In an ideal world, food bank use would be decreasing instead of increasing, and Canadians would not have to worry whether they can afford the ever-increasing cost of food.
    However, under the current government, we do not live in an ideal world. We live in a world where the Liberal carbon tax keeps going up, increasing the cost of everything. Canadian workers and employers alike are feeling squeezed by a government that has shown by its fiscal policies that it does not care about either of them. Unions and businesses may have differing views about Bill C-58, but they do have one thing in common: They all know that it is time for the Liberal government to go.


    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member started his speech by saying that a bill to ban replacement workers was unnecessary. That really speaks to the Conservatives' view on labour rights and their track record in the past under the Harper government. The bill before us is a bill that would allow workers to stand up and be able to receive powerful paycheques.
    Conservatives say they stand up for workers, but when it comes time to vote, why are they always on the other side of workers?
    Mr. Speaker, I did not say it was unnecessary; I said I wish it were unnecessary. That is what I said, and I hope the Liberal side will listen better so we can have better conversations.
    Mr. Speaker, one possible unintended consequence of the legislation that I have not heard brought up yet is that it could possibly incentivize employers to make increased investment in automation, artificial intelligence and other things to replace workers. Yes, the legislation proposes to ban replacement workers in certain circumstances, but if it would be incentivizing employers to invest in technology that would end jobs, how would it be a net benefit to workers in the end?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very good point. That is why the bill needs to be studied well and studied at committee so we can understand and examine it. Giving the bill proper scrutiny would make sure that it is perfect.
    However, we know that the government is always hiding things under its belt. There is something that could be dangerous enough for the government to rush the bill through without allowing the proper consultation and allowing witnesses to go through it so we would know exactly what the bill is all about.


    Mr. Speaker, as I listened to my colleague's speech, I got the impression that he was saying that his party would agree to anti-scab legislation as long as there are enough exceptions so that this law, if applied, would not restrict employers too much. He says there should be exceptions so that, as soon as a strike causes the slightest inconvenience, the employer can use replacement workers. Generally speaking, an employer does not give a hoot about the consequences for employees when locking them out.
    I want to know from the outset whether my colleague agrees that, when there is a strike, it is somewhat normal for the employer to suffer at least some consequences.


    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. member that under the Chrétien government, there was something called partnership between an employee and employer. An employer's not caring about an employee would go against productivity and having a good result for the business. I hope that such a situation does not ever exist in Canada, but the member is a legislator. She is an MP and I am an MP. Every MP of the House would want to have the most perfect piece of legislation coming through. That is not something we take lightly, especially with a bill that is as important and critical as this one.
     In my speech, I advocated having enough time to study the bill carefully to make sure it would do the job. That is our intention and that is why we are here.


    Mr. Speaker, I am a little curious and would like to get more information from the member. Specifically, while he was speaking, I was reflecting about the fact that the Conservative leader stands frequently and says that he is there for workers. Now, the member is saying that he wants to see deals happening at the bargaining table. At the same time, I am not hearing a clear answer around what his stance is on the bill. We know that workers need to have the capacity to be at the bargaining table when they are forced to do so, to fight for fair and respectful working conditions. Replacement workers take away that capacity for workers to fight for what is right, for them to have a dignified and respectful working environment.
    Can the member please clarify? Will he and his Conservative colleagues be voting in favour of the bill, or will they do what they have always done and not be there for workers?
    Mr. Speaker, I reject the notion underlying the member's question, which is that we are against workers. That is absolutely unacceptable. Besides that, we are asking for better examination and for the bill to be carefully done.
     By the way, we have not yet heard from the unions or the workers. We have heard only from the NDP. If it thinks it is the only party to represent unions and workers in this place, then we are in bad shape here.
    The answer is that we need the bill to be studied properly and carefully. That is what we are asking for.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour today to rise to speak to Bill C-58, a very important piece of legislation. It was a commitment made by both the Liberals and the NDP in the last election, something we have been able to work together on in order to bring forward legislation to the House so we could provide a better environment for workers to be able to negotiate new contracts or re-negotiate existing contracts with employers. That is what the bill seeks to do.
    We know that when there are individuals who want to go on strike, they are usually doing it for a fairly important reason. They are sometimes doing it because their wages are not reflecting the reality of what they believe they should be paid. They are doing it because they are worried about the conditions in which they are working. They are doing it because they are worried about job security and what their employers are providing for them.
    We know that when they do make the decision to go on strike, which does and, quite frankly, should happen from time to time in order to properly demonstrate the need and the requirement to change working conditions, it has to be taken very seriously.
    The employer's having the opportunity to bring in scab labour, replacement workers who are there while negotiating, significantly takes away from the employer's ability to negotiate in good faith. Think about that for a second. What if someone were on the management side of a firm and had to negotiate, and the only thing being held against them was the ability of people to strike? What if, at the same time, they had the opportunity to bring people in to replace the workers while management was in the process of negotiating with the striking employees? Management would not face the same realities that those who are on strike would.
    When a union decides to go on strike, extreme hardships can be felt by the employees. They are not paid anymore. Sometimes they are given small stipends from their union, but it is nowhere near what they would be making normally. They are taking on hardships in order to stand up for their rights. If an employer has the opportunity to negotiate while having replacement or scab labour in place, they are going to be negotiating from a much more comfortable position in terms of their ability to continue to function. While employees have the hardships imposed upon them through either a strike or a lockout, in the same vein, we have to make sure that the negotiating position is balanced. That is done by ensuring that employers have to feel the same kind of pain, for lack of a better expression. They have to be faced with the same reality that if they do not get to a deal quickly, they cannot continue to function in their business in the manufacturing sector or whatever it might be. As a result, they have to be motivated.
    We know that the best deals are those that are made at the bargaining table. We know that when we can encourage, through various different pieces of legislation, both sides to sit down and work out a deal, it will produce the best result for everybody. It can be a messy process, and we have seen that time and time again through the history of this country, in terms of organized labour. It can be messy when people are striking. Just yesterday, I was driving through Quebec and saw a number of people protesting in a strike that was ongoing there.
    This is part of the process. It is about bringing to the attention of the employer that there is a significant need for the employee that is not being addressed by the employer. That is why the best deals are those that are made at the table by bringing the two parties together to be able to do that. That is why the legislation before us would specifically prohibit employers from using the following workers from doing the work of striking or locked out employees: first, new hires, such as employees and managers hired after notice to bargain collectively is given; and, second, contractors, regardless of when they were hired.


    The bill also seeks to prohibit employers from using the services of employees in a bargaining unit when that bargaining unit is in a full strike or lockout where all employees in the unit are expected to stop working. I think this is really important, because a union's strength is in its unity and membership. Unions operate in a democratic fashion. They elect their leadership, which is there to represent them; it is critically important to ensure that some who might not have voted in favour are still subject to the leadership that they have democratically elected. I can see how it might be tempting otherwise for individuals to do this, but again, at the end of the day, we know that the best deals are those that are made at the table and not by the influences that come from using outside forms of labour in the meantime. Of course, there are some exceptions to this. I will not get into detail, but they relate primarily to health and safety and environmental impacts on the property of the employer.
     However, this bill also seeks to ensure that, if unions believe that an employer is violating a ban, they may complain to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. This is an independent administrative tribunal whose job is to resolve workplace disputes and certain appeals that arise under the Criminal Code, among other acts. The board can investigate, and if it agrees with the complaint, order the employer to stop the violation. It is also really important that a hefty fine comes along with this to further discourage the employer from moving toward this kind of action. It sets out a maximum fine of $100,000 per day if the employer is prosecuted and convicted of violating the prohibition. Members can see that the intent of the bill is really to put as many measures in place to prevent these activities of employing scab or replacement workers for the purposes of, once again, ensuring that people get to the bargaining table and having meaningful discussions there.
    One other thing I want to address, and perhaps I pre-empt a question from my NDP colleagues, is that NDP members have been steadfast in their support for the bill. However, they have said that they forced the government to do this; I do not quite look at it like that. We did run on this. It is on page 22 of our last election platform, but it may have been slightly different. We may have worked on this in a way with the NDP to make the bill even stronger, which is great. That is what this entire process is about. Our Westminster parliamentary system is based on the idea that, if one party does not form a majority, we work with other political parties to develop strategies and policies that we can bring forward on behalf of the Canadian people, in our case anyhow. That is what we are seeing.
    Therefore, I think that the NDP should rightfully take credit for some of this, as they have done good work on it. I also think that the government has done extremely good work on it, and the Liberal Party has been committed to it as well. I hear that call from the NDP, but I respectfully disagree that it was forced. Nobody forced anybody to do anything. This was one of the terms of that agreement that we came to in order to work together in a productive manner.
    To that end, I am very glad that there is another political party in this room made up of adults, when it comes to doing meaningful things for the people we represent. I would say two, one of which is the Bloc. It is not always just about saying no, because the objective is to be an obstructionist at any cost. The objective is genuine in this agreement. I quite often see a genuine objective from the Bloc as well to advance better policy, ideas and legislation for the people we individually represent.
    However, I am very concerned, once again, about the lack of clarity on this issue from my colleagues on the other side of the House, the Conservatives. They have given a couple of speeches on this. They were asked a direct question just moments ago by my NDP colleague about whether they will support the bill. They skate around it, they do not answer, they give vague statements, they are not concrete on it and they will not even say that they will support the bill to get to committee, which is just an initial step.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!


    Mr. Mark Gerretsen: They are heckling me now.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives will not even say that they will support it just to get it to committee where they want to do this work. We heard the member for Edmonton Manning say that just moments ago. They want to have a thorough discussion and thorough examination; a lot of that happens at committee.
    Will they support getting it to committee? I raise this because it is an important observation. We have seen this happen a couple times now with the Conservatives, especially since September, where they are very non-committal on an issue. When they do get up and speak about it, like the bill we were debating yesterday, they do not even mention the issue at hand. Thankfully, they are at least talking about workers in this context. What do they do next? They vote against it.
    Where did we see that recently? With the Canada-Ukraine free trade agreement. The Conservatives never committed, in all the speeches that they gave in this House, to what their position was. Then one by one, they stood up and voted against Ukraine and showed exactly who they were. They are not going to get away with that. The Canadian people are going to know how they voted and the Canadian people do know.
    In the news cycle yesterday, there was a lot of talk about the Leader of the Opposition, his right-wing politics and where he is going, where he is taking this party, by even some of the most Conservative pundits out there who write opinion pieces on the position of the Conservative Party. There is this fake notion of a price on pollution, when it clearly states in the agreement that no particular country's environmental policies can impact another country. They look for these red herrings to be able to do this.
    We did not let them get away with that. If the Conservatives' plan again this time is to just skate around the issue of workers, stand up and say that they support workers, that they are there with workers until the end and that they will always support workers, but then turn around and vote for it when it is time to vote, we are going to report that back to Canadians. I am sure my colleagues in the NDP are going to help us do that.
    Canadians deserve to know where the Conservatives stand. When they get up in this House and talk about an issue, they need to be able to say they support it or they do not support it. They cannot any longer get away with the rhetoric we hear from across the way and the approach they have been taking.
    I am very happy to tell members that I will be supporting this. I want to see this go to committee. I know there have already been a couple issues brought up, I think, in good faith, that can be discussed at committee. The committee can look into the issue to make even better legislation. The idea that we are going to be able to just stand up and talk about how amazing Conservatives have been for workers when the record does not come anywhere near to reflecting that—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Mark Gerretsen: I do not know why they would clap for that.
    Mr. Speaker, their record is not anywhere near reflective of that. The reality is that the vast majority of Canadians know that Conservatives do not support workers. They support big corporations and that has always been their MO. They come from the position of trickle-down economics from the Ronald Reagan era. As long as they make things better for the most wealthy, as long as they make things better for the corporations and as long as they strip more taxes from corporations, they swear it is going to trickle down to the workers. Workers are going to be impacted by that and they will be so much better off as a result.
    We know that Reagan economics failed. We know that it has only, over the last several decades, contributed to a wider gap between the haves and the have-nots. That is why we need meaningful legislation, like we have before us today, that will force the employer to come to the bargaining table under the same conditions as the employee, which is the condition of fighting for their job, for job security, for fair wages and for benefits from their employer. Just like we expect an employee to do that, we need to expect the employer is going to come with the same restrictions and the same hardships associated to them if they do not negotiate in good faith.
    I am glad to see this legislation has come forward. I am really happy we are able to work with our colleagues in the NDP to make this a reality. I am going to cut my comments off there because I think that will give more time to one of my NDP colleagues later down the road.


    Mr. Speaker, first let us clarify the record on the Liberals' record with Ukraine. The Liberals sent a turbine to Russia to help Putin fund his war machine. They invited a Nazi to the House of Commons when the President of Ukraine was here. They voted against our motion to give Ukraine the weapons it was asking for, and we just found out today that the Liberals are allowing Canada to sell land-mine detonators to Russia.
    With respect to the subject of replacement workers, in 2016, legislation of a similar nature was brought and the Liberals voted against it. Why is there a flip-flop? Is it because the Liberals see that they are plummeting in the polls with the union workers, or is it to try to bolster a shaky relationship with their NDP coalition partners?
    Mr. Speaker, is it because it was on page 22 of our election platform?
    The member brought up Ukraine. I am so glad that she did. She took the bait very well. The member wants to talk about Ukraine. The reality is that she is trying to somehow justify Conservative support for Ukraine. I will go back and check her Twitter feed to see if she has said anything about Zelenskyy being here in September because I know her boss did not. He did not once mention his presence here. As a matter of fact, the member for Calgary Nose Hill had to go back to quote a tweet on his visit from 2022 as a way to say, “Thanks for coming to visit us in Parliament.”
    The reality is that the member is critical of our position on Ukraine. President Zelenskyy asked her to vote for the free trade agreement. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress asked her to vote for the free trade agreement. Two million Canadians are depending on that member and the Conservatives to stand up for them and for the democratic principles that we promote throughout the world and she failed Ukraine. She turned her back on Ukraine. That is a decision she made earlier this week and something she has to live with.


    Mr. Speaker, I want to say from the outset that the Bloc Québécois is truly very much in favour of the bill. The House will recall that the Bloc Québécois has introduced 11 such bills, with the first attempt dating back to 1990. It was the dean of the House who introduced that first bill.
    This morning, my colleague from Saint-Jean asked the parliamentary secretary a question. She wanted to know why there will be an 18‑month waiting period before the bill comes into force once it receives royal assent. The parliamentary secretary told her that we could ask that question in committee.
    However, why this change when usually a bill comes into force as soon as there is royal assent? Since this is a Liberal bill, I wonder if my colleague can give me the reason for this delay.



    Mr. Speaker, I was unaware of the fact that it was the dean of the House, a sitting member of the Bloc Québécois, who first introduced this legislation decades ago, but I am not surprised. Once again we are seeing how Quebec has shown leadership with respect to issues like this. Quebec has had anti-scab legislation in place for decades now. Quebec continually does this, to its benefit and to its credit. When it comes to environmental legislation, or getting an equitable workplace or getting more women into the workplace, Quebec once again leads the path. Therefore, I am not surprised to hear once again that this is an initiative for which Quebec has been fighting for a long time. We can learn a lot from the lessons that we have seen from Quebec with respect to issues like this.
    With respect to the member's question about the timing, I am not exactly sure why 18 months was a requirement, but I know if we get this to committee we can have the questions asked there and perhaps, if necessary, amend it.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for talking so much about the Liberal platform commitment on anti-scab legislation. What is important to note, but I did not hear the member say, is that the commitment was to legislate against scabs in the case of a lockout. Therefore, it was not actually about protecting the right to strike, which is fundamental to workers' being able to bring home more powerful paycheques; it was about slapping employers on the wrist if they lock workers out.
     However, we know that if we really want to take anti-scab legislation seriously and we want to defend the right to collective bargaining, workers themselves should be able to go out on strike to fight for better wages and enjoy that protection. Therefore, I am very glad that the NDP was able to bring that and push the government to do that.
    I also heard the member talk about trickle-down economics. I agree with his analysis. Does that mean he would be willing to raise the corporate tax rate by a percentage point to triple the government's investment in affordable housing initiatives and make them happen now instead of two years from now?
    Mr. Speaker, in my speech I said that our proposal may have been slightly different from that of the NDP. The result is better and I will be the first to say that. Yes, we ran on something slightly different, but the NDP said this was a better way to do it and we came to an agreement that is going to be for the betterment of all Canadians. That is the difference between parties that can work together and being confronted with an opposition whose purpose is to be completely obstructionary in its approach.
    To his question about raising taxes, the member has raised this before. What I am very concerned about, which I can certainly see eye to eye on with the NDP because I know the NDP has raised it, is corporations, the grocery giants in particular. We need to be doing more to control the greedflation that exists. I do not disagree, personally, that it exists. Is it as easy as raising taxes by x amount on every single corporation in the country? I think he would be the first to admit that a lot of small businesses are corporations in this country as well, so maybe that is not the right way to do it.
    Mr. Speaker, when we came to this place in 2015, the hon. member probably knew about the horrific track record of the Conservative Party with the legislation it passed under the Harper government. I was wondering if he could enlighten this House on what we saw when the Conservatives were last in power.
    Mr. Speaker, I come from a riding that has a lot of public sector employees and a lot of people who are impacted directly or indirectly by the public sector. There were so many public sector employees back in 2014-15 in my riding who took extreme issue with what the Conservatives had done. They had even lost the support of corrections guards. That is where we were. I was meeting with corrections employees and their unions to discuss what Stephen Harper had done to them.
    The reality is that no person, in my opinion, with a memory of the Harper years and how he treated organized labour could stand and honestly say that Stephen Harper was on the side of organized labour. It just did not exist.


    Mr. Speaker, it is kind of humorous when I hear the hon. member talk about workers, especially since he mentioned two million Canadians. He is right: Two million Canadians are going to the food bank in one single month.
    The member of the Liberal Party claims that he stands up for workers. However, recently we learned that the government plans to staff the Stellantis battery plant with 1,600 taxpayer-funded foreign replacement workers rather than Canadian workers. Can the member tell me why Canadian taxpayers are spending $15 billion to create jobs that are not even going to Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, when I referenced two million people, I was talking about the two million Ukrainians living in the country who feel as though the Conservative Party turned its back on them. That is what I was talking about when I referred to two million people.
    To the member's question, does she know why we have a temporary foreign worker program with South Korea? It is because Stephen Harper brought it in in this country back in 2014. It was Stephen Harper who enabled the legislation to make that happen.
    Notwithstanding that, her data and information are incorrect. She is citing them as though they are fact and they are not. As we heard the minister talk about today, this is contributing to misinformation. He quoted various individuals who were saying it.
    The reality is that 2,300 Canadian jobs will be made to build the plant and then 2,500 good-paying jobs will be for running the plant. With a foreign company coming to build a new plant in Canada, will there need to be some foreign expertise to show Canadians how to build it? That might be the reality. We might see some foreign workers as a result of that, but they are not permanent—


    I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons like this, but he has far exceeded his speaking time.


Official Report

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
     On September 21, during the debate at second reading on Bill S-205, an act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to another act on interim release and domestic violence recognizance orders, I read a quote on the record from Martine Jeanson, founder of the Maison des guerrières. Unfortunately, I mistakenly attributed the quote to Sarah Niman, legal counsel and assistant manager of legal services for the Native Women's Association of Canada.
     The quote from Sarah Niman should have read:
     Bill S-205 seeks to provide violence victims something of a voice. This bill places the onus on the criminal justice system to check in with victims, consider their safety through the proceedings, and produce outcomes that consider their safety. Bill S-205 does not create a response specifically tailored to Indigenous women, but it does create a framework for them to be seen and heard in a system that otherwise does not.
    I deeply apologize for this error. I want the record to reflect accurately what was said and by whom. Therefore, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That the Debates and any House multimedia recording of Thursday, September 21, 2023, be amended by deleting the words “Sarah Niman, from the Native Women's Association of Canada” and substituting the following: “Martine Jeanson, founder of the Maison des guerrières”.


    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion.
    All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)


    Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a point of order. I believe that, earlier today, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities misled the House during question period.
    I asked a question as to why Canada is acting as a voice for billionaires on the world stage in fighting against an international system for tax fairness at the UN that would make the wealthy pay their fair share.
     Instead of explaining Canada's shameful position, the member chose to mislead the House by saying that his government is taking issues with tax fairness seriously and pointed to the government's work in response to the Panama papers, claiming, “Convictions are up.... We will continue this good work.”
    Earlier this year, I filed an Order Paper question asking exactly what Canada's response to the Panama papers was. The result is not a whole lot. Convictions are certainly not up, as the parliamentary secretary indicated they were.
    The Order Paper response states:
    Panama Papers:
    As of March 31, 2022, there have been seven referrals to the CRA's Criminal Investigations Program (CIP) related to the Panama Papers.
    Of the seven referred cases, five proceeded to criminal investigations.
    Of the five cases that proceeded to criminal investigations, three were discontinued, while two are still ongoing.
    I understand that the government is very comfortable paying lip service to Canadians, but this is just straight-up dishonesty. My preference would be for the government to prosecute billionaire tax cheats, including based on what is in the Panama papers. However, I guess we will just have to wait to ask the parliamentary secretary to withdraw his remarks.



    I thank the hon. member.
    I can assure her that the Chair will review her point of order and return to the House with a ruling if necessary.


    Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent to time travel and see the clock at 1:30 p.m.


    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]


National Strategy on Flood and Drought Forecasting Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I believe that a key role of a legislator, especially when society is faced with a growing multiplicity of challenges, many of which require recourse to science to solve, is to act as a conduit, in essence a conduit for bringing the science that resides in our universities and other research entities, including government departments, into the realm of actionable public policy. This is what Bill C-317 seeks to do.
    Before I delve into the bill, I would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. John Pomeroy, director of the global water futures programme at the University of Saskatchewan, and Dr. Alain Pietroniro, Schulich chair in sustainable water systems in a changing climate at the University of Calgary, both of whom have patiently provided me with a basic understanding of flood and drought forecasting to allow me to argue today, hopefully convincingly, for the creation of a national flood and drought forecasting strategy.
    Fresh water is one of those complex policy issues that call for urgent political and policy attention. First, let me be clear, Bill C-317 is not about encroaching on provincial jurisdiction. It is not a Trojan horse, no more than the Canada Water Agency, which will be a platform for co-operation in better managing our water resources, would be a Trojan horse.
    It would be a political conceit, not to mention just plain foolish, to think the federal government could govern fresh water, a provincial resource, in a top-down centralized fashion. That said, we need all hands on deck if we are to properly manage and protect this vital resource, which Canada has been blessed to possess in such great abundance in its rivers and lakes, in its ice coverage and beneath our feet in groundwater.
    I implore members not to oppose this bill for reasons of politics or ideology. Water, especially when we speak of flooding, is a far too important of a non-partisan policy issue. Bill C-317, if adopted, would help better protect communities across Canada, including in Quebec, from the devastating impacts and costs of flooding. My own riding of Lac-Saint-Louis in Quebec, as well as ridings adjacent to it and further upstream, have been impacted by costly flood events as recently as 2017 and 2019. I have seen first-hand the damage and heartbreak that flooding can cause.



    My bill calls for the creation of a national flood and drought forecasting strategy. I want to emphasize the word “national” here, as opposed to “federal”, which is a crucial distinction.
    Water is far too vast and complex an issue for the federal government to be able to take on alone and take sole responsibility for. This would be true even if, by some miracle, the Constitution gave the federal government complete jurisdiction over water, which is obviously not the case. Centralization is simply not the way to go here.
    The federal government readily acknowledges this fact in its words and actions. The federal government's equivalency agreement with Quebec on the regulation of waste water effluent is a good example of this desire to collaborate, even when it comes to a powers under the Fisheries Act, which falls squarely under federal jurisdiction.
    That being said, when we talk about water or other environmental issues, gaining knowledge, advancing research and sharing best practices to reach better solutions are international undertakings that require a kind of collaboration that transcends borders. Nothing in this bill challenges respect for jurisdictions, including provincial jurisdiction over water. If the European Union countries can collaborate on a common water policy, the European water policy, the regions of Canada should be able to do the same.
    The condition of our water resources is increasingly linked to climate change. In fact, water is the canary in the coal mine, an early warning system. I would like to quote one of the most respected experts on water policy, Jim Bruce.


    He said, “Like a fish that does not notice the shark until it feels its sharp bite, humans will first feel the effects of climate change through water.” Put another way, to quote water policy guru Bob Sandford from his book Flood Forecast: Climate Risk and Resiliency in Canada, water is a child of climate. He writes, “If we follow what is happening to our water, it will tell us what is happening to our climate.” In other words, we experience climate change through water.
    At this time, I would like to say that, while Bill C-317 deals with both drought and flood forecasting, I will be concentrating on flooding in this debate.
    According to the United Nations, flooding is the most common natural hazard globally. Due to damage associated with floods, it has been known as the deadliest natural disaster after earthquake and tsunami.
    To quote Zahmatkesh et al. from an article entitled “An overview of river flood forecasting procedures in Canadian watersheds”, published in the Canadian Water Resources Journal, “In Canada, floods are known as the most common, widely distributed, and the most costly natural disasters which threaten lives, properties, the economy, infrastructure, and environment.”
    Needless to say, flood disasters hurt the economy. According to the Library of Parliament, an Insurance Bureau of Canada paper states that large natural disasters have a negative impact on economic conditions. A typical disaster lowers economic growth by about one percentage point and GDP by about 2%.
    The damage from flooding is not only physical, it is emotional and psychological as well. To quote the report of the 1998 symposium on the Saguenay flood:
    Some authors have observed an increase in depressive and somatic symptoms [and] emotional distress and anxiety [pursuant to flood disasters]. Some flood victims...[have even] exhibited psychological disorders 14 years after the event, including phobias, panic disorders and agoraphobia.
    I have seen the damage. I have toured flooded areas of my riding with Jim Beis, the mayor of the Montreal city borough Pierrefonds-Roxboro, who has been tackling local flood risk head-on for years, through robust annual springtime flood preparations. He has worked tirelessly to buttress the community's resilience to floods, often not waiting on the city administration downtown to act to protect his constituents, many of whom are also my constituents.
    Allow me to give a brief overview of major flooding events in recent Canadian history. In 1996, according to the report from the 1998 symposium on the Saguenay flood:
    More than 16,000 were evacuated and 7,000 families witnessed...damage to their homes or neighbourhoods [in the flood].
    Twenty percent of the disaster victims suffered post-traumatic stress and the flood “generated psychological after-effects that were measurable three months later.”



    Apparently, these floods drove home the reality of climate change for Quebec's Premier at the time, Lucien Bouchard, and its destructive potential.


    In 2017, the Ottawa-Montreal region experienced extreme flooding and then again in 2019. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the 2019 spring flood in Quebec cost $127 million in insured damages.
    This brings me to 2013 in Alberta where, to again quote Robert Sandford in his book Flood Forecast: Climate Risk and Resiliency in Canada:
    Three storm cells combined and then lingered for three days in the same region and unleashed 250 to 270 millimetres of rain in the upper regions, producing some nine million cubic metres of rainfall, suddenly turning mountain creeks into raging torrents. The spring snow melt was late that year and the snowpack was above normal for late June, something that was not recognized in the province's flood prediction system or model. The province's flood prediction system utterly failed and flood warnings were not issued in many places until after evacuation orders were issued. However, the inadequacy and failure of Alberta Environment's flood forecasting system should not be attributed to the skill or knowledge of individual forecasters but to systemic problems related to staffing cuts, reliance on outdated forecasting tools and inadequate field monitoring.
    The flood caused $5 billion in damages.
    In British Columbia, in 2021, parts of the southern region of the province recorded between an estimated 1-in-50 and 1-in-100-year rainfall events, triggered by an atmospheric river, delivering about one month's precipitation in a matter of hours. The total flood damages totalled $9 billion.
    Needless to say, damages from flooding are expected to grow exponentially with climate change. According to a report by GHD consultants entitled “Aquanomics: the economics of water risk and future resiliency”, “droughts, floods and storms could wipe $5.6 trillion USD from the GDP of key economies, with some more affected than others.”
    In Canada, “droughts, floods and storms could result in a total loss of $108 billion to Canadian GDP between 2022 and 2050, an average of 0.2% of GDP per annum.” Output losses in Canada in manufacturing and distribution alone between 2022 and 2050 could reach a total of $50 billion. One can only imagine the impact on inflation of increasing, widening flooding events.
    Flood forecasting is a complex endeavour with two key components: meteorological forecasts and hydrological modelling to translate weather forecasts into stream flow and water level predictions. Accurate flood forecasts also require knowledge of watershed characteristics, which influence water flows. It is easy to see that accurate flood forecasting relies on large quantities of data from multiple sources and the ability to create models that are both broad and granular, into which to feed the data. As flood forecasts cover wider and wider areas and take account of more and more factors in an uncertain climate context, greater and greater processing power is required to crunch the data and produce a range of probabilistic scenarios, which means an increasing reliance on supercomputers.
    According to scientists, “Canada is the only G7 country, and perhaps the only developed country, without a national flood forecasting system”. Flood forecasting in Canada is largely considered a provincial responsibility, carried out by many of the 13 provincial and territorial governments, various municipalities across the country and some 99 of the Ontario conservation authorities. However, there are disadvantages with this approach. The main one is the lack of integration with weather forecasts as well as inconsistent forecasting capacity across provinces. This fragmented approach can lead to the slow adoption of new technology and advanced methods, and to an absence of technical coordination with agencies like the Meteorological Service of Canada.
    Most jurisdictions in Canada have no modern flood forecast modelling capability. Even the most sophisticated systems use dated software and are limited to major river forecasting. Fragmentation can also be problematic in dealing with transboundary basins when individual systems in each province and territory, and between provinces and territories and the U.S., are not necessarily compatible. Several provinces and territories are still struggling with their forecasting needs because of limited human resources or skills. However, there are advantages in the Canadian decentralized system. It allows provinces to be laboratories to test unique and innovative approaches that, once demonstrated to be successful, can be adopted by other provinces. The benefit of this fragmented approach in flood forecasting is that it allows for developing bespoke flood forecasting systems that are specifically tailored to work at regional scales and to tackle unique local hydrological challenges.
    I have much more to say on the technical level about what the bill would accomplish, and I expect to be able to touch on those aspects in future speeches in the House and also in committee, if the bill gets there.
    I would like to end by saying that the benefit of a national forecasting system is that its models are of higher quality, producing more accurate large-scale forecasts with longer timelines than is possible with local forecast models only. The ability to connect national models with local forecasting efforts is crucial for accurate flood forecasting and also for long-term capacity building. National modellers gain experience on a regular basis from floods in different parts of the country. A national modeller could very well predict a flood almost every year. Local modellers, on the other hand, might not predict a flood in their whole career. Working with national modellers facilitates knowledge transfer that strengthens the overall system.
    The bill is trying to accomplish a formal structure of collaboration among the stakeholders in this area, with the scientists and the forecasters, which is something I believe they all want. At the moment, they do meet informally to share best practices, but there is a need for a more permanent structure that could bring them together to better predict floods for the benefit of all Canadians.


     Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis is a champion for all things water in the House and in this country. I would like to thank him for mentioning my old friend, Bob Sandford, who I worked with in the Rockies back in the early 1970s and has gone on to be a global spokesman for water issues on behalf of Canada.
    It is hard not to agree with the bill before us because the issues are so dire and the need is so great, but it makes me wonder why the government has not been doing this over the last eight years. What we really need for flood protection in Canada, on top of the prediction, is to have communities ready for floods. It is one thing to say a flood is coming in the next two days, but it is another thing to have a community ready. We need dedicated federal funding to help communities reshape their defences for floods ahead of time, and we do not have that.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure Bob would be very pleased to hear the hon. member mention his long-standing friendship with him.
    The federal government has been investing in climate adaptation infrastructure, though one can always invest more, and it has recently released its climate adaptation strategy, which is a framework. I would be in favour of as much funding as possible to strengthen the resiliency of communities.
    With regard to why the government has not been doing this already, in defence of Environment and Climate Change Canada, it is working on the issue. I feel personally that it is not going far enough and I introduced the bill to push the issue forward a little more.



    Mr. Speaker, it is my turn to commend my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis. He is always so committed to protecting water, freshwater in particular, and the environment as a whole. In his speech, he clearly demonstrated the links between the environment and health. He explained that they were intimately linked. He also talked about the economic costs of floods and droughts. We could also add in the economic costs of all health problems. It all adds up.
    On the subject of Bill C‑317, we already have the Canadian Drought Monitor and Environment Canada's weather services, for example. Do we need another piece of legislation to improve coordination?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is absolutely right. There are various pieces of legislation.
    The Canadian Meteorological Centre is located off Highway 40 at Sources Boulevard on the West Island. Yes, there are programs in place, but they need to be better coordinated for greater benefit to the country. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that the existing elements are better aligned to increase their effectiveness.


    Mr. Speaker, I too know Bob Sandford. When I was the shadow cabinet member in Manitoba for conservation, environment or rural development, at different times, I might add, I spoke with him quite often with regard to issues of Manitoba being the basin of all the water in western Canada coming into Lake Winnipeg and on out to Hudson Bay. I have read some of Mr. Sandford's books.
     I wonder if my colleague could provide us with his thoughts on how a national strategy would be formed and what type of makeup it would have.
    Mr. Speaker, the point of the bill is to really require a strategy because, as the member knows, private members' bills cannot require the spending of money.
    The idea of a strategy is to create a plan or model for how we can move forward with flood forecasting. I believe the model should be based on the National Hydrological Service as opposed to the Meteorological Service of Canada because the Meteorological Service is a top-down, centralized service that does wonderful work, but the National Hydrological Service is a cost-shared program with the provinces. There is a lot of back and forth and co-operation between the federal government and the provinces and territories, and that is the kind of model that we need, not something that is top-down but that is interactive with the folks who are closest to where the action is taking place.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-317, an act to establish a national strategy respecting flood and drought forecasting. I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis, for introducing this bill. I enjoy working with him on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
    This bill covers some very interesting topics, including advance flood and drought forecasting models, sophisticated integration of spatially detailed hydrological management models and water resource management models, supercomputers with inputs from multiple meteorological forecast models, and on-site observations of rainfall, soil moisture, snowpack, glaciers, lake levels, ice jams and stream flows. There are certainly a lot of state-of-the-art technologies and subjects to consider in Bill C-317.
    Typically, when I debate a bill in Parliament, I often put the bill into one of two categories: good bills that I encourage all MPs to support and bad bills that I encourage all MPs to oppose. After reading Bill C-317, it seems that this bill falls somewhere between those two extremes. Therefore, it would be prudent to support this bill at second reading so it can be further studied at committee.
    Floods have been around since the beginning of time, and property damage caused by flooding has been around for almost as long. Whenever a major flood occurs, once all the people have been safely evacuated and the flood waters recede, the discussion soon turns to the cost of the flood in terms of property damage. Inevitably, this question is asked: Who will pay for the damaged or destroyed property?
    Unfortunately, far too often it is different levels of government that have to step in to provide financial assistance. The federal government's disaster financial assistance arrangements program has spent approximately $8 billion in compensation since the program was established in the 1970s. Furthermore, the frequency and the amounts of future payouts are expected to increase as more and more properties of ever-increasing value continue to be built on lakefronts and riverfronts.
    While I have no doubt that the federal government's disaster financial assistance arrangements program was set up with good intentions, one has to remember that all of the costs of the program are inevitably passed on to taxpayers. I have often wondered why different levels of government have to incur these costs. Why is this not something that is best left to private sector insurance companies?
    I was so curious that I sat down and had this very conversation with representatives form the Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan. It turns out that insurance markets function very well when there is a high level of predictability in which the insurance companies and their policyholders can operate. If insurance companies and their actuaries can predict with a reasonable level of accuracy that in any given year so many houses will be destroyed by lightning strikes, so many more will be destroyed by fires and so many more will be destroyed by some other type of disaster, then insurance companies can develop their policies and set their premiums accordingly.
    Unfortunately, it seems that insurance companies have considerably more difficulty in predicting flooding than they do in predicting other types of disasters, such as fires or lightning strikes. As a result, they simply do not offer flood insurance to many Canadian homeowners. When those homes get damaged or destroyed by floods, government programs such as the disaster financial assistance arrangements program get activated, and it is the taxpayers who are ultimately left paying the bill.
    Clearly, there is room for improvement. There has to be a better way to structure the federal government's policy than to have the disaster financial assistance arrangements program, as well as similar provincial programs, simply dole out billions of dollars to uninsured property owners whenever there is a flood.


     In fact, these sentiments were echoed in the final report of the expert advisory panel on the disaster financial assistance arrangements, which was presented to the Minister of Emergency Preparedness in November of last year. One line in particular from the report’s executive summary describes the path forward very succinctly: “The Panel recommends the Government of Canada develop tools, information and capabilities to support risk-informed decision making by all levels of government, Indigenous communities, the private and not-for-profit sectors, academia and the public at large.” I feel that the term “risk-informed decision making” is very appropriate. If there is a flood plain right beside a river that is likely to overflow, it makes sense that builders be informed of the risk before they build. It makes sense that municipal and provincial governments be informed of the risk before they grant building permits. It makes sense that potential homebuyers be informed of this risk, and the associated insurance premiums, before they buy.
    Perhaps the way forward lies in Bill C-317. If the federal government could step in and play a useful role in providing standardized, accurate flood mapping and flood forecasting information in order to facilitate an orderly marketplace for flood insurance for property owners, this would be a beneficial role for the federal government to play. If the flood information were accurate, reliable and stored in a database that were easily accessible to the public and to insurance companies, then a significant element of uncertainty in the marketplace could be reduced. Many private sector insurance companies would then be more willing to offer insurance policies to Canadian homeowners. When a flood inevitably happens at some point in the future, property owners would no longer fill out government forms to receive compensation; they would simply fill out an insurance claim with the private sector insurance company that sold them their policy.
    This approach would represent a major cost savings for the federal government and for taxpayers. If one considers the cost of establishing and maintaining a standard database for flood mapping and flood forecasting, I think it is very reasonable to believe that the cost would be tiny compared to the billions of dollars of payouts that the federal government has made and will continue to make through the present disaster financial assistance arrangements program. For the vast majority of Canadians, the most valuable asset they will ever own is their home. It makes sense that as many Canadian homeowners as possible should have an insurance policy on their home that includes losses from flooding. With a properly functioning insurance market, perhaps over time, the disaster financial assistance arrangements program could be wound down, and taxpayers would no longer be on the hook whenever there is a flood.
    In conclusion, sometimes the invisible hand of the market needs the helping hand of government. The need for accurate flood mapping and flood forecasting in the marketplace for flood insurance may be one of those times. Again, I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis, for introducing the bill, and I look forward to studying it in more detail at the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.



    Mr. Speaker, I too want to thank my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis for introducing this bill. I also thank him for his environmental convictions and his great patience as chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
    There have been, as we know, a lot of floods in Quebec over the past decades, and the related socio-economic costs have constantly increased, including health costs related to the trauma and mental health issues that the impacted people can develop afterwards. Floods and droughts are natural phenomena that are amplified by climate change. Adapting to the impacts of climate change will require public authorities to rely on science to guide public decision-making. This will involve ensuring access by the public and all stakeholders to relevant data on weather events, including droughts and floods.
    A lot of that work is already being done by public authorities. It remains to be seen how a bill to establish a national strategy respecting the prevention of floods and droughts will improve current processes. However, I will say that the Bloc Québécois will support the bill, because we are not opposed to virtue.
    We now that launching national strategies—gosh, I get so sick of the word “strategy” sometimes—is quite popular within the Liberal and NDP ranks, even though it usually results in the creation of laws, policies or committees that have no real effect beyond adding more bureaucracy and making people feel like they accomplished something.
    By the way, we should take the opportunity to remind this House that Canada is not a national state with a population that represents a single people. As I have said before, words matter. There is no single Canadian nation. Canada is a society consisting of multiple nations, including the Canadian majority, the Quebec nation and the indigenous nations. Always using terminology like “national strategy” and “national policy” is a bit disingenuous. That said, it is well established that a country can flaunt diversity as a cardinal virtue while disregarding the diversity of nations that is at its core. I have a particular country in mind. I do not know if we are all thinking about the same one.
    That being said, our primary concern about Bill C‑317 is its purpose. Why introduce such a bill? With all due respect to its sponsor, we are wondering if the provisions in the bill are liable to improve public action in any way, especially the ability of governments to plan and operate climate change adaptation measures. Indeed, that is what this is about: The phenomena identified in Bill C‑317 are accelerating and increasing and the climate crisis is to blame.
    Again, when we hear the word “strategy” we think of military strategies. However, the dictionary defines it as the art of developing coordinated plans of action; a set of coordinated actions. That is interesting because the Government of Canada is already monitoring droughts through the Canadian Drought Monitor, or the CDM, as I mentioned in my question to my colleague. This tool “uses a variety of federal, provincial, and regional data sources to establish a single drought rating based on a five category system. These ratings are shared through monthly maps that show the extent and intensity of drought across Canada.”
    Given that the Government of Canada already has operational tools within the CDM, how will Bill C‑317 add to that? Its preamble justifies it by stating that “current flood and drought forecasting in Canada is conducted by the provinces without coordination between them and with limited federal technical support.” I would like to emphasize the words “limited federal support”.


    In this context, it would be wise to carefully analyze public actions related to the prevention and predictability of relevant climate events already undertaken by the provinces. Once that has been done, and knowing that technical support is limited, it seems to me that it is time to take action.
    Let us take a look at what exists in Quebec. Quebec's flood protection plan presents sustainable solutions to better protect our living environments.
    Quebec's plan is based on four areas of intervention. The first involves coherent flood mapping at the watershed level in order to study flood risks in Quebec. The second is to respond and provide oversight by ensuring consistent and strict development rules for flood zones, and by establishing rules governing flood protection structures. The third is planning and responding, in other words, planning responses at the watershed level through flood-related land use planning and support for the introduction of flood resilience and adaptation measures. The fourth is to learn and communicate, in other words, to improve flood predictability, support planning, learn about best practices, promote the development and maintenance of flood-related expertise, improve access to information by various segments of the population, and disseminate information on flood-related risks more effectively.
    It is a rather comprehensive plan, and we are proud of ourselves.
    There is also an app called Vigilance. I think that is a good name for it. This app helps Quebeckers to better prepare for flooding by keeping them informed of changes in water levels in each community. The app is a good way for municipal and government stakeholders to maximize the impact of their activities in case of emergency.
    In general, we can say that the Government of Quebec is the one that has the expertise needed to protect its land and people from flooding. What is more, Quebec has an excellent strategy, the Québec Water Strategy, which is the result of serious government reflection that takes into account all past experience.
     The strategy will be implemented through three successive action plans. Taken together, the measures put forward in the first action plan for 2018-2023 represent investments of over $550 million.
    Quebec's strategy is working very well without any intervention from the federal government, which is not required to protect the environment or manage Quebec's natural resources. That being said, it is true that Environment Canada, through its weather service, already makes weather information and official weather warnings available to citizens, organizations, businesses, and provincial and territorial governments. This is really the best way to determine whether or not federal support is required. If it is required, how should that be set up?
    We believe our study of the bill should involve trying to assess the need for coordination and technical support from the federal government. Furthermore, in assessing what is currently being done, how can existing detection and notification processes be improved? Are the technologies really up to date?
    These are things that could be observed without necessarily resorting to a legislative mechanism. We believe that this study must absolutely be conducted in advance.
    Finally, I will conclude by saying that the Bloc Québécois will be voting in favour of the bill introduced by my colleague from Lac-Saint-Louis. If there is truly a need, we have no reason to oppose the federal government's initiative to provide better quality weather information that public authorities will find easier to use. If that information contributes to the process and decision-making by public authorities when the time comes to plan preventive action for extreme weather events, so much the better. That is why we are voting in favour of the bill.



     Mr. Speaker, today we are speaking to Bill C-317, a private member's bill from the member for Lac-Saint-Louis. This bill asks the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, in consultation with the provinces, indigenous governments and municipal governments, to develop a national strategy for flood and drought forecasting. The strategy must assess the need for using new technologies in forecasting, the need for modelling to identify risk areas, the establishment of a national co-operative forecasting system and the preparation of a proposal for the establishment of a national hydrological forecasting service.
    It is really hard to disagree with the premise of this bill. Floods and droughts are becoming more frequent and intense, causing billions of dollars of damage to infrastructure while destroying homes, crops and livelihoods. Home insurance premiums are steadily rising and in many cases homeowners cannot get flood insurance at all. Over 10% of Canadians cannot get flood insurance for their homes. In my riding of South Okanagan—West Kootenay, floods have devastated communities and rural areas.
    In 2018, the town of Grand Forks was inundated by the Kettle and Granby rivers. Five years later, the community is still struggling to deal with the fallout of that event. Families lost their homes, businesses were forced to close and whole neighbourhoods have disappeared.
    In 2021, an atmospheric river event caused catastrophic damage to the communities of Princeton and Merritt, just west of my riding, and caused over $5 billion in reconstruction. Those communities are still trying to recover.
    This year has been literally off the charts for extreme weather around the world. Air temperature records were set on every continent. Ocean temperatures were so high that scientists could scarcely believe the data they were seeing. Ice sheets and glaciers were disappearing before our eyes. Catastrophic wildfires raged across Canada, Europe and around the world. Precipitation patterns have been thrown out the window. Intense rainfall events brought flash floods to major cities around the world.
    I just came back from Ghana and Cameroon in Africa. Everyone there was saying the dry season has failed to materialize. The rain just will not stop.
    We are living the effects of climate change and we must adapt to the consequences of our addiction to fossil fuels, because even if we stopped all our carbon emissions tomorrow, the floods, droughts and fires we are experiencing now will keep happening for centuries to come. It will not get better and we can only hope we will act quickly enough to make sure it does not get significantly worse. It is obvious that we would benefit from better forecasting of these extreme weather events. That is, of course, what this bill seeks to do.
    Now, in Canada, operational flood forecasting is a provincial responsibility but the rising threats and rising costs call for better forecasting that is more coordinated across provincial boundaries. The data that goes into flood forecasting modelling and drought forecasting must come from multiple jurisdictions.
     In my riding, floods mainly result when deep snow packs are met with sudden heat waves or intense rain on snow events, or both. As the rivers rise, we anxiously watch the river gauge levels. While the rivers in my riding do not cross provincial boundaries, they do cross the U.S. border, sometimes multiple times. So when the Kettle River is rising, we watch the gauge at Westbridge, operated by the B.C. government, then the gauge in Ferry County in Washington, operated by the U.S. government, and then another gauge operated by the U.S. government at Laurier.
    A similar thing happens in the Okanagan Valley. During spring freshet, the flow of the Okanagan River is usually highly regulated by a series of small dams at each of the lakes but at that time, the Similkameen River is 10 times larger than the Okanagan, flowing out of the North Cascades at Princeton, crossing the border, and joining the Okanagan River at Oroville, Washington. The massive spring flow of the Similkameen literally swamps the Okanagan River, and even though the Okanagan is regulated by a dam operated by the International Joint Commission in Oroville, that dam is overtopped by the Similkameen flow and water moves upstream into Osoyoos Lake. That is how Osoyoos Lake floods with water coming upstream from Washington state and blocking the outflow of the Okanagan River.


    These are a couple of examples showing why flood forecasting and operational decisions resulting from that forecasting need to be coordinated across all levels government, even international levels. The Red River in Manitoba is another famous example of that.
    I mentioned earlier that snowpack monitoring is a critical part of flood forecasting in Canada, particularly in British Columbia, where mountain snowpacks linger well into the warm spring and summer months. The snowpacks in the B.C. mountains are the deepest in the world. In British Columbia, most snowpack measurement stations are operated by the provincial government, but some are run by agencies managing large hydro dams such as BC Hydro, and companies like Rio Tinto and Metro Vancouver. Again, coordination is important.
     Another reason that coordination is critical is that forecasting and quantifying future precipitation events is notoriously difficult and requires modelling with very large computers. Canada's federal system has resulted in flood forecasting systems being managed separately by every province and territory, as well as some municipalities and conservation authorities. Coordination is minimal, and data collection often does not mesh between jurisdictions. Early warning systems vary as well.
     This means that the ability to forecast flooding varies considerably from province to province, from watershed to watershed. The strategy called for in this bill could be helpful, but it is also important to point out that we are moving in that direction already.
    The flood hazard identification and mapping program run by Natural Resources Canada is providing valuable information for all levels of government outlining exactly what areas are threatened by rising waters.
     Now droughts are a somewhat different problem, operating on a longer time scale than floods, but they are still devastating to Canadians, especially Canadian farmers in dry landscapes who rely on water for their crops. The Okanagan Valley is one of the best examples of that. As dry summers come earlier and last longer, the demands for irrigation water grow. Those demands begin to come up against increasing demands for domestic water needs.
     The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre in Summerland has scientists dedicated to developing better projections for future drought conditions. Droughts are also impacting water flows in the Columbia River system. Those flows are controlled by the Columbia River Treaty, and under the present treaty, Canada is obliged to provide water to the United States for power production.
     Recent summers have seen Canadian reservoirs drawn down so much that local residents are having difficulty accessing recreational opportunities while American boaters enjoy full pools above their dams. Water temperatures in the Columbia River are now often lethal to salmon migrating upriver to the Okanagan River in late summer, negating much of the positive impacts that salmon restoration programs have made. This calls for international co-operation, and in this case, a renegotiated Columbia River Treaty that recognizes the impacts of climate change on the availability and quality of our precious water resources.
    While flood and drought forecasting is critical, we should not forget another aspect of extreme weather brought to us by a changing climate, and that is catastrophic wildfire. Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops is setting up an institute for wildfire science, adaptation and resiliency. There, Dr. Mike Flannigan is perfecting predictive modelling that could tell us where wildfires would occur in the coming weeks.
     This would allow wildfire crews to deploy to regions in anticipation of significant fire behaviour. That way we can be on the ground fighting fires when they are small, before they turn into monsters that destroy millions of hectares of forests and are only extinguished by winter snows. We need a national wildfire forecasting service as well as a national wildfire fighting force that could respond promptly to the predictions produced by that forecasting.
    As I said at the beginning, it is hard to disagree with the premise of this bill. I can only say that the need for better predictive powers to forecast floods, droughts and fires is so patently obvious that I would have thought that the government should not have to wait for a Liberal MP to bring forward a private member's bill to debate in this place to force the government to do that.
     The bill gives the government two years to develop a strategy for the preparation of a proposal for the establishment of a national hydrological forecasting service. I know the federal system is messy at times, and some provinces might object to federal efforts to build a better forecasting service, but these efforts should have begun years ago.



    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and friend, the member for Lac-Saint-Louis, for introducing this important bill.


    This bill is very important. It would help Canada protect those who are facing severe floods. It would also give us a national strategy to address floods and drought forecasting. This, as we know, is the way of the future.
    Climate change is real. It is impacts us throughout the country. We saw terrible forest fires in B.C. We saw flooding in my own riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard. We saw Nova Scotia, in July of this year, have terrible floods due to precipitation. As the member for Lac-Saint-Louis said, this strategy will help us forecast and see what is happening before it hits us.
    I have taken considerable time to visit the flood areas in Pierrefonds—Dollard. I have toured the flood zones with the former Île Bizard mayor, Stéphane Côté, somebody I call a friend and who works extremely diligently for his community. He made sure that I was able to to see first-hand the infrastructure he was putting in place.
    People in 2017 and 2019 were extremely stressed. They lost their property and their homes. They lost their life savings. They had to deal with trauma as a result of losing their life savings. I met residents whose households were suffering from the effects of flooding for years after. The echo effects due to loss of their entire properties included depression within their households and stress upon their families. It was extremely difficult for them to bear.
    When we talk about legislation to create a national strategy around flooding and drought forecasting, it is about much more than protecting property and protecting people's homes. It also has mental health impacts for our society and community.
    The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis has done extremely important work through the committee he chairs, the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. Through this committee, he has brought forth issues relating to water and the environment. That is why I am so happy to see him bring this legislation to the floor today, legislation that I hope this entire House will support together.



    We heard from members of the other parties. They said that the Quebec government does not need the federal government's support.


    That is not the case. Take, for example, the new protected space in Anticosti. This space has just been designated a UNESCO heritage site. That means Anticosti is protected. This is in contrast and contradiction, respectfully, to what the leader of the Bloc said recently, which is that the space in Anticosti should instead be a site for drilling oil. The site is in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
    The Liberal Party is seeking to protect land, seeking to protect against flooding and seeking to protect heritage sites. Going back to my riding in the area of West Island and to the Montreal area, the federal government has invested millions of dollars to prevent flooding and to protect the environment. We invested $50 million in the area of Pierrefonds to bring improvements to and protect a park called Grand parc de l’Ouest.
    The human impacts of flooding are real. I have seen families that have been impacted. I have visited the sites within both Pierrefonds and Île-Bizard. In Île Mercier, which is a small island in Île-Bizard, and a beautiful space, the homes are also subject to potential flooding each and every year. As the spring waters come in, I have seen the anxiety of the residents who are looking, each and every day, at the water level as it rises. The forecasting this bill would bring would help alleviate that anxiety. It would help us plan better to avoid the loss of property and stress on individuals. The real-time data this legislation would provide would help Canada face climate change into the future. It would ensure that we are equipped and better able to adapt to the changing environment and the changes we fully expect to see.
    Our government is committed to helping Canadians better adapt to extreme weather environments. This includes floods and droughts. It is already implementing key activities in relation to floods and drought forecasting. Take, for example, Environment and Climate Change Canada's meteorological service, the National Hydrological Service, which acts as the national authority responsible for the collection, interpretation and dissemination of standardized water resource data and information in Canada. It administers the national hydrometric programs by way of collaboration and cost-sharing with provinces and territories to help people. The national Hydrological Service operates 2,256 of the 2,922 water monitoring stations across the country. It also consolidates water quality data.
    In closing, I want to express my clear support for the bill of my friend and colleague, my neighbouring member of Parliament for Lac-Saint-Louis. I have learned so much from him with respect to this work. He has preceded me by many years, but I see how he serves his community diligently, and I take the example he offers. When it comes to protecting the environment and water, I know he is sincere in his work and is bringing forth legislation that would not only help benefit the residents of his riding and those being flooded throughout Quebec and other parts of the country, but also uplift our entire world by extension.



    I hope all members of the House will support the bill.
    The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.
    It being 2:22 p.m., the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
    (The House adjourned at 2:22 p.m.)
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