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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 026

CONTENTS

Tuesday, February 8, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 026
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), and consistent with the current policy on the tabling of treaties in Parliament, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, four treaties.
    The first is the “Convention on the International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation”, adopted at Kuala Lumpur on February 28, 2020.
    The second is the “Agreement on Social Security between Canada and the Argentine Republic”, done at Buenos Aires on August 13, 2021.
    The third is the “Agreement on Social Security Between Canada and the Republic of Austria”, done at Vienna on July 5, 2021.
    The fourth is the “Antarctic Treaty”, done at Washington on December 1, 1959.

Old Age Security Act

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

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Public Accounts 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following nine reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
    The first report is entitled “Report 1, Procuring Complex Information Technology Solutions of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.

[English]

     The second report is entitled “Report 2, National Shipbuilding Strategy, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.
    The third report is entitled “Report 3, Access to Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities—Indigenous Services Canada, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.

[Translation]

    The fourth report is entitled “Report 4, Canada Child Benefit—Canada Revenue Agency, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.
    The fifth report is entitled “Report 5, Follow-up Audit on Rail Safety—Transport Canada, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.

[English]

    The sixth report is entitled “Report 6, Canada Emergency Response Benefit, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.

[Translation]

    The seventh report is entitled “Report 7, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.
    The eighth report is entitled “Report 8, Pandemic Preparedness, Surveillance, and Border Control Measures, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.

  (1005)  

[English]

    The ninth report is entitled “Report 9, Investing in Canada Plan, of the 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to each of these reports. All of them are signed in both official languages.

Income Tax Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this chamber today to introduce my bill, an act to amend the Income Tax Act, to allow a deduction of travel expenses for tradespersons. By 2025, Canada will need an additional 350,000 tradespeople to fill this void. I look forward to working with all parties in this place to pass this important legislation and give the necessary support for our tradespersons across the country when they must travel for work.

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

Reuniting Families Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce the reuniting Canadian families act. In 2012, the Conservative government brought in a super visa, a 10-year multiple-entry visa, to allow parents and grandparents to reunite with their families here in Canada. From the ensuing 10 years, we know improvements are needed to it.
    This bill would allow people to stay for five years over 10 years. It would allow the purchase of insurance from a foreign country to reduce the cost of buying health insurance, which is a prerequisite for a super visa. Finally, it would require the government to deliver a plan to reduce the low-income cut-off so that more families can qualify for the super visa.

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

Ending the Use of Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce my PMB, an act respecting the elimination of the use of forced labour and child labour in supply chains. The seconder, and indeed the author of the bill, is my good friend, the member for Scarborough—Guildwood.
    Manufacturers looking to maximize their profits often buy products made in countries where labour is cheap, but in countries where labour is cheap, labour standards may be low or non-existent. Perhaps worst of all, products might be made using either child labour or forced labour. I think many companies and consumers would prefer not to look too closely at the labour practices that went into the products they buy. This bill, if passed, would require big companies to look into their supply chains and file a public report yearly identifying the parts of the supply chains where there is a risk of child labour or forced labour and report what the company has done to address those risks.

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

  (1010)  

Copyright Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to introduce my private member's bill, Bill C-244, an act to amend the Copyright Act, one part of our right to repair system in Canada.
    I would like to start off by saying that this bill was previously tabled in February 2021 by my hon. colleague, the member for Cambridge, and made it through the committee studies. It is my honour to bring this bill back in the 44th Parliament because it is still critical to the protection of Canadian consumers and our environment.
    The bill is aimed at addressing copyright that is being used to stop Canadians from repairing and maintaining items that have been purchased and are owned by Canadians. It is a targeted bill that creates specific exemptions to copyright. When an individual makes a purchase of an item, the owner should have a right to repair it and not be restricted by the manufacturer. Being able to repair the items we own is critical to the well-being of our environment.
    Canada has the ability to be an international leader in sustainable consumerism and act as a model on how to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle with the things we buy. Canadians work hard to purchase the things they own and should have a right to repair these items as well.
    I look forward to the debate and the support of my colleagues in the House.

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

Canada Infrastructure Bank Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present my bill, an act to amend the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act. This bill leverages public ownership in the fight against climate change and in support of the most marginalized communities in our country, including indigenous and northern communities.
    Catastrophic climate change is a threat to our survival. Indigenous and northern communities are already paying the price. Regions like ours have already been living the devastating impacts of climate change, and we do not have the infrastructure and resources needed to respond.
    From the need to transition away from diesel-generated power to the need for all-weather roads, fire protection and flood and drought mitigation, indigenous and northern communities need infrastructure support now. It is clear the fight against climate change requires bold, collective action.
    The Infrastructure Bank was designed by billionaires for billionaires, and it is time to change that. The Canada Infrastructure Bank must be part of the solution by doing away with for-profit private agendas, focusing on investing public funds through green bonds and ensuring indigenous representation and transparency. It is time Canada put people over profit and built up the infrastructure we need to fight climate change.

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

[Translation]

Constitution Act, 1867

     He said: Mr. Speaker, in 1995, the House of Commons recognized Quebec as a distinct society and encouraged the government to be guided accordingly in its conduct. In 2006, the House recognized that Quebeckers form a nation. In June 2021, the House reiterated that recognition by adding that it also recognized Quebec's jurisdiction and will to amend its constitution to enshrine in it not only the fact that Quebec is nation but also that French is the only official language of Quebec and the common language of the Quebec nation.
    Recognizing the Quebec nation automatically means acknowledging that Quebec must be properly represented here in the House of Commons. That is the purpose of this bill.

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

  (1015)  

[English]

Prohibition of Fur Farming Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, commercial fur farming is cruel to the animals that face horrible conditions every day, and it poses a real risk to human health, including pandemic risk. Many countries have already put an end to this practice and Canada should do the same. Animal science experts describe the filthy and cramped conditions as inherently inhumane. Infectious disease experts describe commercial fur farming as a hazardous practice that poses serious risks to human health because of the transmission of viruses between animals and people, and the very real threat of viral mutations.
    In phasing out mink farming, B.C.'s provincial health officer declared it a “health hazard”. It is not only B.C., of course. The U.K. banned commercial fur farming over two decades ago, and many other countries have implemented similar bans since. It is now time for Canada to end the cruel and dangerous practice of commercial fur farming, and that is exactly what this legislation would do.

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

Petitions

Hidden Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, my first petition, e-3704, is on a symbol for hidden disabilities. The international disability symbol of access iconographically excludes the hidden disability community. Collectively, hidden disabilities are represented less than detectable disabilities in research and advocacy, yet they affect more people. Different identifiable disability icons, symbols and memes are used in a number of countries through various models.
    The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to adopt and promote a national hidden disability symbol and to participate in actions toward its international adoption.

Fashion Industry  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition, e-3725, is from the Canada Fashion Network. We must identify fashion as a form of art. The fashion industry is diminishing, and is crucial to our national identity and our diverse population. There are several ongoing unaddressed issues, such as cultural awareness and appropriation. If promoted, opportunities for Canada are exponential both nationally and internationally. The petitioners request that the government pass legislation to promote Canadian fashion in the national interest, and that it add the Canada Fashion Network to the list of organizations that make up the Canadian Heritage portfolio.

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, freedom of conscience is a fundamental right clearly articulated in section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have the honour to table several petitions signed by hundreds of citizens across Canada who call upon Parliament to protect the conscience rights of medical professionals from coercion or intimidation to provide, or refer patients for, assisted suicide or euthanasia. I thank these Canadians for their engagement on this important issue.

  (1020)  

Bradford Bypass  

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling petition e-3766 today. The petition has been signed by Canadians across the country, but primarily residents of York Region and the riding I represent: Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill. They are very concerned by the Province of Ontario's decision to move forward with the construction of the Bradford Bypass without adequate environmental consideration of proposed routes or possible alternatives. The petitioners request that the connector highway known as the Bradford Bypass be designated by the Minister of Environment for a federal impact assessment under the Impact Assessment Act. The existing assessment was done over 25 years ago, in 1997, and on October 7 of last year, the Ontario government exempted this project from a provincial environmental assessment.
    The petitioners note that the bypass will result in adverse environmental effects within several jurisdictions. They argue that the bypass, which cuts across the environmentally sensitive Holland Marsh, including wetlands and farm lands in the Greenbelt and the Lake Simcoe headlands, would bring an average daily traffic of approximately 58,000 vehicles. They argue this would contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, add to phosphorus pollution, destroy wetlands and forests, threaten species at risk and allow more levels of road salt to flow into Lake Simcoe, which would endanger fish habitats. It would also destroy one of Canada's most significant historical sites: the Lower Landing, which is of great importance to first nations.
     The bottom line is that these petitioners are asking the federal government to do its duty, because the Province of Ontario did not. It is the Government of Canada's duty and responsibility to deliver on both ensuring the climate change targets that Canada committed to on the international stage and, more importantly, ensuring that we do everything we can to protect our fragile ecosystem.
    Before continuing, I want to remind the hon. members to be as concise as possible. It is a very brief outline of what the petition puts forward. I just wanted to remind everyone.
    Presenting petitions, the hon. member for Peace River—Westlock.

Firearms  

    Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of being concise, I rise today to present a petition that supports the health and safety of Canadian firearms owners. The petitioners recognize the importance of owning firearms, and they are concerned about the impact of hearing loss caused by the damaging noise levels of firearms and the need for noise reduction.
    The petitioners acknowledge that sound moderators are the only universally recognized health and safety device that is criminally prohibited in Canada. Moreover, the majority of G7 countries have recognized the benefits of sound moderators and allow them for hunting, sport shooting and reducing noise pollution. The petitioners call on the government to allow legal firearms owners to purchase and use sound moderators for all legal hunting and sport shooting activities.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise virtually in the House today on behalf of several Prince Edward Islanders to present this code red petition. These Canadians are extremely concerned about the climate emergency, and they are calling upon the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to enact just transition legislation to reduce emissions by at least 60% from 2005 levels, to create good, green jobs, to drive inclusive workforce development, to protect and strengthen human rights and workers' rights, and to expand the social safety net through new income supports, decarbonized public housing and operational funding for affordable and accessible public transit countrywide.
    I appreciate this opportunity.

Housing  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a huge honour to table this petition on behalf of residents of Cumberland, Courtenay, Parksville and Port Alberni.
    The petitioners want to draw the attention of the House of Commons to the estimated 235,000 people in Canada who experience homelessness every year. Canada's commitment to reduce homelessness right now by 50% over 10 years would still leave 117,500 Canadians homeless each year. The petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to take immediate action by officially recognizing that housing is a human right, and to develop a plan to end and prevent homelessness in Canada.

Middle East  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table today.
    First, over 1,500 Canadians have signed a petition raising concerns about Israel's designation of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist organizations. They note the concerns raised by the UN special rapporteurs condemning the designation, and they call on the Government of Canada to call upon Israeli authorities to immediately rescind the designations and to end all efforts aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders.

  (1025)  

Religious Freedom  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition has been signed by almost 1,000 Canadians. They are calling attention to the fact that non-believers are persecuted in several countries, both by governments and the public. The petitioners note that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.
    They call upon the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to clarify the status of the less complex claims policy, and to ensure that non-believers are included in the list of people eligible for any special refugee status so that they will be treated equally with those people belonging to the religions listed in the less complex claims policy.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

[Translation]

Privilege

Alleged Premature Disclosure of Bill C‑10—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
     I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on February 1, 2022, by the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent concerning the alleged premature disclosure of Bill C-10, an act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19.
    During his intervention, the member argued that the Prime Minister had spoken about the bill in detail during a press conference held the day before. At that time, the bill was on notice and had not been introduced in the House. The member said that the bill is simply entitled “An Act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19”.
    He added that the Prime Minister had provided details by indicating that the government was going to present a bill to continue to offer the greatest possible number of rapid tests to the provinces and territories. He also said that such a disclosure breached the convention that members must be the first to learn the details of legislative measures and thus constituted contempt.

[English]

    The parliamentary secretary to the government House leader responded that the Prime Minister had only spoken about the bill in general terms and had not disclosed any specific details. He also said that sharing a draft of the bill with the opposition parties before its introduction satisfied the requirement that members must be the first to be informed of such measures.
    The convention that members have a right to first access to legislation is a well-established practice. Looking at the relevant precedents, including those cited by the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, the Chair notes in particular that, when a premature disclosure was ruled to be a prima facie breach of privilege, precise details had been disclosed. These provided evidence that the contents of the bill had indeed been shared before they were disclosed in the House.
    In the case before us, the Chair must determine whether the information provided by the Prime Minister at the press conference constitutes a disclosure of the contents of the bill, which would be, at first glance, a breach of the privileges of members or of the dignity of the House.

[Translation]

    Bill C‑10 is relatively short and contains only two clauses. The purpose is simple. The first clause specifies the maximum amount that can be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the purchase of rapid tests. The second concerns the distribution of these rapid tests to the provinces and territories. The second aspect of the bill has been part of public discourse for some time now.
    It is the view of the Chair that the Prime Minister’s statement does not give way for the Chair to conclude that there was a breach of the privileges of the House nor to give the matter precedence over all other business of the House. Thus, I cannot conclude that there is a prima facie question of privilege.

  (1030)  

[English]

    In closing, I would like to point out that the disclosure of bills before they are presented in the House has recently been the subject of several questions of privilege. A new practice also seems to have been established in which the government shares certain bills with the opposition before they are introduced. As such, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs may wish to review these elements and, if necessary, share its findings with the House.
    I thank the members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

  (1035)  

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Amendment to the Constitution of Canada (The Saskatchewan Act)  

    Whereas on October 21, 1880, the Government of Canada entered into a contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway Syndicate for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway;
    Whereas, by clause 16 of the 1880 Canadian Pacific Railway contract, the federal government agreed to give a tax exemption to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company;
    Whereas, in 1905, the Parliament of Canada passed the Saskatchewan Act, which created the Province of Saskatchewan;
    Whereas section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act refers to clause 16 of the 1880 Canadian Pacific Railway Contract;
    Whereas the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed on November 6, 1885, with the Last Spike at Craigellachie, and has been operating as a going concern for 136 years;
    Whereas, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company has paid applicable taxes to the Government of Saskatchewan since the Province was established in 1905;
    Whereas it would be unfair to the residents of Saskatchewan if a major corporation were exempt from certain provincial taxes, casting that tax burden onto the residents of Saskatchewan;
    Whereas it would be unfair to other businesses operating in Saskatchewan, including small businesses, if a major corporation were exempt from certain provincial taxes, giving that corporation a significant competitive advantage over those other businesses, to the detriment of farmers, consumers and producers in the Province;
    Whereas it would not be consistent with Saskatchewan's position as an equal partner in Confederation if there were restrictions on its taxing powers that do not apply to other provinces;
    Whereas on August 29, 1966, the then President of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, Ian D. Sinclair, advised the then federal Minister of Transport, Jack Pickersgill, that the Board of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company had no objection to constitutional amendments to eliminate the tax exemption;
    Whereas section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies;
    Whereas the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, on November 29, 2021, adopted a resolution authorizing an amendment to the Constitution of Canada;
    Now, therefore, the House of Commons resolves that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada be authorized to be made by proclamation issued by Her Excellency the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada in accordance with the annexed schedule.
    SCHEDULE
    AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF CANADA
    1. Section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act is repealed.
    2. The repeal of section 24 is deemed to have been made on August 29, 1966, and is retroactive to that date.
    CITATION
    3. This Amendment may be cited as the Constitution Amendment, [year of proclamation] (Saskatchewan Act).
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to stand to present the motion today and lead off the debate.
    I will be splitting my time with the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek. I am happy to hear her comments put on the record as well. We will have a lot of Saskatchewan content in the chamber today. I feel that more common sense from Saskatchewan is always a good thing.
    I want to talk to the members in the chamber today about why this motion is important. There are two defining reasons why we should be passing this unanimously. One is for tax fairness. I believe the taxpayers of Saskatchewan should not be forced to pay an additional dollars to a profitable corporation. Second, it is about respecting provincial jurisdiction. I believe all colleagues can appreciate that. I think we have a duty in this chamber to respect what has been done in provincial legislatures across the country. We know that this passed unanimously in the Saskatchewan legislature last fall.
    I brought forward a unanimous consent motion, but I appreciate that the member for Winnipeg North and the justice minister wanted to have debate on the floor of the House of Commons about why this motion is important and why it should be passed. It is with respect to their wishes that we brought forward this motion today so we would have that conversation, have that debate and have comments put on the record as to why this is a necessary motion. Hopefully, after today there will be a vote on this motion and we can move it to the Senate. Then this could be passed in respect to the wishes of the people of Saskatchewan.
    I have some thanks to give. My thanks to the minister of justice in Saskatchewan, Gordon Wyant, who put this motion forward in that legislative chamber. I have also talked with some of the NDP MLAs in Saskatchewan, my home province. I was a member of the legislative assembly there, and Trent Wotherspoon has said he has communicated with the NDP in the House of Commons. I believe they will be on board with this motion as well because they should respect what their provincial colleagues have done.
    I hope this will be a good and thorough debate about why we, as legislators, should respect the provincial jurisdiction of what is going on. I want to put on the record that I think it is very important that we have the proper tone. Decorum in this House has left a little bit to be desired.
    The motion today was put forward by the opposition so that we can all get together and have a good conversation to show the people of Canada that we can work together. We have done it in the past. We can work together and get things done more quickly and not see some of the holdups we have seen in the past with some of the bills put forward because of partisan politics.
    These are the conversations we have been having over the last couple months. I put forward a unanimous consent motion that was denied, so hopefully that will not happen again with this motion before I back home to Saskatchewan.
    Talking about the people of Saskatchewan, this is important to them because they think it is time that Ottawa listens to some of their concerns around tax fairness. Obviously, we have seen that the price of everything has been going up and inflation is increasing everywhere. They want to know that we are listening. My number one job when I stand in the House of Commons representing the people of Regina—Lewvan is to put forward their interests and make sure that I am a voice for them. This is something that I feel is very important. They feel, like I said previously, that they should not have to pay an extra dollar for a profitable corporation.
    We went through the motion. For a little more background, this is a constitutional amendment. That is not unheard of, as B.C. has done this, as well as Alberta, and through this very process. We are not breaking new ground. We know this has been done before, amending provincial constitutions through motions and agreement with parties in the chamber and in the Senate. I believe this is something that can be done again.
    We really want to make sure that people realize that this is an outdated exemption. It dates back to 1880. It was something where the government at the time made a deal with CP Rail. It is something where they were exempt from paying taxes. Going back to 1880 makes it 116 years old. CP and the Saskatchewan government have been engaged in a battle over this for the last 13 years.
    For CP, that is something that will be ongoing. This will affect that going forward. That court case will be settled in the courts. It will not be settled here today, but we will make sure that we get this exemption done and off the books so that something like this does not come up again.

  (1040)  

    On November 29, the justice minister introduced the motion to repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act in the legislature. Like I said, it has been a few months. I believe my colleagues across the way on the government side have had an opportunity to look at it and are in agreement with this motion going forward. The resolution will be passed by the government and the Senate.
    I want to put on the record today a comment made by the minister of justice in Saskatchewan. He said, “We're going to vigorously defend the claim that's been brought by the railway to defend the interests of the people of Saskatchewan”. When it comes down to it, today we are trying to defend the interests of the people of Saskatchewan on the floor of the House of Commons. That is what I will always do.
    When I talk to the people of Regina—Lewvan, I tell them that I will always be on Saskatchewan's side. This motion shows both that commitment to the people who have sent us to the legislature and that we have the ability to get things done. Sometimes I am asked in my hometown of Regina if I can move the yardstick being in opposition, if I can get things done. This is an example of how, working with all parties, we can get something done for the people of Saskatchewan and make sure they do not pay a cent in tax that should be paid by profitable corporations.
    In a few conversations with people back home over Christmas, they were really interested in what the problem with this could be. I am hoping that, if the other parties, the Liberals, NDP or Bloc, do have concerns, they put them on floor of the House of Commons today. We can then answer those concerns, and we can work together to ensure this will be moved forward. It is very important that we make sure outdated legislation is changed.
    I believe it was an oversight because in 1966, as it says in the motion, there was a handshake agreement between CP Rail and the government of the day to get this exemption off the books. Sometimes there are small oversights, so we are going to fix a past mistake that was overlooked and ensure that everyone knows what the rules are going forward. Canadians are really looking for some certainty and making sure we are doing what we can to make legislation clear. Passing this motion so that oversight is fixed and that exemption is taken off the books of CP Rail is what today is about.
    This is about tax fairness for the people of my province, and I am looking forward to hearing the debates of my other colleagues from Saskatchewan. It is about respecting provincial jurisdiction. I think a lot of members in the chamber agree with this and will make sure we work together to get this motion passed. I believe everyone in this House thinks provincial jurisdiction should be respected, and when it comes to tax fairness, I think everyone in the House would agree that people in our home provinces should not be paying for profitable corporations. When I go home, I will be happy to have conversations with the people of Regina—Lewvan and tell them this is one thing we did together.
    When they watch the news, sometimes all they see is the combativeness among opposition parties. They watch question period and think all we do is argue and not get answers from our colleagues across the way. Through this motion and the debates today, I want to show there is co-operation at times.
    I am hoping my government and opposition colleagues will help us to make sure this is fair for Saskatchewan. I am proud to say that I will always be on Saskatchewan's side, and that is what this motion is about.

  (1045)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend and colleague's approach to dealing with what is a serious issue. Whenever a provincial legislature takes an initiative, it is appropriate that the government respond, no matter what its political stripe, in whatever way it can. There is also a responsibility to gain a full understanding.
    The credit that the member referenced is for the province of Saskatchewan. Are there other jurisdictions that are encountering the same situation, or is this truly unique to the province of Saskatchewan?
    Madam Speaker, this particular motion is truly unique to the province of Saskatchewan, because the exemption is in section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act. I have not read any other provincial acts that deal with the Constitution, so it may be in the Manitoba or Alberta act as well, but this motion just deals with repealing section 24 in the Saskatchewan Act.
    The motion today deals only with Saskatchewan. If the member likes, he could have some conversations with provincial colleagues in Manitoba or Alberta to see if there are other provincial constitutions with the same exemption for companies, but the motion today deals strictly with Saskatchewan.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I want to respond to the question from my colleague from Winnipeg North, who wanted to ensure that this applies only to Saskatchewan. As we know, the feds have an almighty fear of ever talking about the Constitution, especially when it comes to Quebec.
    I realize that this applies only to Saskatchewan, but would my colleague agree that this could set a pretty strong precedent for re-opening discussions on the Constitution? I would like to hear his comments on that.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this is not a precedent. It has been done before, as I said in the opening comments of my speech. B.C. and Alberta have used this method as well to change portions of their provincial constitutions. It would not set a precedent, and other provinces have the ability to do it. I would love to have a constitutional debate with my friends from Quebec. If they have any suggestions, I am open. They always bring forward good ideas, so I hope that if they have ideas to bring forward, they will do so through the House of Commons.
    This particular motion is only about the Saskatchewan Act and does not set a precedent, because, as I said, B.C. and Alberta have used this method already to change their provincial constitutions.
    Madam Speaker, it is wonderful to see the Conservatives standing up and calling for Canada's biggest corporations to pay their fair share. It is obvious that what we have been saying all these years is rubbing off, and it is good to see.
    The court case between Saskatchewan and CP Rail has been going on for 13 years. It seems there would have been ample opportunity to have addressed this issue quite a bit earlier—for instance, when the Conservative Party was in government. I wonder if my colleague could reflect on why it has taken 13 years for the federal government to take this step.
    Madam Speaker, it is coming up now because the provincial legislature passed this motion unanimously just recently. At this time, how the process rolls out is that the provincial legislature has to pass a motion unanimously before it comes to the House Commons. That is why it is happening now.
    In my speech, I said that it had been passed in November of 2021, and we brought this up at the earliest opportunity. First we asked for unanimous consent and now we are going through this process to ensure it is done properly and is debated on the floor. I know the court case has been going on for 13 years, but the timing of when the provincial legislature passed its motion unanimously is the reason it is here in the House of Commons today.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague, the member for Regina—Lewvan, for his excellent and informative speech on this important and historic opposition day motion calling on the House to amend the Constitution of Canada.
    The passage of the Saskatchewan Act, which created the Province of Saskatchewan in 1905, became part of the Canadian Constitution and came into force on September 1 of that year. Through a unique mechanism created as part of our Confederation, provinces have the ability to amend the Constitution when a matter deals exclusively with their internal governance.
    For those who enjoy the history of Canada and learning about the twists and turns of the past, the events that have brought us to this point are really quite fascinating. As already mentioned by my colleague and as outlined in the motion itself, prior to the creation of the Province of Saskatchewan, our nation's forefathers were undertaking an immense nation-building exercise: the completion of a trans-continental railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
    In order to help the fledgling railway company complete this mammoth task, the Government of Canada agreed to provide it with a tax exemption. When the Saskatchewan Act was passed in 1905, the tax exemptions applicable to the Canadian Pacific Railway were referenced in section 24. Since the creation of the Province of Saskatchewan, the company has paid applicable taxes to the Government of Saskatchewan. Section 24, or the Provision as to C.P.R. Company, states the following: “The powers hereby granted to the said province shall be exercised subject to the provisions of section 16 of the contract set forth in the schedule to chapter 1 of the statutes of 1881, being an Act respecting the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.”
    Let us fast-forward 61 years to August 29, 1966, when the president and board of directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway company confirmed to the federal minister of transport at the time that the board had no objection to constitutional amendments to eliminate the tax exemption. The elimination of the tax exemption contained in clause 24 was based on an agreement between the company and the federal government that the Government of Canada would make certain regulatory changes.
    It is important to note that the Government of Canada upheld its part of the agreement and made the regulatory changes. However, clause 24 of the Saskatchewan Act was never eliminated. Recently the company undertook a challenge to this tax exemption, which is why we are seeking to address this change.
    While I am pleased to speak today on this motion, it is unfortunate that I have to do so. Last year my colleague, the member for Regina—Lewvan, presented a unanimous consent motion in the House dealing with this very issue. I was both disappointed and more than a little troubled that consent was not granted by members of the government at that time.
    This is not a partisan issue. The motion we are discussing today was unanimously passed by the Saskatchewan legislative assembly on November 29 of last year. In fact, two members of the Saskatchewan NDP caucus, Trent Wotherspoon, the official opposition critic for finance, and Nicole Sarauer, the official opposition critic for justice, wrote a letter to the federal ministers of justice and finance, the government representative in the Senate, the leader of the official opposition in the Senate, and the finance and justice critics for the Conservative Party of Canada, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party, expressing their support for the motion and calling on the Parliament of Canada to act.
    This letter was cc'd to all 14 Saskatchewan members of Parliament.
    For the record, I would like to quote from the letter, which states:
    You are likely aware of the resolution adopted by the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan on November 29, 2021, to repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act. We ask you to work with your colleagues in the House of Commons and the Senate to ensure that the parallel resolutions required under section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to finalize this amendment can be passed without delay.

  (1050)  

    The letter goes on to say:
     We stand united as a legislature on this front, and we trust that you appreciate the importance of the quick and enthusiastic support of the Parliament of Canada in this endeavour.
     This collaborative, non-partisan approach by Saskatchewan's members of the Legislative Assembly reflects the spirit in which this matter should be dealt with. Additionally, the letter emphasizes the speed and urgency needed in dealing with this matter.
    Unfortunately, I am concerned that the government may not make this a priority or treat it with the urgency that it requires. The motion passed in the Legislative Assembly is comprehensive and clearly outlines the issues for the Province of Saskatchewan and its people. It is my sincere hope that the government will support this motion and pass it, as the potential cost to the people of Saskatchewan is significant.
    Exempting a major corporation from certain provincial taxes would cast a significant tax burden on the residents of my province. Citizens pay their taxes. Families, single parents, seniors and young people who are new to the workforce all pay their fair share. It would also be unfair to other businesses, including small businesses, as it would give significant advantage to the CPR over those businesses and would be detrimental to our farmers, producers and consumers.
    The Hon. Gordon Wyant, Saskatchewan's justice minister, put it very well when in the Saskatchewan legislature when he stated:
     Simply put, it would not be fair for one of Canada's largest business corporations to have a substantial tax exemption in our province, but be required to pay taxes in other provinces simply based on the date Saskatchewan became a province.
    I have to admit that after the rejection of the unanimous consent motion, I was skeptical about whether or not the government would do what is clearly the right thing for Saskatchewan. However, given the clear arguments laid out in the motion put forward by Minister Wyant and Mr. Wotherspoon in the Saskatchewan legislature and the context provided during the debate, as well as the unanimous support of the Legislative Assembly, I would submit to this place that now is the time for the federal government to ensure that Saskatchewan is treated equally and fairly within our federation. I do hope that the government and in fact all parliamentarians will unite and support the people of Saskatchewan by supporting this motion. As I said earlier, this is about fairness and equity for Saskatchewan.
    I want to quote one last time from the letter by Mr. Wotherspoon and Ms. Sarauer. It says:
     Currently, section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act purports to limit Saskatchewan's powers of taxation in a way that does not apply to other provinces in Canada. The amendment to the Saskatchewan Act proposed by the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan removes this inequality and will ensure fairness in taxation and jurisdiction for all Saskatchewan people.
    The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan has demonstrated that this is not a partisan matter, and I hope that all parliamentarians would look at this issue as one that they could support. As the Hon. Gord Wyant stated at the time of his intervention that section 24 is a relic of an earlier time and that repealing this section will cement Saskatchewan's place as a truly equal partner in our federation.
     I hope that our colleague, the federal Minister of Justice, has had sufficient time to consult with his officials, Saskatchewan's justice minister and his colleagues across the way so that they will support this motion's speedy passage, both in this place and in the Senate of Canada.
    I appreciate the opportunity to make this intervention and I will try to address any questions that my colleagues might have.

  (1055)  

    Madam Speaker, I suspect that individuals who might be following the debate here today or the debate that took place in Saskatchewan might be curious about what it really means in terms of the taxation.
    Had the Province of Saskatchewan actually forgone any ability to tax CP Rail, or did CP Rail actually pay taxes? In listening to my colleague, one would be of the opinion that CP has been paying taxes. That is not 100% my understanding. If she could enlighten me on that point, I would really appreciate it.

  (1100)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and I understand. I did make the statement that since the creation of the Province of Saskatchewan, the company has paid applicable taxes to the Government of Saskatchewan. I will say that I stayed away from commenting on the case that is before the court. I do not want to comment on that since it is before the courts, but I thank him for his question.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
    The Bloc Québécois obviously supports the Conservative Party motion about a proposed amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the Saskatchewan Act.
    However, we cannot discuss the Constitution without acknowledging the elephant in the room. Quebec is not a signatory to the Constitution Act, 1982, which Canada simply imposed on us.
    Would my colleague comment on the fact that, for Quebeckers, the constitutional status quo is unacceptable?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member and his party have been very clear about what they think about the Constitution and their place in this federation. In fact, it was not so long ago that we were here in the last Parliament, toward the end of Parliament, entertaining an opposition day motion where they were flexing their right as a province to amend the Constitution. I appreciate his question on this issue. Here we are today asking for a similar consideration.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her speech. It is great to see us working together. This started in the Saskatchewan legislature, led by the Saskatchewan NDP.
    I met with Dr. Katharine Smart from the CMA yesterday. She cited that there are pre-existing shortages. We need $3.2 billion for 7,500 new doctors and nurses. We need $6 billion to end the wait-lists in our health care system. We have overworked, tired and exhausted health care workers, and it is corporations like this that are not paying their fair share.
    Does the member agree that not only should Canadian Pacific pay its fair share, but those who have profited from COVID-19 and the pandemic and companies using tax havens to not pay their fair share of taxes should also be paying their fair share? I hope she agrees with me that they should.
    Madam Speaker, I absolutely believe that corporations should pay their fair share of taxes. I would suggest that what we have seen over the last two years during the pandemic, which I believe has been greatly mismanaged by the current government, was the spending of tax dollars to grant sole-source contracts to Liberal insiders and their friends to line the pockets of those individuals. They really did take advantage of the pandemic. I suggest that questions about health care and whether it is being funded properly should be posed to the members across the way.
    Madam Speaker, at the outset, let me acknowledge that I am speaking to you from the traditional lands of the Algonquin people. I also want to acknowledge the lands from which our colleagues are joining us today.
    It is a solemn honour and pleasure for me to rise in this debate to speak on the proposed constitutional amendment in relation to Saskatchewan. It is not every day a motion for a resolution to amend the Constitution of Canada comes before the House. I want to thank the member for Regina—Lewvan for bringing this forward.
    Indeed, a resolution authorizing the proposed amendment has already been adopted by the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. The amendment, if also authorized by resolutions of both Houses of Parliament, would repeal a provision of the Saskatchewan Act that was enacted by Parliament in 1905 but is now an entrenched part of the Constitution of Canada.
    Hon. members are aware that 40 years ago the Constitution of Canada was patriated by the enactment of the Canada Act 1982. No longer would the Parliament of the United Kingdom legislate for Canada, including making amendments to its Constitution. The Canada Act 1982 completed Canada's journey from a colony to an autonomous dominion to a full independent state, while preserving our institutions and traditions of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
    Our government is proud to support the province and the people of Saskatchewan in supporting this important constitutional amendment to ensure the tax system in Saskatchewan is fair and that all corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
    The Constitution Act, 1982, which is scheduled to the Canada Act 1982, not only constitutionally entrenches the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples of Canada and sets out the commitments of governments to promote equal opportunities for all Canadians. It also establishes the procedures for constitutional amendments.
    There are five amending procedures. Two of them we have often heard about: the general rule or 7/50 procedure; and the unanimous consent procedure.
     The general procedure requires the approval of at least seven of the 10 legislative assemblies of the provinces representing 50% of the provincial population, and the two federal Houses. Only one constitutional amendment has been made under the general procedure. It was made in 1983 to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
    The unanimous consent procedure, which applies to a limited number of subjects, requires the approval of both the Senate and the House, as well as 10 provincial assemblies. For both the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords to succeed, they would have had to meet this stringent standard.
    As well as the two multilateral procedures, there are two unilateral procedures of limited scope. The Parliament of Canada can amend the Constitution of Canada in relation to the executive government or the Senate and the House of Commons, subject to the protections of the fundamental characteristics of these institutions by the multilateral amending procedures. That is how, in 1985 and 2011, Parliament amended section 51 of the Constitution Act, 1867, concerning representation in the House. As well, each provincial legislature may amend the constitution of the province as long as it does not infringe on fundamental provisions, such as section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867, and section 23 of the Manitoba Act, 1870, which protect language rights.
    We now come to the bilateral constitutional amendment procedure. It is this procedure that the legislative assembly has invoked, which is set out in section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982. An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to a provision that applies to one or more but not all provinces may be made by a proclamation issued by the Governor General when authorized by a resolution of the Senate and the House, and of the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies. That is the case here. The provision that would be amended, section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act, only applies to Saskatchewan. The legislative assembly of the province to which the amendment applies, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, has authorized this amendment. It is now for the two federal Houses to determine whether to adopt resolutions authorizing the same amendment: the repeal of section 24.

  (1105)  

    The bilateral procedure can be viewed as a middle ground between the multilateral procedures requiring unanimous consent of the federal and provincial Houses at one end and the unilateral procedures allowing for an amendment by an ordinary act to the legislature on the other. The bilateral procedure is found in part V of the Constitution Act, 1982, which the Supreme Court of Canada has said “provides the blueprint for how to amend the Constitution of Canada”.
     The court called section 43, the bilateral formula, the “special arrangements procedure”, which applies in relation to provisions of the Constitution that apply to some but not all provinces. The court noted that it would “overshoot the mark” to make the adoption of the amendment dependent on the consent of provinces to which the provisions do not apply. Section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982, also serves to ensure that a special provision cannot be amended without the consent of the province to which the amendment applies.
    The bilateral constitutional amendment procedure has produced no fewer than seven constitutional amendments. Four of them concern Newfoundland and Labrador: one changing the name of the province to include “Labrador” in 2001, and three changing the denominational schools provisions of the terms of union in 1987, 1997 and 1998. One was made at the request of Quebec and also concerned denominational schools provisions to remove their application as to favour the organization of school boards along linguistic lines, and that was done in 1997. One was made at the request of New Brunswick in 1993, adding section 16.1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and thus recognized in the Constitution the equality of the English and French linguistic communities in the province. Finally, one was made at the behest of Prince Edward Island in 1993 to remove the requirement in the terms of union for Canada to maintain a ferry service, thereby facilitating the substitution of the construction of the Confederation Bridge to the mainland.
    These amendments all have the same things in common: each amended provisions of the Constitution of Canada that applied to fewer than all provinces; each amendment applied only to one province; each amendment was initiated by the provincial assembly of the province in question before being considered by the federal Houses; and each amendment modernized certain aspects of the Constitution and demonstrated federal-provincial co-operation.

  (1110)  

[Translation]

    The amendment proposed by the Saskatchewan legislature is similar to the seven others that have been adopted under the bilateral process since 1982. It seeks to amend a provision of the Constitution that does not apply to all the provinces. The amendment itself would apply to only one province. The initiative to make the amendment came from the legislative assembly of the province before it ended up before us.
    The amendment would modernize certain aspects of the Constitution, in this case by removing a limit on the exercise of the province's power that does not apply to most of the provinces and no longer has its place.
    Repealing section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act at the request of the province would be, by the way, a fine example of federal-provincial collaboration.

[English]

    The Governor General is being authorized to proclaim a constitutional amendment, so it should go without saying that the wording of the constitutional amendment must be identical in each of the federal and provincial resolutions and in each official language version of the text.
    To come to the proposed amendment at hand, on November 29, 2021, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan unanimously adopted a resolution to amend the Constitution of Canada to repeal, retroactive to August 1966, section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act, the enactment that created the Province of Saskatchewan.
    This section of the act purports to subject Saskatchewan's constitutional powers to clause 16 of an agreement dating back to 1880 between the Government of Canada and the founders of the Canadian Pacific Railway company, which is now commonly referred to as the CPR. This clause exempted CPR from certain federal, provincial and municipal taxes forever. Despite its tax exemption, in 1966 CPR agreed to pay applicable taxes. More recently, CPR brought claims against all governments involved to reassert its historical tax exemption.
    The amendment proposed by the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan is similar to the seven others that have already been made to the bilateral procedure since 1982. It aims to amend a provision of the Constitution that does not apply to all provinces. The amendment itself would only apply to one province. The amendment was initiated by the legislative assembly of the province before coming before us, and the amendment would effectively modernize certain aspects of the Constitution, in this case by removing a limit on the exercise of powers of the province that does not apply to most of the other provinces and which is no longer appropriate. Moreover, repealing section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act would be a nice example of federal-provincial co-operation.
    Saskatchewan's concerns regarding section 24 are threefold. First, Saskatchewan is of the view that it would be inconsistent with the province's position as an equal partner in Confederation. The provision restricted Saskatchewan's taxation powers relative to those of the other provinces in Canada. Second, Saskatchewan believes it would be unfair for other businesses operating in the province, including small businesses, if a major corporation were exempt from certain provincial taxes, providing the corporation a significant competitive advantage over those other businesses to the detriment of farmers, consumers and producers of the province. Third, Saskatchewan asserts it would be unfair to the residents of Saskatchewan if a major corporation were exempt from certain provincial taxes, casting an additional tax burden onto the people of Saskatchewan.
    Back in 1880, this exemption for a single large corporation may very well have been appropriate, as it was intended to recognize and encourage CPR's investment in the construction of the trans-Canadian rail network in the late 19th century. As such, it was just one of the incentives that Canada offered CPR to build Canada's first cross-country railway in fulfillment of a promise made to British Columbia for joining Confederation.
    While there may have been valid reasons to grant CPR's founders a tax exemption as part of a series of measures to support the construction of Canada's transcontinental railway, those reasons no longer stand now that the construction is completed and Canada's transportation legislation has been modernized. In broader terms, section 24 of Saskatchewan's founding statute and CPR's historical tax exemption have not kept pace with how Canada's tax and fiscal policies have evolved to support an effective and efficient transportation system and a healthy growing economy.
    Under the division of powers in our Constitution, the provinces are granted a general power to impose direct taxes. Section 24 seeks to constrain Saskatchewan's ability to do so with respect to the CPR, yet not all provinces are subject to such constraints, resulting in an asymmetry within the federation. Our government believes Saskatchewan should have the freedom to levy taxes within the province's boundaries, as it deems appropriate.
    We agree with our Saskatchewan counterpart that other taxpayers in the province should not bear a heavier tax burden as a result of a single large corporation benefiting from an exceptional exemption from provincial taxation. We also agree there should be a level playing field between all businesses operating in Saskatchewan's transportation industry.

  (1115)  

    As we all know, the completion of this railway was fundamental to the birth of our nation and the subsequent rapid growth and development of our economy. The last spike, uniting east and west, is an iconic representation for our national heritage and unity.
    If proclaimed, a constitutional amendment would have the effect of removing CPR's tax exemption from the Saskatchewan Act, retroactive to August 29, 1966, the date on which CPR entered into an agreement with the federal government to forego this perpetual exemption from some taxes. The Constitution was not amended to reflect this agreement at the time because it had not yet been patriated.

  (1120)  

[Translation]

    It is important that we not only focus on the substance, but also ensure that the form and procedure of the constitutional amendment are executed faithfully.
    It is true that the Constitution is, as the Supreme Court tells us, the expression of the sovereignty of the people of Canada and it lies within the power of the people of Canada, acting through their governments duly elected and recognized under the Constitution, to effect whatever constitutional arrangements are desired within Canadian territory.

[English]

    I submit that this is a very important constitutional amendment, one that is rooted in fairness. It would ensure that all Canadian corporations, including in Saskatchewan, pay their fair share of taxes. I look forward to ensuring the passage of this motion today, as well as questions and comments from our colleagues.
    Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the speech from my friend across the way, the parliamentary secretary for justice, and thank him very much for his support on this motion. I have also heard questions from my Bloc colleagues, and they said they support it as well, as do my NDP colleagues. I thank them very much for today's decorum. The people who have spoken have been very much in support of this motion.
    Does my colleague who just spoke believe that we will have that same support from the senators in the Senate chamber when this motion goes to the floor of the Senate? I am hoping they have the same kind of decorum and unanimous support for this motion.
    Madam Speaker, I cannot speak for the Senate. The Senate is independent of our government, but we certainly will be supporting members throughout the passage of the motion in the House of Commons today, as well as supporting it through the process in the Senate.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague's speech was very technical. I will put it in terms that people can better understand. Basically, Canadian National, or CN, is asking for a reimbursement of taxes paid that is equivalent to 0.3% of its sales annually.
    In 2021, that equalled $8 billion dollars, which is significant. The annual amount requested by CN represents approximately $290 for every Saskatchewan taxpayer, including children. How is it fair that a multi-billion company that was granted land for free and exemptions until 1966 is asking for more?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, today's subject is a constitutional amendment that would essentially give Saskatchewan a right that it should have had to tax CPR. That is the fundamental issue. Previously, without this amendment, that would have been limited. I therefore submit that this is moving toward fairness, and it is up to the Government of Saskatchewan to impose a tax policy that is appropriate.
    Madam Speaker, the most surprising thing I have heard this morning has come from the member for Regina—Lewvan, the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek and now the parliamentary secretary, the member for Scarborough—Rouge Park. They have all said the same thing: They believe corporations should pay their fair share of taxes. The New Democrats welcome all of them onto that political space because it has been a long time since we have heard that kind of unity here.
    Does the member think we can use the consensus this morning on paying a fair share of taxes to move forward with some kind of supertax on those who have profited from the pandemic?

  (1125)  

    Madam Speaker, obviously, my friend has not known my politics long enough to understand that I have always said it is important to tax corporations. Of course, as a party we believe that and have acted on it consistently. We look forward to working with all parties on issues of importance, particularly in this case to ensure that Saskatchewan has all the tools available to it so we do not differentiate it from other provinces.
    Madam Speaker, I congratulate the member for Regina—Lewvan on this motion, and I thank my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge Park for quite a lot of technical information that helped to guide me a bit. I love Saskatchewan very much. My father used to live in Saskatchewan, and I visited Regina many times to race on Wascana Lake.
    I want to give a shout-out to Mark McMorris, who won his third bronze medal at the Olympics. He is the pride of Saskatchewan. I texted his dad Don and his mom Cindy yesterday to congratulate them.
    As to my question for the member, have we looked at how this would enable Saskatchewan to raise revenues and potentially invest more in health care, education or other priority areas for the province?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my friend from Milton for his leadership and for ensuring that Canada's team does very well in Beijing. I really look forward to the medals they bring home.
    To his point, this allows Saskatchewan a number of important things. First, it equalizes the tax playing field for all businesses so there is no unfair advantage and no unfair burden on other corporations that do not have this exemption. Second, it allows for corporations, such as CPR, to pay their share of taxes that are due to the people of Saskatchewan. It is really up to the people of Saskatchewan to decide how they spend their money, including on important issues such as health care.
    Madam Speaker, the member will recall that late last year when this suggestion first came up, shortly after the Saskatchewan legislature passed the motion, we looked at giving unanimous consent to pass a motion. At the time, I indicated that I did not think it would be appropriate, given the very nature that a constitutional change was being proposed.
    I am wondering if the member could provide his thoughts as to why he feels today it is important for us, at the very least, to have some debate before the motion's passage.
    Madam Speaker, I know our not supporting the ratification of this motion by way of unanimous consent was noted by the member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek. As the member knows, we get a number of unanimous consent motions, and something of this nature, with the magnitude of amending the Constitution, requires debate, and it is the type of debate we are having today. It allowed the government a number of months. The Saskatchewan legislature passed a motion in November last year, so we are within a three-month timeline to support it.
    We are very proud to support the motion today. We look forward to its passage both in the House and in the other place.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mirabel, commonly known as the Jean-René Dufort of the Bloc Québécois.
    I asked myself this morning how I would deal with this fascinating issue. Something struck me when reading the motion, specifically the following:
    Whereas the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed on November 6, 1885, with the Last Spike at Craigellachie....
     As I am fascinated by this subject, I consulted the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, the dean of our party, who was there, and he told me that the last spike was actually driven into the track on November 4.
    All joking aside, it is a fascinating subject, but I will comment on two aspects. First, I asked myself why my Conservative colleagues decided to devote an opposition day to this issue. In my view, a political party generally uses an opposition day to poke at the government with actions that more or less reflect their own political orientation. Sometimes, the intent is to shed light on urgent issues or to put forward the party's policies or agenda, which are unique to each party.
    Why would the Conservatives choose to use an opposition day to talk about the railway in Saskatchewan, especially in the middle of a pandemic? Numerous opposition days have been dedicated to this urgent situation, on such topics as vaccination and the “Justinflation” that my Conservative friends keep bringing up. The Conservatives are positively giddy about inflation.
    I have to wonder why they did not devote an opposition day to inflation or health care funding. It seems as if power within the Conservative Party is shifting west. Who knows. I do not know. I would not want my Quebec colleagues to feel abandoned, but this is nevertheless rather interesting.
    Earlier this morning I pointed out to a Conservative member that if we were to adopt this motion it would set a precedent for allowing an opposition member to move a motion to amend the Constitution. My colleague said that this had been done before, but by the government. This would therefore be the first time the Constitution would be amended through an opposition motion. I am not going to lie; this precedent is pretty appealing to a sovereignist.
    We know that no one wants to debate the Canadian Constitution or hear about it. Let us remember that the rhetoric of the federalist governments in Quebec City was that the fruit was not ripe enough so we could not talk about the Constitution.
    Need I remind members that in 1982, Quebec was the only province that did not sign the Constitution? We still have not signed it to this day. Perhaps we could resolve this issue through a motion.
    Need I remind members of the two unsuccessful rounds of constitutional negotiations, Meech and Charlottetown? Quebec kept whittling its demands down further and further, but despite this reduction to Quebec's five traditional demands, there was no agreement from all the provinces to amend the Constitution and offer Quebec special status. My colleagues will therefore understand why this idea of being able to amend the Constitution based on an opposition motion would excite a typical sovereignist. I am highly intrigued by the idea.
    The Constitution is our principle of political association; it is a fundamental principle. We are one of the only countries whose principle of political association was based on building a railway. That is true. If we look at the United States, their principle of political association was based on a quest for emancipation. It is ironic that we are talking about this issue today, given that the starting point for us was that a group of business people wanted to build a railway from one coast to the other, and in order to do that, there had to be a political form that emerged from the various colonies at the time. That is how the British North America Act came to be.

  (1130)  

    I find it kind of ironic that we are revisiting the subject in the present context. However, what most interests me is the possibility of amending the Constitution via an opposition party motion.
    Many political thinkers have already pondered this question, including James Tully, who has written about diversity. In his book, Strange Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity, James Tully tells us that one of Canada's biggest problems is our restrictive constitutional framework. He says it is virtually impossible to amend the Constitution, which makes it that much more difficult to recognize ethnic minorities. James Tully talks about that in this wonderful book, and his conclusion is that our constitutional rules should be more flexible. In other words, we should have the means to easily amend our Constitution.
    That is very interesting from a theoretical standpoint, but why have we not done it? Why has there never been much appetite in Canada for the kind of flexible framework that would enable us to amend the Constitution?
    I will say it. It is quite simple. The reason is, if we open this Pandora's box, it will be easier for indigenous groups to get what they have long been asking for, namely greater political autonomy.
    It is important to make a distinction. When James Tully says that minorities must be constitutionally recognized, he is referring to ethnocultural minorities. However, there are also national minorities, and in the Canadian context, we have two main groups: the minorities of the indigenous nations, which are too numerous to name, and the Quebec national minority.
    What are these national minorities asking for? They want political autonomy.
    As my father used to say, opportunity makes the thief. If we had a system that facilitated more flexible constitutional amendments, we would definitely be the first in line to try to use such measures, perhaps to assert Quebec's traditional demands, specifically, veto power and recognition of distinct status. I am sure that indigenous nations could do the same.
    Unfortunately, the federal government and the federalist parties will never allow the flexibility needed for constitutional changes to be made. If a precedent is being set today, I am curious to see how this will develop in the future.
    A constitutional amendment was made in the past, without any fuss or fanfare. In Quebec, Pauline Marois wanted to change the school boards from being divided along religious lines to linguistic ones. A constitutional amendment was needed for that to happen. It was done without too much fuss or too many political problems.
    However, we do not have a tool that would allow us, as legislators, to potentially enter into dialogue with our colleagues on the Constitution. I welcome the Conservative Party motion today, because it might be just what we need to be able to open this Pandora's box and actually have a conversation about the Constitution.
    If we do go down that road, perhaps the Quebec nation and indigenous nations could be recognized in some way. That is why I am confident that my party will enthusiastically support my colleague's motion.

  (1135)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for supporting this motion. It is a matter of fairness and justice. It is a matter of fairness to the provinces, especially to Saskatchewan. That is what the motion is asking for.
    Does the member agree with that?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague.
    I may not have focused on that aspect in my speech, but it is unacceptable to allow a company like Canadian Pacific, which according to my research makes $2.8 billion in profit a year, to not pay taxes. That is unacceptable.
    That is something that I think can be fixed quickly. With the goodwill of the Liberal Party, I am sure that we can quickly resolve that issue.

  (1140)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am wondering if the member can reflect on the amendment we have before us today in the form of a motion. It deals with an agreement that was, in principle, agreed to back in the 1960s. It dates all the way back to 1880, as has been pointed out.
    There is a general feeling on all sides and from all stakeholders, including CP Rail itself to a certain degree, although this might be somewhat dated, that there is a quite difference between a motion of this nature and some of the more complicated issues of constitutional ideas that surface from all sides of the House. Does the member recognize the difference?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, to be honest, I have to tell my colleague from Winnipeg North that I am not a constitutional expert. However, I very much appreciate the idea that an opposition member can propose amendments to the Constitution by means of a motion.
    As I said earlier, when I was a bit younger, I was interested in what James Tully had to say about flexible constitutions. Personally, I tend to think that is a good idea. If we set a precedent, it could be good for those who are trying to advance the idea that the Quebec nation could have more political autonomy. From that perspective, I find that my Conservative colleagues' motion is worthwhile.
    Madam Speaker, I always enjoy listening to the member for Jonquière. I lived in Saguenay for several years.
    The big issue before the House of Commons today is the fact that a tax loophole has cost us hundreds of millions of dollars. As we all know, we lose $25 billion a year to tax havens. There are tax loopholes everywhere. In Canada, the ultrarich avoid paying their fair share of the money that should be invested to combat the housing shortage, to reinforce our health care system and so forth.
    My question for the member for Jonquière is simple. Is it not important to eliminate all these tax loopholes?
    Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague from the NDP.
    The government is plainly complacent about tax havens and tax loopholes. There is talk of the need for major initiatives once we are out of this crisis, including with regard to health care funding. That money will have to come from somewhere.
    There needs to be major tax reform. We also need to put an end to tax havens and all the tax loopholes that are poisoning our society. I completely agree with him.
    Madam Speaker, I feel like I am dealing in antiques today. The motion we are debating would amend a Constitution that was ill-conceived and that has aged poorly. The Constitution has so many holes, it looks like moths got at it. The holes in this Constitution are costing the provinces, Quebec and taxpayers a lot of money and preventing the provinces from properly and independently funding their public services.
    What we are talking about today is a 136-year-old, billion-dollar company that cleared $2.8 billion in net profit last year and is exempt from paying taxes. As an economist specializing in taxation, my first instinct is to say this is an injustice and a relic of post-colonial cronyism.
    This tax revenue is owed to Saskatchewan, and we think that the provincial government should get this money back. I want to inform my colleagues straightaway that I will be pleased to support this motion.
    However, since we are speaking of holes in the Constitution that are costly for the provinces, I think it is difficult to ask the opposition, and especially members of the Bloc Québécois, to disregard other fundamental problems that this Constitution has created.
    As I said, the Constitution has not aged well. The Constitution was drafted in 1867, and the majority of its provisions are still in force today, but the country that drafted this Constitution was not a modern country. Health care essentially referred to field hospitals run by religious communities. Assistance for the poor was essentially charity, again run by religious communities. Education consisted of a few one-room schoolhouses and some private schools supported by charity. These responsibilities were assigned to the provinces. The Catholics were in Quebec, and they were essentially given peanuts. The Constitution was obviously drafted to ensure that Ottawa would get more and more revenue over time.
    When Canada was founded, there was no personal income tax, no corporate tax, and no sales tax. I just listed basically all of the federal government's revenue sources. Since then, all the responsibilities have remained with Quebec and the provinces, but half of the revenue has gone to Ottawa.
    That is the problem, because we have a dusty old Constitution, the spirit of which the party in power deigns to respect. The provinces have responsibilities, and they must have management autonomy and must be able to legislate in their areas of jurisdiction. What remains is the power to spend. The problem is simple, and I have explained it many times to students: Ottawa has too much cash. That would make a great headline.
    Ottawa loves to meddle in provincial affairs, loves to spend money and make legislation in areas of provincial jurisdiction, but the Constitution does not allow this. However, there is a loophole: the federal government can tell the provinces that if they do not do what it wants, it will withhold the promised money instead of giving it to them. Unfortunately, the Constitution has evolved, but not for the better. That is the problem.
    Today, we have a government that provides Canada health transfers that cover only 22% of the system's costs. When this government is asked to respect the Constitution, it spits in Quebec's face. The line that all the Liberals across the way keep repeating like trained parrots is that Quebec will not be given a blank cheque, that money is not given out without accountability.
    We tell them that it is none of their business and that health is not a federal jurisdiction. Their response, which I have been given here in the House, is that this is false and that it is a shared jurisdiction. They say that we have only to look at the Canada Health Act to see the way it is institutionalized. This act is the embodiment of the federal spending power. It is an almost unethical way of confirming that Ottawa has too much cash.

  (1145)  

    The blank cheque is Canada's Constitution, and that is not what Quebec is asking for. The Liberals have slashed funding for health care. People need to understand that. The Constitution is full of holes. It has evolved, but not for the better. That is also true for other sectors.
    Mental health is an important matter. The pandemic has shown how difficult things can be and how great the provinces' needs are in terms of mental health. That is also the case for health care and hospital capacity.
    What was the government's response? It decided to appoint a minister. Instead of appointing a minister of mental health, it should have sent money to Quebec. The issue is not that we are begging for money, but that the Constitution is full of holes as though eaten by moths. It should have been printed on cedar.
    The same goes for housing. There is currently a housing crisis. We know the Liberals well. They talk a lot and think that the problems will solve themselves. Quebec wants respect. Negotiations on housing have been been ongoing for two and a half years. We are at that point because Quebec ensures that its jurisdictions are respected and stands up for itself. That is nothing new.
    In 1951, the then premier of Quebec, Maurice Duplessis, was already turning down federal subsidies for universities, because Ottawa had already started acting predatory by then. What did Quebeckers do when Ottawa refused to give in? They forfeited their own money, just as they are doing now, just as they have done for housing, health and mental health. Ottawa wants us to give in to its conditions because it has too much cash. That is the case for social policy, for the Canada health transfer and for the Canada social transfer. Ottawa says that if we do not accept its conditions, it will not give us the money.
    I did not say I was against a universal public health care system and so on. What I said was that it is none of their business. The reason they are not minding their own business is that the Constitution has aged poorly. None of it has aged any better than the section that applies to the CPR. It is important to understand that this is not an exception. It is a major problem.
    Now I would like to share a bit about myself.
    I remember the moment when something just clicked and I decided to become an economist. I believe it was in 2001. I had read the Conference Board of Canada's report on the fiscal prospects for Quebec and the provinces. In early 2000, I was attending CEGEP. I still have the document, which has a blue binding. It showed the changing demographics and the provinces' responsibilities and how everything was going to fall apart. I should note the Conference Board is not a group of sovereignists.
    People have been saying this for a long time. The Tremblay commission in Quebec said it, and so did the Séguin commission. This was based on forecasts that proved to be accurate. What happened on the other side? Nothing.
    Former Quebec premier Bernard Landry, who was negotiating with former prime minister Jean Chrétien, had no choice but to call him a predator because of his behaviour. The Constitution has not aged well and was not well written.
    I sympathize with our friends in Saskatchewan. A mistake can be corrected. In fact, correcting one's mistakes is a sign of intelligence. I think that we will show some intelligence today on this file.
    Following this debate and after all is said and done, I sincerely hope that the CPR will be able to sing “Saskatchewan, you took my tax”.

  (1150)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I believe the member is completely out of touch with what the people of Canada, including people in Quebec, actually feel is an obligation of the federal government.
    The residents I represent, and that he is smearing, understand and appreciate that there is a need for the federal government in the area of health care. It is not good enough just to give cash. We can look at the pandemic, long-term care, mental health and other very important issues where my constituents, and I believe many of the constituents the member represents, want to see a national government presence in health care.
    Could it be the member is using a brush to paint a picture that is unfair to the people of Canada?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg North is so disconnected that I think I will ask a page to take him an adapter.
    There are 10 provincial premiers, all of whom are asking for an unconditional increase in health transfers and for Ottawa to mind its own business. Would my colleague say they do not represent anyone? Do those people not matter?
    This is the attitude I am talking about, the Liberals' attitude towards Quebec and the provinces. They would have us believe that mutual respect is tantamount to giving a blank cheque. Meanwhile, they are slashing funding. Our constituents, like those in my riding, Mirabel, need more funding for improved services and want the system to be managed by the people on the ground, not you.
    I want to remind the hon. member that he is to address questions and comments through the Chair and not directly to other members.
    The hon. member for Regina—Lewvan.

  (1155)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my colleague from the Bloc. I think there is symmetry in what Saskatchewan is going through with this Constitutional amendment: this mistake that should have been fixed in 1966.
    Are there other, comparable changes the member would like to see made to the Constitution from a Quebec point of view? It is nice to see that Quebec and Saskatchewan are on the same page. Could the member outline a few more examples of where he would like to see some fixes in the Constitution for his home province?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, as my colleague knows, if it were up to me, there would be an international border along the Ottawa River. Of course, that would not stop me from inviting my colleague for the weekend.
    I would say that the first thing would be to recognize Quebec as a distinct society and the legal implications that entails.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I really appreciate my colleague talking about the deficiencies when it comes to health care transfers to the provinces.
    As I said earlier, I met with the Canadian Medical Association's Dr. Smart yesterday. She cited that $6 billion is needed right now just to end waiting lists. We know that health care workers are stressed. They are tired. We know there is money out there, and that corporations are not paying their fair share, whether it be Canadian Pacific in Saskatchewan or those that are using tax havens or loopholes not to pay their fair share of taxes.
    Would my colleague agree that the Liberal-Conservative coalition to protect large corporations needs to end, and that large corporations that have profited from the pandemic, that are moving their money outside the country, and that have CEOs who are not paying their fair share of taxes, need to pay their fair share? Then we could have doctors and nurses, and the services that all Canadians need to protect themselves and their families.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois has always been an ally of the taxpayer in the fight against tax evasion.
    When it comes to funding health care, I would like to point out that we heard the Minister of Health across the way tell us about the pandemic and say that suddenly there was money and commitment, but only when the solution was temporary. For a permanent solution there is never one cent.
    It is important to realize that the money the provinces are asking for, and which is in Ottawa because, as I was saying, the Constitution is full of flaws, is money that was taken away from us. It is money we used to have. All we want is to go back to the way things used to be, which was more or less fair. We are not asking for heaven and earth. We are just asking for the minimum, and this government refuses to even listen.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today and speak to the opposition motion brought forward by our friends in the Conservative Party down the way. I am even more pleased to be sharing my time with the excellent member for Elmwood—Transcona.
    This motion proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Canada that would repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act and deem the change retroactive to August 29, 1966. Notably, this would remove a provision dating back to 1880, prior to Saskatchewan's becoming a province in 1905, which exempted Canadian Pacific Railway from paying provincial taxes in Saskatchewan.
    This has been an interesting issue to learn about over the past 48 hours. I understand that this motion here before us today complements a similar motion the Saskatchewan legislative assembly unanimously passed in November of last year.
    I might seem to my colleagues a bit of an unlikely speaker to this issue, being a B.C. boy and all, but I am honoured to serve as the NDP transport critic. Of course, trains transport things, and Canadian Pacific owns trains. Hence, for the next 10 minutes, Madam Speaker, I am your guy. More important, I am a proud Canadian, and I believe in the principles of fairness and responsibility, which I believe lie at the heart of this issue.
    For folks following along back home, and I will not hazard to guess how many of those there might be, I believe these are the basic relevant facts in this matter. Canadian Pacific Railway obtained access to a huge swath of our country, much of it unceded indigenous land, to build its railway. While the corporation made a significant investment, it also received substantive incentives from the federal government of the day. Among those incentives, the federal government agreed, in its contract with Canadian Pacific Railway, to exempt the railroad from paying taxes in perpetuity.
    It is surprising, I know, that a Conservative government would agree to such immense corporate welfare, but there we have it. Despite this, and for reasons that are not exactly clear, CP has been voluntarily paying taxes to the Province of Saskatchewan for a century. It is also surprising to see such voluntary corporate benevolence.
    Today, Canadian Pacific wants the taxes it has paid to the province since 2002 to be returned in the sum of $341 million on the basis that it should not have paid those taxes in the first place. I am not a lawyer, and I will not be making legal arguments today. The battery of lawyers who are engaged in the court case that is ongoing will have that aspect well in hand. Rather, the argument I will make in support of this motion is a simple moral one.
    Today, Canadian Pacific benefits greatly from the Province of Saskatchewan and from the infrastructure and services its residents have funded through their taxes. CP employees drive to work on roads paid for by the people of Saskatchewan. They utilize hospitals paid for by the people of Saskatchewan. Their kids go to schools paid for by the people of Saskatchewan.
    Ignoring, for a moment, the historic paperwork negotiated under who knows what kinds of circumstances, I doubt many in this place would dispute that Canadian Pacific has a responsibility as a corporation to contribute its fair share to the province's coffers. This is hardly a company that needs either a hand up or a handout. Last year, CP made $3 billion in profits.
    It is not as though being exempt from taxes would level the playing field on which CP operates; it is quite the opposite. After all, Canadian Pacific's main competitor in Canada, CN Railway, pays its taxes. I imagine CP's other competitors in the United States also pay applicable state and federal taxes.
    This is about fair treatment for Saskatchewan in this confederation. Saskatchewan deserves to be treated equally, with the same control over its internal affairs and taxes that every other province enjoys. The jurisdictional inequity raised in this motion unfairly denies it that. The people of Saskatchewan have made their will clear, and the unanimous passage of the same motion in the provincial legislature illustrates that there is cross-party support for this change. It is time for the House to act.

  (1200)  

    By nullifying the historic tax exemption, this motion essentially codifies into law the practice that CP has already been following for an entire century. It seems to be the right and proper thing for us to do.
    Besides a questionable historic contract, how could CP possibly argue it should not pay its fair share to the Province of Saskatchewan? People in Saskatchewan want their taxes to go to the public services they rely on, things like health care and education. They do not want them to have to pad the profits of a multi-billion dollar corporation. The money that CP Rail is demanding could be much better spent. I think everyone in the House will agree that it would be much better spent helping the people of Saskatchewan.
    The railroads, and I speak of railroads in the plural sense, had a pivotal role in the development of our country. It is one of the central narratives we are taught in elementary school, yet in many ways, it was a Faustian bargain because today we are left with corporations that wield power far out of proportion to their place in our society. Railway companies have their own private police forces that investigate their actions when things go wrong, as we saw in British Columba after the disaster that killed three men in 2019 near Field: Dylan Paradis, Andrew Dockrel and Daniel Waldenberger-Bulmer. Their families are still fighting for justice.
    Railways own vast tracks of land, much of it adjacent to communities, and this too often constrains community development and restricts public access. Railway companies design their own safety plans, which are opaque to citizens and communities and, as the auditor general found in her follow-up audit last year, are inadequately monitored for effectiveness by Transport Canada.
    Railway companies also own the tracks themselves, precluding the federal government from operating a dependable passenger rail service in much of the country during a time of climate crisis when our national bus service has been shut down for good.
    Now I certainly recognize the positive role that railways play as well. They are certainly important employers in our communities. In the community I live, in the community of Smithers, the town is named after the former president of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, Sir Alfred Smithers. Notwithstanding those things, when I talk to community leaders about their relationship with the railroads, sadly, mostly what I hear are stories of frustration.
    In light of this dynamic, which is admittedly difficult to reshape given all that has happened, I would submit that the least we should expect is that these highly profitable companies pay their taxes. Let us put an end to this historic injustice. I hope all parties in the House will come together and ensure that Saskatchewan is treated as an equal partner in our Confederation. It sounds like they will.
     Learning about this issue made me think of my mom's family, who settled in Regina in the 1800s. My great-great-grandfather, George Broder, settled in Regina in 1882, right around the same time that CP was building the railroad. His son-in-law, my great-grandfather, Neil Taylor, was a lawyer, businessman, veteran, athlete and someone who loved his own province deeply. Incidentally, he ran for the federal Conservative Party in 1945. I checked the electoral record, and I was simultaneously delighted and dismayed to see that he was trounced by someone representing a little party called the CCF.
    Now, Neil, my great-grandfather, was also known as “Piffles”, a nickname he was given in reference to a turn of phrase that was popular during that time. If someone said or did some thing that was, shall we say, extremely lacking in merit, one would say it was “piffle”. It was nonsense, rubbish, balderdash and all the other words I am not allowed to say in this place, either directly or indirectly.
    I asked my uncle Sam in Vancouver about this. He is our family's historian. I wanted to know what he thought my great-grandfather would have said about this issue if he were alive today, what he would say about a wealthy railroad company trying to get out of its responsibilities to the people of Saskatchewan. He said he would probably say that it was a bunch of piffle.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the member for his support of our motion. Saskatchewan appreciates it. It is also heartwarming to see how everyone tries to make a connection to Saskatchewan. It has been said that all roads will lead to Saskatchewan, so I am happy to see members trying to make that connection. It is truly the best province in our country.
    I understand that the railway does have a wide swath. I think that if we can find agreement on something else today, other than the motion itself, is that maybe if we had other ways to move goods back and forth across our country other than the railway, maybe with some pipelines, that would be a good start as well.
    I wonder if my colleague would agree that some pipelines also need to be built in this country.
    Madam Speaker, I certainly appreciate what my hon. friend is trying to do with his question. Now, I agree that the things that bring us together as different provinces across the country are good things indeed. I would submit that, given his province's excellent renewable energy resources, perhaps an even better opportunity is to come together around the vision of a clean energy economy, one that delivers the kind of safe and secure future for our kids that I think we all want.
    Madam Speaker, based on a number of today's comments, people listening to the debate might think CP has not been paying any taxes to the Province of Saskatchewan, and we know that to be not true. I wonder if the member could provide his thoughts on not only ensuring tax fairness but also being transparent that CP has actually been paying taxes. It has not been using that particular clause in order to avoid paying taxes.
    Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary will note that in my speech I detailed at some length the fact that CP, for some reason, has been paying its taxes for 100 years voluntarily despite a clause in the contract that clearly exempts it from doing so.
    The question I have is a similar one. Why all of a sudden is this railway company wanting its taxes reimbursed? What happened 13 years ago? Maybe there was a change in its legal team or a new staff member came in who wanted to prove themselves, but all of a sudden it is coming forward and saying that it wants 300 and some million dollars from the people of Saskatchewan and that does not want to pay taxes going forward. What changed in its philosophy as a company?

  (1210)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague and I seem to be on the same wavelength. If this Conservative Party motion is adopted and an amendment is made to the Constitution, what does he believe that would imply for Quebec, which in fact wants to revisit the Constitution?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech of the member's colleague on this matter, and I understand there are a number of long-standing grievances the Bloc would like to see remedied in one way or another. To make limited changes to the Constitution using this mechanism is something that has been done before by other provinces. It is an avenue available to every province.
    I am not a constitutional scholar, and I will leave it to those more educated in those areas to give some sense of what might be possible, but absolutely it is important that it is a living document and that we make changes as appropriate over time to reflect the will of the people of our country.
    Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise and ask the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley a question, as I have family from that part of the world. Earlier my colleague was talking about pipelines, another transportation method in Canada, and the retort was about renewable energy.
    In Alberta, we do all of the things. We do renewable energy, traditional energy and all of these things. The lack of pipelines has really rejuvenated the rail system in northern Alberta because a lot of the oil is now going out on rail. I am wondering what my colleague's comments are on that.
    Madam Speaker, we seem to be straying a bit from the constitutional matter at hand, but I will humour the question from my colleague. Obviously, transporting oil by rail or by pipeline is a risky business, as we have seen evidenced by many spills over the years and all of the damage that has occurred.
    We need to do things as safely as possible, and I have grave concerns about the safety of our railroad system. The transport committee is currently studying rail safety, and I would invite my hon. colleague to attend some of those hearings and learn about—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.
    Madam Speaker, I thought I might start off in today's debate by making a couple of disclosures.
    First, my paternal grandfather comes from Saskatchewan: Biggar, to be exact. He ended up in Transcona, which is also a rail town, because at that time, in order to serve an apprenticeship with CN, one had to do time in Biggar and then in Transcona. That is how my father's family found its way to Transcona: by working on the railway for CN, of course, not CP. CN continues to be a very important company in Transcona. It does not employ anywhere near as many people as it used to, but it still employs a lot of people, and its training centre is in Transcona just about a stone's throw away from my home, where I am speaking from today.
    We deal with a lot of challenging issues in Parliament. One of the things we can take from the tenor of today's debate and the confluence of arguments is that this is a pretty straightforward question. It does not make sense to exempt a large and profitable corporation from paying the taxes its competitors pay by virtue of something that happens to be in the Constitution from a very long time ago.
    As people have remarked, it is legitimate to wonder what changed. Why, all of a sudden, has CP adopted a very different posture, and why does it want over $300 million in taxes it paid to Saskatchewan back from the province? It had been paying its taxes without issue for about 100 years, despite having access to this exemption under the Constitution. It is clear that CP operates in a competitive market, and its competitors do not get this kind of exemption. Therefore, if we want to have a fair and competitive industry, players have to be playing by the same rules at the very least. That is why I am very happy to support this change and to protect folks in Saskatchewan from having to reimburse taxes that I think were rightly paid by CP.
     What is interesting about this feature of the Constitution that we are trying to change today is that it hearkens back to a time when government was a lot more open and honest about the extent to which it was willing to patronize large companies. However, that kind of thing is happening today. I would argue that we should be just as concerned about the kind of flagrant disregard that governments in Ottawa, whether Liberal or Conservative, have had for big companies paying their fair share. We should be just as concerned with the examples of that today as we are regarding historical examples, because they certainly persist.
    Here we have something that at least is clear-cut. It is in the Constitution, so it is easy to see. What is a lot harder to see are the details of the transactions that go on, under various agreements, that establish tax havens so that wealthy corporations and individuals are able to move their money out of Canada without paying taxes. That is a lot harder to have an informed debate about. We do have folks who have done a lot of work on this, but it takes a lot of digging. It is not spelled out in the Constitution, and we do not have a company going to court to celebrate what it thinks is its right to get out of paying its fair share.
    Instead, we have a lot of shady dealings. They are under legal agreements, to be sure, but they are shady nonetheless. We do not have appropriate access to information about how much money is leaving the country and the extent to which large, profitable corporations are getting away without paying their fair share.
    As far as I am concerned, what is happening with CP is just one small, stark example, on the scale of what is going on, of what is happening every day in the Canadian economy. Based on the best information available, and it is not a very transparent process, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that Canadians are losing out on $25 billion every year through the use of tax havens by Canada's wealthiest individuals and corporations.

  (1215)  

    We are talking about a tax bill that has accrued over the last 20 years or so that is on the order of about $300 million.
    For those who are getting up today to highlight the unfairness of CP demanding back $300 million from Saskatchewan taxpayers, which it rightly paid and should not get back, I would hope that we can take our outrage and our shock at that and transform it into some meaningful action on something that might actually make a dent in the finances of the nation. There is certainly a need to be able to pay for things that are going to support people through the remainder of this pandemic, but also that will help make investments as we try to face the climate challenge.
    Of course, there are people who say that the government should not spending any money on encouraging renewable energy or other things like this, because the government has no place in deciding these things, but CP is an interesting case study with regard to that.
    Despite all the wrongs that were part of building that railway, whether it was the treatment of indigenous people and running roughshod over their land, or the Chinese people who were brought here to work on the railway and who were killed and treated horribly, there is no question that building the railway was a central component of making Canada the country it is today. There is a lot that we could talk about regarding what was wrong with it. That is a legacy we can talk about and debate another time.
    However, it did not happen solely through the ingenuity of private entrepreneurship. In fact, there was a fair bit of government investment. We are dealing with the legacy of that government involvement today. I think it shows the extent to which the big things do not happen without public involvement. They do not happen without the involvement of government. We can look at Alberta and the government of Peter Lougheed, and the amount that government invested in developing the technology that would ultimately produce the oil sands technology that has been part of driving Alberta's economy for decades now. There was massive public investment in that.
    There is certainly a lesson to learn from this, and that is that public investment is required for the big things that help move our country forward. Canadians should not expect that some few people get to benefit from that investment and make off with the money. That is too often the case, as CP is reminding us by insisting on what it takes to be its right to not pay its fair share, even though there were all sorts of different kinds of public subsidies, whether preferential tax treatment or direct investment.
    That is not the way these things should work. If we want to build Canada, and if we want to confront the big challenges of our time, that has only ever happened with massive public investment.
    The question should not be whether the public investment happens or not. The question should be who is benefiting from that investment and how do we, as legislators and governments elected by Canadians, ensure that Canadians are the ones ultimately benefiting from that.
    While there are people who make some money along the way, we have to make sure that does not get out of hand. In a country where 1% of the population now owns 25% of the wealth, we are in a position where that is getting out of hand again. This is an interesting reminder from the 19th century, which was a case study in just how bad things are when a very small number of people controls all of the wealth and resources. It is something we should be mindful of.
    We should turn ourselves to the task of combatting the big infrastructure challenge of our time, which is climate change, with our eyes wide open, appreciating that in the past, when there have been big infrastructure challenges, government has had an important role to play. We should learn a lesson from this, which is that we need vigilance not to keep the public sector out of developing the future of the country, but to ensure that a few people along the way do not make mad money while others suffer in order to create that progress.
    Let us deal with this today but learn the larger lesson and ensure the wealthy are paying their fair share, and ensure Canadians are benefiting to the extent that they should from investments and infrastructure that we have to make.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Elmwood—Transcona for his support on this motion today. I heard him mention Biggar. When driving into the town of Biggar, Saskatchewan, there is a sign that says, “New York is big, but this is Biggar”. The hon. member can take this back to his relatives: it is a cute little sign. I have been through Biggar many times. Once again, people are still trying to make that connection to Saskatchewan, because it is a great province to be from.
    Today, we will deal with this motion and I thank my colleague for his support, but I would also ask one more thing. If he does have friends in the Senate, if he knows a few Senators, I would ask that he go and talk to those friends to make sure the Senate deals with this important motion as soon as possible. I would like to have his support with the next step, which is making sure this motion passes in the Senate, so that the taxpayers of Saskatchewan receive fairness and make sure that the corporation pays its fair share.
    I would hope to have his assistance with that, as well.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member, and I am quite familiar with that phrase out of Biggar. In fact, it was on a T-shirt that I wore quite a bit growing up. I am quite familiar with what the member is talking about.
    It may come as no surprise to the member that New Democrats are not the best people to solicit help from, when we talk about getting things through the other place. There are some historical reasons for that. I do know some senators, and I am certainly happy to talk to them, but I think it is outrageous that we need the approval of a group of completely unelected legislators who are accountable to no one in order to get something like this done.

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciated a number of the comments the member made, especially when asking if there was something we could learn from CP and the Constitutional change, and how the Constitution reflected an agreement that pre-existed Saskatchewan entering Confederation.
    Are there things that we can learn from it? For example, we have a huge investment that came from the British Columbia NDP government toward LNG, which was supported by this national government and by huge contributions from the private sector. I am wondering if the member could provide his thoughts on that issue. Is that something he would support?
    Madam Speaker, the member, of course, raises his own example. The example I had in mind was the wage subsidy. It has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars just recently, without any meaningful accountability, to companies that we have seen raise their dividend payments and reward their shareholders in all sorts of ways, and that have not been asked to pay a single dime back. I think that was a terrible example of how to manage public funds.
    The NDP called for controls at the inception of that program, and we pointed to other jurisdictions that were doing it better. To me, the wage subsidy program is the best example of the government not having learned its lesson.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his important speech. As he outlined, this is a company that had $3 billion in profits last year. It paid taxes for 100 years and now, because it sees that there is a loophole, it wants to go back and claw back $300 million. This would have a huge impact on education services and health services in the province of Nova Scotia.
    Could my colleague speak about the trend we are seeing happening right now, with big corporations putting greed ahead of the public good when it comes to corporate and social responsibility, and how governments need to stand up and make sure that those corporations are paying their fair share?
    Madam Speaker, I think governments have created a very permissive environment that has encouraged corporations to pursue their own interests. We see that in the corporate tax rate being slashed from 28% to 15%.
    I do not think that there was ever a golden era when corporations were putting the public good ahead of their private interests, but there was a time when governments required more of them in order to occupy the positions that they occupy in terms of the power and influence that they enjoy. They were required to give more back. If they were not willing to do it in the way that they behaved, at the very least they were required to do it financially, by paying their fair share of taxes. We have really seen that decline, because we have seen governments stop requiring it of them. I think that, until governments grow a spine and start standing up to big companies and making them pay their fair share, this will continue.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville.
    There is a lot of Canadian history going on in today's debate. There is so much that I had to dig up my old university notes when preparing my speech. On that note, at this time I would like to thank my economics history 206 professor at the University of Regina, Dr. Richard Kleer, for his fascinating class way back when. If Dr. Kleer is watching, I have to say that I believe my speech today is worth at least a few bonus marks in his class.
    Before I get to the Canadian Pacific Railway, I would like to talk a bit about another historic Canadian company, the Hudson's Bay Company. In the year 1670, King Charles II granted the newly formed Hudson's Bay Company a monopoly on trading posts in all lands in North America whose rivers empty into Hudson Bay, an area including parts of present-day Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut, and all of present-day Manitoba. Once King Charles II wrote up his royal charter and handed that piece of paper over to the Hudson's Bay Company, it became illegal for anyone else to operate a trading post in the land in North America that soon became known as Rupert's Land.
    This was great for business for the Hudson's Bay Company trading posts. If any other entrepreneur opened up a competing trading post, Hudson's Bay Company could simply arrest them and throw them in jail. This situation continued for 200 years, until the Hudson's Bay Company voluntarily surrendered its trading post monopoly in exchange for compensation from the government. However, the company still exists today in the form of Hudson's Bay department stores in malls all across the country.
    Imagine for a minute if the board of directors of Hudson's Bay department stores woke up tomorrow morning and decided that they wanted their old monopoly back. Imagine if they went to court and tried to shut down Canadian Tire or Shoppers Drug Mart. After all, Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart are violating the royal charter that granted the trading post monopoly to the Hudson's Bay Company way back in the year 1670.
    I hope everyone in this chamber can agree that this would be completely and totally ridiculous. Even if Hudson's Bay Company lawyers dusted off the original copy of the 1670 Royal Charter or the original copy of the 1870 Deed of Surrender and found one of the i's was not dotted or one of the t's was not crossed, it would still be completely and totally ridiculous to shut down every Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart. One way or another, we as lawmakers would not allow that to happen.
    We have almost as ridiculous a situation developing today in my home province of Saskatchewan with the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is another Canadian company that is almost as historic as the Hudson's Bay Company. The construction of a transcontinental railway was a condition of the Province of British Columbia joining Confederation in 1871. A few years later, Parliament passed the Canadian Pacific Railway Act as a way to contract out the construction and operation of the new transcontinental railway. The terms were very generous: $25 million; 25 million acres of Crown land in western Canada, including the mineral rights; a ban on new competing railways south of the main line; and certain tax exemptions for the Canadian Pacific Railway that were to last forever.
    A few years later, in 1905, when Parliament decided to pass the Saskatchewan Act to create the province of Saskatchewan, the tax exemptions granted to the Canadian Pacific Railway were included in section 24 of the act and transferred to the newly created provincial government. These terms were very generous, and rightfully so. The whole idea of building a transcontinental railway in the 1800s must have been on the same scale as NASA going to the moon in the 1900s or the prospect of sending astronauts to Mars in this century. The railway played a vital role in bringing British Columbia into Confederation and the settlement of western Canada. For its contribution, the Canadian Pacific Railway was well paid.

  (1230)  

    However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and for CP Rail, these tax exemptions did come to an end in the year 1966. That year, federal politicians, provincial politicians from Saskatchewan and executives from CP Rail sat down and came to an agreement. At that time, all parties agreed that the tax exemptions included in section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act would be discontinued in exchange for certain railway regulatory changes, and CP Rail has been paying its fair share of taxes ever since, just like everyone else.
    This is where the story should have ended. After CP Rail started paying its taxes in 1966, historians should have been able to turn the page on this chapter of our history, just like historians have long since turned the page on the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trading post monopoly. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. Recently, these tax exemptions, which are technically still on the books, have become the subject of a lawsuit in my home province of Saskatchewan.
    CP Rail has decided that it wants to go back to the good old days when it did not have to pay taxes. It wants the tax exemptions specified in section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act of 1905 to be reactivated and brought back to life so that the company no longer has to pay taxes moving forward. CP Rail is also claiming that it is entitled to $341 million in taxes that it has been paying over the years, when it apparently did not have to.
    This lawsuit is almost as ridiculous as the Hudson’s Bay Company trying to shut down Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart for violating the trading post monopoly granted to them by King Charles II in the year 1670. The only difference in this case is that technically section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act of 1905 is still on the books, so we have not quite turned the final page on this chapter of our history.
    The time has come to turn the page. While I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the contributions the Canadian Pacific Railway has made to our collective history, the time has come to treat it like any other company, and that means paying its fair share of taxes. It is finally time to repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act of 1905. I will be voting in favour of the motion brought forth by my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan, and I encourage all members to do the same.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, I hope to be able to expand upon this, but I appreciate the fact that CP did enter into an agreement back in the mid-sixties, in 1965 or 1966, as no doubt there would have been some discussions in the lead-up to it. I think it is important for us to recognize that CP as a corporation has been paying taxes. I do not know what triggered CP, whether it was a young intern or whomever, to ultimately decide this issue should be going to a court.
    Is the member aware of the situation? Do we know why CP made the decision to move in the direction of going to court?
    Madam Speaker, the short answer is no. I have done some research outside of my economics history class, I have to say, and I have come up with no answer to that particular question. Some management and directors decided this would be a good idea, and CP Rail is giving it the old college try, but I do not know what motivated them to go down this path.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague has clearly shown that it was absurd for Canadian Pacific not to pay its taxes.
    What I am having difficulty understanding is the ambivalence of our Liberal colleagues. They have seemed very hesitant to support the Conservative motion right from the start of the day. Can my colleague explain why he thinks our Liberal colleagues are being so reserved?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the question by the hon. member from the Bloc is probably best posed to the Liberals on the other side of the House. It is certainly my sincere hope that all members of the House will be supporting this motion. It is very reasonable and more than a little overdue, as I have laid out. It is my understanding that CP Rail has been paying its taxes since 1966, and it is my hope and expectation that it will be doing so moving forward.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Regina—Wascana for his contribution. It allowed us to remember the history of what we are talking about today. As a member from Vancouver Island, I cannot resist pointing out that we were promised train service and that train service ended on Vancouver Island almost 10 years ago. Maybe that is another thing we need to fix.
    I want to return to something I raised earlier. The member for Regina—Wascana talked about corporations paying their fair share of taxes. As I said before, I am glad to hear all members agreeing on that, but does that zeal for paying their fair share of taxes extend to closing down the use of international tax havens or perhaps putting a surtax on those who have profited during the pandemic?

  (1240)  

    Madam Speaker, I think everyone is in favour of everyone paying their fair share. It is our responsibility as parliamentarians to decide what everyone's fair share is. In terms of offshore tax havens, I think that warrants more than a little investigation from the CRA to see if some loopholes can be closed.
    As for profiting during the pandemic, I think it is a good thing that some companies owning a brewery or distillery retrofitted their factories to make hand sanitizer or other PPE. I certainly do not want to disincentivize entrepreneurs who have responded to the pandemic in a positive way.
    Madam Speaker, we have heard so many questions about nothing coming from the government side on this, which confuses us. Where does the government stand on this very fair and just motion?
    What did the member gather from the government's position on this important motion?
    Madam Speaker, perhaps some of the members on this side of the House should be in government someday. Then we could get this matter taken care of. My understanding is that all parties will be supporting this very reasonable motion, and I hope that applies to the Liberals as well.
    Madam Speaker, the word “unprecedented” can be overused for emphasis in this place, but I do believe that this is how we can describe the challenges we are facing as a nation at this time.
    For some context, 60% of Canadians report that they are not confident in their ability to feed their families. Inflation has hit a 30-year high, with no end in sight and no resolve from the federal government to help lower it. Housing prices have skyrocketed, with a yearly housing inflation rate of 26% and a staggering 85% rise since the Prime Minister took power. Families rang in the New Year with an increase in their CPP tax, leaving them $700 poorer this year at a time when they need it the most.
    Now is the time to address the affordability crisis. A concrete measure that the House can take right now would be to ensure that all Canadians are treated fairly in the taxes that they pay. That is why I am very proud today to stand alongside my Saskatchewan colleague and others to debate this issue of tax fairness.
    Conservatives are asking the House to adopt a simple motion to enact the decision made by all members of Saskatchewan's legislature last November. It would amend the Saskatchewan Act to ensure that CP Rail is obligated to honour its tax burden, just like every other large corporation and small business operating in the province of Saskatchewan. This sounds simple and like something that our tax-and-spend Prime Minister would certainly be in favour of, so why is there the need today for this debate? It is because even with all the economic pain Canadians are facing, the government is continuing to divide Canadians by the region in which they live.
    Our motion was brought forward late last year but was denied by the Liberals. The hard-working, innovative and resilient people of Saskatchewan are tuned in to this debate and are expecting a change of heart in the government benches to allow us to pass our motion for the benefit of the whole province.
    Just last month, the member for Regina—Lewvan brought forward a straightforward motion to repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act, a clause dating from 1905 that exempted CP Rail from income, sales, fuel and capital taxes associated with this historic main line. Saskatchewan believes that a mutual agreement between its government and CP Rail in 1966 put an end to this tax agreement in exchange for favourable federal legislation that improved the rail line. CP Rail disagrees and is now suing the Government of Saskatchewan in order to recover taxes it claims were levied unconstitutionally.
    The decision of all elected MLAs in Saskatchewan, taken in November, was clear. On November 29 of last year, the legislature unanimously passed a motion in favour of repealing section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act. By extension, it fell on our federal Parliament to do the same. That is why the member for Regina—Lewvan put forward his motion just before the Christmas recess. Sadly, the Liberals rejected our motion, refusing to let it pass at that time.
    Provinces have the right to amend respective sections of the Constitution when rights and freedoms or the welfare of their people are in play. When Alberta sought to enshrine rights and land titles to its Métis communities, that province took action to amend its constitution in 1990. In 1996, in order to codify internal procedures of its legislature, B.C. adopted the B.C. Constitution Act. Between 1876 and 1968, Quebec, Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces all abolished their legislative upper houses, requiring the blessing of our national Parliament. In multiple times in the past, Alberta and B.C. have established and then abolished multi-member electoral districts by amending their constitutions.
    In all these instances, the federal House and the Senate recognized the right of these provinces to amend their constitutions and acted accordingly. On this side of the House, Conservatives will always respect the jurisdiction of the provinces, including the ability of an individual province to unilaterally amend the section of the Constitution concerning its internal governance.
    In this case, it would be unfair to other businesses operating in Saskatchewan, including small businesses, if a major corporation were exempt from certain provincial taxes, giving that corporation a significant competitive advantage over those other businesses to the detriment of farmers, consumers and producers in our province. It is vital that every participant in our economy be able to compete and contribute on a level playing field.
    I am honoured to represent the people of Yorkton—Melville, where gems of sustainable and innovative ideas are present in the DNA of how we mine our resources, grow food for Canadians and the world, and manufacture products that are shipped worldwide.

  (1245)  

    One example is Failure Prevention Services, whose plants and offices are in Watson, Saskatchewan. Their advanced filtration technology systems are second to none, and they have developed filters for the oil and gas industry that can be cleaned rather than thrown away. Now they are developing similar technology for train locomotives.
    I also want to mention Evraz, a wonderful top-of-the-line pipeline builder of the very best pipeline in the world. They manufacture 75% of their pipeline from recycled steel. Saskatchewan has so much to be proud of, and we are contributing to the economy of this whole nation in ways that are sustainable and that we are very proud of.
    My Saskatchewan colleagues and I are so proud of the work ethic and determination to succeed in small and medium-sized businesses, charitable organizations, corporate industries and the mosaic of people who live, work and play in our province.
     No one in this place is attempting to diminish the vital work of CP Rail to serve our remote and rural communities and get Canada’s goods to market. We know how crucial those rail lines are to moving our wheat and the other products that we grow or manufacture in our province. Conservatives will continue to promote and protect our national railways as one of the only common threads that link our country together.
    I agree with my colleague from Regina—Lewvan, who asked the question about pipelines, that there should be more, but the rail line is a system that has served us well through thick and thin since the earliest days of Confederation, and we need to sustain it. We need to do more than that. I would love to see it done properly, with another railway across our nation. We need to work to develop more ways of bringing our products across the country to our shorelines and then to the world.
    When it comes to fairness and affordability for everyday Canadians, this House needs to know just how uncompromising Conservatives are, and I thank my leader and our party for this opportunity to be here today to focus on Saskatchewan and support the action that the legislature of Saskatchewan has taken for tax fairness for its citizens.
     That is all that we are asking for. There is no reason that a Canadian company should enjoy a permanent exemption from certain provincial taxes and cast that tax burden onto the residents of my province of Saskatchewan. I do not understand the silence, the quietness of the sitting federal government in this regard. It talks about being here for all Canadians and having an all-of-Canada approach, and today it has an opportunity to stand up with the people of Saskatchewan, with the government and all of the players in the Government of Saskatchewan to support this motion in the House of Commons. I certainly expect that we are going to see full support across the benches in the House today.
    We are simply asking for this House to honour Saskatchewan's attempts to ensure all businesses and residents are treated fairly by this corporation. I know that the people of Saskatchewan are watching today and are certainly expecting that we will do our due diligence and responsibility and pass this motion today in our House.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, as I had indicated previously, my understanding is that the motion will pass. I am anticipating that it will pass.
    At the end of the day, I was taken by the member's comments. It was in November when the Saskatchewan legislature passed a motion unanimously, and then a couple of weeks later, on the floor of the House, a UC motion was used to try to actually change the Constitution. Does the member feel that the debate we are having today was necessarily warranted? Did we really need to have a debate on an amendment to the Constitution?
    Madam Speaker, the reality is that this issue could have been dealt with much more quickly than it has been.
    Am I pleased that we are discussing it in the House of Commons today? Yes; as a matter of fact, I see it as an opportunity for the Liberal Prime Minister and members of that caucus to come out and say some really good things about a province that they even today seem to spend very little time reflecting on in a positive way.
    I would say to the member that today would love to hear more from him and from his colleagues in regard to supporting Saskatchewan, why they value Saskatchewan and why it is important to pass this motion.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, naturally I find the idea of opening the Constitution and finally discussing the taboo of opening the Constitution extremely interesting.
    It made me think. Canadian Pacific enjoyed tax breaks, free land and so forth for many decades. What about now? How many other companies have advantages that we know little or nothing about?
    Does my colleague believe that it would be a good thing to study this issue so that no other taxpayer has to go through what Saskatchewanians are currently experiencing?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my understanding is that CP has been paying its taxes and that this is a blip in the dynamic that has caused us in Saskatchewan to do what needed to be done. Unfortunately, back in the day, as one of our colleagues indicated, there used to be more of a sense of accepting responsibility. I believe this took place initially with a handshake and not with the proper paperwork being done, so it is good that this is happening today.
    As far as other corporations are concerned, I come from a province and a riding that depend a great deal upon larger corporations to set the stage for a lot of the things that take place in production, mining and manufacturing. I just want to give a shout-out that I am aware of the taxes that are being paid. I am also very aware of the sense of responsibility to community and the incredible investment that those organizations are making in Saskatchewan, so I would like to see—
    Let us give time for one more question at least.
    The hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby.
    Madam Speaker, I enjoyed the member's speech. I know her area of Yorkton—Melville well, and of course all of Saskatchewan has good people.
    I have two questions for the member.
    First, why, when the Harper government was in place, did the Conservatives do nothing about this? This change is long overdue. We are supporting the motion, but why did the Harper government not act?
    Second, given that the Harper government put in place massive tax loopholes that have contributed to what we lose every year now, with $25 billion in taxpayer money going to overseas tax havens, does the member believe that these massive loopholes were a mistake that led to many of Canada's most profitable corporations not having to pay any tax at all?

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, we have gone quite a while without having to hear the Harper word in the House of Commons. In this case, I will just say that this particular motion that has come to the House has come from the Government of Saskatchewan, which is doing its due diligence in making that change.
    As far as the tax havens go, I am greatly disturbed by their existence. I believe there was a fair amount of fallout at one point with the current Liberal government when the number of connected individuals who were using tax havens was discovered. I certainly think there is a need to clean that up.
    Madam Speaker, I want to first address the challenge put forward to me by the member for Yorkton—Melville. She wanted me to show how I can identify with the province of Saskatchewan.
    I am a Prairie boy. I spent a number of years living in Saskatchewan, albeit I am a Bombers fan over a Roughriders fan. Unfortunately, I have family members who are Roughriders fans over the Bombers, which I suspect goes back to the time I spent growing up in Saskatchewan with my siblings and others.
    Saskatchewan is a beautiful province. Much like with all regions of this country, I would say to my family and friends that Ottawa does care when things are happening in Saskatchewan. Whether they are constitutionally related, employment related, regarding the environment or even something such as charges on pollution, all of these things matter and they are issues we take very seriously.
    The government has always been open not only to what people are saying but also to listening to what other parliamentarians have been saying. I thought that is where I would start today.
    There has been reference made to this unanimous motion request put forward back in December, and I was one of the individuals who said, no, I did not think we should allow, through unanimous consent of the House of Commons, something to pass through related to a constitutional amendment.
    I looked at what happened in the Saskatchewan legislature, where the issue was debated. There were comments put on the record with regard to it, and I want to share some of those comments with members today. I know some people were upset when I indicated that passing a constitutional amendment through unanimous consent without any debate whatsoever in the House of Commons was not an appropriate thing to do. That is the reason I said no back in December.
    As I indicated in my remarks, I will be supporting the motion that was brought forward. Since the unanimous consent was requested back in December, I have had the opportunity to become better informed. I understand there has been outreach from MLAs in the Province of Saskatchewan to ensure and provide a sense of comfort to members on all sides of the House regarding why they put in the request.
    I want to go right to the floor of the Saskatchewan legislature, where we saw a minister highlight why we are in this situation. Mr. Wyant said, “As members of this House [the Saskatchewan legislature] are likely aware, CPR is suing the Government of Saskatchewan for $341 million, claiming a broad tax exemption under section 24.” He went on to say, “As a matter of tax policy and business competitiveness, there must be a level playing field for all businesses.”
    He goes on to highlight what I believe is a very important point, and this is one of the reasons I am very surprised a lawsuit would have even been launched. I do not want to get into the legal proceedings that much. The courts will do whatever the courts will ultimately do on the issue. However, Mr. Wyant continues to say:

  (1300)  

...it’s our view that the Canadian Pacific Railway company agreed in 1966 that it would forgo the tax exemption in exchange for regulatory changes made by the federal government. The federal government upheld its end of the agreement by making those regulatory changes which provided significant benefits to the CPR. It’s now time to ensure that our Constitution reflects that reality.
    He makes it very clear that during the mid-sixties there was a discussion that took place where CP, the province and the federal government, either directly or indirectly, engaged in a discussion about the constitution of Saskatchewan and the impact of the clause that we are debating today. The consensus and agreement going out of that meeting saw the residents of Saskatchewan and, in fact, all Canadians, ensure that CP would maintain payments or pay their fair share of taxes back then.
    For those people who might be following the debate, I do believe it is important to recognize that, since that agreement between CP, Saskatchewan and the federal government, there has been a payment of taxes. That agreement was entered into in good faith. Earlier in the comments, I read that there is a lawsuit for $341 million, which is a significant amount of money coming from a corporation. That makes me question what caused the launch of the lawsuit.
    Some may question why, in 2022, we are debating this today. Members will get a better sense of that if they look at the November 29 Hansard from the Saskatchewan legislature, where there was a resolution that was unanimously passed. I just want to pick out two things from it because it is a fairly lengthy resolution. The first of the two aspects of the resolution that I want to highlight for members is that it states:
    Whereas the Canadian Pacific Railway company has paid applicable taxes to the Government of Saskatchewan since the province was established in 1905....
    I do not know all the taxes that CP has been paying. Hopefully there will be a response from CP or someone else as to why it is that the court action has been taken, but it is important that we recognize, as this resolution states, that since 1905 the railway company has paid applicable taxes to the Government of Saskatchewan.
    The other thing I want to highlight is where it states:
    Whereas on August 29th, 1966, the then president of the Canadian Pacific Railway company, Ian D. Sinclair, advised the then federal minister of Transport, Jack Pickersgill, that the board of the Canadian Pacific Railway company had no objection to the constitutional amendments to eliminate the tax exemption....
    That is why I make reference to the fact of this agreement. CP was not looking to receive benefits from the tax exemption. In fact, it goes on:
    The repeal of section 24 is deemed to have been made on August 29th, 1966, and is retroactive to that date.
    That is, therefore, the resolution coming from the Saskatchewan legislature. Appreciating the fact that it passed unanimously, Mr. Wotherspoon from the New Democratic Party makes reference to the Saskatchewan Act and makes it very clear in his explanation stating:
    This is why as the official opposition Saskatchewan New Democrats, we’ve called for the repeal of section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act, 1905 and why we are proud to stand united as a legislature to send this motion for approval to Ottawa, the House of Commons, and the Senate.

  (1305)  

     If members are interested in the details and content of the resolution, it can be found in the Hansard of the Saskatchewan legislature of November 29. Suffice to say, it passed unanimously.
    When I look at the Constitution of Canada and the constitutional debates, I do not believe we should, through unanimous consent motions, pass a constitutional amendment. I do not say that lightly because, while I like to think I am still relatively young, I have had some experience with constitutional amendments. First it was as someone sitting in front of the TV back in 1982 watching our then prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau sign off, along with Her Majesty the Queen, on the Constitution of Canada and bring in the Charter of Rights, which was instilled in me as a very proud moment at that relatively young age but also did a lot to bring Canadians together and instill a sense of pride. Not much longer after I had witnessed that, I was inspired to get engaged in politics in a more tangible way and had the good fortune of getting elected in 1988.
    Those who are familiar with constitutional change and amendments and attempts would know that in 1988 we had the Meech Lake accord. I was a member of the Manitoba legislature when it was the only province to not sign on to the accord. Back then, because of the holdup in the Manitoba legislature, I believe the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador withdrew its original support of the Constitution. I remember the significant protests that took place both inside and outside of the legislature, and why indigenous people in particular felt empowered to a certain degree through Elijah Harper to ensure that the national and provincial governments of all political stripes understood why there was an issue with the Meech Lake accord.
    If we fast-forward from that experience to the 1990s and the Charlottetown accord, I had the good fortune, or bad fortune depending on how one wants to look at it, of being around for that debate. I remember having a debate in the north end of Winnipeg with a member of Parliament who was speaking against what I was proposing. It was Bill Blaikie, the former member of Parliament for Elmwood—Transcona and the father of the current member.
     In that debate I said I disagreed with Mr. Blaikie and that, in fact, the national government had a role to play in housing in Canada, because the Charlottetown accord, among other things, tried to give the direction that housing was an entirely provincial responsibility. There were a number of us, including me, who felt the federal government had a role to play with respect to national housing. I find it ironic today to hear the comments from the members of the opposition saying that we need to do something on the housing file, when the Prime Minister has clearly demonstrated a strong cabinet commitment to national housing through the national housing strategy, with hundreds of millions of dollars coming from Ottawa to support housing.

  (1310)  

    For example, even Bill C-8, legislation that we were debating, has a direct impact on housing. This is why I say that constitutional issues are important to all of us.
    However, sometimes constitutional changes can be all-encompassing. They can consume a great deal of time and effort and they are very difficult to achieve, which is why, when I look at governments from the past since the Charlottetown Accord, I do not believe that the mood of Canadians is to see constitutional change at this time. I do not believe that Canadians want us to be focusing on constitutional changes at this time.
    That said, as has been pointed out, there are different ways in which a constitution can be changed, and the type of change we are talking about today is very different from what we have talked about in the past. Members of the Liberal caucus understand and appreciate that the Saskatchewan legislature has passed a unanimous resolution. We understand why the timing of it is so critically important today, even though it was enacted over 100 years ago in an agreement that I will provide some comment on shortly. However, the point is that as things take place in Saskatchewan, we understand the need for the federal government to respond, and today is a good example.
    Someone mentioned earlier today that this is an opposition motion. Well, just because it is an opposition member's motion does not necessarily mean that it does not merit passage in the House of Commons or support from the government. That is why the parliamentary secretary who spoke prior to me indicated that the government would in fact be supporting the motion. We recognize that in the last election, as in the previous election, Canadians said they want Parliament and parliamentarians to work together, and where we can, we do. We do work together when there is that higher sense of co-operation, and we are seeing that with respect to this motion.
     On other issues related to this motion, there is the issue of tax fairness. This issue was brought up consistently by my New Democratic friends in particular, to try to give the false impression that members of the Liberal government do not support tax fairness. That is so wrong. One of our very first actions in government was the Prime Minister's commitment to tax fairness. He brought in legislation to put a tax on Canada's 1% wealthiest. Ironically, my New Democratic friends voted against it. We have had not one but two budgets in which hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated to try to ensure that those who are avoiding paying taxes, including big business, are held to account. We are investing more in Revenue Canada. I do not need to be told that my constituents want and demand tax fairness. We as a government, through our cabinet and with the support of the Liberal members of caucus, and I suspect even at times the support of opposition members, have brought in initiatives to ensure that there is a higher sense of tax fairness in Canada today.

  (1315)  

    Madam Speaker, I would love to dig back on the Riders and the Bombers, but that is not the focus of my question.
    When this unanimous-consent motion was brought to the House by the member for Regina—Wascana, he indicated that it was after discussion with the other parties. Now, there was discussion in the House last week when that term was not used and the individual simply said “I hope that you will find unanimous consent”, but discussions were had, I know.
    My question to the member is this: If he felt that there needed to be debate, and the Minister of Finance also gave us an answer on why the Liberals said no, why did they not just have that as part of their discussion and not have the fanfare in the House of Commons when they came out against the motion?
    Madam Speaker, I can appreciate the question. I really can.
    Often members will stand up after question period and say, “There have been discussions”, but to imply that there have been discussions does not necessarily mean that there was consent. When a member stands up after question period and says, “There have been discussions”, we should never make the assumption that it means there was consent to agree to the motion. I think we do need to take a look at that particular rule in general.
     The very first time I heard about that particular motion to any real degree was at the time it was actually being moved, and I sit on the House leadership team. There might have been something taking place during question period, but during question period it is fairly hectic. I would have been more sympathetic, but I still would have suggested a day of debate, at least, on the issue.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciated the passionate speech given by my colleague from Winnipeg North. There were some real gems in it.
    For example, he said that he was proud of the fact that Mr. Trudeau had united Canadians and made them proud. I am not too sure about that, since the average Quebecker remembers 1982 as the year the federal government betrayed them.
    The same is true for the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords, which the member also mentioned. These are two occasions where the federal government expressly denied Quebec any recognition. Those were two outright denials of Quebec.
     My colleague claimed that Canadians were not in the mood for constitutional change at this time. I recognize that we are in a pandemic. I am not crazy and I completely agree with him. However, does he not think that having a nation within Canada that has never signed the Constitution is a problem? Would he want to be forced into a marriage? Would he go along with it? There is an easy question for him.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, when I reflect back on 1982, I would have loved to have seen all provinces sign on to the Constitution. As much as I reflected on my personal history with the province of Saskatchewan, my heritage was actually rooted very strongly in the province of Quebec for many generations. In and around just south of Montreal is where my family originated. Many people living in Saskatchewan today all came from the province of Quebec. There are very passionate, strong feelings from many of my friends and families, who want to make sure that Quebec, like Saskatchewan and other jurisdictions, remains a part of the Canadian family. We have far more in common—

  (1320)  

    The hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni.
    Madam Speaker, I have heard this member talk about the NDP voting against the Liberals' omnibus bill when they were going to impose some taxes, a very small amount, on the 1%, but they failed in that bill to make sure that Amazon, Google and Facebook would pay their fair share. They failed to close tax havens and end CEO stock loopholes. We have a health care system that is starving right now. We have seen corporate taxes go from 28% to 15% under the Liberal-Conservative coalition to protect the super-wealthy.
    Will my colleague start telling Canadians the truth? They promised not to table omnibus bills, but they did, and then they misled Canadians through this story that they are taxing the super-wealthy. Will he work with the NDP on closing tax havens, ending CEO stock loopholes and making sure the ultra-rich and super-wealthy corporations pay their fair share?
    Madam Speaker, let me tell the member the truth. When I was an MLA in the Manitoba provincial legislature, the NDP continuously, on four, five, or maybe as many as seven occasions, reduced corporate taxes. At the same time, there was a need for health care funding and better management of services. As far as trying to portray the New Democrats as the only ones who fight for tax fairness is concerned, I would suggest that the member might want to do a Hansard search of the Manitoba legislature, where he will find that I was critical of the NDP for its taxation policy, which was not always advantageous to Canada's middle class.
    Madam Speaker, I am glad to hear that the Liberals have taken the time to have discussions with their colleagues over on the other side of the House to ensure that there is a good understanding about what the provincial legislature in Saskatchewan was requiring and asking for.
    Would the member agree with Saskatchewan's Minister of Justice that repealing section 24 in the Saskatchewan Act would cement Saskatchewan's place as a truly equal partner in the federation?
    Madam Speaker, in a very real sense, I believe that all provinces are equal here in Canada. I will stand up and debate that on any day of the week.
    Having said that, I recognize that this is something that is important to the Province of Saskatchewan. It is more than just symbolic, and it is the right thing for us to be doing at this point in time.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my friend's very important speech today.
    I want to delve a bit into the UC motion in question that came about in December. As my friend knows, the Province of Saskatchewan passed this legislation on November 21. The UC motion came to Parliament in December, and this is the first time we are having a debate.
     I know the member has been a parliamentarian for many years. In terms of Parliamentary practice, how important is it to have a debate on an issue as important as the Constitution?
    Madam Speaker, I would highlight that those who want to get a better understanding and see the actual resolution that passed in the Saskatchewan legislature can always go to the Saskatchewan legislature's website. If they look at the Saskatchewan Hansard for November 29, they will find the debate and the vote that took place, which clearly indicated that the motion was unanimously passed by that legislature. It was a somewhat shorter debate, but there was a debate and an explanation and so forth provided at the Saskatchewan legislature, and one would expect that, because it is a constitutional change.
    I believe that we need to revisit the way we use unanimous consent motions. Without any hesitation at all, I think we should never pass a UC motion that deals with the Constitution, given the importance of our constitutional law.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.
    It has been kind of a history lesson here today. We have heard about the Hudson's Bay Company, the Meech Lake accord and the Charlottetown accord. It has been refreshing to go back over 100 years today as we talk about the Saskatchewan Act.
    I give credit to the member for Regina—Lewvan for bringing this very important motion to the House today. I chair the Saskatchewan caucus and, for the second consecutive election, we returned 14 out of 14 Conservative MPs to the House.
    It is very important that we open the dialogue today to have a wholesome discussion on the Saskatchewan Act and what it means to my province, which has a population of 1.2 million. When we see CP Rail's profit of $341 million, I do not have to say that $341 million to a population of 1.2 million is a very substantial amount.
    We can start way back on October 21, 1880. I am going to give some history, as there has been many history lessons in the House this morning and this afternoon. It was the Government of Canada that entered into the contract with the Canadian Pacific Railway syndicate for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which we all know back then was trail-blazing. It opened this country up from east to west, part of that was Saskatchewan.
    In clause 16 of that 1880 Canadian Pacific Railway contract, the federal government agreed to give a tax exemption to the Canadian Pacific Railway company, and that is what we are talking about here today. In 1905, as everyone knows, the Parliament of Canada passed the Saskatchewan Act, which created my home province of Saskatchewan. Canadian Pacific Railway has paid applicable taxes to the Government of Saskatchewan since the province was established. That has been a topic of conversation today, but I want it on the record that it has paid taxes to the Saskatchewan government.
    CP is currently attempting, though, to use a clause in the Saskatchewan Act as justification to avoid paying any provincial taxes on its main line. This represents, as I said, an enormous revenue loss for the provincial government and the people of Saskatchewan, which only 1.2 million strong. It is only fair that CP, as a corporate giant, pays its share, on which I think we all agree in the House.
    In 1966, Ian Sinclair, then the CP Rail president, agreed to a constitutional amendment to eliminate this tax exemption. The constitutional change is the quick and efficient way to make this happen, and it should happen without delay. The Province of Saskatchewan has adopted the motion to amend the Saskatchewan Act and the Constitution of Canada during the fall sitting.
    In December, the Saskatchewan Conservative regional caucus urged the federal government to support the Saskatchewan government's approved motion to repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act. Section 24 of the act contains a contentious exemption for Canadian Pacific Railway from various Saskatchewan provincial taxes. In order for this section to be removed, though, a similar motion must now be passed at the federal level, here in the House and also in the Senate. That is why Canada's Conservatives are calling on the federal government to listen to the Saskatchewan government and support the motion that we have put forward today in the House to repeal section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act.
    The tax loss to Saskatchewan would hurt provincial services if the Liberal government refuses to stand up for tax fairness and ensure that CP Rail pays its fair share to the people of Saskatchewan. CP Rail, as I mentioned, is a corporate giant. There is no reason it should enjoy an exemption from provincial taxes. There is also no reason the government should delay responding to the provincial government's request.

  (1330)  

    Canada's Conservatives are always on Saskatchewan's side. Those tax dollars need to stay right at home in my province of Saskatchewan.
    CP Rail and the Saskatchewan government have been engaged now for about 13 years in a legal battle with the railway seeking roughly $341 million. It is coming out now because the provincial legislature in Saskatchewan passed a motion unanimously on November 29, 2021.
    In Saskatchewan legislature, just to fill us in, there are only two parties. The Saskatchewan Party is the official government and the official opposition is the NDP. Here we have the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP agreeing on one thing, that the Saskatchewan Act has to come to the House of Commons and later to the Senate.
    I have spoken to the Saskatchewan justice minister, Gordon Wyant, a couple of times, dealing with the Saskatchewan Act. The Saskatchewan justice minister was quoted as saying, and I quote, “We are going to vigorously defend the claim that has been brought by the railway to defend the interests of the people of Saskatchewan”. This resolution needs to be approved by the federal government, passed through the House of Commons right here in front of 338 members, and then on to the Senate.
    Minister Wyant has had conversations, I know, with the federal justice minister on the issue of the Saskatchewan Act. We are hoping today that the motion will move forward. It is my understanding that several MLAs in my province have even reached out to Saskatchewan senators to start the dialogue. If we can pass the motion through here, it goes to the Senate. The conversations have started not only here today in the House of Commons, but also, more importantly, in the Senate where they will have to deal with this.
    As members of the House are likely aware, CP Rail is suing the Government of Saskatchewan for the $341 million. They claim a broad tax exemption under section 24. This matter is currently before the courts, so most of us really do not want to talk about that, because it is before the court.
    Therefore, the Government of Saskatchewan believes that today it is time to repeal section 24 regardless of whether it is in force or not. If the tax exemption remains in force, I do not have to tell the members of the House, it creates a substantial inequity within our own province. $341 million would be eliminated from the taxes of only 1.2 million in our province. As a matter of the tax policy and business competitiveness, there must be a level playing field for all businesses in our province of Saskatchewan.
    We all agree that all businesses should pay their fair share of taxes, and by supporting this motion, it would send a strong signal to my province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewanians desperately want the motion today regarding the Saskatchewan Act passed. It would show federal support from that side of the house and the opposition parties. It would show that we do care about the province of Saskatchewan.
    This is an important motion put forward today by the hon. member for Regina—Lewvan. He was a member of the Saskatchewan legislature before he became a member of Parliament. He knows very well the pressures on the provincial government in Saskatchewan. He was in their caucus for a number of years and he knows first-hand that Saskatchewan, being a small province, does not have a lot of corporate businesses. CP Rail is one of the biggest, and as has been mentioned today, it makes a lot of profit. Profit is good, but at the same time, CP Rail must pay its fair share of taxes.
    On behalf of residents of Saskatoon—Grasswood, it has been a pleasure to speak to the motion moved by the member for Regina—Lewvan on the Saskatchewan Act.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to assure the hon. member for Saskatoon—Grasswood that the Saskatchewan caucus in our party is absolutely supportive of this motion, and of course, our government is supporting this going forward.
    I do want to ask the member about the Senate. I know there is an independent group of senators in the Senate. What kind of measures and discussions has the opposition had with senators to get this through the Senate?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member from across the aisle. We are here today in the House talking about the Saskatchewan Act. It would be premature for many of us to reach out to any of the senators.
    However, I can tell the hon. member there has been discussions from MLAs, maybe a couple of the MPs from Saskatchewan too, and our only Conservative senator in the Senate. We have five senators from Saskatchewan. They have signed a letter of intent. I have not seen that letter, but before Christmas I understand they did sign the letter and that is the first step moving forward in the Senate.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we agree that Saskatchewan should get its due from Canadian Pacific, because it has been owed for a long time. As I was saying earlier, Canadian Pacific received free land and tax exemptions, among other benefits.
    Furthermore, I hope someone has been in touch with the Senate, and that no one in the other place has a vested interest in Canadian National that would make it possible for CN to avoid paying taxes in Saskatchewan.
    I hope everyone in the Senate realizes that these taxes are owed to the people. CN has had enough benefits.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I think the dialogue really started on November 29, 2021, in the legislature in Saskatchewan with unanimous consent on the Saskatchewan Act. That includes the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party, which has several Conservative and Liberal members in it, as it forms the majority in our province.
    They have reached out I am sure. Gordon Wyant, the Attorney General of Saskatchewan, has reached out to the justice minister, and I am sure they have had conversations in the Senate. Unfortunately, we only have five senators. We can have that discussion, hopefully after this motion passes, and maybe we can talk to all 105 senators to feel them out on the Saskatchewan Act.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague from Saskatoon—Grasswood. As we do know, the Senate has tabled a motion very similar to the motion that was tabled here in the House of Commons, so they will be ready to move on that hopefully as soon as we have broad support from all parties when we vote tomorrow.
    How does the member think that some of the money we would be saving from CP could be used better for taxpayers in Saskatchewan? Where could some of that money go? We all agree that corporations should pay their fair share.
    I want to tell the people of Saskatchewan that we are here for them, and we are always going to be on their side. I would like the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood to explain what he could do with some of that money and where it could be better spent.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Regina—Lewvan for his advocacy on this. He has been stellar for the province of Saskatchewan in bringing this motion forward today as an opposition day motion. The Conservative government will always respect the jurisdiction of the provinces, and that is what we are talking about here. The province of Saskatchewan is very small in population.
    What could we do with that $341 million? I am not the finance minister, but if I were the finance minister of Saskatchewan, I am sure I would quickly have a list from Regina to Saskatoon.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, for his excellent history lesson and for representing the city of Saskatoon and the great aspects of that. I will try to speak a little more to rural aspects of the impact of this.
    It is my honour to rise in the House to speak on today's opposition motion regarding the amendment to the Saskatchewan Act in our Constitution, to repeal Section 24. While it has been some time since I have been able to physically be here in the House of Commons chamber, I feel very fortunate to be present today and am happy to see everyone's faces in person rather than through a screen. I know that, just like me, many Canadians are also looking forward to a return of some normalcy after the tumultuous last two years.
    As this is my first speech in the House in this 44th Parliament, I would like to thank the great constituents of Souris—Moose Mountain for re-electing me for the third time. Like all Canadians, they are experiencing and living with the frustrations and inconsistencies of the government, as well as with the many inconsistencies that have existed in our national legislation.
    Today's motion is just another example of that, and how it treats Saskatchewan differently from other provinces. Today's motion is extremely important for a number of reasons, and I am grateful to have a chance to speak on it in support of my provincial counterparts in the Saskatchewan legislature. I would like to thank all of the MLAs, their staff, the experts and the leaders at the provincial level who worked diligently to ensure that this issue was brought to Ottawa so that it could be addressed at the federal level.
    I know that I and my colleagues in the Conservative Saskatchewan caucus will do everything in our power to compel the government to act swiftly and decisively on the matter, and to end the unfair tax exemption given to the Canadian Pacific Railway, CPR.
    I would just like to point out that this is a great example of political unity, as the motion to repeal section 24 was unanimously supported by all members of the Saskatchewan legislature. They were able to put their differences aside and see the benefits that this motion had for the entirety of our province, regardless of political affiliation. This is the kind of thing that Canadians want to see here in this Parliament, yet the federal level blocked the original version of this motion, prolonging the process even further.
    The stalling on this matter only serves to deepen the divide that the Prime Minister has already created with western Canadians. Canadians expect their government to work together: to come up with ideas, to discuss, to debate and to resolve issues. I hear from many of my constituents that they expect to see a little give-and-take in a minority government, not the “my way or the highway” approach that the Prime Minister and the Liberal government have shown. We could just look out at Wellington Street to see how well that attitude is working.
    What this issue really comes down to is fairness. Every corporation in this country is required to pay taxes, so it is simply not fair to require all other businesses to pay while the CPR receives an exemption. This situation is in Saskatchewan alone, thanks to section 24. The CPR is a large profitable corporation, and in this day and age it should not have a competitive advantage over other transportation companies because of a 140-year-old contract. All Saskatchewan businesses, small and large, deserve a level playing field.
    Speaking of fairness, exempting the CPR from paying taxes means that everyone else has to make up the difference and pay more than their fair share. As I previously stated, this puts all other transportation companies at a competitive disadvantage, something that is rarely a benefit to the regional or national economy. Competitiveness is an integral part of the fabric of Canada's economy, and we need to foster and encourage it in every logical sense.
    Ultimately, every Saskatchewan small business, every Saskatchewan professional, every Saskatchewan employee, union or non-union, every farmer, every rancher, every trucker, every Saskatchewanian will have to pay out of their pocket if this is allowed to linger.
    One of the phrases I often use in my speeches here in the House is the trickle-down effect, and it is certainly relevant in discussing this tax exemption. If the CPR is tax exempt, that means everyone else pays extra. While on the surface it may look like this only affects other large transportation companies, the trickle-down effect means that each and every resident of Saskatchewan would have to help foot the costs through increased taxes of their own. When one adds the continuous raising of taxes such as CPP, EI and the Liberal carbon tax, life quickly becomes unaffordable. This is not to mention the increased costs to local communities, RMs, towns and villages due to the RCMP pay increases that are being downloaded to them.

  (1345)  

    In my riding, an increase to already high living expenses is the very last thing that residents need, but it is unfortunately what they have come to expect under the Liberal government. Many communities have already suffered due to things such as the Liberal phase-out of coal-fired power, and the government's unfulfilled promises to those affected by it. People are experiencing fear and uncertainty for their futures, and the threat of higher taxes only makes that worse.
    The Just Transition Task Force gives money for groups to study the transition, but little for the future. Putting some money up to fix roads may help, but when all the young people move away to find jobs elsewhere in the country, who will pay the taxes to keep these businesses and roads in good condition?
    There is also the matter of how keeping section 24 could hurt small businesses across the province, including those in communities that are already grappling with how to make ends meet. I cannot stress enough the importance of small businesses in my riding. In rural areas such as Souris—Moose Mountain, they do not just serve as places to buy necessities. They are also informal gathering places for the community, and many small business owners generously give back to that community when they are able to.
    We need to do everything in our power to ensure that our businesses stay viable, especially following the hard two years because of the pandemic. I know that we Conservatives are intent on ensuring that not one cent of tax revenue owed by a profitable corporation is picked up by the Saskatchewan people, and I hope the Liberals are as well.
    The respect for, and support of, jurisdictional authority is fundamental to the successful operation of this country. In matters such as this, it only makes sense to allow any individual province to unilaterally amend the section of the Constitution that deals exclusively with its own internal governance, and we Conservatives support this measure.
    Furthermore, Saskatchewan is the only province in the country that is having to rectify an issue such as this one, which should provide even more incentive for the federal government to do whatever is possible to level the playing field.
    As MLA Wyant stated in his remarks to the Saskatchewan Legislature on November 29, 2021:
    Section 24 is a relic of an earlier time when Saskatchewan was not treated as an equal partner in Confederation.
    My province and its residents should not be penalized simply because Saskatchewan entered Confederation in 1905 rather than in 1880, when this contract with the CPR was signed. Unfortunately, many people of Saskatchewan have lost faith in the federal government's ability to treat them equally or to act in their best interests.
    The Prime Minister says a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, but I can tell you that my constituents do not remotely feel that. They are not even equally treated by the Liberals. That is evident from the fact that the candidate they had in the last two elections never showed up during the debate, or at any time in the riding, and received less than 4% of the vote.
    The Prime Minister continues to talk the talk, but fails to walk the walk and the divide between western Canadians and the rest of Canada keeps getting wider. One only needs to walk outside to see how badly the Liberals have failed to foster any sense of national unity. They sit on their hands and make empty promises. It is no wonder that western Canadians are feeling disillusioned by a government that continually ignores them.
    It is also on the current government to make progress on reducing outdated and ineffective red tape, so that other jurisdictions will not have to deal with issues like this in the future. This is a win-win-win situation: The federal government gets to remove some red tape. The province has clarity on the matter going forward. The people of Saskatchewan will not have to pay increased taxes because of the exemption to a profitable company. I can see no reason why the Liberals would block this motion, unless it is to punish the people of Saskatchewan for not giving them a single seat in the last two elections. They may say otherwise, but based on their past disregard for the west, it is not difficult to read between the lines.
    To briefly quote MLA Wotherspoon from the Saskatchewan legislature, “The elimination of this jurisdictional inequality is important”. We agree with that. Saskatchewan deserves the same recognition from the federal government as all other provinces and territories, and until this motion is passed the province will remain at a disadvantage.
    In conclusion, it is truly in the best interests of all parties to take the lead set by members of the Saskatchewan legislature and vote unanimously in favour of today's motion. It will only have positive implications and increased fairness for Saskatchewan's businesses and individuals. I call on the Liberals to do the right thing and vote in favour of repealing section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act.
    Madam Speaker, I do not quite understand the speech that the member has just delivered. One would think he had given it on the assumption that the government was not supporting the motion. The government has been very supportive of all things within Saskatchewan. Here we have a motion that is rooted in an all-party, unanimously supported motion from the floor of the Saskatchewan legislature, which we have said that we are supporting. That means we are voting in favour of the motion.
     I do not know why the member espouses hatred from this government toward the people of Saskatchewan or the west. I am from the west, and I think that things are looking better today than they were during the Stephen Harper era. Why will he not recognize a good thing and support the Liberals supporting—

  (1350)  

    The hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Winnipeg North for his illusional thought, because the history of the government has indicated that the Liberals do not show that support for the west. Perhaps forgive me if I do not take the member at his word, but until I see that hand raised during a vote, I do not trust the Liberals to say what they are going to say. Canadians in western Canada and in my riding do not trust the current government.
    We do not raise hands to vote in this chamber.
    The hon. member for Drummond.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I made a note of that for later.
    I echo what the member for Winnipeg North said a few minutes ago. There seems to be a consensus on this motion, and yet the Conservatives still thought it was a good idea to make this the subject of an opposition day. My question is mainly one of curiosity.
    After the motion is adopted by the House of Commons, what other obstacles are our colleagues concerned about in this file?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's point. Ultimately, there is a lot that we need to move forward with in the government and in this Parliament. What I am trying to get through is that Canadians want to hear that. They want to see people sitting around and talking. They want to see, in a minority government, this individual coming up with an idea, us coming up with an idea and the Liberals coming up with an idea, discussing that around the table and then bandying it about so that we can have a uniform answer. Unfortunately, we are not seeing that.
    The prime example is what we see with the truckers on the street. Some of them just want to be heard and have that conversation, such that we can put that out as a uniform package as opposed to one group individually.
    Madam Speaker, it is my honour to stand today as a person born in Saskatoon who spent many summers at my grandfather's farm in Asquith, Saskatchewan. I just want to give a shout-out to the Saskatchewan NDP members who have been fighting for this for years, and I thank all of the House for what looks like it could be a unanimous vote on this.
    Does my colleague agree that there are opportunities to close tax loopholes for other large corporations that are benefiting off the backs of Canadians right now?
    Madam Speaker, I am so glad to hear that my colleague is from Saskatoon originally, that she has been to rural Saskatchewan to see exactly where things are, and that she truly understands the rural challenges that rural Canadians have. I appreciate that.
    The member's comment is good. The issue is on big businesses, etc., and how we need to look at that. However, again, it comes down to the same discussion. We need to have that conversation. We need to discuss it and come up with ideas and work together to make this happen. That is what is expected by Canadians at this time. They want to hear that throughout Canada from every one of us. They want to hear us talking together. They want to hear us expressing that to everybody, and they want to see it here in the House. I ask, and implore, that this continue.
    Madam Speaker, it is great to be here with all my colleagues, both physically here in the House and virtually. I am honoured to take part in this debate, as a westerner by birth and someone who lives in Ontario now. It is always great to support my colleagues in the beautiful province of Saskatchewan.
    Today we are considering a request from Saskatchewan to amend a part of the Canadian Constitution. It is a small part, it is true, but such a request deserves our immediate attention because it is long overdue. Parliamentarians who wish to do so should have a say. We are having this debate because on November 29 of last year, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan unanimously passed a resolution to repeal a section of the Saskatchewan Act.
    History buffs, and I know there are many in the House, will know this act received royal assent in 1905. It is best know for having created the province of Saskatchewan, and it was adopted at the same time as the Alberta Act, creating the province of Alberta. Both were created from parts of the Northwest Territories. Alberta and Saskatchewan became the eight and ninth provinces of Canada on September 1, 1905. Both acts were enshrined in the Canadian Constitution in 1982, and this why the change requested by Saskatchewan requires an amendment to the Canadian Constitution.
    The resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan specifically calls for the repeal of section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act. This section relates to the clause of a contract signed in 1880 between the Government of Canada and the founders of the Canadian Pacific Railway company.
    I want to note that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.
    At the time, Saskatchewan was not yet a province and Sir John A. Macdonald was the Prime Minister. In a nutshell, the clause exempted the CPR from certain federal, provincial and municipal taxes.
    As noted in Saskatchewan's resolution, a large corporation should not be exempt from paying provincial taxes. I agree with this assessment. Our government has been very clear that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, and that certainly includes corporations.

  (1355)  

    We are focused on strengthening the middle class and building an economy that works for everyone. To do that, Canadians need a tax system that is fair and equitable. It is why we cut taxes for the middle class and asked the wealthiest 1% to pay a little more. It is also why we want to make sure companies, including large digital corporations, pay their fair share of tax in Canada.
    Corporations need to pay a fair share of tax in the jurisdiction where their users and customers are located. Whatever the historical context, there is no reason in this day and age the CPR should get the benefit of a tax exemption that no on else receives. It is not consistent with Canada's current tax policies, nor with its fiscal policies.
    If the Government of Saskatchewan wants to make the tax system fair, it will wholeheartedly find support on this side of the House. It is great to see collaboration among the parties. It is what Canadians sent us here for: to work for their interests and make this country a better place.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the importance of delivering services to Canadians in a timely and efficient manner. Our economic response plan has helped Canadians and businesses weather the storm, including the wonderful and kind people of Saskatchewan. Let me share some of the specifics with the House.
    Thus far, the federal government has allocated more than three million doses of COVID vaccines to Saskatchewan. Several million rapid tests have also been shipped to the province. All of that was free of charge.
    The Canada emergency wage subsidy has protected more than 100,000 jobs in Saskatchewan. About 30,000 loans totalling $1.6 billion have been made to Saskatchewan businesses through the Canada emergency business account. More than 240,000 Saskatchewan residents received support through the Canada emergency response benefit at some point. Out of a population of 1.1 million, that is more than one in five people, or over 20%. In addition to this, in 2021-22, Saskatchewan is receiving $1.3 billion through the Canada health transfer and an additional $478 million through the Canada social transfer.
    Canada works best when governments work collaboratively in the interest of Canadians. In this regard, I would like to point out that the “land of living skies” is one of the jurisdictions with which the federal government has entered into an agreement to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.
    I will interrupt the hon. member for Statements by Members. He will have five minutes after question period to conclude and take questions.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Leonard Braithwaite

    Madam Speaker, I am so proud to stand here in the House of Commons today during Black History Month to recognize Canada's first Black parliamentarian. Mr. Leonard Braithwaite passed away in March 2012, but his legacy lives on, and I am personally grateful for the path he paved for me and many others.
    Mr. Braithwaite's career and commitment to this country were extraordinary. He served in World War II in the Canadian air force, graduated from Harvard Business School, obtained a law degree from Osgoode Hall, practised law, was elected as a school board trustee and city councillor, received the Order of Canada, served as a bencher in the Law Society of Upper Canada, and in 1963 broke barriers when he became the first elected Black person and parliamentarian serving at the Ontario legislature. However, he will be remembered most for ending the segregation of schools in Ontario and for welcoming women to serve as pages in the Ontario legislature.
    I thank Mr. Braithwaite for his commitment to building a better country and for inspiring so many Black Canadians who have followed his path to serve.

Gold Medal Congratulations

    Madam Speaker, I am rising today to celebrate the accomplishment of a local hero in Barrie, Alex “Ali” Massie. Ali, at the age of 16, and in the prime of his athletics, was in a horrific wakeboarding accident that left his left leg amputated from the knee down. Ali was in the hospital for 13 weeks. During this recovery time, he was informed that he would no longer be able to pursue his much-loved sporting activities. Ali's determination and willpower did not allow him to accept this outcome. With the full and unwavering support of a loving and caring family, Ali persevered to continue with his sporting pursuits. He showed incredible perseverance and determination over many years, which has culminated in great success.
     On January 22 of this year, Ali and his teammate Tyler Turner won the gold at the World Para Snow Sports Championships in Lillehammer, Norway, in the snowboard cross team event. I hope this good-news story encourages everyone, regardless of their abilities, to learn from Ali's example of what can be accomplished with determination, courage, hard work and a positive outlook.
    What a great job by Ali. We will be cheering for him in the Paralympics. He is a true hero and inspiration to all.

Joan King

    Mr. Speaker, late last month, our North Shore community lost someone very special. Joan King was a community builder, an ardent supporter of local organizations and an early champion for the environment, spearheading issues like biodegradable bags.
     Joan was very engaging. She knew exactly how to bring people together and rally them behind an important issue. She never let politics get in the way of what was best for her community.
    Joan served the people of North Shore tirelessly for over 20 years, first as a school board trustee and then as a city councillor beginning back in 1985. Even after leaving city council in 2000, Joan remained very involved and continued to advocate for our community.
     Joan has had a lasting impact on our community, and I know her memory will continue to inspire many of us for years to come. I am very proud to have known her.

[Translation]

Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée

    Mr. Speaker, today, I would like to recognize the absolutely outstanding work of Denis Villeneuve, an extraordinary filmmaker whose most recent film received no less than 10 Ocscar nominations.
    Dune: Part 1 is nominated for best picture, best adapted screenplay and best production design, overseen by Patrice Vermette. We are once again amazed at the extent of Villeneuve's genius, and we wish him and his team the best of luck at the Oscars.
    While one of our great filmmakers is being honoured in Hollywood, I cannot help but think about Jean-Marc Vallée, who passed away less than two months ago. This brilliant filmmaker who brought us C.R.A.Z.Y, Dallas Buyers Club and Big Little Lies was a master at portraying human nature. He was clearly one of the artists who contributed to the incredible development of Quebec cinema and the international recognition it has achieved. He would certainly be proud to see his friend Denis Villeneuve's success today.

Teacher Appreciation Week

    Mr. Speaker, 40 years ago, one of my high school teachers organized a field trip to visit Parliament in Ottawa. Little did she know what a profound influence this visit would have on my life. This visit sparked my passion for politics, and it put me on the right track to proudly represent the people of Alfred–Pellan today.

[English]

    My admiration for the teaching profession knows no bounds. I tip my hat to this noble profession, for teachers are artists who sculp the minds of our youth to shape our future.

[Translation]

    As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, I tip my hat to these talent makers who are dedicated to shaping our leaders of tomorrow.
    Thank you to all educators.

[English]

    I thank them for caring for our children.

  (1405)  

Freedom of Speech

    Mr. Speaker, prior to my time in Parliament, I served in municipal government. I was encouraged to speak up on behalf of the people who put their trust in me.
    I am concerned I do not have the same freedom to ask legitimate questions about the government or popular narratives of society. In the past two years, many of the people in my riding have expressed concerns about their rights and freedoms. We say every Canadian has individual rights and freedoms, but our right to free speech is under attack. I am not talking about hate speech, but about having one's own opinion or questioning the government or society's popular narrative. For me, it seems that if someone asks questions about or does not agree with this narrative, their voice is shut down by hateful rhetoric, labelling them racist, misogynistic or a conspiracy theorist.
    What has happened to our freedom of speech? I hope we can all work to re-establish this core principle in our democratic society.

Global Vaccine Equity

    Mr. Speaker, we need to vaccinate the world to save lives, protect our economic recovery and prevent the next variant. As it stands, of the 10 billion doses administered to date, only 10% have been administered in low-income countries. This not only falls short of our moral obligation to those who have less. It also means continued supply chain disruptions and the potential for a dangerous variant that could undo all of our sacrifice.
    We know that the best way to prevent the next variant is to stop unconstrained spread, and that requires vaccine equity. That is why I have introduced Motion No. 43 to call on our government to expedite its committed donation of 200 million doses, provide at least an additional $1.1 billion in the coming budget towards the ACT-Accelerator and contribute to global manufacturing capacity, including support for the TRIPS waiver.
     When we look back at this time in history, we should see that Canada played a leading role in addressing global vaccine equity, the most important intervention to end the greatest crisis in our lifetimes. Having spent hundreds of billions on our own domestic pandemic response, we should spend a fraction of that to save lives around the world and to prevent the next variant.

Foreign Orphanages

    Mr. Speaker, a unique collaboration between two remarkable Yukon women, Morgan Wienberg and Kelly Milner, is poised to change how the world looks at international orphanages and child exploitation.
    In 2010 after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, a young high school graduate called Morgan Wienberg travelled to help. Ten years later, Morgan has slowly unravelled the story of corruption in many child orphanages, not just in Haiti but around the world. While helping to reunite children with their rightful families, Morgan founded a small organization called Little Footprints Big Steps that aims to protect children coerced into so-called orphanages and reunite them with their families.
    This journey and Morgan’s call to action to stop voluntourism and address human trafficking in orphanages around the world is explored in Yukon filmmaker Kelly Milner’s documentary film, Not About Me.
    As Morgan and Kelly continue to raise this critical issue, it is time for us to rethink and reform our support for foreign orphanages.

Heart Month

    Mr. Speaker, February is Heart Month in Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation is running its annual fundraising campaign.
    Approximately 750,000 Canadians face a daily struggle with heart failure, and last November following a heart attack, I became one of them. I encourage everyone listening to learn and regularly review the signs and symptoms of a cardiac episode. Swift action and diagnosis could be the difference between life and death. I personally thought my symptoms were minimal, but I got checked out anyway and thank goodness I did.
    I must recognize my doctors at Estevan, Dr. Sheikh and Dr. Tsoi, for their quick action and continued care. I would like to thank the staff of Regina General Hospital cardiac care unit, including the doctors, nursing staff and technicians, for their commitment to providing quality care for their patients. I would like to specifically mention my cardiologist, Dr. Lavoie, and my angioplasty specialist, Dr. Booker. These incredible doctors are the reason I am still here speaking to the House today, and I cannot thank them enough.
    Finally, to those who say politicians do not have a heart, I now have surgical proof I do.

  (1410)  

Child Care

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today on an issue that is important to the residents of my riding of Davenport: child care.
    Located in the downtown west part of Toronto, Davenport is still largely a working-class to middle-class riding with many households struggling to make ends meet. Since the Government of Canada announced its ambition for a $10-a-day early learning and child care plan across the country, the federal government has signed agreements with every single province and territory except for Ontario. Indeed, in some provinces, families are seeing a reduction of overall child care fees of 20% or more.
    At a time when the Canadian economy is struggling with higher costs largely due to the global supply chain, every additional dollar makes a big difference. Our federal government has been and is willing, ready and able to sign a deal with Ontario. On behalf of the residents of Davenport, I am asking the Province of Ontario to not waste any more time and step up to sign the child care agreement that would deliver much-needed savings for the hard-working families of Davenport.

COVID-19 Response Measures

    Mr. Speaker, COVID-19 has been absolutely devastating for Canadians. During the last election, the Prime Minister ran an extremely divisive campaign and, since that election, I have heard from so many Canadians and people in my riding, people who lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates and people who had to have their children vaccinated to play hockey. They are hurt. They are exhausted. They deserve better.
    Conservatives have been calling for a plan, a plan to stop dividing Canadians and a plan to lift restrictions and get us back to normal. I am so proud that the member for Louis-Hébert has shown so much leadership, recognizing the devastating consequences of lockdowns and the lack of a plan to move forward. If only the Prime Minister had the courage and the leadership shown by the member for Louis-Hébert.
    Unfortunately, our country and Canadians will continue to suffer from the Prime Minister's lack of leadership and his divisive attitude.

COVID-19 Response Measures

    Mr. Speaker, I applaud the courage of the member for Louis-Hébert, who stood up to the tone-deaf Prime Minister, calling on his government to stop politicizing the pandemic and stop dividing Canadians. Those speaking out against the mandates and restrictions are not white supremacists or extremists like the Prime Minister tries to label. They are everyday Canadians who just want a clear path forward out of this pandemic so they can get on with their lives.
    Canadians' lives, businesses and mental health have all been devastated and our Conservative team has been asking for this clear path forward for the last year. True leadership unites people no matter their views, but the Prime Minister demonizes anyone who does not agree with his ideologies, calling people racist, even though he did blackface and kicked strong ethnic women out of his caucus who stood up against his corruption.
    It is time for the Prime Minister to stop politicizing the pandemic and start listening to Canadians who have suffered enough. Canadians need hope. They need leadership and they need action now for a path forward out of the mandates and restrictions. We all owe it to Canadians to keep our land united, strong and free.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, supporting small businesses is very important, especially during COVID-19. Last month, my city received a grant of $945,000 from the “My Main Street” local business accelerator program. This will go toward supporting and improving six main street business communities in Brampton.
    Residents of Brampton know how important our small businesses are to our city. People go to them for a cup of coffee, to shop for new clothes and to gather with their families for meals, but like so many businesses, they were hit hard by the pandemic. This is why this grant will help to rebuild them across the city.
    Our government recognizes how uncertainty and COVID have impacted small businesses, which is why programs like “My Main Street” and others have been developed to help owners support and grow their businesses in Brampton and across the country.

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, Pat, a senior in Nanaimo—Ladysmith, is one of many seniors being punished for rightfully accessing CERB. As a result of GIS clawbacks, she is now left with a budget of only $70 a week for groceries. Since the clawbacks, she has barely been able to keep food in her fridge.
    Organizations in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, such as Nanaimo Family Life, are working tirelessly to support vulnerable seniors throughout the pandemic. One of their frontline staff recently told me the GIS clawbacks were like pouring gasoline on an already dire situation for low-income seniors who are struggling with the affordability crisis. Pat and others like her should not be held responsible for the government's mistakes.
    It is time for the government to do what is right and put this much-needed income back into the pockets of seniors now.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Agreement between the Cree Nation and Quebec

    Mr. Speaker, 20 years ago, Grand Chief Ted Moses and Premier Bernard Landry signed the Paix des braves, an historic agreement between the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec.
    Twenty years ago, the Cree Nation and Quebec entered into a crucial economic partnership that helped both of our nations. More importantly, it marked the official beginning of a genuine nation-to-nation relationship, a relationship based on respect.
    Twenty years later, the relationship between the Cree Nation and Quebec is not perfect. It must be maintained. The Paix des braves is not universally embraced, does not erase history, and cannot take the place of reconciliation. However, it is clear that this agreement marked an economic, social and diplomatic turning point.
    While signing a modern treaty like the Paix des braves is neither the first nor the last step toward self-determination for indigenous peoples, it can be seen as a major step. Twenty years later, it is still in that spirit that we must look to our shared future.

[English]

COVID-19 Response Measures

    Mr. Speaker, it has been an eventful several weeks in Ottawa, but earlier today, Canadians witnessed a moment of true courage from the Liberal member for Louis-Hébert and the chair of the Quebec Liberal caucus when he spoke out against the Prime Minister's dividing and stigmatizing of Canadians.
    It is also encouraging that other members of the Liberal caucus may have also seen the light. The Quebec caucus chair said, “I can tell you that I am not the only one” to have a certain discomfort on different levels regarding the direction the government is taking.
    Canadians have been looking for leadership from the Prime Minister, and we can see from the protest outside that he is still hiding. I encourage all my colleagues on the Liberal benches to speak out against the Prime Minister's divisive approach and discrimination against Canadians. After all, as the Prime Minister said, “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”

[Translation]

Eleanor Collins

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, February is Black History Month. Today I want to pay tribute to an exceptional Canadian woman, the legendary singer Eleanor Collins.
    Eleanor, now 102 years old, had an illustrious career as Canada's first lady of jazz. She was the first woman and first Black artist to star in her own television show in Canada. Eleanor Collins broke down racial barriers, paving the way for more diversity on the stage and in the entertainment world.
    Eleanor Collins's music brought together people from different cultures and backgrounds during a time of strong racial tension. Music has the power to bring people together, spread love and touch our souls.
    Eleanor made our lives just that much more beautiful.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to lockdowns and mandates, we are seeing things change very quickly, and rightly so. Dr. Tam has said that vaccine mandates should be re-evaluated, and today the chair of the Quebec Liberal caucus clearly and strongly stated it is time to end the divisiveness, end the politicization and end the mandates. We Conservatives could not agree more. This cannot be a slow and dragged-out process simply because of the Prime Minister's ego, pride or denial. Canadians are too tired. Canadians need hope.
    Will the Prime Minister follow the science, follow the evidence, end the restrictions and end the mandates?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, everyone is sick and tired of lockdowns, of the measures we have had to do, of the sacrifices we have had to make, but Canadians have continued to step up over the past two years. They have been there for each other, have been there to get vaccinated. That is the unity we have seen across the country of people who have been there for their neighbours, who have been there for their frontline health workers. That is what Canadians are going to do. That is how we get through and get back to the things we love.
    We are going to continue to follow the science. We are going to continue to have Canadians' backs. We are going to continue to protect people's lives.
    Mr. Speaker, countries like Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Israel, the Czech Republic, the U.K., Spain and Denmark are all removing restrictions and mandates, and they are all countries that have a lower vaccine rate than Canada. Here in Canada, though, we have a Prime Minister who refuses to lead and instead is being divisive. I have to agree with the MP for Louis-Hébert when he said, “People don’t know where public health ends and politics begins.”
    Canadians want their lives back, so again I ask the Prime Minister, will he follow the evidence? Will he follow the science, end the mandates and end the restrictions quickly?
    Mr. Speaker, every step of the way we have had Canadians' backs by following the science, by working closely with—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. Leader of the Opposition asked a question. She is trying to hear, but she cannot hear above all the heckling and shouting that is going on. I am going to ask everyone to just keep it down so that she can hear the answer coming from the Prime Minister.
    The Right Hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, from the beginning of this pandemic we have followed the science and we have had Canadians' backs. We have actually seen a less severe impact on lives, on livelihoods and on our economy than many other countries, including the ones that the Leader of the Opposition named.
    We will continue to follow the science. We will continue to lean on each other as Canadians as we make it through this pandemic. We know it is tiring and we know it is exhausting, but we also know that having each other's backs is the way through this pandemic.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has politicized the pandemic and been divisive. Even his own members are seeing it. Now countries around the world are opening up, and even here in Canada, provinces are opening up. They are following the science and the evidence, whether it is from Dr. Henry in B.C. or Dr. Moore in Ontario. They all agree we have to learn to live with COVID. Conservatives believe that living with COVID means opening up and ending the mandates, and I believe there are some Liberals who believe the same thing.
    Will the Prime Minister follow the science, end the lockdowns and let Canada once again be the true north, strong and free?
    Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to hear the Conservatives finally talking about following science, because that is something that they have fallen down on throughout this pandemic, whether it was not choosing to get vaccinated or whether it is continuing to debate the effectiveness of public health measures. Fortunately, we have been working with provincial premiers right across the country to bring in the kinds of restrictions and the kinds of mandates that have saved Canadian lives.
    Unfortunately, we see Conservatives continuing to both call for an end to the protests from in here and support them out there. They need to be more responsible leaders to get through this and to play less politics.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the truth came out this morning.
    The member for Louis-Hébert and chair of the Quebec Liberal caucus said, “I can’t help but notice with regret that both the tone and the policies of my government changed drastically on the eve [of] and during the last election campaign. From a positive and unifying approach, the decision was made to wedge, to divide and to stigmatize.”
    Did the Prime Minister himself make that decision to divide people so he could win the election?
    Mr. Speaker, the decisions the government made during the pandemic were made to save lives. As we know, a record number of Canadians have been vaccinated, and we lead the rest of the world in vaccination rates.
    Canadians know that being there for one another is the best way to get through this pandemic. I get that people are fed up and tired. They want this to be over. The only way to do that is through science, not by playing political games, which is what the Conservative Party is doing, unfortunately.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister did not answer my question.
    One of his own MPs, the Quebec caucus chair and member for Louis-Hébert, is calling for an end to vaccine mandates. He believes that his government's decisions are not sufficiently backed by science. He was very clear in saying that someone in this government has deliberately chosen to take a divisive approach that stigmatizes certain people.
    Was this decision to politicize the COVID-19 crisis for partisan purposes taken by the Prime Minister himself, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I completely disagree with the hon. member, because all government decisions have been made to keep people safe and to get us through this pandemic. This includes vaccine mandates, which help prevent further restrictions.
    People who are vaccinated can get back to the things they love. The Conservatives have unfortunately been fighting against this from the beginning, but we are here to encourage vaccination and to make sure we get through this pandemic.
    We are all fed up. We all want to get through this, and the way to do that is with science.

COVID‑19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, the situation is far from perfect, but we are making progress. Order has not yet been restored, but an injunction has reduced the number of honking horns. Quebec City worked together with the Government of Quebec to set the course for dealing with the protests. The Prime Minister reappeared in the House, which is good.
    A crisis task force was created. A crisis task force is a means, not an end. It has to be accountable to the highest authorities, including Parliament. Has the Prime Minister brought in a measure to ensure that Wellington Street and Parliament Hill will be liberated this Friday?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have spent two years fighting the pandemic. They are tired. We have heard them. Now the people of Ottawa need things to go back to normal.
    We are doing everything we can to help the City of Ottawa regain control of the situation. This afternoon, I will be talking to Mayor Watson again to discuss how we can best support him. My goal is to help the people of Ottawa get the support they deserve. We will all stick together to get through this challenging time.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, let us hope that this Friday is not going to kick off another weekend like the previous ones.
    Another voice has been added to those of Quebec and the provinces. According to the member for Louis-Hébert, the government's position on health transfers is nothing less than untenable. Increasingly, we are realizing that a more robust health system would have reduced the need for restrictions and perhaps would have prevented some of what we are seeing and experiencing in the streets today.
    Is the Prime Minister ready to reconsider our proposal of holding a summit on funding for health care?
    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Québécois knows full well that health care summits are not held with the Bloc Québécois but with the provincial premiers. These conversations with the provincial premiers are ongoing.
    I can point out that in addition to the $43 billion that we transfer every year for health care systems, over the past two years the federal government has invested an additional $63 billion in health because of the pandemic.
    We will continue to be there right now to invest in health, but also in the years to come to support the provinces as they deliver our health services.

[English]

COVID-19 Protest

    Mr. Speaker, we have truckers who are stuck at the Coutts border crossing in Alberta. We have truckers who are stuck at the Ambassador Bridge crossing in Windsor. We have protests breaking out across the country. Here in Ottawa, we are on the 12th day of the occupation, all because of the convoy protests. I have spoken with some of the residents and small businesses in Ottawa, and they tell me they are terrified, they are intimidated and they feel abandoned by the government.
    People who feel abandoned want to know this: What has the Prime Minister done to help people in this crisis since it has begun?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, every step of the way, we have been there to offer support and assistance to the City of Ottawa as it deals with this.
    We have been working closely with the province to ensure that resources get to the City of Ottawa to be able to handle this protest. We will continue to be there to support not just the citizens of Ottawa who are impacted by this protest, but also folks across the country, including hard-working truckers stuck at border crossings because of protests that are affecting and impacting and limiting their fellow citizens.
    I call upon the Conservative Party to be consistent in here and out there and call for an end to these protests.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, truckers are being held up at the border crossings in Coutts and Windsor, and today is the 12th day of the occupation in Ottawa, all because of the trucker convoy protests. This situation is untenable.
    I have spoken with some of the small business owners and residents in Ottawa who told me that they are terrified and that they are being intimidated and harassed by these protesters. They also feel abandoned by the government.
    What exactly has the Prime Minister done to help them?
    Mr. Speaker, we have been working with the City of Ottawa and the province from the very beginning to ensure that they have all of the resources required to end these protests.
    Although Ottawa residents are particularly affected by these protests, they are not the only ones. These protests are also hurting our economy and our constituents, as well as truckers and people across the country.
    That is why we will continue to support science and law enforcement agencies to put an end to these protests and the pandemic.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's Prime Minister is pandering to politics by division, stoking anger and fear. The rhetoric he used towards those Canadians who support lifting the mandate adds fuel to the fire. These are not the actions of a Prime Minister.
    A senior member of the Liberal caucus has publicly criticized his tone, his language and his approach to the pandemic. Will the Prime Minister act like a Prime Minister? Will he listen to the opposition, listen to his own caucus and listen to Canadians, or will he continue with this divisive rhetoric?
    Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of the pandemic, our government has been laying out, with great transparency, what we believe is the best way out of this pandemic, and that is vaccinations. I want to give credit to the 90% of Canadians who have taken up that cause, including the 90% of truckers who have taken up the cause of vaccinations to ensure that the wheels of our economy continue to turn.
    As for those who are outside, the government is working very closely with the City of Ottawa to provide the police with all the tools and resources that they need to end this convoy as quickly and as peacefully as possible.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians, including a senior member of the Liberal caucus, are speaking loud and clear—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am going to have to ask the hon. member for Foothills to stop while the members on his side are heckling him. I will let him continue now.
    The hon. member for Foothills.
    Canadians, including senior members of the Liberal caucus, are speaking loud and clear. Canadians are looking for pandemic leadership. Canadians are standing up right now, grabbing this moment in our history, because they know there is something fundamentally wrong when a Prime Minister refuses to listen.
    Countries around the world are changing direction, but here in Canada our Prime Minister resorts to playground antics and calling names. If ever there was a time for inspired leadership, it is now. Will the Prime Minister grow up? Will he do his job? Will he listen to Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased and grateful for the member's use of “pandemic leadership”. This is exactly that. This is pandemic leadership.
    We all have the responsibility to work together, to listen to each other, to listen to science. What science has told us and what science—

  (1435)  

    I am going to have to interrupt the hon. Minister of Health. I am having a hard time hearing him. I really wanted to hear the answer, and I am sure the hon. member for Foothills, who asked the question, would like to hear the answer too.
    I am going to ask the hon. minister to start right from the top so we can hear the whole answer.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to do that, because I thought the question was the right statement.
    The hon. member spoke about pandemic leadership. That is exactly the point. We need to be leaders in managing the pandemic. We need to be united together, working together and listening to each other. We have a hard job to do, which is to look after the health of millions of Canadians who depend on us to protect their health and the health of those they love.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this morning, the chair of the Quebec Liberal caucus proved us right. For months now, we have been asking for greater clarity, for science-based decisions and, most of all, for a unifying rather than a divisive approach.
    Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has been doing the opposite for the past two years by demonizing everyone who disagrees with him. Will he finally admit that he is playing petty politics and just making things worse?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Quebec City. He knows my colleague from Louis-Hébert, and he knows how much respect we have for his work in his riding and in and around Quebec City.
    The member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles talked about unity. That is a great word, because Canadians are united in fighting this pandemic. If there is one thing that unites us, it is vaccination. That is why we have to keep it up. It works, and 99% of public servants are vaccinated, which means they are protecting themselves and their colleagues.
    Mr. Speaker, this morning, the member for Louis-Hébert and chair of the Quebec Liberal caucus made himself very clear. He asked his government to provide a roadmap, a game plan for where we are going with all this.
    That is what we have been asking of the Prime Minister for the past two years, but there has been no response from him. The Prime Minister chose to politicize the pandemic that is dividing Canadians. He had no intention of listening to advice from opposition members or even his own MPs, as far as we can tell. Many Canadians agree with us on that.
    Will he get the message at last? He needs to stop dividing us. As the member for Louis-Hébert said, he needs to show us a plan, a roadmap.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute‑Saint‑Charles is right that we have had a plan for two years, since the start of the pandemic, and our plan is working to prevent deaths. With the measures we have put in place by listening to science, we have prevented nearly 50,000 deaths in Canada compared to what we have seen south of the border.
    We have also saved a big part of our economy. With all due respect, if we had listened to the economic advice of the official opposition, we would be in an economic crisis right now, and unfortunately, it would be impossible to get the economy going again.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, a year ago, the Prime Minister rejected vaccine mandates, calling them “extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on [our] community and country”. Since then, no one has created more division than the Prime Minister, pitting Canadian against Canadian and using vaccine status as a dangerous political weapon. In the words of a senior Liberal today, “Now that we have one of the most vaccinated populations in the world, we’ve never been so divided.”
    When will the Prime Minister stop dividing Canadians and end his punitive vaccine mandates?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I particularly appreciate the emphasis on vaccination status. When I get vaccinated, I am doing it for myself, but also for my parents. When I visit my parents after getting vaccinated, I know I am protecting them. When my son gets vaccinated, I know that he is protected, and I am glad he is, but I also know that he will be protecting all the seniors he might run into.
    Not only is it a very important personal decision that we make when we have the right vaccination status, but it is also a kindness to the people around us that we love.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is double-vaccinated, had his booster and just contracted COVID-19, so using mandates to discriminate against Canadians based on their vaccine status is absolutely punitive and discriminatory. A senior Liberal called on the Prime Minister to stop dividing Canadians on the issue of vaccine status.
    When will the Prime Minister start listening to science, start listening to public health officials, start listening to his own members of Parliament and end his campaign of discrimination and division against Canadians?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak with respect, but also with honesty. I am a bit troubled by what I hear, which is the belief that vaccination does not work. Vaccination does work. About a year ago, science gave us the gift of vaccination. We had waited for that for an entire year. Since then, millions of Canadians have chosen to do the right thing, which is to get vaccinated. I am very troubled by the fact that on the opposite side of the House, there are still people who do not believe in vaccination.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. If I could have the House's attention, I want to remind everyone that we are in question period and we want to hear the questions and answers.
    The hon. member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.

[Translation]

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, downtown Ottawa has been under siege for the past 12 days, and this mess will not go away on its own.
    As we heard again yesterday in his speech, the Prime Minister's plan for getting out of this crisis was to tell the protesters to go and get vaccinated. I have a news flash for him. At this point, they are not likely to go for that.
    What is the government actually doing, aside from antagonizing the protesters? What action will the Prime Minister take? What kind of deadline will he give the protesters? When will he finally realize that magical thinking will not clear the streets of Ottawa?
    Mr. Speaker, from the beginning, the federal government has been there to support the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Police Service by providing 275 RCMP officers. The RCMP remains ready to provide additional assistance to the Ottawa Police Service in the form of additional personnel as requested by Mayor Jim Watson.
    I will be speaking with him, along with the entire team on this side of the House, and we will continue to work closely with the city to provide all the necessary resources.
    Mr. Speaker, this is day 12 of the occupation of Ottawa, and the federal government is still not stepping up its efforts to resolve the crisis.
    Yesterday, the Minister of Public Safety said, “I am proud that our government has done everything it could from the start to enforce the law”. He said that after pointing out that the government has made 275 RCMP officers available to the City of Ottawa. The city is calling for 1,800 officers. That represents 15% of the city's demand.
    Is that all the government can do after 12 days of being under siege?
    Mr. Speaker, yes, I am very proud of the government during the pandemic and I am very proud of the RCMP's contribution on the ground to provide more officers and help to the Ottawa Police Service, which is doing good work right now. There has been a lot of progress in the past two days.
    We now need to put an end to this convoy, and the government and the City of Ottawa will work together to achieve that goal.
    Mr. Speaker, it is not surprising that the siege is dragging on.
    On the one hand, we have a Minister of Public Safety who waited 11 days before creating a crisis task force and who refuses to fully deploy the RCMP. On the other hand, we have a Prime Minister who still believes that the occupiers will listen to him, decide that he is right and go home to get vaccinated. That is the Liberal Party's idea of crisis management.
    At this point, what is surprising is not that the member for Louis-Hébert is speaking out against his own party, but that he is the only one to do so.
    When will the Liberals wake up?
    Mr. Speaker, perhaps my colleague has not been watching the news.
    From the start, we deployed many resources. We added officers to help the police of jurisdiction. We will continue to work closely with the City of Ottawa, the Government of Ontario and everyone to resolve the convoy situation.

  (1445)  

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, I remember clearly in March 2020 making a pandemic plan for my regional hospital. At that time and ever since, the government has been too little, too late or not at the right time.
    Canadians need hope for their futures. When is the Liberal government going to show leadership and give Canadians a much-needed plan to learn to live with COVID-19?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising that important question.
    We have been working together since March 2020 to fight the biggest health crisis in 100 years in Canada. We have gone through this crisis successfully, certainly with respect to many other countries in the world, and it is because we have worked together and helped each other, the provinces and territories and the federal government. We have invested eight dollars out of every $10 in total economic support, with $63 billion on health and safety investments, in addition to all the other investments we have been making for many years.
    Mr. Speaker, most provincial medical officers of health have begun to speak of living with COVID, and even Health Canada's own Dr. Tam has said that the virus will be endemic. Nova Scotia's Dr. Strang has spoken of initial steps needed to move forward.
    When will the government rely on science, not the spin doctors, and the advice of its own experts and remove lockdowns, restrictions and mandates? Give Canadians the date.
    Mr. Speaker, a very key signal to be against vaccination is to be in favour of lockdowns. The only way to fight lockdowns is to be in favour of vaccination. That is why I will again invite all opposition members, including the new Conservative leader, to exert new leadership and ask all members of the Conservative Party to be vaccinated. That is the only way to avoid lockdowns.
    Mr. Speaker, a senior Liberal has shared his concerns that the government mandates are divisive and harmful to the Canadian people. The Prime Minister and his government need to stop politicizing the pandemic, because it is fracturing our society and dividing Canadians.
    Will the Prime Minister listen to the voices within his own party and present Parliament and the rest of Canada with something, anything, to end the mandates, end the restrictions and allow us to start living with COVID?
    Mr. Speaker, I will say something that my hon. colleague already knows, most likely: The lockdown measures to which she refers are provincial decisions made by the provinces and territories. I believe no one in the House is confused between federal and provincial responsibilities. The federal responsibility has been and will be to support the provinces and territories moving forward.
    Mr. Speaker, somebody needs to tell the minister that it is 2022. The redundant PCR testing for asymptomatic, fully vaccinated travellers does not make any sense. Permanent travel restrictions are not the answer, because the current ones are ineffective. The government's duplicative arrival testing regime is out of step with the world. It takes up to a week for the results. That means forced quarantines and high costs for families.
    When will the government join our allies and drop these ineffective travel restrictions?
    Mr. Speaker, working with our allies is exactly what we had to do and what we did. We have obviously worked with the United States, which is our closest ally, very successfully over the last few months. The mandate to which she refers, the border mandate in particular regarding vaccination, is entirely symmetrical and in line with what the United States is doing. We will continue to work with our allies.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I want to remind hon. members that some of you do not realize how strong your voices are. Even if they are muffled with face masks, they really echo through. I ask members to respect each other and not shout at each other.
    An hon. member: Sorry, Mr. Speaker.
    The Speaker: Apology accepted.
    The hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.

  (1450)  

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, on the Liberal government's watch, online platforms were used to fund the ongoing occupation in Ottawa. Millions of dollars have been raised for convoy organizers whose stated purpose is to overthrow the government. Canadians are rightly concerned that these platforms have become tools used to help foreign actors undermining our democracy. In response to the lack of federal leadership, I brought a motion to the public safety committee to examine how this could be allowed to happen.
    Will the government ensure that foreign funds and anonymous donations are never again used to help those attacking our democracy?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my hon. colleague for the impending work he will do in conjunction with the committee on standing public safety matters.
    This is a very important matter. Certainly over the course of the last number of days, we have seen GoFundMe take appropriate actions in asking the right questions about where certain funds were coming from and what they would be used for. Certainly to that extent, the committee will be looking at this issue very closely.
    We all need to be seized with the landscape as it exists around foreign interference, and any funds that may be used to undermine public safety.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister talks about being seized with urgency, but it is 12 days that health care workers, small business owners, Ottawa residents and others have been harassed by some members of the convoy. Far-right extremists in the U.S. and elsewhere are trying to bring their radical views to Canada. They are funding extremists. They are empowering racism and anti-Semitism, and they are threatening to overthrow our government.
    Why has it taken so long to respond to this ongoing crisis and the foreign-funded interference that is threatening our citizens, our country and our democracy?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to assure my colleague that we have very strong laws to prevent the kind of illegal conduct she has referred to. Any funds that would go toward undermining public safety, national security or indeed our democracy will be taken with the utmost seriousness by our law enforcement as well as our intelligence community.
    I look forward to the work that the committee will do. We will receive the report in this chamber, and we will continue to unite around the need to ensure our laws are upheld. Yes, we will have vigorous debates, but always in accordance with the rule of law.

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized to my constituents in Kitchener—Conestoga and to all Canadians how crucial it is to have access to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet. Investments in broadband connectivity create jobs and improve access to online learning and health care services.
    Can the Minister of Rural Economic Development provide an update to this House on the government's progress in delivering high-speed Internet across this country?
    Mr. Speaker, throughout the pandemic, families and businesses without access to affordable and high-speed Internet were faced with additional challenges accessing online learning, putting their businesses online and connecting with loved ones.
    In the last few weeks alone, we have announced over $8 million in funding to projects to connect an additional 4,000 households throughout rural Canada. We have a plan to connect every Canadian to high-speed Internet all across the country, and we are delivering on that plan.

[Translation]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the rising cost of living continues to affect the everyday lives of my constituents in Beauce.
    With inflation at a record high, Canadians are struggling to make ends meet. The lack of leadership from this government is unbelievable. The price of gas in Beauce has hit $1.60 per litre. Grocery bills are going up by 5% to 7%, which adds up to $1,000 for a family of four.
    The people of Beauce want answers. Why is the government not looking for ways to help Canadians through the final stages of this pandemic?
    Mr. Speaker, we do not need any lectures from the Conservatives about helping the most vulnerable Canadians cope with the cost of living.
    We created the Canada child benefit, which is indexed to inflation and has brought 300,000 children out of poverty.
    Our government increased the guaranteed income supplement, which is also indexed to inflation and which has helped more than 900,000 seniors.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the only thing this government knows how to do is stick to its talking points. Sure, seniors get the guaranteed income supplement, but, let us be honest, indexing falls far short of the inflation rate we are seeing.
    What should I say to constituents of mine who do not get the guaranteed income supplement or to seniors in my riding who can barely pay the rent?
    Instead of upping income tax to cover its excessive spending, when will the government wake up and get serious about helping Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are at it again with their false economic narrative.
    The fact is, Canada is resilient, and our economy is strongly recovering from the COVID‑19 recession. Our GDP grew 5.4% in the third quarter, outperforming the U.S., Japan, the U.K. and Australia.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, polls say that fewer than one in five Canadians expect their financial situation to improve this year. Almost 60% of Canadians are having a tough time putting food on their tables, and the average family grocery bill will go up $1,000 this year. Constituents are emailing me copies of the highest home heating bills they have ever received, and payroll taxes will take about $700 off the average family's paycheques this year. People are being squeezed.
    Why is the government not addressing the unmanageable squeeze that is being put on hard-working families, making it difficult every day to just pay for basic necessities?
    Mr. Speaker, our government will take no lessons from the Conservatives when it comes to supporting the most vulnerable Canadians. It was our government that introduced the CCB, which is indexed for inflation and which has already lifted almost 300,000 children out of poverty. It is our government that increased the GIS. That is also indexed to inflation, and it has helped over 900,000 seniors.
    When we formed government in 2015, more than five million Canadians lived in poverty. By 2019, that number had dropped to 3.7 million.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, in my riding of King—Vaughan, constituents are concerned with keeping their homes. Years ago, I worked in banking and met many people returning the keys to their houses because they simply could not afford to make the payments with the skyrocketing interest.
    What has the government done to ensure we do not go back to the 1980s and 1990s, a time when we saw many Canadians lose their homes?
    Mr. Speaker, every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Since 2015, our government has invested nearly $30 billion for affordable housing, brought in Canada's first-ever national housing strategy, and we have a plan worth over $70 billion, which has already helped over one million Canadians find the homes that they need.
    We have more work to do, and we will work with provinces and territories, and municipalities as well, to make sure we are building more housing supply to ensure that every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home.

[Translation]

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, for the past eight months, the government has been making cuts to the guaranteed income supplement for seniors who received CERB. We are talking about seniors who have to work part time to pay for the basics, such as their rent or medication.
    This morning, after eight months, the government introduced a bill to right this wrong. Do my colleagues know when this bill will come into force? It will be in June.
    If the situation of seniors is serious enough to give rise to a bill, why is the government continuing to make cuts until June?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know just how difficult this pandemic has been on seniors, and on this side of the House, we have been there to support them. As announced in the fiscal update, we will be delivering a one-time payment to fully compensate those affected in 2020, and today we introduced Bill C-12 to exclude any pandemic benefits for the purposes of calculating GIS going forward.
    I hope that we can count on all parties' support to quickly pass this bill to prevent any future reduction in GIS for low-income vulnerable seniors who took pandemic benefits. I hope we can all get behind this.

  (1500)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, by the time this government stops making cuts to the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, the government will have been depriving them of the basic essentials for 11 months.
    During those 11 months, inflation had time to reach the highest levels in 30 years. For 11 months, seniors had to leave more and more food on the shelves at the grocery store because it is too expensive. Their rent has probably gone up. For 11 months, all of their expenses went up while the government cut their benefits.
    Is this how seniors deserve to be treated?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government's priority has been there to support those most vulnerable, especially those seniors, and that is why we worked so hard to strengthen income security for seniors, including the increases to the GIS, which has helped over 900,000 low-income seniors. That is also why we introduced Bill C-12 to exclude pandemic benefits for the purposes of calculating GIS going forward. We are also making major investments through a one-time payment for seniors affected.
    On this side of the House, we will always be there for seniors.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, for 130 days the government has refused to fill the position of the federal ombudsman for victims of crime. To be clear, the ombudsman's job is to make sure the federal government meets its responsibilities to victims. The government is still pushing ahead with legislation that would make life easier for violent criminals by eliminating mandatory jail time, all while this critical role for victims is being silenced.
    Could the minister tell the House why this important position remains empty?
    Mr. Speaker, indeed we share that concern for helping, protecting and working with victims of crime to ensure that the criminal justice system works not only more efficiently, but also more empathetically and passionately with respect—

[Translation]

    The member for Salaberry—Suroît is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, the interpreter is unable to do their job properly because the sound quality is poor.

[English]

    We are going to ask the hon. Minister of Justice to do that over again and make sure his microphone is in the right place.
    I will ask him to repeat his answer, and hopefully we can hear him.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, and I share his concern about helping—
    I am going to interrupt the hon. Minister of Justice and ask the hon. Minister of Public Safety to answer while the technical issue is being taken care of.
    Mr. Speaker, I think we can all relate to having technical difficulties in one way or another. I believe what my colleague, the Minister of Justice, would say is that we are obviously very concerned with filling this position as quickly as possible so there is an ombudsperson in place and we will make sure that we do that.
    Mr. Speaker, no matter who answers, the message is the same: Victims do not matter to the government. Leaving the ombudsman position empty is a deliberate decision by the government. In 2016, the Liberals immediately replaced the outgoing ombudsman for federal offenders, but they will not show the same respect for victims.
    We should not be surprised that the Liberals put the rights of criminals ahead of victims yet again. The mandated review for the victims bill of rights is already a year overdue. The message the justice minister sends over and over to victims is clear: Victims do not matter.
    Again, when can victims expect the ombudsman position to be filled?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the work that this government continues to do to uphold victims' rights. In fact, this government restored many of the cuts that were made under the last Conservative government as a way of demonstrating the concrete, tangible support for victims.
    We will continue to use our open, transparent and merit-based process to fill this position. I know that is something that the Minister of Justice is very much seized with.

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, the truth is that Liberals are soft on crime in words and action. It has been four months. Victims of crime do matter and it cannot be swept away like yet again, one of the Liberal scandals.
     Silke from Bonnyville is scared and feels unsafe in her own home. She says, “With every strange noise we look out the window and a false alarm from our shop sensor gives us adrenaline overload. Every slow-driving vehicle makes our hairs stand up”.
    That is normal in Lakeland. It has been four months. When will the Liberals appoint the federal ombudsman for victims of crime?
    Mr. Speaker, I share the sentiments of my hon. colleague, and I understand that it is important that victims have an office they can approach. That is why I know the Minister of Justice will appoint this position as quickly as possible.
     In the meantime, this government will continue to invest in all of the resources and supports that are needed for victims. We know that throughout the pandemic there has been an alarming increase in gender-based violence, and we will always be there to support victims.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, investments in infrastructure are investments in strong and healthy communities. Investing in important local projects ensures that families, residents and businesses across New Brunswick have the infrastructure they need to grow and thrive.
    Can the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities tell us what the government is doing to invest in safer and more efficient water services and to help keep our communities healthy, green and sustainable?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank our colleague from Madawaska—Restigouche for his question.
    Investing in green infrastructure in our communities will ensure residents have a safe, reliable source of drinking water. That is why our government is investing over $2.2 million to upgrade the water supply infrastructure in two rural New Brunswick communities, Saint Hilaire in Madawaska and Tide Head.
    I think that all members thank the member for Madawaska—Restigouche for his outstanding work.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the IISD Experimental Lakes Area in my riding is a state-of-the-art and world-renowned freshwater laboratory. In their latest election platform, the Liberals promised a $37.5-million investment to support its work.
    Is the government still committed to keeping this promise? Will we see the funding in the next budget?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my hon. colleague. It is a very important scientific centre. I find it somewhat ironic that he would ask the question, since it was the Conservative government that cut funding to this very important international experiment, but we will be there to continue to finance good science in Canada.

COVID-19 Economic Measures

    Mr. Speaker, new businesses get no support from the government. It is 2022. We are entering the third year of the pandemic. Did Liberals think no one would open a new business in those three years? In my riding, Spirit Tree Estate Cidery is shutting down indoor dining for at least a year. Other businesses in my riding have closed or are on the verge of closing.
    Does the Liberal government not realize it is literally killing new businesses?
    Mr. Speaker, it is really time for the Conservatives to pick a lane and decide what side they are on when it comes to the big issues facing our country. Half of their questions are about how there is too much government spending and how our government should not be supporting Canadian businesses. In fact, these are the Conservatives who voted against Bill C-2, which provided much-needed lockdown support. I now hear from them that there should be more support. It really is the party of flip-flop.

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, last year, Parliament unanimously passed my private member's bill that would help Canadians register as organ and tissue donors through their annual tax return. Support from all parties was an encouraging sign to thousands of Canadians awaiting a life-saving transplant. Sadly, nothing has happened since. The minister has not even given me the courtesy of responding to my request for an update. She owes all members in the House an update.
    Will the minister tell us why we have not seen any progress from her or the Canada Revenue Agency?

  (1510)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, with the passage of Bill C‑210, the Canada Revenue Agency will start discussions with its provincial and territorial partners. Although these discussions take time, the CRA is acting as quickly as possible on this initiative. That being said, it is unlikely to be implemented in time for this tax season.
    I thank my colleague for his ongoing efforts, and I invite him to contact my office for updates.

[English]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, the flooding experienced in British Columbia last November was the most devastating agricultural disaster in our province's history. Farmers and food processors suffered extraordinary damages as a result of the extreme weather event.
    Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food please update the House on how our government is supporting farmers impacted by the floods in B.C.?
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada stands with farmers and communities that are feeling the impacts of extreme weather conditions in British Columbia. Impacted producers will have access to up to $228 million in federal and provincial support to help farmers return to production and support food security in years ahead. We are here to help them do what they do best, which is producing high-quality food for Canadians and the world.

Canadian Border Services

    Mr. Speaker, 12 days later, the consequences of the convoy are spreading across the country. Things are only getting worse and the Prime Minister continues to ignore advice from outside his Ottawa bubble. In Windsor, the Ambassador Bridge has been forced to close. This has devastated not only truckers but also businesses, residents and essential workers who cross the border every single day to save lives.
     The disrespect for our local economy is one thing, but it is clear that there is no plan for border communities and we want a plan. The NDP has proposed a safe border task force. It has been ignored for two years. Why has this not been acted upon? Why can we not get in front of doing the right work and the right—
    Mr. Speaker, I know my hon. colleague's advocacy will be very important in the coming days. He reached out to me earlier and he and I will be having a conversation. I also want to assure him and everybody in the Windsor area that we are working very closely with CBSA officials who are coordinating both with Windsor police as well as the mayor, with whom I have also had contact.
     There is a full-court press to ensure that we keep supply chains moving on the Ambassador Bridge. We have diverted some of those traffic lines to alternate ports of entry, and we will be sure that we continue to work very closely with all orders of government and law enforcement to get this result.

COVID-19 Economic Measures

    Mr. Speaker, just last week, Statistics Canada reported a job loss of 200,000 jobs during the omicron wave. That is 200,000 Canadian families who are struggling with a benefit system the Liberals created that is inadequate to the task. It does not pay $500 a week, people are waiting far too long to get access if they qualify, and even the special measures that the Liberals brought in just days after passing the bill are set to expire in the next few days.
     What is the government's plan, and will it work with us to increase the benefit to $500 a week and make sure that all those Canadians out there who are experiencing job loss, still as a result of the pandemic, actually have access to help instead of—
    Mr. Speaker, I agree that every single lost job is a Canadian tragedy. That is why I am so pleased that, even after the jobs lost in the necessary omicron lockdowns, Canada has recovered 101% of the jobs lost in the depth of COVID compared to just 87% in the U.S. When it comes to support for workers, I would like to say, with the deepest possible respect, that workers are getting support today because of Bill C-2, which I am sorry to say the NDP voted against.
    During question period, we have had some technical difficulties with our reception here. Regarding the hon. member for King—Vaughan, I know that the answer to her question was garbled. I am going to ask the hon. member to repeat her question and hopefully we will be able to hear an answer, both because of the technical reparations that were made and hopefully because of the hospitality that will be displayed in the chamber.
    The hon. member.

  (1515)  

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, in my riding of King—Vaughan, constituents are concerned with keeping their homes. Years ago, I worked in banking and met many people returning their keys to their homes because they simply could not afford to make payments with the skyrocketing interest rates.
    What has the government done to ensure that we do not go back to the 1980s and 1990s, where we saw many Canadians lose their homes?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on making sure that every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home. Since 2015, we have invested over $30 billion, introduced the national housing strategy and worked closely with provinces, territories, municipalities and the non-profit and private sectors to ensure that more affordable housing and more supply of housing is there for Canadians.
    We know that there is more work to be done. We are working to make sure that we turn more Canadian renters into homeowners through the rent-to-own program and introduce measures to facilitate and accelerate housing supply in partnership with municipalities.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Committees of the House

Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics   

    The House resumed from February 7 consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:16 p.m., pursuant to an order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the first report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
    Call in the members.

  (1530)  

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

(Division No. 20)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Angus
Arnold
Ashton
Bachrach
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Beaulieu
Benzen
Bergen
Bergeron
Berthold
Bérubé
Bezan
Blaikie
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Block
Boulerice
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Brunelle-Duceppe
Calkins
Cannings
Caputo
Carrie
Chabot
Chambers
Champoux
Chong
Collins (Victoria)
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
Davies
DeBellefeuille
Deltell
d'Entremont
Desbiens
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Ferreri
Findlay
Fortin
Gallant
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Généreux
Genuis
Gill
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Green
Hallan
Hoback
Hughes
Idlout
Jeneroux
Johns
Julian
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Kwan
Lake
Lantsman
Larouche
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lemire
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
MacGregor
MacKenzie
Maguire
Martel
Masse
Mathyssen
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
McPherson
Melillo
Michaud
Moore
Morantz
Morrice
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
Normandin
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Pauzé
Perkins
Perron
Plamondon
Rayes
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Savard-Tremblay
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Ste-Marie
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thériault
Therrien
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Trudel
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vignola
Villemure
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zarrillo
Zimmer

Total: -- 173


NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anand
Anandasangaree
Arseneault
Arya
Atwin
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Battiste
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bibeau
Bittle
Blair
Blois
Boissonnault
Bradford
Brière
Carr
Casey
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Duguid
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garneau
Gerretsen
Gould
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Ien
Jaczek
Joly
Jones
Jowhari
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
May (Cambridge)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Miller
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Ng
Noormohamed
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Petitpas Taylor
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Sorbara
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thompson
Trudeau
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Virani
Vuong
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zuberi

Total: -- 156


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[Translation]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Amendment to the Constitution of Canada (Saskatchewan Act)  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, Government Orders will be extended by 15 minutes.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is great to resume the debate today on the opposition motion and see unanimity between the government and the official opposition party.
    I was talking earlier about our support for the Province of Saskatchewan throughout COVID. Some of the numbers I announced or detailed earlier are that more than 240,000 Saskatchewan residents received support through the Canada emergency benefit at some point. That is approximately 20% of the population. In addition, Saskatchewan is receiving $1.3 billion through the Canada health transfer and nearly $500 million this fiscal year through the Canada social transfer.
    Canada works best when governments work collaboratively and in the interests of Canadians. In this regard, I would like to point out that the land of the living skies is one of the jurisdictions the federal government has entered into an agreement with to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.
    I want to point out the fact that during the election in 2021, the Conservatives campaigned against this early learning child care system. In fact, they would have scrapped it had they won. However, they did not win, and we are proceeding forward, with all provinces and territories having signed, except for the Province of Ontario. I encourage the Province of Ontario to come to an agreement with our government. I have a great respect for all the ministers involved, who are working judiciously and diligently, and I know that at a certain point in time we will get there.
     I would like to announce that all Canadians will be covered, hopefully sooner than later, with a national early learning and day care plan. That is not only good for the economy, which I talk about quite a bit in this place, but is great for families, including my own. With a four-month-old at home, I hope to take advantage and have the opportunity to utilize lower day care fees, especially in the area of York Region, where fees can be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 a month in after-tax dollars. By the end of this year, Saskatchewan families will see a 50% reduction in average parent fees for children under the age of six in regulated child care. That is real progress with respect to affordability for Canadian families, in this case Saskatchewan families.
     In addition to significantly reducing the costs of child care, federal funding of close to $1.1 billion over the next five years will also lead to the creation of 28,000 new regulated early learning and child care spaces in that beautiful province.
    Providing services to the public requires an ongoing commitment on the part of governments to ensure that everyone pays their fair share. This is something we need to keep in mind as we look at the provincial government's request. I support the province's request to amend the Saskatchewan Act. This amendment would be made under section 43 of the Constitution Act of 1982, because this change affects only one province.
    This amending formula has been used before. For example, it allowed enshrining the equality of New Brunswick's English and French linguistic communities in the Canadian Constitution. It allowed for the construction of the Confederation Bridge to replace the requirement for a ferry service to Prince Edward Island. It allowed Quebec to abolish its Catholic and Protestant school boards and replace them with an education system organized along linguistic lines. It allowed for the name of the Province of Newfoundland to be changed to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In all these cases, the provincial legislatures adopted the change, and the House of Commons and the Senate did the same after considering the matter judiciously, as we are doing today.
    These changes reflect what Canada is today, and so does Saskatchewan's request. The amendment would strengthen the fairness of Canada's tax framework, as our government has done and has continued to do since 2015, when in our first mandate we raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians because it was the right thing to do. We also brought in two middle-class tax cuts, one in 2015 and one in 2019, which have returned literally billions of dollars to middle-class Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    Saskatchewan is one of our partners in Confederation, and it can be sure that the federal government is there to support it, not only in this matter but also in getting through the pandemic.
    Those are my remarks this afternoon. I look forward to entertaining questions and comments from my hon. colleagues.

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is good to be able to ask a question of the hon. member.
    Certainly in the province neighbouring Saskatchewan, I hear each and every day about the deep divisions within our country. I am encouraged that the Liberals appear to be supporting this measure to help ensure that our provinces actually have a voice.
    My question for the member is quite simple. Would he support other measures to help ensure that we can actually unify this country at a time when it has never been more divided than it is now?

  (1540)  

    Mr. Speaker, when we are looking at an amendment to the Canadian Constitution and the Saskatchewan Act, it is the right thing to do to work with the provinces.
    A collaborative fiscal federation, which Canada is, requires responsible leadership. That is what our government has demonstrated on this file by working with the Province of Saskatchewan and the official opposition and ensuring that the province's requests are listened to and acted upon. This is the right thing to do for the Province of Saskatchewan and all the wonderful people who currently reside in that province.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech. I would like to ask him a general question about this correction to the outdated tax exemption. We do not oppose this, quite the contrary.
    However, I would like him to comment on the possibility of Quebec also enshrining certain things in the Constitution, specifically something adopted by the House in the previous Parliament that identified Quebec as a francophone nation with a single common language, French.
    I imagine that, if my colleague agrees with the proposal for Saskatchewan, then he also supports the Quebec proposal.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

[English]

    I want to comment on the importance of the French language for me and my family. Since I was elected in 2015, I have taken it upon myself to learn French as well as possible, but more importantly, both of my daughters are in French immersion.

[Translation]

    French is very important to me and my family. My daughters are studying the language so that they can speak it proficiently.
    Speaking French is quite difficult for me.

[English]

    I hope it will be easy for my daughters to learn French and be fully bilingual. I will be very proud at that moment.
    Mr. Speaker, this motion, a dated contract signed well over 100 years ago, is before us today because the Saskatchewan legislature has brought it to our attention. The Saskatchewan legislature passed a motion unanimously, and now it requires passage in the House of Commons and the Senate. We have had the opportunity to have this discussion, and the right thing to do is support this motion in order to make a change that is probably long overdue. We are talking 100 years or so.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Winnipeg North for all the work he does in the House.
    This is the right thing to do. Canadians sent us here to work collaboratively with all members of this House to get things done. This is, yes, long overdue. It will provide for a fairer taxation system for the Province of Saskatchewan and for the residents of Saskatchewan, and we will work with the Province of Saskatchewan to get this completed.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague across the aisle and I have worked together on a couple of committees, and I appreciate that he has voiced his support for this motion.
    I wonder if there are things that we can work together on. He just talked about taxation. The Saskatchewan government has put forward its own carbon pricing system, but it was denied outright. I was wondering if we could work together on this with a sense of decorum and friendship as well, and move it forward. I am sure the Saskatchewan government would like to hear if it could work with the Liberal government on its new environmental plan as well.
    Mr. Speaker, we have a wonderful Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Environment and Minister of Finance, and our bar is very high on reducing greenhouse gases across Canada and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. If the Province of Saskatchewan meets that bar, then it would implement its own carbon pricing model, but until it does, the federal government's model will be the one in place.

  (1545)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to take part in this debate and to thank the people of Winnipeg South Centre, who have sent me back to this very special place for the third time now. I am honoured by their confidence.
    The transcontinental railroad plays a starring role in the mythology around the formation of Canada. Rarely is the polished history of Confederation complete without some telling of how the ribbons of steel bound us together from sea to shining sea, coming together with the driving of the last spike.
    Of course, there is some truth in that. However, the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway was ultimately a political act to bring provinces into Confederation. It was also a business enterprise in a practically unfettered time that few of us here can possibly imagine. It was part of Canada’s colonial pursuit to populate the Prairies with waves of settlers pledged to the Crown, no matter that thousands of years of indigenous civilization predated them.
    Many agreements were made, and no doubt some broken, to make it happen. It is very important today to acknowledge that national unity through CP Rail came at a cost. The land grants to the railway and other corporate interests left out i