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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 270

CONTENTS

Monday, January 29, 2024




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 270
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, January 29, 2024

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


  (1105)  

[English]

Vacancy

Toronto—St. Paul's 

    It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely Ms. Bennett, member of the electoral district of Toronto—St. Paul's, by resignation effective Tuesday, January 16.

[Translation]

     Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.
    It being 11:03 a.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act

    That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours that this House disagrees with the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise again and talk to Bill C-234.
    Groundhog Day is just a few days away and it feels like Groundhog Day again on this bill, Bill C-234.
    It was basically two years ago, almost to the day, that I presented this important bill to the agricultural community and the backstop provinces to help provide some relief in the form of carbon tax exemption for on-farm use when farmers were heating their livestock barns and drying their crops. It has really added up in the last two years, and it will continue to cost them.
    Before I get into it, I want to highlight a couple of facts about the state of the country and where we are today. There are four key priorities on which this party, our leader and members of Parliament will focus, which is axing the tax for our agricultural community as well as for all Canadians. They are really suffering under high inflation, high bills and high costs, whether they are seniors at home, or families or whether people are on their own. Inflation is out of control. By axing the tax, it will give Canadians a chance.
    The other thing is that we have a massive housing deficit. We need to build more homes. We need to encourage cities and municipalities to get out of the way and allow this to take place.
    We also have to get control of our federal budget and federal finances. The debt and deficit are way out of control. The debt has doubled in eight years under the reckless spending of the Liberal government. We need to get this under control, not just for the sake of the overall finances and the well-being of our country, but for the trickle-down effects it has on Canadians in every corner of the country. High spending by government leads to inflation.
    The last thing is that our city and country roads and streets need do be safe. I cannot believe how much has changed in eight years in regard to crime and the safety of our streets. We have to act now. Canadians are counting on us. It does not matter if people live in the downtown of a city, in a suburb of a city or down a country road where I live, everywhere is being impacted. It is the catch and release, catch and release and a person is out the door.
    On Bill C-234, I would like to highlight one thing, maybe a bit of a brag. I was at a Grain Farmers of Ontario meeting for the Huron county chapter during the recess of Parliament. I have some nice numbers to report.
    The average corn yield for corn in Huron county, and let us call it Huron—Bruce, is 200 bushels to an acre. Soybeans are over 55 bushels to the acre. These are all above the provincial averages. Soft red winter wheat is 101, soft white winter wheat is 99 and hard red winter wheat is 97. Those are great yields for Huron—Bruce. We are very proud of that. It is a testament to the dedication of farmers up and down every country road.
    I attended a co-op annual general meeting, of which I am a member. What really struck me during his comments, and he does not owe me anything, as I am just there as a member and not as an elected member of Parliament, was that he was talking about the best way we could help farmers. He is looking at it himself.
    He said that the best way we could help farmers was to actually cut that carbon tax. He said that farmers saw it every month on their bills and that it was incredible how much that was adding up. He said that the best way to provide them with relief was to cut it 10¢ a litre.
    On another side note, they also sell fuel. They sell gasoline and diesel as well. As a side note, 17¢ a litre, on average, is the carbon tax on gasoline for people who drive to work and back, or to take their kids to hockey or baseball or to take their parents to doctors' appointments, maybe in the city.
    Bill C-234 is for farmers. At the end of the day, if it accomplishes one thing, it is to cut the carbon tax on farming. It is an inflationary tax, it is relentless, it is indexed and it will continue to rise. At the end of the day, if the members of Parliament in the House could cut this tax, it would provide relief to farmers. At the very end of the economic chain, it would provide relief to Canadians, who go to the grocery store every week to provide for themselves. That is a fact. If we can do one thing in the House to start off the session, it would be to do that.
    Farmers work hard. They use technology. I heard something from a couple of Liberal-appointed senators and it was disappointing to hear what they had to say. I am not putting words in their mouths. We can go back and look at the comments they made in committee. We can go back and look at the comments they made in their speeches. They said that farmers were laggards when it came to technology. That is the furthest thing from the truth.
    Farmers across the country are some of the most progressive business people we will find. Whether in their barns, their greenhouses, their tractors or even their financial accounting software, they are very progressive. They take on technology whenever they can and they make it more efficient, so they have more crops to feed more people and to feed the world, which is really what they are doing.
    I would like to set the record straight there. Farmers are very advanced in their implementation of technology. If we look at the last 10 or 15 years, even 20 years, it is night and day. Wherever there is an opportunity, farmers are doing it. They are doing it for yield and they are also doing it for the betterment of their land.
    If we look at agriculture in the last number of years, we can see the inflation with which farmers are dealing, such as increased costs in machinery. Increased costs in all inputs. Fertilizer, pesticide sprays and seed inputs are all increasing. Rent, land, and the cost of building sheds and grain storage units have all gone up.
    Agriculture is not a high-margin business. We have talked about this before in the House of Commons. Farmers are price-takers; they are not price-makers. They take what they can get on the open market and what the basis is in Chicago. That is the reality of agriculture.
    Any time the government can help them, for example, by cutting the carbon tax, it is a huge relief. As I have mentioned in the House many times, one example is a hog farmer down the road from where I grew up. A year ago, his bill just for the natural gas he used on his farm was $4,300. The carbon tax on that bill was $3,300. If we think about that, how does that make sense? How does it make sense for farmers, who have invested hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of dollars on their farm to make the highest-quality food and have the highest-quality crops out there, to get bills like that? It is not feasible.
    As I have said, it will continue to increase every year until 2030-31, and it will put a lot of farmers out of business. At that point in time, we will have to be concerned about food sovereignty not only in our country, but we will also have to be concerned about the amount of food we export around the world to feed other nations. It really is a precarious time.
    Let us think about it. Many people have said it in the House, as has the the leader of our party, that it is cheaper to put a load of food or produce on a transport truck in Mexico and ship it through many states to bring it to Canada. It is cheaper to truck food from Mexico than it is to grow it on a farm here and sell it at a farmer's market or into the open market.

  (1110)  

    How does that make sense for Canadians? How does that make sense for Canadian farmers? How does that make sense for the environment? It just does not make sense at all.
    Speaking of the environment, the Liberal government has asked farmers to pay a steep price with this carbon tax it has hammered them with, but when has it ever recognized the environmental good they do? There is a rebate, $1.70-something per $1,000 of allowable expenses, so if a farmer has $1 million of allowable expenses on their farm, they will get $1,700 back in rebates. That is a slap in the face.
    Farmers who have woodlots on the farms they have maintained in Ontario, where the emerald ash borer is, have harvested the trees and made use of them, but they have lost that. They have ethical woodlot practices.
    In the fall, a lot of farmers nowadays are planting fall cover crops. They do that on their own, because it is good for the soil and for their land, and it increases the humus matter in the soil. That is a fact.
    With respect to crop rotation, I will speak specifically about the province of Ontario. The crops I mentioned in the beginning are used for crop rotation. It is good for the soil. It helps minimize the pests in the environment that impact the crops, which is good. Environmental farm plans and nutrient-management plans are all things that farmers do to be good neighbours and good stewards of the land.
    Of course, with technology, no-till drilling goes back a long way. Quite a few years ago now, in the eighties, I can remember as a kid going out to Don Lobb's farm, and the University of Guelph at Ridgetown was out there doing plot experiments to perfect that. There were a number of farmers in Huron County and other counties that started this in the region. It has grown and is continuing to grow. Now we see how they even rip small sections of land where the seeds are going in to preserve the soil and the humus and not disturb it, because they know the value of that.

  (1115)  

    I will go on to one more highlight. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has done at least two studies on this bill, Bill C-234. According to his last report, by 2030-31, the Liberal government will have taken nearly $1 billion out of farmers' pockets because of the carbon tax. Think about that. Farming is a high-capital, low-margin business that provides food for Canadians to eat. It has very low margins, and the Liberal government is taking $1 billion out of the back pockets of farmers. That is really unconscionable to me.
    The last thing I will highlight is the piece of the bill that has been sent back from the Senate. I understand the independence of the Senate. The bill is now back in the hands of the House of Commons, where members of Parliament are going to decide how it is going to go. What I would ask of members of Parliament in the other political parties is this. Let us not drag it out. Let us not delay the bill longer than it has already been delayed. It is already two years old. We can have some debate. We can hear what the other parties are thinking: if they have changed their minds, if they like it better, and so on. Over the last two years a lot has changed in the economy, such as interest rates and inflation, and these are things that are impacting farmers everywhere they go.
    Therefore, I would ask the Liberal Party specifically to allow some of its members to have a say, but to be reasonable. Let us not kick this too far down the road. Let us have good discussions, a good debate and exchange of information, and a timely vote on this to send it back to the Senate and let the senators deal with it again. I think that is the reasonable and logical way to do it because, at the end of the day, members are not helping me, but helping the farmers at home. When we can directly help farmers and indirectly help consumers, that is great.
    Thank you for the time, Mr. Speaker, and I will take some questions.

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, happy new year to you and all my colleagues.
    I would like to thank the hon. member for Huron—Bruce for his remarks today. I will start by saying that he will have my support for the motion to keep the bill as is. That is a commitment that I have made very clearly in the House, including to my agricultural community in Kings—Hants. I want to make a comment and then ask a question.
    The comment is around the idea that Liberal senators somehow blocked this. I would reference the Hon. Colin Deacon. He was appointed under the Prime Minister. He supported the bill. I would point to the Hon. P. J. Prosper, appointed under the Liberal government. He supported this bill. I would also point to the Hon. Rob Black, a really strong agriculture champion, appointed under the Liberal government, who supported this bill.
    My point is that I think the Conservatives were left wanting in terms of their advancement of this bill in the Senate, including that upwards of five of 15 Senate colleagues did not vote on the crucial vote that actually sent it back here. I want that to be on the record.
    My question for the hon. member is, if he is unsuccessful with his motion to keep the bill as is, does he intend to bring a subsequent motion, in particular around the three years? The barn heating and cooling is an important element. Maybe we could find some type of agreement in the House for just three years, so that we could encompass, largely, what the bill intended. Does the member intend to do that, if his motion cannot win a majority in the House?
    Mr. Speaker, I already presented the motion a couple of weeks ago. It takes out all the amendments that came from the Senate and puts it back in its original form.
    I appreciate the member for Kings—Hants. We have a good working relationship. However, I would also point out that the Liberals appointed six other senators, just in the last couple of months, to get this bill passed. He knows one senator who was appointed really well. It is Rodger Cuzner, who spent 20 years as a Liberal member of Parliament in the House of Commons. I understand the member's points, but the Liberals also appointed quite a few Liberals to the Senate.
    Mr. Speaker, I am in favour of keeping the bill in the same form that passed the House at third reading.
    I have been on the agriculture committee for a long time, and I hear the Conservatives talk a lot about the carbon tax. However, I would like to hear from my hon. colleague about the other costs. I do not think that is talked about as much in this place.
    How does the Conservative caucus propose to deal with the immense costs that are being foisted on farmers from the effects of climate change? We know the summer coming up is going to be particularly bad for farmers in Alberta. What about the high input costs? What is the policy in dealing with those? Also, when are the Conservatives going to speak up to address the outrageous profits in oil and gas? Those, by themselves, completely obliterate any effect the carbon tax would have. Oil and gas profits have increased by over 1,000% since 2019. When are the Conservatives going to address that incredible cost on the backs of farmers and Canadians from coast to coast to coast?
    Mr. Speaker, a colleague of ours submitted an Order Paper question on the cost to administer the carbon tax, which I believe is $82 million a year. That is outrageous in and of itself.
    In regard to the environment, what I would say to my hon. colleague is this. Farmers are not the problem. I know he was not saying that farmers were the problem; I realize that. Farmers are doing their part. In life, we have to be able to do what we can and what is feasible. Farmers get up every day and do what they can to provide for their family; to pay their bills to the banks, co-ops and everything else; and to be good to the environment. That is the reality of being a farmer.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech was excellent and really honoured the work that our farmers do to feed us.
    In my riding, over Christmastime, I met with a local woman who had to shut down her business because of the cost of butter. Eight years ago, when she started, it was $2.49 a pound. It is now upwards of $7.49 a pound. That is a 300% increase.
    How would this bill help with that butter effect that we have seen with inflation and help the cost of a household item like butter come back down?

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, just simply, at the end of the day and at the bottom line, if this bill could do one thing, it would be to axe the tax for farmers so that there are lower prices at the grocery store. That is what at the end of the day we have to do. If all the elected members of Parliament want to help people in their ridings, I am telling them that this is one way they can get it done.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened very closely to what the member said, and I would like to provide some comments in regard to some very specific things that he put on the record this morning.
    First and foremost, let me emphasize one of the biggest misrepresentations of reality that the member tried to portray. That is to give the impression in any fashion whatsoever that the government does not recognize the true value of our farmers and what they do, not only in local communities but for the broader world. That does a disservice to the farmers. We, at least on the government benches, recognize that the farmer is the one who experiences climate change at the ground level in a very real and tangible way. If only there were Conservative members of Parliament who recognized that climate change is a reality, because farmers know and appreciate and understand that climate change is in fact a reality.
    We have a substantial agreement. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, leading to approximately $3.5 billion. We have heard of the sustainable Canadian agricultural partnership, which is there to support farmers in the community in dealing with issues like climate change. They are tangible dollars to support farmers in the advances that they have taken and to encourage continued advances in regard to recognizing and fighting climate change reality.
    The member stood in this place and mentioned, right at the very beginning, the Conservative Party agenda. I suspect we might be hearing more about the Conservative agenda. He said the Conservative Party has four priorities, and priority number one is axing the tax.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, members are saying, “Hear, hear!” They like that priority. How far the Conservative Party has come from the last general election, when that member and every other member who was elected in that election, or all candidates who ran in that election, campaigned on an election platform that said they supported a price on pollution. Now they are saying that they just want, at all costs, to axe the tax, which kind of feeds into the idea that they have no concept of the reality of climate change and the responsibility of good government to bring in policies to deal with climate change.
    Whether it is the Ukrainian government, the Canadian government or many states in the United States, they recognize that the price on pollution is a positive policy.
    Priority number two for the Conservative Party, as the member across the way said, was dealing with housing. No government in the history of Canada, with a possible exception on a per capita basis in the 1940s, has invested more in housing than this government has in the last eight years. When the leader of the Conservative Party was the person responsible for housing, he was an absolute and total disaster on the issue of housing.
    Let us contrast that to this government, which has a number of housing programs to deal with what the member across the way said was the Conservative Party's priority. There is a myriad of programs to support Canadians. Never before have we seen a national government take such a proactive approach to dealing with the issue of housing.
    Priority number three that the member referenced in his opening remarks is that the Conservatives would get federal spending under control. Canadians need to be aware of what that hidden Conservative right, MAGA agenda is all about. The Conservatives' agenda is to look at ways in which they can cut back on valuable programs that Canadians are very much dependent on and want to see. Whether it is programs like child care, dental care or whatever it might be, the Conservatives' priority number three is to cut government expenditures. The member just said that.

  (1130)  

    Whether it is programs like child care, dental care or whatever it might be, the Conservatives' priority number three is to cut government expenditures. The member just said that.
    As the Conservatives said, there are the top four items. The fourth item is the issue of crime. There is a difference in approach between the Liberals and the Conservatives on the issue of crime. Whether it is urban or rural, we believe we need to take action that puts a stronger emphasis on repeat offenders, as we saw with the bail reform bill, which took a huge effort not only from this government but also from provincial jurisdictions and many other stakeholders, including the courts, to bring forward legislation. However, the Conservative Party wanted to filibuster and prevent its quick passage, even though everyone else in the country recognized the importance of that bail reform legislation.
    On those four priority issues the Conservative Party talks about, I would suggest they will be found wanting. I look forward to the ongoing debates on those issues and others.
    When we talk about our farming community, the member made reference to the hog industry in his comments. He said that the hog industry was in trouble, and he talked about a hog farmer in his riding or close to his area. He tried to give the impression to those listening that hog farmers are experiencing a difficult time.
    This is not to take away from addressing those important issues, whether one is a hog farmer, a cattle farmer, a wheat farmer or whatever they might be. As a government, we are very sympathetic and are working with our farming community in order to ensure that we have good, sound policy. However, the Minister of International Trade was in Winnipeg just the other day, and we met with Manitoba Pork and with the hog industry at the research centre with the University of Manitoba. Manitoba's hog industry is doing better than it ever has, period, and I believe somewhere around eight million piglets are born in Manitoba every year now. That industry is creating not only thousands of direct jobs but also thousands of indirect jobs as well.
    As a government, we recognize that the farming community, whether it is dealing with animal waste or making sure of the quality and the health of the earth, continues to be sustainable well into the future. We will find that government policy and how it works with the different stakeholders supports just that. We invest literally hundreds of millions of dollars every year to ensure we are there to support farmers in a very real, tangible way, and we will continue to work with the industry.
    We disagree wholeheartedly with the Conservatives' number one priority of getting rid of or axing the carbon tax. It is highly irresponsible. I look forward to one day being able to knock on a door and to reinforce to my constituents that the Conservative Party does not have any idea or concept. The MAGA Conservative Party of today does a great disservice to the constituents I represent. At the end of the day, climate change is real, and the Conservative Party needs to start being more honest and transparent with Canadians about the environment issue.

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, although it is already January 29, I do not think it is too late to extend my best wishes to everyone. I hope we can engage in constructive politics. That is exactly what we are going to try to do this morning.
    Listening to the speeches, I feel as though this is being treated like an either-or issue. One side is saying “axe the tax” while the other side is saying that we need to send some sort of message and that they will be there to help. The Bloc Québécois falls somewhere in between. We are reasonable people. We believe in sending a message and offering incentives for the climate transition, but we also believe in a climate transition that is fair and equitable for everyone. That is what I am going to talk about this morning: the agricultural exemption.
    The agricultural exemption is an expression I am using more and more often in an attempt to get it to stick in people's minds, so that everyone understands that farmers—the people who feed us, who work extremely hard and whom we thank—deserve respect and support. There are different ways of offering support. Bill C-234 granted an exemption to a specific sector, and that is why we were in favour of it. There needs to be more support for sectors where there are fewer or no exemptions.
    I paid close attention when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government was speaking. He said his government is there for farmers and is supporting them, but that is not what I am seeing on a daily basis. If the Senate amendments are adopted, I want the government to make a formal commitment to supporting the climate transition in meaningful ways, especially in sectors where there is no alternative, such as grain drying. Farmers are being asked to use less pesticide and herbicide, to protect shorelines and wetlands, to maintain grasslands, to recultivate maginal land. We have to support them as they do that and give them the help they need. We have to be smart about this. That is the point of my speech this morning. If there is no exemption, there has to be compensation. There has to be support, intensive research and development and investment programs to help these sectors. That is key.
    We have been talking about Bill C‑234, known in the previous Parliament as Bill C‑206, for the past four years. In the beginning, the bill was about grain drying. As the study progressed, the heating and cooling of certain buildings was added. Then an election was called. After that, Bill C‑234 was introduced, and it specifically addressed grain drying and the heating and cooling of certain buildings. We studied the bill. Now the Senate has sent it back to us with an amendment that cuts out buildings and shortens the bill's lifespan. It is certainly not the same bill that we passed. Obviously, we have some reservations. However, it is back in alignment with the original bill and puts the focus where it is needed the most.
    I have to say that I am concerned about the Conservatives' tactics this morning. I am not entirely comfortable with all the parliamentary procedures, but when I see the opposition responding to the Senate before the government does, I have to wonder whether the procedures were followed. Could this not have been discussed earlier?
    I thought the Conservatives' goal was to set targets and come up with slogans. When I talk about the Conservatives' goal, I do not include my colleague from Huron—Bruce in that. I know he cares about farmers and is doing this for the right reasons. I am talking about the strategy in general. Do the Conservatives want to turn this fight into a slogan, so they can go back to the kind of aggressive partisan politics we saw when this bill was being studied in the Senate? I would remind my colleagues that when we were debating a motion here dealing with this, bullying was a very serious problem.
    That is why I said at the beginning of my speech that I wanted us to engage in constructive politics. I invite everyone to proceed in an intelligent way, to present intelligent arguments and content, and to engage with people from other political parties to reach a consensus in order to move things forward. We should not just be trying to score political points ahead of the next election.
    What we should be doing right now is having a look at the work done by the Senate. We should be analyzing and improving it. How can we improve it? We have two options. We could reject the amendments and refer the bill back to the Senate. That would probably lead to a ping-pong match, forcing us to redo the work and set new deadlines. Bill C‑234 stayed in the Senate for a long time. Will it come back to the House? How long will it take? We have no control over the date of the election.

  (1140)  

    We have no control over whether the bill will be sent back. When will it come back? Is the second option not better? It is worth taking time to consider this bill. We could make tangible progress now and establish the principle of the agricultural exemption. The purpose of Bill C‑234, beyond the grain drying exemption, is to establish the agricultural exemption, the fact that there are some sensitive sectors that need to be supported or exempted. If the bill is adopted as amended, that is the message it will send. That will be a win for grain farmers with respect to grain drying. This was very well explained by my colleague from Huron—Bruce just now.
    They have no alternatives, nor do they control sales prices. When costs go up, their profit margins go down. That is just not right. We cannot do that to the people who feed us.
    At the same time, with the amendments that the Senate is proposing, we would continue sending a message about the environment. We cannot forget that side of things either. We need to continue doing that. Pollution must have a price, but sectors like agriculture must not be the ones who have to pay that price. They need to be supported in all of this. When it comes to buildings, perhaps the alternatives are not so far out of reach. Of course, for many farmers, many of those solutions have not actually been implemented, but they are more within reach than in the case of drying.
     I would like to ask the government the following question: Is it committed to quickly implementing a bold and substantial program? I am talking to the parliamentary secretary, but this question is also for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. We need to give farmers access to the technology that we are asking them to have but that they are unable to get. That is the key.
    We must not forget that the the carbon tax is a federal tax. It was created for the provinces that were doing nothing for the environment. We need to think about that too. If we were to do away with the carbon tax, as the Conservatives are proposing, what message would that send to the other governments? Would we be sending them the message that they too can do away with the carbon tax?
    For the benefit of my Conservative friends, I would point out once again that the carbon tax does not apply in Quebec. The fact that the Bloc Québécois has supported Bill C‑234 from the beginning is a major gesture of goodwill toward the farming community, because the measure puts Quebec farmers, who are not currently entitled to the exemption, at a disadvantage. It sends a message to all governments that an agricultural exemption is inescapable. That is why we supported the bill. That is why Quebec farmers encouraged us to do so, to show their solidarity with westerners. That is why we did it, at their urging.
    At the same time, we are putting our people at a disadvantage by voting for Bill C‑234. I would like to drive that point home for everyone. We are putting our people at a disadvantage. The proposal we are debating this morning may strike the right balance. Could the Senate's amendment be the ideal way to achieve the mission we were given, the mission to establish an agricultural exemption? Would it not create an exemption without placing Quebec producers at an undue disadvantage? I am asking the question.
    We are well aware that some farmers will be disappointed if the Senate's amendments are adopted. However, there are other ways to get things done. We can take the grain drying exemption now and prevent the bill from getting bogged down again thanks to the kind of intimidation, threats and other things that have absolutely no place in a democracy. We can put the matter to rest, move on and keep working on the buildings issue in a different way. I will not turn my back on farmers. We will not turn our backs on them. We need proper dialogue, research and development.
    Bill C‑234 must succeed. It would never have seen the light of day without the initial and ongoing support of the Bloc Québécois, which also agreed to officially recognize the agricultural exemption principle. I thank my colleagues for that. My question is this: Do we want to send the bill to the Senate and keep bickering over it, with media clips and slogans, or are we willing to grasp the tangible gains within our reach? The answer should be obvious.
    We always try to do politics with the future in mind, not the next election. We intend to stick with this approach.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here we go again with Bill C-234. It does not seem to want to go to the Governor General just yet.
    As previous colleagues have said, this is a bill I am intimately familiar with. We did see a previous version of the bill in the 43rd Parliament, and of course, now that we are here at the beginning of 2024, the bill has had an approximately two-year journey to go through both houses of this Parliament, only to end up back in the House because the Senate has decided to amend it.
    I want to remind hon. colleagues and all Canadians who are watching this debate of something, because I know a lot of the agricultural sector is probably tuning in right now, and members of the Agriculture Carbon Alliance have a very real interest in this bill and want to see us pass it in the same form it was passed by the House at third reading. What I want to remind everyone of is that the third reading vote is quite remarkable. The bill passed by a vote of 176 to 146. Just so everyone realizes this, that Conservative bill would not have made it to the Senate if it had not been for the support of the New Democratic caucus, the Bloc Québécois caucus, two Green Party members and a handful of Liberals.
    We tend to try to bring a narrative in the House that it is just one party doing all of the work. The beauty of a minority Parliament is that sometimes the opposition can come together on an idea that has its merits and can use its combined majority vote to pass legislation the government may not agree with. It is a far better experience for members of the opposition than I ever had during my first four years in this place, when I was facing a majority government. It is a lot more worthwhile to members on this side of the House because we are able to work in a collaborative environment and to actually get things done when they may be in opposition to official government policy.
    It was a notable vote, and that vote was the result of a lot of deliberation not only in the House of Commons but also at the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, of which I have been a proud member since 2018. We have heard quite definitively from many witnesses with intimate knowledge of the agricultural sector that these exemptions are necessary.
    I was here in 2018 when the original Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act was brought in. I believe, if memory serves me well, it was part of a budget implementation act at the time. If we look at the original legislation, the existing statute of the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, we can see that when the Liberal government at the time drafted the legislation, it included significant exemptions for farming activities. There is a list of eligible farming activities, fuels and equipment, because the government realized that agriculture is in a unique position and that sometimes farmers do not actually have an option to switch to a different kind of fuel source. Many sectors in agriculture are still reliant on fossil fuels to conduct their operations, and that is going to be a fact for the foreseeable future, hence the exemptions that were put in the original act.
    When I look at Bill C-234, I think the language in the bill that was passed by the House at third reading is in line with the spirit and intent of the original statute, which is why I gave it my support. It is why I will continue to give my support for the version of the bill that was passed by the House at third reading.
    The basic premise behind carbon pricing is to incentivize a change of behaviour to a less polluting fuel source. However, we heard very clearly from many people who are involved in the agriculture sector that there are not commercially viable alternatives for the farming activities referenced in this bill. If we cannot use this tool to incentivize a change of behaviour, it is not going to be very worthwhile. This is why, when we look at the text of the bill and how the agriculture committee amended the bill, we recognized some technologies may be coming online and showing signs of early promise but are not in any shape or form ready for commercial viability.

  (1150)  

    We also wanted to signal to the sector that we are putting a short time frame on this. That is why we see referenced in the language of the bill the fact that there is an eight-year sunset clause, so the provisions that originally existed in the statute will come back into force after eight years, giving the industry a break for a short amount of time and giving it the signal that we expect change in the coming decade.
    With respect to the carbon tax debate in this place, I am filled with a lot of remorse at the state of debate. I do not think it actually does great service to the complexities and dangers that climate change is presenting to Canada and many countries around the world. I regret very much that the state of debate around the carbon tax is that it has been reduced to a rhyme on a bumper sticker. That is a great disservice to the very clear and present danger that climate change presents to our agricultural sector.
    If we want to look at one of the key reasons food price inflation is so high, we need only look to the state of California, which has been going through unprecedented drought-like conditions because of a changing climate. Since California acts as a breadbasket for much of Canada, when farmers are unable to produce as much as they did in years previous, that, of course, means there is going to be a supply shortage and increased prices.
    I am very worried about what the upcoming summer is going to be like. Look at the summer we went through in 2023, with fires burning out of control in so many different provinces, levelling a clear and present danger to many agricultural operations. We can see the snowpacks that are in such a reduced state in the Rocky Mountains right now. They feed all of the major river systems in the Prairies. What are we going to do when farmers start running out of water in our prairie provinces? That is going to be a monumental crisis, and I do not think the debate around the carbon tax gives enough attention to the significance of that.
    I also do not think we give enough conversation to the fact that farmers are dealing with massive input costs. There are gross farm revenues, but the farmer gets only a small portion of that at the end of the day because of the input costs: fuel, fertilizer, transport and so on. Farmers have enormously high input costs, and one of the best ways we can serve our farmers is to put in effective policy dealing with those input costs, helping them change the way they farm and putting in strategies to help them reduce fertilizer use, because it is possible to do that and also maintain the same kinds of yields.
    As well, we need to talk a lot more about the power imbalance that exists with the corporate-controlled grocery sector. That is why farmers have been on the front lines of asking parliamentarians to put in a grocery code of conduct.
    Last but not least, if we are not going to talk about the ridiculous oil and gas profits, we are doing an extreme disservice to everyone who is listening to this debate. We can go on and on about the carbon tax and its costs for Canadians, but if we are not going to talk about the fact that since 2019, the oil and gas sector has seen over a 1,000% increase in net profits, that is a disservice to the debate. I keep asking my Conservative colleagues to confront the elephant in the room, which is that the real reason people are paying through the nose for so many goods and services is that oil and gas companies are milking Canadian families for all they are worth. High profits mean someone is paying. It is Canadian families from coast to coast to coast that are lining the bank accounts of a very profitable oil and gas sector.
    I will conclude by saying that with respect to Bill C-234, New Democrats are going to honour the third reading vote that we presented to the House last year, part of the 176 votes to 146 votes. Therefore, we support a message to the Senate rejecting their amendments and honouring the bill in its form at third reading in the House.

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate we have to rise to speak to Bill C-234 once again.
    Before I get into the meat of the speech that I want to bring up today, I do want to give some thanks. I want to thank the member for Huron—Bruce for bringing this private member's bill forward, as well as the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South, who brought this bill forward in the previous Parliament, which shows how much work we have put into this legislation.
    I would also like to thank those senators in the red chamber who made the right decision, one based on facts, not fiction. I know there was a lot of intimidation and bullying going on in the Senate as the Prime Minister and the environment minister were personally phoning senators to support the amendments to this very important bill. However, about 40 senators stayed strong; they represented their regions and represented the facts of the discussion and debate. I think that what this all comes down to today is to try to get the amendments removed and get the bill back into its original form and back to the Senate. This is a discussion about fact and fiction.
    My comments today are going to be for my colleagues in the Bloc, the NDP and the Green Party who have strongly and staunchly supported this legislation all the way through. They have done so because they understand the importance of agriculture. They understand the importance of the economic viability of Canadian farm families and the critical role they play in feeding not only the world but also Canadians, ensuring that we have affordable, nutritious food grown right here in Canada to support Canadian families and Canadian consumers.
    Unfortunately, the Liberal government is making decisions based on ideology and fiction. The environment minister was very clear that if there were another carve-out of the carbon tax, he would resign as environment minister. Therefore, we now know that the whole fallacy of the carbon tax being an untouchable part of the Liberal climate change policy is not true. The Liberals have already done a carbon tax carve-out for home heating oil that was focused basically on Atlantic Canada, but when it comes to a piece of legislation that is supported by every opposition party in the House, and even by a handful of Liberals, they are not willing to listen. It is about picking and choosing winners and losers when it comes to who gets a break from the carbon tax and who has to pay it.
    Here is a fact: Passing Bill C-234 and offering an exemption to the carbon tax for propane and natural gas would save farmers close to a billion dollars by 2030. That is a billion dollars that farmers now have to pay the Liberal government, when they are already paying record-breaking input costs on feed, fuel, fertilizer and many other inputs. We found out early last week not only that the billion dollars is being taken out of the pockets of farmers by the Liberal government but also that the GST is being charged on top of the carbon tax.
    We have all known that, so we have been putting private members' bills forward. My Conservative colleague has put forward a private member's bill to remove the GST from the carbon tax. However, we now know the numbers, and they are staggering. The GST on the carbon tax alone cost Canadians almost $500 million last year. By 2030, it will be a billion dollars. Cumulatively, over the past several years and by 2030, Canadians will have paid $6 billion for GST just on the carbon tax, not on every other good and service they use. It is no wonder that Canadians cannot afford to put food on the table, put fuel in their car and pay their mortgage. Certainly, it is no wonder that farmers are struggling every single day. They are looking to these types of pieces of legislation that would offer them some financial relief.
    The next fiction of the Liberals is that there are commercially available alternatives to propane and natural gas on farms, especially when it comes to heating and cooling barns. We know that is not true. Electric heat pumps are not going to heat a 100,000-square-foot chicken barn that is built with state-of-the-art technology. The Liberals should be applauding Canadian farmers for what they are already doing.

  (1200)  

    Here is another fact: The average global emissions that come from agriculture are about 26%. In Canada, the emissions that come from agriculture are 8%. This is a stat that we should be applauding every single day. It shows what our farmers are doing to ensure that they are the strongest environmental stewards of their land, soil and water. However, instead of being a champion for Canadian agriculture and applauding what farmers are doing, the Liberals are punishing them with the carbon tax and defending it every step of the way.
    There are no other commercially viable options. There is no way to change behaviour for farmers who need natural gas and propane to heat their barns and to grow their food in greenhouses.
    During the recess, we had three or four days in southern Alberta when it was -37°C. I guarantee everyone that a heat pump was not operating and not sufficient to ensure the health and safety of cattle, pork and poultry in those operations. However, at -37°C, those farm families are still out there making sure that we have quality, affordable food to eat every single day.
    Here is another fact: The amendments we are discussing today, which were passed by the Senate, were already proposed by the Liberals in the House of Commons at the agriculture committee. Those amendments were voted down by the elected members of that committee. We have gone through this discussion but, again, fiction.
    This is not about viable options for the Liberals. This is about trying to kill a bill that would provide a carbon tax carve-out for farmers.
    Another fact is that, in his food report study, Professor Sylvain Charlebois at Dalhousie University reported that policies such as the carbon tax on farmers are going to increase the wholesale cost of food by 34%. Again, these are costs that are being put onto the backs of farmers, but, down the road, they will impact Canadian consumers who are struggling to put food on the table every single day.
    We have two million Canadians accessing the food bank in a single month. It is unbelievable that this is happening in a country like Canada.
    This is a discussion about fact and fiction, and I want to thank the members of the opposition parties who have stood by facts. They have stood by Canadian agriculture and the importance of growing affordable, nutritious food here in Canada. I hope they will continue to stand with us on Bill C-234 while the Liberals focus on fiction.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023

    The House resumed from December 12, 2023, consideration of the motion that Bill C-59, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Happy new year, Mr. Speaker.
    This is my first time rising in the House in 2024, and I want to wish everyone a happy new year.
    It is 2024, and the Prime Minister is not worth the cost. That is the reality. That was the reality in 2023 and 2022, but the cost keeps going up every year.
     That is why the Conservative Party has a very focused common-sense plan. We have four priorities that we want to work on in Parliament, and they are to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop crime.
    After eight years in office, this Prime Minister has managed to drive up the cost of living at the fastest pace in 40 years by doubling the national debt and printing $600 billion. He has increased inflation and interest rates at the expense of the working class and our seniors, and he did so with the support of the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois completely agrees with the exorbitant spending increases and the cost of government, which are creating a burden for Quebeckers. The Bloc Québécois voted in favour of all of this government spending in the fall of 2023. It supported the tax increases on gas, which punish Quebec farmers and workers.
    The common-sense Conservative Party is the only one offering an alternative to this destructive and costly policy implemented on the backs of Quebeckers.
    First, we will eliminate the second carbon tax, which does indeed apply to Quebec.
    Second, we will control spending by eliminating waste. We are going to get rid of the $35-billion infrastructure bank, which has not delivered a single project for Canadians. We will get rid of the ArriveCAN app and the so-called green fund which, according to the officials involved, is now a scandal on par with the sponsorship scandal. We will cut spending on consultants, who now cost every Canadian family $1,400. In eight years, this Prime Minister has doubled the amount spent on outside consultants. These are extraordinary costs that do not produce results for Canadians. It is work that could have been done by the government, by public servants, whose numbers have ballooned by 50%.
    We are going to introduce a common-sense law, a dollar-for-dollar law. Every time ministers in my government increase spending by one dollar, they are going to have to find one dollar in savings to offset that spending. Instead of increasing the national debt, inflation and taxes, we are going to cap spending. Once the government is forced to reduce the cost that falls on the backs of our people, it will enable workers, businesses and our economy to grow.
    Let us talk about our workers. There is a war on work right now. Workers are being punished with sky-high tax rates that claw back more and more of every dollar they earn. A common-sense Conservative government will lower taxes and reward work here in Canada, for our workers, small businesses and all Canadians, so that we can be a country that rewards work.
    We will protect the paycheques of ordinary Canadians and ensure that they can earn bigger paycheques by doing away with unconstitutional laws that prevent natural resource projects from going ahead. We will allow Quebeckers to build dams and develop mines and other projects that generate wealth for our country, instead of sending money to China or other countries that are dictatorships. We will keep that money for ourselves, so that Canadians can have bigger paycheques. We are also going to build houses.

  (1205)  

    After eight years under this Prime Minister, the cost of housing has doubled, rent has doubled, the money needed for a mortgage on an average house has doubled, and the down payment needed to buy that same house has also doubled. In Montreal, it has tripled.
    After eight years under this Prime Minister, the cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Montreal has increased from $760, when I was the housing minister eight years ago, to $2,200 now. Red tape has blocked the construction of 25,000 housing units over the past six years. Thousands of construction projects across the country are in limbo because of red tape. In Vancouver, whose former NDP mayor is incredibly incompetent, it is even worse. He added additional costs of $1.3 million to each housing development built. These increases are tied directly to the red tape and taxes charged by the governments.
    In Quebec City, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Trudel with my Quebec lieutenant. He told me that $500 of the monthly rent for these apartments goes toward taxes and red tape, the costs charged by the government. For apartments that rent for $1,000, half of that amount covers only the taxes and the bureaucracy. That cost is too high. That is why a common-sense Conservative government will encourage municipalities to speed up construction instead of obstructing it.
    The federal government pays out $5 billion to municipalities through the sales tax program. Quebec receives about $1 billion. There are already a lot of conditions attached to that money, a lot of federal conditions. However, those conditions do not include accelerating construction. That is why we are going to work with the Quebec government on a new infrastructure agreement that incentivizes construction. We will tie the amount of money that each municipality receives to the number of houses and apartments completed in the previous year. That would mean that municipalities like Victoriaville, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières would receive substantial bonuses, because there has been a huge boom in construction there. Last year, for example, construction increased by 30% in those municipalities. That should be rewarded. Real estate companies are paid according to the number of homes they sell. Construction companies are paid according to the number of houses they build. We should pay local bureaucracies on the basis of the number of homes they allow to be built. This would encourage the acceleration of construction.
    We should also insist that every transit station be located near apartment buildings. Transit stations should be surrounded by large apartment towers. Across Canada, in Vancouver, Montreal and elsewhere, we see beautiful transit stations, yet there is almost no housing around them. It is ridiculous.
    The federal government provides funding, but often a third or a half of the amount needed. We should insist that this money not be invested if there are no apartment buildings where our seniors and young people can live next to a public transit station. That is how we are going to speed up home construction. We are going to insist that CMHC provide funding for apartment buildings within two months, not two years. Executives should be fired unless they meet that deadline. Finally, these homes should be located in safe communities.
    After eight years under the leadership of this Prime Minister, crime has increased by nearly 40%. He has increased crime by allowing the same small groups of repeat offenders to keep committing the same crimes over and over, and by letting them out on bail the very same day they are arrested.

  (1210)  

    A Conservative government will replace bail with jail. We will target real criminals who use guns and seal our borders instead of targeting hunters and sport shooters. We will treat and rehabilitate people with drug addictions instead of decriminalizing crack, cocaine and other drugs, as the Prime Minister has already done in partnership with the NDP in British Columbia.
    What I have been describing here is common sense. This is the kind of common sense used by ordinary Canadians. For decades, there was a common-sense Liberal-Conservative consensus that led to our extraordinary success. A Conservative government will rebuild that consensus to give Canadians back the country they love and deserve. That is our goal. We are going to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and, finally, stop the crime. It is common sense, and that is what we are going to do.

  (1215)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I wish you a happy new year. It is 2024 and the Prime Minister is still not worth the cost. He is not worth the crime. He is not worth giving up the country that we know and love. After eight years, everything costs more, crime is running rampant, housing costs have doubled, the country is more divided than ever before, and the Prime Minister seeks to distract and attack anyone who disagrees with him in order to make people forget how miserable he has made life in this country after nearly a decade in power.
    Our common-sense counterpoint is very focused. In this session of Parliament, we will fight to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime. That is how we are going to turn around the mess the Prime Minister has created in eight years.
    Let us quickly touch upon that mess. After eight years of the Prime Minister, housing costs have doubled. This is after he promised that those housing costs would go down. In fact, they rose 40% faster than incomes, the worst gap in the G7 by far and the second worst among all 40 OECD nations. It is twice as bad as the OECD average, with roughly a quarter of OECD countries actually seeing housing affordability improve over the last eight years. Here in Canada, under the Prime Minister, we have seen it worsen at the fastest rate in the entire G7.
    The Prime Minister has created a situation where only 26% of Canadians are able to afford a single-family home. It now takes 25 years to save up for a down payment on the average home for the average Toronto family, when 25 years used to be the time it took to pay off a mortgage. After eight years of the Prime Minister, it is now more affordable to buy a 20-bedroom castle in Scotland than a two-bedroom condo in Kitchener.
    After eight years of the Prime Minister, a criminal defence lawyer reported on Twitter that numerous clients have asked if she can help extend their prison sentences so they do not have to live in this housing market and find a place to rent. In other words, the Prime Minister's housing market is worse than prison by the judgment of several people who actually live in prison.
    After eight years of the Prime Minister, we have 16 seniors crammed into a four-bedroom home in Oshawa according to its food bank, which told me it had to house middle-class seniors together. They are all losing their homes because of the incredible rent increase the Prime Minister's policies have caused.
    We have homelessness skyrocketing across the country. Every town and centre now has homeless encampments. Halifax has 30 homeless encampments for one medium-sized city. After eight years of the Prime Minister, who would have imagined that we would have 30 homeless encampments in one city, but that is the misery that he has created through his policies that are not worth the cost of housing.
    Meanwhile, the Prime Minister makes the problem worse. He gives tax dollars to incompetent mayors and bureaucracies to block homebuilding. The worst incompetence, of course, has been by the former mayor and the present mayor of Toronto, and the former mayor of Vancouver blocking construction in those cities and making it uninhabitable for many of the people who should be able to afford a home. We now have the second-slowest building permits of any country in the OECD. That is why we have the fewest homes in the G7, even with the most land by far to build on.
     We were told that the media darling Minister of Housing, who was brought in in the fall, was going to fix all of this. He was going to hold photo ops right across the country, and all of a sudden there would be more building. What happened was that housing construction actually went down. There was a 7% reduction in housing last year under the leadership of the current housing minister.
    Is it any surprise, when the guy who destroyed our immigration system was put in charge of housing, that we got a destructive result? It is not me accusing him of ruining the immigration system. It is his own Liberal successor. The current Liberal Minister of Immigration says that the system is out of control. In his own words, he claims that his predecessor was giving study visas for students to come and study at what he calls “puppy mills”. Those are his terms. I would never have used that term. It is insulting. They are actually human beings, not dogs. That is the language we get from the current immigration minister to describe the chaos that his own predecessor caused in the international student program and the temporary foreign worker program, not to mention countless other programs that have now been overwhelmed by fraudsters, shady consultants and bureaucratic incompetence. Now they take the guy who ruined all of that and say that this is the guy they are bringing in to resolve the housing crisis.
     It is no wonder it gets worse and worse by the day. The Liberals' only defence is that they are spending lots of money. Failing is bad and failing expensively is even worse. That is what the Prime Minister has done after eight years. It is not only in housing. It is in generalized inflation. After eight years, inflation hit 40-year highs. After eight years, the Prime Minister has increased the cost of food so quickly that there are now two million Canadians, a record-smashing number, who are required to go to food banks in a single month. We have students forced to live in homeless shelters in order to afford food. We have seniors who say they have to live in tents in order to be able to shop and feed themselves, because food prices have risen so high.
    In Toronto, one in 10 Torontonians are now going to a food bank, enough to fill the Rogers Centre seven times. If the monthly users of the food bank in Toronto alone were to go to the Rogers Centre, the place would have to be filled seven separate times, just to accommodate them all. Who would have thought we would have this many hungry people in Canada's biggest city, a city that has elected no one but Liberals since 2015? This is the result from that.
    In that same city, crime and chaos rage out of control. In the adjoining suburbs, we now have stories of extortion, where small businesses receive letters saying that if they do not fork over big dollars to international crime syndicates, they will be shot at, their houses will be burned, their families will be targeted, and the government does nothing to protect them. Who would have thought that Canada would be so vulnerable to this kind of criminality and chaos that these foreign criminal syndicates would think Canada so weak and so easy to target that they could go after innocent small business leaders and their families in order to shake them down for money? Yet that is what has happened.
     These same business owners go to bed at night with one eye open, because they know their car could be stolen as they sleep. I told some stories yesterday to the caucus, incredible stories of people in Brampton whose cars just vanished in the middle of the night. The cars go over to Montreal where they are put on a ship and sent off to the Middle East, Africa or Europe where they are resold at a profit. They are not even inspected as they go onto the ships in these containers.

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    Meanwhile, the Prime Minister spends billions of dollars trying to buy back the legitimate property of licensed law-abiding firearms owners. He believes that the problem is the hunter from Nunavut or the professional sport shooter from Nanaimo, when in fact the real problem is the criminals.
    Common-sense Conservatives are going to put an end to this madness. We are going to bring home the country we know and love. Let us go through the common-sense plan.
    We are going to bring home lower prices by axing the carbon tax. It starts with passing Bill C-234 to axe the tax on farmers and food so farmers can make the food and Canadians can afford to eat it. Let us pass the bill unamended today and let Canadians eat affordable food. It is very easy. The House of Commons passed it once before. The Senate, under duress and pressure from the current Prime Minister, then sent it back with unnecessary amendments. Now the other opposition parties are flip-flopping and wavering. They agree in principle with the Liberal plan to quadruple the carbon tax, but say they might consider giving farmers a break on it. Now they are not so sure. They are siding with the costly Prime Minister again on keeping the tax on our farmers. Every time our people go to the grocery store and see those rising prices they will know that the NDP has betrayed working-class people in favour of greedy government with higher taxes on farmers and the single moms who are struggling to feed their families.
    We are going to axe the tax on home heat not just for some or for a short time, but for everybody, everywhere, always. Common-sense Conservatives call on the Prime Minister to be consistent and not just temporarily pause the tax in regions where his polls are plummeting and his caucus is revolting, but rather let us axe the tax for every Canadian household to heat their homes in this devastatingly cold winter. It is incredible how cold it was in Edmonton, -50°C, and the Liberal member for Edmonton Centre voted to tax the heat of Edmontonians. Not only that, the Liberal member for Edmonton Centre wants to quadruple the carbon tax on the home heat of Edmontonians, so over the next several years, as the winter cold comes in and people crank up their heat, their bills will rise increasingly faster. In some places now the carbon tax is more expensive than the actual gas that people are buying. We are going to be sharing the bills that some of my caucus members have so that everybody knows how badly the Prime Minister and his NDP coalition are ripping off Canadians for the crime of heating themselves in -50°C weather. We are the only party that will axe the tax for them and for everyone, everywhere, always.
    Our common-sense plan to bring home lower prices includes capping the spending that has driven inflation, the $600-billion increase in spending and debt, which means printing money. Printing money bids up the goods we buy and the interest we pay. In fact, government spending is up 75% since the Prime Minister took office. He has nearly doubled the cost of the government at a time when the economy has barely grown at all. In fact, it is shrinking while the government is expanding, which means it is gobbling up an increasing share of a shrinking pie and there is less left for everyone else. Right now the government is rich and the people are poor, because the Prime Minister cannot stop spending, and his greedy NDP coalition counterparts push him to spend even more of other people's money. Our common-sense plan would cap spending and cut waste. We would get rid of the $35-billion Infrastructure Bank, the $54-million ArriveCAN app and the billion-dollar so-called green fund, which is really a slush fund.

  (1225)  

    We would cut back on the money wasted on consultant insiders, who now consume 21 billion tax dollars a year, an amount that is equal to $1,400 for every family in Canada. We would cut back on this waste to balance the budget, and bring down inflation and interest rates, so that Canadians can eat, heat and house themselves.
    We are going to unleash the growth of our economy. Instead of creating more cash, we would create more of what cash buys. We have the most powerful resources, perhaps the greatest supply of natural resources per capita of any country on earth, and we are very good at harvesting those resources to the benefit of our people and our environment at the same time.
    The Prime Minister, with the help of the NDP, has been driving the production to other countries, where they pollute more, burn more coal and add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. The Prime Minister would drive the production away from Canadians, who use among the cleanest electricity grids on Planet Earth, instead of bringing it home to this country. Our common-sense plan would repeal Bill C-69 and replace it with a new law that would not only protect the environment and consult first nations but also get projects built so that we can bring home paycheques for our people and take the money away from the dirty dictators of the world.
    I was able to recently announce our new candidate in the Skeena—Bulkley Valley riding, the great Ellis Ross, former chief of the Haisla Nation. He is responsible for bringing Canada the biggest-ever investment in its history, which is the LNG Canada project. It is a project that was approved by the former Harper government, and the only reason it was able to go ahead under this government is that it gave the project an exemption from the carbon tax. Had the tax applied, the project never would have occurred. Had Bill C-69, the anti-resource law, been in place, the project never would have happened.
    By the government's own admission, this project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions around the world by millions of tonnes because it will displace dirty, coal-fired electricity in Asia by sending clean, green Canadian natural gas, liquefied using hydroelectricity and our natural cold weather, and sent abroad on our shortest shipping distance, which means burning less fossil fuels to get it to market. This will displace more emission-intensive forms of energy in countries where they need to cut back. That is a solution to fight climate change and protect our environment, and thank God we had the visionary leadership of the great Ellis Ross to make that project happen, along with that of Stephen Harper.
    Unfortunately, the Prime Minister has blocked every other LNG project from coming to fruition. There were 18 of these projects on the table when he took office, not one of them is completed. Only the aforementioned—
    An hon. member: Hear, hear!
    Hon. Pierre Poilievre: Mr. Speaker, we got a cheer over there. It was the Marxist member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. He took that Marxist comment as a compliment, by the way. Believe me, he has told me that off the record. He tells us that he is speaking on behalf of the NDP. He cheers when he hears that the Prime Minister has blocked every LNG project.
    That is going to be very interesting news for me to take to northern British Columbia and the first nations people, such as the Nisga'a. He cheers at the thought that the Nisga'a will lose out on their proposed liquefied natural gas project. That is the NDP of today. They used to stand up for the workers who had lunch buckets. They used to stand up for first nations people. That is a bygone era. Now, they cheer every time a working-class person loses a job and a community loses its industry. Shame on them. The good news is that they will not be part of my government.
    We will stand with the Nisga'a. We will stand with the Haisla. We will stand with the other first nations of northern Ontario that want to see the ring of fire go ahead. The first nations people want to harvest our resources to empower their people and end poverty. We, as Conservatives, will remove the government gatekeepers and the radical ideologues, such that NDP member and the current environment minister, so we can get things built and bring it home to our country.

  (1230)  

    Those powerful paycheques would fund schools, roads and hospitals. They would improve our finances. That is what I mean when I say, “Fix the budget”. Yes, we have to cap spending and cut waste. That is the spending side of the income statement. However, we also have to bring in more revenue at lower tax rates.
    How would we we do that? We would allow more production. We would have bigger and more powerful industrial projects and resource achievements, and we would have more paycheques for the people in the communities who would work on those job sites. We would generate the tax revenue at a lower cost to the overall population so that we could fund our cherished social safety net, with real money, sustainably into the future. That is how one fixes the budget: make more and cost less to deliver better results for the Canadian people.
     The most basic result, though, would be for people to have rooves over their heads. After eight years of the Prime Minister, that is not possible. We would remove the bureaucracy that stands in the way of homebuilding. The reason we have the fewest homes per capita in the G7 is that we have the worst bureaucracy and the slowest permitting. My common-sense plan would require local bureaucracies to permit 15% more homes per year as a condition of getting federal money. Those who beat the target would get more money, and those who miss the target would get less, in exact proportion to their success or failure. We pay realtors based on the homes they sell, and we pay builders based on the homes they build. We should pay local bureaucracies based on the homes they permit. That would speed them up and get them moving. By the way, we would do it in a non-prescriptive way.
    There are countless different ways a municipality could allow more housing. For example, today we learned one of the ways that cities block housing is by making renovations harder to permit. People might think, “What does a renovation have to do with new homes?” If one wants to renovate their home to create a basement suite, an over-the-garage suite or perhaps a guest house converted from an old garage or something like that on their property, they would need a renovation permit. That might be holding up housing. My plan would give a credit to the city, and therefore more federal money, if it were to allow a rapid conversion of one house into two or of a basement into a suite.
     The reason I focus on this is that the Prime Minister has a proposal right now that he calls the “housing accelerator”, where he is having federal bureaucrats assess the processes of municipal bureaucrats, and the bureaucrats talk about the way things work. That would be like scoring a hockey game by having the referee go to the practices of the players to test whether they are doing the right skating drills, whether they are doing the right pre-game stretching and whether their diet plan is the best plan, rather than the simple and obvious way we score hockey games, which is by counting the number of pucks in nets. I want to judge a municipality's results based on keys in doors. There are pucks in nets and keys in doors.
    The municipality can figure out how to do it. It is not our job to micromanage how cities increase their housing stocks. Some might sell land. Some might get rid of zoning procedures. Some might get their bureaucrats working faster and smarter. Some might allow more renovations of homes into duplexes. Some might find any other manner of creative ways to do it. It is not the federal government's job to micromanage. What we would do would be to pay for the result. That is how we would get the homes built so that, just like when I was minister and housing was affordable, it could once again be affordable in the future, and our young people could hope to get married and start families, which is something that has become next to impossible in most of our big cities.
    These homes would be in safe neighbourhoods. The Prime Minister has unleashed crime and chaos with his catch-and-release system, which allowed the same 40 violent offenders to do 6,000 crimes in one year in the city of Vancouver. A common-sense Conservative government would make repeat violent offenders ineligible for bail so they would stay behind bars rather than reoffend. We would bring jail, not bail. We would bring in treatment, not more drugs, for our addicts, so we could bring our loved ones home, drug-free.

  (1235)  

    We would also reverse the Prime Minister's ban on our sport shooters and our lawful hunters. Instead, we would go after the real violent criminals and seal our borders. We would put the billions of dollars the Prime Minister is wasting going after lawful hunters and put them into scanning the boxes that come into our country, which bring in the drugs and guns, and scanning those shipping containers that are taking away our stolen cars, so we can stop them from leaving the country and keep our cars here, getting our insurance rates down so people can afford to drive again and do not have to sleep with one eye open during this looting of our vehicles the Prime Minister has allowed to happen.
    The Prime Minister wants to protect turkeys from hunters. I want to protect Canadians from criminals. It is common sense. That is the common-sense agenda of the Conservative opposition in this forthcoming Parliament. We would axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime.
    To axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime are things on which we should all agree, so I call on the other parties to dispense with their radical ideologies and plans and unite around this common-sense effort to set four clear priorities. Who is ready to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime? Is everybody ready to do that? Let us bring it home.
    I would like to introduce the following amendment. I move:
    That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
“the House declines to give second reading to Bill C-59, An Act to implement certain provisions of the fall economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 21, 2023 and certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 28, 2023, since the bill fails to repeal the carbon tax on farmers, First Nations and families.”

  (1240)  

    The amendment is in order.
    Madam Speaker, the leader of the Conservative Party's fixation on the bumper sticker that reads, “Axe the tax” has caused the Conservative Party and the MAGA right to ultimately say things like they do not support the trade agreement with Ukraine. There are so many bizarre things coming from the far right under the leadership of the Conservative Party.
    How does the member justify providing misinformation, or selected information, to the constituents I represent? When he says he wants to axe the tax, he is really telling the majority of the residents in Winnipeg North that he would also get rid of the rebate, which means there is going to be less disposable income because he has a desire for a bumper sticker. How does he justify that?
    Madam Speaker, that member is once again misinforming his constituents. Actually, I should not say that because they do not believe him, so he is not informing them of anything. He has misinformed himself because, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, 60% of Canadians pay more in carbon tax costs than they get back in these phony rebates.
    Now we have their big solution. They are going to give it a new name. They are going to rename the carbon tax. They think people will not notice their heating bills, gas bills and grocery bills are going through the roof under this tax if they just give it a new name. This is a carbon tax that rips off the people of Winnipeg, and he should be ashamed for allowing a temporary pause on the tax for some people in other regions while denying the people in his own riding, one of the coldest major cities in this country, that same pause. We will axe the tax in Winnipeg. We will axe the tax for everyone, everywhere, forever.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I see that my colleague is using his speaking time in the House to chant campaign slogans and even announce some new candidates for the next election, which is scheduled to take place in a year and a half, rather than talking about the bill before us.
    That being said, I have not heard him mention the environment even once in all his famous election promises, even though he seems to want to win over Quebeckers. One thing I do know about Quebeckers is that they are worried about the climate crisis. We experienced unprecedented forest fires and floods this summer. One need only go to the Magdalen Islands, the Gaspé or my riding. In the last snowstorm, 30 feet of shoreline were lost to the sea because no more ice is forming. The well-known highway 132, which circles the Gaspé peninsula, will soon be under water. I think Quebeckers are worried about the climate crisis and expect their elected representatives to propose solutions to address it.
    I would like to hear what the Conservative leader is proposing to fight the climate crisis.

  (1245)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question and for being honest enough to say that the Bloc Québécois wants to keep this government in office for another year and a half. Her leader has said before that he wants to keep this Prime Minister in office. The Bloc Québécois voted for all of the economic policies that led to this increase in inflation and the doubling of housing costs. The Bloc Québécois completely agrees with the Prime Minister.
    With regard to the environment, I did mention it in my speech. I said that the best way to protect the environment is to repatriate mineral and energy production to Canada. We have the highest standards in the world. The Bloc Québécois and the Liberals want to give that money to China, where they burn coal and use other processes to produce electric batteries.
    I believe that we should repatriate production by giving the green light to projects such as hydroelectric dams in Quebec, carbon capture in western Canada and nuclear energy, which is emission-free. We should give the green light to those projects so that we can produce more emission-free electricity.
    That is common sense.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I have had the opportunity on at least two separate occasions to listen to the Conservative leader speak at length to Bill C-59. It will come as no surprise to folks in the House and to many Canadians that there are certainly many things about which I disagree with the Conservative leader, and there are some things on which we may find some agreement.
    However, one thing that continues to surprise me is that we hear an analysis from the Conservative leader about the hardships Canadians are facing and the problem of inflation, but nowhere is there a mention of the fact that over 25% of the inflation Canadians have been subjected to over the last while, according to some credible economists who have published studies to this effect, has to do with outsized price increases by corporations that are well above the increases in costs they have faced.
    The fact is that corporate greed is playing an important role in the inflation Canadians are experiencing, but that is nowhere in the analysis from the corporate-controlled Conservatives. It is not a coincidence, it seems, because by glossing over this incredible contributor to inflation, the Conservatives are doing a solid for their corporate pals.
    I would like to hear the Conservative leader talk about the role of corporate greed in inflation and what he would propose to do about it.
    The first point I would make, Madam Speaker, is that the member seems to be suggesting that corporations were not greedy eight years ago because food prices were much lower then and that suddenly now, maybe it is something in the water, the level of greed in the country has grown dramatically over the last eight years, and that is the sudden cause of food price increases.
    The reality is that big corporations always do well in an inflationary environment, and the reason is very simple. If we have stuff, then we get richer when stuff goes up in price; if we need stuff, we get poorer when stuff goes up in price. That is why inflation is always a tax on the poorest people to the benefit of a tiny minority on top. It is not just those who sell stuff, but also those who own assets who become better off.
    That is why I warned, in the House of Commons, in the fall of 2020, that printing $600 billion was going to lead the billionaire class to become extremely wealthy, and it did. The gap between rich and poor has grown. I knew this would happen because when hundreds of billions of dollars are funnelled into the financial system, it balloons the assets of the people who have, and it increases the costs on those who have not.
    Inflation is the most immoral tax. It is the tax that takes from the have-nots to give to the have-yachts. Not only will Conservatives get rid of the carbon tax on food, but also we will get rid of the inflation tax on everybody.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, I visited with three farmers in my riding over the Christmas break. The three farmers paid a combined total of about $630,000 in carbon tax in 2023 and got zero back.
    I wonder what the Leader of the Opposition has to say about the Liberals' comment that people are getting back more than they are paying in when those three average farmers in my riding paid $600,000-plus in carbon tax in 2023 alone. That is with the 20% exemption rate and not the full carbon tax. They are only paying 20%.
    Madam Speaker, that is the story I hear from the farmers in my constituency. I stood and mentioned the Medeiros farm in south Carleton. I read their bills into the record and asked the Prime Minister how he expects them to pay those bills when he quadruples the tax. This is the worst part of the Liberal-NDP carbon tax. They plan to quadruple it.
    As bad as one's bills are today, if they get re-elected, the NDP and the Prime Minister will quadruple the tax to 61¢ a litre for gasoline. Similar proportional increases on natural gas, propane and oil heating will follow. That is their plan.
    To be very clear, the choice in the next election will be between the costly coalition, which will tax one's food, punish one's work, take one's money, double one's housing cost and unleash crime and chaos in one's community, and the common-sense Conservatives who will axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime.

Business of the House

    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:
    That, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House, at the conclusion of Oral Questions later this day, the House observe a moment of silence for the Honourable Ed Broadbent, and that afterwards, the member for Burnaby South, followed by a member of each of the other recognized parties and a member of the Green Party each be permitted to make a statement to pay tribute, and that the time taken for these proceedings shall be added to the time provided for Government Orders.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023

     Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by asking for unanimous consent to share my time.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Terrebonne.
    Before I begin, I want to wish you, Madam Speaker, and all my colleagues, a happy new year. This is the first opportunity we have had to do so. I also wish a happy new year to everyone in Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia.
    I would like to mention that today I am wearing a small green square, like many other members, because January 29 is the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia. This small gesture is made in support of the families and loved ones of the victims of the Quebec City mosque attack.
    We are here to debate Bill C‑59, which seeks to implement the budget. This bill can be described as an omnibus bill. It is a bit of a hodgepodge. There is a tremendous amount of items in there that affect many different topics. Today, I will be talking about the environment, housing, pregnancy, vaping, business transfers, psychotherapy and tax havens. Why will I be focusing on all these topics? It is because Bill C‑59 addresses them all and many more, but these are the ones that interest me the most.
    When I was in my riding over the holidays, I kept hearing the same thing when I met with constituents. Based on what I was told, people sometimes get the impression that they have no idea what we do in Ottawa or what measures we are working on. When they listen to the radio and watch television, they hear slogans from the different parties geared to the next election. The election is not due for another year and a half. In the meantime, we have work to do as parliamentarians, as elected members. That is what people elected us for.
    There are bills that are currently before Parliament, including this economic statement. I think that we need to analyze them. Even though it may be a rather tedious job, we need to analyze everything in the bill and determine what is good and what is not so good. Obviously, as with any omnibus bill, there are some things that are good and some that are less good, and we need to strike a balance between the two.
    Unfortunately, there are two key measures in Bill C‑59 that make it impossible for the Bloc Québécois to support it. Because of those two measures, we cannot vote in favour of the bill, despite the fact that, as I was saying, it does contain some good and important measures, although some of them could use a bit of tweaking. Quite simply, voting in favour of the bill would fly in the face of our party's values and those of Quebeckers. I am talking about our environmental values and the importance that we place on protecting the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec. What poses a problem for us is the measures that the government describes as environmental, which I would say are more pseudo-environmental, and one of the housing measures.
    I want to start with these two measures. First, the government is offering a total of $30.3 billion in subsidies, in the form of tax credits, primarily to oil companies. This means that taxpayers will be paying oil companies to try and pollute less. That is essentially my understanding of the tax credits that are being offered.
    As for the second measure I was talking about, the government is going to create a federal department of municipal affairs. A similar department already exists in Quebec and the provinces, and it manages municipal affairs. The federal government has decided to legislate in this area and create a department of housing, infrastructure and communities. This means more interference, more disputes and more delays. Why is it taking so long for Quebec and the federal government to agree on certain projects? It is because the federal government wants to impose conditions, and that delays the process. I fail to see how creating another department will help facilitate that process.
    Let us begin with the much-discussed tax credits for oil companies. Quite frankly, they do not need any handouts. According to the Centre for Future Work, the oil and gas extraction sector has raked in record profits in recent years, to the tune of roughly $38 billion over three years. Everyone heard me correctly. I said the government wanted to add another $30 billion to that $38 billion, as though they needed it. When I look at those astronomical amounts, I think about all the other areas where the federal government could invest money, for example to help people cope with the rising cost of living.
    It is being reported that roughly 70% of shareholders in the oil and gas sector are foreign. In other words, that money is going to leave the country. In the last two budgets, the government announced its plans to introduce no fewer than six tax credits largely for oil companies. According to information and figures provided by the Department of Finance, these investments will total a whopping $83 billion by 2035.

  (1255)  

    People talk about the climate crisis and say that we need to do more to fight it. This government's solution is to give the oil companies more money to create more pollution. I have a hard time following that logic.
    This bill will amend the Income Tax Act by creating two tax credits. The first is a tax credit for investments in clean technology. We are talking about a $17.8-billion investment in clean technology. That sounds promising and desirable, but on closer inspection, it becomes clear that the tax credit is tailor-made for increased bitumen extraction and gas exports.
    The oil sands are essentially tar mixed with soil. Extracting it is energy-intensive. Hot water or steam has to be injected into the ground to liquefy the tar, which then floats on polluted water to be recovered. Oil companies currently use gas to heat this water.
    However, the industry would rather export its gas than use it to extract oil. That is timely, since there is a new liquefied natural gas terminal being built on the coast of British Columbia. It is a gateway to Asia. TC Energy has almost completed the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Shell and LNG Canada liquefied natural gas terminal should be operational in about a year. The only thing left is to make more gas available for export and that is where the clean technology investment tax credit comes in.
    Under Bill C‑59 the oil companies would be paid to buy small nuclear reactors. That nuclear energy, which would replace the gas they are currently using, would allow them to extract more bitumen and make more gas available for export, all at taxpayers' expense. I am not going to get into that today, but we have already talked about how small nuclear reactors are not such a good idea, for various reasons.
    Yes, the tax credit can be used for other purposes, such as a real transition to renewable energy. Some good examples are in the manufacturing sector, including the use of biomass by paper mills and the development of carbon-neutral aluminum. I think that would be a good way to use this tax credit. However, given the enormity of the investments needed for the oil companies to use nuclear energy to extract more bitumen, we can expect the oil companies to pocket most of the profits.
    As for the second tax credit, the one for carbon capture, utilization and storage, we are talking about an investment of $12.5 billion. Since I have only two minutes left, I will unfortunately not have time to talk about the positive aspects. That is too bad, because I really wanted to explain to my constituents all the little measures I mentioned at the beginning. I will therefore continue to talk about the tax credit for carbon capture, utilization and storage, because I find it quite interesting that the government is touting this as an environmental measure when, once again, the government is merely helping the oil companies perhaps pollute a little less. Rather than accelerating the transition to renewable energy, the government would rather help them in that way. Oddly enough, this tax credit is only available to businesses in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
    Carbon capture and storage is an experimental technology through which big polluters would recover some of the carbon dioxide that they emit and store it underground, usually in old empty oil wells. That is a key element of the oil companies' and the government's pseudo-environmental strategy, even though the International Energy Agency, which is part of the OECD, believes that countries would be making a serious mistake if they were to make carbon capture the focus of their environmental strategy. The International Energy Agency believes that such technology is smoke and mirrors, that it is as of yet unproven and that, if it were to one day be used on an industrial scale, it would produce only marginal results at an exorbitant cost.
    Even knowing all that, the federal government wants to move forward with this technology. Why? To pander to the oil companies, of course. Independent media outlet The Narwhal released a document obtained though the Access to Information Act that shows that Suncor helped to write the government's environmental policy, particularly the section on carbon capture found in Bill C‑59. In December, we learned that the government met with oil and gas lobbies at least 2,000 times between 2022 and 2023.

  (1300)  

    That shows just how involved the oil companies are in writing the Liberal government's strategies. This will do nothing to help Quebeckers and Canadians fight the climate crisis. That is why we will be voting against this bill.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, I think of foreign investment, government policy on legislation and budgetary measures. Working with Canadians, on a per-capita basis, when we talk about gross number of dollars being invested in Canada, Canada is actually number one in the world with respect to foreign investment. Much of that investment goes toward renewable energy. Canada is now a leader when it comes to electric batteries. The value of communities are increasing greatly because of the mega-plants going into them, Volkswagen being one of them.
    Does the member recognize, whether through things like trade agreements and government policies, that we have seen an enhancement in investment that will ultimately contribute to the world because of many of the green projects that are taking place in Canada today?

  (1305)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, of course, when the government wants to invest just over $30 billion in clean technologies, names like that make a good impression. The government gets to feel like it is clearly investing in the environment. However, knowing that most of this money is going to the most polluting sectors of our economy, I wonder whether there is a way to ensure that this money is invested solely in renewable energy, not in the most polluting sectors. I do not know whether the strategy can be rewritten, but surely there is a way.
    At this time, I cannot congratulate the federal government for investing in green energy when I see that it is investing most of its money in carbon storage, utilization and capture. As I was saying, this technology is still unproven. It is very expensive and yields very few results. Most companies have not yet begun to implement these technologies, and yet our greenhouse gas reduction targets are just around the corner.
    How are we going to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, even if we invest all this money? I do not know.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, given that we are discussing the fall economic statement, is she concerned with the increase in the size of the national debt? In 2015, the national debt was $600 billion. After eight years, the government actually managed to double it. In fact, it has spent more money than all other prime ministers combined.
    Is she not concerned that we are on the wrong trajectory and that we need to get our budgets under control?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I agree that we need to spend smarter. We do not need new investments. The money we are already investing needs to be spent on different things.
    This $30 billion is going mostly to oil, but why not invest it in health transfers to the provinces instead? The government could also give more to Quebec for housing and allow Quebec to implement its own projects with the municipalities. There are plans on the table, and organizations are just waiting for federal funding. In my own region, apparently people got the green light from Quebec City and wanted to move forward, but there is no more money because the CMHC affordable housing fund is empty.
    Why not invest the money better and then balance public finances?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech, which clearly set out the Liberal government's inconsistencies and contradictions when it comes to the environment.
    She had an excellent question for the Conservative leader, who does not talk about the environment and the climate crisis at all.
    What does she think about the Conservatives' specious solution of using carbon capture to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions?
    Madam Speaker, carbon capture and storage is not a solution. The UN tells us so. The OECD and the International Energy Agency tell us not to focus all our efforts on that, not to put all our eggs in the carbon storage basket, because it will not work. We will not be able to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as much as we would like or hope.
    The government is quite ambitious, I must say. It has set its greenhouse gas reduction targets fairly high. However, it is not doing anything to reach them. The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development told us not long ago, in 2023, that a few measures here and there were good, but that the government was dragging its feet on implementing them. That is why it is not delivering results.
    The Conservative Party says that we need to get into carbon capture and storage, which they say is a good idea. Clearly, the party has not been getting its information from scientists, because they say that carbon capture and storage is not a good idea.
    Madam Speaker, since this is my first time rising to speak in 2024, I too would like to take a moment to wish you and the people of Terrebonne, whom I represent, a happy new year.
    Speaking of 2024, the clouds continue to gather and cast a shadow over the sunny ways this government promised a long time ago. Every elected member of the House was able to see, when they went home for the holidays, that Canadians and Quebeckers may finally have something in common: They are very worried.
    If we look closely at the key economic indicators, we have to admit that they are right to be worried. Housing prices continue to skyrocket, since vacancy rates are at record lows. What is more, food prices are soaring. We are still waiting for the postpandemic economic growth that was promised. When this economic statement was presented, there was no denying that urgent action was needed. Urgent action is still needed now.
    This government keeps assuring us that it is there to continue making progress for Canadians and that it will continue to be there. It was therefore with little hope that the Bloc Québécois and I did a deep dive into this economic statement. We wanted to see how, faced with so many challenges, the Liberal government would try to take action.
    Let us start at the beginning, with small and medium-sized enterprises. Last month, Statistics Canada published its figures on the health of our SMEs. Urgent action was needed for nearly 170,000 Canadian businesses that were in complete uncertainty. They were in limbo then, and they still are now. They had a choice between owing a lot of money, up to $60,000, to the government or owing money to a financial institution that, as we know, offers loans with very high interest rates. Some business owners have paid back the $40,000 by remortgaging their home or by dipping into their line of credit. Just imagine how much pressure these people are under after devoting their life to their business. If we do the math, we see that these 170,000 businesses represent a little less than 13% of all Canadian businesses with employees. More than one in 10 businesses is currently operating in a state of uncertainty, unable to repay its loan or unsure about its ability to repay it.
    Businesses, particularly SMEs, are not just the backbone of our economy. They are also a key part of the social fabric of many of our communities. However, in the economic statement, the government does absolutely nothing to help our SMEs and has decided to ignore the unanimous calls from the Quebec National Assembly, all of the premiers of all of the provinces, including Quebec, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Association Restauration Québec. They have all asked that the CEBA loan repayment deadline be extended. The government ignored them. It is simple. We have been and are still calling for the government to set up a direct line of communication with businesses that are having problems or that have questions. We are calling for flexibility regarding a program that the government created and then offloaded onto financial institutions.
    How can the government fail to understand that urgent action must be taken, when all politicians and businesses are unanimously asking it to prevent a wave of bankruptcies? This is urgent.
    Urgent action is also needed to address the unprecedented housing crisis. Over the past five years, the average rent in Quebec has increased by 25%, and CMHC predicts that this trend will continue until 2025, with an increase of up to 30%. This means that a growing number of households are spending more and more of their disposable income on housing, while the price of other nccessities also continues to rise. The cost of food, for example, increased by 5.9% in 2023, forcing the average family to pay an extra $700 a year to put food on the table. Since household income is not keeping pace with price increases, people's purchasing power is shrinking. Every year, Quebeckers and Canadians are gradually losing a huge proportion of their disposable incomes to pay for necessities like housing. In plain English, I am talking about how much they are paying just to get by.
    An emergency homelessness fund is also urgently needed to address the unprecedented crisis currently affecting Quebec and Canada. In Quebec, homelessness has increased by 44% in five years, which translates into nearly 10,000 people experiencing visible homelessness. This does not include hidden homelessness, which at any given time affects 8% of the population, mostly women. These are the coldest months of the year, and tens of thousands of people do not have a roof over their heads. The Bloc Québécois understood that urgent action was needed to deal with the situation, so it proposed establishing an emergency fund to help cities and municipalities support people experiencing homelessness.
    What does the economic statement have to say about that? Let us look at the housing page. Alas, there is nothing.

  (1310)  

    There is nothing planned until 2026. Is that what urgent action means to the current government? It seems like it. True, the government is eliminating the GST on housing construction, but Professor François Des Rosiers, who teaches real estate management at Université Laval, says that this measure will do nothing to solve the rental housing shortage because costs keep rising. This was hardly the best measure to propose when urgent action was needed.
    Worse yet, to top it all off, the government announced in its economic update that it will be creating a new department of housing, infrastructure and communities, to give the impression that it is doing something. The government essentially wants to establish a department of municipal affairs. That is called interference. We already have a federal department of housing, infrastructure and communities, but Quebec also has its own minister responsible for infrastructure.
    This announcement is likely the most important one that was made in the economic statement, but it is also the emptiest. Rather than actually dealing with the crisis, like the Bloc Québécois suggested by calling for the implementation of a emergency fund or an interest-free or very low interest loan program to stimulate the construction of affordable rental and social housing, the government is promising money in two years and creating a department of interference.
    The Bloc Québécois clearly identified priorities and even possible solutions to deal with the problems in each of these areas. We did the work for this government. However, the economic statement does not offer much in the way of new measures. At best, it reiterates the measures announced in the last budget. At worst, it completely ignores issues that are essential for the future of Quebec's and Canada's prosperity. Here is a very good example. In this budget, there is only one paragraph about the Canada emergency business account.
    It sums up the announcement made in September about the extra 18 days to pay off a $40,000 loan. Yes, 18 days. How generous. Clearly the government does not understand the meaning of the word “emergency” because, when there is an emergency, action needs to be taken. For eight years, this government has been hindering Quebec's prosperity. Whenever the Liberals are forced to take action, they consistently fail. Just look at the passport crisis, the housing crisis, the fight against climate change or even running water on reserves. They dislike taking action so much that they have to hire consultants to do the work for them.
    In two months, the Deputy Prime Minister will table a new budget. I hope it will be better than this economic statement. I hope it will be better for Quebec. Regardless, it will be just be one more reminder that there will never be a better budget for Quebeckers than a budget prepared by a sovereign Quebec.

  (1315)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I disagree with much of what the member said. I am sure she is not surprised by that particular comment. She referred to purpose-built housing, homes and apartments, where we are getting rid of the GST to encourage more growth. It is projected that there will be literally thousands of new units built as a direct result. Likewise, we now have provincial jurisdictions that are doing this with the PST.
     Would the member not agree that, if the provinces are now trying to duplicate what the federal government is doing, in an attempt to increase the supply of purpose-built homes, it is a good thing? Would she not support that?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my answer is quite simple: It is totally inadequate. It will probably not get any new rental and affordable housing built. Why? Interest rates are too high.
    It may make sense on a small scale, but interest rates are so high right now that no one is interested in borrowing money to build rental and affordable housing. It is totally inadequate.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their comments, which illustrate that the money provided by the federal government, by way of our taxes, I would point out, is not being invested in the right place.
    Speaking of urgent needs, there are two files we have been working for years, even though they both concern federal programs and involve no interference. The federal government spends more time interfering than looking after its own affairs.
    Old age security for our seniors is urgent, and so is employment insurance reform for workers in struggling socio-economic regions. These are two key measures for supporting Quebeckers. I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.

  (1320)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and friend for her excellent question.
    Old age security is indeed essential for many people who have reached a certain age and need it to live on. We also know that inflation is causing major headaches for these people who still need to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. However, the government did not increase old age security for all age groups, as it should have, despite the bill that was passed and that had been introduced by the Bloc Québécois.
    Another great example is employment insurance. It is one of the few files that is in the federal government's hands. How long have we been waiting for the reform, one year, two years or three years? I do not know how long it has been. Where is that reform? Why is there still nothing for employment insurance?
    Madam Speaker, when it comes to housing, we know that the government is not doing enough or acting quickly enough. However, there are ideas being floated, like creating an acquisition fund for non-profit organizations. There are other proposals.
    I wonder what sort of action the member would like to see the federal government take on housing.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague gave the example of an acquisition fund. We completely agree with that idea. In fact, we asked the former housing minister directly what he thought about an acquisition fund. Unfortunately, we did not get any response. It would be a very good solution for quickly creating affordable rental housing and put a roof over people's heads.
    We proposed establishing an emergency fund to address homelessness, which, as members know, has increased tremendously. I provided the figures in my speech. We are talking about another 10,000 persons who are experiencing homelessness. That is terrible. We absolutely need to bring in emergency measures and not wait until 2026.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am quite pleased to rise today to speak to this latest budget implementation act by the government.
    I have been listening closely to the debate, so I would like to start by offering some comments on it so far. Then I am going to talk a bit more about the bill.
    I had occasion to ask the Conservative leader not long ago here in the House about the problem of inflation that Canadians are experiencing. We know they are experiencing it, as we all are. When we go into a grocery store, we see the rising prices. We know people are struggling to stay in their homes. We see it on the street in our communities. We see more people pitching tents in order to have a roof over their head at night, such as it is. We hear stories, unfortunately, of cities focusing their energy on clearing out encampments of people with nowhere to go instead of trying to figure out how to create better homes that provide more warmth and support in a challenging winter. We are hearing about it from constituents, for instance, who are having to choose to cut pills or pay the rent. There are all sorts of ways in which this really difficult economic time is affecting Canadians, so the question for us here in Parliament is what to do about it.
    Certainly, the Conservative leader has a lot of opinions on that. My question earlier was why, when he talks about inflation and the hardship that Canadians are experiencing, he does not mention whether it is just in Canada. There have been some incredible studies here in Canada saying that price increases over and above the increase in costs for large corporations are responsible for 25% or more of the inflation that Canadians have experienced, so I want to be really clear that those are not price increases. We know that, particularly, a lot of small and medium-sized businesses in our communities are experiencing higher costs and have to pass them on to their consumers. Even some big corporations are experiencing higher input costs, and some of that gets passed on to consumers. However, we are talking about price increases that go above and beyond that increase in costs.
    It is no excuse to say that they are simply passing on those costs, because they are not. If 25% or so of inflation is attributable to price increases above the additional costs, it means corporations are taking that 25% home in profits. When we look at the profits of oil and gas companies, which increased by 1000% from 2019 to 2021, as an example, those were not increases of passing on costs. Some increases contributed to inflation by being additional price increases just for the purpose of paying higher dividends to corporate shareholders and bigger wages to corporate executives. Therefore, how can the Conservative leader pretend to be serious about addressing the problem of inflation when he is completely silent about the corporate greed that is driving a quarter or more of that very inflation? I would submit that it is not possible. It is not credible.
     I am proud to be part of an NDP caucus in which the leader is willing to name that problem here in the House of Commons and acknowledge that we will not have a solution to the inflation problem in Canada if big corporations continue to feel they can increase prices with impunity. That is a major driver of inflation and hardship for Canadians. I think it speaks to the electoral choices that Canadians have. We have a Conservative opposition here that would frame itself as an alternative to the Liberals. However, if we actually look at this blind spot, the corporate-controlled Conservatives are not willing to acknowledge it, or do not see it, whichever it is. I will not speak to the question of intention here, but I will just say that it is a blind spot, whether wilful or not. What this means is that, if they were in government themselves, they would continue to do what the current government does. They would be prone to saying that the problems will go away if we just trust the market to deal with them. They would refuse to acknowledge the role that unbridled corporate greed is playing in creating the economic problem that Canadians are facing today.
    One example of the ways this has manifested with the current government is with respect to housing. The real meat of its housing proposal in the fall was all about “creating more room for the market to solve the housing crisis”.

  (1325)  

    I do not really think we are going to get market solutions to the housing crisis. I do not think that is a revelation. I do not think that is particularly controversial. I know that the market, since the federal government, in the mid-90s, stepped away from producing non-market housing, has had 30 years to solve our housing problems. Instead of solving them, it has created a crisis that is accelerating and getting worse.
    Simply freeing up Crown land and handing it off to developers to do what they will is not going to solve the problem. The same motive of corporate greed has been driving this housing crisis for decades now and has become particularly acute in the last few years, and nothing about that basic structure will have changed if we are still just expecting market players to solve this crisis.
    We heard at the finance committee, from home developers, financiers and real estate people, that the market is not going to solve this problem. That is not to say that we do not need more market housing. It is not to say that there would not be more housing built by the market; of course there will be. That is not where we need the attention of government, though. The attention of government has to be on the part that the market will not do and has not been doing, and that is non-market housing.
     To say that we want to see the government focus specifically on non-market housing is not to discount the role of the market and market housing; it is just to say that the public policy attention of the government does not have to be there. In fact, the virtue of the market is supposed to be that the government does not have to get involved, so let them do their thing, but let us have the attention and the investment focus of our federal government be on addressing the very real problem of non-market housing, which has been neglected for 30 years and absolutely must return, in a significant way, in order for us to solve the housing crisis. It is a problem with the current government, and it will be a problem with any future Conservative government, because they share the same blind spot.
    What are some of the other things we could do if we acknowledge the role that corporate greed is playing? That is where I think the NDP has played an important role in twisting the arm of the Liberal government to do some things, like a 2% share buyback fee, so that companies cannot just go ahead and, for various kinds of maximization of profit strategies for their shareholders or for the corporation itself, buy back shares as a way of transferring wealth to their shareholders without paying any tax at all.
    It is of note, and something that New Democrats have been arguing for for a long time, well before this Parliament, that this legislation creates the possibility of implementing a digital services tax, which means a tax on the revenue of large, Internet-based companies, like Netflix and others, who, right now, are paying no tax in Canada at all. This does not make sense. They are not paying any corporate tax on the revenue that they raise in Canada. They get to walk it all out of the country for free.
    That does not make sense, and it puts traditional broadcasters at a disadvantage. We are seeing the effects that is having on our media market and the ability to hire journalists and pay them to do the work that they do, which plays an important part. However much we may disagree sometimes with the way that news media outlets frame certain issues, their work is, nevertheless, important to a well-functioning democracy. The fact that their competitors have not had to pay any tax at all does a disservice not just to them but to Canadians, who rely on news content for the functioning of our democracy.
    We have been pushing the government already in Bill C-56, and now again in the budget implementation bill, to make meaningful changes to the Competition Act that would allow for the Competition Bureau to play a greater and more effective role in ensuring that big corporations are not using their market power and their market position to pull one over on Canadians, to make the economy less competitive, and to have those outsized, excess price increases that I was talking about earlier, which are a significant factor in driving inflation.

  (1330)  

    Another thing we can do is to be willing to let corporations know, to the extent that they want to invest in Canada and create jobs in Canada, particularly in the natural resources sector, that there is an expectation that they are going to create good union jobs here in Canada in order to do it. That is why I am very proud of the labour conditions that are attached to the investment tax credits. This legislation would implement those labour conditions for the companies that are investing, with the use of this tax credit in clean technology, in carbon capture and storage. I am not actually that happy to hear about that technology, because I do not think that is the basket we should be putting our eggs in when it comes to emissions reduction; it's technology that has not been proven at scale. However, this government is determined to move ahead, and we hear a lot of positive comments about carbon capture and storage from Conservatives as well. Again, it is another shared blind spot of these two parties, the Liberals and Conservatives.
     Nevertheless, if that investment is going to be taking place in Canada, I want it to create good union jobs, and I want companies to know that they have to be paying the prevailing wage of the collective agreements in the trade union sector. That means those companies are not going to come in competing on who can pay Canadians the least to do that work. They are going to come in and have to compete on the things we want them to be competing on: How efficient is the technology? How efficient are they at building it? What are their production techniques? That is the way they should be competing. When they are earning a contract, it should be on that basis and not on the basis of how little they are prepared to pay their workers.
    Too often, in Canada, we have accepted a situation where we are happy to have companies come in and compete on the cost of labour and have a competition about who can pay Canadians the least to do a job that deserves a fair wage, good benefits and a proper pension. I am very proud that with this legislation we are going to be implementing, for the first time ever, conditions on an investment tax break that centres workers in the middle of it and has an apprenticeship requirement. Sometimes it can be a challenge to employers to hire apprentices. I have been an apprentice myself, and when I walked on the job site the first day, I did not know what I was doing. That is what an apprenticeship is like; it is meant to teach people. It is not always a profit maximization strategy for the employer in the short term.
    In the long term, employers with foresight see the value of passing on that training and knowledge and creating a workforce they can avail themselves of, but we know there are employers for whom that is not their strategy. They have a short-term focus and want to bring on the journeypeople. They want someone else to train apprentices, and then they want to poach them later.
    However, these tax credits will say that we, as a country, value training the trades workforce of tomorrow, and that if companies want a tax break on the investment, they have to be part of a culture of building that workforce and creating good jobs for Canadians, not just for today but also into the future, giving them the tools they need in order to be able to do that.
    We saw a Conservative government in Ontario use bankruptcy laws to shut down a post-secondary education institution. My colleague for Timmins—James Bay did a lot of work on raising awareness about what was wrong with that; it should never be done again. New Democrats have spearheaded the effort to get that done, and in this budget bill what we see is a provision that says that the bankruptcy and insolvency laws of Canada and the CCAA will not be able to be used again in the future to perpetrate that kind of nasty closure on a public institution. I am very proud of the work my colleagues have done on that, and it is something that I think ought to go forward.
    I want to come back to the housing question, because it is an important one. I said earlier that I thought in the fall that the Liberals' focus was on market solutions and that that is not where the focus of the government really needs to be, certainly not to the exclusion of working on non-market solutions. In this bill, what do we see? Well, the only thing that is really happening on the housing front is the creation of a new department of housing infrastructure and communities, which is just merging two departments that already exist. This is not what we do in the face of a crisis. This is not an administrative crisis; it is not that people are not pushing enough paper. It is that there is not enough housing getting built, and changing the name of the department without prioritizing things like recapitalizing the coinvestment fund, one of the few federal funds that is actually building non-market housing, does not make sense. It does not make sense to prioritize shuffling the words in the department name around over advancing that funding.

  (1335)  

    In the fall economic statement, the recapitalization that was much touted by the government as its action on the urgent housing crisis was back-loaded in the budget tables, meaning it will not be coming for another two years. This is particularly shameful when we consider that the territory of Nunavut alone has been asking, on an urgent basis, for $250 million to address the housing crisis that it is seeing and to meet the needs that the territorial government is being asked to respond to.
    We did not see a mention in the fall economic statement, and there is nothing in the bill, around the Kivalliq hydro link, which is a project that will help deliver power into parts of Nunavut. I hope it will also be accompanied with more broadband access in order to set the stage for more economic development in parts of Nunavut, as well as to try to reduce the reliance in Nunavut on diesel in order to power communities instead of bringing hydro up or, in the long term, perhaps, being able to produce enough electricity in a sustainable way that it could become a seller and bring own-source revenues to Inuit communities in Nunavut. That is the kind of long-term infrastructure investment that would make a lot of sense and that we do not see.
    Another important investment would be to upgrade the Cambridge Bay airport, which is an important hub for Nunavut. When we talk about Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic, we know that the best way to enhance it is to invest in the people who live there and provide them the tools and resources they need in order to have a strong economy, live in appropriate housing and have access to the services that people rightly expect in the 21st century.
    Instead, the rumour we have been faced with now for at least a month on Parliament Hill, a little longer if we go back to early December, is that the government is contemplating deep cuts at Indigenous Services Canada. New Democrats certainly want to know more about what the government is contemplating and the effects it will have on first nations, Inuit and Métis communities across the country. It is an area of significant concern for us and something that is not addressed here but that we expect to see addressed in the budget in terms of what the government's plan is and how we are going to ensure that indigenous communities are not once again left holding the bag when a government decides it wants to save money and continue a culture of corporate tax cuts.
    I want to come back to the question of the role that large corporations are playing in driving inflation. A report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer as recently as December 2021 said that just 1% of Canada's population owns and controls 25% of all of the wealth of the country, and the bottom 40% of income earners in Canada share just 1% of all of the wealth that is produced in Canada. If we think about it, that 25% number is 5% higher than it was at the turn of the century.
    What has happened since the year 2000 is that the proportion of wealth controlled by the top 1% increased by those five percentage points. I do not mean it increased by 5%; I mean that it went from 20% of overall wealth to 25% of overall wealth. In the same time, the corporate tax rate came down from 28% to just 15% today.
    We talk about Canadians feeling the squeeze and about the middle class being expected to pay more in taxes to make up for government spending, but the big hole in government revenue comes from the people in that 1%, who are walking away with that much more of Canada's overall wealth than they used to because they pay significantly less tax than they used to.
    That is why people wonder why it is that government cannot have a robust housing strategy. We used to be able to do it, and we did it coming out of the war. Well, yes, the marginal tax rate that the richest Canadians paid coming out of the war was way higher than it is today, and the corporate tax rate was way higher than it is today. Those things provided the revenue to invest in the middle class that then became the foundation for economic prosperity that lasted for decades. The reason that economic prosperity is drying up and the middle class is feeling the heat so much is that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have let the people at the top off from having to pay their fair share.
    That is what is making the difference in Canada. The fact that the Conservative leader will not name it means he will not fix it, and that is what Canadians need to know heading into the next election.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to follow up on a question regarding housing, because the member spent a lot of time speaking to housing. In the last number of years, and I made reference to this earlier, we have seen the federal government really getting into the area of housing. For many years nothing was being done, nothing was being developed.
    Today we can talk about the billions, but, more important, we can also talk about the need for the three levels of government to come to the table to address the housing issues that the member references. I am very sympathetic to the people living in bus shelters and so forth in the city of Winnipeg.
     Would he not agree that all three levels of government need to step up to deal with the housing crisis today?
    Madam Speaker, there certainly is work to do at all levels of government to address the housing crisis. The foremost role of the federal government in all this is as funder. Those other levels of government will come to the table when there is enough funding on the table to talk about making a significant difference.
    One of the things that would help, in addition to the funding itself, would be a far more regular offer. We are still having debates about when more money will be put into the co-investment fund, which is, as I said earlier, the fund that has produced the most non-market housing. Why is there not an annual offering? Why is this a question?
    The housing crisis took decades to develop. It is going to take a long time to solve. The idea that the federal government is just going to offer this money willy-nilly and not regularly on an annualized basis, so other levels of government can plan for the level of investment that is coming not just over the short term but the medium and long term, is laughable.
    The federal government needs to make annual commitments with a warning. We should not be needing to have this debate every time the fund is depleted. There is no way it is going to offer enough money in one offering to not have it depleted. Other levels of government need to know when the replenishment is coming so we can actually plan into the future for how we are going to solve this crisis.
    Madam Speaker, I was a little concerned about some of the comments the member was making. We all know that one of the reasons wealth has increased in Canada is in relationship to the increase in assets that many Canadians have through home ownership. One of the reasons those assets increased in value so much over the last number of years is because we did not build enough homes to keep up with the demand for housing.
    Why does the New Democratic Party continue to prop up a government that has not done enough to get more homes built? Why will it not lose its confidence in the government so we can have an election and Canadians can make a decision for themselves about which party will make the best housing policies for our country?

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, we respect the decision that Canadians made in an election about two short years ago, and we have seen it as our task to work in the context that Canadians created in order to deliver on the promises we made to Canadians, like a dental care plan, for instance, on which we have been working. People are receiving their letters to register for that program now. We will continue to do the work in the Parliament Canadians elected.
    We have a lot to say both now and at election time about what the Liberals have done on housing, what we would do differently and the glaring deficiencies of the so-called Conservative plan when it comes to housing. The idea that somehow we are going to have an election and the housing crisis is going to go away because those guys are going to do something different than these guys, when they are both obsessed with market solutions, is a little rich. No, I do not believe that, and I am prepared to do the work in the Parliament Canadians elected.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, happy new year to you and to all of my colleagues. I hope we will be gracious in our debates in 2024, if such a thing is possible.
    I thank my colleague for his speech, in which he talked extensively about housing. I think that off-market housing is, in fact, one of the solutions. We need to work on that. There are countries in Europe where between 20% and 30% of the housing stock is off-market housing. That is huge. In Canada, it is only 5%. We really have a lot of work to do. On the Island of Montreal, 1% of property owners own one-third of all the housing stock. The situation is the same in Vancouver and Toronto. We need to address that.
    The financialization of housing is a phenomenon that basically did not exist at the time the federal government was investing in housing, or before 1993. Now it is a factor. What can we do to address that problem? Does my colleague have any solutions?
    Madam Speaker, obviously, I think there is not just one thing, but several things we can do to tackle this problem.
    One of the things we could do is create an acquisition fund so that non-profits can have a chance to acquire a building when it comes on the market. Right now, they cannot access the necessary capital quickly enough to make an offer before a big company makes an offer and acquires that building. That is one solution.
    Another is to make sure that the big companies that are in the housing market pay a reasonable amount of tax, because there are mechanisms they use to avoid paying the regular amount of tax.
    I also think that building more off-market housing will have an effect on market value if people have the opportunity to buy off-market housing.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I could not agree more with my hon. friend from Elmwood—Transcona and his analysis. When we talk about inflation, we cannot leave out excess corporate profits. He referred to the large, unprecedented profits from oil companies.
    Does he agree with me that it essentially amounts to profits from war profiteering, because the profits went through the roof when Putin invaded Ukraine?
    Madam Speaker, we absolutely should have an excess profit tax on the oil and gas industry. We have seen it make a 1,000% increase in an industry that was already very profitable over the last number of years. This indicates that is not something where it is marking up prices to keep up with inflation. It saw an opportunity. The war was certainly part of that opportunity. It is shameful for companies to be using a global conflict to jack up its prices. They should not be allowed to do it.
    We have the power in Canada. Some of our allies have exercised the power that they have in their own jurisdictions, including a Conservative government in the U.K., which implemented an excess profit tax on the oil and gas sector. Why, in Canada, can we not find people on the government benches with the courage to do the same and reinvest some of those excess profits in the Canadian economy and in Canadians themselves?
    It is a real disappointment and it is certainly something that we will continue to talk to Canadians about, including at election time.

  (1350)  

    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to hear from the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona, who does a masterful job of highlighting the hypocrisies and contradictions of both Liberals and Conservatives. He raised a very important question today about workers.
    He spoke about our responsibility to workers. I want to take a moment and highlight a recent visit we had to IBEW's training facility in Alberta, the 424 Union. It is doing a fantastic job training the next generation of workers in Alberta. We heard from it that our federal government had a responsibility.
    When it comes to procurement, there are some construction and infrastructure contractors out there who do something called “double breasting”. They make applications with union workers and then they come through and make applications with another side of their company with non-union workers, essentially driving down the prevailing wage on the backs of not just the workers but taxpayer investments as well.
    Could the hon. member, who I know is a proud member of IBEW, speak to the importance of a good prevailing wage and the procurement power of a federal government to ensure that workers get paid that union rate with good benefits and great pensions?
    Madam Speaker, that important question highlights the important role that government decision-making plays in honouring the idea that workers deserve respect and they deserve fair wages. That is why it is important to have good labour laws. That is why I am proud that we are pushing for anti-scab legislation and that the bill is beginning to progress through the legislative process.
    There are other things we can do to reinforce collective bargaining rights and we do not do that when we allow this kind of double breasting to go on, which undermines workers.
    Madam Speaker, happy new year to you and to all colleagues in the House.
    Today, we have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-59, which is the legislation that would implement the initiatives in the fall economic statement before Christmas.
     Before I get too much further, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Nepean.
    One of the things I contemplated over the Christmas break was the decorum in this place. I know that will be something on which those who sit in the chair will be focused. I will commit to those who are here today, and indeed to the House, that we will have robust debate but we should try to keep it within the confines of respectful debate at the same time.
    The fall economic statement from this government was focused on two core issues: affordability and housing. Those are top-of-mind issues at home in Kings—Hants. I want to talk first about the economic context, because affordability is a top-of-mind issue, but it is important for my constituents, and for Canadians across the country, to understand where we are at in the current economic context. If all they did was listen to the Conservative opposition bench, they would never really understand some of the positive things that are happening vis-à-vis Canada's economic growth and particularly our investment climate right now.
    Inflation is a global issue. The last statistic by Statistics Canada shows that Canada had a 3.4% inflation rate in the month of December 2023, and we are working to try to help bring that under control. However, where does Canada rate in a global context? I pulled out some statistics from around the world: Germany, 3.7%; France, the same; U.K., just over 4%; and United States is on par with Canada. I would submit that Ireland, India, Australia and New Zealand are all comparable countries and they have higher inflation rates than Canada right now.
     I know that is cold comfort. I do not say this to Canadians and to my constituents to suggest that this government will rest on its laurels, but it is important, because when we hear the opposition members talk, they suggest that Canada is a laggard in the world with respect to the affordability question. We have work to do and we will continue to do that work. However, make no mistake, it is important to contextualize that as we move forward.
    How about our debt-to-GDP ratio? When we listen to the member for Carleton and the opposition, they would suggest that Canada is in a terrible situation vis-à-vis its debt-to-GDP ratio. That is not the case. Canada is actually a leader in the G7 with respect to net debt-to-GDP ratio and it also has the lowest deficit in the G7. Again, we do not hear that being said very much from the opposition benches. It is important for Canadians to understand that.
    The number that I thought was quite important is investment in the country. Yes, we want Canadian equity firms and Canadian businesses investing in our country, but we know that in a globalized economy we want other countries and companies around the world to come to Canada and invest in our economic success as well.
     A number that is quite striking is foreign direct investment in 2023. Canada was third overall in the entire world. We are 40 million people. We are a relatively small country with respect to population in the world, but of course rich in resources and ingenuity. We are third in the world, not per capita but over all, behind U.S. and Brazil. That is an incredible feat. It is something of which every Canadian, and every member of Parliament in the House, should be proud. It is being driven by this government's view of investing and driving future growth, particularly in a transition to a lower-carbon economy. This is a significant number that Canadians should understand.
    However, when we talk about affordability, we have to also balance spending with responsibility. We are in an environment now where we saw the Bank of Canada, through the governor, Tiff Macklem, hold interest rates at 5%. His indication to the Canadians, to the public, and to this government is that we will expect to see decreases in the benchmark interest rate over the next couple of months. That is extremely important.
     I am proud of the way in which this government has walked a very careful line between putting out supports to vulnerable Canadians, but at the same time being mindful that we do not want the spending that does take place to further drive inflation. The Bank of Canada has been very clear that this has not happened to date, and it is important that this government continue to do this. I for one, and I know my colleagues in all corners of this place, will be focused on that question as well.

  (1355)  

    With respect to housing, I want to tell a story. I represent Kings—Hants, a rural riding in Nova Scotia, just outside Halifax in the beautiful Annapolis Valley. Come see us sometime. Indeed, that invitation is to all Canadians. I remember knocking on doors during the 2019 election, as a new candidate. I would go to rural areas of my riding, where there would be a for sale sign on a property. I would go in and talk to the homeowner, and I would note, of course, that they were trying to sell their house. They would say they were concerned they would never be able to sell their house. They had had it on the market for two years and were worried they would never be able to get the equity to be able to retire or move on with their life.
    If one were to come to my riding right now, there is little to no real estate available whatsoever. I want people to understand that, in fact, in Nova Scotia, that is a good thing because for years, we were concerned about our demographic trends. In fact, for my generation, as someone who is 33 years old, when I was coming out of university, there were a lot of folks who were actually moving elsewhere in the country. We have reversed that trend in Atlantic Canada. That is a good thing.
    Economic growth and population growth are good things, but we need to have the housing to keep pace. We have heard commentary in this place about past iterations of federal governments, both Liberal and Conservative, that have not invested in housing, particularly social housing. I am pleased to say that this is something that has changed under the current government. The philosophy is to invest in public housing, along with market housing, which that the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona mentioned. Both have to happen at the same time. I would point Canadians to the fact of our most recent investment, which is removing the HST on purpose-based rental housing.
    Again, owning one's own home is extremely important, and we will want all Canadians to have that opportunity. However, some people are in a situation where affordable rentals are also extremely important. I have seen the cost of rentals go up, in the community of Kentville, for example, from being in the range of $1,200 a few years ago to now upwards of $2,000, because of the pressure we have seen.
    All three levels of government have to be part of this.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Madam Speaker, we mourn the lives lost in a Quebec mosque seven years ago today and recognize the trauma suffered by Canada's Muslim community on account of Islamophobia.
    We also mourn the tens of thousands of civilians, including thousands of innocent children, who have been killed by Israel in Gaza. The majority of Gaza's traumatized surviving population has been displaced and needs humanitarian intervention.
    Three days ago, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Out of respect for the rule of law, Canada should help Israel to comply with that order.
    Canada and its allies should reinstate UNRWA funding, considering the devastating humanitarian cases in Palestine.

Lunar New Year

    Madam Speaker, I wish a happy new year to you and to everyone in the House.
     Over the past holiday season, our diverse communities in Don Valley North and across Canada have come together to celebrate a range of festivities, including Hanukkah, Shabe Yalda, Christmas and the new year.
    Building on the spirit of celebration and diversity, I would like to remind the House of the motion passed in 2016 that recognized the lunar new year in order to highlight our vibrant Asian communities and the invaluable contributions Asian Canadians are making to our society. The auspicious dragon symbolizes strength and prosperity. This year the dragon heightens fortune for those born in the years of the rat, tiger, horse and rooster.
    I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous lunar new year. Gong xi fa cai. San nin fai lok. Saehae bok mani badeuseyo. Chúc mung năm moi.

Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, there are many kinds of silence: the silence of indifference, the silence of complicity and the silence of cowardice. The government's refusal to take a clear position on South Africa's baseless case at the ICJ, its about-face on its once-respectable UN voting record and its abject failure to protect Jews in this country betray all three of those vices.
    Calls for the extermination of Jews in Canada have been normalized by the morally bankrupt Liberal brain trust. On Canadian values, the Prime Minister responds with silence, only to amplify the hate. Worse, he stokes it. This weekend's International Holocaust Remembrance Day should have been a stark reminder that “never again” is right now.
    Silence in the face of lies can be as damaging as the deliberately confusing position of the Prime Minister. He has one group of MPs say one thing to one community, and he sends another group to say the exact opposite to another community. The calculated silence may be deafening, but everyone hears their shameful cynicism loud and clear. Canadians will get the moral clarity they deserve when—
    The hon. member for St. John's East.

Government Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, with 2024 in full swing, our team is tackling head-on the issues Canadians are facing, with affordable housing, the Canada child benefit, child care, dental care, affordable home heating, green jobs and more money back in their pockets.
    For St. John's East, I am focused on supporting residents through my constituency office, ensuring that Newfoundland and Labrador's unique needs are heard in Ottawa and building more housing, supporting seniors and families, and creating more local jobs.
    We are putting Canadian families first, and this does not involve cuts, far right tactics or exploiting people's fears. That may get social media likes, but it does not get the job done.
    We are pushing forward with legislation to help Canadians, all of which the opposition has voted against, signalling what it would do if it is in government.

[Translation]

Roger Pomerleau

    Mr. Speaker, Roger Pomerleau has died. He took with him a small piece of Quebec's very soul. He loved Quebec and its people as fiercely as he cherished its language and its culture.
    Roger Pomerleau was a Bloc Québécois member of Parliament from 1993 to 1997 and again for Drummond starting in 2008, when he succeeded the late Pauline Picard.
    Above all, Roger was an outstanding party supporter. Whether for the Bloc Québécois or the Parti Québécois, Roger was active in every campaign. Anyone who ever saw former MP Roger Pomerleau campaign on the phone will no doubt have a vivid memory of the experience. He was a man of conviction and unfailing integrity and, first and foremost, he was a man of action.
    Roger Pomerleau has left us to join other illustrious members of our political family, members with names like Lévesque, Bourgault, Miron, Julien, Leclerc, Landry, Falardeau and many others. We stand on the shoulders of these giants who are now gone, having eased the way for us to finally keep our promise to give Roger the little bit of country that we owe him, in return for everything he did to achieve it.
    Farewell, Roger.

  (1405)  

Wishes for the New Year

    Mr. Speaker, as the year begins, I want to wish everyone in Sherbrooke a happy new year. I wish them a year of opportunities, a year of kindness to preserve our sense of safety, a year of good health. I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in my team who, day after day, endeavour to meet the needs of the public with skill and compassion as they support me in every aspect of my work.
    Olivia is professional and experienced; Jacques is passionate and sensitive; Gabriel is capable and understanding; Marie is creative and approachable; Clémence is courteous and effective; Clément is curious and multi-talented; and Jocelyne manages finances carefully and diligently. I am very grateful to be able to rely on such a skilled and dedicated team. Their commitment helps us provide quality service and creates a positive and inspiring work environment. I thank them.
    I wish everyone a happy new year.

[English]

Emergencies Act

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal government is not worth the cost to Canadians' freedom.
    In a landmark victory for the freedoms of all Canadians, the federal court has just confirmed what most Canadians already knew, that the use of the Emergencies Act in 2022 was illegal and unconstitutional. Two years ago, the Prime Minister decided to violate the charter rights of Canadians to deal with a political crisis of his own making. The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act directly violated Canadians' most essential rights to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. The federal court found that in the illegal use of the act, reasons were not provided for the decision to declare a public order emergency, and that it did not satisfy the requirements of the Emergencies Act.
    A Conservative government led by the Leader of the Opposition will ensure that the Emergencies Act can never again be used to silence political opposition. Conservatives will always defend the rights—
    The hon. member for Kitchener South—Hespeler.

Wendi Campbell

    Mr. Speaker, on Monday, January 15, the Waterloo region lost a great community leader, with the passing of Wendi Campbell, the former CEO of the Waterloo region's food bank, a position she held for 15 years.
    Wendi stepped up and completely revamped the delivery of food during the outbreak of COVID-19, which instantly precluded volunteers and staff from sorting food donations. She packed a lifetime of service in her short 53 years, procuring over 40 million pounds of food for the Waterloo region and surrounding areas.
    Despite courageously battling cancer for 19 months, Wendi never lost the optimism that governed her life. My thoughts are with her husband, Craig; her parents, Robert and Barbara Oakes; and her children, Maddie and Ben, who lost their mother way too soon. She was truly inspirational and will be greatly missed by the entire community.
    May her memory be a blessing.

[Translation]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, seven years ago, a heinous act took the lives of six men and injured 19 others at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec.

[English]

     Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thatbi were fathers, husbands, brothers and loved ones. They were targeted simply because of their faith, simply because they were Muslim.
    Unfortunately, Canada has also seen an alarming rise in discrimination as a result of the conflict in Gaza. People who are Muslim, Palestinian and Arab feel what is happening intensely. They are yelling on the inside but are asked to be patient and to endure. They are feeling their freedom of speech curtailed.
    Last year, the government appointed the first special representative on combatting Islamophobia. She has done an excellent job in addressing the issues.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this Prime Minister, life has never been more difficult for Canadian families. Meanwhile, for him and his Liberal friends, life has never been better. Clearly, a Prime Minister who takes a free vacation worth $84,000 is out of touch with the plight of Canadians who are struggling to make ends meet.
    Many Canadians can no longer afford to live or to dream; they had to scale back or cancel their plans over the holidays because of Liberal policies that have driven up the cost of living. The Prime Minister has proven once again that he is out of touch with Canadians, that he thinks only of himself and that he is not the right man for the job. His office is doing its best to conceal his actions by using various manoeuvres and to lull us into believing a distorted version of the facts ahead of the ethics commissioner's appearance before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
    Canadians will not be fooled. They will remember this Prime Minister's luxurious activities and lifestyle.

[English]

Tamil Heritage Month

    Mr. Speaker, as the month of January comes to an end, I want to take a moment to recognize Tamil Heritage Month.
    I had the pleasure of visiting the Hindu temple in my riding to celebrate Thai Pongal. I want to thank the president of the Senior Tamils' Centre, Pari Srikanthan, for inviting me and Henry Soosaipillai for accompanying me. In keeping with the theme of “Tamilicious: Tamil Food”, we celebrated Thai Pongal.
    We honour the vibrant and invaluable contributions Tamil Canadians have made to our country. We also recognize that Tamils faced discrimination and persecution, and many came to Canada to escape this. Today, the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia, is a day that reminds us of this.
     Let us build a Canada where all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, feel they belong. Let us all fight discrimination and hate to keep Canada the inclusive and welcoming nation we are proud to call home.

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this NDP-Liberal government, life in Canada has become unaffordable. It is unthinkable to continue the inflationary carbon tax scheme while millions of Canadians are relying on food banks and are forced to choose between heating and eating.
    The government surely understands there is no way to produce food without using energy to dry grain, to heat barns and to bring food to our grocery stores. The Prime Minister wants to quadruple the carbon tax from 14¢ per litre to 61¢ per litre. Farmers in my communities are paying thousands of dollars in carbon tax every month. The Prime Minister is just not worth the cost. The carbon tax carve-out is necessary for farmers to help fight food inflation. In response to the government's relentless pressure, the so-called independent senators gutted Bill C-234.
     I call on the House to stop with the desperate tricks that are preventing farmers from getting the needed carve-out, drop the Senate amendments and send Bill C-234 back to the Senate in its original form.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, over the holidays, I heard how after eight years of this NDP-Liberal government, Canadians are struggling to pay their bills and keep roofs over their heads. They know that the Prime Minister is not worth the cost.
    Our leader, my Conservative colleagues and I are back to show Canadians they have a simple choice in the next election. On the one hand they can have a costly coalition of the NDP and Liberals that takes their money, taxes their food, punishes their work, doubles their housing costs and unleashes crime and chaos in their communities or they can choose the common-sense Conservatives and our common-sense plan.
    We are back to address the priorities facing Canadians, starting with a focus on passing Bill C-234 to take the carbon tax off farmers and to bring food prices down.
    Our priorities are clear: axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime.
    Let us bring it home.

Freedom of Religion

    Mr. Speaker, seven years ago today, peaceful Muslim worshippers were gunned down in Quebec.
    Three years ago, when the Afzaal family were brutally murdered because of their faith, every single political party leader in the House stood on the steps of the London mosque, recognized that Islamophobia is real and vowed to protect the Muslim community in the face of hatred.
    Today, on the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia, we not only commemorate the victims and survivors but also reflect on whether we have taken action to combat Islamophobia in all of its forms, including the suppression of expression.
    Our government declared January 29 a national day of remembrance, invested millions in our national anti-racism strategy and appointed a special representative on combatting Islamophobia.
    More needs to be done by all political leaders in the House and indeed by all Canadians.
    We remember.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Religious Freedom

    Mr. Speaker, it was almost 8 p.m. on January 29, 2017, and evening prayers had just finished at the Quebec City mosque. Suddenly, a young man burst in and opened fire on those who were there. He killed six men and wounded 19 others in the worst racist terrorist attack in Quebec's history.
    In the weeks and months leading up to this mass crime, the young man regularly visited the websites of right wing extremists and white supremacist influencers. Driven by fear and hate, he committed an unspeakable act. He coldly and methodically killed people because they were Muslim.
    This reminds us that words and speech are important. Every word has power. We have a collective responsibility to fight Islamophobia and all forms of racism and dehumanization of any group of people. Let us work together to foster kindness, dialogue, understanding and friendship so we can build a world for everyone.

Freedom of Religion

    Mr. Speaker, seven years ago, a gunman killed six people and wounded 19 others at the Quebec City mosque just because they were Muslim.
    This attack sent a shockwave across Quebec and made us all painfully aware that we are not immune to such hateful acts.
    Justice was served and the gunman ended up in prison, where he belongs, but our society as a whole must now be vigilant to ensure that intolerance never becomes commonplace. In case some people need to hear it again, I want to say that freedom of religion is guaranteed in Quebec and that no one should feel threatened because of their faith.
    Today, our thoughts are with the victims' families, with all Muslims in Quebec and with all Quebeckers, who will always have to live with the consequences of this traumatic event. We all stand together in saying, “Never again”.

Freedom of Religion

    Mr. Speaker, today is a difficult day for the Muslim community in Sainte‑Foy and across Canada. In fact, it is a difficult day for all Canadians, as we mourn the six lives stolen by a heinous terrorist at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec on this day seven years ago.

[English]

    Our thoughts are with their families, with the 19 people who suffered injuries in addition to those who were murdered and with the many others who are left with mental scars that will never fully heal.
    As we reflect on the tragic fate they suffered as a result of this evil monster, we must also reflect on the promise of freedom, peace and safety that they were guaranteed as Canadians and that was viciously stolen by the forces of hate and Islamophobia.
    It must never happen again. We must stand on guard for our Muslim friends and neighbours, for all Canadians, to have the right and the freedom to worship in peace and security.

Sathiajothi Selvakone

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to honour Dr. Sathiajothi Selvakone, a proud Tamil Canadian who lived a life of extraordinary service and impact. Like countless Tamil Canadians, Sathiajothi and her family were forced to flee the Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka, having personally endured the horrors of communal violence in the 1958 anti-Tamil pogrom.
    Sathiajothi became a pillar of the early Tamil community in British Columbia, helping to house and feed, and translate for, newly arrived Tamil refugees. She and her husband invested their time and resources to uplift the community while giving voice to the atrocities unfolding in their homeland. In 2022, Sathiajothi helped establish the Tamil chair at the University of Toronto to help preserve the Tamil language.
    On January 3, surrounded by the love of her daughters, Suhanya and Meera, Sathiajothi peacefully departed from this world. She will be remembered as a loving mother, a lifelong learner and a fearless advocate for the Tamil people whose legacy lives on in the countless lives she has touched.

  (1420)  

[Translation]

National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia

     Following discussions among representatives of all parties of the House, I understand there is an agreement to observe a moment of silence to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action against Islamophobia.
    I would now invite hon. members to rise and honour the memory of the victims of the attack that happened seven years ago, on January 29, 2017.
    [A moment of silence observed]

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by welcoming the Prime Minister back to Canada after his big $80,000-plus free vacation. It was a gift he received. He said the situation was like that of every other Canadian who has had a similar vacation.
    Apparently, he has not spoken to the two million Canadians forced to use food banks to eat, or the students in Montreal who have to resort to alternative types of housing now that his policies have tripled the cost of rent in his hometown.
    Will the Prime Minister reverse the inflationary policies that are preventing construction, so that our students can—
    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, seven years ago today, six Muslim Canadians were murdered and 19 others were seriously injured in a terrorist attack at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Sainte-Foy, simply because of their religious beliefs.
    We mourn the loss of those who were brutally murdered, and we stand with all those who have suffered because of Islamophobia, because of hate.
    In the past few months, Muslim communities in Canada have witnessed a disturbing rise in hate speech and discrimination. Now, more than ever, we need to stand with—
    The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, some two million Canadians are having to turn to food banks. Students are being forced to live in homeless shelters.
    The cost of housing has doubled in Quebec City and tripled in Montreal. Across Canada, the cost of housing has doubled since this Prime Minister promised to reduce it.
    Will the Prime Minister finally reverse the policies that are creating more bureaucracy and causing inflation, so that home builders can give Canadians an affordable place to call home?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative leader is resorting to personal insults to derail the debate on housing and prevent people from recognizing that he has no plan. Canadians know that shouting slogans does not build housing.
    The leader tried unsuccessfully to delay removing the GST from rental construction and he voted against the housing accelerator fund, which is contributing to the construction of over half a million new homes.
    We have made a great deal of progress and we will continue to do so.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the Prime Minister back from his $80,000 vacation, which he got for free. He said, like most Canadians, friends welcomed him for that vacation. He took not one but two private jets paid for by the taxpayer, burning 100 tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. He wants to tax the heat and the food of Canadians.
    Did he pay the full carbon tax on each of the 100 tonnes of emissions that he put into the atmosphere as part of his $80,000 vacation?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative leader has simply no plan to address climate change in this country and has no plan to increase the resilience of our communities in the fight against climate change.
    A warming climate causes droughts. Droughts damage crops. Damaged crops increase the cost of groceries. However, the Conservative Party cannot even agree on whether climate change is real.
    We will achieve our emissions reductions, all the while sending Canadians cheques to help with the cost of rising prices. There are real solutions.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says that greenhouse gas emissions are driving up grocery prices. He put 100 tonnes of emissions into the atmosphere for his personal vacation. This is high-tax, high-flying, high-carbon hypocrisy. Meanwhile, Canadians in Edmonton were facing -50°C temperatures on which they were paying carbon taxes just to heat their homes and to stay alive.
    Given that he gives himself a free vacation at other people's expense, will he at least allow Canadians to heat their homes without his tax?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative leader likes to talk about the challenges Canadians are facing around the cost of living, but he refuses to take action and support them. He chose to delay the passage of Bill C-59, which is also hurting his own caucus.
    Does the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster now suddenly oppose maternity leave for adoptive parents? Surely, the member for Cumberland—Colchester will not back down on his advocacy to remove the GST on therapy and counselling services.
    While the Conservative leader is muzzling his own caucus and putting himself first, we will keep putting Canadians—

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, this one is just too easy. He walked into it. He had to muzzle a member from Newfoundland who called for an end to his leadership, joining another senator who did the same. They understand that their constituents are literally starving and unable to heat their homes because the Prime Minister is quadrupling the carbon tax, doubling housing costs and giving the worst inflation in 40 years.
    Why will he not listen to, instead of intimidating, his member from Newfoundland and put his leadership of the Liberal Party up for a review?
    Mr. Speaker, over the course of the fall, we have announced projects on housing that are going to create a half a million new homes across this country over the year. We are working hand in hand with community leaders and with mayors. We are making sure that we are moving forward on the priorities that are facing Canadians.
    In terms of standing up for his caucus, the leader across the way will not even mention the fact that the person sitting three seats to his left sat and dined with a far-right Conservative German politician and wants to abolish the United Nations.
    Is abolishing the United Nations now the official position of the Conservative Party of Canada?

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, this is going to take a while.
    The House unanimously adopted a motion calling on the government to consult Quebec and the provinces on immigration targets. However, the government seems to be using the policies suggested by McKinsey and the Century Initiative, and even more, because at this rate, the population will hit 100 million by the end of the century.
    Is the government disregarding the House's unanimous vote and injunction or will it review its policies with Quebec and the provinces?
    Mr. Speaker, immigration is essential for Quebec and for Canada. Immigrants contribute to building new housing, they work in our health care system, they participate in growing economies and local businesses and much more.
    We are meeting our economic needs, we are remaining true to our humanitarian commitments and we are developing a stabilized approach to immigration.
    Our immigration levels are based on our capacity to welcome and integrate newcomers. We will continue to work in close collaboration with the provinces and territories, especially Quebec, to ensure that everyone has the—

  (1430)  

    The hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly.
    Mr. Speaker, if things are stabilized at the current number, then things will be good in the coming decades. It seems to me like we are hearing the same thing as we did at the end of the last session. We are beginning a new session. Let us do so with a new state of mind.
    The Premier of Quebec sent a letter asking the Canadian government to ensure the fair distribution of asylum seekers across Canada. That seems very reasonable to me. We are talking about humanitarian issues, not economic ones.
    Will the Prime Minister do that, while also ensuring that Quebec's demographic weight is respected?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that Quebec has always been extremely generous to asylum seekers. We saw it at Roxham Road and we are seeing it in the current situation.
    The reality is that we will continue to be there to support Quebec's system and the communities that are so generous in welcoming people, while ensuring that everyone contributes.
    Yes, we are working with Quebec and other provinces to ensure better distribution, as well as to address the challenges resulting from the increased number of temporary residents and asylum seekers.

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, things have gotten bad, really bad. The City of Edmonton had to declare a housing and homeless emergency.
    The Conservatives are laughing about homeless people and a housing crisis, but Toronto had to declare one as well. Again, we hear the Conservatives laughing because they have no concern for people who are struggling with housing or who are homeless.
    The Liberal government does not care either. The Liberals have been in power for nine years, and they do not get it. The Prime Minister does not get it, the Liberal minister in Edmonton does not get it and the 24 Liberal MPs in Toronto do not get it.
    Why does this government wait until things are at a breaking point before acting?
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

[Translation]

    Everything was going well up until this point. I would ask the hon. members for Edmonton West and South Shore—St. Margarets not to speak unless the Chair has recognized them.
    The right hon. Prime Minister.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when we said we would use every tool at our disposal to address housing affordability, we meant it. The Minister of Housing recently announced that post-secondary institutions can now access the apartment construction loan program for low-interest financing to build student housing. This builds on our work to find innovative and bold ideas to accelerate construction, including unlocking over 500,000 new homes through the housing accelerator agreement. These are more examples of the federal government in action.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister just does not get it.

[Translation]

    Surprise, surprise, the Prime Minister has broken another promise. While the country's renoviction rate is at an all-time high, he is refusing to take on the big investors as he promised to do.
    Why does the Prime Minister say one thing on the campaign trail and then defend his friends' profits once in power?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we are taking action on several fronts. We are promoting apartment and co-op construction by eliminating the GST on construction. We are removing barriers in order to get more homes built faster by working directly with municipalities, and we are helping Canadians save for a home with the first home savings account. We know there is still work to be done.
    I invite all governments across the country to take bold steps alongside us to improve the cost of housing and speed up the construction of affordable housing.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister must still have sand in his ears from his Jamaican vacation. That must be why he cannot hear the outcry from Canadians suffering from his carbon tax. While he was lining up at the all-inclusive, Canadians were lining up at food banks, and grocery prices jumped again, 38% higher than baseline inflation.
    Now, a common-sense Conservative bill, Bill C-234, would help bring prices down by taking the tax off farm production. The only problem is this: Liberal senators gutted the bill.
    Will the government reject the Senate amendments so the tax can come off and food prices can come down?
    Mr. Speaker, our government absolutely understands that housing and the cost of living are challenges for Canadians. That is why we are aggressively working across the country to build more homes faster. The housing accelerator fund, with more than 30 agreements in place across Canada, will lead to 500,000 new homes being built. However, the question is this: What will the Conservatives cut? They know how to cut, but they do not know how to build. Canada needs builders right now.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, we will cut the waste and mismanagement driving up inflation in the first place by cutting the Infrastructure Bank, high-priced consultants and money sent to the Asian infrastructure bank to build projects overseas instead of here at home.
    However, the question was about the carbon tax and why the Prime Minister is so pathologically obsessed with it. He does not care that Canadians are going to food banks, that mothers are watering down milk or that seniors are skipping meals. He even sent one of his ministers to go bully Liberal senators into gutting the bill.
    Once again, will they reject the Senate amendments so the tax can come off farming and food prices can come down?
    Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives talk about working families, everyone knows that those are crocodile tears. This is a party that has voted against early learning and child care, a revolutionary national program that is bringing down costs for hundreds of thousands of families across the country and allowing women to go to work. The Conservatives have voted against the Canada child benefit, which is a huge support for families across the country, and they are going to vote against dental care too.
    Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister has an opportunity to help families struggling with high food costs. Bill C-234 is back in the House after Liberal-appointed senators delayed and gutted the bill. This is a common-sense Conservative bill that would give a carbon tax carve-out to farmers and ensure that Canadians have access to affordable, Canadian-grown food.
    When the Prime Minister quadruples his carbon tax, farmers will pay $1 billion a year, driving up food costs even higher. Will the Liberals reject the Senate amendments, take the carbon tax off farming and lower food prices for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, let me tell members what is common sense for working families across our country: It is common sense to have a national system for early learning and child care, with fees reduced by 50% across the country and down to $10 a day in seven provinces and territories. It is common sense to support hard-working families with the Canada child benefit, which has lifted millions of children and families out of poverty. It is common sense to do what we are going to do this year, which is providing dental care to our seniors, having provided it to our children.
    The Conservatives opposed every single one of those things.
    Mr. Speaker, it is uncommon to see a government ignore the fact that two million Canadians are going to a food bank every single month, yet the Liberal-NDP carbon tax coalition wants to quadruple the carbon tax, making farming unsustainable. When we tax the farmer who grows the food and tax the trucker who hauls the food, we are increasing taxes on Canadians who buy the food. Again, millions of Canadians are going to a food bank every month, but Bill C-234 in its original form would provide relief now.
    Will the Liberals reject the Senate amendments, take the tax off and ensure that Canadians can afford to put food on their tables?
    Mr. Speaker, being a farmer, I fully understand how important an environmental plan is for the government. I am sorry that his party does not have an environmental plan. As a government, we do have an environmental plan, and with that environmental plan, for example, we were able to invest $1.5 billion into farmers and ranchers across this country to make sure they stay on the cutting edge. We have made sure and will continue to make sure that farmers and ranchers stay on the cutting edge.
    Mr. Speaker, never before have we seen ignorance used as a political strategy the way the current Liberal government uses it. It is shameful. At the end of the day, Canadians are struggling, day in and day out, to be able to heat their homes, to be able to put food on their tables and to be able to care for their families. The carbon tax only increases that cost more, and on April 1, the carbon tax is scheduled to go up yet again. The government is going to hike it again on April 1.
    Would the government choose to put its feet into reality and acknowledge the struggle everyday Canadians face? Will it show a bit of compassion, scrap the tax and stop the increase?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, earlier today the Conservatives were talking about hypocrisy, a subject they know a lot about. They are particularly hypocritical when it comes to talking about supporting working families and the most vulnerable. Since we formed government, 2.3 million Canadians have been lifted out of poverty. The poverty rate in Canada has been cut in half. Next, the Conservatives want to take carbon price rebate cheques out of the bank accounts of Canadian families. That is $1,000 in Ontario and more than $1,000 in Alberta and Saskatchewan. That would hurt Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, there is the government's false perception of reality, and then there is the reality that everyday Canadians are experiencing. I would invite the hon. member to consider what that reality actually is. If she could only come down from her high horse and enter the everyday life of Canadians, she might understand that not everyone lives in downtown Toronto and has access to the luxuries she does.
    Canadians are struggling. They are struggling to put food on their tables. They are struggling to pay their heating bills. They are struggling to be able to care for their families. Record numbers of Canadians are using food banks, and that has a lot to do with the carbon tax, which is scheduled to increase on April 1.
    Will the government axe the tax?
    Mr. Speaker, it is certainly the case that the vast majority of Canadians do not have access to the luxuries that the Leader of the Opposition enjoys: government-provided housing, a chef or people caring for his home. People who live in glass houses should be more careful about throwing stones. When it comes to the price on pollution, it returns more money to eight out of every 10 Canadians. Families in Alberta will be getting more than $1,000 back. That helps them.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, it is a new year, but the same problems remain at the federal level. Quebec is overwhelmed from welcoming asylum seekers. We welcomed more than 65,000 people in 2023. That is 45% of the total for Canada as a whole, when we represent 22% of the population.
    That is a lot more than our fair share. Quebec is reaching a breaking point. Those are not our words. The Premier of Quebec said so in a letter dated January 17 addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada.
    When will the federal government ensure that the provinces are welcoming their fair share of asylum seekers?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by welcoming my colleague from the Bloc back to Parliament. I understand that, for the Bloc, this is about the essence of immigration. Let us just make sure we work in the interests of immigrants.
    I had a good conversation with Minister Fréchette on Friday. We are prepared to do more. It is clear that Quebec has done more than its fair share, but we are here to work together.
    Mr. Speaker, I would invite all of the political parties to be mindful when they talk about immigration. The immigration minister already has one strike against him.
    At this point, one would think that the Liberals would have learned that when they fail to address problems, they never get resolved. They only get worse.
    When the House recessed in December, the federal government owed Quebeckers $460 million for taking in asylum seekers for whom Ottawa is responsible.
    Not only did the federal government do nothing, but it told us that it was not an ATM. As a result, the bill is now up to $470 million.
    When will the government reimburse Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, good news is coming this week.
    It is clear that relationships go both ways. We will continue to work with Quebec to deal with the record number of asylum seekers who have arrived this year. That is not something that is going to end any time soon. More work needs to be done by both levels of government.
    Mr. Speaker, that is better already. Quebec is also demanding that the federal government reinstate visas for Mexicans. Since the Liberals suspended visas, the number of refugee claims by Mexicans has risen from 110 in 2015 to 24,000 last year.
    Most of these applications are denied, meaning that the majority of these people are not refugees. Worse still, we know that these people can be trafficked by Mexican criminal groups that have a strong presence at Canada's borders. They are being exploited.
    Will the minister reinstate visas for Mexicans?
    Mr. Speaker, we are facing historic influxes, and not just from Mexico. It is clear that restrictions are needed, as I have said publicly.
    The member opposite has enough experience in politics and in the House to know that the details of such matters cannot be discussed in the public arena, knowing that people who do not have Canada's interests at heart could well make decisions based on what they hear.
    I urge my colleague to be patient, but it is clear that we are going to take action.

  (1445)  

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, every time the Prime Minister comes back from another extravagant vacation he did not pay for, or cabinet decides to have a meeting in a luxury hotel, more Canadians are left without an affordable home. Even more are worried about losing their homes.
    After eight years, the Liberals have doubled the cost of a home, the price of rent and the down payment that is needed to buy one. Interest payments on a mortgage are going up a staggering 30% this year. Eight years of the Liberal-NDP government's inflationary spending have made owning a home unattainable.
    How can anyone trust the people who created the crisis to fix it?
    Mr. Speaker, the opposition seems interested in drawing on the anxieties that people are experiencing, which are very real, when it comes to housing affordability in this country.
     However, when we actually look at the plan the Conservatives are putting forward, it is clear they have no idea what they are talking about. Where we are reducing taxes for home builders, they want to put taxes back on. Where we are making investments to promote affordable housing, they plan on making cuts. In fact, the Conservatives want to do away with the housing accelerator fund, which has now created 30 agreements that will see half a million homes added over the next decade.
    We will build the homes; they would make the cuts. Canadians can make their choice.
    Mr. Speaker, those are photo ops the minister is talking about.
    Home construction was down 7% last year. That is even worse than his nameless predecessor, who was fired from the gig. People cannot live in a photo op. The videos will not bring warmth to the 300,000 people without homes. His tweets will not help the single mom who is trying to make her mortgage payment next month. His press conferences will not help the thousands of young people trying to move out of their parents' basements.
    Why will the minister not stop subsidizing the bureaucracy that is blocking construction to focus on getting builders with shovels in the ground?
    Mr. Speaker, what the Conservatives dismiss as photo ops are binding agreements with cities that have led them to already change their rules to get more homes built.
    What they dismiss as press conferences included a new measure this morning that is going to extend low-cost loans to colleges, universities and builders to help those young people find a home and free up supply in communities.
    If the Conservatives are concerned with housing stats as the appropriate metric, I would point out that never once when the opposition leader was the housing minister did he get as many homes built as we did last year.
    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the NDP-Liberal government, Canada's housing crisis keeps getting worse. Canada saw over 17,000 fewer housing starts in 2023 than in 2022, and the average asking rent in British Columbia is now $2,500 a month. Working-class people are living in their cars in parking lots, and its own housing agency even said that there is no plan to build the number of houses that Canadians need in this country.
    The Prime Minister is just not worth the cost. When will the Prime Minister have a plan to build houses, not bureaucracy?
    Mr. Speaker, we have a plan to build houses. In fact, we have a plan to build houses in real communities.
    Let us take the hon. member's constituency as an example. She represents the good people of Kelowna. Not only have we put programs in place that supported affordable housing in her community, but we have also invested $31.5 million to change the way that homes get built permanently in Kelowna. This is going to add up to 20,000 new homes of stock in the city she represents.
    On both the plan to change the way the city builds homes and this specific project, the member voted against the programs that fund them. I think we can rest our case.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, hate led to the murder of six worshippers at the Quebec City mosque seven years ago today. They were killed in cold blood because they were Muslim. The perpetrator of this Islamophobic terrorism was influenced by hate, which continues to multiply online. The Prime Minister promised to take action to combat online hate within his first 100 days in office. Years have passed, and there is still no action.
    When are the Liberals finally going to crack down on online hate? When will they take action?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge that today is the seventh anniversary of a terrorist attack at the Quebec City mosque. We commit ourselves to commemorating those victims and to taking action on Islamophobia.
    The point the member is raising about Islamophobia and all forms of hate is a very important one. We know that the radicalization of people who take violent and sometimes lethal acts in this country is fuelled by what they learn online. That is why we are committed to addressing this matter in a comprehensive piece of legislation that would tackle this pernicious issue and address and promote the safety of Canadians.

  (1450)  

International Development

    Mr. Speaker, the same day that the ICJ ruled that there is a risk of genocide in Gaza, the Liberals paused funding to UNRWA, which is a lifeline for millions of innocent Palestinians. People will lose their lives, and unbelievably, the Conservative leader has accused 30,000 UNRWA humanitarian workers of being terrorists. He does not deserve to lead.
    New Democrats support an investigation into the 12 former staff, but defunding UNRWA is collective punishment, and it is illegal. When will the Liberals stop abandoning Palestinians?
    Mr. Speaker, these allegations are extremely disturbing, and we take them very seriously. We have communicated that to the head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini.
    What we are doing, which is the prudent thing to do, is pausing funding while the investigation is ongoing. We will continue to be there for Palestinian civilians through working with like-minded partners on the ground, trusted partners, who are doing important work to deliver life-saving food, medicine and other much-needed supplies to the people of Gaza.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, through the housing accelerator fund, our government is partnering with the City of Richmond with a tremendous investment in housing in our community, building over 1,000 new housing units, which is way more than what the Conservative government did. While the Conservative leader continues to marginalize our municipal partners, our government is committed to working together with municipalities such as Richmond to build more homes faster.
    Can the minister share with my community how we are working with local municipalities to build more homes faster in the city of Richmond?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his work not just to secure $35.9 million for the City of Richmond but also for the thousands of homes that will be built as a result of the changes we are incentivizing.
    We are putting federal money on the table to permanently change the way that cities build homes to create more density near the services, infrastructure and post-secondary education institutions that people need to do well in their communities. This program is creating hundreds of thousands of homes across the country, including in Richmond, and I once again want to thank my colleague and congratulate him on his important work.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this government, in the Prime Minister's riding, the cost of rent has gone from $760 a month to $2,249 a month. That is three times as much. The Prime Minister thinks only of himself. He travels to Jamaica at a cost of over $9,000 a night on our dime.
    Can he come back to Canada's reality and address the housing problems of Canadians, beginning with those in his own riding of Papineau, in Montreal?
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Leader of the Opposition's solution is to say that mayors are incompetent. That is inappropriate under the circumstances.
    We are investing to build affordable housing in la belle province. For example, we signed an agreement with Quebec to build 8,000 new affordable housing units. We continue to make very important and essential investments to build a lot of housing very quickly.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish I had been a fly on the wall when the Prime Minister and the mayor of Montreal had their talk about housing. The Plante administration blocked the construction of 25,000 homes and apartments, yet this Prime Minister is rewarding it for its incompetence by continuing to send cheques. Clearly, the meeting amounted to nothing.
    Why not tie municipal funding to the number of housing units built? That is simple common sense.
    Mr. Speaker, everyone knows that to achieve success in housing, we have to learn to communicate with each other, to co-operate with cities and the private sector, to work together. That is the complete opposite of what the Leader of the Opposition did when he came to Quebec. He insulted the mayor of Montreal, the mayor of Quebec City and mayors everywhere. He comes to insult all Quebeckers, and we do not need him.
    We know how to build housing, and together with the Minister of Housing, we are going to build housing. The Leader of the Opposition needs to stop insulting Quebeckers.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of this Prime Minister, the rents that Canadians are paying have reached an all-time high. Rent costs have doubled, and the housing shortage is only making matters worse. We are now learning that hundreds of homeless encampments are popping up in the regions, including my region, the Saguenay. Welcome to Canada under this government. Canadians are living on the streets, either because they cannot afford to keep a roof over their heads or because there is not enough housing.
    When will the Liberals listen to our common-sense plan and build housing?
    Mr. Speaker, instead of tossing around insults, I would like to remind my colleague that, a few weeks ago, the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier insulted residents of the Magdalen Islands and we are still waiting for an apology.
    My question is simple. Will this member denounce my colleague's comments or will he hide his head in the sand? We are proud residents of the Magdalen Islands, of Quebec and its regions. We are waiting for a response. The Conservatives need to grow a spine and apologize.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister should be encouraging the ingenuity of mayors who have managed to accelerate housing construction in places like Victoriaville, Trois-Rivières and Saguenay. Montreal has seen a 37% drop in housing starts compared to last year, and Quebec City has seen a 40% drop. Once elected, our leader will give federal bonuses to cities that accelerate housing construction.
    Once again, when will the Liberals listen to our common-sense plan and finally build more housing?
    Mr. Speaker, it is extraordinary that an anglophone from Nova Scotia has to stand in the House of Commons and explain that it is the federal government that must enter into agreements with the provinces, not the municipalities. This is important in Quebec.
    We continue to make investments to build more affordable housing faster. I hope the Conservative Party will join us.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, the federal government's inflexibility with the CEBA loans is leading our SMEs into bankruptcy. Since the January 18 deadline, some SMEs have lost their $20,000 subsidy. In other words, our struggling businesses, those who were already having a tough time paying back $40,000, now owe the federal government $60,000. That is a death sentence. However, the federal government can still do two things: let the businesses keep the $20,000 subsidy and guarantee their loan with their financial institution.
    Why not give businesses an opportunity to pay back their loan?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that small businesses are still going through a tough time.
    They still have nearly three years to pay back their CEBA loan. We extended the term loan repayment deadline to ensure that small businesses can focus on their post-pandemic recovery.
    We are also cutting taxes for growing small businesses and lowering credit card fees up to a quarter.
    Mr. Speaker, sounds like it is all sunshine and lollipops. If everything was so peachy, business owners would not have to refinance their homes or to take on personal loans to reimburse the federal government.
    For the thousands who were unable to reimburse the $40,000, an extra $20,000 will truly finish them off.
    The federal government will lose everything unless it is willing to undertake thousands of collection efforts. If we want these businesses to reimburse their loans, we have to keep them afloat. We have to open a direct line of communication. We have to be flexible and let them keep the $20,000 subsidy.
    When will the government finally understand?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois, who seem to be very concerned, that 80% of businesses have already reimbursed their loans in their entirety.
    I also want to remind them that it was this federal government that invested to help businesses during COVID‑19 with rent assistance and wage subsidies. We have a long list of programs with Canada Economic Development and our CFDCs. We are there for small businesses.

  (1500)  

[English]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, in just two years, the Liberal-NDP Prime Minister has doubled the interest payments on his explosive debt. That is more tax dollars going to bankers, bondholders and his finance minister's Bay Street buddies than to health care. After eight years, the Prime Minister is not worth the cost or his waste, like the $35-billion Infrastructure Bank that has built zero projects, yet lined the pockets of Liberal cronies.
     When will the Prime Minister cut the waste, cut the corruption, fix the budget to bring home lower prices and bring down inflation and interest rates?
    Mr. Speaker, we have already heard Conservative hypocrisy. Now we are hearing Conservative alarmism. Therefore, let us set the facts straight. The reality is that Canada's public finances are sustainable, and that is not me talking. That is the credit ratings agencies, which have awarded Canada a AAA rating. It does not get better than that.
    The real question that Canadians need to ask themselves is this. What would the Conservatives cut in their reckless and ideological pursuit of austerity? We have heard from them on health care. That is the first place they would go to make cuts.
    Mr. Speaker, first, we will cut the number of Liberal seats in the House and replace them with a common-sense Conservative government.
     Let me give the fast and furious finance minister some free non-consultant advice. Why do the Liberals not cut woke policies and axe the carbon tax to bring down the cost of gas, groceries and home heating, and pass Bill C-234 for our farmers? Why do they not cut the $20 billion the Prime Minister gives to Liberal consultants to cover up the incompetency by his own cabinet?
     After eight years, we all know the Prime Minister is not worth the cost. When will the Liberals fix the budget to bring down inflation and interest rates?
    Mr. Speaker, I will tell members one thing we know they would cut for sure, because that is what their votes during the marathon voting session showed. They would cut, shamefully, our support for Ukraine. They would not send weapons to Ukraine.
     The member opposite is an MP for Alberta. I would like to ask him what his heckling colleagues have just shouted. Why do they support Putin? Have they no shame?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this government has been in power for eight years, and in that time, the debt has doubled, inflation has hit a new record and not one single budget has been balanced. The Bloc Québécois has given its full support to all of that.
    We Conservatives will balance the budget. How? We will get rid of wasteful Liberal spending on things like ArriveCAN and the unused $54 million. Will the Prime Minister take responsibility for this fiasco and hand over the reins to people with good sense?
    Following the previous response and before I give the floor to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, I would like to remind the House that the Chair has issued a statement about associating a given political party with an unacceptable regime.
    In the interest of maintaining decorum and respect in the House, it is very important not to associate a party with regimes that are not well regarded.
    The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to public finance, it is important to be clear and tell Canadians the truth. That is why it is important to quote objective arbiters, such as credit rating agencies, which are still giving Canada a AAA credit rating.
    What Canadians and Quebeckers should be asking about the Conservative austerity ideology is, “Where will they be making cuts?”

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians work hard to pay their rent and afford to buy a house. The Leader of the Opposition believes that partisan sloganeering and attacking municipal leaders will somehow cause more homes to be built.
    On this side of the House, we know that the federal government is responsible for focusing its efforts on making housing more affordable.
    Could the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance explain how the measures contained in last fall's economic statement will allow for more homes to be built faster?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Our government knows that we need to build more homes faster. That is why the economic statement includes a $15-billion investment for new loans through the apartment construction loan program, which will build 100,000 new homes over the next few years.
    We are removing the GST on new co-op housing projects. We will keep working to build more homes faster.

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the NDP-Liberal government, it is clear that the Prime Minister is not worth the cost. He gave us three different versions of his Jamaican vacation. First, he claimed he was paying all the expenses for his family's stay. Second, he claimed he was staying at no cost at a location owned by a family friend. Then he claimed that he and his family stayed with friends.
    All three different versions cannot be accurate at the same time. Which version did he tell the Ethics Commissioner?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and his family took a Christmas vacation. Before the trip, the office of the Ethics Commissioner was consulted on the details to ensure the rules were followed. The Prime Minister and his family then proceeded with the trip and all the rules were followed.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years, senior public servants have spoken out about lies and abuse of process in the arrive scam scandal. We have now learned that shortly after their critical whistle-blowing testimony, these senior public servants were put on leave without pay. They were told they were under investigation less than three weeks after their testimony and they were suspended before the investigation had even concluded.
     The NDP-Liberal government is punishing public servants for their ArriveCAN testimony.
    What are these Liberals trying to hide with this retaliation and intimidation of witnesses?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, senior officials of the Canada Border Services Agency who are responsible for ensuring that all the appropriate contracting practices are followed have appeared before the committee. My conversation in early January with the president of CBSA was to the effect that we should share with the committee looking into this information obtained by the internal audit.
     CBSA is doing its important work to ensure that everyone is responsible for following the rules. It has called in the police where necessary, has done internal audits and will continue to do all of this to ensure taxpayer value.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years, the Prime Minister is just not worth the chaos and crime. Canadian businesses across the country are being extorted by international gangsters because of the NDP-Liberal government's ideological, soft-on-crime policies.
    Businesses and family homes are being shot at. In Edmonton, since November, over a dozen houses under construction by different home builders have been burnt down.
     It was the Liberal government that made it easier for criminals to get bail and allowed for shorter jail terms by scrapping mandatory minimum sentences.
    When will the Liberals start cracking down on serious crime?
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to bail, what I would underscore is the unanimity with which the House spoke on amending the bail provisions so that we could keep communities safe. That was a sign of success in terms of what parliamentarians, when we co-operate on community safety, can achieve.
    What we continue to do is keep addressing crime as the top-most priority of our government. That means keeping communities safe. That means protecting victims. We will continue to do that with respect to various issues that are facing Canadians, including the auto theft summit, which is coming up in a few short days.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, this week marks Red Tape Awareness Week. I would like to thank all the small businesses in my riding that have continued to show entrepreneurship and work hard to foster economic development in Canada.
    We know that many of these businesses face administrative challenges in day-to-day operations, and our government has been there every step of the way to listen and adapt regulations to better suit their needs. The Conservative Party claims to care for small businesses, yet calls supports for businesses inflationary.
    Could the President of the Treasury Board please tell the House how our government is supporting small businesses to build a stronger economy for all Canadians?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. We stood with small businesses during and after the pandemic, including in terms of reducing credit card transaction fees, establishing a program for small businesses in federal procurement and assisting the tourism sector.
    Unlike the Conservatives, who have no plan to reduce red tape, we will continue to stand with small businesses with Bill S-6. It is at second reading. We are bringing it back before the House. We will create an efficient and effective economy for all small businesses.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are worried about the climate and they expect their government to take action.
     People are struggling to pay their bills, yet oil and gas CEOs are polluting our planet while raking in record profits and bonuses. In some cases, they have upped their own salaries by 75%.
     For far too long, the Liberal government has been stacking the deck in favour of billionaires at the expense of Canadian workers and the environment.
    Will the Liberals rein in these obscene bonuses by making oil and gas CEOs pay what they owe?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome back my hon. colleague to the House. I agree with her. I think that the profits of these companies must be addressed in the House and that is what our government is doing by putting in place measures like no other country in the world has.
    We have put forward the world's most ambitious target to reduce methane emissions, a very powerful greenhouse gas, and reduce them by at least 75% by 2030. We have eliminated fossil fuel subsidies, the only country in the G20 to have done so. We are also in the process of putting a cap on the emissions of the oil and gas sector.
    Mr. Speaker, we are on a theme of Liberal promises that keep being broken.
    Here is a question. We have Bill C-50, which is the sustainable jobs act, which kicked down the road coming up with a sustainable jobs plan until December 31, 2025. It then went to committee, where all the Liberal MPs present and all the NDP MPs present voted to extend that deadline to December 31, 2040.
    Could the hon. minister tell us how this is going to be fixed? Can it be repaired? It so reminds me of Bismarck: Laws are like sausages, better not to watch.
    Mr. Speaker, following months of Conservative filibustering and obstructionist tactics, the Conservatives proposed over 21,000 amendments to the sustainable jobs act in an attempt to stop workers from getting a seat at the table. When it came to a vote on these amendments, the committee was chaotic. The Conservative members were actually shouting overtop of each other. A handful of the thousands of Conservative amendments were passed by the committee in the chaos.
    I encourage the Green Party leader to review the nine amendments that I have put on the Notice Paper which address and rectify this issue now.

Presence in Gallery

    I wish to draw the attention of members to the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Lauri Hussar, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Estonia; the Hon. Daiga Mierina, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia; and the Hon. Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

[Translation]

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, during question period, I heard the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the member for Gaspésie—Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, say that I insulted Magdalen Islanders.
    I invite everyone to listen to what was said here in the House. I would like the member to withdraw her remarks because I never said anything unkind about Magdalen Islanders.
    That is verging on debate, but I will review the transcripts of the House of Commons.
    The hon. member for Montcalm on a point of order.

  (1515)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two points of order.
    Would you please remind the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis that members may not knowingly mislead the House? The Bloc Québécois voted against the Liberal budget. We do not support it.
    That is a matter of debate.
    The hon. member for Montcalm on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, next time I will make it a proper question of privilege, as I have previously done in the House.
    I am sorry to have to say this, Mr. Speaker, but before the holidays, you unfortunately did not have control of the House, and that interfered with my parliamentary privilege to hear questions and answers during question period. What is more, it also infringed on my right to have and preserve healthy hearing. Again today, I am of the opinion that you have lost control of the House. I could hear neither the questions nor the answers unless I turned the volume up to a level that affected the health of my hearing.
    I would ask you to resolve the problem quickly, because it is my right to be able to understand what is going on in question period without risking damaging my hearing.
    I am very grateful to the member for Montcalm for his intervention. It gives me another opportunity to remind all members that they must remain silent when they do not have the floor, when the Chair has not given them the floor in the House of Commons. This is very important for the sake of order and decorum, but as the member for Montcalm pointed out, it is also a health issue. We need to avoid a situation where MPs have to turn up the volume to hear questions and answers properly in the House of Commons.
    It is a duty that falls to all of us.

Hon. Ed Broadbent

[Tribute]
    It being 3:17 p.m., pursuant to order adopted earlier today, I invite hon. members to rise and observe a moment of silence in honour of our former colleague, the late Hon. Ed Broadbent.
    [A moment of silence observed]
    The Speaker: Thank you. He was a great Canadian.
    The House will now proceed to tributes in memory of our former colleague, the late Hon. Ed Broadbent.
    The hon. member for Burnaby South.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by extending my condolences on behalf of all New Democrats to all those who loved Ed Broadbent: his partner, Frances, his family and his many friends.
    I also want to take a moment to thank the Prime Minister and Canadian Heritage for yesterday's state funeral. It was a fitting tribute to Ed and his incredible life, and I want to thank everyone who helped organize it and participated, particularly the Broadbent Institute.
    I shared this story at the funeral, and I will share it again. Every time I was at an event with Ed, I could see him in the crowd when I was speaking, and I would always take a moment to invite people to applaud the legendary Ed Broadbent. I am not sure he always wanted that type of attention, but I did it anyway. I also took a moment to say, looking him right in the eyes, “Ed, you are who I want to be when I grow up.” Ed, as a very generous and compassionate person, would laugh as if it was the first time I had said it. Initially it was maybe a bit tongue in cheek, but every time I said it, I meant it more and more. I wish and I hope Ed knew how much I meant that.
    The reason I meant that I wanted to be Ed when I grew up was that I looked at Ed's life, and he had spent it in public service. He committed his life to a clear vision of building a fair, more equitable world. He believed in that vision with his entire heart, and he dedicated his life to that vision.
    If we look at what he did, he was elected as a member of Parliament from the auto worker town of Oshawa by a huge margin of 15 votes. When he won, he went on to run and win as leader and then served for almost a decade and a half as the leader of the party. That would be a great political journey and was a significant contribution, and he could have called it a career, but that was not enough for him.
    After having served as leader and retired, many years later he was asked to run again. Folks in the House will understand what it is like to be a previous leader and be asked to run again. However, he agreed, under Jack Layton, to run again, and he won a seat in Ottawa Centre as a member of Parliament once again. When he finally took his retirement, again one would say he had done his service. He had fought for working-class people the way he wanted to. However, it was not enough for him.

  (1520)  

     Most of us could think of lots of ways to spend our retirement, but in his retirement, Ed then founded an institute in his name. He did not just found the Broadbent Institute; he was an active participant, constantly finding ways to push forward and grow the institute so that it could be a place for working-class people, a place for activists and a place to train the future leadership of the movement. He was persistent in his clear pursuit of a vision of social democracy, but that is not all: On top of being very active with the institute he founded, most recently he wrote a book, again laying out his vision for social democracy.
    This is why Ed is who I want to be when I grow up; he never stopped giving back, and he dedicated his life to a vision of a better world. He made it clear what a better world would look like.
    Ed Broadbent believed in democracy, but for him democracy was not just the idea of having the right to vote; the political right or the civic right was not sufficient, not good enough. One also had to have the true elements of democracy, meaning people needed to have economic equality, economic justice. That meant we needed to have the right to vote but also to be able to earn a good living, to be able to have a safe place to call home, to be able to get to and from the polling station in safety and to be able to participate meaningfully in society. He was a true believer in democracy, in all of its elements.
    Ed also made it clear that he was not satisfied with New Democrats just being the conscience of Parliament. He made it absolutely clear that he wanted to be prime minister. He believed that we needed to use our power in this place to make life better for working people.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    Ed Broadbent believed that the government's power needed to be used for good, to deal with the most powerful and protect the most vulnerable. He believed that we needed to ensure that Ottawa was working for the people and not for the billionaires. He did not just want to be Parliament's conscience. He wanted to be Prime Minister. He did not engage in a false debate over whether to choose between respecting his principles and winning elections. He thought that it was necessary to do both. In fact, the only way to win was to show Canadians a policy based on principles that put their interests first. As we mourn the loss of Ed Broadbent, we are also committed to pursuing his work. His legacy is the conviction that Canada can and must do better.

[English]

    I want to talk a bit more of the legacy that he left behind. Back in 1989, almost 35 years ago, in the chamber, he put forward a motion to rid Canada of child poverty. At the time, nearly a million kids in our country were suffering child poverty. He thought that, in a country as rich as ours, that should not be the case. That was something he put forward, and it was voted on unanimously. I think many people thought it was just a proposition or a values statement, but for Ed, he believed fundamentally that that is the work of government, to make sure people are protected and to use the power we have to lift up the people around us.
    Sadly, there have been some advances, but there have also been a lot of steps back. To this day, right now, there are still a million kids that, according to many reports, are living in poverty. UNICEF put out a report that for the first time, in 2021, the rate or number of children in child poverty was increasing. This should give us some serious pause. It really reminds us that the legacy of Ed Broadbent's work is that we must continue to fight hard.
    Another thing about Ed is that he would never have said that Canada is broken. He would say that Canada needs to do more, can do a lot more and must do more to lift up the people around us. He was committed to that.
    Ed Broadbent fundamentally believed in the power of persuasion to see the better way forward, and that we should never stop listening to each other, even if we disagreed. He was not afraid to fight. He would take on a fight directly with political opponents, but he was also someone who was known for his ability to work together with people, to find the common ground to work together to build a brighter future for everyone.
    He believed fundamentally that we needed to lift up wages. He spoke about not just the rights of women but the economic rights of women many years ago, when it maybe was not as common for people to bring that up. He reminded us of our fundamental commitment to indigenous people, something that remained a major priority throughout his life.
    Ed spoke to me on a number of occasions and, as a new leader of a political party, one that he was such a legend in, I have to thank him from the bottom of my heart for something that he did that was very special to me. Maybe when I was elected as leader I was not what people imagined when they thought about what a leader would look like. When I was first elected, finally, as a member of Parliament and was formally introduced in our caucus meeting, Ed Broadbent was there. He wanted to use the respect that he had gained, not just in the New Democratic Party, but across the country, to say, as he stood beside me, that, yes, I belonged. I thank him to this day for that generosity. In fact, any time I asked Ed for help, he always said yes, whether it was providing advice, meeting up for lunch, coming to introduce me at caucus or campaigning in the Lansdowne farmers' market, he was there for me.
    I cannot imagine what that meant for someone who at that age could have been doing so many other things with his time. For him mentor a young leader again shows that generosity of spirit, his willingness to continue to give back. I hope that in the future I can give back, even to a small degree, the way he did throughout his life.
    I also want to reflect on the advice he gave me about the supply and confidence agreement. He was very proud of the work that we did. He told me he was proud of the dental care program, that it was in the tradition of Tommy Douglas to make sure people had access to dental care. He was proud of it. However, he was concerned about a number of things. He was concerned, and in the very New Democratic tradition, he wanted us to do more, and he wanted it to be faster. He was also very concerned about the Liberals. He did not want them to be let off the hook. I promised him that I would make sure I did all those things.
    I want say a big thank you to Ed. I want him to know that we will not let him down. We will keep on fighting for that vision of the more equitable society that he believed in. We have done lots of work. We are going to keep on fighting. Ed is still who I want to be when I grow up.

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to pay tribute, on behalf of the Government of Canada and the Liberal caucus, to an eminent Canadian who sadly left us earlier this month, the Hon. Ed Broadbent. On January 11, Canada lost a man who for decades had been a fixture of our democratic life. For over half a century, he was one of Canada's most compassionate and respected voices.
    He was at the epicentre of some of the most defining debates in modern Canadian history. They were debates on repatriating the constitution and enacting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the 1980s, as well as the national debate over free trade with the United States of America. He elevated the plight of children in poverty to the national consciousness, and he tirelessly advocated for more ambition in putting an end to that, something that my honourable friend, the leader of the New Democratic Party, just referred to. He brought compassion and thoughtfulness to every debate.

[Translation]

    He was born in Oshawa, Ontario, in 1936, when Canada was still mired in the hardships of the Great Depression. His parents named him John Edward Broadbent, but of course, we know him as Ed, a shortened first name that reflected his profoundly unpretentious nature. He always treated others with respect. That fundamental characteristic was at the core of everything Mr. Broadbent did as a young academic, as a member of Parliament, as leader of the federal New Democratic Party and as an advocate for human rights and democracy here in the House and around the world.

[English]

    Mr. Broadbent was an unlikely politician, but one whose determination and deeply rooted values propelled him to the forefront of our national conversations. In the 1968 federal election, after a stint in academia, he ran for the federal NDP in the then riding of Oshawa—Whitby. As my colleague the NDP leader said, he defeated his closest opponent that night by just 15 votes in what was a close three-way race.
    That would mark the beginning of a remarkable career as a member of Parliament that would stretch over decades, and in 1975, following an earlier unsuccessful attempt for the NDP leadership mantle, Mr. Broadbent was elected as leader of his political party. His tenure at the helm would last 14 years, until 1989, and it saw him steer the party through four general elections.

[Translation]

    Throughout that time, his passionate style elicited a response from all and sundry.
    As he led his troops in the House, he was relentless about putting his priorities on the agenda. His trenchant question period style sparked heated exchanges with the prime ministers he took on. A skilled debater, he regularly pitted his rhetorical talents against those of Trudeau, Clark and Mulroney.
    He was a particularly tenacious leader, earning the respect of everyone on the other side of the aisle. When Ed Broadbent spoke, his parliamentary colleagues stopped what they were doing and listened.
    He showed us the best side of the House of Commons. He showed us that, in a parliamentary democracy, we can engage in debate with each other without debasing ourselves. He showed us that the true essence of the House of Commons is to serve as a space for exchanging and debating ideas.

[English]

  (1535)  

    After retiring from Parliament in 1989, he was appointed the founding director of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, leading the non-profit's work in countries around the world until 1996. In 2004, as my colleague just noted, he returned to the political arena, winning the riding of Ottawa Centre for the New Democratic Party. Though his second stint would last only two years, during that time, Mr. Broadbent brought his trademark thoughtfulness to his interventions and was a source of counsel to many of his colleagues, including me.
    In 2011, he founded the Broadbent Institute, a social democratic policy think tank built on the Broadbent principles. Thus, his legacy continues to this day.
    On a personal note, I was privileged to get to know Ed and his wife Lucille as they were long-time and close friends of my mother and stepfather's. I will always treasure the many evenings at my mother's home, sometimes with a cigar, when Mr. Broadbent and my stepfather were there. It was always the source of an interesting conversation, wise advice and wise counsel. Like for so many who had the privilege of getting to know Mr. Broadbent personally, he also had an important impact on my political thinking. For that I will always be grateful.
    Canada is a better place for having had Ed Broadbent as one of its citizens and one of its servants, and this chamber is a better place for having had Mr. Broadbent as one of its members. On behalf of the Government of Canada and my colleagues in the Liberal caucus, I want to extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Broadbent's family. May he rest in peace, and may his wonderful legacy live on through the generations.
    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Oshawa's constituents and the Conservative caucus, I rise this afternoon to join members in paying tribute to one of my esteemed predecessors, the late Hon. Ed Broadbent, who served as the member for the riding of Oshawa—Whitby and then Oshawa from 1968 to 1989.
    Across my community, from the shop floors at General Motors and the Local 222 hall, in hockey rinks or in any of Oshawa's countless cultural centres, there was only one Ed. After World War II, Oshawa underwent a surge of immigration from Europe. Though many may have struggled with their adopted tongue early on, most would learn to instantly recognize the name “Ed”. In many cases, Ed was the first name they had ever voted for in a democratic election.
    Ed was a gifted, brilliant and clear thinker. He bore a sharp mind and a sharp wit. He was a scholar, a philosopher and a doting teacher.
    Ed was an icon within his beloved New Democratic family, and he was a strong ally of Canada's unions. He was lively and engaged, a man who exhibited heart, spirit and determination. That is the one thing about Ed: He was always so darned determined and effective.
    Ed surprised many in Oshawa during the general election in 1968. He edged out our beloved late friend, Canada's first Ukrainian Canadian cabinet minister, the Hon. Michael Starr, by a mere 15 votes. After one of our city's closest election contests, one beloved Oshawa legend bequeathed his legacy of service and compassion to a rising star.
    I first met Ed at my front door. He was doing the usual politician thing during an election. To set the Oshawa scene of the day, there was a sea of NDP signs; the exception was a big PC sign in front of my house. I struck around to witness the encounter between my dad, a staunch Conservative, and Ed. I thought it was going to be good fun to watch. Ed insisted on speaking with my dad, listened to what he had to say, respectfully bid adieu and agreed to disagree. My father remarked, “Right guy, wrong party.”
    Ed's hometown success was not just due to his political stripe but also to his deep resolve, his profound sense of purpose and his common touch. This is something that never changed with Ed over the years, even after politics. Whether driving his Chevette through Oshawa in the 1980s or, in more recent years, out for a jaunt on his bike here in his Centretown neighbourhood, he had a smile and kind word for everyone.
    In 2004, we were both elected; my win in Oshawa was very close, although not quite the 15-vote win that Ed first experienced. We met on the floor of the House later in the fall. It was a day I will not forget. He greeted me with a big handshake and a warm grin, his hallmark. He shared several words of advice and encouragement, but he was also concerned that, as an Oshawa boy, I had somehow ended up on the wrong team. To that, I replied, “We're both on the same team, Ed. We're on team Oshawa, and we both drive the right cars.” He gave me a big pat on the back and said, “That's the spirit. Let's get to it.”
    Whenever we ran into each other during the few years we served together, Ed always had suggestions and some quite pointed remarks, just as a stern teacher would. In 2005, Speaker Milliken hosted a parliamentarian dinner for the newer MPs, and I was pleasantly honoured to be able to sit next to Ed. We had a wonderful chat, filled with Oshawa stories. I told him that I had learned from him, and he pleasantly replied, “Maybe a bit too much.”
    Ed came from the era when politicians could be strong opponents but remain cordial and supportive. I am pleased to have been here long enough to say that I miss those days. As we parted that evening, I remember his words to me. He said, “I wish you the best of luck and future, personally”. I think it was Ed's humorous way of saying “Right man, wrong party.”
    Gracious with his time, Ed made everyone feel that they were important and that what they had to say was important. He always put relationships first. Ed cared deeply about those who studied, worked or campaigned with him.
    Although he will be remembered as one of Canada's most influential leaders, we should recall a man who believed deeply in humanity. Many folks never agreed with his policies or platforms, but there was always an unquestionable earnestness and sincerity about Ed. His efforts were always directed at driving us closer to his understanding of our shared aspirations. I believe this is why so many people in Oshawa and across Canada feel Ed's passing in such a personal way.

  (1540)  

    We extend our most sincere condolences to Ed's surviving family, including his stepson, Paul; daughter, Christine; grandchildren, Nicole, Gareth, Caitlin and Brett; great-grandchildren, Alice and Freya; life partner, Frances; and former spouse, Yvonne.
    Oshawa is forever grateful that the Broadbent family shared Ed with us. We, in turn, are proud to have known him and to have shared Oshawa's son, our Ed, with all Canadians.
    Meegwetch. Merci. Thank you.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois and as the dean of the House, I have the honour to rise to celebrate the memory of Ed Broadbent, the third leader of the New Democratic Party, who passed away at the age of 87.
    Canada's big NDP family lost more than a former leader on January 11. It lost the embodiment of a vision that, 35 years after his time as leader of the party, has virtually become its identity.
    Believe it or not, I served with Ed Broadbent in the House for five years, from 1984 to 1989, when he was the leader of the NDP. Today, I also have the honour of serving alongside a caucus of 25 of his successors.
    I can see that the influence of the man who was known as “Honest Ed” has not faded over the years. That is most probably because he was the longest serving leader in the party's history, from 1975 to 1989. During the four elections he was at the helm, the NDP secured a more solid footing in Ottawa and experienced its greatest electoral successes.
    His engaging personality certainly played a part in these accomplishments. At the pinnacle of his career, he led the polls as Canadians' favourite politician. It is, however, his vision for a more egalitarian Canada that carried his influence over the decades.
    Born in a working-class family in Oshawa—a riding he later represented in the House starting in 1968—Mr. Broadbent made it a mission to represent workers and ordinary people on the federal stage. He fought for democracy, but a type of democracy that went beyond individual and political freedoms to include every person's social and economic rights, a type of democracy that affords every individual the right to live in dignity and the opportunity to realize their full potential.
    His vision of social justice played a major part in strengthening the bonds between his political party and the union movement. It also enabled the NDP to stand out on the left of the political spectrum and to find long-lasting support among the Canadian people.
    Ed was a formidable parliamentarian. With his rich vocabulary, keen analytical mind and outstanding oratory talents, he could make ministers tremble in their boots during question period. If I may, I would like to share a memory. Ed always prepared his two questions very carefully and enunciated them very clearly. At one point, during a big strike in Canada, he came to the House with a very carefully crafted question for the minister responsible for this file. The minister rose and said that he wished to inform the leader of the New Democratic Party that an agreement had been reached and that the strike had ended half an hour previously. Everyone thought that Mr. Broadbent was sunk for his second question. With great dignity, he rose and said that the minister had worked very hard on this file and deserved a round of applause. He saved face, and everyone was deeply impressed by his unscripted but very fair reaction to the minister on the strike matter.
    In 1988, for the first time in its history, the NDP, under Canada's most popular leader of the day, became a credible option across Canada. Being the most popular leader in Canada, however, did not translate into success in every part of the country.

  (1545)  

    Ed Broadbent stepped down as leader of the NDP in 1989, but it was only the leadership role that he left. He never left the NDP or politics. As members will recall, he made a brief return to the House of Commons as an MP from 2004 to 2006. However, it was mainly behind the scenes that he would continue contributing to his political party and to political thinking across Canada for the rest of his life.
    The highlight of his second career was, without a doubt, the founding of the institute that bears his name in 2011. The creation of the Broadbent Institute, a think tank, will ensure the legacy of his vision of politics. Equipped with its own media outlet and offering activist training, the Institute will continue to disseminate Mr. Broadbent's ideas among new generations of political influencers, including people like Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who once sat on its board of directors.
    Mr. Broadbent is no longer with us, but his influence will live on, just as his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of those who loved him. On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to John Edward Broadbent's partner, two children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I also offer my condolences to his NDP political family and to everyone who knew him professionally or personally.
    I thank Ed Broadbent for dedicating his life to public service.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise this afternoon to add my comments to the extraordinary words of our colleague, the dean of the House of Commons. I thank him for his speech.

[English]

    I want to also say thank you for the strong words and memories shared by the hon. member for Beauséjour. I was particularly moved by the hon. member for Oshawa, who expressed so clearly the sense of what politics used to be like. At yesterday's state funeral, Brian Topp, in his address, referred to Ed Broadbent's time in politics as being a place where he continually displayed that one could disagree without being disagreeable.
    I had the honour to know Ed Broadbent before I got into politics. I did not even join a political party until 2006, but I was kind of noisy from my role as an environmental activist. I can remember times when Ed Broadbent and I got along fabulously well. Once I entered politics, we had the occasional moment when we disagreed. Famously, though, I never did get to debate Ed Broadbent in any leaders' debates, but in 1988 he actually referred to my resignation from the government of the day over a point of principal to rather make a point of the failures on some of the aspects of environmental policies. He put it to Brian Mulroney. Nothing quite alerts someone who is watching a long leaders' debate like finding themselves mentioned by Ed Broadbent in the midst of the debate. I was deeply grateful then for his support for the stand I took, and I am grateful to this day.
    I want to say thank you to the Prime Minister for the decision to have a state funeral. It is not easily done and is rare, but as said by the hon. member for Burnaby South, we all appreciated the opportunity to share with Ed's family in expressing our deep sorrow at his loss and our gratitude for a life well lived.
    In the course of yesterday's funeral, I think it was Jonathan Sas, the co-writer of Ed's new book, who referred to Ed Broadbent's first speech in this place. I remember his last speech, and I went back and found it to see whether I remembered it accurately. It was on May 5, 2005. I recommend it to people who want to watch something wonderful. I watched it on YouTube. He was surrounded by so many other people I really loved, such as Bill Blaikie and Alexa McDonough.
    Ed Broadbent's last speech shared some advice I think is worth repeating for all of us who remain working in this place. It has been mentioned already that he served in this place as the member for Oshawa from 1968 to 1990 but came back in 2004 as the hon. member for Ottawa Centre. In his speech, he reflected on how many people had asked him whether, in the interregnum between leaving the House of Commons in 1990 and returning 14 years later in 2004, he saw a difference. He reflected in that speech on the decline, which will sound familiar to the Speaker, in decorum and the increasingly partisan nature of debate. He said he noted “the decline in civility in the debate”.
    He said, on May 5, 2005, that if he were a high school teacher, he would not want to bring his students here anymore. He said, “There is a difference between personal remarks based on animosity and vigorous debate” and urged the members of Parliament present, and those words should extend to us here right now, “to restore to our politics...a civilized tone”. In closing he turned to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to say that they apply in this place. He read the words that we must, as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, recognize “the inherent dignity and...the equal and unalienable rights of all members of the human family”. That recognition of inherent rights is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in this world.
    In honour of Ed Broadbent, in honour of his legacy and for all those parliamentarians who have served in the House of Commons before us and those who will follow after us, let us try to listen to our better angels, as the Premier of Manitoba, the Hon. Wab Kinew, said yesterday. Let the quality and the character of our debate be elevated as we recognize in each other our shared humanity, our common commitment to Canada and that we agree on far more things than we disagree on and serve our god, our country, our community and our planet by expressing ourselves, grounded in mutual respect and recognition of our shared humanity.
    Thank you for your leadership, Ed Broadbent. May you rest in peace.

  (1555)  

[Translation]

    I wish to inform the House that because of the tributes to Ed Broadbent, Government Orders will be extended by 37 minutes.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 102 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, happy new year. It is good to be back to the chamber and to represent the good people of the riding of Waterloo.
    Pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 56th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, regarding the membership of committees of the House. If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 56th report later this day.

[Translation]

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, entitled “MAID and Mental Disorders: the Road Ahead”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table the Conservatives' dissenting report on medical assistance in dying where mental health is the sole underlying condition. This report was completed because Conservative members of the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying believe that the main report did not fully reflect the sense of urgency we heard from stakeholders and witnesses on this very serious question.
    For years, Conservatives have been calling for the government to introduce legislation ensuring that Canada's most vulnerable will not fall victim to a system that has often already failed them, and that the pause on extension to MAID where mental health is the sole underlying condition be made permanent. It is time for the government to finally take action.

[Translation]

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 56th report of Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House today, be concurred in.

  (1600)  

[English]

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

    (Motion agreed to)

    Mr. Speaker, I do believe that you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be amended as follows: Ms. Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe) for Mr. Green (Hamilton Centre).

[Translation]

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

     (Motion agreed to)

[English]

Business of the House

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice of the House during the debate, pursuant to Standing Order 66 on Motion No. 45 to concur in the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Finance, and Motion No. 46 to concur in the 14th report of the Standing Committee of Public Accounts, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair, and that at the conclusion of the time provided for debate, or when no member rises to speak, whichever is earlier, all questions necessary to dispose of the motions be deemed put and a recorded division be deemed requested and deferred, pursuant to Standing Order 66.
     All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay.
    It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I move that the 55th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented on Thursday, December 14, 2023, be concurred in.
    I would like to take this opportunity to wish a wonderful 2024 to all the citizens of the riding of Salaberry—Suroît. I wish them happiness and health for the coming year.
    Today, I am rising to speak to a report from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. It describes the study that looked into the behaviour of the Speaker, the member for Hull—Aylmer. In our opinion, it should perhaps be reviewed. For the benefit of those who have forgotten or who did not follow this story, I will take the liberty of recapping some important elements.
    Bloc Québécois members have principles. We are also frank and honest. We congratulated the Speaker when he was elected, but we pointed out that he was facing a major challenge because he was what can only be described as a very partisan member leaving his seat to occupy the chair, a role that demands unimpeachable impartiality. The chair requires of its occupant that they have the confidence of all members and, above all, that they maintain that confidence. I clearly remember telling him that the task would be difficult, that the Bloc Québécois wished him the best, and that we would be keeping a close eye on him because it would be no small feat to do so.
    Two weeks in, we saw him make what we believe was a serious error in judgment. He made a partisan speech. He showed up for an event dressed in his Speaker's uniform, complete with robe and hat. In short, it was quite clear that the Speaker was addressing Ontario Liberal supporters in his official capacity as Speaker. The video clearly showed that he was introduced as the Speaker of the House of Commons. That happened somewhere around December 2 or 3. We quickly determined that a Speaker cannot participate in such events in his official capacity. It undermines parliamentarians' confidence in him because he really needs to be completely devoid of partisanship.
    That caused a lot of turmoil because members were so surprised that the Speaker had given that speech. While we were discussing and debating the matter, the Speaker decided to go on a parliamentary mission to Washington in his capacity as Speaker, while the House was sitting on December 5 and 6. When we looked into the matter in committee, we learned that he had already planned that visit to celebrate a retired friend. Since he was the Speaker, he tacked on a few official meetings to justify taking a trip in the midst of all the turmoil.
    We in the Bloc Québécois asked ourselves a question. The Speaker does not understand that, when someone occupies the highest office, the chair, their conduct must be impeccable in order to retain the confidence of the House.
    The Speaker was generous on December 11 when he appeared before the committee. He delivered a long statement with sincerity, I know. However, the Speaker waited until that December 11 appearance to acknowledge his mistake and apologize. He was brave; that was not easy for him. He apologized, admitted to his mistake and said he would not make it again.
    After that study, the Bloc Québécois realized he had to go. It was abundantly clear that those two major gaffes had lost him the confidence of the House. Let us not forget that at least 149 members withdrew their confidence. Even so, he decided to stay. The Bloc Québécois was not satisfied with the report's recommendations. That is why we submitted a dissenting opinion.

  (1605)  

    Today, we are revisiting that issue because, during the last week of sittings in December, another incident occurred. The Speaker made another appearance at a political event in the riding of Liberal MNA André Fortin. The Speaker was photographed with his colleague, the member for Pontiac, and Mr. Fortin at a cocktail fundraiser.
    I can honestly say that we do not understand what happened. We do not understand why, after spending days debating and adopting a report that recognized the Speaker's error, we are now dealing with another similar incident. We noticed, however, that the Liberal MNA's cocktail fundraiser happened before the video of the Speaker was shown at the Ontario Liberal Party convention.
    I had many questions. I wondered why, when he appeared before the Procedure and House Affairs Committee on December 11, the Speaker did not disclose that he had attended the cocktail party. As I said earlier, the Speaker acknowledged that he had made a mistake. He apologized to the House and said he would not do this kind of thing again, as it undermined the House's confidence in him.
    Why, then, did he not take the opportunity to disclose that he had attended the cocktail party? Why, as we were analyzing what had happened on December 3, did he not say that he had also attended a cocktail fundraiser on November 17 in the riding of a Liberal colleague who sits in the Quebec National Assembly, and apologize for it? Why did he not bring that up? For whatever reason, he did not. I did not understand that. I thought either he did not understand that this kind of behaviour was inappropriate and unacceptable and that it would continue to undermine the confidence of the members of the House, or he had not understood. Today, I stand before the Chair to raise this unanswered question again. That is why I will be moving a motion in the near future proposing that the Procedure and House Affairs Committee reconvene to discuss the issue.
    I still want to say something, though. Ever since I started speaking publicly about everything that happened and about the Speaker's actions, I have received all sorts of unkind emails and messages. I have been unfairly labelled. I am speaking up on behalf of the Bloc Québécois because we in the Bloc Québécois have respect for the institution, its procedures, the Speaker and the Speaker's authority. Every time that we, in the Bloc Québécois, have risen to speak, we have done so respectfully because, in all honestly, I have nothing against the member for Hull—Aylmer. He is a nice person, but we do not believe that he has what it takes to regain the confidence of the House. Some people are impugning my motives, saying that I am going after the Speaker because I may harbour certain ideas.
    Allow me to read out an excerpt of the motion that was unanimously passed, in other words, passed by all of the parties in the House. It was the motion that triggered the study into the Speaker's missteps.
    Here is the excerpt:
    
...as Speaker of the House of Commons, constitute a breach of the tradition and expectation of impartiality required for that high office, constituting a serious error of judgment which undermines the trust required to discharge his duties and responsibilities...
    What I just read is not a statement from the Bloc Québécois or the member for Salaberry—Suroît. It is a unanimous motion passed by all members of the House. When the Speaker appeared in committee on December 11, he said he agreed that he had made a grave mistake and that he would do better going forward.

  (1610)  

    Let me get back to my question.
    We in the Bloc Québécois have been good sports. We congratulated the Speaker when he was elected. The House leader of the Bloc Québécois, the member for La Prairie, even praised him when he was elected. A few days after the Speaker was elected, all the House leaders and whips witnessed a discussion. As whip of the Bloc Québécois, I warned the Speaker that we were keeping a close eye on him. Anyone who knows the member for Hull—Aylmer knows that he is a long-time activist. He had an activist background. He campaigned, ran, and was elected on that, right up until he was elected Speaker. It has been quite an extraordinary journey. However, once someone occupies that chair and has the great authority of the House, they cannot afford to make any mistakes that call their impartiality into question. There can be no flexibility on this, because if the Speaker loses the confidence of the House, its very ability to function is threatened.
    As we speak, 149 members of the House have clearly expressed that the Speaker has lost their confidence because of his repeated errors in judgment and the evidence of his lack of impartiality. The Bloc Québécois made some suggestions in the dissenting opinion that we presented. Had we obtained unanimous consent, perhaps things would have been different today. In our dissenting opinion, we made two suggestions. Obviously, we urged the Speaker to exercise judgment and resign so that another Speaker who has the confidence of the House could be elected. Failing this, we proposed that a secret ballot vote be held about him. In other words, we proposed giving every member of the House the opportunity to vote again on whether he should be the Speaker. If he won the election again, then we would have been willing to give him a second chance because democracy would have spoken. However, the members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs did not support those recommendations.
    I am back before the House again today, and I must say that I am stunned. I do not understand why I have to come back to this issue because of the events of November 17 or 15, when he attended a federal Liberal fundraiser. I would like to ask him this question: That time, did he also consult his chief of staff? Did he consult the Clerk? Did he use all the resources available to him to double-check whether he could attend a partisan cocktail fundraiser? It does not matter whether the event was for the provincial Liberals, the PQ or Québec Solidaire. A Speaker must not participate in any partisan activities while occupying the chair. He must not even give the impression of partisan involvement.
    The Speaker is also friends with ministers. He is also friends with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who represents the next riding over. With all the lingering doubts, we wonder if he will be able to resist demands or questions from the colleagues he is friends with. Based on the analysis we are conducting today, we think the Speaker needs to come back before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to explain why, during his appearance on December 11, he did not simply tell us that he had attended an event.

  (1615)  

    The Bloc Québécois is not attacking the member for Hull—Aylmer as a person. As I said, he is a good person, but this is about principles, the principle of retaining parliamentarians' confidence in the authority of the House. I hope the members listening will support the Bloc Québécois in getting to the bottom of this and in giving the Speaker a chance to explain himself with respect to the mistake he made in November.
    I will read the amendment we wish to move: That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: the 50th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented on December 14, 2023, be not now concurred in, but that it be referred back to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs with the following instructions: (a) study new facts relating to the Speaker's participation in a political activity described as a cocktail militant, or activist cocktail reception, with the provincial member for the riding of Pontiac on November 16, 2023, and any other facts relating to the Speaker's participation in political activities since assuming the office of Speaker, if any; and (b) amend the report to include the new information and amend the committee's recommendations and conclusions in accordance with this new information.

  (1620)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order. I thought I heard the member move an amendment. Did she move an amendment? Are you going to read that first, Mr. Speaker?

[Translation]

    I do not think that was an amendment. I will seek clarification.
    Did the member move an amendment to her motion?
    Mr. Speaker, I think I made a mistake. As my colleague pointed out, I cannot amend my own motion.
    That is correct. The member cannot move an amendment to her own motion. It is not in order.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I guess we will pick up our debate where we left off on the Friday before we recessed for the Christmas break.
    What we discovered and what we talked about in my speech on that Friday prior to our leaving for the Christmas season was that this is actually nothing new. As a matter of fact, when the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle was the Speaker of the House of Commons, he went to a fundraiser, and paid $100 to go to it, for the member for Regina—Wascana at the time. He was there. There are pictures of him there. He was there with the now Leader of the Opposition. They have pictures documenting this. Therefore, this is not something unique to this particular Speaker. This is apparently something that has been going on. Coming from a riding that had the longest-serving Speaker of the House of Commons, I am fully aware of what a Speaker will do and how they will engage in their riding and perhaps in just one or two of the neighbouring ridings.
    Therefore, I am curious. Can the member from the Bloc inform the House, with respect to when the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle did the exact same thing, how many times the Bloc called for his resignation at that time? Was it one, two, three or four? Perhaps the members from the Bloc never even bothered to question it when it was the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle.
     We are being fed this story right now that this is somehow just this Speaker because he did something wrong. It is nothing personal about the Speaker, yet the Bloc does not have a history of calling this out in the past when it has happened. I wonder if the member can inform the House as to how many times the Bloc Québécois raised the issue when it was the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle going to a fundraiser in the member for Regina—Wascana's riding and paying $100 to go there.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, before I answer the question, I would like to make a brief comment. I do not know why the member is speaking so loudly. Every time he speaks, he seems shocked. I think I was calm. I speak French and I do not know if the member was wearing his earpiece, but I am calm. I am not being antagonistic at all. The member wants me to make a comparison and say who was right and who was wrong, but that is not the issue.
    The Bloc Québécois is simply pointing out that there is a new element that the members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs did not study when they prepared their report and made their recommendations. What we are asking is that the committee be reconvened to examine the new facts. It seems to me that this is not all that complicated and it would settle the matter of the Speaker's mistakes.
    I know that my colleague might find it amusing to try to engage me in a conflict, but that is not what I want. What I want is for us to discuss the matter calmly. The member cannot deny that the Speaker made another misstep when he attended Liberal MNA André Fortin's cocktail fundraiser. This was yet another lapse in judgment that further undermines the confidence of the House. That is all we are asking for.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I share the member's concern about some of the enthusiasm we hear. I also want to say that when some people speak in this House, I definitely take my headset off, because I do not like to be yelled at in two directions.
    I think some of the concerns being brought forward are serious ones. We just spent a period of time talking about the amazing NDP leader Ed Broadbent and the tremendous work he brought forward, part of which was bringing people together.
     I know other Speakers have participated in fundraising events that were quite concerning. I wonder if the member shares my concern that we need to review these rules and make sure they are clearer so the House can better hold Speakers to account.

  (1625)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I cannot disagree with my colleague's proposal to review the rules.
    However, I consider it so self-evident and clear that the Speaker must avoid raising the shadow of a doubt in the minds of members by participating in partisan activities. This was not a one-time occurrence. There was a video shown at an Ontario Liberal convention and a trip to Washington while we were in turmoil here and discussing our confidence in the Speaker. In addition to that, he attended a cocktail fundraiser. That is a lot for such a short time in office. I am a strong believer in training and education, but all this is so obvious that I fail to understand how the Speaker could have participated in these activities without even wondering whether he was doing something wrong.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for North Island—Powell River, I also take my earpiece out, not because it is loud, but because I quite frankly do not want to hear what the other side has to say.
    This is an important issue, because it speaks to the confidence the House has in the Speaker to make objective rulings in a non-partisan manner. My expectation, and I am sure that of my colleague in the Bloc, is that the Speaker is to make those rulings in an objective, non-partisan manner, but the activities of partisanship and the continued bad judgment speak to a real problem.
    My question is a pointed one. Does the hon. member have confidence in the Speaker to be objective and non-partisan and to act in the manner they should as they take that chair?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have been candid in a way that, incidentally, has been acknowledged by the Speaker. My confidence is shaken. All of the Bloc Québécois members are going to find it difficult to recover their full confidence in the Speaker.
    Another concern of mine is the precedent this sets. It means that in the next Parliament or when the next Speaker is elected, we are accepting from the outset that he could make a mistake, be partisan, go to a cocktail party, shoot a video at a partisan convention. We are automatically accepting that this may happen, that he will apologize, that he will reimburse the little bit it cost in terms of House resources, and then the whole thing will blow over. That is what bothers me, because frankly, we are talking about a democratic institution in which the Speaker plays a central role. He represents the authority of the House. He must retain the confidence of the members.
    Honestly, the precedent we are setting by refusing to revisit the issue at the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs lowers the bar for important democratic standards.
    I respectfully and calmly invite my colleagues back to the table to debate this issue again.
    Mr. Speaker, ever since the member for Hull—Aylmer was elected as Speaker, he has been making missteps. Historically, this has never been seen before in the House.
    I was there when the Speaker appeared before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I listened to what he had to say. At that time, we did not know that he had attended Mr. Fortin's cocktail fundraiser for the Quebec Liberal Party. I think that, given the discussions we had in committee, he should have mentioned that. He should have done the honourable thing, but he did not. Between the time when we received the committee's report on the many events that took place involving the Speaker and today—

  (1630)  

    The Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on a point of order.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member just said the Speaker did not act honourably. You and he certainly know the rules that say we are not to imply that any member of this House does not act in an honourable fashion. Perhaps you could ask him to rephrase that and apologize for using that terminology.
    I did not hear the exact phrase the hon. member heard, so I would simply say that we should all be judicious in the things that we say.

[Translation]

    Members should follow protocol when speaking.
    The hon. member for La Prairie.
    Mr. Speaker, I did not say anything of the kind. I will continue.
    There are two fundamental rules for a good Speaker: good judgment and non-partisanship. What I am saying is that between the time when the report was tabled and today, new information has come to light. That is why the Bloc Québécois thinks that we should redo the work.
    I have a question for my colleague. At the meeting of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, was there an opportunity for the Speaker to do the honourable thing? Did he have an opportunity to do that?
    Mr. Speaker, during his testimony on December 11, the Speaker was generous in that he stayed long enough to give a lengthy statement and answer questions from all the members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
    Honestly though, I really wish we had heard the news from the Speaker himself, instead of learning about it afterwards when we saw an Instagram post from his colleague from Pontiac, who posted the photo and was so proud that he was at André Fortin's cocktail party. He could have been upfront with us. He should have. That would have improved the way we perceived both his acknowledgement of his error and his awareness of his actions.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions among the parties and I suspect, if you were to seek it, you would get permission for me to deal with questions on the Order Paper for today.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I will go as quickly as I can through this. The following questions will be answered today: Nos. 1945, 1950, 1953 to 1955, 1957 to 1960, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1992 to 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2016 to 2018, 2020, 2021, 2027, 2028, 2031, 2036 to 2038, 2040, 2041, 2046, 2054, 2057 to 2060, 2062, 2066, 2067, 2073, 2079, 2080, 2090 to 2092, 2094, 2097, 2098, 2105, 2106, 2112, 2115, 2118, 2119, 2122, 2129, 2130, 2133, 2136, 2139, 2141 to 2146, 2149, 2150, 2153, 2154, 2158, 2162, 2163, 2167, 2168, 2170, 2172, 2174, 2178, 2179, 2183, 2184, 2192, 2193, 2194 and 2201.

[Text]

Question No. 1945—
Mr. Arnold Viersen:
    With regard to the 6,880 suspicious transactions related to the Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children referred by the Philippines to FINTRAC and shared with the RCMP during the 18 month period ending on December 2022: (a) how many RCMP investigations related to suspicious transactions have either been initiated or are ongoing; and (b) what were the results of the investigations in (a)?
Ms. Jennifer O’Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Crime Centre, NCECC, receives disclosures from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, FINTRAC, related to online child sexual exploitation and abuse. The information contained in the disclosures may be used by the NCECC to help support investigations by law enforcement, including where the RCMP serves as police of jurisdiction.
    The NCECC also receives reports pertaining to online child sexual exploitation from various Canadian and international sources, such as law enforcement agencies; cybertip.ca, Canada’s public reporting tip line; and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, NCMEC, in the United States. The NCECC also receives reports from various service providers, such as social media applications and online gaming platforms. The NCECC assesses and triages all reports received, prepares investigative packages for all actionable reports and distributes the packages to the police agency of jurisdiction for further investigation.
    The RCMP undertook an extensive preliminary search in order to determine the amount of information that would fall within the scope of the question and the amount of time that would be required to prepare a comprehensive response. The level of detail of the information requested is not systematically tracked in a centralized database. The RCMP concluded that producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information that is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
Question No. 1950—
Mr. Stephen Ellis:
    With regard to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF): what is the breakdown of the religions or denominations that CAF members identify as, in total, and broken down by branch of the CAF, including the number and percentage of CAF members for each?
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, building a defence team where all members feel protected, supported, respected and empowered to serve is a top priority. As such, the Canadian Armed Forces, CAF, makes certain to respect and protect, in a holistic manner, the spiritual dimension and needs of all its members.
    The CAF does not track religious denomination or faith tradition information from members who are enrolling unless they volunteer the information. When this information is volunteered, it is protected by the Privacy Act.
Question No. 1953—
Mr. Eric Duncan:
    With regard to Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC): what specific interests and potential conflicts were identified in the ethical disclosures for each member of SDTC’s executive team, broken down by individual?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in processing parliamentary returns, the government applies the Privacy Act and the principles set out in the Access to Information Act. The requested information is being withheld because it constitutes personal information.
Question No. 1954—
Mr. Colin Carrie:
    With regard to Health Canada’s (HC) approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines: (a) did Pfizer disclose that Process 1 vaccine formula was used during the original trial to obtain their safety and efficacy data while Process 2 was invoked following the Interim Order to massively upscale production of vaccine doses whereby DNA was cloned into a bacterial plasmid vector for amplification in Escherichia coli (E. coli) before linearization with the possibility of potential residual DNA; (b) was HC aware of the quantum of linearized DNA fragments present in each dose of the Pfizer vaccine prior to releasing the vaccine to Canadians, and, if so, what was the amount of acceptable residual DNA per vaccine dose and the method used to measure it; (c) if the response to (b) is negative, has HC since confirmed the quantum of linearized DNA per vaccine dose per mRNA manufacturer, and, if so, what method was used; (d) do the risks of residual DNA meet HC’s standards for transfected foreign DNA; (e) did Pfizer and BioNTech disclose to HC the presence of the Simian Virus 40 (SV40) promoter-enhancer-ori used to amplify the production of Spike mRNA in the DNA plasmid used to produce the mRNA; (f) has HC confirmed the presence of SV40 sequences in the Pfizer vaccine, and, if so, is the amount of SV40 within safe limits and how was it tested; (g) if the response to (f) is negative, when and who will conduct the study to confirm the presence of SV40 and by what method; (h) how were contaminants and impurities addressed throughout the regulatory process for both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna products; (i) are further studies planned to investigate how these contaminants and impurities will impact human subjects given transfection for both products, and, if so, who will conduct the investigation and when will it be conducted; (j) is HC considering regulating these products as gene therapy products; and (k) how does HC plan to inform those Canadians who received the mRNA products about the adulteration of these products, specifically SV40 in Pfizer and heightened levels of DNA plasmids in both Pfizer and Moderna products, to ensure fully informed consent?
Hon. Mark Holland (Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), Pfizer’s submission provided information that process one was used for clinical trials and process two was used for commercial scale-ups. The residual DNA limit is the same for both processes and is in line with the recommendation from the World Health Organization. The comparability of the vaccine produced by these two processes was demonstrated based on their biological, chemical and physical characteristics.
    With regard to part (b), Health Canada was aware of the presence of residual plasmid DNA because in the manufacture of any vaccine, residual elements are part of the standard manufacturing process and may remain. There are strict limits and controls for the presence of these residual fragments to ensure that there is no effect on the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine.
    The limit for residual DNA in biologic drugs required by Health Canada for approval is not more than 10 nanograms per human dose. This is in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendation concerning residual DNA in biological drugs and is consistent with the quality limits of other international regulators.
    It is important to assess the results using the authorized validated assays performed by the vaccine manufacturers to ensure that the quality of commercial vaccine lots is comparable to that of lots shown to be safe and efficacious in clinical studies.
    With regard to part (c), refer to part (b).
    With regard to part (d), Health Canada initially authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in December 2020 and subsequently has authorized updated versions, including the most recent vaccine targeting the XBB omicron subvariant in September 2023. Each assessment included a determination that the vaccine met the department's stringent regulatory safety, efficacy and quality requirements for use in Canada.
    As a regulator, Health Canada sets quality standards and requirements for manufacturers to follow, including providing comprehensive and detailed information about the vaccine itself and about the manufacturing process. In the manufacture of any vaccine, residual elements that are part of the standard manufacturing process may remain. There are strict limits and controls for the presence of these residual fragments to ensure that there is no effect on the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine.
    The simian virus 40, SV40, promoter enhancer sequence was found to be a residual DNA fragment in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The fragment is inactive, has no functional role and was measured to be consistently below the limit required by Health Canada and other international regulators.
    With regard to parts (e) and (f), in the case of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the full DNA sequence of the Pfizer plasmid was provided at the time of initial filing. The SV40 promoter enhancer sequence was found to be a residual DNA fragment in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The fragment is inactive, has no functional role and was measured to be consistently below the limit required by Health Canada and other international regulators. Monitoring of the residual DNA fragments is conducted by the manufacturers using methods that have been reviewed and validated by Health Canada as appropriate for its purposes. All Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID 19 vaccine commercial batches released in Canada complied with the requirements approved by Health Canada, including the residual DNA.
    With regard to part (g), refer to part (f).
    With regard to part (h), as a regulator of vaccines, Health Canada sets quality standards and requirements for manufacturers to follow, including providing comprehensive and detailed information about the vaccine itself and about the manufacturing process. In the manufacture of any vaccine, residual elements that are part of the standard manufacturing process may remain. There are strict limits and controls for the presence of these residual fragments to ensure that there is no effect on the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine.
    With regard to part (i), Health Canada continues to monitor the COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that they continue to meet the highest standards for safety, effectiveness and quality and that their benefits continue to outweigh any potential risks.
    With regard to part (j), Health Canada is not considering regulating mRNA vaccines as gene therapy products, as these vaccines cannot modify genes. Gene therapy involves the use of genes as medicine to treat genetic disease where the faulty gene is fixed, replaced or supplemented with a healthy gene so that it can function normally. The new gene has to enter the cell nucleus. The mRNA from the vaccines does not enter the cell nucleus or interact with the DNA at all, so it does not constitute gene therapy. Furthermore, vaccines must meet the high standard of quality, safety and efficacy for medicinal products. Consistent with the international approach to regulating these products, Health Canada will continue to regulate mRNA vaccines as vaccines.
    With regard to part (k), Health Canada initially authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in December 2020 and subsequently has authorized updated versions, including the most recent vaccine targeting the XBB omicron subvariant in September 2023.
    As a regulator of vaccines, Health Canada sets quality standards and requirements for manufacturers to follow, including providing comprehensive and detailed information about the vaccine itself and about the manufacturing process. In the manufacture of any vaccine, it is expected that there may be variabilities or residual elements that are part of the standard manufacturing process. To manage this, Health Canada requires strict quality limits and controls for the presence of these residual fragments to ensure that the vaccine continues to be safe and that any residual fragments are inactive and have no functional role in the vaccine. All versions of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been marketed in Canada continue to meet the strict quality standards required by Health Canada. Health Canada takes immediate action should any marketed vaccine product be found to be non-compliant with regulatory standards in Canada.
Question No. 1955—
Mr. Luc Berthold:
    With regard to the grocery rebate announcement made by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance at Rabba Fine Foods in early July 2023: (a) did any of the minister’s staff members remove, or request that the store remove, the price tags from the food in the background of the announcement, and, if so, why was this done; and (b) if the answer to (a) is negative, what is the minister’s explanation as to why there were no prices visible in the background of her announcement?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance does not have records pertaining to this specific matter of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance’s announcement on July 5, 2023.
Question No. 1957—
Mr. Richard Bragdon:
    With regard to the October 26, 2023 announcement temporarily pausing the carbon tax on deliveries of heating oil: when the three year pause is completed in November 2026, does the government plan to tax home heating oil at the current carbon tax rate of $65 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), or will it be taxed at a higher rate, and, if so, what will that rate be?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, on October 26, 2023, the government announced its intent to temporarily pause the fuel charge on deliveries of light fuel oil exclusively for use to provide heat to a home or building. This pause is proposed to apply to deliveries on or after November 9, 2023, and before April 1, 2027.
    The fuel charge rate for light fuel oil in 2027 28 can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/forms-publications/publications/fcrates/fuel-charge-rates.html.
Question No. 1958—
Mr. Marty Morantz:
    With regard to the Prime Minister: has the Prime Minister ever received any formal requests from any of the Liberal members of Parliament representing ridings in Manitoba asking that the carbon tax be paused or removed from natural gas or other sources of home heating, and, if so, what are the details, including the (i) requester, (ii) date the request was made, (iii) summary, (iv) Prime Minister's response?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, as global market forces and inflation continue to affect Canadians, too many families are feeling the pressure on their monthly energy bills. To put more money back in the pockets of Canadians, while ensuring there is less pollution in our air, the Government of Canada is helping more households make the switch to clean, affordable home heating options. To support this measure, the Government of Canada is doubling the pollution price rural top up and temporarily pausing the pollution price on heating oil.
    Heating oil is highly polluting and particularly expensive, costing two to four times as much as natural gas to heat a home. This temporary pause is a targeted measure to address that reality while support rolls out to help Canadians switch to a clean, affordable electric heat pump.
    The Department of Finance has no records on the specific matter of formal requests.
Question No. 1959—
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the current Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages: (a) has the minister advocated or taken other action to convince the Prime Minister to remove or pause the carbon tax from natural gas or other sources of home heating; (b) if the answer to (a) is affirmative, what are the details, including for each action, the (i) date, (ii) description of the action taken, (iii) response received; and (c) if the answer to (a) is negative, why not?
Mr. Irek Kusmierczyk (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in cabinet and cabinet committees, as well as in meetings, phone calls and other conversations with cabinet colleagues, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages works to ensure that the voices of Alberta businesses, stakeholders, industries, communities and residents are heard.
    As Albertans and Canadians across the country continue to face the impacts of climate change, including the devastating impacts of fires, floods, heat waves, and atmospheric rivers that have threatened lives and our communities, the minister continues to support urgent climate action. As confirmed by leading economists, the most effective market-based mechanism for reducing carbon emissions is a price on pollution. In jurisdictions where the federal carbon pricing backstop applies, such as Alberta, Canadians receive climate action incentive, or CAI, payments from the federal government to help individuals and families offset the cost of the federal pollution pricing. It consists of a basic amount and a supplement for residents of small and rural communities. In Alberta, an average family of four will receive $1,544 this year.
    The Government of Canada has changed the payment method for the CAI from a refundable credit claimed annually on personal income tax returns to quarterly tax-free payments made through the benefit system starting in July 2022.
    On October 26, 2023, it was announced the government is moving ahead with doubling the CAI payment rural top-up rate in Alberta and elsewhere, increasing it from 10% to 20% of the baseline amount starting in April 2024. People who live in rural communities face unique realities, and this measure will help put even more money back in the pockets of families dealing with higher energy costs because they live outside a large city.
    Furthermore, the Government of Canada continues to support the adoption of heat pumps as an alternative source of home heating across the country. Albertans qualify for a $5,000 grant to support the installation of a ground source heat pump that meets Canada’s efficiency regulations.
Question No. 1960—
Mr. John Barlow:
    With regard to the Prime Minister: has the Prime Minister ever received any formal requests from the member for Edmonton Centre or the member for Calgary Skyview asking that the carbon tax be paused or removed from natural gas or other sources of home heating, and, if so, what are the details of the requests, including the (i) requester, (ii) date the request was made, (iii) summary, (iv) Prime Minister's response?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, as global market forces and inflation continue to affect Canadians, too many families are feeling the pressure on their monthly energy bills. To put more money back in the pockets of Canadians, while ensuring there is less pollution in our air, the Government of Canada is helping more households make the switch to clean, affordable home heating options. To support this measure, the Government of Canada is doubling the pollution price rural top-up and temporarily pausing the pollution price on heating oil.
    Heating oil is highly polluting and particularly expensive, costing two to four times as much as natural gas to heat a home. This temporary pause is a targeted measure to address that reality while support rolls out to help Canadians switch to a clean, affordable electric heat pump.
    The Department of Finance has no records on the specific matter of formal requests.
Question No. 1971—
Mr. Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe:
    With regard to the Canada–Philippines Enhanced Defence Agreement: (a) what progress has been made on the agreement, and has it been signed by both countries; (b) what assessment of the state of human rights in the Philippines was carried out before the agreement was negotiated; (c) does the agreement include conditions for human rights monitoring and, if so, what are these conditions, and are they sine qua non to maintain the agreement between the two countries; (d) what mechanisms allow for the human rights situation to be monitored; (e) will the mechanisms in (d) include the consideration of the agreement by a parliamentary committee with participation from civil society organizations; (f) when will the terms or the wording of the agreement be made public; and (g) how can citizens access information on the programs and funding associated with the agreement?
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, as outlined in Canada’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, Canada has committed to expanding existing military capacity building initiatives that advance joint priorities and interoperability with regional partners, including the Philippines.
    As part of this commitment, National Defence is in the process of negotiating a non-legally binding defence cooperation arrangement, or Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, with its counterpart in the Philippines. The MOU will provide a framework for cooperation between Canada and the Philippines in the field of defence and military matters. This may include cooperation in the areas of defence and security policy; humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; and maritime security, among others.
    Prior to entering into an MOU, National Defence ensures compliance with all applicable federal laws and government policies, directives, and guidelines, including those established by Global Affairs Canada. Canada supports efforts by the Philippines to advance inclusive and accountable governance, diversity, human rights, and the rule of law. The negotiation process, which is underway, involves various levels of consultations, including those among federal departments; as such, specific details have yet to be determined.
Question No. 1972—
Ms. Melissa Lantsman:
    With regard to the government's response to evidence that Samidoun has ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and other entities that have been recognized by the government as terrorist entities: (a) when did Public Safety Canada (PS) first recognize Samidoun's ties to the PFLP, and what action, if any, has it taken in response to these ties; (b) what action, if any, was taken by PS to respond to events hosted by Samidoun that glorified terrorist and armed militants from the PFLP; (c) does the government recognize that Samidoun has raised money for the PFLP and entities tied to the PFLP, including the Union of Health Work Committees, and, if so, what action has the government taken to stop such financing; (d) has the government taken any action against Samidoun organizers, and, if so, what are the details, including dates of any such action; and (e) has PS examined whether Samidoun has ties to any organizations involved with or which have praised the October 7, 2023, terror attack committed by Hamas, and, if so, what were the findings?
Ms. Jennifer O'Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada takes terrorist threats against Canada and its citizens seriously. Security and intelligence agencies are continuously monitoring entities that could pose such a threat and taking appropriate action.
    One of the underlying objectives of the Criminal Code list of terrorist entities is to ensure that terrorist entities do not use Canada as a base from which to conduct terrorist activities, including fundraising, and to prohibit individuals from supporting terrorist entities. Assessing entities for possible listing under the Criminal Code is continuous. The process is rigorous, thorough and involves inter-departmental consultations. Pursuant to section 83.05(1) of the Criminal Code, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity; or has knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of, or in association with, an entity involved in a terrorist activity; then the Minister of Public Safety may recommend to the Governor in Council, or GiC, that it be added to the list.
    The government cannot comment specifically on the activities of groups or what groups are being assessed, or considered for listing.
Question No. 1974—
Mr. Larry Brock:
    With regard to the fact-finding report prepared for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada by Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton (RCGT) dated September 26, 2023: (a) what are the government expenditures related to the report incurred to date, in total, and broken down by type of expenditure; (b) what are the details of the contract awarded to RCGT in relation to the report, including the (i) date, (ii) amount, (iii) vendor, (iv) start and end date, (v) initial contract value, (vi) current contract value, (vii) scope of the work; and (c) what are the details of any limitations (Cabinet confidence, unavailable records, etc.) faced by RCGT in the fact-finding exercise?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, the total government expenditure related to the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, or RCGT, report to date is $300,500, or $339,565 with tax.
    With respect to part (b)(i), the contract is dated March 17, 2023; part (ii), the initial contract value is $97,400, or $110,062 with tax; part (iii), the vendor is Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton; part (iv), the start date is March 17, 2023, and the end date is March 29, 2024; part (v), the initial contract value is $97,400, or $110,062 with tax; part (vi), the current contract value is $300,500, or $339,565 with tax. The fact-finding exercise identified certain facts that required additional procedures to further assess the relevant facts of the allegations. The additional procedures included a more in-depth analysis of sampled projects to assess conflict of interest, project eligibility and approval and monitoring requirements. With respect to part (b)(vii), the scope of the project included a review of relevant documentation, such as the allegations received by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, a sample of contribution agreements between Sustainable Development Technology Canada, or SDTC, and funding recipients, and program governance documents, and interviews with informants and key individuals, such as current and former employees and board members. The project also took into account the terms and conditions that apply to Governor in Council appointees, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, SDTC’s Values and Ethics Code and any other applicable standards of conduct.
    Lastly, with respect to part (c), there were no limitations on the documents that were provided by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to support this work. Most supporting documentation was provided directly by the corporation subject to this exercise.
Question No. 1976—
Mr. Dean Allison:
    With regard to Health Canada (HC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC): (a) what do HC and PHAC know about the origins of COVID-19; and (b) how and when was the knowledge in (a) obtained?
Hon. Mark Holland (Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker,the precise origin of COVID-19 remains unknown. The first report of an unknown pneumonia outbreak in China, later called COVID-19, was detected by the Global Public Health Intelligence Network or GPHIN on December 30, 2019. The information was then distributed to Canadian public health practitioners on December 31, 2019, via the GPHIN Daily Report. The Public Health Agency of Canada orPHAC actively monitored the situation and initiated regular and ongoing communications with federal, provincial and territorial partners.
    The Government of Canada is supportive of all efforts that will contribute to a clear understanding of the origins of the virus. Canada continues to work with international partners to better understand the origins of COVID-19.
Question No. 1983—
Mr. Ben Lobb:
    With regard to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC): what were the expenditures incurred by NSERC related to the reception on November 1, 2023, titled "Celebrating Excellence: Honouring Canada's Top Natural Sciences and Engineering Researchers", in total, and broken down by item?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, or NSERC, incurred $4,796.85 in expenses for the November 1, 2023, reception titled “Celebrating Excellence: Honouring Canada’s Top Natural Sciences and Engineering Researchers”, including $4,231.85 for hospitality and $565 for the professional services of a photographer.
Question No. 1984—
Mr. Doug Shipley:
    With regard to the Climate Action Incentive Payment and the government's plan to increase the rural top-up rate from 10 to 20 percent of the baseline amount starting in April 2024: how will the rate increase be funded, including whether the increase will come from general revenue or from carbon tax revenue?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the price on pollution is revenue neutral for the Government of Canada. Climate action incentive payments, including the rural supplement for individuals residing in small and rural communities in provinces where the federal fuel charge applies, are fully sourced from carbon pricing proceeds. This will continue to be the case in 2024 25, when the rural supplement rate is proposed to increase from 10 percent to 20 percent.
Question No. 1988—
Mr. Dan Mazier:
    With regard to the statement made by Mr. Derek Hermanutz, Director General, Economic Analysis Directorate, for Environment and Climate Change Canada on November 9, 2023, at the Standing Committee of Environment and Sustainable Development that “I think we're probably in a world where we could say with some rough analysis that up to one-third, potentially, of the emission reductions that we're projecting to 2030 would come from carbon pricing,”: (a) what analysis did the government use to produce this projection; (b) has the government made this analysis and emission reduction projection public to Canadians, and, if so, where can Canadians locate it; (c) when was this analysis and projection initially made; (d) what are the titles of the individuals at the executive level or higher who conducted or oversaw the analysis in (c); and (e) does the government measure the annual amount of emissions that are directly reduced from federal carbon pricing, and, if so, (i) how is it measured, (ii) what is the amount of emissions that have been reduced in Canada directly and specifically from federal carbon pricing, broken down by year?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), to produce this projection, the government used the provincial-territorial computable general equilibrium model, EC-Pro, from Environment and Climate Change Canada, or ECCC.
    EC-Pro simulates the response of the main economic sectors in each province and territory, and their interactions with each other, including interprovincial trade. It captures characteristics of each province and territory’s production and consumption patterns through a detailed input-output table, and links the provinces and territories via bilateral trade. Each province and territory is explicitly represented as a region and the rest of the world is represented as import and export flows to the provinces and territories, which are assumed to be price takers in international markets. To support analysis of energy and climate policies, the model incorporates information on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, or GHGs, related to the combustion of fossil fuels. It also tracks non-energy related GHG emissions.
    Ideally, estimating the incremental impact of carbon pricing alone would involve developing a bottom-up baseline that does not include carbon pricing. However, given that carbon pricing is now in the historical data and that a significant number of complementary GHG-related measures and regulations have also been introduced or planned, it is extremely challenging to develop a bottom-up baseline that does not include carbon pricing. Therefore, to develop a scenario that does not include carbon pricing, ECCC used a statistical technique that relies heavily on price elasticities, namely how consumers and industry respond to changing prices.
    To quantify emissions in the absence of carbon pricing between now and 2030, the initial starting point for this analysis was the reference case with current measures, or Ref22, and with additional measures, or Ref22A, reported in the eighth National Communication Report and fifth Biennial report submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, on December 31, 2022.
    The statistical technique to isolate the carbon pricing contribution is as follows: in the calibration of EC-Pro to Ref22 and Ref22A parameters, the carbon price prevailing in the relevant years is explicitly added. This includes the Output-Based Pricing System stringency and the fuel charge coverage, as well as provincial carbon pricing. By doing this, the model establishes a statistical relationship between the prevailing carbon price and fuel use and related emissions by sector by province by year and a baseline that explicitly includes carbon pricing as identified in Statistics Canada’s Supply and Use Tables.
    The next step is to develop a relationship between the EC-Pro parameters, namely elasticities and cost curves, to match the CO2 and non-CO2 emissions by sector, by region, and by source to target the emission levels in Ref22. For carbon capture and storage, or CCS, and other technologies that are being driven by carbon pricing, we account for what would have happened if there were no carbon pricing. For example, to assess how carbon pricing and policies to promote reductions influence CCS activities, the level of CCS is held to the current historical level allowing the model to then endogenously project CCS activities in response to policies.
    The final step is to run this scenario where the carbon price in the Output-Based Pricing System and the fuel charge are set to zero.
    With regard to (b), a 2018 study conducted before the full implementation of carbon pricing across Canada was released in December 2020 and can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/weather/climatechange/climate-action/pricing-carbon-pollution/estimated-impacts-federal-system.html.
    With regard to (c), an updated analysis, referring to (a), was completed in October 2023 drawing from projections reported in the eighth National Communication Report and the fifth Biennial report submitted to the UNFCCC on December 31, 2022.
    With regard to (d), the analysis was directed and overseen by the Director General, Economic Analysis Directorate, and by the Director, Model Development and Quantitative Research, Economic Analysis Directorate, Strategic Policy Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada.
    With regard to (e), the government does not measure the annual amount of emissions that are directly reduced by federal carbon pricing. Retroactively attributing specific GHG reductions to a specific action, such as carbon pricing, a discrete regulation, or a specific incentive, is difficult given the multiple interacting factors that influence emissions, including carbon pricing, tax incentives, funding programs, investor preferences and consumer demand. The National Inventory Report, which reports annually on historical GHG emissions, does not include this information.
Question No. 1989—
Mr. Dan Muys:
    With regard to the Ministers' Regional Office (MRO) in Toronto, between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2022: (a) what were the total expenditures related to hosting or attending videoconferences at the MRO in Toronto, broken down by year; (b) what is the breakdown of the expenditures by videoconference, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) name and title of the minister or other individual hosting, (iii) purpose of the meeting, (iv) total expenditures, (v) breakdown of expenditures by type (audio-visual costs, Zoom fees, catering, etc.), (vi) number and titles of attendees, broken down by those at the MRO in Toronto versus those participating from another location?
Mr. Terry Duguid (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Special Advisor for Water, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, ministers’ regional offices, or MROs, provide secure accommodations, administrative and logistical support for on and off-site meetings and events for the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and senior government officials. The offices are equipped with information technology infrastructure to facilitate client participation in virtual meetings.
    MROs currently do not systematically track expenditures related to hosting or attending videoconferences in the department’s financial system or a centralized database. Further, any expenditures incurred for catering services during events or meetings held in the facilities are the responsibility of the respective departments involved.
Question No. 1992—
Mr. Terry Dowdall:
    With regard to section 3.32 of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's report “Hydrogen's Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions”: why did Natural Resources Canada not factor in the modelling how (i) the supply of hydrogen and associated costs that would be deployed to meet the projected demand, (ii) the existing grid and infrastructure could accommodate electrification ambitions, as well as hydrogen production from renewable generation?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Natural Resources and Energy, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the hydrogen strategy for Canada released in 2020 provided initial analysis of the potential opportunity and role that low-carbon hydrogen could play in Canada. As such, it modelled what the full potential of hydrogen could be in Canada’s energy system, including the economic, environmental and social benefits created by different scenarios and actions.
    The modelling focused on the near term, and economically viable end-uses, such as heavy-duty transportation, natural gas blending, cement and steel manufacturing and low-carbon fuel production. These were identified through the engagement undertaken with other government departments, provinces and territories, academia and industry across Canada. The analysis included aspects of technology readiness levels, economic competitiveness, adoption potential and other factors, including supporting infrastructure. Projected demand was not within the scope of this initial modelling, thereby associated costs of supplying hydrogen that would be deployed to meet the projected demand were likewise out of scope.
    The modelling undertaken for the hydrogen strategy for Canada was the first of its kind, as Canada had never previously undertaken nationally-based modelling specifically looking at the potential initial vision of using low-carbon hydrogen in various decarbonization applications such as those identified above. Since this was a nascent sector, the modelling had limited data on actual usage of low-carbon hydrogen. It relied on data and assumptions based on historical usage of hydrogen as an energy source. Future modelling will make use of data based on actual usage of low-carbon hydrogen as an energy source, based on pilot, demonstration and early deployment projects.
    Natural Resources Canada, or NRCan, continues to track progress on low-carbon hydrogen production, infrastructure and end-use projects to improve projections in Canada around the potential role of low-carbon hydrogen in the future, including its role in electrification. In the upcoming progress report update of the hydrogen strategy, expected to be published in early 2024, NRCan will provide updated low-carbon hydrogen modelling projections from six different modelling initiatives that considered hydrogen in the context of net-zero by 2050. Each of these were undertaken since the publication of the hydrogen strategy for Canada in 2020, and the progress report will present the full range of new results.
Question No. 1993—
Mr. Terry Dowdall:
    With regard to exhibit 3.2 in the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's report "Hydrogen's Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions": (a) in reference to the near-term phase, what are the total cost projections and current costs of the (i) development of new hydrogen supply and distribution infrastructure and mature market application, (ii) launching of pilot projects in regional hubs, including pre-commercial applications for heavy-duty trucks, transport equipment for seaport goods, power generation, heat for buildings, and industrial feedstock, (iii) development and implementation of additional policy and regulatory measures needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; (b) in reference to the mid-term phase, what are the total cost projections and current costs of the (i) addition of new regional hubs, (ii) rapid expansion of adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles and transit buses, (iii) increase in new and large­scale hydrogen production, to be commercialized in regional hubs, to enable hydrogen and natural gas blending for industry and as feedstock for chemical production; and (c) in reference to the long-term phase, what are the total cost projections and current costs of (i) an increase of new commercial applications supported by supply and distribution infrastructure, (ii) the commercial launch and rapid expansion of new ways to use hydrogen in transportation, (iii) building of more dedicated hydrogen pipelines, (iv) an increase in the supply of low-carbon intensity hydrogen throughout Canada, allowing heavy-emitting industries to adapt operations to decrease carbon emissions, (v) increased production of hydrogen, which could also position Canada as a large scale exporter of hydrogen?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Exhibit 3.2 of the Auditor General’s report “Hydrogen’s Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions” references pages 101 and 102 of the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada, in particular the section entitled “Roadmap to 2050”.
    This section outlined potential actions that could take place in the near, medium and long term, if the low-carbon hydrogen market were to develop in a correlated manner to the incremental or transformative scenarios described in the Hydrogen Strategy. The section does not reference specific federal government policies, programs, initiatives, or commitments. As such, it did not include cost projections for those actions. Costs of individual projects, including production, infrastructure, or pilot projects, are borne by project proponents, are project specific, commercially confidential, and vary based on jurisdiction.
Question No. 1994—
Mr. John Barlow:
    With regard to the targets outlined in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Clean Air, Strong Economy, since January 1, 2022: (a) what are the projected (i) job losses in Canada, broken down by province, (ii) loss of investment within Canada from entities from other countries, (iii) costs for the treasury to convert to carbon neutral, as a result of the government's plan to achieve the targets; and (b) what are the realized (i) job losses in Canada, broken down by province, (ii) loss of investment within Canada from entities from other countries, (iii) costs for the treasury to convert to carbon neutral, to date, resulting from the government's plant to achieve the target?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, climate change is an urgent and existential threat that poses significant risks to the well-being of Canadians and ecosystems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that increases in global warming reaching 1.5°C would cause unavoidable increases in multiple hazards and present significant risks to ecosystems and humans. At current rates, global warming of 1.5°C will likely be reached between 2030 and 2052, and it is only with deep reductions in greenhouse gas, or GHG, emissions that global warming can be limited to below 2°C.
    The science is clear, accelerated efforts to reduce GHG emissions rapidly by 2030 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 are necessary in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As a result, in 2021, Canada increased its 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution, its NDC under the Paris Agreement to 40-45% reductions below 2005 levels by 2030, from 439 to403 megatonnes. This target represents a reduction of GHG emissions by 293 to 329 megatonnes from 2005 levels. In 2021, Canada enshrined into legislation its commitment to being net-zero by 2050 through the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. Under the Act, the Government of Canada is required to set progressively more ambitious emissions targets for 2035, 2040, and 2045, supported by emissions reduction plans.
    As you know, in March 2022, the Government released the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan, the ERP, which shows a credible pathway to achieving Canada’s enhanced 2030 target. The Plan highlights the emissions reduction potential for all economic sectors to reduce emissions by 2030 and includes concrete action that the Government will take to reach our target. The 2030 ERP builds on the foundation set by Canada’s existing climate actions with a suite of new mitigation measures and strategies and $9.1 billion in additional investments.
    More recently, in December 2023, Canada released its first progress report for the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. The 2023 Progress Report provides an update on progress toward the 2030 target, based on Canada’s most recent inventory of historical emissions and recently updated emissions projections. The 2023 Progress Report indicates that we are on a solid path toward our 2030 target. Canada is on pace to surpass our previous target of 30% below 2005 levels and is currently tracking to exceed our interim objective of 20% below 2005 levels by 2026. Between previously announced measures and the additional actions to be explored that are included in the Progress Report, Canada remains firmly on track to meet our ambitious but achievable 2030 target.
    The Government of Canada does not currently conduct the level of analysis sought in your inquiry; however, it does know that Canada is already experiencing the impacts of the changing climate, and the costs will continue to climb the longer we postpone climate action. A 2020 report by the Canadian Climate Institute found that the average cost per natural disaster has jumped 1,250% since the 1970s. Over the last decade, the average yearly cost of weather-related disasters and catastrophic losses has risen to the equivalent of 5-6% of Canada’s annual Gross Domestic Product growth.
    This past year is on track to being one of the costliest given the extent of climate-related disasters across Canada, including flooding and the worst wildfire year on record. The growing clean economy is building the net-zero industries of tomorrow. It will also create and maintain well-paying jobs for Canadians and businesses in Canada. Clean energy jobs are estimated to grow to 2.68 million by 2050, according to modelling by independent experts from Clean Energy Canada and Navius Research. Taking climate action now is a critical economic opportunity that will maintain and create Canadian jobs and make our economy more resilient and more competitive.
    The Government of Canada recognizes that affordability and cost-of-living is top of mind for many Canadians right now. Making life more affordable for Canadians is a key objective of Canada’s climate action. The 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan helps to reduce energy costs for our homes and buildings; makes it easier for Canadians to make the switch to electric vehicles; and creates good, middle-class jobs in every province in the country.
    Canada’s climate plans use an optimal mix of incentives and regulations to address climate change ensuring that our workers and business fully benefit from the economic opportunities as investors and consumers in Canada and around the world increasingly look for environmentally sustainable products and resources. Canada’s federal carbon pricing system is flexible and carefully designed to ensure it remains affordable. Under the federal system, the Government will continue to provide support to Canadians and businesses as the carbon price rises to ensure that carbon pricing remains affordable, and most households are better off. Any province or territory can choose the federal pricing system or can design its own pricing system tailored to local needs.
    The Government of Canada is committed to supporting a whole-of-government and whole-of-society effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing, and we are working closely with industry and provinces and territories for all sectoral contributions in a way that creates economic opportunities in every sector. We will also reach those ambitions through investment, which we are doing through investments in clean technology, in the auto sector, and greener buildings, as an example. However, given the economic interdependencies and interactions within and between sectors, the exact areas for emissions reduction potential may shift in the future as Canada further decarbonizes and flexibilities will exist. For example, creating a clean electricity grid will go a long way towards supporting our zero-emission vehicles goals. The Government of Canada is always exploring new and innovative approaches to drive ambition toward its climate objectives. That is why the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan is an evergreen plan that will evolve as Canada moves toward its 2030 and 2050 targets.
    More information on our climate plans, our progress and our investments is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/environment/weather/climatechange.html.
    The Government of Canada will continue to work tirelessly for the health and wellbeing of Canadians, and for a cleaner, more resilient, and prosperous world for this and future generations.
Question No. 1995—
Mr. Dan Mazier:
    With regard to meetings and tours attended by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change: (a) how many meetings or tours attended by the minister were located on farms, since October 26, 2021; and (b) what are the details of each meeting or tour in (a), including the (i) date, (ii) category and type of farm, (iii) province or territory in which the farm was located, (iv) event description or the purpose of the minister’s attendance?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Canadian farmers are on the front lines of the fight against climate change and are also playing a key role as part of the climate solution. Environment and Climate Change Canada, or ECCC, has had extensive engagement with farmers and the agricultural sector while they work together in seeking solutions to combat climate change.
    ECCC continues to engage with agriculture stakeholders on various aspects of the Government of Canada’s climate plan, the Sustainable Agriculture Strategy, which is under development, and the broader environmental agenda. The government remains committed to helping farmers meet the world’s need for food, while safeguarding resources for future generations.
    Many of my cabinet colleagues and I have met and will continue to meet with Canadians and industry representatives from across the country in the fight to clean up the environment, combat climate change, reduce greenhouse gases all while maintaining a strong economy. For additional information, the Registry of Lobbyists can be found at https://lobbycanada.gc.ca/app/secure/ocl/lrs/do/guest.
Question No. 1998—
Mr. Larry Maguire:
    With regard to the meeting between the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Mayor of Swan River, Manitoba, referred to in the government’s response to petition 441-01673: (a) what was the (i) date, (ii) time, (iii) location, of the meeting; (b) what were the titles of all attendees representing the government who attended the meeting; (c) why was the meeting initiated; (d) what were the outcomes of the meeting; (e) were there any presentations or briefing materials provided during, or in advance of the meeting, by the government; and (f) did the representatives in (b) take any notes during the meeting?
Mr. James Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Office of the Minister of Justice met with the Mayor of Swan River virtually on May 29, 2023, from 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the request of the Mayor. This meeting was attended by a Senior Policy Advisor from the Office of the Minister of Justice and by an Advisor, Parliamentary and Regional Affairs (West and North). The meeting was productive, and it was valuable to hear the perspective of the Mayor. The Mayor encouraged swift passage of Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bail reform), which received Royal Assent in December 2023. Discussions were also had about work which could be done by the Province of Manitoba to address concerns around crime.
Question No. 1999—
Mr. Scot Davidson:
    With regard to memorandums or directives provided to government officials related to the conducting of background checks on visa applicants, since January 1, 2019: what are the details of all such memorandums or directives, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) sender, (iii) recipients, (iv) type of documents, (v) title, (vi) details of the directive provided, if applicable, including which categories of visa applicants are subject to the directive?
Ms. Jennifer O'Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Centre for Immigration and National Security Screening of the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, oversees the delivery of the Immigration National Security Screening Program, which includes the collection, analysis and review of information and intelligence on foreign nationals to assess their admissibility for temporary or permanent residence and refugee status.
    For the purpose of responding to this question, the CBSA interpreted “memorandums or directives provided to government officials” as referring to any formal written direction provided to CBSA personnel by, or on behalf of, the Minister of Public Safety or the President of the CBSA. No memorandums or directives, as defined earlier, have been identified since January 1, 2019.
Question No. 2001—
Mr. Randy Hoback:
    With regard to section 3.56 of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development's report entitled "Hydrogen's Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions": of the models referred to in the section, what specific models were used and what were the conclusions of each model?
Hon. Steven Guilbeault (Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the 2022 Reports of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to the Parliament of Canada, specifically, Report 3—“Hydrogen’s Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, found that Environment and Climate Change Canada, or ECCC, and Natural Resources Canada, or NRCan, had different approaches to assessing the role hydrogen should play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Environment and Climate Change Canada expected to achieve 15 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions reductions in 2030 whereas the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada, published by NRCan, projected up to 45 megatonnes. It should be noted that the difference between NRCan and ECCC’s estimated reduction potential is due to the different scope and analytical approaches used by the departments.
    To generate the 15 megatonnes reduction estimate, ECCC used the EC-Pro model. EC-Pro is a provincial-territorial multi-regional, multi-sector computable general equilibrium model. It covers up to 50 industries and three final demand categories across all 13 Canadian provinces and territories. It is calibrated to the most recent input-output data from Statistics Canada and energy, or emissions, data from the Energy, Emissions and Economy Model for Canada, or E3MC. ECCC focused on modelling the Hydrogen Strategy as one of the many policies and measures announced in Canada’s strengthened climate plan and used a proxy, a 7.3 percent hydrogen–natural gas blending mandate, to incorporate potential emissions reductions from hydrogen.
    As noted by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, NRCan looked at a transformative scenario where hydrogen could fill the gap in energy demand not met by other decarbonization means, such as electrification, biofuel, and emissions offset for fossil fuels. The Transformative Scenario was meant to represent the potential size of Canada’s hydrogen opportunity if bold action is taken in the near term. NRCan commissioned a third-party consulting firm, ZEN and the Art of Clean Energy, or ZEN, to undertake modelling for the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada. Together with the Institute for Breakthrough Energy + Emission Technologies, the modelling explored the potential role that hydrogen could play in Canada’s energy future including exploring issues such as hydrogen demand, deployment and emissions reduction potential for hydrogen use across all sectors of the economy, in the context of Canada’s net-zero climate commitments. ZEN’s modelling, which took a regional approach, considered six broad end-uses covering all aspects of the economy, namely transportation, the built environment, several industrial processes, oil and gas, clean fuels, blending with natural gas. The ZEN modelling estimated that hydrogen could contribute up to 45 megatonnes of reductions by 2030.
    In addition to the transformative scenario, NRCan also considered an Incremental scenario, which was based on a business-as-usual approach with lighter policy measures and a slower start to adoption of hydrogen. Under this scenario, the potential reductions from hydrogen were expected to reach 22 megatonnes.
Question No. 2004—
Mr. Dean Allison:
    With regard to requests made by CBC/Radio-Canada to social media companies to take down, edit, ban, or change in any other way social media content, posts, or accounts, since January 1, 2020: what are the details of all such requests, including (i) who made the request, (ii) the date, (iii) the social media platform, (iv) the description of the original content including the name or the handle associated with the post, (v) the description of the change requested, (vi) whether the social media company abided by the request?
Mr. Taleeb Noormohamed (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, from January 1, 2020, to November 21, 2023, CBC/Radio-Canada asked various social media companies to act on content posted on their platforms that violate copyright of their platform community standards. CBC/Radio-Canada records do not contain the complete information required to provide a comprehensive response to this question.
    An extensive manual search would be required to gather the information requested and remove any personal information, and the results could only partially answer this request. This could not be accomplished in the time allotted for this request.
Question No. 2005—
Mr. Gerald Soroka:
    With regard to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's analysis of the Supplementary Estimates (B), 2023-24: what is the breakdown of the $500 million that is being frozen across 68 organizations to achieve the reductions in 2023-24, by organization and by object code?
Hon. Anita Anand (President of the Treasury Board, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Refocusing Government Spending to Deliver for Canadians website at https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/topics/planned-government-spending/refocusing-government-spending.html provides the breakdown of amounts frozen by organization for 2023–24. The budgetary expenditures by standard object for Supplementary Estimates (B), 2023–24, which can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/treasury-board-secretariat/services/planned-government-spending/supplementary-estimates/supplementary-estimates-b-2023-24/budgetary-expenditures-standard-object.html, are based on the authorities to date and do not include frozen amounts.
Question No. 2007—
Mr. Jeremy Patzer:
    With regard to the $669,650 contract awarded to KPMG to provide advice on how to save money on consultants: (a) what advice did KPMG provide to the government; and (b) does the government consider the advice to be worth $669,650?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Natural Resources and Energy, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the total amount of the contract awarded to KPMG on July 13, 2022, is $630,000 (without tax). The contract was established to leverage the firm’s experience to support the modernization of internal services and departmental operations. The work began prior to the President of the Treasury Board’s Government of Canada spending initiative, which was detailed in budget 2023. In support of the spending initiative, Natural Resources Canada, or NRCan, submitted its proposals to refocus spending to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat in October 2023.
    With respect to part (a) of the question, KPMG conducted an independent financial review of internal service expenditures to identify cost-saving opportunities for the department, in line with the department’s ongoing efforts to manage public resources efficiently. The department worked with the firm to analyze cost-saving opportunities, specifically in information technology, or IT, and real property. The analysis was much broader than spending on professional services.
    KPMG’s analysis revealed opportunities for efficiencies in operational IT areas such as IT service and software asset management, IT contractor usage, desktop computing, printer optimization, and application portfolio rationalization. Their analysis also pinpointed areas of potential efficiency improvements in real property, such as fleet management, space utilization, and the centralization of real property functions.
    KPMG provided recommendations that covered areas of policy, procurement, governance, planning, organizational structure, and technology. These recommendations provided both short and long-term options and proposed operational efficiencies and risk mitigation for the department.
    With respect to part (b) of the question, KPMG’s advice was derived from: analyzing diverse data types, that is, financial data, internal service volume and website analytics; conducting consultations; and performing benchmarking analysis against similar organizations. This facilitated the development of methodologies, tools and templates for assessing potential efficiencies and proposing actionable next steps.
    The analysis revealed efficiency opportunities in IT areas benefiting from optimization or lower cost alternatives, and helped the department ensure the continuity of ongoing activities and strategic real property activities.
    KPMG provided an external perspective to the department to identify efficiency opportunities using industry best practices’ benchmarking and data analysis methodologies.
Question No. 2008—
Ms. Niki Ashton:
    With regard to the surveillance infrastructure for tuberculosis (TB): (a) since 2015, broken down by province, what was the incidence of TB in Canada generally, and for First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada; (b) what date will the government publish the next Tuberculosis in Canada report; (c) how does Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada collaborate with the recommendations outlined in the TB in Canada report; (d) what are the demographic criteria included in Canada’s TB surveillance system to appropriately disaggregate data to identify gaps in care and is this disaggregated data shared with provincial health departments; (e) how much funding is dedicated to Canada's TB surveillance system and dissemination strategy, including the launch of the TB in Canada report; (f) what is the average response time between when a TB outbreak is declared by a public health authority, and when that data is reflected in the national TB surveillance system; and (g) what steps is the Public Health Agency of Canada taking to ensure that the recommendations of the Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy are implemented for tuberculosis data?
Hon. Mark Holland (Minister of Health, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a) and (b), the incidence rate of tuberculosis, or TB, in Canada is broken down by province and by territory and by Indigenous group, namely First Nations, Inuit and Métis, for the 2008-2018 time period and can be found at https://opencanada.blob.core.windows.net/opengovprod/resources/1ff8f1b6-02a8-425a-bd0b-af9495d2e53c/tb-in-canada_2008-2018_eng_march24-2022.pdf?sr=b&sp=r&sig=D6d5ljkzoXi4CwVF9%2BMAAxZrPYJN2tG8/yQBAvKkhzA%3D&sv=2019-07-07&se=2024-01-30T02%3A27%3A38Z.
    Surveillance data for the 2012-2021 reporting period will be published on the Government of Canada website in winter 2024 in a new report entitled “Tuberculosis in Canada: 2012-2021 Expanded report.” The report will include updated data broken down by province and by territory, as well as descriptive statistics on a wide range of variables related to TB. A summary of TB data for the 2012 to 2021 time period was recently published and can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/tuberculosis-surveillance-canada-summary-2012-2021.html. With regard to the incidence rate of TB in 2021, the data showed 135.1 cases per 100,000 among Inuit people, 16.1 cases per 100,000 among First Nations people and 2.1 per 100,000 among Métis people.
    Additionally, an infographic with surveillance highlights entitled “Tuberculosis in Canada: Infographic (2021),” is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/tuberculosis-canada-2021-infographic.html. It is expected that an infographic presenting 2022 data will be released by March 2024.
    With regard to (c), the Public Health Agency of Canada, or PHAC, Health Canada, and other federal departments such as Indigenous Services Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada meet regularly to discuss national TB surveillance trends and interventions to support TB elimination such as support for outbreaks, access to TB medications, capacity building, and other activities. These departments and other partners, such as the provinces, territories, Indigenous groups and TB experts, use national TB surveillance reports to measure Canada’s progress towards TB elimination targets and commitments which in turn help to inform TB policy and program decision making, research initiatives and innovation related to TB. TB surveillance reports are also used by provincial and territorial partners for benchmarking and to inform decision-making.
    With regard to (d), demographic data collected through Canada’s TB surveillance system originate from the provinces and territories. The data includes province or territory of residence, population group, namely the country of birth, immigration status, the year of arrival in Canada and Indigenous groups, age and sex. A complete list of variables can be found on our case report form available at https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/diseases/tuberculosis/active-tuberculosis-reporting-form-eng.pdf.
    The national surveillance system consists of TB related data submitted from provincial and territorial public health departments but does not include specific information on health care.
    With regard to (e), the TB surveillance program at PHAC has a total funding of $1,222,030 for fiscal year 2023-2024, which includes employee salaries, program operations and maintenance. Furthermore, the dissemination of the infographic and surveillance report have an estimated cost of $6,500.
    With regard to (f), active TB cases are reported to the National Tuberculosis Surveillance system on an annual basis in the summer months following the calendar year in which they were diagnosed. A national report is then produced usually in the fall and published in the winter. The time period between when data are submitted to PHAC and published include requirements for cleaning data, verifying quality, analyzing, reporting, and publishing.
    With regard to (g), guided by recommendations from an Expert Advisory Group, there was significant collaboration between the federal, provincial, and territorial governments towards a pan-Canadian health data strategy, focused on common priorities such as modernizing and aligning health data standards, policies and governance, and building public trust. This work set the stage for enhanced collaboration across the country, under the Government of Canada’s “Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians” Plan, announced in February 2023, and a Federal, Provincial, and Territorial Joint Action Plan on Health Data and Digital Health, which was endorsed by Ministers of Health on October 12, 2023. More information on the “Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians” Plan is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2023/02/working-together-to-improve-health-care-for-canadians.html.
    The Pan-Canadian Health Data Strategy, or PCHDS, led to the release of a final report in May 2022 led by an Expert Advisory Group which includes recommendations for health data partners from all jurisdictions, namely federal, provincial and territorial, which can be found at https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/corporate/mandate/about-agency/external-advisory-bodies/list/pan-canadian-health-data-strategy-reports-summaries/expert-advisory-group-report-03-toward-world-class-health-data-system/expert-advisory-group-report-03-toward-world-class-health-data-system.pdf.
    Some of these recommendations align with the work being undertaken by PHAC’s TB surveillance program. The program works collaboratively with federal, provincial and territorial surveillance stakeholders to collect common indicators for TB. In addition, to better understand data needs, gaps and expectations, bilateral discussions with provincial and territorial TB partners took place in the summer and fall 2023. This aligns with recommendation #5 from the PCHDS: Establish meaningful and ongoing engagement with the public and stakeholders to understand their health data needs and expectations.
    Furthermore, the PHAC TB surveillance program is exploring the development of a new surveillance infrastructure to modernize the storage, management and analysis of data. This is expected to improve timeliness and data quality and aligns with recommendation #9: Establish common integrated health data standards and data architecture and drive and monitor their roll out.
Question No. 2011—
Mr. Brad Redekopp:
    With regard to government responses to document production orders adopted by the House of Commons and its committees: (a) does the government acknowledge the authority of the House and its committees to compel the production of documents through the power to send for papers and records; (b) does the "suggested key messages" briefed to the Office of the Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship by departmental officials, on May 2, 2022, that "Parliamentary committees may request documents from the government, but the government is of the view that they cannot compel their disclosure" represent the government's official position, and, if not, what is the government's official position; (c) if the answer to (b) is negative, what remedial action has been taken to ensure that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration is correctly informed about the House's constitutional authority to compel the production of documents; (d) are the key messages prepared for an assistant deputy minister of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration on April 28, 2022, for a briefing to be provided to the deputy minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, specifically that "even in the face of an order from the House of Commons, it remains open to protect personal information from disclosure if ministers wish to do so" reflective of the government's official position; (e) if the answer to (d) is negative, what remedial action has been taken to ensure that the department is correctly informed about ministers' authority to override orders of the House and its committees; and (f) is it the position of the government that ministers have any discretionary authorities to redact documents ordered by the House or its committees to be produced, and, if so, on what grounds and lawful authority may orders of the House and its committees be overridden "if ministers wish to do so"?
Mr. James Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, parliamentarians perform a pivotal role in Canada’s Westminster system of government by studying and passing legislation, deliberating on matters of national concern, and generally holding the government to account. The Government of Canada consistently strives to be as forthcoming with parliamentarians as possible, while respecting its legal obligations to treat certain types of information as confidential. That being said, Speaker Beaudoin stated in 1957 that “No matter how ample its powers may be, there are certain documents to which the house is not entitled, and that is those a cabinet minister refuses to produce on his own responsibility.”
    The Privacy Act, for example, provides that personal information under the control of a government institution shall not, without the consent of the individual to whom it relates, be disclosed except in accordance with the Act. When faced with requests by parliamentarians for personal information, government institutions consider all available authorities that may permit disclosure. Officials support ministers, notably with respect to the production of documents as well as in their relationship with the House of Commons, to which they are responsible for the policies and operations of the Government of Canada. All of this is in keeping with the constitutional principles that underly our system, including parliamentary sovereignty, parliamentary privilege, responsible government, and the rule of law.
    As former Conservative Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson stated in the House of Commons on March 31, 2010, “The central issue before you, Mr. Speaker, is whether parliamentary privilege gives the House an absolute and unqualified right to order the production of documents and to receive the documents and whether any expression of views that it might not constitute a contempt of the House. On this point, I would remind the House that our parliamentary privileges are not indefinite, nor unlimited, but defined by the Constitution in the Parliament of Canada Act as those possessed by the United Kingdom House of Commons in 1867.”
Question No. 2016—
Mrs. Shelby Kramp-Neuman:
    With regard to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the October 6, 2023 directive for CAF reconstitution from the Chief of the Defence Staff and the deputy minister: (a) how many and what percentage of CAF members are considered non-essential; (b) how many and what percentage of those considered non-essential have been ordered to "temporarily cease activities" to focus on the reconstitution order; (c) what is the breakdown of how many CAF members have been reassigned to focus on the reconstitution order by the unit or squadron they were with; and (d) what are the details of each analysis conducted, including timelines, findings, and number of personnel involved, related to the part of the directive stating that "Before reductions in staffing processes and/or the ceasing of activities and tasks that do not directly contribute to CAF reconstitution efforts, an analysis shall be conducted to determine the impacts on Public Service processes and activities, and solutions will be devised in collaboration with ADM(HR-Civ) to mitigate negative second and third order effects"?
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Chief of the Defence Staff, or CDS,and Deputy Minister, or DM, directive for Canadian Armed Forces, or CAF, reconstitution initiated a concerted, defence team-wide effort to rebuild the strength and numbers of its members and, at the same time, build on the structure and competencies that are necessary to defend and protect Canadians. The directive calls on the defence team to optimize its operational tempo, prioritize resource allocation to areas of increasing strategic relevance and create capacity for reconstitution efforts. Notably, there are no CAF personnel who are deemed non-essential through this process.
    The directive was initially produced by the Strategic Joint Staff, with support from organizations across National Defence. There is no dedicated team or set of individuals that have been re-assigned to focus on the directive’s implementation. This is because the directive provides tasks and planning guidance for all members across the defence team to consider and incorporate into future planning.
    Indeed, a number of tasks identified in the directive have been achieved due to close coordination and collaboration between individuals and teams across National Defence since October 2022. For example, the defence team has successfully executed an initial review of operations and contingency plans to initiate a short-term optimization of critical ranks and trades, streamlined the delivery of basic training and completed a review of all ceremonial tasks in order to prioritize reconstitution efforts.
    As of December 18, 2023, these efforts have not necessitated analyses on public service processes and activities. Nonetheless, all elements and organizations within National Defence – military and civilian – continue to apply a reconstitution lens to all operations, plans and commitments, with due consideration given to priorities and capacity.
    Reconstitution is an ongoing effort that will continue until the force is appropriately rebuilt. There will be continual reviews of the directive to ensure that the aims are still correct and being achieved and to ensure the tasks are appropriate and prioritized.
Question No. 2017—
Mr. Earl Dreeshen:
    With regard to the orders in council adopted since November 4, 2015: (a) how many orders in council have not been published on the Privy Council Office website; and (b) with respect to each order in council not published, (i) what is the number assigned to it, (ii) what is the date on which it was adopted, (iii) who was the minister who gave the recommendation to adopt it, (iv) which departments, agencies or Crown corporations did it concern, (v) what is its subject-matter, (vi) did it enact regulations exempted from examination, publication or registration under the Statutory Instruments Act?
Mr. Terry Duguid (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Special Advisor for Water, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with few exceptions, orders in council are available to Canadians online on the Privy Council Office, or PCO, Orders in Council website and are published in the Canada Gazette.
    Between November 5, 2015, and November 22, 2023, the Governor in Council approved 10,828 orders in council. Of those, 10,728 were posted on the PCO Orders in Council website. The remaining 100, representing less than 1% of the total number approved by the Governor in Council, are protected in accordance with Canadian legislation.
    Some statutes, including, the Statutory Instruments Act, the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act, and the Investment Canada Act, contain provisions that restrict the publication of orders in council, temporarily or permanently, when their content relates to national security, military operations, sensitive personal or commercial information, or information that could interfere with the conduct of international or interprovincial affairs.
Question No. 2018—
Mr. Alex Ruff:
    With regard to Old Age Security (OAS), for the 2022 tax year: (a) how many OAS payment recipients were not residents of Canada for tax purposes; and (b) how much was paid out in OAS payments to the recipients in (a)?
Mr. Terry Sheehan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour and Seniors, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a) of the question, in 2022, an average of 155,477 Old Age Security or OAS program recipients residing outside Canada received benefits each month.
    These recipients may or may not have non-resident status for tax purposes. Data limitations regarding the OAS and International Agreements administrative databases preclude the reliable identification of beneficiaries with non-resident status for tax purposes as granted by the Canada Revenue Agency.
    With respect to part (b), in 2022, $620,967,040 was paid to OAS program recipients residing outside Canada.
Question No. 2020—
Mr. Eric Melillo:
    With regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan 2023-2028: (a) what is the date each measure will (i) begin to be implemented, (ii) be fully implemented; and (b) for each measure in (a) where implementation dates are not available, why are dates not available?
Mr. James Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker,the Department of Justice undertook an extensive preliminary search in order to determine the amount of information that would fall within the scope of the question and the amount of time that would be required to prepare a comprehensive response. The level of detail of the information requested is not systematically tracked in a centralized database. The Department of Justice concluded that producing and validating a comprehensive response to this question would require a manual collection of information that is not possible in the time allotted and could lead to the disclosure of incomplete and misleading information.
    The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms the human rights of indigenous peoples as the minimum standard for the survival, dignity and well-being of indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world.
    Together, first nations, Inuit and Métis and the Government of Canada are already working to implement the UN Declaration on the ground, including through the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, orUNDA, which created a lasting framework to advance federal implementation of the declaration in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples.
    There are already many initiatives underway that contribute to achieving the objectives of the declaration. These include, but are not limited to: Indigenous Languages Act; First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Families and Youth Act and the urban, rural and northern indigenous housing strategy.
    The UNDA action plan is intended to be implemented over five years, from 2023 to 2028. As is therefore to be expected, different action plan measures are at different stages and will proceed at different rates. For some, measures are already well underway or nearing completion: for example, Bill S-13, An Act to amend the Interpretation Act and to make related amendments to other Acts; Bill C-38, An Act to amend the Indian Act (new registration entitlements); and Bill C-53, An Act respecting the recognition of certain Métis governments in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan, to give effect to treaties with those governments and to make consequential amendments to other Acts); for others, initial work planned has been shared with indigenous peoples, that is, shared priorities, or SP, 30 indigenous data sovereignty) and some discussions with indigenous peoples are already underway, such as SP 28 development of an indigenous justice strategy and SP 52 indigenous cross-border mobility). For others, dedicated consultation has yet to begin. Information about specific measures will be collected, confirmed and reported on as part of the UNDA annual reporting process.
    To ensure indigenous peoples’ continued participation in the action plan implementation process, the Department of Justice is providing funding to support indigenous participation in the various implementation, monitoring and oversight processes described in the action plan.
    As with the other obligations set out in the UNDA and the commitments made in the action plan, the annual reports on progress must be developed in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples. Shared priorities measure 20 from the action plan commits to the development of metrics with indigenous peoples to ensure useful measurements are being reported on.
    The next Annual Report to Parliament is scheduled to be completed in June 2024 and will be tabled shortly thereafter.
Question No. 2021—
Mr. Gérard Deltell:
    With regard to legal services and the Department of Justice: (a) what are the total legal costs incurred by the government for the case of Responsible Plastic Use Coalition v. Canada (Environment and Climate Change); and (b) what is the breakdown of the costs?
Mr. James Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to legal expenses incurred by the government related to the Responsible Plastic Use Coalition v. Canada (Environment and Climate Change) litigation, to the extent that the information that has been requested is or may be protected by any legal privileges, including solicitor-client privilege, the federal Crown asserts those privileges. In this case, it has only waived solicitor-client privilege, and only to the extent of revealing the total legal costs, as defined below.
    The total legal costs, namely the actual and notional costs, associated with the Responsible Plastic Use Coalition v. Canada (Environment and Climate Change) action amount to approximatively $1,307,200. The services targeted here are litigation services provided in this case by the Department of Justice, as well as litigation support services. Department of Justice lawyers, notaries and paralegals are salaried public servants and therefore no legal fees are incurred for their services. A “notional amount” can, however, be provided to account for the legal services they provide. The notional amount is calculated by multiplying the total hours recorded in the responsive files for the relevant period by the applicable approved internal legal services hourly rates. Actual costs represent file related legal disbursements paid by the Department of Justice and then cost-recovered from client departments or agencies. The total amount mentioned in this response is based on information contained in Department of Justice systems, as of November 29, 2023.
Question No. 2027—
Ms. Niki Ashton:
    With regard to the effective tax rate paid by high-income individuals and businesses: (a) from 2015 to 2023, what was the effective tax rate paid by those making above (i) 1 million, (ii) 2 million, (ii) 5 million, CAD; (b) what was the average effective tax rate paid by the top (i) 1%, (ii) 0.1%, (iii) 0.01%, of income earners from 2015 to 2023; and (c) what was the effective capital gains tax rate of the top (i) 1%, (ii) 0.1%, (iii) 0.01%, of capital gains earners from 2015 to 2023?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the previous question, what follows is the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, for the time period of January 1, 2015, to November 27, 2023, that is, the date of the question.
    The CRA is unable to provide a response to (a), (b) or (c).
    Effective tax rates are not captured on tax forms or schedules, nor in the CRA’s systems and databases, for either individuals or corporations. Computations of effective tax rates are not undertaken by the CRA. Providing the information requested would require an extensive data modeling exercise to produce a tax calculation for which the CRA neither has the requisite expertise nor a tried and tested methodology.
Question No. 2028—
Mr. Adam Chambers:
    With regard to the Bank of Canada's (BOC) digital Canadian dollar consultation: (a) what are the details of all memorandums or briefing notes that have been sent from or received by the BOC in relation to the topic, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) type of document, (iii) sender, (iv) recipient, (v) title, (vi) file number; (b) what are the details of all studies the BOC has done since 2016 related to the topic, including, for each, (i) the date, (ii) the methodology, (iii) who conducted the study, (iv) the results; and (c) what (i) was the input received, (ii) were the overall findings, from the digital Canadian dollar consultation, which occurred from May 8 to June 19, 2023?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to part (a) of the question, (i) with regard to the Bank of Canada's digital Canadian dollar consultation, the bank found one relevant briefing note or memorandum dated October 3, 2023; (ii) the type of document is a briefing note; (iii) the sender is the communications department of the Bank of Canada; (iv) the recipient is the executive council of the Bank of Canada; and (v) the title is “Overview of engagement to date and material for publication by the Bank”. Item (vi) is not applicable, as there is no file number associated with this document.
    With respect to part (b) of the question, details of the relevant study are in the response to part (c) of the question. There are no additional studies related to the Bank of Canada's digital Canadian dollar consultation.
    Lastly, with respect to part (c), on May 8, 2023, the Bank of Canada launched an open public questionnaire on the digital Canadian dollar, which ran for six weeks. On November 29, 2023, the bank released the results of its overall engagement and public consultation work in a report entitled, “A Digital Canadian Dollar: What we heard 2020–23 and what comes next”. The report includes an appendix prepared for the bank by a third-party service provider, Forum Research, on public questionnaire results. This includes an explanation of the methodology used for the questionnaire, an analysis of the quantitative results and a summary of the qualitative feedback.
Question No. 2031—
Mrs. Karen Vecchio:
    With regard to the government and Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+): what were the results of the GBA+ analysis and the subsequent actions taken for (i) Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, (ii) Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bail reform), (iii) Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Judges Act, (iv) Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act?
Mr. James Maloney (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice supports the Government of Canada’s commitments to Gender-Based Analysis Plus, or GBA Plus, to help ensure that federal initiatives are responsive and inclusive. The department’s Policy on Gender-Based Analysis Plus: Applying an Intersectional Approach to Foster Inclusion and Address Inequities defines the guiding principles and key steps for the integration of intersectional GBA Plus considerations in the development of legislation as well as other departmental initiatives. Members can consult annex C of the policy. The policy requires all Justice Canada officials to apply an intersectional GBA Plus approach in a systematic, evidence-based way to ensure that federal government legislation, policies, programs and other initiatives are responsive, inclusive and reflective of diverse experiences and realities in order to address existing inequities and barriers.
    The GBA Plus assessment process is focused on understanding who is impacted by the issue being addressed, identifying how the initiative could be tailored to meet diverse needs of the people most impacted, and anticipating and mitigating any barriers to accessing or benefitting from the initiative. Applying an intersectional approach goes beyond gender and sex to include consideration of multiple identity factors, such as age, disability, economic status, education, sexual orientation, language, racialization, ethnicity, religion and spirituality. The analysis also includes creating meaningful GBA Plus indicators to monitor and report on the impacts of the initiative on diverse groups, as well as identifying existing and potential barriers and inequities experienced by specific groups and addressing them in a timely manner as needed.
    Here is some information on the GBA Plus analysis and further actions taken in respect of the specific bills that were the subject of this inquiry.
    Regarding the former Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, the GBA Plus analysis was provided to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on May 10, 2019. The amendments were expected to have differential impacts on some identifiable groups, due to the demographic characteristics of individuals involved in the criminal justice system, the CJS. Since these amendments were not designed to address all social issues, without sufficient training for CJS actors, operational changes in the courts and administration of justice at the provincial and territorial level to support them, vulnerable populations were expected to continue to experience overrepresentation. Since the enactment of this legislation, Justice Canada has undertaken further work with the provinces and territories to implement the amendments and monitor any impacts of the legislation.
    Justice Canada is currently developing a survey to examine CJS stakeholders’ perceptions of CJS efficiencies in general, and more specifically in light of recent legislative changes, including those enacted by former Bill C-75. This will include an assessment of the overall impacts of these changes on Indigenous and racialized accused/offenders and other vulnerable populations.
    With respect to Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bail reform), the GBA Plus analysis was provided to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on September 27, 2023. It is available at https://sencanada.ca/Content/Sen/Committee/441/LCJC/briefs/2023-10-13_LCJC_C-48_Follow-up_GBAplus_e.pdf. The Government of Canada recognizes that the lack of national bail statistics in Canada has resulted in knowledge and data gaps on the topic. Justice Canada is collaborating closely with Statistics Canada and with the provinces and territories to improve data collection and fill these gaps, which would help better understand the impacts of our bail system. Section 2 of Bill C-48 also requires a parliamentary review of the amendments to begin five years after Royal Assent to assess the impacts of the reforms. This review must begin by December 5, 2028, or as soon as reasonably feasible.
    With respect to Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Judges Act, the GBA Plus analysis was provided to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on April 14, 2023. The reforms enacted by C-9 were carefully designed to improve the process for reviewing complaints against federally appointed judges, with a focus on its cost and efficiency, as well as its fairness, accountability and transparency, all without having a disproportionate impact on judges or complainants who are members of identifiable groups relevant to GBA Plus. The reforms are expected to have a positive impact on those who submit complaints related to discrimination, including based on race and gender. Whether the proposed reforms might have negative or unintended impacts for judges or complainants was considered, and none were identified. No further steps are considered necessary at this time.
    With respect to Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the GBA Plus analysis was provided to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on October 18, 2022. It is available at https://sencanada.ca/Content/Sen/Committee/441/LCJC/briefs/C-5_Followup_Lametti_Full_e.pdf. Section 21 of Bill C-5 included a mandatory parliamentary review of the amendments four years after coming into force to assess the operation of the reforms. This review must begin by November 17, 2026. Justice Canada will continue to collaborate with partners to monitor the impacts of the amendments.
    The Department of Justice will continue to improve its practices and promote the early and meaningful integration of intersectional GBA Plus considerations in legislation, policies, programs and other initiatives to advance equity and inclusion.
Question No. 2036—
Mr. Chris Warkentin:
    With regard to claims by the Prime Minister that senators appointed by him are independent: (a) what are the details of all messages sent by the Prime Minister, any minister, or any ministerial staff to Senator Marc Gold since January 1, 2023, including, for each, the (i) sender (ii) type of message (e-mail, text, letter), (iii) title, (iv) summary of the contents, (v) date; (b) what are the details of all government meetings where Senator Gold was invited, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) meeting title, (iii) names and titles of invitees, (iv) location; and (c) has Senator Gold ever been invited to any cabinet meetings, and, if so, how many?
Ms. Jennifer O’Connell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions, and Intergovernmental Affairs (Cybersecurity), Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in December 2015, the Prime Minister implemented an independent advisory board that makes merit-based recommendations for Senate appointments. Every new senator since that time has been appointed as an independent. The new independent Senate led to the creation of the Government Representative Office, led by the Government Representative, Senator Marc Gold. He does not sit in or lead a partisan caucus.
    Senator Gold’s role is representing the Senate to the government, and vice versa. For the government, he is the first point of contact and holds the responsibility for steering the government’s legislation through the Senate, while also maintaining and encouraging the independence of senators. Senator Gold is a member of the Privy Council. He attends Cabinet when deemed appropriate for facilitating his role in managing the government’s legislative agenda in the Senate, and receives relevant correspondence as needed.
Question No. 2037—
Mr. Damien C. Kurek:
    With regard to the new passport's development, design, production, and distribution: (a) other than the $284 million contract with the Canadian Bank Note Company, were any other contracts awarded related to the passport, and, if so, what are the details of each, including the (i) vendor, (ii) value, (iii) date, (iv) description of the goods or services provided, (v) manner in which the contract was awarded (competitive bid, sole-sourced)?
Mr. Paul Chiang (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, insofar as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada or IRCC is concerned: yes, a contract was awarded related to the passport. Specifically, the department leveraged an existing contract with TRM Technologies Inc. via a task authorization or TA to conduct a privacy assessment of the technical solution producing the new passport.
    The contract was awarded to TRM Technologies Inc. The TA value was $33,052.50. The TA was awarded on October 17, 2022. The purpose of the TA was to analyze the new technical production solution for privacy issues, to identify associated risks and mitigation strategies and to draft an addendum to the existing ePassport Privacy Impact Assessment. This contract was awarded via a competitive bid.
Question No. 2038—
Mrs. Shannon Stubbs:
    With regard to the comments by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on November 8, 2023, that "tens of thousands of people across the Prairies are getting the chance to replace their home heating oil": what is the breakdown of the number of homes on the Prairies that currently use home heating oil, broken down by each of the Prairie provinces?
Hon. Jonathan Wilkinson (Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Natural Resources Canada, or NRCan, produces the Comprehensive Energy Use Database, or CEUD. CEUD provides an overview of sectoral energy markets in Canada and in each region of the country and provides data on the stock of residential heating systems in each province and in the territories. CEUD data for the residential sector is derived from multiple sources, including Statistics Canada’s Report on Energy Supply and Demand, Survey on Household Energy Use, or SHEU. The latest CEUD data is for 2020. CEUD 2021 data is expected in early 2024. The CEUD can be found online at https://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/statistics/neud/dpa/menus/trends/comprehensive_tables/list.cfm.
    According to CEUD data, in 2020, it is estimated that there were 12,000 residential heating systems that use heating oil in Alberta, 12,800 in Saskatchewan, and 8,200 in Manitoba, totaling 33,000 across the Prairie provinces.
Question No. 2040—
Ms. Melissa Lantsman:
    With regard to the grant of approximately $133,800 that the government provided to the Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) and Laith Marouf: (a) how much of the $120,000 paid out through the grant contract has been recovered to date and when was the money recovered; (b) if the money hasn't been recovered, what is the government's plan to recover the money, and by what date will the money be recovered; (c) has the government examined any "anti-racism" training provided or developed by Marouf or the CMAC in relation to the grant for anti-Semitic elements, and, if so, what were the results; (d) what specific actions, if any, has the government taken to correct any harm caused by any anti­Semitism which was promoted through this grant by the CMAC or Marouf; and (e) what curriculum or training materials were developed in relation to the grant?
Mr. Sameer Zuberi (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), as of December 4, the Department of Canadian Heritage has not been successful in its efforts to recover any of the $122,661 in funds that had been issued to the Community Media Advocacy Centre, or CMAC.
    With regard to (b), the contract with CMAC was terminated on September 23, 2022, and the Department of Canadian Heritage retained a third-party collection agency to recoup the $122,661 paid to CMAC, as well as the services of an investigative agency. Additionally, the department asked the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, to apply their set-off program that allows amounts owed by an organization to be re-directed to set off debts. Following these efforts, a statement of claim was filed on November 17, 2023, by the Attorney General of Canada to take legal action against CMAC for breach of contract. The timing of the recovery of funds will be determined by the results of these efforts.
    With regard to (c), the Anti-Racism Action Program, or ARAP, suspended the project on August 19, 2022, when it became aware of Mr. Marouf's hateful tweets. The department has not relied on any of the material that was developed by either Mr. Marouf or CMAC.
    With regard to (d), following the discovery of hateful comments made by Mr. Marouf, the minister paused the programs that fall under Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy while the department conducted a comprehensive review of the grants and contributions under the programs, improved program integrity protocols and processes, and provided training to program employees.
    The department made changes to the application guidelines of the Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Program, the declaration and attestation section of the application form and the contribution agreement template. The attestation requires that funding recipients attest that they will not undermine Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, that they will respect the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act, and that they will disclose any information about the applicant that could bring disrepute to the Government of Canada. These changes were posted on the departmental website and the online application portal on December 14, 2022.
    Additional program integrity review is also undertaken: enhanced assessment by program staff is conducted via web searches of a recipient’s board members, people directly involved in project delivery and the organization’s social media. Should potential risks be identified, such as allegations of racism, discrimination or harassment by board members or other individuals directly involved in the proposed project and named in the proponent’s application, then an escalation protocol is triggered to further review the file and make a recommendation.
    New training has been provided to all program advisors on the importance of each step in the evaluation process, as well as on the new enhanced assessment/re-assessment criteria for applicants and recipients that include parameters on in-depth environmental scans. This training also included application assessment, risk management tools and monitoring. The department has also provided anti-racism and antisemitism training to all program employees across the country, which included the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of antisemitism.
    Additional training on antisemitism, developed by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, was also offered to program staff, as well as staff in communications and human resources.
    Lastly, with regard to (e), see response for part (c).
Question No. 2041—
Mrs. Shelby Kramp-Neuman:
    With regard to the comments from Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee that the Navy is in a critical state: (a) what specific elements of the RCN does the government admit are in a critical state; and (b) for each element in (a), (i) how long has it been in a critical state, (ii) what specific action, if any, has the government taken over the past five years to improve the state of the element, (iii) by what date will the situation improve so that that element is no longer in a critical state?
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Royal Canadian Navy, or RCN, continues to meet needs at home and to support Canada's international commitments abroad. For example, the RCN is able to meet high-readiness requirements for deploying frigates annually, two per coast, while maintaining a minimum level of personnel on other ships and shore establishments to support force generation objectives.
    However, as with any platform, as equipment ages, more maintenance is required to keep vessels operational and, with age, costs of maintenance and spare parts also increase. These increased costs, to sustain operational capacity, are putting significant pressure on existing maintenance budgets. Further, capability challenges are compounded by recruitment challenges across the Canadian Armed Forces, or CAF, including the RCN. In addition, and aside from challenges in the international security environment, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant effect on the CAF and the RCN, both from an equipment perspective, due to fragile supply challenges resulting in contract delays, and from a people perspective, in terms of the RCN’s own personnel management and, more broadly, at shipyards for skilled labour.
    As outlined in Canada’s Defence Policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, National Defence is making significant investments to renew and modernize the Royal Canadian Navy by investing in six Arctic and offshore patrol ships, fifteen Canadian surface combatants, and two joint support ships. Together, these ships will play a critical role in protecting Canada’s maritime domain, including in Canada’s Arctic waters, and in contributing to international missions with allies and partners.
    National Defence has received four of six Arctic and offshore patrol ships, with the fifth planned for delivery in December 2024 and the sixth in December 2025. These vessels will significantly enhance the RCN’s capabilities and presence in the Arctic, allowing the RCN to better uphold Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.
    The Canadian surface combatant, or CSC, project will replace the Iroquois-class destroyers and the Halifax-class frigates with a single class of vessels; delivery is expected to begin in the early 2030s, with full delivery by 2050.
    As the RCN awaits the delivery of the CSC capability, the Halifax-class frigates are continuing to be deployed on operations, including under Operation NEON to conduct surveillance operations and identify maritime sanctions evasion activities in the Indo-Pacific. However, the frigate fleet is beyond the originally expected design life and given the age of the vessels, between 27 and 35 years, there has been a significant increase in the length of necessary maintenance periods and higher associated costs.
    The Halifax-class is a major component of the national shipbuilding strategy’s third pillar, which is Repair, Refit and Maintenance. Under this pillar, the Government of Canada has contracts in place with the three large shipyards to execute the extensive docking work periods required to sustain the class. Additionally, Defence is working with marine industry partners to implement a risk-based program for the Halifax-class to ensure that they continue to operate safely into the future.
    Further, the procurement of two joint support ships, or JSSs, in 2025 and 2027 will contribute to the defence of Canada and international security by providing crucial at-sea replenishment capabilities. In the interim, and to address the retirement of the Protecteur-class auxiliary oiler replenishment vessels, the RCN has contracted the interim auxiliary oiler replenishment ship to provide support until the JSSs are delivered.
    At the same time, the CAF is experiencing a shortfall in personnel. That is why National Defence and the CAF are undertaking a period of reconstitution; that is, to prioritize efforts to recruit and train personnel and to make the organization stronger and more effective.
    To address personnel shortages, the RCN continues to work with the chief of military personnel to develop policies and programs that improve recruitment and retention. One example is the Naval Experience Program, or NEP, which aims to increase the intake of recruits and attract a new generation of Canadians to serve in the RCN.
    More specifically, the program offers Canadians the opportunity to experience life as a sailor for a one-year contract and provides them with exposure to a variety of naval trades before deciding if a career in the RCN is right for them. The program will also help the RCN to identify and address inefficiencies in its current human resources process.
    To date, 98 candidates are enrolled with 400 prospects in the recruiting process, helping to address the RCN’s requirement of 1,200 new enrollees each year. The NEP has other benefits: it has engaged the naval reserve divisions in recruiting for the regular force, it has tripled the number of potential applicants at recruiting centres who ask about the navy, and through the program, the navy is enrolling three times as many visible minorities and indigenous Canadians through the NEP than previously. It has forced the RCN to better manage all its personnel on the basic training list, which is beginning to deliver an improved experience for all trainees.
Question No. 2046—
Mr. Gerald Soroka:
    With regard to the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) approach to carousel schemes and other GST/HST fraud, broken down by year since 2018: (a) what is the CRA's estimate on the amount of unwarranted payments it has paid out through GST/HST fraud; (b) of the amount in (a), how much does it estimate involved carousel schemes; (c) how much of the money paid out in (a) and (b) has been recovered to date; (d) how much of the money paid out in (a) and (b) does the CRA expect to recover; (e) what is the breakdown of where the fraudulent companies were located; and (f) what is the breakdown of the countries where the bank account into which the unwarranted payments were transferred to or cashed from?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above noted question, what follows is the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, for the time period of January 1, 2018, to December 1, 2023, namely the date of the question.
    General information relating to the CRA’s approach to carousel schemes is available at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/tax-schemes/combatting-carousel-schemes.html.
    The CRA’s programs play an important role in preventing the payment of unwarranted refunds, identifying suspicious behaviour, and referring high-risk returns for further review and examination. The CRA has dedicated programs that identify, deregister and safeguard goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax, or GST/HST, accounts that are registered as a result of identity theft, as well as programs that verify commercial activity before the initial GST/HST return is filed. This allows the CRA to close suspicious accounts before a return is filed and an unwarranted refund is paid. These programs are based on enhanced risk assessment tools designed to identify and prevent suspicious entities from infiltrating the filing population.
    With regard to (a), the CRA is only able to identify an unwarranted payment through compliance actions. Therefore, there is no systematic way to estimate the amount of all unwarranted payments. As such, the CRA is unable to provide the information in the manner requested.
    With regard to (b), for the reason outlined in (a), the CRA is unable to estimate the total amount of unwarranted payments that involves carousel schemes.
    With regard to (c) and (d), while the CRA’s collections program tracks payments in many ways, namely by date of payment, account number, revenue line, and program, it is not able to trace payments back to the source of the assessment or reassessment. Additionally, an amount owing can be comprised of debts from various years, various revenue lines and various assessment types. Due to this system limitation, the CRA is unable to provide an amount that has been recovered or provide an estimate of future recoveries in the manner requested.
    With regard to (e) and (f), as the CRA does not systematically capture the location of fraudulent companies or bank accounts to which payments are issued, it is unable to provide a breakdown of where companies are located or to where payments have been transferred.
Question No. 2054—
Mr. Ben Lobb:
    With regard to the High Frequency Rail project and the final report expected in late 2023 to inform government decisions on opportunities to enhance rail service in Southwestern Ontario: (a) is the final report complete, and, if so, what is the website address where the report can be found; and (b) if the final report is not yet complete, when will it be, and what is the reason it was not ready in late 2023?
Hon. Pablo Rodriguez (Minister of Transport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in November 2022, following a competitive procurement process, the government contracted the services of external advisors, namely CPCS and WSP, to explore options to improve intercity passenger rail frequencies, on-time performance, and shorten travel times in Southwestern Ontario. The external advisors have been making steady progress and are nearing completion of their analysis. They are on track to deliver a final report with options to the federal government in early 2024.
    The delivery of the final report is a few months later than originally anticipated due to unforeseen delays in obtaining all the requisite information from external partners to complete the analysis.
    The government has committed to releasing a summary of the report once it has been reviewed by Transport Canada. The summary will be written in a manner that is accessible to the public and that protects any proprietary information that has been provided by external parties.
Question No. 2057—
Mr. Dan Albas:
    With regard to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance's involvement in the World Economic Forum (WEF): (a) is the minister still a member of the WEF's board of trustees, and, if not, why is she no longer a board member and on what date did the minister cease to be a board member; and (b) if the minister resigned from the board, what was the reason for the resignation?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the response from the Department of Finance to (a) and (b) is as follows:
    Per the Conflict of Interest Act, activities of designated public office holders are disclosed on the Public Registry. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance’s declaration Summary Profile can be viewed at https://prciec-rpccie.parl.gc.ca/EN/PublicRegistries/Pages/Client.aspx#k=8c283ee4-555c-e311-8703-002655368060.
Question No. 2058—
Mr. Jamie Schmale:
    With regard to Crown-Indigenous relations: (a) what (i) criteria, (ii) framework, (iii) legal test, was used by the government to determine that each of the communities represented by the Métis Nation of Ontario holds rights under Section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982; and (b) what specific evidence or information did the government use to arrive at the conclusion that each and all of the communities represented by the Métis Nation of Ontario are Section 35 rights-holders?
Mr. Jaime Battiste (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, through the February 2023 Métis Self-Government Recognition and Implementation Agreement, or the 2023 agreement, Canada has recognized that the Métis Nation of Ontario, or MNO, is a Métis government and is authorized to act on behalf of its Métis collectivity.
    The Métis collectivity is comprised of Métis individuals who are citizens, namely those who have chosen to register, have been found to meet the Powley criteria, and registered in the register for the MNO; and the Métis communities it represents. Further, through the 2023 agreement, Canada recognizes that this Métis collectivity has mandated the MNO as the indigenous government responsible for representing and advancing its section 35 rights. Canada has not recognized specific communities.
    In the 2003 R. v. Powley decision, the Supreme Court of Canada, or SCC, confirmed the existence of Métis rights under section 35, and in paragraph 38 it confirmed that the Métis have “full status as distinctive rights-bearing peoples.” The SCC also recognized, in paragraph 53, that “[m]embers of the Métis community in and around Sault Ste. Marie [in Ontario] have an Aboriginal right to hunt for food under s. 35(1).” The Métis community in and around Sault Ste. Marie is one of the historic Métis communities represented by the MNO.
    In 2013, the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples released a report on the Recognition of Métis Identity in Canada, “The People Who Own Themselves,” in which the Committee acknowledged that “the identity of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples is a matter for peoples themselves to determine.” The report notes the need for practical solutions to legal and policy challenges respecting Métis identity and “self-identification.”
    This recommendation is consistent with the 2016 report, “A Matter of National and Constitutional Import: Report of the Minister’s Special Representative on Reconciliation with Métis: Section 35 Métis Rights and the Manitoba Métis Federation Decision”:
    “[I]t is in the public interest to have Métis governments and institutions having objectively verifiable mechanisms and processes to determine Métis in accordance with Canadian law for the purposes of Section 35. … While determining who is Métis for the purposes of Section 35 is not as straightforward as making an inquiry to the Indian Registrar, the SCC has set out the test for determining who is Métis for the purposes of Section 35.”
    Following these SCC decisions and related reports, Canada established a Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination, or “RIRSD”, table with the MNO in 2016 and began engaging in exploratory discussions toward self-government.
    First, section 35 Métis rights were recognized by the courts: the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Powley recognized a Métis community near Sault Ste. Marie; Ontario courts upheld the ON-MNO Métis Harvesting Agreement in the 2007 Laurin decision.
    The Powley decision continues to be the Supreme Court’s only consideration of Métis rights protected by section 35, and sets out what is required, namely the legal test, to prove the existence of a Métis community with rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
    According to the judicial notice of organization, the MNO was granted intervener status in a number of section 35 rights-based cases.
    Based on the analysis of historic communities, to help guide its response to the Powley decision, the Department of Justice launched 15 research projects on the development of historic mixed-ancestry communities in several parts of the country, including Ontario.
    According to the provincial recognition of section 35 rights, while Ontario has recognized seven historic Métis regional communities to inform provincial policy approaches, Canada has not recognized specific communities.
Question No. 2059—
Mr. Jamie Schmale:
    With regard to the required compliance audit to be included in the government's Indigenous Business Directory: (a) when was the last time that (i) Coradix Technology Consulting, (ii) DALIAN Enterprises Inc., were the subject of a compliance audit, broken down by the client department or agency which provided contracts to either of the companies since January 1, 2016; and (b) for each audit in (a), what were the results?
Ms. Jenica Atwin (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Indigenous Business Directory, or IBD, assists indigenous businesses in pursuing business opportunities, including federal government contracts. A profile in the IBD confirms the indigenous business’ eligibility to be considered for award of federal government contracts that are limited to competition under the procurement Sstrategy for Iindigenous business, or PSIB.
    In order to ensure the integrity of the IBD, Indigenous Services Canada, or ISC, conducts audits to ensure that indigenous businesses meet the PSIB criteria and that set-aside requirements are effectively reserved for the PSIB-registered businesses. Pre-award and random audits are performed to verify that the indigenous business meets the ownership and control requirements and is mandatory for PSIB set-aside requirements valued at, or greater than, $2 million. A post-award audit is optional at the request of a contracting authority to ensure that the contractor meets the PSIB criteria during the contract, including the business’ ability to meet the indigenous content requirement.
    As Coradix Technology Consulting is a non-indigenous company, and is not listed in the IBD, it would not be subject to a compliance audit under the IBD or PSIB. Since 2016, ISC holds records of Dalian Enterprises Inc. and Coradix Technology in joint venture undergoing two compliance audits to confirm 51% indigenous ownership and control.
    First, a mandatory pre-award audit was concluded November 25, 2016, for contract T8080-150428 awarded by Transport Canada, with a result of “pass”.
    Then, a mandatory pre-award audit was conducted August 9, 2022, for contract A0416-183262/001/ZM awarded by Public Services and Procurement Canada, with a result of “pass”.
    To date, no post-award audits have been conducted. In December 2023, at the request of Public Services and Procurement Canada, ISC has initiated post-award audits on active contracts with Coradix Technology Consulting and Dalian Enterprises Inc.
Question No. 2060—
Mrs. Cheryl Gallant:
    With regard to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF): (a) how many CAF members have been forced to take a lower pension amount due to being sent to a lower paying transition unit, due to age, injury, or other factors, prior to retirement; (b) are the CAF members in (a) able to have a pension based on their highest earning years, including allowances, and, if not, why not; (c) what measures are in place to ensure that the CAF does not try to intentionally lower pension payments by placing higher earning CAF members into lower earning transition units prior to the CAF member's release; (d) how many CAF veterans are currently receiving a pension based on a rate based on a transition unit rather than based on their highest earning unit; (e) what is the CAF doing with the extra money resulting from lower pension payments; (f) how many Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) members have participated in missions or operations but still been denied full danger pay and risk allowances; (g) what is the rationale for providing regiments operating at the same time and place with full danger pay and risk allowances while denying it to special forces; (h) does the rational take into consideration that special forces tasking is often more dangerous, and living conditions are equally poor, and, if not, why not; (i) what mechanisms are in place for CSOR members who have been denied danger pay or risk allowances to appeal the denial; (j) how much money is the government saving by denying danger pay and risk allowances to CSOR members; (k) what is the government doing with the money it is saving by denying danger pay and risk allowances to CSOR members; and (l) how does the government justify denying full danger pay and risk allowances to CSOR members who participate in assignments abroad when their conditions are worse than other CAF regiments in the same place at the same time?
Mrs. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to parts (a) to (e) of the question, Canadian Armed Forces, or CAF, members are not forced to take a lower pension due to assignment to a transition unit. A member’s pay in a transition unit is at the rate and increment they are entitled to and is not lower than the rate they had been receiving immediately prior to being sent to a transition unit. If a member is not changing occupations, their pay will not decrease as a result of being posted to another unit, including a transition unit.
    A member’s entitlement to a pension is prescribed in the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, or CFSA, and subsection 15(1) of the Act sets out how pensions are calculated. All CAF members who are eligible for benefits, including those sent to a transition unit prior to retirement, have their pension calculated based on the average annual pay received during their five highest-earning years. Notably, allowances are not pensionable. In the case of a member who has to their credit less than five years of pensionable service, the average annual pay received during the total period of pensionable service to their credit is used instead. Where a member has more than 35 years of pensionable service, if any of those years after 35 years are part of that member’s highest paid five consecutive years, then that period of higher pay counts towards the calculation of their pension, as per subsection 15(5). There are no CAF veterans that are currently receiving a pension that is not based on their five highest-earning years.
    Neither the government nor the CAF use members’ assignments and their pensions as a cost-saving measure. The CAF administers and calculates pensions in accordance with the CFSA and its regulations. As such, there are no lower pension payments, nor any surplus funds.
    With respect to parts (f) to (l), CAF personnel often face dangers and discomfort while deployed on operations around the globe. Their extraordinary dedication does not go unrecognized.
    As per the Military Foreign Service Instructions, CAF personnel are entitled to a hardship allowance, or HA, and risk allowance, or RA. The intent of the HA is to compensate for the living conditions existing at a specific post. The allowance is based on an assessment of the living conditions in theatre versus the member’s home base routine in Canada. The type of inconvenience, discomfort, or stress is considered and rated on a scale. Meanwhile, the RA is intended to compensate for the risks associated with a specific post and is based on the probability of a hazard occurring, as well as the severity of its impact.
    Allowance levels are determined by a department hardship and risk committee, or DHRC, led by the strategic joint staff, and the rates for each level are determined by Treasury Board. The DHRC conducts a review of each operation and determines the appropriate level of HA and RA to be accorded to deployed members. A wide range of factors, including conditions faced by members while deployed, are considered during this review, along with supporting information provided by deployed task force commanders, as well as subject matter experts, operations, intelligence, and medical staff.
    The government does not deny HA and RA to Canadian Special Operations Forces, or CANSOF, units operating alongside conventional forces who also receive these allowances. The criteria used to determine the level of the allowance is the same across all operations, regardless of the unit generating the force for that operation. There may be instances in which HA and RA levels are determined after a member has deployed, pending submission of operational details on the ground from the mission location or where the nuances of a CANSOF-specific mission may require a more detailed examination by the DHRC. Once the levels of HA and RA are determined, these allowances are paid to members retroactively. Notably, CANSOF operations have never been denied HA or RA.
    Neither the government nor the CAF use members’ allowances as a cost-saving measure. No members are denied an allowance that they are entitled to. As such, there are no denied allowances, nor any surplus funds resulting from these allowances. A human resource administrator is available to CAF members who may have questions or concerns regarding allowances. The administrator can also directly rectify issues.
Question No. 2062—
Mrs. Anna Roberts:
    With regard to the First Home Savings Account (FHSA): (a) how many accounts are currently active; (b) what is the total cumulative amount held in all accounts; (c) what is the average and median account balance; (d) how many accounts have over (i) $1,000, (ii) $5,000, (iii) $10,000, (iv) $20,000, in them; and (e) what is the breakdown of the number of FHSA accounts by the owner’s income bracket?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the above noted question, what follows is the response from the Canada Revenue Agency, or CRA, as of December 6, 2023, that is, the date of the question.
    With regard to (a) to (d), the CRA will be unable to provide the requested information until all First Home Savings Account, or FHSA, annual information returns have been processed. Financial institutions will only start filing these returns after December 31, 2023. The returns are due by the end of February 2024.
    General information on the filing of T4FHSA annual information returns can be found on the CRA website at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/registered-plans-administrators/first-home-savings-account/t4fhsa-annual-information-return.html.
Question No. 2066—
Mr. Scott Aitchison:
    With regard to the Prime Minister: which senators did the Prime Minister personally call to discuss Bill C-234, An Act to amend the Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act?
Mr. Terry Duguid (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Special Advisor for Water, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in December 2015 the Prime Minister implemented an independent advisory board that makes merit-based recommendations for Senate appointments. Every new Senator since that time has been appointed as an independent and operates that way, aside from the Conservative caucus, which as of today is the only partisan caucus in the Senate. An independent Senate where senators are appointed on merit following recommendations from the independent advisory board on Senate appointments ensures better diversity and has ensured, since 2015, a high standard of integrity, collaboration and non-partisanship in the Senate.
    The Prime Minister and members of the government regularly discuss a range of issues with parliamentarians. This communication and collaboration are a crucial part of our democratic system. Senators bring various points of view and experiences. Their perspectives on matters affecting Canadians are always welcome.
Question No. 2067—
Mr. John Barlow:
    With regard to the AgriRecovery announcement for 2023 to support farmers and ranchers in Western Canada: (a) on what date did the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food receive funding requests from each of the Western provinces under the AgriRecovery framework; (b) on what date did the minister come to an initial agreement with each of the Western provinces, and what were the agreed upon amounts; (c) what was the f