The House resumed from February 20 consideration of the motion.
Madam Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging and thanking all of the staff of the House of Commons and the interpreters for joining us today, bright and early, at seven in the morning. Today, in this province, it is Family Day, and they are here spending the day with us. I am grateful and want to thank them and acknowledge them, as well as everyone who is here with us today. We thank them for their time and for everything they are doing as we discuss a matter that I think is very impactful for our families and, really, for our family of Canada.
I also want to take this occasion to wish Her Majesty the very best and a speedy recovery. I had the honour of meeting Her Majesty. I had an audience with her the year of Canada's sesquicentennial. As one of her medalists, it was the honour of my life to have had that opportunity.
Continuing where I left off last evening, flags matter. Symbols matter, just like how our Canadian flag is a beacon of hope for so many people here at home and abroad. I was distraught, as a person who has proudly worn our flag and the uniform of our country, to see people wrap themselves in our flag and use it as a shield for their behaviour, which sometimes was anything but honourable.
What I have commented on thus far, beginning last evening and this morning, unfortunately describes in detail what I believe lay at the heart of some of those who came to Ottawa. They did not come here to register valid concerns. They certainly did not need three weeks to pretend to try to do so, and the rhetoric that spewed from their leaders did not signal a desire for dialogue. They were trying to impose their views on the nation. They were fed up with mandates, vaccines and not being able to do whatever it is they wanted. They wanted to dictate. Some even wanted to govern.
Forget about the will of the people; it was the protesters own will they wanted to impose. That is not expressing freedom. It is also a grossly uneducated view of Canadian democracy and an extremely poor attempt at implementing a coup. Our rights to freedom of expression and assembly should not and must not include the oppression of another's.
I wonder if the protesters were equally fed up with the 35,000 Canadians who died as a direct result of COVID‑19 and its variants? Did those who are no longer with us die because of the common cold? Did they lose their lives because of the actions of draconian governments to stop the spread of the virus? It is disrespectful and nonsense.
This is what happens when some people are glued to Fox News and attend the university of social media. In fact, it was a Fox News commentator who went so far as to share disinformation about a protester getting hurt and dying, only to later delete the erroneous post but, by then, the damage had been done. I would like to commend the members of the Toronto Police Service's mounted unit for their professionalism, their work and the exemplary manner in which they conducted themselves. I commend all of the police services that came to Ottawa to assist in the restoration of peace and order.
Much will be said of the last three weeks and the targeted use of a portion of the Emergencies Act to peacefully end the occupation of our capital and to protect Canada's foreign trade link to our largest and strongest trading partner. People should remember that our country cannot live on beautiful scenery alone. We need good jobs. We need to protect the health of our people and the viability of our economy and our health care system.
Moreover, with every passing day, the protest was sending a signal globally that the rule of law in Canada was weak. It is not often that Canada makes the podcast on The Economist, never mind be the main topic of discussion, but we did. Instead of it being about our world-class arts and culture, our leading tech and innovation, and the many things that make our Canada, our country, great, it was about the protest. It was destroying our global reputation.
I would like now to focus my comments on what lies at the basis of what is being debated in this House, that being the rule of law. Unfortunately, I know a little of what it is like to be denied the rule of law. I also know what it is like to be judged by the court of public opinion, where facts are often cast aside as pesky annoyances.
To the issue at hand, does the limited implementation of certain provisions of the Emergencies Act deny Canada and Canadians the rule of law? Does the act remove one's charter rights? Are the police and the military going to start searching people's homes and arresting anyone they do not like? Will Canadians have all of their civil liberties stripped away at a moment's notice by a nefarious federal government? Of course not.
In listening to some of my colleagues, it would seem that the federal government is on the verge of a military dictatorship. I have heard stories from my parents and others who actually escaped oppression. I spent hours in Yad Vashem reading, listening and learning about the systemic horrors that were endured during the Holocaust. In Ottawa, I heard protesters draw parallels between their experience in the occupation and what different oppressed communities have endured, and some, sadly, still do. I implore people who continue to do that to please stop, because they are cheapening the suffering of those who have endured oppression and much worse.
The rule of law is just that: The law rules. It rules insofar as the same laws apply to everyone, regardless of their personal circumstances, their race, their orientation or anything else.
The definition of the rule of law employed by the United Nations is quite lengthy. The term refers to “a principle...in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.” Interestingly, the UN definition goes on to state, “It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency.”
The government's decision to implement certain targeted aspects of the Emergencies Act within a duration of just 30 days is certainly transparent and ensures adherence to the principles of the supremacy of the law. At no point does the implementation of the act remove the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the charter. At no point does the act usurp the powers of Parliament. At no point does the act impose some unconstitutional period of martial law.
In conclusion, what is being done with the temporary, targeted use of certain provisions of the Emergencies Act is to restore peace, order and good government through legitimate and constitutional measures to ensure that the people of Ottawa, the economy and the people of Canada are able to function without further unlawful interference and interruption.
Madam Speaker, right off the hop, I want to acknowledge that it is Family Day here in Saskatchewan, and I hope the residents of Battlefords—Lloydminster, despite the cold weather, are able to go out and enjoy some activities, since Saskatchewan has lifted almost all of its restrictions.
We know that the invocation of the Emergencies Act is not only unprecedented but also extreme. While the has declared a public order emergency throughout Canada to justify this, there is no evidence that there is a public emergency to necessitate these broad, sweeping powers. I have listened closely to the comments from the Prime Minister and his government in the House and what they have told Canadians. I have yet to hear a legitimate justification for the implementation of this act.
The reality is that our country is hurting right now, and it is disheartening. The current state of affairs is a direct consequence of the 's failed leadership. At a time when we need leadership to bring Canadians together, the Prime Minister is acting like the Liberal Party leader, not the Prime Minister of Canada.
At the very onset, before the “freedom convoy” even rolled into Ottawa, the publicly insulted Canadians and dismissed the genuine concerns being raised, doubling down on the division that his government's rhetoric and policies have sown into this country throughout the pandemic. Whether it be hubris or stubbornness, the Prime Minister has refused to make even the smallest of efforts to demonstrate to Canadians that he has listened to, heard and understood their concerns.
As we know, this past week, the Conservatives presented the Liberal government with an extremely reasonable opportunity to do just that. The House voted on a Conservative motion that would have compelled the government to table in Parliament, by the end of the month, a plan, just a plan, to bring an end to the federal mandates and restrictions. This was a very reasonable motion and, at the very least, would have helped to bring some resolution to the growing frustration. It would have also given all Canadians some clarity, which, quite frankly, they are owed. Shamefully, we know the Liberals rejected the motion.
What has been even more troubling is that the and his Liberal government have refused to tell Canadians what metrics are being used to justify the continued enforcement of federal mandates and restrictions. Is it vaccination rates? Is it case counts? Is it hospital capacity? Is it simply Liberal ideology? Canadians do not know.
Provinces across the country have presented plans to lift restrictions under their jurisdictions. Countries around the world with lower vaccination rates than those of Canada have lifted their restrictions. Canadians cannot be expected to live with federal mandates and restrictions indefinitely. We know this because I have heard from my constituents and I know every single member of the House has heard from constituents.
Canadians have sacrificed so much over the past two years and they deserve answers from the Liberal government. However, instead of answers or plans, the has invoked the Emergencies Act. What is it for? Is it to crack down on protesters and those who have supported protests? To be clear, the rule of law is a fundamental principle in our Canadian democracy. Law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to enforce the law and we expect them to do so, but we know that they do not need the Emergencies Act to enforce the law. This extreme suspension of civil liberties is not about public safety or restoring order or upholding the rule of law.
The Emergencies Act is clear in its definition of a national emergency that would give grounds for its implementation. The act defines a national emergency as an “urgent and critical situation” that “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada”. There is no such situation.
Even in his own words, the has said that the Emergencies Act should not be the first or the second resort. The start of the clearing of illegal blockades at our borders, whether it be the Ambassador Bridge or the Coutts, Alberta, crossing, perfectly demonstrates that law enforcement agencies already have the necessary tools at their disposal to enforce the law.
That said, this really becomes about the Prime Minister granting law enforcement and financial institutions extraordinary powers to punish Canadians who support a cause that does not have his approval. Through this proclamation of a national emergency, the government has given itself the right to freeze the personal and business back accounts and assets of Canadians. There are so many unanswered questions about this draconian measure and how the government intends to apply it. This is a very dangerous precedent. At every turn, the and his ministers have failed to give any straight answers. I have not seen justification for this overreach. This is not how the government should operate in a free and democratic society.
It is also evident that there is no consensus among the premiers to support the Liberal government's extreme response. We know there is a duty to consult built into this act, and we know that with the Liberal government, there is rarely, if ever, a collaborative process, let alone a transparent process.
The certainly does not have the support of Saskatchewan's premier. Premier Scott Moe has clearly stated that Saskatchewan does not support the Liberal government's invocation of the Emergencies Act. He has gone on to say that the Prime Minister has gone too far with the use of this act and has called on all parliamentarians to stop this abuse of power.
Premier Scott Moe has been very vocal in his opposition to the use of this act, but he is not alone. The Premiers of Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. have all expressed their opposition to the 's actions. Therefore, in addition to encroaching on civil liberties without clear justification, the implementation of the Emergencies Act is also encroaching on provincial jurisdiction without their expressed consensus, which seems to be a trend for the government. It does not seem to care about what jurisdiction it is encroaching on. Again, this debate is not to be taken lightly. This is a matter of principle with the very high stakes of safeguarding our fundamental freedoms.
It is also worth noting that it is clear the world is watching Canada at this moment. In considering the validity of the government's action, members of the House must decide whether the high threshold set out in the Emergencies Act to justify its use has been met. If the House gives the these unprecedented and extreme powers without the legal and moral justification to do so, Canada loses credibility on the world stage to criticize abuses of power.
I want each and every member of the House to think which side of history they want to be on. The actions of this place have long-lasting consequences. Either the threshold needed to implement the Emergencies Act has been met or it has not. Any doubt in that threshold should be enough to warrant opposition to it, because the personal cost to Canadians and to our fundamental freedoms is too high to get it wrong.
I will not be supporting this motion. I do not believe that the necessary threshold has been met to justify the use of the Emergencies Act. The government has not provided sufficient evidence that we are in a national emergency. There is no proof that law enforcement agencies need additional and far-reaching powers to enforce the law. Canadians should not face harmful financial penalties for opposing government policy.
We cannot sidestep the simple fact that this really is a crisis of failed leadership. There has been no effort made by the to bring a peaceful resolution to this impasse. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The Prime Minister has been purposeful in his words to divide, to stigmatize and to insult Canadians with whom he does not agree.
It is time to reject the 's divisive politics and abuse of power. The Emergencies Act must be revoked and we need to—
Madam Speaker, the House of Commons has been called upon many times to pronounce its judgment and to vote: to vote on legislation, to vote on amendments, to vote on estimates and to vote on motions. In the parlance of parliamentary procedure, when the House of Commons votes, it divides. When a recorded vote is requested and we are asked to stand and be counted, it is called “a recorded division”. There are times in this House when votes are decided “on division” without a roll call. At Westminster, recorded divisions are conducted through “division lobbies”.
The House “dividing” is not new. The House has been dividing on subjects great and small since the first session of the first Parliament, on November 6, 1867. We have been dividing for nearly 155 years. This is what we do. This is what we are sent here to do, to serve on behalf of our constituents and on behalf of the people of Canada. We make decisions on behalf of the people we serve. We vote yea or we vote nay. There is no grey zone in between. There are no asterisks appended to our votes. There are few explanations as to why or how or for what reasons we came to a decision on any particular matter.
At 7:30 p.m. this evening, the division bells will ring, and the House of Commons will be called upon at 8:00 p.m. to divide on the matter of whether to confirm the government’s declaration of a public order emergency pursuant to the Emergencies Act. Forever in Hansard and in Journals, our names will be listed as having divided one way or the other on this very motion before us today.
Divisions in this House are normal. Divisions in opinions, thoughts and ideas are normal. Different views represented in this place and elsewhere are normal and are signs of a healthy democracy. What is not healthy are the divisions in our country and the divisions in our communities. In recent weeks and months, I have never seen such division in our country, such anger and frustration. We are one country, but we are a country that sadly has grown more divided.
Each of us can play a role in reducing this division, but it requires work. It requires us to refrain from throwing more fuel on the proverbial fire and to listen to one another rather than talking past each other.
Let me be clear. I will be voting against the use of the Emergencies Act. However, my vote is far more than a simple nay. It is more than a monosyllabic answer, and it requires more than a 140-character tweet of an explanation. It is possible to add some grey to a black and white explanation.
In Canada, it is possible to disagree with, to condemn and to call for the removal of illegal blockades, while also suggesting that the government use measures short of the Emergencies Act to achieve that. As Canadians, we can call for and reinforce the need to be a country of law and order, while also arguing that the tools of the Emergencies Act are an overreach. We can and we must call out and condemn those who would use anti-democratic and nonsensical MOUs that call for the overthrow of a democratic government, while at the same time listening to the concerns of individual Canadians, business owners, truck drivers and entrepreneurs who are concerned about how rules have impacted their businesses, livelihoods and families. We can and we must call for the peaceful resolution of situations, while at the same time disagreeing with efforts to debank or freeze the assets of Canadian citizens.
The question that confronts us today is whether this act and the provisions included in the order in council are appropriate at this time and in these circumstances.
On October 16, 1970, the House of Commons convened to debate the declaration of the War Measures Act by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Of the speeches given that day, none was as clear as the clarion call of the gentleman from Prince Albert, the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker. In this House, at that time, he said, “Mr. Speaker, this is one of those occasions when Parliament has the opportunity of dealing with the question of freedom which, above everything else, is the mandate of Parliament and the reason that Parliament exists.” Today, 52 years later, Parliament is called upon once again to deal with the question of freedom.
When the government places limits on the rights, freedoms and privileges of Canadians, it is the government, and the government alone, that must justify it. It is the government that must show to Canadians that the limitations are reasonable. Indeed, the Emergencies Act itself requires it.
The Hon. Perrin Beatty served as Minister of National Defence in 1987 when he introduced Bill C-77, An Act to authorize the taking of special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof, the short title being the Emergencies Act. Mr. Beatty, I might add, was the member of Parliament for parts of Wellington County that are now within my riding of Perth—Wellington.
In an interview last week with The Wellington Advertiser, Mr. Beatty was asked whether the act was being used appropriately:
Without being privy to government intelligence, he said flatly, “I don’t have enough information.”
“All of us are inclined to give [the government] the benefit of the doubt,” he added, saying the onus falls on the government to prove its case.
Beatty did, however, point out blockades afflicting Canada’s trade routes were resolved without reliance on the Emergencies Act, which was intended to be used “when everything else had failed.”
This is a good point to emphasize. The blockades at the Ambassador Bridge and the Coutts border crossing were all resolved with police enforcement rather than relying on the Emergencies Act.
There have been arguments that law enforcement used different measures that were granted to it through the Emergencies Act, but that is not the question that faces us. The question that faces us is whether other measures were available short of the Emergencies Act.
In an interview on Sunday with CTV's Question Period, no less an authority than the former commissioner of Ontario Provincial Police confirmed that he saw no need for the Emergencies Act to undertake the actions that were taken in downtown Ottawa. He said, “It was a lack of bodies, a lack of officers to do what we saw done yesterday. This could have happened [on] day two or three if they could have amassed the number of officers they had.”
In fact, section 21 of the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act already provides for the provision of emergency police services from any province or from the federal government, so when the government says that the Emergencies Act was not the first or the second step, the question hangs in the air of why this act was not used before the sledgehammer of the Emergencies Act.
Others have suggested that this act was needed to compel tow trucks to assist in removing the trucks in downtown Ottawa, but again, there are other provisions that could have achieved this. Paragraph 129(b) of the Criminal Code gives police the option to require anyone, “without reasonable excuse, to assist a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty in arresting a person or in preserving the peace”.
Frankly, it would appear that the only tools employed by the government that were not previously afforded to it were the financial powers, and these are the powers that have concerned so many people. Being debanked, even for a period of 30 days, could have serious impacts on an individual, and not just for 30 days but for 30 years to come. That the government is actually considering making some of these tools permanent is even more concerning for all Canadians. When temporary powers become permanent powers, the concern for all Canadians is great.
I will conclude with the words of former prime minister John Diefenbaker: “Parliament is more than procedure; it is the custodian of the nation’s freedom.” May we all live up to that duty today.
Madam Speaker, as you know it is a common practice here in Parliament to thank one's constituents when one rises to speak for the first time after an election. There is obviously a good reason for doing that, beyond one having good manners. It acknowledges the most important truth about this place, which is that the people who live in our ridings are the reason why we are here, whether they voted for us or for someone else, and even if they did not vote at all. This is the House of Commons, and it belongs to the people.
I would like to once again thank the constituents of Cypress Hills—Grasslands for sending me here as their representative. It is a great privilege to stand here today on their behalf. I must speak for them and for their families. I will always try my best to do so.
It always takes time and effort to hear from different people, to reach out to them and figure out what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we disagree and that is okay, but this task is absolutely worth it no matter what. If I disagree with constituents, that should not prevent me from honouring them with courtesy, dignity and respect as people and as fellow Canadians. In fact, it is when we are challenged with competing thoughts and ideologies that we often make the best decisions for our constituents and our country.
As a song from my youth says, “not a diamond without the pressure”. That is what it means to be a member of Parliament. Everyone has a role in the democratic process, but elected representatives have a duty to make an extra effort. A beautiful part of our parliamentary system is that the same people who serve as the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers are also just members of Parliament.
For example, the current was elected as a member for Papineau and the leader of the official opposition was elected as the member for . On either side of the House they have to work in both roles at the same time. It remains true that, before assuming public office in government, someone was first elected by the people of their riding to be their voice in Ottawa. That is their primary role. As ministers, they have simply added another responsibility to serve the entire nation regardless of representation, but it should never change the fact that they are working here to represent the people of Canada to the government and not the other way around.
If they ever forget it and become disconnected, they have completely lost their way, and I do believe that recent events so far show that we are losing our way as a nation. This point should be front of mind, as we debate and vote on the government's emergency order. We have a perfect opportunity to remind the minority government that it should not be playing around with power. It should not be using the Emergencies Act to forsake their public responsibility. The Liberals need to come back down to earth.
On Friday, with police action expected to begin here in Ottawa, the scheduled debate of the House of Commons was cancelled with short notice. I decided to go for a walk and look around the scene outside of Parliament for myself to get a sense of the situation at hand. As I did, I met a man who was proudly wearing military medals on his coat, a veteran who had served our country overseas in Afghanistan. He told me that he made the long journey across Canada to be here because he is worried about the country that he loves, the country that he served, and he wants to stand for freedom. I thanked him for his service.
I also talked to a school teacher who lives downtown, and she did not feel threatened at all as she walked near the front of the protests. She talked about how she used to be a big supporter of the , but can no longer support him because of his arrogance and lack of respect for other Canadians.
What I saw and heard from these individuals was far from what the infamously called a “small fringe minority” with “unacceptable views”. The disconnect is more obvious than ever, and it brought out some of the disturbing scenes in our nation's capital over the weekend after the Liberals invoked the Emergencies Act. The government's show of force has wounded our society and this is likely to be the longest lasting result of it.
It is an outrage to see our invoke hateful rhetoric against those concerned for their freedoms, calling them a “fringe minority” and choosing to label them as “racist” and “misogynistic”. Especially in difficult times, we need a Prime Minister who will put partisan politics aside for the common good. After all, the Prime Minister represents every Canadian. Every Canadian is one of his constituents.
For name-calling to be the first and only action taken by the government before using the Emergency Measures Act further shows the lack of respect he has for people who do not agree with him. There are many Canadians, vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, who recognize that Canadians should have the right to make medical decisions for themselves. After all, it is a change in the government's position on the vaccine exemption for truckers that has triggered all of this.
Canadians should not have to face the question of taking a vaccine or losing their job. They should not be sent home from stores because they have not been vaccinated. They should not have to face a financial penalty simply because they are not vaccinated. Children should not be banned from playing sports because they are not vaccinated. No Canadian should have to face such dehumanizing treatment for simply choosing not to get vaccinated.
That is not the Canada I grew up in, and that is not the Canada our children should grow up in either.
This past December, I rose in the House on behalf of all those who have lost their jobs and their livelihoods as a result of vaccine mandates. Following that statement, I received hundreds of emails from Canadians all across the country sharing their personal stories, many of them devastating. I heard from those who have lost their home because they no longer have a job or an income to pay the mortgage. I heard from others who have had to explain to their children that they could no longer join their friends at the hockey tournament. I heard from students who were kicked out of their university programs. More devastatingly, I have heard from parents who have lost a child to suicide and attribute the cause to lockdowns, mandates and bullying.
These people live in Liberal ridings as much as they live in mine, but does the government bother listening to them? It is not enough for the to simply say he heard them in an empty statement while clearing the streets.
Vaccine mandates are wrong. They are morally wrong, and it is increasingly clear that they are a public policy failure. They are ruining livelihoods, clogging supply chains, stifling our economy, eroding medical privacy and dividing society, all the while not living up to the earlier promises of defeating COVID.
Why continue to act like they are a magic bullet out of the pandemic? Why continue to trample on protesters and Canadians' rights with little to show for it? When will the government finally take responsibility for their divisive policies, walk back their vaccine mandates and actually consider a comprehensive plan to combat COVID-19, including access to therapeutics and increasing funding to provinces so they can ramp up ICU capacity.
I will also add that I believe an apology is needed, an apology for treating those who are unwilling to get vaccinated or peaceful protesters as second-class citizens. They are not second-class citizens. They are as Canadian as we are, and they are worthy of respect, dignity and a listening ear.
I also want to encourage NDP members to vote against the motion. Each time the War Measures Act was used, the previous version of the legislation, it left behind wounds in our society after enabling real or perceived abuses of power. This is already turning out the same way. I do not expect to quote Tommy Douglas all the time, but I believe his precedent is worth considering. He described former prime minister Trudeau's use of the War Measures Act in Quebec as “using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut”. He stood on principle by voting against the grain at the time.
There have been some misgivings in the NDP caucus about opening Pandora's box, but they say they want to fix it somehow with an inquiry after the fact. One of their former caucus colleagues, who served as the former member for Regina—Lewvan, even used the same quote from Tommy Douglas to challenge the current NDP's stated intention to support Liberal overreach.
I hope they will listen to their own people, even if they are from my province. Over the many hours of debate that I have sat in on, I have only heard a handful of Liberals even try to outline a reason for invoking the act, and it is a stretch at best. Some have tried to use the blockades around the country as the reason. Unfortunately for the Liberals, they were all mostly cleared prior to invoking the act. Another tried to say they needed to compel tow truck companies to move some of the semis and vehicles. Once again, they were found to be wrong, as my colleagues from and from have already pointed to existing laws that provide that ability.
The last reason they gave was to stop the foreign funding of the “freedom convoy”. This does not constitute a national emergency. Unfortunately for the Liberals, yet again, a couple million dollars donated to a crowdfunding campaign were halted without the use of the Emergencies Act.
We have witnessed over a billion dollars in foreign funding come into Canada over the last number of years to intimidate workers in the energy sector, lead misinformation campaigns and stop pipeline projects and resource developments, and there was not a word of concern from the federal government or the NDP for that matter.
The effects of this reached new levels this past week when axe-wielding protesters injured an officer and destroyed heavy machinery and buildings on-site in B.C. and still, not a word of concern. Is it because they support that protest, or is it because they know that, if all this foreign money were to be investigated, their friends and supporters might be implicated? If they are going to use this flimsy narrative of foreign funding, then they better be consistent in their approach to it.
If nothing else, after all that has been happening in Ottawa, I hope that we can learn the correct lessons. Let us listen better to Canadians, and let us keep the Liberal government in check.
Madam Speaker, I join this debate with great sadness and disappointment in my heart this morning. Please make no mistake: It is always an honour to be the voice of the residents and citizens of Chatham-Kent—Leamington in this chamber, but I am sad because of the toll that the current situation continues to have on Canadians and the fact that so much of this is unnecessary and avoidable.
The fundamental question that the government has put before us today is this: Do we believe that the public emergency act is the right tool for right now? Has the rightfully high threshold for a public order emergency been met? If the question is how we remove the protest, the blockade, the occupation that was encamped outside these doors, then should the question not be to ask what enforcement tools current legislation lacks to address the illegal activities outside this House?
Let me be clear: Illegally parking a semi, excessively blowing horns and harassment all contravene bylaws, but these violations are subject to fines, towing, injunctions and existing remedies under existing laws, provincially and municipally, and under existing law enforcement. They can be reinforced with help from federal police forces without invoking this act. After all, is that not what cleared the illegal blockades in Surrey, Windsor, Emerson and Coutts? I am very thankful for law enforcement intercepting truly dangerous elements caught with illegal guns and ammunition near Coutts. Therefore, I thank our “un-defunded” police forces.
Does a basic interpretation of the Emergencies Act determine that its threshold for invocation has been met, or are we more concerned that we are being asked to give the great powers, given his history of deception and his disrespect for the law?
The asks us to trust him, to give him unlimited authority to implement “other temporary measures authorized under section 19 of the Emergencies Act that are not yet known.” He is the only Prime Minister convicted for ethics violations, not once but twice, and he avoided a third conviction due to lack of evidence, not lack of intent. He is the only Prime Minister ever to sue, Madam Speaker, your office, to keep from this very House documents ordered released by Parliament with respect to the Winnipeg virology lab. He now asks that we trust him with power never before invoked or confirmed by this House under this act. It seems that when faced with difficult situations, the Prime Minister's go-to response is to grab as much power as he can.
Let us just think back to immediately after the declaration of the pandemic in March 2020. The responded by attempting to give the government unlimited, unfettered taxing and spending powers without parliamentary oversight. His instinct was not to come to this House and enter into dialogue to determine the path forward. Yes, Her Majesty's loyal opposition sits on this side of the chamber and might not have immediately agreed to every point put forward, but he was forced into dialogue and debate with us and we demonstrated through our subsequent actions that we would support emergency measures when properly engaged.
Similarly, the did not engage in dialogue with Canadians involved with this protest. He does not have to agree with them but he does, or he should, have to listen. This very process of listening and engaging de-escalates any situation. It is the hallmark characteristic of leadership. Name-calling, dividing, stigmatizing, traumatizing and grabbing for power escalate any situation. They are hallmark characteristics of what? Members can fill in the blank.
If the question is how the tries to cover up his record of governing mistakes and whether this attempt to redirect public attention will work, clearly the answer is no. Inflation will not be reduced. Our debt will not be addressed. Interest rate rises will not be blunted. Immigration backlogs will not be addressed. Labour shortages will not be alleviated. Housing prices will not drop, and budgets will not balance themselves.
If the question is how invoking this Emergencies Act fits into the government's overall plan to get us from a pandemic to an endemic situation, again, for this question, there is a very clear answer. No, it does not do that, because there continues to be no plan.
History will show that we got into this crisis, this situation in our nation’s capital, because the government did not have a plan to transition from a pandemic to an endemic situation. The government’s lack of a plan by which businesses in Chatham—Kent—Leamington or anywhere in the country could more predictably manage their staff, their business and their investment decisions continues to cause unnecessary hardship and failure. The failures are not theirs; it is the government’s problem, the government's failure to plan and its lunging from problem to problem with no coherent plan that could better multiply our effectiveness through our collective capacity.
Farmers, greenhouse operators and small businesses in my riding and across Canada continue to live with the uncertainty of labour supply, border access and supply chains. They want to see a plan. Our health care system wants to see a plan for surge capacity. It is not the bricks and mortar that are missing; it is the human resources and the people for whom the government did not plan to resource.
The government’s lack of a plan is evident in the fact that we are so late in acquiring sufficient rapid tests; we are so late in developing domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity, and we are so late in coordinating coherent, integrated, science-based messaging, from our health care leaders to our political leaders.
It has been more than two years since the pandemic came to Canada, and we still have no plan for living in an endemic state. Canadians did what was asked of them. They got vaccinated, they stayed home, they safely distanced and they agreed to forgo family gatherings, travel and basic but essential human contact, all to do their part. What has been the reward for the constituents of Chatham—Kent—Leamington, or for any Canadians, for what they did? It is more divisiveness, greater stress, more lost jobs, out of control inflation, economic uncertainty and still no plan.
Like all of us here, I have friends on both sides of the challenge before us. Something has happened in our country that may never be replaced. The capacity for kindness that Canadians are known for has been strained by our nation’s leader, who has used the politics of division rather than co-operation and understanding. There is a sadness that comes when Canadians are pitted against Canadians.
There is more than enough blame to go around. Was the City of Ottawa woefully unprepared and did it make serious mistakes at the beginning of this situation, despite the many days of notice that the convoy was coming? Many people would say, “Yes.” Was the province slow to table resources? Again, many people would say, “Yes,” but here, in the centrepiece of our nation's capital, the question before us today is twofold.
The first question is, where is the plan forward? Even when the crisis outside these walls is resolved, we will simply return to this question and the need for an endemic plan to return to normalcy. The second question is the legislation before us today. Simple common sense tells us that if we take the total of what the expects the Emergencies Act to bring and subtract from it what is already covered under existing laws and resources, then I respectfully submit that the difference we are left with pales in comparison to the constitutional precedent we are asking the House to confirm.
I must vote against these measures. The Emergencies Act is not a substitute for leadership, but rather a consequence of the lack of it. The loves telling Canadians he has our backs. He uses the approach of trying to hide behind us while pointing at those he believes are to blame. Leading cannot be done from behind. Leading means engaging in conversation, even with those with whom one disagrees. The only good thing that may come from enacting this act is that there will be an inquiry, an accountability review, which will no doubt expose and document for history that when Canada was at one of its greatest challenges, the response from the government was a grab for power through the tactics of division and the lack of any plan forward.
Let us get on with responsible endemic living. Canadians have done their job; now let us do ours.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for .
I rise today to speak on this important motion. The decision to invoke the Emergencies Act is being taken with much consideration. This debate is crucial and necessary.
For weeks now, the unlawful occupation and illegal blockades have disrupted the lives of Canadians, harmed our economy and endangered public safety. We have witnessed intimidation in our communities and at our borders.
The Emergencies Act has been invoked to supplement federal, provincial, territorial and municipal authorities to address and resolve these issues. The impacts of these blockades are significant. Over three weeks, they caused serious harm to our economy, our livelihoods and our way of life. They threatened our democracy and marred Canada's international reputation. These measures are being implemented in part to halt the illegal actions of those whose intention is to overthrow our democratically elected government, and to stand up to those who wish to extort change by intimidation.
The measures implemented in the Emergencies Act are not broad or overreaching. They are specific and targeted. They are not permanent. They are temporary, and set for 30 days or less. They are not heavy-handed. They are proportionate. The level of proportionate response is dictated by co-operating levels of law enforcement, not the government.
These short-term measures have allowed law enforcement at all levels of the government to work in ways they could not have previously. The Emergencies Act spells out a clear process that must be followed once the act is invoked. The specific measures of the act are subject to numerous checks and safeguards, including the oversight of a parliamentary committee.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is enshrined in this act. By invoking the act, a public review will automatically be triggered. The review ensures transparency and oversight. I have heard from some who have concerns that invoking this act will set a precedent. I am confident the criteria to invoke the act have been met.
The precedent I will not stand for is to give in to lawless occupations and blockades by those who demand that governments negotiate with them or be undemocratically replaced.
All actions under the act will comply with our charter. That requirement is built into the legislation. Canadians expect us to act within the bounds of the charter, and we will live up to these expectations. Despite the misguided efforts of a few, our democracy remains strong. However, we cannot be lulled into a sense of complacency.
Attempted blockades have persisted. Because of the act, additional attempts have been thwarted. These are new powers we used as recently as a few days ago to prevent the resurrection of a border blockade. This problem is clearly national, and it is still a threat.
The unfortunate radical populism that fuels people to block supply chains and disrupt daily lives has not gone away. The pattern of rhetoric that can be linked to far-right extremism is well documented. We must not minimalize the reality of this threat.
What has emerged is an entrenched, organized movement that is being motivated by toxic ideology. These are groups that do not believe in the legitimacy of the government. They knew where to hit Canadians: our borders, supply chains and communities. The Emergencies Act leveraged tools to end these disruptions and prevent future ones.
The act has allowed law enforcement to restrict access to Ottawa's downtown core. By creating a secure zone, authorities were able to stop an influx of more people in vehicles, preventing them from becoming entrenched in the capital.
It is important not to confuse illegal blockades and occupations with legal protest. Canadians can continue to teach their children about the democratic right to assemble peacefully and legally. It is an important part of sharing our values.
This is different. Let there be no mistake: bouncy castles, toboggans and hot chocolate do not make an illegal protest a safe place for children. This was a dangerous situation, yet parents continued to bring their kids to the front line of these unsafe scenes. This act seeks to protect children, such as those who have been used right outside these doors as human shields for the adults who were supposed to keep them out of harm's way.
The Emergencies Act prohibits parents from bringing children under the age of 18 to an illegal occupation. It does not prohibit children from attending peaceful and legal protests with their families.
Recent events here in Ottawa and at multiple border crossings demonstrated that the ordinary mechanisms in place at multiple levels of jurisdiction were not sufficient. The subsequent inquiry that is mandated will help uncover the reasons why other measures were not effective. These measures that were enacted are already working, and we are already seeing results.
We are restoring the rights and freedoms of those who have been deeply affected: the rights of citizens to safely walk the streets, the rights of workers to earn a living, the rights of businesses to stay open and serve customers, and the rights of people and goods to move freely across international borders.
The debate we are having now, and the review process that will follow, will allow us, in a transparent and democratic way, to strengthen the gaps that allowed this situation to happen. This will ensure that we learn and adapt so we will not have to mobilize the Emergencies Act in the future for the same reason. In that way, the Emergencies Act is a self-correcting piece of legislation.
These measures have not been enacted because of the ideology of the people protesting. That is not the case. This act was invoked to put an end to illegal blockades and unlawful occupations. The city of Ottawa is recovering. Businesses are starting to open, and people are starting to get back to their lives. I believe that crisis reveals character, and I am certain Canadians have the capacity to heal the damages done with dialogue, compassion and respect.
I want to commend the professionalism, and controlled and proportionate response, of the law enforcement officials of jurisdiction over the past few days. I also want to commend journalists and reporters for the important role they played throughout the crisis. Their work, in very difficult circumstances, has been remarkable. The violence and harassment they were exposed to is unacceptable. We need to stand together, all of us in the House, and condemn the hate speech and harassment that we are seeing. Doing or saying nothing about the attempts to intimidate journalists is the same as supporting what is being done to them. Not condemning it is condoning it. I ask my colleagues to consider that as they see members of the media being threatened by angry mobs.
I would like to address my constituents, the residents of Kitchener—Conestoga, and thank them for taking the time to reach out to me. There has been a diverse range of sentiments, and I have listened to their views very carefully. The conversations, the emails and the messages I received all weigh into this decision. I was elected to be the member of Parliament for all constituents in my riding, not just those who share my views. I understand and I take seriously my obligation to hear everyone's views and to listen. I strive to respect and value the opinions of others.
The impacts of the border blockades have been felt in our riding, as people were laid off at local plants. Toyota, one of the largest employers, was idle, which impacted many families in our community. People I spoke with at local feed mills and other businesses in Kitchener—Conestoga said they were not able to get goods across the border. I send a big thanks to the truckers and trucking companies in my riding who kept going despite those blockades.
I understand the magnitude of this vote. The research I have done, the briefings I have attended, the debates I have been part of in the House and the conversations I have had with constituents have brought me to this moment, which is not an easy one. However, I did not become a member of Parliament to do the easy things. I became a member of Parliament to do the right things. Invoking the Emergencies Act is the right thing.
Madam Speaker, thank you, meegwetch
I was elected the member for Nickel Belt in 2015 and I am proud to represent my constituents for the third time and to improve the living conditions in my community.
I would never have believed I would be giving a speech in the House of Commons on the invocation of the Emergencies Act. Yet that is the case today.
I returned to Ottawa on January 31 for the House of Commons session and I have seen the events first-hand. Many lives, livelihoods and businesses in Ottawa have been impacted in a very negative way. The right to protest is fundamental. I saw and supported the right to protest with the rolling truck convoy in my riding that rolled through Highway 17 on January 28, driving toward Ottawa. However, it was different when the truck convoy parked and camped on the city streets of Ottawa. This became illegal. Also, when we see a movement propped up by hate, racism and intimidation, we have to ask ourselves what we are truly supporting. Let us be clear: Many people demonstrating were doing this peacefully. However, this became an illegal occupation and it needed to end.
I am wishing my colleagues, the residents of Ottawa and all involved parties a safe and peaceful transition as the city is getting back to the residents. This agreement should not incite violence or threats. We are more Canadian than that.
Political criticism is at an all-time high. I commend all my colleagues, federal staff and my constituency staff for remaining at the public service even through these most difficult moments. I want to thank Nickel Belt constituents with different opinions for voicing their points of view in a respectful way. There are over 91,000 voices to represent in Nickel Belt, and we may not all agree, but we most certainly all wish for a healthier, more united and stronger region.
I am grateful to be in Ottawa to represent the residents of Nickel Belt and will continue to advocate for their priorities and strive to deliver solutions. It has been a long two years. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic in some way. There is so much misinformation circling and different opinions being shared, but there is a lot that is positive. We need to reach out to people in need in each of our communities.
I will give a special thanks to my exceptional constituency office staff. Despite the vulgar and intimidating tactics and threats in the office, my team remains committing to helping. Here are a few examples. They are helping Mary, a senior, with OAS and GIS benefits; Evelyn, with affordable housing; Helen, a single mom, with the Canada child benefit; and John, with a disability pension application. There are many more.
The pandemic has not been easy for anybody. It has altered the course of normal life for almost two years. People have a right to be fed up, tired and frustrated.
The Emergencies Act is difficult. Being in government is difficult, because we are called upon to make decisions about the health and safety of Canadians. Over the past three weeks, illegal blockades have disrupted Canadians' lives and jeopardized public safety. Clearly, the local police forces have struggled to enforce the law effectively.
We invoked the Emergencies Act in order to help provincial authorities deal with the blockades and the occupation and to keep Canadians safe, protect jobs and restore confidence in our institutions.
Through the Emergencies Act, we are granting police officers new powers to control crowds, stop blockades and keep essential corridors open. The Emergencies Act allows the government to mobilize essential services, such as tow trucks, enables the RCMP to act more quickly to enforce local laws and strengthens our ability to stop foreign money from being used for illegal purposes.
Our government cannot allow disruptions to carry on forever. Our government will always respect Canadians' right to protest. However, this does not entitle people to occupy streets, break the law or shut down essential trade corridors.
This siege and the blockades are crippling our economy and our democracy. The specific measures set out by the act are limited, subject to many controls, and must comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A parliamentary review committee will be established in the next few days to review the exercise of power during the state of emergency. These measures will be limited in time, geographically targeted, reasonable and proportionate to the threats they are meant to address.
Another important point for the people in Nickel Belt: the Emergencies Act also includes a number of significant limitations, checks and balances and guarantees. The Act also provides for a public inquiry to be held before the end of the first year.
Ottawa's interim police chief, in addition to Vernon White, the former Ottawa chief of police who was appointed to the Senate by former prime minister Stephen Harper, and Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford all clearly stated that adopting the emergency measures was important and essential. They also said that those measures were necessary to allow for the coordination of municipal and provincial police forces and the RCMP to keep people safe and enforce the law.
According to Michael Kempa, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, it is obvious that order would not have been restored without the Emergencies Act. The act is crucial because it prompted protesters to leave and outlined serious consequences.
To my constituents of Nickel Belt, I appreciate why the criticism comes my way. I signed up to be their MP, their voice in Ottawa, and although we may disagree sometimes, I do appreciate each of them for reaching out. I see all the correspondence that comes to my office, with lots of varied opinions on all sides. These next few weeks will be difficult and people might feel let down. We all need to listen better.
I thank each person who has reached out to someone in need. I thank our frontline workers. I thank our law enforcement, police officers, the Greater Sudbury police officers who came to Ottawa, as many others did from across the country, the RCMP, OPP officers and local authorities for keeping Canadians safe and helping democracy move forward. The restraint these people, these men and women, have shown in the past few weeks in Ottawa has been remarkable.
I hear from my constituents that some people want mandates to continue for a little while longer because they still have concerns and want a safe, balanced approach to reopening fully. They support the government's decision. Some people do not agree with the federal government's or provincial government's position on mandates. Some support the truck convoy and denounce those who try to weaponize this movement.
All I know is that we must stick to our Canadian values and democratic process, where we value respect, denounce intimidation and choose to collaborate. MPs are the voices of Canadians, and I am as committed as ever to each of my constituents. I have kept a grassroots approach when engaging with Nickel Belt constituents, and continue to meet with individuals with varying opinions on topics while seeking to preserve the safety and health of our community. We need to grow the region. We need to do this together.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
Canadians across the country are gravely concerned. The is invoking the Emergencies Act for a crisis that he created. He is attempting to use a tool at the government's disposal that was created with the intention of rarely if ever being used. The Prime Minister is using this last resort tool to clean up a crisis of his own creation.
The Emergency Measures Act gives extraordinary powers to government, powers that should only be used when every other effort has been exhausted. Enacting these measures should not be the first or the second thing the Liberal government does to resolve a crisis. We have not seen any action by the to avoid jumping to this extreme measure.
As a former police chief, I have had enough thorough experience in dealing with crisis situations and the de-escalation of such crises. The first step in de-escalation is not to bring in a sledgehammer. The could not even take the first step everyone should use in de-escalation. That step would be listening. The Prime Minister refused to meet with the protesters to listen to their concerns. These are his fellow Canadian citizens, whether he agrees with their opinions or not. He is the Prime Minister of Canada and a good leader listens to his fellow countrymen.
The Emergencies Act specifically states part of the criteria for enactment is that all other measures have been exhausted in attempting to resolve the crisis. How can we possibly vote in favour of this act when the has not even attempted to use the most basic measure of resolving any crisis. Instead, the Prime Minister has inflamed the situation, almost as if he wanted to get to this point. It is quite evident the Prime Minister is not capable of first steps in any crisis he faces. It is in his ideological identity to squash anyone who does not agree with him and unfortunately Canadians from all walks of life know this all too well.
Earlier this week my Conservative colleagues proposed a possible step to end the crisis. We proposed the government provide Canadians with its plan for ending the various federal COVID-19-related mandates and restrictions. This is an example of one of the many actions that was available to the government before deciding on this drastic measure. Providing Canadians with an end plan is not a controversial decision. Many of the provincial governments have already done the same. Many Canadians including many participating in the various protests would have welcomed this action as a sign the government is hearing the wishes of Canadians or some direction or evidence of an end plan. Instead, the government jumped to ignore this measured action and is all too eager to get to this extreme point that we see ourselves in today.
While the has failed to present enough evidence to support the use of the act, I can think of numerous examples when this country has faced a crisis and managed to come out of it without implementing the act. Just last week we saw these protests at several Canadian-U.S. border crossings. These protests created grave economic consequences for the country, including my riding of Oxford. As Oxford has strong ties to the automotive manufacturing section, I had a first-hand account of the consequences of the protest in Windsor. Many automotive manufacturing plants had to slow down or completely shut off production.
My office received numerous messages from constituents who were being laid off due to these shutdowns. The Windsor border blockade was a crisis for many of my constituents. What did not cross my mind or theirs was that the Emergencies Act would need to be invoked to solve the crisis, and in fact it was not. We saw officers peacefully remove the blockades to allow the border to reopen. They did this without the use of the Emergencies Act.
A similar situation occurred in Coutts, Alberta. Again, RCMP officers were able to clear the blockade without any tools from the Emergencies Act. There have been numerous examples throughout Canadian history when a crisis such as this one, or I may say worse than this one, have arose, many of them being of a much more dangerous nature than the current situation.
Another that comes to mind is the crisis we all saw with 2010 G20 riots in Toronto. Some members of the government would be very familiar with this crisis, the especially as he was the Toronto police chief at the time. Maybe some forget what we saw during that crisis. We saw a bank just down the street from parliament being firebombed. We saw police cars in flames in downtown Toronto. We saw hundreds of businesses damaged by protesters. The Emergencies Act was available to our government at the time. It was not used in that crisis. Why? It did not meet the criteria outlined in the Emergencies Act.
Flaming vehicles and destroyed businesses are what the , the acting Toronto police chief, was facing at the time. If flaming banks and police cars do not constitute a reason for using the Emergencies Act, I find it very hard to see how road hockey games and bouncy castles do. The Minister of Emergency Preparedness knows very well that the police officers we have here have all the tools necessary to defuse this situation if needed. The Emergencies Act was not needed in Windsor and Coutts, Alberta.
Instead, the said he was proud to invoke this act. I find it extremely disappointing to hear this coming from a fellow former police chief. No one in this House should be proud to use this act. However, it seems the is all too eager to use it.
Another similar crisis, again during the ’s time as police chief, occurred a year before the G20 summit. In 2009, we saw many Tamil Canadians upset with what they were seeing happening in the Sri Lankan civil war. Canadians shut down northbound and southbound lanes of University Avenue in Toronto for four days. They blocked the U.S. consulate in Toronto and illegally blocked traffic on the Gardiner Expressway. Again, it was not necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act. In fact, use of force by police officers was not necessary. The Toronto police chief, the current Minister of Emergency Preparedness, used his training in community policing to help facilitate a peaceful end to the crisis. The police chief even received an award from the Tamil Canadian community for his leadership during the protests.
Again, I fail to see why the government sees it necessary to invoke the Emergencies Act now when it was not necessary in 2010 or even last week. Why were we able to see those crises resolved without such extreme measures? We have several precedents for why this Emergencies Act should not be invoked and we have no reasons for why it should be, yet here we are in this debate.
Let us talk about a time when the government had to react to a similar crisis. It was during the October crisis in 1970. While the War Measures Act was a different act, it did possess many similarities to the one being used today. It is important to compare the crisis of that time to what we are seeing now. In the lead-up to the October crisis, we saw a terrorist organization robbing and bombing several institutions in Quebec. That crisis reached a climax with several kidnappings and the eventual horrendous murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte.
That was the context of the last time a Canadian government used such drastic actions to restore order. It does not take much effort to realize that while we may be experiencing a crisis of our own, it pales in comparison to what the government of the day faced the last time an emergency act was implemented.
Invoking the Emergencies Act now, for the purpose of trying to cover up the mismanagement and poor leadership of the Liberal government, would be creating a dangerous precedent for any future crisis the government may face. What is to stop the government from implementing this act every time it has a group of fellow Canadians who disagrees. We have heard members of the government tell us that this Emergencies Act is necessary to dismantle these illegal protests and blockades. I again ask how it was possible that the illegal protests and blockades in Windsor and Coutts were dismantled if they did not possess the required tools.
Furthermore, the act states that the nature of the emergency is one that seriously endangers the lives of Canadians. If we are in such grave danger from these protesters such as those in Ottawa, why would members of the House even have been allowed to convene in the House? The threshold for this act has not been met.
We have heard the brag about how the mere mention of using the Emergencies Act resulted in protesters in Coutts, Alberta, dispersing from their blockade. The minister was bragging about using the most powerful tool available to the government. He should be ashamed that it has come to this point. He should be ashamed because it means the government has failed miserably.
All Canadians should be ashamed that the has failed them.
Madam Speaker, I rise today in this, the people's House, with both heaviness of heart and hope for the future.
My heart is heavy with all that I am hearing from people from my riding and Canadians from coast to coast. I, along with so many of them, am greatly concerned with the gargantuan overreach the has made with the invoking of the Emergencies Act, granting him and the government unprecedented and unnecessary powers with which to deal with the challenge that is before us.
Seven out of 10 provinces have expressed huge concerns regarding its implementation and the dangerous precedent it sets in the suppression of individual rights and freedoms of Canadian citizens.
The fact is that the blockades in Alberta, in Manitoba and here in Ontario at the Windsor bridge were all resolved peacefully by utilizing existing laws. Authorities never needed to implement or utilize the extreme measures of the Emergencies Act, which was known previously as the War Measures Act, which was only utilized on three previous occasions: World War I, World War II and the FLQ situation.
The weaponization of this extreme measure against political opponents, even to the extent of freezing their assets and threatening their livelihoods, is draconian, authoritarian and deeply concerning. It is just plain wrong. I will be voting to revoke it and I encourage all my fellow parliamentarians to do the same.
While reflecting in preparation for these remarks today, I was reminded of a leadership conference that I had the privilege of attending around 20 years ago, at which the keynote speaker shared a story that deeply impacted my life and influenced even my role currently as a member of Parliament.
I will never forget what the keynote speaker shared with us that evening. He was sharing a story about a king and his messenger, his apprentice. The king wanted to get a very important message through to a certain community, to an area and region in his kingdom. He wanted the community to hear it clearly and he wanted them to understand it, as the message had severe ramifications.
The messenger was hesitant and in fact was resistant and did not want to participate or go to share that message. However, the king said explicitly to the messenger, “I want you to go. I want you to visit that community for seven days, sit among the people, hear their stories and observe their customs. For seven days, do not open your mouth. After seven days, you can give the community the message that they need to hear."
The keynote speaker applied that principle to all of us as leaders or aspiring leaders. It was that before we as leaders rush in with fast answers and quick solutions and grab the megaphone to speak, we must first take the time to listen and sit where those people that we are communicating with sit and hear their stories and hear their perspectives. Whether we agree with them or not, whether we embrace all aspects of what they may be doing or not, we need to have the courtesy and the decency to at least hear what they are saying.
He said that once the messenger had done this for seven days, he communicated what he was supposed to communicate and the situation was resolved. The message was received, but the messenger did it from a place of identification. The messenger did it after having sat where they sat and hearing their stories and understanding where they were coming from, even though he did not agree with or even share many of the beliefs of those with whom he was communicating.
Could it be that there is an application for all of us in this House today and for the himself? How different things could have been had he taken the time to elicit, engage and hear what people were saying from coast to coast to coast. Rather than engage, he chose to enrage and escalate rather than de-escalate. How much of the situation could have potentially been resolved had he taken the time to hear the concerns of Canadian citizens?
The last two years of dealing with COVID have not been easy. COVID has brought many frustrations with it from coast to coast. Canadians are weary and tired. It has been exhausting. Rather than escalation, they were looking for their leaders to bring a sense of peace and calming reassurance, but now we find ourselves in a heightened state of tension. When jurisdictions around the world are de-escalating, loosening up restrictions, lifting mandates and allowing people get their lives back and move on, the has chosen to use accusations, hurl insults, name-call, castigate and ridicule. Would not a different approach serve all of us well?
Canadians are looking to us and wondering, “Are you, as elected officials, hearing what we are saying? Are you hearing what we have been telling you?”
In preparation for this role as a member of Parliament, and I know many members have done the same, I knocked on thousands of doors, sat at tables, took phone calls and responded to emails. We took the time to hear the concerns of those we desire to represent, whether it was at the kitchen table of a nurse who was exhausted from long overtime hours and time away from her family or in a farmer's field with farmers who kept doing what they knew to do even through this time of crisis. When the rest of the world shut down, they kept growing and producing.
Perhaps members sat at the tables of seniors who felt lonely and isolated and had not been able to see their grandkids in a long time. Perhaps members heard the stories of people who lost their employment or whose business went under because of the prolonged restrictions and rolling lockdowns. Perhaps they heard the stories and concerns of the mill owners who were wondering if they could keep operating in these circumstances. Perhaps they heard the concerns of parents who were concerned about the increased levels of depression and anxiety their children were facing. Perhaps they heard the same concerns I have heard.
Canadians want their lives back. They want their country back. They want the Canada that we all love and cherish back. They do not recognize the Canada they are seeing displayed before them on their television right now. They are not comfortable with the anger from all sides. Canadians are looking for leaders who will listen to their cries. They are tired of the extremes on all sides. They are tired of the “us versus them”. They are tired of the Facebook wars and the social media conflicts. They are tired of family member being pitted against family member and Canadian against Canadian. They are exhausted by the continual polarization. Canadians are speaking loudly and clearly.
I conclude with this. I have reason for hope today, because we have heard their voices. I cling to this old promise from an ancient scripture: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
I wish COVID‑19 had not lasted two years. I wish it had been only 12 hours, but as sure as night has come and we sense the heaviness upon all of us, morning will break in this country and people will once again be able to embrace a government that hears their concerns and responds to them and chooses not to use the nuclear option of suppressing their rights and freedoms at a time when it is not needed. They are looking for de-escalation.
On this side of the House, we hear you. On this side of the House, we will bring your concerns forward.
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that I will be splitting my time with my esteemed colleague from .
On this day of debate on the Emergencies Act, I would first like to offer my thanks to all the staff in the House, namely the clerks, the interpreters, the pages, the security officers and the cooks, among others. I also thank the reporters and their teams, who covered the various protests.
Of course, I am well aware that we are going through an exceptional situation right now. I hope that all parliamentarians, especially the government members, are well aware of this. The vote that will take place in a few hours might create an important precedent.
We have been incredibly busy these past few days. We have been busy debating an unnecessary law to lift the siege in Ottawa, and I have been busy talking to the people of Laurentides—Labelle about the issues related to this bill. Hundreds of people contacted me to talk about their concerns and what they wanted done about the blockade that, unfortunately, lasted 23 days.
I would like to use my time to explain the reasons why we oppose the use of the Emergencies Act, which the government invoked in haste without proving that other legislative tools at its disposal did not work.
I absolutely understand that people are sick to death of the virus and the public health measures and rules that changed our lives. The situation had a direct impact on me too, just as it impacted caregivers, business people, parents and health care workers, among many others.
It is no secret that we will vote against the use of the Emergencies Act, and there are many reasons why.
On February 15, the elected members of Quebec's National Assembly unanimously adopted a motion stating that no emergency situation justified the use of special legislative measures in Quebec and calling on the Canadian government not to apply the Emergencies Act in Quebec. Will the government respect the will of the 125 members of the National Assembly?
Even more appalling is that seven out of 10 provinces are against using this legislation. Obviously, Ontario requested it because that is where the siege was held.
The application of such legislation should not be taken lightly. It must be measured and proportionate. The himself said several times that the act would not be used where it is not needed. Why, then, does it apply everywhere?
The Prime Minister also explained to the House and in documents attached to the motion that he feared that other blockades would go up elsewhere in Canada, given the mobilization facilitated by social media. This type of legislation is not to be applied “just in case”; it is to be applied to deal with a real and imminent situation. The application of the act must be essential and necessary.
Every action taken in the past few days could have been taken with the tools provided under the Criminal Code. Arrests were made in coordination with the various police forces, which, in my opinion, should have been done in the early days.
What we needed was a head of state to coordinate interventions. Sadly, since being elected, I have seen no such head of state. Instead of getting out in front of a crisis, an issue, or a pandemic, the Prime Minister racks up conflicts of interest, as I saw when I was a member of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. When the City of Ottawa called for reinforcements, the federal government dawdled. Here is how I would sum up the situation. The federal government did not try anything. Then, not knowing what to do, it invoked the Emergencies Act, once all the occupations had been cleared out. The authorities will continue their work.
The government was not too worried about the Ambassador Bridge situation until it got a call from the White House. That is kind of a big deal. Then the government did nothing until it got a call from the Ottawa police, which wanted an additional 1,800 officers. The feds sent in a handful of officers, basically just enough to protect ministers and MPs. Only about 20 officers were deployed to the protest sites.
It is important to note that the government cannot invoke the Emergencies Act unless it can demonstrate that a dangerous and urgent situation exists and cannot be handled by means of ordinary laws.
There is indeed a dangerous and urgent situation, but it is limited to Ontario. We wanted the act to apply only where the occupation was taking place, especially since invoking this act, if applied more broadly than it should be, will set a dangerous precedent. The Emergencies Act was not needed to settle the rail blockades of 2020, the Oka crisis, 9/11, or even the COVID-19 pandemic.
When someone is criticized for not taking action, they try to make people forget about their bungling by using a sledgehammer as a show of strength to impress people. However, politics is not a game where players come up with strategies for the simple and only reason of maintaining or regaining power.
If this makes people rather cynical, I would tell them “welcome to the club”. Applying the Emergencies Act when the situation is confined to one location, not across Canada, is overkill. What saddens me is that the voters will think that the Prime Minister saved Ottawa. I want to express my sincerest appreciation to police officers at all levels for the tremendous work they have done.
To all those who reached out to me regarding the use of the Emergencies Act, I want to say that the siege did indeed have to be stopped. Existing measures are what saved Ottawa. The Criminal Code and traffic regulations are what saved Ottawa. No, I will not vote in favour of the use of the Emergencies Act. Quebec's 125 MNAs do not want it to be used. The implications of this legislation are too great to use it as a way to take back control, just because a government failed to take action and lacks leadership.
I would like to remind members that the federal government lagged behind the provinces when it came to implementing measures to deal with the pandemic. One need only think of the management of the borders, or lack thereof, at the beginning of the pandemic. That was a good opportunity for the Prime Minister to show some leadership as a government leader, but he did not. That is unfortunate for him and for us.
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from for her fine speech.
I want to start mine by commending the excellent work done by the police forces, whose professionalism and interventions are above reproach. I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the work of the security officers on Parliament Hill, who ensured our protection during the siege in front of Parliament. Thanks to them, we can safely come here and do our work every day.
We must also acknowledge the exceptional work of all the staff on Parliament Hill and the journalists covering the day's events under difficult conditions. Honestly, I would rather rise to speak to more important and less pointless topics than the one before us today.
Need I remind the House that we are in the middle of a pandemic? Need I remind the House that many first nations communities still do not have access to drinking water, that seniors are unable to make ends meet every month and that they have to choose between buying food or paying for prescription drugs? Need I remind the House that it is imperative for the federal government to increase health transfers with no strings attached up to 35% of the cost of health care as unanimously demanded by Quebec and the provinces? I could go on. The list is long.
In order to invoke the Emergencies Act, the government must demonstrate two things: That a dangerous and urgent situation exists, and that this situation cannot be dealt with under what we call ordinary laws.
All the blockades we saw across Canada these past few weeks have been taken down, one by one—and without using the Emergencies Act. Did we need the act to clear the blockades in Sarnia, in Emerson, Manitoba or at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor? Did we need it to end the protests at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie or in the greater Vancouver area? In each case, the answer is no. Were police forces able to end the siege here in Ottawa without the Emergencies Act? The answer is yes.
The government should never have moved this motion. It is not warranted given the current state of affairs and the good work done by police. At best, the government should have revoked it when it saw that the blockades had been dismantled without anyone using this law. This would have given us time and allowed us to debate far more serious matters such as those I mentioned at the beginning of my speech.
As we know, several provinces, including Quebec, did not want this law to apply to their territory. The three opposition parties in the National Assembly stood with Premier Legault and expressed their disapproval of the application of the federal Emergencies Act to Quebec. Members of all parties in the National Assembly supported a motion to that effect.
Fifty years ago, the federal government used its extraordinary powers, and we know what happened, because it went down in history. The use of such legislation should not be taken lightly. Its application must be measured, proportional and justified. Why did the Prime Minister decide to apply it to the entire country? He has not been listening, because several provinces, including Quebec, do not want it. He showed no respect for the provinces and territories and did not make an informed and justifiable decision, as as a true leader would have.
I will now explain why we are debating this motion. We have a Prime Minister who, instead of acting as a government leader worthy of that title, was hiding who knows where, doing nothing but waiting. It was not as though we did not know this would happen. It was not a surprise. We knew that the protesters were coming to Ottawa.
Let me be clear, Madam Speaker: People have the right to protest, because that is part of democracy, but they have to do it while respecting the law. Instead of being proactive, the chose to sit idly by. Oh, I forgot: At one point, he had the brilliant idea of pouring more gas on the fire by insulting the protesters. That is unacceptable behaviour unworthy of a real leader. Because of his inaction, the people of Ottawa and the surrounding area went through many days of hell, fearing for their safety and putting up with the noise and the traffic. Horns were blaring day and night. I sympathize with the people who had to endure that for much too long.
As well, let us not forget about the people who could not work during the siege. Businesses had to stay closed. People stayed home out of fear. Sacrifices were made. Will the government help the workers and business owners who lost revenue through no fault of their own?
Given the enormity of the situation, and having lost control and not knowing what else to do, the Prime Minister thought it might be a good idea to use a bazooka to kill a fly by invoking the Emergencies Act. That is a dangerous move. The use of this act is not appropriate here, and it will set a precedent.
I have been watching my Liberal colleagues pussyfooting around for days. They are trying to justify the Prime Minister's decision by giving us arguments that have done absolutely nothing to convince me so far. I am still going to vote against the motion. Even the NDP said this weekend that it was no longer sure whether the Emergencies Act was required. It might change its mind and vote against the Liberals. For the past three weeks, we have experienced highs and lows and protests that should never have gone on this long.
In closing, I would like to take the rest of my time to thank all the health care workers for their efforts, dedication and courage during this pandemic. Our hearts are with them, and we are grateful for all that they do. I also want to thank the incredible organizations in Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which have been doing an amazing job during the pandemic, as always.
Finally, I want to thank my constituents for the sacrifices they have made, for their understanding and for following the health guidelines. It made all the difference in our riding during the pandemic. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to limit the loss of loved ones during the five waves of the pandemic.
Madam Speaker, “Grant thy servant an understanding heart that I may discern between good and evil.” As I took my seat for the very first time in the House, these words of Solomon came to mind, seeking wisdom to lead. Here I was in this place, a place I had dreamt many times that maybe one day I would have opportunity to sit in and represent my fellow citizens. Especially today, as I speak in the House about the chaos, division and anger, not just in front of this place but all across Canada, I hope for wisdom for myself and all my fellow members.
Leaders lead by inspiring those around them to greatness. They inspire a hope that tomorrow will be brighter than today. They lift everyone up, not just those who agree with them. They seek to bring people together, to give the voiceless a voice and a seat at the table. Leaders stand up for every citizen: every Canadian, urban, rural, rich or poor, white collar, blue collar, right and left, regardless of their faith or creed and regardless of their place of origin. A leader gives every ounce of his being to ensure a legacy of prosperity and success for his fellow citizens. However, what we saw out front the last three weeks was a failure of leadership. It was a failure of those entrusted by Canadians with that most solemn of tasks, which is to ensure that our kids will inherit a better future than we received, to ensure that the maple leaf is an undying symbol here and around the world of freedom, pluralism, justice and democracy.
We are here today to talk about the Emergencies Act. I, like many of my colleagues in the House and millions of Canadians, believe that the use of this act at this time is a dramatic overreach. We have heard from many members here about the consequences if the bar is lowered even just a little in the future use of this act, and I echo those concerns.
The fact is, the protests had to end. Every Canadian has a right to peaceful protest, but we do not have the right to park a truck in the middle of a city street for three weeks. In the same way, we have a right to disagree with those who have chosen not to get vaccinated, but we do not have a right to call them racists or misogynists.
I believed my doctor when he told me that vaccination is the best tool, not the only tool, but the best tool to protect my health and my neighbours' health against COVID-19. I also believed my doctor when he told me that we had reached 85% to 90% vaccination rates and should be able to start getting our lives back. We see that starting to happen now. The fact is, Canada is among the most vaccinated countries on earth, and yet some of our fellow citizens simply will not get vaccinated. We need to be okay with that.
While I understand some of the reasons I have heard for vaccine hesitancy, I do not understand all of them, and I do not need to. I do not need to understand my fellow citizens' medical choices to defend their fundamental right to make those choices. That is the beauty of this country. We get to make our own health choices. We do not impose draconian measures on the people we disagree with, and it is also why I echo the words of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, when he said, “For if individuals and minorities do not feel protected against the possibility of the tyranny of the majority...it is useless to ask them to open their hearts and minds to their fellow Canadians.”
This debate should never have had to happen. Truckers should never have had to park their trucks in front of Parliament. The divisive rhetoric and demonizing of a minority of Canadians by their own government, whatever the intention, was, quite simply, disgusting.
This is clearly not the first time the political class has used our differences of opinion to divide us for political gain, and it likely will not be the last. We have stopped talking to each other. We are all guilty of it. We listen to our party war rooms on how the polls show us we can slice and dice the electorate to our advantage. We say we have a desire to listen to each other, and then we go on the partisan attack. The actions we take right here in the House directly translate to how we treat each other as Canadians.
I do not know if those of us who sit in the privilege of this place in our fancy suits, surrounded by deferential security guards calling us “sir” and “ma’am”, truly understand the anger and frustrations as so many Canadians feel their hopes and dreams slipping further and further away. They yearn for politicians to simply talk about their issues, to genuinely represent them.
The contractor in Swift Current, the single dad in Delta, the fisherman in St. Margaret’s Bay, the police officer in Yellowknife and the student in Brandon do not care how good our partisan shot was in question period. They do not care how many retweets our clip got. They certainly do not care how much we have out-fundraised our opponents. They just want to know their politicians are working for them. They want to know that their leaders care about their livelihoods, that we care as much about their industry as they do. They want to know we are fighting as hard as we can for them to not have to choose between putting the kids in hockey or putting food on the table. They want to know they will be able to own a home and raise a family in a community their kids can come back to, where they can retire in dignity.
They want to know their government is well managed and ethical and delivers excellent services. It would be nice if their government were just boring. They want to celebrate our great country and the everyday heroes who make this the most magnificent nation on earth. They want us and need us to be here every day, seeking and striving to build our fellow citizens up and bring people together. We need to stop being politicians and start being leaders.
We were elected to represent our communities, tell the hard truths and work hard on behalf of our people. We were not sent here to listen to what the focus groups say or what the polls might say. We were not sent here to represent only those people who put up lawn signs. We were not sent here to appeal to the lowest common dominator; we were sent here to raise it. Canadians do not think of their community as a target seat. It is their hometown, where everyone is a neighbour, where everyone deserves strong representation in this House.
There are lots of folks in downtown Toronto and Montreal who want lower taxes, and there are a lot of people in rural Alberta who are proud of and really want a strong, publicly funded health care system. There are a lot of people in Vancouver who are fed up with vaccine mandates and a lot of people in Regina who are eager to welcome another new Canadian to their community. There are plenty of Quebeckers who want to use Canadian energy, and there are thousands of folks in Manitoba who are proud of their union membership.
Outside of this Ottawa bubble, Canadians are one people, one nation, all working to build a country we can be even more proud of tomorrow than we were yesterday. We are a nation, 38 million strong, all yearning and striving for a country where everyone has a place and everyone has a shot at success. Ours is a country where we might not always agree on every issue, but we always agree that we live in the greatest country in the world and that we deserve a government that is not all things to all people but enables us all to come together, leaving no one behind.
This is a country where a person can be anything they want to be and do anything they want to do. We can give a job to those without one; we can ensure that our next generation can afford a home; we can eradicate poverty; we can come together again; we can break down the walls that divide us and help heal this broken nation, all with an understanding heart. It starts with all of us in the House. Canadians are counting on our leadership.
My message to the and to every one of us in the House is simple. Listen to those with whom there is disagreement and be willing to compromise. Let us work together to build on the common cause of bringing Canadians together, to celebrate all that unites us. To everyone else, let us tone down the heat. Let us be open to hearing opinions other than our own, and let us try to see ourselves on the other side. This is Canada. We can disagree without hating each other.
There is nothing wrong with Canada that cannot be fixed with everything that is right about Canada. Let us cut down the partisan personal attacks and ideological entrenchment; let us start listening to each other and to our communities rather than the political operatives who use the differences between us to stoke fear and anger in the name of winning a few more votes. Let us hold each other to the same standards that Canadians hold their neighbours to, which is to say that we should expect compassion, respect, courage and character from one other. If we can do that, then we will start to bring this country back together again, because that is what leaders do, and Canada needs leaders right now.
This is a critical time. We need only to look south of the border to see the polarizing effects of a divisive political culture and culture war. Let us demand excellence from ourselves. Let us choose what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature”. Let us go forward together, building each other up and bringing Canadians from all walks of life together in our mutual cause of Canada, our beloved true north, strong and free.
Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that I have to follow my friend, colleague and seatmate from Parry Sound—Muskoka because it is a tough act to follow. I appreciate that I can follow him because I do share a lot of the same concerns as he does. I truly am concerned with the state of affairs in this country, in this place, in this chamber, and I am worried about the direction that our political discussion is going. I would like to touch on that a bit more later on.
To start my remarks, I would like to come back to the issue at hand. We are having a very important vote tonight and I believe I have a duty to share my views on how I will be making my decision when the vote comes tonight.
As I said last week in this chamber, the blockades we are seeing are illegal and they must come to an end. I am pleased to see that they have come to an end. The right to peaceful protest is an integral part of our democracy. It is an important pillar of our democracy. I have told many people back home that almost every day I am here, it seems like there is a different protest happening out by the flame on the lawn of Parliament, and that is an important part of our process.
However, nobody in this country has the right to blockade critical infrastructure. Freedom is limited by how it interferes with the freedom of others, and that is what we saw on display over the past few weeks here in Ottawa and in other places across the country.
I believe that police have and had the ability to handle the situation without invoking the Emergencies Act. We saw that the Ambassador Bridge was cleared and that the Coutts border crossing was cleared without the invocation of the Emergencies Act.
In the past in this country, we have seen terrorist attacks. We have seen the Oka crisis, the Wet'suwet'en blockades, the fisheries crisis, G20 protests and the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver. None of these instances warranted the use of the Emergencies Act. Quite recently, we have seen the terrible images from B.C. from the Coastal GasLink assault, a situation where the Emergencies Act was not deemed to be necessary.
I believe that the government had many options it could have taken in working with its partners to address the situation, without going so far, because there are such far-reaching powers afforded to the government by invoking this act, including the ability to freeze the bank accounts of Canadians. Many people I know are very concerned that they may have contributed a small amount to support this convoy. They may have bought a shirt or contributed in a very small way because they felt at the time that this convoy, this protest, was going to be peaceful and was going to raise awareness about an issue that they cared about. They felt like they did not have a voice and the protesters were raising that for them.
Those people are the ones I worry could be unfairly impacted by this decision to invoke the Emergencies Act. They are people who contributed, not knowing that there would be unlawful protests, not knowing how the situation would escalate or necessarily who was organizing it.
I also worry, as many have mentioned in this chamber already throughout the weekend and here today, about the precedent that this sets. I believe we are drastically lowering the bar for what constitutes an emergency in this country. That is something that all of us in this chamber have to think very hard about when we have our vote here tonight. We do not want to see widespread use of the Emergencies Act. We do not want this to become something that is almost an everyday reaction because of how serious and far-reaching the powers are. That is why I will be voting against the implementation of the Emergencies Act.
It will be interesting to see how this transpires because an argument could be made that the situation the government needed to address has been dealt with already. I know that is a question that has been put to the members of the government so far.
As I mentioned off the top, I want to pick up on some of the comments that my friend from was making, because the rhetoric I have heard in this debate and in the chamber over the past couple of weeks in question period, I am truly disturbed by. I have been disgusted by it. The polarization that we are seeing across the country, the polarization that we are seeing in this chamber needs to stop.
Last week, the accused our side of standing with people who waved swastikas. Many members of the House have made comments to essentially say that we are racists. This of course could not be further from the truth, but they are seeing a political opportunity and that is what bothers me the most about this. I know these members. These are my colleagues, my friends. I know that it does not seem like it to many people watching at home, but we actually do get along sometimes in this place, especially when we get outside of the chamber doors.
Many members of the government, the NDP and other parties, I have coffee with them and dinner with them. We crack jokes at the committee table. After a particularly tough debate, maybe we have a drink that is a little stiffer, but to think that those individuals view my colleagues and me as racists, I cannot accept because I surely know that if I believed anybody in the chamber was a racist, I would not be having dinner with them or shaking their hand. Frankly, I do not think I would treat them with any respect whatsoever, and that is the frustrating part because I know it has become political. The Liberals see an opportunity to divide and to wedge and they are capitalizing on it.
We have also heard from members of the government that their leadership, in the last election campaign and since, made a deliberate decision to stigmatize unvaccinated Canadians, driving wedges even further. I do not mean to throw this all on the government. I obviously believe the has an important leadership role to play right now and we need him to lead by example and work to unify us. However, we all have to look inward in this place because we are seeing hateful rhetoric on all sides.
We are seeing people accusing the of being a communist dictator, which is ridiculous and untrue. We are seeing hate and polarization all across this chamber and across this country, and putting an end to it starts right here with every single one of us in the House. We need to turn down the heat. We need to tone down the rhetoric as my friend before me mentioned.
I am shocked that I have to say this in the House. We have a who was democratically elected three times, who commands the confidence of this chamber, yet there are many people across the country who are not seeing it as legitimate and that is a very big problem in our democracy. I disagree with the use of the Emergencies Act. I believe it is far-reaching, but it does not make the Prime Minister a dictator. He is within his right to invoke it.
My plea to all of my colleagues is to think about the words we use in this place. We cannot throw around words like “dictator” and “racist” flippantly. These words matter. They carry weight and when we use these words so casually, we delegitimize the true evils that have been experienced by many people and continue to be experienced by many people in the world.
I am asking all of my colleagues to look at their comments, look at their rhetoric and reassess because we are seeing divisions created that I do not know how we come back from at this point. I am urging all my colleagues to tone down the rhetoric and work to unify. I do not mean to unify in the sense that we all agree on everything. We never will, nor should we, but let us have a respectful debate about the issues. Surely we do not need to resort to name-calling and personal attacks.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I think I lucked out with my time slot because I am following two members who spoke so eloquently in this chamber. I want to thank them for that. We all have a role to play as leaders in bringing down the tone and showing that we can actually work together.
I want to thank the Parliamentary Protective Service, the various municipal police forces, as well as the RCMP, the OPP, la Sûreté du Québec, and everyone involved in the last three weeks for their professionalism in bringing this situation to a close. Today, we are discussing whether the Emergencies Act should have been used. I will explain today why I am going to support this motion and why it was necessary.
When I look at it from a situational analysis perspective, over the past 26 days, Ottawa has been under siege. We have seen protests at the Ambassador Bridge. We have see protests at the Coutts border, in Vancouver and here in Ottawa. We have seen the Rideau Centre down the street closed. There are hundreds and hundreds of employees who cannot go to work. We have seen fundraising with a lot of foreign interference toward this occupation. We have seen a lot of misinformation being shared on social media.
I have been in Ottawa for 22 of the last 26 days of the occupation, and I have witnessed first-hand the constant honking, the fireworks in the streets, the open fires and citizens afraid to go outside. One of the most disturbing sights was someone jumping on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As the mother and mother-in-law of three serving members, this was incredibly difficult for me to witness.
I have seen people being taunted in the streets for wearing a mask. We have had staff members yelled at, one of whom had feces thrown at her, for coming to work. We have seen reporters being assaulted. We have seen the stockpiling of propane and fuel. We have seen this progression, despite measures that had been taken by local police.
Our government has been in contact with the mayor the whole time. We have also been in contact with the chief of police, the premier and the various premiers of the locations where we have seen these protests. We deployed RCMP officers and tactical police troops; had joint intelligence and operational teams, and community liaison teams; and convened a table with relevant federal and municipal partners. Despite these efforts, it continued.
When we look at the timeline of events, we saw very clearly an escalation. We saw the potential for this to increase. I know that Wellington Street is clear right now, but we also know that protesters are currently in Vankleek Hill. We know that protesters are just south of us waiting. That is why I believe we are just in invoking the Emergencies Act.
My colleague from has said multiple times in the last three days that the Ambassador Bridge is not secure. Two blocks away, there are protesters. It is a very volatile situation right now. It is evolving quickly. I trust the police forces, and the intelligence they have, to keep us safe.
The laws that we currently have on the books were not sufficient. One of the most difficult things for me to see were children at these protests. The invoking of the Emergencies Act will make it punishable to bring children into these protests. It also prevents travel to the Hill and through border crossings by those intent on breaking laws. It prevents foreign extremists from joining these protests. It directs tow companies to assist in removing vehicles parked in our streets.
Invoking the Emergencies Act also authorizes financial institutions to freeze the funds of this illegal activity. We are talking dark money. We are talking about using crowdfunding to avoid FINTRAC rules. It also allowed the police forces to save days of delay in deputizing various police forces.
This is not something we take lightly. When this piece of legislation was drafted in 1987, the safeguards were put in place. We are having this debate. There will be a vote. A joint committee of parliamentarians will be struck. There will be an inquiry. There will be a report tabled in the House after 60 days to determine whether or not the invoking of this act was justifiable.
I heard a lot over the last couple of days about listening. I make a point of reaching out to the citizens who write to me, especially those who are angry and do not agree, because I really want to hear their point. Let us be honest. When most people write to an MP's office, it is not to say we are doing a great job; it is because they are angry about something or not happy with something. I make every effort to hear them. While we may not agree on a position, it is important that I hear them. I am pretty sure this is the same across all parties. We have those discussions in caucus. We share what we are hearing on the ground. Those conversations are happening. People are listening. We are listening. We have a duty to listen, and we are.
We are dealing with a very scary situation in Canada where people feel empowered to say awful things to others, whether it be on social media from the safety of their keyboard or attacking them personally. I have no problem with someone questioning my position on something or questioning a policy, but when we start taking personal attacks, we have gone too far.
I think there are a lot of questions to be asked coming out of what has happened in the last month here in Canada. My hon. colleague from brought this up, I believe, on Saturday. I may be mixing up the days after being here debating for three days. He said there should be a public inquiry into what happened here, in addition to the parliamentary inquiry that is stipulated in the Emergencies Act.
Ottawa has festivities all the time. It is well versed in crowd control. I looked up online what streets are closed normally to vehicular traffic during the Canada Day celebrations. How did those trucks get on Wellington Street? How did a crane get put beside the Prime Minister's office? Where was the protection for the protesters walking in between the parked trucks? There will be a lot of questions to ask after this through various channels, levels of government and agencies, and I welcome that, so this never happens again.
I urge colleagues across the aisle, as well as on my side, to be mindful of the words we use and how we express ourselves, and to ask questions about what really happened here. How is it that an illegal protest like this was allowed to get so far? Let us be honest. If the complexion of this protest were different, this would have been called something entirely different.
Madam Speaker, being able to rise today on this issue is an opportunity I do not take lightly nor for granted. It is only in a few democratic countries like ours that the voice of someone like me would even be heard or carry any weight.
Over the last several days, we have heard many points of view on the invocation of the Emergencies Act and regarding the details outlined in the declaration of the act tabled in the House. After hearing much of the debate in the House and outside this place, I want to touch upon some key issues that have been misconstrued or misunderstood.
The first is that this is just a normal truckers' protest. Anyone thinking that is naive as to the elements that exist within this protest, so I will address that. I also want to address that this is not just a protest representing truck drivers. If people claim that it is, they really have missed the mark. I represent a large demographic of truck drivers in my riding, and these are not their real concerns. I will also address the issue of whether this act was necessary and whether it is still necessary at this time. Lastly, I would like to show the real difference that exists between the Emergencies Act and the War Measures Act.
Let us first address the claim that this is just a normal protest. If that is what people believe, then they are either naive or willfully ignoring the dangerous truths that exist within this protest. We have heard from many criminologists and cybersecurity experts over the last several weeks that this is not the intention of this protest.
We are not new to protests in Parliament, and neither is Ottawa. Ottawa is a place that has had protests for centuries, always consisting of people wanting their say on policy or wanting to have their issues heard. In fact, this government has never silenced the voices of those who wish to protest. I, myself, have protested many times on the Hill in my younger years, and I strongly believe in one's ability to do so.
However, blocking a city for over three weeks, shutting down its businesses, and disturbing the mental and physical health of its people is not a protest, not to mention the irreparable harm that has been done by shutting down our borders for over 18 days.
As the ambassador to the UN and former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Mr. Bob Rae, put it the other day, “A truck is not a speech. A horn is not a voice. An occupation is not a protest. A blockade is not freedom, it blocks the liberty of all. A demand to overthrow a government is not a dialogue. The expression of hatred is not a difference of opinion. A lie is not the truth.”
On my way in today, for the first time in quite some time, I felt some freedom. I am sure the people of Ottawa are feeling freedom today.
Furthermore, the protests have had varying ideological grievances, with demands ranging from ending the public health measures to overthrowing a democratically elected government. While the latter is non-negotiable, the public health restrictions have been put in place by most governments around the world to varying degrees, depending on the advice of their public health, the capacities of their health systems and the willingness of their governments to have high death tolls versus their desire to protect the vulnerable.
Public health is, and should be, every government's number one priority. This is not tyranny, nor is it authoritarianism. Those making these outlandish claims have really minimized what many people living in Canada experienced before fleeing from countries that have these types of regimes. Yes, we have all been inconvenienced. Yes, we are all tired and frustrated. The good news is that we are seeing a relaxation of measures across this country.
Despite what a few want us to believe, Canadians, in large part, have done all of the right things to help get us through this pandemic. They have gotten vaccinated. Over 90% of Canadians, and over 90% of Canadian truckers also, have been vaccinated. That is an overwhelming majority. Due to the work that they have done, we will soon see that many measures will be lifted.
The Conservatives may want to paint this protest as just truckers voicing their opinion, but it is more than that. It is an ideologically motivated group of people who, for weeks on end, had been plotting and planning the overthrow of this government and other criminal activities. We have seen that. A lot of people want to forget, but we saw it at our southern Alberta border. At Coutts, we saw over 13 individuals be arrested. When we take a look at their backgrounds, they are quite astonishing. The plans that they had in place to kill our federal RCMP officers are not something to minimize. We should understand the grave danger that some of these people pose.
We are also seeing congressional committees down south in the U.S. investigating Facebook and other social media giants to see where a lot of the push and motivation for this trucker convoy has come from. It has come from outside of our borders. A lot of the funding has also come from outside of our borders.
What is very interesting is the correlation that we found between those who supported the January 6 insurrection at the Washington Capitol, and those who have supported this trucker convoy. There is a great overlap. Over 1,100 of the same donors donated to both causes.
Furthermore, blocking our trade corridors is not just a protest. Blocking our trade corridors has had a substantial impact on the truck drivers who live in my riding, and on the auto industry that is also in my riding. Many workers have been displaced due to the protest. I hesitate to continue to call it a protest, because it has been a siege and occupation of our land.
There has also been a lack of transparency as to what the funds that had been raised by this convoy, this occupation, would be used for. Therefore, I think it was very important for the government to impose the Emergencies Act at this time, to make sure that we could stop that money from getting into the wrong hands. There has been a very big lack of transparency.
I know many will argue today that the borders have been cleared, and thankfully Ottawa for the most part has been cleared. This measure also allows us to make sure that this does not happen again within days. We are starting to see it in different places in this country, so we need to make sure we keep this act in place for the remainder of the 30 days.
The second thing that I wanted to talk about concerns the truckers in my riding. The truckers in my riding have been calling me, talking about the issues that they face. They have been facing long waits. They have been stuck at times without food or water at the borders. This is not fair. They have real issues. They have issues of pay. They have labour issues that they want addressed. If it were a real trucker protest, that is what the protest should have been about.
Some will argue that the Emergencies Act was not needed, but we have heard interim Ottawa police chief Steve Bell say that the Emergencies Act and the province's state of emergency provided the police with the resources they needed to push back the demonstrators. It provided them with the ability to block off the city of Ottawa so that further protesters did not come to encourage the siege. It has given them the tools that were necessary, and I would say that many of the premiers requested these tools all along—
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I taught political philosophy for 30 years. The democratic ideal is at the heart of my political involvement. That is why I am a sovereignist, because the political sovereignty of the people is the very foundation of the democratic ideal.
The debate that is coming to a close today is one of the most serious debates I have ever participated in in the House, because the Emergencies Act is the most powerful and coercive action that a nation governed by the rule of law can impose in a democracy.
Government by decree is the antithesis of the exercise of legislative power. Such decrees cannot be made based on feelings, frustration with what others are saying, or ideological differences—whether far left or far right—or simply to cover up incompetence on the pretext of a legal vacuum.
It is not with joy in my heart or without emotion that I rise today. I never would have thought that the 10-year-old-boy from a working-class neighbourhood of Montreal who was forced to walk by armoured tanks and soldiers armed with machine guns every morning for the duration of the October crisis, because his school was right next to the police headquarters on Parthenais Street, would end up in the House of Commons 52 years later debating the Emergencies Act.
I remember the fear and the intense climate of suspicion that gripped the neighbourhood every time there was a police operation or arrest, whether or not it made the news, involving people we considered to be perfectly ordinary, like us, with no criminal record and far from being terrorists, as we rightly thought.
Despite the emotion I am feeling by recalling this memory, I never would have failed in my duty to add my voice to that of my colleagues in this debate that started long before January 29, in the wake of a global health crisis that has affected our lives, everyone's quality of life, that has left thousands of families in mourning, that for two years now has challenged our sense of solidarity and mutual goodwill and that gives new meaning to the old adage, “One person's freedom ends where another's begins”.
This should lead us as parliamentarians to be more careful than ever not to set a precedent, but also to be as thorough as possible in order to maintain the increasingly fragile trust the public has in their democratic institutions.
The issue here is not the opinions or the interpretation that different people can have of democracy or freedom. As we saw in the streets for 23 days, and in many other countries of the world throughout history, people can say and do many things in the name of freedom and democracy. However, in a country governed by the rule of law and in a self-proclaimed free and democratic society, the legitimacy of the government's power in relation to its citizens must be guided by and measured against a fundamental question that must be answered to prevent abuse of power.
What are the limits to the government's power to intervene?
My questions arise only out of the desire to understand the necessity of invoking this act. I would point out that it is special legislation, which, let us not forget, was developed in 1988 to replace the War Measures Act so that the executive branch, meaning the government, any government, regardless of its political stripes, can never again claim the absolute power to trample rights and freedoms for political purposes, nor engage in abuse of power with impunity.
I recognize that it is not the same act. Much like Thomson and Thompson are not the same, these acts are not the same. With this act, however, the government has brought out the heavy artillery. In 1988, parliamentarians created some safeguards, and one of those safeguards was us, as members of Parliament. We have a duty to question the legitimacy of the Emergencies Act, which was invoked in response to a situation we all now know, when the government stood by for 21 days.
To all those who claim we are living in a dictatorship, I do want to point out that totalitarian and dictatorial regimes rarely hold the kinds of debates we have been having today. These types of debates are the essence of a parliamentary democracy, of a representative democracy, but we also have to live up to that responsibility and maintain credibility. Unfortunately, the sequence of events and the failure to implement the necessary measures in response to the siege of the federal capital do not justify these orders.
How did we wind up here? According to the Emergencies Act, the government had a responsibility to consult the provinces and report on those consultations to establish that there was a nationwide emergency. Seven out of 10 premiers opposed the use of the Emergencies Act in their provinces because they did not feel it was necessary. Two of the three other premiers said that they did not need this special legislation.
What national crisis are the Liberals talking about when they continue to claim that the Emergencies Act must absolutely be confirmed? We are hearing that it is useful, but it must be proven indispensable. Even the Quebec National Assembly saw fit to distance itself from the process and unanimously adopted a motion against the application of the law in Quebec. It reads:
That the National Assembly be concerned about the current disruptions in Ontario and around certain federal border crossings;
That it affirm that no emergency situation currently justifies the use of special legislative measures in Québec;
That it ask the Canadian government to not apply the federal Emergencies Act in Québec;
That, lastly, the National Assembly reiterate the importance of close collaboration between the federal government and the Québec government, in particular to ensure peace of mind and safety for citizens in the Outaouais region who are affected by the ongoing demonstrations in Ottawa and who could have to bear the brunt of any further deterioration of the situation.
The Government of Canada has ignored the requirement to demonstrate a national emergency. How can it claim a national emergency when seven premiers say they do not need this legislation? How can we draw any other conclusion besides that the usual laws were sufficient?
I can understand that the members sitting on the government side feel obliged to support their government's shaky logic and failure to provide the required proofs. However, I am of the opinion that there should be a free vote on such a fundamental issue.
This minority government did not do its homework, but because it has the support of the NDP, it does not matter if it fulfills the obligations set out in the act. As we speak, the siege in Ottawa has ended. The so-called national crisis that the government failed to demonstrate no longer exists. In the circumstances, I wonder if the NDP is aware that by voting with the government, it is an accomplice to setting a dangerous precedent by accepting such a low bar and that, one day, a majority government may use it to do something even worse.
The government failed to fulfill another requirement, that of demonstrating, in accordance with section 3 of the act, that any other law of Canada, the regular laws, cannot effectively deal with the emergency situation of this alleged national crisis. Not only did the government not prove this, but it did not even try. My colleagues from and eloquently and methodically explained that existing legislation was sufficient to resolve the situation and that seven out of 10 premiers were opposed to the invocation of the Emergencies Act in their provinces, because they had the situation under control. This clearly demonstrates that the conditions of section 3 were not met.
In conclusion, I invite members of all parties to vote according to the highest principles that should limit the exercise of the government's power to ensure its legitimacy and guarantee the rule of law. This will result in a parliamentary democracy where not only can the general will of the people be expressed, but also where different points of view can be heard, rather than being relegated to the streets.
I apologize to all members of Parliament for this slip of the tongue. It was unintentional.
I will resume my speech.
If we confirm the application of this legislation this evening because of the situation we went through, we will be demonstrating that what is meant to be the last resort for a government is being used with complete disregard for the two key components that absolutely justify its use.
This will send a message to the public that if they decide to go through with a planned protest, the government will pretend not to know about it and allow the protesters to set up, get settled, disturb the public, shove and intimidate journalists, install hot tubs and occupy the streets for three weeks. It will not matter in any case, because the government will apply the Emergencies Act while the Prime Minister stays at his cottage.
I am sorry, but that is not how government management works. Planned protests are legitimate, permitted and even good to have in a democratic society when a segment of the population wants to share a message it considers to be urgent and important, whether we agree with it or not. It is our cherished democracy that allows it. Let us not forget the importance of this democracy. Trivializing it, controlling it or, worse, ignoring it sends a really bad message.
When there is an illegal occupation that includes illegally parking in the streets or setting up stages without authorization, if hateful slogans are being used against elected members and the press, then we need to ask law enforcement, our police forces, to intervene. The police services were the ones who were called to take action, to organize and to request support from their counterparts in neighbouring nations, for example those from the Sûreté du Québec. I want to commend them and thank them from the bottom of my heart.
Everything was done properly and with a great deal of respect for the protesters, who were emboldened by the passage of time and the dismissive attitude of their head of government. I found this situation difficult, since people need to be heard and listened to. They must be given some basic consideration, before an act like this is thrown at them. Let me be clear. I do not support the deplorable and punishable actions taken by some individuals. I condemn these actions, but I also condemn the lack of consideration and contempt the has shown for these people he was elected to represent and to whom he is ultimately accountable.
I want to take this opportunity to commend the police for their exemplary and extremely diligent interventions since the occupation started in Ottawa. They have been calm and effective, under the circumstances, given that there were many children on site. It was particularly sad to see the government stand by for so long knowing these children were there. The government is meant to govern, which requires being a leader, listening, being open and showing diplomacy. These are invaluable and appropriate tools that could have resolved this crisis or, at the very least, prevented it from escalating.
This leads me to say that it was not justified and that it will not be justified for the government to invoke the Emergencies Act. To have justification, two conditions must be met, in a very clear and, especially, unequivocal manner. First, there must be a dangerous and urgent situation. It can be said that it was dangerous and urgent, but who really caused it? Second, it must be impossible to address the situation with ordinary laws.
To justify invoking the act under the present circumstances, we would need to add one or two conditions to it that are just not there. I want to emphasize that if the House chooses to support the application of this act and if, in a momentary lapse, our NDP colleagues approve the use of this act, it is crucial that the Bloc Québécois obtain the exemption to that application of the act for Quebec.
To support my position, I would like to quote from an interview the gave on the CBC.
He was asked the following question: Is there a link between the people arrested and the accounts that were frozen? Are they the same people?
Here is how the minister replied: These actions are taken by law enforcement; they are independent of politics.
I wonder then how the Emergencies Act has changed things. Voting in favour of invoking this legislation sends the wrong message not only to the public, but also to the rest of the world. All parliamentarians in this House will bear responsibility for the repercussions of invoking this legislation and the perception of its application in these kinds of circumstances.
We are talking about setting some kind of precedent, to which future governments in this place will have to refer. I would like to point out to our NDP colleagues that if they vote to invoke this legislation, they will be contributing to the normalization of its subsequent use, which will lower the perception of the importance of this legislation's nature as a tool of last resort.
If by today's actions the public's perception of this law, as well as that of the various responders, becomes distorted, that could pose a serious risk to everyone's safety in a future national crisis, which we do not wish for, but could well happen one day.
Everyone will remember this day. They will hear an announcement that the government voted in favour of the Emergencies Act and will say that the situation does not have to be all that critical. They will say that Parliament Hill will have to again be overrun by trucks and signs.
In the future, the public may overlook a real threat and, because we did not have the judgment needed today to correctly assess whether to use the Emergencies Act or not, we will be a party to this misguided lapse.
If the NDP is going to be irresponsible and vote in favour of applying this law, I would ask that the government at least not apply the act to Quebec and the provinces that expressed their keen desire that it not apply in their territory.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour anytime to rise on my feet in this House. It is unfortunate that we are rising today to debate the Emergencies Act. It is an act whose use is not merited right now. I will outline my reasoning for voting against this tonight and why I hope that the NDP will join with us, stay relevant and hopefully support our position that it is not needed right now.
To get understanding, we need to ask ourselves how and why: How are we here and why are we here debating this, and why did we have protesters on the streets of Ottawa? It goes to the function of parliamentarians, which is to listen. We may not agree with the protesters and we may not agree with all views in Canada, but we listen, hopefully to have a better understanding of our fellow Canadians. That is what has been unfortunately lacking in this place.
We have gone through two years of this pandemic with these difficulties. Everyone is tired. Everyone wants this to be over. The good news is that in Canada it is slowly becoming very apparent that the pandemic is coming to an end. Mandates are being lifted across Canada. Freedom is on the move again. We are able to take back our lives. The Super Bowl was just played in California, with 85,000 people in that stadium, and we did not see a spike of COVID cases afterward. Why is that? Part of it is that vaccines have helped.
We are one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world. We have therapeutic options now available. Also, the variant that is dominant right now is milder. In the past, this is how pandemics have ended, with the dominant strain becoming a mild virus that would go through our population and we would have natural immunity layered on top of all the other measures that I have outlined. That is why we are coming to the end of it. We are at the tail end of this. Province after province is lifting its restrictions. Countries, significant western world countries, are removing the mandates. We are so close to being in that spot.
Why would the Liberal government in January, last month, at the end of this pandemic, after claiming that truck drivers were frontline heroes, the people who literally fed us and delivered the goods that sustained us for these last two years, who called them heroes for the first two years, at the waning end of this pandemic, move them from heroes to zeros? At the stroke of a pen, the decided that at the tail end we are going to have this mandate imposed when they cross the border. That was a month ago. We are talking about a small portion of the Canadian population who, for the most part, are vaccinated and by themselves for 22 hours of the day, and the Liberals targeted those people. Worse than targeting them, they insulted them. They divided us.
As this convoy was getting started, the called out that the people in this freedom convoy were separatist, nothing more than people who want to tear our country apart. They got to Ottawa, and I have never seen as many Canadian flags in a group on Parliament Hill. These are not separatists; they are patriots. They were called sexist and racist. I would hope that the Liberal members who are here had the opportunity to meet with some of these fellow Canadians and hear their stories. They would hear and notice that they are from every nationality, that every corner of the world is represented by those truckers and the people who joined them. They were not racist. They were not sexist. They were not separatists.
We had the piling on, for what purpose? One would only surmise that it is for his political benefit, and that is wrong. A lot of wrong things happened in the last two years, but in the last two weeks or the last month there have been profound changes in the way I view our institution and the way Canadians view this place and their government, and it is not for the better.
We are in a different spot. The Queen, at 95 years old, caught COVID. With all the precautions that are out there, the bubble-wrapped Queen, at her age, caught COVID, and she is working through it. We are definitely in a new phase of this pandemic. We are coming to the end, so why pile on these mandates that only divide Canadians, not unify us?
The powers that the Emergencies Act gives the government are profoundly wrong, and we know this to be true. In a free society, we do not freeze bank accounts. That is the most horrendous thing that failed regimes around the world do. In their dying days, they print money, they remove civil liberties and they freeze bank accounts.
It is not that difficult to view what is going on in Canada through a lens of mistrust. We need leadership to bring healing once we are through this pandemic. When all the mandates are removed, and I believe we are weeks or less away from that, we are going to have huge divisions that need to be mended. Invoking the Emergencies Act only divides Canadians that much more at a time we should not be divided.
That is a little bit about why we are here, but how are we here? How was it that a protest would go on for as many days as it did? When the inquiry takes place, one of the questions and one of the things to analyze is what happened at the start. For weeks, or days at least, we would turn on the news and see the news of this convoy coming to Ottawa. People were lining the highways in the cold just to wave at the convoy.
Even if someone does not agree with convoy's message, they must take a step back and understand what it must take for people to give up all they had in their lives to get on the road and come to Ottawa to fight for what they believe in and to have their message heard by the government. The reports that they were coming to Ottawa were no secret.
When the convoy got here, they were directed or welcomed by the City of Ottawa's electronic signs that said “convoy turn here”, and they headed downtown. When they got to the downtown core of Ottawa, what were they told? “Go ahead, park on Wellington. You have to leave on Sunday, but you are free to come and break this law. You can set up shop and you can protest.”
In Canada, we have the right to protest. It is still a right. We need to provide a space for people to protest, to disagree with their government and to let their message be heard. I believe that when the inquiry looks at what the first mistakes were, they will turn out to be it was the Liberal 's pressure that led the Liberal mayor of Ottawa to invite them down to set up shop on Wellington Street. That was the message they heard when they got to Ottawa.
People are now second-guessing themselves and saying we needed intelligence reports because we did not know what was coming. Turn on the news: The whole country knew where they were going and why they were going there. Their livelihoods were threatened. We were at the tail end of a pandemic, a pandemic in which they were treated like heroes for the first two years for delivering goods, crossing the border and putting their lives at risk.
In the dying days of this pandemic, as mandates were being lifted across Canada, what did our decide to do? He decided to divide Canadians, just like he did in the last election. Leading into that election, he said, “No, we do not need mandates.” He must have received some polling information that showed otherwise, and he decided to use this divisive weapon against his own people to divide Canadians for his political gain.
I will be voting against this motion because it is not right. It is not right to freeze people's bank accounts and it is not right to insult the hard-working Canadians who make up that convoy.
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this place to take part in debate, although I must say I am saddened that it is under the current circumstances. Last week, I put down my words very carefully on what my contribution to this debate would be, but last week is not this week. Today is not yesterday. I would ask, why are we still here? Why has the not revoked this massive overreach by his Liberal government? The streets are now clear and the trucks are gone, and as we have yet to vote on all this, all done without parliamentary approval, let us recap for a moment how we came to be here.
Trucking was not broken in Canada. For the past two years, truckers have successfully delivered the goods, so to speak. Where was the problem here? Why did the intentionally pick this fight? Why did he decide to fix a trucking problem that was not broken? Truckers did their job faithfully for two years without a mandate. The vast majority of truckers are fully vaccinated. A small number of truckers who drive truck alone in their cab were never at any time shown to be a public health risk. The Liberal government has produced zero evidence to suggest there is a risk, and now here we are.
We all know that the has poured fuel on the fire. I will not quote the nasty names he has used because I believe them to be unparliamentary. He has told the truckers that they hold “unacceptable views”, that they do not deserve to be heard, that they must be condemned. The Prime Minister succeeded. He drove people to come from all parts of Canada to Ottawa to protest largely against him and the actions of his government, and to send a message to him that they wanted to be heard. I believe all of Ottawa and indeed Canada heard their message. Some agree with that message. Others do not. That is what occurs in a democracy. We know when the Prime Minister sees a protest that he agrees with, he joins it. Now we know that when he sees a protest he does not agree with, he will use the most powerful law he has to silence it, because that is exactly what happened when he invoked the Emergencies Act.
I come from British Columbia. It is a beautiful province, but one where we have seen far more than our fair share of protests. As anyone from British Columbia will tell us, when the RCMP decides to move in and clear protests, they do so with surgical-like efficiency. Close to 900 protesters have been cleared from the Fairy Creek protests and arrested. In November, the RCMP moved in on and cleared a protest blockade against the Pacific LNG gas line. A remote region in rural British Columbia with many indigenous protesters was cleared by the RCMP in a single day. These are not observations; these are facts. Make no mistake. All of these protests were cleared under existing Canadian laws.
Let me ask this place a question. Can any of us name any protest that has occurred in Canada since 2015 that has not ended under existing Canadian laws? I do not believe any of us can because none exist. I was first elected to this place in 2011, and, indeed, during the majority years of that government, I lost track of how many protests occurred. Every single one was resolved under existing Canadian laws. Why does that matter? It is because the standard used to invoke the Emergencies Act is absolutely crystal clear. The Emergencies Act cannot be invoked unless the emergency “cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada”, full stop. However, the tried nothing else to de-escalate the situation before invoking the Emergencies Act.
That leaves a very awkward question on the table: Why is it that every other protest in modern-day Canadian history was cleared under existing laws and authority, but this protest required special laws, the Emergencies Act?
We all know, for whatever reason, that the Ottawa police were either unwilling or unable to do what other police forces in Canada have done. Also, let us not say it is due to the trucks. What Windsor police did in clearing the Ambassador Bridge only the week prior was done under existing laws, and it also involved trucks. Whatever the answer is to that question, make no mistake that an Ottawa policing problem is not a national crisis. We all know this.
I remind the House that all of the measures within the Emergencies Act must be met before the act can be invoked. It is not some, nor one. All must be met. Some members may not like that the law sets the standard, and the government is free to amend the law and members can support that or not. However, as it stands, the law has not been amended. All standards must be met before it is invoked by a government.
Every protest in the past 20 years has been resolved under existing Canadian laws. It not 99% of them, but 100% of them. The knows this, as does his . The Liberals therefore had to change tactics, using heated rhetoric and making serious claims, but without providing any data to back up those claims. This approach from the seems to be taken from the Adam Sutler character in the movie V for Vendetta: scare the people and use fear. That is what the Prime Minister is trying to do to justify what cannot be legally justified.
This past weekend we watched exactly what happened. There was no armed insurrection. There were no massive stockpiles of illegal weapons, explosives or incendiary devices found here in Ottawa. This protest was largely cleared in a single weekend much like every other protest is cleared in Canada: without using the Emergencies Act.
Why is this a different situation and why are we still here? Why is the Emergencies Act not being revoked? I am reminded that recently the member for gave a public statement. He knows the dangerous games the plays. This member had the courage to call out the Prime Minister's divisive tactics and politics of division.
Here is the problem with the politics of division. Politically, I suppose some would say that if we poll on an issue, pick a winning side and then demonize the losing side, we come away with more votes. The challenge with this approach is that when we create sides, we divide people and create winners and losers. That approach divides. It creates hate and animosity.
Indeed, we have heard the use nasty words against those who, with his policies, have been turned into losers. We heard the Prime Minister make a most ungraceful and undignified attack against a female MP from my party last week. Why would he do that? Is it really too much of an expectation that a leader of a G7 country cannot answer a question from a Jewish member of Parliament without suggesting she stands with people who wave swastikas? However, he refused to apologize. He refused three times. Even after a day of reflection, he still refused to apologize, but that is what this man has become since the election: bitter, angry, divisive and vindictive. I say vindictive because we are still here. The protests have been cleared. The only motive now to continue with the act would be to punish, to punish under the terms of the Emergencies Act, where there is no due process to protect the innocent from mistakes that may occur. Is this the Canada we want now, one that punishes people without fairness and without due process?
Let us also recognize that other countries are now openly mocking and belittling the actions of the . How will future Canadian governments condemn those nations for cracking down on their citizens when we are no better here? Canada used to be an example, a country known for its kindness to others, its compassion and its willingness to stand with others to fight against tyranny and oppression. Today, under the Prime Minister, we have become a nation increasingly divided whose citizens are fighting among themselves. There was a time in the past when the Prime Minister would apologize for his use of unparliamentary words in this place and would speak of sunny ways, but not anymore. We have gone from sunny ways to dark days.
What has become of the since the election? The comments directed by the Prime Minister to the member for were abhorrent. We cannot allow division to continue. If members vote for this act knowing full well that not all the conditions have been met, and knowing the protests have been cleared and the trucks are gone, they are basically authorizing an overuse and abuse and setting a very dangerous precedent in this process. They will in fact lower the bar that needs to be set high. We must do our job as parliamentarians, which means we must follow the law. If we do not, we are failing Canadians.
Madam Speaker, violence was their mode of operation; hate is what drove them; human life was called into question or altogether threatened; millions of dollars of damage was done to property, yet there was silence from the , and the media only spoke whispers several days later.
Meanwhile, 4,500 kilometres away on the other side of the country, a diverse group of Canadians gathered from all across. Some wore turbans and some wore toques. Some were in their seventies and some were not even able to walk yet. They gathered for one reason: to advocate for freedom. They gathered to advocate for what it is to be Canadian: true north, strong and free. These individuals were truckers, farmers, doctors, nurses, stay-at-home moms, students, teachers or social workers. I talked with them. I heard their story. I listened, because that is what a politician does who deeply cares about this country.
The took a bit of a different approach. He stigmatized. He antagonized. He turned a deaf ear. Some of these individuals drove big rigs; some of them drove Civics and some of them drove F-150s. Some of them were vaccinated three times and some of them were not vaccinated at all. However, they all were Canadians fighting for an ideal. Were they disruptive at times? Yes, indeed. That is the point of a peaceful assembly protesting something that people disagree with. It is allowed in this country, a democratic country. Were there a few bad actors? Sure there were, but they were quickly condemned and removed.
When we juxtapose this with the attack on the Coastal GasLink site at Houston, B.C., with damage to property and threat to human life, it becomes very clear that the 's decision to invoke the Emergencies Act in response to Ottawa is a massive overreach and purely punitive in nature. We know this, especially given the fact that we watched the border crossings at Windsor, Coutts, Surrey and Emerson be cleared without the Emergencies Act needing to be invoked. We know it even more today, when we see that the downtown core of Ottawa has been cleared out.
However, the insists that he will still move forward with invoking the Emergencies Act. Why? Is it necessary? I argue it is not. Again, if the Windsor border, the Surrey border, the Coutts border and the Emerson border were able to be cleared up without this over-exaggeration of power, then Ottawa could have been too.
There is something more that needs to be discussed here and that is what that threshold is for invoking the act. The Emergencies Act has never been used since it was first created in 1988. Its predecessor, the War Measures Act, was used three times: once in World War I, once in World War II and once for the FLQ crisis, where again, human life was taken and the country was really thrown into chaos. The bar is high, so for the to invoke the Emergencies Act when an assembly of people comes to protest with views that are different from his, one has to wonder why; why the overreach?
The one power the gets from this is the ability to freeze bank accounts. He has the opportunity to seize control of the monetary flow for those individuals who hold views different from his own. This is an abuse of power. We are talking about individuals who may have donated $10 or maybe a few hundred dollars to this cause. Simply because they had views that were different from the Prime Minister's, their bank accounts are frozen and they are unable to make their car payments, their house payments or put food on the table. Some of them are unable to take care of their children. Others are unable just to meet the basic needs of life.
It is a massive breach on these individuals, and it is simply for no other reason than the fact that these folks failed to fall in line. They questioned the government and they hold views that are different from the 's. Using the tactic of a schoolyard bully, he has decided to implement the Emergencies Act so that he can control, manipulate, dictate, be punitive and punish.
It should be highlighted that the federal government is utilizing national security tools that were designed to combat terrorism against Canadians who support protests. We must let that sink in for just a moment. The of our country is using laws that are normally used against terrorists, and he is using them against citizens of his own country who hold views that happen to be different from his own. That is extremely alarming. It is vindictive. One commentator said, “It's almost as if the cruelty is the point.”
It did not need to come to this. The reason we are here is that the decided to put a punitive measure in place. On January 15, he required that all truck drivers going across the U.S. border and wanting to return to Canada needed to be double-vaccinated. We are talking about individuals who were earlier declared as heroes, individuals who stayed in the cabs of their truck, aside from maybe refuelling or grabbing a quick snack at a gas station. These individuals have served our country in an incredibly heroic way, and then the Prime Minister made a decision to go after them and put restrictions in place. It was nonsense.
This started a movement of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who started to question the government, question the , question his motives, and fair enough, as they did not add up. Dr. Tam herself was saying that we needed to reassess the mandates that were put in place at that time. She herself was saying that we needed to learn to live with COVID, that we needed to return to normal.
The has turned a deaf ear, a blind eye and has refused to listen. I am not sure what his agenda is, but it certainly is not to serve this country well. It certainly is not in the best interests of Canadians at heart.
Before even knowing who was coming to Ottawa, he refused to listen. His tactics were mean-spirited and divisive in nature. He stigmatized. He antagonized. He traumatized. He went after these individuals telling them they were a fringe minority with unacceptable views. He damaged the unity of this country, pitting one region or one people against another. He crushed the human spirit.
One of my constituents wrote to me. She is an immigrant who moved to Canada about a decade ago. She now has three children and is married. She runs a small business and is a beautiful community participant.
It was mere months ago I filled out the paperwork to become a Canadian citizen. I desire to align myself with a nation I’ve come to love, to stand beside people who make it great, to cast a vote in the bucket of democracy. And yet, I am sickened by the increasingly pervasive narrative being spouted; one where rightness trumps charity...and good faith, and where ‘being Canadian’ is defined not by our humanity but by our political affiliations.
And here I am, awaiting news of my application status, while the Canada I thought I knew crumbles around me, not from Covid-but from the divisive and destructive language being used to define citizenship and belonging.
Further on she wrote:
But what am I saying yes to? A nation that speaks before listening, one that defines ‘being a good Canadian’ in a way that marginalizes everyone who doesn’t fit said description.
She concluded by writing:
I humbly ask that we take steps towards the Canada I first moved to-one where value isn’t gained its given-and given generously by the people who call it home. Because diversity of thought and conscience are greater markers of democracy than the alternative.
This is the deep, hard cry of so many Canadians across this country. We want a unified nation. We want a prime minister who listens to the fellow citizens of this great country. We want to move forward with strength. The has claimed that he wants the same, but in order to do that, it starts with him. He must trust and respect the Canadian people for the Canadian people to do the same. Unfortunately, he has chosen gamesmanship over statesmanship, and it is killing our country.
I urge this House to vote no to the punitive measures that are being discussed here today.
Madam Speaker, let me begin by wishing all Canadians a happy family day. Today is supposed to be a day for Canadian families to celebrate and enjoy being a family, with all the peace and prosperity that they deserve. Meanwhile, the chooses to be the sole architect of this crisis, which we have been talking about for the last few days.
We stand at a crossroads in the House today. It is by this motion, and no other, that this Parliament, and the men and women in the House of Commons today, will be remembered. During the First World War, Canadians saw the War Measures Act imposed for the first time. Under that act, more than 8,500 men, women and children of Ukrainian background were interned in 24 camps across the country. Many of them had been born in Canada.
Their rights, including the right to vote, were ignored by the government of the day, and Parliament and the people of Canada remained silent to those injustices. It was only in 2005, with the passage of the Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition Act, that some redress was made to the descendants of those who were abused by the government, acknowledging that what was done was wrong.
In early 1942, the government of Canada used the War Measures Act to intern more than 21,000 Japanese Canadians. They were held for the duration of the Second World War. Their homes and businesses were seized and sold to pay for the detention. Once again, Parliament and the people of Canada remained silent about the mistreatment of citizens. It was only in 1988 that the then prime minister Brian Mulroney apologized for this wrongful act by the Canadian government.
The last time the War Measures Act was used was during the October Crisis of 1970. The government of the day imposed it because of a perceived insurrection, which turned out to be much less of an insurrection than the government had imagined. Hundreds of Quebeckers were ousted from their beds in the middle of the night and held without a trial, only to eventually be released without apology. Their supposed crime had been to show support for an unpopular idea, which was Quebec's independence. The government of the day lumped them together with those who had committed the crimes, unable to separate the difference between beliefs and actions.
If that sounds much like what has happened in Canada over the past few weeks, that is because it is. The government does not seem able to grasp that it is possible to disagree with a policy and to protest against that policy without being dangerous to society, so it invoked the Emergencies Act. As former NDP leader Tommy Douglas famously remarked in 1970, it is like “using a sledgehammer to crack a peanut”. The government has failed to prove any justification for this action. In effect, it is using the most draconian piece of legislation at its disposal to fix a parking problem in downtown Ottawa.
Members of the government ask us to trust them on this matter. They tell us that their actions will remain consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They tell us that there are no plans to call in the army.
Pardon me for looking at the government's track record and taking those statements with a huge grain of salt. I am sure government members are sincere and believe what they are saying. Unfortunately, as we have seen, their actions are frequently quite different from the high ideals of their words, and it is by their actions that they will be judged, not by their flowery language.
I would challenge any member from the government side to explain how freezing the bank accounts, without a warrant, of persons who have not been charged with a crime is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Does the action apply only to those who have illegally parked their vehicles in downtown Ottawa? What about their families? Does it extend to those who have liked the “freedom convoy” on Facebook? How far will the go to silence those who disagree with his policies? We should just watch him.
We have all heard stories about the government's no-fly list, which prevents thousands of people with alleged terrorist connections from air travel. We all agree that such a list had a purpose. However, that list of names is just that. It does not include passport numbers, dates of birth or other information to better identify those who may not fly. That means we regularly hear of those who are banned from air travel because their names are on the list, but they are not the ones who are targeted. A five-year-old child with the same name as a terrorist had no redress when turned away at the airport.
Forgive me for wondering how we can trust the government to freeze the bank accounts of only those who have taken part in the Ottawa protest. It would be simple to arrest those on the scene. Instead, it is making it more complicated, and it is sure to make mistakes. Telling Canadians that the government respects the Charter of Rights will be cold comfort when it makes those mistakes and starts seizing the bank accounts of people who have no connection to the protests. Canadian citizens who have done nothing wrong will have the government seizing their assets, and they will have no redress.
Government members will tell us that this could not happen. I ask members to remember the no-fly list and ask themselves if they believe it.
Over the past week, I have received hundreds of phone calls, as I am sure is the case for every member in the House, not just from constituents, but also from other concerned Canadians. Some are angry at the state of our country. They do not understand why the federal government is not following the science in bringing an end to various mandates. They demand action.
Many more, though, are afraid. They are afraid of the direction they see Canada taking. They see division in the House of Commons and in the country. Many blame the for creating those divisions. Others blame politicians.
One woman I spoke with, a senior citizen, was in tears. She loves Canada. She is horrified at what we are becoming. After two years of the pandemic, she feels helpless. She is looking to Parliament to show leadership, and what she sees is a government attempting to divide Canadians instead of unifying them, a government that denies the right to peaceful protest for anyone who disagrees with its policies, a prime minister who is too afraid of others' viewpoints to even meet with them on Zoom.
I encourage all hon. members, as we cast our vote today, to consider their place in history, remember the abuses by governments past and ask ourselves if the situation at hand warrants the method being used by the government. Let us put aside our different political party identities and come together to vote as Canadians.
The nation is watching us now. Will we pretend that we are living in 1917, 1942 or 1970, or will we show that we understand that, in 2022, Canadians must not be abused on a whim of a prime minister? History will remember our actions.
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I have listened intently to the debate that has taken place in the House now for several days, and I come today with my intervention as a legislator, as a member of my community and as a mother.
Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl once said, “Freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.” The protection of our democratic institutions and the fabric of this country require for us to be responsible in this moment.
We can all agree that we came to this House to represent our communities and their rights under the Charter, which include the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and protest, and the right to be safe and secure in our homes and places of worship. These democratic freedoms that we cherish and enjoy as Canadians are exercised and anchored within the rule of law.
As a mother and member of my community, I know we are exhausted and frustrated by the devastating impacts of the pandemic. Many of us have experienced trauma, and others are grieving the loss of a loved one among the over 34,000 Canadians who have died due to COVID-19.
We can agree that the majority of Canadians, communities, families, mothers and fathers, health care workers, essential service workers and business owners, have come together and have been unified to support one another, to take care of each other these past two years, day after day, in the simplest of ways. They have done this by wearing masks, by maintaining health protocols and social distancing, and, yes, by getting vaccinated, including 90% of Canadian truckers.
All the tools that we as federal, provincial and municipal governments have utilized have been with only one primary goal in mind: to keep one another safe and healthy in this unprecedented global pandemic and to be united in a fight for the collective health and safety of one another and of our most vulnerable, the immunocompromised and the elderly.
We have come to agree that the convoy of people who came to Ottawa unimpeded to speak their minds over the duration of three weeks of occupation became an illegal blockade. It included members who intimidated residents, threatening their safety and security. Its leaders called for the overthrowing of this government and its replacement with leaders of their choosing, and they are affiliated with disturbing alliances to white supremacy, racism and, yes, anti-Semitism.
We can agree that Canadians were shocked, horrified and traumatized to see the memory and tragedy of the Holocaust diminished and weaponized to justify this insurrection, be it through yellow stars worn on coats or, as Canadians were pained to see, white supremacy flags brazenly flown with Confederate or Nazi flags by some in the crowd. The language of organizers in their social media feeds spouted hate and vitriol, demanding a removal of government time and again, and let us not forget that the tragedy of residential schools was trivialized to justify these illegal protests.
We can agree that all of these acts harm the fabric of our democracy, our governmental institutions and our unity. They also harm the trust we have in one another as Canadians.
We have been asked if the threshold was met to invoke the Emergencies Act. The test to justify this difficult decision is that there has to be a threat that is national in scope and that current tools are unable to address. We can acknowledge that the arrival of hundreds of truckers at each location across the country, blocking critical infrastructure, is a harm and a threat, be it to the borders themselves, impacting jobs and the livelihood of families, or in the form of the hundreds of millions of dollars of our economic trade that were impacted. It was a harm and a threat, on a more personal level, to the mother I spoke to, whose autistic child had to be taken to the emergency room due to the incessant honking of horns that were causing him to self-harm, or to the man, on one of the first nights of the occupation of Ottawa, who died in an ambulance because it could not get through.
We can agree that a degree of foreign funds, nearly 50% of the millions raised, was fuelled not by the desire to protest vaccine mandates but by a desire to drive white supremacist populist agendas that are a threat to our democratic institutions, and was potentially donated by foreign agents, political movements and individuals from beyond our borders. We must address this.
We can agree that the pervasiveness of these blockades has been national in scope, impacting borders and communities from across the country. These were not peaceful protests. This is clear by the weapons seized at the Alberta Coutts border and the 12 arrests of those charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
We have been asked if this is a first, second, third or last resort. If we are to examine the engagement and timelines of the very public sharing of information as this situation unfolded, we can agree on the following: Municipal and provincial jurisdictions were offered assistance and tools by this government on the first day these illegal blockades took hold. The government was clear in its regular and daily communication with local authorities on the resources it could provide if asked to do so.
What colleagues can and should understand is that as the federal government, we continued to do the work that our jurisdiction and authority allowed us to do. That is how we protected and respected the Constitution, the charter and the authority of all levels of government as a democracy, working together to evaluate capacity each and every step of the way during the illegal blockades.
The occupation of downtown Ottawa and the Windsor and Coutts borders posed a unique threat by the tactics used, be it the trucks themselves, the lethal weapons found or the tremendous economic impact.
Finally, I say this both as a legislator and as a mother, the horrifying images of the children who were put in harm's way time and again in the name of protest, who were sent as human shields, required this Emergencies Act to be implemented. We have an obligation to our constituents, our businesses, our communities, our families and yes, our children, to protect them from such harms.
To that end, in order to continue to build on these efforts, the federal government made the responsible and reasonable decision to ensure that this situation could be brought under control so Canadians could get their lives back.
We know that these tools were necessary. We know this from the interim chief of police for Ottawa, Steve Bell, who said so clearly in his statement last Friday: “With the new resources we've seen flowing in from our policing partners, the new tools both the province and federal government have put in place, and our new integrated command centre...I believe we now have the resources and partners to bring a safe end to this occupation.” They have done that, and they will continue to do so.
Without this act, law enforcement from Vancouver, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, York Region, Quebec and many other jurisdictions, including the OPP and the RCMP, could not have been mobilized in this manner to answer the call of Ottawa police for 1,800 officers to assist on the ground. We thank each and every one of them for their service and their swift action. It was professional, strategic and measured, and kept the peace while dismantling the illegal blockades and removing protesters, restoring the city of Ottawa back to its rightful residents.
This is a defining moment for law and order and for democracy to be upheld. It was not taken lightly, and the measures we have proposed are temporary, strategic and necessary to ensure that all levels of government and law enforcement from across Canada can work together for Canadians. There will be much discussion, inquiry and review of the implementation of these measures in the coming months, as there should be, for this is an unprecedented decision and a responsible, reasonable one.
It will also be a time of deep reflection on where we are as a country when white supremacy, populism and anti-Semitic, racist and anti-democratic action can rise so swiftly among protesters and mobilize others under a banner of freedom that was anything but.
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today. This evening I will be voting in favour of confirming the invocation of the Emergencies Act to restore peace, order and good government.
We are country of the rule of law, protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have heard a clear and urgent plea from my constituents and Calgarians alike. They want illegal and disruptive protests to come to an end. The actions of a small group of protesters have impacted working truckers, business owners and thousands of law-abiding residents.
We are making significant progress towards recovery from the pandemic. Unfortunately, the actions of a few have taken us in the wrong direction, away from freedom and towards disorder. Local authorities in both Alberta and Ontario were unable to restore order for weeks. They allowed protesters to cause massive economic damage, with border blockades alone disrupting millions of dollars in trade.
Last week, at our transportation infrastructure committee meeting, the impacts of that trade were highlighted. At Coutts, for 18 days, they were $48 million a day, for a total of $864 million in trade lost or deferred. At the Ambassador Bridge, for six days, there was $2.4-billion worth of impact to our economy. If we look at the impact on the Pacific Highway or at Emerson, there was a substantial cost to our economy, coast to coast. It was billions of dollars.
Then we should think about the people impacted: the small businesses whose goods and services have not come because of these blockades. Many small businesses in Calgary are saying it will take weeks or months to get the supply chain back to a normal working order, impacting their businesses' ability to open and provide goods and services to Calgarians and Canadians.
I have had the opportunity to speak to many truckers during this time. One of my constituents, Kabir, who lives in Calgary Skyview, was caught in the blockade at Coutts. He could not get back into the country. He could not pass that blockade. This had a tremendous impact on him. He was not able to deliver those goods and services, and make those deliveries of groceries and medical supplies, like many of his colleagues were doing in the province of Alberta. It also took him away from getting back home to his family after being away for 10 days. It disrupted his future job opportunities to deliver to other parts of the country and back into the U.S. That is one of the truckers from my constituency, and there are many more who have been impacted by these illegal disruptions.
My thoughts go out to the family who was on their way home to Medicine Hat to visit to their loved one. Their mother was ill and unfortunately passed away. Because of the blockade at Coutts, they were unable to make it home to see their loved one one last time. This had an impact on me. The impacts of these illegal blockades were financial, but they also had a cost to the lives and families of many.
On the Coutts border specifically, law enforcement agencies initially chose to negotiate and de-escalate the situation until they were faced with radicalized and heavily armed extremists, who were soon charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The police found guns, ammunition, body armour, and a threat to attack our law enforcement authorities.
These events underscored the urgency of action. Invoking the Emergencies Act had an immediate, positive effect on restoring order. Law enforcement agencies from across the country were mobilized and have restored order to Canada's capital.
Border blockades have been dismantled, allowing vehicles to move freely and maintain critical supply chains. Protest organizers have been arrested. It is also apparent that alt-right organizations participated in organizing these protest movements. These are forces that promote conspiracy theories and disinformation to radicalize individuals. Some of these radicalized individuals have shown up at my private residence to intimidate me and my family.
Our government is not taking this decision lightly. It has been debated intensely by elected members of Parliament in the House of Commons. Its impact will be reviewed closely by a parliamentary committee explicitly tasked with studying all aspects of this situation. Checks and balances are in place to ensure accountability.
I want to express my disagreement with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's decision to challenge the federal use of the Emergencies Act. On February 5, Alberta's minister of municipal affairs sent a letter to Canada's requesting federal assistance in removing obstructions from a provincial highway. Our government listened, and responded by including a provision in the Emergencies Act that orders tow truck drivers to move vehicles that are blocking roads. It is unfortunate that the premier continues to meaninglessly posture instead of putting the best interests of his province above his own political survival.
Our nation's capital was under occupation for more than three weeks. Non-state foreign actors have been actively engaged in undermining our democratic institutions. Canada was unprepared. I look forward to the continued vigorous debate in Parliament to investigate and hold responsible those who have caused direct and indirect damage to our security and to our economic interests.
: Qujannamiik, Uqaqtittiji
. I will be splitting my time with the member for .
During this debate, I experienced Ikiaqurmijaarniq. I spoke so much from the depth of my heart that my throat and voice were shaking. I am sincerely concerned about the risks and safety of Nunavummiut and Canadians, especially with the downplaying of what happened in the last three weeks and especially with the extremism we have seen being downplayed to “having a different view”.
Much of the debate surrounding the Emergencies Act is because of the illegal blockade that was dismantled this weekend, which stemmed from the same extremism. I thank the implementation of the Emergencies Act and law enforcement. I believe our democracy could still be at risk, especially with the awful protests that bordered on extremism that were going on yesterday in Surrey, British Columbia, and the ongoing issues, as described by my colleague, the member of Parliament for .
The intent of foreign interference is still in Canada. Some members have attempted to generate fear of the Emergencies Act and the implications of declaring it. Some have accused the NDP of aligning with the Liberals. I will remind the members that the NDP has been reluctant. Its members have sought clarity, have been principled and have sought to confirm that there will be accountability.
While I could share much more, I will only give examples of three instances of government interference in my life. I have an inherent mistrust in authorities and in law enforcement.
In the 1950s, my grandfather was asked to go from Pond Inlet to Resolute to teach the High Arctic relocatees from northern Quebec how to survive. The Inuit from northern Quebec were tricked by authorities to go on the C.D. Howe, a supply ship. They were told life and the environment would be better, and wildlife would be abundant. In reality, there are months of darkness in the winter, and there is minimal wildlife throughout much of the year. Little did they know they were sent there by the federal government in the name of Canadian sovereignty.
When I was four years old, I had frozen my hands. I do not remember the pain. What I do remember is the nurse telling my mom she would cut my fingers off. I remember my mom protecting me and arguing against the nurse. I think that was my first exposure to the awesome power of protest. Thanks to my mom I still have my fingers. I love my mom.
By 1981, when we lived in Igloolik, my dad committed suicide. Some years later, I learned that my grandfather, my dad's dad had committed suicide. From what I have heard, my grandfather was greatly respected. It is believed the toll of being responsible for the Inuit in Resolute caused him great grief. I always wonder if Canada’s policies on sovereignty had a role in this.
After my dad's suicide, my siblings and I were fostered, often separately. According to the government authorities, my mom could not cope well enough to raise us. Instead, the government saw it better to send us to different communities all over Nunavut. We did get to return to our mom many times.
Now, remember the map of Nunavut and how vastly orange I am keeping it. All communities are fly in and fly out only. Ultimately, I grew up in five of those communities at one time or another.
I think about how unoriginal my life is as an Inuk, as an indigenous person in Canada. I do not share this for members to feel sorry for me or the beautiful people I represent. I remind members why I have an inherent mistrust of government authorities and law enforcement.
Colonial laws dictated my childhood away from my loved ones. Despite that, I am here. I have spoken Inuktitut. My culture and Nunavummiut thrive. Here I am, now a duly elected member of Parliament for Nunavut.
In the face of this adversity, I am inspired by an Inuit song called Silatugami by Northern Haze, an Inuit rock band. Silatugami, translated, literally means “that who is wise”. James Ungalaq, the lead singer, was inspired by the calm in his friend’s voice. James was having internal turmoil, much like we are today. Silatugami speaks of the potential of the abuse of power and the fear of threats, extortion, deprivation and bullying. It is also a song of hope and calm for the future. This is the moment we are all in. We are all working for a better future. We need to be in a time of courage, of fearlessness and of willingness to learn.
When I think about the last three weeks, I think about the awesome privilege that so many Canadians are so used to. I know that Canadians can and will move beyond this pandemic.
Will the lives of all Canadians be impacted by this act? No. Am I concerned about its overreach? Yes. Is there anything we as legislators can do, if there is overreach? Yes. What level of oversight is there? It has the highest, which is parliamentary oversight. That is us in the House. Will there be accountability? Yes. Will I be willing to have the measures revoked if I see overreach? Yes.
With deep distrust of government interference, I know that the Emergencies Act is necessary to protect our democracy. There are checks and balances. The types of interferences in my life had no checks and balances. They were government overreach.
However, that is not what we are facing today. We are debating the impact of foreign interference in our democracy, which has been proven with the millions of donations that were allowed to infiltrate the minds of Canadians to break our domestic laws.
I have heard foreign interference influence members of Parliament and that deeply concerns me. It is why we must act with diligence to either the expiry of this declaration or hopefully sooner, when that foreign interference has been dealt with.
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for for perhaps one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard in the House. I certainly hope all members of this place have an opportunity to listen to the power of her words.
Last night one of my constituency offices was vandalized. I want to thank the members of my staff who have gone to clean up the mess this morning. They work hard every day to help people in our riding, because they care and want to see a better life for the people we serve.
I also want to thank the security folks in Campbell River who work all night to keep our streets safe and who contacted me last night to let me know. I deeply respect their work and dedication.
I want to thank all of the workers in this House who have driven or walked here during these unprecedented times to make sure that this place still works on a long weekend that is meant to be focused on their families. The House of Commons team shows up every single time, regardless of who is sitting in any seat in this House, and I admire them for it.
I am now in my seventh year of working in this place. I am a person who never wanted or planned to be a politician. I came here because, more than anything, I hate injustice.
I came here because I am a white girl who was adopted into an indigenous family, who at a very young age realized that how I was treated was different from the majority of my family. It took me years to understand that what I was seeing was racism and colonial systems that are everywhere in our country still today.
I learned time and again a very important lesson. I cannot participate in minimizing the voices of marginalized people. I cannot minimize any form of action that has any form of extremism at its roots. I take this very seriously because I know our planet's history and I know our country's history. When the majority is minimized, the bodies of marginalized communities pay. If I am not careful inside this white body, the bodies of my children, grandchildren and family are at risk, and I do not take that lightly.
Here we are and I am being very clear that I have heard people say they do not feel safe. They are the workers near the Ambassador Bridge, who watched their jobs become at risk because of the blockade. They were terrified when they heard folks in the U.S. ask why they should continue to partner with Canada when these kinds of things can happen. They have fought so hard to keep these jobs in Canada and know how fragile the relationship is.
They are the working people who are seeing the costs of their everyday expenses grow while watching their income stay the same or lessen, and just want enough to get by every day. They have been put in a position of constant worry that they will not be able to afford what they need to survive and they know they are not getting the help they need.
They are the young people who are scared because they know that the ability to purchase a home or even rent one is something they cannot imagine to be able to afford.
They are the citizens of Ottawa who live right where the blockade happened for three weeks and felt like there was no end in sight.
They are the citizens I saw while walking to this place who were being yelled at for wearing masks.
They are the people with mobility challenges who had vehicles blocking their way so they could not get to where they needed to be. I asked several vehicles to move just a couple of feet so they would have the right to transport themselves safely through their community. The responses I received were a very clear and sometimes very rude “No”.
They are the people in this community who heard fireworks set off in the middle of the night as they slept. The occupation continued night after night. Can members imagine the fear of waking up hearing that noise and not knowing where it was coming from?
They are the poor people who were charged with the attempted murder of the RCMP officers.
They are the people who were blocked from returning home at the Coutts intersection for days.
They are the journalists across our country who are now terrified, who have been spat on, yelled at and called “fake news”, after years of service in their field.
They are the nurses, doctors and health care workers who for the last two years have put everything on the line for Canadians. They have been working too much overtime, have been feeling overwhelmed, have had to tell their patients to wait even in some cases for life-saving supports because the pandemic has overwhelmed our health care system. They have been threatened and told not to go out in public wearing anything that shows their profession because it is not safe.
People are afraid and I feel that as I listen to our debate on this long weekend. I believe in and have participated in peaceful protests, protests that were full of anger and frustration at the issues we wanted to change, fix or see taken seriously by government. That is not what is happening across this country, and I also do not believe it is over.
We saw an occupation that became a complete undermining of our democracy and our social structures. The leaders of this occupation had an MOU that spoke about overtaking the government. They invited opposition parties and the Governor General to have a discussion about how a new government would look.
I will not minimize this. I simply will not do it. I may not agree with many components of the processes of our institutions. I believe, in fact, that there is a lot of work to do to decolonize our systems to address key issues, like systemic racism, ablism and white privilege, and how these institutions continuously leave out workers, the poor, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ2+ communities and people from BIPOC, Black, indigenous and people of colour communities. Even with that perspective, I will not minimize what it does to our communities when people do not respect the rule of law, when they flaunt their complete disregard for what a peaceful protest is and when they create a party on the street that does not respect the people who live where they are occupying.
Just yesterday when I was trying to walk to this place, I saw a business owner chasing two men out of his store with a stick. It was frightening. As I watched, I was trying to think of what I could do to help, but I also thought to myself that this is what happens when people disrespect the rule of law. When they set up bouncy castles and hot tubs in the streets and say, “Look how peaceful we are,” people become emboldened to act in a way that our social structures often prevent.
I will not minimize the fact that the lead organizers of this occupation are from groups of extremists who follow very clearly the beliefs of white supremacy. I believe there were many people out there who wanted to speak out about mandates and about their fear of the unknown and their future. I also know that the leaders were very clear about their agenda. That agenda scares me. I will not minimize it by saying there are just a few bad apples. I believe these people are very organized. I believe that they take advantage of people's fears and give people someone to blame with those fears.
This is where all of us as parliamentarians must look at history. Humanity sadly has a history of dehumanizing people from the communities I mentioned earlier. It is these people and these souls who often pay the most terrible price. I will not minimize the power of white supremacists and their ability to build fear. I will not minimize that the fear can become a weapon.
The NDP has used every tool at its disposal to get the federal government to act. We called for a debate specifically on the occupation. We moved a motion at committee to study the measures that keep money from coming from outside of our country to fund this occupation and make sure those dollars are all held to account.
We moved a motion to invite the U.S. ambassador to the foreign affairs committee to address concerns of the prominent U.S. political figures who are encouraging people to donate and support the convoy leaders. This was voted down by the Conservatives and the Liberals, with the Liberal member for saying that this is not an urgent issue, that we have too many more urgent things and she will definitely be voting against it. I simply disagree. I cannot imagine any other issue right now that is more urgent.
Here we are debating the Emergencies Act. I wish that all levels of government had worked together more efficiently, that members of all levels of government had not minimized who was coming to our nation's front door. Governing in whatever capacity a person has is not easy. I personally struggle often over the decisions I have to make in this place. This one has been very hard and it should be.
There are steps that all parliamentarians should be careful when taking. I wish I had heard a lot more thoughtful debate in this place. Sadly, there have been a lot of political shots taken, ones that further destabilize our democracy and our communities. On one side, we see the government dismissing legitimate fears and concerns from people who are afraid. On the official opposition side, people are stirring up fears and amping up dangerous rhetoric.
I will be voting yes. I will continue to take my duties seriously, with the great possibility of withdrawing my support at any moment.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in this historic debate. I will share my time with the member for .
Three weeks, a convoy of protesters arrived in Ottawa to begin an illegal occupation of our national capital. At times, the Conservative Party rallied to the cause, which was amplified by a number of extremists on social media and appeared to be funded in part by foreign donations.
Those illegal blockades then spread to the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, to the Coutts border crossing in Alberta and to other points across our nation. From that, we have seen supply chains disrupted, businesses shut down, workers forced to stay home and Canadians harassed in their own neighbourhoods. These blockades and occupations are illegal. They represent a threat to our economy, to our communities, to relationships with our key trading partners and to our international reputation.
Images of these illegal blockades are being broadcast around the world, images that are not representative of Canada, but are now affecting our global reputation. The blockades have massively impacted our supply chains and the availability of essential goods, and are putting at risk Canada's long-term economic prosperity. They have threatened our public safety and they are an affront to something all members in the House should dearly appreciate: the rule of law. This cannot and will not be allowed to stand in our country.
As the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, my focus is on ensuring that our post-COVID‑19 economic recovery is dynamic, robust and sustainable. I know we are positioned to prosper thanks to our resources, our talent and our extraordinary ingenuity, not to mention our stability, our trade relations and our respect for the rule of law.
That is why it is so concerning that at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, billions of dollars in goods did not cross the border when the illegal blockades took place. The blockades in Coutts, Alberta and Emerson, Manitoba meanwhile have affected approximately $48 million and $73 million in trade each day, respectively.
The situation here in Ottawa is of concern. We have all seen it. Downtown businesses have been forced to close, putting people out of work. The Rideau Centre mall, which we all know, as well as the businesses operating in it, just down the street from Parliament, is currently losing $3 million in business per day because it was forced to close due to harassment of staff and illegal actions from occupiers. These costs are real. They threaten businesses big and small, and they threaten the livelihoods of Canadian workers.
Canada is one of the world's principal economies. It relies on solid and secure supply chains to support our economy. However, because those supply chains are global, they are more vulnerable to risks and shocks. With the effects of the pandemic, as we have all seen, supply chains around the world have already suffered unprecedented pressure.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in disruptions in production and in shipping. We have seen that companies across the world are experiencing demand uncertainty, supply and logistical delays, and significant operation stoppages. The blockades and protests have added to the already heavy burden that Canadian businesses across our nation and citizens have been asked to manage during this pandemic. We cannot allow illegal blockades to hijack Canada's economic recovery and endanger the livelihoods of Canadian workers. That should be appreciated by all members in the House.
I would like to remind members of the House of some of the devastating effects of these blockades as we debate the confirmation of the declaration of the state of emergency under the Emergencies Act.
I can tell colleagues that auto sector manufacturers like GM, Stellantis, Honda and Ford had to either reduce or completely suspend manufacturing last week as a result of the Sarnia and Windsor trade corridor blockades. That should be of concern to all members of this House.
I can also point to Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO. He stated, “For every week the protests continue, it could start to cut first quarter growth by up to a couple tenths of a per cent”. That should be of concern to all members of this House. As we continue to reopen our economy and come out on the other side of the omicron wave, any reversal of our economic fortunes is an unnecessary blow to business owners and Canadians, who have already been through so much during this pandemic.
I know that every member of this House is concerned about the recovery, but we should all do what is right and make sure that there are no more illegal blockades in this country. The impact of these illegal blockades goes well beyond our borders, sadly. Canada has no closer friend and ally than the United States of America. It is a partnership forged based on geography, common interests, deep people-to-people connections, and strong and secure economic ties. It is a relationship we defended and protected when we renegotiated CUSMA, despite pleas from the Conservative Party for us to fold and capitulate, and it is one that we are defending here today, together.
During recent conversations with my international counterparts and private-sector stakeholders, it was obvious that both we and the United States recognized the importance of our integrated supply chains and the need to work together to ensure the free movement of goods between our two markets.
It is for these reasons, and others, that our government took the unprecedented but necessary step of invoking the Emergencies Act to restore public order and to protect our economic well-being. This is not a decision we take lightly, nor is it one that we ever wanted to make, but it is a step that is needed in order to give law enforcement authorities the tools they need to face this very unique situation in our country.
These measures are reasonable and proportionate. Canadians at large agree, because they are looking to us to ensure predictability and the rule of law, protect supply chains and restore our economic vitality. Goldy Hyder of the Business Council of Canada, for example, said, “we welcome this as a step toward ending illegal blockades across the country and upholding the rule of law.”
Perrin Beatty, of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, to cite one more example, said, “The government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act indicates how serious the threat to public safety and our economy from the ongoing blockades at various points in Canada has become.”
In conclusion, I would remind colleagues on the Conservative bench that it was in fact Perrin Beatty who first introduced the Emergencies Act in 1988 as the former minister of national defence for the then Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney. Perhaps the party that once portrayed itself as the defender of law and order, and as a champion of the free market, should re-examine how it is standing today.
We know who we are standing with on this side of the House. We are standing with workers at the Stellantis Windsor Assembly Plant, who had their shifts cut due to supply chain blockages. We are standing with small business owners in Ottawa, like those of Moo Shu Ice Cream and the local coffee shop Little Victories, which had to close their doors due to safety concerns. We are standing with Canadian truckers, who did their jobs and kept our shelves and our warehouses stocked during this pandemic. We are standing with Canadians who want these illegal blockades to end, and with the support of the House in today's motion, they will.
Madam Speaker, the question before us is whether we ought to confirm the government's declaration of an emergency pursuant to section 58 of the Emergencies Act. I have really struggled with the answer to that question, and I will get to that.
The first question we should all reflect on is a more basic one: How did it even come to this? Some Conservative colleagues have made the case that we could have ended the illegal blockades if only we had ended federal vaccine mandates, a Neville Chamberlain approach to pandemic management. Appeasing illegality is an affront to the rule of law, and we should put public health before politics.
Mandates will not be with us forever, and yes, we need to re-evaluate their use. However, it is also true that NACI has yet to confirm whether a third dose is properly a booster dose or should be considered part of the primary series. We should proceed cautiously as we lift measures that helped save lives.
Of course people are tired of pandemic rules. I was furious when Ontario's schools closed yet again to in-person learning in January. Protest is to be expected, and everyone has the right to peaceful protest, but that right does not extend to blocking highways and bridges. It does not extend to the intimidation, harassment, threats and the endless and deafening noise we have seen in our national capital. These are crimes, and they are quite obviously crimes.
We cannot paint every protester with the same brush, but we can judge people by the company they keep and we should never platform the language of treason, medical experiments, the Nuremberg Code or support for white supremacy, all of which we saw on our democracy's doorstep.
My genuine plea for those listening, for those who dislike the , for those who dislike public health measures and especially for those who sit in the Conservative caucus is to just remember that democracies are fragile. Encouraging lawlessness and emboldening anti-government, anti-democratic voices is a disservice to our country, no matter how much hatred they have for their opponents. If they do not stop fanning the flames, I am not certain we will be able to put out the fire.
Reflecting on my own side of the House, if we are so fearful of polarization, then we ought to be especially careful not to contribute to it ourselves. We are each sent here to represent our constituents, of course, but our obligations extend beyond any parochial interest. We are the trustees of our democracy; the rule of law; civil liberties; and peace, order and good government.
The illegal blockades represented an attack on these core ideas. The greatest criticism of how the blockades were removed is that they were not removed more quickly. The failure to enforce the law in Ottawa and the acquiescence to occupation emboldened similar blockades across the country at Emerson, Coutts and the Ambassador Bridge. Against a failed municipal and provincial response, a strong federal response was warranted. Therefore, I suffer no sympathy for those who shut down our border crossings and inflicted harm on the residents of Ottawa.
However, in the interest of disappointing everyone in my audience, I do have concerns with the invocation of the Emergencies Act in the circumstances. One constituent I trust a great deal wrote to me that extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. She is unquestionably right, but the law also remains the law, so let us turn to it for a moment.
Section 16 of the act defines a public order emergency as “an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada and that is so serious as to be a national emergency”. The shoe arguably fits, with this general definition in mind, but the act goes on to define two terms with great specificity.
First, and again in keeping with section 16, “threats to the security of Canada has the meaning assigned by section 2 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act.” In turning to the CSIS Act, we see four possible meanings: espionage, foreign influenced activities, activities akin to terrorism, and the violent overthrow of the government. These are incredibly high standards.
In the order in council, the OIC, the government relies on activities akin to terrorism or, as the said in the House, “We took measures that had been applied to terrorism and applied them to other illegal activity”. The specific section requires that there be activities in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective. It is obvious enough that the latter element is met, as warped as the ideological objectives may be, but have there been threats or acts of serious violence that themselves amount to a national emergency?
We know that dangerous and extremist elements are embedded within these protests and blockades. In Coutts, for example, we saw conspiracy to commit murder charges, with two of the accused connected to a far-right extremist group. We also saw the police seize a cache of guns and body armour, and in Ottawa we saw major intimidation of local residents and threats against the police if they enforced the law. As a parliamentarian, I acknowledge I am not privy to all of the information in the hands of the executive, and there may well be even more dangerous and coordinated elements at play.
It also strikes me that these serious threats are ancillary to the blockades, and it is the blockades that constituted the emergency. A national emergency, after all, is also a defined term within the act. It means:
an urgent and critical situation of a temporary nature that
(a) seriously endangers the lives, health or safety of Canadians and is of such proportions or nature as to exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it, or
(b) seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada.
There is an additional requirement that no other federal law be sufficient to meet the emergency as well. It is frustrating that the government has not clearly articulated which ground it relies on here, and it appears that it likes to rely on both. When we look at the illegal blockades and the negative impact they wrought on so many lives, I do think there is a fair argument that they meet the definition of a national emergency as long as we understand “capacity” to mean both whether a province could act in theory as well as the reality of their action.
Again, if the blockade is at issue, when we look at the threats of serious violence, the violence that must itself constitute the national emergency at issue, it is unclear how the definition is met. To meet the act's requirements, it seems apparent to me that we need to re-interpret “serious violence to persons or property” to mean economic harm. I am often in support of large and liberal interpretations of the law, but I am not convinced we want economic harm to trigger the act, unless we would be comfortable with the act being used in other instances of economic harm, the most recent one in memory being the railway blockades in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en.
This is all perhaps too lawyerly, too technical an objection. Other levels of government had failed to act or acted too slowly. Legal gaps certainly exist in addressing foreign funding and foreign influence operations and crowdfunding for illegal domestic activities, and the emergency measures seem to have worked.
It is also true, as I say, that I do not have all of the intelligence information that the executive has. My answer to that is a simple one, and I know many will find it inadequate, but contorting the application of the law in order to defend the rule of law is not a position I find comfort in.
Expert Wesley Wark wrote recently that the Emergencies Act was unusable because of the high threshold in section 2 of the CSIS Act. However, he subsequently came around to the idea of shoehorning the law to fit, because of his perception of the nature of the threat and the missing response from other levels of government.
Expert Leah West recently wrote:
As someone who fervently believes in the rule of law, I’m desolated by what we’ve witnessed this month: a failure to enforce the law by 2 levels of government created a crisis that the 3rd had to contort the law to end.
That is a fair summation.
Now, whatever one thinks of the legal contortion, and the ends may well justify the means and the courts will weigh in on the law, let us return to the role of Parliament.
In the coming months, we will need to address the shortcomings in the laws, perhaps to better protect critical infrastructure and most certainly to better follow the money of foreign influence operations and crowdfunding for illegal activities, but with proper due process. Assuming the threshold question is met here, it is still not at all clear to me whether the government continues to need the ability to freeze bank accounts without due process, if it ever did. Usefulness and effectiveness are very different standards as compared with necessity and proportionality.
Now, where does it leave us for tonight’s vote on the invocation of the Emergencies Act and section 58?
Putting aside my concerns around the threshold or due process, the effect of section 58 is that a yea vote extends emergency measures while a nay vote simply revokes the powers as of the day of the negative vote. A nay vote need not mean impugning the actions of the government over the last week. Whatever one thinks of the necessity and proportionality of the emergency powers at the time they were invoked, whatever one thinks of the threshold that triggers the act in the first place, the question before us is whether the powers remain necessary and proportionate to the circumstances today.
I appreciate the federal leadership over the last week. This is not the War Measures Act, as this particular legislation highlights the role of the charter and provides for a significant amount of independent and parliamentary scrutiny. However, I am skeptical that the strict legal test was met for the act's invocation, and I am not convinced that the emergency measures should continue to exist beyond today.
I would vote accordingly but for the fact that it is now a confidence vote. My disagreement, the disagreement I have expressed here, does not amount to non-confidence, and I have no interest in an election at this time.
Madam Speaker, I feel nostalgic as I rise this afternoon to participate in the debate on the Emergencies Act.
I remember when I first arrived in Parliament in February 2006, bright-eyed and full of hope. To me, Parliament represented everything that was good: freedom, democracy and mutual respect. In the spring of 2006, on the lawn in front of the Peace Tower, there were young kids playing soccer, teens throwing frisbees, and young couples holding hands.
Canada was a peaceful country. Canadians had put their trust in a Conservative government with a strong leader, the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, and a talented team determined to make this country stronger, more stable and more united.
This was a government that took responsibility and worked hard, every day, on behalf of all Canadians. The country was safe, and there was a sense of confidence in the government. No dream was too big. Our country was the envy of the entire world. We were a country filled with promise, opportunity and a dream, the dream of enabling our children and grandchildren to prosper and earn a good living.
It is now 2022, and I no longer recognize my country, my Canada. Since the Liberal Party came to power, Canadians and Quebeckers have become tired, stressed and disillusioned. They have lost confidence in this clumsy, intransigent government whose respect for and defence of fundamental rights leave something to be desired. They feel a collective disappointment in what is currently going on.
The government wants to invoke the Emergencies Act just because some Canadians were simply asking to speak to the . These are proud, patriotic Canadians who are worried about their future. They simply would like to have a frank discussion and to see the government release a well-formulated plan to improve the situation. These people were only asking for a show of leadership. They wanted to feel that there was a captain at the helm of our country. These people travel the roads day and night, all year long, to deliver food and essential goods to contribute to our well-being. All they needed was support from government.
This government is doubling down on its incompetence. We are all living in a climate of widespread uncertainty. This winter has been very hard. The coming spring holds great uncertainty. What will the summer hold, and what awaits us in the fall, as far as the pandemic is concerned? I wish for a return of hope, the hope that the Conservative team, with its new leadership, will be ready to replace this ineffective, incompetent and worn-out government.
This weekend is a dark chapter in our history. How do we explain this to future generations? How can I explain to my five grandchildren whom I adore—my little Maéva, my little Béatrice, my little Loïc, my little Delphine and my little Arthur—that men and women who were well intentioned, but desperate and too determined, were removed using intimidation and violence, right here in our democratic and peaceful country? This is not the Canada I want to leave as a legacy. There are no winners. We are all losers today.
I do know, however, that all is not lost. We still have the hope and strength to recover from these crises and the unforeseen events that are yet to come. Canadians from coast to coast to coast are going through a difficult time, but if we work together, it will make us stronger, more united and more ambitious.
I think of our Olympic athletes who made us proud over the past two weeks. I think of all the hard-working Canadians in our health care system, and those who go above and beyond for their families and for a better life. I think of all the opportunities we have here in Canada to make our mark and succeed.
We need to remain optimistic. Let us be strong. Let us all be united and stand in solidarity to build the Canada of tomorrow, despite all of the challenges and obstacles in our path and despite the inevitable consequences of having a Liberal government that made poor choices that will catch up to us sooner or later.
Together, we have everything we need to regain confidence in our abilities, to prove to ourselves that anything is possible, to heal our wounds, and to regain the strength and determination that typify all those who defend our freedoms and live in this big, beautiful country full of promise.
As of today, in the House, we all need to make a commitment so that history does not repeat itself. We need to commit to talking to our constituents, explaining to them the path that we should follow to continue with our social initiatives, working to rebuild their confidence in their elected officials, and working to give them back their faith in the future by doing something as simple as listening and showing empathy. We have a duty to talk to each other, respect each other and understand each other.
Over the past few days, I got a lot of emails and calls from people who asked me to be their voice in Parliament, to get things moving, as they said. I sensed their impatience and felt all of the responsibility that comes with the fact that they put their confidence in me to represent them. I thank them for their kind words and their wise and inspiring advice.
I will carry the torch as I humbly represent my constituents and make their lives better this year. I have shown my colleagues all the hope that I have, but I have reservations about fulfilling my hopes under the current government. I am a man of faith and conviction, but I am also a realist, as are Canadians who are no fools.
Since being elected in 2015, the Liberal government may have initially responded to a certain need for freedom, a renewed desire for feminism, a new freedom to smoke marijuana and to be whoever we want, however we want, but let us admit that we are now seeing the consequences of the Liberals' shortcomings. Experts will tell us the full implications, but for now, an entire generation has lost its footing, its roots and its social identity. Sad to say, all this harping on our differences has cost us our unity, our common sense of duty and sharing, our consideration for the needs of the most vulnerable and needy. In many respects, the pandemic has shown us that unfortunately, many have abandoned their roots and those who brought them into the world. That is so sad.
It gets worse. Some people have no idea what is going on. Some pretend they do not know. Many are afraid to contemplate a future in which the Liberal Party has legalized hard drugs and prostitution, as promised in their platform. Some tell themselves it will be okay because we will know what our children and grandchildren are consuming and girls and women will get better treatment. The reality of life on the streets has not changed on the black market. We will witness the spectacle of a society with more and more problems related to mental illness and crime, because the two go hand in hand. We should expect to see more violence. This situation is being managed by a clown, if I may say so, but the fact is, this is just a taste of what may await us.
When I am back in the country, where I was born, where life is good, I should be living my life to the fullest, but I cannot be at peace knowing that many people will suffer the consequences of this Prime Minister's disastrous choices and that all his cronies will use his immoral policies to fatten their bank accounts.
We were born free. We were living in a free and economically prosperous country—