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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 037

CONTENTS

Monday, February 28, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 037
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, February 28, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayer


  (1105)  

[English]

Revocation of the Declaration of a Public Order Emergency

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) and subsection 61(1) of the Emergencies Act, I am tabling, in both official languages, the proclamation revoking the declaration of a public order emergency.
    I ask that these documents be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, pursuant to Standing Order 32(5).

[Translation]

     Before proceeding, I would like to draw the House's attention to an unusual situation.

[English]

    Members will note that a motion for revocation of the declaration of a public order emergency was filed with the Chair on February 21, in accordance with subsection 59(1) of the Emergencies Act. When it was filed with the Chair, the motion respected the criteria for being put on notice and was admissible. However, the declaration of a public order emergency was revoked by proclamation on February 23, 2022, between the time the motion was filed with the Chair and the time the House returned.

[Translation]

    As we have seen in recent days, the act provides various control mechanisms allowing Parliament to confirm, revoke and continue a declaration of emergency. The primary vehicle of parliamentary control is a debate culminating in a decision taken on one of those three actions.

[English]

    The motion filed with the Chair is expressly to revoke the declaration of a public order emergency, as of the date on which the motion would be adopted, even though the declaration is no longer in effect. Since there is no longer any reason for the motion, it has become null and void. The Chair thus orders that the order for consideration of the motion be discharged and that the motion be dropped from the Order Paper.

[Translation]

    I thank members for their attention.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[Translation]

     The House will soon begin Private Members' Business for the first time in this Parliament. I would therefore like to make a brief statement to remind all members about the procedures governing Private Members' Business and the responsibilities of the Chair in the management of this process.

[English]

    As members know, certain constitutional and procedural realities constrain the Speaker and members insofar as legislation is concerned. One such procedural point concerns whether or not a private member’s bill requires a royal recommendation. The Speaker has underscored this issue numerous times in past Parliaments.
    As noted on page 835 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition:
    Under the Canadian system of government, the Crown alone initiates all public expenditure and Parliament may authorize only spending which has been recommended by the Governor General. This prerogative, referred to as the “financial initiative of the Crown”, is the basis essential to the system of responsible government and is signified by way of the “royal recommendation”.

[Translation]

    The requirement for a royal recommendation is grounded in section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867. Its language echoes Standing Order 79(1), which reads:
    This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.
    As a result, any bill proposing to spend public funds for a new and distinct purpose, or effecting an appropriation of public funds, must be accompanied by a message from the Governor General approving the expenditure. This message, known formally as the royal recommendation, can only be transmitted to the House by a minister of the Crown.

  (1110)  

[English]

    A private member's bill that requires a royal recommendation may be introduced and considered right up until third reading on the assumption that a royal recommendation will be provided by a minister. However, if none is produced by the conclusion of the third reading stage, the Speaker may not put the question for passage at third reading.
    Following the establishment or the replenishment of the order of precedence, the Chair has developed a practice of reviewing items so that the House can be alerted to bills that, at first glance, appear to infringe on the financial prerogative of the Crown. The aim of this practice is to allow members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied or not by a royal recommendation.

[Translation]

     The order of precedence having been established on February 9, 2022, I wish to inform the House of two bills which preoccupy the Chair. These are: Bill C-215, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (illness, injury or quarantine), standing in the name of the member for Lévis—Lotbinière; and Bill C-237, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act, standing in the name of the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel.
    I would encourage members who would like to make arguments regarding the requirement for a royal recommendation with respect to these bills, or with regard to any other bill now on the order of precedence, to do so at an early opportunity.

[English]

    I thank all the members for their attention.

Permanent Residency for Temporary Foreign Workers

    That, in the opinion of the House, the government should develop and publicly release within 120 days following the adoption of this motion a comprehensive plan to expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers, including international students, with significant Canadian work experience in sectors with persistent labour shortages, and such plan should incorporate the following elements:
(a) amending eligibility criteria under economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels;
(b) examining evidence and data gathered from recent programs such as Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathway, Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), Rural and Northern Immigration Program (RNIP), and Agri-Food Pilot, and Provincial Nominee Process (PNP);
(c) incorporating data on labour market and skills shortages to align policy on immigrant-selection with persistent labour gaps;
(d) assessing ways to increase geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities, as well as increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec;
(e) identifying mechanisms for ensuring flexibility in immigration-selection tools to react quicker to changes in labour market needs and regional economic priorities; and
(f) specifically considering occupations and essential sectors that are underrepresented in current economic immigration programs, such as health services, agriculture, manufacturing, service industry, trades, and transportation.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to members today regarding my private member's motion, Motion No. 44, on expanded pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers.
    I have to say that it came as quite a surprise to be chosen first overall in the private members’ business lottery last fall. In fact, I was in the government lobby when the member of Parliament for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne came in and said I was number one. Then everyone under the sun started yelling and calling my family to tell them that I won the lottery. Anyhow, my wife is still waiting for the cheque to arrive and I think she will be waiting for some time.
    I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all those individuals and organizations that reached out and shared their important ideas for possible bills and motions with me. I did not take this decision lightly, and I hope that this motion will make a meaningful impact in the lives of families and communities, not just in Surrey Centre, but across the country from coast to coast to coast.
     Motion No. 44 would address ongoing challenges with our immigration system, filling critical gaps in our labour market by creating more accessible pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers. Since I was elected in 2015, a constant theme in my office has been seeing employers in need of employees. Employers from a wide variety of sectors, including agriculture, transportation, manufacturing and more, are desperate for employees to fill persistent gaps in our labour market.
    I wanted to do something that helps the Canadian economy and our small and medium-sized businesses fill employment gaps and live up to Canada’s reputation as a country with a nation-building immigration policy. The goal of our immigration system is to support economic growth by bringing people to Canada.
    Canada’s population is aging and domestically we have a low birth rate. Some estimate that by 2030 our population growth will come exclusively from immigration. We are already seeing evidence of this with statistics from 2018 and 2019, which show that immigration was responsible for the employment growth across the country. Currently, immigration accounts for almost 100% of Canada’s labour force growth and 75% of Canada’s population growth, which is mostly in the economic category.
    One thing is clear from my experience as a member of Parliament over the last six years: Canada needs workers and Canada needs immigration. By making permanent residency more accessible to more individuals who have devoted time and energy and made sacrifices for the benefit of our communities and our economy, we will help our country flourish and grow.
    Our government, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and IRCC work hard to address the challenges faced in our immigration system. With the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, those challenges were exacerbated. However, despite the difficulties we faced and continue to face in this pandemic and rapidly changing world, we have seen improvements and increases in our immigration numbers.
    Last December, IRCC announced that we had surpassed our target of welcoming 401,000 immigrants or new permanent residents in 2021 as part of the 2021–23 immigration levels plan. This is the highest number of newcomers welcomed to Canada, surpassing the previous record set in 1913.
    What is the temporary foreign worker program? I am sure most members in this chamber are very familiar with the temporary foreign worker program through work in their constituency offices. The temporary foreign worker program is an important and essential part of Canada’s immigration system. It allows Canadian employers to open temporary jobs to foreign workers when Canadians are unable to fill the positions.
    My constituency office in Surrey Centre receives a staggering number of these files each year. My team estimates that we work on an average of 250 to 300 temporary worker files annually. Many of these requests are from local businesses and employers who are desperate to fill persistent labour shortages in our community.
    Employers wishing to hire temporary foreign workers go through a rigorous process of completing a labour market impact assessment, also known as an LMIA, to find out the potential impact that temporary foreign workers would have on the Canadian labour market. The LMIA consists of assessing the regional and occupational labour market information and the employers’ efforts to recruit and advertise for the position, as well as working conditions, wages, labour shortages and the transfer of skills and knowledge to Canada.

  (1115)  

    Canada approved 550,000 temporary foreign worker applications in 2017. Despite this seemly large number of individuals coming to Canada each year as TFWs, it is not enough, and we need to do more to find employees to fill job vacancies.
     According to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration’s June 2021 report, “Immigration Programs to Meet Labour Market Needs”, there are several sectors and regions in Canada experiencing labour shortages. Immigration policy, as it stands, is not meeting the needs of the labour market. Health services, agriculture, manufacturing, service industries, trades and transportation are particularly vulnerable to being under-represented in our current economic immigration programs.
     The COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the beginning months, exposed the delicate nature of our temporary foreign worker programs. Thousands of TFWs stepped up to make sure our seniors received care, trucks kept moving, grocery stores were stocked and restaurants stayed open. Many faced delays renewing their permits. They were uncertain of their status and uncertain if they would remain employed. However, they remained steadfast and helped to keep our country moving and functioning.
     In its report, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration urged IRCC to make more accessible pathways to permanent residence available in order to prevent the abuse of foreign workers with the precarious status of out-of-status individuals.
    Temporary foreign workers are hard-working individuals. They face the risk of exploitation and challenging work environments, and are important contributors to the communities they live in. Unfortunately, for all the risk they face, and the hard work and sacrifices they make for our community and economy, they do not receive adequate reward for their efforts, in my opinion.
     Another persistent obstacle faced by temporary foreign workers and their employers includes the need to renew every two years. This means that employers and workers have to go through the process frequently. Employers must make new LMIA applications and advertise extensively. Once they receive approval, which can take months, they have to get the employees to apply for new work permits, which takes months again, adding to uncertainty and stress as many TFWs do not know if they have medical benefits or whether their children can attend school until their approvals are processed. This process is repeated several times, as those who this motion wishes to address have no pathway to permanent residency.
     TFWs also face challenges to qualify for permanent residency. Despite their valuable contributions to our communities and economy, and great employment records over a number of years working in this country, obstacles like a lack of higher education and low language testing scores put TFWs at a disadvantage. This can be more frustrating for temporary foreign workers and their families as their language and skills are sufficient for the work they do, but not enough to grant them permanent residency. They may have working language skills, but not a high enough IELTS score. They may have a class one driver’s licence to drive long-haul trucking, but only a grade 12 education and therefore may not meet the requisite point score. Imagine the frustration of both the employee and employer when a person is good enough to do a job, but not good enough to become a permanent resident of this country.
    Many of the industries I have mentioned today fall under NOC levels C and D. This is the national occupational classification system, which classifies jobs based on the type of job duties and the work a person does. NOC level C jobs are intermediate jobs that usually require high school and/or job-specific training, such as long-haul truck drivers or food and beverage servers. Level D consists of labour jobs that usually give on-the-job training, such as fruit pickers, cleaning staff and oil field workers.
    NOC levels C and D provide some options for pathways to permanent residency. During the pandemic, our government introduced the temporary residence to permanent residence, TR to PR, pathways. These were created to help admit immigrants during the pandemic. Alternatively, NOC level C and D recipients can apply through the provincial nominee program, which allows Canadian provinces and territories to create their own immigration programs tailored to their economic and population growth strategies. There are also a variety of other regional and industry-specific programs, such as the agri-food pilot and the rural and northern immigration pilot program.

  (1120)  

    These pathways exist, but we need to do more. We need to add immigration programs that are going to meet our present and future economic needs. Thinking about the pandemic and the challenges Canada faced to get workers into the agriculture industry in the early months, we need to work towards creating a more agile immigration system that can respond quickly to changing situations.
    When we look more closely at individual industries, such as the agriculture industry, for example, we can see the real strain that labour shortages are creating. This year, I saw blueberry farmers who normally hand-picked a large portion of their berries forced to machine-pick their crops as there was a huge shortage of farm workers.
    Similarly, the heat wave that swooped over B.C. ripened cherries from southern B.C. to the Okanagan at exactly the same time, causing a massive labour pinch. Everyone needed workers at the exact same time. Processors had to increase their workforce due to the increased demand, however with COVID travel restrictions, it became difficult to get much-needed workers in a timely manner.
    The agri-food pilot was introduced more than three years ago. To be eligible, individuals require at least 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in an eligible occupation and an English or French language proficiency of at least a CLB level 4, as well as a high school education.
    The agri-food industry is more than just food production. It includes all aspects of getting food from the field to our tables, and includes delivery and sales, which are a big part of this $111 billion a year industry. This is more than 6% of Canada’s GDP. It also creates 2.3 million jobs.
    Keeping all of this in mind, with my private member’s motion No. M-44, expanded pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers, I am asking that should this motion be adopted, our government develop and publicly release a comprehensive plan to expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers within 120 days. This should include international students with significant work experience in sectors with persistent labour shortages.
    I ask that the eligibility criteria be amended under the economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various levels. I am also asking that language requirements be relaxed. These workers have been able to conduct their work in a manner satisfactory to their employers and Canadian workplace safety standards; therefore, they should be considered sufficient to be permanent residents of Canada.
    This plan should also examine evidence and data gathered from recent programs such as TRPR, the Atlantic immigration program, the rural and northern immigration pilot, the agri-food pilot and the provincial nominee program. It should also incorporate this data on labour markets and skills shortages to align policy on immigrant selection with persistent labour gaps. These programs and data will provide important region- and industry-specific data to align policy with the diverse needs across our country to ensure appropriate geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities. We are a country of not only geographic diversity but also linguistic diversity. This plan should also find ways to increase francophone immigration across Canada.
    While we continue to upgrade our immigration system, we have a lot of work to do keep up with the demand. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed shortcomings in our ability to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing world. That is why identifying mechanisms for ensuring flexibility in our immigration selection tools to react more quickly to labour market needs and regional economic priorities is important.
     Finally, I am asking for our government to consider specific occupations and essential sectors that are under-represented in the current economic immigration programs, such as health services, agriculture, manufacturing, the service industry, trades and transportation.
    We know the growth and stability of our communities and economy rely on the work and dedication of immigrants coming to this country. We need to continue to create mechanisms in our systems to ensure that Canada is an attractive and accessible place for temporary foreign workers to call home.
    I hope I can count on members' support for Motion No. M-44, expanded pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers. I look forward to the remainder of the debate today.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for Surrey Centre for raising what I believe is a very important subject. He mentioned during his remarks about 250-300 LMIA temporary foreign worker cases. My riding is very similar to his in that respect.
    One of the big concerns, when those applications come to my office, is the reality of abuse with foreign workers. Many of them have to pay their employers for applications the employers should be paying for under law. That is a real concern.
    Under the motion, would it be the will of the member opposite that, moving forward, future foreign workers apply directly to the Government of Canada or through an employer?
    Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue. LMIA abuse has been persistent and we have all seen it, in particular in our regions. There are related mechanisms whereby employees can complain and get an open work permit if their employers are abusing them, misusing their funds or misrepresenting their salaries. They have other ways to contact CBSA, and we have made it more flexible. The agency that governs all consultants has been revamped to be a government-regulated organization and given good teeth so it can go after that. We need to give more education to a lot of these temporary foreign workers so that they know those rights and they avail themselves of those rights.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, the media, in Quebec in particular, has reported a very high rate of rejection—up to 80%—for temporary permit applications from francophone African countries. Ostensibly, the government is concerned that these people may want to stay in Canada, so it does not want to give them temporary residency. Anglophone colleges, however, are advertising that they can facilitate access to permanent residency.
    I think the Department of Immigration really needs to work hard to make sure that it stops discriminating against francophones when it grants temporary study permits.

[English]

     Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, it is very important that the system be fair, and that we have people from both official languages who are applying to come into Canada to work be able to get that temporary foreign worker permit status and get a pathway to immigration.
     That is why I have added, in my motion, francophonie populations even outside of Quebec. The reason I say “outside of Quebec” is because Quebec has its will to govern and accept immigrants according to the way it wants. I would like other pockets, such as in Edmonton and on the Lower Mainland, where there are significant francophone populations, also to have the ability to have workers come from that. I hope that those high-refusal rates are turned around and changed for the better.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Surrey Centre for his motion. As he knows, part of the problem with our immigration system is that, over the years, Canada has changed the permanent immigration stream for economic workers to only high-skilled workers. The reality is that Canada needs the full range of workers. As we learned in the COVID period, many of these workers are, in fact, essential. They put food on our tables and support our community and our economy.
    To that end, would the member support an amendment to his motion? I would like to propose:
    That the motion be amended: (a) by adding after the words “comprehensive plan to expand” the following: “the economic immigration stream to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs”; and (b) in paragraph (f), by adding the word “caregivers” after the words “health services”.
    Mr. Speaker, I have worked with the member for Vancouver East extensively for almost four years on the citizenship and immigration committee. She has worked very hard and passionately.
    I would be more than happy to accept the amendments. We need to have pathways for all temporary foreign workers to get permanent residency in Canada, including caregivers.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon colleague from Surrey Centre, first and foremost for bringing forward this motion, and also to congratulate him on being number one on the list. It is a rare win, so I wish him big congratulations. Most importantly, I thank him for bringing such a thoughtful bill forward.
    Even before the pandemic, essential sectors in Canada's economy faced a labour shortage crisis. The agriculture, transportation, food processing, and hospitality and tourism sectors are all still dealing with gaps in their workforces. These are vital industries for our recovery, and all of them have faced hit after hit: rising inflation, ongoing COVID restrictions and the historic Liberal-made backlog, with nearly two million people stuck and waiting to finally have their cases processed.
    Looking forward, attracting new and skilled workers to come to Canada and eventually become permanent residents is key to recovery and growth for Canada. In the fall of 2020 I, along with witness Raj Sharma, an immigration lawyer, recommended at the citizenship and immigration committee that the government create a pathway for temporary residents to become permanent residents. With too many people stuck in the immigration backlog, providing this pathway would be a more efficient way of processing cases.
    Temporary residents are already 50% of the way through the bureaucratic maze of Canadian immigration. This is also a very key Conservative principle, which is that since these people are already 50% processed, it would take fewer resources to make them permanent. Another reason this makes sense is that temporary residents have experienced living and working in Canada, and they are adjusting to the diverse experiences and opportunities our country offers.
    I also want to note that the temporary residents here on work permits are also the ones who were transporting goods and medical supplies throughout the pandemic. They worked on farms and processing plants to help keep food on our tables. They work tough jobs and often get little thanks for what they do.
    During the first wave, I remember hearing about truckers who drove across the country with almost nowhere to stop to use the bathroom, yet they kept rolling to deliver supplies, and that kept our economy running, our hospitals stocked and our plates full. The positive impact of temporary foreign workers on our economy is immense. They mostly do the jobs everyday Canadians do not want to do.
    We have seen that even with high unemployment throughout the last couple of years, many sectors that rely on temporary foreign workers were left with massive labour shortages. This motion is a step in the right direction, but we need a concrete plan now. Hotels, tourism companies, restaurants and Canadian communities are already preparing for the summer. They need to know if they will have the workers they need to meet the tourism demand in Canada. This is a significant concern, not just because of the historic Liberal-made backlog at IRCC but also because of the collapse of the LMIA process for temporary foreign workers.
    Employment and Social Development Canada is also failing to modernize, adapt and prepare for the future of immigration in Canada. Just like IRCC, ESDC continues to be stuck in its ways. At the immigration committee last spring, we made recommendations for those departments to reform the LMIA process. Unfortunately, so far none of those recommendations has been acted upon. We heard testimony about agriculture operations submitting LMIA applications 18 months before they needed the workers. Unfortunately, those businesses would not have the labour that they needed.
    My colleagues and I have seen first-hand how the LMIA process and the IRCC backlog have affected temporary foreign workers and Canadian employers. Across Canada, TFWs, temporary foreign workers, who had applied for extensions to work permits have had their LMIAs stuck in processing. Instead of IRCC communicating with ESDC, asking if workers and employees had ongoing applications, immigration officials gave 90-day notices telling workers to leave the country.
    Today, many jobs TFWs work are not seasonal. Food processing plants need workers year-round; greenhouses and livestock operations are 12-month operations; and even some hospitality jobs require workers to be here throughout the winter. In a time when we are facing a labour shortage crisis in Canada, we cannot allow ourselves to think about temporary solutions.
    That is why we need a pathway, a way to end the cycle of bureaucratic mix-ups and massive backlogs. If temporary residents are given a step-by-step program, they can plan their lives accordingly, and so can businesses. Canada needs to attract labour to this country. We need the skill. We need the talent.

  (1135)  

    I quickly want to address the TR to PR pathway the government created in response to the recommendations witnesses and I made in the fall of 2020. I want to make it clear that any pathway to PR for temporary foreign workers should not follow that example. We heard from many applicants about how much of a mess the process was.
     IRCC did not release the application instructions in advance when the portal opened up last spring, which left people scrambling to get their documents in order and book a language test at the last minute. Those language tests booked up extremely fast, and most English classes could not handle the load put on them. What is worse is that immigration consultants and lawyers could not submit applications on behalf of temporary residents, which meant that those workers had to take time off to fill out an application without assistance from an immigration expert and hope they got it right.
    The truth is that we know that many applicants unknowingly made mistakes. For example, English-speaking people who applied to full streams automatically went into the French-speaking streams. However, instead of IRCC making that mistake known to temporary residents who applied, it denied those applications. I had business owners calling me, upset that their employees had to take time away from work only to get rejected from this pathway because of unnecessary clerical errors. I agree that it was a failure by this government.
    Red tape and miscommunication seem to be a theme the Liberal immigration system has encompassed, and so is racism. The Pollara report on racism at IRCC was disturbing. Employees heard department managers calling some African countries the “dirty 30”. It made me sad to hear this, and I am embarrassed for the immigration officers who try to do a good job.
    Recently, the citizenship and immigration committee undertook a study to look at the alarmingly high student visa refusal rates, particularly in Francophonie African countries. In some west African countries, the refusal rate is 90%. A lot of that has to do with discrimination and bias. The committee heard from witnesses that many international students were being turned away because of dual intent. IRCC officers were not satisfied that those students would return to their home countries in Africa. This is after the Liberals promised to bring in more international students and provide them with a pathway to permanent residency.
    The Minister of Immigration needs to take this issue seriously. Francophone and African international students are studying in all parts of this country. In my home province of Alberta, we see vibrant and strong Francophonie and African communities, and they contribute to the success of our province and country.
     The truth is that the dual intent issue is not just a problem for international students but also for temporary foreign workers and other temporary residents. Moreover, it is often an issue for immigrants from developing countries. How can Canada build a pathway to permanent residency if our system will turn around and discriminate and refuse the very people we are recruiting to come here?
    It is no secret that I am for smart, responsible and transparent immigration, but I am also in favour of red tape reduction, being efficient and showing compassion. I support a pathway to permanent residence to temporary residents already living and working in Canada. Those people work hard, contribute to the growth and productivity of our country and strengthen our democracy. This pathway makes sense. Why would Canada attract the best and brightest, provide them with opportunities and training and knowledge, and then force them to leave?
    While I will be voting for the motion before us, I want to make my concerns clear to my hon. colleague across the way and to the Minister of Immigration. We must develop a fair and compassionate pathway that addresses the labour and economic needs of every province and industry in Canada and helps to reduce the historic backlog. We need real action to end racism at IRCC, and the department needs to be open about its mistakes.
    We also need to address this massive backlog, because families are being separated and kept apart from each other. There are families who cannot see their children's first steps, birthdays and other milestones. Canadian businesses are not able to fill the shortages they have for labour and, more importantly, our economy is suffering. We need to clear up this backlog, and this government needs to take that issue very seriously.
    This is an opportunity for the government to fix its mistakes and help our businesses and communities grow and thrive. I hope to see a pathway that will help end the labour shortages and grow the economy from coast to coast.

  (1140)  

    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Surrey—Newton.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
    The member talked about the backlog. However, I would remind the member that when the Conservatives were in power, it was taking—
    I made a mistake. There are no questions and comments on this one. We have them only on the first round. I apologize to the member for Surrey—Newton.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques has the floor.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to express my solidarity with the people of Ukraine and let them know that my thoughts are with them.
    [Member spoke in Ukrainian as follows:]
    Slava Ukraini. Heroyam Slava.
    [Translation]
    I rise today to speak to Motion No. 44 moved by my colleague from Surrey Centre. The motion deals with permanent residency for temporary foreign workers.
    My colleague's motion deserves special attention because it pertains to immigration, which is crucial for both Quebec and Canada. Every legislative decision related to immigration is likely to have profound and far-reaching consequences on our societies, both in the short and long terms.
    Motion No. 44 can be divided into several sub-issues, which means it needs to be studied and considered from a number of different angles. However, given the limited time I have for my speech today, I will concentrate on two issues that the Bloc Québécois believes are essential for the motion to receive our party's support.
    The first issue relates to adding an explicit guarantee to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Canada-Québec Accord relating to Immigration and Temporary Admission of Aliens. That document, which was signed in 1991, has since become the reference for how the Canadian and Quebec governments share responsibilities when it comes to immigration matters.
    My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I feel it is crucial to recognize the precedence of the Canada-Quebec accord given point (a) of the motion, which states that the government's proposed plan should include “amending eligibility criteria under economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels”.
    Amending eligibility criteria under the economic immigration category is the prerogative of Quebec. It is not up to Ottawa to tell Quebec whether such or such criterion should be given more weight, any more than it is up to Ottawa to choose which occupational categories should be given priority. Given its special knowledge of its labour market and the accord signed in that regard more than 30 years ago, it is up to Quebec to determine its own priorities.
    I would also like to take this opportunity to draw the House's attention to the part of the preamble to the Canada-Quebec accord that attests to the spirit in which the accord was signed. It states, in black and white, that the accord stems from a joint wish by the Canadian and Quebec governments to “provide Québec with new means to preserve its demographic importance in Canada, and to ensure the integration of immigrants in Québec in a manner that respects the distinct identity of Québec”.
    After 30 years, I find it hard to believe that Ottawa even remembers the commitment it made. Given that the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who, I would remind the House, is a unilingual anglophone, released an immigration plan in February that would grant permanent status to 1.33 million new immigrants in only three years, the spirit of the 1991 accord is threatened as never before.
    Such an abrupt increase in immigration levels would greatly compromise Quebec's ability to maintain its demographic weight, because it would have to accept more than double the number of permanent immigrants it currently takes in. This would accelerate the collapse of the French fact in Montreal, as there would not be enough resources available on the ground to meet the demand for French integration classes. It is a trap for French Quebec.
    For these reasons, it is essential that Motion No. 44 explicitly state that it will be implemented in accordance with the rights conferred upon Quebec by the 1991 Canada-Quebec accord, so that the resulting plan will not violate the spirit of this historic agreement.
    The second issue concerns point (d) of the motion, which should have read as follows: “assessing ways to increase geographic distribution of immigration and encourage immigrant retention in smaller communities, as well as increase Francophone immigration outside Quebec [and in Quebec]”.

  (1145)  

    As the member of Parliament for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, I am a strong advocate for the regions. I think it is essential to focus on attracting and, most importantly, retaining immigrants in the regions and in smaller communities.
    At any given time, the Montreal metropolitan area is home to 80% to 85% of Quebec's immigrant population, even though the area has less than 50% of Quebec's total population.
    This imbalance is hurting our communities, which would benefit culturally and collectively from an influx of newcomers from across the Francophonie. This imbalance is hurting our business owners, who are experiencing ever-increasing labour shortages that are undermining the regions' economic viability in the short, medium and long terms. This imbalance is hurting our world-renowned universities, which are working tirelessly to attract the brightest minds from here and around the world.
    It goes without saying that I will support the member for Surrey Centre in his bid to identify and implement measures that will help the regions successfully attract immigrants. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I will always be in favour of promoting and protecting the French fact across Canada.
    That said, we believe something must be done to promote francophone immigration to Quebec. We could not quite believe that was not part of the motion moved by my colleague from Surrey Centre, especially in light of the alarming data released just a few months ago about Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's systemic and systematic discrimination against francophone African students applying to francophone Quebec universities. I would like to share some of the statistics, which speak for themselves.
    In my riding, the Université du Québec à Rimouski received over 2,000 applications in 2021. An astounding 71% of them were rejected. Across Quebec, over 80% of applications from certain francophone African countries were rejected. By comparison, rejection rates for Ontario and British Columbia were 37% and 47% respectively in 2020. It is also worth noting that the rate of rejection for applications to anglophone Quebec universities is lower than for francophone universities.
    This is inexcusable. Why is the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship discriminating against francophone African students? Why did nobody in the minister's office sound the alarm at some point in the past three years?
    These students had already been admitted by Quebec universities and the Quebec government, but the federal government's painful rejection pulled the rug out from under them. Given that obtaining a degree in Quebec is a fast track to permanent residency, this unfair and unjustifiable discrimination against francophone students is further exacerbating the decline of the French fact in Quebec.
    I have said it before, and I will say it again. We must not underestimate the challenges facing francophone immigrants. We need to make it easier for them to come to Quebec and the rest of Canada. Ottawa's current study permit approval system is an insult to Quebeckers and all francophones, so it needs an overhaul.
    In conclusion, we need to give the subject of Motion No. 44 the attention it deserves. The Bloc Québécois has concerns about how it is being implemented and whether it is consistent with the provisions of the Canada-Quebec accord relating to immigration. The Bloc also wants one of the objectives in the upcoming action plan to be supporting francophone immigration to Quebec.

  (1150)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the House today regarding Motion No. 44. From our time together at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration during previous sessions, it is clear to me that the member for Surrey Centre is passionate about improving Canada's immigration system. This motion highlights that well. I congratulation the member on being number one.
    My colleagues in the NDP and I have long viewed Canada's immigration system as an exercise in nation building. Individuals and families from all corners of the world, for generations, have come to Canada. They have contributed to our communities, our social fabric, our culture and our economy.
    In the past, Canada's immigration system offered landed status on arrival for a full range of workers. Unfortunately, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have shifted our system over time to include just what IRCC deems as high-skilled workers. As a result, Canadian employers have struggled to find the full range of workers needed to meet the labour demand, and increasingly, Canada has turned to the temporary foreign worker program. On an annual basis, there are now more temporary foreign workers in the country than there are new landed immigrants.
    Twenty years ago, there were 60,000 temporary work permits in Canada. Today, there are over 400,000. As we have witnessed, precarious status immigration streams lead to severe power imbalances, abuse and a fear to speak out. Whether they are the rampant exploitation of live-in caregivers and stories of threats to deport them, which forced program reforms, or the countless stories of workplace rights violations, including wage theft and illegal housing of temporary foreign workers, many of these issues stem from the precarious nature of the immigrant workers community.
    The pandemic has really highlighted the fact that temporary foreign workers have been mistreated, and there are two issues I would like to talk about.
    The first is that Canadians and our economy heavily rely on access to temporary foreign workers, many of whom are essential workers, even though IRCC defines these workers as low or medium skilled. They work at grocery stores, put food on our tables, care for our loved ones and so much more. Across the board, their value should be recognized with livable wages, secure employment benefits and, as COVID has demonstrated, paid sick leave. However, too often, these essential workers are paid minimum wages. They can only come to Canada as temporary foreign workers and not as immigrants.
     This needs to change. That is why the NDP is putting forward an amendment to the motion to expand the economic immigration stream beyond what IRCC deems as high-skilled workers to include the full range of workers. I will be moving that motion at the end of my speech.
    The second issue is the continued lack of enforcement of the rules that prevent exploitation and harm to temporary foreign workers. The recent Auditor General's report found that the government assessed almost all employers as compliant with COVID-19 regulations, even though it had “gathered little or no evidence to demonstrate this”. The continuous failure to act to enforce the basic standards, rules and principles of the program tips the scale further in favour of abuse, exploitation, exclusion, and tragically, death.
    I do not say that lightly. Whether it is a failure to follow COVID guidelines leading to COVID deaths, or the unsafe work practices that result in the workplace deaths of agriculture workers, the mistreatment of these precarious migrants leads to tragedy each and every year. Many, myself included, have argued for a very long time that the temporary foreign worker program is a complete misnomer.
    While it aims to be for filling in labour or skills shortages on a temporary basis, we all know that is not the case. Instead, the program is used to fill permanent jobs with temporary people. The NDP has long agreed with migrant workers organizations that, if one is good enough to work here, one is good enough to stay. That means landed status on arrival and the recognition that the term “low-skilled” does not reflect the value of the work being done. Instead, it is just a term that justifies poor working conditions and low wages.

  (1155)  

    Eliminating the precarity of status for newcomers and removing the power imbalance created by tying a migrant worker to a specific employer would have an enormous positive impact on the lives of migrant workers overnight, and in the long term, a positive impact for our economy.
    As just one example, COVID-19 has exposed a shortage of frontline health care workers in this country. In my years of work advocating for better treatment, the end to forced family separation, and landed status on arrival for migrants arriving through the caregiver stream, I have heard countless stories of how many of these women are trained nurses and caregivers who could not practice because of immigration laws.
     It makes no sense that they are not able to practise their profession, even if they have passed all the tests and meet all the credentials. The only thing preventing them from working in their profession is immigration rules. Credential recognition does not help them because they are tied to the job and the employer that got them here. There is no flexibility. That is wrong and should be changed.
    I am also happy to see the member included international students in the motion. The best and brightest young people from around the world come to Canada to study. For some, they want to take the skills they learn here and bring them home to improve their communities, and that is incredible.
    However, we also must realize that for some, coming to Canada, obtaining an education here and being immersed in our communities is done with the goal of making Canada their home. While pathways exist, for many, the difficulty of navigating the system and delays for application approvals become serious hindrances to their ability to stay here and work in their field.
     For reasons that have never been explained to me, students applying through express entry score lower than they should because any work experience they gain in Canada while studying does not count. This artificially lowers their score and makes it less likely for them to be selected. That too should change.
    I would also be remiss if I did not speak to the lack of options that individuals without status have to regularize and obtain valid status. People can be in this country without status for a wide range of reasons. Some are out of their control; some are instances where they believed they were following the rules but were misled and exploited; some have lost status because of delays in the system. The reasons are many. For example, I am aware of caregivers who have lost status due to delays related to COVID in application processing.
    There are an estimated 500,000 people already here in Canada without status. Many of them, due to this very precarious situation, are working under the table, not having their rights respected and are being exploited. They are also, in countless cases, working in positions well below the fullest of their abilities because they cannot come forward for positions they are qualified for without status.
     We need to change all of that. I will therefore move the following amendment.
     I move:
     That the motion be amended:
(a) by adding after the words “comprehensive plan to expand” the following: “the economic immigration stream to allow workers of all skill levels to meet the full range of labour needs”; and
(b) in paragraph (f), by adding the word “caregivers” after the words “health services”.
    I thank the member for Surrey Centre for accepting these amendments. I look forward to the plan from the government when the motion passes.

  (1200)  

    It is my duty to inform the hon. member that pursuant to Standing Order 93(3), no amendment may be proposed to a private member's motion or to the motion for second reading of a private member's bill unless the sponsor of the item indicates his or her consent.
    Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Surrey Centre if he consents to this amendment being moved.
    Mr. Speaker, I consent to the amendment.
    The amendment is in order.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to see my colleagues this morning, albeit virtually, and I do wish everyone safe travels as a majority of MPs return for the first sitting week of March.
    Today, I will be providing remarks in support of Motion No. 44 on permanent residency for temporary foreign workers. I wish to sincerely congratulate a great colleague, but more importantly a close friend, the member of Parliament for Surrey Centre, for his tireless work in pushing forward this motion and for his advocacy in strengthening all facets of our immigration system. I have had the opportunity to work with the member on immigration, and his interventions are always timely and substantive.
    Motion No. 44 develops a plan that is good for the economy and allows us to build a more inclusive and diverse country by attracting and retaining individuals from all over the world with diverse and, I would argue, in-demand skill sets and work experiences. When we speak about skill sets, as demonstrated by the pandemic and over the course of our history as a country, those so-called low-skilled jobs are, in fact, some of the most important in our labour force. Motion No. 44 would provide accessible pathways to permanent residency status to workers who have traditionally been considered as lower skilled. This is the right thing to do economically and morally.
    I am the son of immigrants who came and contributed much to this country. My grandparents and their seven children left an impoverished southern Italy in the late 1950s with literally only a suitcase and limited skills, but also with a can-do work attitude, a drive to create a better future for their children and a desire to help build and contribute to this country we call home. Today, they would be viewed low-skilled newcomers, but, frankly, I completely beg to differ.
    Before I provide further remarks on Motion Mo. 44, I would like to take a moment to comment on the situation in Ukraine. We are all Ukrainian at this moment in our global history. Our very fundamental belief in liberal democracy and our western values of democracy and self-determination are under attack. They are under attack by a corrupt despot, a corrupt dictator, someone who is dangerous not only to the Ukrainian people, but to his own people. He must be stopped.
    Liberal democracies will win and the Ukrainian people will themselves and only themselves determine their future. It is their right of self-determination. This battle is not only about the Ukraine, but about the future of liberal democracies themselves. As stated by a TV commentator last night, “The Ukrainian people have lit a spark that is uniting the world against tyranny.”
    Returning to Motion No. 44, the motion asks the House to develop and publicly release, within 120 days, a plan that ultimately helps to address the persistent labour shortages seen by employers across Canada. These labour shortages in many sectors of our economy are only anticipated to get worse as literally millions of Canadians exit the labour market for retirement and our birth rate continues to decline. Immigration is imperative not only for building a better and more inclusive country, but also for our economic well-being.
     The member for Surrey Centre is correct in identifying a plan to expand pathways to permanent residency for temporary foreign workers, including international students with significant work experience in this country. This is the correct pathway to take. Immigration, for me, should be looked at as a nation-building exercise and not simply as a plug for economic growth. This motion, combined with a number of policy measures we have introduced over the last six years as a government, takes us in that direction.
    We know that our government, since 2015, has significantly expanded the absolute levels of newcomers to Canada to now over 400,000 per year and increased the number of pathways, including through the Atlantic immigration pilot, the northern immigration pilot, the agri-food pilot and others. However, we must do more, and Motion No. 44 takes us in that direction.
    We are allowing newcomers to come to Canada and bring their entrepreneurial spirit and diverse set of skills, which are in demand. When we look at the components of the motion, which I will spend the rest of my time talking about, I wish to focus on part (a) of the motion. It states:
(a) amending eligibility criteria under economic immigration programs to give more weight to significant in-Canada work experience and expand the eligible occupational categories and work experience at various skills levels
    Frankly, I have advocated for this for many years since becoming a parliamentarian. Having Canadian work experience, to me, is the best indicator of success and the best indicator of future success. On language requirements, let us think about this. How many of our Ukrainian, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish people, and those educated in non-English, non-Commonwealth countries, would be able to come to Canada today? There would not be very many at all.

  (1205)  

    We know that under express entry, for example, the pathway for individuals who have very high levels of English and, say, a Ph.D. or commensurate academic credentials is easier. However, the fact is that many of the jobs that are unfulfilled and in demand are in skilled trades, hospitality, health care, the agricultural sector, the engineering sector and our manufacturing facilities. All of these sectors are vital to the Canadian economy and our future economic well-being.
    For instance, if a temporary foreign worker comes to Canada for a two-year period under an LMIA, as we can imagine, they begin their employment, start putting down roots in their community and begin their integration period in this country. After a two-year period, in the normal course, individuals in a career path or with a NOC code, with an average English skill set, would not be able to remain in Canada because they do not have enough points, maybe because they are a little older or because they have not received higher-level education. This is wrong and it needs to change. Motion No. 44 takes us down this route, and I congratulate the member for Surrey Centre for bringing the motion forward.
    For example, a concrete finisher, a carpenter or whatever skilled trades individual who comes to Canada could work here for two years but could not stay here permanently. The individual would be under an LMIA for two years but with no clear pathway to remain in this country. That is wrong. This serves as a large disincentive for someone wanting to come to Canada. Uprooting themselves and their families and then being forced to go back is not an investment I or anyone would want to take. We need to re-examine this and give more weight to those working here in Canada, contributing, paying their taxes and, frankly, being awesome citizens. These people are our friends and neighbours and they want to become part of the permanent Canadian landscape.
    This pathway would also save employers literally thousands of dollars a year to renew their LMIA and save workers the same. Some applications for LMIAs cost several thousands of dollars. I am not just talking $2,000 or $3,000, but $5,000 or $6,000. This is an inefficient and bureaucratic process. We must look at ways to streamline our system, and Motion No. 44 would take a large step in that direction.
    Another part of the motion that I am very supportive of is part (c):
incorporating data on labour market and skills shortages to align policy on immigrant-selection with persistent labour gaps
    As I was reading through Motion No. 44 this morning and over the weekend, I noted part (c) on data. We are a government that since 2015 has been driven by data and science. We know that when we make good policy decisions that incorporate the most relevant and up-to-date data, we make the right decisions. We know that in our immigration system, we need to make sure we are identifying sectors of the economy that require labour.
    I will give an example in my remaining time. I received a phone call several weeks ago from the owner of one of the largest employers in the city of Vaughan. He is in need of approximately 250 to 300 people to work at his factories. His orders from the United States are overflowing. At the same time, it is very difficult for this individual to find local labour, which is non-existent, to be honest, here in the GTA, and to bring in temporary foreign workers to work in his plant. Why? It is because they are what are called medium-skilled jobs in light manufacturing. However, they create economic success in our country to serve our export markets. My answer to this entrepreneur was that he would have to sponsor each individual through an LMIA process, a very laborious process, so we also need to look at that process.
    What Motion No. 44 means is that when we look at the manufacturing sector, the agriculture sector or health services, we need the most up-to-date and relevant data so we can make the best decisions. On the language requirements, which I know the member for Surrey Centre flagged at the beginning, a building could not be put up in downtown Toronto right now if we asked that all the individuals involved had the language requirements to become Canadian citizens. I will leave that thought for all 337 of my colleagues. A building could not be built in downtown Toronto or across the GTA if we asked all the individuals working on the sites to have the English requirements to immigrate to this country today.
    I again congratulate the member for Surrey Centre for a job well done.

  (1210)  

[Translation]

    The time provided for the consideration of Private Members’ Business has now expired. The order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

[English]

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:
    That a take-note debate on Russia's egregious attack on Ukraine be held later today, pursuant to Standing Order 53.1, and that, notwithstanding any standing order, special order, or usual practice of the House: (a) members rising to speak during the debate may indicate to the Chair that they will be dividing their time with another member; (b) the time provided for the debate be extended beyond four hours, as needed, to include a minimum of 16 periods of 20 minutes each; and (c) no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please nay. It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)


Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1215)  

[English]

Government Business No. 9—Parliamentary Review Committee pursuant to the Emergencies Act

    That,
(a) pursuant to subsection 62(1) of the Emergencies Act, a special joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons be appointed to review the exercise of powers and the performance of duties and functions pursuant to the declaration of emergency that was in effect from Monday, February 14, 2022, to Wednesday, February 23, 2022, including the provisions as specified in subsections 62(5) and (6) of the act;
(b) the committee be composed of four members of the Senate and seven members of the House of Commons, including three members of the House of Commons from the governing party, two members of the House of Commons from the official opposition, one member from the Bloc Québécois and one member from the New Democratic Party, with three Chairs of which the two House Co-Chairs shall be from the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party and the Senate Co-Chair shall be determined by the Senate;
(c) in addition to the Co-Chairs, the committee shall elect two vice-chairs from the House, of whom the first vice-chair shall be from the governing party and the second vice-chair shall be from the official opposition party;
(d) the House of Commons members be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than the day following the adoption of this motion;
(e) the quorum of the committee be seven members whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, so long as both Houses and one member of the governing party in the House, one from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are represented, and that the Joint Chairs be authorized to hold meetings, to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof, whenever five members are present, so long as both Houses and one member of the governing party in the House, one member from the opposition in the House and one member of the Senate are represented;
(f) changes to the membership of the committee, on the part of the House of Commons, be effective immediately after notification by the relevant whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House;
(g) membership substitutions, on the part of the House of Commons, be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2) and may be filed with the clerk of the committee by email, provided that substitutes take the oath of secrecy pursuant to paragraph (h) of this order before participating in proceedings;
(h) pursuant to subsection 62(3) of the act, every member and person employed in the work of the committee, which includes personnel who, in supporting the committee's work or a committee member’s work, have access to the committee's proceedings or documents, shall take the oath of secrecy set out in the schedule of the act;
(i) every meeting of the committee held to consider an order or regulation referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act shall be held in camera pursuant to subsection 62(4) of the act, and that the evidence and documents received by the committee related to these meetings shall not be made public;
(j) Co-Chairs shall have the ability to fully participate, including to move motions and to vote on all items before the committee, and any vote resulting in a tie vote shall mean that the item is negatived;
(k) all documents deposited pursuant to the act shall be referred to the committee, and documents referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights since February 16, 2022, in accordance with this act be instead referred to this special joint committee;
(l) until the committee ceases to exist or Thursday, June 23, 2022, whichever is earlier,
(i) where applicable, the provisions contained in paragraph (r) of the order adopted on Thursday, November 25, 2021, except for those listed in subparagraphs (r)(iii), (iv) and (vi), shall apply to the committee, and the committee shall hold meetings in person only should this be necessary to consider any matter referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act,
(ii) members, senators, and departmental and parliamentary officials appearing as witnesses before the committee may do so in person, as may any witness appearing with respect to any matter referred to it pursuant to subsection 61(2) of the act,
(iii) when more than one motion is proposed for the election of the House vice-chairs, any motion received after the initial one shall be taken as a notice of motion and such motions shall be put to the committee seriatim until one is adopted;
(m) the committee have the power to:
(i) sit during sittings and adjournments of the House,
(ii) report from time to time, including pursuant to the provisions included in subsection 62(6) of the act, to send for persons, papers and records, and to print such papers and evidence as may be ordered by the committee,
(iii) retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff, including legal counsel,
(iv) appoint, from among its members such subcommittees as may be deemed appropriate and to delegate to such subcommittees, all or any of its powers, except the power to report to the Senate and House of Commons,
(v) authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its public proceedings and that they be made available to the public via the Parliament of Canada's websites; and
    That a message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this House for the above purpose and to select, if the Senate deems advisable, members to act on the proposed special joint committee.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is good to rise again to speak to this matter.
    I will start by talking about the incredible importance of parliamentary oversight, particularly when we are using something as extraordinary as the Emergencies Act, which was written in 1988 and has never been used in this country. We have lived through a period of the utilization of this act for the first time. When we are talking about establishing a parliamentary review to take a look at how that act was used, it is important that we move quickly. I appreciate the discussions we have been having with other parties, but we are at a bit of an impasse, which leads us to where we are right now in the House.
     I think it is important for the context of this motion to talk about the events that led up to the enacting of the act, the period of time that the act was in place, how its powers were used and what the act then demands after the provisions of the act are completed.
    For a period of three weeks, all of us who came here to Ottawa witnessed something that was without precedent in Canadian history. The streets of Ottawa were gripped not by a protest but by an occupation that seemed to have no end. Many of us have had an opportunity to go and talk to residents who lived in the red zone or with businesses that were shut down and affected by what happened there. It was totally and utterly unacceptable.
    When I came into Ottawa to be back in this place on the Sunday night at the very beginning of this protest, I had seen something on television, but I never really had any sense of the full character of what was going on until I came and saw the streets blocked and talked to folks who owned businesses. Despite having gone through incredible difficulty over 10, 20 or 30 years, they said this was the hardest thing they had ever endured. There were residents who were afraid to leave their homes. Those who did were witnessing harassment, defecation, urination and just a complete upheaval of their day-to-day normal lives.
    If that was not enough, we saw homeless shelters attacked. We saw the desecration of national monuments. We saw swastikas and Confederate flags being flown. This continued ad infinitum: honking horns, disruptions of people's ability to sleep, a complete terrorizing of the local population. What then began to happen was that it spread elsewhere to blockades that blocked critical border crossings, meaning that hundreds of millions of dollars in lost trade were now affecting businesses across the country with further actions being contemplated.
    There is no doubt that everyone suffered in this pandemic, some far more than others. For every human on this planet, we are forever going to be united in the collective trauma of having lived through a global pandemic. For me, I am an incredibly social person. I love to be out in the world. It is how I get my energy, being with friends and family. Like everybody else, being cut off from that was exceptionally painful. However, many of the people in the red zone in Ottawa certainly suffered a great deal more than I did over those two years: people who were frontline health care workers and people who lost loved ones. Thank God I did not. I think one of the things the folks who came in protesting forgot was that the lives they were shutting down and the people they were terrorizing had gone through something really hard too.
    That takes me to one of the things that was desecrated, which was the memorial to Terry Fox. It makes me reflect upon the nature of freedom generally. Terry Fox was somebody who was diagnosed with, at that time, terminal cancer. He was going to die, and he had a choice about what he was going to do with the days left to him, what he was going to do with the freedom that he had while he still drew breath in this world. Terry Fox made the decision not to be angry, not to shake a fist, not to scream about the injustice of his condition, but to ask the question of how he could lift others from suffering, how he could use his suffering and his pain as a vehicle so that others may not suffer and so that others may not feel pain.

  (1220)  

    As he raced across the country, he captured the imagination of all of us, appealing to our greatest nature. When we suffer greatly our instinct often is to turn to anger and malice, but there is a deeper part of us that connects to something that I think is more spiritual, that calls for us instead to use our suffering as a way to stop the suffering of others.
    I have to reflect that I am sure the people who came here protesting were suffering. I am sure they had gone through very hard things as many across this country have gone through many hard things, but did they think about the people who were around them, the businesses that were suffering, the people who have been toiling on the front lines of this pandemic, the people who were as desperate as they were for a return to normalcy? I do not think they did. Certainly their actions did not indicate that they did.
    That is the thing that bothers me the most about, and I understand that we see this very differently, the disposition of the official opposition on this matter. Cheering on this type of behaviour, this type of lawlessness, this lack of regard for the suffering of others or lack of kinship with trying to lift others out of pain instead of demanding that their pain be heard and felt beyond all other pain regardless of how much more pain it caused, was concerning.
    There have been many times when I have seen protests and have sympathized with many of the points that the protesters were making, but then I see the way the protests are being handled or conducted, or I see some of the imagery that some of the people in that crowd have. We have to make a decision not to go among, even when there is a large group of people that we support, when there is lawlessness or affiliation with causes that we disagree with. Some of those choices have been really hard for me because some of those causes that I saw I believed in and I wanted to be among those people.
    However, when I saw a flag flown or an image of something that I disagreed with, I understood that my presence there would be confusing. Sometimes some of my colleagues made the other decision to go out among those people where photographs were taken and the Conservative Party pointed out, “What do you stand for? There is somebody in that crowd who stands for this, do they stand for that?” They were attacked on that basis. I had to reflect that it was a fair criticism.
    We are at a tenuous time in this country. We are at a tenuous time in this world. We see the events unfolding in Ukraine and we realize that our enemy is not the people at whom I am staring across, as much as we may have vociferous debate and differences. Our enemy is those who would seek to undermine our institutions and throw out our very democracy. There is no doubt that there was sedition in the groups outside. There were those who sought to topple a democratically elected government and replace it with I do not know what.
    I do know that the folks who came here and occupied the city for three weeks did not talk a lot about the fact that an election had happened just months ago, where the issues that they were demanding be taken action on had been decided in that very election with the vast majority of parties supporting the measures to fight the pandemic based on science.
    I take no joy in not being able to go out to a concert. I take no joy in not being able to go to some of my favourite places with some of my favourite people. We looked at that and said that we had to do it to protect our neighbours, to protect those we loved. We had to make those sacrifices.
    It is disappointing to me when I hear the member for Carleton talking about standing with what is going on outside and keeping the momentum going, the interim leader of the Conservatives saying that she does not think we should be asking them to go home, the member for Yorkton—Melville saying it is a show of patriotic passion, or the member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex saying what she saw were patriotic, flag-waving Canadians and that it was like Canada Day times a thousand. We have a problem. We have to step back and really consider what we foment. There is in our dialogue the need to look at science and hard decisions and come together, but to support this kind of lawlessness is totally unacceptable.

  (1225)  

    The Emergencies Act had to be brought to bear to deal with this situation and create a restoration of order, and in its being brought to bear in this unprecedented situation there were three pillars. One was to restore peace and order so that people could resume their normal lives and so that their freedoms were not impugned. Second was that it be done correctly, that it be geographically targeted and that it be used with the minimum amount of invasiveness as possible to achieve its results. Third was that it be time-limited.
    We are now seeing a return to normalcy. We are seeing the blockades are over. We are seeing life in Ottawa feeling normal again and people being able to work and live in their communities in a way they were accustomed to. Now that it is over, the act requires two things of us. One is that an inquiry be set up within 60 days to independently verify the use of the act and its appropriateness, and the other is that a joint committee of MPs and senators be established to independently take a look at the actions of the government in the use of this act.
    There are two things, then, that would seem like important principles to me in establishing a committee of this nature. One is that given that it is, in fact, the government itself that established the act, I concur the government should not, itself, chair the committee. That is a supposition I support. Secondarily, given the actions of the official opposition and its support and cheerleading for the illegal activities that occurred outside this building and blockades across the country, it would be equally inappropriate for the official opposition to act as a chair in reviewing the matters that occurred. Instead, what I think is a fair and reasonable proposal is that the chairmanship be shared by the two other opposition parties, one that did not support the use of the act and one that did, and as this is a joint committee of both the House and the Senate, that the Senate be given the opportunity to appoint one of its members.
    In this instance, the committee that we have suggested would actually dial back government representation. We have proposed three Liberal members, two Conservative MPs and one Conservative senator, so that is actually three Conservatives who would sit from their caucus. We have also proposed one member from the Bloc, one from the NDP and one from each of the recognized groups in the Senate. I will just say that the Conservative proposal to only have one senator is completely inappropriate to the other chamber.
    We have to understand, in 1988 when the act was written, the intention of a joint committee of the House was that there would be appropriate representation from both Houses. In 1988 there was a Senate based on parties. The Senate has now moved to a different place, and we know as legislators that the spirit of an act is the most important thing we must focus on, so ensuring there is one representative from each is fair and balanced. The Conservative proposal to only have five members, of which two would be Conservative, one would be Bloc, one would be NDP and one would be Liberal, and for it to be chaired by a Conservative MP and co-chaired by a Conservative senator is not appropriate.
    It is essential as we move forward and look at this chapter of history that parliamentary review be done and that this committee be both balanced and impartial in its deliberations. I think what we have put forward demonstrates exactly those principles, and I would say it is time we get to work on that committee.

  (1230)  

    Mr. Speaker, one of the challenges we have been dealing with, all of us working on this committee, is the perception, real or otherwise, that the government is trying to stack the deck with this committee. The Conservatives, and I will be speaking about this momentarily, provided a reasonable proposal that would have used an already existing committee, which was purpose-built for this particular purpose. It would have provided a chair to the Conservative side on the members side but also a chair to the Senate side.
    I would like the hon. government House leader to explain to the House and Canadians why that committee could not work, given the fact that it is purpose-built, yet his committee, in his view, would.
    Mr. Speaker, in starting off, our first proposal was that we would model it on the MAID committee, which would have meant a government chair. There was a counter-proposal that we would have a Conservative chair, as in the scrutiny of regulations model. My concern, which I outlined clearly in my speech, is that I do not think either of those is appropriate as chair, given the nature of the events as they occurred. As well, the government is the entity that created the use of the act and therefore would not be appropriate to chair—and I agree with that supposition—and the Conservatives had so vociferously argued in support of the protests and their objectives that I do not think they have demonstrated the independence necessary for that model either.
    In terms of stacking the deck, I would counter that this suggestion does not add up. We are talking about three Liberal MPs, two Conservatives MPs and one Conservative senator—so the Conservatives actually have the same number from their caucus as we have from ours, which is not proportional but actually favours them—as well as one Bloc member and one NDP member, who are overrepresented because it is a small committee, and one senator from each of the Senate groups. Therefore, I do not see that math.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said that we needed an impartial committee to shed light on the matter. I agree.
    I would like to know what motivated the government to go ahead with the Emergencies Act knowing that it was a very divisive issue and that its time had perhaps passed. There was no longer an emergency. At the time, was not the government’s motivation to restore the Prime Minister’s image, since he took action only last week and failed to properly assume the important role he could have played in this crisis?
    In my opinion, an impartial committee to shed light on what happened should also take a look at this aspect. I wonder whether the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons agrees with me on this.
    Mr. Speaker, it was a very difficult and unstable situation.
    It was obvious, not only from the events in Ottawa, but also the blockades at the border crossings, that this was a threat to the country. It was absolutely essential that the government took action. Fortunately, the situation is now stable here outside the House of Commons, at the border and throughout the country.
    Powers like the Emergencies Act are not often used, but it was necessary to do so at the time. It is also important to say that use of the act was very limited, not only in terms of time, but also geographically.

  (1235)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I have three questions for my colleague, the government House leader, that I would like answers to.
    First, how important is it to have opposition members chairing this important parliamentary review committee? The House leader has said, quite aptly, that the opposition needs to chair this committee, and the government is proposing two opposition chairs. How important is that?
    Second, how quickly do we need answers for the people of Ottawa? The government House leader spoke to what we all saw. Thousands of residents of downtown Ottawa, including people with disabilities and seniors, were cut off from essential services. There were assaults and there was vandalism, and hundreds of businesses were closed. How important is it to get those answers to the people of Ottawa to what happened over those three weeks and how devastating the impact was for residents of Ottawa?

[Translation]

    Third, my question is simple and concerns how some Conservative members acted during the crisis, inciting and supporting the occupiers, despite the vandalism and violence at the site.
    Was it appropriate for the Conservative members to act this way?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. I appreciate working with all the House leaders from the different parties on this issue as we try to find consensus.
    Let me take the first point, because I agree with it. At the very beginning in the discussions we had on this issue, as I said, I initially thought that it would be appropriate to use the model of other committees that the government chaired. The argument was made that it would be more appropriate for the opposition to chair, and I think that point is absolutely essential to ensure that folks have confidence in the review that is going to take place. However, to go one step further, what is good about the model being proposed is that we would have two opposition parties, one in favour of the act and one opposed to the act, but we would not have a situation in which one of the parties was obviously a cheerleader for what happened and I think would not have impartiality.
    On the second question of how quickly we need to act, as I said at the beginning of my speech, these powers are extraordinary and these circumstances were extraordinary, so it is essential that folks have answers as to the appropriateness of the powers and their use, and also that we have separate processes that we are going to have to have a conversation around in BOIE and elsewhere to make sure that this sort of thing never happens again.
    On the third question, which was on whether it was appropriate for MPs to take part in the protests outside, I hope that members reflect on the lawlessness that we saw out there. As much as we may agree with some of the points that were being made, what was being fomented and what it was all about was absolutely inappropriate to be taking place.
    Mr. Speaker, the circumstances of the Emergencies Act have certainly been one of the more significant debates in which I have participated in this place. I welcomed the Emergencies Act, and one of the reasons I felt comfortable voting yes for it was that the parliamentary oversight process was rigorous, in the sense that there will be a committee and there will also be an inquiry.
    I would put forward this notion to the hon. government House leader. One of the worst things that has happened to Canadian democracy has been the emergence of people believing in “alternative facts”, as the Trump White House used to say. If we think that one set of people in this place have already made up their minds so firmly that they cannot be reliable in investigating, I think that is a wrong supposition. Obviously Conservatives are part of the committee, but I would make the point that the hon. member for Kitchener Centre and I are also an opposition party in this place. We respect each other a lot, but we did not vote the same way, and I respect my colleagues across the way who did not vote the same way.
    If a committee of all people in this place, including the Green Party, was able to come to a report and give it to Canadians, could we then stop having different sets of facts, really explore what happened, and get past that idea? I get emails from constituents who say that nobody assaulted the workers or the homeless at Shepherds of Good Hope, yet I know it happened. How do we get to an agreed statement of facts if we decide that one set of people in this place are not really open-minded?

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her excellent question.
    This is something that I think weighs on all of us in our discourse. We can disagree on many things, but we should not disagree on base facts. There is an obligation that every member has in every debate to hold to the core of explaining what the facts are in any given situation. Unfortunately, with the advent of social media we have seen it become very easy to buy into an alternative reality that is more convenient, and that is a perilous threat to our democracy. Sometimes we think that an email that creates some discomfort for another political party might work for us in a moment, but at the end it is an erosion of the very foundation of this place, and we all must stand firm against it.
    Mr. Speaker, I am really looking forward to discussing this situation.
    Before I begin, I would certainly like to express my concern for the people of Ukraine and the current situation they are going through. All of us are watching very closely. We see the government acting and we are, as Conservatives and as Her Majesty's loyal opposition, in support of many of the government's actions. I note we will be engaged in a take-note debate. Through unanimous consent, we just recently extended the take-note debate to allow more speakers to discuss this current situation.
    On Saturday, there was a rally held in Barrie. There were roughly 150 concerned citizens, many of them born in Ukraine. They are Canadians of Ukrainian heritage. They expressed their concern about what was going on, particularly the illegal actions of Vladimir Putin. Yesterday, along with members of the government and the opposition, I attended the rally down at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square. I do not know how big the crowd was; some estimated it at about 10,000 people. It was quite something. Everyone was united with the brave people of Ukraine. Our thoughts are with them. In the days and weeks ahead, I am sure we will see more significant action on the part of western nations and our allies. I look forward to being able to support those actions.
    The sad reality is that we are dealing with a government motion today when we should be dealing with and discussing many of the issues that are happening currently in Ukraine.
    We are here because we as Conservatives, and I know Canadians, are looking for some sense of trust in government. We are certainly looking for trust. In the invocation of the Emergencies Act, the government took upon itself extraordinary powers to deal with a situation. We can argue about whether those powers were needed or whether the emergency declaration in the province of Ontario or the emergency declaration in the city of Ottawa were sufficient in dealing with the situation, or whether these extraordinary actions the government took were able to deal with the situation.
    There was likely a lot of planning that went on before the invocation of the act on that Monday, February 14, so we really need to restore some level of trust in government through this committee. As the government gave itself extraordinary powers, it is incumbent upon us as members of Parliament to provide extraordinary scrutiny of the government, and not just of the decisions that led up to invoking the Emergencies Act but also of the actions the government took, which I think is what was envisioned in the act as it was crafted in 1988 and approved by this body.
    What reasons were there for what the government did? The government House leader spoke about sedition, which is a strong term, and other factors. It is incumbent upon the committee to find out whether the government's actions were justified and whether they met the threshold for declaring an emergency. This is a matter of trust in government. It is important that we as members of the opposition, and all other parties, make sure that we provide that trust to Canadians for the sake of our public institutions.
    I was listening intently as the government House leader was speaking earlier, and he talked about the actions of members of Parliament. Frankly, and I say this with all due respect to the government House leader, the government does not get to judge the actions of others as they relate to establishing a parliamentary committee.

  (1245)  

    All of us in this place have taken an oath to ensure that we act in the best interests of Canadians, and this committee and the establishment of this committee should be no different than that of any other committee. In fact, I would say it is somewhat similar to what we see in other committees, particularly oversight committees, where members of the opposition are actually the chairs, as in the ethics committees, the government operations committees and the public accounts committee. Those are all oversight committees of Parliament. They have been long established. It should stand to reason that there should be a member of Her Majesty's official opposition as a chair of that committee. It is designed to provide extraordinary oversight.
    We can argue all we want about the protests. The protests are gone. Conservatives obviously believe in peaceful protests. For several weeks we were asking the protesters to go home because their voices had been heard. What we saw in Ottawa and across the country, whether it was at border crossings or at other demonstrations, even in my own community of Barrie—Innisfil, was a manifestation of years of frustration, anger and anxiety with dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Our job as members of Parliament is to listen to our constituents and to Canadians, make sure that we understand their concerns and deal with those concerns. That is not just precluded to those we agree with. It includes people we do not agree with. I get lots of calls and emails in my office, as we all do, of varying opinions, ideologies and political ideals, but that does not mean we discount that. We have to listen to everybody. That is our job.
    Listening those who came to Ottawa was important, to hear their voices and their anxiety, to hear the frustration they were feeling. Last week, I was returning phone calls and emails and that same level of anger and frustration, over what we have been dealing with over the last two years, was being relayed to me while I was sitting in my constituency office. There were some people who were upset about the Emergencies Act being invoked. There were other people who were happy about the Emergencies Act being invoked.
     All of them felt the same way, that we need to understand what led up to the Emergencies Act invocation, what evidence was used and what decisions the government made in invoking the Emergencies Act. Was it political? Was it to protect the Prime Minister because he had been seen as not acting on this? Was it actually to suppress the seditionist forces that the government is speaking about, that the government House leader just mentioned?
     We have to get to the bottom of it. The only way that we can do that is to make sure that we have a committee that is reflective of the proportionality of parliamentarians in this place, not casting or judging what each member of Parliament is going to preclude on that committee, but basing our decision and our recommendations to Canadians and our findings to Canadians based on what we are hearing, what evidence is being provided by the government and other institutions, like law enforcement. I do not think that is an unreasonable request.
    What led up to the circumstances that have brought us to now dealing with two hours of debate, and I suspect several hours of further debate on another day, when we should be getting down to the work of the committee? As the government House leader said, and as prescribed in the act, there is a requirement for us, once the revocation order is made, to study the issue. That is really where we have tried to go on the formation of the committee, to find some sort of consensus. Then there will be an inquiry within 60 days. What led us to this point where the government has to drop the hammer of presenting a motion to Parliament to determine the establishment and composition of this committee?

  (1250)  

    In our first discussions with the government House leader, Conservatives actually proposed that the scrutiny of regulations committee look into this action by the government. We felt, at the time, that it was purpose built, and if we look at the mandate of the scrutiny of regulations committee, a lot of what we are working on and intending on finding in relation to the government's action is there. It is actually mandated within the scrutiny of regulations committee.
    It is a joint committee of Parliament, with members from the Senate and the House of Commons. It has 16 members on it. It is chaired by a Conservative member of Parliament on the House side and by a senator on the Senate side. I do not think that, at this point, the scrutiny of regulations committee has met to constitute and formulate a chair because of COVID.
    We felt that was a reasonable proposal because the government had initially proposed, as the government House leader said, the medical assistance in dying committee, which became an ad hoc committee of Parliament. It had two co-chairs, not three as is currently proposed in this motion. We felt that was going to be a reasonable solution to this, a joint Senate and House committee that is purpose built and purpose driven for what this committee will be charged to do.
    We presented that. It was on Thursday before the vote, and then the Monday of the vote, the government House leader came to me and said that he had spoken to the third and fourth opposition parties and they had come up with a solution to the committee. There was no opportunity for me, as opposition House leader, to work or reflect on this. That is what led to this motion being proposed today.
    Members can imagine what I thought when I saw the composition of this committee. I looked and saw three co-chairs. There is not a parliamentary standing committee today that exists, even in the scrutiny of regulations committee, that has three co-chairs on it. This is proposing a co-chair of the third and fourth parties of the opposition, plus one from the Senate side as well. To us, that was a non-starter, despite the fact that the government House leader had already spoken to the other opposition parties about this.
    The challenge was that we were not going to agree with this, so we were effectively at a stalemate. What we thought was a reasonable proposal on this committee was rejected by the government, an already existing committee, for this new ad hoc committee. As the government House leader said, he did not trust the opposition parties, members of the opposition, to have good judgment on this committee. I think that is an absolutely ridiculous and absurd assertion.
    Failing any further agreement, we find ourselves in the position that we are in today, which is what I believe to be an absolutely absurd proposal of three co-chairs for this committee, one each from the third and fourth parties and a member of the Senate, and providing for two Conservative MPs, neither of whom are to be chairs.
    I take members back to my earlier statement when I said the oversight committees of Parliament, those standing committees, are always chaired by an opposition party. There is a reason for that. It is because they are designed to provide oversight. This committee is designed to provide oversight on the government. If the government is convinced that its actions both leading up to the invocation of the Emergencies Act and its actions subsequent to the invocation of the Emergencies Act is justified and defensible, then it should have no problem being held to the account that is required.
    The government should have no problem justifying to this committee, whether it is led by an opposition chair or not, and providing that information. The committee should have no problem, without prejudice, doing its work to hold the government to account and restore that trust in government that Canadians expect.

  (1255)  

    As I mentioned earlier, part of the challenge is understanding how we got here and this manifestation of anger. There are a lot of Canadians right now who are upset. They are upset after two years of lockdowns and two years of restrictions. They see other G7 countries opening up. In fact, just today, the U.S. Congress announced that there would be no more mask mandates. Other countries are limiting their restrictions and eliminating the mandates, yet here in Canada, as provinces are lifting some of those mandates and restrictions, we are still seeing this level of control with regard to the federal government that is causing a lot of anxiety and a lot of confusion among Canadians.
    It was just a couple of weeks ago that we proposed, with the support of our Bloc colleagues, for the government to establish a plan by February 28 to move away from the restrictions and mandates so that we can provide Canadians with some sense that we were going to get back to normalcy in the country, yet the Liberals and their coalition partners in the NDP voted against that motion. They voted against the plan, despite the fact that their own chief public health official had talked about living with COVID, that this was going to be a normal occurrence and that we had to start thinking about living with COVID. That was all we were asking for.
    We did it while people were protesting here and in other parts of the country, so think of the message that was sent to Canadians who are desperate to get back to some sense of normalcy, to spend more time with their family in the United States and to not have to worry about some of the mandates and restrictions vis-à-vis flying and other things.
    We are at a 90% vaccination rate at this point, which is greater than some of the other G7 countries around the world. They are the ones that are limiting their mandates and reducing them and getting rid of them, yet here we are, still locked down. That anger is being manifested in what we saw with these protests.
    Instead of providing Canadians a bit of hope, they just beat them down again and fed into that anger and that anxiety. All we were trying to do was provide a little hope. Give us a plan, an exit strategy or something that we can go back to Canadians with and say that by this date, this will happen and by this date, that will happen.
    I know the government's talking point on this is that they follow science and evidence-based decision-making. I would suggest that they do that only when it agrees with their ideology. This is not about science any more. This is about political science. It is about the Prime Minister, his party and the NPD holding on, for some reason, to this complete control over Canadians. It has to stop.
    This started a long time ago. This did not just start now. As I said, this manifested itself, this anger and this anxiety, months and months ago, when, in May, the Prime Minister made a statement that he did not believe in mandatory vaccination, that this is not the kind of country we are in and that we do not do that in Canada.
    Then, all of a sudden, a day before the election, the Prime Minister stands up and says that we are going to have mandatory vaccination, creating a wedge issue during the election, an election that nobody wanted, that cost $660 million and was at the height of Afghanistan falling and western Canada burning.
    There were lots of things that were happening around the world, but it was the Prime Minister's intention to call an election and use the issue of mandatory vaccinations, despite the fact that at the time there might have been 75% or 80% of Canadians being vaccinated, as a wedge issue to further divide Canadians.
    We saw, through the course of the election, the Prime Minister of the country referring to Canadians who were not vaccinated as misogynists and extremists. He asked whether we had to tolerate these people. It is no wonder people became pissed off—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1300)  

    I would ask the hon. member to keep to the realm of parliamentary language. I would ask the hon. member to retract that and rethink it.
    I apologize for that, Mr. Speaker. It is no wonder people were angered when the Prime Minister of the country referred to his own countrymen, his people, in those terms because he does not agree with them and they do not agree with him. It is not prime ministerial, and it really has affected a lot of people in more ways than perhaps the Prime Minister thinks.
    The challenge right now is that the anxiety and the anger are persisting, and are still manifesting themselves. The situation we find ourselves in is with respect to the level of trust. We are looking into our public institutions and making sure that they are functioning in a way that gives confidence to Canadians and that our democracy is functioning in a way that gives confidence to Canadians, because we have seen over the course of the last six years a pattern of systemic overreach by the government.
     I can cite this pattern. Whether it is the banking information of 500,000 Canadians that was being looked into by Stats Canada, the ethics breaches, the WE Charity scandal, the cellphone and mobility-data tracking of millions of Canadians, this pattern has shown itself to be an overreach. This is in addition to the contempt that the Liberals have shown with respect to the Winnipeg lab documents, with the Speaker making a ruling and the government not allowing that information. This is the erosion of confidence that makes it even more important for this committee to provide the confidence that Canadians need in order not just to get to the bottom of the invocation of the act, but also to make sure that the actions of the government were justified and met the threshold of the imposition of this act so that we can provide that for Canadians.
    The other thing I would like to address is the other pattern we have seen, particularly in this Parliament. It is inexplicable to me how an opposition party can be in lockstep with the government. I am speaking specifically about the New Democratic Party. It is in lockstep with the government in everything it does. We mentioned during the emergency debate that the foundations of that party were in being the working people's party. To see the New Democrats act in lockstep with the government on everything, even in the support of the invocation of the Emergencies Act, was quite frankly upsetting to many people.
     We saw the Prime Minister, last week, imply that a lack of support for the invocation of the act meant that it was going to be a confidence vote. In fact, I stood up just before the vote and I asked the government House leader about that. He said we should just get on with the vote. Convention around this place dictates that the government advise Parliament and the Speaker that a vote is in fact a confidence vote.
    However, the Prime Minister and the government not only browbeat the NDP and put its members into fear that we were going to call an election, which we all know the NDP does not want at this point, but the Liberals also browbeat many of their backbenchers, including two of the more vocal backbenchers: the member for Louis-Hébert and the member for Beaches—East York. They said last week that they did not agree with the invocation of the act and it did not meet the threshold that the government had purported, yet they were told that if they did not support it the Prime Minister was going to call an election. Can members imagine the Prime Minister threatening his own backbench and threatening the NDP into supporting the invocation of the act, if they did not support something that he wanted and that we do not know was justified, which is the purpose of this committee.
     Of course, by coincidence or not, two days later we saw the revocation of the act. All of a sudden, everything was fine in the land, so let us revoke the order. The Prime Minister obviously tried to justify this. As I said at the start, I believe this was done for political reasons, unless I see evidence otherwise, to justify the many criticisms the Prime Minister was receiving as a result of inaction on this.

  (1305)  

    It was not surprising to me when the NDP supported the Liberals on this and continue to support them, as I suspect, on this motion as well. Why would they not? They would be getting a chair of a committee. Why would they not want to support the government on this? It is extraordinary, because it is not the third or fourth party that gets the chair of a committee. It is the official opposition that gets the chair of an oversight committee, not the third or fourth party. This would be breaking from convention, and this is why we have a problem.
    The other thing we proposed, and I know that this has been publicized and the government House leader has spoken about this, is that the way the act was written in 1988 prescribed that members of a recognized party with 12 members or more would form the committee. I brought this up in our initial House leaders meeting. This would mean the Liberals, the Conservatives, the NDP and the Bloc, as well as a recognized party in the Senate, which would mean the Conservative Party. That is what is prescribed in the act and is in the spirit of the act, as well.
    After we went back and forth, and this absurd proposal we are dealing with today came to me, it was my position that I would default back to the act. It is not my fault, nor is it the fault of our colleagues or of any of the opposition parties, that the government has not amended the Emergencies Act to reflect the current composition of the Senate. That is the government's problem. It has not done that to this point, and now the Liberals are saying they have to have those senators there, but it is not prescribed in the act.
    When we did not agree to this absurd proposal of the committee structure we are dealing with today, we said that we could go back to what the act says. It is not my fault the Prime Minister created the Senate in the manner in which he did, but has not done anything to reflect not just this act, but other acts that would need to be amended. If the government wants to reflect better what the current composition of the Senate is, it can certainly do that.
    In fact, over the weekend there was a story in the National Post that suggested the government was working on this, but then it called an election. The Liberals were working on it, but then they called an election. B.C. was burning, and they called an election. Afghanistan was falling, and they called an election. There were lots of consequences to the Prime Minister calling an election 18 months after the last one for his own vanity.
    There are several other points that can be made on this, but the main one I want to make is about establishing this trust in government. A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the ethics committee. We had the Ethics Commissioner there, and I asked him about his perception of the level of trust in government. His response was that there had been a significant decline in the level of trust in government not just recently or with recent occurrences, but also over the course of the last six years since the Liberal government had taken over. Certainly in polling we have seen this.
    For me, this is a matter of principle. It is not a matter of politics. I am not looking at playing partisan political games. I am not looking at trying to undermine the work of the committee. We have already established committees in Parliament that are purpose-built for this type of scrutiny and oversight. On the Conservative side, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask that we maintain a structure similar to what we have instead of this ad hoc committee that the government is proposing. I think it is not an unreasonable request for us to do that.
    I just want to reiterate the threshold of what constitutes a national emergency and why this is important. It is defined in the act as:
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, and that cannot be effectively dealt with under any other law of Canada.

  (1310)  

    There is a strong argument to be made. I know that many people have weighed in on this. We had a fulsome weekend of debate about whether that threshold was in fact met. This is what the committee is going to be charged with. Was it for a political reason that the government invoked this act, to deal with the criticism of the Prime Minister when all of the other emergency powers were already in place, both provincially and municipally? What has been prescribed in legislation were incredible powers given to ministers of the Crown to deal with these types of situations. We saw situations in Emerson, Manitoba, and at the Ambassador Bridge. In Coutts, Alberta, police defused the situation. It was the same with Emerson and the Ambassador Bridge. Could those powers, which had already been enacted and given through regulatory and legislative authority to the ministers of the Crown, have been sufficient without pulling this nuclear option of the Emergencies Act?
    That is what this committee is going to be charged with. We have to make sure the oversight and scrutiny that this committee will provide, and the subsequent inquiry that will follow, do exactly that. This is a matter of trust, and it is up to the government to defend its actions. It is up to the government to justify its actions.
    It is up to opposition members, all of us in this place, to use the powers that we are given to provide this extraordinary scrutiny and oversight on the government so that Canadians can have confidence in their ability to understand what just happened, what happened during the crisis, and whether the government in fact did overreach or extend beyond what it needed to during the crisis. There is no doubt that the people of Ottawa dealt with a lot. There is no question about it, but we have to make sure that the spirit the Emergencies Act intended, and the thresholds the Emergencies Act calls for, were met. It is up to the government to justify that.
    In conclusion, I will move the following amendment. I move, seconded by the member for Kelowna—Lake Country:
    That the motion be amended:
(a) in paragraph (b), by replacing the words “with three Chairs of which the two House Co-Chairs shall be from the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party and the Senate Co-Chair shall be determined by the Senate;” with the words “with two Chairs of which one House Co-Chair shall be from the Liberal Party and the Senate Co-Chair shall be from the Conservative Party”;
(b) in paragraph (1)(iii), by adding, after the words “election of the”, the words “Co-Chairs and”.

  (1315)  

    The amendment is in order.
    Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member's constituents in Barrie for selecting an extremely good candidate in the upcoming provincial election. The mayor of Barrie, Jeff Lehman, is going to run as a Liberal candidate in the election this spring and I look forward to him representing Barrie at Queen's Park. I congratulate the people of Barrie.
    I heard the Conservative House leader talk about the fact that the government House leader said that he does not trust parliamentarians to do this work, but that is not what I heard. I heard him say that it was important to remove the two parties from the chairmanship that had the most at stake in terms of what went on in the House during the debate over the course of the four or five days. I think it is a good plan if the chairs are from other parties, because it would remove what we saw there.
    Why does it matter so much to have a chair? Why is it so important that the Conservatives have a chair? What do Conservatives think that will affect in the outcome?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's point. As I said in the course of my speech, there is no other situation or committee that is structured in the manner the government is proposing, where there are three co-chairs and members of the third and fourth party. Typically, as I said, oversight committees are designed to provide oversight and justification of the government's actions. We have three committees right now relating to ethics, government operations and public accounts that have Conservative members as the chair.
    The government's opportunity in this committee is to provide justification for its actions. The committee's job is to provide oversight. In my opinion and in the opinion of our side, it should be consistent with what we see in other committees of the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague, but I come back to the issue that was much discussed last weekend and continues to be discussed today, that is, the impact of the occupation on the people of Ottawa. Hundreds of businesses were closed and thousands of people were thrown out of work and had no means to put food on the table or keep a roof over their heads. There were assaults. There was vandalism. The people of Ottawa, particularly people with disabilities and seniors, were cut off from essential services.
    There was unbelievable hardship, yet throughout this, I never saw a Conservative MP express any sympathy at all for the people of Ottawa. I never heard a Conservative MP stand up and say that it was simply wrong what the people of Ottawa were living through. When we talk about the loss of jobs in Windsor and other parts of country and the four charges of conspiracy to commit murder in Coutts, Alberta, I do not get the sense that Conservative MPs understood the impacts of the occupation.
    Could the member please explain to us why Conservative MPs never expressed concern for all of the immense hardship caused by this occupation?

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague. I have been working with him now for the better part of three weeks as the opposition House leader, and I respect what he does in that capacity. However, to characterize this in such a way that somehow we were not, as Conservatives, empathetic to the situation is a gross misstatement. Two or three weeks before action was taken by the police, our opposition leader said that the voices of protesters had been heard, that we were listening to them and that it was time for them to go home. That is precisely what she said.
    I will question the member too. When we had an opposition day motion that called on the government to create a plan and an exit strategy, why would he and his party vote against that given the anxiety, fear and the anguish of people who lost their jobs during the mental health crisis in this country? Why would he not have supported that as part of the strategy to exit this pandemic like other G7 countries are doing?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I hope that we will be able to get past all the partisanship and get the committee under way.
    There is something that my colleague did not address but that I believe is important. I saw a certain complacency toward the protesters among some Conservative members, in particular my colleague from Carleton. I would like to know whether my colleague thinks that this complacency should be looked into by the committee.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is the government's actions that should be held to account here. It is the government that decided to invoke the Emergencies Act. We need to find out what thresholds were met. We also need to understand, as I said, that there is a strong level of anger and anxiety that exists and that it has manifested across this country because of what people have been dealing with over the last two years. What we saw in Ottawa is the same thing we are seeing in Barrie—Innisfil and in other parts of the country.
    We need to look at not only the manifestation of what has gone on, but also the government's actions. It is the one that invoked the Emergencies Act. The government is the one that has to justify it and be accountable for this. That is where the focus should be, in my opinion.
    Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the government House leader and his suggestion about the use of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. I sat on that committee when Chris Charlton, an NDP member, and former senator Bob Runciman were the co-chairs. It worked really well under the independent counsel of Peter Bernhardt.
    We learned at that committee the definition of SOR, or statutory orders and regulations. In those regulations that are referred to the committee, we see questions: Does the government have the authority to invoke those regulations or orders? Does the government follow the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, among others? Does it execute and not over-exercise its power?
    In the emergencies order, I believe the government did not meet the threshold. Having a committee like the scrutiny of regulations committee would be an excellent suggestion. Why does the member believe the government has rejected that suggestion?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a great question. I made that point during my speech.
    I believe that the scrutiny of regulations committee is purpose built for many of the reasons the hon. member stated and many more within its mandate. It could have been constituted easily because it is already an existing committee of Parliament. There might have been some moving parts and pieces in terms of members. However, it could have been up to us or the government side to determine that.
    Why does the government not want the scrutiny of regulations committee? I think it is because it does not fit the narrative. It wants to vilify Conservatives as somehow being mean-spirited, and it wants to demonize us for our actions of simply listening to our constituents and listening to Canadians. It does not fit the government's narrative.
    Developing and creating a committee that undermines the purpose of this committee is, quite frankly, the purpose of what the government is proposing.

  (1325)  

    Mr. Speaker, very quickly, the Prime Minister and the government recognized, right from the outset of the proclamation for the Emergencies Act, that accountability and transparency were important. That is why the Prime Minister made reference to the committee we are talking about and the inquiry that follows.
    Would the member not recognize that all of us have a responsibility to be held, to a certain degree, to task? We are recognizing that what we are trying to do here is say that we have two opposition parties, one opposed and one in favour. The objection is no to the government and no to the official opposition, primarily because of other actions that I do not have the time to expand on at this point.
    Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying that the Prime Minister did not even have the courtesy of introducing the Emergencies Act within our symbol of democracy, which again shows contempt for our institutions. We have seen this pattern of contempt continue throughout the six and a half years of the government.
    The other thing I would say is that what we are proposing in our amendment, to have a Liberal member from the House and a Conservative member from the Senate, is a reasonable proposal. It is just as reasonable as our scrutiny of regulations proposal was at the beginning of these discussions, which leads us to the hammer being dropped today.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the hon. member for La Prairie.
    Today, we are being asked to speak to a motion aimed at creating a joint parliamentary review committee of the House of Commons and the Senate to meet our obligations under subsection 62(1) of the Emergencies Act. There appears to be a consensus on the need for such a committee, and the broad terms of its composition and mandate are defined in the act. Under the circumstances, I am tempted to say that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the motion and to thank the government for its good intentions.
    However, I understand that my colleagues in the other parties intend to debate the issue in order to justify their vision of who should appointed to the committee and who should or should not serve as chair and vice-chair. To be frank, as long as the proportion of members of each party in the House is reflected in the composition of the committee, this is not really an issue for the Bloc Québécois.
    I will say, however, that the Bloc Québécois is extremely interested in how the committee will carry out its mandate, and that we believe that this exercise is crucial.
    We live in a world that is constantly and rapidly changing. These last few years, the news has kept us tense, concerned and worried about the way our leaders were responding. Whether we are talking about the pandemic or, more recently, the war that just started in Ukraine, governments in every country have had to react and offer the people they govern a reasonable and effective position and response in line with their values and interests.
    Unfortunately, one crisis often led to another, to which governments also had to respond. Some governments are criticized for being too soft, others for being intransigent, and still others for their lack of boldness and imagination. Although most of this criticism is constructive, it can get aggressive at times and can even degenerate into social disruption, which then leads to its own crisis that also requires a response.
    One thing is certain. The modern era has its share of unusual challenges that will force us to find unusual solutions. This means going off the beaten path, but each step will require vigilance and prudence.
    For the purposes of this debate, although it is obviously a concern, let us set aside the war in Ukraine for a moment and focus on the mandate of the committee we are creating. We must look at the protests that some people justified by saying they were the direct result of the measures taken by the authorities in response to the health crisis facing the entire world, namely the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The crisis caused by the pandemic forced the authorities to impose health measures with which not everyone complied. That is obviously normal. Some people wanted to express their disagreement in our streets, in front of public buildings, and that is also obviously normal. It is a legitimate exercise of the rights and freedoms recognized by all our governments, in both Quebec and the rest of Canada.
    Unfortunately, some people took advantage of the situation to organize unacceptable and sometimes even dangerous protests that had to be contained. That is when the federal government decided to invoke the Emergencies Act in response to the protests caused by the health measures, which had themselves been adopted in response to the pandemic.
    Was it necessary, appropriate or useful? That is what we have to decide. This soul-searching is unavoidable and essential, because we cannot forget that the Emergencies Act is the heavy artillery of the federal government's legislative arsenal. This is the act that would give us the power to implement the measures needed to respond to an international crisis or a state of war. Think about it.

  (1330)  

    The global COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine were not enough of a concern for our government to invoke the Emergencies Act, but the protests in recent weeks were.
    The committee should therefore review the exercise of powers pursuant to the proclamation of emergency measures on February 14, which was confirmed by the House on the evening of Monday, February 21, before being revoked less than 48 hours later on Wednesday, February 23.
    What happened to this major proclamation? How did we use the tools it provided us? Did we abuse those tools? Did we leave any of them unused?
    What can we say today about the results it delivered? Was the proclamation useful or not? Is it possible that it was actually detrimental to the interests of the government and its citizens?
    This is a rare and extremely important mandate, as rare and important as a proclamation of emergency measures should be. We must therefore conduct a thorough and exhaustive analysis.
    We owe it to our fellow Quebeckers and Canadians. We owe it to future generations, since, even though we hope it will not happen, there will very probably be other crises that could give rise to such a declaration in the near or distant future, such as disasters, states of emergency, international crises, even war. Future leaders will undoubtedly look to past precedents. What conclusions will they draw? What will we inspire them to do?
    That is for us to decide today. It goes without saying that the committee will have to work with all due seriousness and diligence. The Bloc Québécois hopes that the work will begin immediately and that all of the resources needed for the committee to carry out its important mission will be made available without delay.
    It will have to hear from witnesses. Will it face obstructions like the ones we experienced last year?
    The committee will also need access to all of the relevant documents, legal opinions, and minutes of cabinet discussions and meetings. Will government officials co-operate?
    These questions are of more concern to me than who sits on the committee. I am eager to hear the answers. With all due respect, dear colleagues, I encourage us to work effectively and collaboratively.
    Now, let us get to work.

  (1335)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member fully when he says “let's get to work”. This is something we very much want to see happen. It is within the legislation that this standing committee is required. How much weight, for example, will the standing committee give to the RCMP commissioner, who talked about the benefits of having this tool, or the interim Ottawa chief of police, who used this tool virtually immediately from the moment in which it was proclaimed, or very close to that?
    It is important that once the committee gets together, it assigns the appropriate amount of weight so that as legislators we can look at ways in which we can improve upon the system. I am wondering if the member could provide his thoughts. This process should enable us to improve the system going forward. Would he not agree?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his question, and I share his concern.
    I too am confident that the committee will give due weight to each position. It will study documents and hear witnesses. The value of one person’s testimony should not be tainted by the value of another person’s testimony. We can get the job done. However, it has to start now.
    I understand my colleague’s concern. Although I know that it is not up to him to answer my questions, I am tempted to ask whether he can commit on behalf of his government to co-operate with the committee, since that is my concern. Will the committee get the documents? Will it have access to the Prime Minister and the ministers responsible when it wants to question them?
    That is our main concern. However, I fully agree with my hon. colleague that due weight must be given to every person involved.
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from the Bloc Québécois. We need to create this committee soon.

[English]

    I know there has been an issue of public and private information that becomes available to the committee, and how much should be public and how much should be private.
    I know the member has expertise in this field. I am interested to know, as we move forward, what sort of criteria he would be looking for on public information to made public and private information to be made private. I think it is a fair question.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his excellent question. I think that the committee’s mandate is exceptional, as I mentioned in my opening speech, since I do not think we have had the occasion to study the use of the Emergencies Act very often in the House.
    Since world events have been pressing upon us week after week in the past two years, I am convinced that future members of the House will look back in a few years on what we did. We need to send them the right message. Yes, we will need all the information, because the committee’s report will probably be studied for many years to come.
    Mr. Speaker, there is consensus among three of the four parties recognized in the House, as well as among most groups in the Senate. It seems to me that we could have adopted this motion by unanimous consent today and started work tomorrow.
    However, one party is refusing to consent. I would like to know whether my colleague finds it unfortunate that we have to wait several days, rather than start tomorrow morning by consensus of the majority of the parties in the House and Senate.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question. I, too, would like to get started on this right away because, as I said from the start, I think that this is an important mandate that must be carried out diligently and responsibly. I would have liked for this motion to be adopted unanimously and for the committee to start its work tomorrow morning.
    However, since we do not always get what we want in life, I will settle for hoping that this is done with diligence, that we resolve this issue and that the committee is able to start its work this week. We must not take forever to decide on the composition of the committee. My colleague is right; we need to get to work as soon as possible.

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are talking here about the creation of a joint committee, which is important because it is the next logical step to the Emergencies Act, an exceptional measure. I am using the Prime Minister's words to make sure that people are not saying that the member for La Prairie is exaggerating again.
    When the Prime Minister said that he was invoking the act, he said that it was the ultimate tool and the last resort, so much so that this law's predecessor, the War Measures Act, was used only three times in Canadian history. The Emergencies Act has not been used since it was created in 1988. It needs to remain an exceptional measure.
    I welcome the creation of the joint committee to examine what was done before the act was invoked. We need to conduct a review and find out what happened beforehand in order to determine whether the use of this ultimate tool was justified. Obviously, we are in favour of this exercise. It is mandatory, but we still want to say that we think it is an excellent idea.
    If the committee is to look back at what happened, it must absolutely examine the crisis as a whole and explore what questions need to be asked as a result of those events. The first point I want to make is that even before the truckers arrived in Ottawa, they made it clear that they planned to protest in front of Parliament. Some of them left Vancouver in their 53-foot-long trucks, and they did not get here over night. Let us just say that if they were clean shaven when they left, they looked more like ZZ Top when they arrived. I do not know how many days it took, and yet people here were surprised and wondered what they were going to do.
    Why did it take so long to figure out how to let them protest here but without actually taking over and occupying the city? There had to be a way. Quebec City managed to do it, and it could very well have been done here, too.
    During the first two weeks, we hardly saw the government, and the Prime Minister was pretty much absent. First he added fuel to the fire, but then said it was up to the police to resolve the matter. It will be important to paint an accurate picture of the government's actions. Was the government's inaction as bad as it seemed? Some questions need to be asked.
    People can be like ducks. They can appear calm and still on the surface while paddling like mad under the water. Was that the case here? Was the government paddling like mad or did it do nothing? It is important to look at what actually happened.
    Did the government use every tool at its disposal before using this last resort? Did it reach out to the various police forces? Did it offer any assistance? When the chief of the Ottawa Police Service said he needed help from the federal government, was that request acted upon? What was done?
    If the committee is to do a decent job, it must answer those questions and look at what measures were actually taken. I could go on and on because we have so many questions.
    The Emergencies Act was invoked on February 14, but the government did nothing with it until five days later. I wonder why. When it finally took action, did it use the legal tools available? Could authorities have done what they did on that weekend without using the Emergencies Act? In other words, was it necessary? We do not know and we wonder.
    The following Monday, after the people left, we arrived here and were told that it was awful, and that we absolutely needed to continue using the legislation. The Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois wondered, and rightly so, what we were fighting against, and who we were intervening against with this legislation. There was no one left outside.
    They tried hard to convince us. They twisted themselves into a knot. At one point they said that the situation is unacceptable and we absolutely must keep enforcing this legislation. The Liberals and the NDP wanted everyone to know that this was essential.

  (1345)  

    However, on the Wednesday, 42 hours later, the government announced that it no longer needed to invoke the act after all. It was like a balloon at a porcupine party; 42 hours later, the whole thing was suddenly over and the act was no longer needed.
    That makes no sense. Can we find out what happened? On Monday evening, the government was saying that it absolutely had to intervene, even though we could not see why. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, since you were there, playing close attention and thinking the speeches were good. You were probably a bit surprised when the government, which was pushing to still invoke the act on Monday evening, decided it was no longer necessary by Wednesday.
    For these reasons, it is extremely important to have a special joint committee to figure out what, exactly, happened, whether the invocation was worthwhile and, if this situation were to happen again, how the government could be more effective.
    The Bloc Québécois's approach was simple. We wanted it to happen fast, we wanted to come to an agreement quickly and we wanted a neutral chair. Because all of the parties' positions were clear, we wanted a neutral chair that reflected the views both in favour and against.
    This, therefore, made a single chair impossible, unless that person had a personality disorder. We then needed two co-chairs, one person in favour and one against, or two in favour and two against. That is what the Bloc Québécois was calling for. Above all, the Bloc Québécois was looking for a consensus.
     Earlier, my colleague from the NDP said that his party's position was shared by two of the three other recognized parties in the House. I disagree. The Bloc Québécois was against it. Based on what my colleague, the official opposition house leader, said, he would not be okay with it either. I am not great at math, but one plus one equals two. There was more than one party against it. The Bloc Québécois was also against it because we wanted a consensus, but for that to happen, the chair would have to be neutral.
    The Liberal motion proposes that the co-chairs be one NDP member, thus in favour, one Bloc member, thus against, and one independent senator, a Liberal, and thus in favour. If I have calculated correctly that makes two co-chairs in favour and one against. That is not impartial, and it is not what we are looking for. The Conservatives' amendment proposes that there be two co-chairs consisting of a Conservative senator, thus against, and a Liberal MP, thus in favour. We like that better.
    We have seen the parties argue about who will serve as co-chairs. I can say that the Bloc Québécois has always sought consensus, and I am convinced that all leaders of the other parties will agree on that. That was and continues to be our position.
    We must get to work quickly, and do so in the most intelligent way possible. There was a crisis and the government used a tool that we believe was disproportionate. We are asking to be convinced. It may be that behind closed doors the government will pull a rabbit out of a hat, which will convince us that its decision was not that crazy. It is possible, and that is all we want to find out.
    That is why we are here. The Bloc Québécois will fully co-operate in order to get to the bottom of what happened and to ensure that this act will never be used again unless it is truly warranted.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, one thing we can recognize in the government resolution is that the Bloc was in opposition to the Emergencies Act being implemented as an opposition party. The NDP, on the other hand, was in favour of the Emergencies Act. We have two co-chairs, one in favour and one opposed, who are in a far better and greater position to be independent in taking on their role of chair.
    Does the Bloc party not see the value in having two opposition parties? I do not believe Bloc members were promoting and congratulating the protests out front.

  (1350)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    He is right in saying that the Bloc Québécois and the NDP represent one in favour and one opposed. The problem is that there is one presumably independent senator. We generally know where “independent” senators stand or which side they are on. It is like the leaning tower of Pisa, as Maurice Duplessis said.
    Two essential conditions must be met. First, the condition of impartiality is not being met. Second, there must be a consensus.
    The Bloc Québécois agrees, but we would have liked all of the parties to be in agreement so that we could reach a consensus. That is all.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, one thing that has come to light throughout the course of this whole thing is how important it is for the government to be held to account for its actions in invoking the Emergencies Act. However, the government and the NDP seem to be holding some opposition parties to a greater account.
    To the hon. member from the Bloc, how important is it for us to hold the government to account on this?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague and thank him for the question.
    Once again, we need to emphasize how important impartiality is. In that regard, I want to point out that, in the beginning, the Conservatives wanted a Conservative chair, just to follow up on the thoughts and comments my colleague just shared with us.
    When I spoke with the leader of the official opposition, he expressed interest in having an impartial chair, so I can only applaud his openness and willingness to compromise.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my esteemed colleague for his speech.
    I in turn will ask him a question about the importance of reaching a consensus. It is all well and good for my colleague to work on reaching a consensus, and that is also what the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and I are trying to do, but there is no consensus. That is where things stand.
    I find that sad. Instead of obtaining the unanimous consent of the Bloc Québécois, the government and the NDP today on a motion that will let the committee get to work tomorrow, we will have to debate it for several days.
    Does he too find that sad?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    I obviously find that to be sad. However, when four parties are involved, the agreement of two or three of them does not constitute a consensus. To reach a consensus, all four parties must agree.
    We have discussed this at length, and I worked to reach a consensus. Unfortunately, we were not able to do so because of the rigid position of some people in this place. What can I do?
    I cannot reinvent the wheel. I have to say that there is no consensus. I would have liked to reach a consensus, but we do not have one. The Bloc Québécois cannot perform miracles.
    Mr. Speaker, I unfortunately have only five minutes. Like my other colleagues who have risen in the House today, I want to say that our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people. As we all know very well, the bombing has resumed, and it is getting more intense.
    In the name of all parliamentarians in the Parliament of Canada and the democratic life we have in Canada, I want to say that our thoughts are with the parents taking to underground shelters to protect their children from missiles, air strikes and artillery fire.
    Our thoughts are of course with the citizens and soldiers confronting the Russian tanks bearing down on them. They are demonstrating great courage and making huge sacrifices to preserve their democracy.

  (1355)  

[English]

    I'll start today like so many other colleagues have. I know I speak for all members of Parliament here when I say that our thoughts are profoundly with the people of Ukraine, where currently parents are protecting their children in underground fallout shelters and bomb shelters as the bombs have started up again. It is even more serious than what we saw yesterday. Our thoughts are with the civilians and soldiers who are standing up to Russian tanks as we speak. These are citizens standing up in defence of their democracy, and it is something all of us feel profoundly. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine at this very moment.
    Since I only have a few minutes, I would like to address the motion that is before the House. This motion is to put in place an oversight committee to ensure that we get an appropriate parliamentary review of the Emergencies Act. I know that all member of Parliament believe this is fundamentally important. I think there have been a lot of discussions over the past week and a half, and the motion that has been introduced is something we support.
    We believe profoundly that we need to get to the bottom of this and need to get answers for the people of Ottawa, Windsor and other communities that saw their jobs taken away in a moment by the blockades and the occupation. We know the people of Ottawa suffered egregiously during the occupation. Seniors and people with disabilities were unable to get essential services. We know that a wide variety of families were subjected to harm to their hearing because of the loud noise of the industrial horns going 24 hours a day, and to harm because of toxic diesel fumes. As members know, for three weeks Ottawa was the most polluted city in the entire country. That comes with health risks that will continue to be felt for months if not years to come. There was vandalism, assaults and general lawlessness. All of us who were here over that three-week period, particularly on weekends, saw first-hand that there was simply no longer rule of law in this community. All of those things need to be responded to by this oversight committee.
    What the government is putting forward is something that has been discussed and negotiated. As I mentioned earlier, three parties of the House of Commons agreed to it and one party refused, which is their right. However, with unanimous consent, we could have been moving forward tomorrow morning with this oversight committee, and I regret that there is no consensus to do that.
    We also have a fair provision for our parties. The Conservative Party would have the strongest representation. When we consider both the Senate side and the House of Commons side, the Conservative Party would be represented more than any other party on this committee. The government party would have significant representation, but the Bloc, the NDP, the Progressive Senate Group and the Independent Senators Group would all be represented as well. There was a serious attempt to have good representation from all parties and a serious attempt to have co-chairs who represent both sides of the debate around the Emergencies Act.
    I believe the government and the opposition parties that are in agreement with this principle want to move ahead quickly. We could have moved ahead tomorrow morning if we had seen agreement from the fourth party in the House of Commons. We would have been able to move ahead immediately. I suggest to all members that we need to move rapidly on oversight, and we need to move rapidly to put in place this parliamentary review committee.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Hindu Religious Symbol

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of over one million Canadians of several religious faiths and, in particular, Hindu Canadians, and as being a Hindu Canadian myself, I call up members of the House and all Canadians to distinguish between the Hindu religious sacred symbol swastika and the Nazi symbol of hatred called hakenkreuz in German or “the hooked cross” in English.
    In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, swastika means “that which brings good luck and well-being”. This ancient and greatly auspicious symbol of the Hindu religion continues to be used today at our Hindu temples, in our religious and cultural rituals, at the entrances to our homes and in our daily lives. Please stop calling the Nazi symbol of hatred a swastika.
    We support the ban of the Nazi symbol of hatred, the hakenkreuz or the hooked cross, but calling it a swastika is to deny us, Hindu Canadians, our religious right and freedom to use our sacred symbol swastika in our daily lives.

Rare Disease Day

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in recognition of Rare Disease Day.
    The theme of this year's Rare Disease Day is “Share Your Colours”. I offer this limerick in honour of this special day:
    

Millions in canada, two-thirds of them youth
Battle rare disease daily, a sad, sombre truth

These diseases touch families and count several thousand
From MS through Alport and von Recklinghausen

They are tough on their children but also their parents
For those stricken with grief, I understand as I share it

My three oldest children battle ills of this kind
And the youngest I lost is always on my mind

We here in this chamber have a big role we share
Supporting access to treatments and affordable care

So whether team blue, red, green, orange or grey
Please join me in celebrating this Rare Disease Day

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, people across Canada are in solidarity in showing and demonstrating support for the people of Ukraine. What we are seeing in Ukraine today is horrific, but Canadians are responding. They are showing up at rallies and demonstrations. In my own home city of Winnipeg, thousands of people came out in solidarity for Ukraine. They are sending money. They are sending prayers.
    The Government of Canada is providing lethal weapons and humanitarian aid. Canadians are coming together because of their concern and love for Ukraine.
    Today I am calling for the House to unanimously support the efforts of all Canadians to be there for Ukraine in solidarity as one.
    Long live Ukraine.

[Translation]

Gisèle Pomerleau

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to pay one last tribute to Gisèle Pomerleau, an exceptional woman who passed away at the age of 81.
    Ms. Pomerleau founded the Centre des femmes de Montréal-Est—Pointe-aux-Trembles in 1995 and stood up for women's rights her entire life. Her mission was to help women recognize their potential, and she believed in it so much that she single-handedly ran her organization, using her personal savings at the beginning and then fundraising to the last penny. Newspapers, plays, conferences, round tables, she used any means she could to promote women's rights. Gisèle Pomerleau was also known as a seniors' advocate.
    This pioneer's name will definitely not be forgotten. Gisèle Pomerleau made her mark on the development of La Pointe-de-l’Ile, and now a social housing project will soon bear her name.
    We thank Gisèle Pomerleau, and we will be there to ensure that her mission is carried out.

[English]

C.D. Farquharson Community Association

    Today, I am pleased to rise and recognize the C.D. Farquharson Community Association on their joyous 50th anniversary.
    It all began when a few residents decided to tackle such local issues as area development, education and community infrastructure. In April 1972, the association's first president, Maurice Liberty, wrote to all residents, urging them to get involved. Named after Scarborough's former medical officer of health, Dr. C.D. Farquharson, the association began with 600 households and is now 1,400 strong.
    Over the decades, hundreds of dedicated volunteers have worked tirelessly on projects like the creation of a neighbourhood watch team and block parent program.

[Translation]

    Congratulations to the current president, Gary Loughlin, and all the past and present members of the association for achieving this incredible milestone. I congratulate them for having built, shaped and supported what is now one of the most dynamic and diverse communities in Toronto.
    I wish them a happy 50th anniversary.

  (1405)  

[English]

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to stand with Ukraine and its people for the principles of peace and democracy and to condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
    For the people of Ukraine facing war and for the millions of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage who see their historical lands under attack, Canada's official opposition will continue, as we have been proud to do, to do everything we can to ensure that Canada steps up and does its part.
     Vladimir Putin's aggression is an alarming wake-up call to Canada and the free and democratic world, and likewise threatens the safety and security of every Canadian and of democracy itself. Policy needs to reflect the geopolitical reality of our world. From doing our part to ensure that western dollars do not pay for oil and gas that funds Russian aggression to ensuring that there is a strong NATO that stands up for what is right, the defence of democracy in Ukraine is the defence of democracy in Canada and around the world.
    Slava Ukraini.

Black History Month

    Mr. Speaker, “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day” is the theme for Black History Month this year. I am proud to highlight two important initiatives from my riding that will be embedded in Canadian history this year and beyond.
     First, I want to highlight the work of Kwame Delfish, the artist who designed the 2022 Underground Railroad coin for the Royal Canadian Mint to capture the painful history and journey of people of African descent searching for freedom in Canada.
    Second, the Scarborough charter brings together over 52 post-secondary institutions to address anti-Black racism and to promote inclusion and equality in higher education. At its core are its guiding principles: Black flourishing, inclusive excellence, mutuality and accountability.
    I want to acknowledge the leadership of Principal Wisdom Tettey and his colleagues at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus.
    Happy Black History Month.

Heart Month

    Mr. Speaker, February is Heart Month. We recognize the importance of heart health and taking action against heart disease, a serious and growing problem and leading cause of death in Canada.
    For women, heart disease is the number one cause of premature death and 20% more women die of heart failure than men. However, women's cardiovascular health is under-researched and women often do not know the signs.
    The good news is that heart disease is preventable. Beating heart disease means focusing on women's heart health and prevention. It means implementing initiatives like mandatory front-of-package nutrition labelling to help inform busy shoppers, a tax on vaping products and restricting flavours in vape products, which are being used by youth at alarming rates.
    I would also like to acknowledge the Heart and Stroke Young Leaders, a group of professionals in their twenties and thirties, like Oakville North—Burlington's Charmain Tulloch, who are encouraging young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and prevent heart disease.

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, the Putin regime's unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine has shocked millions of Canadians, including thousands in my riding who are of Ukrainian descent. Canadians now understand that the threat from Russia is no longer theoretical. They are resolute in their support for Ukraine and want Canada to do all we can to stop the Russian aggression and restore Ukraine's territorial integrity.
    Canada, together with our allies, must respond with immediate and long-term actions. Canada must immediately expel the Russian ambassador to our country, and recall our ambassador from Moscow. The Canadian government must act immediately to support and expand our energy sector so that the free world can have a reliable source of ethical and environmentally produced energy. Finally, the government must also take seriously our Arctic sovereignty and military preparedness.
    I call on the government to make these and other actions, which support Ukraine and our NATO partners, a priority.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Easing of Measures at the Border

    Mr. Speaker, effective today, we are easing our measures at the border and preparing to once again welcome tourists in large numbers. I am proud of our tourism sector and we look forward to a strong and swift recovery.

[English]

    As of today, the travel advisory is no longer in effect. Speaking as somebody working closely with our tourism industry, I can only rejoice, rejoice that we have collectively made it to this stage in the pandemic where the easing of our border measures was possible to do safely.
    The tourism industry brought in $100 billion to our GDP before the pandemic, and I, for one, want it back.
    To all of our hard-working hotel and restaurant workers, to all the small businesses that rely on tourism and to our fantastic tourism operators and travel agents, I say, yes, go get them. To all the hard-working Canadians who just need a beach and a break and want to travel, I say, yes, let us do this.

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, I, like many Canadians, am a proud descendant of Ukrainian immigrants. Seeing the solidarity of Canadians with Ukraine has reminded me that this conflict is not just personal for Canadians with direct ties to Ukraine.
    This conflict is personal to parents who are seeing families separated by conflict. Seeing parents fleeing with their children and sending them to safety before returning to fight has deeply affected me and so many. This conflict is personal to anyone who believes in the spirit of democracy in the face of autocrats. This conflict is personal for anyone who believes in the spirit of democracy. This conflict is personal for anyone who has seen or remembers the horror of armed conflict.
    I think just about every Canadian citizen has good reason to see the invasion as a personal attack, not just on the people of Ukraine but on all of us, and we must respond accordingly. Our response to this unprovoked and despicable aggression must be strong and swift. We must continue to put pressure on Putin until the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from the sovereign nation of Ukraine.
    Slava Ukraini.

[Translation]

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, whether in Lac-Mégantic, Thetford Mines, Plessisville or even here in Ottawa, our world has changed over the past few days. The word “freedom” has been given a whole new meaning. Unfortunately, the unthinkable has happened: Evil has awakened and revealed its true nature.
    Today, whether in Kyiv, Kharkiv or Odessa, peace has turned into war and happiness has turned into fear. People do not know what will happen or if they even have a future. Today, from Moscow to St. Petersburg, fathers and mothers are finding out that their sons, their friends and their neighbours have taken up arms against their Ukrainian cousins. From Canada to Poland to France, solidarity has also awakened. It has awakened to the horror of a vicious attack that was both unjustified and unprovoked and that served to satisfy the desires of a power-hungry leader looking to build his legacy.
    In the meantime, thousands of people are being killed. We cannot remain silent. We cannot stand idly by. We must take action. I invite all parliamentarians from all democracies from every country to unite against Putin the dictator, to unite for the Ukrainian people and, most of all, to unite for peace.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion announced the construction of 1,458 social and affordable housing units under the second Canada-Quebec rapid housing initiative agreement.
    I am pleased that one of the initiative's 79 projects will be carried out in my riding of Alfred-Pellan. A total of $11.39 million has been allocated to Laval's municipal housing bureau for Habitation Bousquet, which will help build 24 new housing units for vulnerable or low-income individuals.
    Our government continues to help cities meet their housing needs and give the people of Quebec and of Laval, in particular, the peace of mind that housing can provide.

  (1415)  

[English]

Shannen's Dream

    Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago, the Parliament of Canada came together in an extraordinary motion of solidarity by unanimously passing Shannen's dream to end the systemic underfunding of first nation education.
    Shannen Koostachin had never seen a real school, but at the age of 13 she stood up to the brutal conditions in her home community of Attawapiskat First Nation and launched the largest youth-driven children's rights movement in Canadian history, forever changing the discussion about indigenous rights in Canada.
    Shannen Koostachin never lived long enough to see this historic vote in Parliament or the beautiful school that is in her community. She died in a terrible highway accident at 15, but is now commemorated as one of the 150 most influential women in Canadian history.
    If Shannen were here today, she would tell us that the fight is not finished. Yes, we have come a long way but children continue to have their rights denied through underfunding and a broken federal system.
    Shannen had a dream that all her little brothers and sisters could go to a comfy school and have their dreams realized. It is our duty to make Shannen's dream a reality for this generation.

[Translation]

Opposition to Invasion of Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, the world has been watching what has been happening in Ukraine over the past few days with shock, concern, anger and outrage. Everyone is haunted by the ghost of war. These fears are founded, and it is hard to find hope in these dark times.
    However, hope can be found where one might least expect it: in the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg and places all across Russia, where thousands of Russians are courageously demonstrating. According to the AFP, over the past few days, Russian police have arrested 6,000 people. Nevertheless, the rallying cry of “no war” and the voices calling for peace continue to echo across the country.
    The Russian people did not invade Ukraine; the Russian government did. Let us not conflate the two. On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I want to commend these brave women and men who are risking their own freedom to march for peace, for Ukrainians, for Russians and for the world.

[English]

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, unbelievably our worst nightmare has been realized with war again in Europe. Vladimir Putin's illegal and unjustified full-scale war against our beloved Ukraine has shocked the free world. No matter the cost, no matter what roadblocks Russia tries to put up, there can be no excuses. Canada and the west must do whatever it takes to support Ukraine. Nothing should be off the table.
    The cost of not supporting Ukraine in this fight is too great. It means that dictators, despots and thugs around the world can redraw the lines on the map by force and get away with it. This is a pivotal moment in the modern history of the world. What Canada does now matters.
    Let us be clear. The illusion of the peace dividend from the end of the cold war has been shattered. The barbarian Vladimir Putin must be held accountable for the atrocity he is committing in Ukraine now. The bravery of the people of Ukraine has inspired us. The skilled Ukrainian military and the courage of the citizens who are taking up arms against Russian tyranny is nothing short of breathtaking.
    Canada stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine.
    Slava Ukraini.

Hedley Lake

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a true hero we recently lost in my riding of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity. He was the last remaining survivor of the sinking of the SS Caribou, veteran Hedley Lake.
    From Fortune, Newfoundland and Labrador, he served with the British Royal Navy during the Second World War and later was deployed to Korea. He was one of the 101 survivors of the German attack on the Newfoundland passenger ferry in 1942. At age 24, he did everything possible to save as many lives as he could following the fatal torpedo attack.
    Loved by everyone in his hometown, he lived a full life to the age of 103 and brought so much joy and wisdom to everyone he met. I visited with him a couple of times and proudly presented him with a certificate for his 100th birthday, which brought a huge smile to his face. He truly appreciated it.
    On behalf of the House, I want to send condolences to Mr. Lake’s family and to the entire town of Fortune on this great loss.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the situation in Ukraine is heartbreaking and growing more troubling by the hour. We know it is constantly evolving, and although Conservatives support the government's actions to date, we do believe there are things that could have been done faster. Many of the government's actions were too little, too late. One thing we are asking the Canadian government to do right away is to expel Russia's ambassador to Canada and recall our ambassador from Russia.
    Will the government commit to doing that immediately?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada and Canadians are united in our support for the brave people of Ukraine and their extraordinary president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This is a fight between freedom and tyranny. Ukrainians are fighting for themselves and for all of us.
    As I rise for the first time in the House today, I would like to say to the people of Ukraine, from everyone in this House, how deeply we respect and admire them.
    Slava Ukraini.
    Mr. Speaker, we agree with the minister wholeheartedly. We think there are more things we can do to help Ukrainian people. Ukrainians are fleeing their country and they are looking for a safe place, but we know they do not want to be permanent refugees. They want to be able to live in a safe, peaceful and sovereign Ukraine.
    Canadians and Canada can be a safe haven for them. We have the opportunity right now to host Ukrainians who are being displaced by the Putin invasion. One of the things that we could do is allow visa-free travel for Ukrainians coming to Canada. Will the government commit today to remove the requirements for visas for Ukrainians coming to Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, in her previous question, the Leader of the Opposition asked about the Russian ambassador, and I would like to address that.
    Now is a time when everyone in the world must pick a side. A few brave Russian officials have spoken out against Putin's barbaric war. We encourage all Russians to oppose this war. Silence is complicity and following orders is not an excuse. When it comes to Canada's response, everything is on the table.
    Mr. Speaker, we look forward to a decision from the government on that very quickly.
    Many are saying what we have been saying for a long time and that is that Canada and the world need to end their dependency on Russian oil and gas. Canada imports almost $1 million worth of Russian oil every day. The Prime Minister has spent the last six years waging a war on Canadian oil and gas. That needs to end. It is bad for Canada, and it is bad for the world. It only helps Russia.
    When will the Prime Minister stop our dependency on Russian oil and instead work to get Canadian oil and gas to the world?
    Mr. Speaker, today Canada, together with our allies, took unprecedented action against a world-leading economy. We have hamstrung Russia's central bank, thus depriving Putin of access to his war chest. We have shown that sanctions do work and fortress Russia is exposed.
    We agree that oil and gas do fund Putin's war machine, and we are working on that too.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Putin's regime has gone too far, and the West must take action. We are witnessing the biggest war in Europe since the Second World War. Russian troops and aircraft have attacked Ukrainian civilians in defiance of international law.
    We believe the government can and should do more. Putin's regime can no longer enjoy a relationship with Canada. Will the Prime Minister declare the Russian ambassador to Canada persona non grata and immediately recall our ambassador from Moscow?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak directly to the brave people of Ukraine. Canada and Canadians are united in their support for the brave people of Ukraine and their extraordinary president. Ukrainians are fighting for themselves and for all of us. I would like to take this opportunity to say how deeply everyone in Canada admires and respects them.
     Slava Ukraini!

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, my legislative assistant has family and friends in Ukraine. He told me how hard it is for the Ukrainians who have been displaced by the conflict to get to safety.
    According to him, taxi drivers in Moldova are providing free taxi services at the border, hotels in Poland are providing free lodgings, and Romania is setting up camps to house Ukrainians. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians may flee the country before the war is over.
    The Government of Canada is expected to make an announcement today. What will Canada do today to help displaced Ukrainians?
    Mr. Speaker, I, too, have family in Ukraine. Our Canadian family spoke with our Ukrainian family on Saturday morning. We want to help our family in Ukraine and find a way for them to come to Canada. However, our family in Ukraine is refusing. They said they wanted to stay there because they feel they need to fight for freedom.
    We must help any Ukrainians who want to come to Canada, but we also need to help those who choose to stay in Ukraine.
    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I once again condemn Russia for its inhumane and unjustified attack on Ukraine. I would also like to express our solidarity and, I believe, the solidarity of the entire Quebec nation with the Ukrainian people in their courageous resistance.
    History is waiting for us to do everything we can today to help the people of Ukraine protect their country and their families. I therefore offer the Deputy Prime Minister the Bloc Québécois's unwavering support to maximize aid to Ukraine and sanctions against its aggressors.
    Can the Deputy Prime Minister provide details on what she expects from the opposition?
    Mr. Speaker, I think Quebeckers and Ukrainians share an enormous affinity and really understand one another.
    I want to thank my colleagues for their remarks. Together with our allies, we imposed unprecedented sanctions on the Russian economy today. Fortress Russia is exposed. It is a myth.
    Mr. Speaker, this is not only a war, but also a humanitarian crisis. Over 500,000 people have already fled Ukraine, and the European Union fears this number could rise to seven million.
    The government can do more for these families. It can remove visa requirements to speed up the arrival of Ukrainians who want to take temporary refuge in Canada. It can automatically extend all existing permits and visas to alleviate concerns.
    Will the Deputy Prime Minister maximize the Bloc Québécois's support and do everything possible to help these displaced persons?
    Mr. Speaker, our government understands on a personal level that Ukraine is also experiencing a humanitarian crisis.
    We also understand that Canada has a duty to help Ukrainians by providing a safe haven for them. That is why we have already begun to welcome Ukrainians, including those here in Canada who can no longer return home.
    Mr. Speaker, more than half a million refugees have left Ukraine in the wake of the brutal invasion launched by Vladimir Putin. They are travelling in crowded trains, by car, and sometimes on foot, carrying hastily packed luggage, especially women and children. These people are seeking refuge while Putin is bombing their homes.
    The Liberals have turned their backs on refugees in the past and recently. The Ukrainian people need our help. Will the Prime Minister reduce red tape, suspend visa requirements and welcome Ukrainians who have been forced to leave their country because of Vladimir Putin's attack?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I am very pleased that the House has reached a unanimous agreement today and that all parties, including the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and obviously our government, support Ukraine and the courageous people of Ukraine. It is important, and I am proud of us.
    As far as Ukrainian refugees are concerned, we are there for them. We have already done a lot, and we will continue to do more. They need our help, and they will get it.

[English]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are watching in horror as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians seek refuge from the unprovoked Russian invasion.
    The Liberals cannot recreate the disaster in Afghanistan, where those who risked everything to help our country were left behind. The European Union and, most recently, Ireland have already waived the requirements for visas for Ukrainians, and the NDP has been calling on the Liberals to do the same. However, this morning, immigration officials said that it is not even on the table.
    Time is of the essence. Will the government immediately waive visa requirements for Ukrainians?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member opposite that the world is watching in horror at what is happening in Ukraine, but I am also watching in pride at the incredibly brave resistance of the people of Ukraine.
    It is important for us to say that we continue to support them in their fight. When it comes to refugees, of course Canada is there for Ukrainians. We have been and we will be, and we will have more to say soon.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, Canada, like Ukraine, shares a border with Russia, our Arctic.
     We can no longer afford to take our sovereignty and security for granted. Russia considers the Arctic to be its most important theatre, its most important region, and has spent considerable resources over the last decade building up capabilities there.
     Will the government now act urgently to protect Canadian sovereignty and security by purchasing the F-35 jets, by fixing our naval shipbuilding program, and by immediately modernizing NORAD's early warning system?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for raising the issue of Arctic sovereignty, which our government takes extremely seriously.
    We are making landmark investments in this area, conducting joint exercises in the Arctic, purchasing six Arctic offshore patrol ships and enhancing surveillance. We will remain firm and unwavering in the protection of our Arctic, including in modernizing NORAD.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the government is not participating in joint military exercises between the United States and Scandinavian countries that have been taking place over the last year in the Arctic.
    Russia supplies 40% of Europe's natural gas and uses this to threaten European democracies by threatening to cut off gas. Canada is the fifth-largest natural gas producer in the world.
    Will the government now commit to fixing our broken pipeline approval process so that we can get new pipelines built to Atlantic tidewater and come to the assistance of European democracies by replacing Russian gas with Canadian natural gas?
    Mr. Speaker, the current situation in Ukraine certainly underscores the importance of energy security for Canada and for its allies.
    We are working very closely with our colleagues in the United States and in Europe to not only address short-term energy volatility but also to explore long-term energy options.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, for a month, Conservatives called on the government to provide Ukraine with lethal aid to defend itself from Russian aggression. The response was next to nothing, until it was too late.
    The Ukrainian general staff urgently needs bulletproof vests; MREs, or meals ready to eat; canned goods like meat, fish and vegetables; and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. When will Canada deliver?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, in this age of information and disinformation, I think it is important for us to be aware of the facts.
    Canada delivered, successfully, $7 million worth of lethal aid to Ukraine prior to the onset of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. I want this House of Commons to know that not only did we deliver that $7 million of aid, we also delivered $3 million of non-lethal aid and $700 million of economic support. We stand united with Ukraine.
    Mr. Speaker, this government is challenged on so many levels to act in a timely manner. National security and foreign affairs are where it fails its duty the most.
    The government sat on its hands and watched 175,000 Russian troops move to Ukraine's borders and then launch an all-out invasion. Our allies have sent a five-billion-euro package of aircraft, vehicles, anti-tank weapons and stinger launchers. Small arms, sniper rifles and well-wishes do not cut it.
    When will this government give Ukraine anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, and—
    The hon. minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I have had multiple conversations with defence minister Reznikov from Ukraine, and we have provided support that Ukraine has requested, including lethal and non-lethal aid, including economic and financial aid, and we are in constant touch with Ukraine. In fact, Minister Reznikov called Canada a very, very dear friend, and I look forward to continuing to support him and his country in this time of need.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Vladimir Putin just put Russia's nuclear forces on alert. He is a dangerous man, and we must not forget that Russia is our neighbour to the north west. As the crow flies, Russia is not far from Canada.
     The Prime Minister has been caught off guard because he neglected to modernize the north warning system and is still refusing to buy F-35s. Canada's sovereignty in the north is in jeopardy.
    Is the Minister of Defence aware of this? What is she doing?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada will continue to work with its American partners to modernize NORAD so we can face current and future challenges related to Arctic protection and sovereignty. That is why budget 2021 includes $252.2 million as an initial investment.
    We will continue to work with our American partners to ensure our Arctic sovereignty.
    Mr. Speaker, that $250 million will be used to pay an Inuit company to maintain the system, but the system is obsolete. It is finished. It is urgent that it be replaced. The government has known this for a long time.
    We have another problem. Aluminerie Alouette in Sept-Îles was the victim of a cyber-attack. Cybersecurity experts believe that it was a Russian attack and that cyber-attacks will definitely increase. The Prime Minister responded that everything is being done to ensure the security of Canadians, but Russia is attacking Canada's cybersecurity.
    Can the Prime Minister confirm that Canada has the resources it needs to protect the government's systems and help private businesses defend themselves against Russia's attacks?
    Mr. Speaker, cyber-attacks are part of Russia's strategy. It is essential that we strengthen our cybersecurity and protect our critical infrastructure. The Communications Security Establishment has the tools it needs to protect Canada and Canadians. I meet regularly with the chief of CSE.
    We are here to protect cybersecurity for Canadians.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, we wish to reiterate our steadfast support for the Ukrainians who are fighting to defend their country, their cities and towns, their homes and, most of all, the people they love.
    Today, Canada and its allies must send a historic and unequivocal message to Russia, to Vladimir Putin and to all current and future leaders. Anyone who starts a war must pay a very heavy price. Aggressors must be isolated.
    Will the minister work with her partners to exclude Russia from the G20, among other things?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, Canada and our allies have responded to Russia's invasion of Ukraine with tough, coordinated economic sanctions.
    Our goal is to exert maximum pressure on Putin's regime in response to his blatant defiance of international law. The help we announced yesterday is one important contribution, and we will be sending more.
    All options are on the table, and we will respond firmly to the escalating crisis caused by Russia.
    Mr. Speaker, the message sent by NATO countries must be historic and unequivocal. I will say it again: The price for starting a war must be as high as possible, and the aggressors must be isolated. All aggressors must be targeted.
    Belarus has disgraced itself once again by allowing Russia to use its territory to launch its invasion of Ukraine. Minsk is reportedly even about to send in its own troops.
    Will the minister take steps to convince her partners to apply each of the sanctions imposed so far on Russia on Belarus as well?
    Mr. Speaker, we continue to work with our partners.
    We will continue to impose sanctions. We have already trained more than 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers. We have provided significant financial assistance. We have sent lethal and non-lethal aid, and we are strengthening our work in NATO in the west.
    Mr. Speaker, the primary victims of war are always the citizens, and this holds true again in this case.
    Half a million Ukrainians have already had to leave their country, leaving behind not only their loved ones, but their entire lives. As parliamentarians, we have a historic duty to help them.
    The government recently announced that it would match every donation Canadians make to the Red Cross, but only up to $10 million. I think we can all agree that this cap is inappropriate. Will the government remove the cap and commit to doing everything it can to help Ukrainians who are in forced exile?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all the Canadians who made generous donations to the Red Cross to support the Ukrainian people.
    We will do more. We are monitoring the situation very closely, getting an understanding of what is needed and then providing appropriate support. This will be in addition to the $50 million for humanitarian and development support that we have already provided.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, Canada sends half a billion dollars per year to Russia to import its oil. The government has clearly chosen against building Canadian pipelines. The result was a decision by the Liberal government to instead fund the oppressive regime in Russia. The government boasts about giving $120 million to Ukraine and then sends half a billion dollars per year to Russia to fund Putin's war machine.
    Does the government now realize that its choice to kill Canadian energy projects has funded Russia's invasion of Ukraine?
    Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the current situation in Ukraine underscores the importance of energy security, both in Canada and for our allies in Europe. We are working actively with our allies on both short-term and longer-term energy supply options with respect to ensuring that energy security is top of mind in Europe and is ongoing.
    I will correct my hon. colleague, as 2019 was the last year when crude oil was imported into Canada. His figures are actually incorrect.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadian oil is the most environmentally sustainable on the planet. Refineries in my riding are part of the energy economy that is a fifth of our GDP.
    Why does Liberal ideology always want to shut down Canadian oil in favour of production from dictators and people who violate human rights?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, certainly the oil and gas sector in this country is an important part of this economy. It will continue to be an important part of this economy, but as I said to the previous questioner, the hon. member is simply incorrect. The last time crude oil was imported into Canada at the Irving Oil refinery was in 2019.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as long as we need oil and natural gas, we on this side of the House will always stand up for this Canadian energy sector.
    Over the past 20 years, Canadians have purchased $13 billion worth of Russian oil from Putin. I am sorry, but we do not need that. Meanwhile, the government's goal is to slowly eliminate Canada's energy potential.
    Why, with its ideologically narrow-minded and closed-off attitude, is the government once again putting us in a position where we have to defend Canadian energy?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is one of the best countries for businesses. Under our government, oil imports have consistently declined, having reached their lowest level in 10 years.
    This is certainly an important issue, and we are working with our partners in Europe and the United States to ensure energy security.

[English]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, today's IPCC report is a dire warning about the consequences of empty Liberal promises. The brief window to ensure a livable future is rapidly closing. While Canadians are scared about the future, the Prime Minister is sticking his head in the sand. He is ignoring the science, handing out billions to big oil and gas and buying pipelines to fight the climate crisis. Canada has missed every single climate target. We have the worst record of any G7 country.
    We are in a climate emergency. When is the government going to start acting like it?
    Mr. Speaker, the IPCC report shows what people around the world already know: that countries need to take bold action to tackle climate change and adapt actions to fight climate change. We must cut our emissions and build resiliency through our society. Canadians cannot afford another term of Conservative inaction on this file. Since we took office in 2015, our government has committed more than $100 billion to climate action, and we are now developing Canada's first-ever national adaptation strategy.
    Mr. Speaker, the planet cannot afford the current environment minister. I encourage him to actually read the IPCC report, which has been described as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership”. There we have exhibit one.
    The government held 6,800 backroom meetings with big oil. It left taxpayers on the hook for a $21-billion pipeline. It has given heavy subsidies to the oil industry, which is now talking about massive increases in production.
    The planet is on fire. Why is the minister letting the big oil lobby lead him around by the nose when he should be standing up for Canadians and standing up for the planet?
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind my hon. colleague that through carbon pricing we went all the way to the Supreme Court against four provinces, including his province and my own, to fight to ensure we could use one of the best tools to fight climate change, which is carbon pricing. We are still unfortunately fighting in the courts against some provinces to continue to be able to fight for Canadians and for the health of our children and grandchildren when it comes to climate change.

Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
    Many business owners from my riding of Ottawa South had to close their downtown establishments in the face of the illegal blockades. The occupation carried on for more than 20 days, and the cost to local businesses was simply staggering.
    Could the minister please update the House on what measures the government is taking to help these very hard-hit small businesses?
    Mr. Speaker, on February 19, 2022, I announced the Government of Canada would make an investment of up to $20 million to provide non-repayable contributions to Ottawa businesses that had suffered financial loss due to the illegal blockades. This announcement reinforces our government's commitment to helping communities, families and businesses build a strong and resilient economic recovery. We continue to work to ensure businesses affected get the supports they need.

  (1450)  

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Coutts, Emerson and Windsor borders were cleared before the Prime Minister invoked the Emergencies Act. It was not required for demonstrators to leave Ottawa either. Security and financial experts say there were no real threats to Canada and no suspicious financial activity. A lawyer who actually helped draft the act said it was unnecessary, that the burden of proof was not convincingly met and that there was “no evidence” of a threat to the security of Canada.
    What changed between the Prime Minister supporting it on Monday night and revoking it on Wednesday?
    Mr. Speaker, the Emergencies Act was essential to law enforcement success in ending blockades and protests across the country. We always said we would not keep the act in force for any longer than was necessary, and we made good on that commitment. As we have said since the beginning, we are acting on the advice of law enforcement members and giving them the tools they need. We will continue to provide all of the enforcement tools that are required to maintain public safety.
    I again want to thank all the members of the RCMP and law enforcement for the exceptional job they did.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister implied that protesters were terrorists. On Friday, the deputy director of FINTRAC was asked if terrorists were using crowdfunding platforms to launder money. He said, “We have not seen them. It is not a high risk”, but Canadians' accounts were frozen and sweeping powers were put in place. Last week, Conservatives asked if the Liberals got a legal opinion. The justice minister just said that he felt standards were met, which is not, of course, an actual legal assessment.
    I will ask again. Will the Liberals release the legal opinion to Canadians? What changed in 36 hours?
    Mr. Speaker, the Emergencies Act was brought in during the mid-1980s. In direct response to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in this country, it provides for rigorous parliamentary oversight both in this place and in the other place. It also provides for review and, most importantly, the act requires that every measure that is undertaken under the act be compliant with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We will always respect the charter.
    Mr. Speaker, last Monday evening, despite the objections of the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québécois and even members of its own caucus, the government voted in support of the invocation of the Emergencies Act. By this time, the blockades and the protests had all resolved, yet unbelievably in less than 48 hours the government did a complete 180° and revoked the act.
    My question is simple. What changed?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear that the impact of the illegal blockades was devastating. We saw borders shut, we saw Canadians laid off, and we saw our communities and our neighbourhoods in danger. That is the reason why we had to invoke the Emergencies Act, and we did so on the basis of non-partisan, professional advice from law enforcement. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police supported us. The Canadian Police Association supported us, and all of the measures that were exercised were done with restraint, professionally and in a manner that was consistent with the charter.
    That is what we expected from law enforcement. They carried out the responsibilities with great professionalism, and we thank them for their work.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister used the Emergencies Act against protesters to freeze bank accounts, impound vehicles and arrest protesters, all of which could have been done with existing laws and bylaws. Canadians were led to believe that protesters were involved in acts of sedition and plots to overthrow the government, yet just charges relating to mischief were laid.
    Other than dropping in poll numbers, exactly what changed in 36 hours for the Prime Minister to terminate the use of the Emergencies Act?
    Mr. Speaker, what I can very simply explain to my colleague across the way is that the emergency measures and the measures we provided to law enforcement worked. In fact, we saw the illegal blockades that were tormenting the people of Ottawa removed from the streets, and the threat against our international borders and trade corridors was successfully removed.
    We relied on the information from the RCMP and our law enforcement partners to determine what was required. We provided them with the tools to do the job, and they did the job very ably.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the government forced a vote on this country's first-ever use of the Emergencies Act. Forty-four hours later, on Wednesday, the government announced that it was revoking the declaration.
    On Monday night, we were apparently facing the most serious national emergency of the 21st century. By Wednesday afternoon, however, the emergency had completely disappeared.
    Could the minister explain, in detail, what happened and what kind of advice he got during those 44 hours, or will he admit that we never needed the emergency measures in the first place?
    Mr. Speaker, the use of the Emergencies Act was absolutely essential to allow law enforcement to put an end to the blockades and protests across the country.
    We always said that the act would be enforced only for as long as necessary. As the RCMP commissioner pointed out, the Emergencies Act served as a big deterrent to the protests by incentivizing people to leave and giving the RCMP and its partners more authority in enforcing the law.
    Mr. Speaker, I think the minister read from the wrong page because there are a lot of questions like that one which the government is refusing to answer.
    The people have the right to know. That is why the Bloc Québécois welcomes the Prime Minister's promise to expand the inquiry into the use of emergency measures to include the role of the police, the convoy's funding sources and misinformation. However, that inquiry should not take place behind closed doors and under the government's control.
    Will the government promise to make the inquiry public and independent?
    Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand the Bloc Québécois.
    For a while, it said the government was not doing enough. Now it is saying the government did too much. Is the truth somewhere between the two for the Bloc?
    They were targeted measures. They were time-limited and geographically targeted. They got the job done.

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, in October, a constituent sent me an email. She works for the federal government. She said to me that if she did not get a vaccine, she would lose her job despite the fact that she was working remotely and could continue to work remotely. I received another message from a constituent who works for CP Rail. She had the same situation: get a vaccine or lose her job. She worked remotely in IT.
    These mandates are hurting Canadian families at a time when everything is more expensive. Ontario is lifting vaccine mandates March 1. When will the Liberals lift the mandates or give us a plan to do it?
    Mr. Speaker, vaccines are the best way to bring this pandemic to an end. We asked employees of the federal public service to attest to their vaccination status and they have stepped up: 99% of public servants stepped up.
    The policy will be reviewed every six months, and we will make sure that it is determined when it is still required. We know that having a fully vaccinated workforce means that not only are work sites safer, but so are the communities where this large population lives and works.
    Mr. Speaker, in my province of Alberta, some provincial restrictions have been lifted. Other restrictions, according to our premier, will be lifted very soon. With hospitalization rates decreasing, many constituents in my riding are asking why the Liberal government has no plan to remove all federal mandates.
    Canadians want to get their lives back. When will the Liberal government listen to science and provinces to remove all federal mandates?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to hear my colleague speak about science. The science has been very clear, over the last year and a half, that what works is vaccination. Vaccination is not a punishment. Vaccination is protection. Almost 90% of adult Canadians have been vaccinated twice. We are very grateful to the scientists of this country and other places. They have provided us with vaccines that work and are effective.
    Mr. Speaker, in my home province of Saskatchewan, Premier Moe has announced the dropping of public health measures. He was regularly consulting with his chief public health officer while holding press conferences to keep citizens informed. Many other provinces have announced their own plans to drop provincial mandates while regularly consulting their chief public health officers.
    This government has, for the last two years, been saying that it is listening to science, but the federal chief health officer has been inconsistent at best. When will the government drop the mandates?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak about Saskatchewan. I want to congratulate my colleague, Health Minister Merriman, for all his hard work and collaboration over the last few months. We worked really well together on rapid testing, on PPE, on the Paxlovid treatment against COVID-19, and on vaccinations. I want to congratulate all the people in Saskatchewan for having been vaccinated in such large numbers.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, over the last few days what we have seen is a brutal military assault by Vladimir Putin's regime in Russia on Ukraine, on democracy and on the international rules-based order that protects countries and civilians around the world. There are countless men, women and children who as we speak are being killed, who are displaced and who desperately need humanitarian assistance.
    Could the Minister of International Development please share with the House and with Canadians what Canada is doing to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Etobicoke Centre for his strong leadership and for advocating for the people of Ukraine. Canada is deeply concerned by the deepening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine that has been caused by President Putin, and we are monitoring the situation very closely on the ground. This is why our government has provided $50 million to support developing humanitarian aid and over $620 million in loan offers. Just on Friday, we announced that we would match, up to $10 million, the generous donations of Canadians to support Ukrainians through the Ukrainian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and we will do more.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, it has now been eight months since a wildfire completely destroyed the community of Lytton in my riding. My constituents still need help to get back home.
    Nearly two years ago, the government provided blank cheques without applications to select cities for housing projects under the rapid housing initiative in the major cities stream. What specific assistance will the minister provide to the village of Lytton to build purpose-built housing for vulnerable Canadians who lost everything?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's concern and advocacy for his community.
    The rapid housing initiative has far exceeded its initial targets. We have delivered over 10,250 new, permanent, affordable housing units for Canada's most vulnerable individuals, including those experiencing homelessness and those who are at risk of experiencing homelessness.
    The member opposite knows, from his time as my critic, that we have a number of programs in the national housing strategy for different kinds of housing needs across the housing spectrum. I am willing to work with him to address the needs of his community.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, my riding of Brantford—Brant includes two first nation reserves, one of which is the largest in the country. It breaks my heart when I review reports like the ones released by the Chiefs of Ontario and the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network. They stated that opiate deaths have doubled among first nations people in Ontario during the pandemic.
    The opiate crisis was recognized by every party during this past election. How many more lives need to be lost before the government starts taking the opiate crisis seriously?
    Mr. Speaker, I share the member's deep concern for the mental health of all indigenous people who are struggling with so many crises that have led to increases of all kinds of substance use problems and disorders. We have been working closely with first nations communities on programs and supports that are indigenous-led and that will lead to better mental health outcomes and better health for indigenous people across the country.
    I agree with the member opposite that we must do more, but it must be indigenous-led. That is the commitment of this government: to work with indigenous partners to ensure they have what they need.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Equinor Bay du Nord project presents an opportunity for Newfoundland and Labrador to accelerate economic growth coming out of the pandemic. Every barrel of low-carbon ethically produced oil from our offshore displaces a barrel of high-carbon foreign blood oil coming from Russia and the Middle East.
    On December 6, 2021, the Environmental Assessment Agency approved Equinor to proceed with Bay du Nord. Will the environment minister respect the process and approve this project, yes or no?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, the approval of this particular project is currently with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and therefore I am not going to comment on the process. However, I will say that our commitment has been unwavering. In our commitment to support—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I am going to interrupt the hon. minister.
    I am going to wait until everything calms down before we start up again. We started off really well and we are near the end. Let us see if we can make it extend a bit.
    Hon. minister, please proceed.
    Mr. Speaker, we remain committed to supporting energy workers in Canada and certainly to working with Newfoundland and Labrador specifically, with the Lower Churchill project, which will provide Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with clean energy for decades to come, and the offshore emissions reduction fund to help offshore workers.
    We have been there and we will continue to be there, working strongly with Newfoundland and Labrador to advance the economic agenda of that province going forward.

[Translation]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, public transit systems across Canada have been devastated by the pandemic. Effective public transit systems are essential for families, workers and communities.
    Can the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance explain what our government is doing to help rebuild public transit?
    Mr. Speaker, let me begin by expressing my full solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
    The hon. member for Châteauguay—Lacolle is absolutely right. That is why our government is providing municipalities with an additional $750 million in funding for public transit. This funding will help fill some of the operational gaps caused by the pandemic.
    This will include two important requirements. First, our provincial and territorial partners must match our contribution. Second, provincial and territorial governments must match the federal contribution.
    This is good news.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are getting slammed by the rising costs of housing, gas and groceries, among other things. A new poll reveals that over half of Canadians do not feel they can keep up with the rising cost of living.
    While most people are falling further behind, the ultrarich are getting richer using tax havens and loopholes. Where is the help for everybody else? Canadians would benefit from a cap on cellphone and Internet bills, from national pharmacare and from policies to cool the housing market.
    When can Canadians expect that help from the government?
    Mr. Speaker, we absolutely understand the challenges that Canadian families face with affordability, and that is why our government has acted and continues to act. We created the Canada child benefit, which is indexed to inflation. Today, a single mother with two children will receive up to $13,600 from the CCB. We lowered taxes for the middle class twice and raised them on the wealthiest 1%. We provided seniors with a one-time payment of $500 last summer and are increasing the OAS by 10%. There is, of course, early learning and child care, which will be transformative for young families.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, last week I met with Ilya and Liudmyla in my constituency office. They will soon be Canadian citizens and are excited to begin the next chapter of their lives. However, Liudmyla also told me that she is worried about her mom and her family, who are living in bomb shelters. In Ukraine, others are in long lines of refugees at the Polish border. Over 115,000 refugees are heading for safety in Poland. Thousands are also going to Romania and any EU country offering sanctuary. However, resources are being stretched to the brink.
    Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs inform the House if Canada will provide assistance to countries opening their borders to the Ukrainian exodus?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, Putin's war in Ukraine is an attack not just on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, but on the idea of democracy in Europe itself.
    We started preparing more than a month ago to welcome newcomers from Ukraine to Canada. On January 19, we started a process internal to our department to process applications on a priority basis and have processed more than 3,800 already. We have also created new pathways for people who are already here from Ukraine to make it easier for them to stay and to work while they are here so they can support themselves. In the very near future, we are going to be announcing new measures to make it easier and faster for Ukrainians who are fleeing the war to find safety here in Canada.

[Translation]

Raif Badawi

    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and I think that if you seek it you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
    That this House reiterate the motion adopted unanimously on January 27, 2021 and call upon the new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, to, in the case of Raif Badawi, exercise his discretion under Section 5 of the Citizenship Act which authorizes him to grant citizenship to any person to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    I hear none. The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

     (Motion agreed to)

[English]

Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I hope you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion. I move:
     That, given the Russian Federation's unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine, the House:
(a) Condemns this unjustified and unprovoked attack, which was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, as a clear violation of international law, the UN Charter, and the rights of Ukraine to sovereignty, territorial integrity, freedom and democracy;
(b) Condemns the illegal recognition by the Russian Federation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as so-called “independent states”, and the 2014 invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation and their illegal annexation of Crimea;
(c) Calls upon the Russian Federation to immediately end the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including, hospitals and schools.
(d) Call upon the Government of Canada, and all parties in the House of Commons, to support:
(i) The continued imposition of severe economic penalties, including sanctions, targeting President Putin's inner circle, including Russian oligarchs, and those who have supported this egregious violation of international law; and
(ii) The provision of support to the Government of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the provision of humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine; and
(iii) The issuing of an order of general application directing the CRTC to a new broadcasting policy that would remove state-controlled broadcasters that spread disinformation and propaganda from the CRTC's list of non-Canadian programming services and stations authorized for distribution, effectively removing Russia Today (RT) from Canadian airwaves; and
(iv) The removal of Russia from the SWIFT payment system, a critical part of the global financial system, an action which must be pursued in collaboration with international partners.
e) Stands unwavering and united in our solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay. It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Business of Supply

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that Thursday, March 3, 2022, shall be an allotted day.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs 

     Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of Committees of the House.
    If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the Fourth Report later this day.

  (1515)  

[English]

Fisheries and Oceans  

     Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following four reports of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans: the first report, entitled “Striped Bass in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and Miramichi River: Striking a Delicate Balance”; the second report, entitled “Implementation of the Mi’kmaw and Maliseet Treaty Right to Fish in Pursuit of a Moderate Livelihood”; the third report, entitled “Aquatic Invasive Species: A National Priority”; and the fourth report, entitled “Pacific Salmon: Ensuring the Long-Term Health of Wild Populations and Associated Fisheries”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to reports one, two and four.
    While I am on my feet, I would like to thank all the staff who helped make this possible: the interpreters, the clerk and the analysts.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to two of those reports.
    The first is the fisheries committee report on moderate livelihood. After extensive work at committee, Conservatives issued a dissenting report in response to the majority report. The majority report fails to adequately address the time-tested necessity of seasons for a reason.
    Years of science and research have made it clear that conservation of our Atlantic lobster stock is dependent on the fishing seasons, which optimize the ability for stocks to reproduce. This leads to a greater abundance and stronger ecosystem. We continue to see a lack of enforcement when it comes to out-of-season fishing. As the official opposition, we continue to call on the minister to fulfill her duties and responsibilities as laid out in Marshall decision and take immediate action to resolve the current situation.
    The second is the fisheries committee report “Pacific Salmon: Ensuring the Long-Term Health of Wild Populations and Associated Fisheries”. While the crisis facing the Pacific salmon may not be new, the state of Pacific salmon stocks has never been so dire. Over the past six years, five different fisheries ministers have asserted that the legislative changes, resources and direction that DFO has provided were sufficient to restore and protect Pacific salmon.
    However, the current state and continued declines of Pacific salmon clearly show the government's assertions and actions have failed. In our complementary report, Conservatives call on the federal government to connect federal resources with plans and actions that are already mandated, known and proven to support the recovery and conservation of Pacific salmon stocks.

[Translation]

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the following two reports of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
    The first report is entitled “A Study of Aircraft Certification in Canada in Light of Two Accidents Involving Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302”.
    The second report is entitled “Emerging from the Crisis: A Study of the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Air Transport Sector”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to each of these two reports.

[English]

    While I am on my feet, I would like to thank the hon. member for Niagara Centre, as well as all of the members of the committee, the committee staff and all of the witnesses who helped make these two reports possible.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled “Russia's Invasion of Ukraine”.

[English]

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, if you seek it at this time, I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be amended as follows: Mrs. Block (Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek) for Mr. Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry), Mr. Scheer (Regina—Qu'Appelle) for Mr. Barrett (Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) and Mr. Steinley (Regina—Lewvan) for Mr. Calkins (Red Deer—Lacombe).

  (1520)  

    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have been unable to say yes, because as far as I can find in the records of what was sent to my caucus team, we were unaware of this motion. I cannot see any reason we would object except, of course, that the Conservatives may object to any unanimous consent motion we might put forward. However, in the spirit of good graces—
    An hon. member: Oh, come on.
    Ms. Elizabeth May: “Oh, come on”? Excuse me, I have been in the House for nearly 11 years, and it is only recently that every request for unanimous consent put forward—
    I believe we are starting to get into debate here, so I am going to put the question. It is up to individuals to decide to give consent or not. I will leave it to individuals to make up their mind on that point.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    The motion is carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

    Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move:
    That the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    The motion is carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

Questions on the Order Paper

     The Speaker: Is that agreed?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Online Streaming Act

    The House resumed from February 16 consideration of the motion that Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, it is good to be back here. I will be splitting my time today with the hon. member for South Shore—St. Margarets.
    The Liberal government has no understanding of Canada, broadcasting or its history, which may be why the Liberals originally regulated broadcasting through the Department of Marine and Fisheries.
    The Aird 1928 Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting was the first to examine the state of radio broadcasting in Canada. Very few remember that commission. The nature of broadcasting has changed in the past century. However, there were conclusions that are still important to remember today. The Aird report was a model of efficiency that we would do well to take note of today. It was only 13 pages long, plus a few appendices. There was only one page devoted to programming content, which is where it was noted that, “Every avenue should be vigorously explored to give Canadian listeners the best programs available from sources at home and abroad.”
    This flawed legislation, Bill C-11 does nothing to provide Canadian listeners with the best programs. If anything, it discourages creative programming.
    Regulating programming made some sense in the 1930s, when the forerunner of the CRTC was created. Broadcasting then was limited to radio, and with a limited number of available frequencies, the government wanted to ensure a diversity of viewpoints and that Canadians had access to the airwaves.
    What did not make sense was the intertwinement of the regulator and the government-owned broadcaster created at the same time. Though the Liberals eventually realized that mistake, they continued to fail to understand the needs of Canadians and the nature of the dissemination of information in the 21st century.
     The government is picking up where it left off in the last Parliament and brings us a new bill to amend the Broadcasting Act. What it does not bring is new ideas, nor does it attempt to properly define what it means by “broadcasting”.
    According to Wikipedia, “Broadcasting is the distribution of audio or video content to a dispersed audience via any electronic mass communications medium, but typically one using the electromagnetic spectrum (radio waves), in a one-to-many model.”
    Britannica tells us:
    Broadcasting, electronic transmission of radio and television signals that are intended for general public reception, as distinguished from private signals that are directed to specific receivers. In its most common form, broadcasting may be described as the systematic dissemination of entertainment, information, educational programming, and other features for simultaneous reception by a scattered audience with appropriate receiving apparatus.
    By definition, this bill is not about broadcasting. Instead, it is about extending the reach of the government in an attempt to control the Internet and free speech. It may be cloaked in technical language, amended in this paragraph here and that paragraph there, but there is no doubt, the intent is to limit the choices of Canadians.
    We all know that the Internet bears no relation to traditional broadcasting. There is no frequency limitation online. The Internet is narrowcasting not broadcasting, as content creators can reach smaller segments of the population, which have not been served by traditional broadcasters.
    Canada is home to many world-class writers, actors, composers, musicians, artists and creators. They do not need government rules that would hold back their ability to be Canadian and to be global successes. Canadian content creators make most of their money, about 90%, outside Canada. Social media platforms are global, and Canadians are taking full advantage, both as creators of content and in enjoying what is available.

  (1525)  

    Canadian social media stars do not want the government telling them what to do when it comes to their work as Canadians. When the Liberals claim that there is now an exemption for user-generated content, this legislation would allow the CRTC to regulate any content that generates revenue directly or indirectly, which means that virtually all content would still be regulated, including independent content creators earning a living on social media platforms such as YouTube and Spotify.
    What has upset the Liberals, and the reason they want to provide us with a new definition of broadcasting with this bill, is that they have lost control. Back in the pre-Internet days, the state controlled broadcasting. People needed a licence from the state in order to start a radio or television station and that could not be obtained unless they agreed to allow the state to control their content. With the Internet, the state has lost its ability to control. Each day, about 720,000 hours of content is uploaded in YouTube alone. The Liberals seem to find that offensive. They want to regulate it, to somehow bring the Internet under their control as broadcasting used to work.
    If this is simply a matter of the Liberals wanting a slice of the revenue pie to help offset their record deficits, there are easier methods than attacking all content creators. Instead of attempting to regulate the entire Internet, they could concentrate on large streaming services, perhaps those with half a million subscribers or more. Extracting money from streaming services to support Canadian content does not require the overreach the government is establishing.
     Even with this, the government might want to think twice. Forcing streamers from outside Canada to contribute to the various Canadian talent development funds, for example, is full of risks. Fairness would say that if the government forces these entities to contribute to the fund, then it must also allow them to access the money that the fund is generating. Rather than creating a level playing field, such a move would harm Canada's traditional broadcasters, especially those whose Canadian content is primarily public affairs or sports programming. How would the limited amount they spend on drama compare with the amount spent by streaming services that specialize in dramatic programming? In that contest, would anyone still be watching CBC?
    Certainly, what this bill is not addressing is why we are regulating this. The Liberals, disturbing the free market, have never come across anything that they did not want to control, but just because they can introduce such legislation does not mean it is good legislation or that it should be passed.
    For 20 years, there have been calls for the government to redefine the Internet and broadcasting. Wise people resisted the argument, realizing that the Internet, in many ways, is a true example of the democratization of communications. Groups with limited or no access to traditional broadcasting, such as indigenous Canadians, now have unlimited access and the ability to tell their stories without government interference. The Liberals want that to end.
    There are perhaps 100,000 Canadians deriving all their income from their online activities. The government is not content with the income it is receiving from their taxes. It also wants to tell them what to create. It does not care if they have a relationship with their audience already.
    Our cultural industry is flourishing without government. Bill C-11 should not pass.

  (1530)  

    Madam Speaker, I listened to the comments that the member made and I want to thank him for his intervention. I am very relieved when I hear members trying to make suggestions as to how things could be improved in a bill. I noticed he did that while talking about the number of subscribers and how it could perhaps be tied to receiving money, not for government purposes, as this member said, but to invest back into Canadian culture. That suggestion assumes that people who are uploading content are going to be subjected to the conditions within this bill. This bill specifically states that those who upload content, so influencers or people putting their own material out there, will not be subject to the provisions within the bill.
    I am curious why the Conservatives are going down the same path that we saw them go with the previous version of the bill last year.
    Madam Speaker, speaking of the last bill, Bill C-10, the amount of opposition we received, especially from the younger population, from university students, was unbelievable. It was one of the times I received calls from students at the university level and from average Canadians complaining about the control that the government wants to have over broadcasting in general and specifically YouTube and Spotify. That is why this bill is no different from Bill C-10. That is why we need to vote it down and it should not be passed.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my esteemed colleague how much control would be appropriate if he does not think that the government should have full control over broadcasting and online media.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I think the government needs to have less interference in this whole process and less control. I think less control is needed and less interference. That will make any bill regarding broadcasting and the Internet a better bill.

  (1535)  

    Qujannamiik, Uqaqtittiji.
    For many years our broadcasters and cultural workers have been losing revenue and suffering from unfair competition from web giants. That is why the NDP sees this bill as a good first step to levelling the playing field and making the web giants pay their fair share.
    Does the MP intend to put an end to this injustice or, rather, protect the profits of the web giants?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from the hon. member from the NDP. I think it is the opposite because, with that control that the government is seeking through this bill, it is going to also take away from the small guys or the small players. That is not good for anyone. That is why I encourage the NDP to vote against it.
    Madam Speaker, it is interesting. The member in his comments talked about this fear factor, as if the government is trying to control the Internet. I do find that unfortunate. It just amplifies the whole right-wing thinking that is coming from the Conservative Party.
    I wonder if he feels that there is a bit of exaggeration that is taking place with the Conservative spin doctors to try to give that sort of an impression.
    Madam Speaker, the spin specialists from the Liberals are masters when it comes to spinning. The politicization of every single thing is leading Canada to be divided, which is what the government intended to happen, unfortunately. There is no right wing, no left wing and no extremists. This is a bill of control by the government over broadcasting. I think it affects freedom of speech and expression. It must be voted down.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of South Shore—St. Margarets to speak on Bill C-11, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act.
    I was executive assistant to Canada's foreign minister when the Broadcasting Act was last amended in 1991. Email was a new thing. Foreign Affairs communicated with embassies through telex. There was no social media, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or TikTok. Therefore, the revision to the Broadcasting Act under Bill C-11 is long overdue.
    I will try to summarize what I believe to be the good, the bad and the ugly of this proposed legislation, and I will start with the good.
    There are several important provisions in this legislation that I support, including the requirements to support the increased production of Canadian content by online service providers such as Netflix. The greater support of indigenous programming is also a good start. Coming from Nova Scotia, I also appreciate the increased support and focus on independent production of broadcasting material. It is a step forward that this bill protects the intellectual property of Internet service provider algorithms.
    Now let me turn to the bad. We are hopeful that, when this bill reaches committee, the government will be open to amending it to deal with our primary area of concern, the regulation of speech on the Internet. It is true that in proposed subsection 2(2.1) and proposed subsection 4.1(1) the government has excluded individual users of social media from CRTC regulation. A similar commitment was made in Bill C-10 in the last Parliament but removed by the government at committee stage.
    However, we were asked in Bill C-10 in the last Parliament, now Bill C-11, to trust the government in its commitment not to regulate individual freedom of speech. This is asking too much of Canadians who no longer trust the government. We should all be concerned when governments flaunt the law with the SNC-Lavalin scandal, abuse the public purse for family benefit in the WE scandal, ignore the views of those it disagrees with and legislate against free speech with the Emergencies Act.
    Where are the “just trust me” elements of this bill? They come in proposed sections 4.1 and 4.2. This is the ugly part of the bill. Proposed section 4.1 exempts individual users of social media from the content control of the CRTC. While this is true to some extent, the government presents a legal pretzel in proposed section 4.2. Let me explain this confusing Liberal legal pretzel. The addition to this bill of proposed section 4.1, which says that censorship by the CRTC will not apply to individuals uploading content to an Internet service provider, sounds good, but what the government giveth, the government takes away in proposed section 4.2, where the government can regulate an individual’s Internet content if it generates any sort of revenue. Without knowing or seeing these regulations, this is a broad power to censor the individual.
    The government is telling Canadians not to worry and to just trust it. Canadians do not trust the government. We should be especially concerned when the government, under this bill, seeks to legislate on what Canadians can and cannot say if it generates any revenue at all. Individual content creators with fledgling businesses are now being asked to trust the government that, through policy and regulation, they will not be censored. There are no legislated guarantees in the bill to prevent them from being censored.
    In his last public address on April 11, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln said that “important principles may, and must, be inflexible.” Freedom of thought and speech are principles with which the Government of Canada must be inflexible in defending, so much so that Pierre Trudeau placed these inflexible freedoms in section 2 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It guarantees freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, the very freedoms that are core to our democracy. Our defence of them must remain inflexible, as Lincoln said.
    Let me be clear that our freedoms have limits. For example, in a country like Canada, people cannot incite hate speech or other violent forms of language. Both our common law and Criminal Code have placed limits on that freedom. The distinctions in our Criminal Code are just and ensure the protection of the most vulnerable in our society. If the government wishes to seek further protections for those impacted by racism and other discrimination, I know my Conservative caucus is willing to co-operate, and the Criminal Code is the appropriate legislative vehicle for such restrictions.

  (1540)  

    Bill C-11 contains more disturbing open-ended online censorship regulatory power for the government. This legislation would allow the CRTC to regulate any content that generates revenue directly or indirectly in proposed paragraph 4.2(2)(a). That means virtually all content would still be regulated, including that of independent content creators earning a living on social media platforms like YouTube, TikTok and Spotify.
    What does “indirectly” mean? The government asks for us to just trust it. Last Parliament, Conservatives were quick to point out the flaws in the nearly identical bill, Bill C-10. It was not just Conservatives sounding the alarm. Experts, lawyers, academics and many more people testified at committee and spoke publicly about the problems with the bill.
    A former CRTC commissioner said that the bill would be like a hammer to intimidate freedom of expression. Today, given the continued development of technology and the conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, much of that dialogue takes place on places like Facebook, Twitter and other websites. This bill would infringe upon the ability Canadians have to post online and to express themselves freely, even if their post “indirectly generates revenues”. Furthermore, the bill would infringe on the rights Canadians have to access content online, which means that the right to view freely would be infringed upon if the bill passes.
    To all my colleagues, I ask if they trust the government to decide what they can say, read and watch online. Bill C-11 would give new, undefined power over the Internet to the CRTC, which was built to balance the needs of competing broadcasters, not those of citizens.
    The only regulator of thought a Canadian should deal with is themselves. I can assure members that constituents in my riding do not want the censorship elements of this bill rushed through the House of Commons without thoughtful debate and hearings. They want clause 4 amended, and I trust the government will listen to Canadians in this respect at committee and amend this bill.
    I ask members to be guided by the words of Lincoln that important principles must be “inflexible”. Be inflexible in defending free speech and amend the section of this bill that would give the government the ability to censor individuals on the Internet.
    It is my hope that courage will manifest in all MPs and we can all work toward a Broadcasting Act that upholds the freedoms of Canadians, improves Canadian and indigenous content, supports independent production and does not stifle speech online.

  (1545)  

    Madam Speaker, in listening to the two Conservative speakers, one gets the opinion this is all about freedom of speech and the right-wing Reform concept that we do not need to have anything. We do not even need CBC. We need to recognize that the government needs to step up to the plate to ensure there is Canadian content and a lively arts industry in Canada. These are all very critical and important aspects of our society.
    Does the Conservative Party, and particularly the member, not support the importance of Canadian content, our arts sector and the many contributions that makes to our society? If he does, how does he justify saying no to this bill?
    Madam Speaker, if the hon. member had actually heard the beginning of my speech, he would have heard that I outlined and said I supported the additional Canadian content this bill would engender in its process. I did say that.
    The confusion seems on to be on the other side, which thinks just because it is not them that we do not support culture. I sat on community theatre boards. I have participated and helped my community in that regard.
    Perhaps the hon. member should read subclause 11(10), which says that Canadian artistic and cultural expression must be dealt with and that the proportion of programs broadcast and devoted for specific genres would be regulated. I would like to understand from the government if it is going to tell us how many comedies, dramas or documentaries we can watch, when the CRTC is being given the ability to actually pick what genres we watch?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I worked as an ethicist for 25 years and I am against censorship.
    My hon. colleague was talking about freedom of speech, but freedom does not give people permission to say whatever they want. This is an important distinction. I would like to know how he plans to make that distinction if there is more regulation.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, this is another issue I addressed in my speech. There are reasonable limits placed on freedom of speech through both common law and court cases, as well as through the Criminal Code, on things we can and cannot do. I think those are the appropriate vehicles to moderate and protect. We do not have unlimited rights under the charter. All rights, including freedom of speech, have some restriction on things like hate speech.
    If there are additional areas or issues that need to be regulated in terms of criminal behaviour, that is the limit on which we should be focused in terms of limiting free speech. I do not think we should be using the CRTC, an independent and unaccountable government agency, to regulate free speech.
    Madam Speaker, I know the member may have touched on this aspect briefly in his speech, but living beside the United States, we are living beside a giant, and the web giants have incredible power. Our artists and our cultural producers really struggle against that dichotomy. Those web giants are really trying to circumvent our tax rules, our funding for Canadians cultural content and its discoverability.
     I would like to hear the member expand a little more on how we can try to even the playing field to have more fairness for our important artists and the artistic sector here in Canada.
    Madam Speaker, that is a great question. As I did touch on a bit, and I get a little chance to expand on it here, the levelling of the playing field with online web giants in creating Canadian content is a very good aspect of the bill and one that I appreciate. With regard to the requirement for them to either produce Canadian content at certain levels or contribute to the Canadian content fund, my only challenge is to figure out where in the bill it balances and says what that level of support would be and what the money would be. That would be in regulation, I suppose, so we will have to see that, but it is a positive part of the bill.

  (1550)  

    Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today and speak to Bill C-11 and to continue this discussion that has been going on for quite a while. It has been at least a year since a bill similar to this one was introduced in the last session of Parliament. That bill, unfortunately, did not make it past the finish line, but what we have here is an improved version of the bill we saw before, a bill that tackled some of the challenges and obstacles, rightly or wrongly, that were put forward in particular by the opposition.
    I want to go back to one of the comments that was made just a few minutes ago by the Conservative member who was responding to questions. He said something very important. I think it is important because it represents a lot of the narrative that we are going to hear over the next few days.
    I forgot to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Parkdale—High Park.
    We will hear a lot of the language that is being used. We just heard the previous member say that we do not want to allow the government to control what people watch. If anybody is going to be following this debate, I want them to pay close attention to the fact that as the debate goes on over the next few days or weeks, we will hear that language quite a bit from the Conservatives, because this is the exact language they used last time. It is language that tries to suggest to Canadians that the Government of Canada sits behind a desk and decides what people can watch and what they cannot watch. Nothing could be further from the truth. What the original bill did and what this bill is proposing to do now is not to regulate what people watch but to broaden the pool of what is available to them.
    If someone has the perspective that we should be homogeneous in terms of everything that is in front of us since we live in North America, that there is no problem with being just like the United States, that we do not need our own individual identity and individual culture, then that is one thing. If that is somebody's position, although I disagree with it wholeheartedly, at least that would be the position of someone who still understands the facts. However, in fact this bill does not suggest that. What this bill does, and what I prefer, is that we provide Canadians with the opportunity to watch programming that is produced by Canadians and for Canadians as an option that someone can watch.
    It is very similar to the CanCon rules that apply to radio stations. Right now, if someone in Canada has a radio station that broadcasts over FM and AM bands, they are subject to a rule that a certain amount of the content that is played during the day has to be Canadian content. I live in a border city that is not that far from Watertown, New York, and quite often we find radio stations trying to circumvent those rules. They would set up their transmission tower in Watertown, even though all of the broadcasting was happening in Kingston. It was being sent over to Watertown, New York, where it was then being broadcast from towers, and I am sure over 90% of the listenership was Canadian people because the broadcast audience was a Canadian audience in Kingston.
    As the technologies develop and as we see new technologies come online and as the Internet becomes a dominant force in the consumption of content, it goes without saying that if we believe in making sure that Canadian content is in that pool of availability for those who are consuming it, we have to ensure that the Canadian content is there. That is the difference.
    This is not about controlling what people see. I trust that we will have a more thorough debate on it this time around, but the rhetoric last time with Bill C-10 came down to suggesting that the federal government was trying to regulate all social media in order to determine what was put in front of people on the Internet, and that could not be further from the truth. This has always been about making sure that content is available.

  (1555)  

    What does this bill do specifically? Let me just highlight some of the important points. It brings those online streaming services under the jurisdiction of the Broadcasting Act because, as I previously mentioned, they are not. It will require online streaming services that serve Canadian markets to contribute to the production of Canadian content. This is what I was talking about. When Netflix or these other agencies are selling to Canadians, they have to invest in Canadian culture and Canadian-produced content.
    Again, we might not agree with that. We might think that we are so globalized now that we can just get everything from wherever we want, and that should not matter. That of course is a position to take on this matter, but it is not the position that I take. It is not the position that the bill seeks to improve upon, because we recognize that it is extremely important that a portion of that content remains Canadian.
    This also prioritizes support for content for francophone, indigenous, LGBTQ2+, racialized and other equity-seeking creators. It ensures online broadcasters will showcase more Canadian content, as I previously mentioned, and it modernizes outdated legislation to bring it into the 21st century.
    It is also important to talk about what the bill will not do, despite the fact that I do not think that even my saying this now will change what we will hear. We are going to hear people in the chamber over the course of this debate say that it will do these things, but it will not impose regulations on content everyday Canadians post to social media. If someone uploads something to YouTube, they would not be subject to it even if they have a lot of followers, unless they are making money off it, in which case they would be similar to other businesses making money off it. There is an important point there that I will get back to in a second, because even those who do upload will not necessarily be subject to this.
    It also does not impose regulations on Canadian digital content creators, influencers or users, as I said, and it will not censor content or mandate specific algorithms on streaming services or social media platforms. I have already touched on this point, but it is important to mention it again because this is what we will hear over the course of this debate. We will hear that the Prime Minister is personally sitting behind a computer somewhere trying to set an algorithm so that people see more content that he likes.
    I know we are going to hear that, because that is the rhetoric that happened with Bill C-10. I have no doubt that we will hear it again with Bill C-11, although I really hope that we do not, but if history is an indication of anything in the House, when these issues come up, Conservatives know exactly which ones are going to be the ones that they can push that will engage public reaction whether or not they are true.
    I want to go back to the first comment I made when I was talking about the things it will not do, which was to impose regulations on everyday Canadians. This is important, because the member who spoke previous to me brought up the fact that if someone uploads a video or content and they are making money off it, they are subject to legislation. That is actually not true. There are three criteria, and these are “and” criteria, not “or” criteria, that need to be met in order for something to be considered commercial content. In determining whether the content is commercial content, the regulator will need to evaluate three elements. One is whether the content is monetized, which goes to the member's comment a few minutes ago. However, two other things also have to be present. One is whether the content exists on another non-social media platform, such as Spotify, the radio or TV. The other is whether the content, such as a song uploaded to YouTube, has a unique international standard music number. Those are the three items that need to happen for this legislation to apply.
    The previous statement that somebody would be subject to it as long as they are making money off it is actually not the case. There are three criteria that need to be met.
    I know that my time is coming to a close, but I wanted to say what this really is about. I hope that everyone will at the very least support the fundamentals of ensuring that the Canadian pool of content remains robust and available to Canadians, because if we look back at the decades that have gone by, the last 70 years or so, the Broadcasting Act, even though it did not apply to the Internet, is what made sure that the content remained available for Canadians to see.

  (1600)  

    Before I go to questions and comments, I want to remind members that if they have thoughts and questions, they should hold on to them as opposed to shouting them out.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for South Shore—St. Margarets.
    Madam Speaker, I am sure that the member, had he been listening to my speech, would have known that at the beginning I said that I appreciated that the bill actually does say that the algorithms are protected. I did say that in my speech.
    Specifically, since the member spent a bit of his speech discussing my speech, which was very flattering, I will read what the bill actually says:
    In making regulations under subsection (1), the Commission shall consider the following matters:
(a) the extent to which a program, uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service, directly or indirectly generates revenues.
    In (b) and (c), the bill does not say “and/or”. It does not say any of that. It lists three different things. Any one of those things, individually, can be regulated according to the act.
    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent point. I want to make sure it is known that I did not suggest that the member was saying that the government could control the algorithm. I said that I heard that last time and I expected some comments to that. This member certainly did not comment about that in his speech. I listened attentively to what he said.
    His is an excellent point. My understanding is that it needs to be all three of those things. Therefore, I think that this should be one of the topics that comes up in committee, to make sure that this is the case, because it should be that way. I certainly read it to be that way and that is my interpretation. I hope that when the bill gets to committee, that can be clarified.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    I am hoping he could provide more clarification on a glaring problem. Artists in the cultural sector and in broadcasting are losing a huge amount of money, some $70 million to $80 million a month, and there is no end in sight because of clause 4.1.
    I would like some assurances from the member about the notion of freedom of speech, the lifeblood of the Conservative Party, which, unfortunately, is what caused the hold-up with the previous version of this bill and which is costing our creators and artists $70 million to $80 million every month.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. I agree that this keeps coming back. Every month that goes by, more and more people are suffering as a result of this. I think it was very unfortunate the way this bill played out in the winter and spring of 2020. It inched along so slowly. We saw delay after delay and then, at the last minute, just before the House and the Senate were going to rise, the bill, Bill C-11, was voted on.
    At the end of the day, I agree with the member that making sure we protect Canadian culture and Canadian content is absolutely imperative. The quicker we can get this through, the more we will be able to do that.
    I know the member is from the Bloc. Quebec certainly has a strong and robust sector as it relates to film and audio in one of our official languages, but there are so many other companies throughout the rest of the country that are equally doing so in English and we need to continue to preserve that.
    Madam Speaker, in my lifetime I have watched a dramatic shift in the media landscape, from local newspapers to the conglomeration of these multinationals. We have gone through from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0.
    Has the government made consideration for the shift in the distributed model of user-created content? I will give an example. For instance, we have a company like TikTok, which provides content creator funds everywhere else, but not in Canada.
    How are we going to ensure that the individual creators who are Canadians and who are creating content are adequately compensated, and not create a situation where the fund just goes to the multinational conglomerates that have completely captured our traditional media?
    Madam Speaker, the member raises an excellent point. I will be the first to say I do not have an answer to that. I certainly hope that the committee will look into this issue at that stage.
    If what the member is suggesting goes beyond just this piece of legislation, then that is something we need to tackle because it is absolutely detrimental to Canadian culture and Canadian identity, and we need to continue to make sure that the proper funds are available for product and content that is made in Canada.

  (1605)  

    Madam Speaker, since I last rose five days ago, Mr. Putin in Russia decided to, very unceremoniously and aggressively, invade a sovereign nation. I want to express my absolute solidarity with the people of Ukraine, in terms of showing gratitude and appreciation for their bravery in the face of this blatant aggression and violent and unlawful act, and to simply state, in terms of representing my constituents of Parkdale—High Park, that I will continue to advocate with every fibre of my being for the well-being of Ukraine and for the well-being of Ukrainian-Canadians, for assisting them in any way, shape or form in terms of assistance militarily, assistance with their defence and assistance with immigration, and in terms of restoring peace to their land.
    I want to turn now to Bill C-11, and I will start with Canadian content creators.
    I learned a heck of a lot about Canadian content and Canadian creators during the course of the 42nd Parliament, when I served as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of heritage at the time: the current Minister of Foreign Affairs. What I learned about was the voluminous contribution that these content creators made to the Canadian economy. In some respects, it is either equivalent to or outstrips contributions from sectors such as the mining sector in this country. It is staggering the amount of GDP output that is attributable to Canadian content creators. Around $19.7 billion of Canada's GDP and approximately 160,000 jobs are linked to things such as publishing, writing, music, producing theatre, producing film, producing television products, etc.
    My riding of Parkdale—High Park, which I have the privilege of representing for the third straight time in this Parliament, is home to many of these creators. They have explained to me what they do for a living and how it contributes to the Canadian economy, but they have also said where their trade and craft is suffering and they have walked me through these steps. We have heard from the member for Kingston and the Islands and some of the other members in this debate who have talked about where we were about 30 years ago, when we had the Broadcasting Act, and where we are now. Where we are now is a fundamentally different place. People consume, view and listen in a completely different manner from how they did 30 years ago when the Broadcasting Act was last touched.
    Why is this relevant? It is relevant because it is incumbent upon us, as parliamentarians, to make sure that our laws are responsive to the current state of the nation. Our laws need to be reflective of current norms, current technological features and current aspects of day-to-day life. That is really critical. For decades, our system guaranteed the creation of Canadian movies, TV shows and music that made us proud because we ensured that traditional broadcasters, such as Bell and Rogers, were contributing to such Canadian content.
    Why is that critical? It is critical because we live next to a very large nation that creates a whole lot of cultural content. It is very easy to be dwarfed by that content, particularly in its English-language form, if we are not supportive of Canadian content. We adopted these ideas about mandatory contributions financially from Canadian broadcasters, which are usually through a television screen, ensuring that they could then help us create the next Kim's Convenience, the next Schitt's Creek or the next The Beachcombers. I know I am dating myself. I am a bit older than I look. However, that kind of cultural content is critical. What we have seen is an erosion of that kind of cultural content because we are no longer asking these new types of broadcasters to contribute, and because the system simply has not kept up.
    Who is responsible for all that? I will be blunt: All of us are responsible for all of that, because we have not acted quickly enough to deal with Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. When we legislated this most recently, which is three decades ago, those things did not even exist. In fact, the Internet was still in its infancy, probably just a plaything of the U.S. military at the time, because we are reaching back to around 1991. Although I prefer Spotify, most Canadians today get their music from YouTube Music. That is an incredible statement. It is not from the radio. It is not from vinyl or cassettes, but from one particular platform: YouTube Music.
    Unless we directly regulate that type of platform and ensure that it is contributing to the continuity, creation and support of Canadian content, we could see great Canadian musicians or great Canadian musical acts simply go by the wayside. Do we want to have the next Tragically Hip, the next Arkells, the next Drake, the next Justin Bieber, etc.? I desperately want to see that. I want to see that for our country and I want to see that for the children I am raising, but we cannot see that unless we actually take an active step to support this industry.

  (1610)  

    What we have is Canadian broadcasters from the traditional mould, such as Bell and Rogers, playing by one set of rules, and we have streaming platforms playing by entirely another set. There needs to be one set of rules for all.
    What would this bill do? We have heard a little about this during this debate. The bill would provide the CRTC with express powers to require broadcasting undertakings, including online undertakings, to make financial contributions to Canadian content and to its creators.
    Over these last years, as the member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park, I have heard basically a plea that this exact kind of measure be put into force. I have heard it from ACTRA. I have heard it from the Directors Guild of Canada. I have heard it from the Writers Guild of Canada. I have heard it from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Over and over again, they have said that unless we support their industry, in terms of where it is being viewed or seen now at that level of broadcasting and not just in its old modality, they are in jeopardy. All the Canadian content they create is in jeopardy.
    Why is that important? Everyone in this chamber chuckled about The Beachcombers. Those touchstones are significant because they tell a Canadian narrative. That is good, right and proper, because it is important, as a nation-building exercise, for people to see themselves reflected in what they see and hear and also to learn about themselves, in terms of what they see and hear.
    That is why I hope another aspect of this legislation gets touched on in this debate. I think it is important, because we are trying to also make sure a Broadcasting Act three decades later reflects the reality of Canada. The city I represent boasts that it is one of the most diverse, if not the most diverse, city on the planet. That is the city of Toronto. We would like to see the broadcasting offerings that are available, including online, reflecting that diversity and reflecting people of colour: racialized people, immigrants, Black Canadians, etc.
    There is a specific provision in the legislation that actually references promoting indigenous language vitalization. That is something I also had the ability to work on in the 42nd Parliament. It is something I feel very strongly about. The way we do that and keep moving the yardsticks forward is by amending the broadcasting legislation.
    In these last two and a half minutes, I want to deal with what this bill is not about. We heard a great deal about this in the last Parliament, and I am very keen to ensure we do not hear about it in this Parliament, particularly now. My opening comments were about Ukraine. We know that not just this country, but the planet, is seized with addressing misinformation and disinformation right now. To purport incorrectly or benignly, or to misconstrue what is in a piece of legislation versus what is not, is not helpful for the discussion about this legislation, nor is it helpful to the public discourse in this country, let alone on this planet. I mean that very seriously.
    This bill has a specific carve-out, and the carve-out is clear. User-generated content, video games and news media will not be affected by the proposed changes. It is quite clear that what we are doing would ensure that social media allows people to share their thoughts online, and that is for the most part a very good thing. We agree it is vital for Canadians to be able to express their views, which is why the bill specifically states that the regulator cannot make regulations that infringe on freedom of expression on social media or online platforms. That is critical, because we are not talking about individually generated user content, unless that content is being commercialized, which is a point that was adequately addressed by the member for Kingston and the Islands. It is important that people understand this fact, and that this fact does not get misconstrued in the context of this debate or when this bill hopefully moves to committee.
    Why is this important? It is critically important, in terms of taking outdated legislation and moving it into the modern age three decades hence. It is also important because it would allow us to ensure that Canadian stories and narratives are being told. It is important for ensuring there would be a playing field. The simple principle is that if something is benefiting from a system, which clearly the YouTubes and Spotifys of the world are, then it needs to contribute to that system.
    Another participant in this debate mentioned that other jurisdictions have already taken the step of ensuring contributions from online streaming platforms. We would simply be making sure that Canada levels the playing field internationally and also vis-à-vis traditional broadcasters and online streaming broadcasters.
    I hope that is a concept that all members and parties in the House can get behind.

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, I enjoyed working with the member on the justice committee.
    We are both lawyers, and this is a very unique scheme in the way it has been designed. In fact, I will actually quote from Michael Geist, a respected professor: “The bottom line is that the potential scope for regulation is virtually limitless since any audio-visual service anywhere with Canadian subscribers is caught within the rules.” That means this would create this giant scope and then it would allow the government, in certain instances, to put exemptions.
    Would it not have been much more intelligent, a much better way and the way that we normally draft things, to just cover the area we want to cover, as opposed to giving this giant scope to the government and then exempting what it chooses to exempt?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite's service on the justice committee and I look forward to working with him in this Parliament.
    I think he makes an interesting point on the tactic taken with legislative drafting. However, one thing is clear in the context of the debate on this bill, and it was quite vociferous regarding Bill C-10 in the 43rd Parliament: People want a surety that user-generated content by an individual person posting something to a platform like YouTube will not be caught. That is why we put an express exemption to that very effect into this legislation.
    This has been cast wide because the platform and the nature of the streaming services are wide. However, with an adequately tailored exemption, I think it is clear to Canadians that we are not here to limit freedom of expression unnecessarily. What we are trying to do is to actually empower freedom of expression by creating more of that expressive content and by empowering the creation of more Canadian content through this funding model.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the notion of “fair share”, of paying one's fair share of taxes and contributing one's fair share of Canadian content, can be found throughout Bill C‑11.
    How will the government ensure, with Bill C‑11, that the web giants will not be the ones deciding what is considered a fair share?
    Madam Speaker, I like the question asked by the member for Trois-Rivières. I learned a great deal of French in that city 30 years ago.
    I want to point out that this is not just about regulating web giants, but also about spelling out the type or number of regulations that will govern them and the amounts they will have to pay.
    Our strategy is not to have a laissez-faire system or a context where the companies decide. We are the ones who are going to decide how to regulate the companies and how much they are going to pay. The same approach will be used for taxation.
    As for the next steps, we will continue the fight against hate and fear, which are also a major issue in the digital world.

[English]

    Qujannamiik, Uqaqtittiji. The Nunavut Film Development Corporation noted an array of challenges to Nunavut's competitiveness in the industry, such as an absence of tax credits, bandwidth challenges, limited program budgets and expensive production in the north.
    Can the member speak to how the amendments in Bill C-11 can redress such challenges to better support Inuit, first nations and Métis cultural creators?
    Madam Speaker, I think that is a critical question. When we carve out the promotion of indigenous culture and particularly indigenous languages in the legislation, which has explicitly been done, we create an opening to address the exact problem the member has highlighted.
    We know that we need more indigenous voices and indigenous content online. We also know that supporting this sometimes costs more money. However, having the legislation crafted as it is right now, with that specific exception and specific prioritization, allows us the opportunity to dedicate some of the funds coming in from the Amazon Prime's of the world specifically to the promotion of Inuktitut and about 90 other indigenous languages in this country.
    Madam Speaker, I will keep it brief. The hon. parliamentary secretary touched on this. We have become increasingly alarmed by disinformation sites and, of course, as we are horrified by Russia's aggression against Ukraine, we realize that Russian disinformation was authorized by the CRTC. I think we were outraged to find that Russia Today was being broadcast to millions of Canadians.
    To my hon. colleague, this is not within Bill C-11, but can we be sure that this sort of disinformation will never be licensed again?

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, believe me, I share the member's concerns about Russia Today and Sputnik. I will be very candid with her in saying that we have an issue and have raised it with the CRTC. It is ultimately the independent regulator, but I am very confident and pleased by the fact that Bell, Rogers and Telus have all committed to removing Russia Today from access in Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I am very excited to speak to the bill today.
    In the last couple of minutes, I heard the words “misinformation” and “disinformation”. In our own society, it seems like information put out there by the woke society is good information, but if somebody has a difference of opinion, it is horrible information.
    I want to give an example from my own province of New Brunswick, where this is prevalent. When I was an MLA from 2010 to just last summer, there were two major projects in New Brunswick. One was the Energy East pipeline and the other was a natural gas project. At the time, natural gas did not get widespread support and it ended badly: We never developed the industry. With the Energy East pipeline, we could not get support from the Province of Quebec at the time, for whatever reason, and that project did not happen either.
    If we look at what is happening around the world today, it would be misinformation to tell Canadians, particularly New Brunswickers, that those two projects were not worthy. We can see what is happening in the world today, and if we look at the energy sector around the world, New Brunswick is very well positioned in its gas industry to have a pipeline sent from Alberta to both New Brunswick and Montreal. These would have been very good projects. However, we are not going to hear that from the Liberal Party of Canada. We are also not going to hear it from the Green Party of Canada. We cannot have it both ways.
    What do we see here today? The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is at stake. I am not a lawyer, so I will speak about this in general terms that are understandable. Subsection 2(b) of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms says:
freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression...freedom of the press and other media of communication
    This subsection guarantees us all the liberty to express ourselves without reserve or coercion from the state. That is a core principle of our constitutional heritage in this country. Although it was embedded in the charter in 1982 by the Prime Minister's own father, it goes back hundreds of years through the English liberty this parliamentary system transmitted from one generation to the next. As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”
    We see that in this country. I understand the precedent of a war and how that is the biggest issue of our time, but in this country, all too often the woke community can go out and spew what it likes, drive it down everybody's throat and then try to compare us to American politicians, which could not be any further from the truth. That is an example of misinformation and disinformation.
    This bill seeks to take away that right and those freedoms. Do not take my word for it. I can quote directly from one of at least two former commissioners of the regulatory body that would be empowered under this bill to control Internet content. Peter Menzies described the bill as an assault on freedom of expression. Another former CRTC member explained that it would allow political appointees to determine what we see and what we say on the Internet. Senator and great writer David Adams Richards, from my home community of Miramichi, said something along the lines of it being like a knife through the heart of the freedom of expression we enjoy in this country. These are quality names and very well known individuals who have some very strong points on this topic.
    I forgot to mention that I am splitting my time with the member of Parliament for Haldimand—Norfolk.

  (1625)  

    There is a lot we do not know about this bill because numerous of its amendments were voted on before they were even made public to the committee. The Liberals want a series of bureaucrats, unnamed, unelected and unknown, to decide what Canadian content is heard and not heard.
    I will give the example of mainstream media. Mainstream Canadian media often runs American political content without Canadian content. It gives a strangely outward and seriously biased opinion on the content and feeds it to the Canadian public without any local content, and it includes its opinion each and every time. However, we pay for this as Canadian taxpayers. Long gone are the days when media put out the facts and let the public decide what was right, what was wrong, what was Liberal, what was Conservative. The public used to determine these things of their own accord. As a country, we got along better then, and we need to somehow get back to that.
    Another example is a community association in a Canadian neighbourhood telling us about local food drives. It is in a Canadian neighbourhood, it has a Canadian author, it has a Canadian story, it is a Canadian initiative in a Canadian city and it is read almost exclusively by Canadian readers, yet it would not be considered, presumably, Canadian content and therefore would be demoted.
    That is just the daily pedestrian content we get online. What about the more conscientious stuff? The government is going to decide what kinds of political views are Canadian. Of course, endorsing the Prime Minister's left-wing agenda and his ideology will be a prerequisite of Canadiana. We can be sure of that. Liberal Party members have effectively been saying for generations that they and only they represent Canadian values and, therefore, that only the values they espouse would be considered Canadian for the purpose of this act alone.
    Not only can the Liberals not tell us what content would be acceptable and what would not, but they cannot tell us who would be subjected to the bill. Originally, they had an explicit exemption for users, the everyday Joe and Jane who post stuff online. It is called user-generated content. The justice department said not to worry, that the bill would not affect any of them because there is a very specific exemption that excludes them. However, the Liberals showed up at committee and, all of a sudden and just like that, here we go again. It is another example of a government that cannot be trusted.
    What is the issue here? The Liberal government has introduced Bill C-11, formerly Bill C-10. Last year, the Liberals passed Bill C-10 in the House of Commons without allowing a full debate at the heritage committee to address many outstanding concerns from experts and parliamentarians on how that legislation would affect Canadian rights and freedoms on the Internet. Canada's Conservatives support creating a level playing field between large foreign streaming services and Canadian broadcasters while protecting the individual rights and freedoms of all Canadians. Canada is home to many world-class writers, actors, composers, musicians, artists and creators. Creators need rules that do not hold back their ability to be Canadian and have global successes. Earlier I gave an example of Senator David Adams Richards, a well-renowned writer from Miramichi.
    This bill is a near copy of the Liberals' deeply flawed Bill C-10, and it fails to address the serious concerns raised by experts and Canadians. While the government claims there is now an exemption for user-generated content, the legislation would allow the CRTC to regulate any content that generates revenue directly. People need to be free to see anything that is available so they can make their own decisions for themselves, a liberty we have in this country, on what is important, what is right, what is wrong, what is just and unjust and what the facts are.
    Now more than ever, Canadians need to know that their freedom is their own, that it does not belong to politicians, bureaucrats and judges, that it belongs to each of us and that on this founding principle, people can feel free. Freedom is paramount. It is the one liberty we all want and need, and each of us is prepared to fight for it, especially those in the Conservative Party of Canada.

  (1630)  

    Madam Speaker, in his remarks, the member alluded to a discussion that was being had around RT, Russia Today, and misinformation. I heard the member suggest that the Liberal government considers misinformation to be only things it does not agree with or does not like. I am wondering if the member could clarify for me if that is indeed what he said and if he does agree that Russia Today is full of misinformation about the war in Ukraine.
    Madam Speaker, everybody knows the propaganda system that comes out of Russia. That was not part of my speech. I do not disagree that it is full of propaganda.
    My point is that every time the Liberal government brings a bill forward, every single time, it borders on a Communist-type policy. It borders on it every single time. The Liberals are trying to take away what we can see online, what we can read online, where we can shop and who can advertise to sell us something online. It is clear that the government does not want the people of Canada to think for themselves about their own content.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Miramichi—Grand Lake for his speech.
    I am a little concerned about my colleague's perception of freedom of expression. I do not believe that freedom of expression is restricted on traditional radio or television. However, I would like my colleague to put himself in the shoes of a creator who has spent the last year or year and a half creating, composing music, putting together shows and paying a director and musicians. This creator puts on a great show after the pandemic. There are people in the room who film the show with their phones and then upload it to social networks and YouTube. The creator invested their own time, paid musicians, paid all kinds of people, but everyone is going to watch the show for free.
    How could the member tolerate that? It would be like opening the creator's wallet and taking out their money. I would like the member to understand the significance of this issue. It would be tantamount to stealing money from the creator's pocket.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I understand that issue very well. I was in smoke-filled bars from the age of 17 until 30 years old. I was a singer in a band, and I travelled all over the place. I remember writing an album and having to worry about that very thing. We would go to a bar when cellphones were just starting to be a thing, and somebody would make a recording that was not asked for. Then maybe that song, which had not been released yet, would end up on Facebook. I understand the issue very well. I do sympathize. That is an issue that happens very often in our society.
    However, I think the issue here today is that, with each new bill brought into the House of Commons by the Liberal government, there is a freedom that is being taken from us, every single time.
    Madam Speaker, I need some clarification. We know that, in digital media, royalties paid to Canadian creators are three times lower than those to traditional media producers. I look at this bill and it seems that it would make the discoverability of Canadian content producers so much higher, which would really provide opportunities.
    Does the member have a solution, if he thinks that this would not work?
    Madam Speaker, that is a very good question. Part of the thing for an artist and a creator is to take control of their work. They have to have the copyright for their work before they put it out. There is always a danger when they are performing live. Especially with music, there is a great danger. I appreciate the question. I do not think this bill is solving that issue. I think it is infringing on our freedoms.

  (1635)  

    Madam Speaker, social media platforms and Internet search engines are the main source of news and information for the majority of Canadians. Canadians rely on online sources, not just for information but to share their unfiltered stories and their creative expressions.
    The Internet is a powerful resource. It has made presidents, prime ministers and even celebrities. The immense power of the Internet can be used as a shield or as a sword. As a shield, it is an opportunity for the average person to participate in the media and to be able to showcase their talents without going through big broadcasting networks. As a sword, it can be used as a form of control and a limitation on free speech.
    Woe onto us if the Internet falls under the control and the force of a government that will use it to divide, demonize and control. We have seen that authoritarian governments have gone so far as to systemically censor and limit thought, free speech and freedom of the press by using the Internet. While we want to trust our governments, unfortunately we have seen that the Liberal government has a not-so-subtle agenda of controlling and overreaching.
    As lawmakers, we must resist the desire to distrust and unduly control Canadians in a free and democratic society. We must also resist any government initiatives to try to mould Canadians' opinions and preferences by limiting their online options and opportunities. Neither the Liberals nor any government regardless of their political stripe can be trusted to be neutral referees of what is preferred speech and preferred content.
    The Prime Minister's response to one of the biggest protests of our time is evidence of this. We saw that our Prime Minister refused to listen to the legitimate concerns of fellow Canadians, even when those who trucked from clear across the country came to just have a conversation, choosing instead to label them as racist, misogynist, anti-science people with unacceptable views. This was done in order to silence and cancel their voices.
    A Prime Minister who can hardly tolerate differences of opinion within his own cabinet and party cannot be trusted to respect the different opinions and preferences of Canadians. Freedom and the opportunity to share information and content must be protected and primarily it must be protected from government and from governmental interference.
    Bill C-11, the online streaming act, would open the doors to government control of Canadians through their Internet activity and speech. We have heard the concerns about the government in the last iteration of the bill. Unfortunately, the same concerns remain with the current bill. The hon. minister has stated that the intent is to level the playing field for Canadian creators and producers. It is argued that Bill C-11 would make it easier for Canadians to access Canadian content. While this objective is noble, unfortunately this legislation continues to be fundamentally flawed just as the previous bill was.
    Primarily it gives the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission the power to control what Canadians can and cannot access and view. As a result, the government inevitably can begin to drift into the authoritarian territory, tempted to block, hide and promote certain content. Under the new bill, as we scroll through the latest videos on YouTube or do Google searches, the government's algorithms will decide what pops up in our search. This is an attempt to control and censor any content the government finds inconvenient or un-Canadian.
    In effect, the government would control what we see when we search for a video on YouTube or conduct a search on Google. By so doing, the government would be picking winners and losers by predetermining which content creators are worthy of viewing and hiding content the government thinks Canadians should not see.

  (1640)  

    More nefariously, this legislation could be used to control and limit speech and opinions that differ from those in power. I believe the far-reaching impact of this bill is potentially more dangerous than we can ever imagine. When it comes down to it, the problem with this legislation is that it leaves the impression that Canadians cannot be trusted with their online choices. The Liberals do not think that Canadian creators can thrive without their meddling.
    The reality is that Canada has produced a tremendous amount of art and talent to share with the world. They do extremely well when compared with their global counterparts on platforms such as YouTube. This means that before the Liberals started meddling with regulating the Internet, many Canadians had already had successful media careers online without government oversight.
    Also, what is very problematic with this bill is the lack of clarity around the definition of what constitutes Canadian content. In addition, because of the stringent Canadian content requirements, many new emerging artists would not be considered Canadian enough to be protected and promoted under Bill C-11. These requirements would also adversely impact minority communities in Canada who rely on cultural content from their home country. Canadians may be blocked from accessing ethnic streaming service providers who chose to opt out of Canadian markets rather than pay the high costs and enter into the red tape.
    As parliamentarians, we need to know exactly how this bill will be applied before it is enacted. The regulatory decisions should not be left up to the CRTC.
    I want to raise another point that is related to this topic and one that many Canadians are greatly disturbed by. Last year, MPs of all parties were horrified to learn of the abuse being facilitated by MindGeek, which has a corporate presence right here in Canada. We were encouraged to see members of Parliament from all parties, including many of our colleagues across the aisle, question why a company should make billions off of broadcasting the abuse of others. However, here we are now, talking about making the Internet safer and more friendly for Canadians and better for children and our focus is on whether someone is generating revenue from TikTok and how the CRTC can make them pay into the system.
    Is this bill all about money, controlling what Canadians think and manufacturing groupthink? Where is the decisive action to address the broadcasting of sexual violence? Where is the urgency to protect vulnerable girls, women, boys and men in society? If we are talking about making the Internet safer for our kids, maybe worry a little less about what Netflix is airing and more about why a giant company has been profiting from broadcasting sex-trafficked girls. What is the priority of this bill? Should we not be more worried about our children's access to sexual violence instead of worrying about whether the content is made in Canada?
    In closing, in many ways this bill is an attack on free speech. It is an attempt to control what Canadians say and watch online, and it shows that the government has its priorities all wrong.
    I would call upon my colleagues to rethink this bill and to work together to truly make Canada a safer and freer country.
    Madam Speaker, my question to the member is with respect to the importance of Canadian culture and why it is that the Conservative Party has made the determination that it is not worthwhile for us to protect, encourage, promote and provide additional support for our arts community from coast to coast, which is, from my perspective and, I believe, the vast majority of Canadians' perspective, a positive thing. It is not only important to recognize it but there is also a need to protect it.
    Does the member or the Conservative Party not recognize the need to protect our culture and heritage and arts industries?

  (1645)  

    Madam Speaker, absolutely, Canadian content is very important. The problem is that this bill cannot define what Canadian content is. We have Canadian producers who would not be considered in the category of Canadian content. Until this bill can properly define Canadian content, it is hard to say that the Liberals are attempting to protect it, because they have not defined it.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question about algorithms.
    The department has already said that it wants to focus on results in terms of discoverability and not intervene directly in algorithms. I am just wondering, though, how do we get the results we want without going through the algorithms, which play a fairly significant role nowadays in these kinds of platforms and social networks? Should this not be added to the bill?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we are actually using algorithms currently. What this bill proposes is that they will choose which content and which speech Canadians must view. In the current system, the algorithms are driven by an individual's choice of what they want. What this bill proposes is to usurp that choice and should impose the government's choice upon the people, and that is what we are opposing.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for their passionate speech and for putting forward some of the issues present to that member. One area in particular, given the COVID-19 pandemic, is that artists have been hit hard, not only in my district of Edmonton Griesbach but across the country. This legislation would find ways to ensure that small content creators actually get the surplus in funding they need. In my riding, there is a community organization called Arts on the Ave. It is suffering right now, and it needs this bill to show that Canadian content matters.
    Would the member comment on supporting small businesses, particularly arts businesses, in Canada?
    Madam Speaker, yes, support for small businesses is very important. That is why I would encourage small business funds to be created to assist in that capacity. However, to limit Canadians' choices and what they can see, and for our government to dictate and pick winners and losers, is not the Canadian way.
    Madam Speaker, is the hon. member for Haldimand—Norfolk aware that the bill consistently says that it is within the meaning of the protections of freedom of expression and the charter, both in the original Broadcasting Act and in these amendments?
     I do not see, though I am very suspicious of the government, any way that the government is trying to control what we think or say under Bill C-11.
    Madam Speaker, I would vehemently disagree with the hon. member. In fact, the proposition is that the government will use algorithms, pick winners and losers and decide which content should show up above others. This would create a lot of problems, especially in smaller rural communities and ethnic communities. Many communities actually get their Canadian content from outside Canada, from producers who are producing content outside Canada. This content would not be included in this bill.
    Madam Speaker, as a number of members have chosen to do, I also want to start my comments by reflecting on what is happening in Europe today.
    The constituents I represent, and their heritage and families, are one of the reasons Winnipeg North has such great diversity. From beautiful cathedrals to communities and from industrial areas to commercial developments in Winnipeg's north end, the contributions in general that the 1.3 million people of Ukrainian heritage have made to our country are immeasurable.
    What is taking place in Ukraine today strikes into the hearts of over 1.3 million people of Ukrainian heritage and millions of others. As I stood in my place previously, I indicated to the people of Ukraine and the Ukrainian community worldwide that Canada is a friend that will continue to be there in every way possible.
     I appreciate the patience of members in allowing me to say that at the beginning of my comments.
    In regard to Bill C-11, a lot of thoughts came through my mind as I listened to the opposition members talk about the bill. I cannot help but think about what my colleague from Kingston and the Islands was saying we could anticipate. It is almost as if he was prophesying. Already, just a couple of hours into it, we are starting to see it come true. I did not think it would be as extreme as I have seen it. In fact, I actually made a couple of quick notes on some of the things we heard from the last two Conservative speakers.
    We heard that the government would tell us what to watch. These are the types of lines they were saying. According to some members of the Conservative Party, there is absolutely no need for oversight. We heard that Bill C-11 would enable censorship, that the government wants to start censoring what Canadians are watching and that members need to vote against it to protect Canadians from the government. We heard that it would be Communist-type policy if the legislation were to pass.
    These were the types of things I made note of as I was listening to Conservative members. In fairness, I suspect that they were getting those speaking points from the Conservative backroom. If we go behind the curtains, behind the doors there, we will find some speaking notes. That is the Conservative spin.
     Really, let us think about it. At the end of the day, what we are really talking about is modernizing the Broadcasting Act. The last time it was done in any substantial way was in 1991. I was a parliamentarian back in 1991. In fact, I can recall when I first bought a computer to use in my parliamentary capacity back in 1988, it was a Compaq and it had a 5.5” floppy disk. Imagine being in the Manitoba legislature building and wanting to get access to the Internet. First the computer had to be hooked up to a phone line, and the first noise heard was the dial tone kicking in, then a number going out. If we want to talk about speed, computers back then were really slow.
    The Broadcasting Act was last changed in 1991. Just imagine what we have seen evolve in technology and in the advancements in computers since then. One has to wonder what world the Conservative Party of Canada is living in. The Conservative members' minds must still be on the protests. Where did they come up with the idea that the legislation is some sort of government conspiracy that has offended the extreme right into believing that the Government of Canada is going to be watching what they are doing on the Internet so that we can feed in our government agenda? Do they really believe that?

  (1650)  

    It has been three speakers already, and these are the types of conspiracies that they are talking about. It is completely irresponsible to try to give false information to Canadians when we are debating such an important matter.
    The essence of the legislation is actually fairly straightforward and fairly simple. It is recognizing the fact that 1991 was the last time we had any significant change to the Broadcasting Act, and we are modernizing it. In other words, we are taking into particular consideration everything that has been happening with respect to the Internet. There have been massive changes, and I would like to get into a few of those.
     However, before I do that, I want to encourage members of the official opposition. Although they have an interim leader, they are starting to veer fairly hard to the right, and I do not say that lightly. When we listen to their comments, we have to wonder who they are trying to appeal to. I believe that the legislation being brought forward is in general fairly well supported by industry, other stakeholders and our constituents, but instead of trying to state the facts about the legislation, the Conservatives are digging deep so that they can send out these weird emails in order to give misinformation and try to raise money. I would suggest that this is a huge disservice to the House. There is no conspiracy on this side of the House. All the Government of Canada is trying to do is modernize the Broadcasting Act by recognizing that the Internet matters and that it has really changed the lives of Canadians.
    What types of things would this bill actually do?
    Well, if we go back to the sixties, seventies and eighties, most people understood the importance of television and watched it considerably. Given our proximity to the United States, they recognized that there was a need to ensure that Canadian content would be there and that we would be investing in Canadian content and supporting that industry. Today, if we look around Canada, we will find in all regions of our country, no matter how remote, examples of our heritage and the arts programs that are there. We can see it in our schools, and I would suggest that all schools, either directly or indirectly, provide some form of heritage and arts programming.
     When we talk about who we are as a people, it is important to recognize the francophone language, indigenous people and the very multicultural fabric of our society and how it has evolved. We have some amazingly talented people, and I often make reference, for example, to the Folklorama in the city of Winnipeg. Every summer for two weeks, we get pavilions from all around the world. It is made up primarily of local talent from the city of Winnipeg, but it goes beyond that to include rural Manitoba. Although we often get guests from outside of Canada, it is primarily local talent.

  (1655)  

    Many of those local talents are dependent on cultural funding, and they ultimately hope to maybe be on a TV sitcom or become a professional singer. That is why we brought in Canada's Broadcasting Act many years ago. Back then, we saw the value of it.
    Today, we still see debate from the Conservative Party regarding CBC. One of things CBC was charged with was ensuring that Canadian content was there, real and tangible, and that it was moved forward and promoted. The programs it brought go far beyond Hockey Night in Canada. At the end of the day, we still get some Conservatives who want to see the demise of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
    At the end of the day, I can appreciate that we have seen the Broadcasting Act's impact on ensuring we have developed a healthy arts community in Canada. It is a significant impact. I do not know offhand the number of millions of dollars. What I do know is that we have a powerful Quebec caucus that often talks about the importance of the cultural and arts community in the province of Quebec. I know it is there, and that it is healthy and strong, because of the many comments I have heard from my colleagues.
    In the province of Ontario a couple of weeks back, I was watching a show I think was called Kim's Convenience. It was nice to see, watching that TV program, that it is set in Toronto, a city that I like a great deal. Corner Gas is set in Saskatchewan, and I know there is an immense amount of pride from the people living in Saskatchewan. It is almost as much as the Rider pride for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
    Those are all a part of our arts industry. When we think about these programs, it is not just the actors and actresses who are being employed. We are talking about an industry. When I am in downtown Winnipeg and I see these huge semis and a house being lit up or a block being lit up, I know there is a production taking place. I have been inside the Manitoba legislature, and when the legislature is out, the movie cameras will come in. They are not coming in because of the politicians. They are coming in to reflect and hopefully produce a hit, so people around the world will have the opportunity to see some of the structures in the province of Manitoba.
    It takes people to make those productions possible. I know the Province of British Columbia has set up a huge industry, but it does not matter which province or territory we look at. We will find an industry there and it is an industry that people want to see grow, because, as an industry, it provides a lot of jobs and helps us identify who we are as a nation. We are different than the United States.
    This is not legislation about freedom. Members could listen to the speeches from the Conservative Party and think this is all about freedom of speech, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is not one Liberal member of Parliament who does not believe in the importance of freedom of speech. In fact, it was the Liberal Party that brought in the Charter of Rights, which guarantees freedom of speech and individual rights, and we are very proud of that fact.

  (1700)  

    We are the party that created the Charter of Rights. When the Conservatives talk about freedom of speech, they are really trying to justify voting no to this legislation. There is really no reason for the Conservative Party to vote no. I have listened to them. There are those who stay away from the freedom of speech argument, and there has been no real articulation as to why this is bad legislation or why, at the very least, it could not go to committee.
    If we were to ask each and every one of them, I would like to think that most recognize that, yes, Canada does have an arts community and that is a good thing. I would think the majority believe that. I would think a majority of Conservatives at least believe there is a difference between the Internet today and that back in 1991. At the end of the day, when legislation passes here at second reading, it goes to the committee stage. If there are some concerns, which I too have, there would be an opportunity to go over those concerns.
    With regard to commercial social media and what it means, I am very much interested in what the CRTC has to say. The Minister of Canadian Heritage made it clear that he would like the CRTC to provide a better and clearer definition from its perspective as to what commercial social media would look like. There are some legitimate concerns.
    I am not saying it is absolutely perfect. If there are ways to improve the legislation, given the response from the department and the minister, the government is open to ideas and thoughts to do that. However, if the only real argument as to why members will vote no is strictly about freedom, I really think this has more to do with the Conservative far right behaviour that we have witnessed in the last three weeks.
    One would think Conservatives have all taken out memberships to support the Trump re-election campaign or something. It is amazing that the Conservative Party of Canada, at the national level, feels it has to use the word “freedom” in order to justify voting against this legislation.
    Then they criticize the NDP for agreeing to send this bill to committee. Go figure. They say it is a coalition. Without the support of other opposition parties, we would not have passed Bill C-2 or Bill C-8, which were supports and relief for Canadians during the pandemic with lockdowns and purchasing masks. The Conservatives voted against that too.
    They vote against everything and then tie in the word “freedom”. They need to regroup. How far right are they going to go? It is a resurgence of the Reform Party. That is what we are starting to see. It is being routed from a certain area and a certain number, and all Canadians should be concerned about that.
    Members should not worry about freedom. The legislation is good. They should do the right thing, support their constituents and vote for this legislation.

  (1705)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for giving the calibre of speech that members of the House have come to expect from him, with many trumped-up comments. As a Conservative, I am not at all ashamed or embarrassed about the fact that our party champions freedom, freedom of speech and the freedom of individuals to make their own choices.
    I want to ask the member a specific question about misinformation. We have heard a lot in this House today about RT and the problems with it, and I share those concerns. However, I have similar concerns about state-backed misinformation coming from news channels that are controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. We should not forget that the issue of state-backed misinformation, even of torture and forced confession happening on air, is not just an issue coming out of Russia. It is also an issue in China. Should we not be dealing with that as well?

  (1710)  

    Madam Speaker, we have the CRTC, which has done Canada quite well over the years. At times, we might have some concerns in regard to it. It is apolitical. It is there to ensure that industries and Canadians as a whole are represented well. There is a sense of accountability to ensure that we continue to have confidence in the CRTC and the types of things it is doing.
    Just to conclude the thought I had about the word “freedom”, I would emphasize that the Liberal Party, the Government of Canada, understands and appreciates the word freedom. After all, we are the ones who brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois agree on one thing, and that does not happen often. The thing we agree on is the presence of Quebec and Canadian content on platforms.
    If this is what matters, why exclude algorithms from the methods to ultimately achieve the same result?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I personally have a bit of a problem with that. I suspect that it would be one of the issues that would be brought up at the committee stage. I am glad to hear that the Bloc supports Bill C-11. It sounds like its members will be voting in favour of its going to committee. I see that as a positive thing.
    It is time that we look at the companies such as Netflix, Crave and Spotify and recognize that we need to level the playing field. That is what this legislation is attempting to do. I believe that we will be successful at doing it if we can get it passed through the House.
    Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech attentively. I did enjoy his reference to the struggles of connecting to the Internet in the 1990s. I am thankful that my children will not know the struggle of connecting through a 28k modem and the horrible screeching sound that it made.
    The member for Winnipeg North and I both served in the 42nd Parliament. At that time, the issue of web giants and their unfair competitive advantage was brought up a number of times. Why did the Liberal government wait until now? Why did it not take advantage of the majority government that it had, to pass legislation to tackle this issue? Does his government have an estimate as to how many workers in our cultural industries were negatively impacted by that delay?
    Madam Speaker, after 10 years of a Conservative government, with our coming into government, there were a number of legislative initiatives that were brought forward. This is the first major overhaul of the Canada Broadcasting Act and it had to go through a process of consultation. We do need to recognize the fine work that the departmental officials have done.
    The most important thing is that we finally have the legislation here. We are in a position because we are at the beginning of our mandate. Who knows? Maybe, with the right support, we can continue on for the next three years. We have the time now. Let us see if we can pass the legislation and amend legislation that is long overdue, as I know would be very supportive to our industries.
    Madam Speaker, the crux of this legislation is that streaming platforms have access to our market in Canada, but do not have any responsibility to pay for our content creators, our artists and our performers, and this act is there to help with our performers. I have heard Conservatives across the way saying that this is the government reaching in, when really it is the government giving tools to the CRTC to be able to support our industries.
    Could the member talk about how the governance actually works between the Government of Canada, the CRTC and the market?

  (1715)  

    Madam Speaker, that is a really important question. We need to recognize that by passing the legislation, we are giving the CRTC, which is politically independent of the House, the power to ensure that there is a level playing field. As an example, for Netflix there is going to be the obligation to contribute to Canadian content and funding. Canadian content and funding have always been obligations for television networks. We are levelling the playing field so that both sides have to be able to contribute to something important to all Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, a lot has been said today about web giants. I think the member said that the Internet matters, and I agree.
    The concern I have with the member for Winnipeg North is when he is talking about introducing new rules on the Internet. I am worried that he has broken previous rules. He used one of those web giants to break the Elections Act by advertising to more than 35,000 of his constituents on election day, against the Elections Act, by using a web giant. The member spent over $10,000 on advertising on Facebook, and used one of those web giants.
    If the member ha