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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 048

CONTENTS

Tuesday, March 29, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 048
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer


  (1000)  

[English]

Points of Order

Status of Opposition Party—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised on March 22, 2022, by the House leader of the official opposition concerning the status of the New Democratic Party as an opposition party. While I would have preferred for the Speaker himself to rule on this important matter upon his return, there is an immediate issue that needs to be addressed.
    In his observations, the member alleged that the confidence and supply agreement between the New Democratic Party and the Liberal government is a coalition and that by supporting the government, the New Democratic members have ceased to form an opposition party. He argued that, as a result, the New Democratic Party should no longer have the same rights as the other opposition parties with regard to the proceedings of the House and its committees or to the related procedural and administrative rules.
    In response, the member for New Westminster—Burnaby argued that there have already been supply and confidence agreements in a number of legislative assemblies in Canada, as well as in other countries. This type of agreement is very different from a coalition government, in which the members from two or more parties hold ministerial posts. Rather, it means that an opposition party agrees to support the government on certain issues in exchange for the implementation of that party’s main priorities. He also added, as did the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, that when such agreements occurred, these parties remained in opposition, with all the privileges attached to that status.

[Translation]

     As for the member for La Prairie, he said that he was primarily concerned about the agreement to have public servants share information with the New Democratic Party and a possible imbalance between the powers of government and the opposition’s role to hold it accountable.
    As members know, the Chair deals with procedural issues, not political ones. Fundamentally, the agreement in question is a political one. It is not the Chair’s role to interpret or give meaning to such agreements between parties.
    The procedural issue therefore rests on the rights exercised in our proceedings by members of the opposition and those of the government.
     Let us first look back at the basis of our political system. Members are elected to the House under the banner of a political party or as independents. The party that can obtain the confidence of the House forms the government. As such, it is the governing party and it consists of ministers, parliamentary secretaries and backbenchers who, without being members of the executive, are all part of the same political group. The other parties in the House and independent members constitute the opposition since they are not members of the governing party.

[English]

    In a ruling of September 24, 2001, Speaker Milliken, dealing with the question of the identification of parties, specified at page 5491 of Debates:
…these are matters that the House has always left entirely to the discretion of MPs. They identify themselves as individuals and are free to identify themselves as a group. Their spokespersons are theirs to select. Neither the Speaker nor other members has a say in such matters.

[Translation]

    It is clear to the Chair that there is no change in the status or designation of the members of the New Democratic Party, nor in that of their officers, as a result of this agreement.

  (1005)  

[English]

    The Chair wishes to point out that it is not unusual for opposition parties to form certain agreements with a minority government without thereby becoming members of that same government. As was mentioned, this has happened in a number of provincial and international legislatures. The House has also seen formal and informal agreements between the government and an opposition party, such as during the 29th Parliament from 1972 to 1974, among other examples. We also saw an example of a formal coalition in 1917, the only example in our federal Parliament’s history.

[Translation]

    In the current case, it is not for the Chair to determine if this agreement between the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party is a coalition.
    However, this agreement does not equate to the creation of a new government party or a new political caucus. No NDP member is holding a ministerial post. There has been no change in the representation of the parties in the House.
    As a result, it seems obvious to the Chair that the NDP still forms a recognized opposition party, just like the Conservative Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois.

[English]

    The Chair is confident that the specific provisions of the agreement between the two parties, including those relating to the sharing of and access to information from public servants, will respect the rights and privileges of the House and all parliamentarians.
    I thank all members for their attention.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) and subsection 18(1) of the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Government of Canada's emissions reduction plan entitled “2030 Emissions Reduction Plan: Canada’s Next Steps for Clean Air and a Strong Economy”.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), and consistent with the current policy on the tabling of treaties in Parliament, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled “Acts of the Second Extraordinary Congress of the Universal Postal Union”, done at Addis Ababa on September 7, 2018; “Acts of the Third Extraordinary Congress of the Universal Postal Union”, done at Geneva on September 26, 2019; and “Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the French Republic Concerning the Deployment of In-Flight Security Officers”, done at Paris on January 19, 2022.

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, a report of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation at the first part of the 2022 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, or PACE, by video conference from January 24 to 28, 2022.

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Industry and Technology  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology entitled “The Neo Lithium Acquisition: Canada's National Security Review Process in Action”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs entitled “Main Estimates 2022-23: Vote 1 under Canadian High Arctic Research Station, Votes 1, 5, 10 and L15 under Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Votes 1, 5 and 10 under Department of Indigenous Services”.

  (1010)  

[English]

Corporate Responsibility to Protect Human Rights Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, with slavery, torture, murder and systemic sexual violence, Canadian corporations overseas have sometimes been involved in the most egregious violations of human rights. Up until now, there has been utter and complete impunity for these appalling acts.
    That is why today I am tabling the corporate responsibility to protect human rights act. I thank my seconder, the terrific member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona. This bill would oblige Canadian companies abroad to maintain due diligence on human rights at all times and would provide for the ability of victims to sue these companies for human rights violations abroad.

[Translation]

    Corporate responsibility is everyone's responsibility. I hope all members of the House will support this important bill.

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

[English]

Responsible Business Conduct Abroad Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand here today and table my private member's legislation, the responsible business conduct abroad bill. I want to thank the member for New Westminster—Burnaby for both agreeing to second my bill and being such a champion of human rights in Canada and around the world.
    As elected representatives, we have an awesome responsibility. We have a responsibility to represent our constituents, and it is the honour of my life to represent the constituents of Edmonton Strathcona. However, we also have a responsibility to the greater good, to humanity as a whole and to our shared ambition of a healthy planet and prosperity and opportunity for all people around the world.
    I am proud to be a Canadian because I believe Canada can and should be a leader in protecting human rights and promoting democratic values around the world. However, sadly, there is a stain on our reputation that we must both acknowledge and correct. For too long, companies headquartered in Canada, many mining and oil and gas companies, have undertaken business operations in developing countries, either directly or through subsidiaries, and in many countries with weak human rights protections, workers and communities are violated and abused.
    The CORE ombudsperson has been operational for nearly three years, yet the Government of Canada failed to give it powers that were promised. This bill aims to fix what the government failed to provide. This bill aims to repair Canada's reputation in the world. This bill aims to protect indigenous people, women and girls, human rights defenders, activists and all those fighting for human rights and environmental sustainability in their communities and around the world.
    I hope everyone in the House will support this legislation.

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

[Translation]

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and proud to introduce this bill in the House. I feel compelled to say that I am reintroducing it, since I introduced a similar version in terms of the spirit and the letter in 2017, and again in 2020. This bill is just as necessary today to protect the pension funds of our retirees and our workers.
    Of course, I would like to thank my colleague from Thérèse-De Blainville, whom I greatly admire, for seconding this bill.
    I mentioned that I tabled a similar bill five years ago. We have had a few elections since then, but we have come a long way. We discussed the bill at the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology until all members reached a consensus in June 2021. Since committee members unanimously supported the bill, it was able to proceed through the legislative process.
    I hope the bill will go even further this time, since it will affect several organizations in Quebec. It was inspired by what happened to Cliffs Natural Resources pensioners in my riding. We had 3.5 million supporters across Canada in the previous Parliament.
    I would really love to see the bill go even further this time. I cannot stress enough how important it is to protect retirees' pension funds. The reality is that large multinationals have stolen their deferred wages. Pensions need to be protected once and for all.

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

  (1015)  

[English]

Committees of the House

Citizenship and Immigration  

     moved that the third report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration presented on Thursday, March 3, 2022, be concurred in.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, today we are asking the House to agree to the report from the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration recommending that Canada implement visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada, including by the rapid issuance of electronic travel authorization and by increasing staff so that the existing immigration backlog is not further impacted by this crisis.
    This motion was passed at committee with the support of all opposition members. I hope the government will support this necessary step, as it voted against it when we brought it up at committee.
    I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    We are all horrified at the events unfolding in Ukraine. The unprovoked Russian invasion of a sovereign country and a friend of Canada is disgusting. In this time of need, Canadians across the country have organized to provide aid. They offer their homes to Ukrainians who come to Canada and they raise money to support people in refugee centres in Europe and those who arrive here with almost nothing. That is the generosity of Canadians. Ukrainians fleeing war are looking for safety and a place to work and live where their kids can be kids.
    Countries next to Ukraine, such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Moldova, have taken in millions of refugees. UNHCR estimates that the total number of refugees is now over 3.8 million, and over 6.5 million people are internally displaced in their own country. Poland is at a point where its infrastructure cannot take much more, yet these countries continue to open their homes and communities. They provide aid and military assistance to Ukraine, all while standing up for freedom against Russian aggression.
    This refugee crisis is on a scale that the world has not seen since World War II. The gravity of the situation is not lost on anyone. We see the images of bombed-out cities, bodies of women and children lying on the street and the war crimes committed by a regime wanting to recreate the Soviet Union. Back in January, the member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake and I wrote to the Minister of Immigration, asking him to prepare for the invasion and the refugee crisis. We reiterated the Conservatives' call for visa-free travel for Ukrainians and their families. I will note that the Bloc and the NDP support this measure and have been calling for it as well.
    With all of the pain and suffering that Ukrainians are going through and the pressure building in neighbouring countries, the current immigration system and the pathway need to change. The Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel has not improved the situation for Ukrainians. It is no secret that people applying for a temporary resident visa through this program are still stuck in IRCC's historic Liberal-made backlog of almost two million applications. I am hearing stories from Ukrainians and their families who are completely frustrated by the red tape and bureaucracy affecting people hoping to come to Canada. The new program is based on the existing temporary resident visa program. That means people still need biometrics and need to apply for a visa online. In their time of need, the current government asks Ukrainians to meet the same standards as an immigrant coming to Canada from a country without war. People who do not have computers or access to the Internet or who have limited access to those things are not in a position to have to deal with IRCC and its bureaucracy.
    Look at what happened in Afghanistan. When the government opened up special measures, people had to submit everything electronically. In the middle of the Taliban taking over, refugees had to go to an Internet café, pay, print out documents, fill them out, scan them and email them. After Kabul fell, NGOs such as Ark Salus set up safe houses for people to do this paperwork, but to date, thousands of Afghans who worked for the Government of Canada in Afghanistan or as interpreters with the Canadian Forces are still stranded and in harm's way.
    The government's lack of foresight, planning and coordination was on full display in Afghanistan. In the letter to the minister, we asked him and the government to develop a response to Ukraine that coordinated with national defence and public safety. The government failed to plan for the fall of Kabul, and Ukrainians cannot afford to have the Liberals make the same mistake Canada made in Afghanistan. When the government finally released its new program for Ukrainians, I knew the minister did not listen. He did not listen to the official opposition, the Bloc, the NDP or even Ukrainians who are here in Canada.
    Visa-free travel is a simple ask that we are all making. We knew that if IRCC left a bureaucratic process in place, it would be like watching August 2021 all over again.

  (1020)  

    Canada is home to over 1.4 million people with Ukrainian heritage. Thousands of Canadians have family who are or were living in Ukraine. Our country is home to the second-largest diaspora of Ukrainians in the world. That means many people who are escaping the war and want to come to Canada are friends and family of people already here.
    When I moved the motion calling for visa-free travel from Ukraine, the Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration said no, giving security as the reason, but if Russian sympathizers or spies were trying to come to Canada, our biometric system would not catch them anyway. The minister said so himself at committee on March 3, 2022. The minister said that about 80% of applicants caught for criminality are caught because of biometrics. The member for Lac-Saint-Jean asked the minister if that means that 80% of pro-Russian Ukrainians are detected through biometrics, and the minister said, “No.”
    If biometrics are not as useful as the government wants everyone to believe, why force Ukrainians to go through the bureaucratic mess that the government created? Anyone coming into Canada who is not already a permanent resident or citizen still has their name checked against international and criminal databases. In addition, they still have to submit their passport to get an electronic travel authorization, and everyone entering Canada has to go through customs. That is not to mention that the vast majority of Ukrainians who have left the country are women, children and seniors who cannot stay and fight.
    Then the story changed. The minister said he did not do visa-free travel because it would take too long. He said:
    I realized that certain regulatory changes would need to be made. ...The timeline to implement that would take 12 to 14 weeks, and I didn't think we had 12 to 14 weeks. We'll be able to stand up a new system much faster.
    That statement has come back to bite the government, especially now. People applying for visas are waiting anywhere from three weeks to six months to get a biometrics appointment at a visa application centre in Europe, let alone have their application even processed.
     Mike O'Leary, a Canadian ex-pat, fled Ukraine with his family into Poland. He has been trying to bring his family back to Edmonton but cannot, because an overloaded system is holding up his application.
     Tetiana is a former military interpreter who worked with the Canadian Forces before the war. She is in Poland and is waiting to do biometrics. She got the letter from IRCC with instructions on how to schedule an appointment. Still, she can find free spots in neighbouring countries only for July of 2022. Her friend applied on the first day the new program was opened and could only get an appointment for April 5, three weeks after she applied.
     Konrad, a Ukrainian Canadian, contacted my office about his family in Ukraine. They were under siege in the south of the country. His family and their neighbours lost everything. His family managed to leave and get to Bucharest. They applied for the new program the day it opened and could only get an appointment for April 28, 2022, over a month from the day that they applied. He asked, “What is the meaning of 'emergency' in the title of this measure if the refugees have to the use the same procedure as study permits, regular economic immigration, work permits and tourist visas?”
    He has a point. Why are Ukrainians stuck in a system that is already nearly two million people deep in backlogs when they are just looking for safety from a war inflicted on them?
    That is why I brought this motion to the immigration committee. That is why I stand here today asking that the government not leave our friends and family trapped in red tape. We need to have visa-free travel for Ukrainians fleeing war, and they need it now.
    I want to thank the hon. members from the Bloc and the NDP who voted to pass this motion at committee. I urge all members in this House to do the right thing for people escaping the Russian invasion and vote in favour of visa-free travel.

  (1025)  

    Madam Speaker, what is taking place in Ukraine today is horrific. Many members, in a unified, solidarity fashion, have come out in support of Ukraine. Now a member of the official opposition is bringing forward an idea. He mentions that he brought it forward to the committee, and now we have it in a concurrence motion.
    If the official opposition was as genuine as it is trying to say it is on the issue, why not bring this forward in an opposition day motion? That would have allowed for a longer debate, more members could have participated and there would have been an actual vote at the end of the day on that issue.
    Madam Speaker, this just goes to show that the government is not ready to act at all. Liberals want to debate more and drag this on while people are getting killed in Ukraine. People are trying to come here as soon as possible.
    It was this government, when I tried to—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    To both sides of the House, there is heckling going on or people are thinking out loud. I would ask that they keep it down, because I know that people will write to me or call me to complain that they cannot hear what is going on in the chamber and cannot hear the speaker because people are having side conversations or are heckling.
    The hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
    Madam Speaker, it just goes to show that the Liberals are great at dragging their feet. When I sponsored a family from Afghanistan, it took the Liberal government four years, even though that family was fearful of their daughter being abducted, raped or forcibly married, and the Liberals dragged their feet then. It is because of the massive failures in Afghanistan that we have to bring this forward. If they did not jam up the immigration system and create backlogs like we have never seen before in almost two million applications, we would not have had to bring this motion forward. It is because of the government's failures that this needs to happen. They are dragging their feet again.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, yesterday, during question period, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship talked about everything the government had set up for Ukrainians arriving in Canada. She talked about all the services that have been made more accessible and all the assistance put in place to ease their arrival and make it as comfortable as possible.
    As my colleague pointed out and as our colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean has been requesting for weeks now, there is still no airlift to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine or to bring out the hundreds of thousands or even millions of Ukrainians looking for a safe place to stay until the war is over.
    I would like my colleague to provide his thoughts on the matter. What is the logic behind preparing things here in Canada when nothing is being done to pick up the Ukrainians and the foreign nationals and bring them to Canada?

  (1030)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the Bloc for supporting our motion and the member for Lac-Saint-Jean for his advocacy for the Ukrainians. We had been asking before the invasion took place for all sorts of help, including humanitarian aid. As with every other issue, the Liberals keep dragging their feet. Opposition parties have been working together for the benefit of Ukrainians, but we do not see any help or support coming from the Liberal side, whether it is visa-free travel or more supports.
    It is a good recommendation. I hope that the Liberals take this seriously and that we get things done for the Ukrainians.
    Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could speak more to the issue of backlogs and how when there is a crisis in one part of the world, it seems the government actually pulls resources away from another crisis. We should be able to address all the things going on at the same time.
    Madam Speaker, under the Liberal government, immigration is not working. We have a backlog of almost two million. It is proven that Liberals cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. It is sad to see that our immigration system under the government cannot do everyday business and handle a crisis at the same time. It is a massive failure in Afghanistan, and we are seeing the same type of failures happening in Ukraine.
     Liberals need to get serious about immigration. Families are being separated and refugees cannot seek shelter here in Canada. Businesses are suffering under the government's immigration system and our economy is suffering because of all of that.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to be able to participate in the debate on this Conservative motion for concurrence to take a number of measures related to immigration required to support the people of Ukraine, and, in particular, to implement visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada.
    I will start by saying I recently joined the immigration committee. It has been a pleasure to work with colleagues from all sides on the immigration committee, especially the member for Calgary Forest Lawn, our shadow minister, who has so much passion in this area. As he mentioned in his speech, he was privately sponsoring refugees as a private citizen before he was elected to the House of Commons or anywhere close to that. We need more members who take this area very seriously and are able, independently of the spotlight and outside of their elected lives, to actually be willing to put their money where their mouths are.
    Before I get into the immigration measures, I want to speak to the situation unfolding in Ukraine overall. There has been a great deal of debate in the House on this previously. It is important that we do not let up and allow it to drift out of the headlines. We cannot stop really thinking about the ongoing situation and conflict.
     When I spoke earlier on the situation in Ukraine, I said that I believe Ukraine will either be Putin's Afghanistan or Putin's Czechoslovakia. Of course, we know the sad history of Czechoslovakia at the beginning of the Second World War when the world kind of just let it happen. It negotiated the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia and allowed Hitler to take over Czechoslovakia. That was a step to further aggression and violence.
    On the other hand, we also know the history of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, where, as a result of significant support from the west that allowed people within Afghanistan to fight back against the Soviet invasion and to have the equipment they needed, they were able to drive out the Soviet invaders. That ultimately played a critical role in changing the tide of history in the aggressive agenda that had been pursued by the Soviets up to that point.
    It is up to us to look at this situation and ask if we are going to support the people of Ukraine, so Putin's experience in Ukraine will be like the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, or are we going to allow the invasion to happen in the way similar to how the world kind of accepted the takeover of Czechoslovakia? That is the choice, and it requires our active engagement, our significant support for Ukrainians and our persistence in that enterprise.
     Of course, we know that there is a lot of discussion in the news about possible negotiations and a possible back-and-forth dialogue happening. What is critical for us, as external actors, is to say that, regardless of negotiations taking place, we will not let up in sanctions and in holding Putin accountable unless he withdraws from all sovereign Ukrainian territory, respects the sovereignty of Ukraine's government, and respects the ability of Ukrainians to express themselves through democratic elections and make political choices about their future. Our role is to continue to apply significant sanctions. That is what we on the Conservative side have been saying is required, including significant increased lethal aid and other forms of tactical support to Ukrainians, tougher sanctions and, as our leader has called for, very importantly, air support for humanitarian corridors.
    Speaking of those humanitarian corridors is a good transition point to talking about some of the immigration issues. While many Ukrainians are staying and fighting, heroically standing in the way of the Russian invasion, there are many people, such as women, children, the elderly and those who are not able to fight, who are desperate to get to safety. The UNHCR estimates that the number of Ukrainians who have fled the country is approaching four million. It is a very large number.
    I want to congratulate Ukraine's neighbours, such as Poland, Latvia and other countries in the region. They have done incredible work. Everyday citizens of those countries are welcoming Ukrainians into their homes and stepping up to support Ukrainians in their hour of need. However, other countries that are farther away could play a greater role as well. Those of us here in Canada, with our large Ukrainian community and our close cultural and other ties, can play a critical role in welcoming those who are coming from Ukraine, many of whom, of course, hope to go back after the conflict is over. There is urgency to act now.
    With respect to government action, the frustrating thing is that sometimes it seems like the government is solving problems but with such a delay and such a long time scale that things are ending, or past the point when they could best be solved, when the government is talking about it.

  (1035)  

    For example, it was announced that the government originally said that people coming from Ukraine could stay for two years; now, it is saying they can stay for three years. Obviously, three years is better than two years, but all of us are hoping this will be long over within two years and that people will have been able to go back within two years. We do not know.
    It is hard to predict the future of how these kinds of things will unfold, but the government is making a promise about the far end, a time horizon, when what is really needed is to say how we can get people to be able to come more quickly right now, because right now is when we have the problem. I think we can make comparisons to other issues, such as COVID programs, where the government missed the boat and then, after the fact, would say, for example, that it was going to do ventilation in schools two years after this thing started. This is, I think, a problem with the way the government operates, sadly. It is not on top of issues, but then promises to do the thing we should have already done.
    When it comes to immigration support for Ukrainians who are seeking to find a place to live and be in safety during this time, we are calling on the government to focus on the urgent immediate action now to help people get to a situation of safety. From this came a committee motion that was designed to really move this issue forward and emphasize to the government what needed to be done. A key part of that was the call for visa-free travel.
    I do want to say that, while working on the immigration committee, the spirit of collaboration that exists has been really strong. It was a Conservative motion, but I think it is fair to say to my friends in the NDP and the Bloc that they were enthusiastic and keen about getting visa-free travel as part of this motion as well, and I am very hopeful we will see the same level of support and enthusiasm from other opposition parties, in terms of getting this motion adopted by the House of Commons. I hope, notwithstanding the fact that the Liberals voted against this motion at committee, that the Prime Minister, the immigration minister and the government will take seriously the will of the House of Commons in this respect. If a majority of the House of Commons votes in favour of saying we need visa-free travel, there is not a formal legal obligation on the government to implement the will of the House in this case, but I think there is a moral obligation in a democracy for the government to take seriously what the House of Commons is saying in this respect.
    I do expect, given the positions taken by other opposition parties, this motion to pass, and I think it is a reasonable norm of democracy that, when a government that got a third of the popular vote is told by all of the rest of the parties in the House of Commons that it should take a certain action, the government actually takes that seriously and responds to it.
    My colleague who spoke previously mentioned the arguments the government has used against bringing in visa-free travel. We saw them make some of these arguments at committee. They have said there are security issues that require a visa, and I think my colleague has demonstrated well, and the immigration minister sort of acknowledged this, that to whatever extent there may be individuals who are not actually sympathetic to the Ukrainian side who would try to use this program to get in, it could happen anyway with the provisions the government has put in place.
    Moreover, I think the minister has said that it takes too long to pull back the visa requirement, which does not make a lot of sense to me. If the government is so slow in its operations that removing a requirement takes weeks and weeks of delay, that seems like a problem we should try to solve at a more fundamental level, because what we are calling for is not to add additional requirements to complicate the process; we are just asking the government to remove existing requirements. That should be a fairly simple, straightforward thing to do, and for the government to say that the imposition of this whole new program it has developed would somehow take less time than simply removing the visa requirement, I do not think that makes a lot of sense.
    In any event, and I have sort of come back to this a few times in different contexts here this morning, I think we should ask and expect the Government of Canada to move faster during critical situations like this. I think we see this across the board with immigration. It is useful to think about how in the last year we had the situation in Afghanistan and now we have the situation in Ukraine. In both cases the government did not plan enough in advance and then told us it cannot move fast enough. It will say that it has all these papers it has to move around and things to sign, and that it is just going to take too long. The effect of accepting that somehow it is okay for these processes to take as long as the government is saying they will take is that it has real costs in human life and security.

  (1040)  

    The cost of government delays and inaction in the context of Afghanistan was that there were many people we should have gotten out that we did not. The cost in the case of the situation in Ukraine is, again, further delays, and more people being in harm's way for longer than necessary and longer than they should be.
    I want to point out as well some of the statements being made by representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress on immigration measures. For one, I think their position was actually misstated in committee. There was a member of the Liberal caucus who implied that somehow the Ukrainian Canadian Congress was not pushing for visa-free travel. The same day the Ukrainian Canadian Congress issued a statement clarifying that it does want visa-free travel. It also presented some concerns about the program the government has put in place, and maybe I will get to that in questions and comments.
    Madam Speaker, I am sure the member can appreciate the issue of numbers and the importance of Ottawa working with other jurisdictions, in particular our provinces, when we talk about resettlement. We also need to get a sense of what people will be going into. For example, in the province of Manitoba, there are individuals with homes, literally hundreds of homes, who have been identified, so there is a coordinating aspect to this whole project. This is to ensure that the people from Ukraine who are coming will be in a good position to settle, whether temporarily or potentially permanently.
     I wonder if the member could provide his thoughts in terms of how important coordination is in this whole process.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Again, there is some heckling going on from the other side. I want to remind the members that I know the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan wants to be able to answer the question.
    The hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
    Madam Speaker, I always appreciate the additional contribution from my friends over here.
    This is sort of the third excuse we have been given. We heard the first excuse from Liberal members saying why they would not do visa-free travel. The minister then said that was not exactly right, but he had a new excuse. Now we have a third excuse from the member for Winnipeg North with the implication that we should not be doing visa-free travel because we need to coordinate and we need to know how many people are coming.
    Well, there is a great flow here of people coming in and out who are free to do so because they are Canadian citizens living abroad. There are many countries from which people can come now with visa-free travel. They can come from the United States, the U.K. and from other places. Therefore, for people coming from Ukraine, I think Canadians are ready to step up and help those who come, and we can reasonably estimate the numbers that are going to come. I do not think having a visa requirement to know the number of people who are coming makes any sense whatsoever.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!

  (1045)  

    If the hon. parliamentary secretary has another question, he should wait until it is time for questions and comments.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for North Island—Powell River.
    Madam Speaker, I agree with the member. I think we need to look at every pathway possible to get Ukrainians, who are fleeing violence that most of us can never imagine, to safety. The faster we can get them there the better.
    Last weekend alone I met with many people in my riding who came together specifically to talk about how they can support having folks in their own homes, raising money and doing all of the important work that so many Canadians are dedicated to doing.
    I would also remind the government that it does have contracts with settlement organizations across this country, and if it needs an organizing branch, they are already set up in those communities. If resources were allocated, I am sure that they would fundamentally be able to support a lot of the work that will need to be done.
    I am wondering if the member could answer this question: Why is this government preventing pathways to support Ukrainians to come here, especially as this is Canada, a place that is, and has been, a beacon for so long for Ukrainians?
    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question from the NDP. Unfortunately, I think it is a question more for the government to answer than for me.
    However, I will speculate that with a lot of its immigration measures, it seems the government is obsessed with control. It is capping private sponsorship, and the member for Winnipeg North is saying that we need to know exactly how many people are coming. It is all about government controlling the process.
     I would say that individual Canadians who want to sponsor vulnerable refugees, who want to welcome Ukrainians who are fleeing, can step up, and they will do that. It is not for the government to try to control the precise number. In cases of a crisis like this, it should listen to and respond to Canadians' willingness to welcome those who are in a crisis situation.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for his excellent speech.
    He will surely remember that the minister said that it would take 12 weeks before IRCC could lift the visa requirement and adapt its computer system. What does that say about that department and what does the member make of it?
    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question.
    I think it is necessary to take this step now, and I think it is reasonable and easy to simply lift the visa requirement. However, if it is so difficult to do something so simple, that means there is a bigger problem in the functioning of this government.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to say that it is a pleasure to rise to address this issue, and to a certain extent it is, but I am somewhat disappointed with the Conservative Party because I believe it is using this issue as a way to frustrate the legislative process, and I do not say that lightly.
    All members of the House have been very supportive of the people of Ukraine. They understand the situation and want to do what Canadians as a whole want us to do, and that is to support the Ukrainian people in this time of need. We have seen that in the form of take-note debates. I believe we have had two take-note debates, although maybe one was an emergency debate. I am not 100% clear on that. Members from all sides of the House recognized what is taking place in Ukraine.
    It does not take very much to get an appreciation of what is happening. We can go to YouTube or check news channels and see the horrors of war taking place today in Ukraine. Cities are being completely demolished, and people are dying every day by the thousands. In Putin, we see a dictator who has seen fit to destroy the infrastructure of a country, but the people of Ukraine are resisting. That resistance and love for Ukrainian heritage are what are ultimately going to prevail. We know that and we see that.
    It was inspiring when President Zelenskyy addressed this chamber virtually and spoke to Canadians through the House of Commons. I believe, as I know my colleagues believe, that the Government of Canada needs to do whatever it can to support Ukraine and the people of Ukraine, and not use the political manoeuvres that I believe we are witnessing today to fit another agenda that is, really and truly, meant to frustrate the government.
    If the Conservative Party really wants to have a debate about what is happening in Ukraine today and wants to talk about visitor visas or visa requirements, there are other opportunities. The Conservatives could have approached the government about having another take-note debate. They could have had their own opposition day and a very specific motion to deal with the topic they want to talk about today. They could have done that. There are other ways that the official opposition could have raised this very important issue. There is not one member of the Liberal caucus who would deny the fact that the issue being debated is, indeed, of critical importance. It is the timing of it.
    Yesterday, for example, we were looking forward to Bill C-8 passing, but Conservative after Conservative stood and spoke. Bill C-8 is the fall economic statement that would provide pandemic relief and support for Canadians in all regions, but the Conservatives have made the determination that they do not want to see that bill pass.
    Today we all know we are supposed to be debating Bill C-11: the modernization of the Broadcasting Act.

  (1050)  

    A great deal of effort has gone into that bill through input from Canadians, the work of the ministry and its department, and the work of the minister himself. It has been debated quite extensively thus far, and it was supposed to continue to be debated.
    Again, we see the Conservatives bringing forward a concurrence motion. To the best of my knowledge, they did not approach the government House leader and ask for a take-note debate. To the best of my knowledge, we did not get to the rest of the orders of the day. Conservatives could have brought in an emergency debate on the issue. If they had waited an extra two minutes during House proceedings, we could have had an emergency debate.
     I am sure members in the Conservative Party know that the type of debate they are encouraging right now is, in fact, limited to three hours. An emergency debate would have allowed more people to participate. A take-note debate would have allowed more people to participate. An opposition day motion would have not only allowed more people to participate, but it would have allowed the Conservative Party to frame a question to ultimately be put to the House and see whether that could have been supported.
    That is the reason I say to the Conservative Party, and those who might be following this debate, that it is shameful of the official opposition to try to take an issue that is important to all Canadians and politicize it. I say shame on the Conservative Party of Canada for doing what it is doing: using manipulation to try to twist something so it can score some political points, or limit or cause more frustration on another piece of legislation.
    For Conservatives to try to give the impression that Liberals do not want to contribute to the issue of refugees in Ukraine is absolutely ridiculous. As a government, we want to do whatever we can to support the people of Ukraine. Almost 3.9 million people have fled Ukraine to date. That is the most recent estimate I have heard. Almost four million people have fled Ukraine.
    I talked at the beginning about those horrors. Let us take a look at the track record of this government. I will compare it with the record of Stephen Harper. In 2015, we had the election along with what was taking place in Syria. We had about 25,000 refugees to settle, and the Conservative Party was balking back then and asking how we were going to do that.
    The Conservatives seemed to be in opposition to it, because I think their number was around 10,000. Do not quote me on it, but it was substantially less than what we said. Not only did we achieve 25,000, but from what I understand, we actually exceeded 50,000. That does not happen overnight. There is a process. To my friends across the way, I ask them to tell me another country, on a per capita basis in the western world, that had more refugees from Syria than Canada did.
    Then we have Afghanistan, where the former foreign affairs minister said we would resettle 20,000 refugees, but then that doubled to 40,000. The Conservatives are already critical of some of the processes regarding processing those refugees. We will eventually get there. We understand the important role that Canada has to play when it comes to refugees.
    When I was the critic for the Liberal Party of Canada dealing with immigration matters, we had Stephen Harper and the Conservative minister of immigration cutting back refugee settlement programs.

  (1055)  

    We do not need to take lessons from the Conservative Party on providing humanitarian support to refugees. I saw it first-hand when I was sitting in opposition and the Conservative Party had no respect for refugees or had minimal respect for providing the supports they required in order to settle in a healthier way here in Canada. Now the Conservative Party members have the tenacity to say that we could be doing better from a government perspective.
    An hon. member: You could do something.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, we are doing something. Those who believe we are not are trying to espouse false information. The Prairies were built in good part because of—

[Translation]

    I want to remind all members that they will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments not for five minutes but for 10 minutes. Therefore, I ask that all members wait their turn and not ask questions or make comments while the parliamentary secretary is giving his speech.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.

  (1100)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, someone made reference to the numbers. I think close to 1.4 million people who live in Canada today are of Ukrainian heritage. Taking a look at the prairie provinces, colleagues will find that many pioneers were of Ukrainian heritage. They helped build the Prairies to what they are today.
    Winnipeg North, the riding I represent, is an area of Canada with historical meaning. It has deep roots in Ukrainian heritage. Take a look at the beautiful Ukrainian churches that we have and much of the infrastructure. There are 50-plus blocks that I will visit to talk to many individuals who still speak Ukrainian, with very little English, some of them being lovely seniors who will share their concerns and passion for Ukraine. One can see its rich heritage in things such as Folklorama's Spirit of Ukraine and the Kyiv Pavilion. Both pavilions have virtually sold-out audiences on many occasions. We value the contributions made by people of Ukrainian heritage for generations here in Canada. There is no surprise that when something happens in Ukraine it matters, whether it was back in 2014 or today when we see the horrors of war.
    The expectation from not only the 1.4 million people of Ukrainian heritage but the population as a whole has been that the Government of Canada would step up. Not only the Government of Canada has stepped up, but we have had, I believe, three rallies at the Manitoba legislature with thousands of Manitobans of great diversity. They showed up at the front of the Manitoba legislature to show their support for the people of Ukraine. I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of those rallies. For people here in Canada, especially those of Ukrainian heritage, even though they may not be in Ukraine and may not even have been born in Ukraine, their caring attitude is there. It is real and it is tangible. We saw that in the tears and the flag-waving in front of the Manitoba legislature.
    That was not unique. That is something that is taking place all over Canada as Canadians have stepped up, whether through prayers or donations. The Government of Canada has given considerable amounts, going into hundreds of millions of dollars, but the program I like to highlight is the one through the Red Cross. The reason I like to highlight it is that initially it was for $10 million of matching donations, where the federal government would match up to $10 million of Canadian donations through the Red Cross. That was used up in days. We more than tripled that in terms of those matching dollars. I say that because not only did Canadians as a whole offer their prayers, but they offered money and donations of all kinds. My daughter, who is an MLA, opened her office to receive some non-monetary donations right in her office.

  (1105)  

    People have responded. Part of that response has been to lobby members of Parliament, MLAs and others, to do what they can to help Ukraine at this time of need.
    What has the Government of Canada done? One of the most important things we can do is contribute lethal weapons to support the people of Ukraine. Canada works very closely with our allied countries. In some areas, we have played a leadership role, more than other countries, within the allied forces. In other areas, another country might play a leadership role, but from a financial point of view, even before the war got under way, we saw the Canadian government providing financial support to the people of Ukraine.
    Those lethal weapons, along with the lethal weapons from other allied countries and friends of Ukraine, are what have enabled the heroes of Ukraine, those individuals who are staying in Ukraine and fighting the Russian soldiers and Putin. That lethal aid has proven to be successful, as we have seen parts of Ukraine being taken back because of the efforts of those heroes.
    Canada is also there with humanitarian aid, going into the millions of dollars.
    I want to address, specifically, the issue of those who are being displaced, the 3.9 million people today. I believe it is around that number. Canada has sped up and set into place a special process that enables us to be able to receive an unlimited, and let me underline the word “unlimited”, number of people fleeing Ukraine. Yes, there is a process, a process that is, I believe, reasonable at this juncture and time. If we take a look at what Canada is ultimately providing and the way we are sourcing it, we will see tens of thousands of Ukrainians coming to Canada, whether on a three-year temporary basis or, in some cases, no doubt on a permanent basis.
    We have put into place an expedited system that will enable people not only to come to Canada but also to work in Canada and to study in Canada. We have people in our communities who are opening their homes. We have a federal government that is working with provincial governments and other stakeholders to ensure there are settlement packages wherever possible to support those who are fleeing Ukraine. We will continue to be there.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech full of pats on the back for his government for a job well failed.
    Look, he talked a lot about goals that are already in Canada, but he must appreciate the fact that the barriers and the delays by his government are the reason we cannot talk about those who are trying to come here. We see this, over and over again, whether it is Afghanistan and now Ukraine, or even refugees trying to flee. This is the actual problem. The backlog they have created is causing people to not be able to come here in time. I spoke to the Ukrainian ambassador last year who asked for visa-free travel. We agreed with it. The Conservative platform had it in the platform. Why did we need to do that? It is because of the backlogs.
    Why does the government go against all of the opposition parties, Ukrainians who are here in Canada and the then ambassador of Ukraine who was, last year, asking for visa-free travel? All of the immigration minister's reasoning has been proven wrong already. What is left? What is holding them back?

  (1110)  

    Madam Speaker, a number of years ago, when I was the immigration critic, we had a member of Parliament from Ukraine come to Canada. He explained to the immigration committee that Canada should have visa-free entry for those coming into Canada. However, Stephen Harper at that time said no and so did the Conservative government through the Prime Minister of Canada.
    I believe the Conservative Party is playing politics on this issue and I find it shameful. I understand. Let us give the system we have in place the opportunity to demonstrate that we will bring in the thousands of people fleeing Ukraine who want to come to Canada. We have to give it the opportunity, and let us see what happens. I would like to think that a year from now we are going to see that tens of thousands of people have settled. When I say a year, it does not mean we have to wait a year—
    I have a lot of people who want to ask questions.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Jonquière.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I see a definite pattern in the government's actions. Every time we point out its lack of initiative, every time we point out its turpitude, it behaves like a child who gets caught and says no, it is not their fault.
    The member for Lac-Saint-Jean has been asking questions for two weeks. Will there be an airlift? Can the department keep its visa offices open beyond 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.? The government has not given answers, other than accusing the Bloc of picking fights and the Conservatives of using delay tactics.
    I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary if he can answer these two simple questions. Do you have a strategy for keeping visa offices open beyond 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.? This is a serious humanitarian crisis. Have you considered setting up an airlift—
    I would remind the member to address his questions and comments directly to the Chair and not to the government.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, there is a strategy, and that is to facilitate an unlimited number of people who are fleeing Ukraine to come to Canada, which is a safe haven, and allow them to work, to study and to be here while we go through this very difficult time. It is an unlimited number.
    If we want to base this on a record, take a look at what took place in Syria. There was an initial commitment of 25,000 refugees and we had over 50,000. I believe the Government of Canada has demonstrated that it can and will have a process that will enable those who are fleeing and looking for a safe haven to come to Canada in a timely fashion.
    Madam Speaker, I agree with the member. I have stood with people from my riding, like Sviatoslav and Stefan, who organized the Comox Valley Stands With Ukraine event, where hundreds of people showed up to stand in solidarity, ready to provide whatever supports they could. The sad part for me, as a person who before this worked in a settlement agency for eight years, is that I have never seen immigration as backlogged as it is today. We are dealing with so many files.
    I am wondering if the member could talk about how the government is going to take action with such a big backlog. We are not seeing any clear commitments. Are there going to be clear pathways for government-sponsored refugees? Are there going to be more provisions for people who are coming here maybe for a shorter term but who cannot work? Those things have to be here so people can be received. We are still waiting.
    Madam Speaker, for the Ukraine file, a special stream has been created to help facilitate, in a very timely fashion, people who are fleeing Ukraine. As to the bigger picture, many different streams are there. With more time, Madam Speaker would allow me to provide fulsome answers to that, but I can assure the member that whether it is marriages, sponsors or family reunification—
    We have a point of order from the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston.
    Madam Speaker, I think it is inappropriate for a member to suggest that the Speaker will not allow fulsome answers to questions. I see no evidence that this is true of this Speaker or any other occupant of the chair. I am sure that my colleague will want to reconsider that use of language.
    I understood that he was looking more at the time frame, but I do appreciate the hon. member's point of order.
    If the parliamentary secretary can, he should wrap it up so I can get a couple more questions in.

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, I meant no disrespect to you; it is more that I have a 20-minute answer for the question.
    Suffice it to say that we are making progress. That is one of the reasons we have invested tens of millions of dollars in additional resources for immigration to speed up our processes.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we rarely have the opportunity to draw attention to certain things, and I would like to do that now.
    Earlier, my colleague from Jonquière asked two simple questions to my colleague from Winnipeg North, the same questions that our colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean has been asking for two weeks: Will the government commit to airlifting people and extending the operating hours of its office in Warsaw, Poland, which, at last report, has only been open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.?
    As my colleague from Jonquière pointed out earlier, my colleague from Winnipeg North continued to boast about a whole lot of vague actions his government has taken, instead of answering the questions. Can he answer these two simple questions?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, whether it is the Minister of Immigration, his department, the cabinet or caucus discussions, I would like to think that all things are on the table. We are looking to explore ways to ensure that Canada is able to maximize the number of people who are seeking a safe haven by opening our doors and putting into place policies that will support those who are coming to Canada, whether through settlement programs or through enabling them to have a job, to study or to be among friends. As we all know, there are hundreds of people, and ideally, if I could just wave a wand, we would have thousands of people coming into Canada every day. However, I do not have that wand to wave. I have faith in our minister and our system to ensure that we are able to maximize the numbers coming into Canada, because I know that providing a safe haven is important not only to me personally, but to all of my colleagues in the government.
    Madam Speaker, one thing that has been brought to my attention is the issue around biometrics and the fact that the government has not released that restriction or requirement for people coming into Canada. Is it not possible that they could do the biometric scan and tracking here in Canada once they are here and safe, as opposed to making them do that in problematic areas and places they have to travel to for quite some time? It is really quite impossible for them to get an appointment at an embassy, so would it not be better if they had that requirement here in Canada?
    Madam Speaker, one thing I know is that the government, through the Minister of Immigration, has put into place a team of individuals to ensure that we are able to maximize the number of people able to come to Canada, which is a safe haven. A number of things have been established to accommodate that. Part of the current requirement is the biometrics. I do not know, at the ground level, if or to what degree that is posing a serious problem in preventing individuals from being able to come to Canada. I am sure if it is, the Minister of Immigration will be looking at it.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I must admit that I am a bit surprised by the direction this debate has taken. Frankly, I was not expecting that there would be so much agreement on this motion. I listened to our Liberal colleague's passionate speech and I found myself wondering what, exactly, we disagree on. I took another look at the motion we are debating today.
    It states, and I quote:
     That the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration report the following to the House: We (a) condemn the unwarranted and unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a clear violation of international law....
    Unless I am mistaken, we all appear to agree on this part, so that is clearly not where the issue is.
    I will continue reading the motion, as follows:
(b) call on the Government of Canada to support Ukrainians and people residing in Ukraine who are impacted by this conflict and ensure that it is prepared to process immigration applications on an urgent basis without compromising needs in other areas....
    It states, “on an urgent basis without compromising needs in other areas”. Perhaps this is where things start to become problematic, but it seems to me that the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration set out an important parameter in this second point, so I do not think that should be the case. What then do the Liberals have a problem with?
    In the next point, it states:
(c) implement visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada, including by the rapid issuance of an electronic travel authorization (eTA), and increase staffing resources so that the existing backlog for all immigration streams is not further impacted by this humanitarian crisis.
    Before I comment on that, I would like to point out the extraordinary work that our colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean has done on this file. Unfortunately, he is unable to be with us today because he is being cautious, I would say.
    I applaud his work. Point (c), which calls on the government to “implement visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada”, was the initial proposal. My colleague from Lac‑Saint‑Jean and our Liberal colleagues, among others, added “including by the rapid issuance of an electronic travel authorization”. Rather than eliminate visas entirely, this at least maintains the requirement for an electronic travel authorization. That does not seem to be good enough for our Liberal friends, who were the only committee members to vote against the motion despite the requirement introduced by our colleague from Lac‑Saint‑Jean.
    Point (c) goes on to say: “increase staffing resources so that the existing backlog for all immigration streams is not further impacted by this humanitarian crisis”.
    Are we to understand, based on our colleague's fiery speech, that the Liberals have no intention of increasing resources? Are they saying that they think we have enough staff to handle this kind of situation?
    If so, that is worrisome, to put it mildly. The outcome of the federal government's efforts to welcome Afghan refugees is a clear indication that performance has been underwhelming so far.
    The Liberals promised to welcome 40,000 Afghan refugees. Fewer than 10,000 have made it to Canada so far. This means that, despite the best intentions, if the means and resources are not there, those intentions will not translate into concrete results.
    We do not need to wait another three months to reach this conclusion. We already know that. We only have to look at what happened with the Afghan refugees to realize that not deploying the necessary resources means that we will not achieve the objectives set. Exactly the same thing is likely to happen with Ukrainian refugees.
    What, then, is the government's problem? Is it related to the call for visa-free travel, while maintaining the compromise and fallback proposal made by my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean, namely, maintaining the requirement for electronic travel authorization?
    Is that the problem on the Liberal side, or do they have a problem with the second part of point (c), that is, the call to “increase staffing resources so that the existing backlog for all immigration streams is not further impacted by this humanitarian crisis”? Frankly, if that is really the sticking point, then that worries me, to say the least.

  (1120)  

    The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and the parliamentary secretary quite rightly recognized that my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean is working very hard with them on this file. He is our citizenship and immigration critic, and from the outset, he was prepared to find solutions, collaborate and co-operate.
    The Liberals are not really used to that. The Prime Minister stated that things have been very tense in Parliament and that it is paralyzed, unresponsive and dysfunctional. However, what the Prime Minister may not have understood is that since the election, the Bloc Québécois has constantly repeated that it is willing to work constructively with the government. That is what motivated our colleague from Lac‑Saint‑Jean to respond proactively to the significant humanitarian crisis under way in Ukraine. He came up with proposals.
    His first proposal was a three-year extension of the work and student visas of Ukrainians already in Canada. The government acted quickly on that point. We commend and applaud it. That is wonderful. This was a Bloc Québécois proposal that quickly received a favourable response from the government. When this government is determined to act and takes its head out of the sand, it can do things quickly.
    The second proposal put forward by my colleague from Lac‑Saint‑Jean was to drop the visa requirement. This suggestion did not go anywhere and quickly faced obstacles. We then realized that the government did not really want to drop this requirement.
    As the leader of the Bloc Québécois pointed out, thousands of people are entering via Roxham Road without presenting any travel document, visa or biometric test whatsoever. During the entire pandemic, it was proven that it is possible to close off that route. The government has now decided to reopen the floodgates and has no security concerns about doing it. People are streaming in, no problem. The Prime Minister is rolling out the welcome mat for them.
    However, the same does not seem to apply to the poor Ukrainians who are fleeing their country, which has been unjustly invaded by Russia. The government said it would speed up the process, but it took weeks just to announce that accelerated process, which, by all accounts, is not that much faster anyway.
    Let us put ourselves in the shoes of these poor Ukrainian women, who are the most likely to have taken refuge in Poland, Moldova or Romania. They would love to come to Canada and get as far away from the conflict as possible.
    Canada is asking them to fill out an application for a temporary resident visa, which, according to experts, can take up to three hours for someone who is proficient in English or French. These people are unlikely to be proficient in English or French, but they are still required to fill out the form or else they will not be allowed in.
    Then, these people need to set up a meeting at one of the visa application centres to submit their biometrics. I remind members that this is an emergency and we need to get a huge number of people here, but they are being asked to show up between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. if they want to be able to come over here.
    On top of that, they are required to pay $185 in fees, even though some are destitute. They are still being asked to cough up the money. The government says that it will refund the fees, but these people still need to pay up front without knowing when or how the money will be refunded.

  (1125)  

    These are the documents that the government requires: bank statement, official ID, passport and travel insurance. However, I am not sure that people took the time, especially if their house was destroyed, to collect all their documents thinking that the Canadian government might ask for them. Will these people take the time to search through the rubble of their homes for their passports and bank statements? What the government is asking the Ukrainian refugees to produce so they can access the fast-track procedure is not necessarily possible.
    I will point out that, to date, of the 40,000 Afghans we promised to take in, we have only welcomed 8,580 so far. There is therefore cause to worry about this fast-track procedure when it comes to visas because, in any case, it has not worked that well so far, whatever the measures implemented by the government.
    As for visa-free travel, there seems to be a security concern eating away at the government: It is afraid that some nasty Russians could sneak in. I figure that those who sneak in will not be on site to fight the Ukrainians, but that is another story.
    The government is very concerned about security. However, no fewer than 91 countries are allowing Ukrainians to cross their borders without a visa. I guess these 91 countries do not have the same security concerns as Canada.
    Also, the government told us that it could not really lift the visa requirement because it would take 12 weeks to adapt the IRCC’s computer system. The IRCC minister said that himself. Perhaps if it had started earlier, it would be about ready to remove the visa requirement.
    I would like to point out that, like Canada, Ireland normally does not authorize Ukrainian nationals to enter the country without a visa. However, Ireland was able to lift the requirement in a few hours, rather than a few days or weeks. How is it that Ireland can do in a few hours what Canada can only do in 12 weeks?
    Rather than working on allowing visa-free travel, IRCC has worked very hard for weeks to implement the fast-track process I just described. Perhaps it should have gotten off its butt and worked on immediately lifting the visa requirement? I think that would have been the right thing to do.
    The government seems to be paralyzed by the security issue, so we proposed another approach. Since the government thinks the biometrics are absolutely necessary for security reasons, we wondered whether we could avoid doing the biometric scans over there, quickly and safely bring the refugees to Canada, and then do the biometrics here. This still seems to be too complicated, though, since the government flatly opposed this other proposal from my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean.
    Since the Bloc is always in solution mode, we proposed a humanitarian airlift. We figured that we could ask Canadian airlines for help and they would be only too happy to oblige. For instance, Air Transat has already raised its hand and said it was prepared to send planes if the Government of Canada was interested.

  (1130)  

    The Minister of International Development told us that his government wants to charter flights for medical assistance, instead of using Canadian Armed Forces planes. Air Transat raised its hand and asked what it could do. We do not know what the holdup is, but we are still looking for the answer. There is no holdup anymore, since Air Transat is prepared to volunteer. It said so publicly. The government has not yet understood that Air Transat is prepared to do it, free of charge, believe it or not.
    However, there seems to be some issue with the idea of arranging a humanitarian airlift by chartering planes to Poland and flying them back full of Ukrainian refugees who could quickly find refuge and safety in Canada and Quebec.
    I guess some people are wondering whether the planes are going to fly there empty. It would be expensive for them to fly there empty and return to Canada with people aboard.
    My colleague from Drummond had a brilliant idea. He said that we did not have to fly the planes empty because the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is working like mad to collect essential supplies. It has gathered tons of supplies from all over the place, and it is running out of room to store them. We are asking that it charter flights to ship the items to Poland and neighbouring countries.
    We could organize a humanitarian airlift by filling the planes with the supplies gathered thanks to the generosity of Canadians and Quebeckers. We could fill these planes up, send them to Poland and bring them back full of people. We could fill them with Ukrainian refugees. However, apparently, that is still too complicated. This was another proposal made by my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean, and it got a flat no.
    So far, the Canadian government has ignored the proposal to set up a humanitarian airlift, yet I find this proposal extremely reasonable.
    The government is losing nothing by waiting, since my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean is still looking for positive proposals. It can rest assured that he will continue to make proposals in the coming days and weeks. He will not give up in the face of the government's indolence. I had the opportunity to chat with him before coming here, and I know that he is looking for new solutions, that he is not done suggesting ideas.
    I am having a hard time understanding our colleague's inflamed, even incensed, response to the Conservatives' proposal. All in all, it is a very reasonable proposal. Personally, I see it as the Conservatives making an effort to reach across the aisle. The Bloc Québécois is always reaching across the aisle.
    How can there be a partisan debate on a motion like this one? It is just bad faith to play partisan politics with this issue and reproach the Conservatives for having dared to ask that the House concur in the report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
    The Liberals see it as heresy, but it is no such thing. I read out the motion. Unless our colleague is saying that he does not want to condemn the unjustified attack or that he does not want to support the Ukrainians, we can only conclude that the problem is that we are asking the government to waive visas, while maintaining the requirement for an electronic travel authorization, which was a compromise, an alternative solution, proposed by my colleague from Lac-Saint-Jean. The government is unwilling to add more staff to process applications. That is the government's real problem. That is why it reacted in such an inflamed and incensed manner to the Conservatives' perfectly reasonable motion. The Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the motion.

  (1135)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, whether it is expanding services in communities such as Poland or expanding the biometrics that have taken place, the government's intent is to be there in a tangible way to ensure that we can deliver for the many people who are fleeing Ukraine and who want to come to Canada in an unlimited fashion.
    One of the concerns, no doubt, is that as they come into Canada there needs to be support. There are two issues I would ask the member to reflect on, in terms of a provincial perspective. For example, we want Ukrainian refugees to be able to study. Does the member believe, as I believe, that they should not be charged international student rates?
    There is also the issue of health care. Does the member believe, as I believe, that the provinces should allow universal access to our health care system? Could the member provide his thoughts on those two points?
    I am sure that the hon. member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan will have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments. I would ask him to hold off.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Montarville.
    Madam Speaker, I am insulted that the federal government is using whataboutism and refusing to answer questions or explain its own failings in this matter.
    Instead, it is passing the buck to the Quebec and provincial governments by saying that it has no problem taking in refugees, but that it needs to know whether the provinces will be able to accommodate them. The federal government says that it would not want refugees to get here only to find out that no one can take them in. Until it gets assurances that the provinces can take them in, the federal government prefers to leave the refugees where they are.
    Such rhetoric is frankly indecent. I would like to remind the federal government that, at the very outset, the Quebec government said that it was prepared to take in Ukrainian refugees. It set up a system to welcome Ukrainian refugees. We are ready and waiting.
    With respect to providing them with health care, I would like to remind my colleagues that the provinces have long been giving health care to refugees the federal government took in without consulting the provinces at all.

  (1140)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member's speech was very much on point. The Liberals always claim that other people are being partisan when they do not want to support an obviously good idea that has the support of the rest of the House and the support of Canadians. It is important that we being forward a substantive issue at a critical time and it is too bad that it sounds like the government is not going to support it.
    I was struck by the last question from the member for Winnipeg North, in that he implied that more support should be offered by provinces and by universities when in fact the federal government has been criticized for not stepping up to provide basic assistance for those coming from Ukraine. Those who are coming are not technically considered refugees under the refugee category, which means they do not have access to federal programs that normally exist for people in that situation.
    I wonder if the member from the Bloc wants to comment on the fact that the government has been heavily criticized by the Canadian Ukrainian Congress and others for not offering support to those who come from Ukraine, and then the member is using the needs for support as an excuse for not allowing visa-free travel. The government should be offering that support, but why not let people come through the visa-free travel channel since the government is not currently offering that support as it is?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I touched on that a little in the answer I just gave my Liberal colleague.
    It is obvious to us that the federal government cannot hide behind the intake mechanisms of Quebec and the provinces to explain its own indolence in this matter. If, as my colleague so aptly suggested, the federal government feels that it cannot bring in Ukrainian refugees if they do not have the necessary support to come here, then it should give them that support. After all, the government spent two years loosening the purse strings for anything and everything.
    Why is the government being so stingy when it comes to Ukrainian refugees? Rather than loosening the purse strings again, why is the government asking the provinces and Quebec to cover the cost of welcoming these refugees? If the federal government will not do it, then, as I said before, Quebec will.
    Madam Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech and for the points he made. He clearly showed that the Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives are reaching out to help the government but that, unfortunately, the government is refusing that help.
    Is it because the good ideas are coming from the opposition and not the government that the government is failing to take action?
    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question.
    I had the privilege of being a member of Quebec's National Assembly, in addition to having the opportunity, the pleasure and the honour of being a member of this House for several years. One of the things I soon learned is that it appears to be part of the general culture of the House that an idea is necessarily bad if it comes from the opposition. Even if the opposition's idea is good, the government will reject it and then do a little cut and paste so it can propose the exact same thing. The government is unable to admit that the opposition can come up with a good idea, because it thinks all good ideas come from the government.
    At the National Assembly, we begin with the premise that a government is rarely elected by the majority of the population and that good ideas can come from all sides. As a result, anyone can make a positive contribution. This point of view appears to be totally foreign to the political culture of this House, and I am very disappointed about that.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, who am I to deny the Bloc staking claim to the idea?
    I can tell the member that the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and others have talked about having no visa requirements for Ukraine for many years. The discussion has been heightened because of the war, obviously, and the idea has been floated around now for many weeks. I would not want to take away from those individuals who have the idea.
    As I indicated, there is a streamlined process to ensure we can expedite and ultimately allow individuals who are fleeing and looking for a safe place to come to Canada and let them know that Canada is in fact open to them.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I do not know how to answer my colleague.
    He appears to think that if he just keeps repeating his claim that Canada is wide open, we will end up believing him.
    However, sincerity cannot be judged based on words, but rather on actions. I am sorry to say that the federal government does not walk the talk. It says one thing but does not follow through when it comes time to put words into action.
    I am sorry to say it, but you are not offering Ukrainians a safe haven from the conflict, because you have not implemented the necessary measures or conditions for Ukrainian refugees to come here.
    I would like to remind the hon. member that he must address his remarks to the Chair and not directly to the government.

[English]

    The hon. member for Brandon—Souris has time for a brief question.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague's answer just now is along the lines that if one repeats, repeats and repeats, Canadians will start to believe it sooner or later. The member who just asked the question of him also followed on the previous environment minister from Ottawa's comments that if one yells it louder, as he did in his speech, people will get it even more.
    I am wondering if you could reply to the fact that Liberals already have a poor track record in regard to what happened in Afghanistan. There have been great ideas by the opposition here. Can you just expand on their poor record?
    That was not a brief question.
    I want to remind the member as well that he is to address questions and comments through the Chair.
    We will have a very brief response from the member for Montarville, please.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would simply like to reiterate that this government claims that it has a mechanism in place to quickly take in a large number of refugees.
    First off, the word “quickly” is inaccurate, since there is nothing quick about it. As for “large numbers”, we have only to look at what happened in Afghanistan, since history tends to repeat itself. The government promised to take in 40,000 Afghan refugees, but fewer than 10,000 have made it here so far.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in this House today to speak to this concurrence motion on the grave situation before us in Ukraine. My constituents in Saskatoon West know that I sit on the House of Commons immigration committee. On this committee, we have been focused on several issues of importance, but none more so than the horrid war in eastern Europe and the humanitarian crisis being caused by Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
    The motion we are debating today is very simple. The immigration committee came together under the leadership of my colleague, the Conservative shadow minister of immigration, and asked the government to take in Ukrainians visa-free. That is simple enough, right? Unfortunately, every single Liberal on that committee voted against the motion. I hope today that the Liberals will change their minds and support this motion now that it is in front of the entire House of Commons.
    This motion was born out of the experience of government failures since August 15 of last year to help Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban. We do not want to see a repeat of what happened with Afghanistan replayed here with Ukraine, and indeed the two issues are very much intertwined. Before I get into detail about Ukraine, I must bring out some context about Afghanistan.
    None of us in this House asked for the Taliban to wipe out the legitimate government of Afghanistan last August when Joe Biden removed the last of the U.S. troops from that country, just as none of us in this House asked for Vladimir Putin to invade and wage war in Ukraine, creating the greatest mass exodus of people in Europe since the end of World War II, yet here we are.
    As one of the most fortunate and blessed countries on the planet, Canada has a role to play and must step up to the plate. If we listen to the government, we would hear that Canada's response, in the words of the foreign affairs minister, would be for Canada to be a convenor of meetings. We would send over a few World II bazookas and set up a couple of meetings in Ukraine. Of course, that pales in comparison to the Liberal response to the Taliban, a banned terrorist organization in Canada, conquering Kabul last year. Maryam Monsef, then Liberal leader for women's rights, no less, welcomed the Taliban as “our brothers”.
    I first want to put some context to this debate on Ukraine today. That context is Afghanistan. When Kabul was falling to the Taliban, our Prime Minister called a vanity election, hoping to get his sought-after pandemic majority. On that day, the world was in crisis, and all the Prime Minister could see in the mirror was his own vain image. Thousands of Canadian Forces members served in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014, with the solemn loss of 159 Canadians and military personnel. These brave women and men fought to secure basic human rights, such as girls not being sold into sexual slavery and instead going to school. They also fought to eliminate the threat the Taliban posed to world peace. Of course, it was the Taliban that gave material aid and support to al Qaeda in planning and executing the 9/11 attack.
    Thoroughly embarrassed, the Liberals did promise to bring in 40,000 Afghan refugees. This included those who helped our armed forces while they were in the country, but the program established to bring them over to Canada has been a dismal failure. In eight months, the program has brought in less than 20% of the eligible number, and most of those brought in are in Canada because of private refugee sponsorship, not through the clumsy, overly bureaucratic IRCC process.
    Last night, I attended the Afghan committee and listened to painful stories from Afghanistan. The Taliban hard-liners are turning back the clock. Girls have been banned from schools after the sixth grade and women cannot even travel on a plane without a male chaperone, yet Canada cannot get its act together.
     Here is one example. Friba Rezayee from the Women Leaders of Tomorrow works with elite women athletes. She has 15 female Afghan athletes who have been given full-ride scholarships to respected Canadian universities. The Liberals have denied them student visas because they are afraid that these women might stay in Canada in the long term. The Liberals will not allow elite women athletes to study in Canada because they might not return to a regressive Taliban. I guarantee that we will not see that headline on CBC News.
    Today many potential new refugees are currently in Europe, waiting for their go-ahead from IRCC and a plane ticket, but it is not happening. Indeed Greece, Crete and other EU nations are getting increasingly impatient with Canada as they bear the cost of housing and feeding these refugees who are meant for our country.

  (1150)  

    As an MP and deputy shadow minister for immigration, I am fortunate enough to have been able to meet with many ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls general from other regions to discuss Canada's response to the refugee crisis. I had very fruitful discussions with President Biden’s consul general, Boris Johnson’s deputy in Ottawa and the Belgian ambassador. I have also met with the high commissioners from India, Ajay Bisaria, and Bangladesh, Dr. Rahman, to discuss these issues. I hear one unifying message from the diplomatic corps here in Ottawa: Get on with the job and get those refugees settled in Canada.
    I want to turn to the specific motion we are debating today. Earlier this month, our committee, led by the Conservatives and supported by the other opposition parties, passed this motion calling upon the government to implement visa-free travel for Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war machine. Unfortunately, Liberal members voted against this motion, going on record with their opposition to allowing Ukrainians coming into Canada. Indeed, the Liberal member for Surrey—Newton summed up Liberal opposition to this at the March 1 committee meeting when we were discussing this. He said:
…Liberal members who are concerned about the security…concerned about bad people coming to Canada if there is a visa-free entry.
…This is not going to go well, so please consider that and do not support this motion.
     Let us remember that we are talking about women and children. Men are not even allowed to leave Ukraine.
    Honestly, this is just a smokescreen for the government to slow down the process and keep people out. I know this, because I asked the Minister of Immigration directly about security concerns for Ukrainians coming into Canada when he came to the committee at the following meeting. Specifically, I asked him if the biosecurity checks that are being done at our embassy in Warsaw, Poland, would add extra processing time to the applications. His answer was that it takes only a few days and added negligible time to the processing of Ukrainians. This is simply not true. The reality is that it is adding up to six weeks to the process.
    It is so bad, in fact, that the Toronto Star reported that the Polish prime minister had to take Canadian media aside during our Prime Minister’s trip to Poland to underscore his frustration that these refugees were not being cleared through our embassy in Warsaw. When the Polish prime minister needs to complain about the lousy job the Liberals are doing, something is clearly wrong.
     The Conservative solution is simple: Do the security checks when these individuals arrive in Canada. These are women and children; the risk is very low.
    What would our Conservative solution accomplish? First and foremost, it would allow the people fleeing the war zone the opportunity to come to Canada in an expedited manner. Back in Saskatoon, as I talk to people who have family on the ground in Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia or wherever they may be in Europe, the stories they are telling me are of massive delays at Canadian embassies and consulates to get paperwork done, and that paperwork is for visas. It is to get the so-called biometrics done. Basically, it is fingerprinting and criminal record checking but on a larger scale and against a global database. Conservatives absolutely understand the need to keep undesirables out of Canada. However, we can do these criminal checks in Canada. Let us remember that we are talking about women and children. Canada can do better.
    On Thursday of last week, the Minister of Immigration appeared at our immigration committee. I asked him about the dichotomy between the treatment of Afghans and Ukrainians coming into Canada. I wanted know why only 9,500 of the promised 40,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in Canada after eight months. I wanted to know why he was also bragging about bringing in over 10,000 white Ukrainians to Canada in only three months. The minister said back to me, “the vast majority of people who want to seek safe haven in Canada actually [will] return to Ukraine.” Regarding Afghans, he said, “I hate to admit that the likelihood that people who are coming here are going to be able to return is just not there.”
    He believes that Afghans will stay in Canada permanently. On the other hand, he has every confidence that white Ukrainians will have no problem exiting Canada when the time is right. This boggles my mind. He basically admitted to his own systemic biases in gauging people by their skin colour.
    I am not the only person who caught this either. On Friday last week, The Globe and Mail did an entire news story on my exchange with the minister. This was its analysis:
    Opposition parties says the Liberal government’s streamlined immigration program for Ukrainians creates a two-tiered, racialized system that prioritizes Ukrainian immigrants over refugees from other conflict zones, including Afghanistan.…
[The immigration minister] added that the government opted to offer streamlined immigration measures to Ukrainians, rather than a dedicated refugee program, because European counterparts and the Ukrainian Canadian community have indicated that most Ukrainians who come to Canada will want to eventually return home. This is not the case with people coming from Afghanistan, he said, hence the need for a refugee program.
    I can assure my constituents in Saskatoon West and indeed all Canadians that they can read between these lines and see that the minister is basically waving the white flag to the Taliban and saying that, unlike white Europeans, Afghans do not have the drive, desire or love of their homeland and would not return if conditions improve.

  (1155)  

    I have managed many people over the years, and I have learned that the vast majority want to do a good job. I am sure that the hard-working staff at IRCC want to make Canada proud and do the best job that they can, but there are clear problems. Both Afghans and Ukrainians are being stalled by bureaucracy and piles of rules that effectively stop good people from coming to Canada. These types of problems fall firmly at the feet of leadership: the minister and his senior staff. I urge the minister to review this bureaucracy and make immediate changes so that those at IRCC can do the work they want to do and make Canada proud.
     Marcel, from Saskatoon West, wrote to me after that Globe and Mail article was published. I want members to know what he said, because it is relevant to today's debate. He said, “Thank you for raising this issue...I complained...at election time that it was criminal that getting Afghanis who helped the Canadian Forces had been delayed by the Bureaucrats and the Liberals.... Today's paper states about half of those approved are still being kept out. We should charter planes to bring them here and do the paperwork later. All those who helped the Canadians can be identified by past and present members of the forces.”
    Marcel's point was that the Afghans we are trying to get out helped us through the two-decade war. Canada was in that war because we are part of NATO, and the U.S. invoked article 5, which ensures mutual defence. When one NATO member is attacked, we are all attacked.
    What is happening in Ukraine has a lot of people talking about NATO and Canada's role in NATO. People in Saskatoon West are asking me what I believe should be done for our defence posture in our budget. To that end, I put a motion on notice in the House just last week. Motion No. 55 reads as follows:
    That, given the ongoing war of aggression in Ukraine and the possibility of the war spilling over into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) defended territory, in the opinion of the House, the government should:
(a) make at minimum the NATO requirement of defence spending investments of 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in budget 2022 to bring the budget of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) into line with NATO requirements;
(b) focus this funding on expanding Canada’s war fighting capabilities;
(c) authorize the departments of Public Works and Government Services and National Defence to make capital purchases for the CAF on an urgent basis using national security grounds and waving bureaucratic red tape; and
(d) immediately enter into an agreement with the United States of America to use Canadian territory for the deployment of its ballistic missile system and provide funding and operational personnel for such a system based within in its territory.
    The first and second parts of the motion are pretty straightforward. When our Prime Minister was in Brussels last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that all member nations have until June to provide their plans to him to reach the NATO target of 2% of GDP for defence spending. Our defence minister immediately left that meeting and shot that idea down. The government's coalition partner, the NDP, has said that it will veto any increased defence spending, so it looks like Canada will once again miss this target.
    The third part of the motion to cut red tape and authorize the purchase of military equipment on national security grounds is something that has not happened since Prime Minister Harper. When Canada needed tanks or new heavy-lift airplanes for the war in Afghanistan, the government invoked the national security clause and the equipment arrived within months. Today, when we look at what we can provide for the war on Ukraine, we do not have much. Our military cupboard is nearly bare.
     When our governments go to buy helicopters, fighter jets or new naval vessels, it takes decades. The process to start building the new naval frigates started in the early 2000s, and not one plank has been laid. The process to buy the fighter jets started at the same time, and only yesterday did the government announce that it would begin the process to buy the planes that Harper wanted to buy in 2006. What about those helicopters? Yes, they are the ones that Brian Mulroney ordered in the 1980s and were cancelled by Jean Chrétien. Then they were reordered and finally arrived only a few years ago. Unfortunately, they are all out of service because of cracks in the airframe, but, hey, that is the government's red-tape military procurement system.
    The final section I have in there is on Canada joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence system. Do members know that Canada is the only NATO country not protected against Russian nuclear attack? The technology in this system is proven to shoot down incoming ICBMs. It would not catch all of the nuclear warheads, but it would certainly limit the damage. Why is Canada not a member? The Americans were willing to pay and man the system after all, and all we needed to do was allow them to set up some stations in our Arctic territories. However, under the Paul Martin Liberals in 2005, Canada told President Bush that we thought Putin was a nice guy and would never harm a fly. What I am proposing is that we get back to the Americans, tell them Canada made a mistake, and that if we need to pay and man the stations in the Arctic, a real partnership with the U.S.A., we will do it.
    Even with the war in Ukraine, I am not under any delusion that the NDP-Liberal government will support this motion, but I want my constituents back in Saskatoon West to know that I am putting these ideas forward for them.

  (1200)  

    Saskatoon has one of the highest Ukrainian diaspora populations on the planet. After Ukraine and Russia, the Canadian Prairies are home to the world’s third-largest Ukrainian population. I grew up behind the garlic curtain in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The Yorkton area has a very large Ukrainian population, which is why I thought that garlic was one of the food groups. Borscht, perogy, holopchi, I ate very well in Yorkton.
    I recently learned that my own ancestry is tied to Ukraine. My heritage is Mennonite. My Mennonites started out in the Netherlands; then they moved to Prussia, and then they were enticed to move to Russia by Catherine the Great. She offered them freedom in exchange for their work in developing vast farms, because they were known as great farmers. My grandfather always called himself Russian and labelled his town of birth as Schönfeld, Russia. However, what I recently learned was that my grandfather was actually born in Ukraine. His birthplace, while called Russia at the time, was actually very near Zaporizhzhia, the heart of the current fighting in southern Ukraine. I finally understood my love of Ukrainian food and of Ukrainian people.
    Many Ukrainians also live in Saskatoon West. Their families came here when our province was first settled, and the government was providing land to be farmed. Many others had grandparents and parents flee to Canada during the Holodomor, Stalin’s holocaust and mass starvation of the Ukrainian people. Even today, there are many Ukrainians who are immigrating right now. The Ukrainian language is very much alive and well in Saskatoon.
    I have had a chance to meet with many constituents of Ukrainian descent over the past several years and to talk about issues common to all Canadians. We talk about taxes and government spending. Inflation is a hot topic right now. We talk about health care, the pandemic, crime and everything in between. It has only been recently, though, that we have begun talking about the old country and their relations and ties back in Ukraine. It is heartbreaking to listen to the stories they relay from the front lines. It is also heartwarming to know that many of them are prepared to do everything possible to support Ukraine against Putin’s war of aggression. Even in Saskatoon, I have spoken with young men who could not wait to find a flight to get back to Ukraine to help fight against Putin.
     Oleksandr from my riding wrote to me and said the following: “Hi Brad. I am Ukrainian immigrant. I am in Saskatoon since 2006...I am glad to meet with you (though I am just a journeyman welder in Canada, former Ukrainian engineer. Resident of Saskatoon. I am not a leader of a community or anything like this, so you don’t really need me other than to learn from me about this ridiculous fact of this old vicious attack against Ukraine”.
     Oleksandr’s letter told me that he wanted to send a money wire transfer back to his family, but because of the policies of the Liberal government in Ottawa, he was barred from doing so. This is just another example of the Liberals making bureaucracy a priority over the people of Ukraine. What I will tell Oleksandr and all my constituents is that I am in Ottawa and I will continue to fight for you and will continue to stand up against this incompetent Liberal government to ensure that the concerns of Ukrainians are heard.
    I do not know what the future holds for Ukraine and Afghanistan. I fear that in both instances it will not be good. Democracy and human rights may once again prevail in both countries, but the human cost will be high.
    What is Canada’s responsibility to make sure peace happens? We fought a war in Afghanistan and a lot of Canadian blood was spilled and treasure spent. In Ukraine, the stakes are even higher. Reports put daily military causalities higher than the entire wars in Iraq and Afghanistan inflicted on U.S.A. and NATO allies in two decades. The belligerents of Russia and Belarus directly border NATO countries, while NATO supply lines of military equipment into Ukraine have become legitimate targets for attack. President Biden said the following, “Direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent.” Those are scary words, for sure.
    Let me finish with these inspirational words from Ukrainian President Zelenskyy when he addressed this Parliament two weeks ago: “We are not asking for much. We are asking for justice, for real support, which will help us to prevail, to defend, to save lives, to save life all over the world.… Please expand your efforts to bring back peace to our peaceful country. I believe that you can do it and I know that you can do it.”
    These are inspirational words. Let’s heed them. Peace to Ukraine. Slava Ukraini.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to emphasize that there has been a team Canada approach to dealing with the crisis we are seeing in Europe today, and in particular in Ukraine. Canadians and provinces such as Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta are all talking about supporting refugees. Other discussions are ongoing. To that extent, it is really quite encouraging.
    It is also important that we put out, as much as possible, accurate information. For example, the member made reference to a six-week processing time. We know the average is actually two weeks. That is a substantial difference. For the people who might be following this debate, this is to highlight the fact that Canada has done exceptionally well.
    In fact, in 2020, I believe we resettled a third of all refugees worldwide here in Canada. We have demonstrated leadership in the past. I believe we will continue to demonstrate that leadership, and it is important for us all to recognize that it is two weeks. It is not six weeks.

  (1210)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his statement. There may be a number somewhere that says two weeks, but my information comes directly from people we have talked to: people I have talked to and our office has talked to.
    It is actually quite fascinating. I was in my office last week and my office manager was speaking with a woman in Canada who is Ukrainian. She was speaking with her family. As we were conversing here, she was texting her sister who was in Poland. It just amazed me that we had the ability to communicate directly with people on the front lines of this conflict.
    When I say it is six weeks, that number is coming from those people. This is real information that I have from people I have talked to. The government may say one thing, but the information that I have seen and that I have heard from people in my constituency and from people fleeing the area is that it is many more than two weeks.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg North just said it is important to present the facts. Earlier, my colleague from Montarville presented numerous facts.
    We did not get a response from the government about the possibility of setting up an airlift. As for waiving visas, we have seen some countries do this in a matter of hours, but the government says it could take 12 weeks and the offices are open from 8 to 4.
    Does my colleague agree that, when it comes to Ukrainian refugees, this government is sorely lacking in the initiative department?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, that question points out the reality that is being faced right now. I have heard many stories of people who are wanting to get biometrics done, for example, and these biometrics are supposed to take a short time. When they call the office, they do not even have the ability to book an appointment because they are all booked for the next six-plus weeks.
    There is a tremendous problem with the immediacy of this issue. My colleague suggested getting some planes over there and dealing with the paperwork once people come here. As I said in my speech, these are women and children. Men are not even allowed to leave Ukraine because they are needed in the war effort.
    The risk to Canada is extremely low. I strongly believe that we can do things to get people out of the country, get them to a safe spot and then deal with paperwork and biometrics to figure out if they are terrorists or not.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the comments around biometrics. I am hearing the same thing in my riding of Port Moody—Coquitlam. Many families cannot get appointments to get biometrics done. The NDP condemns these attacks in all measures. This is a terrible humanitarian crisis.
    Does the member believe that there are sufficient resources in our immigration system to deal with this crisis without impacting other crises that are happening around the world? If not, can he provide some additional examples of how that has impacted his constituents?
    Madam Speaker, that question is one that we have asked multiple times at the immigration committee. I hear it from people every day.
    The simple reality is that when one has finite resources and one adds more work to the pile, something will not get done. That is just reality. All of us who have been in the real world have experienced that. We experience that in our own homes: If there is too much to do, something does not get done. All of us have to-do lists we have not gotten to. That is the case here also.
    I have heard many cases of other streams of immigration. I spoke a lot about Afghanistan. I think that one is falling by the wayside a bit. Certainly, in the normal stream of immigration, I can recall a man in my riding who was not able to see his wife and kids for two and a half years because he was waiting for paperwork. Those are the kinds of cases that I believe are going to suffer because of this. There are not enough resources to do all of this work at the same time. The good news is that I believe there could be more resources, if the will was there. Ultimately, we have to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We have to be able to deal with a crisis while we continue maintaining the regular work that has to be done.

  (1215)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to praise my colleague for his excellent presentation and speech in the House on this matter.
    One of the things we have to face is this. There was the example last August, which came to a peak in the election campaign, of how poorly the government did regarding the immigration of Afghan supporters and refugees into Canada at that time. The parallel here is we are in a war again, in Ukraine.
    My colleague just answered a bit of this in a question with regard to resources. When we are in a war situation such as this and we have the reasonable presentation, as we have today, of an opposition day motion to open the visa process to get people here and then deal with the situation so that they can find as much comfort with their families as they can here in Canada, can he draw a parallel between the issue of why we need more resources and whether they would be available? The government has made funds available for a lot of other things. We have just gone through COVID. We know that government services staff are busy.
    Can he expand his thoughts on how we would deal with an increase in government service opportunities to get these people here?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. First, according to the current government, money does not seem to be an object for anything, so I do not think we can say that money is an object. The Liberals have found ways to print money. I am not suggesting that is a good thing, but it seems to be the mode the Liberals operate in, so I would be surprised if they said that money was an object. We also have a very large civil service, so I would think we would have the ability to do this. I believe the minister has the authority to authorize special permits for people to escape if needed. I think it has been done before, so I think we have the tools and the resources we need to make this happen. If we do not have enough resources, I am quite certain we could add what we need to get it done. We have to be able to accomplish these things.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent speech.
    He issued a passionate appeal to get this motion passed and have the government put an end to this bureaucratic war on Ukrainian women, children and seniors who want to seek temporary refuge in Canada.
    I think these wait times are a total failure. Can Canada remove its visa requirement as 91 other countries have done? I think it can, but I would like to know what my colleague thinks.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to comment on a couple of things the member raised. One is that the current government's history is that if an idea comes from the opposition, it is not a good idea. The previous speaker mentioned the same thing. I am pleading with the governing Liberals to see that this is a good idea. May they please take it and use it. We are willing to give it to them and let them do whatever they want with it.
    The other issue the member mentioned was with respect to women. I want to highlight that also. Right now, this is primarily about women and children. We need to protect these women. We need to give them a place to live and a safe place to be. This is hugely traumatic for them and for their kids. We need to be here for them at this time, and I believe Canada can do that right now.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Vancouver East. I want to start by giving everyone in the House a picture of what the conflict in Ukraine has meant for the people of my constituency of Edmonton Strathcona.
    As many will know, Alberta is the homeland of many Ukrainian-Canadians who chose to settle in our country. Edmonton Strathcona is the home of many incredible Ukrainians and also many Canadians who are not of Ukrainian descent, but who desperately want to help the people of Ukraine right now and feel a deep connection to the Ukrainian people.
    It has been said many times in the House that Canadians have a special relationship with the people of Ukraine. We are the country where more people from Ukraine have settled than anywhere outside of Ukraine and Russia. I have seen that impact in my community over the last several weeks. I have seen it in the commitment from all sorts of Edmontonians to help Ukraine. At a tattoo shop in my riding, if someone gets a tattoo the shop makes a donation to Ukraine. At a garden shop, if someone buys a plant a donation is given in support of the people of Ukraine.
    The support we have seen has been unparalleled. I am so proud of two Albertans: former premier Ed Stelmach and former MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, who chartered a Polish Airlines plane to go to Poland and assist Ukrainian refugees fleeing violence to come here. The efforts that Albertans have put forward to help the people of Ukraine warms my heart.
    As all of us are horrified by the war crimes being committed by Vladimir Putin, crimes against humanity that are being committed against the Ukrainian people through no fault of their own, I think it is important that we take a moment in this place to recognize the kindness, generosity and beauty that we have seen from the Canadian people as they push to support Ukraine and Ukrainians.
    I can say as well that, as parliamentarians and as the government, we need to do everything we can to help the people of Ukraine right now. On February 24, the world changed. We need to respond to that. The New Democratic Party has been calling for things such as humanitarian aid. I have been calling for immediate and long-term humanitarian aid, because we will have to help Ukraine rebuild when this conflict is finally over. We have been calling for complete sanctions to be properly enforced and to do everything we can, as fast as we can, to make Putin feel the pain of the actions he has taken. We have talked about the need for us, as Canadians, to give Ukrainians the tools they need to defend themselves. We need to assist them as they try to protect their sovereign country.
    What we are talking about a bit more today is that we need to help Ukrainians come to Canada. We need to help Ukrainians flee the violence in their country. I have heard many times today that the people fleeing Ukraine right now are seniors, women and children. Just a few weeks ago, I was able to go to the Polish border. I was able to meet with some of these seniors, women and children who have been fleeing the violence in Ukraine. Colleagues will not be surprised to hear that it was utterly heart-breaking. It was utterly horrific to hear the stories of what has been done to the Ukrainian people.
    I have a son who is 14 years old. I have told this story before, but I want to tell the people of the House about meeting this young boy who was 11 years old. He was with his two younger sisters and his mother. He was trying to explain in broken English, and with some help in translation, how he was going to take care of his family because his father had told him that he was the man of the house now and he needed to take care of his mother and sisters.

  (1220)  

    He was 11, and he was holding a stuffed animal. I struggle not to break down when I think about that, when I think about what it would be like if my son had to be in charge of taking care of his family and was not given the tools to do that, nor the help from the global community to do that.
    We know we need visa-free travel. We know we need to do everything we can to help the people of Ukraine as they are fleeing violence right now. Visa-free travel is a big piece of that.
    In 2018, the person who represented Edmonton Strathcona before me, Linda Duncan, called on the government to implement visa-free travel for Ukrainians. Let all of us in the House think about what the scenario would be for people trying to flee violence in Ukraine if the government had listened to the New Democratic Party in 2018 and had put in place visa-free travel in 2018 for our very special friends in Ukraine. We would not be in a situation where we have to argue about biometrics. We would not be in a situation where we have to say what is possible and what is not possible. We would be able to help the women, children and seniors in Ukraine get to Canada faster and more effectively right now. However, we did not do that. We did not do that in 2018, so we have to do it now. We have to take the action now that we should have done before. We have to move faster. We have to do more.
    There is another thing we have to do for Ukrainians, who have been traumatized by war, have fled their country, have had to witness things they should never have had to see and have had to leave their fathers, husbands or brothers behind and do not know if they will ever see those people again. We need to support them once they get here.
    When Ukrainian refugees come to Canada, they do not have access to health care supports in this country. Right now, Poland has accepted 2.3 million refugees from Ukraine. Poland does not have the size or the financial ability of Canada. It has accepted vastly more refugees than Canada has, and it is providing resources for Ukrainian refugees to access health care. Let me repeat that. Poland is taking in 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees and offering them limited health care supports. Canada is not doing that. Canada is blocking the ability for Ukrainians to come here and is not protecting them and not helping them as we should be once they get here.
    That is shameful. That does not reflect the relationship we have with Ukraine. That does not reflect the words we hear from our Prime Minister, who says we are doing everything we can for Ukraine. Clearly we are not doing everything we can for Ukraine. Clearly there is more we could do.
    I ask this to all of us in the House, in the government and in opposition: How can we work together? How can we find solutions not just to help the people of Ukraine, but to help the people of Ukraine who are trying to flee the violence, to help the people of Afghanistan who are trying to flee the violence and to help the people of all countries in the world who need help from Canada right now? How can we work together to be the country that we strive to be, to be the country that protects human rights, that protects people's lives and that helps people come to our country and contribute to our society?

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, I do believe there is always more we can do. I also believe it is important to recognize that this is not just about the federal government alone. The member made reference, for example, to Poland providing health services. Three provinces, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta, have now said they want refugees to come and they will have access to health care. Canadians as a whole, many of them, some in Winnipeg North, have opened their homes. There does need to be a team Canada approach.
    The processing time today is two weeks. It is a system that has just been put in place. We are talking about visa-free travel and the member made reference to 2018. I remember sitting in committee in 2014 with a Ukrainian member of Parliament talking about making travel visa-free. This is something that could be on the horizon, but right now we have to work with what we have and it is important that we work as a team. What are the member's thoughts on that?

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, of course I think it is important that we work as a team. It is something I called for in my speech. Canadians can be proud of the efforts that parliamentarians have taken to work collaboratively and together to find ways to move things forward, but my role is to hold the government to account when I feel it is not moving far enough and fast enough. That is certainly the case with the situation in immigration.
    Our immigration system was deeply broken before we got into this situation. Every single one of the 338 members of Parliament in the House knows that we hear time and time again from our constituents about how the system was broken before this crisis. That is something we can all work together on going forward.
    Madam Speaker, does my colleague not realize that her record on immigration is the government's record on immigration with the deal that the NDP made with the Liberals last week?
    When they made this secret deal and signed it in the back rooms in Ottawa, did a portion of that deal have to do with immigration and getting rid of the backlog of 1.8 million? For the next three years, her record is the Liberal government's record, so she will not be holding the Liberal government to account. She will be supporting it and backing it up on this failed policy.
    Madam Speaker, I enjoy spending time with my colleague across the aisle. We have had many good conversations in the past, and perhaps we can have a conversation in the lobby afterward so I can explain to him how governance in the Westminster system works, because clearly he does not understand it.
    What I can say is that as a member of an opposition party, the New Democratic Party, I am so excited that Canadians are going to have dental care, pharmacare, support for workers and support for seniors, and all because of the work that my leader, the member for Burnaby South, has done on our behalf.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. She did a good job explaining the problems we are having, and she called for collaboration.
    My constituents are asking me what is going on in Ottawa, why we cannot be more nimble and create the humanitarian capacity needed so that women, children and seniors can come to Canada. People are ready to welcome them. I get a lot of calls to that effect.
    From the beginning, I have been telling them that we are working together collaboratively. However, it is no longer working.
    The parliamentary secretary just said that this is a new program and that we need to give it time. However, we do not have the luxury of time. Would my colleague agree that time is running out and that refugees cannot wait any longer?
    They want to come here, and we have the capacity to welcome them.
    What are the limits of this collaboration, considering the government's dismal failure?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am sorry, but I will answer in English.
    Absolutely we have been moving too slowly. This has been on the horizon for some time. Even long before the invasion, we were calling for more supports to be put in place. Canada has to contribute more to humanitarian aid. We have to do more, but let us take as a silver lining Canadians' interest in reaching out and supporting Ukraine right now.
    Madam Speaker, I am very happy to enter this debate today.
    As we know, the situation in Ukraine is absolutely horrendous. This unprovoked, illegal war that Putin has waged against Ukraine has shocked the world, and we are all standing united to support Ukraine.
    Here we are in Canada, and the question is, what can we do and what are we doing to help the people of Ukraine? I will say that the government is trying. It is trying to do something, but there are lots of issues with the measures it has put forward.
    The issue my colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, brought forward is in fact one that the New Democrats had brought forward as far back as 2018. We called on the government then to ensure there would be visa-free travel for Ukraine. The government ignored this recommendation and did not move forward on it, and here we are in this situation. Just imagine what it would have been like if that was in place or even if the government took the time to implement it now, or as early as January, when the Minister of Immigration said the government was moving forward with immigration measures to expedite bringing Ukrainians to Canada. Even if it had done it then, in early January, we would be close to having visa-free travel for Ukraine, but it did not do that.
    I urge and call on the government to work expeditiously to bring forward visa-free travel for Ukraine. It is absolutely necessary, even with the special immigration measures in place right now.
    I will take a moment to talk a bit about the special immigration measures the government has brought in. I welcomed them when it made the announcement, although I had suggestions on how they could be done better and some questions on how they would be implemented. Here is how they are hitting on the ground: As predicted, the requirements are causing delay after delay after delay.
    Just a moment ago, I got an email from a constituent who is trying to help bring his 82-year-old mother to Canada. He flew to Poland and met up with her. She took a bus on her own and left Ukraine for Poland, and they have been stuck there ever since. They went on the portal to make the application and could not get through the process to put forward that his mother has what is called an “internal passport”. It is an older identification document that is more or less equivalent to a citizenship card here in Canada. She is 82 years old, so members can imagine that the document is not new and is, rather, a much older document. On the portal there is zero recognition for those with these internal passports, even though the government's website says it would recognize other national identity documents.
    He then sent in a web form, phoned the emergency number and contacted our office. He was told not to worry because the application would be processed, and if his mother qualified, she would be issued a single-use travel document. He was also told not to worry because biometrics would be included in that process.
    Guess what? Just now I got an email from him that says the IRCC is telling them they now have to go and get an international travel passport. What gives? They were just told not to worry and that within two weeks they would get that single-use travel document with biometrics. Now they are being told they need to apply for a passport. By the way, with the lineups in the biometric centres, people cannot even get in edgewise to make an appointment. It is taking longer than a month to get processed. That is the reality of what people are faced with.
    I get it when the government says that this is all new, it kind of does not know and it is doing the best it can, but guess what? It is not good enough. People's lives hang in the balance. They desperately need our government to get this right. That is what we need to do, and I am more than willing to work with the government.

  (1235)  

    I wrote to the minister highlighting these issues. I brought it to the minister's attention in question period. He said that he would address these issues, that they would get it right. Why not ensure that the portal immediately takes people with older internal passports to the portal where one can apply for a single travel document? Why not have a space to recognize internal documents? Most of the people who are coming and wanting to get to safety are women, children and seniors. The government needs to facilitate the process so they can get to safety. It needs to fix these problems. That is what is required.
    I also want to touch on the issue of people having arrived from Ukraine. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress, along with over 500 immigrant-serving agencies across the country, is calling on the government to provide supportive services and resettlement services to Ukrainians. Allowing them to get a work permit is good, but not everyone will be able to work. Allowing them to get a study permit is good, but not everyone will be studying.
    They need to survive when they are here. That means they will need health care support, day care support, housing, financial support and so on. I am joining the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and over 500 immigrant-serving agencies across the country in calling on the government to provide exactly that, to support the people of Ukraine here in Canada during this very difficult time.
     I know government members will say that they are doing it, that they are trying to negotiate with the provinces, and so on and so forth. How about making sure health care is immediately available through using the interim federal health measure. We do that for refugees. We should be doing that for Ukrainians. The minister has the authority to authorize that right now.
    I would also like to add, for Ukrainians who are struggling, that Canadians here want to help. I am sure every MP has received a litany of offers from Canadians who want to help, offering housing, support and so on. The government needs to set up a coordinated system to harness the kindness and support of Canadians. I suggest it create a phone line for people to phone in and say they have a house in Vancouver, or Saskatoon, or wherever the case may be, and that they can house people.
    There are people who want to employ Ukrainians, who are saying that they have job offers available for them, but they do not know where to go. They have nowhere to share this information. The government should set up a system so people can register and make themselves available, so their kindness and their compassionate and humanitarian support are put to use, instead of the floundering around they are doing at this time to figure out what to do.
    We can also utilize non-profits and the strength of non-profits on the ground and help them coordinate this effort, but they cannot do it without support from the government. This was brought to the minister's attention. He said they are working on it. I hope that the government will actually act.
    I also want to raise this point: The minister announced he would be providing extended family sponsorship to Ukrainians, yet I see nothing on the government's website and we have had crickets since he made that announcement. Where is it? I was at an event last weekend at church praying for, supporting and sending Ukrainians strength and our support, and people there were asking me where it was and if the government had announced it. They want to sponsor their cousin, their niece, their nephew, or whoever it may be who they want to bring over. So far there is nothing there. That too is something we need to get on with.
    The extended family sponsorship program works. The government does not have to wait and see how it goes. I am a product of that. My family immigrated to Canada under the extended family sponsorship. My aunt sponsored us to come to Canada in 1976. The program works. We can actually get on with it and proceed with this.
    I will close by saying that the government also needs to extend these special immigration measures to Afghans and to those in other regions in conflict as well.

  (1240)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the incredible number of people we have working within the department of immigration and the civil service, for they have accomplished a great deal. When we think of 2020, one third of all refugees around the world who were settled were actually settled here in Canada. Last year over a half million permanent residents settled here. The Ukraine crisis has come up, and we have already received over 10,000 Ukrainians. That number continues to grow.
    As the member brings up some thoughts and ideas, I would encourage her to continue to work with the ministry and share those thoughts. Settlement is very important. We have announced settlement packages. We continue to work with the different stakeholders, whether they are non-profits or other levels of government.
    In trying to facilitate a potentially endless number coming to Canada for safe haven, does the member have anything else she would like to express at this point? This is an open-ended question.

  (1245)  

    Madam Speaker, I do, actually. First off, I just wish the government would stop saying how well they have done. It is as though that is an excuse to say that it does not need to do better. Second, what the government could do immediately would be to waive the refugee determination requirement for people in Afghanistan and other countries. It is impossible for them to get refugee determination right now, because UNHCR offices do not exist there.
    If we truly wanted to help people in crisis, people who are absolutely desperate to get to safety and flee the Taliban, we will make that happen. Finally, we must ensure the measures are not just restricted to people who are in a third country. We need to allow for people to make those applications within Afghanistan, because if that does not happen, lives will be at risk.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Vancouver East on her speech.
    Let me tell the House about Sylvain, a constituent of the riding I represent. His wife Viktoriia hid out in the basement of the school where she taught in the small town of Nizhyn, a little north of Kyiv. After three weeks, she was finally able to leave Ukraine and seek refuge in Poland. It was an extremely traumatic experience. She is currently in Poland, but she is running up against some truly appalling constraints, encountering every obstacle imaginable while trying to reach Canada.
    I have often asked the government the following question, but I only get very vague answers. That is why I will ask my opposition colleague the question. Can my colleague explain why it is taking so long to facilitate the arrival of Ukrainian nationals in Canada? Why is it taking so long to call in private airlines to set up an airlift, which would help in sending essential goods over there and bringing Ukrainians here?
    I would like my colleague's opinion, since the government is not providing any response on the matter.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I cannot explain why the government cannot get it right. I cannot explain why the government cannot move forward in a more expeditious way. People's lives are literally at risk. They are desperate for help, and there are better ways to do it. In the spirit of collaboration, I am offering my ideas and suggestions on how the government can do better and how it can make the system work far more efficiently. I have outlined all those measures during my speech, but right now, as it stands, I would urge the government to not abandon the idea of moving forward on visa-free Ukraine travel. It should put that in place, as it would be faster and more efficient than the process that is in place right now.
    Madam Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague.
    A few weeks ago, my colleague from York—Simcoe made a trip to bring humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine, and he found no Liberals there helping out. Now that there is an NDP-Liberal coalition, how will the member work with her new government to ensure we are more efficient?
    Madam Speaker, of course, the situation as it stands with the agreement, which is a supply and confidence agreement, does not mean that the NDP is part of the government. The Conservatives should know that, but they want to conflate the issue, confuse the issue and put out misinformation. All the more power to them, I suppose. What we need to do here in this House is to stop the politics and—
    Resuming debate, we have the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills.

  (1250)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to speak to the debate on the report from the citizenship and immigration committee.
    Essentially, the report does three things. It condemns the unwarranted and unprovoked attack on Ukraine by President Putin and the Russian Federation. It calls on the government to support Ukrainians and people residing in Ukraine who are impacted by this conflict to ensure that there is a process to process immigration applications on an urgent basis without sacrificing the department's ability to process other applications. Finally, it calls on the government to implement visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada, including the issuance of electronic travel authorizations and increasing staffing resources so there are no additional backlogs in other immigration streams.
    I support this report because we, for some time, have been calling on the government to implement visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada. In fact, we have been making this call for over a year. It is similar to other calls we have made to the government to assist Ukraine and Ukrainians in the last year. We have, for some time now, called on the government to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, something it resisted up until recently. We made the call for lethal weapons over a year ago, asking the government to come to Ukraine's assistance, as we were anticipating some of the threats we are now seeing unfold from the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
    Up until February 14, the very same day that the government invoked the Emergencies Act, the government resisted the call for visa-free travel and the call for providing lethal weapons to Ukraine. In fact, it said that with respect to providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, the solution would be a diplomatic one, not a military one. On February 14, on the very same day it announced the invocation of the Emergencies Act, it did a 180° on the policy of not providing lethal weapons to Ukraine and announced the government would, in fact, be providing some 9 million dollars' worth of lethal weapons to Ukraine. However, it did not reverse course on our long-standing call to implement visa-free travel to Ukraine.
    That is why this report has come to the House. It is because the government has still not addressed the problem of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Ukraine. It has still not done enough to ensure that Canada plays its part in assisting Ukrainians, both in Ukraine and those in the European Union. Ukraine is a country of some 45 million people. About a quarter of the country is now displaced. Over 10 million Ukrainians have been forced out of their homes. Some of them are now internally displaced people. Some seven million of them are now in Ukraine, not at home, fleeing the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas we are seeing being perpetrated by the Russian Federation. An additional three million Ukrainians have fled Ukraine into the European Union.
    It is those Ukrainians who have fled that we feel Canada can do a better job of assisting. Right now, the burden is falling disproportionately on member states in the European Union, particularly member states in the eastern regions of the European Union, places like Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states.
    While the Government of Canada has said that it is processing visas for Ukrainians to come to Canada, the problem is that there are the backlogs and long wait times to apply for a visa to come to Canada. In fact, we are getting reports that it is taking up to four months just to book an appointment to get biometric scans done in order to begin the application process for a visa. Ukrainians in eastern Europe who have family members here who could take care of them have been applying for these visas to come to Canada, but the websites are indicating that it would be up to four months from now before they can get the biometric scan that would allow their visa application to be processed. After the biometric scan is completed, who knows how much additional time the department will take to process their visa applications?

  (1255)  

    These wait times are not acceptable. The government has had some time now to fix this process and ensure that biometric data can be collected more speedily and that processing of the applications can take place more speedily.
    That is why we have put this motion in front of the House today: It is to put some pressure on the government to fix this broken process, and this should come as no surprise to the government, because this has been going on for some time. We saw this only last August when we went through a similar problem, to the shame of this country, in Afghanistan.
    In the months leading up to the fall of Kabul on Sunday, August 15, of last summer, the opposition had been calling on the government to take expeditious action to bring to Canada Afghans with an enduring tie to Canada in order to protect them from being attacked and killed by the Taliban. We made that call in a statement we issued in early July of last summer, more than a month before Kabul fell. It was reiterated by the then leader of the official opposition, who wrote a publicly released letter to the Prime Minister at the end of July that called on the Prime Minister to take expeditious action to help Afghans who were vulnerable to attacks from the Taliban and Afghans who had an enduring tie to Canada.
     These are Afghans who assisted Canadian soldiers in the field during the war in Afghanistan, one of our most significant commitments in the last two decades. These are Afghans who served as translators, advisers and other local experts on the ground who assisted Canadian soldiers in the field and who no doubt saved countless Canadian lives, and without their expertise Canadian soldiers would have been operating in a much more dangerous and much less information-rich environment.
    We made these calls leading into the fall of Kabul on August 15 because it was clear from quotidian reports that were being published almost daily by reporters on the ground from reputable newspapers like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian that the Taliban were making advances quite rapidly through the first six months of last year. It was clear that the Government of Afghanistan was not able to contain the Taliban advance, and it was clear that Kabul was going to fall a lot earlier than many people had expected when American withdrawal from Afghanistan was confirmed by President Biden earlier last year.
    Despite these calls, the government did nothing. It could have easily evacuated some 6,000 or 7,000 Afghans whom we needed to evacuate, those who had these enduring ties to Canada. These 6,000 or 7,000 Afghans were made up of about 1,000 or so Afghans who served as interpreters, advisers and local experts for Canadian troops in the war in Afghanistan, as well as their families. Afghan families can often be quite large, and so there were about 6,000 or 7,000 individuals we needed to evacuate and had a duty to evacuate, because they put their lives on the line to protect Canadian soldiers and assist Canadian soldiers in the field and because they believed in the mission that we had embarked on. This was a mission, I might add, that was commenced by the then Liberal government of Paul Martin in 2005 and was continued by the subsequent Harper government when it came to power in February 2006. However, despite these pleas, the government did nothing.
    The government could have easily evacuated these 6,000 to 7,000 individuals on Globemaster flights. These are immense planes that can easily hold 400 to 500 people. In fact, during the chaos of the fall of Afghanistan on August 15 and the days around that fall, there was a report of a Globemaster that took off from Hamid Karzai International Airport with some 850 people on board. We could have evacuated these 6,000 or 7,000 Afghans to whom we owe a debt of gratitude, to whom we owe our honour, on about a dozen Canadian Globemaster flights in an organized manner in the weeks of July and early August before the fall of Kabul.

  (1300)  

     The government then went into a panic about trying to do something at that point in time. I feel that is really where we are at right now on the crisis in Ukraine. The government is now belatedly scrambling to figure out how to address the bureaucratic inertia and the immense backlogs that have sprouted up in the last several weeks when in fact we have known that this was going to take place for some time.
    As with the Afghanistan situation, the government seems unable to fix the process that is leading to these delays in biometric scans and visa processing and come up with a much more efficient and much quicker process to process applications for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada. Canada can do better.
     We know we can do better because it was under Clifford Sifton, one of the former Liberal ministers of the Crown under Wilfrid Laurier, that the government opened up western Canada to literally hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians a century ago. The west was settled by these Ukrainians through an ambitious immigration program. It was an open doors program that during the 1920s saw Canada's immigration rise to some of the highest levels in our history. Many of those immigrants came from Ukraine and settled in the western prairies of this country. They broke sod and laid the foundation for modern western Canada. Some 1.3 million Canadians today trace their roots back to those waves of Ukrainian immigration a century ago. We can do better because we have in the past done better.
    The motion in front of us today is a call on the government to do better when it comes to addressing what is currently one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world. Ironically, it ties in to the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world today, which is the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is facing the biggest humanitarian crisis. Shortages of food, energy and so many other things are putting millions of Afghans at risk of starvation and severe deprivation in the coming months. There too, as in the present situation in Ukraine, the Canadian government, while it is doing a number of things to address the situation, can do a lot better, especially considering the immense wealth and the fortunate circumstances we have in this country in not being directly affected by war and conflict, as both Afghanistan and Ukraine are. Part of what I hope comes out of this debate today is the government's understanding that parliamentarians are seized with this issue and that we believe that the government should do a better job in helping Ukrainians flee from Ukraine and helping Afghans flee from Afghanistan.
    The situation regarding Ukrainians in eastern Europe is arguably much easier for the government to address than the situation in Afghanistan today, for the simple fact that Afghanistan has become a closed-off society with a government that we do not recognize, a government that is listed by the Canadian government and other western allies as a terrorist entity. It is a government with which we should not and cannot be doing any business, whether directly or whether indirectly through humanitarian aid groups on the ground.
    However, that is not the situation with Ukrainians in eastern Europe. There are some three million of them that we could be assisting today here in Canada. All it takes is for deputy ministers and central agencies to figure out what the roadblocks are, shorten the wait times for biometric scans from four months down to four days or so, and figure out what we then need to do to shorten processing times for visas down from an uncertain amount of time now to several days or so.

  (1305)  

     That would ensure that we can start admitting Ukrainians in the numbers needed to relieve pressure on our NATO allies in eastern Europe. We have done these quick things before in our country's history, and the urgency of the situation today requires us to do the same now. It is in our interest to do this. These are things that we have the resources to do and the capabilities of doing. If the issue is a concern about security, as the government has indicated in recent weeks, then surely we can work more quickly with the European governments and the European Commission to exchange the data necessary to ensure that bad actors do not use the cover of a humanitarian crisis to sneak into Canada and continue their nefarious work.
    My God, we live next to one of the largest countries in the world, the United States of America, where some 300 million citizens have the right to visa-free travel into Canada. I can assure colleagues that as is the case in Canada, there are a lot of bad actors south of the border whom we do not want admitted through our Fort Erie-Buffalo border crossing, our Niagara Falls border crossing, our Queenston-Lewiston border crossing or the dozens of other border crossings that dot this great land, so we have put in place information-sharing systems to ensure that CBSA officials at the border can interdict individuals from coming into Canada as soon as their passports are swiped, because we have information from U.S. intelligence and from U.S. law enforcement about which individuals should not be coming into Canada and vice versa. I am sure there are individuals here whom the Americans do not want to see entering the United States, and on a daily basis they deny entry too.
    We should be putting in place similar systems expeditiously, right now, between democracies in the European Union and Canada, because the European Union member states have already done exactly that in order to ensure the protection of their own citizens. In fact, the European Union implemented visa-free travel some time ago between Ukraine and the European Union. The three and a half million Ukrainians who have fled from Ukraine to the Schengen zone of the European Union have done so without visas. That process was in place well before the advent of the war. The European Union felt comfortable putting in place that visa-free travel because they had put in place security systems to ensure that bad actors did not take advantage of visa-free travel to enter the European Union zone and do their nefarious work.
    We should be able very quickly to get the security data and the other intelligence data to ensure that we do not allow bad actors into Canada. It is the job of political leaders to do that expeditiously. It is the job of the ministers responsible and the Prime Minister's office to direct central agencies, to direct the department, to establish a task force among departments, central agencies and the political leadership to unstick what is stuck so that we can do our fair share to help Ukrainians to flee Ukraine, help Ukrainians currently in the European Union and help alleviate some of the pressure some of our eastern European NATO allies are feeling as a result of the influx of millions of Ukrainian refugees.
    I hope what comes out of this debate today is a real sense of urgency on the part of the Government of Canada to do better when it comes to helping Ukrainians, both in Ukraine and in the European Union.
    Madam Speaker, I often enjoy the remarks from the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills. I do not always agree with him, but I appreciate his perspective.
    What I heard from his remarks moments ago was the notion of not compartmentalizing our compassion, the notion that we have an immigration system that is wholly unprepared for the scale and the scope of the atrocities that are being committed around the world, in particular in Ukraine. He referenced Afghanistan, but of course atrocities are also happening in Syria, Palestine, Yemen and all around the world, not just as wars being fought but also from a climate disaster perspective. I would argue that prior to this war in Ukraine, our immigration system was vastly outdated and completely inadequate to meet global needs.
     Through you, Madam Speaker, to the hon. member, given what is before us today, what lessons can we learn and what systems can we improve to ensure that our immigration system is prepared not just for what is happening in Ukraine but for the atrocities that are happening around the world?

  (1310)  

    Madam Speaker, quite simply, I think we need to get better. The Government of Canada needs to do better when it comes to operational excellence. The Government of Canada has immense policy capability, but my observation over the past several years is that its ability to execute operationally has been lacklustre. When we look at the government's implementation of various policies over the years, it is not a shining record of achievement. We need to do better when it comes to operationalizing policy. That is the best way I can put it.
    We can look at things such as the long-gun registry. It was an example of policy implementation that went awry. The implementation of a payroll system is another example of policy implementation gone awry. When we look at processing applications for people from Afghanistan wanting to come here as permanent residents, again it is implementation of a policy gone awry. It is the same thing with eastern Europe, when it comes to processing temporary resident visitor permits for Ukrainians wanting to come to Canada.
    Madam Speaker, I did not have the opportunity to speak to the member for Wellington—Halton Hills on an opposition motion that he brought forward a couple of weeks ago. I will pose that question today, because I think it is relevant to the remarks that he made today in the House. It is around natural gas.
    I know that the member opposite believes that it is an important pathway, and that this government supports energy transition both in the interim and beyond. Would he agree with me that it is not necessarily about pipelines, but about the capacity to take existing liquefied natural gas and get it to Europe?
    That is probably going to be at least a two-year or three-year play. Does he think that is something the government should still be pursuing? This is not just a six-month program, but a longer piece. If he has a moment, could he also comment on critical minerals and how important they are to the energy transition beyond fossil fuels?
    Madam Speaker, there are myriad ways in which we need to assist Ukraine and our European allies. The motion in front of us today is one example of what we are calling on the government to do, and is on visa-free travel. The other issue the hon. member has raised is energy.
    We, as a country, need to understand that our natural gas and oil are not simply important to our economy, but are essential to our defence and security. They are also essential to our food security, as about 2% of the world's natural gas supplies are used to create synthetic nitrogen, which some will argue is responsible for half of the world's grain and oilseed production. In other words, without synthetic nitrogen, we could only feed three and a half billion people on the planet instead of seven billion people.
    I note that the Minister of Natural Resources, last Thursday in Paris, announced that Canada would pump another 200,000 barrels of oil a day by year-end and another 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent of natural gas by year-end in order to assist our European allies in displacing Russian oil and gas.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague brought up an important point about operational excellence and the ability of the government to deliver on its functions. We see, on the one hand, the government trying to extend the powers of the federal government and get involved in provincial jurisdiction, people's private lives and all kinds of areas that are not its core responsibilities. On the other side, on things such as immigration, which is a core function of the federal government, we see a failure to be able to get critically important things done.
    We heard the Minister of Immigration at committee admit that the reason the Liberals do not want to lift the visa-free travel is not about security. It is that it would take too long to lift the requirement. How long should it take to lift an existing requirement? We are not talking about putting in place a new requirement: we are talking about lifting a requirement.
    Could the member talk more about how we get the federal government to focus on its core-area functions, and do those things well and efficiently?

  (1315)  

    Madam Speaker, I think the reason the government is hesitant to implement visa-free travel probably has to do with the fact that it does not believe it can expeditiously negotiate bilateral or multilateral information-exchanging agreements and implement those agreements quickly enough to ensure that we can weed out any bad actors who might use the cover of a humanitarian crisis to try to sneak into Canada. I suspect that is really the problem, which relates to the Government of Canada's general lack of ability to execute operationally the policies that it stands for.
    Madam Speaker, I always enjoy listening to my hon. colleague, who is very logical in his approach.
     I was not clear on one thing. The motion that the Conservatives have presented is to have visa-free travel to Canada for Ukrainian refugees. He also mentioned that if there was a way we could find to do the visas in a very short time, in days, as well as the biomedical data, that would also seem to be a solution.
    I just want the member to clarify this. Which approach is he advocating?
    Madam Speaker, I want to tell my colleague how touched I was by his grandchildren's mural that was put together.
    Quite simply, I think we need to do both. We need to shorten the time and increase the availability of biometric scans for Ukrainians wanting to come to Canada. Subsequent to that, we also need to shorten the processing time for applications by IRCC to ensure that people get a yes or no answer very quickly.

[Translation]

    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.

[English]

     The question is on the motion.
    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes to request a recorded division or that the motion be adopted on division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    The hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
    Madam Chair, we would request a recorded division.
     Pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the division stands deferred until later this day at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

[Translation]

    The House will now resume with the remaining business under Routine Proceedings.

[English]

Petitions

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Madam Speaker, I have been waiting for this moment. I thank you for the opportunity to table a number of petitions today.
    The first petition is on the very serious issue of Canadians struggling with mental health challenges. It notes that the Canadian Mental Health Association states that, as a recovery-oriented organization, it does not believe that mental illnesses are irremediable, and the petitioners are concerned about the government's decision to open up facilitated suicide within the medical system for those struggling with mental health challenges. The petitioners call on the government to repeal euthanasia for those for whom mental illness is the sole condition, and to protect Canadians struggling with mental illness by facilitating treatment and recovery; not death.

Foreign Affairs  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition highlights concerns about ongoing tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In particular, the petitioners are concerned about the continuing detention of Armenian prisoners of war following the end of the conflict and note that this is a violation of international law. They call on the Government of Canada to condemn the continuing detention of Armenian prisoners of war, to use all diplomatic tools available to advocate for their release, to condemn state-sponsored hatred in the context of the conflict, and to denounce aggressive rhetoric. The petitioners are also concerned about ongoing issues with respect to the conflict and the violations of the ceasefire we have seen in recent days.

Hazaras  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition I am tabling highlights the very challenging situation facing the Hazara community in Afghanistan. The petitioners note that human rights abuses against the Hazara community predate the Taliban takeover, but have become significantly worse since. There have been various instances of genocide against the Hazara people that go back a very long time. The petitioners want to see the House recognize the genocides the Hazaras have faced and designate September 25 as Hazara genocide memorial day.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition that I am tabling is in support of Bill S-223, which would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ that had been taken without consent. It would also create a mechanism by which the Minister of Immigration could designate people as inadmissible to Canada as a result of their involvement in forced organ harvesting and trafficking. Currently, there is no law against somebody being involved in forced organ harvesting and trafficking abroad. This legislation would remedy that. The petitioners are hoping that this Parliament, after 15 years of efforts to pass legislation on forced organ harvesting and trafficking, is the one that finally gets it done.

Ethiopia  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition I am tabling highlights the ongoing challenges, conflict and humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The petition dates back to a very acute phase of conflict. There continue to be significant concerns about hunger, limited access to food and challenges regarding access to vital health care and other needs. The petitioners are calling on the government to be actively engaged with the Ethiopian and Eritrean governments, to conduct proper investigations into the human rights abuses that have taken place, to defend fundamental human rights in Ethiopia and to address ongoing humanitarian challenges.

Charitable Organizations  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition highlights concern about a Liberal Party election platform commitment that would effectively politicize charitable status determinations. Existing charities law already prohibits dishonest conduct, but the Liberals' commitment, highlighted here, is particularly to target the alleged dishonest behaviour of those with political views that differ from theirs.
    In particular, it seeks to deny charitable status to organizations that have a pro-life viewpoint and that support women in a crisis pregnancy situation. Their proposal would jeopardize the charitable status of hospitals, houses of worship, schools, homeless shelters and other charitable organizations that do not agree with the Liberal Party on this issue as a matter of conviction. This is very similar to what we saw with respect to the values test that was associated with the Canada summer jobs program the Liberals tried to put in place previously.
    The petitioners call on the House of Commons to protect and preserve the application of the charitable status rules on a politically and ideologically neutral basis, without discrimination on the basis of political or religious values, and without the imposition of a values test. They also call on the government to affirm the right of Canadians to freedom of expression.

  (1320)  

Afghanistan  

    Madam Speaker, the final petition that I am tabling today is also about the human rights situation in Afghanistan. This particular petition highlights the condition of the Sikh and Hindu minority community. Petitioners highlight the persecution that the Sikh and Hindu minority community has faced in Afghanistan. They call on the Minister of Immigration, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to take action to support this minority community.

Charitable Organizations  

    Madam Speaker, I have two petitions today. The first one is a petition on behalf of Canadians who are concerned that certain charities could be targeted based on their views. The petitioners call on MPs to ensure that charities that hold views that are different from the government's do not lose their charitable status.

  (1325)  

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Madam Speaker, the second petition has to do with conscience rights. Yesterday, my colleague from Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek spoke on her bill, Bill C-230, the protection of freedom of conscience act, and I am presenting a petition today that supports this legislation. The petitioners are concerned about doctors and health professionals who might be coerced into engaging and supporting euthanasia or MAID, and they want conscience rights and second opinions to be protected.
    The petitioners ask that protection of conscience rights be enshrined into law, protecting physicians and health care workers from coercion or intimidation regarding providing or referring someone for MAID or euthanasia.

Vaccine Mandates  

    Madam Speaker, my petitioners are seeking for the government to cease and desist its ostracism of those who are mandated, through a petition that says that Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's Bill of Rights, and our history of sacrifice in defence of liberty demand that we respect and uphold the conscience rights of all Canadians, and that the Prime Minister has encouraged hatred and contempt toward the individuals exercising their constitutionally protected rights. Therefore, they would like the government to cease and desist this dehumanizing behaviour of refusing to let people leave the country by plane if they do not have their shots.

Climate Change  

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of several Prince Edward Islanders who are concerned about the climate crisis. They are calling on the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada to enact just transition legislation that is wide-ranging and that includes some of the following elements: a reduction of emissions by at least 60% below 2005 levels by 2030; the creation of good, green jobs, ensuring decent low-carbon work for all workers; the protection and strengthening of human rights and workers' rights; the respect of indigenous rights and an emphasis on support for historically marginalized communities; and the expansion of the social safety net.

Human Organ Trafficking  

    Madam Speaker, this petition is in support of Bill S-223, seeking to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking, making it a criminal offence to go abroad and receive an organ taken without consent. This bill has passed the Senate unanimously three times and passed unanimously in the House of Commons in 2019 in the same form. The petitioners hope that this Parliament will act on this petition.
    Madam Speaker, I too am going to present a petition in support of Bill S-223. This bill seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking, and would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad. This bill has been introduced in some form over the last 13 years, and the petitioners are hoping that the current Parliament is the particular Parliament that gets it passed. Petitioners signed this petition because they want this bill passed and are in full support of it.

  (1330)  

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition I have to present is from people from across the country who are concerned about the conscience rights of physicians. They are calling on Parliament to pass legislation that would make it a criminal offence to coerce, intimidate or use any form of pressure to force physicians, health care workers or health care institutions to become parties to assisted suicide or euthanasia. As such, they are calling on the government to enact Criminal Code protections for conscience rights.

Northern Residents Tax Deduction  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition I have to present is from folks from Fox Creek and Swan Hills, two towns in northern Alberta. The petitioners say that the rising cost of heating their homes and other expenses, and the vast distances they must travel, are making life more expensive. They are calling on the government to recognize the fact that they live in northern Canada. They are currently 12 kilometres short of the arbitrary line that runs across Alberta, preventing them from claiming the northern living allowance. They are calling on the government to recognize Fox Creek and Swan Hills as being in the intermediate zone, so that they can claim the northern living allowance and deduct that from their income taxes.

Age Verification Software  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition I have to present is from Canadians from across the country. The petitioners are concerned with the accessibility of violent and degrading sexually explicit material and its impacts on public health, especially on the well-being of women and girls. They recognize that we cannot say we believe in preventing sexual violence toward women while allowing pornography companies to freely expose our children and youth to violent explicit sexual imagery day after day. This is a form of child abuse. As such, the petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to require meaningful age verification on all adult websites.

Charitable Organizations  

    Madam Speaker, the next petition I have to present, and this will be the last one today, is on behalf of Canadians who are concerned that certain charities could be targeted based on their views. The petitioners call on MPs to ensure that charitable status is not subject to a litmus test or a values test. They are calling on the government to ensure that those who have charitable status maintain their charitable status and that the government not require an ideological lens to enable them to maintain their charitable status.

Seniors  

    Madam Speaker, I have a petition before me signed by the residents of Winnipeg North. They are asking for the government and all members of Parliament to take a look at the many different seniors programs, whether it is the GIS support programs, OAS, New Horizons or the issues of mental health and long-term care. They are asking for all members of Parliament on all sides of the House to be strong advocates for all of these types of programs to the benefit of seniors in Winnipeg North, but obviously it would apply to all Canadians.

Questions on the Order Paper

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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Online Streaming Act

    The House resumed from February 28 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.
    Madam Speaker, before I begin, I am sharing my time with the hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.
    Today, I used the Internet. This is not an extraordinary statement and it is not shocking to any of my colleagues, so why do I bother saying it at all? It is because we are here today as the government to advance Canadian interests through a forward-thinking digital policy agenda. By taking action and introducing legislation, we will ensure that the Internet remains an engine for innovation but also adapts to Canadian values.
    However, when I did not use the Internet daily, it was 1991. Back then I was a little younger, in elementary school still, and there was an upstart comedy on TV called The Red Green Show making its debut. Coincidentally in 1991, that was also the time when the Broadcasting Act had its last major update. The time to modernize the act is now and time is of the essence. The online streaming act is part of this work. It would improve fairness in our broadcasting system. It would create sustainable funding for our cultural industries, and it would continue to support the livelihoods of Canadian artists and creators as well as enrich the lives of Canadians who want to see more of themselves on screen and in song.
    The bill addresses an important regulatory imbalance by requiring online audio and video broadcasting services to contribute to the achievement of important cultural policy objectives in the same way that traditional broadcasters always have.
    As early as the 1990s, concerns were raised about the potential for online streaming to disrupt the broadcasting sector. An early decision was made not to place requirements on online streaming services, then, to avoid stifling innovation, given the relative limited impact of those services at that time. Remember, broadcasting regulation only applies where there is a material impact on the broadcasting sector. Today, the rationale to exempt online players simply no longer stands.
    Over the past decade, subscribers to online broadcasters have grown from 6% to 78% of Canadians. In the spring of 2021, surveys indicate that nearly 100% of millennials watched Internet videos. Even if we only focus on the last few years, the revenues of online video services have seen fast and substantial growth, while over the same period of time traditional broadcasters have seen steadily shrinking revenues.
    The reason I bring this evidence to members' attention is to make it clear that the world of broadcasting has changed. We all know this. We regularly turn to online streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify, Crave and CBC Gem to access our music and television in addition to more traditional services like radio and cable. Times have changed. It has taken us over 20 years, but online streaming services are now the method through which a growing majority of Canadians access their content.
    Some detractors of the bill have said that what we are putting forward will cause foreign players to withdraw from the market. What we have seen is the opposite. These platforms are here to stay and more are coming. Their libraries continue to grow and they are competing directly with regulated broadcasters for programming, audiences and advertising dollars. Let us take a look at a few examples of their impact.
    Satellite and cable are losing subscribers to streaming services, while viewers seek out more economical online alternatives. Television stations like Corus, CTV and CBC have shut down transmitters over the last 10 years to cut costs. The broadcasting system is losing advertisers, revenues and audiences to online streaming services. There has been a drastic shift in Canada's broadcasting sector, which has directly impacted the level of support for Canadian programming and talent. Jobs are threatened. Continuing to regulate online and traditional broadcasters differently is not fair and it is not sustainable. It is putting the support system for Canadian stories and music at risk.
    To explain how modernizing the act will create sustainable funding for our cultural industries, it is important to look back at the proven track record of innovation in our cultural sector and recall how transformative digital disruption has been for broadcasting in Canada. The support system that I am proud of, which has cultivated Canadian cultural works and supported innovation and talent in our audiovisual, music and sound recording sectors, is one we intentionally developed through policies, programs and legislation.

  (1335)  

    Let me remind members of the House how things were at the beginning of Canadian broadcasting. Radio and TV channels, as well as cable and satellite distribution companies, had to be Canadian owned and hold licences. They were allowed, and still are of course, to show foreign programs or carry American channels. In return for participating in Canada's broadcasting system and accessing our domestic market, they were required to fund, acquire or broadcast Canadian programs.
    They are also required to make programs accessible to Canadians and contribute to the creation of Canadian programming, including in French. Over time, broadcasters' demand for Canadian programs increased. The system was working as intended and domestic creative industries flourished. Thousands of Canadians found careers in broadcasting as journalists, producers, actors, writers, directors, singers, lighting designers, makeup artists, set designers, showrunners and so much more. There was upskilling in Canada's cultural industries and investment in production clusters. We became known for our creative and technical talent.
    Broadcasting plays a key role in supporting Canada's creative industry and evolving cultural identity. The Canadian broadcasting, film, video, music and sound recording sectors are also important economic drivers. They contribute about $14 billion to Canada's GDP and account for approximately 160,000 jobs. These figures point to a sector we can proud of, not one we can take for granted.
    We knew the day would come when the 1991 Broadcasting Act would no longer be sufficient. Unfortunately, that day has come and long passed. Unlike Red Green, we are not approaching this challenge with duct tape. The legislative process works. We have been working tirelessly with stakeholders, parliamentarians and Canadians to make the requested amendments to the previous act to get us to where we are today. We are fighting for the recognition and supports that our creative sectors need not only to survive but to thrive. Time, as I have said, is of the essence.
    The online streaming act will build on the economic and social benefits of the Broadcasting Act. It is about ensuring the continued viability of the Canadian broadcasting system. It is also about ensuring our cultural sovereignty. We are home to innovation and emerging talent, and it is imperative that we support our creators and creative industries.
    As an artifact of outdated legislation, online broadcasters are not required to support Canadian music and storytelling or any other broadcasting objective. As the revenues of traditional radio and television broadcasters stagnate and decline, so too will the level of support for Canadian music and stories and for the professional creators behind them. This is not right, and I know it is not consistent with a forward-looking digital agenda.
    The proposed act would equip our broadcasting system to meet the known and immediate challenges of today and help brace for the challenges of tomorrow. The implications for the broadcasting system, which is the bulwark of Canadian cultural expression, are grave. Canadian broadcasters have responded by cutting costs, and that has a real impact on their services to Canadians, on their contribution to Canadian culture and on good, well-paying middle-class jobs.
    As Canadians, we would be poorer for not seeing homegrown talent supported and more diversity on screen and in song. Who knows where Ryan Gosling would be today without Canadian television shows such as Road to Avonlea and Breaker High. Notable gem Degrassi High is on the verge of a third iteration. As a country, we have been intentional about supporting Canadian artists and programs. Without this, The Guess Who or Tegan and Sara could possibly have remained some of Canada's best kept secrets.
    The breadth of voices within our borders is unparalleled. Our indigenous audiovisual storytellers, with the support of campaigns such as APTN's Speak with Pride, continue to push boundaries. Previous generations such as mine enjoyed shows like the Polka Dot Door.
    An hon. member: Polkaroo.
    Mr. Chris Bittle: There is some excitement on the other side.
    There was Mr. Dressup and, in French, Passe-Partout. We were collectively sitting at the edge of our seats watching Hockey Night in Canada and others enjoyed, late at night, The Kids in the Hall.
    We are not alone. Countries around the world have moved to support their own culture, and we need to do the same thing. The online streaming act is not about picking winners over losers. It is about ensuring that our cultural sector will continue to grow. No matter how Canadians access their content, they should be able to see themselves in stories.
    The 1991 Broadcasting Act got us here, and now the online streaming act will move us forward. Perhaps I am dating myself, but I will end with the motto of The Red Green Show's lodge: Quando omni flunkus moritati. It is mock Latin for “When all else fails, play dead." We will not play dead on this issue. We will take action on it.

  (1340)  

    Madam Speaker, the hon. member across the way talked about the importance of this piece of legislation and how it is going to expand diversity. He went on to say that Canadians deserve to “see themselves” in the stories that are being shared. What I find interesting is that this bill would allow the CRTC to regulate online creators. Now, the CRTC, the commission or governing body that will be responsible for making sure the bill is followed, is composed, interestingly enough, largely of white middle-aged men. In fact, there is only one woman on the leadership of the CRTC. Sorry, there is more than one woman, but only one non-white individual on the CRTC.
    I am just wondering: Is this the type of diversity the member sees as needed in public broadcasting?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her interest in diversity and inclusion. However, with the bill and the changes we are putting forward, it is the platforms that have obligations, not the users. The Conservative Party, last time this bill came around, left our creators and artists behind. We are not going to make that mistake again. Platforms are in; users are out.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

[Translation]

    Order. The question was asked and an answer was given.
    The hon. member for Drummond.
     Madam Speaker, I can see that some of my colleagues on the other side of the House still have some things to say.
    I thank and commend my colleague from the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for his speech.
    I completely agree with him. Quebec and Canada have had some massive success stories precisely because our broadcasting system promotes content created by Quebeckers and Canadians. Many artists have enjoyed successful careers in Quebec, in Canada and abroad because of the CRTC's broadcasting rules.
    There are a lot of benefits, but there are also some pitfalls. One such pitfall that we hear about quite a bit is regulation of social media, and I think this aspect has been adequately addressed in Bill C‑11. The Minister of Canadian Heritage clearly stated that he did not want to regulate content generated by users, by the private individuals who use platforms like YouTube, TikTok and so on. These creators have, however, expressed some concerns about the wording of this bill in its current form.
    Does my colleague think that we could review the wording of Bill C‑11 to satisfy and reassure these creators, who are becoming more and more of a presence in our broadcasting system?

  (1345)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his work on the heritage committee.
    We are eager to see this bill before committee and to engage in discussion on how to make it better, ensuring its principles and what we and the minister have set out are met. There is room for amendments and room for discussion, and the proper place is in committee. We hope to see this bill quickly brought forward to the heritage committee.
    Madam Speaker, the web giants are using every possible loophole to circumvent our tax rules, the funding of Canadian cultural content and the visibility of the work done by artists and creators. The government has a responsibility to ensure that the bill does not contain such loopholes.
    In the interests of transparency, does the government intend to make public the instructions to the CRTC to ensure that the web giants fulfill their obligations in spending, making Canadian content discoverable and disclosing their financial information to contribute to the development of our cultural content? When does it plan to send and disclose these instructions?
    Madam Speaker, I do not think I have enough time for a response, but the goal is to make sure that broadcasters and online giants are on a level playing field. That is what we put forward, that is the goal of this legislation and that is what we hope to see moving forward.
    Madam Speaker, I am very proud of the incredible content that I can create and put out on social media. I am wondering if the parliamentary secretary can comment on whether or not the incredible content that I am able to put out on a daily basis will be impacted by this legislation.
    Madam Speaker, I think it is members of the Conservative Party who usually provide that content for the hon. member, but I can assure him that if he puts any of his videos online and gets millions of hits, it will not be regulated by the CRTC.
    Madam Speaker, I respectfully acknowledge the Anishinabe people here in the national capital region, located on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin nation.

[Translation]

    Our government made a commitment to advance the interests of Canada and Canadians through a digital framework that ensures progress for everyone. This program includes measures that will make the Internet fairer and safer for all Canadians while ensuring that it remains a tool that fosters innovation.
    I am grateful to have the opportunity to invite my colleagues to support the online streaming act introduced by the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier and Minister of Canadian Heritage.

[English]

    Parliamentarians, stakeholders and industry players have rightly insisted that our Broadcasting Act, last updated in 1991, no longer adequately supports current or future Canadian creators. In that year, the top song in Canada was Bryan Adams's (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. Since 1991, the broadcasting industry has changed and shifted at an unprecedented pace, partially due to technological developments, but also because of COVID and its impacts on when, where and what content is consumed. In short, the status quo is not a situation that Canadian creators, producers, broadcasters or culture can accept.

[Translation]

    For that reason, I would like to take a few minutes to explain why Canadian stories and music should be seen and heard, and why artists such as the Quebec group Bleu Jeans Bleu need a renewed regulatory framework to help them succeed in Canada and abroad.

[English]

    The Broadcasting Act is a vital part of promoting Canada's cultural sovereignty. The Government of Canada continues to work to ensure that whatever the medium, Canadians will be able to see and hear their own stories, express their values and share their experiences with each other. The act is about harnessing the creativity of Canadians and leveraging the promise of technology.

  (1350)  

[Translation]

    Online streaming services now dominate the market around the world, and Canada is no exception. In Canada, these services have grown by leaps and bounds by providing their services across the country.

[English]

    Platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and others provide Canadian talent with a stage before global audiences. There is no doubt these platforms have made meaningful contributions to the support and promotion of Canadian creators, but there is more that could be done.

[Translation]

    These platforms do not have the same responsibilities as traditional broadcasters under the law. For example, these services are not required to support Canadian music and storytelling and other essential objectives of broadcasting in Canada. That is a problem.

[English]

    Canadian voices and perspectives are unique. Our country's diversity is unparalleled on the world stage, and so are the creative works that emerge from it. The time has come for streaming services to participate in and contribute to the production and exhibition of Canadian stories and music. They are well placed to make a significant and important contribution, while taking into consideration their different and varied business models.
    The online streaming act would ensure that financial contributions are made to further Canadian stories and music in a variety of ways, including to support their development, production or promotion, while contributing to the training and development of Canadian creators. In recent years, we have seen one Canadian success story after another, from Schitt's Creek's record-breaking season to Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany and Kim's Convenience's Simu Liu, who is headlining productions in the Marvel cinematic universe. Large platforms like Disney, Apple and Netflix have taken notice of what Canada has to offer.

[Translation]

    Support for the modernization of the Broadcasting Act is not just about guaranteeing access to Canadian creative content. In Canada, we have artists from a variety of cultures, backgrounds and perspectives. This bill is critical to help support our artists and creators, who must be able to realize their full potential.
    We have a responsibility to establish a framework and create the necessary space for women and people from francophone, indigenous, racialized, official language minority, LGBTQ2+ and other communities.
    The difficulties we have been experiencing over the past two years with the COVID-19 pandemic have shown us that solidarity is essential to support our artists and creators. They support our diverse communities every day. They strengthen the soul of our cultures. They keep our Canadian heritage strong.
    The tools proposed in this bill could help us discover the next Denis Villeneuve. We must support our artists, like Canadian drag artist Priyanka, young Mohawk actress Kiawentiio, Manitoban actress and screenwriter Bahia Watson, and Atikamekw artist Laura Niquay from Quebec.

[English]

    Of course, this includes Hamilton's favourite modern rockers, the Arkells, and many other creators like them who deserve recognition. This bill would breathe new life into a system that will invest in the production and broadcasting of Canadian series, films and music. It would aid in building the infrastructure to continue to support and expand an industry that already employs about 160,000 Canadians. That is similar to the number of workers in our oil and gas sector. This investment will bring even more jobs and opportunities to our artists, creators and producers.
    Canadian music is a particularly important part of the cultural sector. The music production and sound recording industry accounts for over $625 million worth of Canada's GDP and almost 10,000 jobs. Through their music and lyrics, Canada's musicians help create relationships and memories, initiate important social discussions and forge a collective national identity and collective national values.
    Music allows us to share our country, our culture and our ideas throughout the world. Much of the music we listen to today is provided to us through online services like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. It is only fair that just as traditional radio does, these services contribute to supporting Canadian music, whether it be through financial contributions to funds intended to support the Canadian music industry or by showcasing Canadian talent.
    It should not matter whether one listens to Michael Bublé on Spotify, YouTube or the radio; these platforms must all contribute to achieving Canada's cultural policy objectives. The need for a modern broadcasting system is now. This bill recognizes the importance of investing in Canadian stories and music.

  (1355)  

[Translation]

    I would ask the hon. members of the House to support this bill, which is fair, equitable and forward-looking. We need to take immediate action to support the next generation of Canadian talent.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the individual across the way made mention in her speech that through Bill C-11, money will be taken from broadcasters and put into an art fund, and artists will then be able to pull from that art fund in order to generate more “Canadian content”.
    She said this is an investment in broadcasting of Canadian material. When I look at YouTube, TikTok, Twitch or Snapchat, I see some incredible up-and-coming Canadian artists. We call them digital-first creators, and they will be captured under this piece of legislation. There is good potential that 30% of their revenue will have to be contributed to this art fund.
    Can the hon. member help me and those digital creators understand whether they would have the opportunity to also pull from that fund by applying for grants from it, in the same way that they are paying into it?
    Madam Speaker, the government has been very clear that it is platforms that fall within the mandate of this legislation, and not users themselves. It is the platforms that we are asking to contribute. Right now, we have a system that is two-tiered, and traditional broadcasters have to follow a number of rules that new streaming services do not have to follow. We want to make an even playing field for broadcasters in this country.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I appreciated the speech from my colleague, with whom I serve on the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.
    Bill C‑11 corrects a concern that was raised during the study of Bill C‑10, the predecessor of Bill C‑11, which was dropped in the previous Parliament.
    Bill C‑11 clearly states that the CRTC will not be able to use algorithms to verify whether digital platforms are meeting the objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act.
    I have a question for my colleague. If it turns out that algorithms are the only way to verify whether the objectives are being met, what might the solution be? How will we ensure that the platforms are meeting discoverability and other objectives?
    Madam Speaker, I look forward to working with my colleague to improve Bill C‑11 in any way that we can.

[English]

    With respect to algorithms, I want to point out that YouTube's own algorithm actively recommends video containing misinformation or hate speech, and those videos tend to perform well on the platform. When it comes to the algorithms about discoverability, we know that in 2020 Spotify found that its own algorithms were leading users to less diverse content.
    Under the current system, the share of royalties that Canadian songwriters receive from traditional media outlets versus digital platforms is almost 70% less.
    Madam Speaker, my question for the member relates to her background as a journalist. I wonder if that background informs her assessment of the bill. If it does, what parts of the bill really stand out as improving upon the status quo?

  (1400)  

    Madam Speaker, as a broadcaster for 20 years, I very much look forward to working on this bill. I am very proud and happy to be part of the heritage committee working on this legislation. The world of broadcasting would not have long to live if it were not for this legislation and the actions of this government to support our Canadian heritage.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Nuclear Energy

    Madam Speaker, my riding of Oakville North—Burlington is home to some of Canada's most innovative global leaders in technology and clean energy. I recently joined the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to announce an investment of $27.2 million from our strategic innovation fund in Burlington's Westinghouse Electric Canada to ensure its next-generation small nuclear reactor will be successfully licensed in Canada. This technology will result in a transportable source of clean energy to serve rural and remote communities reliant on diesel.
    Canada is a global leader in nuclear safety and energy, a zero-emission clean energy source. Our government is committed to supporting innovators like Westinghouse in developing and delivering solutions to global challenges like climate change to ensure that Canada achieves its target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Onofrio Curatolo

    Madam Speaker, Kelowna—Lake Country lost a wonderful spirit, Onofrio Curatolo, or, as most called him, Ono.
    Ono studied in the seminary for 11 years until his family received their visas to start a new life in Canada. In May 1960, they embarked on a voyage from Italy and settled in Winnipeg. Soon after completing English lessons, he founded Universal Travel Agency, which he owned until 1979, later relocating his family and parents to Kelowna. Ono was a entrepreneur at heart, owning numerous stores and businesses and, most recently, Ace Screens & Tint. Having a strong work ethic and wanting to stay involved, Ono, at 83, never fully retired, as he loved meeting new people.
    Ono was proud to be Canadian, yet preserved his Italian heritage. He was an active member of the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club and the Galileo Lodge of the The Sons and Daughters of Italy. Ono was always generous and volunteered throughout the community. People would always see his warm smile and hear his big personality. He always greeted my family and me with open arms and was gracious in teaching me a few sentences in Italian that I could use at community events.
    My heart goes out to his entire family. May he rest in peace.

Child Care

    Madam Speaker, yesterday we reached an agreement to bring Ontario in line, finally, with every other province and territory to make affordable child care a reality for all Canadian families. The price of child care will be cut in half by December and reach an average of $10 a day in the next five years. There will be 86,000 new child care spots created in my province alone.
    This agreement matters. It matters for families in Parkdale—High Park, who face skyrocketing child care costs and are making tough decisions about how many children to raise. It matters for women across Toronto who, given the financial constraints, were more often than men the ones who chose to stay home with their kids. These women now have the option to stay in the workforce. It matters for children around the country, who will benefit from greater access to early learning, which will help their development. Finally, it matters for elected representatives. I heard my constituents' repeated calls to address this inequity and I and our government got to work.
    Yesterday's agreement demonstrates that with determined advocacy, we can rise above voter cynicism and deliver for Canadians.

[Translation]

Mélanie Raymond

    Mr. Speaker, today I have a few words for Mélanie Raymond, who has served as the director general for Carnaval de Québec since 2016.
    Mélanie has overcome incredible challenges since taking the helm at Carnaval de Québec, the biggest and best carnival in the world. In addition to boosting Carnaval's cultural and tourism potential and rejuvenating the event's programming, she had to deal with the pandemic without ever losing sight of the fact that our city and our nation take pride in Carnaval, a tradition that is dear to our hearts.
    Mélanie will be focusing on other projects, and I am sure she will make them just as great as she did the Carnaval de Québec. She is strong, creative and empathetic, a real treasure. Her presence showed the entire Carnaval team, along with the people of Quebec City and Quebec as a whole, that anything is possible. She can be proud of the work she has done.
    I am honoured to have crossed paths with her, and I hope to do so again. I am grateful to Mélanie.

  (1405)  

[English]

Anti-Semitism

    Mr. Speaker, we have recently seen an increasing number anti-Semitic incidents across Toronto and in my riding of York Centre. Public schools have been vandalized, teachers harassed and faculty and students at the University of Toronto made to feel unsafe and “less than”.
    “I am safer on campus if I do not identify as Jewish” is something that I have heard time and again from university students in the schools of social work, medicine and education. The safety of Jewish Canadians in public spaces is not conditional. Jewish Canadians cannot face marginalization or denigration by virtue of their faith or connection to their community.
    When I first took my seat in this House, I shared that day with the announcement of Irwin Cotler’s appointment as Canada’s Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. His work is essential. The events of the past few weeks and generations of anti-Semitism demand that we clearly define and address it, as we have done through the IHRA definition.
    These are difficult conversations. We know that diversity is a fact but inclusivity is a choice, and it is one that requires the respectful inclusion of Jewish voices in our community spaces.

Support for Ukraine

    Mr. Speaker, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Chilliwack-based Hungry For Life International sprang into action, using their local knowledge, network and team in Ukraine to provide humanitarian aid to those directly impacted by the war. The Hungry For Life team, led by Chilliwack's own Chad Martz and his wife Mary, a Ukrainian national, has already provided food and shelter to thousands of people there.
    Since the invasion, they have purchased and distributed over 400 tonnes of food to those in need. Their team has made hundreds of trips into conflict zones to deliver critical aid to those who cannot escape. They partnered with local churches to provide shelter to thousands of refugees fleeing the violence. To date, Hungry For Life has raised over $1.5 million for their Ukrainian relief efforts and the need continues to grow.
    On behalf of the people of Chilliwack—Hope and the entire House, to Chad and Mary and everyone at Hungry For Life, we thank them for the incredible life-saving work they are doing for the people in Ukraine.

FIFA World Cup

    Mr. Speaker, for the first time in 36 years, Canada's national soccer team qualified for the FIFA World Cup. Team Canada will be travelling to Qatar from November 21 to December 18, led by a new generation, a golden generation, of players and a world-class coach supported by an entire country. Our national men's team earned a ticket to the world's biggest sporting event with a historic 4:0 victory over Jamaica. The entire country is proud of these determined players, who stand out in the biggest leagues in Europe and who are the heroes of many young Canadian soccer players.
    Today, we want to thank all of Team Canada for this magical moment as the team moves to the next round on the world stage. They should know they have our full support and that we are cheering them on.
    Go, Canada, go.

Carey Ashton

    Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the House the passing of Carey Ashton, a dear member of our community of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and a beloved member of the NDG minor league baseball community. Serving as the head coach of the NDG Junior Lynx team from 2001 to 2011, he led the team to six consecutive provincial championship titles, but more importantly, Mr. Ashton became an inspiration to people around him by demonstrating courage in the face of his health condition through his dedication to his players and to the baseball field.

[Translation]

    As a result of these impressive accomplishments, Mr. Ashton was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and named coach of the year five times.

[English]

    I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Sharon, to his children Wayne, Rebecca and Taylor, and to the members of the community who had the chance to know this inspiring human being.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

    Mr. Speaker, again this year, more than 151,000 Canadians will need more than 15 weeks of EI sickness benefits to recover from a serious illness such as cancer. We can do more to help them.
    Bill C-215 would increase the maximum number of weeks of EI sickness benefits from 15 to 52 weeks for Canadians going through a difficult period in their lives.
    I want to point out the courage, determination and resilience of those suffering from a serious illness. By passing Bill C-215, members of the House will be showing their support for these individuals and demonstrating that they have the wisdom to set aside partisanship and provide all Canadians with additional financial security.
    I invite Canadians to follow the debate, which will start tomorrow, March 30.

  (1410)  

[English]

Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize a small business that is unlike any other in my riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler. The Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory is a privately held attraction in Cambridge, Ontario, that is recognized as one of Ontario's iconic attractions, drawing many tens of thousands of visitors every year to the Waterloo region. The 10,000 square foot indoor tropical conservatory houses thousands of free-flying butterflies and actively funds and implements butterfly conservation research.
    In addition, it is important to the health and mental well-being of those who visit, importantly providing guests with a respite from the harsh realities of the past two years of COVID.
    Since opening in 2001, over 300,000 schoolchildren have participated in the conservatory's educational programs. The conservatory also manages a robust outreach program, visiting libraries, schools, seniors' homes and community centres.
    Please join me in congratulating the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory as it celebrates 21 years of serving the community.

[Translation]

The Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, founded in 1892 by Father Joseph‑Onésime Brousseau and Virginie Fournier, who became Mother Saint‑Bernard.
    This community settled in Saint‑Damien‑de‑Buckland. These women performed many tasks and devoted their talents to the service of the most vulnerable and to teaching the residents of rural parishes. It is thanks to them that we have heritage buildings, a history centre, publications and countless archives.
    In 1894, the community began to spread its roots in Quebec. Then in 1948, the order of nuns would expand to Latin America and Africa, offering their services to those populations with the same devotion.
    As these nuns leave Saint‑Damien‑de‑Buckland, I thank them kindly for their undeniable contribution to the well-being of the society and legacy they have left us.

[English]

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, this Friday, April 1, the NDP-Liberal coalition government will make life less affordable for Canadians by breaking their promise and increasing the carbon tax again. Canadians cannot afford this April Fool's punishment, especially those living in rural and northern communities like mine. They are already paying the price for the Prime Minister's incompetence with the highest inflation rate in a generation.
    These skyrocketing prices for life's essentials are unaffordable for most Canadians and many families and seniors in the Peace Country are already at the breaking point. This tax increase will be devastating. This crisis, created by the Liberals and supported by the NDP, will lead to higher prices, higher taxes, more debt and less accountability. The carbon tax is an absolute failure and it should be scrapped, not hiked.
    Canadians are no fools and on April 1, they will know that this tax increase is no joke.

[Translation]

Claudette Bradshaw

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. Claudette Bradshaw, former Liberal minister and member of Parliament for the riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, died earlier this week.
    Ms. Bradshaw loved to say that she was just an ordinary woman, but the truth is quite the opposite. She was an extraordinary woman with a big heart and a great Acadian.
    Everywhere she went she exuded unparalleled warmth and compassion, and those on the receiving end of her many hugs can attest to that.

[English]

    Her life's work in community advocacy and politics was all about giving back to those in need and helping people who simply needed a little head start in life.

[Translation]

    She simply could not abide the idea of people living in poverty and so she did everything in her power to help them. We owe her an immense debt of gratitude for her service to the community.
    On behalf of the federal Liberal MPs from New Brunswick, I offer my deepest condolences to her family and friends.
    Thank you for everything, Ms. Bradshaw. Rest in peace.

[English]

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, the climate emergency is real. We all have to redouble our efforts to achieve net-zero emissions.
    Today, I rise to highlight two forward-thinking innovative individuals on Manitoulin Island. Craig and Kelly Timmermans know that being part of the solution to climate change and reducing or eliminating electricity costs means changing the way we think about energy. In 2020, Craig and KT built their new radio station for Great Lakes Country 103 FM and Hits 100.7 FM powered by solar energy, which created Canada's only off-grid radio station. With excess energy to spare, Craig will be installing a single class 2 green energy EV charging station, offering competitive rates with a view to expand.
    It is vital that we acknowledge the work of those leading the way in mitigating climate change, so today I say cheers to Craig and KT. Their entrepreneurial spirits show that we can embrace the shift to green technology and reinforce the fact that transitioning off our dependence on fossil fuels is truly doable.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Denis Villeneuve

    Mr. Speaker, on Sunday evening, Quebec once again celebrated the success of one of its distinguished ambassadors at the biggest event in Hollywood. Dune, from filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, a native of Gentilly in Bécancour, took home no fewer than six Oscars.
    Experts all agreed that Dune was the kind of film that even the most seasoned director could have bungled.
    This was not Denis Villeneuve's first time at the prestigious awards ceremony. In 2017, his film Arrival was nominated eight times. In 2018, Incendies was nominated for best foreign language film. This year, Dune was nominated 10 times.
    Denis Villeneuve's greatest accomplishment, however, is having clinched his spot in the exclusive club of the greatest directors of our time. His collaborators lauded him, praised his great talent and, most importantly, spoke to his human qualities, talking about how open he is and what a joy he is to work with.
    Denis Villeneuve will undoubtedly be dazzling us with his beautiful films for years to come, and Quebec will never stop being proud.

[English]

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, Friday is April Fool's Day, but Canadians across the country are not laughing because the NDP-Liberal carbon tax is going up. That means home-heating bills, electricity bills and already sky-high gas prices are all increasing. Inflation continues to rage out of control. The carbon tax coalition now has an agreement that will continue to trash our world-class energy industry.
    While the new NDP Prime Minister ignores the pain of everyday Canadians, other countries and jurisdictions around the world, including 11 U.S. states, are cutting gas taxes, carbon pricing and even income and business taxes, all in an effort to reduce the cost of living. The Alberta government is also doing its part to help hard-working Albertans lower the price of fuel by eliminating the provincial gas tax while prices remain high.
    The people in my riding are now looking to Ottawa to do the same, but the government wants to punish them for driving to work. Canadians need relief. The NDP-Liberal government must stop making Canadians' lives miserable and scrap this horrible April Fool's Day carbon tax hike.

George Mejury

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great sorrow that I inform the House of the passing of my good friend and constituent, George Mejury. The funny thing is that we did not start off as friends. George, otherwise known by his Twitter handle of @TOareaFan, and I first met when he tweeted at me shortly after the 2015 election. George wanted me to know that he did not vote for me and that he was going to hold my feet to the fire to make sure I honoured my position and worked hard to deliver for our riding of Brampton North.
    George loved Brampton. We may not have always seen eye to eye, but we both loved our city. George taught me the value of political discourse and that sometimes the voices that challenge us the most become the ones that lift us up, support us and eventually vote for us too, not because we always agree but because we take the time to hear each other out.
    George was a proud Canadian who gave back to his community and was one of the biggest TFC fans I knew. He would have been so proud to see Canada's men's team qualify for the FIFA World Cup, especially because seven of the team's players are from the one and only Brampton.
    We will miss George.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, all eyes are on Canada for its ethical, essential energy, but today the NDP-Liberal government announced that it is turning its back on its allies in its plan.
    Over the past six years, the Liberals have been unable to meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. Worse still, emissions have actually increased. What are the Liberals proposing now? They are proposing even higher targets at the expense of Canada's economy and jobs.
    Yesterday, I met with the EU ambassador, and she made it very clear that Canada must play a greater role in making its natural resources available, especially given the war in Ukraine.
    How many billions of dollars will this plan cost Canadians, who are already grappling with historic rates of inflation?

  (1420)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the emissions reduction plan announced today is an ambitious achievable sector-by-sector road map for Canada to achieve its climate targets. Canadians have been clear. They want to see clean air, good jobs, a healthy environment and a strong economy. The emissions reduction plan outlines the practical next steps to continue delivering on these priorities from coast to coast to coast.

[Translation]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, I have been in this seat for quite a few weeks, and there is one thing people talk to me about a lot: the NDP-Liberal government's inability to answer any opposition questions whatsoever.
    Yesterday, I asked for measures to help mitigate the disastrous impact of inflation on grocery bills. Their answer was about the GDP. I also asked for scientific evidence pertaining to the vaccine mandate. I was offered all kinds of figures that had nothing to do with it. There are many examples of such responses to our questions.
    Today I would like to try asking a very simple question. Is inflation costing Canadians more, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, our government understands that the cost of living is a major concern for Canadian families.
    That is why we reduced income taxes for the middle class and raised them for the wealthiest 1%. That is why we created and indexed the Canada child benefit. A single mother of two can collect up to $13,666. Furthermore, all Canadians will have access to $10-a-day child care.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, here is another one. In three days, this NDP-Liberal government is going to raise taxes on Canadians. In three days, it will help to further increase inflation and the price of absolutely everything.
    This new democrat government loves three things: big spending, more taxes and endless deficits. The Conservatives are clear. We are against any form of tax increase that will hurt families.
    I am offering the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister another chance. Will he suspend the carbon tax to give Canadian families a bit of breathing room?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives keep pushing a false economic narrative.
    The reality is that Canada is resilient and our economy is recovering well from the COVID‑19 recession. Our GDP grew 6.5% in the fourth quarter, making us the second strongest economy in the G7. We have recovered 112% of the jobs lost because of the pandemic, compared to only 90% in the United States.

[English]

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, today the Liberals released their 2030 emissions reduction plan, which is their attempt to reduce emissions across the Canadian economy, but last week the PBO showed that the Liberals did not actually account for the cost of something simple, such as the carbon tax, across the Canadian economy.
    If they were that lazy and sloppy in their examination of the carbon tax, how can Canadians have any faith that a multi-sector approach will not be a disaster for Canadian jobs and pocketbooks?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that the majority of households will receive more in climate action rebates than they pay. That is eight out of 10 families. Like the Minister of Health
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, order.
    I will ask the parliamentary secretary to start again to answer the question.
    Mr. Speaker, as I was going to say, our friendly Minister of Health loves numbers and so do I, so let me quote a few for the hon. member.
    A family of four will receive up to $745 in Ontario in rebate. In my home province of Manitoba, that will be $830. In Saskatchewan and Alberta, it will be $1,100. We are fighting climate change and we are supporting affordability.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is not when the cost to the Canadian economy is factored in though, right? They cannot even do that simple math. Eight minus four is all they can do.
     Let us talk about some other Liberal math. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change said at committee that they have spent $60 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since 2016. Guess what. Emissions have gone up. If the Liberals are going to spend $60 billion to increase carbon emissions, how many trillions are they going to spend to ruin the financial security of Canadians with this plan?
    Mr. Speaker, we know that, if the Conservatives were in power, our emissions would be up 12%. We have flattened the curve. We know that pollution pricing works not only to reduce pollution but also to drive innovation and help the clean growth economy, which is exploding around the world. We know the world is headed to lower carbon energy. While the Conservatives are stuck in the past, we are looking to the future.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, 5,000 Ukrainian refugees are applying to come here every day.
     La Presse asked the minister about this, and his office replied that an upward trend has been noticed in recent days, without offering an explanation. Seriously? Ukraine has been at war for 34 days, and 5,000 people are asking for help every day. Where do we stand now? Canada has welcomed only 6,000 people, including its permanent residents, since the war began. This is a failure.
    When will the government charter flights to help these people?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect, the work that we have done over the last number of weeks has been extraordinary. We have now seen, since the beginning of the year, more than 12,000 Ukrainians arrive in Canada. They are here now.
    We have also introduced new programs just in the last couple of weeks that have seen tens of thousands of applications come into the system. We have seen people arrive as recently as yesterday in the province of Alberta. We are going to continue to work, not just to get people here, but also to make sure they are supported when they arrive. I look forward to continuing the spirit of collaboration I have enjoyed with the Bloc Québécois over the past number of weeks to welcome as many people as possible here as quickly as possible.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the number of refugees that have come to Canada since the war began is not 12,000; it is 6,000. The minister is wrong.
    Once again, Air Transat has stepped up, saying it was just waiting for a request from the government to help, as it did in Syria in 2015. Air Canada is also in discussions with the government. We do not understand why, on day 34, Canada is still not there for the women, children and seniors who are asking for help. Even the airlines want to contribute, and they are quicker to respond than the government.
    What is the government waiting for to take action?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, to a certain degree, the hon. member's argument is self-defeating. On the one hand, he says we are not working with the airlines, but he acknowledged in his question that we are having discussions with the airlines.
    We continue to work not just with the airlines but with members in Canada who want to make generous donations. There was a flight that arrived literally last night in Edmonton, Alberta, carrying Ukrainians who have fled to Canada. We are going to continue to do what we can, not just to get them here, but to also work with generous private donations such as this. We will also work on behalf of the federal government to facilitate the entry of as many people as possible to Canada as quickly as possible. A crisis like this demands we take action, and I am proud of what our government has done today.

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, the plan to reduce emissions proposed by the Liberal government today is quite disappointing. It does not include fossil fuel subsidy elimination. It does not include a clear plan for workers to know that they will have a good job today and for the future.
    It is a plan that continues to do the same thing, which is providing more money for fossil fuel sectors and a free pass. When will the Liberal government respond to the crisis of the climate crisis with the urgency that it deserves?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to emphasize that our government is advancing on many fronts to address oil and gas emissions. On top of the cap to reduce oil and gas emissions, we are implementing the clean fuel standard to accelerate the adoption of cleaner fuel. We are putting a price on carbon pollution through to 2030, and we are phasing out fossil fuel subsidies two years in advance. We are seized on the just transition.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the government's proposed emissions reduction plan is disappointing.
    This plan includes the same things we have seen in the past: more money for oil companies and a free pass. We are not seeing the elimination of the oil subsidies.
    When will the government understand that listening to oil companies is not going to solve the climate crisis?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, once again, our emissions reduction plan is our practical road map to fight climate change, create jobs and ensure that Canadians are global leaders in the transition to a clean economy.
    Let me cite some of the measures we are introducing. We are going to make it more affordable for Canadians to switch to electric vehicles, improve building codes, invest in greener buildings, build a greener electricity grid, and reduce oil and gas emissions. We are also going to support our farmers.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, last week, I was in Washington meeting with U.S. lawmakers, business leaders and other stakeholders, and I heard a blunt message from our U.S. friends. Canada has a reliability problem. I have been told that Canada cannot be counted on as a major supply chain partner.
    The government's public policy failure to combat supply chain shortages and other trade disruptions has inflation at a 30-year high. Canadians are hurting. What is the plan to improve the trading relationship with our number one trading partner? What is the plan?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member opposite and the plan is as follows: We will have continuous engagement with the U.S. administration at the highest levels. That means the Prime Minister and the Minister of International Trade.
    Second, we will have a team-Canada approach, which involves the member opposite who just asked the question. He was included in a recent trade mission with the Minister of International Trade.. We are taking a full and comprehensive non-partisan approach.
    Third, we will emphasize to all actors on both sides of the border that the economic interests at stake are both on this side of the 49th parallel and in the United States itself. Trade irritants hurt constituents of both of our countries, and we are determined to address this issue.

[Translation]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, young people cannot afford to buy a house and are being forced to camp out in their parents' basement. Seniors are having a hard time buying food and paying for their medications. Gas is now $1.85 a litre in my riding.
    Meanwhile, the Liberal government is signing agreements with the NDP, which also wants to spend recklessly.
    The government has done nothing for the past few months. Now it is drafting its budget. How much breathing room will it give Canadians?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is what we have done since coming into office. We have invested over $30 billion and re-established a federal leadership through the national housing strategy. We have proposed bringing forward a housing accelerator fund to turn more Canadian renters into homeowners. That is what we are doing.
    The party opposite has voted against every single measure I have mentioned. They have no plan and no credibility on the issue of affordable housing.

Consumer Protection

    Mr. Speaker, the United Kingdom implemented a properly structured grocery code of conduct after trying the Australian model and failing. U.K. consumers are now experiencing lower food costs at the grocery shelf because their supply chains operate more efficiently. Here the potential CP Rail strike triggered threats of fines from our retailers to our national food suppliers three weeks prior to even the strike having a deadline.
    The cost of living is skyrocketing here. Canadian families cannot afford to put food on their tables. When will the NDP-Liberal government implement a properly structured grocery code of conduct?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I can assure my colleagues that this is a very important element for us. We made it a priority at my last meeting with the provincial and territorial agriculture ministers.
    Minister Lamontagne in Quebec and I are co-chairing a committee and are expecting a report in the next few days.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, moving season is coming soon. My constituents are very worried and even discouraged because there is no housing available and housing is unaffordable. What is more, the cost of two-by-fours is skyrocketing, which contributes to the housing crisis.
    Prices are soaring everywhere, and I am not talking about groceries or gas. The government, however, claims that everything is fine.
    Let us ask Canadians whether everything is fine. They have lost confidence in their economy. When will the government make Canadians the top priority?

  (1435)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government has invested over $30 billion in affordable housing since coming into office. We re-established federal government leadership through the national housing strategy, but unfortunately the Conservatives have opposed virtually every affordable housing initiative that we have introduced, and it is getting worse.
     Maybe the hon. member needs to speak to the Conservative member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, who stood in the House and said that we should pull back from the national housing strategy. That is what the Conservatives believe, and Canadians can see that.
    Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Peterborough—Kawartha, 26-year-old Jonathan and his partner will soon be the proud first-time homeowners of an 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom bungalow with no garage for a screaming deal of $729,000, but wait: There is more. CMHC will take another $20,000, and they get to pay another $1,600 in taxes to CMHC.
    We have a housing crisis. People need homes they can afford. Why are we punishing first-time homebuyers and rewarding CMHC?
    Mr. Speaker, we agree on the importance of enabling more Canadians than ever before to access the dream of home ownership. That is why we introduced the first-time homebuyer incentive, but the Conservatives voted against it. As recently as last week, the Conservative member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry said that we should stop helping first-time homebuyers. Maybe she needs to talk the member.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order.
    The hon. member for Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte.
    Mr. Speaker, a February 2022 report by the Barrie and District Association of Realtors indicated that the average selling price of a home in Barrie was over $950,000. This is a 36% increase compared with the same time just one year ago. The report also stated that prices have risen 86% over the past two years in Barrie and the surrounding area. This astronomical increase in home prices has now made home ownership only a dream for most.
    Would the Prime Minister please tell Canadians what his government is planning to do to stop this rampant price increase in the housing market and make home ownership a reality again?
    Mr. Speaker, not only will I tell the hon. member what we have done, but I will also tell him what the Conservatives have done constantly to oppose measures to help Canadians, whether it is the first-time homebuyer incentive or the Canada housing benefit. We heard another member talk about rental supports.
    The Conservatives voted against the Canada housing benefit and, as recently as last week, a number of members on that side of the House called for us to pull back from the national housing strategy. They have called for no more help for first-time homebuyers. They have absolutely no credibility on this issue.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel is a failure that is slowing the arrival of Ukrainian refugees in Quebec and Canada. The government needs to arrange to airlift them out and deal with the paperwork once they are safely here. The government can enlist border services officers to help with that. They are trained in immigration and can help collect the biometric data, and I think they would be very proud to contribute to this effort.
    Will the government airlift people out and ask border services officers to help families with the administrative details?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the concern that he has demonstrated in recent months for the people of Ukraine and for his willingness to help the government design measures that are actually going to advance the arrival of Ukrainians.
     I would point out, with respect to the situation involving biometrics on the ground, that we actually are opening a second visa application centre in Warsaw. We have sent more teams, who arrived yesterday, and we are going to continue to boost that capacity. I should also point out that for certain low-risk cohorts, certain individuals will no longer be required to have biometrics so that we can facilitate the entry of more people into Canada as quickly as possible.
    Regarding the airlift, we continue to have conversations with airlines to arrange to get as many people here as quickly as possible. I look forward to continuing to co-operate with the member in this pursuit.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough for us, and it is not good enough for Ukrainians. This is day 34 of the war, and we cannot spend any more time getting bogged down in the paperwork. Border services officers can deal with that once Ukrainian families are here. They are already trained, they are in place, and they are already working in airports. They even have prior experience because they handled all the Syrian refugees' biometric data in 2015.
    Now that we are at day 34, will the minister acknowledge the urgency and ask border services officers for help now?

  (1440)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect, the member drew an analogy to the situation in Syria where we intervened, after the 2015 election, three years into a conflict.
    The member mentioned it is day 34 of the conflict in Ukraine. Let me tell him some of the things we have done. We have extended the ability of people who are already in Canada to stay. We have waived fees for applications through IRCC. We have expedited applications in the system of almost 12,000 people who have arrived since the beginning of the year. We sent teams and equipment into the region before the conflict, and more arrived yesterday. We created a new, expedited pathway and attached an open work permit so people could support themselves.
    Yesterday, we advanced settlement supports. We removed the biometrics for certain individuals in low-risk cohorts. We are going to continue to do more, as much as we can, as quickly as we can.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are the only ones saying that this is going well. At some point, a reality check is needed.
    The government is failing. It does not currently have the resources in eastern Europe to look after refugees from Ukraine. However, it does have the resources here, with border services officers supporting the immigration department. There are probably even some employees working from home who would be honoured to get back out there and help.
    The government has a duty to turn its failure into success. First, will it charter flights to go and pick up families? Second, will it mobilize border services officers to look after these families once they get here?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect, the member suggested the only people who were saying it was going well are Liberals. I would invite him to speak to one of the 12,000 people from Ukraine who have arrived in Canada since the beginning of this year.
    We have been leveraging resources not only internal to our department, but from other departments since the very beginning of this effort. I would point out to the member that, if he thinks there is not capacity on the ground, just yesterday more staff arrived in Warsaw, Vienna, Bucharest, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava.
    We are going to continue to send resources where we see the people moving. That is the best and most responsible way to act. We are going to do everything we can to help as many vulnerable people as possible who are fleeing these circumstances today.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal government's planned carbon tax increases on Friday will have a dramatic impact across the country. We know the carbon tax has significant and disproportional negative impacts on prices for the poor, and everything continues to rise. Businesses in my riding have indicated that increased carbon taxes will lower their profits, undermine competitiveness and limit investment.
     When will the coalition government give Canadians a break and cancel its planned carbon tax increase?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, I want to thank the Parliamentary Budget Officer for his work in pointing out that the price on pollution is progressive and gives eight out of 10 families more in climate action rebates than they pay in.
    Putting a price on carbon pollution is recognized as one of the most efficient ways to drive down pollution. Again, let me point out that the Conservative member for New Brunswick Southwest is on the record as saying that his province should go back to using the federal carbon price. I agree with that member.
    Mr. Speaker, my Conservative colleague for Huron-Bruce introduced a bill that would remove the Liberal carbon tax from grain drying and heating.
    At a time when global food security is so important, the government continues to restrict our agriculture industry. This bill would have passed in the last Parliament if the Liberals had not called an unnecessary election.
    Will the government help to support Canadian farm families by supporting Bill C-234?
    Mr. Speaker, no later than this morning, the Minister of Environment announced a significant increase to our program to support agricultural clean technology. We have tripled the budget as promised. This would support our farmers very significantly in affording energy-efficient technologies, including grain dryers.
    Mr. Speaker, recently at committee, the Commissioner of the Environment revealed that there is no metric in place to measure how much Canada’s carbon footprint has been reduced as a result of the carbon tax.
     This is the core policy of the NDP–Liberal government’s environmental plan. We have no way to know if it is even working after over a decade of it being in use in some parts of our country. What we do know is that this tax is ineffective and punitive, and that it disproportionately affects seniors, farmers, producers and those living in rural communities and small towns.
     When will the Prime Minister abandon this failed policy and get off the backs of hard-working Canadians?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, we know that pollution pricing works not only to reduce pollution, but also to drive innovation and to help create the clean growth economy that is exploding around the world. This means billions of dollars in economic development, and the good jobs of today and tomorrow. We know where the world is headed, which is to a low-carbon economy. I would say, once again, that Conservatives are stuck in the past and we are looking to the future.
    Mr. Speaker, the last thing Canadians can afford right now is anything that will make life less affordable, yet the Liberal government wants to raise the carbon tax by $10 a tonne on April 1. Not only will this cost Canadians an extra 11¢ a litre at the pumps, but it will also have an inflationary impact on the cost of living by raising the prices of groceries, energy bills and everything else.
    How can the government justify its high-tax, high-deficit agenda when Canadians across the country are already struggling to make ends meet?
    Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member did not hear me when I cited some numbers from the various provinces a little earlier. This year, a family of four in Ontario will receive up to $745 in rebates. It will be $830 in my home province of Manitoba, and $1,100 in Saskatchewan and Alberta. We are fighting climate change and we are promoting affordability.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, millions of Ukrainians continue to flee violence in their country. The majority are women, children and seniors. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress says, “There are virtually no federal supports for Ukrainians”. The government must do everything it can to get Ukrainians and other displaced people to safety and help them settle in Canada by ensuring access to supports such as language training, employment assistance, child care, health care, housing and more.
    Will the minister guarantee that these vulnerable people get resettlement supports, no matter where they are in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question, but more importantly, for her sincere concern for the well-being of those who fled Ukraine to come to Canada.
    I am very pleased to share with her that yesterday we announced that we would be extending settlement supports to Ukrainians who have landed in Canada, including employment assistance, language training and other measures that we make available directly to refugees who come to Canada. We continue to work with provinces and territories to see what more we can do to support people when they get here. It is not enough that they arrive. They have to be set up for success once they get to Canada.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, last week, I asked the minister when he would provide timelines, targets and funding to respond to the calls for justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The response was “reconciliation is a journey, not a destination”. What a gross, callous and cold response to this ongoing genocide. Families and survivors of violence are suffering. This is not a journey. This requires urgency.
    When will the government put in place timelines and the resources needed to save lives?
    Mr. Speaker, as a society, none of us should pretend there is any form of success until every woman, child and LGBTQ person in this country is safe, and if that is a measure of success, we are failing.
    The reality is that in this year, the ministry of Crown-Indigenous Relations announced the federal pathway. That was only the beginning, and it was coupled with $2.2 billion of investments. We are coming up on the first anniversary, and we will be looking to measure those, as opposed to the outcomes for the survivors and those who continue to face unacceptable levels of violence. As a society, we have to keep fighting against that and keep fighting for those people who are still vulnerable today.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, the challenges Canada has faced over these past years have been numerous, and we have seen that Canadians and Canadian businesses have met them head-on and succeeded. The upcoming federal budget will showcase our government's plan to support Canadians and to grow our economy.
    Can the Minister of Finance inform Canadians and the House when they can expect federal budget 2022 to be presented?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government was re-elected on a commitment to grow our economy, to make life more affordable and to continue building a Canada where nobody gets left behind. That is exactly what we are doing, and that is what we are going to continue to do in the budget that I will present to the House on April 7, 2022, at 4 p.m.

The Budget

Designation of Order of the Day  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 83(2), I ask that an order of the day be designated for that purpose.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, we have asked the NDP-Liberal coalition government to give Canadians hope by outlining the benchmarks used to end federal mandates. Some Canadians, such as Carolyn, are being treated as second-class citizens, unable to work or travel domestically. This issue has failed to receive an answer, both at the committee level and here in the House of Commons.
    When is the NDP-Liberal government going to stop disrespecting the institution of Parliament and give Canadians the plan they so rightly deserve?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for giving me one more opportunity to speak about the importance of vaccination. Just this morning, we were informed of a recent U.S. study that showed that, between June and November 2021, had there been more vaccinated Americans, they would have saved about $14 billion in the cost of hospitalization and 700,000 would not have ended up in the hospital. This would mean many lives saved and cared for.
    Mr. Speaker, when lifting COVID mandates in my home province of Saskatchewan, Premier Moe said the following: “It's time to heal the divisions.” Premier Moe recognizes something the Prime Minister simply cannot, that a leader must unite Canadians. Instead the Prime Minister is using every opportunity to divide Canadians based on vaccination status. Dr. Tam has stated that the science supports a review of federal COVID mandates and restrictions.
    Since the government claims to listen to science, why is it not immediately announcing a plan to lift all federal COVID mandates and restrictions?
    Mr. Speaker, the reason we are able to lift restrictions is that we have a large number of people here in Canada who have been vaccinated. I just spoke a moment ago about the recent U.S. study. What I did not mention is that in that study 163,000 deaths would have been averted between June and November last year in the United States, had there been more vaccinated Americans during that period.
    Mr. Speaker, “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.” Those are not my words; that is the charter. Vaccine mandates have prevented Canadians from travelling within Canada and outside of Canada. We are also experiencing closures at the borders in my riding that are obstructing essential businesses from operating. A return to regular hours is not asking for too much. Nobody is winning with this current set-up.
    When will the government end the mandates and fix the mess at the border?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we are very grateful to the almost 30 million Canadians who got vaccinated. That is the reason we were able to avoid the closing of schools and the shutting down of businesses, restaurants, theatres and cinemas. That is the reason we will be able, on April 1, to make it easier for people to travel into Canada by changing the prearrival testing rules. This is all very good news, and it is due to the benefits we have from vaccinations.
    Mr. Speaker, while the provinces have all signalled an end to their vaccine mandates, the Liberals are continuing to punish Canadians who are not vaccinated. Unvaccinated Canadian citizens cannot get on an airplane to fly inside of their own country to attend weddings and funerals or visit ailing relatives. They are unable to travel for work, which impacts their ability to provide for their families. The science does not support this continued discrimination.
    When will the Prime Minister finally follow the science and end his cruel and vindictive vaccine mandates once and for all?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, “cruel” is indeed the right word when we speak about the impacts of COVID-19 on our families, our children, our seniors, our economy, our workers and our businesses over the last two years. It has been extremely harsh and cruel. The reason we are able to make life more normal now is that we are continuing the fight against COVID. Living with COVID means continuing the fight against COVID. We cannot live without COVID. We have to live with it and continue the fight against it.

[Translation]

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, we are learning a lot today from the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report on the Canada Revenue Agency's performance.
    One of the things we have learned is that, in a comparison of more than 150 tax administrations around the world, the Canada Revenue Agency ranks second to last in terms of its collection ratio. This means that the CRA, whose job it is to go after the money that is owed in taxes to fund services to citizens, is missing out on or walking away from more money than just about any other jurisdiction on the planet.
    Does the Minister of National Revenue have a plan to lift the CRA from the bottom of the world rankings, or is she going to wait around and hope that things magically get better?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Parliamentary Budget Officer for his important work.
     Our government has invested heavily in the CRA's ability to ensure international and large businesses compliance. As noted in the Parliamentary Budget Officer's report, the CRA has improved its large business tax compliance performance since 2018. This is good news. Our investments in the CRA will continue to pay off for years to come.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is pleased to come second-last. This is a real fiasco, just like Phoenix, welcoming Ukrainian refugees, border management during the pandemic, and the indigenous communities waiting for clean drinking water. Same government, same fiasco.
    We often talk about areas of responsibility, but when it comes to the federal government and Revenue Canada, would “irresponsibility” not be more apt?
    Mr. Speaker, contrary to what my colleague across the way said, I can tell the House that for the past two years, the Canada Revenue Agency has been there to support Canadians, businesses, families and seniors. Unlike the members across the way, we are doers, not complainers.

[English]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, Tetiana is a Ukrainian who worked with the Canadian Forces as an interpreter before the Russian invasion. After she left Ukraine for Poland, she applied for the emergency travel. She tried to get an appointment for biometrics on March 21, but all the spots were full in many neighbouring countries until July 2022. That would be over four months since she applied, and Tetiana is not alone.
    When will the government finally honour our adopted motion, get Ukrainians out of this never-ending Liberal-made backlog and implement visa-free travel?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raised two issues in his question, one on the requirement to complete biometrics to get here and the other on the execution on the ground.
    I would like all members of the House to know that, as of yesterday, certain individuals in low-risk cohorts will no longer be required to have biometrics before they are permitted to enter into Canada. In addition, we are putting more resources on the ground, including opening a second visa application office in Warsaw. Another team of people arrived yesterday in Warsaw.
    We are moving the resources, as we have since the beginning of this effort, to where people are moving to so that we are in a position to respond as quickly and as nimbly as possible. We will continue to do that until we get as many people here as we possibly can.
    Mr. Speaker, the House will vote today on a Conservative motion to allow visa-free travel for Ukrainians who are fleeing Putin's war crimes. Visa-free travel is the compassionate thing and the right thing to do. Opening the door to visa-free travel should be simple and efficient, yet the government keeps making different excuses.
    If this motion passes, will the government respect the will of Parliament?

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, in my view, it is essential, when we move forward with a plan to literally process an unlimited number of applications from a war zone, that we have to have some semblance of security screening, particularly when we know there are high-risk travellers who could potentially be eligible.
    As I shared just a moment ago, certain individuals in the low-risk cohorts, as of yesterday, are no longer required to complete the biometric process. We are using a database and evidence-based approach to ensure that we can get people here as quickly as possible with as few barriers as possible. We will continue to do the right thing and to do the compassionate thing and bring Canadians along with us the whole way.
    Mr. Speaker, Olena, a constituent in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, is trying to help her sister in Krakow, Poland, who is a refugee from Ukraine. Her sister received a visa requirement biometric instruction letter to go to Warsaw for biometrics. This is a 600-kilometre return trip. Her sister has no way to get there and back, and she was told if she leaves the hotel in Krakow, she cannot return to it. What is she supposed to do?
    Will the Prime Minister have compassion and remove the Ukrainian refugee visa requirements so that Olena and many others can help their family members in Ukraine and bring them to safety in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I would remind members of the House that, when we made the decision to create an authorization for emergency travel, the primary motivation at the time was that it allowed us to set up a system in a matter of just two weeks. We have done that. We have now seen tens of thousands of people apply. Had we gone with the creation of a new system through an electronic travel authorization, which is what we do when we have visa-free travel, it would have taken 12 to 14 weeks, and we would not be taking applications yet today.
    I shared earlier during question period that certain individuals from low-risk cohorts will no longer be required to comply with a biometrics requirement. We are using an evidence-based approach to make sure we remove as many barriers as possible to get people to Canada quickly.

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have faced many complex challenges in recent years, and Canadians and Canadian businesses have overcome these challenges with perseverance and tenacity.
    The upcoming federal budget will present our government's plan to support Canadians and stimulate our economy. Could the Minister of Finance tell Canadians and the House when budget 2022 will be presented?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question.
    Our government was re-elected on a promise to grow our economy, make life more affordable and continue to build a Canada for everyone. That is exactly what we are doing and what we will continue to do in the budget that I will present in the House on April 7, 2022, at 4 p.m.

[English]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, last summer, I met with the Popal family, who own the Shawarma House and Pizza in Cobourg. The Popals have family members from Afghanistan who are in fear for their lives. Before the Taliban took over, they were women’s rights defenders, they were activists for democracy, and they were fighting the Taliban in the Afghan army. However, at every twist and every turn, my team has been met with roadblocks and rejection.
    When will the minister finally show some compassion, some heart, and allow our friends from Afghanistan, our allies who have done so much for us, to have safe harbour here in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his advocacy for the well-being of Afghans who are fleeing horrifying circumstances on the ground and who seek refuge here in Canada.
    I am pleased to share with the House that we now have more than 9,500 Afghan refugees who are already in Canada pursuing a second lease on life. When I was in western Canada just last week, I had the opportunity to sit down across the table from some of our new arrivals, and they are grateful for the generosity of Canada.
    I will continue to work every single day to make sure we remove as many barriers as possible so we can get more Afghan refugees here. We made one of the most substantial commitments in the world to have 40,000 Afghan refugees, and we will not rest until we make good on that promise.

[Translation]

Telecommunications

    Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago I asked the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the Minister of Rural Economic Development a question about the lack of cell coverage in my riding and in other rural parts of Canada.
    In her answer, the Minister of Rural Economic Development talked about high-speed Internet, which is not what my question was about. I would like to give the minister another opportunity to respond. It is 2022. What is the government doing to improve cell coverage in rural Canada?

  (1505)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague knows, the universal broadband fund is just that: connecting Canadians with high-speed Internet. I can advise the hon. member that we are well under way to meeting our targets of connecting 98% of Canada by 2026.
    There are funds available under the CRTC and other programs for cell coverage, but right now we are focused on connecting Canada. We have a plan to connect all of Canada by 2030, and that plan is working. We have agreements in place with Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and British Columbia. We are well under way.
    Mr. Speaker, the Hanson Lake road in northeastern Saskatchewan is a 324-kilometre stretch of highway connecting Creighton, Denare Beach, Flin Flon and many first nations to the rest of the province. Unfortunately, there is no cell or broadband service. Not only is this extremely dangerous, but it restricts the much-needed economic growth opportunities in the region. I have written and talked to the minister on several occasions with no response.
    When will the government approve Saskatchewan’s application to the CRTC and give these communities what they need for both safety and success?
    Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks ago I was in British Columbia and was humbled by the presentation and overview I had on the Highway of Tears, where the federal government, the provincial government and the Internet service provider have connected that terrible section of the highway in British Columbia. That is what happens when partnerships happen. That is the result when people work together, when communities, provinces, territories, indigenous groups and municipalities work together.
    I encourage my hon. colleague to get his province to come to the table with us. As I said earlier, we have commitments now, memorandums of understanding with Ontario, B.C.—
    The hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt.

Child Care

    Mr. Speaker, for months Ontarians have been eagerly awaiting an update on the status of negotiations between provincial and federal governments on a child care agreement. This has been a significant issue for people in my riding of Scarborough—Agincourt because we know Ontario families have been paying some of the highest fees in the country.
    Could the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development please update the House on yesterday's announcement and what it will mean for families in Scarborough and across Ontario?
    Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to announce in the House that today in Canada families from coast to coast to coast will have access to affordable, quality child care. Although we have been negotiating with Ontario for months, it finally joined the Canada-wide early learning and child care agreement. This means that families in Ontario will have access to reduced fees, with a 25% reduction as of April 1. This is great news for families in Ontario.

[Translation]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Federal Court of Appeal handed down a ruling. The government cannot just abandon its responsibilities by offloading the provision of services in French onto the provinces.
    While francophones in British Columbia and across Canada were rejoicing, the federal government was preparing a nasty surprise for them: The case will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. That is unacceptable.
    When will the government acknowledge its mistakes and restore services in French for British Columbia's francophones?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of francophone and anglophone minority communities in Canada.
    In this case, we asked for a stay of the Federal Court of Appeal's decision because we are concerned about the serious consequences that terminating agreements could have in British Columbia and across Canada.
    The stay was not granted. The deadline for giving notice of termination is today. Under the circumstances, we will not be applying for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

  (1510)  

[English]

COVID-19 Protests

    Mr. Speaker, when Ottawa was shut down and Windsor suffered an illegal blockade, Windsor's response became a model on how to deal with the crisis, despite the economic damages reaching into the billions.
    For months I have joined residents, doctors, retailers, manufacturers, first responders and the city in asking for fair compensation for doing the right thing. COVID has burdened border communities, and the current government's lack of border policies created confusion and disruption. Ottawa and its businesses are being compensated. Will the government treat Windsor equally by covering the costs we incurred doing our part during this convoy crisis for our country?
    Mr. Speaker, I begin by thanking my hon. colleague for his advocacy. Throughout the blockades we remained in close contact, along with my colleague, the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.
     I also want to take a moment to thank law enforcement for doing an exceptional job in bringing a peaceful resolution to the blockades on the Ambassador Bridge. I and other colleagues within the government will remain in touch with my colleague to ensure that Windsor recovers fully from any impacts, and I know this is work that will continue going forward.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
    Today, during oral question period, the Minister of Health, probably unintentionally, forgot to provide the House with the information about vaccine mandates that he had promised me.
    If you seek it, I am certain you would find unanimous consent of the House to have him table these documents.
    A minister does not require the approval of the House to table documents. It is up to him to do so.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Committees of the House

Citizenship and Immigration  

    It being 3:12, pursuant to order made on Thursday, November 25, 2021, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the third report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
    Call in the members.

  (1525)  

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

(Division No. 50)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 175


NAYS

Members

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

Total: -- 154


PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

Unparliamentary Language

    The Chair would like to make a statement regarding the recent use of certain language that may be deemed inflammatory.

[Translation]

     Members are regularly reminded of the importance of conducting themselves in a civil manner. While views can be expressed forcefully and even passionately, they must remain focussed on the subject matter at hand. Members must always be mindful of avoiding statements that attack or demean the character of other members.
    We are all here as elected representatives and each of us is entitled to respect. Personal inflammatory language has no place in our debates.

[English]

    It is also true that, as parliamentarians, we possess an exceptional degree of freedom of speech. As Speaker Milliken observed in a ruling of April 17, 2007, members must “use their freedom of speech in a responsible fashion and...exercise moderation in their choice of language.”
    The use of inflammatory and provocative statements is contrary to the respect owed to all members. Accordingly, the Chair reminds members to be mindful of the language they use in debate, with respect to their colleagues, in order to maintain proper civility and respect in our proceedings.
    I thank the members for their attention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division, Government Orders will be extended by 12 minutes.

Online Streaming Act

    The House resumed 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, I will be splitting my time with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
    History seems to be repeating itself. Canadians will recall, but here we are again. Having debated Bill C-10 last spring, we are now debating its replacement, Bill C-11. The new heritage minister will try to tell Canadians that he has fixed the problems that existed in the former legislation. However, this is an extremely misleading statement.
    My time is short, so I am going to cut to the chase. The government claims that the bill is about support for Canadian culture and levelling the playing field. I would like to see Canadian culture promoted and celebrated, so let us explore that for a moment.
    I have two questions. First, is the bill about meeting Canadians where they are at in the 21st century and celebrating the amazing work being done by digital first creators to produce Canadian content and enhance culture in their very own unique way, or is the bill about the government imposing its definition of Canadian content in order to fulfill a government-driven agenda? Second, will the bill truly level the playing field, or will it be used as a cash grab in which those who have worked hard to expand their viewership and generate revenue are forced to subsidize the traditional media industry, which is producing content for which there is little to no demand? I realize that these questions make the government uncomfortable, but they must be asked in order to understand this legislation.
    My grandparents were not required to subsidize horse and buggies when cars became an alternative. Society moved forward in an innovative way, because it just made sense.
    In effect, Bill C-11 would put in place an Internet czar, the CRTC, which will govern how easily creators, those who post, are able to make their content accessible online to those of us who view it. In other words, it would impact what Canadians can and cannot access. It would be an act of censorship.
    The Internet is a vast, infinite and magical space where all Canadians, no matter their background, are able to post and engage. In the new public square where we engage with one another, we do it through writing, audio and visual arts. For many Canadians, socializing online is the new norm. If passed, Bill C-11 will thwart our freedom in this new space.
    Again, the minister will try to tell us that all the problems have been fixed. He will point to convoluted parts of the bill in order to try to prove his point, but here is the thing: If the minister is telling the truth and has nothing to hide, why is the bill not crystal clear? Why is the Liberal government choosing to use muddy language by placing exceptions within exceptions in order to confuse people?
    There are many flaws in Bill C-11, but I will focus on three of them today: the first is the overabundance of power that it would place in the hands of the CRTC, otherwise known as the “Internet czar”; the second is its negative impact on creators; and the third is how it negatively impacts viewers.
    If passed, the bill will give the Internet czar, the CRTC, almost unlimited power in order to regulate the Internet. Talk about an attack on freedom. The CRTC could have been given very specific, very narrow guidelines, but the government chose to give it free rein to amend, to exempt, to include. The Liberals claim that bringing more government intervention, and this is an interesting one, will boost Canadian culture, but that is not true. I mean, tell me a time in history where more red tape and regulation has increased innovation, incentivized artistic creation and brought about prosperity? Members cannot, because it does not, ever.
    Let us talk about creators. One of the biggest complaints that we heard from digital first creators last time was that the bill would regulate their content online. Members can think of TikTok, Snapchat, Twitch, podcasts, YouTube and, yes, even cat videos. Now, the minister will claim once again that he fixed it by adding section 4.1(1) back into the bill, but the problem is that section 4.1(1) is immediately followed by subsection 4.1(2), which creates exceptions that nullify 4.1(1). It is pretzel logic. It is confusing and purposefully muddy.
    Michael Geist is a law professor at the University of Ottawa where he holds the Canada research chair in Internet and e-commerce law. He seems qualified. He has pointed out that, under the act, digital first creators can be described as broadcasters and therefore forced to comply with the CRTC regulations.

  (1530)  

    In other words, essentially any audiovisual material could be brought under the scope of this bill, not just large streaming platforms, but even individuals who use music. The member opposite actually even clarified this earlier in her own speech.
    This means that TikTok videos, which essentially always use music, and YouTube videos, which mostly use music, will in fact be captured under this legislation. This means creators, right off the top of their revenue, will have to pay 30% into an art fund. They have to pay in, but they do not get to pull out.
    It also means that the content of digital first creators will be assessed based on how Canadian it is. The CRTC, the Internet czar, will of course make the conclusion. That material will then be promoted or demoted accordingly. The minister will try to tell Canadians that what I am saying is not true, that only big companies, such as Netflix and Disney, will be caught by this legislation, but if that is the case, I would again ask the government to clarify that and to say it outright. It does not. The bill does not. It is purposefully muddy.
    Let me talk about the negative impact that the bill will have on viewers, members, me and Canadians. Imagine going on YouTube to look for videos on Black voices but being shown instead a bunch of videos on hockey in Canada, having never searched for hockey before, and all of a sudden those are the videos that are being fed to you. That would be extremely frustrating.
    What we are talking about here is discoverability. It is the use of algorithms to make some content accessible and other content not. It bumps it up or down. Sometimes it can be found on page 1. Sometimes it is found on page 53. Currently YouTube carries material based on a person's individual preference. It bumps it to the top of the page if a person likes it, if maybe they have watched similar videos in the past.
    This legislation would force content, so-called Canadian content, in front of the eyeballs of Canadians at the expense of showing them the content they actually really want. It totally disrespects and disregards Canadians' freedom, choice and desire to watch certain things over others, all because the government has an agenda.
    Canadians know what they like. They know what they want to watch. That desire, that free will, should be respected. I have not even addressed the problem with the definition of CanCon, which is absolutely ludicrous. Let us talk about that for a moment. CanCon, or Canadian content, is that content that the government would actually be putting at the top of the page.
    A bilingual Canadian sitting in his Montreal condo producing YouTube videos about maple syrup and hockey, all while using the Canadian national anthem in the background of his video, would still not get counted as Canadian content. Can members imagine that? In fact, based on the definition of CanCon, the only ones who will receive the government's stamp of approval are members of the traditional media.
    The CRTC will define who is in and who is out, who gets noticed and who does not, who gets to be on page one and who has to get bumped to page 53. An individual's preferences are inconsequential, and the government would now decide.
    In Canada, we are punching above our weight in what creators are able to produce. It is absolutely jaw-dropping. They literally share their talent with the world. It is incredible. Lilly Singh, a famous YouTuber, has pointed out, “creators who have built their careers on the Internet need to be consulted on these decisions.” She went on to say, “In trying to do what seems like a good thing - highlighting great Canadian-made content - you can unintentionally destroy a thriving creative ecosystem.”
    Morghan Fortier of Skyship Entertainment is so eloquent when he put it this way, “In Canada, digital content creators have built a successful thriving industry on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok and others that export a huge amount of Canadian content to the rest of the world.... They've done this through their entrepreneurial spirit, their hard work and largely without government interference or assistance.
    “This achievement should be supported, celebrated and encouraged.”
    Bill C-11 is presented as a means to support the future of the broadcast industry, but it completely ignores the global reach of Canada's digital success stories in favour of an antiquated regionalized broadcast model.
    Bill C-11 is a direct attack on digital first creators. It is a direct attack on our choice as viewers. It is actually a direct attack on the advancement of arts and culture in Canada in the 21st century. The bill needs to die 1,000 deaths.

  (1535)  

    Madam Speaker, I have an example in which this precise measure made a huge difference. These were the Canadian content regulations that applied to radio, starting in the early seventies. The Canadian music industry was nowhere back then, but as a broadcaster I was required to play 30% Canadian content. In the beginning, it was horrible, but in no time we had an amazing amount of great Canadian content. I do not think we need those measures anymore because the content is there. It is good.
    Would she not agree that this is a perfect example of a measure that actually led to a very strong, well-respected worldwide industry?

  (1540)  

    Madam Speaker, I love the question. It is such a good question, and Canadians are really going to appreciate it as well. The Broadcasting Act in the 1970s was created in order to regulate television and radio because there was a limited sphere available. In other words, there were only a certain number of radio channels. Rather than give them all to Canadian English media, they also wanted to make sure that some were given to French media. That seems appropriate, because we are a bilingual country. When we are dealing with a finite resource in order to spread it around, absolutely that is appropriate.
    However, we are now talking about the Internet: this vast, magical, infinite space where any Canadian from any background with any language, any religion and any ethnicity can create a site, post on YouTube and have a TikTok account. Why is the government regulating them?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to know whether my colleague feels the same way she did when we were studying the previous version of this bill, which she said was designed to help artists that are stuck in the early 1990s because they have not managed to be competitive on new platforms.
     I have already mentioned this here, but two days ago, Patrice Vermette, a Quebecker from my riding, won an Oscar for production design for his work on Dune. Denis Villeneuve directed the film, which won six Oscars. There is also Xavier Dolan, a Quebecker who is at Cannes almost every year. The Cirque du Soleil is from Quebec.
    There are thousands of artists who represent Canada and Quebec and captivate audiences all over the world. These are the people that Bill C‑11 is designed to protect.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, there is no doubt that there are amazing artists in this country. Of course there are. We are Canadian. We have 37 million incredible people who call this place home. Of course there is extraordinary talent.
    Of course there are artists across this country who deserve to be celebrated and deserve to be promoted, but that does not mean that the government intervenes. It does not mean that the government gets to pick winners and losers. It does not mean that the government gets to go after those individuals who are using non-traditional platforms in order to achieve great success and take money from them and demote their content in order to give that money to traditional broadcasters and traditional artists and promote those artists at the expense of the digital-first creators.
    This is nonsense. Instead, yes: We should be celebrating the amazing artists that are coming out of this country in every facet, whether it is through traditional broadcasting systems or through digital-first creation. Yes, let us celebrate them, but what I am saying today is that the government does not need to get its sticky, grimy hands on this.
    Madam Speaker, I would ask my colleague about the web giants that have been using every possible loophole to circumvent our tax rules. They have tried to escape the funding for Canadian cultural content and discoverability.
    Would she not agree that it is time for the institution of Parliament, representing the Canadian people, to try to close those loopholes and ensure that there is a level playing field for the hard-working men and women who work in our cultural industries in this country?
    Madam Speaker, when the hon. member brings up web giants and the need to make sure they pay their fair share, that is incredibly misleading. That was actually already addressed last summer. They now have to pay GST. Make no mistake: that is not a part of this legislation. What is a part of this legislation is actually going after those digital-first creators, those new innovative artists, and asking to take 30% of their revenue to give to traditional, antiquated, outdated artists who cannot make a go of it otherwise.
    Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise on behalf of the constituents of the beautiful riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke who value freedom and diversity of thought.
    Recently, there has been an outbreak of diversity of thought among my Liberal colleagues. I know that can be scary for some of them. To reassure them, I will heed the call to unity and try to lower the temperature on this very important debate about Bill C-11, which is the online streaming act.
    This may disappoint my biggest fan, the member for Winnipeg North, but he will be delighted to learn that I have saved a special section just for him. When a similar bill was first introduced last Parliament, I went on my Facebook Live show, The GNN, and described it as a serious threat to freedom of expression. I stood in the House and described it as a serious threat to freedom of expression.
    The media, to be fair, and much of the public shrugged off these concerns. As outlined in my first speech, this bill would have little effect on popular mainstream expression, other than to make it more expensive. The threat to freedom of expression with this bill comes from the impact it would have on smaller, less popular minority expressions. It was only when the government members of the committee, in a coalition with the NDP and the Bloc, removed the legislated safeguards on user-generated content that everyone online became aware of the threat this legislation posed.
    Fundamentally, Canadians understand that if the government has the power to regulate, promote or demote their online expression, then that expression is no longer free.
    My Liberal colleagues will raise a hue and cry, and claim the Prime Minister does not want to censor Canadians' cat videos. That is true. The Prime Minister does not want to censor cat videos; he wants to tax them. The Prime Minister wants to tax Canadian and foreign artists not covered by the current Broadcasting Act. He wants to tax them and give that money to the powerful media and cultural lobbies. Of course, arts groups that profit off this bill support it. It is the artists who do not have a powerful lobby organization who pay this new CanCon levy.
    This legislation proposes to take money from digital artists and redistribute it to the government's preferred analog artists. This is just as the government takes income tax dollars from new media journalists and gives them back to the horse-and-buggy media.
    The government really wants to tax Netflix, but does not say it wants to tax Netflix. In order to pull off this tax without saying “tax policy”, the government is changing the very meaning of broadcasting. This takes us to the heart of the problem. The Broadcasting Act, by its very nature, places restrictions on Canadians' right to freedom of expression.
    I want to repeat this in order to be absolutely clear. The Broadcasting Act is designed to limit and regulate freedom of expression. The reason it has not been struck down for violating the charter is because those limits are reasonable.
    My constituents know I will defend their freedom no matter what, but they understand there can be reasonable limits. The Broadcasting Act is an example of this. It places limits on Canadians' freedom to broadcast their expression. The reason for this is the technology. If all Canadians with electricity and an antenna were able to broadcast their individual expression on whichever electromagnetic frequency they chose, everyone would cancel one another out and no one would be heard.
    By the nature of the technology, the freedom of one person to use a particular frequency impacts the freedom of everybody else to use that frequency. Broadcasting technology, by its nature, requires broadcasting regulation. Without broadcasting technology using limited public air waves, the federal government has no legal right to regulate the content that carries expression from Canadians or to Canadians.
    Our predecessors knew that having control of Canadians' expression over public airwaves was something best kept at arm's length from cabinet, so they set up the CRTC. The Broadcasting Act regulates expression. It is baked into the legislation. It is what the CRTC does. Streaming is not broadcasting. The freedom of one Canadian to stream content does not limit the freedom of any other Canadian to stream other content.
    As we much appreciate Canadian authors and Canadian painters, we do not legislate the content of book stores or art galleries to promote their expression over foreign expression. It is not because a foreign author or painter has freedom of expression, but it is because Canadians do.

  (1545)  

    We cannot pass legislation that limits or restricts Canadians' access to artistic expression. We cannot pass legislation to regulate any expression that does not infringe on the rights of other Canadians' expression. If the House proceeds with this fundamentally flawed legislation, it will be infringing on the rights of Canadians. Most Canadians will not notice the infringement beyond paying higher streaming bills. Netflix and Disney can afford to hire Canadian lawyers and lobbyists and have lunch with the chair of the CRTC. They will be fine.
    Majority expression in a democracy is rarely threatened. It is the minority expression that suffers. For example, what about the foreign-language streaming services? Take the streaming service TFC, which is based in the Philippines. It streams thousands of movies and televisions show in Tagalog, and TFC accepts Canadian credit cards. The riding of Winnipeg North has 20,000 people who speak Tagalog at home. The member for Winnipeg North may want to be absolutely certain this legislation will not cause the TFC to block the Canadian Internet from accessing its service. TFC may have no choice.
    Under this legislation, TFC would need to either produce Tagalog-language movies and shows in Canada or pay into a fund to support English, French or indigenous movies and shows. Netflix is already producing movies and shows here. Netflix can afford to spread its CanCon levy across five million subscribers. Can TFC afford to spread its CanCon levy across 20,000 constituents in Winnipeg North or, more importantly, can the Tagalog community in Winnipeg North afford the CanCon levy?
    That CanCon levy has to come from somewhere. It can come out of the pockets of hard-working immigrants in Liberal ridings, or it can come at the expense of writers, actors, musicians, costumers and set designers in the Philippines. How does this possibly sit well with my colleagues across the aisle? It just cannot be the cultural special interest groups, who do a lot more than just sip champagne at galas in order to keep the Liberals in power at election time, so it must be about the money. It always is.
    The fact is that the bill would exempt user-generated content unless it makes money. It strongly suggests that it is just a tax grab, with a side order of censorship, but in the interest of promoting listening among parties, I want to acknowledge that for some of my colleagues, in particular those from Quebec, this bill is about protecting Canadian and Québécois culture. Quebec is an island of French in a sea of North American English. In the age of broadcasting, Canadians mostly tolerated CanCon rules as the bargain for protecting Canadian culture. In the age of the Internet, we do not live next door to the United States. We live next door to everyone online. We have to turn our cultural policy inside out. We have to stop protecting our culture from the world and start promoting it to the world.
    My colleagues have not noticed that the world wants more Canada, and I am not just talking about the maple leaf flying in the streets of capitals across the world as a symbol of freedom. While Canadians have been binge-watching Lupin and Squid Game, people from Albania to Zimbabwe have been streaming Kim's Convenience and Schitt's Creek. Canadians are expressing themselves. This legislation threatens that expression. That threat falls primarily on minority expression, and it is what the Broadcasting Act does.
    This legislation is regressive protectionism. It looks backward and inward. The members opposite still cannot see the risk this bill poses to their constituents before they vote, so they should go out and speak to them; not to the lobbyists or the special interest groups. They should ask their constituents how much they spend each month and what they would be forced to give up if the price went up by 10% or 20%.
    I plan to vote against Bill C-11, because I have listened to what my constituents are saying. I hope my Liberal colleagues will listen to the minority-language voices in their ridings, because they have just as much right to expression in their language as they do.

  (1550)  

    Madam Speaker, I rise with interest on the member's new-found interest in diversity and inclusion. Her colleague for Lethbridge talked about an overabundance of power, but the status quo deals with some of the largest companies in the world that often do not pay the creators who are posting videos and content, unlike broadcasters in traditional forms of media.
    Why is the opposition so intent on supporting companies such as Chinese giant TikTok and Google over Canadian content creators who are not earning anything?

  (1555)  

    I want to remind members that the question was posed to a specific member and I know the member does not need any additional assistance in addressing it.
    The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
    Madam Speaker, I found it interesting that the member opposite had to go to my colleague's speech to generate a question. Maybe the member was not listening carefully. I said that the point of this bill is to raise revenue for Liberal special interests. It is not the government's intent to have censorship with this bill. The censorship is just a by-product of using the Broadcasting Act.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke for her speech, although I had a hard time following it because it had so many elements.
    I have a question