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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 053

CONTENTS

Tuesday, April 5, 2022




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 053
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[Translation]

Online News Act

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

[English]

Lebanese Heritage Month Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House of Commons to introduce my private member's bill on behalf of Lebanese Canadians, and all Canadians, in recognition of the value and contribution the Lebanese have made to Canada's social, economic, cultural and political development.

[Translation]

    For generations and throughout the country, Lebanese immigrants and their descendants have worked hard and given back, all while honouring their language and their culture.

[English]

    I introduce this bill in memory of my father Steven Wadih Metlege, who passed away in 2018. He came to this country in his twenties with no assurances, just the desire to work hard and do right by his family. His story mirrors that of so many Lebanese Canadians. Passing this bill would be a part of his legacy and that of all Lebanese-Canadian trailblazers, past and present.
     I will quote Khalil Gibran, who wrote, “Deep is your longing for the land of your memories and the dwelling place of your greater desires; and our love would not bind you nor our needs hold you.” This speaks to the Lebanese experience, the love of the homeland and an embrace of our chosen country.
    [Member spoke in Arabic and provided the following translation:]
    Lebanon will remain in our hearts and will last.
    [English]
    Let us all join in supporting the designation of November as Lebanese Heritage Month.

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

  (1005)  

Petitions

Employment Insurance 

    Mr. Speaker, today, I am honoured to table this important petition on behalf of my constituents in Lambton—Kent—Middlesex and other Canadians.
     The petitioners call upon the government to treat all Canadians with dignity and respect. They recognize that EI claims have been denied to Canadians based on their personal medical choices, EI parental leave claims have been denied to parents due to insufficient hours resulting from restrictions, and increased demand for EI has resulted in delays, leaving Canadians without benefits when they need them most.
    The petitioners ask the government to exercise compassion in resolving these issues, adjust EI eligibility for Canadians impacted by COVID-19 measures and remove discriminatory conditions.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour and privilege today to table e-petition 3726, which was signed by 4,020 signatories.
     The petitioners cite that the deep sea plays a key role in the health of marine ecosystems and species, making it indispensable for the sustenance of the ocean. The International Seabed Authority is tasked with the protection of the international seabed area for the benefit of all humankind.
     The petitioners cite that the International Seabed Authority is considering adopting rushed and inadequate regulations for deep seabed mining in the area. The draft regulations do not require full public consultations, nor will they effectively protect the marine environment, thereby undermining the mission of the International Seabed Authority.
    The petitioners also cite that there is enormous scientific concern and technological uncertainty surrounding deep seabed mining, and scientific consensus is that it will cause a net loss in biodiversity.
    The undersigned, namely Oceans North, MiningWatch Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Nature Canada, Northern Confluence, West Coast Environmental Law, and the citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the government to support a moratorium on deep seabed mining in the area in line with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's resolution number 122 and immediately halt the granting of exploration contracts and the development of regulations for exploitation by the International Seabed Authority, per the recommendations of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, of which Canada is a member.

Ukraine  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of many Canadians who want the government to do more to support the people of Ukraine. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to immediately implement a government-assisted refugee program to support those fleeing Russia's war.
    Mr. Speaker, over the last number of weeks, we have seen a great deal of goodwill coming from the province of Manitoba and a great number of expressions of interest in wanting parliamentarians to do what they can with respect to the war that is taking place in Ukraine.
    The Russian Federation has launched an unprovoked and unjust war against the people of Ukraine. The Russian President Putin has threatened all other nations, including Canada, who are assisting the people of Ukraine in their valiant defence of their country. It is important to recognize that tens of thousands of children, moms and others are leaving Ukraine every day to escape the horrors of war.
    The petitioners are calling for a number of actions. The bottom line is that they are calling for the national government to do what it can to support, in solidarity, the people of Ukraine.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Questions Nos. 338, 344, 346, 349, 352 to 354 and 356.

[Text]

Question No. 338—
Mr. Clifford Small:
    With regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Atlantic Seal Science Task Team: (a) how many meetings has the task team had since it was established in 2019; (b) what are the dates of each meeting; (c) what deliverables or accomplishments resulted from each meeting; (d) what specific input has been provided on the priorities of DFO's Atlantic seal science program; (e) what has resulted from the team's examining the application of technology advancements to seal research; (f) what measurable progress has been made on the objective of the team to increase the involvement of the fishing industry in seal science projects; and (g) what specific advice did the team provide on how DFO could better communicate its scientific findings to the fishing industry?
Mr. Mike Kelloway (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a), as of March 15, 2022, the Atlantic seal science task team has met 15 times since it was convened in 2020.
    In response to part (b), as of March 15, 2022, the Atlantic seal science task team met in 2020 on April 23, June 25, July 23 and October 15; in 2021 on February 23, March 12, April 15, May 11, July 15, October 12, November 12 and November 30; and in 2022 on February 2, February 8 and March 4. Deliverables or accomplishments of the task team are being captured in the Atlantic seal science task team report currently under development.
    In response to all other parts of the question, input from the task team is being captured in the Atlantic seal science task team report currently under development.
Question No. 344—
Mr. Alex Ruff:
    With regard to Canadian travellers re-entering Canada, provisioned under current or previously issued Orders in Council (OICs) related to minimizing the risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada (quarantine, isolation and other obligations): (a) how many Canadians have been denied entry, or were not able to enter into Canada due to arriving at a land border with a positive test result, broken down by month since the issuing of Order in Council (OIC) 2021-0075; (b) how many Canadians have been denied entry or were not able to enter into Canada due to arriving at a land border with another traveller who presented a positive test result, broken down by month since the issuing of OIC 2021-0075; (c) how many Canadians have been fined due to arriving at a land border with a positive test result, broken down by month since the issuing of OIC 2021-0075; (d) how many Canadians have been fined due to arriving at a land border with another traveller who presented a positive test result, broken down by month since the issuing of OIC 2021-0075; (e) did the responsible minister request a Charter Statement, or similar review, prior issuing OIC 2022-0042 or similar repealed OICs; (f) where can the published Charter Statement in (e) be found; and (g) what health-based assessment was conducted on the risks to Canadian travellers health and safety for requiring these travellers to quarantine in the United States versus quarantining at home; and (h) how frequently has this assessment been reviewed and where are the published results available?
Mr. Adam van Koeverden (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Sport, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to parts (a) and (b) of the question, Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada or persons registered as an Indian under the Indian Act have right of entry into Canada. There is no provision to deny entry to Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada or persons registered as an Indian under the Indian Act for non-compliance with the Quarantine Act or associated orders in council.
    In response to part (c), the Public Health Agency of Canada does not collect information regarding the citizenship of travellers that are issued fines. In total, 111 travellers have been fined due to arriving at a Canadian border with a recent positive COVID-19 test result. The monthly breakdown of fines issued since this requirement was introduced in January 2021 is as follows: January 2021, zero; February 2021, zero; March 2021, one; April 2021, three; May 2021, five; June 2021, three; July 2021, two; August 2021, six; September 2021, 13; October 2021, seven; November 2021, eight; December 2021, 31; January 2022, 30; and February 2022, two.
    In response to part (d), no Canadians have been issued a fine due to arriving at a land border with another traveller who presented a positive test result, as this is not an offence under the Quarantine Act or associated orders in council.
    In response to parts (e) and (f), charter statements are required to be provided for government bills that are being introduced in Parliament. Accordingly, given that the orders in council are by nature subordinate to legislation, charter statements would not be provided for the orders or similar instruments.
    However, although the orders in council are not subject to the regulatory examination process under the Statutory Instruments Act, the Department of Justice reviews the orders using the criteria set out in subsection 3(2) of that act, in its capacity as legal adviser to the Clerk of the Privy Council. These criteria include a review of the orders for consistency with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    In response to parts (g) and (h), as set out in the Quarantine Act, the statutory purpose of the act is to protect public health by taking comprehensive measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases in Canada. The associated orders in council are also aimed at achieving this purpose of the act. In accordance with the act, the orders do so by imposing prohibitions or conditions on the entry of persons entering Canada, with the aim of protecting the public health of people in Canada.
    The public health assessment of the measures introduced under the OICs is primarily undertaken by the Public Health Agency of Canada, including in consultation with other government departments or agencies as may be appropriate.
    When issuing the order in council, the government publishes an explanatory note that accompanies each OIC. The explanatory note provides background information and rationale for the measures imposed in the orders. The explanatory note may provide further information outlining the basis for the various measures that have been introduced via the orders. As explained above, one of the main focuses of the measures is to protect the public health of Canadians.
    Being provided periodically with each order that is made, the explanatory note is published in the Canada Gazette within 23 days of date that the order is made.
Question No. 346—
Mr. Brad Vis:
    With regard to the AgriDiversity Program administered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada: (a) how many applications were received in 2021; (b) how many projects were successful and received funding in 2021; (c) how many projects in (a) and (b) were to support African and Black Canadian work in 2021; and (d) what are the details of all projects in (c), including, for each, the (i) location, (ii) project description, (iii) amount of federal contribution, (iv) start date, (v) projected completion date?
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a) of the question, 10 applications were received in 2021.
    Regarding part (b), three projects were successful and received funding in 2021.
    Regarding part (c), two applications related to part (a) were to support African and Black Canadian work.
    In response to part (d), information for applications that have not received funding are submitted in confidence and the details of the project could reveal the identity of the third party or organization without their expressed consent.
Question No. 349—
Mr. Jasraj Singh Hallan:
    With regard to the applications for the resettlement of refugees from Afghanistan, submitted to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): (a) how many applications were filed under the special immigration program for Afghan nationals, and their families, who assisted the Government of Canada; (b) how many of the applicants in (a) remain in Afghanistan; (c) how many applicants in (a) have been refused; (d) how many applicants in (a) have come to Canada; (e) what is the breakdown of (d) by month, since July 2021; (f) how many applications submitted under the Special Immigration Measures (SIM) program, the Afghan humanitarian Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) program, as well as the Afghan humanitarian Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSR) program have yet to be processed by IRCC; (g) what is the average amount of time that those applications in (f) have to wait before being processed; (h) how many applications submitted under the SIMs, GARs, and PSR have completed biometrics; (i) how many government employees have been working on applications filed under the SIMs since July 2021; (j) what is the breakdown of (i) by month, from July 2021 to February 2022; and (k) how many IRCC employees were in Afghanistan from August 15 to 27, 2021?
Ms. Marie-France Lalonde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), as of February 16, 2022, approximately 14,840 persons’ applications have been received under the special immigration program for Afghan nationals and their families who assisted the Government of Canada.
    With regard to (b), of the applications in process under the special immigration program for Afghan nationals and their families who assisted the Government of Canada, approximately 7,125 persons’ applications are from clients who remain in Afghanistan, based on information provided.
    With regard to (c), fewer than 10 persons’ applications were refused through the special immigration measures program.
    With regard to (d), members may refer to the website for the latest key figures, at https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services /refugees/afghanistan/key-figures.html.
    With regard to (e), members may refer to the website for latest key figures, at https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/ services/refugees/afghanistan/key-figures.html.
    With regard to (f), as of February 16, 2022, about 8,500 persons’ applications that were submitted under the special immigration measures program and the Afghan humanitarian government-assisted refugees program were in our processing inventory.
    The Afghan humanitarian privately sponsored refugee program will facilitate the arrival of a mix of Afghan privately sponsored refugees in the existing inventory and new applications. As of February 16, 2022, there are approximately 7,267 Afghan privately sponsored refugee applications, in persons, in the processing inventory.
    With regard to (g), IRCC cannot provide an estimate as to how long it will take to process applications that are currently in the processing inventory. IRCC is processing Afghan applications under the special immigration program for Afghans who assisted the Government of Canada in the humanitarian programs as quickly as possible. The time required to process these applications will depend on a variety of factors, including whether the client is still in Afghanistan.
    With regard to (h), as of mid-February approximately 4,455 applicants under the special immigration measures had completed biometrics, while an additional 6,005 persons were exempt from completing biometrics but underwent a modified biographic screening process. Under the Afghan humanitarian government-assisted refugees program, 2,805 applicants had completed biometrics, while an additional 2,140 were exempt from completing biometrics but underwent a modified biographic screening process. Under the privately sponsored refugees program, 2,290 Afghan applicants had completed biometrics, while 1,340 were exempt from completing biometrics but underwent a modified biographic screening process.
    With regard to (i) and (j), although IRCC has added significant resources to increase processing capacity, there is no specific data about staff working exclusively on processing applications for Afghan nationals. The department continues to process applications as efficiently as possible, not only by adding resources but also by waiving application fees, as well as mobilizing our global network to process and issue visas on an urgent basis. We have set up a dedicated telephone line, with extended hours, to serve Afghan clients seeking information and assistance.
    With regard to (k), similar to other like-minded countries, all IRCC personnel left Kabul on August 15, 2021, with the closure of the embassy. During this period, IRCC mobilized a team supporting the Afghan evacuation efforts 24 hours per day and seven days per week, with employees in Canada, as well as at our missions around the globe, ensuring continuous real-time dedicated support for the air bridge. With the support of the Canadian Armed Forces, a Canadian presence remained in the region for as long as was safely possible.
Question No. 352—
Mr. Garnett Genuis:
    With regard to direction and control regulations as it relates to the Income Tax Act: (a) what is the government’s position regarding direction and control regulations; (b) does the government support Bill S-216, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (use of resources of a registered charity); (c) have government ministers met with individuals or organizations advocating for changes to direction and control regulations, and, if so, what are the details of all such meetings, including, for each, the (i) date, (ii) names of ministers and Members of Parliament in attendance, (iii) names and titles of ministerial or political staff, as well as government officials in attendance, (iv) names and titles of individuals or organizations in attendance, (v) meeting format (in person or virtual); (d) are discussions ongoing within government about the challenges posed by and possible reforms to direction and control regulation, and, if so, which ministers and departments are involved in the discussions and what is the expected timeline for when (i) the discussions are expected to conclude, (ii) any reforms would be announced or enacted, if applicable?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the government recognizes that some charities find these rules overly restrictive and onerous, and it is committed to ensuring that the regulatory framework supports the important work that charities perform. This is why in the government’s response to the report of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector, the government committed to reviewing these rules to determine if they continue to be appropriate or if improvements can be made. The government is now actively considering how the framework for charities that work in partnership with others both in Canada and internationally could be improved such that it better supports the important work that charities perform while balancing the need for accountability among charitable resources.
    The government will communicate its position on Bill S-216, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (use of resources of a registered charity), during the legislative process in the House of Commons.
Question No. 353—
Mr. Garnett Genuis:
    With regard to the government listing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity: (a) is the government reviewing whether or not to list the IRGC as a whole as a terrorist entity, and not just the Quds Force; (b) has the government reached a decision about whether or not to list the IRGC as a whole; (c) if the government has reached a decision, what is it; and (d) if the government has not reached a decision on the IRGC, when will it reach one?
Ms. Pam Damoff (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, keeping Canadians safe is of paramount importance to this government. We are working with like-minded countries to ensure that Iran is held to account for its support of terrorism.
    The Criminal Code sets out a terrorist listing regime to help prevent the use of Canada’s financial system to further terrorist activity and to assist in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences. The Minister of Public Safety may recommend to the Governor in Council, GiC, that individuals or groups be officially designated as “terrorist entities” pursuant to subsection 83.05(1) of the Criminal Code, on “establishment of list”, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity, or has knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of, or in association with, an entity referred to in paragraph (a).
    The term “entity” is defined as “a person, group, trust, partnership or fund or an unincorporated association or organization”. The definition does not include reference to a state.
    Canada has robust measures in place to hold Iran and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC, accountable for their support for terrorism, including some of the toughest and most comprehensive sanctions against Iran in the world. Canada continues to look at all possible options to further constrain the activities of Iran that threaten national security.
    Canada has maintained the listing of the IRGC Qods Force as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code since 2012. The Qods Force is recognized as responsible for terrorist operations and for providing arms, funding and training to other terrorist groups. The Government of Canada also continues to list terrorist entities that have benefited from the Qods Force patronage, including Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, and three Iran-backed regional militias that were listed as terrorist entities under the Criminal Code in 2019.
    Canada has implemented sanctions decisions of the United Nations Security Council, UNSC, into domestic law under the United Nations Act. Among a wide range of restrictions, the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on Iran also include a dealings ban on persons listed by the UNSC, including senior members of the IRGC.
    Other existing measures against the IRGC include the sanctions imposed under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA (Iran) Regulations), in response to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The regulations explicitly target IRGC organizations, including the IRGC Air Force and Air Force Missile Command, IRGC Logistics and Procurement, IRGC Missile Command, IRGC Navy, and several members of its senior leadership. The SEMA (Iran) Regulations include a dealings ban on designated individuals and entities, which include the aforementioned IRGC organizations, effectively freezing their assets in Canada. These measures are also intended to restrict Iran’s access to sensitive goods from Canada, especially with respect to nuclear proliferation and the development of ballistic missiles.
    On February 21, 2020, the Financial Action Task Force, FATF, the international standard-setting body for combatting money laundering and terrorist financing, called on its members, including Canada, to impose countermeasures on Iran to help mitigate the risk the Islamic Republic of Iran presents to the international financial system. On July 25, 2020, the Minister of Finance issued a ministerial directive due to Iran’s failure to address strategic deficiencies in its anti-money-laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism, or AML/CFT, regime. The measures identified were applied to the areas of greatest risk and include the requirement for financial institutions, credit unions and money services businesses to treat every financial transaction originating from or bound for Iran as a high-risk transaction and to report all transactions, regardless of their amount, to the Financial Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre.
    Finally, Canada lists Iran as a state supporter of terrorism under the State Immunity Act, SIA, which allows civil actions to be taken against it under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, the JVTA.
    We remain unwavering in our commitment to keep Canadians safe, including by taking all appropriate action to counter terrorist threats in Canada and around the world.
Question No. 354—
Mr. Kyle Seeback:
    With regard to the government's invocation of the Emergencies Act and the Emergency Economic Measures Order: (a) which crowdfunding platforms or payment service providers registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada in relation to the order; (b) how many (i) suspicious, (ii) large value, transactions were reported by each platform or provider in relation to (a); and (c) what is the total value of the (i) suspicious, (ii) large value transactions reported by each platform in relation to (a)?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, due to the revocation of the Emergency Economic Measures Order and the limitations on the disclosure of information that are set out in subsection 55(1) of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC, and the Department of Finance cannot respond to the question.
    In processing Parliamentary returns, the Department of Finance and FINTRAC also apply the Privacy Act and the principles set out in the Access to Information Act, and this information constitutes personal information held by third parties that the government is not legally able to share.
Question No. 356—
Ms. Lianne Rood:
    With regard to expenditures by the government on the rental or purchase of cots or folding beds which were delivered to the government lobby in the House of Commons on February 17, 2022: what are the details of all related contracts and expenditures, including, for each, (i) the amount spent, (ii) the vendor, (iii) whether units were rented or purchased, (iv) the number of units?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the government did not buy or rent any cots or folding beds for the government lobby in the House of Commons for February 17, 2022.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if the government's response to Questions Nos. 337, 339 to 343, 345, 347, 348, 350, 351 and 355 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 337—
Mr. Tom Kmiec:
    With regard to the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): (a) which businesses and communities have applied for funding; (b) for each business and community that have applied, was their application accepted or rejected, and if it was accepted, how much funding did they receive; (c) for each successful application, how many jobs were (i) initially meant to be saved by receiving funding through the RRRF, (ii) actually saved; (d) what specific follow-up measures were taken with each successful applicant to ensure that the funding was actually used to save jobs; (e) how many of the jobs saved by the RRRF were located (i) in Canada, (ii) outside of Canada; and (f) is the government aware of instances where funds from the RRRF were used inappropriately or for ineligible expenses and, if so, what are the details of all such instances, including the (i) recipient, (ii) value, (iii) summary of goods or services inappropriately purchased?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 339—
Mr. Rick Perkins:
    With regard to employees at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO): (a) what was the total number of employees or full-time equivalent on the (i) Fisheries section, (ii) Oceans section of DFO, broken down by year since 2015; (b) what was the number of fishery offices field supervisor positions in conservation and protection at DFO, broken down by year since 2016; (c) what is the current number of fishery offices field supervisor positions in conservation and protection; (d) how many positions at DFO were eliminated in conservation and protection in (i) 2020, (ii) 2021, (iii) 2022; and (e) how many positions at DFO were eliminated in total in (i) 2020, (ii) 2021, (iii) 2022, broken down by section of DFO and type of position?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 340—
Mr. Rick Perkins:
    With regard to research conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO): (a) what dollar amount and percentage of DFO's scientific research budget has been provided to the (i) oceans department, (ii) fisheries department, broken down by year since 2016; and (b) what is the breakdown of (a) by topic or area of research?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 341—
Mr. Rick Perkins:
    With regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Eastern Shore Islands Area of Interest (AOI) and the proposed marine refuge off the Scotian Shelf bioregion: (a) how many (i) groups, (ii) individuals, have been consulted since January 1, 2019, regarding the AOI or the proposed marine refuge; and (b) what are the details of all such consultations, including, for each, (i) the date of the consultation, (ii) the format, (iii) the name of the individual or group consulted, (iv) who conducted the consultation, (v) the summary of the feedback or submission related to the consultation?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 342—
Ms. Michelle Ferreri:
    With regard to the various government relief programs for businesses put into place since March 1, 2020, and broken down by each program: (a) what was the number of incorporated businesses that (i) applied for funding, (ii) were provided funding, (iii) had their application rejected or not accepted; (b) what was the average amount of funding provided in (a)(ii); (c) what was the number of sole proprietorship businesses that (i) applied for funding, (ii) were provided funding, (iii) had their application rejected or not accepted; (d) what was the average amount of funding provided received in (c)(ii); and (e) what is the breakdown of each of the subparts in (a) and (c), by sector and industry, if known?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 343—
Mr. Alex Ruff:
    With regard to Canadian travellers re-entering Canada, provisioned under Order In Council 2022-0042 (Minimizing the Risk of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada Order (Quarantine, Isolation and Other Obligations)): (a) on what date (s) were the webpages “COVID-19 vaccinated travellers entering Canada”, “Find out if you can travel to Canada – Citizen with symptoms – By land or sea”, and “COVID-19 testing for travellers” on the government’s travel website updated to reflect the entry requirements that Canadians must wait at least 10 calendar days after a positive test result before entering Canada, to avoid being fined $5,000 per traveller (plus surcharges); (b) which department is responsible for (i) drafting communications regarding this provision, (ii) updating the webpages in (a); and (c) what are the details of all other communications which were issued regarding this entry requirement, including, for each, the (i) date issued, (ii) medium, (iii) summary of communication?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 345—
Ms. Michelle Ferreri:
    With regard to the requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to have a recent negative COVID-19 test before crossing the land-border or face a $5,000 fine: (a) was this decision based on any scientific research, other than political science, and, if so, what specific scientific studies or data was it based on, and what are the specific website locations where the studies and data is located; (b) has the government conducted a cost-benefit analysis of maintaining the test requirement, either molecular or antigen, and, if so, (i) who conducted the analysis, (ii) what were the findings; and (c) what specific criteria or metrics must be met (i) at the land border, (ii) on flights from travellers from the United States, (iii) on flight from other international travellers, before the antigen test requirement for returning travellers is dropped, and on what dates does the government anticipate meeting each of these metrics or criteria?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 347—
Mr. Marty Morantz:
    With regard to the "Other consolidated specified purpose accounts", listed on pages 133 and 134 of the 2021 Public Accounts of Canada, Volume 1, and broken down by each account: (a) what is the current balance of the account; (b) how many (i) individuals, (ii) corporations, (iii) other entities, have received payments from the funds, broken down by fiscal year since 2016-17; (c) what is the total value of the expenditures in each subpart of (b); (d) what is the annual cost to the government to operate and maintain each fund; (e) what is the itemized breakdown of (d); (f) how many employees or full-time equivalents are assigned to administer each fund; and (g) which minister and department has responsibility for the employees in (f)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 348—
Mr. Jasraj Singh Hallan:
    With regard to the refusal of applications submitted to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada: (a) how many applications were submitted between January 1, 2014, and January 31, 2021; (b) how many applications in (a) were refused; (c) what is the breakdown of (a) and (b) by (i) country of applicant, (ii) line of business being applied to, (iii) month; (d) how many applications in (a) were processed using Chinook; (e) what is the breakdown of (d) by (i) country of applicant, (ii) line of business being applied to, (iii) month; (f) of the visa offices using Chinook, what is the refusal rate of applications, broken down by line of business; and (g) what is the breakdown of (f) by year from 2017 to 2021?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 350—
Mr. Jasraj Singh Hallan:
    With regard to the use of the Chinook software program at Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): (a) what oversight of Chinook is in place; (b) has Chinook undergone a performance audit; (c) when was the last time Chinook was audited; (d) what quality assurance is in place for Chinook; (e) what training materials are used to train IRCC employees on the use of Chinook; (f) what is the content of those training materials in (e); (g) what training is given to IRCC employees using Chinook specifically to prevent racism and discrimination; (h) what is the content of the material used for the training in (f); (i) what consultation with stakeholders was done by IRCC on the implementation of Chinook before it was implemented; (j) has any consultation with stakeholders been done by IRCC since Chinook was implemented; (k) were any immigration lawyers or consultants consulted by IRCC before Chinook was implemented; (l) if any stakeholders were consulted by IRCC on Chinook, how many stakeholders were consulted; (m) what was the result of the Privacy Risk Assessment of Chinook conducted in August 2019; (n) what is the content of the Security Assessment Report conducted for Chinook in January 2020; (o) why are the visa offices in Algiers, Havana, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Tel Aviv not using Chinook; (p) are notes about immigration officers’ decisions while using Chinook kept; and (q) why is no list provided to applicants of the software that is used to process applications, including the use of Chinook?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 351—
Mr. Garnett Genuis:
    With regard to the requirement for federal public servants to be vaccinated against COVID-19: (a) how many public servants have been placed on unpaid leave as a result of their vaccination status; (b) how many public servants have received health exemptions; (c) does the government gather information regarding the nature of individual health exemptions, such as the condition causing the need for the exemption, and, if so, what is the prevalence of different kinds of health exemptions; (d) how many public servants have received religious exemptions; (e) does the government gather information regarding the nature of individual religious exemptions, such as the particular faith of those with the exemption, and, if so, what is the prevalence of different kinds of exemptions; (f) how many public servants have applications for health exemptions pending; (g) how many public servants have applications for religious exemptions pending; (h) by what date does the government expect the applications in (f) and (g) to be resolved; (i) how many public servants had applications for a health exemption denied; (j) how many public servants had applications for a religious exemption denied; (k) for each response in (a) through (j), what is the breakdown by department, agency, or other government entity; (l) how many replacement workers has the government (i) contacted, (ii) hired, to fulfill functions previously performed by those who are on unpaid leave as a result of their vaccination status, broken down by department or agency, type of job, and job title; (m) what is the government policy related to the ability of the individual placed on leave to return to their position after it has been filled with a replacement worker; (n) what ordinary functions of the government are not currently being carried out as a result of unvaccinated workers being placed on leave without pay; (o) has the government assessed the impact on public services resulting from the decision to place unvaccinated workers on leave without pay, and, if so, what are the details of the assessment, broken down by the impact on each department; (p) how many workers are being expected to perform additional tasks as a result of colleagues being placed on leave without pay as a result of these new requirements, broken down by department or agency; (q) how many of the workers in (p) are receiving any additional compensation directly related to their colleagues being placed on leave; (r) has the government identified any increase in stress or strain for the workers referred to in (p) as a result of additional workload, and, if so, what are the details; (s) how long will the workers in (p) be expected to perform additional tasks; (t) does the government intend to hire additional replacement workers if the workers on unpaid leave continue to be on leave for more than (i) six months, (ii) nine months, (iii) 12 months; (u) has the government received legal advice regarding whether this policy is consistent with (i) existing labour agreements, (ii) the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, (iii) other human rights codes, laws, or agreements which bind the actions of the federal government; and (v) what legal advice did the government receive respecting the items in (u)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 355—
Mr. Kyle Seeback:
    With regard to the government's invocation of the Emergencies Act and the Emergency Economic Measures Order: (a) how many (i) personal, (ii) business, banking accounts have been frozen under the order; (b) what is the breakdown of (a) (i) and (ii), by financial institution; (c) what is total value of the accounts in (a) (i) and (ii), broken down by financial institution; and (d) has the government set up any fund or compensation program for individuals or businesses that have their accounts frozen as a result of error or mistaken identity related to the order and, if so, what are the details?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

  (1010)  

[Translation]

Points of Order

Bill C‑215—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
     I am now ready to rule on the point of order raised on March 22 by the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader regarding Bill C-215, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (illness, injury or quarantine), standing on the Order Paper in the name of the member for Lévis—Lotbinière.

[English]

    During his intervention, the parliamentary secretary argued that Bill C-215 seeks to increase the maximum number of weeks during which sickness benefits can be paid, which would entail a new and distinct charge to the consolidated revenue fund. He pointed out that, as there is currently no statutory authority or appropriation authorizing this new and distinct charge, a royal recommendation is required, as required by the Constitution Act, 1867, and the Standing Orders of the House.
    As indicated in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 838, “Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative.”
    I have carefully studied Bill C-215. It would amend paragraphs 12(3)(c) and 152.14(1)(c) of the Employment Insurance Act in order to increase the maximum number of weeks during which benefits can be paid in the event of an illness, injury or quarantine from 15 to 52 to weeks. It seems clear, therefore, that the bill seeks to increase the duration of the period of employment insurance benefits.

[Translation]

     The Chair has already ruled on questions similar to the one that concerns us today. It was effectively the case in rulings on almost identical bills in 2006 and 2021.
    In the ruling of April 15, 2021, on Bill C-265, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (illness, injury or quarantine), found at page 5691 of Debates, the Chair also indicated that the bill had to be accompanied by a royal recommendation since it sought to increase the maximum number of weeks during which benefits can be paid in the event of an illness, injury or quarantine from 15 weeks to 50.
    In light of the analysis of the bill standing in the name of the member for Lévis—Lotbinière and the precedents cited, the Chair is of the opinion that by amending the Employment Insurance Act to increase the maximum number of weeks during which benefits can be paid in the event of an illness, injury or quarantine from 15 weeks to 52, Bill C-215 would entail an increase in public spending in a way and to an end that is not currently authorized. As a result, the Chair concludes that it must be accompanied by a royal recommendation before it can proceed to a final vote in the House at the third reading stage.
    Meanwhile, however, the next time the House considers this bill, the debate will be on the motion for second reading, and that motion shall be put to a vote at the end of the second reading debate.
    I thank all members for their attention.

  (1015)  

Royal Recommendation for Bill C‑237—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
     I am now ready to rule on the points of order raised on March 1, 22 and 28 by the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader and the member for La Prairie regarding Bill C‑237, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act, standing on the Order Paper in the name of the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel.
    During his intervention, the sponsor of Bill C‑237 argued that it entails no new expense and does not change the transfer amounts or its purpose nor does it change the beneficiaries or how the funding is allocated to them. He continued by saying that all C‑237 does is reduce federal control over the management of provincial programs in the provinces' own jurisdictions.
    The member added that his bill seeks to exempt Quebec, and only Quebec, from the application of the Canada Health Act. The member for La Prairie added to these arguments that a bill that amends a condition or qualification of an existing act should be accompanied by a royal recommendation only if that amendment entails an increase in these costs or changes the purpose, which he argued is not the case with C‑237.

[English]

    For his part, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader argued that the bill seeks to eliminate conditions and qualifications associated with the legislative spending power enacted by the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act. He thus contended that a new royal recommendation is needed for the purposes of the Canada Health Transfer to the provinces as proposed by Bill C-237. I reviewed the bill and I have reached the following conclusions concerning this impact on the royal recommendation.
    Section 1 of the bill provides that Quebec need not apply the conditions set out in paragraph 24(a) of the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act in order to obtain the amounts referred to in subsection 24.1(1) of that act. Section 3 of Bill C-237 provides that Quebec receives the full monetary contribution provided for in the Canada Health Act without being subject to the various grant conditions set out in that act. In other words, the result of the mechanism proposed by Bill C-237 would be to exempt Quebec from having to fulfill the conditions to which it is currently subject in order to receive the Canada Health Transfer, which originate in the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and the Canada Health Act.

[Translation]

     The member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel argued that these changes have no financial effect in terms of either the amounts or their destination. However, these changes would amend the terms and conditions initially attached to the Canada health transfer, which were approved by Parliament.

[English]

    On this, page 838 of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, states:
    A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered. Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown’s financial initiative.

[Translation]

    As the member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel indicated in his intervention, the bill seeks to exempt Quebec from the application of the Canada Health Act. Thus, after analysis and in keeping with the precedents, including the rulings by Speaker Milliken on May 8, 2008, and by my predecessor on December 6, 2016, the Chair is of the opinion that the implementation of Bill C-237 would contravene the conditions initially provided for in the royal recommendation. Accordingly, the Chair is of the view that Bill C-237 must be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
    Consequently, the Chair will decline to put the question at the third reading stage of the bill in its present form unless a royal recommendation is received.
    When this item is next before the House, the debate will only be on the motion for second reading of the bill, and the question will be put to the House at the end of this debate.
    I thank all members for their attention.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Spending on national defence  

    That, given that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance has made an immeasurable contribution to peace, security, and prosperity for all its members, the House call on the government to increase spending on national defence to at least two per cent of Canada's gross domestic product, in accordance with NATO's 2014 Wales Summit Declaration.
     She said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.
    The world as we see it today is a violent place. We have entered a new stage in great power competition, where those great powers seek to maximize their influence on a global scale. The once-great superpower of the United States is now in a strategic competition with China and, to a much lesser extent, Russia. We have seen the traditional great powers of France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, which supported the rules-based world order, under pressure from both Russia and China and regional rogue states such as North Korea and Iran.
     I can remember when people said that there would never again be a war in Europe after the end of the Cold War. It was wishful thinking. No sooner had people uttered those words than we saw the Yugoslav civil war, Kosovo, the Georgian war, the Azerbaijan-Armenia war, the Russian seizure of Crimea, the Donbass, and now the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Today, we are witnessing the largest ground war we have seen in Europe since World War II.
    Russia was once a superpower, and is now a great power in slow decline. It is a Eurasian land power with residual air and sea capabilities, and it has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Russia has successfully developed hypersonic cruise and ballistic missiles that are geared to defeat western missile defences, and it has weapons that are geared to destroy American port cities and flood them with radiation.
    The goal of its government and Vladimir Putin is to put the old Russian empire back together with the Soviet empire’s borders. The threat of a new USSR threatens the Balkans, the Baltic states and Poland directly. In the past month, we have seen a Russian army of over 200,000 men invade Ukraine in a ghastly war that has created millions of refugees and tens of thousands of casualties, with no end in sight. We are seeing evidence of a number of potential war crimes in the path of the Russian invasion and retreat in the north of Ukraine.
     The People’s Republic of China is a superpower on the rise. Time will tell the outcome of its strategic competition with the U.S. and its allies. It is important to note that the only successful drive for power between great powers and the international system was the transfer of power between the United Kingdom and the United States in 1945. It is very unlikely that we will see a peaceful transition of power this time around.
    China has the world’s largest army, and it is well equipped. China now has the world’s largest navy. It is a blue-water navy with frigates, destroyers, cruisers and amphibious ships. The newest variants of those warships are as capable as their western equivalents. China has two aircraft carriers and a third under construction. The country's first two aircraft carriers are of limited capability, but the third, which is currently under construction, is as large as a Nimitz-class U.S. aircraft carrier. China maintains a large air force and has started to produce fifth-generation fighter aircraft similar to the F-35. While China’s strategic deterrent remains small, it is geared for deterrence and there are signs that China has recently constructed 500 new silos to house new missiles. In the next few years, China could have one of the largest arsenals of nuclear weapons.
    China has also developed hypersonic cruise and ballistic missiles, anti-ship ballistic missiles and air launch ballistic missiles. It maintains one of the largest missile inventories in the world, if not the largest. Many are dual-purpose, with either nuclear or conventional warheads geared to threaten, and if necessary overwhelm and destroy, their neighbours, while their strategic deterrent prevents the U.S. from intervening on their behalf.
    We have watched China creep into the territory of its neighbours in the South China Sea. It has created artificial militarized islands and seized the possessions of others. We have seen China threaten India, seize land that has been Indian territory since the 1940s and set up communities in the territories of Bhutan and Nepal. It is engaged in genocide against the Uighur people. This past summer, China conducted a test of a fractional orbit bombardment system, where it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile to the south. The rocket popped out over South America, went into a fractional orbit, and flew north of the north pole. This is especially concerning, as it was very hard to detect: North America's missile defence and early warning system face north, with no coverage to the south.

  (1020)  

    Rogue states such as North Korea are building one of the largest inventories of missiles in the world. They are developing nuclear weapons, and we may see a North Korean nuclear test in the very near future. North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missiles are believed to be able to reach just west of Ottawa, and it too is experimenting with hypersonic weapons. The North Koreans are close to developing an effective submarine-launched ballistic missile, and they have one of the world’s largest armies. The opacity of North Korean decision-making and the rationality of its leadership make it a threat to its neighbours and to North America in general.
    Iran, the most powerful country in the Middle East, is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons. It has missiles for deployment and uses a network of about 22 proxy militias to terrorize its neighbours and Israel. Iranian militias are active in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and much of the Middle East, including the Palestinian general authority.
    Maybe Canadians watching are wondering what all this has to do with Canada. Maybe, up until a month ago, they thought the same about Ukraine, but I am here to tell them and the House that the world is an unsafe place and there is evil in our midst. The best way to avoid war is to prepare for it. The only way to deter an opponent is by being strong and being determined. That is why we are members of NATO, NORAD and the Five Eyes. Neutrality is not really an option for Canada, and we cannot take our own security for granted anymore. We can no longer assume that others will look out for Canada unless Canada pays its fair share and looks out for itself.
    Today’s opposition motion before the House ahead of the coming budget is to say to the government that it is time to pay up and purchase the equipment we need for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. There have been enough back-slapping platitudes and word salads. We must live up to our shared NATO commitment of spending 2% of GDP on defence. The Canadian forces have been allowed to decline by the government over the past seven years.
    We are on the precipice and we are standing into danger. The government has a choice: to increase spending to meet the NATO required 2% or not. I know the Liberals' political dance partners in the NDP believe that 2% is an arbitrary number, but in fact that is the number the Government of Canada signed up for in the 2014 NATO Wales Summit declaration. Right now, the government could do itself and Canadians a big favour and sign the contract with a firm delivery schedule for the F-35s. The government knows only too well that there is no negotiation and no refinement of numbers. As a consortium member, we get the F-35 at the exact same price as the United States. It is not going to be any cheaper. There are no negotiations: the price is fixed. It is fixed by the fiscal year we buy them in. Let us sign the deal and get on with it.
    We also need Arctic icebreakers, and we need them now. Russia has 40 Arctic icebreakers, 20 nuclear and 20 conventional, a string of bases across the north and a specialized northern brigade. The Russian fleet in the North Sea is its main naval strike force. It is the home of the bulk of its strategic missile-carrying submarine fleet. It is from the north that Russian bombers cross the Arctic Ocean and approach North America, and where they conduct fire drills from what are called fireboxes off our air defence zones.
    What does Canada have in the north? It does not have very much on a permanent basis, save our rangers, a reserve company and Alert. The F-35 is a start. Arctic ice breakers are a start, but we need new submarines that can go under the ice and stay under the ice, and those could be nuclear-powered submarines. We need surface warships, and we need them soon. We need to cut steel on an off-the-shelf design that has been proven. We need to expand our ranger program and rebuild our army. Canada needs to replenish its war stocks of modern anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, and provide the same to Ukraine in military aid.
    The government’s sole accomplishment on the defence file today is buying used, obsolete Australian fighter planes that we did not need. When Prime Minister Harper’s government was in power, Canada bought C-17s, C-130Js, Leopard 2 main battle tanks, LAV armoured fighting vehicles and Chinook helicopters.
    Enough is enough. Surely the men and women of the Canadian Forces deserve the best equipment. These are dangerous jobs. These are our countries' best citizens and our most selfless citizens. Otherwise, the verdict of history on the current government is going to be both too little and too late.

  (1025)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
    It is pretty clear that there needs to be more investment in the Canadian Armed Forces. The 2% target was set during an international agreement with people from NATO and it is reasonable.
    However, there are a lot of questions about procurement and many concerns about wasting public money. I would like my colleague's opinion on that.
    We only have to look at the saga with the fighter jets that were cancelled in 2015. The Liberals promised they would never buy them, but now they announce that they are doing just that. If those jets had been purchased several years ago, they may have been less expensive.
    We can also think of the submarines. It makes no sense to buy four used submarines, one of which caught on fire. That claimed the life of one of our soldiers. What is more, if only one submarine had been purchased, it might still be operational.
    I would like my colleague to tell us what can be done to improve the way public funds are managed. Is there a way we could pass a budget and depoliticize the procurement process? Could we entrust this to professionals to prevent it from becoming a promise made by a politician during an election campaign to win votes?

  (1030)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my hon. friend on all his points, because there is a lot of waste in procurement. It is overpoliticized with this government. It needs to be streamlined.
    We streamlined the procurement process when we were in Afghanistan. Canada showed it can be done. Once we withdrew, it became more complicated all over again. In the last seven years, the Liberal government has spent $865 million, and it spent another billion on used aircraft from Australia, only to get us back to the F-35s, which were the best choice all along for our needs here in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, according to the Parliamentary Budget officer, for Canada to meet that 2% of NATO spending that the Conservatives are calling for, we would have to spend an additional $54 billion to $56 billion annually on defence, which is approximately double what we spend now.
    Can the member clarify which government programs the Conservatives would cut in order to justify that increase in spending?
    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for working alongside my friend on the Standing Committee on National Defence, where we usually get along very well.
    The 2% is a pledge we made, and we should meet our commitment. We should be moving toward it and we should meet it. We have already semi-committed to the F-35s, although the minister said in the House that they are still working on it and the other minister said it is a done deal, so I am a little confused on that file. What I do know is we are in desperate need, and my friend knows this as well, being on the defence committee. We are understaffed and underequipped, and we need to fix it now.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague about the Cormorant helicopter fleet, because that is another category where the government has been dragging its feet. It initially budgeted to upgrade and repair the 14 helicopters back in 2017, but it seriously underbudgeted for that project. Those helicopters are essential for our air and sea rescue operations, and I am wondering if my hon. colleague could comment on this further foot-dragging by the Liberal government.
    Mr. Speaker, of course that is kind of the name of the game: the government dragging its feet when it comes to procurement and paying attention to what we need in search and rescue equipment for our military. Right now we have a retention and recruitment problem, and yet we are offering new recruits old equipment, which is equipment that literally may not work and might put their lives in danger. One of the best tools for recruitment and retention is to get the tools we need. Our SAR personnel are the best in the world, and they deserve the best equipment.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have been looking forward to joining the debate on this motion. As a former member of the military, I understand the importance of adequate funding for national defence and the importance of Canada's role on the international stage.
    The purpose of the debate is to bring all parliamentarians to a clear consensus on our defence posture. The motion specifically calls for an increase in the defence budget to reach the NATO target. However, we also need to find another time to discuss the state of the troops and lack of members. There is a reason for all that, but we will come back to it another day.
    From the outset, I must say that the Liberals' rhetoric about military spending has never translated into concrete action, and that is very disappointing. Most frightening is this recent partnership between the Liberal Party and the NDP socialists. It is no secret that the NDP has never been in favour of a healthy and well-funded Canadian military. Under a NDP government, the Canadian Armed Forces' budget would basically be eviscerated. As a result of this romance between the Liberals and the NDP, there is uncertainty among our troops across the country and abroad.
    When Russia invaded Ukraine, all NATO partners were again challenged to meet or maintain the defence spending requirement of 2% of GDP, 20% of which must be allocated to military equipment. This renewed commitment had actually been discussed at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales, in response to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the unrest in the Middle East at that time. NATO leaders agreed to reverse the downward trend in defence spending and decided that the allies already meeting the 2% guideline on defence spending would strive to continue doing so and that the allies spending less than 2% of their GDP on defence would strive to increase that spending in real terms within 10 years.
    That commitment was made in 2014, and now, eight years later, Canada ranks 25th out of the 30 NATO countries in terms of military spending. NATO's latest annual report shows that Canada spent just 1.36% of its GDP on the army and new defence equipment in 2021.
    In contrast, the Conservative Party of Canada declared in its policy statement that a Conservative government will work towards spending at least the NATO recommended 2% of our GDP on national defence. Furthermore, in our latest platform, in 2021, we said, “Canada’s Conservatives will renew Canada’s commitment to NATO by increasing spending on national defence to move closer to our 2% aspirations”.
    The large-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia, accompanied by mounting evidence of war crimes in full view of anyone on social media, clearly gives Canada good reason to considerably increase its defence spending.
    There is no doubt that Canada's biggest challenge has always been its procurement system, which involves too many departments and not enough political responsibility. This system essentially created a bottleneck that prevents even the current budget increase from being spent effectively. The lack of political leadership keeps projects from moving quickly. Every independent procurement expert who testified before our committees has said as much.
    According to the most recent public accounts, $1.2 billion of 2021 defence spending was not invested, despite the fact that the Liberal's 2015 election platform explicitly states, “We will not let Canada’s Armed Forces be shortchanged, and we will not lapse military spending from year to year.” However, last month the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report detailing how the Liberals are constantly pushing spending to coming years. In other words, the Liberals have consistently broken their promise to invest in new equipment.
    To be honest, when the “Strong, Secure, Engaged” defence policy was published in 2017, I was impressed. During a meeting of the Standing Committee on National Defence, at the time, I remember saying to the chief of the defence staff and the Minister of Defence that 80% of what was in the white paper advocated a Conservative approach. I asked how they were going to fund it. The told me that the decision was not theirs to make. We saw what happened next.

  (1035)  

    At the same time, Canada's defence policy entitled “Strong, Secure, Engaged” demonstrates how the Liberals calculate defence investments so as to meet NATO criteria. It is as though they are comparing this year's 1.34% with the Conservatives' percentage, which the Liberals estimate at just under 1%. We need to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
    The Liberals added elements to the NATO calculations. There are ongoing discussions about applying the same yardstick. Certain elements have been included, such as payments made to veterans. They were not part of the NATO calculations, nor were peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, defence-related IT support, centrally funded defence personnel expenditures, or support for defence programs.
    The Liberals took a look and, anywhere they saw the word “defence” or “veteran”, they decided they would take that and put it all together to inflate the percentage so they could say that they are doing more. That is the big difference between what was done by the Conservatives at the time, in other words, real and actual defence work, and the other things that the Liberals picked at here and there.
    We know that the Liberals are sneakily trying to cover up their failure. However, Canadians are not fools. They see what the Liberals are doing. The only major project that the Liberals have completed in nearly seven years is buying a bunch of rusted-out CF-18s from Australia for $360 million. We congratulate them on that.
    With regard to Ukraine, Canada can and must do more. We have a lot of surplus military vehicles that could be dispatched around the clock with our C-17s. However, the government has not indicated whether it has even considered such action. We could also call upon third parties to buy air defence equipment, such as Stinger missiles or drones and send them to Ukraine. Once again, the senior officials who appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates repeatedly suggested that these ideas are not even being considered right now.
     Furthermore, all military purchases under this Liberal government are or have been delayed. For example, when will Canada sign the notorious F-35 contract? We have been in the consortium for decades. Why do we have to wait seven months to enter into dialogue with Lockheed Martin? We have already been talking to them for quite a while now. In addition, when will construction on the polar icebreakers begin? Why is the Davie shipyard still not officially part of the national shipbuilding strategy? What is this government waiting for? How are we going to protect Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic? The NORAD alert system is totally obsolete. Has the government considered purchasing airborne warning and control system aircraft? What are we doing to speed up the procurement process? What is the status of the submarine replacement program?
    In addition, this partnership between the Liberals and the NDP is a pretty good indication that this government is unlikely to increase investments in the Canadian Armed Forces in the short term. Indeed, how many times have we heard NDP statements or resolutions calling for Canada to withdraw completely from NATO?
     When we, the Conservatives, were in power, we finalized the purchase of five C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft, 17 CC-130J Hercules transport aircraft, 15 Chinook helicopters and some Leopard 2 tanks. We modernized the CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft and the Halifax class frigates. We approved the construction of the Asterix auxiliary supply ship, which the Liberals tried to cancel at their first cabinet meeting in 2015, despite Admiral Norman's objections. We established the national shipbuilding strategy, which, despite all its problems, is finally starting to produce some ships, such as the Coast Guard's science vessels and the Arctic offshore patrol ships.
    The Conservative government has always taken the need to provide adequate funding to our Canadian Armed Forces seriously, whereas the Liberals are known for spewing empty rhetoric. I will close by saying this. Let us do better in military procurement, let us be efficient and let us ensure we have the means to do so.

  (1040)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his intervention today. I know that when he and I were on the defence committee together a number of years ago, I believe it was in 2016 or 2017, the defence committee had brought forward a report that had a recommendation in it. It was the opinion of the committee at the time to increase defence spending to 2% of GDP, notwithstanding the fact that there can be a lot of complications with respect to that 2%, because not every country calculates it the same way.
    Can the member comment on what, if any, work the committee has done since my time with him on that committee in terms of making any further recommendations around this issue?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question.
    I am no longer a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence, so I am not completely up to date on all the reports that have been produced over the past five years, but the fact remains that the 2% issue keeps coming up. Something tangible needs to be done. The budgets have been lacking the past few years. For example, there is the “Strong, Secure, Engaged” policy. The committee can say what it wants, and it makes recommendations in its reports that are often quite good, but the government never follows through.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is some catching up to do when it comes to equipment. My colleague talked about that. The national shipbuilding strategy is very costly and is experiencing near‑record delays.
    Would immediately fast-tracking the inclusion of a third shipyard be a solution not only to improve this 2%, but also to increase youth engagement in our naval force and in shipbuilding?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. Everything having to do with defence forms a big circle. Having operational resources and good, modern equipment encourages young people to enrol in the Canadian Forces and serve their country.
    I doubt that 17- or 18-year-olds are reassured by what is happening with the jets and the ships. They are not sure what is going to happen. Eventually, they will decide to do something else with their life.
    An acquaintance of mine, who had dual French and Canadian citizenship and wanted to be a pilot, decided to return to France after seeing the state of the F‑18s compared to France's aircraft. Now he is piloting French jets. That just proves that we really do not have anything to offer that would appeal to young Canadians, unfortunately.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles has missed a couple of things. I know he was only elected in 2015, so he missed the fact that the Conservatives let defence spending drop to its lowest level since the 1930s while they were in government. He seems to have missed that the NDP has voted for every increase in military spending since 2016. He also seems to have missed that the NDP changed its policy on NATO nearly 30 years ago.
    I wonder if the hon. member would like to explain how the Conservatives have gone from taking defence spending to its lowest level ever to now endorsing an arbitrary doubling of defence spending.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. Those were different times. Let us not forget Afghanistan and spending on the operation in Afghanistan. The equipment I mentioned in my speech was purchased by the Conservatives to quickly meet an urgent need to support the troops.
    Ask anyone who was in the Canadian Armed Forces when the Conservative government was in power if they were ashamed to serve their company, and no one would say they were. The military knew very well that the Conservative government was there to support them to the fullest extent, and that it could react quickly and send in the operational equipment that was needed on the ground. That is more important than any speech.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank and congratulate my colleague for the good work that he does at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and on this type of national security file.
    I filled in for my colleague once at a committee. At that meeting, we learned that contracts to upgrade radar systems in the Canadian Arctic had not been awarded.
    Are there concerns about the government's refusal to upgrade radar systems in the Canadian Arctic?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Lévis—Lotbinière. The Arctic is an immense and complex area that requires surveillance. Essentially, that requires an effective radar system. At present, the radar system in place is outdated. The government has stated that it has invested more than $600 million, but that is for standard maintenance. It is not deploying any new equipment. The U.S. is worried and is asking us to do our fair share and invest in equipment in order to provide air and maritime surveillance as quickly as possible.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West this morning.
    I rise in the House to talk about the progress we have made in implementing Canada's defence policy of Strong, Secure, Engaged. When we first released SSE back in 2017, we provided a comprehensive list of capital projects, policies and procedures to ensure that our military could meet our biggest defence and security threats now and into the future. To help fund these items, SSE also forecasted a steady increase in defence spending from $18.9 billion in 2017-18 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27. That is an increase of 70% to our defence spending. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia's unprovoked war in Ukraine and the myriad of other defence and security challenges we have faced over the past five years, we were already on track to increase defence spending by more than 70%.
    While SSE remains our main guide for making sure CAF members are well supported and well equipped, the evolving global security environment has underscored just how important and urgent our investments in defence are. That is why, as both the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence have indicated, we will be further increasing our investments in defence, including a comprehensive spending package going toward continental defence.
    With that in mind, I want to give the House an update on the progress that DND has made in implementing this policy so far, and on the work that we are doing to safeguard our country and continent and support our allies and partners in good times and in bad. Key to these efforts is having a well-supported, resilient workforce that feels safer coming to work every day. When DND launched SSE in 2017, it included several critical initiatives aimed at supporting CAF members and their families throughout their entire careers. This included developing a total health and wellness strategy with the goal of supporting defence team members' mental and physical well-being at all times.
    I am pleased to note that National Defence launched this strategy earlier last month. Over the next several years, it will invest more than $950 million to enhance health and wellness programs and services for defence team members, including expanding the Office of Disability Management by adding more regional offices across the country, providing personalized support services to injured, ill and impaired public service employees, and improving care for Canadian Armed Forces members who are recovering from an illness or injury. Through SSE, National Defence has also done important work expanding the services offered to military families through military family resource centres, and has helped address the challenges that come with a life in uniform through the seamless Canada initiative, which helps to address gaps in service when military families are posted across the country and must navigate new school systems, careers and health care settings.
    These are just a couple of the initiatives in SSE aimed at supporting defence team members and their families. We know that Canada's position in the world and our safety and security here at home come down to the well-being of those who serve in it. All that we do, from procurement to health care to cultural change, must be focused on the people who put service before self, the members of our Canadian Armed Forces.
    At the same time, we know that our people in uniform need the right equipment to do the difficult jobs that we ask of them. They need state-of-the-art fit-for-purpose tools that can meet the challenges of modern warfare across all domains. In SSE, National Defence outlined over 300 capital projects critical to our military success and our continued interoperability with allies and partners for decades to come. While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly contributed to project delays and supply chain disruptions, we remain committed to delivering on these projects, providing the very best equipment for our people in uniform while ensuring Canada's economy benefits from our defence investments.
    Despite the challenges of the past few years, we are making progress. In fact, since 2017, 75% of the policy's capital projects, which is 258 projects, are in the implementation phase, near completion or completed. Several high-profile projects kept moving forward even as much of the world shut down.

  (1050)  

    Just last week, the Minister of Public Service and Procurement and the Minister of National Defence announced that Canada was moving into the finalization phase of the future fighter competition with Lockheed Martin and the U.S. government. If an agreement is successfully reached, Canada could see initial aircraft deliveries as early as 2025. This is the most significant investment in the Royal Canadian Air Force in over 30 years, so we have been taking the time. We need to get this right and ensure that we are purchasing the right jet with the right value for CAF and Canadians.
    We have taken the same careful, considered approach to building our fleet of Arctic and offshore patrol ships for the Royal Canadian Navy. The first of these ships, HMCS Harry DeWolf, has already participated in missions like Operation Nanook and Operation Caribbe, and has transited through the Panama Canal. It also recently completed a circumnavigation of North America, the first Royal Canadian naval ship to do so since 1954. The second ship, HMCS Margaret Brooke, has completed the ship's icebreaking and Arctic environmental trials and will return to Arctic waters to participate in the maritime portion of Operation Nanook this summer. The third, fourth and fifth AOPS are in various stages of construction, with the construction of the sixth AOPS expected to begin later this year.
    As we deliver on these critical projects for our navy and air force, we are also delivering on our promise to provide the Canadian army with a fleet of 360 armoured combat support vehicles. These vehicles have been designed to replace our current fleet of LAV II Bison and M113 tracked LAV fleet. They are more mobile with longer operational range, better equipped to conduct operations at night and in bad weather and safer for our people in uniform, offering improved protection against weapons and explosives. The first of these vehicles are expected to be delivered to the Canadian army later this year.
    The investments under Canada's defence policy ensure that we deliver the equipment, infrastructure and innovation to help our military advance our national security objectives and interests. However, they are also critical to our national prosperity, resilience and economic well-being. As the largest federal employer, National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have a significant presence in every province and territory, so investing in defence also means creating more jobs and generating economic benefit for communities from coast to coast to coast. These investments also mean that we are better positioned to support our allies and partners across the globe, including those under threat from Russian aggression.
    Through SSE, we are committed to remaining engaged in the world now and into the future. We are supporting Ukraine in its fight for freedom and self-governance, standing shoulder to shoulder with our NATO allies on Operation Reassurance and Operation Impact, both of which we recently extended, and deploying wherever and whenever CAF support can make a difference. In times of global uncertainty, we know that our mutual relationships are even more important, and our SSE investments will help us remain effective and a reliable, stable partner within NORAD and NATO for decades to come.
    When we launched Strong, Secure, Engaged back in 2017, we made sure that it was flexible enough to deal with a rapidly evolving defence and security environment. This means that while there are certain challenges that DND and CAF could not have anticipated, chiefly the global pandemic, they have remained ready to respond and had the flexibility to adjust timelines accordingly. As we continue discussing ways to increase defence spending, this policy will remain our government's road map, enabling us to strengthen our defences here at home and help uphold peace and security across the globe.

  (1055)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask again about the Cormorant helicopter fleet. My understanding is that these helicopters are reaching their end of life. We are having to cannibalize parts from other helicopters to keep them in the air. They were essential in the search and rescue operations during the floods in British Columbia last summer, and they are a key factor in our air and sea search and rescue operations. Some 360 jobs would come from the upgrading and refurbishment of these helicopters, yet they were budgeted for in 2017 and nothing has happened. Fixing these helicopters would cost about $1.4 billion and would go a long way in helping us meet our NATO target of 2%.
    Could the member comment on that specific project?

  (1100)  

    Mr. Speaker, the safety of our personnel is always top of mind and the RCAF has a robust flight safety program. We know that we need to move forward in looking at a procurement project for these. As the member spoke about, cracks were discovered on the tail of the Cyclone helicopter undergoing a recent maintenance inspection. We know that we need to maintain safe equipment for all members of CAF, and we will make sure that all equipment is capable before it is used.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about the importance of securing the supply chain, which has been weakened during the pandemic.
    I would like to talk about something that is very important for Quebec. The government is set to spend a huge amount of money on F-35s, but there is no guarantee of any industrial or technological benefits. Quebec accounts for more than 50% of Canada's aerospace industry.
    When will the member's government adopt a real aerospace policy that recognizes the importance of this sector, in particular in Quebec? This could help secure our supply chain.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I too share this interest. Being the member of Parliament for Cambridge, we have a number of companies in my riding in the aerospace industry, such as Honeywell, formerly COM DEV, among others. This is something that is critically important to our moving forward to ensure that any procurements, whether it be the fighter jets or others, benefit us not just by having the right equipment for members of CAF but also, wherever possible, by helping our local economies here in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his work on the Standing Committee on National Defence. It has been quite an honour. In terms of the procurement of the new fighter jets, of course, there must be fiscal impact assessments. However, I want to ask and ensure that the government will be performing an environmental impact assessment on this procurement process and also, under our obligations regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, be doing an indigenous impact assessment as well.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the work that she does on the committee. I want to assure all in the House that everything this government does has both an environmental lens attached to it and a first nations lens attached to it. We have ensured and will continue to ensure that we are taking the steps needed to select the right fighter jet at the right price with the right benefits to the Canadian Armed Forces and our economy.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very appreciative to the parliamentary secretary for his excellent work representing the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces. We often can forget that families serve with members, and it is very important that the forces support those family members as well. I am proud to represent Halifax, the home of Canada's east coast navy, and recently home to HMCS Halifax, which has embarked on Operation Reassurance to support our work with NATO with regard to Ukraine, but it leaves the families at home. I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could instruct us on how CAF supports families with the funding we are talking about.
    Mr. Speaker, I will keep my comments brief. I want to thank the member for the question and the work that he does to support the members of the Canadian Armed Forces in his riding. I am very proud of our record on the shift that we have seen over the last number of years, since “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, in supporting families and connecting with them on the issues that make life within the military that much more challenging. The nearly billion dollars that we are spending just on health and wellness alone is a clear sign of our commitment on that front.

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by just giving the context in which this debate is happening. It has been more than a month since President Putin chose to unleash war on Ukraine. With every day that passes, the number of civilians, including children, killed and wounded continues to climb.
    We have witnessed Russian attacks on apartment buildings, public squares, theatres and maternity hospitals. In addition, recent reports and images of what Russian forces carried out in Bucha are horrifying and they are deeply shameful. Let me be clear: We believe that this amounts to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and we are committed to holding President Putin and those supporting him accountable for their actions.
    It is in this context that today's debate gives me the opportunity to strongly assert Canada's long-standing commitment to NATO, an organization whose importance has only become greater since Russia's illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine. Canada and our NATO allies are responding to Putin's aggression with unprecedented coordination as we continue to support the men and women of Ukraine as they defend themselves and fight for their country, their communities, their families and for their very lives.
    It goes without saying that Canada's ties with the Ukrainian people have historical roots that run deep. This is why we were the first western country to recognize Ukraine's independence just over 30 years ago. Since then, we have developed a strong, diplomatic relationship fuelled by a passionate, engaged, intelligent and committed Ukrainian diaspora of over 1.4 million people in Canada.
    In 2014, thousands of Ukrainians stood up for a democratic future. During the Revolution of Dignity, Canada supported activists, human rights defenders and civil society organizations that fought intensely and tirelessly for a free and democratic future. Today, we continue, in response to President Putin's brutality, to defend, to help, to support and to coordinate.
    Canada rejects President Putin's attempts to rob Ukraine of its history, identity, democracy and independence. Putin's war is a blatant violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and threatens our shared security. Ukraine is a proud, sovereign country. Its territorial integrity must be respected. Putin has demonstrated little or no interest in resolving this crisis peacefully. Instead, he is putting millions of innocent lives at risk and causing the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since the Second World War. In response, Canada and the international community have reacted. We are ensuring that President Putin and his neighbours will answer for their horrific and deeply shameful actions.
    That is why we referred this issue very early on to the International Criminal Court. That is why we are standing with Ukraine at the International Court of Justice. That is why, with 44 other participating states, we invoked the OSCE Moscow mechanism to establish a fact-finding mission to Ukraine to report on the human rights and humanitarian impacts of Russia's illegal invasion. Importantly, Canada also cosponsored and strongly advocated for the UN General Assembly resolution on Russian aggression against Ukraine.
     We are watching, but we are also acting. We are not waiting. We have been approaching our NATO allies, our OSCE allies and those around the world to ensure a coordinated response to this unprecedented aggression. That is why we will not wait until atrocities have been committed. We have been helping Ukraine defend itself. We have been doing that in a variety of ways.
    Since February, in close coordination with our allies, Canada has sanctioned over 700 individuals and entities in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. These are senior members of the Russian government, military and business people: oligarchs, including President Putin and his inner circle. We are suffocating the Putin regime to disable its military network to help end this aggression.
    At the same time, we are helping Ukraine and Ukrainians defend themselves by supplying military support, lethal and non-lethal weapons. We are doing that with our NATO allies. This is the natural extension of Operation Unifier, which has been one of our proudest moments as Canadians and as the Canadian Armed Forces, ensuring that Ukraine's military has not only the tools but also the techniques and ability to defend itself. The secretary general of NATO has commended Canada repeatedly for being a leader in our engagement with Ukraine and ensuring that it has the capacity to defend itself.

  (1110)  

    In addition to Operation Unifier, we have authorized $160 million in military aid to support the Ukrainian armed forces. More than $110 million has already been provided. Since 2015, we have operated in Operation Unifier, training over 35,000 Ukrainian military and security personnel in tactical and advanced military skills through this mission, and we are pleased to announce that will be extended and will continue to March 2025.
    NATO continues to be an important structure, alliance and engagement for the Canadian military to operate at its best. Canada is unequivocally and totally supportive of NATO, and our commitment to the alliance will continue under article 5 of the Washington Treaty. In the face of evolving threats, we understand the need to invest. We need to continue investing in our military. We continue under our defence policy of Strong, Secure, Engaged to reverse the Conservative spending cuts that happened during their decade in power and bring it back up to a level where Canadians can be proud. That is why we have announced an over 70% increase and are ensuring that the Canadian Armed Forces are prepared for a rapidly changing security environment.
    Our allies are also increasing their defence spending and Canada must be ready to meet all the threats we are perceiving at the same time as our NATO allies will be engaged. Our government's policy and budgets generally align with the commitments laid out by the Wales Summit Declaration.
    Let us be clear. Conservatives, who for a decade had big rhetoric about defence spending, had the chance to step up, had the chance to invest in NATO, had the chance to invest in our armed forces and instead decided to step back. They decided to cut our contributions and to cut our spending. We will take no lessons from the Conservatives, who allowed military spending to drop below 1% of GDP in 2013. They talk big, but when they had the opportunity to make a difference, to increase capacity, to increase engagement, they backed away. They stepped down.
    After that decade, we are rebuilding the Canadian Armed Forces through a procurement strategy that is robust, intelligent and thoughtful, but we will also be engaging in the world diplomatically and through development and humanitarian assistance. Just in Ukraine, for instance, we have already provided $145 million in humanitarian assistance, which has now been fully allocated to experienced agencies like the Red Cross, the UN and other NGO partners. We are addressing gaps in the relief pipeline by delivering over 375,000 items from our stockpile. Humanitarian assistance and development is one of the building blocks for security. We will not abandon humanitarian assistance and development aid, while at the same time increasing military spending. They do necessarily go hand in hand to build a secure world.
    We are also in the 21st century and this is a 21st-century war that requires 21st-century responses. That is why we are attempting to deal with the disinformation, propaganda and lies from Russia in the face of this aggression. That is why we have announced $13.4 million to the G7 rapid response mechanism to counter Putin's disinformation. We will continue to provide money, over $10 million per year, for a peace and security program that supports fragile democracies, ensuring that we do this together.
    In closing, we want to build our military capacity. We want to be a continued best spender. We are already sixth in our NATO alliance with respect to spending, but we will also continue to provide the necessary humanitarian and development assistance, as well as necessary supports for fragile democracies and necessary supports to counter disinformation campaigns.
    We will continue to work. We are proud of our Canadian Armed Forces. We are proud of our NATO alliance.
    Mr. Speaker, I heard my colleague across the way say, with respect to the Strong, Secure, Engaged defence plan, that the government is continuing to spend. I know we are in a position right now where the rest of the world is trying to impress upon Canada the need to get to 2% spending. The current government promised it would not lapse spending, but in the three years leading up to the end of the fiscal year of 2021, we have seen a $10-billion lapse in that spending.
    Can he account for that, given that when COVID started we were printing new money at $5 billion a week? Can he put this into perspective as to where we are today?

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, to be really clear, it was the Conservatives who cut billions of dollars. In this government, in a very brief six-year period, we are already finalizing a deal to acquire 88 new fighter jets for the RCAF; we are delivering the first Canadian-built ship in 20 years to the Canadian Navy; we are acquiring six offshore patrol vessels, of which two have already been delivered to the navy; we are beginning construction on a joint support ship that will provide at-sea replenishment as well as 4,000 jobs in Canada; and we are delivering rifles to our Rangers. This is real procurement and real work. We are getting the job done.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we will certainly support the idea of increasing defence spending to 2% of GDP. My issue is not with these investments.
    We have long been calling for predictability from the government, in this sector and in others. It is pretty disgraceful to see the way the government acts and the fact that the army has to buy its own boots.
    Will this money be depoliticized? Can the government guarantee that the money will address the real needs?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I commend the member for her comments. However, I want to draw her attention to our very important 2017 report, “Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada's Defence Policy”. It shows our plan. It is transparent; it is evolving; it is continuing. We are investing in the Canadian Armed Forces on land, at sea and in the air. We are providing the equipment needed. We are doing it steadily. We are doing it intelligently, however, as well. We do not want to fall into the messes of previous governments. We are continuing to do it in a careful and steady way.
    Mr. Speaker, I am the person who represents 19 Wing in Comox. I can tell members that I have spent a lot of time at the base there, and I am very impressed by the capacity and the ability of the people who serve our country. I also know that they do not have the things they need. What happened recently in Gander with a Cormorant helicopter was a scary moment. It is very scary to recognize that the people who are serving us and trying to keep us safe do not have the equipment they need to do that work.
    I am wondering if the member could talk about when the government will actually make sure the military has the resources it needs to do the jobs Canada asks of it.
    Mr. Speaker, again I commend the member for her work. One of the best weeks I had as an opposition member was a week at Greenwood air force base at the other end of the country. That was an opportunity to spend some time with the men and women of the air force. My father was one of those “gentlemen of the air force”, as he called himself. I had that experience of being in helicopters, being on supply aircraft and even being on a fighter jet to look at the way Canada's armed forces are equipped.
     I would say that it would be absolutely denigrating to say that they are not equipped. What they need is for the equipment to be constantly refurbished and upgraded as we continue. That is why we are getting 88 new fighter jets for our RCAF and acquiring 28 CH-148 Cyclone helicopters, and that is why we will get additional equipment to build on what that capacity already is and do it proudly.
    I have to say, as the representative for 14 Wing Greenwood, that it was great to see that you had a good time in the beautiful riding of West Nova.
    The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech and I really reflected on the part about how the Conservatives have been all talk and no action. When he said that, I was immediately reminded of Stephen Harper's interaction with Vladimir Putin back in 2014, when Stephen Harper said Putin had better get out of Ukraine, or something to that effect. We all know how that turned out. That was basically pointless and did not serve any purpose, while at the same time the Conservative government was spending less than 1% of GDP, as the member indicated.
    I am wondering if he can speak to how important it is that we make sure that our spending level is where it needs to be and also, as he noted earlier, make sure that we are doing the proper diplomatic measures so that we are handling our impact on the global stage from both a monetary perspective and a dialogue perspective.
    Mr. Speaker, I am hoping to get one extra minute for that mention of Greenwood.
    As I said, diplomacy, defence and development are three prongs of what we need to be doing. We need to engage diplomatically around the world. We need to make sure that we have intelligence, that we have information and that we have appropriate relationships to build alliances and build allegiances while we are also working on our military alliances and while we are also continuing to develop and provide humanitarian assistance. We will do that.
     Ukraine is one example of election monitoring, of Unifier and of diplomatic relationship of which we have been very proud.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.
    I am pleased to rise to speak to a Conservative motion on this opposition day because it will give members of the Bloc Québécois an opportunity to explain our position on defence and especially on defence-related spending. I want to begin by saying that the Bloc Québécois intends to support today's motion.
    However, I will be using some of my time to point out that there should be some caveats to this because, if all we do is vote yes or no to increasing the budget, as though this is a black-and-white issue with no real grey area, then we are not really addressing the main issues currently affecting the Canadian military.
    If we are talking about increasing spending on national defence to 2% of GDP, which is what Canada promised NATO it would do in 2014, then the issue for the Bloc Québécois is not really “how much”, but “how”.
    For the past several weeks, this issue has come up in different ways during the Standing Committee on National Defence's study of the various threats to Canada's security. On March 21, I asked a panel the following question with regard to the budget increase: “Should the question mainly be ‘how much’ or shouldn't it also be ‘how’?”
    I would like to quote some excerpts from what three of the witnesses said in answer to that question, because they presented two caveats that I want to talk about.
    First, James Fergusson, a professor at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies in the department of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said the following. The quote is a bit long, but I think it is quite relevant.
     It's not really a question of increasing the defence budget per se. The question is, how much, over what period of time and, particularly, dedicated to what acquisitions independent of operations and maintenance, and independent...of the problems of recruitment.
     If you want to punch this money into or funnel it into expanding the Canadian Armed Forces, recruitment and retention are a big problem, and you're probably in a real difficulty.
    However, unless we know where they're going to invest, that becomes a different problem. It raises the question, which this government doesn't want to do—no governments want to do it once they do defence once—about the need for a defence review.
    Mr. Fergusson went on to add the following:
    Remember that National Defence, over the past many years—I think in every year I can remember—continues to give back money to the central agency. I might be wrong about the number, but I think last year it was $1.1 billion that was returned. Well, that's a problem. You can commit money, but the question is, where do you spend it...for what ends? That's an open question to this day in Canada.
    Associate professor Robert Huebert of the Department of Political Science at the University of Calgary had this to say:
     Let's recognize that the 2% increase, when it was created by NATO, is a political target. Once again, what we're really talking about is, what is the need for the effect of the Canadian Forces going into this new environment? It really comes down to the ability to deter growing aggressor states and fight in a collective security environment should that deterrence break down.
     When we went into the immediate post-Cold War period, we of course went through what many democratic countries saw as the ability to save money on defence, because there wasn't a fear that we had to deter anyone and we weren't going to be called upon to fight. That has obviously changed since at least 2014—I would argue 2008.
     The question is, okay, 2% sounds good in terms of making a commitment, but it's really getting to that capability...in terms of having the types of forces that you will be able to recruit and bring in to actually give effect to it.
     It really gets to the heart of what you're asking, and that is that we need to have an ability to go beyond just simply saying, okay, 2% or 1.9%. Those are numbers.
    Professor Stephen Saideman, who holds the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University, said, and I quote:
    I would just jump in here and say that we also have to think a little more about how we do our procurement, because it's often seen as a jobs program for electoral political benefit, as opposed to what is best for what we need.
    For instance, we're seeing in Ukraine a variety of defence systems that are working really well.... Should we build our own anti-tank weapons when there are very good ones out there? Should we build our own anti-aircraft weapons when there are very good ones out there?
     We need to be a little more realistic about what our own defence industry can do and what it should do, and this leads to a challenge that we've had in our country. We feel that once we start building up a defence industry, it must be kept busy with a variety of projects: “Well, we need to sell LAVs [light armoured vehicles] to Saudi Arabia.”
     If we think about our defence industry for a minute, we need to think about whether it makes sense for us to have domestic producers of all the stuff, because it puts us in the difficult position of trying to find ways to keep them busy in between our own major projects. We need to think a little more about buying from other folks.

  (1125)  

    Essentially, when I asked at the meeting whether we should, or should not, increase the defence budget to 2% of the GDP, the three witnesses made it a point to take into account two important aspects, namely the human resources issue, which includes the pressing problem of personnel recruitment and retention, and the procurement issue, which is currently impacting the Canadian Armed Forces.
    With respect to procurement, as James Fergusson mentioned in his testimony, year after year, National Defence generally returns more than $1 billion of its budget because it has not spent the money. This is symptomatic of a cumbersome, slow, inefficient and extremely politicized procurement system.
    Broadly speaking, the Bloc Québécois is not particularly concerned about the Liberal government’s ability to spend, or, more aptly, to throw money out the window, and that is precisely what we do not want, spending for the sake of spending.
    A recent example of the government’s ability to spend for the sake of spending is the dithering over the acquisition of the new fighter jets. After saying “anything but F-35s” seven years ago, the government spent hundreds of millions of dollars to extend the life of our old CF-18s. In the meantime, it paid a premium to purchase Australian F-18s that needed millions of dollars in upgrades. All that to finally go back to square one and announce the purchase of the F-35s.
    In addition to spending, there are problems like the naval strategy, obsolete military equipment, the lack of air defence capability and the fact that the army was long unable to provide its members with something as simple as boots, asking soldiers to buy them themselves and then apply for a reimbursement. One of the questions we should ask the government in the future about the various procurement projects is whether the regional benefits have been maximized.
    Given that, in the mid-2010s, the government abolished the “regional” aspect of industrial and technological benefit obligations, and that more than 50% of aerospace production comes from Quebec, it is to be expected that the Bloc Québécois would pay close attention to anything relating to the acquisition of military drones, for example, especially since this is a burgeoning industry in Quebec.
    With respect to recruitment and retention, the Standing Committee on National Defence is currently examining that issue. This is a study the Bloc Québécois called for. The question that arises is the following: What is the point of increasing the National Defence procurement budget if it does not have the personnel needed to manage it?
    For example, the Royal Canadian Air Force is paying a high price for its low personnel retention rate. It has a shortage of experienced pilots and technicians. Because of our old aircraft, each hour of flight requires more than 35 hours of maintenance. In 2018, the Auditor General released a devastating report on the state of the air force, revealing that it has only 64% of the qualified CF-18 pilots it needs and that 22% of technician positions are either vacant or filled by unqualified technicians.
    The personnel shortage also impacts the support we can provide our allies, and Canada is becoming less and less of a credible partner in this respect. For example, NATO countries are currently taking part in Operation Cold Response in Norway. Some 30,000 allied soldiers are participating. Canada is sending a grand total of 10 people.
    I asked Major-General Paul Prévost about this on March 9. Not only did he confirm that the fact that we were sending only 10 people had nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine, since the decision was made long before the conflict, but he also added something quite troubling. He said, “Currently in the Canadian Forces, some of the threats to our operational readiness are related to the number of people we have.”
    In short, the National Defence budget cannot and should not be increased without a review of the procurement processes. We also need an in-depth review of the recruitment and retention issue. That is unavoidable.
    I will make a brief aside here before concluding, because the question of how to finance the increase to the National Defence budget may be raised, since we are talking about an additional $16 billion per year if we want to reach 2% of the GDP.
    My colleagues can decide whether it is fair to see a connection between the two, but I will simply mention that, on average, the federal government finances fossil fuels to the tune of $14 billion a year.
    In conclusion, the Bloc Québécois is focused far more on the “how” than on the “how much,” and the “how” will inevitably require some serious soul-searching about the army’s procurement methods and short- and medium-term solutions to recruitment and retention problems.

  (1130)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with a warming climate, we are seeing the impacts of climate change: raging forest fires, flooding and other types of natural disasters. In my home province last year, over 350 military personnel had to go to the interior to fight forest fires. We saw what happened to Lytton, B.C.
    I really believe it is time for Canada to provide not just the manpower to tackle climate emergencies, but also the proper equipment and technology. In the U.S., it is common practice to use C-130s, CH-47s and Black Hawks to support aerial firefighting capacities and we are not doing that here in Canada. There is a company in my riding, Coulson Aviation, that is supporting the Argentinian, Chilean, Bolivian, American and Australian militaries, yet Canada is not doing that.
    Could my colleague speak about this? Does she believe that the Canadian Armed Forces are not well equipped to deal with these natural disasters in Canada and that there is going to be further demand with a warming climate? Does she agree that improvements need to be made so that the Canadian Armed Forces are able to respond to these incidents here in our own country?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this is a very interesting question that we will have to consider. It is likely that we will be seeing an increasing number of extreme climate events in the future. Who will respond?
    Will it be systematically up to the regular forces, because they are the best equipped? Maybe not. Perhaps we should consider another model, for example a paramilitary militia dedicated to this type of response. It could be made up of people who are less interested in combat and the more traditional nature of the army and might be more interested in this type of response, like the Rangers. We could train them accordingly.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned recruitment in her speech and the struggles we have. Does she think this is due to the fact that when our veterans complete their duty of service, the government does not provide them with the health services they need to transition back to regular life?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, that is not the only issue with recruitment and retention. There are many others.
    One of the problems that comes up the most often but that could be resolved quickly and practically is the issue of housing. Forces members struggle to find housing or run into high housing prices in the places they are relocated to. Some make a bit of money, but others lose a lot. There are fewer and fewer military housing units where families can stay. Forces members are increasingly being asked to transfer when it is not necessarily justified.
    That is one of the issues we can address. That being said, the entire veterans file is obviously important. My colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles does a lot of work with francophone veterans on the processing times for their claims, which are much longer than average.

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, what a magnificent speech. I am captivated. If I did not know the hon. member for Saint-Jean, I would ask her for her phone number. Fortunately, we know each other well.
    She referred several times to a regional distribution of benefits. I am from Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, which has the largest military air base, where the aging CF-18s are kept. However, I would like to point out that we did not receive the promised drones, which will probably go to another military base.
    I would ask my well-informed colleague if, in her opinion, Quebec is receiving its fair share of military investments.
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting question that unfortunately I cannot answer, because, around 2014, the federal government abolished the regional aspect of industrial and technological benefits.
    As a result, we no longer know where the money goes. We can guess that it goes where it is more helpful for election purposes.
    What we are hearing through the grapevine is that, since then, Quebec has not been doing anywhere near as well, although it accounts for 50% of aerospace production.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to cite a Latin proverb. My Latin is not very good, but long live Astérix. Si vis pacem para bellum, which means, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”
    I never liked this proverb, but I have to say it is still necessary, even in 2022. I hope that one day we will manage to live in a world where conflicts will be resolved through diplomacy, intellectual skills, open-mindedness, collaboration and consensus building.
    National defence is a means of ensuring not only our own security and safety, but also the security and safety of populations under threat, whether those threats are natural or political and human.
    Today, we are talking about fulfilling our commitment as a NATO country to devote 2% of our GDP to national defence spending. My colleague eloquently explained that the Bloc Québécois agrees, but we still need to know how to manage our groceries.
    I was trained as a teacher, and I like to make things simple, to explain complicated things using simple words. When I say that we have to know how to do our groceries, we must know what we have in stock, see if it is still good, and then determine what we need before we go out shopping.
    According to the Auditor General's report 3, released in the spring of 2020, National Defence does not know exactly what it has in its inventory and does not know how to account for it. There is a lot of confusion. As my colleague stated earlier, National Defence returns more than $1 billion per year to the central budget as a result of underspending. That is problematic.
    The commitment was made in 2014, but we have yet to meet it. We must ask ourselves questions. What is military spending? What should it include? Military procurement is fraught with problems. What is going on? There are other problems we must examine as well, because it is all interrelated.
    What is considered military spending? Naturally, it includes arms, which my colleagues spoke about at length. That said, we need arms and military means of transportation that are up-to-date and functional. For example, the CF-18s are outdated. They require more than 30 hours of maintenance for every flight hour. How much maintenance do the Australian F/A-18 Hornets need? It is difficult to know. I asked the question several times in committee and did not get an answer, so I do not know how many maintenance hours are required for every flight hour on the F/A Hornets.
    It would be nice to have helicopters that do not crash and submarines that do not catch fire. Our submarines spend more time under repair than under water.
     Canada ordered six Arctic and offshore patrol ships, but they cannot go to the Arctic in the winter because the ice is too thick, so they patrol the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. If they are called “Arctic” ships, maybe they should be able to patrol the Arctic. We have “polar” ships instead, except that two polar ships for all of northern Canada is not a lot.
    The government bought C6A1 machine guns, first introduced in 1958, for $28,000 each. We have Browning Hi-Power pistols, first produced in 1935, which was before the Second World War.
    Our anti-tank weapons are not much better. Canada has the Carl Gustaf 84 mm and the M72, both of which have an effective range of approximately 300 metres and fire straight, right at where tanks are best protected. That 300-metre range is not much compared to other countries' anti-tank capacity.

  (1140)  

    Our radar systems are also outdated, and I could go on. All of this falls under procurement. No one is checking and upgrading the equipment.
    I remember hearing about how, a long time ago, our soldiers were sent into battle in the desert with green uniforms. That is also something to be considered with respect to procurement.
    How about training, which is also part of the 2%? Training needs to be done with new equipment. We need to ensure that our students are training with the same equipment they will be using, not with outdated equipment. Retention also involves ensuring that our soldiers can use the equipment they were trained on.
    Young people these days are very tech savvy. They want technology. They cannot get enough. I am sorry, but they will not be interested if they are given technology from 1935 or 1958, no matter how noble the mission may be.
    As I said, military procurement is fraught with problems. The military does not know what is in its inventory and is unable to respond to emergencies, even during training and exercises.
    The Auditor General of Canada wrote about this in report 3 from the spring of 2020. The military does not always seem to know what it has in stock. The report also mentions requests submitted to a warehouse that turned out not to have the equipment in stock. It was requested from another warehouse but was not available there either. It had to be purchased. Imagine the delays.
    There are men and women waiting for training, and they need this in order to be up to date. The request was even marked “urgent”. In one case, the request involved parachutes. How can someone train to jump out of a plane if they have no parachute? Urgent means urgent. The delays are unbelievable. The tracking systems are as outdated as the equipment.
    If defence spending is to be increased to 2%, it must include a major overhaul of both the supply systems and the supply sources. The challenges of knowing where the equipment is and making it available also create other problems, including not being able to use the military's equipment transportation system and being forced to ask private carriers to do the military's job. This adds to costs, and I have not even touched on the mistakes of dithering over the F-35s and the national shipbuilding strategy.
    Another problem with procurement and obsolescence is recruitment. I mentioned this briefly. Another recruitment problem has to do with the Canadian Armed Forces' reputation when it comes to its treatment of women and certain minorities and genders. That needs to stop. Let us put ourselves in the shoes of someone who is being harassed and touched against their will. Imagine this is happening to a member of Parliament or one of their children. This cannot be tolerated from members of the Canadian Armed Forces, no matter how much stress they are under.
    I want to get back to the obsolete technology, which is something we hear all the time. I am not a fan of the Latin expression Si vis pacem para bellum, which makes me uncomfortable. However, we are behind in terms of our technological and industrial defence capabilities. This means that not only are we unable to defend those who need it most, but we also cannot defend ourselves.
    This investment will yield returns because it involves training in engineering, welding, shipbuilding, aircraft manufacturing, information technology and more. We have the brains here, and the government needs to stop calling on Silicon Valley. Let us invest for ourselves and for others. Most importantly, let us improve our procurement system, which might as well be from the Middle Ages.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I think it is no secret that Thursday's budget is going to give the Liberal government quite a windfall on the revenue side because of increased oil and gas revenues, corporate taxes and personal taxes, all from the oil and gas sector, which every member of the House outside of the Conservative opposition is trying to phase out.
    Because of this windfall the government is going to be receiving, an unexpected windfall, would this be the right time to meet the objective that has been laid out in this particular motion?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the oil industry will completely disappear. I think that there are some things we will always need.
    However, the oil industry must be drastically downsized if we want to maintain our environment for future generations. Yes, the industry brings in money. Part of this money could be used to achieve the 2% target. It is up to us to decide as members of Parliament.
    Reducing our oil consumption can only help, maybe not us, but our children and grandchildren. A real statesperson thinks about the future and future generations, not about the next election.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, here we have a Conservative motion. I find it very fascinating for the simple reason that, when I was in the opposition back in 2013, the Conservatives' spending as a percentage of GDP was actually less than 1%. That was in 2013. Now, we have advanced considerably further than that, and we will wait and see what takes place in the budget.
    Does the member not agree that there is a bit of irony there, with the Conservative Party saying 2%? Back in 2013, when the Conservatives were in government and I sat in the opposition benches, their spending was actually at less than 1% of the GDP.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I began my speech with proverb. I will now begin my answer with another proverb: Only fools never change their mind.
    That being said, when we make a decision, whether it is personal, general, political or governmental, we choose one of the best solutions at the time. It may not be the best decision in hindsight, but, under the circumstances, it was the best choice.
    Today we are realizing that we made a mistake that we need to correct. Let us not be fools; let us simply correct it.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when my hon. colleague spoke, she addressed the sexual misconduct crisis in the military. I sat on the status of women committee when we heard testimony from the incredibly brave, strong women who came forward.
    Two per cent is a huge increase, but certainly there are increases to military spending that could happen in terms of support for women: for those survivors of sexual misconduct in the military. Where would the member like to see some of those increases to military spending go for supporting those women?

  (1150)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, there is no question that we need to support victims of harassment and sexual assault.
    We talk a lot about women. They are incredibly strong, they get through it, but the impact, the images and the flashbacks are there for life. Let us also consider the other victims of harassment, bullying and sexual assault we rarely talk about: men. Men can also be victims. All of these people need support.
    What we really need is a major change in mentality. Assaulting someone is not being manly, and I will keep my insults to myself.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the MP for Edmonton Strathcona.
    Today, I rise in the House to speak to the opposition day motion proposed by the Conservatives about Canada's future defence spending requirements under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. I have much respect for my colleagues, especially the member for South Surrey—White Rock who introduced this motion, with whom I sit on the Standing Committee for National Defence. I have enjoyed working with her thus far; however, I cannot agree with her today.
    I want to be very clear and ensure that New Democrats are on the record for being in favour of adequate federal government spending for the Canadian Armed Forces. New Democrats have long pushed for the government to make sure that our troops have the equipment, training and support they need to do the difficult and dangerous work we ask them to undertake. We support upgrading outdated equipment and providing a clear mandate, while also providing a realistic and responsible spending plan to deliver on these goals. We need to make sure funding is adequate to support our national and international roles, but should not adopt an arbitrary target for spending.
    Therefore, we cannot support a call for the federal government to increase its defence spending to hit NATO's target of 2% of GDP, as we believe this request from the international military alliance is just that: arbitrary. Members do not have to believe me on this. I will quote Dr. Robert Huebert, associate professor of political science at the University of Calgary, who said:
     “Let's recognize that the 2% increase, when it was created by NATO, is a political target. We need to have the ability to go beyond just simply saying, okay, 2% or 1.9%. Those are numbers. They don't mean anything.”
    I could also quote Dr. Kimball, associate professor of political science from the University of Laval, who said:
    One thing that is clear is that 2% is clearly a political target. Two per cent does not come from any sort of quantitative analysis. It doesn't come from any sort of strategic analysis or anything like that, and I can say that relatively confidently because, in doing my NATO research, I've looked at over 200 pieces of research published on NATO burden sharing—policy papers, books, articles and all of that. The first thing I can say is that 2% is something that politicians created, which defence budgets had to very much react to and try to attain afterwards.
    If 2% is arbitrary, why specifically demand that it be spent? The Conservatives are demanding a huge increase in military spending based on an arbitrary political target. Currently, Canada spends $24.29 billion on the Department of National Defence. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, hitting NATO's 2% target would mean spending $54 billion to $56 billion a year on defence.
    The PBO recently reported that the Department of Defence struggles with actually spending the current allocation of $24 billion, and it delays planned expenditures until later years. Former Liberal MP and retired general Andrew Leslie commented clearly on this inability for the Department of Defence to spend its full allocation, saying:
     The department has a chronic problem with actually using the funds. You can promise the moon and the stars. If you can't get the money out the door, then it's of no value.
    The department cannot spend what it has now, so how can the Conservatives expect it to spend double? I do not believe that we should be spending double our current budget, but there are reasons why we should increase defence spending.
     We in the House know that the Canadian Armed Forces have a significant recruitment and retention problem, and it is absolutely something the federal government needs to address. Each year, the Canadian Armed Forces must select and train thousands of recruits, and retain a substantial number of its trained personnel to maintain operational readiness.
     The CAF comprises approximately 65,800 regular force members, 27,000 reserve force members, 5,200 Canadian rangers and more than 27,000 civilian employees, who support the CAF. At the end of February 2022, we were almost 4,000 people short of the 69,750 funded positions that would make up the CAF's authorized strength. At approximately 37%, the largest portion of DND's budget is allocated for personnel, but of course if it does not have the personnel to pay, it is unable to spend that money that is allocated.
    A lack of inclusion is also a major barrier to both retention and recruitment. The CAF must attract, recruit and retain talent that is representative of Canadian society.
    New Democrats have called on the government to create and fund a special program within the Canadian Armed Forces aimed at the recruitment of women and under-represented groups, as recommended by the Auditor General in 2016.

  (1155)  

    In the last Parliament, I was a member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. We studied the horrific problem of sexual misconduct in the armed forces. This has, of course, impacted the CAF's ability to attract and retain individuals. Articles in Maclean's and l'Actualité in 2014 estimated that 1,780 sexual assaults per year occurred in the CAF.
    New Democrats continue to call on the Canadian government to fully implement all recommendations of Justice Deschamps's 2015 report. Despite having the Deschamps report, the Justice Fish report and two other reports from the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, this Liberal government has delayed action and stated that it will wait yet again for another report from Justice Arbour. It continues to wait. It continues to make women in the CAF wait, and the solutions are already known.
    All women, including women who serve, deserve much better from this government. We need to ensure that women who serve can do so equally. We need to adequately fund the supports for women who serve, and adequately fund the educational programs needed to change the toxic culture within the forces.
    I would add that the Canadian Armed Forces must do a better job of responding to mental health issues among its members. This plays a huge role in retention as well, and it is something that the federal government must invest in for its members. On average, the Canadian Armed Forces still lose one serving member per month to death by suicide.
    My colleague for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke has a bill, Bill C-206, that would remove self-harm from the military code of conduct as a disciplinary offence. By making this change, the government could show leadership and mark a major shift in attitude and policy on mental health. In addition, it could provide more funds for mental health supports to all forces members. It needs to start by recognizing that although not all injuries are visible, those invisible injuries are injuries all the same.
    Again, I say yes to responsible spending for the Canadian Armed Forces, but I return to the question of the arbitrary 2%. If spending was increased to 2%, this would make military spending the largest expenditure of the Government of Canada, even compared with the Canada Health Transfer of $45 billion per year.
    I find this a bit strange for a party that touts fiscal responsibility. Why would the Conservatives push so much for such an incredible increase? When the NDP calls for a national pharmacare program, a national child care program or a national dental care program, they scream bloody murder. When we call for the federal government to put money back into the pockets of taxpayers in the form of services and programs, they say that we are being unrealistic, irresponsible and, dare I say, socialists. This increase in spending that the Conservatives are calling for in today's motion is equivalent to a national pharmacare program and a national dental care program combined.
    New Democrats certainly agree that Canada needs to spend more on defence to make sure we can meet our international obligations and to make sure the Canadian Forces have the support, training and equipment they need. The war in Ukraine, and the growing tensions around the world, demand that we take a serious approach to upgrading and equipping our military. Our armed forces stationed in Latvia and protecting us at home certainly deserve it. Canada needs to be a force for stability in this increasingly unstable international climate, but I do not think we get there by choosing an arbitrary figure. We must plan efficiently, effectively and reasonably.
     Canada can be a stabilizing force by increasing our funding to international humanitarian aid and increasing resources to our diplomatic efforts. We could take a leadership role in fulfilling NATO's goals of creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons. Canada could support the agenda of the NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security with a commitment of additional resources to that agenda, including measures to promote increased recruitment of women in peacekeeping.
    We can increase military spending wisely by streamlining our defence procurement system and ensuring that we get better value for our money by ensuring that money is spent domestically. We can invest intelligently by stopping the outsourcing and privatization of Canadian Forces maintenance and repair work: This is work that has traditionally been done by either DND employees or regular serving members. We can provide those stable, public jobs as part of that domestic economic health. We can invest in the programs and services needed by members of the armed forces, such as supports the department used to provide for members to secure affordable housing, family and medical services.
    All of this is necessary and is a valid argument for responsible defence spending, but to double the budget based on an arbitrary political figure to simply appear as though we are contributing to the international defence community is unsound, and New Democrats will not support such fiscal folly.

  (1200)  

    Mr. Speaker, Russia has a population of about 145 million people and a GDP of $1.7 trillion. Canada's population is 38 million with a GDP of $2 trillion. Russia spends 4% of its GDP on its military, or about $68 billion. In that context, and in the context about the brutal assault of Russia on Ukraine, does the member not agree that a 2% target is a reasonable target, given the state of the world in which we currently live?
    Mr. Speaker, throughout my entire speech, I talked about the increase in funding. I talked about smart procurement. I talked about ensuring we have the equipment to fulfill our international role, but 2% is a political and arbitrary figure. I said that repeatedly. It has been said by experts repeatedly. I say yes to planning long term and yes to ensuring that we have what we need to fulfill that international role, but I say no to a political and arbitrary figure.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned a reasonable spending plan. I think that it is reasonable to devote 2% of the GDP to the army so that it can fill in the gaps in the procurement system, which is slow, and with respect to recruitment, where it is not meeting any of its targets, and personnel retention, which is a major problem.
    Can she explain to me why she opposes the 2% of GDP target?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again, this is a political and arbitrary figure that has been pulled out of the air. In order to meet what we need to fulfill those international obligations, ensure we are keeping people safe around the world and fill those gaps, we have to spend it in a smart, reasonable and responsible way. We need to absolutely invest in terms of recruitment and retention. We need to ensure that the Armed Forces are moving ahead to provide the educational support, training and equipment. Again, 2% is arbitrary, and that would be up to $56 billion. That is a huge amount of money, and that needs to be done in a very smart, responsible way.
    Mr. Speaker, as the member has indirectly, if not directly at times, referenced, Canada does have an obligation to continue to play a strong leadership role. When we think of NATO as an organization and the role it is playing today in Europe, we can quickly understand why it is so critically important to have faith and to support NATO countries, our allies.
    I am wondering if my friend could provide her thoughts on leadership. It is about more than us just speaking. It is also about materializing, and that means supporting our military the best way we can, rather than comparing Canada to other nations. Yes, the member does not want to talk about the hard 2%, but there is an obligation to increase from the low of 1% that it was in 2013. Would she not agree?

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, yes, and through my speech I talked about increasing spending, doing it smartly and doing it in a way that will have significant impacts for the people in the Armed Forces. I also talked about other ways that Canada can play a huge leadership role. In terms of the ending of nuclear weapons, Canada could sign on to the treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons or increase nuclear disarmament. I do not have the exact terminology for that treaty, but these are key ways that we can show leadership. Canada has not signed on yet, and it should.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for London—Fanshawe for her excellent contribution to this debate. She has been a staunch supporter of our women and men in military for many years. I have learned a great deal from her on this topic.
    I would also like to thank the member of Parliament for South Surrey—White Rock for moving this motion, giving us the opportunity to discuss how to support our military and highlight the deplorable state of Canada's military. I am the daughter of a veteran, and the opportunity to stand in this place today and speak about this is vitally important to me.
    As my colleague from London—Fanshawe mentioned, New Democrats have always pushed for the government to make sure that our troops have the equipment, training and support they need to do the very difficult and dangerous work we ask them to undertake. New Democrats have always strongly believed that the federal government must play a larger role in supporting the Canadian Armed Forces. We know that we need a military that can work safely, can get the support that they need when they need it and can count on their policies from our government. What we have seen instead is years of cuts from both Conservative and Liberal federal governments.
     I have to say that I am somewhat amazed at the audacity, I guess, of the Conservatives standing in the House and talking about support for the military, when we saw very clearly the decimation of spending on the military and the abandonment of our peacekeeping efforts under Stephen Harper's Conservative government. I will speak to that a little bit later on, but I do think it is important to note that we are in a place where our military has not been supported by multiple governments.
    Part of the reason that New Democrats believe so strongly in the support of our men and women in the military is because we are the party of working people. We are a party that has always believed that workers have a right and they are entitled to all the tools they need to do their work safely and effectively.
    With regard to the Canadian Armed Forces, that becomes more important, as their job is to protect us, to look after Canadians, to hold Canada's place in the world, to protect Canadians during climate emergencies and to protect Canadians during the COVID pandemic. What we saw the armed forces do in Quebec during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, what we asked them to do, was incredible. If we do not give them the tools to do those jobs, it is a stain on our reputation, on the federal government and on parliamentarians.
    One of my colleagues from the NDP caucus has brought forward the argument that she represents many men and women in the military, in the armed forces, who do not have the tools to do some of the things in Canada that we require them to do, so they do not have the tools to do the search and rescue that we ask them to do. She raised the issue in the House earlier today of helicopters and equipment that we are asking the men and women in uniform to repair by creating their own parts because these supplies are so old and so dated that they can no longer get parts. The military is being asked to patch together things so they can do the incredibly difficult work we are asking them to do, which is unsustainable. It is impossible to sustain.
    Canada, right now, is looking at the world, the world that changed on February 24. I think we all should be looking at Arctic sovereignty. It is very clear that global climate change is making more of Canada's Arctic accessible and that global powers have their eyes on the Arctic as a place to exploit natural resources.
    We have seen what Russian aggression has meant to stability in eastern Europe and the sovereignty of Ukraine. We must be prepared to protect Canada's Arctic from Russia and from other powers that may threaten our sovereignty and our environment. We have to have a plan in place to protect the north, and our armed forces must be that plan. They must be supported to undertake that work.

  (1210)  

    What do New Democrats want? New Democrats want a military where armed forces members can work safely, can get the support they need when they need it and can count on their government to produce policies that will work for them. We want our military to be able to work within NATO. New Democrats have regularly called for the government to take a leadership role within NATO in beginning the work necessary for achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
    I have called many times for the government to sign onto the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We have not done that. At the very least, and I have asked this of the government, ministers, parliamentary secretaries and chairs at the foreign affairs committee, we could send an observation mission to Vienna this June for the first member meeting of the TPNW. I have pushed as hard as I can on this.
    New Democrats want more commitment to peacekeeping. We have pledged 860 members to go into the field as peacekeepers. Canada used to play a vital role in peacekeeping in the world. We have 58 members in the field currently. Before the election in 2015, Trudeau criticized Stephen Harper's government for the decline in the number of—
    Could I remind the hon. member that we do not use member's names?
    Madam Speaker, my apologies.
    The Prime Minister criticized the Conservative government of Stephen Harper for his decline in the number of uniformed personnel. We were, at that time, 66th in our ranking, but since then, it has gone lower and we are now at the 81st—
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Immediately after you asked the member not to use the name of the former prime minister, she used it again.
    We can use the names of former prime ministers and people who are no longer members of the House.
    The hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona.
    Madam Speaker, I would point out to my colleague that the Speaker has outlined why I am allowed to use the name of Stephen Harper.
    We would like to see an improvement in government procurement. As my colleague from London—Fanshawe pointed out, we have not been able to spend the money we have allocated to the armed forces. In fact, we heard Andrew Leslie, a former Liberal MP and retired general, say, “You can promise the moon and the stars. If you can't get the money out the door [and if that is the reality] then it's of no value”.
    I also want to highlight something else that my colleague from London—Fanshawe said. She spoke about what 2% means. The PBO has said meeting that 2% budget would mean $54 billion to $56 billion a year being spent on defence. It would be a doubling of our military spending, which would be over our current $24.29 billion per year. This would make military spending the largest expenditure of the Government of Canada. It would be more than we spend on the health care transfer, which is $45 billion a year.
    We all need to think about that. We all need to think about where Canadians would like to see those investments. I hope I have an opportunity during questions to ask my colleagues within the Conservative Party how they would pay for this. As party members who constantly stand in this place and say taxes and revenue is not something they are interested in, what things would they cut? What things are they interested in cutting away from Canadians for this?
    I would like to talk about humanitarian spending. When we look at defence spending, we must tie it to humanitarian spending. We must look at the fact that in Canada right now, we are spending approximately 0.3% of our gross national income on humanitarian support. We all know that war is a failure. No one wants to go to war. Nobody wants to see what is happening in Ukraine. We need to commit to that humanitarian support, the diplomatic and multilateralism, and the efforts we can do so that we are not required to go to war.
    Yesterday, David Beasley from the World Food Programme came to the international human rights subcommittee. He said that, if we do not invest in food security, humanitarian aid, diplomacy, multilateralism and all of these things, then we will pay 1000 fold in conflict and impacts on populations.
    I will end by thanking every woman and man in our military. I am so proud of all of our people in the Canadian Armed Forces. They punch above their weight. They defend the world's longest coastline covering three oceans. They are experts in all of the work they do, and they are world-renowned. I want to say thank—

  (1215)  

    Madam Speaker, I would echo the appreciation and care that the member just expressed to members of our Canadian Forces for the fantastic job they do in Canada's best interests all the time, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.
    I want to pick up on what I emphasized earlier. If there were no NATO forces or organization, there would be that much more pressure on Canada to spend even that much more of our resources on a military. Because we have a NATO organization, countries around the world come together to protect the common interests of those countries.
    I am wondering if the member could provide her thoughts in regard to why, from her perspective, it is important that Canada meet its NATO obligations in whatever way it can.
    Madam Speaker, I think that Canada has to find its way back to playing an important role on the world stage. Not only has our role within NATO diminished, but our role within the United Nations has diminished, our role in peacekeeping has diminished, our role in diplomacy has diminished and our ability to move things forward has diminished. As a country that used to be a leader in diplomacy and multilateralism and all of these things, including Canadian peacekeeping, which Canadians saw their identity in, we are those things no longer. We spend all of our time investing solely in trade and forget to look at these other areas.
    Yes, I agree with the member that we do need to live up to our obligations within NATO. February 24 changed the world, and we need to also live up to our obligations to the world and other countries.
    Madam Speaker, my one question for the member for Edmonton Strathcona is that I thank her for changing her opinion. On January 31, in an exchange with the member for Calgary Shepard, she said, “Mr. Speaker, I have to disagree with my colleague across the way. Hitting a bully is not the best way to deal with bullying.” We were talking with about Vladimir Putin and Russia. On January 31, this member was against any aggression toward Russia and then, just yesterday, she had an excellent unanimous consent motion passed to provide Ukraine all military assistance possible to defend themselves against Russian aggression.
    One thing I will say about the NDP member is that she does always have the ability to change positions and listen to reason. I want to ask her what made her change her mind, as she is now supporting Ukraine and supporting Canada sending military assistance there after she was so against it.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. I would like to point out that when the member quoted me, we were in a very different world than we are now. Of course, in January, Ukraine had not been invaded to date.
    In fact, in January, we were still trying to find ways to avoid a war. Yesterday, when I stood in the house, I was responding to the crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated by Putin. That had not happened on January 31. I certainly hope every member of the House is able to adapt their opinion to the changing realities that we see on the ground. If we are not able to change our opinion when the world changes, what is the point of us being here?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about another aspect she only touched upon, namely the difficulty in recruiting.
    Does she agree that the Liberals, by filibustering at the Standing Committee on National Defence and the Standing Committee on the Status of Women when they were reviewing the cases of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, only made it more difficult to recruit women? Their objective is 25% by 2026. They are far from that number. Moreover, given the new allegations made public recently, they are not getting any closer.
    Does she agree that they should apply the recommendations in the Deschamps report, which the Liberals still have not implemented?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, of course, I agree 100% with my colleague from the Bloc Québécois. Of course, we should be implementing those so that we can help recruit women. We also need to bring forth the feminist foreign policy. The government has promised this for some time and has not brought forward our feminist foreign policy. We need to do everything we can to make sure that our military is a welcoming space for women who want to contribute and who want to represent Canada. I thank her for her advocacy on this issue.
    Madam Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for me to speak to this motion, seeing that I moved the motion but did not speak to it when it was initially moved in the House.
    Does the member have unanimous consent?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent.
    President Putin and the Russian Federation are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
    Reports from Bucha last weekend of dead Ukrainian civilians with their hands bound behind their backs and others buried in makeshift pits have shocked the world, and these war crimes in Bucha are not all of it. We have seen numerous credible reports of Russia deliberately attacking civilians in other parts of Ukraine. The UN has officially confirmed thousands of civilian casualties, and no doubt the unofficial number is much higher.
    There are other atrocities as well. The Russian military has deliberately destroyed hospitals, schools and apartment buildings. It targeted a Mariupol theatre full of civilians that was clearly marked, and visible from the air, with the Russian word for children. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that Russia deliberately attacked the Mariupol maternity hospital.
    Beyond these war crimes, day after day and week after week for the last five weeks, we have been barraged by countless photographs, videos and reports detailing Russia's indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. Major Ukrainian cities are being levelled. Mariupol, once home to some half a million people, is now 90% destroyed. In Kharkiv, a city once home to 1.4 million Ukrainians, some 600 buildings have been destroyed. The list goes on. The data and images have come so fast and furious in the last five weeks it is hard to process all of it, but one thing is abundantly clear: The world has changed, and Canada must change with it.
    The attack on Ukraine by President Putin and the Russian Federation is the first European war between states since 1945. This attack threatens not only Ukraine but Canada. Our security has always been inextricably linked to that of Europe's. Since Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608, the outbreak of major wars in Europe has always affected Canada.
    The Seven Years' War, which some call the first major global conflict, a war in Europe between Great Britain and France, led to the conquest of Quebec in 1759. What we call the War of 1812 was part of a broader European war: the Napoleonic Wars. Canadians know full well the high price paid in the First World War and the Second World War in Europe. Some 100,000 Canadian war dead can attest to that. Most of them are buried in northern France and the Italian peninsula.
    It is clear President Putin and the Russian Federation's unprovoked and illegal attack on Ukraine is a challenge to our peace and security here at home in Canada.
    This attack also threatens Canada in a second way, because it comes on the heels of an autocratic pact between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, which threatens the rules-based order that has existed since 1945. This is an order that Canada was instrumental in establishing, an order that has ensured the longest period of relative peace and prosperity in modern times and an order that, if successfully challenged by the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China, threatens the peace and security of 38 million Canadians here at home.
    President Putin and President Xi's autocratic pact was signed just ahead of the invasion of Ukraine, on February 4 of this year. It declared each other's support for their respective positions on Ukraine and Taiwan, and it stated that there are “no forbidden areas” and “no limits” between China and Russia. It is the most detailed and assertive alliance between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China ever. It is a challenge to the international order that has existed since 1945, and it threatens our peace and security here at home. The world has changed and Canada must change with it.

  (1225)  

    The events of the last decade make clear something else. We can no longer live in splendid isolation on the north half of this vast continent, assuming that we are protected on three coasts, by three oceans and on our southern border by a superpower. It is true that, since the founding of Quebec in 1608, we have lived under the protection of one empire or another for over 400 years. For much of our history, we have lived under the protection of the French and British empires. When the French empire fell in North America on the north half of this continent in 1759, the Royal Navy and the British empire provided protection until August 1940. In that month, during the early dark days of another war, a Canada-U.S. defence pact was signed in upstate New York, in Ogdensburg, that set in place the protection that we have enjoyed since 1940.
    Since then, we have lived under pax Americana, but no longer. It is clear that the United States is no longer willing to shoulder the burden of Canada's defence and security and that of the NATO alliance. That was made clear by President Obama in 2014 during the NATO Wales Summit, which resulted in the Wales Summit Declaration that called on Canada and other NATO members to increase their defence spending to at least 2% of GDP by 2024. It was reiterated by President Obama in this very chamber in 2016 when he called on Parliament to meet the Wales Summit Declaration goal. It was reiterated by President Trump loudly on numerous occasions during his administration, and it has been reiterated by the current Biden administration.
    The world has changed and Canada must change with it. We can no longer count on another country to take care of our defence and security here at home. It is time for us to get serious about our defence and security and our contribution to the defence and security of the NATO alliance. That is why we have introduced this motion in the House today. The government needs to increase defence spending in the budget. There is no priority more important to any Government of Canada than the safety and security of some 38 million Canadians living here at home.
    The government needs to fully uphold the obligations Canada made in the Wales Summit Declaration of 2014 to increase defence spending to 2% of gross domestic product in two years. While the government has been decreasing defence spending in recent years, there remains only two short years to fulfill the Wales Summit Declaration.
    Let me close by saying that in fulfilling our obligation to the NATO alliance, we can contribute not only to the defence of Europe but to our own defence and security here at home. Canada, like Ukraine, shares a border region with Russia: the Arctic Ocean. Russia considers the Arctic region its most important theatre. It has spent considerable resources to strengthen its capabilities in the Arctic, and it is time that we took Canada's Arctic defence and security seriously.
    We need to modernize NORAD's early warning system. We need to fix our broken military procurement system and acquire new equipment for the Canadian military, as well as additional equipment for Ukraine's military. We need to accelerate the national shipbuilding program. We need to purchase the F-35 jets. We need to join ballistic missile defence in the face of Russian hypersonic missile technology. We need to work in closer co-operation with Scandinavian allies and the United States in Arctic peace and security. If we do these things, we can provide Ukraine with lethal weapons and ensure a future Bucha, a future Kharkiv and a future Mariupol will not happen. If we do not do these things, we are weakening the democratic alliance and potentially losing our sovereignty in our own north.
    The world has changed and Canada must change with it. If we rise to the task like previous generations of Canadians, we can strengthen both our democracy here at home and abroad and ensure that our children can continue to live in peace and security.

  (1230)  

    Madam Speaker, the member made reference to President Obama's visit when he put the 2% challenge to all members of Parliament. That was back in 2016. We acquired governance in late 2015. I would like to highlight to the member that in 2013, Canada's percentage of GDP going toward the military was less than 1%. I suspect that is one of the reasons Obama made reference to it.
    Upon reflection and using hindsight today, does the member recognize that the former Harper administration did us no service by underfunding our Canadian Forces?
    Madam Speaker, I think the world before February 2014 was a very different one. We had the peace dividend as a result of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and many NATO members significantly reduced their defence budgets in the view that Russia no longer presented a threat to the safety and security of Europe. That changed after the Sochi winter Olympics, when Russia invaded Ukraine. Prime Minister Harper understood the world had changed, which is why Canada agreed to the Wales Summit Declaration of 2014.
    We need to understand that the world has changed since then and since the invasion of February 24 of this year, and that Russia now presents a direct threat to the safety and security of this country, as does the People's Republic of China. We need to respond accordingly with an increase in the defence budget.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, not only do the Canadian Armed Forces need equipment, but they also need to do a better job of recruiting and retaining members. One of the reasons members quit and leave the army is that reservists are being sexually assaulted and cannot take their cases to the court martial.
    Maybe it is time to change that and support our reservists. When necessary, they can serve Canada just as well as regular forces.

  (1235)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question. She is right. The Canadian Armed Forces has problem with recruitment and needs to recruit more people.
    That said, according to the NATO report, we also need to increase our military equipment budgets to make sure our military has the tools it needs to do its work here and in Europe.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, one of the things I have not heard a lot about in the discussion today is cybersecurity. I would like to ask my colleague, who has been here for a while in previous administrations, about this.
    We have known well the issues of cybersecurity in Ukraine, with Russia in particular being very belligerent in attacks on social society and on other targets not only in Ukraine but across the globe. What are his thoughts about cybersecurity and where Canada is right now? I feel this is one thing we are missing in our country's response. I have been raising it at committee and other places because we can also help build back Ukraine differently from ever before with the type of technology and innovation we have and by being a leader. I would like to hear his response to that.
    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague raises a very good point. When one reads the Secretary General's annual report of 2021 from NATO, one sees that Canada has underspent in equipment for the Canadian Armed Forces. I think part of what Canada needs to do is ensure that our men and women in uniform have the latest and most encrypted and secure military communications available to them, because as Russia has found out in Ukraine, when encrypted communications break down, it can lead to disaster. It is apparent that Russia is using unencrypted cellular networks, which make available to all its movements in the field. We have to ensure that the Canadian Forces are never subject to that lack of cybersecurity in the field when it comes to protecting Canadians here at home or in Europe.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, as we gather here in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, to debate funding for national defence, our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine, who, for the past 41 days, have been suffering, although very courageously, the agonizing pain inflicted by the terrible aggression of Putin's Russia. I want to emphasize that I said “Putin's Russia” because it is not the same thing as the people of Russia. We will talk about that a little later.
    We are here to talk about funding for national defence and how to meet the target of 2% of gross domestic product, or GDP, set by NATO in 2014. As we debate this, we are just a few days away from commemorating the 105th anniversary of Canada's capture of Vimy Ridge. The hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs and the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo will be in attendance to commemorate the event.
     On April 9, 2014, at 5:30 in the morning, 15,000 Canadian soldiers attacked the German enemy to take Vimy Ridge, something our allies had failed to do during the many years of war. According to Brigadier-General Alexander Ross, a nation was born as a result of that battle.
    In 1917, Canada engaged in direct, co-ordinated combat on a military battlefield with troops from across the nation for the first time. The four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force deployed to Europe, to France, during the First World War included people from all across Canada, including British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.
    In all, 15,000 Canadian soldiers participated in this terrible battle, including Cree soldier Henry Norwest, a sniper who received the Military Medal, and Jeremiah Jones, a Black Canadian soldier who singlehandedly captured a unit of German machine gunners. For many historians, Canada was born on the Vimy battlefield.
    During the Second World War, Canada once again played a major role in liberating the world from tyranny. A few years later, in 1949, NATO was created to bring together European countries, Canada and the United States to monitor, but not fight, the Soviet empire, whose intentions were becoming worrisome, to put it mildly.
    In 2014, at the Wales Summit, a very important and historic conference and the reason behind today's debate, NATO's 30 members committed to allocating 2% of their GDP to national defence by 2024. The objective was to support the military and to ensure that it would be ready if something went wrong and war was to break out again.
    Unfortunately, war did break out. A war is currently being waged, and we did not meet this NATO target. It is embarrassing for Canadians to see that we are lagging behind. Of the 30 NATO countries, Canada ranks 25th in terms of defence spending as a share of GDP.
    That brings us to the crimes currently being committed by Putin's Russia in Ukraine. Just a few days ago, the entire world was shaken; men and women of goodwill were sick to discover the tragedy of mass graves and civilians killed in Bucha. We saw, in all of its ugliness and horror, the extent to which Putin's Russia went there crassly to exterminate this very strong people who are very proud and very protective of their sovereignty.

  (1240)  

    Unfortunately, war criminals will always want to conquer countries in the worst way, whether by attacking schools and hospitals or by literally sending civilians to slaughter—I am deeply sorry to use that word.
    It has been 41 straight days, but fortunately, we are all moved by the extraordinary resilience of this people who are standing up for themselves. We were very proud to welcome, here in the House, President Zelenskyy, who delivered a speech that will remain etched in my memory and in the memory of all those who attended. Obviously Putin wants to recreate the power of the Soviet empire. That is where we as member countries of NATO have a responsibility. I would remind the House that NATO had its equivalent, the Warsaw Pact.
    Where do things stand in Canada? Currently 1.36% of Canada's GDP is invested in national defence. That is not enough. As I mentioned earlier, we rank 25th out of 30 countries. We are seeing a decline and delays in funding but also in equipment and military force, which we should honour. We will always be indebted to these men and women who dedicate themselves to the Canadian army and put their lives at risk every day for our freedom here at home and abroad.
    The government has really dropped the ball on the aviation file in recent years. Last week it announced that discussions would finally be held, over seven months, to determine whether it would buy the F-35. Need I remind members that this is the same government that made a huge fuss in 2015 about never buying the F-35? After seven years of dithering, it has finally made the right decision. However, after all this time, it wants another seven months of discussions, even though this is what we need to do. Unfortunately, it is Canada that ends up paying for the Liberals' inaction.
    The exact same thing happened with the Chinooks. The Jean Chrétien Liberals swore up and down that they would not buy that helicopter only to end up purchasing it anyway. History is repeating itself, and not in positive ways, unfortunately.
    As Canadians, we have a fundamental responsibility regarding equipment for NORAD, and our facilities in Canada are outdated. They were built before the Internet even existed. Updates are needed, but the government has done nothing. The same goes for establishing Arctic sovereignty, since we are still in need of icebreakers. We have gotten to this point because the Liberals have done nothing for seven years.
    We cannot talk about equipment without talking about procurement. The Parliamentary Budget Officer recently released a scathing report regarding procurement, the purchase of military equipment and defence spending under this government. He found that the government, which announced investments that never materialized, was responsible for a shortfall of $10 billion between 2017 and 2021. It kept putting things off and saying it would do something later, but ultimately nothing got done. This does not come from us, it comes from the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
    Today's debate is crucial. It is about the responsibility that we, as Canadians, have to the world. Our country made a commitment in 2014, along with all of our NATO allies, to make investments over the next 10 years with a goal of hitting 2% of GDP. Eight years later, we are at 1.36%. This government has failed, but it is never too late to do the right thing. We need spending, hiring, and careful, intelligent management—not to make us happy, but to fully ensure our soldiers' legacy. They have been serving for more than a century and have always been on the right side of history. We need to preserve their legacy and ensure that this great Canadian military tradition continues.

  (1245)  

     Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his eloquent and clear speech.
    I was reading the summary of the bill this morning and I was ashamed. It is embarrassing to read that billions of dollars are being poured into four old, leaky submarines and used planes, especially since the government first cancelled the purchase of these planes only to turn around and decide to buy them anyway. I would like to hear my colleague's opinion, which is usually interesting. Let us rise above partisanship. I know that the Liberals will say that the Conservatives are the ones who made budget cuts, but that is not what we are talking about.
    How can we depoliticize this procurement system and finally show a modicum of respect to the men and women who agree to risk their lives for our security and safety?
    This is not trivial. When I read that, I feel it is very disrespectful to the members of our armed forces. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, whom I also find to be very interesting. I do not always fully agree with him. Actually, to be honest, I rarely agree with him, but he is still a member who deserves and commands respect. I hold him in high regard.
    I think the member's approach is the right approach. When it comes to national defence, and similarly when it comes to a national health crisis like the one we have been experiencing for the past two years, we must put aside political partisanship. There are a thousand and one appropriate ways to fight good political battles. I rather enjoy that, as everyone knows. I am sure my colleague also likes a good political squabble. However, there are some issues that should not be politicized, but we understand that too. We must bear that in mind.
    We, Quebeckers, Canadians, the citizens of planet Earth, are unfortunately being forced to deal with Mr. Putin's Russia and its aggression. Indeed, the experts knew this was coming. Some sounded the alarm at the time, during the events in Crimea. It happened in the Donbass as well, but did we really think we would ever see this in our lifetime, that is, the return of a traditional war like 73 years ago? The answer is no.
    That is why we must always bear in mind, as the hon. member so rightly said, that the men and women who wear the uniform risk their lives doing so, and we must think of them and of all humanity. Let us leave the political bickering to other issues.

  (1250)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I think Canada as a nation has demonstrated in many ways the importance of NATO as an organization. In fact, I believe we have participated in every mission NATO has brought forward to our allied countries, and I am wondering if my friend could provide his thoughts in regard to Canada being one of the 12 founding members of NATO. I think that is one of the reasons we stand pretty high, based on our population and resources, in terms of showing strong leadership on the file.
    Could the member provide his thoughts on why it is so critically important that Canada be there to support NATO, as it has in the past and no doubt will continue to do in the future?
    Madam Speaker, as I said in my speech, at the famous Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canada became a nation, according to Brigadier-General Ross, who said that in speaking about 1917. In the Second World War our country was again there at the right time with the right people on the right side. This is why we play an important role in history. This is why we were part of NORAD in 1949. This is why, more than ever, what we are asking of the Canadian government is to be sure that we will continue that great tradition of being on the right side.
    Madam Speaker, in Canadian procurement, what I have seen during my tenure here is that if something moves, we have a hard time buying it and there is always a problem. It does not matter if it is trucks, submarines or planes; it has been one thing after another.
    I know that a lot of countries use procurement for defence and also for reindustrialization. I have a quick question for my colleague about that. Most recently we turned down an aircraft that would have resulted in more procurement in Canada than the F-35, which involves less domestic procurement. If the government is asking for a budgetary increase, should we not have a connection to actually buy Canadian?
    Madam Speaker, we have to be very careful on that, because the government's money is not the government's money. It is the taxpayers' money, and we have to be very responsible with it.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to split my time with the member for Mount Royal.
    I would like to start by commenting in regard to what is happening in Ukraine today. What we see on the nightly news and throughout the day are the horrific pictures and the horrors of war clearly demonstrated in what is happening in Europe today. Reflecting on that, we get a better understanding and appreciation of why NATO as an organization is so incredibly important to world peace. Would it not be wonderful if we did not have to spend any dollars, whether here in Canada or any other country in the world, to have to deal with military buildups and equipment and machinery? However, we need to be realistic. There is an obligation to provide citizens around the world and us here in Canada with a sense of security, and more than just a sense. It has to be tangible.
    Canada is a nation of 38 million people. If there were no allied countries or organization such as NATO, I would argue we would have to spend a great deal more money than 2% of GDP to protect our sovereignty. However, because our forefathers brought NATO forward as an organization, we are now in alliance with 29 other nations. Including Canada, there are 30 nations in total. As I pointed out for my friend across the way, it is important to recognize that Canada has been there from the very beginning of NATO. We are one of the 12 founding countries of NATO. The makeup of NATO is in essence 28 countries in Europe, and Canada and the United States. NATO was formed because of World War I and World War II, when we saw the need for allied countries.
    One of the members opposite made reference to President Obama coming to Canada. I remember well that he presented to all of us, including you, Madam Speaker. He talked about that special friendship between Canada and U.S.A., but in that speech he also made reference to the need for Canada to do more in terms of its contribution to NATO from a financial point of view and a budgetary perspective.
    I raised the question in the manner in which I did because I understand why President Obama raised the issue. Just three years earlier, Stephen Harper actually had military expenditure per capita at less than 1%. In the dying days of the Conservative government, less than 1% of GDP was going toward the Canadian Forces. There were, in fact, cuts under the Conservative government, and that was at great cost.
    I had the honour of serving in the Canadian Forces for just over three years. I was posted to Edmonton. I was associated with 435 Squadron, which was search and rescue, and I assisted at times. If I was not in the tower, I was in the hangar assisting 435 Squadron pilots to file their flight plans. At that time, we were flying the C-130 Hercules aircraft, a beautiful aircraft still in use today. I am talking about the early 1980s. I am a little older than I look, perhaps.
    About four years ago, I had the privilege to be with 435 Squadron again. It was in the city of Winnipeg, because it had relocated from Edmonton to Winnipeg. There was an announcement, which I had the privilege of making, that we were replacing our Hercules aircraft with the new Kingfisher aircraft.

  (1255)  

    From the C-130, we went to the C-295. It is an amazing aircraft. I had the opportunity to tour it. I had been in many C-130s, and this was the first time I had been in the Kingfisher. It is an incredible aircraft. If we want to talk about modernization, there are computers not only in the cockpit but also in the fuselage. Aircrew could actually see very minute details of the ground from thousands of feet in the air.
    I say that because as a government, whether through our current minister or the minister before her, we have recognized how important it was to invest, in real terms, in the Canadian Armed Forces. We often hear members of this House on all sides talking, and justifiably so, about how wonderful our armed forces members are. We have to make sure that when they go on NATO missions or search and rescue missions, they have the right equipment, whether it is through reconstructing or building a ship, purchasing search and rescue aircraft, providing the armaments that are necessary for our men and women in the field or, in the most recent announcement, procuring and purchasing the F-35s.
    Again, when I was in the tower, I saw those beautiful F-18s, and they are a first-class aircraft, but they do need to be replaced. The F-35 is our future fighter plane. It went through a process that will ultimately deliver a world-class fighter jet to the members of our forces. I listened to the comments, and just before I stood up there was reference to our military industries here in Canada. Magellan Aerospace, which is based in Winnipeg, manufactures wings for the F-35 today, at least in good part. They have been doing that for years under an international agreement that allows for that industry to continue to grow here in Canada.
    Some members here might remember the Avro Arrow, an aircraft that never materialized because the then-Conservative government killed the program. We had incredible leading science and technology in that aircraft, and it was all lost because the plane was cancelled. The technology went to the United States.
    When I talk about the F-35 and the procurement process, I know we value our aerospace industry, whether it is in the province of Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario, B.C. or other jurisdictions. We understand the relation between building up our military and supporting the development of that technology here in Canada, and there are ample examples. The best sniper weapons in the world are manufactured, arguably, right here in Canada. All sorts of armaments actually come from Canada.
    In terms of expenditures, we have consistently been investing more in our forces and we have substantial commitments going forward, and in a couple of days we will hear even more tangible numbers coming from the Minister of Finance. I assure Canadians that the Government of Canada understands the importance of NATO and the leadership role we need to play, and we understand the industry here in Canada.

  (1300)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague on the other side for his interjection. For the most part it was really good, other than the partisan aspects of it, and I will not get into the personal side in the House.
    Based on the member's speech, I think he fully recognizes the capacity and requirement needed by our Canadian Armed Forces and by Canada, considering how volatile the world is and how the global situation is so complicated. Based on his speech, my question is very simple. I think he should be supporting this motion today. Will he support this motion to invest and meet our NATO obligation if he truly believes it is important for Canada to meet our obligations on the world stage?
    Madam Speaker, I suspect that I will not disappoint the member opposite when it comes to recognizing the importance of NATO as an organization.
    One of the member's colleagues made reference to Russia earlier this morning and talked about the military contribution from its treasury, which is immense if we take a look at the equipment it has, its population base and so forth. As a democratic, free country and a part of the alliance, one of the reasons that we are not prepared to commit to that is because it would have a huge social cost. Collectively, as a group of 30 nations, we are able to protect, through solidarity, that group of people against the greatest potential threats in the world, which could be from a country such as China or definitely from a country such as Russia. It is one of the ways in which we can have a loud voice in ensuring world security.

  (1305)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, with regard to the F-35 fighter jets and recruiting, we are told that there is no recruitment problem, but there is a retention problem.
    When I look at the entirely deficient military procurement program, I cannot help but wonder if we will ever get any pilots in planes.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I sure hope we will. I believe we will. In fact, in my home province of Manitoba, a lot of pilots are actually trained who will ultimately fly our future F-35s.
    One of the nice things about Canada is that, around the world, we are often recognized for our expertise in training jet pilots. In fact, we can take a look at some of our incredible bases, whether in Bagotville, Quebec, where the Voodoo was the supreme aircraft at one point, or in Cold Lake with the F-18s. If we take a look at the war games that are played, it is Canadian pilots who often get the recognition as world-class pilots. We would have seen that even during the world wars.
    In Canada, because of our air space and training, we train the very best. Not only will we be training Canadian pilots, we will be training pilots to serve in NATO-allied countries around the world; at least, I hope we would continue to do so.
    Madam Speaker, I am really glad that today we are talking about making sure that the men and women in the Canadian military are actually getting support so that they have the equipment they need to do the jobs they need to do. What we are not talking enough about today is the most important piece of equipment we have: That is the men and women in the Canadian military. I want to thank every one of them for their service and sacrifice to this country.
    We saw the Conservatives cut a third of Veterans Affairs. They closed veterans offices, which led to a major backlog. Over 40,000 veterans are still waiting for their disability management applications to be opened. Now, the Liberals have promised to fix it, but they have been partially doing it through casework managers who are on temporary contracts.
    My question is this. When are the Liberals actually going to rehire all of those employees who were cut from Veterans Affairs and end the backlog, so that veterans who have put their lives on the line to serve our country and do the hard work are getting the support that they deserve and need?
    Madam Speaker, during the early eighties on parade, I would often march with World War II and even World War I veterans. After the parades, we would go to the Legion where we would hear the stories of World War II. Grown men, seniors, were in tears explaining the types of things that they had to go through.
     I believe the impressions that I have been given over the years, and from what I understand of my caucus colleagues, we will continue to be there for vets, because we understand the sacrifices they have made.
    Madam Speaker, I very much appreciate the opportunity to speak in today's debate and I want to thank my colleague for South Surrey—White Rock for having put forward this very important motion. It is a very timely motion that I will support.
    I have been calling for quite a long time for defence spending to be increased. I believe that it is something we owe to the men and women of our Armed Forces, to make sure that those brave men and women who fight for Canada, who devote and sacrifice their time and their family lives so that our country is well defended here and abroad, have all of the equipment, services, support and training they need to flourish.
    I do not believe that Canada's military should be anything less than a great military organization. We have the 10th-biggest GDP in the world. We should have a fighting force that is equipped and ready to fit that representation of a country that has the 10th-biggest GDP in the world. For me, this is a very important motion to recognize that while it is true that we have increased the spending on the military, we still need to do more to meet our NATO target of 2%. In 2013, our spending was about 1%, compared with about 1.37% today.
    To remind us of that, I appreciate that. I also appreciate it being done at this time. Canadians, for the first time in my political career, are actually beginning to recognize the importance of spending on our Armed Forces with this conflict in Ukraine, and the Russians' horrible aggression under the very, very bad Vladimir Putin. He is definitely a war criminal. What he and his henchmen and his military have done in Ukraine by starting a war in Europe, the first major war since the Second World War, is something that Canadians have looked at by seeing the images on TV. It is different from the Second World War, when people received news from newspaper reports days later. They saw things on film, but they did not see things instantaneously on television. Canadians are rightly horrified by what is happening. They are saying that Canada really needs to be part of defending Ukraine.
    I have been proud of what we and our NATO allies have done. Our NATO allies and Canada have really stepped up to the plate, whether by sending humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, sending military assistance to Ukraine, or providing training over the years for over 33,000 troops in Ukraine who have helped Ukrainians on the ground to counter Russian aggression. With respect to the assistance we are going to be providing to those Ukrainians who want to come to Canada, whether temporarily or permanently, I think Canada has really stepped up. The fact that we are sending the HMCS Halifax, a second frigate, to Europe to join NATO military forces is really important.
    What we are doing in Latvia is also really important. The Aurora maritime patrol that has been transferred to NATO command is important. The fact that we are commencing our next rotation of NATO-enhanced air policing in Romania is important. The extension of our commitment is important, and 3,400 Canadian Armed Forces are on high readiness in case they need to go to Europe. That is important. I want to again thank those men and women of our armed forces for all of the incredible work they do.

  (1310)  

[Translation]

    I also want to thank our veterans. I met veterans for the first time when I was elected to be a councillor. I was very young, just 23 years old. We had a legion full of Second World War veterans. When they came back, they built communities in my riding such as the city of Côte Saint‑Luc, where I served as mayor; the town of Hampstead; and the town of Mount Royal, the part of Montreal that I represent. They were very brave veterans who left Canada, Montreal and Quebec when they were 18 years old to go fight in the Second World War. They came back, they did not complain, they volunteered, they created our communities. Every year, crowds of people came out to parades. Nowadays, there are very few people from the Second World War left in the parades. They cannot do it anymore. We have to remember what they went through.
    I also want to take this opportunity to talk about how important it is to provide substantively equal services to veterans in both official languages. What I mean is that processing time for complaints and documents submitted in French should be the same as for those submitted in English.
    That is one thing I will continue fighting for.

[English]

    I appreciate the way the House has treated this topic in a non-partisan way, because there are a lot of things we can argue about. I heard the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent say that before. There are a lot of things we can argue about, but defending our country is not one of them. The support for our armed forces is not one of them. The support for our veterans is not one of them. I have been so heartened to see this House's unanimous support for Ukraine, and the fact that there were no dissenting voices in imposing sanctions on Russia or on all of the actions we have taken to support Ukrainians in this terrible battle that Russia and Vladimir Putin have started.
    This motion also importantly reflects the new geopolitical realities in the world. Although it has been a threat for a long time, we are now at a time where Russia is finally seen to be the true threat that it is, whether it is in cybersecurity or our Arctic. We are a neighbour of Russia. We need to be prepared for that Russian threat. Russia is pushing China, as well, in this regard. China is watching carefully, in terms of Taiwan, what Russia is doing in Ukraine to see if it can get away with something. We need to be prepared, as NATO allies and as Canadians, to stand true.
    The final thing on that point is that, when it comes time to look at our geopolitical realities, we also have to look at whether we can always depend on the United States and NORAD to defend us. I want to particularly thank President Biden, because the United States is the world's strongest democracy. It has the strongest armed forces in the world. We rely, as do our NATO allies, on U.S. leadership when it comes to taking on a worldwide nuclear power such as Russia. The United States' Secretary Blinken and President Biden have consulted with us and with NATO allies. They have done all kinds of things to show the leadership that was missing in the previous Trump administration.
    What I saw during the Trump administration was that we could not necessarily rely on the United States, under a president like Donald Trump, to step up and defend Canada in every single way. Canada needs to be prepared more than we have been to defend ourselves. We hope we will always have our best friend and ally, the United States, in our corner, but we need to make sure that we not only step up to the plate to share the responsibility to defend our continent with the United States, but that we are prepared even if they are not there for us.
    This motion says we should increase the percentage of defence spending to meet those NATO targets. Although we are on track to improve, I want to say that it is so important to get to that 2% and make sure that we are properly equipped and properly trained, and it is important that all the men and women who have given so much to Canada, whether in the past or today, get exactly what they deserve: the best support possible from all parties in the Canadian Parliament.

  (1315)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the parliamentary secretary being up front in his support of our Canadian Armed Forces and this motion.
    My specific question for him is around his role as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement. If we are going to get that 2% spending, a large proportion of it is going to be through procuring the right equipment in a timely fashion. I would argue that historically, regardless of the stripe of government over the past number of decades, part of the reason we failed to expend all our defence money was because of political interference in our procurement process.
    What is the member specifically going to do in his role as the parliamentary secretary to speed up and facilitate our procurement process for the Canadian Armed Forces?
    Madam Speaker, let us be very clear that there should be no politicization of the procurement process. We have heard that from every side, and there should not be. No party should take credit for procurements. We should all be working together as best as possible across party lines to make sure procurement happens with all of the different trade-offs that we agree on. There are things that we could buy faster if we did not buy them here in Canada, or if we did not insist on Canadian industrial participation. There are things we might be able to buy off the shelf that we would otherwise customize. We all need to work together to make sure we get procurement right.
    We have a minister, who, I have to say, is a pleasure to work with every day. I know her biggest priority is to make sure that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces get the equipment that they need as quickly as they can, according to the process set by the House, and to work with everyone to do that.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement for his excellent speech, which made it clear that he cares about workers. That is what I want to talk about.
    When we talk about the national defence budget and the need to achieve the percentage of the GDP set by NATO, of course we have to think about procurement, but we also have to think about the people on the front lines using the new equipment. That is my major concern.
    The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities is currently conducting a study on the labour shortage. Yesterday, to my great surprise, the committee welcomed Canada's national police, the RCMP, who came to talk to us about the labour shortage. It is the same thing for the Canadian Forces. People need to enlist.
    Madam Speaker, I thank one of my favourite members on that side of the House for raising this issue. I completely agree with her.
    The labour shortage is a problem not only in Quebec, but across Canada. We need to find ways to get employees. We have to make the immigration process easier since that seems to be an excellent solution to this problem. Training people is another excellent solution.
    Part of this budget should certainly be devoted to hiring so that we can ensure that we have the necessary number of employees to carry out all the possible roles. I will give the example of veterans to process veterans' files more quickly.

  (1320)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague across the way discussed procurement difficulties and streamlining the process, and one thing has been put forward on that. The Prime Minister has mandate letters to the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Procurement and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans directing them to establish a centralized procurement process under a new department called “defence procurement Canada”. This has yet to be fulfilled.
    Can the hon. parliamentary secretary indicate to us when this might be expected?
    Madam Speaker, I believe that was in the 2019 mandate letters. I do not believe it was in the 2021 mandate letters, so I cannot speak to that issue.
    What I can speak to is that everybody needs to work across departments as best as possible to make sure that procurement happens in a timely way. I know that all of these departments are committed to doing that.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Mount Royal, particularly for the passion and heart he gave in his speech, as opposed to talking points.
    Other members have called out that this motion speaks to an increase of $28 billion. Some, including the member for London—Fanshawe, have shared that this seems like a fairly arbitrary amount.
    Can the member share why that amount specifically is necessary?
    Madam Speaker, I will refer to the Wales Summit Declaration, which does not exactly give 2% but targets 2%. I think the Wales Summit Declaration is self-explanatory and I encourage the member to read it.
    Madam Speaker, as always, it is a true honour to enter debate in this place. I will start by saying that the circumstances under which we are debating this motion are so relevant. We see each day, on television, social media and through reports from Ukraine, the despicable images and consequences of Putin and Russia's aggression against the state of Ukraine. I am here to stand up, once again, in this place to say that unequivocally we need to stand with the people of Ukraine and do everything we can to ensure that the people of Ukraine and the state of Ukraine are victorious against Russian aggression.
    As I enter into debate, I note that I will be splitting my time with the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.
    We are debating a very important motion that simply says Canada needs to uphold its obligation as a member of NATO, and a founding member at that, a defence organization that, for the last 70 years, has had a significant role in ensuring that global peace has been preserved. We see today a significant threat to that peace that we have enjoyed for so many decades, and I agree with the perception that we are at a time when we may be seeing, since World War II, the greatest threat to the peace we have enjoyed over the last seven decades. It is absolutely essential that we look at our approach to organizations like NATO and make sure that we follow through on the commitments that have been made.
    As referenced by a number of speakers, both from the official opposition and other parties, there is a reason and explanation for the 2%-of-GDP expectation. The target that a nation spends 2% of its GDP on its military is to ensure that we are equipped to defend ourselves, our allies and NATO partners against the instability that can exist in our world. This is very present.
    I would like to take a brief step back. What I have found interesting is that over the last number of months, there have been a host of issues, defence being paramount as we discuss the motion put forward by the Conservative shadow minister of defence, the member for South Surrey—White Rock. In this whole host of other issues, we are seeing issues the Conservatives have prioritized over the last number of years, like energy security. That is incredibly relevant today and is not that disconnected from the reality that our nation faces in terms of Ukraine and where we are in the world.
    I find it fascinating that even today there was an announcement from the White House in the United States that it is going to ask Canada for more energy. It is tragically ironic, I would suggest, that we are at a place where, had the Liberals listened to what the Conservatives have been supporting the entire way along, we would have the capacity to simply provide the United States the energy it needs to reduce or eliminate its dependence on Russia oil, in addition to being able to displace Russian oil and gas from Europe.
    On COVID, we see the Conservatives have been advocating for a common-sense approach to policies that we see being adopted not just by provincial governments across Canada, but by others around the world. It is a more pragmatic, realistic and longer-term approach to the pandemic.
    On foreign policy and the need for strength in our foreign policy, the Conservatives have been calling for that, not to simply position Canada as convener, nor to simply have a movie-star-type leadership that positions itself with the “all things woke culture” type narrative when travelling on the international stage. We need to be a leader when it comes to global affairs and to be respected for the principles that Canada has, for so long, stood up and been proud to defend.

  (1325)  

    When it comes to budgets and fiscal policy, it is a bit like déjà vu. The Conservatives have been talking over the last seven years or so about how we need to ensure there is fiscal restraint. Even in the week prior to the pandemic breaking out and it being official positioned as a global pandemic, the Conservatives were debating that in this place. I remember that two years ago, the Liberals were laughing at the Conservatives for saying that we needed to have a fiscal and monetary policy that reflected the reality we face so that when we faced a crisis we would be well positioned.
    I cannot help but think, whether it is the very important issue we are debating today or the host of issues that our nation is facing, that had the Liberals listened to what the Conservatives have been saying over the last six or seven years, we might be in a very different position. I suggest that the clearest examples of this today, which specifically relate to the motion regarding NATO, are two very closely connected issues.
    Number one is the fact that we need to have a modern, equipped military. I am pleased that the Liberals finally, albeit seven years too late, have committed to ensuring that Canada's air force is equipped with the best modern technology. I am not sure if the Liberals remember this, but they actually promised they would not do that. It is unfortunate that they are flip-flopping and flip-flopping again. The misleading rhetoric that has existed over the last six or so years has led to Canada being six or seven years behind when it comes to Canada's air force having the equipment required to do its job.
    Closely related to that, it is important for me to acknowledge to the House that although the government made an announcement saying they were going to acquire the F-35s, which was in a great press conference where they were boasting about having come to this decision and whatnot, they refused to acknowledge that we have actually invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the last couple of decades in the joint fighter task force. These are all things that both the Liberals and Conservatives had supported, but they, of course, did not want to give Stephen Harper any credit for that. When it comes to the reality we are facing, they have not even committed to purchasing the F-35s. I would love to hear in this place today not just a commitment to negotiate, but a commitment to actually see these aircraft purchased.
    When it comes to our northern sovereignty, it is a sad state of affairs that we have, over the last six or seven years, seen a significant diminishment in our national efforts to see that our north is strong and secure and that there is economic development to ensure that our military installations have everything they need. I come from a resource-rich area of our country. I hear often from constituents who say that, when talking about resources and the potential that exists in our country, they look at east central Alberta, which is, I would suggest, one of the most, if not the most, beautiful regions in not just our country but the world. They also look across north, east, south and west. They look across our country and see the potential that exists.
    I find that through what seems like systematic efforts, the government has reduced the ability of our north to develop and has limited our military's ability to defend. The fact is that we do not have the equipped fighting force that would be required to defend our north, if that were to ever happen.
    I am proud to stand today in this place, as I mentioned at the beginning, not just to support the people of Ukraine and ensure that Canada, as a proud founding member of NATO, has the tools that it needs to be a strong partner in defence, but also to ensure that Canada is the world leader that it should be. I find it absolutely tragic that over the last number of years we have seen our position on the world stage diminished.
    With that, I look forward to answering questions.

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, if the Conservatives really do not want us to keep bringing up the Harper years, perhaps members of the House should not stand here and ask us to pay credit to Stephen Harper, as this member just did. Since he did that, allow me to ask him what Stephen Harper's objective was. The member complained about the last seven years. How about the time before that when Stephen Harper was spending less than 1% of GDP on our military? How does he justify his need for Stephen Harper to be praised when Stephen Harper was not even spending 1% of GDP?
    Please do not respond to this question by somehow suggesting I should not be bringing up Stephen Harper because so much time has passed, when the member himself brought it up. I ask him to just answer my question. How does Stephen Harper somehow get the opportunity to be—
    The hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot has the floor.
    Madam Speaker, I suppose his indignation is justified with how the Liberals have failed so miserably on the defence file.
    Let me list a few of the successful procurement projects that existed under the Harper government. There was the purchase of five C-17 Globemaster transport planes, the 17 CC-130J Hercules transport planes, the 15 Chinook helicopters, the Leopard 2 tanks, the modernized CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes, the modernization of the Halifax-class frigates and the acquisition of the Asterix auxiliary oil replenishment vessel, which is a contract the Liberals tried to cancel despite Admiral Norman's objections.
    I could go on, but let me look back a little further. The amount of work Stephen Harper did to rebuild our military after the decade of darkness that I hear about every single time I—
    The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé has the floor.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would like my colleague to give me a ray of hope. I understand all the factors underlying his positions. I understand that the member represents an oil-producing riding. I understand that people are asking him to get the oil out and sell it.
    However, does he also realize that the time has come to start the climate transition? Does he also realize that the Bloc's position does not go against his constituents, but supports the entire planet?
    We are prepared to leave the $14 billion my colleague mentioned earlier that is invested every year in the oil sands, but it must be used to start a transition. Can my colleague give me a glimmer of hope by acknowledging that we must start thinking about making the transition?

  (1335)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, with respect to the member, I will say two things. One, the reality is that resource development is provincial jurisdiction. As I respect Quebec, I ask that he simply respects Alberta. Two, if he is concerned about the $14 billion being invested in our oil sands, maybe Quebec could give back the $13 billion in net transfer it received because of the prosperity the province of Alberta has seen.
    When it comes to ensuring my province and all of Canada are secure in the midst of the challenges we face in the world, we need to be a country that simply says yes again. We need to say yes to resource projects, yes to green technologies and yes to manufacturing and development. We need to finally say yes again.
    Madam Speaker, as I listen to the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot, I am trying to wrap my head around the fact that just yesterday he was part of a group of parliamentarians who put forward a motion talking about fiscal responsibility and no new taxes, and today he is speaking about one that would propose an additional $28 billion in spending.
    Can the member share more about how he would want to go about this additional new $28-billion investment?
    Madam Speaker, when it comes to the full re-evaluation of what needs to be accomplished in terms of how the government spends its money, I agree entirely. I believe we need to fulfill our international obligations when it comes to NATO's 2%. I believe that is required to ensure our military is well equipped and that we can play the rightful role Canada has when it comes to our place in the world.
    When it comes to ensuring Canada is well positioned and well funded, let us be a country that prospers again. As we have seen in Alberta, when Canada prospers, when Alberta prospers, we can in fact increase the spending on the needed things to ensure that our country is—
    We have to resume debate.
    The hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, especially on such an important issue as this one.
    I am going to be speaking in favour of this motion. This is an important issue not just generally, but because we are in a different world. The world changed in 2014. The world also changed again a couple of months ago. We are debating here today an issue that should cross party lines.
    I would like to thank the member for Mount Royal for his speech, and I see him speaking with the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, a veteran, and I would like to thank him for his service. I learned in the speech from the member for Winnipeg North that he is also a veteran. I thank him for his service, as I thank also the member for Cumberland—Colchester. I thank them all for their service.
    Before I really get into the speech, I also want to recognize a member of my riding. That is Master Corporal Erin Doyle, with whom I went to high school. I have fond memories of him shouting my last name as we walked down the hallways. He was a veteran who was killed in Afghanistan, and I am going to take a moment of silence to remember his life.
    I want to point out as well the excellent work done by the Rocky Mountain Rangers, which I consider to be one of the crown jewels of my riding. They are led by Lieutenant-Colonel Amadeo Vecchio. He is quite a leader, somebody who has given himself to this country both as a police officer and in his lifelong service to the armed forces. I also want to recognize my friend, Corporal Michael Bosa.
    I am, admittedly, fairly new to the House of Commons. I may not have the institutional knowledge that some of the people here have. That being said, despite still learning, I have tremendous pride as a Canadian, just as most people in the House have a lot of pride. I have pride in the military. One of the first places I visited as a parliamentarian was the Room of Remembrance. It is one of my favourite places to go when I am in West Block.
    Where I would like to see improvements is in our military spending. Canada has a proud history. We have a history of intervening, of peacekeeping, of making a difference and of more than just convening. When I think about our achievements and our interventions as a military, I think about Juno Beach, where right now it is being contemplated that condominiums will be built on what should otherwise be a sacrosanct space, and I think about Vimy Ridge, which in just a few days will be celebrating its 105th anniversary. I am going to be proud to be present there to commemorate that with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and other parliamentarians. The Battle of Vimy Ridge stands out in this nation's history. That is a time when we were obviously proud of our military and proud of our history, and I want to restore that pride. That is one reason I am in favour of this motion.
    Simply put, we need greater political leadership and a will when it comes to the military and when it comes to meeting our NATO commitments, but we should not be seeking to meet the NATO commitments for the sake of meeting them. Yes, it is important that we meet our international commitments; that is an obvious no-brainer. When we commit to something, we should do it, and too frequently we slough our commitments aside once they fade from the public eye. However, we need to honour that commitment, because it is good for Canada, it is good for our brave soldiers and it is good for the security and sovereignty of this brave nation.

  (1340)  

    That is why I am so pleased that we are buying the F-35 jets. Our F-18s are an aging fleet that should have been replaced many years ago. Therefore, while I am pleased that we are buying F-35 jets, I am disheartened that we took seven years to do so. Those seven years involved years of lost training, years of waiting for procurement, paying for outdated Australian jets and, once we got those Australian jets, paying for the necessary upgrades in our own military and for the new jets that we got. We need to give our soldiers the best equipment. Let us not forget that these people who don our uniform are prepared, each and every day they put on that uniform, to make the ultimate sacrifice. The least we could do is to give them the best equipment possible, regardless of the cost.
    I know that Canada ranks 25 out of 30 when it comes to NATO countries' spending. This may have been acceptable in the past, but, as I said at the outset, the world has changed. We are in a different world and with a different world comes different military spending.
    We have Arctic sovereignty that worries me and that worries, and should worry, other people in the House. The Russia that has invaded Ukraine and has committed war crimes against Ukraine is perilously close to the Canadian Arctic and that is something we often forget. My understanding is that Russia has over 40 armed icebreakers. Canada has one. That is a statistic that should alarm all Canadians. Our Arctic is not that far. Our Arctic is also an area where Russia has asserted its sovereignty.
    The international community is not ad idem when it comes to Canada's land boundaries. While it may be very clear to us as Canadians that our land extends well into the Arctic, into what has always been recognized as Canadian land, that may not be recognized by our allies and certainly will not be recognized by the Russia that seeks the natural resources in that area, that invaded Ukraine and that is currently perpetuating war crimes against innocent civilians and children in Ukraine. I do not presume that Putin will be rational, and we have him essentially on our doorstep in the Arctic.
    Let us not make any mistake. There could come a time when somebody wants Canadian land. I hope it never comes to be. I am sure Ukrainians hoped it would never come to be. I would love for the Minister of National Defence to come to the House and tell us what we would do in the invent of an Arctic invasion and what we would do in the event of a Canadian invasion. While that may have been something we said years ago would never happen, as I said at the outset, we are in a different world. Gone are the days when we said our allies will handle it. We have no guarantees at this point as to the recognition of our international borders.
    I wish to highlight, in closing, that a number of the points that I am making today were made in a Senate report in April 2017, titled “Military Underfunded: The Walk Must Match the Talk”. In that report, the Senate made a number of recommendations including at that time increasing spending to 1.5% of GDP and to 2% by 2028. The time has come to speed that up. We are not at 1.5%. I implore the finance minister in our upcoming budget to increase military spending to 2%.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, the member said that the purchase of the F-35 was seven years too late, and the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan is clapping to that.
    I am curious if the member could explain to the House how he came to that determination. Stephen Harper upgraded the CF-18s between 2007 and 2010, so when he says it is seven years too late, what was magic about seven years ago? Did these planes not just get upgraded between 2007 and 2010 by Stephen Harper? What happened in 2015, seven years ago? Was it just an election, and therefore, when it should have happened?
    Madam Speaker, what happened is that the member's party said it would not buy the jets, rather than entertaining buying the jets. It is a decision that should have been made. It was an election promise that was followed through on. In my view, that was an election promise that should not have been made. Now we have a reckoning in 2022 that it was the wrong decision. That is why 2015 is the magic number.
    Qujannamiik, Uqaqtittiji.
    I would like to ask the member about investments in the Arctic. What importance would he place in engaging the Inuit in the Arctic and ensuring it is the Inuit who are able to invest in protecting their own lands? As we know, Arctic sovereignty has been the greatest initiative in Canada. What would he do to make improvements so that our Arctic sovereignty includes the Inuit in the Arctic?
    Madam Speaker, it has been a pleasure getting to know my hon. colleague over the past few months, and I look forward to hearing more.
    Reconciliation applies here too. Part of what we have to do is involve our stakeholders and rights holders in the Arctic. When it comes to maintaining Arctic sovereignty with the Inuit, they should have not just a seat at the table, but the primary seat at the table, because let us face it, they have a key voice, likely the most key voice, and it should be present. I would love to hear from them on that.

  (1350)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention.
    He spoke a lot about the importance of being properly equipped to protect the Arctic. However, having equipment without personnel is of no use. The retention and recruitment of personnel for the Canadian Armed Forces is a challenge, and it is important to change the image of the armed forces.
    In the last Parliament, I studied the issue of sexual assault at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. My colleague said that he is new to politics, but I would like him to state his position because we will have to intervene. His party did appoint General Vance. This file on the allegations has existed for a long time. Now it is important to take action. There are solutions in Justice Deschamps' report.
    What are my colleague's views on the importance of taking action and no longer appointing people who believe they are above everyone else and who continued to perpetuate a culture of toxic masculinity in the Canadian Armed Forces, which hindered the recruitment of women?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for raising a very important point. I too was disheartened not only when I learned about the allegations but also when I saw that General Vance received a conditional discharge in relation to a finding of obstruction of justice.
    I will not disparage the brave women and men who put on the uniform each and every day. I agree with the hon. member that we need a culture in the military that embraces vitality, diversity and safety. Whatever can be done to achieve that culture, so all people in the armed forces feel comfortable coming forward to serve their country, I will give my full support to.
    Madam Speaker, does the member not see the hypocrisy that could be perceived? President Obama is saying that the Conservative Party, back in 2013, spent less than 1% of the GDP on defence. Now the Conservative Party is advocating for 2%, yet when they were in government, they actually had less than 1%.
    Madam Speaker, in 2009 we had 1.37%. Let us talk about 2022, not 2014 or 2013. For one moment, can we please just park the partisan sanctimony?
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Kingston and the Islands.
    I rise in the House today, on behalf of the residents in my riding of Davenport, as a proud Ukrainian Canadian and as the chair of the Canada NATO Parliamentary Association. At the outset, let me condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia's unjustifiable and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and the enormous human suffering and destruction it has caused. Thousands of Ukrainians have died and entire cities have been destroyed.
    Together with many partners, Canada referred Russia's illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine to the International Criminal Court in early March as a result of numerous allegations of serious international crimes by Russian forces, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Reports of atrocities carried out by Russian forces have become more numerous and serious since that referral. Just these past few days, we have seen images of hundreds of innocent civilians brutally murdered in cold blood in Bucha. These are horrifying acts. Russia needs to be held accountable and brought to justice.
    Putin's actions are an assault on the rules-based international order. They have shattered Euro-Atlantic security. Canada and our NATO allies and partners are responding to Putin's aggression with unprecedented sanctions as we continue to arm Ukrainians and provide them with the support they need to defend themselves.
    The Minister of Foreign Affairs will attend the upcoming NATO foreign ministerial meetings to coordinate Canada's support to Ukraine with our NATO allies. Foreign ministers will also look to collectively respond to global challenges with global partners while supporting regional ones in countering malign Russia influence and interference.
    The ministerial meeting follows the extraordinary NATO leaders summit of March 24, which was attended by our Prime Minister. At that summit, NATO leaders agreed to provide further support to Ukraine, and they agreed on the need to reset NATO's deterrence and defence policies for the longer term to face a new security environment.
    NATO is a defensive alliance founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. Its primary task is to guarantee the security of the Euro-Atlantic area and the one billion citizens of its 30 members. NATO has been a cornerstone of Canada's defence and security policies for the last 73 years, and we remain committed to the foundational principles that underpin European and global security. As such, we have contributed to nearly every major NATO military operation since 1949. We continue to provide a significant number of personnel to various organizations within the alliance, and we are the sixth largest financial contributor among our allies to NATO's common budget.
    For years, NATO allies and our partners have provided extensive bilateral support to Ukraine to strengthen its military capabilities and capacity and to enhance its resilience. In the immediate lead-up and since Russia's invasion, NATO allies and partners significantly expanded that assistance, and they continue to provide Ukraine with the lethal and other critical military assistance it needs to defend itself. NATO allies have stepped up in other ways as well by also providing financial and humanitarian aid, which includes hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees.
    Let me also recall the fact that Canada was the first western country to recognize Ukraine's independence 30 years ago. Since then we have been resolute in our support for Ukraine and a strong advocate for its Euro-Atlantic integration. Canada has invested significantly in bilateral defence relations with Ukraine. We strongly supported granting Ukraine NATO-enhanced opportunity partner status in 2020 in order to deepen NATO-Ukraine relations.
    In addition, Canada has also provided multifaceted assistance to support Ukraine's security, prosperity and reform objectives, including through the authorization of $160 million in military aid. Canada's Operation Unifier has trained nearly 35,000 members of the Ukrainian military and security forces to date. The operation was recently extended and expanded. However, as a result of the current situation, the Canadian Armed Forces has temporarily moved its mission.

  (1355)  

    In response to Canada's action against Ukraine, NATO has deployed troops from both sides of the Atlantic and has increased its readiness to protect allied territory and guard against any spillover of the conflict. For the first time, the alliance has deployed the NATO response force for collective defence and deterrence. There are now hundreds of thousands of forces at heightened alert, as well as around 40,000 troops under direct NATO command, mostly in the eastern part of the alliance.
    This is backed up by major air and naval power, as well as air defence. NATO is establishing four multinational battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, as well as strengthening battle groups already in the battle states and in Poland. Further steps are being taken to ensure the security and defence of allies across all domains with a 360° approach.
    While these measures are preventative, proportionate and non-escalatory, there must be no doubt that our commitment to article 5 of the Washington treaty is ironclad. We will protect and defend every inch of NATO territory.
    Following the deployment of an additional 460 soldiers to Operation Reassurance, Canada currently contributes approximately 1,375 troops to deterrence and assurance measures on NATO's eastern flank. These additional forces include ground troops for the Canada-led enhanced forward presence battle group in Latvia, and an additional frigate and patrol aircraft. As well, approximately 3,400 Canadian Armed Forces personnel across all branches of the service are authorized to deploy to the NATO response force, if they are required.
    On March 8, the Prime Minister announced that Canada would renew its commitment to Operation Reassurance—

  (1400)  

    I have to interrupt the hon. member as it is time for Statements by Members. The hon. member will resume her speech after Oral Questions, and have time for questions and comments.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Sikh Heritage Month

    Madam Speaker, April marks national Sikh Heritage Month in Canada. During this month, we learn about the rich history, culture and religion of Sikhs in Canada and around the world. It is also a time to celebrate the journey of Canadian Sikhs in building a diverse Canada with their everyday contributions.
    In April, the Sikh community celebrates Vaisakhi and Khalsa Day. This joyful day marks the start of a vibrant harvest season and signifies the founding of Khalsa in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, including his teachings of the oneness of humanity, equality, social justice, compassion and seva or selfless service. These are the core values of Sikhs and values that Canadians embrace.
    I also want to commend Sikh organizations who are helping those in need during the pandemic and providing humanitarian aid to countries such as Haiti, Ukraine and many others.
    On behalf of the residents of Brampton South, I wish everyone a happy Sikh Heritage Month and a happy Vaisakhi.

World Autism Month

    Madam Speaker, Lea-Anne and Sherri recently opened a respite program in my riding. It is called LIFE Day Respite Program Essex.
    The program is designed to enhance the development of adults 19 years and older. It provides daily life experiences that guide people to their best ability. Their aim is to assist families by knowing that their loved ones are safe and cared for. They focus on activities such as going to the library, grocery shopping, physical and mental growth, therapeutic skills and social skills. Their program has open communication with each member and their support individuals.
    This being World Autism Month, please join me in celebrating Lea-Anne and Sherri and thank them for such an important service to our community. I congratulate them on LIFE Day Respite Program Essex, and we thank them for helping to leave the world a better place.

Port Coquitlam Heritage Society

    Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize the important work that the Port Coquitlam Heritage Society has done in documenting and uncovering our shared Canadian history.
     Thanks to funds received through the Canada summer jobs program, the PoCo Heritage Society was able to catalogue and digitize its collection of well over 2,000 objects, including Second World War uniforms and antique traditional Chinese medicine bottles from the 1880s.
    Through the diligent work of its staff and volunteers, including grade 10 student Queena Li, it translated the Mandarin inscriptions into English and learned more about the lives of the thousands of Chinese workers who came to Canada searching for opportunities and a better life. The railway would not have been built without their significant contributions, and B.C. would not be part of Canada.
    I thank all the staff and volunteers at the Port Coquitlam Heritage Society. Their work ties us to our shared past and allows us to reflect and build upon the work of those who came before us to create a better future.

[Translation]

University Hockey Team in Trois‑Rivières

    Mr. Speaker, on April 3, the Patriotes of the Université du Québec à Trois‑Rivières won the U Sports men's hockey championship for the fifth time in their history.
    The victory did not come easy, however, as the Patriotes faced some never-before-seen adversity. They had to deal with a cancelled season, classes, practice, social activities on Zoom, a shortened season, a pandemic break and player departures. Nothing would stop these student athletes and their chants of “we want to play”.
    United as never before, the team zeroed in on its destiny, going undefeated in the playoffs. They had to show resiliency one last time in the grand final, coming back from a two-goal deficit to win the game in double overtime. Alexis Gravel stopped 66 shots and Simon Lafrance scored the winning goal. Coach Marc‑Étienne Hubert came in with an assist by kissing the blade of Simon's stick right before he scored the game-winning goal.
    I am so proud to congratulate the entire Patriotes family. Go, Pats, go!

Mock Cabinet at Bourassa School

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I had the honour, for the sixth consecutive year, of swearing in the mock cabinet of class 321 at École Jean‑Nicolet in Bourassa.
    This exercise started in 2009 as a way to teach kids aged 11 and 12 about good governance and democracy.
    I marked the occasion by presenting a certificate to each cabinet member as their parents looked on. The cabinet is made up of the following members: Zachary Amécia, prime minister; Laettia George Désir, deputy prime minister; Ahmed Nabat, minister of justice; Lolanne Chapman, minister of the environment; Woody‑Emmanuel Phileus, minister of sports and recreation; Ann‑Clara François, minister of communications and technology; and Caner‑William Bayram Lelièvre, minister of the public service.
    I want to take this opportunity to commend their teacher, Kerline François, the vice-principal and all of the staff at École Jean‑Nicolet.

  (1405)  

[English]

4-H in New Brunswick

    Mr. Speaker, Canadian farmers and producers grow our food and literally keep our land. My riding of Tobique—Mactaquac is home to a wide variety of producers.
    A strong agricultural sector is so vital to our country and her future. Organizations like 4-H play an important role in training up the next generation of farmers and responsible citizens. Through programs like public speaking, animal care and farm experience, 4-H provides a valuable service and many amazing opportunities for its participants.
     The 4-H community in western New Brunswick has suffered the devastating loss of two of its members over the past couple of years: Evan Graham and Cole Hunter. Those two outstanding young men were very involved with 4-H. I know their loss still weighs heavily on their families and our region.
    Next week, at the 69th annual Carleton County Spring Show and Sale in Florenceville-Bristol, I look forward to seeing all the participants and volunteers. I have a feeling that there will be a couple of smiling faces watching over it all.

Community Celebrations

    Mr. Speaker, April is Sikh Heritage Month. The Sikh community continues to enrich and strengthen Canada since the first gurdwara opened its doors more than 100 years ago in British Columbia. I would like to wish the Sikh community in my riding a very happy Sikh Heritage Month.
    I would like to also extend my well wishes to the Muslim community in Cloverdale—Langley City. Saturday was the beginning of Ramadan, celebrated by thousands in the riding of Cloverdale—Langley City. Muslims of all different backgrounds will come together for Iftars and congregational prayers in-person for the first time in two years.
     Ramadan Mubarak.

Public Transit

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call on Premier Ford to reinstate funding for the Confederation GO station in my riding of Hamilton East—Stoney Creek. Not less than a year into his mandate, Premier Ford and his government cut the $150-million planned investment for the Stoney Creek station. What was supposed to be a bustling GO station is today nothing more than a glorified bus stop and surface parking lot.
    Everyone in the House knows the benefits that come with inter-regional transit investments. It helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking thousands of vehicles off of our congested highways. It spurs residential and commercial investments, creating new jobs and new tax revenues for municipalities and other levels of government. It facilitates sustainable growth by encouraging development in our established urban boundaries.
    Eerily similar to the investment strategy adopted by the former Harper government, Premier Ford has created a system of haves and have-nots. It is time for Ontario’s premier to realize the importance of the Confederation GO station and reinstate the investment he and his government cut in 2019.

Vancouver Rogues Rugby Club

    Mr. Speaker, the Vancouver Rogues are Canada's first gay and inclusive rugby club, originally active from 2001 to 2009. The club has been revived for the 2021-22 B.C. Rugby Union season, sponsored by the Meraloma Rugby Club.
    The Rogues plan on being a permanent team with a mission to support under-represented communities in sport and to fight homophobic and transphobic behaviours both in sport and society. Last weekend's 52:10 win against Abbotsford rugby football club is the Rogues' first victory of the season and first win ever in club history. As a member of the opposing team, I offer a huge congratulations to the Rogues on their victory.
     This August, the Rogues will represent B.C. at the Bingham Cup in Ottawa, the largest biannual amateur rugby tournament in the world. It brings together over 2,500 like-minded players from 60 countries to celebrate diversity and inclusivity and to show the world that rugby truly is a sport for everyone.
     I look forward to seeing the Rogues kicking drop goals, rucking hard and tackling barriers in the years to come.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Autism Month

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that Autism Month has begun. Yesterday, in my riding of Vimy, I had the honour of attending an event alongside people who are dedicated to the cause. I would like to thank and congratulate the Société de l'autisme et des TED de Laval for all of its work.
    As the ambassador for the month, I would like to raise awareness about the challenges that people with autism face. The conference at the autism centre put the spotlight on facilities that are a critical part of caring for and supporting this community. I strongly encourage this model, which could serve as a reference for municipalities across the country.

[English]

    Every person with autism is an individual, and people with autism have a lot to offer and teach us. They see the world from a different perspective and this brings many strengths that make the world a better place.

[Translation]

Eliot Grondin and Marie‑Philip Poulin

    Mr. Speaker, two athletes from my riding truly shone at the Beijing Olympics this winter: Eliot Grondin, from Sainte‑Marie, and Marie‑Philip Poulin, from Beauceville.
     Having earned his ticket to Pyeongchang in 2018 at only 16 years old, Eliot has since honed his snowboard cross skills and literally rocketed through the course to stand on the podium twice, showing us his bright smile. He was already an inspiration to many young people in Beauce, and he has now become a legend.
    What can I say about Marie-Philip, the “Captain Clutch” of the Canadian women's hockey team? In addition to being the flag bearer, she led her team to victory in the gold medal game. With the Olympics barely over, she is already dreaming of Italy 2026. She is the best hockey player in the world. She has four Olympic medals and has won many other championships, and she is always looking ahead. That is what I call determination.
    I cannot help but think of their respective families and the sacrifices that have been made over the years so that they can shine. To Marie-Philip and Eliot, I want to say that Beauce is very proud of you.

[English]

Vaccine Mandates

    Mr Speaker, the federal vaccine mandates are hurting real people.
    In my riding, an aspiring young astronomer, Chloe, cannot go to the NASA space camp. She is not vaccinated, but the camp has a no-vaccine requirement.
    Another is Patrick, who followed public advice and got the very first vaccine available in Kazakhstan, the Russian Sputnik vaccine. He has confirmed he has antibodies and the best medical advice he has obtained is not to get another two rounds of the Pfizer vaccine. Now he cannot return to Kazakhstan to get back to work.
    Several constituents have come to me with heartbreaking stories of being unable to fly to funerals for family members in Canada. Some were forced to drive thousands of kilometres in order to attend this end-of-life celebration.
    Conservatives have been asking the NDP-Liberals for a plan on when these unjust federal mandates will end. They voted against it. We have asked for the data used to justify these measures. The transport minister has not provided it. The health minister promised to give us the documents he based his decisions on, and we are still waiting for them.
    All the provinces have either ended the mandates or given the public the path to end these restrictions. To end the confusion, hurt and frustration, the answer is easy: end these punitive federal mandates.

[Translation]

French in the Yukon

    Mr. Speaker, Yukon has Canada's third-largest per capita population of francophones, and the community is vibrant, engaged, diverse and growing.
    The francophone renaissance in Yukon started in the 1970s after the passage of Canada's Official Languages Act. Strengthened by the federal government's engagement, Yukon's francophone community has grown in every way ever since.
    Yukon will soon be opening a bilingual health care centre. Our third French first-language school is opening in Dawson City this fall, and enrolment in French immersion has skyrocketed.
    People can now hear French all over Yukon. As a francophile, I am proud to see how much progress has been made since the adoption of Canada's Official Languages Act. Bill C‑13 can take us even further by supporting our minority language communities and enhancing all of our lives.

[English]

Rise Together

    Mr. Speaker, today I want to highlight the amazing work of an organization in my riding. Rise Together was started in January 2021 by Holly Smith and Trishna Gill. They are best friends and students at Oak Bay High. They help connect the community to support local organizations doing vital work.
    Rise Together partners with local businesses to place donation jars at storefronts, creating an easy and accessible way for community members to donate. Each month, they bring attention to a new local initiative in need of support. Past organizations featured include the Rainbow Kitchen Society, 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre and the Victoria Women’s Transition House.
    They also bring the community together for charitable events. Rise Together’s most recent collaboration is an art exhibit and silent auction in support of Ukraine. It is at Fortune Gallery from May 11 to May 13, and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.
    I thank Holly and Trishna for exemplifying the drive, passion and contributions of today's youth.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Invisible Work Day

    Mr. Speaker, on this date, April 5, let us recognize everything that gets done behind the scenes in our households. A disproportionate amount of the work done by caregivers and volunteers, often called invisible work, is done by women.
    That is why, for the past 22 years, the AFEAS has been strongly encouraging us to take a day to reflect on what our society would be without invisible work, without all the often unacknowledged hours spent taking care of others. We are all invited to think about how best to ensure a fairer distribution of invisible work.
    The pandemic amplified problems related to invisible work and its mental load. The public health crisis is not yet over, and women are still on the front lines. Today, let us acknowledge that by officially designating the second Tuesday in April as national invisible work day, an opportunity to think about all of the invisible work that is done on the other 364 days of the year.
    Invisible work counts.

[English]

Cost of Living

    Mr. Speaker, with the first NDP-Liberal budget in history coming in a few days, it is important to take stock of the world the millennial generation is inheriting.
    Half of us will never be able to buy a home, despite Canada being the second-largest land mass on earth. There is plenty of land to build houses. Why is it getting less and less affordable to do so?
    Around $300 might buy someone four small bags of groceries, despite Canada having an abundance of arable farmland that is perfect for growing food. Why is it getting more and more expensive?
    Today $100 barely fills the tank of a small car, despite Canada having some of the largest carbon energy reserves in the world. Gas and transportation should be cheap, yet it has never been more costly.
    This is the everyday life Canadian millennials are inheriting after six years of Liberal governance and its inflationary policies. Canadians cannot afford any more of this and certainly cannot afford the upcoming Liberal-NDP budget.

Canadian Middleweight Boxing Champion

    Mr. Speaker, many people have made the trek from the villages of Punjab to Canada to build a life. Baldev Singh Sidhu went back to Punjab so that he could build the lives of others. With a passion for fighting, he started a boxing academy in his native village of Chakar.
    One day a young boy, a village-born child, showed up at his door, wanting to fight to prove himself after being at odds with a fighter from the academy. Mr. Sidhu saw something in that boy, trained him and eventually adopted him as his own.
    Today that boy stands in our midst, now a grown man and a champion. Sukhdeep Singh Chakria, whose last name bears witness to the village from where he hails, reigns 10-0 as the Canadian middleweight champion.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[English]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, Thursday is fast approaching and with it we will see our first ever NDP-Liberal budget, a budget that promises a hard veer to the left with big spending and fiscal irresponsibility. Gone are the days when these Liberals followed the advice of their moderate colleagues like John Manley and Anne McLellan. Instead, their inspiration for the budget will come from the fringes of the NDP movement.
    Is it not true that this budget will ignore the need to address inflation and the cost of living and instead give in to the extreme demands of the NDP?
    Mr. Speaker, two years ago, our government put in place an economic response plan to meet the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19. We positioned our economy to come roaring back faster and recover stronger. As of February 2022, we have recovered 112% of the jobs lost at the peak of the pandemic and we must continue now to focus on our work and create jobs and continue building a Canada where nobody gets left behind.
    I look forward to the tabling of the 2022 budget and presenting our plan for moving forward for all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that out-of-control spending leads to out-of-control prices. Over the last six years and with increasingly irresponsible budgets that the government delivers, more Canadians are suffering and being left behind. Canadians are much worse off today than they were six years ago. They cannot afford a house, gas or groceries. This continued irresponsible and out-of-control spending will result in more and more Canadians being unable to pay their bills. Still, the Prime Minister is doing it.
    Why?
    Mr. Speaker, over the past six years we saw the economy grow. We saw hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including kids, lifted out of poverty. We have seen investments that demonstrate that at every step of the way, including through this pandemic, we had people's backs. We entered this pandemic with a strong fiscal position and we are using that fiscal firepower to support Canadians through and beyond COVID-19.
    Our choice, contrary to the Conservatives, was to make sure families did not have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads. We will always have Canadians' backs. We will always do it responsibly in a fiscal way.
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is that this Prime Minister continues to wedge, divide and stigmatize Canadians. On this side of the House, we believe the greatest thing we can do to unify Canadians is to make their life more affordable. We believe we should empower people so they can buy a home, fill their gas tank and put food on their table.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that with every budget he delivers, Canadians have become worse off?
    Will he listen not just to Conservatives but to moderate Liberals in his own party, say no to the NDP's extreme demands and deliver a responsible budget?
    Mr. Speaker, I think Canadians are grateful we do not listen to Conservatives on matters of supporting Canadians.
    The first thing we did was lower taxes for the middle class and raise them for the wealthiest 1%. Conservatives were opposed. We increased the Canada child benefit to match the cost of living. Conservatives were opposed. We moved forward with $10-a-day child care for families across the country. Federal Conservatives opposed. We boosted the GIS for vulnerable seniors, provided more support to students and made investments in affordable housing. The Conservatives opposed each one.
    We will be there for Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we are two days away from the first NDP budget, sponsored by the Minister of Finance. It is the most left-leaning budget the Liberals have ever seen.
    I find it hard to believe that old-stock Liberal members are pleased to see this move toward financial irresponsibility. These big spending budgets drive up inflation, lead to higher interest rates and leave less money in taxpayers' pockets.
    Is it accurate to say that the Prime Minister has already chosen his camp, the NDP and its astronomical spending, at the expense of Canadians who are finding it increasingly difficult to pay their bills?
    Mr. Speaker, as a government, we have always been there for Canadians, and we will continue to be there.
    During this pandemic, we made investments to ensure that families did not have to go further into debt and that they could continue to put food on the table and support their loved ones. We will continue to be there.
    It is thanks to the investments we made that the Canadian economy has become so strong again and that there has been impressive job creation over the past few months. We will continue to be there in a responsible way, and I can assure the House that all the various Liberal members will support this budget.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about that.
    The Prime Minister systematically refuses to listen to the Conservatives, who are calling for more fiscal restraint. For the good of Canada, perhaps he will listen to advice from his own party. Former finance minister Paul Martin said that, “the time to reduce deficits is when the economy is growing”.
    The time to act is now. The economy has generated huge revenues for the government because of inflation. Will the Prime Minister continue to take this money from the pockets of Canadians? Will he continue to spend lavishly until those pockets are empty, as he has done since 2015?
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the Conservatives, we made a commitment to always be there for Canadians. We understand that the cost of living has gone up and that the pressures on households are real. That is why we continue to support Canadians through investments in housing and support for seniors and workers.
    The Conservatives want to return to austerity, which will hurt Canadians. We, on the other hand, will continue to invest responsibly and prudently, while continuing to be there for Canadians, because that is what Canadians need.

Climate Change

    Mr. Speaker, no one believes in the Liberal government's emissions reduction plan. In fact, everyone is united in their dislike of the plan.
    It is not as though the minister did not try. I sincerely think he did, but his own government got in the way. What we need, though, are results. The IPCC has been clear that it is impossible to meet the targets by increasing production.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that his plan is doomed for failure?
    Mr. Speaker, we presented a responsible plan that is one of the most ambitious of its kind. The Bloc Québécois should understand the importance of working with Quebeckers to create new economic opportunities and sustainable jobs.
    That is why we encourage our friends in the Bloc to talk to people like Bruno Marchand, the mayor of Quebec City, Valérie Plante, the mayor of Montreal, and the Union des municipalités, all of whom have commended our plan.
    Our priority is to work with Quebeckers, not to stir up quarrels, in order to provide them with clean air and a stronger economy.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not need to applaud his plan, because I am not asking him for a cheque. Not only is the plan scientifically unacceptable, but the government is not even trying to meet the targets.
    The proof is that he is subsidizing the oil industry, which, with its increased production, will ensure that levels of greenhouse gas emissions remain the same. Could he at least commit to saying no to the Bay du Nord project once and for all?
    Mr. Speaker, we often point out that the Bloc Québécois stirs up trouble, but today it is insulting the integrity of the mayor of Montreal and the mayor of Quebec City, who are very sincere in their desire to ensure that their citizens and the entire country have a cleaner environment and a more prosperous future.
    We are here to work with all Quebeckers, including the Bloc, on the files that are important to all Quebeckers and Canadians. We will continue to be a constructive and ambitious government in the area of climate change as we help families across the country.

[English]

Social Development

    Mr. Speaker, the cost of everything is going up. Canadians are hurting. They are having a hard time putting food on the table and finding a home they can afford. That is why we want clear steps and clear actions taken in this budget to make sure Canadians get the help they need in this difficult time.
     Will the government commit to making sure Canadians have supports so they can find a home to call their own? Will the government commit to movement on dental care, starting with children under 12? Will the government commit to these priorities in this budget?
    Mr. Speaker, over the past six years, we have been there to support Canadians, to support families, to support elders and to support students. During these two years of the pandemic, we made an explicit promise to have Canadians' backs. We did that not just because supporting Canadians is a value we believe in but also because we know it is the best way to ensure that our economy comes roaring back, that we have small businesses flourishing, that we have job creation and that we create and share prosperity across this country. That is why we are investing to support Canadians. That is why we are investing to grow the economy. That is why we are continuing to have Canadians' backs.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, people are going through tough times, with a pandemic that is hitting them hard and costs of living on the rise.
    While people are suffering, big businesses continue to earn record profits. Is the government ready to make big businesses, starting with the big banks, pay their fair share so money can be invested in social programs to help families through these tough times?
    Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning of the pandemic, we have made a promise to have Canadians' backs, to support them with whatever is needed for as long as it is needed. This has helped support Canadians during the pandemic as well as ensure a faster economic recovery than in many other countries.
    We will continue to be there to reinvest and make sure that vulnerable Canadians get the support they need while also growing the economy, creating jobs and ensuring a good future for families across this country.

[English]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are trying to balance their budgets, they are trying to feed their families and they are trying to put a roof over their heads, yet at every step the Prime Minister has abandoned them as the skyrocketing cost of living leaves millions of Canadians behind. This is a Prime Minister who promised to help the middle class and those wanting to join it, yet under this left-leaning NDP-Liberal government, that dream is now dead for millions of Canadians.
    Will the upcoming budget finally include help for Canadians who are no longer part of the middle class?
    Mr. Speaker, while the other side continues to undersell what Canadians have accomplished, there is genuine good news to share across the land. Our GDP grew for eight consecutive months. We have recovered 3.4 million jobs lost in the pandemic. We have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.
    The Canadian economy is resilient. Canadians are resilient. The economy is getting back on track. The other side might not like economic growth, but the government certainly does, and so do Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, as the NDP-Liberal government lurches further to the left, millions of Canadians have been left behind. The skyrocketing cost of living means families cannot pay for groceries or for gas to get their kids to school. The housing affordability crisis means countless Canadians have lost their dream of home ownership. It was the current Prime Minister who promised to stand up for the middle class. “I have got your back”, he said. Instead, millions of Canadians are falling behind and out of the middle class.
    Will the Prime Minister's upcoming budget help those who have been left behind by this affordability crisis?
    Mr. Speaker, in contrast to what the member opposite said, it was actually this government that helped millions of Canadians. In fact, when we brought in the Canada child benefit, it helped nine out of 10 Canadian families. They have seen hundreds or thousands of dollars each year to support putting food on the table. That is real money for real Canadians, and they know this government, whether before the pandemic, during the pandemic or after we recover, will be there for them every single step of the way.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, too many millennials make good money but are stuck in their parents' basements. They lose all hope when they see home prices up 36% in Toronto. At committee, a GTA Liberal member of Parliament said that Canada has a “healthy housing market”, yet witness after witness said the opposite. The Minister of Housing has access to the best housing information in the country.
    Does the minister disagree with his colleague that Canada has a “healthy housing market”, or will he too plant his head in the sand?
    Mr. Speaker, I wish the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola had a conversation on housing and a united approach with his colleagues for Calgary Centre, Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon and Simcoe North. They have all trashed the national housing strategy. They said that we should pull back from measures to help first-time homebuyers. They are against housing supply. They are against housing affordability investments. Those members of Parliament should get their stories straight.
    Mr. Speaker, the only thing dropping in this housing market is the Liberals' credibility on affordability. At committee, Statistics Canada representatives said, “We have not seen gains this large in 30 years. The price increases are broad-based, with the biggest drivers being gasoline, food, supply chains and a heated housing market.”
    Will the minister admit to his failures, or will he continue to blame Conservatives for his mistakes?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is really difficult to take Conservatives seriously on the issue of housing affordability. They say one thing in this august chamber and then outside, in committee—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I do not know who that was. We should be able to hear what is going on in the House. Are we ready to move on? I would like to hear the minister.
    The hon. Minister of Housing.
    Mr. Speaker, I think it is really difficult for them to hear the inconsistencies on housing affordability. That is why we are hearing a lot of noise on the other side.
    Let me set the record straight. On first-time homebuyers, on housing affordability and on making sure that Canadians have access to their dream of home ownership, Conservatives are nowhere to be found. They say one thing in this august chamber, but when they are in committee they talk down the national housing strategy, they talk down the first-time homebuyer incentive and they talk down the rapid housing initiative. Conservatives have absolutely no credibility, and Canadians know that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, all young Canadian families dream of owning a home.
    Unfortunately, home ownership remains out of reach for these families because this government is doing absolutely nothing to curb inflation. The cost of housing is increasing by over 30% a year here in Canada. That is completely unacceptable. Since the beginning of question period, this government has been bragging that its plan is working. The problem is that it is not working.
    Why do the Liberals seem to think this plan is working, when it is actually not working at all?
    Mr. Speaker, all Canadians deserve a safe and affordable place to call home.

[English]

    If the Conservatives will not listen to me, perhaps they will listen to the former Conservative minister and current Mayor of London, Ed Holder. With regard to our investments through the rapid housing initiative, he said:
     This funding...will save lives and ultimately improve the lives of those who come to occupy these desperately needed units.... We are exceptionally grateful that our commitment to this vital work is shared with equal enthusiasm by the Government of Canada.
    The Conservatives voted against that, and they voted against every other affordable housing measure that we introduced.

[Translation]

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister and congratulate him on his first French sentence, which I very much appreciate, but I must nevertheless remind him about the facts.
    The fact is, housing costs are up nearly 30% in Canada. That pushed inflation to 5.7%, which is why food costs more, gas costs more, and Canadians are paying more tax. Last week, this government had a chance to give Canadians a break by not raising the tax, but no, on Friday, the federal tax went up.
    Can the government at least commit to not raising taxes in the budget it will be tabling two days from now?
    Mr. Speaker, let us talk about the state of the economy and why it is good news for Canadians. We have had eight consecutive months of growth. Our GDP grew by 6.7% in the fourth quarter. Our trade surplus, now $6.6 billion, is at its highest point since 2008. This fall, S&P and Moody's gave us a AAA credit rating.
    That is what leadership means. That is what it means to focus on affordability. The other side does not like a growing economy, but we like it a lot.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Greenpeace, Équiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Sierra Club are unanimous: We have to say no to the Bay du Nord project. It is not complicated. It is no.
    Yesterday's IPCC report came to exactly the same conclusion. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “the truly dangerous radicals are the countries that are increasing the production of fossil fuels”.
    That is exactly what the minister would do with Bay du Nord: increase oil production by one billion barrels.
    Will the minister say no to Bay du Nord?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question and her advocacy.
    Our government recognizes the importance of the decision on Equinor's Bay du Nord development project. We are following a legislated process based on the available scientific evidence. That is why we extended the legislated timeline in order to take the time to properly review the considerable amount of complex information and make an informed decision.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is jeopardizing his credibility. He cannot introduce an emissions reduction plan and then, one week later, consider approving a project to produce one billion barrels of oil. This would negate all his efforts and put him on par with all the other environment ministers in Canada, which has introduced 11 plans since 1988 and has never even come close to reaching its targets.
    The Bay du Nord decision is the first major test for the minister. For the sake of the plan that he himself just introduced, will he say no to Bay du Nord?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    I would like to quote what some people had to say when we presented our plan last week. Équiterre's Marc‑André Viau stated, “We welcome the emissions reduction plan because this is the first time that we have such a detailed strategy to reach a target”.
    I would like to remind my colleague that our plan is based on, among other things, data from the Canada Energy Regulator, which has forecast an increase in oil production in Canada. Despite everything, our plan sets out, in black and white, how we are going to tackle pollution and achieve our emissions reduction targets by 2030.
    Mr. Speaker, many people are unsure whether the plan to extract another 1.1 billion barrels of oil with Bay du Nord will reduce emissions from the oil sector. Many do not think this makes sense, although some do, from what I gather.
    That brings us to the UN. Yesterday, in response to the IPCC report, Secretary General Antonio Guterres said “Some government...leaders are saying one thing - but doing another." He added, “Simply put, they are lying”.
    Those are harsh but necessary words. Will the minister say no to Bay du Nord?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right that there are some people, like the Conservatives, who talk about climate change. Others, like those on this side of the House, are taking action by putting a price on pollution, which is already one of the highest in the world.
    We are on our way to cutting methane emissions by 40% to 45% by 2025. We have an objective of 75%, which is the most ambitious objective in the world. It is clear that Canada's federal government can tackle pollution. My colleague knows very well that production is a provincial jurisdiction.

[English]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, “crushing”, “stunning” and “frenzy” are words the Royal Bank is using to describe the housing crisis in Canada. The Bank of Montreal is calling it a full-scale attack. Housing experts are calling the minister's programs absolute failures.
    When will the minister listen to the experts and stop blaming others for his failures?
    Mr. Speaker, I would urge the hon. member to look at what the national housing strategy is doing in his home province of Alberta. In Alberta, we are investing $444 million to support 35,000 households and pay rent. What does he have to say about that?
    It is not only that. He should have a conversation with his colleagues from various parts of the country who continue to talk down federal investments in housing through the national housing strategy, and who have dismissed efforts we are making to enable more Canadians to have access to home ownership. They want us to pull back from the national housing strategy, and they want no federal leadership in this place.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister has to keep reusing the same recycled talking points and twisting people's words because he is embarrassed, and rightfully so, of his record as minister.
    He claims to have a plan that would help make housing more affordable, but under his watch, we have seen housing prices double and rent become more unaffordable than ever before. More and more people are looking at the situation and saying that they are giving up on ever buying a home. He should finally admit that his plan for first-time homebuyers is not working. It is only actually driving prices up.
    Will the minister acknowledge his record of failure, change course and actually make housing more affordable for Canadians, and not just use the same talking points?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, I wish the hon. member would look at the federal housing investments through just one program in the national housing strategy in his home province of Ontario. Through the Canada housing benefit, we are investing $1.46 billion to support over 50,000 households to pay the rent. That is a record—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. This is the fourth time I have to stand to allow the minister to answer so that I can hear what he is saying.
    I will ask the minister to answer. He has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, I guess the record of supporting 50,000 households to pay their rent through an investment of $1.46 billion is making the other side heckle.
    Let me tell members what the hon. member who asked the question said about the national housing strategy. He said that we should “pull back” from federal leadership and investments in affordable housing. Do members know what he said about the first-time homebuyer incentive, a program to enable more young people to access their dream of home ownership? He said that we should get out of the business of helping Canadians buy their own home, and that is a shame.
    Mr. Speaker, we really do not appreciate the arrogant tone coming from the housing minister day after day, especially since after six years of this government, housing prices have effectively doubled. Half of my generation will never be able to afford a home as a result of its failed policies. A little humility would be welcomed from the Minister of Housing.
    When will the government abandon its failed housing strategy?
    Mr. Speaker, this is what the mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman, said about the rapid housing initiative: This program has been a huge success for Winnipeg. I would invite members on the other side to look at their record. They voted against the first-time homebuyer incentive. They voted against the rapid housing initiative. They voted against the Canada housing benefit. They voted against every single program we have brought to the House. They failed in government when it comes to housing and they are now failing in opposition.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, this week's budget will prove to be a pivotal point in the lives of financially struggling seniors. They need relief from the record inflation, the record increase in the price of gas, the record increase in the price of food and the record increase in the price of medications that the government has overseen.
    Will the government commit to measures for lowering the cost of living, to help all seniors in my riding and Canadians, in this week's budget?
    Mr. Speaker, excuse me, but I will not take any lessons from a party whose plan was to prolong the age of retirement to 67. On this side of the House, one of the very first things we did was restore that. We enhanced the CPP. We increased the GIS, which has helped over 900,000 single seniors. We provided direct payments to seniors during the pandemic, and we are making high-speed Internet more affordable for seniors. On this side of the House, we are going to continue to ensure we support seniors now and into the future.

Indigenous Affairs

    Qujannamiik, Uqaqtittiji.
    In Nunavut, people are feeling the impacts of the housing crisis every day. We need 3,000 more housing units so that people are not living in overcrowded housing that is in desperate need of repair. The government has only committed to building 100 units. The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy shows a current housing gap requiring $22.7 billion for first nations.
    Will the government deliver the affordable housing indigenous people need?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree. In all my travels, virtual and real, housing has been the number one issue that comes up time and again. That is why we have signed 10-year housing agreements with all three national indigenous organizations, the Métis National Council, the ITK and Inuit rights holders. We invested $513 million in infrastructure, which includes housing, last August. We know this is a priority and we are going to get it done.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, this week marks two years since 16-year-old Eishia Hudson was killed by a Winnipeg police officer. Eishia's family is mourning and waiting for answers, like thousands of families across this country that have lost loved ones to this ongoing genocide against indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.
    The Liberals must act now. Will the minister commit that the budget will include immediate, targeted and adequate funding to implement the 231 calls for justice?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is right. We are failing as a society as long as every woman, child and LGBTQ person is not safe in this country. The investments that we put in through prior budgets, like the $2 billion we invested in budget 2021, are designed specifically to address this ongoing tragedy.
    Just last week, I had the honour and pleasure of announcing investments that respond directly to call for justice 2.3 on providing safe cultural spaces for indigenous communities across the country. That has to continue. It has to continue on a systematic basis until everyone is safe in this country.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadian veterans have served our country with courage and sacrifice. They deserve our respect, our support and our gratitude. Accessing mental health services is absolutely vital to the well-being of many veterans.
    Could the minister please update the House on our recent $140-million investment to ensure that veterans get the treatment they need and deserve as quickly as possible?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Charlottetown for his work on behalf of veterans and Veterans Affairs.
    Last week, we launched our new $140-million mental health benefit, which will make sure that veterans get coverage for mental health treatments as soon as possible. This is a significant step, and I can assure my hon. colleagues that we will continue to supply the support and services that our veterans need and deserve.

[Translation]

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, in 2015, the Prime Minister promised not to buy F-35s, even though he knew that the Canadian industry had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in order to fulfill its commitments to Lockheed Martin.
    Even with his announcement last week that he would begin negotiations for purchasing the F-35s, the Prime Minister is keeping the industry in limbo. He has not committed to choosing the F-35; he has merely committed to opening a dialogue.
    My question is simple. How many more billions of dollars must be wasted before the government decides to buy the F-35s, and when will we get the first jet?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let me be clear: We have made a decision to do this in the responsible way. We are moving forward with the purchase of 88 fighter jets and we are doing that with an open, fair and transparent process. This is a significant investment and this is what Canadians expect of us. We have a rigorous process that is going to deliver the best plane for the best price with the greatest economic benefit to Canadians.

[Translation]

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, I think the notes are a few months old, but I have another question.
    If military spending is to continue, the leader of the NDP must agree to it, but he has already vowed to oppose increased defence spending related to Canada's NATO commitment, while the Liberals have said they will increase spending. The new confidence and supply agreement with the NDP, the third opposition party, guarantees support for the Liberal minority government in exchange for new investments in other areas. With this deal, the tail is wagging the dog.
    Will the Prime Minister insist that the leader of the NDP ask his troops to vote for an increase in military spending, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

[English]

    The Conservatives want to question our commitment to the Canadian Armed Forces. Let us be clear. The Conservatives, for a decade, had a chance to step up and invest in NATO and our armed forces. Instead, they decided to actively step back and allow military spending to drop below 1% of our GDP in 2013, but not us. We will continue to invest in our armed forces. We will continue to support NATO, NORAD and our Canadian Armed Forces.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the government has been ill-prepared and found wanting too many times on the national security front. It has embarrassed Canadians by its response to Ukraine and by the state of the Canadian Forces. The NATO spending goal is 2% of GDP. We are at 1.38% and number 25 overall.
    Will the defence minister commit here and now to increasing defence spending in this budget by buying F-35s and moving forward with NORAD modernization?
    Mr. Speaker, I find it unfortunate that the member opposite is characterizing the views of our Canadian Armed Forces as being ashamed. On the contrary, at the top of my mandate letter is making sure that the Canadian Armed Forces have the equipment they need to defend our country.
    I am focused on delivering results for the Canadian Armed Forces. We are increasing defence spending by 70% over a nine-year period beginning in 2017, including for NORAD modernization and our commitments to NATO.
    Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives were in government, we bought Leopard 2 main battle tanks, C-17s, C-130Js, Chinook helicopters and LAV armoured fighting vehicles. After six and a half years in power and almost $2 billion wasted on obsolete F-18s and upgrades, Canadians and the CAF need certainty. Our national sovereignty must be defended.
    How many more billions will the NDP-Liberals waste before Canada gets F-35s and announces the contract date and the delivery schedule?
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the Conservatives, who cut billions from defence, we are providing our Canadian Armed Forces members with the equipment they need to keep Canadians safe. This means we are moving to finalize contracts for 88 new fighter jets. This means we are delivering the first Canadian-built ship in 20 years. This means we are delivering six Arctic offshore patrol vessels, two of which have been built and are in the water and one of which has circumnavigated the North American continent.
    We are continuing to deliver for the Canadian Armed Forces. Why? It is because they are a priority for our country. We will continue to ensure that they are well resourced and well equipped.

[Translation]

Seniors

    Mr. Speaker, seniors are worried. They are well aware that the Liberal-NDP pact leaves them out.
    That is why the FADOQ network announced its priorities today, ahead of Thursday's budget. FADOQ wants higher income for everyone aged 65 and up, a tax credit for seniors who keep working, a refundable tax credit for caregivers, and a long-term, no-strings-attached health care funding increase.
    Will Thursday's budget meet seniors' needs or will they be passed over just like in the NDP deal?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning, our government has been there to support seniors, especially the most vulnerable. One of the very first things we did as a government was restore the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS to 65. We enhanced the GIS for the most vulnerable seniors. That has actually helped 900,000 single seniors. We of course are moving forward this year with increasing the OAS by 10% for those 75 and over. We are also making high-speed Internet more affordable for the most vulnerable seniors. On this side of the House, we are going to make sure we continue to deliver for seniors.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is not enough. Seniors have been hardest hit by inflation, especially those aged 74 and under because the federal government abandoned them.
    The cost of living is going through the roof, but old age pensions are stagnating. Despite record-breaking food and rent costs, all the federal government can tell people aged 74 and under is to go back to work, as if they were just being lazy.
    That is shameful. Seniors should work because they want to, not because the federal government abandoned them and they have no other choice. When will the government increase the pension for those up to age 74?

  (1500)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning since 2015, we have been working extremely hard to support seniors. Ensuring a safe and secure retirement is a priority for this government. We restored the OAS and GIS from age 67 to 65. We have enhanced the CPP, and Quebec followed with QPP. We have raised the GIS for 900,000 single seniors. We are investing billions in home care. We are investing billions in the connecting families initiative and in 7,000 new affordable housing units. On this side of the House we are going to continue to deliver for seniors.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, last week, I met with former Afghan interpreters on the Hill who held a hunger strike to protest the Liberals' failures in Afghanistan. They served and sacrificed for our country, but the NDP-Liberal government abandoned their families and other interpreters. They told me they feel ignored by the minister and he is being insensitive by implying that their families are security threats, even though they were screened to serve alongside our soldiers.
    Will the minister apologize to the thousands of Afghan interpreters and their families for implying that they are security threats?
    Mr. Speaker, let me state on the record that I have done no such thing. Those who worked alongside the Canadian Forces are heroes every bit as much as members of the Canadian Armed Forces who had a presence in Afghanistan.
    With respect to this specific group, we actually created a stream to resettle the extended families of previously resettled interpreters. Last week, I was on hand as we welcomed the 10,000th Afghan refugee, who has now landed in Canada. We are going to continue to do more. No matter the scale of the challenges, we are going to make good on our commitment to the individuals who want to reunite with their families here in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, another job well-filled as the minister brags about the low number of interpreters arriving. Only about 2,300 Afghan nationals who assisted our Canadian Armed Forces during the Afghan mission have actually arrived in Canada. The Afghan interpreters I spoke to have met with the minister's office 28 times. They were told over 1,000 of their family members and fellow interpreters would be in Canada by March 2022. So far, none have arrived. They are tired of the minister's politics.
    Will the minister do the right thing and apologize to the thousands of Afghan interpreters he has abandoned and admit to his failures?
    Mr. Speaker, I find this question ironic coming from a member of the Conservative Party, which previously tried to design a program that specifically excluded these same individuals from coming to Canada as refugees.
    I would remind the member again that if his electoral campaign platform is reviewed, there was no commitment to welcome Afghan refugees to Canada. We will continue to do whatever we can to get as many Afghan refugees here as quickly as possible, until we make good on our electoral commitment to welcome 40,000 Afghan refugees to Canada. This is one of the most substantial commitments of any country in the world, and we will not rest until the job is done.
    Mr. Speaker, I truly want to take the minister at his word.
     On November 10, 2021, I sent a letter to the Prime Minister pleading with him on behalf of two of my constituents. Both of them served as interpreters for NATO in Afghanistan. They came to me. They are now in Canada. They are safe, but their families have been left behind. They are asking for help.
    Despite the danger that is upon their families, the letter that I wrote to the Prime Minister was not returned. In fact, four months later, all I received simply a reply that he had forwarded my letter to the ministers. To this day, I have heard nothing. There is silence.
    I am asking the minister. I am pleading. I am not playing politics. When does he intend to help these interpreters bring their families to Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I do take the hon. member at her word, but with respect, I would like to point out that the challenges facing the refugee resettlement in Afghanistan are like nothing we have ever seen. I would remind all members of this House that the Taliban, a listed terrorist entity in Canadian law, has seized control of the territory. Many of the specific individuals who we made a commitment to are still in the country. Others who made it to a third country have challenges beyond the imaginations of most people, who have never had to deal in this sphere, which we simply do not see in other refugee resettlement streams.
    With respect to the specific group that she is speaking to, we launched on December 9 a process to specifically bring the families of previously resettled interpreters here because we believe it is the right thing. We will not rest until we have succeeded in our mission.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have been clear about what they want: good jobs, a healthy environment, a strong economy and a future for their children.
    Last week, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change released a reduction plan that outlines the next steps to continue delivering on those priorities.
    Can the minister tell the House about the very specific targets in his plan?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Pontiac for the question.
    Our plan allocates $9.2 billion in additional investments. The plan also includes an ambitious and achievable sector-by-sector approach for Canada to reach its climate target by 2030. The plan has been in development for months and reflects submissions from more than 30,000 Canadians.
    I want everyone to know that we have received a lot of support for this plan from various sectors across the country. The mayor of Quebec City, the mayor of Montreal, and a number of environmental groups and businesses have commended this plan.
    Our government is there to respond ambitiously to the climate crisis, to stimulate a clean economy, and to create sustainable jobs. We are there for Canadians.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, raising taxes on Canadians should be a test of government confidence, but the Liberal government ignored 800 years of parliamentary tradition by giving itself and future governments an automatic tax increase when it passed the excise escalator on beer, wine and spirits. Governments should have to ask Parliament every time they raise taxes.
    Will the government repeal the automatic tax increase and give the power to raise taxes back to Parliament where it belongs?
    Mr. Speaker, in this particular case, like other taxes and benefits, the alcohol excise duty rate is automatically adjusted every year to inflation, as requested by the industry, for predictability and stability. It allows the industry to predict the prices in future years.
    This increase is less than one-fifth of a penny per can of beer. There are specific measures that we take into account for other alcohol substances. These industries are important for tourism, and the tax that is part of it is important for the treasury.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, my constituents and folks throughout Newfoundland and Labrador are dealing with a health care disaster. Emergency rooms in remote areas are being forced to close. Patients face long wait times just for routine surgeries and procedures. Doctors and health care professionals are at an all-time low. Twenty per cent of the population is without a family doctor. This is not the medicare system that Tommy Douglas dreamed of.
    Will the NDP-Liberal minister commit to predictable and stable transfer payments in Thursday's budget to fix medicare in Newfoundland and Labrador?
    Mr. Speaker, I am so glad to get this question because it points to our great collaboration with the Government of Newfoundland and the great minister of health in Newfoundland. We have worked extremely well together over the last few months.
    I want to congratulate Newfoundlanders, in particular, for having some of the highest vaccination rates in Canada for children and adults, including boosters. They are doing an extremely good job. We are going to keep working with them.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, effective April 1, retroactive salary increases for the national police force collective agreement kicked in. This will financially affect municipalities across the country. Municipalities in my riding, such as the town of Edson, agree that increases for police officers are necessary, but the retroactive salaries will increase the town of Edson’s budget by about half a million dollars.
    Municipalities such as the town of Edson were not part of the negotiations, so why are the NDP-Liberals sticking them with the bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his advocacy on behalf of his community.
    As he well knows, we have an arrangement through a collective bargaining process, which does address a number of issues, including retroactive pay. I want to assure my colleague that we will continue to engage his community so the RCMP can assure there is public safety in his community and right across the country.

Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the global auto industry is undergoing a seismic shift toward zero-emission vehicles. Canada can and should be a world leader in this transformation. Canada's automotive sector plays a crucial role in our economy. It supports hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs, including hundreds in my riding of Whitby and thousands across the Durham region. This industry is driving the development and adoption of clean technologies, which will help us rapidly decarbonize on the path to net zero.
    Yesterday, I was honoured to join the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry as he announced a landmark investment in General Motors. Could the minister update the House on this investment and what it means for building a sustainable economy across Canada?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Whitby for his advocacy for the auto sector. He did a fabulous job yesterday.
    Yesterday we secured a $2-billion investment by GM in its facility in Ingersoll and Oshawa, creating 2,600 new jobs in the very first full-scale commercial EV plant in Canada. It is good news for workers, good news for Ontario and good news for the Canadian auto sector.

Public Services and Procurement

    Mr. Speaker, it has been six years since the start of the debacle with Phoenix, and one in three public service workers are still having problems getting paid. These are workers who have done critical work during COVID and are now facing the rising cost of living.
    Under the Liberals, the use of consultants has increased a staggering 41%. Today media is reporting that the Liberals are spending even more public money on highly paid consultants to fix the problems created by other highly paid consultants. They are paying the wrong people. Will the minister stop throwing money at consultants and properly compensate public service workers for the work they do?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for drawing attention to this issue, which is a priority for our government.
    Canada's public servants deserve to be paid accurately and on time. We recognize that pay issues are creating stress and hardship for employees and their families, and we are committed to making this right. That is why we are doing all we can to stabilize the Phoenix pay system, which can include outsourcing to help eliminate the backlog faster. We are making progress, but we know that there is more work to do.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, the housing crisis is hitting people hard all across the country, and the Liberals' national housing strategy is not working at all. People are being forced to live in motels, in their cars or even on the street.
    The Liberals are saying that they have built more affordable rental housing, but their definition of affordable is still above market prices. It is ridiculous. These are crazy prices that families simply cannot afford.
    Are the Liberals going to include financial supports in the budget to ensure that people can find truly affordable housing?
    Mr. Speaker, every Canadian deserves safe and affordable housing. Since 2015, we have invested more than $30 billion in affordable housing and introduced Canada's very first national housing strategy.
    Our plan, worth more than $72 billion, has already helped more than two million Canadian families get the housing they need. We know that there is still work to be done and that is why, within this mandate, we will move forward to implement—

[English]

    That is all the time we have for question period.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order.
    There have been discussions among the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion: That this House designate the first Tuesday in April as Invisible Work Day and encourage all UN member states to do the same.

[English]

    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Spending on national defence  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    We left off with the hon. member for Davenport, who had three minutes left, and I want to make sure that everybody takes their conversations outside.
    The hon. member for Davenport.
    Mr. Speaker, NATO allies' response to Russia's aggression has also accelerated NATO's transformation as it adjusts to a more dangerous strategic reality, including through the adoption of the next strategic concept at the NATO leaders summit in June. Canada is unwavering in its commitment to the NATO alliance, to the defence of Euro-Atlantic security and to the rules-based international order.
    I would also say that as Canada, we understand the need to invest in defence to be agile and adaptable in the space of evolving threats. In 2017, Canada released its current defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, which considerably increased defence spending and put in place—

  (1515)  

    There is a point of order. I am sorry to interrupt.
    Folks, if we could take our conversations outside, that would be wonderful.
    Is that the hon. member's point of order?
    We have a point of order from the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I was the one who shouted that out.
    It is almost impossible to hear the member speak. She is trying to conclude her speech. Perhaps you can ask members to leave the chamber if they want to have conversations so that we can hear what the member is saying.
    Thanks for that.
    Also, I did forget to do one thing after question period, which was to remind members not to introduce people in the gallery when they are asking their questions or what have you. It is against the rules of the House of Commons.
    We are going to go back to the member for Davenport, and I am going to give her the three minutes because it is hard to get started again.
    The hon. member for Davenport.
    Mr. Speaker, NATO allies' response to Russia's aggression has also accelerated NATO's transformation as it adjusts to a more dangerous strategic reality, including through the adoption of the next strategic concept at the NATO leaders summit in June. NATO will further develop the full range of ready forces and capabilities necessary to maintain credible deterrence and defence. These steps will be supported by enhanced exercises with an increased focus on collective defence and interoperability.
    Canada is unwavering in its commitment to the NATO alliance, to the defence of Euro-Atlantic security and to the rules-based international order. We also understand the need to invest in defence to be agile and adaptable in the space of evolving threats. In 2017, Canada released its current defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, which considerably increased defence spending and put in place a plan to equip the Canadian Armed Forces for the rapidly changing security environment.
    Canada will exceed the aspirational guideline of spending 20% of defence budgets on major equipment. This does not include expenditures associated with NORAD modernization and continental defence or the planned purchase of 88 next-generation fighter aircraft.
    The steps we are taking to ensure the security of our alliance and of the Euro-Atlantic area will require adequate resources. Canada is substantially increasing our defence expenditures, and we continue our efforts to fulfill commitments to the defence investment pledge.
    Canada is also clear-eyed about the potential threats in the Arctic and has committed to enhancing situational awareness in this domain. We will increase training and joint exercises with our Arctic allies and partners while promoting intelligence sharing in the Arctic, including with NATO.
    Our contributions to NATO demonstrate Canada's unwavering commitment to the alliance and to strengthened allied capacity to respond to the evolving security environment. Our contributions maintain and strengthen the transatlantic bond.
    In conclusion, Canada, Europe and NATO—the entire transatlantic community—is speaking with one voice. We will continue to engage the broader international community to maintain strong condemnation and pressure on Putin. The Russian leadership will answer for Russia's horrifying attacks on Ukraine. We will continue to work with our allies and partners in NATO, the G7, the OECD, the UN, the EU and the international community to support Ukraine as it fights for its country, democracy and freedom.
    We call on Russia to withdraw all of its troops from Ukraine and its illegal invasion and turn to fact-based diplomacy and dialogue. Ukraine has the right to be free and secure, and every Ukrainian deserves the right to dignity and peace.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's speech with great interest. If I heard her correctly, I think she said that the government is committed to meeting the NATO commitment of spending at least 20% of defence expenditures on equipment, and that would not include NATO modernization or the acquisition of F-35 jets.
    Could the member tell the House where she thinks the additional equipment spending should be allocated and what types of equipment the Canadian Armed Forces are in need of, in addition to the F-35 jets and the modernization of NATO that she already outlined?

  (1520)  

    Madam Speaker, the member is right in terms of what I had said in my speech. I will say that I am not sure if I have the full list available of what it is that we are planning to do.
    I will just remind everyone in this House that we have already started moving on purchasing some of that equipment. We have delivered the first Canadian ship built in 20 years. We have acquired six Arctic offshore patrol boats, and two have already been delivered to the navy. We have begun construction on a joint support ship that will provide sea replenishment as well as 4,000 jobs in Canada, and we have already delivered rifles for our Rangers, so I know we have already gotten started. I think the list will become clearer in the coming weeks and months.
    Madam Speaker, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, meeting the 2% of GDP target called for in this motion would mean increasing our military spending from about $24 billion a year now to over $54 billion. That is an extra $30 billion per year.
    While I think all Canadians want to make sure that our military is well equipped and properly funded, I want to get my hon. colleague's take on this quote from President Eisenhower. He said:
    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.
    Would the member agree that this is the best use of $30 billion, or would she like to see that money instead put into dental care for seniors and children and into expanded health care and housing for Canadians who cannot find it in this country?
    Madam Speaker, what I would say is that we are facing the greatest threat to international peace and stability in decades. As such, NATO is again looking at its strategy. It is about deterrence and it is about defence; it is not about war.
    We also have to step up as a NATO country to also look at how we are going to continue to increase our investment in NATO, because in the end that will protect us. We also have to step up and make sure that we are able to properly defend Canada, including our Arctic boundary.
    That is not to say that we, in any way, should not continue to move forward aggressively on our commitment around implementing national pharmacare as well as dental care.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, my question will be brief. After seven years of bungling, we are back at square one, even though millions of dollars have been spent. Can the member explain these seven years of bungling, job losses and wasted money?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am not quite sure I understand the mix-up the member is talking about, but I will say once again that we are living through unprecedented times with the pandemic the world has had to grapple with for almost three years now and with the unprovoked and illegal invasion of Russia into Ukraine. We are now facing the greatest threat to international peace and stability in decades.
    We have to step up. We have to look forward, not backwards. We have to look forward, put together a plan and work with our allies, not only to protect Canada but also to play our role in NATO.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan for his enthusiasm about listening to me for the next 10 minutes. I want to thank the member for Davenport for sharing that time with me today and for the opportunity to provide some input into this opposition day motion.
    I am very pleased to see that the Conservative Party is eager to spend 2% of our gross domestic product on our military. It certainly is not in keeping with what it was doing during the last Conservative government, but perhaps its members have turned a new leaf and have decided this is in fact the way we should be moving forward.
    First I would like to address where the 2% of GDP comes from and perhaps some of the challenges that are associated with it. In 2014, at the Wales summit, NATO leaders came together and made a decision collectively. It was a formal pledge to spend 2% of their nations' GDP on military expenditures specifically. This was done in order to ensure there would be fairness throughout countries in their participation and what they were putting toward NATO and the protection it offers NATO countries. It was therefore decided this would be a fair and equitable way of moving forward.
    One of the problems with that 2% figure is that different countries, at least in the beginning, were calculating their 2% differently. For example, some countries were including pensions being paid to veterans, whereas others were not. Also, in the way the program is set up, or the way it is supposed to be measured, is that any armed service a country has would be included. One of the problems Canada would face in that scenario is that our Coast Guard is considered a civilian service, whereas in the U.S., the coast guard is considered an armed service. As a result, the U.S. would include in its 2% calculation its coast guard, whereas Canada would not necessarily do that.
    After my time on the Standing Committee on National Defence and after we had an opportunity to study this 2% issue and the NATO contributions of Canada specifically, I was pleased to see in 2018 that at least NATO did update some of the ways it recommended to countries to calculate that 2%. Particularly, it did indicate that pensions, for example, would be included. It is important to establish a baseline and to be consistent across different countries.
    Canada was of course one of the founding partners of NATO, as we have heard in the House throughout the day. Canada has been in every NATO mission as a partner with our allied countries, because we see the value in making sure that NATO has the proper resources to keep its member countries safe.
    As I indicated earlier, I am very pleased to see the Conservatives supporting this. However, the problem is that—
    Mr. James Bezan: Well, you're supporting us now.
    Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Madam Speaker, the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman just heckled me and said that we are supporting them. I am happy to tell the member that I support his motion today, so if the member is looking for me to say that, I thought he could read between the lines in what I said so far. He heckled me a few moments ago and said that we are supporting them.
    That member was part of the former government. I believe he was the parliamentary secretary to defence in the former Harper government, when we saw a decrease year after year in the percentage of GDP spent on the military.
    I know I cannot use a prop in the House, but I am looking at my notes right now and I have an actual graph of the percentage of GDP—
    Mr. Garnett Genuis: Table it.
    Mr. Mark Gerretsen: Madam Speaker, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan wants me to table it. Now he is saying he does not. I was willing to do that.
    This graph is very interesting to look at, because if we go back over the last 10 years, we see a continual decrease in the percentage of GDP until it bottoms out in 2013 at less than 1%. That was the climax, so to speak, of Stephen Harper's contribution to ensuring he was properly living up to the commitment we made in the Wales summit.

  (1525)  

    After bottoming out at less than 1% of GDP, what did the graph do? It did the exact opposite. Since this Liberal government came into power in 2015, every year the amount has gone up, and the trend line is pushing up and toward that 2%.
    I am a big supporter of making sure we hit that 2% mark. The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman earlier on heckled and was surprised that I would support that. I have no idea why he was surprised by that. He and I sat on the defence committee together for four years, and we unanimously approved a report from the defence committee calling on the government to spend 2%. I think it should have been very clear to the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman exactly where I stood on it. I hope I was memorable enough for him to remember me being on the committee with him when we both spoke in favour of that. We travelled together to Ukraine and Latvia to study the work that NATO was doing abroad, in terms of Operations Reassurance and Unifier.
    He would know that I very much support this, and that is why I plan to vote in favour of this motion. However, for the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman to try to project himself from the position of being a strong advocate for spending 2% of GDP on our military, he certainly did not do that when he was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence during his time in government, albeit quite a while ago. If there is any indication from what is happening within the Conservative Party right now, it will probably be quite a while until that happens again.
    Nonetheless, I think this motion and what it is calling for are the right things to do. I think that it is important that we spend. I even remember going a step further, when I was on the committee, and suggesting that Canada should actually be part of the ballistic missile defence program in North America within NORAD. The member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman and I both visited the NORAD facility in Cheyenne Mountain, and we both saw the awkward situation in which Americans and Canadians worked incredibly well together in 95% of the room, but then there was 5% of the room where the Canadians basically were not allowed to go, and that was the part of the room that specifically looked over ballistic missile defence.
    I am on the record as having said that, in my opinion, this is something we should be doing. I can understand that prime ministers of the past have not been interested in that and have shied away from doing that, and I respect that. It is not my position, but nonetheless I can appreciate the fact that positions have been taken over the years.
    I see that my time is running out, but I want to say that I plan to support this motion and I will vote in favour of it, because I think it is the right thing to do. More importantly, if we just look at the trajectory since this government came into power, we will see that we are on our way to getting us to a point where we are spending 2% of our GDP on national defence.

  (1530)  

    Madam Speaker, I did not realize the member for Kingston and the Islands had such an obsession with me. He referred to me so often in his speech that I am not sure if I should be flattered or concerned.
    I want to just point out that we are the ones who brought forward the motion, and when I heckled him it was because he had said it was his motion. This is the Conservative Party of Canada's motion to make sure the government is committed to spending 2% in the upcoming federal budget.
    The Liberals talk the game, but they do not play it, and the only thing they have delivered on time and on budget is 17 used F-18 fighter jets. The member talks about going into ballistic missile defence. Will he commit that the Liberal government will actually sign to ballistic missile defence as part of NORAD modernization? Will he also admit that, by adding in the Coast Guard and veterans' pensions, the Liberals have padded the numbers they have today versus the numbers we had when we were in government, when we were spending to meet our commitments at NATO and in Afghanistan?
    Madam Speaker, I was very clear in my speech that my position on ballistic missile defence was my own position. Does the member wants me to commit the government on behalf of something? I am certainly not going to do that, nor am I in the position to do that, and he knows that. More importantly, to the rhetoric we just heard there, he said the Conservatives would actually do what they said they were going to do and that they walk the walk as well as talk the talk. They should explain how, at the same time as Stephen Harper went up to Vladimir Putin and told him to get out of Ukraine like a big tough guy, he was spending less than 1% of GDP on national defence. Does that sound like a government that is walking the talk and doing exactly what it says it is going to be doing?

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, yesterday evening, at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development's Subcommittee on International Human Rights, we heard from three women who are advocates for human rights in Ukraine.
    They were in Ukraine and it was the middle of the night. It was a rather unique meeting because we could sense that they were practically in bunkers. They talked about the situation, which is very tragic.
    Oleksandra Matviichuk, of the Center for Civil Liberties, has been advocating for human rights in Ukraine for many years. She has made many demands, but one of them is extremely unusual. As a lawyer, she finds it unusual. The situation was so terrible that, as an advocate for human rights, she had no other choice but to ask western countries to send more weapons.
    Can my colleague comment on that?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, Canada will continue to do everything within our power to support those who are in Ukraine right now.
    More importantly, what is happening on the other side of the world is giving us a perfect illustration as to why it is so incredibly important that we live up to our 2% commitment that we established in the 2014 Wales Summit. By doing that, we will have the proper deterrents in place to prevent countries from acting as we have seen them act lately, in particular Russia. More importantly, we will have the resources all ready to go because we will have built up the resources and assets that we need so we can utilize them in a time of need.
    Madam Speaker, in light of our talking about increasing spending to National Defence, I wonder if the member could speak to the Liberals and their continued expensive trend of contracting out the work to repair Canadian ships and planes, which results in greater expense to the military and to Canadians.
    In light of this motion, does the member believe that his government is doing enough to fully understand the impacts of contracting out work?
    Madam Speaker, when it comes to contracting out work, there are certainly going to be different opinions and different things to weigh when making those decisions. I can understand. I certainly feel as though, from time to time, we need to focus on making sure that Canadian service providers can do work on behalf of Canadians. It makes the most sense. I can also appreciate that, at times, that might not be the case. I do not think any responsible government could ever commit to 100% never contracting out, but I also think that any government needs to focus as much as it can on making sure it keeps doing things within our country.
    Madam Speaker, I am honoured to stand today to discuss increasing NATO spending to 2% of GDP here in Canada as part of our national defence. I will be splitting my time with the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. He is someone who has served our country with valour and integrity. He is someone I incredibly respect, and I know his comments later on will be something we should all be paying attention to.
    This is also the first chance I have had to get on my feet since we have witnessed the atrocities being committed in Ukraine: the war crimes that are being uncovered north of Kyiv as the Russian forces have retreated back to Belarus. When we look at the images from Bucha, Irpin and Motyzhin, we know that what we are witnessing are some very sickening war crimes that have been committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
    We do not even know the extent of the atrocities that have already been carried out in Kharkiv or Mariupol. We witnessed, in Kharkiv, the bombing of a maternity hospital where women, children and infant babies were killed and maimed. In Mariupol, Russians dropped a large bomb on a theatre where so many were seeking refuge. They had clearly marked in the parking lot that there were children there. The Russians still bombed that theatre, killing hundreds of people by some accounts.
    We all have to be concerned with what Russia's intent is in Ukraine. There was an article that came out of one of the newspapers, RIA Novosti in Moscow, that said that Russia had to de-Ukrainianize Ukraine, and tried to associate that with de-nazification. That sends a clear message of where the Kremlin is sitting, where Putin is taking this war and what his entire intent is, which would result in a genocide.
    As the person who sponsored the Holodomor memorial bill in the House, along with Raynell Andreychuk, a former senator who sponsored it in the Senate back in 2008 to recognize it as a genocide, I would never have thought that we would be talking about genocide in Ukraine not in historical terms, regarding the famine that happened in 1932-33 and that was created by Joseph Stalin and his communist thugs, but in modern times: right now, in Ukraine in the year 2022.
    This clearly demonstrates that our world has changed, and that the security threat that is facing western democracies is in flux and in peril. We had the Cold War peace dividends we were able to collect on after the fall of the Berlin wall, and the move of former soviet states to turn into free, liberated, democratic and independent countries such as Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, among others.
    We thought we were onto a new world peace and only had to worry about small state actors, terrorist organizations and transnational criminal organizations from a standpoint of national security. However, with the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin and his Russian thugs in the army, we know the world has changed. NATO is now more important than ever since the end of the Second World War.
    Essentially, the collective security in Europe and the transatlantic sphere has gone on high alert. We have to deal with this Russian threat right away. NATO members are trying to help Ukraine in every way possible so that it can win this war. The only way this war ends in Ukraine is when Ukraine beats Vladimir Putin and his Russian military back across the border.

  (1540)  

    Ukraine has been asking NATO and asking Canada for more weapons. We could be sending them more things for their coastal defence purposes, like the Harpoons that we have here in Canada and the launch systems. I know there have been proposals made to the Minister of National Defence on how we can take some of our batteries and move those over there with Harpoon missiles so that we can protect Odessa from falling and protect that coastline so Russia does not get in there and take control of the entire Black Sea coastline from Moldova all the way across to Donbass.
    They have also been calling for armoured personnel carriers. We know that here in Canada we have some light armoured vehicles that are in the process of either being retired or very soon will be retired with their replacements already in production or completed production. We could be sending our Coyote LAV IIs right now. Our Bisons and our M113 LAVs could also be going over there. We are talking about armoured personnel carriers and fighting machines that have proven themselves in Afghanistan and that can be very well used by the Ukrainian military and self-defence forces.
    They have been asking for help. As the Conservative Party leader said after the President Zelenskyy speech, we have to put into place the protection of humanitarian corridors so that those who can flee from harm's way can get out and so that humanitarian supplies can get into those cities that are being besieged.
    Just last week, we had five Ukrainian members of parliament here, and when we met with them and when they did their press conference, they were very clear that they needed all these tools, plus they needed to get fighter jets and anti-air defence weapon systems. We know that, even though Canada does not have any of those systems to give, we can go and buy them and give them to Ukraine, so that they can protect their own airspace and secure those corridors so that people can leave.
    It is important that Canada spends its 2% of its GDP on national defence in the light of the new security threat, not just to NATO but here at home, as well as in the Indo-Pacific region. We have to be spending and contributing at that level if we are going to be taken seriously when we are sitting at the table. Because we have not been serious about investing in our military and our national defence, we are not a serious consideration when we are talking about how to better serve and protect NATO and NATO allies. We are not getting invited to new tables such as the recent Australia-U.S.-U.K. treaty, where they are doing more security and national defence together in the South Pacific and throughout the Pacific region, for that matter. That is because they know that we have not been there to step up with our own investments in national security, so why would we be investing in things like the South Pacific?
    Security starts right here at home and that means we have to invest heavily in our NORAD systems as well. NORAD modernization is important. We do hear that the government has finally made a decision to buy the F-35s. That is the fighter jet that is best to serve our NORAD and NATO missions. It is also the fighter jet that the Royal Canadian Air Force has been asking for over the last 12 years. It is one that Canada has invested in heavily since the Paul Martin government when we originally signed on to the Joint Strike Fighter task force. We have been making annual commitments and payments into that program, so this is the right plane for our air force. It is the right plane for our allies, and it is the right plane for Canada's aerospace industry.
    We have to invest in that, as well as the North Warning System and low earth orbit RADARSAT. The Nanisivik naval base is still not open after six years. The icebreakers have to continue to come, as well as the submarines that have under-ice capabilities. As the member for Kingston and the Islands said, ballistic missile defence was part of that NORAD mission and that is why that also plays into investing in our military so we can do more at home, as well as do that NATO mission with new surface combatants, as well as new recruiting and investing in more heavy-lift capabilities so that we can do what is right for those who serve us.
    It is our troops, the best of the best that Canada has to offer, that deserve to have fighter jets in the air, warships on the water and submarines under the ice, so that they can serve us not just here at home but protect the world around the entire globe.

  (1545)  

    Madam Speaker, the member is very knowledgeable and I will not engage him in the “who loves 2% more” game that has been going on for a while, because it is kind of a useless exercise.
    I too want to pick up on the member's comments about the peace dividend during the Cold War, which is critical to our understanding of the Canadian government's casualness toward defence spending. We have enjoyed the peace dividend that is provided primarily by the American umbrella and we need to change our attitude toward defence spending.
    Madam Speaker, it is inherent upon all of us to start talking about this publicly so that Canadians realize it is a necessary expense of their tax dollars to make this investment, a huge investment. It is going to take billions of dollars and, in some estimates, upward of $60 billion to make the investments on an annual basis in the equipment, the bases that we need, as well as the wings that need to be modernized to deal with the new threats that we have.
    The Soviet Union came to a sudden halt because it went bankrupt and with great diplomacy by a number of world leaders. That has been turned on its head, and not just by what we are witnessing right now with the full invasion of Ukraine. This war started in Ukraine back in 2014 with the annexation and illegal occupation of Crimea by Russia and the war in Donbass. It has been eight years of war and all allies have been slow to rise to this occasion to prevent what we are dealing with right now.

  (1550)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, for many years, when I have heard the Conservatives asking questions in the House, I have noticed that they are always concerned about the Liberal government's spending sprees. Knowing its past and how it manages money, we can agree that these concerns are sometimes justified.
    Does my colleague believe that if we increased the Canadian Forces' budget, for example, since everyone agrees that it is under-equipped, we would also run the risk of the Liberal government spending the money haphazardly as usual and of ending up with very little for a hefty price?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, first and foremost, the world changed in 2014. As for the investments in the Canadian Armed Forces, without continuing to rely upon the peace dividend after the end of the Cold War, it was time to start making those major investments. That is why Prime Minister Harper signed on to the Wales Summit pledge that we would hit that 2% of GDP. It took the full-scale invasion of Ukraine to get there now.
    We have to fix the procurement system. That is the only way we can ensure we get equipment delivered faster, and we can get the kit that is required. We need to use the Defence Production Act as much as possible and ensure that there is not a misappropriation of dollars in things like defence procurement. A lot of the things that we are talking about, including NORAD modernization, are going to require us to buy off the shelf. A lot of companies around the world make it and that is the way we are going to get the best kit for our troops.
    Madam Speaker, it is the massacre of civilians in Bucha and the allegations of mass rape that have shocked the world, but it really is just an escalation of the war of terror that the Putin regime has been running against the people of Ukraine. It really is a line in the sand for us in Canada and for the world.
    I have enormous respect for my colleague's expertise on this. The number one obligation is getting international war crime investigators in there so it can be documented because we are dealing with a disinformation terror regime, and second is getting the materials on the ground to help the people of Ukraine defend their skies, defend their communities and stop the killings and torture of their people by the Putin gang.
    Madam Speaker, we need to continue to isolate Putin and the Russian regime on the world stage, including taking them off the UN Human Rights Council. We need to make sure Putin and everyone who is responsible for using rape as a weapon and committing the atrocities against civilians in Ukraine, which are being documented, are all pulled in front of the Hague and face the International Criminal Court for committing these atrocities.
    Who would have thought that we would be talking about the definition of “human rights” and about war crimes in our modern age, but here it is in our generation. It is sickening.
    Madam Speaker, as always, it is an honour to rise here in the House, not only on behalf of my constituents of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound but on an issue of such fundamental importance to all Canadians, that of supporting our Canadian Armed Forces and the need to meet our NATO commitme