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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
There being no motion at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
, seconded by the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, moved that the bill be concurred in.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I think there would be agreement for the motion to be carried unanimously.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
, seconded by the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard, moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be speaking today to Bill S-223, the next, and hopefully the last, in a long line of bills that have been proposed here and in the other place to begin the fight against the horrific practice of forced organ harvesting and trafficking.
I want to thank the member for Pierrefonds—Dollard for seconding the bill and recognize the incredible work done by Senator Ataullahjan as well, who proposed the bill. I have the honour of carrying that work on in this place.
The bill would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ taken without consent. Bill S-223 would also create a mechanism by which a person could be deemed inadmissible to Canada for involvement in forced organ harvesting and trafficking. The bill recognizes the basic moral principle that killing people or exploiting them for their organs is wrong everywhere and should be stopped everywhere.
Efforts to combat this practice have been ongoing in Canada's Parliament for close to 15 years, and the time that has elapsed underlines the sad reality of how long it takes to pass good private members' bills, even when everyone agrees. However, Bill S-223 has now made it further than any of its predecessors. Having passed the Senate and now been reported back from committee without amendments, the bill only needs to complete this third reading stage and receive royal assent before becoming law. Thanks to the member for Bow River trading with me today and the member for Simcoe North trading the second hour slot on Wednesday, the bill will complete debate this week and should pass its final vote in time for Christmas.
In the past I have always given uncharacteristically short speeches on the bill, trying to engineer an early collapse to debate to move the bill along more quickly. However, given that we now have the security of a second hour for debate lined up and a tight time line to move forward in any event, I will use the opportunity to now, for the first time, to lay out my views on this subject in the level of detail that the full time allows.
The bill responds to one particularly egregious human rights violation, but it would also take an important step toward the embracing of a vital principle of human rights more broadly; that is, the idea of the universality of human rights and of the responsibility of nations to prudentially use the means at their disposal to protect fundamental human rights, not only within their own nations but for every human being in every corner of the globe.
Bill S-223 would apply criminal prohibitions against organ harvesting and trafficking beyond Canada's borders. It recognizes that organ harvesting and trafficking is not just wrong in Canada as a result of particularly Canadian values or a particularly Canadian social contract. Rather, it recognizes that organ harvesting and trafficking is wrong because it denies the universal principle of inherent human dignity and value, a principle that should be understood and applied universally. In this sense, the bill seeks to continue the process of innovation around the principle of national sovereignty that began in 1948 with the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Today, I would like to make the case for the importance of embracing this continuing process of innovation, though with appropriate balance and with necessary parameters.
The principle of national sovereignty comes most sharply from Peace of Westphalia, which ended 30 years of war in the Holy Roman Empire in 1648. National sovereignty emerged as a necessary practical compromise from the new reality created by the Protestant Reformation. Prior to the Reformation, western Europe had a kind of moral and religious unity, with the Pope as spiritual leader and the Emperor as a temporal ruler whose practical jurisdiction varied from place to place, but who expressed a kind civilizational unity of the western Christian world.
The Reformation ended that unity and led to generations of wars, with most of the Catholic powers struggling to restore that civilizational unity and with the Protestant powers, with the periodic help of France, seeking to break the power of the Pope and Emperor and create a reality in which nation states could be their own authority in most areas. The Peace of Westphalia, more from exhaustion than decisive victory, marked the end of this period of religious wars and the beginning of the period of nation states.
Notably, this was not the beginning of some great flowering of individual freedom, liberty and human rights. The division of Europe into blocs meant that Catholics were persecuted in Protestant nations just as Protestants were persecuted in Catholic nations, and later as Catholics were brutally persecuted in anti-religious revolutionary France. Westphalia was not about saying that individuals could believe and do what they liked; it was “cuius regio, eius religio”, the religion of the ruler shall be the religion of the state. Under these circumstances, religious persecution continued for hundreds of years, and nations, though less inclined to fight wars over religion, fought wars that reflected the aspirations of rulers, no longer checked or mediated by super-national structures that reflected civilizational unity.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw the rise of new universalist movements. The French Revolution and later Marxism were great threats to existing structures and ideas of national sovereignty, because they made universal claims about the kinds of power structures that should exist, instead of accepting the Westphalian idea that it was up to the local political authorities to decide how a place would be governed.
These movements were obviously different, but a common thread can be discerned in the thinking of political universalists of both the pre-Reformation and the Revolutionary type. They believed that, insofar as there is such a thing as truth, insofar as there is such a thing as human nature and insofar as there is a resulting right and wrong way for a people to be governed, efforts should be made to apply these principles universally. There is intuitive logic to the idea that truth and justice for human beings in one place should be the same as truth and justice for human beings in another place.
There are more modern arguments made for the rejection of this kind of moral universalism that propose the general subjectivity of truth. I will comment more on these arguments later. For the time being, we should note that the emergence of national sovereignty as a principle in European politics did not arise from the rejection of absolute truth in religious and political matters. Rather, it arose from the practical recognition that such universals could not be practically enforced through warfare, at least not at any acceptable cost. The idea of national sovereignty was seen as a necessary political compromise to preserve some measure of peace and security.
It is hard to say how well national sovereignty actually worked at achieving its objectives. One can never test counterfactuals, but we can never know what would have happened in Europe if this piece of political technology had not been invented. Certainly, Europeans kept fighting wars of various kinds after 1648, but the return of the broadest and most devastating European wars tended to align with the emergence of new universalist ideologies.
Following the last of these total European wars, nations came together to try to shape a new kind of settlement. This included the formation of the United Nations in 1945 and also the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights exactly 300 hundred years after the signing of the Peace of Westphalia.
Many of history's human rights declarations, especially prior to 1948, were calls to arms or efforts to justify a violent revolution. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was radical insofar as it asserted the universality of various fundamental human rights, but it was also conservative in the sense that it was the project of nation states, within a framework that still recognized nationality with sovereignty, it did not legally bind the state signatories to actually uphold the rights therein, and, of course, it did not contain a call to armed enforcement by the people.
This provided a somewhat contradictory foundation, and international human rights law has continued to evolve and grow since 1948 on that foundation that recognizes both national sovereignty and universal human rights as being of great importance.
Notwithstanding the evident tension between these concepts, international diplomacy and law today recognizes that we cannot and ought not dispense with either. An absence of recognition of national sovereignty would lead to perpetual conflict between nations representing irreconcilable philosophical systems. This was the background prior to the Peace of Westphalia and a reality intermittently renewed by the rise of universalist revolutionary and totalitarian movements.
However, the absence of any limits on national sovereignty aimed at protecting universal human rights would create a reality in which we would look the other way when nations would commit the most dastardly crimes toward their own people. Any moral person who believes in justice and universal human dignity must, at a certain point, refuse to consent to allowing certain evils to be committed in the name of national sovereignty. Even if the only consideration is national sovereignty, history shows us clearly that nations that show capricious disregard for the rights of their own people quickly become a menace to their neighbours.
Recognizing the necessary tension between national sovereignty and international human rights, the approach of many nations has sadly been to talk the talk of international human rights, but not to put in practice meaningful mechanisms to enforce such rights.
The clearest example of this approach is the approach taken to the crime of genocide. Canada is a party to an international convention that seeks to define and make illegal the crime of genocide, regardless of assertions of national sovereignty. I strongly support this idea in principle and in practice. Slaughtering a group of people in an attempt to eradicate them is a horrific denial of universal human dignity of the person, and we should do what we can to prevent it. However, unfortunately, while assenting to the idea in principle that genocide should be an international crime, the Government of Canada has been reluctant to actually recognize any acts of genocide while they are progress. It claims that its obligation to act in response to genocide is triggered by a determination by some undefined competent international authority, even if such authorities are easily manipulated by the state committing genocide.
Additionally, this line from the government is fundamentally out of step with our actual legal obligations under the Genocide Convention. Our obligations, as a signatory to the convention, are to uphold that convention, which includes our responsibility to protect victims of genocide, regardless of national sovereignty and regardless of determinations by UN bodies. This is the legal obligation that we have assumed.
I also acknowledge the reality that it is not prudential to send in our troops in every case where genocide is happening. However, rather than burying our heads in the sand and denying the existence of genocide, the government could seek to clearly define the nature and also the limitations of how we would operationalize a responsibility to protect.
In my view, we need to develop real tools for practically integrating a commitment to universal human rights with a commitment to some form of national sovereignty. If an individual is involved in a violation of international human rights and if the nation state in which the person lives elects not to punish them or even condones their actions, national sovereignty limits our ability to punish this criminal. However, without resorting to means that are imprudent and likely to lead to even greater violence, we should still seek ways to punish those involved in human rights violations beyond our borders and thus deter criminals from committing these crimes.
Enter Bill S-223, a little bill with a big idea. It is the idea that we should use the means reasonably at our disposal to punish violations of fundamental human rights that happen beyond our borders. We could do this by punishing Canadians who are complicit in these acts of violence and by shunning foreigners who are involved in such violence. In light of the emergent reality of global connectivity, these kinds of limited tools are still meaningful and begin the process of deterring crime that happens beyond our borders.
It is a good thing that, if we agree it is always and everywhere wrong to do such and such a thing to a human being, we try to come up with some mechanism of accountability for these crimes that is prudent and that does not return us to the kind of world that existed between the Protestant Reformation and the Peace of Westphalia.
This idea of actively applying international human rights principles extraterritorially is about us doing what we can under the circumstances to advance justice. A commitment to this principle is why I have worked hard on this bill and also why I strongly support similar legislative mechanisms, such as the increasing use of Magnitsky sanctions, the adoption of Bill C-281, which is the international human rights act, and the adoption of Bill S-211. I support these legislative efforts to promote justice beyond our borders, because my children here in Canada are no more or less human than Uighur children, Rohingya children, the young nephew of my assistant who faces a hard winter in Ukraine or Kian Pirfalak, a nine-year-old boy who was murdered by police while attending a pro-freedom protest in Iran.
In conclusion, I want to return to a question I raised earlier: the case for universal moral claims in a world made up of diverse cultures and political traditions.
Every society since the dawn of time has tried to regulate itself with doctrines of something like morality. It is impossible for people to live together in a community if they do not regulate their interactions in some way. Furthermore, it is in our nature as beings to try to live rationally, to try to explain the decisions we make with reference to some good or goods.
However, while there has never been a society without some kind moral doctrines, and while those moral doctrines have sought to protect the lives and security of certain individuals, most societies have excluded certain groups or individuals from that protection. They have sought to protect an in-group without protecting an outgroup, seeking to narrow the definition of what it is to be human and perhaps allowing the exploitation of the outgroup for some advantage.
The core of my political philosophy is a simple commitment to universal humanism. It is the idea that we should not think in terms of in-group and outgroup when making decisions about fundamental human rights. If we are to speak authentically about human rights, then these are rights for all humans, regardless of age, environment, citizenship, skin colour or any other factor. Throughout history and still today, there are many who seek to limit the human family for their own convenience, but I believe that a person is a person.
Naturally there are certain kinds of rights that do flow from exchange. A worker has a right to wages. That is a right particular to the worker. A citizen has certain rights that accord with the obligations they have taken on to the nation in which they live. However, when we speak of human rights, these are rights that do not exist because of exchange. Rather, they are rights that flow from the universal nature of the human person.
Ideas of rights and justice are philosophical propositions that cannot be proven scientifically. All doctrines of human rights have their roots in something like faith: in the embrace of propositions that are not scientifically verifiable. However, the idea of universal human rights flowing from a universal humanness can be supported by observing how it accords with the universal aspirations of all people.
Today, as we speak, the people of China and the people of Iran are taking to the streets bravely demanding change. As we speak, incredibly, both of these totalitarian governments are at least feigning in the direction of concession. Also, the people of Ukraine have resisted and continue to heroically resist Putin's invasion, even as more and more Russians bravely express their own discontent.
I am proudly here today endorsing this universal movement for freedom and justice, to say that a person is a person no matter where they live and to say that we can and should prudentially work to affirm and give greater meaning to the idea of universal human rights.
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
2022-12-05 11:19 [p.10386]
Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan a question.
We are working together on the Uighur file, which is an important issue. We are the co-chairs of the Canada-Uyghur Parliamentary Friendship Group.
I ask the member how the bill would impact this grave and serious human rights concern, which the House has said is a genocide occurring currently against the Uighur people. How does he see this bill ameliorating that particular situation right now?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, we have seen many initiatives before the House, including my friend's Motion No. 62, and these initiatives deal with different parts of the genocide: recognition, sanctions, immigration measures and forced labour. There are many different pieces to it that require a response.
This bill seeks to combat forced organ harvesting and trafficking. We have been hearing more and more reports that Uighurs have been victim to forced organ harvesting and trafficking. By cutting off some of the demand for those organs and by seeking to in some sense punish those involved in forced organ harvesting and trafficking, this bill is an important step. There are still many more steps required, but it is an important step in trying to advance justice fo Uighurs.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for shepherding this bill to this stage. It has been a long journey. I have a question based on the earlier intervention, aside from what is happening with the Uighur population.
Over the many years the member has been involved in trying to shepherd this bill through the Parliament of Canada, can he inform the House what the trends and statistics have been like worldwide that underline a strong a case and necessity for this bill being passed into law at this moment in time?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, there are different kinds of cases of forced organ harvesting and trafficking. We often speak of the situation in China, where forced organ harvesting and trafficking are part of the persecution of dissidents or minorities. Falun Gong practitioners have been significantly targeted for decades. Now we are seeing an increase in the targeting of Uighurs as part of a state-directed and state-controlled system.
However, in many other countries around the world where forced organ harvesting and trafficking happen, they are not likely coordinated by the state but in the dark ungoverned or less governed corners of society. People who are poor and vulnerable are taken advantage of and coerced or compelled into giving up their organs.
We know this is a problem, and there have been various efforts to quantify it. It is a difficult thing to quantify. It is particularly difficult to quantify the extent to which Canadians are or are not complicit in this, but the bill takes an important step in responding to that reality throughout the world.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan's dissertation was well researched and well articulated.
We know that Falun Gong practitioners have been unfairly and unjustly targeted by the regime in Beijing for organ harvesting. They are denied freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom expression, things that we take for granted here in Canada.
We know that our former colleague David Kilgour, as well as David Matas, wrote a large study and briefing document on those responsible for the organ harvesting of the Falun Dafa in China. They brought forward, along with Falun Gong practitioners here in Canada, over 20 names of those who have profited from the very gross, which I mean in every way possible, human rights violations of Falun Gong practitioners in China, who have had their organs harvested for being political dissidents. None of them have ever been sanctioned.
Can the member speak to whether this bill would allow us to make sure that nobody in Canada profits from or gains access to these illicit organs? Why we are not sanctioning the individuals who are responsible for this?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, this bill would create a mechanism by which those involved with forced organ harvesting and trafficking would be inadmissible to Canada.
In terms of broader sanctions, Magnitsky-style sanctions, it is important that we also pass Bill C-281, which would create a mechanism through which a parliamentary committee could recommend people for Magnitsky sanctions. That would help us move forward to ensure that more people involved in these kinds of human rights violations are put on the sanctions list.
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
2022-12-05 11:24 [p.10387]
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by thanking the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan.
I also want to thank Senator Ataullahjan, who has created this conversation within our House, the lower house, the House of Commons.
This Senate bill, Bill S-223, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs), is a critical piece of legislation that would help us address a grave and serious human rights concern. It is new legislation that adds to an existing body of law, which addresses criminality but not with respect to organ harvesting outside of Canada's territory.
I want to acknowledge our collective commitment to ensuring that these important reforms become law. This is a commitment from all members of the House, from what I can see. The important and beautiful thing about this legislation and discussing it is we are focused on the public good, putting aside our partisan squabbles to promote what is right and just.
First, I would like to review the history of the legislative reform proposed in this bill.
The issue of organ trafficking has been before Parliament for a decade. Prior to Bill S‑223, there were two Senate public bills that proposed nearly identical reforms. They were Bill S‑240, introduced in 2017, and Bill S‑204, introduced in 2020. In addition, two private member's bills introduced in 2017 and 2013 proposed similar reforms. They were Bill C‑350 and Bill C‑561. We all agree that organ trafficking is a heinous crime. It requires a legislative response.
As I said earlier, this piece of legislation would create something new within the Criminal Code that speaks specifically to the trafficking of organs extraterritorially, or outside the territory of Canada. Additionally, it would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act so those who are seeking to reside permanently in Canada or foreign nationals would be inadmissible to our beautiful country for engaging in conduct that constitutes one of the offences proposed in this legislation. These offences target anybody who obtains organs, or who participates in or facilitates the trafficking of organs, from a person who did not provide informed consent. This legislation also seeks to target those who obtained organs that are purchased and those who participate in or facilitate the transfer of purchased organs.
These are coercive practices. They are difficult to prove, but we want to send a clear and strong signal that we as a country do not accept them.
Unfortunately, we know that people who are wealthier unwittingly or sometimes wittingly engage in this practice. Those who are victims of this practice are almost always deeply vulnerable. The transplant of organs without consent is abhorrent. Oftentimes, it leads to devastating impacts on those who had their organs trafficked. They are uncompensated, they live with lifelong problems and they sometimes die.
The member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and I participated in an important study on the Uighur people. This was over two years ago at the parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights.
We heard testimony from a survivor of the concentration camps within Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. He recounted to us, in testimony, how he was apprehended. He was asked to sign a forced confession and refused to do so. He was medically examined to such an extent that he thought he would be dissected on that table, that his eyes were going to be removed or that his organs were going to be harvested on the spot during the examination.
This piece of legislation seeks to target any behaviour that harvests organs from people.
I recognize that the Criminal Code may apply currently to some of the conduct that this bill is seeking to legislate. Right now, the Criminal Code has assault offences that apply when organs are harvested here in Canada with coercion. This piece of legislation, as I mentioned earlier, also looks at what happens outside of Canada.
Right now, there is no international covenant from the UN that speaks specifically to organ harvesting in its essence as the main thrust of the covenant. However, there are two covenants that do touch upon organ harvesting, and Canada is party to both of these UN instruments. The first is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. This supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was ratified on May 13, 2002.
After this first piece of international law came the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. This protocol addresses offering, delivering and accepting a child for the purposes of transferring children's organs, particularly article 3. This was ratified on September 14, 2005.
The Council of Europe Convention against Trafficking in Human Organs, adopted in 2014, also speaks directly to organ harvesting.
I will conclude by recognizing the important work that has been done around this, in particular by David Kilgour and David Matas. They have done extensive research around Falun Gong or Falun Dafa practitioners and have dedicated years to highlighting this particular issue around organ harvesting.
We know that David Kilgour served in the House for many years with the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. He was a person of conviction. He was a person who continued to remain active after serving the House. He was somebody I crossed paths with before entering the House. I remember this gentleman as a sincere person who advocated for the public good and for human rights.
It is important to also mark David Matas, who along with David Kilgour conducted extensive research. It allowed us to build a body of evidence that proved not only anecdotally but also empirically that this is an abhorrent phenomenon occurring right now.
Recently, in the Subcommittee on International Human Rights, we heard how this is currently happening to the Uighur people. In the airports in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in Urumqi, if my memory serves me correctly, there were lines on the floor as one entered the airport that specifically demarcated where one could pick up organs. This is abhorrent. This type of practice must stop. This practice might exist currently within a region of the world that we know, but this legislation applies across the board.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to address the House, and I am glad to be here to talk about Bill S‑223 today.
I love it when there is consensus in the House and all parties, no matter their political leanings, agree on an issue. I am happy to see that that is the case for this bill. I think this type of legislation is a step in the right direction for both Quebeckers and Canadians. I am very happy.
We know that organ trafficking is a barbaric practice that has been around for a long time and has become more prevalent with the arrival of the Internet and improved immunosuppressant drugs. I believe it is our duty to enact legislation about this. Canada does not yet have legislation prohibiting people from engaging in transplant tourism, which means travelling abroad, buying organs, having them transplanted and returning to Canada. It is about time we enacted this kind of legislation.
This bill provides an additional tool to combat trafficking in human organs, which speaks to the social and economic inequalities that unfortunately still exist around the world. It is also an additional tool to combat criminal groups. The bill is a step in the right direction in the fight against organ trafficking, but its effects will be proportional to the effort put into increasing knowledge and awareness about organ donation in order to address the shortage of organs needed for people waiting for a second chance.
There has been a lot of discussion about the facts pertaining to this bill, and I would like to focus on a few of them. Bill S-223 explicitly makes it a crime to travel abroad to receive a transplanted organ that was removed without free and informed consent and obtained for consideration. Simply put, it prohibits individuals from engaging in a practice abroad that is prohibited in Canada. The Criminal Code prohibits the exploitation of individuals, which includes organ and tissue harvesting. Once again, the bill provides an additional tool, as I just mentioned.
Technically speaking, the bill amends section 7 of the Criminal Code so that, if a person is found guilty of organ trafficking abroad, they will also be found guilty of the same crime in Canada. The bill also adds a few provisions regarding the removal of organs without consent.
The bill makes it a crime to obtain an organ to be transplanted into one's own body or the body of another person “knowing that the person from whom it was removed or a person lawfully authorized to consent on behalf of the person from whom it was removed did not give informed consent to the removal, or being reckless as to whether or not such consent was given”.
The bill also makes it a crime to carry out, participate in or facilitate the removal of an organ from the body of another person “knowing that the person from whom it was removed or a person lawfully authorized to consent on behalf of the person from whom it was removed did not give informed consent to the removal, or being reckless as to whether or not such consent was given”. It also makes it a crime to do anything in connection with the removal of an organ from the body of another person. It is clear that Bill S-223 makes any involvement in any such activity a crime.
The bill would also prevent immigrants from becoming Canadian citizens if they are found guilty of a crime related to trafficking in human organs. I think that is an interesting addition to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
I would like to reiterate a few facts that were mentioned by several of my colleagues and that are good reasons for voting in favour of this bill. First, we all know that in 2002 Canada signed the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. This UN protocol, better known as the Palermo Protocol, prohibits trafficking in persons, whose definition includes the removal of organs.
There is also the 2008 Declaration of Istanbul, which invited states to implement measures to fight organ trafficking, specifically transplant tourism. I also want to mention that Canada adheres to the World Health Organization's 11 guiding principles that prohibit monetary payment for the different parties for organ donation. They also require the free and informed consent of the donor, the protection of minors, and the allocation of organs removed to be guided by ethical and equitable norms.
Through its participation in certain international declarations or conventions, Canada has clearly committed to fighting trafficking in human organs. Bill S‑223 does exactly that.
Unfortunately, we know that there are far more people in the world in need of a new organ than there are organs available. As in any market where it is possible to make money because demand far outweighs supply, people can turn to the black market to obtain what they need. When a person's life is on the line, the will to survive may override morals.
The facts I will be sharing describe the seedy underbelly of organ trafficking. These are things that have been mentioned in the media, including in recent years. It goes as far back as the 2000s.
According to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, the organ trade occurs in three broad categories: traffickers who force victims to give up an organ; those who sell their organs out of financial desperation, often only receiving a fraction of the profit or even nothing at all; and victims who are duped into believing they need an operation and the organ is removed without the victim's knowledge.
Organ trafficking is an organized crime that involves many offenders, including the recruiters who identify the vulnerable person, the transporter, the hospital or clinic staff, the medical professionals who perform the surgery, the middleman, the buyers, and the banks that store the organs. This is clearly not a one-man show; there may be several people involved in this type of activity that we are looking to criminalize.
According to the UN initiative, the entire ring is rarely exposed. In fact, a 2004 World Health Assembly resolution urged member states to take measures to protect vulnerable groups from transplant tourism and the sale of tissues and organs.
Transplant tourism is the most common way to trade organs across national borders. Recipients travel abroad to undergo organ transplants. Some websites offer all-inclusive packages. For example, the price of a kidney transplant abroad ranges from $70,000 U.S. to $160,000 U.S.
According to the World Health Organization, one in 10 organ transplants involves a trafficked human organ, which amounts to about 10,000 per year. While kidneys are the most commonly sold organs, hearts, livers, lungs, pancreases, corneas and human tissue are also illegally traded.
In a recent report, Global Financial Integrity stated that organ trafficking, which occurs in many countries, is on the rise and generates between $600 million and $1.2 billion in profit annually.
In Iran, the only country where trade in human organs is legal, organ sales are closely monitored. This practice has eliminated the waiting list for kidney transplants and increased post mortem organ donations, for which there is no compensation in Iran.
According to a Harvard University study, donors come from poor countries in South America, Asia and Africa, whereas recipients are often from developed countries such as Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel and Japan.
According to Michigan State University research into the black market for human organs in Bangladesh, the average price of a kidney was $1,400 U.S. The price has since gone down because of abundant supply.
In conclusion, I could go on and on with more fascinating facts. Less than a week ago, in fact, Radio-Canada's Enquête looked into the failings of our health system and provincial health systems in Canada with respect to organ donation. According to Dr. Pierre Marsolais, Canada was a leader in the field 20 years ago. Now it is at a standstill.
Rather than turning to the poor and indigent to supply organs for transplants, why is Canada not trying harder to re-establish itself as a leader in this field?
There are other things that can also be done to support organ donation, besides passing this bill, and there are other ways members can show their support. I am not familiar with what the other provinces do, but in Quebec, people can consent to donate their organs and tissue by signing the back of their health insurance cards or by registering directly on the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec website. This small act can save up to eight lives and restore the health of another 20 people. If everyone did that one small thing, it could make for a much brighter future for so many people.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, it is a real honour to be able to rise today to speak to Bill S-223. Before I get into my remarks, it is important to recognize the two individuals who have been working diligently over the years to shepherd this bill through Parliament, starting in the other place, with Senator Ataullahjan, and here, the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. Both individuals have been long involved in this process, over several Parliaments.
The bill, of course, passed very quickly through second and third reading in the other place. In fact, it even skipped consideration by the committee on December 9 of last year. It gives a sense of the arduous journey that private members' bills, both from the Senate side and from the House side, have to make in order to pass the entire parliamentary process: the fact that we are here in December 2022, only now considering its third reading, and it has taken a full year to get to that stage.
Before I get into the details of why this legislation is necessary, I would like to talk about a few key points in terms of what the bill is going to do, so we are all very clear on what the House is going to be debating and hopefully passing in short order.
Essentially, it is a substantive amendment to a narrow section of the Criminal Code in relation to the crime of trafficking in human organs. We know that organs like kidneys and livers are being forcibly removed from many people, but this bill, with a new section 240.1, is going to create some new offences: anyone who obtains organs without informed consent, either for use in another person or for themselves; anyone who is involved in the carrying out of the procedure to remove those organs without informed consent; and anyone who does anything in connection with the removal of the organs without informed consent.
That is quite broad. It could involve anyone who was involved in allowing a place to be used for the surgery and anyone who is involved in the transportation of the organs or their smuggling across borders. It is a very real problem. It is something that, through several Parliaments, we have been waiting for substantive action on.
We know this is a crime that disproportionately affects people who live in impoverished countries and who live under authoritarian rule and do not have access to the same rights, privileges and equality under the law that we sometimes take for granted here in Canada. It is important that countries like Canada, with its well-known track record in standing up for human rights and the rule of law, not only here in our own country but abroad, follow suit and really establish what we think should be the norm and what all citizens of the world should be able to enjoy.
There is also a very important amendment to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, so that a permanent resident or any foreign national would be inadmissible to Canada if the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship is of the opinion that they have engaged in any activities related to the new offence that is going to be put into the Criminal Code through the passage of this bill.
Through the conversation today, I have heard several members talk about how having this provision in Canadian law for a crime that occurred in another country is important. It reminds me that we sometimes have a double standard in this place about how we apply Canadian law.
I have been a member of this House for seven years now. I was here in the 42nd Parliament. I remember a previous private member's bill, which was sponsored by the member for New Westminster—Burnaby. It was Bill C-331. In the dying days of the 42nd Parliament, we managed to come to a vote on that bill at second reading. It was June 19, 2019, pretty much the very last day of the 42nd Parliament.
That was an important bill, because it intended to amend the Federal Courts Act so that people from other countries who wanted to bring a civil claim could do so under the jurisdiction of federal court.
The nature of the claims could have to do with genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity, slavery or slave trading, extrajudicial killings, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, or the sale or trafficking of persons. These are all crimes that every member of this House agrees are abhorrent and certainly need the full force of the law.
The problem is that when the member for New Westminster—Burnaby was attempting, for many good reasons, to bring that bill forward, the House voted against it. In fact, the Liberals and the Conservatives joined together to shut the bill down at second reading.
I do not want to take away from the debate on the bill today. Bill S-223 is going to have our full support. I just hope that when Parliament is conducting itself and when we see value in these types of measures that try to apply Canadian law to things that happen abroad, we can do so on a consistent basis.
We need to recognize that there are huge problems out there, not just with human trafficking in organs, but also in war crimes, slavery and other methods. Should the member for New Westminster—Burnaby try to bring that initiative back, I hope the House will apply the lessons from the debate on Bill S-223 to that similar and worthy initiative.
Bill S-223 is no stranger to us. In the 42nd Parliament, it was before the House as Bill S-240. The reason I think it is a forgone conclusion that this bill is going to pass the House is that it is identical to the version we debated and passed as Bill S-240. In fact, in the 42nd Parliament it received the unanimous support of the House at second reading and again at third reading on April 30, 2019.
The important and notable difference with Bill S-223 is that it incorporates the amendments the House made to the previous version of the bill. That is what caused the delay on Bill S-240. It had to be sent back to the Senate so it could consider House amendments.
Unfortunately, at that time, the bill was held up because of the procedural shenanigans going on in the other place related to the old bill, Bill C-262, which was introduced by my former colleague, Romeo Saganash. That was his attempt with a private member's bill to enshrine the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I am glad to see, from the tone and content of the speeches so far, that there is recognition that this is an important and long-overdue change to criminal law. It sends a strong message, not only to people around the world who are facing these barbaric practices under regimes such as China, and we have heard well-documented testimony on what the Uighur population is going through, but also to impoverished people living in countries where the rule of law is applied selectively at best.
These people may be targeted by criminal organizations. We have heard testimony from people who have woken up in a drugged haze to someone wearing a surgical mask and gloves telling them that their kidney has just been removed and that they need to take care. Often, these victims can suffer very serious, lifelong health consequences from that, and because of the nature of the operation, some people have ultimately died from it. It is a very real issue.
We know the demand for organs is very high worldwide, and we need to take steps to encourage people to put themselves on an organ donor registry. I am pleased to see that this Parliament has tried to address that by making it easier for people to sign up and so on. However, those are problems that are not going to go away. The demand for organs is high, and as our population ages we certainly need to have smart and effective policy to address that.
On behalf of the New Democratic caucus, I will indicate that we are looking forward to supporting this bill and voting on it so it gets sent to the Governor General for royal assent. We have long opposed all forms of trafficking, whether it be human trafficking for sexual exploitation, labour trafficking or the trafficking of human organs. We must do all we can to protect vulnerable people. With that, I will conclude my remarks. I appreciate this opportunity.
View Ted Falk Profile
CPC (MB)
View Ted Falk Profile
2022-12-05 11:54 [p.10391]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity today to speak to this legislation. I would like to start by recognizing the sponsors of the bill, the Hon. Senator Ataullahjan from the other House and our member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, for the leadership that they have shown on this important issue. I want to thank them, and it is encouraging to see a bill brought forward that can be supported across all party lines and in both Houses. I am excited to see this legislation come to fruition.
I will begin with how we view the human body, and the dignity and worth that we assign to that human body. My faith teaches me that every human being is created in the image of God and that there is sanctity and a sacredness to human life, including the physical body. That is why, unlike so many other ancient civilizations or religions, those who follow and have followed Christianity, Judaism or Islam have historically practised burial rather than cremation. There is the belief that, even after death, the human body remains important. Christianity and even some branches of Judaism teach that the body will one day be resurrected and transformed. As such, the body is of value and must be treated with care and respect, even after death.
If the human body is viewed as important, worthy of care and dignity, and sacred even in death, how much more should it be treated as sacrosanct while the human person is alive? Even those who reject the tenets of the three Abrahamic faiths would agree that the body after death should be treated with dignity. In fact, here in Canada we have laws that relate specifically to the handling of a human body after death. Section 182 of the Criminal Code of Canada makes it a criminal offence to improperly or indecently interfere with or offer any indignity to a dead human body, and there are similar laws around the globe. Why? It is because as humans we recognize there is a sacredness to humanity, including the physical body. Again, if treated with such dignity and reverence after death, how much more so while still alive?
For those who prefer a more humanistic argument, I would point the House toward Immanuel Kant and his piece, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which he casts the innate dignity of every human being as a categorical imperative. If we follow Kant, we must recognize that when a human organ becomes a commodity, a monetary value is placed on that organ. By assigning a monetary value to the organ, we essentially assign a monetary value to the individual who provided it. I am quite confident that we all agree with Kant, in this aspect, that putting a price on any part of a human being violates his or her intrinsic dignity.
Moreover, the removal of organs by force, under coercion or with consent, violates another Kantian principle: that of bodily autonomy. We hear a lot about bodily autonomy. We hear very different perspectives on what that entails, but there is a near-universal belief, at least in the western democracies, that what happens in an individual's body should be the sole purview of that individual or, in the case of young children, of their parents. Sadly, there are still individuals, criminal organizations and even some governments who refuse to respect the sanctity of the body.
No country officially endorses the practice of organ trafficking, but many turn a blind eye to this dehumanizing and often dangerous practice. In some cases, individuals, often those who live in poverty, sell their organs. In others, organs are obtained without the consent of a donor. An example of this would be what is happening in China with political prisoners, particularly people of faith. Again and again we have raised the plight of the Uighurs, practitioners of Falun Gong and Christians.
There have been many petitions presented in this House to that effect, with respect to individual groups who have been persecuted by China's brutal regime. Organ harvesting of these religious minorities by China is well documented. Typically, these extractions and the transplants themselves take place outside of national medical systems, so even assuming the donor is kept alive, which is never a guarantee, there is a high risk associated with the extraction and implantation of these organs, and as such these practices violate the sanctity and dignity of the human person. Therefore, we can all agree that human life is precious, and the body and the organs therein are worthy of the protection this legislation seeks to provide.
I am pleased that we are standing up for the value of human life. I wish we would also have the courage to show a similar concern and do what the Supreme Court of Canada instructed Parliament to do three decades ago, and finally enact legal protection for the preborn child in the womb. It is time we acted.
I am in favour of the bill's crackdown on foreign nationals who have been involved in organ trafficking attempting to come to Canada. I think that is good. It is high time that we crack down on who is allowed to come to Canada and who is not. However, I think that we need to be careful to differentiate between those who have been involved as traffickers and those who the traffickers may have exploited. If an individual has been involved in trafficking proper, that is, if they have facilitated or received monetary benefit from facilitating the illegal trafficking of organs, like those who traffic in drugs or slaves, that individual should not be admissible to Canada.
As an aside, I think it is reprehensible and hypocritical that the current government, even though it is supporting the legislation, also brought forward Bill C-75, which lowered the penalties for those involved in profiting from human trafficking. It is frankly absurd, and I hope some of the members on the opposite side see the disconnect, but any foreign nationals who traffic or profit from trafficking in human organs should not be admissible to Canada.
That said, as I read this legislation, I think that there should be a clear enough differentiation between traffickers and those who have willingly donated their own organs.
I am also a bit concerned about the first part of proposed subsection 4.2, where it says, “a person who commits an act or omission outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be an offence under section 240.‍1 is deemed to commit that act or omission in Canada”. As far as it relates to this piece of legislation, I think it is good, but I understand and I have to admit that I do struggle a little with that portion for a couple of reasons. The first is that other countries are not Canada, and every country around the globe has its own laws and legal systems. In the same way that we would expect those who come to Canada to respect our laws, we also need to be willing to respect the laws of other countries.
I know there are good counter-arguments to that point. Many of them are excellent reasonable arguments, but I think that something needs to be said where we respect other jurisdictions.
I would like to reiterate again that I am happy we are having this discussion. I would like to see that handful of concerns addressed, but overall I am pleased to be supporting this legislation. Our party is pleased to support it.
I want to again thank the member for Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan and Senator Ataullahjan for their hard work on this file. I am looking forward to supporting it.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
There is one motion in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-32. Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted upon.
View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
moved:
That Bill C-32 be amended by deleting the short title.
He said: Madam Speaker, normally if a Canadian wanted to know what was happening with their federal government and what the federal government was doing for them, one would think it would be natural to look at the fall economic statement or a federal budget. My advice to Canadians is, if they want to know what is really going on in this country, they should not read the budget put out by the Liberal-NDP alliance. What they instead need to look at is not what has been said and talked about, but the realities of what is actually getting done. In many cases, the government did not follow through on what it said it would do.
Canadians need to read more than the budget to know what is going on. They need to read the reports of the Auditor General of Canada. They need to read the reports of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who audits and calls out far too many times, sadly, the number of failures the government has had when it comes to operating the federal government and its programs efficiently. In the budget document, one reads: “we will”, “proposes” or that they want to do certain things. There are a lot of word salads, platitudes and generalities.
After reading the dozens of pages, one would think one never had it so good in this country. One would think the government is going to solve, and is about to solve, every single problem that we face with wording like, “the billions of dollars” in new proposed spending and the paragraphs of promises that would affect everything this country is facing. However, the truth, when it comes to the economic record of the government and its coalition alliance with the NDP, is that the Liberals will talk about solving the problem by spending more money than ever before. They are going to spend a billion here and a billion there, yet they never follow through on delivering better results. Sadly, we have seen billions of dollars being spent, while little progress has been made. The situation is actually getting worse.
In all fairness, someone might say that I am a bit biased about the performance of the government. I would tell Canadians not to take my word for it. Take the Auditor General of Canada's word, an independent officer of Parliament who is very busy calling out the government for its numerous failures these days.
Back in June, in my interaction at the public accounts committee with the Auditor General, she said that the government is spending more money and getting fewer results for it. Karen Hogan, the Auditor General of Canada, said, “it's not about spending more money but about spending it in a more intelligent or creative way that actually targets the barriers.” In her words, not mine, we are spending more money and getting fewer results. We are seeing that.
Conservatives are standing up to call this out. The government is spending more money. Things are now costing more. In many cases the situation is getting worse and the government is making the situation worse. Look no further than the fact that the government cannot even deliver a passport in a reasonable period of time. My constituency office has heard from numerous frustrated Canadians who, after waiting months and months, are trying to get a basic service such as a new or renewed passport.
The list from the Auditor General of Canada goes on. With respect to Indigenous Services Canada, the audit came in about drinking water in rural and remote indigenous communities, and the government failed to keep its promise to eliminate all of those issues. It now has no plan or timeline of how it is actually going to complete that promise. That was called out by the Auditor General.
When it comes to housing, a recent report indicated that the Liberals have spent an extra $1 billion specifically on homelessness, but they cannot keep track of how many homeless people there are in Canada. They have no idea what the results are after spending all of that money. On top of that, through the transparency we advocated for, we were able to call out the fact that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which is responsible for affordable housing in this country, gave their staff $40 million in bonuses as housing prices have doubled and, as the audit confirmed, the service levels at that organization left something to be desired.
Regarding the environment, the Auditor General, on the greening government strategy, says, “government decision makers, parliamentarians, and Canadians do not...know...whether the government will meet its...target”. The tripling of the carbon tax is coming ahead, and the government cannot even see if its plan is going to meet its targets.
We can look back in history and see, for every single target the Liberals have set for themselves for environmental emissions and standards, they have failed to meet it, and they have not even come remotely close. It continues. We should not take a look at the budget, with all its aspirational sayings. We should look at the records of all this.
As we talk about the fall economic statement, the financial plan of the government, here is the reality that is hitting home for millions of Canadians watching the news these past few days. When it comes to veterans' service levels, the Auditor General of the country says:
[Veterans Affairs'] actions did not reduce overall wait times for eligible veterans. The department was still a long way from meeting its service standard. Implementation of initiatives was slow. Data to measure improvements was lacking. Both the funding and almost half of the employees on the team responsible for processing applications were temporary. As a result, veterans waited too long to receive benefits to support their physical and mental health and their families’ overall well-being.
I would not know that if I had read the Liberals' budget, but when I read the Auditor General of Canada, who is actually calling out not only intentions and words, but also actions and results, it certainly leaves something to be desired from the Liberal-NDP alliance.
I want to spend some time talking about the carbon tax. The last time I rose in the House to speak to the carbon tax, it was on an environmental bill, Bill S-5. I was shouted down and interrupted with points of order in the House of Commons, while I was talking about environmental legislation, by members saying the carbon tax was not relevant to a debate on the government's environmental priorities, and I now want to apologize to the government. I was wrong, and I should not have talked about the carbon tax during an environmental debate because the carbon tax plan the government has is not an environmental plan. It is a tax plan.
Now, I am here. I cannot be interrupted by a point of order, and I cannot be stopped from talking about the carbon tax, because it is a tax plan, and I am happy to spend some time on that. I can acknowledge my faults and shortcomings, and I will in this case.
Let us talk about it. Let me take the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer's analysis of the carbon tax's impact on families:
Most households under the backstop will see a net loss resulting from federal carbon pricing under the HEHE plan in 2030-31.
Household carbon costs...exceed the rebate and the induced reduction in personal income taxes arising from the loss in income.
Here is the thing that the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party fail to understand about the carbon tax: taxpayers do not even get back in the rebate what they pay into it directly. I want to talk about who does not get a rebate at all in this country when it comes to the increasing and punitive carbon tax. It is small businesses and farmers.
They get nailed with the full bill each and every time. What happens is that when our favourite restaurant, bakery or retail store gets hit with its utility bill, and just as a senior gets a utility bill with a GST, HST and carbon tax portion, every business gets those same utility bills. They are seeing their gas bills go up. They are seeing their cost of transportation go up, and they do not get any sort of subsidy or break.
What do they do at that restaurant? With no pun intended, they bake it into the price of one's favourite pizza or favourite food. That price is then passed on to the restaurant customer and to the grocery store customer. It is not a line item of a tax they are charged on top of that, per se, but it is added in to the inflationary prices we are seeing in this country.
The Liberals, the New Democrats and other parties consistently advocate the budget document, which confirms they want to triple the carbon tax in the coming years, and all that is doing is adding to the inflationary pressure. Food price listings for 2023 have risen. They are expected to go up in many cases by double digits again. Enough is enough.
The carbon tax is driving up the price and the cost of living in our country. One thing we need to call out is that it was supposed to lower emissions. Every year since the Liberals and NDP put the carbon tax in, it has gone up. Enough is enough. The Conservatives are proud to stand and say that we will not take it anymore.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:13 [p.10394]
Madam Speaker, what the member does not tell Canadians is that in the last federal election, every Conservative member supported the Conservative election platform that clearly indicated to Canadians that a Conservative government would support a price on pollution. That means a carbon tax. On the one hand, during an election campaign, the Conservatives made a commitment to Canada, saying they supported a price on pollution. Today, they have reversed their position. Now they say they do not support a price on pollution.
I wonder if the member would be transparent and apologize to Canadians for making a promise then and now saying the Conservatives no longer support what they told Canadians.
View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will not apologize, but I will stand up proudly and say that Canadians across the country understand the damage and inefficiency of the carbon tax. Not only do they believe it should not increase, but it should not triple.
If we want to talk about broken promises under the Liberal government tabling legislation, former environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who is no longer a member of the House, promised Canadians, under the Prime Minister, that the carbon tax would not go above $50 a tonne. The Liberals have broken their promise and will triple it to over $170 a tonne.
The government should be apologizing for breaking its promise and raising the cost of living on Canadians. The Conservatives are standing on the right side of the issue and we are seeing that in the momentum we are getting across the country with this message.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I agree with him. There are a number of things missing from this economic statement. I would like him to comment on the absence of the health transfers that are so important for all provinces, which are currently under a lot of pressure to meet needs and provide services. The money is in Ottawa, but the needs are in the provinces.
Does my colleague also think that there is something major missing with regard to health transfers?
View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I thank my Bloc Québécois colleague for her question and the opportunity to practise my second language this afternoon.
I agree with the question in general. On the health file, there is a major crisis in every province and every region of this country. We need leadership from the federal government and the Minister of Health. The government made a commitment to put more money into Canada's health transfer system. Every province will need more money and a five- to 10-year plan to increase health care services. Yes, a lot of things were missing from this economic statement, health transfers in particular.
View Mike Morrice Profile
GP (ON)
View Mike Morrice Profile
2022-12-05 12:17 [p.10394]
Madam Speaker, the member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry spent quite a bit of his speech speaking about a price on carbon, so I will spend some time on that.
What the member did not mention is that the economic cost of the wildfires in B.C. alone, let alone the deaths, is estimated between $10.6 billion to $17.1 billion. He is right to point out that emissions continue to go up, so obviously more needs to be done to address the climate crisis. Ending subsidies to fossil fuels should be part of that plan.
I would like to hear if the member is opposed to a carbon tax, which economists say is the most efficient way to address the climate crisis, one of many measures we need. We need to get more funds to those who are impacted the most by it. I would like to hear more from the member on what he would like to see done to have Canada step up and do its part to address the climate crisis.
View Eric Duncan Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, no, the Conservatives do not believe that the failed carbon tax is working. If we look at the metrics that the Green Party has itself, we have a carbon tax that has been increasing every year since it came into effect. We were told that emissions would drop when the carbon tax came in. Emissions have gone up every year and they will continue to do so. The government still has not tabled a plan to meet any of the targets it has set.
We can make progress on lowering emissions through removing gatekeepers and by enabling technology, not taxes, to be the solution. There is a lot—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Resuming debate, the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:18 [p.10395]
Madam Speaker, there is a significant difference between the government and the official opposition when it comes to budgetary and legislative measures. We have a government that understands the importance of having the backs of Canadians, whether it is during a pandemic or at a time when Canadians are concerned about inflation.
The member made reference to a couple of issues, and I want to pick up on that because it amplifies the contrast. We, on this side of the House, believe in an economy that works for all Canadians. We do not believe in the trickle down theory of the Conservatives, which is to cut, or as the minister of revenue would say, “chop, chop.”
That is the approach of the Conservatives. They do not necessarily tell us where they are going to cut; they are just going to cut. It is because they do not want to be honest with Canadians and tell them what they want to cut. I often refer to this as the Conservative hidden agenda. Will we find out that hidden agenda if, heaven forbid, they form a government?
We get a sense of the contrast. If we look at the last federal election, when we think of policy, what does the Conservative Party really stand for? In the last federal election, 338 Conservative candidates from coast to coast to coast accepted the Conservative election platform, meaning they campaigned on it. Within that document, it says that the Conservative Party of Canada supports a price on pollution, which in essence is the carbon tax.
The Conservatives have been raising this issue day after day, coming up with the stupid thing of “triple, triple, triple”. It does not make any sense and the Conservatives do not make any sense on this issue. First, they supported it during the last election and now they have reversed their position. Then one of their members says that Canadians are a lot worse off because of the price on pollution and quotes the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
I will quote the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who has said that 80% of Canadians who are part of the backstop for the price on pollution are receiving more than they are actually spending. There is a net gain. That means 80% of the residents of Winnipeg North are benefiting from the price on pollution. When Conservatives say that it is going up, so is the rebate. My constituents are benefiting from that.
Are the Conservatives being honest on this issue? They are not, and they are spreading misinformation. We know that. We knew that shortly after the last national election, when they said that they would support it. Now saying they are not going to support it and are spreading misinformation about it.
Policy matters and leadership on major issues matter. That is why we wait with bated breath for the Conservative leader to stand and apologize to Canadians on his position on cryptocurrency. I and others have raised this issue in the past, when the leader of the Conservative Party, Canada's official opposition, was being provided the opportunity to apologize to Canadians for encouraging them to invest in cryptocurrency to fight inflation. Those who would have followed that advice would have incurred a loss of more than 60% of their revenue. Imagine being a senior on a fixed income and following the advice of the leader of the Conservative Party.
When it comes to the issue of inflation, the Conservative Party would have us believe that the Government of Canada, the Prime Minister, is responsible for inflation in Canada and, in fact, beyond. Yes, we play a role, and we recognize the pain and hurt in our communities as a result of inflation, but let us put it in proper perspective.
Let us compare Canada's inflation rate to the U.S.A., Great Britain, most of the European countries and the G20 countries. When we look at the averages, Canada's inflation rate is below theirs. It fluctuates depending on provinces, but, generally speaking, our inflation rate is under control in comparison to other countries.
However, that is not good enough for us. We on the government benches recognize that Canadians are hurting when they buy groceries, require services or are putting fuel in their cars. We understand and appreciate that, which is why we have the fall economic statement. It is why we have brought forward legislation to provide relief to Canadians, measures that will put money in the pockets of Canadians and, in many ways, help Canadians get through this time of higher inflation.
For example, there is the doubling of the GST credit for six months. Remember, the Conservatives originally opposed that. They had to be shamed into supporting it. After all, it put money in the pockets of Canadians. After a little shaming, they came on side and supported that legislation. However, we did a lot more than that, and some high-profile things.
Just last week, Canadians, depending on eligibility and income, were provided dental care services for children under the age of 12. Many of those children, if they do not get that dental service, end up in our emergency hospitals. The Conservative Party, still today, is saying no to that. When it came time for the Conservatives to vote on it, they voted no for children under the age of 12 receiving dental care benefits.
There is the rental support, which, again, is direct money to support Canadians who are having a difficult time meeting rental payments. The Conservatives will say that it could have been more money, but the bottom line is that we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to assist Canadians with their rent. Again, the Conservative Party voted against that.
What about students? Interest on federal student loans is being forgiven. Again, the Conservative Party is voting against it.
I am a big fan of the multi-generational home renovation tax credit. It is a fantastic program. It will make a difference for many Canadians, for moms, dads and adults with disabilities, by providing a credit to add a secondary unit for those individuals. It is a significant credit, but the Conservatives are voting against that too.
There is a litany of things that the government is doing to provide Canadians the support they need during this difficult time, and time and again, the Conservatives have voted against them. As we continue to build an economy that works for all Canadians, we will do what we can to ensure that happens.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, the member for Winnipeg North likes to come up here and cast aspersions upon us as Conservatives. The Liberal Party always stands for “tax and spend”. I need to remind the member for Winnipeg North that these tax dollars are not the money of the Liberal Party of Canada. They belong to Canadians. The best place to leave that money is in the pockets of Canadians. For the member to get up and pontificate and slander the Conservatives is unbecoming of any parliamentary speech. It is common for the member to do.
The member often tells me he likes to come up to my riding where he has a cabin. He should spend some time talking to rural Manitobans. They know the carbon tax, which is tripling, will cost $1,145 more per Manitoban than what they get back from the government. Those Canadians who live in rural areas know the carbon tax is hurting them, especially those who live on fixed incomes, like seniors.
He needs to talk to real Canadians outside the Ottawa bubble so he knows exactly what is happening in the real world.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:30 [p.10396]
Madam Speaker, the member made reference to seniors. We brought in increases to the GIS that brought tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty and made a 10% increase for our seniors who are 75 and over. If the member wants to accuse me of upsetting a lot of Conservatives because of the words I say, I can assure the member that every word I say is, in fact, accurate. I think it is important that Canadians have a right to know what the Conservatives are saying. When the Minister of National Revenue says the words “chop, chop, chop”, she is right. The Conservative Party does have that mentality and the member opposite just demonstrated that in part. Canadians have a right to know.
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Beaulieu Profile
2022-12-05 12:31 [p.10396]
Madam Speaker, the things that stand out about Bill C-32 are the things that are missing, and that includes a very important request from Quebeckers and my constituents.
I am talking about the two-tier pension system. The government increased pensions for people aged 75 and up, but it seems to think that seniors aged 65 to 75 do not need a pension increase.
I think they do need one, particularly with inflation being what it is right now. I would like my colleague to share his thoughts on that.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:32 [p.10396]
Madam Speaker, there are a number of things I could say. One would be the fact that the Liberal Party made a campaign commitment to seniors who were 75 and over in the 2019 election that if we were elected into government, we would increase, by 10%, payments for seniors over 75. We are fulfilling an election campaign commitment.
If I were to have leave of the chamber to expand on that, I would be happy to explain why it is so critically important. I am disappointed that opposition members do not seem to want to recognize that seniors 75 and over often incur additional expenses. There are factors that need to be taken into consideration. That is why a caring government would do what we have done to support seniors in general.
View Richard Cannings Profile
NDP (BC)
Madam Speaker, one thing I was hoping to see in the fall economic statement and in this bill was some added help for graduate students across Canada. These are our best and brightest master's and Ph.D. students. The money they are given by the federal government to do their work has stayed the same for almost 20 years, since 2003. They are living in poverty, below the poverty line. They are working for less than minimum wage. For the last year, the science and research committee has recommended their wages go up and nothing has been done.
Can he explain why that is?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:33 [p.10396]
Madam Speaker, within the budget, we now have the elimination of interest for students. That is a significant step forward for federal student loans where the interest is permanently being eliminated. That is putting money in the pockets of students. This will, I believe, enable students to do that much more in the future, whether that means continuing with their education or using that money elsewhere.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak at report stage of Bill C-32.
After reading Bill C‑32 and the proposed amendment, all I can say is that this bill just dusts off some old legislative measures. There is nothing to excite us or to show us what direction the government wants to take. This bill is actually rather disappointing.
As a former health care network manager in Quebec, I want to talk the fact that there is absolutely no mention of health transfers in this bill. That is a problem.
Coincidentally, I read a wonderful article in La Presse this morning by the former mayor of Gatineau, Maxime Pedneaud‑Jobin. I am actually somewhat envious of him. I wish I could have written that article myself, because what he said is exactly what I think about the whole debate on health transfers, namely, that needs are being expressed in the provinces and Quebec, but the money is in Ottawa.
I urge my Liberal and NDP colleagues to read the article. It is in French, but that would be a good way for them to practice their French. It is so interesting that it might even be worth getting it translated. Essentially, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin says that the needs vary so widely from one province to another that Canada-wide standards would not really help patients. The purpose of the health transfers is to allow as many residents as possible to obtain high-quality public services, regardless where they live.
It is worth reading a excerpt:
I will give you one last sampling of our differences to demonstrate how useless, if not extremely complex, it would be to set Canada-wide standards.
Quebec is the only province that has a drug plan. Quebeckers consume the least amount of cannabis. The morning-after pill is used less in Quebec than anywhere else in the country, and 8% of [elective abortions] were performed using that method here, while the rate is 31% in Ontario and 50% in British Columbia. Quebec is the place with the most psychologists per capita in North America. There are as many here as in the rest of Canada combined. Quebec has the lowest perinatal and neonatal mortality rate in Canada. In Quebec, only a pharmacist can own a pharmacy, which is a unique situation. And so on and so forth.
We have a different lifestyle, we have a different health status, and, since Marguerite Bourgeoys, we have our own health management model.
This quote demonstrates that it is unrealistic for the federal government to think it can create equity with Canada-wide standards. It is trying to make itself look good by saying it will impose a standard to ensure health equity, but it is just deluding itself. The needs are not the same everywhere. It is not that Quebec is better or worse; it is simply different. Each province has its own public health needs based on the residents it most urgently needs to care for.
Quebec also has different tools. There are local community service centres, known as CLSCs, and family medicine groups, known as GMFs. Quebec is also recognized for its expertise in setting up vaccination clinics. We are true leaders. We have developed tools that are different from other provinces', and we are proud of that. We know very well what we need to do and, more importantly, where we need to improve.
Having worked as a manager at the Montérégie-Ouest integrated health and social services centre, or CISSS, I can say that each manager is responsible for achieving certain indicators that are both well known and documented. From one region to another, these indicators are directly linked to the public health system's departmental guidelines.
The CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest's catchment area includes parts of four members' ridings, specifically the member for Vaudreuil—Soulanges, the member for Salaberry—Suroît, the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle and the member for La Prairie. It is a large CISSS, and with that comes various challenges. I would like to talk about a few of the indicators that the department is asking us to observe and improve on.
The members on the government side make it sound like there are no standards at all, like it is complete chaos in the provinces. I would like my colleagues to know that the opposite is true. We have indicators, very specific standards and percentage targets. I will name a few, of which I am particularly proud.
One indicator that the CISSS de la Montérégie-Ouest has as an objective is to improve access to addiction services. There is a broad departmental guideline regarding addiction, and my CISSS—I say “my” because it is still my CISSS—wants to improve access to addiction services. If we compare some data, we see that 10,717 people received addiction services in 2020. That number went down in 2021, when 9,743 people received those services. What happened? Some of the CISSS staff are studied the situation to find out why fewer people accessed addiction services than the year before. They looked into it, did some research and consulted with professionals. They realized that they need to serve people who may not be accustomed to bureaucracy, people who may not want to go to a hospital or a CLSC, but who want to be in contact with professionals who understand their lives and do not judge them.
That is why my CISSS got in touch with Pacte de rue, a community organization in my riding with outreach workers across the CISSS's territory. These workers connect with people where they are at, in their everyday lives and on the street. They work on the ground, not in offices. They realized that, if the organization had a street medicine service, they could increase the number of individuals accessing addiction services by going to people rather than waiting until people came to them.
I think that is a powerful example of a public network, our CISSS, working with a community organization in my riding. Through their co-operation and unique model, they are reaching people who might not otherwise receive public health care services. Now people who are homeless or have addictions may encounter an outreach worker who will take them to see a street medicine nurse. This is such a great model that it proves that these claims I am hearing, that there are no standards or indicators, are not true. Quebec's Department of Health requires my CISSS to adhere to broad guidelines for health, social services and public health and very specific indicators with measurable objectives. Every CISSS in Quebec has to do everything in its power to meet the goal.
The same thing happened with the new service that just opened, called Aire ouverte. Quebec wanted to improve access to services for children, youth and their families. We noticed that our statistics and indicators showed that there were clients who were not being reached as much, clients whose needs may not be as great, but who need help and services and do not seek them out. That is why Quebec created Aire ouverte, a program where health care workers meet with young people and no appointment is needed. These are clinics where no appointment is needed to easily access health care workers who will welcome young people and speak openly with them, without judgment, and refer to them to right services.
In closing, funding for the health care system is a critical issue. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a government that is playing games with this critical issue at patients' expense.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 12:44 [p.10398]
Madam Speaker, I would argue differently from what the member has said with regard to the issue of health care. This is a government that makes health care for all Canadians a high priority. It does that by reaching accords with the provinces and territories. It does that through historic amounts of federal dollars going toward provinces and territories for the financing of health care. It does that by recognizing our important health care issues, whether they are long-term care issues, mental health issues or issues related to dental care. These are all important issues that Canadians have, and I know, from my own constituents' perspectives, that constituents want the federal government to continue to play a role in health care.
I am wondering if my colleague could provide her thoughts and beliefs about the Canada Health Act and the expectation that Canadians have in general that the federal government—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that interesting question. It gives me a chance to explain to him that health and education are also priorities of the Quebec government.
As far as health is concerned, the Government of Quebec is very clear about being able to identify its own problems and priorities. Quebec and British Columbia have more seniors that the other provinces; it is only natural that we are under more pressure when it comes to services for seniors. We know how to manage our services, but we would like the federal government to understand that the money that taxpayers pay should go back to the provinces that are experiencing the pressure that comes with service delivery.
What Quebec and the provinces are asking for is clear. They are asking the federal government to participate to the tune of 35%. That is a reasonable request because the needs are in the provinces and it is the provinces and Quebec that need to have the means to meet the needs of their citizens.
View Richard Lehoux Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Lehoux Profile
2022-12-05 12:46 [p.10398]
Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît on her speech,
I would like to hear her thoughts on the following. Yes, health is important, but it is healthy food that leads to good health.
Last week, I was in touch with with several food banks in my riding. To my great surprise, I learned that there has been a significant increase in the use of food banks, an increase of more than 25%. A third of clients who who use food banks are children.
In the current budget, I did not see much money to support food banks and to help children. What does my colleague think of that?
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question, which is very interesting.
Food drives are held in Quebec at this time of year. People collect food to help food banks and other organizations that provide food assistance. Previously, it was believed that a certain category of people needed help and went to food banks. Now, even working people need help and support as pressure and inflation are having a significant impact, especially on families.
That is why we know that communities need groups and organizations that are really in touch with their needs and provide the services they require. However, community groups need government support in order to provide services, but also to grow, to expand their reach and to withstand the pressure. That requires more funding.
Quebec's independent community organizations are asking for more funding from the Quebec government, which also must make difficult choices because it lacks the means to answer their call. Once again, one of the solutions is to give the provinces and Quebec what they are asking for, larger health transfers.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2022-12-05 12:49 [p.10398]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today at report stage of Bill C-32 to talk a bit about the bill.
One of the really important measures contained in this bill is the Canada recovery dividend. We have talked a lot in this place about the impact of the pandemic on people and about the need for the government to have spent a considerable sum of money to support people as they contemplated losing their homes during the pandemic, particularly in those early days when the economy all but shut down and people were put out of work and were not sure how they were going to pay their bills. We have also talked a lot in this place about the amount of financial aid that was made available to large financial institutions like banks right at the outset of the pandemic. Indeed, we have talked about some of the knock-on effects in the economy of providing that liquidity, support and de-risking to major financial institutions.
The Canada recovery dividend is a one-time tax assessed on Canada's largest financial institutions for profits of over $1 billion during those early years of the pandemic. It is to be paid over five years and represents a considerable amount of revenue. It is something the New Democrats would have liked to see applied to big box stores, grocery stores and oil and gas companies, which also saw considerable profits during that period. By considerable profits, I do not just mean their normal considerable profits. I mean extra profit above and beyond the normal rate of profit that these companies enjoy.
While we would have liked to see that expanded and while we continue to ask and push for that, there is an important piece of work being done here, which is to assess the Canada recovery dividend, or what in other jurisdictions has been called a windfall tax, on Canada's financial institutions. It has not been done before, to my knowledge, in my own lifetime, so it is a really significant undertaking to go to the large financial institutions, which made a lot of money and benefited significantly from public funding during the pandemic, and say they need to pay their fair share.
Oftentimes, we talk about folks having to pay their fair share. The New Democrats talk about large companies having to pay their fair share. Rarely do we see actual instances of their being required to do it. This is what it looks like when they do it. While going ahead with this with respect to financial institutions is a positive thing, it also demonstrates the extent to which we are not requiring other large profitable companies to pay their fair share, because they are not mentioned in this legislation. They are not going to do it spontaneously. They are not going to do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They are not going to just come around. The banks did not, but they will have to do it because it is legislated. It should be legislated for other sectors as well, but it matters that we are doing it for some sectors.
In addition to that, this legislation would permanently increase the corporate tax rate on those very same companies, including the big banks and life insurance companies, from 15% to 16.5%. That is also significant. That is what it means to make companies pay their fair share, and it is something too infrequently seen in this place. I note to anyone listening at home who has an outpouring of sympathy for these large institutions, although I doubt many are, that this is still far less than the large institutions paid in the year 2000, when they paid a 28% corporate tax rate. Going up to 16.5% for a small cross-section of corporate Canada, albeit a large, powerful and profitable cross-section, is hardly what we mean when we talk about tax fairness. It is at least, for the first time in over 20 years, a step in the right direction.
I am proud to be rising today to support that step in the right direction. I hope it is the first of many. I know if Canadians see fit to elect a New Democratic government, it will be. In the meantime, we will be here fighting the Liberals and dragging them kicking and screaming at every opportunity we get so they do the right thing and ensure that corporate Canada is paying its fair share. Canadians who want a sense of what that looks like need only look at this bill and see the progress we are making.
There are also some things in this bill that have to do with the housing market. Ultimately, they are a drop in the bucket because they are predicated upon the same ethos or philosophy that has been driving the housing market since the Liberal government of the mid-nineties first terminated the national housing strategy, which had a commodity-based and market-based approach to housing.
This is not because we ever had a time when there was not a housing market. There has always been a housing market in Canada, and rightly so, but we used to have a housing market in Canada that was about people being able to buy a family home and sell a home when it came time for them to downsize in retirement and have a bit of a nest egg. That was complemented by a parallel public housing sector that was meaningful, made real investments and built a significant number of units every year. That stopped in the mid-nineties, and we have never really gotten back to that.
Things that the New Democrats support, incidentally, such as a doubling of the first-time homebuyers' tax credit, will make a difference for certain families that are already financially well positioned to contemplate buying a house in this market. Fewer and fewer Canadians belong to that category because of the astronomical increase in the cost of housing. Fewer and fewer Canadians belong to that category because of the significant depreciation in their salaries against inflation and the prices of many things. These are things that will make a difference for some Canadians.
Some of these things the New Democrats have advocated for, such as the doubling of the first-time homebuyers' tax credit and cracking down elsewhere, to the extent that the government has done so in this bill. We will see in time how effective that is and what the loopholes mean, but things like house flipping and other things are making it harder for Canadians to compete and get a first home. They are being outbid by people who have made a science of bidding on homes and flipping them and who are backed by access to a lot of capital that most Canadians do not have ready access to. Nevertheless, there are some measures that may help certain Canadians.
That is fine, but there is a lot more work to do to combat the idea that houses are commercial assets as opposed to homes. Significant government investments will be required to make that case and take the framework on so that we are building more social housing units for which rent is geared to income. Also, not unlike what I was just talking about with regard to assessing real taxes on the biggest corporate players in Canada, there is a lot of work to do in changing the regulatory environment so that big real estate investment trusts and other large corporate players in the housing market, which are pushing up prices and evicting low-income tenants, do not have a free hand to do that in the way they have.
That is what it will ultimately take for us to live in a country that has made a real decision about its values in respect of housing so that housing is not a simple market with a good like any other good in the market, but is a right for Canadian citizens. We have to design our housing market, including using non-market tools, to ensure that everybody has access to housing. This bill does not get us there, but it does tinker at the edges in ways that will be helpful for some people.
I want to talk a bit about what is not in the bill. The New Democrats are quite prepared to support this bill on the basis of some of the things that are significant and some of the things that tinker at the edges, albeit in helpful ways as opposed to harmful ways, but there is a lot that is not in the bill. I think particularly of employment insurance reform as the government begins to talk about a recession. We do not see any clues in this bill, just as we did not see any in the fall economic statement, about where the government is going on certain key policy decisions that have been made to get our employment insurance system up to where it needs to be.
I would note, while I have the opportunity, that one thing the government has decided to do, which we do not see in this bill but is on the books, is attribute $25 billion of debt, a big number, to the employment insurance account for the CERB and CRB payments that were made under the auspices of Service Canada, as opposed to the CRA. I have to say that whatever the government has in store for EI modernization clearly cannot involve any funding, because a $25-billion debt on the EI account means that we are going see maximum premium increases for the next seven years, with all of that money paying down CERB debt that should not be on the EI account. That was a general expense by the government in the context of a global emergency, and it should not be on the on the EI account. I am happy to talk more about that during questions and answers.
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his fine speech. I represent a large riding, and many seniors reach out to me. They are worried. They do not understand what is going on. Some almost wish they were 74 years old so they could collect a decent pension.
Can my hon. colleague offer some solutions the government could act on, for once?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2022-12-05 12:59 [p.10400]
Madam Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her question. I think the solution is staring us in the face: The government should increase OAS for seniors 65 and up.
Seniors 65 and up grapple with the same financial pressure as those 75 and up. We know we are going through very tough economic times. Everyone is affected, so everyone should be entitled to a higher OAS benefit.
View Stephen Ellis Profile
CPC (NS)
View Stephen Ellis Profile
2022-12-05 13:00 [p.10400]
Madam Speaker, why should we have any more faith, going forward, in the government with which he has chosen to partner? It cannot deliver on basic programs like passports. How can we ever do something complex like a housing program and things like that, which he so eloquently spoke of?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2022-12-05 13:01 [p.10400]
Madam Speaker, in the last election, Canadians elected 338 MPs. It is true, when I look at the current government, I see a lot of reasons Canadians should not trust it and reasons they may think the government has failed them. I look across the way, and I do not see an adequate replacement. Therefore, I think the 338 of us are stuck trying to figure out how to move forward on certain policy items that are in the best interests of Canadians and that are going to make concrete improvements in their lives. I do not think an election is going to accomplish that.
If people would get serious, drop some of the rhetoric and, regardless of what party we belong to, look for ways we could move forward on good policy issues, that would make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians. I think if we spend more of our time doing that, Canadians would be far better served than by simply electing another government that would have its own problems.
There is inaction on climate change. We would not get anything better from them. There are tax breaks for big corporations. We would not get anything better from them. I could go on, but I will not. I am just going to focus on trying to get things done for people here.
View Mike Morrice Profile
GP (ON)
View Mike Morrice Profile
2022-12-05 13:02 [p.10400]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate that the member spoke about some of the positive items in Bill C-32 as well as concerns about items that were not there. One of those things is recognizing that Canadians with disabilities are disproportionately living in poverty across the country. Bill C-32, the fall economic statement, and the budget before that failed to introduce any kind of emergency response in the way that parliamentarians in this place had done when COVID first hit. I know he was here for that.
The member for Elmwood—Transcona has been a champion for pushing for better supports for Canadians living with disabilities. I wonder if he could talk about why there has not been a response already and what it would take to get a disability emergency response introduced in this place.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2022-12-05 13:03 [p.10400]
Madam Speaker, frankly, I think that all it would take is a bit of political will from the government. It has enough support with other members in the House to try to come to some kind of meaningful emergency solution for people living with disabilities. The government has expressed an intent. We saw that in some previous budgets, not in the numbers, but in the flowery language.
The Liberals introduced Bill C-22 in this Parliament, which is a lot like a bill from the previous Parliament. Again, it is frustrating, because it has no details about the amount the government intends to pay or about the eligibility criteria. It is not talking about doing anything in the meantime, so one is forced to wonder whether the government is serious about delivering a benefit to Canadians living with disabilities, who are in dire need right now, or whether these are just talking points.
The political will outside the Liberal Party is adequate in the House in order to implement a solution. We are waiting on the government to care enough to put something on the table so that we can move ahead.
View Stephen Ellis Profile
CPC (NS)
View Stephen Ellis Profile
2022-12-05 13:04 [p.10401]
Madam Speaker, I rise here in the House of Commons to look at the economic situation that exists out there for Canadians. Certainly, to say that it is a dire, difficult and unpleasant situation is a misrepresentation.
I would like to point out the misrepresentation of the House by the members opposite. They are claiming perhaps their clairvoyant nature of understanding what the government over here might propose when we get to sit on the other side. As we all know, it is not our job as the opposition to present those cards, which we will hold very close to our chests, and we will make the economic picture much better for Canadians as we take office.
I would like to focus my remarks on the fall economic statement with respect to Atlantic Canada, and, to no surprise, the carbon tax and how it affects Atlantic Canada. I will also focus on the significant growing debt, the programs the government has introduced and perhaps try to make it a bit personal for Canadians as they try to balance their own budgets with difficulty.
When we look at Atlantic Canada in the fall economic statement there is absolutely nothing specific in there. There is really not much talk of Atlantic Canada at all. We find that very surprising given the fact that we all know that Atlantic Canada is still reeling from hurricane Fiona. I just came here this morning. There are still trees down everywhere. Multiple businesses are still affected by hurricane Fiona, and they are unable to get back on their feet again. Certainly, there are still many homes with significantly damaged roofs. How are we going to move forward?
We asked the ACOA minister to come and specifically have a look at some of the things going on in Cumberland County, which was one of the hardest-hit counties in the entire area. Sadly, that minister did not show up. When we asked the minister's office to provide information as to how the $300 million in pledged money was going to roll out to Atlantic Canadians, the answer was that it did not know yet. There were no details.
It has been a long time since the hurricane happened. For a government to not be able to roll out the pledged money, which Atlantic Canadians specifically so desperately need, is creating more problems. In fact, I had a call with the Canadian Red Cross this morning, and it was pointed out that the applications for its program are now closed, and I will get to that in a second. The Red Cross is seeing many Nova Scotians reaching out from a very difficult financial spot, hoping to get support not only with respect to the hurricane Fiona damage but also from a social services point of view. They are really struggling.
We know very clearly from words in the House that 1.5 million Canadians have visited food banks, and 20% of Canadians are cutting back on the food they consume simply for financial reasons. We know as well from my call with the Red Cross that the $31 million generously pledged by Canadians and matched by the federal government is now gone. It is $500 for about 124,000 households. That is $62 million. There is not going to be more money forthcoming from the Red Cross.
What other difficulties are we facing as we move forward in 2022? Of course, it is winter, and we know from this budget that difficulties will continue to exist. I have spoken here previously with respect to the words of the Premier of Nova Scotia. It is so bad out there with this carbon tax, which has been foisted upon Nova Scotians, that there is a petition circulating to buck the trend and attempt to not be required to succumb to the heavy burden of the carbon tax.
We know that by 2025 it is going to cost the average Canadian $2,200 and by 2030 it will cost $3,100. This is in a population that was not really mentioned in the fall economic statement at all. It is in a population that, sadly, feels the significant burden of what is going on in the world with the increasing interest rates and rising costs of everything very acutely. Imagine a provincial government starting a petition to try to get away from this burdensome carbon tax that is being foisted upon Nova Scotians.
We know that the cost of gas, groceries and home heating is continuing to increase. We know that the premier and the Government of Nova Scotia understand this clearly, but we have a government across the aisle that is continuing to spend and very sadly hoping that the budget is going to balance itself. That is a budget that has a debt of almost $1.3 trillion. We also know that this is a government that continues to spend money. It has been said in the House, perhaps somewhat tongue in cheek, that it is spending it like a drunken sailor. However, being mean to drunken sailors is no way to live.
We also know that estimates would suggest that the cost of the interest on this debt is going to be about at least $27 billion. In 2026-27, it could be as high as $42.9 billion. That is with the conservative estimates, not ours but budget expert estimates, that interest rates would perhaps stay the same as they are.
We also know that if it does not hold true and interest rates are one point higher than planned, the interest costs would move from $42.9 billion to $52.2 billion in a single year, in 2026-27, which is $9.3 billion. That is no small amount of change. In my mind it does not make any sense. Even when we look at $27 billion, we understand that is about 10% of the revenue of the federal government simply being spent on interest charges. The government continues to spend, which absolutely makes no sense.
To put it another way, over four years, the interest on this amount of debt is going to cost the government $180 billion. This is spending money as if it were water. To try to make it personal for Canadians, if I could not balance my budget, which I am thankfully able to, and there have certainly been years when my family has struggled, we would look at what we could do differently. We would cut our discretionary spending.
We would talk about maybe, in today's terminology, not getting the latest cellphone, not going out to eat, not going out to the movies and those things that everybody would say are “motherhood and apple pie” statements. People would say that if we cannot balance our budget, we are not going out to eat. We are going to stay in, buy the groceries, which are also expensive, and cook. We would not also add costs. We would not put a new front porch on our house. That really would not make a whole heck of a lot of sense when we still could not balance our budget.
However, the costly coalition across the aisle continues to add programs that add to the debt load of Canadians. I find it somewhat disconcerting and disingenuous that, across the aisle, they continue to say that over here we do not support those who are struggling. We certainly do. It is a little bit like letting the cat out of the bag about what we might do over here. We would not go at it by continuing to spend more money and throwing a $500 cheque here and a $500 cheque here and $200 there.
Imagine this. Regular Canadians are sending in their budgets for the month by email and asking me where I think they should cut or get more of their money. Obviously that is not my area of expertise. Given that, I find it absolutely incredible that people are saying that they do not know what else to do or what else they should be doing. We know, when we look at a budget from a household in a global sense, that having $500 more is really not going to help very much at all.
We know that Canadians, including Nova Scotians from my riding of Cumberland—Colchester, are continuing to struggle under the incredible burden that they feel from the reckless spending of the government. We wonder how they are going to feed their families and how they are going to heat their homes this winter. We know that the worst is yet to come. That is exceedingly disheartening for people who are already hurting. Canadians cannot afford the government anymore, and we cannot support the fall economic statement.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2022-12-05 13:13 [p.10402]
Madam Speaker, the member may not have had enough time, but perhaps he could comment on the government's tax policy. He got into it a little with Nova Scotia and the carbon tax.
However, the government would have us believe that adding a tax to provinces is a good thing, and people should be excited and pleased about it. I do not think that is the case in his province. We have a carbon tax that increases the cost of everything such as gasoline, groceries and home heating. We have a real estate affordability crisis.
Could the member comment on tax policy and how that affects affordability?
View Stephen Ellis Profile
CPC (NS)
View Stephen Ellis Profile
2022-12-05 13:14 [p.10402]
Madam Speaker, it reminds of the theory of everything when we look at this. As the learned member correctly points out, this is the tax on everything in the sense that everything goes up. We know very clearly from some of the comments from my home province of Nova Scotia that businesses will need to begin to pass on the cost of doing business to consumers.
The government would like people to believe that they will end up with more money in their pockets, that somehow the left hand pulls it out and it gets into the right hand, and there is actually more there. I feel like I am in Las Vegas and there is a magic show afoot. I wish I had the money to go there, but clearly with this tax-and-spend government, it is impossible to do so.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-12-05 13:15 [p.10402]
Madam Speaker, on that point, would the member not also agree that perhaps the Conservatives like to extrapolate and overdramatize a situation? The reality is that the carbon tax is not increasing until April 1, even though the Conservatives would have people believe it is happening tomorrow, and it is not going to triple, triple, triple until 2032.
Would the member like to comment on the fact that the Conservatives seem to over-embellish the truth as it relates to the narrative they are trying to purport?
View Stephen Ellis Profile
CPC (NS)
View Stephen Ellis Profile
2022-12-05 13:16 [p.10402]
Madam Speaker, a multitude of things come to mind.
I would like to thank the member for reinforcing the fact that, yes, the carbon tax is going to triple, triple, triple. Obviously, big government moves very slowly and it takes time for people to adjust. Therefore, the difficulty is that if we do not begin to turn the direction of this ship soon enough, the ship is going to crash into an iceberg, much like the Titanic did in spite of direct warnings.
The other thing is that to say things are not bad, we get into the scheme of superlatives and we think that things are bad, or that things are terrible or that they could be worse. They could be worse, but who would want them to be? What is the superlative of worse? Is it worser? Is it the worstest? Are they the worstest government?
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2022-12-05 13:17 [p.10402]
Madam Speaker, apparently they do not teach English at medical school.
The New Democrats have been advocating for a long time to get rid of the GST on home heating. Of course, the Conservatives have instead said that they want to get rid of the carbon tax on home heating. The thing is that the federal carbon tax only applies in provinces that do not have their own provincial carbon pricing system. Therefore, it does cause one to wonder whether the Conservatives are aware of that fact or not.
I wonder if the member could confirm that he knows the federal backstop only operates in about half of the Canadian provinces and if he could name the provinces where the federal backstop is in effect.
View Stephen Ellis Profile
CPC (NS)
View Stephen Ellis Profile
2022-12-05 13:18 [p.10403]
Madam Speaker, certainly we know that when we have the worst government, there is nothing worse than that, so there is no superlative for the worst.
The other important part is that my province of Nova Scotia actually had a plan for carbon pricing and was trying to reduce pollution. We know, very clearly, that it cost Nova Scotians less and it actually met targets. We all know from debate in the House over the many months preceding this actual topic, that the Liberal government is not meeting its targets, that it is 58th out of 63 governments around the world, yet it continues to say how great it is in meeting targets. I guess the question that would remain is this. Why would we want to adhere to the policies of a big, bossy federal government that then will make this policy on top of Nova Scotia's, which had a better plan, was cheaper and actually met targets?
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise today to speak to this year's fall economic statement implementation act.
I was hoping to see in the update a plan to address the rising costs of living. I was hoping to see a plan to combat inflation. I was hoping to see a reduction in government spending. I was hoping to see effective financial relief for rural and low-income Canadians. I was hoping to see support for our armed forces members. Unsurprisingly, instead we received more spending and higher taxes on already struggling Canadians.
The cost of putting food on the table has seen its biggest jump this year in over four decades. Home heating, oil and propane have all seen drastic increases in price and cost. The same is happening at pumps across Canada, especially in rural ridings.
One of the single largest complaints I hear about at the grocery store and through my office is about costs, the cost of living and the rising cost of everything. Unfortunately, for many struggling Canadians, it is only going to get worse thanks to the government. The carbon tax is not working.
When I am out at local events in my riding, people often say to me that standing up in question period and asking questions is all fine and dandy, but they want to know what I am actually doing to help Canadians. They ask what steps I, as the opposition, am taking to help the people of Hastings—Lennox and Addington. The answer to that question is of course tied up with the capacity of the legislative branch to put checks and balances on the executive or cabinet. In Westminster systems, those two branches are often intermingled, so it can be difficult to parse the capacity and role of either.
That being said, I want to take this opportunity to highlight two separate ways our Conservative opposition use our powers, as parliamentarians, to hold the government accountable. The first is by easing the burden on Canadian families and the second is by scrutinizing Liberal legislation at committee.
The member for Carleton, our Conservative leader, introduced a motion in the House of Commons to introduce a tax exemption on home heating. The NDP, Bloc and Liberals voted against it. The member for Regina—Qu'Appelle introduced a motion calling on a moratorium on taxes on gas, home heating, groceries and paycheques. Once again, the NDP, Bloc and Liberals voted against it. A third motion calling on the government to not implement the carbon tax was also voted against by three other parties in the House.
While the House was able to unanimously agree to a motion on high food prices, the fact remains there is only one party that is attempting to lower the cost of home heating and gas prices in a manner that would be quick and effective, and that is the Conservative Party.
It was also the Conservative Party that exposed the Liberal government's attempt to ban long guns through an amendment package at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I want to thank my colleagues on the public safety committee for their due diligence in respecting the rights of law-abiding firearms owners. I want to let the hunters and farmers in Hastings—Lennox and Addington know that I will unequivocally vote against any attempt by the Liberal government to take their legally owned long guns.
Another area that this statement is silent on is rural broadband. I had many constituents contact my office, if they can get service, to ask me why it was taking so long for the government to deliver on its promise to increase broadband in ridings such as mine, and it is extremely frustrating not to be able to provide an answer. A number of local ISPs have also expressed a concern that they are being frozen out of funding opportunities in favour of larger companies.
I would note that in the annex there is an indication that funding under ISED is not coming this year and has only been earmarked for next. I hope the government actually gets the money out the door instead of lapsing the funding like it has done with National Defence to the tune of billions of much-needed dollars.
My colleague from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman earlier spoke to this bill, and rightly touched on the complete lack of support for our armed forces in economic the statement. He highlighted the desperate need to start cutting steel on our surface combatants, the Type 26 variant, and pointed out that we still did not have contracts signed for our F-35s, a strategically vital piece of equipment that the government delayed by years because of playing political games with military procurement.
I also want to congratulate our friends in the United Kingdom for getting their first Type 26 in the water, the HMS Glasgow.
He also touched on what I believe to be an even bigger issue, and that is the recruitment and retention crisis. I want to reiterate to the House how much of an issue this is. Our armed forces are in crisis.
In an order issued on October 6 of this year, General Eyre instructed the entirety of the armed forces to cease all non-essential operations and focus exclusively on recruitment and retention of personnel. The general's words leave no room for interpretation. Our forces are in crisis and no area of it is left unaffected, with every single trade operating at below its effective level.
When we look at the current state of our armed forces, the reasons behind the shortage begin to become clear.
For example, the post living differential, essentially a cost-of-living adjustment based on posting location, has not been upgraded since 2008, mainly due to stingy Treasury Board regulations. This is simply unacceptable. In my previous shadow minister position for seniors, the importance of updating these allowances was made excruciatingly clear to me. The CPP is updated every January. The GIS and OAS are updated four times a year. However, we expect our armed forces members to live in an economic climate of 2008 instead of 2022. That is unacceptable.
If we do not have the necessary equipment and troops, we do not possess the capability to meet our current commitments, whether they be peacekeeping missions, protecting our Arctic or responding to evolving threats on the international stage. It also severely limits our capacity to expand our commitments into future endeavours, such as the recently announced Indo-Pacific strategy.
Our armed forces' capability commitment gap is increasing at both ends, with our commitments growing in an increasingly unstable international order and our capability shrinking through attrition.
This reconstitution of our armed forces is affecting every single trade. The general made it clear at the Standing Committee on National Defence that every single decision the CAF made was through the lens of reconstitution.
Whether it is by continually failing to provide basic services and equipment to our serving forces members or offering medically assisted suicide to them once they transition out, the government’s refusal to treat our CAF members with the dignity and respect they have earned and deserve is appalling. This cannot be allowed to continue.
I really do hope the government, with the CDS, addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in our armed forces.
I must reiterate that I pray the government listens to Canadians in their communities and takes substantive, effective and meaningful action to combat the cost of living by cancelling the carbon tax.
I do not mean to sound as though there is nothing of substance in the statement. The reality of the matter is that what is missing from the update speaks volumes as to where the government's priorities lie, and I do not believe they lie with rural Canadians. Whether the it is aware of it or not, the simple fact of the matter is that its carbon tax will add to the already astonishingly large financial burden facing everyday Canadians, and they simply cannot afford to be bled anymore.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 13:27 [p.10404]
Madam Speaker, on the one hand, Conservatives will stand and talk about the idea of cutting back and chopping money from the budget. Then we get Conservatives who will stand and say that we should be spending more.
The member is talking about billions of dollars of additional expenditures. She is critical of the government for expanding Internet connections in rural Canada. We have increased rural connectivity significantly compared to the former prime minister. It cost billions of dollars to do that, and we have been criticized for spending those billions of dollars.
Does the member not recognize that some might detect a little hypocrisy in the statements that are flowing from the Conservative Party today?
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I will be quick to suggest that economic stewardship in this place, as parliamentarians, is significant. It is huge. The government has had seven years. From my perspective, it is the captain of a rudderless ship and the rhetoric that I am getting from across the aisle is not working.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-12-05 13:29 [p.10404]
Madam Speaker, for a rudderless ship, I would say we are doing pretty well. The reality is that even when we look at something like Canada's inflationary rate among G7 partners, we have the second best next to Japan. When we look at economic growth, before the pandemic, out of the G7 partners, we were the fastest-growing economy. We are the best positioned to come out of the pandemic. The reality of the situation is, despite the fact that Conservatives might not like to acknowledge it, we are doing quite well, especially compared to our peer countries.
Would the member at least acknowledge the fact that, looking at Canada compared to some of the other countries we compare ourselves to regularly, we are doing a pretty good job?
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I would acknowledge there is an example of another Liberal quickly patting themselves on the back for a lack of hard work.
I would like to give some facts. This country is in trouble. Government spending is up 30% compared to prepandemic levels. Next year, debt interest payments will cost nearly as much as the Canada health transfer.
The member across the aisle has suggested their government is doing pretty well. Perhaps he has not spoken to his constituents lately.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I know my colleague is very concerned about the needs of seniors who are feeling pressure because of inflation. Can she tell me what is missing from this economic statement? Can she tell me if she agrees that people between the ages of 65 and 74 should not be entitled to an increase in their old age security? Does she agree with the government's position?
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is undeniable that all Canadians are faced with an extreme amount of economic uncertainty. There is no question that seniors, business owners and families are. No new spending and no new taxes would help seniors and all Canadians across the board.
View Pat Kelly Profile
CPC (AB)
View Pat Kelly Profile
2022-12-05 13:31 [p.10405]
Madam Speaker, I followed the debate and I did think extraordinary the amount of patting on the back the Liberals wish to do over this economic statement. I know the member touched briefly on the debt service charges for this year, but in the years to come, according to the statement, by 2029 there will be up to $50 billion a year in interest charges with rising interest rates and endless deficits. Fifty billion dollars is way more than the current health transfer of only $36 billion. That is double the current national defence budget.
Could the member comment on how debt service charges threaten all the programs of the federal government that Canadians rely on?
View Shelby Kramp-Neuman Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, there is no question the reckless spending of the government is burdening Canadians significantly. It is mortgaging the futures of our future generations. We need to step up. This tax-and-spend government is not sustainable.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, I am excited to speak to Bill C‑32 today, the bill to implement the economic statement introduced by the Liberal government.
The bill contains 25 tax measures and about 10 other non-tax measures. This may seem like a lot, but a closer look at these measures reveals that they are twofold: minor legislative amendments, and measures that were announced in the spring 2022 budget that were not included in the first budget implementation bill passed last June. Clearly, like the November 3 economic statement, Bill C‑32 contains no measures to address the new economic reality of high living costs and a possible recession.
The Bloc Québécois bemoans the fact that this economic update mentions the issue of inflation 108 times without offering any additional support to vulnerable people even though there is a fear that a recession will hit as early as 2023. Quebeckers who are worried about the rising cost of living will find little comfort in this economic update. They will have to make do with the follow-up to last spring's budget. We must denounce a missed opportunity to help Quebeckers face the difficult times they are already experiencing or that are feared for the months to come.
This bill will not exactly go down in history, and its lack of vision does not deserve much praise. However, it does not contain anything harmful enough to warrant opposing it or trying to block it. The Bloc Québécois will therefore be voting in favour of Bill C‑32, albeit half-heartedly, and I would like to use the rest of my time to talk about what is missing from this economic statement.
The first big thing missing from Bill C‑32 is support for seniors. Still, to this day, Ottawa continues to deprive people aged 65 to 74 of the old age pension increase they need more than ever now. Seniors live on fixed incomes, so it is harder for them to deal with a cost of living increase as drastic as the one we are currently experiencing. These folks are the most likely to face tough choices at the grocery store or the pharmacy. Last week, a study by the Association québécoise de défense des droits des personnes retraitées et préretraitées in partnership with the Observatoire québécois des inégalités revealed that nearly half of Quebec seniors do not have a livable income. Specifically, 49% of seniors aged 60 and over do not have a decent income to live in dignity. Members will agree that helping seniors is about more than just ageism, isolation and abuse. It is about ensuring that they have adequate financial support to live and age with dignity. This is not currently the case in terms of the Liberal government's priorities.
What is more, the government keeps penalizing seniors who would like to work more without losing their benefits. Inflation, unlike the federal government, does not discriminate against seniors based on their age. It is not by starving seniors 65 to 75 that we are going to encourage them to stay in their jobs. We do that by no longer penalizing them for working.
The second thing that has been largely forgotten in this economic update is employment insurance reform, a significant measure that the forgotten are counting on. Employment insurance is the ultimate economic stabilizer during a recession. While a growing number of analysts continue to be concerned about the possibility of a recession as early as next year, the Canadian government seems to be going back on the comprehensive EI reform it promised in the summer. The system has essentially been dismantled over the years and currently six in 10 workers who lose their jobs are not entitled to employment insurance. This is because they fail to qualify and, of course, they do not meet the current eligibility criteria. That is unacceptable in a developed country like ours.
The Bloc Québécois is in favour of increasing the replacement rate to at least 60%, as was the case prior to 1993.
The Bloc Québécois also believes that we need to better redistribute the EI regions to reflect the reality of workers in the seasonal industry and unemployment in the regions. In my riding in the Lower St. Lawrence area, seasonal work is a reality for many people who work hard in industries such as forestry, tourism and agriculture. These industries are important for economic vitality, but they also help build our region's unique character. They are part of our culture and heritage.
By stubbornly refusing to move forward with the necessary EI reform, Ottawa is putting our workers, our seasonal industries and our regions in a precarious situation. It is ignoring and abandoning our needs, and yet the Liberals promised EI reform in both the 2015 and 2019 elections. How many times will the federal government let Quebec's regions down?
The third thing missing here is inflation, a word we have been hearing over and over. As I said earlier, the government has identified the problem, the rising cost of living, but is not actually doing anything about it. It tells us to expect very tough times this winter, but says nothing about how to get through them. It makes dire observations about the economic situation, but dismisses any and every opposition suggestion for dealing with it. Consider supply chains, whose fragility was exposed during the pandemic. Last spring's budget named the problem 71 times, and the economic update did so another 45 times. However, neither document offers any solutions whatsoever to the problem.
In Bill C‑32, the government repeats measures it took in the past and acts on announcements from last April's budget, but there is nothing to suggest it knows where it is headed. This is all déjà vu. It is a celebration of Liberal lip service, but one cannot feed one's children with fine speeches.
Another major file that Ottawa continues to ignore is health transfers. The meeting of health ministers from Quebec, the provinces and the federal government from November 7 to 9, 2022, went nowhere. The federal government showed up empty-handed and did not offer any increase in health transfers. Even worse, it lectured and insulted the provinces, accusing them of mismanaging health care. That came from a government that is incapable of managing its own responsibilities such as passports, employment insurance and immigration. That is really rich coming from the federal Liberals.
The Bloc Québécois is defending the provinces and Quebec, which are united in asking for an increase in federal health transfers from 22% to 35%, or an increase from $42 billion to $60 billion. That is a $28 billion increase per year, as unanimously requested by Quebec and all the provinces. This permanent and unconditional increase would make it possible for Quebec to rebuild its health system, which was undermined by years of austerity caused by the reduction in transfers in the 1990s. It would also help address issues related to the aging population and the additional pressure this will put on the health care network.
Those three Bloc Québécois priorities are not included in the economic update. I would like to take the time to remind my fellow members, and all Quebeckers, of what the Bloc Québécois had asked the government to do in conjunction with this economic statement. Our request was both simple and meaningful in an uncertain and difficult economic context: We asked the government to refocus on its fundamental responsibilities towards vulnerable people.
The measure of a society is how much care and support it provides to those who are most vulnerable and most in need. To do this, three key measures are more crucial than ever: increasing health transfers; providing adequate support to people aged 65 and over, since they are on a fixed income with low indexation that fails to offset our rampant inflation; and, of course, undertaking a comprehensive reform of employment insurance. Unfortunately, the Liberals did not think any of these measures were worth considering.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 13:43 [p.10406]
Madam Speaker, the Bloc is somewhat predictable in the issue of health care, as is, to a certain degree, the official opposition. They tend to think the Government of Canada's only role in health care is to be like an ATM and hand out money. They tend to not want to recognize that there is the Canada Health Act and that there is a huge expectation from Canadians in general that the federal government be there on issues such as long-term care, mental health and pharmaceuticals, let alone many other aspects of health care.
I am wondering if my friend would not, at the very least, agree there are variations in different provinces, yet Canadians want to have a health care system they know will be there in the future and be supported relatively closely in services provided, no matter where they happen to live, whether it is Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver or Halifax.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, the comments from the member for Winnipeg North are giving me a feeling of déjà vu.
Giving Quebeckers the health care system they expect requires adequate financial support, but this government is not offering that. The Prime Minister made a commitment in 2020 to address the situation after the pandemic and to sit down with Quebec and the provinces to negotiate health transfers. This commitment is not new; it is nearly two years old. However, the Prime Minister did not even bother to show up when the federal Minister of Health called a meeting with all the first ministers of Canada and Quebec.
It is just not a priority for the federal government right now. The only thing Ottawa wants to do is continue trampling on provincial jurisdictions. I would like my colleague from Winnipeg North to tell me what real expertise the federal government has in health care when—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Questions and comments.
The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.
View Claude DeBellefeuille Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, in his excellent speech, my colleague talked about federal services to the public, such as passports and immigration. He also talked about the delays and unreasonable wait times EI claimants are being subjected to. Our staff hear from so many of these people.
Can the member give some specific examples of problems he is experiencing because of the government's failure to deliver these three services to people efficiently?
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, the few seconds I have will not be enough to list the many problems my constituents are having with federal services.
Take immigration. It is unbelievable how much time my team and I spend dealing with immigration issues every week. People are having to take days off so they can attempt to reach Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff for updates on their applications. That is why they turn to their MPs for help.
Then there is the passport crisis. People have had to camp out in front of passport offices to get their documents. The government realized how bad this looked, so it sent EI officers to work at passport offices. Now people are waiting even longer for their EI benefits. The government fixed one problem by causing another. What we need is for the government to focus on its own responsibilities, which it is currently failing to carry out.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2022-12-05 13:46 [p.10407]
Madam Speaker, the member is wrong in what he says about funding for health care. Never in the history of Canada have we had a national government provide as much cash in transfers over to provinces for health care. It has not happened before. In fact, if the member was to take a look at history, and I was first elected back in 1988 in the Manitoba legislature, he would see that Ottawa has always been the place to go to try to get more money, even though during the seventies there was an agreement among the provinces that they would rather have tax point transfers as opposed to cash. The only government that has been consistent in supporting national health care and ensuring Canadians would have the health care they want is the national government.
I would ask the member if he would not at least acknowledge that never before has the Province of Quebec or any province received as much cash for health.
View Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Profile
BQ (QC)
Madam Speaker, we understand the member for Winnipeg North's point. Health transfers are not a gift that we are asking Ottawa for. We want our fair share of our money. This money comes from Quebeckers and the provinces. The federal government does not invent this money—
View Alexandra Mendès Profile
Lib. (QC)
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, I am proud to rise on behalf of the fiscally responsible citizens of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
This costly coalition is out of control. The fall economic statement spells out in black and white just how bad the government's addiction to spending has gotten. None of this is a surprise. It is déjà vu all over again.
In 1972, after just one term under Pierre Trudeau, Canadians clipped his wings and handed him a minority government. Pierre Trudeau struck a deal with the NDP to stay in power. Does that sound familiar? The NDP made expensive demands and the Liberals spent and spent. They timed their spending for maximum pain as the rest of the decade was dominated by stagflation, which is high inflation and low growth fuelled by government spending. Does it sound familiar?
By the end of Pierre Trudeau's reign of error, the deficit was the largest in prepandemic Canadian history. The situation was so bad that Canadians had to elect a Progressive Conservative government to raise taxes and a Liberal government to cut spending. It took 15 years to clean up Pierre Trudeau's overspending addiction. How long will Canadians have to wait this time?
This fall economic statement is either the height of delusion or the peak of cynicism. Canadians face a stark choice: Either the government is delusional and believes spending even more than what it had budgeted for six months ago is fiscally responsible, or Canadians have a government that is so cynical of democracy it thinks it can just repeat the claim of fiscal responsibility enough that people believe it. The government knows it is addicted to spending without a plan. The Parliamentary Budget Officer says there is $14 billion unaccounted for, just another little slush fund to pay off whichever interest group is most in favour tomorrow.
Recently, headlines said the Bank of Canada lost money for the first time in history. That is because it had to pay interest to the banks for the bonds they swapped to keep the current government afloat. That is great for Bay Street, but it is bad for the taxpayers. We can add that to the interest we are all paying on the debt. It is now more than what we spend on national defence and soon it will be more than we spend on health. It did not have to be this way.
Once upon a time, we had a national consensus that deficits outside of economic downturns were to be avoided. The economy roared back after the government lockdowns nearly cratered it. Had the government demonstrated even a modicum of self-restraint, we could be arguing about how to spend a surplus.
Many Canadians believe that our country is becoming more polarized. We should ask ourselves if deficits contribute to the increasing polarization. Running deficits is a bit like musical chairs. Everyone knows that eventually the song will end and there will not be enough chairs for every person, so people get their elbows up and eventually the bonds stop selling and the money runs out. Rather than people scrambling for chairs, it will be social factions fighting for funding. When the money runs out, do they close the school or the hospital?
If the government truly wished to reduce polarization in society, it would be running surpluses. When they can run surpluses, everything becomes easier. It is like a game of musical chairs, except when the music stops they add extra seats. With surpluses, they could pay down debt, lower taxes and make sound investments in core areas of federal responsibility. All it requires is an element of patience. It requires the ability to say “not yet” to favourite interest groups. However, the government lacks discipline.
The government lives in denial. Every budget and every update, the Liberals make the same empty promise. They say that this time it will be different. It is as if Canadians are Charlie Brown and the Liberals are Lucy with a football of fiscal responsibility.
In 2019, the budget said the Liberals would be spending $421 billion by 2024. In the 2020 economic update, the minister claimed that spending in 2024 would be $429 billion. One year later, the Liberals needed to revise the numbers again. That time, they said the spending in 2024 would be $465 billion. That was just 12 months ago. Now, the gang who cannot spend responsibly claims that spending in 2024 will $505 billion. That is not sustainable.
There is no better illustration of the government's addiction to spending than its latest plans for the Canada growth fund. Here is what the fall economic statement says about the new Canada growth fund. The fund will make investments “that contribute to economic growth through direct investments, loans, loan guarantees and equity investments.” I apologize, that was the 2016 budget referring to the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
Here is the quote from this year: “It will invest using a broad suite of financial instruments including all forms of debt, equity, guarantees, and specialized contracts.” How will this growth fund operate? Here is what the government said: “The Canada Infrastructure Bank will be accountable to, and partner with, government, but will operate at greater arm’s length than a department”. I am sorry, that is the 2016 budget again.
This is what budget 2022 said, “The Canada Growth Fund will be a new public investment vehicle that will operate at arms-length from the federal government.” Now the growth fund is all about leveraging private capital. It states, “It will invest on a concessionary basis, with the goal that for every dollar invested by the fund, it will aim to attract at least three dollars of private capital.”
I will say that the government has gotten slightly more modest since 2016, when it said, “great opportunity for the government to leverage its investments in infrastructure, by bringing in private capital to the table to multiply the level of investment...there is a potential to multiply this level of investment 10 to 14 times”. While the Canada Infrastructure Bank was supposed to be at arm's length and focus on infrastructure, it quickly fell victim to the government's radical net-zero ideology. This so-called growth fund is just another example. The growth fund will be stuffed with well-connected executives friendly to the Liberal ideology. They will be paid bonuses whether they accomplish anything or not.
There will be billions and billions for green dreams, yet Canada does not have a national four-lane highway. Ontario's Ring of Fire is full of critical minerals and metals, yet it is nearly inaccessible by road. The government has mandated that 20% of cars sold in three years will be zero emission, yet it has not even studied the costs of electric vehicles. There is nowhere near the electrical capacity in our grid to switch one in five cars. No amount of government spending can change the physics of energy density. No amount of growth funds or infrastructure banks can change the economic realities of scarcity and opportunity costs.
With every dollar the government spends chasing its net-zero ideology, it is a dollar we do not spend on mitigation. Every dollar the government borrows to purchase prohibited firearms is a dollar plus interest it cannot spend stopping gang violence. Every bonus paid to executives at the Canada Infrastructure Bank or the growth fund comes at the expense of seniors, veterans and the disabled.
We know the Minister of Justice has some disgusting suggestions on how we can cut spending on vulnerable Canadians. The Liberal addiction to spending is terrible. Sadly, bad spending is not the only terrible thing in Bill C-32. Reminding Canadians this bunch of Liberals is more like a parody of government, this bill attacks the solicitor-client privilege by requiring lawyers to report the names of their clients to the Canada Revenue Agency. The same government invoking solicitor-client privilege to keep its legal opinion hidden is removing that same privilege from Canadians.
Canadians should know, without any doubts, that the government wants to go down in history for bringing the biggest tax hike on alcohol in Canadian history. It could have introduced a freeze on the excise tax hikes, which it tied to inflation with its automatic escalator tax, but Bill C-32 contains a number of changes to the excise tax. Of course, as with everything the government does, the changes are for the benefit of the government. It has no problem making it easier for the tax man to search our records, but making it easier for Canadians to enjoy beer on the weekend? We can forget it. All the government cares about are the wealthy and well connected, who get rich off the special deals cooked up by these so-called arm's-length funds.
Canadians need relief from inflation and all the government does is increase spending, which fuels inflation. Like an addict, the government will deny it has a problem. It will deny and deflect until the money runs out.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
2022-12-05 13:58 [p.10409]
Madam Speaker, I heard the member say there is nowhere near enough charging capacity for electric vehicles. I realize we are both from Ontario, so I would encourage her to travel a little east into Quebec. She will see there is more than enough. Quebec has done an incredible job of building up its infrastructure. Ontario had that opportunity but suddenly abandoned it five years ago when Doug Ford was elected.
The reality of the situation is that this is about political will, and the Conservatives, at least provincially in Ontario, do not have the political will. What we have seen in Quebec is the exact opposite, and I am wondering if the member would like to comment on that.
View Cheryl Gallant Profile
CPC (ON)
Madam Speaker, that is pretty rich coming from a member of the Liberal government who is able to charge up at work every day and charge it to the taxpayers of Canada.
View Alain Rayes Profile
Ind. (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2022-12-05 14:00 [p.10409]
Madam Speaker, today I would like to take a moment to mark the 50th anniversary of the Association québécoise pour l'avancement des Nations unies, also known as AQANU. This non-governmental organization, run by volunteers, was created to promote the values of the United Nations and human rights; to organize activities that increase awareness, spread information and advocate for sustainable development; and to support the implementation of sustainable development projects and support activities in Haiti.
AQANU works with rural groups to support projects that improve the lives of Haitians. Project themes include food security, agriculture, education and humanitarian aid.
Some $7 million has been invested in more than 270 projects, and that is in addition to research and observation trips to Haiti and work sessions at the United Nations. The organization also maintains close relationships between the people there and here in Canada and Quebec.
I would like to sincerely congratulate and thank all those dedicated people involved in AQANU who have been making a real difference in the lives of thousands of Haitians for 50 years now.
View Peter Schiefke Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Peter Schiefke Profile
2022-12-05 14:01 [p.10409]
Madam Speaker, I rise today in the House to pay tribute to a pillar of the Vaudreuil—Soulanges community. Daniel Boyer, the City of Saint‑Lazare's director of public safety and fire safety, will be retiring on December 31 after 30 years of loyal service.
Beginning in 1992, Mr. Boyer rose through the municipal ranks from firefighter to lieutenant to deputy director and, finally, director, a position he has held since 2006. Throughout his years of service, his leadership and professionalism, rare and valuable qualities, earned him the love and respect of his team at the firehouse.
I wish Daniel all the best in this next chapter of his life. I am happy to hear that he bought a motorcycle, and I hope he uses it to explore not only our community but our entire country. As his member of Parliament, I cannot think of a better way for him to spend his golden years, and I wish him safe and happy travels along the way.
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
CPC (AB)
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2022-12-05 14:02 [p.10409]
Mr. Speaker,
I've done nothing wrongHe said with a sneerBut Canadians are worriedBecause Christmas is near
Christmas without foodChristmas without meatChristmas without toysAnd without any heat
The Grinch hates peopleWho don’t listen to that guyWe've tried to figure it outBut no one knows why
It could be perhaps, that his socks were too tightWe suspect it's because his head isn't screwed on just right
His fingers in your pockets grabbing with gleeAnd now he wants the presentsFrom under our tree
He's taxed all our taxes And spent even moreOur cupboards are emptierThan ever before
Conservatives have tried But he won't listen to reasonHe loves his carbon taxNo matter the season
But despite his cold heartAnd his love of inflationCalgary Midnapore will neverLet him ruin our Christmas celebration
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Soraya Martinez Ferrada Profile
2022-12-05 14:03 [p.10410]
Mr. Speaker, the holiday season is already upon us. It is a time for hot chocolate, family gatherings and, yes, flannel pyjamas. Community organizations in Hochelaga have been working hard for months now to make this a magical time for all local families and to make sure everyone in need has a hot meal or enough food in the fridge for the holidays. We are well aware of the critical needs at this difficult time.
I would like to thank the organizations that are stepping up to help their neighbours. Solidarity and civic engagement are in Hochelaga's DNA.
On this International Volunteer Day, I invite everyone to give their time in their communities. Whether it is by offering a hug, a sympathetic ear or a smile to break the ice, let us be there for one another. People can contact Accès Bénévolat, an umbrella organization in the east end of Montreal that has matched hundreds of volunteers with more than 300 social organizations since 1982.
I want to say a huge thank you to all our organizations. They are the unsung heroes of these tough times.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2022-12-05 14:04 [p.10410]
Mr. Speaker, later on, I will be presenting the Minister of Employment with the demands of local organizations that are fighting for a better EI system.
Two weeks ago, L.A.S.T.U.S.E du Saguenay, which represents unemployed workers, and Récif 02, a round table of Saguenay—Lac‑Saint‑Jean women's groups, held a protest in front of my office to condemn not just the inhumane delays at Service Canada, but also the sexism pervasive in the benefits system.
I saw this for myself when one of my constituents was refused benefits last year after losing her job during her maternity leave. The Social Security Tribunal of Canada had ruled that a similar case was discriminatory in January, but the government decided to appeal. That is so hypocritical, coming from a government that claims to be feminist and to always be there for vulnerable populations.
It is high time that the EI program was reformed to make it more egalitarian and effective.
When will the minister reform the system?
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Brenda Shanahan Profile
2022-12-05 14:05 [p.10410]
Mr. Speaker, when I was younger and studying at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, I had the opportunity to visit the Saguenay's magnificent parks and to share with my friends the love of nature and hunting. I was also able to enjoy the famous Lac‑Saint‑Jean tourtière, which is made with seven types of game meat.
Today, as the MP for a riding where hunting is also a popular activity, I want to express my appreciation to hunters who practise this sport responsibly. Quebec sport hunting associations and gun clubs have worked with police forces, community groups and all levels of government to improve this activity and make it safer. Real hunters do not need military-style weapons to practise this sport.
View Pierre Paul-Hus Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, December 5 is International Volunteer Day. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the exceptional community involvement of my constituents in Charlesbourg—Haute‑Saint‑Charles.
Since being elected in 2015, I have had the opportunity to meet many devoted people who do not hesitate to do their part and give their time to help others. These volunteers quite often work in the shadows, without counting their hours, without looking for any recognition, simply to do good.
I would like to take this opportunity today to showcase the invisible but absolutely essential and inspiring work of the volunteers in our riding and in my colleagues' ridings. They are a rare and precious commodity, an invaluable treasure that contributes to making a positive difference in our community. What they do is important and I thank them for their incredible contribution and their selflessness.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2022-12-05 14:07 [p.10410]
Mr. Speaker, the holiday season is upon us, a time for celebration and good cheer. However, as 2022 comes to an end, let us be frank: We are all on edge. It is not hard to figure out why, with isolation due to working from home and an unsettling vulnerability to a virus we cannot see, yet whose harmful and sometimes fatal effects are cruelly felt. If we add in social media algorithms that distort any sense of balance, the ominous science of climate change and the wars and conflicts around the world, people are right to feel edgy, anxious, vulnerable and alone. I do too. What are we to do?
I am choosing to channel those feelings into fighting for a better future. We must not give extremism, violence or hate any room to grow. We must join with our neighbours in making positive changes. Most importantly, we must be kind to each other and to ourselves. We are strongest together.
View James Maloney Profile
Lib. (ON)
View James Maloney Profile
2022-12-05 14:08 [p.10411]
Mr. Speaker, I was born in Thunder Bay, and one of my fondest memories is the time spent with my dad and two brothers walking through the bush on a beautiful fall day. I am proud to say that I am hunter. I would not trade those memories for anything, and I would not want to deny anybody else the opportunity to make them. This is in no way inconsistent with the legislation before the House that would keep our streets and communities safe from unlawful gun and gang activity.
Hunting is one of the oldest traditions in Canada. It is a tradition that involves and promotes the safe use of firearms. Hunting also provides food security to many Canadian families and indigenous communities. A safe and sustainable practice of hunting in Canada not only respects our past but recognizes the importance of indigenous Canadians, for whom it is a way of life. I am committed to making sure that we find the right balance.
View Dan Mazier Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has launched the largest attack on law-abiding hunters in Canadian history. The government's proposed amendments to Bill C-21 would effectively ban hundreds of thousands of firearms used for hunting.
Hunting is a Canadian tradition. It is a way of life for millions of rural, remote and indigenous Canadians. However, the Liberal government has attacked these Canadians since it took office. Its own minister, who is supposed to stand up for rural Canada, is in favour of this attack on hunters. That is no way to stand up for rural Canada.
Yesterday, deer hunting season closed for most hunters in Manitoba. Unfortunately, these hunters do not know if they will be using their hunting rifles next year.
My message to the out-of-touch Liberal government is this: Hunters are not the problem, so just leave them alone.
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
2022-12-05 14:10 [p.10411]
Mr. Speaker, today marks day 11 of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.
Preventing and responding to gender-based violence is essential and we all have a role to play. At the Safe Centre of Peel in Brampton, 16 partner organizations work together under one roof to provide integrated service delivery for survivors. The family justice model has been identified as an innovative practice that can be showcased nationally.
I want to recognize director Shelina Jeshani and Peel Regional Police Inspector Lisa Hewison, as well as local organizations, such as the Zonta Club, for their leadership.
This government is committed to action with our national action plan to end gender-based violence. This way we make the vision of ending gender-based violence a reality for Canadians, no matter who they are or where they live.
View Jeremy Patzer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, we lost one of the good ones. Reg Schellenberg was a family man, a person of faith, integrity and a leader in Canadian agriculture. He lived not only with his words, but also with his actions. He spent many years giving his time on different boards and associations.
I know that many of us in Parliament have met with Reg over the years, particularly in his most recent capacity as the president of the Canadian Cattle Association.
He could always be counted on for honest, straightforward advice that was forged through his time on the Perrin ranch south of Beechy with his wife Shannon by his side. Their story is one of living the Saskatchewan dream, running a multi-generational cow-calf operation on the northern shores of the beautiful Lake Diefenbaker.
Reg will be sorely missed. For Shannon, Coy, Jesse and Stacey, our hearts and prayers are with them and their families as they go through this time of mourning.
View Michelle Ferreri Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are barely hanging on. The stress of paying for groceries is unbearable for many, especially those on fixed incomes.
Today's announcement from Canada's 2023 Food Price Report sheds an even dimmer light on what is to come. According to the report, a family of four will spend $16,000 dollars on groceries next year. That is an increase of $1,100.
Last year's report projected food prices to rise by 7%, and this was considered "alarmist" by critics. The reality is that today's report shows food prices have increased by 10%.
The leader of the official opposition, alongside the Conservatives, predicted this inflation and cost of living crisis years ago. The Liberals choose not to listen. They are doubling down on imposing their fertilizer tax, carbon tax and reliance on dictator oil. All these decisions are driving up the cost of food.
By 2030, a typical 5,000 acre farm could expect to pay $150,000 in carbon tax. If farmers cannot afford to run their farms, how can they afford to feed Canadians?
View Darren Fisher Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Darren Fisher Profile
2022-12-05 14:14 [p.10412]
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to celebrate the 36th Speaker of the House of Commons and my dear friend, the Hon. Geoff Regan, serving more than 20 years as the member of Parliament for Halifax West; the former minister of fisheries and oceans; the first Speaker from Nova Scotia in 98 years; a teller of dad jokes; a karaoke superstar; a compassionate, smart human being; and very funny.
Geoff Regan has left a spectacular legacy of public service in this place and at home. As the “Selected Decisions of Speaker Geoff Regan” is tabled today, we fondly remember how he would use his clever and fair parenting skills in the chamber to bring back decorum to even the most heated debates.
Speaker Regan took this role seriously and always knew that one of his “most important responsibilities as Speaker is to safeguard the rights and privileges of members, individually and collectively.”
We all know that this place is better because he shared his wisdom, his compassion for others and his thoughtful words with us and with Canadians.
I thank Speaker Regan for everything.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, something remarkable happened a few weeks ago. After campaigning vigorously on the need for dental care in the last election, the New Democrats have delivered.
We forced the Liberal government, which had voted against the program only last year, to do an about-face and realize the benefits it would bring to millions of Canadians who could not afford to see a dentist. That program is now open for applications.
We are not finished there. Next year, the program will be expanded to include seniors, persons with disabilities and children under the age of 18.
The Conservative MPs voted against this. They did so even with the knowledge that they and their families would continue to benefit from taxpayer-funded dental care available to them as members of Parliament, a classic example of “Good for me, but not for thee.” However, I have great news for people living in Conservative ridings. Even though their MPs voted to deny them this care, the New Democrats have their backs and have made sure it will be there for them and their kids.
View Luc Desilets Profile
BQ (QC)
View Luc Desilets Profile
2022-12-05 14:16 [p.10412]
Mr. Speaker, today, I am very pleased to mark the 75th anniversary of the Sainte‑Thérèse Royal Canadian Legion. The Sainte‑Thérèse Legion was founded in 1947 and was the 208th legion in Quebec. We are talking about 75 years of support for veterans and their families, 75 years of community service, 75 years of memories, and 75 years of learning how to care for the living without forgetting the dead.
There is some good news for the legion. After repeated requests to the Department of National Defence, the legion will now be able to count on the 4th Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment stationed in Laval to perform during the 21-gun salute at the next Remembrance Day ceremony.
In any case, it is an honour for me to be a member of this thriving, close-knit legion. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to support our legions and take care of those who care for our veterans.
I wish the Sainte-Thérèse Legion a happy 75th anniversary.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
CPC (AB)
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2022-12-05 14:17 [p.10412]
Mr. Speaker, crime in Canada is on the rise. Since the Liberals took office, violent crime has risen by 32% and gang-related homicides have increased by a whopping 92%. The Liberals' soft-on-crime policies mean that it is easier than ever for repeat violent offenders to get bail, and sentences are going down.
Unfortunately the best the Liberal government can do is try to ban hunting rifles and shotguns, some that have been used for well over 100 years. This is not about public safety; it is about dividing Canadians for political gain, and Canadians are taking notice.
Just this past weekend, Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price took a stand against the Liberal government's brazen attempt to criminalize law-abiding hunters and sport shooters. I want to read some of his words into the record, “I love my country and I care for my neighbour. I am not a criminal or a threat to society...What [the Prime Minister] is [doing] is unjust.”
It is time for the Liberals to stop criminalizing hunters and go after the real criminals.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2022-12-05 14:18 [p.10413]
Mr. Speaker, on December 6, we will once again commemorate the Polytechnique massacre in Outremont. As I do every year, I will be on Mount Royal with the Prime Minister to pay tribute to the 14 women who were murdered in cold blood simply because they were women.
However, it will be in an entirely different context this year, as our government has proposed a ban on assault weapons like the one used at Polytechnique.
A man walked into our local university 33 years ago and gunned down 14 women using an assault-style automatic weapon, a weapon designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.
Our government has proposed to take the next step in banning these weapons, but we are now in the midst of a disinformation campaign led by the gun lobby. We all agree that hunting is a long-standing tradition in our country, and we all want to protect that tradition, but we do not need an—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Oral Questions.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-12-05 14:20 [p.10413]
Mr. Speaker, according to a new report released today, the cost of food for the average family will go up by $1,000 next year, to $16,300. That is unaffordable for the average family, and it is because of this government's inflationary policies. One in five Canadians is skipping meals because they cannot afford their grocery bills.
When is the government going to reverse its inflationary policies so that Canadians can put food on the table?
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2022-12-05 14:20 [p.10413]
Mr. Speaker, Canada is not the only country facing high food prices. We know this is a challenge for Canadians.
It is also true that extreme weather conditions have led to poor harvests and that supply chain issues have led to higher food prices.
That is why we have a plan to double the GST credit and provide support for dental care and housing. We are taking action. The Conservatives are voting against it. We are here for Canadians.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-12-05 14:21 [p.10413]
Mr. Speaker, the same report demonstrated that by 2030, a farm with 5,000 acres, an average farm, would pay $150,000 in carbon taxes, taxes that are already driving up the cost of food because they get passed onto the consumer.
Food prices are expected to be up $1,000 for the average family to $16,000 a year to feed the average family. That is an incredible sum. In fact, the Mississauga Food Bank reports that some people have even said that the poverty is so grinding that they are asking for help with medical assistance in dying. We need to feed our people.
Why does the government not reverse its inflationary policy so people can afford to eat and live?
View Karina Gould Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Karina Gould Profile
2022-12-05 14:22 [p.10413]
Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we remain committed to supporting people get out of poverty. In fact, we understand how difficult life is right now, which is why we have put forward numerous measures to help the most vulnerable Canadian.
However, if the Leader of the Opposition is indeed sincere in his desire to help lift Canadians out of poverty, he would have voted for measures like the Canada dental benefit, or the Canada housing benefit, or perhaps child care, which has fees being reduced by 50% right across the country. Instead of doing that, he voted against it.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
CPC (ON)
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2022-12-05 14:22 [p.10413]
Mr. Speaker, not only is Christmas dinner going to be especially expensive if people buy it at the grocery store, but now the government wants to ban people in rural country sides from actually hunting for their turkey. It has targeted a long list of hunting rifles and shotguns with a sweeping ban that is being widely condemned by experts, by hunters and by first nations people.
The government has admitted in recent testimony that the ban will apply to hunting rifles contrary to prior talking points. Will it reverse this ban?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, before I answer that question, tomorrow we are marking the 33rd anniversary of the École Polytechnique shooting tragedy. To the families of the victims and to the survivors, we stand with them. We know that despite the passage of time, the hurt and loss never completely heal.
We own it to them, to all victims and to all Canadians to end gun violence once and for all. I hope all members in the chamber will join me in a moment of solidarity.
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