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Results: 1 - 15 of 1573
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2020-05-26 10:18 [p.2400]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your giving me that extra six and a half minutes, because I was mentally prepared for 16 and a half minutes, and I appreciate your clarifying that time.
I was listening to an online conference of Alltech, a large agriculture company, this week. One of the presenters said, “A crisis does not build character; a crisis reveals the character of you and your team.” I think that is very apropos right now, because Canadians are looking to us not only as parliamentarians, as elected officials, but certainly as their beacon of democracy, of what Canada stands for. They are looking to us for inspiration and to be leaders. In a time of crisis, we are the ones who should be at the forefront, taking the leadership role. I think that leadership role includes going to work.
I want to give those in the House who were not here yesterday a bit of a review.
Yesterday, my colleague from Ottawa West—Nepean said in her speech that the House does not matter and that being in Parliament should not matter. I think that is wrong. I know for us there is no greater honour than being elected by our constituents and representing them here in Parliament, in the House of Commons. I believe that this is the foundation of our democracy.
Somebody told me once that there have been fewer members of Parliament than there have been hockey players in the National Hockey League. I am sure most of us had our parents tell us we would never make it in professional hockey, but I do not know if they would have ever said we would never be members of Parliament. Here I am, and that is thanks to my constituents.
When I was elected by the constituents of Foothills, I believed it was my job to be here to represent them, to be their voice in the House of Commons, and to be in Parliament. I would hope that my colleagues from all parties would understand that being here is an integral part of the job of being a member of Parliament. If they do not want to be here, I think they have to look internally to what they want to accomplish in their career as elected politicians and elected officials. If being here in the House of Commons, in Parliament, is not something they see as an essential service or a priority, they should really be taking a hard look at whether this is something they want to do, because being here is a large part of that job. It should be an honour. It is something we should all take a great deal of pride in, no matter what party we represent, and certainly our constituents are expecting us to be here.
Last night, I went through some of my emails from my constituents. We have certainly had a number of them. I know we all have. My constituents in Foothills are asking me to come back to work, not just to be in a virtual committee meeting, but to have Parliament up and running. I would like to read some of the comments that I have from some of my constituents.
Missy in Twin Butte, Alberta wrote:
Keep the pressure up for our government to get back to work! Is it not an essential service? There needs to be some opposition feedback and some questions allowed to [the Prime Minister]. At the moment there are no checks and balances....scary!
Pat in High River wrote:
I would like to know what, if anything you are doing to get the liberals back into the house so you can all do what we are paying you to do.... Letting this virus hold you back is total crap, the people that work in grocery stores and other stores are working. [Why aren't you?] I don't see any reason why you and [parliamentarians] shouldn't be working as well. If the liberals won't go back [to] parliament [it should be] dissolved and an election called.
Karen wrote:
I’m extremely disappointed that the Federal government feels that Parliament is not an essential part of the running of Canada. The justification [for this] is a slap in the face to those [of us] who work every day.... [It is] time for Canadians to be allowed to get back to work.
Rick wrote:
Parliament needs to reconvene, even in a condensed version. I watched the sitting last week and there was some great issues/ideas put forward by the opposition. this inadequate [version of] government cannot continue on its own.
Ellen in High River wrote:
We MUST get parliament back in session !!!!! [That is an] understatement. There must be some way to make [the Prime Minister] recall parliament, short of a million people descending on Ottawa [and demanding so].
Those are just a few of my constituents' comments about where they feel the critical role of Parliament is.
Yesterday, we had the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development saying that we are in a virtual Parliament. We are not in a virtual Parliament; we are in a virtual committee meeting, a committee of the whole. That is very different from Parliament.
It is disingenuous and misleading by the government to say that we are in a virtual Parliament, because we are not having opposition day motions, we are not dealing with legislation outside of COVID-19, and we are not dealing with having the majority of committees up and running. There is no question that dealing with COVID-19 is a priority for all of us. I do not think any of us would disagree with that. However, to say that there are no other issues that are almost as important is simply not true.
The leader of the official opposition yesterday talked about energy projects that are languishing at the cabinet table, 85 billion dollars' worth of energy projects. One of those projects is the Riversdale coal mine in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, in my riding. This is metallurgical coal, which shows the lack of knowledge of the Liberals, who are now chirping at me about shutting down the coal industry. This is a metallurgical coal mine that mines coal for steel, just in case members want to do some homework.
It is interesting that she is already yelling to shut down that industry, not understanding that thousands of people in that community rely on that industry. Having the Riversdale mine would be a game-changer for that community, a community that is not doing well. This is an opportunity for more than 1,000 jobs during construction and hundreds more during operation.
It is not just about the mine and the fact that it is waiting in limbo to be approved or not. It has gone through every process. It has one permit left to go and the approval of cabinet, but imagine what that does for that community. Imagine what that does for Blair's hardware store, Dawn's bed and breakfast and restaurant, Lisa's newspaper, or events operations, or other businesses in that community.
That community is waiting with bated breath on the decision for that mine but sees it languishing at the cabinet table or within government because of COVID-19. I hope the government can walk and chew gum at the same time, so that we can deal with COVID-19 but also have Parliament back to deal with other issues that are just as important.
When we come out of COVID-19, we are going to be in a deep financial hole. We have seen from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the deficit right now is about $252 billion. I would suspect that, with the extension of the CERB and the wage subsidy, it could double and we will see a trillion-dollar debt for Canada. To come out of that, we are going to be relying on a few industries to help carry or dig Canada out of that financial hole.
There are only a couple of industries with the landscape out there right now that Canadians can look to and government should be looking to, to ensure that they are on a strong footing. Examples are energy and agriculture. No matter what happens coming out of COVID, people are still going to heat their homes. They are still going to put fuel in their cars, buy groceries and feed their families. As part of that, there is very real discussion of having a global food shortage. Countries around the world are going to be looking to Canada to try to address that problem because of our farmers here. Would it not make sense to have those two industries as strong as possible coming out of COVID-19?
Those are two of the industries that the Liberal government is neglecting, when it should be looking at those two as pillars of our economy, pillars of our recovery. It does not make a lot of sense that they are not. If we have Parliament back, we can have those discussions here.
For example, in the energy sector, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is not sitting. Why? It is one of the most important industries we have in this country, with more than $60 billion in royalty revenue alone going to the federal government. That does not count the hundreds of billions of dollars of taxes that go to provincial, municipal and federal governments through income tax. That is an essential revenue source for this country coming out of COVID-19, but we cannot have those discussions, because we are just having what is essentially a committee meeting and we cannot talk about issues outside of that committee meeting.
There are projects like the Riversdale mine, which are essential to communities like Crowsnest Pass in my riding. That is just one project of dozens in constituencies and regions across this country. If I am hearing from my constituents about a project of that magnitude and the impact that it could be having on their economy, I am sure others among my colleagues are having the same conversations with their constituents.
As we go through this pandemic and we start looking forward to reopening our economy, in whatever manner that happens, as provinces will have a lot of say in how that happens and we want to ensure we do that as safely as possible, we can imagine where we would be as a country and an economy if we had a strong energy sector and a strong agriculture sector. We would be in a very different position, because we were coming into COVID-19 on very weak financial footing as a result of out-of-control spending by the Liberal government.
I recall the election in 2015, when the current Prime Minister said that we were going to have deficits of $10 billion for four years and in 2019 we would have a balanced budget. That obviously did not happen. We have now seen deficits as high as $28 billion. That was even before the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw detrimental legislation like Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, which have devastated the energy sector. We have seen illegal blockades, carbon taxes and rail backlogs that have devastated the agriculture sector, not to mention more than $5 billion in lost foreign markets as a result of political blunders by the Prime Minister.
Members can imagine where we would be if those two industries were doing well coming into COVID. It would put us in a decent position to come out of this pandemic, but unfortunately that is not where we are. That is unfortunate, because those people would be working. Certainly for us in Alberta, with close to 200,000 energy workers out of work well before COVID-19, that is certainly not getting any better as a result of what we are going through right now.
When I am speaking to my constituents, they understand the position this country is in with the pandemic. We all want to ensure that our families and our friends are safe, but they also want to be back to work. I find it difficult. My wife and I leave home now and again to get groceries, and on the weekend we went to a garden centre and bought some trees and flowers for the yard, and there are 15-year-old teenagers working there. They are helping serve their community in their way, and I find it tough that we cannot do the same thing and serve our community right here in the House of Commons.
What are my Liberal colleagues and those in the Bloc and the NDP trying to hide? Why do they not want to be here? What is holding them back? We are here all this week as 60 members of Parliament, but just in a committee meeting. Why can we not go that extra couple of steps and get ourselves back to normal? I think that is what Canadians are asking us to do. As I said at the beginning of my speech, we are supposed to be the leaders, so why are we languishing behind everybody else? Why are we asking Canadians of every walk of life to start going back to work, except we are the ones who are saying “but not us”? We are saying, “It is good enough for you, but it is not what we should be doing.” I think that is wrong. It sends a horrible message to Canadians. They are looking to us every single day, as their elected representatives. They chose us. They elected us to come here and be their voice, and for the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc and the Greens to be muffling that voice is wrong.
I do not know how they can go back to their constituents, look them in the face and tell them they need to go to work in that grocery story, in that hospital, in that pharmacy and in that hardware store, but the members of Parliament are not going to go back to work. If that is truly their attitude, they need to look at their constituents and ask themselves why they ran in the first place to be a member of Parliament if they are not willing to be out in front, be that leader, be that inspiration to the rest of Canada, be the one who shows that everything is going to be okay. We are going to be here to make the tough decisions on behalf of our constituents.
What it really comes down to is holding the government to account. We cannot have an ongoing process of doing government by press conference. Our democracy is not about that.
I know my constituents are sick and tired of the Prime Minister coming out of the cottage every morning, making his announcements, going back in and then that is it. They want some accountability. In many cases, they agree with the programs that have been put forward, and they certainly appreciate the improvements that the official opposition has forced the government to do. However, they are looking to us to be leaders, not followers. They are looking to us to get back to work, and the government should follow that lead.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-26 10:34 [p.2403]
Mr. Speaker, the member is missing a very important point. We in the Liberal caucus can assure the member that we work whether we are in Ottawa or in our home constituency. At the end of the day, the role that a member of Parliament plays goes far beyond just representation inside the House of Commons. There is no doubt about it that this is an important aspect. It is absolutely a privilege. It is an honour to stand up and speak.
The motion we are debating today is going to allow, even during this pandemic, the opportunity to ensure that government is still being held accountable and that the institution continues to work. To try to give the impression that members of Parliament are not working is just wrong, at least from the perspective of the Liberal caucus. We work every day, whether it is inside or outside the House.
Does the member not realize that this work inside the House, in a hybrid fashion, will take place, even in the months of July and August, which will be a first?
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2020-05-26 10:36 [p.2403]
Mr. Speaker, I can speak from my perspective, however, I want to take this moment to thank my staff from the bottom of my heart. They have been absolutely incredible. My constituency office has never been busier. We are having some very emotional discussions with our constituents and business owners, who are struggling through this process. I am not saying that we are not working in our constituencies.
Again, the parliamentary secretary the the government House leader just said that Parliament would be moving on. No, it is not. It is not Parliament, and he knows that. It is a virtual committee meeting, with many aspects of what is important to Parliament not happening.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank the staff in our constituency and Ottawa offices. They have been working tirelessly for the last couple of months.
The Liberals keep saying that this is great, that we will be able to ask all these questions. We know we can do that, but rare is the day when we actually get an answer. Therefore, it will just be more asked questions with no answers.
It is important to articulate the differences between Parliament and committee. What the Liberals are proposing is shuttering Parliament for another month.
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2020-05-26 10:37 [p.2403]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is exactly right.
I know a large portion of Canadians are not following Parliament as a daily routine like we are. They may not see the intricacies and things that are a part of Parliament, like all the standing committees being operational, opposition day motions or the opportunity to fully debate issues.
For us and Canadians, it comes down to a matter of trust. When we have had this committee meeting, we have had the Liberals try to make an unprecedented power grab and put through a massive order in council, changing the criminal code. They have done these things with no public scrutiny and no debate, and it comes down to trust.
I am sorry, but right now my constituents and I do not trust this process.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2020-05-26 10:38 [p.2403]
Mr. Speaker, first I would like to say, as other colleagues have, that I am at work and that the team I work with in Repentigny and I are very proud of the work we do for the people of our riding.
I will go back to my colleague's remarks about the energy sector. I do not know if he is reading during the current lockdown, but some meteorologists, ecologists and scientists, the International Energy Agency and Stephen Hammer of the World Bank have come forward to say that this has to be a green recovery. Recently, yesterday and today, 40 million health care professionals called for a green recovery.
Why is his party unable to consider green, renewable and environmentally friendly energy?
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2020-05-26 10:39 [p.2403]
Mr. Speaker, that question is extremely frustrating, and I think it goes to the lack of knowledge that my colleague has on the energy sector.
Between 75% and 85% of all green and renewable energy is done by traditional energy companies. If it were not for those companies, we would not have a renewable energy industry in Canada at all. Those are the companies that understand there will be a transition over time. They are the ones that are investing in that technology and innovation.
I would love to ask my colleague how she got here today. How is she communicating with her constituents? Does she really think that it is the end of the energy oil and gas sector? What would that future look like?
I would ask the member to start reading and get some real knowledge on what is at stake here.
View Matthew Green Profile
View Matthew Green Profile
2020-05-26 10:40 [p.2404]
Mr. Speaker, to look at what real knowledge on what we are facing here, I would remind the House that there have been 6,180 deaths during this COVID crisis. There have been 81,765 cases. To suggest that this global pandemic, that this global tragedy is somehow of equal importance to the petro profits of the oil and gas sector is insulting to the families that have lost lives.
The suggestion to Canadians that we have not been working, I know that in my constituency we have been working harder during this critical crisis. What has the Conservative Party been doing over the course of this crisis?
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2020-05-26 10:41 [p.2404]
Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting that the member is talking about this pandemic and the tragedies. I do not think anyone here is arguing that fact. However, how does he think we are going to address that pandemic? Personal protective equipment, vaccines and antivirals all come from the petro chemical industry. Without it, I am not sure where he would be. How would he be communicating with his constituents and working very hard? Would that be through hand signals?
Let us be realistic here. Questions like this, unrealistic questions, should not be coming from a parliamentarian who is representing his constituents, attacking one region of the country over another. We should be working together, as a nation, every industry, to get ourselves out of this, not dividing ourselves.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-05-26 10:42 [p.2404]
Mr. Speaker, Canadians from all regions of the country deserve a great deal of credit for how they have responded over the last couple of months.
I much prefer using “physical” distancing over “social” distancing, because people can still communicate in various ways, but it is important that we maintain the physical distancing. We talk about washing hands and wearing masks. Canadians have really stepped up to the plate in so many ways to ensure that we minimize the negative impact of the coronavirus. We should all express our appreciation to Canadians in general for the way they have responded.
I would like to get my colleague's thoughts on that.
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2020-05-26 10:43 [p.2404]
Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with my colleague. All of us have to take a moment to show our appreciation for Canadians across the country who have done everything they possibly can to deal with this pandemic.
When we were elected, I do not think anybody in this room could ever have anticipated that this was something we would have to deal with, not only in the House of Commons but certainly at home in our constituency offices. Again, I credit our staff who are doing the yeoman's work in trying to help our constituents navigate through this; our front-line workers, emergency and health care professionals and the kids at the grocery stores; all those constituents and Canadians who are doing all they can to ensure that the rest of us are safe and healthy, including our agriculture producers who are going to work every day to ensure we have food on our table and our grocery store shelves are well stocked.
My riding, in High River, had one of the largest outbreaks in the country because of the Cargill meat processing plant and some long-term care facilities.
I would like to take this moment to thank my constituents who work at Cargill Meat Solutions. They have worked so hard to protect themselves and their families, but still go to work to ensure that our agriculture and our processing industries are able to move forward. I thank them very much.
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-05-26 10:45 [p.2404]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to notify the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for Fredericton.
I would like to thank all our front-line workers who are serving Canadians and putting themselves at risk to ensure the rest of society is safe and able to access essential services. I also want to give a shout-out to our public service. Our public servants have been working around the clock providing support to Canadians when they need it during this pandemic.
It is important to highlight this starting point. We are going through a pandemic. Millions of Canadians have lost their jobs because public health advice has required people to stay at home to ensure that people are separated, so the virus does not spread even further and to minimize the loss of life. As a government, through the advice of science and public health advisers, we asked Canadians to stay at home. We asked Canadians to figure out how they could work differently. The same applies to Parliament.
One of the first things Parliament did, and it was a wise move, was ask the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to study how Parliament could react in response to the situation. I am lucky to sit at that committee. Members of the committee went on to do its business. We did it virtually, interviewing and hearing from experts at home and from other parliaments around the world. We came up with a report that set out a road map for Parliament to resume.
We advised that Parliament needed to create a new set of standing orders for exceptional circumstances and that those standing orders would only come into play when all recognized parties in the House of Commons agreed to it for a defined period. If we were to extend that defined period, we would still need the consent of all parties in the House. We know that in extraordinary circumstances, we need all of us to work together. These exceptional standing orders would enable Parliament to work under these exceptional circumstances. We would revise how opposition days would be held. We would revise how bills would be tabled, how we would debate those bills and how we would vote on them.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs put together a road map for how Parliament could come back to work. However, for some reason, my colleagues in the Conservative Party were dead set against it. They disagreed. They tabled a dissenting report, and that is their prerogative. However, let me be very clear that the debate here is not whether Parliament is an essential service; we agree that it is. What we do not agree with is why the Conservatives are refusing to find alternative ways for Parliament to do its job.
Members of Parliament deserve equal access, so their privileges are protected. All members, regardless of where they live or what ridings they represent, must have equal access for their role as parliamentarians. That is why the committee asked Parliament to ensure we respected the privilege of every member. However, the official opposition is asking for us to have a reduced number of members here, which we understand, but how will other members of Parliament fulfill their duties? How will the privileges of other members be protected if the Conservatives are not willing to enable them or empower them to have the ability to participate?
I actually want to ask my colleague, the previous Conservative speaker, about this. While I appreciate his remarks, he said that we were languishing behind, and I agree. Parliaments around the world are finding ways to conduct their work in either a hybrid fashion or a virtual fashion, but they have empowered their members to do their work.
However, the Conservatives are standing in the way. They are saying no, that we have to do it exactly the same way and get “back to normal”. That is an exact quote from the previous speaker. We know we are not in normal circumstances. We know that Parliament, the government and public health officials have asked the rest of the country to figure out how to do their work differently to ensure that they are respecting public health advice. Why can Parliament not do that? We have asked millions of Canadians to do so.
Will the Conservative members look their constituents in the eye and tell them that yes, they have asked them to stay at home, but they are not able to figure out how to do their work differently, and they are requiring MPs to come to Parliament? When they say they are not asking all 338 MPs to be here, how will the MPs who are not here be able to represent their constituents? How will they be able to participate in the debate? How will they be able to vote?
When I asked the leader of the official opposition that yesterday, he said this is what we should be spending our time on. We did. We spent our time studying this and the committee made a proposal, again with the Conservatives dissenting. They cannot have it both ways. They cannot say they want Parliament to work, but then when alternatives are proposed for how Parliament can work, they say no, they are not for that. How does that work?
I heard my colleague say this is not Parliament. I agree. That is right. When we go into committee of the whole, that is not a fully functioning Parliament. We are proposing that Parliament be fully functional, but when we present that proposal to the Conservatives they say no. What do they want?
One cannot be inconsistent and have a straight face. If they want a hybrid Parliament, they need to figure out what Standing Orders we need to change. How will MPs who are not here be able to debate? How will MPs who are not here be able to vote? They cannot say they do not want to talk about that, but Parliament must resume. It is inconsistent.
Other countries around the world have figured that out. Other legislators around the world have figured that out. Why can the Conservatives not figure that out? Why can the Conservatives not get with the times, recognize that we are in a pandemic and we have asked the entire country to find a way to work remotely, to work virtually and to respect public health advice? The Conservatives say the parties would select which MPs would be here, which MPs would not be here and which MPs would vote or not vote. That is a contravention of the privileges for members, who represent their constituents.
I agree with the Conservatives that Parliament is an essential service, and we all want to see Parliament fully functioning under these circumstances. The question is how we do so. We all agree that 338 MPs cannot be here physically. Good, we are making progress. We agree that it is essential and we agree that not all MPs need to be here, but how would the MPs who are not here, when we do have a fully functioning Parliament, participate and represent their constituents? I am hearing crickets. Conservatives are proposing no ideas on how to deal with that.
However, I have good news. The committee has made proposals. The committee is suggesting how Parliament and all MPs can represent their constituents while respecting public health advice, and while recognizing that we are in the midst of a pandemic that has, regrettably, taken away so many lives.
That is my challenge to my colleagues in the Conservative Party. Let us figure out how this Parliament can work under these circumstances, with all MPs' privileges and duties able to be fulfilled. Spare me all the rhetoric. We agree that Parliament is an essential service. Let us get our work done and make sure we represent our constituents. The opposition parties have a role to play and the government has a role to play. Canadians will benefit from a fully functioning Parliament that respects the advice of public health officials.
View David Sweet Profile
View David Sweet Profile
2020-05-26 10:55 [p.2406]
Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech with great interest. He asked me to look my constituents in the eye and ask them whether they want Parliament to sit because of public health information. I am asking him what constituents he would like me to ask.
Would he like me to ask the individual at A&W who served me my burger the other day? How about the health care workers, police and firemen who are out there every day? How about the couple that runs the Home Hardware, where I was able to get a light switch the other day? How about the employees at Home Depot or Costco and all the other employees working in my constituency who expect me to adhere to my responsibilities, the oath that I made to Her Majesty the Queen, and represent them here in this House?
Those are the constituents I would ask. Who would he want me to ask who would actually say they do not want me here?
View Omar Alghabra Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Omar Alghabra Profile
2020-05-26 10:55 [p.2406]
Mr. Speaker, I regret there is selective hearing going on here. I am saying Parliament needs to go back to work, but we should ask those brave workers my colleague is talking about if they have adjusted how they do their work. Have they made changes to how they conduct their duty?
He is suggesting having only a small number of us here. What about the MPs who are not here? How will they fulfill their duties? How will they vote on behalf of their constituents? Does he not want to respect their privilege? Does he not want to respect his colleagues who are not able to be here, but who should still have a voice and still want to represent their constituents?
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-05-26 10:56 [p.2406]
Mr. Speaker, I came down this week because we have so much unfinished business, and we need to make sure our Parliament is focusing on the crisis at hand. Within a week of the COVID shutdown, we had millions of people across Canada who could not pay their rent. That is a shocking statistic for a nation like ours.
Yesterday I did not hear any questions from the Conservatives about how people can no longer afford to pay their rent. I heard them go on about Margaret Thatcher, the Soviet Union, the red Chinese menace and the mystical hand of the market, but I did not hear them speak at all about having to send the army into long-term care facilities, where so many seniors have died. I have not seen them act in a manner that treats this pandemic with the seriousness it needs.
When we have had to do something extraordinary such as move to committee of the whole, and I would normally be very suspicious of changing the orders of Parliament, it is to allow us to focus, ask questions, and go back to our constituents and say that we are taking this pandemic seriously in a way that will really drill down to get the answers Canadians deserve.
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