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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 150
No. 120


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.


Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]



Committees of the House

Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present today, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, in relation to its study on the protection of privacy and reputation on platforms such as Pornhub.
    I would like to thank the analysts and the clerk for their diligence and support to our committee during this horrific testimony and challenging report.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Women, Peace and Security

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2019-20 progress report on Canada's national action plan for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution on women, peace and security.

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8)(a), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 13 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

Committees of the House

Public Accounts  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following three reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: the 20th report, entitled “Access to Safe Drinking Water in First Nations Communities”; the 21st report, entitled “Follow-up Audit on Rail Safety”; and the 22nd report, entitled “Investing in Canada Plan”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to each of these three reports.

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, entitled “From Mineral Exploration to Advanced Manufacturing: Developing Value Chains for Critical Minerals in Canada”.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    I want to take the opportunity, as this will be the last opportunity to do this in this session, to thank my fellow committee members for their spirit of co-operation on a regular basis. I am proud to say we have a very good working relationship in our committee.
    I want to give particular thanks to the staff, who make the committee run so smoothly: the translators, our clerk, and in particular our analysts, who have the challenging task of distilling a whole lot of information on complicated issues from a variety of sources, MPs and witnesses alike. They do a remarkably great job, and I just want to acknowledge that.

Status of Women  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the following two reports of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.
    The 10th report is entitled “Eliminating Sexual Misconduct Within the Canadian Armed Forces”. Certainly, the disturbing testimony the committee heard from survivors shows that we have yet to hold people accountable at the highest levels. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to its 10th report.
    The 11th report is on supplementary estimates (A), 2021-22. The committee has considered the estimates referred by the House and reports the same.
    I want to thank our analysts, the clerk, all the translators and the committee members, who have worked so hard this session.

Public Safety and National Security  

     Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada”.
    Sometimes, committees actually do what they are uniquely able to do: receive evidence, hear witnesses, ask questions, minimize partisanship, work hard and produce a very useful report on one of Canada's premier institutions, the RCMP.
    While I have the floor, I want to thank our clerk and our analysts for the professional way in which they have navigated the committee through a series of chaotic events. They have brought order out of chaos.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.


    Mr. Speaker, Canada is one the most tolerant and welcoming countries on earth. Canada is rightfully known as a place that accepts and affirms the equal rights, freedoms, opportunities, security, dignity and sanctity of all people of all ethnicities, faiths, sexual orientations, backgrounds and personal identities. These are the values and aspirations of the vast majority of Canadians.
    Canada is not perfect. Racism and racists exist in Canada. Heinous crimes of murder and violent attacks involving race and religious-based hate have been carried out in Canada. Action must be taken to protect innocent, vulnerable Canadians and to enact consequences when racism has made it out in discrimination, violence, incitement of harm or criminal activity.
    Racism exists in recent and long-standing systemic legacies like residential schools and forced relocations. Racism can be found in institutional structures that fail to root out racist elements within their ranks. It would be wrong to describe the RCMP or all its individual officers and staff as inherently racist or holding racist beliefs, or to blame all societal challenges on one institution. It is also true that various failures to respond effectively to the needs and realities of indigenous and racialized communities have led to a lack of trust and can be tied to biased outcomes.
    These challenges must be met with practical policy changes that solve institutional problems. It is crucial that individuals face consequences for their actions. Defunding or arbitrarily dismantling institutions is not a solution, but is evidence of allowing frustration to triumph over real reform.
    Conservatives of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security believe that some of the recommendations of the main report fall short of compelling meaningful action, go beyond the scope of the study or serve ideological objectives that we cannot endorse.
    For those reasons, we are tabling a supplementary report that focuses on practical solutions.
    Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to present a supplementary opinion to the report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security entitled “Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada”.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay. Hearing none, it is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are coming to a greater understanding of the role that the RCMP and policing in general have and continue to play in perpetuating systemic racism against indigenous and Black communities. It has become unmistakably clear that the RCMP needs transformational change. It needs to evolve from a paramilitary national police force with a colonial legacy into a modern, bias-free national police service with civilian oversight and accountability.
    New Democrats fully support the recommendations laid out in the public safety committee's report on systemic racism in Canadian policing, but make the following additional recommendations.
    First, the depot in Regina should be closed. For generations, it has indoctrinated new recruits into the paramilitary culture and structure. It needs to be replaced with a national police college built from the ground up that provides professional education and training in de-escalation, implicit bias, gender-based violence, cultural awareness and the history of colonialism.
    Second, the government should consult with indigenous communities on whether they want a separate indigenous police college to provide training for indigenous police services rooted in cultural knowledge and history. The federal government should provide any required funding and resources for this.
    Third, the government should introduce measures to immediately and automatically expunge all criminal records of convictions and findings of guilt for the simple possession of small amounts of cannabis, which we know disproportionately burdens Black, indigenous and other racialized Canadians.
    Fourth, we should empower mental health professionals to be the first responders whenever possible, since for many the police embody the systemic racism that has permeated our system.
    While we fully support the recommendations in this report, the transformation that is needed will simply not be possible unless the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety take full responsibility for making that change happen with a whole-of-government approach.


    Mr. Speaker, I also ask for unanimous consent to give a supplementary opinion to the report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that was just tabled.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay. Hearing none, it is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    Hearing no dissenting voice, I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)


    Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to thank all the witnesses and groups who participated in this important study on discrimination by police forces. It is important to us that significant action be taken so that everyone can live in a society where they feel safe.
    We believe that Canada’s treatment of first nations and the Inuit is the epitome of a racist system that discriminates against first nations. Despite the progress society has made over time to address discrimination and racism, a number of recent tragedies remind us that we still have a long way to go before all people can live in a society free from discrimination based on race, gender, language or ethnicity. This report by the Standing Committee on Public Safety is one small step toward that goal.


Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Modernizing the Employment Insurance Program”.
    I would like to sincerely thank all members of the committee for their excellent work on this report and also congratulate and thank the team from the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament for their professionalism and patience in supporting the committee.


    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for unanimous consent of the House to give a short speech about the report that was just introduced.
    All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay. Hearing none, it is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.


Canada Post-Secondary Education Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, post-secondary education advances our social, cultural and economic well-being and determines our ability to innovate, respond to change and maintain a vibrant and stable democracy. Post-secondary educational excellence and accessibility are the single most important driver of a growing economy and a better Canada.
    Access to and the quality of our post-secondary institutions are being eroded due to the ever-increasing cost of tuition, the increased commercialization of everything from food services to research, and cutbacks to programs and other care services. Currently, federal support for post-secondary education is rolled into the Canada social transfer. This bill separates post-secondary education funding to provinces from other social transfer funding, creates a framework for post-secondary education funding, and ties that funding to meeting quality and accessibility standards, including limiting short-term, casual and contract academic labour and ensuring reasonable access for qualified persons regardless of their ability to pay.
    Since I was elected to represent Edmonton Strathcona, a riding with so many incredible post-secondary institutions, I have been fighting for students, professors, researchers and everyone who recognizes the incomparable value of quality, accessible post-secondary education in our country. This bill is the next step in that fight.

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


    I just want to say that we have quite a number of private members' bills, and one of the key requests is that it be succinct. I just want to point that out before we continue.

Banning Symbols of Hate Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, my thanks are to Nick Milanovic, Isabelle D’Souza and Mark Rowlinson for their expert help on this bill. My thoughts today are with the Afzaal family, victims of a hate killing last week in London, Ontario. I thank the member for London—Fanshawe for seconding this bill.
     We have seen, tragically, a marked increase in hate in our society: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny. We see racism against Black and indigenous people and rising anti-Asian racism, yet the symbols of hate are freely displayed and freely sold across our country.
    It is time to ban these symbols of hate by amending our Criminal Code. This is what this important bill does. It makes it a criminal offence to display or sell reprehensible hate symbols, like the Nazi flag, freely sold in Canada, which is a disgusting symbol of genocidal hatred, anti-Semitism and racism. There should be no place for such flags and emblems representing hate in Canada. They should not be sold. They should not be displayed.
    It is time to stop being soft on hate. I hope all MPs will support the bill, the banning symbols of hate act, for speedy passage.

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

Ukrainian Heritage Month Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to introduce a bill entitled, an act respecting Ukrainian heritage month.
    If passed, the bill would designate the month of September, every year, as Ukrainian heritage month across Canada. I would like to thank the MP for Etobicoke—Lakeshore for seconding the bill. I hope that all MPs in the House will support the bill.
    The first Ukrainian immigrants, Vasyl Eleniak and Ivan Pylypiw, arrived in Canada on September 7, 1891, almost 130 years ago. Ukrainian immigrants began arriving in Canada in larger numbers in the years that followed.
    Today, Canada is home to more than 1.3 million Ukrainian Canadians. Ukrainian Canadians have left and continue to leave a historic mark on our country. Their contributions span communities across Canada, and are reflected in our economic, political, social and cultural life. Canada has welcomed and supported the Ukrainian Canadian community in many ways. Canada was the first western nation to recognize Ukraine's independence in 1991. Canada has recognized that the Holodomor was a genocide. Canada has opposed and continues to oppose Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and continues to support Ukraine in its fight for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
    Ukrainian heritage month would provide a special opportunity to celebrate with Canadians of all backgrounds our Ukrainian heritage, the role that Canada has played in welcoming generations of Ukrainians and supporting Ukrainian Canadians, and the significant contributions of Ukrainian Canadians to our political, economic, social and cultural life across Canada.

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


Canada-Taiwan Relations Framework Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to introduce the Canada-Taiwan relations framework act.
    Canada does not have a formal relationship with Taiwan and that complicates our interactions. As such, the legislation seeks to establish an orderly mechanism by which to conduct relations by establishing a framework for strengthening Canada-Taiwan relations, including in respect of economic, cultural and legal affairs.
    Taiwan is one of Canada's largest trading partners. We have strong people-to-people links and share common values. It is a vibrant democracy and one of the world's top 20 economies. It is time that Canada's relations with Taiwan reflect the reality that Taiwan is today. This legislation is an important step towards that.

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

Addressing the Continuing Victimization of Homicide Victims’ Families Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House and introduce my private member's bill, McCann's law. In 2010, Lyle and Marie McCann of St. Albert, Alberta, left their home on a trip to British Columbia. Shortly after their departure, they were murdered, although their remains have never been found. With a body of overwhelming evidence, their killer was found and convicted of manslaughter. He is eligible for parole this year, despite never having admitted to his crime, nor providing the family of the victims the closure of knowing the whereabouts of their loved ones. The fact that a killer can walk free on our streets while a family is denied the closure of a funeral is an injustice.
     Bret McCann, the son of Lyle and Marie McCann had this to say: “By withholding where he left their bodies, [my parents' killer] is able to continuously revictimize our family. And without a proper funeral and memorial, our family is unable to fully grieve and reach a measure of closure.”
    This legislation would correct that injustice by introducing new consequences at sentencing and parole hearings for refusing to provide material evidence on the location of victims' remains. This will give the authorities the tools and discretion to introduce justice for families of victims. It is time to put the rights of victims and their families, not criminals, first.

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


Forestry Industry  

    Mr. Speaker, on Vancouver Island, people are very concerned about the loss of endangered, old-growth ecosystems. In British Columbia, we are down to the last 3% of these magnificent forests.
    The petitioners call on the federal government to work with the province and first nations to immediately halt the logging of endangered old-growth ecosystems; fund the long-term protection of old-growth ecosystems as a priority for Canada's climate action plan and reconciliation with indigenous peoples; support value-added forestry initiatives in partnership with first nations to ensure Canada's forest industry is sustainable and based on the harvesting of second and third growth forests, something that many petitioners agree with; ban the export of raw logs and maximize resource use for local jobs; and ban the use of whole trees for wood pellet biofuel production.
    Once again, I want to remind the hon. members to be as concise as possible.
    Presenting petitions, the hon. member for Red Deer—Lacombe.


Travel Advisers  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present three petitions to the House on behalf of more than 24,000 independent travel advisers, 12,000 of whom are sole proprietors and the majority of whom are women who were most impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. They lost incomes that they earned the year prior to COVID. They have lost their incomes for the year during COVID, and they will likely lose numerous amounts of income as our economy slowly begins to reopen.
    They ask for programs from the Government of Canada to recognize these realities and make sure that they are compensated fairly and adequately, unlike the programs that have been provided so far.

Consumer Protection  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of my Yellowhead constituents who are concerned about fraudulent charges by cable companies. They are calling on the government to form a government body separate from cable companies to investigate consumer complaints; have a system in place for consumers to take their concerns to that is not affiliated with the cable companies; and stop the cable companies' monopoly on charges and fees that they cannot prove the consumers ordered and have them accept responsibility for fraudulent charges on consumer accounts or billing errors by their own administration or a third party.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition that calls upon the government to recognize the inadequacies of its response to the Government of Israel's multiple violations of international law and of Palestinians' human rights, including forced evictions, settlement buildings, unequal treatment, a tax on journalists, the bombing of humanitarian and medical facilities, and the killing of civilians.
    The petitioners call on the government to demand that the Government of Israel end evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and the West Bank, end apartheid on the Palestinian people, and implement a fair government and system for all people within its jurisdictions.
    The petitioners also call on the government to apply to Israel the same diplomatic tools that Canada has used in condemning activities in the Xinjiang autonomous region and in sanctioning Russian officials involved in the annexation of Crimea.


Governor General  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition on behalf of nearly 8,000 petitioners who are calling on the Government of Canada to immediately amend the Governor General’s Act so that only governors general who have held office for a minimum of five years are eligible for a pension and to withdraw the lifetime pension and hospitality budget of any former governor general who has not held office for at least five consecutive years.
    This petition is tabled on behalf of all of the workers who leave their jobs and are not entitled to employment insurance.


COVID-19 Emergency Response  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to table a petition from small business owners from Vancouver Island. They say that during the pandemic their revenues were catastrophically impacted as a result of closures, capacity limits and social restrictions. They cite the importance of the wage subsidy, the rent assistance program, the Canadian emergency business account and the highly affected sectors credit availability programs as critical to saving jobs, but many of these businesses have remained ineligible.
    The petitioners are calling on the government to adjust eligibility for these programs to include owners of both new and newly expanded businesses who can demonstrate that their project was non-reversible at the outset of the pandemic, to implement an alternative method for determining the wage subsidy and rent program rates for these businesses, and to back pay them to March 15, 2020, for both the wage subsidy and rent program, so that these businesses can survive.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]


Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Censure of the Minister of National Defence  

     That, given that the Minister of National Defence has clearly lost the respect of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, including those at the highest ranks, for, amongst other things,
(i) misleading Canadians on the withdrawal of fighter jets in the fight against ISIS,
(ii) misleading Canadians about his service record,
(iii) presiding over the wrongful accusation and dismissal of Vice-Admiral Norman,
(iv) engaging in a cover-up of sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian Armed Forces,
the House formally censure the Minister of National Defence to express the disappointment of the House of Commons in his conduct.
    Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, 2021, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of supply bills. In view of recent practices, do the hon. members agree that the bill be distributed now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


     Mr. Speaker, I hope this is the final time I will have to address the House virtually. I look forward to being in Ottawa next week and hope very much that we will be back to normal sessions come the fall.
    I will be splitting my time with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.
    I just have to say that this is a rare measure that we are requesting of all members of the House of Commons to censure the Minister of National Defence. The last time anyone was censured in the House was back in 2002, and it has come to this point, because the Minister of National Defence has refused to do the honourable thing and resign, and the Prime Minister has refused to do the right thing and fire the Minister of National Defence. Essentially, that leaves it up to us in the House of Commons to censure the minister going forward, until the voters of Vancouver South have an opportunity to express their displeasure in the upcoming federal election.
    I also just want to say to the Speaker, who has stepped into the chair, knowing that he has announced that he will not be running in the next federal election, how much I have appreciated his strength in the chair and his friendship over the years as we served together. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours, enjoying more time with his family.
    When we look at this motion, we have to look at the litany of misleading comments made by the Minister of National Defence over his tenure since 2015. I think all of us are all too familiar with the travesty of the wrongful accusations and the decision by the minister to go on a witch hunt to stop the procurement of the Asterix for the Royal Canadian Navy, and how he threw retired Vice-Admiral Mark Norman under the bus. We know that through 2017 and into 2018, this escalated to a ridiculous level and ended up in the courts. The case, of course, was thrown out by the judge, because there just was not any evidence for it. It was an unnecessary attack on the honourable service and great reputation of a strong military leader, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman.
    However, we have to go back to the very beginning of the minister's tenure and look at what happened with his politically motivated withdrawal of our CF-18s from the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The minister was over there meeting with the Government of Iraq, as well as Kurdish officials in Erbil, and he told CBC on December 21, 2015, that he had not had one discussion about withdrawing our CF-18s from the fight. However, an access to information request on the record of a wire message in reference to the Minister of National Defence's meeting with the Iraqi minister of defence on December 20, 2015, just the day before he made that statement, says, “the Iraqi Minister of Defence was clearly focused on Canada's decision to withdraw its CF18 fighter jets from the coalition air strikes, asking [our Minister of National Defence] to reconsider this decision on numerous occasions”. That was the very first step in the minister's very misleading comments to the media and to Canadians.
    We should not be surprised, because we also know that the minister, back in July 2015 when he was running to be a member of Parliament for the first time, claimed on a local B.C. program, Conversations That Matter, that he was the architect of Operation Medusa in Afghanistan. He reiterated that in April 2017, when he was at a conference in New Delhi on conflict prevention and peace keeping in a changing world. He again said that he was the architect of Operation Medusa.


    Of course, he was a major back then and had numerous members in the command chain above him who were making the decisions, and there is no doubt that he provided great input and intelligence into how Operation Medusa was conducted, but to claim that he was more than the team is something that is not well regarded within the Canadian Armed Forces or by veterans across this country, and the minister had to apologize.
    We also saw the minister take a shot at me back in 2017 over the cuts to tax-free allowances for forces members serving in Operation Impact while stationed in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan at that time. He claimed that it was the Conservative government that had taken away the tax-free allowance. I was able to get up on a question of privilege to point out that the initial assessments were made under the current Liberal government, and those cuts were made by this minister to hardship pay that was in effect back in 2014-15. Again, there was a finding that he misled the House.
    Now, the most egregious of all of this, and the one that is really rocking our Canadian Armed Forces right now, is, of course, the crisis of sexual misconduct. I will point out and ask the question: What do the Somalia affair, the decade of darkness and the crisis of sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces today have in common? It all comes down to weak Liberal leadership.
    We know that when the news broke that retired General Jonathan Vance, the former chief of the defence staff, had issues of sexual misconduct raised in March 2018, the Minister of National Defence said at committee on February 19 of this year that he was “as shocked as everyone else at the allegations that were made public two weeks ago”. He was surprised to learn about these allegations, but then at the defence committee on March 3, 2021, the former ombudsman for national defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, Gary Walbourne, said at committee that “I personally met with [the minister] to address an allegation of inappropriate sexual behaviour within the senior ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces, specifically, against the chief of the defence staff, and to discuss my concerns about this allegation. This meeting happened on March 1, 2018.” That was three years before the story became news, when the minister was briefed by Gary Walbourne.
    Gary Walbourne went on to say at committee that:
    I did tell the minister what the allegation was. I reached into my pocket to show him the evidence I was holding, and he pushed back from the table and said, “No.” I don't think we exchanged another word.
    The minister refused the evidence, and we know that, at the defence committee on March 12, 2021, he then admitted, “I did meet with Mr. Walbourne”. The ombudsman brought up the concerns, but “He did not give me any details”, is what the minister was claiming. Yet, if we look at all of the information that flowed between the minister's chief of staff, Zita Astravas at the time, up into the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office on March 2, 2018, it all talked about this being a matter of sexual misconduct, which they actually described as “sexual harassment”. Elder Marques, Michael Wernick and Katie Telford, the chief of staff to the Prime Minister, all knew that this was an issue of sexual misconduct.
    Therefore, as the minister continues to dodge this and refuses to do the honourable thing and resign, and as long as the Prime Minister continues to back this inept behaviour by the Minister of National Defence and refuses to fire him, it falls upon us as the House of Commons to censure this minister since he has consistently and repeatedly misled the House.
    I call upon all members of the House of Commons in all parties to censure this minister for his continued casual relationship with the truth.


    Mr. Speaker, personally, I find it somewhat disgraceful that the opposition Conservative Party would bring a motion of character assassination against someone who I would suggest is a hero.
    I will give a specific quote and ask the member to provide his thoughts. Brigadier-General David Fraser, who was in charge of NATO's regional command in south Afghanistan in 2006, said that—
    I will just interrupt the hon. parliamentary secretary momentarily. I just wonder if he could move his microphone out slightly from his mouth. We are getting a lot of popping noise and so on, on the audio.
    While I am at it, I will ask the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman when he comes back for his response to the parliamentary secretary's question, to do the same, to just move the microphone. We will cover both of those off at this time.
    Let us go back to the hon. parliamentary secretary to finish his question.
    Mr. Speaker, my apologies to our interpreters.
    I want to give a specific quote from Brigadier General David Fraser, who was in charge of NATO's regional command in south Afghanistan in 2006. He wrote:
    I must say that Major Sajjan is one of the most remarkable people I have worked with, and his contribution to the success of the mission and the safety of Canadian soldiers was nothing short of remarkable.
    Further, it goes on to say:
    I rate him as one of the best intelligence officers I have ever worked with—fearless, smart, and personable, and I would not hesitate to have him on my staff at any time in the future.
    This is an incredible individual. Why are the Conservatives continuing their attack on character assassination of such individuals who have a proven record, as this minister has?
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg North knows that I am not attacking the minister's service in uniform. As I said in my speech, he had an incredible service, including in Operation Medusa and the intelligence that he collected.
    What we are talking about is his lack of action and lack of leadership as the Minister of National Defence over the past six years while he has been in the job. Due to his lack of leadership, because he set such a low bar, leading by example, we have a crisis today with so many of our leaders in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are on our seventh vice-chief of defence staff because of the inept behaviour of the minister over the last six years, and two chiefs of the defence staff who are being investigated for sexual misconduct. This is a direct reflection of the leadership of this minister. That is why he has to go or we have to censure him.


    Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to acknowledge the farewell speech you gave on Tuesday and to tell you that I hope I will still have the chance to work with you on the all-party caucus on the environment until 2023.
    That being said, the minister is being criticized for a lot of things, but with regard to the allegations of sexual misconduct against General Vance, he said that the nature of the accusations was not really important and what mattered was the action that was being taken.
    However, in 2015, the Deschamps report did recommend actions but when Ms. Deschamps testified in 2021, she said that very little had been done.
    In my colleague's view, did the Liberals not deliberately turn a blind eye in this file on allegations of sexual misconduct?



    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member wholeheartedly. The most egregious thing that has happened under the leadership of this Minister of National Defence is that he has failed to move to protect the women and men who serve in uniform. Therefore, we have this crisis of sexual misconduct. The minister sat for six years on Justice Deschamps' report on how to stomp out sexual misconduct. The minister continues to kick the can down the road. He dithers and delays in making any future decisions on how we are to go about stomping out sexual misconduct.
    That is why we Conservatives have said that we need to have an independent investigation now. We need to freeze all promotions and salary increases until we figure out a way forward and ensure that there is more representation by women and under-represented minorities within the leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces.
    Mr. Speaker, would the Conservatives agree with me that an intelligence officer who worked with local Afghan authorities in a leadership role, as was claimed by the Minister of National Defence during his tours in the field, should have known about the alleged torture of prisoners transferred to the Afghan authorities?
    Mr. Speaker, the minister has consistently denied having any knowledge of that. We are questioning whether he has been misleading Canadians on sexual misconduct and concerning fighter jets and procurement of supply ships, so I guess it is reasonable to also question whether he was aware of what was happening during the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan.
    It comes down to the nature and conduct of this minister, which is unbecoming of a parliamentarian, a veteran, as well as a Minister of National Defence. That is why we need to censure him.


    Mr. Speaker, I take no pleasure in rising in the House today. First, I must mention that the Minister of National Defence and I have something in common: We each served honourably in the Canadian Forces for over twenty years. We both rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and commanded infantry units. These are the things we have in common. The minister served our country particularly well in the various missions he participated in around the world. I thank him for his service.
    However, on October 19, 2015, in the federal election, we chose two different paths. I chose to run as a Conservative Party candidate, while the Minister of National Defence chose to run for the Liberal Party.
    Let me remind members what the Liberal Party represents for the Canadian Forces. Let us recall the 10 years of darkness of the Chrétien era, marked by the purchase of used submarines and the cancellation of helicopter contracts, a time when our soldiers did not even have combat boots. That is the path and the party that the minister chose.
    From that day on, he and I were no longer soldiers. We were now former military members who had become members of Parliament in the House of Commons, a political office. That is when the minister's problems began.
    The first step was in 2015. During the election campaign, a tragedy struck hearts around the world. The body of a little boy washed up on a beach in Italy. He was a Syrian refugee trying to flee Syria, which was under the grip of ISIS. Many refugees were seeking asylum. The Liberals opened up many new spots, and we were all for that. We needed to do something to help those refugees.
    However, our country was also engaged in combat. Our armed forces and our air force were in Iraq and Syria fighting the enemy, ISIS. What did this government decide to do when it took office? It pulled our CF-18s out of the bombing campaign against ISIS. It stopped fighting the enemy, the enemy that caused the little boy to wash up on the beach and the Syrian refugees to flee in search of asylum. We could never understand that.
    When we say that the minister is hiding the truth or misleading Canadians, we are talking about decisions. When we questioned him at length about the reasons behind the decision to pull our CF-18s out, the minister said that Iraq had agreed to it. Later, in an interview with an Iraqi minister, we learned that that was not true. Iraq was very disappointed with Canada's decision.
    The next step was a pivotal point in the career of a very talented military member, Vice-Admiral Norman, who was commander of the Royal Canadian Navy at the time. When he heard that the incoming Liberal government wanted to cancel the Asterix contract that had been awarded by the Conservative government, that was the last straw. Vice-Admiral Norman, a man who worked for his troops, the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, knew full well that the Conservative government decision to award the Asterix contract to Davie shipyard was the best solution to fix the problems in the navy.
    We knew that the first decision of the Prime Minister and cabinet was to do everything in their power to cancel that contract. Vice-Admiral Norman did everything he could to prevent that from happening, and he paid the political price with his career. All he wanted to do was give the Royal Canadian Navy the tools it needed to do its job properly.
    What did the Minister of National Defence do to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces were operating effectively around the world? That is the duty of a defence minister. It is about ensuring that his troops have the necessary tools to do their job. Instead, the minister contributed to the problem. He helped ensure that Vice-Admiral Norman became persona non grata. He ended up facing serious charges and the RCMP landed on his doorstep. It is appalling.


    This man was expected to be the next chief of the defence staff. He was going to be the commander of the Canadian Armed Forces. Instead, he was forced to retire. The government made sure of that by paying Vice-Admiral Norman's legal costs, which remain secret, so that he would just retire and stay quiet and so the whole thing would go away.
    Is that the leadership we expect from a minister? Do we expect the minister to always say yes to the Prime Minister's nefarious decisions? A minister must be able to stand up and say that something will not work, that we cannot do that. However, the minister said nothing.
    In 2018, the Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman went to the office of the Minister of National Defence to tell him that there was a problem with the chief of the defence staff, General Vance. What did the minister do? He told the ombudsman that he did not want to know about it. The ombudsman was completely taken aback.
    The Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman told the minister that a victim had made allegations of sexual misconduct against the chief of the defence staff and that these allegations were not about 30-year-old incidents or incidents involving one too many beers, but were rather very serious allegations about recent incidents. What did the minister do? He did nothing. We learned about this three years later. We just learned about it.
    In 2018, during his tenure, the minister chose to hide the information. It gets worse. When the Conservatives were in power, they commissioned a report from Justice Marie Deschamps. She presented her report in 2015, in which she described attitude problems and sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. What did the Minister of National Defence do with that report? Absolutely nothing.
    The full report contained 10 recommendations that the minister could have implemented. He had access to all of the resources and tools he needed to protect women in the Canadian Armed Forces. He could have instituted a process to streamline complaints. That was not done, and we do not know why. We are asking questions, but we will never know.
    Why were Justice Deschamps' recommendations never implemented? Was it because, again, the report had been commissioned by the Conservatives? Was it because people did not want these recommendations to be implemented? Was it because people did not want anyone to know? We have no idea.
    When all these problems are added together, the situation looks very serious. The Canadian Armed Forces are in turmoil. The head of the armed forces, the former chief of defence staff, is under investigation. The new chief of defence staff, who was in the position for one month, is under investigation. Generals are stepping down. Discipline and sound operations management within the Canadian Forces are evaporating. The soldiers and officers have no one to lead them. What is going on?
    On top of that, there is the case of Major-General Dany Fortin, a man I have known for a long time, a great soldier. He was put in charge of Canada's vaccine rollout, and he did an outstanding job. However, a complaint was filed against him. We do not know when or where it came from. Major-General Fortin was not informed of it. The decision was made to push him aside. The story went public, and he ended up getting all sorts of negative attention from the media, the public and the government without knowing what was happening or why. Today, this man is being forced to take legal action against the government and the Prime Minister to defend his reputation. Is that any way to treat the best members of the Canadian Armed Forces?
    Major-General Dany Fortin was brought in, in a public way, to help the country get out of the COVID-19 crisis, and how was he treated? He was not informed or even given a chance to explain a situation that may not even be true. We do not know. That is how the defence minister and this government operate, and that is why we can no longer trust the Minister of National Defence.
    I would like to remind the House that this has nothing to do with the soldier that the minister used to be. He served his country with distinction. However, he became a member of Parliament and a minister on October 19, 2015, and it has been a catastrophe ever since.


    Mr. Speaker, having also served our country, I too want to thank my colleague for his service in the Canadian Armed Forces, and the minister. We are more or less on the same wavelength when it comes to understanding the issues raised in today's motion.
    I would like to ask my colleague about Vice-Admiral Norman, who, as we all know, was tasked by the Conservative government, specifically Minister MacKay, at the time, to manage the Davie project. That matter was the subject of an investigation. The mandate was given in 2015, and the Norman affair blew up in 2017. It took the Conservatives about two years to react because they themselves knew that they had given him a legitimate mandate through Parliament, where we now sit. I would like to know the reason behind the two years of silence on the matter.
    Regarding sexual misconduct, the Deschamps report was tabled in 2015, and various committees, including the Standing Committee on National Defence, studied it.
    Why did the government not institute mechanisms to bring about positive change and transformation, instead of imputing motives?
    That could have fixed the problem.
    The other issue was the withdrawal of the CF-18s. The Canadian Armed Forced succeeded in liberating Mosul anyway. I knew that, and so did the Conservatives, so which is it? A success or a failure?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for all his questions. I will take the time to answer at least one or two of them.
    With respect to Vice-Admiral Norman, it all started in 2014 and 2015, and we started debating it in 2017. Why was nothing done in the meantime? Because we only learned of the problem on the day the information got out. Ever since that time, we have been asking questions about this matter. We did not wait two years to do so, quite the contrary. As is the case with many files, we could not know everything there was to know. The Liberals have been in government since 2015. Therefore, we did not know any more about it than my colleague, since we did not have access to the documents and communications. As soon as we learned of the matter, we started asking questions.
    Regarding the Deschamps report, we will never understand why the government did not implement Marie Deschamps' recommendations as soon as it took office. If it had, things might be different today.


    Mr. Speaker, what I find a bit rich is the degree to which the Conservative opposition party is trying to make this issue about General Vance. In 2015, the current leader of the official opposition was made aware of the rumour. It was serious enough that he asked his staff to notify the Prime Minister's chief of staff, who then took the matter to the Privy Council Office for review.
    Does the member not see any hypocrisy here? Why did the Conservative Party fail so many years ago on one of the same issues that it is trying to hold this government to account for? There seems to be a lot of hypocrisy there.



    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    The minister was appointed on November 4, 2015. He is the one who made all the wrong decisions or who covered up all the decisions that were made and that I mentioned in my speech. I think there are enough of them for members to understand that the minister no longer deserves to remain in cabinet. Had Vice-Admiral Norman not suffered the fate the government had in store for him, he might have taken over from General Vance in 2018, and there would not have been all these problems with sexual misconduct and all the other issues with this file, not to mention the lack of strength we are seeing in the Canadian Forces.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. I have a very simple question for him.
    The Liberals and the Liberal government are very good at accusing the opposition of delaying the proceedings and making Parliament dysfunctional. I would like him to comment on the Liberals' filibustering at the Standing Committee on National Defence to try to protect their defence minister, who no longer deserves to be in his position. Sometimes the Liberals are the ones filibustering.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    Yes, there was some filibustering at the Standing Committee on National Defence, in a bid to cover up what happened, once again. Who are the victims in all that? The victims are the women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who are once again looking at the Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister and wondering whether these men deserve their loyalty. The main challenge facing the Canadian Armed Forces is trust in their leader. There is no trust at the moment, and that is the biggest problem.


    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the motion the Leader of the Opposition has put forward. He presents this motion in an attempt to wage personal and partisan attacks rather than focusing on our members who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. He is a veteran. I am a veteran, and I expect better.
    I will not, and I repeat, will not gloss over the fact the defence team is going through a very difficult time right now, particularly those who are survivors of sexual harassment, assault and abuse of power. As the largest and most diverse employer in Canada, the defence team is a microcosm of our Canadian society. We see the same problems reflected in our organizations that we see play out in other areas of our society.
    We have had to reckon with inequality, systemic racism, sexual misconduct and abuse of power. It is uncomfortable. It is painful, and it is inconsistent with our ideals as Canadians and as human beings.
    The experiences we have heard over the past few months from those who have experienced sexual harassment and assault in the Canadian Armed Forces is appalling. To every member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and to every person in the Department of National Defence who has been affected by sexual harassment and violence, I am truly sorry. Whether it was recently, 10 years ago, 20 years ago or 30 years ago, we were not there to support them.
    As somebody who has put on the uniform, I know the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence need to do better. We all need to do better. I know our current reporting systems are not enough. Too often, people do not feel able to report misconduct our of fear of reprisal and retribution. This has to change, and this will change.
    It is why I asked Madam Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court justice, to lead an independent external comprehensive review of our institutional policies and culture. Over the coming months, we expect Madam Arbour to provide concrete recommendations on how the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence can set up an independent external reporting system for defence team members that meets the needs of those who have been impacted by sexual misconduct.
    We know we have a lot more to do to regain our members' trust. We are committed to making a lasting change, one that sheds the toxic and outdated values, practices and policies that harmed our people.
    This motion from the Leader of the Opposition is not about supporting our members. In fact, the opposition had the opportunity time and time again in this very Parliament to be part of the solution. Instead, opposition members have consistently chosen to obstruct the progress.
    In the past weeks, the Leader of the Opposition and his party voted against almost a quarter of a billion dollars to help eliminate sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces in budget 2021. They voted against supporting peer-to-peer services. They voted against increasing access to the sexual misconduct response centre for members of the Canadian Armed Forces. In fact, the leader of the official opposition and his party voted against our commitment to implement new external oversight mechanisms to bring greater independence to the processes of reporting and adjudicating sexual misconduct within the military.
    This is staggering hypocrisy from the Leader of the Opposition and the Conservative Party, which should not be unexpected from the Conservatives. They have done this at every turn. If the Conservatives want to talk about fighter jets, let us talk about the Conservative record on fighter jets.
    After years of cuts from the Conservatives, our air force could not generate enough aircraft to answer our NATO and NORAD commitments at the same time. We are committed to procuring 88 advanced fighter jets to show our friends and allies we will be there for them when we are called upon, and we have stepped up. How they chose the number of 65, I do not know, but I am going to guess they needed to cut. They needed to balance their budget.


    When it comes to our contribution in the fight against Daesh, our work alongside our coalition partners has reached success. I will not be apologetic for our government's stance and the operations we have conducted with our allies. By increasing our ground presence, along with that of our partners and allies, the coalitions worked to reduce Daesh's territorial control by over 98% on the ground.
    When the Conservatives sat back, Liberals stepped forward. We worked with the U.S., NATO, regional partners and allies to increase peace and stability in the region. Just a few months ago, we announced that we would extend our work in the Middle East by deploying up to 850 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to support the global coalition, the NATO mission in Iraq and capacity-building activities in Jordan and Lebanon because we know this is a regional issue. Canada will remain a reliable partner in multinational operations around the world.
    If the Leader of the Opposition wants to claim a cover-up, he should look no further than himself. We want to talk about preventing things from happening. We learned from media reports that the leader of the official opposition himself was aware of allegations of sexual misconduct regarding General Vance prior to his appointment as chief of the defence staff, an allegation from the general's time in Gagetown, as it was reported. It was an allegation that the leader of the official opposition said that he had investigated.
     The former national security advisor, Richard Fadden, said to a parliamentary committee that this is not true. Let me quote Mr. Fadden. Speaking of when General Vance was stationed in Naples, he said, “I did a bit of an inquiry into what was happening with a lady who subsequently became his wife. That was the extent of the involvement.”
    After this non-investigation, it seems that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service received political pressure to stop its investigation into Vance, an investigation that just happen to end right before his swearing in as chief of the defence staff under the Conservative government.
    The Leader of the Opposition continues to say that he passed along sexual misconduct allegations by General Vance in July 15. He continues to claim that those were looked into, despite evidence to the contrary. I ask this House, how can the Leader of the Opposition's story be credible if General Vance was appointed after no investigation of the knowledge that the leader had? Almost immediately after the allegations were made, pressure was brought to bear and the investigation was suddenly dropped.
    Unlike the Conservatives, I know how important our people in the Canadian Armed Forces are. That is why they are at the very centre of our defence policy. Chapter number one states that.
    Women are working tirelessly to create a culture of dignity, respect and inclusion for all members, to ensure that the organization is truly as diverse as the Canada it serves, and to be the employer of choice for Canadians of every background, not just for the few that some members want. Our defence policy, “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, commits to promoting diversity and inclusion as core institutional values.
    We have taken a number of steps to increase representation of women and other unrepresented populations at all levels of the organization. Right now, Lieutenant-General Carignan is the chief of professional conduct and culture at the organization. She and her team will unify and coordinate the ongoing and evolving efforts to create positive and lasting change across the defence team.
    At NATO's Allied Joint Forces Command Naples, we have Lieutenant-General Joe Paul, a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation as deputy command. While he is there, he will help to prepare, plan and conduct military operations in order to preserve the peace, security, and territorial integrity of all NATO alliance members. This sends a powerful message to the indigenous community of our alliance.
    Over the coming weeks, Lieutenant-General Fran Allen will become Canada's first female vice-chief of the defence staff. All these members are deserving of these important roles, and they help build a senior leadership that is more representative of the Canadians they serve each and every day.
    We have also integrated gender-based analysis plus across all our policies, programs and services to remove barriers to inclusion and better support our personnel. We are addressing all forms of hateful conduct in our organizations with anti-racism and anti-harassment efforts. This is why last year I created an advisory panel on systemic racism and discrimination with Captain Door Gibson, Sergeant Derek Montour, Major Sandra Perron and Major-General Ed Fitch, who are all retired.


    They have lived experiences of facing discrimination, anti-Semitism and anti-indigenous prejudice, and they are working to help build a Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence that are more welcoming and inclusive for our members. Their recommendations will make sure that people within the military, including instructors, are better supported and free from discrimination, racism and harmful behaviour, whether they are women; Black, indigenous and people of colour; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, two-spirited, LGBTQ members of the community; or part of a religious minority.
    Along with the anti-racism secretariat, this work will help the defence team eliminate all forms of racism, prejudice, bias, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and white supremacy from within our organization.
    Where the previous government did little to improve things for those who wear the uniform, and removed the training, the sharp training that was there, we have taken action. In 2019, we received royal assent for Bill C-77, historic legislation to evolve the military justice system by aligning it with the civilian justice system in important ways, while remaining responsive to the unique needs of our Canadian Armed Forces. The act enshrines victims' rights into the code of service discipline. We are working with our members so the regulations for that bill meet the needs of the survivors, rather than the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.
    Earlier this month, we tabled a third independent review of the National Defence Act by former Supreme Court justice Morris Fish. This is one of the most comprehensive independent reviews of the military justice system in a decade. Justice Fish's recommendations provide one of the largest overhauls of the National Defence Act and the Canadian military justice system in recent memory.
    I have accepted the 107 recommendations in principle. As we speak, we have already begun to implement 36 of those recommendations to further improve the military justice system to bring greater confidence to our members, who wear the maple leaf on their shoulder.
    All this work is in addition to the independent external comprehensive review that former Justice Louise Arbour is leading to help us build on and refine our efforts to address and prevent sexual misconduct in our organizations. Over the coming months, Madam Arbour will provide concrete recommendations for how the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence could set up an independent external reporting system for defence team members that meets the needs of those who have been impacted by sexual misconduct.
    This system needs to be focused on those who have been impacted by misconduct, be responsive to their needs and be outside the chain of command and the Department of National Defence. Any less cannot be accepted, and any less will not be accepted.
    Madam Arbour and her team will provide significant direction on how we must evolve to support affected people, and how we can ensure that every incident is handled appropriately. Part of this work also includes looking into the current structures in the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence and the sexual misconduct response centre to see how we could strengthen them to provide greater confidence to those who need support.
    We will also examine the performance evaluation promotion system in the Canadian Armed Forces with a focus on how leaders are selected and trained. This review will also look at the military justice system's policies, procedures and practices to see how we could make this system more responsive to the needs of those who have experienced misconduct while holding perpetrators accountable. As Madam Arbour does this important work, she will be able to provide interim recommendations to the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence, and we commit to acting upon it immediately.
     As we continue our work with the defence team, we have created a new organization of professional conduct and culture under the leadership of its chief, General Carignan. This will be responsible for carrying out and creating the conditions for cultural transformation by unifying, integrating, and coordinating the ongoing efforts across the Department of National Defence.
    Their goal is to ensure that our actions and behaviour reflect the very best parts of our organizations of Canadian society. Their efforts will closely align with the work being carried out by the external review and will be informed by best practices, as well as experts, advocates and those who have lived experiences, inside and outside our institutions, at all levels.
     We are dedicated to creating lasting cultural change across the defence team, change that is enduring and that meets the needs of those who have experienced sexual harassment and violence. The motion that the Leader of the Opposition has put forward does nothing to help those in the Canadian Armed Forces. It is more focused on personal attacks and petty games, something that I have unfortunately been far too accustomed to. That is okay.


    It is disappointing, though, but it comes as no surprise from a party that is focused more on fanning the flames of division, a party that refused to acknowledge structural racism, like the Leader of the Opposition did in September of last year, or in the midst of a pandemic when Dr. Theresa Tam, who is Canada's chief public health officer, had her loyalty to our country questioned, because of her name and the colour of her skin, by a Conservative MP. It is a party that voted against a motion to condemn Islamophobia.
    The Leader of the Opposition based his entire leadership campaign around the slogan “Take Back Canada”. From whom?
    This motion is below the dignity of the House, but it is clear that is exactly the type of divisive and dog-whistle politics on which the Conservative opposition depends.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to explain why he has always said that politicians should not get involved in the complaint against General Vance, when he personally handled Major-General Fortin's case.


    Mr. Speaker, I will be very clear on this. No politician should ever be involved in or interfere with any investigation. I know this as a former police officer. Never once did I interfere in an investigation. The decisions that are made when it comes to the personnel within the Canadian Armed Forces are made by the chief of the defence staff, and in this case the acting chief of the defence staff.


    Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the minister, and I will get right to the point. I understand that he might be feeling bitter about being the subject of a Conservative motion, since the Conservatives are the ones who made all kinds of cuts to defence and veterans affairs.
    However, the point of today's motion does not seem to be a partisan one. The point seems to be to restore trust in the institution. A minister's job is to lead an institution, and although I am well aware that it is a thankless job, that means the minister must be beyond reproach. This is not the first time that there have been doubts about the minister's actions and words.
    I understand that the government is trying to remain in power and trigger an election to snuff out the scandal, just like it did last summer when it prorogued Parliament.
    However, with all due respect, does the minister not think that the best solution right now would be to step down from his position to restore trust in the institution? When there are too many doubts, they start to get in the way.



    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to serving our Canadian Armed Forces members, the women and men who have served, I have always been there to support them. Through the lived experience, I will never cut and run; I will always be there to support them.
    I was given the tremendous privilege of becoming Minister of National Defence. I fought to become the member of Parliament for Vancouver South, but I was given this privilege. From the lived experience, from day one, my focus has always been to serve our members. Even though I served and have a microcosm of experience, it is my responsibility to serve them.
    When it comes to the culture change, something that is very important, actions have been taken, whether by SMRC, or doing the gender-based analysis plus or putting support where it is needed to ensure our victims are supported through Bill C-77.
    I admit that when it comes to doing more, we should do more, and we will.
    Mr. Speaker, my question is this. In 2015, under Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney, the chief of the defence staff was put in place, so the Conservatives did not do what they needed to do to take care of women in the military.
    We now have a government that has had six years to fix this problem, this broken system, and it has not done that.
    A survivor, who is not a constituent, called my office because she did not know where to go. What does the minister suggest I say to her when government after government has been failing the women in our military?
    Mr. Speaker, I would tell that survivor that she will be heard and she will be supported.
    As I stated, we know we have a lot more work to do. The efforts that had been taken, where we thought we were moving in that direction, have not been enough. Based on the analysis originally, we needed to look deeper. We needed to make even greater changes. The external review that Justice Morris Fish was going to do was going to help us create a greater independence, which he now has recommended. We are going to be working toward that.
    It is difficult, but we must keep working toward creating that culture change, even though it does not happen overnight, and to regain that trust. That work is ongoing. It started back in 2015, but we need to continue with it.
    Mr. Speaker, the only one who is making this issue personal is the minister himself. He is putting his personal reputation, his pride and his desire to be right ahead certainly of Parliament, but, more important, ahead of the interests of our men and women in uniform. The fact is that because this has been mishandled so badly, the men and women in uniform do not trust the minister again.
    If he were to put his name forward as a minister of defence to lead the men and women in the military and if the men and women in the military were casting a vote, does he think he would get even a slight majority of them wanting him to stay on? I do not think he would. They cannot trust him to clean up the military, to deal with the sexual misconduct and to lead them.
     I would ask him to not make this personal, but to put our military before his own ego and his own desire to be right, and to double down, as he likes to say. Does he think he even has the support of the military?


    Mr. Speaker, I am not here to protect my pride; I am here to continually serve. That is what I have always done. When it comes to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, they will judge me for what has taken place.
    One thing I will always do, and have always done, is keep fighting for our people. It is something I did when I served and it is something I have done even since I became the defence minister, and this is why.
     When we put our defence policy together, it was not just about debating the number of dollars we were going to spend. The changes that we needed to make started from focusing on our people, not having to fight women in court when we settled with Heyder and Beattie. It was about ensuring we created the independence. This type of systemic change takes significant effort, but we will not stop.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. minister why he thinks that systemic cultural change is so important for the Canadian Armed Forces.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her tireless service in the Canadian Armed Forces and for her advocacy now.
    Systemic changes are absolutely necessary. The Canadian Armed Forces and any security organization of our country need to reflect the population they serve. When people step up, they deserve to have an inclusive environment so they can reach their full potential.
    When we tackle these problems, our Canadian Armed Forces will be a much greater organization, because we will have increased the pool of talent, with more women and greater diversity. We have seen the impact that this has on operations. Therefore, it makes us better and it creates greater trust. That is why it is so important to ensure we take on these challenges.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the minister's speech. He went on at length about what the Liberals had spent on the defence department and how they had acquired planes, jets and so on. With the morale that has been developing because of his actions and inaction in his role, how can he expect to have personnel to man this equipment and fly these planes when the minister has failed to maintain the trust of our men and women in uniform?
    Mr. Speaker, ensuring that we have the trust of our personnel, and that they and their families are valued is the focus of our defence policy. We are changing policies so when our members deploy, they are given tax-free status and do not have to fight for this ever again. We are ensuring that we work toward a harassment-free workplace, and picking the right leadership.
    When I first became defence minister, though I hate using these types of numbers, we had six female general officers. We now have 15. Creating a pipeline for more gender equality and more diversity is important. Ensuring that when women put the uniform on, they have the pride and the trust of their government and country is important. That is exactly what our government has delivered. However, we know we have a lot more work to do to deal with misconduct and to regain that trust.


    Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Pierre‑Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères.
    It is with great frustration that I rise today to speak to the motion that was introduced on this Conservative Party opposition day:
    That, given that the Minister of National Defence has clearly lost the respect of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, including those at the highest ranks, for, amongst other things, (i) misleading Canadians on the withdrawal of fighter jets in the fight against ISIS, (ii) misleading Canadians about his service record, (iii) presiding over the wrongful accusation and dismissal of Vice-Admiral Norman, (iv) engaging in a cover-up of sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian Armed Forces, the House formally censure the Minister of National Defence to express the disappointment of the House of Commons in his conduct.
    It is no secret that the Bloc Québécois will vote in favour of the motion. The Bloc Québécois has already asked for the resignation of the Minister of National Defence because of his ongoing failure to address sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. I was with our leader, the member for Beloeil—Chambly, and my colleague from Rivière‑du‑Nord at the press conference where we asked for his resignation.
    The censure proposed by the motion does not get rid of this minister, who did not take sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian Armed Forces seriously. As set out in the motion, the minister committed a number of mistakes, although the most serious is protecting General Vance and attempting to cover up his bungling, including failing to implement the recommendations of the 2015 Deschamps report.
    As the critic for status of women and gender equality, I will start by addressing these issues in my speech. I am very sensitive to these issues, and I will speak with due respect for the victims who testified at the Standing Committee on National Defence and the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. I will then address a few other scandals that have rocked the Canadian Armed Forces. I will close with some suggestions to help improve trust in the armed forces.
    First, while the Minister of National Defence was supposed to implement the 2015 Deschamps report, it appears that he has done nothing and that he even tried to bury General Vance’s file. I cannot believe that I am still here going over the entire unfortunate story.
    Former justice Marie Deschamps released a scathing report on March 27, 2015, concerning what she considered widespread sexual misconduct in the armed forces and the sexist culture that turned a blind eye to such misconduct. The report had been commissioned in the wake of accusations against Warrant Officer André Gagnon, who sexually assaulted a subordinate, Corporal Stéphanie Raymond, in December 2011. Corporal Raymond appeared before the committee, testifying to the harm she has suffered.
    Corporal Raymond filed a complaint against Warrant Officer Gagnon in 2012, but her chain of command turned against her, and she was eventually dismissed for misconduct in 2013. Warrant Officer Gagnon was acquitted in 2014, but, in 2021, after Corporal Raymond appealed the ruling, he finally pleaded guilty.
    Corporal Raymond’s situation, and the accusations she brought against the armed forces, led to former justice Marie Deschamps’ report. The report contained 10 recommendations, the most important of which was to make the complaint reporting system independent of the armed forces and of the Department of National Defence. That was in 2015, and, although we are now in 2021, nothing has been done.
    When she testified before the Standing Committee on National Defence in February 2021, Marie Deschamps said that very little had been done since the release of her report in 2015 and that little had really changed. She repeated these statements before the Standing Committee on the Status of Women last March.
    I will nevertheless take the time to point out that these allegations are not new, and that they began under the Conservative government, since it was in April 2015 that Jonathan Vance was named as the future chief of the defence staff. Allegations of sexual misconduct had been raised against him shortly before his appointment. A few months later, in July 2015, the former minister of veterans affairs and current leader of the opposition asked his chief of staff to talk to Ray Novak about another allegation against General Vance. This allegation involved an inappropriate relationship.
    General Vance denied all misconduct, and the investigations went nowhere, since there was no evidence. The military police apparently also investigated the case. On July 17, 2015, General Vance was appointed chief of the defence staff, and one of his first policies was to roll out Operation Honour, which sought to put an end to sexual misconduct. That takes guts.
    How is it possible that General Vance, who was the subject of very serious allegations, was appointed, given his role and his mandate as chief of the defence staff, as the person in charge of doing something against sexual misconduct?
    In fact, the very same day that General Vance become chief of the defence staff, the military police decided to drop the investigation against the man who had now become their boss. That is quite the coincidence.


    The operation, which was abandoned by the current chief of defence staff, had moderate impact, but it obviously had no effect on the senior officers who were above all that. In short, the Conservatives decided to appoint someone against whom accusations had been made when he was the boss of the Canadian Armed Forces, when they knew that his mandate would be to address sexual misconduct in the forces.
    Now let us look at some of the allegations under the Liberal government.
    On March 1, 2018, then ombudsman Gary Walbourne met privately with the Minister of National Defence. Walbourne attempted to discuss a case of sexual misconduct involving Vance. The victim did not want to go any further in the process because she was afraid of reprisals, preventing the ombudsman from going forward. However, the ombudsman, who had credible evidence against Vance, wanted to show it to the minister, who categorically refused to even look at it.
    The ombudsman wanted the minister to intervene to protect the victim, since she was Vance's subordinate and he could wipe out her career with the snap of a finger. The minister was unreceptive and hostile. Apparently, he categorically refused to look at Walbourne's evidence and left the meeting abruptly. The minister then referred the case to the Privy Council Office. After that, Walbourne tried to talk to the minister 12 times, but the minister refused to meet with him, and Walbourne retired a few months later.
    The Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office exchanged emails about the situation. After that, the situation deteriorated and other facts came to light. The scandal was made public in February 2021, when Global News reported accusations of misconduct against Vance, including his relationship with a subordinate and obscene emails exchanged in 2012 with a much younger servicewoman. The woman who had been in a relationship with Vance publicly stated that she had been threatened by Vance on several occasions. Vance believed himself to be untouchable. He said that he controlled the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.
    The standing committee on national defence decided to investigate the allegations against Vance. The Minister of Defence appeared before the committee a few times and contradicted himself. Moreover, the Liberals did not hesitate to obstruct the investigation to prevent Liberal employees Zita Astravas and Elder Marques from being called to testify. I was personally there when I was a substitute member of the committee. It was a sad time.
    From Elder Marques' testimony, we know that everyone around the Prime Minister was aware of the situation, but the Prime Minister himself continues to deny any knowledge of it. When other employees were called by the House, the Liberals sent the Minister of Defence instead. They said that they did not want their employees to testify.
    The Liberals willingly turned a blind eye to the allegations. The Liberals decided to ignore the issue, while the minister flatly refused to meet with the former ombudsman 12 times and would not even look at the evidence, claiming he did not want to interfere in the investigation.
    The Prime Minister's entourage knew that there had been allegations against Vance, even if the Prime Minister himself did not have all the details. Everyone around him suspected that these allegations involved sexual misconduct. There were actually emails that mentioned sexual misconduct directly. The Minister of Defence even said that the nature of the accusations against Vance did not matter and what mattered was to take action. Well, the Liberals did absolutely nothing. They did not even implement Justice Deschamps’s main recommendation, namely to make the complaint process completely independent of the military to receive all complaints of sexual misconduct.
    The facts speak for themselves. As of today, four generals have had complaints of misconduct brought against them. In 2021, six years after Justice Deschamps’s report was released, the Liberals decided to appoint former justice Louise Arbour to conduct another investigation into how to improve the system. That should have been done in 2015, not in 2021. The minister never took the situation seriously. Only when he had his back to the wall did he decide to do something, but only to save his own skin, after pressure from the opposition parties in the House and the committee investigations.
    To add insult to injury, the second-in-command of the Canadian Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau, decided to play golf with former general Vance, despite the fact that Vance is under investigation by the military police and the military police is under Lieutenant-General Rouleau’s command. This incident led to Rouleau’s resignation and brought to light the federal government’s failure to implement an independent system to handle cases of sexual misconduct. The Liberals have done nothing since 2015 and that inaction has consequences, as this incident shows.
    Since my time is running out, I will not have time to talk about everything I would have liked to address in my speech. I have been studying this case in the Standing Committee on the Status of Women and the Standing Committee on National Defence for months now. There is so much going on.
    In closing, the Liberals claim that they are unaware of the nature of the allegations against Vance, with the Minister of Defence even saying that the nature of the allegations does not matter. All these events have further eroded the public’s and women’s confidence and harmed diversity, in particular. We must consider the victims. The Liberals and their Minister of Defence failed to act to restore confidence in the armed forces.


    One last thing: We may think none of this really touches us, but the father of a former military member recently admitted to me that his daughter had to resign when she became pregnant. Her superior officer, with whom she had had a relationship, asked her to have an abortion to keep the matter quiet. She refused, and was asked to resign. This is still happening in 2021. We must act for the sake of the victims.



    Mr. Speaker, the member did a pretty good job of showing that the far more serious allegations related to General Vance were from his appointment, and that there were rumours at the time among the Conservatives.
    As to the present Minister of National Defence, there was an email, and for privacy reasons no one was allowed to know what was in it. It was dealt with within 24 hours, which was very fast action by the minister. It was investigated as far as it could go at that time, because for privacy the person did not want the information to get out.
    I am glad the member mentioned that we should be concentrating on the victims. That is what the Liberals have done 90% of the time at committee. Because the member is on the status of women committee, which had good witnesses, I would like her to suggest what needs to be done to change the culture. At committee, we found that was probably the biggest problem facing the military.


    Mr. Speaker, I am shocked to hear that 90% of the time the Liberals acted out of respect for the victims in committee. Where have they been over the past six years? We are being asked to take action. We are being schooled in confidentiality.
    If the Liberals had simply reread Justice Deschamps’s report, we would not be where we are today, and we would not be discussing something that was debated yet again in the Standing Committee on the Status of Women and the Standing Committee on National Defence in 2021.
    I invite my colleague to reread the report, since it contains concrete suggestions.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Shefford for her excellent speech. I always learn something when she speaks in the House.
    Does she not get the feeling that the Liberals and the Conservatives are very alike in that they do not care about what happens to the victims? The Conservatives did the same thing in the case of General Vance: They denied that there had been any allegations of a sexual nature.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Repentigny for her comments.
    That is what we heard from the victims. I am thinking in particular about Ms. Raymond, who testified before the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. She still does not understand why she had to fight to have her case dealt with outside the Canadian Armed Forces. She managed to win because she was heard before an external tribunal.
    The recommendation was made in 2015. Ms. Raymond is well aware that the Deschamps report led to the story covered by L'actualité and various Quebec journalists.
    The victims are asking for concrete measures, and they are well aware of what was in the Deschamps report.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Shefford on her speech.
    I would like her to tell me what she thinks about the fact that the minister is holding on to his position. What message does that send to women who want to pursue a career in the Canadian Armed Forces?
    Personally, I feel that the message being sent is that women who want to pursue a military career must be willing to take risks with their safety, given all the incidents of sexual misconduct. It makes no sense. I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about this.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé for his question.
    I cannot for the life of me understand why the Minister of National Defence still has his job. I did not even have enough time in my speech to talk about all the other reasons nobody can possibly have confidence in him anymore.
    During my studies, I had a chance to interview military personnel. I went to Jonquière and I talked to people at CFB Bagotville, which is an important institution. If we want to see more women and more diversity in the armed forces, we absolutely have to send a strong message.
    The government calls itself feminist. How can it possibly allow a defence minister who tolerated such allegations to keep his job? That is unacceptable, there is no excuse for it, and it is high time the minister resigned. That is what my colleagues on the Standing Committee on National Defence and I demanded a few weeks ago.


    Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleague from Shefford for her excellent speech and for agreeing to split her time with me.
    Today, we are discussing a motion moved by the Conservative Party, which reads as follows:
    That, given that the Minister of National Defence has clearly lost the respect of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, including those at the highest ranks, for, amongst other things,
(i) misleading Canadians on the withdrawal of fighter jets in the fight against ISIS,
(ii) misleading Canadians about his service record,
(iii) presiding over the wrongful accusation and dismissal of Vice-Admiral Norman,
(iv) engaging in a cover-up of sexual misconduct allegations in the Canadian Armed Forces,
the House formally censure the Minister of National Defence to express the disappointment of the House of Commons in his conduct.
    I do not think anyone in the House will be surprised to learn that we will vote in favour of this motion, in light of its troubling elements. The facts have accumulated over time, which has led to a loss of confidence. That is why the Bloc Québécois is calling for the resignation of the Minister of National Defence.
    We look at all these things that have happened, but the last straw was the whole issue of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. The situation has completely deteriorated and the minister has mismanaged it from the start.
    As we know, General Vance was forced to retire and it was not until after he retired that we finally learned about the allegations of sexual misconduct that were made against him, which triggered an investigation by the Standing Committee on National Defence, as well as a study by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. When two committees look into an issue at the same time, it is obviously a big deal.
    Shortly thereafter we also learned that General Vance's replacement, Admiral McDonald, also had to step down, also because of allegations of sexual misconduct.
    This has been going on at the upper echelons of the military for some time and it is troubling since the current Minister of National Defence was notified of the problem by Gary Walbourne, who was national defence and armed forces ombudsman at the time, but has since retired. He went to the minister to advise him of a major complaint against the chief of the defence staff, General Vance. It was serious.
    The minister told him he did not want to know about it, that he did not want anyone to talk to him about it, that he did not want to see the evidence and that the ombudsman should instead go talk to the appropriate authorities. In fact, the minister refused to look at what the ombudsman wanted to show him and then refused to meet with him again thereafter. The minister adopted this culture of wilful ignorance, choosing to turn a blind eye and act like nothing happened.
    Unfortunately, even though some people on his staff appear to have passed the information along, it is hard to know who was aware of what and when. There are different, contradictory versions of events. When asked, the minister initially said that he was not aware. That is completely untrue, however, because we have now learned that he was aware. He met with the ombudsman, who wanted to talk to him about the situation.
    Then, the minister started saying that he was not aware of the nature of the complaint in question. However, once again, Mr. Walbourne said that he very clearly told the minister about the nature of the complaint. Furthermore, media reports revealed that the public servants had emailed each other, proving that the minister was aware of the nature of the complaint, in spite of what he had been claiming. Worse yet, the minister then claimed that the nature of the complaint was not ultimately an important factor.


    That is how he chose to handle it. Rather than apologizing and telling us that he did not give us the right information and that he tried to hide the fact that he did not take the action he should have, he decided to minimize the situation and tried to convince us that, ultimately, it was not that important.
    It is especially disappointing to see a minister behave like that, particularly because of the message that it sends to the Canadian Armed Forces. The message is that this is not serious, not important. The government is going to close its eyes to complaints. The government is going to say that it does not want anything to do with this sort of thing and that it does not want to get involved because politicians should not interfere with investigations. That is the minister's position.
    Nevertheless, we asked the former ombudsman if it would have constituted interference to meet with him to look at the evidence. At that time, there was not even an investigation under way. He said that it would not. The ombudsman that replaced him and who is in office today told us that it would not be interfering at all and that is exactly what he would have done.
    We asked the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service or CFNIS if it would have constituted interference for the minister to do his job by simply looking at the evidence and agreeing to meet with the ombudsman. He said no, not at all. We also asked the CFNIS whether it would have constituted interference for the minister to request an investigation. Once again, the CFNIS said no and added that that would only be the case if the minister sought to undermine the investigation. However, it must be said that the minister did basically undermine the investigation by not asking the CFNIS to investigate and by refusing to obtain the information. However, there was no investigation. It was easier that way.
    We then learned that the information did make the rounds. The Privy Council Office was informed of the situation. One of the Prime Minister's advisers, Elder Marques, was apparently informed of the situation and was asked to investigate, at least to some extent. The Prime Minister's chief of staff was also informed of the situation. However, one after the other, they all claimed at the beginning, when speaking with the Prime Minister, that they did not know and his staff did not know. We were getting different versions all the time, and information was coming out in dribs and drabs. Unfortunately, we are up against a government and a party that are trying to undermine the work of the Standing Committee on National Defence.
    I have been a member of that committee for months, and our work has been stalled for months now. Every time a witness is called or a witness expresses a desire to appear, the government and Liberal members filibuster. As a result, nothing is moving forward and nothing is getting done. The filibustering is only getting worse. It has been about three or four weeks since we have been able to have a single meeting where we have intelligent discussions and actually do any work. We are just wasting time. This is especially frustrating because this government prides itself on being a democratic government when, really, it is just undermining the committee's work.
    Why did he decide to hinder the work of the committee? That is the question. Why does he absolutely not want us to know what happened? Since the witnesses kept contradicting each other, after we heard the last one, we decided to invite more. We asked for the Minister of National Defence's chief of staff so that he could give us his version of the facts, but that was blocked. We cannot speak to him. On one occasion, the minister even showed up in place of his chief of staff to tell us what he would have said. That is something. He knew what the other guy was going to say. Why are the Liberals so scared of what he might tell us?
    For now, what we have observed is that the Minister of National Defence was not up to the task. He did not do his job, and, because of that, to protect itself and to prevent things from going smoothly, the Liberal Party has been systematically obstructing the investigation. The Liberal members of the committee are preventing us from doing our job. If I were a citizen and I saw that, I would be really angry and frustrated. In addition, what message does this send to people who work in the Canadian Armed Forces?


    What message does this send to women? The message is that, when things like this happen, when a minister is not up to the task and when there are unacceptable situations in the Canadian Armed Forces, the Standing Committee on National Defence will be prevented from doing its job because the government wants to protect its friends, and because it wants to protect those who did not do what they should have done. That is what is really going on.
    We have a minister who is not up to the task. Rather than do his job, when he could have implemented the recommendations of the 2015 Deschamps report, the minister decided to go back to square one instead. I do not even know if he read the Deschamps report, which contained good recommendations and indicated that the situation in the armed forces was hard to believe. He decided to go back to square one and commission another report that they also may not look at in order to stall.
    For example, he allowed Mr. Vance to take charge of Operation Honour, when, in the end, he was setting the wolf loose on the sheep. He gave him a raise. Worse than that, we found out that, in the meantime, the second in command of the armed forces, Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau, who is also vice chief of the defence staff and head of the military police, went to play golf with the retired General Vance.
    All this shows just how much the minister's inaction created a climate of impunity in the armed forces, and that is totally unacceptable.


    Madam Speaker, I am disappointed the Bloc members have decided to support the Conservative Party on the motion. Would the Bloc members apply the same principles to the behaviour of the leader of the official opposition, given that he had the opportunity to deal with this matter when he was part of the Stephen Harper cabinet? That government's failure is what ultimately advanced General Vance. Does he believe there should be any consequences today because of the inaction of the leader of the official opposition or does he believe he did the right thing back then?


    Madam Speaker, I think my colleague has asked a very good question. As he pointed out, the Conservatives initially appointed General Vance. However, the Liberals are the ones who failed to act when allegations about him surfaced.
    Nevertheless, if there was a need to delve further, if the Conservatives failed to act, I think that the same steps should be taken, that is, that their conduct should be investigated as long as there would not be filibustering at committee to prevent light being shed on these matters.
    However, at this time, we are dealing with the current government. Who is in power now? Who has the means to change things at this time? It is the Liberals, and they are the ones preventing change from happening.


    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his intervention today. I appreciate the work he has done at the national defence committee and having to sit through the ongoing, needless filibustering and obstruction by the Liberals. They continue their cheap political grandstanding. It has been very disheartening. It very much undermines the trust of the women and men who serve in uniform in our parliamentary institutions to watch the Liberals keep a minister in place who continues to lose their respect and now see parliamentarians from the Liberal side trying to hide that and being complicit in the cover-up of the minister failing to act upon the sexual misconduct allegations against General Vance three years ago.
    We have a parliamentary democracy that hinges upon ministerial accountability. In light of the fact the minister has not done the honourable thing and resigned, does the member believe the Prime Minister should fire the Minister of National Defence?


    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I think it is a good question.
    In my opinion, in the circumstances, there comes a point where the minister should realize that he is not up to the task. He should realize that he is not fit for the office he holds. He should realize that, ultimately, his very presence undermines public confidence in the institution.
     In my opinion, if he does not have the good judgment to resign, the Prime Minister should help him step aside.


    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. All of this business with the Minister of National Defence seems like one big cover-up operation.
    Unfortunately, we are not talking about a military operation on the ground. We are talking about an operation to save the minister's skin and his ministerial position.
    I think the member said it well. The trust has been broken, and the victims of this cover-up operation are the people who serve in our armed forces, and in particular women.
    What does my colleague think about that?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    We saw a prime example of that late last week when the military's second-in-command, who also oversees the military police, played golf with the man who is currently under investigation. That right there is telling. There is a culture of impunity in the armed forces, at least among senior officers, who think that they are above the law.
    Because a minister did not do his job and is not up to the task, the members of the armed forces feel like nothing will change. The minister must be replaced.


    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
    I am honoured today to speak to this motion. I am the granddaughter of Bert McCoy. He was a gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force who always lived a very large life, including being shot down over Belgium during the Second World War. He spent two years in the underground trying to fight his way back to my grandmother and my mother in Canada. An interesting part about this story is that he had to escape from some German soldiers, and speaking French saved his life. I sometimes think that the reason I fight so hard for Franco-Albertans is that French saved the life of my grandfather.
    He was a magnificent man, and I am proud to stand today in his honour, but I have to say that how we protect and stand up for the women and men who defend this country defines us as parliamentarians. It is one of our most fundamental duties.
    We ask members of the armed forces to risk their lives, to be away from loved ones, and to defend all of us and others around the world. There can be no more important thing than those women and men knowing that we have their backs. Women and men have lost confidence that this minister has their backs. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces have heard the minister mislead them. They have heard the minister mislead parliamentarians, the media and Canadians.
    I do not want to be harsh on any member of the House. I understand that we all have very difficult jobs, and I honestly believe that almost all members want to do what is best for Canadians, but the minister has acted in a way that requires a response.
    In 2016, the minister quashed an inquiry into Canadian transfers of detainees to local custody in Afghanistan, where they faced torture. An inquiry would have revealed why the transfers were not stopped and why these war crimes were never reported. In making this decision, the minister was in an apparent conflict of interest. He served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan at the time of the transfers and would have had knowledge of the torture of detainees. No public inquiry was ever conducted into Canada's role and responsibility with regard to the transfer of Afghan detainees. More recently, the minister turned a blind eye to evidence of war crimes committed by Iraqi troops being trained by Canadians as part of Operation Impact.
    In 2017, the minister claimed to be the architect of Operation Medusa. This was not true. He exaggerated his role, which of course is an affront to those members who fought in Afghanistan. Honour means telling the truth. Honour means not taking credit for the work done by others. The minister stole honour that was not his.
    Despite the minister's poor record, this is not just an issue with the Minister of National Defence. The focus on the Minister of National Defence is necessary, and I will support this motion, but I want to outline why I believe the inexcusable actions by the government, in relation to its support for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, are not the issue of just one minister. In fact, this is not the issue of just one party. There is an insidious and dangerous reality that goes farther than one minister.
    The Prime Minister has failed the women and men in uniform. The Liberal government has failed the women and men in uniform. There is a pattern of looking the other way. There is a pattern of not doing the work that needs to be done to meet our international obligations to report war crimes and torture. As always, the failures of many do not affect the government. They affect our brave servicewomen and men in this country, and they affect those who need our help around the world.
    One of the most shocking failures was the inability to protect women in the military from sexual harassment and violence.


    The government has been in power for six years, and in those six years there have been 581 sexual assaults in the military, with 221 incidents of sexual harassment logged. This abject failure to protect women is a stain on our country.
    Women are tired of being told to be patient. They are tired of being told their concerns have been heard and then nothing changes. As important as the Liberals say the issue is, the Prime Minister did not even include an explicit mention of dealing with sexual misconduct in the 2015, 2019 or 2021 mandate letters to the minister.
    The Prime Minister did not care.
    I spoke earlier today about a survivor who called my office because she did not trust her member of Parliament. She did not know where to turn, so she phoned my office. I spoke to her for over an hour about her concerns that her anonymity and safety would be compromised, and that for her having a career in the Canadian Armed Forces was now impossible.
    This is a woman who has served our country, and she does not even feel safe telling the government about the concerns she has as a survivor of sexual harassment within the military. I did not know what to say to her. I did not know how to help her. I did not know how to relieve her concerns. I did not know what to do, because I do not have confidence that the government cares about sexual harassment survivors. I do not have confidence that the Conservative government, when it was in power, had the best interests of women in our military at heart.
    Can members imagine being a survivor, and being brave and strong enough to come forward with that story of survival, and then finding out that General Vance was golfing with the people who were investigating him? The old boys' club nonsense that she is trying to stop and prevent, because she wants to make our military better, results in them going for a golf game. How old boys' club is that? How inexcusable.
    These women do not get action. They get another inquiry. The minister must answer for this, but more importantly the Prime Minister must answer for this.
    As I said, my confidence in the government has failed, but I do not believe the Conservative government acted better. I am sad to say the Conservative government under Stephen Harper, with Jason Kenney as the minister of defence, bears the same guilt. Jason Kenney knew General Vance was accused of sexual harassment, and unbelievably he appointed the general to lead Operation Honour. In what world is it reasonable to have somebody accused or suspected of sexual harassment be in charge of the investigation into sexual harassment? The absurdity is shocking to me.
    While I am disappointed in the Prime Minister, the Minister of National Defence and the Liberal government, I find it incredibly rich that the Conservatives have the gall to stand in this place and not acknowledge the role their government has played in harming the women of our Canadian Armed Forces.
    There is enough blame to go around. Government after government has failed women in this country. They have created a toxic work environment where women cannot work safely in our military. Is anyone surprised that enrolment is low? Can anyone be surprised that women do not flock to participate in our military?
    In conclusion, I will support this motion because the minister needs to answer for his actions, but I want to reiterate that the Prime Minister, the minister, the government and the opposition bear the burden of knowing they have not protected women in this country.


    Madam Speaker, I agree with a lot of what the member had to say today, in particular when she said there is a lot of blame to go around. We are dealing with systemic issues within the military, especially given the actions we have seen lately, and these are things that need to be dealt with. We need to get to the bottom of these things. We need to start change within the culture of the military.
    Is today a productive day to do that? Would it not have been a more productive day to have a motion that challenged the government to develop policy to deal with these issues, as opposed to spending another day on personal attacks on one particular individual? Would she not have rather had a meaningful, serious debate about policy that could shape and change the culture of the military?
    Madam Speaker, I have a few problems with this. First of all, all attempts to get the government to take meaningful action have been stalled, whether it is at committee or in the House. It has had six years and has chosen not to take the necessary steps that would protect women in the military.
    Do I think the Conservative opposition is acting in a partisan manner today with this opposition day motion? Absolutely. This is not going to help women in the Canadian military. That said, the minister does need to answer for his actions. The government has had a long time to fix this and has chosen not to do so.
    The member can talk about what we could have done, but he is in government. I can tell him an awful lot of things that he and his party could have done.
    Madam Speaker, the Minister of National Defence, since day one of the last Parliament, has had a rocky road, with a lot of scandals, issues and problems, and they seem to be piling up. So far, neither he nor the Prime Minister has done anything about it. I would ask the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona to comment on that.
    Madam Speaker, I wish I did not have to say this, but very often we hear the right words from the Liberals and we do not see action. They are incredibly good at saying words that Canadians and I want to hear. They say they are going to take action and do what needs to be done, but then we do not get that. We get study after study. There are so many times I have stood in the House over the last year and a half and wondered whether the government knows it is the government. Does it not know that it has the ability to do these things? Does it not know the tools that it has at its disposal?
    I agree with the member that if the Liberals really want to make changes for women in the military, they have all the tools they need to make them happen.



    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her insightful speech.
    We have a number of urgent and important matters to take care of right now, so I want to ask my colleague how she feels about the fact that we are still debating something that seems obvious to everyone. Everyone has read and heard all the arguments.
    What does my colleague think about the government's slow pace and indifference to this matter, which needs to be dealt with once and for all so that we can move on?


    Madam Speaker, I will reiterate that we have a report that outlines what needs to be done to protect women in the military. We know the next steps to be taken. We know exactly what could be done right now, this moment, to protect women in the military, and none of it is being done.
    We are standing in this place with an urgency to pass legislation on climate change, broadcasting and so many other things, as if there are not two years left in the mandate of the government. I believe we still have two years left to do this work. I feel that the constant failure to plan and do the work puts so much of the important work of the House at risk. We are very quickly getting to the summer, and we are having a debate that we should have talked about six years ago, to be perfectly honest.


    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona for her interventions, which are always extremely relevant, heartfelt and full of humanity.
    To quote Shakespeare's Hamlet, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I get the impression that something is rotten in the office of the Minister of National Defence. He has abandoned the men and women of the armed forces time and again. He has engaged in cover-ups, tried to ignore the facts, and tried to sweep things under the rug, and he misled the parliamentary committee when he was answering questions. The members of the armed forces deserve much better than that. They are courageous men and women. They take risks. They are prepared to make sacrifices, and they keep us and our country safe.
    In my opinion, the men and women who serve in the armed forces must be respected. They deserve better. The Minister of National Defence abandoned them and chose to turn a blind eye to serious allegations, including allegations of sexual misconduct, and other problems, such as the things that happened in Iraq. He always tried to cover up instead. It seems that the minister's modus operandi is to avoid fixing the problem, look away or sweep problems under the rug. For him, it is out of sight, out of mind. However, that is not how it works.
    The Minister of National Defence, protected by the Prime Minister and by the entire Liberal government, let down all the women who serve in the armed forces, first and foremost. That is unfortunate, because it blatantly contradicts the Liberal rhetoric about how they are a feminist government that cares deeply about the plight of women and their advancement to achieve real equality.
    On several occasions, the minister, protected by the Prime Minister, failed the test. The people who work in the armed forces have a unique calling. We should be grateful to them. Personally, I am grateful for my grandfather, Urgel Boulerice, who served in the armed forces in World War II. It makes me think about my colleague from Edmonton Strathcona, who spoke of her grandfather. Her story was very interesting. These people have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. The Liberal government failed to meet its obligations.
    We are dealing with a deleterious climate, a culture of impunity and a toxic culture. Despite all the reports and recommendations, the Liberal government, the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence were unable to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. All workers in Canada have the right to a safe and healthy work environment, including those who serve in our armed forces.
    I have not met many military personnel, since there is no military base in my region. In my riding, Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie, there is a legion, and I have met with its members a few times. I am not as close to the issue as some of my colleagues. However, I spent three days on a frigate between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St. John's, Newfoundland. For three days, I lived with sailors on the HMCS Ville de Québec, which, I must say, is a very nice name. I met extremely dedicated professional men and women who want to do their job well and who have absolutely unbelievable stories to tell, including about counter-piracy operations off the cost of East Africa. I salute their work and their bravery. If I mention this, it is because I am trying to address this situation as a matter of women's and workers' rights.


    I want to take a step back and ask everyone here a question. For us, as members of Parliament, what does it mean to engage in politics? We must listen to people. We must connect with people. We must listen to their problems and try to find solutions. When Yann Martel spoke at an NDP convention, he said that politics requires empathy, the ability to stand in someone else's shoes to better understand their life.
    I must admit that I have had a privileged life and that there are some hardships that I cannot understand. I am not a part of a minority, I have not been excluded, I have not faced discrimination, and I have not been the victim of racism or sexism. I think it is essential to be able to stand in someone else's shoes and demonstrate humanity, solidarity and friendship.
    I want to take some time to read a poem from Jacques Prévert that puts us in that frame of mind. I think this kind of point of view is worthwhile and plainly relevant to this discussion. It will take two minutes, and then I will get back to the topic at hand. Here it is:

The sun shines for all mankind, except of course for prisoners and miners, and also for
those who scale the fish
those who eat the spoiled meat
those who turn out hairpin after hairpin
those who blow the glass bottles that others will drink from
those who slice their bread with pocketknives
those who vacation at their workbenches or their desks
those who never quite know what to say...
those you won't find anesthetized at the dentist's
those who cough out their lungs in the subway
those who down in various holes turn out the pens with which others in the open air will write something to the effect that everything turns out for the best
those who have too much to even begin to put into words
those whose labours are never over
those who haven't labours
those who look for labours
those who aren't looking for labours
those who water your horses
those who watch their own dogs dying
those who daily bread is available on a more or less weekly schedule

those who go to church to keep warm in their winter
those whom Swiss Guards send outdoors to keep warm
those who simply rot
those who enjoy the luxury of eating
those who travel beneath your wheels
those who stare at the Seine flowing by
those whom you hire, to whom you express your deepest thanks, whom you are charitable toward, whom you deprive, whom you manipulate, whom you step on, whom you crush
those from whom even fingerprints are taken
those whom you order to break ranks at random and shoot down quite methodically
those who go on forced marches beneath the Arch of Triumph
those who don't know how to fall in with the custom of the country any place on earth
those who never ever see the sea
those who always smell of fresh linen because they weave the sheets you lie on
those without running water
those whose goal is eternally the blue horizon
those who scatter salt on the snow in all directions in order to collect a ridiculous salary
those whose life expectancy is a lot shorter than yours is
those who've never yet knelt down to pick up a dropped hairpin
those who die of boredom on a Sunday afternoon because they see Monday morning coming
and also Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday
and Saturday too
and the next Sunday afternoon as well.

    I think this tells us that we must be able to see those with different lives and different challenges who are suffering. Right now, in the Canadian Armed Forces, there are people who are struggling and who are suffering. That is why there have been allegations of misconduct and investigations. Unfortunately, the Minister of Defence, instead of trying to put himself in the shoes of those who are struggling and suffering, preferred to try to bury the situation time and again.
    He did that in the case of the investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct, but that was not the first time. There are things that trouble me immensely about the current Minister of Defence's instincts. Remember that, before this whole unbelievable story, there were videos of Iraqi military personnel committing crimes against Iraqi women, including sexual assault, rape and maybe even murder. What was the Minister of Defence's response? He told us not to watch the videos.
    In 2016, after becoming Minister of Defence, he decided to set aside an investigation into the transfer of prisoners in Afghanistan when they were handed over to local authorities who were known to routinely practise torture. This is a complete violation of all of our international commitments and the Geneva Conventions. We should not be transferring prisoners if we think they are going to be mistreated or tortured.
    There is overwhelming proof that the minister is incompetent, and that he is not deserving of our confidence or of that of the House. For these reasons, the NDP is asking for his resignation.


    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite‑Patrie for his speech and his reference to philosophical texts that help us reflect on Parliament's ultimate goal, which is to serve our population and our citizens, as well as the members of our armed forces, who are crucial to Canada's safety and peace.
    Does my colleague have a quick solution to suggest to the current government, other than the resignation of the Minister of National Defence, which we all want? We need a quick solution to reassure women who want to make a career in the armed forces. What would my colleague suggest?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. Unfortunately, I think we have had the answers for a long time, and that is the problem. I think the solutions are there. During the five years of Operation Honour, which was supposed to change the culture within the Canadian Armed Forces, 581 sexual assaults and 220 incidents of sexual harassment were reported in the military.
    The Deschamps report was tabled and made public on April 30, 2015. A few months later, the Liberals won a majority government. We already knew what Justice Deschamps' recommendations were at that time. She had reached her conclusions and proposed practical solutions. However, six years later, nothing has been done and the same culture still exists. However, the answers to the problem are set out in Justice Deschamps' report.


    Given that the current leader of the Conservative Party was very much aware of allegations and completely failed to do his job back then, I am wondering if the member would say that it is his position or his party's position that there should be a consequence for the current leader of the official opposition for not acting when he should have acted. Does he believe that to be the case, or should the leader of the official opposition be given a pass?



    Madam Speaker, I am always really pleased to disappoint a Liberal. It makes my day. Honestly, I have seen better attacks. We could talk about many Conservatives, including Jason Kenney, who are responsible for a whole bunch of bad decisions.
    I would just like to tell the parliamentary secretary that he often accuses the opposition of slowing down the work, filibustering and making Parliament dysfunctional. That is the Liberals' rhetoric right now. However, I would like to remind him that the Liberals are the ones obstructing the work of the Standing Committee on National Defence to hide the truth, prevent witnesses from appearing and prevent us from getting to the bottom of what happened in the defence minister's office. They are trying to protect their friends. That is the good old Liberal culture. Sometimes those who delay the work are those who have things to hide.


    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, for his wonderful remarks and very powerful speech.
    In listening to the member's speech and others, I am trying to imagine how it must feel to be a member of the armed forces who has been a victim of sexual assault or harassment and to see the Liberals filibustering the defence committee when the committee members are trying to get answers. Could the member reflect on what message he feels these actions send to people who have been victimized by these kinds of offences?


    Madam Speaker, I thank my NDP colleague for his excellent question. Again, let us put ourselves in the shoes of people who are suffering and who were victims of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault, people who are now watching the Liberals and the defence minister attempt to cover it all up. Those people must feel frustrated and abandoned. Unfortunately, the Liberals have abandoned the men and especially the women of the Canadian Armed Forces.


    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill. As the strong, proud and ready member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am honoured to represent Garrison Petawawa.
     Today's motion is about the legacy of the Canadian Armed Forces during the current defence minister's tenure. He needs to step aside, since he is not prepared to admit each time he failed to uphold his oath of office to the Canadian people. He was under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister. There is no room in the Prime Minister's Office or the Department of National Defence for sexism, misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, discrimination, harassment or any other conduct that prevents the institution and the whole of government from being a truly welcoming and inclusive organization.
    Canadians understand that a culture change, starting with the Prime Minister, is required to remove his culture of toxic masculinity behaviour to create an environment where everyone is respected, valued and can feel safe to contribute to the best of their abilities. As the member of Parliament for Garrison Petawawa, I know that respect is precious. If the Minister of National Defence has any respect for the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, he would have resigned a long time ago.
    I have worked very hard to earn the respect of our women and men in uniform. They are heroes. This was in the 2018 briefing note to the chain of command, up to the Minister of National Defence, the individual at the top who claims ignorance of war crimes:
    We remain uncertain whether appropriate action was effectively taken...I am an ethical man and I believe in our moral doctrine and the LOAC (Law of Armed Conflict). I am bothered by the fact that my assigned duties allowed me to train and enable people who in my mind were criminals.
    These soldiers are also my constituents. I have a direct responsibility in calling out this dereliction of duty on the part of the Prime Minister. I acknowledge the trust they placed in me when they acted with a conscience. I will always have the backs of the women and men in uniform.
    On behalf of the people of Canada and on behalf of our Conservative government-in-waiting, I thank the soldiers who first raised the issue of war crimes, and then continue to raise these concerns. They have the gratitude and full support of the Conservatives, even if the Liberal Party continues to slough them off and act vindictively towards the soldiers who reported what they saw.
    It is obvious to those who care about things like international treaties and the law of armed conflict that the Minister of National Defence has many lessons to learn. He needs to take lessons from the official opposition when it comes to serving his country. The minister claims no politician should ever start investigations. How quickly he forgot his own advice when it came to an hon. naval officer, like Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. What the Prime Minister ordered, however, was not an investigation against Mark Norman, it was a witch hunt that ended badly for the Prime Minister and his minister.
    While I am proud and ready to defend the honour and reputations of the women and men who serve as the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, I cannot say the same about the current Minister of National Defence. The reputation has been maligned by the government of our country. The lack of leadership and direction from the Prime Minister has created many casualties.
    First is the Minister of National Defence. The motion put forward by the leader of my party says it all. Seeing the Minister of National Defence reduced to repeating mindless talking points is sad, when he had a strong role model sitting next to him, the former minister of justice, the MP for Vancouver Granville. As a principled woman, she knew when it was time to stand up and act honourably.
    The next casualties of the Prime Minister's lack of leadership are the women in uniform who have been victims of sexual misconduct under his watch, and the double standard on the way women and men are treated by the so-called, let me grope for his self-label, “feminist Prime Minister”.


    Let us talk about the female officer who was charged, convicted, fined and removed from her post. Her treatment was in direct contrast to the treatment afforded to Lieutenant-General Christopher Coates who, while serving as deputy commander of NORAD, had a consensual relationship with a civilian woman serving with the U.S. military in Colorado Springs.
    He was allowed to continue his post before being transferred home last summer to take over the military's joint operations command. Coates was due to be transferred to the senior NATO post in Naples, Italy, until news of the affair became public. Now, ignoring the family relationship between Coates and DND deputy minister Jody Thomas, this example of the double standard women in uniform face every day from the government is appalling. We can add that to the casualty list on sexual misconduct.
    The Prime Minister's own chief of staff, Katie Telford, did nothing to rein in the problem of the Prime Minister's toxic masculinity and seriously address the problem of the sexual misconduct crisis in the military. That makes her part of the problem and she should have resigned her position when her complicity was exposed.
    The next casualties of the lack of leadership and direction by the Prime Minister and his Minister of National Defence are all the serving women in the Canadian Armed Forces. From the highest-ranking general to those who are still around, to the newly enlisted, who should be eager to serve their country, but who are now demoralized by the actions of the Prime Minister.
    There are also fine individuals like Mark Norman and former armed forces ombudsman, Gary Walbourne. I am a member of the Standing Committee on National Defence. We invited Gary to come to our committee. He stated for the record he met the defence minister in 2018 to discuss an allegation of sexual misconduct against former chief of the defence staff, Jonathan Vance.
    When he offered to show the minister proof of the allegation, former armed forces ombudsman Walbourne stated the government pushed him away and refused to review the evidence. “The only thing I ever wanted the minister to do was his job,” he is quoted as saying at the time that this happened. He then observed that “doing nothing wasn't the response I was looking for”. Doing nothing is the legacy of the defence minister and the government. This is now a government-wide scandal.
    The next casualties in the DND scandal are the MP for Kanata—Carleton and the MP for Ottawa West—Nepean. The endless filibustering of the Standing Committee on National Defence will not go unnoticed by voters. They also had a role model like the member who had also left the Liberal caucus who used to sit beside them in the government caucus. To retired general Andrew Leslie, the former member of Parliament for Orléans, who resigned rather than being reduced to a mindless government cheerleader, I thank him for his service to this country.
    The last point I will now deal with is the myth that some elements of the bought media repeat is that the military fared okay while the member for Vancouver South has been sitting in the defence minister's chair. Under the defence minister's time, though the government may have committed spending more money on the military in real dollars, it is all promised spending. The devil is always in the details. My constituents clearly remember the decade of darkness when Liberals slashed budgets, starting with disbanding the Canadian Airborne Regiment.
    For spending to actually happen, soldiers have to rely on a future elected Conservative government. Of the purchases that have actually been delivered so far, they are mired in controversy. Who is Adam Coates again? By all tests, the Minister of National Defence has failed Canadians.


    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her service and for representing the brave men and women in uniform in her community.
    The question I have for her is about the culture of cover-up and why it is so important that the minister does resign. We have seen it with the SNC-Lavalin case. We have seen it with the WE scandal. Even before the last election, with CUSMA, we knew it was going to be a $1.5-billion hit to the auto industry, but the Liberals kept that away from Canadians before the election. They knew about this sexual scandal in the military before the election and now we are seeing it repeated with the Winnipeg lab cover-up.
    Could she explain to Canadians that it is absolutely necessary that the Liberal minister resign, not only for his behaviour, but for keeping this information away from Canadians before the last election?
    Madam Speaker, definitely the culture of cover-up is something that has to be dealt with, together with corruption overall.
    It started from the very beginning, with the purchase and procurement of the Asterix. There was government intervention trying to stop what was going forward. It was not stopped in its tracks at that time. Then there was the sexual misconduct and Operation Honour. They took the “honour” out of Operation Honour by allowing sexual misconduct to go unchecked for years, and now we have many women and men who are broken by what happened to them.
    This goes all the way to the cover-up on the vaccines, and now the Winnipeg lab. Heaven only knows what occurred as a consequence of their covering up what happened at the lab, with the scientists who were fired.
    Madam Speaker, I am wondering if the member could reflect on the fact that the current Leader of the Opposition, her leader, was made aware of misconduct rumours back in 2015. The Conservative government was very much aware, yet it went ahead and posted General Vance to a higher position. I am wondering if the member would say that the leader of the official opposition should also have to pay some consequence for his lack of action, or does she believe that he should be given a pass?
    Madam Speaker, as soon as our current leader learned about allegations against the former chief of the defence staff, he reported it and it was investigated, unlike what happened with the current government.



    Madam Speaker, many of my colleagues have spoken to this issue so far, and the Bloc Québécois will definitely be voting in favour of this motion.
     However, instead of censuring the Minister of National Defence, why not demand his resignation?
    Does my colleague think the Minister of National Defence should resign immediately?


    Madam Speaker, that is a very good question that my colleague asked. We are hoping that the minister will finally conduct an act of honour and do so on his own. However, right now, it is the Prime Minister who is ultimately responsible, and he has presided over this culture of cover-up and corruption.
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's remarks. I have a similar question to the last one, and perhaps it is rhetorical, but does she feel that there is any way the Prime Minister can continue to have confidence in his defence minister, when it seems that his defence minister has lost the confidence of the men and women in the armed forces?
    Madam Speaker, all we have to do is look at the Prime Minister's own past misconduct. He dismissed an allegation of his groping with “she experienced it differently”. Then there was the bullying on the floor here during a vote, hitting an opposition member in the chest.
    Where the honour and dismissing have to come from is from the top, and that begins with the Prime Minister, who has dishonoured our entire country.
    Madam Speaker, Canada's military is in crisis on the defence minister's watch. An institution that has been revered for over a hundred years, Canada's military has liberated occupied nations, fought for democracy, freedom and peace, and brought honour and respect to our country and Canadian citizens. Now it is facing some of the darkest days in its history.
    Canada's military is entrusted with protecting and preserving Canadian values, but it must also embody them. However, serious abuse of power, sexual misconduct and discrimination at the highest levels in Canada's military continue unchecked, and the defence minister and the Prime Minister have failed to act. That is why today's opposition day motion calls on the House of Commons to censure the Minister of Defence, and why it is so important.
    Members of the government will cry that today's motion amounts to nothing more than petty partisan politics. That, in itself, is evidence that the current government understands neither its sworn obligation, nor the dire situation that Canada's military is in.
    Members of Parliament are elected to govern, and governing is much more than merely passing laws. Governing, at its most fundamental, is about ensuring that those entrusted with leading the country embody the values of honesty and integrity that Canadians expect, and are held to account when they have broken that most sacred trust.
    In his direction to ministers in 2015, the Prime Minister charged them with “[c]reating the culture of integrity and accountability that allows [them] to earn and keep the trust of Canadians”. The Prime Minister went on to say, “Whether a Minister has discharged responsibilities appropriately is a matter of political judgment by Parliament.” Therefore, any attempt to characterize today's opposition day motion as partisan or petty politics must be vehemently rejected. It is the role of Parliament to judge a minister, and not one we take lightly. Today, this House of Commons is fulfilling that most difficult and serious responsibility.
    The defence minister has not acted with integrity and accountability. Instead, he has consistently misrepresented the facts, refused to answer direct questions, failed to implement important changes to improve the military's culture and turned a blind eye to serious allegations.
    In 2018, allegations of serious misconduct were made against the former chief of the defence staff, General Vance. For three years, the defence minister knew, and key officials in the Prime Minister's Office, the Privy Council and the minister's office knew, and they all did nothing. No one else would have known, if two parliamentary committees, the defence committee and the status of women committee, had not decided to study this serious military misconduct.
    What Canadians have learned through the testimony at those committees and in the media has simply shaken us to our core: hours and hours of jarring testimony detailing accounts of abusive power, misogyny, rape, sexual harassment and discrimination.


    We heard testimony of investigations that were never carried out or were covered up, evidence that was lost or tampered with, and serious crimes that were pleaded down to an administrative slap on the wrist, purged from the records and simply forgotten. We heard from victims who were threatened into silence and themselves blamed for what had happened to them. They told us how their careers were destroyed and they were drummed out of the military. Perhaps most tragically, we heard from victims who believe they will never be able to get justice for what happened to them.
    To quote retired Colonel Bernie Boland, “The entire institutional weight, influence, power, intellect and knowledge is directed against [victims] rather than what it's purportedly supposed to be.... Equal justice for all is not being applied here at all.”
    All of this, in Canada's military? How could this possibly happen in a country like Canada, where justice, accountability and the rule of law are our foundation?
    The former chief of the defence staff, General Vance, the highest military officer; then his replacement, Admiral McDonald; Vice-Admiral Edmundson; General Fortin; General Rouleau; and Vice-Admiral Baines are all either under police investigation or have had to step aside for questionable conduct. Even more general and flag officers are complicit, through their actions or their silence.
     The failure of Canada's military starts at the top of the chain of command, and the top is the defence minister. Under the National Defence Act, the defence minister is responsible for the management and direction of the Canadian Forces, and it is his duty to hold those at the most senior levels to the highest standards. A military has great power. It is the one group of people in Canadian society entrusted with the ability to bear arms and to commit acts of violence on behalf of the country. In a democracy, citizens need to know that the military is held in check by our elected officials.
    The minister had a responsibility to take swift and immediate action regarding the allegations against Vance, but for three years he did nothing. While he may not have conducted the investigation himself, it was up to him to ensure that one was done. As elected officials, our loyalty is to country first, before party and before individuals; we are here to act in the best interest of the country.
     That is what we also ask of our military, and Lieutenant-Commander Trotter risked his personal well-being to do what is right. He said, “as an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces I swore an oath to Queen and country to fulfill my duties, and there's the old adage of service before self. There may be blowback. There may be career implications”. He further stated, “My personal conviction as an officer of the Canadian Armed Forces is that I will put the service and my service members above my own needs and safety.”
    Canadians rely on ministers to do the same, to put this country and Parliament before themselves and to accept responsibility when they fail to do so. However, after months of questions in the House and numerous appearances at committee, not once has the defence minister accepted any responsibility. Not once has he said he should have done something differently and, most important, not once has he committed to holding accountable those who have failed in their duty. Lasting change will only come when those who have failed are held accountable.
    Governing does not mean to delegate and disappear. It means ensuring that government departments and public servants deliver the services Canadians need, to the standards they expect and in a manner that brings honour and pride to Canada as a nation. When it comes to the conduct at the highest level of the Canadian Armed Forces, the defence minister and the Prime Minister say it is not up to them.
    If the defence minister and the Prime Minister are not responsible, then who is? The defence minister has clearly shown that he will not accept responsibility. He will not act honourably, admit he has failed in his duties and resign, and the Prime Minister will not hold him accountable and fire him. Rather than standing up for women, the Prime Minister has reinforced an entrenched and toxic military culture. His inaction has emboldened the old boys' club and denied women the opportunity to be believed.


    Women in the military have earned the right to serve equally with respect. All men and women in uniform have sworn to give their lives for their country. In return, their elected officials must vigorously ensure they are protected by Canadian values.
    Service to country is who I am at my core. My father was a major-general who served in the military. I followed him, like many others, in uniform and was honoured to wear the Canadian flag on my sleeve.
    The defence minister has lost the trust and confidence of the military and Canadians. The crisis in Canada's military will not end until the defence minister is censured. I implore all of my colleagues in the House to support this motion and censure the defence minister.
    Madam Speaker, the issue of service before self is an interesting one. I think what we are getting here today is not being done in the service of Canada, but in the service of the Conservative Party. It is looking for somebody to beat up on, which is a very political act.
    There have been misdeeds in the Canadian military, but this is not new. This was going on well before the member and I, and others, were elected in 2015. As she noted, some of this came to light through the work of committees. Where were those committees and where was the leadership of the government to permit that kind of activity and questioning the first time that General Vance's name and questions came up? Where were the committees then?
    What should we prescribe as a process going forward to ensure that committees, ministers and MPs will be properly aligned to make sure this will be dealt with and dealt with effectively so that it does not happen anymore?
    Madam Speaker, that is a very disheartening question from my hon. colleague. If the Minister of National Defence, on his watch, is not accountable for the conduct and behaviour of all the men and women in uniform, then who is?
    There can be no change if those who have failed are not held accountable. Regardless of what has occurred over the last 100 years, what is important is whether the minister can make a change in the military if he has lost the trust and confidence of the men and women in uniform and Canadians to fulfill that role.
    Madam Speaker, I honour my colleague for the efforts she makes at committee, where I have spent time with her, and in the House to fight for women in the military. The work she does is incredibly important, as is how she raises her voice for this issue.
    The motion brought forward by the opposition focuses on the Minister of National Defence. While I will support it, I wonder if the member could comment on my belief that it is not just the Minister of National Defence, but also the Prime Minister. It goes much higher than the minister. Who should be held responsible for this? Could she comment on that?


    Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague has done incredible work. It is an honour and a privilege to stand beside her as we fight for something that truly matters and is at the foundation of our country.
    There is no question that as we, in our Canadian democracy, have a government and a cabinet, the Prime Minister has an incredible role. The fact that a minister has been allowed to be derelict in his duties, while his fellow members of cabinet and the Prime Minister have stood idly by, is another failing of the government. It is not petty partisan politics. They are entrusted with governing and representing the values of Canadians. When they fail to do so, we have to be open and committed to vigorously holding them accountable.
    It is not only the defence minister who is accountable. It is the Prime Minister and cabinet as well.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her service in uniform to this country and for her leadership in Parliament. She has been doing incredible work on this issue at the status of women and national defence committees in trying to right the ship and change the culture.
    My hon. colleague has served, so she has witnessed first-hand the culture within the Canadian Armed Forces, which was described by Justice Deschamps as toxic masculinity. What do we need to do to change it?
    The hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill has 10 seconds or less.
    Madam Speaker, that is not a question that can be answered in 10 seconds or less.
    I thank my hon. colleague for his incredible work and his appreciative tone for those who have served.
    What do we need to do? We need leadership that fulfills the roles and responsibilities of the Code of Service Discipline and fulfills the honour and integrity of the office they hold. That is not limited to those in uniform. It also applies to the defence minister, the Prime Minister and cabinet. Until individual—
    We have to resume debate.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen's Privy Council.
    Madam Speaker, unfortunately, what we have been listening to is very much political partisanship. The Conservatives, in particular, have spared no expense in looking into individuals and attacking their character. We have seen that virtually since 2015, and nothing has changed. Even during the pandemic, the Conservative Party remains focused not so much on policy, but on character assassination. I am disappointed once again, but not surprised, by the behaviour of the official opposition.
    I was in opposition for many years, as I said before. Never before have I seen an opposition party attack personalities to the degree that this party has in opposition, even at a time when Canadians want us to work together. It is also disappointing to see the Bloc and the NDP join forces with the official opposition. I refer to it as “the unholy alliance”. By joining forces, they are trying to give a false impression to undermine the public's trust in our institutions.
    I served in the Canadian Forces, albeit for a short period of time of just over three years. I enjoyed every day that I served in the forces posted out in Alberta. This is a government that has demonstrated a very strong, powerful commitment to the Canadian Forces. We have seen legislation, we have seen budget initiatives and we have seen a Minister of National Defence, who I would argue is second to no other in recent memory, commit to building a stronger, healthier Canadian Forces.
    For those who have been following the debate on the floor of the House of Commons or in the committees, I will note what the unholy alliance of opposition parties is trying to accomplish. I suggest that the opposition, collectively, is feeling frustrated, and has joined forces to do what the Conservatives have been doing since 2015. It is quite upsetting that they have chosen the Minister of National Defence once again.
    I remember when Jason Kenney heckled across the chamber to say he needed translation for English. That is where things started getting pretty rough for the opposition, and Jason did not want to back down. He wanted to take his shots at the Minister of National Defence.
    As my colleague put in a question, this issue is not new. Sexual harassment and abuse of power are very serious issues in the forces. This was true back in the eighties, when I was there. I suspect members will find that they predate that time, and I suspect that they will likely continue. However, there are things we can do to minimize them and hopefully get them out of the system.
    We have a Minister of National Defence who understands the members of the forces, so when the Conservatives attack his character, I take exception to it. Virtually from day one they have been attacking this particular minister on a personal level. I note Jason Kenney again, and what I would suggest to be racial comments from him.


    Prior to being the Minister of National Defence, he was a detective with the Vancouver Police Department. Prior to that, which is how most know him quite well, he had a role in our Canadian Forces. I will expand on that a little later. He was the first Sikh Minister of National Defence and was also in command of a Canadian Army Reserve regiment. Those are just some of things people will find about the minister if they do a very basic google search. To say that he should relieved of his responsibilities or should step down is just silly.
     When I look at what we have been able to accomplish through the leadership of the minister, the investments today and the commitments for tomorrow for members of our Canadian Forces, I will compare that any day to what Stephen Harper and the Conservatives did.
     I made reference to the fact that sexual harassment did exist. There is an imbalance. There is the shame and the exploitation. They are very real. The Minister of National Defence has been very clear that we are committed to making the much-needed institutional and cultural changes that the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces need, and we continue to make that commitment.
    We have invested in the health, safety and well-being of all our defence team members. We have committed well over $200 million in the most recent budget toward eliminating sexual misconduct. The minister has indicated that we will look for ways in the coming days to ensure there is an independent system established to deal with this issue. The minister has been very clear to those who want to listen and do not have the selective hearing my Conservative friends across the way do that he has absolutely no tolerance, zero tolerance, for any form of sexual misconduct and that we acknowledge the courage of those who have come forward.
    Those are not my words. That is the sentiment of the Minister of National Defence and he has made that very clear not only to members of the Canadian Forces, but all Canadians. That is the reality. We have invested money, we have a process system that will ultimately see some tangible results, but that is not good enough for the Conservatives. They say he should have done more. It is really ironic.
     I asked the Bloc and the NDP, who say they will support this motion, about the behaviour of the leader of the Conservative Party. That is not a problem for them. I do not hear them saying anything about that. I asked them if they were going to give him a pass and they completely avoided the question. Like the buy-in on this Conservative motion, they want to focus on the minister.
    What did happen? Back in July 2015, allegations were first raised under the Conservative government. What is truly amazing is that the leader of the official opposition was one of the individuals who was made aware of the rumours of misconduct. How many questions did he ask on the floor of the House in regard to that? When did he start asking questions? It would be an interesting question for the leader of the official opposition.


    It was serious enough that the leader of the official opposition asked his staff back then to notify the then prime minister's chief of staff, who then took it to the Privy Council Office for a review. In other words, they took the very same steps our minister has taken. The primary difference might be that our minister did it a whole lot quicker than what the current leader of the official opposition did. What a double standard.
    Are the NDP, the Bloc, the unholy alliance, saying that no harassment of this degree took place over the last 10 years, that this is relatively recent and that our party is ultimately responsible? There is an institutional issue that needs to be dealt with, and this government, in particular the minister, are committed to dealing with that issue, unlike Stephen Harper and the current leader of the official opposition who both had a chance to do so.
    For the members at the standing committee, in particular those from the opposition parties, where was their interest in this issue pre-2015? Did they attempt to study the issue? Often what happens is issues come up and committees will respond to them, departments will respond to them. That is typically what would give the committee the mandate to look into things and to investigate them.
    I do not think members are naive. I believe we all understood there was a very serious issue, just like I know there are very serious issues with systemic racism in other institutions, whether it is with the RCMP or the Canadian forces. These issues exist. If the standing committee had wanted to study the issue in a truly non-partisan way, I am sure there would have been far greater progress.
    Earlier today, when we had the tabling of reports from committees, we even heard some members comment on how effective committees could be when their members worked together. With the official opposition, policy does not matter. It is how its members can tear down the government and the people who make up the Government of Canada. That is their primary objective, and today the focus is on the Minister of National Defence, again.
    I asked a question about the character of the individual. I referred to this quote earlier, a wonderful quote by Brigadier-General David Fraser, who was in charge of NATO's regional command south in Afghanistan back in 2006. His comments reference today's Minister of National Defence. He said:
     I have had the pleasure of having Constable and Major [Minister of Defence] work for me for the past nine months on OPERATION ARCHER/ATHENA, Canada’s contribution to the global war on terror in Afghanistan. I must say that Major [Minister of Defence] is one of the most remarkable people I have worked with, and his contribution to the success of the mission and the safety of Canadian soldiers was nothing short of remarkable.


    He tirelessly and selflessly devoted himself to piecing together the ground truth on tribal and Taliban networks in the Kandahar area, and his analysis was so compelling that it drove a number of large scale theatre-resourced efforts, including OPERATION MEDUSA, a large scale conventional combat operation that resulted in the defeat of the largest TB cell yet identified in Afghanistan, with over 1500 Taliban killed or captured. I rate him as one of the best intelligence officers I have ever worked with—fearless, smart, and personable, and I would not hesitate to have him on my staff at any time in the future.
    Members in my constituency look see him as a hero, and he was. Literally tens of thousands of people look up to him, and the Conservative Party wants to take him down. They are saying that it is not personal. What garbage. The NDP and the Bloc might be fooled into believing that, but I am not.
     Many thousands of people who know the Minister of National Defence do not believe it either. They understand what is taking place today. Shame on the combined unholy alliance of the opposition parties that have made the determination to try to censor a hero, a Minister of National Defence who has brought not only legislation before the House but budgetary measures to increase the funds for the armed forces, which Stephen Harper could not and did not do. I would compare the current minister of defence to Jason Kenney any day.
    Do members of the unholy alliance of opposition parties believe there should be no consequences for the current Leader of the Opposition? Had he acted based on the standards that the opposition parties are talking about today, General Vance would never have been in the position in the first place.
    At the end of the day, the opposition members had a choice. They could continue their character assassination line, something which they started back in 2015, as the records will show, going after one minister after another with a special focus on some ministers over others. It is not the first time they have called for a minister to resign. On the other hand, they could have actually talked about an issue. After all, we are in a third wave of the pandemic. Canadians are dying because of the COVID pandemic.
    Yesterday, a bogus question of privilege was raised by a member who stopped just before Private Members' Business. He still has not come back to finish it. That shows just how important the question of privilege was. I stood and said that it would be a good opposition day motion, because it was on policy. The member wanted to talk about issues affecting the pandemic, Canadians, taxation policies and so forth.
    The problem is that the opposition wants to shy away from policy. It does not want that. The official opposition wants to assassinate the character of those within cabinet and try to give a false impression. That is really unfortunate. No matter how hard that focus is, whether it is on the floor of the House or in our standing committees, this is a government that will continue to be focused on the pandemic and on ensuring Canada is in a good position to recover, no matter what sort of approach the unholy alliance of opposition parties chooses to take.
    I am very disappointed in the Bloc and the NDP. I hope that at some point they have the ability to justify their behaviour—


    It is time for questions and comments.
    The hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague opposite made a number of comments about the previous service of the Minister of National Defence. I would like to note, and if he had been listening to the speeches he would know, that nobody has attacked the service of the minister while he was in uniform. Rather, they are talking about his lack of accountability and leadership since he has become the Minister of National Defence.
    I know the member served in the Canadian Armed Forces and understands the chain of command, so I would like him to answer this very simple question. Who do the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman report to?
     As well, I would like his feedback or comments on the fact that former senior officers are reaching out to me saying the minister no longer enjoys the confidence of either the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Armed Forces. Victims are also reaching out to me, and the one word they are using to describe the Liberal filibustering at the defence committee is “brutal”.
    Madam Speaker, the same leadership the Minister of National Defence demonstrated so clearly in his days prior to entering into politics is the same leadership he brings to the Department of National Defence. As there are thousands of members in the Canadian Armed Forces, not all of them will be happy with the individuals within a government.
    The issue of sexual harassment is one of substance. It is very real and tangible. This government is doing more on that front than the previous government. That is a fact.



    Madam Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his presentation. He said he was disappointed to see the Bloc and the Conservatives joining forces in calling for the defence minister's head, shall we say.
    Does he not think that victims of harassment are the ones paying the price for these machinations to keep the minister on?
    This looks to me like an old boys' club trying to protect one of its own. Does the parliamentary secretary agree that victims are being forgotten in all this?


    Madam Speaker, absolutely not. If we were to take action to benefit the victims of the harassment taking place today in our Canadian Armed Forces, the unholy alliance of opposition parties would take a different course at the standing committee. The purpose of their current course at the standing committee has one purpose, and that is to embarrass the current minister as opposed to dealing with this very serious issue.
    This is an issue that directly affects hundreds, if not thousands, of members in the Canadian Armed Forces. I do not need to be told how important the issue is. I understand, as does the minister, which is why we would like to see more productivity on the issue rather than personal attacks.
    Madam Speaker, based on the speeches here this morning and the comments made, it is obvious to me that the Minister of National Defence served within our Canadian Armed Forces, as well as with the Vancouver Police Department, with honesty and integrity, but in 2015 something changed. In 2015, he joined the Liberal Party.
    We heard in the speeches this morning that he has misrepresented the facts and the truth, refused to answer questions and instructed Liberal members at committee to engage in meaningless filibustering. Something changed when he started running with the posse of the Liberal cabinet.
    My question for the member is this: Does he think the systemic moral corruption and rot within the Liberal Party has claimed another victim?
    Madam Speaker, unlike the member across the way, I have never experienced that rot that he talks about within the Liberals. That might be the case in the Conservative Party, but it is definitely not the case in the Liberal Party.
    The member and his colleague spoke about honesty, integrity and leadership, and those three very important characteristics, those very same attributes, are things the Minister of National Defence has brought from his previous life to the House of Commons. I believe he stands by those characteristics day in and day out, serving members of the Canadian forces, Canadians and his constituents on a daily basis.
    I find it a disgrace that the unholy alliance of opposition parties has taken this opportunity to discredit a man that deserves a lot more credit for the things he has accomplished for our country. Shame on all of them.
    Madam Speaker, the Bloc member that asked a question said that we should be concentrating on the victims, which we totally agree with. The NDP and the Bloc have said that today. If we look at the committee records, we will see time and time again that the Liberal members are the ones who concentrated on the victims.
    Unfortunately, what the other three parties concentrated on was an anonymous email that, for the privacy of the person, no one knew what was in it. Unfortunately, most of the members in the debate here do not realize that there was roughly an hour of testimony at committee on all the things this minister has done dealing with sexual misconduct, which is more than any other minister in history.
    Does the member think that it would really hurt those victims to remove the minister who has done more than anyone else, is ready to action right now and who says there is a lot more that needs to be done? That would hurt the victims the most.


    Madam Speaker, if the unholy alliance of the opposition parties really wanted to do something positive today, they could withdraw the motion. It is a disgraceful motion. They could amend it, so we could talk about the victims of sexual harassment and those who are being exploited by individuals in powerful positions.
    If there was any honour, we would see them withdraw the motion or amend the motion and deal with the subject matter, so we could talk about the victims.
    Madam Speaker, it is disheartening to listen to the member for Winnipeg North with his continued Liberal deflection, dithering and delays, which we see all too often from the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence. We are now seeing it from the parliamentary secretary himself.
    He would rather sit here and talk about how we have more victims because of the lack of action by the Minister of National Defence. When he learned of the General Vance allegations and was presented with the evidence, he pushed away from the table, turned a blind eye and covered it up for three years. He took honour out of Operation Honour by leaving General Vance in charge of the Canadian Armed Forces during that entire time.
    The member for Winnipeg North has no moral authority to come in here and try to pass judgment, when he should be standing up and saying, “Yes, we need to censor the Minister of National Defence. Yes, we believe in ministerial accountability.” If he will not do the honourable thing and tell him to resign as the Minister of National Defence, then will he tell the Prime Minister to fire him?
    Madam Speaker, the member is wrong. He is absolutely and totally wrong. This is how a double standard is applied. This is a member from the Conservative Party who believes that the Conservative Party did absolutely no wrong, yet they are the ones who actually found out about the allegations in the first place. Had they done their job according to their standards today, he never would have been there.
    An hon. member: Wrong.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, we have this problem today because the official opposition is not applying the same standards to the Leader of the Opposition when he was in a position of authority to deal with the issue that it is applying today to this minister. That is called hypocrisy.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During the response from the member for Winnipeg North, somebody on Zoom yelled out, “Wrong.” We cannot do that. We are not supposed to interject. Would you like to remind members that they should not be doing that?
    Yes, we certainly want to remind members to keep their microphones off when it is not their turn to speak.
    The hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Calgary Shepard.
    Normally when I rise in the House, I am very pleased to put words on the record about all the issues we talk about here, but today I rise with extreme frustration and disappointment concerning the sexual misconduct in the Canadian military, the lack of results from the Liberal government and the failure of the defence minister to take this issue seriously.
    The Conservative motion on the table today rightfully calls for the resignation of the defence minister because of his record on this issue, and because of the men and women in our Canadian Armed Forces who have been sexually exploited and who he has let down.
    I listened intently to the minister's speech today in response to our motion. I was waiting and hoping that he would express regret for his record on failing to address sexual misconduct in the military, but he did not. There was no personal acknowledgement that he had thus far failed to send a clear message to the most powerful men in our military, who report to him, that this behaviour will not be tolerated and that this culture is no longer acceptable.
    The minister has been in charge of our military for over six years, yet in that time, and especially in the last five months, we have seen eight senior ranking military officials resign in disgrace over allegations of sexual misconduct under his watch. In the five months since the scandal concerning General Vance broke, who at the time was the head of our military, it has only gotten worse.
    Most recently, Canadians learned that the man who has authority over the investigation of sexual misconduct went golfing with the man accused of that misconduct. After five months of headlines, they thought it would be okay to go golfing together, which is the clearest violation of conflict of interest that I have ever heard of.
    When I saw that headline the other day about the golfing scandal, it truly sickened me to know how little has really changed after the last five months of repeated headlines and conversations about this scandal. I cannot imagine how that headline was received by the men and women in the military who have been raped, abused and mistreated by their superiors, and for them to know that nothing has changed.
    This was after the minister answered dozens and dozens of questions in the House, in committee and from reporters on this issue since it broke in February. Time and time again, he has said that he is essentially proud of his progress on this issue, with that disclaimer of, “Oh, there's much more work to do, but don't worry, we'll get to it”.
    Well, the fact that the man in charge of the investigation thought it would be acceptable to go golfing with his buddy, the man accused of the misconduct, is all the information I need to know about how this Liberal minister clearly failed to pass on the message he has so proudly shared in the House of Commons with members from all parties. He is happy to say the words to reporters, to the opposition and to his voters, but he is, apparently, incapable with following through, being a leader and laying down the law. He is the head of our military. The buck stops with the Liberal Minister of Defence.
    When it comes to this culture of old boys' club men protecting each other from accountability for demeaning and disrespecting women in our military, the minister has demonstrated that he does not have the ability to follow through on his words. Otherwise, the golfing scandal would have never happened. That is why we are asking for his resignation today.
    I want to speak for a moment about what it is like for the thousands of women in uniform who have served our country, and the millions more women in Canada who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. I say women, but of course, we know that men also experience this. In fact, 30% of the sexual misconduct complaints in our military are from men, so it is important that we do not forget them. However, I can only speak from a female perspective, and that is what I will be doing today.
    I will use the example of the email that General Vance sent to his junior officer, whom he far outranked, because not only does it show what he thinks is acceptable behaviour, but it speaks perfectly to the broader issue of the power imbalances in the workplace when sexual relations are brought into it.
    A junior ranking military official met General Vance at a function, and he offered her mentorship and career advice if she ever needed it. It is pretty exciting as a young, aspiring career woman to get an offer of mentorship by a superior, especially an older man, which is very valuable.
    We live in a man's world, so we cannot put a price on that career advice, and I can imagine she was quite excited for the opportunity. However, when she emailed him for that career advice, he concluded his reply with, “Or...we could throw caution to the wind and escape to a clothing optional island in the Caribbean...I hear the beer is good there... Cheers, JV”
    Now, I do not know this woman, but I do know how she must have felt reading that email. She was probably excited to see the email pop up in her inbox, to see what he was going to say, but she opened it only to see that he was propositioning her for sex.
    Make no mistake, this happens all the time, but when it happens, when one gets a message like that, whether it is in person, a text, an email or a phone call, a woman instantly gets a pit in her stomach. It is like a vice grip. Her heart starts beating. She may start to sweat. She is sickened with anxiety and dread because she knows in that instant that everything has changed for her, but not for him.


    I am not sure whether his comment was flippant or deliberate, and I am not sure which one is worse, but with it General Vance changed the entire dynamic of that relationship. Why is that? These types of relations are against the rules in the military, which he would have well known. If these were unwanted advances, which clearly they were, now the junior member had to deal with an ordeal that she did not ask for.
    Now it is a situation that she is going to stress over. She is going to lose sleep over it and try to navigate it without damaging her career. This woman had to figure out how to push back and say she was not interested without damaging his ego. All women in this chamber will know that when a man makes advances they do not want there is that nervous laughter: “Ha, ha, so funny. Get your hand off me”. I think all the women in this chamber have probably experienced that at some point or another.
    Every woman I know certainly has had to deal with this at some point in her career, and it is particularly insidious when it is at the workplace. Perhaps there is an aggressive drunk at a bar. We know the feeling of dread and of having to try our best to let these men down gently so we do not hurt their egos. Make no mistake, I have met thousands of men who are amazing allies to women, but I have come across those insidious men in my career and in my life.
    A woman knows that if she does not tread carefully, verbal abuse can ensue or perhaps violence. It can affect her career if her name comes up for a promotion, for example, or for a new posting or new opportunity, and the old boys are talking about who they are going to pick for that promotion or that new posting. She knows that if she hurts a man's ego with her response, it might affect the reference he would give her when her name comes up. Let us be real here. That is what is going on. That is what women have to deal with when unwanted sexual advances come their way from male superiors in the workplace, and this happens all the time.
    It is particularly insidious at work because it affects a woman's career. Everything that she put work into is at stake in that ridiculous moment when someone thoughtlessly says something to her. General Vance did that to this servicewoman. He might not have given it a second thought, but if that is the case, that is how detached from reality he really is. That is how drunk on power he and his fellow high-ranking military officers really are. They have no idea what it is like for the women they do these things to.
    We know this kind of behaviour is just the tip of the iceberg. It is symbolic of a greater problem. Women have been sexually abused, raped and harassed day in and day out in our military, all while trying to do their jobs, keep their heads down and advance their careers like everybody else.
    There are land mines like this everywhere for women as they rise up the ranks in their careers. I know it. I have lived it, just like millions of other women. I am not unique, but it is real and it happens every single day.
    What is most disappointing is that the Liberal government was elected twice on its feminist promises and credentials, yet here we are six years later with no feminist change seen in our military. The defence minister has spoken at length about this, yet nothing has happened. The scandals just keep rolling out. Every day there is a new headline. These men thought that going golfing during an ongoing sexual misconduct investigation was somehow acceptable just a few days ago. That is the minister's record on this issue. That is why we are calling for him to resign.
    Before I conclude, I have two quick things to say. I want to seriously thank the Conservative members on the defence committee for their dedication and their tireless effort. I am very proud to serve alongside them. They have been tireless in their pursuit of justice for the women and men who have been mistreated in our military.
    To the men and women in our military who have suffered through this hell, and I do not choose that word lightly, I say we are with them. We have their backs and we will not stop until there is a reckoning in our Canadian military.
    I will conclude with a message to women Liberal MPs in the House. I know that they are all proud feminists, but now is the time to walk the talk. If they are going to go door to door in the next election and tout their feminist credentials, they have to stand up for women when it counts. It counts today.
    The minister has failed the women in our military. He has failed to stand up for them. He has failed to fulfill his duty and hold these powerful men accountable. He has failed to send the message that it is not okay to go golfing with the accused when an investigation is going on. There is no way around it. There is no other way they can try to spin it. That is the reality.
    I know that in their hearts the Liberal members, particularly the women, know what I am saying is correct. The minister might be a nice guy, but that is not the point. He clearly cannot fulfill his duty.
    In conclusion, the current minister has proved he cannot defend women who have been sexually harassed, raped and abused. The women in our military only need seven Liberal MPs to abstain or, better yet, vote for his resignation. He could still be an MP, but he should not have control over changing the culture in our military after he has let us down as women so profoundly. I would ask seven Liberal MPs to please consider this and do the right thing.


    Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member for her speech because she can speak from a point of experience. Certainly the empathy that she has is shared by many in the House, but the Conservative motion and the opposition support for it are even worse than that old joke: Give him a fair trial and then hang him. We cannot even be that charitable. This is not a fair trial.
     This is not a fair recounting of what this minister has done, which no minister before him had done or was willing to do in spite of the fact that we are dealing with a rot in the military that has been established for a very long time. The member would know this. It began way before this minister came into his position.
    We agree that it is this minister's job to fix whatever happened in the past for whatever reason it happened in the past. However, the member appears not to be aware of the things that minister has done and is doing. She simply discards them. Can she comment on that?
    Madam Speaker, what I am aware of is that just a few days ago, the heads of our military thought it was acceptable to go golfing, which is a clear conflict of interest. The man accused in this sexual misconduct investigation went golfing with the man who has authority over that investigation. Therefore, clearly the minister is not being effective. Clearly, the message is not being delivered to this minister. He must resign.


    Madam Speaker, here on the NDP benches we were really moved by the hon. member's speech. It is true. What woman has not had to endure that?
    As members of the status of women committee, we were trying desperately to put forward some recommendations to get the government to actually listen and move forward with substantial actions as opposed to burying their heads in the sand for yet another potentially five or six years, as it has been sitting on the Deschamps report.
    Could the member talk about some of those recommendations? The report was released today, so maybe she has not had a chance to see it, but there are strong recommendations that are coming forward. How would she like to see the government move forward on those recommendations, instead of just ignoring the problem?
    Madam Speaker, it was really great to get to know the member on the status of women committee. She is an extraordinary member of Parliament and stands up very strongly for women in this country.
    Regarding the report, I would say the minister has had six years to act on it. Clearly there has been no action, or we would have seen results and we would not have had another scandal this weekend where the most powerful military men in this country thought it was okay to get together just like the old days, as if nothing had happened.
     What I would want to see from this minister is real action and results. Just within the last week, we are seeing that has not been the case. He has had six years to make a difference and he has done nothing.
    Madam Speaker, I find the reaction on the other side of the floor just extraordinary. I thank my colleague for her passionate comments. This is not just a historical matter. It is a current matter, as is clearly shown by this latest golfing excursion.
    The last time I looked, the current government had been in power for almost six years. This minister has had his portfolio and his mandates for that same amount of time. Could the member comment on the fact that this is not just a historical matter, but a current matter?
    Madam Speaker, when I was crafting my remarks today I knew that some women and men from the military who had been sexually exploited and abused might be watching. I want to take this opportunity to say how sorry I am for what they are going through. When I was writing my remarks, I was looking to give some advice on what they could do, but the reality is that after six years there is still not a clear line of authority for reporting this kind of misconduct.
    We saw that with General Vance three years ago. When the ombudsman came forward and said there was something going on, what did the minister of defence do? He pushed himself away from the desk and said that he could not hear about this. That is what the minister of defence did when he was approached with a sexual misconduct issue. He physically excused himself from that situation, did nothing about it and never followed up.
    That is where we are with the current Liberal government. That is really the only hope that the Liberals are offering women in the military today. How disappointing that is, and I wish I could have offered something more—
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Calgary Shepard.
    Madam Speaker, it is hard to follow a member like the member for Kildonan—St. Paul. She basically made the entire case for this motion. I am not going to repeat what she said because she passionately explained to Canadians and her constituents the exact matter at hand: the minister's dereliction of duty and his failure to take command of the situation, to own responsibility for it and to do the right thing.
    This is a motion that calls for the minister's censure. The House of Commons is unsatisfied with the quality of his work. It is not enough to simply keep repeating that he is doing something. I have heard Liberal MPs say this repeatedly. The member for Winnipeg North made the best possible case that could be made in the House, and it is still not enough. I hear from constituents and read in the papers that he is just not doing enough. He has failed. He has not done the job.
    The Prime Minister refuses to relieve him of his responsibilities, so we are at a point where we have to censure a member. Earlier today the member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman mentioned that 20 years had passed since a member had been censured in the House in this manner for the performance of their duties and responsibilities to Canadians. It has been a very long time.
    The issues are the sexual harassment and misconduct allegations in the military, the treatment of Vice-Admiral Norman and the continuing cover-up of what is going on. They include misleading Canadians on the withdrawal of fighter jets in the fight against ISIS. They go on and on. The Canadian Forces are in disarray. The men and women in uniform do not have a leader who is willing to take command. At last count, eight or nine senior officers in the military had either resigned, been fired or been relieved of command duties. That is huge. We have no commander-in-chief and there is no Governor General, either. The minister is supposed to be the one responsible at the moment, and I do not think there is any faith in his ability to deliver on everything that he is supposed to right now, which is why Conservatives are asking for a vote of censure on him.
    “The first rule of politics: never believe anything until it's been officially denied.” That is a Sir Humphrey Appleby quote. There will be a Yiddish proverb at some point. I will think of one.
    The minister has denied knowing anything, but then there were internal access to information requests that came back saying the minister knew. There was a long chain of information from the Privy Council of what it knew, when it knew it and when it was informed these were #MeToo sexual harassment allegations. Now we have that information and it is unbelievable that we are here, nearing the end of June and still debating who is responsible for the failure to address these systemic problems in the senior ranks of the Canadian Armed Forces.
    Brigadier-General Gordon O'Connor served the House very honourably. He was the minister of national defence over a decade ago. He used to say that sexual harassment and misconduct issues in the military were issues of command. There is a command responsibility for senior officers to look after those in the lower ranks, and to make sure they are treated correctly by their commanding officers. Commanding officers who cannot keep control of their troops have failed in their duties of command, in just the way the minister has failed in his responsibilities of command.
    The reason I know Gordon O'Connor, a former brigadier-general, former “zipperhead” or tank commander and former minister of national defence in the House, is because I was a junior exempt staffer in his employ. I know exactly what he expected of senior officers in his ranks. That is well over a decade ago now, so I am dating myself. As my staff always remind me, there is a generational divide between them and me.
    The Yiddish proverb I am thinking of is, “Words should be weighed, not counted.” The motion has weighty words in it. Conservatives are asking for censure of a minister for his performance and failure in the conduct of his duties. He has a responsibility to the men and women in the armed forces to ensure, first, that their commanding officers do not mistreat them, and second, that he follows through on investigations to make sure they are safe from their own members in their workplace. They expect the enemy on the battlefield to be shooting at them, trying to end their lives and kill them.


    What they expect in return is that we have their backs, that the minister has their backs and that when he sends them into harm's way, he sends them with commanding officers who are able to ensure their personal safety from their own. That is a minimum requirement we should expect from the minister and the senior ranks of the military.
    I know that the member for Edmonton West will appreciate that I have gone through the minister's departmental plans that he signed off on. After question period I will refer to the departmental plans, but they show that the minister, who signs off on these documents every time they are submitted with the estimates that we have to vote on, and the military have not been taking it seriously.
     I read here, “To be determined by March 31, 2021”, and then it defers it until 2022 and future years. There are no targets in place. There is no plan in place in their own departmental plans. They have not said anything in about here fixing actual goals for dealing with the problem. They are literally kicking it down the road. They are waiting for future years to take care of this. There is talk publicly, but as for the actual plans for the civil service and what it is supposed to be doing, there is nothing there.
    After question period, I will fill members in on the rest.


    The hon. member will have three minutes and 45 seconds to complete his speech.


[Statements by Members]


COVID-19 Emergency Response

    Madam Speaker, Canadians know that I have fought hard for them in Parliament over the past several months when other parties have failed to do so. Too many times, we heard nothing but silence in Parliament over urgent issues, such as the detainment of Canadians at airports; research into promising COVID treatments like Ivermectin, which has been utilized in other jurisdictions but not Canada; the unconstitutional push for vaccine passports with no debate in the House of Commons; the use of endless lockdowns across Canada, despite the negative impact on our economy and youth mental health; the rights of workers against forced vaccinations in the workplace and, of course, the Prime Minister's famous double standard on the constitutional rights of Canadians to protest.
    I have always stood up for Canadians on these issues, just like today when I hosted a panel of Canadian doctors and professors, who are now facing extreme censorship across our nation due to their whistle-blowing on Canada's handling of COVID-19.
    I call on the government, big tech and other organizations to stop muzzling medical experts and let them share their concerns freely without fear of reprisal and censorship.

Food Waste

    Madam Speaker, Canada is currently facing an entirely avoidable crisis. Every year, we waste approximately 13 million tonnes of food, one of the highest per capita levels in the world. This wasted food creates some 56.5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions, uses 1.5 billion cubic metres of fresh water, uses land three times the size of PEI and could feed 24 million people if it were recouped. This massive waste is only made worse by the fact that four million Canadians still struggle to access healthy food. All along the supply chain, from farm to fork, are inefficiencies that end up leading to more than half of all food produced in Canada being wasted.
    It is time for the federal government to take a serious look at the avoidable crisis of food waste and develop a comprehensive federal strategy to address it.

Member for North Okanagan—Shuswap

    Madam Speaker, as this parliamentary sitting nears conclusion, I stand in appreciation of Canadians I have been honoured to work with through the challenges of the past 16 months.
    I send my thanks to my team in Ottawa and at home in the North Okanagan—Shuswap. To Joel, Chelsea, Mary, Penny and Teresa, I give my thanks for being on the front line of the thousands of calls, emails and letters the office has received. Working as a team, they have consistently gone that extra mile to assist constituents with professionalism.
    I also want to thank the good people of the North Okanagan—Shuswap for their patience and co-operation as my team and I worked with them through the challenges of stranded travellers, lost jobs, struggling businesses, separated families and more. As we move into the summer months and beyond, my staff and I will continue to be available to them all.
    To everyone, I wish a safe, healthy and happy summer.


Summer Festivities in Montreal

    Madam Speaker, the good weather is here, and Montreal is coming out of lockdown. Our patios and shopping streets are bustling. After these long and difficult months, it feels so good to be able to get together and celebrate life. Nothing says summer in Montreal like festivals.
    With the MURAL Festival, the Festival des musiciens du monde, the MAPP Festival, the Montreal St-Ambroise Fringe Festival, the Festival international Nuits d'Afrique, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and many others, Montreal will truly be celebrating this summer.


    We still need to be cautious. We still need to respect our local health and safety measures, but we also need to celebrate. We need to celebrate everything that makes life worth fighting for and worth living: our families, our friends, our art, our culture.
     I am so proud of our community, from the live music on the rooftops of Pop Montreal to the free delivery service of the COVID-19 Help Hub, to moms baking for local food banks and chalk rainbows in every alley and driveway. Our community came together—
    The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean.


Raïf Badawi

    Madam Speaker, this afternoon in Montreal, people gathered at the urging of Amnesty International to once again demand the release of Raïf Badawi. I say “once again” because Mr. Badawi has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for nine years now, without having committed a single crime. For nine years now, his wife Ensaf and his three children have been hoping that the Canadian government would take action to reunite their family, but nothing is being done.
    We actually thought that the process would speed up in January, when the House unanimously demanded that the federal government grant Raïf Badawi Canadian citizenship. However, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has done nothing. If this continues, Mr. Badawi will serve his entire unjust sentence before Ottawa takes the slightest measure to facilitate his release.
    Enough is enough. There are four days left in the session. The House has been asking the minister to grant Raïf Badawi citizenship for five months. His wife and family have been waiting for him for nine years. The minister must do his job.


Summer in Madawaska—Restigouche

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that our borders are finally open, and we are really beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel after many months of discipline, sacrifice and patience.
    This summer is the perfect time to come and discover the people in my region. I invite everyone to come and experience our indigenous, Acadian, Irish and Scottish cultures, and enjoy the festivals that will be taking place throughout my riding this summer.
    Whether travelling solo or with family or friends, everyone is invited to come taste the beers crafted by our microbreweries, feel the salt winds of Chaleur Bay, and bask in the tranquility of our beautiful lakes. Enjoy the lull of the current carrying their kayak down our majestic rivers or the thrill of a mountain bike ride on one of our woodland trails through the heart of the Appalachians.
    We invite our beloved neighbours, friends and relatives to visit, or revisit, our beautiful riding of Madawaska—Restigouche.
    I wish everyone a great summer. As La Sagouine would say, “v'nez nous ouère”. For those who do not speak Chiac, that means come and see us.


George Carsted

    Mr. Speaker, teacher, soldier, husband, father, patriot and Reform Party volunteer. That was George Carsted, who passed away peacefully at the age of 90. George immigrated to Canada in 1951 from Germany.
    While he was a patient at McKellar General Hospital in Fort William, he charmed his future wife Helen, who was a nurse on his ward. They would be happily married for 64 years. George became a teacher and got his first teaching job at Glenlawn Collegiate in 1958 in Winnipeg. Later, he became the principal of Hasting Junior High and then Glenwood School.
    While still a teacher, he took on a second career with the army reserves. He was the commanding officer of The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada for a time and then Colonel Carsted ended his military career as deputy commander of the Militia Area Prairies in 1981.
    George and Helen retired to Calgary to be closer to family. To Caroline, Frederick, Elizabeth, Eric, my friend Douglas, and to his 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, please accept the eternal gratitude of this nation.

Residential Schools

    Mr. Speaker, the Kamloops Indian Residential School on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory operated for almost 100 years before it was finally closed in 1978.
    Indigenous children stripped from their lands and their families were brought there and to hundreds of schools like it and subjected to a cultural genocide.
    The discovery of 215 children buried at the school grounds was yet another stark remember of the horrific intergenerational legacy of the residential school system. It also underscores the ongoing oppression and systemic racism this country must confront in order to meaningfully walk the path of truth and reconciliation.
    Like so many, I have been moved by the outpouring of grief and the support of communities. In Milton, 11 students, nine of whom are indigenous, set up a memorial outside the Town Hall. They placed candles and 215 pairs of shoes surrounding a pair of moccasins and participated in a moment of silence for the children who never made it home.
    This was an act of reconciliation to remember and commemorate the lives and cultures lost. It was a deep act of respect that was educational for many, very meaningful and represented a step forward on the path of meaningful reconciliation, and I thank them for that.

COVID-19 Vaccines

    Mr. Speaker, Canada now leads the world in first-dose vaccinations against COVID-19, with more than 72% of eligible Canadians having received at least one dose. All vaccines approved for use in Canada are free; they are safe and effective, and all of them will help us get back to the activities and the people we have missed so much.
    More than 30 million vaccine doses have been administered to Canadians and we have delivered more than 33 million doses to provinces and territories. These milestones are a true team Canada achievement. Our government will continue to go above and beyond to ensure every Canadian who wants to be is fully vaccinated.
    On July 7, I will be getting my second shot, and I would like to encourage all to get their second shot as soon as they become eligible. A return to a more normal life is nearing. We are not there yet. We must all continue to follow public health measures like physical distancing, wearing a mask and reducing non-essential outings to a minimum.
    Let us end this crisis together.


Small Business

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the small business owners in my riding and across the country who have been working so hard to stay afloat throughout the pandemic. Our communities are better and stronger places to live because of their tenacity and commitment to weathering this storm.
     That said, on behalf of Manitoba business owners, I want to express their disappointment and frustration over how the Liberal government continues to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses, especially in the catering, hospitality, travel and tourism sectors, remain shuttered because of the Liberal government.
     Just today, one of my constituents said, “All I ask of the government is to quit making us beg to open.” They made the sacrifices and took on mountains of debt to get through this crisis. However, the Liberal government’s slow reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of forward planning and late rollout of vaccines and rapid testing are directly responsible for the delayed reopening of our economy and the ongoing suffering of small businesses.
     Canadians deserve a government with a plan to secure their futures. Unfortunately, Liberal ministers have repeatedly ignored their phone calls and emails. Canadians deserve better.


    Mr. Speaker, this year marks Peru's 200th anniversary of independence. Peru is Canada's third-largest bilateral trading partner in Latin America, with Canadian exports in Peru reaching $871 million in 2020 and Canadian merchandise imports from Peru reaching $3.7 billion.
    In December 2020, the Peruvian Canadian Institute was launched in partnership with me and Dr. Kevin McCormick, president of Huntington University. It fosters friendship between countries and brings together leaders to collaborate on important topics such as education, politics, trade, culture, environmental sustainability and gender equality.
    I encourage all members of the House to join ParlAmericas's international activities to strengthen our strong ties with Caribbean and Latin American countries like Peru.
    I would like to congratulate the people of Peru on the important historical milestone.


Domestic Violence

    Mr. Speaker,

It starts in school:
A tug of the hair
Some crass language
A first love, without love, without respect
Not to worry, boys will be boys...
And it continues
A new relationship, passionate, but unhealthy
Love serves as bait, but has no soul
That first love planted a seed, now growing strong
The respect comes and goes, and then just goes
Kind words become unkind
Whispered words become screams
Connection becomes disconnected
A gentle touch, now but a memory
Replaced by bruised skin, bruised heart
The love is gone, control's all that remains
Isolation, devastation
13 women were killed in Quebec
13 lives lost to a treacherous love
I can no longer stand by and hold my tongue
I can no longer ignore this violence.
To colleagues and Canadians alike:
We cannot pretend we don't see
The cries, the tears, the noises, the bruises
Are not all harmless
Perhaps a sign of something wrong
We cannot close our eyes
If we're to save that 14th woman,
Who's now suffering in silence, hoping a neighbour
Will see the signs
And put an end to the deadly cycle
Of domestic violence


Government Policies

    Mr. Speaker, ordinary Canadians are being left behind by the Liberal government. Inflation is out of control. Prices are skyrocketing. Wages are down. Unemployment is rising. Businesses are closing. When Canadians look at their country, they no longer see it as a place where they could build something for the future. That is on the Liberals.
    They have turned Canada into a country where it has become impossible to succeed. Inequality is rampant and opportunity is nowhere to be found. Young families cannot afford to buy a home. People are losing their jobs. Taxation, red tape and restrictions are stifling and shuttering businesses across the country. Success is no longer determined by hard work. It is something only well-connected Liberals and the wealthy can achieve.
     Canadians need hope. They need assurance that there is a future for them. That is what the Conservatives are fighting for. Canadians are counting on us to secure their future, and we will not give up.


Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday General Motors announced a 75% increase in investment in electric vehicles to $35 billion. GM will accelerate construction of two new electric battery plants in the U.S., in addition to the plants in Ohio and Tennessee that are now being built. None are in Canada.
    With the entire auto sector having a once-in-a-generation investment cycle, which will impact us for many decades as vehicles will be produced, Canada's lack of a national auto policy is leaving workers behind, and our country is at risk of losing the industry that built our middle class. We cannot and should not depend solely on the impressive union contract negotiations that Unifor has achieved to secure any new investment. For the past 19 years, as a member of the House, I have been advocating for a national auto strategy and warning about what would happen without one. While other countries of the world have implemented theirs, our vehicle production has continued to decline year after year.
    As we have seen with the pharmaceutical, medical device, PPE and technology sectors, once manufacturing leaves it is extremely difficult to bring back, and the pandemic has exposed the consequences. Canada needs a national auto policy immediately to secure our workers, our industry and our country's future.


Édith Cloutier

    Mr. Speaker, on May 15, the Institut national de la recherche scientifique awarded an honorary doctorate to Édith Cloutier. This is her second honorary doctorate, after the one she was awarded by Concordia University in 2018.
    Ms. Cloutier has been the executive director of the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre for more than 32 years and also served as chair of the board of directors of Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue. She was the first indigenous woman to hold this position at a Quebec university.
    She is credited with implementing practical projects for the urban indigenous community such as the Minowé Clinic, a model of indigenous health care services in Quebec. Ms. Cloutier has received many accolades from governments, community organizations and universities, including the Ordre national du Québec in 2006 and the Order of Canada in 2013.
    I congratulate Ms. Cloutier, and I thank her for all her work on behalf of members of first nations and indigenous peoples.


The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians cannot afford more of the same from the Prime Minister and his Liberal government. As we turn the corner on the pandemic, Canadians need paycheques and opportunity. However, for my constituents whose paycheques depend on the Canadian energy sector, more of the same from the Liberal government is actually detrimental. With their livelihoods already under attack long before the pandemic, more of the same from the Prime Minister means more job losses and even less opportunity.
    Only Canada's Conservatives have a five-point plan to secure the future. It includes job creation and economic recovery in every region and every sector of this country. Canadians who can afford not to worry about their jobs have four parties to choose to from. However, for everyday Canadians who care about securing Canada's economic future, there is only one choice: Canada's Conservatives.


Vimy High School Graduates

    Mr. Speaker, as this school year draws to an end, I would like to congratulate the graduates of the secondary schools in my riding, including École Saint-Martin and École Saint-Maxime and Laval Senior Academy, on their amazing achievement.
    Obtaining a diploma is no small feat, and here in the House we recognize the unique challenges that these students have had to overcome and the sacrifices they have made to get to where they are today.
    As they celebrate this milestone and think about the next chapter in their lives, I encourage them to continue being curious, compassionate, engaged and bold. They should not be afraid to break down barriers, shatter glass ceilings and work towards a future that is just, equitable and sustainable for all.
    I wish them all the best as they embark on this incredible journey, and I hope they will have a safe and happy summer.


[Oral Questions]


National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, let us review. The minister falsified his service record, turfed Admiral Mark Norman, bought used fighter jets, slashed health care for military personnel and covered up sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces after a complaint by a woman in uniform three years ago.
    Will the minister finally resign?


    Mr. Speaker, I will start with what matters most to me and to our government. No woman should be sexually harassed at work. No woman in the Canadian Armed Forces should be sexually harassed while serving her country. We must change the toxic culture in the Canadian Armed Forces, and we will do just that.


    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will not fire the defence minister. The defence minister will not do the honourable thing and resign. The military has no respect for its minister, and the hard-working people of Vancouver South have lost confidence in him.
    Canadians cannot afford more of the same corruption from the defence minister. Therefore, I urge all my Liberal colleagues to vote in favour of censuring him for his conduct, and join the Conservatives in sending a clear message to the women who serve their country that we are demanding better and demanding a change at the top.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to start with what is most important to me and our government, which is that no woman should be sexually harassed in Canada. That is particularly true when it comes to Canada's brave women in uniform. To those women I would like to say directly that there is clearly a toxic culture in our armed forces and that must change. Our government has full confidence in our Minister of National Defence.
    Mr. Speaker, if the Deputy Prime Minister is concerned, she should realize the toxic culture starts with the Prime Minister, the defence minister and the chief of staff. For three years, everyone in the Privy Council Office and the Prime Minister's Office knew of these allegations. The Deputy Prime Minister has an office in the same building.
     If she is sincere about ending the toxic culture she just talked about, after three years of failing the woman who came forward, how can women in the Canadian Armed Forces possibly have any faith in the defence minister to do his job after he failed them so badly for three years?
    Mr. Speaker, our Minister of National Defence is an inspirational trailblazer and we are proud to have him on our team. I would like to share with the House and Canadians some examples of the minister's work that I saw first-hand as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He defended Canada's national interests during the Trump administration in the face of charges that our steel and aluminum tariffs posed a national security threat. We worked together at NATO to pledge Canada's support for the Baltic states and for Ukraine, and to build the training mission in Iraq. This is the track record of our Minister of National Defence.


Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed in the minister's response. The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians is not accountable to the House. The committee has no authority to look into an ongoing investigation. The rules make that clear. The cover-ups need to end.
     When will the Prime Minister turn the Winnipeg lab documents over to the House?
    Mr. Speaker, our government has a lot of respect for the House of Commons. We understand that the House and its committees have a job to do and should have all the information they need to do that job. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that national security is a priority for our government.


    Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister is wrong. The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians is not allowed by law to review active investigations. The committee is now being used as a political tool by the Prime Minister to cover up the Winnipeg lab incident.
    The Conservatives will never be complicit in this Liberal corruption and will bring accountability back to Ottawa. That is why today I am informing the government that Conservative members of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians will be withdrawing their participation effective immediately.


    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, the Liberal government will never play games with Canadians' national security. We will continue to operate in a way that protects the privacy and security concerns of Canadians, and that is why the Public Health Agency of Canada has provided fully unredacted documents to the committee. I am sad to hear that the Conservatives will not participate in such an important process.


Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the House of Commons acknowledged the fact that Quebec constitutes a nation and that French is its only common and official language. It stands to reason, then, that the House of Commons also voted in favour of applying the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated businesses. Indeed, Quebec's demand to be the master of its language policy is consistent with its unique reality as a French-speaking nation.
    Yesterday, the House of Commons requested that Bill 101 be applied. Why does the Liberal Party continue to oppose that? It is alone in doing so.
    Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that we will continue, along with every Quebecker, every francophone in the country and every Canadian, to protect and promote the French language in Canada.
    Why? Because French is a minority language that needs more than just a helping hand; it needs our attention. With our new historic official languages bill, we will further protect the beautiful French language and take steps to recognize new linguistic rights for francophones and linguistic minorities in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, note that yesterday, when the House almost unanimously agreed that Quebec is a French-speaking nation, 10 Liberals from the greater Montreal area abstained from voting and refused to acknowledge that Quebec considers itself a nation whose official language is French.
    I would also point out that, yesterday, the Liberals were the only ones to vote against Quebec applying its Charter of the French Language to federally regulated businesses.
    Are the Liberals obstructing the clear solution that seeks to promote French at work in order to please some of their own, for whom these—
    The hon. Minister of Official Languages.
    Mr. Speaker, either my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois want to protect and promote French with the government or they want to push their plan for Quebec's independence and pick a fight with Ottawa. It is up to them, but Quebeckers and Canadians see right through their games.

Government Programs

    Mr. Speaker, in the middle of the pandemic, what brilliant idea did the Liberals come up with? They cut the Canada recovery benefit by $800 a month beginning in July. That means it will drop from $500 a week to $300 a week.
    Are the Liberals really that heartless? Entire sectors, such as arts, culture and tourism, are still struggling.
    Will the Liberals finally come to their senses and reverse the cuts to the Canada recovery benefit, yes or no?


    Mr. Speaker, the CRB is part of a comprehensive set of emergency and recovery measures to support Canadian workers and businesses. Through the CRB, if opposition parties support Bill C-30, Canadians can have access to up to 50 weeks of benefits. Canadians can also have access to more flexible EI benefits. Businesses can continue to have access to the wage subsidy, and we can help Canadians re-enter the labour market by creating 500,000 new training and work opportunities and launching the Canada recovery hiring program.
    This is what is at stake when the opposition does not help get Bill C-30 through.
    Mr. Speaker, in just a few weeks, the Liberals are planning on cutting vital money that Canadians need. Those receiving CRB benefits will soon get $800 less per month. The Liberals are forcing them to live on only $1,200 per month, and that is simply not enough. People who needed the CRB in January are going to need it in August. Thousands of Canadians are scraping by. They will have to make difficult decisions just to get by.
    Will the minister commit to reversing this decision, which will have devastating impacts on two million Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the CRB is helping and has helped two million Canadians, and at present Canadians have access to 38 weeks under the CRB. If opposition parties do not support Bill C-30, Canadians will end their benefits in the weeks to come. We can reverse that. We can pass Bill C-30. We can give Canadians the extra weeks they deserve, give them more flexible access to EI, and give them access to the wage subsidy and 500,000 training and work opportunities.


National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's military is in crisis on the defence minister's watch. There have been hours of jarring testimony detailing accounts of abuse of power, rape, sexual harassment and discrimination. Numerous generals are under investigation, others complicit through their actions or their silence. However, the defence minister will not accept any responsibility. He will not do the honourable thing, admit he has failed in his duties and resign.
    Will the Prime Minister act and fire his defence minister?
    Mr. Speaker, we will continue to work very hard to look after our women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces. The horrible allegations that have come forward are extremely alarming and we must work harder. The work we have done in passing Bill C-77 is one of the first steps, also SMRC and the work that is being done there, plus the work that Madam Arbour will also do. We will get this done.
    Mr. Speaker, the defence minister has consistently misrepresented the facts, refused to answer questions, failed to implement important changes to improve the military's culture and turned a blind eye to serious allegations of misconduct. The Prime Minister directed his ministers to create a “culture of integrity and accountability that allows [them] to earn and keep the trust of Canadians”. The defence minister has been derelict in his duty and has lost that trust.
    Will the Prime Minister act and fire the defence minister?
    Mr. Speaker, I respectfully and completely disagree with the member's assertions. Any allegation that has ever been brought forward was immediately taken to the appropriate authorities. We want to make sure that when survivors come forward, they are heard and they are supported. That is exactly the work that we started back in 2015 when we came into government, and we will continue this work because we know that we have a lot more work to do.


    Mr. Speaker, since taking office, the defence minister has been making decisions that defy logic.
    His government promised to help the victims of ISIS, and yet what was one of the first decisions this minister made? He decided to pull our CF-18s out of the bombing campaign against ISIS. That campaign was protecting the victims.
    Can the minister tell us the real reason for the withdrawal of our CF-18s from the fight against ISIS?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question because I also briefed him on the plan on how ISIS was going to be defeated on the ground working with our coalition partners, and that is exactly what we did. We increased our troops contributions on the ground. We increased our intelligence support, because that is what our coalition partners asked for. Now, 98% of the territory is not controlled by lSIS. We also took a regional approach. Our plan worked because we worked with our allies by supporting our troops on the ground.


    Mr. Speaker, that does not answer my question. What is the real reason? We do not know.
    I have another question. This minister oversaw the wrongful indictment and unconscionable dismissal of Vice-Admiral Norman. When Norman stood up to defend Davie's construction of the MV Asterix, the minister did the Prime Minister's bidding rather than think of the best interests of the Royal Canadian Navy.
    That is absurd. Can the minister tell us the real reason for the accusations made against Vice-Admiral Norman?


    Mr. Speaker, talk about supporting the navy. The previous government allowed our two joint supply ships to be lost. We lost that capability. When it came to the interim supply ship, I supported this work. Our government approved it, got it done, but more importantly, we put the money into the defence policy so we can buy two brand new joint supply ships, and they are being built right now as we speak. Plus, we are also equipping the navy with the Arctic and offshore patrol ships, six of them, and 15 surface combatants, because we put the money there to serve our troops.


    Mr. Speaker, when Major Kellie Brennan appeared before the status of women committee, she told the committee that General Vance told her he was “untouchable” because he owned the CFNIS. Now it has been revealed that while under investigation he went golfing with Vice-Admiral Baines and Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau, who himself held oversight authority for the military police. Given these startling revelations, when will the minister finally follow through with the Deschamps report recommendations and create a fully independent external investigation body?
    Mr. Speaker, no person in Canada is above the law. The military police and the NIS are independent of the chain of command. When it comes to the incident of the golf course, the acting chief of the defence staff has also, as the member knows, advised me that the vice-chief of the defence staff is no longer in his role.
    We know that we have a lot more work to do, and we will get it done. We have accepted Justice Fish's recommendations.
    Mr. Speaker, when Vice-Admiral Norman was under investigation, the minister immediately had him suspended. Meanwhile, when the minister became aware that the former chief of the defence staff was under investigation, he refused to even look at the evidence, left him in his role, and even gave him a pay raise.
    Given that General Vance believes that he is above the law, and given the minister's refusal to act, does the minister also believe that General Vance is above the law?
    Mr. Speaker, I completely disagree with the assertions that the member has made. Any allegations that were ever brought to my attention were always taken to the immediate authority. No politician should ever get involved in an investigation. No politician should start an investigation, especially on the Canadian Armed Forces members, as the previous government used to do.


Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Official Languages keeps repeating that the Charter of the French Language and her bill do the same thing. She says that someone protected by Bill C‑32 has the same rights as someone covered by the Charter of the French Language.
    However, when Minister Jolin-Barrette says that the Quebec law must apply to everyone, the minister digs in her heels. When the House voted for Quebec's federally regulated businesses to be subject to the Charter of the French Language, she voted against it.
    My question is simple: Why did she vote against it if it is the same thing?
    Mr. Speaker, I think that my colleague should read Bill C‑32. She would get a good answer to her question.
    Essentially, 55% of businesses that have already complied with Bill 101 in Quebec will have the right to continue under the same system, and those that have not can decide to do so at that time.
    Naturally, we want to protect the right to work in French, the right to be served in French and the right not to be discriminated against for being a francophone in Quebec as well as in regions with a strong francophone presence.
    My colleague will also recognize that within federalism, the federal government must have a national role and an approach that protects all francophones. That is the objective—
    The hon. member for Saint‑Jean.
    Mr. Speaker, our bill says that the Charter of the French Language applies to federally regulated businesses in Quebec. The minister recognizes that Quebeckers form a nation, that Quebec has a single official language and that French is the common language of the Quebec nation. She should therefore be able to understand that, as a francophone nation, Quebec must have a single language regime.
    Why is the minister opposed to the Charter of the French Language applying to all Quebeckers?
    Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague, and I can see that our objectives are aligned. We both want to protect the French language in Quebec. Now, we want to protect it across the country too, and we will. We also want to protect linguistic minorities, including francophones outside Quebec and anglophones in Quebec.
    My colleague should be happy. For the first time ever, the federal government is stepping up and protecting the French language. That is why I encourage her to vote in favour of Bill C‑32 on official languages.
    Mr. Speaker, I am trying to understand where the minister stands on the language issue.
    There are two systems: One is for the very large majority of Quebeckers, who are protected under the Charter of the French Language. The other is for about 200,000 workers in federally regulated businesses. These are the people Bill C-32 seeks to help.
    My question is simple: Between Bill C‑32 and the Charter of the French Language, which one is more effective in protecting the right to work in French?


    Mr. Speaker, that is not for me to say. The Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and all the unions that represent workers in Quebec are in favour of the bill. We can see that there is a very large consensus in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada to protect these rights.
    Therefore, I think the federal government is doing its job and assuming its responsibilities, and the reform we presented is ambitious. It is a robust bill, and I hope the Bloc Québécois will be able to acknowledge this work and, of course, support the bill.


Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, orders of the House and its committees are binding and must be complied with, just like Canadians have had to comply with public health orders about quarantining. Your ruling yesterday made it clear the government was defying three orders of the House and its special committee.
    Will the government now comply with these orders and deliver the unredacted documents to the law clerk before the House has to adopt a fourth order demanding the government comply?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, we see the Conservatives playing games with national security. On this side of the House, we will never do that. In fact, the Public Health Agency of Canada has provided fully unredacted documents to the appropriate committee of parliamentarians with the appropriate security clearance. I have written to the committee to suggest that if it were to study this issue, that would be appropriate.


    Mr. Speaker, I am not playing games. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Minister of Health has been telling Canadians to do what public health tells them to do. However, she insists on not doing what the House is asking her to do, and that is to submit the documents regarding the Winnipeg lab.
    Does the government not understand that it is undermining the rule of law when it tells Canadians to follow the rules and then does not do the same?


    Mr. Speaker, I am so grateful to the public health officers across the country who have worked for so long to protect Canadians from COVID-19. In fact, I know many of them personally and I know they have done their absolute best to protect the citizens in their care. Just like them, we will never do anything to put Canadians' national security at risk.
     We will continue to be open and transparent and provide these documents to the appropriate committee, which the Public Health Agency of Canada has done. That committee has the appropriate clearance to review these documents.
    Mr. Speaker, the pandemic has laid bare the truth about our institutions; they are weak and mediocre. We have no Governor General because of scandal; the former clerk resigned in scandal; eight senior leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces have been forced out. We have a military procurement that cannot procure and payroll systems that cannot pay. Now we have a Parliament that cannot do its job, because the government defies the House.
    When will the government preserve what little remains, comply with the orders and hand over the unredacted documents to the law clerk?
    Mr. Speaker, again, on this side of the House, this Liberal government will never play games with national security, like we see the Conservative Party doing right now. The member opposite knows that there is a committee of parliamentarians that has the appropriate level of security clearance to review these documents. Those documents have been provided to that committee, fully unredacted. I have written to the committee, asking it to consider reviewing the issue.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, over the past few months, the scandal surrounding former general Vance and the Canadian Armed Forces has been a constant reminder of the lack of action and leadership from the Liberals to address the toxic culture within the military.
     Women and all service people deserve better than empty apologies and promises to do better from the minister and the Prime Minister. They deserve more than to be pushed away and dismissed as someone else's problem. They deserve action.
    Will the minister and his government please stop with the platitudes and finally implement the Deschamps report?
    Mr. Speaker, we owe it to the women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces to ensure that we create an inclusive environment. We are working not only to implement the report of Madame Deschamps, but also Justice Fish's report on the military justice system and Madame Arbour and the work she will do, when it comes to the recommendations on the culture change that is needed, which will look at the performance evaluation system and also look at how leaders are selected and trained.


    Mr. Speaker, what the Liberals fail to understand is that they are failing women in the Canadian Armed Forces. For six years now, they have protected the men who are exhibiting this toxic behaviour, who have failed to act to stop it and who have chosen to take in a round of golf instead. The government has the responsibility and the power to act.
    When will the government take responsibility and do something? Calling for another study or report will not stop this toxic culture that continues to harm women in the military.
    Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the member opposite. When it comes to that, we need to do more. We have started, from 2015, making the changes that have been necessary, but we know they have not gone far enough, and we are willing to do more. We are willing to take in any further recommendations.
    On the recommendations that were provided by Justice Fish, we have accepted. The work that Madame Deschamps brought on highlighted the problem that is facing the Canadian Armed Forces, as will the work that Madame Arbour will be doing.
    We will be taking action. We continue the work on passing Bill C-77 and also ensuring we continue to create an inclusive environment for all in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, a person's name is fundamental to who they are. Indigenous names are endowed with deep cultural meaning and speak to indigenous peoples' presence on the land since time immemorial. However, the impact of colonialism means that many indigenous people's names have not been recognized.
    Could the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship please update the House on the progress the government has made in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action 17 to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim and use their indigenous names on all government documents?
    Mr. Speaker, supporting first nations, Inuit and Métis people in reclaiming and using their indigenous names is an integral part of the shared journey of reconciliation. We have now established a formal process for residential school survivors, their families and all indigenous people to reclaim their indigenous names on passports and other travel documents free of charge.
    Fulfilling call to action 17 means that indigenous people can proudly reclaim that which was always theirs, their names, which will allow us to continue on the road to reconciliation.

The Economy

     Mr. Speaker, inflation is on the march, and life is getting more expensive for Canadians.
    Today, economist William Robson of the C.D. Howe Institute warned that the Liberals may have gone too far with massive borrowing and spending, and they risk inflating away the value of our money. Deutsche Bank warns of an inflation time bomb. Stats Canada says that inflation is higher than it has been in over 10 years.
    Yes, inflation is on the march. When will the government finally act to make life more affordable for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, let me tell the House who is going too far. It is the Conservatives who are going too far with their partisan games and thereby threatening Canada's economic recovery.
    Canadians need the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy to be extended until the end of September. Our government wants to do that, but Conservative partisan delaying tactics are stopping us from passing the budget, and that irresponsible Conservative behaviour is the biggest threat to Canadians' well-being today.
    Mr. Speaker, the same rhetoric we heard yesterday and the day before. The minister's talking points do not make life any more affordable for the many Canadians who have seen their dream of owning a home disappear under the government. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the minister may have miscalibrated her economic policy.
    Meanwhile, the price of everything is going up, food, clothing, rent, gasoline, yet the minister and her plutocrat Liberals refuse to listen. Why is she hell-bent on hurting struggling Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, yet again, it is the Conservatives who, for reasons I cannot understand, seem hell-bent on hurting hard-working Canadians. They are hurting Canadians by depriving them of the income and business supports they so urgently need. They are hurting Canadians by depriving the provinces and territories of $5 billion to support the vaccination campaign and our health care systems that are working so hard to protect us.
    It is time for the Conservatives to stop posturing and to support the budget so we can support Canadians.



    Mr. Speaker, the finance minister should know that the real threat to Canadians is the inflation rate of 3.6%, a rate that has not been seen in 10 years.
    The minister seems to be completely unaware of the state of Canadian families' finances. Everything costs more: gas, food, houses and furniture. However, the government is not taking action because it knows very well that inflation means more money in its pockets but less in Canadians' pockets.
    Why does the Prime Minister not call his finance minister to order by requiring a credible plan to create jobs and kick-start the economy?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the biggest threat to Canada's economic recovery is the Conservatives' partisan games. The Conservatives' tactics are preventing us from passing the budget, and this irresponsible behaviour is jeopardizing the well-being of each and every Canadian.
    Mr. Speaker, I am appealing to the Prime Minister. What does he not understand when I say that everything is more expensive?
    This government has lost control of public spending. We are talking about a deficit that has now reached over a trillion dollars. This deficit is a debt that Canada has to pay back, and it is the Canadians of this generation, the one after that, the one after that, the one after that and the one after that who will pay for it.
    If nothing is done, Canadians will pay more tax on more products that will cost more. Is the Prime Minister beginning to realize that all Canadians will pay dearly for his fiscal recklessness?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand and I understand very well the serious threat posed by the Conservatives' tactics. Canada is currently in the process of reopening its economy and building a strong economic recovery. To do so, however, Canadians and Canadian businesses need the support of our budget. It is the Conservatives who are preventing us from supporting Canadians, and they need to stop.

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, when we asked the minister if she thought that her Bill C‑32 would protect French better than Bill 101 in Quebec, she said, and I quote, “Indeed, our remarks involve the entire country. Why? Because that is important. That is how we strengthen our federalism.”
    That is great for her federalism, but her bill is supposed to strengthen French in Quebec. Does she realize that she will not strengthen French in Quebec with a single approach that does not accept that French is the only official language of Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to remind my colleague that he is in the House of Commons, which is the legislative assembly of the federal parliament. As such, it is important for us to take care of Quebec and Quebeckers, francophones and anglophones and the French language, the official language of Quebec.
    However, it is also important to protect francophones outside Quebec and to give anglophones the opportunity to learn French. That is what makes our country great, what makes it work. If my colleague disagrees—
    The hon. member for La Pointe‑de‑l'Île.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is not doing a very good job of explaining how two different language regimes in Quebec will protect French better than simply applying the Charter of the French Language.
    She is sending businesses the message that they have the choice to side with Bill 101 and French or with both official languages. What is worse, she is telling all of the businesses that chose francization themselves that it is okay to make less of an effort and to take a step backward toward the government's policy of institutional bilingualism. How can she claim that she will better protect French like that?


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to reassure my colleague. Once he has read the bill, he will realize that the provisions for protecting the right of consumers to be served in French, the right to work in French and the right to not be discriminated against because one is francophone will achieve the same results in federal businesses as the linguistic regime in place in Quebec.
    Now, as the Minister of Economic Development, I am very sensitive to the issue of red tape and any type of administrative measures that will be too onerous on businesses, particularly in the midst of an economic crisis. That is why we are giving them the choice. We are safeguarding language rights while ensuring that things run smoothly and efficiently.



    Mr. Speaker, seniors who collected CERB and submitted a statement of estimated income with their GIS applications have been left in limbo. These seniors have been told by Service Canada that their applications are on hold and cannot be processed because they are awaiting direction.
     Without GIS many seniors will find themselves in serious financial hardship and some seniors stand to lose other benefits tied to the program. What is worse is that there is no indication that a decision is even forthcoming.
     How long will the Liberal government leave seniors in limbo?
    Mr. Speaker, we are keenly aware of how important GIS benefits are for seniors and because of our temporary extension, over 200,000 seniors continue to receive their GIS and allowance benefits even though they did not submit their 2019 income information. We know GIS recipients need to file their 2019 tax information as soon as possible. We have sent seniors letters and made calls reminding them to do this. We did outreach activities, such as engaging groups that serve seniors using social media to raise awareness.
    We will be there for seniors because we know how important their benefits are.


    Mr. Speaker, according to Statistics Canada, nearly half of COVID-19 deaths were immigrants at the start of this pandemic. The government botched the vaccine rollout and new Canadians lost their lives. These people came to this country for a new beginning, yet the government's repeated failed response has cost people their lives and livelihoods. Vaccination rates are still low in immigrant communities, leaving the most vulnerable in our society at risk.
    Why has the government failed our hard-working immigrant and new Canadian communities so badly?
    Mr. Speaker, first let me say that my heart goes out to everyone who has struggled with COVID-19 or lost someone to this disease.
    The member is absolutely right. We all must do better to protect people from infection with COVID-19 and that is why we have been there for provinces and territories. Let us just talk about vaccination for a minute. Over 34 million vaccines were sent to the provinces and territories. As of June 17, over 30 million doses have been administered across Canada, 65.6% of Canadians have received their first dose and more is on the way. We have also been there to help provinces and territories administer vaccines to immigrants, newcomers and other populations, and we will continue to work together to get the job done.
    Mr. Speaker, provinces have been setting out measurable goals and benchmarks for when they are lifting public health measures. This gives businesses the ability to plan for reopening. Groups like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada are urging the government for a federal plan, yet when it comes to the Liberal government's restrictions, there is only uncertainty.
    What benchmarks are the Liberals using to determine when to safely open the border with the United States to everyone, and how long will it be until we reach that point?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we have been transparent with Canadians that our first and most important job is to protect their health and to prevent against the importation of the virus. As I just mentioned to the member's colleague, over 34 million vaccines have been shipped to the provinces and territories to date, and 65.6% of Canadians have received one dose. Canada is the first in the G7, the G20 and the OECD for populations that have received at least one dose, and we are administering second doses now. That is great news for everyone because we are better protected and we can see our lives coming back.


Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, this week, the government introduced Bill C‑32, which seeks to modernize the Official Languages Act. This bill contains historic measures to protect and promote French across Canada, including in Quebec.
    Can the Minister of Official Languages tell the House how Bill C‑32 will help us achieve real equality between our two languages?


    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his excellent question and his leadership at the Standing Committee on Official Languages.
    Our Bill C‑32, essentially a modernisation of the Official Languages Act, will protect and promote French in all areas of Canadian life, in our cultural institutions, in our public service and in international relations.
    Bill C‑32 guarantees that francophones have the right to work and be served in French, whether they live in Quebec or somewhere in the country with a strong francophone presence. I hope that all parties will join us so we can quickly pass Bill C‑32.
    Mr. Speaker, this week, the government undertook the modernization of the Official Languages Act.
    I am somewhat concerned about the timing of the bill's introduction. It will be a slap in the face to all those who have been waiting a long time for this bill if the government introduced it knowing that it intends to dissolve Parliament. Only the Liberals have that authority.
    Can the Prime Minister promise now that Parliament will be back in the fall to study the bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his excellent question. He knows full well that we are a minority government and that every bill needs the support of the opposition parties.
    Given that the Conservative Party has been calling for the modernization of the Official Languages Act for years, and given that the government has now introduced a bill to modernize the Official Languages Act, my question for him is this: Will the Conservative Party support our bill, yes or no?



    Mr. Speaker, patient groups across the country have been calling on the government to delay the implementation of the PMPRB guidelines, which are set to come into force on July 1. Most of the witnesses we have heard at health committee on the subject were unanimous in their position that they want less pandemic distraction and more time for a transparent discussion, to ensure that the new regulations will do more good than harm.
    The implementation of the new regs has already been postponed twice. Will the minister postpone the regs again, as requested by patients?
    Mr. Speaker, we have done a tremendous amount of work to lower drug prices in this country and we will continue to work with all stakeholders to do that. Canada has among the highest patent medicine prices in the world and these high prices negatively affect the ability of patients to access new medicines.
    We will continue to work with all stakeholders to make sure that we can drive these prices down so that all Canadians have access to effective medication.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence has responded to several questions today in the House, but will not respond to my questions and I ask if he would. As someone who has served his country, he knows the military slogan, “Never pass a fault.” That is what he is doing with his failed leadership. He is the only original minister of the Liberal government. He has had six years, three Supreme Court justice reports, two ombuds reports, eight generals who have resigned, the last two chiefs of the defence staff under investigation, and he gives words like, “We need to do better; we need to do more.” We do, but we need a new minister with the confidence of Canadians to do that.
    Will he resign?
    Mr. Speaker, speaking of not passing a fault, maybe the member should ask himself this: What action did he take when General Vance was appointed and went under an investigation?
    We will not take lessons from the member opposite when it comes to service of this country. I also served my country and I take very seriously looking after our people. That is why we increased our budget for the military and put people number one. Why I say we need to do more is because I also feel the pain of our members. I will do my darndest and best always for the sake of the Canadian Armed Forces until we get an environment that is inclusive and not the politics that the member opposite continually plays.

Digital Services

    Mr. Speaker, during the pandemic we have seen how important our digital capacity is in order to respond to the urgent needs of Canadians. Our government rose to the occasion and ensured that they received the benefits and the programs they needed in a timely fashion. We do know, though, that there is more work to be done.
    Can the Minister of Digital Government update this House with her plans to continue the important work in providing critical digital delivery of services to Canadians?


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Fleetwood—Port Kells for his hard work.
     Our digital response to COVID showed that we are capable of moving very quickly to bring critical programs and services to Canadians when and how they need them. My newly released digital government strategy is about modernizing how we build and manage IT, improve the service experience of Canadians, collaborate using secure tools and data, and change how we work to better meet the digital expectations of Canadians. It is about government services that are secure, reliable and easily accessed, including from any device.

Airline Industry

    Mr. Speaker, we have just learned that the U.S. department of transport is fining Air Canada $25 million for failing to promptly refund passengers. By comparison, the Liberal government did nothing for over a year while Air Canada sat on billions of Canadians' hard-earned dollars. The minister repeatedly defended the airlines. Then, over a year after the pandemic began, the government turned around and loaned Air Canada the money to finally pay back passengers.
    The U.S. stands up for its citizens. The Liberal government stands up for corporations. Why is that?
    Mr. Speaker, our government stands up for our citizens and passengers. We understand that the pandemic has been hard on everyone. This is why we made significant progress in securing refunds for Canadians. My colleague knows about the deal that we have signed with Air Canada and Air Transat, and we are working on signing other deals with other airlines to ensure that passengers receive the refunds they deserve. We are committed to Canadian passengers.

Diversity and Inclusion

    Mr. Speaker, in my last S.O. 31, on May 31, I talked about the excessive use of power regarding systemic racism and discrimination intra-community, and in institutions and government.
    What steps will the government and the leadership be taking to eliminate these concerns of misuse of power, not in their own self-interest, but for the best interest of Canadians at large?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak about the work that our government has been doing. Since taking office in 2015, we set out to create Canada's anti-racism strategy. It was created by Canadians informed by lived realities and experiences for Canadians. We have continued to look at our appointments process. The Prime Minister has acknowledged that systemic racism exists. It is going to take all of us to dismantle these institutions and I appreciate the member showing his support, because racism is real and we have a lot more work to do. Our government has made commitments through programs. I look forward to working with the anti-racism secretariat to ensure that we have a more consciously inclusive Canada.


    The member for Outremont on a point of order.

Points of Order

Statements by Members  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I think there was a technical problem earlier when I gave my member's statement.
    I am wondering if I could get the unanimous consent of the House to give my statement again.
    Do we have the unanimous consent of the House?
    Hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The member for Outremont.
     Mr. Speaker, the good weather is here and Montreal is coming out of lockdown. Our patios and shopping streets are bustling. After these long and difficult months, it feels so good to be able to get together and celebrate life.
    Nothing says summer in Montreal like festivals. With the MURAL Festival, the Festival des musiciens du monde, the MAPP Festival, the Fringe Festival, the Festival international Nuits d'Afrique and the Festival international de Jazz de Montréal, Montreal will truly be celebrating this summer.


    We still need to be cautious. We need to respect our health and safety measures, but we also need to celebrate. We need to celebrate everything that makes life worth living, such as our families, our friends, and our arts and culture. I am so proud of our community. From the live music from the rooftops of Pop Montreal to the free delivery service of the COVID‑19 Help Hub, to moms baking for local food banks and chalk rainbows in every alley and driveway, our community came together to take care of each other. Let us celebrate that. We have earned it.



André Gagnon

    Colleagues, in July, André Gagnon, Deputy Clerk of the House of Commons, will celebrate 31 years of service in the House.
    André needs no introduction. He has been a table officer for nearly 23 years and has served 24 different chair occupants.
    After having held positions in every area of Procedural Services, it is not surprising that he was appointed deputy clerk in September 2014.


    His experience, deep understanding of procedure, and ability to distill and explain complex procedural and administrative questions has made him a trusted source for good advice to members from all parties. Trust me, after the last couple of days, he has been a real source of knowledge for me.
    This chamber will continue to benefit from André's counsel thanks to the often-quoted third edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which he co-edited with former acting clerk Marc Bosc.


    As the vice-chair of the Association des secrétaires généraux des parlements francophones since 2006, he also helped francophone parliamentary institutions grow and flourish. He will be leaving us in a few days for a well-deserved retirement.
    André, on behalf of myself, all those who have had the honour of serving the House in the chair, MPs and employees of the House of Commons administration, I would like to thank you for your contributions to our institution. You have always served with dignity, humility, a strong sense of duty and your own brand of humour.
    I wish you and your wife, Lucie, health and happiness as you begin this new chapter of your life.
    Hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to join you in congratulating and thanking André Gagnon for his years of service to the House and members of Parliament.


    Of course, as you have said, Mr. Speaker, André has vast knowledge, wonderful professionalism and dedication. He has been truly invaluable. I know that numerous Speakers have relied on his wise advice and guidance. He has done his very best to save Speakers from themselves, and usually with success.


    I am sure he must be looking forward to spending more time with Lucie and his family and maybe riding his bike, which I have seen him do a few times. I wish him all the best in life and in the next phase of his career.
    I wish you the best, André.


    Mr. Speaker, I too would like to pay tribute to a wonderful man who I was fortunate to get to know during my time in your role as Speaker. I do not need to tell you that serving as Speaker is an extremely challenging role, but thanks to a strong support team of clerks, such as Deputy Clerk André Gagnon, Speakers are able to continue the tradition of safeguarding the rights and privileges of the House, and members continue to be served by the highest degree of professionals.
    As deputy clerk, André Gagnon has played a leadership role. If one has been around here long enough, then they likely know his big bright smile, his quick jokes and his kindness. André is serious, smart, understanding and a strong leader. He is admired by his staff and is highly respected by his colleagues. He also pulled some of the best pranks this chamber has ever seen. His work ethic and dedication to this chamber are second to none, and I know we will all miss his wisdom around here.
    The whole House administration team during my time, clerk emerita Audrey O'Brien, former clerk Marc Bosc, Eric Janse, Bev Isles, Colette Labrecque-Riel, and of course, the man of the moment, André Gagnon, were a procedural dream team. I cannot thank them enough.
    The years we spent sitting around the table in 220 north Centre Block will be forever ingrained as some of the best of my career. We debated and edited, re-edited, rewrote, redebated and re-edited more rulings than I can count, but there is no other team I would have rather done it with. André was there. He was there to support this House, his team and all members of Parliament.
    In the aftermath of the October 22 shooting, André was there with a steady hand. It was difficult. Things were changing quickly, but he was such an incredible force to help the chamber get through that, always putting the interest of the institutions first.
    In the changeover to our temporary home in West Block, the House administration had an enormous task. Much of it we might never know, but, again, André was there all along.
    Of course, Mr. Speaker, you no doubt know first-hand that, as deputy clerk, André helped lead the House of Commons administration during the pandemic. I would like to commend André and his entire team for the role they have played in ensuring that this House, this institution that is so vital to our democracy, was able to function with all the challenges that the pandemic posed.
    André, we will miss your smile, your personality, your wisdom and your experience in this chamber. We are sorry to see you go, but I am sure I speak for everyone who ever worked with you when I say we are so grateful for your service. We wish you all the very best in your post-parliamentary career.



    Mr. Speaker, it brings a tear to my eye to join my Bloc Québécois colleagues in the House of Commons in recognizing Deputy Clerk André Gagnon for his excellent work. By “colleagues”, I mean all MPs, past and present, and every Bloc Québécois staffer over the years.
    Mr. Gagnon chose to step down a little sooner than we might have liked. It was only just in 2019 that we made a vigorous comeback. All of us—the Bloc Québécois, the House of Commons, Parliament, all members and every unit of the House of Commons administration—are losing an exceptional man, a man who made his mark and whose influence will not soon be forgotten in this place.
    Mr. Gagnon is the Gagnon of Bosc and Gagnon's famous House of Commons Procedure and Practice. It is a monumental work, a manual detailing the procedure and practice of the House of Commons, and he was its co-author. It took seven years of rigorous, serious work by a rigorous, serious man.
    It is also true that, throughout his career, which began in 1998, he has had exceptional experiences. He worked closely with Audrey O'Brien, the first ever female clerk of the House of Commons. He also worked closely with the youngest member of Parliament to become Speaker of the House, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, who was 32 when he was appointed.
    Mr. Gagnon saw and supported the arrival of several members from parties not recognized by the House of Commons: the Greens in 2011 and the Bloc Québécois between 2011 and 2019. He saw majority and minority governments and, in every situation, he was quick on his feet and skilfully dealt with the pressure from the various parties.
    Mr. Gagnon is well liked by all political parties, members and colleagues, for a number of reasons. The first, and most important, is that he has a keen understanding of the political issues faced by MPs. We feel understood; he understands us.
    He has a profound respect for the role of MPs. All members, be they government members, opposition members, members of an unrecognized party or independents, receive the same robust and respectful support.
    Generous in his explanations and teachings, he wants members to understand procedure. He knows how to transmit his passion. I must also point out Mr. Gagnon's contribution to promoting the French language in the world of parliamentary procedure, since he has been vice-president of the Association des secrétaires généraux des parlements francophones since 2006.
    Mr. Gagnon is known to be a unifier and a positive leader. The Bloc Québécois has a great affection for him and greatly admires his career. I want to say that he also has the perfect personality for the position. His smile, his good humour, his sense of humour, his ability to listen, his generosity and his respect for members are, in my opinion, human qualities that every clerk should have. Let us be frank, he has them all.
    We are sad to see him go. We are losing a giant, an exceptional man, and we know that our sadness is shared by his colleagues and by every member of the House. We all know that he will be leaving behind a great void.
    In conclusion, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to extend my most heartfelt thanks to deputy clerk, procedure, André Gagnon for his excellent work, his contribution and his dedication to the public service. We owe him much and wish him a wonderful retirement.
    Thank you, André Gagnon, I wish you well.



    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on behalf of the NDP caucus to pay tribute to André Gagnon.
    While I have not had the privilege of working as closely with him as some of the other members who just spoke, I do know one former member, a former deputy speaker, another Blaikie, who has had the opportunity to work closely with him. He sends his regards to Mr. Gagnon on his retirement.


    The House is losing one of the greatest clerks it has ever had and an extraordinary man.


    Clerk since the 1990s and deputy clerk of procedure since 2014, André Gagnon has left his mark in the House of Commons. Everyone will agree that his work ethic and his respect for the institution are exemplary.
    Among the New Democrats, a number of qualifiers have been used to describe him, including “professional”, “courteous”, “neutral” and “skilled”. He has a great sense of humour, even in the weirdest situations, like when he inversed voting results on October 21, 2020.


    André has a solid understanding of procedure from having studied and analyzed it so thoroughly. Perhaps that is why his hair seems to get darker with time, rather than turning grey.
    He has excellent general knowledge, too. He knows all the classics in music, from Zabé to Fugain, as well as contemporary music.
    André knows that nobody is irreplaceable. He knows that others will follow in his footsteps with the same passion for procedure and the same work ethic, and that they will take up their duties with as much respect for members, for the rules and for this institution, the House of Commons.
    Nevertheless, his departure is still a great loss for the House. André has been one of the greatest clerks the House has ever known. I thank him for his professionalism, his wise counsel and his sense of humour. Thank you for everything, André, and happy retirement.


    On behalf of the NDP caucus, I thank André very much for sharing his knowledge and wisdom throughout the years. We wish him the best in his future plans.


Government's Alleged Non-compliance with an Order of the House  

    The House resumed from June 16 consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:25 p.m., pursuant to order made on Monday, January 25, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the question of privilege in the name of the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
    Call in the members.


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

(Division No. 148)



Blaney (North Island—Powell River)
Blaney (Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis)
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Lewis (Essex)
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLeod (Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo)
Rempel Garner
Sahota (Calgary Skyview)
Van Popta

Total: -- 176



Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Martinez Ferrada
May (Cambridge)
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod (Northwest Territories)
Petitpas Taylor
Sahota (Brampton North)
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Van Bynen
van Koeverden

Total: -- 150



    I declare the motion carried.


Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, as I ask today's Thursday question, we are entering the final sprint before the summer break. I say “break” because in politics, there are never any real holidays. It is a summer parliamentary break.
    Here is my question for my counterpart on the government side, the hon. member for Honoré‑Mercier. Can the minister inform Canadians and this House of the parliamentary business we can expect in the coming days?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague and also thank and congratulate André Gagnon for his invaluable help and his kindness. I wish him a happy retirement.
    To answer my esteemed colleague's question, this afternoon we will finish the debate on the opposition motion. This evening we will debate and vote on the estimates.
    Tomorrow we will resume debate at report stage of the same bill, Bill C‑30, budget implementation act, 2021, no. 1.
    Next week, priority will be given once again to Bill C‑30 at third reading stage because it is absolutely essential. We want to send this bill to the Senate as soon as possible of course.
    Our other priorities will be Bill C‑12 on net-zero emissions, Bill C‑10 on broadcasting and Bill C‑6 on conversion therapy.
    In closing, since this is my last Thursday statement before the House rises for the summer, I would like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the incredible and at times difficult work that you did all year to guide us in these hybrid sittings of the House, which added an extra challenge. I also want to thank the clerks, the interpreters, the support staff, the pages and all the parliamentary staff without whom we would absolutely not be able to do our job every day.
    Many thanks to all.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]


Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Censure of the Minister of National Defence  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
    The hon. member for Calgary Shepard has three minutes and 45 seconds remaining in his debate.
    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the extra 45 seconds. It is much appreciated. I was worried I would not have time to go through the departmental plans.
    Where I left off before question period was that I wanted to get into the departmental plans. This is where the rubber hits the pavement. This is where we see the priorities of the minister. Is he actually taking seriously the sexual misconduct allegations, stories, and individual cases of men and women who have been abused by others in the military? What I discovered is that the government is not taking it seriously, and the minister is not taking it seriously.
    Let us go back to the 2018-19 departmental plan. It has “Annual # of reported incidents of Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour in the Defence Team” as one category of priorities, and then under “Target”, it says “To be determined by 31 March 2021”. It has no available indicators of where they were at. Under the field “Number and type of actions taken in response to reported Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour incidents by the Defence Team”, it says “To be determined by 31 March 2021”.
    I will move on to the following years, 2019-20. Under “Annual number of reported incidents of Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour in the Defence Team”, it says “To be determined by 31 March 2021”. Again, there are no indicators anywhere, no reported numbers anywhere. Under “Number and type of actions taken in response to reported Harmful and Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour incidents by the Defence Team”, it says “To be determined by 31 March 2021”.
    I will move on to the next departmental plan, 2020-21. Under “% of the Canadian Armed Forces...who self-identify as victims of harassment”, the target is “Less than 11.9%”. The minister signed off on every single departmental plan. Less than 12% is one in eight members of the Canadian Armed Forces to suffer being inappropriately harassed in the workplace. The actual results for 2018-19 were 17.7%. This is the first time there are actual numbers being presented here.
    Now, in the departmental plan for 2021-22, the fields actually change, which is pretty typical of the government. We have “Annual number of reported incidents of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces”. Members would think that by now the department would have it figured out, but no, it says “To be determined by 31 March 2022”. There are two wonderful little asterisks, and they leave it for well into the future.
    If the minister was actually serious, if the words he says in this chamber and outside in nice statements actually meant anything to him, he would have followed through in the departmental plans that he signs off on and ensured that there was follow-up and actual, real targets put forward. This is why the House has come to the moment now of censuring the minister, because he has shown a dereliction of his duties, an irresponsibility of command and, overall, he has led the Canadian Forces into disarray. The situation we find ourselves in is entirely of his own doing.
    As was mentioned during question period, this is a minister who served in his post the longest of any member of cabinet. He owns the entire last six years; they are entirely his responsibility. We are making a judgment call here, as members of Parliament, to hold him personally accountable for his own performance, which, as we can see in the departmental plans, does not meet the standards of what a minister should be doing.
    As the member for Kildonan—St. Paul said before me, the minister has shown an extreme dereliction of duty and of his own responsibilities as the top member responsible. He is the political head of the department, the political head of the Canadian Armed Forces. It falls to him at the end of the day, and he has fallen far short. We must vote to censure the minister on this matter.


    Mr. Speaker, the departmental plans, as described on the government's website, “describe departmental priorities”. These are priorities presented in the House, signed by the minister himself.
    Now, in the departmental plan for this year, there are two notable things. My colleague mentioned several, but there is also “Number of Canadian Armed Forces members who have attended a training session related to sexual misconduct (Operation HONOUR)”. It says the department will set a goal, not this year, but a year from now. So, there is no goal set for this year. This has been an issue for three years, and the department cannot even set a goal until next year. The other one is “Number and type of actions taken in response to reported sexual misconduct incidents by the Defence Team”. What is the department's goal? There is not any this year, but it will set a goal next year.
    What does my colleague think when the minister stands and states again and again that this is a priority? Ending this misconduct is a priority, and yet the minister's own form that he signed and presented to the House states that the department will not even look at it this year and maybe a goal will be set next year.


    Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. The member for Edmonton West obviously has read the departmental plans. He is probably one of the few members who have read all of the departmental plans that the government ministers put forward. If anybody wants to follow at home, it is actually page 51 that we are talking about. It is one of the rows below.
     He is right. If this was a priority and it was absolutely serious, then in these plans that the minister signed off on he would have given absolute direction to the department, set the target, benchmarked himself against the goal he was trying to reach, and proven to the rest of us that he actually does take this seriously.
    We have had three Supreme Court justice reports up to this point. There are more than a half-dozen senior officers in the military who have resigned, stepped down or been relieved of their command. We do not have a Governor General. The Canadian Forces is in disarray, and it is entirely the fault of the defence minister. He has to be censured.
    Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for my hon. colleague, but first, the fact that so many survivors are coming forward is also an indication that there are actual consequences happening.
    Does the member opposite believe that sexual harassment and assaults did not occur previous to the last six years? If he does think that they occurred, is he disappointed in the Leader of the Opposition for sitting around the cabinet table at a time when there was a culture of sexual misconduct and there were no consequences? They did not take it seriously, and therefore the culture of the old boys' club being protected by the Harper government and his leader continued. Is he proud of that history and that record?
    Mr. Speaker, this is a perfect example of what the Liberals have been doing all day. I have been listening to the entirety of the debate. They deflect and deflect. Real leaders take responsibility in the present, in the situation they find themselves in. The minister has had six years to deal with the situation. He has been aware for three years of the specific allegations against General Vance. He has done nothing.
    In the motion before the House, we lay out the case for why the minister should be censured. Leaders, in the moment, take responsibility. They do not look to deflect the issue to others who are not in the employ of the government today. They do not look to past governments. They take responsibility, they move forward and they change things, and the minister has not done that.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    In my opinion, not taking the allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces seriously is reason enough to censure the minister. However, when we read the motion, we see that there are several other issues that justify censure.
    When we ask the Liberals what they have done to put a stop to sexual misconduct in the military, they answer that they have asked for more reports. The Liberals made no effort to implement what was in the 2015 Deschamps report. Does my colleague believe that it is about time that they take concrete action rather than commissioning more reports?
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, my colleague is absolutely right. Once again, during question period, three reports prepared by former Supreme Court justices were mentioned. The member just referred to the report by Marie Deschamps.
    It is time to do more than just talk. I mentioned individual departmental plans earlier; that is where the planned measured should be outlined. The source of funds is one thing, but what will be done with that money? Usually a departmental plan should show whether this subject is taken seriously. The minister signs it, decides what it will include and what will be the department's focus for the next year, if required.
    There are already three reports, the facts have been established and action needs to be taken.



    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my wonderful friend and colleague, the member for Ottawa West—Nepean.
    I rise today to talk about our government's commitment to supporting the Canadian Armed Forces and the crucial role it plays in keeping Canadians safe, and supporting