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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 172

CONTENTS

Thursday, March 23, 2023




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 172
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Speaker: The Honourable Anthony Rota

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1000)  

[English]

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 10 petitions. These returns will be tabled in an electronic format.

[Translation]

First Nations Fiscal Management Act

[English]

Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the delegation of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union respecting its participation in the parliamentary forum at the United Nations high-level political forum on sustainable development held in New York, United States of America, from July 12 to July 13, 2022.

  (1005)  

Committees of the House

Committee Travel 

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among all the parties, and if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That, in relation to its study of potential trade impacts of the United States Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, seven members of the Standing Committee on International Trade be authorized to travel to Washington, D.C., United States of America, in the Spring of 2023, during an adjournment period, and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.
    And that, in relation to its study of human trafficking of women, girls and gender diverse people, seven members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women be authorized to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia; Toronto, Ontario; Brampton, Ontario; Mississauga, Ontario; Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, in the Spring of 2023, during an adjournment period, and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay. It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)

Finance  

     Mr. Speaker, I move that the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Finance, presented on Friday, March 10, be concurred in.
    It is always a privilege to rise in this place, a place of sometimes rancorous debate but also of camaraderie and of mutual respect, no doubt.
    I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
    I want to talk today about the pre-budget consultation process. Those at home watching this might be wondering what a pre-budget consultation is. Every year, with notable exceptions like COVID, the government of the day will submit a budget. Prior to that budget, at finance committee, there is a series of consultations that we call the pre-budget consultations. It is an extensive process that I have had the honour to be a part of on multiple occasions. There are stakeholders with varied perspectives, from climate change to productivity studies and various other issues. Some stakeholders have a connection to the budget, perhaps with regard to funding. It is a very prolonged process.
    This process has two primary challenges. One is a lack of prioritization and a ceiling on that budget process. The second is that there does not appear to be a tangible or concrete link to the budget-creating process. The finance minister of the day will work with their cabinet, as well as the bureaucracy, to come up with a budget. Along with that process, there are concurrent pre-budget consultations that include stakeholders who come from all over with valuable information, and I certainly have enjoyed hearing from the witnesses. However, the link between what stakeholders are expressing and the actual budget is tentative at best, especially in today's Liberal government.
    As one example, for at least four or five years, nearly four years since I have been elected, numerous stakeholders have come before the finance committee in the pre-budget consultation process and have asked for a reduction or complete removal of the escalator tax on beer, wine and spirits. That is an automatic increase in taxes on wine, beer and spirits, every year, without parliamentary consent. Unionized workers for breweries, wineries and distilleries have come forward and said it is impacting their industry and reducing Canadian competitiveness. It even triggered a potential trade war with Australia—

  (1010)  

    I am going to interrupt the hon. member for a moment to remind everyone that a debate is taking place. There is a bit of a murmur that is getting louder. Before it gets any louder, I want to remind everyone that the hon. member has been interrupted, and we do not want to interrupt more than necessary.
    The hon. member may continue.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hospitality and the respect from my colleagues. I know they are as thrilled to hear about this as I am. Some of those members have wineries, breweries and even distilleries in their various ridings, and they would want to make sure that the workers and the consumers are protected from this tax that increases every year.
    We heard this at the Standing Committee on Finance over and over again, but it appears as though the process is not having any impact on the budget. The budget is scheduled to come out next week, and maybe in this budget we will see that the Liberals have decided to listen, after seven years of hearing from stakeholders, unions, consumers and everyone who enjoys a drink of beer.
    I enjoy a drink of beer, and I imagine there are quite a few Liberals who do. I do not want to tell tales outside of school, but I have actually seen them drink beer before, and they seem to enjoy it. Therefore, I do not know why they would increase the cost and make it more expensive for everyone else to enjoy a cold beer after a hard day's work.
    Another issue that has been brought up over and over again at the pre-budget consultations is the impact of the carbon tax. In fact, at the finance committee, the Governor of the Bank of Canada, Tiff Macklem, said that the carbon tax has an inflationary increase. He estimated it was at nearly half a per cent. That is a huge amount.
    One might ask how much half a per cent is. It equates to hundreds of millions of dollars in excess costs because of the carbon tax. Throughout the pre-budget consultations, we heard from numerous groups and individuals, including the Governor of the Bank of Canada, who talked about the potential inflationary impact of taxation and the carbon tax.
    If the pre-budget consultation was healthy and working, and the finance minister was actually listening to some stakeholders who are representatives of millions of Canadians, the carbon tax would have been gone years ago.
    Another issue I heard about numerous times at the pre-budget consultations is the effect of the marginal tax rates on low-income earners. Maybe not everyone loves taxes as much as I do, and I do not know why, because it is extremely compelling and exciting stuff. The marginal tax rate, for those who perhaps are not aware, is one's total tax rate. It includes clawbacks and it includes the actual tax one is paying.
    If one can believe this, the Prime Minister said that lower-income people do not pay taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are many individuals who earn less than $50,000 a year, and some who earn less than $30,000 or $40,000 a year, who face a marginal effective tax rate of over 50%. That means 50¢ of every dollar they earn over $30,000 or $40,000 is going back to the government.
    We heard from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and we heard from numerous economists at the pre-budget consultations. They said over and over that this is detrimental to Canadians. It is affecting Canadians going back to work. Believe it or not, there are some Canadians who are earning less than $60,000 a year who are giving upward of 60% or 70% of every extra dollar they earn to the government.
    Imagine a single mom trying to decide whether she should work an extra shift or spend that extra time with her child. Instead of getting 100% of those dollars, or even 80% or 90%, she is only going to get 30% of those dollars. She is a hard-working single mom doing everything she can to raise her family in the best possible way. The government's reward for working the extra shift, staying away from her child, depriving her child of that time and putting in that extra blood, sweat and tears is that she is getting to keep 30% of those dollars. That is 30¢ of each dollar. Two-thirds of the money she is earning is going back to the federal government.
    Oftentimes in law, we decide who is in a better position to afford that loss. It is my position that the federal government, with its billions of dollars in largesse, is in a better position to absorb the additional taxation and the additional loss than a single mom.

  (1015)  

    Clearly, the government thinks otherwise, despite the fact that throughout the pre-budget consultation, we have heard over and over again about this problem. The government keeps charging taxes, with a marginal effective tax rate upwards of 50% on Canadians who are earning less than $50,000 a year.
    Another substantial problem with the pre-budget consultation is that there is no overall budget framework. The pre-budget consultation has no budget to it. A lot of the requests are great. They are valuable. They are meaningful investments in the Canadian economy, but there is no overall cap. What happens is that the pre-budget consultation ends up becoming an additional pressure for a government that already has trouble with spending to spend more money. We need a prioritization process, a process that will help any government stay on track, because this government, particularly with its billions of dollars in deficit spending, is putting Canadians in a deeper and deeper hole.
    We know that the more the government spends, the more everything costs.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague and the Conservatives for this concurrence motion today. This is certainly a topic I love talking about, and I look forward to a 20-minute speech shortly.
    The member was talking specifically about the carbon tax and the price on pollution that the government implemented. Conservatives have run two elections suggesting that they will get rid of it, two elections that they lost in the process.
    Given the fact that, in the last election this member ran in, not that far away from my riding, he was knocking on doors trying to sell the Conservative version of a price on pollution, how is it possible that Conservatives can be so hypocritical about a price on pollution when this member himself ran on it less than two years ago?
    Madam Speaker, it is great to finally recognize, and I appreciate the member recognizing the fact, that it is a carbon tax and that this is a tax plan and not an environmental plan. The number of targets the government has hit is zero.
    I refuse to take lessons from a government that is an abject failure on climate change, one of the worst performers in the G7, or in fact in the OECD, with respect to climate change, while destroying Canadian energy.
    You are destroying the economy. You are not fighting climate change. It is time for a change.
    I am sure the hon. member was not saying that I was doing that, so I would just remind the hon. member to address the questions and comments through the Chair.
    The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I found that exchange amusing. I do not see how reminding the Conservatives that they lost two elections when they got more votes than the Liberals has anything at all to do with the debate on budget proposals.
    My question has to do with the tax on aircraft. There is one thing I do not understand, and I do not know how my colleague can explain it. One of the Bloc Québécois's demands was to put an end to this tax, which is disguised as a social justice measure. The unions involved are also opposed to it. What I do not understand is that this tax was put forward for the first time two years ago.
    I can understand the government putting a measure forward originally. However, once the government realizes that the way the measure is written is having a negative impact, then it should do something to remedy the situation.
    What does my colleague think about that?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am sorry. I think the translation missed a little bit of that.
    What I can say is that, clearly, the Liberal policies have been, intentionally or not, abject failures. The Liberals have been spending to reduce the costs for Canadians, yet mortgages have doubled, rents have doubled and food is going up by 10%. They brought in the carbon tax to supposedly fight climate change. We have not hit a target.
    As I said, it is time for a change. We need a government that can get results.
    Madam Speaker, in terms of people struggling to make ends meet, I often hear people in the House usurp the story of the single mother, usually men who I know will never experience being a single mom. I was one, as I have mentioned before.
    If we are going to talk about helping families get ahead, helping moms not have to work three jobs, I am wondering if the hon. member is open to supporting things that the NDP has put forward in the pre-budget, things that would really help pay the bills, like dental care, pharmacare, and a national child care strategy that puts non-profit and public child care first in this budget.

  (1020)  

    Madam Speaker, there is some overlap, I believe, between the NDP and the Conservatives. We both see the affordability crisis affecting all of us and, of course, the most vulnerable at the lower end of the economic spectrum.
    Where Conservatives, I guess, differ from the NDP is that we believe one of the most effective ways to help individuals is to stop taking their money. We have marginal effective tax rates at over 50%. An individual earning $30,000 a year may be paying 30¢ or 40¢ of every dollar. That is tens of thousands of dollars when it is added to inflation and taxation. The more the government spends, the more it will cost Canadians.
    We believe in the individuals and their ability, if in fact the government can just get out of the way.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today with another opportunity to warn the government about the course it is on.
    Winston Churchill is famous for saying, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, and he was right. We can just look at the Liberal government. High taxes, high inflation and corporate socialism are not an innovation of today's Liberals. It has been going on for years. This is a lefty obsession: raising the taxes of everyday Canadians, and then turning around and spending so much money that the government runs massive inflationary deficits and runs up the debt. The only people who benefit are the wealthy Liberal insiders and their corporations. In the 1970s, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau did this exact same thing. At the time, he spent more than all his predecessors combined, driving up Canada's debt and leaving in his wake nearly two decades of high inflation and high interest rates.
    Canadians are turning in their house keys, taking on more household debt just to survive and worrying about whether they can afford to heat their homes, buy groceries or gas up their cars. It sounds very familiar. It is another example of history repeating itself.
    We know that, just as in the days of Pierre Trudeau, the current Prime Minister created the inflation and cost of living crisis we see today with his out-of-control spending. While he got Tiff Macklem and the Bank of Canada to cover his massive deficits with money printing, he did nothing to address the inflation concerns or ease the inflationary pressures of higher taxes. Instead, the Prime Minister passes on the taxes. He takes from everyday Canadians and spends their money on high-priced consultants and Liberal insiders who get cushy government contracts.
    The concept of money printing and inflation is not even the invention of the Liberals of the 1970s. In the 1700s, French banker and economist Richard Cantillon observed that the rich and the insiders get all the benefits when the government increases the money supply. In those days, the rich and the insiders were the aristocracy closest to the French king. When a gold mine was discovered and the supply of gold increased, Cantillon saw that the value of gold did not increase, and neither did the wealth of the everyday people. Instead, the value of gold diminished. Instead of one gold coin purchasing a loaf of bread, it now took two, yet the wealthy gold mine owner and the landowner growing grain for bread were better off. They could keep spending money on luxuries, while everyday people fell further behind.
    Today, Canada sees the same thing happening. We are not just witnessing the 1970s repeat themselves. We are seeing fundamental economics return with a vengeance. Leave it to the Liberal government to ignore an at least 300-year-old lesson in inflation.
    Today's aristocracy is the ones benefiting from the $600 billion spent in the last eight years. These insiders enjoy privileged access to billions of tax dollars stashed away in Liberal programs like the Canada Infrastructure Bank or the Canada growth fund. These are the same insiders who will benefit from the so-called “just transition”, which will eliminate hundreds of thousands of good-paying, responsible Canadian energy jobs. They are the same insiders who will benefit from the $21.4 billion the Prime Minister is handing out to consultants like McKinsey, and from what his ministers are handing out to their besties in cushy contracts. These insiders are the same ones getting rich off the inflationary deficits and wasteful spending.
    Do not get me wrong. As a proud Albertan and Conservative, I support the free market and individuals' ability to make and use their money the way they want to. What I have a problem with is when the Liberal government takes more out of the pockets of everyday Canadians and in some quasi-corporate socialist way redistributes these tax dollars to the rich and the Liberal insiders.
    This is such a disregard for freedom, free enterprise and Canadians' money. The blatant payoffs to Liberal friends using taxpayers' money only make life more expensive for the rest of us. As the Leader of the Opposition has clearly explained to this House, just as Cantillon observed 300 years ago, it is this type of government waste that causes the people to suffer while the rich insiders have never had it so good.

  (1025)  

    What is most frustrating is how the Liberals cannot see that the increasing cost of government is tied to the increasing cost of living. That is what I take issue with. In the study the finance committee overtook, despite the warnings and voices of everyday Canadians pleading with us to address the real issue, the cost of living crisis, the Liberal-NDP costly coalition joined forces to make recommendations that will not restore affordability.
    In our dissenting report, Conservatives were clear: The Liberal government must rein in its inflationary deficit spending and address its ballooning debt. We reiterated our calls for no new taxes and no new spending, including all planned tax hikes, such as the tripling of the carbon tax, the second carbon tax, the luxury tax, the escalator tax on alcohol, and the payroll tax increases. We called on the Liberal government to adopt the pay-as-you-go law the Conservative leader proposed, which was endorsed by the Minister of Finance in a letter to her own ministers last fall.
    The reality is that, after eight years of the current Prime Minister, Canadians are out of money and the Liberals are out of touch. We cannot saddle future generations with borrowing for current spending and deficits. Interest rates are the highest they have been since the 2008 global recession. One in five Canadians is skipping meals, out of money or accessing charities for basic needs. Newcomers are being driven out of this country. One in five newcomers wants to pack up and leave. The number one cause of that is the high cost of living in this country.
    Mortgages and rents have doubled since 2015. The average rent across Canada's 10 biggest cities is now over $2,200 a month, compared to almost $1,200 a month in 2015. Mortgages are now above $3,100 compared to $1,400 a month in 2015. All the while, Canada has the lowest homes per capita in the G7, and the lack of supply has home prices still inflated 30% above prepandemic levels. This is the result of eight years of out-of-control Liberal spending and increasing tax hikes.
    That is why Conservatives are calling for budget 2023 to reverse the economic mismanagement brought on by the Prime Minister. Canada needs to stop printing money and, instead, make more of what money buys; axe the damaging and failed carbon tax, especially for farmers, so they can produce the food that Canada and the world need; remove gatekeepers to free up and speed up permits for homes, so that people can afford homes and so that job-creating energy projects can get built, which will create paycheques at home in Canada. By addressing inflationary deficit spending and high taxes, we can bring home lower prices and more powerful paycheques so that hard work pays off again.
    This pre-budget consultation report fails to address the inflation and the cost of living crisis, and fails to provide real solutions. That is why, while I am on my feet, I move that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:
the 10th Report of the Standing Committee on Finance, presented on Friday, March 10, 2023, be not now concurred in, but that it be recommitted to the Standing Committee on Finance with instruction that it amend the same so as to recommend that the government create a “Blue Seal” National Professional Testing Standard to quickly license professionals, like doctors and nurses, who prove they are qualified, and that anyone who has passed the common national test for their profession would get a “Blue Seal” certificate allowing them to work in any province or territory that chooses to join the Blue Seal Standard.

  (1030)  

    The amendment is in order.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Fleetwood—Port Kells.
    Madam Speaker, if government programs were responsible for inflation, we would see everybody up and down the line pinching pennies to get by.
    Could the hon. member explain why big food is making record profits and why big oil is making record profits, while people are jacking up the cost of rent and the price of houses because of the lack of supply? This has nothing to do with government actions. In fact, I would ask the member whether or not it really justifies government action, in terms of regulation, because the free market has clearly been responsible for these distortions.
    Madam Speaker, I am a little surprised. I should not be surprised, actually.
    The Liberals make it seem like it is never their fault, and it is indeed. It is the government's wasteful spending that has put Canadians in a position where they are pinching pennies. They are literally barely hanging on. We are seeing 1.5 million Canadians visiting food banks in a single month. One in five Canadians is skipping meals in this country today.
    When my family came here, we came here for a better future, like many other immigrants are coming today. However, because of the government's reckless spending with the support of its costly coalition partner, the NDP, more and more families want to leave this country, not stay here and contribute to it.
    The government needs to rein in its spending and support Canadians by lowering their taxes so they can afford to eat and to heat their homes.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, if I could sum up my colleague's speech I would say, “cut, cut, cut”. It reminds me of the “triple, triple, triple” quip we used to hear.
    Unfortunately, after the pandemic, some people have been left out in the cold, left to fend for themselves. It has been very tough for many people, including the homeless. In Quebec, homelessness is becoming quite visible in cities where there never used to be any. We need to deal with this.
    Last week, I met with representatives from the Réseau Solidarité Itinérance du Québec, who shared what they are looking for in the next budget. They are asking the federal government for a 30% increase in investments in the reaching home program to prevent and reduce homelessness in Quebec. We know that budgets were increased during the pandemic, which helped, but they have returned to prepandemic levels. That is not right. The demand is still there.
    They are also asking for the annual indexing of social housing and a $3-billion investment. This is super important. At the end of the day, we want homeless populations to be housed.
    What does my colleague think of these demands?

  (1035)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member's question gives me the opportunity to talk about the Conservative plan for getting more houses built in this country, including affordable housing.
    Our Conservative leader recently made a proposal with respect to the 15% of federal buildings that are completely empty in this country right now. We could convert those, by working with municipalities, into affordable housing and houses. We could create more units in this country.
    We also need to make sure we are getting the municipal gatekeepers out of the way so we can get more houses built. We need to get more people into more houses. There is a huge supply issue, which the Liberal government has failed to address after eight years. It has caused rents to double, and it is the same thing with mortgages.
    Conservatives would get more houses built in this country for those who are most vulnerable and need them the most.
    Madam Speaker, the member talked about selling off 15% of government buildings to ensure there is adequate housing for Canadians.
    We used to build 25,000 co-op units a year before the Liberals killed this in 1992. The Conservatives did not build any. In fact, under the Conservative government, rents and property prices doubled.
    My colleague talked about supply. Would he agree that, when selling those government assets, it should be certain and there should be covenants in place so they go to non-market housing? Nowhere in the world has free market solved the housing crisis when there is a housing shortage.
    I would like my colleague to agree that they should go to non-market housing in our country.
    Madam Speaker, what we need to do is get the municipal gatekeepers out of the way and work with our municipalities so more housing units can get built in this country.
    As someone who came from the home-building industry, I think that, with more supply, we could bring down the cost of rents and provide more units in this country to address the shortage, which is not only driving people out of home ownership but also leading to more and more people wanting to leave.
    The largest portion of paycheques goes to housing right now. That is unfair to the newcomers and the Canadians who are living here. Conservatives would address that.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to talk about the important issue of finances and the direction in which the government has been leading Canada in order to support Canadians in every region of the country.
    Before I get into that, I want to quickly make reference once again to the Conservatives' bringing forward a concurrence motion in order to prevent government legislation from being debated. In fact, today, we were supposed to be debating Bill C-26, which is about cybersecurity, something important to Canadians. However, it is not the first time we have seen the Conservative Party show disrespect for important issues Canadians want us to deal with. In fact—
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    I want to remind members that there will be 10 minutes of questions and comments, so they will have an opportunity to ask questions then. I would ask members to please hold off on any of their comments and maybe jot them down so they do not forget them.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, with respect to that particular point, I can assure the members opposite that I will hang around for the 10 minutes of questions and answers, which is unlike what we saw yesterday when I attempted to ask questions and there was no one around able to answer the questions or prepared to answer the questions.
    What I am referencing—
    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the member opposite knows he cannot do indirectly what he cannot do directly. I would ask him to withdraw his previous statement.
    Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Just to be very clear, when a member rises on a point of order and causes the Speaker to stand, it does not take away from the time allocation a member is supposed to be given for their speech. With that in mind, I would suggest that I did not make reference to any individual at all. The member is just assuming, correctly, that it was Conservatives who abandoned the chamber so I could not actually ask the questions.
    I would just ask individuals to please be mindful of the words they use. Again, I did not hear the hon. parliamentary secretary speak directly about a specific member, so I just want to, again, remind members to be judicious with the words they use.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.

  (1040)  

    Madam Speaker, I thought it was actually good news that I am prepared to answer for the comments I make in the chamber, because not all members can actually say that, as we witnessed yesterday when I attempted to ask questions of Conservative members of Parliament and they chose not to answer those questions.
    I would like to—
    Madam Speaker, on a point of order, the member opposite knows that he cannot directly or indirectly reference the presence of a member in the chamber. He is directly talking about the presence or not of a member who was not here yesterday. When we were having a debate, a member had to leave the House, and now the parliamentary secretary is bringing it up again. That is twice in the last 10 seconds that he has done it. The member needs to withdraw the statement.
    Again, I want to remind members to be careful with respect to how they use their time that they have in the House. I did not hear the parliamentary secretary speak about a specific member. Generally, that is when we take issue with specific comments made. Again, I want to ask members not to mention anybody who was or was not in the House.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, let us try this again. I believe, just for confirmation, that I have 19 minutes left in my comments.
    I do want to remind the member that his time is not being eaten away by these points of order. The clock is stopped every time.

[Translation]

Points of Order

Allusion to Presence or Absence of Members  

[Points of order]
    Madam Speaker, I think that the point we are discussing right now is extremely important.
    You just indicated that we may not refer to the presence or the absence of specific MPs in the House. I would like to have some clarification from you and from the Table.
    For example, if I say that a significant number of Liberals are not in the House right now, am I making a faux pas in the House?
    It is essential that I get an answer to this question.
    I thank the member.
    I will consider the question and come back to the House with an answer shortly.

[English]

Committees of the House

Finance  

[Routine Proceedings]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    Madam Speaker, let me switch a bit, because the Conservatives are a little sensitive on the issue of accountability and responding to questions being posed to them. We witnessed that last night.
    Having said that, let me assure those who are going to be following the debate today, first and foremost the many individuals who are interested in the whole issue of cybersecurity, that we will get to that debate eventually. It is just that the Conservatives have chosen to play a bit of a game. Fortunately, it is an area I really enjoy talking about, because it is an issue that is so important to all Canadians, and that is the budgetary measures the government has to put into place in order to ensure the economy is working for all of us.
    Since we formed government back in 2015, we have had a very clear and concise message as a government. This is a government focused on supporting Canada's middle class and those aspiring to become a part of it. This is a government that has been there to have the backs of Canadians during a worldwide pandemic. This is a government that has recognized the need for the government to take actions, even at a time when we have inflation rates that are not acceptable.
    Members opposite will talk about inflation and they will give a false impression. If we listened to what the Conservative Party is saying, we would think this government is the cause of worldwide inflation. One member says it is. We are not quite that influential around the world; I can assure the member of that. At the end of the day, if we take a look at Canada's inflation rate, we can compare it to the countries of the G7 or even the G20, our allied countries. We can look at it in terms of the United States. We will find that our inflation rate is actually lower than the U.S.A.'s and than that of most countries in Europe, whether France or others.
    Our inflation rate is still of concern to the government, because we understand. As members of Parliament, we go home and understand the pains our constituents are experiencing, and that is the reason we take seriously the issue of consultations, something Stephen Harper really did not do. In fact, we have a Prime Minister who still does open, public town hall-type meetings, something the former Prime Minister never really did. We have a Minister of Finance in the department who aggressively goes out to consult with Canadians and different stakeholders consistently throughout the year, but in particular in the lead-up to making those important budgetary decisions.
    We do this because we recognize how important it is, as a government, that our budget reflect what Canadians expect the government to do. Yesterday, the Conservatives wanted to focus on one aspect. They wanted to talk about the possibility of 15¢ for 24 bottles of beer and the impact that was going to have on Canadian society. That is what their focus was yesterday.
    Mr. James Bezan: Jobs. What about the agriculture sector?
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, the member says “jobs”—

  (1045)  

    I just want to remind the member that he should stick to his speech and not answer during the debate when other people are yelling out. I would also ask members not to yell out, mention other things or try to have conversations with the hon. member.
    Again, I would ask members to hold on to their questions and comments. They will have 10 minutes of questions and comments.
    The hon. member still has almost 14 minutes to speak, so I would ask individual members to please be mindful of that.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, the point was that the Conservatives could have talked about what the member just heckled about, which is jobs. We could have talked about jobs yesterday.
    Does the member not realize the number of jobs that have been added to Canada's economy since before the pandemic got under way? We have seen an increase of over 830,000 jobs, closer to a million. Can members imagine that? It took Stephen Harper 10 years to achieve a million jobs.
     We went through a pandemic, and because we had the right priorities, unlike the Conservatives, we protected Canadians. We were there to support small businesses. Never before have we seen the type of programs that supported small businesses, whether it was with loans or wage subsidies. Millions of jobs were saved as a direct result of that. Companies were prevented from going bankrupt in many situations because of that. We were able to support Canadians through the CERB program. Imagine the eight million-plus Canadians who genuinely needed the program, which allowed them to put food on the table, pay their mortgage and so forth. By providing those types of supports, we were in a good position to rebound and build stronger after the crux of the pandemic.
    As a result, there are more than 830,000 more jobs today than there were at the beginning of the pandemic. This is far better than, let us say, the United States or some other countries in the world. Why is that? It is because the federal government chose to work with Canadians, chose to work with different levels of government, and implemented policies that really made the difference. If I were to cite some of those policies today, we hear Conservatives talk about their Conservative ideas. There are a few that come to mind, some that we put in place and some that the Conservatives wished they could have put into place.
    We go out and consult. What does the leader of the Conservative Party do? He says that consultation is not necessary. After all, we have YouTube. Remember cryptocurrency, which was economics 101 and his first major policy statement recommendation for Canadians? The Conservative Party of Canada was saying that the way we avoid inflation and really reap the profits was to invest in cryptocurrency. This is something he advised Canadians to do.
    I will conclude with those who took the advice of the Conservative leader. They had their savings wiped out, with 60% to 70% gone. It was incredible the amount of money that was lost on cryptocurrency, going into the millions of dollars. Individuals on a fixed income who believed what the Conservative leader was saying paid a very heavy price.
    Now the Conservatives are talking about interest rates. Do members remember what the leader of the Conservative Party said about the Bank of Canada? He said that we would fire or get rid of the head of the Bank of Canada.
    An hon. member: Why would he do that?
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Madam Speaker, that is a very good question. Why would he do that? This is also what the member for Abbotsford posed, and look what happened to that member. I will reference the member and the riding he is from who questioned the Conservative leader's judgment on that issue because the member for Abbotsford now sits way in the back and has been kind of ditched to the side. We very rarely hear from him. However, we have an initiative or suggestion from the leader of the Conservative Party that even progressive Conservatives disagree with.

  (1050)  

    We need to look at some of the other issues. Let us stop with some of the Conservative ideas because they can be painful to listen to. We can think of the child care program. What is the Conservative Party's position on child care? We know that during the election they said they would rip it up. They did not want anything to do with the Liberal plan. Now, because the government had the support of at least one opposition party, we were able to implement a national child care program, $10-a-day day care, throughout the country. Every province, even Doug Ford's Ontario, has signed onto the program.
    The economic impact of that program will see more people participating in the workforce. There will be more recognition of quality child care. Universally, with the exception of the Conservative Party of Canada, it has been well received. I am hoping that sometime between now and the next federal election we will see a major flip-flop by the Conservative Party on this issue. I hope it will not rip up the agreements and will continue the commitment, because we have seen the success of that particular program. All one needs to do is look at the province of Quebec and the positive impact it has had on that province, particularly women becoming engaged in the workforce as a direct result. That is an idea that really makes a difference.
    Speaking of flip-flops, my colleague from Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston referred to the price on pollution. We really have to follow the bouncing ball on that one. Representatives from around the world went to Paris where there was a great deal of discussion about what we can do about the environment. They recognized that climate change is real. Climate change is a reality of life on earth today. There are some in the Conservative Party who do not quite understand that, or choose to not believe it is a reality, but it is a reality.
    From that Paris conference came the idea that we needed to implement a national price on pollution. Some provinces, indirectly or in some other way, had it, so we said we were going to put in a policy to protect the environment, via a backstop to make sure that all of the provinces and territories have it. The price on pollution is quickly becoming the go-to tool for ensuring that Canadians are participating in diminishing greenhouse gases. Other provinces have now opted into the price on pollution because, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer has made very clear, there is a net benefit for the majority of Canadians with the federal backstop program on the price on pollution. That is a really positive thing.
    The Conservatives, prior to the last election, were opposed to it. They fought it tooth and nail. Then they had a new leader, about two or three leaders ago, and the new leader said that a price on pollution is a good thing. They came up with a different type of design so they could stamp it blue to put it in their campaign. There were 338 Conservative candidates from coast to coast to coast saying they supported a price on pollution, and they got a lot of votes based on that, a lot of votes. A lot of people thought that maybe the Conservatives could be sensitive to the environment.
    After the election, a new, shiny leader took over and that idea was gone. It was history. It was toast. Now the Conservative Party says not to worry about climate change because, after all, we do not need a price on pollution. It wanted to get rid of it. Getting rid of the price on pollution will be a platform issue, no doubt, coming from the Conservative Party of Canada.

  (1055)  

    They will spread all sorts of misinformation. They will attempt to give the false impression that most people are not going to receive, or have not been receiving, a net benefit. They have been talking a lot about doctors and health care workers. The government of Canada has been working with different levels of government to ensure that we can get more credentials recognized. We have been providing incentives for that to take place and looking at ways in which immigration itself could assist. We know and we realize that we want to see an enhancement of health care workers.
    The Conservatives came up with this next idea about having a common national test. Members can imagine what they are telling Canadians. They are saying to Canadians that they are going to get them more doctors. The way they are going to do it is to have an exam so that someone coming into Canada, or any doctor, I would assume, could write this exam and then go to any province or territory to be a doctor. That is balderdash. A federal Conservative government in the future, heaven forbid, could not do what it is that they are talking about doing.
    The administration of health care is done through provinces. There are professional organizations and all sorts of stakeholders out there. It is not as simple as saying that we are going to have a national exam and if someone passes that national exam then they are going to be able to practice medicine. When do they think they would be able to implement something of that nature? I think that they are looking at this and thinking they will hoodwink Canadians on this, much like they have tried to trick them on other issues.
    In the last 20-plus years of its history, the Conservative Party has never demonstrated an interest in health care. What we negotiated back in the 2004 health care accord, was expired by the Conservatives. They are the ones who reduced it from 6% to 3%. They had no interest in meeting federal and provincial first ministerial meetings to deal with the health care issue.
    One of the first things did, whether in previous administrations or this administration, has been to invest in health care. We achieved health care accord agreements with individual provinces shortly after. We have just invested $198 billion in health care. Health care is a part of our core identity as Canadians, and we have made the investment, recognizing that those are the types of priorities Canadians have. That is what this Liberal caucus is reflecting on: the priorities of Canadians. The good news is that next week we are going to have a federal budget that will amplify what it is that Canadians expect of the government.
    I look forward to seeing that budget and being able to participate in that debate.

  (1100)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will bring the debate back to budget requests. The earlier exchanges were not very respectful.
    I would like my colleague to speak about the agriculture sector and agri-food processing. Agricultural groups informed the government that they were expecting significant support to deal with inflation, especially newer businesses. Next-generation businesses currently have very high debt levels. They need some liquidity.
    Does my colleague agree that those sectors need support? Has he supported the creation of such measures within his party?
    We have to help the next generation. We also need an innovation program to improve agri-food processing, which is affected by a significant and very serious delay in infrastructure investment. We must not wait for it to be more profitable for a multinational to demolish a building and put up a new one because we do not know where the new one will be built. It is important that the government provide assistance for that. I would like to hear my colleague's reaction to that.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, our agricultural industries throughout the country are of critical importance. When the member talks about infrastructure, there is no government that has invested more in infrastructure, at least in the last 50, 60 or 70 years, than this government has over the last five, six or seven years. In agriculture, of course it is important.
    We have to be careful when we talk about interest rates or inflation. Let us do a fair comparison. Take a look at what is happening in the United States. Take a look at what is happening in the G20 countries. To say that interest rates in Canada are going up and that we are not comfortable with the inflation rate in Canada, yes, the government is aware of that. We are taking action. In relative comparison to other jurisdictions, we are doing well, but that is still not good enough. That is the reason why someone such as myself, being from the Prairies, looks at agriculture and the diversity of agriculture.
    I am very proud of how the pork industry, for example, has grown. I will add comments as—
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Red Deer—Mountain View.
    Madam Speaker, it is always interesting to listen to my colleague. There are two things. One thing he just mentioned was interest rates and inflation. Right now, Alberta has a 3.2% inflation rate, whereas we are at 5.2% for the rest of the country. Part of the reason for this is that the province is cutting taxes and making sure people have money in their pockets so they can invest in things that are important. This is something different than what we see in the government, and we start to worry about whether the taxes are going to be increased and make it more difficult.
    The last point I want to make is about health care, which the member talked about. Could he explain what the Liberal government did in the 1990s, when it slashed the money that was going toward health care?
    Madam Speaker, when one thinks about the different fluctuating rates of inflation across the country, one also needs to take a look at natural resources, the provincial GDPs and so forth. All of that has an impact on inflation rates.
    On the health care issue, I am glad the member brings it up. Jean Chrétien established a clear cash transfer on health care. Prior to that commitment, we were working on a tax point shift that ultimately would have seen Ottawa defunding health care into the future. I was concerned.
    I was in the Manitoba legislature at the time as a parliamentarian, and there was a great deal of discussion that Ottawa was getting out of health care. Thanks to Jean Chrétien and that particular government, we not only established a very strong presence in health care, but we also continued to grow that through health care agreements and accords to ultimately reach what we have today. That is a $198-billion commitment under this particular administration for health care.
    Madam Speaker, we are all seeing across Canada, and in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, a growing income gap happening. We see so many people struggling to make ends meet while ultrarich CEOs are making higher and higher excess profits every day. This is a big problem.
    I do see in here that a majority of parties came together and put together a recommendation I find to be quite good, and I wanted to ask the member about it. It reads:
    Take steps to close the growing income gap and generate revenue to fund poverty reduction programs by closing tax loopholes and ending the use of low-tax or non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, taxing extreme wealth, and implementing a tax on excessive profits, including windfalls associated with the pandemic.
    What are the member's thoughts on this? What is the government doing today to begin implementing this very sound recommendation?

  (1105)  

    Madam Speaker, in principle I agree with what the member is suggesting. It is one reason the Minister of Finance has in fact put a special tax on bank profits.
    I want to go back even further than that to the principle of tax fairness. One of the very first things we did back in 2015-16 was to introduce a tax break for Canada's middle class. At the same time, we funded that tax break in good part by putting a special tax on Canada's wealthiest 1%. By the way, opposition parties voted against that, but at the end of the day we were able to implement it.
    Through those types of policy initiatives of the federal government, we developed and enhanced the Canada child benefit program, which then took money away from millionaires and put it where people needed it the most, such as with the development of child care. Again, this had a very positive outcome and is one of the reasons literally thousands of children have been lifted out of poverty.
    Madam Speaker, there has been a lot of commentary particularly, from both sides of the House, on Canada's climate record. As a Green, I can also say in a non-partisan way that no government in this country has ever met a single climate target to which we have signed on in legally binding agreements. Neither Stephen Harper nor any Liberal prime minister has done so.
    Not only have we never hit a target, but we have also never gotten the direction right. Our emissions go up instead of going down. As we look at the budget next week, does my hon. colleague and friend not think it would be good to stop putting billions of dollars into promoting fossil fuel use, cut them altogether and cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline?
    Madam Speaker, the leader of the Green Party is in fact consistent, and she would disassemble some of our currently existing pipelines. The government has a responsibility. We made commitments to transition and to net zero by 2050. We have also worked with other governments.
    For example, with the LNG project, which I know the member does not support, we worked very closely with the provincial NDP government in British Columbia, and we were able to move ahead on LNG. I would like to think that all parties inside this chamber except the Green Party support it. Maybe the Bloc does not support it; my apologies. At the end of the day, we do have a very progressive approach to protecting our environment. The price on pollution is just one example; another is tax incentives for hybrid vehicles.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, Canada ranks last in the G7 when it comes to the average number of housing units per capita. That alone is outrageous.
    There are currently 45,000 people on waiting lists to get low-cost housing in Quebec. It is shameful and outrageous. I spoke with an economist from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation who initiated a study a few months ago. In Quebec alone, in order to address the two biggest problems, which are affordability and accessibility, 1.1 million housing units would need to be built. The private sector will build 500,000 units over the next 10 years.
    This means that governments need to step up somehow and build 600,000 units in the next 10 years.
    Over the past five years, as part of the broader national housing strategy, 35,000 units have been built and 60,000 units have been renovated, for a total of 100,000. We need 60,000 every year. This country needs a Marshall plan to address the housing crisis.
    When is that going to begin?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, per capita, Canada is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world.
    We can look at our population base and find that our population growth is actually incredible compared to that of any other country in the world. This means that more people will be looking for housing.
    What the member did not include is that the lead on housing is not the national government. The national government plays an important role, but so do the provincial governments and municipalities. The municipalities need to allow and allocate more land for housing developments. Those are zoning requirements.
    The federal government could provide supports, encouragement and dollars. In the last 30 or 40 years, no government has invested more in housing than the current one. We recognize the need. We are supporting action by other governments. In fact, where we can, we are taking direct action to ensure that the housing stock is not only better maintained but also greener from an environmental perspective. We are also growing the actual number of houses for people with disabilities, as well as non-profit homes, generally speaking.

  (1110)  

[Translation]

Points of Order

Allusions to Presence or Absence of Members—Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
     Before we move on to the next speaker, I would like to return to the point of order raised by the member for Mégantic-L'Érable.
    House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, 2017, by Marc Bosc and André Gagnon, on page 619, chapter 13, states the following:
    Allusions to the presence or absence of a Member or Minister in the Chamber are unacceptable.
    As we can see, it states, “a Member” and “a Minister in the Chamber”.
    I would still like to remind members that there is a gray area when we refer to people who are or are not in the House. It would be better not to mention who is in the House and who is not, as a general rule.

Committees of the House

Finance  

[Routine Proceedings]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    Madam Speaker, thank you for those clarifications. It is still a grey area. MPs learn something every day in the House.
    Crises teach us so much because they subject our societies to pressure. They highlight our strengths and our weaknesses. However, for the past three years, we have been operating from inside a Matryoshka doll set of crises that have revealed weaknesses in both our economic structure and government action. There was the COVID‑19 crisis, lockdowns and a stalled economy.
    First, let us talk about the public health crisis. The COVID‑19 crisis revealed the system's extreme fragility, aggravated by the aging population. It was primarily caused, however, by chronic federal underfunding, which has escalated since 2017 when health transfers stopped being tied to rising costs.
    A better division of health care costs, including adequate and predictable federal funding, would have protected our health care system from potential collapse. Moreover, recent agreements are insufficient to stave off that threat. At best, they temporarily freeze, at an insufficient level, the federal share of health care funding, nothing more. In 10 years, Ottawa will contribute 24% of health care costs, which is the same percentage it was contributing when the current Prime Minister took office in 2015.
    We know that ending the government's disengagement is not enough to rebuild the health care system. The government needs to tackle the chronic underfunding with a significant reinvestment if we have any hope of being able to deal with the coming demographic crisis. Quebec and the Canadian provinces have said it again and again while providing ample evidence to support their case, but Ottawa is missing in action. Ottawa is the one holding on to the money that Quebec and the provinces urgently need on an ongoing basis.
    COVID-19 created an income crisis for individuals by forcing millions of people to stop working temporarily. It brought to light the flaws in the employment insurance system, which covers only a small portion of the contributors who lose their jobs. Because the system was inadequate, the government was forced to compensate by creating a whole host of special programs, which were often not well-thought-out, poorly targeted, ineffective and costly. However, these programs expired, as did the relaxed EI rules, which are now back to the way they were before 2020 and before COVID showed us how inadequate they were.
    With the threat of a recession looming, now is the time to fix the problems with the EI system, to make it more accessible and to adapt it to non-standard jobs, which are becoming increasingly common. Ottawa is refusing to conduct this necessary, in-depth reform.
    After the lockdowns, the economy reopened. This reopening of the economy also revealed its share of weaknesses. The housing shortage, caused by years of underfunding and not building enough homes, caused prices to skyrocket. Housing starts, especially for affordable rental housing and social and co-operative housing are still weak in 2023. Things need to change course and fast.
    The destabilization of our manufacturing sector made us seriously dependent on foreign suppliers in globalized supply chains, whose fragility was exposed during the crisis. There again, the disruptions led to shortages and high inflation, amplified by a lack of competition, which allowed mass distribution to increase its prices at will. We need to rebuild solid supply chains immediately and improve our competition regime. It is imperative that we improve the resilience of our economy.
    All these factors contributed to the increase in prices and then the successive interest rate hikes set by the central bank. We know who is suffering the most from this: people on a fixed income, such as pensioners, low-income earners who cannot cope with the increased cost of essentials, and heavily indebted households that are especially hard hit by rising interest rates, especially young families who recently purchased a home.
     As if that were not enough, we are now being rocked by international crises. Aggression against Ukraine is turning Russia into an international pariah and pushing it out of trade and economic channels. That has impacted the price of commodities, oil, grains and fertilizers, all of which have skyrocketed. In addition to reminding us that we need to urgently reduce our dependency on oil, war is affecting the agricultural sector in particular, where input costs have skyrocketed. That sector urgently needs to be given the tools to survive the crisis, as well as help to adopt a more sustainable model: supply management protection, predictability, resilience to annual yield variability and disasters, ecological transition, standards reciprocity and succession planning, among other things.

  (1115)  

    Then there is China. Its economy is far more diversified than that of Russia, and a rise in tensions is likely to impact many more sectors. In particular, we are completely dependent on China's supply of components needed for high-tech goods and the electrification of transportation. These sectors need a major boost.
    We already have a relative advantage because Quebec and Canada have critical mineral deposits. If we move from mining to producing batteries, as the government of Quebec is proposing, we will all have what it takes to become the engine of transportation electrification in North America and become a vital link in new and more resilient supply chains. In that area, Ottawa must align with Quebec to accelerate the rolling out of its strategy.
    Finally, there are crises unfolding in slow motion. There are three crises that we can see coming. They have been anticipated and analyzed for a long time, and there is no reason for not implementing the measures needed to address them.
    First of all, there are demographic changes. The aging population will put more pressure on health care services and on the public finances of Quebec and the provinces, as we know. As baby boomers retire, this will also have significant economic repercussions. Canada ranks near the bottom of OECD countries when it comes to protecting the purchasing power of retirees. There is an urgent need to preserve seniors' purchasing power to ensure that the demographic shock does not cause a major economic shock, which is why we want an increase in old age security that does not discriminate based on age.
    This wave of retirements is problematic for businesses. The labour shortage could prevent us from rebuilding our supply chains if we do not take steps to address the shortage. Incentives must be provided for experienced workers who want to stay on the job. Our businesses need to step up their productivity to help them deal with the labour shortage. The temporary foreign worker program must be transferred to Quebec, which will be able to make it more efficient and bring it in line with Quebec's labour policies.
    Then there is the climate crisis. Again, it has been unfolding for a long time, and we have analyzed it from every angle. However, we have been slow to act. Whether we are talking about shoreline erosion or the increase in extreme weather events, climate change will put enormous pressure on our public infrastructure. An adjustment fund is needed.
    More fundamentally, we must accelerate the transition to a net-zero economy. The money invested in oil and gas must be urgently redirected to the green economy, with a focus on energy efficiency in all sectors, the electrification of transportation, which includes critical mineral processing, the transition from oil to renewable energy, and more sustainable agricultural practices.
    As oil companies take advantage of international crises to rake in obscene profits, Ottawa must end all forms of subsidies, including subsidies for carbon sequestration and small nuclear power plants that are designed to produce energy to increase oil sands production. This money must be redirected to accelerating the transition.
    Given the enormity of the task and the urgent need for action, the financial sector will have to participate and gradually redirect its oil investments to the green economy. Ottawa must get the banks to step up to the plate by forcing them to integrate climate risks into their investments. Tens of billions of dollars could be made available for the green transition.
    There is the ongoing issue of the fiscal imbalance, which is causing major problems that are limiting the government's ability to address the many challenges it faces. There are three types of problems. First, Ottawa, which brings in more revenue than it needs to discharge its responsibilities, is not making an effort to manage its own affairs properly. The federal government is notoriously ineffective, and everything costs more than it should.

  (1120)  

    I would like to give two examples to illustrate this. It costs the federal government two and a half times more to process an EI claim than it costs the Quebec government to process a social assistance claim. It costs the federal government four times more to issue a passport than it costs the Quebec government to issue a driver's licence. Everything costs more and those are just two examples.
    Then, Ottawa uses its fiscal room to interfere in areas that fall under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. This sort of interference makes the sharing of powers less clear and less sound while undermining our autonomy. Administrative duplication is not in any way efficient. All it does is promote centralization in Ottawa.
    I will again give two examples. The first concerns something that happened very recently, specifically the implementation of the dental care program for children. Quebec already provides dental insurance. However, the federal government did not make any effort to harmonize programs and simply created a second program. That is completely inefficient and ends up costing twice as much. It is really outrageous, and the Bloc Québécois has spoken about that many times.
    Here is a more general example. People in Quebec have to complete two tax returns when, for years, the Quebec National Assembly and the Bloc Québécois have been calling for a single tax return. That is a useless and inefficient duplication of effort.
    Lastly, with regard to the fiscal imbalance, given that Ottawa tightly controls the purse strings of the governments of Quebec and the Canadian provinces, the Quebec government's ability to fully discharge its responsibilities is diminished.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer has been clear: If the trend continues, eventually, provincial governments will no longer be sustainable. They will likely collapse while the federal government's fiscal room will increase considerably. That is what the Parliamentary Budget Officer has been telling us in his fiscal sustainability report year after year.
    In other words, unless the trend is reversed, we run the risk of seeing an unprecedented centralization of power in Ottawa, which will take away the Quebec people's ability to control their development according to their needs, strengths, characteristics and wishes.
    In that regard, at a time when this government is choosing to contribute six times less for health care than Quebec and the provinces are asking for to fix the system, Ottawa has unprecedented fiscal room that is in excess of $80 billion, or three times the amount of the health care requests.
    Let me explain. Ottawa increasingly budgets money for voted items that it fails to spend year after year. When you add up the items that were voted and the spending that was authorized but not spent last year, $41 billion was left on the table. Let me repeat that. Some $41 billion was left on the table because it was voted or authorized but not spent. This is in addition to another $40 billion in extra fiscal room, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. If the federal government wanted to maintain its debt-to-GDP ratio, it could increase spending or reduce revenues by that amount.
    When we talk about unprecedented centralization and the fact that the money is here, we are talking about $81 billion in one single year. That is three times the amount the provinces and Quebec were asking for to better fund health care. Ottawa said no and agreed to six times less. That is peanuts. The federal government is gradually stabilizing its share, and the money stays here. That money will be used for new programs that interfere in our jurisdictions. There is no respect for the governments of Quebec and the provinces or for the National Assembly.
    It was with these important challenges in mind that the Bloc Québécois drew up its expectations for the 2023 federal budget. We presented them to the minister a few weeks ago. Considering the challenges we are facing, now is not the time for shiny new programs, which are often not within the federal government's purview anyway, nor for pre-election pandering.
    Financially speaking, the way to avoid austerity is to be prudent. Economically speaking, the best way to insulate ourselves from the potential turmoil of an extraordinarily uncertain environment is to tackle the fundamental issues. In this period of uncertainty, we need to get back to the essentials. The strengths of Quebec's economy are precisely what is needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world.
    Also, the way to meet the current needs of the different sectors of Quebec's economy is to finally step into the 21st century. We have an abundant supply of clean, renewable energy, especially hydroelectricity. In this area, the shift is already under way, and we are ready to move on to the next step, which is a net-zero economy.

  (1125)  

    If our forests are managed sustainably, they are renewable resources that could be one of the keys to replacing hydrocarbons. More research would allow more processing and greater generation of wealth with this resource. Our proximity agriculture has already espoused the model of the future in favour of short circuits and food security.
    We need to help our farmers face the current international turmoil that is inflating input prices and we need to help them develop more sustainable practices. That is the future.
    When it comes to critical minerals essential to the redevelopment of supply chains and the electrification of transportation, the only mines in operation in Canada are in our neck of the woods. We need to move from mines to batteries and become an essential link in the chain, especially when it comes to supplying North America.
     Obviously, all that development needs to respect the highest environmental standards, in partnership with indigenous communities and with the agreement of local communities. It is good for the green economy, it is good for economic resilience, it is good for strategically positioning Quebec in a changing world.
    Another one of Quebec's strengths is its creativity. A stagnant society struggles to cope with change. The antidote is creativity, and Quebec has that in spades. This is especially true for its arts and culture sector, so we must ensure that it maintains its vitality and influence, and the French language is the most vivid expression of that creativity. That being said, this same is true for all fields.
    Yesterday's tinkerers are now working in artificial intelligence, creating the next video game, developing the next green finance instruments, working on the aeronautics industry of tomorrow. That is already the case. As Canada's technology hub, Quebec has what it takes to become silicon valley north, as long as we support our cutting-edge sectors.
    Finally, there is our social model, particularly our tax and family policies. Because of them, wealth is more evenly distributed in Quebec than anywhere else on the continent. The middle class is larger in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada or the United States and, in a world that is under pressure, that guarantees a more peaceful life and social harmony. That is why it is so important to maintain the Quebec government's ability to take action, and that is why we must seriously address the fiscal imbalance that undermines that ability.
    As with all of the expectations set out in the committee report we are discussing, the Bloc Québécois presented a series of requests covering many aspects of Quebec's economy. We outlined them here. They reflect the requests expressed by various sectors of Quebec society when consultations were held by all members of the Bloc Québécois. They respond to Quebec's real needs. They will help Quebec deal with all the existing crises and will make us more resilient. They will enable Quebec to embrace the future with confidence.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member briefly touched on the electrical grid, the greening of that grid and the great success Quebec had seen around this. A number of recommendations in this report specifically talk about incentivizing electric vehicles and the infrastructure for electric vehicles.
     I think it is widely known that Quebec has led the way in providing that infrastructure for electric vehicles. Could the member speak to the incredible of success of Quebec in that area and how the rest of the country could benefit from the lessons that Quebec has learned?

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, a significant portion of the Standing Committee on Finance's report, and the demands of the Bloc Québécois, deals with the electrification of transportation. One of the key components of transport electrification is the construction of charging station infrastructure so that drivers can charge their vehicles in various locations. That is well under way in Quebec and in British Columbia too, if I am not mistaken, where it is going well.
    Obviously, to make electric vehicles appealing, we first need to require dealers and manufacturers to have models available at the dealership, which is not always the case, even in Quebec. We are asking Ottawa to introduce legislation in that regard and also to build a network of fast charging stations. A car that has a range of 400 kilometres, or 250 kilometres in winter, has to be able to charge in different locations. The hon. members for Berthier—Maskinongé and Drummond can attest to that.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague, as he is always working hard to fight for tax fairness and close loopholes that allow for extremely wealthy individuals to move their money out of the country.
    One thing I am hearing from constituents is that people who applied for CERB and who might not have properly read the application, which might have not been clear from the government, are now being told that their child tax benefit will be reduced or, even worse, are getting a bill from CRA saying they have to pay it. Instead of the government going after big companies that paid out dividends to shareholders and collected the wage subsidy, it is going after low-income Canadians. This is creating huge mental health stress for Canadians and huge financial stress for them and their families. These people are already struggling.
    Does my hon. colleague agree that there should be CERB repayment amnesty for all Canadians who are struggling right now?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for raising that important issue.
    I think all of my colleagues in the House of Commons would agree. We are getting a lot of calls from families that have had their child benefit cut, probably because they received CERB payments that the Canada Revenue Agency wants to claw back.
    No arrangements seem to have been taken into account. This approach can really lead to suffering and poverty for these families. We sincerely hope that the government will look at this, that the Minister of National Revenue will be able to address this and find a solution. We hope so. We will see whether she will do anything about this. It is really troubling.
    I really liked the comparison the hon. member made. When it comes to regular folks, the government is quick to claw back money it is owed without even asking, but when it comes to multinationals, billionaires and fighting tax evasion, then it is much more complicated, sadly.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my dear colleague, the member for Joliette, who is also the Bloc Québécois finance critic. I have a question about next week's budget.
    What does he think about the money being wasted on the fossil fuel industry? For example, the Government of Canada owns the Trans Mountain pipeline. The cost of the project has ballooned to $30 billion of public money.
    What does he think about that?
    Madam Speaker, first, I want to pay tribute to and thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her strong commitment to the planet. The IPCC's recent report reminds us of the urgent need for action, and I salute her commitment, her life's work, as we were saying earlier in a private conversation.
     In my opinion, the government made the wrong choice for both the environment and the economy. That is why we were opposed, as was my hon. colleague. The time has come for the government to step from the 20th century into the 21st century and to support the green economy. It needs to stop supporting the oil economy. We still need it, but there must be a gradual, clear transition. For goodness' sake, subsidies to billionaire oil companies need to stop.

  (1135)  

    Madam Speaker, I congratulate my very esteemed colleague from Joliette on his speech and comments, which are always enlightening, well-thought-out and prepared. We always appreciate the discussions we have with him.
    Quebec cares deeply about its culture. This week, the Government of Quebec tabled its budget. There are allocations for culture, especially for certain aspects of culture that I appreciate, in particular facilitating access to culture for youth. Money is allocated for that. Also, some $100 million over five years is being invested in Télé-Québec, if I am not mistaken. That is in addition to Télé‑Québec's current budget. There is also assistance for the media sector.
    My question for my colleague is this. The Bloc Québécois expressed its expectations for the cultural sector and, especially, the media sector. I would like him to briefly speak about the importance of the resources we are calling for to restore the vitality of the media sector.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Drummond for his question, his comments and the kind words he said about me. We could praise one another all day, for I could say the same about him.
    Language and culture are at the heart of our identity and our pride. They are what sustain us. They are what inspire us. It is the government's job to support our creators and organizations as well as the ecosystem that surrounds them. This includes the news media. Having high-quality, independent, local news is crucial.
    Let us look at my community as an example. In Joliette, local media like radio stations and weekly newspapers are having a really tough time, particularly because advertising has shifted from local media to the web giants with no compensation. I see these news organizations as an essential service. It is the government's job to support them and ensure that we continue to have high-quality, local news.
    That is what the Bloc Québécois is asking for, and we will not back down.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, in her last budget and latest fall economic update, our Minister of Finance talked about Canada's lagging productivity numbers compared to those of our trading partners. She even called this “Canada's Achilles heel”.
    I wonder if my colleague shares that concern. What does he think is the source of the lagging productivity problem, and could he point to some solutions?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, productivity is incredibly important. In terms of business productivity, Canada is lagging behind our G7 allies, as well as the average across high-income OECD countries. This needs to change.
    Productivity measures the amount of value generated per hour worked. It is dependent on the amount of capital, the technology used and other factors. The level of technology and capital per hour worked in Canadian businesses do not adequately compare to other countries. Something needs to be done.
    To fix this problem, the government must support leading-edge sectors like the aerospace industry. Various cities across the country have a strong aerospace industry, and the greater Montreal area is the third-largest aerospace hub in the world. Canada is the only country that has a very large aerospace industry but does not have an industrial policy to support research, development, commercialization and so on.
    The government needs to do a better job of supporting productivity, investment, research and development.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am so pleased to rise in the House today. Before I begin, I will mention that I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Griesbach.
    We talk about budgets, and I hear rhetoric in the House almost on a daily basis about how people from coast to coast are struggling to make ends meet, with a particular reference to single mothers. The story of the single mother is consistently usurped in this House without real solutions to tackle issues of poverty and inequality in this country.
    I actually was a single mom, as I have mentioned in the House. When I first had my son, I was one of the people we talk about in the House. I was not a single mom at the time, but I had just graduated from university and I was poor. The only thing that kept a roof over our heads at the time and allowed me to feed my son was affordable housing with rent geared to income and social assistance. I had just given birth to my child, and my partner at the time had employment that did not pay the bills, so I needed to get help.
    I share this today because I often find that in this place these stories are taken by people who have never had lived experience with struggling to make ends meet or struggling to feed their kids. I share today, with my head held high, that I was one of those folks. It is an experience that allows me to understand that things are more difficult in life than a person picking themselves up by their bootstraps so they can survive.
    Very often things are much more complicated in the lives of individuals and families, and they were for me at the time. I consider myself a well-educated person. It certainly was not about a lack of intelligence or hard work. It was just a matter of the circumstances of life at the time.
    I share this because we are still coming out of a global pandemic that has impacted families from coast to coast, a pandemic that has left families more economically vulnerable than we have seen in a long time. We had programs put in place during the pandemic that kept food on the table, I would argue. We had CERB.
    Now, as we move in another direction in real time, the current government is not going after big corporations to pay their fair share of the pandemic. It is not going after the billionaire class to pay their fair share of the pandemic. It is not going after big CEOs to pay their fair share of the pandemic. Do members know who it is going after? It is low-income parents to get money from the monies they collected from CERB, knowing that costs for families were drastically impacted during the pandemic.
    That is unacceptable, and who is the most impacted by it? It is single mothers with multiple children. We are talking about housing and supporting families. This is going to leave a lot of families on the verge of falling into the streets.
    Going back to my story, I was very fortunate at the time that I had affordable housing with rent geared to income. It allowed me to keep food on the table when food did not cost as much. That is not the reality right now, which is why the NDP has called on the current government to put in place CERB amnesty for low-income families in particular. The process the government is using could result in families being at greater risk of precarious housing and being placed in deeper levels of poverty. We know that people who were already behind before the pandemic are further behind now.

  (1140)  

    We need to stop poor-bashing in this place. We need to stop the simplified discussions about how to deal with the growing poverty crisis that impacts my riding of Winnipeg Centre, Manitoba, which was just reported to have some of the highest child poverty rates in the country.
     Children are supposed to be provided with minimum human rights. We have signed on to international law. We have an obligation to uphold international and domestic laws to ensure that children are provided with basic human rights, which are being violated every day, whether in urban centres, first nations communities, indigenous communities or Inuit communities across the country.
    I hope all my colleagues in the House will support the call for a CERB amnesty for low-income families, which, again, are the most impacted. If we are so concerned about the story of the single mother, it will be single mothers with multiple children who will be most impacted. That, for me, as the member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre, is a true test of this so-called care I hear about in this place all the time. We must have CERB amnesty now.
    The NDP also put forward a dental care plan, a universal pharmacare plan, and has been fighting for a national child care strategy that prioritizes public, not-for-profit care. We have been working with frontline advocates and organizations for almost 30 years to push that forward.
     I am glad the current government finally heeded our call to implement a national child care strategy. This would have made a difference in my life and the life of my son. We talk about people working multiple jobs to pay the bills. I was one of those single moms who had to work multiple jobs to pay the bills. Part of the reason for that was because of high child care costs. I literally had to work more so I could work.
    If members of the House want to support families, then they need to support a universal dental care plan, universal pharmacare and a national child care strategy that ensures that all children are afforded their minimum human right to have access to affordable, accessible, high-quality child care. These services are essential for supporting families, as is the addition of affordable housing with rents geared to income and my bill, Bill C-223, to put in place a guaranteed livable basic income.
    I want to build a Canada where families are not begging to eat, where we do not make the assumption we are all born with the same privileges, where nobody is living in poverty, and where we stop poor-bashing and deal with what is going on in our country at the very roots of inequality. We can do that as members in the House.
     Therefore, today, I call on all members of the House to support the NDP's call, and certainly my bill for a guaranteed livable basic income, and build a Canada for all.

  (1145)  

    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the very personal nature of her discussion about being a single mother.
    My wife, before we got together, was a single mother who benefited from a good support network around her. However, the reality is that so many single mothers out there do not have that support mechanism.
    Toward the end of her speech, the member spoke specifically about a basic income. I know the NDP has been rightfully calling for that for a number of years and it is something I agree that we need to understand and implement.
    Could she comment on how a basic income would directly help single mothers, in particular those who do not have access to good supports.

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, we need to start talking about the high cost of poverty, not the high cost of a guaranteed livable basic income. We have income guarantees right now. My bill would not offer anything new.
     What I argue, though, is that the income guarantees we currently have are not livable. GIS for seniors is an income guarantee that is not livable. We know that when we do not look after seniors, or anybody, and when we do not provide people with what they need, it costs in other areas, like health care and justice systems.
     We know that with a guaranteed livable basic income, and we have income guarantees, we need to make them livable and expand them out for those who are falling through the cracks of our social safety net.
    Madam Speaker, I am very intrigued by the concept of CERB amnesty. I would like to hear some more details about my colleague's thoughts about that. Will there be means testing? I am assuming that applicants for this amnesty would have to be below a certain income or below a certain wealth level. Would there also be inquiries as to why applicants for amnesty applied for CERB when they clearly did no qualify for it? How about the people who decided not to apply for CERB because they knew they did not pass the test? Would they also qualify now for a CERB payment after the fact?
    Madam Speaker, we should be clear that this program was not clear to begin with. There were calls to apply for CERB and then we would deal with it after. That is important to point out.
    A lot of people benefited from support during the pandemic. We know that if we do CERB clawbacks for families that are currently living at lower incomes right now, it is going to result in people ending up on the streets.
    Income assistance programs are not enough for families to survive, and children are going to be punished for this. I am calling for this, as is the NDP. Instead of going after families living in poverty, instead of going after poor people all the time, poor bashing and criminalizing poor people, let us to go after rich CEOs who collected bonuses during the pandemic from programs that were paid by the government
    I get tired of that rhetoric in the House. It is not based on research. It is not based on fact. It is a violence that continues in the House against people living in poverty, and I do not accept it.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I wanted to say that I myself have been a single mother with three children. I have had to work two jobs.
    I would also like to talk about the cause of poverty, support for families, and funding to help them and single mothers.
    From my colleague's point of view, what should the government prioritize in terms of support?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, what I have offered up is not one solution. We need robust supports and services for families, like dental care, universal child care, pharmacare, guaranteed livable basic income and investment in affordable housing with rent geared to income. We need a comprehensive strategy to tackle social inequality.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleagues for engaging in what I believe to be a really important discussion today.
    To be clear, Canadians are suffering right now. In my community of Edmonton Griesbach, one does not have to look far to see the devastating impacts of poverty. There are community organizations with some of the biggest hearts and biggest hugs one can imagine, but that does not go far enough when we see critical under-resourcing and underfunding of some of the most essential services our country needs to offer. When we do not offer them, we see community organizations having to do that work, the work of health care, the work of mental health, the work that is required to ensure that regular everyday people can maximize their opportunities.
    People living in absolute poverty, living in the absolute worst situations one can imagine, if they have no homes or supports, are driven to a place in life where they may seek, for example, substances, which they abuse. They will fall down the rabbit hole of trying to find mental health services and will be unable to find them. It is a kind of labyrinth of poverty that our country has created, and we can address it and fix it. We are wealthy country.
    We would not know that by looking outside. We would not know how wealthy our country really is by the conditions of workers. We would not know how wealthy our country is by the lack of clean water in first nations communities. We would not know how wealthy our country really is until we look at the bonuses big CEOs get. These are questions of our society, of our economy, questions about what kind of Canada we want to build.
    When I speak to folks in my province of Alberta, they are scared. They are scared of a crumbling health care system that is being driven into the ground by private huge megacorporations that would seek to benefit and profit off those who are sick, and it is being allowed by the politicians for whom they pay.
     Danielle Smith, the premier of Alberta, right now is allowing for-profit surgeries in my home province. It is shameful when seniors are waiting in emergency rooms day after day not knowing if they are going to get the care they need.
    I speak to many young people who are struggling to even imagine an idea of owning a home. Even worse, some of them are living on our streets, the most vulnerable in our society. Who put them there? It was not solely the actions of individuals who got them there. It was our society that participated in a manufactured condition.
    We are seeing a mental health crisis. When I see people in my community struggling to get the supports they need, there are often massive barriers. One of the biggest barriers is money. There is a lack of public mental health care, and that lack of public health care downloads costs onto our existing health care system. This massively and exponentially compounds the problems we are seeing in our hospitals.
     Hospitals cannot be the one-stop shop for all problems in society. We need to reinforce our hospitals and reinvest in them, but we also need to create more mental health supports with real professionals who can ensure that the work of mental health and the kinds of supports needed in that kind of care are met.
    We are witnessing a drug-poisoning crisis. It is killing Canadians. It is a crisis that has touched every community that we all represent in this place. Whether it is young people, seniors, business owners or teachers, they are dying because we are not doing anything about the drug-poisoning crisis. We can do more.
    When driven to absolute poverty, the increase in crimes goes up. These are crimes of desperation. People do not want to see themselves in a penitentiary, but when they find themselves there, we have to ask ourselves as legislators, as people who represent our constituents, how did they get there? It is not, as I said before, the actions of just individuals; it is the conditions of poverty that we have placed upon them.
    There is an answer to this, and the New Democrats have been steadfast for decades to distinguish between the needs and wants of Canadians. The needs of Canadians are the things I spoke to: good public health care; a good, strong public mental health care system; housing stock that can ensure that low-income folks can get into those homes.

  (1155)  

    We need to address the drug poisoning crisis. We need to make sure that there are resources invested in mental health. We need to take seriously the inflictions of poverty and the outcomes they present. We can ensure that our economy actually works for those who are working to build it.
    There seems to be a problem with our conception of where wealth comes from in this country. People think CEOs get up in a day and produce all this money. No, it is workers who show up every single day, like the small business owners in my community. They are not only those who offer their philanthropy to those who need help, but they are also the same people who are suffering in their own right. They are seeing huge costs passed on to them, and they cannot afford to compete with these megacorporations that are dodging taxes while simultaneously gouging Canadians. How can a small business compete with that? It is not possible.
    We need to protect those in the working class in this country. They need strong wages. We do not have a labour shortage in this country; we have a wage crisis. When we increase the wages of everyday workers and they can see the value of their labour produced in their paycheque, that is a good day for workers. It means they can actually put food on the table, pay their bills and pay their mortgages.
    However, the problem gets worse. It is not just ensuring that workers have good wages but also ensuring that these companies are held to account. We are seeing some of the largest tax avoidance in our country's history taking place right under our noses today, and I will speak directly to some of the facts on this.
    The tax gap has almost doubled in the last three years. Corporations are walking away with $30 billion in tax avoidance. We could close the tax loopholes today if only we had the courage of the government to see this as a serious problem.
    I will take a moment to talk about the $30 billion, which can go a long way. We are going to see a budget in a short few weeks, and it is going to demonstrate a massive underfunding of public services if we do not ensure that we close these tax loopholes.
    Canadians deserve to know that when they show up to work for massive corporations, these corporations are also paying their fair share. When regular, everyday folks are paying exorbitant tax and seeing that these megacorporations are not, there are doubts about the efficacy of our tax system. Moreover, it creates a kind of distrust, which is growing across Canada.
    We need to fix our tax system, in which corporations see massive profits, with some up 60%, while simultaneously seeing their tax gap go down. This is creating a massive revenue problem. For the government, and in speaking directly with the commissioner of the CRA, it is a massive issue.
     The CRA needs resources to ensure that it can tackle this. However, right now, these resources are being directed to a witch hunt of little old ladies who took CERB in the most desperate time of need instead of going after the rich corporations that have massive windfall profits. Instead of taxing them, we are going to use CRA to attack these poor folks. We are calling for an amnesty for these folks.
    I will conclude, as there will be a vote on this amendment in a short while, with regard specifically to the amendment that has been brought by the Conservative Party. New Democrats have been fighting for years to see a pan-Canadian licensing that would make sure we have a standard so that we can increase our workforce, particularly in health care, right here at home. We can do this by ensuring that those who bring those skills here actually have the ability to enter our workforce quickly. We have been calling for this ever since the leader of the official opposition was in federal cabinet, as a matter of fact. Therefore, we are very happy to see the official opposition adopting a very important policy that New Democrats have fought for, and we welcome that.
    However, my colleague on the finance committee tells me that this specific program was not raised during the committee hearings on the budget, and so it actually was not heard. The Conservatives did not mention it. To be clear, we want action on this issue, but we will be opposing the amendment because we think it is important that the House have a chance to concur in committee before the budget day next week. It is important that we have that.
    I will conclude with that, and I thank my colleagues.

  (1200)  

    Mr. Speaker, I was listening attentively. I heard the part of my colleague's speech where he talked about not having a labour shortage but a wage shortage. I may have that slightly incorrect, and he can correct me.
    I found that to be very interesting. I would agree that, especially since the pandemic came along, the divergence between the haves and the have nots is getting worse and worse and greater and greater. We know that what makes the most successful society, both economically and from a societal perspective, is having a strong middle class in there.
    Can he expand on that and his suggestions in order to help remedy that?

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, the middle class in this country is important. These are the folks who ensure that our economy is continuing to function. They are contributing every single day. They are showing up to work and making sure that they can put food on the table.
    The people I am thinking about are those who the middle class often leaves behind. This class of people is growing in this country. Those who need, who are in desperation and who cannot afford to put food on the table are the ones falling behind.
    It is incumbent on the government to ensure that no one falls behind, particularly when it comes to the needs of Canadians, health care or mental health. We can make the investments that lift these people out of the condition they are in. They do not want a handout; they want a hand up. We can provide that to them because they are people with dignity. They are people with tremendous stories and life experiences who deserve the respect that every worker needs.
    I will conclude with this. We can eliminate poverty in this country. It is not a matter of money; it is a matter of will.
    Mr. Speaker, one thing I found interesting was about the drug addiction crisis that we are facing in this country. One thing the Conservatives are focused on doing is providing more treatment for people who need to receive it.
    Many mothers have come to my office to talk to me about either somebody in their immediate family or an acquaintance, and how their son or daughter is unable to get the treatment that they deserve because of a lack of beds and a lack of access. Treatment is what these people need so that they have hope to be able to get their lives back on track so they can become regular members of society once again. Would the member agree with me on that?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to preface my comments on the opioid crisis and the drug poisoning crisis by mentioning the lives that have been lost. We have already lost thousands across this country. People who die cannot seek treatment. That is the problem we have. One can have as many beds as they like, but if we are not addressing the stigma and the barriers to getting that support, we are not doing these folks any favours. We need to ensure that we understand the critical points of how this crisis is affecting us. We need to understand that poverty plays a role in that.
    We can ensure that people have options. Most times, these folks often need access to what is a health care problem in their lives. We can, of course, ensure that there are benefits towards treatment. However, that cannot be the only solution. There is no silver bullet to this problem. We need to have a holistic solution that addresses the conditions in terms of why people are entering this kind of state. That means anti-poverty measures; ensuring that we have good, safe access to a safe supply; and ensuring that we can meet these people where they are at.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. He talked a lot about poverty and lack of income. I would like to ask him about seniors.
    The Bloc Québécois recently held a conference in the riding of Shefford, where our critic lives. We heard from experts on the subject. Unfortunately, they confirmed our interpretation of the Liberal government's policy of not increasing old age security starting at age 65. It is the Liberal government's way of getting seniors to work. The message the government is sending them is that they need to get out there and work if they do not have enough money.
    However, not everyone is able to return to the labour market at age 65 or more. Some people are sick, and others held very difficult jobs their whole lives. I think it is appalling and unacceptable to withhold money from a segment of society like that. If the government wants to encourage people aged 65 and over to go to work, then it should give them tax credits, for example. However, we should treat all seniors equally without discriminating based on age. I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on that.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my colleague for bringing up an important topic and advocating for seniors. Seniors are the same people who built this country. They fought for our freedoms. They ensured that we have the kind of beautiful blessings we do today. They are asking for basic respect and decency, which begins with ensuring that the systems they built work for them.
    The position the government has on not indexing OAS to 65, and instead picking the arbitrary number of 75, is disrespectful. I agree with the member that this is one of the most disrespectful things a government can do. After a lifetime of hard work, these people are left without the supports they need; it is shameful.

  (1210)  

    Mr. Speaker, I must admit that when I first came here today, I did not realize that we would be discussing such an important topic, but I am glad we are. There are a number of recommendations in this report from the finance committee being concurred in at this point. I am looking forward to talking about some of the recommendations in here.
    I am going to focus my conversations on two areas that I have great interest in and that are referenced in this report. The first would be with respect to electric vehicles and electrifying our grid. The second is with respect to fossil fuel subsidies and a recommendation in here that references those specifically.
    In a prelude to my conversation around electric vehicles and the incentives and recommendations that are in this report, I think it is important to reflect on how far this country and developed nations have come in terms of electric vehicles and zero-emission vehicles more generally speaking.
    It is worth noting that in 2017, only 1% of vehicles that were registered in Canada were considered electric vehicles. By 2019, this was at 2.9%. By 2022, in the first quarter, it was at 7.7%, and it is said to be as high as 10% now. This means that 10% of the vehicles currently being registered right now are electric vehicles.
    This is very important, and I will attempt to explain why. If people are familiar with the five stages of technology adoption, they are probably familiar with the bell curve that talks about the diffusion of new technology.
    Basically, the first 2.5% of people are at the front end of that bell curve. These are the innovators, the people who go out and buy things because they genuinely believe in them. They are willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money, because they can often do so, to be the first people to have these new technologies.
    After that, the next 13.5% are the early adopters. These are the people who buy things for the purpose of believing in the cause. They are starting to see a price point that works for their budget, so they go out and buy it.
    After that, we have the early majority, at 34%. These are people who are basically buying because they have seen other people do it, and now they want to do it.
    We then have the late majority. These are the people buying because they have to at this point.
    At the very end, the last 15% or 16% are the laggards. These are the people who have to buy it because they have no choice other than to buy the technology that everybody else has adopted.
    I bring this up because, at 10%, we are past the halfway point through the early adopters. Once we hit 15%, the threshold between the early adopters and the early majority, that is the tipping point. Once we hit that point in terms of market penetration, we will see everything start to move very quickly.
    If we can say that 10% of the vehicles that are being registered in Canada right now are electric vehicles, we are only 5% away from that tipping point. Once we hit it, things will move very quickly. I think it is incumbent upon government to be prepared for this. It is coming, and it is going to happen.
    We know there is an EV revolution. We know we need to revolutionize the way we produce, store and transmit electricity. That is why I was glad to see a number of recommendations in this report that specifically speak to this.
    Anybody who has heard me speak in the House around this subject knows that I am very passionate about electric vehicles. I will speak to it almost any opportunity I have. It is important because we have the ability to tackle a very important problem. We have the ability, on an individual level, to tackle a very important issue, and that is climate change.
    I am very proud of the fact that there are industries setting up right around my community of Kingston and the Islands. The first would be Umicore, which is actually in a neighbouring riding represented by a Conservative member in the House, the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington.
    Umicore is a European-based company that has chosen to come to Ontario. Great credit is due to the folks in the member's riding who were able to do the incredible work to attract this multi-billion dollar company to Hastings—Lennox and Addington. It is going to be building the largest battery-manufacturing facility for electric vehicles in North America.

  (1215)  

    It is going to be building the largest battery-manufacturing facility for electric vehicles in North America, something like $5 billion, in Hastings—Lennox and Addington just outside my riding, to the west of me.
    I think this is incredible because, as we see these new technologies developing and see more and more people being interested in electric vehicles, Canada has the opportunity to be at the forefront of this. We have the opportunity to be ahead of this. We have the opportunity to export the technology once it is being developed here. It is very important. It is very important for our area, but it is also very important for the country.
    There is another aspect to this. Quite often the argument about electric vehicles, when I get into discussions with people, whether through social media or in person, is, “Well, what about the mining and the lithium and all of the negative environmental impacts that go into the production of the required elements in order to make these batteries?” The ongoing narrative is that it is extremely harmful to the environment.
    I am not going to stand here and try to dismiss that. I think those are valid concerns, but what I can say is that there is another industry starting to emerge in our country, another industry, located in my riding, that has one of the first plants to do this.
    If we can believe this, in the northern part of Kingston, which we call, in Kingston, “north of Princess” because Princess Street is the dividing line, pretty much, for our city, there is an old industrial area. I mean “old” as in going back to the 1940s and 1950s. It was the original industrial area in Kingston, outside of the Shipyards building, which was more along the water. In this area, there is a company called Li-Cycle, which has started to recycle lithium batteries. It receives lithium batteries from throughout the country. These are end-of-life batteries for electric vehicles or batteries from vehicles that have been in accidents and have been written off.
    There are actually only two facilities in Canada doing this right now, using different technologies. One is in my riding and one is on the west coast. They take these batteries and can recycle up to 97% or 98% of each battery. They can break them down into the elements in order to create brand new EV batteries.
    With fossil fuels, we extract oil out of the ground, refine it and produce gasoline with which we fill up our tanks. Once they are burned, they are gone and they have created CO2, which is in the atmosphere. By contrast, once an EV battery hits its end-of-life stage, it can be transferred and broken down into the original elements to make a new battery, using 97% of that original battery. I think that is very telling about what the technologies have to offer as we move into the future.
    Li-Cycle is a great success story. It is actually where the Prime Minister chose to bring the President of the European Commission when she came to visit a couple of weeks ago, to this facility in my riding, which, I should note, is now expanding because the current location is too small. The company is building a new facility, 10 times the size, still in my riding, just more on the west side of the city. I am very excited about that.
    I will come to the recommendations in this report, given the prelude I have made to this point.
    Recommendation 41 specifically talks about zero-emission vehicles and rebates for low- and modest-income individuals and families. This is a program, according to the report, that was based on another program from California, and I think it has great potential.
    Of course, one of the barriers, especially when one goes back to the bell curve I talked about earlier, is that if someone is an innovator or an early adopter, they are paying more than the average person can for these technologies. If we can try to assist individuals to access the technology sooner, we will hit that tipping point sooner. Therefore, I am very glad to see that a recommendation is put in here that specifically tries to encourage and give access to individuals of lower or modest income, in terms of rebates, when they are looking to purchase zero-emission vehicles.
    Also within recommendation 41 is a reference to “green cash for clunkers”, which I can only assume is to provide people with money that goes toward green technologies if they trade in old vehicles, which are notorious for being large emitters.

  (1220)  

    There is also a rebate suggestion, in recommendation number 41, for taxis and car-sharing services. The important thing about that is that the recommendation specifically states that these rebates should be stackable so people do not have to choose between one and the other. Again, it is really trying to help individuals and business owners, as it relates to taxis or car sharing, to penetrate into this market.
    Of course, there are the educational programs, also referenced in recommendation number 41, about educating the public on zero-emission vehicles, including how to access them, what they are actually like to drive and what benefits they have for the environment.
    I also noticed in here that recommendation number 178 talks about a goal of one million EV parking stalls to be installed in apartments and condos throughout Canada, which is, again, another great recommendation.
    I asked my Bloc colleague earlier about Quebec's success, and the reality is that Quebec has had tremendous success in this. Quebec entered into an agreement in 2006, I believe, with California and Ontario to develop the cap-and-trade model. This incentivized electrifying the grid, put incentives into transitioning away from fossil fuels. Ontario, when Doug Ford came along, decided to get out of it. In that short period of time, since Doug Ford has been premier, the difference between Ontario and Quebec, with respect to electrifying the grid and providing car-charging stations, is like night and day.
    Last summer, I drove with my wife through Quebec. It is almost impossible not to find an electric vehicle charging station once one enters the province of Quebec, because the province has been so aggressive when it comes to ensuring the infrastructure is there. The federal government needs to take the lead and tell other provinces they need to start being more like Quebec when it comes to the capacity to charge electric vehicles, because it is absolutely key if we are just about at that tipping point.
    Doug Ford and the rest of the premiers are going to find themselves in a lot of trouble very shortly, once we hit that tipping point and suddenly they realize they do not have the capacity. I do not want to have to say “I told you so”, but I would like to warn them in advance that this was all foreseeable years ago. Quebec saw it and Ontario saw it; Ontario bailed and Quebec did not. Quebec is now ready for it and will be even more ready as we get toward that tipping point.
    I also saw that recommendation number 179 specifically talks about EV requirements and putting them into the national building code. Why is this important? Most provinces in Canada rely on the national building code as their building codes. Some provinces, like Ontario and Quebec, have their own building codes, but they are very heavily influenced by the national building code. The recommendation would ensure that, within the national building code, we would tell contractors that, when they are building a new house, they have to put in the hard-wiring for an EV station even if it is not going to be installed now. Running a 10-gauge or eight-gauge wire, or whatever is required for that, at the construction stage is a lot cheaper than asking a homeowner to do it retroactively after their house has been built.
    I live in a condo in Ottawa, which was brand new when I moved into it in 2015. I almost fell out of my seat when I saw that it did not have some capacity for electric vehicle charging within that building, as is the case in the vast majority of buildings in the downtown area of Ottawa and in other municipalities throughout this province, for that matter. We need to put it into the building code, to say that, when building a new building, builders have to at least have the infrastructure and the hardwiring in place to ensure we can deal with this when the time comes.
     I also noticed that recommendation number 181 is, “Include EV charger installation or EV-readiness as part of energy efficiency programs...in older houses.” A lot of older homes in this country, especially those 40 years and older, have only 60-amp service running into them, and this cannot realistically handle what is required. Therefore, putting incentives in place to help people with older homes upgrade to 100- or 200-amp service would be beneficial in the long run when it comes to EVs.
    I am very glad to see all this very important work in there regarding EVs.

  (1225)  

    I really hope that the government picks up on some of these recommendations, because I think they are very meaningful. I do not know how the committee came to them. I do not know if it was the Liberals or the Bloc or the NDP that pushed these through. My sense is that the Conservatives probably did not have a ton to do with it, with all due respect. However, I am very glad to see these in there. I certainly will reference this when I am talking to my government about these recommendations.
    Finally, in the last few minutes that I have, I want to talk about recommendation 6, regarding fossil fuel subsidies, which states, “Divert subsidies from the fossil fuel sector towards the development of renewable and efficient energy sources, while supporting those most impacted by this transition.”
    This is absolutely key. There is one criticism I have of my government, despite the fact that many people in the House think I am just here to be the mouthpiece of my government in the House.
    Do not nod your head, Mr. Speaker; you are not supposed to have an opinion on this.
    If there is one thing I am critical of, it is the speed at which we have been removing fossil fuel subsidies. I know we have been doing it. We have been doing a lot of work on it and have slowly been getting there. I understand there are always circumstances that create scenarios that make things harder to do with great haste.
     However, I believe we should not be subsidizing the fossil fuel industry, full stop. That is my position on it. That has been my position on it for a number of years. That is my own personal position. I continue to make that known to those in charge on this side of the House.
    Having said that, the NDP will quite often say that we have actually increased fossil fuel subsidies. I might even get a question on this. I would like to say that where we have increased money is by helping certain regions of the country deal with orphan oil wells. I know, and I do not disagree, that those who created the wells should have been responsible for dealing with them at the end of life. However, in many cases they did not.
    It falls on somebody to be responsible, and in this case that somebody has to be the federal and the provincial government working together. I do not consider money being used to deal with orphan wells that have been completely abandoned to be a fossil fuel subsidy, when there is no ability to create recourse with those responsible. I consider that the right societal thing to do, regardless of who has to pay for it. If there is any way to go back and get the proper funding from those responsible for paying for it, I would be completely supportive of that. However, I will not just stand by and watch an orphan oil well sit there, and not insist we do something about it. I do not include dealing with orphan oil wells as part of a fossil fuel subsidy.
    To that end, we have been moving in the right direction. I want to move faster in that direction. I see that this recommendation specifically talks about moving there quickly. It talks about using those funds specifically to support those most impacted in this transition. There are a ton of new opportunities and new technologies out there. I think the government could do very well by helping those transitioning into working in these new clean technologies. There are tremendous opportunities in the future.
    I am not here to advocate, in any way, that we abandon the sectors of our country that have supported this country for so long. Rather, I am here to say we should do our part in helping them transition. This recommendation is a very good one in that regard, and it points us in the right direction.
    I thank the movers of this motion for allowing me to join this very important discussion today. The good news is that I do plan to stay here for the next 10 minutes to answer any questions my colleagues have.
    First, I just want to apologize to the member. I was just agreeing that I could understand why members in the House would think you were a spokesperson for the government. Second, I am waiting for my invitation to see the battery recycling organization, because those battery packs are complicated to work on, let alone recycle.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.

  (1230)  

     Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech. At the very end, I heard him acknowledge a province, and he did not name it, but it was pretty clear he was talking about Alberta. He thanked it for supporting the country for so long. I would like to make sure we do identify or be clear about which province the member was talking about.
    That was quite an acknowledgement from the member about an industry the Liberal government has attacked and vilified. From time to time, it has negatively characterized the entire province. The member acknowledged the extent to which it has been financially underwriting the public services the entire country relies on. I do thank him for that.
    Could the member comment on the amendment to the motion made today and the blue seal system that has been proposed by the opposition? Does he agree that we should move toward recognizing credentials? Will the member be supporting the amendment and getting this recommendation before the government?
    Mr. Speaker, if I left anything to wonder, a lot of what I was talking about was Alberta. I would not say it was about Alberta exclusively, but indeed Alberta and the fossil fuels sector have supported this country for a very long time. Although I am very much in favour of moving away from fossil fuels, I am not here to say I would turn my back on those who have helped this country for so long. Indeed, I agree with the recommendation that specifically talks about helping the transition so Alberta and those other affected regions can see new opportunities and benefit from those new opportunities.
    With respect to his question, I cannot support the amendment because the amendment says that we delete everything else beforehand, but do I support the idea of the blue seal program? It is a great program. I must admit I did not hear the entire amendment and do not have a copy of it, but if it is what I understand it to be, there are a lot of individuals with skills in this country who need to be accredited. We need people working in this country, and we need to do everything we can to ensure those who have the skills to the standards of Canada have the opportunities to participate in those workforces.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I sincerely congratulate the hon. parliamentary secretary on his speech. It was excellent from start to finish. It was profound, well thought out and backed up with facts. I thank him.
    It warms my heart to see that the committee report we adopted so collaboratively is being discussed today and to see that some proposals are being put forward. On the issue of the electrification of transportation in particular, we really collaborated across party lines. It warms my heart to see our efforts pay off in the House today.
    As an aside, we also made a number of suggestions for combatting tax evasion and tax avoidance, which we worked on together. The hon. Liberal member for Pontiac did an outstanding job on that.
    I have a question. Battery recycling is something the hon. parliamentary secretary talked about in his speech, and it really caught my attention. It is often pointed out that it takes a lot of resources to make batteries for electric cars. I would like my hon. colleague to elaborate on that.
    Is recycling economically viable? How feasible is it right now? Is the industry ready?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it certainly is economically viable. It is to the point where there is a company in my constituency called Li-Cycle that is building a new facility 10 times the size of its existing facility. It is clearly something that is economical, because this is going to be a booming industry.
    The reality, and this is what I was trying to say in my speech, is that, when we talk about fossil fuels to run vehicles, we are extracting fossil fuel from the ground and we are burning it. When we are done burning it, it is pollution in the air and that is the end of the story. We then extract more.
    With electric vehicles, we are seeing this new company. It is just at the beginning of the technology, and it is already able to recycle 97% of the battery. It is taking the battery, ripping it down to its core elements and then giving it to the battery manufacturing plants, which are building brand new batteries out of it. Although lithium needs to be mined originally, every time after, that same lithium can go on to serve many vehicles as the recycling process gives the opportunity and the ingredients to make new batteries.

  (1235)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for bringing up the condition of orphaned wells across the country, particularly in my home province of Alberta. It is no secret these orphaned wells, some of them dating back many decades, are a huge pollutant. Indigenous communities are the communities that are the most impacted by these sites. I grew up in an area in northeast Alberta just north of the Cold Lake oil sands, and this location has one of the largest numbers of abandoned and orphaned wells.
    It has been known by the government, ever since the first orphaned well happened, that these sites would need remediation. Why did the government not take action to ensure the companies put aside money to ensure these projects would actually be remediated in a proper way? Why did our environmental laws allow for these kinds of projects and not have the enforcement necessary to hold these companies accountable?
    I agree that today taxpayers are stuck, unfortunately, with the problem, which years of delay, mismanagement and ignoring the oil sector's misdealing have presented. Why not ensure the corporations, moving forward, are actually held to account to put the resources aside to clean them up themselves?
    Mr. Speaker, that is an absolutely excellent question, and I wish I knew the answer to it, but I do not.
    I was in municipal government before coming here, and the minute we built a brand new building, we had already started building a reserve fund to deal with the challenges the building would face years and decades down the road. If one goes into a municipality and wants to build a new building, they have to give the municipality a deposit on the site plan. If they do not deliver on the site plan, the municipality can come in and pay for it. Why on earth that was not set up for oil wells, I do not know. I can respect the fact that the times must have been different then. I do not know what the circumstances were like, but in hindsight, it was just not the right thing to do by all the previous governments that dealt with this.
    Mr. Speaker, I am glad my colleague, while speaking, brought up the issue of batteries and the importance of them for the electric vehicle industry. I think they are also a really important thing for energy storage, and they make renewable power generation, such as solar and wind, much more viable going forward. I should congratulate him on having adjacent to his riding one of the biggest battery plants coming, and Li-Cycle in his riding has started a processing facility recycling unit.
    I would like to ask him whether he agrees with me that the weakest link in the entire ecosystem of battery manufacturing is the mining of the critical minerals that are required for the manufacture of batteries. The federal government has entered into an agreement with various provinces, such as its agreement with Ontario. We tried to align the resources, timelines and regulatory process to fasten up the mining projects.
    Does the member agree with me that this is the weakest link and that we need a team Canada approach to make sure we get the real mining companies started in extracting and delivering the critical minerals required for the battery industry?
    Mr. Speaker, Li-Cycle is in my riding. However, the new plant that is opening is in a Conservative riding next door to me, so I think it is something that both Liberals and Conservatives should be celebrating.
    To his question, I would say that the weakest link is in the mining. He is absolutely right. We have all seen those videos on Facebook. We have all seen the reports on the conditions in which individuals are required to mine these products and minerals. We are rich in our resources, with respect to those. We have standards in this country that will ensure that it is not one of the weakest links, and I think there is a great opportunity there for Canada moving into the future.
    I certainly think we need to establish that as soon as possible. I think that our government is working on it, and the only other thing I would say is that, when we talk about these technologies, they are evolving very quickly, and there are new opportunities coming along. We are just in the earliest phases of this. As time goes on, it is really going to take off and we are going to see incredible progress.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. parliamentary secretary has opened up a personal reflection on his deep commitment to climate action. I saw that in his face when we debated here in the emergency debate in October 2018 when the IPCC said the future of humanity is at stake and that we have very little time. I put it to the hon. member that we are in no better position now than we were in October 2018 because we have not taken the immediate action required to ensure we have any hope of holding to 1.5°C or 2°C.
    As uncomfortable as it is, I would ask him to rethink the commitment to continuing to say the government is on the right track because the government continues to boost fossil fuel production, promote building the Trans Mountain pipeline and live in a world of cognitive dissonance. It believes it is doing the right thing while it keeps its foot on the accelerator to climate hell. I am sorry, but that is the reality.
    Mr. Speaker, I do remember that debate vividly. It was a very emotional and passionate debate on all sides of the House. I would do anything in my power to expedite this even faster. I realize the UN recently said we have to make significant changes by 2040, if I recall what was just released. Anything I can do, I am more than willing to work with my colleague on that and push our government, and any government for that matter, to work harder and faster on this.
    Mr. Speaker, any tax increase on Canadians during a cost of living crisis is just plain wrong. I have opposed the increase happening on April 1 to the carbon tax. I opposed the payroll tax increases that took effect earlier this year, and for years I have spoken against the automatic alcohol escalator. With the budget coming up next week, these are tax increases that were imposed on Canadians, and are going to be imposed on Canadians, unless the government decides to reverse its course. Those are key recommendations I would have as we debate the concurrence of the recommendations made to the government.
    Canadians cannot afford to pay higher prices with smaller paycheques. They cannot do it. That is the type of relief for Canadians that I am looking for in the budget. The automatic excise escalator on alcohol is an especially insidious tax. It is a tax that automatically takes effect, in this case next weekend, without a confidence vote in the chamber, without compelling government to come to the chamber to allow elected members to have their say on it. That is why last March, I tabled Bill C-266, an act to abolish the excise duty escalator on alcohol.
    Last night I had hoped to have an opportunity to get some remarks on the record about that, but there were some extraordinary events for those of us who were here. I will not get into what happened, but it resulted in my inability to get into that debate, so I want to add some remarks today as we debate the concurrence motion. That is a recommendation I would have hoped to see in this report, and it is what I would hope the government would do in its budget next week because the right thing to do is to repeal the escalator.
    I know what the Liberals are going to say. They are going to say that the excise escalator makes the excise tax just like other kinds of sales taxes that go up each year as prices rise. They will say that all kinds of things, including benefits paid to Canadians, are tied to inflation, so why not tie the excise tax on alcohol to inflation. They are going to say this increase is so small that nobody will even notice. They are going to say that.
    It is false when they claim that the tax increase is less than a penny on a can of beer because they are deliberately and purposely ignoring the effect the increase of the excise tax has on a chain of other taxes that are applied after. There are the provincial markups, there is the provincial excise tax, there are the sales taxes by both federal and provincial governments, fortunately not in Alberta, but everywhere else in Canada. Therefore, these taxes are taxes on taxes and there is markup on that tax, so it is more than what they have falsely claimed to be less than a penny per can of beer.
    I meant to say at the outset that I will be splitting my time with the member for Kelowna—Lake Country. I look forward to her remarks. She is from a region that produces wine and the escalator is dear to her as well.
    A couple of weeks ago I was in my own neighbourhood and dropped in to Al's Pizza. I think most members in this chamber would probably recognize a place like Al's Pizza. It is a good solid family restaurant that serves the neighbourhood. He has been in business for 35 years, and everybody knows Al's Pizza in the neighbourhood. It is good pizza. It makes a great carbonara. He is a good guy.
     I asked him if his customers could afford higher prices. He said absolutely not. He knows that his customers are strapped. His customers are feeling the bite of inflation. His customers are feeling the bite of the carbon tax. Their paycheques have shrunk with payroll tax increases. They cannot afford to the pay higher prices he has to pass on when his costs go up. He is aware that he cannot pass on higher prices. He is a small business person, so he cannot afford to just absorb a new tax.

  (1245)  

    However, it is not just Al, who is one restaurateur I happened to speak with. Restaurants Canada has also made this clear to Parliament when it testified before the finance committee. These people are in a competitive tight-margin business. It is a high-cost, low-margin business that cannot afford additional prices. They cannot afford to just absorb this new tax.
    There are questions parliamentarians should be asking, and should have been asking before they voted last night on the opposition motion. If my bill, Bill C-266, should come to this Parliament, they need to ask themselves whether Canadians can afford higher prices. Well, we know they cannot. The cost of housing has doubled, interest rates are through the roof and the costs of transportation and groceries have gone up under the government as a result of the government's disastrous policies of running irresponsible deficits before COVID and running irresponsible deficits after COVID. A consistent policy of fiscal mismanagement has fuelled inflation. Therefore, no, consumers cannot afford to pay higher taxes.
    Can the industry afford higher taxes? No, it cannot. With labour shortages, the high cost of energy imposed by the carbon tax, ever-increasing business taxes at municipal levels and the high cost of commercial rent, there is no room for a tax like the increase on alcohol. It cannot be absorbed.
    The question that should then be asked is this: Can industry support this? What about the manufacturers? Well, the manufacturers cannot afford anything else either. The excise escalator makes Canadian products non-competitive with other producers, so no, our world-renowned vintners, world-renowned wineries and world-renowned breweries and distillers cannot absorb it.
    We cannot let this country become a place where a simple pleasure like enjoying a bottle of wine with a loved one becomes an unaffordable luxury beyond the means of working people. We cannot let this country become a place where enjoying a beer with colleagues after work on a Friday becomes a luxury that people cannot afford. It cannot become a place where a family celebration cannot include a toast because nobody can afford any kind of libation. This cannot be a country where the hard-working men and women at Canada's wineries, distilleries and breweries are thrown out of work and rendered unemployed as businesses collapse because of an inability to compete in world markets.
    It also cannot become a country where governments no longer have to face a confidence motion in the House and go to electors when they want to increase a tax to fund their spending. This is a basic principle of Parliament going back to the time of King John. When the king or his government, in this case the Prime Minister and his cabinet, wanted to spend more money and tax people, the principle was that they put it to a vote in Parliament and not put tax increases on autopilot. That is why I tabled Bill C-266.
    I encourage all members to support the repeal of the automatic excise escalator. It is good policy. It is good for consumers, it is good for workers and it is good for the principles of parliamentary government.

  (1250)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am a little curious. The member opposite spoke about the importance of making life more affordable for Canadians, yet he voted against child care, which has been proven to make life more affordable for Canadians. The Conservatives voted against every single measure that has come forward to make life more affordable.
    The member also spoke about the importance of dealing with the excise tax. We all want to make life more affordable for Canadians, but he mentioned that even though it would be approximately 0.7¢ more on a can or bottle of beer, there are other compounding factors. Can he tell us the precise impact there would be on a bottle or can of beer?
    Mr. Speaker, it is different in every province. It is fairly complicated. I am not going to give him the run through, because I do not have time. I will merely say that it is quite astonishing that the government's main defence of the automatic excise escalator tax is that it is only raising taxes a bit; it is not raising them that much. Why should people complain? The Liberals are only raising taxes every year on people amidst an affordability crisis.
    No tax increase is acceptable at this time. They should reduce that tax, at least back to the level in 2017, before they brought in an automatic escalator. Since then, nobody has voted for the annual increase.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke about alcohol taxes. Last year, the Bloc Québécois fought for an excise tax exemption for cider and mead. This exemption should also apply to alcoholic beverages made from berries and to acerum, which is made from maple syrup.
    Does my colleague agree that craft liquors are very different from mass-produced commercial liquors and should be exempt from excise duty, just like cider and mead?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I have not given significant thought to the products the member mentioned and the taxes placed on them. My first reaction and instinct is to agree. I do not support additional taxes. Taxes are high in this country, and our taxes on alcohol are among the highest in the world.
    The most expensive ingredient in beer, wine or spirits in Canada is taxes. It is more than half of the cost of many products. In fact, Spirits Canada says that for some spirits, up to 80% of the cost at the retail level is tax.
    I thank the member for bringing that segment of the market into this debate. My first instinct is to agree with him.
    Mr. Speaker, we often talk about the support needed for families. My colleagues and I believe in supporting a robust social safety net to make sure families have what they need, including dental care. Our teeth are part of our bodies, and if we want to support good health, we also need to support holistic health, which includes our teeth.
    I wonder if the member shares my opinion that we need to put in place a national dental care strategy so that all individuals who live in Canada can access proper dental care.

  (1255)  

    Mr. Speaker, I agree that dental care is very important for families, and I understand the costs and concerns around access to dental care. However, I am also concerned that the government's approach to just about everything it has done is to harm our ability to have a robust economy that can afford the sustainable programs Canadians rely on.
    I have concerns about cost and about how any type of system would work, and I have no confidence in the government to deliver one. I encourage members of the NDP, including the member for Winnipeg Centre, to demand a bit more accountability regarding the failures of the government on any of a host of issues, perhaps including dental care.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise to speak on behalf of the residents of Kelowna—Lake Country.
    Today, we are discussing the finance committee's pre-budget consultation report. I want to start off by saying right out of the gate, and I have talked about this many times in the House, that we as Conservatives oppose all tax increases at this time. That includes the excise tax increase, the payroll tax increase and the carbon tax increase, the last of which increases the price of everything that is shipped across the country.
    To set the stage, inflation is at a 40-year high and we know that food inflation is higher. When inflation was around 6%, food inflation was over 11%, almost double.
    I did a survey in my community. I send out surveys that go to every residence, and it is amazing how many thousands of people mail them back. It is such great information for me. It is such a great way for me to gain feedback from the community, in addition to all the other types of outreach I do. I would say that over 70% of the people who filled out that survey said their food costs were up 20% to 30%, and food prices can be higher regionally across the country. When food inflation is this high, it definitely makes it very hard for everyone to pay their bills, in particular people who are on fixed incomes, like seniors. It has been reported that 1.5 million people went to a food bank in just one month.
    Before I came here to debate this motion today, I had the honour of sitting for a while on the finance committee, where a chief economist from a bank said that he expects insolvencies to increase. The CIBC has said that one in five mortgages it has in its portfolio is in a position where the borrower's monthly payment is not high enough to cover even the interest portion of the loan. People are struggling, and now is not the time to increase any taxes.
    What I would like to talk about for most of my time today is the excise tax increase. To go back a bit regarding this tax increase, in 2017, the Liberals put in place an escalator tax on the alcohol excise tax. “Escalator” is just a fancy bureaucratic word for automatic, so it is an automatic tax increase that does not go into budgets and is not debated every year. At the time, Conservatives, industries and stakeholders asked the government not to do it. They were very concerned that it might trigger trade challenges. In fact, it did with Australia. During that time, Australia said that it was unfair, and over the course of a few years, an agreement was made with Australia and was announced on the Canadian side.
    I should mention that previously, some wineries with domestically grown grapes that were made into wine were exempt from paying the excise tax. This was done many years ago to build up and assist this value-added industry and agriculture. The agreement made was that these wineries, and we later learned cideries as well, had to start paying this excise tax. That was the agreement the Canadian government announced. However, back in Australia, they were announcing they won the trade challenge, so it was interesting how the communications came out. What has happened with that? The Canadian government has had to come up with different formulas to fix that situation with domestic wineries.
    In addition to that, the excise tax is increasing every year, and it is tied to the CPI, which means it is tied to inflation. Therefore, when inflation is higher, this tax increase is higher, which then perpetuates inflation even more. As of April 1, there will be the highest tax increase ever, at 6.3%, and because inflation has been high this year, we are already tracking to have a high tax increase as we go into next year.

  (1300)  

     Just dealing with this year, this is really going to affect the producers. It is not only the manufacturers, which could be the wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries, but this tax increase then trickles down to the retailers who will be selling these products. It trickles down to the restaurant owners, who are still having a really tough time coming out of the pandemic, and, of course, ultimately to consumers.
    For disclosure, I worked for 27 years in the British Columbia beer and wine industry, so I worked on all sides of the industry. I remember at different times, when, for example, the provincial government was changing some of its formulas around taxation, so winery or brewery operators would have to make a very difficult decision on how long they would absorb that increase.
     To really simplify things, as an example, people's wine might be on the shelf at $19.99 a bottle. Now they have to make the choice. Do they put it up to $20.19? It is such an odd number. Therefore, they make the decision to keep it at that price for a while and then realize they cannot and they have to eventually pass this on. They will make a decision. They will take the hit for a while, but ultimately it has to be passed on. Those are the tough decisions that business owners, especially small business owners, make every day.
    In Kelowna—Lake Country, there are 27 wineries, 21 breweries, and eight cideries and distilleries combined. These are farm-to-glass industries. These are value-added industries. All of these will be affected. This is just another cost that will be added on, which does not have to be because there is no benefit to those organizations. It is strictly a tax, and we should not be increasing any taxes at this time.
    We know that small businesses represent most of the businesses in Canada. They represent most of the businesses in my community.
     As I was talking about the trickle-down effects of this, Restaurants Canada shows that more than 50% of the licensed restaurants in Canada are losing money or barely breaking even. Again, as these cost increases are being passed on, it will affect them.
     The CFIB reported that the average small business owner took on $150,000 in new debt. Most business owners have not paid off this debt. Of course, with rising interest rates, their debt is costing more. Therefore, for any of them who work in this industry, this will just be affecting them even more.
    Beer Canada wrote on behalf of eight brewery worker unions. I will read a quote from it. It states, “Canada is experiencing the highest cost of living increases in a generation. This is squeezing family budgets and making workers in the brewing sector nervous about their jobs.”
    Wine Growers Canada wrote to the Minister of Finance and said that with the addition of federal/provincial ad valorem taxes in the pricing chain, the next rise in excise duty would increase wine prices by at least 10¢ per litre, with long-term impacts on restaurants, hotels, bars, retailers, farmers and wine growers.
    Members can see that this is going to dramatically affect a lot of these industries.
    I wrote to the finance minister recently. I will just quote part of what I wrote to her. I said, “Producers will be left with the choice of absorbing this cost increase and adding it to their debt loads or passing on this cost to both consumers and our restaurant and hospitality businesses, fuelling inflation more.” I have not heard back from her.
    I will also say that when I was first elected back in 2019, this was one of the first topics that I started advocating on, because I had so many small business owners in my riding coming to me, saying that this affected them every year, That was before we had this record high inflation.
     With that, I am standing with small business owners in my riding and across Canada, and we need to stop all tax increases.

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is certainly a popular discussion right now around the alcohol escalator tax. We are receiving a lot of feedback from constituents as well. I continue to bring them forward to the government.
    I am wondering what would be the most important thing that the member is looking for in the budget ahead. Certainly we are facing many issues. We are looking for environmental leadership. We are looking for reconciliation in health care. What would be the biggest thing the member would be looking for next week?
    Mr. Speaker, I spoke to this in my speech. We need to cut taxes. We need to have no tax increases and we also need to look at ways that we can cut taxes for small businesses, for families. That has to be a priority. We should not be increasing any taxes at this time. That should not be in the budget.
    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.
    The question is on the amendment. If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the amendment be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.
    Mr. Speaker, we would like a recorded vote.
    Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the division stands deferred until later this day, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Petitions

Medical Assistance in Dying  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today and present a petition from hundreds of Canadians who have expressed their concerns with the comments from Louis Roy of the Quebec College of Physicians, who has suggested that babies from birth to the age of one year old could be euthanized if they display severe deformity or syndromes.
    This proposal for legalizing the killing of infants is deeply disturbing, not only to these petitioners but to the majority of Canadians. We have to, as the House, recognize that infanticide is always wrong.
     Their encouragement to the House of Commons is to reject any notion to that extent.

Taxation  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and table a petition signed by a number of Canadians who are concerned and agree with me on the need to repeal the automatic excise escalator on alcohol. They are concerned, as I am, that this tax is an automatic tax that impedes our industry from competing in world markets and that it is the wrong approach to excise.
    The timing is particularly bad with the record tax increase that is scheduled to take effect next weekend. They are concerned that we are going to render some fairly basic pleasures unaffordable by working Canadians.

  (1310)  

Climate Change  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a huge honour to table a petition today that has been gathered by youth in my riding in the town of Qualicum Beach, climate activists who cite that children born in 2020 will face on average two to seven times more extreme weather events than their grandparents.
     In a 2021 report in the Lancet, 83% of children worldwide reported that they thought people had failed to take care of the planet. They note that those most affected by climate change are the youngest generation as they will live to see the worst effects of this crisis; that youth discussion has proven critical to successful climate action and policy creation, however, dozens of climate-related decisions are made without input from youth.
     The petitioners call on the Government of Canada to require all members of Parliament, regardless of party lines, to consult with a secondary or elementary school leadership, student council or environmental youth group of their riding, such as under-18 youth representatives, before Parliament holds second reading of any bill that directly affects Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions; and that the purpose of the consultation will be to listen to the viewpoints of those directly affected by the specified bill, but who do not already have representation in Parliament.
    I thank those youth for this very important petition.

Genetically Modified Foods  

    Mr. Speaker, constituents in my riding have submitted this petition on an extremely important issue relating to genetically modified organisms and genetically modified foods.
    The petitioners point out that these food products are not labelled as genetically modified. Consumers do want to know. Over 80% of Canadians have said that they would like mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods so they know what they are buying.
    There is concern, as the World Health Organizations's International Agency for Research on Cancer has pointed out the herbicide more commonly used because of genetically modified so-called “roundup ready” products, that glyphosate, a probable human carcinogen, is not labelled.
    The petitioners ask the Government of Canada establish mandatory labelling on all genetically modified foods.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by a number of Canadians who are deeply concerned the Government of Pakistan has failed, and continues to fail, to afford protection and legitimate rights to persecuted Christians. A good number of those persecuted Christians have found refuge in Canada, having escaped persecution in Pakistan via Thailand, from where they are able to apply for refugee status. Of course, we welcome them into Canada.
    The petitioners call on the government to create a special status for Pakistani asylum seekers, who continue to suffer mistreatment in Thailand, in order to streamline and quicken the process for claiming refugee status through the IRCC.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Telecommunications Act

    The House resumed from March 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act respecting cyber security, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-26, an act about cybersecurity. In the 21st century, cybersecurity is national security, and it is our responsibility to protect Canadians from growing cyber-threats. We have to take the necessary steps to protect Canadians and our telecommunications infrastructure. Canadians must have confidence in the integrity, authenticity and security of the products and services they use every day.
    This bill reflects the values of Canadians and is in line with our closest allies, including our Five Eyes partners. That is why we are investing in cybersecurity, ensuring respect for the privacy of Canadians and supporting responsible innovation. We will continue to protect Canadians from cyber-threats in an increasingly digital world. As said in our international cybersecurity overview, a free, open and secure cyberspace is critical to Canada’s economy, social activity, democracy and national security.
    Canada faces cybersecurity risks from both state and non-state actors. Protecting Canada’s and Canadians’ cyber-infrastructure from malicious actors is a serious challenge and a never-ending task. Canada works with allies and partners to improve cybersecurity at home and to counter threats from abroad. This includes identifying cyber-threats or vulnerabilities and developing capabilities to respond to a range of cyber-incidents.
    A few years back, we put forward the national cybersecurity strategy, a vision for security and prosperity in the digital age. As mentioned there, virtually everything Canadians do is touched by technology in some way. We are heavily interconnected and networked, a fact that not only enhances our quality of life but also creates vulnerabilities. From commercial supply chains to the critical infrastructure that underpins our economy and our society, the risks in the cyberworld have multiplied, accelerated and grown increasingly malicious.
    Major corporations, industries and our international allies and partners are engaged in the global cyber-challenge, but many others are not and that represents a significant risk. The strategy's core goals were reflected in budget 2018, where $500 million was invested in cybersecurity. Part of the funding was for the new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, which is Canada’s technical authority on cybersecurity. It is part of the Communications Security Establishment, and it is the single, unified source of expert advice, guidance, services and support on cybersecurity for Canadians and Canadian organizations.
    It regularly publishes the “National Cyber Threat Assessment”, and I would like to quote from their latest one for 2023-24. It states:
    Canadians use the Internet for financial transactions, to connect with friends and family, attend medical appointments and work. As Canadians spend more time and do more on the Internet, the opportunities grow for cyber threat activity to impact their daily lives. There’s been a rise in the amount of personal, business and financial data available online, making it a target for cyber threat actors. This trend towards connecting important systems to the Internet increases the threat of service disruption from cyber threat activity. Meanwhile, nation states and cybercriminals are continuing to develop their cyber capabilities. State-sponsored and financially motivated cyber threat activity is increasingly likely to affect Canadians.

  (1315)  

    In the latest assessment, they chose to focus on five cyber-threat narratives that they judge are the most dynamic and impactful.
    First, ransomware is a persistent threat to Canadian organizations. Cybercrime continues to be the cyber-threat activity most likely to affect Canadians and Canadian organizations. Due to its impact on an organization’s ability to function, ransomware is almost certainly the most disruptive form of cybercrime facing Canadians. Cybercriminals deploying ransomware have evolved in a growing and sophisticated cybercrime ecosystem and will continue to adapt to maximize profits.
    Second, critical infrastructure is increasingly at risk from cyber-threat activity. Cybercriminals exploit critical infrastructure because downtime can be harmful to industrial processes and the customers they serve. State-sponsored actors target critical infrastructure to collect information through espionage, to pre-position themselves in case of future hostilities and as a form of power projection and intimidation.
    Third, state-sponsored cyber-threat activity is impacting Canadians. State-sponsored cyber-threat activity against Canada is a constant, ongoing threat that is often a subset of larger, global campaigns undertaken by these states. State actors can target diaspora populations and activists in Canada, Canadian organizations and their intellectual property for espionage, and even Canadian individuals and organizations for financial gain.
    Fourth, cyber-threat actors are attempting to influence Canadians, degrading trust in online spaces. Cyber-threat actors' use of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation, collectively referred to as MDM, has evolved over the past two years. Machine learning-enabled technologies are making fake content easier to manufacture and harder to detect. Further, nation-states are increasingly willing and able to use MDM to advance their geopolitical interests.
    Fifth, disruptive technologies bring new opportunities and new threats. Digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance, are both targets and tools for cyber-threat actors to enable malicious cyber-threat activity. Machine learning has become commonplace in consumer services and data analysis, but cyber-threat actors can deceive and exploit this technology. Quantum computing has the potential to threaten our current systems of maintaining trust and confidentiality online. Encrypted information stolen by threat actors today can be held and decrypted when quantum computers become available.
    Simply put, cyber-threats pose a growing risk to all Canadians and institutions. We are confronting this threat head-on. Our government regularly engages with domestic and international cybersecurity partners to protect Canada’s critical infrastructure and the systems that underpin essential services. We are working closely with critical infrastructure stakeholders and partners to ensure that they are better prepared to face cyber-based threats.
    Our cybersecurity framework continues to detect, deter and disrupt state and non-state actors attempting to take advantage of the Canadian cyber-landscape. Our government is, and will always be, ready to respond to any malicious cyber-acts that threaten Canadian interests.
     To conclude, the purpose of this act is to help protect critical cyber systems in order to support the continuity and security of vital services and vital systems by ensuring that, first, any cybersecurity risks with respect to critical cyber systems are identified and managed; second, critical cyber systems are protected from being compromised; third, any cybersecurity incidents affecting, or having the potential to affect, critical cyber systems are detected; and finally, the impacts of cybersecurity incidents affecting critical cyber systems are minimized.

  (1320)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, speaking of cybersecurity, I would like to hear what my colleague thinks of the allegations made in the Journal de Montréal two or three weeks ago about a woman of Chinese descent who was elected as a Brossard city councillor. We know that she was the director of two Chinese community centres, one in Montreal and one in Brossard, that are suspected of having become Chinese police stations.
    It is suspected that this woman got elected to Brossard's city council because people from the Chinese government sent WeChat messages to members of Brossard's Chinese community, telling them to vote for her. This woman is believed to be a Chinese operative. There is a link to the Chinese government, which is using digital platforms to influence our municipal and even provincial and federal elections.
    I would like to know what my colleague thinks about that. Does this not prove that it is more urgent than ever to launch an independent public inquiry into Chinese interference in this country?

  (1325)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. colleague mentioned the growing importance of protecting Canadians and Canada from state-sponsored activities with respect to cybersecurity. State actors are very active in exploiting advanced technologies to create disruption and to erode trust in our systems and institutions, so that is one of the major objectives of our government in proposing this bill.
    Mr. Speaker, the government seems to be granting itself some pretty broad powers in the bill, especially to the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Industry. Maybe my colleague can explain, and assure Canadians, how these powers would not be unjustly applied to ordinary Canadians who have done absolutely nothing wrong.
    Mr. Speaker, with our system of checks and balances, like here in the House, the government is held to account by the opposition benches, which is one of the ways the government's powers and the ministers' powers are monitored and controlled.
    There is a broader aspect to this. This legislation deals with evolving technologies, which are very difficult to even define in the legislation. The legislation cannot be changed or amended frequently, which is why the legislation provides more opportunities for the government or the ministers of the day to pass on regulations so that they can immediately identify those and take remedial measures.
    Mr. Speaker, it has been reported that small and medium-sized businesses could face immense financial pressure from increased red tape and reporting measures. The Business Council of Canada, in an open letter, indicated that businesses were concerned with the added red tape and the impact it would have on small and medium-sized businesses.
    We realize, at least on this side of the House, that small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the economy. Is this the time to be adding more financial pressures to these businesses? Can the member think of alternative ways of being able to satisfy that?
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member that small businesses are the backbone of Canada and the Canadian economy, with the majority of Canadians working in small and medium-sized businesses.
    Related to this bill is the fact that this issue affects small-sized businesses disproportionately more, because they do not have enough resources to protect themselves from cyber-threats. In fact, as I mentioned in my speech, the new Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, which is part of the Communications Security Establishment, is there to provide expert advice, guidance, and service and support on cyber-threats and cybersecurity to Canadian organizations.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and join the debate this morning in the House of Commons. I will be sharing my time with the member for Fort McMurray—Cold Lake.
    Bill C-26 is a bill that addresses an important and growing topic. Cybersecurity is very important, very timely. I am glad that, in calling this bill today, the government sees this as a priority. I struggle with trying to figure out the priorities of the government from time to time. There were other bills it had declared as absolute must-pass bills before Christmas that it is not calling. However, it is good to be talking about this instead of Bill C-21, Bill C-11 or some of the other bills that the Liberals have lots of problems with on their own benches.
    Cybersecurity is something that affects all Canadians. It is, no doubt, an exceptionally important issue that the government needs to address. Cybersecurity, as the previous speaker said, is national security. It is critical to the safety and security of all of our infrastructure. It underpins every aspect of our lives. We have seen how infrastructure can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Throughout the world, we have seen how energy infrastructure is vulnerable, like cyber-attacks that affect the ability to operate pipelines. We have seen how cyber-attacks can jeopardize the functioning of an electrical grid.
    At the local level, we have experienced how weather events that bring down power infrastructure can devastate a community and can actually endanger people's health and safety. One can only imagine what a nationwide or pervasive cyber-attack that managed to cripple a national electrical grid would do to people's ability to live their lives in safety and comfort.
    Cyberwarfare is emerging as a critical component of every country's national defence system, both offensively and defensively. The battlefield success of any military force has always depended on communication. We know now just how dependent military forces are on the security of their cyber-communication. We see this unfolding in Ukraine, resulting from the horrific, criminal invasion of that country by Putin. We see the vital role that communication plays with respect to the ability of a country to defend itself from a foreign adversary, in terms of cybersecurity.
    I might point out that there is a study on this going on at the national defence committee. We have heard expert testimony about how important cybersecurity is to the Canadian Armed Forces. We look forward to getting that report eventually put together and tabled, with recommendations to the government here in the House of Commons in Canada.
    We know that critical sectors of the Canadian economy and our public services are highly vulnerable to cyber-attack. Organized crime and foreign governments do target information contained within health care systems and within our financial system. The potential for a ransom attack, large and small, is a threat to Canadians. Imagine a hostile regime or a criminal enterprise hacking a public health care system and holding an entire province or an entire country hostage with the threat to destroy or leak or hopelessly corrupt the health data of millions of citizens. Sadly, criminal organizations and hostile governments seek to do this and are busy creating the technology to enable them to do exactly this.

  (1330)  

    The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics conducted three different studies while I was chair of that committee that were tied to cybersecurity in various ways. We talked about and learned about the important ways in which cybersecurity and privacy protection intersect and sometimes conflict. We saw how this government contracted with the company Clearview AI, a company whose business is to scrape billions of images from the Internet, identify these images and sell the identified images back to governments and, in the case of Canada, to the RCMP.
    We heard chilling testimony at that committee about the capabilities of sophisticated investigative tools, spyware, used by hostile regimes and by organized crime but also by our own government, which used sophisticated investigative tools to access Canadians' cellphones without their knowledge or consent. In Canada, this was limited. It was surprising to learn that this happened, but it happened under judicial warrant and in limited situations by the RCMP. However, the RCMP did not notify or consult the Privacy Commissioner, which is required under Treasury Board rules. This conflict between protecting Canadians by enforcing our laws and protecting Canadians' privacy is difficult for governments, and when government institutions like the RCMP disregard Treasury Board edicts or ignore the Privacy Commissioner or the Privacy Act, especially when they set aside or ignore a ruling from the Privacy Commissioner, it is quite concerning.
     This bill is important. It is worthy of support, unlike the government's somewhat related bill, Bill C-27, the so-called digital charter. However, this bill, make no mistake, has significant new powers for the government. It amends the Telecommunications Act to give extraordinary powers to the minister over industry. It is part of a pattern we are seeing with this government, where it introduces bills that grant significant powers to the minister and to the bureaucrats who will ultimately create regulations.
    Parliament is really not going to see this fleshed out unless there is significant work done at committee to improve transparency around this bill and to add more clarity around what this bill would actually do and how these powers will be granted. There have been many concerns raised in the business community about how this bill may chase investment, jobs and capital from Canada. The prospect of extraordinary fines, without this bill being fleshed out very well, creates enormous liability for companies, which may choose not to invest in Canada, not fully understanding the ramifications of this bill.
    There is always the capture. We have seen this time and time again with the government. It seems to write up a bill for maybe three or four big companies or industries, only a small number of players in Canada, and yet the bill will capture other enterprises, small businesses that do not have armies of lobbyists to engage the government and get regulations that will give them loopholes, or lawyers to litigate a conflict that may arise as a result of it. I am always concerned about the small businesses and the way they may be captured, either deliberately or not, by a bill like this.
    I will conclude by saying that I support the objective. I agree with the concern that the bill tries to address. I am very concerned about a number of areas that are ambiguous within the bill. I hope that it is studied vigorously at committee and that strong recommendations are brought back from committee and incorporated into whatever the bill might finally look like when it comes back for third reading.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite my hon. colleague to take a higher-level view of an important issue because we are dealing here with cybersecurity and the need for protections, but we are also looking at a realm of artificial intelligence and things like that. These are things that can happen. People can 3D-print a gun that cannot be picked up by airport security. There is a lot of technology out there that could be purposefully harmful to individuals or to our whole society. In that regard, given some of the other conversations we have had about gatekeepers, would the member care to put a frame around the kind of gatekeeping that he and his party see as essential and necessary for the purpose of protecting Canadians?

  (1340)  

    Mr. Speaker, the primary function of government is to protect its citizens from external harm and to ensure that Canadians are able to live freely and safely in their communities.
    I do have concerns about the gatekeeping aspect of this bill. I am concerned that if this bill does not get the balance of the regulation and the ability of commerce to continue, we will lose businesses and we will lose services and access to economic activity within Canada if we chase investment out through poorly thought-out regulations.
    Yes, there is of course a delicate balance to be had. If we come down too hard on the side of regulation and gatekeeping, it will result in job loss and lack of investment, and the absence of investment would then compound businesses' abilities to actually deliver on cybersecurity.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, over the past few years, businesses and even political parties have been gathering data, whether through quizzes or games, not only on the person playing the game but also on all the contacts that person has on their phone.
    I would like to know if my colleague finds this tactic to be ethical, given that these people were receiving unsolicited advertising. Does my colleague think the bill will put an end to this practice?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that may be a better question for the government to answer, but I do not believe this is the intent of this bill. This bill is about cybersecurity. The government has another bill before the House, Bill C-27, which is a bit closer to privacy changes. The government has not proposed changes to the Privacy Act or the Elections Act, so I do not think this bill is relevant to the question that the member raised. The member is getting away from cybersecurity and into the much broader rubric of the privacy of Canadians. She raises some points, but I do not actually connect them to this bill.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask some questions of the hon. member that are more related. I know it is a bit away from this bill, but he mentioned in his speech the work we are doing in our defence committee on cyber-defence and cybersecurity. I have two questions.
    There have been calls for the International Criminal Court to declare cyberwarfare an actual war crime. What does the member think about that?
    There is also the fact that we heard that Canada and its security institutions actually overclassify information by about 90%, and that if we could declassify a lot of that information, this would significantly help those security organizations deal with the specific threats we are seeing. I want to hear the member's opinion on that.
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the first question, I will set it aside and await more testimony and discussion at the defence committee about that.
    With respect to the second point, about the overclassification of information, that is a good one and I am glad the member raised it. It actually speaks to the overall culture of secrecy that exists in the Government of Canada. This is a real problem that has been ongoing for years. The current government ran on a platform in 2015 to let the sunshine in and we have absolutely unprecedented secrecy within the government. The member raises a good point around the overclassification of documents.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-26, an act respecting cybersecurity, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other acts.
    I think this is such an important topic, and it is something we need to be very aware of, especially in this increasingly digital era. We are seeing more and more attacks on cybersecurity happening here in Canada and around the world. I support the overall concept of the bill, and I want to see it go to committee so that we can have further study, as well as some amendments to alleviate some of the concerns that I, some of my colleagues and different stakeholders have brought forward. However, I have some questions I want to pose and put forward in the hope that the minister will have a plan to address some of them.
    One big question I have is that the bill is pretty vague when it comes to the definition of “critical infrastructure”. Coming from northern Alberta, critical infrastructure can look very different from what it would look like in a larger centre in an area further south. One of the things I immediately thought of was whether a pipeline would count as critical infrastructure. Frankly, in northern Alberta, at the very minimum, pipelines not only export our oil but also bring up gasoline and natural gas, which are the ways we heat our homes. Most homes, at least in the Fort McMurray area, are heated with natural gas. In the wintertime, specifically and especially, if somehow a natural gas pipeline were to be the target of a cybersecurity threat, that could actually have devastating consequences and cause thousands of people to freeze.
    I think this is the kind of question we have as to what exactly critical infrastructure is.
    One of the other big pieces is that critical infrastructure seems to be defined in terms of what small and medium-sized businesses and not necessarily different government actors have. Different layers of government have different pieces of infrastructure that could also be attacked by cybersecurity threats. I think of provincial governments. Some of the big pieces for cybersecurity threats would probably be in hospitals, but it could go far beyond just a hospital, depending on the community. In the case of a specific emergency, like a fire, flood or some other natural disaster, the definition of critical infrastructure might be very different.
    While I understand the idea of keeping it broad, a hacker or bad actor could specifically target an area in the case of an emergency or natural disaster because they know we are already in a weaker state. I think it is important to have some pieces in place so there can actually be plans to ensure that is not going to happen. That is something the legislation needs to define, and I would urge us to define it and specifically include pipelines as part of critical infrastructure. This is especially the case because we have gone into this space where so much is digitized.
    There is digitization in just about every aspect of our world, so it becomes a question of actually having to define some of these pieces. We cannot just leave this all up to regulation. I think some baselines need to be set out in this piece of legislation in order to make sure we are actually talking about the same things. In this way, we can plan for future pieces of infrastructure we do not currently know are important and part of this plan.
    While the legislation would give absolutely broad and sweeping powers to government, it does not seem to have any safeguards in place. I think the lack of safeguards is very concerning. I think back to the floods that were experienced in southern Alberta in 2012. Through the process of those floods, for a number of reasons that were not necessarily well defined, the RCMP decided to go into High River and seize guns. The RCMP made a decision not to seize guns in Calgary or other communities, but in High River, it decided to go in and seize guns.

  (1350)  

    This is a piece where we need to be very careful and make sure we have some safeguards in place. Then, in the case where there is government overreach in trying to prevent a security threat, there is recourse available that is defined in the legislation. It should not be left to regulation, where it could be changed at the whim of a minister. This is so important.
    Another big, important piece that is scary to me is the fact that the government has all this work in place to make sure that small and medium-sized businesses, and other businesses, have security plans, which they must send to the government. However, what work is the government doing specifically to ensure that it is prevented from being part of a security threat? How many times has the federal government been hacked? In recent memory, it has been hacked a number of different times in different ways. This may be our email system or the House of Commons intranet. Some of these pieces are very much at risk. Is it a smart idea, from a security standpoint, to have everything housed in one place? What kinds of safeguards would we have such that information is not accessible should that aspect of the government be hacked? In turn, we want to make sure hackers do not find out all of our security plans so they can get around them or mess with things they identify as unprotected. That is one of the interesting pieces.
    The bill also stipulates that businesses are to share with government but not that the government has to share with businesses. While I understand part of why the government would do that, I think having a two-way dialogue when it comes to this information is going to be important. We should be trying to work towards best practices whenever possible. An organization in one part of the country might be doing something that is innovative and substantially safer for all Canadians that prevents security threats compared with another part. Such information should be shared, not just held by government, so we can build on best practices in case there is an emergency at some point.
    The other big question I have with respect to this bill is: What has the government done to work with municipalities, provinces and first nations governments to ensure that this is going to respond to their cybersecurity threats and cybersecurity needs? This is a piece where I do not want to let perfect be the enemy of good. Quite frankly, we are not going to know what the next big threat is; however, we need to make sure we are protected and must try to apply as many best practices as possible so that we do not open ourselves up to unintended risks.
    This is about making sure we are taking care of all the little links in the chain. We can have a very robust system and an amazing plan in place, but if we have one weak link, it counts for nothing. That is why we need to send the bill to committee now. We need to have some very robust conversations with security experts from around this country and the world to make sure we do not have any weak links in the chain. All it will take is one weak link for this entire pyramid to collapse. It will crumble apart. This is something that, as Canadians, we all need to be prepared for and ready to address, as well as having meaningful and robust conversations around it.
    With that, I am thankful for this opportunity.
    Mr. Speaker, I am reading from the summary of Bill C-26, which would amend the Telecommunications Act to “authorize the Governor in Council and the Minister of Industry to direct telecommunications service providers to do anything, or refrain from doing anything, that is necessary to secure” our telecommunications security.
     Although it is a laudable goal, those are very broad powers to give to a minister. Does my colleague feel it is necessary to give such broad and unfettered authority to one person?

  (1355)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague actually brings up another big point that I did not get to in my speech. The amount of control that it provides to a few people is very concerning.
    Some serious conversations are needed about what we are doing to ensure that it is not just one or two people making these decisions, especially as we explore whether we really want the government to be the sole keeper of all this information and give it that broad power. It could actually open us up to specific risks if a threat agent knows that the best way of going after us is to go after that one particular minister. That could create more of a risk, not less.
    That is something we should explore and look at amending, not so we are removing that power, but so we are expanding or changing it to create those safeguards. This would make it very clear that a bad actor cannot just go after one minister or ministry and shut down an entire system.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as we know, technology is evolving at a frightening and unpredictable pace. It is exponential, according to all the experts.
    I wonder if my colleague could comment on quantum computing, which is an extremely impressive technology that is evolving at an unbelievable pace.
    I am wondering whether the contents of Bill C‑26 and the agility we write into legislation are sufficient to respond to any concerns we may have about evolving technologies, which often mean that governments become outdated.
    I would like my colleague to comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague has pinpointed some very serious problems. The reality is that technology progresses at such a rapid pace that it is really difficult to have legislation in place to address the next steps.
    It is crucial to have the best experts analyzing the flexibility of our legislation to ensure the protection and security of future technologies that will be implemented. This means not just for now, but for the future as well.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know that threats to cybersecurity are increasing and are very concerning. We are far behind other countries in our capacity to respond to them. We have heard from civil liberty groups that the surveillance provisions in this bill could be quite problematic.
    Bearing in mind that we need to strengthen our cybersecurity, does the member have thoughts on the concerns or unknown ramifications that might result from this bill?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague actually highlights a very important issue here. While having security is critical for our cybersecurity system, we must also make sure that we are balancing this with civil liberties and not allowing personalized data to be shared in an unfettered way. We need safeguards in place so we are able to respond. In certain circumstances, we might have to have a bit of flexibility.
    We also need to have safeguards in place, as well as ramifications, for when governments or businesses go beyond that space. We owe it to Canadians and to the world. We need to be safe, but we also need to protect one another. I do not think any member would like to have their personal telephone number shared with everyone across the country.
    Without adequate safeguards, that information could possibly be shared, and these are the kinds of pieces that could create a lot of harm to each and every one of us. We have to have serious conversations about them.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Health Partners International of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about my recent visit to Health Partners International of Canada, commonly known as HPIC. I saw first-hand the incredible work that this organization is doing. HPIC sends humanitarian and emergency medical kits to vulnerable communities around the globe.
    Since 1990, HPIC has dispatched $670 million in medicines to 130 countries. Today, it is working in 37 countries, such as Ukraine, Haiti, Tigray and Afghanistan. I want to highlight HPIC's campaign to provide life-saving medicines in Syria and Turkey. A donation of one dollar allows HPIC to deliver $10 in essential medicines.
    What struck me about HPIC was its team's dedication and passion. It works around the clock to ensure that critical medical supplies reach those who need them most. HPIC's efforts are a clear reminder that we are all members of one human family, and we support it.

Agassiz Fire Department

    Mr. Speaker, on February 27, I attended the District of Kent council meeting to proudly recognize the Agassiz Fire Department and its heroic actions during the floods and landslides that swept through my riding in 2021.
    Our small-town agricultural community was hit with not one but two landslides, trapping 311 people. It was no small task for the Agassiz Fire Department, which bravely rose to the challenge alongside the Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP, BC Ambulance Service and Kent Harrison Search and Rescue. Thanks to their quick and strategic action, lives were saved that day. In conjunction with the Canadian Armed Forces, all trapped individuals were led to safety and helicoptered out by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
    Members of the Agassiz Fire Department risked their lives to save others. I am moved by their true teamwork and dedication to selflessly put another's life ahead of their own. I am recognizing the AFD today because we must do more to recognize the heroic actions of local volunteer fire brigades across Canada.

Women's History Month

    Mr. Speaker, this month is international Women's History Month, and I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the incredible contributions that women have made throughout history and continue to make today. I especially want to recognize the 103 women in the House.
    This is a moment to bring attention to both the advancements made in achieving gender equality and the work that still needs to be done. I also want to highlight my municipal counterpart's work at the City of Brampton for unanimously passing a motion at council this month to implement mandatory gender-based analysis plus training for all senior staff using our federal tool. I was just at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, where Canada is recognized as a leader on gender equality, and GBA+ is a leading international model.
    As we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us remember the many women who have paved the way and those who continue to inspire each and every one of us.

[Translation]

Pierre‑Luc Leblanc

    Mr. Speaker, today I wish to pay tribute to one of my constituents, a worthy and dedicated citizen from the great riding of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.
    Ten years ago, Pierre-Luc Leblanc became the youngest-ever president of the Éleveurs de volailles du Québec, the Quebec poultry farmers' association. Pierre-Luc's tenure will come to an end in two weeks, making him the second-longest-serving president in the history of this illustrious institution.
    Pierre-Luc owns numerous poultry farms and will soon be able to dedicate his full attention to his growing businesses, as well as new ventures, such as opening a large market in Saint-Hyacinthe that is dedicated to local products.
    Since 2019, when the voters in our riding entrusted me with the responsibility of representing them here in Parliament, I have worked with Pierre-Luc on the issues that matter to farmers, particularly the issue of supply management. He has been an invaluable ally in our journey towards food self-sufficiency.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I wish Pierre-Luc a successful end to his tenure and best wishes for the future.

Canada-U.S. Relations

    Mr. Speaker, there is no stronger relationship in the world than the one between Canada and the United States.

[English]

    The links between Canadians and Americans are long-standing, indeed. Like many, I have lived in the United States, which allowed me to experience American exceptionalism first-hand.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

     In the face of an uncertain future, we continue to strengthen our ties for our citizens, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and to fight climate change.

[English]

    The well-known North American principle that diversity is our strength is both our nations’ beacon of light to the world. President Biden's visit to Canada is a reminder of the remarkable Canada-U.S. relationship as neighbours and, above all, friends.

[Translation]

    Together, we are determined to create real opportunities to promote security as well as an inclusive, robust economic recovery that will continue to stimulate competition for citizens on both sides of the border.

[English]

Canadian Armed Forces

    Mr. Speaker, after eight years of the Liberal Prime Minister, members of our Canadian Forces are being told they are asking for more than the Prime Minister will give. Take, for example, the brutal conditions at my alma matter, the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics at CFB Kingston.
    Troops are housed in four-person rooms with poor HVAC, broken shared facilities, no privacy, no kitchenettes, no access to storage and bathrooms full of mould. Just yesterday, one member told me he is living in the shacks. His room is heated to 33 degrees and is full of mice. “Would you let your family live here?” he asked. Of course, the answer is absolutely not.
    Even the equipment is in shambles. LSVWs and lineman construction trucks are well overdue for replacement. No wonder morale and recruitment are dismal when the government will not provide our men and women in uniform the equipment or living quarters they need.
    We ask everything of the men and women in our Armed Forces. It is about time the Liberals give them what they need to get the job done.

Agnes Macphail Award Recipient

    Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to congratulate the 2023 recipient of the City of Toronto's Agnes Macphail Award, Dr. Shakhlo Sharipova, a proud resident of Thorncliffe Park.
    This award is presented annually to the volunteer in East York who has made a significant community impact. Agnes Macphail was the first woman elected to the House of Commons and served provincially in what is now Don Valley West. She was passionate about education, youth and women's political engagement.
    Coming to Canada in 2009 from Tajikistan, Dr. Sharipova built the Thorncliffe Park Autism Support Network, parents caring for children living with autism. Even as the primary caregiver of a son who lives with autism, and while operating the network, Dr. Sharipova has time to help seniors, newcomers and low-income families. With her team of volunteers, she runs an annual toy drive, and this year will provide over 4,000 meals during Ramadan through her free hot meal project.
    I congratulate Dr. Sharipova. Ramadan Mubarak.

Endometriosis Awareness Month

    Mr. Speaker, as March is Endometriosis Awareness Month, I rise to use my voice to call attention to the life-altering impacts of this chronic condition.
    For those suffering from endometriosis, the lived reality of debilitating pain, infertility and other symptoms can take a significant mental and physical toll, impacting their ability to work, study and enjoy their lives. It can take five to 11 years to receive an official diagnosis, and there is no definitive cause or known cure. The stigma around menstruation and women's health has led to low awareness, and this is why we need to talk about it openly and get serious about addressing the research and access to treatment gaps that exist around the disease.
    This is why I am proud to have joined some of my colleagues in the House in seconding Motion No. 52, which would establish a national action plan for endometriosis. I would encourage all fellow members to consider doing the same.

Activism in Russia

    Mr. Speaker, in a secret courtroom in Russia, an unjust trial of a courageous freedom fighter is taking place.
     Our friend, Vladimir Kara-Murza, is facing a sentence of 25 years in prison, which would beat the longest verdict ever sentenced and handed out to a Russian political prisoner. His crime is high treason, but what did he actually do? Vladimir Kara-Murza spoke out against Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine. He called out corrupt oligarchs and the kleptocrats in the Kremlin. He stood up for liberty, the rule of law and democracy.
    While Putin wages his genocidal war in Ukraine, Kara-Murza called for peace. He languishes in prison, exacerbating his poor health, which is a result of the poisonings that he survived from two previous assassination attempts ordered by Moscow, yet he continues to fight for a better future for the people of Russia. In the words Kara-Murza, “The biggest gift that those of us who oppose Vladimir Putin could give to the Kremlin would be to give up and run away”.
    I call on the House to demand Putin to immediately end the show trial against Vladimir Kara-Murza and set him free.

  (1410)  

Inn From The Cold

    Mr. Speaker, an active and engaging not-for-profit is a sure sign of a healthy community.
    On Saturday, February 25, my community took part in the Coldest Night of the Year fundraising walk for Inn From The Cold to support people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Over 400 walkers, 64 teams and 65 volunteers raised over $157,000.
    I thank the sponsors, the participants and the organizing committee members, specifically Martha Berry, Tracee Chambers, Ann Watson, Joanna Gardner, Cody Kaslove, Anne Young and Ken Turriff. It is because of their efforts that Inn From The Cold will continue to be able to offer support to those in need of shelter. I thank everyone who took time to make a positive difference in our community.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, on April 1, the Liberal government will raise the tax on beer, wine and spirits once again. It is the biggest tax hike on alcohol in 40 years, and that means Canadian breweries, vineyards and distilleries will pay the price. It also proves that the Prime Minister has no shame in fuelling the affordability crisis he created.
    Thankfully, Conservatives are fighting to turn hurt into hope for Canadians who enjoy a refreshing drink after a long day of work, and yesterday we got results. Conservatives successfully passed a motion calling on the government to cancel this punishing tax hike. Now, it is up to the Prime Minister to either respect the will of Parliament or turn a blind eye for yet another tax hike on Canadians.

Carbon Tax

    Mr. Speaker, they say this Prime Minister has never met a tax he did not like. He said no to relief from GST on home heating and fuels, he said no to freezing the rising escalator tax on beer, wine and spirits, and instead of providing relief to Canadians, the Liberals are increasing the carbon tax by 25% on April 1.
     This Prime Minister does not understand science any better than he does the struggles of ordinary Canadians. For instance, in my riding, we have the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America. They are essential to our food security. Up to 75% of the carbon dioxide emissions can be recirculated back for essential plant growth, yet they are taxed. As most farm operations are now over 15 acres in size, by 2030, these operators will have paid another $1.3 million in carbon tax.
     When will this Prime Minister get the facts and stop the tax?

Maple Syrup Season

    Mr. Speaker, for Canadians, March means maple syrup, so I rise today to celebrate 40 years of Maple Madness in the Kingston region.
    Last week, my team, joined by my family and I, went for our annual trip to maple madness. Bundled up on a cold yet sunny morning, we took a tractor-drawn wagon ride into the sugar bush at the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area. We learned how making maple syrup has evolved over the years, including the ingenious techniques used by indigenous peoples for centuries. There are wonderful storytellers who guide visitors through the bush, and capable hands at work in the sugar shack. Of course, a highlight of our visit was enjoying some freshly made pancakes with warm maple syrup.
    This is an annual tradition for so many community members in our area, and I want to thank all involved in making Maple Madness such a success for the past 40 years. I wish them a happy anniversary.

  (1415)  

Dental Hygienists

    Mr. Speaker, today, I am pleased to welcome members of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association to Parliament, especially Donna, Cindy, Bev and Juliana, who met with me this morning to share their experience and wisdom.
    Dental hygienists are essential primary health care professionals who are critical to oral health and who specialize in preventative care.
     This year, National Dental Hygienists Week will run from April 4 to 10. The week's theme "Oral Health for Total Health" reminds all of us that taking care of our mouth, teeth and gums is integral to our overall health. That is why my New Democrat colleagues and I are working so diligently to bring dental care to every Canadian from coast to coast to coast.
    On behalf of Canada's New Democrats, I wish to thank the over 31,000 dental hygienists across our country who help take care of our smiles every single day. Together, we can expand access, provide better dental care and improve the health of all Canadians.

[Translation]

Lorraine-Rosemère Novice Hockey Tournament

    Mr. Speaker, the 29th Lorraine-Rosemère novice hockey tournament was held last January 25 to February 5. It is the biggest tournament in the Laurentians. Players took to the ice in a supercharged atmosphere. Congratulations to all the young people who gave us such wonderful performances.
    I want to congratulate all the volunteers who contributed to the success of this event, especially the president of the tournament, Jessy Ann Hutchison, for the superb organization.
    I had the pleasure of facing off with my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. We were guest coaches at an all-star game. Unfortunately, my team was outdone by the opposing team's game plan.
    I congratulate my dear colleague on his victory. There will be a rematch next year.

[English]

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, on November 7, the first report appeared about the PRC's interference in our elections. Since then, 19 weeks have passed. Since then, hundreds of questions have been asked in question period, in debate and in committee.
    Despite these hundreds of questions, despite 19 weeks having passed, the Prime Minister has not told us much of anything. The government has responded with non-answers, denials, obfuscations, and accusations of racism and partisanship. The only reason why we know anything is because whistle-blowers have leaked to the media.
     This is appalling. It is contemptuous of Parliament. By denying Parliament the most basic answers to the questions about a serious national threat, by forcing whistle-blowers to leak to the media, by going outside Parliament, the government is undermining Parliament and the very foundations of our constitutional order.

Forest Stewardship Award

    Mr. Speaker, today, I rise to congratulate Dr. Isobel Ralston and Dr. Jan Oudenes for receiving the prestigious Forest Stewardship Award from Forests Ontario. This award is presented in recognition of outstanding support for forestry conservation and education.
     MapleCross, founded by Isobel and Jan in 2017, invests in and protects ecologically sensitive land and areas of significant biodiversity. MapleCross has contributed to the preservation of almost 15,000 hectares of land across all 10 provinces and helped secure the preservation of more than 30 nature reserves, including the Oak Ridges Moraine in our region.
     In Ontario, our greenbelt and other conservation lands are being threatened by a provincial government willing to allow development to occur on these protected lands. Our federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change acted recently, announcing a much-needed study to determine the effects of development on the Rouge National Park.
    We are at a nexus where protecting our green space is even more important. Therefore, I want to thank Jan and Isobel for dedicating their time, talent and resources to MapleCross and the cause of environmental conservation. As their member of Parliament, I congratulate them on this well-deserved award.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

  (1420)  

[Translation]

Democratic Institutions

     Mr. Speaker, for a thousand days, the two Michaels sat, hopeless, in a windowless torture cell not knowing when they would be freed.
    Yesterday, we learned from Global News that, according to two national security sources, a Liberal MP allegedly, and I quote, “privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off freeing [the two Michaels]”. These members of our national security forces allegedly gave the Prime Minister that information.
    When did the Prime Minister know?
    Mr. Speaker, bringing back the two Michaels, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, was the top priority of the government and, I would say, of all members of the House and all Canadians.
    We worked tirelessly for two years to bring these two men, who were arbitrarily detained by China, back to Canada, and all members of the House should know that.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, for 1,000 days, the two Michaels sat hopeless in a windowless cell, fed in doggy bowls that were slid under their door, going eight months without seeing consular support, yet, according to Global News, a Liberal MP allegedly contacted the Chinese consulate and encouraged it to delay the release of these two Michaels for partisan Liberal gain.
    The intelligence services that came up with this information to the media would have told the Prime Minister. When did they tell him?
    Mr. Speaker, let me be clear that bringing back the two Michaels, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, was the utmost priority of this government, of all members of the House, of all Canadians across the country.
    For two years, we have worked tirelessly to make sure that these two Michaels, who were arbitrarily detained by China, would be coming back home safe. That is what we did and that was the only priority. Thinking otherwise is actually false.
    Mr. Speaker, we have two members of our national security services who have told the media that a Liberal MP told the Chinese not to release the two Michaels.
    I have now twice asked when the Prime Minister, his office or his department were informed of this startling revelation. I am going to ask a third time and I ask the minister to answer.
    When did the Prime Minister become aware of these allegations?
    Mr. Speaker, September 24, 2021 was a great day for Canada and it was the day when the two Michaels, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, came back safely home to Canada. I think it was a day when the government, all members of the House and all Canadians were proud of what we did, because, indeed, the two Michaels were arbitrarily detained for too long in China.
    This will always be our priority as a government. We will always stand up against any form of arbitrary detention in state-to-state relations.
    Mr. Speaker, this non-answer is extremely troubling. We have revelations from Canada's top security forces, who told the media that a Liberal MP asked the Chinese consulate to keep two Canadians in torture, in a windowless cell.
    I asked already, three times, when did the Prime Minister become aware of these revelations. I ask again, when?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all the members of the House who were involved in making sure we could raise the case of the two Michaels for two years, because we worked with friends and allies, different states around the world, to make sure that we could advocate their case and that, on September 24, 2021, they would be coming back here to Canada.
    In that sense, we will stand up against any form of arbitrary detention. This is part of our priority in terms of foreign policy.
    In April, in Toronto, we will be hosting an arbitrary detention summit, because the world needs to know that what happened to the two Michaels was unacceptable.

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the importance of this question cannot be overstated.
    The Prime Minister knew that a member of his Liberal caucus was working to keep two Canadian citizens arbitrarily and illegally incarcerated in windowless cells, potentially being tortured. He knew that and did nothing. That would be a devastating scandal against our national interest.
    I am simply asking for the government to clarify. On what date did the Prime Minister find out the revelations that one of his MPs may have helped keep our people in jail?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister knew very well what was happening to the two Michaels and made sure that his government would be standing up against China in the context of their arbitrary detention.
     In that sense, we will never accept any form of premise that this government and Canadians did not work enough to bring them back home. It was our priority, and members can be convinced that it will always be our priority, when it comes to any form of consular cases or any form of arbitrarily detained Canadians in the world.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers were already concerned about Chinese interference in our electoral system, but another line was crossed yesterday when very serious allegations were levelled against a Liberal MP. It is no longer just our electoral system at stake, it is the people's confidence in their elected representatives in this Parliament.
    The Prime Minister should not be appointing his friend to reflect on whether or not a commission of inquiry should perhaps be launched at some point. Now is the time to act.
    When will the Prime Minister finally set up a public and independent commission of inquiry? It is urgent.
    Mr. Speaker, we fully understand the concerns of Canadians about allegations of foreign interference in our democratic institutions.
     Those concerns are shared and they should be shared by all MPs in the House of Commons. They are certainly shared by our government. We have put in place robust measures to counter foreign interference, and we have strengthened those measures in recent years.
    The appointment of the Right Hon. David Johnston builds on those efforts to make them even more robust.
    Mr. Speaker, delay can be fatal.
    First, we learned that China was interfering in elections. Yesterday, we learned that a Liberal member had allegedly advised a Chinese diplomat to take action that was not in the interest of Canadian citizens. This is serious. I am not making this up.
    As we learn about this and more and more incidents are reported by the media, we note that there is still no commission of inquiry and that the government has appointed an old friend to determine whether or not there will be a commission of inquiry, when in fact, one should be launched right now. There should be an independent commission of public inquiry. It is urgent.
    When will it be launched?
    Mr. Speaker, I must reassure the House and, of course, my dear colleague that bringing the two Michaels, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, back to Canada was always a priority for this government.
    I believe it was also a priority for all members of the House and certainly for all Canadians. September 24, 2021, was a great day because they finally came home.
    Protecting Canadians around the world, no matter who they are, will always be our priority. We will never again allow any form of arbitrary detention.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. Every day, new allegations come forward about political interference that erode the public's trust in our democracy. It is becoming more and more clear to the public that the Prime Minister must have known about these allegations. Communities are at risk of being stigmatized. We need to clear the air.
    Will the Prime Minister do the right thing and allow his MPs to vote in favour of our motion today for a transparent independent public inquiry?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, we obviously share the leader of the NDP's concern about the importance of not stigmatizing communities in Canada.
     I think all members of the House know that our government wants to have a respectful non-partisan, fact-based conversation around these allegations and around how we can work together to further reinforce our democratic institutions to ensure that foreign interference is something that is always countered by the government. It is something we have done since we formed the government and it is something we will continue to do to ensure Canadians can have confidence in our democracy.
    Mr. Speaker, the way we do everything the minister just said is by launching a public inquiry.

[Translation]

    The allegations published yesterday are shocking and disturbing. It is clear that a public inquiry is needed. These allegations are eroding people's confidence in our democracy.
    We have an opportunity today. Is the Prime Minister prepared to allow his MPs to vote in favour of our motion calling for a public inquiry?
    Mr. Speaker, as I just said a moment ago, we share the concerns of the NDP leader and of all Canadians. As for the need to have a discussion on these issues, a non-partisan, fact-based discussion, we have institutions already in place that are doing important work.
    We have asked the Right Hon. David Johnston to go even further, to review the institutions that are already in place and to advise us on what additional steps we can take. We look forward to the results of Mr. Johnston's analysis in that regard.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday Global News printed very serious allegations about a member who sits in the House. The allegations, according to two separate national security sources, state that he privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.
    For the sixth time today, on what date did the Prime Minister first learn of these allegations from security officials?
    Mr. Speaker, we take the allegations of foreign interference very seriously, which is why we have ensured that our national security agencies have all of the powers and authorities, but with the corresponding transparency required to reinforce the confidence of Canadians in our institutions
    At every stage, Canadians can be confident we are protecting our institutions. Canadians can be confident we are protecting our elections.
    Above all, Canadians can be assured of the fact that this government worked 24-7 to ensure the return of the two Michaels to Canada. That is something we did.
    Mr. Speaker, the allegations from two separate national security sources state that a member of the House privately advised Beijing officials to hold off freeing two Canadian hostages held captive for over 1,000 days.
     After all of the new evidence that Canadians have learned on election interference, it would be difficult for them to believe that security sources told Global News about the Liberal member’s actions without anyone trying to inform the Prime Minister.
    I will ask for the seventh time today: On what day did the Prime Minister first learn of these allegations against a member of his own caucus?
    Mr. Speaker, I assure my colleague that the government has set up the appropriate mechanisms to deal with the allegations with regard to foreign interference in our elections, through the creation of NSICOP, through the creation of NSIRA and now through the appointment of Mr. David Johnston, who was initially appointed by Steven Harper, a former Conservative prime minister. Mr. Johnston is an eminent Canadian who possesses the qualifications, the experience in the law and the wisdom to help us navigate around the important challenges of foreign interference.
    No member in the chamber should have any doubt whatsoever as to the way in which we are protecting our institutions and ensured the return of the two Michaels to Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, the evidence is mounting. Every day, we are finding new pieces to the foreign interference puzzle. Just yesterday, new allegations were revealed, which led to the resignation of a long-standing member of the Liberal caucus. We will continue to ask questions until Canadians get a straightforward answer.
    For the eighth consecutive time, on what date did the Prime Minister first learn of these serious and troubling allegations?

  (1435)  

     Mr. Speaker, since we took the reins of government, we have raised the bar of transparency through the creation of the National Security Intelligence Review Agency; through the creation of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which sees parties work across the partisan aisle; and now with the most recent appointment of David Johnston as an independent expert who will look into these questions to reassure Canadians they can have confidence in our institutions, in our elections and in our defence of human rights, which manifested in a campaign to see the two Michaels returned to Canada.
    That is something every member of the chamber and all Canadians can be confident in.
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, new serious allegations about foreign interference in federal elections led to a high-profile resignation from the Liberal caucus, a caucus member whom the Prime Minister has staunchly defended.
    We have already asked this eight times today. I will give the Liberals a ninth chance to answer. On what day did the Prime Minister first learn of these troubling allegations?
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to answer the question from my colleague from Miramichi—Grand Lake in New Brunswick. As has been said on many occasions in the House, we think Canadians benefit from a non-partisan, fact-based conversation about these very serious issues.
    We know the Conservative Party is seeking to turn this issue into a partisan circus. What we are trying to do is reassure Canadians that we have a robust system to protect our democratic institutions. Our government has taken these allegations seriously since we formed office, and the right honourable David Johnston is the right person to give us ideas on the next steps to—
    The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
    Mr. Speaker, day after day, there are new questions about what the Prime Minister knows about Beijing's interference. Yesterday, it was reported, based on national security sources, that a Liberal MP advised Beijing's Toronto consul general that the two Michaels languished in a Communist Party jail because somehow their release would benefit the Conservatives. This is about as serious as it gets. The Prime Minister needs to come clean.
    For the 10th time, when did the Prime Minister learn of these allegations?
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to making sure the two Michaels, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, would be coming home, it was this government's utmost priority. For two years, the Prime Minister and foreign affairs ministers were heavily involved. All members of cabinet were talking to counterparts from around the world. Implying that this was not the case is absolutely false. We hope that all members in the House are convinced we were working together to make sure to bring them back home.
    Mr. Speaker, again, for the 11th time, on what date did the Prime Minister first learn about the allegation that a Liberal MP suggested to Han Tao, the PRC's consul general in Toronto, that the PRC delay the release of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor?
    Mr. Speaker, we will continue to be transparent with Canadians when it comes to the ways in which we are fighting foreign interference, through the collaboration of all parties in NSICOP, through accountability of NSIRA and now through the appointment of David Johnston, an eminent Canadian previously appointed by Stephen Harper, a former Conservative prime minister. He is someone who will lay out the next practical steps, including and up to a public inquiry, so that all Canadians can be confident we are protecting our institutions.
    No one should doubt, not for a single moment, that we did everything in our power to secure the return of the two Canadians. It was the right thing to do. The two Michaels are back home, and that is something that should be celebrated by all members in the chamber.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we know that CSIS warned Ontario Premier Doug Ford of potential interference in the last provincial election.
    More importantly, we know that this interference targeted the area around Don Valley North, the riding represented by the federal MP named in the Global News allegations yesterday. We know this because Mr. Ford has said so publicly and transparently.
    Did CSIS warn the Prime Minister that it was talking to Doug Ford about potential Chinese interference during the Ontario election?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, as we have been saying for months, threats of foreign interference are not just at the federal level. Democratic institutions in the provinces have likely been targeted by the same kinds of threats that we are seeing right now in the context of federal elections.
    That is why we have always kept up a constructive dialogue with the premiers. I myself have spoken with Mr. Ford about the importance of strengthening democratic institutions. We have given provincial governments access to senior intelligence officials who can provide the information they need.
    Mr. Speaker, we also know that Vancouver's outgoing mayor, Kennedy Stewart, discussed potential interference from China with CSIS before the last municipal election. We know that because he, too, said it publicly.
    Did CSIS advise the Prime Minister that it had discussed China's potential interference in the Vancouver municipal election?
    Mr. Speaker, as we said many times and as I already said before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs several weeks ago, as ministers, we get regular briefings on threats of foreign interference. We also provided provincial authorities with briefings or access to the senior officials responsible for our intelligence agencies so that they could understand the nature of the threat, which is always changing, and take the necessary measures in their jurisdictions to do what we did, which is to strengthen our democratic institutions.
    Mr. Speaker, in summary, CSIS is openly talking about Chinese interference with cities and it is openly talking about Chinese interference with provinces, but we are to believe that CSIS is not talking about it with the federal government? Apparently the Prime Minister had to find out from the news that one or more of his MPs had diplomatic ties to Beijing. Either CSIS is keeping the Prime Minister abreast of everything that is happening at every level, except in his own backyard, or CSIS is talking to everyone but the federal government. What are we to believe? When will there be a public, independent inquiry?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is fully aware that CSIS senior officials talk to federal government authorities on a regular basis to advise us on ways to strengthen our democratic institutions. That is precisely what we have been doing ever since we formed government. The appointment of the Right Hon. David Johnston is a measure that will allow us to further strengthen our democratic institutions. We have always recognized the threat of foreign interference, and we have taken measures to counter that threat.
     Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Global News published very serious allegations about a sitting MP. These allegations came from two separate national security sources. They are saying, and I quote, that he advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off on freeing Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. I am asking the same question that was asked 11 consecutive times today.
    On what date did the Prime Minister first learn of these allegations from security officials?
     Mr. Speaker, as I have said a number of times in the House, bringing back the two Michaels was the utmost priority of this government. That was the priority of the Prime Minister, of several foreign affairs ministers and of all the members of the House. We worked with numerous counterparts around the world to ensure support for the two Michaels and to put pressure on China to achieve a positive outcome. Finally, September 24, 2021, was a great day for Canada: The two Michaels, two individuals arbitrarily detained by China, came back home to Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know what is so hard for the minister to understand. The question is simple. The allegations are serious. The government's failure to respond is revealing. For the 13th time, I will ask a very simple question that needs a very simple answer. When was the Prime Minister informed of the serious allegations revealed by Global News yesterday?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, what my colleague opposite needs to understand is that bringing home both Michaels was a priority. It was a priority for this government. Any insinuations to the contrary are absolutely false. Thus, I am answering the question, or the premise of the question: Canada, the government and all Canadians worked extremely hard to bring home Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two people who were arbitrarily detained.
    Mr. Speaker, I find it really hard to believe that national security officials would have chosen to deliberately inform the media about such a sensitive matter before informing the Prime Minister. Again according to the Global News article, the Liberal MP “was already the subject of a CSIS probe started in the summer of 2019, three sources said, because the service believed a ‘subtle but effective’ election-interference network directed by the Toronto Chinese Consulate had clandestinely supported Dong's 2019 candidacy”.
    We have asked the Prime Minister this question 13 times. On what exact date was the Prime Minister made aware of these serious allegations?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows perfectly well that we believe Canadians will benefit from a non-partisan discussion based on the facts that are properly framed within institutions that we have established since we formed government, including a committee of parliamentarians with Conservative Party members.
    We appointed the Right Hon. David Johnston last week to advise us on what additional measures we can take. We will of course follow Mr. Johnston's transparent and public recommendations.

[English]

Forestry Industry

    Mr. Speaker, just days after the Prime Minister met with President Biden in 2021, the U.S. announced it was doubling the duties on softwood lumber. Workers in communities that rely on Canada's forest industry are hoping for better this time.
    The WTO agrees that we need a better deal. Is the softwood lumber deal on the agenda with the President? Will the billions in excess duties collected finally be returned to the forest industry?
    Mr. Speaker, that is an important question. My hon. colleague and I had a good conversation about this the other day.
    I have been very clear about the forestry sector: We will always stand up for it and will always stand up for its workers. With respect to this issue, we have always said that we are ready to be at the table to negotiate, but we want a good deal, not just any deal.

Northern Affairs

    Uqaqtittiji, the climate emergency and foreign actors are threatening Canada's Arctic sovereignty and the rights of indigenous peoples in the north. Meanwhile, the Canadian Rangers, who know the lands they serve, have been failed by the government. A stronger relationship with the U.S. means more predictability and resources and, hopefully, more supports for Canadian Rangers.
    Will the government work with the United States to ensure Canadian Rangers are equipped with more efficient supports and the tools they need to help keep northerners safe?
    Mr. Speaker, whether it is search and rescue, domestic operations or training of fellow CAF members, Canadian Rangers provide key support to Canadians when and where needed. The CAF recognizes that Rangers need to replace personal items quickly, because Rangers, and often their community, require them for daily tasks and functions. The CAF has recently streamlined the compensation process. This will expedite the process for Rangers to receive their reimbursements. Our government is committed to ensuring that CAF members always have the tools they need to do their job.

Automotive Industry

    Mr. Speaker, our government has been working hard to bring significant investments to Canada to create good jobs in Kitchener—Conestoga and throughout our nation to support our priority of creating a greener economy. Can the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry update this House on the exciting news that was announced regarding Volkswagen and how this will strengthen southwest Ontario's and Canada's electric vehicle battery ecosystem?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is a great question. Bringing Volkswagen to Canada is a home run for the country. It is the first manufacturer we have brought into our country in 35 years, and it is the first time we bring a European manufacturer to Canada. This is a huge vote of confidence for Canada, it is a huge vote of confidence for the auto sector and it is a huge vote of confidence for our talented auto workers across this nation. Canada can win big, and this is another example.

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Global News printed very serious allegations about a member who sits in this House. The allegations, according to two separate national security sources, stated that he “privately advised a senior Chinese diplomat in February 2021 that Beijing should hold off freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor”.
    For the 15th time today, on what date did the Prime Minister first learn of these allegations from security officials?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows full well that this government has set up the appropriate mechanisms to be transparent and upfront with Canadians in the ways we are protecting our institutions, including our elections, from any allegations of foreign interference. We have had two independent panels, made up of non-partisan, professional public servants, verify that the elections were free and fair in 2019 and 2021. Now we have appointed an eminent Canadian in David Johnston to map out the next steps so we can continue that work. This is something we will do transparently with Canadians as well.
    Mr. Speaker, these non-answers are eroding public trust in our democracy.
    The allegations from two separate national security sources state that a member in this House privately advised Beijing officials to hold off on freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two Canadians who were held captive for 1,000 days.
    For the 16th time, on what date did the Prime Minister first learn about these allegations against a member of his caucus?
    Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we think what erodes Canadians' confidence is the continued attempt to seek partisan advantage from what is a very serious national security issue, one that our government has taken very seriously.
    Autocratic regimes around the world, including China, want to weaken democratic institutions in countries like Canada. These kinds of irresponsible partisan discussions do not advance the interests of ensuring that Canadians have confidence in their democratic institutions. There are non-partisan fact-based ways to get these answers and this reassurance. That is exactly what our government is doing.
    Mr. Speaker, this is very serious and is not partisan. Shame on the member for saying so.
    The allegations by Global News yesterday were very disturbing. Two national security sources say that a Liberal MP advised Beijing to keep the two Michaels locked up to suffer for partisan political gain. That MP has now resigned from the Liberal caucus.
    Canadians deserve to know the truth. Even more, the two Michaels and their families deserve to know the truth.
    For the 17th time today, tell us on what date the Prime Minister learned of these horrendous allegations.
    Mr. Speaker, I find it rather incredulous that my colleague across the aisle said that the Conservatives did not partake in any partisanship. What do they say about the attacks they made against Mr. Johnston, somebody who was appointed by Stephen Harper? What do they say about when they attacked my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, when she appeared at committee to do her job, which included working around the clock to see the return of the two Michaels?
    Those are examples of partisanship. It is the Conservatives who should reverse course and unite behind the cause of protecting our institutions. That is precisely what this government will continue to do.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it feels like the noose is tightening and every day brings more information to light.
    The information reported yesterday is troubling. One Liberal MP even had to resign. These are serious national issues. Canadians have a right—and, more importantly, a duty—to be informed.
    For the 18th time, when was the Prime Minister informed of these troubling allegations?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians do indeed have a right to be informed. For two years, they were informed that it was this government's priority to bring home two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arbitrarily detained in China.
    For two years, people across the country were clear. This was their priority, so it had to be the priority of the government and all members of the House too. We reject the premise of the questions being asked by our Conservative colleagues.
    Bringing the two Michaels home has been the Liberal government's priority at all times.
    Mr. Speaker, Global News is alleging that a Liberal MP advised the Chinese consulate in Toronto to hold off freeing the two Michaels who were imprisoned in China.
    That in itself is extremely serious, but we also need to be concerned about the fact that the Prime Minister's Office seemingly only learned about this in the media. The Prime Minister was supposedly shocked. Nevertheless, CSIS warned him as early as 2019, even before the member was elected, of the close ties between the MP and the consul general.
    How is it possible that this MP was able to continue to have free access to the Chinese diplomat?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Montarville for his question. It gives me an opportunity to remind the House that we believe that the best way to reassure Canadians regarding the robust measures that are in place and our government's efforts to continually strengthen those measures is to have a non-partisan, facts-based discussion.
    That is exactly what the Right Hon. David Johnston has already begun to do. His work is important. He will table a report before the end of May that will show us the direction to take, and we look forward to his report.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was aware of the close ties between his MP and the Chinese consul because CSIS warned him in 2019. He did nothing.
    Yesterday, Global News reported that this MP allegedly used this relationship to try to influence Beijing so as to benefit the Liberal Party, even if it meant putting two Canadian citizens at risk.
    The Prime Minister was naive at best, and his MP apparently took advantage of the situation. This completely disqualifies the government from deciding on the rules governing the inquiry into Chinese interference.
    When will an independent public inquiry be launched? This is urgent.
    Mr. Speaker, my friend from Montarville is fully aware of the efforts made by our government to build non-partisan institutions, for example a committee of parliamentarians to examine national security issues. In fact, my colleague sits on this important committee of parliamentarians.
    It is one of the many forums that allow for informed and non-partisan discussion based on the facts. This helps reassure Canadians that we will always take these issues seriously and that we have measures in place to counter foreign interference.
    We will stay the course.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have asked one question 18 times. This question, if not answered, threatens the core of our Canadian democracy. It is time to stop disrespecting the House. These allegations are as serious as it gets.
    For over 1,000 days, the two Michaels waited in a cell wondering if they would ever see their families again, so we will ask this again: On what day did the Prime Minister know of these horrendous and disturbing allegations of a Liberal MP who told the PRC consulate to leave them in their cells?
    Mr. Speaker, we had an inquiry with Justice Iacobucci and Justice O'Connor, with Canadians who were wrongfully detained in other circumstances, and a set of recommendations was asked to be acted upon. Unfortunately, they were not acted upon by the prior government. They were acted upon by this government.
    Let me be clear. When we are talking about what is at the very core of our democracy, I think we can all be united. There are autocratic regimes right now that are looking to destabilize western democracies. They seek to undermine democracy by engaging in partisan games on things like national security. It is inappropriate. It is important that we deal with these matters in a judicious, fact-based way.

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, allegations emerged that a Liberal MP urged Beijing not to release the two Michaels. The ministers here today so far are evading being honest with Canadians.
    For the 20th time today, on what date did the Prime Minister first hear about these serious allegations reported in the media?
    Mr. Speaker, when we are dealing with something as serious and as fundamental as foreign interference in our democracy, how we engage in those conversations, how we talk to one another, is exceptionally important.
    What we have said from the onset is that we have NSICOP, which allows members from all parties to look into every aspect and every corner of government on all of these issues. We have appointed an eminent expert, who was appointed, in fact, by the Conservative government to be Governor General, to look at these issues and whose commitment to our democracy is impeccable. He will make recommendations on the next step.
    We have to be careful about throwing around allegations as though they are fact. Instead, we need to be judicious in how we deal with these matters.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the premise of my question is a fact.
    The allegations last evening levelled at a member of the Liberal caucus are so serious that Canadians need to know the truth. This affects our democratic institutions and our national security.
    For the umpteenth time, when was the Prime Minister informed of these allegations against a member of his caucus? On what date?
    Mr. Speaker, the government always takes foreign interference issues very seriously.
    That is why we have already given all the power necessary to our agencies that deal with matters of national security, and we have done so transparently. We created a committee of parliamentarians and the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency Secretariat, and we have now appointed Mr. Johnston, who will make recommendations. The government will abide by Mr. Johnston's recommendations.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, many Canadians suffer from rare diseases that affect their quality of life and that of their families. Among these rare diseases is sickle cell anemia. It is an inherited and incurable disease that affects people from the Mediterranean region and Black people.
    The Minister of Health has made an important announcement. Could he tell us more about it?
     Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Bourassa for his hard work and for joining me yesterday in Montreal as I made an important announcement regarding the first-ever national strategy for drugs for rare diseases.
    This three-year, $1.5-billion strategy will help improve the lives of thousands of Canadians, including children, with rare diseases such as sickle cell disease. Through this strategy, thousands of Canadians of all ages will have access to early and improved diagnostics and screening. This means access to earlier treatment based on their needs, no matter where they live in this country.

[English]

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, all day today the Liberal government and Liberal members have said they want to have a fact-based discussion. Well, we are only asking for one fact, and it is a very simple one. When was the Prime Minister briefed on these deeply troubling allegations about a member from the Liberal caucus who has now resigned?
    We have asked for this simple fact now for the 22nd time. Why will they not answer this simple fact-based question?
    Mr. Speaker, by now my colleague will have heard that the answer to that question lies in the mandate provided to Mr. Johnston, who will look into all allegations related to the 2019 and 2021 elections. I also want to assure the member that two independent panels have verified that those elections were free and fair.
    Now Mr. Johnston will put forward recommendations up to and including a public inquiry, which this government will respect, so that we can reinforce the confidence of Canadians in all our institutions, most especially our elections.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister absolutely had to be briefed on this. That is unequivocal.
    Twenty-two times today, Liberals have refused to answer a question. Let us ask ourselves why they will not answer it. It is because the answer to this question is so damaging to the Prime Minister and the Liberal government that they will continue to obfuscate. For the 23rd time, I have a question of simple fact. When was the Prime Minister briefed?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, this is why we do not play with national security using partisan theatre. The member just stood in his place, as we have heard many times, and talked about allegations as if they are fact. He said that things must be true and they know things that, of course, they could not possibly know.
    What we have said throughout this process is that when we are dealing with national security and foreign autocracies trying to undermine our democracy, we need to have the maturity to allow our institutions and process to answer these questions as opposed to playing this out in partisan theatre.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, Canadians are witnessing a government that refuses to set the record straight on very specific and troubling information. We will ask the question again, for the umpteenth time, to ensure that Canadians get clear and accurate information.
    When was the Prime Minister informed of the allegations reported by Global News yesterday to the effect that a Liberal MP wanted to delay the release of the two Michaels for partisan political purposes?
    When was the Prime Minister informed of this sad reality?
    Mr. Speaker, with all due respect for my colleague, the government has created not one, not two, but three independent, non-partisan processes with the goal of increasing and strengthening transparency in every instance where we have had to counter foreign interference.
    Now, we are very much looking forward to receiving recommendations from Mr. Johnston, a distinguished Canadian who has all the qualifications to do a great job.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, my colleagues and I have heard from constituents about the ongoing mass suspension of Internet services in Punjab, India. Canadians have family and friends who are visiting Punjab and who do not have access to the Internet.
    Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs update the House on the ongoing situation?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Mississauga—Malton for his important question. We appreciate his concerns and those of many members in the House.
     We are aware of the evolving situation in Punjab, and we are following it very closely. We look forward to a return to a more stable situation. Canadians can always count on the Government of Canada to make sure that we will continue to address the concerns of many members of the community.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, generations of Métis and first nations children were stolen from their homes and forced to attend Canada's horrific residential schools, including the Île-à-la-Crosse residential school in Saskatchewan.
    Despite the violence, terror and neglect experienced, survivors have been denied the justice, recognition and compensation they deserve. Instead of breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma, the Liberals are fighting the survivors in court. It is shameful.
    When will the government finally commit to justice for the Île-à-la-Crosse residential school survivors, before it is too late?
    Mr. Speaker, indeed, it is a disgrace that these survivors have not been compensated up to now. I sat down with a number of them this summer and had the opportunity to hear the pain that they continue to be going through. This is retriggered by a number of the settlements that we are achieving across Canada.
    These survivors deserve justice. Unfortunately, the Government of Saskatchewan has not acted up to this date, and it needs to be at the table with us. These were administered by the Government of Saskatchewan. It needs to be held accountable. Reconciliation is not only the job of the federal government, which is to be held to account, but for all levels of government. We need the Government of Saskatchewan to step up.

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, on December 2 and February 15, I asked the government about a 30-year-old tax law whereby Canadian companies, like Zenit Nutrition, are penalized by our tax system despite the fact that they use only local and healthy ingredients.
    Following my questions, a minister and a parliamentary secretary offered to help me. The problem is that I have not received a single response or even an acknowledgement.
    In the meantime, these men and women entrepreneurs are fighting multinationals and are only asking to be able to compete on an equal footing.
    Why will the Liberals not take the time to listen to them?

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, tax evasion has always been a priority for our government. That is why we have invested billions of dollars.
    I would be pleased to work with my colleague to get him some answers.

[English]

Security Measures on Parliament Hill

    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations, and I hope that if you seek it, you will find consent for the following:
    I move:
    That this House acknowledge the need to improve and enhance security measures on Parliament Hill within a framework that affirms the Parliamentary privilege of Members that are deemed necessary for the House of Commons, as an institution, and its members, as representatives of the electorate, to fulfill their functions, including their freedom from obstruction, interference and intimidation.
    All those opposed to the hon. member's moving the motion will please say nay. It is agreed.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

    (Motion agreed to)


Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    The House resumed from March 22 consideration of the motion.
    It being 3:11 p.m., pursuant to order made Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 25th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

[Translation]

    Call in the members.

  (1525)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 284)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 172


NAYS

Members

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

Total: -- 149


PAIRED

Members

Desbiens
Duguid

Total: -- 2


    I declare the motion carried.

[Translation]

Finance  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.
    Pursuant to order made on Thursday, June 23, 2022, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Finance.

[English]

    The question is on the amendment.

  (1540)  

    (The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 285)

YEAS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Berthold
Bezan
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chambers
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
Deltell
d'Entremont
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Ferreri
Findlay
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Maguire
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Perkins
Poilievre
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Scheer
Schmale
Shields
Shipley
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Vien
Viersen
Vis
Vuong
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 115


NAYS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Bendayan
Bennett
Bergeron
Bérubé
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Blois
Boissonnault
Bradford
Brière
Brunelle-Duceppe
Cannings
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Joly
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lemire
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Ng
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Pauzé
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Seeback
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Sorbara
Sousa
Ste-Marie
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thompson
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 208


PAIRED

Members

Desbiens
Duguid

Total: -- 2


    I declare the amendment defeated.
    The next question is on the main motion.

[Translation]

    If a member of a recognized party present in the House wishes that the motion be carried or carried on division or wishes to request a recorded division, I would invite them to rise and indicate it to the Chair.

  (1545)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I request a recorded division.

  (1555)  

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

(Division No. 286)

YEAS

Members

Aldag
Alghabra
Ali
Anand
Anandasangaree
Angus
Arseneault
Arya
Ashton
Atwin
Bachrach
Badawey
Bains
Baker
Barron
Barsalou-Duval
Battiste
Beaulieu
Beech
Bendayan
Bennett
Bergeron
Bérubé
Bibeau
Bittle
Blaikie
Blair
Blanchet
Blanchette-Joncas
Blaney
Blois
Boissonnault
Bradford
Brière
Brunelle-Duceppe
Cannings
Casey
Chabot
Chagger
Chahal
Champagne
Champoux
Chatel
Chen
Chiang
Collins (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek)
Collins (Victoria)
Cormier
Coteau
Dabrusin
Damoff
Davies
Desilets
Desjarlais
Dhaliwal
Dhillon
Diab
Dong
Drouin
Dubourg
Duclos
Dzerowicz
Ehsassi
El-Khoury
Erskine-Smith
Fergus
Fillmore
Fisher
Fonseca
Fortier
Fortin
Fragiskatos
Fraser
Freeland
Fry
Gaheer
Garon
Garrison
Gaudreau
Gazan
Gerretsen
Gould
Green
Guilbeault
Hajdu
Hanley
Hardie
Hepfner
Holland
Housefather
Hughes
Hussen
Hutchings
Iacono
Idlout
Ien
Jaczek
Johns
Joly
Jowhari
Julian
Kayabaga
Kelloway
Khalid
Khera
Koutrakis
Kusmierczyk
Kwan
Lalonde
Lambropoulos
Lametti
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larouche
Lattanzio
Lauzon
LeBlanc
Lebouthillier
Lemire
Lightbound
Long
Longfield
Louis (Kitchener—Conestoga)
MacAulay (Cardigan)
MacDonald (Malpeque)
MacGregor
MacKinnon (Gatineau)
Maloney
Martinez Ferrada
Masse
Mathyssen
May (Cambridge)
May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
McDonald (Avalon)
McGuinty
McKay
McKinnon (Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam)
McLeod
McPherson
Mendès
Mendicino
Miao
Michaud
Miller
Morrice
Morrissey
Murray
Naqvi
Ng
Noormohamed
Normandin
O'Connell
Oliphant
O'Regan
Pauzé
Perron
Petitpas Taylor
Plamondon
Powlowski
Qualtrough
Rayes
Robillard
Rodriguez
Rogers
Romanado
Sahota
Sajjan
Saks
Samson
Sarai
Savard-Tremblay
Scarpaleggia
Schiefke
Serré
Sgro
Shanahan
Sheehan
Sidhu (Brampton East)
Sidhu (Brampton South)
Simard
Sinclair-Desgagné
Singh
Sorbara
Sousa
Ste-Marie
St-Onge
Sudds
Tassi
Taylor Roy
Thériault
Therrien
Thompson
Trudeau
Trudel
Turnbull
Valdez
Van Bynen
van Koeverden
Vandal
Vandenbeld
Vignola
Villemure
Virani
Vuong
Weiler
Wilkinson
Yip
Zahid
Zarrillo
Zuberi

Total: -- 210


NAYS

Members

Aboultaif
Aitchison
Albas
Allison
Arnold
Baldinelli
Barlow
Barrett
Berthold
Bezan
Block
Bragdon
Brassard
Brock
Calkins
Caputo
Carrie
Chambers
Chong
Cooper
Dalton
Dancho
Davidson
Deltell
d'Entremont
Doherty
Dowdall
Dreeshen
Duncan (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry)
Ellis
Epp
Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster)
Falk (Provencher)
Fast
Ferreri
Findlay
Gallant
Généreux
Genuis
Gladu
Godin
Goodridge
Gourde
Gray
Hallan
Hoback
Jeneroux
Kelly
Kitchen
Kmiec
Kram
Kramp-Neuman
Kurek
Kusie
Lake
Lantsman
Lawrence
Lehoux
Lewis (Essex)
Lewis (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Liepert
Lloyd
Lobb
Maguire
Martel
Mazier
McCauley (Edmonton West)
McLean
Melillo
Moore
Morantz
Morrison
Motz
Muys
Nater
O'Toole
Patzer
Paul-Hus
Perkins
Poilievre
Redekopp
Reid
Rempel Garner
Richards
Roberts
Rood
Ruff
Scheer
Schmale
Seeback
Shields
Shipley
Small
Soroka
Steinley
Stewart
Strahl
Stubbs
Thomas
Tochor
Tolmie
Uppal
Van Popta
Vecchio
Vidal
Viersen
Vis
Wagantall
Warkentin
Waugh
Webber
Williams
Williamson
Zimmer

Total: -- 114


PAIRED

Members

Desbiens
Duguid

Total: -- 2


    I declare the motion carried.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded divisions, Government Orders will be extended by 44 minutes.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, it is tradition for the official opposition to ask the Thursday question. This Thursday, we asked the same question 24 times. I understand that the hon. member is looking forward to the question. The question is this: On what date did the Prime Minister first learn about the allegations now being reported by Global News?
    I wonder, when the government House leader gives us that answer, if he would also tell us what the legislative plans are for this upcoming week.
    Before I let the hon. government House leader answer, I just want to remind the hon. members that usually the question pertains to what is going to come up next week as far as legislation is concerned, and is not a continuation of debate. I know it is kind of fuzzy these days, but I just thought I would clarify that for next Thursday, so we can make sure it is done the way we want it.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member across the way, having not had an opportunity to ask the Thursday question and not having been granted that opportunity, might be somewhat confused about the nature of the Thursday question or what it would be about, so of course we excuse him for that.
    This afternoon, we are going to be concluding second reading debate of Bill C-26, concerning the critical cyber systems protection act. I would also like to thank all parties for their co-operation in helping to conclude that debate.
    As all members are aware, and as I am sure you are aware of and quite excited for, Mr. Speaker, the House will be adjourned tomorrow for the address of the United States President, President Joe Biden.
    On Monday, we will be dealing with the Senate amendments in relation to Bill C-11, the online streaming act.
    Tuesday, we will continue the debate at second reading of Bill C-27, the digital charter implementation act, with the budget presentation taking place later that day, at 4 p.m.
    Members will be pleased to know that days one and two of the budget debate, which I know members are anxiously awaiting, will be happening on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
    On Friday, we will proceed to the second reading debate of Bill C-41, regarding humanitarian aid to vulnerable Afghans.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

  (1600)  

[English]

Telecommunications Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act respecting cyber security, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, in some respects, Bill C-26 is quite complicated, but it is also quite simple. It aspires to have the risks of cybersecurity systems identified, managed and addressed so we are at much less risk because of our cyber system.
    In the last while, I have had the good fortune to be the chair of the public safety committee in the previous Parliament, and I am now the chair of the defence committee. As such, I have listened to literally hours of testimony from people who are quite well informed on this subject matter. My advice to colleagues here is this: It behooves us all to be quite humble and approach this subject with some humility because it is extremely complex.
    The first area of complexity is with respect to the definitions.
    For instance, cybersecurity is defined as “the protection of digital information, as well as the integrity of the infrastructure housing and transmitting digital information”. Cyber-threat is defined as “an activity intended to compromise the security of an information system”.
    Cyber-defence, according to NATO, is defensive actions in the cyber domain. Cyberwarfare generally means damaging or disrupting another nation-state's computers. Cyber-attacks “exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and networks of computer data”.
    Therefore, with respect to the definitions, we can appreciate the complexity of inserting yet another bill and minister into this process.
    Let me offer some suggested questions for the members who would be asked to sit on the committee to look at this bill if it passes out of the House. I do recommend that the bill pass out of the House and, if it does, that the committee charged with its review take the appropriate amount of time to inform itself on the complexities of this particular space.
    The first question I would ask is this: Who is doing the coordination? There are a number of silos involved here. We have heard testimony after testimony about various entities operating in various silos.
    For instance, the Department of Defence has its silo, which is to defend the military infrastructure. It also has some capability to launch cyber-attacks, but it is a silo.
    Then there is the public safety silo, which is a very big silo, because it relies on the CSE, CSIS and the RCMP, and has the largest responsibility for the protection of civilian infrastructure.
    While the CSE does not have the ability to launch cyber-attacks domestically, it has the ability to launch a cyber-attack in international cyberspace. It is a curious contradiction, and I would encourage members to ask potential witnesses to explain that contradiction, because the more this space expands, the more the distinctions between foreign attacks and domestic attacks become blurred.
    The bill would charge the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry with some responsibility with respect to cybersecurity.

  (1605)  

    I would ask my colleagues to ask questions about how these three entities, public safety, defence and now the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, are going to coordinate so that the silos are operating in a coordinated fashion and sharing information with each other so that Canada presents the best possible posture for the defence of our networks. Again, I offer that as a suggestion of a question to be asked. We cannot afford the luxury of one silo knowing something that the other silo does not know, and this is becoming a very significant issue.
    CSIS, for instance, deals in information and intelligence. The RCMP deals in evidence. Most of the information that is coming through all of the cyber-infrastructure would never reach the level of evidence, whether the civil or criminal standard of evidence. This is largely information, largely intelligence, and sometimes it is extremely murky. Again, I am offering that as a question for members to ask of those who come before the committee as proponents of the bill.
    The other area I would suggest is to question is how this particular bill would deal with the attributions of an attack. To add to all of the complications I have already put on the floor of the House, there is also a myriad of attackers. There are pure state attackers, hybrid state criminal attackers and flat-out criminals.
    For the state attackers, one can basically name the big four: China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. However, there are themes and variations within that. Russia, for instance, frequently uses its rather extensive criminal network to act on behalf of the state. It basically funds itself by with proceeds of its criminal activities, and the Russians do not care. If one is going to cripple a hospital network or a pipeline or any infrastructure on can name, then they do not care whether it happens by pure criminal activity or hybrid activity or state activity. It is all an exercise in disruption and making things difficult for Canadians in particular. We see daily examples of this in Ukraine, where the Russians have used cyber-attacks to really make the lives of Ukrainians vulnerable and also miserable.
    The next question I would ask, and if this is not enough, I have plenty more, is on the alphabet soup of various actors. We have NSICOP, CSE, CSIS and the RCMP. I do not know what the acronym for this bill will be, but I am sure that somebody will think of it. How does this particular initiative, which, as I say, is a worthy initiative to be supported here, fit into the overall architecture?
    Finally, CAF and the defence department are now doing a review of our defence posture, our defence policy. Cyber is an ever-increasing part of our security environment and, again, I would be asking the question of how Bill C-26 and all of its various actors fit into that defence review.

  (1610)  

    Madam Speaker, I am looking for the member's commentary on something I will read to him. It reads:
    There are several legislative changes that could be implemented to enhance cybersecurity in Canada. Some of these changes include:
1. Strengthening Privacy Laws...
2. Mandatory Reporting of Cybersecurity Incidents...
3. Improving Cybersecurity Standards...
4. Increasing Cybersecurity Funding...
6. Strengthening Cybercrime Laws...
    Overall, these legislative changes could help strengthen cybersecurity in Canada and better protect individuals and organizations from cyber threats.
     I am reading this and I could have read more, but this was all generated by ChatGPT. I could have also given some negatives around certain legislation. My point is that I think this emphasizes the importance of the bill and getting it right because we have artificial intelligence getting to the point where it can literally write speeches for us for the House if we want it to. I would like the member's comments on that.
    Madam Speaker, that was an excellent question. I wish I had written it myself, but apparently someone, or something, else already had.
    Prior to question period, I was sitting with my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge Park. He wrote a speech for me, through ChatGPT, on my modern slavery bill. We just sat there, and after he had fed in a few words, an entire speech was spit out. Yet again, we have another challenge for us as legislators.
    I sometimes think that we are so far behind that we do not even know how far behind we are. Cheney said that we do not even know what we do not know. Bill C-26 is an opportunity to bring ourselves into the game.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his speech and his series of responses. I also want to thank him for being the chair of the defence committee.
    I know this is a little outside the topic of the bill, but I had asked another colleague from the same committee two questions that have come forward during our study of cybersecurity. The first was on his thoughts and ponderings on international calls for the International Criminal Court to consider cyber warfare an act of war. The additional thought was that 90% of what the Canadian government sees as classified information could actually be declassified, and the ability to help our organizations sort through a lot of these cyber-attacks and information, when in fact we could eliminate and limit the amount we classify.
    Madam Speaker, that is two impossible questions in a row, and I congratulate the member for them.
    The first was whether cyberwarfare should be declared an act of war. To my mind, an attack is an attack. If someone is running cars off the road, or interfering with pipelines or hospitals, they are putting people's lives at risk and sometimes even killing them. That does strike me as an act of war.
    The second issue, and the member was probably there when I raised that question with one of our witnesses, was our levels of classification for information. The question I put to one of the witnesses was as follows: I have been in on some of the security briefings, and I am sitting there wondering whether I read it two weeks ago in The Globe and Mail. We seem to have a very high threshold of classifications, and maybe this could be an opportunity to reduce that threshold.
    Madam Speaker, this is an area where I appreciate the member's expertise in identifying where the actors are that attack our cybersecurity.
    Does the member think, from what he knows, that there is any level of response from the Canadian government that would not always be playing catch-up with cybercriminals who are ahead of us?

  (1615)  

    Madam Speaker, the brief answer is no. I think we will always be playing catch-up. In this case, things are moving so quickly.
    Madam Speaker, these are the words spoken yesterday by President Xi of China to Vladimir Putin as they departed company in Moscow: “Change that hasn’t happened in 100 years is coming and we are driving this change together.” Their meeting, which took place under the shadow of Russia's onslaught in Ukraine, was one that the experts stated was a meeting to build Russia's and China's alignment against the U.S. and the west, “and a world order more suited to their more autocratic agendas”.
    Before us is a very serious bill at a very serious time, and it also would work in coordination with a lot of other serious bills we have on the floor right now. Bill C-34 is on the Investment Act, which looks closely at what investments are security minded and good for Canada. Bill C-27 would enact the consumer privacy act and look at the protection of Canadians' privacy. We have stated all along that privacy for Canadians needs to be a fundamental human right. The bill on interoperability and the right to repair look at different ways in which we are dealing with our IP and technology in Canada.
    Today at the science and research committee, we continued the study of IP commercialization, ensuring we can develop technology and hold technology in Canada. We lose a significant amount of our IP to the Americans, to other nations and to foreign entities.
    We talk about the world order and what is happening in the world. Albert Einstein famously said that he was not sure what weapons would be used in World War III, but that the weapons of World War IV would be sticks and stones. The weapons being used right now are joysticks and software. We should make no mistake that, at this moment, we are already at war. We are not only talking about Ukraine. The member previous spoke about some of the attacks that are happening from a centre of cyber-attacks in Ukraine.
    Cyber-attacks are happening across the world, and they are happening right now in Canada. There has been a lot of different alarming statistics on cyber-attacks and malware attacks in Canada. We know the Canada Revenue Agency was attacked in August 2020, impacting nearly 13,000 Canadians, who were victims of that. There was also a hospital in Newfoundland in October 2020 where cybersecurity hackers stole personal information from health care employees and patients in all four health regions. That affected 2,500 people.
    Black & McDonald, a major defence and security company and contractor, was hit with ransomware just two weeks ago. That is our security being hit by the very thing it is trying to protect us from. Global Affairs Canada was attacked in January 2022 right around the time Russia engaged in the illegal invasion of Ukraine. It was reported that it may have been Russian or Russian state-sponsored actions responsible for the cyber-attack on Global Affairs.
    Most famously, there was a ransomware attack on critical infrastructure in the United States back in May 2021 where pipeline infrastructure was attacked. President Biden, who will be here tomorrow, issued at that time a state of emergency, and 17 states also issued states of emergency. It was very serious, which shows the capabilities of some of those cyber-threat actors. With ransomware, there are companies that attack companies and then demand a ransom or money before they return those computers or the networks back to the owners. It is now worth $20 billion. That is how much money ransomware is costing businesses. Back in 2016, it was only $5 billion.
    The technology is rapidly advancing, and it is a war. It is a war that is affecting Canadians at this very moment, and it is something we have to be very serious and realistic about looking at what cybersecurity is, what it means and what we have to do as Canadians and as a Canadian government to combat attacks.
    We know that the bill is something we support. We, of course, support the bill. Cybersecurity is very important, and as the member noted earlier, we have to make it right. We do not have time for a flawed bill or to race something through. Because of the advancements and because of the need to be very serious and realistic about cybersecurity, let us make sure we get the bill to committee and make sure then that we look at certain amendments that would get it right.
    The question at this very moment is whether the government is taking this seriously enough. Despite a ban on Huawei announced by the government in May 2022, this week it was ascertained by the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, as we were talking about IP commercialization in the science and research committee, that UBC is still working with Huawei after May 2022.

  (1620)  

    The minister assured us that Huawei was banned, that Huawei was done. Of course, there were reports months ago of a crackdown on IP being stolen and shared from Canadian universities. It has already been projected that 2023 will be the worst year for ransomware, for cybersecurity and, of course, for IP leaving Canada.
    We have to take this seriously, and I know that members across the way have talked about it. Of course, this bill does that, but we need to be serious. We need to talk about cybersecurity, which means being realistic and bold in how we counter, and how we aid the west in winning, the war over cybersecurity.
    There are amendments to the bill that we would like to see. Number one is to ensure that we protect and safeguard our national security and infrastructure. I know a member talked earlier about the different silos that exist. Probably the most important function is to ensure that silos in the government dealing with cybersecurity are talking to one another. The Americans deal with their cybersecurity concerns through the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Defense. They all work alongside each other to enhance the cybersecurity establishment that was developed in 2018.
    Similarly, Canada has the Communications Security Establishment, part of which is the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, but as a member noted previously, is it talking to NSICOP and CSE? Are we making sure we are talking to the different departments? We know that the government is pretty large and unwieldy. We have to make sure that these departments are working together.
    We also have to make sure we are looking after our businesses, as 40% of Canadian SMEs do not have any cybersecurity protection. It is going to be very costly for those businesses to implement that. As a business owner, I know the single biggest cost when it comes to cybersecurity is actually insurance. Insurance premiums just for cybersecurity attacks are going up and up. Every year they have increased by 20% to 30%. Of course, that is aligned with the $20 billion we are seeing from malware and ransomware across the world and the increase in cyber-attacks.
    We have to make sure that we help our businesses, so perhaps we need to look at tax credits. One thing we can do is ensure that we share best practices and that businesses get support from the federal government to enhance their cybersecurity.
    Another concern we have is how much power the minister will get, as the minister is supposed to get all the power. We have seen this with other bills. We have seen this in bills on the right to repair and interoperability. We have seen it in Bill C-27. Perhaps it is better to look at an ombudsman. We have talked about the Governor in Council and orders in council, but we want to hear from the security experts at committee to ascertain who exactly should be making these decisions instead of bringing them back to one minister. This bill right now could fit under the INDU committee and the industry minister, but it is going to the public safety committee, so already we have two different departments managing this bill. Why does one minister have to handle it? Why can it not be a broader process to ensure that we are seeing some congruence?
    Privacy is something we talked about quite a bit. We will be debating Bill C-27 in the House tomorrow, and I certainly feel that privacy needs to be a fundamental human right. Part of this bill has different groups and organizations concerned about how we are protecting Canadians' right to privacy. When they lose their privacy, who is responsible for that? There will be a lot of different witnesses coming to committee. When we look at cybersecurity, we have to ensure we are protecting Canadians' fundamental right to privacy and ensure we are doing all we can so that if their privacy is breached, Canadians can find some relief.
    We have talked about Bill C-27 and a tribunal, and maybe giving more powers to the Privacy Commissioner, who should have more power to look at whether we should go after criminals or organizations for breaches. We also have to look at the law and at what we are doing to go after criminals who are engaging in cyberwarfare and who continue to be a threat to Canadians.
    Russia and China are very concerning right now, and there are a lot of different reasons for that. Russia is growing increasingly reliant on China as both an import market and an exporter of electronics. Both leaders are building a closer energy partnership on oil, gas, coal, electricity and nuclear energy. They are going to build the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline through the territory of Mongolia. This is important because Taiwan is coming up—

  (1625)  

    I am sorry, but the hon. member's time is up. I am sure he will be able to add more during questions and comments.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood
    Madam Speaker, I pretty well agree with everything the member said. However, what I am concerned about is that partisanship is a debilitating exercise around here and this is serious business.
    Does the member have any thoughts as to how to inoculate this bill, in particular, from the partisanship that may inevitably follow it? Then we can deal with this as serious legislators and serve all of our public.
    Madam Speaker, as I have heard, members from across this side of the House are in agreement with the bill and think that cybersecurity is needed. I think the difference is that on our side, we just want to make sure that we slow down a bit, get the bill right and are realistic and bold about what the Canadian government needs to do to ensure we tackle cybersecurity.
    I think we can come together at committee. I have heard from many Conservative speakers, and we all agree that we should bring the bill to committee. However, let us bring in the best witnesses to ensure we get it right so that in the end we are leading the world, not catching up.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, like all members of the House, I believe, experts are concerned about Chinese equipment in our critical infrastructure, especially telecommunications infrastructure.
    Should the Liberal government not be very concerned about the presence of Liberal MPs in its own ranks who are a threat to national security in their own way?

[English]

    Madam Speaker, absolutely. We are seriously concerned in an ever-evolving world about national security, cybersecurity, infrastructure and investment security, protecting Canadian interests in IP and making sure we have fair, open and honest inquiries. If there are breaches and interference in our democracy, they should be tackled openly and honestly. We are certainly asking for that every day, and when it comes to the bill before us, it is no different.
     We are at war with joysticks and software that threaten our infrastructure and the very livelihoods of Canadians and Canadian businesses. Let us get this right. Let us work together openly and honestly and make sure that we pass a good bill that protects Canadians.
    Uqaqtittiji, I am glad the member mentioned the same concerns that we in the NDP have about the overly broad powers being proposed for the minister. Could he share with us whether he thinks some options, which the NDP might propose, to fix some of those concerns could possibly include parliamentary oversight, some kind of review mechanism and an independent review body as a fix to the overly broad powers being proposed for the minister.
    Madam Speaker, yes, there has to be a lot of different options, and not just in this bill. There are a lot of bills that suggest to give broad powers to one minister, which makes no sense. I do not know how the minister has time to deal with that.
    Certainly we are open to a lot of suggestions and some suggestions sound good, like an ombudsman. There have been suggestions of tribunals to make sure we have broad bodies that can oversee this so we do not just give power to one minister. One hundred per cent we support that.

  (1630)  

    Madam Speaker, the member talked a bit about silos and the inability for governments to sometimes work in them. I know he has a great background in innovation and business. Maybe he could expand a bit more on the importance of collaboration with respect to cybersecurity and in business in general.
    Madam Speaker, collaboration from government agencies is key, but those who are really going to solve this, which is the same in the U.S., are Canadian businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs who can develop software and technology for cybersecurity that can be world-leading, help Canada, help Canadians and help the world in combatting this awful thing.

[Translation]

    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay, Climate Change; the hon. member for Victoria, Climate Change; the hon. member for Spadina—Fort York, Democratic Institutions.

Points of Order

Alleged Unparliamentary Language  

[Points of Order]
    Madam Speaker, unless I misunderstood, the Bloc Québécois member whose riding escapes me suggested in his question that there are government MPs who may pose a threat to national security.
    That is a bit of a stretch from the allegations that have been made. It is unacceptable to suggest that members may pose a threat to national security. I would ask the member to either clarify his comments or apologize.
    If I misunderstood, then I apologize, but that is indeed what the member said in his question during the previous debate.
    I am sorry, but I did not hear the member's specific remarks. We will check the Hansard and come back with a response if required.

[English]

Telecommunications Act

[Government Orders]
    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act respecting cyber security, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Madam Speaker, let me start off with the point you were just talking about, because in the 21st century, cybersecurity is national security. It behooves us all as parliamentarians to work as hard as we can to protect our businesses, consumers and institutions from cyber-threats. That is why I am so grateful and delighted to be here today in the House to speak to the second reading debate of Bill C-26, which concerns the important topic of cybersecurity.
    Cybersecurity is a matter of great concern to my constituents of all ages. I firmly believe both the public and private sectors need to be able to protect themselves against malicious cyber-activity, including cyber-attacks. As parliamentarians, it is our duty to establish a framework for secure critical infrastructure that we can all rely on.
    The past few decades have seen remarkable advancements in computer and Internet technology. Online connectivity has become an integral part of the lives of Canadians and people around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how we rely on so much on the Internet for everything we do, from education to conducting business and staying in touch with loved ones. With more and more people depending on the Internet, including young children and seniors, our most vulnerable, it is crucial to ensure that we have a secure and reliable cyber-connectivity.
    Our government is committed to improving cybersecurity to safeguard our country's future in cyberspace. However, as technology and cyber systems continue to evolve, our infrastructure is becoming more interconnected and interdependent. This brings new security vulnerabilities.
    For instance, personal interactions like banking and credit card transactions are now mainly conducted online, making cybersecurity even more important. According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, ransomware attacks were among the most significant cybersecurity threats in recent years.
    Cybercriminals continue to use sophisticated tactics to gain access to critical systems, steal sensitive data and extort money from victims. In addition to ransomware attacks, other common cybersecurity threats include phishing attacks, malware, insider threats and distributed denial of service attacks. I know members have all received emails or phone calls with these types of threats. We do not know where they are coming from, but they are trying to crack our system and do criminal activity.
    As more organizations adopt cloud computing, like we do here, Internet of Things devices and artificial intelligence, these technologies are also becoming significant targets for these cybercriminals.
    Cybersecurity threats can have severe consequences for individuals, businesses, all levels of government. These include financial losses, which we have heard are in the billions, reputational damage, legal liabilities and even physical harm. We have read and heard the stories of those who have taken their lives because of these harmful attacks. It is crucial to take proactive steps to prevent and mitigate cybersecurity risks.
    Bill C-26 is a landmark legislation that would amend the Telecommunications Act and other consequential acts to enhance cybersecurity. The bill proposes to add more security as an express policy objective of the telecommunications sector, bringing it in line with other critical infrastructure sectors.
    The key objectives of the bill are twofold. First, in part 1, the bill proposes to amend the Telecommunications Act to add security expressly as a policy objective. This amendment aims to align the telecommunications sector with other critical infrastructure sectors.
    The changes we are bringing about through this legislation would authorize the Governor in Council and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, after consultation with stakeholders, to establish and implement the policy statement “Securing Canada's Telecommunications System”, which the minister announced in May of 2022. The primary objective is to prevent the use of products and services by high-risk suppliers and their affiliates. This would enable the Canadian government, when necessary, to restrict telecommunications service providers' utilization of products or services from high-risk suppliers.

  (1635)  

    With such restrictions, consumers would not be exposed to potential security risks. This approach would allow the government to take security measures similar to those of other federal regulators in their respective critical infrastructure sectors.
    The second part of Bill C-26 pertains to the introduction of the critical cyber systems protection act, or CCSPA, which mandates designated operators in federally regulated sectors such as finance, telecommunications, energy and transportation to undertake specific measures to safeguard their critical cyber systems. It would include the ability to take action on other vulnerabilities, such as human error or storms causing a risk of outages to these critical services. In addition, the act would facilitate organizations' capacity to prevent and bounce back from various forms of malevolent cyber-activities like electronic espionage and ransomware. Notably, cyber-incidents that surpass a certain threshold will necessitate mandatory reporting.
     Both parts 1 and 2 of Bill C-26 are required to ensure the cybersecurity of Canada's federally regulated critical infrastructure, and in turn, protect Canadians and Canadian businesses. The need to intensify our efforts is apparent because of the advent of new technologies we are hearing about like 5G.
    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted our growing dependence on technology. In addition, in my riding of Mississauga East—Cooksville, there is a growing concern about Russia's unwarranted and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in international tensions and a range of potential threats. Such threats include supply chain disruptions and cyber-attacks from state and non-state actors.
    We are not starting from scratch in our fight against this threat, though. Our government is always vigilant when it comes to any type of threat, including cyber-threats. Our government has made several investments in cybersecurity in recent years to improve the country's cyber-resilience and protect Canadians' data and privacy. For example, in 2018, we created the national cybersecurity strategy. This was based on the consultations that we initiated with Canadians in 2016. Our government adopted this strategy to establish a framework aimed at protecting citizens and businesses from cyber-threats while leveraging the economic benefits of digital technology.
    Cyber-incidents involve a certain threshold at which reporting would be required. This legislation would give the government a new tool to compel action, if necessary, in response to cybersecurity threats or vulnerabilities.
    Canada is working alongside other democratic nations around the globe, both in the context of our Five Eyes relationship and in the G7 alliance. These multilateral forums are intensely focused on devising strategies to counter a range of cyber-threats, such as ransomware attacks; the dissemination of false information, which we have seen too often; and attempts by malicious actors to engage in cyber-espionage.
    To facilitate this collaboration, we are emphasizing the importance of sharing information and intelligence, thereby breaking down those silos. This would enable us to more effectively combat efforts made to destabilize our economies and undermine Canadian interests. While we are currently engaged in a debate regarding Bill C-26, we are also taking proactive measures to address the current gaps in our domestic cybersecurity landscape, while simultaneously partnering with like-minded nations to confront these challenges in a comprehensive manner.
    We have listened to Canadians, our security experts and our allies, and we are following the right path. We will ensure that our networks and our economy are kept secure. A safe and secure cyberspace is important for Canadian competitiveness, economic stability and long-term prosperity.
    Bill C-26 aims to enhance designated organizations' preparedness, prevention, response and recovery abilities—

  (1640)  

    I am sorry. The hon. member's time is up.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Northumberland—Peterborough South.
    Madam Speaker, I very much enjoy working on the finance committee with the member and enjoyed his thoughtful remarks.
    I hope my question hits the other Liberals' concerns about partisanship, as this is substantive criticism and not partisanship. We have heard concerns from both the NDP and from the Conservative Party that the bill would provide a broad swath of powers to the minister. Is the government open to delineating some of those powers so it gives additional assurances to us and to the other opposition parties?
    Madam Speaker, I very much enjoy working with the hon. member on our finance committee. The member always looks for pragmatic solutions.
    For our cybersecurity to work, we have to work right across party lines. We have to work across all levels of government, with all our institutions, the private sector and the public sector. That is the only way that we are going to implement a system that really has an effect and is able to combat these cybercriminals we find and what we are being bombarded with. They are always trying to stay one step ahead, and the only way for us to combat that is to work together.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I too would like to thank the chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, with whom I have the great pleasure of working. I thank him for his speech.
    It is important to have a better way of dealing with all cybersecurity issues. Like the Conservative member who raised the issue, we have concerns that this bill gives the government a great deal of power to do this through regulations.
    I would like the assurance of the hon. committee chair that proceeding by way of regulations is not a way to circumvent Parliament.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is also great to work with this member on the finance committee. The way that we work on the finance committee is how this bill is being structured and how it would work. The bill talks about ensuring that we work across party lines. This is a non-partisan thing. As parliamentarians, we are all here to protect Canadians in the best way that we possibly can. We know, in our distinctive ridings, that we get many calls, emails and letters from concerned citizens who are being hit by these attacks.
    I can say to the member that we will do this in a non-partisan way. We will reach out to stakeholders, again, across all lines. We have too many silos. We heard the member for Scarborough—Guildwood say that we have to break down the silos. I feel that the legislation would be able to do this, and it would strengthen our cybersecurity systems.

  (1645)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to encourage all members to look at the seventh report from the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on Canada's security stance vis-à-vis Russia. A lot of that report covers why a bill like Bill C-26 is necessary.
    We can see agreement on the principle of the bill, but like my two colleagues from the Conservative Party and the Bloc, I am going to express some frustration that the Liberals did not anticipate that we in the opposition would have concerns with this first draft of the bill in terms of accountability, oversight and transparency. I wish the Liberals could have anticipated that before releasing this draft of the bill because now it looks like the committee has its work cut out for it to improve those measures. Could my hon. colleague express some comments on that particular part of this?
    Madam Speaker, that is what committee work is there for. The committee has the opportunity to dig deep into the bill and look at ways to enhance and better the legislation. That is a very important aspect.
    In the end, I believe that this bill is about bringing Canadians and our institutions together. It is about making sure that we break through those silos, as we have just heard, and being able to set up the type of cybersecurity system that we are all looking for. In no way do I see this to be a partisan piece of legislation. It is something that we wholeheartedly feel strongly about in the House and that we can make a significant difference on.
    Madam Speaker, as I rise to speak today, all of us in this place are acutely aware of the deeply concerning realities of foreign interference in Canada’s affairs.
     The Government of Canada cannot afford to ignore this troubling trend. While there are many angles from which we must consider how best to protect our national interests, as we examine the content of Bill C-26 we are focused primarily on matters related to cybersecurity. There is no question that Canada’s critical infrastructure must be protected from cyber-threats.
    In our modern world, computer systems are integral to the provision of health care, powering our homes and businesses, upholding our financial systems and so much more. While these incredible tools of our time may not be visible to the naked eye, they are tremendously powerful and we cannot afford for these systems to be compromised. The consequences from a criminal's or a foreign adversary’s disruption of medical services in our hospitals or of our electrical grid would be incredibly dangerous and potentially deadly.
    In its 2021 “Special Report on the Government of Canada’s Framework and Activities to Defend its Systems and Networks from Cyber Attack”, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians concisely listed what is at stake when cyber-threats arise: things like the personal information of Canadians; proprietary information, intellectual property and research of Canadian businesses and researchers; government policies and policy-making; security and intelligence information and operations; and the integrity of government systems, to name a few.
     I was grateful to hear the Minister of Public Safety, when introducing this bill, say that cybersecurity is national security. It is a simple statement, but it is true. If we truly recognize cybersecurity as an essential element of our national security, we are more likely to give it the attention it deserves.
    Bill C-26 is not perfect, as has been stated here, and we must ensure we protect the privacy of Canadians, nor will it be a cure-all for every cybersecurity weakness. However, I am fully behind updating our cybersecurity legislation. I hope the Liberal government is open to improving the bill at committee stage, and I will offer my support to get it to committee.
    The objective of this bill is solid: to equip government to quickly respond to cyber-threats. As any expert in the field would tell us, rapid response is critical when a serious attack is under way. However, there are key issues that remain with the bill as it is presented to us today. Make no mistake, this legislation would give the government the ability to insert itself into the operations of companies, and therefore their customers.
     As Christopher Parsons of the University of Toronto wrote in a critical analysis of the bill, “There is no recognition of privacy or other Charter-protected rights as a counter-balance to proposed security requirements, nor are appropriate accountability or transparency requirements imposed on the government.” As with any new power that a government gives itself, there must be extensive checks and balances. There must be transparency. Most of all, there must be oversight. What this legislation does not do is provide those much-needed guardrails. We need the safety oversight.
    Giving a minister the power to order a private company “to do anything, or refrain from doing anything”, particularly when it comes to the private information of its customers, is deeply problematic. While I understand that how the minister can wield this new power might be spelled out in future regulations, I believe it must be clearly outlined in the legislation, rather than leaving it up to cabinet to decide at a future date.
     We must also have a fulsome airing of what information the government could collect from companies and their customers. Almost every aspect of our lives is interwoven with digital information. From banking to how we do business and how we communicate, numerous companies have that information on each of us.

  (1650)  

    Therefore, the question that remains is this. If we grant the government access to information from companies, even for the most altruistic reasons or for national security reasons, who is overseeing those government agencies? I can assure members that the government will not be giving new powers to members of Parliament or parliamentary committees to undertake that role. We can look no further than the stonewalling Parliament is receiving on foreign interference in our democracy now. It is absolutely imperative that oversight and guardrails be built into this legislation, and I implore my colleagues on the parliamentary committee that would be tasked with this legislation to do just that.
    The fact is that the government has trouble protecting its own sensitive information from cyber-threats. Many examples of cyber-attacks against the government have already been cited during this debate. There was the attack against the Canada Revenue Agency in August 2020, which resulted in 13,000 victimized Canadians. Global