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44th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • No. 316

CONTENTS

Thursday, May 23, 2024




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

Volume 151
No. 316
1st SESSION
44th PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Speaker: The Honourable Greg Fergus

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Supplementary Estimates (A), 2024-25

    A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (A) for the financial year ending March 31, 2025, was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the supplementary estimates (A), 2024-25.

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

[Translation]

Citizenship Act

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

[English]

Committees of the House

Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 11th report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, entitled “Main Estimates 2024-25: Vote 1 under Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, Vote 1 under Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Vote 1 under Office of the Senate Ethics Officer, Votes 1 and 5 under Offices of the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Canada.”

Agriculture and Agri-Food  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, entitled “A Call to Action: How Government and Industry Can Fight Back Against Food Price Volatility.”
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    I would like to thank all those involved in helping prepare the study and the report for Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party has a supplementary report attached to this study. I believe it is disingenuous for the study not to include the direct impact that some policy from the Liberal-NDP government is having on price inflation, such as the quadrupling of the carbon tax and the P2 plastics ban, which will increase the cost of food by 54%.
    Therefore, we particularly see this impact with food. In addition, impending policies such as front-of-pack labelling will also increase the price of food. We know that 25% of young people are relying on food banks and that others are dumpster diving for their dinner.
    I think it is very important that we include every aspect and every impact of food inflation, including bad policy from the Liberal-NDP government, which is included in the dissenting report by the Conservative Party.

Fisheries and Oceans  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, in relation to a motion adopted on May 2 on the closing of the 2024 elver fishing season.
    I would like to give a huge thanks to all members, staff, the clerk, the analyst and everybody who played a part in enabling the committee to finish this report.

Petitions

Public Safety  

    Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to present a petition on behalf of constituents.
    I rise for the 37th time on behalf of the people of Swan River, Manitoba, to present a petition on the rising rate of crime. The community of Swan River is demanding their voices be heard. They are living with the crime and chaos caused by the Liberal government's soft-on-crime laws, such as Bill C-5, which allows criminals to serve their sentences from home. In fact, the Manitoba West district RCMP reported that, in 18 months, just 15 individuals racked up over 200 charges.
    The people of Swan River are calling for jail, not bail, for repeat violent offenders. They demand that the Liberal government repeal its soft-on-crime policies, which directly threaten their livelihoods and communities.
     I support the good people of Swan River.

  (1010)  

Carbon Pricing  

     Madam Speaker, I have a petition today from 114 individuals who want the House of Commons to consider the following.
    After eight years, it is clear that the Prime Minister is not worth the cost, crime or corruption. The Prime Minister and the NDP-Liberal government fail to take responsibility for their failures, which have increased the cost of everything. Crime, chaos, drugs and disorder are filling our streets because of their failed policies.
    Therefore, the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada call upon the Government of Canada to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime. They ask that it hold a televised carbon tax conference, in which they would immediately voice their non-confidence in the failed NDP-Liberal government, and to bring about a carbon tax election so that Canadians would be able to vote to end the carbon tax everywhere and for good.

Decriminalization of Drugs  

    Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada granted an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize the personal possession of illicit drugs in the province of British Columbia for three years. After one year of decriminalization, B.C. has experienced a record-breaking 2,511 unregulated drug deaths, which is higher than all other causes of death combined.
     Under this exemption, the federal government enabled B.C. to prescribe fentanyl to minors without requiring parental consent. There continues to be no evidence that decriminalization and the supply of taxpayer-funded hard drugs to those suffering with addiction is reducing overdose deaths.
     Therefore, the undersigned citizens and permanent residents of Canada call upon the federal government to reverse its exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, cease the illicit drug decriminalization and, instead, focus taxpayer funding on increasing availability of timely and effective treatment.

First Responders Tax Credit  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from my constituents from the communities of Emerson-Franklin and Springfield, as well as the towns of Niverville and Kleefeld.
    The petitioners want to highlight to the House that volunteer firefighters account for 71% of Canada's total firefighting essential first responders. In addition, approximately 8,000 essential search and rescue volunteers respond to thousands of incidents every year.
    The tax code currently allows for a tax deduction of $3,000, which enables them to get about a $450-per-year benefit. The petitioners are asking for that $3,000 amount to be increased to $10,000, which would increase the benefit they realize from their volunteer services.
    These volunteers represent a huge tax savings to our municipality, as well as providing essential first-responding services to incidents of accidents and fires. Therefore, the petitioners are asking the House to support Bill C-310.
     I just want to remind members.

[Translation]

    There are members who are presenting petitions, and there is a lot of talking going on at the other end of the House, so I would ask people to keep their voices down.
    The hon. member for London West.

[English]

Environmental Protection  

    Madam Speaker, I rise today to present petition E-4748, which was initiated by a very passionate advocate in my community, Brendon Samuels.
     The petition calls on the government to urgently take action on the need for native tree stock to fulfill Canada's tree-planting pledge by 2030 to combat climate change.
    The petition highlights the shortages, rising costs and challenges in tree supply chains that are due to various factors, including wildfires, while advocating for reforestation methods that mitigate future fires and prioritize biodiversity and indigenous-led practices.
    The petition also emphasizes the importance of wild birds in seed dispersal and the ecosystem services that are threatened by pesticides and building collisions.
     I also just want to take this opportunity to thank Brendon Samuels from London West for his hard work in making sure that many people across Canada were engaged in this petition. I am happy to put this on the floor.

  (1015)  

Fisheries and Oceans  

     Madam Speaker, it is a great honour to rise today on behalf of many constituents, with a petition directed to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and to the Parliament assembled.
     The concern of the petitioners is the very perilous state of the southern resident killer whale population. These killer whales are an endangered population under Canada's Species at Risk Act. Their legally protected critical habitat is located in an area about to be increasingly trafficked with Aframax tankers loaded with dilbit, as a result of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which, lamentably, all Canadians own.
     The underwater noise and physical disturbance from vessels will affect the ability of the southern resident killer whales to communicate with each other and to survive, feed and reproduce. They could lose more than 50% of their echolocation range when commercial shipping traffic is near.
    There is a lot more to the petition, but I will summarize to say that the petitioners want Canada to protect our whales as much as Washington state protects theirs. In Washington state, there is a mandatory vessel distance regulation. Recreational vessels and commercial whale-watch vessels must not be closer to southern resident killer whales than 1,000 metres. That should be the standard.
    The petitioners tell the House and the government that should be the standard in Canada as much as it is in Washington state.

Housing  

     Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise to present another petition on behalf of constituents who are calling out the housing crisis that we are in.
     The petitioners note that housing unaffordability and homelessness are twin national crises. They go on to note that the financialization of housing inflates Canadian real estate prices. Specifically, they call out corporations, numbered companies and real estate investment trusts that are rapidly buying up affordable housing and flipping them to market rate units.
     The petitioners call for eight actions that the Government of Canada could take to help address the housing crisis we are in. I will summarize a number of them.
     First of all, the petitioners call for redefining the formula, the definition of affordable housing. Second, they call for a creation of regulations to control excess profiteering by corporate investors and real estate investment trusts. Third, they call for a prioritization of funding to non-profits and co-operative housing.
    Those are just three of eight calls to action specifically in this petition that the petitioners call on the Government of Canada to take action on.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
     Order. There seems to be a debate in the House. People are not respecting the will and the direction of the Chair. I just want to remind members that they had an opportunity to present their petitions, and I would ask them to please respect others while they are presenting their petitions.
    I have a point of order from the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
     Madam Speaker, forgive me, but it was distressing to hear heckling. Petitions are not the voices of the members here, as a member of the House of Commons representing a riding. Presenting a petition is presenting the voices of our constituents to this place. We are neither for nor against the petitions we present. We are speaking for our constituents and, in particular, it is offensive that they should be heckled.
    Madam Speaker, I would just point out on this point of order that the Chair has made many rulings on this situation. In fact, the member opposite has taken varying positions on this ruling. Therefore, generally, we all know how to present a petition and it is the right of some members in the House, when they see those rules being broken, to bring that to your attention, which is what I believe happened in this situation.
     Based on what I had been hearing, it appeared that the hon. member was speaking to the petition, and it is very difficult for individuals to speak to whether the content is in the petition or not. Therefore, I want to remind members to please speak to what is in the petition. I will end it there.
     I have already indicated that when individuals are rising to speak to a petition, everyone should be afforded the respect of the House to hear what is being said, as opposed to trying to interrupt individuals during their petitions.

  (1020)  

Questions on the Order Paper

    Madam Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[ Business of Supply]

[Translation]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Federal Intrusions in the Exclusive Jurisdictions of Quebec and the Provinces  

    That the House:
(a) condemn the federal government’s repeated intrusion into the exclusive jurisdictions of Quebec, the provinces and the territories;
(b) remind the Prime Minister that, despite his claims, it is not true that “people do not care which level of government is responsible for what”; and
(c) demand that the government systematically offer Quebec, the provinces and territories the right to opt out unconditionally with full compensation whenever the federal government interferes in their jurisdictions.
    The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît on a point of order.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to indicate to the Chair that, pursuant to Standing Order 43(2)(a), all of the Bloc Québécois's speaking slots for today's debate on the business of supply will be divided in two.
    We will begin debate. The hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly.
    Madam Speaker, over the past few years, the Government of Canada has developed a way of doing politics that follows a clear and heavy-handed approach, including an egregious abuse of the so-called fiscal imbalance. This means that the federal government is receiving more revenue than it needs to fulfill its roles and responsibilities, whereas Quebec and the provinces are collecting and receiving less than they need to fulfill their respective roles and responsibilities.
    The government is taking that money and using its constitutional spending power to intrude into areas under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec, the provinces and the territories, as set out in the Constitution. What is emerging more and more is the government's persistent, clear and ideological push to centralize powers, in the sense of the responsibilities specific to a level of government. I certainly do not mean powers in the sense of ability or the faculty to do something. These powers are being centralized in the federal Parliament.
    When we take a close look, it is pretty clear this is a failure. It is one failure after another. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Jonquière. I could list a whole series of the federal government's failures when it comes to interference, but I could go on for days, so I will just name a few.
    I will use a recent example, namely the government's desire to intrude in the area of dental insurance. At first glance, this seems ideological. Then they decide to hand it over to the private sector, with the support of the NDP. Now it seems no one can make heads or tails of it. It is a failure in the making. It is clearly the result of their refusal, for many years, to make the health transfers that Quebec, the provinces and the territories are unanimously calling for.
    In this context, the federal government claims to be working hand in hand with Quebec and the provinces. However, no serious person with a third-grade education still thinks that this is not some kind of a never-ending conflict with the provinces.
    There are the conditions imposed by Ottawa on municipal infrastructure. There are the conditions imposed by Ottawa on social housing. There is the colossal failure of immigration: Ottawa is incapable of handling visas, there is a years-long backlog of case files, and the Minister of Immigration has lost track of hundreds of thousands of people currently on Canadian soil. There is the sub-contracting of immigration policy to a highly questionable company such as McKinsey, an ideological aberration that ultimately weakens Quebec. The federal government has failed across the board.
    There was much talk about language over the last few days. The vulgar language we have heard is essentially a panic reaction. It betrays a lack of an intelligent response, because there cannot be an intelligent response to what we have seen. We cannot invite people to appear in committee only to treat them in a way that would shame a schoolyard bully.
    However, the numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the situation of the French language, both in Quebec and across Canada. The Liberal government does not care all that much about the decline of French, but it sure cares when someone points it out. This is the same government that intends to support a Supreme Court challenge of Bill 96, which seeks to strengthen the French language in Quebec.
    I am talking about setbacks, failures and intrusions galore. I am talking about a lack of respect.
    Of course, I could talk about secularism, but I will merely say that a secular state would never conceive of imposing Islamic mortgages on a level of government such as the Quebec government, which endorses state secularism. Quebec would not hesitate to eliminate the religious exemption that allows the worst hate speech to spread under the guise of religion.
    I repeat, these are failures. In fact, the only good thing the Liberal government ever did with respect to language and secularism was convincing the Conservative Party to basically share its views, views that are extremely unpopular among Quebeckers.

  (1025)  

     The Phoenix pay service, a terrible failure, will now be replaced. This will not get us our money back. There is also the ArriveCAN failure. The repercussions, the spin‑offs, if you will, have now reached the billion‑dollar mark. This money has come out of the pockets of the Canadian state. It is one failure after another.
    Consider the tens of thousands of businesses that were abandoned after receiving assistance from government programs during the pandemic. Given the labour shortages, inflation and interest rates, those businesses faced a highly complex situation. Many of them—we will never know the exact or the real number—had to declare bankruptcy and close down because of this government's ineptitude. This is another failure.
    One failure on the international stage, which again is repeated and ongoing, relates to a lack of credibility. It is the inability to have a plan to reach the 2% investment target. It is the position on the war in Gaza and the inability to take the normal and increasingly internationally recognized step of recognizing the Palestinian state. Once again, it is a series of failures.
    Bombardier, for example, is missing out on $5 billion in spin-offs. Meanwhile, Boeing will award contracts worth $400 million with the co-operation of the governments of Quebec and Canada. I doubt whether we will ever find out the real reasons behind that whole mess. It is one failure after another.
    The government is incapable of doing its own work properly, yet it wants to do the work of others in their own areas of jurisdiction. The people have given it a mandate, but it is a minority mandate. This minority government, as I said, is a failure. Interference always takes longer, always costs more and never improves things. It is done at the cost of a series of subcontracts, whether we are talking about McKinsey, ArriveCAN or others of the kind. It is done at the cost of 109,000 more civil servants. That is on top of the subcontracts and the increasing duplications in Quebec and provincial jurisdictions. There is also the $40-billion deficit, which is no small matter.
     To govern as a majority, purely for the sake of power, the government joined forces with the NDP. Rather than receiving its mandate from the people, the government receives its mandate from the NDP. It is a fool's bargain. If the NDP does not act soon, it will bring about its own demise. The government has two choices then. It can hold off on its aggressive centralization agenda, its abuse of the fiscal imbalance and abuse of spending power until the end of its mandate, which would normally run until late 2025, or it can call an election now to try to obtain that type of mandate, which I strongly doubt that Quebec will consider. It has no right to dupe Canadians or the parties in the House. As I said before, if the Prime Minister is so interested in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces, he can go off and pursue a career in provincial politics, preferably in Ontario.
    At the very least, however, what the government must do is acknowledge in every one of its actions the right to opt out with full compensation, with no conditions for Quebec and the provinces. At least its centralizing ideology could then be properly circumvented in a way that respects the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. The main goal—and this is the spirit of this motion—is for the Canadian government to put an end to its increasingly numerous and increasingly crude and misguided abuses that fail to respect the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. If the government does not do so, since it will have fun raising the issue in the next election, it will see how useful the Bloc Québécois really is.

  (1030)  

[English]

     Madam Speaker, I would like to think that members of Parliament would put the people they represent first and foremost with respect to their interests. Whether it is the dental program, or the school food program that is providing nutrition to children or the national child care program, these are all programs that the Government of Canada, working with stakeholders and other levels of government, has moved forward with and that are being received well in all regions of the country.
     Does the member not believe that the Government of Canada should be reflecting on the expectations of people in all regions of the country, which include the types of investments we are making today?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, in a way, the answer is in the question.
    I would like Quebeckers to hear someone stand up in Parliament and tell them, in English, to look at what the rest of Canada is doing better than they are, and to tell them that they are so bad that the federal government needs to develop programs that will be imposed on them with their own money. I think it is completely ridiculous to say that a Canadian is intrinsically superior to a Quebecker.
    If good ideas are implemented in one place, they can be implemented in other places. Take, for example, child care services, whose model originated in Quebec, or pharmacare, whose model originated in Quebec. If the Canadian government feels entitled to copy what Quebec is doing right, I hope it will at least acknowledge that this is because Quebec is capable of doing it.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Beloeil—Chambly, the leader of the Bloc Québécois.
    There are many things that divide us. There is no denying that, to be sure. However, there are some things that unite us. I think the hon. member will acknowledge that we, Conservatives, respect jurisdictions. That is a cornerstone of our political action. In fact, when we were in power, our government minded its own business, dealing with federal matters and letting the provinces make their own decisions. The result spoke for itself: The sovereigntist option lost support in the polls.
    Conversely, as the leader of the Bloc Québécois demonstrated, what we have seen for the past nine years is a federal government that does not take care of its own business properly. Not only does it not look after its own affairs properly, but it also interferes in provincial jurisdictions. What are we seeing as a result? The independence movement is on the rise in Quebec. While that may be music to the ears of the leader of the Bloc Québécois, it is not necessarily a good thing. Two weeks ago in the National Assembly, the leader of the Parti Québécois cited the Liberal government's mismanagement of Canadian funds to justify independence.
    My question is very simple: Why, then, did the Bloc Québécois vote for $500 billion in budgetary appropriations?

  (1035)  

    Madam Speaker, this is a wonderful opportunity. However, there are a number of factors.
    First, I acknowledge the Conservatives' new position of wanting to give unconditional health transfers, or transfers of any kind, to Quebec and the provinces.
    I have a second piece of good news. We will hold the debate on independence. Indeed, the tide is turning, we are coming up on the third referendum and we will win it. There will be room for everyone in Quebec to continue in politics, including the members of Parliament.
    There is a third thing. Let us get something straight in this slogan‑driven demagoguery. The Bloc Québécois has voted against every Liberal budget and every Liberal economic update. That said, the failure to vote in favour of appropriations in a number of cases amounts to replicating, as the Conservatives know all too well, the American model of government paralysis designed to prevent the state from functioning. The departments in question would be unable to issue paycheques. This is the simple explanation. We voted against the budgets and the updates, but the Conservatives can go ahead and keep repeating in French that the Bloc Québécois did this and in English that the NDP did something else.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the leader of the Bloc Québécois for his speech and his motion on things that matter to us as New Democrats, such as public services and health services, or pharmacare, which will require negotiation with the provinces, since the Quebec system is not perfect. All the unions in Quebec have unanimously called for public universal pharmacare. We could take a step forward together by engaging in discussions.
    With respect to dental care, there is no interference, because the federal government does not tell Quebec how to manage its health care system; it pays dentists' bills directly. This will benefit four million Quebeckers who do not have dental insurance. Thousands of seniors have already received this care. It would be a shame if the Bloc Québécois opposed care for Quebec's seniors.
    Madam Speaker, I think it is wonderful to see the NDP recommending and hoping that the Canadian government will outsource public programs to the private sector, which will make a profit from the public program.
    I will repeat the fundamental principle to the unions, the NDP and the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie: There is nothing that a Canadian can do that a Quebecker cannot do, except perhaps extracting oil. Therefore, I invite everyone to commit to improving services in Quebec. We must invest in services in Quebec. The government does not need to negotiate with Quebec. It is supposed to transfer money unconditionally. That is what is missing.
    Madam Speaker, what an inspiring speech. It is a tough act to follow. To illustrate just how much the federal government has interfered in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces, I want to revisit what happened this week during question period.
    This week, I asked the Minister of Transport a question, and I was basically saying that Quebeckers want to be masters in their own house, whereas the feds want to be masters everywhere. We see that with pharmacare, dental insurance and all kinds of jurisdictional encroachments.
    In response, the Minister of Transport said that the Bloc Québécois was looking for a fight. He is always saying that. Not only does he say that, but he also says that the Bloc members used to be here for their passion and that today they are here for their pension. Such rhetoric is tired and stupid. I do not think the Bloc members are the only ones getting a pension. Reducing us to that is very rude.
    I bring it up because I was initially going to use my speech to respond to the Minister of Transport. However, I think doing so would be mean-spirited and show that I was stooping to his level. I prefer to show the Minister of Transport what we are passionate about in this place: defending the interests of Quebec.
    If we are to discuss jurisdictional interference, we must review the definition of what Canadian federalism is. We need to distinguish between two things. On the one hand, there is a unitary state, which holds all the powers. Anyone who has taken politics 101 knows this. On the other hand, there is federalism, which assumes the autonomy of the central government, meaning the federal government, but above all the autonomy of the federated states, in this case the provinces and Quebec. Any student who has taken law or political science knows that this means that, within their own jurisdictions, the provinces are autonomous. In consequence, in the Canadian context, this means that the Quebec state is autonomous.
    It is obvious to my party that Quebec is capable of making its own decisions and implementing its own economic, social and cultural approaches to ensure that it continues to survive and thrive. Even Quebec federalists recognize this fact. That is why the vast majority of politicians in the National Assembly identify as autonomists, if not sovereigntists. That is the reality of Quebec politics. The Parti Québécois, the Coalition Avenir Québec and Québec Solidaire are all parties that want the Quebec nation to have more powers in order to secure its future. I do not mean to offend, but even the Liberal Party of Quebec supports the idea of more powers for Quebec, albeit in a different, somewhat half-hearted way. The evidence is clear. Many of the Quebec National Assembly's motions are supported by the Bloc Québécois. Every time the federal government tries to intrude on Quebec's jurisdictions, a motion is unanimously adopted by the National Assembly.
    We could make this case just by looking at Quebec's history. There is no denying that every Quebec government has been determined to defend its autonomy. From Duplessis to Bourassa and even Legault, as well as Marois, Parizeau and Lévesque, successive Quebec governments have all sought to expand Quebec's powers. We saw this in rounds of constitutional negotiations, which were carried out to our detriment. We have also seen this in administrative agreements. Quebec is the only province with immigration powers. Quebec is the only province with specific agreements on workforce training.
    Quebec society as a whole agrees on the need to defend Quebec's autonomy. Perhaps it was Benoît Pelletier who said it best. Let me quote him briefly:
... the history and current state of our federalism eloquently illustrate Quebec's profound attachment to its autonomy within the federal system. This is easily explained. The minority status of the Quebec people within Canada as a whole confers special value on Quebec's sphere of autonomy arising from the division of powers.
    Benoît Pelletier is a federalist. However, he is a bit more informed than some others. He acknowledges that autonomy is a matter of survival for a minority nation. Quebec is a minority nation within Canada. Defending its autonomy is a matter of survival. This explains why other provinces easily accept the federal government's interference in their jurisdictions.

  (1040)  

    This brings me to a question that I think is central. I have been asking myself this question since I arrived in the House in 2019. Why are the Bloc Québécois members the only ones speaking out against the predatory federalism—I am choosing my words carefully—that is weakening the Quebec nation? Why do my Quebec colleagues in the Conservative Party and my Quebec colleagues in the Liberal Party and the NDP never condemn this system?
    The answer is quite simple. It is because predatory federalism suits them. It is because, in a way, they live off it, politically speaking. What the Liberal Party and the NDP are trying to do now is use this predatory federalism to climb out of the basement of unpopularity. That is what they did with pharmacare and dental care. They are trying to use social issues that are outside the federal government's jurisdiction to escape their current state of unpopularity.
    The strength of the federalists is primarily the same strength that any predator relies on. As we know, a predator is someone who survives at another's expense, who uses their power to take advantage of another's weakness. The strength of federalists lies in the tools they have at their disposal to bring the people of Quebec to their knees. When I say “tools”, I am referring, of course, to the spending power that creates the fiscal imbalance. It is this pernicious system that allows them to bring the people of Quebec to their knees. Jean Chrétien, in all his splendour, once had an epiphany. He realized that he could cut transfer payments without paying a political price. That is where the fiscal imbalance comes from.
    I would point out that this predatory federalism also suits the Conservatives. Although they claim to be more respectful of Quebec's autonomy, we heard what the Conservative leader has said in recent months. He was looking to establish some sort of electoral dominance at Quebec's expense. When he publicly and shamelessly says that he is going to challenge Bill 21 and Bill 96, he is serving the interests of the English-speaking majority in the rest of Quebec and trying to score election points for his own rather simple purposes. He is trying to appeal to ethnocultural communities in the greater Toronto area. That way, he can say to Quebec that its autonomy is very low on its list of concerns.
    The Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP respect Quebec's jurisdictions as long as it does not cause problems for them. If we take a closer look, we see that the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party and the NDP are parties that assume that the federal state is above Quebec, that North America's only francophone nation should fall in line like the others and that Quebeckers should behave like Canadians, like everyone else. That is as typical of the Conservative Party, as it is of the NDP and the Liberal Party.
    I will close with this. Members may recall the Prime Minister's unfortunate comment that people “do not care” about jurisdictional bickering. They may also recall the unfortunate statement made by the leader of the Conservative Party, who said that Quebec mayors are “incompetent” and that he would manage housing production. I would say this ultimately shows that federalists could not care less about what Canadian federalism is. If that is the case, it opens the door wide to our sovereignty goals.
    I would say that what Quebeckers really do not care about are the federal government's excuses when it comes to immigration. They want immigration thresholds that are proportionate to our integration capacity, they want a system that meets the expectations of those who use it, and they want the federal government to reimburse Quebec for the services we have rendered. People do not care about the computer issues with Phoenix; they just want to be paid. People do not care about the issues with employment insurance; they want their benefits. Seniors do not care about the symbols of the monarchy; they want their pension to increase. Quebeckers do not care about the products of big oil, the those greedy oil companies that took $34 billion from us for a pipeline and will take $83 billion from us by 2035; they want a health care system that meets their needs and that is not underfunded.

  (1045)  

    Lastly, I think that a significant portion of the population of Quebec does not care about federalism.
    Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague from Joliette.
    I respect all members here in the House, who ultimately represent their constituents. However, I have a jurisdictional question. We respect jurisdictions because we have a government-to-government approach. In a way, I am going to echo the words of Premier Legault, who asked what purpose the Bloc Québécois serves in Ottawa. Our governments discuss issues between the government in Ottawa and the Quebec government. We do not discuss them with the Bloc Québécois.
    Madam Speaker, I could repeat the rather harsh words that Mr. Legault used to describe the Liberal government, but I will not pull an egregious stunt like that on my colleague. She can easily find out what he said in the media.
    The Government of Quebec has been very critical of the implementation of pharmacare. The Government of Quebec was very critical of the implementation of dental care. It is not just Premier Legault, but all members of the National Assembly, who passed a motion telling the Liberal government that it was acting outside its jurisdiction. If that does not ring a bell for my colleague, I do not know how to make her come to her senses.

  (1050)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the provincial government recently had to take the federal Liberals to court over their inappropriate incursions into my province's jurisdictional right to develop its natural resources. The Supreme Court of Canada subsequently ruled against the federal Liberals and in favour of arguments from the provinces about how major resource projects should be approved in the country. The Liberals persist in violating provincial rights in this area.
    Quebec has many natural resource projects that could be impacted by the Liberal government's inappropriate incursions into this jurisdiction, including its critical minerals strategy. Does the member believe that the principles in his party's motion today also apply to respecting the province's jurisdictional right to determine how it develops its natural resources?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague. In fact, the Bloc Québécois has already introduced a bill to indicate that the provinces and Quebec should be responsible for any environmental assessments that deal with natural resource development.
    However, there is something else that I would like to point out. I would go even farther than what my colleague is saying. I do not think it is right that Quebeckers, through their taxes, are being forced to finance a $34-billion pipeline that will do them absolutely no good. I do not think it is right that Quebeckers, through their taxes, are being forced to give $84 billion between now and 2035 to big oil, to multi-million dollar companies, when they do us absolutely no good. I would go even farther and say that I would allocate the money based on the natural resource development projects of each province and the Quebec nation.
    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois always says it is in favour of what is good for Quebec. Sometimes, it would be nice if it also looked at what is good for Quebeckers, for ordinary people who do not have dental insurance.
     The NDP campaigned on a promise to come to Ottawa and secure this for people, and we did it. We are keeping our promises for the four million Quebeckers who have neither private nor public dental coverage. We have secured $13 billion over five years.
     That is about $4 billion for Quebec that will be directly invested to help Quebeckers who could not afford dental care save money. Quebec has no program for seniors. Quebec has no program for teenagers. We are going to directly help people in need.
    I was in my riding last week, and people were coming up to me and saying, “Thank you, Mr. Boulerice, for your work in Ottawa.”
    Madam Speaker, I—
    Some hon. members: He is not allowed to say his name.
    Members may say their own name. They may not say the names of other members.
    The hon. member for Jonquière.
    Madam Speaker, I would just like to point out to my colleague that what Quebeckers want is a health care system worthy of the name. The federal government is creating new programs after chronically underfunding the health care system. In a few years' time, it will slowly withdraw and put pressure on Quebec.
    The dental insurance and pharmacare measures exist on paper only. The Government of Quebec candidly admits that it has no idea when they will materialize, because Ottawa did not consult with Quebec City. The only reason that pharmacare and dental insurance were introduced was to raise the Liberal Party and the NDP out of the polling basement. That is all.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Châteauguay—Lacolle. I am pleased and grateful to have a chance to speak today, and I would like to take this opportunity to talk about our government's commitment to Quebec.
     I am a proud MP from Quebec who represents a predominantly francophone rural region. I am an ardent defender of the French language, and I would like to point out that our collaboration with Quebec is very good. Since 2015, I have also been collaborating very well with the MNAs in my riding.
     I am speaking today to point out that our government has always been there to support Quebec and that we certainly intend to keep helping all Quebeckers. The Bloc may not like that, because it is happier when there is bickering, but our record proves that we are able to work with the Quebec government and reach our goals for Quebec. Indeed, Quebec is an ally.
     In the past, our government has agreed on many things with Quebec, such as the creation of day care spots, accelerated housing construction, health, infrastructure and operation high speed. During the COVID-19 crisis, members will recall that the federal government worked hand in hand with Quebec and provided most of the equipment and tools needed to keep the public healthy. We were there with the army and we took care of our senior centres. We collaborated fully with Quebec. That is the proof that Canada and Quebec work well together.
     Our government is there for Quebec and with Quebec. In 2024-25 alone, more than $30 billion will be transferred to Quebec through federal transfers to help the Quebec government provide services to the public. These funds include additional amounts under the new health accord we signed with Quebec. This accord is for $8.56 billion. That is significant. These additional amounts will be distributed over 10 years to improve health care in Quebec. Just yesterday, a health care crisis was declared in the national capital region, in Outaouais, my region. Doctors, professionals and therapists of all kinds have left the region to go to Ontario. The situation in the Outaouais region is dire. That is why the Government of Canada is there to support the Government of Quebec.
     In particular, this extra funding will help improve access to front-line clinics and make it easier to book appointments through the Votre Santé health care platform. This new funding will also improve care for patients with rare or chronic conditions. Take diabetic Quebeckers, for example. My daughter is one of them, because she has type 1 diabetes. This is a great example of how our plan is working thanks to our collaboration with Quebec.
     I am also delighted that our colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, was in Montreal earlier this week to announce a major Boeing investment in Quebec's new aerospace innovation zone. On everything from the battery industry to innovation, aerospace and research, we are working with Quebec. Whether the Bloc likes it or not, we will continue to work with Quebec.
     This major $240‑million investment is part of Boeing's industrial and technological benefits commitment. All of Quebec will benefit from this. Every Quebec riding will benefit from this investment, which is good news for our aerospace sector, not to mention all those in the aerospace supply chain. Our whole supply chain will benefit.
     Another important example of collaboration is Canada-Quebec operation high speed. I am incredibly proud of this. It was one of the first files I worked on when I entered politics. Connectivity was a topic of discussion at all the first meetings I attended.

  (1055)  

     That is what we heard about in my riding in 2015. Canada-Quebec operation high speed got everything moving. The Bloc Québécois has a short memory. They complained that we were not doing enough, not working fast enough, and that we were overlooking the regions. Anytime there was a snag along the way, it was the federal government's fault. However, it should be remembered that we signed an agreement with the Quebec government in 2021. Because of that agreement, over 250,000 Quebec households now have Internet access at home. There was an urgent need at the time in my riding, in Bloc Québécois ridings and all across Quebec, so we collaborated with Quebec to improve connectivity in the province.
     As I was saying, our plan is working. Not all the news is bad. We have a lot of good news.
     I am delighted to see that our government has proposed a Canada-wide early learning and child care system largely inspired by Quebec's. Yes, Quebec is a role model. I am proud of Quebec's models. We are taking these models that work and implementing them across Canada, all while improving the ones in Quebec. Obviously, Quebec benefits as well. As part of a $6‑billion agreement, Quebec has committed to creating 30,000 new child care spaces by March 2026. Since the Grand Chantier pour les Familles initiative was launched in October 2021, 20,500 additional subsidized spaces have been created. Our collaboration is working beautifully. Our child care system will help families a lot, but it does not end there.
     Affordable child care services have also helped increase women's participation in the workforce. Once again, everything we do has a domino effect. We enabled women to return to work or enter the labour force for the first time. The labour force participation rate for women in their prime working years is at a record high. In September 2023, it was 85.7% in Canada, compared with only 74.4% in the United States. Think about the importance we place on women when we make it possible for them to return to work. This system also benefits the economy. When everyone is employed, the economy does well.
     Our government's priority is to help Canadians. That is what we are doing by investing in health care, dental care, child care and housing. It is in that same spirit of helping Canadians that we are making other investments to make life in Canada more affordable.
     We believe that our government should work in partnership, and we sincerely hope to be a partner for the Quebec government. When the provinces need to be encouraged to do just a bit more, our government will be there to encourage them and offer them more money so they can do it.
     It is precisely in this spirit that we signed a $1.8‑billion agreement with Quebec last fall to accelerate housing construction. This is in addition to our other investments as part of the national housing strategy. The Quebec government and the Government of Canada are each investing $900 million in this housing partnership. Our government has a long history of co-operation with Quebec when it comes to housing. This is the type of agreement we need in order to build more homes faster for future generations. This is exactly the type of win-win agreement that benefits Quebec and Quebeckers. Obviously, when we co-operate, the people are the ones who benefit.
    The reality is that many Canadians need support to succeed. Our government wants to help wherever possible. We have been putting programs in place since 2015 to support the middle class and make things fairer for all generations, from coast to coast to coast. The Canada child benefit and the Canadian dental care plan are just two examples.
    Budget 2024 continues to support the priorities of both Canadians and Quebeckers through major investments in housing.

  (1100)  

    Housing is one of the key priorities in this budget. We are going to work with the provinces and territories to build more housing more quickly. As set out in last fall's agreement, we are going to accelerate housing construction in collaboration with the provinces and territories, whether the Bloc Québécois likes it or not.
    Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my colleague opposite. On the subject of aerospace and this week's announcement, I think he is missing a few small details.
    First, there were two announcements in one. The good thing is that we have an innovation zone, and that is Quebec City's doing. Ottawa has nothing to do with it.
    The other announcement made at the same time, which is no doubt confusing, was a Boeing announcement that the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry took part in. All he said in this announcement was that they were working on the plane of the future. He said it earlier this week. However, I would remind the House that this plane of the future was built without a bidding process, excluding a Quebec giant in favour of a U.S. company announced late last fall. Things could have been done differently. The minister is rehashing old news when he says he is going to have a trickle-down policy, because he already announced that to sugar-coat the issue last fall.
    I have a very simple question for my colleague. Just this week, in the so-called announcement made by Ottawa, exactly how much money will be invested in Boeing for that research?

  (1105)  

    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to answer this question. Whether the Bloc Québécois likes it or not, investments in Quebec's aerospace sector are good news. All the grocery CEOs and business leaders I have spoken with who are setting up shop in Quebec ridings, whether in Mirabel, Laurentides—Labelle or my colleague's riding, will benefit from significant economic spinoffs. Every business, every industry linked to Boeing, even the smallest local restaurant, will benefit.
    Madam Speaker, the measures in the Liberals' many announcements constitute interference in provincial jurisdictions. They are adding way more bureaucracy. We can expect a $40-billion deficit this year. This is costing Canadian taxpayers a lot of money.
    Does the Liberal member not understand that the Liberal government's actions are having a serious impact on Canada and on Canadians and their basic quality of life?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for making the notable effort of asking his question in French.
    When we talk about the global economy, we are talking about having been through a pandemic, about war, about a difficult economy in terms of food, about many side effects, and about interest rates that have gone up.
    The current government was there to help people during the pandemic. It is there for the middle class, for everyone in every riding. We helped hundreds of businesses and individuals get through the pandemic. We made the choice to invest in people and businesses to save the economy of the future for generations to come.
    Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about the importance of fighting the rising cost of living. It is true that it is difficult for many of the people we represent.
    The new dental care program will save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for many people. Half of the population in Quebec has neither private nor public dental insurance. I am glad that the Liberal minority government has finally listened to the NDP. We twisted their arm a bit to agree to the dental care program, and the Liberals ended up saying yes. Now, it is real: we are starting to set up this program.
    Can my colleague tell me how this program will help seniors and teenagers in his riding?
    Madam Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague that this program was introduced by the Liberal government.
    Today, over two million people are already enrolled in this program; it is already making a difference in my riding. Over 9,500 oral care providers and specialists are already registered, with more to come this week and next. The program is working, and it is working well for the entire population of Quebec and Canada.
    Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand today to discuss the motion by the member for Jonquière and Bloc Québécois critic for intergovernmental affairs, natural resources and energy.
     I would like to address the issue of federal and provincial jurisdictions. I studied at the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi in 1978, 1979 and 1980, years that were eventful in Quebec's history. The experience was very enriching. We learned a great deal about the history, development and evolution of Canada, and especially about Confederation. We had very interesting discussions in the classrooms.
     What really struck me were the partnerships formed over the years. We can begin with the Patriotes who started a rebellion in Lower Canada in 1837 and 1838, and whom we have just celebrated in Quebec. This significant rebellion had very harmful consequences for those who took part in it, especially for the 58 Patriotes from Quebec who were exiled in Australia, but their words and their actions influenced the events around them.
     There was also another rebellion in Upper Canada, less significant, but those events set off a discussion on the importance of having a responsible government, that is a government representative of citizens, especially for a rapidly developing society.
     A few decades later Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert Baldwin formed a partnership to remove those in power and demand the establishment of a government accountable to the British Empire. At one point, Mr. LaFontaine's family even took care of Mr. Baldwin's children in Quebec, and one of Mr. Baldwin's children became a sister in the Ursuline convent, which is very touching.
     Clearly I like history a lot, but it is important to recognize that our country's history is the history of people, real people, who felt it was more important to work together than to separate. We need not look any further than the famous partnership between John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier, who signed an agreement, with all the other Fathers of Confederation, which recognized the powers of the provinces while placing them under the umbrella of the federal government. This agreement stressed both the importance of respecting these powers along with having a responsible local government when it comes to business, social services, education, health care, etc.
     Because there were wars during those years, either with our neighbours in the United States or with countries in Europe, it was important for the federal government to have the power to defend the country and maintain order in society to ensure everyone's safety.

  (1110)  

    I know I am going a long way back in history, but I want to bring us up to the present day and explain why the Canadian Constitution is not just an asset, but a guarantee of our democracy, our freedom and our rights for everyone who lives in Canada, regardless of which province they are in. The Canadian Constitution guarantees all Canadians the same rights and freedoms.
    That said, I should talk about what is happening today to show how this wonderful collaboration between the federal government and the Government of Quebec is continuing.
    My colleague gave the example of child care. This is a great example of how Quebec was a pioneer. I benefited from it when my daughter was in day care 35 years ago. I now have a grandchild, and a few years ago, when my daughter and her husband were living in New York, they were worried about how they were going to pay for child care. Now they have moved to Halifax. I was ecstatic when she called me to say that she and her husband had found child care for Roy, that it was not too expensive and that she was able to go back to work. Quebec led the way on this issue.
     I always say that it is Canada that needs Quebec. It is a partnership that continues to this day and that enables us to pool our talents and abilities. An asymmetrical agreement on child care that was signed with Quebec will allocate nearly $6 billion between 2021 and 2026 and provide so many opportunities across the country and in Quebec. Indeed, the federal capacity to partner financially helped Quebec open more child care spaces. Naturally, we are very proud of this system.
     Housing is another good example. I will talk about something that is vital in my riding and in those neighbouring mine in Montérégie. I had the opportunity to go to the riding of the member for Salaberry-Suroît a few weeks ago for an announcement on affordable housing. Forty-eight homes will be built. I was joined by the provincial MNA, the mayor, stakeholders and the member for Salaberry-Suroît. We were very pleased to make this announcement together. We also promised that other housing would be built. This happened thanks to a $900-million contribution to Quebec from the housing accelerator fund to speed the construction of residential housing in Quebec. The Quebec government added another $900 million.
     We work hand-in-hand to achieve the critical mass to implement this priority, which is a priority for both governments, and on which we consulted to reach this agreement. Yes, it sometimes takes time to reach agreements between the federal and provincial governments, but working together is worth it. We need only think of our colleagues of old, the Patriotes, Baldwin, LaFontaine, and all others who worked together to make our country what it is today.

  (1115)  

    Madam Speaker, I am dumbstruck. I do not really know how to respond to what people have been saying about our opposition motion all morning. Something my colleague from Terrebonne said this week on social media really stuck with me. The Liberals are good for nothing but spending more and doing less. I am paraphrasing, but that is what I have been hearing. The consequences are profound.
    The member who spoke earlier sang the praises of what the government has done for the aerospace industry, but the Bloc Québécois is the only party calling for a meaningful national strategy, which is what the aerospace industry itself wants. That member and this one have been bragging about investments. They talked about helping seniors, but the federal government, which is responsible for pensions, cannot even do that job properly. It is maintaining two classes of seniors by refusing to increase benefits to help seniors aged 65 to 74, who are in dire straits. That is incompetence. It is also increasing the number of public servants without delivering any more services to people.
    I have so much more to say, but I will stop there.

  (1120)  

    Madam Speaker, I have a lot of respect for my colleague. I know that she has been a strong advocate for seniors in my riding, and I have some good news. The dental care program is working. It is working—
    The hon. member for Shefford had the opportunity to ask her question. She should listen to the answer. If she has any further comments, she should wait until the appropriate time.
    Madam Speaker, I recently did the rounds at FADOQ's end-of-the-year dinners and at every table where I lingered, someone greeted me, shook my hand and thanked me for this dental care program. They had appointments to get their teeth fixed.
    Madam Speaker, I listened with interest at the background our colleague provided, but I want to come to the reality and to the future, where meaningful care is being provided to Quebeckers under the dental care program. This program does not in any way dictate to Quebec City how to run the health care network, or create federal dentists or federal dental clinics, but instead pays the bills that people are otherwise unable to pay.
    There are already 90,000 people being treated under this program, including thousands of Quebeckers. They are people who, in some cases, were unable to have access to a dentist for decades. I would like my colleague to say a few words about how this program is going to help not only seniors in her riding, but also teenagers, who will be able to register for the program starting next month.
    Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague. Having a dental care program will affect every aspect of health. Research shows how our oral health affects us by being linked to Alzheimer's and heart disease. When I think about the young people who are going to have the chance to have a beautiful smile, that is priceless.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member about the federal government's support to the sectors that are very important to Quebec, such as Quebec's efforts to develop a clean economy, its aerospace sector and the sectors where it has strength in artificial intelligence. For example, in the recent budget, the federal government is looking to invest $2 billion to support the artificial intelligence sector, and another $200 million to support various companies in sectors such as health care, agriculture and manufacturing to allow for artificial intelligence.
    Can the hon. member explain how that would not only strengthen Quebec but also help all Canadians across Canada?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that question because Châteauguay—Lacolle, soon to be Châteauguay–Les Jardins-de-Napierville, is an agricultural hub, and our farmers are at the forefront of technology, which allows for expanding agricultural production without increasing greenhouse gases. We have carbon capture companies working in this area that have received federal money for their research, and they are very appreciative of the federal support to continue their work.

[Translation]

    Before I begin, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Carleton.
     What I say in the next few minutes is not intended as a personal attack on the Bloc Québécois or its members. There are a lot of very good people in the Bloc. I want to talk about the Bloc today in more general terms.
     First off, we fully agree with today's motion. That is how the Conservatives have always done things: We have always respected the provinces' areas of jurisdiction. It is part of our DNA, and we have no objections. However, we do have questions about the contradictions in the Bloc Québécois's behaviour and actions.
     First, it is important to understand that the Bloc's primary motivation is separation, or Quebec sovereignty. It is in their policy platform, and they make no secret of it. Everyone knows that the Bloc wants Quebec to leave Canada.
     It is also important to understand that the Bloc members were elected by about 30% of the population of Quebec. The other 70%, including my colleagues and myself, are just as much Quebeckers as the members of the Bloc. The 70% of Quebeckers who did not vote for the Bloc also have hopes and dreams for the Quebec nation, just like the Bloc does. It is time to stop playing around and always saying that the Bloc members are real Quebeckers, while members from the other parties are not. That is the message we keep getting here in Parliament.
     There is another contradiction. According to the Bloc, and as the Bloc candidate who ran against me in 2021 said publicly, when a member of the Bloc gets elected, they are sitting in a foreign country's Parliament. A Bloc candidate runs for office, gets elected by maybe 30% or 40% of the people in their riding, and tells Quebeckers that they are going to represent them in a foreign country's Parliament. That is always how it has been, and it has been the same story for 30 years.
     Now let me get to the most serious contradiction.
     The leader of the Bloc has repeated, as his own slogan, that if something is good for Quebec, the Bloc will vote for it, and if it is not good for Quebec, the Bloc will vote against it. That is what the leader of the Bloc Québécois says publicly. As a Quebecker, I can say that that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is truly an approach focused on Quebec's main interests, on co-operation with the Canadian federation. We cannot be against that.
     However, we have seen the concrete actions the Bloc has taken when voting on budgets, which are contradictory. The Bloc Québécois publicly says that it votes against all the budgets because they are no good, which is true. The Bloc members vote this way for various reasons, saying that they are against them, so people think that the Bloc Québécois votes against the Liberal government's budgets.
     However, there is the important matter of budgetary appropriations. The Bloc Québécois has voted in favour of all the supplementary appropriations, totalling $500 billion, but that is something it does not boast about.
     I heard the leader of the Bloc answer a question from my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent on this very topic this morning. He answered that they would not do like in the U.S. and start shutting down the government. That is how he justified approving $500 billion in additional spending. These appropriations added 109,000 public servants to the government apparatus. Among other things, these appropriations were used to give millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars, for ArriveCAN.
     When a scandal breaks out, the Bloc members are suddenly astonished to discover that they voted in favour of granting the money. In a public exchange, reporters asked the Bloc Québécois House leader a question, and he answered by asking whether they thought that the Bloc members had the time to study every single budget item. Is that not their job? There are 32 of them, and they have their own research teams and staff. What do they do all day? In our party, we scrutinize every budget item. That is why we vote against them most of the time, because they make no sense.
     The Bloc says publicly that it votes against the budgets when, in fact, it votes in favour of all the appropriations, while claiming that it has no time to study them. What is the primary responsibility of an elected official? It is to know what they are voting for and to vote against it when it is something that makes no sense.

  (1125)  

     The leader of the Bloc Québécois often says that the Bloc members are the adults in the room, that they are the best and that they truly work for Quebeckers, yet they voted in favour of $500 billion in additional spending by this government, which, by the way, is the worst government in the history of Canada.
     This government has doubled our country's debt, which means that Quebeckers' living conditions are appalling nowadays and everything is much more expensive. Inflation and the increase in interest rates and the cost of living in general, particularly the cost of housing, have skyrocketed, in large part because of this government's mismanagement. The Bloc Québécois approved this reckless spending.
    As an organization, the Bloc Québécois is a left-wing, socialist party. We know that. Members of the Bloc have admitted it, have said it. How can they reconcile fiscal responsibilities with always wanting to support socialist, left-wing measures and exponential spending? They cannot have it both ways. They cannot say that they are the responsible adults in the room and then vote with their eyes closed. As the leader of the Bloc Québécois said, the Bloc members do not have time to look at that. It is difficult to vote with one's eyes closed, to vote for spending that just creates problems for Canadians today. In the House, we have done nothing to help anyone over the past nine years. No one has been helped. We just have more problems now than we did in 2015.
    Take, for example, the supply vote. Since the new Bloc Québécois leader arrived in 2019, 219 votes have been considered confidence votes, such as votes on budgetary allocations or on motions similar to the one that the Conservative Party moved a month ago. The Bloc Québécois had 219 opportunities to vote against this government that it is criticizing, and we agree with those criticisms. However, instead, the Bloc Québécois voted in favour of appropriations 200 times. They did not support the non-confidence motion and they supported the government. They could have said that they had had enough, but 92% of the time they did not. They chose instead to continue to support this government's out-of-control spending.
     I will give an example of this spending so that it appears in the public record. Let us take Bill C-36, appropriation act No. 4, 2022-23. The tenor of the bill is not obvious from the title. If we do not take the time to look into it, we really have no way of knowing what it is about. By way of information, it represents $20.7 billion in spending. Here is another example: Bill C-16, appropriation act No. 1, 2022-23. Our viewers will not know what I am talking about. I am talking about more than $75.483 trillion in spending. There are a lot of things in this bill, like pipelines. The Bloc Québécois voted for pipelines in the north. The Bloc supported the bill, despite the fact that the member for Jonquière rails against the oil and gas industry every day in the House. The Bloc voted for it. They did not know that the bill contained anything about pipelines, because they did not read it.
     Here is another example: Bill C-24, appropriation act No. 2, 2022-23. It represents $115.056 trillion and change. By “change”, I mean a few hundred thousand dollars. Bill C-54, appropriation act No. 2, 2023-24, represents $108,700,157,669. These are only four examples from a long list of spending supported by the Bloc Québécois. They can say what they want. They will do a lot of things here and there and say that they are the adults and the responsible ones, but, in reality, they have supported this spendthrift government whose spending is out of control. Today we have problems, and these problems were supported by the Bloc Québécois.
    Why did the Bloc Québécois support this government when the Liberals have an agreement with the NDP, which is always there to support the government, no matter what? The Bloc Québécois could have done the same thing the Conservative Party did: vote against the Liberals' nonsense and ensure that the country is truly managed effectively. The fact is that their objective is to get Quebec to separate. The Bloc's actions are meant to give them reasons to say that things are not going well in the other camp.

  (1130)  

    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech. I would just like to correct him and point out that we do not say “supporter” in French for “support”. We say “appuyer” or “soutenir”. “Supporter” is an anglicism in this context.
     The Bloc Québécois was not deluded when it came here to defend Quebec's interests. The reason there are 32 of us in the House is that Quebeckers understood that they needed us to defend their interests in the House because nobody else was doing it.
     This being said, I would like to tell my colleague something. If we had voted against the appropriations, many employees of the federal government in Quebec would not have been paid. Many seniors would not have received their benefits, which are paid out by the federal government for now, until Quebec becomes independent.
     Our goal here is not to sabotage the government just for the sake of sabotaging the government politically, for populist reasons. Our goal is to take concrete action to ensure that Quebec is always as high a priority as possible in the federal context until things change, and I think that change is coming fast.

  (1135)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague. She confirms precisely what we have been saying: the Bloc Québécois voted for these budget appropriations, while there is an official agreement between the NDP and the Liberals. In the circumstances, it is impossible to defeat a budgetary vote.
     The Bloc Québécois could have taken the time to work, study the credits and say they would not vote for them for such and such a reason, but no. These MPs voted as a bloc for each of the $500-billion items. Let them stop trying to be the adult in the room again. There was an agreement on the other side. The government could not fall, even if we voted against it. The Bloc Québécois could have stood with us and said it was against the current government's extravagant spending.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, former prime minister Stephen Harper inherited a health care accord that saw incremental increases in health care expenditures. A lot of Canadians are very much concerned with that, because when it came time to renew the health care accord, the Harper government did absolutely nothing. In fact, it cut back the 6% to 3%. I am not 100% sure of that figure, but I believe that to be factual.
    Could the member specifically tell Canadians about the role of health care? Does the Conservative Party believe it is nothing more than a transfer of cash payments to provinces? Does it believe there is another role for health care delivery?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, what is clear for the Conservative Party is that we must respect jurisdictions. Health transfers must be made to the provinces. The provinces are the masters of health care management.
     We have no place interfering in provincial business, because health and education are provincial matters. Because Quebec is a big boy or a big girl, depending on how one looks at it, Quebec is capable of managing health care. On the federal side, we transfer the funds and we do not have to interfere as the Liberals do.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, we often talk about jurisdiction, and a jurisdiction that we often exclude in this place is the jurisdiction of indigenous peoples. It is clear that in the case of Quebec, there have been many instances where the government has attempted to claw jurisdiction that is not necessarily the jurisdiction that is most appropriate for first nations.
    Could the member elaborate on whether his party would support the claims of indigenous people, particularly first nations, who claim that Quebec is attempting to erase their history?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I will not answer on behalf of the Quebec government, but I can say that relations between the Quebec government and indigenous people are going very well. This is the place, I think, where treaties and ways of working with indigenous communities are among the best in Canada.
    Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is in the midst of an identity crisis.
    The Bloc Québécois is trying to go in two totally different directions. First, the Bloc Québécois claims to be a separatist party whose goal is to finally get rid of the federal government's control over the Quebec nation and the lives of Quebeckers. Then, according to its leader, the Bloc Québécois is a “progressive, socially democratic” party. It shares the same ideology as the current Liberal Prime Minister. The Bloc wants a big government that directs the economy with huge taxes, deficits, regulations, programs and industry subsidies. It wants a government that extends its tentacles everywhere.
    Although I do not share these two objectives, namely socialism and sovereignty, a party in Quebec's National Assembly can coherently propose both at the same time. It can propose the separation of Quebec from the rest of Canada and the creation of a massive welfare state in Quebec. I think it is a bad idea, but at least we know that it could be part of a coherent approach. The problem is that the Bloc Québécois is not a provincial party in the Quebec National Assembly. It is a federal party in Ottawa, and its socially democratic demands are helping to expand the size of the federal government.
    In this zero-sum game, when the federal government has more money and power, this leaves less money and power for Quebec and Quebeckers. Every taxpayer dollar spent in Ottawa leaves a dollar less for the Government of Quebec or Quebec taxpayers. Do not take it from me; this comes from Paul St‑Pierre Plamondon, or PSPP. He calculated that Quebeckers pay $82 billion to Ottawa in taxes. Most of the taxes that Quebeckers pay the federal government goes back to Quebeckers in the form of child benefits, payments for seniors or transfers for health care and social services that are received by the Government of Quebec. PSPP seems to be saying that there is even more money that does not go back to Quebec. Where did that money go? It went to budgetary appropriations.
    Budgetary appropriations refer to money that is voted on in Parliament and spent to fund the bureaucracy, consultants, agencies, contributions to corporations, and interest groups. It is basically the big federal monster in Ottawa that sovereignists want to separate from.
    One would think that a separatist party would have voted against all the budget allocations that feed this federal monster, but that is not what happened. In fact, since arriving in the House of Commons in 2019, the leader of the Bloc Québécois has voted in favour of all of this Liberal Prime Minister's budget allocations. On 205 occasions, the Bloc leader has voted to authorize a total of $500 billion in additional government spending. That is almost equal to Quebec's GDP. We are talking about $500 billion, half a trillion dollars. That money did not go toward old age security or health, since such expenditures are already set out in legislation and we do not need to vote to authorize them. The Bloc Québécois voted in favour of the federal machine in Ottawa, in favour of hiring an additional 100,000 public servants and pumping 50% more money into the federal bureaucracy. The Bloc voted to double spending on private consultants. It voted for $21 billion in spending, or $1,400 per Quebec family, for federal consultants.

  (1140)  

     This includes financing ArriveCAN, which cost $25 million, when the Liberal government promised it would cost only $80,000.
     Again, I find it fascinating that a Quebec party that calls itself separatist never supports measures seeking to reduce the federal tax burden shouldered by Quebeckers. It never supports income tax cuts. One would think a separatist party would always oppose Quebeckers being forced to send their money to Ottawa, but this is not true for Bloc Québécois members. They want, in their own words, to radically increase taxes. Furthermore, the Bloc Québécois voted in favour of Bill C-11, which gives the CRTC, a federal agency, full control over what Quebeckers can see and post on social media.
     Even its support of Radio-Canada is paradoxical. The Bloc Québécois wants to separate from Canada, which would expel Radio-Canada from Quebec, but at the same time, it says that Radio-Canada is essential to the culture and media of Quebec. Apparently, it believes that Canada and the federal government are essential to Quebec life. This is not very separatist of them either.
     The real question is, how would a sovereign Quebec under the leader of the Bloc Québécois be different from the Canada led by the current Prime Minister? The Bloc Québécois supports high taxes, massive federal debt and a bloated bureaucracy that meddles in everything but is good at nothing.
    We should also remember that the Bloc Québécois supports a justice system that frees repeat offenders and bans hunting rifles. In fact, an independent Quebec with the leader of the Bloc Québécois as premier would be almost identical to the federal state led by the current Prime Minister.
     Luckily for the Bloc Québécois, its fantasies of a welfare state have already become very real in Canada under the current Prime Minister, with all the government programs, bureaucracy, taxes, deficits and regulations. Everyone depends on the government. This is a dream for left-wing ideologues like the leaders of the Bloc Québécois, the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, but it is a nightmare for the working class, with housing, food and everything else being unaffordable. There is more homelessness, poverty and desperation.
     The Bloc Québécois does not offer Quebeckers either sovereignty or independence. Instead, it offers a more costly, centralist and indebted federal government, exactly like the Liberals. The Liberal Bloc is not a pro-independence party but a pro-dependence party. It defends what it depends on. The Bloc Québécois depends on the federal government for its pensions and paycheques and for all its ideological dreams, which are in reality centralist.
    However, with our common-sense plan, we will axe the tax, build the homes, not the bureaucracy, and fix the budget by capping spending and cutting waste. In short, with a small federal government, we will let Quebeckers make their own decisions. They could decide to keep more money in their pockets or to give more money to their government in Quebec City. It will be up to them. This is a message for Quebeckers: With the Liberal Bloc, the federal government is master of your house, but with the common-sense Conservatives, Quebeckers will be master of their own house.
    Thank you very much.

  (1145)  

    I listened very carefully to the Leader of the Opposition telling us that he has discovered a past, present and future passion for provincial autonomy. Under the Harper government, that may not have been how Premier Charest, the darling of Quebec Conservatives, felt about it, but never mind.
    Let us fast-forward to today. Since the Leader of the Opposition is so keen on respecting provincial jurisdictions, can he promise here and now that a future Conservative government will never push through an oil or gas pipeline project without Quebec's consent?

  (1150)  

    Madam Speaker, I know why the Bloc Québécois does not want the approach of the Harper years, because in the Harper years we reduced the role of the federal government, we decentralized powers and respected the powers of the provinces, which eliminated the Bloc Québécois.
     At that time, the Bloc Québécois had four seats. Quebeckers wondered why they needed the Bloc Québécois, and the Conservatives let them make their own decisions. Furthermore, they had autonomy and a Prime Minister who respected Quebec. When it came to issues they did not agree on, the federal government did not interfere in their business, so they were okay.
     Now the Bloc Québécois's entire raison d'être revolves around this centralist Prime Minister. That is why we saw this lovefest yesterday between the Prime Minister and the Bloc Québécois, who were applauding one another.
     We are the nightmare of the Bloc-Liberal coalition, but we will be wonderful for people who respect the autonomy of all provinces, including Quebec.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, I think of programs like the national dental program, and the national pharmacare program that is being proposed. I think of the health care agreements, where we saw a federal government demonstrate a tangible interest in developing more on mental health and long-term care. The federal government, through the Canada Health Act, does have a very important role to play in delivering health care in our communities.
    The question I have for the member is this: Contrary to what the former Conservative speaker stated, does the current leader of the Conservative Party believe that the federal government has more of a role than just providing cash to provinces?
    Madam Speaker, if the government does have more of a role, then that role has been to extend wait times and make emergency rooms even more full of people. Since the Prime Minister said he was going to get more involved in health care, wait times have doubled, so if he wants the power, he has to take the responsibility and explain why he has failed so badly.
    Then he talks about other grand federal programs, which is interesting, such as a dental program that has not cleaned a single tooth. There is a housing program that has doubled the cost of housing and increased severe homelessness by 88%. Then there is the pharmacare program, which has not delivered a single jar of medicine and which, if actually implemented, would ban Canadians from having their private drug plans.
    The Prime Minister and the NDP want to roll back the rights that unions have fought so hard and so long to secure. Our labour movement fought too hard to secure private drug plans, and we will never let a big, centralizing, bureaucratic government in Ottawa take those rights away from workers.
    Madam Speaker, unions across the country are in support of universal pharmacare and the delivery of diabetes medication to Canadians. The Leader of the Opposition and his family have one of the best health care plans in the country. I met a mother who was so concerned about how she cannot afford medication, and—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I cannot hear the question, and I am sure the official opposition leader is having a hard time hearing the question because his own members are heckling the member for Victoria. I would ask them to hold back and, if they have questions and comments, to wait until the appropriate time.
     The hon. member for Victoria.
    Madam Speaker, the mom told me she could barely think about anything except how much the medication and devices cost for her daughter who has diabetes. She is three or four years old. I do not know how anyone could look that little girl in the eye and say that she does not deserve access to life-saving medication.
     Why does the member think that he and his family deserve coverage and that this family and families just like it across Canada do not?
    Madam Speaker, first of all, if the member thinks that parliamentarians have coverage that is too good, she could put forward a motion to cut it back. Instead, what she has done is propose to cut back drug plans for everyday Canadians, particularly unionized Canadians. Roughly 90% of Canadians have some drug coverage, but the bill that the NDP and the Liberals have put forward would require a single payer. “Single payer” means only a federal government plan, so she would ban private and even provincial plans and replace them with a federal government plan. A government that cannot even figure out how to deliver a passport would suddenly become responsible for providing people with drug coverage.
     How does the member look hard-working Canadians in the eye while she promises to take away their hard-won drug coverage secured through collective bargaining?

  (1155)  

[Translation]

    Once again, I would like to remind all members of the House not to disturb others who have the floor, not to make comments or ask them questions. There are appropriate times to do that.

[English]

    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I would first like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
    I rise—
    I would ask those who are having discussions to take them out of the House and into the lobby. That would be more appropriate, especially after what I just said.
    The hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski may continue.
    Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the troubling motion that the Bloc Québécois moved today and that we are trying to amend. This motion poses serious issues for the future of Quebeckers and Canada as a whole.
    I will begin by saying that the NDP is unequivocally committed to respecting Quebec and we recognize that Quebec is a distinct nation within Canada. In fact, the NDP is proud to have recognized that when it adopted the Sherbrooke declaration several years ago under our former leader Jack Layton, with whom I had the privilege of serving.
    I also want to recognize Quebec's unique history when it comes to social programs and the concept of collective well-being. The federal government must take a leadership role and make vital investments to meet the needs of Quebeckers and Canadians.
    It is clear from Quebec's cultural history that the Quebec nation has a rich heritage. The NDP is progressive and we recognize that Quebec is a nation and that it both has and deserves the right to self-determination. We recognized this long before the Liberals and Conservatives. The Quiet Revolution was one of the great progressive and social democratic revolutions, not only in the history of Quebec, but also in the history of North America. It marks the moment when Quebeckers took their destiny into their own hands.
    Our former leaders, Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair, as well as our current leader from Burnaby South have made it clear: Quebec is a nation with its own history. Federal decisions must be made with that reality in mind. It is clear—
    Order. I must ask the Sergeant-at-Arms to see what is happening outside the chamber. There seems to be a lot of noise. Could he ask people to continue their discussions outside?
    The hon. member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski may continue.
    Clearly, Madam Speaker, Quebec must be consulted on issues that affect Quebeckers. We feel that the back-and-forth between the federal government and the provinces may be a good thing for social policy. We think that it is by working together rather than unilateral action from the federal government that the best social policies are developed.
     However, it is also true that a number of Quebec voices clearly support a federal dental care program and this program will improve the lives of many Quebeckers. The same thing happened during the debate on the Canada Health Act; there were discussions about that act and how it impacted provincial jurisdictions. Today it is seen as a done deal. It is one of our country's main values.
     One day, the same will hold true for the dental care and pharmacare programs. I am proud that it is thanks to the NDP that we can move forward on these programs.
    I want to be clear and to ensure that the voices of Quebeckers who support our dental care program and our pharmacare program are heard. The Centrale des syndicats démocratiques, or CSD, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, or CSN, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec, or CSQ, and the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, or FTQ, have been calling for public pharmacare for a long time. They have applauded this first step and are asking for more. It makes me wonder why the Bloc Québécois is ignoring Quebec's union leaders and the voices of Quebec workers on this issue.
    According to CSD president Luc Vachon, it is unconscionable that a person's health should depend on their income or be open to negotiation. Even though Quebec has its own system, it discriminates against low-income individuals. A truly public and universal system must guarantee all people the right to easy access to medication. The time has come to set aside constitutional wrangling and ensure that everyone has real access to affordable medication.
    The CSN believes that Quebec is going in the wrong direction by demanding an unconditional right to opt out. For the CSN, it would not be acceptable for Quebec to receive federal funding with no strings attached in order to maintain a dysfunctional and unfair system. The CSN calls on the federal government to be open to provinces that wish to fund universal provincial public plans. Why is the Bloc Québécois opposing what the CSN is saying?
    We base our position on the enthusiastic messages we received from Quebeckers about the dental care program. Over 600,000 of them have signed up for dental care. Why is the Bloc Québécois opposed to these 600,000 registered individuals? Once again, the facts are clear.
    The NDP plan would benefit 2.5 million Quebeckers and would save seniors $1,000 a year already. We already have 10,000 dental care providers registered.
    The following questions deserve to be asked of the Bloc Québécois: Why is this party, which claims to be the great defender of Quebec, opposing the union leaders of the FTQ, the CSD, and others? Why does the Bloc oppose the 600,000 Quebeckers who have signed up for the program? The big question is, why is the Bloc Québécois working so hard to defend provinces outside Quebec that are led by right-wing governments?

  (1200)  

[English]

    I would like to turn to the speech we just heard from the leader of the official opposition. At some point he referred to nightmares and dreams. I could say that what his speech in the House symbolizes for so many Canadians, particularly low-income Canadians and working Canadians, is in fact the nightmare that we would have to deal with if we had a government led by the leader of the official opposition.
    Canadians remember the dark Harper years, when social programs were cut and health care investments were cut. In fact there were changes to investment formulas to provinces, which ensured that provinces like mine got less money than they needed to be able to live up to the needs of their communities. Manitoba still has not recovered from the cuts brought in by the Harper government.
    However, let us be clear: The Bloc is defending right-wing premiers and right-wing governments across Canada that are bringing our public universal health care system to its knees. We have seen the cuts in Ontario; we have seen the declarations from Premier Danielle Smith in Alberta, and the future for people in those provinces is particularly ugly. We have seen the way in which they are pushing privatized health care. They are taking away from the public health care in prioritizing privatized health care, all the while eroding universal health care that Canadians depend on. In effect, the Bloc is not just positioning itself against the interests of labour unions, working people, the 600,000 Quebeckers who have signed up for the dental care program and the many who have spoken of the importance of pharmacare as well. The Bloc is also, for some bizarre reason, defending right-wing premiers outside of Quebec who are all too committed to gutting public health care.
     We in the NDP will not let them do that. We are clear: We stand in solidarity with union leaders, with unionized workers in Quebec, with the 600,000 Quebeckers who signed up for the dental care program and the many more who we know will sign up in the months to come. We are saying that we must move forward to expand universal health care when it comes to dental care, when it comes to pharmacare and when it comes to the broader vision of health care that leaders like Tommy Douglas and others talked about so many years ago. It is inconceivable that in a country as wealthy as Canada, we are not able to look after one another and we are not able to look after our citizens in the ways that they need it. Just a few weeks ago, I had a chance to speak with a diabetes nurse here in my home community of Thompson. She talked about the challenges and how difficult it is to work with patients who cannot afford the medication and the equipment that they need when it comes to diabetes.
    I will finish by saying that I am proud to stand for constituents who desperately need what pharmacare would mean to them and who desperately need what dental care would mean to them. I am proud of the NDP's position, which relies on the Sherbrooke declaration and says yes to public universal health care, dental care and pharmacare and no to the political games of the Bloc, the right-wing premiers and the leader of the official opposition.

  (1205)  

    Madam Speaker, the Canadian federal system is collaborative in nature. Canadians face complex issues. These complex issues do not start and end at the boundary of any province. There is a need for the federal government and the provinces and territories to work together to address the needs of Canadians. I would like to have the hon. member's comment on that.
    Madam Speaker, it is clear here that we are seeing, under the guise of provincial jurisdiction, an effort by the Bloc Québécois to unfortunately erode gains being made when it comes to expanding health care. However, let us also be clear that the Conservatives are very much in line with pushing privatized health care and doing away with public universal medicare and certainly its expansion. I would say finally that I am really proud that the NDP has been pushing for dental care and pharmacare and pushing the Liberals to move on this front. Without the NDP, we would not be here fighting for what so many Canadians deserve.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am always surprised to hear anyone mention the Sherbrooke declaration, when the NDP is constantly behaving like a government that wants to run a province. That is the case here, and my colleague just gave an example. She started accusing the Bloc Québécois of being insensitive when we talk about interference when people are affected.
    Of course I see the effects. First, the National Assembly unanimously called for the right to opt out with compensation from dental insurance because Quebec is capable of managing its own system. I say this because any attempt to interfere will cause duplication and longer delays. People in my riding of Shefford have been coming to see me, saying they have not been able to register and they are having problems. The process is long and complex.
    That is what happens when the government tries to interfere in a jurisdiction that is not its own. It creates duplication, causes further delays and, in the end, it is the people who pay the price.

  (1210)  

    Madam Speaker, I would say to my colleague that the fact that she has constituents who want to register and access this program shows that Quebeckers and Canadians see the importance of this type of program. I wonder why the Bloc Québécois is against it. If they want to collaborate on improving the registration process and finding solutions for a program that is in its early stages, then we invite them to do so.
    Instead of that type of collaboration, we are seeing political games, where the Bloc Québécois is going against many Quebeckers, the unions, Quebec citizens on the issue of dental care and pharmacare. In the meantime, it is collaborating with the right outside Quebec, who simply want to attack our health care system. It is unacceptable.
    Madam Speaker, I would simply like to indicate this to my colleague. Indeed, Quebec's has a hybrid pharmacare program; it is limited and imperfect. Do not take my word for it. It was Dr. Rochon who said that Quebec's program was a good start, that it was ahead of its time, but that it needed to be complemented by a public, universal plan, which is the only way to control the cost of drugs.
    That is why union groups at the FTQ, CSD and CSN in Quebec agree with bringing in a public, universal pharmacare program because it will benefit Quebeckers.
    I would like my colleague's thoughts on that.
    Madam Speaker, that is absolutely true, and union leaders at the CSD, CSN and FTQ have made clear statements to that effect.
    On behalf of Quebeckers, I thank my colleague for his leadership when it comes to the importance of dental care and pharmacare. Clearly, the Bloc Québécois is not giving a second thought to the labour movement and the 600,000 Quebeckers who have signed up for these programs. If it respected them, it would not be moving this motion today, and it would not be attacking these programs.
    I look forward to hearing my colleague's speech, which will surely present the views of Quebeckers who want a better health care system.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to talk about issues that are extremely important to the people we represent across Quebec.
    I want to begin by making two points.
    First, we often hear Bloc Québécois members or their leader say that, for the Bloc, it is not complicated: When something is good for Quebec, they vote in favour and when it is not good for Quebec, they vote against it. It is all very simple, but there are questions the Bloc members never seem to consider, such as whether it is good for Quebeckers, good for Quebec workers and their families, good for Quebec seniors, and good for Quebec youth. The Bloc always brings up a unanimous vote in the National Assembly, but will that actually do anything to help ordinary people? Will it change anything in their lives?
    This makes me think about why I got into politics, which was to stand up for workers' rights, defend social justice, fight poverty and make our society more just and equitable. I always ask myself whether it is good for Quebeckers and good for the people I represent in my riding.
    The second thing is that we cannot overlook the fundamental contradiction that makes it hard for the Bloc to take a constructive approach in this place. Its entire narrative centres on the premise that the federal government is bad and does not work. In all fairness, sometimes it does not work or work well. At other times, however, it works effectively and accomplishes good things. The Bloc cannot admit to that because it clashes with the narrative that it wants to propagate. Any success has to be ignored to avoid undermining the Bloc's fundamental premise. For years, we have seen Bloc members choose to support their lines of argumentation rather than support people, whereas the NDP is here to help people.
    What can we do to move issues forward and solve problems instead of constantly trying to portray the federal government as the big bad wolf? Sometimes it is the big bad wolf. Sometimes it is ineffective, as we saw in the case of passports and, for years, on the immigration file . If, however, positive and constructive accomplishments are possible, why not support them? That is why we entered politics, to represent the people in our ridings, to help others, and to assist the people who voted for us.
    I understand that the Bloc Québécois garnered 1.3 million votes in the last election, but it is not necessarily up to the Bloc to decide what is good for Quebec. Why should it have the monopoly or exclusivity on what is good for Quebec? Some people voted for the Conservative Party of Canada. Some people voted for the Liberal Party of Canada. Some people voted for the Green Party of Canada. Some 400,000 Quebeckers even voted for the NDP.
    The Bloc Québécois received about one-third of the votes. However, the NDP unfortunately does not have the equivalent of one‑third of the Bloc's members, since we do not have a proportional representation system in Canada. However, 400,000 Quebeckers sent us here and asked us, among other things, to get them better health care and to expand their treatment services, health care system and dental care.
    The NDP decided to go to Ottawa and fight for them to get easier access to dental care. That is what we have done. We hold the balance of power, and we used that. We negotiated with the Liberals to force them to do things they never agreed to before. Now, of course, they are taking credit for it. That is to be expected; that is politics. However, in the past, they always voted against dental care and against universal public pharmacare.
    If not for the NDP's work, that program would not exist. It actually exists now. Thanks to the plan we put forward and forced the Liberals to implement, 600,000 Quebeckers are now enrolled in the Canadian dental care plan. This program is not an intrusion at all. It does not interfere in Quebec's health care system. The federal government is not telling anyone how to run a hospital, a local community service centre or a long-term care home. All it is doing is making money available to pay the dentist.
    Four million Quebeckers do not have any public or private dental coverage, which has very serious consequences for their oral health as well as their overall health. I learned that heart surgery can be postponed if the surgeon feels as though the patient's oral health is not good enough, because the risk of bacterial and viral transmission is too high. That is a very real issue.
    That is what we are trying to address, and it is becoming a reality. Contrary to the false statement that the Leader of the Opposition made earlier about how not a single tooth has been cleaned yet, since May 1, 90,000 people across Canada, including thousands of Quebeckers, have had access to a dentist, either for free or with a reimbursement of 80% to 90% of the cost. That is a big deal.

  (1215)  

    Ten thousand dental care providers across the country have already signed up. The process will be even easier as of July 8, because they will not even have to sign up. They will be able to send the bill directly through the Sun Life portal. That will speed up the process and make it much simpler and easier for people to access dental care.
    We have learned that some of the 90,000 Canadians who have had access to dental care since May 1 have not seen a dentist in decades. This year, seniors in Quebec can have 80%, 90% or sometimes 100% of their dental care covered, depending on the fees. In June, teenagers aged 12 to 18, people under 18, will be able to apply for this new dental care program. That will bring major changes for families who pay for regular cleaning or extractions for their teenagers. Quebec families stand to save hundreds of dollars a year.
    Starting in June, people with disabilities who receive federal tax credits will also be eligible to apply for the dental care program. This is revolutionary, and Quebec is not being told what to do or how to do it. Quebec does not have a dental care plan for seniors. There is no Quebec dental care plan for teenagers. There is also no plan for adults aged 18 to 64, who will be eligible to apply as early as next year.
    What we also managed to get from the Liberals, with a great deal of effort and pressure, was the creation of a universal public pharmacare program. It is the best way to control and reduce the cost of drugs. All the studies and reports, including the 2019 Hoskins report, tell us that it needs to be done. The Quebec plan, which is a hybrid plan, was a step forward and real progress 30 years ago, but it is now outdated and we have lost control of the cost of drugs.
    All the major unions in Quebec are telling us that we absolutely need a universal public single-payer system. We are laying the foundation for that with discussions with the provinces. Obviously, Quebec should have the right to opt out with compensation. The NDP thinks that this would be so beneficial that we need to continue these discussions, that we need to at least have these discussions in order to move forward.
    The FTQ, the CSN and the CSQ, which represent 1.5 million workers in Quebec, are all saying that we must implement a pharmacare program to reduce costs, to greatly improve people's health, and also their financial situation, given that the rising cost of living is affecting everyone.
    Dental care and pharmacare are cost-saving measures for workers, for employers, for Quebec's health care system. If people go to the dentist and get treated, if they can afford and receive the drugs that they need, they will be less sick. They will not end up in the emergency room, they will not end up in Quebec's health care system clogging up emergency rooms. It is a real and tangible way of improving people's lives.
    I am very proud that the NDP had a hand in bringing about this program. It is thanks to our initiative and our pressure that this will become a reality. This is going to help every Quebecker who wants to have access to contraceptives. If these discussions and these negotiations with the provinces are successful, millions of people will have access to better control over their reproductive choices and their own body. For people with diabetes, having access to insulin, to the equipment, but also to all the equipment, will change things dramatically. We have to move forward, and I ask the Government of Quebec to be open to this.
    Madam Speaker, I am presenting an amendment to the Bloc Québécois's supply day motion. It reads as follows:
     That the motion be amended by (a) substituting the following for paragraph (a): “(a) reaffirm the principle of co-operative federalism, where Quebec is recognized as a nation within Canada and where the federal government must work with the provinces and territories in a way that respects the jurisdictions recognized in the Constitution”; (b) substituting paragraph (c) with the following: “(c) demand that the government work co-operatively with all levels of government to respond to the needs of citizens, while systematically offering Quebec the right to opt out unconditionally with full compensation whenever the federal government interferes in its jurisdiction”; (c) adding the following: “(d) recognize the fact that over 600,000 seniors in Quebec have already registered for the Canada dental care plan and the fact that the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec and the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec welcome the development of a federal pharmacare program”.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, we reject the amendment.
    It is my duty to inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition motion may be moved only with the consent of the sponsor of the motion. If the sponsor is not present, the House leader, the deputy House leader, the whip or the deputy whip of the sponsor's party may give or refuse consent on the sponsor's behalf.
    As I understand it, there is no consent.
    Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 85, the amendment cannot be moved at this time.
    The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
    Madam Speaker, I was very pleased to hear my colleague talk about the national dental care program.
    They say that the federal government is interfering in an area under Quebec's jurisdiction, but many Quebeckers are benefiting or will benefit from this program.
    What does the member think those Quebeckers would say if they were told they had to do without the program in order to protect provincial jurisdiction?

  (1225)  

    Madam Speaker, I held 26 town hall meetings in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie to introduce the new dental care program. It was very well received. People who have not been able to afford a dentist for years have clearly seen that it could save them a lot of money and meet their needs.
    The beauty of this program is that it is a bill payment program, and bills are paid directly. It is a group public insurance program. We are not telling Quebec how to manage its health care system, but we are taking care of Quebeckers.
    Last week, when we had a constituency week, many seniors came to see me to thank us for our work, for doing this. These people have already been able to get teeth fixed and have seen how much it can make a difference in their lives. I look forward to that being the case for teenagers, people with disabilities and the general adult population.
    Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague. However, I want to come back to the fact that the programs managed by Ottawa are completely ineffective.
    There are many examples. From what I am hearing, the member wants us believe that everything is fine and that the federal government's programs will solve seniors' dental care problems. It is a mirage. That is what I believe and what I see, because the seniors who come to my office are more likely to complain about the fact that this is not working. That is why we are saying, let us simplify things and transfer the money to Quebec, which will make its own choices and help people.
    Clearly, it is not working. Attempts to interfere result in duplication of services and additional delays. In the end, people do not get better services. They do not have that service and they have to wait. It is sad to see people continuing to suffer.
    Madam Speaker, I hear what my colleague is saying, and I am not claiming that the program is perfect right out of the gate. It is something we are building. There will be ups and downs. Sometimes there are small adjustments to be made.
    So far, 90,000 people have received treatment in three weeks already. That is 90,000 more people than a few months ago. Without the work of the NDP, all these people would not have had access to a dentist. I saw a bill from someone who posted it on social media. She had to pay $10.71 when the bill was $130, so she saved $120. That is huge. People are going to be able to save hundreds of dollars a year, whether for prostheses or dentures.
    I think the program will improve and become more effective. For now, it is not competing with the Quebec program, since Quebec does not offer such care for the elderly. There is no such program in Quebec. We are not going to wait for the CAQ to move if we are able to help people directly.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for consistently defending the interests of seniors, and particularly seniors in Quebec. It is a tremendous honour to be able to work with such a member, and I know that he often speaks about the importance of the care that seniors deserve. Would he elaborate on how life-changing this program would be for so many thousands of Québécois?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Edmonton Griesbach, and I salute his exceptional work in defending the people of his riding and of the west, particularly Alberta.
    These are indeed two programs that will change the lives of seniors, some of whom were suffering. Before the program was announced, a senior in my riding called my office every week to ask when she would finally have access to a dentist. She had infected gums from rotting teeth, which caused her pain and kept her up at night. Thanks to the program that has been set up, she is going to have access to a dentist. It is going to change her life.
    Madam Speaker, it is not easy to speak today after all my eloquent Bloc colleagues and before those who will speak after me.
    My takeaway, so far, is this: The freer Quebec is, the better off it is. The federal system meddles in things that are none of its business. Year after year, budget after budget, the federal government keeps interfering in areas that do not come under its jurisdiction. It needs to stop. Interference causes delays, especially in Quebec, where everyone agrees that this spending power is illegitimate. The Bloc Québécois therefore demands that Quebec be given the right to opt out with full financial compensation, unconditionally and in every instance where Ottawa meddles in areas that are not its own.
    I am going to attempt to once again explain what it is we are trying so hard to get people to understand. I will talk about the fact that Quebec is progressive, the failures of the federal system's meddling and, finally, the fiscal imbalance.
    First, all of Quebec's major social and economic advances occurred after we withdrew from federal programs ill-suited to our needs or after we created programs that later, ironically, provided the inspiration for programs that the federal government then tried to impose on us.
    By refusing to join the Canada pension plan, we were able to create the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a powerful lever of economic development and modernization in Quebec. By withdrawing from the EI special benefits program, we were able to implement our own parental leave, which caused women's participation in the workforce to explode and paved the way for work-life balance. By withdrawing from the federal student loans program, we were able to implement a financial aid system that made Quebec the North American leader in access to education. By withdrawing from federal labour programs, we were able to implement an employment policy that brought together workers, employers and educational institutions to have training better meet the needs of the labour market.
    Now, I want to talk about some of the concerns. The latest example is the dental plan, which falls under Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction in health. Ottawa is taking on new power and choosing to give $2 billion to Sun Life, a private company, to manage this plan. What is more, Ottawa is not harmonizing this plan with Quebec's public program, which already covers children. If the federal government chooses to introduce a pharmacare program, which also falls strictly under Quebec's jurisdiction, we can expect further centralization and a significant risk of it not being harmonized with Quebec's program. There is no shortage of examples of failed interference.
    Last fall, the government introduced a bill to set up sector tables to discuss labour market training. Even though Quebec already has a system in place and is managing it, Ottawa is simply ignoring that fact and is proposing to duplicate the program without any harmonization or compensation. This is not an isolated case. Just look at financing for Quebec's provincial and municipal infrastructures; housing, where Ottawa is duplicating targeted, complex programs, creating a cumbersome and confusing situation that is delaying the completion of projects; or health. Ottawa introduced health initiatives in the last budget, but is offering no services. Meanwhile, the health care system is in crisis.
    Here again, health transfers come to mind. They have increased six times less than expected and come with conditions that have led to a tug-of-war. As a result, the necessary money is slow in coming. In fact, it could be said that the decline in Quebec's autonomy and the erosion of Quebeckers' ability to make their own choices is a strong trend. Even the Institute for Research on Public Policy, a Canada-wide research group based in Ottawa, concluded the same thing last June.
     All this is taking place in a context where Ottawa is already doing a very poor job of managing the issues under its jurisdiction, multiplying its spending without seeking efficiency or results, and slashing its transfers to the provinces by multiplying conditions and delaying the payment of the promised amounts. The delays are just as unacceptable in the case of infrastructure or housing programs, where it takes years for an agreement to be reached and for the approved sums to be paid out, because here too, Ottawa is interfering.
    In terms of the issues that I deal with as a critic, the government delayed getting money out to domestic violence shelters during the pandemic. What is more, despite our repeated requests, the government still refuses to increase OAS by 10% for seniors aged 65 to 74. Finally, as a third example, in my riding, the government is not contributing to a cost-shared infrastructure program for the construction of the Saint-Césaire arena. Inflation has driven up costs and the other two levels of government have done their part, but we have not heard from the federal government.
    This is concrete evidence that the interference and incompetence of the federal government is delaying and even undermining our work.
    Ottawa is doing this because it has the upper hand due to the persistent fiscal imbalance. In Canada, there is a serious fiscal imbalance to the detriment of Quebec and the provinces. Year after year, the Parliamentary Budget Officer keeps repeating in his fiscal sustainability report that the provinces' finances are not sustainable over time.
    There are three kinds of dysfunctions. First, by collecting more revenue than is necessary to meet its obligations, Ottawa is not making the effort to manage its administration effectively.

  (1230)  

    The federal government is notoriously ineffective. When Ottawa gets involved, everything costs more than it should.
    Ottawa's continued interference is leading to an unprecedented centralization of power in the hands of the federal government. This weakens the people of Quebec's ability to develop in accordance with their needs, strengths, characteristics and desires. This centralization has been a trend for a long time, since Confederation. Since then, every Canadian government has been working to transform the federation into a legislative union, where Ottawa would reign supreme over the provinces and Quebec. Even under the Harper government, a Conservative government, centralization of power occurred, and that trend is ongoing. In Canada, there is no status quo. The third way, autonomy, that lies between our sovereignty and our assimilation and in which Quebec would be respected, is constantly under attack by the federal government, no matter which party is in power. The conclusion is that things are not working.
    To put an end to interference means truly offering Quebec a right to opt out with full compensation and without condition from any new federal program that falls under the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces. The government must immediately undertake negotiations with Quebec to implement this right to opt out of the dental care program and of the possible pharmacare program. It must undertake negotiations with the Government of Quebec to fully transfer to it the temporary foreign worker program, which would be a continuation of the federal government's withdrawal from Quebec's labour market sector, which first started in 1997. It must also systematically apply the principle of asymmetry in every federal transfer, in order to give more flexibility to the Government of Quebec, the cornerstone of a nation that enjoys the inherent right to self-determination. Finally, there needs to be a systematic review of federal programs with a view to determining which ones infringe on the jurisdictions of the provinces or overlap their programs in full or in part. Only Quebec still stands up to the federal government's interference.
    When the federal government creates housing programs, it can easily impose them on the provinces, which just accept them and make their contribution. In Quebec, the federal government is barging in on an existing ecosystem, and that causes friction and keeps programs from starting up. After the national housing strategy was announced, it took more than three years for Quebec and Ottawa to come to an agreement. Recently, the federal government again refused to give $900 million to Quebec without imposing any conditions on housing construction. It is hard to believe that negotiations will be streamlined and fast-tracked under a new federal department.
    It is the same thing with infrastructure programs. The federal government wants to determine infrastructure priorities for Quebec and the municipalities, going so far as to interfere in matters as local as urban planning and the density of residential districts.
    When the federal government announces a new infrastructure program with new conditions, it starts a tug-of-war with Quebec. Programs in Quebec start on average 18 months later that in the rest of Canada, where the government has free rein to take the lead in areas outside its jurisdiction.
    In conclusion, one federal party after another has opted out of recognizing the Quebec nation and everything that implies. Even the Conservatives, who say they reject Pierre Elliott Trudeau's legacy, embrace Trudeau's principle of provincial equality. There is no special status; there is no right to opt out. Federal spending that encroaches on provincial jurisdiction negates the division of powers in Canada and erases Quebec's autonomy. There is no way for Quebec to end federal interference.
    Federal interference proves that the fiscal imbalance has not been resolved. We know this because Ottawa has extra money to spend in areas under provincial jurisdiction. The fiscal imbalance will never be resolved without ending federal spending power in areas under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. Ottawa's conditional transfers and interference are undermining Quebec's autonomy.
    The House of Commons recognizes the Quebec nation; everyone seems to be bragging about that today. However, recognizing the existence of a nation is more than symbolic. Just like individuals, nations have fundamental rights. The most fundamental of these rights is the right of a nation to control the social, economic and cultural development of its own society. It is the right to self-determination. We cannot, on the one hand, recognize that the Quebec nation exists and has the right to make choices that are different from those of Canada, and, on the other hand, deny that right by maintaining the federal government's spending power. In the end, the federal government's spending power is its very denial of the Quebec nation.

  (1235)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, it is somewhat sad that a political entity in the House would not support, for example, a senior who is on a fixed income and requires dental services having access to a national dental program. It is somewhat sad that some members would advocate that it is okay to leave a hungry child in a school setting because they do not support a national food program.
    Would the member agree that sometimes we need to put the party aside in the best interest of the constituents we serve?

  (1240)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, what is even sadder is that my colleague's only solution for seniors is the dental care plan. He did not talk at all about what his government is responsible for. Let us be clear. Old age security should be taken care of by his government, which increased the benefits by only 10%, and only for people aged 75 and over. I keep hearing about it every day. Seniors do not understand why his government, which is in charge of this program, has not taken care of people aged 65 to 74. They are falling through the cracks. They do not have more money in their pockets. That is what I do not understand and find very sad.
    As for setting partisanship aside, I will say again that if something is good for Quebec, we will vote in favour of it, and if it is not good for Quebec, we will vote against it. My colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou has worked on the issue of food assistance for children.
    Madam Speaker, I have a very simple question for my colleague. Our leader spoke about this earlier in his speech. The Bloc Québécois voted in favour of the budget allocations. We even heard the leader and some of his Bloc Québécois colleagues say that it was no big deal, that there is no time for that.
    The Liberal Party of Canada's meddling in Quebec's jurisdictions has been apparent for a long time and these budget allocations are partly to blame.
    Why did she vote for those?
    Madam Speaker, here is a lesson in introductory politics and economics. Estimates and allocations, votes on budgets and votes on budgetary allocations are not the same thing. We oppose the Liberal government's really reckless, often ineffective and poorly targeted spending. We voted against the budget. That is how we have shown our opposition to this out-of-control spending.
    Last week, in committee, I asked a question about another example of poorly targeted funding. On one hand, the federal government has hired more public servants, but on the other, it is using external consultants more, and that costs more. I was unable to get an answer about that in committee, by the way.
    It is not in anyone's interest to make the system break down. That is the difference between budgetary allocations and the budget. Obviously, we are opposed to reckless spending, but we must also respect our institutions and those who work for government. It is not in anyone's interest to bring the system to a halt.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will speak directly to the concern that the member raises, which is that of jurisdiction, and the real risk that is present to Québécois, which is the erasure of culture. It is ironic for me in many ways because there are more than two nations in Canada. The Bloc often speaks of just two nations. Turtle Island is founded on the diversity of many nations, of which I am a member in Alberta, particularly the Cree and the Métis.
    The member speaks about freedom and self-determination for Québécois, but we just recently heard that first nations there were concerned about the erasure of their own culture.
    How does the member reconcile the very real difficulty between the self-determination of Québécois and the self-determination of indigenous people in Quebec?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we have always advocated for nation-to-nation dialogue in Quebec with indigenous peoples. Here is another example of what is not working. The federal government is responsible for housing, especially in indigenous communities. We looked at this in committee, and right now, not enough investments are being made in housing for indigenous women and indigenous people.
    Rather than investing in areas that fall under Quebec's jurisdiction, the federal government should look after its own affairs.
    Madam Speaker, I hope you found some spruce gum.
    I have been wondering what approach I should take for this speech. There is so much to say, yet at the same time, so little. I can boil it down to a very apt phrase my grandmother used to say to me when I was little and wanted to play with the pie dough while she cooked for dozens of guests. This saying applies to all kinds of situations, especially when we look at the multiple instances of federal meddling in Quebec's jurisdictions: in all circumstances, if we cannot be helpful, we should refrain from doing harm.
    I could stop there.
    Federalism, by definition, is about pooling some of our resources, establishing priorities and areas where it will be good to do things collectively, identifying what might be advantageous to pay for together and then letting everyone do what they want with the rest of their resources. Quebec has the data, the institutions and the intellectual and organizational capacity to do it best.
    The purpose of federalism is not to impoverish the members that make up the whole. However, it is quite the contrary here in Canada. It does not matter which political party is in charge. This happens under every government, with the aim of dominating the provinces, intruding into everything, spending outrageously, duplicating spending, and demanding more and more in exchange. The proof is that everything keeps getting worse. In the history of Canadian federalism, we have never seen so many conditions attached to such meagre proposals.
    My colleagues across the way would have me believe that, in Quebec, it is only normal that no one cares about where the money comes from, that the important thing is that the money arrives. To all those who believe that myth, I am sorry, but that does not fly in Quebec.
    Why would the federal government change its methods? Ottawa keeps the upper hand by maintaining the fiscal imbalance. That is its self-maintaining power. In a federation, there is a fiscal imbalance when one level of government collects more taxes than it needs to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities, while the other level of government struggles to fund its own areas of responsibility independently because it is underfunded.
    There is a serious fiscal imbalance in Canada at the expense of Quebec and the provinces. It is recognized, and it has been studied and analyzed. The Parliamentary Budget Officer repeats this year after year in his report on the fiscal sustainability of the provinces. At the end of the day, the provinces' finances are not sustainable. As time goes on, the federal government is getting more and more leeway to interfere, because Quebec and the provinces become so financially vulnerable that they are prepared to accept any crumbs rather than have nothing. That is the worst thing. They are forced to give in through deprivation. It is despicable.
    Take health care, for example. The federal government funds a meagre 23% of provincial health care spending. Its constitutional obligation says it could go as high as 50%. The premiers presented a united front and asked for 35%. That would have meant about $6 billion a year for Quebec. Quebec was told that it would receive $900 million a year, but it is still waiting on that.
    Had the federal government fulfilled its yearly obligation to provide the provinces with adequate health care funding, their balance sheet would look very different. We would not be arguing about dental insurance. We would just have it, like we have pharmacare. The issue is not that we do not want dental insurance. The issue is that the federal government is not delivering on its responsibilities. It is not funding provincial health care systems adequately, and the provinces are being forced to accept anything rather than nothing at all. That is how we wound up where we are today. Then the government swoops in like Robin Hood to save the day. After starving people, it throws a few bucks their way to placate them.
    Even under the Harper government, there was centralization of power. There is no status quo in Canada. The middle ground between sovereignty and assimilation, respect for Quebec's autonomy, has always been under attack by every federal party that has ever held power. Quebeckers have a natural, organic, creative impulse that has always driven the unconventional development of our society and kept it ahead of the curve. My background is in entrepreneurship in the regions. We know from hard work, resourcefulness, rational thinking and organizing for efficiency in the regions.

  (1245)  

    That was probably what struck me most when I arrived here in the House. I wondered where I had landed. There was talk about a lot of things that already exist in Quebec. When the rest of Canada wants child care centres and pharmacare like Quebec has, why can the federal government not recognize Quebec's progress and simply give it back its share of the tax contribution, unconditionally? Quebec can simply say no thank you, we already have all that, we want our share and we will determine where to invest that money appropriately, based on where we are at.
    No, they do not want to give us that. They want us to calm down, not get carried away and wait patiently. They want us to pay twice for things we already have, for redundancies that muddy our system and seriously bog down all our incredible, ingenious initiatives that have always been our signature and our strength. We are herded like sheep, sending in our share of the money to be spent as the feds see fit. When it suits them, they send us a little money, just to keep us quiet.
    On this opposition day—and I find these words to be particularly meaningful—we are saying that, for us, depending on a machine that is adding layers of red tape to increase its authority to decide our future with our own money is unacceptable. We Quebeckers are capable of conceiving, building and shaping our society ourselves. The proof is that, despite the many restrictions created in large part by the centralization imposed by the federal government, Quebec has nevertheless managed to provide more social services and win more economic victories over the years than many countries in the world, and that will continue. It will continue because that is who we are as Quebeckers. In Quebec, we speak French and we are close-knit. We support one another and we protect what we have. Our future is green and sustainable, and we are moving towards it with ingenuity and creativity.
    Honestly, being dependent on a federalism that is caught up in its own areas of jurisdiction and feeds its own centralizing habits to excess makes us all the more eager to become independent. The Bloc Québécois is here for just that reason, to stop the federal government from constantly putting things in place to try to keep Quebec in line. The federal government is interfering in our economy, our resources, our public services, our values and our language.
    For Quebec, that is unacceptable.

  (1250)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, much like the Province of Saskatchewan played a very important role in the creation of the Canada Health Act and our national health care system, the Province of Quebec played a very important role in the national child care program we have today and the legislation that was ultimately put in place. That is one of the nice things about the federation. I think about the individuals who would be helped in all regions of the country through the national dental care program and the national food program for children.
    I am wondering why some members in the chamber do not see fit to support those programs, which would help real people, real children and real seniors on fixed incomes. Why would the member not recognize that?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, this goes back to what I was saying earlier: The federal government starves the provinces, it starves Quebec, it underfunds it, and then it comes along like a hero and claims to be nice and kind by finally giving us a few crumbs. The federal government is making seniors poorer. It is leaving the health care system worse off. Think of housing, too. Instead of giving the money to Quebec, which knows perfectly well what to do in its own jurisdictions, the federal government would rather take the money away and impose conditions for writing a cheque, when Quebec is fully competent and capable of doing all this itself.
    Madam Speaker, I am going to put a question to my colleague, who lives just across the water from me, on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. We live in an absolutely extraordinary and exceptionally beautiful province. Isle-aux-Coudres, where my colleague lives, is a phenomenal place. It is right across from where I live. In fact, I jokingly tell her that I watch her with my telescope. I do not, of course.
    I have a very simple question for my colleague, for whom I have the utmost respect and who has an extraordinary voice. Quebec sovereignty, if it ever happens, will happen in Quebec City, not in Ottawa. For more than 30 years now, the Bloc Québécois has been complaining about what the federal government does or does not do with regard to Quebec's needs, even though it knows that the work is going to be done in Quebec City.
    Why does she come sit here in the House and see herself as being in another country? Her salary is paid by all Canadians, but she says she lives in another country. I would like her to just answer my question. Why is she here?

  (1255)  

    Madam Speaker, this is a good opportunity to remind my colleague that, like him, more than 18,000 people democratically placed their trust in me and my voice to represent their interests and convictions and, above all, to exercise extreme vigilance when it comes to federal government manipulation in Quebec's intrusions, among other things. We, the 32 members of the Bloc Québécois, were given this mandate because members of the other parties who are from Quebec failed at the task. That is why I am sitting here, and I am proud of it. When I leave, I am going to buy my chair.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, listening to the member's response on dental care, it feels like sometimes the Bloc is working for François Legault instead of working for Quebeckers. Fifty per cent of Quebeckers do not have dental coverage. I am curious how the member would respond to the Quebeckers who are enthusiastic about dental care, the 600,000 of them who have already registered for the program.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, we share a certain affinity in our way of seeing society. The NDP's values occasionally intersect with ours. On certain matters, however, we have a very hard time seeing eye to eye. We often see the NDP, at the risk of being inconsistent, abandon its values to align itself with a government so it can say that it came up with a certain idea or that it is the one changing people's lives.
    In reality, these are palliative measures. The NDP government's proposals are palliative proposals. What we want is to create an economically healthy Quebec, and that will require the unconditional health transfers that Quebec is owed.
    Madam Speaker, first of all, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Nepean.
    I will begin my remarks by saying that it pains me to see the Bloc and the Conservatives arguing, when they are often on the same wavelength.
    Getting to the substance of my speech, I would like to examine the assumptions underlying this motion. The first is that the federal government is some kind of centralizing monster that is trying to stifle Quebeckers' aspirations. We have been hearing this narrative for as long as I can remember.
    I will provide some concrete examples to illustrate that the federal government does not want to manage everything, whenever possible, even when it comes to its own jurisdictions. It prefers to delegate responsibilities to the provinces so that they can manage their own affairs, even if it is a federal jurisdiction.
    Let us consider the Fisheries Act. It is clearly a federal statute under the Constitution of Canada. The federal government signed an equivalency agreement with Quebec to enable the province to implement this act and its regulations.
    The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is my second example. People had doubts about whether the federal government had jurisdiction in this matter. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that putting a price on greenhouse gas pollution did in fact fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government. The federal government did not say that it wanted this legislation to apply to all the provinces in order to interfere with the provinces and administer this legislation. The federal government simply said that if a province had an equivalent system, as Quebec and British Columbia do, then that province's system would apply. This is a second example of how the federal government does not want to get involved in everything.
    Often, even when it comes to its own jurisdiction, the federal government does not want to get involved and would rather delegate responsibility to the provinces. Immigration is another example of this. Prime Minister Mulroney was a close friend of the member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix. After his passing, she spoke eloquently about his friendship. She used to sing for him and his family. It was very touching. Prime Minister Mulroney signed an agreement with Quebec to allow it to decide who would be a permanent resident in the province of Quebec.
    Yes, some things are centralized. Some things are centralized, but they are centralized for practical and technological reasons. For example, it is nice outside today. Let us talk about the weather. The federal government handles the weather, because technologically speaking, weather forecasts are quite complex. They require extremely sophisticated systems. So the federal government is in charge of that, but it is not centralized to stifle Quebeckers' aspirations. It comes down to practicality. It is better to centralize it than have the provinces operate their own weather forecasting systems.
    Another example is communications. Canada does not have a very big population. We have about 40 million people. That is about the same population as California. I do not know what the population of New York or Florida is. There are not many of us, and we are up against web giants, big companies with enormous financial and technological power.

  (1300)  

    In Canada, we counterbalance that power with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, or CRTC. It tries to protect the cultural interests of Quebec and the rest of Canada by opposing the web giants, in certain situations at least. Many examples show that centralization is not a bad thing. There are other examples where we can see quite clearly that the federal government prefers to have certain files handled by the provinces, even though they fall under its jurisdiction.
    I would also like to refer to point (b) of the motion, where it is requested that the House “remind the Prime Minister that, despite his claims, it is not true that 'people do not care which level of government is responsible for what'”.
    This observation is not very nuanced, and, in response, I would say that it is true in some cases but not in others. When it comes to primary and secondary education, Quebeckers and the citizens of the other provinces are adamant that the federal government should stay out of it. The federal government does not want to get involved. There are no issues there.
    People also assume that post-secondary education is a provincial matter, but let us consider what the Government of Quebec is doing to Concordia University and McGill University. Quebec's CAQ government is chipping away at McGill University, which is ranked 28th in the world. It is a proudly québécois university that many French-speaking Quebeckers attend. If people knew about what is happening between McGill and the Government of Quebec, I think they would ask the federal government to interfere—to interfere financially, I dare say. They would ask the federal government to inject funds to bridge the massive gap. I would have said “make up the shortfall”, but the provincial government really is creating a massive gap.
    I think that the business community, especially the high-tech community, would ask the federal government to interfere financially because these sectors depend on research to move forward. Quebec's prosperity depends heavily on the health of the tech sector. Furthermore, we know that Quebec's business community has concerns about the labour supply.
    I would now like to talk about the pandemic. What happened during the pandemic? The federal government used its spending power to provide what amounted to social assistance to many Canadians and, by the way, to many businesses. Billions and billions of dollars were paid out. There were no complaints back then. Mr. Legault's government was not complaining about federal government interference.
    There was no complaining at the time, and I am not hearing any complaints from Quebeckers about the national dental care program. It is true, in some cases, that Quebeckers are hell-bent on protecting provincial jurisdiction, but in other cases, they want their interests to come first and their needs to be addressed.

  (1305)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech, and I especially thank him for putting something into each sentence of his speech that would provoke questions or reactions from me and other members from the Bloc Québécois. I would need 15 minutes to ask all my questions and challenge my colleague on some of his claims, but I will try to be more constructive.
    First, I would tell him that 82% of Quebeckers who were polled in March want the federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions to be respected. Whether it is about health care or anything else, 82% say that everybody should mind their own business. That is clear.
    I particularly liked the example my colleague gave about the success of centralization when he mentioned the CRTC. This example is of particular interest to me because, first of all, I worked closely with the government to improve the Broadcasting Act with Bill C-11, and because I am a strong supporter of culture, language and all that.
    However, I was taken aback to hear the CRTC characterized as a centralization success story. Without the intervention of the Bloc Québécois, almost no protections for francophone culture and Quebec broadcasters would have been included in Bill C‑11, which the CRTC is currently looking at.
    I would like my colleague to tell us what he thinks of the idea that the Bloc Québécois has been promoting for years: to create what would essentially be a Quebec version of the CRTC to manage more to benefit—
    The hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis.
    Madam Speaker, I am familiar with that idea. I heard those arguments when we were debating Bill C‑11, but I truly believe that there are advantages to having the provinces, the Quebec nation, first nations and every other group of Canadians work together to act as a counterbalance to this power south of the border that I am just as wary of as the member. It takes a counterbalance. If we are divided in 10, each with their own communications regulator, I think that will weaken us in the long term. Honestly, I very sincerely believe that.

  (1310)  

[English]

     Madam Speaker, Toronto is a big city. Montreal is a global city; I think this fact certainly offends many in the Bloc and certain independentists in Quebec, who are constantly undermining Montreal's position. My colleague talked about McGill, which is a world-class university. McGill draws people from around the world to Montreal, not only because of its culture but also because it is an education centre. However, we see McGill having to go to court to defend the right of students to be educated, to challenge the unconstitutional attack on a world-class institution.
    What does my colleague think about a government that attacks an institution that is this respected around the world just for partisan points to please the sovereigntists?
    Madam Speaker, the member has touched on something I care deeply about. With a few others, I met the president of McGill, Deep Saini, yesterday. I thought I knew how badly McGill is being treated by the Quebec government. I did not know the half of it until I really saw the facts. It is the 28th-best university in the world. Its graduates have gone on to create companies such as Intel. What is good for McGill is good for Quebec in many ways. It is good for the Quebec economy and Quebec culture.
     I am quite offended by the fact that the provincial government of Quebec is undermining the province and all its citizens; it does not really matter whether they are French speakers or English speakers. It is undermining the province by targeting two institutions such as McGill and Concordia. I think it is a shame.
    Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to take part in today's debate. I will get straight to the point. Criticizing the federal government's “interference” in provincial and territorial jurisdiction is not only deeply flawed but also quite unfair. It overlooks the collaborative nature of Canada's federal system. By working together, both levels of the government can address complex issues that transcend regional boundaries, fostering a more cohesive and prosperous nation.
    In reality, Canada's unique federal structure grants provinces and territories more autonomy to implement programs and policies tailored to their residents while also providing a platform to showcase their strengths on the global stage. This creates a win-win situation, enabling Canadians, including Quebeckers, to enjoy numerous social and economic benefits unparalleled elsewhere.
    Let me briefly touch on Quebec's unique identity within Canada, which is defined by its rich cultural heritage, distinct language, legal system and historical significance. These elements contribute to Quebec's special status and influence its interaction within the Canadian federation.
    Quebec boasts a vibrant and distinct cultural scene deeply rooted in its French heritage. The province is known for its contributions to literature, music, theatre, cinema and visual arts. Annual events such as the Montreal international jazz festival and the Quebec Winter Carnival celebrate Québécois culture and attract visitors from around the world. The preservation of French culture is central to Quebec's identity and influences its social and political life.
    Quebec's legal system is based on civil law inherited from the French Napoleonic Code, unlike the rest of Canada, which follows the common law system. This difference underscores Quebec's unique legal traditions and governance structures, affecting everything from property rights to family law. Quebec has a distinct historical trajectory within Canada. Quebec has a strong sense of political autonomy. The province has its own immigration policies and pension plan.
    Quebec's education system reflects its unique identity with a distinct structure and curriculum that emphasizes French language and Québécois culture. Institutions like Université de Montréal and Université Laval are key cultural and educational pillars that foster a strong sense of provincial identity.
    Quebec plays a vital role in Canada's economy, with strengths in sectors like aerospace, information technology, biotechnology and energy. The province's economic policies often reflect its unique priorities, including the promotion of French-language businesses and industries.
    Quebec is known for its progressive social policies, including affordable child care, generous parental leave and robust public health care. These policies reflect the province's commitment to social welfare and contribute to its distinct social fabric.
    Quebec's unique identity is a source of pride for its residents and adds to the diversity and richness of the Canadian federation. Balancing this distinctiveness with its role within Canada continues to shape Quebec's social, cultural and political landscape.
    While certain sectors are primarily under provincial jurisdiction in Canada, the federal government can play and has played a significant role in supporting these areas through various mechanisms. The federal government provides financial support to provinces through transfer payments such as the Canada health transfer and the Canada social transfer. These funds help provinces deliver essential services like health care, post-secondary education and social services. Additionally, equalization payments ensure that all provinces, including Quebec, have comparable levels of public services despite differences in revenue-generating capacities.
    The federal government can establish national standards and guidelines to promote consistency and quality across the country. For example, through the Canada Health Act, the federal government sets principles for health care delivery. The federal government can initiate and has initiated targeted funding programs to address specific needs. For example, it has invested in infrastructure projects like highways and public transit systems, thus enhancing transportation networks. It has also funded education initiatives such as skills training and research grants to bolster provincial education systems.

  (1315)  

     Federal and provincial governments, including Quebec, can collaborate and have done so, through intergovernmental agreements. These agreements facilitate joint efforts on shared priorities such as improving health care delivery, addressing climate change and enhancing economic development.
     The federal government can support provinces, including Quebec, by conducting research and sharing data that inform policy decisions. Federal agencies and institutions can provide valuable insights into best practices and emerging trends, helping provinces design effective programs. By leveraging available mechanisms, the federal government has complemented provincial efforts, including Quebec's, ensuring that Canadians have access to high-quality services regardless of where they live.
    With respect to affordability, Canadians in every region and of all ages benefit from the federal government's fiscally responsible and people-driven economic plan. The Canada-wide early learning and child care plan is a great example of collaboration between the federal government and the provinces. We are strengthening the affordable child care system already in place in Quebec by helping to create more child care spaces. We are also supporting about 3.5 million families across Canada annually through the tax-free Canada child benefit. We will continue to work with provinces as we launch a national school food program.
     We have increased old age security benefits for seniors aged 75 and older by 10%. We also delivered the first enhanced quarterly Canada workers' benefit payments to our lowest-paid and often most essential workers, with a family receiving a total benefit of up to $2,616 last year. Our new Canada disability benefit would increase the financial well-being of low-income Canadians with disabilities in every region of the country.
     On top of the laundry list of measures I just mentioned, we are also working with provinces to deliver improved health care to Canadians. Last year, we committed nearly $200 billion over 10 years to strengthen public health care for Canadians, including record health transfers and tailored bilateral agreements. This year, we introduced legislation to launch the first phase of national universal pharmacare in Canada, which would provide universal single-payer coverage for a number of contraception and diabetes medications. We are, of course, making historic investments in affordable dental care, which is essential not only for oral health but also for overall health.
     Thanks to the federal government's efforts to work with provinces to build more housing faster across Canada, together we are on track to build nearly four million homes by the end of 2031.
     We have been steadfast in our efforts to collaborate with provinces and territories to build a better and fairer Canada, and these efforts have indeed borne fruit. However, it is crucial that we maintain the momentum. By continuing to work with our partners at all levels of government, we can drive our economy towards inclusive growth and ensure that the promise of Canada remains attainable for everyone. Therefore, I urge hon. members to reject today's misguided motion.

  (1320)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, what I notice, when I hear the member's comments, is that there is a lack of understanding and a lack of a desire to fully understand the reality of Quebec, which is perhaps a society where the need for this sort of respect for jurisdictions is felt even more strongly.
    I understand the reality of my colleague, who lives in a multicultural environment, where people are not as bothered by the federal government sticking its nose in everywhere. In Quebec, however, the reality is different. What I see is that my colleague does not seem to understand or grasp the distinct nature of the Quebec nation.
    In terms of the federal government's responsibility for health care, for example, the problem is that the federal government is not fulfilling its obligations, which are to transfer money to Quebec and the provinces for the management of their health care systems. This failure to live up to its obligations is creating the problems that Quebec and the provinces are experiencing with their health care systems, and this is preventing them from being able to resolve them. The federal government comes clomping in with its big boots, saying it is going to interfere in the province's areas of jurisdiction and solve its problems.
    I would like to hear from my colleague on this subject, but I would especially like him to reassure me that he does understand the distinct nature of Quebec and certain other regions of Canada that are not necessarily as multicultural as Canada as a whole.

[English]

     Madam Speaker, I think the hon. member does not seem to understand that the Canadian federal system is collaborative in nature. He talked about health care, but in the last speech by one of his colleagues I did not see him react to the question posed by an NDP member about the 600,000 Quebeckers who have registered for the Canada dental care plan. It is not just a question of jurisdiction; what is important is that the affordability issues faced by Canadians should be addressed by all levels of government working collaboratively.
     Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague, and I know that he has a lot of knowledge about economic development and what is happening in the different provinces, particularly in Quebec, around a clean economy and the kind of innovation that we need in order to work toward a better, carbon-free future.
    We know there have been historic investments made in Quebec by Northvolt and in other industries. My question for the member is this: What would happen if the federal government did not make these investments?
     Madam Speaker, indeed Canada is at the forefront of many advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence. Indeed Quebec is quite strong when it comes to the clean economy and knowledge-based industries, especially in artificial intelligence. Quebec is also good in aerospace and other allied industries.
    However, all these industries are on the global stage because of the active involvement of the federal government over a period of time. Without the federal government's investments in these advanced technologies, Quebec would not have attained the position it has, and without continued investments by the federal government, Quebec would not reach the stage where we would see Canada and Quebec's technologies at the forefront of the global knowledge-based economy.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I have the honour of warming up the crowd for my colleague from Terrebonne. I am pleased to do that.
    I listened to a number of the speeches that were given by my colleagues before me. I would like to reread the text of the motion because, obviously, we are going to be talking about it all day. It states, and I quote:
     That the House:
(a) condemn the federal government’s repeated intrusion into the exclusive jurisdictions of Quebec, the provinces and the territories;
(b) remind the Prime Minister that, despite his claims, it is not true that “people do not care which level of government is responsible for what”; and
(c) demand that the government systematically offer Quebec, the provinces and territories the right to opt out unconditionally with full compensation whenever the federal government interferes in their jurisdictions.
    The last sentence is a bit contradictory because the federal government should never interfere in the jurisdictions of Quebec, the provinces and the territories.
    I want to come back to paragraph (b) of our motion today, because earlier, the member for Lac-Saint-Louis referred to it and implied that it was a bit ridiculous. I want to reiterate the part in quotation marks, which states, “people do not care which level of government is responsible for what”. We did not pull that out of thin air. The Prime Minister himself is the one who said that. Members are calling into question the fact that that is not true, but 82% of Quebeckers who were polled in March said that they were concerned about respect for federal, provincial—in this case Quebec—and municipal jurisdictions. That is important. That means that people do care, to use the words of the Prime Minister.
    Nothing annoys me more than someone who does not mind their own business and comes in and does something that is someone else's responsibility just so they can take credit for it. Imagine if today I decided to recognize a member rising on a point of order. You would tell me to sit down in short order, Madam Speaker, and rightly so. That is how Quebeckers feel when the federal government barges in on our jurisdictions. This tension between the federal government and Quebec over respect for jurisdictions is nothing new, and it is not just a matter of sovereignists trying to pick a fight. Robert Bourassa complained about it. Was there anyone more federalist and Liberal than him in Quebec provincial politics?
    Federal interference is seen not only as a violation of Quebec's and the provinces' autonomy, but also as an obstacle to the development and vitality of the Quebec nation. Nearly all successive governments in the National Assembly have felt that way. I repeat: 82% of Quebeckers believe that the federal government should mind its own business. Elected officials are not the only ones who think so.
    When we ask the government to mind its own business, it should start by doing what it is expected to do properly. For example, it should find out where taxpayers' money is going before it realizes that $1 billion has been wasted on consultants or small businesses that are not always competent and that are hired to do things like create an app to manage incoming travellers at the border during a pandemic. That is just an example, of course.
    Minding its own business also means fixing the Phoenix fiasco. Even today, we members—I am not the only one—still have to help our constituents, who are often owed tens of thousands of dollars by the government. They live in the kind of hardship we would not wish on anyone, and which is certainly undeserved, given the efforts they have put into saving for retirement all their lives. They come to our offices because the government still owes them $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 because of the problems with Phoenix, which it is unable to solve.
    Minding its own business also means not trying to impose conditions on health transfers to Quebec and the provinces, because the federal government knows nothing about Quebec's health care system. In fact, by not contributing to the health care system in Quebec and the provinces, it has contributed to the health care disaster we are currently experiencing. Now, I am certain I am going to hear the NDP and the Liberals stand up and say that 600,000 Quebeckers are happy to have a dental plan. However, if the federal government had transferred adequate amounts to Quebec and the provinces over the years so they could fund their health care systems, and if Quebeckers wanted a dental plan that covered everyone, we would have the means to afford it, just as we have introduced pharmacare and child care. We are capable of creating social programs that reflect the richness of the Quebec nation and its values.

  (1330)  

    Minding its own business also means no longer pretending to care about seniors. I know I am hitting a nerve with my colleague from Shefford. People aged 65 to 74 are being left to suffer in poverty because the federal government does not want to include them in its plan to increase old age pensions. It is completely ridiculous, inexplicable and inexcusable. Not a week goes by that I do not receive emails and calls from my constituents aged 65 to 74, who are wondering what is going on. They are wondering if they are going to get the increase. The answer is no.
    The Bloc Québécois continues to work on this issue. Seniors aged 65 to 74 can rest assured that we will always be on their side.
    We will also be there for people aged 75 and over in order to ensure fairness. We do not want two classes of seniors. If the federal government would mind its own business and look after its own affairs like everyone else does, we would not be in this situation.
     Minding its own business also means no longer pretending to care about defending French, considering the members opposite want to challenge Bill 96, a law that was democratically passed by the National Assembly of Quebec, which knows better than Ottawa how to counter the decline of French in Quebec, in Canada and even in North America. Quebec is the last francophone bastion in North America; it is the cradle of French culture and the French language. No one knows better than Quebec how to defend the French language and reverse its decline.
    The concept of federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions is taught in Quebec schools in grade 10. This means that in Quebec, 14- and 15-year-old students know what falls under federal jurisdiction, what falls under Quebec's jurisdiction, and what falls under municipal jurisdiction. They learn this at school when they are 14 or 15 years old. These young people learn that and take an interest in politics for a little while. They look at what is going on, and then they see that the Parliament in Ottawa is completely out in left field. It is not minding its own business at all. They scratch their heads and wonder why adults who have been elected to Parliament do not even know something they just learned at school at the age of 14.
    There is an explanation for that. For some time now, we have been witnessing the exploitation of people's ignorance. The public is being bombarded with insipid, meaningless slogans. Crass disinformation is being propagated left and right—mostly from the right—but we see that it is working. People swallow it without asking too many questions. This is sad and dangerous for democracy.
    One of the teachings of Socrates—this is going to make me sound learned—says that a democracy can only work if the people are educated. These are worrying times where politicians are exploiting ignorance rather than contributing to building a better-informed society and citizens capable of critical thinking. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to do the right thing, to respect the institutions, to respect our duty to our constituents. That means respecting the powers of each level of government and the fact that each level of government must do its job properly.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.
    I would like to ask him a question that I have already asked. I would like to hear his comments.
    Does he think that the members of the Bloc Québécois, who surely represent their constituents, represent the Government of Quebec?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague from Châteauguay—Lacolle.
    If she follows the workings of the House a bit—and I am sure she does so diligently—she knows very well that the Bloc Québécois represents the Quebec National Assembly, the elected representatives of the people of Quebec and, ideally, the consensus of the National Assembly. Above all, we respect, first and foremost, the decisions that are made in Quebec's National Assembly, because that is what best represents the interests of Quebeckers.

  (1335)  

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Drummond for warming up the room. It feels like enthusiasm for respecting jurisdictions has reached a fever pitch.
    I have a question for him about the legitimacy of the Liberal government's intrusion into Quebec's jurisdictions, knowing that it received a minority mandate.
    I would like my colleague to say a few words about that.
    Madam Speaker, I hope I have 15 minutes to answer the question asked by my colleague from Terrebonne, because I have a lot to say on the matter.
    It is disturbing to see that a government given a minority mandate by the people, instead of respecting the will of the people, would sidle up to another opposition party and govern as a majority government would, with policies and legislation that, perhaps well-intentioned, nevertheless violate certain principles, including respect for the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces.
    No, I do not think the government has the legitimacy to govern as it is governing.
     Madam Speaker, on Monday, we celebrated National Patriots Day. Our patriots fought and were sometimes exiled or even hanged for defending Quebeckers' right to manage their own affairs.
    In 1838, following the patriots' rebellion, Quebec lay in ruins. As the fires of British repression raged, one thought prevailed: How do we rid ourselves of these darn francophones who refuse to bow down to Queen Victoria and the interests of the British businessmen who dominate the colony? What can we do to create a dominion loyal to the British Empire and stop Quebeckers from rebelling again?
    The solution was obvious: Announce the creation of a confederation. In a confederation, the provinces have most of the power. Quebeckers can govern themselves in peace without too much interference. Later, we can impose a federation on them without asking their opinion. Boom! Just like that, the Canadian federation was born, with a nice lie at the starting gate so the francophones would no longer rise up.
    In English Canada, however, the measure did not meet with unanimous approval. Why make concessions to the losers? The Constitution of 1867 was therefore based on a lie designed to reconcile the irreconcilable: on the one hand, the Quebec people's desire for self-determination, and on the other, the desire for unity of the citizens of British origin. The whole history of the federal system is there, a tug-of-war between those who believe the real power is in Quebec and those who believe the real power is in Ottawa.
    It is ironic that I, a separatist MP, have to remind the House yet again of how the Canadian Constitution works, whereas the government never misses an opportunity to remind us that the Constitution should not be touched and to say that all the issues related to it do not matter to Canadians and Quebeckers or that Quebeckers do not care about jurisdictions.
    It is all the more ironic given that the Constitution I am talking about is the one that was imposed in secret by the father of the current Prime Minister, during the night of the long knives in 1982. Since then, the Liberal Party's tendency has grown stronger. Increasingly, English-speaking Canada wants Ottawa to be its real government, the one that manages the bulk of public services. Conversely, Quebec has made a different choice. All the polls show it, as my colleagues have pointed out. When Quebeckers are asked whether Quebec or Ottawa should manage each area of jurisdiction in isolation, they overwhelmingly answer Quebec, every time.
    Many of the measures presented in the latest budget, for example, have noble objectives: to take care of people affected by the difficult economic conditions we face today. The problem is that these measures do not reflect the different realities. I do not think I am teaching my colleagues anything when I say that Canada, in its current state, is quite diverse. Realities are very different in Quebec and in Alberta, for example.
    However, with all the good faith in the world, it was inevitable that, without prior consultation with the provinces, the programs would be ill adapted. Health and housing are not federal responsibilities. The House of Commons has no business touching those things. Why? Because Quebeckers believe their real government is in Quebec City. As long as that is the case, the concept of the fiscal imbalance will persist. By fiscal imbalance, I mean the fact that the provinces have insufficient financial means to fulfill their own responsibilities, while the federal government could, if it wished, record surpluses—we do not know how it manages to run a deficit—to fulfill the responsibilities that flow from its jurisdictions. Bernard Landry once said that the needs are in the provinces, but the money is in Ottawa.
    Although the federal government tries to deny its existence, the fiscal imbalance is a well-known concept and a major issue that has been recognized since the 1990s. As the population ages, the cost of Quebec's social programs is rising rapidly. The Government of Quebec alone should determine where social program funds should go. Since Quebec is systematically underfunded, we might wonder, and we often do, whether the Liberal Party believes a Quebecker is worth less than a Canadian.
    The Government of Quebec is shouting itself hoarse asking for health transfers. What does the federal government have to say in response? It responds with even more intrusions into Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. In the specific case of the dental insurance program we are talking about today, it is an intrusion into a program already covered by the Quebec health insurance plan. Yes, I would like to remind my friends in the NDP that the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec is a public body with no plans to make money off taxpayers, as the federal government's dental care program would do. If the proposed dental cheques policy is so bad, it is because the government still stubbornly refuses to consult Quebec and the provinces when designing its programs.

  (1340)  

    What is more, because of Quebec's progressive labour code, the rate of unionization and group insurance is higher in Quebec than anywhere else in North America, making workers ineligible for the federal programs. It is always Quebec that pays for the federal government's slowness, because it created a good social safety net for itself long before the federal government thought of doing it.
    Why can the federal government not help itself from intruding where it does not belong when it cannot even take care of its own responsibilities properly? I have a theory. I think it wants to kill the concept of fiscal imbalance. It is simple: Instead of fixing it, the government will make it disappear. Think about it. Instead of sending health transfers to the provinces or giving Quebec the right to opt out with full compensation, it creates a unitary government where there is no longer a division of powers. By gradually eroding the powers of the provinces, it will do away with the concept of the fiscal imbalance, where the needs are in the provinces but the money is in Ottawa. The fiscal imbalance is not fixed, but it no longer exists.
    However, if the federal government wants to convince the public that it is capable of becoming a unitary state with sweeping powers, perhaps it should start by showing that it is capable of at least looking after its own areas of jurisdiction, the things that are truly its responsibility. Do I need to mention again, as I have done on many occasions in the House, ArriveCAN or the billions of dollars that, for years, have been going to companies that deliver no services except those they subcontract out with very high commissions?
     Once again, we learn something new every week. Instead of cleaning up its own agencies, the federal government is promoting employees who openly broke the code of conduct. Employees who went out for drinks and dinner with GC Strategies got promoted. That is outrageous. The federal government is not looking after its own areas of jurisdiction, yet it is meddling even more in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces.
    The crux of this debate is really the federal government's role. If our colleagues want a unitary state where all decisions are made in Ottawa, they should just come out and say it. Some countries do it that way. It is a vision that can be defended. However, it would mean reopening the Constitution, which scares them. I am convinced that Quebeckers will never agree to lose their autonomy and their powers.
     My colleagues from the other parties say they are federalists. They should be federalists, then. They should accept that they do not have all the power, and they should trust Quebec and the provinces to take care of their own jurisdictions. Once we recognize the fiscal imbalance issue, which will remain as long as Canada is governed by the current Constitution, on the one hand, and by the need to take action to help our people, on the other, the House will have to ask itself some real questions. When the federal system was set up, the major needs were things that fell under federal jurisdiction: fighting in the British Empire's wars to take over the Boer diamond mines, building armoured ships for that empire and destroying indigenous nations through famines, reservations and residential schools. Those were the federal government's priorities back when the federal regime was created. It had real needs and it dipped into the provinces' finances.
    However, in 2024, the real needs are in Quebec and the provinces. The solutions to the real problems are also in the hands of the Quebec and provincial governments. If the House really wants to help people with housing or their children's dental care, it should stop and think. Instead of thinking up nationwide projects that are bound to be ill adapted, the federal government should abandon its ambitions of controlling everything. It should eliminate the fiscal imbalance. It should give Quebec and the provinces the means to take care of their people. If not, it should be sincere—something that is often lacking in the House—and reopen the Constitution once and for all. The Government of Canada should just become a unitary government and put it to the people to see how they respond, unless it is too afraid that, this time, Quebeckers will tell it once and for all that they are really leaving.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, I really appreciated my colleague's speech. We work together on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Her diligent work on public accounts is really important, and it shows how attentive she is to detail.
    Since she used to work as a financial consultant, I know that she fully understands how important funding for any project is. That is where the federal government is a real partner with the provinces, especially Quebec. One example that comes to mind is the lack of connectivity in my region. That was a big problem about 10 years ago. I was one of the people who argued that it needed to be dealt with by the provinces. It was Quebec that dealt with Hydro-Québec for telecommunications poles, but the federal government provided more than $1 billion.
    Does my colleague think it is a good idea to work together like that?
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. This is a good example of what the Constitution says. There was no Internet when the Constitution was created, when the federal system was created.
    All new powers belong to the federal government, and for once, the government acted with respect for jurisdictions. For once, the federal government handed over the money to Quebec, and it was a victory for the Bloc Québécois. As a result, Quebec became the province with the best connectivity in Canada. Thanks to the Bloc Québécois, which pressured the federal government into accepting its responsibilities and sending money to Quebec so that it could do what needed to be done, everything was resolved.
    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.
    I began my speech earlier by mentioning how intimidating it was to speak after my colleagues who had started off the debate on our opposition day and before those who would speak after me.
    I congratulate my colleague on her speech. She did a great job explaining today's theme. However, I would like her to talk a bit about the Conservatives' silence. Nobody seems too keen to talk about that today. Is it perhaps because, to help solve the housing crisis, the Leader of the Opposition proposed including conditions in his bill? Is it perhaps because the Conservatives have announced that they will probably oppose Bill 21 and challenge Quebec's call for secularism? Is it simply because the Conservatives are not prepared to honour the request from Quebec and the provinces to increase health transfers to 35%?
    It is all well and good to say that they are not going to impose conditions, but if they do not meet the main demand, which is to significantly increase transfers, the problem will not be solved. Could this explain some of the Conservatives' silence?
    Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question.
    Maybe if I said the words “tax” and “carbon”, they would finally have a reason to stand up and speak, but today we are talking about something else that should be top of mind for them, and that is Quebec.
    I think that party believes it can take power by completely ignoring the needs of Quebeckers. That is what it is doing today; it is ignoring what we want.
    As my colleague said, the other reason is internal division. The old Conservatives respect jurisdictions, but the new ones, the neo-Conservatives, do not really understand the concept of separate jurisdictions. They want a hand in everything under the sun because they are driven by populism and lowest-common-denominator politics.

  (1350)  

    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise and take advantage of the unwillingness of Conservative, Liberal and NDP members to ask questions following the speech by my colleague from Terrebonne. Let me correct what I just said: A Liberal member did rise earlier. I understand that this may be a somewhat sensitive topic for the parties that would like to make gains in Quebec. We know that this is a matter of concern to Quebeckers.
    Earlier, my colleague mentioned a Bloc Québécois win, namely the fact that the federal government transferred funds to Quebec to bring high-speed Internet to all regions of Quebec. The program has worked better in the hands of the Government of Quebec, because the federal government had been dawdling for years. There are still problems of this nature, especially when it comes to cellphone coverage. There are a lot of problems like that.
    Does my colleague not think that, ultimately, the federal government should simply redistribute the money to Quebec and the provinces so that matters are resolved within a reasonable time frame and in a more competent manner?
    The honourable member for Terrebonne's response needs to be brief.
    The answer is: absolutely.
    Every time the federal government has transferred funds to Quebec, the problem has naturally been solved. Quebec was one of the forerunners in terms of high connectivity in the regions and in terms of cellular connection.
    The less the federal government touches provincial and Quebec issues, the better off the provinces are. Again, until Quebec becomes independent, all we want are health transfers and, of course —
    Unfortunately, we have to resume debate.
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the motion brought forward by the Bloc today, because it really demonstrates a great deal of contrast. On the one hand, we have what I would classify as the unholy alliance between the Conservatives, or Reformers, and the Bloc party. That unholy alliance believes that Canada does not have a role to play when it comes to providing services like health care. I asked the leader of the Conservative Party about that earlier today. They do not believe there is a need for a national dental program, even though thousands and thousands of Canadians in all regions of our country are signing up and are benefiting from that program.
    Just recently, the Prime Minister of Canada was in the province of Manitoba, in the north end of Winnipeg. We were talking about about a national school food program, which would put food and nutrition in the stomachs of children so they would better be able to learn. We are seeing these types of national programs. Where are the Bloc and the Conservatives on this? They are saying no. That is putting partisan party politics ahead of the constituents they represent, because these programs are very important.
    I think of former prime minister Mackenzie King. When he was prime minister, he brought forward programs to deal with things like pensions for seniors, the OAS and unemployment insurance. He brought forward the family allowance. Let us compare those programs, in which people in all regions of the country believe, with the types of programs we have brought in over the last number of years. What is consistent is that the separatists, the Bloc, continue to say no, and the Conservatives support the Bloc on that. They do not think Ottawa should be focusing on what they deem as provincial responsibility. That is not taking responsibility for what Canadians are telling us.
     Canadians understand and appreciate the value of a national child care program. Much like how a health care program started in Saskatchewan and was helpful in that province, the Province of Quebec had a wonderful child care program. We were able to take that program and turn it into a national child care program. It is not just some people in one region of the country who have benefited; all of Canada now benefits, because we have a national child care program, something the Conservative Party has said it will rip up.
     I have asked questions about health care, something Canadians value so much. The Conservative Party, the official opposition with its Tory hidden agenda, the Reformers across the way, does not support health care, nowhere near the degree to which we do. The Conservative Party would be lucky if it maintained the financial transfers. We can look at what we have done. Right from the beginning, we negotiated with provinces and came up with health care accords that would ensure there would be ongoing co-operation in delivering the type of health care services that Canadians expect coast to coast to coast. There is the difference.
     We invested just under $200 billion in health care so that future generations of Canadians would have the quality health care system they deserved. Again, we have the Conservatives saying no. The Conservative Party is in opposition to many of the progressive measures that are making a real difference in our communities, whether it is child care, the dental program or the pharmacare program. These programs will help thousands of Canadians throughout the country, but the Conservative Party does not support those types of initiatives.

  (1355)  

    All the Conservatives want to talk about are their bumper sticker issues. They want to be critical of the government and do character assassinations. That is where their focus is. We can compare and contrast that to a government that understands.
    Let us look at the budget. Members will see in the budget a true reflection of what Canadians want to see because we have members of Parliament who are committed to listening to their constituents. They take those ideas, bring them here to Ottawa and implement them in public policy. That is why we have a national pharmacare program and a national child care program. It is because we understand the needs of Canadians. We want to be there to provide supports.
    I find it hard to imagine how members of the Bloc, the separatist party, would put their separatist attitudes ahead of the constituents they represent. There are literally thousands of people in the province of Quebec, as an example, who are going to benefit from the dental program. They are registered to receive dental benefits. These are seniors on fixed incomes. Bloc members have chosen their separatist attitude to break up the country over seniors on fixed incomes. I find that sad.
    I believe, whether we are talking about a senior living in Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, B.C., or anywhere in between, including up north, providing these types of national programs makes a difference. William Mackenzie King demonstrated that through the many programs he put in place, and these are programs that we value today. We recognize those programs as a part of our Canadian identity. I suggest the types of programs we are bringing in today are going to make a profoundly positive impact on the Confederation. These are the types of services that are going to be there for years ahead.
    The greatest threat to the services I am talking about is the Reform Party members across the way. They are so far to the right that they do not put the constituents, the people of Canada, first and foremost. They are prepared to cut. They will not hesitate to cut back on child care, pharmacare or dental programs. They would cut them instead of providing those programs the opportunity to be there for Canadians or expanding upon them. We all should be concerned about that.
    I would love to see an election based on the Confederation, on the Canadian flag.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

  (1400)  

[English]

Lupus Awareness Month

     Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize May as Lupus Awareness Month. Lupus is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation that can affect anyone at any point in their life. Over one in every thousand Canadians has been diagnosed, a process that takes seven years, on average.
    Treating lupus requires a comprehensive plan that often includes medication and consistent health care supervision, while considering the costs and barriers associated with care. As our government remains committed to ensuring access to equitable care and treatment within our health care system for all Canadians, it is important to raise awareness and drive change during Lupus Awareness Month and beyond. I thank Lupus Canada for the work it does as we strive to continue improving health outcomes for all Canadians.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the Prime Minister, life has become so expensive that more of our Canadians are having difficulty feeding themselves and their families. The Medicine Hat Root Cellar Food and Wellness Hub, which is our food bank, has seen a 170% increase in clients since 2019, a 36% growth in the last year alone.
    Over 2,700 individuals per month require emergency food in my community, and 63% of those are new food bank users. Overwhelmingly, these clients state that the reason for needing to access emergency food is the inflationary rise in the cost of living. The Root Cellar is having difficulty securing enough food to meet its increased needs. Many of its previous middle-class donors have fallen into poverty, and scores of businesses who were once donors are now also unable to support in the same capacity, all due to the country's economic crisis.
    These are the real-life consequences of the failed economic policies the NDP-Liberal coalition government has inflicted on Canadians. Life was not like this before the Prime Minister, and it will not be like this after Conservatives fix the mess.

[Translation]

Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau

    Mr. Speaker, at the end of May, the Université de Moncton will award an honorary Doctor of Arts degree to Ms. Virginia Pesemapeo Bordeleau. Born in James Bay, Ms. Pesemapeo Bordeleau is a multidisciplinary Eeyou artist. For over 40 years, she has exhibited her vibrantly coloured surrealist paintings in Quebec, Canada, Europe and Mexico.
    Author of three novels, three collections of poetry, a children's book, correspondence and short stories, this is not her first honour. I do not have the time to list all the honours she has been awarded. In 2020, she was awarded the Prix de l'Artiste de l'année en Abitibi-Témiscamingue by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. In 2021, she received the Médaille de l'Assemblée nationale du Québec for her body of work. Also in 2023, she was named Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes académiques of the French Republic.
    It is in Senneterre that she continues to paint, disseminate culture, sculpt and, of course, write.
    I want to congratulate Ms. Pesemapeo Bordeleau for this much-deserved new honour.

[English]

Mining Industry

     Mr. Speaker, in a recent Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities conference, community leaders came together to unite on how to continue unlocking the north's potential. This includes supporting and expanding the north's prosperous mining sector, which is a major leader of the green energy transition. Last week, the federal government announced $11 million for EV battery-operated vehicles at the Onaping Depth underground mine in Nickel Belt.

[Translation]

    Whether we are talking about mining, the paper or forestry industry and other sectors of economic development, northern Ontario continues to offer solutions.
    The “BEV In Depth: Mines to Mobility” conference will be held at Cambrian College. Industry experts will explore the challenges of establishing entire supply chains in battery manufacturing for electric vehicles.
    The member for Sudbury and I will be there. We encourage all members to attend.

  (1405)  

[English]

Justice

     Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, crime, chaos and disorder are getting much worse in Saskatoon. In neighbourhood after neighbourhood, the government-fuelled opioid crime spree is hurting everyday, common-sense Canadians.
    The Liberal-funded supervised drug consumption site on 20th Street has created a chaotic and dangerous situation for residents. The local dentist, who cleans up garbage and human feces on a daily basis, was assaulted, and she has had to delay appointments because her clients could not get into the building. Last week, Canada Post stopped deliveries to the area because of the rampant drug use and crime. In the Fairhaven area, a new 106-bed shelter has attracted chaos and disorder to a formerly calm neighbourhood. The mayor has acknowledged that tent encampments have tripled in the past year, pushing locals out of their park and making residents fearful to go outside, even during the day.
    This is Saskatoon after nine years of the NDP-Liberal's so-called harm reduction. The only way out would be a new Conservative government, which would finally end the drugs and stop the crime.

World Heavyweight Boxing Champion

    Mr. Speaker, last Saturday night, Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk defeated much bigger fighter Tyson Fury to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, the first in 24 years. Ironically, Fury himself first became a champion in beating another Ukrainian fighter, Wladimir Klitschko, the brother of the current mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine.
    As Ukraine continues to defend itself against a much larger Russian invader, it has been struggling to hold the front line in recent weeks, largely due to a shortage of ammunition, which is thankfully starting to arrive from the United States. Saturday was a great victory for Usyk, a great victory for boxing and, most of all, a great victory for Ukraine, as Usyk showed the world how, with sufficient heart, strength and intelligence, a smaller fighter can always defeat a larger one.
    Slava Ukraini.

Mining Industry

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to materials, anything that is not grown is mined. Canada's rich critical minerals resources are a generational economic opportunity. These minerals are the building blocks of clean technologies, from lithium in EV batteries to copper transmission lines and so much more that the world needs to build a prosperous and sustainable future.
    Our $100-billion mining industry supports 700,000 direct and indirect jobs, including those in my riding of Sudbury. This is an industry with many well-paying union jobs that we are proud of. We are unlocking our critical minerals future through our $3.8-billion strategy, including an infrastructure fund, an R and D program, tax credits and indigenous partnership programs.
    We owe it to our mining businesses, our innovators and, most of all, the upcoming generations of workers to make sure the Canadian economy will thrive in a changing world, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Vehicle Theft

     Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's soft-on-crime agenda has led to a crime wave of motor vehicle theft, and Canadians are paying the cost. The cost of insurance claims for auto theft has skyrocketed to $1.5 billion, smashing the previous record. Not only are Canadians having their vehicles stolen, but they are also facing higher insurance premiums, thanks to the Liberal government's refusal to crack down on auto theft. In Ontario alone, the Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated that auto thefts added an extra $130 to insurance payments last year, and that number is set to go up again.
    Conservatives would hit the brakes on auto theft. We would end the Liberal's catch-and-release justice system, which gives bail to repeat offenders within hours of their arrest, and we would repeal Bill C-5 to take away house arrest for auto theft, so criminals could no longer walk out their front door to steal another car. Our common-sense plan would protect people's property and bring home safe streets.

Heart Lake Turtle Troopers

     Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to recognize an organization in my community that takes environmental conservation to heart. The Heart Lake Turtle Troopers was recently named Brampton's 2024 Grow Green Environmental Award winner.
    Heart Lake Turtle Troopers volunteers not only save injured turtles and build and maintain nest protectors to keep them safe, but also collect data and run education campaigns to secure the future of conservation for these turtles. This is a grassroots organization that started out with only two members and now has a community of volunteers. Protecting our planet is all of our responsibility, and this organization is proof that small actions can have a big impact.
    I congratulate the Heart Lake Turtle Troopers and thank it for all the work it does for conservation in our community.

  (1410)  

Taiwan

     Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today in support of Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly. Taiwan's exclusion from global health initiatives is a significant gap in global health security that must be addressed. Despite Taiwan's significant contributions to global health worldwide through providing aid and assistance to many countries, it has faced obstacles in fully participating in WHO initiatives.
    Taiwan's inclusion into the World Health Assembly would not only benefit its citizens but also the global community. Considering the upcoming WHA meeting from May 27 to June 1, I urge the World Health Organization and its members to recognize Taiwan's efforts in and contributions to global health and to grant it full participation in the World Health Assembly. I urge it to let Taiwan help. It has lots to offer.

4-H Canada

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, the Liberal-NDP government is not worth the cost to Canadian farmers. This time, it is cutting funding to one of our most successful volunteer organizations. For 111 years, 4-H Canada has been teaching Canadian youth about community, farming and leadership, but in one of his first moves, the Liberal agriculture minister celebrated this incredible milestone by slashing funding to 4-H by 30%. This has forced it to restructure and put incredible programs, such as the Citizenship Congress, at risk. 4-H'ers learn by doing, working hard to promote sustainable agriculture and teach Canadians about where their food comes from.
     Conservatives understand the importance of Canadian agriculture and being a champion for Canadian youth, who are going to be driving innovation and future economic growth. That is why a future Conservative government will reverse the Liberal funding cuts to 4-H by diverting millions of dollars from Agriculture Canada, because our priority is not going to be useless consultants; our priority is Canadian youth programs, such as 4-H.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Liberal-NDP Prime Minister, more Canadians are hungry and homeless. The Parliamentary Budget Officer agrees. According to his report, the government is failing to meet its target of ending homelessness. In fact, it is getting worse, increasing by 88% between 2018 and 2022, with nearly 80% purely based on affordability reasons.
    Since then, with the help of its NDP enablers and grocery store lobbyist connections, food inflation is at a 40-year high. This is a direct result of a government that has refused to take responsibility for its actions. The response is always the same on its failures: “It's not our fault, but don't worry, we will fix it later.”
     The alarming stats on homelessness are outright insulting. These are not just numbers; these are people. After nearly a decade of having the Liberals in power, Canada is not recognizable. It looks more like it did in 1934, not like it should in 2024, nor like it will under a common-sense Conservative government.

[Translation]

Sylvie Brunelle

    Mr. Speaker, what is more unifying than a public market, a gathering place for the community, a showcase for our farmers and local artisans? With Sylvie Brunelle, the Marché de la gare de Sherbrooke has also become a place where magic happens. As the coordinator for the station market corporation, Ms. Brunelle has, over the years, been able to bring local actors together to put on incredible events for the people of Sherbrooke.
    A visit to the Christmas market has become a tradition for many Sherbrooke families. Ms. Brunelle never hesitates to pitch in to energize her events. She even plays the role of Mrs. Claus, to the delight of the little ones. She is also very involved in welcoming young entrepreneurs during the holiday season so that they can have their first sales experience.
    Ms. Brunelle has decided to take on new endeavours and I wish her all the best. On behalf of the people of Sherbrooke, I thank Ms. Brunelle for her involvement in our community.

  (1415)  

[English]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, this past week, three more countries announced that they will be formally recognizing Palestine as a state. Around the world, the overwhelming reaction has been “it's about time”. This means that 143 countries will recognize Palestine as a state. They recognize that Palestinian statehood is something that is not granted; rather, it is an inherent right.
    We are also seeing how empty the words are of those who support a two-state solution but argue that there should not be a recognition of Palestinian statehood unless it is negotiated. That brings us to the Liberal government. At a critical time in history, the Liberals stand for everything and nothing. Where do they actually stand on Palestinian statehood?
    If there is one lesson from history, it is that it did not just happen. The conflict in Palestine did not just happen. A two-state solution is needed to build peace. It requires two states and the political will to make this happen.
    Our message in the Parliament should be clear: If one is not part of the solution, one is part of the problem. Recognizing Palestine as a state is being part of the solution. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs must take a stand for peace, for security, for justice.

[Translation]

Dépanneur Saint-François

    Mr. Speaker, we know a thing or two about helping and supporting one another in Lac-Saint-Jean.
    More than five years ago, the municipality of Saint-François-de-Sales, in my riding, became a true food desert with the closure of the only grocery store in the community. It was nearly impossible for many seniors to travel to the major centres so the community rolled up its sleeves and came up with a solution. That is how the Dépanneur Saint-François came to be.
    Open year round, seven hours a day, four days a week, the convenience store is run entirely by volunteers. In fact, it was the volunteers who came up with the idea for the store and they are the ones who continue to ensure its operation. It comes as no surprise that the Saint-François convenience store is the pride of the municipality and a model that proves that in Lac‑Saint‑Jean we have gumption and we never hesitate to pull together.
    To all these volunteers whose involvement makes a real difference in our community, I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

[English]

Rex Murphy

    Mr. Speaker, today, I rise in equal parts sadness and gratitude to honour the incredible life of a great Canadian, Rex Murphy. Rex was born a proud Newfoundlander. He became known as a pugnacious critic of those in power, even Joey Smallwood, and that was not easy in those days. He would go on to be a political assistant, for both major political parties in that province, and then a national voice.
    Rex would give fantastic, spectacular rants on the CBC. Yes, even I watched the CBC to listen to Rex. He would then go on to host Cross Country Checkup, where he would listen with compassion and respect to the voices of the common people. He would write many pieces of good works in poetry, storytelling and polemics. His voice will now be missed by all.
     I join all Canadians in giving our thanks to Rex for all he did. May he rest in the peace of God.

Military Veterans Wellness Program

     Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the work of the military veterans wellness program, championed by Constable Aaron Dale of the Toronto police. This program provides increased training and awareness for law enforcement assisting veterans in crisis.
    In my riding, constables David Cassidy and Brian Serapiglia have been instrumental in bringing the program to Waterloo region. Thanks to their initiative, we can provide our first responders with a better understanding of military culture and de-escalation training, and we can rapidly refer veterans to national support services. This partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada has expanded to 80 police forces, helping over 200 veterans to date.
     I encourage all my colleagues in the House to reach out to their local law enforcement to ensure that they have access to this incredible free program. Together, we can equip Canadian law enforcement with the tools they need to support veterans across Canada.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Government Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, it is clear that the Prime Minister is not worth the cost. Homelessness is up by 38% and a quarter of Canadians skip meals because they cannot afford to eat. The Bloc voted for $500 billion in centralist, inflationary spending to hire an additional 100,000 public servants and double spending on consultants. It says it had no choice, because the government would shut down otherwise.
    Could the government inform the Bloc that this spending was going to pass with the NDP's help, regardless of how the Bloc voted?

  (1420)  

    The Conservative Party uses the word “homelessness”, yet that word does not even appear in its platform or plan. I find it hypocritical coming from a party that, in the House, has voted against every measure that aims to put a roof over Canadians' heads. I think the Conservative Party needs to do some soul-searching about its true intentions when it comes to fighting homelessness.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister doubled the national debt and raised taxes and inflation on the grounds that all that money would fund generous programs to eliminate homelessness. Since then, homelessness has increased by 38%, and one-quarter of Canadians are skipping meals because they do not have enough money. With the support of the Bloc, the government is consuming every penny Canadians have.
    Why is the Liberal Bloc forcing Canadians to feed this obese government instead of their families?
    That party voted against the school food program. When we talk about feeding Canadians, we start with children, but they voted against that. We say that people are out of money and that we are helping them, but they voted against the Canada child benefit. When we tell them that we are going to help Canadians put a roof over their heads and pay their rent, they vote against it.
    Would they please make up their minds? Do they want to help Canadians or cut their services?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister is not worth the homelessness and hunger. He doubled the debt, increased taxes and caused inflation, but he said it was all to fund generous programs that would end homelessness. Homelessness is now up 38%, and a quarter of Canadians are skipping meals because they cannot afford them. That is because his greedy government is consuming everything Canadians earn.
    Why are the NDP and Liberals forcing Canadians to feed this morbidly obese government instead of feeding their families?
     Mr. Speaker, we will take no lessons from the Conservatives, who purport to care about poverty and Canadians, when every single time they vote against supports, such as $10-a-day child care and early learning and childhood education. They are not supporting our budgetary measures to put food in school lunch boxes for 400,000 children. It is unbelievable that, on the one hand, they say they support Canadians, but, on the other hand, they vote against those supports every single time.
    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful the member points out that we have voted against every single policy that has caused homelessness to rise by 38%. We have voted against every single inflationary policy that has forced one-quarter of Canadians to skip meals because they cannot afford a meal on their table. The government has doubled the debt, increased inflation and blocked home building.
    Why is it that it forces Canadians to feed this morbidly obese government rather than feeding their families?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is actually focused on keeping inflation low so interest rates can come down. I will note that inflation has come down below the targeted range of 3%. At the same time, we have budget 2024: We have supports for renters, we have supports for affordable housing, and we have a national school food program on the table. We will continue to support Canadians with dental and early childhood education, all while the Conservatives vote against. There is no plan on that side of the House. We will support Canadians—

  (1425)  

     The hon. Leader of the Opposition.
     Mr. Speaker, the minister repeats the same costly promises the Prime Minister has been breaking for nine years.
    In a six-week period, 50 homeless encampments have opened in Toronto. Let that sink in. There are a total of 256 tent cities in Toronto alone. It was not like this before the current Prime Minister, and it will not be like this after he is gone. Will he admit that everything is broken after nine years of his government?
    Mr. Speaker, when the member was the minister responsible for housing, there were more than two million more Canadians living in poverty, and the number of times he talked about vulnerable people or taking action to help the homeless was zero. He wants to hold out to people, in a time of difficulty across the world, that the solution is to cut the programs they need, to take away dental care, to take away pharmacare. Shame on him for it. We will stand up for vulnerable people in a way he never has.

[Translation]

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, the Hogue commission has complained that the Liberals are still keeping foreign interference under wraps. The Prime Minister's Office is invoking cabinet confidence to redact documents and even prevent the judge from having access to them. We are not even talking about the documents that will be published; we are talking about the documents needed for the investigation by the judge, whose mandate is to protect this strategic information.
    This calls into question the commission's effectiveness. The Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs promised that the judge would have access to all the documents.
    Does he agree that enough is enough with the secrecy?
    Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate the question from my friend from the Bloc Québécois. I was pleased to work with him and our opposition colleagues last summer to set up the Hogue commission. He knows very well that we are committed to sharing cabinet information with the commission, at an exceptional time that does not happen very often, as we did with Mr. Johnston.
    We will always be available to work with the commission so that it has access to all the appropriate documents.
    Mr. Speaker, they cannot help themselves. The reason the Hogue commission was put in place is that the Liberals were covering up foreign interference from day one. The Hogue commission was created to put an end to that. It was created to get to the bottom of things with the help of a neutral, non-partisan judge. The public does not need to read the confidential information, but the judge does. That is part of her mandate. If the commission does not have access to the information, then Quebeckers will lose confidence in this investigation.
    Will the Liberals finally act responsibly and, more importantly, will they finally be transparent with the judge?
    Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes. We will continue to be transparent and co-operate with the commission. I agree with my colleague. A judge as exceptional as Justice Hogue from the Quebec Court of Appeal is very well positioned to give Canadians confidence in our democratic institutions.
    Canadians need to understand that the government will always ensure that the commission has access to all the documents needed to do this important work.
    I really appreciated the work that I was able to do with my friend, the member for La Prairie.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, its waters are warming too fast. It is becoming increasingly acidic, with ever diminishing oxygen levels. That is the alarming condition of our St. Lawrence River.
    Scientists are sounding the alarm. Its current oxygen levels are fatal to many aquatic species. Now is the time to give the river legal status. The Minister of Environment and Climate Change, however, is neglecting this serious problem.
    What will it take for this Minister of Environment to confer legal rights on the St. Lawrence River in order to protect biodiversity in Quebec?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    Still, I would like to remind him that, when we took office in 2015, Canada was not even protecting 1% of its territorial waters and coastlines. Now, that figure is 15% and will likely rise to 20% in the next few years, as we make our way to at least 30% by 2030, the target agreed upon by all the countries at COP15 in Montreal.
    We are investing record amounts, particularly in partnership with indigenous peoples across the country, to protect more and more of our land.

[English]

     Mr. Speaker, families saw their homes burned to the ground in northern British Columbia this week, and summer has not even started. However, the Conservatives do not seem to think that climate change is real, and the environment minister offers up nothing but empty words and delays.
    The Liberals refuse to invest the billion dollars needed for a B.C. watershed security fund that would prevent wildfires and save lives. They knew this wildfire season was going to be devastating for communities, and yet they are leaving British Columbians to fend for themselves. Will the government fix its mistake and immediately establish a B.C. watershed security fund?
    Mr. Speaker, certainly the issues that we have seen around forest fires last year and, unfortunately, this year, particularly in British Columbia and in the Fort Nelson area, have been devastating. Certainly our hearts go out to all those folks who are affected. It is the reason why we have set aside $350 million to help provinces procure equipment, and it is the reason why we are actually training forest firefighters. Fundamentally, it is the reason why we have a comprehensive climate plan to ensure that we are addressing the existential threat of climate change. The Conservative Party of Canada has a climate plan: It is to let the planet burn. It is irresponsible and it is shameful.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, it is a hat trick for the Prime Minister, but not the good type. Three reports released in just one day paint a devastating picture of life in Canada after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government. Food Banks Canada, the Salvation Army and the Parliamentary Budget Officer all say there is more homelessness and there is more hunger. The Liberals kept telling us that they are spending our money for our own good, that everything is fine and it is not their fault. It has been nine years. Whose fault is it?
     Mr. Speaker, grocery price inflation is coming down. It was 1.4% in April, down from 1.9% a month before. This is encouraging news, certainly for Canadians, but it is important to know that our government put forward the most comprehensive package of competition reforms in Canadian history. Why? More competition equals better prices. However, it is a bit rich for the Conservatives to point to food bank lineups when they oppose a national school food program that would feed over 400,000 kids across Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, nine years later, it has not fed a single child. The Liberals just do not get it. The very policies that they have delivered have given us the worst quality of life in half a century, the worst since the last Trudeau ran this place.
    In the past three months, 25% of young adults have had to go to a food bank in this country. There is 38% more homelessness after the Liberals promised to end it, and about 50% of Canadians are worse off this year than they were last year. How does the government have so much money to spare, while ordinary Canadians are literally going hungry and homeless?
    Mr. Speaker, that is quite the statement from the deputy leader of the Conservative Party. My advice to her is to actually read the report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer. In that report, she will see that no fewer than 50,000 Canadians are supported by the national housing strategy, specifically the Reaching Home program, which the Conservatives would cut. We know they champion an austerity agenda. This is also from the deputy leader, who made clear only a few weeks ago, on a yacht no less, that fewer homes have to be built in Canada. The Conservatives are siding with the NIMBYs. We want to build more homes, including for the most vulnerable in this country.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, Canadians are hungry and homeless. It is becoming more clear: The more inflationary spending the Liberals do, the worse it gets for Canadians. We need look no further than the Ottawa Food Bank report that came out this week, which said that half a million visits were made to the food bank in our nation's capital last year. That is a 95% increase in the last five years and a 22% increase in the last year alone, and 36% of them were children. How many more times are the Liberals going to hike the carbon tax before they realize it is driving millions more people to food banks?
    Mr. Speaker, I find it more than ironic that the Conservative member across the way mentions children when he is going to stand up in short order and oppose a national school food program for which Food Banks Canada and Food Secure Canada have advocated for over 10 years because they know that it would impact food insecurity in this country in a dramatic way. There is $1 billion in federal budget 2024 to feed 400,000 more kids, and the Conservatives say, “No, we will not support that.”
    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, that program has fed exactly zero children in this country. The only thing it is doing is feeding the bureaucracy here in Ottawa.
     Let us take a look and see what Food Banks Canada had to say about the government's poverty measures. The report card came out this week, and the government got an F, a failing grade for what it is doing as it is driving millions more people to food banks each and every year. The report says that it is only going to get worse the more the government hikes the carbon tax and makes life more expensive.
    How many more damning reports need to come out before the government axes the carbon tax to help with the price of food?
     Mr. Speaker, today I would like to share one of the responses to budget 2024 and the announcement of the funding of the national school food program. Breakfast Club of Canada released a statement saying that this program “marks a turning point in the country's commitment to the well-being of all children”.
     Children learn best on a full stomach, and investments today in children are investments for tomorrow. On this side of the House, we will continue to invest in the well-being of children. The Conservatives owe Canadians an explanation as to why they would not make these investments.

[Translation]

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Liberal Prime Minister, Quebeckers are going hungry, and more and more of them are winding up on the street. This week, three devastating reports confirmed that the Liberals' inflationary spending, supported by the Bloc Québécois, is hurting the most vulnerable, as well as families and workers. According to a Salvation Army study, food insecurity is affecting more and more Quebeckers. Fully 25% of parents are skipping meals so they can feed their kids.
    Why do the “Liberal Bloc” and this Prime Minister, who are not worth the cost, prefer to feed the bloated federal government rather than Quebeckers?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, I would invite the member to tell his Conservative Party colleagues to include the words “homelessness”, “fighting poverty” and “investing in Canadians” in their plan if they are serious about supporting Canadians.
    I can give them a few ideas. They could start by voting in favour of the programs we are putting in place to tackle poverty, rent increases and the housing crisis and to help feed kids. I think that is fundamental.
    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, it was the Liberal government, supported by the Bloc Québécois, that caused this crisis and today it would like us to applaud them.
    That is totally irresponsible of them. Because of this Prime Minister's $500 billion in inflationary spending, which the Bloc Québécois supported, everything is more expensive, including gas, food and housing, and more and more Canadians and Quebeckers are going to food banks. The Liberals are the ones who created the crisis.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that it is time to curb this centralizing government's voracious appetite so that all Quebeckers can finally get enough to eat?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind Canadians who are listening that if a Conservative government had been in place during the greatest pandemic we ever experienced, people would have suffered enormously.
    Today, we are in a better position because a Liberal government was there to support Canadians during the biggest crisis we have ever gone through.
    Today, what we are asking of them is quite simple. We are asking them to pass dental care reforms, pass food reforms, pass housing reforms. Let us pass all that.

  (1440)  

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, let us get back to the case of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.
    To prevent him from being sacked as chair of the association des parlementaires de la francophonie, the Liberals infiltrated the organization. They signed up in droves, swelling the number of Liberals from 25 to 112, including a whole bunch of unilingual anglophones. For the first time, the APF had to send out an agenda in English. It even had to bring in interpreters for the unilingual English-speaking Liberals suddenly enamoured with the French language.
    Do the Liberals realize that, in order to protect their colleagues in the APF, they are literally anglicizing it?
     Mr. Speaker, Canada will always be there to support the international Francophonie. In fact, Canada is one of the co-founders of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
    I would like to remind my colleague that we are not talking about the association des parlementaires, but about the Assemblée des parlementaires de la Francophonie. Under the circumstances, we will not only continue to support the assemblée, but we should also be proud of the fact that it is a Canadian, a truly great Canadian, a Franco-Ontarian, who chairs this organization.
    We will always be there to protect French in Quebec, across the country and around the world.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's correction.
    To protect a Liberal who denies the decline of French in Quebec, the Liberals are taking responsibility for the decline of the APF. I could not make this stuff up. That is not all they are responsible for, though. All those new French language enthusiasts at the APF must have read the report released by the Office québécois de la langue française yesterday. Guess which sector has the lowest proportion of workers using French most often in Quebec workplaces? The federal public service.
    The Liberals are the primary drivers of workplace anglicization in Quebec. When will they stop driving the decline of French?
    Mr. Speaker, we will take absolutely no lessons from the Bloc Québécois. We know that the Bloc Québécois's objective will always be to prove that sovereignty alone will work for Quebeckers.
    Quebeckers are not buying it. Quebeckers know that having a strong government, a government that is prepared to recognize, for the first time in history, the decline of French in Quebec and across the country, will enable them to redouble their efforts to improve and protect the language of Molière and to be there for francophones across the country.
    The Bloc Québécois is really in no position to be lecturing us.
    Mr. Speaker, that is laughable.
    The federal government is the worst employer in Quebec when it comes to protecting French. Coincidentally, it is the main employer in the Gatineau region. Between 2016 and 2021, the proportion of Gatineau residents working mainly in French went from 77% to 62%. That is a 17% drop in just four years.
    We are talking about the ridings of Gatineau , Hull—Aylmer , Pontiac, Argenteuil—La Petite-Nation, all four represented by Liberal members. Their public service is the worst workplace for French in Quebec. Coincidentally, French is declining everywhere, and more so in Gatineau than elsewhere.
    Instead of protecting their colleagues at the APF, will they protect francophones in Gatineau?
    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of Quebec's representation in the Government of Canada's public service. This government has increased Quebec's representation in the federal public service.
    We are very proud to have Government of Canada public service jobs in Quebec, just as we are proud of having Quebeckers work on the other side of the river. Yes, we operate a bilingual government that takes care of both official languages on both sides of the river.

[English]

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, more Canadians are hungry and homeless. We see it across the country with our own eyes, and it is now affirmed by Food Banks Canada's latest report. According to the report, nearly 50% of Canadians feel financially worse off compared to last year, and one in four people is going hungry. I have heard from several food banks that the fastest-growing demographics they serve are working families and seniors.
    The character of a nation is revealed in how it treats its most vulnerable, and Canada is failing them. When will the NDP-Liberal government get off Canadians' backs and respond to their desperate pleas? How about they start now by axing the carbon tax?

  (1445)  

     Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see that Conservatives are finally aligning themselves with Food Banks Canada. We saw that over a decade of the Harper Conservatives, they did nothing to address food insecurity in Canada.
    Today our government is creating more competition in the marketplace, and we are investing in a national school food program, both of which the Conservatives oppose. I do not know how the Conservatives can say they care about struggling Canadians, when they oppose these programs and would take food out of the mouths of children.
     Mr. Speaker, what an incredibly all-encompassing and comprehensive non-answer that was from the member.
    Just a couple of months ago I visited the food bank in Oromocto, New Brunswick. Oromocto is home to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, Canada's largest military base. We were shocked when we discovered from the director of the food bank there that it serves upward of 50 military service members and their families. That is one out of every 10 clients they serve.
    Our brave men and women deserve better, and they are asking for the government to do the right thing. It is not more than what they can give right now. Why does the government not start by axing the tax and getting off Canadians' backs?
     Mr. Speaker, I marvel at the temerity of a person who would stand in the House, vote against a well-earned pay raise for every member of the Canadian Armed Forces, and then stand up and pretend that they actually care about the men and women who serve in our forces.
    Mr. Speaker, after nine long years, the Prime Minister is simply not worth the cost. The numbers out from Food Banks Canada are damning: Fifty per cent of people in Saskatchewan feel they are worse off this year than last year, and 35% of Saskatchewanians are afraid they are not going to be able to feed themselves or their family.
    The NDP-Liberal costly coalition can do the right thing right now and axe the tax so parents can put food on the table for their kids.
    Mr. Speaker, what is clear is that the member and the Conservative Party want to ruin the rebate for Canadians. They have mentioned homelessness in the House today. That is quite a shock and hypocritical. If we look at their housing plan, we see that it never mentions homelessness. They do not want to do anything on these things.
    If someone wants to understand the compassion of the party opposite, and of its leader specifically, look at what the leader did a few months ago. He went to someone's home, stood in front of it and called it a shack. He said that about a member of the working class. That is the respect the Conservatives have for working people. They are not a serious party.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals made the decision to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, which will result in seven times more tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet. People in Port Moody—Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra are at risk of evacuation, fire, smoke inhalation and carcinogens in the event of a spill. The Government of B.C. and the local health authorities are asking for a plan to protect people, yet the Liberals have no plan, and the Conservatives have no concern, to keep people safe.
    What are the Liberals going to do to protect Canadians in my riding and beyond from a catastrophic spill?
     Mr. Speaker, it is incredibly important that, as we move products to market, we do so in a safe and efficient manner. Certainly, the transporting of oil by pipeline is far safer than the transporting of oil by rail.
    It is important, though, that we put in place measures to assure British Columbians and Canadians that this will be done safely. Enormous time was spent on ensuring that we put in place those provisions with respect to the pipeline and also with respect to marine shipping. The Canada Energy Regulator has played an important role in that. We will ensure that all of the safeguards are put into place and that the pipeline operates in a safe and efficient manner.

The Environment

     Mr. Speaker, the poisoning of people in Grassy Narrows represents an unprecedented corporate crime. For over 60 years, the government has covered up and protected corporate criminality, and the result has been a never-ending nightmare for people suffering mercury poisoning that impacts everyone, including young children.
    We now learn that the Dryden Fibre Canada mill has been dumping sulfates into the Wabigoon River. This has been driving the mercury crisis for a new generation. What steps will the Minister of Environment take to hold that company to account and work with the people of Grassy Narrows to finally clean up the disaster in the Wabigoon River?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, what is happening at Grassy Narrows is a tragedy, and all levels of government need to do better. Indigenous Services Canada is supporting several projects that will help meet the needs of the community without leaving home. Budget 2024 also provides an additional $57.5 million for the construction of a mercury care home.
    The ongoing calamity and tragedy at Grassy Narrows is a reminder of what happens if we do not protect our water sources from pollution. That is also why we introduced the first nations clean water act, which would make sure first nations have tools to protect their water sources, and hold polluters accountable.

Women and Gender Equality

    Mr. Speaker, in conversations, women more than men face being constantly interrupted. When women express their ideas, those ideas often go unrecognized until reiterated by a man. When women push back, they are seen as less likeable, and negative labels are disproportionately applied to them. It is critical now more than ever that men speak up to defend women's rights and underscore their support for lasting gender equality.
    Can the Minister of Justice reiterate our government's support on the importance of male allyship and ways our government is addressing this issue?
     Mr. Speaker, I am an ally and I am speaking up. I am speaking up about the epidemic of gender-based violence. I am speaking up about women having full control over their bodies and their reproductive rights. That includes the right to abortion and the right to free contraception.
    When we as men make spaces for women's voices, we not only learn but we also help create better, more inclusive policies. I urge every man in the chamber, from every single party, to stand up and to be an ally. The fight for gender equality in this country is a fight for all of us.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister, more Canadians are hungry and homeless. The government promised to end chronic homelessness in Canada by 2030. The Parliamentary Budget Officer found homelessness is getting worse, with chronic homelessness up 38%. The vast majority of homeless individuals in Canada, 80%, are homeless based purely on affordability reasons. The Prime Minister is just not worth the cost.
     How can the government spend so much with such failing results?
    Mr. Speaker, I have a really hard time listening to the Conservatives on that side of the House profess concern for Canadians who are struggling, when we continue to see them vote against the measures that we put forward to support Canadians when they need us, such as efforts to support and strengthen the social safety net, like $10-a-day child care, like moving forward with a national school food program and like moving forward with dental care to ensure they get the care that they need.
    We will continue to fight for Canadians.
     Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister needs to fight for Canadians by actually listening to them and talking to them, because after nine years of the Liberal-NDP Prime Minister, things have never been worse. Canadians are more hungry and they are homeless.
     The Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed what most Canadians already know, which is that homelessness has increased 38%, despite the Liberals' promising to end it. But, wait; it gets worse. This is from the front page of the Toronto Star: “City to prioritize larger homeless encampments in new strategy, as number of tents grows citywide”.
     When did the Prime Minister simply give up and say, “You know what, a tent is good enough”?
    Mr. Speaker, I will say it once again: We see the Conservatives stand in the House and we hear them profess their support for Canadians, but I have to say that is not what we see day after day. When we put forward measures like the national school food program to ensure 400,000 more children have access to food at school, what do we see? We see the Conservatives vote against. We put forward the Canada child benefit, and what do we see? They vote against.
     We will fight for—

  (1455)  

    The hon. member for South Shore—St. Margarets.

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years, the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister is not worth the hunger and the homelessness.
    The Prime Minister promised to end homelessness. What was the result of the posturing? Long-term homelessness is up 38%, because Canadians cannot afford a place to live. More Liberal help like this will produce greater misery for Canadians. The NDP-Liberal government does not understand that it cannot spend its way out of a problem.
    When will the Liberals use common sense and realize that funding gatekeepers does not end homelessness?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a tragedy any time a Canadian does not have a roof over their head. It is unacceptable, and it is incumbent on all of us to live up to the challenge and to work together to make sure this is addressed in a way that is not politicized. However, the Conservatives are not capable of that, as we see.
    The member talks about funding gatekeepers. What he is really talking about is working with, for example, not-for-profit organizations. There is an acquisition fund that we worked on with not-for-profits to make possible $1.5 billion. As a result, we will see that program move forward and units of housing kept affordable for everyday people. He is against it, as are the rest of the Conservatives.
    Mr. Speaker, let us take a look at the record that the Liberals are so proud of. The results are that the number of homeless in Halifax has grown from 284 in 2015 to over 1,200 now. The housing minister gave taxpayer money to Halifax to hire 30 more gatekeeper bureaucrats. After nine years of the NDP-Liberal Prime Minister, there are now over 30 homelessness encampments in Halifax.
     Again, will the Liberals use common sense and realize that funding gatekeepers does not build homes?
    Mr. Speaker, I would point the member to the so-called housing plan of the Leader of the Opposition, which says nothing about homelessness. Therefore, the Conservatives can talk about this, but we know how serious they are; they are not serious at all.
    The gatekeepers that the member talks about in this case are really municipal officials. They are mayors and councillors, for example, and others who have seen in Halifax; London, Ontario; Brampton and across the country 170-plus communities that understand that zoning changes are fundamental to getting more homes built, missing middle housing. Fourplexes, duplexes and triplexes would all be made possible, and they are against it.

[Translation]

Post-Secondary Education

    Mr. Speaker, today we are debating federal interference in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. One striking example concerns research chairs. The federal government is meddling in higher education and dictating which fields of study our universities must prioritize if they want to receive their share of funding.
     Worse still, with its equity, diversity and inclusion, or EDI, criteria, Ottawa is deciding not only what people will study, but also who will teach it. Ottawa is literally taking over our universities.
    Why does the government not let universities decide who to hire, based on their qualifications and nothing else?
    Mr. Speaker, now I have seen it all. The Bloc Québécois is trying to pick a fight about science. We thought they had tried it in every field, but now they want a fight about science.
    In the last budget, we invested $3.5 billion in science across the country. This will help our researchers, professors and universities. The Bloc Québécois should be thrilled that we are investing in science and research. I know people watching at home are thrilled. We will continue to invest in science in this country.
     Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how thrilled people are about that, but at least they might find the minister's answers entertaining.
    Yesterday, Isabelle Hachey, a first-rate journalist, gave the example of two job postings at the University of Waterloo for computer science professors. One of them is open only to gender and sexual minorities and the other is open only to racialized minorities, regardless of qualifications.
    That reminds me of the posting for a biology professor at Laval University two years ago, which once again had nothing to do with qualifications. What was the university's response to that situation? It was to comply with the federal government's requirements. The federal government is out to lunch. One does not fight discrimination with discrimination.
    When will the government put an end to these criteria that do more harm than good for diversity and inclusion?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the Quebeckers who are watching at home right now are tearing out their hair. The Bloc Québécois is now trying to pick fights about science. Imagine that. I think that the Bloc members have come to the end of their playbook. They got to the last page and realized that they have not picked a fight about science in a long time.
    On this side of the House, we are serious. We will continue to invest in our universities. We will continue to invest in our researchers. We will continue to attract our young people. We know that today's science is tomorrow's economy. We will continue to invest in our future.

  (1500)  

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years of this Prime Minister, excessive spending and anti-agricultural policies are driving our farmers into bankruptcy. According to the Union des producteurs agricoles, one in five farms is no longer able to pay its debts.
    With the help of the Bloc Québécois, the government is stifling our agricultural sector by blocking Bill C‑234 and voting for centralizing and inflationary spending.
    When will this Liberal-Bloc government give our farmers a break so they can feed our already hungry population?
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party knows full well that the price on pollution does not apply in Quebec. The member also knows that all he has to do is walk up four rows and talk to the House leader of the official opposition if he wants Bill C‑234 to pass in the House. The House leader of the official opposition controls the fate of this bill.
    Mr. Speaker, what a classic answer by the Liberal minister. The Liberals sit in their limousines, disconnected from reality, while Canadians are going hungry because of this Prime Minister and his Bloc Québécois partners. Clearly, they are not worth the cost.
    In my riding, the number of people using food banks has reached a record high of one in four. In the past year, 10% of farms in the Chaudière-Appalaches region have shut down operations.
    When will the government give our farmers the help they are desperately asking for?
    Mr. Speaker, I am the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, or CED. If there is one sector that CED has assisted in every region, including the regions of Quebec, it is agriculture. We supported agricultural processing and farm businesses in making the green transition to ensure that they also contribute to achieving net-zero emissions. CED is active in all regions of Quebec. We will continue to be there to help them through this transition.

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, after nine years under the government of this Prime Minister, a growing number of Quebeckers are hungry and living in the street. The inflation crisis hitting Canadians is the result of this government's centralist spending backed 100% by the Bloc Québécois. It makes me laugh a bit because the Bloc claims to defend the interests of Quebeckers, but it voted for $500 billion in inflationary budgetary allocations.
    It is not just the Prime Minister who is not worth the cost. We have to include the Bloc in that.
    Do the Bloc and the Liberals understand that more money for the federal government means less money for Quebeckers?
    Mr. Speaker, I can tell you one thing that the people watching us at home understand. They know that on this side of the House, we are prepared to invest in Canadians.
    People know that the Conservative Party's plan is to make cuts to every program.
    They had the nerve to rise today. Anyone who watched question period knows it. Every Conservative who rose today voted against the Canada child benefit. They are going to vote against the Canadian dental care plan; they are going to vote against the national school food program for 400,000 children.
    I do not know how these people are able to look at themselves at night, but today we saw the Conservative Party's true colours.

[English]

Health

    Mr. Speaker, my province of Prince Edward Island has saved more than $2 million in out-of-pocket costs since the launch of P.E.I.'s copay program last year. This federal funding for P.E.I. has improved access to prescription drugs and made them more affordable for Islanders. The success of this pilot can be replicated across the country.
    Could the Minister of Health describe the impact that universal single-payer coverage for contraception and diabetes medication will have on the health of Canadians?
     Mr. Speaker, I want to start by commending the advocacy and work of the member for Charlottetown, who has been working tirelessly to make sure that Islanders get the coverage they need, saving them hundreds of dollars. Many times I have been out with him in Prince Edward Island over the last 10 months, talking to people about what that coverage means, not just for affordability but for prevention, to make sure they do not wind up with a chronic disease or illness.
    The Conservatives say that it is too much for people to hope that they can get the medicine they need. They say that it is too much to hope that somebody can get the dental care they need. A hundred thousand people got dental care in just three weeks. We are getting it done.

  (1505)  

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, at his billion-dollar green slush fund, the Prime Minister's hand-picked chair is being investigated for lining her own pockets, and resigned in disgrace. After nine years of the NDP-Liberal government, the Prime Minister clearly is not worth the cost or that corruption.
    However, another NDP-Liberal appointed director has been caught funnelling $42 million to companies that she has stakes in. The Liberals knew it, but then they promoted her to the Infrastructure Bank anyway. She suddenly resigned. They gave her keys to a bigger mansion after burglarizing the first one.
    Will they investigate every dollar she handed out?
    Mr. Speaker, now we are seeing the Conservative Party of Canada going after any company that works against climate change in our country. That is what those Conservatives are about. Behind these questions they are against new technologies to help fight climate change.
     Those members know very well, and I have said it many times in the House, that the moment we heard about the allegation we launched an investigation. The chair has resigned; the CEO has resigned. We are investigating. We are going to make sure that every dollar that is spent is going to be well spent. We are going to restore governance, we are going to restore confidence and we are going to keep investing in Canadian companies.
    Mr. Speaker, we only see the minister get animated after people get caught, which is really too late.
     The NDP-Liberal appointed chair and another director were caught stuffing their pockets full of taxpayer cash. They got caught; they resigned. They are being investigated. However, a third one, who was found to be furthering her own interests, was then appointed to the Infrastructure Bank, but suddenly resigned, much to the surprise of the minister responsible. This is life after nine years of the NDP-Liberal government. It has no idea where the money is going.
    We need to protect Canadian tax dollars. Will the government call in the RCMP to investigate?
    Mr. Speaker, the member just asked that same question, which the minister just answered.
    However, while we are here and have some time, I want to know why a woman in Aurora, named Sabrina Maddeaux, and another woman, named Rachel Gilliland, are alleging things that do not seem quite kosher in Conservative nomination land. That is after accusations by Ms. Maddeaux of illegality in a Conservative nomination. They just happen to be the only two women in that nomination race. Why?
     Order. I know that all members, especially all ministers, understand that when questions are asked, they should be about the administration of the government or the committees. It is the same thing that is expected of ministers, to respond to the administration of government.
    The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.

Democratic Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, after the Prime Minister got caught turning a blind eye to Beijing's interference in our elections, his government was dragged kicking and screaming into calling a public inquiry. It has now been revealed that the Prime Minister and the cabinet are obstructing the work of the inquiry by refusing to turn over documents to the commissioner.
    I have a simple question. Will the Prime Minister end the obstruction and turn over all documents requested by Madam Justice Hogue, unredacted, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend knows very well that there is no obstruction at all. He should have a word with his House leader, with whom I worked very collaboratively all summer in setting up the Hogue Commission. We agreed to all the details of the terms of reference, including the fact that solicitor-client privilege and cabinet confidence were essential things that needed to be protected.
     Of course, the people who served in Mr. Harper's government would know the attachment he had to those principles, but our government went a step further and made available cabinet documents that were relevant to this inquiry. We will continue to do everything necessary to allow it to do its work.

  (1510)  

Justice

     Mr. Speaker, our government stands proudly on the side of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, if elected, the official opposition could become the first federal government to create laws that would knowingly violate the rights of Canadians. It would do this by invoking the notwithstanding clause, trampling on our charter rights. As a parliamentarian, but even more as a Canadian, I find this simply chilling.
     Will the Minister of Justice please elaborate on the importance of protecting the charter rights of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the charter protects our right to free expression. It protects our right to worship whom we choose. It protects our right to equality. It protects our right to be presumed innocent.
     If we stand for freedom, we do not get to cherry-pick which rights and freedoms we defend, but that is exactly what the Leader of the Opposition has said he would do. He has openly declared that he would use the notwithstanding clause to trample on these very charter rights. No federal leader has ever done this in Canadian history.
     Our government enacted the charter, our government stands by the charter, and we will always defend the charter rights and freedoms of every Canadian.

Canada Post Corporation

     Mr. Speaker, decades ago, the Liberals promised to stop the closure of rural post offices. However, in classic Liberal fashion, they have broken that promise year after year. We have lost 500 rural post offices since 1994, 33 last year alone. Before the Conservatives start heckling, their record when they were in government was even worse.
     How many rural post offices are going to have to close before the minister finally does something?
     Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member opposite because he speaks to a very relevant issue that is affecting Canadians all across Canada, not just in his community but everywhere.
     We are working closely with Canada Post to ensure that we change its ways so that we can improve delivery across the country. It is a serious issue; we recognize that. We are having deliberations over it. We are working closely with Canadians. We are going to be spending more time discussing how we can improve the operations of the organization to better serve Canada.

Finance

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Liberal government on achieving the highest interest rates in two decades, on the sustained high food prices that have not been seen since the 1980s and on reducing Canadian living standards to almost the lowest levels in 40 years.
    Spread out over 20 years and beyond the next election, budget 2024 solves nothing. Yes, Canada has come a long way since 2015. Unfortunately, it is in the wrong direction.
    Given the long list of failures, will the finance minister resign, take the entire cabinet with her, and go paint leadership posters for Mark Carney?
     Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on keeping inflation low so that interest rates can come down. We have a fiscally responsible plan, and we will continue to maintain strong economic indicators, a AAA credit rating and the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, all while having supports for Canadians in budget 2024, such as affordable housing, such as ECE and early childhood learning, such as supports for a national school food program.
    We have a comprehensive plan and we are compassionate.

  (1515)  

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, it being Thursday, it is time for what some say is the most exciting part of the week.
    I just want to point something out, and I hope the Minister of Public Safety hears this. It is important to note for the record that in the MOU that set up the Hogue inquiry, during the discussions on that, requests were made by the official opposition to include very strict parameters about providing cabinet confidences to Justice Hogue. We were told we were in a take-it-or-leave-it position, so it is very disingenuous to now say it was the opposition that agreed to holding up cabinet confidences. Of course, we would have no reason to want or agree to that. That is an important thing to clarify.
    As the Thursday question is related to the upcoming business of the House, I would like to ask the government House Leader this: What will the business be for the rest of this week and for next week, and can Canadians hope for some relief at the pumps? Will the government bring in legislation to remove all federal gas taxes, the carbon tax, the excise tax and the GST, off fuel so Canadians can afford a modest summer road trip?
    As the government-caused inflation and interest rate crisis has taken such a big bite out of Canadians' paycheques, many are hoping just to be able to scrape enough together for their hotel bills and fuel bills. Taking the tax off fuel would go a long way towards providing Canadians an affordable summer vacation. Can members and Canadians expect any legislation that would provide them with that much-needed relief?
    Mr. Speaker, I am always entertained by my hon. colleague across the aisle, with whom I work regularly. With gas at about $1.50 a litre in Ontario, if I am not mistaken, it is a lot cheaper than it is in Alberta, where Premier Danielle Smith unilaterally hiked the cost of gasoline by 13¢. She did not provide, of course, the very substantial rebates on the price on pollution we have put on and that the Conservatives would take away.
    Of course, that was not his question. Tomorrow, we will call Bill C-58, concerning replacement workers, at report stage and at third reading. On Monday, we will resume third reading debate of Bill C-49, the Atlantic accord implementation act.

[Translation]

    Wednesday, we will begin debate at second reading of Bill C‑70 on countering foreign interference, which is already a strong response to the issues being investigated by the Hogue commission. We will hear from the Minister of Public Safety at second reading of Bill C‑70.
    I would also like to inform the House that Tuesday and Thursday will be allotted days.
     Finally, as is only proper, there have been discussions among the parties, and if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion:
    That, notwithstanding any standing order, special order or usual practice of the House, during the debate on the business of supply pursuant to Standing Order 81(4) later today:
(a) the time provided for consideration of the Main Estimates in committee of the whole be extended beyond four hours, as needed, to include a minimum of 16 periods of 15 minutes each;
(b) members speaking during the debate may indicate to the Chair that they will be dividing their time with one or more other members; and
(c) no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.
    All those opposed to the hon. minister'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)


Government Orders

[Business of Supply]

[English]

Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Federal Intrusions in the Exclusive Jurisdictions of Quebec and the Provinces  

    The House resumed consideration of the motion.
     Mr. Speaker, prior to question period getting under way, I said that, eventually, we will be in an election campaign. When that happens, I will love the contrast that we are going to share with Canadians of the difference between the Liberals and the Government of Canada and the “Reformers”, or the unholy alliance between the Conservatives-Reformers and the Bloc party. I say that in all sincerity, because there is a substantial difference.
    In their alliance, the Bloc and the Conservatives show the same attitude toward federal spending on programs that are important to Canadians. They have in common the way they have voted and indicated their lack of support for national programs that are being supported in many different ways across the country. It is important for us to show that contrast. The closer we get to 2025 and an election, the more Canadians are going to see that contrast. I believe they are going to say they want and support the types of programs that reflect Canadian values. They want a government that is prepared to work with other levels of government to provide the types of services that Canadians expect parliamentarians to deliver.
    On the one hand, we have the Reformers, who masquerade as the Conservatives in the House. On that side, it is cut, cut, cut, and then we have a government that recognizes investing in Canadians is good for all of Canada. I would like to amplify that statement by talking about some of the programs that we have brought in or that the budget is talking about.
    The Bloc brought forward a motion today that says, in essence, give us money or give us nothing. I understand that, because they are separatists. They want Canada to be broken up. They do not support Canada as a nation, the way it is today.
    Let us talk about some of the programs. We have a national dental care program that is providing services in every region of our country. Seniors today are benefiting from that program. Children have benefited from the program. It is a program that continues to expand in every region of the country. We have political parties on the opposite side, the unholy alliance, saying that they are going to get rid of or that they do not support the Canada dental care plan, taking it away from seniors.
    I would highlight, for example, that every member of Parliament has seniors in their ridings, on fixed incomes, who have registered for the program and are receiving services. The unholy alliance is prepared to get rid of that program. The Conservatives will say it is a cost factor; they do not believe we should be spending money on that particular issue. Then we have the Bloc saying that it is provincial jurisdiction and that Ottawa should not be entering into provincial jurisdiction. Both arguments have a great deal of myth to them. The fact of the matter is that this particular program, like other programs, has been developed through a great deal of consultation and working with Canadians, which is why we have it today.

  (1520)  

    Unfortunately, both of those opposition parties are voting against it. What they are really doing is putting party politics ahead of the needs of the constituents they represent.
     Let us talk about the pharmacare program. It does not matter what area of the country or what province Canadians live in, if they are diabetic, they would receive free medical assistance through pharmaceuticals to deal with their diabetes. We are not talking about thousands of Canadians. We are talking about millions of Canadians who would benefit from that one aspect of the pharmacare program that is being introduced. However, once again, we have the Conservatives saying no to those constituents that they represent who are in need of that medication. One has to question why. What is the motivating factor behind it?
    Again, what we see in that motivation is the Conservative's and the Bloc's attitudes towards health care. They do not believe that the federal government has any role in health care at all, with the exception of handing over money. Ottawa is nothing more than an ATM to them, and the only role Ottawa is to play is to give money to the provinces for health care.
     It does not matter to them if a service is in one area of the country and not in another area of the country. They do not see the visionary policies that would provide pharmacare and dental care. Dental care is a health care service. Every year we have children who, because they are not getting the dental service that they require, end up in emergency rooms. Do members know how many times individuals with diabetes get amputations because they are not getting the proper medical supplies they need? It is all tied in to health care.
    Then we have the Bloc members, the separatists, who say that they just do not care about it. They are more concerned about dividing and breaking up the country. That is the role they play. I can appreciate, to a certain degree, that at least the Bloc members are transparent.
    However, why would the Conservatives take that sort of an approach? They should talk to your constituents. I believe they would find that people love the health care that we provide today across Canada. It is a national program.
     We have the Canada Health Act to protect the integrity of the system. We have a government that has invested hundreds of millions, actually, let me get it right, as we just committed in negotiations with provinces of $198 billion. That is $198 billion over the next 10 years to commit to Canada's health system, to deal with issues such as long-term care, mental health and many other issues, including labour-related issues. We are concerned about doctors and nurses, and many other aspects of health care, including the support workers who play such a critical role. We recognize that importance.
    When I posed the question in the House of Commons to the leader of the Conservative-Reform Party earlier today, the response was exceptionally disappointing. All he did was reaffirm the degree to which the Conservative Party today has moved to the right and the people it is listening to.

  (1525)  

    The Conservatives do not believe in a health care system to the degree that we have it today. There is a hidden Conservative agenda. When we think of the health care we have today, we can look at the province of Saskatchewan and how it contributed to having a national health care system.
    We now have a national child care system. We needed to look to the province of Quebec and what the province of Quebec provided, which ultimately led to us having a $10-a-day national child care program. It is the benefit of a federation that we can take a look at what is working well and look at how we can turn things into a program so that all Canadians can benefit from it.
    Whether someone lives in Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Halifax, Whitehorse or anywhere in between, we understand that there are national things that we can all treasure, whether they are programs such as OAS or employment insurance, which were brought in by prime ministers such as Mackenzie King, or the types of programs that the Prime Minister and the government, this collection of Liberal members of Parliament, continue to push for, day in and day out.
    We are looking and listening to what our constituents are telling us, bringing that forward here to Ottawa, and developing policy that is going to help Canadians. Unfortunately, time and time again, we see opposition coming from the Bloc, in its breaking up the nation, and the Conservatives, who do not care about providing the type of social safety net that Canadians have grown to believe in and want to see expanded.
    There is nothing wrong with being a government that cares with competence, and that is what the Prime Minister and the government have continuously delivered for Canadians.

  (1530)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I recognize my colleague's passion, but it is not always well directed.
    I am going to read him two quotes, and I would like him to give me his opinion.
    These are quotes from Lester B. Pearson, a Liberal prime minister, just like his. He said, “Although Quebec is a province in this Confederation, it is more than a province, for it is the home of a people: that is why it is fair to say that it is a nation within the nation.”
    He also said that we should take steps, arrangements, so that Quebec would have de facto power in the areas it wished to have under its authority. He said, “By imposing a centralism which, if acceptable to some provinces, was certainly not acceptable to Quebec, and by insisting that Quebec be [treated in a manner] similar to the other provinces, we could destroy Canada”. A former prime minister said that.
    Is my colleague aware that this is what he is doing?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member himself is aware that I have many generations of family history in Canada, which goes back to the province of Quebec. One of my greatest regrets is that many individuals in western Canada lost the ability to speak French because of all sorts of issues. Ultimately, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and the initiatives he took ensured that the French language was being spoken more outside of the province of Quebec.
    I have consistently, through my years as a parliamentarian, argued just how wonderful the French language is, how it contributes to the Canadian identity and how it makes the province of Quebec such a unique, loving place, not only to visit, but also to live in. Quebec, just like other provinces, contributes immensely. I made reference to the child care program. There are many aspects, including the culture and the arts.
    The province of Manitoba and the province of Quebec share many things in common. On industry, I can talk about the aerospace industry. I can talk about hydro and concerns about the environment. There are all sorts of things that we do not have to tear down in the country to appreciate. I care for the province of Quebec as much as I care for other areas of Canada, and I will continue to fight and articulate why it is so critically important that Quebec lead not only Canada, but also North America, in the French language and the unique role that Quebec plays in ensuring that French will continue to be not only spoken, but also—
    We will move on to the next question as we are running out of time.
    The hon. member for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford has the floor.
     Mr. Speaker, it is great to see the member for Winnipeg North stand in this place to loudly proclaim his support for the important programs of pharmacare and dental care. This is even more so due to the fact that, in the 43rd Parliament, when it came to Bill C-213, introduced by the member for New Westminster—Burnaby, and a motion on dental care, which was introduced by former MP Jack Harris, that member and the entire Liberal caucus voted against those measures. They voted against pharmacare and against dental care.
    I am glad to see that, on the road to Damascus, the Liberals have arrived at their conversion. I just want to know what changed. What led the Liberals to suddenly have this vision that these were, in fact, the right programs to put in place now? Could it be that the New Democrats forced them to do it?

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, I get a flashback of being with my daughter Cindy, who is an MLA in the province of Manitoba, and I can recall us being on Keewatin Street, where we had these signs. We were saying that we wanted to have a national pharmacare program and that it would be wonderful to see the Province of Manitoba work with Ottawa to make that happen. I can recall a throne speech a few years back in which Ottawa made reference to the fact that we were looking for a willing province.
    I like to think that, now that Manitoba has an NDP government, maybe we will get that much more sympathy for getting it. I have introduced many petitions over the years on the importance of a pharmacare program. I have spoken to it inside the House on many occasions.
    Am I glad that it is here? I am glad. I believe the NDP also played an important role in it, and I give them credit for that, but I think that there are members of Parliament on all sides of the House, although maybe not among the Conservatives, but possibly, who support the idea of having a national pharmacare program, because it makes a whole lot of sense.
    When I was in the Manitoba legislature, I was the health care critic. I can tell members that a national pharmacare program, especially if one gets the provinces working with Ottawa, could really do some wonderful things. It would be to the betterment of all of us.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I refer the parliamentary secretary to Confederation in 1867. The historical compromise was to have assemblies that were equally sovereign in their respective areas of jurisdiction. However, listening to the parliamentary secretary's speech, what we see is nothing but interference. All he is doing is justifying the interference, and he is breaking this agreement of a federation made up of equally sovereign assemblies.
    In the end, does he want to have a legislative union, a centralized government with an Ottawa-knows-best attitude that dictates to the provinces, who are mere administrators?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would not want the member to put words in my mouth. What I am suggesting is that the people of Canada, no matter what region of the country they live in, appreciate it when governments work together. I would ultimately argue that, when governments work together, one gets better results.
    On jurisdiction, we have the Canada Health Act. The Canada Health Act is something that ensures that there is a national health care system from coast to coast to coast. I believe that the majority of people in Canada today support the need for the Canada Health Act.
    We need to be more appreciative of the many different things that the different regions have to offer and recognize the uniqueness of the different provincial entities. Obviously, Quebec stands out because of that sense of French uniqueness and the culture, arts and heritage of the province of Quebec.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, earlier, when I read the quotes to my colleague, I thought he would understand them. After all, they seem pretty clear to me. Now, since he does not seem to have understood them, I am going to explain them to him.
    There have already been Canadian prime ministers who recognized Quebec's specificity and areas of jurisdiction, and who accepted or offered the right to opt out with full compensation, so when my colleague tells me that we want to tear the country apart, that is not true. We are not going to tear the country apart, we want to build our own, which is very different. When my colleague tells me that Canada is a great country, I tell him that, if we were really part of this country, we would be respected here, and if we were respected here, so would our skills and the powers of our national government.
    What does he think about that? He probably will not have understood much of what I have just said, but I can start over.

  (1540)  

    This is a question and comment period. Members can give answers or make comments.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I did understand the question. Let us take a look at William Mackenzie King; prior to Mackenzie King becoming the Prime Minister of Canada, there was a great deal of discussion about pensions. The pensions were, in fact, at one point in time, provincial jurisdiction. Mackenzie King came in and then ultimately worked with the province to develop a national program, and today we have the OAS system. I believe a vast majority of Canadians like the old age system we have, which provides a monthly income and keeps a lot of seniors out of a poverty situation.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, today's motion reads as follows:
     That the House:
(a) condemn the federal government's repeated intrusion into the exclusive jurisdictions of Quebec, the provinces and the territories;
(b) remind the Prime Minister that, despite his claims, it is not true that “people do not care which level of government is responsible for what”; and
(c) demand that the government systematically offer Quebec, the provinces and territories the right to opt out unconditionally with full compensation whenever the federal government interferes in their jurisdictions.
    I do not know what my colleagues think of this, but it feels like déjà vu to me.
    Let us start at the beginning The Constitution Act, 1867, divides up federal and provincial jurisdiction in sections 91 and 92. It is just a list, kind of a shopping list. However, the federal government's history of attempting to legislate in areas under provincial jurisdiction is impressive. How much money has been wasted on needless, fruitless and even harmful legal wrangling and pseudo-negotiations?
    Our courts have had many opportunities to remind us of the terms of the Constitution in which the federal government constantly drapes itself but systemically disrespects. I have a suggestion to make to members of the government, which is to reread sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867. They are only two pages long, and they are in both French and English.
    Secondly, on the subject of authority, a reference relating to securities law was handed down in 2011 by the Supreme Court of Canada. The federal government should go back and read the explanations given by the judges in this decision as to how the division of powers works. I will mention just three.
    Paragraph 119 says, “Inherently sovereign, the provinces will always retain the ability to resile from an interprovincial scheme”. Paragraph 119 also states, “it is in the nature of a federation that different provinces adopt their own unique approaches consistent with their unique priorities when addressing social or economic issues.”
    The third example is found in paragraph 71:
    The Canadian federation rests on the organizing principle that the orders of government are coordinate and not subordinate one to the other. As a consequence, a federal head of power cannot be given a scope that would eviscerate a provincial legislative competence. This is one of the principles that underlies the Constitution...
    The Supreme Court said that. It was not the first time.
    In 1919, the Supreme Court's decision in In Re The Initiative and Referendum Act stated that the purpose of the Constitution Act, 1867, was:
not to weld the Provinces into one, nor to subordinate Provincial Governments to a central authority, but to establish a Central Government in which these Provinces should be represented, entrusted with exclusive authority only in affairs in which they had a common interest. Subject to this each Province was to retain its independence and autonomy....
    The Constitution is clear. The Supreme Court has said this many times. I just quoted from two decisions, but the current federal government does not seem to understand these simple principles, which a first-year law student would easily understand.
    We are now seeing multiple intrusions and attempted intrusions. Look at pharmacare. Quebec's system has roo