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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:07 [p.16808]
Mr. Speaker, at the end of my colleague's speech, he said that this new system the Liberals would bring forward with this bill, until we win the next election and delete it, would make it so that the governing party would have a systematic preference for raising money, which would make it stronger for the next election.
Does the member think that it is more than just a privilege that would give the Liberals more strength? Does he think that this is close to real corruption?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:09 [p.16808]
Mr. Speaker, many people from Beauport—Limoilou are listening to us this evening, and I would like to say hello to them. It is a pleasure to represent them, especially this evening as we debate Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing) an act to amend the Canada Elections Act. This bill basically seeks to legitimize and formalize a palpable and tangible form of corruption in Canada. We first saw this system in the 1990s and 2000s, under the successive governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. However, the federal Liberals have also used this system over 100 times since 2015. They are now trying to formalize and legitimize it by introducing a bill in the House.
What was the system established by Ontario's Liberal government in the 1990s? Two people were responsible for its implementation, namely Mr. Butts and Ms. Telford. Mr. Butts is currently the Prime Minister principal secretary. He works in the Langevin Block. I will always call it by this name because I am very proud of it. Mr. Langevin is a French Canadian who spent his entire career fighting for Quebec's right to have a seat at the cabinet table so that Quebeckers and French Canadians would be heard at the start of the 20th century. Mr. Langevin was also a great source of pride for Macdonald's government. Thus, it is an affront to me that his name was removed from the Langevin Block. I now will return to the matter at hand.
Mr. Butts is principal secretary to the Prime Minister, and Ms. Telford is, or at least I think she still is, the Prime Minister's chief of staff. Incidentally, the Prime Minister's Office is another institution that should be shut down immediately. What did those two individuals do when they introduced this system in Ontario? They made sure that ministers—as well as any backbenchers like myself and other members here who want to advance their career and perhaps become a minister to do great things for this country—would have to conform to a system that would relegate the issues that matter to them to the back burner, issues like the Constitution, the development of francophone communities, their ridings, their constituents, and community groups. The members are told that what matters is filling the party's coffers so that they can win elections, not with well-reasoned arguments, but rather by spending billions of dollars.
This system involved quotas for each minister and anyone who wanted to become a minister. For example, the finance minister and the Ontario health minister each had to raise half a million dollars a year. In this tightly organized system, the cocktail parties and fundraisers hosted by ministers had to be linked somehow to their portfolios. Another thing that surprised me about the Liberal members' speeches is that they do not want to talk about the very clear distinction between partisan fundraising events and cash for access events like the ones the Liberals held over 100 times between 2015 and 2017.
Just like every MP in Canada, I have fundraised with members of my own party, the Conservative Party, or with people who were interested in meeting Conservatives in order to better understand our political philosophy, what we can do for Canada, where we are coming from, and where we are going. In short, they wanted to know our ideas for this great country. However, I have never attended a fundraiser where there were 30 people from the same organization or the same profession who had an existing contract, business project, or other interest to bring to the attention of some federal department.
Every time that I participate in a fundraiser, many Canadians who are interested in politics come to meet the Conservatives to find out more about our political party. However, cash for access fundraisers stem from considerable pressure from the Prime Minister's Office. The justice and finance ministers, for example, are required to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Under this system, every minister purposely and carefully comes up with detailed guest lists that include organizations or individuals that lobby the government on files related to his or her portfolio.
Here are two real-life examples. As recently as 2016, the Minister of Justice organized an event in Toronto. I do not remember the exact date, but this event has been discussed at length today. Most of the people who attended were lobbying the government to make changes to the Criminal Code and the Canadian judiciary, or even to become judges. I would like to know if there was even one Liberal MP at that event or whether even one ordinary Toronto resident was there to learn more about the Liberals' political philosophy—if they have one, other than a desire to be in power. In short, the Minister of Justice had to apologize for organizing this event, since it was so blatant.
It was the same thing when the Minister of Finance met with port authority representatives in Halifax. That event was also attended by businessmen who had very important things they wanted to talk to the Minister of Finance about. Here again, they were not card-carrying members of the Liberal Party who wanted to know more about his vision for the country, and nor were they Haligonians interested in finding out what their 35 or 36 Liberal MPs are doing for Atlantic Canada. They were lobbyists with specific interests who knew full well that paying $1,500—that is now $1,575—would give them direct access to the minister and a chance to voice their concerns or make specific requests.
Those are two of the more egregious examples. Luckily, editors-in-chief at Canada's major daily papers got wind of them. Journalists tend to be pretty lenient with this government, but these two typical cash for access functions stank so badly of corruption that the media ran the stories.
The Prime Minister himself said that this practice lacked transparency and that it likely should not be condoned in Canadian politics because it would only make Canadians more cynical and less likely to want to take part in democracy when they see that it takes $1,500 to gain access to the Minister of Finance. When the media reported that and the Prime Minister and the government acknowledged that it was unfortunate for Canadian democracy, the Liberals decided to fix the problem by introducing Bill C-50, which, as I said from the outset, seeks to formalize and legitimize fundraising activities that provide special access.
What questions were raised in the House by my colleague from York—Simcoe, “Let us go back and see what happens. Is there anything in the bill that would stop the exact same thing from happening again?” The answer is no.
He went on, “Is there anything that would discourage it, because that maximum donation to the party is publicly disclosed anyhow?”
No, this will not prevent cash for access fundraisers from happening again. This is a smokescreen. There is absolutely nothing in this bill that will prevent this type of corruption in Canada. On the contrary, the Liberal government is merely legitimizing and formalizing rampant corruption and giving itself a leg up when it comes to fundraising in Canada.
We must condemn this. It is absolutely shameful.
As the member for Beauport—Limoilou, I strongly oppose this bill.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:20 [p.16809]
Mr. Speaker, the current government was caught red-handed. It seems obvious that if it had not been caught red-handed, it would have continued organizing these fundraisers. In any case, it is still engaging in this type of activity in a way. The Liberals are just taking a break from their cash for access fundraising events. They will pick up where they left off just as soon as the bill passes third reading, meaning that they will have legitimized and formalized a type of fundraising corruption in Canada. That is what the Liberals are doing.
Let's look at what they are doing with cannabis. It was illegal, but they saw this new product as an unprecedented money-making opportunity for their friends who are in business or play the stock market. This started 10 or 15 years ago in Canada with medical marijuana. Members of the larger Liberal family figured out that legalized cannabis could earn them billions of dollars.
The government has run gigantic deficits and needs to replenish its coffers by taxing a drug. The sole purpose of legalizing cannabis and this bill is to please the Liberal elite and help get the current government re-elected in 2019. We are going to do whatever it takes to stop that from happening.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:23 [p.16810]
Mr. Speaker, bluntly, the answer is simple. The only reason the Liberals did not accept any amendments in committee hearings from experts, all the arguments brought forward by the official opposition of Her Majesty, is that the bill was written in a way that would ensure they could continue cash for access starting next month. That is the single goal of the government: to start cash for access again, put money in their coffers, and get back to power in two years.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:12 [p.16648]
Madam Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg North stated that in the last two years his government had worked so hard to bring about this bill, and to make life better for bureaucrats. However, while the Liberals have worked so hard to put forward the bill, they have not fixed Phoenix. Just this morning we learned that 193,000 bureaucrats in Canada were touched by Phoenix. Some people still do not have any pay. Some people have lost their houses.
How can that colleague say that for the last two years the Liberals have worked hard for bureaucrats to help them in their lives, and yet they have been unable to fix Phoenix? It is outrageous.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:26 [p.16650]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in this august House for the first time in 2018. We were elected in 2015 and here we are in 2018 already. Life goes so fast. I would like to wish all of the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are tuning in today, a very happy New Year, health, prosperity and happiness. I am very happy to have seen them throughout Parliament’s winter break and during door-to-door events and various activities, including the Christmas gala at my constituency office. I thank them for attending in large numbers.
It is unfortunate that the member across the way has left, but in February 2016, the Gartner report said quite clearly that the Phoenix system had major problems and should not be implemented. The report also featured some important recommendations that would have allowed us to avoid the considerable problems now facing public servants, if only the Liberal government had shown as much wisdom as we have, and followed those recommendations and if it had not given the project the green light in February 2016.
I would like to respond to certain allegations by my Liberal colleagues today, but I must first say that Bill C-62 is an outright abdication by the executive for electoral gains. In 2015, we Conservatives were forced to call an election four months early because the major unions in Canada would not stop making electoral expenditures day after day, week after week, to help either the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party, because those parties had apparently given them what they wanted. They absolutely wanted to defeat the Conservatives and were spending millions of dollars on advertising against us on television, on the radio and in print media. That is why it was the longest election in Canadian history. We were honourable and we had to respond to those daily frontal media attacks from the unions. We therefore triggered the election campaign to be able to use electoral funds ourselves to respond to those attacks.
Without even realizing it, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge accurately described this bill when he said that his government is working hand-in-hand with the major unions. He could not have said it better. With Bill C-62, the government is not only abdicating its responsibilities to the benefit of big union bosses, who claim to be great leaders who want to protect workers, but it is also returning the favour to the major unions that supported the Liberal Party in 2015 to bring down one of the best governments in the history of Canada. In 10 years, the previous Conservative government got Canada through the biggest economic crisis in world history since the Great Depression in 1929 and 1930. In short, it is shameful that these unions interfered in an election campaign without the support of their members.
Furthermore, I am fed up of hearing our colleague from Winnipeg North portray himself as the paragon of universal virtue, as if the Liberal government was the only one to have good intentions and to work for the well-being of public servants, for Canadians and for humanity. It is completely ridiculous. Every Canadian government, be it Liberal or Conservative, works for the well-being of this country. Will they one day stop harping on about these platitudes, telling us that Conservatives do not work for the well-being of all Canadians or all of humanity? It is utter nonsense, and I am starting to get really fed up. It is extreme arrogance. We respect public servants, and that is why we had two objectives when we introduced Bills C-377 and C-525.
First, we wanted to ensure the sustainability of public service pensions. If there is one thing we can do to show respect for our public servants, who work very hard for Canada, and keep the government apparatus running smoothly, it is to ensure that, when the day comes, they will retire with honour and dignity, and have access to a sustainable, vital pension that really exists.
When we came to power after the era of Paul Martin and the Liberals from 1990 to 2004, we had to face the facts. Not only had millions of sick days been banked, be we could foresee some major deficits in the public service pension fund in the following decades. Together, both of these things threaten not only existing pension funds as they now stand, but also access to these pension funds for any public servant retiring in the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years.
We have so much respect for public servants that we made difficult decisions for them. They are not the executive, the government is. We made decisions to ensure that they could retire with dignity when the time came. That was Bill C-377. There was also Bill C-525 to promote democracy in labour organizations and unions in Canada.
This House is one of the most democratic in the world, if not the most democratic. Is it any wonder that we did everything in our power to further promote democracy within unions?
It is unfathomable that one of the first things the Liberals did after arriving on Parliament Hill was to try to repeal the provision of Bill C-525 that allows for a secret vote at union meetings. There are sometimes thousands of people at union meetings. There is intimidation. There is strong-arming. Things get rowdy. Not all Canadians have the courage to voice their opinion, as they may be afraid of being bullied. Have we not been talking for weeks and months about the many types of bullying in Canadian society? In the world of unions, there is bullying. It is no secret. It is a huge factor.
We were working not only for public servants, but also for workers. We wanted to give them a secret ballot so they could vote transparently and without fear of recrimination to determine the direction of their union leadership and the decisions made.
With the Liberals, we are dealing with a party that is completely blind. It is blind to the sustainability of pension funds in the public sector and sometimes the private sector. It is even blind to the sustainability of insurance for seniors in Canada. We made a decision that I found to be very interesting as a young man. I am now 31 years old and was 27 at the time. We decided to raise the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 to 67. That was probably one of the most courageous decisions for an OECD country, for a G7 country. It was clearly something that needed to be done.
When he was a Bay Street tycoon in Toronto, the Minister of Finance wrote a fantastic book in which he said that this was exactly what needed to be done and that Mr. Harper’s government had made a very good decision.
The member for Winnipeg North should set a better example for all his colleagues. He should stop being arrogant, truly work for public servants, resolve the problems with Phoenix, and stop claiming he has the moral high ground.
We worked for workers with Bill C-525 to give them a secret ballot. We worked with public servants to ensure the sustainability of their pension funds with Bill C-377.
I will close by saying that Bill C-62 is an abdication by the executive in favour of the major unions. The purpose of this bill is to reward them in order to obtain electoral gains in 2019.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:37 [p.16651]
Madam Speaker, democracy entails the competition of interest groups. We would like it to be different, but that is how it works. We have to put interest groups and competition on a level playing field in this country. As much as I respect them, bureaucrats are part of an interest group. Most Canadians will never have the wealth in their life that bureaucrats will have, for example, with their retirement pension, which is amazing. Most Canadians in my riding will not have a retirement pension from the government.
We were executively responsible. We told the unions of the bureaucrats how it was going to work to ensure that a public pension plan would be a household phrase for every Canadian in 40 years, because Canadians put a lot of money into those pension plans. People who work in shops and pizzerias, and only earn 12 bucks an hour, pay for public pensions.
Therefore, we as executives have to make sure it is equitable for all Canadians. That is why we did it, and that is being responsible.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:38 [p.16651]
Madam Speaker, that is a very good question. The three branches of power in Canada have equal footing with respect to the interpretation of the Constitution, despite what many people might think.
The legislative branch and the executive branch have every constitutional right to decide whether to move forward or act in accordance with the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada. Under the notwithstanding clause, section 33 of the Canadian Constitution, the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada may not be followed. The Jean Chrétien government was skilled at that. When that government disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling, it would bring back a bill and insert a preamble explaining that the Supreme Court had completely misunderstood the purpose of the bill.
For example, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban tobacco advertising at Montreal's Formula 1 because that infringed on private companies' freedom of expression. The Jean Chrétien government reintroduced the legislation saying that the Supreme Court of Canada had erred in its constitutional interpretation.#
Thus, the legislative branch has the right to ignore the Supreme Court of Canada. Competition between the three branches of power guarantees the constitutional supremacy of our great federation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:40 [p.16652]
Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I really do not see the logic in the question. Everybody in Canada has the right to unionize. It is part of Canadian law. If they want to create a union, they should go for it. If they want to create a political party, they should go for it. If they want to do something in Canada, all they need is courage, energy, and take action.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-01-31 14:58 [p.16597]
Mr. Speaker, veterans have made the solemn decision to turn to the Supreme Court of Canada.
In 2015, the Prime Minister promised them, hand on his heart, the return to a real pension for life. He also promised them that they would never ever have to take the government to court to fight for their own rights and their pensions. That is another broken promise. This time it affects our valiant veterans.
Will the Prime Minister honour the solemn promise he made in 2015 to our veterans or will he once again turn his back on our valiant soldiers?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-12-12 10:39 [p.16313]
Madam Speaker, as usual, I would like to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are tuning in today. Unfortunately, I have to tell them that we are debating Bill C-24 at third reading this morning. This is one of those typically Liberal bills designed to satisfy special interest groups that support Liberals and lend credence to their ideological views.
I found it particularly interesting to see the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons champion the bill so passionately, but I do have questions about some of her arguments.
First of all, I wonder if, in defending the bill, the minister is putting on an act or if she truly does not understand the difference between ministers, who are responsible for portfolios crucial to the nation, and ministers of state, who are there to lend a hand and support other departments of national importance.
Five major federal ministers have always had a seat at the cabinet table, namely the Minister of Finance, the Treasury Board minister, the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, and the Minister of National Revenue. Those five cabinet positions have always existed, and they have always been important to the government's ability to govern well.
The minister also said repeatedly in her speech how important Bill C-24 is for gender equality among cabinet ministers. That is not exactly how many of her colleagues seem to understand it. At the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, which I was honoured to serve on for over a year in 2016 and 2017, many Liberal members thought that, on the contrary, Bill C-24 was not about achieving gender equality.
When the committee was hearing from witnesses for the bill's study, the member for Newmarket—Aurora said:
I'm not sure the purpose of this bill was at all to express gender equality....I don't think it's meant to be a tool that's going to address gender inequality, pay equity, or any of the other issues you raised...
The member for Châteauguay—Lacolle, who also serves on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, thinks that ministries of state should be called emerging ministries. This is another example that illustrates that the Liberals do not seem to understand the difference between ministries of state and departments critical to good governance, such as the Department of Finance.
The hon. Liberal member from Don Valley East told the witnesses:
I was as confused as you were about why we are even talking about gender equity....I thank you for being here, but I don't think we have the relevance to our study for Bill C-24...Let's not be disingenuous and try to say that [Bill C-24] has anything to do with gender equality...
I simply wanted to mention these small details to show that despite the speech by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons today at third reading stage of Bill C-24, a number of her colleagues expressed an opposite view in committee, that the bill had nothing to do with gender equity. It is just a tool to take up the House's time and distract from other awful realities that this government would rather not talk about, namely its capacity to break promise after promise since it was elected in 2015.
For example, the Liberals broke their promise to run a deficit of $10 billion a year. That is well known in Canada. Now they are running deficits of more than $20 billion. They also broke their promise to balance the budget by 2019. That has been put off indefinitely. They do not even have the honour or decency to announce a target date for balancing the budget. Then they broke their promise to move forward with electoral reform and to change the Canadian electoral system, which was a key election promise. They also broke their promise to restore home mail delivery for all Canadians by making Canada Post review its policy to stop home mail delivery. They also broke their promise not to introduce omnibus bills, which have been piling up over the past two years. As a matter of fact, we debated an omnibus bill in the House just yesterday. They also broke their promise to give veterans the option of choosing a lifetime pension by restoring the system that was in effect before 2005, or before the new veterans charter was introduced.
Those are just a few examples of the Liberals' broken promises. That is this government's track record. I am pointing that out because Bill C-24 is yet another attempt to hide another broken promise, the promise to have true gender parity in cabinet. When the Prime Minister formed his cabinet two weeks after winning the election in 2015, he was very proud to announce to the media at a press conference that he had a gender-balanced cabinet. When he was asked why, he responded “Because it's 2015”. It is already mind-boggling enough that a prime minister would not have a better explanation than that, but in the months that followed, journalists, Canadians, interest groups, and women's rights groups slowly became aware of something that the Prime Minister was trying to slip past them. His cabinet was gender balanced with regard to the number of men and women at the cabinet table, but not with regard to the importance of the positions they held.
At the beginning of my speech, I named Canada's most important government departments. For example, the head of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is a man. The same is true of the Treasury Board, the Department of Finance, and the Department of National Defence. The only other department that is undeniably important to the government is the Department of Foreign Affairs. Of the five major departments, only one is led by a woman.
Women were chosen to head a few other departments, such as the Department of Indigenous Services and the Department of Health. However, all of the other women in cabinet are ministers of state. It is not that they are less important, but they do not lead real departments with an office building, thousands of employees, a minister's office, and the tools needed to properly manage a major department.
In practical terms, Bill C-24 would do two things. First, it would eliminate the positions of the ministers responsible for Canada's economic development agencies. Second, it would create eight new federal minister positions. Five of them would be ministers of state who would receive the same salary as full ministers, thanks to an amendment to the Salaries Act that is supposedly intended to ensure parity within cabinet.
We Conservatives have no choice but to oppose Bill C-24, if only because abolishing the positions of the ministers responsible for economic development agencies would have such a detrimental effect on the well-being of Canada and all of its regions.
Regional economic development agencies play a pivotal role in Canada. They help thousands of projects get off the ground in every province and major region. Canada is divided into five regions: the Atlantic region, Quebec, Ontario, the western region, and the Pacific region. Each of these regions has its own economic development agency, whose job is to determine the basic needs of its small and medium-sized municipalities and large urban centres.
The Liberal government's decision to eliminate the positions of the ministers responsible for these six economic development agencies is a clear attempt to centralize power in Canada. Every time the Liberal Party comes into power, its goal is to centralize power in Ottawa, within the federal administration. That is what it tried to do with the health agreements it recently negotiated with the provinces, when it made their funding subject to conditions. Now it is doing the same thing on a bigger scale by abolishing the positions of the ministers responsible for regional agencies.
For example, Mr. Denis Lebel, who was our political lieutenant for Quebec, was responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. Every year, the agency distributes roughly $200 million only in Quebec, specifically to revitalize municipal neighbourhoods, provide small and medium-sized businesses with new tools, and finance concrete projects in small airports to help local businesses get much faster access to major centres and even to other countries.
A minister in charge of a regional economic development agency is a bit like an MP. As members, we visit our ridings to understand the daily needs of our constituents. We participate in events and we do canvassing, not to mention the work we do in our offices, where we welcome constituents. This enables us to hear what they have to say about bills and government politics, and especially about pressing, local needs. A minister who represents a regional economic development agency has a similar job, but they do it for the designated region as a whole. In this case, I am speaking of Quebec.
Denis Lebel was the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. His duties as a minister and political lieutenant included visiting companies and making ministerial announcements. He travelled all over the province, meeting citizens and entrepreneurs and visiting small and medium municipalities, entrepreneurial communities, or even community development organizations, in order to determine what they needed.
Like an MP, a minister responsible for an economic development agency must come back here to Ottawa and report to cabinet about the region he or she represents.
When Parliament is sitting, we are all expected to come to the House every week, whether it is fall or spring. We are expected to come here and report to the House or to our national caucuses on what our constituents, the various orders of government in our regions, our municipalities, and our ridings need. Collaboration and synergy between the different orders of government is always a good thing.
The work we do in the House is exactly what the ministers responsible for regional economic development agencies do in reporting to cabinet and ultimately to public servants and the Prime Minister. These people provide an essential link between the needs on the ground and the whole governmental and bureaucratic apparatus in Ottawa.
Every department that is responsible for allocating funds for projects across Canada is part of an extremely complex state system that is like an endless bureaucratic web. It involves 300,000 public servants in Canada, and the decisions they make often take a very long time.
The work of the ministers responsible for economic development agencies was therefore central to the actual funding allocated for projects, because they were there in Ottawa to establish a connection between the needs on the ground and government priorities and to navigate administrative and bureaucratic processes.
For example, the minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the regions of Quebec at the time, Denis Lebel, was handed a list of projects several times a month, and he had to approve the really big ones. His role and responsibility was to ensure that what he was hearing on the ground informed the public service's administrative priorities so that the most important projects got done as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, the Liberal government cut cabinet positions associated with various economic development regions in Canada and put one person in charge of all the economic development agencies in the country. That person is the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, an MP from Toronto who already heads up a major department. He is now responsible for being up on what is going on with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, for example. He also has to be aware of what is going on with economic development agencies for western Canada, Quebec, and Ontario. He is the person who is supposedly going to be familiar with the issues affecting every little community and every region across Canada and who is going to make sure they get money for the projects that matter most to them.
It is hard to understand how the Liberal government was unable to find one person among the 30 members from Atlantic Canada with the right skills and who would have been honoured to head the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
We can already predict what will happen. Projects submitted to the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency were generally authorized or would move forward after about 30 days or so; we now see delays of more than 90 days. This centralization will have a major impact on how money is allocated to the communities and regions of Canada. It is impossible to believe that a minister from Toronto will be able to single-handedly grasp all of Canada's regional concerns.
As far as the gender-balanced cabinet is concerned, the Liberals are once again getting taxpayers to foot the bill for one of their political mistakes. The Liberals led Canadians to believe that theirs was a gender-balanced cabinet, but it is balanced only in terms of numbers. It is not balanced in terms of ministerial importance. To fix their mistake, the Liberals are telling Canadians that they will give every minister of state the same salary as “real” ministers.
Again, taxpayers are paying for a Liberal mistake.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-12-12 11:01 [p.16315]
Madam Speaker, I am quite surprised by the affirmation of the member across the aisle, because the House leader emphasized throughout her speech, just three minutes ago, that on the contrary, the purpose of this bill is gender equity. It would show Canadians how important gender equity is to the government.
I would say that the member is wrong. The Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, for example, is not as important as the Minister of Finance. That is exactly why the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities is a minister of state and the salaries are not the same. The reason is quite simple. Real ministries have buildings, employees, and a ministerial cabinet with about 40 staffers. They must make sure that governmental responsibilities and goals are brought forward, which is not the case for ministers of state, who are there to support bigger ministries.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-12-12 11:03 [p.16315]
Madam Speaker, I agree completely with my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert.
The Liberals have been doing a terrible job over the past year. The softwood lumber crisis is still ongoing, although it should have been resolved when President Obama was still in power. The member for Papineau said he had an excellent relationship with the American president, so he should have taken advantage of that to resolve the situation before a new president was elected.
There is also the NAFTA file, which, by all accounts, is a mess. It is still unresolved. We will probably have to wait until the summer of 2018 to find out whether NAFTA can be saved.
Today in the House, instead of having a dialogue about how to reach a deal, how to make sure NAFTA is salvaged and Canadian interests are protected, or how to make sure the softwood lumber crisis is resolved, something that is very important to Quebec and B.C., we are debating a bill to increase ministers' salaries, which means, once again, that taxpayers will have to pay for this government's political mistakes.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-12-12 11:06 [p.16316]
Madam Speaker, I have the utmost respect for every single member in this House. That is not the question. I did not question the competence or goals of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Of course he wants good things for Canada and wants to make sure that all regions can access the money necessary for their economic projects.
I was referring to pragmatism, rationality, and the necessity of having a minister responsible for a specific region who comes from the region, who knows, almost by heart, the needs of the people and is sensitive to the needs of the region. It should be someone who has grown up there and lives there now and knows the place, knows the ground, and knows the people and goes there every single weekend after a week of work here in the House of Commons. That is the goal of having ministers responsible for economic development agencies. Those people know the regions, because they are from the regions.
I am not questioning the competence or the knowledge of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development concerning Canada, but he does not have specific knowledge of each region. He does not have the time to go to each region to hear about people's concerns and needs.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-12-12 11:08 [p.16316]
Madam Speaker, yes, of course. I was knocking on doors two weeks ago, and I spoke about the bill to some of my constituents. They were a bit mad, I would say, since they see all the different issues coming to their door more and more.
The Prime Minister went to China for no apparent reason. Well, he said he had a reason, but his own reason, the free trade agreement with China, has not come to any result. There is the softwood lumber crisis, which has not been dealt with. We also have the NAFTA negotiations, which are in disarray. The government does not seem to be putting any strategy forward to make sure that it does not fall apart.
Now we have this bill that would basically close down representation of all regions of Canada in cabinet. As well, it would increase the salaries of ministers of state to that of ministers. However, ministers of state do not have the same amount of responsibility as ministers. That is why their salaries have not been the same. It is all about competence and equality of responsibilities.
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