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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:07 [p.24860]
Mr. Speaker, I had the honour and privilege to be chosen, among the 338 members of Parliament, to speak today on the last day we will be sitting in this building, the Centre Block, in the House of Commons, in our wonderful Parliament, in our great federation.
Before I go any further and talk a bit about Centre Block, I should say that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, one of my esteemed colleagues, whose riding is quite close to my own. We share a border, between Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval and Beauport. I am very happy to work with him on various issues that affect our respective constituents.
I would like to wish a very merry Christmas to everyone in Beauport—Limoilou who is watching us right now or who might watch this evening on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. I wish everyone a wonderful time with their family, and I hope they take some time to rest and relax. That is important. This season can be a time to focus a little more on ourselves and our families, and to spend time together, to catch up and to rest up. I wish all my constituents the very best for 2019. Of course we will be seeing one another next week in our riding. I will be in my office and out in the community all week. I invite all my constituents to the Christmas party I am hosting on Wednesday, December 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at my office, which is located at 2000 Sanfaçon Avenue. Refreshments will be served and we will celebrate Christmas together. Over 200 people attended the event last year. I hope to see just as many people out this year. Merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone.
Today I want to talk about Bill C-76. I think this is the third time I speak to this bill. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to speak at all three readings of the same bill, and I am delighted I have been able do so.
This is somewhat ironic, because we have every reason to feel nostalgic today. The Centre Block of the House of Commons has been the centre of Canadian democracy since 1916, or rather, since its reconstruction, which was completed in 1920 after the fire. We have been sitting in this place for over a century, for 102 years. We serve to ensure the well-being of our constituents and to discuss democracy, to discuss legislation and the issues that matter to our country every day.
Today, rather ironically, we are discussing Bill C-76, which seeks to amend the Canada Elections Act. This is the legislation that sets the guidelines, standards, conditions and guarantees by which we, the 338 members of Parliament, were elected by constituents to sit here in the House of Commons. It is an interesting bill that we are discussing on our last day here, but this situation is indeed somewhat ironic, as my NDP colleague so rightly said in his question to the parliamentary secretary. He asked why, if this bill is so important to the Liberals, they waited until the last minute to rush it through after three years in power. The same version appeared in Bill C-33 in 2015-16, and the Liberals delayed implementation of that bill.
Since we are talking about Bill C-76, which affects the Elections Act and democracy, I must say I find it a shame that only six out of the 200 amendments the Conservatives proposed in committee were accepted.
We have concrete grievances based on real concerns and even the opinion of the majority. I will share with the House some of the surveys I have here. I just want to take a minute to say to all those watching us on CPAC or elsewhere right now, that it has been my dream ever since I was 15 to serve Canadians first and foremost. That is why I enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. That is why I dreamed of becoming an MP since I was 15. In 2015, I had the exceptional honour of earning the confidence of the majority of the 92,000 constituents of Beauport—Limoilou. I would like to tell them that, in my view, the House of Commons represents the opposite of what the Prime Minister said yesterday. He said it was just a room.
I did not like that because the House of Commons, which will close for renovations for 15 years in a few days, is not just a room, as the Prime Minister said. I find it unfortunate that he used that term. It is the chamber of the people. That is why it is green. The colour green represents the people and the colour red represents aristocracy. Hence the Senate chamber is red.
I hope I am not mistaken. Perhaps the parliamentary guides could talk to me about this.
It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister said that it is not the centre of democracy, because that is not true. I will explain to Canadians why it is wrong to say that Parliament is not the centre of democracy.
The Prime Minister was right when he said that democracy resides everywhere, whether in protests in the streets, meetings of political associations or union meetings. Of course, democracy happens there. However, the centre of democracy is here, because it is here that elected members sit and vote on the laws that govern absolutely everything in the country. It is also here that we can even change Canada's Constitution. The country's Constitution cannot be changed anywhere else or as part of political debates by a political association or a protest. No, it can only be done here or in the other legislative assemblies of the provinces in Canada. It is only in those places that we can make amendments and change how democracy works or deal with problems to address current issues. Yes, by definition, in a practical manner, the centre of democracy is right here. It is not, as the Prime Minister said, just a room like so many others. No, it is the House of Commons.
Just briefly, before I get back to Bill C-76, I want to talk about the six sculptures on the east wall. The first represents civil law; the second, freedom of speech; the third, the Senate; the fourth, the governor general; the fifth, Confederation; and the sixth, the vote. On the west wall, there are sculptures representing bilingualism, education, the House of Commons, taxation—it says “IMPÔT — TAX” up top—criminal law and, lastly, communications. Those sculptures are here because we are at the centre of democracy. The 12 sculptures represent elements of how our federation works.
With respect to Bill C-67, we have three main complaints.
First, Bill C-76 would make it possible for a Canadian to use a voter card as their only document at a polling station. To be clear, the voter card is the paper people get for registering as an eligible voter. From now on, the Liberals will let people vote using that card only. Currently, and until this bill is passed, voters have to present a piece of identification to vote.
There are risks in letting people vote without an ID card like a driver's licence, health card or passport. First, in 2015, the information on over one million voter identification cards was incorrect. That is a major concern. Second, it is easy to vote with a card displaying incorrect information. That creates a significant problem. It is serious. We need to make sure that voting remains a protected, powerful and serious privilege in Canada.
Our second concern—and this is why we have no choice but to vote against the bill and what upsets me the most personally—is that the government is going to allow Canadians who live outside the country to vote, regardless of how long they have been living abroad. There used to be a five-year limit. In Australia, it is six years. Many countries have limits.
Now, the Liberals want to allow 1.4 million Canadians who live abroad to participate in Canadian elections, even if they have not lived in Canada for 20 or 30 years. They will even be allowed to choose what riding they want to vote in.
Do the Liberals realize the incredible power they are giving to Canadian citizens who have not lived in Canada for 20 years? Those individuals could potentially choose a riding where the polls indicate that the race is very close and change which party is chosen to govern.
Our third concern about this bill is that the Liberals want to prevent third parties, such as labour groups, from accepting money from individuals or groups outside the country during the pre-writ period.
That is good, but there is nothing stopping this from happening before the pre-writ period. People will be able to take in money and receive money from groups outside the country before the start of the pre-writ period.
I thank all Canadians who are watching us for their trust. I look forward to seeing them in the riding next week.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:19 [p.24861]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to know the member opposite had the same dream as I did, starting at age 15. I am glad to see that she went all the way to realizing this dream. Good for her. Marvellous.
The Liberals speak about this bill as if it is something fundamental, so why did they wait three years? We are three years into their mandate right now, three years of failures. We have three years of failure on the border, where we have almost 100,000 illegal border crossings happening right now. There is huge financial pressure on provincial governments to deal with this crisis. We have three years of failure concerning deficits. They promised that they would run a small $10-billion deficit, and now the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by Mr. Harper, something we should never forget, who brings accountability to the government every day he acts, has informed us this week that the deficit is way larger than what was announced two weeks ago. It will be about $26 billion just for 2018-19.
I completely disagree with the member. Yes, the right to vote is fundamental. However, the responsibility of the government is to make sure that voting is respected and protected for everyone.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:22 [p.24862]
Mr. Speaker, as I said, from day one we contributed to this bill. We proposed over 200 amendments, and only six of them were accepted. It is disappointing to see that now the Liberals will be going forward without the acceptance of all members. We are talking about a bill that would have an impact on future elections. We should require all members to stand behind such an important bill. We think it should have been a must for the government to accept many more of our amendments.
Yes, with respect to what the member just told us, if those kinds of situations happened during the last election, which was completely unacceptable, why not give more powers to the election directorate if we are able to? Why was the government so negative toward all the other amendments we brought forward?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:15 [p.22546]
Madam Speaker, this a very important debate today, as we are speaking about increasing safeguards at the workplace for males and females, concerning discrimination, harassment, be it sexual or other types of harassment.
It struck me today that, on an ongoing basis, my colleagues have been asking members on the other side of this House about the actions that were alleged this summer, through the media, that the Prime Minister inappropriately touched a journalist 20 years ago. The PM has not addressed this situation in an appropriate way.
What does the member have to say about this?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:29 [p.22548]
Madam Speaker, my colleague who just spoke has been here for a long time, so she has really seen first-hand how things have changed in the House of Commons.
I would like to know if she thinks this bill is part of a long-term evolution that might lead to other legislation that would continue to strengthen the workplace and make it safe.
Does she think this bill will, as we hope, eliminate the slightest possibility of harassment on Parliament Hill? Is she convinced that this bill contains all the necessary measures and provisions to finally keep everyone safe from harassment and discrimination in our workplace here on Parliament Hill?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:31 [p.22548]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her reasoned and reasonable answer, because constantly reviewing legislation describes our constitutional and political role in the House of Commons to a tee.
That is why it is important for Canadians to understand that nothing is ever perfect and that they must not get too cynical and disillusioned about politics. The fact is that everyone here is always working to improve Canadian society.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:32 [p.22548]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my very hon. colleague from Cariboo—Prince George, in northern B.C.
As usual, I want to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us live on CPAC. I know that many of them do watch us, because they tell me so when I go door to door. They tell me that they watched me the week before. I want to say hello to all of them.
Today's debate is a very important one, since we are talking about harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Some may be surprised to hear me say this, and I am no expert, but it seems to me that the Canada Labour Code does not apply to employees who work in MPs' offices on Parliament Hill. This means that the code would not apply to me or my employees. This is rather surprising, in 2018.
I want to quickly touch on last week, which I spent in my riding. You will see why. I hosted two economic round tables. The first round table was for the Beauport business network, which I created a year and a half ago. There are some 50 business owners in this network, who get together once a month to talk about business-related issues and priorities in the riding. On Friday morning, I also held a round table called “Conservatives are listening to Quebecers”. This round table was attended by social, community and business stakeholders, among others.
Yesterday I asked the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour a question. After all, we are talking about workplaces here, with Bill C-65. I asked her if she was aware that we are in a crisis at the moment, especially in Quebec City, but all over Canada, because of the labour shortage. She made a mockery of it, saying that it was proof that the government has created so many jobs in Canada that businesses can no longer find workers. While that may be true from an objective, Socratic and rational standpoint, she is ignoring a real crisis situation that we are in.
I want to say one last thing before I get to the bill. At the two round tables I hosted, every time I visit businesses in my riding, in all my discussions with constituents and in all the correspondence I receive every day, to which I reply in writing every time, people mention the labour shortage. Some businesses have had to shut down in Beauport—Limoilou and others are scaling back operations, so I think it is very sad and upsetting that the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour would make a mockery of my question. The people of Quebec City were not happy to see that on Twitter and Facebook.
Today we are talking about an important bill, the act to amend the Canada Labour Code regarding harassment and violence, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1. It is clear that Conservatives, New Democrats, Liberals and all Canadians in general support the Liberal government's recently introduced bill. That is certainly not something I say every day, but when it is true, it must be acknowledged. With this important bill, even employees on Parliament Hill will benefit from guidelines and protection to keep them safe from sexual harassment, psychological harassment and every kind of discriminatory behaviour in the workplace.
I can say that this affects us all. It could also affect our family, a cousin, a brother or sister and, in my case, it affects my children. My daughter Victoria is four years old and my son Winston is a year and a half. My daughter started kindergarten a few months ago. It is the first time she has attended school. We definitely do not want her to experience discrimination or harassment. It will inevitably happen because good and evil are part of life, and harassment and discrimination will always exist. That is why it is important to have laws that govern, try to control, eliminate or at least reduce this as much as possible in our society.
I would like to tell you that I have directly experienced discrimination and psychological harassment, but not sexual harassment, thank God. When I was in grade six, I moved from New Brunswick to Quebec. I can see my colleague laughing because he knows that I grew up in New Brunswick. I am from Quebec, but I grew up in New Brunswick. I moved to Quebec when I was in grade six. Children can be very brutal because they lack empathy and an understanding of the context in which they find themselves.
Kids are often oblivious to the harm they inflict on others. I got beaten up at recess every day for a year, so this is a subject I am not unfamiliar with. In my case, the situation made me stronger. Unfortunately, in other cases, it has ruined lives. What we want to avoid is situations where harassment and discrimination destroy lives. It is terrible to see a life completely destroyed after such an incident.
I want to reiterate that, setting politics aside and speaking from a human perspective, all members and all Canadians should support this bill. However, that does not mean there is no need to propose certain amendments, which I will discuss shortly.
The bill is meant to strengthen the workplace safety framework on Parliament Hill. When I think of all the young Canadians who work on the Hill, it makes me even more motivated to support this bill. The people working on the Hill are often young Canadians in their twenties who are full of hope, ambition and energy. They love politics, and they love Canada. They are proud to work for a minister, the Prime Minister, a shadow cabinet member or an MP. These young people arrive in Parliament full of energy and enthusiasm.
There is no denying that, throughout our country's history, members and ministers have behaved inappropriately or committed inappropriate acts, including sexual harassment, psychological harassment and discrimination.
Many of the young victims were surely brilliant, highly motivated and ambitious individuals. Perhaps they were even future Liberal, Conservative or NDP prime ministers, although unfortunately for them, that will never happen now. These were young people who were here for the right reasons, who were not cynical. A lot of young people in Canada are saying they have no use for politics, and that is unfortunate. Those young people should read books on Canadian history to understand what we are doing here today. Some young people have had the courage to get over their cynicism and come to this place, only to become victims of sexual or psychological harassment or discrimination. Careers have been destroyed in some cases, along with their hope and love for Canada. I find that appalling and very upsetting.
This bill sets out to fill a legal void. I would like to remind everyone that Parliament Hill was the only place where Canada Labour Code provisions on harassment and discrimination did not apply. There was a legal void, and it is important to acknowledge that that void played a part in destroying young Canadians who came here full of energy to help build a strong and thriving country on both national and international stages. Everyone wants a workplace that contributes to their quality of life, one where safety is important. Employees perform better in such workplaces.
Most of the Conservatives' amendments were accepted. We successfully introduced an amendment to prevent political interference during harassment investigations. The Conservatives played an active role in bringing the bill to this stage. We successfully introduced an amendment to ensure strict timelines for investigations into incidents of harassment. We proposed mandatory sexual harassment training, training that all MPs received. We proposed a mandatory review of the bill after five years because it needs to be reviewed at regular intervals, as my colleague said.
In closing, since this is Small Business Week, I want to say three cheers for business people. I thank the people of Beauport—Limoilou for the work they do every day. I think they are wonderful, and I look forward to seeing them when I go door to door.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:43 [p.22550]
Madam Speaker, I agree with the member that this is an important piece of legislation. It is the reason that we as a caucus made sure that we could adjust or increase the benefits of the bill by working thoughtfully throughout the process during committee hearings. I believe there will be other committee hearings also, and maybe other witnesses who will continue to adjust the bill to make sure that it corresponds with the needs of the Canadian people and our employees in our Hill offices. It is an important piece of legislation that we should all be proud to support.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:45 [p.22550]
Madam Speaker, the member for Jonquière has raised a key issue that I should have raised myself since definitions are very important in legislation, particularly in this case.
We agree that the goal is to enhance the security of employees on Parliament Hill, but we also do not want to create an environment where any employee can destroy the life of a parliamentarian because some things, such as sexual harassment, were poorly defined.
I hope that what my colleague from Jonquière said will be examined in committee. We need to seriously consider properly defining the problem that we want to address.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:46 [p.22550]
Madam Speaker, I have no opinion on that right now, but I invite my colleague to continue her work and express her concerns. Perhaps she could have a meeting with our critic on the matter.
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