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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 10:49 [p.22914]
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise to speak in the House.
I would like to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us now on CPAC or watching a rebroadcast on Facebook or Twitter.
Without further delay, I would like to address the previous speaker's comments. I find it interesting that he said their objective was to prevent foreign influence from third parties.
The bill will pass, since the Liberals have a majority. However, one problem I have with the bill is that it will allow more than 1.5 million Canadians who have been living outside of Canada for more than five years to vote in general elections, even if they have been outside Canada for 10 or 15 years.
These people have a privilege that even Canadians who have never left the country do not even have. The Liberals will let them randomly choose which riding they want to vote in. This is a massive privilege.
If I were living in the United States for 10 years and saw that the vote was really close in a certain riding, thanks to the new amendments made to the bill, I could decide to vote for the Liberal Party in order to ensure that a Liberal member gets elected. That seems like a very dangerous measure to me. It will give a lot of power to people who have been living abroad for a very long time. That still does not make them foreigners, since they are Canadian citizens.
For those watching us, I want to note that we are talking about Bill C-76 to modernize the Canada Elections Act.
This is an extremely important issue because it is the Canada Elections Act that sets the guidelines for our elections in our democracy. These elections determine the party that will form the next government of Canada.
I am sure that the people of Beauport—Limoilou watching us right now can hardly believe the Liberal government when it says that it wants to improve democracy or Canada's electoral system or allow a lot of people to exercise their right to vote. The Liberals' record on different elements of democracy has been deplorable the past three years.
Two years ago when the House was debating the issue, I was a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The Liberals introduced a parliamentary reform that included some rather surprising elements. They wanted to weaken the opposition, thereby weakening roughly 10 million Canadians who voted for the opposition parties, including the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party.
They wanted to cut speaking times in the House, which is completely ridiculous. I have said it many times before and I will say it again. An MP currently has the right to speak for 20 minutes. Most of the time, each MP speaks for 10 minutes. Through the reform, the Liberals wanted to cut speaking times from 20 minutes to 10 minutes at all times. The 20-minute speaking slot would no longer exist.
I have a book at home that I love called The Confederation Debates. It features speeches by Papineau, Doyon, George-Étienne Cartier, John A. MacDonald, Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, among many others that I could name. These great MPs would speak for four, five, six, seven or eight hours without stopping, long into the night.
With their parliamentary reforms, the Liberals wanted to reduce MPs' speaking time to 10 minutes. They wanted to take away our right to speak for 20 minutes. All this was intended to minimize the opposition's speaking time, to stifle debate on various issues.
What they did yesterday was even worse. It was a clear-cut example of their attitude towards parliamentary democracy. They imposed time allocation. In layman's terms, they placed a gag order on a debate on the modernization of the Canada Elections Act. No example could more blatantly demonstrate their ultimate intent, which is to ram the bill through as fast as possible. It is really a shame. They want to ram this down our throats.
There is also what they did in 2015 and 2016 with their practice of cash for access.
When big-time lobbyists want to meet with a minister or the Prime Minister to discuss an issue, they just have to register and pay $1,500, or $1,575 now, for the opportunity to influence them.
These are not get-togethers with ordinary constituents. These are get-togethers arranged for the express purpose of giving prominent lobbyists access to top government officials and enabling them to influence decisions.
Here is a great example. The Minister of Finance attended a get-together with Port of Halifax officials and people closely connected to the Port of Halifax. No other Liberal Party MP was there. That is a blatant conflict of interest and cash for access.
If Canadians have a hard time trusting the Liberals when they say they introduced this bill because they want to enfranchise people or improve democracy and civic engagement, it is also because of all of the promises the Liberals have broken since their election in 2015.
Elections and electoral platforms form the foundations of Canadian democracy. Each party's political platform contains election promises. Personally, I prefer to call them commitments. The Liberals made some big promises. They said they would run small $10-billion deficits for the first two years and then reduce the deficits. Year after year, however, as they are in their third year of a four-year mandate, they have been running deficits that are much worse: $30 billion, $20 billion and, this year, $19 billion, although their plan projected a $6-billion deficit.
They broke that promise, but worse still, they broke their promise to return to a balanced budget. As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has put it so well often enough, this is the first time we are seeing structural deficits outside wartime or a major recession. What is worse, this is the first time a government has had no plan to return to a balanced budget. It defies reason. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, said again recently that it is unbelievable to see a government not taking affairs of the state more seriously.
Meanwhile, with respect to infrastructure, the Liberals said they were introducing the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history—everything is always historic with them—worth $187 billion. What is the total amount spent to date? They have spent, at most, $7 billion on a few projects here and there, although this was supposed to be a pan-Canadian, structured and large-scale program.
The Liberals also broke their promise to reform the electoral system. They wanted a preferential balloting system because, according to analyses, surveys and their strategists, it would have benefited them. I did not support that promise, but it is probably why so many Canadians voted for the Liberals.
There is then a string of broken promises, but electoral reform was a fundamental promise and the Liberals reneged on it. It would have made changes to the Election Act and to how Canadians choose their government. That clearly shows once again that Canadians cannot trust the Liberals when they say they will reform the Election Act in order to strengthen democracy in Canada.
Let us now get back to the matter at hand, Bill C-76, which makes major fundamental changes that I find deplorable.
First, Bill C-76 would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize the use of the voter information card as a piece of identification for voting. As one of my Conservative colleagues said recently, whether we like it or not, voter cards show up all over, even in recycling boxes. Sometimes voter cards are found sticking out of community mailboxes.
There are all kinds of ways that an individual can get hold of a voter card and go to the polling station with it. It is not that difficult. This Liberal bill enables that individual to vote, although there is no way of knowing if they are that person, unless they are asked to provide identification—and that is not even the biggest problem.
It does not happen often, thank goodness, but when I go to the CHUL in Quebec City—which is the hospital where I am registered—not only do I have to provide the doctor's requisition for blood work, but I also have to show a piece of ID and my hospital card.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-04-17 12:19 [p.18436]
Mr. Speaker, I think a point of order is appropriate here. I have been listening to my colleague for about 10 minutes now, and he has been talking about what his government is doing with the country's finances. I believe we are supposed to be debating the conflicts of interest this government has been a party to for the past year. The Prime Minister has essentially been accused of breaking a federal statute. I think that is what we should be talking about. We moved an amendment to refer the matter to Canada's Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to get some suggestions for how to address the flaws in the legislation. I think the member across the way should stick to the issue at hand.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:37 [p.16844]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Durham for his excellent speech.
This matter involving the Prime Minister and the Aga Khan’s island is very unfortunate, but something positive has come of it. It has allowed us to see through the government and all of its Liberal MPs who have been claiming to have a monopoly on virtue since 2015. They have been playing games with Canadians for the past two years, claiming day after day, year after year, in a disgusting and apolitical manner, that we Conservatives are not working for the well-being of all Canadians.
The Prime Minister’s 2016 vacation on the Aga Khan’s island is so troubling for Canadians that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner found four violations of the law. It is now obvious, after this trip, that the Liberals no longer have the monopoly on virtue.
All Canadians can now see the Liberals’ true colours: a political, post-modern and radical left made up of social engineers who want to change our beautiful country’s customs and traditions merely for the sake of change.
Thank God for opposition day. Thank God, because when he was found guilty of four violations of the Conflict of Interest Act, the Prime Minister merely apologized, saying that he would not do it again.
If the Liberals were in opposition, they would do exactly what we are doing right now. Incidentally, this is not a tactic to divert attention from the country’s finances, which are regrettable on several levels. We are doing our democratic and parliamentary duty. We must enlighten the many Canadians and citizens of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening. We must explain that this is the first time in the history of Canada, since its creation in 1867, that a prime minister has broken a federal law.
How did he break the law? The Ethics Commissioner explained it very simply by referring to the four sections violated. She wrote, “I [also] found that...he contravened section 5 for failing to arrange his private affairs to avoid such an opportunity.” She also said that she found him “in contravention of section 11 of the Act when members of his family accepted the Aga Khan’s gift of hospitality and the use of his private island in March 2016 and when he and his family accepted the Aga Khan’s gift of hospitality in December 2016.” She concluded by saying that “[the Prime Minister] contravened section 21 of the Act when he did not recuse himself from discussions that provided an opportunity to improperly further the private interest associated with one of the institutions of the Aga Khan....”
The Canadian government gave the Aga Khan tens of millions of dollars, my friends, and your political leader went gallivanting around on his billionaire’s island.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:42 [p.16845]
Madam Speaker, my colleagues on the other side of the House are laughing, and meanwhile their leader has violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act. They are laughing, and meanwhile their government has entered talks involving tens of millions of dollars. In fact, it has already given tens of millions of dollars to the Aga Khan's causes. Whether or not these causes are worthy matters little. In the meantime, the Prime Minister was gallivanting around his private island.
Lastly, the commissioner found that “Mr. Trudeau contravened section 12 of the Act when his family travelled on non-commercial aircraft chartered by the Aga Khan”. I am pleased that Ms. Dawson, the Ethics Commissioner, had the courage to write this incriminating report which says, in black and white, just how the Prime Minister violated four sections of the act.
This is all terrible, but there is something else that bothers me even more and that makes me sad. I do not say this lightly, and I rarely say this in politics, but I am sad, as all Canadians should be. I genuinely do not understand how a prime minister of our great federation could not only decide to take his Christmas vacation outside Canada, which is already a shameful and dishonourable thing for a prime minister to do, but also to travel to a billionaire's island.
I knocked on doors throughout the Christmas break. I met one constituent who lives in affordable housing. He had tears in his eyes as he told me that he had almost no teeth left. He has had toothaches for years, he needs dentures, and he has a very low income, but his honour prevents him from requesting social assistance. However, he still cannot afford dentures and cannot afford to replace his teeth. He spoke to me about his teeth for 15 minutes, because it was such a big part of his life. What he is going through is terrible.
Across the country, Canadians are living in poverty. People are starving and freezing to death in Toronto, in Montreal, and in Vancouver. They are not dying because they have mental health issues or addictions. They are dying because of sociological problems such as lack of education. Poverty is a real issue in Canadian society, but not only is the Prime Minister not encouraging Canadians to stay here, he himself is spending time on a billionaire's tropical island.
Seriously, people are dying of hunger in Canada, but our shameless Prime Minister had the nerve to take a vacation that cost taxpayers $200,000. The worst part is his total contempt for Canadians. He should never have done that. As Prime Minister, he should at the very least avoid vacations like that during his four-year term. Four years is not a long time in the life of a man who could live to the age of 90. He could not wait four years to go gallivanting around on a tropical beach while people here at home in eastern and Atlantic Canada are dying of hunger because of the employment insurance spring gap, not to mention the indigenous peoples on every reserve in the country.
The Prime Minister says that his most important relationship is the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples. This is ridiculous, since his most important relationship should be with all Canadians and not with any one group in particular. He is constantly spouting his lofty ideals, saying that he works for the middle class and for Indigenous people on reserve, and that he will make investments for Canadians, and then he vacations on a billionaire's private island. Talk about setting a good example. This just makes me sad.
Since 1867, and I think it is written in the Constitution, all governments are required to operate in accordance with the notion of peace, order, and good government. However, so far, the Liberals have been unable to form a good government. They continue to run deficits, when there is no war and no economic crisis.
They keep breaking promises. I will conclude by saying that, yesterday, the Minister of International Trade proudly announced that his program was huge in comparison with free trade. They have done absolutely nothing for free trade. That is why we introduced the TPP. The President of the United States is the one who began renegotiating NAFTA. Were is this Liberal free trade agreement I have heard so much about? It does not exist. We must denounce the Prime Minister’s attitude and behaviour, and that is what we are doing today.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:48 [p.16846]
Madam Speaker, who, in 2008, offered a national apology for residential schools? Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Who met with the Assembly of First Nations each year? Prime Minister Harper. We were not making grand speeches, we were working for the well-being of all Canadians without exception. We did not have a special relationship with any one group. We were working for all Canadians. That is what we were doing.
I believe that it is a matter of honour. It is completely unreasonable for the Prime Minister to go gallivanting around a billionaire’s island when Canadians are dying of hunger. It is unacceptable.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:50 [p.16846]
Madam Speaker, I wish I had a recorder when I saw that on TV.
Yes, I was discouraged by it. However, no report from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner was made or put forward on that particular issue. I trust the parliamentary agent, and nothing was produced in regard to the issue he is speaking about. However, something was produced in regard to the trip of the Prime Minister to the Aga Khan's island.
However, beside this matter of equality, my main argument today is that it was completely dishonourable for the Prime Minister to go to an island in the south. He should stay here.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:51 [p.16846]
Madam Speaker, the member is right. We try to set an example for our kids. I have two kids myself. One day I will speak to them about this issue, but I prefer to talk to them about the greatness of this country, the constitution, and what we can do for French Canadian people in this country.
I completely agree with my colleague. It is unfortunate. However, I will teach my kids how to be honourable in life and how to not ask for rights but for duties. It is what I can do, not what I can have. I will tell them to be responsible individuals.
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
2017-11-23 11:05 [p.15500]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Louis-Hébert and I are about the same age. We are both involved in our communities and in politics, as evidenced by our presence here as members of the House of Commons.
At the very beginning of his term in office, I remember the member for Louis-Hébert telling the media loud and clear that he wanted to fight cynicism, which he felt was rampant in our society. Perhaps if he takes a step back, he will see that he is not living up to that ideal and that he is actually contributing to the cynicism he says he wants to fight.
Although his government has done some things that make sense and are good for Canadians, today we are debating a very important motion, one that will help fight cynicism and make the Minister of Finance realize that he has done things to undermine Canadians' confidence.
The member for Louis-Hébert came very close to having a question of privilege raised against him, which is very serious, when he shamelessly said that the Minister of Finance had disclosed everything to the Ethics Commissioner, which was not the case. He did not disclose his villa in France, which earned him a $200 fine. I would therefore ask the member for Louis-Hébert to redeem himself and to openly acknowledge that he knows that today we are debating one very specific thing, namely the Minister of Finance's responsibility to be 100% ethically clean. What we want him to do as parliamentary secretary is to assure us that the Minister of Finance does not have any assets that could put him in a conflict of interest situation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-23 12:02 [p.15508]
Mr. Speaker, a lot of people in Beauport—Limoilou are listening to us right now, and I want to say hello to them.
Our political system is a parliamentary democracy. I believe that it is the best system in the world, and I think all members of the House would agree.
In this system, ministerial responsibility is the most important thing we carry out every day, primarily in question period and through opposition days like today. Ministerial responsibility was acquired as a result of long debates and long military campaigns.
Les Patriotes were not all French Canadians; they included some English Canadians, too. They fought in the 1820s and 1830s to obtain ministerial responsibility, which the British monarchy and British Parliament granted us with the Act of Union, creating a united Canada in 1841.
What we are doing today with our opposition day is exercising that ministerial responsibility and ensuring that it is fulfilled. One of the ways this is done is through investigative journalism, which is very important and which we on this side of the House take very seriously. In fact, with the help of its sponsor here, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, a senator in the other place managed to get a bill passed that provides greater protection to whistleblowers and the confidential sources of investigative journalism.
What have investigative journalists discovered in recent months? The Minister of Finance did three things, or overlooked three things, or made three serious mistakes.
Need we remind members that the finance minister is second in command in the Government of Canada. He is second in command not because he is more important than other ministers, but it can still be argued that a country's finances are critical given their implications for education, health, and the well-being of Canadians. For that reason, the position of finance minister is held in high regard and the incumbent must do everything possible to ensure that Canadians' confidence in the minister is never in doubt or undermined.
Unfortunately, the three things that the finance minister did in two years, which were reported by investigative journalists in recent months, have slowly and surely undermined Canadians' confidence in the minister.
In my view, the attitude, behaviour, and actions of all members in their day-to-day activities both inside and outside the House must always be guided by three principles: a sense of duty, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of honour.
I urge my Liberal colleagues to listen carefully. The Minister of Finance, like all of us, had the solemn, legal duty to disclose his assets to the Ethics Commissioner right away. He had six months to do so, using a form that is pretty easy to fill out. It may have been more difficult for him, since he has so many assets. However, he had a duty to disclose all of his assets, in black and white, clearly and openly, leaving no doubt and leaving nothing out. He had a duty, and he did not properly fulfill it. I will get back to this and explain why.
The minister also had the responsibility, and still does today, to inform the Ethics Commissioner of any changes to his personal situation throughout his term. Such changes would include a new acquisition, a boat in the Bahamas, or, who knows, a second villa in France.
As a member of Parliament, I receive updates from the Ethics Commissioner reminding me of my responsibility and duty to disclose any new assets, throughout my term. For example, I recently declared that I purchased a home for my lovely little family; I was happy to do so. All members of Parliament have this responsibility.
In my opinion, however, honour is even more important than duty or responsibility. When members of Parliament are guided by a sense a honour, their actions are naturally guided by a sense of duty and responsibility. The Minister of Finance failed in his duty and his responsibility as an elected official, minister, and member of Cabinet over the past two years, and I will talk about this failure in a few seconds. Unfortunately for him and for this government, he sullied his honour.
First, two years ago, when he was made to fill out the much-discussed form disclosing his assets, interests, and so on to the Ethics Commissioner, he forgot, nay, omitted to declare a company incorporated in France that owns a luxurious villa in Provence in the south of France. I imagine it is very luxurious and quite expensive. That is unbelievable.
I have here a public notice of penalty issued under the authority of the Conflict of Interest Act. This is not a joke. These are not allegations or opposition attacks. This is fact. The Ethics Commissioner issued a penalty just a few weeks ago and fined the Minister of Finance $200 for violating paragraphs 22(2)(a) and 22(2)(d) of the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to include in a confidential report a corporation established in France and an estimate of its value and, crucially, by failing to include in the report his directorship in that corporation. This is serious business.
The Minister of Finance, an important businessman from Bay Street in Toronto who manages a huge family business, somehow forgot to report that asset in France, although he claims it was just an administrative oversight. That is a first. This actually happened; he paid the fine. He was caught and had to face the music, although only administratively. Of course, these are not criminal charges. That was his first dereliction of duty and breach of Canadian laws, the first stain on his reputation, and the first thing that shook Canadians' confidence in him.
On top of that, he did not put his shares in Morneau Shepell, worth $20 million, in a blind trust. He hid them in a numbered company in Alberta and has made millions on them over the past two years. Thank goodness he donated it to charity. It was the least he could do, but he still has not apologized and he refuses to talk about the fact that he has been violating the spirit of the law over the past year.
Lastly, he is once again being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner regarding a conflict of interest, because he introduced Bill C-27, which makes changes to pension plans and will benefit the family business started by his father. He is therefore in a direct conflict of interest, he failed in his duty and his responsibilities, and his honour is besmirched.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-23 12:13 [p.15509]
Madam Speaker, I mean, the facts could not be clearer. The minister has not divulged to the Ethics Commissioner his holdings and the value of his holdings; for example, the villa in France. He has not divulged this. He did not say that he had, up until last month, $20 million worth of shares in Morneau Shepell hiding in a numbered company in Alberta. He did not say that in the past months when he was putting together a proposed law that would directly benefit three specialized enterprises or companies that work for pension plans in Canada, one being Morneau Shepell, which he owned until he was minister.
The member said that there are no facts, but there are facts. There was a penalty of $200 from the Ethics Commissioner. It is significant.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-23 12:16 [p.15509]
Madam Speaker, yes, that is the case. I can confirm for the hon. member that last week, when we were all in our ridings, I met many constituents who all told me that it is outrageous, and that it is even more outrageous to see the Minister of Finance acting as if nothing was outrageous.
There is a clear conflict of interest here, and we should always remind Canadians that the Prime Minister sent a mandate letter to each minister stating in the first paragraph that not only did he want them to follow precisely each article of the law, and most concerning is this one today of the Ethics Commissioner, but he said to go above and beyond the spirit of the law. Well, I can say that the minister went above and beyond physically by putting all his shares in a hiding company in Alberta. He has put together an action that brings a great distrust of the government from the Canadian people. As the opposition, we have the duty, the responsibility, and the honour to hold the minister to account.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-10-26 12:03 [p.14577]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise.
I would like to take a few moments to tell the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening right now that I am truly very disappointed with what the Finance Minister did last week and this week. Canadians have become aware that he misled them for two years and that he did not put his $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares in a blind trust. I seriously expected him to rise last week for his final response in question period to say that he regretted it, and that not only did he no longer have his shares, but he was donating to charity the $65,000 in additional monthly profits that he pocketed for the last two years. That would have been the least he could do. He is an extremely wealthy man. He should have done that, and I do not think that it would have jeopardized his retirement.
With respect to Bill C-24, I will be addressing primarily the aspect of the ministers and the administrative change that means absolutely nothing, as well as the supplementary estimates. I will also very quickly address the issue of regional development. The Liberals are abolishing regional development minister positions. These positions are key, because today 60% of Canadians live in large cities. The same is true almost everywhere in the world. These positions are also important because the voice of rural Canadians is being less and less heard in the House. There will no longer be ministers representing regional development agencies in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec or western Canada. These agencies will no longer exist, or at least they will not have any ministers. These ministers sat at the cabinet table to ensure that every region of Canada had a voice.
The first thing the Liberals did was to make sure that there would no longer be any ministers representing the regions and to entrust all decisions to a single individual, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Toronto. This has already had a serious impact. Last fall, $150,000 in funds earmarked for economic development in northern Ontario was allocated to a company based in the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s riding of Mississauga. This is precisely the new type of politics the Liberals have been playing.
This spring, an Atlantic liberal caucus subcommittee indicated that they had been told that processing times at ACOA were three times longer since the appointment of a minister from Toronto. It is not surprising, since he himself, as a minister from Toronto, is completely overwhelmed by the affairs of Canada’s great city of Toronto and completely overwhelmed by the affairs of his own department. That is why we need independent ministers who can focus on the region they represent. We are saddened to see the government go ahead and abolish these key minister positions in Canada.
I spoke about Bill C-24 here in the House about six months ago. It was late spring. At that time not so long ago, I was still a permanent member of the powerful Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. It was quite the learning experience for me. I had to read a huge number of documents and learn about many financial, economic, and structural issues. The committee deals with government operations and estimates.
Every four or five months, the committee reviews and analyzes the supplementary estimates, in other words, the credits the government wants to have approved by the committees so that it can close its fiscal year on a sound note. I observed one thing. I do not remember exactly whether it was credit A, credit B or credit C, or which department it was. I think it was the Treasury Board. After it was elected, the government immediately wanted to raise the salaries of the ministers of State, as is proposed in the bill. Normally, to do so, the government must introduce a bill like the one we are debating today concerning ministers’ salaries and allowances.
That is not what they have been doing for the past two years. In fact, the Liberals used the supplementary estimates, by including the votes in the supplementary estimates and getting them approved through the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates for two consecutive years. We Conservatives were a minority. We voted against that funding, but that did not change anything.
If this bill were so important, if it were true, as they claim, that this bill is intended to foster ministerial pay and gender equality, then why did they use the back door to increase salaries? Why did the Liberals not introduce Bill C-24 when they first came to power in 2015? If gender equality were that important to them, they would have introduced this bill as a priority at the outset.
Something about this really surprises me. An hon. member for whom I have enormous respect and who served in the military said that a minister is a minister is a minister. First, that is an extreme extrapolation. One can say that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, but at the same time, a minister is still a Canadian like any other. The part that concerns me is that ministers of state are not on the same footing as ministers. The question is simple: do they have deputy ministers? No, and this bill will do nothing to change that fact, either.
Ministers of state will not have deputy ministers or cabinets, which have a staff of about 40 to assist their minister perform difficult tasks. They will not have the right to submit memorandums to cabinet explaining government issues. Most importantly, they will not have any officials serving under them. For example, the Minister of National Defence has 80,000 public servants under him. Not only is there the civilian administrative wing comprising some 20,000 employees, but there is also the military wing, because military troops are public servants. All told, we are talking 100,000 people.
Ministers of state will not have 100,000 people to manage and give orders to. Neither will they oversee an actual institution, or have headquarters from which to work. For example, Public Services and Procurement Canada is across the beautiful Ottawa River, and there is a huge building there with Public Services and Procurement Canada written on it. About 10,000 people work there.
Ministers of state have none of the prerequisites that would make them equal to ministers. This has nothing to do with gender equality or equity between individuals. Ministers of state simply do not have a minister’s workload. That is the only thing Canadians need to know.
Remarkably, the hon. member of St. Catharines himself said it a thousand times in his speech on administrative changes. That is exactly what it is: an administrative change. It is not a substantial change. The Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, who comes from the Eastern Townships, will not have a building with 10,000 public servants or a cabinet. She will not have anything a real minister has. I am on the Standing Committee on Official Languages, so I recognize that the files she manages are extremely important, but her workload will still be quite a bit lighter than that of the Minister of National Defence, for example.
My colleague from Calgary Shepard made me think of something. It is not true that all cabinet ministers are equal. No one can tell me that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Canadian Heritage are on equal footing. I must say that I prefer heritage to the economy. That being said, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has a portfolio because she is the House leader and she is the Minister of Small Business and Tourism. She has more to deal with than another minister who does not have these two portfolios and these two responsibilities. It is as simple as that.
I wanted to say one last thing, something a little more philosophical. Imposing a gender-equal cabinet comes with its own share of risks. At the end of the day, philosophically and legally speaking, what does it even mean? It means that we will never see an all-female cabinet in Canada. I would even go so far as to say that this is good way for the Prime Minister of Canada to make sure that women never make up more than half a cabinet.
In fact, I would even say that this will stop the advancement of women in politics.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-03-22 14:48 [p.9903]
Mr. Speaker, it is not just a question of role and money. It is a question of principle and honour, and the government has none.
A prime minister must adhere to three guiding principles: he must show humility, show restraint, and manage finances carefully.
When will this Prime Minister finally act with honour, lead by example, and stop wasting Canadians' money?
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