Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 12:49 [p.22254]
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague for Barrie—Innisfil has stated, we generally support the bill and will see what happens at committee during the hearings and the reading of the different articles.
However, I noticed while reading the bill that there is an amendment to the Divorce Act that proposes an obligation on the two spouses who go through a divorce to consult a lawyer. I know some friends who have been divorced and it was perfectly positive. There was no huge discussion, no fears of fighting whatsoever about any of the things that could go badly during a divorce.
Is it really necessary to have this amendment that would force the parties to consult a lawyer and spend money when it is not required?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:14 [p.22257]
Mr. Speaker, while reading the proposed bill, I noticed there is a clause that proposes to make an obligation for spouses going through divorce to consult a lawyer. Even some of my friends whom I know closely have gone through divorce in an amicable way, and sometimes it is possible to do so. Is it really necessary to put forward an obligation to consult a lawyer? I believe this is one of the amendments proposed to the Divorce Act. I wonder what the hon. member thinks about that.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:20 [p.22257]
Mr. Speaker, I could not be more thrilled to rise today on behalf of the 93,000 citizens of Beauport—Limoilou, to whom I send warm, sincere greetings. This is my first time speaking since we came back from the summer break.
Today, I will be speaking to my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou about Bill C-78, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another act. Marriage has always been extremely important to me. From a tender age, I yearned to be married someday. I have always believed that the bond between a married couple is something infinitely precious. Marriage is also a cherished tradition, and as a Conservative, I like keeping up traditions.
I say this without prejudice, but unfortunately, I grew up in the social context of Quebec, which no longer values the institution of marriage as it should. I am referring to official marriage, either civil or religious. Marriage, as an institution, is no longer held in respect. Most of my constituents are in civil unions, which is perfectly fine. Nevertheless, marriage is still dear to my heart. As a Conservative, I wanted to perpetuate the tradition of marriage. I have been with my wife, Pascale Laneuville, for 14 years. After living together for seven years, I wanted her to experience a proper marriage proposal. I was happy to do it, and I am delighted to still be married today. I hope my marriage will last until I die, hopefully in the House. I want to be an MP for 40 years. That is my most fervent wish.
That said, I would like to talk a bit about the summer I had in my riding of Beauport—Limoilou. Over the three-month summer break, I met with many of my constituents, who are watching us right now on CPAC. I said “summer break” because Parliament was on a break, but we were not on a break from work. Journalists often like to confuse Canadians about this. I was in my office the whole time, except for my two-week vacation to the Le Genévrier campground in Baie-Saint-Paul. That is a little promo. It is a beautiful campground in the Charlevoix region, in my colleague's riding.
I celebrated July 1 at Maison Girardin, in Beauport. One thousand people joined me to celebrate Confederation. I hosted my third annual summer party at Domaine Maizerets park. More than 3,500 residents came to my meeting to tell me about their concerns, and I let them know what I can do for them as their MP. There was complimentary corn and hot dogs, generously donated by Provigo on 1st Avenue in Limoilou. I want to thank the owner, Mr. Bourboin, was is very generous to the people of Beauport—Limoilou.
I continued to go door to door in my riding two evenings a week, as I do every month. I noticed that my constituents want to learn more about our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. People are quite impressed by the Conservative Party's openness to Quebec as a distinct society. I was pleased to discover this when chatting with my constituents.
I also organized two meetings with Beauport's network of business people. These business luncheons are attended by more than 60 Beauport entrepreneurs every two or three weeks. The next one is scheduled on Wednesday, October 10, at 7 a.m., at the Ambassador Hotel. There will be an economic round table with Mr. Barrucco, executive director of the Association des économistes québécois, who will answer all questions from small and medium-sized business owners from Beauport—Limoilou.
I attended almost every event held in my riding this summer. I also held my second “Alupa à l'écoute” public consultation. The third will happen in November. I will then be introducing a bill to address an ever-present concern of my constituents. Naturally, there is also the day-to-day work at my office, with citizens' files and all the rest.
Finally, two weeks ago, together with the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, and André Drolet, who was then the Liberal candidate for Jean-Lesage, I participated, with great fanfare, in the sod turning for the Medicago production facility. This is going to create more than 400 well-paid, quality jobs in vaccine research. It will also contribute to the revitalization of the Estimauville sector, which is very much needed because since the 1970s and 1980s, it is a sector of Quebec City that has been neglected.
Now back to the subject at hand, Bill C-78. Let me start by saying that the Conservatives plan to support this bill at second reading on some conditions. We are eager to hear from the witnesses at committee and to see how the Liberals react to our concerns and our vision for this bill because, as I will explain in a moment, some of the things in this bill make very little sense to us.
I would like to explain the gist of this bill to the people of Beauport—Limoilou. The main goal is to act in children's best interest. My constituents should know that the Divorce Act has not been amended in 20 years, or two decades. In that time, we have seen generation X, generation Y, and the millennials. They have had a major impact on Quebec elections. As the years go by, things change, social mores change, and culture evolves. Two decades, 20 years, is a long time.
I might go so far as to compliment the Liberal government on its decision to review this legislation and amend it to better reflect everything children go through when their parents divorce and take into account the situations they find themselves in. The Liberals are absolutely right about the importance of putting children first during the divorce process, just as patients should be at the centre of conversations about health care. The Conservatives agree 100% that this should be the focus of the bill. Yes, children should be central to discussions during the divorce process to keep their suffering to a minimum regardless of what goes on between their parents.
As a brief aside, I would like to tell a joke that I always tell my friends and even my family. My parents are divorced, and so are my wife's parents. Quite frankly, it was pretty common for their generation. As I often say jokingly, divorce is not an option for me and my wife, even if we wanted one, because my daughter and son already have four grandfathers and four grandmothers. The situation is already so ridiculous that I would not want to add another four grandfathers and four grandmothers. As members can see, divorce is not an option for me. However, for individuals who need to divorce for unavoidable reasons, it is important that the legislation reflect the mores, customs and conventions of the present day.
In addition, the bill brought another thought to mind, and I think members will see its relevance. The United States-Mexico-Canada agreement was reached this week, so I drew a parallel. Since we are talking about marriage, agreements and concerns, we could look at the USMCA as an economic marriage, of sorts, between two countries. In this economic marriage, which has been arranged for sound and objective reasons based on a win-win logic, the aim is to protect the children, which, in this case, are the Canadian economy and our sovereignty.
The USMCA is an important agreement between two countries that have decided to open their borders and create a relationship and ties in order to move forward together toward shared growth and an economy that works for both sides. However, we see two big problems with this marriage. First of all, it simply does not cut it economically speaking, because the Prime Minister and member for Papineau failed to ensure its fairness.
For example, the softwood lumber dispute has not been resolved. This is the third or fourth softwood lumber crisis. I visited Rimouski in the Gaspé region. Actually, I know the people who live there would not be happy to hear me say that Rimouski is in the Gaspé, so I will say that I visited Rimouski, which is in the Lower St. Lawrence region, where there are a number of lumber mills. Obviously, they are tired of dealing with one softwood lumber crisis after another. This would have been the perfect opportunity for the government to strengthen Canada's relationship with the United States and resolve the softwood lumber dispute.
Let us think too of all of the other regions of Quebec that will be negatively impacted by the imminent breach in supply management on dairy products. Once again, Canada is giving without getting anything in return. I realized that this marriage is not at all fair. When we officially entered into a relationship with the United States in 1989—
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:33 [p.22259]
Mr. Speaker, I can understand my colleague's concern. I did have a point I was getting at. I want to talk about clauses 54 and 101 of Bill C-78 and how they contradict Bill C-75.
However, I was talking about something that is very important to me. I will use a different analogy. Let us leave NAFTA behind for a different analogy.
We have a Prime Minister who introduced Bill C-78, telling Canadians that after 20 years, he is proposing important amendments, some fundamental and others more technical, that will strengthen the legislation and the institution of marriage in Canada.
Notwithstanding the fact that we Conservative members plan to support this bill, following the committee studies, we feel it is hard to trust the Prime Minister when he says he wants to strengthen marriage, considering his behaviour as the head of government.
For example, when Mr. Trudeau was elected in 2015, we might say that it was a marriage between him and the people of Canada. However, after everything that the Prime Minister has done in the past three years, a marriage would not have lasted a year since he broke three major promises. I would even say that these are promises that break up the very core of his marriage with Canada. I will get to the clauses in this bill that have me concerned, but I want to draw a parallel. How can we trust the Prime Minister when it comes to this divorce bill, when he himself does not keep his promises to Canadians?
He made three fundamental promises. The first was to run deficits of only $10 billion for the first three years and then cut back on that. He broke that promise. The deficits have been $30 billion every year.
The second fundamental broken promise of his marriage with the people of Canada was to achieve a balanced budget by 2020-21. Now we are talking about 2045, my goodness. Is there anything more important than finances in a marriage? Yes, there is love. I get it.
However, budgets are essential in a home. Finances are essential for a couple to remain together. I can attest to that. Love has its limits in a home. Bills have to get paid and children have to eat. Budgets need to be balanced, something that Canadian families do all the time. Our Prime Minister is unable to keep that promise.
The other promise has to do with our voting system, how we are going to run our home, our political system. Just before they got married, the Prime Minister promised Canadians that he would reform the voting system. That was a key promise and he broke it. In fact it was one of the first promises he broke and it is a serious broken promise in his marriage with Canadians in my opinion. It is a broken promise to every young person who trusted him.
Personally, I completely disagree with reforming the voting system because I believe that the first past the post system is the best guarantee for a parliamentary democracy. That said, it was a key promise that he made to youth and the leftists of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, who view proportional representation as being better for them, their future and their concerns. However, he broke his promise. The marriage has been on the verge of breaking up for a long time now. I predict that it will only last one more year.
I have one last point to make in my analogy and then I will discuss the bill. I want to talk about his infrastructure promise. The Prime Minister said that he would invest $183 billion in infrastructure over the next 14 years. It was the largest program in the history of Canada because, according to the Liberals, their programs are always the largest in the history of Canada. I would remind members that ours was incredible as well, with $80 billion invested between 2008 and 2015.
I will ask my colleagues a question they are sure to know the answer to. How many billions of the $183 billion have been spent after four years? The answer is $7 billion, if I am not mistaken. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer mentioned it in one of his reports.
Therefore, how can we have confidence in the Prime Minister, the member for Papineau, who is introducing a bill to strengthen the institution of marriage and the protection of children in extremely contentious divorces when he himself, in his solemn marriage with the Canadian people, has broken the major promises of his 2015 election platform?
The bond of trust has been broken and divorce between the Liberals and the people of Canada is imminent. It is set to happen on October 19, 2019.
Bill C-78 seeks to address some rather astonishing statistics. According to the 2016 census, more than two million children were living in a separated or divorced family. Five million Canadians separated or divorced between 1991 and 2011. Of that number, 38% had a child at the time of their separation or divorce. I imagine that is why the focus of Bill C-78 is protection of the child.
However, we have some concerns. Clause 101 introduces the idea that Her Majesty ranks in priority over the party that instituted the garnishment proceedings if the debtor is indebted or has any moneys to pay. That has us concerned. We will certainly call witnesses to our parliamentary committee to find out what they think and to see if we can amend this.
We also believe that clause 54 is flawed. It extends Her Majesty's binding period from five to 12 years. That is another aspect of the bill that could be problematic in our view.
I do not like to end on a negative note, but I absolutely have to mention a major contradiction pertaining to Bill C-78. Today, the Liberals enthusiastically shared with us, through this bill, their desire to make the protection of children, rather than parents, a priority in cases of divorce. However, when we look closely at Bill C-75, which, with its 300 pages, is a mammoth bill if ever there was one, we see that it seeks to rescind all of the great measures to strengthen crime legislation that our dear prime minister, Mr. Harper, implemented during his 10 years in office, a fantastic decade in Canada.
We are distressed to see that this bill lessens sentences for crimes committed against children. The Liberals are not content with just saying that they are good and the Conservatives are bad. They, who profess to believe in universal love, want to lessen the sentences for criminals who committed terrible, deplorable crimes against children. Then they tell us that the purpose of their bill is to help children.
We see these contradictions and we are concerned. I do not think that my constituents would let their spouses break promises as important as the ones the Prime Minister has broken since 2015. They would not want to stay in a relationship like that.
Canadians need to realize that their divorce from the Liberal government is imminent.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:43 [p.22260]
Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the member opposite. He is perfectly right that this is one of the excellent amendments to be brought about by Bill C-78. It would enhance the power of the Canada Revenue Agency to verify the financial information of either spouse in order to ensure equity, not for the spouses but for the children. We all agree with that. Of course, it would be a good thing for my constituents of Beauport—Limoilou. There is no doubt about that.
However, I have two concerns, one regarding this and the other regarding the bill. The bill does not anticipate or propose enhancing the budget of the CRA to do what he is talking about, which would allow it to have more power in verifying the information. The CRA does not operate with free-paying jobs or written words on a blank piece of paper. It has paid employees with pensions, so one would need to inject more money into it to increase its power. I hope that actions will follow the words of the government in the budget.
Unfortunately, the member will not be able to answer my question, unless no one else stands. I do not understand why the government wants to obligate both spouses to meet and consult with a lawyer. In many instances, people go through a divorce in an amicable way. I know friends who went through a divorce for the well-being and good of their children, and it was done in an amicable and appropriate way. Why does the government want to impose the obligation to consult with a lawyer, which would necessitate spending? I would like the Liberals to address this concern.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:46 [p.22261]
Mr. Speaker, of course. I would like to salute my colleague, as I have not yet had a chance to say hello to her since we returned from the summer break. I think my colleague is doing a great job.
I can certainly imagine that, much like the Conservatives, New Democrats recognize the fact that the Liberals are putting child protection at the centre of their bill, along with the needs of the child and the repercussions children can suffer during a nasty divorce. The Liberals want to put the protection and well-being of children at the centre of their bill. That is great, and all members of the House of Commons agree on that.
We also look forward to seeing how this all unfolds at committee. As they say, the devil is in the details. I never thought I would say that here. This is a lengthy bill, which we will study in committee. I look forward to hearing what our expert witnesses have to say. This is a very important bill that amends the Civil Marriage Act, which has not been amended for 20 years.
We have some concerns regarding clauses 54 and 101. As I said, I am a little apprehensive. As I emphasized a few times during my speech, with all due respect, the Prime Minister has not honoured his commitment, his marriage to the people of Canada. He has broken most of the promises he made to Canadians when he married them, so to speak, in 2015, at the time of his election. There is a parallel here; it is a parable.
I agree with my colleague that the child must absolutely be front and centre. That is not what we see in Liberal Bill C-75, which seeks to reduce sentences for offences committed against children. We think that is unfortunate.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:50 [p.22261]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's straightforward answer to my question.
My understanding was that a divorce had to involve a meeting with lawyers. Apparently that is not the case. However, what he said touched on other things I was wondering about.
He said that the Liberals wanted to simplify the process and keep matters out of the courts. He also said they wanted a way to review each parent's financial information.
Of course, in many cases, it is the father who handles the finances and the mother who looks after the children. My understanding is that the bill will enable the Canada Revenue Agency to systematically update or review both the father's and the mother's files if necessary.
This bill does not provide additional funding for the Canada Revenue Agency. If there is going to be more work, more paperwork, more investigations and more data, the Canada Revenue Agency should have a bigger budget.
If the Liberals are serious about this bill and if they want issues related to divorce to be resolved outside of the courts, then they are going to have to allocate more money to the Canada Revenue Agency in their 2019 budget.
However, I have my doubts. This summer I heard an incredible number of horror stories from my constituents about the CRA. It is incredible to see everything that goes on at that institution. The minister absolutely must go see what is going on in the CRA buildings.
This summer, all my constituents told me their stories and I am happy to share those. They told me that when they call the CRA, no one answers or the lines are always busy. They told me that when they email the CRA, they never get a response. That is unacceptable.
When a member of the public tries to contact a member of the public service, at the very least they should get a response.
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