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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-30 14:57 [p.28342]
Mr. Speaker, in 2015, the Prime Minister, surrounded by Liberal candidates, including the member for Orléans and the Minister of National Defence, who are both veterans themselves, made a solemn promise that under his leadership, veterans would never, ever have to go to court to get their due. He broke that promise.
He also promised to restore the pension for life option in the proper way. That was another broken promise. We are not the ones saying so. It is veterans themselves, the ones who are the most affected by this affair, who are saying that the money is just not there for the pension for life option.
Why?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-27 17:01 [p.24092]
Madam Speaker, I personally believe we should ensure that workers pensions are protected when a company files for bankruptcy.
As a society, we cannot tell workers who have worked for 30 or 40 years and who were counting on a pension that, all of a sudden, for purely capitalist reasons, their pension will be slashed.
There are people in my riding who suffered a great deal when White Birch Paper almost went under. There were unbelievable cuts to employees’ pensions. The only comfort I could find when I met with the people on the board of White Birch Paper, which employed 400 people, was when they told me that their pensions had been cut as well.
The NDP is working hard on this. Good for them, because it is an important issue.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-26 14:40 [p.17386]
Mr. Speaker, in the last 10 years, we increased all benefits. That is the story the Liberals do not want to tell.
Today, the Prime Minister has a golden opportunity to show that he still respects veterans. This evening, he can vote in favour of the opposition motion.
A prime minister simply cannot claim that veterans are asking for too much when his own government has been spending money recklessly day after day for three years.
Will the Prime Minister do the right thing this evening and vote in favour of the motion moved by Her Majesty's official opposition?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:27 [p.17305]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Saint-Laurent certainly knows that the Liberals did not invent the wheel when it comes to the veterans reintegration, rehabilitation services, and vocational assistance program.
I was the veterans affairs critic in 2015-16. The hon. member for Saint-Laurent is a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Perhaps she should do her homework. Maybe she did, but is not saying. She talked about the increased benefits under her government, and if that is true then that is great, but we did the same thing. We increased all the benefits. The first time the charter came into effect, in 2006, it was under Mr. Harper's Conservative government. Most benefits were increased.
However, we did not make sweeping promises during an election. We never over-promised anything, not for any sector of society.
Unfortunately, the hon. member did not touch on what we are talking about. I would like her to answer the following: does she think that it was honourable of the Prime Minister to solemnly promise in 2015, hand on his heart, that veterans should never, ever have to go to court to fight for their rights, when this very government has now allowed its Department of Justice to take veterans back to court in the Equitas Society case? Does she think that is acceptable and that the Prime Minister was right to break his promise to veterans? That was a solemn promise.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:32 [p.17306]
Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise today. I will be sharing my time with the member for Lakeland.
As usual, I would like to say hello to the many constituents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching. Two months ago, as I was going door to door in Limoilou, I met a man who said that he listened to all of my speeches. He talked to me about how the festivals at Cartier-Brébeuf park cause noise disturbances. I want to say hello to him.
First, I would like to say that I am very passionate and care a lot about any issues that affect Canada's veterans, mainly for family reasons. On the Clarke side of the family, fathers and sons have served in the Canadian Armed Forces since 1890, and I was no exception. My great-grandfather, William Clarke, served in the First World War and the Boer War. My grandfather, Robert Clarke, served in the Second World War. My father, Patrick Clarke, served our country in Berlin during the German occupation in the 1970s. My brother, Anthony Clarke, served in Afghanistan in 2006 during the campaign in which most lives were lost. I served the country in the reserves and never went overseas. It is perhaps one my biggest disappointments that I was not able to serve this beautiful country in times of war.
My colleagues opposite say that we, as Conservatives, should be embarrassed about how we treated veterans. However, I just shared my family's and my history, and I am in no way embarrassed to be a Conservative. I assure my colleagues opposite that I am being sincere. If the Conservatives had acted poorly towards veterans, I would admit it, if I were minimally honourable and capable of analyzing public policy—which I am. This is not at all the case, however, and I will have to talk about everything that we did for veterans. This is not the primary focus of my speech, but I have no choice, because all the Liberal members have been saying since this morning that the Conservatives were horrible to veterans. Our treatment of veterans is not the focus of this opposition day. Today's focus is the following:
That the House call on the Prime Minister to apologize to veterans for his insensitive comments at a recent town hall in Edmonton and show veterans the respect that they deserve by fulfilling his campaign promise to them, when he said on August 24, 2015, that “If I earn the right to serve this country as your Prime Minister, no veteran will be forced to fight their own government for the support and compensation they have earned”.
Not only did the Prime Minister break this solemn promise in an egregious manner when he stated at a town hall in Edmonton that veterans were asking for too much, but he broke three other promises. The Prime Minister promised Canadians that, if they voted for him, he would restore lifetime pensions for veterans. He broke this promise because the lifetime pension established and presented by the Liberals before Christmas does not really restore the old lifetime pension. Most veterans who elect to pull out of the former system, which applies to those who fought before 2006, will not get 100% of the amounts they were receiving.
The Prime Minister also promised that veterans would not have to fight their own government to obtain the support and compensation they deserve. Yesterday, my great colleague from Barrie—Innisfil introduced a bill that proposes a covenant. It is a commitment, an agreement, or a contract. My colleague from Barrie—Innisfil probably wanted to enter into a proper contract with veterans by changing the Department of Veterans Affairs Act and compensation for the Canadian Armed Forces by amending section 4 of the act by adding the following:
...the Minister shall take into account the following principles:
(a) that the person, as well as their dependants or survivors, is to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness;
It is interesting, because the Prime Minister delivered a big speech here yesterday about the relationship that his government and Canada have with our brave indigenous peoples, who have been here for thousands of years. He said we do not need to change the Constitution, because section 35 already says that we recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. The Prime Minister said that instead, we need to change the way we view indigenous peoples and treat them with dignity and respect, and that is how we will give them the recognition they want.
However, that is exactly what my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil wrote in his motion on veterans. His motion called for the concept of treating veterans with dignity and respect to be incorporated into the act, so that bureaucrats and judges would take that concept into consideration when making decisions about veterans' benefits. Sadly, the Prime Minister voted against that motion yesterday. Is that not a shame?
I am disappointed, not only because the Liberals voted against this motion, but also because day after day in question period, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Prime Minister, and his veteran colleagues trot out the same hogwash about how the Conservatives treated veterans disgracefully. Those are lies.
Ours was the first government to implement the new veterans charter. We significantly increased virtually all of the compensation amounts. Every day in question period, rather than actually answering questions and apologizing for what the Prime Minister said, the Liberals spout off this kind of nonsense when what they should be doing is explaining how they intend to respect veterans, some of whom are meeting with a number of my colleagues outside.
Another thing I am disappointed about has to do with Bill C-357, a bill I introduced to create a grandfather clause for veterans wanting to transition to the public service. They could thus avoid having to work another five years to collect full retirement benefits. It is a very simple bill.
I have repeatedly requested a meeting with the Minister of Veterans Affairs. I even told him to forget about my bill and incorporate its amendments into the Treasury Board rules so that the 80 veterans who have to work an extra five years in Canada's public service to retire with dignity can benefit from the grandfather clause. The Minister of Veterans Affairs refused to meet with me. This would cost about $2 million. That is peanuts.
As a final point, in response to my colleagues, I want to point out what we, the Conservatives, have done since 2006. First, we created the position of veterans ombudsman. Second, we announced clinics for veterans affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. Third, we established the Veterans Bill of Rights, which is on my desk in Beauport—Limoilou. On top of that, we announced additional funding to support operational stress injury clinics.
Furthermore, we created the atomic veterans recognition program. We launched an outreach campaign with community partners to identify and support homeless veterans in the Montreal area. In addition, in 2010, we created a community war memorial program, because once again, veterans often need recognition. We also introduced benefits for seriously injured veterans, including the earnings loss benefit, to increase monthly financial support.
All of that was introduced by the Conservative government, and that is not all. We also improved access to the career impact allowance, another measure created by the Conservative government. Is that not incredible? We also created a $1,000 supplement to the career impact allowance for the most seriously injured veterans. That is another Conservative government measure. Lastly, let us not forget the flexible payment options for veterans and Canadian Forces members who are receiving a disability award. That is another Conservative government measure. Is that not incredible, Mr. Speaker?
Despite everything I just said, the bottom line is that the Prime Minister made a solemn promise in 2015, hand on heart and surrounded by top military brass who are now MPs. He said that veterans would never, ever have to fight in court for their rights.
That is what is going on. He broke his promise. There is nothing honourable about that. It is most unfortunate.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:43 [p.17307]
Mr. Speaker, we did not leave a mess. Concerning the Equitas Society, the hon. member for Durham came to a truce with them with dignity and respect, and said that when the Conservatives came back as the next government, they would continue to discuss together how to deal with this situation, which did not happen.
The reality is that the Prime Minister went further in his campaign and did politics on the backs of veterans, on the back of this court case, as he did politics this week on the back of a court case in Saskatchewan. He is always doing that. He did that with Equitas. This is the basis of the discourse today. With his hand on his heart, he said that veterans will never, ever have to fight the government for their rights. Then he broke his promise. This is what is happening today. This is what we are fighting against.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:47 [p.17308]
Mr. Speaker, I too have a great deal of respect for my NDP colleague who makes very impassioned speeches.
I have two answers that are short and to the point. The new veterans charter is a new paradigm for the treatment of veterans. It is not perfect. I would say that if it were up to me, I would get rid of the new veterans charter and go back to the old system, which had better pensions. A veteran should not have to prove that he suffered. When he returns home from war let us just give him what he is owed.
This new paradigm was put in place by the Paul Martin government in December 2005. Ours was the first government to work with this new paradigm, whereby veterans carry the burden of proof. They have to prove that they suffered mentally or physically. That is the problem. In the United States, the government has the burden of proof. If the Liberals want to improve the situation, they have to reverse the onus.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 14:30 [p.17316]
Mr. Speaker, on December 9, 2014, in a solemn and firm tone of voice, the member for Papineau said that “we have a sacred obligation to our veterans”. At the time, the member for Papineau claimed that as prime minister he would be the ultimate champion of our veterans' honour and rights.
Why then is he today shamefully reneging on his promise made in 2015?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 14:31 [p.17316]
Mr. Speaker, here is what veterans have to say. Don Sorochan, lead counsel for Equitas Society, said that the government's position was astonishing and for the Prime Minister to stand up and say that we do not have any special obligation to veterans was completely contrary to everything he has said in Parliament and everything that he said during the election campaign.
What is worse, the Prime Minister and veteran Liberal candidates made a solemn promise in 2015, with their hands on their hearts, that veterans would never, ever have to go to court to defend their rights. Those were nothing more than empty words.
When will the Liberals make good on their promises?
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
2018-01-31 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
2017-11-28 11:55 [p.15688]
Mr. Speaker, as usual, I would like to acknowledge the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening to us today. I am sure they have some serious questions with respect to all of the question period speeches they have been watching on television or reading about in the papers.
Canadians are all wondering the same thing: can we trust the Minister of Finance? As we debate the 2017 budget and the proposed spending to achieve the government's objectives, all Canadians are watching the Minister of Finance closely and wondering if they can trust him.
Indeed, over the past three months, the finance minister has done some things and shown some lapses in judgment that have been revealed by journalists, the official opposition, the NDP, and Canadians. Paradoxically, ironically, and sadly, members of the Liberal Party are still smiling and laughing about it today, and not taking it seriously. As my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil was finishing his speech this morning on yesterday's motion, which calls on the government to end the debate on the 2017 budget implementation bill, we saw several members of the Liberal Party laughing and dismissing it all as nonsense. Basically, they are saying the opposition is lampooning them and engaging in gutter politics, but that is not at all the case.
Since July, the Minister of Finance has been saying that he wants to stand up for taxpayers by going after people who cheat when filing their income tax returns to pay less in taxes. To that end, he implemented certain tax reforms, or rather tax hikes for small and medium-sized businesses, which create jobs for the so-called middle class that the government is always talking about. I have a problem with all of that. We should be talking about Canadians, not about classes. Meanwhile, the minister hid from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner that he had a company in France, which owns his villa there. He paid a $200 fine for that just under a month ago.
While he was trying to go after small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, mechanics, and hairdressers, among others, he made millions of dollars on his shares in Morneau Shepell, which he held until recently and were worth roughly $20 million. Instead of putting those assets in a blind trust, he hid them in a numbered company in Alberta. While he was going after small businesses that create jobs in Canada, he failed to disclose to the Ethics Commissioner the fact that he had assets in France and Alberta. What is more, he devised and introduced a bill that seeks to make changes to Canada's pension plans and will benefit three companies that specialize in pensions, including Morneau Shepell.
The Minister of Finance keeps spouting nonsense every time we ask him if we can trust him in light of the revelations from journalists and the official opposition. Yesterday, our venerable official opposition finance critic, the hon. member for Carleton, and several other opposition members, asked a very specific question. It takes a lot for me to feel discouraged, but I am starting to have serious doubts about the integrity of this Minister of Finance.
The hon. member for Carleton reminded him that he introduced a bill in 2015, after the Liberal government was elected, making changes that, according to the Liberals, would increase taxes on the wealthiest. That is not what happened. Several academic papers show that it is not the case. Ultimately, the wealthy are paying less taxes.
In short, two weeks before the announcement of the bill's implications for the stock market, the Minister of Finance—or someone else, but we do not know who—sold millions of Morneau Shepell shares in order to save about half a million dollars. If it was not the minister, can he tell us who it was? Yesterday, during question period, he did not answer.
The situation has only gotten worse over the past three months. After the villa in France, the $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares hidden in Alberta, and the bill that benefited Morneau Shepell, today we learned that someone sold shares to avoid the consequences of the proposed tax increase.
The Minister of Finance must stop playing ridiculous, partisan politics, which are no longer acceptable. It is high time he gave serious answers to the questions asked by the official opposition of Canada. We represent the Canadian people and we hold the government to account to ensure ministerial responsibility. The members of the Liberal Party of Canada must stop making light of the situation. Their Minister of Finance has committed serious violations. He must answer the questions and stop telling us nonsense day after day in the House.
I would still like to say a few words about the 2017 federal budget. Once again, it is a completely ridiculous budget and the Liberals are calling it a feminist budget. The budget should be for all Canadians, not just a special interest group. Of course, we know that the Liberals are centralists and that they work on behalf of special interest groups, including post-materialist groups.
What is more, this budget is in the red and speaks to the many promises the government has broken. Unfortunately, what has defined the Liberals over the past two years is a series of broken promises, including their promise on electoral reform. We are lucky that they broke that promise, because it would be a very bad idea to change the way we vote in Canada. We must retain our Westminster system of voting. The Liberals also broke another promise they made to their environmentalist base by keeping the same greenhouse gas emissions targets as our Conservative government.
Most importantly, the Liberals said that they would run a modest deficit of $10 billion per year in their first two years in office, when in reality they ran a deficit of $30 billion in the first year and $19 billion in the second year, 2017-18. What is even more worrisome is that they broke their promise to balance the budget by 2019-20, even though we are not in an economic crisis or at war. They themselves are saying that the economy is doing great. When we, the Conservatives, ran a deficit in 2008-09, it was because Canada was weathering the worst economic crisis since 1929 and 1930. Today, there is no economic crisis and no war, so there is no reason for the government to be running a deficit.
A recent article in the Financial Post indicated that, according to the OECD, household debt, particularly mortgage debt, is the highest it has ever been. For the past few years, the household debt ratio in Canada, including debt for houses, cars, and all the rest, has been the highest of all the OECD countries. This could have a serious impact on Canada's economic growth.
The Liberals say the economy is doing great. They keep sending Canadians an endless stream of Canada child benefit cheques. Despite adding up to thousands of dollars a year, they do not seem to be working, because Canadian households are more in debt than ever. This debt could be extremely dangerous for the country.
How can we expect Canadians to behave any differently, when the example they are given is a Minister of Finance who cannot be trusted and a government that urges them to spend as recklessly as it does? It is time for the Liberals to get a grip on themselves.
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
2017-11-06 17:07 [p.15049]
Mr. Speaker, hon. colleagues, dear Canadians who are watching us, I just want to say, “wow”. One hundred and fifty years ago, on November 6, 1867, the first Canadian parliamentarians from Upper Canada and Lower Canada, as well as the colonies of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, gathered here in a federal Parliament for the first time. It was surely to have a debate, but I imagine that first day must have been rather solemn. I do not know if they started any work that first day. I imagine they wanted to get started right away on working hard to build a federation from coast to coast. It must have been extraordinary to take part in achieving that dream.
I wanted to take a minute or two to say that I agree with what my leader said about his vision of the country, and his take on the parliamentary system and the role of parliamentarians. I was impressed by his speech.
Certainly, I want to thank the Prime Minister for taking the time to deliver a speech on this solemn day. I also found it extraordinary that four former prime ministers were here today. I appreciated the speech of the House leader of the New Democratic Party and that of the Bloc Québécois member who took the time to say a few words despite his opposition to our great federation.
I am more mature now as I begin my third year as MP than I was at the very beginning. There are three things I consider important and that I would like to bring back to the Canadian political agenda. If I come to Ottawa every week, it is not to talk about rights but about duty. It is not to talk about about pride, but about honour. More importantly, it is not to talk about entitlements but about each individual's responsibility and their role in community development.
Guided by these three beacons that shape my approach to parliamentarism and Canadian politics, I come here each week in an attempt to improve things in this country, even only a little bit.
I would like nothing more than to be able to speak at length in this House about the Constitution of Canada, the role of the provinces in our constitutional order and the dialogue that Philippe Couillard would like to open about Quebec's place in Canada.
I would like to talk about our founding peoples, linguistic rights, creating new provinces to pursue Canada's territorial and economic expansion, as well as international relations and Canada's role in the 21st century in light of all the world's emerging powers on all continents who are challenging us in ever more extreme ways. I would also like us to discuss our vision of federalism for the hundred years to come.
However, I cannot talk about that today, as the government is busy introducing a bill to confirm and put in place the budgetary measures which were announced in March, as is the custom in this great Parliament.
We returned to the House two months ago, but we have not touched on the constitutional debates and the international relations debates I talked about, debates I would really like us to have here. This all started in July, when the government put forward its tax reforms, which amounted to tax hikes for small and medium-sized businesses. It really botched those reforms. Just two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance presented his economic update. He tried to convince us that his tax reforms are working well and that he merely adjusted a few elements of it in response to what he heard from Canadians.
Simply put, the tax reform is a thing of the past. It is moot. The government backtracked thanks to some very good work by the official opposition of Canada and our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. Every sitting day from September to November, our leader proved to Canadians that the tax reform benefited the rich, those who want to avoid paying taxes, and, it bears mentioning, even the Minister of Finance, as we all know. The whole thing is absolutely unbelievable.
The reform benefits the rich rather than ordinary Canadians—the workers, the mechanics, the labourers, the farmers. The Liberal economic update is merely a repeat of the same measures and broken promises we have seen from the beginning of their mandate in 2015. The only thing that is new is that they are going to lower the overall tax rate for small and medium-sized business.
Once again, that was nothing really new, since the Liberals had announced it during the campaign. They first decided not to keep that promise, but faced with the political uproar created by their ethical scandal, they thought they might present a gift to shift the media's focus. It did not work.
Then, at the end of September, the scandal linked to the finance minister himself, personally, was uncovered. This is not a debate about whether this is a good policy, nor is it a debate on the tax measures he wants to bring in. Indeed, thanks to research done by our party and by some investigative journalists, it became clear that the Minister of Finance was in a total conflict of interest, both personally and with respect to his significant financial assets. He made his fortune by working very hard, good for him.
According to the Liberal members, Morneau Shepell, and the government, everyone believed that the Minister of Finance had taken his fortune, including the $20 million he owned in Morneau Shepell shares, and placed it in a blind trust back in 2015. That was not the case. For the past month, I have been expecting him to stand up in the House and make a formal apology. In the end, he made a donation to charity, which is nice, but he has yet to apologize to Canadians.
We have been talking about this issue for a month and a half. There was also the property in France, which he hid from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, as well as Bill C-27, which directly benefits his family business, Morneau Shepell. The proof is right in front of us: the Minister of Finance is in a direct conflict of interest. He has yet to apologize to Canadians.
Yesterday, it emerged that the Liberal Party of Canada's own chief fundraiser is implicated in tax avoidance schemes involving tropical tax havens south of here. The news has made this government even more of a laughingstock.
Today, on this 150th anniversary of the first parliamentary sitting of November 6, 1867, four former prime ministers, unfortunately, had to witness a question period that I found to be shameful and that did not focus on the issues that we should be discussing. As I said, we should be discussing the Canadian federation, the coming century, and how to always strive to make Canada the best country in the world.
Instead, we are talking about this government's hypocrisy. We are talking about the things it does that create conflicts of interest. In short, we are talking about its real intentions, which are to help interest groups, not Canadians. These interest groups, whatever their cause, may be chartist groups that go through the Supreme Court to impose new policies on our country rather than coming and fighting in the House, economic interest groups, like the finance minister and his Bill C-27, or groups that fight for the government's own party. What is worse, the Liberals are shamelessly claiming that theirs is a feminist budget. I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life. Well, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but even so. This should not be a feminist budget. It should be a Canadian budget for all Canadians.
Since when does a government have the nerve to rise in the House and claim that a budget has been put in place for a particular group, to cater to a certain ideology or stripe, or individual interests? How does this government have the nerve to talk about a feminist budget? What would happen if it was a masculinist budget? It is completely ridiculous.
What have the Liberals done in the past two years? They have eliminated tax credit after tax credit, to the point where, according the Fraser Institute, a typical Canadian family with two children is now paying $840 more in taxes a year.
It is unprecedented in Canada for a government to run a deficit that is double what was promised with no plan to balance the budget. That is the Liberal government.
Rather than celebrating the Constitution on this 150th anniversary, we are celebrating the Liberals' hypocrisy.
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