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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-04-29 13:17 [p.27131]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to the NDP motion. I would first like to say hello to the many people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us live or who will watch later on social media.
I just spent two weeks in my riding, where I met thousands of my constituents at events and activities organized by different organizations. Last Thursday, the Corporation de développement communautaire de Beauport, or CDCB, held a unique and innovative event. For the first time, all elected municipal, provincial and federal officials in the riding attended a breakfast meet and greet for constituents and representatives of organizations. It was a type of round table with elected members from all levels of government. It was an exemplary exercise in good democratic practices for our country. We had some great conversations. I would like to congratulate the CDCB for this very interesting event, which I hope will become an annual tradition.
I also want to mention that my beautiful Quebec is experiencing serious flooding across the province. When I left Quebec City this morning around six  o'clock I could see damage all along the road between Trois-Rivières and Montreal and in the Maskinongé area. There is always a little water there in the spring, but there is a lot of water this year. When I got to the Gatineau-Ottawa area I saw houses flooded. Nearly 8,000 people, men, women and families, have been displaced. These are tough times, and I want them to know that my heart is with them. I wish them much strength. I am pleased to see that the Government of Quebec has announced assistance, as has the federal government, of course.
The NDP's motion is an interesting one. It addresses the fact that the current Prime Minister of Canada tried to influence the course of justice a couple of ways, in particular with the SNC-Lavalin matter, which has had a lot of media coverage in the past three months.
The NDP also raised the issue of drug prices. Conservatives know that, in NAFTA 2.0, which has not yet been ratified by any of the countries involved, the Liberals sadly gave in to pressure from President Trump to extend drug patents. If the agreement is ratified, Canadians will pay more for prescription drugs. People are also wondering when the Liberals will initiate serious talks about the steel and aluminum tariffs and when they will bring NAFTA ratification to the House for debate.
The NDP motion also mentions Loblaws' lobbying activities. People thought it was some kind of joke. They could not believe their eyes or their ears. The government gave Loblaws, a super-rich company, $12 million to replace its fridges. The mind boggles.
The NDP also talks about banking practices in Canada. Conservatives know that banks are important, but we think some of them, especially those run by the government, are unnecessary. As NDP members often point out, for good reason, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is designed to help big interest groups, but Canadians should not have to finance private infrastructure projects.
We could also talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is totally ridiculous. Canada sends nearly $250 million offshore to finance infrastructure projects, when right here at home, the federal government's $187-billion infrastructure plan is barely functioning. Over the past three years, only $14 billion of that $187 billion has been spent. It is deplorable, considering how great the needs are in that area. The issue of banking practices mentioned in the NDP's motion is therefore interesting to me.
Another thing that really bothers me as a citizen is tax evasion. Combatting tax evasion should really begin with education in our schools. Unfortunately, that is more of a provincial responsibility. We need to put patriotism back on the agenda. Many wealthy Canadians shamelessly and unscrupulously evade taxes because they have no sense of patriotism. They have no love for their country.
Schools and people in positions of authority should have instilled this notion at a very young age by teaching them that patriotism includes making sure that Canadian money stays in Canada for Canadians, for our social programs, our companies, our roads and our communities.
In my opinion, a lack of love for one's country is one of the main causes of tax evasion. Young people must be taught that they should not be complaining about our democratic system, but rather participating in it. They should be taught to love Canada.
That is my opinion piece for today.
It is difficult for us to support the NDP's fine motion, however, because, as usual, it includes a direct attack against the Canadian oil industry and all oil-related jobs.
Canadian oil is the most ethical oil in the world. Of course, in the past, there were some concerns about how the oil sands were processed, but I think a lot of effort has been made in recent years to find amazing technologies to capture the carbon released in the oil sands production process.
Since the government's mandate is almost at an end, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that this motion reminded me of some of the rather troubling ethical problems that the Liberal government has had over the past few years.
First the Prime Minister, the member for Papineau took a trip to a private island that belongs to our beloved and popular Aga Khan. The trip was not permissible under Canadian law, under our justice system. For the first time in Canadian history, a prime minister of Canada was found guilty of several charges under federal law because he took a private family vacation that had nothing to do with state interests and was largely paid by the Aga Khan. It was all very questionable, because at the very same time he was making this trip to the Aga Khan's private island, the Prime Minister was involved in dealings with the Aga Khan's office regarding certain investments.
Next we have the fascinating tale of the Minister of Finance, who brought forward a reform aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, a reform that was supposed to be robust and rigorous, when all the while he was hiding shares of his former family business, Morneau Shepell, in numbered companies in Alberta. On top of that, he forgot to tell the Ethics Commissioner about a villa he owned in France.
The young people watching us must find it rather unbelievable that someone could forget to tell the Ethics Commissioner about a wonderful villa on the Mediterranean in France, on some kind of lake or the sea, I assume.
Then there is the clam scandal as well. The former minister of fisheries and oceans is in my thoughts since he is now fighting cancer. It is sad, but that does not excuse his deplorable ethics behaviour two years ago when he tried to influence a bidding process for clam harvesters in order to award a clam fishing quota to a company with ties to his family.
SNC-Lavalin is another case. It seems clear that there were several ethics problems all along. What I find rather unbelievable is that the Liberals are still trying to claim that there was absolutely nothing fishy going on. I am sorry, but when two ministers resign, when the Prime Minister's principal secretary resigns, and when the Clerk of the Privy Council resigns, something fishy is going on.
I want to close with a word on ethics and recent media reports about judicial appointments. There is something called the “Liberalist”, a word I find a bit strange. It is a list of everyone who has donated to the Liberal Party of Canada. Of course, all political parties have lists of their members, but the Liberals use their list to vet candidates and identify potential judicial appointees.
In other words, those who want the Prime Minister and member for Papineau to give them a seat on the bench would be well advised to donate to the Liberal Party of Canada so their name appears on the Liberalist. If not, they can forget about it because actual legal skills are not a factor in gaining access to the highest court in the land and other superior federal courts.
When it comes to lobbying, I just cannot believe how often the Liberals have bowed down to constant pressure from big business, like they did with Loblaws. It is a shame. Unfortunately, the NDP motion is once again attacking the people who work in our oil industry.
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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