Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-18 10:20 [p.29266]
Mr. Speaker, I have another 50 or so signatures to add to the 3,792 signatures on last week's petition calling for a public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.
This petition is not just about the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. It is about all aspects of rail safety. Decades of deregulation and privatization have jeopardized rail safety across the country.
Petitions are a way for citizens to make their voices heard. There are other ways. A documentary series about the Lac-Mégantic tragedy is in production. We will not give up.
View John McKay Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McKay Profile
2019-06-18 10:22 [p.29266]
Mr. Speaker, this might be an appropriate moment to remind colleagues that it is an ancient right of citizens to present petitions to the Crown, notwithstanding what the member might think.
These petitioners are concerned about devices that have been planted in their brains without their knowledge and consent, affecting a variety of health issues. The petition is signed by hundreds of people from across Canada.
View Murray Rankin Profile
NDP (BC)
View Murray Rankin Profile
2019-06-14 12:23 [p.29132]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House today.
The first petition is an e-petition from Mr. Roger Clark of Ottawa calling on the government to appoint an independent commissioner to conduct a public inquiry into the circumstances regarding Dr. Hassan Diab's extradition.
View Greg Fergus Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Greg Fergus Profile
2019-06-13 15:23 [p.29070]
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak to the message received from the other place with regard to Bill C-58, an act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
I would like to recognize that this is my first official duty debating a piece of legislation as Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government, who is a fabulous minister, I might add.
I also want to acknowledge the many stakeholders who were involved in getting Bill C-58 to this point, starting with our colleagues in the other place, who conducted a very thorough and thoughtful study of this bill.
I must also recognize the contributions of parliamentarians and stakeholders and particularly the contributions of the Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner in the development of Bill C-58, as well as, of course, our colleagues on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics who worked long and hard on the amendments being proposed.
I would especially like to note the interventions of a number of indigenous organizations, their influence on the matters we are considering today and with whom the government is committed to engaging more closely on these matters in the future.
Together, the ideas and suggestions in the letters and presentations at both committees contributed to ensuring that the concerns of Canadians were taken into consideration and reflected in the final version of the bill.
I would remind the House that the bill would implement some of the most significant changes to the Access to Information Act since it was introduced more than 30 years ago, changes which have not been seen since the advent of the World Wide Web. This is part of the Government of Canada's continuing effort to raise the bar on openness and transparency.
We believe that government information ultimately belongs to the people it serves, and it should be open by default. That is quite simply a fundamental characteristic of a modern democracy, and the bill reflects that belief.
In that context, we welcome many of the proposed amendments that would further advance this objective. I would note, however, that two of the amendments would effectively legislate matters that are beyond the intent of the bill, whose purpose, I would remind the House, is to make targeted amendments to the act.
Those targeted amendments include providing the Information Commissioner with the power to make binding orders for the release of government information and the creation of a new part of the act on the proactive publication of key information.
For the reason that it goes beyond the intent of the bill, the government respectfully disagrees with the amendment that would limit time extensions to respond to a request to 30 days without prior approval of the Information Commissioner.
The government is declining this proposal because these provision have not been the subject of consultation or thorough study in the context of the targeted review that led to Bill C-58. This proposal risks having unintended consequences, particularly for the office of the Information Commissioner.
The government does agree with our friends in the other place that the time extension provisions merit further study. These will be examined as part of the full review of the act which Bill C-58 requires to begin within one year of royal assent.
For the same reason, the government respectfully disagrees with the proposal to create a new criminal offence for the use of any code, moniker or contrived word or phrase in a record in place of the name of any person, corporation, entity, third party or organization. Once again, the provisions of the Access to Information Act concerning criminal offences have not been the subject of consultation or thorough study in the targeted review. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to review changes to this provision in the context of a full review.
A third amendment of concern would require the Information Commissioner to review the operation of proposed part 2 of the act regarding proactive publication and report the results to Parliament on an annual basis. Giving the commissioner oversight of proactive publication by institutions supporting Parliament and the courts would create the potential to infringe on both parliamentary privilege and judicial independence. For this reason, the government respectfully disagrees.
It is also proposed that the Information Commissioner's ability to receive and investigate complaints related to fees and time limit extensions be removed from the act. While the government recognizes the intent of this amendment, which relates to some of the other proposals that were advanced, the commissioner's authority to receive and investigate complaints regarding waiver of fees would be removed from the act, an outcome I am certain hon. members on all sides of the House would agree is undesirable.
Similarly, as the amendment with respect to the extension of a time limit was not agreed to, we must preserve the powers of the Information Commissioner to receive complaints concerning time limits and to investigate these complaints, and therefore this amendment is not necessary.
With these few exceptions, the government is pleased to accept the proposed amendments in the message from the other chamber, subject to some technical adjustments to ensure the proper functioning of these provisions.
For example, we agree with the proposed amendment that would eliminate the government's authority to set and collect fees, apart from the application fee. As the government has committed to Canadians, it will continue to charge no fees other than the application fee of just $5.
A related amendment proposed in the message would retain the right of requesters to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner regarding decisions to waive the application fee. While the Senate amendments would have removed that right, we consider that the Information Commissioner should continue to have oversight over the way the authority to waive fees is exercised by institutions.
Some of the amendments proposed in the other place would foster and, in some cases, require more extensive consultations and better communication between the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. This is paramount to continue to ensure privacy protection while the government seeks to foster more openness and better access to government documents.
The bill already provides the Information Commissioner with new power to order the release of government information. To ensure that this does not compromise the right to privacy, an amendment proposes that the Information Commissioner must consult the Privacy Commissioner before ordering a release of personal information. This amendment also proposes that the Information Commissioner have the discretion to consult the Privacy Commissioner when investigating a complaint regarding the application of the personal information exemption. Both of these and some related amendments were suggested by the commissioners themselves, and the government has previously indicated that it supports these amendments. We believe they will strengthen the protection of personal information and further safeguard Canadians' privacy rights.
The government also accepts an amendment that would retain Info Source. Government institutions will continue to be required to publish information about their organization, records and manuals. Canadians seeking to exercise their right of access to government records will continue to have access to this tool.
As hon. members are surely aware, the government processes tens of thousands of access requests each and every year. It is an unfortunate fact that in a small number of cases, the requests are made for reasons that are inconsistent with the purposes of the Act. They may be made to harass a certain employee or work unit, for example. Such requests can have a disproportionate effect on the system and slow down resources on legitimate requests.
The government agrees with the amendment from the other place that the power of government institutions to ask the Information Commissioner for approval in order to refuse to act on requests should be limited to requests that are vexatious, made in bad faith or that would constitute an abuse of the right of access and would backlog the system. That would enable government institutions to focus their efforts on legitimate requests after having obtained approval from the Information Commissioner.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the main objectives of Bill C-58 is to provide the Information Commissioner with the power to issue binding orders for the processing of requests, including the disclosure of records.
The commissioner would be able to publish these orders, establishing a body of precedents to guide institutions as well as users of the system.
Originally, in order to give the commissioner time to prepare to assume this power, it would not come into force until one year after royal assent. However, the commissioner has asked that this power be available immediately upon royal assent. Reflecting the value it places on the commissioner's perspective, the government has already indicated its support for this amendment.
Another amendment asked for the Information Commissioner to file her orders in Federal Court and have them enforced as Federal Court orders. Under Bill C-58, the Information Commissioner's orders are legally binding without the need for certification. We believe that this amendment is unnecessary and would add a step in the process.
However, the government will look at these amendments at the one-year review of the act, with a year's worth of experience under the new system.
Providing the Information Commissioner with the power to issue binding orders to government and institutions is not a trivial change. It is a game-changer for access to information. Whereas now the Information Commissioner must go to court if an institution does not follow her recommendations, Bill C-58 puts the onus on institutions. Should they disagree with an order by the Information Commissioner, institutions will have 30 days to challenge the order in Federal Court.
As for the courts, I would remind the House that the government accepted an amendment that would ensure that Bill C-58 does not encroach on judicial independence. As the House knows, part 2 of the bill would impose proactive publication requirements on 260 departments, government agencies and Crown corporations, as well as the Prime Minister's Office, ministers' offices, senators, MPs, parliamentary entities and institutions that support the courts.
The amendment would also enshrine in law the proactive publication of information of great interest to Canadians, particularly information relevant to increased transparency and responsibility with regard to the use of public funds.
This includes travel and hospitality expenses for ministers and their staff and senior officials across government, contracts over $10,000 and all contracts for MPs and senators, grants and contributions over $25,000, mandate letters and revised mandate letters, briefing packages for new ministers and deputy ministers, lists of briefing notes for ministers or deputy ministers, and the briefing binders used for question period and parliamentary committee appearances.
Putting these requirements into legislation will ensure that Canadians will have access to this kind of information automatically, without having to make a request. It will impose a new degree of transparency on this government and on future governments.
As passed by the House, Bill C-58 would require similar disclosure by the judiciary.
Concerns have since been raised about the impact that the publication of individual judges' expenses could have on judicial independence, and those concerns are exacerbated by the fact that, due to the traditional duty of reserve, judges express themselves only through their judgments and can neither defend themselves nor set the record straight. The amendment proposed in the message that would require the publication of judges' expenses according to each court, rather than on an individual basis, would address these concerns and include additional measures to increase transparency.
The government also welcomes and accepts the amendment to remove the specific criteria requiring requesters to state the specific subject matter of their request, the type of record being requested and the period for which the record is being requested.
This was included in the original bill as a way to ensure that requests provided enough information to enable a timely response.
We listened to the Information Commissioner's concerns about this clause and especially to the indigenous groups who told us that these provisions could impede their access rights. I just want to note that this amendment, along with several others proposed in the message, was suggested by the former Treasury Board president when he appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in October.
The proposal and acceptance of this amendment reflect the government's commitment to guaranteeing that indigenous peoples have access to the information they need to support their claims and seek justice for past wrongs, for example.
As members can imagine, when it comes to records that are several decades or, in some cases, more than a century old, asking someone to state the specific subject matter, type of record and period requested may constitute a barrier to access.
I also want to assure the House that the government has taken careful note of the feedback from indigenous groups who felt that the governments did not consult them properly when drafting Bill C-58.
To respond to these concerns, the government supported the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, the National Claims Research directors and the Indigenous Bar Association in surveying selected first nations researchers and policy staff about the issues they were encountering with respect to access to information, compiling and analyzing the results in a discussion paper, and undertaking a legal review of Bill C-58.
Nonetheless, we recognize that further work is needed, with greater collaboration between the government and indigenous groups. I would draw the attention of the House to a letter written by the former president of the Treasury Board and sent to the committee in the other place. The letter detailed specific commitments to engaging indigenous organizations and representatives about how the Access to Information Act needs to evolve to reflect Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples, including how information and knowledge of indigenous communities is both protected and made acceptable.
This engagement, as with all engagements with first nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, will be founded on the fundamental principle of “nothing about us without us”. The government is committed to ensuring that programs, policies and services affecting indigenous peoples are designed in consultation and in collaboration with them.
In that regard, I would remind the House that this bill represents only the first phase of the government's reform to access to information. A full review of the functioning of the act would begin within one year of royal assent of Bill C-58, with mandatory reviews every five years afterward to ensure that the Access to Information Act never again falls so far out of date. I would add that the government recognizes that engagement with indigenous communities and organizations needs to be a central part of these reviews of the act.
In conclusion, I would recall for the House that in its fifth global report, issued in 2018, Canada was ranked number one in the world for openness and transparency by Open Data Barometer, well ahead of many other nations, including many so-called advanced countries. I would note that in this most recent report the author states:
The government’s continued progress reflects a strong performance in virtually all areas—from policies to implementation. Its consistent political backing has been one [of] the keys to its success.
Bill C-58 would continue to advance our progress toward more open and transparent government.
I again thank our friends in the other place for helping to make a good bill even better. I share the Information Commissioner's opinion that Bill C-58 is better than the current act and urge all members to join me in supporting it.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-10 15:36 [p.28820]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition calling for a public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and the rail system as a whole.
Last week, the minister was talking about a conspiracy theory, but the petition was signed by 1,592 people online, and I have more than 2,000 signatures here. In addition, the Town of Lac-Mégantic adopted a resolution a few years ago, and the National Assembly of Quebec adopted a unanimous motion.
All of these people want to get to the bottom of what happened because a number of questions remain unanswered. For example, who writes rail companies' regulations? Are there enough inspectors? Is there a law requiring companies to install more hand brakes? Why is the number of rail accidents on the rise?
Those are just a few of the many questions. A public inquiry into the Lac-Mégantic tragedy and rail safety is essential to ensuring an accident like that never happens again.
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
NDP (ON)
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
2019-06-06 18:33 [p.28734]
Madam Speaker, the government has heard from many athletes across Canada and it has heard from me. We are all pressing the minister for the same thing: that an independent body be established that has the mandate to investigate claims made by athletes of sexual abuse or harassment in sport.
I am sure we are all familiar with the history of sexual abuse and harassment in sport, so I will not go into the many well-documented cases that have been reported in the media in recent months. It is reasonable to refer to this situation as a crisis, a crisis that requires swift and decisive action.
Recently publicized was an open letter from “a coalition of multi-sport organizations, researchers and retired athletes [that proposed that the government establish] a single, independent, arm's length system of education, investigation and compliance.” The NDP also calls for the establishment of such a body. The letter said:
Canada is at a crossroads in its efforts to eliminate the scourge of gender-based violence in sport. It is clear that the 1996 Sport Canada policy to prevent harassment and abuse in sport has not been effective.
Sport-by-sport self-regulation means that there will be as many different approaches to gender-based violence as there are sports bodies, a situation that is inconsistent with the principles of uniform treatment and the values of Canadian sport.
Here is the process now for an athlete who has been sexually abused or harassed.
First, the athlete must go to his or her national sport organization with the harassment or abuse complaint, and the NSO hires an investigator to investigate. The organization can either find its own investigator, and many admit that they do not know how to do this, or it can go to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada and access the list of investigators it has compiled, which it has spent a considerable amount of time compiling. Either way, the athlete has no input into who will do the investigating, while the NSO has total control and pays for the investigator.
Second, the SDRCC mainly deals with disputes between national team athletes and their NSOs. It does not hear disputes for anyone who is not a national team athlete, and that means over 99% of all athletes. Only Athletics Canada has its own ombudsman office, which hires independent investigators and publishes their reports.
This is not an athlete-centred approach to dealing with this crisis. It is doubtful that many young people would subject themselves to it, knowing that they must go through their national sport organization first. This set-up would discourage those who have been abused from coming forward.
The minister must make this more independent and athlete-centred. She must change the process so that athletes can go directly to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre and make the complaint, after which the SDRCC would help to choose, with the athlete's approval, the investigation team. The SDRCC, not the NSO, would pay for the investigation, and the report would be made public. This is the approach the government would take to this serious issue if it were serious about addressing it. The minister is giving most of the authority in this endeavour to the organization that represents virtually all abusers, as history tells us: the Coaching Association of Canada.
Additionally, all people with a complaint about harassment or abuse in sport could use this service, not just national team athletes and not just athletes. Employees, volunteers and everyone who has alleged abuse or harassment within Canadian sport should have access to this investigative service.
When women started coming forward about a certain former Canadian Olympic Committee executive, most of them were not athletes. They were employees, consultants and volunteers. The COC interviewed every one of them, but to this day it has not made the report public and most complaints would probably be resolved through mediation and would not require a lengthy investigation.
The point is that the government has chosen to completely ignore advice from leading sports researchers and scholars in this country.
View Rémi Massé Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank the member for Windsor—Tecumseh for her important question.
It gives me an opportunity to clarify the measures that our government has taken to address the problem of harassment, abuse and discrimination with all stakeholders.
This issue is a priority for our government, for the sports community, and for all the provincial and territorial governments.
We all need to do a better job. We have a historic opportunity to change the culture of sport in Canada and to support similar changes around the world. Harassment, abuse and discrimination are complex problems that require a logical and well-thought-out approach that will respect our Constitution, governments, and the roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder.
We have heard the calls from athletes, experts, the sports community and researchers, and we are taking action. There is no magic pill that will eradicate these terrible behaviours, and that is why we need a comprehensive approach.
I would like to highlight some of the key elements of our government's approach, which we started implementing over the past year.
First, we worked with the sports community. Last June, we jointly announced new measures to enhance existing mandatory policies on harassment, abuse and discrimination. These new measures specifically included the creation of a third-party process. Every federally funded sport organization will now be required to provide access to a third party process when a case is reported to it.
In March, we also launched two important new initiatives to combat harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport. We set up an independent investigation unit, and our strategy also enabled us to create a national toll-free confidential hotline for victims and witnesses of harassment, abuse and discrimination in sport.
I will close by saying that there is obviously still more work to be done, but our commitment and determination are clear. We will ensure that our athletes can train in a healthy environment free from all forms of harassment.
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
NDP (ON)
View Cheryl Hardcastle Profile
2019-06-06 18:41 [p.28736]
Madam Speaker, it is good to hear the response that there is firm resolve to move forward, to work on this issue and solve this crisis. Indeed, that means we will have to listen to the athletes and the expertise.
Many scholars have taken a very serious and academic approach to what has happened. I held a symposium on Parliament Hill and I brought in many of those experts. Indeed, we need an independent investigative body that frees up all the stigma and financial burden on these sporting organizations. In fact, if the process I described earlier is not satisfactory, there is the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. It already manages the drug testing system for athletics. We could make another—
View Rémi Massé Profile
Lib. (QC)
Madam Speaker, I would also like to applaud my colleague for her work. Her commitment is unmistakable.
In closing, we need a model code of conduct to harmonize our efforts. That is why we supported cross-country consultations and an earlier national summit on the creation and possible implementation of a model code. We also provided funding to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada in support of two major pilot projects.
We are convinced that these measures will lead to third-party solutions and we will continue to look for ways to put an end to harassment, abuse and discrimination, especially by raising public awareness and providing training.
We listened to those who sent us their comments on this important issue. There is obviously no place for abuse, harassment or discrimination in sport.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2019-06-05 14:20 [p.28576]
Mr. Speaker, Canada committed deliberate race, identity and gender-based genocide against indigenous peoples and we can see the impact of this in every sphere of life: the violence, the loss of life, the child apprehensions, the marginalization, the deliberate exclusion, the poverty, the homelessness rate, the lack of protection, the Indian Act, the sex-based discrimination, the racism and it goes on. This is Canada's shame.
If we are to show that we have actually heard family members and survivors, we must have an indigenous-led action plan, with a dedicated budget and a timeline for implementation, that is publicly accountable. We must address indigenous land titles and indigenous people's right to self-sufficiency and self-governance.
We have a duty to address this historic and intergenerational trauma, social and economic marginalization and the ongoing dismissal of their expertise. The calls for justice are not just recommendations, but are legal imperatives that must be implemented.
View Monique Pauzé Profile
BQ (QC)
View Monique Pauzé Profile
2019-06-05 15:13 [p.28586]
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the people of Lac-Mégantic called for a public inquiry into the 2013 rail disaster. The minister told them that they were spreading conspiracy theories. The fact that 47 people were burned alive in Lac-Mégantic is not a conspiracy. In February there were three deaths in a similar accident in British Columbia; that is not a conspiracy. The increase in rail accidents since the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic is not a conspiracy.
Will the minister retract his statements, stop insulting the people of Lac-Mégantic and order a public inquiry into rail safety?
View Marc Garneau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is the only one spreading this conspiracy. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada fully investigated the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.
I met with families who lost a son or daughter, a father or mother, a brother or sister. I can honestly say that the people of Lac-Mégantic want to look to the future, and that is what we will do.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2019-06-05 15:19 [p.28587]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There has been talk among the parties, and I am very hopeful that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:—
Some hon. members: No.
Ms. Jenny Kwan: Mr. Speaker, that in light of the tabling of the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the government recognize the genocide committed against indigenous women and girls—
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2019-06-05 15:20 [p.28587]
Order. It is important that I hear the member who is asking for consent and it is important that we hear the topic, which we have heard, and it is clear that members have indicated that there is no unanimous consent.
The hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles is rising on a point of order.
View Todd Doherty Profile
CPC (BC)
View Todd Doherty Profile
2019-06-04 13:23 [p.28487]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address some of the failings of the Liberal government over the last four years and reflect upon just how disastrous it has been.
The heckling continues over there. The Liberals never miss an opportunity to get some good heckling in. Our colleagues across the way are chirping loud and doing all they can to throw us off. However, it will not work. I have been chirped at by the best and they definitely are not the best.
I rise today to talk to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. Essentially, it is an extension of the government's attempt to cover up what could be actually the biggest affront to our democracy in our country's history. It has attempted to cover up potentially the biggest corruption at the highest levels of our government, and that is the SNC-Lavalin case. That is what we are seeing here today. I bring us back to that again because I feel I have to. The gallery is packed. I know Canadians from coast to coast to coast knew this speaker was coming up.
I would be remiss if I did not remind Canadians from all across our country that it was day 10 of the 2015 election when the then member of Papineau committed to Canadians that under his government, he would let the debate reign. He said that he would not resort to parliamentary tricks such as omnibus bills or closure of debate. He also told Canadians around that same time that he would balance the budget in 2019. Those are three giant “oops”, perhaps disingenuous comments. I do not think he has lived up to any of them at this point.
As of today, the government has invoked closure over 70 times. Why? Because the government does not like what it is hearing. If the Liberals do not like what the opposition is saying and they do not want Canadians to hear the truth, they invoke closure. This means we cannot debate really important legislation. They limit the amount of time for debate on that legislation. The BIA, Bill C-97, is just one of them. Does that sound like letting the debate reign? It does not.
It is interesting that whenever things go sideways for the Prime Minister, a couple of things happen. We see him even less in the House or something always happens to change the channel. That is what we have today.
Bill C-97 is really just a cover-up budget. We have talked about that. It just goes in line with more and more of the government's kinds of wacky ways, where it says it will spend money and perhaps it doles it out. However, the money is not really going to things that Canadians need the most.
We see $600 million in an election year being given to the media, a media that is supposed to be impartial. That is a $600 million bailout.
We also know that in the previous budget, approximately $500 million was given to the Asian Infrastructure Bank. That $500 million is not being spent in Canada for one piece of an infrastructure.
I rose to talk about a few things. One of the things that is really disappointing for me is this. When the Liberals came to power in 2015, a lot of promises were made, and this one hits home for us. I have brought this up time and again in the House. The Liberals said that they would put an end to the softwood lumber dispute.
I think it was in 2016 that the Prime Minister stood in the House and told Canadians that he was going to have a deal done within 100 days. He had a new BFF, the Minister of International Trade Diversification said. Both were just giddy. They were going to get this deal done and put an end to the softwood lumber irritant once and for all, yet last week, we found out from the Senate Liberal leader that the Prime Minister had other priorities ahead of softwood lumber.
Over 140 communities and over 140,000 jobs are tied to forestry in my province of British Columbia. Forestry is a cornerstone industry in my province, yet it was not a priority for the Prime Minister in renegotiating his NAFTA deal.
What we are seeing with the Liberal government is that rural Canadians are just not its focus.
Last week I also met with some real estate folks and some Canadian homebuilder folks. They told me that the Liberal government's B-20 stress test and the shared equity program, which is geared toward trying to get Canadians into homes, is actually hurting that industry. The real estate industry is saying that the B-20 stress test, which was geared more for Toronto and Vancouver markets but is all across the country, impacts rural Canadians negatively .
Almost $15 billion has been kept out of that industry, meaning that it is harder for Canadians to get into the home ownership they strive for. It is a step into the middle class. People put money toward something they own rather than putting it into something that someone else owns. The government's failed B-20 policy and the shared equity program is hurting Canadians. It is another example of how Canadians are worse off with the Liberal government.
I will bring us to a couple of years ago. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Minister of National Defence all have it down pat. They can put their hands on their hearts and say that they really care, yet it is the same Prime Minister who told veterans that they were asking for too much.
Yesterday was a very important day, because we saw the closure of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls commission and we saw its report. The government knew that this day was coming, but did it put any money in the 2019 budget for that? There is nothing.
The Liberals like to say that Canadians are better off than they were under our previous Conservative administration, but it is actually the opposite. Canadians are worse off since the Liberal government took over. Eighty-one per cent of middle-income Canadians are seeing higher taxes since the Liberal government came to power. The average income increase for middle income families is $840. The government's higher pension plan premiums could eventually cost Canadians up to $2,200 per household. The Liberals cancelled the family tax cut of up to $2,000 per household. They cancelled the arts and fitness tax credit of up to $225 per child. They cancelled the education and textbook tax credits of up to $560 per student. The government's higher employment insurance premiums are up $85 per worker. The Liberal carbon tax could cost up to $1,000 per household and be as high as $5,000 in the future.
The Prime Minister called small businesses tax cheats. The government's intrusive tax measures for small businesses will raise taxes on thousands of family businesses across Canada.
The list goes on and on. Bill C-97 is just the capping of a scandal-ridden administration, and to that, I say, good riddance.
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