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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-06-12 18:20 [p.29068]
Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House. As usual, I want to say hello to all the residents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching right now. I had the honour of meeting thousands of them last weekend at the Grand bazar du Vieux-Limoilou, where I had a booth, as the local member of Parliament. It was a fantastic outdoor party, and the weather co-operated beautifully.
Before I discuss the motion, I just want the people of Beauport—Limoilou to know that we will have plenty of opportunities to meet this summer at all the events and festivals being held in Beauport and Limoilou. As usual, I will be holding my annual summer party in August, where thousands of people come to meet me. We often eat hot dogs, chips and popcorn from Île d'Orléans together. It is a chance for me to get to know my constituents, talk about the issues affecting the riding, and share information about the services that my office can provide to Canadians dealing with the federal government.
I also want to say that this may be the last speech I give in the House during the 42nd Parliament. It was a huge honour to be here, and I hope to again have that honour after election day, October 21.
I plan to run in the upcoming election and I hope to represent my constituents for a long time to come. I am extremely proud of the work I have done over the past four years, including the work I did in my riding, on my portfolio, Canada's official languages, and during debates.
I am asking my constituents to do me a favour and put their trust in me for another four years. I will be here every day to serve them.
Today we are debating Motion No. 227, a Liberal motion to conduct a study in committee. It is commendable to do a study at the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. This is a very important House of Commons committee. A Liberal Party MP is proposing to conduct a study on labour shortages in the skilled trades in Canada.
As soon as I saw that I wanted to say a few words about this motion. Whether it be in Quebec City, Regina, Nanaimo, or elsewhere in Canada, there is a crisis right now. The labour shortage will affect us quite quickly.
We have heard that, a few years from now, the greater Quebec City area will need an additional 150,000 workers. This remarkable shortage will be the result of baby boomers retiring. Baby boomers, including my parents, will enjoy a well-deserved retirement. This is a very important issue, and we must address it.
I would like to remind the House that, in January, February and March, I asked the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour about the serious labour shortage problem in Canada. Each time, she made a mockery of my question by saying that the Liberals had created 600,000 new jobs. Today, they say one million.
I am glad that this motion was moved, but it is more or less an exercise in virtue signalling. Actually, it is more of an exercise in public communications, although I am not questioning my colleague's sincere wish to look into the issue. In six or seven days, the 42nd Parliament will be dissolved. Well, the House will adjourn. Parliament will be dissolved in a few months, before the election.
My colleague's committee will not be able to study the motion. My colleagues and I on the Standing Committee on Official Languages are finishing our study of the modernization of the Official Languages Act. We decided that we would finalize our recommendations tomorrow at noon, to ensure that we are able to table the report from the Standing Committee on Official Languages in the House.
In essence, this is a public communications exercise, since the committee will not be able to study the issue. However, I think it would be good to talk about the labour shortages in the skilled trades with the Canadians who are watching us. What are skilled trades? We are talking about hairdressers, landscapers, cabinetmakers, electricians, machinists, mechanics, and crane or other equipment operators. Skilled trades also include painters, plumbers, welders and technicians.
I will explain why the labour shortage in the skilled trades is worrisome. When people take a good look around they soon realize that these trades are very important. Skilled tradespeople build everything around us, such as highways, overpasses, waterworks, subways, transportation systems like the future Quebec streetcar line that we have talked about a lot lately, the railroads that cross the country, skyscrapers in major cities like Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, factories in rural areas, tractors, equipment and the canals of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which were built in the 1950s.
China, India and the United States are making huge investments in infrastructure. For example, in recent years, the U.S. government did not flinch at investing $5 billion to improve the infrastructure of the Port of New York and New Jersey, which was built by men and women in the trades. In Quebec, we are still waiting for the Liberals to approve a small $60-million envelope for the Beauport 2020 project, now called the Laurentia project, which will ensure the shipping competitiveness of the St. Lawrence for years to come.
There has been a lack of infrastructure investment in Canada. The Liberals like to say that their infrastructure Canada plan is historic, but only $14 billion of the $190 billion announced have actually been allocated. That is not all. Even if the Liberals were releasing the funds and making massive investments to surpass other G20 and G7 countries, the world's largest economies, they would not be able to deliver on their incredible projects without skilled labour. Consider this: even Nigeria, with a population of 200 million, is catching up with us when it comes to infrastructure investments.
It is about time that we, as legislators, dealt with this issue, but clearly that is not what the Liberals have been doing over the past few years, although I have heard some members talk about a few initiatives here and there in some provinces. The announcement of this study is late in coming.
I would also remind the House that this is a provincial jurisdiction, given that provincial regulations govern the training of skilled workers. That said, the federal government can still be helpful by implementing various measures through federal transfers, such as apprenticeship grants and loans, tax credits and job training programs. This all requires a smooth, harmonious relationship between the provinces and the federal government. Not only do the political players have to get along well, but so do the politicians themselves.
If, God forbid, the Liberals get another four-year term in office, taxes will increase dramatically, since they will want to make up for the huge deficits they racked up over the past four years. In 2016, they imposed conditions on health transfers. Then, they rushed ahead with the legalization of marijuana even though the provinces wanted more time. Then, they imposed the carbon tax on provinces like New Brunswick, which had already closed a number of coal-fired plants and significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions. The Liberals said that they still considered the province to be an offender and imposed the Liberal carbon tax. Finally, today, they are rushing through the study of Bill C-69, which seeks to implement regulations that are far too rigid and that will interfere with the development of natural resources in various provinces, even though six premiers have stated that this bill will stifle their local economies.
How can we hope that this government will collaborate to come to an agreement seeking to address skilled trades shortages when it has such a poor track record on intergovernmental relations?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-15 17:17 [p.27900]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say hello to the many constituents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching. Today, it is my pleasure to debate Motion No. 170, which reads as follows:
That, in the opinion of the House, a special committee, chaired by the Speaker of the House, should be established at the beginning of each new Parliament, in order to select all Officers of Parliament.
Before I begin, I would like to recognize with all due respect that the motion was moved by the member for Hamilton Centre, who is with the NDP and has been in Parliament for quite a while, but will not seek re-election. If he is listening right now, I would like to acknowledge him and thank him for his work and decades of public service. The member for Hamilton Centre was once an MPP in Ontario, as well, and worked hard on all sorts of causes that were important to his constituents. I would like to congratulate him on his service.
Moreover, he is more than just a good parliamentarian. I remember hearing one of his speeches at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, if I remember correctly. I took note of his delivery, because he is a fine public speaker with good rhetorical skills. I have always had a great deal of respect for my colleagues with vast parliamentary experience. I try to learn from the best.
I am sure the member for Hamilton Centre wants to leave his mark on Canadian democracy. I too want to improve Canada's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. Our role as MPs is the cornerstone of parliamentary democracy. It is fundamental. MPs must play a leading role in the workings of Canadian democracy, which includes the selection and appointment of officers of Parliament. That is what this motion is about.
Officers of Parliament are individuals jointly appointed by the House of Commons and the Senate to look into matters on our behalf and help us carry out our duties and responsibilities. For example, Canada has a Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, a position created by Mr. Harper and the Conservative Party.
There is also the Information Commissioner, who ensures that Canadians are able to have access to all government information so that they can get to the bottom of things. Then, there is the Commissioner of Lobbying. We heard a lot about her because of the Prime Minister's trip to the Aga Khan's island. Then there is the Commissioner of Official Languages. I am the official languages critic and I worked on the appointment of the new commissioner, Mr. Théberge. There is also the Auditor General. That position is currently vacant because the former auditor general passed away just a few months ago. God rest his soul. I send my best wishes to his family. Finally, there is the Chief Electoral Officer and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
There are other officers of Parliament, but the ones I mentioned are the main commissioners who have been mandated by Parliament to conduct investigations in order to ensure proper accountability in the Canadian democratic process.
The member for Hamilton Centre wants to improve and strengthen parliamentary democracy with respect to the process for appointing commissioners and other officers of Parliament. Here is why.
During the last election campaign, the Prime Minister made some promises that he mostly did not keep. He promised to make the process for appointing commissioners more democratic. Under the Conservative government, from 2006 to 2015, the process for appointing commissioners was much more democratic from the perspective of a Westminster-style parliamentary system. It was also much more transparent than what we have seen over the past few years with the Prime Minister and the Liberal government.
When the Prime Minister chose the Official Languages Commissioner a year and a half ago, I am sure that the member for Hamilton Centre noticed, as we all did, that the process for appointing officers of Parliament was anything but open and transparent. Note that I am not in any way trying to target the individual who was selected and who currently holds that position.
This was done differently before 2015. For example, the Standing Committee on Official Languages used to send the Prime Minister of Canada a list of potential candidates for the position of Commissioner of Official Languages. The Prime Minister, with help from his advisors and cabinet, selected one of the candidates suggested. That is far more transparent and democratic than what the Prime Minister and member for Papineau is doing.
What has the Prime Minister done these past few years? Instead of having committees with oversight and the necessary skills for selecting commissioners, such as the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics or the Standing Committee on Official Languages, the Prime Minister is no longer relying on committees to send him a list of names of people or experts in the field. They are no longer able to send a list to the Prime Minister. He said to trust him, that he had set up a system involving people in his own office who send him lists of candidates with absolutely no partisan connections or any connections whatsoever to the Liberal list, candidates who were found by virtue of their expertise.
What actually happened? We saw one clearly terrible case with Ms. Meilleur. Far be it from me to badmouth her, but unfortunately, she was part of this undemocratic process. Ms. Meilleur had been a Liberal MPP in Ontario. She donated money to the Liberal Party of Canada, and less than a year later, she was nominated for the position of official languages commissioner. The Prime Minister did not send a list of candidates' names to the opposition parties. He did not start a discussion with the other party leaders to ask who they thought the best candidate was. He sent a single name to the leader of the official opposition and to the then NDP leader, saying that this was his pick and asking if they agreed.
Not only did the committees have no input under the current Liberal Prime Minister, but the Prime Minister actually only sent one name to the opposition leader.
What the member for Hamilton Centre wants to do is set up a process whereby candidates are selected by a committee, which would be chaired by you, Mr. Speaker, amazingly enough. First off, the idea suggested by my colleague, the member for Hamilton Centre, could not be implemented before the session ends. We have only a few weeks left, and I gather that an NDP member will be proposing an amendment to the motion in a few minutes. We will see what happens then.
Personally, I would say we need to go even further than the motion moved by the member for Hamilton Centre. I will speak to my colleagues about this once we are in government, as of October.
Why not be even bolder and give parliamentary committees not just the power to refer candidates to the Prime Minister for him to decide, but also the power to appoint officers of Parliament? I want to point out that I am speaking only for myself here. I began reflecting on this a year and a half ago, after what happened with Ms. Meilleur and the current commissioner.
I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Official Languages for two years now, and I humbly believe that I have learned a lot about official languages issues. I am familiar with the key players on the ground and I am beginning to understand who the real experts are, who the stakeholders are and who might make a good commissioner. I have to wonder why we would not go even further than what my colleague from Hamilton Centre is proposing, and perhaps even give the real power to the committees.
Imagine the legitimacy the process would have if parliamentary committees could one day choose officers of Parliament. These appointments should still be confirmed by both chambers, as is always the case.
Careful reflection is still needed. What is certain is that we are too close to the end of the current parliamentary session for the motion moved by the member for Hamilton Centre to become a reality. This is even less likely to happen under the current Liberal government, which made many promises to please the Canadian left, including a promise for democratic emancipation. All those promises have been broken.
I wish the hon. member for Hamilton Centre continued success.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-06-13 21:56 [p.20919]
Mr. Speaker, seriously, it is almost embarrassing to have to follow my colleague from Huron—Bruce, who listed many athletes of Latin American heritage living in Canada and North America who have accomplished amazing things in baseball, football, hockey, and soccer. I loved his fantastic presentation and his fine speech.
As usual, I would like to begin by saying hello to all my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are listening this evening, I am sure.
I am very proud to participate in this debate on Bill S-218, which was introduced in the other place by our valiant and very honourable colleague, Senator Enverga, who sadly passed away over a year ago. God rest his soul. Our colleague from Thornhill is now sponsoring this bill in the House of Commons.
The Liberals are not participating in tonight's debate, which is unfortunate. As a number of my colleagues have pointed out this evening, there are more than half a million people of Hispanic American heritage living in Canada. They have an incredible history, and they play an extraordinary role in our society in many different ways. It is therefore important to talk about the cultural, political, and economic contributions they have made to our country.
I would like to point out that Quebec City is no exception in that regard. Quebec City is home to a large Colombian community, and every year, they host a wonderful fiesta in Beauport Bay, in my riding. I am sure it will be happening again this summer.
I would like to make a comparison and share it with all the members of the House this evening. I would actually like to talk about some of the similarities that unite North America and South America. There are historical, political, geopolitical, economic, sociological, and even anthropological similarities. It is, after all, the Americas. We share two continents and a very common history.
First of all, from an anthropological perspective, this is an important debate, and there are several theories. There is the Clovis First theory, which holds that nomadic peoples came from Asia via the Bering Strait about 10,000 years ago and populated all of America. As a result, the first settlers in North America or South America would have been descendants of those same nomadic peoples from Asia. There are also counter-theories that claim they arrived via the Pacific coast 30,000 years ago. Regardless, the two continents certainly share similarities, anthropologically speaking.
We also share similar histories. This is the New World. Christopher Columbus landed near Cuba, if I am not mistaken. At the time, he discovered the Americas on behalf of the Europeans. He discovered the New World. Jacques Cartier, Jean Cabot, and all those explorers revealed the existence of new, albeit already inhabited, lands to all of humanity, meaning Europeans, philosophers, writers, explorers, and monarchs. They discovered vast lands that were then colonized. We know the history. One very tangible historical legacy that both North America and South America share is colonialism. Conquistadors from South America conquered Central America and even parts of California and Florida, all the way to Tierra del Fuego in South America.
There were the colonialists in New France, which is where I am from, and in New England. Once again, we share similar histories and experiences with colonialism.
Another aspect of our shared history is the earliest form of modern capitalism: mercantilism. In this triangular trade, Europeans sailed to Africa to acquire slaves and brought resources back to England on the same ships. It was all deeply tragic, of course, but it is a historical fact. We must not fear history. Mercantilism is another thing we have in common with South America.
From a geopolitical perspective, it is interesting to note that, around the same time, in the 15th, 16th, or 17th century, South America was divided in two by the pope, though I do not remember which one. The pope divided South America into two vast geopolitical regions, one Portuguese and the other Spanish.
In North America, the treaty that ended the Seven Years' War divided the territory between the British and the French, so from a geopolitical perspective, we have that part of our history in common with South America.
From a political and sociological point of view, there are people's revolutions, such as the American Revolution of 1776. Canada never really had a revolution, but the Patriotes did kill people and spark revolutionary movements that led to ministerial responsibility in Canada. That was a kind of people's revolution.
In South America, Simón Bolívar strove to build a continent-wide federation called Gran Colombia. He even became a dictator. Some commentators portray him as a liberal who became a dictator. Anyway, there were people's revolutions in both North America and South America. That is something else we have in common with the people of Latin America.
Furthermore, economically speaking, we share a willingness with these people to trade between countries and reduce borders when it comes to tariffs and even the sharing of cultures and political systems. In North America, we have NAFTA, which was created in 1988 and ratified in 1992. South America has an equivalent, Mercosur, which was created in 1991 and ratified in 1995.
These two agreements share a similar economic annexation model, but the Latin American countries go a step further because they try to share best policy practices and standardize their social policies, which is no easy feat considering that some South American countries are not quite what we could call democratic.
I would also like to talk about Canada's relationship with South America. Canada was late in discovering South America for one very simple reason. In 1823, Republican American President Monroe implemented the Monroe doctrine, which was very important over the next two centuries. In one of the speeches he gave to Congress, President Monroe told Europeans that all of the Americas were under American imperial control. In other words, Mr. Monroe told the European powers that any European designs on the Americas would be regarded as nothing less than a hostile attack on the United States.
From that point on, the United States started treating South America like their back yard. We saw that in the way they behaved toward Chile, in the days of Pinochet, and in Honduras, when Mr. Reagan brought down that country's government. The Americans treated South America like their back yard.
Here, as great economic and political allies of the United States, we kept our distance from South America because the Americans would not have been happy to see Canada try to foster agreements or diplomatic relations with South American countries since that was their back yard.
All that changed in 1984 with the creation of the Organization of American States, which Canada did not join until 1990. It took all that time for Canada to open up to South American countries because of the Monroe doctrine. It was only in 1990 that Canada, after 30 years of observer status, became a full fledged member state.
Today, after more than 28 years as a member of the OAS, Canada does interesting work exporting its democratic values to South American countries and creating bilateral free trade agreements, including with Peru. That was one of Mr. Harper's many fine accomplishments. There are also the summits of the Americas, including the one that was held in Quebec City in 2001.
That is what I wanted to present this evening. In North America and in South America, we have our particularities and we share some very real similarities on economic, geopolitical, sociological, anthropological and historical levels. In Canada, we are pleased that a growing number of Hispanics are heading to our border to immigrate to our country in order to participate in our beautiful cultural, political, and economic life.
Canada was closed to South America for a very long time because of the Monroe doctrine and U.S. policy, which jealously treated South America as its backyard.
Hurray for Senator Enverga's initiative. Hurray for the initiative of my colleague from Thornhill, who sponsored the bill. Hurray for the Columbian community in Quebec City, which is going to party this summer in Baie de Beauport in my riding.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-04-19 15:57 [p.18591]
Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that the member for Beauce's private member's bill goes to the heart of the parliamentary system. In the 13th century, the capitalist bourgeoisie went to the king to demand a place in an assembly, which became the legislative assembly. Their goal was first and foremost to find out what the king was doing with the money, the bourgeoisie's money, the suppliers' money and the people's money, which had been collected by the bourgeoisie or by agents acting for the king.
It is clear that the Liberals hate reporting to Parliament, because they are trying to hide a $7-billion slush fund in their new 2018-19 budget. I would therefore like the member to tell us a bit about his vision and about how his bill goes to the heart of the parliamentary system and accountability as practised by the capitalist bourgeoisie in the 13th century.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-04-19 16:30 [p.18596]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today. As a Conservative MP, nothing is more important to me than tradition. As tradition would have it, I would like to acknowledge all those who are watching me and those I meet at the community centres, at all the organized events in my riding, or when I go door to door. As always, I am very happy to represent my constituents in the House of Commons.
I would like to wish a good National Volunteer Week to everyone in Beauport, the people of Limoilou, Giffard, Sainte-Odile, and all around the riding. In Beauport, there are more than 2,500 volunteers. It is the Quebec City neighbourhood with the highest number of volunteers. That makes me very proud. Without volunteers, our social costs would be much higher. I commend all those who put their heart and soul into helping their neighbours and so many others.
I would quickly like to go back to some comments made by the Liberal member for Markham—Thornhill. She boasted that the Liberal government is open and transparent. I would like to remind her that our esteemed Prime Minister's trip to the Aga Khan's island was not all that transparent. The commissioner had to examine and report on this trip, in short, do an investigation, to get to the bottom of things. First of all, I think it is outrageous for a sitting prime minister to go south. He should have stayed in Canada as most Canadians do.
Furthermore, the Liberals' tax reform for small and medium-sized businesses was not all that transparent. The objective was to increase the tax rate for all small and medium-sized businesses and to create jobs in Canada, through the back door, by increasing corporate and small business taxes through changes in how dividends and other various financial vehicles are treated.
Then, there were all of the Minister of Finance's dealings. He hid some funds generated by his family firm, Morneau Shepell. We discovered that he hid these funds in a numbered company in Alberta.
Basically, we have a long list of items proving that the government is not all that open and transparent. This list also includes the amendments and changes the Liberals made to the Access to Information Act. The commissioner stated very clearly in black and white that they are going to impede access to information. On top of that, the Liberals refused to give access to information from the Prime Minister's Office, as they promised during the election campaign.
I would still like to talk about the bill brought forward by the member for Beauce, for whom I have a great deal of respect. He is a man of courage and principle. This bill is consistent with his principles. He does not care to see subsidies, handouts, being given to large corporations. With this bill, however, he does not oppose the idea of giving money to businesses to help them out. He said something very simple: the technology partnerships Canada program spent about $3.3 billion. For 200 businesses, that represents $700 million in loans and 45% of cases. The member for Beauce does not oppose those loans; he is simply asking the government to tell us whether those companies have paid back the $700 million, which breaks down into different amounts, for example $800,000, $300,000, or $2 million. If some companies have not paid back those loans, then we can simply tell Canadians that they were actually subsidies, not loans.
I want to get back to what I said during my earlier question. When I was a student at Laval University, I remember naively telling my professor that I would go to Parliament to talk about philosophy, the Constitution, and the great debates of our time. He told me that there would be debates on these types of issues, yes, but fundamentally, what was at the heart of England's 13th century parliamentary system was accountability, namely what was happening with the money.
There is a reason why we spend two months talking about the budget. It is very important. The budget is at the heart of the parliamentary system. I sometimes find it a little annoying. I wonder if we could talk about Constitutional issues, Quebec's distinct society, the courts, politics, and other issues. However, much to my chagrin, we spend most of our time talking about money. There is a valid reason for this: every one of us here represents about 100,000 people, most of whom pay taxes. All of the government's programs, initiatives, and public policies, good or bad, are dynamic and rely on public funds.
In England in the 13th century, bourgeois capitalists went to see the king to tell him that all his warmongering was getting a little expensive. They asked him to create a place where they could talk to him or his representative and find out what he was doing with their money. That was the precise moment in the course of human history when liberal democracy made its first appearance.
Another example of the importance of knowing what is being done with people's money is the American Revolution. This is complicated and could fill many books, but essentially, the American Revolution happened because England was not interested in taxation with representation. The Americans said they had had enough. If taxes on tea—hence, the Tea Party—were going up, they wanted to know what was being done with their money. The only way the Americans could find out what the British were doing with the money was through elected representation of the colonies in the British Parliament. However, the king, in his arrogance, and his British governing council told the colonies to keep quiet and pay their taxes to His Majesty like they were supposed to. Thus ensued the American Revolution.
Such major historical examples demonstrate how accountability is at the very heart of the parliamentary system and liberal democracy, which guarantees the protection of individual rights and freedoms so dear to our Liberals in this place.
Now, this is what I do not understand. The opposition members, whether they belong to the NDP, the Conservative Party, or the Quebec caucus, introduce sensible and fairly simple bills. Why will the government not just admit it and thank them? Not only is it the purpose of Parliament to inform Canadians about what is being done with their money, but the government itself should know what is happening.
The government could use half of the unpaid $700 million to more quickly implement its much-touted social housing program or pharmacare 2020. However, between $400 million and $700 million has not been paid back to the federal government. Thus, it is completely unacceptable and illogical for the Liberals to tell us that this is not a laudable or justifiable bill.
When I came to Parliament, I had the opportunity to work on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, a very complex committee. It was a bit overwhelming, but I took it very seriously and I did all the reading. That committee just keeps voting on credits for months because it approves all the spending. When I was there, the President of the Treasury Board attended our meetings three times to explain the changes he wanted to make to the main estimates. These were disastrous changes that sought to take away the power of opposition MPs to examine spending vote by vote for over two months. He wanted to cut that time down to about two weeks. It was an attempt on the part of the Liberals to gradually undermine the work and transparency of this democratic institution.
What is more, the Liberals wanted to make major changes that would cut our speaking time in the House of Commons. For heaven's sake. At the time of Confederation, our forefathers sometimes talked for six or seven hours. Now, 20 minutes is too long. For example, today, I have 10 minutes to speak. The Liberals wanted to cut our time down from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. This government never stops trying to cut the opposition's speaking time, and that is not to mention the $7 billion that have still not been allocated.
In short, the bill introduced by the member for Beauce is a laudable bill that goes to the very heart of the principle underlying liberal democracy and the British parliamentary system, that of knowing where taxpayers' money is going.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-03 13:51 [p.14987]
Mr. Speaker, I must say that my Conservative colleague, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, and my NDP colleague both gave excellent speeches. I was quite impressed by her reference to Mr. Diefenbaker, a great Canadian who hailed from her province. I myself was planning to bring him up today. I will still do so with pleasure, although my take will be slightly different.
The Conservative Party opposes Bill C-325, the act to amend the Canadian Bill of Rights to include the right to housing, which was introduced by the member for North Island—Powell River. I could say it is because the phrase “at a reasonable cost and free of unreasonable barriers” in the preamble is vague. I could say that the bill fails to consider price differences in housing markets. I could also say that section 92 of the Constitution considers housing to be a provincial matter, whereas the Canadian Bill of Rights, which was set in motion by Mr. Diefenbaker, applies only to matters of federal jurisdiction.
However, I am not going to use this perspective in my speech today in opposition to this bill. Instead, I would like to talk about the philosophical ideas underlying the bill introduced by the member for North Island—Powell River. I will use these underlying ideas to build my argument against this bill.
I would like to start by saying that, in my humble opinion, both Canada's intellectual left, which includes Marxist theorists at the Osgoode Hall Law School or at the University of British Columbia, and the intellectual right, meaning the Calgary School, would disagree with introducing this right into the Canadian Bill of Rights.
That said, hats off to the member for North Island—Powell River for proposing an amendment to the Canadian Bill of Rights instead of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This makes me very proud, since it means that the member subscribes to the British tradition of liberal constitutionalism, in other words, the Westminster tradition of liberal constitutionalism, instead of subscribing to the American tradition of liberal constitutionalism. It is a small distinction, but that small distinction makes a big difference over many centuries. I will explain why.
Under the Westminster-type British model of liberal constitutionalism, the legislative branch is the ultimate authority and has the last word on constitutional matters. That is why Mr. Diefenbaker, a great Canadian if ever there was one, would never, not in a million years, have enshrined the Canadian Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Doing so would make the judiciary, or the judicial branch, the ultimate authority.
The member for North Island—Powell River has a great deal of respect for our Canadian political culture based on the Westminster tradition of liberal constitutionalism, a culture that, sadly, was stifled, if not snuffed out, by a cultural revolution led by that party over there and Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1982. They brought us closer to an American-style liberal constitutionalism, under which the judiciary gets the final word. We have the notwithstanding clause, sure, but regrettably, no prime minister has dared to invoke it.
Today's debate is historic. I believe this issue goes well beyond that of housing. The debate over how to strike a balance between individual and collective rights started in the age of enlightenment. Even in Canada, this debate has been going on since 1867. Since 1982, or for the last 35 years, Canadian intellectuals have engaged in a mighty fine debate.
John Locke, father of modern liberalism and individualism, believed that individual liberty predated the notion of statehood, and thus the establishment of any constitution or system of positive law. He therefore believed in natural law, and so, to his mind, all political systems based on this idea would place the individual at the heart of the constitutional state.
This is all fundamental to the debate we are having here today on housing, because John Locke would have said that the right to housing does not constitute an individual right, which forms the basis of natural law and therefore supercedes positive law.
A similar debate, although somewhat wider in scope, has been going on in Canada since the Charter was enshrined in 1982 in the midst of what I would characterize as a disgraceful cultural revolution. Progressive authors such as Mandel, Petter, Hutchinson, McWhinney, Hirschl, Mackay, and Lebel-Grenier are the standard-bearers of left-leaning, Marxist intellectual thought in academic circles. Then, there are the so-called conservative thinkers, the fathers of Canadian toryism: Banfield, Morton, Patenaude, Knopff and Martin.
Although they belong to radically different schools of thought, all of these thinkers would agree that enshrining rights or bringing in new rights is no way to address the housing situation in Canada.
My reasoning may seem circuitous but I am nearing my point. These people would have said that access to housing, food, and education is to be secured through political struggle. They would have said, for instance, that homosexuals acquired their rights through political struggle, and not by way of the Supreme Court of Canada or enshrined rights. They would have said that it is in the political arena that women fought to acquire their rights. In this case, the fight was waged by the suffragettes in the early 20th century, not by the Supreme Court of Canada. That is what they would have said.
Everything rests in that interplay between negative and positive rights. That is where we can distinguish between these two schools of thought, between Marxist and conservative thinkers.
I am circling back to what the member said. In the NDP, the hope is that we will be able to incorporate some positive rights into Canadian law. In other words, we would be looking to make concessions, a truly rare occurrence under the Canadian Constitution. That is what happened in the case of language rights granted to French-speaking Canada. That might be the only case of a positive right under our Constitution.
Conservative thought typically associated with classical liberalism would lean toward the idea that we have negative rights, or in other words, that our freedom stops where that of others begins. Canadian law is a pyramid that rests wholly upon the fundamental goal of ensuring that other people's rights are not infringed upon. There is no such thing as a positive right. This is a healthy debate.
My colleague stated that she believed to be waging a political fight. Perhaps she ought to fight to control prices or the housing market. Perhaps the fight ought to be taken to the provinces over their traditional areas of jurisdiction. Being here in the federal Parliament, seeking to incorporate new rights that will amount to nothing more than a bunch of letters on a piece of paper, does not constitute a political fight.
There were some important and well thought out observations around Diefenbaker, but my reading of the man is that he would not have gone so far as to incorporate this right into the Canadian Bill of Rights.
I disagree with both extremes, which are the Marxist thinkers of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto on one end of the spectrum, and on the other, those of the Calgary School, who believe in property rights above all else, where others believe in the right to housing. Both of these extremes are dead wrong, because in both cases, the result would be to paralyze the state. The power of the state is essential in Canada if we are to enforce our sovereignty first and foremost, namely in the military, economic and political spheres.
Enshrining property rights in the Constitution would prevent the government from running power transmission lines, for instance, or from carrying out large scale projects. Enshrining the right to housing in the Constitution would likewise paralyze the state, as it would have to supply housing to every Canadian, which is totally unrealistic, economically speaking.
Let us remain on the right track, the one we were on prior to 1982, and let us stick to the Westminster model.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-19 11:16 [p.12892]
Mr. Speaker, I know it is very honourable to present a bill and I understand it is a private member's bill, but certainly, with all due respect to the member, we must not have read the same bill, because he stated twice—not once, but twice—that the bill would reduce red tape. However, on the contrary, small and medium-sized enterprises would now have to produce a report to the minister that specifies the community benefit, and it is to his discretion concerning which benefits there will be.
Can the member explain to me how he can actually see the bill as a reduction of red tape when it is contrary to what is in the bill?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-19 11:21 [p.12893]
Mr. Speaker, I will continue this debate in French. I wish to inform you that Her Majesty's official opposition will oppose this private member's bill and vote against it.
I hate to rain on anyone's parade, and I know the bill sponsor is not going to like this, but we will be voting against the bill for some eminently sensible reasons that I will explain.
I would like to comment on the member for Brampton Centre's speech. The government's role is to allow everyone to compete. When it grants contracts to third parties, parties outside the government, such as small and medium-sized businesses, big businesses, and organizations, it must ensure that RFPs are written so as to maximize everyone's opportunity. That means minimizing paperwork and constraints, which can be obstacles for some small and medium-sized businesses that want to bid. In Canada, such businesses have fewer resources than large construction companies, for example.
The member said the bill would provide flexibility in granting contracts. That is ironic, because the opposite is true. This bill will make the RFP process, which is open to everyone, more cumbersome.
He also said that this would help communities. I only wish that were the case, but after reading the bill, which contains almost no details and consists of only one page and three clauses, I can find no indication that any assistance will be provided to communities. What will happen, however, is that small and medium-sized businesses will be subject to greater constraints and more red tape. I would like to believe the member when he says he wants to help Canadian communities and municipalities, but that is not at all what the bill appears to do. I say this with some reservation, since that is my interpretation, although it is also how the opposition sees it.
In addition, speaking of economic benefits for local communities, the member referred to the Olympic Village in Vancouver. That was one of the largest projects undertaken in Canada in recent years, and it is hardly the kind of local benefits our colleague was referring to in his bill, in other words, infrastructure such as bridges and so on. The Olympic Village in Vancouver was a megaproject involving huge Canadian corporations that are accustomed to being very efficient and getting sizable returns. They have good relationships with the government and are capable of meeting project deadlines, as was the case for the Olympic Games.
Vancouver's Olympic Village was in fact the worst example that the member could have used to illustrate how his bill would benefit the community, or at least help small businesses.
The member said not once, but twice that this bill would cut down on paperwork and red tape and reduce the number of forms small businesses have to fill; that was the point of the question I asked him. In fact, the opposite is true. The specific focus of the bill is to now make small businesses fill out a form for the minister; the community benefits will therefore be at his discretion. The very purpose of the bill is to create paperwork. It is an incredible thing to say that it will cut red tape.
That was my introduction.
Last week, during my speech on the 2017 budget, I said that the purpose of most of the Liberal bills introduced over the past two years has been to benefit certain special interest groups.
These bills are not introduced for the benefit of Canadians in general, that is, all individual Canadians, but rather to help special interest groups. I believe Bill C-344 to be a prime example of this government’s legislative proclivity.
I would also like to remind members how the bill came to be. It was first introduced by the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship as Bill C-227. It was then dropped from the Order Paper a few months ago, after the member was appointed to cabinet, only to return to it later.
The member said that this bill was significant, fundamental and necessary for Canada in that it will allow communities to make their needs known given the expected benefits of a given project. If that were the case, why is this not a bill that the government would want to introduce? Why is it not a government bill?
While I can appreciate that this is not within the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’s portfolio, why did he not bring this bill forward as quickly as possible? This could have been settled a few months ago. If this were such an effective and important bill, it could have been passed months ago.
The fact that the Liberals removed this bill from the Order Paper and then put it back shows that they likely thought it was inconsequential since there is not much to it. They probably figured that they would just hand it over to some MP so that he could introduce a bill. I know how it goes. It is good to give hon. members the chance to introduce bills, but this bill is essentially going to harm small and medium-sized businesses.
Let me get into the technical details of the bill before it is too late. We in the opposition have identified some problems. There are no criteria in this bill for how small and medium-sized businesses are to respond to the minister's mandatory assessment. There are no criteria, directives, guidelines, or substantive information in this bill indicating precisely how SMEs have to fill out the form.
There is no indication of the criteria, the length of the form, or whether anthropologists and sociologists will have to analyze every little spinoff from the project, whether environmental, economic, or social. What is more, subclause 21.1(1) of the bill states:
...any other specific benefit identified by the community.
I think we can all agree that this could have a major impact on what could be required of small and medium-sized businesses when they fill out the form. For example, if a municipality decides to assess the community benefits for a certain historic group, such as indigenous people, the input of anthropologists and historians will certainly be required. Just imagine if a small or medium-sized business in Toronto, for example, where the member is from, was required to hire anthropologists and sociologists before building a bridge. That is completely ridiculous.
Another problem is that it is left up to the minister's discretion whether a form explaining the community benefits will need to be filled out. The minister will also decide whether or not to present the report on community benefits to Parliament. The bill cannot be that serious if the minister can choose not to apply its provisions. The bill states:
A contracting party shall, upon request by the Minister, provide the Minister with an assessment as to whether community benefits have derived from the project.
I will close by mentioning the worst part, which is that the minister could request a report on the community benefits after the bids have already been submitted and after the SME has already finished the work. However, we know that contracting parties need to have a good idea of how much things will cost before work begins. What the government is telling them is that, after the work is done, they may have to meet other requirements that will cost them more money.
This is a truly a bad piece of legislation as it now stands. It must be sent to committee or even killed because it is just a source of red tape and does not contain any clear directions.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-10-25 18:28 [p.6129]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent and very informative speech. I also learned a thing or two this evening.
In the research that was done for him, did he see anything that might explain why Canada is lagging so far behind the other G7 countries? Can he explain this decade-long delay?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-06-02 17:29 [p.3982]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Cambridge for his fine speech and his bill, which is quite laudable and very hard to oppose. My question is very simple. I was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for a few years. Every year we had to take a first aid course, so that we would be able to give first aid to anyone who might need it, whether it was during our missions or while on exercise in the forest.
My colleague wants to offer a tax credit for that. That is good. As members know, we on this side of the House love tax credits. In his bill, did the member include any guidelines or provisions to ensure that official, recognized organizations would be the ones to provide the first aid courses, in order to ensure that this tax credit does not become a means for private companies to set up shop simply to make money while offering poor-quality courses?
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