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View Larry Maguire Profile
View Larry Maguire Profile
2019-06-18 13:09 [p.29291]
Mr. Speaker, I thought all along that the member for Winnipeg North just liked to debate so he could hear himself. However, I digress.
I am pleased to speak today to the Conservative Party of Canada's opposition motion on the topic of climate change and the environment. I will be sharing my time with the member for Perth—Wellington.
I want to say that only the Liberal government could talk about the environment for four years, break its promise to meet the Paris accord on climate change and end up taxing Canadians to cover up its incompetence, overspending and environmental management.
As I get into my presentation, for those who know me and my background, I have always strived to put forward ideas and solutions to the many issues facing my constituency and our nation. While I am not as good as giving one-liners or the pithy comments of social media that seem to attract the most attention, in my own way I have tried to reach out and build consensus to get things done.
Today, I want to apply that attitude to the larger issue of the environment, conservation and climate change. Like many members in the chamber, I represent a constituency that is geographically large. All across Westman, farms and communities dot the prairie landscape, as they have for many generations. Almost half of the people I represent live outside the city of Brandon in the 20-plus municipalities located in the riding.
These are some of the most hard-working, down to earth and determined people we will meet anywhere in this great country of ours. Living in rural Canada has its unique challenges. With those challenges also comes a way of life like none other. Our connection to the land, air and water is strong, because our livelihoods quite literally depend on it.
As someone who farmed for most of my life, I firmly believe that if we take care of the land, it will take care of us. My father raised my brother and me on those words, and I have lived by them. I want to immediately dispel any notion that farmers or rural folks who oppose the carbon tax do not care about the environment. They do care. They care about it immensely. They just have a serious issue about being forced to pay a new tax imposed on provinces that will disproportionately impact rural people.
Let us put ourselves in their boots for a moment. Many families must drive long distances to get to work. Many seniors have to drive into Brandon to go to either the doctor or the optician. Parents have to drive their kids to various towns for sports or choir practice.
Let us never forget students at Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College who still live on the farm or in their rural community and make the daily commute to the city to attend classes. These are not optional things that people can just decide not to do or do less. There are no subways or bus routes for their purposes. Trust me; if people did not have to drive in our blustery winters, they would not.
From the very beginning, I believe the government has mishandled the rollout of the carbon tax.
First and foremost, many Canadians, particularly many of the people I represent, have trepidations about the federal government's priorities at the best of times. Saying the federal government is about to impose a new tax but not to worry because people will not feel the pinch, while at the same time it will combat climate change, is not the best way to get buy-in from those who have skepticism.
Second, when we tried in vain to get the financial data out of the Minister of Finance, it was so heavily blacked out that it was meaningless.
Third, when the Province of Manitoba put forward a plan that would have reduced carbon emissions, the federal government rejected it. Officials were told that no matter how many tonnes of CO2 their plan would reduce, it had to include a $50 a tonne carbon tax.
My province tried to work in good faith with the federal government and was told to go pound sand. No wonder it has decided to launch its own court case. If that is the way federalism now works in this country, it is not hard to understand why premiers are concerned about the Liberal government's other initiatives, such as Bill C-48 and Bill C-69.
It also troubles me that, in Canadian politics, the litmus test on one's commitment to the environment is now centred on supporting a $50 a tonne carbon tax. While that may be the case in some circles, I can assure MPs that everyday Canadians do not use this lens when talking with their family and friends. It is not that my Conservative colleagues or people who oppose the carbon tax do not care about the changing climate; it is that we do not believe the carbon tax is the best way of addressing it.
Tomorrow, our leader will outline the vision and present an alternative to what is being imposed by the current federal government. Due to the already challenging political discourse on this issue, I can only imagine the over-the-top language being drafted now in response. I want to urge the Liberals to hold off on issuing their canned response before the speech has even been given. The Liberals have been waiting ever so patiently, so I fully expect that they will be paying close attention. I want the government to recognize that there are more ways to deal with climate change than applying a tax on the fuel that families put in their minivans.
I want the Liberals to recognize that applying a carbon tax on the energy used to drive farmers' grain only adds further cost to the industry that is already facing challenging commodity prices and markets that slam shut. I want them to start listening to farmers who have ideas that can reduce and sequester carbon without applying a new tax. The agricultural industry has made great strides in environmental management that benefit society, virtually by its own innovation at its own cost. There are proven models out there that have had tangible and meaningful results.
I have always been a proponent, as examples, of implementing an alternative land use services program and the expansion of wetland restoration programs. For those who have not listened to the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, I can assure them his message about eating more beef and how it is good for the environment is grounded in empirical science.
Over the years as a farm leader, an MLA and now an MP, I have dealt with many issues that impact our environment. Back home, people do not apply a litmus test to determine our commitment to an issue. We focus on bringing people together to work on solutions. Perhaps one day those values will rub off on all of us in this chamber when we must wade through our differences.
I want to give just one example from which we can learn. Manitoba has been prone to floods for as long as history has been recorded. Being at the bottom of the basin, we have had to deal with spring runoff and localized flooding that has impacted communities for generations. It was a Progressive Conservative premier, Duff Roblin, who implemented a series of public works projects that protected communities in the Assiniboine and Red River basins, and particularly impacted the flooding that would have occurred in the city of Winnipeg in 1997. Since then, there have been significant enhancements to flood protection up and down the Souris, Red and Assiniboine rivers. I want to say that this issue in Manitoba is non-partisan.
Our previous federal Conservative and provincial NDP governments both invested in projects that protected the city of Brandon and the towns of Melita, Reston, Souris, Deloraine, Elkhorn and Wawanesa. We also expanded the Red River Floodway, which was completed under budget.
It was after the most recent flood that many people in the Assiniboine River basin decided that we needed to work together. Under the leadership of Allan Preston and Wanda McFadyen, they spearheaded an initiative that brought the governments of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota under one organization, alongside municipalities, farmers and conservation districts. We all live within the same watershed, and we had to stop working in silos.
We know a one-size-fits-all approach to water management does not work, and that is why a one-size-fits-all approach will not work with a carbon tax. That is why it was so frustrating to see how the federal government tossed aside the climate change plan put forward by Manitoba. Without a change in attitude, more and more Canadians will look at the rigid position taken by some in the government and tune out. We also know that climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions. The current approach does not reflect that reality.
I firmly believe that Canada is well positioned to provide these solutions. Tomorrow we will start outlining our alternative to the carbon tax and begin the conversation on what will replace it. I encourage my Liberal colleagues, particularly those who represent rural areas, to join me in supporting this motion. I ask them to please stand up for their constituents, repeal the carbon tax and replace it with a real environmental plan.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2019-04-05 10:07 [p.26725]
That, given the recent allegations of political interference against the Prime Minister and given that Canadians reject the Prime Minister’s excuse for his actions as simply routine government business, the House call on the government to show respect for the rule of law and immediately:
(a) comply with the letter and spirit of all court orders and requests in relation to the trial of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman;
(b) provide Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s defence with all records relating to his prosecution, including but not limited to, memos, letters, emails, PIN-to-PIN messages, SMS messages, and handwritten notes, including records that exist on personal electronic devices;
(c) require all current and former Cabinet ministers and their respective political staff and employees of the Privy Council Office since November 2015 to sign an affidavit affirming that no evidence or records related to the prosecution of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman have been destroyed, and that they have personally complied with all relevant court orders; and
(d) indemnify Vice-Admiral Mark Norman and provide legal assistance within 30 days of the adoption of this motion for any invoices that are in arrears, and within 30 days of the invoice date for any subsequent invoices.
She said: Madam Speaker, before I begin I want to advise you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Durham.
This year has been a very troubling one for the rule of law in Canada. Of course the entire country is now familiar, and disgusted, with the disturbing case of the Prime Minister's political interference in the very serious corruption prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. Shockingly, this is not the only case that we know of.
Highly respected and regarded Vice-Admiral Mark Norman is under criminal prosecution for alleged leaks of cabinet documents, and was suspended from his role as the number two officer in Canada's military. This prosecution appears to have been politically motivated and Conservatives have said this since the beginning, but it is not just Conservatives who have this concern.
During preliminary court proceedings in an Ottawa courthouse just a few blocks from here, very serious allegations of political interference in this prosecution have been made. Honestly, we should not be surprised. The Prime Minister said publicly, and before the RCMP even completed its investigation, that it looked like this would be “before the courts”.
How in the world would the Prime Minister have known that? As the SNC-Lavalin mess has exposed, the Prime Minister and his government have an obsessive, unhealthy and seemingly corrupt fascination with meddling in criminal prosecutions.
How did this all happen in the first place? Sadly, just like the SNC-Lavalin affair, it all comes down to “Who do you know in the PMO?” Back in November 2015, right after the last election, the Liberals were drunk on power and arrogance, and had one of the first cabinet meetings of the Liberal government. Former Treasury Board president Scott Brison took the unprecedented step of trying to stop or delay the contract with Davie shipyard for a much-needed interim supply ship for the Royal Canadian Navy.
Why would he do that? What was behind that? Scott Brison and other Liberals from the Liberal caucus were looking out for well-connected interests from their own neck of the woods in Atlantic Canada. They wanted the contract changed.
Then there was a leak about it all from someone to CBC reporter James Cudmore, the same James Cudmore who, really interestingly, became employed in the defence minister's office just weeks after this big military scoop. Wow, what a coincidence. The Liberals got very angry and decided that they needed to blame someone.
We have seen the news in recent weeks, recent days in fact, about other government leaks. It is really interesting how these government leaks happen and the result of the government leaks, the response from the Liberal government, depending on what the leak is about, who leaked it and whether it helps or hurts them.
As part of the recent Liberal smear campaign against the former attorney general, we saw that it did not matter whose reputation the Liberals were going to tarnish when they were trying to tarnish her reputation. In fact, we saw, and it was very disturbing and disrespectful to see, the government leaks about applicants to the Supreme Court of Canada.
There has to be an investigation into how in the world leaks, misinformation and such a disrespectful campaign was allowed to happen against Chief Justice Glenn Joyal of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, a highly respected individual, not only in Manitoba but across the country. As for the leaks around him, which were not true and which were disrespectful, the government is just saying, “That leak? Oh well, it happened. We'll make sure it never happens again.” However, there is no investigation from the current Attorney General.
Let us compare that to another leak. The National Post just ran a story about a PCO leak inquiring into finding the brave soul inside the government who let Canadians know about the $10.5-million deal cut with convicted terrorist Omar Khadr. That one has the government upset. That was something it wanted to hide. It did not come straight from its offices, apparently. That one, the government is going to get to the bottom of.
We can see how differently the government treats what it calls “leaks”, leaks that come from it and leaks that it thinks come from someone else. It would appear that whistle-blowers who blow the whistle on Liberals must be punished, if we read between the lines of what the government is doing.
The leak concerning the supply ship was also investigated. That investigation turned up six separate leaks from the cabinet committee meeting where the issue was discussed, and some 73 people having knowledge of the details of Scott Brison's meddling, yet it was Mark Norman who was charged under the Criminal Code.
Do members know what happened just before those charges were laid and a 30-plus year respected veteran officer of the Canadian Forces was suspended—
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2019-02-28 18:32 [p.25957]
That the House do now adjourn.
She said: Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Wellington—Halton Hills.
We are currently facing an unprecedented crisis that strikes at the very heart of Canadian democracy and the rule of law. That is why Conservatives have called for an emergency debate tonight and why we are seized with this matter.
This is not a debate about remediation agreements; this is a debate about the very essence and the core of our democracy and the integrity of the Prime Minister's Office, the integrity of the Clerk of the Privy Council and the integrity of the finance minister.
Yesterday at the justice committee, we heard clear, concise, meticulously documented and detailed accounts of unwanted, sustained and coordinated pressure by the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council, the finance minister and their staff on the former attorney general to give SNC-Lavalin a special deal. It was shocking testimony. It was riveting and believable. Let me, for a moment, recount some of the things that the former attorney general told us yesterday.
She said, “I experienced a consistent and sustained effort by many people within the government to seek to politically interfere in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.... I spoke to [the Minister of Finance] on this matter...and...I told him that engagements from his office to mine on SNC had to stop—that they were inappropriate. ... They did not stop.”
She went on to say, “Various officials also urged me to take partisan political considerations into account—which was clearly improper for me to do.” She told us that Gerry Butts, who was then the chief adviser to the Prime Minister, said to her, “there is no solution here that doesn't involve some interference.” Katie Telford said, “We don't want to debate legalities anymore.” PCO clerk Michael Wernick said of the Prime Minister, “I think he is gonna find a way to get it done one way or another.” The former attorney general said, “these events constituted pressure to intervene in a matter, and that this pressure...was not appropriate.”
Where did this all begin? From our knowledge, it began about four weeks ago, February 7, when a story broke in The Globe and Mail about allegations that the Prime Minister and his office had exerted pressure on the former attorney general to give a special deal to SNC-Lavalin.
There were questions asked of the Prime Minister immediately. The media asked the Prime Minister what the former attorney general was talking about. Was there pressure applied to her? Of course the Prime Minister, in his typical way, said there was nothing to see here. In fact, what he said was, “The allegations in the Globe story this morning are false. Neither the current nor the previous attorney general was ever directed by me, or by anyone in my office, to take a decision in this matter.” He then went on, as we will all recall, to blame the former attorney general. He said she had a different perspective. He said that if Scott Brison had not left, then none of this would have happened. His story changed over a number of weeks.
While the media and members in the House of Commons were trying to get answers form the Prime Minister, in parallel, Conservatives and NDP were also trying to get the justice committee to immediately undertake hearings on this issue so that answers could be found out immediately, and we were stonewalled.
First, we had to force the justice committee to meet. Then it did not want to call witnesses. Then it wanted to change the scope of what was being looked at. By the way, the Liberals on the justice committee were being directed by the House leader's office and the Prime Minister's Office, but after they were basically forced, kicking and screaming, into having these meetings, we then had to pressure them to invite witnesses who needed to be heard from, including the former attorney general.
On one hand, the Prime Minister was denying that anything happened, saying that there was no pressure applied, that she was mistaken, that she should have gone to him, that it was all her fault for not telling him she felt pressured. Simultaneously, we were trying to get answers from the justice committee and trying to have the former attorney general attend and give full testimony.
This all culminated in what happened yesterday, where the former attorney general did appear. She was able to give a limited amount of testimony. She was able to speak up until the point when she was fired from her position as Attorney General and became the veterans affairs minister.
She was very clear, not yesterday but the day before, that she needed to be able to speak about what happened after she became veterans affairs minister, during the time when she and the Prime Minister spoke in Vancouver, and about why she resigned. When asked yesterday, she indicated there was additional information that needed to be provided.
This is where we find ourselves today. The Prime Minister is being accused of very serious things. We have a former attorney general who, may I remind everyone, is the Attorney General who was duly elected to this place and comes with a very impressive and solid career as a prosecutor. She was appointed by the Prime Minister because he had such faith and trust in her. Although we certainly did not agree with her politics, we would all be able to say that she certainly was a cabinet minister appointed on merit and is certainly an individual who, when she provides testimony and speaks, is incredibly believable.
However, we have a Prime Minister who even just yesterday said, “There are disagreements in perspective on this, but I can reassure Canadians that we were doing our job”. He quite likes the word “perspective”. He went on to say, “I completely disagree with the characterization of the former attorney general about these events.” In other words, she is lying.
I have to pause now, because it seems to be a pattern for this Prime Minister. When people, and it seems especially women, say no to him, there seems to be a pattern to his attack on them and then his patronizing characterization of what they recollect.
I want to remind everyone of what happened this past summer, when the allegation and story came out that, 18 years prior, the Prime Minister, who was a young man, an almost 30-year-old man, had groped a woman in the Kokanees at a festival. When this story was brought to light just this summer, he was asked about it. What was the first thing he said on July 1? He said that it did not happen. He said, “I remember that day” and “I don't remember any negative interactions that day at all.” A few days later, he was pressed further, so then he said that often a man experiences interactions differently that may be inappropriate, but that we have to respect that and reflect.
A few days later, the Prime Minister goes on again and starts his social thought process. He said, “I think people understand that every situation is different and we have to reflect and take seriously every situation on a case-by-case basis.” It is just a lot of word salad. What he never says is that he did it, he was wrong and he apologizes because it was the wrong thing to do. That seemed to be what his take was on that. The woman in that scenario was not interested in talking. I think she had had about enough of that Prime Minister.
Although we find ourselves in a somewhat similar situation today, we have a woman who is not going to back down and will have her story heard. She will speak truth to power. However, we certainly are seeing the same type of approach from the Prime Minister to what are not just allegations but to what are very credible recollections, which we have seen from the testimony.
First of all, the Prime Minister says that it did not happen. He then, in a roundabout way, degrades her and patronizingly says that it was just her perspective. What he does not do is take responsibility, clearly and openly and transparently take responsibility. If we line up everything we have heard the Prime Minister say to date against what we heard the former attorney general say, we have one individual, the former attorney general, who was clear, documented and kept records. When talking with this woman, people better know she is clearly somebody who is not thinking about something else. She is keeping track of what people are saying. People should not think for one minute that they are going to fool her or get past anything she is involved with. That was very clear yesterday.
Then we have a Prime Minister who is evasive every time he is asked a question, uses three or four words that are very legally precise and is far from transparent.
Where does this leave us? This leaves us at a crisis. We have a Prime Minister who cannot admit that he has done something wrong and cannot take responsibility for it. He should own up to it, say it was wrong and change it, although at this point that would be too little, too late. However, if we do not have a Prime Minister who can be truthful, we cannot trust him to get to the bottom of this.
There has been some discussion about having an inquiry. Frankly, I do not trust the Prime Minister to call one. I do not trust the Prime Minister to allow the right witnesses to appear.
This is why we are in a crisis at the very heart of our democracy. The Prime Minister does not have the moral authority to continue. He must resign.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2018-12-11 15:21 [p.24732]
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be rising today on Bill C-21 and the amendment proposed by the Senate. I will be splitting my time with my friend, the hon. member for Battle River—Crowfoot.
This could likely be the last time I get to speak in this chamber, and I do so with great emotion. I am very fond of this place. There is so much history here. This building is so beautiful. There have been so many great speeches delivered in this chamber over the past century. Unfortunately, we need to renovate this building. We need to upgrade it, and we will be moving into the new chamber over in the West Block.
As much as I would like to consider this as the House of Commons, the House of Commons is a body of people. It is us, as commoners, gathered together, and wherever we are is where the House of Commons shall be. A lot of people may not realize it, but the green rug and the green decor we have in here represent the fields and the grass where the early House of Commons in Britain used to meet. They would gather in the common lands and pass bills to hold the government to account. Therefore, it is important that as members of Parliament, regardless of partisanship, we remember that principle. First and foremost, we are commoners elected to serve the people and wherever we gather, whether in this beautiful chamber or the temporary chamber being created in the West Block, we will get the business of the country done, with those of us in opposition holding the government to account and, of course, the government bringing forward legislation. As private members we have that opportunity as well.
It is my pleasure to be speaking to Bill C-21. The bill is very similar to legislation that was brought forward by our previous Conservative government. The Liberals, at that time the third party, actually opposed that legislation. They did not believe we needed to improve our relationship on security matters across the border with our friends in the United States.
This is part of the beyond the border action plan, and I appreciate that Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner, brought forward the amendment that was accepted in the Senate and that we are accepting here. It would ensure that any data that is collected on individuals is only retained for 15 years as part of the public record. It is important that we address that need.
We have to make sure that people understand that Bill C-21 is not only tracking people who arrive here in Canada, but that it would also enable us to track them as they leave. This is of major concern to our security partners, particularly in the United States. It is an obvious national security matter, and it helps us track those dangerous persons who may be entering our country and then leaving. It actually helps us deal with things like the Magnitsky law that we passed last year. The Magnitsky law provides us with the opportunity to enforce sanctions against those who are committing human rights abuses or are corrupt foreign officials. If they are coming to Canada and then leaving, we need to know. They could be trying to launder money or to hide persons because they may be in trouble back in their home country, for example, in the Russian Federation, or Iran, or Saudi Arabia for that matter.
If we are going to have this information, we have to be able to access it and use it for investigations. Some of those investigations involve criminal activity, like fraud, including identity theft. It could even include the fraudulent use of one's identity to come to the country. We also know that this would help us make sure that permanent residents here are actually in compliance with the rules for permanent residency. We know that some permanent residents come here, get their applications done, get accepted into Canada and then leave. No one seems to know they have left and have returned to their homeland, and yet they are in the process and on track to becoming citizens.
This system needs this tool to ensure that the Canada Border Services Agency has the tools to do its job, and make sure that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has the tools to do its job.
We have a system that is backlogged with criminal cases and often victimized by fraudsters. This will enable us to get that documentation and information into the refugee and immigration court processes so we can hold those individuals to account.
The theme for 2018 when looking at the government is that it has failed. The Liberal government has failed on so many different fronts. When talking about border security and national security, it has failed. We know that with border protection, we have an issue with ISIS terrorists who have returned to Canada. We just heard that in question period. Terrorists left this country to wage war on Canada and are allies and to commit mass atrocities and genocide against individuals and communities, and yet instead of stopping them from coming to Canada or arresting them at the scene, they have come back into our country.
All I have to do is to say the name Abu Huzaifa. He has been bragging about coming back to Canada and saying he is untouchable by unbelievers. He openly discussed with the media, whether CBC or the New York Times, all of the atrocities he has committed. He has done podcasts and interviews on television documenting and confessing to the crimes he has committed against the people ISIS has been waging war against and committing human rights abuses against.
When we talk about national security and the reason we want to have Bill C-21 pass, it is because we want to build a strong relationship with the United States. We want to build a stronger relationship with our security partners under the Five Eyes partnership, they being the five nations of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, with whom we share security information to keep our countries safe and secure.
How can we be a trusted security partner when we have a government that is prepared to allow Huawei, a Chinese corporation, to infiltrate our 5G network? It is a corporation that is beholden to the communist government of China. How can we allow them to take data they come into contact with through their information and technology networks like 5G through smart phones and computer systems, and share that with the Communist Party of China?
Why would anyone in the Five Eyes trust the Liberal government when it has not shut down Huawei from accessing our new 5G spectrum? The United States has stopped them from selling smart phones and accessing their networks. Australia and New Zealand have stopped them. Orders have been given by the U.K. now to stop Huawei from selling their phones to government organizations, including their military, never mind participating in their 5G networks. We need to make sure that we can see the government taking national security and border control seriously, although it turns a blind eye when it comes to Huawei.
Talking about border controls, the government likes to brag about all of the Syrian refugees it has brought in. It deeply concerns me when I talk to refugees from the Yazidi community on the streets of Canada, whether in London, Ontario or Winnipeg, Manitoba, who ran away from being sex slaves and from the mass killings of the genocidal network of ISIS. After arriving in Canada, Yazidi refugees have seen their ISIS captors here, the people who sold them into the sex trade. Luckily they have reported them to the RCMP and to the Ontario Provincial Police and now those individuals are being apprehended.
It is disturbing that we are supposed to trust the Liberal government on border security and our American allies are supposed to trust them, and yet we have all of these ISIS terrorists who have returned to Canada. We have had Syrian refugees infiltrated by ISIS, which has snuck into our country that way. How are we supposed to know what the information is when the government cannot get it right? We are supposed to be collecting this information on non-citizens and non-permanent residents who are coming and going from Canada, yet we are allowing in people who have belonged to a terrorist organization like ISIS.
Of course, then all we have to do is look at the illegal border crossers. In Manitoba, we see them coming across at Emerson from Minnesota and North Dakota. In Quebec, of course, they are crossing from New York. That has cost the government $1.1 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has provided that information, and we know that it has caused a great backlog.
We need to have a good relationship with the United States. However, we do not trust the current Liberal government, because it continues to fail on national security matters, to fail on immigration and to fail on managing our border with the United States and with our other allies.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2018-11-29 15:36 [p.24222]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak today to the 66th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on the use of indigenous languages in House proceedings. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston.
It has been very good to hear my colleagues from both sides of the House speak to this already. It is very interesting. Personally, I am very inspired and encouraged by what I hear. My speech may be a little different, but it is wonderful that we can each bring our own perspective. My grand daughter's father is of Mennonite descent and her mother is Anishinaabe. I am so pleased to be able to share that heritage and so many wonderful things with my grand daughter.
I am also fortunate to have lived in Grand Rapids, Manitoba for a number of years. I learned at that time some wonderful church hymns in the Cree language. I will not be sharing those today, but it was a wonderful language and wonderful to be able to learn and share that language.
The report we are discussing today calls on us to decide on an appropriate balance between the use of indigenous languages in House proceedings and the ability of all members to comprehend those interventions. In principle, simultaneous interpretation of all indigenous languages sounds like it is a well-intentioned aspirational concept, but it is important that we be fully alert not only to many of the good consequences and good effects of this, but also maybe to some of the unintended consequences that could come of it.
I worry that unintended consequences will follow if we adopt the committee's report specifically as written. For starters, let me explain why. There are a dozen languages other than French and English spoken in Canada by more Canadians than all speakers of indigenous languages combined, namely, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi, Arabic, Tagalog, Italian, German, Hindi, Urdu, Portuguese and Russian. If we were to treat each indigenous language separately, and there are more than 60 of them, I could add yet another dozen languages that are more commonly spoken in Canada than Cree, the most common indigenous language.
As a result, as members we may find ourselves with new demands by constituents from among these 24 linguistic communities, or others, to speak for them in their language in the House. Today, I can say that Canada's official languages are spoken and readily understood in Parliament, with a small indulgence for modest pieces of other languages that members speak in this place from time to time. However, if interpretation facilities are in place for non-official languages, over time parliamentarians may be harder pressed to explain why interpretation is not also provided for other languages spoken in the House of Commons that may represent a large number of Canadians.
Another concern resulting from the law of unintended consequences with regard to the recommendations to arrange for interpreters is that Canada simply does not have a lot of people right now at the ready to become interpreters and to interpret speeches for us. According to the 2016 census, there are some 400 Canadians with a knowledge of indigenous languages who work in the interpretation and translation field. Considering that translators and interpreters do very different work, the Translation Bureau has an inventory of just 115 indigenous language interpreters on file. I understand that only three of them live in or are close to Ottawa. The rest live and work in communities across Canada, and often at quite a distance from Ottawa.
Consider the interpreters' time that would definitely be required. Though we might only be asking someone to come here to interpret a 10-minute speech, that might require them to dedicate two or more days to a single assignment, considering the travel required. That is time away from their providing important and necessary support in their home communities, support that is crucial to many Canadians' interactions with medical, government and legal services. I am thinking back to my time living in Grand Rapids, a very isolated community where these services could very much be used.
To satisfy this report and, truthfully, a few of us politicians here in Ottawa, who I am not saying should be disregarded, I do think that the needs of other Canadians and indigenous Canadians across the country should be put before our needs. That said, in order to satisfy our request, we would be asking what few interpreters there are to abandon their clients for days at a time. We run a serious risk of throwing into disarray those important services, potentially endangering many Canadians. That is a significant and legitimate concern, and it is one that I hope we have not overlooked.
Another concern is that despite the available pool of interpreters, most of them are simply not experienced at interpreting to and from French, which is another part of this. That would prompt the need for some of us to turn to what is called “relay interpretation”. Let me explain.
If we have someone speaking Cree that would need to be interpreted into English, then that English interpretation would need to be rendered into French. If we think of the expression “lost in translation”, which is a real phenomenon, that is likely what we could see happen with the use of relay interpretation.
Compounding this is subsection 4(3) of the Official Languages Act, which requires our debates to be recorded in one of the official languages and to be accompanied by a translation in the other official language. In fact, this could be unconstitutional.
Subsection 16(1) of the charter provides the following:
English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada.
Relay interpretation might not honour these constitutional guarantees of equality of status and equal rights.
Those issues were a matter of concern earlier this year in the other place, when a report of the Senate's internal economy committee presented the views of its advisory working group on parliamentary translation services. I am going to quote from that report:
...the lack of high quality translation and interpretation services for the Senate also affects the rights of Canadians...the Senate has a constitutional duty to make services of equal quality available to the public in both official languages. Words matter; the Senate must do what it can to ensure that no matter what language is originally used, its publications and broadcasts reflect the very best translation and interpretation available so that all Canadians have equal access to the entire context of the debate and to its nuances.
If the equality of Canada's official languages is genuinely important to us, these unintended consequences, and more, should offer all of us pause. Of course, we are not talking here about the right to use an indigenous language in the House.
We are firm believers in the freedom of speech. The right of members to speak out in this chamber on behalf of their constituents is paramount. Speech goes to the very purpose of this institution. Its in the name, “Parliament”.
A very workable plan has been laid out, and I am going to quote the Speaker. He said:
....if members want to ensure that the comments they make in a language other than French or English can be understood by those who are following the proceedings and are part of the official record in the Debates, an extra step is required. Specifically, members need to repeat their comments in one of the two official languages so that our interpreters can provide the appropriate interpretation and so that they may be fully captured in the Debates.
I think this is a sensible and balanced approach that would minimize the unintended consequences while honouring the equality of the official languages.
This approach is done in the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory, an Australian jurisdiction where close to 20% of the population uses at least one of the territory's 100-plus aboriginal languages daily. Closer to home, in Yukon, the territorial legislature allows the use of English and French and what are called “Yukon aboriginal languages”, but there are no interpretation facilities.
I guess I would just wrap up by saying that we do believe that resources like these would be better used to help promote and support the indigenous peoples' languages. I understand the spirit of this report. I think we all support the spirit of this report, but I think there are more efficient ways we can accomplish the desired goals than by what has been laid out in the report.
View Larry Maguire Profile
View Larry Maguire Profile
2018-11-19 18:00 [p.23566]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge.
Mr. Speaker, $2,066,210.05 is the amount of money every hour the Liberal government spends more than it collects. That means every day the Liberals are adding $49.5 million to Canada's debt. No Canadian voted for this debt.
Not even the most partisan Liberals thought that their government was going to do this to the nation's finances. Across Canada, Liberal candidates said that their numbers were rock solid. They said that they had a fiscal plan and that voters could trust them. Nothing could have been further from reality.
I remember participating in a debate where I questioned the validity of these proposed Liberal deficits and I was told that the Liberals had financial gurus who worked on their election platform. They knew exactly what they were doing and that their short-term deficits were not only needed, but they were good for the nation. Now we know the exact consequences of their ill-thought-out fiscal plans: a lot of red ink and debt service charges that will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
Back in 2015, the Liberals walked into a balanced budget, a growing economy and record low interest rates. Not only did the Liberals break the bank in their first couple of years in office, they also raised taxes and drove us deeper into debt while doing it. The amount of $17,937 is the share of the national debt for every living, breathing Canadian, and that is just the federal debt. This does not include provincial, municipal, personal and household debt.
There is something fundamentally wrong when the Minister of Finance, the individual in charge of the nation's money, is unable to tell the House of Commons when he plans on balancing the budget. Some could argue that he does not know. Some could say that he is refusing to say. Some could even say that he is holding us in great suspense and is planning the grand reveal in the days ahead. Regardless of the endless speculation, I would argue that he does not care. His actions reveal that he may actually believe that the budget will balance itself.
Politicians need to be reminded on a constant basis that money does not grow on trees; it does not magically appear out of thin air and budgets do not balance themselves. There has been little evidence to suggest that the Liberal government has any intention of ever getting the nation's finances under control. From what has been reported, the Liberals' cabinet committee in charge of finding efficiencies has come up empty. The Liberals have almost nothing to show for their efforts. They have no plan to return to a balanced budget.
There has been no meaningful debate from the Liberal government, which leads us to our Conservative opposition day motion. We are arguing its merits at this very moment. It is telling that we even have to put forward a motion such as this one. Surely to goodness the first thing the Minister of Finance should be concerned about is balancing the budget. The mere fact that every single day the Liberal government is borrowing millions of dollars with zero plan to ever pay it back should be a signal that it is time for a new government.
The government's own survey found that Canadians believe it is wrong to continue to rack up massive deficits and add billions to the debt. In that same survey, which the government commissioned, it said that over 60% of Canadians want to make reducing the deficit a priority. I can assure the Minister of Finance that those numbers are accurate. I would even go so far as to argue that in my constituency of Brandon—Souris those numbers would even be higher.
Across this country, everyday taxpayers are fed up with governments everywhere that do not live within their means. They know that when interest rates rise, and they will, it will be a serious blow to their pocketbooks. The Minister of Finance has had ample opportunity to inform Canadians of his plan to stop adding billions of dollars of debt, but at every turn, he has twisted himself into a pretzel. The minister is a very accomplished, educated, successful individual, so I know full well that he understands the question. In many respects, I have a bit of sympathy for him. He must feel absurd as he bobs and weaves while evading this question.
The word “balance” truly seems to be the hardest word. I know my colleagues across the way are a little leery of the whole conversation as it reminds the entire nation that the budget is supposed to be balanced next year. In the last election there was no ambiguity in the Liberals' election platform about the numbers. It said that in 2019 they “will balance the budget”. It did not say that the Liberals will try to balance the budget. It did not say that they will strive to balance the budget. It said that they will balance budget. Not only did they break that promise to Canadians, but they have failed to provide a plan to stop adding billions of dollars to our debt.
What makes this all so somewhat comical if it were not so serious a topic, is that right under the promise of balancing the budget the Liberals' platform said that they “will raise the bar on fiscal transparency”. All those following this debate will know that the Minister of Finance is anything but transparent when it comes to his handling of the nation's finances. We only need to go on YouTube to see the countless times the minister has sidestepped questions about his deficit numbers. If we were to keep scrolling past the videos of him calling Canadians tax cheats or the videos about his ethics investigations, we would find countless exchanges of the minister doing his best to avoid saying anything decipherable.
That is what brings us to this debate today. On Wednesday, in the Liberals' fall economic statement, I implore the Minister of Finance to reveal to Canadians his plans to balance the budget. The Liberals were not given a blank cheque. They were not given the mandate to run massive deficits as far as the eye can see. Future generations should not be on the hook for the Liberals' reckless spending. Everyone knows that today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes. Canadians know it is wrong to leave their kids with an unpaid credit card bill, but that is exactly what the Liberal government is doing. It is nothing short of intergenerational theft.
The deficit is now almost $20 billion, more than three times what he promised. Instead of balancing the budget next year as the Prime Minister said he would, Finance Canada says we will now have 25 more years of deficits at this rate. Interest on the national debt is expected to grow by two-thirds, to $37 billion a year. That is just the interest. That is almost as much as we spend on health care transfers. Instead of keeping their money for gas, groceries and other family essentials, Canadians will pay more to bankers and bond holders to fund the growing interest on the Liberals' spiralling debt.
That is why Conservatives are calling on the government to announce in its fall economic update the year in which the budget will finally be balanced. While every family or business out there has to balance their budget, it is mind-blowing that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister think they have no obligation to do so. The only thing I know for sure is that it will not be by next year as promised.
There has to be at least some Liberal MPs who see the lunacy of the actions of the finance minister when it comes to avoiding the question of a “balanced budget”. They must agree that their own government has fallen short in terms of financial transparency. People's patience is wearing thin and this charade must come to an end.
That is exactly why we are forcing a vote of the House of Commons on this issue. I want every Liberal MP to have a chance to join us. It is never too late to ask for a little common sense from the government. I want them to join us in stopping the raid on future generations. I want them to join us in eliminating out of control deficits and get Canada's fiscal house back in order. At the very minimum, I would ask them to support this motion.
Canadians deserve answers. Liberal parliamentarians deserve answers. At the end of the day, if we can at least agree that having a plan to balance the budget is needed, it is a meaningful step in the right direction. I urge all Liberal MPs to support this motion and demand better from their own finance minister.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2018-10-22 13:31 [p.22658]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member and my friend from Durham.
This is an important motion, one I am glad my colleagues have brought forward. We are talking about ISIS's crimes against humanity. We are commemorating the work and efforts by Nadia Murad, and even her sentiment is captured in the motion, about what happened to the ISIS women and girls who were used as sex slaves. The member for Calgary Nose Hill described in detail the horrific existence, injuries and impacts that rape, as a weapon, had on culture and society, particularly how it traumatized the lives of these women and girls. We need to act upon that.
It is one thing to have a Prime Minister call himself a feminist, but we have to take action. If we want to stop genocide, we need to have plan on how to do that. It is one thing to talk about the responsibility to protect. It is another thing to call an atrocity a genocide, such as ISIS committed against the people in the Syrian and Iraqi regions. We need to ensure that we stand with them and that those who committed these atrocities and crimes against humanity are held accountable.
I have had the privilege over the last number of years to work with the Yazidi community in Canada. It was shocking to hear the stories of the women and girls who were sex slaves, They have come to Canada for refuge, asylum and our protection and are glad to be here, even though they still have family members in refugee camps in the region who cannot get out. We need to be of more help to them on that basis.
It is disturbing when I talk to them and hear the stories they are experiencing right in Canada. A lady in London, Ontario, a Yazidi refugee, got on a bus with her captor, who was an ISIS terrorist. He had bought her, used her and then sold her again like she was property, like livestock. He is here under the so-called Syrian refugee program. He lied to get into Canada. We cannot allow this individual and his family to stay here. First, he is an ISIS terrorist. Second, he committed atrocities as part of the ISIS genocide. Third, he entered Canada on false pretenses.
Another lady has had the same experience in Winnipeg. An ISIS terrorist, who is on the streets, was recognized by one of his Yazidi sex slaves. She too has talked to the police. She has not talked about it in the media, like the other case in London, but she saw him face to face in Canada.
It is disturbing that these people have snuck into Canada under the Syrian refugee program and have lied about who they are. They were definitely part of ISIS. Then there are Canadians who have returned after the war started going sideways. They had joined ISIS and fought in Iraq and Syria. We know of some who are being held today by the Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Muhammad Ali has been on Global TV, talking about how he wants to come back to Canada. His wife lived for sometime in Vancouver. He would like to come to Canada with their children, but they are in detention. He admits to being part of ISIS and to committing atrocities, while fighting against Canada and our allies in the region, yet we are offering him consular services. Those crimes were committed in Iraq and Syria. When Canadians travel abroad and commit crimes abroad, they should be charged, prosecuted and brought to justice in those jurisdictions, just as we witnessed this past week when a young girl, who wrote graffiti on a historic site in Thailand, was arrested for it.
If they do the crime there, they will do the time there. Many Canadians are incarcerated around the world in various prisons, because they committed crimes in those countries. However, we still offer them consular services, but we do not need to make a case for them to return to Canada, like consular services did in talking to Muhammad Ali on how to get back to Canada and how to get his passport in order.
Consular services also spoke to Jihadi Jack, Jack Letts, a British citizen. He became famous in 2014-15, promoting ISIS and even talking about using the heads of his victims as soccer balls and the atrocities he committed. He has a father of Canadian citizenship and wants to be returned to Canada, even though he has never lived here. Consular services are helping him with a passport application. It just does not make any sense at all.
I am proud of the record we had under the Conservative government. We committed our Canadian Armed Forces to help our allies fight against ISIS. We went over there. We put our CF-18s in the fight, bombing ISIS positions in Iraq and even in Syria. We put over 200 trainers on the ground to help the Kurdish peshmerga become better equipped. We gave them equipment plus training so they were more effective soldiers. We helped save lives and protected those vulnerable communities.
It was great that we were able to do that. We provided our surveillance aircraft, two CP-140 Auroras. We were not just providing targeting and looking for intelligence on the ground on where ISIS fighters were located, but we were there supporting our allies. We also had a Polaris refueller aircraft to help with the air attack.
Our air task force there has done great work. How did the Liberals treat the air task force? One of the very first things the Liberals did when they came to power was to pull our CF-18s out of the fight. Shame on the Liberals. Kurdish peshmerga, the Kurdish regional government, said that those planes helped save lives and helped ensure that not just Canadian troops on the ground were safe, but that the Kurdish peshmerga fighters were safe as well. We were destroying ISIS targets, ensuring it could not continue on in committing its atrocities. We completely eliminated its offensive capabilities.
Then the Liberal government took out one of our surveillance aircraft, cutting that by 50%. It brought one of our Auroras home. Adding insult to injury, the Liberals took away the danger pay for our air task force that was set up in Kuwait. Some of our guys on the ground there saw their pay cut between $1,500 and $1,800 a month, even though they were still in theatre. Even though they were part of Operation Impact, they were treated differently.
After Conservatives embarrassed the government, the Minister of National Defence had to climb down on that and reinstate that danger pay, bringing in a new policy. It was our Conservative government that stood up for our troops, for the people who were fighting ISIS.
We had many successes through that whole process, including having boots on the ground. We had snipers in theatre. We had special operations forces working. We trained over 1,100 Kurdish peshmerga.
The Liberals changed the mission. We have not had a briefing on the mission in over a year. We are going to receive one, finally, next month, but it is well long overdue. For a government that says that it is transparent, we should see more about this rather than waiting until the last minute, before the mission has expires in March 2019 and has to be renewed.
What it comes down is that we have people like Abu Huzaifa who is in Canada. He is a Canadian, he went abroad and enlisted with ISIS. He is 23 years old. We have not heard anything from the government about him being arrested. Abu Huzaifa was part of ISIS. He admitted to it on a New York Times podcast, called Caliphate, put out a few months ago. All of this is on the public record. He admitted to it in a CBC interview as well.
We do not see anything from the government about arresting these individuals. The Liberals always like to talk about how the Conservatives never arrested any of them either. We have to remember that the fight was going on. It was a hot conflict until the end of 2016 when everybody started coming home. We know that Abu Huzaifa did not even come back until the winter of 2016.
We expect better from the government. We are here to ensure we are acting on terrorism. A Conservative government will do just that to ensure Canadians are safe, that we act on protecting people who are vulnerable to genocide.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2018-10-02 10:18 [p.22077]
That, given Terri-Lynne McClintic was convicted of first-degree murder in the horrific abduction, rape and murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford, and was moved from a secure facility to a healing lodge without fences and where the government has confirmed the presence of children, the House condemn this decision and call upon the government to exercise its moral, legal and political authority to ensure this decision is reversed and cannot happen again in other cases.
She said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka.
April 8, 2009, began like any other school day for Tori Stafford, a grade 3 student at Oliver Stephens Public School. However, that is where this sweet little eight-year-old girl's normal, peaceful day ended. Tori was lured, kidnapped and later brutally murdered.
Tori's killers, Michael Rafferty and Terri-Lynne McClintic, were each found guilty of first-degree murder. In Canada, that means an automatic life sentence, 25 years without a chance of parole. It would seem that maybe justice was somewhat served for the Staffords and their family. Sadly, it is not what has turned out to be the case.
In recent days, we have learned that instead of serving her sentence behind bars, the prisoner, McClintic, has been transferred to a Saskatchewan healing lodge, a government-run lodge surrounded by trees, wildlife and children. There is no visible security. There is not even a fence. It is a no-brainer for all of us to know that is no place for a child killer. It is certainly no place for someone who committed the despicable acts Tori faced in her last hours.
The details of those acts have been recounted to the House. I want to take a moment and comment on the reaction of members of the government and the NDP when some of those details were recounted, because it goes to the point that not only we as Conservatives are making but that Canadians want us to face. The Prime Minister's reaction to hearing about what happened to Tori was to tell members of Parliament to essentially shut up and stop talking. Other members became visibly angry and upset and talked about decorum in the House. As if what happened to Tori, and whether or not it offends us, has anything to do with decorum. It is not about our feelings, our sensitivities being offended or about how we feel in this House.
What we need to talk about is justice for Tori's family. What happened to Tori was despicable and unbearable to hear, but this place is exactly where we need to face a harsh but needed reality. There are consequences of the decisions we make here in this place. Pretending these gruesome events did not happen and demanding that others shut up to avoid hearing them is the behaviour that led us exactly to where we are right now. It is that sort of behaviour that leads the public safety minister to describe the horrible acts committed against Tori Stafford as, “bad practices”. It is that sort of behaviour that desensitizes some into thinking a child murderer, with no possibility of legally seeing the outside world for at least 15 more years, should not be behind bars but should be a guest at a government lodge. It is that sort of behaviour that leads the Liberals to brush this shocking transfer off by organizing some sort of generic bureaucratic review. That is the behaviour that should be offensive to all of us, and what we need to address today.
It is said the worst fate a parent can endure is to have to bury his or her own child. To have to do so in the circumstances faced by the Stafford family is just unimaginable. It is why we can only imagine, and need to think long and hard about what the transfer of this prisoner has done to the Stafford family, as well as the effect it has had on them. It has revictimized the Stafford family. In fact, this past weekend, Tori's dad, Rodney Stafford, published an open letter to the Prime Minister. His words are utterly heart-wrenching. Mr. Stafford wrote:
I plead to you as a father & a proud Canadian citizen who, even after this traumatic experience, tries to live a normal tax paying life. I really have to question our Federal Government as to why convicted child murderers, such as Terri Lynne McClintic, deserve more rights than their victims & law abiding Canadians? I may not have grown up living a perfect life, but I grew up to learn that I love the country I live in and I know right from wrong!
The Prime Minister has tried to duck and weave on this issue this last week, pleading that this was all about politics. Rodney Stafford hit the nail on the head. He asked the Prime Minister, “Is this enough to remember that not all issues are political? Some are moral!”
That is what this issue is. Tori's dad is right, there is a moral imperative for action. There is a moral imperative for members of Parliament from all parties to stand up and demand better.
This is a situation that we need to reverse and one that we need to prevent from ever happening again. It is the sort of situation where immediate action is required to maintain Canadians' confidence in our justice system.
I had the honour to serve for more than two years as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of public safety. Our previous government showed how a government can take action. When things happen in situations, the government does have the power to reverse them. When tough cases were exposed when we were in government, we cried out for change. When it was uncovered that serial killer Clifford Olson was receiving OAS, our Conservative government passed legislation to stop him and other prisoners. There is the key. It was not just something directed specifically at Clifford Olson. It was a policy change that stopped him from getting OAS, but it also stopped other prisoners from getting OAS. It has been done before and it can be done again. We also passed legislation preventing prisoners from using their time behind bars to justify an extension of employment insurance benefits. Again, it was not changing policy directed at one individual inmate, but we saw that something had happened when we were government that needed to be reversed in our correctional system and so we immediately implemented a policy so that the specific person would not receive that benefit and nor would other prisoners in that situation. Therefore, the situation that confronts us today is one that the Liberal government and the Prime Minister possess the legal and the political authority to fix.
We are likely to hear about a legal opinion that mysteriously surfaced last week, claiming the Liberals just cannot do anything. I am sure the government lawyer who wrote that document is an upstanding person, but we do have to remember that at the end of the day, government lawyers serve their clients: their political masters in the justice minister's office and the Prime Minister's Office. Since when do government members abdicate their responsibility just because a lawyer told them that maybe they would have a bit of push-back on it? Especially with the current government, they sure seem to love to go to bat for every criminal there is, whether it is Omar Khadr, Chris Garnier or now McClintic. The Liberals sure do not seem to worry about fighting those fights. Therefore, why in the world would the Liberals not say, “We will take the chance that somebody might challenge us, but we see this wrong is done and so we will correct it.” It is that simple. It is not difficult.
There are a few provisions in the law that I want to highlight. The Corrections and Conditional Release Act does give authority to the government. We have already talked about subsection 6(1) of the act, which says that the commissioner of corrections works, “under the direction of the Minister”. Paragraph 96(d) of the act actually enables the Governor in Council, the cabinet, to make regulations governing the process of transferring offenders from one institution to another. Meanwhile, paragraph 96(z.6) allows the cabinet to adopt regulations concerning the security classification of inmates.
Therefore, there can be a policy crafted. It could be as simple as saying that someone serving a sentence for the murder of a child must not be transferred to any institution without perimeter security or where children are permitted to circulate. It is very simple. That could very easily be done. This is all we are asking the government to do.
We have not seen any outrage from the Liberals and we have not seen any action. In an interview last week, Tori's dad said, “...Terri-Lynne had been moved to Saskatchewan to this healing lodge and I was kind of blown away.... Every time things seem to start to get a bit better...something like this comes along, where you just lose faith.” Let us give the Stafford family some faith by reversing this injustice. Let us give Canadians confidence in their justice system. Let us send a strong and clear message with the vote on this motion. Let us stand up, every single one of us, and vote to ensure that anyone who takes the life of an innocent child like Tori Stafford faces the sentence that Canadians expect him or her to, which is behind bars.
We have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of real people. We know their names. We know the situation they face. We know the horrific acts that happened. We very seldom have the opportunity to affect individual people's lives like we do today. Therefore, I implore this House and I implore the government members to show their displeasure, show their outrage, but, more important, act and implement policy to reverse this decision and make sure something like this never happens again.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2018-09-25 16:45 [p.21825]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola.
I thank the official opposition critic for veterans affairs, the member for Brantford—Brant, for his motion today. It is disappointing that I even have to rise in this place today to speak to the despicable situation the government has put itself in. It was so disappointing when the Minister of Veterans Affairs found out that a convicted murderer, Chris Garnier, who is not a veteran, was receiving benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada for PTSD, which he has experienced because he killed police officer Catherine Campbell. It is benefit he should never be entitled because of his heinous crimes.
We have to remember that this individual, Christopher Garnier, picked up Catherine Campbell off duty, took her back to his apartment, broke her nose, strangled her, desecrated her body by treating it like garbage and dumped it underneath the Macdonald Bridge in Halifax.
Catherine Campbell was not just an outstanding police officer, but also a volunteer firefighter. I extend my condolences to her family. I hope that with this whole situation, they not have been revictimized by the actions of Veterans Affairs in extending benefits to the killer of their daughter, benefits he is not entitled to. That, to me, is very disgusting.
This whole debate today is disgusting. It is disgusting because of this vicious act of murder by Garnier. I am disgusted by a policy decision that may have been made erroneously by Veterans Affairs Canada. I am disgusted by the shameful behaviour of the Minister of Veterans Affairs. He comes in here every day full of pompous bravado, pounds his chest and rails against the opposition, but refuses to do anything to help our veterans and is allowing this murderer to be ahead of veterans in the line for services for things like PTSD. That is a lack of leadership, and I am disgusted by it. All of the veterans who have contacted us as members of Parliament are disgusted by the behaviour of the government and the failure of leadership by the Prime Minister in not interceding, correcting the behaviour of the Minister of Veterans Affairs and making sure these services are rescinded.
Let us look at the facts, because we are hearing all sorts of rhetoric from the Liberal benches. Christopher Garnier is not a veteran. He is 30 years old. He has never put on a uniform and there is no way he is entitled to any benefits from Veterans Affairs. The Liberals are claiming privacy because of his father, who was a veteran. However, let us be clear that these types of services are allowed for the dependant children and spouses of veterans, and they are still waiting in line while this non-dependant, 30-year-old adult is getting benefits that other families' loved ones should be receiving right now to deal with PTSD and operational stress injuries.
The fact is, if we look at the court case, as well as what has been reported in the media, Chris Garnier's father, Chris Garnier's lawyer, and Chris Garnier's psychologist all admitted in court and to the press that his PTSD is a direct result of his murder of Catherine Campbell. His PTSD is guilt and remorse for the vicious attack and the way he desecrated the body of his victim. He should never ever qualify for a Veterans Affairs benefit.
We need to keep in mind that Correctional Service Canada offers mental health and counselling services to all those who are incarcerated. There is no reason why Veterans Affairs Canada should ever feel it needs to provide service to anyone who is incarcerated. It has every opportunity to provide those services through other government agencies, and Correctional Service Canada has those services readily available to convicts right across the country.
We heard during question period, while we were hammering away at the Minister of Veterans Affairs for his ridiculous answers and shameful behaviour and his disrespect toward veterans, especially the family of Catherine Campbell, that the Liberals were going to rescind this policy. However, if we look at the details of what was announced, they are trying to provide cover for the minister, who still refuses to rescind the benefits of Christopher Garnier.
Throughout question period, we heard the Minister of Veterans Affairs hide behind privacy and say over and over again that he is going to stand by our veterans. First, Christopher Garnier is not a veteran. He should never receive veterans benefits. No adult child of a veteran gets any benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada. If the minister is so convinced that he needs to stand by our veterans, what would he do in the case of former Colonel Russell Williams, who was a serial killer? When we were in government and found that out, we rescinded all of his veterans benefits and his veterans pension, because he should not be entitled to any of those as an incarcerated serial killer. Therefore, how can the minister today stand in this place and say that he will stand by any veteran, despite any heinous crime they commit, when the precedent was set by our former Conservative government that we would not provide benefits to someone like Russell Williams, a former colonel in the air force?
The minister talks about standing by our veterans. Well, Sean Bruyea is suing the minister for defamation of character. That is how the minister acts. He stands by everyone, but look how he is treating Vice-Admiral Mark Norman. It is his government that is taking him to court for something he never did.
We keep hearing from the Liberal benches. We hear from the members for Winnipeg Centre and Winnipeg North. They get up and talk about all of the things they are doing. However, let us look at the real metrics of what the Liberals have done for veterans. Wait times under the Liberals have gone up from 16 weeks to seven months. Veterans are waiting longer under the Liberal government to get the benefits they are entitled to.
We just heard announced this past week that veterans are now going to be denied service dogs for PTSD, despite all of the research showing a significant reduction in PTSD symptoms among our veterans from those dogs. What is Veterans Affairs doing under the minister? It is going to take away this great animal husbandry program that provided companionship for veterans and reduced the impact of their PTSD and other operational stress injuries. Also, even though the Prime Minister promised he would not take veterans back to court, it was this minister who actually beat veterans in court with the Equitas lawsuit. What a great track record we have here.
Of course, the Liberals have cut $372 million in veterans benefits as a result of lapsed funding over their three-year tenure. I guess when the Prime Minister stood in Edmonton and told a veteran right to his face in a town hall meeting that he was “asking for more than we are able to give”, it proves the point that they had the money. They just do not want to spend it on our veterans.
The benefits program is just a shell game. It is not a pension for life. It is just a bunch of programs they put together and tried to reinvent the wheel with.
In closing, if there are any members on the Liberal bench who want to stand up for our veterans, rather than stand for their Minister of Veterans Affairs, they should stand tonight and vote yes for this motion and ensure that we stop and rescind all of the policies and programs that are being offered to Christopher Garnier.
View Larry Maguire Profile
View Larry Maguire Profile
2018-06-12 22:21 [p.20799]
Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to stand this evening to debate Bill C-69. I would like to say a number of things at the outset. The most obvious one is that the Liberals broke their promise with the bill. It has nothing to do with the wording of the bill and everything to do with the size of it.
First, the government said it would not have omnibus legislation and, as my colleagues mentioned earlier this evening, this is a 370-page bill. It cannot be put in any other context than it is an omnibus bill.
The second broken promise is that the bill is not very environmentally supportive by its very voluminous weight. It could have helped, in spite of its size, if it really would improve our environment, but this bill fails to do that.
A number of things have been said about the bill this evening and I will come back to those. However, a whole host of events has taken place around the rhetoric the government has put in this bill. The Liberals talk about trying to improve the environment, to create more jobs, and to improve those jobs, but they have ended up killing two pipelines already. One was the northern gateway pipeline across northern British Columbia to get oil in Alberta over to the west coast. The other one was the eastern access line to move oil to the New Brunswick area for refining purposes in that part of Canada.
Before I elaborate on that, I should inform the House that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Edmonton West. I know he will have much to say about the situation taking place in Alberta.
My perspective comes from the small amount of oil in southwest Manitoba, which happens to all be in my constituency. This is a very important issue to the communities, maybe not to Winnipeg as much, though it is impacted because a lot of income comes out of that area from this oil, and to the people who live in those communities and on the farms in that region as well. A great deal of work is being done by the oil industry in the southwest region, from trucking to the building of lines to the building of batteries to the moving oil from the wells to the batteries to the tracks to the loading facilities. We also have a major pipeline running right through the middle of my constituency, which moves the oil east and down through the United States.
There are thousands of jobs in my little southwest corner of Manitoba because of this industry. That is why it is so important to have certainty in this industry. It impacts the lives of individuals on farms as well. I went through the downturn in the farm economy, particularly BSE in 2003, droughts in 2003, and flooding in 2005, 2011, and 2014. Therefore, off-farm jobs in the oil industry have been a stabilizing factor in many of the family operations in southwest Manitoba.
It is pretty important to ensure there are sound rules so investors in the economy, not just in my area but more particularly in Alberta, Saskatchewan and, to a certain extent in Newfoundland, have the assurance they can make investments and know they will get returns from those investments.
I will refer to my colleague from Carleton when this debate started. He had a good economics lesson, I thought it was Economics 101, about whether the government learned anything from the lesson he was trying to teach about how important it was to have a sound investment process. We know that comes with great difficulty in Canada right now, and there is a lot of concern about it. As he pointed out, and as we all know, the country's debt is three times higher than it was supposed to be this year.
One thing I did not know, and it is worth repeating, is there are overpayments in Ontario's hydro of $176 billion over the last 30 years. That is a tremendous amount of money, when we consider that is a quarter of Canada's debt. The other number we need to bear in mind is that we have already lost $88 billion worth of investment in our oil industry. It has moved out of the country. It has gone south, as my colleague from Calgary Shepard just indicated. Thousands of jobs have gone south, 101,000 jobs in Alberta alone.
There is a little more drilling going on right now in our area of southwest Manitoba, but the bill would not help that economy survive. Bill C-69, this omnibus legislation, and the amount of regulations in it would not make it easier to grow our economy, which puts people to work.
I was the environment critic for seven of the 14 years I was in the Manitoba legislature. I want to put a few things into perspective. When we look at a situation where infrastructure and investment is required, the government always talks about how we can have both, the economy and the environment. That is not new. It is certainly not foreign to anybody in the House or to any Canadian for that matter.
This is about ensuring that Canadians know that the environment and the economy have gone hand in hand probably since oil was found in Canada in the late 1940s, early 1950s. Anyone who does not abide by those rules of trying to ensure the environment is kept as pristine as we possibly can is not paying attention. My colleagues have already stated tonight that we have the cleanest rules for dealing with environmental packages of anywhere in the world, particularly in our oil industry.
Rules have been brought, and not just in Bill C-69 or Bill C-68, the Fisheries Act. We know full that the efforts in Bill C-69 will not help the economy in any way. They certainly will not make jobs.
As I said, I was asked to become the environment shadow minister in Manitoba when I was first elected in 1999. It was either conservation or the environment. As the representative for Arthur-Virden, the constituency receives water from all of eastern Saskatchewan, southeastern Saskatchewan as well as northeastern Saskatchewan, and all of it comes into the Souris River, coming down the Assiniboine, and even through the Qu'Appelle in central Saskatchewan.
We know the impacts of what the environment can do to our province. The current provincial government is spending its infrastructure dollars rather responsibly. It is using them to protect cities like Brandon and Winnipeg particularly, Portage la Prairie, and the shorelines of Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. This is responsible management. Why? It is because the provincial government is spending the money on infrastructure to prevent flooding, instead of paying billions out after the fact in flood damages and devastation.
The Liberals need to heed that example and respect investments, instead of killing investment opportunities like the eastern access and northern gateway. These are important issues.
I could go on about a lot of other shortfalls in the bill. Changes to the National Energy Board is just one of them. It may have needed tweaking, but the government decided it knew best and threw out the baby with the bathwater.
My colleague, the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa, certainly has more experience, having a master's in biology, and he has certainly hit the nail on the head with respect to the Fisheries Act and Bill C-68. I have spoken to him about this bill as well.
I just want to wrap up by saying that I will not be supporting Bill C-69 for a number of reasons outlined, particularly by my colleague from Abbotsford today, as well—
View Ted Falk Profile
View Ted Falk Profile
2018-04-24 16:54 [p.18712]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Barrie—Innisfil.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this motion which has been brought forward today by the member for Calgary Nose Hill. I want to thank her for her excellent work on the matter of illegal border crossings. She has been a strong voice in holding the Prime Minister and his Liberal government to account for their shortcomings on this file. In fact, she has been one of the strongest defenders of Canadians living along the Canada-U.S. border, not only calling for the integrity of our borders to be maintained, but also calling out the Prime Minister for his irresponsible and reckless actions which have misled and continue to mislead thousands of would-be migrants to Canada to enter illegally. The member has shown a commitment to addressing this issue constructively and yet compassionately. All the while, the Liberal government has failed to show any leadership on this file at all.
Indeed this is an issue that has been on the Liberal government's radar for over a year. It was February 2017 when I first raised the issue of illegal border crossings here in this place. I mentioned the situation that was developing in and around the community of Emerson, Manitoba, a part of Provencher that I represent, and a number of communities along the Canada-U.S. border. Therefore, I know first-hand how illegal border crossings have been impacting the folks who call these communities home. They are on the front lines. I have raised the issue many times since then, including alongside the official opposition shadow minister for immigration, the member for Calgary Nose Hill, and invited the Prime Minister to visit Emerson to see the situation for himself. The Liberals have taken no action to step in, and our invitation has gone without response.
While the Liberal government may not be stepping up, the people of Emerson sure have been, and they have gone above and beyond to assist with the influx of illegal migrants. Their efforts should be commended, right from Reeve Greg Janzen to the first responders to the people who have been inconvenienced by having individuals who have crossed the border illegally show up on their doorstep in the middle of the night. It has also been great to see organizations such as the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council and the United Way offer their support to these communities. The trouble is that this support, while welcome and essential, does nothing to resolve the issue of illegal crossings. For that solution, we must look to the government, yet while so much time has passed since I first brought these concerns to this House and the attention of the Liberal government, it has failed to take any measurable action to address the crisis at our borders, and it is a crisis.
Canada has a world-class immigration and refugee system, but our system is being undermined by a government that prefers virtue-signalling over sound policy decisions. I will flesh it out in a bit more detail, but for now I want to share about the new reality that residents of Emerson have described to me. Some have been woken up, as I said previously, in the middle of the night with strangers banging on their doors. Others have walked out into their garages in the morning to find that folks have slept there overnight. Parents refrain from letting their children play outside without supervision.
This is not an indictment on many of the illegal migrants, some of whom do not pose a threat to local residents. However, the reality is that they are unknowns when no proper entry process has been followed, and residents must adjust their behaviour accordingly. Without the knowledge that those entering our country have proceeded through proper channels, people are rightly concerned about the possibility of someone having a criminal history appearing on their doorstep. An orderly system managed responsibly by the government does not have these problems, but even the best system would not produce the desired results without proper leadership from the government.
Sadly, the Liberal government has not been a good steward of our immigration system. For one thing, the Liberals have failed to maintain order at our border. One of the most important responsibilities of any government is to keep Canadians safe. In order to maintain any semblance of security, Canada's borders have to mean something. Under the Liberal government, our borders have become meaningless. Canadians expect our immigration system to operate in an orderly fashion. They expect a system that is fair and safe for those proceeding through it. These expectations are reasonable, but when Canadians see individuals crossing the border at unofficial ports of entry, and we are talking about thousands of people every year, they do not see a system that is functioning as it should.
Let me be clear. This is no fault of the brave men and women serving Canada at our border through the Canada Border Services Agency or our Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This is about a Prime Minister whose virtue-signalling has created serious problems where previously very few existed. It was January 2017 when the Prime Minister tweeted out the following message: “To those fleeing persecution, terror, and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength. #WelcomeToCanada.”
There is nothing wrong with welcoming those facing persecution in war to our country. Canada is, without a doubt, a beacon of peace and freedom and hope in a world ravaged by war and conflict, but as the Prime Minister of Canada, he has to consider how his words will be received around the world. Context does matter. The fact is this tweet created a great deal of confusion in Canada and across the globe and led to a flood of refugee claims.
Many in the media have pointed out just how misleading these claims are. For example, in April 2017, in a piece for the CBC, Graham Gordon wrote:
Anyone with the smallest bit of knowledge about the immigration process understands that Canada's doors are anything but wide open, but [the Prime Minister] isn't just blatantly spreading falsehoods by sending that message — he's actually enticing people to uproot their lives, throwing another wrench into an already chaotic immigration system, all based on disingenuous messaging.
He is exactly right. When the Prime Minister places virtue-signalling above good public policy, there are real world consequences. For example, last year we received the tragic news of a woman who Minnesota authorities said died while attempting to cross the border illegally. This is something I expressed concern about in the months leading up to this tragic loss, that individuals are choosing to enter Canada illegally and dangerously because of the Prime Minister's misleading rhetoric. While this was the first known instance of loss of life related to an illegal border crossing, we know that others have endured physical consequences as well.
To ensure the safety of all individuals looking to come to Canada, we must do all that we can to promote safe, legal entry. Many Canadians, including myself, want a Canada that helps those fleeing war, violence, and persecution, but in light of the dramatic increase in illegal border crossings, the Prime Minister had to know that the messages which he shared covered the world and would lead to many would-be immigrants believing that Canada's border is just a suggestion.
As the National Post reported on April 3, border immigration and embassy officials faced an influx of inquiries about coming to Canada following the Prime Minister's tweet. For example, an email from Canada's embassy in Mexico obtained through an access to information request reads, “We are receiving an increasing number of enquiries from the public about requesting refugee status in Canada, and a number clearly having links with our Prime Minister’s tweet this weekend.”
I will wrap up my speech for now, but there is much more I could say. However, I would like to say that the Prime Minister's actions on this file have been irresponsible and reckless. We would ask that he encourage his Liberal caucus to support the motion that is before us today.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2018-03-28 15:58 [p.18216]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to speak to Bill C-71. I will note that I will be sharing my time with the member for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner.
I am going to be very clear. I will not be supporting Bill C-71, and I will tell the House why. There are three basic reasons, although there is a whole list. I could probably give the House the top 10, but there are more reasons than that.
First of all, the Liberals cannot be trusted when it comes to firearms legislation that would do anything to get firearms out of the hands of criminals while at the same time protecting and respecting law-abiding Canadians. The Liberals cannot be trusted.
There is a statement we have all seen that is true, and that is that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. What have we seen from the Liberals when it comes to gun legislation? We all know about the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry that was introduced by the Liberals. They defended and supported it. It cost $3 billion. It penalized and made criminals out of law-abiding Canadians.
That was the very first thing the Liberals did when they had a chance to do something to combat crime. Now they are back at it. They told Canadians that they were going to introduce a bill on firearms legislation.
The Liberals are having a lot of trouble right now around the disastrous India trip. They are having a lot of trouble because they are breaking promises. The Prime Minister is failing Canadians with his ethical lapses, so the Liberals had a brainwave and decided to go after law-abiding gun owners again; that would work.
As I said, the Liberals cannot be trusted. Gun owners know and Canadians know that the Liberals are going after them instead of going after the people who are actually committing crimes.
In 2009, I was a new member of Parliament, and I introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-391, which would have ended the wasteful and ineffective long-gun registry. There were a whole lot of Liberal MPs who had told their constituents that they would vote to end the long-gun registry, and the first chance they had to fulfill their word, they did what Liberals do. They broke their promise, which would result in law-abiding Canadians being penalized. I want to remind the House of some of those members who broke their word and are here in this Parliament and will have to answer to their constituents.
For example, the member for Yukon broke his word to protect law-abiding Canadians. He supported the long-gun registry. The next one on the list I will not name. The third one is the member of Parliament for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame. He, as well, had an opportunity to support law-abiding Canadians. What did he do? He supported the long-gun registry. The member for Malpeque promised his constituents that he would vote to end the long-gun registry. What did he do? He supported the long-gun registry. The Minister of Public Safety himself, when he was part of the opposition, had a chance to end the long-gun registry. He voted for it and supported it.
One might ask why I am bringing this up now. As I said, the Liberals cannot be trusted. They want to target law-abiding Canadians, because it is easy. It is very easy to target people who are already obeying the law, people who get a license to own a firearm or store owners who already keep records. What easy targets for the Liberals. It is so easy to go after people, under the guise of doing something to combat gun crime, who are already following best practice and already obeying the law.
First and foremost, I do not trust the Liberals. I do not trust them on ethics. I do not trust them on balancing the budget. I do not trust them on keeping their word. I do not trust them when it comes to any kind of gun legislation that would do anything to penalize criminals.
Let us remember, the Liberals actually like to protect and reward criminals. It is quite interesting that we have returning terrorists who have been fighting with ISIS who are being protected. They are being told, “We believe in you. We think you can be rehabilitated.” There is no legislation coming for ISIS terrorists who return to Canada. They will get a nice little group hug and probably more money. However, for gun owners and stores that sell firearms, like Canadian Tire, the government is coming after them.
People who have fought against our allies, like Omar Khadr, get a big payout. The Liberals had no problem just laying that down. Everything Omar wanted, he got. However, they are not standing up for gun owners. It is a whole lot of talk. The only people who actually get protection with the Liberal government are criminals. Therefore, I do not trust them.
I want to talk about the actual substance of Bill C-71, which is the same old, same old. There is nothing here that will protect anyone or do anything to fight crime.
Let us talk about the part of the legislation that will ask store owners to keep records. They are already keeping records. This is like a solution in search of a problem. Crimes are not being committed by people who are legally purchasing firearms. I will provide the statistics on that:
Analysis of a Special Request to Statistics Canada found that between 1997 and 2012, just 7% of the accused in firearms homicides had a valid firearms license (or 2% of all accused murderers).
A person in this country who has a licence to own a firearm is 50% less likely to ever commit a crime with a firearm. It is not like we have some big outbreak of people buying firearms at Canadian Tire and using those firearms in the commission of crimes, and Canadian Tire is saying to the police that it will not give them that information. That is not happening. That is not a problem that needs to be fixed.
I will tell members what is happening. I am going to refer to John Tory, the mayor of the city of Toronto. He noted that only 2% of gun homicide victims in Toronto had no connection to either gangs or drugs and that 98% of the crime that is going on has to do with gangs and drugs. That is where the problem is, and that is what needs to be addressed.
As I mentioned in my question earlier on, this bill does not even mention the words “gangs” or “organized crime”. However, it does mention words the Liberals love, like “registry” and “reference number”, which is their new one, 26 times.
Let us be clear. As per the normal Liberal way of doing things, this is getting ready to create a backdoor registry, which will then very easily turn into the regular, wasteful, and ineffective type of registry the Liberals like to promote.
Some of my colleagues mentioned some of the areas where gangs are getting guns. Let us talk about this seriously. We need to get tough on gangs and on violent crime. When we were in government, there were a lot of things we did. We had the Tackling Violent Crime Act. It provided mandatory prison sentences for serious firearms offences and stricter bail provisions for those accused of serious offences involving firearms. It tackled the problem and did not go after law-abiding gun owners and store owners.
We passed the Act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to organized crime and the protection of justice system participants, which provides police officers and officials with important tools to help them fight organized crime.
Conservatives are the party of law and order. We believe that criminals and people who use guns in the commission of crimes should know that the penalty will be swift and just. We do not believe in attacking law-abiding Canadians who are using firearms for legitimate purposes, nor the store owners who are legally, and in a principled way, selling those firearms.
Because of all their failures and the problems they have encountered over the last number of months, the Liberals are trying to import a problem that is occurring in the U.S. The U.S. gun control situation is completely different from Canadian gun legislation. However, they are trying to bring that here and somehow say that they are fixing a problem that actually exists in the U.S. It is window dressing. It is disingenuous. It is the typical Liberals saying one thing and doing something completely different. It is bad legislation, and it should be revoked.
View Ted Falk Profile
View Ted Falk Profile
2018-03-01 16:08 [p.17558]
Mr. Speaker, before I begin I want to indicate that I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Albert—Edmonton.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to my colleagues this afternoon about the motion. I want to thank the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London for bringing this very important matter forward in the way of a motion and as something we can discuss here in the House.
We are talking today about the change that the Liberals have made to the application process for the Canada summer jobs program. We know that the Canada summer jobs program is a valuable program for numerous organizations all across the country. It provides funding to assist employers, including not-for-profits, that create summer job opportunities for full-time students. There certainly does not need to be anything controversial about a summer jobs program. It is a win-win situation. Students benefit by getting valuable employment and work experience. Communities benefit from the important services provided by these organizations, but with the Liberal government, nothing is sacred.
In the dying days of 2017, the Liberals quietly introduced their new values test requirement for the Canada summer jobs program. When I first learned of this new requirement, I could not believe that the government, even a Liberal government, would demand that the people who serve our communities agree with its Liberal values in order to receive funding. There was no consultation process. There was no public feedback requested. Instead, the Liberals unilaterally decided that only the individuals and organizations who agreed with their prescribed set of values would be worthy of receiving the Canada summer jobs funding. This is just wrong.
Canadians know it. My office has been inundated with emails, letters, and phone calls from concerned Canadians. Many of the calls came from organizations in my riding that have taken advantage of the Canada summer jobs program to hire students for the summer to work in their various organizations. Impacted organizations include day cares, summer camps, small businesses, and municipalities. Each of these organizations read the attestation and felt that to sign it, to agree with the Liberal Party's dogma on certain issues, was an affront to the Charter of Rights. They felt that they would be compromising their beliefs if they signed it.
I know Liberal members have indicated confusion on this point. Why will Canadians not just sign the attestations? They have told these Canadians to hold their noses and sign it. After all, the supplementary information that was provided by the Liberal government after the swift negative response from Canadians was supposedly meant to clarify what was meant by the wording of the attestation, but the Liberals just do not get it. The Liberals' understanding of tolerance is so narrow that they cannot wrap their heads around the thought that there are Canadians who actually might have different beliefs and values than those of the Liberal Party. The Liberals can only tolerate those opinions, those beliefs, those values that agree with theirs. If people do not agree with them, they are no longer eligible to receive funding for a summer student.
Speaking of Canada's success, the Prime Minister stated the following:
But what’s made it work so well in Canada is the understanding that our diversity isn’t a challenge to be overcome or a difficulty to be tolerated.
Rather, it’s a tremendous source of strength.
However, here we are. The man himself contradicting his famous quote. Why? Because in the Prime Minister's world he thinks he holds the monopoly on what constitutes acceptable diversity. While he may talk a lot about respecting diversity, his actions tell another story. That is the real problem going forward.
It is important to understand that this change represents a marked departure from past practices in this country. Requiring Canadians to agree with a political party's values as a condition of eligibility for grant monies is not how government funding decisions are made. Despite the good work so many organizations do in our communities, caring for the disabled, refugees, providing day camps for children in need, assisting vulnerable youth at risk, providing shelter for abused women and children, providing food for those who are hungry, and also providing shelter for those who are homeless, their applications may be rejected simply for holding beliefs different from those of the people in power.
I received an email from a constituent, Sharon, who said that the fact that employers will now be required to attest that both the job and the organization's core mandate respect certain values, as determined by the federal government, struck her as seriously violating our guaranteed freedoms of religion, thought, belief, opinion, and association offered by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially the provisions under section 2. She said that this affected her and upset her. She thought she lived in a democracy where diversity and a mosaic culture were encouraged. She said she did not think she was part of a government-dictated cookie-cutter world. She said that she does not always agree with everyone else's point of view, but she understands that they have a right to their opinions, just as she thought she did.
It is not just people like Sharon who have voiced their concerns. Community organizations from right across the country have been facing a loss of funding that they have relied on for years through the Canada summer jobs program. This is a direct result of the Liberal government's ideological bullying.
Take for example Bridgepark Manor, a not-for-profit organization that offers seniors' and retirement housing in my riding. Bridgepark applied for Canada summer jobs funding, approximately $16,000, in order to hire two students to work full time over the summer holidays. The students would have been working in the food services area, gaining valuable skills, serving meals to the seniors at the residence.
As a result of the Liberals values test, the CEO and the board faced an impossible choice: either compromise their values or be denied funding. As a result of the organization making alterations on the application to the attestation, the reply that it received back from the government was that its claim would be rejected. There are now two more students in my riding who will not have an opportunity that would have otherwise been presented.
Here is another example. A community organization responsible for the annual agriculture fair in one of the communities in my riding has used the Canada summer jobs program in the past to hire a summer student. The job requirements include preparing and maintaining the fairgrounds, tasks like painting, lawn mowing, and weed trimming, but it too cannot agree with the Liberals values test. This is yet another job lost.
There are more examples. Catherine, a summer camp director wrote that she rejects this statement on the grounds of her rights to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, expression, and association guaranteed in section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. She says that as a Christian organization that deeply values human rights, they will not betray their beliefs or conscience.
Josie, a recreation director with a municipal organization, wrote that without the help of the Canada summer jobs program, her organization's ability to offer programs and services will be severely diminished. She said she believed they were being denied equal access to a government benefit because of their organizational and personal beliefs, and that this violates the charter, which guarantees freedom of religion, thought, belief, and opinion.
I have another one. An arts organization in my riding, of all things, wrote that while they continued to affirm their intention as an association to support rights and freedoms, they protested the attestation requirement of the funding application that divided us along political lines.
The truth of the matter is that this policy is not about the activities or services an organization is engaged in. It is about targeting the personal beliefs of the individuals who run those organizations. That is shameful.
I have heard some Liberals in the House today say that they have taken a brave or bold step by introducing this values test. There is nothing brave about the Liberal Party using the powers of government to suppress views that are different from their own. The real heroes of this story are the many individuals and organizations who, when faced with this kind of discrimination by their own government, chose to stay true to their values. Even though they had nothing to gain and everything to lose, they were willing to take a stand for what they believed in.
I am reminded of the words of former Conservative prime minister John G. Diefenbaker, delivered in a speech in 1960:
I am a Canadian, a free Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship God in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, free to choose those who govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
Diefenbaker was in the midst of pursuing landmark legislation, the Canadian Bill of Rights, a bill introduced to guarantee civil rights for all Canadians, a bold vision for a Canada that respected the rights of individuals, and it was the reason his Conservative government extended the vote to indigenous Canadians, nominated the first indigenous senator, and appointed Canada's first female cabinet minister.
As a pluralistic society, Canada allows for diverse opinions and protects those who may think and believe differently. It was the strong foundation laid by that original bill of rights that paved the way for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, and freedom of opinion and expression for all Canadians.
In fact, the charter was designed to protect citizens from the government, not the government from them. The Liberals have acted in defiance of that heritage, arrogantly deeming the party's political values above the rights of Canadians outlined in these documents.
I call on the Prime Minister to rescind this shameful attestation requirement for the Canada summer jobs program. I call on the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to rescind this shameful application. I call on the members of the Liberal Party to do the right thing, to respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and to vote to rescind this awful attestation.
View James Bezan Profile
View James Bezan Profile
2018-02-15 15:43 [p.17304]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my friend, the member for Yorkton—Melville.
This is an important debate today. First and foremost, let us honour our veterans, those who have gone out there and served, who fought, and made sure we are safe here at home. They have made major sacrifices on behalf of themselves and their families. It is important that not only do we honour and respect them but that we share the covenant and sacred obligation to support them.
As Conservatives we believe in that, to the letter, unlike the government. The reason we are having this debate today is because of some very insensitive comments made by the Prime Minister in a town hall just recently. However, this started before the Prime Minister was in Edmonton, and said there was no more to give.
This started when the Prime Minister broke his promise that he would no longer force veterans to fight their own government for the support and compensation that they have earned.
When we look at the promise that was made back on August 24, 2015, which is in the motion that we are debating here today, and look at what the government did, not only by taking the Equitas group of veterans back to court, we have to look at the arguments it made.
In paragraph 99 of the submission, the government says to the defendants, meaning Equitas, the veterans, that there is no written, defined, or articulated social covenant or social contract between members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the government, and people of Canada, which has those attributes.
Despite the rhetoric that has been coming from the Liberals, their argument has been that there is no social contract or social covenant. They actually say it again, that at no time in Canada's history has any alleged social contract or social covenant had the attributes pleaded by the plaintiffs, the veterans, been given effect in any statute, regulation, or as a constitutional principle, written or unwritten.
Again, the Liberals are arguing that no principles exist, there is no certainty, there is no clarity, and that the Government of Canada has no obligation to our veterans. That is really disappointing.
I have met with some people of the Equitas lawsuit, including Aaron Bedard who does Veteran Guerrilla Radio on Facebook. These are veterans who have been fighting the government. These are veterans we had a handshake agreement with under the former minister of veterans affairs, the member of Parliament for Durham, our friend and colleague.
We were moving forward as a government to fix that. The Prime Minister said quite clearly in the election campaign that veterans would not have to fight the government in court, but then Liberals turned around and betrayed veterans who went out and campaigned for them, working on their behalf. The Liberals betrayed them by not honouring that promise.
It was a broken Liberal promise, and veterans are back in court.
The next broken promise was when the Liberals said that veterans were going to have a lifetime pension. The member for Winnipeg North was just saying that Liberals gave them a lifetime pension. He is not listening to what veterans are actually saying, because veterans feel betrayed by the Liberal program that was announced.
Don Sorochan, lead counsel for the Equitas Society, said:
The position taken by the government was astonishing. For them to stand up and say we don't have any special obligation to veterans was completely contrary to everything they had been saying in Parliament, on the election campaign.
Mark Campbell, who is part of the Equitas group, said:
The new pension for life is nothing more than a shell game.
Sean Bruyea, who is a veteran and veterans advocate, said on CBC:
Instead, the government merely resurrected ghosts of Christmases past with a hodgepodge of benefits that amount to recycled, remodeled, and repackaged programs that already exist.
There is no new money here, and any new money that the Liberals are talking about is actually down the road, past 2019, past the next federal election. There is actually no cash in the bank for veterans today. That is why veterans were on the front lawn protesting the government for betraying them and breaking the promise about not having to take them back to court, and betraying them and breaking the promise about having a true pension for life.
We just heard the member for Winnipeg North, and we hear the Minister of Veterans Affairs stand up in question period. The Minister of Veterans Affairs gets up here with his bravado, chest-thumping, and Liberal arrogance. I can tell members that veterans are insulted when he performs that way. It is not showing respect for our veterans. It is not honouring their service, and they feel they have been used as political pawns, as many members on the other side have with veterans when they stood behind the Prime Minister, and made promises for lifetime pensions, and when they made promises to actually keep veterans out of court. This is just completely disrespectful.
We can look at what the Prime Minister actually said in Edmonton when he was asked by a veteran, an amputee, why we were still fighting against certain veterans groups in court. The Prime Minister responded, “Because they're asking for more than we are able to give.” Of course, there were boos and shouts. Even the Royal Canadian Legion, which usually does not get involved in political statements, said, “These sorts of words are extremely insensitive.” Again, it is another betrayal that we have a Prime Minister who says that there is no money, and there is no sacred obligation in the court case.
However, there was an opportunity just last night when my colleague, the member for Barrie—Innisfil, came forward with Bill C-378, which would restore fairness principles and the sacred obligation, and to actually put that into statute law. Every single Liberal stood and voted against the recognition of the sacred obligation that the government has to our veterans. I am disgusted by that.
The Prime Minister says that it is more than we can give. I can tell members that the Liberals had no problem finding $2.6 billion to help developing countries fight climate change. That money could have been used here to actually enhance spending for veterans. Just earlier this week, we learned that the Liberal government announced $59.5 million to Burkina Faso for education efforts there. Why are we not spending that on our veterans? The Prime Minister says that it is more than we are able to give, I guess, to our veterans.
Our veterans are out protesting on the front lawn right next to a $8.1 million temporary skating rink. That could have been used to support our veterans. There is the $10.5 million payout to Omar Khadr, a convicted terrorist who was prepared to kill our veterans who were serving in Afghanistan. Let us not forget the reintegration of returning ISIS terrorists to Canada. There are federal dollars for that, and the $500 million to the Chinese-Asia infrastructure bank.
This is not the only time the Liberals have taken our veterans to court. We just learned last week that they are also taking the Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans who have faced sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, while they served in the Canadian Armed Forces, to court from a class action lawsuit. In its argument, the Government of Canada said that it does not “owe a private law duty of care to individual members within the Canadian Armed Forces to provide a safe and harassment-free work environment, or to create policies to prevent sexual harassment or sexual assault.”
The Prime Minister said he did not know about it, but that just shows he is incompetent. This actually undermines the Chief of the Defence Staff General Vance's Operation Honour where he wants to encourage victims of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct to come forward and report. Meanwhile, we have the government actually taking those veterans back to court with the class action lawsuit against the government.
It is amazing that all the litigation that the Government of Canada undertakes actually goes through a cabinet committee on litigation management, which is chaired by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and actually five out of seven members are women. The vice-chair is the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, who used to be the minister of status of women, and the Attorney General sits on that special cabinet committee on litigation management. Therefore, the Liberals knew about it, and let it go forward, which points out the hypocrisy they have. If it is not hypocritical, then they are incompetent for allowing this to go forward.
To summarize, when it comes down to restoring lifetime pensions as promised by the Prime Minister, he broke that promise. When it comes down to veterans being forced to take their government to court, the Prime Minister broke that promise. When it comes to making life easier for veterans, he broke that promise.
It is time for the Liberals to honour those election promises, and apologize for the way they are treating our veterans in Canada.
View Ted Falk Profile
View Ted Falk Profile
2018-01-29 17:47 [p.16477]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, the shadow minister for employment, workforce development and labour.
I am pleased to take this opportunity to speak to Bill C-65, which amends the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1. I would like to state right from the start that I look forward to supporting the bill so as to ensure it is sent to committee for further study.
The broad themes addressed in Bill C-65 are very important, particularly in light of the recent reports that we received related to sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, both on Parliament Hill and elsewhere. It is necessary to ensure that whether in this place or anywhere in Canadian society sexual misconduct and harassment are not tolerated.
Unfortunately, we have a systemic problem in our culture where we spend so much time on rights and freedoms and not enough time on obligations and responsibilities to create safe, healthy, non-toxic workplaces. It needs to be a priority of all employers, of all members of Parliament, of all senators that our places of employment here on the Hill and in our constituencies are places where all employees feel valued, feel safe, and feel respected.
I want to reference the good work that was done by my colleague from Peace River—Westlock. His Motion No. 47, which went to the health committee, asked what the health effects of online violent pornography were to men, women, and children. That is a study that was very worthwhile. Unfortunately, the report does not really reflect the testimony that was provided by witnesses and seems to have been somewhat homogenized.
This is a bill which protects vulnerable people from exploitation, which is a noble goal. It is my hope that we in the House will achieve the goal that is set out in the bill. Despite the important objectives outlined in the bill, there are some questions that must be addressed. Sending Bill C-65 to committee will allow us to ensure that we meet the high expectations Canadians have for us as legislators as we deal with these critical issues.
We know that sexual harassment is not a new phenomenon. Unfortunately, there have always been occurrences. However, now victims are starting to speak up and out against those who use their positions of power to sexually harass those who have less power. It is important that harassment claims be dealt with appropriately and that they be seen to be dealt with appropriately. This inspires greater confidence in the systems which are in place, prevents abuses, and ultimately ensures that victims and perpetrators are both dealt with in a way that reflects the spirit of the law. We know that beyond the toll harassment can take on a victim, there are significant costs to a workplace where harassment is tolerated. Lost productivity, absenteeism, higher turnover all have an economic cost that undermines an office or a business.
By way of background, part 1 of Bill C-65 amends the Canada Labour Code to strengthen the existing framework for the prevention of harassment and violence. This includes sexual harassment and sexual violence in the workplace. Bill C-65, if passed into law, would put sexual harassment under the purview of workplace health and safety. Areas of federal jurisdiction would be under the new regime, including the federal public service. Part 2 amends the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act with respect to the application of part II of the Canada Labour Code to parliamentary employers and employees, without impacting the privileges and immunities of this place, the other place, and their members. In essence, harassment policies will be also be expanded to cover parliamentary workplaces. The bill will not change the way complaints are handled between parliamentarians. Sexual harassment complaints between members and senators will continue to be handled as they have been previously. Finally, part 3 amends a transitional provision of the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1.
In essence, the bill puts forward a multi-step process for dealing with complaints of harassment or violence. It aims first to prevent harassment and violence, but when it does occur, a system is to be in place for a complaint to be filed. An employer must try to resolve the complaint. If that does not work, mediation is an option. If that option fails or is bypassed, an individual identified as a competent person is to report on the incident and make recommendations to the employer, who then is required to implement the recommendations. I will not go into all the details here, but if the complaint remains unresolved, the minister of labour steps in to ensure compliance.
There are some issues I have with the bill, mostly with the lack of precision in the drafting. The first concern I would like to highlight is related to the fact that the minister of labour is given a great deal of power in the complaint process. The minister of labour is set up to be the arbiter of matters that proceed through the initial steps of the process but go unresolved. The trouble here is obvious, especially as we consider that this new regime is meant to provide protections to staff here on Parliament Hill. For example, if an individual who works within the office of a Liberal MP is harassed and he or she proceeds through the process that would be in place, he or she may find his or her situation being addressed by a colleague, maybe even a friend of the perpetrator.
The minister of labour would be in an awkward position here, to put it mildly. As anyone watching the news in the last week will realize, a sexual harassment situation arising in a political office can end a career. Are the Liberals seriously saying that the minister of labour, whether in this government or any other successive government, would be able to rightly deal with a situation of this type from an unbiased perspective, without any concern for political consequences? I doubt it.
A victim must have access to a process that is reliable and cannot be improperly interfered with. Even the perception that there could be interference calls the whole process into question. An independent third party would serve employees and employers much better here.
There are other problems within the legislation that require some further clarification as well. Throughout our time in government, Conservatives always placed a strong focus on supporting victims. It is our intention to ensure that the Liberals focus on supporting them as well through this legislation, as they have said they would. One of the concerns related to this point is the option of mediation as an avenue to solve harassment complaints.
The government must be absolutely clear about what is meant and intended with these sorts of areas of concern. The Liberals have said there would be a campaign that would focus on sexual harassment awareness. To date, there has been no mention of the cost of this campaign, where it would be targeted, or what the specific goals of the campaign would be. A campaign will not be successful unless it has defined goals and a strategy to meet them.
Similarly, there needs to be a plan for outreach to those people who have experienced sexual harassment. The plan is to help those who have been aggrieved to navigate the process of resolution and to direct victims to the support services that would be available to them. The bill needs to have an accurate costing estimate to accompany it. All Canadians have a stake in ensuring any campaign has a meaningful impact. The Liberals would do well to map out their plan for this campaign as quickly as possible to that end.
Bill C-65 also identifies a number of exemptions that need to be clarified. To give one example, there is an exemption to opt out of the regime for harassment complaints if workplaces have an equivalent regime of their own already in place. What would this look like? How would such requests be handled?
Finally, certain terms in the bill are not presently adequately defined in the law. The term “competent person” is someone a person could go to for help rendering a decision in the case of a complaint. What does a competent person look like? How would we describe a competent person? There needs to be an expansion in that part of the bill. Is it the law of contract definition of the competent person, which is someone who has the mental capacity to enter into an agreement? Is that what was meant by a competent person? Then such a person could be any individual in an office. Is it someone who has the required skills, training, experience, and other characteristics to truly be helpful? Someone in human resources or a counsellor might be more appropriate in a case like that. What does competency mean in relation to addressing complaints of sexual harassment, and for the purpose of Bill C-65?
These are all areas that could be more neatly defined to make this a better piece of legislation. Bill C-65 must be clear. It must be clear what it means. It also must be clear what it does not mean.
The intent of the bill is noble. However, it leaves many questions unanswered. I look forward to seeing the bill debated more fully at committee. I am sure that all members of Parliament, staff, and all Canadians want to see workplaces free of sexual harassment. I hope this bill, after some improvements and clarifications, will be helpful and will contribute to greater safety in the workplace.
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