Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Cathy McLeod Profile
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to stand and speak to Bill C-91, the indigenous languages act, at third reading.
It is important for people who might be watching to note that we just had a vote at report stage, and there was unanimous support in this House to move this bill forward. That in itself speaks to how important this particular bill is.
Having said that we see it is important to move the bill forward, the expression “The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement” is very appropriate. This is by no means a perfect bill. There are many things that will still be looked at in more detail in the Senate. I certainly perceive that we will be seeing more amendments coming forward. It was seen as a really important step. It was seen as something that we should all support, at least as a movement in the right direction. It is an improvement, for sure, but does it get us where we need to go? Absolutely not.
I was just talking to my colleague, who was at a dinner last night with the ambassador for New Zealand. There was a delegation here from New Zealand. I understand there was some drumming and a welcome in Cree at this particular dinner. What was more interesting was when he described to me how the entire delegation that came, MPs from all parties, spent over a minute or so talking in Maori. All the people in that delegation had some grasp of the indigenous language of that country.
I thought that was a very interesting story. I know we have a few indigenous language speakers in this Parliament, but we are a significantly long way from anything that resembles what my colleague described. Obviously, with its many languages and their many dialects, Canada is in a very different position.
This bill is important. Many witnesses came to the heritage committee and shared how vital the protection and revitalization of languages was for them. As they spoke, they shared research in terms of the importance of language; they shared lived experiences, and they shared suggestions for how we could make this bill better. I would like to thank them all for taking that time to come to committee to share their thoughts about this bill. We know that some of the suggestions were taken into account. At this time, others would be difficult. This needs to be an evolving process; it needs to be a bit of a living tree, and it is certainly a framework.
To go back a little, in the debate at second reading I shared a personal story. I would like to share another story in terms of what I witnessed back in the 1980s: elders who were very fluent in their language at that time, and how destructive some of the government policies had been, not only in terms of the residential schools and the loss of language.
I can remember visiting an elder who was very fluent in her language and being told that I was not supposed to visit this elder because she was no longer one of them. She had married a white person who had passed away. I thought that was strange, because she was of the community; she spoke the language and she was emblematic of the culture of the community. However, the government had decided she was no longer a status Indian, because she had married a white person who had since passed away. She could not ever retrieve that status.
It was a really unusual circumstance. That was one of the first times I saw the impact of government policies. As a nurse I was not supposed to visit an elder, because at the time I was called “the Indian nurse” and in the communities I was allowed to be responsible only for people who were status Indians. We all ignored those rules, and those rules certainly made no sense.
If we look at all the elders at the time and their fluency in speaking and we compare them with the children who had returned home from the residential schools, who at that time were in their fifties and sixties, we would see that very few of them could converse well with their parents with the language skills they had, and many of the elders were very limited in their English. Imagine how difficult that was for the communities.
To look back, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was part of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which recognized that the school system had a profound, lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language. At that time, the Right Hon. Stephen Harper and the previous Conservative government acknowledged these harms and delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons to the former students and their families and communities for Canada's role in the operation of these schools.
Again, this was a time when Parliament came together. We were government and we delivered the apology, but I remember NDP members were instrumental in that and I also know that the Liberals welcomed that particular day.
At the time, he said:
The Government of Canada built an educational system in which very young children were often forcibly removed from their homes and often taken far away from their communities.
Many were inadequately fed, clothed and housed. All were deprived of the care and nurturing of their parents, grandparents and communities.
First nations, Inuit and Métis languages and cultural practices were prohibited in these schools.
Tragically, some of these children died while attending residential schools, and others never returned home.
The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
As we all know, the commission did its work across this country and delivered its calls to action. Calls to action 13, 14 and 15 specifically looked at the issue of language, and that is part of the reason we are seeing unanimous consensus in the House to move forward with this bill.
This is an important bill. We have said it is not perfect. I am going to talk about some of the challenges and concerns that I continue to have about the technical pieces of the bill, as opposed to the more aspirational component.
My number one concern is about something I have never seen before in all my time as a parliamentarian. Committees hear from witnesses, who make suggestions. Then we have the opportunity propose amendments to the legislation to improve it or to fix errors. Amendments typically are introduced in time for all members of the committee to reflect on them and make decisions about whether these amendments make sense, where they are supportable, or whether they might have other implications.
We went through that process. Many amendments were submitted. They were submitted from independent members as well, and there was a good opportunity to reflect on what those amendments would mean in the context of the whole bill. Then there was clause-by-clause consideration, when we looked at the clauses as they existed and the amendments that were proposed.
The current government table-dropped 23 amendments. In all of my time as a parliamentarian, in considering many bills in clause-by-clause study, I have seen independents table-drop amendments and other parties have table-dropped amendments, but I have never, ever seen a government having to drop 23 amendments to its own bill with no time for consideration. Essentially, we had to make a decision on the spot, on the fly, in terms of the ramifications of these amendments.
That is what I consider to be an incredibly sloppy practice, and it is a serious concern. As the Senate looks at this amended bill, I am hoping that it will be able to catch any challenges that were left there as a result.
The other thing that is particularly interesting about the bill is something that Canadians might not be as aware of. There are two bills before this Parliament that are in some ways partner bills. One is the bill we are talking about today, and the other is Bill C-92, which is the indigenous child welfare legislation. In both these bills—and for the first time ever, as was confirmed by Ms. Laurie Sargent from the Department of Justice—Parliament has decided to speak to the recognition of section 35 rights in legislation, as opposed to going through a court system.
As Conservatives, we have often said that we should be the ones legislating and the courts should be interpreting. To some degree it is very appropriate that in consultation and collaboration with indigenous peoples in this country, we try to do some work in relation to section 35 rights.
The unanswered question is still about our Constitution, which is absolutely a work that includes our provinces and territories. For the federal government to be addressing section 35 in a language bill makes sense, because it is not going to impose on the provinces; however, in Bill C-92, the child welfare bill, the government is again defining some section 35 rights but is also going to be asserting to the provinces some paramountcy. It has been unwilling, so far, to talk to the provinces about that. When we are talking about putting some definition to some issues in the Constitution, not having conversations with the provinces is going to lead the government to some real challenges, particularly in the next piece of legislation we are going to be debating. I am very concerned that the government has taken such an approach.
I do not think I have ever seen things so bad in my time as a parliamentarian in terms of provincial-federal relationships. Things seem to have broken down, and I hope we can retrieve the situation. To propose legislation on which conversations have not even been had with the provinces is a challenge we need to deal with.
As I was going back in my notes, I noticed another interesting thing. This bill was originally tabled on February 5. At that time, the Minister of Heritage gave his speech, and I congratulated him on his speech and on this particular piece of legislation. However, February 5 was a very interesting date: it was the day a Globe and Mail article gave the first inkling of the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
I can remember the article had just come out, and I asked the minister a question about that, of course, and for the next two months we never did get satisfactory answers to any of those questions. What we learned in that particular article and in the two months that came afterward was that the government speaks many fine words about its commitment to indigenous relations and reconciliation, but that far too often its actions fall far short of what is expected.
I know that the former attorney general of Canada, who is now sitting as an independent, feels particularly concerned about what the government is doing and where it is going in terms of its commitments and in terms of the indigenous file.
We also saw how willing they were to throw a female who was the first indigenous attorney general in Canada under the bus. How quickly they did that, just two months later, to someone who was well recognized and well respected. We need to call them out on that particular piece.
Bill S-3, a bill about gender equity, is another piece of legislation that was tabled in the House that is related to this file. We had department officials come to our meetings. It sounded as though they had responded to the court decision in a reasonable fashion, yet the first witnesses and then other witnesses were able to point out serious flaws in the bill that the department officials had not noted. The minister had said everything was fine and that the government was taking care of the court decision, but the bill was so bad that they had to pull it and go back to the starting point. Then they had to pass a flawed bill, and we have been hearing recently that there are still concerns that the issues around gender equity have not been resolved.
Those are my particular concerns over the legislation that the current government has tabled. We have Bill S-3, which was flawed and had be to be pulled back. We have Bill C-91, which required 22 amendments to be table-dropped. In the case of Bill C-92, there are only six weeks left in this Parliament. The Liberals made significant commitments that they have not been able to meet, so they are in a rush, and particularly with Bill C-92, the child welfare legislation, they are trying to rush things through.
When I started my speech, I talked about things not being perfect but moving in a good direction. However, there might come a time when, in the Liberals' rush to get things done, things will be so flawed that they will just have to backtrack, as with some of their other bills. Unfortunately, we will have to see if they can get through it in time.
In conclusion, it is heartening to see unanimous consent in this House. It is heartening to see the work that has been done, although it is only a step. I am optimistic that there will be new technologies. One of the witnesses talked about how artificial intelligence can help with some language preservation.
We need to work soon and we need to work hard, so we are very happy to support this bill in terms of moving it to the next step.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2018-11-24 0:40 [p.23881]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleagues in the House for the opportunity to close the debate. I wish we were not closing the debate at this time, but considering that the time was allocated so severely in the motion that set the context for this debate, it is an honour to close it.
I will close it by addressing what I think was one of the principal arguments that we heard from the Liberals throughout the debate today, which is that they really had no choice and this crisis is beyond their control. What we have heard consistently throughout the debate today is that is not the case. Postal workers have been on rotating strikes, but the mail is getting delivered. In fact, in some parts of the country, there has only been a disturbance for one day out of the five weeks that Canada Post has had rotating strikes. I am sorry but that does not a crisis make.
I know there are small businesses and Canadians who want to receive their packages and the fact is that postal workers want to deliver those packages, but they do not want a circumstance where one in four of them can expect to get hurt doing it and not be able to enjoy Christmas with his or her family because he or she was injured working in unreasonable conditions that have persisted at Canada Post for a very long time now. That is what the government is asking those workers to do: to go into a workplace with the highest rate of injuries in the federal sector. We just think that is completely unacceptable and we do not believe we had to be here.
We have heard the labour minister defend this all day, and that is a shame. The person who should have been on her feet all day is the minister responsible for Canada Post, who has failed to put in management that is willing to address the real workplace issues and causing workers to get hurt, who has failed to address the mandatory overtime that is disrupting the family life of workers at Canada Post and contributing to the injury rate, and who has failed to put management in place at Canada Post that would address the real pay equity issues that exist between rural and suburban carriers and urban carriers. If we had real leadership from the minister who is actually responsible for the corporation, we could have avoided this situation.
To hear the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour talk about a crisis as if the government has no control over it is a little rich. Frankly, Liberals are asking too much of postal workers who were legislated back to work under bad terms and conditions in 2011 and have been doing their utmost to make sure that people continue to receive their mail reliably at a great cost to either themselves or their colleagues. This was an opportunity to do something about that.
We have heard a plethora of excuses from the Liberals as to why, even though they are undermining the collective bargaining rights of Canadians with back-to-work legislation, we should accept it because they got rid of Bill C-377, a major objection to which was the fact that it would reveal the contents of union strike funds to employers. The idea of getting rid of that legislation was to support union workers being able to strike and not be undermined by their employers. If the government is going to repeal that legislation with one hand and then legislate them back to work and artificially end the strike on the other hand, it amounts to the same thing: it undermines the right to collective bargaining.
We have heard about hard decisions. The fact of the matter is that governments do have to make hard decisions, but what is not true is that every time a government has to make a hard decision, workers get the short end of the stick.
When Air Canada went to the Liberal government early in its mandate and said it wanted to get rid of the provisions that required it to have its maintenance work done in Canada because it wanted to do the work offshore, the Liberals jumped to the pump and got it done. They made sure the corporate executives at Air Canada got what they wanted.
When big multinational companies went to the Liberals throughout the TPP negotiations—and they had an opportunity to substantially renegotiate the TPP deal—they decided to continue with the temporary worker provisions. Again we heard the Liberals say they were fixing the TFW program and making it better. Then they smuggled the provisions of that program into chapter 12 of the TPP. They could have done something for workers then, but no, they said it was time for hard decisions and sided with the big multinationals.
They did it again with their friends on Bay Street on the CEO stock option loophole. They were lobbied dozens of times to break an election commitment.
When that hard decision came up, what did they do? The Liberals sided with the folks on Bay Street and broke their election commitment. Workers are going to pay the price for that, and are paying the price for that, because then they are told, “I'm sorry, we don't have the money to do what we want to do.”
When it came to Netflix paying its fair share, Netflix came and lobbied. It was time for a hard decision. What decision did the Liberals make? They again sided with the large multinational so that it would not have to pay its share.
On the carbon tax, when the biggest polluters and the biggest moneymakers came to them and said they wanted a break on the carbon tax, unlike for everyone else, the Liberals granted it to them. That is the theme.
Whenever there is a hard decision, workers lose with the Liberal government. That is the problem.
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour to rise today on a subject that is incredibly important to Canadians and that is certainly important to me as a member of Parliament and as the son of someone who was disabled in a car accident in 1996.
As we look across our country, we know that there is a broad set of regulations that govern accessibility, that govern improving the lives of persons who are living with disabilities. When Canadians heard that the Liberal government was going to introduce a bill within six months of taking power in 2015, they were excited, because this was not just any bill; this bill was the accessibility bill.
Here we are, three years later, and we are debating the bill. It was actually introduced about two and a half years after the government took office. Liberals say that they consulted and are not going to apologize for that consultation. I agree, in some sense, that it is actually better to do things right and do them slowly rather than rush and do them wrong.
However, the reality is that it has been two and a half to three years at this point. They consulted, we were told, across the country with stakeholders. After that entire process, when the bill was finally brought forward, there were still 260 amendments moved at committee. Those amendments were not just concocted in some partisan backroom office where they come up with amendments to slow things down. They were actually brought forward by stakeholders who had apparently been consulted the entire time.
When those amendments were actually brought forward, it was not the New Democratic amendments that were adopted by the committee. It was not the Green Party amendments that were adopted by the committee, when the member who does not sit on the committee showed up and was able to actually contribute, which I thought was very meaningful to the process. It was not the amendments brought forward by the Conservative Party that were adopted, even though many of these were the same amendments.
The amendments that were adopted, almost 100% of them, were brought forward by the Liberal members. When I heard the minister talk about co-operation, I remembered that there was a similar pitch in the speech when debate on the subject was launched. That co-operation never came. In fact, we had the opportunity to speak over the phone. I think we had a couple of quick chats in the hallways of Parliament, but we were not actually given the opportunity to contribute. When it came down to it, it was about partisanship. It was not about helping Canadians when it came to the committee.
These amendments were not partisan amendments. They were things like putting a timeline on when to report back or putting a timeline on when we were going to achieve measurables so that Canadians could understand how this accessibility bill would actually help them. Some of the amendments put specific regulations or specific timelines for reporting back on specific regulations. These regulations were designed to help Canadians, perhaps with hearing impairments, visual impairments, other physical impairments or perhaps cognitive impairments of some kind.
There was no co-operation from the Liberal government on this bill. As a result, this bill is not perfect. I would venture to say that it is not great. It is a first step towards recognizing that we need to do better for persons with disabilities.
I have to say that the one piece of co-operation this minister actually managed to achieve was co-operation among the Green Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Conservative Party of Canada, and that should be recognized, because that is a job well done.
We know that when this receives royal assent, nothing will change from day one, except that there will be a huge price tag and 250 new employees for the Government of Canada. We know that new office space will be found. We know that the office space, hopefully, will be either 100% accessible or as accessible as possible. We also know that within two years, there will be a single regulation adopted by Canadians. All of this will be for a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
When I talk to stakeholders across the country, they tell me that if we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on them, and they want us to do that because they need it, they want to see something for that money. They would like to see a more accessible environment in the sectors that matter, whether in airlines, government services offices, Service Canada or even these Parliament buildings. They want to see the effect of those dollar spent. It is incredible that the accountability of this bill became the thing that actually stopped co-operation.
When we asked the minister or the minister's designated staff members whether it was at an information panel in the Wellington building or at committee, we were stonewalled. We asked questions like whether they recommended that the minister put timetables on this legislation. They responded that this was confidential between the minister and his staff. I do not understand what is being we hidden, because I think we all have the same goals at hand. Those goals are to help Canadians living with disabilities.
We do a lot for people around the world who are going through very difficult times. What I want to see, and what Canadians would like to see, is for the Government of Canada to take care of those who are most vulnerable in our society, those people living with disabilities. Unfortunately, the minister and the Liberal Party did not listen. They did not even listen to their own legislation. They did not listen to their own throne speech, in which they said that each member of the House would be respected and that partisanship games would not be played in committee. However, we have seen that happen time and again.
When groups and stakeholders from across the country came forward and asked us to do something about the exemptions, not to leave these massive holes in the legislation, the real result was no change. The result was “No, we're not going to listen”. The result was “We'll come up with regulations later on”. The result is that nothing is going to change upon royal assent.
As we move forward on this subject, consultation certainly needs to continue. The minister is actually correct about that. Consultation cannot stop. The barriers that we see in places throughout our society will continue to be there. They will be forever changing, but that does not mean that we do not create a starting point, a line from which we can measure going forward. Unfortunately, this accessibility bill as it stands is literally just the paper. It does not make any of those changes or create those lines or measurements so we can measure against them going forward.
We tried at committee to amend the bill. When I say “we”, I think I speak for the entire opposition. This was such important legislation, affecting so many people, that we needed to ensure we got it right. When we asked for a timeline to come back so we could really monitor and measure what was happening, the answer was no. The result of that is that not even future governments will be held to account on the legislation. There is, unfortunately, a hole the government could drive a bus through that would leave it by the wayside.
View Michael Cooper Profile
View Michael Cooper Profile
2018-11-20 10:14 [p.23583]
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-75 was introduced on the day before Good Friday in an effort to hide from Canadians what was in the bill. Now, after just two sitting days, the government is already bringing in time allocation at report stage. It is absolutely shameful.
At the justice committee, Liberal MPs were right to back down from the reclassification of terrorism and inciting genocide. However, shockingly, the Liberals have doubled down when it comes to the hybridization of what are currently serious indictable offences, including human trafficking, impaired driving causing bodily harm and kidnapping a minor, just to name a few.
Does the minister not agree that these are also serious offences? Does she not agree with the hon. member for Edmonton Centre when he said, “Let's be serious....We're talking about terrorism. We're talking about very serious offences.”? Why does the minister not also treat impaired driving causing bodily harm, human trafficking and other offences as serious offences?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate being able to rise to talk about Bill C-75, the importance of the bill and the intent behind the bill.
There is absolutely nothing that our government is trying to hide with respect to the major bold reforms we are seeking in Bill C-75 to the criminal justice system to answer the call of the Supreme Court of Canada in Jordan and other decisions to create efficiencies and promote the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. That is precisely what we are doing in Bill C-75. Since we formed government, this has been considered through very robust consultations.
I appreciate the discussions, the considerations and listening to 95 witnesses at the House of Commons committee on justice and human rights, who provided very substantial feedback.
With respect to the member opposite's question with respect to the hybridization of offences, serious offences will continue to be treated seriously. The hybridization of offences does nothing to change the fundamental principles of sentencing.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2018-11-20 10:19 [p.23583]
Madam Speaker, as I reflect back on the campaign of 2015, and sitting in many all-candidates debates, I remember hearing so clearly that if the Liberals became the government they would not bring in closure or time allocation and they would get rid of the practice of introducing omnibus bills in Parliament. Here we have those things being brokered at the same time.
In Bill C-75 there are some serious offences that will be downgraded to hybrid offences which gives the discretion to prosecute them as summary convictions, such as obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergyman and blood alcohol over the legal limit. We know the scourge of impaired driving on our streets and it is unbelievable that the government would actually reduce this offence.
I am not as concerned right now about those particular items as I am concerned about the fact that the government is intent on shutting down debate on a very serious issue when all parliamentarians should have the option of giving their views and letting their constituents know their views.
Why is the government so intent on shutting down debate on this important issue?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Speaker, our government is committed to working co-operatively with all members of the House.
With respect to Bill C-75, I would point out that there has been a total of seven hours and 45 minutes of debate in the House. The bill went to committee, where there was major discussion among committee members, and I thank them for that discussion. The committee heard from 95 witnesses. Twenty-seven hours of discussion and debate happened at committee. I thank members for the suggested amendments, many of which were accepted by the government.
Bill C-75 is a robust bill which proposes to amend the Criminal Code. It is not an omnibus piece of legislation. It seeks to address Criminal Code changes.
To comments by the member opposite around serious offences, under this legislation serious offences would still be prosecuted in a serious manner.
I am glad the member raised impaired driving. I am very pleased that our government was able to pass Bill C-46, major legislation to create in Canada among the toughest impaired driving laws in the world. I appreciate the member's bringing that up.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am astounded by the parliamentary secretary's speech. When he was in opposition, he said dozens of times that gag orders should never be imposed on members for any bills related to electoral reform, our elections and citizens' rights.
Today, he has changed his mind and done a complete 180°. If this bill is so important, why did the Liberals leave it on a shelf to gather dust for two years and bring it out only at the last minute? That is completely irresponsible.
The Liberals promised to consult all of the other parties before appointing a debates commissioner. Why then did they decide to impose their choice and make a decision on their own, a Liberal decision?
I would like the member to explain what the word “hypocrite” means to him.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2018-10-30 12:11 [p.23005]
Mr. Speaker, what the member fails to tell people is that at times it is necessary to use the tools to get legislation through, because sometimes we get opposition parties that will, at all costs, prevent legislation from passing.
The member across the way has to explain why his party would be prepared, which is what we are hearing from New Democrats today, to never see this proposed legislation pass, because that is what the Conservative Party wants. The Conservative Party does not ever want this proposed legislation to pass.
If we do not follow the advice I gave when in the third party, that at times we need to use the toolbox to get the legislative agenda passed, it would not pass, and we would not be able to modernize the Elections Act.
The member across the way and the New Democrats need to look in the mirror. Do they want it modernized or do they not? I believe, if they want to be consistent, they should support the actions of this government on this issue.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2018-10-30 12:23 [p.23007]
Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to my colleague's closing reflections on the mental gymnastics of the member for Winnipeg North.
The member for Winnipeg North was quick to point out that there may have been times in previous Parliaments, when he was in opposition, that sometimes time allocation needed to be used. However, I will not repeat the quotes, because we put a number of them on record. In the last Parliament, he was very clear that with special respect to bills having to do with modifications to the electoral system, it was a no-go zone. Even if he said that in other cases the use of time allocation might be appropriate from time to time, he was very clear in the last Parliament that on the issue of making changes to the elections process, it was not permissible to use time allocation and that a government unilaterally ramming through changes was not on. There is a little revisionism going on here.
I know the hon. member was in the last Parliament. I wonder if he might offer us the benefit of his experience to provide some reflection on this manoeuvring on the part of the member for Winnipeg North.
View Scott Reid Profile
View Scott Reid Profile
2018-10-30 12:24 [p.23007]
Mr. Speaker, frankly, I am not sure I can add to what my colleague just said. Maybe I should let those comments stand.
However, it lets me draw attention to another matter that I know is very important to my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona as a New Democrat. That is the justification by the member for Winnipeg North and the defence he gave on delaying the by-election, saying that other by-elections had been delayed in the past.
First, I am not sure if the by-election delay for Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes was legitimate. I do not see how the people living directly to my south in that riding deserve to be unrepresented for six months. I do not see how it benefited them or the issues that exist in their riding.
This is a special case. This is a matter dealing with the leader of a party and allowing that party to function fully in the House of Commons. To withhold that by-election is utterly unjustifiable and cannot be justified on any precedent based on any riding in which the candidate will not be the leader of one of the recognized parties.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2018-10-30 12:39 [p.23009]
Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on a theme of today's debate, which is the denial by the member for Winnipeg North that he was very committed in the last Parliament against the use of time allocation on bills that modify the Canada Elections Act. I would ask my colleague what he thinks of the remarks made by the member for Winnipeg North in the previous Parliament, when he said, “We need to recognize that the Canada Elections Act is like no other. It defines the rules that apply when we knock on doors and ask for votes, when we ask Canadians to get engaged and vote. This legislation should be designated such that time allocation cannot be applied to it.”
In the context of his remarks today, that sometimes time allocation can be used, I want to know what the member thinks about the fact that we are under time allocation on a bill that has to do specifically with the Canada Elections Act, when the member for Winnipeg North specifically said in the past that bills that amend that act should not be under time allocation. Why does the member think the member for Winnipeg North is trying to justify the government's use of time allocation on this bill today when he very clearly said that bills that amend the Canada Elections Act should never be put under time allocation?
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the member. It is hypocritical to be on both sides of the issue, depending on which side of this place one is sitting. It really undermines the value of Parliament and what we do here. We bring forward facts that we hope will convince the government to make changes or to study at committee, but we debate these issues, we question the government and we expect the government to allow every member of Parliament to speak on these things.
I will say this. When we knock on doors or rub shoulders with our constituents, yes, they understand the issue of the legalization of cannabis, the legalization of euthanasia and the immigration issue right now, but they get this, too. Any time we change the way we conduct elections, Canadians are moved by it. There were a few constituencies where we know foreign money was spent and made a difference in an election. Do members not think those constituents were frustrated? Now we have a government that is shutting down debate on it, trying to bring this cone of silence over almost the whole issue of what it is trying to accomplish. It is a sad, sad thing.
View Joël Godin Profile
View Joël Godin Profile
2018-10-05 10:33 [p.22264]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my Liberal colleague from Mississauga-Centre for his speech and for taking inspiration from what the Conservative Party did when it started this process.
My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley just asked what the difference is between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party. The answer is that the Conservative Party understands the economy, while the Liberal Party does not seem to be known for much of anything—but at least it generously built on our idea and our initiative to introduce Bill C-79, which is about the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership.
The CPTPP is a new free trade agreement. It is good for the economy and for the government to open up new markets allowing us to prosper. By prospering I mean enabling our businesses to be very active internationally to increase revenues and create wealth. As a result, businesses and governments can then make more money available to create social programs and help the less fortunate.
Let us create wealth and provide social programs. At the moment, the Liberals are busy spending a lot of money, but they are using a process that was put in place by the Conservative Party to hopefully create some wealth.
The interesting thing is that the CPTPP opens up markets with Australia, Brunei, Canada, obviously, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
I still maintain that this was put in motion by the Conservative Party. The Liberals love to invoke the name of the former prime minister, a man I admire deeply. He is one of the reasons I am in politics today. Stephen Harper, an economist by trade who is no showman, took steps to grow Canada's economy, and I am glad he did.
This goes to show that the Liberals are just improvising. We saw it with NAFTA, now known as the USMCA. The “C” stands for “Canada”. We get the lowest billing in the abbreviation because we are the last of the three countries to have signed or reached an agreement. This proves that the Liberals are improvising, which I find disquieting.
My leader, the leader of the Conservative Party, wrote to the Prime Minister of Canada this summer to speed up the negotiation process. Our government's negotiations with our neighbour to the south, the United States, have been dragging on for 13 months. I think that, strategically, it would have been a good idea to show the U.S. that we are not vulnerable, that even though they are a significant market, we want to develop other markets in order to have some leverage to negotiate with the U.S.
My leader got in touch with the Prime Minister to speed up the process. What is important for this treaty is to be among the first six signatories for the agreement to enter into force. Again, we are here discussing the CPTPP in October, on the eve of Thanksgiving, because of the Liberal government's improvisation, amateurism and lack of rigour. We are wasting time.
One thing we know in the world of economics is that when a player is missing and orders need to be filled, customers will start looking elsewhere if they are disappointed. It is the same when building a new head office, when there are opportunities to bring head offices here but companies choose to go somewhere else. You do not build a new head office every day, every week or every month. There are cycles and investments. When a company is located in a region or a country, transferring its head office to another country is a complex operation. It is a serious decision for corporate leaders to take.
Here is what we can read in Export Development Canada's website: “Free trade agreements like the CPTPP can: Help you reach new B2B customers; Give your firm a chance to bid on government contracts overseas; Buy goods and services with reduced or no tariffs”.
That is a Government of Canada website promoting the benefits of a free trade agreement. I think that is what a government must do. The current government has been slow. It improvised and was not thorough. Maybe the Prime Minister felt like being on vacation this summer. We, as Conservatives, were ready to move that file forward and expedite the process. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister's answer to our leader was that it was not possible for him to do anything and that things would take their course. That is the reason why we are debating this bill today.
As I mentioned earlier, the agreement will come into effect 60 days after six countries have signed it. If we delay, if we are not one of the first six countries, it means that we are not helping to speed up the implementation of this agreement. Does the Liberal government really want to open markets? That is rather odd. Last Sunday evening, at 10 p.m., on the Lord’s Day, the Prime Minister decided to hold a cabinet meeting here. Now he wakes up. There is an emergency and we need to move quickly. The government’s amateurism shows us that it has irresponsibly sped things up too quickly with the USMCA. The “C” stands for little Canada, which is in the trio along with the large market of the United States.
This government is just not consistent, and that is what is unfortunate. The Liberals have sped up the process. I have no idea what bit them, although in October flies are usually hibernating. In any case, I do not know what bit the Prime Minister to make him decide to speed up the process and give without taking.
I am not an expert negotiator. I was not at the negotiating table with the United States. When one negotiates, there is usually give and take. There is leverage. One agrees to sacrifice “X” as long as the other party gives “Y”. It is an old principle and it does not take a genius to make sure that there is a give and take. I said it in English so that everyone understands. That is what negotiating is all about.
Let us look at what the Liberal government took in exchange for what it gave. I have to say that I do not see anything in my notes. Nothing was gained. We give, we celebrate, we are happy and we say, “well done, mission accomplished”. Yes, it is important to have a market with the United States, but we must not negotiate on bended knee. We have to stand up. A power balance needed to be established. The process was moving along, and then a fly bit someone around the table and it was decided that we had to move very quickly. It is quite dramatic.
Canada came in third in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The United States and Mexico reached an agreement and told Canada it could join if it wanted to, but that, if it was not interested, they would go ahead as planned. Some position of power. Our Prime Minister’s Liberal government opened up our dairy market for free; the U.S. is still denying our farmers and dairy producers access to its market. At least the CPTPP grants us access to the market.
The government caved in to the United States, allowing it to maintain the surtaxes on steel, aluminum and softwood lumber. We conceded, we negotiated, the other side found ways of exerting pressure, but then, after we came to an agreement, it failed to remove that pressure. That is quite something.
In addition, the agreement extends the data protection period for pharmaceuticals. That means that it will cost Canadians a lot more to stay healthy. That is an impressive bargaining achievement.
Moreover, limits will be placed on the development of the Canadian auto industry. Now there are quotas, where before there were none. What did we get in return?
There is a lot more in the agreement. I cannot address every item. That being said, the more we read, the more we find out, and the devil is in the details. What I am about to say has never been heard before: we will have to ask the President of the United States for permission before we enter into any trade agreements with other countries. I am about to fall off my chair—well, not literally. I do not understand.
Our Prime Minister, however, is happy with the negotiations. As I have said before, it is important to have a free trade agreement with the United States, since the U.S. market is very important for Canadians. It represents practically 80% of our exports. It is important, but not at any cost. The government just managed to survive the negotiations, and it is thrilled. We, however, got nothing in return.
We are told that the negotiations are over. A company in my riding, Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, does business in the U.S. and Canada. Unfortunately, its product is on the list of products saddled with surtaxes, a tool the U.S. used to exert pressure during the negotiations. If the company develops products in the U.S. to meet U.S. and Canadian needs and then imports them into Canada, it will have to pay a surtax.
Not to mention any names, Biscuits Leclerc is a well-known company with facilities in 20 countries. It is a Canadian company, and its head office is located in Canada. I am extremely pleased to say that it is located in my riding, more particularly in the Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures industrial park. How important is the company? The industrial park is called the “Parc industriel François-Leclerc” in recognition of the company’s decision to set up its head office there. The company is prosperous and believes in us—and we believe in it.
I will get back to my story. The company produces cookies and ships them to Canada. It produces its own products and exports them to Canada. Do you know what the annual surtax is for the company? One million dollars. The surtax is still in effect, despite the fact that the government is thrilled that everything is settled and proud of what a good job it did in the negotiations. That is quite an example of success.
After signing the agreement, Donald Trump gave a victory speech at a press conference. He was happy. He won, but what did Canada win? It barely survived.
The agreement has been negotiated, but the negotiations are not finished, since there are still surtaxes on both sides of the border, for example on steel and cookies. We were even told that the surtax on steel and aluminum would remain as a matter of national security. Why did we not use food safety during the negotiations to justify holding firm on supply management? Canadian producers’ standards and controls for dairy and other types of production are higher in Canada in terms of safety and hygiene. Health Canada is doing a good job, but the rules are not the same in the U.S.
When we trade with another country or market with lower standards, that means that their production costs are lower. They can produce more at a lower cost. That is unfair competition. Why did the Liberal government negotiators not use food safety as an argument to close the door on supply management? The government told Canadian farmers that it would protect supply management. Great job! It protected nothing, and managed to open a breach. The other agreements included compensation and market access.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister met with farmers. He told them that the minister might give them full compensation. Now the government is backpedalling. People are seeing what we in the House have known for three years. This government is not in control. It consults, it talks the talk, but it is not proactive. Take, for example, the CPTPP, which we are discussing today. It is based on our government's work and I am very proud of that. We must have done something right at some point. Canada's economy is what it is because of the Conservative Party.
We did plenty of things right. Many Canadians I speak to, and I will have the opportunity to meet others because I will be in my riding next week, keep telling me that they miss the previous government, and that is music to my ears. It makes me happy. Canadians are beginning to see this government’s true colours after its constant failures this summer.
I have a piece of advice for the Liberals. I am not an expert, but I have my sources. In Business Insider, Jeff Haden gave 12 negotiating tips. I would have commented on each and every one of them, but since I do not have enough time, I will simply list them: go first; be quiet; know what you want — that one brings up big question marks; assume the best case; avoid setting ranges; only make concessions for a reason; avoid getting cornered; make time your friend; ignore face value; give the other person room; forget about winning and losing; and create a relationship.
The Liberal Party negotiators completely failed in many of these areas. In fact, there is nothing to evaluate, since they did not get any results. I will have the opportunity to talk about this a bit more.
As I mentioned in my speech, we will support the agreement. Opening markets is important. First, we need to create wealth, and then we can establish social programs.
View Linda Lapointe Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Linda Lapointe Profile
2018-10-05 12:40 [p.22285]
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague from Jonquière.
At the end of her speech, she said that the New Democrats were in favour of an agreement that was good for Canadians.
I sat on the Standing Committee on International Trade, along with her colleague from Windsor, who has been on the committee for two and a half years. They have never supported any of the agreements that we have studied, be it the agreement with Europe, the trans-Pacific Partnership or NAFTA.
I would like our colleague from Jonquière to tell me what agreement the NDP could support.
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