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Results: 1 - 15 of 62
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2019-06-19 14:30 [p.29386]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can take great comfort in knowing that a real plan for the environment is coming at five o'clock. What it will not include is special deals for Liberal insiders.
Under the Prime Minister, well-connected friends of the Prime Minister have done very well. He rewards his well-connected billionaire friends with taxpayer handouts, like $12 million to Loblaws. He interfered in a criminal court case to help his corporate friends at SNC. He targeted entrepreneurs and small business owners while protecting his vast family fortune.
Why do the well-connected Liberals and the wealthy always get a better deal under Liberals?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, today we are discussing a proposal by the government that is transparently ridiculous. I think my six-year-old daughter could well understand why it is ridiculous and government members should as well. It is a $600-million government bailout fund for some journalists and media organizations. The distribution of that fund is to be controlled by a committee that includes Jerry Dias and the leadership of Unifor. Unifor's leadership has made it clear that it will use workers' funds for electoral purposes. It will campaign to defeat the Conservatives in the next election and for the re-election of the Liberal government. It calls itself “The resistance” to the Conservatives.
Overtly partisan people are responsible for meting out dollars to journalists; that is for determining who is a journalist and who is not for the purpose of this funding and for determining who gets the money and who does not.
Our contention on this side of the House is that in defence of an independent press, we should not have overtly partisan individuals or entities responsible for meting out funds on the basis, supposedly, of supporting non-partisan journalism. This should be very clear. Having people who are actively involved in campaigning for one particular outcome in the election and also determining who is a journalist for the purposes of receiving funding is outrageous. It is beyond outrageous. I think members across the way would understand this very easily if the shoe were on the other foot.
That is why thus far in this debate members of the government are trying to avoid the real conversation about the real issue by all means necessary. They are making all sorts of other points that do not really address their decision to have partisan mechanisms handing out funding and deciding which journalists get funding.
Government members have talked about the important role that journalists play in our democracy. Of course we strongly agree with that. However, the most important tool that journalists have in their toolbox is a recognition of their credibility. Why do people choose to get their information from credible media organizations as opposed to blogs? Why do people go to nationalpost.com as opposed to liberal.ca to get their media? It is because of credibility. People understand. They hope that when they go to a media organization they trust, they can expect the information to be credible, accurate and non-partisan.
When the government intervenes by determining who gets funding and who does not, it is undermining the perception of credibility in the press by the public. Thus, it makes the job of independent professional journalists that much more difficult. The government is eroding public confidence in the fourth estate and it is doing so for its own interests.
If the government really cares about defending the vital work our independent press does, it should actually listen to what members of the press are saying about the proposal.
Don Martin from CTV says, “The optics of journalism associations and unions deciding who picks the recipients of government aid for journalism are getting very queasy.”
Andrew Coyne says, “It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”
Jen Gerson from CBC says, “If any of these associations or unions could be trusted to manage this “independent” panel, they would be denouncing it already.”
David Akin says, “I am a Unifor member and had no choice about that when I joined @globalnews. Unifor never consulted its membership prior to this endorsement. Had I been asked, I would have argued it should make no partisan endorsements.” He says “Jerry: I invite you to visit with Unifor members who are also members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. I’ll set the meeting up. You will learn first-hand how much damage you are doing to the businesses that employ us, to our credibility and how terribly uninformed you are.”
Chris Selley, from the National Post, says, “Liberals' media bailout puts foxes in charge of the chickens.”
Chantal Hébert says, “Among the ranks of the political columnists, many fear it is a poison pill that will eventually do the news industry more harm than good.”
That is quite a list of intelligent, thoughtful journalists who comment on a range of different issues and who are known and have recognized names in Canadian democracy.
If the government says that its goal is to defend independent journalists like Don Martin, Jen Gerson, Andrew Coyne, David Akin and Chantal Hébert, then maybe it should listen to those independent journalists, because they understand that when the government pursues policies that undermine their perceived credibility in the eyes of the public, it makes it more difficult—not easier, but more difficult—for independent journalists.
Members of the government talk about an independent press. They talk about how having Unifor on a panel that doles out government funds and determines which journalists get the money and which do not, how having overtly partisan mechanisms controlling which journalists get funding and which who do not, is somehow in defence of an independent press. That is very Orwellian. War is peace; freedom is slavery; ignorance is strength. It is Orwellian to say that government partisans doling out funding arbitrarily to media organizations of their choice is a way to maintain the independence of the press.
Canadians should be concerned about it because journalists are concerned about it. Not only is it a waste of taxpayers' money and not only is the government trying to intervene to stack the deck in its favour for the next election, but it undermines the independence of the press and it creates greater challenges for the press as they try to do their job. It makes it harder for them to fight back against those who are challenging their credibility.
In response to this, Jerry Dias from Unifor said that he is entitled to his free speech. I agree that all Canadians are entitled to free speech, but he is not entitled to use Canadians' tax dollars to promote those particular views.
Further, we expect certain positions in our democracy to be independent. We expect budgets not to be involved in overtly partisan politics. We expect the Clerk of the Privy Council not to be involved in overtly partisan politics—oops—and we expect some of these people to be outside of speaking about elections and parties. We certainly expect that the people responsible for doling out funding to journalists or deciding which organizations get the money would indeed be independent and would be separate from politics.
This is about preserving the independence of our institutions. We on this side of the House stand for preserving the independence of those institutions. It is not good enough to say it; we have to actually leave those institutions alone and not interfere with them. We should not interfere in the independence of our journalists, our public servants, or the functions of our judicial system, which is another problem. There are so many cases of the Liberals not respecting the independence of our institutions and interfering with them, and they are doing it again with respect to independent media.
The government's argument is that Unifor should be represented because it represents journalists. Here are some important numbers: Unifor is a very large union, representing over 300,000 people. There are about 12,000 journalists in that number; less than 5% of the membership are journalists, so this is not an organization that speaks uniquely and exclusively for journalists. In fact, journalists represent a very small part of the overall membership of the organization, so claiming that Jerry Dias can speak particularly for journalists in the context of public policy and advocacy widely misses the mark, especially since we hear so many journalists speaking out against this situation.
This is part of a broader pattern. We see repeatedly by the Liberal government efforts to stack the deck in its favour to undermine the independence of our institutions. We saw this first with the electoral system, when the government wanted to change the electoral system to its advantage and wanted to do it without a referendum. When the consultations came back and were different from what the government wanted, it ordered another round of consultations, again trying to stack the deck. The government tried to change the electoral system to its advantage and it failed. We called the government out on it.
The government also tried to change the Standing Orders of this place. Without the agreement of all parties, it tried to bring in automatic closure, again undermining the role of the opposition in the House of Commons. The government has tried to do this multiple times, but we successfully stood against it.
We called on the government to clamp down on foreign interference in elections; it refused to act on that.
The government has unilaterally acted to control the structure of the leadership debate. It has pushed through other changes to the Canada Elections Act that allow third party groups to massively outspend political parties in the pre-election period. The government did that to stack the deck.
Now again we see, in its efforts to undermine the independence of the media by having overtly partisan people controlling the handouts that are going to media, that the government is again trying to stack the deck in its favour.
The government does not respect the independence of the media. It does not respect the independence of Parliament. It does not respect the independence of the opposition, and that more than anything else is the reason that the Liberal government must be defeated.
View Rachael Harder Profile
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-06-03 18:17 [p.28445]
Mr. Speaker, I think the point is clear that the Leader of the Opposition has been told that Unifor will be his worst nightmare going into the next election.
The point is that this is clearly a very partisan organization. This is an organization that very much is against the Conservative Party of Canada and very much campaigning on behalf of the Liberal government, which means that now this whole exercise just became very political in nature.
I do not think we can argue with that point. It is very clear what has been said and what the motive of this union is. Therefore, $600 million are on the line and where they go will be determined by this partisan group of individuals. It is not only that. The majority of the money is being withheld and is going to only be given to these media outlets post-election. This means there will be an awful lot of motivation given to them, through the withholding of money and the promise of funds after the election, to cover the 2019 election in a very particular way. It does not take a great deal of intelligence to determine what that way is.
Of course media outlets will be encouraged, if not manipulated, to cover the election of 2019 from a Liberal vantage point rather than from a fair one that is non-partisan in nature. Why is that? It is because there are $600 million on the line and they want a piece of the pie.
I have clearly outlined that there is problem with regard to the independence, but it is not just me who says that. There is far more being said by journalists throughout the country.
Andrew Coyne said, “It is quite clear now, if it was not already: this is the most serious threat to the independence of the press in this country in decades.”
Don Martin said, “The optics of journalism associations and unions deciding who picks the recipients of government aid for journalism are getting very queasy.”
Jen Gerson, CBC and Maclean's, said, “If any of these associations or unions”, so the eight individuals who have been selected, “could be trusted to manage this 'independent' panel, they would be denouncing it already.”
Those are quite the statements.
Chris Selley, the National Post, said, “Liberals' media bailout puts foxes in charge of the chickens.”
I and my Conservatives are not the only ones pointing out significant concerns with the decision to give out $600 million of government money to media outlets across the country. Clearly, this is an attack on the independence and the freedom of our press.
In addition to that, it is a matter of protecting democracy and of ensuring media outlets actually cover the story of the day without being pressured by the government to do it one way or the other. As soon as the government offers money to media outlets, all of a sudden the press feels the pressure to cover stories in a way that would perhaps paint the government in a positive light. That is not okay; that is not the Canada we belong to.
We see the lack of independence and the lack of freedom in places like Turkey, Russia and China, where it is dictated how any sort of news will be covered and granted to the people in those countries. In Canada, we very much depend on the government staying out of the way and allowing press to cover a story from whatever angle that media outlet should choose.
The other problem with this is that there is no transparency in the application and review process. This concern has been brought up by the CAJ within the last couple of days. It has pointed out that there needs to be a more transparent process in moving forward with this, that those who apply for this funding should be listed online and that the process for applications for this funding should be made transparent. This should be put online and made available to the Canadian public. After all, the Liberals are taking Canadian taxpayer dollars and using them to help media outlets. That process needs to have greater transparency to it.
In addition to that, there should also be some transparency with regard to not only those who apply, but also who is rejected and why. Why are they rejected? It is fair that many Canadians, many journalists and many of those on this side of the House have a concern that the government will be quite biased in the way that it selects people. I say the government because, make no mistake, that while there are eight individuals on the panel, I have my suspicions that they are nothing more than eight puppets with the current government pulling the strings.
The entire independence and freedom of the press is being called into question with this $600 million bailout. In addition to that, our democracy is being put in jeopardy, as well as just a lack of overall transparency and good governance. It is absolutely terrible.
Furthermore, with regard to credibility, one journalist wrote, “The minute the union starts helping a government divvy up taxpayers’ cash for the benefit of news outlets, there is quite rightly a perception that reporters’ coverage is being bought off.” Whether that is the case or not, there is that perception. He goes on to explain that the credibility of a journalist is of utmost importance, that our journalists work hard to maintain the credibility and trust of the Canadian public. By the government giving $600 million to the free press, it calls into question that credibility. There is a problem there.
This is not the first time the Prime Minister has put his interests above those of Canadians. He does this quite often. In the NAFTA agreement, he said that he would get a good deal for Canada. He said he would not allow ink to go on paper until tariffs were removed. However, he put ink to paper. Meanwhile, we still had tariffs on steel. We still had tariffs on aluminum. We had tariffs on softwood lumber. We allowed the U.S. to take a good chunk of our market with regard to dairy. We allowed it to take a good chunk of our market with regard to auto and implement quotas. At the end of the day again, we saw where he put his image before the needs of the Canadian people.
Further to that was the students summer jobs program. We watched again as the government put itself first. It imposed a requirement on organizations that they would need to sign off on a value statement, that they would need to sign off on a set of beliefs and values in order to receive dollars from taxpayers. If organizations were not willing to sign this value statement, or this attestation, then they could not have any of that money. Again, the government was not acting in the best interests of Canadians. Instead it was acting in the best interests of the Prime Minister and the image he wanted to portray.
The problem with this was that many faith-based organizations could not sign the Prime Minister's value statements. Those organizations do tremendous work. They look after the homeless. They look after those who live in poverty. They help refugees come to Canada and settle here. They run summer camp for kids, many who are underprivileged kids. The Prime Minister actually refused to give them a dollar because they would not sign his value statement. That is wrong.
With the carbon tax, again, the Prime Minister is wanting to put forward this image of himself as someone who cares for the environment. He gets this great idea about putting a tax on pollution. Then all of a sudden people will no longer need to drive their cars to work, put clothes on their back, food on their tables or heat their homes in -30°C. That is not the case at all. That is ridiculous. It lacks any sort of logic.
What have we watched over the last four years? We have watched as emissions in the country have gone up. We have watched as the government is further away from meeting its targets than we have ever been as a country.
The current Prime Minister has the audacity to say he is standing up for Canadians, but he is standing up for no one other than himself. He wants to maintain his image, propagate his ideals and manipulate Canadians along the way, when it is all based on a foundation of deception.
With Bill C-71, the Prime Minister said he wanted to look after the safety and well-being of Canadians, and in order to do that he would go after those who legally acquired their firearms, who were properly vetted to have a firearm and who legally used their firearms, because that would take all criminals and gangs off the street. He thinks he will help make this place a safer country if he shuts down the sports shooters and the hunters. That is the Liberal logic. It is terrible. It is more about image than it is about serving the well-being of this country and the Canadian public.
Meanwhile, the same government put another bill in place, Bill C-75. Do members know what that bill did? It rewarded terrorists. It rewarded those who force marriage. It rewarded those who engage in genocide.
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2019-05-03 11:54 [p.27342]
Mr. Speaker, we continue to get confirmation of the Prime Minister's hypocrisy. Potential so-called independent senators are being run through the Liberals' partisan database to determine whether they have had any prior affiliation to the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister wants to know if they have been members of the Liberal Party, attended Liberal events or even had a Liberal lawn sign before he decides on which candidates to appoint.
When will the Prime Minister just admit that his independent Senate is not so independent?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
View Michelle Rempel Profile
2018-01-29 12:26 [p.16414]
Mr. Speaker, what happens when power collides with sex? The government's response to this question and to more sexual harassment and assault allegations against politically powerful people coming to light was to schedule Bill C-65 for debate this week. The bill seeks to impose a new framework on Canadian employers, including members of Parliament, to prevent sexual harassment and assault. I suspect the bill will garner a large amount of support in the House. Its measures are laudable and it is a positive step in the right direction.
My colleagues in this place today will likely bring up aspects of the bill that they hope to see clarified and improved upon when the bill moves to the committee stage. That said, this measure, in and of itself, will not correct all the issues associated with the current state of affairs of sexual harassment and sexism on the Hill. This is not meant to be a knock against the legislation, but rather a call to action to have a more honest look at our current state of affairs on the Hill and to place an onus on all of us to do more to change the culture that allows sexual harassment to occur.
Let me set the scene. In Ottawa, in the sense of it being a nexus of power in Canada, it is an intense place. Leaders in all three branches of government, senior public servants, military leaders, the diplomatic corps, the Parliamentary Press Gallery, highly paid lobbyists, smart political staff, civil society, and business leaders all converge in one tightly confined space. They are all trying to accomplish big things. Many are assertive and ambitious. Many are highly skilled at their crafts. Many hold privileged positions of influence, and many think very highly of themselves. It is a highly tribal environment where information is a commodity and blind partisanship, conformity, loyalty, and acquiescence are often traits significantly valued above judgment, compassion, or acting with dignity.
When this context is taken and combined with prolonged or frequent absence from spouses, young guns who are both naive to the context and hungry to advance a career or a cause, journos that are chasing a scoop, people who just want to work and be left alone, and a whole bunch of workaholics who are single, or well on their way to getting there, the issue of what constitutes appropriate sexual behaviour becomes critical. Then, mix in alcohol. It is used to cope, to fit in, and as an excuse.
Further, all of us here are in precarious positions. Every time there is an election or a cabinet shuffle, everyone, all the people here, change. More importantly, this precariousness is rooted in the fact that we exist at the pleasure of our bosses, outside of the Canada Labour Code. At any moment, everyone here weighs the opportunity cost of making a complaint or committing an non-acquiescent action with the threat of quiet dismissal, being overlooked for a promotion, being shuffled out of a spot, having a nomination candidate quietly run against us, or not having our nomination papers signed at all. This is not unique to any political party, nor is the press corps immune to this either.
To say that there is a power imbalance here is an understatement. Further, for all the talk of feminism and pursual of women's rights, there is not gender equality in the broader context of Parliament Hill. Women are still used as photo-op props, included for quotas or optics without having the authority of real decision-making automatically attached to their perceived utility. For that, women have to fight, and fight hard, and put up with being accused of not being a team player, or being an “insert choice of gender expletive here” when they do. That is only for those of us who are lucky enough to have built a platform and a profile that allows us to do that without those in the top tiers of power having to take a bit of damage in order to suppress our voices.
Women are still touched. Our hair is still stroked. Our shoulders are still rubbed. We are still given hugs and cheek kisses that linger a bit too long. To fit in, we still laugh at the lewd jokes, and maybe even tell one ourselves to be considered safe to socialize with and to be considered “one of the boys”.
Further, those who dare to raise issues of harassment are labelled as man-haters. Their sexual proclivities are questioned. Speculation abounds as to whether their sexual proclivities were even the cause of their experience. They are re-victimized over and over again. These things are used to control us, to demean us, and to silence us.
Then there are those who say, “Why don't you just stand up for yourself?” This morning, my former colleague, Megan Leslie recounted a story to me about being at an event where a senior male pulled her close to him and told a story to a group while holding her around the waist. She was asked by a reporter how she could have let this happen. She responded by saying, “There were four other men there. Why did they stay silent?” That is the problem. So many of us are bystanders to harassment, leaving a woman to, in Megan's words, “extract yourself with a laugh and some good-natured ribbing, then silently cry to yourself on your way home”.
This takes me to what we need to do to change and move forward.
First, we cannot be bystanders any longer. All of us should demand that Parliament adopt a clear definition of sexual harassment, what the workplace extends to, and what consent means in the context of our workplace. Then all of us, interns, volunteers, MPs, ministers, staff, everyone, should be required to take mandatory training on how to prevent sexual harassment and also education on what sexual consent means. This training should be required to be completed on an ongoing annual basis, at a minimum.
Women here need to stand together regardless of political stripe, support each other as these claims occur, and demand that our leadership take action when they occur. Men need to call out their peers when harassment happens. MPs need to let their staff know that they have voices and that they should use them.
Using the whisper network, the gossip chain that we use to tell each other when we see something or hear something, can no longer be seen as the main way to manage incidents of harassment. It is a privileged system that does nothing to protect victims, nothing to empower them to come forward to report abuse, nothing to prevent violence, and nothing to prevent vexatious complaints from being made.
Second, we need to dispel the myths of what consensual sex means in this environment. Is it possible for a drunk staffer to give consent for sex to a senior male within their workplace organization who aggressively propositions that staffer? Within any standard workplace code of conduct, the answer to that should be unequivocally no.
Today there was a report that at one critical point within my party this was a topic for debate, and that is disgusting. In that incident, media reports say that people sat around a very senior table and argued semantics around whether action in our workplace should be taken because criminal charges were not proceeded with. Those people should be ashamed of themselves and they should have no role or influence in this or in any political party, which brings me to the next point.
For the woman at the centre of this issue there was no process for anyone to file a “formal” complaint. Think about her decision-making process for a minute, weighing job security in the context of making a complaint in an ill-defined process against someone in an environment with high media scrutiny. A raised complaint like this should have been enough to effect some sort of change.
The trend in most of the allegations that have surfaced recently is that of older men preying on younger women. Age and level of experience works as another dynamic of power that is often at play. I would ask members to try to put themselves in their shoes for a moment. A person thinks she has finally gotten her foot in the door of what she hopes to be her new career only to be met with decisions she never thought she would have to make. Does she keep quiet to save her job? Will this hurt or help her career? If she tells someone, will she ever get to work in politics again? On and on it goes. It is an impossible choice that no one should have to make.
In these terrible situations we should be managing to justice, safety, and dignity, not to successful political issues management. This is why we need to build awareness of the new support system that has been put in place to allow Hill employees who experience harassment to report and seek some form of justice without fear of reprisal.
The aim here is to afford all parties involved in these incidents due process and to drive toward an end solution that appropriately responds with censure to any incident. This system should be reviewed for efficacy and improved over time. In doing so, it should be monitored to ensure that it stays arm's length from any political party influence, remains impartial, and is transparently scoped in its operation and desired outcome.
While it is very laudable, I do not think that this system will be enough. Political parties should also adopt formal codes of conduct and reporting processes regarding what they deem appropriate behaviour when it comes to sex, sexual harassment, and consent. All candidates and political staffers should be required to sign off and adhere to this code prior to being allowed to run or work for a party.
There should be consequences for breaking this code. I would go as far as saying that this should not be voluntary, that a political party should not be recognized with official party status unless it has one of these codes on its books. Having a system like this within each political party, in addition to the process that exists on the Hill, would serve as a check and balance to ensure high standards are set and followed. It would probably be helpful if the Parliamentary Press Gallery did the same thing before credentialing its reporters.
Reporting systems and codes of conduct should enable people to know that, regardless of any other factor, they have the right to speak up for themselves and to call out harassment in the moment. We should all be able to walk confident in the fact that, if that is not possible, systems exist so that we can report concerns and get assistance in dealing with those concerns without fear of reprisal.
In the development of these codes of conduct, political actors should ensure that they do not shy away from stripping the taboo from the following questions, and should force a non-dogmatic conversation on the same: Can a direct report employee or an employee writ large truly give consent to a sexual act to their boss or to someone of a higher power influence? It is the same question, but for a reporter to a source, a lobbyist to a client or a minister, or a diplomat to a deputy minister: Should sexual relations be permissible in these situations at all? How can someone tell when a person of influence is using sexual advances or innuendo to silence or demean them as opposed to when someone legitimately wants to explore the possibility of an intimate liaison? Is there a difference, and should we even be having this conversation to begin with?
Third, we need to stop making incidents of sexism and harassment partisan question period fodder. Every time a woman gets up and pretends that her party is more virtuous than the other we set the bar back. We all need to use some judgment to create a culture that would eventually render the necessity of such a system moot.
This is where the electorate comes in. We need to collectively value guiding principles when it comes to sex and power, and ensure that the people we elect reflect the same. The electorate needs to have a zero tolerance policy as well for these types of incidents.
These principles include a recognition that we all have the right to our own sexual agency. In Canada, we have the legal right to control how and when we express our sexuality, and with whom. However, this does not mean acting in a way that removes someone else's dignity, or failing to obtain consent. Rather, it is understanding that consent can be withdrawn at any point, and that at no point is non-consensual activity legal nor is assault legal. While a certain sexual encounter might not be illegal, it does not make it right in the context of a workplace.
In practice, this means adhering to codes of conduct. It means constantly asking oneself about whether it is right to proposition someone, and question the appropriateness of the method by which it is done prior to doing so. It means seeking consent for this type of attention in and of itself. It means accepting rebukes with grace, deep respect, and love. It means accepting rebukes not with a way of seeing it as a challenge to try again.
Conversely, we need to show an understanding that consensual sexual activity does not absolve us of the societal, emotional, physical health, or financial consequences that might occur when engaging in consensual sexual behaviour. Regret for a consensual sexual liaison that occurs within the boundaries of legality and established codes of conduct does not constitute harassment or assault, and should not be used to make vexatious complaints that diminish the legitimacy of other survivors, backlog complaint systems, and unduly destroy the reputation of others.
This is yet another point that underscores the need to have functional codes of conduct with clear definitions of harassment and consent, clear reporting systems that undertake due process free of partisanship, with clear and measurable consequences that fit the severity of the incident. There are many models of best practice for these types of codes of practice in corporate Canada and in civil society. The fact that we are only starting to implement them shows how deeply entrenched the power imbalance on the Hill has been.
I cannot believe that we are having this conversation; I really cannot. Given the number of times in my career in the last six years that the number one media request in my inbox has been about someone committing some sort of indecency, or somebody trying to get a partisan comment on which party is more virtuous in terms of this, or how I feel about sexism, I am starting to say, why does just my voice have to be used on this? Why all of a sudden am I the key issue bearer? Why does every single one of my colleagues and the minister of labour have to stand up and talk about this when there are so many other issues? This should be common sense decency that we treat each other with.
We are spending the first day back on this issue. It is an important debate and I am not trying to diminish it; however, that we have to legislate this behaviour actually takes my voice away. It takes away my ability to talk about the economy or foreign affairs, or any other issue today.
The fact that there are people who feel it is within their purview to act badly, to use their power imbalance to silence and demean others is disgusting. The fact that there are people today who still look at women and the first thing they think of is political issues management is disgusting.
I do not want to make this a gender or heterosexual conversation because that would be completely misconstruing the context here. The fact that people feel they cannot report abuse or that they have to work and live with abuse says that we have not achieved gender equality, that we have not achieved some sort of utopia on feminism. Worst of all, we are sitting here with the privilege of having certain rights that other people in the world do not. I cannot imagine some woman, for example, a Yazidi sex slave survivor, watching this debate and saying, “Oh my God, are they really talking about this?”
This bill is not enough. It is a good step in the right direction, but we cannot legislate against bad behaviour. We cannot legislate against someone choosing to use their influence or power imbalance to diminish someone else. At the end of the day, we probably have to have more severe codes of conduct. It cannot just be within political parties here either. We all know that the #MeToo movement is going to head up to the press gallery, the lobbyist community, and the diplomatic corps. We have all sat here and watched these things happen. If we do not have that more difficult conversation, if we do not strip away the taboo from doing this, we are not going to fix this problem and we will be here for more years talking about what else needs to change, and I am tired of it. I do not want to sit in this place and have this conversation again. I do not want another woman coming into my office on this. This needs to stop and it needs to stop now. It is the job of every person here and every person who is listening to take on that personal responsibility of putting dignity and human rights ahead of abuse or sexual desire.
Returning to Bill C-65, the Conservative Party supports this bill and will commit to carefully analyzing it in order to provide suggestions on areas where there needs to be improvement. Sexual misconduct and sexual harassment have no place in Canadian society, especially within our political system. As Conservatives, we want to ensure that the government focuses on supporting victims, as it has pledged to do. For example, there is a concern about the option of mediation as an avenue to solve harassment complaints. The government needs to be clear about the implications of the bill in such areas of concern. We want the government to be clear on questions of funding. For example, what will the budget be on the government's campaign to raise awareness on sexual harassment? We want an effective awareness campaign and we need to know how much and where we will spend this money.
I am sure this bill will be vigorously debated at committee. I am sure many experts will come forward to talk about why this bill is important or how it does not address all the gaps. But at the end of the day, what is not going to be discussed at committee, and I am sure we will talk about this again, is the individual responsibility of all us to stop being bystanders, to stop the whisper network, to be accountable for our actions, and when we see our colleagues or someone else behaving badly, to intervene. It means that we empower our staff, that we have their backs, that they do not have to put up with this garbage anymore. It means fundamentally changing the culture on the Hill. It means the organizers of Politics and the Pen, the parliamentary press gallery dinner, and the cocktail circuit all understand that this is the breeding ground for where this stuff happens and we need to rip the band-aid off of it. We need to stop pretending that somehow this legislation is going to magically fix bad behaviour.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2017-10-03 14:20 [p.13866]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals launched this consultation period of only 75 days over the summer, and they keep doubling down. They keep using inflammatory and insulting language. Local businesses create jobs, and when the Liberals hurt them, it will hurt the workers they employ. So many people are against these changes. So many people are asking for more time so they can share their stories with Liberal ministers, who continue to ignore them.
Will the Prime Minister commit to allowing his Liberal MPs the freedom to listen to their constituents, stand up and represent them in the House, and vote in favour of our motion? Will it be a free vote?
View Kelly Block Profile
View Kelly Block Profile
2017-06-21 15:02 [p.13073]
Mr. Speaker, Dwight Duncan has now admitted to intentionally ignoring the Prime Minister's own guidelines concerning partisan activities for his appointees. Once again, the rules do not apply if one is a Liberal donor. This is no surprise, as he takes his ethical cues from the Prime Minister himself.
The Gordie Howe bridge is too important to Canada to be left in the hands of someone who has damaged his credibility beyond repair on both sides of the border.
Will the Prime Minister fire that partisan political hack, yes or no?
View Kelly Block Profile
View Kelly Block Profile
2017-06-20 14:44 [p.12995]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal-created partisan appointments know no bounds. Dwight Duncan, former Liberal finance minister and Liberal appointment as chair of the Windsor–Detroit Bridge Authority, is using his position to take partisan swipes at leaders on both sides of the border. One wonders when he has time to oversee the construction of the Gordie Howe bridge. The Prime Minister's personal directive to public office holders is clear. They must refrain from expressing partisan views. Why do the Liberals not appoint someone who can stickhandle this project without annoying everyone on both sides of the border?
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
2017-06-20 14:45 [p.12995]
Mr. Speaker, the chair of the WDBA was appointed a year ago through an open, transparent, and merit-based selection process, and he brings a considerable amount of experience to this important position as a result of his diverse career accomplishments both in the private sector and in the public sector. His in-depth knowledge about the Windsor–Detroit region and his lifelong residency in the region is an asset. He has apologized for his comments, and I accept his apology.
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Amarjeet Sohi Profile
2017-06-20 14:46 [p.12995]
Mr. Speaker, the Gordie Howe international bridge is a very critical trade corridor between Canada and the United States, and 30% of the surface trade between Canada and the U.S. goes through this corridor. We are focused on getting this crossing built, and that is exactly why we appointed Mr. Duncan to undertake the duties of the board and also make sure that we are on time and on budget.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak to a piece of legislation on an issue for which I have been flooded with correspondence from constituents. This is something that resonates for Canadians.
I want to pick up on something my colleague just said. He said the best thing about the bill is that it has helped him learn how to pronounce the word “statistician”. I agree that this might be the only good thing about the bill. There are many things about the bill that are much worse, and it may be that the parliamentary secretary is finally coming around to the opposition's perspective on this bill. Hopefully, by the end of my remarks we will have sealed the deal in getting the government to realize the problems and, having benefited from the pronunciation exercise associated with the debate, agreeing with us in voting down this legislation.
Before I get into more detail, I want to pick up on the parliamentary secretary's response to my question. One of the provisions of the bill is that it would establish the Canadian statistics advisory council, which would replace the National Statistics Council. One might infer from the names that they are not that different from each other, and one would be correct. One has 13 members and the other 10 members, but when we do away with one council and replace it with another, that is a great opportunity to appoint 10 entirely new people, as if we would not notice in the opposition what is going on in that respect.
To get some clarification, I have to ask my friend across the way what could possibly motivate this legislative change, which effectively allows the government to do away with the existing council and then appoint 10 new good Liberals—I mean, good, qualified appointees—to this panel.
His response is quite revealing in its lack of detail. He tells us participation rates were uneven. Essentially, they did not think people on the council were as good as they could have been, so they have to completely change things so they can appoint a new council. Of course, we will be watching to see the extent to which the government uses this tactic. I really hope that none of the people on this new statistics advisory council were involved in developing the instrument for the government's electoral reform consultation.
There are some real problems with the government's approach to appointments in general and, I would argue, more broadly with its approach to statistics and how it considers science and information on a variety of issues, so I am going to take this opportunity to talk a bit about that as well as to talk about some of the specific provisions in this legislation.
The bill is partly seen by the government as an opportunity to try to push an important political message, which is that it really wants to associate its brand with evidence-based policy. We hear this rhetoric out of the government a lot. I think I speak for the entire official opposition in saying that we believe in evidence-based policy. We believe in data-driven decision making. For us, it is not just a slogan.
The member for Spadina—Fort York is heckling me again. I am sure he is preparing a great question about Ayn Rand again, which he is able to relate to all subjects in this place. I look forward to those comments, based on the member's extensive reading of that author.
If I could get back to my comments, for us as Conservatives, evidence-based decision-making is not just a slogan. It is not just something we want to put in the window. We actually look at the evidence and the details and we apply that information across a range of issues. If we look at the approach the government has taken across a range of files, we will see its total lack of regard for the evidence.
I will cite a few examples, because we have seen and debated examples in the House of the government not being interested in looking at science. The most obvious example of its complete disregard for evidence when it comes to policy-making is its approach to pipeline approval.
On this side of the House we believe that there is an independent process for pipeline review. There is an independent body, the National Energy Board, that collects data, conducts hearings in a reasonable time frame, and provides a report back. By and large, when the government gets a report from an independent consultative body like that, it should be listening. This actually accords with the rhetorical approach of the government.
An independent body is providing advice based on science. What is not to like? However, members of the government actually do not like that very much because, when it comes to pipeline approvals, they want to preserve the ability for the government or the cabinet—and they have clearly shown an intention to use that ability—to reject approvals that are made by independent, impartial, science-based decision-makers at the National Energy Board.
We have seen this anti-science approach when it comes to the northern gateway pipeline, an important pipeline project that would have provided market access for our energy resources, which was approved by the NEB with conditions. It was then approved by the previous government with conditions, and now we have a new government not only rejecting that but bringing in legislation to not allow tanker traffic out of northern B.C.
We know in that context that there is a great deal of tanker traffic off the coast of B.C. coming from Alaska. We have every reason to believe it is going to increase, and yet we have this unscientific—anti-science, in fact—decision by the government members. They are motivated by a political calculus that ignores the actual reality.
When we have the government coming forward with legislation, when the Liberals talk about the importance of science-based decision-making and of statistics, it is important to pose this question. Why are they not listening to the clear evidence when it comes to pipeline approval? Why are they not listening to that evidence?
I can give another example, and this is probably the clearest example of the government's disregard for good statistical methods. That was the Liberals' approach on the issue of changes to the electoral system. There was a process in place whereby a parliamentary committee representing all members of Parliament came back with some good recommendations about how the government could proceed with the implementation of something that was actually an election commitment. That reflected the fact that many Canadians had input into the committee process. Generally speaking, parliamentary committees only hear from experts. I do not think the committee did any sort of explicitly quantitative work, but it did a great deal of qualitative work gathering opinions of Canadians and hearing those perspectives. It came back with a recommendation that a referendum be done with respect to possible different electoral systems.
After that, because the government members did not like the result of what was a good process for engaging and consulting Canadians, they decided to come up with their own process, which was obviously from a statistical perspective highly suspect. It was to have an online consultation that gets people's feelings about things that might have some kind of approximate relationship to questions around electoral systems, but not actually ask the direct obvious questions. We could not ask people if they favour a system that is more proportionate or less proportionate, has certain kinds of possible outcomes, etc. It was generally about feelings and sentiment-based calculations, and through that process, the government decided it would not proceed with it.
This was an attempt, given that the first analysis of public perspectives did not seem to produce the results the Liberals wanted, to reorganize and contort and manipulate the mechanism of consultation to not ask explicit questions but instead to contort the process to try to ensure they had the result they wanted and in the end to justify a political decision, which at that point had probably already been made, which was to back away. This is another case where we see a real disregard for the process of science, of gathering evidence, of consulting with Canadians.
I should also mention that we have the government's disregard for the science when it comes to the risks associated with marijuana use, and we have the Liberals' decision to bring forward legislation to legalize marijuana in spite of the clear risks to young people, as I said, choosing an age that does not at all reflect the science.
The Liberals have been criticized by all kinds of experts for setting the age at 18, for example. There is a great deal of evidence that, even if we were going to legalize it, we should recognize that there are substantial risks and scientifically demonstrated associations between early use of marijuana, even relatively occasional use, and mental health challenges later in life.
That evidence exists, yet in spite of good advice from experts on this issue, the government again has shown that it does not take evidence-based policy-making seriously when it comes to pipelines, electoral reform, and now in this case, the issue of marijuana. We have a government that does not look at or listen to the evidence. Instead, it wants to try to twist and contort how it presents statistical information in a way that is based on a predetermined, preset political agenda. This might satisfy the Liberals' political calculus, but it does not accord with the kinds of principles, the kind of lofty objectives they frequently talk about.
By the way, every time we have a debate about science in the House, it is interesting to see the way the Liberals try to politicize the issues. I remember a case during question period where we had a member who has spent decades working as a scientist asking the Minister of Science a question. The minister said that it was good to see the member finally taking an interest in science. In fact, it was the member for Sarnia—Lambton, who has a long history of working and being involved in scientific development. It shows the very political lens through which the government views this.
Therefore, it is with that in mind, with the level of concern about the way the government uses these words and about its actual record when it comes to evidence-based decision-making, that we approach this legislation. It is legislation that contains a number of elements that raise big questions about what is actually going on and what the government is trying to do.
I spoke earlier, and I want to develop this point a little more, about a specific provision in the bill, which is this new council that the Liberals want to set up. The bill would establish a Canadian statistics advisory council, which would replace the National Statistics Council. I am sure what we are going to hear, and maybe members have already said this, is that there will be an open process for applications, anybody can apply, they will be evaluated dispassionately based on fair and neutral criteria, and they will come to the conclusion that in fact reveals that, well, the best people were former Liberal Party donors, cabinet ministers, or something like that.
The government's record with respect to appointments all the way along is very spotty. There are major questions out there about how the government actually comes to its appointment decisions. I think there are a number of examples that we could talk about that are fairly obvious. For instance, we had the government promising an independent process with respect to senators, and yet, strikingly, the senators that the government appointed are very much voting with government. How could that be? It is almost as if there was a political lens applied to those appointments. Just because the Liberals say something does not make it true. If we look at the evidence, the voting records of those appointed suggests certainly that this is not a dispassionate calculus based on some politically neutral criteria at all. They are trying to send that message even though it does not accord with the reality.
Of course, there is the fiasco in this place around the appointment of a new Commissioner of Official Languages. We had different messages given by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and by a witness at committee—I think the Commissioner of Official Languages appointee herself—saying essentially different things about the conversations that took place in the lead-up to the decision around that appointment. We had repeated questions for the Minister of Canadian Heritage about what conversations were had and how those decisions were made. In the end, it was always a deflection rather than a direct response to the question about that appointment.
However, the reality is that we had a provincial Liberal cabinet minister who the government intended to put in the position, which is a very important office and supposed to be an independent officer of Parliament. Obviously, that person took a step back when it was clear this was not something that was going to be accepted. However, it was not inevitable that would happen, and the government's consistent defence of that appointment decision obviously raises real red flags when we look at the fact that the Liberals are bringing forward legislation that would allow them to entirely reappoint this statistics advisory body.
With all these different appointment issues in the mix, this leads up to what is one critical position, the Ethics Commissioner. The Prime Minister has recused himself, supposedly, from being involved in the appointment of the Ethics Commissioner. However, he has given that power over to the government House leader, someone who clearly serves at the pleasure of the Prime Minister. It is hard to imagine that there would not be some kind of a conversation that would take place, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, especially given that there may have been conversations that took place around the Commissioner of Official Languages, and yet we had different things said in different places, by different people who were supposed to be part of that conversation, about what conversations actually did and did not take place.
There is a huge credibility problem with the government when it comes down to who it is putting in place for these appointments. When we look at a bill like this, it is worth asking who is actually going to be involved in the appointments. How can the opposition, as we look at this legislation, have any kind of certainty that, as the government gets rid of one body on the basis of what the parliamentary secretary called “participation rates” being uneven, we will see something quite different, and that we will see a body that will actually, in effect, increase the government's control of it.
The government can talk about independent bodies, groups, and agencies and oversight mechanisms all it wants, but then we have to look at how those are formed, who is putting them in place, and who is appointing those people to those positions. If we do not have confidence that the government is actually looking at merit, if it is clear, based on the past track record of the government, and I think it is, that it is only making these appointments or predominantly making these appointments on the basis of partisan criteria, then we cannot, at all, have confidence in the way in which that decision is going to unfold.
I do want to make an additional point with respect to this legislation, and that is that this legislation does not directly affect whether we have a mandatory long form census. We currently have a mandatory long form census, and that will not be changed either way with respect to this legislation. It is not necessary to pass it in order to achieve what clearly is a stated objective of the government, which is to have that mandatory long form census in place.
Other provisions of this bill are evident but are not really the ones I have chosen to dwell on in my speech, but I do want to draw the attention of members to them nonetheless. The bill involves the appointment of a chief statistician during “good behaviour” for a fixed renewable term of five years. It does mean that once a chief statistician is in place, it is at least much more difficult for the government to remove that individual. It also, of course, brings us back to this question of how we can actually trust the government to make credible appointments, if we consider the track record of the government when it comes to those appointments.
The legislation also says that the minister will no longer be able to issue directives on methods, procedures, and operations. The minister will still be able to issue directives on sort of a broad scope of statistical programs, but it will no longer be up to him or her to dictate methods, procedures, and operations.
I have to say I do think the government has a very poor track record when it comes to determining statistical methods, if we judge from the way it organized consultations on the issue of changes to the electoral system. I certainly would not want to see the government manipulating those dynamics around statistical methods and operations. Again, we have observed what the likely problems would be if it were trying to essentially do the same thing that it has already done with regard to other statistical issues, and that is shape the way in which those consultations took place in order to achieve a particular outcome. The broad problem is still there, given the remaining authority and given the issue of appointments.
To summarize very quickly, the main problems that I brought attention to in the legislation are this.
First, we have seen the government's clear lack of willingness to take evidence-based decision-making beyond a slogan. It is clearly a slogan it repeats over and over. However, from the way in which it makes decisions, there is no evidence it is something it considers.
There is also the issue of the lack of credibility the government has with respect to appointments and the way in which those always seem to reflect a partisan criteria.
On that basis, we will be opposing the bill.
View Erin Weir Profile
View Erin Weir Profile
2017-06-13 16:14 [p.12591]
Mr. Speaker, it is currently the case that these appointees go up before the respective committees where they are subject to questioning, and those proceedings can be televised. I would agree with the member that it might be a useful reform to ensure that those proceedings are televised.
Certainly, one of the benefits of the NDP motion today is that we would continue to have these hearings to approve officers of Parliament when they are appointed, but they would be before a body in which all recognized parties have the same vote. Therefore, it would not simply be a matter of asking questions, but it would also be a matter of needing the approval of more than one recognized party. That is the best possible test for non-partisanship and independence.
Earlier today, members on the government side were making the argument that people should not be excluded from these appointments because they have ever given money to a political party, and I would agree with that. Therefore, we do need some kind of test to determine whether or not someone is considered sufficiently independent, and getting the consent of other parties is the right mechanism.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, nobody is going to believe that my friend from Winnipeg North is selflessly trying to improve the Standing Orders for the good of all when the discussion paper put forward clearly contains exclusive provisions that work to the interests of the government and when Liberals refuse to accept an amendment that would require unanimous agreement.
We could have these discussions in a framework in which we agree, but the member should understand, with respect to Fridays, for example, that by reducing the number of days of sitting, the government would reduce those opportunities to hold it accountable. Even if we added the extra minutes or hours to days Monday through Thursday, the fact is that we would be reducing important opportunities on specific days for members of Parliament to challenge the government about the issues of the day. This is just one example of many examples in the discussion paper, which the Liberals know, which we know, and which we know they know work to the advantage of the government.
Liberals saying that they are going to selflessly do it all themselves for the interests of others argument clearly does not hold water for anyone who is watching this debate. Why does the government not agree to work with all parties, to have that discussion in a way that actually includes all voices. Then we can talk about things that would actually improve the Standing Orders, but still remain fair and facilitate honest and genuine discourse back and forth?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, there is something quite perverse about the discussion of Motion No. 103. Effectively, Canadians have been divided on a motion when there seems to me to be very little substantive disagreement on the underlying topic.
Canadians and all parliamentarians agree that discrimination against anyone is unacceptable. We agree, in particular, that there is a problem of discrimination against the Muslim community in certain quarters. This is not to deny, of course, the existence of other kinds of discrimination and that it can range in type and form. For myself at least, I would quite happily vote in favour of a motion condemning discrimination against Muslims, even if Muslims were the only faith community mentioned.
Why, then, are we divided? It is because the word “Islamophobia” can be used to mean both discrimination against Muslims and criticism of Islamic doctrine or practice. It is important that we not conflate the two. Religious people deserve legal protection, but religions do not. People should not discriminate against individuals, but should feel quite free to criticize the doctrine, history, or practice of any religion. This distinction between discrimination against religious people and criticism of religion is not at all a trivial point. It is the point that separates societies like Canada, which seek to protect people from bigotry, from other societies that impose violent sentences on people who blaspheme or apostatize in the name of protecting religion itself.
The Liberals and some in the media want us to simply shrug off this point and vote in favour of this motion because it is just symbolic anyway, but even a symbolic motion should have clear definitions and say what it means. As members of Parliament, our principal tool is the words we use. The suggestion that we should shrug about the meanings of words, about the definitions of things we are being asked to condemn, is clearly wrong. We are in the words business here. We should not, therefore, shrug about the meanings of words. This is my sole basis for objecting to the text of the current motion. This is a problem that should have been easy to solve.
I have spoken to many people about Motion No. 103, both supporters and opponents. Those who support this motion, though, almost uniformly agree with me that the government should entertain amendments that strengthen the motion by providing definition and clarity. Why not simply define Islamophobia? Members have provided definitions of lslamophobia verbally in their speeches. Why not take the verbal clarifications and add them to the text of the motion itself?
I asked the mover of the motion this direct question during debate on February 16. I said the following:
I have a very specific question that would be worth the member answering. Why does she insist on characterizing the ask for clarity as a watering down? It is not a watering down to amend a motion to provide a definition. It is not a watering down for Canadians with legitimate concerns about knowing what we mean when we use this word to ask the member to provide a clear definition, not just verbally but in the context of the motion.
The member responded:
Mr. Speaker, this has been a great debate on issues that the Muslim community really tackles on a daily basis, and has tackled for a number of years. However, it is not just about the Muslim community; it is about all Canadians.
In October of last year, I was happy to see the House unanimously condemn Islamophobia. Since then, nothing has shifted to what “Islamophobia” means. I find it very interesting that the members across the way are now using the definition of Islamophobia as the reason why they cannot stand up for the Muslim community, recognize the issue as it is today, and do the right thing.
However true or false any of that may be, it is quite obviously not an answer to the question posed. Why are Liberals so allergic to a clear definition? Why will they not answer that question?
What is perplexing about all this is that, if the government or the member were serious about their stated objectives, then they would have every reason to work with us on amendments. The rules of the House do not even allow me to move an amendment without the member's permission, but an amendment that provides a definition would cut off all this unnecessary disagreement and would strengthen the motion.
Liberals might claim that Conservatives are failing to stand up for the Muslim community when we oppose this motion, but the fact is that they failed to stand up for the Muslim community a month ago when we presented a motion that explicitly condemned discrimination against Muslims and that they voted against. When they voted against our motion, they put politics ahead of the fight against bigotry. When they refuse amendments today, they are again putting politics ahead of the fight against bigotry. I sincerely hope that this will be the last time they do that.
Following these points about the motion in front of us, I would like to take a step back and talk about the global climate in which we find ourselves and how we as legislators ought to respond to it. Specifically, I believe we can understand the western political environment in which we find ourselves as being characterized by different kinds of anxieties, anxieties that are real and legitimate and need to be responded to as opposed to dismissed. We see the emergence of economic anxieties, security anxieties, and political anxieties.
On the economic front, many middle and low-income workers, especially in certain sectors, feel they have been left behind and are being ignored by economic and policy change. In Canada, this anxiety is being driven by dramatic tax increases across the board and by the disdain with which ordinary workers are being treated, particularly in the natural resources sector. It is all well and good to talk about the jobs of the future, but nobody today is putting food on the table with jobs of the future. The erosion of present natural resource and manufacturing sectors with policies that are supposed to lead to jobs of the future is a recipe for present discord and discontent, and we have seen the effects of that elsewhere. Policies of higher taxes and increased regulation and other changes are contributing to broader economic anxiety.
An increase in terrorist attacks in the western world as well as the increasing accessibility of information and images about terrible violence in other parts of the world are contributing to anxiety about our security situation. Anxiety is increased by fears of uncontrolled migration. Western societies have been built and strengthened by the entry of legal immigrants who come to contribute to our countries, but fears about uncontrolled, unregulated migration are legitimate and sensible. Societies with successful immigration systems do not have open borders. Societies with open borders invariably invoke a backlash. They cannot even sustain the policies they intend to have in place.
Finally, political anxieties emerge when the public feels that politicians are focused on symbolic issues as opposed to on their substantive and legitimate concerns. When people with real economic and security concerns are called deplorables, sewer rats, racist, and whatever it is, they are unlikely to respond well to political elites, and they should not.
Anxieties about the economy, about security, and about disconnected political elitism are all legitimate, but these anxieties can also lead to dark, dangerous, and even violent responses. Recognizing these anxieties and their potential sequelae, we need to do two things. We certainly need to call out and condemn bigotry and violence in clear terms. However, we cannot treat all of those people with legitimate anxieties like they are violent bigots. Instead, we need to recognize and respond to the legitimate anxieties of the wider public.
What is the relationship between this and Motion No. 103? Motion No. 103 would not in any way advance toward its supposed objectives. What genuine bigot was ever dissuaded in his or her bigotry by a motion of the House of Commons? Does the government really think that there is even one person who will repent of his or her bigotry as a result of the outcome of this vote?
The failure of the government to work collaboratively on this has clearly had the effect of accentuating public anxiety among those who fear that the government or people who support it have some dark and hidden agenda, which is their reason for not seeking an amendment. I do not think this motion is the result of any kind of secret conspiracy. It is really just cynical politics. However, surely the experience of this motion should by now have taught them the lesson about the need to have a clearer and more serious response to bigotry that actually deals with the underlying anxieties that give rise to it.
To conclude, I would like to share with the House some words written by Shimon Fogel, CEO of CIJA. He has some good advice for all of us as we go forward. He recently wrote:
I was pleased to engage with the sponsor of M-103...in advance of her motion being debated on the floor of the House of Commons. We had an open and frank conversation at her invitation, which included discussion of the need to define Islamophobia.
We support the motion's intended objective of combating anti-Muslim hate in Canada, which should be unanimously endorsed. However, we are concerned with the potential validation of any restriction placed on criticizing those manifestations of Islam that drive hatred and violence against Jews, Muslims and other Canadians...
Following the anticipated adoption of the motion, critics and proponents alike must set their disagreement aside and ensure that any parliamentary initiative that follows is unifying.
It is not too late for the mover of the motion to do the right thing and amend it so we can have unanimous support. However, regardless of the outcome of the vote, I hope that going forward, the government will be willing to work with us in good faith on these issues. They are simply too important to do otherwise.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to be here this afternoon.
I am not sure I have seen a bill more emblematic of the Liberals than this bill. As I sit here and listen today, I see there is all kinds of enthusiasm over there, but no assurance of any kind of effectiveness. There is all kinds of work being planned here, but it is likely to have no results. There are all kinds of appointments in the mix, but it does not look as though there would be any balance either.
The Liberals made a promise in the campaign. Their promise was that they were going to set up a non-partisan parliamentary national security oversight committee. Bill C-22 is another broken promise from a government that is becoming famous for breaking them. I will talk about how it has broken that promise, but certainly there is no opportunity for this to be non-partisan or to be a real parliamentary committee, and it certainly is not going to have the oversight it should have.
There are several ways to set committees up around here. The one we thought the Liberals were promising was a non-partisan parliamentary committee. I assume that if we put that in place, we would be talking about equal numbers such that the opposition would be able to contribute on an equal basis and the power on that committee would be shared, perhaps through dual chairs or sharing the chairmanship. It would have the powers of a parliamentary committee. If it was a security committee, it would probably have to deal with some sort of secrecy issues around the content of what it is looking at.
There is a second opportunity, which is to set up a regular parliamentary committee that has parliamentary powers. All of us in the House sit on those types of committees. They always pretty much favour the government, because the numbers on the committee are set by the numbers we have in the House. Those committees are under the control of the government, and we recognize that.
There are also advisory committees of parliamentarians that can be set up, and then there is an advisory committee to the prime minister. We know the specialization that the Liberals across the way have on consultation, but typically those committees are appointed by the prime minister himself.
It is interesting that we saw the Liberals promise number one, a non-partisan parliamentary committee. What they are actually trying to deliver today is number four, which is that advisory committee to the prime minister, a committee that can consult with him and that he can talk to about these issues, but one which has very little power.
I want to take a bit of a look at some of the other countries involved in these committees. One of my colleagues across the way in the government a while ago talked about the United States intelligence committee structure and was actually trying to compare this structure to that. He talked about how there needs to be fairness and justice and that the rule of law must be guaranteed and protected by the bill. Bill C-22 does not do that. It does not compare in any way to the structure that is set up in the United States.
The previous speaker talked about the United Kingdom model being similar too. I am going to go through that a bit as well. I think we will find out that this committee does not have much similarity to the authority and power that the United Kingdom committees have either.
There are a number of other Commonwealth countries that do have oversight committees. New Zealand, for example, has a committee, but it basically is to examine issues of efficacy and efficiencies for budgetary matters, policy settings, and those kinds of things. It really does not have much to do directly with intelligence oversight. The members of that committee are the prime minister, two members of parliament nominated by him, the leader of the opposition, and one member nominated by the leader of the opposition. We can see in that situation that the Government of New Zealand would control that committee at all times. It is basically focused on budget oversight, not intelligence gathering.
The Australian model is a little bit different. It has a committee that is administrative. Its main functions are to do expenditure review and oversight there as well. It can also review matters that relate to some of the agencies that are referred to it, but it does not review intelligence gathering or operational procedures or priorities, and it does not conduct inquiries. Again, we see it is an oversight committee, but it is not what the Liberal government has promised to set up as a committee for Canadians.
The United Kingdom has a little stronger committee. It has a committee of parliament with greater powers. It was actually set up in 1994 as more of a monitoring committee, and in 2013 it was restructured or reformed to give it more powers and increase its strength. It now includes oversight of operational activity and the wider intelligence and security activities of government.
When people were thinking about this committee that the Liberals were promising during the campaign, they really thought that is what was going to be brought in, and it certainly is not, as we see when we look at the legislation, what the Liberals are doing to the legislation, and the work the committee did.
Bill C-22 is called the “national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians act”. Usually a committee is named for what it really is, and if that is the case here, it probably should be called “the Prime Minister's advisory committee”, because while the bill may establish a committee, it clearly fails to meet either the election promise or to establish a real and true intelligence oversight committee.
It is a bit of an embarrassment, I think, for the government to find itself having to completely change its direction from what it promised. It is unfortunate that it is using time allocation this afternoon to cover what I would call its incompetence on this issue. It is unfortunate that we find ourselves once more in the situation of the government wanting to limit debate on a bill that is clearly not going to meet the priorities and needs of Canadians.
We have a Prime Minister who seems to love running around and appearing on stages more than he likes to do this kind of hard work, so it is not surprising to see legislation, time after time, that is written in ways that the government itself is unable to support. It has to reject the work of the committees, reject the amendments made by members from all parties in this Parliament, and basically turn its back on the promises it made.
The bill to set up this committee was introduced in June of 2016. The interesting thing is that the Prime Minister actually appointed a chair to this committee months before the legislation was even presented and long before it was even debated. I understand the member has been travelling around the world. I guess he thinks he is doing some work on this in his committee, but it is probably a pretty good gig to be appointed before the parliamentary committee is even set up and have the government pay to travel around to examine some of these issues. At least there is one person getting something out of this, if the rest of Canadians are not.
As I said, forming an effective non-partisan committee was a Liberal campaign promise. Every one of us in the House would like to ensure that there is an appropriate review of our national security agencies. Conservatives believe that is important and would like the committee, when it is set up, to have the capacity and the tools to be able to do what is required. I think we would all be glad to support a committee that would properly supervise and provide oversight to our national security and intelligence organizations, but the way it is being done in the House this afternoon is a clear demonstration that this whole project is far more about optics than it is about effectiveness.
If this committee is put in place, we need to make sure that it has the tools to do what is required, and that clearly has not happened. I just mentioned that the Prime Minister appointed a chair of the committee long before the legislation was written, or certainly before it was presented and long before it was debated. The person appointed, from my understanding, has very little expertise and does not have a history in these issues.
One of the issues here is that committees usually elect their own chairs and do not have ones imposed by the Prime Minister's Office.
The Liberals promised they were going to form this committee. It is not a parliamentary committee. It is controlled by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. I do not know how anyone in the House could possibly see a committee set up like that to be non-partisan. What does it mean when the Prime Minister has the authority to appoint the members of the committee? Again, as I mentioned earlier, if Liberals really wanted to treat this matter seriously, why would we not be talking about co-chairs and an equal number of party representatives in the House? Without that, we really have nothing useful.
This is just one more broken promise. The budget is being presented this week, and we will be reminded again of how many promises the government has broken. This is one more of those broken promises. This will not be a non-partisan committee. The Prime Minister will be controlling it. It will not be a parliamentary committee. It will not have the powers of a parliamentary committee. What the committee gave the legislation in its work the government is now taking away.
The point is that if it were going to be effective, it would not be under the control of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. It would be under the control of the members of Parliament who sit on that committee. If there were equal numbers of members and a sharing of the chairmanship, Conservatives could see how this committee might work effectively, but the government has made a decision that it is not going to do things that way, and that is unfortunate. It is unfortunate that the government finds itself in a situation like this today, but it is even more unfortunate that Canadians will end up paying for another mistake that has been made by the Liberal government.
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