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View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-08-12 12:16 [p.2746]
Mr. Speaker, last week the world was shaken by the devastating news of a massive explosion at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon.
On the morning of August 4, the people of Beirut were going about their normal daily routines without any inkling of what was to come. They were shaken from those routines by horrific explosions that devastated the city, claimed at least 171 lives and left over 6,000 wounded. People lost their homes, their businesses and their livelihoods. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed. We understand that Lebanese officials continue to investigate the cause of the explosions, and we look forward to the outcome of those efforts.
Of course, many Canadians of Lebanese descent have family, friends and loved ones in Beirut and throughout Lebanon. Canada is proud to stand with our Lebanese community during this difficult time as they process the tragedy and remember and honour the victims. We have heard heartwarming stories of Lebanese Canadians joining forces to organize aid deliveries and to offer any support they can, which speaks to the spirit of the community.
We also extend our sympathies and condolences to the family and colleagues of Nazar Najarian, a Montreal businessman who was tragically killed, and to all those injured, including a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. We are praying for their speedy recovery.
As we know, much of the city is devastated and in dire need of help. I know that Canadians will answer the call. We will support the people of Lebanon as they work to clear the debris and search for people affected by this tragedy. Throughout their history, Lebanese people have endured great hardships and yet, through their incredible strength and resilience, they have always overcome them. I know that this time the outcome will be no different. Over the coming days, weeks and months, their strength will see them through this latest hardship.
On behalf of my family and the entire Conservative caucus, I would like to offer my deepest condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident in Lebanon. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and we are here to provide any assistance we can to those recovering from this tragedy.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-08-12 12:27 [p.2748]
Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and, if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That the House recognize that reopening businesses and the economy entails taking far more action to support parents, especially women, who are worried about going back to work without knowing their kids will be safely cared for in child care and school, and therefore call on the government to increase its transfer to provinces and territories for affordable child care by $2 billion, transfer funding to provinces and territories to support a safe return to school, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure all federal funds are dedicated to the health and safety of children across the country, while ensuring the transfers to Quebec are unconditional.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-08-12 12:30 [p.2748]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order that was raised on July 21 by the MP for Barrie—Innisfil concerning the fifth and seventh reports of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. The member quoted the NDP's supplementary report, at page 95 of the seventh report, where it said:
...the NDP believes that the scope of this report wavered beyond its boundaries. The committee was tasked with finding solutions for remote participation of members specifically related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some recommendations were outside of those lines, and while the NDP doesn’t disagree with the idea of exploring other options and preparing for the future, it does not consider those to be part of the work the committee was asked to do by the House of Commons.
We would like to clarify the intent of this specific quotation. The House of Commons tasks the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs with finding solutions for the remote participation of members. The seventh report included recommendations related to in-person voting options, which the committee did not oppose, although this was outside of the committee's mandate. It was the inclusion of these in-person options that we were referencing in the supplementary report and that we consider outside of the mandate assigned to the committee by the House.
We believe that all members of Parliament need to be included in the work of the House, including those who are immunocompromised or have loved ones at risk for COVID-19. In-person options do not take the travel that would be required for MPs who live farther from Ottawa into account when considering the risks associated with COVID-19. All members, regardless of where they live, have the right to have their voices, and through them those of their constituents, heard in Parliament. That is why the NDP supports the development of virtual tools so that we can all continue our important work of getting Canadians the help they need.
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Barrie—Innisfil.
When the request to provide security scanners for Canada's embassies came up, KPrime Technologies responded. However, instead of working with this Calgary-based company to provide sensitive security equipment, the Liberals went with a company that is mired in a major international bribery scandal in Taiwan, and that has links to the Chinese government. Here is the kicker: it was done at a higher cost than what my constituent's company would have charged. Why?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the minister is asking us to believe his party, which had no compunction going to the walls for SNC-Lavalin, a company that bribed Moammar Gadhafi's son with prostitutes. He is asking us to believe they knew nothing about a Calgary-based company's legitimate bid to provide sensitive security equipment for embassies, and instead went with a company that, by all intents and purposes, ignores the rules around international bribery scandals.
This is not just about forgetting something. This is ridiculous. When is that review going to be done? It should have been done ahead of time. I want to see it right away, and will it be made public?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2020-08-12 13:15 [p.2756]
Mr. Speaker, it is sort of amazing to hear that member talk about gender parity when the women over there, the most competent ones, all seem to get demoted, booted or have to do the king's dirty work. I do not know, but I guess it is all talk.
I will split my time with the member for Foothills today.
The Liberals are, no doubt, devastating families in Lakeland. There is no federal help for this year's agricultural emergency in my riding, with families facing a third year of damaged crops and a minister who hikes costs on them and dismisses farmers as being emotional. It has been 140 days since the finance minister promised help in hours for oil and gas, but not one application has been made or granted for large employers, not one mid-sized loan has been granted by the BDC, because the conditions are prohibitive, and the methane fund has yet to be launched.
Drillers and oil services are left out, fixed loans will not bridge the year and tens of thousands of Albertans are losing everything in real time, but in two weeks the Liberals were able to approve almost a billion dollars for the Prime Minister's friends at WE, who paid the Prime Minister's family members and campaigned for the Liberals. Moreover, a former Liberal MP recently scored a lucrative contract for ventilators before they were approved by Health Canada.
This is all bad, but what is worse is this: the Liberals' failures and corruption harm Canadian unity. Pierre Trudeau's strategist once said, “Screw the west, we'll take the rest”. It is clear that the second wave just might be worse.
Why are the Liberals intent on sabotaging Alberta?
View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2020-08-12 13:18 [p.2757]
Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister's own department's stats have shown that 10,000 AgriInvest accounts have an account balance of zero and that 73,000 AgriInvest accounts have less than $10,000, yet during this pandemic she is telling Canadian farmers to empty accounts of money that they do not have before she is willing to lift a finger.
When is the agriculture minister going to start doing her job and develop a program specifically for Canadian farm families to help them through this pandemic and protect a vital pillar of our food supply chain?
View John Barlow Profile
CPC (AB)
View John Barlow Profile
2020-08-12 13:19 [p.2757]
Mr. Speaker, I am happy that the minister brought up the Canadian emergency business account. Actually, the Liberals have managed to give more money to their friends at WE in two weeks than they have to an entire industry of agriculture.
The minister knows that she keeps telling farmers to use the CEBA and that is all they are going to need. She knows most farmers do not qualify for that program because they use personal business accounts and most of their expenses do not qualify for the CEBA program.
When is the minister going to stop making excuses, stop finding every way possible not to help Canadian farmers, and expand the eligibility criteria for CEBA so that these farmers can access this program?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
2020-08-12 13:52 [p.2762]
Mr. Chair, I will split my time with the member for Souris—Moose Mountain.
In January, we began asking questions about the government's handling of the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile. As we all know in the House, the government was slow. It was slow to develop any plan, including one to ensure that Canadians have immediate access to treatments and a vaccine when one is developed. In fact, Health Canada is currently struggling to lock down a supply of the only Health Canada-approved treatment.
Why is that? It is because, like the government's approach to borders, like its approach to PPE and like its approach to getting support to Canadians, the Liberals simply had no plan.
I will ask the minister today: What is the government's plan to ensure that Canadians will have access to the first scientifically proven treatment or vaccine?
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
CPC (AB)
View Matt Jeneroux Profile
2020-08-12 13:54 [p.2763]
Mr. Chair, Conservatives called on the government to shut down our borders to travellers as early as January. It took the government well into March to actually listen and put the health and safety of Canadians first. While we continue to support keeping our borders closed to travellers, Canadians have been separated from family members for months, with no end in sight.
Is the government working on a compassionate plan to expand the current definition of family, prioritize the health and safety of Canadians and ensure our borders remain closed to travellers?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2020-08-12 16:14 [p.2785]
Mr. Speaker, it has become clear that the Liberals are using the pandemic to shut down accountability and transparency, potentially to usher in big government dependency, while targeted support is not actually getting to Canadians who desperately need it.
In over five years, no province has borne the brunt of the Liberals' divisive, anti-business, anti-energy, anti-resource policies more than Alberta. The Liberals outright campaigned against Albertans and the oil and gas in 2019. Now the government is using COVID-19 to finish what it started, the destruction of Canadian oil and gas. What is crazy is that the finance minister and the natural resources minister keep acknowledging how bad it is for Canadian oil and gas now that the OPEC cartel has dropped prices, disproportionately harming Canadian energy. While demand has declined due to the pandemic, with no plan to go forward for Canadian energy, and the programs they have promised to help are complete failures, Albertans can be forgiven for concluding that the lack of support is by design or intentional.
Eighty-five days after the finance minister promised help in “hours or days”, the specific help for small and medium-sized oil and gas companies has never actually happened, but just got merged into a generic mid-sized loan program. However, a medium-sized company needs $100 million in annual revenue to qualify for the program. I guess the Liberals have a different definition of a medium-sized business than the rest of us do, or are completely oblivious to the damage in the sector so far. Even if a company does qualify, the interest rate is higher than that of the banks.
The large employer program has interest rates that rise to 15% by year five, which are payday loan rates, not emergency assistance. Furthermore, the small business loan amounts are too small for oil and gas suppliers, and when drillers face one or two years of zero revenue, short-term and fixed loans are really of no use.
The $1.7 billion for orphaned wells is a drop in the bucket meant to create 5,000 jobs for a sector that has lost more than 200,000 jobs since 2015 and 20,000 since the pandemic started, with no end in sight. Orphaned wells have increased by 300% since 2015, precisely because of Liberal policies that have bankrupted operators.
The Liberals put the big banks in charge of applying for most of the BDC and EDC COVID programs, but banks are refusing because of the risk-sharing provisions, or to avoid doing work with a program from which they will not profit.
The reality is that Liberal ministers have been told all of this directly, repeatedly, privately and publicly, so their lack of action seems intentional and malicious. These Liberals are either oblivious or do not care about the damage they are doing to the fabric of our country, giving billions of Canadian tax dollars to their elite cronies and entitled, connected buddies, or benefiting Liberal friends or families, while everyday Canadians are struggling.
On a personal note, let me say that it is incredibly sad that as their federal representative, often the first thing I hear my constituents say to me these days is that it is time for Alberta to leave Canada. It is not just that of a vocal minority, but a growing view in Lakeland, and I believe it is my duty to express the scale and scope of that frustration and anger. People are not just talking about the concept, but about the mechanics, which should be particularly troubling given the unprecedented health, fiscal and economic crisis Alberta faces now. I guess it does not make the news because we are from a rural area or the Prairies, which is easy to ignore in Ottawa, but these Liberals have destroyed the faith of many Albertans in the federal government to the extent they have given up on the idea of Canada. That should shake every person in this chamber and everyone listening. It did not happen overnight, but it accumulated after five years of targeted attacks on Lakeland and Alberta, on federal jobs in my riding, on the oil and gas sector, on rural communities, on farmers and farm families. Cutting so many Albertans out of COVID-19 emergency supports is only the latest example.
From day one, the Liberals have gone out of their way to destroy livelihoods in Lakeland and Alberta, ignoring hundreds of thousands of job losses, spikes in bankruptcies, suicides and family breakdowns. They are sacrificing families and the future of their children for ideology and partisan gain.
There is a serious agricultural emergency in Lakeland after an early snow trapped crops in the field last fall. This year's spring harvest was followed by excessive rains that flooded fields, prevented seeding or drowned crops, wiping out farm incomes for a third straight year. Liberal-caused uncertainty in export markets and the pandemic made things even more complicated for all producers. To make matters worse, the Liberals hiked their carbon tax by 50% on April 1, right in the middle of the pandemic, increasing costs for farmers who did manage to get their crops off the field and making literally everything more expensive in every sector of agriculture.
Of course, no industry has endured the single-minded sabotage and vilification of the Liberal government like oil and gas. The Prime Minister tells the world he wants to phase out Canada's most valuable export and largest private sector investor in the economy. The Liberals blocked, delayed and cancelled infrastructure for Canadian oil and gas, not for the benefit of the planet, because Canadian oil and gas is the most socially and environmentally responsible in the world, but in order to burnish the Prime Minister's celebrity status in the global jet-setting United Nations crowd. It makes no sense.
Developing all of Canada's resources and exporting Canadian natural gas will do far more to address global environmental challenges than anything the Liberals have imposed on Canada, and in particular on the prairies.
After the 2019 election, Liberal campaigners admitted they vilified the oil and gas sector. They put their electoral gain ahead of the country. Clearly, the Prime Minister has learned from his father's campaign tactics. As Pierre Trudeau's strategist said when justifying the pillaging of Alberta's earnings, “Screw the West, we'll take the rest.”
Liberal cabinet ministers and Liberal MPs actively campaign against opportunities for Albertans that would benefit all of Canada, such as the Teck Frontier project, and have supported funding pipeline protesters and petitioned against oil and gas projects that would benefit Alberta and all of Canada. It has created an inherent animosity that goes even beyond changing this Prime Minister and this government.
The Liberals and the establishment's ambivalence to the thousands of mom-and-pop oil and gas suppliers shutting down in western Canada in real time, the lack of long-term assistance measures, the domino effect for financial support for producers to get drilling started again have been heard loud and clear in Lakeland, make no mistake.
For the first time since 1965, Alberta will receive more money from the federal government in 2020 than it sends. For 55 continuous years, wealth generated by Alberta strengthened the rest of Canada. The NEP in the 1980s under Pierre Trudeau took the most, at over $30 billion a year, which has since declined, but since 2005, Alberta contributed more than $20 billion a year than it received, which is more than any other province. Structural changes are needed to make Canada work for Alberta and to level the playing field. It would be good for all of Canada to value all of the regions in our country.
The Liberals are using COVID-19 as a so-called opportunity to re-engineer Canada's economy in ways that will further alienate and impoverish the west, and they are supported by their allies on the left.
Alberta punches above its weight in Canada. It is not an accident of geography or natural resources or demographics. It is not a coincidence. It is because generations of Albertans and Albertans by choice created an advantage by combining hard work, innovation, personal responsibility and free-market principles and policies to create private sector opportunities and a growing economy that attracted the best, the brightest and the youngest from all across Canada and the world to work and raise their families. It is free markets and free enterprise policies that propelled Alberta's economy to create nine out of every 10 new full-time jobs in Canada as recently as 2014 and to be a net contributor to Canada continuously for more than half a century.
The worst damage has always been done by federal intrusions into Alberta's natural resources policy, such as the NEP and now the dismantling of oil and gas through bills like Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, the blocking of pipelines, other regulations and roadblocks, barriers to exploration and to drilling, the carbon tax and now the failure of COVID support programs. Other provinces and regions have similar natural resource assets and opportunities, but they have not taken the same approach. It was the private sector and Alberta's entrepreneurial risk-taking innovation, combined with positive federal and provincial fiscal policies, that unlocked remarkable opportunities in Alberta for all of Canada.
After the 2015 election, in my first words in the House of Commons, I said, “A strong Alberta means a strong Canada.” It is really a tragedy for my riding and for our country that the Liberals have done everything they can to undermine that reality. On election night, the Prime Minister said he heard Alberta and that he would do better. He has not. My constituents are watching everything they built for generations collapse in front of them, and the federal government keeps asking them to sacrifice more by accepting one more review, one more regulation and one more tax. It is suffocating Lakeland, and because of Alberta's outside contribution to Canada, it will suffocate Canada's economic recovery.
The perspective that Canada does not work for Alberta is unfortunately pervasive in Lakeland. As elected representatives, we owe a duty of more than platitudes about our positions on industries, laws and taxes, more than politics for personal and partisan gain. This is obvious to freedom-loving Albertans and Albertans by choice. In Lakeland, it is a self-evident truth that the status quo is neither acceptable nor sustainable.
If anything I have said in the chamber today makes colleagues angry or uncomfortable, I hope it weighs on them. I hope it keeps them up at night, like it does me. I hope they stop enabling and helping the most corrupt, entitled and out-of-touch Prime Minister, who is doing all this damage to our country.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2020-08-12 16:27 [p.2787]
Mr. Speaker, I guess that captures the irreconcilable difference we may reach. I would invite the member to come to Lakeland and try that baloney on any one of my constituents. The point I am trying to make is that the sentiment I outlined in my remarks crosses demographics, crosses ages and crosses partisan lines.
This concept that the country is not working and needs to either get a better deal for Alberta or explore other options is being talked about in my very rural and very Conservative riding of Lakeland by people who voted NDP in the last two provincial elections and by people who voted Liberal in the 2015 election. They have come up to me and told me that. I would suggest that the response from the senior member, a person who has been here for a long time, to stand up to yell at me and berate me, suggesting that what I have said is invalid and not true, is exactly the problem.
I am a first-generation Albertan, actually. My mother was from Newfoundland and my father was from Nova Scotia, just so the member understands the personal context. His comment that the government has given more money to Albertans than other governments before, or whatever it is, which is just like when the Liberals promised they were going to be the most transparent and accountable government in the history of the universe, is a fundamental misunderstanding of what people in my riding want out of the country and a fundamental misunderstanding of the way they hope government operates.
I only speak on behalf of Albertans in Lakeland, although I suspect some of my colleagues from the province would say the same thing. Albertans in Lakeland just want to be able to do their work, live their lives and contribute to Canada, but it is the current federal government, through successive policies, laws, tax hikes, global messages and domestic messages, that has blocked oil and gas development in Alberta and caused alienation and frustration. No amount of peacocking, yelling, screaming, shouting me down and berating me will change that fact. People better get that message and get it quickly, because it is these Liberals, and their anti-energy, anti-Alberta, anti-west leftist allies, who are putting the country at risk. They need to look at themselves in the mirror for the sentiment I am speaking about on behalf of the people who sent me here to do this job.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2020-08-12 16:31 [p.2788]
Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree. I think the Prime Minister, the cabinet and every Liberal member who enable mix-ups; scandal after scandal; ethics investigation after ethics investigation, which have literally never happened in the history of our country; and who cover for them; read off their notes; and do the dirty work for the kings demonstrate, like the member said, over and over again that there is one standard or rule for the Liberals and some benefits only for them, though only certain things the Liberals can take advantage of, and then there is the reality for everyone else.
I also want to thank the member and acknowledge his raising of this issue of indigenous businesses. In Lakeland, some of the businesses and communities that are hurt disproportionately because of the destructive anti-energy policies and programs of the last five years and the failure of the current COVID-19 programs are first nations and Métis communities. Among the barrage of reports of businesses collapsing at an exponentially increasing rate over the last several months, one situation was that a first nations-owned energy-producing company and community stopped producing for the first time in its history in my riding of Lakeland.
When I am talking about the COVID-19 programs' failure to support oil and gas businesses, I am also talking about COVID-19 programs' failure to support indigenous businesses and workers. For the first time, this community now has to figure out a way to cover its costs when it used to cover all of its programs and community services by its own source of revenue from its energy company. Now, it faces a completely uncertain future and an utter fiscal crisis.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-08-12 16:34 [p.2788]
Mr. Speaker, I do not think the debate is about who is and is not federalist and who is and is not nationalist. The sentiment in Alberta, and all members of the House from Alberta know, is strongly against the government. What adds fuel to the fire is the scandals that the government is going through.
Can the member for Lakeland tell us how this is contributing to the position of Albertans when it comes to the government?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
CPC (AB)
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2020-08-12 16:34 [p.2788]
Mr. Speaker, it is huge. It is exactly part of the problem. Albertans cannot understand why the government roadblocks or harms them, yet has billions of Albertans' very own tax dollars that they generated to hand out to the Liberals' buddies, cronies, spouses, family members, husbands or dogs. I do not know what will be next.
One of the saddest things, getting back to what my Liberal colleague said to me earlier, is that it absolutely is a direct result of the Liberal government, this collapsing faith within Alberta, in the structures of the country. When I go to Atlantic Canada, for example, the people are deeply concerned by what is happening in Alberta, because it impacts them.
I remember the United We Roll convoy that came to Ottawa. While the Liberals were suggesting that they were racists and bigots, what was actually happening was that people from Ontario towns were coming out and giving out pie and Tim Hortons and waving flags. There were people from right across the country.
British Columbians want the pipeline, even though their governments pretend—
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-08-12 16:53 [p.2791]
Mr. Speaker, I also am a teacher by training and also have children I have spent an awful lot of time with over the last several months.
One of the questions I had is about going forward and looking at how we support provinces and the education system.
Would the member feel it would be appropriate to ensure that we have minimum standards put in place to make sure Canadian children are protected in child care and school settings across the country equally, and that we are making sure people in all parts of the country are getting the exact same support?
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-22 12:36 [p.2706]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood.
The website iwanttohelp.org is the platform set up for Canadians to apply for the Canada student service grant. When Canadians apply on iwanttohelp.org, is their information kept on Canadian servers?
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-22 12:37 [p.2706]
Mr. Speaker, I hope that answer will also include whether or not the information is on government servers.
With what the government is saying with respect to WE, it either has a deeply flawed decision-making process for billion-dollar projects or it routinely allows billion-dollar conflicts of interest to simply slip by. Either possibility is troubling. My question is for the finance minister: Which is it?
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-22 12:38 [p.2707]
Mr. Speaker, I think it is unfortunate that the Liberal government and Liberal politicians seem to be quick to throw hard-working public servants under the bus.
I have heard from a number of farmers and certified seed growers in my constituency who are concerned about the prospect of what are called “trailing seed royalties”. Can the Minister of Agriculture commit to full consults with producers on this issue?
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-22 12:51 [p.2709]
Mr. Speaker, in the finance committee, just moments ago, there were allegations that WE has transferred data to the Liberal Party of Canada. When they were asked, WE officials refused to actually answer the question, so I am going to ask specifically again: At any time, has WE or any of its entities sent data to the Liberal Party of Canada, yes or no?
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-22 12:51 [p.2709]
Mr. Speaker, I am actually referring to testimony that just happened at the finance committee, where it has been alleged by one of the witnesses that WE has transferred information, the personal data of Canadians, to the Liberal Party of Canada. When WE was asked about this directly, it refused to answer, just like the government is refusing to answering.
Can we have a clear answer? Can we shine some light on this issue? Yes or no, has the Liberal Party of Canada ever received the data of Canadians from WE?
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-22 12:52 [p.2709]
Mr. Speaker, it is either a yes or a no. The fact that the Liberals are refusing to respond with a no means that the answer is obviously yes.
Therefore, my question is this: How much information has the government received from WE, and when did it receive it?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Abbotsford.
Per section 25 of the Investment Canada Act, has the minister notified Huawei of his intent to conduct a national security review of Huawei's announced prospective investment?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, per section 25 of the Investment Canada Act, has the minister notified Huawei of his intent to conduct a national security review, yes or no?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, on what precise date did the minister notify Huawei of the intention to conduct a national security review?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the reason I am asking these questions is that the process I am referring to only has a 45-day window to complete the national security review and provide a recommendation with regard to the project.
Did the Prime Minister include the Time Limits and Other Periods Act in Bill C-20 as a way to kick the Huawei decision down the road for another six months?
View Michelle Rempel Garner Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, does the minister intend to use the Time Limits and Other Periods Act provisions in Bill C-20 to kick the Huawei decision down the road for another six months?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 13:11 [p.2712]
Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with the member for Vancouver Kingsway.
Child care is essential for restarting our economy. Women have been the hardest hit by COVID-19, and they are the ones who will bear the greatest burden when it comes to child and family care. Any economic recovery must include a rigorous child care plan.
Will the government help women get back to work by committing to invest $2.5 billion in child care this year?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 13:12 [p.2712]
Madam Chair, that is not $2.5 billion.
Quality, affordable child care was difficult to secure in Alberta even before the pandemic. Providing families with guaranteed, safe, standardized and affordable child care could dramatically help Albertans.
Will the minister commit to an ongoing child care program, like the Canada Health Act, that ensures quality, affordable child care is available to all Canadians, no matter where they live?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 13:13 [p.2713]
Madam Chair, in Alberta, provincial support for child care during the first two months of the pandemic was ranked as the worst in Canada. It is vital that all federal funds that go to provinces must go toward creating affordable universally accessible child care.
How can we make sure that Jason Kenney and the UCP will use the federal dollars provided to create new, affordable child care spaces?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2020-07-22 13:17 [p.2713]
Madam Chair, I will be sharing my time with the dean of our caucus, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
I have a question from Darryl in my riding, who runs a small business. When he looked at the CEWS program, he noticed that the information provided on the website would make it more difficult and more complex for him to hire more people. Let me explain. The program requires a company to have reporting periods. If he hires a person on the 15th day, he does not get any money from the 1st to the 14th days. That is usually not a problem, as we do not pay a business when it is not hiring people, but it means that if he hires someone after the middle of the reporting period, he misses out on two weeks to support those wages.
My question is for the finance minister. Will the changes in Bill C-20 address this issue?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2020-07-22 13:18 [p.2714]
Madam Chair, Darryl would say that you don't need a calculator but a degree in quantum computing to understand what is inside Bill C-20 and how it changes the CEWS program.
I want to know something for his specific situation, which is in example 22 on the website. Perhaps there have been temporary layoffs or furloughed employees, or there are employees on shifts. If they do not work for two weeks, their entire wage for the 30-day reporting period is not eligible if a business brings them back, which is a real pain for businesses that are trying to keep their operations going.
Again, to the finance minister, do the changes in Bill C-20 address this particular business issue?
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-22 13:35 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, I will be sharing my time with the member for Edmonton Manning.
On April 22, the Prime Minister announced funding for the Canada student grant program. On April 23, one day later, the grant was promised to the WE organization and his close personal friend. Therefore, we know it pays to be friends with members in the government.
We can contrast that with the promise the Minister of Finance made to the oil and gas industry. It has been 99 days and still nothing. Where is the support?
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-22 13:37 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, let me make it clear who the question is for: the Minister of Finance. It has been nearly 100 days. It is not assistance if employers cannot or will not be able to access programs. The oil and gas sector needed assistance before the pandemic. Things have only worsened.
What do my constituents in Alberta need to do to get assistance?
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-22 13:38 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, to the Minister of Environment, to make matters worse the Liberals are saying projects have to reach net-zero by 2050 in order to be approved. As oil and gas begins what will be a long and difficult recovery, the Liberals are once again causing uncertainty, shifting money and jobs to the other oil-producing nations.
I will ask again: Where is the support for this crucial industry?
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-22 13:38 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, on the sole-source contract for the WE organization, has the government secured the data for the students and teachers, and where is that data?
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-22 13:39 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, I am not asking about that. I am asking a specific question. Yes or no: Is there an area in the contract where the data of Canadians is protected?
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-22 13:39 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, I ask the minister to tell us, in the contract between the government and the WE Charity, if the data of thousands of Canadians, students and teachers, is protected. Is it yes or no?
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-22 13:40 [p.2717]
Madam Chair, was the Prime Minister aware of the vast real estate investment or real estate holdings of the WE organization?
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-22 13:41 [p.2718]
Madam Chair, is the minister aware the WE organization has zero experience managing a contract of $900-plus million?
View Mike Lake Profile
CPC (AB)
View Mike Lake Profile
2020-07-22 14:02 [p.2721]
Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here today. I heard you earlier reference the House as being very emotional and tense. It is no wonder, after I watched the last interaction and the one before that with the Bloc member and the Liberal House leader, where she raised legitimate concerns that we are all hearing from our constituents about this scandal and a billion dollars, of taxpayers' dollars that was not managed appropriately. It was written off as a conspiracy theory. It would be interesting, certainly to my constituents and Canadians across the country, to know that their government views these legitimate concerns as a conspiracy theory.
I wonder if the Prime Minister would speak and tell the House whether he holds the same view that he held as opposition leader in 2013, when he tweeted, “RT to call on the Prime Minister to testify on the PMO Ethics Scandal under oath.”
Does the Prime Minister hold the same view he held then?
View Mike Lake Profile
CPC (AB)
View Mike Lake Profile
2020-07-22 14:04 [p.2721]
Mr. Speaker, we know that the Prime Minister remains focused on some Canadians, at least.
Back in 2013, again as the opposition leader, he tweeted, “Take a minute to raise the bar on openness and transparency.” Clicking on that link led to a Liberal fundraising site where there were links to the Laurier Club and something called the “victory fund”. On that page, he said, “Canadians know the difference between right and wrong. Now I want your ideas on how we can ensure that our representatives in Ottawa play by the same rules as everyone else.”
I am wondering if someone on that side, perhaps the Prime Minister, can tell us whether anybody who does not donate to the Liberal Party has the same opportunity for input.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 14:19 [p.2724]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge and thank the member for her service to this country as a veteran. As such, I would like to ask the member for her perspective as a veteran in this country if she feels that $600 is sufficient to meet the needs of our most honoured Canadians, our veterans who are living with disabilities.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-22 14:24 [p.2724]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's speech.
It was just revealed at the finance committee that the Minister of Finance took a free trip from the WE organization last summer. I would note that it is not permissible to do sponsored travel while one is in cabinet. The minister just paid back the expenses for that trip today, on the day he was scheduled to testify before the finance committee.
Does the Liberal member across the way have any comments on how she feels about such a blatant contravention of the rules by her finance minister?
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:10 [p.2731]
Madam Chair, I would like to start my comments today by thanking the Government of Canada for bringing forward the legislation this week. I thank the members of the government for listening to and working with our leader, and with me and the New Democratic Party.
During this period of unprecedented upheaval and insecurity, it is vitally important that all parties, all politicians and, indeed, all Canadians work together to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that it is only through our collective work that we can ensure that no one will be left behind and no one will fall through the cracks, and that we can rebuild our country and our communities in the months and years ahead.
There are great pieces in the most recent legislation, and I thank all parliamentarians for passing this bill. Nearly two million Canadians living with a disability will finally get support; small businesses will have more protection under the wage subsidy program; and people who mistakenly accessed the CERB will not have to worry about facing punitive actions.
I also want to applaud the members of the House for their flexibility and accommodating spirit that have allowed us to continue the important work of democracy in the face of COVID-19. We have had to be creative and nimble in the face of a reality that has turned our collective ways of working on their head. Our normal way of doing things was impossible; and, all things considered, we have done an admirable job of representing our constituents, working hard for Canadians and ensuring that our COVID-19 response was one we could all be proud of.
However, let us not forget that we could have avoided so much stress and uncertainty over the past four and a half months. We could have implemented a universal support system that would have ensured that every Canadian was protected. That is what the NDP called for, and it would have gotten more help to more people, faster. It would have meant that people living with disabilities would not have had to wait over 130 days to get the support they desperately needed. It would have meant that students and recent graduates would not have had to bear the terrible burden of not knowing how they were going to afford to go to school in the fall and, let us be honest, it would have made the embarrassing spectacle that we are currently looking at with the government giving money to a certain foundation unnecessary. It would have made life easier. It would have made it less stressful for workers, families and seniors, and it certainly would have been a more elegant and simpler solution compared with the bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece rollout of support we have experienced.
I do want to talk a bit about some of my concerns with the COVID response and some of the things we need to continue to look at going forward.
First, we heard for weeks on end from the Prime Minister that people living with disabilities would get the help they needed to get through this pandemic. Then, when the government finally did bring a motion forward, it managed to leave out the majority of Canadians living with disabilities. The current government is very good at making promises. It is very good at announcing solutions. The only problem appears to be actually delivering on these promises.
This week, the government has brought forward a new program to help people living with disabilities, but once again it is not sufficient. It still leaves out many Canadians who need the support. The NDP voted for this legislation because it means that thousands more people in ridings like Edmonton Strathcona will get the help they desperately need, but once again too many people living with disabilities are being left out. The government must commit to working with the provinces to ensure that every Canadian who is living with a disability is protected and can live in dignity. Dignity is not negotiable. Dignity is a right of every Canadian, and people living with disabilities deserve no less.
My riding is also home to hundreds of small, independent businesses: restaurants, bars, creative shops, things that are not found anywhere else in the world. These businesses are crucial to our local economy, and I am worried that many of these shops that make Edmonton Strathcona feel like home are not going to exist in a few weeks. So many of these businesses, including the salons, the tattoo shops, the dance studios, clothing stores and gift shops could have benefited from the Canada emergency business account program, but they could not access those loans due to their business and employment structure. When the changes came, they were too little and too late.
The commercial rent assistance program has been a demoralizing experience for so many small business owners in my riding. For example, every day for the past three months I have heard from people like Claire, who owns a wellness clinic. She is eligible for the CECRA program, but her landlord refuses to participate. Too many landlords like Claire's simply refuse to access the program, as it would take money out of their pockets.
Commercial rent assistance is a critical piece of this puzzle, and if the assistance had gone directly to tenants and businesses, rather than to landlords, we could have saved thousands of small businesses. Now those businesses may be gone. Those business owners' dreams are over and their employees are looking for work.
Within two days of the pandemic being declared, the government made tremendous efforts to ensure the liquidity of our financial system, guarantee export contracts and underwrite risks for very large businesses in Canada. We should have used that same initiative to support our small businesses.
My riding of Edmonton Strathcona is home to a number of universities, colleges, post-secondary institutions and campuses. The University of Alberta is the largest. It has a long and illustrious history of being a Canadian university that we can all be proud of. It is, in fact, the university that I am an alumni of, like many members of the House. However, the impacts of COVID-19 on universities and colleges in Alberta are dire. For example, the University of Alberta currently has an infrastructure deficit of over $1 billion. With COVID-19 impacting tuition, revenue opportunities are important. Post-secondary institutions are at risk.
Let us not forget the students who attend these devastated institutions. Students and recent graduates need the support now. Actually, they needed that support in April. Do not forget that students and the Canadian Federation of Students have been asking since April for the federal government not to forget Canada's millions of students and recent graduates left behind during this crisis. This group noted that the Canadian youth unemployment rate reached an all-time high of 29.4% in May. August is a few days away. Students cannot afford to wait for more bungled programs that pay less than minimum wage. Let us find a way to ensure that students on the CESB receive $2,000 a month, the bare minimum given to every other struggling person in Canada.
I want to thank the government for creating the Canadian emergency response benefit and for working with the other parties to include more people in the CERB. It has been a lifesaver for thousands of people in my riding, as I am sure it has been for thousands in every riding across this country, but we still have people who have been left out.
Yesterday, I tabled a petition in the House calling on the government to allow people who voluntarily leave their employment due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns to access the CERB. Canadians have the right to refuse unsafe work. That is fundamental, but do they really have the ability to refuse unsafe work?
COVID-19 has changed our understanding of the workplace. In my province of Alberta we saw the devastating impacts of the virus, as workers have been forced to work in unsafe conditions. Hundreds of meat packers became sick with COVID-19 and three people died as a result.
Is this what Canada is about, forcing people to choose between their health, the health of their families and paying the bills? In March, the Minister of Finance said that people who were uncomfortable with the safety of their workplaces could apply for CERB, but that is not the case. In May, the deputy prime minister responded to my question on this matter saying that “no Canadian worker at any time should feel obliged to go to work in unsafe conditions”, but we know that that is not the case either. The Canada emergency response benefit should exist to help everyone.
Like so many Canadians, I am excited about the future of our country. We have an opportunity right now to restart. We have an opportunity to build back better, to create a Canada where all Canadians have support and the opportunities they need to thrive, a more equal Canada, a more just Canada that does not privilege corporate interests and big business, but instead protects workers and their families, that taxes the ultra-wealthy and does not allow our corporations to hide wealth in offshore accounts.
Let us build a Canada that finally respects our indigenous people and commits to UNDRIP and to true, meaningful reconciliation. Let us build a Canada that recognizes the racism that our racialized brothers and sisters face every day in this country and do what needs to be done to finally fix the systematic, institutionalized structural violence in our country. Let us build a Canada that takes climate change seriously—
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:21 [p.2733]
Madam Chair, I feel like we have done a really great job. We have tried to do the best we can. However, I will say one thing: I think there was a simpler, more elegant solution, and that was a universal benefit that was available for all people who needed it. That could have been rolled out very quickly.
I understand these are unprecedented times. This is incredibly challenging as we go forward, but the solution is clear. The solution is not supposed to be about how we can keep people from getting help. The solution is supposed to be about how we can get more people help, and get that help faster. That is what we really would have liked to see.
However, I agree that we have seen parties from across the floor, and throughout the House, work together to do what they can to help their constituents. I firmly believe that members of Parliament in the House of Commons have worked as hard as they can for the people of Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they should be proud of their efforts.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:23 [p.2733]
Madam Chair, it is curious to me, because it seems like there was a very simple solution proposed and not accepted.
My only thinking is that perhaps the end goal was to limit who was able to access the benefits for COVID-19 and to limit who was able to benefit from these programs. That is very sad. That is very disappointing, because we know that when this pandemic hit, within only a couple of weeks people were not able to buy their groceries. People were not able to pay their rent. People were not able to pay their employees, and yet the inequality in our country meant that we also had people making billions and billions of dollars.
To me, that was the real catch: We do not necessarily need to protect big business. We do not need to protect the very, very wealthy. We need to protect the workers. We need to protect Canadians. We need to protect the families in our communities.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:25 [p.2734]
Madam Chair, I also feel very honoured to work with my colleague, who is such a leader in our community.
I am thankful for the opportunity to talk a little more and say some of the things I did not get to say earlier. I wanted to include in my final statement that I want to be part of a government that builds back a Canada that takes climate change seriously by creating a diversified, strong economy and that protects workers and their families while creating a climate for our children and grandchildren.
At every critical moment in our history, we have seen what a Parliament that cares for and listens to its people can do in a crisis, but we should not need there to be a crisis to act. Over the coming months and years, we have an opportunity to build a better Canada, a Canada where everyone can live in dignity, a fair and just Canada. I am here to do this work with members for my constituents in Edmonton Strathcona, for people in Alberta and for all people in Canada.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:27 [p.2734]
Madam Chair, could I ask the member to repeat that? I could not hear over—
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:27 [p.2734]
Unfortunately, Madam Chair, no, that is not where that came from. In fact, we have been working within the NDP to develop what our strategy would look like for a new and better Canada.
I acknowledge what the member has said, and this is something we have heard from a number of different areas. One area I am particularly passionate about is our obligation around the world. When we build back better, one of the things we may want to consider is how we can support people around the world. Canada can take a stronger role in the world, making sure, as we go forward, that we recognize that until COVID is addressed all around the world, COVID will be addressed nowhere in the world.
We need a strong commitment to 1% of COVID spending going to our efforts overseas. I have worked very closely with other members of the House in asking for this.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:29 [p.2734]
Madam Chair, that is an incredibly important question, and the work the member has done on this file has been phenomenal.
We know there can be no recovery without a child care strategy. We cannot leave women behind in our economic recovery from COVID-19. The NDP is asking, and many other groups are also asking, for $2.5 billion to be put into a strategy for child care for this year. We are asking for that because we need to make sure that when our economy opens up, women can participate fully by being in their workplaces and not bearing the undue burdens of child care.
I am a mother. I have two children, who are awesome, and I can say that child care is something we all need to be looking at. It is very important to me that we look at it as a child care act, not something that we allow the provinces to run themselves, but something that we have strings attached to.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-22 15:45 [p.2737]
Madam Chair, I would like to thank the member for her comments and the tireless work that she does for her constituents in Ottawa.
I have a quick question for her. As much as we have seen the CERB help so many Canadians across the country, of course I would have preferred a more universal system. When will we know what the government's plan is, going forward, with regard to the CERB program? It is set to expire in August, and I just want to know if we expect our constituents to wait until the very last minute to find out what that looks like, or whether we will be able to hear sooner what the plans are to continue the CERB to help those people who have not been able to recover yet from COVID-19.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-22 16:01 [p.2739]
Madam Chair, in the scandal we are examining today, with all the testimony and the latest $41,000 the Minister of Finance accepted in 2017 from this organization, does the member think that those in the capacity of the Minister of Finance or the Prime Minister of Canada would look to see what would happen if they had family ties to, and were getting paid money from, an organization that is benefiting from the government and taxpayers, from public funds, basically? Does he think there would be simple due diligence? Would someone who is professional like some of the ministers and the Prime Minister not think, at least for a moment, to watch the public funds and make sure that proper due diligence is done so that we do not get into this problem we see today? I would like the hon. colleague to comment on this.
View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-07-21 10:13 [p.2652]
Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House today to bring forward a very important petition.
As Canada, and indeed the entire world, slowly reopens its economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that workers are protected.
Across Canada, we have already seen examples where companies have put their profits ahead of the safety and health of their workers. Whether it is a migrant worker in Ontario or meat-packing plant workers in my home province of Alberta, workers' rights to a safe environment must be protected, and the ability of workers to continue to support themselves and their families is a key piece of a successful reopening.
The petitioners note, as provinces increase the list of businesses that can reopen, that many front-line workers may not feel safe returning to work for many reasons, including an inability to physically distance or higher risks for individuals and their families. They call on the government to amend the CERB eligibility requirements to include workers who cannot return to their jobs voluntarily due to concerns related to COVID-19.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-21 10:27 [p.2654]
Mr. Speaker, what is the number of disability payment recipients in Canada now?
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-21 10:28 [p.2654]
Mr. Speaker, the disability tax credit application is quite arduous. I am not sure if the member has had a chance to go through that with some of her constituents, but it is a very heavy bureaucratic process and does take time.
I am wondering if she is aware of that process, the challenges that many Canadians have in applying for that credit and the fact that those who are either in the midst of applying or do not qualify are being left behind by aspects of this legislation.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-21 11:37 [p.2664]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour once again to rise in the House and enter into debate. It is good to be back in Parliament, regardless of the time of year. Even though summer is not normally a time Parliament sits, we have important business to do, so it is good to be back.
In my 10-minute speech, I hope to cover a whole range of subjects, but I want to bring up something that constituents talk to me on a regular basis about, and that is the deterioration in trust that has taken place between Canadians and their government.
On October 21, Canadians sent a minority Liberal government to Ottawa and a strong Conservative opposition and two other parties. Throughout the last number of months, we have not seen an attitude from the Liberal government that it has clearly had its hand slapped by Canadians for a series of ethical failings, among other things. Rather, we have seen a government that clearly seems to want to maintain an aura of not just majority rule, but one in which the current Prime Minister also feels he has a divine right to rule this country in whatever regard he feels according to the whim of the day.
That has caused a deterioration in trust. What I hear from constituents time and again every day, whether by email or phone or when stopped in a grocery store, is that there has been a deterioration in trust between Canadians and the institutions of government. That trust is a sacred thing. It builds the very foundation of what our democratic process is all about.
We have seen a number of ethical violations. In fact, the current Prime Minister is the only prime minister to have been found guilty of ethics violations not once, not twice, but now one that would seem to be well on his way to a third violation. Yet we have seen investigations stymied and documents not being released and cabinet confidences not being waived, although I note that the parliamentary secretary to the House leader made an impassioned defence of why the Prime Minister did not mislead the House earlier, saying instead that they took unprecedented action to release everything.
The facts simply speak for themselves. There is so much more to the story than what we are learning. We find ourselves in the midst of the WE scandal. We find once again that the Prime Minister does not know the line. He seems to wander back and forth between politics and government, and even seeing his family and friends benefit from the power entrusted to the government to govern the country. That is causing an erosion of the sacred trust that exists between the institution of government, including the House, and Canadians.
It is increasingly clear, and I certainly hear about it on a daily basis, that trust has been lost. In fact, in question period yesterday, I asked the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth if she knew about the Prime Minister's conflict of interest. It was not an hour after question period that an article came out revealing that she had met with WE only a few days prior to this announcement. That deterioration of trust is having a significant impact.
I have the honour of sitting on the ethics committee, where we saw something truly unprecedented. There was a quite simple motion to say that we should shine the light on this scandal and get the information we need, yet we saw government members of that committee filibuster and try to shut down the proceedings. Canadians expect better from their government. I wrote down a number of quotes and checked the minutes of the meeting afterward, and a lot of the things the government members said show a stunning level of hypocrisy.
I will be splitting my time with one of my hon. colleagues from Quebec, and I will not try to pronounce his riding's name out of respect for the French language. I appreciate the reminder to say that.
We have a government that is being rocked by another ethics scandal.
With respect to the bill we are debating today, I have heard a number of the members opposite say that it is all the fault of the Conservatives. In fact, it is probably Stephen Harper. That seems to be the thing they say most regularly. I see the parliamentary secretary to the House leader is probably preparing a question right now. When we were faced with a pandemic that changed the way all of us, all Canadians, and pretty much everybody around the world, lived our daily lives, instead of rising to the challenge regarding where we were as a parliament, we saw a shutting down of Parliament.
The members opposite have said very clearly that we have asked more questions now than we ever have, and it is probably Stephen Harper's fault again. What is very clear is that the government emphasizes style over substance. We admit there were a lot of questions, and we were happy to work within the context of ensuring there was democratic accountability. However, we saw a shutdown of all other aspects of Parliament, including committees. In fact, it was only a few days ago that we saw the opening up of a few other committees.
The ethics committee only met for the first time this past Friday, after a break of a number of months. When I tell my constituents that I am on the ethics committee, their first comment is that it must be really busy or they ask if the Prime Minister actually allows it to do anything. It is unfortunate. I will note that shortly after the ethics committee was struck in this new Parliament, we attempted to have the Ethics Commissioner come to committee to have an honest dialogue about what was found to be a second violation of the Prime Minister with respect to ethics rules and the Liberal members voted against it.
There are so many aspects of the ethical failings of the government. My constituents have continually referred to them as the “cottage chronicles”. Quite often the Prime Minister would make an announcement, with few details and clarification on those details later in the day. A whole host of questions would remain on any of the programs that had been announced and in some cases there would be months of delay before seeing those programs implemented.
Regarding the bill at hand, specifically with respect to the disability portion of this, the Conservatives support ensuring that those who need support get it. The members opposite have said that these delays are the Conservatives fault. Let the record state very clearly that the Conservatives made it clear that we were happy to deal with the legislation and that Parliament should be the body to do so. However, the Liberals played politics with that and shut it down.
There are three main aspects to the bill. We have the wage subsidy, for which a lot of businesses are applying. Some are benefiting, but when I speak to small and medium-sized businesses specifically, they talk about how complicated some of these applications are. When I read through the portions of the bill that deal with the wage subsidy, we see further complications. For a large firm with a corporate office in a large city, that is okay, because it has accounting and legal departments. The accounting and legal departments of the small and medium-sized enterprises, especially in a rural constituency such as mine, is often one person, or a part-time role, or a hired accountant or they simply do the books themselves. Therefore, the unnecessarily complicated nature and aspects of the bill make it more difficult for people to apply.
I have a brief comment on the justice elements of the bill. Certainly, with the times we find ourselves in, it is necessary to have a look at these, but I would note that deterioration of trust, which I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. When I read the aspects of the justice portion of the bill, the thought in the back of my mind was whether the Liberals were trying to sneak something into this that would have that negative impact on Canadians.
I look forward to answering questions on this and trying to dive into many aspects of this important debate today.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-21 11:49 [p.2666]
Mr. Speaker, the member is right in as far as it could have been passed. However, because the Liberals have shut down Parliament and refused to allow Parliament to do its job, it was not.
When it comes to playing politics, it is a shame really that the Liberals would play politics with an institution like this, that they would use this very House of Commons, which is the pinnacle of Canadian democracy, as a bargaining chip in political discourse in the country. It is the only body where we can be assured that it is not a small group of reporters where the state broadcaster gets a disproportionate number of the questions, but it is truly members who represent every corner of our great country.
The member suggests that somehow the Conservatives tried to shut it down or would not allow it. It is shameful that the Liberals are not allowing Parliament to do its function, not only with respect to its constitutional function but also with respect to the ability for Parliament to do the job that Canadians expected it to do: the essential service of ensuring for my constituents, like the constituents of every member within every corner of the country, that I am doing the job they sent me here to do. It is unfortunate that this continues to be the attitude represented from the other side.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-21 11:52 [p.2666]
Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the decisions made within the party to which he has referred, it was a party decision in which MPs had no involvement. I will leave it to the party to answer those questions.
However, he does talk about trust. During the ethics committee last week, the hon. member who spoke before me, the member for Hull—Aylmer, made the comment that democracy was fragile.
I see one of the other committee members sitting across the way, whose constituency I fail to remember. She made a number of comments around the stereotype of politicians, and she is right. There is this negative stereotype around politicians. When we see a prime minister's family benefiting $300,000 from an organization with close ties to the Liberal government, a $900-million sole-sourced contract that would have resulted in $42 million in fees and a whole host of questions surrounding that, the stereotype, unfortunately, of politicians and pork barrel politics is true. It causes a deterioration of that trust, that fundamental and sacred trust that exists between Parliament, its members and Canadians. It is a trust that is difficult to earn and unfortunately it is being eroded.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-21 12:28 [p.2671]
Madam Speaker, the parliamentary secretary mentioned that the wage subsidy is very important for small businesses to survive. There is no doubt about that, but with the new bill, it seems there are a lot of complications. People probably need master's degrees in mathematics to understand it, plus a few accountants, if they can afford to hire them.
I will give an example to the parliamentary secretary. If a business experienced an average revenue drop of more than 50% over the last three months, it can get a top-up to its wage subsidy benefit to reach a final top-up number. If we add into the calculations the base wage subsidy, which is if it had lost under 49% of its revenue, it is up for another set of calculations.
So my question for the parliamentary secretary is this: If a business loses 60% of its revenue, what would be the wage subsidy percentage that it would receive in order to survive?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-07-21 14:09 [p.2688]
Mr. Speaker, the government's fiscal snapshot revealed the Liberals are running a deficit of $343 billion this year, and for the first time the net debt will reach more than $1 trillion.
I have spoken to constituents across my riding and they are wondering where all that money has gone. Many people fell through the cracks, and could not qualify for benefits that might have saved their livelihood and businesses. Many of these gaps could have been addressed without substantial cost if the government had bothered to listen to the Conservatives instead of shutting down Parliament.
Spending enormous amounts of money and keeping our economy on life support is not a recovery plan. It will not fix record unemployment. I have spoken with business owners across my riding. They are ready to create jobs and have prosperity again. They tell me they need to give Canadians incentives to work, not punish and disincentivize productivity.
Get our energy sector firing. Support our agriculture producers and supply chain. Lower taxes. That is a recovery plan, not spiralling debt and deficits.
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2020-07-21 14:10 [p.2688]
Mr. Speaker, a member of this place once said, “It's hard not to feel disappointment in one's government when every day there is a new scandal.” These are the words of the current Prime Minister, a sentiment that is shared now by many across the country.
We are standing at a precipice, a day of choosing. Will the Prime Minister choose to recommit to his 2014 goal of restoring trust in Canada's democracy, or will he continue to evade accountability, keep Parliament shut down and only answer questions if and when he deems them important?
Will the Prime Minister appear before the committee? Will he answer opposition questions, or will he choose to take personal days when it is inconvenient to face the music?
The Prime Minister can bury his head in the sand. He can ignore the public demand for transparency, or he can lead the way in openness and accountability by following his own advice to let the sun shine in. After all, we have been told that sunlight is in fact the best disinfectant.
What will he choose?
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-21 14:14 [p.2689]
Mr. Speaker,The outlook wasn't brilliant for Canadians that day;The debt stood at a trillion, too, and we lost our AAA;And when democracy died at first and ethics did the same;A sickly silence fell upon the voters of the game.The PM took a holiday with a carefree wink and smile;And treated family, friends and donors to billionaire isle;And when the dust had settled and we saw the very worst;The Ethics Commissioner said “Strike one, you may not go to first.”With a smile of great charity, the PM's eyes did gleam;He pressured the AG, he bade her to intervene;And when she wouldn't do it, he said “That simply will not do”;Lavalin means many votes and the commissioner said “Strike two.”A few straggling Libs got up to go in deep despair;The rest clung to hope in the Prime Minister's great hair;Then the PM saw $900 mill, a way to help connected friends;And we all knew the PM would not let opportunity pass by again.Oh somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright;The taxes are much lower and the government does what's right;And somewhere there are pipelines and jobs are all about;But for you and me and the greater we, our Prime Minister just struck out.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-21 14:39 [p.2693]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can find $40 million for his friends at the WE organization who are struggling financially, but cannot do anything to help Alberta's oil and gas sector.
The finance minister promised help within hours. However, when his friends at WE needed help, he had no problem cutting them a cheque. It is always the same story with the Liberals: help them get votes and get the money. The government is corrupt. Where is the help for Alberta's oil and gas sector?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2020-07-21 14:46 [p.2695]
Mr. Speaker, the national PPE stockpile has existed since at least 1952. It holds ventilators, blankets, towels, PPE, antibiotics and other essentials. Now, for security reasons, the Liberal government says that we are forbidden from knowing how much PPE it had between 2016 and 2020 before the viral pandemic. I did not realize it was a national security risk to ask the government how many towels it had in 2018.
To the health minister, what is the security reason for not disclosing the past PPE stockpiles?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2020-07-21 14:50 [p.2695]
Mr. Speaker, business owners and employees in my riding are spending time and money every day juggling hours and changing schedules to accommodate CERB. Employees are forced to choose between working full time, taking a pay cut or continuing part time to keep their CERB. Business owners cannot find enough staff to reopen or even stay open.
Why will the government not stop disincentivizing productivity and make the CERB more flexible by implementing the Conservative back-to-work plan?
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-20 13:46 [p.2596]
Madam Speaker, the Conservative Party is always a supporter of small and medium-sized businesses, all businesses, as they are the economic engines of our economy and country. The bill in front of us, Bill C-20, is very complicated and I believe the Bloc supports it.
I would like to give the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois a chance to shed some light on one scenario in the bill. For example, if a business suffers a 60% average loss, then what would it get back in return to help it continue to operate?
Again, if a business loses 60% of its revenues, what will it get back in wage subsidy support from this bill?
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-20 14:09 [p.2600]
Mr. Speaker, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian small and medium-sized business owners have stepped up to the plate to give back to their communities. Many had to close shop with no warning for an uncertain period. Uncertainty is one factor that can take a business down. Small and medium-sized businesses have long been the economic engine of this country. Now they need their country more than ever. What they need right now is clarity on various government programs, such as the wage subsidy and rent assistance.
How long will they run? Is there anything else coming to help them? Those questions are there. Diverse small businesses I have been visiting and talking to in my riding have reached out and want answers from the government. Every time a small business closes down, it is a piece of the community we may never see again. Let us help them out. They need us.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-20 14:38 [p.2605]
Mr. Speaker, the WE Charity scandal continues to deepen. More troubling details are being revealed daily. With their filibuster in the ethics committee last week, it would seem that the Liberals are hiding something embarrassing. Every minister should be asked about their connection to WE. The transport minister, the employment minister and the foreign affairs minister have made it clear that they knew nothing about the Prime Minister's conflict of interest. The rest of cabinet, however, must come clean.
Can the minister tell us if she was aware of the Prime Minister's blatant conflict of interest?
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-20 14:39 [p.2605]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not believe that the rules apply to him. He outsourced nearly a billion dollars worth of taxpayers' money to an organization with close ties not only to his party, but also to his family. It is greatly disturbing. It is always one set of rules for Liberals and another for everyone else. We have seen here today that the Liberals refuse to answer the questions we have about the scandal.
When will the Prime Minister agree to testify at committee?
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2020-07-20 14:41 [p.2606]
Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve answers after the Prime Minister got caught awarding a billion dollars of taxpayers' money to WE, an organization that benefited the Prime Minister politically and socially, and enriched his family.
The Prime Minister famously said that “sunshine is the best disinfectant”. Will the Prime Minister let the sun shine in and appear before the finance committee to answer questions about this sordid affair, or will he continue to hide?
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2020-07-20 14:46 [p.2607]
Here we go again, Mr. Speaker. The CMHC paid $250,000 to a group that labels homeowners as lottery winners to see how they could be taxed some more. The minister claims the Liberals are not looking at a capital gains tax, but recall that before the previous election, there was a document entitled “Ontario Caucus Priorities 2019 Platform”, where these tax options were being considered by no less than the current parliamentary secretary to the same minister. The CMHC study is looking at a home equity tax.
Will the government end this charade and commit to no new tax, no tax hikes, on principal residences of homeowners?
View Rachael Harder Profile
CPC (AB)
View Rachael Harder Profile
2020-07-20 14:52 [p.2608]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government seems to have blinders on when it comes to China. Canada has remained silent while China's communist regime is systematically attacking the Uighur people. Canada is the only member of the Five Eyes alliance that has not banned Huawei. Now Canada is awarding a Chinese government-owed firm a $6.8 million contract to supply security equipment to our embassies.
The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing. When will the Prime Minister stop pandering and stand up to China?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are gravely concerned by the government's unwillingness to keep them safe from foreign threats. The government had made clear its plans to use technology from a Chinese state-owned company to secure our embassies. That would be like asking Gerry Butts to be the ethics commissioner.
Nuctech works with entities under American sanctions, providing security equipment currently being used in the Uighur genocide.
Another review is simply not enough. Will the government clearly commit today to say no to Nuctech because it is involved in Xinjiang and because of the threat it poses to Canadian security?
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-20 14:58 [p.2609]
Mr. Speaker, Canada's energy sector was devastated by the Liberal government long before COVID-19.
Since 2015, the Alberta economy has been battered by the Liberal's job-killing anti-energy policies. That is why it is disappointing and shameful, but not surprising, that the energy sector has been waiting for 118 days to get the help it needs, despite the Minister of Finance claiming that help was just hours or days away.
Without the revenue from a strong energy sector, how does the Prime Minister plan to come up with the tax dollars to illegally funnel to his friends?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions today.
Today is the day marked by the Falun Gong community as the 21st anniversary of the beginning of the horrific persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. This petition highlights that persecution and calls on the Government of Canada to take strong action against it and champion human rights in the relationship with China and with all countries around the world.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is similar in some respects, as it also deals with a human rights issue in China.
It asks the House to pass Bill S-204, a bill that would make it a criminal offence for a person to go abroad and receive an organ when there has not been consent. It deals with the horrific practice of forced organ harvesting and trafficking that impacts the Falun Gong community. We have also been hearing, at the human rights subcommittee, about the impact of organ harvesting on Uighurs as well. Uighurs are facing a genocide in China and organ harvesting is part of the persecution faced by them.
The petitioners are hoping for the quick passage of Bill S-204 to ensure a strong Canadian response to this evil of forced organ harvesting and trafficking.
I commend these two petitions for the consideration of the House.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-20 16:19 [p.2628]
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his very thoughtful comments on the scandal that is taking place now in our country. It is a common practice when one enters into a contract to do due diligence. In this case, no such thing took place except that the Prime Minister handed over a big fat contract of $912 million to a friend's organization.
How much due diligence does the hon. member believe happened and if proper due diligence had happened, what could have been the result compared to what we have right now?
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-20 16:58 [p.2633]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to let the House know that I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Haldimand—Norfolk and I look forward to this opportunity to address the House.
First of all, I want to pay tribute to the men and women, the businesses, the entrepreneurs, the hard-working people, the front-line essential workers in my riding of Red Deer—Lacombe who have done yeomen's work throughout this very difficult time in our nation's history. I am happy to report that central Alberta has been very stoic and also very capable in dealing with COVID-19. We have had very few cases in our province and I hope that continues going forward.
Before us today is a bill and the many missed opportunities are the theme of my speech: the missed opportunities in this legislation and missed opportunities for Parliament to have done its job. I do not want to harp on that, but we have been basically sidelined with a very marginal committee. One political party in the House probably regrets that alliance it set up a little while ago. I could be talking about missed opportunities for some people to even come to work today, but I am not going to talk about those. I am going to talk about the missed opportunities in this legislation.
The first thing I want to talk about is CERB and the missed opportunities in this legislation. Many MPs in this room probably already know and have probably already heard from their constituents about something called the CERB clawback. Early on when CERB was put out, people received money. Some who applied for it received maybe a little more than they should. They had an advance payment that was not associated with their work time or with a pay period. Now the government is clawing that money back. It is doing it by just stopping payments cold to people who are actually going to continue on. We know that the government wants to continue on because it has announced several times that it is going to extend the CERB. Why did it not at least notify people that for the next two weeks they would not be getting the CERB? That would have been the polite thing to do. There are lots of Canadians facing this right now. Or the Liberals could have amortized the amount that needed to be clawed back over the next extended period of time so they would not leave a family who is already barely getting by on 25% of what that household normally brings in. But no, that is not what the government is doing at all. It is really unfortunate and a missed opportunity in the legislation to do right by Canadians.
There is $252 million of reannounced money that was going to go to the agriculture sector whether we had a COVID-19 crisis or not. The business risk management tools are not cutting it for our farmers. There is market access loss as a result of COVID-19 border closures and restrictions. Nothing in this piece of legislation is going to address the needs of the farmers of this country that not only feed us, but also feed the world at times. We are one of a handful of countries in the world that is a net exporter of food. We need to support our agricultural sector, and it is a missed opportunity in this legislation. We are going to have further contraction in our agricultural sector as a result. However, farmers by and large do not vote Liberal, so we should not be at all surprised that there is no support in this round three of legislation, or round four, whatever we happen to be on now with one-day parliamentary sittings.
I talked about the oil and gas sector during question period. I am a former rig worker. I am proud to say I was a roughneck during my younger years and was very proud of the work I did. I still have my coveralls, my hard hat, all my PPE from those days. What is the Government of Canada doing right now? Is it advancing the oil and gas sector's interests and positioning the sector to be able to thrive once the world economy takes off again so that we can have a window of market opportunity to get back on track? Who knows, maybe even the oil and gas sector could generate some revenue that would get us back to a semblance of a balanced budget, but there is nothing in there. Where is the money for the oil and gas sector? Here is some money for some orphaned wells because Liberal policies have been so onerous that a bunch of companies went bankrupt and orphaned some of their wells. The Liberals say they will give them some money now to clean up those abandoned wells. It's basically a lifeline to the end of life for this industry. That is what the Liberals have offered.
This is the energy that we all use as Canadians to heat our homes, to power and fuel our economy, to get our kids to school and sport, and ourselves to work, but it is not important to the Liberal government. Why? It is because I do not think a whole lot of rig workers vote for the Liberal Party of Canada.
Through the Community Futures regional relief fund in my constituency, small businesses were given a million dollars. That was gobbled up instantly. This was supposed to be an opportunity for small business owners to go to their local Community Futures in Alberta, or it would be different depending on what province they are in, but it was supposed to be a last-resort effort. It was over-subscribed instantly because despite everything the Liberals have done with the closures they have made, every single Canadian has been impacted by COVID, but they pick winners and losers in their programming. There are so many people who have not been able to qualify for the other programs they have tried to rely on this regional relief fund and it is not working. It was over-subscribed instantly. Again, people in my riding had to be told, no, the government is not going to be there for them. It is a problem.
Hospitality and tourism is probably the hardest-hit sector of our economy. I know that the restaurants and coffee shops have had a really tough time. I know they used some of the programs for those who qualify. They used the wage subsidy for those who qualified. However, it is not just these folks. There is a whole sector of our economy, and my colleague from B.C. brought this up during question period today. There are guides and outfitters. I am going to talk about this because I used to be a guide on Great Bear Lake.
When I was in university, I did not wait for the government to hand me a cheque. When I was a university student, I actually went out and got a job as a fishing guide on Great Bear Lake, and I worked my tail off from sun-up until sundown, which in the north is the whole day. That is what I did, and I was proud of the work I did. It was hard work in a rough environment. I was getting bitten by mosquitoes, blackflies, name it. I was in six- or seven-foot waves on an icy cold lake trying to catch fish for people who paid an awesome, large sum of money, in my mind at that time as a 19-year-old, to come for the pleasure of catching a fish. Not a single one of those lodges on Great Bear Lake, to my knowledge, is open and there is absolutely no help through any of the programs that have been offered. How do they demonstrate a loss of revenue in March, April or May when their guests do not show up until June, July, August and September?
Fishing guide operators on Vancouver Island, who have been trounced by the DFO regulations and this minister's regulations for the last couple of years, are now being trounced by COVID regulations. If 80% of their clients are from outside of Canada, what has the government done to help these folks? Well, the government has done nothing, because a whole lot of people who own firearms and go hunting and fishing probably do not vote for the Liberal Party of Canada. Where is the help for them? It is the same for the oil and gas sector and the same for the farmers of this country. The help is not coming, not at all.
There was another opportunity here when it comes to making the difference. The government, back in early 2015-16, had a problem with something called “cash for access”. Cash for access was that scandal, and it was a big deal because it showed and exposed the cozy relationship of a bunch of Liberal insiders with the government who were getting quid pro quo for donations to the party. The Prime Minister said that it could not be them; the problem had to be the rules. Therefore, he changed the rules when it comes to how fundraising is actually done. He changed the Canada Elections Act because he had to blame the rules, but never mind the ethical blind spots that had been pointed out by the previous ethics commissioner. That was what the Prime Minister and the Liberal government of the day did. They changed the law.
They could have changed the law today to deal with the WE scandal. The Liberals could have changed the ethics laws to create a repeat offender designation, for a government that seems to have a few repeat offenders. We all know that the Liberals' criminal justice approach is to let people go and give them a slap on the wrist, so why would we expect anything different when it comes to a change in the ethical law? Nonetheless, they had that ability before them.
In fact, the Liberals could have set mandatory minimum fines on an escalating scale for repeat offenders, and we know that the government is okay with registries. They could have created a registry of repeat ethical offenders for their own government. Think of the job creation in the Ethics Commissioner's office, if only the government were focused on actually doing something positive for Canadians.
There were a lot of missed opportunities, and I think we can agree that the current government does not have Canadians' interests at heart.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-20 17:09 [p.2635]
Madam Speaker, my colleague would be interested to know that probably the largest segment of the supply-managed farmers in Alberta lies within my riding in the counties of Lacombe and Ponoka, and the party position of the Conservative Party of Canada has always been to support the supply-managed sector. In fact, the House has convened earlier for emergency legislation to deal with extending credit to the supply-managed sector.
If there is something more that is needed, and my colleague from Beauce spoke about this earlier today, then we would always do something reasonable to support any aspect of the agricultural sector.
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2020-07-20 17:11 [p.2636]
Madam Speaker, I have spoken to many businesses in my constituency over the last number of months. Many of these business owners and operators have called me with despair in their voices about their frustration with the current programs the government is offering, because they either did not qualify or the thresholds seemed to be changing. I remember in the early days of the programs being announced that people had to pay attention, because every day it seemed like rubrics for all of the programs were about to change, but the frustration is still there and my colleague is absolutely right.
I am just going to reiterate what my colleague from Carleton said earlier today: If it is easier for a person to make money sitting at home, getting a benefit from the government, there is no incentive for that person to work. There will be no incentive for these businesses to even apply for these programs, or try to get the help they need, if it is going to be a net negative cost for them, because they have to hire the expertise in order to do so.
This is a typical shell game that is played by the Liberal government, where it is more interested in the announcement than the actual benefit it will have for Canadians. The programs are going to be so complicated and so onerous that we are going to exclude people just because they do not have time right now. They are too busy trying to keep their doors open, keep their employees paid, and keep the hounds away on the personal finances of their home, outside of their business, to sit here and try to go through a bureaucratic flowchart to try to access a little more government money. When we take a look at some of the problems that some of the businesses are having right now and some of the calls, especially on the CERB where the clawbacks are coming, we can ask if the risk is really going to be worth the reward. That is something I am going to have to leave in the hands of the businesses in my riding, but it is another missed opportunity.
We should keep things simple, make programs that work for the benefit of Canadians, and always incentivize people working and earning a living. The dignity of a job and the dignity of a business, running in a profitable scenario, is always what the government should be striving for.
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
CPC (AB)
View Ziad Aboultaif Profile
2020-07-20 17:50 [p.2641]
Madam Speaker, it has been a very entertaining free market of speech topics today by the member opposite. There are so many channels he changed. It is typical of a remote-control handler. One thing is that he did not stop at the WE channel. He did not touch on that.
Why does he not tell us about his Prime Minister's scandalous contract with the WE foundation to benefit his Prime Minister's, and his cabinet's, friends?
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-20 17:56 [p.2642]
Madam Speaker, it is always interesting to hear the hon. member. I am glad he acknowledged that he does not know all things about all things, so I appreciate his moment of transparency in that regard.
I would make a quick note, before my simple question, regarding the rewriting of history. I was speaking with another colleague just before coming back to the House, and we said how incredible it is that this year started out with what very well could have been the issue of the year, which was the rail blockade. For the member to suggest that the economy was moving along in the right direction prior to COVID is a rewriting of history in an epic way, so I would encourage the member to look carefully at his government's record in that regard.
One of the things I have heard from many constituents about a number of the programs, including the wage subsidy, is that they are concerned about the complexities associated with the application and the accounting. For large corporations that have accounting departments, legal teams and whatnot, it is quite straightforward: They send the application to their department and it gets all sorted out. However, for a small business, a mom-and-pop shop or those smaller entities that need the support, I do not think that increasing the complexity of the wage subsidy was the right direction, so I would certainly like to hear from the member across the way how he can reconcile the increasing of complexities in the program.
Instead of increasing the complexity, should it not have been made simpler, especially for those small and medium-sized enterprises, to access these applications with ease so the economy can get moving in the right direction again?
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-20 18:15 [p.2644]
Madam Speaker, COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of our lives, and we have heard it said many times before, but I have not had a chance to deliver a speech in this place since the pandemic began. While this is certainly not ideal, here we are, and I feel the need to speak for my constituents and have it on the record.
This pandemic has not only had an economic cost, but has also had a human cost, and not just in loss of life. My heart goes out to all those who have suffered a loss, and also to families who have been separated by borders and quarantine measures. I have heard from so many of my constituents who were and are still stranded abroad, desperately trying to get home to see their families. I have worked very hard to reunite families when possible. This has been a stressful time for everyone, and not being able to be with loved ones only makes the situation worse. I had to self-isolate from my family, which was very difficult to do, and so I sympathize and empathize with everyone going through this.
The emotional toll this has taken will need to be evaluated for years to come. The impact on the immigration department and its response times will also need to be addressed. The backlog we are facing is unprecedented.
Now, I know we are here to debate Bill C-20, but I would be remiss if I did not thank my constituents for their efforts during this truly difficult time. We had charities and businesses step up to provide for our community in the hardest of times. Meals were made and distributed, hand sanitizer and masks were delivered, and front-line workers have been exceptional. I am so proud of how we came together.
I also feel the need to express my thoughts for those who were directly impacted by the hail storm that ravished my riding on June 13. Many homes, vehicles and properties were damaged, causing further stress to those who were impacted. I would like to thank my provincial and municipal counterparts for all they are doing for emergency relief for my constituents. I will continue to work with all levels of government on this.
On Bill C-20, while I support getting help to Canadians who are struggling, I would be doing a disservice to my constituents if I did not pause and reflect on the timing of this. I have been very vocal in my displeasure that the House has been suspended. While I am pleased that the House is sitting today, it is certainly convenient timing. I have had constituents contact me who have been very concerned about the behaviour of members of the government in recent weeks as it relates to the WE Charity. It is unconscionable, to me, that this has happened. It is terribly concerning. I am pleased that the Ethics Commissioner is conducting an investigation, which is the third investigation of this Prime Minister.
I have been watching the finance committee and ethics committee, although I will say that I have been left wanting, given the quality of responses from this government. Even the simple questions cannot be answered. Now, we have seen charities come out and say publicly that they had been afraid to comment on WE in the past, given its ties to this government. There is a charity in my riding that reached out. It is ready to contribute and has all the necessary structures in place to do so. It is asking when it will hear back on this failed program, which brings us to today.
Parliament has been shut down since March, and this week, the government has decided that it is time to sit again, which is very convenient timing. What I can tell members is that, despite the government's best efforts to divert attention away from the WE scandal, Conservatives will continue to scrutinize its actions and hold it to account since it has proven that it cannot be trusted with taxpayers' money or to make ethical decisions.
As we have heard debated today, Bill C-20 would extend and expand the eligibility criteria for the wage subsidy, implement a one-time $600 payment for persons with disabilities and extend or suspend certain legislated and judicial timelines. We in the official opposition have been proposing solutions to fix the wage subsidy program since April. It is now the middle of July, and instead of implementing our changes to help businesses and workers, the government is making things worse by overcomplicating it. We know that the original subsidy that was announced left businesses falling through the cracks, which meant that the program saw less than one-quarter uptake. I have had businesses in my riding contact me indicating that they do not qualify, and we have raised examples with the government, but no action has been taken.
This new wage subsidy we are speaking about today is unnecessarily complex, with rules and regulations that will trap businesses in paperwork and accounting fees, making it harder for them to get the help they need, the help they needed back in April.
When we make a policy on the fly without listening to proposals, it proves the government is lacking a plan to help Canadians to get back to work and restart our economy. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has either been wrong or slow to act. This failure has cost Canadians.
The Liberals were slow to close borders, which left people stranded who were trying to determine whether they should return. They were wrong on PPE and did not replace the medical supplies sent abroad in February. They were slow to enhance airport screening, allowing the virus to spread from passengers returning to Canada. They were slow to roll out programs for those who were struggling. They were wrong not to include gender-based analysis, which could have helped fix their programs to keep Canadians, especially women, from falling through the cracks. The Liberals were wrong to leave small businesses behind, forcing many to close permanently. We know that small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. The Liberals were wrong to raise taxes, in the form of the carbon tax, when Canadians were already struggling to make ends meet. They were wrong to abandon the oil and gas sector, promising help within hours or days, but offering nothing, which was felt very strongly by those in my community. They were wrong not to fully fund the Auditor General's office so constituents could see how their tax dollars were being spent. They were wrong to shut down Parliament, refusing to let MPs do their job and provide crucial oversight.
I am hopeful that the government will listen to our suggestions. Part of our proposal is to implement the back-to-work bonus. Our plan is to make the Canada emergency response benefit more flexible and generous so that workers can earn higher wages as businesses begin to open. Under our plan, Canadians who lost their jobs through no fault of their own during the pandemic would continue to receive their full $2,000 from CERB. In addition, as businesses reopen, workers who make between $1,000 and $5,000 per month would qualify for the back-to-work bonus. This CERB top-up would be gradually phased out by 50 cents for every dollar earned over $1,000.
As I stated earlier, I support help for those who are struggling. A one-time payment, as proposed in Bill C-20, is a result of our efforts in the opposition to better serve those with disabilities. We were prepared and offered to recall Parliament to debate this measure. Sadly, that did not occur, which further delayed this payment. My hope is that those who qualify and apply for the disability tax credit, as proposed in Bill C-20, will be able to access it in a timely manner.
The judicial aspects of the proposed legislation does not address how court backlogs, particularly those in the criminal justice system, will be resolved. The rights of victims and their families must be central as we move forward. The government must ensure that victims see justice in a timely manner. It is fundamental.
Finally, since the pandemic began, the official opposition have been putting forward constructive solutions to help Canadians. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to help get workers and local businesses back on their feet as quickly as possible. We know that our economic recovery will be driven by Canadians' hard work, innovation and good spirits. We know that to be competitive, we need to unleash the power of the private sector to help Canadians get back to work.
We need to support small businesses. We need lower taxes. We need to cut the red tape and make Canada an attractive place to do business once again. This is how we approach constructive solutions. We will continue to fight to get Canadians the help they need and will continue to call on the government to put forward a transparent plan to guide Canada's recovery. Canadians deserve no less.
View Michael Cooper Profile
CPC (AB)
View Michael Cooper Profile
2020-07-20 18:25 [p.2646]
Madam Speaker, my colleague from Calgary Skyview touched on a number of things. One thing she did not touch on was the energy sector and the significant impact that COVID has had on top of all the bad policies that have come from the government.
The Minister of Finance stated back in March that relief was hours or days away. It is 118 days later and there is no relief. Some are suspicious that it is not an accident, but rather a deliberate plan on the part of the government to put the final nail in the coffin of the energy sector.
Could the member comment on that?
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-20 18:26 [p.2646]
Madam Speaker, it seems like the hours and weeks may turn into years. There has been no focus on the energy sector, and a lot of my constituents feel the pain. It was bad before COVID-19 and it has only gotten worse since then. We are very disappointed with the government's response on this.
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-20 18:28 [p.2646]
Madam Speaker, when I was talking about the response in immigration, I was talking about the constituents who were stuck outside of Canada and the response to bring them back to Canada. In regard to anything that helps Canadians deal with the pandemic, that would be something I would support.
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-20 18:29 [p.2646]
Madam Speaker, before I came here, I had to make calls to people who had received the funding, but so many had applied and were left out. Some of those were crucial services, especially during this pandemic. It was very important for the government to ensure that funds were available for those people who had applied and who were categorized as crucial service programs.
View Damien Kurek Profile
CPC (AB)
View Damien Kurek Profile
2020-07-20 18:30 [p.2646]
Madam Speaker, my colleague touched on a number of very important issues.
We have heard rumours in the last number of days, like we did in the last election, about a home equity tax. There is an old adage, and I was a volunteer firefighter for a number of years, that where there is smoke, there is fire. When one sees smoke a number of times, one must see that there must be fire.
Could my colleague talk about how devastating a home equity tax would be on Canadian taxpayers?
View Jag Sahota Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jag Sahota Profile
2020-07-20 18:31 [p.2646]
Madam Speaker, on this side of the House we all know that side of the House raises taxes, so this is not a surprise to us. The carbon tax is an example at this time.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I have just come to the House from the hearings of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights. We spent all day in powerful hearings about the genocide happening in East Turkestan or Xinjiang in China where Uighur Muslims are facing all kinds of horrific human rights abuses simply on the basis of their faith and ethnic background. There was a clear consensus among witnesses that there is a genocide ongoing in Xinjiang, and there was a call from witnesses to take strong action here in Canada to respond to that genocide; indeed, to make meaningful our historic commitments to saying “never again”, that we will never again allow a people to be eradicated or attempts to eradicate them in this kind of way. Adrian Zenz, a senior researcher, described what is happening in Xinjiang as the largest mass incarceration of a minority since the Holocaust.
The calls to action included Canada's imposing Magnitsky sanctions against those involved in this gross violation of human rights, and also a response that would look at the use of Uighur slave labour in our supply chains, with stronger legislation to prevent products that are produced through slave labour from making their way into our supply chains, as well as stronger measures to prevent government co-operation, like we have seen with Nuctech and security firms that are also involved in gross violations of human rights in East Turkestan.
The last panel at our hearing brings me to this question today, because we had an opportunity to hear from Kamila Telendibaeva, the wife of Huseyin Celil. Mr. Celil is a Canadian citizen of Uighur background who is currently in prison in China. He has been in prison in China for over a decade, and he has not had access to consular services. It is a horrific situation. He is the father of four, but he has never had an opportunity to meet his youngest son, because his wife was pregnant at the time he was taken. However, he was not arrested in China. He had travelled to Uzbekistan on a Canadian passport and was arrested in Uzbekistan and transferred to China. He has a wife and four sons here in Canada, the youngest of whom he has never met.
This horrific situation, the genocide of the Uighurs, in particular the detention of this Uighur Canadian, should seize Canadians and the government. I raised this issue at the Canada-China committee with our ambassador on February 5. Unfortunately, he initially seemed unaware of the case, and then he said that Mr. Celil was not a citizen. I note that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has since corrected this, but it remains a fact that we have regular mention, and rightly so, of other Canadians who are detained in China, but we have not seen nearly the same level of attention paid to cases involving Canadian citizens who originated abroad. Cases such as Mr. Celil, Fan Wei or others have simply not gotten the same attention in statements by our ambassador as cases that involve those born in Canada. That is very disappointing, because I think that we should all believe in a principle that a Canadian is a Canadian, and yet we have not seen a strong enough response.
During the testimony today, witnesses asked that the government not only make right what was made wrong but that it also take further steps, including appointing a special envoy to look into this case. I want to know what the government's response is to those calls to action and—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for speaking from the heart.
I want to follow up on some of the testimony we heard. The government has said words with respect to this issue, but we need strong action.
Irwin Cotler, a former Liberal justice minister, said this is a genocide that requires us to respond in accordance with our international obligations under the genocide convention. We must recognize it and respond to it. We must recognize that we have a responsibility to protect and then deploy a range of measures to protect, to do what we can, whether this involves Magnitsky sanctions or other actions. We should also ensure that we do not have slave labour in our supply chains. That is a problem right now, and we need tougher legislation dealing with slave labour in our supply chains, especially coming from Xinjiang.
I wonder if the member would be willing to recognize specifically that China has not met its international obligations when it comes to consular access, and comment on the suggestion that we should have a special envoy to deal with this case.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, I am also deeply disturbed, but we should be clear that our thoughts and our prayers are not enough.
Is the government prepared to recognize that Muslims in China are facing an ongoing genocide?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, regarding Uighurs specifically, is the government prepared to recognize that Uighur Muslims in China face an ongoing genocide?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, if the minister is not prepared to use the word “genocide”, will he recognize that what we are reading about constitutes crimes against humanity under international law?
View Garnett Genuis Profile
CPC (AB)
Mr. Speaker, we all feel those feelings, but feeling disturbed is not enough. I asked about genocide. I asked about crimes against humanity. Let me ask one more important question.
Yes or no, Minister: Is the government prepared to impose Magnitsky sanctions on those involved in gross violations of human rights in Xinjiang, in Hong Kong or elsewhere in the Republic of China?
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