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View Fayçal El-Khoury Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Fayçal El-Khoury Profile
2020-08-12 12:06 [p.2745]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move, seconded by the member for Edmonton Manning:
That the House: (a) mourn the loss of life following the tragic explosion in Beirut on August 4, 2020; (b) stand in solidarity with the Lebanese people, particularly the families of the more than 150 people who have died, the more than 6,000 hospitalized, and the estimated 300,000 who been rendered homeless by the explosion; and (c) commit to helping and accompanying the Lebanese people in their desire for reform and to sustainably rebuild and continue to stand with the Lebanese community both in Lebanon and here in Canada at this most difficult time.
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Sameer Zuberi Profile
2020-08-12 12:09 [p.2745]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I think you will find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:
That the House:
(a) officially recognize that the Nazis and their collaborators systematically murdered over 500,000 Romani during the Holocaust and that this atrocity constitutes a genocide against the Romani people;
(b) pay tribute to those Romani who were murdered as well as the Romani survivors of persecution by the Nazis; and
c) recognize August 2 as the official date to commemorate the Romani Genocide, also known as Porajmos and Samudaripen, to never forget the atrocities committed against the Romani people, the harrowing stories of victims, and the incredible strength of survivors.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-08-12 12:20 [p.2747]
Mr. Speaker, it has been one week since the explosion of roughly 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that was stored for God knows why in the Port of Beirut for several years, a disaster that cost the lives of some 170 people and injured more than 6,000. We are talking about one of the largest explosions in history. It was one disaster too many for a country that has been going through an economic, financial and social crisis for several years, not to mention the current health crisis that, unsurprisingly, has thrown every country and their population into a state of uncertainty.
The Bloc Québécois wants to express its condolences to the families of the unfortunate victims of this explosion, its best wishes for a rapid recovery to the injured, and its solidarity with all the Lebanese people. The courage and resilience they have shown in overcoming this new ordeal, as well as the many challenges they have met throughout their history, is something to behold.
I commend the government's decision, in response to the call by the Bloc Québécois, to commit to matching Canadians' and Quebeckers' donations and for having launched the Lebanon Matching Fund. Quebec was deeply moved by this disaster, which is reminiscent of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy that the Leader of the Bloc Québécois and I witnessed first-hand, since at the time we were Quebec's ministers of the environment and public safety respectively. Quebec has a large Lebanese community, so it is only natural that we ask the Canadian government to show a bit of the same generosity as Quebeckers and Canadians.
Initially we identified the Red Cross, whose expertise and effectiveness in this type of situation are world-renowned. The government instead chose to transfer a portion of its aid through a coalition of humanitarian organizations with contacts on the ground. No matter, the important thing is that the aid gets to the people who need it.
That said, why did the government cap the amount that could be paid out by that group at $2 million, and why did it restrict the time for accepting donations to between the 4th and 24th of August? Why did it take the government over 24 hours to announce any assistance, which was initially rather modest? Why limit access to just 12 Canadian-based international aid agencies and not include local NGOs, which, facing the inertia of public authorities, are already on the ground and mobilized as we speak, ready to provide the medical assistance and the food needed by the people? Why was the Canadian Red Cross not included on that list?
The solidarity shown by everyone, people of all political stripes, over the past week has been remarkable. However, solidarity is not enough. Adequate, responsible, direct assistance is needed to help the Lebanese people, who will certainly figure out how to overcome this new hardship, as they have always done, supported by the steadfast friendship and support of Quebec, Canada and all caring nations.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has had enough. He is tired of accountability and facing tough questions. He does not want to explain why he paid off his friends at WE with taxpayers' money. He will not tell us about the contract that he gave to the company that employs his top staffer's husband, and he certainly does not want to tell us how big of a cheque he cut to the former Liberal MP from Montreal.
When the Prime Minister cancelled Parliament in April, May and June, he replaced it with four sitting days this summer. The Liberals could have picked any day they wanted. Can the person auditioning for the role of Prime Minister today please tell us why the Prime Minister picked today if he was not going to show up?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, it looks like my last question period as leader of the Conservative Party is just like my first: warm, sunny and the Prime Minister is nowhere to be found.
The Prime Minister is showing contempt for francophones by awarding a $900-million contract to a unilingual organization with no presence in Quebec.
Why did the Prime Minister disrespect francophones in yet another attempt to help his close friends?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the government still cannot provide simple, direct answers to very clear and simple questions.
The Prime Minister invented this phony story about pushing back on officials on May 8. Can the minister explain how on May 5 WE was told that it could already start spending money and charging taxpayers?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister likes to talk about space and time, but in the real world May 5 comes before May 8.
During this time of crisis, Canadians deserve and demand a steady hand leading our country. However, instead of stability we have a government in chaos: cabinet ministers are being summoned to testify; the Prime Minister's Office is focused on damage control instead of fixing its flawed programs; and now, senior sources close to the Prime Minister have told The Globe and Mail that the Prime Minister is inventing a phony policy dispute as an excuse to dump his finance minister, even bringing in a backup quarterback just in case.
When will the Prime Minister finally put the finance minister out of his misery?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, it is not the first time the Prime Minister has told Canadians that a story in The Globe and Mail was false.
Speaking of another scandal, on March 31, 2019, the Prime Minister's lawyer sent me a letter threatening to sue me for telling Canadians about the Prime Minister's corruption. On April 10, 2019, I stood outside the chamber and repeated every single thing I said: the sordid facts about the SNC-Lavalin scandal. The Prime Minister did not like that I was telling Canadians about how he politically interfered in a criminal court proceeding. I was looking forward to being sued because then the Prime Minister would have to testify under oath and go through discovery.
After next week, my calendar is wide open. Could the Prime Minister please tell me when I can expect to see him in court?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House and the government that I completely agree with a number of points made by the Leader of the Opposition. When the Conservatives and the Bloc are in agreement, members on the other side should take a long, hard look at things. Of course, then there are the ones in the back.
Just yesterday, I was on vacation and I had chosen my return date to be sure that I could be here, today, for the planned sitting. I took the helm of a lobster boat on the Magdalen Islands. The second captain told me I was good at staying on course and told me to keep captaining the ship. That is what we are going to do.
We have reason to be skeptical. As the Leader of the Opposition said, when someone picks the dates, they should be able to organize one day over a period of five weeks. When someone picks the dates, they should be able to organize four sittings over the entire summer. Meanwhile, the government says it wants to be accountable, sincere and open.
There is the matter of the WE Charity scandal. Again, I agree with the opposition leader, who said that the word “UNIS” was tacked on at the end to hide the fact that there were no francophones involved. Now there is a new $84-million scandal apparently involving the Prime Minister's chief of staff, and, of course, there is the wage subsidy. I understand that one of the two main Conservative leadership candidates said that the Conservatives would return the money. However, the Liberals are coming up on $2 million in wage subsidies to fund the next campaign, which could indeed be coming soon. I would have expected to see certain faces. I know I am not allowed to talk about people being absent, but I am troubled that certain individuals are “non-present”.
All I will say is, I was asked this morning whether we are really going to topple the government. In response, I asked whether this government still deserves our confidence. The Liberals have just given us the answer to that question.
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2020-08-12 12:56 [p.2753]
Mr. Speaker, did the Prime Minister, any minister in the Liberal government or any of their staffers know that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a Crown corporation mandated to manage the emergency commercial rent assistance program, ultimately decided to outsource the file to MCAP, a mortgage lender, yes or no? Was anyone in this government aware of that?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2020-08-12 12:57 [p.2753]
Mr. Speaker, I am holding in my hand a press release from the Prime Minister's Office dated April 24. It states, and I quote, “The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation [the CMHC] will administer and deliver the CECRA”.
How is it that the CMHC, which was mandated by the government to manage a program worth several billion dollars, decided to outsource it at a cost of $84 million to MCAP, the vice-president of which just happens to be married to the PMO's chief of staff, the most powerful person in that office?
Did anyone in this Liberal government know that the file was going to be outsourced to that organization with close ties to the Prime Minister's chief of staff?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2020-08-12 12:59 [p.2753]
Mr. Speaker, in this cabinet there are 11 Quebec ministers as well as other francophones: the Minister of Official Languages, the President of the Treasury Board, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and political lieutenant for Quebec, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of National Revenue, not to mention the Prime Minister, who is a Quebecker.
Why did not one of these people rise and state that it is unacceptable to award a contract without a bidding process to an organization that only works in English? It is unacceptable to all Quebeckers and francophones across the country. Did even one of these ministers rise to say that awarding a contract to the Prime Minister's friends was ill-advised?
View Alain Rayes Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alain Rayes Profile
2020-08-12 13:01 [p.2754]
Mr. Speaker, we are starting to see the pattern. The government awards a contract to an organization, which then subcontracts to friends of the government. I think all of the links are clear.
Here is a very simple question for the Prime Minister. Could he tell us whether WE Charity has repaid the $30 million? Is there anyone in this government, whether it is the clerk of the Treasury Board, one of the ministers responsible or the Prime Minister, who can tell us whether this $30 million, which belongs to the people of Canada, will be returned to the government's coffers? Yes or no?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague well knows, the moment I learned about that, we immediately asked the department to launch a review to make sure that security is part of our contracting practices. I want to assure all Canadians and my friends in Calgary that no purchase whatsoever has been made by Global Affairs Canada from that provider. This was only a frame agreement.
I have asked the minister responsible at PSPC to look again at the procurement process for that, and we have launched a review.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to answer that question. As a former minister of the Crown, the member would know well that the moment I was made aware of that frame agreement, I asked for the review. The review is under way.
I want to reassure people in Calgary, Edmonton and everywhere across Canada that no purchase has been made whatsoever. There is nothing more important than the security and safety of our people in our embassies around the world, and security will come first every time we make a purchase that could be sensitive for the security of our embassies around the world.
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-08-12 13:11 [p.2755]
Mr. Speaker, my dad had a few phrases he always loved to use, like “A leopard cannot change its spots” or “The early bird gets the worm”.
Now that I am a father, it is my turn to add to these lifelong phrases. My addition is going to be “A Liberal is going to liberal.”
My son and daughter may ask me what this means, so here is a really short answer: A Liberal will always believe that there are enough taxpayer dollars to make his or her friends and family richer.
My question is for the Prime Minister. When will his family and his Laurentian elite friends have enough taxpayers' dollars?
View Warren Steinley Profile
CPC (SK)
View Warren Steinley Profile
2020-08-12 13:13 [p.2756]
Mr. Speaker, that answer is ridiculous. Our country has never been more broken, because of the Liberal Party's divisive policies toward all Canadians.
When kids ask, “Dad, what is a Liberal?”, I will give them a quick answer. It is someone who seems incapable of passing up a crisis to help advance the prosperity of their friends and family. The national unity crisis gave us the sponsorship scandal, the global pandemic gave us more money for their rich friends and families and, because I like to have evidence, I will tell my kids to look at the last few weeks. They will see a contract given to Liberal-friendly WE for $900 million, a contract to a former Quebec MP for ventilators that have not been certified in any jurisdiction to date and, for the three-peat, a Liberal insider was given an $84-million contract, by coincidence, a company whose VP is the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff.
A Liberal is going to liberal.
I ask the interim Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, what is it about Liberals that makes them so corrupt?
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague of everything we have done for the agricultural sector since the beginning.
We have changed the eligibility for the Canada emergency business account to allow a greater number of farmers to apply, which could mean up to $670 million for the forgivable portion only. Very recently, $58.3 million has been announced to boost the temporary foreign workers program, as well as $125 million through AgriRecovery and the launch of the emergency processing fund of $77.5 million. I could go on.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, we have made significant changes to different programs. We have changed the eligibility criteria to include a greater number of farmers. We are working very hard with the provinces right now to see how we can improve different business risk management programs. Let me remind him that these business risk management programs allow the farmers to get at least an average of $1.6 billion a year, and it might be closer to $2 billion this year, in addition to all the other investments we have made.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:22 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, the government told us that WE Charity was the only organization capable of administering the student service grant, because it had a Canada-wide network.
Now we have learned that it did not have a network in Quebec or in francophone communities and had to subcontract that part of the program.
Why this betrayal of trust?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:23 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, at the same time it was creating the program to help WE Charity and the Trudeau and Morneau families, this government also created a so-called wage subsidy program, this time to support the Liberal family, which has scooped up $800,000 so far. This program has now been extended to next December.
Why?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:24 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, not content with sticking its hand in the cookie jar, this government also seized the opportunity to award an $83-million contract to a company whose vice-president is the husband of the Prime Minister's chief of staff.
Why? I ask again, why?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:24 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, after the scandals and apologies for his vacation to the Aga Khan's island, the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the WE scandal and the new scandal over wage subsidy money being diverted to the Liberal family, the assistance for the Trudeau and Morneau families is now being extended to the family of the Prime Minister's chief of staff.
Why?
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
BQ (QC)
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-08-12 13:25 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, as we try to unravel and get to the bottom of these scandals and figure out what happened—after all, we are talking about hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, not Monopoly money—why is the Prime Minister not here in Parliament this week? Why the contempt?
Quebeckers and taxpayers are being taken for fools.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague should take his cue from his leader, who earlier mentioned staying the course. Bloc Québécois members would do well to stay the course and talk about the issues concerning Quebeckers.
What are people talking about? The member mentioned the Bloc leader, who was on vacation in the Gaspé region yesterday.
I will tell you what the people of Mauricie talk to me about. They talk to me about job creation, the economic recovery, health and safety as we look toward—
View Yves Robillard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Yves Robillard Profile
2020-08-12 13:26 [p.2758]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Don Valley North.
Canadians were shocked and deeply saddened by the recent explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. I wish to express my solidarity with the Lebanese people in the wake of this tragic event that resulted in many victims and thousands of injured. I want to extend my sincere condolences to everyone who was affected by this terrible tragedy. My thoughts are also with the many people who continue to search for their loved ones. Friends and family of Canadian citizens in Lebanon can contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre of Global Affairs Canada 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In order to help the Lebanese people, our government is providing up to $30 million in humanitarian aid. Would it be possible for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to provide more details?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank the member for his question and for his steadfast commitment to the entire Lebanese community. I would also like to thank many of my colleagues on both sides of the House, particularly the member for Laval—Les Îles, who has very close ties with Lebanon. Obviously, there is also the entire Lebanese community here in Canada. I can say that all members of the House played an important role in determining our response to this tragedy.
Like my colleague, I want to express my solidarity with the people of Lebanon following last week's tragedy, which left all Canadians reeling. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and, obviously, I wish a prompt recovery to those who were injured.
In order to respond to this tragedy, we have now set up an emergency matching fund and announced over $25 million in additional funding to deal with this crisis. That is a total of $30 million, which the Minister of International Development announced recently with the Prime Minister. These funds will help trusted partners meet the immediate needs of the people of Lebanon and assist with rebuilding efforts.
Canada has always stood with the people of Lebanon and we will continue to do so in the future, as they deal with this terrible crisis.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I too am very concerned about the reopening of schools, particularly as it pertains to first nations, and more so for children who are asked to go study off reserve, which is also a lived reality.
The reality of the situation is that there are provincial guidelines, but those are not necessarily maximums or minimums. We are working directly with communities for their specific needs and we will be there every step of the way.
The member will also well note today that we announced another $305 million in direct community support for first nations, Inuit and Métis, on a distinctions basis.
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George.
Thanks to the New York Times we know at least 17 manufacturers in China use Uighur forced labour to produce PPE. Despite having a budget that far surpasses the times, PSPC officials could not tell us if the government had purchased PPE manufactured by slave labour. Could the minister?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, those same officials have also informed us that in order to bid on procurement contracts these manufacturers must simply self-certify they respect human rights. A self-certification in this regard is as trustworthy as a pinky promise. When will the government get serious and ensure taxpayer money is not being used to support the enslavement of Uighurs?
View Kelly Block Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, in the previous Parliament, the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood introduced the modern slavery act to combat slave labour. It has now been introduced in the other place as Bill S-211. Will the government commit to supporting this bill?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, the Minister of Transport is looking at all these issues and will be happy to provide a more fulsome response to the hon. member.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, the Minister of Transport will be able to provide additional details to the member in due course. The safety of Canadians in aviation is paramount in all our decisions as a Canadian government.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, all Canadians would appreciate that rail transport in Canada is paramount in a country as large as ours. We value the work of VIA Rail. We value the work of its employees. We will be happy to provide a more fulsome response to the member in due course.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, the safety of all Canadians is very important. It is paramount in all our decisions. I can assure the member that the Minister of Transport has been doing outstanding work with colleagues around the world to ensure the safety and security of all travelling passengers which are—
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, the Minister of Transport reads all the briefings. I have no doubt that he would have been made aware of that and would have read that in detail.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, the issue of compensation is one which is top of mind for Canadians. I do know that the Minister of Transport has been spending a lot of time talking to airlines. I understand the concern of Canadians, and we will always strive to provide an equitable solution, both to travellers and to the airline industry.
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, in June I asked the Minister of Health for details on the supplies to replenish the mismanaged National Emergency Strategic Stockpile, or NESS. The answer provided was that 20% of items that are not being distributed to the provinces are stored in the warehouses of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Given that there could potentially be a second wave, can the minister confirm that all NESS warehouses across the country have been fully restocked?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, I take that answer as a “no”. If the warehouses have not been fully restocked, on what date will this occur?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, through you, I would ask what the exact breakdown of supplies is used to replenish the NESS warehouses. How many gowns, gloves, masks, ventilators, etc.?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, let me be very clear. The safety and protection of Canadians is paramount to this government. We will never allow any form of foreign interference in Canada by state or non-state actors. Every time there have been allegations, we have taken action with the Minister of Public Safety.
We invite any Canadian who might be subject to any form of such actions as have been described to contact law enforcement authorities. We will always defend the freedom and liberty of Canadians in Canada from foreign interference.
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Martel Profile
2020-08-12 14:01 [p.2764]
Mr. Chair, we know that the United States imposed a 10% tariff on Canadian aluminum. We knew it. We all saw this coming. We called it, but the government did nothing.
Sure, we can retaliate with tariffs of our own, but we faced this same problem in 2018. The aluminum industry is still wondering what happened to the money that was supposed to be given to them.
Why should we trust this government when it says that the money will be redistributed so as to benefit the aluminum industry?
View Richard Martel Profile
CPC (QC)
View Richard Martel Profile
2020-08-12 14:02 [p.2764]
Mr. Chair, this business of tariffs, retaliatory tariffs and programs to help the industry feels a bit like Groundhog Day. Meanwhile, there is no accountability.
I sat down with the government to propose concrete, long-term solutions to protect the industry. These solutions did not come out of thin air; they came out of consultations I had with industry stakeholders. Everyone was in favour of creating a low-carbon procurement policy. Everyone agreed to put more money into research and development, to promote a circular economy with recycled aluminum and to foster a competitive tax and regulatory environment.
Why does the government not want to sit down with us to find long-term solutions that would protect the aluminum industry?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I want to thank my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. As he will no doubt recall, he and I met with aluminum workers in his riding in Lac-Saint-Jean. We also met several times with unions and management to discuss the future of the aluminum sector.
We even invested in green aluminum. He must remember launching Elysis together.
Yes, we are examining this matter. Yes, we are working with unions and management to develop export markets for aluminum in order to make it ever more competitive. I want to thank my colleague for contributing to those efforts.
This is not about politics. It is about working for Canada's aluminum workers.
View Marie-Claude Bibeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I want to assure my colleague that this issue is extremely important to our government and to the Minister of Official Languages. All of us, including the minister, are working very hard on this matter. We will ensure that this is acted on as soon as possible.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Chair, in another one of his rash moves, President Trump has decided to impose tariffs on aluminum, putting 30,000 good jobs in Quebec in jeopardy. The government will impose retaliatory tariffs, but that is not a long-term solution.
Will the Liberals listen to the United Steelworkers and ensure that the revenues from these retaliatory measures go to support jobs in this industry?
Will they work on a climate adjustment system so that Quebec's aluminum, the most environmentally friendly aluminum there is, can finally have a competitive edge?
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Chair, that is interesting, but the aluminum produced in Quebec is the greenest and cleanest. It should have an advantage when it is imported.
Regarding another sector, yesterday, in a devastating surprise announcement, the Minister of Canadian Heritage told thousands of artists and artisans that there would be no recovery plan for the cultural sector until 2021. What are all these creators supposed to do in the meantime? Will they have to light a candle and hope they qualify for employment insurance?
Is that the Liberal government's only answer for the cultural sector?
View Steven Guilbeault Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for his question.
As my colleague knows very well, the sector will not reopen before the new year because it is not possible. This is the worst pandemic in modern human history. Many venues have decided to postpone all events until 2021.
Had he bothered to read the article in question, the member would have seen that we have provided the sector with $3 billion to date—
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice: I did read the article, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Steven Guilbeault: Mr. Chair, we will continue to help these people until it is possible to reopen. Due to the public health crisis, it is currently not possible for arts and culture events to resume, as our colleague from the other side of the House knows very well.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-08-12 14:16 [p.2767]
Mr. Chair, I will be sharing my time with my loyal colleague, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean.
In negotiating CUSMA, the government unfortunately forgot to protect aluminum, the aluminum produced in my region, the greenest aluminum in the world. The Bloc Québécois had to lobby hard for a solution that would shut out China's black aluminum.
Today, we are in a new crisis, which is partly the government's fault. It announced that there would be countermeasures, but oddly, they will only apply to aluminum products. In 2018, the countermeasures applied to any U.S. export, whether it was a Harley-Davidson, bourbon or a boat. The countermeasures could be slapped on any exported good.
Why can that not be done now?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. He knows full well that we have always been there for aluminum workers. I love to hear him talk about green aluminum, because I was there for the Elysis announcement. I was there when we said that the Government of Canada would stand up to find new, green aluminum products. That is precisely what he just said.
Yes, we are going to continue to invest in innovation, as we always have. Yes, we will always be there for the aluminum industry, and yes, we will always work for aluminum workers. It is an important industry in Quebec. We will always stand up for the interests of Quebec workers.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-08-12 14:17 [p.2767]
Mr. Chair, unfortunately, I did not get an answer.
Why are there no retaliatory tariffs on products other than aluminum? It is because, in 2019, they negotiated an agreement on the cheap. They went from a bazooka, with tariffs on all American exports, to a slingshot. They are defending Quebec's second-largest export sector with a slingshot.
I will repeat my question: Why is it impossible to impose retaliatory tariffs on products other than aluminum right now?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, in 2018, when we imposed retaliatory counter-tariffs on the United States, did all of the revenue from these counter-tariffs that was supposed to go to the aluminum industry actually reach the industry?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for his question.
He knows that we have been standing up for the aluminum sector since day one. We have been proud to invest in this sector. As I mentioned earlier, we invested in Elysis. That is the future. Just ask the unions and the workers. Green aluminum is the future of Quebec, the future of the industry. That is exactly what we have invested in to innovate and ensure long-term jobs—
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, that is not what I asked. The answer was not forthcoming either, from what I could hear.
Did all of the money that was supposed to go to aluminum in 2018, the money from the counter-tariffs, actually get to the aluminum industry, yes or no?
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I will answer for them: The Parliamentary Budget Officer told us that over $200 million was not used.
Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware of that $200 million?
What does she intend to do with it?
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for his question.
As he said, the Deputy Prime Minister has all the facts. She masterfully negotiated this file from the beginning to stand up to the threats of U.S. tariffs. We will continue to do just that and we will continue to invest because we know that aluminum is an important industry for Quebec. We did so in the past, we are doing so now, and we will continue to do so in the future.
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, when we listen to the Bloc Québécois's proposals, we see that they work. We saw that with aluminum.
We are going to make a suggestion. That money absolutely needs to go to the aluminum industry for secondary and tertiary processing. We are taking care of the $200 million that is left, but we want to see the promised $360 million and so do the unions.
Will that money immediately be sent directly to the aluminum industry?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
View Corey Tochor Profile
2020-08-12 14:24 [p.2768]
Mr. Chair, in late-breaking news today we have learned that the Liberals are now asking for proposals for a company to design their firearms gun grab program, a program designed to steal our freedoms under the cover of darkness with an order in council, a law that has not even been debated in the House of Commons. It is a shame, but the Liberals have no problem targeting law-abiding firearms owners. They should be spending their time and money targeting illegal guns being brought over the border for use in the drug-dealing gangster world.
Why do the Liberals not leave legal firearm owners alone and target the real criminals?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
View Corey Tochor Profile
2020-08-12 14:26 [p.2769]
Mr. Chair, I have a follow-up question about this proposed gun grab through a registry through a third-party program. Does the minister think that it will be less costly than the long-gun registry, or will it be more affordable?
View Corey Tochor Profile
CPC (SK)
View Corey Tochor Profile
2020-08-12 14:27 [p.2769]
Mr. Chair, the Conservative estimate for this program is over $10 billion. If you seriously want to reduce crime in Canada, you would not be spending $10 billion to buy back guns from law-abiding citizens. It makes no sense, Liberals. Wake up. This is an insane program that needs to be scrapped.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2020-08-12 14:30 [p.2769]
Mr. Chair, the COVID-19 pandemic is the worst public health crisis we have seen in generations.
It is a major threat to the well-being and prosperity of Canadians and people around the world. As a nation, we have done an amazing job of banding together from coast to coast to coast over the past few months to collectively address this unprecedented challenge.
Canada's intrinsic spirit can be seen in our essential and front-line workers and their staunch dedication to their communities. We owe them our deepest gratitude and, in some cases, our lives. We must also do our best to honour the many unsung heroes of these times.
Today, I am proud to shine a light on the innovative, tireless efforts of Canadian health care scientists and the important role that research plays in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada is lucky enough to have produced some brilliant minds, valuable assets that are sometimes underestimated.
In Quebec, in Montreal, I am thinking of all the researchers and scientists at the University of Montreal, McGill University, the Montreal Heart Institute, CHUM, Sainte-Justine Hospital and many others, who are working every day to develop innovative solutions for keeping everyone healthy.
Before this crisis, it is possible that we may have taken for granted our medical researchers who so often toil behind the scenes, but no longer. When the threat of COVID-19 first bore upon us, Canada's health research community stepped up without hesitation when we needed it most, and Canadians are forever grateful.
Even before the first cases were diagnosed in Canada, our government engaged with academic, industry, provincial and international partners to swiftly implement a research response to the pandemic. In February, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research was the first agency globally to launch an open call for COVID-19 research. Working closely with federal and provincial partners, the institutes sought to accelerate the development, testing and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19. Within a few short weeks of the initial launch, our Canadian Institutes of Health Research awarded peer-reviewed grants to 100 meritorious Canadian projects, a process that normally takes over a year.
Since then, bolstered by the $1.1-billion national medical research strategy that our government announced through our Prime Minister in April, the CIHR has already committed approximately $170 million and leveraged $25 million in partner funds for research on COVID-19. This very impressive outcome is a testament to the calibre of our health scientists and their commitment to protecting and improving the health of Canadians.
I am pleased to report that coordinated investment and mobilization through our Canadian Institutes of Health Research and other federal partners is advancing a broad and balanced portfolio of COVID-19 research.
We are advancing knowledge in fundamental research, new clinical guidelines and the assessment of the expected and unexpected effects of public health measures. We are advancing research aligned with Canadian and international priorities in the fields of therapeutics, transmission dynamics, diagnostics, public health measures and more. We are supporting clinical trials across Canada, as they are the best mechanism for offering Canadians experimental treatments while ensuring effectiveness. We are fast-tracking collaborative efforts to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.
Federal investment through our Canadian Institutes of Health Research is enabling leading vaccine centres in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia to join forces and pool their expertise and resources. To date, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research's COVID-19 rapid research competitions have awarded funding to 14 promising vaccine development studies. These investments complement the significant federal investment in vaccine research through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's strategic innovation fund. We are also fostering critical partnerships between academia and the medical industry for vaccine development.
The work that is being done on the ground is absolutely incredible. A Quebec company called Medicago is using its technology platform to develop antibodies against the virus in co-operation with Laval University. Of course, the goal of this research is to protect the health of Canadians. We need to ensure that we are putting enough focus on the Canadian context and the specific needs of various populations. That means investing in strategic, targeted research to help our most vulnerable groups.
In addition to increasing anxiety about our health and safety, this pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our personal lives. Job insecurity, isolation and the loss of a loved one all have significant impacts on our mental health. To address this, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is leading an initiative to provide urgent data to support decision-making on mental health responses to this pandemic. Guided by an external expert advisory panel, the initiative will inform the rapid deployment of psychological supports for mental health and substance use.
I am very happy to report that in the month of June a preliminary body of rapid knowledge syntheses was shared with decision-makers and partners within just 30 days of the funding allocation. These reports synthesize current evidence on mental health and substance use services, delivery guidelines and practices, and related issues placed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another very critical area of study pertains to the sex differences in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and associated immune responses. A government-funded team has already published results highlighting how different sex responses and the mechanisms behind them may help inform novel therapeutic approaches to COVID-19.
Research efforts are also focused on Canadian seniors. As we saw in many provinces, Canada's aging population is particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, as are residents of long-term care facilities, such as Quebec's CHSLDs.
A team funded by the Dalhousie University research institute recently published a paper on the impact of the virus on these care facilities, which proposed that biomarkers could help predict disease severity and explain why some residents are more severely affected than others.
Research on indigenous health also remains a priority for our government. We know that Canada's indigenous people were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The COVID-19 response lacked culturally appropriate, distinctions-based interventions grounded in sound evidence and indigenous knowledge. Consequently, we created a funding opportunity to address these deficiencies through bold and innovative strengths-based, solution-focused research led by the community.
While our foremost priority is the health of Canadians, we must recognize that a virus knows no borders. This is a global threat that requires a collaborative global response. This is why we are working in close concert with international partners, such as the World Health Organization, the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness and others. Through our international engagement in scientific research, we can leverage every opportunity to bring innovations home to Canadians while promoting homegrown expertise and leadership.
It is also extremely important to have evidence-based policy. As we work diligently to protect Canadians, we continue to base our decisions on the evolving body of evidence that exists in the research community, and we continue to learn more about the virus every day. We are connecting policy-making with science, for instance, through knowledge mobilization activities, and with supports for COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic task forces.
Investments in health research and in our researchers ultimately pays dividends in saved lives. We are heartened by the remarkable dedication and talent of our scientists, and our government has acknowledged its obligation to sustain Canada's research excellence. This means supporting our researchers now and into the post-pandemic recovery. I invite the members of this House to join me in recognizing the invaluable efforts of Canada's research community.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2020-08-12 14:42 [p.2771]
Mr. Chair, I believe that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have appeared before a committee. They have appeared before a committee in order to answer questions from opposition members such as the member opposite. That opportunity was provided in order to be as transparent as possible.
I believe that the government, throughout this crisis, has shown itself to be available to answer questions, even more questions than government members would normally answer if the House were sitting. I would also note that it is unprecedented in Canadian parliamentary history for a prime minister to appear before a committee, and our Prime Minister did.
View Mario Simard Profile
BQ (QC)
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-08-12 14:43 [p.2771]
Mr. Chair, I listened closely to my colleague. As the research and innovation critic, I was also interested in the Medicago file. Let me reiterate what happened.
The government launched several calls for proposals, three or four. A firm called AbCellera received its funding in short order. Medicago received a letter from the government in mid-April, I believe, stating that the firm would soon receive a letter outlining the terms and conditions. There was a lot of back and forth, and Medicago did not receive the letter until early July, if memory serves. AbCellera managed to get its letter very quickly, while Medicago had to wait three or four months. Investors were nervous.
I still wonder what could explain the government's unacceptable delay in responding to Medicago.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2020-08-12 14:44 [p.2771]
Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for the question, and I would be happy to get more details on this case to provide him with an answer.
It is very important for the government to do things right, as everyone in the House knows. In this specific case, it may have taken a few extra weeks to properly draft and understand this contract, and I think it is very important and perfectly normal to take the time to do that.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2020-08-12 14:46 [p.2772]
Mr. Chair, I would like to echo the comments of my hon. colleague with respect to the solidarity with which Canadians have come together during this pandemic. I would also like to express my wish for the continued solidarity of all parties in this chamber in order for us to continue working for the benefit of Canadians as we continue to fight COVID-19. We need to continue to come together to get to the other side of this crisis.
With respect to the specific question regarding the CERB program, I must admit that it is a program I hear of so much in my community, as I am sure I would in the communities of everybody in this House. I believe that there are over 8 million Canadians who have been helped by this extremely valuable program. It has allowed families to put food on the table, and pay for rent and housing.
As the Minister of Employment has indicated several times now, we are in the process of transitioning from CERB to employment insurance. However, this is not the previous employment insurance. It is a modernized, changed employment insurance, which will ensure that all Canadians receive the support and help that they need.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2020-08-12 14:48 [p.2772]
Mr. Chair, the question of child care is extremely important. As a mother of a young toddler, I know how important it is for mothers and fathers to have child care in order to go back to work and in order to resume activities.
We have committed, as a federal government, to substantial transfers for child care to our provinces. As the member opposite knows, we need to work in conjunction with the provinces on this issue, and we are working hand in hand with the provinces to ensure that all families have the child care that they need and deserve.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2020-08-12 14:50 [p.2772]
Mr. Chair, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, I have been working in close collaboration with colleagues on numerous programs throughout the crisis. I must say that small businesses in my community and in communities across the country have been extremely grateful for the programs and supports that we have put in place.
I am thinking in particular of the emergency business account. Over 715,000 small businesses are benefiting from this interest-free loan, which includes a grant. I am also thinking of the wage subsidy, which provided 75% subsidies on businesses' wages. This has allowed employees to continue to be paid while they, in order to stay safe, stayed home.
There are numerous other programs that are allowing our economy to bounce back. As I am sure the members of this House know, we have had several consecutive months of job growth in this country, far more than other countries around the world, and we are on track for an economic recovery.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, again, I am in the interesting position of supporting my Conservative colleague's comments that the Liberals tend to embellish and boast about things that happened a long time ago.
It is true that at the beginning of the pandemic, the government sought unprecedented special powers to deal with an unprecedented crisis and that, for a while, the government was open to a number of suggestions from the opposition parties. During this time, no one was questioning the urgency of the situation. The Liberal Party later slipped back into old habits and became the party we knew in the early 2000s. Members will recall the scandal that happened back then. The Liberals, showing a naïveté that would make Voltaire rethink Candide, thought no one would notice anything, as they took advantage of the special powers Parliament granted them, even though they are a minority government. One morning, a case popped up, and then another one. More cases could emerge. This is concerning.
I wanted to be here today. That is not the case for everyone, but I will definitely respect the rules of the House. I would not want to disturb the very large number of Liberals in the House, who I can count on both hands. I have far too much respect for elected officials and institutions to not show up one day out of five weeks in Canada's House of Commons. I was just wondering why, as a sovereignist, I sometimes have more respect for federal institutions than the members of the federal government do. There is something odd in this situation. It led me to consider something I shared with the media this morning, which was a fundamental question: Does the Canadian government deserve the confidence of Quebeckers and Canadians? That is not a trifling matter. It is the foundation of our democracy. There is no surefire way to confirm it. Quebeckers and Canadians are not connected to a “confidence meter”.
Canadians entrusted 338 members, who are the voice of the people, to manage the nation's affairs, and it is up to those 338 members to grant or withdraw their confidence in the government. The Liberal's performance, answers and attitude here today truly seem to suggest that the members on that side are somewhat lacking when it comes to inspiring confidence. It is our duty to raise the question because, as I was saying earlier, this Parliament granted the government exceptional powers in good faith. A few months later, we discovered, of course, the now infamous WE Charity, which will go down in history. I once again want to emphasize that the organization was later named UNIS, as though it somehow catered to francophones, when francophones in Quebec and Canada were not even on WE Charity's radar.
We are talking about astronomical amounts of money, mind-boggling amounts, and the participation of the contract recipient in the implementation of a program that was obviously tailor-made to ensure the government could claim that public servants were not capable of managing it. How insulting. Then, the managers of WE Charity, who had other governance problems, said that they were withdrawing, and the government gave the program back to those same public servants who it had claimed, not too long before, did not have the necessary expertise to manage the program. Eventually, there will be another scandal, and it will be the same old story all over again.
A Crown corporation agency is going to outsource it to a private company because it cannot manage it itself, even though it is bigger than the private company. That is appalling, because it amounts to the government failing to recognize the skills and qualifications of Canada's public servants. It makes no sense. On top of that, the government has a nasty habit of having friends who magically appear at just the right time to take on contracts for tens of millions of dollars. It is quite something. That is where we are at.
I have been taking notes this whole time. No one is talking about an energy transition, even though that should be a priority, since public investment in the economic recovery will also be historic. No one is talking about creating industrial innovation clusters. No one is talking about electrifying heavy-duty vehicles. I saw a report on that topic this morning. No one is talking about a number of things that could offer a way to get out of this crisis by creating economic activity.
No one is talking about fixes to certain programs that still fall short. Our colleague mentioned that earlier. Initially, we completely understood that there could be some gaps, since the program was created hastily and urgently, but after a while, enough is enough, and those gaps need to be filled. No one is talking about that. They are talking about the scandals.
Seniors who got a cheque that was supposed to cover a three-month period are not getting a second cheque. The three months ended a long time ago, and when they got their cheque, another one was supposed to be in the works. Seniors received $300 to get through the crisis, while the Liberal Party paid itself $850,000 through the wage subsidy program. Soon the Liberal Party will have $1.8 million in its pocket that it can use for the next election campaign. Seniors are being offered $300. If they get the guaranteed income supplement, they receive an extra $200. Seniors feel like this government is laughing in their faces.
Meanwhile, they have not written the second cheque to farmers for supply management. They could very well have done it, as they do not need to table a budget to pay out the second year of the compensation that the government promised. Meanwhile, the fundamental problem with the scholarship program that was to have been managed by WE Charity has not been resolved, even though it falls under Quebec's jurisdiction.
It is easy to manage the WE Charity. The government has to calculate Quebec's share, write a cheque and send it to the Legault government. He will manage it because it is within his authority. No, the temptation is too strong. The Liberals want to centralize everything, interfere in Quebec's and the provinces' jurisdiction and hand out contracts to their friends. Then they wonder why some people, like us, have serious reservations.
Is it better to trigger an election if this government refuses to change some key players? Is it better to let the government continue like this than to trigger an election? This is not a disease. This morning, the government said that calling an election would be risky because of the pandemic. That is true. This all started with the pandemic. That may be true, but the government still needs to address the real issues. If we were to agree that we cannot call an election while a second and third wave are looming, this government would continue to act as though it were a majority government, a government that ignores its own scandals and acts as though we are living under a temporary dictatorship. That is obviously a preposterous notion.
That is why the Bloc Québécois is saying that some people need to go. The Prime Minister needs to go. The Minister of Finance needs to go. They may be prepared to agree on this, but throwing one person under the bus will not save the other. The Prime Minister's chief of staff needs to go, so that people who are ostensibly qualified can take over for at least six months and manage this crisis effectively. After six months, I can make no promises.
It is only natural that Parliament ask questions about the fact that the management of the crisis was used to the advantage of the Liberals to help them get re-elected or to help out their friends after they or members of their families received sums of money much larger than what would have been needed to save many businesses in Quebec and Canada. For that reason, we need to ask ourselves some important questions.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I have two things to say.
First, and I will not translate all that for Quebeckers, if the hon. member said that I want to serve my party, it is because he recognizes that my party is currently doing very well. I thank the Liberals for that because it is partly due to their own incompetence.
Second, are the Liberals sometimes capable of doing good things without lining their friends' pockets?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, I would not go so far as to call it a kleptocracy. We will wait a few weeks before going there.
However, I understand that some people are very worried: people who pay consumption and income taxes, people who work, people who want to work but cannot, and people who should return to work but are deterred by the programs. There is a problem and we have to find solutions for the common good.
It is a real problem when we continue to hear that public money that could save dozens of companies ends up in the pockets of people who, oddly enough, are close to the system or, even worse, in the pockets of people who channelled tens of thousands of dollars to the families of the two main leaders of this government.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, as I said earlier, there are things that Parliament and the government are not doing because they are busy dealing with some not-so-good things. It is true that, not too long ago, the government seemed to be on a roll, perhaps leading it to believe that it might stick around.
However, once again, the government has shot itself in the foot. It is spending all of its time shooting itself in the foot, and we are now faced with a series of scandals that have Quebeckers and Canadians saying, “same old story, same old gang”.
Those are definitely a concern, but as a result, we have failed to adequately address issues such as supply management and the payment of compensation. We have not spent enough time talking about some other supply-managed sectors, namely, the egg and poultry sectors.
Again today, there are several issues that we did not spend much time on.
We in the Bloc Québécois will address these issues; we will talk about aluminum shortly. It is important. It is major. It is vital for Quebec, but today, we are addressing Liberal turpitude rather than dealing with serious issues. Aluminum was not properly protected and the protections against what the American government had basically already announced were not discussed, considered or implemented. We presented a series of proposals to the government and we are asking that it find someone who has time to look at them in order to protect Quebec aluminum.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alain Therrien Profile
2020-08-12 15:30 [p.2778]
Mr. Chair, the Liberal Party really suffered as a result of the sponsorship scandal in the early 2000s. Canadians put the Liberals in the penalty box for over 10 years. Now, with the WE Charity and the wage subsidy program, they have been caught with both hands in the cookie jar. It seems this sort of behaviour is in their DNA and they are unable to change. They see a cookie jar and they just cannot help themselves from digging in.
I have a simple question for my colleague, who I commend for his speech. Let us consider the sponsorship scandal. Is there not a resemblance to today's WE Charity scandal? Are we not seeing the same old Liberal patterns playing out?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, it would be so easy to agree, but I do not want to say yes, because we have other work to do.
Of course, for the media and for many parliamentarians, the big question is this: Will the Bloc Québécois and the Conservatives manage to convince the NDP to stop supporting the Liberals? That, however, is not the real question.
The real question is whether the government can survive for six months by replacing the bad guys with good guys. That is all we are asking for. If we could have that, the government could avoid all the comparisons with other scandals that were awful for Quebec, for Canada and for the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party certainly has no desire to return to the back benches. Can we simply put the right people in the right place to get good results? That way, no one would have to be brought down.
View François-Philippe Champagne Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Chair, I thank you for recognizing me. I could not resist the temptation of asking the leader of the Bloc Québécois a question.
He was telling us that he went on vacation in the Gaspé. He told us to stay the course. Staying the course is exactly what this government is doing. I would ask the Bloc leader to talk to us about creating jobs, the economic recovery, and health and safety because the school year is about to begin. We want constructive ideas.
We are aware that in a democracy like ours, the people across the way in the opposition parties have a role to play. Today, I am giving the leader of the Bloc the opportunity to give us constructive measures that we might use to create jobs, help the economy recover, and ensure the health and safety of the young people who will be going back to school very soon.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Chair, that is all well and good, but our situations are rather different.
I am doing my job of looking after my riding and, when I am not there, I am visiting the rest of Quebec. By the way, the Magdalen Islands are not part of the Gaspé region. The hon. minister's job is to travel around the world. Of course, when he returns, he must do a little tour of the Mauricie, which is a wonderful region.
Just a few minutes ago, I proposed some economic measures, but I will make one specific proposal to the minister.
Would it be possible to establish funds and empower the regions to determine their own economic future based on their specific characteristics, expertise, vision and desire to have greener technologies and create wealth?
These decisions must be made by the regions. To that end, the pandemic recovery strategy must be driven by Quebec's regions and not by a foreign multinational in 2021.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
BQ (QC)
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-08-12 16:09 [p.2784]
Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I must say that I have absolutely no reason to doubt his motives, which seem to be quite noble. I had the opportunity to meet him soon after the election, during the orientation sessions for new members. At the time, I thought he had run for office with the goal of serving his constituents and the Canadian public. I think his motivation was truly sincere.
How does he feel about the fact that the government took advantage of the support of the opposition parties, which was given in good faith to address the pandemic, to literally stop answering to Parliament and prevent it from working?
The government is acting as if it were a majority government, which it is not. It must be accountable to Parliament. If I were a Liberal member of Parliament today, I would be very distressed to see that democracy is being hijacked in Parliament. This cannot be allowed to go on.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, what we have before us with the WE corruption scandal is an organization that receives sole-sourced contracts from the government, from the taxpayer. The organization then sets up a real estate company and gobbles up over $40 million worth of prime downtown Toronto real estate. It also pays members of the Prime Minister's immediate family cash for speaking engagements. It also provides a huge platform for Liberals to do their campaigning. The organization even did an election-style ad promoting the Prime Minister.
However, it gets into trouble. Red flags start going up about its bank covenant, members of the board resign and so it lobbies the government and the government gives it another sole-sourced contract from which it can take $40 million worth of administration.
Canadians, rightly, are concerned by this kind of “You scratch my back, I scratch your back” type of relationship with a Liberal-friendly organization. Therefore, I have a series of very simple yes or no questions to help Canadians understand the depths of this scandal.
Was the Prime Minister aware that the agreement he signed with this organization was not with the WE Charity itself but was with a shell corporation that has no assets and no history of charitable work?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:16 [p.2703]
Mr. Speaker, as was made clear at committee, the non-partisan public service recommended this approach as the only way to deliver this program in the timeline required this summer during COVID. Last week, I acknowledged that I should have recused myself and I apologized.
However, our goal was and is to provide opportunities for students to serve in their communities right across the country in this unprecedented time. Obviously the way it unfolded was regrettable and the program is no longer unfolding, as we have said.
In regard to aspects of the WE Charity Foundation, the public service worked to find the best possible delivery of this program to get student grants for volunteer hours. The public service worked with the WE organization to develop the agreement and the work was done and negotiated at the officials' level in those details.
We have consistently approached it as a way of empowering young people across the country, the way other governments of all stripes have worked with this organization in the past.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has to understand that it is not about his recusing himself from this decision. The Clerk of the Privy Council himself said that it would be impossible for the Prime Minister and the finance minister to recuse themselves from giving a sole-source contract to an organization with such close ties to the Liberal Party and his immediate family.
Was the Prime Minister aware that the sole stated purpose of the shell corporation that signed the contracts was to hold real estate?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:18 [p.2703]
Mr. Speaker, as I said, governments of all stripes, including Stephen Harper's government, worked closely with this organization to deliver opportunities for young people. When it came to negotiating the specific contract with this organization, the civil service worked out the details of that.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, he answered “no” to the previous question, but he could not answer yes or no to that question, so I wonder what that means.
Did the Prime Minister or anyone in his office speak to WE or anyone at WE prior to his April 22 announcement on the student grant?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:19 [p.2703]
Mr. Speaker, giving opportunities to young people through service and volunteer work across the country has been important to this government for an awfully long time. We will continue to look to create opportunities for young people.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this committee meeting on COVID-19 is to ensure that we are doing all we can to protect people's health and safety and help the economic recovery.
But what are we talking about? The only thing we are talking about is a situation that could be extremely bad for the management of the Canadian government. Is the Prime Minister concerned about how little time that leaves him to manage the country?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:20 [p.2704]
No, Mr. Speaker, I am not concerned.
Yesterday, we passed an essential bill that will ensure that the emergency wage subsidy applies to more businesses and for a longer period of time. Last week, we negotiated a $19-billion agreement with the provinces and territories for a safe restart.
We are continuing to work on things that count for Canadians. It is up to the opposition parties to choose what they want to ask questions about.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, when I do not have time to do something, I pay someone else who can do it better than I can.
The legislation we passed proves that Parliament and Canada do not need the Prime Minister as such, given his current state of mind. I am sure people know where I am going with this.
Was the Prime Minister aware that another not-for-profit organization wanted to get into real estate and that it would be getting millions of dollars from Canadians and Quebeckers?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:21 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, as I have said, the public service worked out the details of the arrangement.
I want to emphasize that, since the beginning of the pandemic, we have taken a creative and robust approach to delivering assistance to Canadians during this unprecedented situation. We have provided tremendous support to our seniors, our entrepreneurs, our families and our children, and that is what we will continue to do.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
BQ (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I do not want to speculate on the outcome of any work to be done. The opposition parties are asking questions, the committees will be asking questions and the media will have some questions. We will get to the bottom of this.
Is the Prime Minister telling us that he is putting in the time to manage the WE scandal or that he is not doing his job and not dealing with it?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-07-22 12:22 [p.2704]
Mr. Speaker, a prime minister has a great deal of work to do and I am managing numerous files concurrently.
The main issue I am dealing with is of course this pandemic, the economic and health crisis currently facing millions of Canadians. We are delivering for them.
Furthermore, I am also getting ready to answer any other questions the media, Canadians and the opposition parties might have. I can assure this House that my time is very well managed.
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