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Results: 1 - 15 of 56
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
All those opposed to the hon. member moving the motion will please say nay.
The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-07-22 15:28 [p.2734]
Madam Chair, I too am so proud to be able to work with the member for Edmonton Strathcona. She is an amazing representative.
This was not necessarily in her speech, but earlier today in the House, as members worked together, we talked a lot about child care. I have heard repeatedly, as the NDP critic for women and gender equality, that we are not going to restart this economy until we have a meaningful, universal, publicly funded system of national child care.
I would ask the member to comment on some of the programs that are unfolding, some of the asks that experts in that field have made of the government in the last few days and what we need to move forward in terms of a national strategy?
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-07-21 10:44 [p.2657]
Mr. Speaker, as we talk about the recovery of the economy, obviously a huge part of it is child care. Workplaces have continually expressed the need for a national public system of affordable child care.
The government has put forward an economic recovery plan, but the $625 million that has been allocated to child care is simply not enough. Some are calling for $2.5 billion.
I am wondering what the member across the way has to say about the huge difference in realities and the need to do a lot more on child care.
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mona Fortier Profile
2020-07-20 12:23 [p.2584]
moved that Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour today to introduce in the House Bill C-20, an act respecting further COVID-19 measures.
COVID-19 has been a profound shock to our economy and has profoundly changed the way we go about our daily lives. Canadians have come together to flatten the curve, and economies are now gradually and safely reopening. It is a crisis that has called for quick, decisive leadership to stabilize the economy, to protect jobs, to ensure that workers and families can put food on the table and to prevent long-term damage to our economy. Our government has worked tirelessly to answer this call.
Protecting Canadian jobs has been a priority for us since the beginning of the pandemic. Our government recognizes the importance of protecting the link between workers and their employers. Businesses thrive when owners and employees work as a team. We know that for businesses to stay ready to bounce back, it is vitally important that they maintain that link with the employees they have trained, employees who have earned the trust of customers and whom they have been working with for years.
We launched the Canada emergency wage subsidy to give businesses, non-profits and charitable organizations support so that they could keep and rehire workers. To date, this program has helped around three million workers keep their jobs. That means millions of families have had paycheques to rely on throughout this.
This program has been available to employers of all sizes across Canada and across sectors. It is here to make sure that even as this crisis causes unprecedented uncertainty, employers have the certainty that they can pay their workers.
The CEWS has been an important part of our economic response plan and is providing support to a broad base of businesses. It has had a significant impact: In May, one in four private sector employees was covered by the wage subsidy.
This pandemic is unprecedented in nature, and the situation continues to evolve. We are ensuring that our programs are also evolving.
Today, we are introducing a bill that will make the wage subsidy more effective, flexible and responsive. These changes will give businesses a longer runway to recovery, expand program eligibility to include a larger number of workplaces, provide more targeted support to the hardest-hit businesses and, by so doing, protect a greater number of Canadian jobs.
In the spring we began consulting with businesses and labour representatives on what adjustments we could make to the program, so that we could help more Canadians get hired back and help businesses grow. During the consultations we heard from many employers that the CEWS was invaluable in keeping workers on the payroll and helping to bring workers back. However, employers understand, like all Canadians do, that our economic recovery will be gradual.
Many people we spoke with shared the view that the subsidy should be extended past the initial 12-week extension. They also shared many ideas on how the adjustment to CEWS could support businesses and employees as the economy restarts and businesses recover and grow. One thing they were worried about was the current program design's cliff effect, which is that even if a business picked up slowly, once it grew past the 30% revenue decline threshold it would not have the support it was relying on in order to pay workers.
No business should feel it has to choose between reopening, growing and hiring or getting the support it needs.
Many of the people we have talked to have also said that businesses want the government to dial back the wage subsidy as revenue goes up to ensure stable support during recovery.
Canadians know that recovery will be a gradual process because we want to do it safely. We do not think businesses should be penalized for doing the right thing and taking the necessary precautions to protect their community.
Whether it is a restaurant that is not at full capacity so that it can keep a safe distance between diners, or a front-line non-profit organization that is making sure all of its workers have proper PPE and training before going back on the job, or a store that has adjusted its hours to make sure it is properly cleaned, we see organizations working hard to figure out how to operate safely as we all adjust to living with COVID-19.
Other Canadians told us that the current 30% revenue decline test kept many of Canada's affected businesses from getting this much-needed support. They brought up the idea of tiered support to help businesses that are struggling as they face the challenges of this pandemic, but have not seen a full 30% reduction in revenue.
Overall, businesses have a strong sense that the road to recovery will be gradual and uncertain. Employers want to know that they will have support past this summer in order to stay strong through the challenges we face.
Information gleaned on the ground about how well our programs are working and how we can make them even more useful is priceless. Given what we have learned, we are proposing changes to the wage subsidy that will encourage employers to resume operations and keep hiring Canadians as the economy opens up. Our bill will make those changes happen.
With Bill C-20 we are proposing to extend the CEWS until November 21, 2020, with the intent of providing further support through the CEWS until December 19, 2020.
This bill would also broaden eligibility, making this subsidy available to more employers and protecting more workers. The changes in this bill would also promote growth as the economy continues to recover from the shock of this pandemic.
Effective July 5, 2020, the CEWS would consist of two parts: a base subsidy available to all eligible employers experiencing a decline in revenues, with the subsidy amount varying depending on the scale of revenue decline, and a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for employers most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
The maximum base subsidy rate would be provided to employers experiencing a revenue drop of 50% or more, with the rate gradually declining for employers experiencing a revenue drop between 49% and zero. This would extend access to the CEWS to a broader range of employers. Organizations that have been struggling but have had revenue declines of less than 30% would be able to access the wage subsidy for the first time. This would open the program to a whole new range of employers, providing the base subsidy rate support to active employees and helping protect more of the jobs Canadians rely on.
For employers who have been deeply affected, those who experienced a revenue drop of more than 50% over three months on average, we are offering a top-up subsidy for their workers of up to 25% of their pay. This measure will be particularly helpful for employees working in industries that are recovering more slowly. As I said, our plan consists in building a bridge to a safer place for Canadians during this emergency situation.
Lastly, we want to make sure this program provides no barriers to growth. By removing the 30% revenue decline threshold, employers already on the program will not have to worry that they will lose support they are still relying on as they grow. We will still be there to provide support as they work to recover and restore growth.
We know this new CEWS will be a welcome change, and that a lot of businesses have made plans based on the existing design for the next two periods of the CEWS from July 5 to August 29. We are creating a safe harbour where they can be confident they will still qualify, at a minimum, for the same level of support for those CEWS periods as under the previous design.
Thanks to this new more effective design, the emergency wage subsidy will help even more employers who are all at various stages of reopening. If they experienced a greater decline in revenue, they will receive a higher subsidy.
The gradual reduction in assistance given to businesses that are successfully reopening will ensure that they get stable and predictable support as their activities resume. These changes will make businesses more competitive and will help increase the number of employees returning to work thanks to the emergency wage subsidy.
This proposed design of the CEWS would ensure the program continues to address the immediate needs of businesses while also positioning them for a strong recovery.
Our government believes in the resilience of Canadians and the ability of our businesses to find innovative ways to keep going and to grow back stronger, but these are extraordinary times and businesses continue to need support to do this.
Our plan is to help Canadians stay strong throughout this storm. It will protect Canadians' health and ensure that we have the best tools and systems to monitor the virus. It will provide the financial support that Canadians with disabilities need. It will also help mothers and fathers feed their families, make it possible for youth to follow their dreams and ensure that no one is left behind.
It is also about keeping our communities strong, giving needed support to the shops and restaurants that define our neighbourhoods and making sure the outreach centres and community organizations that support our most vulnerable can keep being there for people.
COVID-19 has affected all aspects of Canadians' quality of life, from their health to their livelihoods. We created programs to support students, seniors, families and workers so they would not have to make impossible choices between paying their bills and keeping food on the table. It is now critically important that we pursue inclusive growth and continue to support our most vulnerable. That is why I am working on incorporating quality of life measurements into decision-making, including in the economic response plan.
In addition to the support provided by the Canada emergency wage subsidy, more than eight million Canadians have received the Canada emergency response benefit, which has helped them pay for groceries, rent and prescription medications. We have also provided financial support to millions of vulnerable Canadians through existing programs, such as the goods and services tax credit, the Canada child benefit, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement.
Canadians with disabilities are facing increased costs, too, and need support. This legislation would help an estimated 1.7 million Canadians living with disabilities qualify for a special payment of up to $600 so they can have access to the support they need.
We are also working to make sure businesses can get the liquidity support they need. From the Canada emergency business account and the business credit availability program to the large employer emergency financing facility, we are providing tailored support to workers and employers of every size across this country to make sure that no matter where people work, their employers have access to support.
We are making sure that no business is left behind. We have allocated $962 million to the regional relief and recovery fund, administered by the six regional development agencies across Canada, in order to support the affected companies that are essential to the regional and local economy, including in rural communities. These companies create good local jobs, and they support our families and the communities they serve.
We are also investing in indigenous businesses, providing almost $307 million in funding to help small and medium-sized indigenous businesses, and $133 million to support indigenous business through the recovery, including micro-businesses that are not eligible for other support programs.
We have also provided support for women entrepreneurs who are facing hardship during the pandemic, through $15 million in new funding from the women entrepreneurship strategy.
Canadians' collective actions have helped control the virus here at home. Canadians want to go back to work, but they need the confidence they can do it safely. Across Canada, economies are reopening and we are seeing our streets come back to life, but it is a bit different than before, and that is a good thing. We need to make sure we are staying safe.
COVID-19 has not disappeared. We need to take action to protect ourselves and our neighbours against another out-of-control outbreak. All employers are required to strictly follow the latest public health guidelines in order to protect their patrons, their workers and their communities.
We must always remember that our collective economic success is fundamentally linked to our public health outcomes. The $19-billion safe restart agreement our government reached with provinces and territories last week is helping Canadians stay safe and healthy and ensuring we are more resilient to possible future waves. This funding will enhance capacity for testing, contact tracing and data management.
Through this funding, we will be able to secure reliable sources of personal protective equipment, which will help protect our front-line workers and health care workers. It will also enable the provinces and territories to provide temporary income support, so that workers who are not entitled to paid sick leave can get 10 days of paid sick leave related to COVID-19.
The funding will help in many other ways, including by making sure there are enough safe child care spaces available so that parents can go back to work.
Our government will not stop working to help Canadians face the challenges of COVID-19. We stand ready to take additional actions, as needed, to stabilize the economy, protect Canadians and position them for a strong restart as we emerge from the crisis. By recognizing and addressing the challenges employers are facing and providing the support they need to restart, the enhancement to the Canada emergency wage subsidy proposed in Bill C-20 is another important step in our work to support the resilience of Canadians and help them bridge through to better times.
It is on all of us, as hon. members in the House, to make sure we remain focused on the ongoing crisis at hand and put the immediate needs of Canadians first. Canadians have demonstrated their ability to put old habits aside and come together for the greater good. I encourage the members of this House to do the same so that Canadians can get the support they deserve without further delay.
I urge all hon. members of the House to support the speedy passage of Bill C-20 so that we can protect jobs in this country and get Canadians back to work.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-07-08 13:42 [p.2551]
Madam Chair, I will be splitting my time with the member for Hamilton Mountain.
As the economy starts to reopen and many child care providers must reduce their capacity due to physical distancing measures, investments in child care are more crucial now than ever. Since women make up half of Canada's workforce, there will be no recovery without women, and they cannot recover without child care.
Will the government commit to establishing universal, high-quality child care?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
2020-07-08 13:43 [p.2551]
Madam Chair, we are committed to helping parents access safe, affordable, accessible and quality child care. Since 2015, we have put into place over 40,000 affordable child care spaces for families in need. We are committed to creating an additional 250,000 before- and after-school programs.
We are committed to this sector because we recognize that early learning and child care is crucial for our economic recovery.
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
NDP (ON)
View Lindsay Mathyssen Profile
2020-07-08 13:43 [p.2552]
Madam Chair, there is not a national standard across the board.
Today in committee, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality agreed to establish an act for child care like the Canada Health Act to ensure that children and parents would have equal access no matter where they lived in Canada to high-quality and affordable early learning and child care.
How long will Canadians have to wait for this act and how will the government back it up with the necessary funding?
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ahmed Hussen Profile
2020-07-08 13:44 [p.2552]
Madam Chair, we have dedicated funding in the amount of $7.5 billion over the next 11 years. Those investments are continuing. We have also managed to continue to work on the renewal of the agreements we have with provinces and territories. I indicated to the member that we have, as a Liberal government, been responsible for the creation of over 40,000 affordable child care spaces. We are committed to creating over a quarter of a million before- and after-school child care spaces.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am ready to rule on a question of privilege raised on February 18, 2020, by the member for Timmins—James Bay concerning the government's response to written Question No. 163.
In his intervention, the member alleged that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada deliberately misled the House in a response to a written question about the costs incurred in legal proceedings related to Canadian Human Rights Tribunal cases. In short, the member argued that there is a discrepancy between the costs specified in the government's response and the amounts provided to members of the public who obtained the information through access to information requests. In his opinion, the government is in contempt of the House for having deliberately misled it by providing incomplete or inaccurate information in its answer to written Question No. 163.
In response, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader asserted that the government uses a consistent formula for calculating litigation costs when responding to written questions, while the methodology used for the compilation of the amounts obtained by other people is unknown. He added that this discrepancy in the information by no means suggests that the calculations by the government were done in bad faith or to deliberately mislead the House, and that this matter should not be considered a legitimate question of privilege since it consisted more in a debate as to the facts. In other words, his view is that members disagree on how the final number was arrived at, but that such disagreements are not unusual in debating an issue from different perspectives.
I thank the members for their interventions. Essentially, the member for Timmins—James Bay contends that the response was deliberately misleading because, as he mentioned in his remarks, it does not align with the information obtained by an academic and a journalist through other means, while the parliamentary secretary suggests that the methodologies employed by other sources may have differed from the one employed by the government.
Ultimately, this seems to be a dispute as to facts which, as Speaker, it is not my role to assess. Our precedents on this subject are clear and, as stated in House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 529:
There are no provisions in the rules for the Speaker to review government responses to questions.
Furthermore, in the case before us, contrary to the precedents cited by the member for Timmins—James Bay, we do not have a situation where the same individual has presented two different sets of facts to the House, nor is there any evidence to suggest that there was an attempt to deliberately mislead the House. For these reasons, the Chair cannot find that there is a prima facie question of privilege in this case.
It may be that the member for Timmins—James Bay is not satisfied with the response he received. There is however an array of options available for him to pursue this issue, whether it be resubmitting a written question worded differently or by asking questions to the minister directly during Oral Questions or a committee meeting.
The parliamentary secretary, in his intervention on February 25, 2020, also suggested that members could approach a minister or a parliamentary secretary directly to seek clarification when they feel that the information is incomplete or appears to be inconsistent with other sources of information. He contended that, more often than not, these inconsistencies may simply be a mistake, an omission or a misunderstanding instead of a deliberate attempt to mislead the House.
The Chair must admit that perhaps better communication between members, who seek the information, and the government, which provides that information, could be a solution to improve how the information is shared in this process, without escalating any dissatisfaction to a question of privilege. However, the Chair wants to reassure the House that whenever members feel that their privileges have been breached, it is their right to bring the matter to the attention of the Speaker in this way.
In conclusion, as Speakers before me have expressed several times, I would like to reiterate the importance of the accuracy of information from the government on which the members rely to perform their parliamentary duties.
I thank all members for their attention.
View Kyle Seeback Profile
CPC (ON)
View Kyle Seeback Profile
2020-02-24 15:44 [p.1442]
Madam Speaker, it is always a great day when I get to rise in this chamber and speak on behalf of the residents of Dufferin—Caledon.
I want to point out that I will be sharing my time with the member for Steveston—Richmond East.
The first thing I want to do is acknowledge the importance of the path to reconciliation. This is something that is critical for our country. If we take a look at some of the things that have gone on over the past few weeks, they are exact representations of the failure of reconciliation.
Before I get into the main part of my remarks, I want to briefly talk about some of the things that have gone on in this country that have been so detrimental to indigenous peoples. The first thing that jumps out at me is that, up until 1960, indigenous people could only vote if they gave up their status. This is a shameful history in this country and something that needs to be addressed through reconciliation.
The issue I have today is that this particular piece of legislation is, in my estimation, really about virtue signalling. It is the low-hanging fruit. If this were the 94th of 94 recommendations we were to proceed on, then let us talk about it, but it is not. My colleague from the NDP just pointed out we are at nine of 94 recommendations that have been completed in five years. If we work that out, it is 2.25 per year, and to complete them all will take 38 years. The path the government is on for reconciliation is a winding, meandering path that is taking us nowhere quickly.
I also want to talk about the fact that we have precious time in this chamber. If we look at the 42nd Parliament, we might wonder how many pieces of government legislation actually passed. I took a look, and it was 85. When we factor out budget implementation bills, the budget and other things, it is significantly less than that. It is around 73, which is about 15 or 16 pieces of legislation passed per year.
Why am I saying this is an issue? Let us talk about that, because there are 94 recommendations that have been put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and there has been action on nine. Let us look at some of the things that have not been proceeded on. I think it is important to look at what the Liberals are not doing when we look at what they are doing.
There were 18 recommendations under the category of justice. How many do members think the government has accomplished? Is it half? No. Twenty-five per cent? No. It is one. That is all it has done. We are dealing with an amendment to the citizenship oath, but guess what is in those recommendations? I will start with one, recommendation number 33, under justice. It states:
We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments to recognize as a high priority the need to address and prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and to develop, in collaboration with Aboriginal people, FASD preventive programs that can be delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.
Is that what we are debating today? Is that what we are going to be debating down the road? No, it is not. Do members know why? It is because it is a tough one, where the government has to get its nose to the grindstone and do some real work. It is not, so it put this one in to say that it is doing something. It is time to move past doing something and work on issues that are of critical importance.
I will point out one more under justice. This one is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. Call to action number 37 states:
We call upon the federal government to provide more supports for Aboriginal programming in halfway houses and parole services.
Where are we on that? Has any progress been made on that? No, absolutely not. This is what we are dealing with.
I am going to continue. On child welfare, there are five recommendations under child welfare. How many have been completed by the government? Zero.
Let us look at some of the recommendations there. Recommendation number 4 under child welfare states:
We call upon the federal government to enact Aboriginal child-welfare legislation that establishes national standards for Aboriginal child apprehension and custody cases and includes principles.
Again, this is the federal government. The government cannot say that it has provincial partners and others that are not doing anything. This is the federal government.
That is something incredibly worth pursuing. With the precious time that we have in this House, why would this not be what we are debating today? Instead, we are talking about a symbolic gesture. From what I can tell, first nations communities, indigenous communities are tired of symbolic gestures. They want real action on reconciliation.
I am also going to speak on education.
How many recommendations are there in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report with respect to education? There are seven. How many has the government actually completed out of those seven? It will be no surprise, based on the previous answer, that it is zero. Nothing has been done.
There is another one exclusively within federal jurisdiction. Once again, the government cannot say that it is the provinces or, as it likes to do, bring out the big bogeyman, the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford. The government cannot blame him for this.
Recommendation number 7 states:
We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
Why is that not what we are debating? Once again, this is the hard work that has to be done. In fact, right now, there is a $10-billion class action lawsuit against the government for underfunding education. Are we dealing with that? No. It is tied up in court. The government is going to say, “Look over here. We're making changes to the citizenship oath. Don't worry about all this other substantive stuff we are not doing.”
Recommendation number 8, also under education, also the federal government, states:
We call upon the federal government to eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First Nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.
Once again, we hear crickets from the government on a significant and substantial recommendation from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The action from the government is like its action on so many files: It is absolutely non-existent. Indigenous communities deserve better than virtue signalling on the citizenship oath.
My final points are going to be with respect to health.
There are seven recommendations with respect to health. I am on a bit of a roll here, so I am going to say this: How many of the seven recommendations on health has the government completed? Zero. That is exactly it.
Recommendation No. 21 states:
We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.
I will conclude by asking this: Why is that not what we are debating here in the House today instead of something simple and easy, like a change to the citizenship oath? Indigenous Canadians deserve real action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and this is not it.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-18 10:23 [p.1120]
Mr. Speaker, I do not know if I have had the opportunity to do so, but I would like to congratulate you on your excellent position as my neighbour and as Speaker of the House.
As we are talking about the relationship between first nation people, I rise on a question of privilege pursuant to Standing Order 48, to state that I believe my parliamentary privilege was violated by the Minister of Justice and his staff.
It is my belief that the minister and his staff misled the House on a fundamental issue, which is the legal cost of fighting indigenous children at the Human Rights Tribunal and in federal court. I consequently believe that, because they have provided this misinformation, the minister should be held in contempt of Parliament.
We have had a lot of talk this week about the importance of the rule of law. I find this issue especially pertinent when we are talking about the actions of the justice department and the Attorney General, who apparently believe they are above Parliament when it comes to their obligation to respond to Order Paper questions on fundamental questions of fact, not opinions on facts. If you will indulge me, Mr. Speaker, I will present the facts of this case as succinctly as possible.
On December 9, 2019, I gave notice pursuant to Standing Order 39 of a written question seeking information regarding the legal fees for the hours and the associated costs the government has incurred due to legal proceedings related to Human Rights Tribunal cases against first nation children between 2007 and 2019. The Department of Justice provided a written response to this question in late January 2020 stating, “Based upon the hours recorded, the total amount of legal costs incurred amounts to approximately $5,261,009.14, as of December 9, 2019.”
As a stand-alone figure, the idea that the federal government would have spent $5.2 million fighting the rights of the most vulnerable children in this country is shocking. However, it has come to my attention that these numbers are extremely misleading. I have brought this forward because evidence contrary to the justice official's came out last week when I was representing Canada in Washington, so this is my first opportunity to address this.
Ms. Cindy Blackstock, who has been involved in this case from the beginning, has tabled documents she has received through multiple ATIPs from the justice department about the costs incurred between 2007 and 2017. The number Ms. Blackstock has provided, through the justice department's own documents, is $9.4 million spent fighting indigenous children in court.
APTN has analyzed the numbers and has come up with a slightly more conservative figure of $8.3 million as of 2017, but that is still substantially higher than what the Minister of Justice stated the department has spent up until now. This does not include any of the costs incurred after 2017.
I will remind the Speaker that when the government was found guilty of reckless discrimination against first nation children in 2016, the Prime Minister made a solemn vow that he would respect the rulings of the Human Rights Tribunal. He said he would address this and would not fight this.
However, there have been nine non-compliance orders, as well as a battle in federal court attempting to quash the ruling and deny the rights of children who are in the broken child welfare system. It is clear the numbers we have up to 2017 from the Minister of Justice's office are higher than $8.3 million and higher than the false $5.2 million he provided through the Order Paper.
How can the House make sense of these contradictory numbers? We are not talking about opinions. The issue goes to the heart of the Prime Minister's promise on reconciliation to create a new relationship based on trust. It must also be based on the trust of parliamentarians, when they use tools like the Order Paper question to get factual responses so they can do their jobs.
This ongoing legal battle against first nation children has had a corrosive effect on the Prime Minister's brand and it would appear to me that it cannot be explained away as a matter of opinion attempting to downplay the numbers.
Page 111 of Erskine May: A treatise on the law, privileges, proceedings and the usage of Parliament explicitly states that misleading the House can be considered an issue of contempt. It states, “The Commons may treat the making of a deliberately misleading statement as a contempt.”
Similarly, page 82 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice quotes the United Kingdom Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in listing various types of contempt, which includes “deliberately attempting to mislead the House or a committee (by way of statement, evidence or petition)”.
We know being wrong is not a matter of privilege, but misleading the House is. That is why various Speakers, your predecessors, have used the test laid out in page 85 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice. It states:
...the following elements have to be established when it is alleged that a Member is in contempt for deliberately misleading the House: one, it must be proven that the statement was misleading; two, it must be established that the Member making the statement knew at the time that the statement was incorrect; and three, that in making the statement, the Member intended to mislead the House.
I believe these tests can be met in this case.
First, if we review the criteria that I have just read, the statement given to me was misleading because there exists in the public domain, in the documents of the Minister of Justice, conflicting information regarding these documents. The minister only provided me with the costs of the hours recorded, but not with the associated legal fees.
Second, the minister knew that his statement was misleading since the ministry with which he is charged provided different information to Ms. Cindy Blackstock, yet his signature on the document was tabled in the House.
Third, the minister intended to mislead the House since he intentionally avoided answering parts of the question that would provide clarity, a point made clear by the fact that the minister omitted to mention all additional legal fees and only provided the cost of hours.
This is not about being wrong; this is about the fundamental question of the obligation of the government to speak truthfully in this chamber.
I note that previous Speakers have ruled that in the event of contradictory information, the matter can be brought to the House to be dealt with.
For example, the Speaker, on March 3, 2014, stated:
...the fact remains that the House continues to be seized of completely contradictory statements. This is a difficult position in which to leave members, who must be able to depend on the integrity of the information with which they are provided to perform their parliamentary duties.
Accordingly, in keeping with the precedent cited earlier in which Speaker Milliken indicated that the matter merited “...further consideration by an appropriate committee, if only to clear the air”.
I believe that the same situation exists today and that the remedy should therefore be the same.
The fact that the Canadian government even spent a cent fighting the most vulnerable of its own citizens in court to deny them their indigenous rights and human rights is callous and shameful. However, the fact the government misled the House and provided incomplete or inaccurate information regarding the amount of money that it has wasted on such reprehensible actions is unacceptable. I asked the government to answer these fundamental questions. We need to know that the government will respond with true and accurate figures to an Order Paper question about how much money was spent at the Human Rights Tribunal.
That is in accordance with page 63 of Erskine May's Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, which states that “...it is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.”
Also, I am demanding that the Minister of Justice explain to this House and the Canadian public why the information that was provided in response to the Order Paper question differs so much from the information that was provided to Ms. Cindy Blackstock through multiple ATIP requests in his own department. The Canadian people have a right to know.
I will wrap up here. In conclusion, this matters because what we are dealing with are the lives of children. It mattered to Kanina Sue Turtle, Tammy Keeash, Tina Fontaine, Amy Owen, Courtney Scott, Devon Freeman, Chantell Fox, Jolynn Winter, Jenera Roundsky, Azraya Ackabee-Kokopenace, and all the other children who have been broken in this system that failed them. Parliament needs to know that these children were loved. We had an obligation to do better.
The Parliament of Canada called on the government and the justice minister on December 11, 2019, just after we learned the horrific details of the death of Devon Freeman, to end his legal battle against the children. He has ignored the rule of Parliament. He has ignored the obligations under the Order Paper question. I ask you to address this.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand here this evening on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
First I want to thank the member for New Westminster—Burnaby for calling for this important debate this evening.
It is important for us to be able to discuss the issues and possible solutions here in this place no matter what our party lines are.
Canadians are upset. As the Prime Minister expressed so eloquently this morning, Canadians expect us to work together to get through this together. Young people have tearfully expressed to me how upsetting it has been for them to see the images and hear from their friends of being arrested for standing for what they believe in. This happened a year ago and then again earlier this month.
As we heard in the heartfelt words of the Minister of Indigenous Services, we believe we have learned from the crisis at Oka, but also Ipperwash, Caledonia and Gustafsen Lake. Last year, we said that we never wanted to see again the images of police having to use force in an indigenous community in order to keep the peace.
Canada is counting on us to work together to create the space for respectful dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en peoples. We all want this dispute resolved in a peaceful manner. We want the Wet'suwet'en peoples to come together and resolve their differences of opinion.
We want absolute clarity and a shared understanding of the Wet'suwet'en laws.
We are inspired by the courageous Wet'suwet'en people who took the recognition of their rights to the Supreme Court of Canada in the Delgamuukw case in 1997. Since 2018, we have been able and proud to invest in their research on specific claim negotiations, negotiation preparedness, nation rebuilding and the recognition of rights tables, as well as their contributions to the B.C. Treaty Commission processes.
Two years ago, I was proud to sign an agreement with hereditary chiefs of the Office of the Wet'suwet'en on asserting their rights on child and family services. Since then, our government has passed Bill C-92 so that all first nations would be able to pass their own child well-being laws and no longer be subject to section 88 of the Indian Act, which gave provinces laws of general application for things other than where Canada was explicit about the rights of first nations on health and education.
Across Canada, over half of the Indian Act bands are now sitting down at tables to work on their priorities as they assert their jurisdiction. From education to fisheries to child and family services to policing or to their own court systems, we have made important strides forward in the hard work of, as Lee Crowchild describes it, deconstructing the effects of colonization.
In British Columbia, we have been inspired by the work of the B.C. Summit, as they have been able to articulate and sign with us and the B.C. government a new policy that will once and for all eliminate the concepts of extinguishment, cede and surrender for future treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
We have together agreed that no longer would loans be necessary for first nations to fund their negotiations with Canada. We are also forgiving outstanding past loans, and in some cases paying back nations that had already repaid those loans.
We have worked with the already self-governing nations on a collaborative fiscal arrangement that will provide stable, predictable funding that will properly fund the running of their governments.
This new funding arrangement will provide them with much more money than they would have received under the Indian Act.
The conditions are right to move the relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis to one based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership as written in the mandate letters of all ministers of this government.
It has been so exciting to watch the creativity and innovation presented by the Ktunaxa and Sto:lo nations in their negotiations of modern treaties.
We were inspired to see the hereditary chiefs and the elected chief and council of the Heiltsuk nation work together to be able to sign an agreement with Canada on their path to self-government. Many nations have been successful when elected and hereditary chiefs have worked together, and I look forward to having these conversations with the Wet'suwet'en nation.
It is now time to build on the historic Delgamuukw decision. It is time to show that issues of rights and title can be solved in meaningful dialogue.
My job is to ensure that Canada finds out-of-court solutions and to fast-track negotiations and agreements that make real change possible.
After the Tsilhqot'in decision, we have been inspired by the hard work of the Tsilhqot'in national government to build its capacity as a government, to write its constitution and its laws, and establish its government.
I look forward to hopefully finding out-of-court processes to determine title, as we hope for Haida Gwaii. There are many parts of Canada where title is very difficult to determine. Many nations have occupied the land for varying generations. I will never forget that feeling on the Tsilhqot'in title land at the signing with the Prime Minister, looking around, the land surrounded by mountains, where the Tsilhqot'in people have lived for millennia. It seemed obvious that anyone who stood there would understand why they had won their case at the Supreme Court of Canada.
We are at a critical time in Canada. We need to deal effectively with the uncertainty. Canadians want to see indigenous rights honoured, and they are impatient for meaningful progress.
Canadians are counting on us to implement a set of rules and processes in which section 35 of our Constitution can be honourably implemented. We are often reminded that inherent rights did not start with section 35: They are indeed inherent rights, as well as treaty rights.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important first step in getting there. We need to properly explain, as have many of the academics and so many of the courts, that free, prior and informed consent is not scary. Consent is not a veto. Bill C-69 means that indigenous peoples and indigenous knowledge will be mandatory at the very beginning of a proposal for any major project.
Section 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has really been described as a process for land use planning in which the rights of indigenous people are respected.
As we have learned from the experience in Nunavut, where the land claims have been settled, good projects receive a green light, bad projects a red light, and mediocre projects are sent back to the drawing board to improve their environmental stewardship or cultural protection or employment for the Inuit beneficiaries. Nunavummiut accept the decisions of this process wherein the federal, territorial, and Inuit rights holders have taken the decision together.
Canadians acknowledge that there has been a difference of opinion among the Wet'suwet'en peoples. We have heard often in the House that 20 elected chiefs and council agreed to the project in consultation with their people. Women leaders have expressed an opinion that the project can eliminate poverty or provide meaningful work for young men and reduce domestic violence and incarceration. Some have expressed that in an indigenous world view, providing an energy source that will reduce China's reliance on coal is good for Mother Earth.
However, it is only the Wet'suwet'en people that can decide. We are hoping the Wet'suwet'en people will be able to come together to take these decisions together, decisions that are in the best interests of their children and their children for generations to come.
We applaud the thousands of young Canadians fighting for climate justice.
We know that those young people need hope, that they want to see a real plan to deal with the climate emergency. We do believe that we have an effective plan in place, from clean tech to renewable energy, public transit, and protection of the land and the water.
We want the young people of Canada and all those who have been warning about climate change for decades to feel heard.
They need hope, and they need to feel involved in coming up with real solutions.
Tonight there is an emergency debate because our country is hurting. It is for indigenous peoples and all those who are being affected coast to coast to coast.
Yesterday I met in Victoria with British Columbia minister Scott Fraser, and this afternoon had a call with hereditary chiefs and conveyed that we are ready to meet with the hereditary leadership of Wet'suwet'en at a time and place of their choosing.
Together with the Prime Minister and the premier, we want to support the solutions going forward. We want to address their short- and long-term goals. We want to see the hope and hard work that resulted in the Delgamuukw decision of 1997, to be able to chart a new path with the Wet'suwet'en nation in which there is unity and prosperity and a long-term plan for protecting their law, and as Eugene Arcand says, LAW: land, air, water. We also want to see a thriving Wet'suwet'en nation with its own constitution and laws based on its traditional legal customs and practices.
We want to thank Premier Horgan for his efforts to resolve this problem and Murray Rankin for the work that he has undertaken since April of last year to work with the elected chiefs and council as well as the hereditary chiefs on their rights and title. We want to thank Nathan Cullen for his efforts to try and de-escalate this situation.
I am very proud to work with the Province of British Columbia, and I think all in this House congratulate it on the passage of Bill 41, where in Canada the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is now legislated.
Our government is invested in and inspired by the work of Val Napoleon and John Borrows at the Indigenous Legal Lodge at the University of Victoria. They will be able to do the research on the laws of many nations so that they can create a governance structure and constitutions in keeping with those laws. It is important to understand the damage done by colonization and residential schools that has led to sometimes different interpretations of traditional legal practices and customs.
We think that, one day, Canada will be able to integrate indigenous law into Canada's legislative process, just as it did with common law and droit civil.
We are striving to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and to increase awareness of our shared history. We all need the indigenous leadership to know that we are serious. We are serious about rebuilding trust and working with respect, as the Minister of Indigenous Services and the Prime Minister have expressed today in such heartfelt ways.
We hope that the Wet'suwet'en will be able to express to those in solidarity with them that it is now time to stand down to create that space for a peaceful dialogue, and to let us get back to work towards a Wet'suwet'en nation with its own laws and governance that can work nation-to-nation with the Crown.
Although I returned to Ottawa for this debate tonight, I am hoping to be able to return to B.C. as soon as possible to continue that work.
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