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View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Salma Zahid Profile
2020-01-31 13:26 [p.782]
Madam Speaker, we are here today to talk about the new North American Free Trade Agreement. Whether we call it NAFTA 2.0, the USMCA or CUSMA, this agreement is a testament to the hard work of Canadians from across the political spectrum, from business to agriculture to labour, who came together to put Canada first and present a united front, a team Canada, to reach an agreement that would preserve access to our most important export markets and the millions of jobs that relied on that access.
During these negotiations, over 47,000 Canadians shared their views with the negotiating team, including over 1,300 stakeholders representing small businesses, indigenous groups, women entrepreneurs, academics and youth. The non-partisan advisory council included former Conservative ministers Rona Ambrose and James Moore, NDP strategist Brian Topp and leaders from labour and industry. Their advice and perspective helped make this agreement possible.
I would like to thank the Deputy Prime Minister for her leadership and determination to pull this deal off. Under challenging circumstances, she got an agreement that not only preserves our market access, but makes real forward progress in areas such as protections for women's rights and minority rights, and the strongest ever labour and environmental chapters.
Free and fair trade helps to support the quality middle-class jobs that support families in communities across the country.
My community of Scarborough has a strong industrial base that relies on access to global parts and particularly the North American market. The economies of Canada, the United States and Mexico have become so integrated that before a project is complete, it could move across the border several times.
Falcon Fasteners is a Scarborough company that sells a wide range of collated nails and brads across North America. Any type of nail one can think of, it probably makes it. It has grown from a two-person operation in 1956 to a North American leader today, from its base in Scarborough. It relies both on access to the North American market and access to affordable quality steel to make its products. This trade agreement secures that access and will allow it to continue to grow its business.
Many companies in Scarborough rely on access to foreign markets.
Berg Chilling Systems has provided hundreds of industrial refrigeration systems to customers in more than 50 countries. The Scarborough branch of Héroux Devtek specializes in landing gear for aircraft and serves a global market. eCamion is a developer of leading-edge modular energy solutions. The Cableshoppe is an IT services and solutions company that works across borders to deliver the right technology to its clients.
Those are just a few of the Scarborough-based companies exporting their expertise and leading edge technologies across Canada and around the world. Swift passage of this trade agreement gives them the confidence to continue to invest in and grow their business and create more quality jobs, confident they have a predictable and level playing field on which they can compete. It was not just about getting any deal; it was about getting a good deal.
Let us talk about gender equality. For example, for the first time, this agreement includes enforceable provisions that protect women's rights and minority rights. This includes labour obligations regarding the elimination of employment discrimination based on gender. This is also the first international trade agreement that recognizes gender identity and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination in the labour chapter.
Why is gender equality so important? A McKinsey Global Institute report estimates that women's economic equality could add $150 billion to Canada's GDP by the year 2026. However, women face barriers to full labour market participation, such as gender-based discrimination and lack of training.
More women participation in the global economy is good for all of us.
Let us talk about protecting Canada's cultural industry.
Canadians are justifiably proud of our arts and cultural community. It is a $53.8 billion industry that represents over 650,000 quality jobs that support our middle-class families from coast to coast to coast. It is not just the actors we see on the screen and the artists whose music we stream. It is the many thousands of technicians and professionals who support their work.
By preserving Canada's cultural exemption, Canada has the flexibility to adopt and maintain programs and policies that support the creation, distribution and development of Canadian artistic expression or content, including in the digital environment, and this is important in the streaming era. That is why we stood firm to protect the cultural exemption and our economic interest. Canada's cultural industries are world class, and we all always defend our cultural sovereignty.
Let us talk about protecting our environment.
My constituents are deeply concerned about climate change and want to see Canada and the world doing all we can to protect our climate and our planet for future generations. I am pleased that the new NAFTA has an enforceable environment chapter, which replaces a separate side agreement. This chapter upholds air quality and fights marine pollution in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Why do environmental protections belong in a trade agreement? It is about a level playing field and protecting the planet by protecting workers in all three countries. Commitments to high levels of environmental protections are an important part of trade agreements.
Perhaps no industry in Canada is more cross-border integrated than our auto industry. Canadian auto plants assemble more than two million vehicles every year. The automotive sector is Canada's largest export industry, supporting over 525,000 jobs and contributing $18 billion annually to our economy. Canada is a global leader in emerging automotive technologies, such as lightweight materials, advanced safety systems, software and cybersecurity and alternative power trains. Free trade is essential to our auto industry, and the new rules of origin in this trade agreement level the playing field for Canada's high-wage worker.
Our negotiators secured a side letter that is already in force. It is a gold-plated insurance policy against 232 possible tariffs on cars and car parts. Canada is the only G7 country with this protection.
This is a great deal for labour, and members' do not need to take my word for it. Jerry Dias of Unifor, one of Canada's largest unions, has said that this is a much better deal than the deal that was signed 24 years ago.
Hassan Yussuff, of the Canadian Labour Congress, said that this deal “gets it right on labour provisions, including provisions to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of gender.”
It is not just labour. Business is on board as well.
The Business Council of Canada said, "We applaud your government’s success in negotiating a comprehensive and high-standard agreement on North American trade."
Saskatchewan Premier Moe called this trade deal good news for Saskatchewan and Canada. Premier Kenney of Alberta said he was relieved that a renewed NAFTA had been concluded.
The renewed NAFTA defends Canada's farmers, it offers new protection for our auto sector, it protects out culture and it sets out new labour standards for gender and minority rights and environmental protections.
Let us have a robust debate. Let us implement this trade agreement. Let us keep Canada's economy growing. This is a progressive trade agreement that will benefit our economy for years to come.
View Marwan Tabbara Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my constituents of Kitchener South—Hespeler for electing me to this place. I also want to thank everyone who volunteered on the campaign, everyone who worked in the constituency office and the strangers who offered me water when I was campaign. I could not be here without them and all their hard work.
Canada is among the top automotive producing countries of the world. The motor vehicle manufacturing industry directly employs nearly 137,000 Canadians and indirectly employs nearly 420,000 people in sales and market services. The majority of the vehicles produced in Canada are exported, and over 90% of our automotive exports are sent to the United States.
Given the importance of our automotive trading relationship with the United States, a key government objective throughout the negotiations of the new NAFTA was to ensure the agreement continued to provide the industry with stability and opportunities for growth. This included maintaining duty-free access to the United States and Mexico, ensuring the rules of origins met the needs of the Canadian producers and securing an exemption from potential U.S. section 232 tariffs on automotive goods.
I want to take some time to talk a little about my riding. I am from Kitchener South—Hespeler. Toyota Motor Manufacturing is within my riding. Not too far down the 401 is another Toyota manufacturing plant, in Woodstock. Between the two plants, they employ 8,000 employees. Just a couple of years back, in 2018, there was a $110-million investment allotted to Toyota through the strategic innovation fund. This helped to support 8,000 jobs, to create 450 new jobs, and will create another 1,000 new co-ops.
Also, in April 2019, Toyota announced it would be building the new Lexus NX and NX hybrid in Cambridge as of 2022. This is the first line of Lexus SUVs that will be built outside of Japan. It is great to see that it will be in my hometown riding of Kitchener South—Hespeler.
The rules of origin are the criteria used to determine whether a good has undergone enough production in the North American region to receive preferential tariff treatment. These rules ensure that the benefits of the agreement go to the North American workers and producers. The final outcome on rules of origin meets Canada's objective and has broad support from all segments of the automotive industry.
However, it was far from clear during the early stages of the negotiations if we would able to achieve an acceptable outcome. Initially, a series of proposals were put forward that Canada believed would have undermined North American integration in the sector and done lasting damage to automakers and parts producers in Canada and indeed the United States and Mexico. Canada was especially opposed to the proposals that would require every Canadian vehicle exported to the United States to include 50% U.S. content. Canada's position was unequivocal on this point. There were no circumstances under which the proposal would be accepted.
In response, Canada put forward a counter-proposal designed to encourage production and sourcing in North America. These ideas were instrumental in reaching an agreement on new rules of origin, which will incentivize the use of North American-produced materials and support the long-term competitiveness of the North American automotive industry.
In order to benefit from the preferential tariff treatment under the new agreement, automobiles must meet a number of requirements: 75% originating content for the finished automobile and core auto parts like engines, transmissions and bodies; 70% of the steel and aluminum purchased by automakers qualify as originating; and 40% labour value content.
The 70% aluminum and steel requirements did not exist under the original NAFTA. This requirement will apply to all vehicles traded among the Canada-United States-Mexico agreement when the new agreement enters into force. Certain elements of the requirements were expanded upon as a result of the December 10, 2019, amendments to the agreement. After seven years, the steel purchased will have to undergo more manufacturing in North America in order to fulfill the 70% requirement.
In addition, after 10 years the parties will evaluate whether the aluminum requirement needs to be further strengthened in a similar way.
The labour value content provision means that 40% of the value of the vehicle must be from a plant where the workers earn an average wage of $16 U.S. an hour or more. Wages in automobile assembly facilities and parts production plants located in Canada exceed this threshold, which will help improve Canadian automotive manufacturing competitiveness.
Throughout the negotiations, consultations were held with Canadian producers of both vehicles and parts, industry associations and the union that represents Canadian auto workers. All of the proposals put forward by Canada were based on extensive consultations, and the final outcome has the support of Canadian stakeholders.
Regrettably, overshadowing these negotiations were threats by the United States to impose tariffs of up to 25% on automobiles and auto parts imported to the United States. These threats were real, as section 232 of the United States Trade Expansion Act, 1962, provides the means to impose restrictions on those imports that are deemed to pose a threat to U.S. national security.
The notion that Canadian autos and auto parts could pose a threat to U.S. national security was inconceivable. Canada strongly rejected this notion at all levels. As well, our negotiating team and the media mentioned that it was absurd that Canada was a national security threat to the United States.
At the same time, it was clear that the prospects of a tariff as high as 25% on Canadian automobiles and auto parts would be a significant challenge for Canada-U.S. trade relations and the Canadian economy. As a result, Canada was steadfast in its position that an exemption from section 232 measures on automobiles and auto parts was necessary as part of the negotiations. This exemption was secured through a binding side letter to the new agreement that took effect November 30, 2018.
Should the United States impose section 232 tariffs, the side letter guarantees an exemption from such tariffs for 2.6 million Canadian automobiles annually. It also guarantees an exemption of $32.4 billion worth of Canadian auto parts exported to the United States annually. In addition, the side letter guarantees that Canadian light trucks, such as pickup trucks, are fully exempt from any section 232 tariffs and do not count against the annual exemption of 2.6 million automobiles.
These levels are significantly higher than Canada's exports of automobiles and auto parts to the United States, thereby providing significant room for growth in Canadian production and export of vehicles and parts, even in the event of U.S. section 232 tariffs on these goods.
As a part of the negotiations, Canada also secured a commitment from the United States to provide at least a 60-day exemption to Canada for any future measure under section 232, including for automobiles and auto parts. This side letter also took effect November 30, 2018.
In closing, I will reiterate the importance of Canada's automotive industry to Canada's economy. The sector is heavily integrated within a broader North American economy, and its ability to trade freely in North America is imperative to its success. This is why we worked tirelessly towards achieving outcomes in the new NAFTA in support of this sector. As a result, the future prospects of the Canadian automotive sector are very bright.
The industry is competitive and innovative, the quality of our workforce is second to none, and Canada has preferential market access to the United States, Mexico, Europe and key markets in Asia, together with 14 free trade agreements covering 51 countries that connect us to 1.5 billion consumers worldwide. Canada is the only G7 nation with trade agreements with all other G7 nations. The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement is central to Canada's trade with the world, and the automotive sector is central to this agreement.
The new NAFTA maintains tariff-free trade, strengthens the rules of origin and removes the threat of new and prohibitive section 232 measures. It also provides Canadian industry with the stability and market access certainty it needs to grow and continue to provide high-quality, well-paying jobs for tens of thousands of Canadians.
I want to mention that I am very much in support of the bill and I hope other members in the chamber are supportive of it. On average, the Canadian auto sector manufactures one car every 30 seconds, supports over 500,000 jobs and contributes $18 billion annually to our economy.
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
View Rhéal Fortin Profile
2020-01-29 16:47 [p.649]
Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is very happy that this bill has been introduced. We were taken for a ride in the previous Parliament. Bill C-98 was introduced too late and unfortunately died on the order paper. I hope that we will have time to pass Bill C-3 before the next election, which is looming over our heads like the sword of Damocles.
The Bloc Québécois plans to vote in favour of Bill C-3, as it did with Bill C-98. There is no surprise there.
The current situation is untenable. The statistics are alarming. From 2016 to 2018, there were 1,200 complaints, including 59 allegations of harassment, 38 allegations of criminal association and five allegations of sexual assault. Those are striking figures. The Canada Border Services Agency is short-staffed. Complaints may not always be given the attention they deserve. We think that an independent commissioner should be appointed.
It is also not right that the CBSA itself hears complaints about its own services. That obviously does not meet the minimum legal requirements, whether under natural law or in accordance with the rights set out in our charters regarding an impartial hearing before those concerned. Since the commissioner would be a third party, we believe that he could deal with any complaints filed with his office in a serious, impartial, fair and independent manner—at least that is what we hope. We believe that creating the commissioner's office would make this possible.
This is nothing new. I looked at the statistics on the various complaints that were filed. In 2017-18 alone, just two years ago, there were reports of racist and rude comments. Officers allegedly searched cellphones without putting them in airplane mode, which is illegal. Searches can be conducted legally if the phone is in airplane mode, but not otherwise. In some situations, officers allegedly took photos of the information contained in cellphones. They also allegedly forced someone to open their banking app. All of these things are unacceptable.
Some people complained about rude treatment. Apparently an officer shouted and insulted travellers. In another case, people who had dealings with the CBSA were told there was no interpretation service available, which meant that they were unable to communicate with the officer. One officer was racist and told a client he was ugly. That is unconscionable. This is not a banana republic.
We think complaints should be treated with respect, as should all CBSA clients, whether they are right or wrong, which is a different story. At a bare minimum, these requests should be handled respectfully and attentively.
Last year, the member for Vancouver East quoted something Justice O'Connor said over 10 years ago. He recommended introducing a CBSA oversight mechanism. More recently, an immigration lawyer named Joel Sandaluk said this on CBC: “CBSA, for many years, has been a law unto itself. It's hard to imagine an organization with the size and the complexity and the amount of responsibility and authority of an agency like this would be completely without any kind of oversight.”
He added that the statistics may have been skewed, but temporary residents of or visitors to Canada were in fact not here long enough to file a complaint. Obviously, he did not even mention those who do not file complaints out of fear of reprisal. It is a troubling situation and according to Mr. Sandaluk, this is likely only the tip of the iceberg.
CBC mentioned the case of a woman deported to Guatemala who was allegedly pushed to the ground by an officer, who is alleged to have kicked her and dug his knee into her back. That is outrageous. When we read these reports, these statistics, we do not get the impression that this is a professional border services agency that serves a country like Canada and serves the people and the visitors of Quebec who have to deal with them.
More recently, just a few weeks ago, the Canadian Press reported some statistics. The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group of Toronto said that the definition of a founded complaint in the CBSA reports was too vague to allow adequate changes or adjustments to be made. This is just another situation that does not help to improve the services provided by the agency.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Daniel Therrien, told Radio-Canada that the agency and its customs officers had not followed acceptable practices for handling the personal information of Canadian citizens re-entering the country. It is not your ordinary Joe saying it, it is the commissioner himself. He added that the line had been crossed.
It is ridiculous. It is about time that we acknowledge and address this issue.
According to other information made public by Radio Canada, a CBSA officer apparently shredded his handwritten notes three days after receiving a call from one of the commissioner's investigators.
For all these reasons, we believe that Bill  C-3 must be implemented as quickly as possible. Once again, they must not play the same trick on us that they did with Bill C-98, which was introduced before this bill. We believe that Bill C-3 should be referred to a committee right away.
In closing, I want to make it clear that the Bloc Québécois is not blaming the officers or the agency. That is up to the commissioner, if warranted, and if designated.
We believe that the Canada Border Services Agency has not had the benefit of adequate oversight, which it should have received from the proper authorities. Respectfully, the responsibility lies with the current Liberal government and its predecessor, the Conservative government. We believe that the time has come to address this issue and we are grateful for Bill C-3.
I would also like to add that the union representing the CBSA officers should appear before the committee when it studies the bill. We hope that the bill will be referred to a committee as soon as possible. The committee should make every effort to hear from experts, immigration lawyers who have worked with the CBSA and the officers' union. I am convinced that the union has important things to tell the committee about this issue.
View Jack Harris Profile
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-01-29 17:03 [p.651]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. I appreciate the introduction by the minister responsible.
I would like to say, first of all, that the Canada Border Services Agency carries on very important work for the safety of Canada and its citizens, and it enforces some 70 different regulations and pieces of legislation that have been passed by Parliament or enacted through proper processes. It is an important piece of work that the agency does. There are at least 7,000 agents, and they operate at 130 different border points, so the work they do is very important.
They also, in conducting this work, have pretty extraordinary powers, probably greater than many police and law enforcement agencies. They can arrest and detain people who they believe are in Canada illegally. They can arrest with or without warrant. They can arrest people who they suspect are in violation of the act and detain them for, in some cases, indefinite periods.
As has been pointed out, with 96 million travellers in and out of the country, we do not have 96 million complaints, obviously, so it is pretty clear that the work that they are doing is, for the most part, not subject to complaint.
I appreciate that when we talk about the complaints that are made, we are talking about exceptions to proper behaviour, potentially. The complaints may not end up being found to be valid in some cases, but we know that there are sufficient numbers of valid complaints to have a cause for concern that this enforcement agency is not immune to bad behaviour and improper conduct. We know that this has happened, because complaints have been founded by investigations conducted by the CBSA itself.
There has, for a long period of time, been cause for concern that there was a lack of oversight of this body. Justice O'Connor in 2010 recommended that this oversight take place, but it did not take place. We raised this issue as a party in the Conservative years, in 2010, after Justice O'Connor and before, and up until we joined the last Parliament as well. I was not here, but I know my colleagues have done so, and they were not the only ones. Recognized and respected public bodies, such as the Canadian Bar Association, Amnesty International, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and others, have recognized and pointed out significant deficiencies in the activities and behaviour of the CBSA in the enforcement of its legislation.
It is kind of a given that this should happen. “Long overdue” are the words that have been used by the minister himself, recognizing that this legislation, or something like it, should have been brought forward a lot sooner than it was. It is unfortunate that this gap has not been addressed before this date, but we are heartened by the fact that it is here today.
I must say it was a half-hearted attempt by the Liberal government in the last Parliament to bring this legislation forward in the dying days of Parliament, several weeks before Parliament was to rise. It was passed over to the Senate on the 19th of June, the day before they were to rise, with no hope of any particular consideration there. The Liberal government deserves some blame for not bringing this legislation forward earlier to provide an opportunity for full discussion and debate.
There are some changes that have now been made. I did not get the sense from the minister's remarks, when he was asked about consultations, that any significant consultation has taken place with the union that was involved. Its members appeared before the committee. The customs and immigration union does have something to say about this. I think the union is generally supportive of the idea that there ought to be accountability, because it also provides an opportunity for officers who may be the subject of a complaint to be exonerated if the complaint is not founded, and it can be done in a public way.
All that being said, we do have to look carefully at some of the provisions of this legislation. Is it going to simply be a review of internal complaints or internal investigations that have been made? To what extent is it going to provide for an independent investigation? The power exists there. The practice is something that we have to be concerned about.
Are we going to be in a backlog situation, as we have seen with the RCMP civilian review system? Additional monies have been provided, and I see provisions for standards of performance in terms of dealing with complaints. Whether those standards can be met by just establishing standards of performance and whether the government is committed to being responsive to requests by the agency for sufficient funds or more staff as needed to meet those standards is the problem sometimes with agencies that have this kind of oversight. We want to have a good look at that to see what is going on when these things take place.
The NDP supports this legislation in principle and we will certainly be supporting it at second reading. We will look to see whether the minister is willing to consider amendments during consideration in committee. I am not proposing any here today, but I do want to see that the minister is prepared to consider arguments that may be made to bring about changes that would enhance the legislation and make it more effective.
We have heard specific concerns as well from the legal community in terms of how the practices of the agency have affected solicitor-client privilege, and there are concerns about solicitor-client privilege. We want to make sure that these concerns are addressed if they have not been addressed already, and I am not sure they have been addressed.
We would also want to see the opportunity, and I raised this with the member for Saint-Jean, to be involved in the policy and practices side of it. I note that in the legislation there is an opportunity for the committee itself to initiate reviews of specific practices. Whether it is going to be a robust effort on the part of the committee interests me. I suspect it may depend on who the committee members are.
I would want to see an opportunity for those kinds of reviews to take place through the initiative of someone else. For example, the Canadian Bar Association might want to see a review of a particular practice as it might affect a problem area, whether having to do with solicitor-client privilege or having to do with incidents that have come forward on a number of occasions. Other outside bodies as well might come to this body and ask it to conduct a review. I note that reviews can be done at the direction of the minister as well. That is something that may answer some of the concerns.
I am pretty sure this is not a perfect instrument, and I do not think it has been suggested that it is. It is a way forward, though, and NDP members supported it in the last Parliament because it was a step forward from what was in existence up until right now. There is no form of civilian oversight of this organization, and the lack of that kind of oversight has been noted for many years.
Enforcement officers have enormous powers, and they are a necessity. Officers deal in many cases with people in vulnerable circumstances, people who are refugees. Forty-one thousand refugees crossed into Canada during the last Parliament. These people are vulnerable. They are susceptible to being unable to complain or to feeling that complaining would potentially cause them problems, so vigorous oversight is needed there. It is important for us to ensure that this oversight takes place. There may be a need for third parties to approach the committee to make sure that the policies and practices that are in place adequately meet the required standards when enforcement officers are dealing with civilians whom they are entrusted to look after while also ensuring that the law is enforced.
Those are some of the concerns that New Democrats will be looking at carefully in committee. I am disturbed to hear that the examination of what happens in detention is excluded from this bill, but I am going to be looking very carefully at that. We do note, as was noted before in one of the speeches, that since the year 2000 there have been at least 14 deaths of people while in detention. I am not suggesting that these deaths were the result of negligence or improper behaviour, but the question remains. These were not able to be investigated by any outside agency specifically in relation to the behaviour toward and treatment of individuals who may have had ill treatment in custody. Whether or not there was in these individual cases, I am obviously not in a position to say.
However, the public must have confidence, ultimately, that there is a sufficient degree of transparency and oversight in order to believe that CBSA officers are acting not only in the public interest and for the safety of Canada, but also in a proper way when they are dealing with individuals, and that they are not abusing their position of power and trust. People must know they have recourse with a proper, independent, robust and accessible process that will make sure justice is done following any violation of proper and appropriate behaviour.
As was mentioned earlier, this is not something the union of the employees involved rejects. This is something it regards as proper and appropriate as well.
Having said all of that, New Democrats support this legislation being brought forward at second reading. We look forward to having an appropriate period of time to consider it and bring forward witnesses who can help with the analysis of it and offer their recommendations and opinions.
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2020-01-29 17:15 [p.653]
Madam Speaker, I have more of a comment than a question. I want to respond to some of the things my friend from St. John's East mentioned in his remarks and thank him for his support for this bill at this point.
I want to assure him and other members of the House that the perspective and opinions of the union representing the members of the CBSA are important to this discussion. I value and respect those very much. I have made arrangements to meet with union leadership and that will take place in the coming weeks. This legislation will certainly be canvassed extensively in that conversation. I also took very careful note of comments that they made in previous committee appearances and in previous discussions with my predecessor in the public safety portfolio. Those opinions are important and valued.
I also want to assure the member that although I would never presume to make suggestions or interfere in any way with the decisions of the committee as to what witnesses it will call, I am very open to considering the important work that the committee will undertake and give appropriate consideration to any recommendations it may bring forward.
View Jack Harris Profile
View Jack Harris Profile
2020-01-29 17:17 [p.653]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the minister's expression of willingness to meet with the representatives of the workers and not only hear from them in committee but also meet with them in person to hear what they have to say. That is encouraging.
There is also the openness to hear what is said in committee. We had a situation in the previous Conservative government. My experience then was that there was a resistance to amendments of any kind, even ones that the Conservatives finally had to make themselves when they realized that if they did not make them, the legislation would not work. I hope we will see a spirit of co-operation in committee when we have recommendations from good sources so we can see some changes.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-01-29 17:50 [p.658]
Mr. Speaker, I stand today in this chamber and am pleased to speak for the first time as a re-elected member of Parliament for Yorkton—Melville. I and my fellow Saskatchewan caucus colleagues thank all our constituents for painting the province of Saskatchewan completely blue.
Bill C-3 actually mirrors Bill C-98, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts. As we all know, the bill took so long to introduce that it was not passed prior to the 2019 federal election.
This legislation proposes to repurpose and rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to the “public complaints and review commission”. Under its new name, the commission will also be responsible for reviewing civilian complaints against the Canadian Border Services Agency. The bill would ensure that all Canadians law enforcement agencies would have an oversight body.
Canadians expect effective oversight of federal law enforcement agencies. The Liberals made a promise to do this in 2015.
During its previous mandate, the Liberal government took so long to act on this issue that Bill C-98 failed to be passed prior to the 2019 election.
The former Privy Council Office chief, Mel Cappe, had been hired to conduct an independent report and provide his recommendations in June 2017, which he did. However, it was only because of an access to information request by CBC News that Parliament even became aware of this report. For two years, the government and the then, and now no longer, public safety minister from Saskatchewan sat on that report.
We, who served in the previous Parliament, were counting down the days and nights until the session came to a close. Then, at the last possible moment, this rather straightforward and simple but essential legislation was finally introduced. Why did it take the previous majority Liberal government three and a half years to draft and introduce Bill C-98 to the House? In the eleventh hour, it was too late to deal with such a critical promise that impacted public safety.
The Liberals' poor management and bad decision-making impacted RCMP officers, who had to be deployed and dedicated to dealing with illegal border crossings. They were pulled from other details, from monitoring returned ISIS fighters, tackling organized crime. They were pulled from rural detachments, where the RCMP is already short staffed and dealing with an increase in rural crime. The claim that there are more police available in rural Canada is not true, a statement made and not followed through on.
When the Liberal majority government was ineptly unable to keep an election promise at the eleventh hour, so as to not appear to have broken even more promises, it meant an even longer wait, through the whole election process, through the weeks of delay before the House was finally called back by the Prime Minister to sit just before Christmas for a short time only to go into the winter break. Here we finally are today in a second attempt to get the job done of Bill C-3.
The government has been plagued by inefficiency and lack of foresight since the beginning of its first mandate, further hamstringed by one ethical breach after another, through brazen attitudes of entitlement, to the foolish boldness of demanding and coercing our independent justice system and principled people to bow to executive power.
Just this past week we have seen the frightening fallout of the government putting their friends ahead of good governance: A violent man sentenced to life in prison in 2006 for viciously murdering his wife was granted day parole in the fall of 2019. His case manager indicated a moderate risk of reoffending and he was to avoid relationships but could have encounters with women, as long as it was strictly sexual. As a result, a young woman lost her life.
Who in their right mind would create the environment for any woman to be put in harm's way like this? Ex-parole board commissioner Dave Blackburn stated that “such a condition is 'unbelievable'”.
The Liberal government has to take responsibility for a foolish decision it made in 2015 to not renew any parole board appointees, purely a political decision that removed all historical experience from the board and replaced them all, through the Privy Council, with Liberal appointees.
I believe the desk will be pleased, Mr. Speaker, to hear I will be splitting my time with the member for Kootenay—Columbia.
Since then, there has been a more than 25% increase in the awarding of day parole in Canada. This is ridiculous. Canadians have no faith that an internal inquiry will get to the bottom of the incompetence that falls on the Liberal government. An external inquiry of the national Parole Board must take place. The government does not have credibility when it comes to dealing with its own self-serving, intentional mistakes.
As well, we know the delay in bringing forward this legislation was not due in any way to so many consultations. As a matter of fact, again and again, we have heard from stakeholders that they were not consulted. From what I have heard today on the floor, that has not changed.
This legislation proposes changes to the Canada Border Services Agency, yet the Customs and Immigration Union was never contacted. This is another blatant inconsistency by the government. On one end, there was no consultation. On the other, there was the virtue signalling of setting up advisory councils for our veterans but doing nothing other than giving a platform for photo ops and the appearance of consultation before the reveal.
The fact that the Liberal government could not be bothered to consult the biggest stakeholders, the union representatives of the CBSA front-line workers, says it is not about the workers. It appears the Liberals feel they can pick and choose which unions they are going to give special treatment to while others are totally ignored.
Conservative members will work with the government in the interests of the principles of the bill, but rest assured we want to make sure that the people impacted are part of the committee review process. We want to ensure that proper committee time is taken to look at the changes to the RCMP Act and the CBSA Act, and make sure we are doing a service to the people who will be impacted by them, whether it is on a public complaints process or other elements.
As good as this policy is, it needs good government to implement it, not a government consistently mired in scandal that loses track of its responsibilities and then, concerned about its re-election, attempts to rush this legislation through irresponsibly. It does not need a government that is so out of touch that it fails to consult with the Canadians who would be impacted.
The government's approach demonstrates a complete lack of accountability, care and respect for Canadians. There is unrest across western Canada that must not be ignored. I would warn that we must no longer be fuelled by intentional actions that encourage that unrest instead of building consensus and recognizing and celebrating healthy interdependence across our amazing country.
Our nation, and all people of Canada, deserve a government that legislates responsibly, respectfully and with the best interests of all Canadians in mind. I look forward to the day we form that government.
View Rob Morrison Profile
View Rob Morrison Profile
2020-01-29 18:04 [p.660]
Mr. Speaker, as this is my first speech, I want to take the opportunity to thank the great people in the Kootenay—Columbia riding for putting their trust and faith in me to represent them in Ottawa. The support from my family and friends was incredible and from my wife, Heather and our five children, Ryan, Rob, Kassidy, Chelsea and Kendall.
With 80,000 square kilometres, it was very challenging to travel and meet residents from all corners of the riding. The campaign team and volunteers did an outstanding job, working long hours every day.
I listened to the concerns, the priorities for softwood lumber and priorities with the firearms legislation. I also want to talk about supporting the mining industry, tourism, the energy sector, Alberta, as it is neighbouring our riding, and health.
I am pleased to speak to Bill C-3, an act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act. I do so today on behalf of many border officials in ports of Kingsgate, Nelway, Porthill, Roosville and Rykerts, all within the riding of Kootenay—Columbia.
I thank them for their service and I thank the CBSA Kootenay area chief of operations for leadership and dedication in ensuring the safety and security of our area. I also support the RCMP, which provides municipal, rural, provincial and federal policing throughout the Kootenay—Columbia riding.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all the men and women who serve to protect this great nation from coast to coast.
One issue I heard when travelling throughout the riding was the word “accountability”, which is really interesting because that is exactly what we are talking about today.
I support internal investigations. In fact, I have been involved in many internal investigations in the RCMP in a 35-year career. I support independence. I believe we need independent investigations. It would be great to hear how this is going to work. I have not heard yet, with the delays in investigations. I know right now with the RCMP, which has an independent review, it is two, three or four years at least. We have some members on the old RCMP act and some members on the new act, and now we are going to change it again to have a new accountability process with this review committee.
I have heard some concerns about the consultation of CBSA with its union. I am also wondering about the consultation with the RCMP, as they are now working toward a union as well. Have we looked at the consultation there and have people come in? I look forward to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security having people come in so we can talk to them and see how they feel about what is happening.
One of the most important things that has not been brought up is training and service standards. What are the service standards of CBSA? What are the service standards of the RCMP? What exactly is the role of an RCMP member? The review committee can then understand what that person is going to do, what they should be doing and what they should not be doing, so they do not, because they have no experience in law enforcement, for example, think that behaviour is inappropriate when maybe it is or vice versa.
Developing service standards is a requirement before we can move forward with the bill, so that the review committee has a clear understanding of the role for CBSA and the role for the RCMP.
One thing that came up at one of the last meetings of the public safety committee was administrative issues that were not expected. I would be interested to hear from the government what those administrative issues were. Was it the hiring of new people? Was it the service standards or was it a union? I do not understand what administrative issues would have popped up in December.
The RCMP and CBSA are very reputable organizations. I want to be up front. They would welcome a well-thought-out, well-trained independent review, but not something where someone is appointed and we would run into the same issues we are having right now with the Parole Board.
I request that the government and the public safety minister answer some of these questions so that we can move forward in supporting this bill and the changes proposed in it.
View Louise Chabot Profile
View Louise Chabot Profile
2020-01-28 14:02 [p.576]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to acknowledge the passing of one of Quebec's great union leaders, Fernand Daoust, who died last Thursday at the age of 93.
He dedicated 40 years of his life to fighting for workers as a member of the FTQ. As a staunch fighter for a modern Quebec, this great union leader made a major contribution to his province's social and economic development.
An ardent defender of Quebec's interests, he was named patriot of the year in 1998, made a knight of the Ordre national du Québec in 2001 and honoured by the Ordre des francophones d'Amérique in 1994. Throughout his lifetime and in everything he did, he was a passionate advocate of the French language and a champion of French in the workplace.
We extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends and loved ones, and we mourn with the extended FTQ family.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Madam Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to respond to the Liberal government's Speech from the Throne.
I would like to begin by quoting Edmond Rostand, who would have this to say about it: That's too brief, young man! The throne speech is silent on quite a few subjects, especially subjects of interest to Quebeckers. In fact, the word “Quebec” does not appear even once. That is a singular omission on the part of a minority government that would have done well to pay more attention to Quebec's needs and interests in the throne speech. Unfortunately, it did not. The speech is long on rhetoric, hot air, good intentions and lip service and short on details, clarity and firm commitments in a number of areas except when it suits the Liberals.
For years, the Liberals have been promising money for the national housing strategy and the fight against homelessness. Unfortunately, people on the ground know that the federal government provides precious few resources and refuses to make the kind of concrete commitments that allow projects to move forward and housing co-ops and affordable and low-income housing to get built. The housing issue is of vital importance to many Canadians and Quebeckers because it is many families' biggest expense. Right now, people are struggling to find adequate housing. The Liberals have said a lot of nice things about housing over the past few years but, sadly, have done very little.
In Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, one-third of households spend more than 30% of their income on housing. In my riding, one in three families is literally at or below the poverty line. We all know that, as a rule, people should expect to spend 30% of their income on housing.
There is currently just one social housing project, unfortunately, and this project will soon come to an end. There is no plan for what comes next. How is that possible? The government has been going on for four years about how housing is a priority and how we need to build affordable and social housing. Nothing ever happens, because the federal government bickers with the Quebec government over which government should put its flag and logo on the project.
The NDP thinks that real action is needed to ensure access to affordable housing. The Liberals need to stop bickering with the Quebec government and transfer the funds. The Quebec government would then be able to implement the AccèsLogis program, through which projects could actually help people. I am sick of the bickering between Ottawa and Quebec at the expense of the poorest families, individuals and workers in my riding and across Quebec. The budget will soon be tabled, so now is the time to free up the money. This is urgent. We need this.
Also, I am not sure where the member for Winnipeg North has been for the past 25 years. He said we have been talking about pharmacare for the past four years, but I would remind him that it was in the Liberal platform of 1997. It was also part of the discussion when medicare was first introduced in this country in the 1960s. That was just a little refresher for my colleague from Winnipeg North. The Liberals are still talking about pharmacare, but we need to see whether there will ever be more than just consultations and reports. Are they ever going to actually implement anything?
Canada is the only country in the world that has a universal public health care system without a universal public pharmacare system to go with it. This is an anomaly. This means that Canadians and Quebeckers pay some of the highest prices for prescription drugs. This is slightly less problematic in Quebec, since we have a hybrid regime that is administered by the Quebec government. However, it also poses significant problems for many people who sometimes have to make really tough choices, like paying for their medication or paying for their groceries. When people do not take all their medication as prescribed, it can cause illnesses to progress more rapidly and force people back to work too soon. It can lead to other health problems and additional costs for the health care system.
The NDP believes it is high time that the Canada Health Act include a principle emphasizing the importance of a complete, free and universal pharmacare program and indicating that this is one of our society's values because we want to take care of people. That is not the case right now and people are suffering because of it. This issue is a priority for the NDP.
Many large groups in Quebec are calling for such a program because they understand the difference it could make in people's lives. Quebec's three major unions, the FTQ, the CSN and the CSQ, are calling for this program, as are many civil society groups, such as the Union des consommateurs du Québec. They are saying that it would make a difference in people's lives if we had a universal public pharmacare program managed by the provinces and the Government of Quebec, obviously.
Last year, I met with people who are directly affected by the lack of such a principle or federal program, for example, retail workers and unionized workers at Métro, Provigo and Loblaws. They work part time for a modest wage and have to contribute to their employer's drug plan. In Quebec, this supplemental health care coverage is not optional; it is mandatory. People cannot choose to opt for the public plan. They are required to contribute to the private plan. Those contributions cost many workers up to 25% of their income.
I met a young worker, about 25, who told me that for every month he works, his first week's salary goes entirely toward the drug plan offered by his employer. Public universal pharmacare would considerably change the life of someone like that. It would simplify collective bargaining for many groups. For that individual, it would mean a 25% increase in pay. That is not nothing. Not only would that worker's drug costs be covered, but his take-home pay would also get him much further ahead.
For all these reasons, we are telling the Liberal government that it is time to take action. According to the Hoskins report released a few months ago, this is a good thing that has been studied at length, and our society needs it. We at the NDP are saying that it is time to move forward and take this seriously, and we will be here to support the government if it comes up with something public and universal.
The other thing we wanted to see in the Speech from the Throne is dental care coverage. That would be another tangible way to help people in their lives.
We have a medicare system—thanks to the NDP, by the way—that is highly appreciated but that is not comprehensive because some parts of the body are not covered. That is rather bizarre. It is as though we collectively decided that our heart and arms would be insured, but that our eyes and teeth would not. There is no logic to it. Having to pay a dentist to provide care and ensure good dental hygiene also represents a considerable cost for many people.
Dental coverage would make a big difference in people's lives at a cost almost equivalent to the amount of the tax cut that the Liberal government has announced—a tax cut that will again benefit the wealthiest in our society.
They could have used that money, which amounts to a little less than one billion, or about $800 or $850 million, to provide dental care to all Quebeckers and Canadians. We, the New Democrats, would not make the same choices the Liberal government did.
We hope the government will be able to implement public pharmacare and dental care. We also hope the government will increase the federal contribution for early childhood care. Quebec needs 42,000 more ECE spots, in publicly funded day cares. We hope the federal government will be willing to give Quebec's ECE system a boost, so that families can get their children into affordable day care.
I only have a minute left, which is not enough time to talk about the climate emergency and the fact that this government is once again saying one thing and doing the opposite. We in the NDP condemn the decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. This decision completely flies in the face of the federal government's pledges to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
We are eager to see how the government reacts to the new Frontier oil sands project. If the government is serious about setting more ambitious targets for 2030, I hope that it will take measures that are consistent and logical with that goal, which is something the entire population is calling for, especially our youth.
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