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Results: 1 - 15 of 1525
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-03-26 10:02 [p.5343]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the House again to complete my remarks on Bill C-19. The last day we were debating the bill, I spoke to some of the content of the legislation with respect to what it proposed and some of the areas for improvement that I hoped could be addressed at committee.
I expressed then, and I will express it again now, my desire to see the bill proceed quickly to committee. While it is important for a number of reasons, it is no secret to anybody in the House that this is a minority Parliament, and things can sometimes move quickly in minority Parliaments. We could end up with an election and it is important we be ready for that should it come.
However, I also emphasized, and I want to emphasize again, the extent to which it really is incumbent upon all members of Parliament at this time to work to avoid an election. As a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, who participated in the study on what a pandemic election might look like, we heard very clearly that there were a lot of risks, and they are not just public health risks.
There is a real risk of disenfranchising people and having Canadians who want to vote either decide that they should not because it is too much of a risk to their personal health or they might face other barriers that do not have anything to do with an immediate risk to their personal health but present barriers nevertheless. That might be around transportation options to get to polling stations and other kinds of challenges that people have faced as a result of the pandemic.
What is important to bear in mind is that when all of us were elected in the 2019, the pandemic was not on our minds. Nobody saw this coming. However, we were each elected with a responsibility to be leaders in our community and to speak for our community. For as much as there have been disagreements on many things, and rightly so, and I think that is what people would expect in Parliament, there has been, and ought to continue to be, an overriding sense of responsibility to work together.
There is obviously a really important leadership role for government in that, to continue to have an open posture to consult opposition parties. I, frankly, think it did a better job of that during the early days of the pandemic and it issued in better policy. As the government apparently gets more interested in an election, we see some signs of that here and there in the things the Liberals say, both about Parliament and in the way they have behaved in Parliament, as well as some opposition parties.
We also see it in what the Prime Minister has been saying to his national executive and even in some of the speculation about the date announced for the budget, which is later than many people expected. It happens to coincide nicely with the timing of a pre-summer election should the Prime Minister desire it. There are a lot coincidences happening, and that is the most charitable way to put it.
It would be a mistake for the country to have an election at this time. Different COVID variants are popping up different in parts of the country. We just saw the experience in Newfoundland and Labrador where an election took much longer to complete than anybody expected because the nature of the pandemic changed mid-election and the date was pushed back many times
It is disconcerting that the Prime Minister continually refuses to say that he will not unilaterally call an election. He can make that commitment. If we end up in an election, at least let it be because things actually fell apart in the House of Commons. However, the Prime Minister continues to retain his ability and will not pledge not to use it to go to the Governor General and cause an election.
Parliament has already demonstrated that spirit of collaboration. The fact is that we are having a budget in April 2021, but did not have one for the entire year of 2020. The estimates, which are owed to the House under the Standing Orders, were significantly delayed. This is a sign that Parliament has been willing to accommodate the government and recognize the extraordinary nature of the times we are in.
Parliament has shown a lot of flexibility. It has not always been easy and it has not always been a fun process getting there. It has had its fair share of criticisms from people on all sides, which is fair enough. It is a Parliament and that will happen. The point is this. If we look at the outcomes, we have been able to get enough good outcomes for people to ensure that financial distress and bankruptcy was not the overriding narrative of the pandemic for most Canadians. There are other things we can and should be doing and the place to have that debate is in Parliament.
We were all elected to bring those views to the table and to do our best work to advance solutions on behalf of Canadians. I do not see a reason why that work needs to end. I would be reassured greatly if the Prime Minister were willing to say that much himself and refuse to call an election unilaterally. I will believe it when I see it. In the meantime—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-26 10:08 [p.5344]
Madam Speaker, as the parliamentary secretary ultimately responsible for reaching out and trying to pass this legislation through, I want to extend my hand to anyone who has input and would like me to take any form of action in support of passing the legislation. I have been committed to doing this for quite a while now.
I agree with the member for Elmwood—Transcona that in a minority situation we need to be ready and should be ready. Where I disagree is with the member's assessment of today's Parliament. All we need to do is look at the destructive force we witnessed yesterday from the opposition parties in trying to force standing committees to do certain things.
My question for the member is this. Would he also acknowledge that Elections Canada does have a mandate to be ready, and it will be ready? Hopefully, this Parliament will be able to help facilitate a healthier, safer election, whenever that might be.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-03-26 10:10 [p.5344]
Madam Speaker, on the first point about what happened yesterday, if we examine the list of Liberal private members' bills and motions, what we often see is a long list of mandated studies for committees. This is not a new thing and it has been a frustration to many. I invite the parliamentary secretary to look at the Private Members' Business of many of his own members. What he will see are instructions to committees from the House. I find it weird that he would have a principled objection to that. Perhaps the Liberals should have a discussion in their House leader's office or at their caucus more appropriately about the nature of Private Members' Business their members ought to put forward.
On the second point about Elections Canada being ready, we certainly heard at committee during the study on pandemic elections that Elections Canada would do everything it can to run its—
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-03-26 10:11 [p.5344]
Madam Speaker, I have a bit of a different take on that one. In my my, it was important that the government table legislation before Christmas. I thought it was important that the bill proceed in a spirit of collaboration and that MPs from different parties needed to know what was in the mind of the government with respect to its initial proposal. Otherwise, it would have tabled it at the last minute and the criticism would have been that it had sat on these changes and nobody had time to give input. It was better that it put its best foot forward earlier so there was some time over the break to think about what it had proposed.
It is unfortunate it took so long to get to the debate on Bill C-19. There are a lot of reasons for that. I acknowledge that it was not just because of the government that this happened. It was been better to have a longer conversation with more information rather than less and that—
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-03-26 10:13 [p.5344]
Madam Speaker, I think the biggest risk of uncertainty regarding the election results comes from politicians who say that people should be uncertain about them.
In many countries, the official election results are not known until one or even two weeks after the election, and that is not the end of the world.
We could take the necessary measures to ensure the security of the ballots while they are being counted, which would give a bit more time after voting day. However, that is something that would have to be more thoroughly debated in committee, which is why I want this bill to be sent to committee as quickly as possible.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-03-26 10:14 [p.5345]
Madam Speaker, one of the things that Canadians need to know about this bill is that there is a clause that says its provisions will not come into effect until 90 days after the bill passes through Parliament, which includes the other place not just the House of Commons.
If anybody is thinking about having an election before the summer, it may well be too late already under these rules. I do think the proposed legislation, and particularly after some improvement in committee, will make for a much better election, both from the point of view of public health but also from the point of view of ensuring that people who want to cast their ballots have their voices heard, that their votes count and that they get them in the ballot box.
It is really important that these modifications are made in case we have an election. It is already probably too late for an election that would occur before the summer. I would like to hear the Prime Minister commit to not calling an election before the summer.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-03-26 10:16 [p.5345]
Madam Speaker, this is a really critical issue. The committee should be taking this up as one of its priorities for the legislation.
People in the House will know that I am not a wallflower when it comes to criticizing the government. However, if we look back to Bill C-76, it was a very combative way to change the Elections Act. The approach so far seems to be different, and that is important. It creates the space for the committee to do good work on this and other issues to get some changes on which we can all agree, and then proceed on that basis.
I remain optimistic in respect to this legislation that we should be able to find a path forward and get good rules in place to protect both public health and democracy in the case that we do have an election. The best option is to not have an election right now. It is not a good time.
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
NDP (MB)
View Daniel Blaikie Profile
2021-03-26 10:18 [p.5345]
Madam Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is currently undergoing a filibuster by Liberal members who do not want to have a vote on a particular motion that has to do with the WE Charity scandal, I am certainly attuned to the ways in which the government is also causing dysfunction when it suits its political purposes.
That is why I reiterate that we all have a responsibility, as MPs, to try to rise above that kind of stuff, do our jobs and keep the focus on people. That includes trying to avoid an election right now, because there are serious risks to both public health and to our democracy. We do not need a political crisis on top of an economic and public health crisis, and the best way to avoid that is to not have an election. We need to think differently about the way we might have approached our jobs in the last Parliament and in the early days of this one.
View Dan Mazier Profile
CPC (MB)
Madam Speaker, mankind has yet to step foot on planet Mars, but thanks to the innovation and work spearheaded by Manitoba’s Mark Wahoski, my constituency is leading the way.
Based in the rural community of Minnedosa, Manitoba, Canadian Photonic Labs has been working with NASA on its Mars exploration program. Its high-speed imaging technology has been used extensively for research and development, along with the testing of the mission’s critical events. As a result, the Perseverance rover successfully landed on the red planet earlier this year. This successful mission would not have been possible without the technology developed by Canadian Photonic Labs.
I congratulate Mark Wahoski and everyone else who worked tirelessly on this Canadian success story. Their contributions in science and technology are out of this world. Mission accomplished.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-26 12:09 [p.5365]
Madam Speaker, there was an attempt, but we were having some technical difficulties. If we could get the leave of the House, maybe the member could repose his question and we would be more than happy to ensure there is an answer.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-26 12:28 [p.5368]
Madam Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-25 10:16 [p.5227]
Mr. Speaker, if the government's revised response to Question No. 373, originally tabled on March 22, could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-25 10:17 [p.5227]
Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View James Bezan Profile
CPC (MB)
Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the member for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes for bringing this motion to the floor. I think it is important that we demonstrate to Canadians that the Liberals are blocking the work of parliamentary committees, and that they are stopping us from getting to the bottom of some very serious scandals within the Liberal government, including the WE scandal and the sad case of sexual misconduct by the top officers in the Canadian Armed Forces.
There is talk about ministerial accountability, but then we have ministers who refuse to be accountable. That is why we need to hear from key witnesses, including their staff and chiefs of staff, so that we can shine the sunlight and show Canadians the truth.
Looking at the coordinated effort by the government to stop committees from hearing from witnesses and getting to the bottom of what is actually taking place, it is evident that Liberal members would rather protect their political skins and their political staff than protect those who serve us in uniform. It has become abundantly clear. With revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against the former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, and the allegations against the current Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Art McDonald, it is all too obvious that the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have a serious and ongoing problem with stomping out sexual misconduct.
We ask a lot of the brave men and women who serve us in uniform and, in return, we as parliamentarians have a duty to protect those people who have sworn an oath to protect all of us. We cannot allow our daughters, sisters and mothers to work in these unsafe environments. No one should ever be subjected to sexual harassment when they show up to serve our nation.
I want specifically to address the part of the motion calling the former chief of staff to the Minister of National Defence, Zita Astravas, before our national defence committee. She is currently the chief of staff to the minister of public safety. On February 9, revelations had already come to light that General Vance was alleged to have not conducted himself with honour: he had sent an email to a subordinate that was sexual in nature, and that information had been presented to the Minister of National Defence on March 1, 2018. When those revelations came out in early February, we had an emergency meeting of the national defence committee and we brought forward a motion calling a number of witnesses to appear, including Zita Astravas. Nothing ever came of the invitation that was extended to her, dating back to February 9.
Fast forward a month, and we had a situation with allegations coming out against Admiral Art McDonald. We had expanded the study and we brought forward the motion to again call Zita Astravas to appear. Originally we asked to summon her, because it had already been a month since she had actually been at committee and she had refused to appear, so that time we wanted to issue a summons. That was amended by members of the committee to invite her once again. Here we are, almost a full four weeks after that time, and she has not yet appeared.
On Monday, March 22, we brought forward a motion at committee to summon her, to ensure that she did appear to speak to this issue. Again, the Liberals stood and filibustered for a couple of hours to prevent the motion from being carried. It is a sad state when we have government members stopping witnesses from appearing on something as disgusting as sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. They would rather block hearing from witnesses than stand up for the brave men and women in uniform.
I can also confirm that the clerk of the national defence committee has called Ms. Astravas's office at Public Safety. He has left voice mails, he has gone through the PMO switchboard and he has also sent emails. Ms. Astravas has not returned any of those calls or emails. That is why it is so important that today's motion passes: so we can finally get to the bottom of what Zita Astravas knew.
We know that on March 1, 2018, when Gary Walbourne, the former ombudsman, presented the evidence to the Minister of National Defence, the minister pushed away from the table and said no. He mumbled something about maybe having the ombudsman take it to the National Investigation Service. We know the very next day that his chief of staff, Zita Astravas, reached out to the PCO, Privy Council Office. We know that they also talked to PMO senior adviser Elder Marques, who has agreed to appear before committee.
There is mounting evidence that Zita Astravas was involved in what happened with that information after the meeting, when it was presented in confidence by Gary Walbourne to the Minister of National Defence. Rather, she took that information and shared it with who knows who. We need to talk to her about everyone who was brought into the loop. It could have included Katie Telford, who is chief of staff to the Prime Minister. It definitely could have involved the Clerk, and we know it involved the Deputy Clerk of cabinet in the Privy Council Office. There is so much out there that we need to dig down on.
The stories from the Prime Minister and the defence minister on the sexual misconduct allegations against General Vance continue to change. When this news first broke on February 4, the Prime Minister and the defence minister were pretty much saying that they were not aware of these allegations prior to what was reported in the news. That is false, because we know that evidence was presented to the minister on March 1, 2018, and the Prime Minister later said that he and his office were aware on February 24. They keep changing their stories. He admitted in question period on March 10 that he knew there were allegations, but did not know the content of the allegations. That is not good enough. If they were aware of those allegations on March 1, 2018, why did they extend General Vance's contract by three years and why did he get a raise of $50,000? Where are the facts on this?
If we look at the testimony of Gary Walbourne, the minister refused to talk at committee about private conversations with the ombudsman, and then he pushed away from the table when he was presented with evidence. He now admits that he would not look at the evidence and said it would have been political interference if he had gotten involved in the investigation. Gary Walbourne said yesterday that was “bizarre” and “weak”. That is not a proper excuse.
Yesterday, the Minister of National Defence directed the Royal Canadian Navy to look into an investigation they did of a comment about a red room on a Zoom call, which implied sexual misconduct. The Minister of National Defence cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that he cannot be politically involved and then give instructions to review an investigation. This is a cover-up at the highest levels. The Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence refuse to be accountable. There was the big raise and the extension for General Vance, who was overseeing Operation Honour, which was signed off on by the Prime Minister.
We need to find out if Zita Astravas waved any red flags to the minister, the Prime Minister's Office, the Prime Minister or the PCO to stop the raise. Was she complicit? Were all of them complicit? We cannot forget about the role of Richard Fadden in all of this. When we heard about these rumours in 2015, the national security adviser, Richard Fadden, investigated them. When this happened with the current Prime Minister's Office and the PCO, they did not even talk to Daniel Jean, who was the national security adviser.
All of this is so sad, and it is important that we address this going forward and have witnesses appear at committee so we can get to the bottom of the facts and to the truth.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2021-03-25 10:48 [p.5231]
Mr. Speaker, a little later I will get the opportunity to talk about the destructive parliamentary force the Conservative Party tends to want to play, but my question is specific to this member.
I will quote from a CTV News article, which says:
When considering Vance’s appointment for the military’s top post, Ray Novak told the House of Commons defence committee on Monday that, in March 2015, the National Security and Intelligence Advisor briefed then-PM Harper that the general was in a relationship with a subordinate U.S. officer who was “not in his chain of command” during a NATO deployment in Italy.
If we are going to start to have these types of investigations, would it not be appropriate to maybe even call Stephen Harper before the committee for his behaviour or lack of action?
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