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View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bill Blair Profile
2021-02-26 10:03 [p.4591]
moved that Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Madam Speaker, I am very honoured today to have the opportunity and privilege to take part in this debate and introduce to the House Bill C-21 at second reading. Bill C-21, an act to amend certain acts and to make certain consequential amendments, is a historic and important step forward for Canada in creating a safer country. This legislation proposes to introduce some of the strongest gun control measures in our country's history.
It represents the culmination of many years of work and strong advocacy from the victims of gun crimes in this country. We have listened to those victims. We have listened to police chiefs across the country, who have urged successive governments to bring in stronger measures, recognizing that gun control is a factor of community safety and a necessary legislative requirement for keeping our communities safe. As Dr. Najma Ahmed, co-chair of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns, has said about the bill, “This is a comprehensive bill that, if enacted, will save lives”.
Canada is generally a very safe country and Canadians take great pride in that, but they are legitimately concerned about the threats posed by firearm-related crime in their communities. It is therefore important to begin with the recognition and acknowledgement that gun ownership in Canada is not a right; it is a privilege. It is a privilege earned by gun owners who obey our laws and who purchase their guns legally, use them responsibly and store them securely. It is through the strict adherence to our laws, regulations and restrictions that Canadians earn the privilege of firearm ownership. I want to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of those firearm owners are, in fact, responsible and abide by our laws. However, we also know that far too often, firearms can fall into the wrong hands or be present in dangerous circumstances.
As a former police officer and police chief, I have far too many times been required to go to the scene of firearm tragedies where young people and innocent citizens have been gunned down in the streets, and where firearm violence impacts not only the victims, but their families and their communities. Last summer, I went to a community in Toronto that had already experienced 22 violent gun incidents just in the month of July. What that meant in the community is that every child knew someone who had been the victim of a gun crime. That generational trauma demands an appropriate response from all Canadians. I have also had the unfortunate duty to attend funerals for police officers and for citizens who had been killed with these guns. Those are the things that should deepen all of our resolve to take action.
We have listened to the strong advocacy of the victims from École Polytechnique, from Nova Scotia, at the mosque in Quebec and at tragedies throughout the country. We have also witnessed with horror the use of some of these weapons in mass shootings around the world, and we have taken action.
As members will recall, last May 1, our government, by order in council, prohibited over 1,500 weapons. With Bill C-21 introduced today, we are taking actions to complete that prohibition. We have, through the legislation, established the conditions necessary to secure and set controls for the newly prohibited firearms.
Under this legislation, all of those in possession of such newly prohibited firearms will be required to acquire a licence to possess the weapon. The firearm will have to be registered as a prohibited weapon. There will be no grandfathering, as previously done. Rather, we are imposing through this legislation strict prohibitions on the sale, transfer and transport of these weapons, and we are imposing complete prohibitions on their use. The use of these newly prohibited weapons will be a criminal offence. We are also imposing strict conditions on the storage of these weapons, rendering these newly prohibited firearms legally unusable as a firearm.
We have relied on the advice of law enforcement and our various officials across the country to determine the best way to safely manage these weapons, which are prevalent in our society. However, I want to be clear: There is nothing in this legislation that speaks of a buy-back program. We believe that Canadians who legally purchased the guns we want to prohibit need to be treated fairly, and we are imposing appropriate and necessarily prohibitions on their sale and use, and restrictions on their storage. We also intend to offer the people who purchased these guns legally an opportunity to surrender them and be fairly compensated for them.
The bill does much more than just complete the prohibition. We have also looked very carefully in this legislation at all of the ways that criminals gain access to guns. We have seen a very concerning increase in gun violence in cities and communities right across this country. This manifests itself in different ways, but we know that in almost every circumstance criminals get their guns one of three ways: They are smuggled across our borders from the United States, stolen from lawful gun owners or retailers, or criminally diverted from those who purchase them legally and then sell them illegally.
In consultation with law enforcement, we have looked at all of the ways that criminals gain access to guns, and we have taken strong action in Bill C-21 to close off that supply. For example, with respect to concerns over guns coming in from across the border, we have heard many concerns from not only law enforcement but communities across the country about the proliferation of firearms, particularly handguns, that are smuggled in from the United States.
I recently had a conversation with my counterparts in the United States, and we are committed to establishing a bilateral task force on both sides of our countries for law enforcement to work collaboratively together to help prevent the importation of these firearms. In Bill C-21, we are also taking strong action to increase the penalty for gun smuggling and provide law enforcement and our border service officers with the resources and access to the data they need to be effective in identifying the source of these guns, for cutting off that supply and to deal more effectively to deter, detect and prosecute the individuals and organizations responsible for smuggling these guns into our country.
Let us also be clear that smuggling is not the only way. Quite often, we hear from gun retailers and the gun lobby in this country that we should only look at somebody else's guns, not theirs. Unfortunately, the reality is that in many parts of the country, crime guns are not just smuggled across the border.
I think it is important to listen to some of the police chiefs. For example, the chief in Saskatoon has recently said that crime guns in his community are not being smuggled across the border but are being stolen from legal gun owners. We also heard from the chief in Regina, who very clearly said that the guns in his community are not coming across the border but are legally owned, obtained through theft or straw purchase. The chief in Edmonton also opined that only 5% to 10% of the crime guns in his community, in the city of Edmonton, are actually smuggled across the border and the rest come from legal gun owners through theft and straw purchasing.
It is therefore important that in this legislation we address those sources of supply as well. That is why we are introducing in this legislation strict new restrictions on the storage of handguns in this country. They would require all handgun owners to store their weapons more securely, in a safe or vault that will be prescribed and described in the regulations of this legislation. They would also require gun retailers to store their weapons, when on display and in storage, more securely to prevent their theft.
I will highlight an example. A couple of years ago, two young girls and nine Torontonians were injured in a terrible and tragic gun incident. The firearm in that case was stolen some three months before from a gun shop in Saskatoon. Over three months, it made its way into Toronto and was used in a horrific crime. Therefore, keeping those guns out of our communities is an important element of Bill C-21.
Finally, we also deal with the source of supply through criminal diversion. We have seen a number of examples where individuals have purchased a large number of handguns and made an attempt to disguise their origin by filing off the serial numbers and then selling them for an enormous profit to the criminal market and to the gangs that commit violent acts in our communities. For those crimes to be detected and deterred, we need to ensure that law enforcement has access to the resources and data its members need to properly trace those weapons. That is why in this legislation we have provided law enforcement with that access.
We are also making significant investments. Yesterday, I advised the House that through our investments in British Columbia, for example, we just opened up a brand new forensic firearms laboratory. It will assist law enforcement in determining the origin of these weapons so we can hold individuals who purchase them legally and sell them illegally to account.
We also know that, in addition to guns that get into the hands of criminals, there are circumstances when the presence of a firearm that may have been legally obtained can lead to tragedy in certain potentially dangerous situations. We see it in incidents of domestic violence and intimate partner violence, when a legally acquired firearm may be in a home. When the circumstances in that home change so that it becomes a place of violence and threat and coercion, the presence of a firearm in those circumstances can lead to deadly consequences.
Although the police currently have some limited authority to remove firearms in those circumstances, in many cases of domestic and intimate partner violence the police are not aware of the presence of a firearm, even when the crime is reported to them.
Through this legislation, we are empowering others: empowering victims, those who support them, legal aid clinics and other people in our society to take effective action through what are called extreme risk laws to remove firearms from potentially dangerous situations. Similarly, in situations where an individual may become suicidal or is emotionally disturbed, the presence of a firearm could lead to a deadly outcome.
We are empowering doctors, family members, clergy and elders in communities to take effective action to remove firearms by using the provisions of this legislation to remove firearms from those potentially dangerous and deadly situations.
Finally, this legislation also applies to those who engage in acts of hatred and extremism online. We have seen, in a number of tragic incidents in this country, that individuals have given an indication of their deadly intent online. When that information is available, we are now empowering those who become aware of it to take action, to remove firearms from those deadly situations and help keep people safe.
I want to advise the House that in the United States, 19 states have implemented extreme risk laws, also referred to as red flag laws, in every jurisdiction. In those states, we have seen strong evidence that these measures save lives. That is our intent with this legislation.
This legislation is not intended, in any way, to infringe upon the legitimate use of firearms for hunting or sport shooting purposes. It is, first and foremost, a public safety bill. It aims to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would commit violent crimes with them, and to remove firearms from situations that could become dangerous and be made deadly by the presence of a firearm. That is the intent of this legislation.
We are taking some additional measures within this legislation. For example, we have listened to law enforcement, which for over 30 years has been urging the Government of Canada to take action to prohibit what are often referred to as replica firearms. These devices appear absolutely indistinguishable from dangerous firearms. The police have urged governments to take action because these devices are often used in crime. They have been used to hurt people. They present an overwhelming, impossible challenge for law enforcement officers when they are confronted by individuals using these devices. This has, in many circumstances, led to tragic consequences.
After listening to law enforcement, this legislation includes prohibiting those devices. If I may be clear, these are not BB guns, paint guns or pellet guns that people use recreationally. These are devices designed as exact replicas of dangerous firearms. That exact appearance really creates the danger around these devices, so we are taking action.
We are also taking action to strengthen our provisions with respect to large-capacity magazines. I have been to far too many shootings in my city of Toronto. Years ago, when someone discharged a revolver, there would be two or three shots fired. Now, dangerous semi-automatic handguns and large-capacity magazines can lead to literally dozens and dozens of rounds being discharged, putting far more innocent people at risk.
We have seen that those devices are often modified to allow for the higher capacity, and we are taking action to prevent that. We are closing a loophole with respect to the importation of information, and we are making other consequential amendments to this legislation, all intended to keep communities safe.
As a companion to this important legislation, we have also made significant investments, first of all, in law enforcement. Several years ago a previous government cut enormous amounts of funding from the police, eliminating RCMP officers and border services officers, weakening our controls at the border and compromising our ability to deal effectively with organized crime. We have been reinvesting in policing and border services to restore Canada's capacity to secure our borders and keep our communities safe.
For example, we have made over $214 million available to municipal and indigenous police services because we know that they do important work in dealing with guns and gangs in their communities and reducing gun violence. Those investments in policing are important; however, they are not the only investments necessary to keep our communities safe. That is why we are also investing in communities. Through our fall economic statement, over the next five years we are making $250 million available to community organizations that do extraordinary work with young people and help to change the social conditions that give rise to crime and violence.
This is a comprehensive approach to gun safety in this country. It is always extraordinary to me that some people are afraid to talk about guns when we are talking about gun violence, but in my experience, countries with strong and appropriate gun control are safer countries. We have also seen that those countries with weak gun laws, as have been opposed by some in the House, experience the tragedy of gun violence far too often.
If I may repeat, in this country firearm ownership is a privilege, not a right. That makes us fundamentally different from countries like the United States, where the right to bear arms is protected constitutionally. It is not in Canada. Canada, like many other very sensible countries, has taken the appropriate step of banning firearms that have no place in our society. They are not designed for hunting and they are not designed for sport: they are designed for soldiers to hunt other soldiers and kill people, and tragically that is what they have been used for. That is why we have prohibited them and through the actions of this bill, we are taking strong measures to ensure that these firearms cannot ever be legally used in this country.
We believe that these provisions are appropriate, they are necessary, they are effective and they are fair, because we acknowledge as well that those who purchased the now-prohibited firearms did so legally. Now that we have prohibited them, we want to ensure that they can never be used to commit a violent crime at any time in this country.
We have drawn a bright line in this legislation. We are not a country where people arm themselves to defend themselves against each other. We do not carry guns in this country for self-protection. We rely on the rule of law. Peace, order and good government are strongly held Canadian values, and we do not arm our citizens as they do in some other countries for self-defence.
Firearms in this country are only appropriate for hunting and sport shooting purposes, and there is nothing in this legislation that in any way infringes upon those activities. Some will try to make the case notwithstanding, but frankly it is a false case based on the false assumption that all firearms in this country represent a danger. They are offensive weapons by their very definition; therefore, we regulate them very strictly in Canada. Some of those firearms, such as handguns, are very dangerous, so we have appropriately added restrictions on them.
Finally, some weapons frankly have no place in a society for which firearms can only be used for hunting and sport purposes, These are firearms that were designed for combat: tactical weapons, which used to be marketed as assault weapons before those weapons began to be prohibited by countries like New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. These weapons were even prohibited in the United States for a decade.
We are doing the right thing and taking the appropriate action to keep Canadians safe. This bill builds upon the effective measures that we brought forward in Bill C-71, which we are in the process of fully implementing over the next few months. We believe that, coupled with our investments, both pieces of legislation will help fulfill our promise to Canadians to do everything necessary to strengthen gun control in this country and keep Canadians safe.
View Tom Kmiec Profile
CPC (AB)
View Tom Kmiec Profile
2021-02-05 10:04 [p.4049]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be joining the debate on Bill C-10. There is a Yiddish proverb that says when one sweeps the house, one finds everything. I am not sweeping this House, as I am sure it is the cleanest house in Canada right now. I am sure the staff is doing amazing work.
In reading the legislation now before the House, I had to sweep over articles of what the minister and the government believe Bill C-10 would achieve, especially as conditions have changed over the past four weeks. I hope to demonstrate to the House that the intent of the government, with Bill C-10 and what it hopes to achieve, is confounding two different issues.
There is a role for the government to play in ensuring that regulations and laws are in place to offset disinformation and attempts by foreign governments, or entities with a nefarious purpose, to spread disinformation with the objective of achieving discord or chaos in our country, or causing economic harm.
I do not think there is as much of a place for the government to deal with misinformation, because Canadians are excellent at dealing with it themselves. A headline about an interview the Minister of Canadian Heritage gave states, “Regulation of online hate speech coming soon, says minister”. This is regarding Bill C-10, the legislation that was suggested. Hate speech is already banned by the Criminal Code. There is a way for police to monitor and go after individuals who spread hate speech. Nobody on this side of the House, or any side of the House, agrees with hate speech. I do my best to make sure that when I see it online I address it, whether it is directed at ethnicities or religions, and whatever the purpose is behind it.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage also said that the government wants to block messages on the Internet and social media that might undermine Canada's social cohesion. It is a lofty goal for the government to want to do these things with legislation like Bill C-10 and the vast extension of government powers that it is allowing. I will go through some of the proposed government powers that I find questionable.
I question whether ensuring the social cohesion of a country is the right role for the government to be taking on. Our citizens, NGOs and civic organizations do the job of protecting our civic virtues already. It is not the job of the government to be proposing such legislation as I see here. What I see in Bill C-10 is the government opening the door to state regulation of the Internet. While people define the Internet in different ways, we interact with it every single day, whether by watching steaming services online or interacting with others on different platforms. This is an area that I think the government is erring by getting into.
The same minister went on to say that he wanted to prevent media platforms from sowing doubt in the population with regard to public institutions. I find the government does an excellent job of sowing doubt in public institutions itself. We were told months ago that vaccines were going to be distributed and everybody was going to be vaccinated by September 2021. Then we saw an announcement for AstraZeneca vaccines from a facility that is not even built yet. It will be finished in July, and then we are supposed to believe that in two months somehow this facility will save the day, and also that Pfizer vaccines will be available now that its facility has been upgraded.
It sows doubt among people in my riding who trusted the government at the beginning, who had faith in public institutions and public servants and believed that the government had a handle on this. They do not believe that anymore. I had a digital town hall yesterday and the majority of the questions I had to field from over 600 constituents back home, at one point, concerned the government's dribs-and-drabs approach to the travel restrictions that it has introduced, and how confusing they are. To be honest, I am just as confused as everybody else.
The government does enough of a job of undermining public trust in public institutions. When it botches the rollout of the vaccine to the provinces and introduces random restrictions, it does not need legislation like this. I will go into some of the aspects of what this legislation would do that give me concern.
First, I am concerned that the bill chooses to limit the oversight powers of parliamentary committees with respect to directives and regulations that would be adopted by the CRTC. At the end of the amendments to the Broadcasting Act, the bill states that it would go around the powers Parliament rightfully has to oversee what is being done. I get constituents asking me, all the time, to intervene in the actions and regulatory activities of the CRTC. I have concerns about this.
The Broadcasting Act says that broadcasting undertakings include distribution undertakings. The proposed legislation would add online undertakings. About a dozen people in my riding have successful YouTube channels, such as toy channels and travel channels, when travel was easy to do. YouTube is one of those platforms I think the government is targeting for regulation. YouTube is both a streaming service and a platform. It is sort of a commons area like this chamber, for people to put up videos, whether funny or serious, and share their opinions. Whether or not one likes their opinions is totally secondary.
This is an expansion of what the government is trying to do. A lot of independent media are saying they are very concerned that they are going to be regulated directly by the government. Who gets to decide what is misinformation? What I see happening, mostly from parties on the left but all over the spectrum, is that misinformation is now whatever someone does not like, or whatever opinion one does not agree with.
A lot of Liberal caucus members have opinions I disagree with, but I do not want to censor them. I want to debate them, preferably on the floor of the House. I do not want to do it over Twitter. To me, Twitter is one of the lowest of all platforms. It is where people get attacked, mobbed and treated like second-class citizens. When I talk to constituents about it, I generally refer to Twitter as a sewer with its activities. Bots are all over the place, and there are vicious attacks on both Liberal and Conservative politicians. I think all members have been victims, at some point, of nasty online commentary, either calling for violence or treating the members very poorly. We can all agree that this is something awful and unique to that particular platform.
Another part of the legislation I am worried about would amend a portion of the intention behind the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It reads, “the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide broadcasting,” which is the new amendment, “services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains”. I have a hard time believing that a lot of the material being broadcast right now by the CBC, or its online platforms, informs, enlightens or entertains, unless it is a high form of satire it is producing in its news section.
Bill C-10 does not achieve the modernization of broadcasting, which was the idea the government had months ago when the bill was tabled. Generally, many members agree with that idea. In my lifetime, with the advent of the Internet, we have seen a lot of people migrate away from cable providers. Cable used to be the “it” thing in the 1990s. I would not know, as I never had cable. My family could not afford it.
Everybody has migrated to online services. The government is catching up to regulate these, but it is going way overboard and has missed the mark. This is not the way we should go about regulating it, nor should we take away from Parliament the ability to question and oversee regulators such as the CRTC.
I consistently get complaints about the CRTC and I do not think more government power over what Canadians share online, the discussions they are having at home and online, is an area the government should be getting into. It does not have the wisdom or the ability. It will always be catching up to society and civic institutions not attached to government. The government is erring, and I will not be supporting this particular legislation.
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Anita Vandenbeld Profile
2021-01-27 17:02 [p.3642]
Mr. Speaker, I am here today to present petition e-2740 on Holocaust education, with 747 signatures, including those of former prime ministers Joe Clark and Paul Martin.
The petitioners are concerned about increasing anti-Semitism, and the fact that there are fewer survivors alive to tell the stories about the horrors of the Holocaust to young people. They are calling for increased investment in Holocaust education, research and remembrance, especially to reach young people, and also funding to preserve the testimony of survivors.
It is particularly fitting that I am presenting this petition today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
View Salma Zahid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Salma Zahid Profile
2021-01-26 15:03 [p.3548]
Mr. Speaker, a survey by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation found that racialized Canadians are three times more likely to be exposed or targeted by violence on social media. This can lead to hate crimes, which are up by 7% this year.
Four years ago, six people were murdered at a mosque in Quebec City. It was a crime motivated by Islamophobia and xenophobia, with a perpetrator radicalized through a social media environment that amplified hateful messages in a way never seen before.
As the Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for creating new regulations for social media platforms, could he please update us on his work to protect Canadians online?
View Steven Guilbeault Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, the conclusions of this survey are clear. Hate speech has no place in our society. It is time to step up against online hate. The numbers are disturbing, but they come as no surprise. Almost half of Canadians report either experiencing or seeing violent or hateful content online.
Canadians want us to act, and that is exactly why we intent to introduce legislation. Our approach will require online platforms to eliminate illegal content, such as hate speech, terrorist and violent extremism, child pornography and the non-consensual sharing of intimate images online.
View Lyne Bessette Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Lyne Bessette Profile
2021-01-25 15:08 [p.3400]
Mr. Speaker, communities across Canada are extremely concerned about the rise of Islamophobia, online hate speech and other forms of prejudice that have only intensified throughout the pandemic. We have all seen that words can lead to violence.
As parliamentarians, we recognize that we all have a duty to lead by example. We must engage in respectful dialogue and remain open to debating ideas to hear the views of Canadians in order to work towards a society where everyone is free to thrive with dignity.
Could the Minister of Canadian Heritage tell the House what our government is doing to combat the promotion of hatred and violence online?
View Steven Guilbeault Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi for the question.
Hate speech has no place in our society. Our government will continue to take ambitious, meaningful measures to combat online radicalization and the violence that may ensue. We recently announced funding for YMCA Canada's “Block Hate” initiative to combat cyberviolence and online hate speech.
This project will examine hate speech trends across Canada and work with experts to develop online tools and training for Canadians.
View Arnold Viersen Profile
CPC (AB)
View Arnold Viersen Profile
2020-11-24 12:43 [p.2308]
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise again today to address Bill C-11. This bill, when printed, is nearly an inch thick. It is a monster bill for around here. It is a timely bill, as well. I am looking forward to delving into it. I have not had the opportunity to read through it in great detail to this point, but I want to speak to it.
This is a top-of-mind issue for many Canadians. One of the things I want to point out right off the top is that when someone is online and a virtual persona, if they think they are getting a free product, they are actually the product. That is the thing to remember and many folks do not seem to realize that. That is something I have not seen in this bill, which is important. I think it is missing from this bill, although this bill may not been seeking to address that specifically.
There could be some sort of public awareness campaign, much the same as we have done with cigarettes. In the past, the public was trained that if someone smoked cigarettes, they would get cancer. We could do this for online profiles and show the dangers and what is going on out there.
As well, the member for Port Moody—Coquitlam mentioned what is actually happening with our data. We think we are filling out a fun game or personality test, but we are actually giving away data. It can be harvested commercially to send advertisements and promote certain products.
We continue to see more invasion of our privacy. I do not know about other members, but the thing that jumped out at me, during my first cursory read of this bill, was the term “algorithm transparency”. That is something I am really fascinated by.
On the weekend, my friend was telling me that he took his phone, laid it on the table and he and his friends talked about white rabbits for three to four minutes. They just said the words “white rabbits” often. Then they opened up his phone, went to Facebook and the advertisements he was getting were about white rabbits. Our phones are listening to us and there are algorithms that are promoting certain things.
We can probably turn that feature off and mute the microphones on our phones all the time if we know how to do that, if we care enough about it or are concerned about that kind of thing. There is a joke that the Chinese are listening to us. It is just an assumption that is being made. I do not think there is actually somebody listening on the other end, but there is an algorithm that is obviously listening to what we are saying and trying push products toward us that we are interested in.
The white rabbit story is interesting. It is not necessarily something that would come up in day-to-day discussions. However, I know that if we connect to someone else's WiFi then suddenly we start getting different advertisements. My cousin has a CNC plasma cutting table for cutting metal. It is really cool, but what is interesting is that when I go to his house and connect to his WiFi, which is also connected to that CNC plasma table, I start getting advertisements for CNC cutting tables. That is wild and fascinating. The algorithm transparency piece is one of the most fascinating pieces of this law.
Sometimes on Facebook, we get ads. We can click on the “X” to get rid of the ad. When an ad comes up, one wonders why they are seeing it. If I could get an answer for that, that would be amazing.
I am interested in that. What is being fed into the system that is promoting this particular ad to me? That is something I am really interested in knowing. At this point, there seems to be no recourse whatsoever to know why these ads show up. In my virtual personality that lives out on the Internet and in the data collected on me, what recent actions in particular have I undertaken that have driven this particular ad into my feed? I am fascinated to see if we are going to be able to bring that transparency with this bill. I am not necessarily convinced we will be able to do it, but I am fascinated by it.
The other piece I do not think this bill addresses at all is the question of social media platforms or Internet platforms being message boards or publishers. This continues to be a sticking point. There have been committee hearings with the major social media platforms, and we have seen countries around the world seek to grapple with this issue. This is precisely what governments ought to be doing.
What it means to govern and to legislate is to come up with a system that balances the interests of all people in a way of our choosing. That is what it means to be in a democracy. That is what it means to be governed by ourselves, so to speak. In many cases we see effective lobbying efforts by organized groups, and in particular commercial interests, that do not necessarily allow the government to get that balance right.
We see in the news how we grapple to enable this. Some large social media platforms have amassed a wealth that exceeds that of many nations. Some of the largest nations in the world are able to compete with this, but many smaller nations do not have the resource capacity many of these large media companies do, so there is tension there. I compliment this bill in that it is attempting to have that discussion.
Do I trust the Liberals to get it right? No, typically not, but I commend them for bringing this forward and beginning the conversation. This is going to be a long conversation. Like I said before, this bill is an inch thick.
The member for Scarborough—Rouge Park just made a comment. I do not quite know what he said, but I am sure he was complimenting me on my speech. I thank him and appreciate that.
Around algorithmic transparency, the piece that is really important, and that I do not think this bill quite grasps, is whether platforms are curating content, publishing it or choosing winners and losers. The algorithmic transparency of that is a big concern for me, and I know it is a big concern for many people across the country. It is interesting this is a concern for people both on the right and the left. It is a concern for all the political parties. It is a concern for ideological differences, and in general for what is curated and what is deemed to be on the platform.
This is also a concern for the platforms themselves, in that one particular message that comes from a platform can then become part of a mob mentality. People could then really go after it.
There is no protection, necessarily, for platforms because there is ambiguity about whether they are responsible for messages on the message board and, if they are, whether they are liable as a newspaper would be. That is the major challenge.
While I am not convinced, at this point, that we will get algorithmic transparency in that sense, it is important to be able to tell people, “This is our algorithm, this is how messages get on the board. We are not responsible for the messages and, therefore, this is how the system works.” There is no human input. It is just a sophisticated method of getting messages in front of people that they want to see, that they think are interesting and that they find helpful.
For the most part, I would say we are getting that right. Where there is some concern is about political messaging. We have already seen that Facebook has worked hard on that, but there is always a spectrum, I would say, of political messaging. There is explicit party messaging, which is relatively easy to monitor and manage, but then there is political messaging that goes farther afield. When it is a random, individual Canadian doing political messaging, how is that managed? That is when it will be really important for us to get the algorithmic transparency piece right.
There is another thing I am interested in seeing and have not seen. Part of the government's rollout on this bill has been pushing freedom from hate and from violent extremism. That is important to me. The managing of the Internet and platforms around violent and degrading sexually explicit material has been something I have worked on in this place. It was in 2017 that the House unanimously passed a motion for the government to study the impacts of violent and degrading sexually explicit material.
This was something that had not been studied since 1985. I was not even born in 1985, so that tells us it was a long time ago. The member for Fleetwood—Port Kells is shaking his head at me. I am not sure what that belies about me or him, but it was a while back, before I was born and before the Internet existed.
A study on the impacts of violent and degrading sexually explicit material was done in 1985. I remember distinctly, in 1991, going to my uncle's house. He had gotten the Internet. I had heard about it and said I wanted to see the Internet, so he showed me where the phone line plugged into the wall. I asked if that was it and he said we should look at it. He turned his computer on. It had a giant monitor and a big tower beside his desk that hummed. Members may remember the sound coming through the speaker of dial-up Internet. I remember, for the first time ever, seeing the Internet. We went to dogpile.com, which was an early search engine. That was the beginning of the Internet for me, in 1991.
Here we are nearly 30 years later, and we are still grappling with how to manage this. It is a public information highway. There are public highways all over the country, and the government manages a licensing system for folks who get to use the public highways and roads. There is no controversy around that. It seems like an effective way to manage it. Given that it is tangible and we can see it in front of us, that is a manageable thing. In reality, we are dealing with the information highway. Up to this point, there has been very little direction on the role of the government in managing the expectations of Canadians.
Many parents who I have talked to are looking for tools they can use to protect their children online, and they are not satisfied with being told they should just be better parents. They say they want help from the internet service providers. They want help from their government. They want the ability to have some recourse with these large platforms. I am interested to see that.
The government says the Internet should be free from hate and violent extremism. That is something that I support notionally. Video imaging is the area where I am most concerned. In the other direction, I am concerned about free speech, and particularly the use of words and typed messaging. That, I guess, is a little harder to manage. However, particularly with images and video content, I think there is a lot of room for the government to operate in, especially with the violent and extremely degrading sexually explicit material that we have seen since 2007.
Since then, we can chart the impacts of those on Canadian society on a number of different indicators, and they have gotten worse. We see this particularly with our children in terms of the loneliness index going up and the isolation index going up. All of these things are exacerbated by the COVID lockdowns.
These are all things that we need to ensure come into this. Freedom from hate and violent extremism is necessary, and we have to get that right. This is what governments are built for. This is what we need to do, and we have to get it right, so I am looking forward to continuing debate around that.
The last thing I want to point out, which I find to be a little interesting, and I am hoping for some answers on from the government side, is this bill, the procedure of the House and how this bill will roll out over time. I must say this bill was unceremoniously dumped on Parliament. I was not anticipating it. I have been working on these issues for a while, and it was not something that was clearly on my radar.
I had written to the Minister of Canadian Heritage around this issue, and I was wondering how he was going to manage it, because I do remember seeing in his mandate letter that he was to try to remove hate and violent extremism from Canada through the Internet. I had some ideas and concerns around that, so I had written to him about it. I did not receive any feedback back saying the bill is coming, so I was a little surprised that this bill came when it did.
The other thing that I am really looking for an answer on is why the rumour around here is that this bill will be going to the ethics committee. I am wondering why the bill is going to the ethics committee. This seems like a bill built for the industry committee. That is typically where this would be dealt with, so I am left wondering. The ethics committee is seized with a number of other issues, and I am wondering why this bill would be rumoured to be headed toward the ethics committee, when industry seems like the committee that would be more in tune with where we would like to go with this particular bill.
I am going to be continuing to monitor the debate around this bill. I am looking forward to having a robust debate. I know that, given the size of the bill, we will be discussing it for a while, whether in this place, in the other place or in the committee, as well as out there in the general public.
I know that this will be a hot topic of discussion. I look forward to continuing that debate, and I look forward to the questions.
View Peter Julian Profile
NDP (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the whole world was watching the U.S. election this week.
The election highlighted the country's social divisions and tensions exacerbated by social networks. Meanwhile, the Minister of Canadian Heritage introduced his bill, and it does not include anything about content sharing platforms like YouTube. It is well documented that social networks fuel viral content, even if that content is false or promotes hate.
Will the minister introduce a bill to address this issue?
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
2020-11-06 11:28 [p.1842]
Mr. Speaker, this week, we tabled legislation that will modernize the Broadcasting Act. It is the first time this has been done since 1991.
The changes have been welcomed by Canadian creators and those working in the industry. In fact, Jerry Dias of Unifor, which represents many media workers, said, “The fact is, this would be a huge boost for Canadian media, and media workers and their families”.
The Minister of Canadian Heritage recently spoke with his French and Australian counterparts on the measures the two countries are putting in place to support their news publishers. We know the importance of local media, and we will continue to work to support them.
View Iqra Khalid Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Iqra Khalid Profile
2020-10-21 15:01 [p.1034]
Mr. Speaker, online hate is an ever-increasing and pervasive threat that has dangerous implications. We have seen racism simmer and rise. We have seen members of this House face the consequences. We have lost too many lives to despicable acts of violence in Canada and globally. We need concrete action.
Can the Prime Minister please inform the House about our progress in addressing the Christchurch call to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online?
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-10-21 15:01 [p.1034]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her advocacy on behalf of her constituents.
Too many people have been victimized by online hate, and we have seen the results of this too many times. That is why, yesterday, we announced over $700,000 in funding to YWCA Canada to examine hate speech trends while developing online tools and digital literacy training for young Canadians.
We are also working toward establishing requirements for social media platforms to remove such hatred within a reasonable time or be held accountable. We are working together to address harm caused by online hate.
View Anthony Housefather Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Anthony Housefather Profile
2020-09-30 14:08 [p.333]
Mr. Speaker, Monday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. As the Jewish new year begins, there has been an alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents across the globe, most of which originate online. We need to find better ways to combat online hate.
As such, we have launched the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Anti-Semitism. The hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley and I have joined this bipartisan group of members of the national legislatures of Australia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States to help confront anti-Semitism online.
The task force has the following goals: holding social media platforms accountable; adopting and publishing transparent policies related to hate speech; raising awareness about anti-Semitism on social media platforms; and underscoring that the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of hate is a non-partisan consensus in Canada and other democratic countries.
As we move forward with our work, I look forward to collaborating with members of the House across party lines on this incredibly important issue.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Honourable Senators,
Members of the House of Commons,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Every day on our shared planet, millions face hardships that test the human spirit. Extreme weather, wildfires, poverty, conflicts, discrimination and inequalities. Rarely though, has all of humanity faced a single common insidious enemy. An invisible enemy that respects no borders, thrives anywhere, hits anyone.
To overcome a pandemic requires the work and resolve of every order of government, every community, and every one of us.
We don’t decide when hardship comes, but here in Canada, we have decided how we wanted to address it. We have adapted in remarkable ways.
We Canadians did our part. We changed our habits, postponed our plans, switched to teleworking or had to completely reinvent our work, all this, while caring for one another.
We owe an immense debt to those who served and still serve on the frontlines, to health care personnel and essential workers, women and men in uniform, volunteers and leaders, everywhere in the country.
There has been a lot of suffering and we all mourn those who have passed.
We trust science to lead the fight until a safe and effective vaccine becomes available. But until then, we must keep our guard up, using the tools that are available to us now – such as testing, treatments and physical distancing measures.
Like a reed in high winds, we might sway but we will not break. Because our roots are firmly in place, our goals clear, and because we have hope – the hope that lifts the soul on dark days and keeps us focused on the future.
Canadians have lived through uncertain times before and have always prevailed because determination, concern for others, courage, and common sense define our nation.
We must bring all those qualities to bear once again and continue to work for the common good, and for a better, safer and more just society.
This is who we are and what will see us through to brighter days.
Opening
For over 150 years, Parliamentarians have worked together to chart Canada’s path forward.
Your predecessors met when Confederation was only a few months old, setting the course for a young country. They stood united through Canada’s toughest days, leading the nation through wars and depression. And as they did, each Parliamentarian was called to meet their times.
Today, Canadians expect you to do the same. They expect you to work together on their behalf and meet this crucial moment.
Less than a year ago, we gathered here for a Throne Speech to open the 43rd Parliament. Since then, our realities have changed. And so must our approach.
This pandemic is the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced.
Over 9,000 Canadians have died in six months. For our neighbours in the United States, this figure is over 200,000. Globally, it’s nearly a million.
But these aren’t just numbers. These are friends and family. Neighbours and colleagues.
The pandemic is the story of parents who have died alone, without loved ones to hold their hand.
It is the story of kids who have gone months without seeing friends.
Of workers who have lost their jobs.
The last six months have laid bare fundamental gaps in our society, and in societies around the world. This pandemic has been hard for everyone. But for those who were already struggling, the burden has been even heavier.
For parents – and especially moms – who are facing impossible choices between kids and career.
For racialized Canadians and Indigenous Peoples who are confronted by systemic barriers.
For young people who are worried about what their future will hold.
For seniors who are isolated, frightened, and most at risk.
And for workers who, while earning the lowest wages in the most precarious sectors, have been on the frontlines of the pandemic.
We must address these challenges of today. But we also cannot forget about the tests of the future.
The world came into this pandemic facing the risks and consequences of climate change. A lesson that COVID-19 has taught us, is that we need to match challenges with decisiveness and determination.
On all of these fronts – health and the economy, equality and the environment – we must take bold action.
The Government will meet these challenges.
The Government’s approach will have four foundations.
The first foundation of this plan is to fight the pandemic and save lives.
The second foundation of the Government’s plan is supporting people and businesses through this crisis as long as it lasts, whatever it takes. Effectively dealing with the health crisis is the best thing we can do for the economy. Government action has already helped Canadians stay safe, and buffered the worst economic impacts.
The third foundation is to build back better to create a stronger, more resilient Canada. To do this, we must keep strengthening the middle class and helping people working hard to join it, and continue creating jobs and building long-term competitiveness with clean growth. We must also keep building safer communities for everyone.
The fourth and final foundation of this plan is to stand up for who we are as Canadians. We cannot forget what has made us a country that is welcoming. A country that celebrates two official languages. That achieves progress on gender equality, walks the road of reconciliation, and fights discrimination of every kind.
This is our generation’s crossroads.
Do we move Canada forward, or let people be left behind? Do we come out of this stronger, or paper over the cracks that the crisis has exposed?
This is the time to remember who we are as Canadians.
This is the opportunity to contain the global crisis and build back better, together.
Protecting Canadians from COVID-19
The first foundation of the Government’s approach is protecting Canadians from COVID-19.
This is priority number one.
It is the job of the federal government to look out for all Canadians and especially our most vulnerable. We need to work together. Beating this virus is a Team Canada effort.
Over the last six months, Canadians have stood united and strong. Their actions embody what has always been the purpose of the federal government: bringing Canadians together to achieve common goals.
Personal protective equipment has been shipped across the country. Members of the Canadian Forces were there in long-term care homes.
Close to 9 million Canadians were helped with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and over 3.5 million jobs were supported by the wage subsidy.
The Government will continue to have people’s backs just like Canadians have each other’s backs.
Through the first wave, contact tracing and testing ramped up across the country. The surge this fall further reinforces what we already know – that we must do even more.
The federal government will be there to help the provinces increase their testing capacity. Canadians should not be waiting in line for hours to get a test.
At the same time, the Government is pursuing every technology and every option for faster tests for Canadians from coast to coast to coast. As soon as tests are approved for safe use in Canada, the Government will do everything it can to see them deployed. The Government will also create a federal Testing Assistance Response Team to quickly meet surge testing needs, including in remote and isolated communities.
Local public health authorities are the backbone of our nation’s efforts to stop outbreaks before they start. As members of the communities they protect, they know the devastating economic impact a lockdown order can have.
To prevent small clusters from becoming major outbreaks, communities may need to enact short-term closure orders. To make that decision easier for the public health authorities, and to help ease the impact that science- and evidence-based decisions can have on local businesses in the short term, the Government will work to target additional financial support directly to businesses which have to temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.
This will ensure that decisions are made with the health of Canadians as the first priority.
The Government will also continue to work on what communities need more broadly.
The Government has already invested over $19 billion for a Safe Restart Agreement with provinces and territories, to support everything from the capacity of health care systems to securing PPE.
To address the challenges faced by provinces and territories as they reopen classrooms, the federal government invested $2 billion in the Safe Return to Class Fund, along with new funding for First Nations communities. This is money to keep kids – and staff – safe in the classroom, whether that’s by helping schools buy cleaning supplies or upgrade ventilation.
These commitments build on federal investments to support people who are most at risk and those who care for them, including with the federal wage top-up for personal support workers. People on the frontlines who have been looking after seniors do vital work and the Government will continue to have their backs.
At the same time, the Government will continue to support Canadians as they take action to keep each other safe.
Already, people are doing their part by wearing masks. That’s important, and we can build on that commitment. Working with private sector partners, the federal government created the COVID Alert app. Canadians living in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan now have an extra tool to keep themselves and others safe. The Government hopes all the others will sign on so that people in all parts of the country can both do their part and be better protected.
The Government will also continue to work on getting Canadians the PPE they need.
This spring, the Government issued a call, and thousands of Canadian businesses and manufacturers responded. From shop floors to companies big and small, Canada’s dynamic businesses met the challenge as their workers stepped up.
And in less than six months, Canadians are now manufacturing almost all types of PPE. The Government will continue building that domestic capacity, while securing supply chains to keep Canadians safe and create jobs.
Canadians are pulling together, whether that’s with PPE manufacturing, through the COVID Alert app, or by wearing a mask. In the same way, Canadian researchers and scientists are pitching in to the Team Canada effort with their knowledge and expertise.
Vaccine efforts
In the long run, the best way to end this pandemic is with a safe and effective vaccine.
Canada’s vaccine strategy is all about ensuring that Canadians will be able to get a vaccine once it is ready.
There are many types of potential candidates. Canada is exploring the full range of options. The Government has already secured access to vaccine candidates and therapeutics, while investing in manufacturing here at home. And to get the vaccines out to Canadians once they’re ready, the Government has made further investments in our capacity for vaccine distribution.
From the Vaccine Task Force that provides the best advice on vaccine purchasing and roll-out, to the Immunity Task Force looking at how COVID-19 is affecting vulnerable populations, Canada’s top scientific minds are guiding the Government every step of the way.
Helping Canadians through the pandemic
The medical and scientific fight against this virus is crucial. And so are the livelihoods of every single Canadian, worker, and family.
So the second foundation of the Government’s approach is supporting Canadians through this crisis.
The economic impact of COVID-19 on Canadians has already been worse than the 2008 financial crisis. These consequences will not be short-lived.
This is not the time for austerity. Canada entered this crisis in the best fiscal position of its peers. And the Government is using that fiscal firepower, on things like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, so that Canadians, businesses, and our entire economy have the support needed to weather the storm.
Canadians should not have to choose between health and their job, just like Canadians should not have to take on debt that their government can better shoulder.
Creating jobs
People losing their jobs is perhaps the clearest consequence of the global economic shock that Canadians – like those in other countries – have faced.
The CERB helped people stay healthy at home while being able to keep food on the table.
The CEWS helped people keep their jobs, or be rehired if they had been laid off.
But there is still more to be done.
Unemployment is in the double digits, and underemployment is high.
Women, racialized Canadians, and young people have borne the brunt of job losses.
Canadians need good jobs they can rely on.
To help make that happen, the Government will launch a campaign to create over one million jobs, restoring employment to previous levels. This will be done by using a range of tools, including direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.
One way the Government will create these jobs is by extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy right through to next summer. The Government will work with businesses and labour to ensure the program meets the needs of the health and economic situation as it evolves.
Another example of how the Government will create jobs is by significantly scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, to provide more paid work experiences next year for young Canadians.
Now, more than ever, Canadians must work together – including by eliminating remaining barriers between provinces to full, free internal trade – to get the economy back up and running and Canadians back to work.
Supporting workers and their families
With the job losses that Canadians have faced, it became clear early on that many people would need help until they could find work once again. But existing income support systems were not designed to handle this unprecedented situation. That’s why the Government moved quickly to create the Canada Emergency Response Benefit as a temporary program to help millions of Canadians get through a very difficult time.
With the economic restart now well underway, CERB recipients should instead be supported by the Employment Insurance system. For people who would not traditionally qualify for EI, the Government will create the transitional Canada Recovery Benefit.
Over the coming months, the EI system will become the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for Canadians who did not qualify for EI before the pandemic. This pandemic has shown that Canada needs an EI system for the 21st century, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.
Women in the Economy
Women – and in particular low-income women – have been hit hardest by COVID-19. This crisis has been described as a She-cession.
Many women have bravely served on the frontlines of this crisis, in our communities or by shouldering the burden of unpaid care work at home.
We must not let the legacy of the pandemic be one of rolling back the clock on women’s participation in the workforce, nor one of backtracking on the social and political gains women and allies have fought so hard to secure.
The Government will create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce and to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to this pandemic and recovery. This Plan will be guided by a task force of experts whose diverse voices will power a whole of government approach.
It has been nearly 50 years since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women outlined the necessity of child care services for women’s social and economic equality. We have long understood that Canada cannot succeed if half of the population is held back. Canadians need more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and high quality childcare.
Recognizing the urgency of this challenge, the Government will make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
The Government will build on previous investments, learn from the model that already exists in Quebec, and work with all provinces and territories to ensure that high-quality care is accessible to all.
There is broad consensus from all parts of society, including business and labour leaders, that the time is now.
The Government also remains committed to subsidizing before- and after-school program costs. With the way that this pandemic has affected parents and families, flexible care options for primary school children are more important than ever.
The Government will also accelerate the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy, which has already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.
Supporting businesses
As the Government invests in people, it will continue to support job-creating businesses.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities and the backbone of the economy. The Government introduced a range of supports for Canadian businesses, from help with payroll through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to assistance with expenses through interest-free loans.
COVID-19 has caused businesses across the country, both large and small, to rethink their approaches. Entrepreneurs and owners are looking at more digital options, more creative solutions, and more climate-friendly investments.
The Government will help businesses adapt for the future and thrive.
This fall, in addition to extending the wage subsidy, the Government will take further steps to bridge vulnerable businesses to the other side of the pandemic by:
Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;
Improving the Business Credit Availability Program;
And introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.
Fiscal sustainability
This COVID-19 emergency has had huge costs. But Canada would have had a deeper recession and a bigger long-term deficit if the Government had done less.
With interest rates so low, central banks can only do so much to help. There is a global consensus that governments must do more. Government can do so while also locking in the low cost of borrowing for decades to come. This Government will preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage and continue to be guided by values of sustainability and prudence.
There are two distinct needs.
The first is to help Canadians in the short term, to do whatever it takes, using whatever fiscal firepower is needed to support people and businesses during the pandemic. The best way to keep the economy strong is to keep Canadians healthy.
The second need is to build back better, with a sustainable approach for future generations. As the Government builds a plan for stimulus and recovery, this must be done responsibly.
In the longer term, the Government will focus on targeted investments to strengthen the middle class, build resiliency, and generate growth. The Government will also identify additional ways to tax extreme wealth inequality, including by concluding work to limit the stock option deduction for wealthy individuals at large, established corporations, and addressing corporate tax avoidance by digital giants.
Web giants are taking Canadians’ money while imposing their own priorities. Things must change, and will change. The Government will act to ensure their revenue is shared more fairly with our creators and media, and will also require them to contribute to the creation, production, and distribution of our stories, on screen, in lyrics, in music, and in writing.
This fall, the Government will release an update to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This will outline the Government’s economic and fiscal position, provide fiscal projections, and set out new measures to implement this Throne Speech.
This update will make clear that the strength of the middle class, and the wellbeing of all Canadians, remain Canada’s key measures of success.
Building back better – a resiliency agenda for the middle class
As we fight for every Canadian and defend everyone’s ability to succeed, we also need to focus on the future, and on building back better. This forms the third foundation of the Government’s approach.
Around the world, advanced economies are realizing that things should not go back to business as usual. COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities in our societies.
The Government will create a resiliency agenda for the middle class and people working hard to join it.
This will include addressing the gaps in our social systems, investing in health care, and creating jobs. It will also include fighting climate change, and maintaining a commitment to fiscal sustainability and economic growth as the foundation of a strong and vibrant society.
Addressing gaps in our social systems
Central to this is recognizing that one of the greatest tragedies of this pandemic is the lives lost in long-term care homes. Elders deserve to be safe, respected, and live in dignity.
Although long-term care falls under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, the federal government will take any action it can to support seniors while working alongside the provinces and territories.
The Government will work with Parliament on Criminal Code amendments to explicitly penalize those who neglect seniors under their care, putting them in danger.
The Government will also:
Work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best support possible;
And take additional action to help people stay in their homes longer.
The Government remains committed to increasing Old Age Security once a senior turns 75, and boosting the Canada Pension Plan survivor’s benefit.
The Government will look at further targeted measures for personal support workers, who do an essential service helping the most vulnerable in our communities. Canada must better value their work and their contributions to our society.
COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities, and highlighted long-standing challenges. The Government will bring forward a Disability Inclusion Plan, which will have:
A new Canadian Disability Benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors;
A robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities;
And a better process to determine eligibility for Government disability programs and benefits.
Over the last six months, it has become clearer than ever why Canadians need a resilient health care system.
The Government will ensure that everyone – including in rural and remote areas – has access to a family doctor or primary care team. COVID-19 has also shown that our system needs to be more flexible and able to reach people at home. The Government will continue to expand capacity to deliver virtual health care.
The Government will also continue to address the opioid epidemic tearing through communities, which is an ongoing and worsening public health crisis. Additionally, the Government will further increase access to mental health resources. All Canadians should have the care they need, when they need it. We will all be stronger for it.
The same goes for access to the medicine that keeps people healthy. Many Canadians who had drug plans through work lost this coverage when they were laid off because of the pandemic. So this is exactly the right moment to ramp up efforts to address that.
The Government remains committed to a national, universal pharmacare program and will accelerate steps to achieve this system including:
Through a rare-disease strategy to help Canadian families save money on high-cost drugs;
Establishing a national formulary to keep drug prices low;
And working with provinces and territories willing to move forward without delay.
In addition to good health infrastructure, Canadians also need strong, safe communities to call home.
The Government has banned assault-style firearms. The Government will also continue implementing firearms policy commitments, including:
Giving municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns;
And strengthening measures to control the flow of illegal guns into Canada.
Women’s safety must be the foundation on which all progress is built. The Government will accelerate investments in shelters and transition housing, and continue to advance with a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
To keep building strong communities, over the next two years the Government will also invest in all types of infrastructure, including public transit, energy efficient retrofits, clean energy, rural broadband, and affordable housing, particularly for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities.
In the last six months, many more people have worked from home, done classes from the kitchen table, shopped online, and accessed government services remotely. So it has become more important than ever that all Canadians have access to the internet.
The Government will accelerate the connectivity timelines and ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund to ensure that all Canadians, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet.
And to further link our communities together, the Government will work with partners to support regional routes for airlines. It is essential that Canadians have access to reliable and affordable regional air services. This is an issue of equity, of jobs, and of economic development. The Government will work to support this.
Strong communities are places where everyone has a safe, affordable home.
No one should be without a place to stay during a pandemic, or for that matter, a Canadian winter.
This week, the Government invested more than $1 billion for people experiencing homelessness, including for this fall.
In 2017, the Government announced that it would reduce chronic homelessness by 50 percent. The Government has already helped more than a million people get a safe and affordable place to call home. Given the progress that has been made, and our commitment to do more, the Government is now focused on entirely eliminating chronic homelessness in Canada.
At the same time, the Government will also make substantial investments in housing for Canadians.
The Government will add to the historic National Housing Strategy announced in 2017 by increasing investments to rapid housing in the short term, and partnering with not-for-profits and co-ops in the mid- to long-term. For the middle class, the Government will also move forward with enhancements to the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, including in Canada’s largest cities, so families can afford to buy their first home.
Housing is something everyone deserves, and it’s also a key driver of the economy. Construction projects create jobs, and having a home is critical so people can contribute to their communities.
Just like everyone deserves a home, everyone deserves to be able to put nutritious food on the table.
The pandemic has made that harder for Canadians. The Government will continue to work with partners – including directly with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation partners – to address food insecurity in Canada. The Government will also strengthen local food supply chains here in Canada.
The Canadian and migrant workers who produce, harvest, and process our food – from people picking fruit to packing seafood – have done an outstanding job getting good food on people’s plates. They deserve the Government’s full support and protection.
The Government will also ensure that those in Canada’s supply managed sectors receive full and fair compensation for recent trade agreements. Farmers keep our families fed, and we will continue to help them succeed and grow.
A stronger workforce
This pandemic has revealed gaps in health, housing, and food supply. And it has also laid bare inequalities Canadians face in the workforce.
We have an opportunity to not just support Canadians, but grow their potential. Working with the provinces and territories, the Government will make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. This will include by:
Supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors;
Helping workers receive education and accreditation;
And strengthening workers’ futures, by connecting them to employers and good jobs, in order to grow and strengthen the middle class.
From researchers developing vaccines, to entrepreneurs building online stores, this pandemic has reminded us of the power of the knowledge economy, and how vital it is for our future.
Canadians are leading, and they should have government services that keep up.
The Government will make generational investments in updating outdated IT systems to modernize the way that Government serves Canadians, from the elderly to the young, from people looking for work to those living with a disability. The Government will also work to introduce free, automatic tax filing for simple returns to ensure citizens receive the benefits they need.
Government must remain agile, and ready for what lies ahead.
Taking action on extreme risks from climate change
Climate action will be a cornerstone of our plan to support and create a million jobs across the country.
This is where the world is going. Global consumers and investors are demanding and rewarding climate action.
Canadians have the determination and ingenuity to rise to this challenge and global market opportunity.
We can create good jobs today and a globally competitive economy not just next year, but in 2030, 2040, and beyond.
Canadians also know climate change threatens our health, way of life, and planet. They want climate action now, and that is what the Government will continue to deliver.
The Government will immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal. The Government will also legislate Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
As part of its plan, the Government will:
Create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses;
Invest in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters, like floods and wildfires, to make communities safer and more resilient;
Help deliver more transit and active transit options;
And make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable while investing in more charging stations across the country.
A good example of adapting to a carbon-neutral future is building zero-emissions vehicles and batteries. Canada has the resources – from nickel to copper – needed for these clean technologies. This – combined with Canadian expertise – is Canada’s competitive edge.
The Government will launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half for these companies to create jobs and make Canada a world leader in clean technology. The Government will ensure Canada is the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies.
Additionally, the Government will:
Transform how we power our economy and communities by moving forward with the Clean Power Fund, including with projects like the Atlantic Loop that will connect surplus clean power to regions transitioning away from coal;
And support investments in renewable energy and next-generation clean energy and technology solutions.
Canada cannot reach net zero without the know-how of the energy sector, and the innovative ideas of all Canadians, including people in places like British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Government will:
Support manufacturing, natural resource, and energy sectors as they work to transform to meet a net zero future, creating good-paying and long-lasting jobs;
And recognize farmers, foresters, and ranchers as key partners in the fight against climate change, supporting their efforts to reduce emissions and build resilience.
The Government will continue its policy of putting a price on pollution, while putting that money back in the pockets of Canadians. It cannot be free to pollute.
This pandemic has reminded Canadians of the importance of nature. The Government will work with municipalities as part of a new commitment to expand urban parks, so that everyone has access to green space. This will be done while protecting a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of Canada’s oceans in five years, and using nature-based solutions to fight climate change, including by planting two billion trees.
The Government will ban harmful single-use plastics next year and ensure more plastic is recycled. And the Government will also modernize Canada’s Environmental Protection Act.
When the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was closed by a previous government, Canada lost an important tool to manage its waters. The Government will create a new Canada Water Agency to keep our water safe, clean, and well-managed. The Government will also identify opportunities to build more resilient water and irrigation infrastructure.
At the same time, the Government will look at continuing to grow Canada’s ocean economy to create opportunities for fishers and coastal communities, while advancing reconciliation and conservation objectives. Investing in the Blue Economy will help Canada prosper.
The Canada we’re fighting for
This is a fight for Canadians today and Canada tomorrow. So we must never forget the values that make us who we are. The fourth and final foundation of the Government’s approach is defending Canadian values and ensuring they are lived experiences for everyone.
Canada is a place where we take care of each other. This has helped Canada weather the pandemic better than many other countries.
Canada must continue to stand up for the values that define this country, whether that’s welcoming newcomers, celebrating with pride the contributions of LGBTQ2 communities, or embracing two official languages. There is work still to be done, including on the road of reconciliation, and in addressing systemic racism.
Reconciliation
Throughout the pandemic, the Government has made it a priority to support Indigenous communities, which has helped contain the spread of COVID-19 and kept people safe. That is something the Government will continue to do.
The Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and remain focused on implementing the commitments made in 2019. However, the pandemic has shown that we need to keep moving forward even faster on a number of fronts including by:
Expediting work to co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation, and a distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategy;
Accelerating work on the National Action Plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice, as well as implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action;
And continuing to close the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, working on a distinctions-basis with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation to accelerate the government’s 10-year commitment.
The Government will also:
Make additional resiliency investments to meet the clean drinking water commitment in First Nations communities;
And support additional capacity-building for First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.
The Government will move forward to introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples before the end of this year.
Addressing systemic racism
For too many Canadians, systemic racism is a lived reality. We know that racism did not take a pause during the pandemic. On the contrary, COVID-19 has hit racialized Canadians especially hard.
Many people – especially Indigenous people, and Black and racialized Canadians – have raised their voices and stood up to demand change.
They are telling us we must do more. The Government agrees.
The Government pledged to address systemic racism, and committed to do so in a way informed by the lived experiences of racialized communities and Indigenous Peoples.
The Government has invested in economic empowerment through the Black Entrepreneurship Program, while working to close the gaps in services for Indigenous communities. Important steps were taken with the release of Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy for 2019-2022, the creation of an anti-racism secretariat, and the appointment of the first-ever Minister focused specifically on diversity and inclusion. This is all good, but much more needs to be done for permanent, transformative change to take shape.
The Government will redouble its efforts by:
Taking action on online hate;
Going further on economic empowerment for specific communities, and increasing diversity on procurement;
Building a whole-of-federal-government approach around better collection of disaggregated data;
Implementing an action plan to increase representation in hiring and appointments, and leadership development within the Public Service;
And taking new steps to support the artistic and economic contributions of Black Canadian culture and heritage.
Progress must also be made throughout the policing and justice systems. All Canadians must have the confidence that the justice system is there to protect them, not to harm them. Black Canadians and Indigenous Peoples are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. That has to change.
The Government will take steps to ensure that the strong hand of criminal justice is used where it is needed to keep people safe, but not where it would be discriminatory or counterproductive.
The Government will:
Introduce legislation and make investments that take action to address the systemic inequities in all phases of the criminal justice system, from diversion to sentencing, from rehabilitation to records;
Move forward on enhanced civilian oversight of our law enforcement agencies, including the RCMP;
Modernize training for police and law enforcement, including addressing standards around the use of force;
Move forward on RCMP reforms, with a shift toward community-led policing;
And accelerate work to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service.
Protecting two official languages
Our two official languages are woven into the fabric of our country.
The defence of the rights of Francophones outside Quebec, and the defence of the rights of the Anglophone minority within Quebec, is a priority for the Government.
The Government of Canada must also recognize that the situation of French is unique. There are almost 8 million Francophones in Canada within a region of over 360 million inhabitants who are almost exclusively Anglophone. The Government therefore has the responsibility to protect and promote French not only outside of Quebec, but also within Quebec.
In this vein, 51 years after the passage of the Official Languages Act, the Government is committed to strengthening this legislation among other things, taking into consideration the unique reality of French.
A welcoming Canada
Immigration remains a driver of Canada’s economic growth.
With other countries rejecting global talent that could help their economy, Canada has an opportunity as we recover to become the world’s top destination for talent, capital, and jobs. When people choose Canada, help build Canada, and make sacrifices in support of Canada, we should make it easier for them to formally become Canadian.
Earlier this year, the Government announced measures to grant permanent residency to people who, although not Canadian citizens, had cared for the most vulnerable in long-term care homes and other medical facilities.
The Government will continue to bring in newcomers and support family reunification. We know that there is an economic and human advantage to having families together.
As part of both the short-term economic recovery and a long-term plan for growth, the Government will leverage the advantage we have on immigration to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.
Canada in the world
We must take action on all of these priorities at home. But we must also address the world in which we live.
COVID-19 has accelerated the existing trends toward a more fragmented global order. It remains in Canada’s interest to create and maintain bilateral and multilateral relationships to advance peace and economic prosperity.
The Government will invest more in international development while supporting developing countries on their economic recoveries and resilience. Canada will also support work to ensure that people around the world have access to a vaccine. We cannot eliminate this pandemic in Canada unless we end it everywhere.
The Government will also continue to stand up for human rights and the rule of law. It is unacceptable that any citizen be arbitrarily detained. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor must be brought home. This is something for which all Canadians stand united.
The Government will continue to fight for free trade, including by leading the Ottawa Group to reform the World Trade Organization.
Our likeminded allies and partners are investing to make sure their societies emerge stronger. This Government’s plan does that as well.
Conclusion
Taken together, this is an ambitious plan for an unprecedented reality. The course of events will determine what needs to be done when.
But throughout, protecting and supporting Canadians will stay the top priority.
And the core values that have driven the Government since day one remain the same.
In 2015, Canadians asked their government to deliver real change on everything from middle class jobs to climate change. In 2019, the people chose a Parliament that would keep moving forward on these shared goals. And in 2020, Canadians expect nothing less.
It is no small task to build a stronger, more resilient country.
It will take hard work. It will require a commitment to finding common ground.
Parliamentarians, Canadians have placed a trust in you to guide this country forward. They have placed their faith in you to work together to meet whatever challenges we face.
Remember that we are here today because of the generations of Canadians who came before us. We are here because of the women and men – our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents – who had the courage to reach for a better future.
Today, it is our turn. Our moment to build a stronger and more resilient Canada for everyone.
Members of the House of Commons, you will be asked to appropriate the funds to carry out the services and expenditures authorized by Parliament.
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Commons, may you be equal to the profound trust bestowed on you by Canadians, and may Divine Providence guide you in all your duties.
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