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View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to start by thanking the witnesses for providing us with a theoretical overview. It's clear from their thorough explanations just how passionate they are about the subject.
My question is for Mr. Bratt.
Mr. Bratt, you said in your statement that addressing the COVID-19 pandemic was a valid reason for the government to prorogue Parliament, but then you quickly went on to say what you felt was the reason the government chose to prorogue Parliament.
Can you explain why you think the government had a valid reason to prorogue Parliament in the midst of a pandemic?
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
You also said that it would have been better to prorogue Parliament in March, when we learned about the pandemic. Instead, the government prorogued in August. How would you have the government conduct a thorough analysis of the data collected between March and August, and all of the cases in the community? We knew at that point that there would be a second wave. The country was heading towards a $300-billion-plus deficit. It was time to step back and take stock of the situation.
Why was it more important to prorogue in March than in August, when the government didn't have any data or evidence at that point? In August, we were truly facing an emergency. People were tired and fed up. They wanted to be done with the pandemic.
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
My next question is for both witnesses.
Both of you said that prorogation was controversial. In the country's history, has there ever been a prorogation that did not arouse controversy among the opposition parties?
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
You also said that the government could have done better, that all governments could have done better in every situation. Stephen Harper, who sought two prorogations, could have handled the situation better. The same is true of Jean Chrétien. One way to do better, you said, was to prorogue for a short period of time. You underscored that point.
Do you recall how long the two prorogations sought by the Harper government lasted?
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
I was just getting to that.
View Stéphane Lauzon Profile
Lib. (QC)
It's one thing to compare the number of months, but it's another to compare circumstances when a prorogation occurs in the summer and Parliament returns at more or less the same time it would have. That makes a difference. It's wrong to claim that Parliament would have been hard at work during those six weeks.
You look at procedural issues from a highly theoretical standpoint, examining the differences between a prorogation, a throne speech and an economic statement. We are out there on the ground, however. We have our finger on the pulse of our communities, and it is our job to manage the situation and respond when seniors are in trouble, for example. Have you ever had occasion to do that?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Bratt and Mr. Taillon. Your comments have been very informative. I have countless questions for you, but I'll try to keep them as clear and simple as possible.
Mr. Bratt, you emphasized that prorogation is an opportunity for the government to wipe the slate clean, to reset the agenda. You also said that, after you heard the throne speech, it was clear to you that it did not signal a significant change in direction. Rather, you saw it as more of the same. You listened to the Prime Minister deliver his address to the nation that evening; he told us all to cough into our elbows and to download the contact-tracing app. There was no new information there. You cast considerable doubt on the idea that the government wiped the slate clean to reset its agenda. Nevertheless, let's assume that's what the government meant to do.
Mr. Taillon, you said shutting down Parliament was like taking away the executive branch's toolbox. Given the crisis we were facing, the government denied us access to legislation that could have helped people cope with the circumstances.
Mr. Lauzon said that we weren't exactly working hard during the summer, but I would remind him that four committees were meeting and the House was sitting regularly. Back in March, the opposition parties began working together in a very co-operative way, agreeing to sit as often as possible in order to find solutions to address the pandemic. As the House leader of the Bloc Québécois, I lived it. I had many discussions with the government House Leader to try to come up with effective measures in the face of the extraordinary difficulty of navigating the crisis.
Parliament lost six weeks that it could have been working. If the government had wanted to reset the parliamentary agenda and not take crucial time away from the executive and legislative branches—time they could have been working together—the government would have prorogued Parliament on September 18, the Friday before it was scheduled to come back. On Tuesday, Mr. Booth and Mr. Sutherland told us that that was something the government could have done—and it would have had it been putting the interests of Canadians and Quebeckers ahead of the interests of the Liberal Party. The government, however, had other interests in mind, not those of Quebeckers or Canadians.
On August 17, Mr. Morneau, the government's second in command, resigned during the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. My question is straightforward. Would you say the prorogation of Parliament on August 18 was a move to save the skin of the guy at the top, the Prime Minister?
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
I want to underscore something: Mr. Morneau resigned on August 17 and Parliament was prorogued on August 18. Clearly, the decision wasn't motivated by the health or economic crisis. The purpose was simply to protect the Prime Minister's interests. Given what you've both told us, I am more convinced than ever.
I have a comment. As the House leader of the Bloc Québécois, I have been in regular contact with the government House Leader and the leaders of the other parties since March. All spring and summer long, we kept in contact to make the government's measures better, to build the plane as we were flying it, as Mr. Taillon put it. We set aside our political views and historical differences to work together so we could make people's lives better. Unfortunately, that's not what the Liberal Party did on August 18. It's shameful, if you ask me.
Now I'd like to revisit Mr. Trudeau's address the day the House returned.
View Alain Therrien Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
It's quite clear that the prorogation sought by the government was politically motivated and tied to the WE Charity situation.
Mr. Turnbull, the honourable Liberal member, tried to tell us that the two throne speeches were different. Other than the part that involves interfering in an area of provincial jurisdiction—which all the provinces and Quebec came out against—I don't really see anything new.
I'd like to hear the views of the two witnesses, since they are both experts on the issue before us, but I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth.
Were there any significant differences in the new throne speech that would lead us to believe the government had a valid reason to prorogue Parliament? Is it clear from the throne speech that the government reset its agenda?
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I am pleased that you are participating in this committee. I find it very important, given the crisis and insecurity we are experiencing, especially in terms of food.
I represent the constituency of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou in Northern Quebec. The communities I represent are Cree and Anishnaabe.
My question is for the three witnesses here today.
How do you describe the factors that contribute to food insecurity and its consequences in each of your regions?
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Let me repeat my question.
What factors contribute to food insecurity and what consequences does it have in each of your regions?
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
What recommendations would you like to see in the final report of our study on food security?
View Sylvie Bérubé Profile
BQ (QC)
A point of order, Mr. Chair. We have no interpretation.
View Sherry Romanado Profile
Lib. (QC)
Good morning, everyone. I now call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 18 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.
Today's meeting is taking place in hybrid format, pursuant to the House Order of January 25, 2021. The proceedings will be made available via the House of Commons website. The webcast will only show the person speaking rather than the entirety of the committee.
To ensure an orderly meeting, I would like to outline a few rules to follow.
Members and witnesses may speak in the official language of their choice. Interpretation services are available for this meeting. You have the choice, at the bottom of your screen, of either floor, English or French.
For members participating in person, proceed as you usually would when the whole committee is meeting in person in a committee room. Keep in mind the directives from the Board of Internal Economy regarding masking and health protocols.
Before speaking, please wait until I recognize you by name. If you are on the video conference, please click on the microphone icon to unmute yourself. For those in the room, your microphone will be controlled as normal by the proceedings and verification officer.
As a reminder, all comments by members and witnesses should be addressed through the chair. When you are not speaking, your mike should be on mute.
With regard to the speaking list, the committee clerk and I will do our best to maintain the order of speaking for all members, whether they are participating virtually or in person.
As is my normal practice, I will wave the yellow card when you have 30 seconds remaining in your intervention, and I will hold up a red card when your time is up. I ask all members and witnesses to be mindful of the cards and to respect your time limit to allow all members to participate.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the committee on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, the committee is meeting today to continue its study on the domestic manufacturing capacity for a COVID-19 vaccine.
I would like to now welcome our witnesses.
From the COVID-19 vaccine task force, with us today, we have Joanne Langley, co-chair; Mark Lievonen, co-chair; and Roger Scott-Douglas, secretary.
The panel will have up to seven minutes to present, followed by rounds of questions.
With that, I will turn the floor over to the vaccine task force members for their presentation.
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