Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:40 [p.16628]
Madam Speaker, with all due respect, I really do not see the logic in the question. Everybody in Canada has the right to unionize. It is part of Canadian law. If they want to create a union, they should go for it. If they want to create a political party, they should go for it. If they want to do something in Canada, all they need is courage, energy, and take action.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-06 16:50 [p.15024]
Mr. Speaker, one of the key promises the Liberals made in 2015, before they were in government, was to invest $120 billion in infrastructure. The Conservative Party supported the idea from the get-go; indeed, it ran the largest infrastructure program in Canada when Mr. Lebel headed the infrastructure department. This program had planned investments totalling $80 billion, which was unprecedented in Canada.
That said, what I find interesting is that, today, two years after the election, very rarely do we hear about a specific project benefiting from the $120 billion that have supposedly been invested since 2015.
I wonder if my colleague is able to name a single project in a single province that has benefited from this $120-billion investment in infrastructure.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-06 17:02 [p.15026]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell attacked us a bit in his speech when he said that the Conservatives had forgotten the municipalities. That is a bit rich because when we were in government, following the recession, we set in motion the economic recovery plan that allowed every municipality in Canada to benefit from an $85-billion infrastructure plan that did not include a portion for social housing. It was entirely for municipal infrastructure such as bridges and waterworks.
By the end of that economic recovery, we had the highest job creation rate in the G7 with 1.2 million jobs created. How does the hon. member explain his government's decision for the past two years and especially in the past few weeks to do away with the regional development minister position for good?
How does that reflect any respect for the municipalities in Canada's rural regions?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-06 17:07 [p.15027]
Mr. Speaker, hon. colleagues, dear Canadians who are watching us, I just want to say, “wow”. One hundred and fifty years ago, on November 6, 1867, the first Canadian parliamentarians from Upper Canada and Lower Canada, as well as the colonies of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, gathered here in a federal Parliament for the first time. It was surely to have a debate, but I imagine that first day must have been rather solemn. I do not know if they started any work that first day. I imagine they wanted to get started right away on working hard to build a federation from coast to coast. It must have been extraordinary to take part in achieving that dream.
I wanted to take a minute or two to say that I agree with what my leader said about his vision of the country, and his take on the parliamentary system and the role of parliamentarians. I was impressed by his speech.
Certainly, I want to thank the Prime Minister for taking the time to deliver a speech on this solemn day. I also found it extraordinary that four former prime ministers were here today. I appreciated the speech of the House leader of the New Democratic Party and that of the Bloc Québécois member who took the time to say a few words despite his opposition to our great federation.
I am more mature now as I begin my third year as MP than I was at the very beginning. There are three things I consider important and that I would like to bring back to the Canadian political agenda. If I come to Ottawa every week, it is not to talk about rights but about duty. It is not to talk about about pride, but about honour. More importantly, it is not to talk about entitlements but about each individual's responsibility and their role in community development.
Guided by these three beacons that shape my approach to parliamentarism and Canadian politics, I come here each week in an attempt to improve things in this country, even only a little bit.
I would like nothing more than to be able to speak at length in this House about the Constitution of Canada, the role of the provinces in our constitutional order and the dialogue that Philippe Couillard would like to open about Quebec's place in Canada.
I would like to talk about our founding peoples, linguistic rights, creating new provinces to pursue Canada's territorial and economic expansion, as well as international relations and Canada's role in the 21st century in light of all the world's emerging powers on all continents who are challenging us in ever more extreme ways. I would also like us to discuss our vision of federalism for the hundred years to come.
However, I cannot talk about that today, as the government is busy introducing a bill to confirm and put in place the budgetary measures which were announced in March, as is the custom in this great Parliament.
We returned to the House two months ago, but we have not touched on the constitutional debates and the international relations debates I talked about, debates I would really like us to have here. This all started in July, when the government put forward its tax reforms, which amounted to tax hikes for small and medium-sized businesses. It really botched those reforms. Just two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance presented his economic update. He tried to convince us that his tax reforms are working well and that he merely adjusted a few elements of it in response to what he heard from Canadians.
Simply put, the tax reform is a thing of the past. It is moot. The government backtracked thanks to some very good work by the official opposition of Canada and our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. Every sitting day from September to November, our leader proved to Canadians that the tax reform benefited the rich, those who want to avoid paying taxes, and, it bears mentioning, even the Minister of Finance, as we all know. The whole thing is absolutely unbelievable.
The reform benefits the rich rather than ordinary Canadians—the workers, the mechanics, the labourers, the farmers. The Liberal economic update is merely a repeat of the same measures and broken promises we have seen from the beginning of their mandate in 2015. The only thing that is new is that they are going to lower the overall tax rate for small and medium-sized business.
Once again, that was nothing really new, since the Liberals had announced it during the campaign. They first decided not to keep that promise, but faced with the political uproar created by their ethical scandal, they thought they might present a gift to shift the media's focus. It did not work.
Then, at the end of September, the scandal linked to the finance minister himself, personally, was uncovered. This is not a debate about whether this is a good policy, nor is it a debate on the tax measures he wants to bring in. Indeed, thanks to research done by our party and by some investigative journalists, it became clear that the Minister of Finance was in a total conflict of interest, both personally and with respect to his significant financial assets. He made his fortune by working very hard, good for him.
According to the Liberal members, Morneau Shepell, and the government, everyone believed that the Minister of Finance had taken his fortune, including the $20 million he owned in Morneau Shepell shares, and placed it in a blind trust back in 2015. That was not the case. For the past month, I have been expecting him to stand up in the House and make a formal apology. In the end, he made a donation to charity, which is nice, but he has yet to apologize to Canadians.
We have been talking about this issue for a month and a half. There was also the property in France, which he hid from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, as well as Bill C-27, which directly benefits his family business, Morneau Shepell. The proof is right in front of us: the Minister of Finance is in a direct conflict of interest. He has yet to apologize to Canadians.
Yesterday, it emerged that the Liberal Party of Canada's own chief fundraiser is implicated in tax avoidance schemes involving tropical tax havens south of here. The news has made this government even more of a laughingstock.
Today, on this 150th anniversary of the first parliamentary sitting of November 6, 1867, four former prime ministers, unfortunately, had to witness a question period that I found to be shameful and that did not focus on the issues that we should be discussing. As I said, we should be discussing the Canadian federation, the coming century, and how to always strive to make Canada the best country in the world.
Instead, we are talking about this government's hypocrisy. We are talking about the things it does that create conflicts of interest. In short, we are talking about its real intentions, which are to help interest groups, not Canadians. These interest groups, whatever their cause, may be chartist groups that go through the Supreme Court to impose new policies on our country rather than coming and fighting in the House, economic interest groups, like the finance minister and his Bill C-27, or groups that fight for the government's own party. What is worse, the Liberals are shamelessly claiming that theirs is a feminist budget. I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life. Well, perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration, but even so. This should not be a feminist budget. It should be a Canadian budget for all Canadians.
Since when does a government have the nerve to rise in the House and claim that a budget has been put in place for a particular group, to cater to a certain ideology or stripe, or individual interests? How does this government have the nerve to talk about a feminist budget? What would happen if it was a masculinist budget? It is completely ridiculous.
What have the Liberals done in the past two years? They have eliminated tax credit after tax credit, to the point where, according the Fraser Institute, a typical Canadian family with two children is now paying $840 more in taxes a year.
It is unprecedented in Canada for a government to run a deficit that is double what was promised with no plan to balance the budget. That is the Liberal government.
Rather than celebrating the Constitution on this 150th anniversary, we are celebrating the Liberals' hypocrisy.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-06 17:19 [p.15028]
Mr. Speaker, with all due humility, from day one, and we have seen it more than ever in the last three months, the government has been focused on enhancing the privilege of the Liberal elite. It has focused on enhancing the privilege of the Liberal bagmen. It is trying to work for interest groups. That is why the budget is called the feminist budget, when it should be called the Canadian budget.
On the contrary, from 2006 to 2015, our focus was to govern the country in all aspects, not just for one class but for all Canadians. That is why we would never have called it a feminist budget and only talked about the middle class. We were always talking about Canadians. Every day our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, stands in the House of Commons and talks about the mechanics, the farmers, the tractor repairmen, the person who does haircuts, the pizza man, those who work on the ground, the people who send taxes every day to the government, to the House of Commons, so we can govern the country. The focus should be to govern the country.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-06 17:22 [p.15029]
Mr. Speaker, I also have read that we have no assurance there will be any return for the people in Canada on the money we invest in Asian Infrastructure Bank. It is like a blind trust in the Chinese financial world. It is probably to get a deal on free commerce with China, which I kind of understand, but the Liberals should try to have better tactics to come to that end.
It is distraction after distraction. Two weeks ago, when we spoke about the finance minister, they came out with Bill C-24 to change the titles from ministers of state to ministers. It is complete nonsense. It has been like that for two years.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-03 13:51 [p.14965]
Mr. Speaker, I must say that my Conservative colleague, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga, and my NDP colleague both gave excellent speeches. I was quite impressed by her reference to Mr. Diefenbaker, a great Canadian who hailed from her province. I myself was planning to bring him up today. I will still do so with pleasure, although my take will be slightly different.
The Conservative Party opposes Bill C-325, the act to amend the Canadian Bill of Rights to include the right to housing, which was introduced by the member for North Island—Powell River. I could say it is because the phrase “at a reasonable cost and free of unreasonable barriers” in the preamble is vague. I could say that the bill fails to consider price differences in housing markets. I could also say that section 92 of the Constitution considers housing to be a provincial matter, whereas the Canadian Bill of Rights, which was set in motion by Mr. Diefenbaker, applies only to matters of federal jurisdiction.
However, I am not going to use this perspective in my speech today in opposition to this bill. Instead, I would like to talk about the philosophical ideas underlying the bill introduced by the member for North Island—Powell River. I will use these underlying ideas to build my argument against this bill.
I would like to start by saying that, in my humble opinion, both Canada's intellectual left, which includes Marxist theorists at the Osgoode Hall Law School or at the University of British Columbia, and the intellectual right, meaning the Calgary School, would disagree with introducing this right into the Canadian Bill of Rights.
That said, hats off to the member for North Island—Powell River for proposing an amendment to the Canadian Bill of Rights instead of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This makes me very proud, since it means that the member subscribes to the British tradition of liberal constitutionalism, in other words, the Westminster tradition of liberal constitutionalism, instead of subscribing to the American tradition of liberal constitutionalism. It is a small distinction, but that small distinction makes a big difference over many centuries. I will explain why.
Under the Westminster-type British model of liberal constitutionalism, the legislative branch is the ultimate authority and has the last word on constitutional matters. That is why Mr. Diefenbaker, a great Canadian if ever there was one, would never, not in a million years, have enshrined the Canadian Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Doing so would make the judiciary, or the judicial branch, the ultimate authority.
The member for North Island—Powell River has a great deal of respect for our Canadian political culture based on the Westminster tradition of liberal constitutionalism, a culture that, sadly, was stifled, if not snuffed out, by a cultural revolution led by that party over there and Pierre Elliot Trudeau in 1982. They brought us closer to an American-style liberal constitutionalism, under which the judiciary gets the final word. We have the notwithstanding clause, sure, but regrettably, no prime minister has dared to invoke it.
Today's debate is historic. I believe this issue goes well beyond that of housing. The debate over how to strike a balance between individual and collective rights started in the age of enlightenment. Even in Canada, this debate has been going on since 1867. Since 1982, or for the last 35 years, Canadian intellectuals have engaged in a mighty fine debate.
John Locke, father of modern liberalism and individualism, believed that individual liberty predated the notion of statehood, and thus the establishment of any constitution or system of positive law. He therefore believed in natural law, and so, to his mind, all political systems based on this idea would place the individual at the heart of the constitutional state.
This is all fundamental to the debate we are having here today on housing, because John Locke would have said that the right to housing does not constitute an individual right, which forms the basis of natural law and therefore supercedes positive law.
A similar debate, although somewhat wider in scope, has been going on in Canada since the Charter was enshrined in 1982 in the midst of what I would characterize as a disgraceful cultural revolution. Progressive authors such as Mandel, Petter, Hutchinson, McWhinney, Hirschl, Mackay, and Lebel-Grenier are the standard-bearers of left-leaning, Marxist intellectual thought in academic circles. Then, there are the so-called conservative thinkers, the fathers of Canadian toryism: Banfield, Morton, Patenaude, Knopff and Martin.
Although they belong to radically different schools of thought, all of these thinkers would agree that enshrining rights or bringing in new rights is no way to address the housing situation in Canada.
My reasoning may seem circuitous but I am nearing my point. These people would have said that access to housing, food, and education is to be secured through political struggle. They would have said, for instance, that homosexuals acquired their rights through political struggle, and not by way of the Supreme Court of Canada or enshrined rights. They would have said that it is in the political arena that women fought to acquire their rights. In this case, the fight was waged by the suffragettes in the early 20th century, not by the Supreme Court of Canada. That is what they would have said.
Everything rests in that interplay between negative and positive rights. That is where we can distinguish between these two schools of thought, between Marxist and conservative thinkers.
I am circling back to what the member said. In the NDP, the hope is that we will be able to incorporate some positive rights into Canadian law. In other words, we would be looking to make concessions, a truly rare occurrence under the Canadian Constitution. That is what happened in the case of language rights granted to French-speaking Canada. That might be the only case of a positive right under our Constitution.
Conservative thought typically associated with classical liberalism would lean toward the idea that we have negative rights, or in other words, that our freedom stops where that of others begins. Canadian law is a pyramid that rests wholly upon the fundamental goal of ensuring that other people's rights are not infringed upon. There is no such thing as a positive right. This is a healthy debate.
My colleague stated that she believed to be waging a political fight. Perhaps she ought to fight to control prices or the housing market. Perhaps the fight ought to be taken to the provinces over their traditional areas of jurisdiction. Being here in the federal Parliament, seeking to incorporate new rights that will amount to nothing more than a bunch of letters on a piece of paper, does not constitute a political fight.
There were some important and well thought out observations around Diefenbaker, but my reading of the man is that he would not have gone so far as to incorporate this right into the Canadian Bill of Rights.
I disagree with both extremes, which are the Marxist thinkers of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto on one end of the spectrum, and on the other, those of the Calgary School, who believe in property rights above all else, where others believe in the right to housing. Both of these extremes are dead wrong, because in both cases, the result would be to paralyze the state. The power of the state is essential in Canada if we are to enforce our sovereignty first and foremost, namely in the military, economic and political spheres.
Enshrining property rights in the Constitution would prevent the government from running power transmission lines, for instance, or from carrying out large scale projects. Enshrining the right to housing in the Constitution would likewise paralyze the state, as it would have to supply housing to every Canadian, which is totally unrealistic, economically speaking.
Let us remain on the right track, the one we were on prior to 1982, and let us stick to the Westminster model.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-25 16:50 [p.13480]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today, so that I may contribute to the debate on Bill C-58.
Throughout the day today, I have heard my colleagues say over and over again that this is just one more broken promise from this government. Well, unfortunately, I have to say that I agree with them, because this bill does indeed represent yet another broken Liberal promise.
One could also say that this bill reflects Canadians' interests in decisions made by their elected representatives and government decision-makers, and that is only natural. Access to information arrived quite late in Canada, in the 1980s. If my memory serves correctly, the first country that granted access to information was Norway, at the end of the 19th century. We did so nearly a century later.
Access to information is very important in terms of the obligation of a country's elected officials and decision-makers to be accountable. It allows Canadians to keep an eye on what is happening with respect to decision-making between elections so they can gain a better understanding of what is going on in their country. Furthermore, as several people have suggested here today, this is a very sensitive issue, because we need to find the right balance in such a bill, which seeks to amend the Access to Information Act.
I was in the army for a few years, and so I know how crucial information is. Having the necessary information is essential to reaching military objectives. In every sector, information is one of the keys to success. For 35 years, the Access to Information Act has obviously been very important, as it has increased accountability and allowed Canadians to better understand what is happening in their country. They can also know what businesses, elected officials, public servants and employees of democratic institutions are doing, because political staffers are also subject to that act.
It is also important to the media, who have to scrutinize and analyze every political decision and news story. That political scrutiny by the media and journalists helps Canadians understand how, why and in what context decisions are made. Access to information is vital for the journalists who keep Canadians informed.
The Liberals are claiming that Bill C-58 seeks to better inform Canadians regarding the decision-making process in order to maintain their confidence in their policy-makers and democratic institutions. That is my understanding, at least.
I really liked what the member for Trois-Rivières said about this bill. It truly is yet another patent example showing how image is everything to this government. This is something that has been obvious to me for the past two years. It used to surprise me every time, but not anymore. I am very disappointed that this government's bills, actions, speeches, photos, in short, everything it does is always aimed at managing its image.
The Conservatives were often accused of having communication and image problems, but at least we were brave, we made decisions, we put everything on the table and explained ourselves. The Liberals are so obsessed with maintaining a positive image that to avoid admitting to Canadians that they are breaking one of their own promises, they would rather table a watered-down bill that is nothing more than window dressing. It is designed to make you think the Liberals are making good on their promises, but if you read between the lines, you will realize they are doing the exact opposite.
I mentioned the example of the Canada Elections Act. The Prime Minister's practice of “cash-for-access” fundraising was uncovered thanks to the work of our official opposition. A few months later, instead of doing the honourable thing and pledging to put an end this undemocratic practice, the Liberals legalized cash for access by introducing a bill that, again, is very watered down. It seems to increase accountability and transparency around fundraising, but what it actually does is legalize the cash-for-access scheme.
This bill was introduced in June, and it would amend access to information, which was first brought in back in 1983. Now, 35 years later, the Liberals want to improve and enhance it, and they want to make some changes related to new technology. These days, access to information depends heavily on the digital tools we use every day. Here on Parliament Hill, in MPs' offices, ministers' offices, and the PMO, all politicians and all of our staff have telephones that they use to exchange information on important issues and make decisions. We can see how those decisions evolve via text and email messages between the PMO and ministerial offices.
In 2015, the Liberals made some key promises, and one of those promises was to make the PMO and ministerial offices more open by default. As it turns out, those offices will be exempt from the proposed amendments in Bill C-58, which is unbelievable, because their promise is right there on page 24 of the Liberal platform. The Liberals said it was important to facilitate access to information, and that applied to the PMO and ministers' offices too.
That being said, it was important for the Liberals to put these ideas forward during the election campaign in order to please certain groups who believe that it is important to have access to all information.
The Conservatives formed a responsible government and today we remain a responsible political party. Today, we heard a number of official opposition members say that we need to be careful about who has access to information from the Prime Minister's Office and the ministers' offices simply because a delicate balance must be maintained when giving the public access to information about the executive branch's decision-making.
In Canada, we want above all to maintain an environment and conditions that are conducive to productive, vigorous, and heated debate, after which a decision can ultimately be made.
Debates in the House of Commons are open, transparent, and fully accessible to the public, because we do not make the final decision here. What is more, we are opposing parties, so the public expects us to squabble and debate. However, within the ministers' offices, there is a solidarity between ministers, even if they have differing points of view because they come from different regions and represent citizens with diverse interests. There may be acrimony regarding very important debates. The ministers will have very spirited debates among themselves, but when they come out of that ministers' meeting, they must all be prepared to uphold the group decision. Such decisions may pertain to Canada's internal or external affairs, but regardless of the reason for or the type of decision taken on an issue, it may require confidentiality.
We believe that at that level it is important to maintain some confidentiality in order to conduct government business properly. That is probably exactly what Canadian officials shared with the Liberal government. That is likely why this government waited so long to introduce the bill. I imagine that after the election, they wanted to move forward with opening access to information by default, but they were advised to the contrary.
Again, I think it is regrettable that the Liberals would have us believe that this is the case, that access is open by default, and they would have us believe that they are making information more accessible to the public when that is not necessarily entirely accurate.
By acting this way, as they do on a number of files, and breaking promises, they only fuel public cynicism, unfortunately. That is something we should all want to avoid, especially when we form the government.
That is why I go door to door when I am in my riding. Throughout the last election campaign, when I would go to seniors' homes, people kept telling me, and I respect this point of view, that I was only there because of the election campaign.
I told them I was honoured to be there, to meet them, and to listen to them, and that I would keep doing that once elected to prove that I meant what I said.
There are some positive things in this bill. The government promised to do more. For example, we all received the mandate letters shortly after the ministers were appointed. I recently read the Minister of Heritage's mandate letter because of my new role as the official opposition heritage critic. I think we can all agree that these mandate letters are quite broad. In fact, the first two pages are the same for every minister.
We can have briefings with the ministers, where we get information that is accessible under access to information. That remains in place, which is good.
However, access to information on more sensitive files will always be granted at the pleasure of the Liberals. Anything that has to do with enhancing access to information is based on a single word: proactive. Ministers, senior government officials, and the Prime Minister's Office will have to decide whether they will respond to a given request for information as they come in.
A number of journalists and a group that works to enhance transparency in democracy have spoken out about the Liberals' broken promise to extend access to information to the Prime Minister's Office and ministers' offices.
I would like to share some of their comments with the House, because it is interesting and very telling to hear what these journalists and stakeholders think.
Katie Gibbs from Evidence for Democracy has said that by ruling out the possibility to obtain information from ministers' offices and the Prime Minister's Office, the government is breaking its campaign promise to establish a government open by default. This is coming from an external source; these are not our words. She added that the possibility to refuse access to information requests on an undefined basis jeopardizes the transparency and the openness of the government.
I had the opportunity to meet Duff Conacher, co-founder of Democracy Watch, on many occasions during the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates' study on protecting whistle-blowers in the public service. He is extremely knowledgeable on the subject.
Mr. Conacher said that this bill brings some positive changes to the act by making disclosure more proactive and by giving the Information Commissioner the power to order the release of information. However, according to him, the bill does nothing to address the enormous gaps in the Access to Information Act, as the Liberals promised. He believes that more changes will be needed to have a government that is open and transparent by default. The bill even takes a step backwards by allowing government officials to deny access to information requests if they think the request is frivolous or made in bad faith; this leaves the government considerable discretion. He believes that public officials should not be given this power, and I agree with him, as they will likely use it as a new loophole to deny the public information it has a right to know.
Mr. Conacher is very well known in Canada and around the world. He participated in numerous analyses and reviews of whistleblower protection acts around the world.
No whistle-blower protection in the world can be properly enforced unless it is supported by a strong access to information act.
What he wants us to understand is that despite the argument they are putting forward, the members of this government have not improved this pillar of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and the Access to Information Act.
Stéphane Giroux, president of the Quebec federation of professional journalists, said that journalists were most excited about the prospect of getting access to ministerial records, but it was a false alarm. It was just too good to be true.
The groups that want to change the voting system in Canada would say the same about electoral reform. Small and medium-sized businesses would say the same as well, since they believed this government when it said it would reduce their basic tax rate to 9%. That is another broken promise, because the government is actually raising the tax on passive investment income to 73% for SMEs.
I would also like to share a few comments made by journalists. Mr. Maher of iPolitics titled his article “Liberals shockingly timid on access-to-information reform”.
This journalist is quite specific. On the second page, one of the first paragraphs, he mentioned the election platform of the Liberal Party, in which it stated in black and white that it was intending to open by default, access to information to the Prime Minister's Office and cabinet ministers' offices. He stated, “if you look closely at the changes proposed to access legislation, you can’t conclude that it matches his rhetoric.” He is talking about the rhetoric from the Liberal benches.
The next paragraph states:
The proactive disclosure of some ministerial documents may be a step backward, because the decisions about what to release and what to redact will not be reviewable by the information commissioner.
“For the ministries, there’s no one to review what they choose not to disclose, and I think that goes against the principle of the statute,”...
He was quoting from Robert Marleau, who was Information Commissioner from 2007 to 2009. This is quite powerful. These are big people supporting the opinion of the official opposition.
Another journalist, Carl Meyer, wrote an article entitled “Trudeau Liberals place restrictions on plan to end government secrecy”.
I will end with this. It is quite obvious, from advocacy groups, journalists, and our own evaluation of the bill, that the government is again breaking its promise and not doing what it said it would do. This bill does not at all reflect advancing or increasing access to information in Canada.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-25 17:12 [p.13483]
Mr. Speaker, in 2007, we created the parliamentary budget office, which has the duty to inform Canadians and all members in this House on what is going on with the budgetary estimates and the supplementary estimates, and all the expenses and increases in the expenses. This was the first amazing step in accountability in Canada, and I am very proud of it.
As well, on December 4, 2014, Madame Legault, Information Commissioner of said, “Over the years, I have also made recommendations to the President of the Treasury Board on various ways to advance accountability and transparency. I am very pleased that most of these recommendations over the years have been implemented by the government.”
I must inform this House that in 2014, the government was Conservative.
To conclude my answer for the hon. member, this bill originated in a bill presented here a few years ago by the member for Papineau. The member for Papineau promised during the election—he was an important figure at that time and is still today—that he would increase the accountability of the Prime Minister's Office and the ministerial staff and offices in the Access to Information Act
The blunt truth today is that those promises were broken. That is what we are seeing today, and that is what Canadians must see and acknowledge. It is broken promise after broken promise, and that is the record of the current government.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-25 17:15 [p.13483]
Mr. Speaker, to be quite honest, I did not have time to do such a proactive analysis to determine whether there are any similarities between the comprehensive recommendations made by the Information Commissioner and what actually appears in the bill. I relied on serious journalistic sources and certain analyses of the bill.
What matters, however, is making sure Canadians understand that this government is obsessed with its image. Two years from now, I hope we will be in power. I think some progress has been made, as an article yesterday mentioned that, according to the latest polls, the Conservatives are ahead. I think Canadians are becoming increasingly aware of just how obsessed this government is with image and how little political courage it has. It likes to go on and on about virtue and universal love.
This government keeps saying that it is in favour of transparency and better access to information, but it is incapable of telling us the truth, namely, that it now realizes that it does not make sense to release internal cabinet deliberations to the public, because it would cause problems and could even hurt our democracy. We do need to have certain places where we can deliberate in confidence. The Liberals cannot even admit that they now realize that. They simply want to reassure their voters by telling them that they brought this legislation forward in order to fulfill a 2015 election promise. Once again, the main promises in their 2015 election platform having to do with the Access to Information Act do not appear anywhere in the bill. It is unfortunate.
I am getting pretty sick and tired of seeing the same thing every day from this government. Every time we debate a bill, it is nothing but smoke and mirrors.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-25 17:18 [p.13484]
Mr. Speaker, while I was out canvassing this summer, what I heard most often from people was how disheartened they were that the government was going ahead with the legalization of marijuana. Some are opposed to it on moral or political grounds, while others think that there should be more important matters for the House of Commons to discuss than legalizing a drug. There are other things for the government to work on—foreign affairs, for example, like the conflict in North Korea, the situation in Ukraine, or humanitarian crises in Africa.
People also told me that they were growing more and more embarrassed by the Prime Minister prancing around in Canada and abroad in perpetual election mode, taking selfies and trying to please everybody while showing so little political courage, as I mentioned earlier.
I think the next few years will be favourable to us, because Canadians see clearly what is unfolding in front of them. When I go knocking on doors, I can absolutely feel it.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-20 15:37 [p.13283]
Madam Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. I worked with him on a committee and I know him well. We are approving the bill at this stage so that it can be sent to committee. We still have some questions, which I will talk about more during my speech.
Does my colleague not think that this bill gives the Minister of Transport a little too much discretionary power?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-20 15:42 [p.13283]
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned, I will be sharing more of my thoughts on this somewhat mechanical bill. I prefer political philosophy, but as a member of Parliament, I am required to discuss all kinds of topics. I am learning every day, and I am truly happy to have this opportunity.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Mégantic—L'Érable, a beautiful riding that I have visited twice before. The last time was two years ago, and I saw that there had been a lot of construction in Lac-Mégantic. The town is getting back on its feet, and that is a good thing.
I would like to add my voice to the debate on Bill S-2 today. This bill was introduced in the Senate and it would amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to give the Minister of Transport the power to issue recalls and to force companies to fix defective vehicles at no cost to consumers. I quite like the idea of no cost to consumers. We are all consumers. Our constituents are consumers. This is good news for them.
I remind members that it was the Conservatives who essentially introduced this bill in 2015. However, it was not passed before the election period started in the middle of the summer. The election period lasted a long 78 days, as we all remember.
This bill gives the Minister of Transport the power to fine companies, up to $200,000 a day, based on the violation. The bill also gives the Minister of Transport the power to order a manufacturer to conduct specific tests on its products, to ensure that it complies with the act. Furthermore, the bill allows the minister to make exemptions to the regulations, if the exemption would, in the opinion of the minister, promote the development of a safety feature connected to a new technology. This bill also increases the number of notices that companies must issue to consumers once a recall process has been initiated.
I have a few comments to make. This bill is important, but one thing I need to point out, and we all need to remember, is that there has never been a major case of a company failing to voluntarily issue a recall after discovering a defect, or failing to pay for the necessary repairs.
In light of that fact, the justification for urgently pushing this bill through seems weak. Back when we first tabled this bill, we made sure that the consumer would not lose out, and we strengthened protections for drivers and the general public. What we did not do was draw up a set of provisions that would give the minister far too much power and make things difficult for businesses.
As I said, we support this bill in principle, and we want it to go to committee so that amendments can be made.
As a resident of Beauport—Limoilou, I care deeply about road safety. I myself have two young children, a three-year-old and a six-year-old, who both ride in car seats. When I watch the news on TV, I always see far too many car crashes, especially in summer. Car accidents can be caused by fatigue, stress, uncontrollable events, drugs, and alcohol. Unfortunately, there are all kinds of reasons accidents happen.
The government has to do its part by taking all possible steps to make sure no accidents happen because of manufacturing defects. It is important to realize that this kind of accident is preventable.
As I said earlier, as a father myself, every time I get in a car with my children, this worry is in the back of my mind, because car crashes are one of the leading causes of death in western countries and indeed around the world.
I would like to relay an example involving my family that I experienced up close. I was involved in three accidents with my parents when I was a child. One was caused by black ice, but another may have been caused by a manufacturing defect. I was nine years old. It was in the 1990s in New Brunswick, near the Acadian peninsula. We were going down a big hill in a Plymouth Chrysler. I do not believe that this car is still being made today. We were quite pleased with that car at the time. It was red. We bought it brand new, but it was a few years old at the time of the accident. I was with my mother and my brother, who was 15 or 16 at the time. We were going 100 kilometres per hour down the hill.
Suddenly the gas pedal was stuck to the floor and the brakes stopped working. I did not know why. I was just a kid and we were all gripped by panic. I relay all this with a smile because in the end nothing bad happened. My brother had the genius idea to tell my mother to kill the motor. The engine could have exploded, but our lives were at stake. Then he told my mother to pull over to the side and let the car slow down enough to use the handbrake. This all happened in a matter of seconds.
Later, when my parents took the car to the mechanic, the repair costs were quite high. It was the early 1990s. Today we might wonder if that incident was caused by a manufacturing defect. I just wanted give all those in my riding who are watching me, of which there are many I am sure, a personal example where a manufacturing defect, if that indeed was the cause of the accident, could have had very serious consequences.
A few years ago, dozens of relatively serious recalls were announced on the news, and I wondered if any of them affected my Subaru Forester. I did some Internet research and was very pleased to discover that they did not.
In the context of increased globalization and free trade, which I strongly support, automobile manufacturers must take on greater civil and social responsibility with respect to their national customers, in this case Canadians, because a car can be made up of parts from 10 different countries, and that is no exaggeration.
It is therefore vital that we establish safeguards and that we grant Transportation Canada more power so that it can be proactive on this issue. This bill must put a certain amount of pressure on manufacturers that assemble vehicles so that they are highly motivated to guarantee the safety of their vehicles and conduct proper follow up, particularly since these products are one of the leading causes of death in our society and it is possible to reduce the number of incidents caused by technical problems.
In closing, we support sending the bill to committee, but we would like some amendments to be made. For example, we will propose that clause 10.61 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to inform the person or dealership that obtained a vehicle from that company to ensure that any defect or non-compliance in a vehicle or equipment is corrected before the vehicle is offered for sale.”
We also propose that clause 8.1 be amended to read: “The Minister may, by order, require a company to conduct reasonable tests, analyses, or studies on a vehicle or equipment to determine whether there are any defects or non-compliances.”
We also suggest amending clauses 10.4 and 16.13 to ensure that the minister does not have too much discretionary power.
There should be no inappropriate government intervention in auto manufacturing, which is private enterprise.
Three cheers for vehicle and road safety.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-20 15:53 [p.13285]
Madam Speaker, the question is not whether the House supports those amendments. The question is whether the minister and his colleagues at committee, where the bill will go following this debate, will support the amendments proposed by the Conservatives and the Senate. If so, how they will proceed with the bill?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-20 15:55 [p.13285]
Madam Speaker, when it comes to Canadians' safety, there is no such thing as too soon. This bill could have come before the House much sooner. I think it is very important because it does not really have any budget implications, which means that it will not result in additional costs. It simply says that there are certain things the minister can do.
Although this bill gives the minister a little too much discretionary power, one good thing about it is that it puts more pressure on automakers. That will push them to meet higher standards, which will definitely be a good thing for the safety of my children and all children in Canada.
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