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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-04-10 17:21 [p.26955]
Mr. Speaker, I must say that in this case, I also appreciated the speech made by my colleague from Sherbrooke. I agree with him, much to the chagrin of my colleague from Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.
As the member for Sherbrooke said, this budget is dragging up broken promises, such as the promise to return to a balanced budget this year, which is rather unbelievable. It does not even include a timeline for balancing the budget. This is a first in our country's history.
The government is budgeting $41 billion to deflect attention from its mistakes, including its bungled foreign and domestic policy. Once again, the budget favours the major interest groups, as the member for Sherbrooke pointed out. We saw more evidence of this today, when the government gave Loblaws $12 million for refrigerators. It is absolutely ridiculous.
Does my colleague from Sherbrooke agree that this budget shows a lack of respect for Quebeckers?
In 2015, the member for Papineau, the Prime Minister, told a New York newspaper that Canada was postnational. This is an outright affront to Quebeckers, whose historical and political reality is very much alive and well.
There are also no measures in this bill to address the Quebec premier's concerns about the cost of the arrival of a huge number of illegal refugees. I know he does not like that term, but Quebec wants to be reimbursed for some of those costs. There is also nothing in the budget about a single tax return or the Quebec Bridge, and there is nothing to address the discriminatory measure wherein larger cities will get more money for sustainable mobility infrastructure than smaller ones like Quebec City.
Does my colleague agree that the 2019 budget implementation bill once again shows the government's lack of respect for all our fellow Quebeckers?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-02-20 16:21 [p.25570]
Mr. Speaker, I want to point out how disappointed I am. I could hardly wait to speak about this bill today, mainly for personal reasons. I have an Inuit first name, Alupa, which means “strong man”. My entire family is very aware of and attuned to indigenous matters. My wife is an anthropologist who has worked with the Inuit for many years, and my father is a forensic historian, who has defended indigenous people in many cases by locating treaties or doing research for them.
The minister said that this is an extremely important bill that will protect and promote indigenous languages, some of which are dying out. That much is true. The Liberals have also said that no relationship is more important than the relationship with indigenous peoples. They have said it over and over, but this bill was introduced only a few months before the election, at the end of their mandate and four years after they were elected. Yes, it is urgent that we take action, but it is not true that we will all be able to state our position and discuss it in committee. As there are only three spots for opposition members, I do not think I will have the opportunity to debate the bill or to suggest amendments in committee.
Although we support this bill on the face of it, it deals with some very serious issues. There is a very clear reason why we support this bill, and that appears in the last paragraph of the preamble to the Official Languages Act, which states that the government recognizes the importance of preserving and enhancing the use of languages other than English and French while strengthening the status and use of the official languages.
This bill is therefore perfectly aligned with Canada's political doctrine. However, there are some very important issues that need clarification, and I will talk about them now. Why is the Official Languages Act quasi-constitutional? That is because it is linked to sections 16 to 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The minister told us that Bill C-91, an act respecting indigenous languages, is linked to section 35 of the Constitution. Does that mean that this bill will become quasi-constitutional legislation like the Official Languages Act? If so, we will have to discuss this for weeks because it will have a major impact on our society. It will be a very positive impact, to be sure, but when we say that the bill could be quasi-constitutional we need to know where that takes us.
The bill also states that there would be a commissioner of indigenous languages. Will this commissioner have duties similar to those of the Commissioner of Official Languages? Will they have a joint office?
The bill also talks about funding to protect, preserve and promote indigenous languages. Will that involve developing action plans as we do for official languages? Will this cost billions of dollars over five years every five years, as is the case with the action plan for official languages? Will the department also receive $1 billion in recurring funding every five years?
There are all kinds of questions to which we have no answers today. Could we maybe get an inkling of an answer right now?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:04 [p.23347]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise. As usual, I would like to say hello to the many people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us live on CPAC or on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter later.
I would like to comment on the speech by the Minister of Status of Women. I found it somewhat hypocritical when she said that she hopes her opposition colleagues will support the bill and the budget's feminist measures, which she presented, when the Liberals actually and strategically included all these measures in an omnibus bill, the 2018 budget implementation bill. Clearly, we, the Conservatives, will not vote in favour of Bill C-86 because it once again presents a deficit budget that is devastating for Canada's economy and for Canadian taxpayers. It is somewhat hypocritical for the minister to tell us that she hopes we will support the measures to give women more power when she herself was involved in hiding these measures in an omnibus bill.
I would like say, as I often say, that it is a privilege for me to speak today, but not for the same reason this time. I might have been denied the opportunity to speak to Bill C-86 because this morning, the Liberal government imposed closure on the House. It imposed time allocation on the speeches on the budget. This is the first time in three years that I am seeing this in the House. Since 2015, we have had three budget presentations. This is the sixth time we are debating a budget since 2015 during this 42nd Parliament. This is the first time I have seen the majority of my Conservative colleagues and the majority of my NDP colleagues being denied speaking time to discuss something as important as Bill C-86 to implement budgetary measures. The budget implementation legislation is what formalizes the budget the government brought down in February. Implementation is done in two phases. This is the second phase and it implements the Liberal government's budget.
By chance, I have the opportunity to speak about the budget today and I want to do so because I would like to remind those listening about some key elements of this budget which, in our view, are going in the wrong direction. First, the Liberals are continuing with their habit, which has become ingrained in their psyches. They are continuing with their deficit approach. It appears that they are in a financial bind. That is why they are creating new taxes like the carbon tax. They also lack the personal ability to govern. You might say that it is not in their genes to balance a budget. The Liberals' budget measures are bad and their economic plan is bad. They are so incapable of balancing the budget that they cannot even give us a timeline. They cannot even tell us when they think they will balance the budget.
This is the first time that we have seen this in the history of our great Canadian parliamentary democracy, established in 1867, and probably before that, in the parliaments of the United Canadas. This is the first time since 1867 that a government has not been able to say when they will balance the budget. I am not one for political rhetoric, but this is not rhetoric, this is a fact.
The Liberals made big promises to us in that regard during the 2015 election. Unfortunately, the Liberals put off keeping those promises. They promised to balance the budget by 2019. Now, they have put that off indefinitely, or until 2045, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, a position that, let us not forget, was created by Mr. Harper. That great democrat wanted to ensure that there was budgetary accountability in Parliament. The Liberals also promised that they would run small deficits of $10 billion for the first three years and then balance the budget. The first year, they ran a deficit of $30 billion. The second year, they ran a deficit of $20 billion. The third year, they ran a deficit of $19 billion. Just a week or two ago, we found out from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the Liberals miscalculated and another $4 billion in debt has been added to that amount. The Liberals have racked up a deficit of $22 billion. That is 6.5 times more than what they set out in their plan to balance the budget.
The other key budget promise the Liberals made was that the small deficits of $10 billion would be used to build new infrastructure as part of a $187-billion program.
To date, only $9 billion has flowed from the coffers to pay for infrastructure projects. Where is the other $170 billion? The Prime Minister is so acutely aware of the problem that he shuffled his cabinet this summer. He appointed the former international trade minister to the infrastructure portfolio, and the new infrastructure minister's mandate letter says he absolutely has to get on this troublesome issue of money not being used to fund infrastructure projects.
There is a reason the Liberals do not want to give us more than two or three days to discuss the budget. They do not want the Conservatives and the NDP to say quite as much about the budget as they would like to say because we have a lot of bad things to tell them and Canadians.
Fortunately, we live in a democracy, and we can express ourselves in the media, so all Canadians can hear what I have to say. However, it is important for us to express our ideas in the House too because listening to what we say here is how Canadians learn what happened in history.
Things are not as rosy as the Liberals claim when it comes to the economy and their plan. For instance, in terms of exports, they have not been able to export Canadian oil as they should. We have one of the largest reserves in the world, but the Liberals tightened rules surrounding the National Energy Board in recent years. As a result, several projects have died, such as the northern gateway project and energy east, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project, which the Liberals managed to save in the end using $4.5 billion of taxpayers money. In short, our exports are not doing very well.
As for investments, from 2015 to 2017, Canadian investments in the U.S. increased by 65%, while American investments in Canada dropped by 52%.
On top of that, one thing that affects the daily lives of Canadians even more is the massive debt, which could jeopardize all our future projects for our glorious federation. In 2018, the total accumulated debt is $670 billion. That comes out to $47,000 per family. Not counting any student debt, car payments or mortgage, every family already has a debt of $47,000, and a good percentage of that has increased over the past three years because of the Liberals' fiscal mismanagement.
That is not to mention the interest on the debt. I am sure that Canadians watching at home are outraged by this. In 2020, the interest on the debt will be $39 billion a year. That is $3 billion more than we invest every year in health.
The government boasts about how it came up with a wonderful plan for federal health transfers with the provinces, but that plan does not respect provincial jurisdictions. What is more, it imposes conditions on the provinces that they must meet in order to be able to access those transfers. We did not do that in the Harper era. We are investing $36 billion per year in health care and spending $39 billion servicing debt. Imagine what we could have done with that money.
I will close by talking about the labour shortage. I would have liked to have 20 minutes so I could say more, but we cannot take the time we want because of the gag order. It is sad that I cannot keep going.
Quebec needs approximately 150,000 more workers. I am appalled that the minister would make a mockery of my questions on three occasions. Meanwhile, the member for Louis-Hébert had the nerve to say that the Conservatives oppose immigration. That has nothing to do with it. We support immigration, but that represents only 25% of the solution to the labour shortage. This is a serious crisis in Quebec.
There are many things under federal jurisdiction that the government could do and that, in combination with immigration, would help fill labour shortages. However, all the Liberals can do is make fun of me, simply because I am a member of the opposition. I hosted economic round tables in Quebec City with my colleagues, and all business owners were telling us that this is a serious crisis. The Liberals should act like a good government and stop making fun of us every time we speak. Actually, it is even worse; they want to prevent us from speaking.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:15 [p.23349]
Mr. Speaker, that is such a dishonourable question. He is doing exactly what I just criticized his colleague from Louis-Hébert for doing. That is fearmongering. The Liberals are doing exactly what they are accusing us of doing. They are making a mockery of what we are saying and the work we are doing as Her Majesty's opposition.
When we were in power, over 300,000 immigrants entered Canada every year, and there were no crises at our borders because we made sure that the our immigration system was orderly, fair and peaceful.
At an economic round table, the executive director of the Association des économistes du Québec told us that immigration was only 25% of the solution to the labour shortage. Even if we welcomed 500,000 immigrants a year, that would still not completely solve the labour shortage.
We need to help seniors who want to return to the workforce. We need to allow foreign students in our universities to stay longer. We need to make sure that fewer young men in Quebec drop out of high school. All kinds of action could be taken, but all the Liberals are capable of doing is launching completely false insinuations and hyper-partisan attacks on us.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:17 [p.23349]
Mr. Speaker, the government needs to be serious and show some leadership. That means being capable of making decisions for the future well being of Canadian society.
Why are the Liberals coming up with a carbon tax and bogus plans to fight climate change when they know a recession is coming? Everyone is talking about it. There will be a recession by 2020. What are they going to do in a recession with a $30-billion deficit? They have run up deficits or more than $100 billion in three and a half years. When the next recession hits, what are they going to do to get the economy moving again without any money?
We know what to do. From 2006 to 2015, the Conservative government managed to get through the worst economic crisis in history since the recession of the 1930s. We had the best result in the G7 and the OECD.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:19 [p.23349]
Mr. Speaker, there is the expression that Conservatives times are tough times. Why is that? We always have to clean up the Liberals' mess every single time. They were in power more often than us because they do not have principles. All they want is power. We stand up for the people and principles.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-01 11:34 [p.23119]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Louis-Hébert for his speech.
At the beginning of his speech he talked about historic investments in infrastructure. Sadly, it is historic in theory only, since we have seen just $9.3 billion of the $187 billion announced a few years ago.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Conservative government not only released the $80 billion from our economic action plan, but we also spent it in real time. Many observers even talked about how effective the plan was, since the money was getting out. I just wanted to set the record straight.
I would also like to ask my hon. colleague when the government plans to balance the budget. He did not mention that in his speech. One of the Liberal government's key promises in 2015 was to balance the budget by 2020. Promises must be kept if we want to reduce cynicism among Canadians instead of fuelling it. This is important to our democracy, and yet, it is clear that the government has shelved this promise and that it has absolutely no intention of keeping it.
When will the government balance the budget?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 11:30 [p.22540]
Madam Speaker, I understand what my colleague is saying when he talks about a sham and the protection of prisoners as a basic right. All that is entirely legitimate. However, we Conservatives have concerns, which we share with unionized prison guards. Historically, I think that the NDP has always promoted unionism and, more often than not, supported labour demands in our country.
I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the concerns and objections expressed publicly by prison guards, who say that the segregation of certain inmates helps them maintain discipline inside prisons, which is important. It is an exceptional measure, but a measure that is needed in order to remind inmates that there are serious consequences to some of their actions inside the prison walls when they are arrested and incarcerated.
What does my colleague think about the concerns expressed by the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 11:51 [p.22543]
Madam Speaker, in the last two years, we have seen time and again that the Liberal government has a propensity to always walk along the line of a court judgment. The role of the House of Commons is to reiterate, sometimes through the preamble of a new bill, to the courts and the judge the intent of a bill of a rule that was put forward, accepted and voted on in the House. Jean Chrétien did that many times. He did it for advertising in the tobacco sector. Companies wanted the Supreme Court decision and Jean Chrétien tabled a bill with a preamble saying that the judges were wrong.
In this instance, why are the Liberals again and again following the judgment when they could have just reiterated the intent of our purpose in the House of Commons, to protect the citizens of Canada and to ensure that guards had the necessary tools to apply discipline?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 12:08 [p.22544]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
As always, I will begin by saying hello to my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are watching today, as I am told every time I go door to door.
I also want to tell them that the issue we are discussing today is a very delicate subject. We are talking about the prison environment and about people's lives, namely, the lives of victims of crime and the lives of criminals in prison. This subject can be unsettling, and people often have very strong views on one side or the other. Some people want a really tough-on-crime approach, while others want a softer approach, for reasons that are equally legitimate on both sides.
I would like to ease into the debate and explain the Conservative caucus's take on Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
My colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, our public safety critic, was the commanding officer of the Régiment de la Chaudière. I have a lot of faith in him. Today he moved a motion calling on the House to simply end the debate on Bill C-83. My colleague believes that the bill is so botched that we need to shut down debate. In other words, we want to stop this bill and keep it from moving forward or being voted on in this place.
What I find interesting is that the NDP members have said that the bill does not go far enough in terms of protecting people who are incarcerated, while we are saying that it goes too far because it compromises the safety of prison guards and Canadians in general. Given that the motion moved by my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles will not be voted on right away, I will address some of the main aspects of this bill.
I want to address my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou. The bill would eliminate the use of administrative segregation in correctional facilities. Everyone is entitled to an opinion on administrative segregation. These opinions are often based on Hollywood movies. Administrative segregation is used when an inmate is imprisoned for life, or for 10 or 2 years. Inmates serving a life sentence already know that they are not getting out of prison and that they will probably die there, even though there is a provision allowing them to request a discharge after 25 years and leave prison, even in very serious cases of premeditated murder.
Nevertheless, life in prison is a very long period of time for someone who is incarcerated. How can the correctional facility and the guards compel or force this prisoner to comply with disciplinary guidelines? The prison guards are ordinary men and women, with normal lives, who go home at night, who have children, and all that. How are they meant to impose order every day in prison when there are inmates who will be there for the rest of their lives? These lifers could go so far as to kill another inmate since they will be in prison either way.
What I am saying is that correctional facilities need access to measures that are psychologically difficult for prisoners, like segregation, otherwise known as the hole. I do not think that is a good word, since they are no longer holes. They are real and proper cells, just used as a means of segregation.
The inmates eat well enough, and they have access to sanitation facilities. Prisons are not like Alcatraz in the 19th century. We are talking about orderly, coordinated disciplinary segregation that gives correctional officers some measure of control over hardened criminals who do not follow the rules unless they are afraid of ending up in segregation.
This bill would eliminate that. Considering the argument I just laid out, we think that is totally ridiculous. The bill would also replace those facilities with structured intervention units, but it does not tell us exactly what those units are or how they will work.
The bill also talks about using a body scanner, and that is one part of the bill we support, as do corrections professionals and unions. Visitors often find ways that I will not describe in detail to bring drugs and other objects, such as cell phones, to prisoners. That is not allowed. Using a body scanner could make life easier for corrections officers, visitors and prisoners because there would be no need to conduct uncomfortable searches.
The bill specifies that exceptions for indigenous offenders, women offenders and offenders diagnosed with mental health issues need to be formalized. It is about time.
Speaking for myself, there is something I find intriguing. The bill comes in response to recent superior court decisions that found that indefinite segregation was unacceptable under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I want to respond to something my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood said in answer to a question I asked 15 or 20 minutes ago. He told me that we make law, but the courts and judges interpret the law.
Nowhere in the Canadian Constitution does it say that lawmakers do not have the right to interpret the law. It is ironic to hear a lawmaker say something so absurd, because we interpret laws every day in the House of Commons. We interpret them in debate and in committee. We review laws, we rewrite laws, we pass laws and we repeal laws. The role of interpreting law belongs as much to the legislative branch as to the executive branch. The executive branch is even required to apply the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to evaluate every bill through the lens of the charter.
Distinguished Professor Christopher Manfredi of McGill University, who is recognized by his peers around the world, said that the interpretation of each of the three branches is important because they each have their own interpretation of Canadian law and that we achieve better results for Canadians when there is vigorous competition between the powers.
In conclusion, I will say that we could have a philosophical debate about the existence of prisons. No one thinks that prisons are wonderful. At a human level, I believe prisons are probably the most horrible thing there is. However, the historical evolution of humanity shows that this is the only known way to ensure that the most dangerous members of our society will not have any further criminal impact on others. The objective is public safety. The Canadian government's main objective is Canadians' safety. That is why I told the member from Scarborough—Guildwood that he should have instead introduced another bill that emphasizes the government's role in protecting Canadians and that tells the court that it is absolutely wrong about administrative segregation in prison. It is unfortunate, but we must have prisons.
As I reiterated in my arguments, administrative segregation is the only real tool that ensures that prisoners serving a life sentence, for example, have a psychological constraint preventing them from harming other inmates in jail. How can we control a lifer without administrative segregation? It is good for the effectiveness of prisons and for the safety of guards.
We hope that the government will reverse course on this bill. I do not understand why the NDP does not want to support the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, which believes that ending the practice of administrative segregation will jeopardize the safety of correctional officers.
I thank the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou for listening.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 12:20 [p.22546]
Mr. Speaker, inmates who are disciplined by being sent to these units that the bill seeks to create—and that we hope will never see the light of day—will have access to a television and anything else they usually have in their cells.
What we are saying is that administrative segregation, as it now exists, is a psychological deterrent for inmates serving life sentences, for example, who would otherwise not hesitate to harm other inmates or guards. They do not care because they are already in prison for life. The only way to dissuade them from engaging in that type of behaviour is to threaten to send them to solitary confinement with no television or anything else. That psychological element is needed to maintain discipline in prisons.
It is unfortunate, and perhaps prisons should not exist, but that is the only way to protect Canadians, and the only way to maintain discipline is administrative segregation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 12:22 [p.22546]
Mr. Speaker, I completely agree. The Liberals like to base bills on individual cases. That is understandable in some ways because the fundamental objective of a liberal democracy is to protect the minority from the majority. However, the Canadian majority is beginning to get fed up with never having a voice in this government and never having its wishes and desires represented.
That is very dangerous for social harmony, because the majority also needs to have a say. One of the complaints that we as MPs hear most often in our ridings is that the government is always kowtowing to the Canadian judiciary.
To show my good faith, I will say that I will always be proud of Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin—perhaps a little less so of Mr. Martin. Mr. Chrétien carried on the tradition of other prime ministers. When he and his caucus did not agree with a Supreme Court ruling, they reintroduced the same bill in the House of Commons with a preamble.
That is called an “in your face” reply. I suggest that my colleagues go see all the eminent law professors at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. They know all about that kind of thing, and they detest it. An “in your face” reply is when legislators tell the Supreme Court justices that they are wrong, that they do not understand the government's objective, and that they misinterpreted Canadian law.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 12:49 [p.22216]
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague for Barrie—Innisfil has stated, we generally support the bill and will see what happens at committee during the hearings and the reading of the different articles.
However, I noticed while reading the bill that there is an amendment to the Divorce Act that proposes an obligation on the two spouses who go through a divorce to consult a lawyer. I know some friends who have been divorced and it was perfectly positive. There was no huge discussion, no fears of fighting whatsoever about any of the things that could go badly during a divorce.
Is it really necessary to have this amendment that would force the parties to consult a lawyer and spend money when it is not required?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:14 [p.22219]
Mr. Speaker, while reading the proposed bill, I noticed there is a clause that proposes to make an obligation for spouses going through divorce to consult a lawyer. Even some of my friends whom I know closely have gone through divorce in an amicable way, and sometimes it is possible to do so. Is it really necessary to put forward an obligation to consult a lawyer? I believe this is one of the amendments proposed to the Divorce Act. I wonder what the hon. member thinks about that.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:20 [p.22219]
Mr. Speaker, I could not be more thrilled to rise today on behalf of the 93,000 citizens of Beauport—Limoilou, to whom I send warm, sincere greetings. This is my first time speaking since we came back from the summer break.
Today, I will be speaking to my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou about Bill C-78, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another act. Marriage has always been extremely important to me. From a tender age, I yearned to be married someday. I have always believed that the bond between a married couple is something infinitely precious. Marriage is also a cherished tradition, and as a Conservative, I like keeping up traditions.
I say this without prejudice, but unfortunately, I grew up in the social context of Quebec, which no longer values the institution of marriage as it should. I am referring to official marriage, either civil or religious. Marriage, as an institution, is no longer held in respect. Most of my constituents are in civil unions, which is perfectly fine. Nevertheless, marriage is still dear to my heart. As a Conservative, I wanted to perpetuate the tradition of marriage. I have been with my wife, Pascale Laneuville, for 14 years. After living together for seven years, I wanted her to experience a proper marriage proposal. I was happy to do it, and I am delighted to still be married today. I hope my marriage will last until I die, hopefully in the House. I want to be an MP for 40 years. That is my most fervent wish.
That said, I would like to talk a bit about the summer I had in my riding of Beauport—Limoilou. Over the three-month summer break, I met with many of my constituents, who are watching us right now on CPAC. I said “summer break” because Parliament was on a break, but we were not on a break from work. Journalists often like to confuse Canadians about this. I was in my office the whole time, except for my two-week vacation to the Le Genévrier campground in Baie-Saint-Paul. That is a little promo. It is a beautiful campground in the Charlevoix region, in my colleague's riding.
I celebrated July 1 at Maison Girardin, in Beauport. One thousand people joined me to celebrate Confederation. I hosted my third annual summer party at Domaine Maizerets park. More than 3,500 residents came to my meeting to tell me about their concerns, and I let them know what I can do for them as their MP. There was complimentary corn and hot dogs, generously donated by Provigo on 1st Avenue in Limoilou. I want to thank the owner, Mr. Bourboin, was is very generous to the people of Beauport—Limoilou.
I continued to go door to door in my riding two evenings a week, as I do every month. I noticed that my constituents want to learn more about our leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. People are quite impressed by the Conservative Party's openness to Quebec as a distinct society. I was pleased to discover this when chatting with my constituents.
I also organized two meetings with Beauport's network of business people. These business luncheons are attended by more than 60 Beauport entrepreneurs every two or three weeks. The next one is scheduled on Wednesday, October 10, at 7 a.m., at the Ambassador Hotel. There will be an economic round table with Mr. Barrucco, executive director of the Association des économistes québécois, who will answer all questions from small and medium-sized business owners from Beauport—Limoilou.
I attended almost every event held in my riding this summer. I also held my second “Alupa à l'écoute” public consultation. The third will happen in November. I will then be introducing a bill to address an ever-present concern of my constituents. Naturally, there is also the day-to-day work at my office, with citizens' files and all the rest.
Finally, two weeks ago, together with the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, and André Drolet, who was then the Liberal candidate for Jean-Lesage, I participated, with great fanfare, in the sod turning for the Medicago production facility. This is going to create more than 400 well-paid, quality jobs in vaccine research. It will also contribute to the revitalization of the Estimauville sector, which is very much needed because since the 1970s and 1980s, it is a sector of Quebec City that has been neglected.
Now back to the subject at hand, Bill C-78. Let me start by saying that the Conservatives plan to support this bill at second reading on some conditions. We are eager to hear from the witnesses at committee and to see how the Liberals react to our concerns and our vision for this bill because, as I will explain in a moment, some of the things in this bill make very little sense to us.
I would like to explain the gist of this bill to the people of Beauport—Limoilou. The main goal is to act in children's best interest. My constituents should know that the Divorce Act has not been amended in 20 years, or two decades. In that time, we have seen generation X, generation Y, and the millennials. They have had a major impact on Quebec elections. As the years go by, things change, social mores change, and culture evolves. Two decades, 20 years, is a long time.
I might go so far as to compliment the Liberal government on its decision to review this legislation and amend it to better reflect everything children go through when their parents divorce and take into account the situations they find themselves in. The Liberals are absolutely right about the importance of putting children first during the divorce process, just as patients should be at the centre of conversations about health care. The Conservatives agree 100% that this should be the focus of the bill. Yes, children should be central to discussions during the divorce process to keep their suffering to a minimum regardless of what goes on between their parents.
As a brief aside, I would like to tell a joke that I always tell my friends and even my family. My parents are divorced, and so are my wife's parents. Quite frankly, it was pretty common for their generation. As I often say jokingly, divorce is not an option for me and my wife, even if we wanted one, because my daughter and son already have four grandfathers and four grandmothers. The situation is already so ridiculous that I would not want to add another four grandfathers and four grandmothers. As members can see, divorce is not an option for me. However, for individuals who need to divorce for unavoidable reasons, it is important that the legislation reflect the mores, customs and conventions of the present day.
In addition, the bill brought another thought to mind, and I think members will see its relevance. The United States-Mexico-Canada agreement was reached this week, so I drew a parallel. Since we are talking about marriage, agreements and concerns, we could look at the USMCA as an economic marriage, of sorts, between two countries. In this economic marriage, which has been arranged for sound and objective reasons based on a win-win logic, the aim is to protect the children, which, in this case, are the Canadian economy and our sovereignty.
The USMCA is an important agreement between two countries that have decided to open their borders and create a relationship and ties in order to move forward together toward shared growth and an economy that works for both sides. However, we see two big problems with this marriage. First of all, it simply does not cut it economically speaking, because the Prime Minister and member for Papineau failed to ensure its fairness.
For example, the softwood lumber dispute has not been resolved. This is the third or fourth softwood lumber crisis. I visited Rimouski in the Gaspé region. Actually, I know the people who live there would not be happy to hear me say that Rimouski is in the Gaspé, so I will say that I visited Rimouski, which is in the Lower St. Lawrence region, where there are a number of lumber mills. Obviously, they are tired of dealing with one softwood lumber crisis after another. This would have been the perfect opportunity for the government to strengthen Canada's relationship with the United States and resolve the softwood lumber dispute.
Let us think too of all of the other regions of Quebec that will be negatively impacted by the imminent breach in supply management on dairy products. Once again, Canada is giving without getting anything in return. I realized that this marriage is not at all fair. When we officially entered into a relationship with the United States in 1989—
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:33 [p.22221]
Mr. Speaker, I can understand my colleague's concern. I did have a point I was getting at. I want to talk about clauses 54 and 101 of Bill C-78 and how they contradict Bill C-75.
However, I was talking about something that is very important to me. I will use a different analogy. Let us leave NAFTA behind for a different analogy.
We have a Prime Minister who introduced Bill C-78, telling Canadians that after 20 years, he is proposing important amendments, some fundamental and others more technical, that will strengthen the legislation and the institution of marriage in Canada.
Notwithstanding the fact that we Conservative members plan to support this bill, following the committee studies, we feel it is hard to trust the Prime Minister when he says he wants to strengthen marriage, considering his behaviour as the head of government.
For example, when Mr. Trudeau was elected in 2015, we might say that it was a marriage between him and the people of Canada. However, after everything that the Prime Minister has done in the past three years, a marriage would not have lasted a year since he broke three major promises. I would even say that these are promises that break up the very core of his marriage with Canada. I will get to the clauses in this bill that have me concerned, but I want to draw a parallel. How can we trust the Prime Minister when it comes to this divorce bill, when he himself does not keep his promises to Canadians?
He made three fundamental promises. The first was to run deficits of only $10 billion for the first three years and then cut back on that. He broke that promise. The deficits have been $30 billion every year.
The second fundamental broken promise of his marriage with the people of Canada was to achieve a balanced budget by 2020-21. Now we are talking about 2045, my goodness. Is there anything more important than finances in a marriage? Yes, there is love. I get it.
However, budgets are essential in a home. Finances are essential for a couple to remain together. I can attest to that. Love has its limits in a home. Bills have to get paid and children have to eat. Budgets need to be balanced, something that Canadian families do all the time. Our Prime Minister is unable to keep that promise.
The other promise has to do with our voting system, how we are going to run our home, our political system. Just before they got married, the Prime Minister promised Canadians that he would reform the voting system. That was a key promise and he broke it. In fact it was one of the first promises he broke and it is a serious broken promise in his marriage with Canadians in my opinion. It is a broken promise to every young person who trusted him.
Personally, I completely disagree with reforming the voting system because I believe that the first past the post system is the best guarantee for a parliamentary democracy. That said, it was a key promise that he made to youth and the leftists of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, who view proportional representation as being better for them, their future and their concerns. However, he broke his promise. The marriage has been on the verge of breaking up for a long time now. I predict that it will only last one more year.
I have one last point to make in my analogy and then I will discuss the bill. I want to talk about his infrastructure promise. The Prime Minister said that he would invest $183 billion in infrastructure over the next 14 years. It was the largest program in the history of Canada because, according to the Liberals, their programs are always the largest in the history of Canada. I would remind members that ours was incredible as well, with $80 billion invested between 2008 and 2015.
I will ask my colleagues a question they are sure to know the answer to. How many billions of the $183 billion have been spent after four years? The answer is $7 billion, if I am not mistaken. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer mentioned it in one of his reports.
Therefore, how can we have confidence in the Prime Minister, the member for Papineau, who is introducing a bill to strengthen the institution of marriage and the protection of children in extremely contentious divorces when he himself, in his solemn marriage with the Canadian people, has broken the major promises of his 2015 election platform?
The bond of trust has been broken and divorce between the Liberals and the people of Canada is imminent. It is set to happen on October 19, 2019.
Bill C-78 seeks to address some rather astonishing statistics. According to the 2016 census, more than two million children were living in a separated or divorced family. Five million Canadians separated or divorced between 1991 and 2011. Of that number, 38% had a child at the time of their separation or divorce. I imagine that is why the focus of Bill C-78 is protection of the child.
However, we have some concerns. Clause 101 introduces the idea that Her Majesty ranks in priority over the party that instituted the garnishment proceedings if the debtor is indebted or has any moneys to pay. That has us concerned. We will certainly call witnesses to our parliamentary committee to find out what they think and to see if we can amend this.
We also believe that clause 54 is flawed. It extends Her Majesty's binding period from five to 12 years. That is another aspect of the bill that could be problematic in our view.
I do not like to end on a negative note, but I absolutely have to mention a major contradiction pertaining to Bill C-78. Today, the Liberals enthusiastically shared with us, through this bill, their desire to make the protection of children, rather than parents, a priority in cases of divorce. However, when we look closely at Bill C-75, which, with its 300 pages, is a mammoth bill if ever there was one, we see that it seeks to rescind all of the great measures to strengthen crime legislation that our dear prime minister, Mr. Harper, implemented during his 10 years in office, a fantastic decade in Canada.
We are distressed to see that this bill lessens sentences for crimes committed against children. The Liberals are not content with just saying that they are good and the Conservatives are bad. They, who profess to believe in universal love, want to lessen the sentences for criminals who committed terrible, deplorable crimes against children. Then they tell us that the purpose of their bill is to help children.
We see these contradictions and we are concerned. I do not think that my constituents would let their spouses break promises as important as the ones the Prime Minister has broken since 2015. They would not want to stay in a relationship like that.
Canadians need to realize that their divorce from the Liberal government is imminent.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:43 [p.22222]
Mr. Speaker, I completely agree with the member opposite. He is perfectly right that this is one of the excellent amendments to be brought about by Bill C-78. It would enhance the power of the Canada Revenue Agency to verify the financial information of either spouse in order to ensure equity, not for the spouses but for the children. We all agree with that. Of course, it would be a good thing for my constituents of Beauport—Limoilou. There is no doubt about that.
However, I have two concerns, one regarding this and the other regarding the bill. The bill does not anticipate or propose enhancing the budget of the CRA to do what he is talking about, which would allow it to have more power in verifying the information. The CRA does not operate with free-paying jobs or written words on a blank piece of paper. It has paid employees with pensions, so one would need to inject more money into it to increase its power. I hope that actions will follow the words of the government in the budget.
Unfortunately, the member will not be able to answer my question, unless no one else stands. I do not understand why the government wants to obligate both spouses to meet and consult with a lawyer. In many instances, people go through a divorce in an amicable way. I know friends who went through a divorce for the well-being and good of their children, and it was done in an amicable and appropriate way. Why does the government want to impose the obligation to consult with a lawyer, which would necessitate spending? I would like the Liberals to address this concern.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:46 [p.22223]
Mr. Speaker, of course. I would like to salute my colleague, as I have not yet had a chance to say hello to her since we returned from the summer break. I think my colleague is doing a great job.
I can certainly imagine that, much like the Conservatives, New Democrats recognize the fact that the Liberals are putting child protection at the centre of their bill, along with the needs of the child and the repercussions children can suffer during a nasty divorce. The Liberals want to put the protection and well-being of children at the centre of their bill. That is great, and all members of the House of Commons agree on that.
We also look forward to seeing how this all unfolds at committee. As they say, the devil is in the details. I never thought I would say that here. This is a lengthy bill, which we will study in committee. I look forward to hearing what our expert witnesses have to say. This is a very important bill that amends the Civil Marriage Act, which has not been amended for 20 years.
We have some concerns regarding clauses 54 and 101. As I said, I am a little apprehensive. As I emphasized a few times during my speech, with all due respect, the Prime Minister has not honoured his commitment, his marriage to the people of Canada. He has broken most of the promises he made to Canadians when he married them, so to speak, in 2015, at the time of his election. There is a parallel here; it is a parable.
I agree with my colleague that the child must absolutely be front and centre. That is not what we see in Liberal Bill C-75, which seeks to reduce sentences for offences committed against children. We think that is unfortunate.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-04 13:50 [p.22223]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's straightforward answer to my question.
My understanding was that a divorce had to involve a meeting with lawyers. Apparently that is not the case. However, what he said touched on other things I was wondering about.
He said that the Liberals wanted to simplify the process and keep matters out of the courts. He also said they wanted a way to review each parent's financial information.
Of course, in many cases, it is the father who handles the finances and the mother who looks after the children. My understanding is that the bill will enable the Canada Revenue Agency to systematically update or review both the father's and the mother's files if necessary.
This bill does not provide additional funding for the Canada Revenue Agency. If there is going to be more work, more paperwork, more investigations and more data, the Canada Revenue Agency should have a bigger budget.
If the Liberals are serious about this bill and if they want issues related to divorce to be resolved outside of the courts, then they are going to have to allocate more money to the Canada Revenue Agency in their 2019 budget.
However, I have my doubts. This summer I heard an incredible number of horror stories from my constituents about the CRA. It is incredible to see everything that goes on at that institution. The minister absolutely must go see what is going on in the CRA buildings.
This summer, all my constituents told me their stories and I am happy to share those. They told me that when they call the CRA, no one answers or the lines are always busy. They told me that when they email the CRA, they never get a response. That is unacceptable.
When a member of the public tries to contact a member of the public service, at the very least they should get a response.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-22 11:46 [p.19420]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Willowdale has spoken quite eloquently about Canada's past, our history. Canada marked its 150th birthday recently. He told us the truth, that throughout history we have increased the enfranchisement of voting rights, which is great. I would like to remind the member that Borden's Conservative government gave women the right to vote. It was a great movement in history for this country.
However, I would also like the member to reflect on the fact that today we have legitimate questions. These are not questions about the fact that the Liberals are trying to help more handicapped persons or military members have access to voting. We have specific questions regarding how we can trust the government, which in the last year has shown disregard for electoral fundraising with cash for access, and disregard for a fundamental promise made during the election to reform the way people vote. How can we trust the government going forward?
As well, we are hearing the Elections Canada director telling the government that it is too late now to implement those changes for the next election. What is the main goal of the government? How can we trust it going forward?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-22 12:01 [p.19422]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her speech, but I think she is mistaken and has some philosophical conflicts. She talked about the integrity of the voting system, but the main goal of this bill is to permit voting by people who have no identification, but only the identification cards given by Elections Canada. The main goal of this bill is not the integrity of the action of voting, or which government is chosen by the people. The goal is to permit people to vote without government identification. This in itself bears with it the great danger of disrupting the integrity of the voting system.
How can the member address the House and talk about the integrity of the voting system when one of the major changes this bill would bring to that system would be very dangerous to its integrity?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-22 12:22 [p.19425]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today as we get back to the House after a week in our ridings. Last week was very busy, I must say. I also want to take this opportunity to say hello to the many constituents of Beauport—Limoilou who, as always, are watching now on Facebook Live or who will be watching at a later time when the videos are posted on CPAC.
Today we are talking about democratic participation, which I find fascinating. If there is one thing that interests me most in life, it is democratic participation. This was the reason I got involved in politics. I urge Canadians to get involved. Last week I held the first-ever “Alupa à l'écoute!” public consultation in Beauport—Limoilou. I spent more than six hours listening to my constituents and answering their questions. Ultimately, my goal was to hear about the concerns, challenges, and difficulties they face in their day-to-day lives. The next consultation will be in Giffard on September 13, and the third will be in Beauport on November 17. For more information, people can call 418-663-2113. After these three public consultations, I will produce a report in the winter of 2019 and introduce a bill to address an issue that people face in their day-to-day lives. In those six hours last Thursday, I answered every question from around 40 constituents. I was very proud, because this kind of democratic accountability is absolutely essential. That actually ties into this bill.
Let us talk about participatory democracy. Once again, Bill C-76 is not all bad, but we expect that the Conservatives will vote against this bill for specific reasons. I did say “expect”, but that will depend on what happens in committee. My first impression is that this is another attempt by a government that brags about its international and national brilliance. Specifically, the Liberal government thinks it has a monopoly on being virtuous all the time. They want to sell to Canadians on the idea that with this bill they are again improving the accessibility of the electoral system and the eligibility to vote. A number of Liberal colleagues spoke in this place about the integrity of the system. With respect to Bill C-76, we feel that some of the amendments and new rules will directly or indirectly undermine Canada's electoral system.
My Liberal colleague, who as usual was fiery and spouted anti-Conservative rhetoric, said that voting is of course a fundamental right, but that it is also a privilege, as my colleague from Lethbridge stated. It is a privilege that requires a right and individual responsibility first and foremost. The laws that govern Elections Canada at present seek not just to foster participation, but also to ensure that this duty is carried out with integrity and responsibly. It is really a conflict between how to increase the public's participation and how to ensure that the right to vote remains a protected right.
The Liberal member for Willowdale spoke eloquently of the history of our great federation by talking about the changes in voting almost every decade; we went from suffrage on the basis of property ownership to popular ballot. We went from the popular ballot, just for men, to voting for women, thank God. It was Borden's Conservative government that gave women the right to vote. All the parties here, Canada's major governing parties, Liberal and Conservative, are always in favour of making voting more accessible.
We have some technical questions about the bill. That is unfortunate because, as my Liberal colleagues said, accessibility to the vote is a fundamental debate. Why did the Liberals move a time allocation motion a week ago? We were supposed to vote on time allocation today. Surely, the Liberals backed down after finding that they would look undemocratic by allocating only two or three hours of debate on such a fundamental issue.
In comparison, for Conservative Bill C-23, which dealt with Elections Canada and which was introduced during the 41st Parliament, we had four days of debate for a total of 14 hours, in addition to 23 meetings in committee, on this bill that was aimed at improving our electoral system. At this point, we have only had two hours of debate on Bill C-76.
As the NDP did, it is important to recall the concerns raised by the Chief Electoral Officer. He said that the government had previously tabled the amendments to Bill C-76 in Bill C-33, which died on the Order Paper. Actually, it did not exactly die on the Order Paper, because there was no prorogation, but it never got beyond first reading. The Chief Electoral Officer therefore told the government that it needed to get to work right away if it really wanted to make changes in time for the 2019 election. However, the government waited until the last second to make these changes, just days from the deadline set by the Chief Electoral Officer. Clearly, this is just another tactic to keep us from debating Bill C-76 properly.
Certain parts of this bill are fine, but what I find utterly astounding about it is that it proves that Mr. Harper was right back in 2015. The Liberals called us terrible, horrible partisans for announcing the election on July 1. However, the reason we did that was because Mr. Harper had noticed a problem. During the month of June 2015, unions, such as the FTQ in eastern Canada and other big unions in western Canada, which of course are free to protest, had spent tens of millions of dollars on partisan ads attacking the Canadian government in power at the time, which was a Conservative government. Since we could not respond to that situation because we were not in an election period, Mr. Harper, a man of unimpeachable integrity, decided to call an election so that we could respond using election expenses.
Throughout the campaign, the Liberals called us enemies of democracy who only cared about winning votes. In fact, they still say that about us today. However, by creating a pre-election period beginning on June 30 in Bill C-76, they are confirming, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Mr. Harper was right to do the same thing four years ago. That is a tribute to our former prime minister.
What exactly would Bill C-76 do? It would expand voter eligibility. Apparently this bill would prepare future voters by creating a register of young people aged 14 to 17 so that Elections Canada can start communicating with them. That seems kind of strange to me because that is when young people are most likely going to CEGEP or community college and living in apartments with two or three roommates. I do not really know how that communication is supposed to happen considering that young people today use their phones and social networks such as Facebook to communicate.
My Liberal colleague said that Liberals support enfranchisement, but giving kids the right to vote is something else entirely. He said that voting is a basic right, but that there is discrimination inherent in our system because Canadian citizens under the age of 18 do not have the right to vote. Voting is not in fact a privilege and a basic right granted to everyone. There are limits, and we can all agree that those limits are good for democracy and the duty to vote because people under the age of 18 have to go to school and do their homework. I strongly agree with that. If they are not in school, they should at least be working or travelling around the world and around Canada without asking anyone for money. I can say for sure that, up to age 18, people should be preparing to exercise their civic duty. That is why people cannot vote until they turn 18. It is not in fact an absolute right for everyone. There is already some discrimination inherent in the right to vote in Canada.
Then there are three pre-election periods. I have already mentioned the pre-election period, so let us talk about the “pre-pre-election” period. There is already a problem with this one, since there will be no constraints on the financial commitments of domestic and international third parties.
Until June 30, we know very well that all the international environmental groups, who like to see the Prime Minister contemplating the death of the oil sands, will spend millions of dollars to promote the end of natural and energy resources in Canada, which is very bad news. Natural resources represent 40% of the Canadian economy. We are in an energy transition. The systematic blindness on the part of the Marxist left and the centrist left in Canada is astounding. We are always being told that we are not making any effort on the environmental front. Since 1960, the environment has been systematically and continuously improved. Let us also not forget that this 40% of the Canadian economy is used to fund hospitals, education programs and our elections, which still cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
They also want an extended period of advance polling, which is very good. I won because of advance polling, so it is a very good idea. Joking aside, it is a good thing.
With regard to limiting the election campaign to 50 days, we could also ask why 50 days and not 37.
The Liberals want to change the requirement of having identification with an address and photo. It will be terrible. I go door to door every month in my riding—
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-22 12:34 [p.19427]
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
I held a town hall last week and I go door-knocking every month. I have knocked on 35,000 doors. In all honesty, no one has ever brought up the potential problem of not having an ID card to vote. We need an ID card for many things in our society. We are talking about the vote that will determine the next Canadian government. In 2015, 16% of the cards we got from Elections Canada had significant errors. What is more, it is very easy to get a voter card.
Sometimes in community buildings with 160 dwellings the mail room can be a bit of a mess. Mailboxes overflow with paper and anyone can grab an Elections Canada voter card and go to a polling station and vote. We are simply asking the Liberals to ensure that the right to vote is not just a game where anything goes. It has to be reasonably protected and ensured.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-22 12:36 [p.19427]
Incredibly, Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary is telling Canadians that the objective of 99 MPs is to suppress the vote of Canadians; he is also responsible for the Phoenix file, and we all know how that is going. He should be ashamed to say that about 99 MPs who represent nine million people. He rose in the House and dared to say that 99 Canadian MPs want to suppress the vote. That is terrible and nothing but rhetoric.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-04-19 15:57 [p.18567]
Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that the member for Beauce's private member's bill goes to the heart of the parliamentary system. In the 13th century, the capitalist bourgeoisie went to the king to demand a place in an assembly, which became the legislative assembly. Their goal was first and foremost to find out what the king was doing with the money, the bourgeoisie's money, the suppliers' money and the people's money, which had been collected by the bourgeoisie or by agents acting for the king.
It is clear that the Liberals hate reporting to Parliament, because they are trying to hide a $7-billion slush fund in their new 2018-19 budget. I would therefore like the member to tell us a bit about his vision and about how his bill goes to the heart of the parliamentary system and accountability as practised by the capitalist bourgeoisie in the 13th century.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-04-19 16:30 [p.18572]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today. As a Conservative MP, nothing is more important to me than tradition. As tradition would have it, I would like to acknowledge all those who are watching me and those I meet at the community centres, at all the organized events in my riding, or when I go door to door. As always, I am very happy to represent my constituents in the House of Commons.
I would like to wish a good National Volunteer Week to everyone in Beauport, the people of Limoilou, Giffard, Sainte-Odile, and all around the riding. In Beauport, there are more than 2,500 volunteers. It is the Quebec City neighbourhood with the highest number of volunteers. That makes me very proud. Without volunteers, our social costs would be much higher. I commend all those who put their heart and soul into helping their neighbours and so many others.
I would quickly like to go back to some comments made by the Liberal member for Markham—Thornhill. She boasted that the Liberal government is open and transparent. I would like to remind her that our esteemed Prime Minister's trip to the Aga Khan's island was not all that transparent. The commissioner had to examine and report on this trip, in short, do an investigation, to get to the bottom of things. First of all, I think it is outrageous for a sitting prime minister to go south. He should have stayed in Canada as most Canadians do.
Furthermore, the Liberals' tax reform for small and medium-sized businesses was not all that transparent. The objective was to increase the tax rate for all small and medium-sized businesses and to create jobs in Canada, through the back door, by increasing corporate and small business taxes through changes in how dividends and other various financial vehicles are treated.
Then, there were all of the Minister of Finance's dealings. He hid some funds generated by his family firm, Morneau Shepell. We discovered that he hid these funds in a numbered company in Alberta.
Basically, we have a long list of items proving that the government is not all that open and transparent. This list also includes the amendments and changes the Liberals made to the Access to Information Act. The commissioner stated very clearly in black and white that they are going to impede access to information. On top of that, the Liberals refused to give access to information from the Prime Minister's Office, as they promised during the election campaign.
I would still like to talk about the bill brought forward by the member for Beauce, for whom I have a great deal of respect. He is a man of courage and principle. This bill is consistent with his principles. He does not care to see subsidies, handouts, being given to large corporations. With this bill, however, he does not oppose the idea of giving money to businesses to help them out. He said something very simple: the technology partnerships Canada program spent about $3.3 billion. For 200 businesses, that represents $700 million in loans and 45% of cases. The member for Beauce does not oppose those loans; he is simply asking the government to tell us whether those companies have paid back the $700 million, which breaks down into different amounts, for example $800,000, $300,000, or $2 million. If some companies have not paid back those loans, then we can simply tell Canadians that they were actually subsidies, not loans.
I want to get back to what I said during my earlier question. When I was a student at Laval University, I remember naively telling my professor that I would go to Parliament to talk about philosophy, the Constitution, and the great debates of our time. He told me that there would be debates on these types of issues, yes, but fundamentally, what was at the heart of England's 13th century parliamentary system was accountability, namely what was happening with the money.
There is a reason why we spend two months talking about the budget. It is very important. The budget is at the heart of the parliamentary system. I sometimes find it a little annoying. I wonder if we could talk about Constitutional issues, Quebec's distinct society, the courts, politics, and other issues. However, much to my chagrin, we spend most of our time talking about money. There is a valid reason for this: every one of us here represents about 100,000 people, most of whom pay taxes. All of the government's programs, initiatives, and public policies, good or bad, are dynamic and rely on public funds.
In England in the 13th century, bourgeois capitalists went to see the king to tell him that all his warmongering was getting a little expensive. They asked him to create a place where they could talk to him or his representative and find out what he was doing with their money. That was the precise moment in the course of human history when liberal democracy made its first appearance.
Another example of the importance of knowing what is being done with people's money is the American Revolution. This is complicated and could fill many books, but essentially, the American Revolution happened because England was not interested in taxation with representation. The Americans said they had had enough. If taxes on tea—hence, the Tea Party—were going up, they wanted to know what was being done with their money. The only way the Americans could find out what the British were doing with the money was through elected representation of the colonies in the British Parliament. However, the king, in his arrogance, and his British governing council told the colonies to keep quiet and pay their taxes to His Majesty like they were supposed to. Thus ensued the American Revolution.
Such major historical examples demonstrate how accountability is at the very heart of the parliamentary system and liberal democracy, which guarantees the protection of individual rights and freedoms so dear to our Liberals in this place.
Now, this is what I do not understand. The opposition members, whether they belong to the NDP, the Conservative Party, or the Quebec caucus, introduce sensible and fairly simple bills. Why will the government not just admit it and thank them? Not only is it the purpose of Parliament to inform Canadians about what is being done with their money, but the government itself should know what is happening.
The government could use half of the unpaid $700 million to more quickly implement its much-touted social housing program or pharmacare 2020. However, between $400 million and $700 million has not been paid back to the federal government. Thus, it is completely unacceptable and illogical for the Liberals to tell us that this is not a laudable or justifiable bill.
When I came to Parliament, I had the opportunity to work on the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, a very complex committee. It was a bit overwhelming, but I took it very seriously and I did all the reading. That committee just keeps voting on credits for months because it approves all the spending. When I was there, the President of the Treasury Board attended our meetings three times to explain the changes he wanted to make to the main estimates. These were disastrous changes that sought to take away the power of opposition MPs to examine spending vote by vote for over two months. He wanted to cut that time down to about two weeks. It was an attempt on the part of the Liberals to gradually undermine the work and transparency of this democratic institution.
What is more, the Liberals wanted to make major changes that would cut our speaking time in the House of Commons. For heaven's sake. At the time of Confederation, our forefathers sometimes talked for six or seven hours. Now, 20 minutes is too long. For example, today, I have 10 minutes to speak. The Liberals wanted to cut our time down from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. This government never stops trying to cut the opposition's speaking time, and that is not to mention the $7 billion that have still not been allocated.
In short, the bill introduced by the member for Beauce is a laudable bill that goes to the very heart of the principle underlying liberal democracy and the British parliamentary system, that of knowing where taxpayers' money is going.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:12 [p.16624]
Madam Speaker, my colleague from Winnipeg North stated that in the last two years his government had worked so hard to bring about this bill, and to make life better for bureaucrats. However, while the Liberals have worked so hard to put forward the bill, they have not fixed Phoenix. Just this morning we learned that 193,000 bureaucrats in Canada were touched by Phoenix. Some people still do not have any pay. Some people have lost their houses.
How can that colleague say that for the last two years the Liberals have worked hard for bureaucrats to help them in their lives, and yet they have been unable to fix Phoenix? It is outrageous.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:26 [p.16626]
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in this august House for the first time in 2018. We were elected in 2015 and here we are in 2018 already. Life goes so fast. I would like to wish all of the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are tuning in today, a very happy New Year, health, prosperity and happiness. I am very happy to have seen them throughout Parliament’s winter break and during door-to-door events and various activities, including the Christmas gala at my constituency office. I thank them for attending in large numbers.
It is unfortunate that the member across the way has left, but in February 2016, the Gartner report said quite clearly that the Phoenix system had major problems and should not be implemented. The report also featured some important recommendations that would have allowed us to avoid the considerable problems now facing public servants, if only the Liberal government had shown as much wisdom as we have, and followed those recommendations and if it had not given the project the green light in February 2016.
I would like to respond to certain allegations by my Liberal colleagues today, but I must first say that Bill C-62 is an outright abdication by the executive for electoral gains. In 2015, we Conservatives were forced to call an election four months early because the major unions in Canada would not stop making electoral expenditures day after day, week after week, to help either the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party, because those parties had apparently given them what they wanted. They absolutely wanted to defeat the Conservatives and were spending millions of dollars on advertising against us on television, on the radio and in print media. That is why it was the longest election in Canadian history. We were honourable and we had to respond to those daily frontal media attacks from the unions. We therefore triggered the election campaign to be able to use electoral funds ourselves to respond to those attacks.
Without even realizing it, the member for Vaughan—Woodbridge accurately described this bill when he said that his government is working hand-in-hand with the major unions. He could not have said it better. With Bill C-62, the government is not only abdicating its responsibilities to the benefit of big union bosses, who claim to be great leaders who want to protect workers, but it is also returning the favour to the major unions that supported the Liberal Party in 2015 to bring down one of the best governments in the history of Canada. In 10 years, the previous Conservative government got Canada through the biggest economic crisis in world history since the Great Depression in 1929 and 1930. In short, it is shameful that these unions interfered in an election campaign without the support of their members.
Furthermore, I am fed up of hearing our colleague from Winnipeg North portray himself as the paragon of universal virtue, as if the Liberal government was the only one to have good intentions and to work for the well-being of public servants, for Canadians and for humanity. It is completely ridiculous. Every Canadian government, be it Liberal or Conservative, works for the well-being of this country. Will they one day stop harping on about these platitudes, telling us that Conservatives do not work for the well-being of all Canadians or all of humanity? It is utter nonsense, and I am starting to get really fed up. It is extreme arrogance. We respect public servants, and that is why we had two objectives when we introduced Bills C-377 and C-525.
First, we wanted to ensure the sustainability of public service pensions. If there is one thing we can do to show respect for our public servants, who work very hard for Canada, and keep the government apparatus running smoothly, it is to ensure that, when the day comes, they will retire with honour and dignity, and have access to a sustainable, vital pension that really exists.
When we came to power after the era of Paul Martin and the Liberals from 1990 to 2004, we had to face the facts. Not only had millions of sick days been banked, be we could foresee some major deficits in the public service pension fund in the following decades. Together, both of these things threaten not only existing pension funds as they now stand, but also access to these pension funds for any public servant retiring in the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years.
We have so much respect for public servants that we made difficult decisions for them. They are not the executive, the government is. We made decisions to ensure that they could retire with dignity when the time came. That was Bill C-377. There was also Bill C-525 to promote democracy in labour organizations and unions in Canada.
This House is one of the most democratic in the world, if not the most democratic. Is it any wonder that we did everything in our power to further promote democracy within unions?
It is unfathomable that one of the first things the Liberals did after arriving on Parliament Hill was to try to repeal the provision of Bill C-525 that allows for a secret vote at union meetings. There are sometimes thousands of people at union meetings. There is intimidation. There is strong-arming. Things get rowdy. Not all Canadians have the courage to voice their opinion, as they may be afraid of being bullied. Have we not been talking for weeks and months about the many types of bullying in Canadian society? In the world of unions, there is bullying. It is no secret. It is a huge factor.
We were working not only for public servants, but also for workers. We wanted to give them a secret ballot so they could vote transparently and without fear of recrimination to determine the direction of their union leadership and the decisions made.
With the Liberals, we are dealing with a party that is completely blind. It is blind to the sustainability of pension funds in the public sector and sometimes the private sector. It is even blind to the sustainability of insurance for seniors in Canada. We made a decision that I found to be very interesting as a young man. I am now 31 years old and was 27 at the time. We decided to raise the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 to 67. That was probably one of the most courageous decisions for an OECD country, for a G7 country. It was clearly something that needed to be done.
When he was a Bay Street tycoon in Toronto, the Minister of Finance wrote a fantastic book in which he said that this was exactly what needed to be done and that Mr. Harper’s government had made a very good decision.
The member for Winnipeg North should set a better example for all his colleagues. He should stop being arrogant, truly work for public servants, resolve the problems with Phoenix, and stop claiming he has the moral high ground.
We worked for workers with Bill C-525 to give them a secret ballot. We worked with public servants to ensure the sustainability of their pension funds with Bill C-377.
I will close by saying that Bill C-62 is an abdication by the executive in favour of the major unions. The purpose of this bill is to reward them in order to obtain electoral gains in 2019.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:37 [p.16627]
Madam Speaker, democracy entails the competition of interest groups. We would like it to be different, but that is how it works. We have to put interest groups and competition on a level playing field in this country. As much as I respect them, bureaucrats are part of an interest group. Most Canadians will never have the wealth in their life that bureaucrats will have, for example, with their retirement pension, which is amazing. Most Canadians in my riding will not have a retirement pension from the government.
We were executively responsible. We told the unions of the bureaucrats how it was going to work to ensure that a public pension plan would be a household phrase for every Canadian in 40 years, because Canadians put a lot of money into those pension plans. People who work in shops and pizzerias, and only earn 12 bucks an hour, pay for public pensions.
Therefore, we as executives have to make sure it is equitable for all Canadians. That is why we did it, and that is being responsible.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-01 12:38 [p.16627]
Madam Speaker, that is a very good question. The three branches of power in Canada have equal footing with respect to the interpretation of the Constitution, despite what many people might think.
The legislative branch and the executive branch have every constitutional right to decide whether to move forward or act in accordance with the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada. Under the notwithstanding clause, section 33 of the Canadian Constitution, the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada may not be followed. The Jean Chrétien government was skilled at that. When that government disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling, it would bring back a bill and insert a preamble explaining that the Supreme Court had completely misunderstood the purpose of the bill.
For example, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it was unconstitutional to ban tobacco advertising at Montreal's Formula 1 because that infringed on private companies' freedom of expression. The Jean Chrétien government reintroduced the legislation saying that the Supreme Court of Canada had erred in its constitutional interpretation.#
Thus, the legislative branch has the right to ignore the Supreme Court of Canada. Competition between the three branches of power guarantees the constitutional supremacy of our great federation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-20 15:57 [p.13285]
Madam Speaker, it is a beautiful contrast, because it is absurd.
My constituents are extremely unhappy. Just this morning, many of them contacted my office, saying that I had to ask questions about this, that I had to put pressure on the government, and that I had to ensure it changed on its mind on the issue of tax reform. They said that it was extremely bad for the economic well-being of their small and medium-sized enterprises. This party will do everything it has to do to stop the changes.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-18 11:48 [p.13117]
Mr. Speaker, earlier the member pointed out a certain contradiction in the Liberals' approach to border security. My colleague said that the aim of bill C-21 was to protect the safety of Canadians without impeding the flow of trade. However, he also mentioned that the budget for border security had been cut. I would like to know more about these budget cuts and about the border crossings that have been closed.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-18 13:53 [p.13135]
Mr. Speaker, thank you for granting me this speaking time.
On this morning of September 18 I am very happy to be back in the great democratic institution that is the House of Commons. I had an excellent summer. I struck a balance between work, activities, the office, and my family. My little six-month old son is becoming more and more aware of life around him. I am very happy to be back to discuss the many issues that concerned our offices this summer, as we saw in the media. Canada's official opposition and myself believe that, as usual, this government acted or reacted poorly to these many issues.
I also want to begin by extending my deepest condolences to the family of the hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt. This is certainly a tremendous loss for the family. I have been a father for four years and I cannot imagine how painful this must be for his wife and children. We have also lost a great parliamentarian and hon. member here. It is a huge loss to Canadian democracy, but especially to his family. I wanted to say that and extend my condolences.
Today, we are discussing Bill C-21,an act to amend the Customs Act. I would like to get things started by explaining what constitutes a border for any country or administration. A border is not just something that goods, services, and people cross over. A border is also the ultimate symbol of our national sovereignty and the tangible presence of its protection. In our case, it is the sovereignty of the Canadian federation we are talking about.
This sovereignty is guaranteed by our institutions, of course, as well as by law enforcement, our democratic representatives, and Canadians who go to work every day. Before all of that, however, one can say that it is guaranteed by our borders. How does sovereignty benefit us? It ensures the security of Canadians, as well as their prosperity. Indeed, it is thanks to our sovereignty that we can make our own choices on political, social, and economic issues.
I respect the subject of the debate. In case there could be any doubt, that was my introduction.
Sovereignty guarantees the democratic space we need in Canada. I recently heard a philosopher talking about the importance of the sovereignty of today's borders. We live in an age where certain small groups would have us believe, through a narrow ideological vision, that national sovereignty should not exist, that it is a challenge that must be overcome, that it is in decline and that we live in an increasingly borderless world.
According to that philosopher, whose name escapes me, borders that ensure sovereignty definitely ensure our democracy because no rights of any kind can survive if they are not attached to the democratic institutions that enforce those rights. That is one of the reasons why, when it comes to international relations, it would be anarchy, pure and simple. No institution exists at the international level that has that authority and could enforce those rights. In Canada, however, our rights are guaranteed first and foremost by the House of Commons, the Supreme Court of Canada and by cabinet or the executive. If not for borders, none of that would be possible.
In his speech, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness criticized certain things that are in fact quite important. Some 400,000 people cross the Canada-U.S. border every day, which is a huge number, not to mention all the other nationalities. Two billion dollars worth of trade flows between Canada and the United States every day. Given that reality, we began putting this bill together. I hope to have the opportunity to tell the House more about it after question period.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-18 15:56 [p.13169]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see you in the chair again, guiding our democratic exchanges in the House.
I began my speech before question period. Having used up six minutes, I now have four left. In the first part of my speech, I explored the notion of borders from various perspectives: security, trafficking, trade, and the need for some to commute between various countries, in our case Canada and the United States.
As a certain philosopher whose name escapes me once said, borders guarantee a country's sovereignty. It can then be said that they guarantee our Canadian democracy, because in order to be enforced, rights must rest upon institutional foundations, foundations that can only be guaranteed within the borders of a sovereign state that has institutions such as the House of Commons, for instance.
The purpose of Bill C-21, which the Minister of Public Safety introduced on June 15, 2016, in this House, is to amend the Customs Act. Let me remind my colleagues that the whole content of this bill comes from the beyond the border action plan, introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011. The general aim of that plan was to address any emerging threats to the Canada-U.S. border; to promote trade, which makes for continuous economic growth and job creation; to have an integrated cross-border law enforcement; and to establish critical infrastructure for cybersecurity, a need that keeps growing over the years as new technologies become more important in our daily lives and our institutions.
In my view, this bill was put forward in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Americans wanted to address the concerns of their fellow citizens about security in North America, which is quite natural. In fact, the goal is still the same. As good partners, we not only wanted to address the concerns of Canadians regarding their security, but we also wanted to be good economic, military, and social partners with the United States. We still want that today. Therefore, we began discussions about border security in good faith and with an open mind.
That being said, it was imperative for us, Canadians, to ensure the continuity of trade flow. That is what is difficult to maintain with this type of bill. As my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, our critic on this file, mentioned, this bill is intended to finally respond to the threat of terrorism. However, how can we achieve this while ensuring the continued free flow of goods?
We believe the government has accepted the main points we presented in 2011, which is quite interesting. However, this government still has many questions to answer about this bill. Will there be new infrastructure costs related to carrying out the inspection of outgoing people or goods? What measures have been put in place by this government to protect privacy and ensure that the collection of any new entry and exit data is carried out in a secure manner? How will this bill affect those people who enter Canada at unofficial entry points, as we saw this summer in Manitoba and Quebec? Finally, how is this issue reflected in our trade negotiations with the United States at this time, and will all Canadians benefit from these changes?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-18 16:02 [p.13170]
Madam Speaker, at the end of my speech, among other things I asked what careful steps the government intended to take in order to protect the privacy of Canadians.
Clearly, that is one of my concerns. This bill may deal with sensitive matters, but it is absolutely essential. The Americans want to strengthen border security, but we would like trade to remain unimpeded. That said, with regards to the issue raised by the member for Sherbrooke of the privacy of people going abroad, the Canadian government can already access their information today. Peoples' passports get stamped when they visit other countries. This bill will make it so that information is available automatically and will also give us useful tools to deal with certain issues that may not be raised today, EI for instance.
Imagine someone that is drawing EI benefits and should be actively looking for work but instead is travelling in some tropical paradise, or in the United States. This legislation would let the authorities know automatically, and the information could then be relayed to the appropriate department. It would also allow us to interrogate the individual in order to better understand the specifics of the case and why they would be looking for work outside the country.
The member asks an excellent question. I do believe that we should make sure that the government specifies how it intends to protect privacy in the digital age.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-18 16:04 [p.13170]
Madam Speaker, that is indeed a great concern. This morning, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles asked the minister that same question, but he did not answer. In fact, he said that cannabis cannot be brought across the border, but we knew that already.
What the member was saying is that customs officers at the U.S. border can assume that half of all those crossing the border may have consumed cannabis in Canada, if it is legal. That is if this ever comes to pass because many promises have been broken so far. How are U.S. customs officers going to deal with this situation? Is this going to prevent some of our businesspeople from doing business in the United States? There are all sorts of questions and concerns.
This gives me the chance to say today that there are some international treaties having to do with cannabis that the Prime Minister should have already abolished. He has yet to do so. He is behind on all these files and is pushing the provinces forward without any clarification. As such, the government has to act as quickly as possible and explain what is going on.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-19 11:16 [p.12874]
Mr. Speaker, I know it is very honourable to present a bill and I understand it is a private member's bill, but certainly, with all due respect to the member, we must not have read the same bill, because he stated twice—not once, but twice—that the bill would reduce red tape. However, on the contrary, small and medium-sized enterprises would now have to produce a report to the minister that specifies the community benefit, and it is to his discretion concerning which benefits there will be.
Can the member explain to me how he can actually see the bill as a reduction of red tape when it is contrary to what is in the bill?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-19 11:21 [p.12875]
Mr. Speaker, I will continue this debate in French. I wish to inform you that Her Majesty's official opposition will oppose this private member's bill and vote against it.
I hate to rain on anyone's parade, and I know the bill sponsor is not going to like this, but we will be voting against the bill for some eminently sensible reasons that I will explain.
I would like to comment on the member for Brampton Centre's speech. The government's role is to allow everyone to compete. When it grants contracts to third parties, parties outside the government, such as small and medium-sized businesses, big businesses, and organizations, it must ensure that RFPs are written so as to maximize everyone's opportunity. That means minimizing paperwork and constraints, which can be obstacles for some small and medium-sized businesses that want to bid. In Canada, such businesses have fewer resources than large construction companies, for example.
The member said the bill would provide flexibility in granting contracts. That is ironic, because the opposite is true. This bill will make the RFP process, which is open to everyone, more cumbersome.
He also said that this would help communities. I only wish that were the case, but after reading the bill, which contains almost no details and consists of only one page and three clauses, I can find no indication that any assistance will be provided to communities. What will happen, however, is that small and medium-sized businesses will be subject to greater constraints and more red tape. I would like to believe the member when he says he wants to help Canadian communities and municipalities, but that is not at all what the bill appears to do. I say this with some reservation, since that is my interpretation, although it is also how the opposition sees it.
In addition, speaking of economic benefits for local communities, the member referred to the Olympic Village in Vancouver. That was one of the largest projects undertaken in Canada in recent years, and it is hardly the kind of local benefits our colleague was referring to in his bill, in other words, infrastructure such as bridges and so on. The Olympic Village in Vancouver was a megaproject involving huge Canadian corporations that are accustomed to being very efficient and getting sizable returns. They have good relationships with the government and are capable of meeting project deadlines, as was the case for the Olympic Games.
Vancouver's Olympic Village was in fact the worst example that the member could have used to illustrate how his bill would benefit the community, or at least help small businesses.
The member said not once, but twice that this bill would cut down on paperwork and red tape and reduce the number of forms small businesses have to fill; that was the point of the question I asked him. In fact, the opposite is true. The specific focus of the bill is to now make small businesses fill out a form for the minister; the community benefits will therefore be at his discretion. The very purpose of the bill is to create paperwork. It is an incredible thing to say that it will cut red tape.
That was my introduction.
Last week, during my speech on the 2017 budget, I said that the purpose of most of the Liberal bills introduced over the past two years has been to benefit certain special interest groups.
These bills are not introduced for the benefit of Canadians in general, that is, all individual Canadians, but rather to help special interest groups. I believe Bill C-344 to be a prime example of this government’s legislative proclivity.
I would also like to remind members how the bill came to be. It was first introduced by the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship as Bill C-227. It was then dropped from the Order Paper a few months ago, after the member was appointed to cabinet, only to return to it later.
The member said that this bill was significant, fundamental and necessary for Canada in that it will allow communities to make their needs known given the expected benefits of a given project. If that were the case, why is this not a bill that the government would want to introduce? Why is it not a government bill?
While I can appreciate that this is not within the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’s portfolio, why did he not bring this bill forward as quickly as possible? This could have been settled a few months ago. If this were such an effective and important bill, it could have been passed months ago.
The fact that the Liberals removed this bill from the Order Paper and then put it back shows that they likely thought it was inconsequential since there is not much to it. They probably figured that they would just hand it over to some MP so that he could introduce a bill. I know how it goes. It is good to give hon. members the chance to introduce bills, but this bill is essentially going to harm small and medium-sized businesses.
Let me get into the technical details of the bill before it is too late. We in the opposition have identified some problems. There are no criteria in this bill for how small and medium-sized businesses are to respond to the minister's mandatory assessment. There are no criteria, directives, guidelines, or substantive information in this bill indicating precisely how SMEs have to fill out the form.
There is no indication of the criteria, the length of the form, or whether anthropologists and sociologists will have to analyze every little spinoff from the project, whether environmental, economic, or social. What is more, subclause 21.1(1) of the bill states:
...any other specific benefit identified by the community.
I think we can all agree that this could have a major impact on what could be required of small and medium-sized businesses when they fill out the form. For example, if a municipality decides to assess the community benefits for a certain historic group, such as indigenous people, the input of anthropologists and historians will certainly be required. Just imagine if a small or medium-sized business in Toronto, for example, where the member is from, was required to hire anthropologists and sociologists before building a bridge. That is completely ridiculous.
Another problem is that it is left up to the minister's discretion whether a form explaining the community benefits will need to be filled out. The minister will also decide whether or not to present the report on community benefits to Parliament. The bill cannot be that serious if the minister can choose not to apply its provisions. The bill states:
A contracting party shall, upon request by the Minister, provide the Minister with an assessment as to whether community benefits have derived from the project.
I will close by mentioning the worst part, which is that the minister could request a report on the community benefits after the bids have already been submitted and after the SME has already finished the work. However, we know that contracting parties need to have a good idea of how much things will cost before work begins. What the government is telling them is that, after the work is done, they may have to meet other requirements that will cost them more money.
This is a truly a bad piece of legislation as it now stands. It must be sent to committee or even killed because it is just a source of red tape and does not contain any clear directions.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-08 19:08 [p.12349]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this subject this evening. In fact, just this morning, I attended a meeting of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, where the President of the Treasury Board appeared as a witness to answer questions on the use of vote 1c. Since November 4, 2015, the salaries of ministers of state have been increased under vote 1c so that they earn the same as portfolio ministers who have deputy ministers and hundreds of public servants working for them.
I will explain later why the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates and the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance are concerned about this.
I am increasingly disheartened by this government because it seems that, today in the House, we should not be talking about Bill C-24, which seeks to realize one of the federal government's unattainable fantasies. Instead, we should be talking about our duty as citizens, what we can do for our country, what we can do tomorrow morning to improve our community, what we can do to further honour our men and women in uniform, and how each of us can serve their country.
We could talk about regional fairness, since Bill C-24 deals with these kinds of discussions, as the Liberals decided to abolish ministers representing Canada’s various economic regions—Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia, and the territories.
We could also talk about wealth creation. The Liberal government likes to go on and on about working for the well-being of the middle class. I have a problem with that, because we should instead be talking about wanting to make life better for all Canadians. I do not know why the government insists on focusing only on one class instead of talking about all Canadians. What I liked about the Right Hon. Stephen Harper is that he would always talk about all Canadian families. He did not talk just about only one social class.
That said, I am duty bound to oppose this bill today, and instead of talking about civic duty and serving one's country, I will speak to you about C-24.
Bill C-24 seeks to elevate ministers of state, some of whom do not have a portfolio or a department, to the same status as ministers who oversee an actual department with thousands of employees, deputy ministers, and teams of hundreds of officials, and all the real estate that goes with it. These are the real departments, National Defence, Public Services and Procurement, Transport, the list goes on. There are 25 actual departments, give or take.
They want to give the same minister’s salary to those who do not have drivers or real responsibilities; they want to give them the same salary as traditional cabinet ministers.
It is ironic because Bill C-24 would create eight new ministerial positions, including three “mystery” ministers, whose duties, objectives and responsibilities are not yet known. The bill would eliminate the positions of six ministers representing the regions; now, there is only one minister representing Toronto with a population of seven million; it is huge and that is a major responsibility. He will be the one now representing the Acadian people, the Acadian peninsula and their concerns about the fishery, lobster and crab. It does not make any sense.
Bill C-24 would also amend the Salaries Act, which is a good initiative. The government wants to correct a mistake in parliamentary law, or rather change parliamentary law so that it need not be in breach of it.
The very honourable senator Mr. Smith, chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, contacted me to bring the problem to my attention so I could raise it with the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The government is using the supplementary estimates to pay the additional salaries of ministers of state, when the parliamentary rules tell us that there are three reasons for why we must not do that.
For example, Beauchesne, paragraph 935, refers to page 8601 of the Debates of March 25, 1981:
A supply item ought not to be used to obtain authority which is the subject of legislation.
Then paragraph 937 refers to page 10546 of the Debates of June 12, 1981:
The government may not by use of an Appropriation Act obtain authority it does not have under existing legislation.
This is what the government is trying to do today. It is trying to use us to obtain an authority it does not have under the Salaries Act. Lastly, paragraph 941 refers to pages 94 and 95 of the Debates of February 5, 1973:
If a Vote in the Estimates relates to a bill not yet passed by Parliament, then the authorizing bill must become law before the authorization of the relevant Vote in the Estimates by an Appropriation Act.
Therefore, parliamentary rules tell us that ministers of state in the Prime Minister’s Office should not have gotten a pay increase effective November 4, 2015. They should not have had it until Bill C-24 was officially adopted. It will not be adopted by us Conservatives, but by the majority Liberals. Good for them!
The senators put it down in black and white:
Our committee is concerned about the recurrent practice of using supplementary estimates to pay certain ministers' salaries prior to the enactment of amendments to the Salaries Act, and raises this question in the context of Bill C-24.
A Senate committee has been studying these issues for several months and spending a lot more time on it than the House of Commons.
When it comes to parity, the Liberals like to implement government policies that fit with their ideology and how they think the world should be, but some of their actions may have unintended consequences that they do not even see because they are so blinded by their ideology.
They say they want a gender-balanced cabinet, but, having given the matter considerable thought, I have come to the conclusion that this ideal could have a very unfortunate unintended consequence. If we say that cabinet must be gender-balanced, this means that there will never be a cabinet with a majority of women, yet we have seen plenty of cabinets with a majority of men over the past 150 years. Now we are telling women that they will never be in the majority in cabinet regardless of their skills, their beliefs, and their political strengths. No, now we must have parity, 50-50.
I would even add that this means cabinet will never be less than 50% male. What a paradox. They say the goal is to protect and expand women's rights, but if we examine this from a political and philosophical perspective, it looks more like a way to rein in women's progress in the political arena. Is that not an interesting thought?
Instead of talking about parity in cabinet, since I have just shown that it is nothing more than a pipe dream that actually hurts the advancement of women in cabinet, we should be talking about parity for the founding peoples. That is what is important in Canada: French Canadians, English Canadians, the fact that Quebec has still not signed the constitution, and the fact that there are demands coming from all sides, whether in the west, which has reforms it would like to see, in the maritime provinces, or in Quebec. We should be talking about parity in our country in terms of English and French culture and making sure that everyone is comfortable in the constitutional environment. Instead, we are stuck talking about a bill that is meant to correct a mistake borne of blind ideological fervour.
What I find increasingly deplorable is this government saying it is objective and bases what it does on scientific facts.
First, it is an arrogant thing to say, because it suggests the party previously in government was not. The truth is that the Liberals themselves are so fixated on their own ideology that it is preventing them from acknowledging some of the significant impacts of their legislation.
Ultimately, I would like to say that, ideology aside, the Liberals cannot pay ministers higher salaries before the bill is passed, and yet, that is what they have been doing for the past two years, which is no laughing matter.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-08 19:19 [p.12351]
Mr. Speaker, the question of privilege existed even before the creation of Canada. Without privilege in this chamber, without the secure fact of accessing this chamber, we cannot even start thinking about helping our communities. We are here first and foremost to represent our constituents, but the question of privilege is never a question that takes time for no reason. It is fundamental. It is in the convention. It is in the history of Canada and our great parliamentary tradition from Britain.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-08 19:20 [p.12351]
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, what the member does not say is that the privilege question of two of our members here on the Conservative side of the chamber was part of a build-up of frustration, because the government has treated the opposition basically like garbage.
The Liberals tried to repeat the same thing they did last year with Motion No. 6. They tried to cut the speaking time. The forefathers of this country were speaking for three hours here sometimes, every member, but the Liberals said 10 minutes was way too much. Can members believe that? What is the goal of being here if we cannot even speak 10 minutes? That was the situation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-06-08 19:22 [p.12351]
Mr. Speaker, certainly my constituents feel that the Liberals have been given enough blank cheques already.
Again, the member over there spoke about respect, that we took too many days to speak about a question of privilege, which is terrible to say. The Liberals say they respect us, but they say we should just sign on to a bill that would create new ministries that they do not want to tell us about yet. They want us to vote on the bill, but they do not want to tell us exactly what is going on. This is how much respect they have for us. This is how much respect they have had for us for two years now, which is why we came to that situation in March, April, and May, and that is why we are sitting until midnight tonight.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-05-30 22:16 [p.11717]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary an objective question. This is not a party line.
I read some newspaper articles reporting that there had been negative effects in Colorado. The health of young people and moral issues aside, it seems that motor vehicle accidents are costing the Colorado government a lot of money.
I would like to know whether the parliamentary secretary has an opinion on what is happening in Colorado. Without getting into health or moral issues, what is the government's opinion on the objective facts, such as the costs associated with road accidents?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-02-07 11:32 [p.8551]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate having the opportunity to speak this morning. I will be sharing my time with the member for Richmond Centre.
Like the members who have already spoken today, I want to talk about Bill C-36, which is meant to strengthen Statistics Canada's independence. Together, we will look at whether this bill can achieve that official objective because it might also have unofficial objectives.
I think it would be useful to explain to our constituents, including the wonderful people of Beauport—Limoilou, that Statistics Canada was created in 1971 because the federal government has a duty to collect and compile statistics on Canada and its people. Its duty is right there in the law that sets out the federal government's responsibilities. Statistics are therefore under federal jurisdiction. Even provincial statistics are within the agency's purview.
Statistics Canada has been serving Canadians for 40 years. It has produced many studies that I am sure have formed the basis for many of Canada's public policies. Those studies have led to positive outcomes for all Canadians.
In our Liberal democracy, data are extremely important. I used data when I was studying political science, and I use them now in my day-to-day work.
Statistics Canada seeks to produce statistics on the country's populations, resources, economy, society, and culture. Statistics Canada is currently conducting over 300 studies, which will provide us with objective information that will help us make informed decisions while ensuring that the source of that information, the everyday lives of our fellow Canadians, is kept confidential.
I use these data in my capacity as an MP and so do my employees. The data are also used by businesses, universities, and scientists. They are used by the parties to determine their political platforms so that, when a party wins the election and takes office, it can develop informed public policies.
What does Bill C-36 do exactly? After reading the bill, my understanding is that it makes changes to four key areas.
First, the chief statistician would be appointed for a fixed term of five years, renewable for good behaviour and removable only for cause by the Governor in Council. That seems commendable. Although it is not the bill's intention, the chief statistician would nonetheless be authorized to choose where the statistical data would be stored. We think that could be problematic since the government gave the new Canadian statistics advisory council its name and so it obviously expects that council to advise the chief statistician.
Second, the bill provides for the creation of a new Canadian statistics advisory council made up of 10 members. It would replace the National Statistics Council, which currently has 13 members. I will come back to this later since it seems that this change will negatively impact provincial and territorial representation.
Third, under the bill, the consent of Canadians will no longer be required to transfer their census information to Library and Archives Canada.
Fourth, the bill will remove the penalty of imprisonment for Canadians who fail to fill out the census forms, a change that we strongly support.
I would like to say that one of our Conservative colleagues in the previous Parliament, Mr. Preston, had brought forward a bill to repeal the penalty of imprisonment for all surveys. Unfortunately, the bill did not receive royal assent before the writ was dropped.
Obviously, we support this aspect of the bill given that we wanted to make this change.
I will now speak to our position on this bill. We want to debate it in the House and vote to send it to committee for more in-depth study in order to make some amendments. In particular, we find that it is very important to amend the provisions of the bill that would change the National Statistics Council to the Canadians Statistics Advisory Council, a body with 10 members instead of 13.
We believe that this new advisory council would give the Liberals another opportunity to appoint their cronies. We have another concern. Since the council will provide advice about relevance, the surveys could be biased towards the Liberals and even friends of the council.
We find it hard to understand why the government must establish a new council rather than just revising the mandate of the current National Statistics Council, which currently has 13 members representing the 10 provinces and three territories.
Much like we did during the debate on the selection of the next Supreme Court of Canada justice, we voiced our grave concerns regarding the importance of ensuring strong representation from all regions of Canada on the Supreme Court.
Because the council is going to have only 10 members instead of 13, we find ourselves debating the issue through the lens of defending the federation. Obviously, the representation of three jurisdictions in Canada will have to be cut from the council. Does this mean that three of the 10 provinces will no longer be represented on the new council, or have the Liberals decided that the three Canadian territories, that is, Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, will no longer be represented? In either case, whether representation on the council is taken away from three provinces or the three territories, we think it is appalling.
As I said earlier, the mission of Canada's statistics agency is to provide information to Canadians, particularly for the development of sound public policies with objectives based on reliable hard facts. At present, the council that is supposed to support the work of the chief statistician so that he can effectively run the agency will not have the support of people who understand the realities of the provinces and territories.
Furthermore, the bill does nothing to address the concerns raised by Mr. Smith, the former chief statistician. He resigned last summer after voicing his concerns, which are being ignored. When he appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on November 16, 2016, Mr. Smith shared his three main concerns with us. This first was this:
...Shared Services Canada represented a major and unacceptable intrusion on the independence of Statistics Canada.
His second concern was as follows:
...the arrangement with Shared Services Canada imposed on Statistics Canada was inconsistent with the confidentiality guarantees given by the Statistics Act to persons and organizations providing information to Statistics Canada for statistical purposes.
His third concern was:
...dependence on Shared Services Canada was hobbling Statistics Canada in its day-to-day operations, reducing effectiveness, increasing costs, and creating unacceptable levels of risk to the delivery of Statistics Canada's programs.
The former chief statistician says he was not satisfied with the government's response to his concerns. I get the impression that this new bill does not fare much better.
For all these reasons, we hope that during review in committee, the government will accept our key amendments.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-02-07 11:43 [p.8553]
Mr. Speaker, when I saw my colleague here today, I knew he would be the first to ask a question.
The bill states right there in black and white that its purpose is to strengthen the independence of Statistics Canada and give the chief statistician more tools with which to exercise that independence. We should, however, look at the Liberal Party's record on this issue so far. Its chief statistician resigned last summer, and its bill does not address Mr. Smith's concerns.
Mr. Smith would appear to be in a better position than the government to ascertain what Statistics Canada needs. The government's response to the needs he expressed is inadequate. I would like the government to explain how its bill will address the chief statistician's concerns.
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