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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-30 20:38 [p.19956]
Mr. Speaker, I really appreciated the speech by my colleague from Calgary Shepard, who adroitly set out to deconstruct that worn-out Liberal platitude about the environment and the economy going hand in had. It is patently obvious that they do, because we human beings come from the environment, our resources come from the environment, and the economy comes from the environment.
The economy is both a process and a product of the environment we live in. The resources we export, such as oil, are natural resources that come from the environment. The Liberals' platitude is purely political PR.
As I recall, under the Conservative government, we did not sweet-talk anyone. We took concrete action that produced excellent results. For example, we reduced Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by 2% while we grew the GDP by 16%.
I would like the member for Calgary Shepard to tell us more about the strides our government made on both the environmental and economic fronts.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-30 20:43 [p.19956]
Mr. Speaker, here we are in the House, on Wednesday, May 30, at 8:45. I should mention that it is 8:45 p.m., for the many residents of Beauport—Limoilou who I am sure are tuning in. To all my constituents, good evening.
We are debating this evening because the Liberal government tabled very few significant government bills over the winter. Instead, they tabled an astounding number of private members' bills on things like swallows' day and beauty month. Sometimes my colleagues and I can hardly help laughing at this pile of utterly trivial bills. I also think that this process of randomly selecting the members who get to table bills is a bit past its prime. Maybe it should be reviewed. At the same time, I understand that it is up to each member to decide what kind of bill is important to him or her.
The reason we have had to sit until midnight for two days now is that, as my colleague from Perth—Wellington said, the government has been acting like a typical university student over the past three months. That comparison is a bit ridiculous, but it is true. The government is behaving like those students who wait until the last minute to do their assignments and are still working on them at 3 a.m. the day before they are due because they were too busy partying all semester. Members know what I mean, even though that paints a rather stereotypical picture of students; most of them do not do things like that.
In short, we have a government that, at the end of the session, has realized that time is running out and that it only has three weeks left to pass some of its legislative measures, some of which are rather lengthy bills that are key to the government's legislative agenda. One has to wonder about that.
The Liberals believe these bills to be important. However, because of their lack of responsibility over the past three months, we were unable to debate these major bills that will make significant changes to our society. Take for example, Bill C-76, which has to do with the electoral reforms that the Liberals want to make to the voting system, the way we vote, protection of the vote, and identification. There is also Bill C-49 on transportation in Canada, a very lengthy bill that we have not had time to examine properly.
Today we are debating Bill C-57 on sustainable development. This is an important topic, but for the past three years I have been getting sick and tired of seeing the Liberal government act as though it has a monopoly on environmental righteousness. I searched online to get an accurate picture of the record of Mr. Harper's Conservative government from 2006 to 2015, and I came across some fascinating results. I want to share this information very honestly with the House and my Liberal colleagues so that they understand that even though we did not talk incessantly about the environment, we achieved some excellent concrete results.
I want to read a quote from www.mediaterre.org, a perfectly legitimate site:
Stephen Harper's Canadian government released its 2007 budget on March 19. The budget allocated $4.5 billion in new investments to some 20 environmental projects. These measures include a $2,000 rebate for all electronic-vehicle or alternative-fuel purchases, and the creation of a $1.5-billion EcoTrust program to help provinces reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Liberals often criticize us for talking about the environment, but we did take action. For example, we set targets. We proposed reducing emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. The Liberals even retained these same targets as part of the Paris agreement.
They said we had targets, but no plan. That is not true. Not only did we have the $1.5-billion ecotrust program, but we also had a plan that involved federal co-operation.
Allow me to quote the premier of Quebec at the time, Jean Charest, who was praising the plan that was going to help Quebec—his province, my province—meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Jean Charest and Mr. Harper issued a joint press release.
Mr. Harper said, “Canada's New Government is investing to protect Canadians from the consequences of climate change, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.” He was already recognizing it in 2007.
Mr. Charest said, “In June 2006, our government adopted its plan to combat climate change. This plan has been hailed as one of the finest in North America. With Ottawa contributing financially to this Quebec initiative, we will be able to achieve our objectives.”
It was Mr. Charest who said that in 2007, at a press conference with the prime minister.
I will continue to read the joint press release from the two governments, “As a result of this federal funding, the Government of Quebec has indicated that it will be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide or equivalent below its anticipated 2012 level.”
What is more, the $1.5-billion ecotrust that was supposed to be allocated and was allocated to every province provided $339 million to Quebec alone. That was going to allow Quebec to engage in the following: investments to improve access to new technologies for the trucking sector; a program to develop renewable energy sources in rural regions; a pilot plant for production of cellulosic ethanol; promotion of geothermal heat pumps in the residential sector; support for technological research and innovation for the reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases. This is probably one of those programs that is helping us make our oil sands increasingly environmentally friendly by allowing us to capture the carbon that comes from converting the sands to oil. There are also measures for the capture of biogas from landfill sites, for waste treatment and energy recovery, and finally for Canada ecotrust.
I invite our Liberal colleagues to listen to what I am going to say. In 2007, Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace said the following: “We are pleased to see that after negotiating for more than a year, Quebec has finally obtained the money it needs to move towards meeting the Kyoto targets.”
Who made it possible for Quebec to move towards meeting its Kyoto objectives? It was the Harper government, a Conservative government, which established the $1.5-billion ecotrust fund in 2007 with monies from the budget surplus.
Not only did we have a plan to meet the targets we proposed, but this was also a plan that could only be implemented if the provinces agreed to the targets. It was a plan that was funded through the budget surplus, that did not further tax Canadians, and that provided money directly, without any conditions, other than the fundamental requirement that it had to help reduce climate change, which was philosophically important. Any and all measures taken to reach that goal were left entirely to the discretion of the provinces.
Mr. Harper, like a good Conservative who supported decentralization and like a true federalist leader, said that he was giving $400 million to each province so it could move forward with its plan.
By 2015, after 10 years of Conservative government, the country had not only weathered the worst economic crisis, the worst recession in history since the 1930s, but it had also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2% and increased the gross domestic product for all Canadians while lopping three points off the GST and lowering income taxes for families with two children by an average of $2,000 per year.
If that is not co-operative federalism, if those are not real results, if that is not a concrete environmental plan, then I do not know what is. Add to that the fact that we achieved royal assent for no less than 25 to 35 bills every session.
In contrast, during this session, in between being forced to grapple with scandals involving the carbon tax, illegal border crossings, and the Trans Mountain project, this government has barely managed to come up with four genuinely important bills.
By contrast, we expanded parks and protected Canada's wetlands. Our environmental record is exceptional.
Furthermore, we allowed debate. For example, we debated Bill C-23 on electoral reform for four days. The Liberals' electoral reform was debated for two hours.
I am sad, but I am happy to debate until midnight because debating is my passion.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-30 20:55 [p.19958]
Mr. Speaker, day after day, the government is revealing itself to be a poor manager for our country. Politics, arguments, and ideologies aside, the Canadian Constitution calls for peace, order, and good government. In this Parliament, we can be comforted by the fact that, at the very least, there is peace and order. However, there certainly is not good governance.
Day after day, the Liberals face national crises, sometimes of their own making, and their solutions are almost behind the times. They are unable to balance the budget in a reasonable time, as they promised.
What I particularly liked about the Conservative government, and what I will like about the future 2019 Conservative government, is that it had the political courage to speak the truth and take real action.
Today, we are talking about the environment, and I have a theory. I am sure that the Paris Agreement, which is much more practical and effective, exists because Mr. Harper had the courage to withdraw from the Kyoto protocol before all the international elite. Everyone knew that the Kyoto protocol was not working. There were useless meetings where the international elite set completely unrealistic objectives, when meanwhile all the countries knew full well that they would never achieve those greenhouse gas reduction targets.
Canada was the first and only country to have the courage to say that the Kyoto protocol was not working and that it needed to be updated. It was the only country that had the courage to withdraw. The Paris Agreement and its reduction targets of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 exist primarily because of the Conservative government and the $1.5-billion ecotrust it created in 2007, which was a real and tangible example of federal co-operation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-30 20:59 [p.19958]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague could not be more right. The government has yet to propose to Canadians how it is going to respond to the fiscal reform related to the presidency of Mr. Trump, which has already had a great impact on us. I have read the National Post and The Globe and Mail in the last month, and most experts have been telling us that Canada's competitiveness has decreased drastically in the last several months.
We learned yesterday that not only is the government not responding to the fiscal reform being implemented in the U.S., but it is sending $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to a Texas-based company, Kinder Morgan. We have all known the story, of course, since yesterday.
Worse than that, in the autumn session, the government tried to impose fiscal reform that would tax our small and medium-sized enterprises more and more. I am sure that the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola is very concerned about that because he is the critic for small and medium-sized enterprises. It is a fiasco, and the government does not know how to deal with it, either domestically or internationally.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
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
2018-04-19 15:57 [p.18591]
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.18596]
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
2018-03-20 13:21 [p.17750]
Madam Speaker, first of all, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the very honourable and very competent member for Mégantic—L'Érable, a beautiful riding that has a beautiful lake I swam in a few years ago. As I always do, I would also like to say hello to the many residents of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening to us today and those I meet in my travels, whether I am going door to door or attending events at community centres and so on.
Today I want to talk about the stark realities of budget 2018. I would like to draw a parallel to the disastrous trip to India that my constituents have been upset about and have been talking about so much in recent weeks. This trip was not out of character for this government. The trip was ill-defined and achieved virtually nothing, other than having the Prime Minister dress up in ridiculous costumes—ridiculous only because it was the Prime Minister wearing them. The clothes themselves are not ridiculous; what is ridiculous is the fact that the Prime Minister of Canada wore them instead of wearing the type of clothing he should be wearing to such international meetings. He toured around India making a mockery of the office of Prime Minister, and he was the laughingstock of the international press. He then returned home after announcing hardly anything to Canadians.
This trip pretty much reflects how this government acts every day in the House. It is also exactly like budget 2018: a political agenda with no substance, with page after page of lofty words, and void of any concrete measures.
The Liberals and the Prime Minister, the hon. member for Papineau, brag about forming a government that is not cynical, that will put democracy back on track, that is more transparent, and that wants to restore Canadians' trust in the political system. In my opinion, one of the best ways to restore Canadians' trust is keep the most basic of promises. Not only have the Liberals broken key promises, such as changing the voting system, but they have also broken basic, structural promises that they made with their hands on their hearts in 2015.
The Prime Minister promised to run annual deficits of no more than $10 billion. He also said that in 2018, the deficit would not exceed $6 billion. Less than two weeks ago, the government announced that the deficit for 2018-19 is $18 billion, three times the amount that was promised during the 2015 campaign.
The second broken promise is just as important. The Liberals promised a return to a balanced budget by 2020. As my dear colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent always says in a delightful turn of phrase, never has a Canadian government ever run a deficit outside wartime, such as during the Second World War, or outside a major economic crisis, like the one we went through when Mr. Harper was leading the government. He was a great prime minister, by the way.
The Prime Minister is running major deficits and has no plan to return to a balanced budget, even though our economy is in a favourable position compared to most countries around the world. I will get into this economic situation a bit later. It is unbelievable.
Here is what the parliamentary budget officer thinks about it, as reported by the QMI Agency:
...Canada's fiscal watchdog notes that the federal government's vagueness about [balancing the budget] conflicts with the objectives set out in the mandate letter of finance minister Bill Morneau.
The PBO also notes that the mandate letter from the Prime Minister explicitly asks the minister to ensure “that our fiscal plan is sustainable by meeting our fiscal anchors of balancing the budget in 2019/20 and continuing to reduce the federal debt-to-GDP ratio throughout our mandate”.
Lastly, the article states:
However, in its 2016 budget, Ottawa abandoned its intention of reaching a zero deficit in 2019-20.
Ottawa confirmed two weeks ago that not only will a balanced budget not be reached this year, but it will certainly not be reached by 2023, or by 2045, based on forecasts.
As for infrastructure, it is the biggest joke of all. It is unbelievable. After the election, the government bragged about implementing the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history, a $180-billion program.
I am not the one saying this. Barely a week ago, the parliamentary budget officer said that only $10 billion had been released so far. The media has been covering this story for last few days, thank heaven. All the billions of dollars that should be spent on infrastructure by 2019 will be delayed until 2022, 2023, and 2024.
I will come back to balancing the budget and to deficits. When the Prime Minister promised deficits of no more than $10 billion a year, he brazenly insisted that these deficits were for infrastructure, not for international relations, or for climate change in third-world countries, or for endless funding for all of Canada's diversity groups. No, he said that they were for infrastructure.
The parliamentary budget officer said that the Liberals do not yet have a plan for how the federal government will spend $186.7 billion in infrastructure money over the next 12 years. Is this not the same Liberal government that keeps repeating that meeting environmental targets, for example, requires a plan? The Liberals have no plan for the environment, just as they have no plan for infrastructure. One of their flagship promises, which was so important that it formed the basis for the other promises, was to balance the budget in 2019 and to run annual deficits of $10 billion.
Meanwhile, taxes are going up for the fine constituents of Beauport—Limoilou. The average increase for middle-income families is exactly $840 per year, whereas by the end of 10 wonderful years of Conservative government, from 2006 to 2015, the average Canadian family paid about $2,000 less in taxes. There is an increase in Canada Pension Plan contributions, up to $2,200 per household, there is a carbon tax, up to $2,500 per household, and the cancellation of the family tax cut. This has a direct impact on the people of Beauport—Limoilou. All my neighbours in Beauport—Limoilou have children who play sports or take part in fitness or arts activities. For example, on Sunday mornings, my daughter takes music lessons at the Cascades school of music. It is a great place and I am proud to mention it today. They also cancelled the tax credits for education and textbooks, which could be as much as $560 per student, and they raised EI premiums. This does not even include the disastrous tax reforms imposed by the Minister of Finance, even though he himself wanted to hide some of his income from the federal taxman, frankly.
The sad part is that the debt keeps piling up. After three years in office, the current government has grown the national debt by $60 billion. According to projections by the Department of Finance, in other words, our dear, dedicated public servants, the budget will not be balanced until 2045, which will add $450 billion to the debt. A colleague opposite spoke about 3- to 17-year-old girls not being able to access this or that thing. I will tell her that, in 30 years, fully all of these girls will be paying the debt piled up by the current government. Only one thing is certain: men and women alike will be paying a lot more on the debt in 30 or 40 years, because of the bad fiscal management by this bad government, which, I hope, will be calling it quits in 2019.
What is even more unbelievable is that the government brags about having wonderful financials thanks to its prowess at managing public funds. That is not the case. We know full well that the current growth is primarily due to a recovery in the oil sector. That is good for the entire oil industry, but again, it is not because of the Liberals' sound management. In addition, house prices increased by 16% in 2016, bringing in additional revenue. Oil and gas exports went up. The Canadian dollar fell, and so did interest rates. All those factors combined to produce strong economic growth in Canada. What should we do under such circumstances, when the economy is doing well? We should address the issues and ensure that there is money for potential emergencies, such as the crisis in the aluminum and steel industries, the potential end of NAFTA in a few months, or a global economic crisis that could erupt at any moment.
When the economy is doing well, we must prepare for future crises. The current government is simply being reckless with the Canadian economy. The constituents of Beauport—Limoilou have a right to know.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:42 [p.16845]
Madam Speaker, my colleagues on the other side of the House are laughing, and meanwhile their leader has violated four sections of the Conflict of Interest Act. They are laughing, and meanwhile their government has entered talks involving tens of millions of dollars. In fact, it has already given tens of millions of dollars to the Aga Khan's causes. Whether or not these causes are worthy matters little. In the meantime, the Prime Minister was gallivanting around his private island.
Lastly, the commissioner found that “Mr. Trudeau contravened section 12 of the Act when his family travelled on non-commercial aircraft chartered by the Aga Khan”. I am pleased that Ms. Dawson, the Ethics Commissioner, had the courage to write this incriminating report which says, in black and white, just how the Prime Minister violated four sections of the act.
This is all terrible, but there is something else that bothers me even more and that makes me sad. I do not say this lightly, and I rarely say this in politics, but I am sad, as all Canadians should be. I genuinely do not understand how a prime minister of our great federation could not only decide to take his Christmas vacation outside Canada, which is already a shameful and dishonourable thing for a prime minister to do, but also to travel to a billionaire's island.
I knocked on doors throughout the Christmas break. I met one constituent who lives in affordable housing. He had tears in his eyes as he told me that he had almost no teeth left. He has had toothaches for years, he needs dentures, and he has a very low income, but his honour prevents him from requesting social assistance. However, he still cannot afford dentures and cannot afford to replace his teeth. He spoke to me about his teeth for 15 minutes, because it was such a big part of his life. What he is going through is terrible.
Across the country, Canadians are living in poverty. People are starving and freezing to death in Toronto, in Montreal, and in Vancouver. They are not dying because they have mental health issues or addictions. They are dying because of sociological problems such as lack of education. Poverty is a real issue in Canadian society, but not only is the Prime Minister not encouraging Canadians to stay here, he himself is spending time on a billionaire's tropical island.
Seriously, people are dying of hunger in Canada, but our shameless Prime Minister had the nerve to take a vacation that cost taxpayers $200,000. The worst part is his total contempt for Canadians. He should never have done that. As Prime Minister, he should at the very least avoid vacations like that during his four-year term. Four years is not a long time in the life of a man who could live to the age of 90. He could not wait four years to go gallivanting around on a tropical beach while people here at home in eastern and Atlantic Canada are dying of hunger because of the employment insurance spring gap, not to mention the indigenous peoples on every reserve in the country.
The Prime Minister says that his most important relationship is the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples. This is ridiculous, since his most important relationship should be with all Canadians and not with any one group in particular. He is constantly spouting his lofty ideals, saying that he works for the middle class and for Indigenous people on reserve, and that he will make investments for Canadians, and then he vacations on a billionaire's private island. Talk about setting a good example. This just makes me sad.
Since 1867, and I think it is written in the Constitution, all governments are required to operate in accordance with the notion of peace, order, and good government. However, so far, the Liberals have been unable to form a good government. They continue to run deficits, when there is no war and no economic crisis.
They keep breaking promises. I will conclude by saying that, yesterday, the Minister of International Trade proudly announced that his program was huge in comparison with free trade. They have done absolutely nothing for free trade. That is why we introduced the TPP. The President of the United States is the one who began renegotiating NAFTA. Were is this Liberal free trade agreement I have heard so much about? It does not exist. We must denounce the Prime Minister’s attitude and behaviour, and that is what we are doing today.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:48 [p.16846]
Madam Speaker, who, in 2008, offered a national apology for residential schools? Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Who met with the Assembly of First Nations each year? Prime Minister Harper. We were not making grand speeches, we were working for the well-being of all Canadians without exception. We did not have a special relationship with any one group. We were working for all Canadians. That is what we were doing.
I believe that it is a matter of honour. It is completely unreasonable for the Prime Minister to go gallivanting around a billionaire’s island when Canadians are dying of hunger. It is unacceptable.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-23 12:02 [p.15508]
Mr. Speaker, a lot of people in Beauport—Limoilou are listening to us right now, and I want to say hello to them.
Our political system is a parliamentary democracy. I believe that it is the best system in the world, and I think all members of the House would agree.
In this system, ministerial responsibility is the most important thing we carry out every day, primarily in question period and through opposition days like today. Ministerial responsibility was acquired as a result of long debates and long military campaigns.
Les Patriotes were not all French Canadians; they included some English Canadians, too. They fought in the 1820s and 1830s to obtain ministerial responsibility, which the British monarchy and British Parliament granted us with the Act of Union, creating a united Canada in 1841.
What we are doing today with our opposition day is exercising that ministerial responsibility and ensuring that it is fulfilled. One of the ways this is done is through investigative journalism, which is very important and which we on this side of the House take very seriously. In fact, with the help of its sponsor here, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, a senator in the other place managed to get a bill passed that provides greater protection to whistleblowers and the confidential sources of investigative journalism.
What have investigative journalists discovered in recent months? The Minister of Finance did three things, or overlooked three things, or made three serious mistakes.
Need we remind members that the finance minister is second in command in the Government of Canada. He is second in command not because he is more important than other ministers, but it can still be argued that a country's finances are critical given their implications for education, health, and the well-being of Canadians. For that reason, the position of finance minister is held in high regard and the incumbent must do everything possible to ensure that Canadians' confidence in the minister is never in doubt or undermined.
Unfortunately, the three things that the finance minister did in two years, which were reported by investigative journalists in recent months, have slowly and surely undermined Canadians' confidence in the minister.
In my view, the attitude, behaviour, and actions of all members in their day-to-day activities both inside and outside the House must always be guided by three principles: a sense of duty, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of honour.
I urge my Liberal colleagues to listen carefully. The Minister of Finance, like all of us, had the solemn, legal duty to disclose his assets to the Ethics Commissioner right away. He had six months to do so, using a form that is pretty easy to fill out. It may have been more difficult for him, since he has so many assets. However, he had a duty to disclose all of his assets, in black and white, clearly and openly, leaving no doubt and leaving nothing out. He had a duty, and he did not properly fulfill it. I will get back to this and explain why.
The minister also had the responsibility, and still does today, to inform the Ethics Commissioner of any changes to his personal situation throughout his term. Such changes would include a new acquisition, a boat in the Bahamas, or, who knows, a second villa in France.
As a member of Parliament, I receive updates from the Ethics Commissioner reminding me of my responsibility and duty to disclose any new assets, throughout my term. For example, I recently declared that I purchased a home for my lovely little family; I was happy to do so. All members of Parliament have this responsibility.
In my opinion, however, honour is even more important than duty or responsibility. When members of Parliament are guided by a sense a honour, their actions are naturally guided by a sense of duty and responsibility. The Minister of Finance failed in his duty and his responsibility as an elected official, minister, and member of Cabinet over the past two years, and I will talk about this failure in a few seconds. Unfortunately for him and for this government, he sullied his honour.
First, two years ago, when he was made to fill out the much-discussed form disclosing his assets, interests, and so on to the Ethics Commissioner, he forgot, nay, omitted to declare a company incorporated in France that owns a luxurious villa in Provence in the south of France. I imagine it is very luxurious and quite expensive. That is unbelievable.
I have here a public notice of penalty issued under the authority of the Conflict of Interest Act. This is not a joke. These are not allegations or opposition attacks. This is fact. The Ethics Commissioner issued a penalty just a few weeks ago and fined the Minister of Finance $200 for violating paragraphs 22(2)(a) and 22(2)(d) of the Conflict of Interest Act by failing to include in a confidential report a corporation established in France and an estimate of its value and, crucially, by failing to include in the report his directorship in that corporation. This is serious business.
The Minister of Finance, an important businessman from Bay Street in Toronto who manages a huge family business, somehow forgot to report that asset in France, although he claims it was just an administrative oversight. That is a first. This actually happened; he paid the fine. He was caught and had to face the music, although only administratively. Of course, these are not criminal charges. That was his first dereliction of duty and breach of Canadian laws, the first stain on his reputation, and the first thing that shook Canadians' confidence in him.
On top of that, he did not put his shares in Morneau Shepell, worth $20 million, in a blind trust. He hid them in a numbered company in Alberta and has made millions on them over the past two years. Thank goodness he donated it to charity. It was the least he could do, but he still has not apologized and he refuses to talk about the fact that he has been violating the spirit of the law over the past year.
Lastly, he is once again being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner regarding a conflict of interest, because he introduced Bill C-27, which makes changes to pension plans and will benefit the family business started by his father. He is therefore in a direct conflict of interest, he failed in his duty and his responsibilities, and his honour is besmirched.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-11-23 12:16 [p.15509]
Madam Speaker, yes, that is the case. I can confirm for the hon. member that last week, when we were all in our ridings, I met many constituents who all told me that it is outrageous, and that it is even more outrageous to see the Minister of Finance acting as if nothing was outrageous.
There is a clear conflict of interest here, and we should always remind Canadians that the Prime Minister sent a mandate letter to each minister stating in the first paragraph that not only did he want them to follow precisely each article of the law, and most concerning is this one today of the Ethics Commissioner, but he said to go above and beyond the spirit of the law. Well, I can say that the minister went above and beyond physically by putting all his shares in a hiding company in Alberta. He has put together an action that brings a great distrust of the government from the Canadian people. As the opposition, we have the duty, the responsibility, and the honour to hold the minister to account.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-10-26 11:17 [p.14571]
Mr. Speaker, the member spoke of equal voices in cabinet.
However, an MP who is not a minister may, at the Prime Minister's invitation, attend cabinet to discuss specific issues, and his or her voice will be equal to that of any other elected official around the table, minister or not.
The member said that, unlike in Mr. Harper's government, today's ministers of state have been given by mandate letter their own specific legal responsibilities.
I would like to ask him if that difference has any real impact on the ground. Will there be a cabinet? Will there be a deputy minister? Will there be documents that the government can bring to cabinet? Will there be a department with an actual physical building? Will there be public servants to oversee? If none of those things are in place, then this bill will not really change anything.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-10-26 12:03 [p.14577]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise.
I would like to take a few moments to tell the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening right now that I am truly very disappointed with what the Finance Minister did last week and this week. Canadians have become aware that he misled them for two years and that he did not put his $20 million in Morneau Shepell shares in a blind trust. I seriously expected him to rise last week for his final response in question period to say that he regretted it, and that not only did he no longer have his shares, but he was donating to charity the $65,000 in additional monthly profits that he pocketed for the last two years. That would have been the least he could do. He is an extremely wealthy man. He should have done that, and I do not think that it would have jeopardized his retirement.
With respect to Bill C-24, I will be addressing primarily the aspect of the ministers and the administrative change that means absolutely nothing, as well as the supplementary estimates. I will also very quickly address the issue of regional development. The Liberals are abolishing regional development minister positions. These positions are key, because today 60% of Canadians live in large cities. The same is true almost everywhere in the world. These positions are also important because the voice of rural Canadians is being less and less heard in the House. There will no longer be ministers representing regional development agencies in the Atlantic provinces, Quebec or western Canada. These agencies will no longer exist, or at least they will not have any ministers. These ministers sat at the cabinet table to ensure that every region of Canada had a voice.
The first thing the Liberals did was to make sure that there would no longer be any ministers representing the regions and to entrust all decisions to a single individual, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Toronto. This has already had a serious impact. Last fall, $150,000 in funds earmarked for economic development in northern Ontario was allocated to a company based in the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development’s riding of Mississauga. This is precisely the new type of politics the Liberals have been playing.
This spring, an Atlantic liberal caucus subcommittee indicated that they had been told that processing times at ACOA were three times longer since the appointment of a minister from Toronto. It is not surprising, since he himself, as a minister from Toronto, is completely overwhelmed by the affairs of Canada’s great city of Toronto and completely overwhelmed by the affairs of his own department. That is why we need independent ministers who can focus on the region they represent. We are saddened to see the government go ahead and abolish these key minister positions in Canada.
I spoke about Bill C-24 here in the House about six months ago. It was late spring. At that time not so long ago, I was still a permanent member of the powerful Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. It was quite the learning experience for me. I had to read a huge number of documents and learn about many financial, economic, and structural issues. The committee deals with government operations and estimates.
Every four or five months, the committee reviews and analyzes the supplementary estimates, in other words, the credits the government wants to have approved by the committees so that it can close its fiscal year on a sound note. I observed one thing. I do not remember exactly whether it was credit A, credit B or credit C, or which department it was. I think it was the Treasury Board. After it was elected, the government immediately wanted to raise the salaries of the ministers of State, as is proposed in the bill. Normally, to do so, the government must introduce a bill like the one we are debating today concerning ministers’ salaries and allowances.
That is not what they have been doing for the past two years. In fact, the Liberals used the supplementary estimates, by including the votes in the supplementary estimates and getting them approved through the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates for two consecutive years. We Conservatives were a minority. We voted against that funding, but that did not change anything.
If this bill were so important, if it were true, as they claim, that this bill is intended to foster ministerial pay and gender equality, then why did they use the back door to increase salaries? Why did the Liberals not introduce Bill C-24 when they first came to power in 2015? If gender equality were that important to them, they would have introduced this bill as a priority at the outset.
Something about this really surprises me. An hon. member for whom I have enormous respect and who served in the military said that a minister is a minister is a minister. First, that is an extreme extrapolation. One can say that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian, but at the same time, a minister is still a Canadian like any other. The part that concerns me is that ministers of state are not on the same footing as ministers. The question is simple: do they have deputy ministers? No, and this bill will do nothing to change that fact, either.
Ministers of state will not have deputy ministers or cabinets, which have a staff of about 40 to assist their minister perform difficult tasks. They will not have the right to submit memorandums to cabinet explaining government issues. Most importantly, they will not have any officials serving under them. For example, the Minister of National Defence has 80,000 public servants under him. Not only is there the civilian administrative wing comprising some 20,000 employees, but there is also the military wing, because military troops are public servants. All told, we are talking 100,000 people.
Ministers of state will not have 100,000 people to manage and give orders to. Neither will they oversee an actual institution, or have headquarters from which to work. For example, Public Services and Procurement Canada is across the beautiful Ottawa River, and there is a huge building there with Public Services and Procurement Canada written on it. About 10,000 people work there.
Ministers of state have none of the prerequisites that would make them equal to ministers. This has nothing to do with gender equality or equity between individuals. Ministers of state simply do not have a minister’s workload. That is the only thing Canadians need to know.
Remarkably, the hon. member of St. Catharines himself said it a thousand times in his speech on administrative changes. That is exactly what it is: an administrative change. It is not a substantial change. The Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, who comes from the Eastern Townships, will not have a building with 10,000 public servants or a cabinet. She will not have anything a real minister has. I am on the Standing Committee on Official Languages, so I recognize that the files she manages are extremely important, but her workload will still be quite a bit lighter than that of the Minister of National Defence, for example.
My colleague from Calgary Shepard made me think of something. It is not true that all cabinet ministers are equal. No one can tell me that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Canadian Heritage are on equal footing. I must say that I prefer heritage to the economy. That being said, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons has a portfolio because she is the House leader and she is the Minister of Small Business and Tourism. She has more to deal with than another minister who does not have these two portfolios and these two responsibilities. It is as simple as that.
I wanted to say one last thing, something a little more philosophical. Imposing a gender-equal cabinet comes with its own share of risks. At the end of the day, philosophically and legally speaking, what does it even mean? It means that we will never see an all-female cabinet in Canada. I would even go so far as to say that this is good way for the Prime Minister of Canada to make sure that women never make up more than half a cabinet.
In fact, I would even say that this will stop the advancement of women in politics.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-10-26 12:16 [p.14579]
Mr. Speaker, the bill does not speak about equal votes; it speaks about equal voice. I will tell members something interesting. When I was an intern in the Prime Minister's Office, the greatest honour of my life was to be part of a cabinet meeting. There, I was completely astounded to see MPs, not ministers, enter the room and be part of the meeting. They would stand and give their opinion with respect to the discussion. The ministers would acknowledge them, saying that this was the direction they should take. That is equal voice. Those MPs did not need a title or a ministry to have an equal voice. Having an equal voice around a cabinet table has nothing to do with which ministry one has.
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