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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-05-30 20:38 [p.19928]
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.19928]
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.19930]
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.19930]
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)
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
2018-04-19 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
2018-03-20 13:21 [p.17726]
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.16821]
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.16822]
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.15486]
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.15487]
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.14549]
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.14555]
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.14557]
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.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-10-26 12:18 [p.14557]
Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the case, and I must put forward a great example.
When Winston Churchill was the minister of the Royal Navy in 1918, he went on a ship. Things were not going as they should have, so he went to see the commander. He asked him to bring all the men on board so he could speak with them. The commander said to Mr. Churchill that he should never speak to the soldiers, but he again said that he wanted to speak with the soldiers. He went to one of the lowest-ranking marines and asked him what the plan should be to get out of them of the mess. The soldier told him his plan. Churchill then turned to the highest-ranking officer and told him that he was to do that. Since then, occidental armies have this kind of practice where everyone listens. I was in the army and I know that commanders always ask their soldiers what they should do. Of course afterward it is the commanders who will decide.
Therefore, you are right, sir, the government does not listen to people who do not have a title. However, in the former Conservative government, Harper used to listen to everyone.
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
2017-06-19 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
2017-04-13 11:42 [p.10510]
Mr. Speaker, the military see the truth. They see it on their paycheque at the end of the month.
On April 6, the hon. member for Gatineau told me that I would get evidence of the capability gap that was cited as the reason for procuring the 18 Super Hornet jets without a bidding process. He told me that the Department of National Defence would provide me with that information.
However, on Tuesday, in committee, the Liberals voted twice against the Conservative motion calling on the Minister of National Defence to come present that evidence.
The Liberals keep saying that this capability gap exists. Why are two ministers responsible for this file unable to prove it and unable to illustrate their point in writing in a letter?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-04-06 18:47 [p.10307]
Mr. Speaker, somebody needs to get the situation at Public Services and Procurement Canada under control yesterday. Just look at the outrageous bonuses paid to executives involved with the Phoenix fiasco in various capacities.
I wish my colleague from Miramichi—Grand Lake were still here so I could tell him that the fact is, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement launched the Phoenix pay system on February 24, 2016. All of the access to information requests and all of the questions that we put on the House of Commons Order Paper leave no room for doubt, and the member for Gatineau knows it.
We initiated the Phoenix project as any responsible government would have done. We realized the previous pay system was outdated and had to be changed. However, we were not the ones who implemented it. Again, all of the access to information requests show that expert reports to the minister of the day said the system was not ready.
This evening, I want to talk about the Super Hornets, which the government plans to acquire very soon. My colleague from Edmonton West spoke about the advisability of procuring these aircraft and how long it would take. I would like to address another aspect of the problem.
The Government Contracts Regulations must apply to the Department of Public Services and Procurement because, in the end, that department's minister must give the go-ahead to the department that wants to enter into procurement contracts. The reason we have a framework for government procurement, the Government Contracts Regulations, is to prevent questionable acquisitions of this magnitude.
What I suspect, and I am confident in saying that my party colleagues agree, is that the exceptions in the regulations were rigged by the Liberal Party because it often mentions the exception contained in subsection 3(1)(g), which allows a contract to fulfill an interim requirement for defence supplies. I would like the record to show that this is not simply a legal void that the Liberal Party can use to contravene the Government Contracts Regulations.
For greater clarity, if the Minister of Public Services and Procurement approved the future purchase of the Super Hornets without a tender, she must have a letter from the Department of National Defence stating, in black and white, why an exception is being made to proceed without a tender. There are four possible reasons for the exception: state of war, an emergency, a gap, and so forth. In this case, the Liberals are saying that there is a capability gap. I do not believe it, and my party does not either. Where is the proof?
Can the parliamentary secretary show us a document from the Department of National Defence, signed by the minister, that proves there is a capability gap?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-04-06 18:54 [p.10308]
Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary mentioned an honest political disagreement between the two of us. That is indeed the case, but that is not what I am talking about.
I would point out that Denmark was able to complete an open, transparent competition in 11 months.
I am speaking to the parliamentary secretary, and it is not up to the Department of National Defence to answer me. My question is this. The rules surrounding government contracts demand that the Minister of Public Services and Procurement play a role. Any department can say that it wants this or that, for any given reason. It is too easy. Public Services and Procurement and the Government Contracts Regulations necessitate, require, and demand that the minister of public services receive a letter that explains why there is an exception, why the need is exceptional. I assume that, for the Liberals, the exception here is the capability gap. Personally, I do not think the capability gap exists—
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-02-10 11:48 [p.8791]
Mr. Speaker, there is clearly a political controversy surrounding the procurement of the Super Hornet fighter jets.
At the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates yesterday, the Liberals refused to hold an emergency debate, even though that committee's mandate is to examine procurement contracts. The goal is to ensure that everything is done by the book and that Canada's Government Contracts Regulations are followed.
Will the Liberal government allow our committee to do its job on these important matters and will it respect the parliamentary process?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-02-07 14:44 [p.8579]
Mr. Speaker, that is the main point: it is not the right equipment.
The Super Hornets will be operational for about 12 years, at most, and will cost Canadian taxpayers over $300 million per plane. Worse still, there are no significant industrial benefits on the horizon for Canadian workers or businesses. The Minister of Public Services and Procurement has a duty to manage taxpayers' money prudently, while also supporting Canadian industries.
How far is the minister willing to go to promote the Liberal Party's political interests rather than the interests of all Canadians in this great federation?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-12-05 14:52 [p.7636]
Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement indicated that she did not intend to provide Canadians with the financial details of the contract to purchase Super Hornet fighter jets. She said that she wanted to talk to Boeing and the American government about it first.
The minister suggested that her government has not yet entered into discussions with Boeing, which is rather unbelievable. What is worse, Canadians are being treated like a second-class third party in this transaction, even though the minister is accountable to Canadians and Canadians only.
When will she rectify this situation and tell Canadians the unit price of the Super Hornets?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-12-01 14:46 [p.7517]
Mr. Speaker, we know three things for sure.
First, the Minister of Procurement does not know how much Super Hornet fighters cost. Second, in negotiations with Boeing and the United States, the Liberals put their cards on the table before the game even started. Third, the process to replace our fighter jets will not be done before the 2019 election.
Obviously, either the Liberals are totally incompetent, or they have a hidden agenda.
Can the minister tell us which is true?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-11-30 14:55 [p.7440]
Mr. Speaker, the truth is simple. She is not answering because she does not know the cost of the planes. That is what we call bad governance.
In Norway, their open and transparent process to replace their fleet of fighter jets took two years. The same kind of process took 16 months in South Korea and 11 months in Denmark.
The Liberals know that their management of this file will be a turning point for Canadians, who will judge the current government's performance very severely. That is precisely why they extended the bidding period over five years, until after the next election.
When will the minister properly fulfill her ministerial mandate instead of—
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-11-29 14:49 [p.7387]
Mr. Speaker, one of the duties of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement is to ensure, first, that government contracts are financially viable; second, that they are in line with the priorities and interests of the federation; and third, that they are executed with broad benefits to Canadians and our businesses.
We are currently missing important salient details to be able to properly judge the contract to purchase the F-35 fighter jets.
Can the minister now confirm the price of each individual jet?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-11-25 11:55 [p.7257]
Mr. Speaker, as we speak, the Liberal government is making 235 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and public servants involved in replacing our CF-18 fighter jets sign lifetime non-disclosure agreements. That is a first.
I have no intention of wasting my question by asking the Liberals what they have to hide. It is clear that they are just going to repeat, as they just did, that they do not want to disclose the information because it is supposedly commercially sensitive and that they are following the appropriate procedures.
Instead, I would simply like to know whether public servants are being forced to sign these agreements because they did not agree with the government's decision.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-10-25 12:24 [p.6075]
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, my colleague from the greater Quebec City area.
Over the past year, the Liberal government has broken a number of its promises. My colleague also talked about the Minister of Finance, who has contradicted himself somewhat, in terms of his current policies compared to what he has written in the past.
I wonder if the member could comment on what he thinks of the Liberals' pattern of breaking their promises and abandoning the convictions they have expressed in the past.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-02-23 15:33 [p.1273]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak to the unfounded and wrong-headed nature of the mission the current Liberal government has adopted in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.
There is no doubt that this group poses a real and tangible threat. No one in this chamber can deny it. This armed terrorist group claims to be the equivalent of a sovereign state, although nothing could be further from the truth. This clearly illustrates its clear desire to be a lasting, structured organization.
To achieve that, this group and its acolytes have managed to embroil a region of the world that has never truly known peace even more deeply in extremely violent armed conflicts and by so doing, pushing that region even further away from becoming the just and peaceful society that every population in those imperilled areas certainly dreams of.
Peace defined as an in-between period is a consequence of war and not the opposite. Thus, before we prepare for peace, we must face war. For that reason, since the start of Canadian air operations in Iraq and Syria, there have been almost 250 air strikes resulting in the destruction of almost 270 fighting positions, 102 pieces of equipment and 30 explosives factories by only six Canadian jets. In light of this objective and factual statement, we will simply say that operation Impact is aptly named.
However, in light of these facts, I would like my dear parliamentary colleagues, especially those in government, to realize that this is not the type of record often associated with the fight against a simple terrorist group. On the contrary, we must unfortunately acknowledge that we are at war with an organized and well-funded group, not to mention one that is motivated by certain intangible spiritual considerations, obscure reasons and other irrational motivations.
This democratic institution of the Canadian Parliament must provide a qualified and strong response, that is, a response that makes use of the entire arsenal available to Canada.
As we have heard many times in this House, it is true that we have access to all kinds of advantages in this combat, but, from the beginning, our greatest advantage against the so-called Islamic State has come from the air. In all of the chaos caused by its recent appearance, this terrorist group has managed to get its hands on tanks, heavy machine guns, and a staggering amount of ammunition.
This is a sophisticated and well-armed enemy, which means that Canada's involvement must be equally aggressive. I have to wonder why this government insists on sending Canadians and, indirectly, our allies, an incoherent, inconsistent, and deceptive message.
The government claims to want to increase Canada's presence in the armed conflict and to consolidate our impact over there, yet is rushing to withdraw the one thing that has been hugely successful on the front lines, which, has, so far, made us a strong and effective ally. With foresight, retired General David Fraser rightly said that, although we would not win this war with only air strikes, we certainly would not win the war against ISIL without them.
As always, history is repeating itself. Obviously, the Liberals are trying to get out of the Middle East without getting their hands dirty and with a feeling of moral certainty that they did everything in their power to help our allies and the people who are being oppressed by an organization as abhorrent as ISIL.
However, I would like to give them some advice. How can they hope to achieve their desired goal with the contribution they have planned for Canada? In fact, the dice have already been thrown. The air mission has already been terminated, whether we debate it or not. Once again, the international approach being taken by the Liberal government shows its one-dimensional objective to create a utopian history for our country by denying our past military contribution and our combat expertise.
I would like to remind Canadians that, historically, Canada has participated in more combat missions than peacekeeping missions. A combat mission is not the antithesis of a peacekeeping mission. On the contrary, it is the foundation for a peacekeeping mission.
Canada has always been known for its fiercely hard-working and dedicated soldiers. That is still the case today. It is only since the Liberals decided to rewrite history that we have accepted the government's false claim that Canada has never helped countries in need by providing military support and engaging in direct combat.
What our allies are asking us to do today is not to claim that we are acting in good faith and brag about taking some sort of moral high ground in this conflict but to put our military expertise and professionalism to good use in fighting the enemy.
I took the time to mention that because, as I said at the beginning of my speech, the Liberals have never sent our country to war or waged one. What this government is doing is a blatant example: they want to send more troops on the ground without providing them with any domestic air support.
Our troops are going to wonder where Canada's planes are. With fewer resources and less support, we will be exposing our troops to elevated risk. Moreover, our Griffon helicopters are vulnerable to ground-based fire, in contrast to our fighter planes, which operate at higher altitudes out of range of lighter weaponry.
The Liberals' current strategy is utter nonsense. I will be asking the government for formal justification in the unfortunate event we experience Canadian losses because of this political mess.
Let us instead do the opposite. Let us show that Canada can make a strong contribution to the conflict. Let us send our allies a clear message. Need I remind the House that our allies considered us as equals when we showed our willingness to use necessary force in the context of a just war?
Here we are in 2016, and the Liberal government is claiming quite arrogantly that Canada is back in the international arena. However, quite unbelievably, it is doing so by positioning itself as vassal to an international coalition, not as a leader among leaders.
On another note, we have every reason to ask ourselves if this is a just war. The answer, although quite complex, is unequivocally yes. Long before our time, the philosopher Thomas Aquinas, the father of the school of Christian optimists , established a series of criteria for determining whether a war was morally justifiable. First, do we have just cause to go to war? Second, do we have a legitimate authority to wage war? Do we have a plan and formal intention? Lastly, are there any other possible, appropriate solutions to the problem we are trying to solve?
Like the world wars that Canada has had to face in the past, the answers to those questions, in the context of the conflict with the so-called Islamic State, are as follows: we have a moral obligation to fight, and in doing so, to provide any assistance that we can in this struggle in order to help those most affected by this scourge. We also cannot forget that this terrorist group is already on their doorstep and, in many cases, in their homes.
It is also important to note that beyond the combat mission, which is proving to be the most important part of our involvement in those distant lands, the Liberals have no plan for the distribution of food or the humanitarian resources it plans to send, and yet that aspect is a key element of their specific approach.
Need I remind this House that we have seen on many occasions that the organizational aspect of humanitarian assistance is needed to ensure success? How are we going to protect convoys of food supplies or ensure that medical services are provided at the heart of an active conflict?
The Liberals have simply forgotten that before preparing the land for peace, and enjoying it even a little bit, we must first win the war.
To sum up what I am submitting this afternoon, I can only reiterate how wrong the current government's decision is, and that it will have negative consequences for our troops on the ground and for the civilians we are trying to help. We have a duty to ensure that the so-called Islamic State stops hounding people in the world who want to live in peace and security. Finally, we have a duty to ensure that the so-called Islamic State never gains official state status.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2015-12-07 15:37 [p.59]
Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker, hon. members of Parliament, and all Canadians.
I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Yorkton—Melville. I want to acknowledge my colleague and congratulate her on her election.
I want to start by congratulating all the members of the House on their wins and on their dedication, which is so important to keeping the democratic institutions that make up our political system alive and well.
I am honoured and extremely proud to rise here for the first time to address all Canadians, and in particular Quebeckers in Beauport—Limoilou. Because of them, I have the unbelievable privilege of being a member of this very important parliamentary institution.
If I am here today, it is also thanks to some important people in my life. First, there are my parents, without whom none of this would have been possible. They are the ones who, throughout my childhood, guided me, taught me, and most importantly, loved me. Then, there is my wife Pascale, who has been by my side for 11 years now and supports me in all of my incredible adventures, including politics. Finally, my daughter, Victoria Clarke, reminds me every day of what is important in this life here on earth. I would like to thank all of those who are dear to my heart, including my brother and my sister.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank all of our ancestors who built a country based on the principles of the rule of law and political freedom.
Canada, as a whole, is part of my identity. In fact, my parents are from opposite ends of the country. My mother is a French Canadian from Beauport, Quebec, and my father is an English Canadian from Victoria, British Columbia. Canada's duality, an undeniable part of our common history and our political past and present, is alive and well in me and is always driving me.
I do not want to boast, but I have believed from a very young age that having this personal characteristic meant that I had an inescapable duty to participate in Canada's political community.
That is why, since my teen years, my sole purpose has been to serve my country and my fellow citizens. This burning desire, coupled with an iron will, compelled me to become actively involved in Canadian politics at 18 and to join the Canadian Armed Forces at 24.
In recent years, I have been an active member of the Conservative Party of Canada, I have served as a member of the 6th Field Artillery Regiment in Lévis, I have worked with charities in my community, and, to better understand the significance of these activities, Canada's history, and our political system, I earned a master's in political science.
I applied for and received my discharge from the Canadian Armed Forces on November 11, Remembrance Day. On my father's side, fathers and sons have served in the Canadian Armed Forces since the 1890s. My great-grandfather, my grandfather, my father, my brother and I are all veterans.
That is why the privilege of being named the official opposition critic for veterans affairs is so deeply symbolic to me: it is linked to a long-standing, deeply rooted family tradition.
On that point, I want to thank our party leader for the trust she has placed in me. Our leader and all veterans in this country can rest assured that I take this role very seriously. I will remain politically invested every day, and I will work as hard as I have to in order to hold this government to account when it comes to veterans.
I would also like to present to the House my priorities as the member for Beauport—Limoilou. My team and I have three main objectives we want to achieve. We call them the three Ps: pursue, promote, and participate.
The first objective is about pursuing the economic revitalization of our riding. More specifically, it is about focusing on the development of these main arteries: d'Estimauville, Canardières and des Capucins, 1st Avenue, 3rd Avenue and Seigneuriale.
The second objective is to promote the flow of ongoing investments in local infrastructure.
The third objective is to participate in nurturing the personal growth of newcomers and those most in need by reaching out to them, by knocking on doors throughout my term, in order to meet their needs and, more importantly, overcome the feeling of social exclusion.
Last summer, the previous Conservative government announced its support for a very important project for my riding and the entire greater Quebec City region. I am talking about the Beauport 2020 plan to almost double the area of the port of Québec's wharves. This makes sense because “the port of Québec is a strategic transshipment point between the industrial and agricultural heart of North America and the world. The port is open to navigation year-round and is one of the largest ports in Canada in terms of tonnage and economic spinoffs.” Consequently, I would hope that the new government will stay the course on this crucially important project and ensure that it is completed in accordance with the strictest environmental criteria around.
On another note, I think nothing illustrates the ideal of serving one's country better than donning a military uniform and confronting the dangers that face any free society. We have courageous veterans who did just that for our country and our freedom during the 20th century in various places around the world, and more recently in Afghanistan. Today, in Canada, we have more than 700,000 veterans. If we include their family members, we are talking about millions of individuals. They all have served and serve Canada in their own way.
What amazed me the most when I met with veterans in recent years was the unwavering passion with which they spoke about serving their country and ensuring a better future for all of us, including the MPs in this House.
I was stunned that there was only one sentence about veterans in the Speech from the Throne that opened the 42nd Parliament on Friday. However, the Liberal government has used other communications tools to announce measures that will generate significant annual deficits in the coming years, even if the Canadian economy does well in the global economic context.
The government is proposing to post deficit after deficit, have Canada go into debt in a period of economic prosperity, increase taxes and thereby discourage consumption and economic growth. This will inevitably lead to a significant slowdown in job creation.
Furthermore, the government is proposing to create new measures and to improve others for veterans, which is a very good thing. However, that is where we part ways, because the Conservatives want to finance these measures with the money generated by a healthy economy and not by running deficits in future years.
Where is the long-term vitality of these measures? How can they be permanent if the government is incurring national debt to pay for them? How can the government be sure that these new measures will be sustainable in the long term when they are incurring a deficit to pay for them? Will it do so by raising taxes for Canadians and businesses?
My friends, this is a Liberal smokescreen designed to make Canadians believe that all of the new measures that have been proposed will be implemented. They will not be, at least not permanently. Veterans will be the first to doubt the Liberals' proposals, which I will refer to as the Liberal smokescreen from now on.
We, on the other hand, were and still are in favour of measures for veterans that are sustainable in the long term, measures that are not funded by incurring continuing deficits. In that respect, the previous Conservative government focused on the long-term sustainability of essential services for veterans. That is why we made major cuts to the department's bureaucratic red tape in order to make the department more productive. This measure also made it possible to make necessary cuts to spending and especially to bring about welcome improvements in services to veterans.
Our first priority has always been to ensure that programs and measures for veterans are sustainable in the long term, while maintaining a strong economy based on balanced budgets and, of course, continued tax cuts.
The holiday season is approaching. Soon, we will all gather with our families to celebrate, but also to remember the many sacrifices that our veterans made and are still making today. It is thanks to them that I am here today.
In closing, I would like to say that there is no doubt in my mind that everyone here only wants what is best for veterans. In that respect, when it comes to working for the well-being of veterans, the government will always find in me an ally.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2015-12-07 15:48 [p.61]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question and I want to congratulate her once again on her election.
Like my colleague from Yorkton—Melville, I am comfortable with the new measures put forward. However, our concern is that these measures cannot become permanent because of the deficits announced by the new government. That is what is dangerous for veterans. They need long-term measures, not election-time measures.
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