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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-04-29 13:17 [p.27091]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to the NDP motion. I would first like to say hello to the many people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us live or who will watch later on social media.
I just spent two weeks in my riding, where I met thousands of my constituents at events and activities organized by different organizations. Last Thursday, the Corporation de développement communautaire de Beauport, or CDCB, held a unique and innovative event. For the first time, all elected municipal, provincial and federal officials in the riding attended a breakfast meet and greet for constituents and representatives of organizations. It was a type of round table with elected members from all levels of government. It was an exemplary exercise in good democratic practices for our country. We had some great conversations. I would like to congratulate the CDCB for this very interesting event, which I hope will become an annual tradition.
I also want to mention that my beautiful Quebec is experiencing serious flooding across the province. When I left Quebec City this morning around six  o'clock I could see damage all along the road between Trois-Rivières and Montreal and in the Maskinongé area. There is always a little water there in the spring, but there is a lot of water this year. When I got to the Gatineau-Ottawa area I saw houses flooded. Nearly 8,000 people, men, women and families, have been displaced. These are tough times, and I want them to know that my heart is with them. I wish them much strength. I am pleased to see that the Government of Quebec has announced assistance, as has the federal government, of course.
The NDP's motion is an interesting one. It addresses the fact that the current Prime Minister of Canada tried to influence the course of justice a couple of ways, in particular with the SNC-Lavalin matter, which has had a lot of media coverage in the past three months.
The NDP also raised the issue of drug prices. Conservatives know that, in NAFTA 2.0, which has not yet been ratified by any of the countries involved, the Liberals sadly gave in to pressure from President Trump to extend drug patents. If the agreement is ratified, Canadians will pay more for prescription drugs. People are also wondering when the Liberals will initiate serious talks about the steel and aluminum tariffs and when they will bring NAFTA ratification to the House for debate.
The NDP motion also mentions Loblaws' lobbying activities. People thought it was some kind of joke. They could not believe their eyes or their ears. The government gave Loblaws, a super-rich company, $12 million to replace its fridges. The mind boggles.
The NDP also talks about banking practices in Canada. Conservatives know that banks are important, but we think some of them, especially those run by the government, are unnecessary. As NDP members often point out, for good reason, the Canada Infrastructure Bank is designed to help big interest groups, but Canadians should not have to finance private infrastructure projects.
We could also talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is totally ridiculous. Canada sends nearly $250 million offshore to finance infrastructure projects, when right here at home, the federal government's $187-billion infrastructure plan is barely functioning. Over the past three years, only $14 billion of that $187 billion has been spent. It is deplorable, considering how great the needs are in that area. The issue of banking practices mentioned in the NDP's motion is therefore interesting to me.
Another thing that really bothers me as a citizen is tax evasion. Combatting tax evasion should really begin with education in our schools. Unfortunately, that is more of a provincial responsibility. We need to put patriotism back on the agenda. Many wealthy Canadians shamelessly and unscrupulously evade taxes because they have no sense of patriotism. They have no love for their country.
Schools and people in positions of authority should have instilled this notion at a very young age by teaching them that patriotism includes making sure that Canadian money stays in Canada for Canadians, for our social programs, our companies, our roads and our communities.
In my opinion, a lack of love for one's country is one of the main causes of tax evasion. Young people must be taught that they should not be complaining about our democratic system, but rather participating in it. They should be taught to love Canada.
That is my opinion piece for today.
It is difficult for us to support the NDP's fine motion, however, because, as usual, it includes a direct attack against the Canadian oil industry and all oil-related jobs.
Canadian oil is the most ethical oil in the world. Of course, in the past, there were some concerns about how the oil sands were processed, but I think a lot of effort has been made in recent years to find amazing technologies to capture the carbon released in the oil sands production process.
Since the government's mandate is almost at an end, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that this motion reminded me of some of the rather troubling ethical problems that the Liberal government has had over the past few years.
First the Prime Minister, the member for Papineau took a trip to a private island that belongs to our beloved and popular Aga Khan. The trip was not permissible under Canadian law, under our justice system. For the first time in Canadian history, a prime minister of Canada was found guilty of several charges under federal law because he took a private family vacation that had nothing to do with state interests and was largely paid by the Aga Khan. It was all very questionable, because at the very same time he was making this trip to the Aga Khan's private island, the Prime Minister was involved in dealings with the Aga Khan's office regarding certain investments.
Next we have the fascinating tale of the Minister of Finance, who brought forward a reform aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, a reform that was supposed to be robust and rigorous, when all the while he was hiding shares of his former family business, Morneau Shepell, in numbered companies in Alberta. On top of that, he forgot to tell the Ethics Commissioner about a villa he owned in France.
The young people watching us must find it rather unbelievable that someone could forget to tell the Ethics Commissioner about a wonderful villa on the Mediterranean in France, on some kind of lake or the sea, I assume.
Then there is the clam scandal as well. The former minister of fisheries and oceans is in my thoughts since he is now fighting cancer. It is sad, but that does not excuse his deplorable ethics behaviour two years ago when he tried to influence a bidding process for clam harvesters in order to award a clam fishing quota to a company with ties to his family.
SNC-Lavalin is another case. It seems clear that there were several ethics problems all along. What I find rather unbelievable is that the Liberals are still trying to claim that there was absolutely nothing fishy going on. I am sorry, but when two ministers resign, when the Prime Minister's principal secretary resigns, and when the Clerk of the Privy Council resigns, something fishy is going on.
I want to close with a word on ethics and recent media reports about judicial appointments. There is something called the “Liberalist”, a word I find a bit strange. It is a list of everyone who has donated to the Liberal Party of Canada. Of course, all political parties have lists of their members, but the Liberals use their list to vet candidates and identify potential judicial appointees.
In other words, those who want the Prime Minister and member for Papineau to give them a seat on the bench would be well advised to donate to the Liberal Party of Canada so their name appears on the Liberalist. If not, they can forget about it because actual legal skills are not a factor in gaining access to the highest court in the land and other superior federal courts.
When it comes to lobbying, I just cannot believe how often the Liberals have bowed down to constant pressure from big business, like they did with Loblaws. It is a shame. Unfortunately, the NDP motion is once again attacking the people who work in our oil industry.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-04-29 13:29 [p.27093]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has no climate change plan. It has a taxation plan. That is exactly what it is doing.
On the reverse side, under Stephen Harper, a great and honourable Canadian, we had the ecoENERGY efficiency initiative. All the young guys listening to us should google that right now, please. The ecoENERGY efficiency initiative in 2007 was even recognized by Steven Guilbeault, a great ecologist in Canada.
The ecoENERGY efficiency initiative was a decentralized way of doing things in Canada to make sure that we were strong on the climate change problem in the world. For example, there was an envelope of $1.3 billion that was divided among the provinces. About $300 million or $400 million was sent to Quebec at the time, to the Charest government, which used this money to put forward the province's ecological plan. At the same time, there were other projects in Ontario that received money from the ecoENERGY efficiency initiative.
All that put together gave us one important result that Canadians should remember every single day: There was a reduction of carbon dioxide in Canada of 2.2% under the great leadership of the Conservative Party from 2006 to 2015.
We did not do that by taxing more Canadians; we did it through decentralization and through respect for federalism.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-04-29 13:31 [p.27093]
Mr. Speaker, I believe in a free market with safeguards to protect everyone's rights. However, we must never ignore the fierce global competition.
Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Harper's government eliminated many subsidies for big oil.
An article published by CBC this morning indicated:
The total volume of Canadian imports from Saudi Arabia has increased by 66 per cent since 2014...
Saudi oil accounted for roughly 10 per cent of Canadian consumption, up from about eight per cent in 2017...
Saudi Arabia is the second-largest source of foreign oil for Canada, after the U.S.
Even human rights groups are saying that we need to stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia.
One of the reasons why I believe we need to support the Canadian oil industry is the great Canadian paradox. The article goes on to say:
Canada is the fourth-largest producer and fourth-largest exporter of oil in the world...and 99 per cent of Canadian oil exports go to the U.S.
Canada is also an oil importer, which is rare for an exporting country.
The paradox is that we have one of the world's largest energy resources. Importing oil for our country is ridiculous. We need to put an end to that.
Under the leadership of the Conservative leader, the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, Canada would become self-sufficient. That is a commendable goal that everyone in the country should support.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 10:49 [p.22876]
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise to speak in the House.
I would like to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us now on CPAC or watching a rebroadcast on Facebook or Twitter.
Without further delay, I would like to address the previous speaker's comments. I find it interesting that he said their objective was to prevent foreign influence from third parties.
The bill will pass, since the Liberals have a majority. However, one problem I have with the bill is that it will allow more than 1.5 million Canadians who have been living outside of Canada for more than five years to vote in general elections, even if they have been outside Canada for 10 or 15 years.
These people have a privilege that even Canadians who have never left the country do not even have. The Liberals will let them randomly choose which riding they want to vote in. This is a massive privilege.
If I were living in the United States for 10 years and saw that the vote was really close in a certain riding, thanks to the new amendments made to the bill, I could decide to vote for the Liberal Party in order to ensure that a Liberal member gets elected. That seems like a very dangerous measure to me. It will give a lot of power to people who have been living abroad for a very long time. That still does not make them foreigners, since they are Canadian citizens.
For those watching us, I want to note that we are talking about Bill C-76 to modernize the Canada Elections Act.
This is an extremely important issue because it is the Canada Elections Act that sets the guidelines for our elections in our democracy. These elections determine the party that will form the next government of Canada.
I am sure that the people of Beauport—Limoilou watching us right now can hardly believe the Liberal government when it says that it wants to improve democracy or Canada's electoral system or allow a lot of people to exercise their right to vote. The Liberals' record on different elements of democracy has been deplorable the past three years.
Two years ago when the House was debating the issue, I was a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The Liberals introduced a parliamentary reform that included some rather surprising elements. They wanted to weaken the opposition, thereby weakening roughly 10 million Canadians who voted for the opposition parties, including the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party.
They wanted to cut speaking times in the House, which is completely ridiculous. I have said it many times before and I will say it again. An MP currently has the right to speak for 20 minutes. Most of the time, each MP speaks for 10 minutes. Through the reform, the Liberals wanted to cut speaking times from 20 minutes to 10 minutes at all times. The 20-minute speaking slot would no longer exist.
I have a book at home that I love called The Confederation Debates. It features speeches by Papineau, Doyon, George-Étienne Cartier, John A. MacDonald, Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, among many others that I could name. These great MPs would speak for four, five, six, seven or eight hours without stopping, long into the night.
With their parliamentary reforms, the Liberals wanted to reduce MPs' speaking time to 10 minutes. They wanted to take away our right to speak for 20 minutes. All this was intended to minimize the opposition's speaking time, to stifle debate on various issues.
What they did yesterday was even worse. It was a clear-cut example of their attitude towards parliamentary democracy. They imposed time allocation. In layman's terms, they placed a gag order on a debate on the modernization of the Canada Elections Act. No example could more blatantly demonstrate their ultimate intent, which is to ram the bill through as fast as possible. It is really a shame. They want to ram this down our throats.
There is also what they did in 2015 and 2016 with their practice of cash for access.
When big-time lobbyists want to meet with a minister or the Prime Minister to discuss an issue, they just have to register and pay $1,500, or $1,575 now, for the opportunity to influence them.
These are not get-togethers with ordinary constituents. These are get-togethers arranged for the express purpose of giving prominent lobbyists access to top government officials and enabling them to influence decisions.
Here is a great example. The Minister of Finance attended a get-together with Port of Halifax officials and people closely connected to the Port of Halifax. No other Liberal Party MP was there. That is a blatant conflict of interest and cash for access.
If Canadians have a hard time trusting the Liberals when they say they introduced this bill because they want to enfranchise people or improve democracy and civic engagement, it is also because of all of the promises the Liberals have broken since their election in 2015.
Elections and electoral platforms form the foundations of Canadian democracy. Each party's political platform contains election promises. Personally, I prefer to call them commitments. The Liberals made some big promises. They said they would run small $10-billion deficits for the first two years and then reduce the deficits. Year after year, however, as they are in their third year of a four-year mandate, they have been running deficits that are much worse: $30 billion, $20 billion and, this year, $19 billion, although their plan projected a $6-billion deficit.
They broke that promise, but worse still, they broke their promise to return to a balanced budget. As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has put it so well often enough, this is the first time we are seeing structural deficits outside wartime or a major recession. What is worse, this is the first time a government has had no plan to return to a balanced budget. It defies reason. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, said again recently that it is unbelievable to see a government not taking affairs of the state more seriously.
Meanwhile, with respect to infrastructure, the Liberals said they were introducing the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history—everything is always historic with them—worth $187 billion. What is the total amount spent to date? They have spent, at most, $7 billion on a few projects here and there, although this was supposed to be a pan-Canadian, structured and large-scale program.
The Liberals also broke their promise to reform the electoral system. They wanted a preferential balloting system because, according to analyses, surveys and their strategists, it would have benefited them. I did not support that promise, but it is probably why so many Canadians voted for the Liberals.
There is then a string of broken promises, but electoral reform was a fundamental promise and the Liberals reneged on it. It would have made changes to the Election Act and to how Canadians choose their government. That clearly shows once again that Canadians cannot trust the Liberals when they say they will reform the Election Act in order to strengthen democracy in Canada.
Let us now get back to the matter at hand, Bill C-76, which makes major fundamental changes that I find deplorable.
First, Bill C-76 would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize the use of the voter information card as a piece of identification for voting. As one of my Conservative colleagues said recently, whether we like it or not, voter cards show up all over, even in recycling boxes. Sometimes voter cards are found sticking out of community mailboxes.
There are all kinds of ways that an individual can get hold of a voter card and go to the polling station with it. It is not that difficult. This Liberal bill enables that individual to vote, although there is no way of knowing if they are that person, unless they are asked to provide identification—and that is not even the biggest problem.
It does not happen often, thank goodness, but when I go to the CHUL in Quebec City—which is the hospital where I am registered—not only do I have to provide the doctor's requisition for blood work, but I also have to show a piece of ID and my hospital card.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-05 18:09 [p.16784]
Mr. Speaker, many people from Beauport—Limoilou are listening to us this evening, and I would like to say hello to them. It is a pleasure to represent them, especially this evening as we debate Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing) an act to amend the Canada Elections Act. This bill basically seeks to legitimize and formalize a palpable and tangible form of corruption in Canada. We first saw this system in the 1990s and 2000s, under the successive governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. However, the federal Liberals have also used this system over 100 times since 2015. They are now trying to formalize and legitimize it by introducing a bill in the House.
What was the system established by Ontario's Liberal government in the 1990s? Two people were responsible for its implementation, namely Mr. Butts and Ms. Telford. Mr. Butts is currently the Prime Minister principal secretary. He works in the Langevin Block. I will always call it by this name because I am very proud of it. Mr. Langevin is a French Canadian who spent his entire career fighting for Quebec's right to have a seat at the cabinet table so that Quebeckers and French Canadians would be heard at the start of the 20th century. Mr. Langevin was also a great source of pride for Macdonald's government. Thus, it is an affront to me that his name was removed from the Langevin Block. I now will return to the matter at hand.
Mr. Butts is principal secretary to the Prime Minister, and Ms. Telford is, or at least I think she still is, the Prime Minister's chief of staff. Incidentally, the Prime Minister's Office is another institution that should be shut down immediately. What did those two individuals do when they introduced this system in Ontario? They made sure that ministers—as well as any backbenchers like myself and other members here who want to advance their career and perhaps become a minister to do great things for this country—would have to conform to a system that would relegate the issues that matter to them to the back burner, issues like the Constitution, the development of francophone communities, their ridings, their constituents, and community groups. The members are told that what matters is filling the party's coffers so that they can win elections, not with well-reasoned arguments, but rather by spending billions of dollars.
This system involved quotas for each minister and anyone who wanted to become a minister. For example, the finance minister and the Ontario health minister each had to raise half a million dollars a year. In this tightly organized system, the cocktail parties and fundraisers hosted by ministers had to be linked somehow to their portfolios. Another thing that surprised me about the Liberal members' speeches is that they do not want to talk about the very clear distinction between partisan fundraising events and cash for access events like the ones the Liberals held over 100 times between 2015 and 2017.
Just like every MP in Canada, I have fundraised with members of my own party, the Conservative Party, or with people who were interested in meeting Conservatives in order to better understand our political philosophy, what we can do for Canada, where we are coming from, and where we are going. In short, they wanted to know our ideas for this great country. However, I have never attended a fundraiser where there were 30 people from the same organization or the same profession who had an existing contract, business project, or other interest to bring to the attention of some federal department.
Every time that I participate in a fundraiser, many Canadians who are interested in politics come to meet the Conservatives to find out more about our political party. However, cash for access fundraisers stem from considerable pressure from the Prime Minister's Office. The justice and finance ministers, for example, are required to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Under this system, every minister purposely and carefully comes up with detailed guest lists that include organizations or individuals that lobby the government on files related to his or her portfolio.
Here are two real-life examples. As recently as 2016, the Minister of Justice organized an event in Toronto. I do not remember the exact date, but this event has been discussed at length today. Most of the people who attended were lobbying the government to make changes to the Criminal Code and the Canadian judiciary, or even to become judges. I would like to know if there was even one Liberal MP at that event or whether even one ordinary Toronto resident was there to learn more about the Liberals' political philosophy—if they have one, other than a desire to be in power. In short, the Minister of Justice had to apologize for organizing this event, since it was so blatant.
It was the same thing when the Minister of Finance met with port authority representatives in Halifax. That event was also attended by businessmen who had very important things they wanted to talk to the Minister of Finance about. Here again, they were not card-carrying members of the Liberal Party who wanted to know more about his vision for the country, and nor were they Haligonians interested in finding out what their 35 or 36 Liberal MPs are doing for Atlantic Canada. They were lobbyists with specific interests who knew full well that paying $1,500—that is now $1,575—would give them direct access to the minister and a chance to voice their concerns or make specific requests.
Those are two of the more egregious examples. Luckily, editors-in-chief at Canada's major daily papers got wind of them. Journalists tend to be pretty lenient with this government, but these two typical cash for access functions stank so badly of corruption that the media ran the stories.
The Prime Minister himself said that this practice lacked transparency and that it likely should not be condoned in Canadian politics because it would only make Canadians more cynical and less likely to want to take part in democracy when they see that it takes $1,500 to gain access to the Minister of Finance. When the media reported that and the Prime Minister and the government acknowledged that it was unfortunate for Canadian democracy, the Liberals decided to fix the problem by introducing Bill C-50, which, as I said from the outset, seeks to formalize and legitimize fundraising activities that provide special access.
What questions were raised in the House by my colleague from York—Simcoe, “Let us go back and see what happens. Is there anything in the bill that would stop the exact same thing from happening again?” The answer is no.
He went on, “Is there anything that would discourage it, because that maximum donation to the party is publicly disclosed anyhow?”
No, this will not prevent cash for access fundraisers from happening again. This is a smokescreen. There is absolutely nothing in this bill that will prevent this type of corruption in Canada. On the contrary, the Liberal government is merely legitimizing and formalizing rampant corruption and giving itself a leg up when it comes to fundraising in Canada.
We must condemn this. It is absolutely shameful.
As the member for Beauport—Limoilou, I strongly oppose this bill.
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