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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
2019-03-22 12:03 [p.26480]
Mr. Speaker, Liberal MPs voted for 48 hours straight for one reason and one reason alone: to protect the Prime Minister, who is refusing to disclose all the facts about the SNC-Lavalin case.
Over the past two weeks, two ministers, the Prime Minister's senior adviser and the Clerk of the Privy Council resigned. This week, a Liberal MP even quit the caucus. There is clearly more to the story.
When will the Prime Minister give Canadians the whole truth and shed light on the SNC-Lavalin affair?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:15 [p.22508]
Madam Speaker, this a very important debate today, as we are speaking about increasing safeguards at the workplace for males and females, concerning discrimination, harassment, be it sexual or other types of harassment.
It struck me today that, on an ongoing basis, my colleagues have been asking members on the other side of this House about the actions that were alleged this summer, through the media, that the Prime Minister inappropriately touched a journalist 20 years ago. The PM has not addressed this situation in an appropriate way.
What does the member have to say about this?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-04-17 12:19 [p.18412]
Mr. Speaker, I think a point of order is appropriate here. I have been listening to my colleague for about 10 minutes now, and he has been talking about what his government is doing with the country's finances. I believe we are supposed to be debating the conflicts of interest this government has been a party to for the past year. The Prime Minister has essentially been accused of breaking a federal statute. I think that is what we should be talking about. We moved an amendment to refer the matter to Canada's Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to get some suggestions for how to address the flaws in the legislation. I think the member across the way should stick to the issue at hand.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:27 [p.17281]
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Saint-Laurent certainly knows that the Liberals did not invent the wheel when it comes to the veterans reintegration, rehabilitation services, and vocational assistance program.
I was the veterans affairs critic in 2015-16. The hon. member for Saint-Laurent is a member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs. Perhaps she should do her homework. Maybe she did, but is not saying. She talked about the increased benefits under her government, and if that is true then that is great, but we did the same thing. We increased all the benefits. The first time the charter came into effect, in 2006, it was under Mr. Harper's Conservative government. Most benefits were increased.
However, we did not make sweeping promises during an election. We never over-promised anything, not for any sector of society.
Unfortunately, the hon. member did not touch on what we are talking about. I would like her to answer the following: does she think that it was honourable of the Prime Minister to solemnly promise in 2015, hand on his heart, that veterans should never, ever have to go to court to fight for their rights, when this very government has now allowed its Department of Justice to take veterans back to court in the Equitas Society case? Does she think that is acceptable and that the Prime Minister was right to break his promise to veterans? That was a solemn promise.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:32 [p.17282]
Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise today. I will be sharing my time with the member for Lakeland.
As usual, I would like to say hello to the many constituents of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching. Two months ago, as I was going door to door in Limoilou, I met a man who said that he listened to all of my speeches. He talked to me about how the festivals at Cartier-Brébeuf park cause noise disturbances. I want to say hello to him.
First, I would like to say that I am very passionate and care a lot about any issues that affect Canada's veterans, mainly for family reasons. On the Clarke side of the family, fathers and sons have served in the Canadian Armed Forces since 1890, and I was no exception. My great-grandfather, William Clarke, served in the First World War and the Boer War. My grandfather, Robert Clarke, served in the Second World War. My father, Patrick Clarke, served our country in Berlin during the German occupation in the 1970s. My brother, Anthony Clarke, served in Afghanistan in 2006 during the campaign in which most lives were lost. I served the country in the reserves and never went overseas. It is perhaps one my biggest disappointments that I was not able to serve this beautiful country in times of war.
My colleagues opposite say that we, as Conservatives, should be embarrassed about how we treated veterans. However, I just shared my family's and my history, and I am in no way embarrassed to be a Conservative. I assure my colleagues opposite that I am being sincere. If the Conservatives had acted poorly towards veterans, I would admit it, if I were minimally honourable and capable of analyzing public policy—which I am. This is not at all the case, however, and I will have to talk about everything that we did for veterans. This is not the primary focus of my speech, but I have no choice, because all the Liberal members have been saying since this morning that the Conservatives were horrible to veterans. Our treatment of veterans is not the focus of this opposition day. Today's focus is the following:
That the House call on the Prime Minister to apologize to veterans for his insensitive comments at a recent town hall in Edmonton and show veterans the respect that they deserve by fulfilling his campaign promise to them, when he said on August 24, 2015, that “If I earn the right to serve this country as your Prime Minister, no veteran will be forced to fight their own government for the support and compensation they have earned”.
Not only did the Prime Minister break this solemn promise in an egregious manner when he stated at a town hall in Edmonton that veterans were asking for too much, but he broke three other promises. The Prime Minister promised Canadians that, if they voted for him, he would restore lifetime pensions for veterans. He broke this promise because the lifetime pension established and presented by the Liberals before Christmas does not really restore the old lifetime pension. Most veterans who elect to pull out of the former system, which applies to those who fought before 2006, will not get 100% of the amounts they were receiving.
The Prime Minister also promised that veterans would not have to fight their own government to obtain the support and compensation they deserve. Yesterday, my great colleague from Barrie—Innisfil introduced a bill that proposes a covenant. It is a commitment, an agreement, or a contract. My colleague from Barrie—Innisfil probably wanted to enter into a proper contract with veterans by changing the Department of Veterans Affairs Act and compensation for the Canadian Armed Forces by amending section 4 of the act by adding the following:
...the Minister shall take into account the following principles:
(a) that the person, as well as their dependants or survivors, is to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness;
It is interesting, because the Prime Minister delivered a big speech here yesterday about the relationship that his government and Canada have with our brave indigenous peoples, who have been here for thousands of years. He said we do not need to change the Constitution, because section 35 already says that we recognize the rights of indigenous peoples. The Prime Minister said that instead, we need to change the way we view indigenous peoples and treat them with dignity and respect, and that is how we will give them the recognition they want.
However, that is exactly what my colleague from Barrie—Innisfil wrote in his motion on veterans. His motion called for the concept of treating veterans with dignity and respect to be incorporated into the act, so that bureaucrats and judges would take that concept into consideration when making decisions about veterans' benefits. Sadly, the Prime Minister voted against that motion yesterday. Is that not a shame?
I am disappointed, not only because the Liberals voted against this motion, but also because day after day in question period, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Prime Minister, and his veteran colleagues trot out the same hogwash about how the Conservatives treated veterans disgracefully. Those are lies.
Ours was the first government to implement the new veterans charter. We significantly increased virtually all of the compensation amounts. Every day in question period, rather than actually answering questions and apologizing for what the Prime Minister said, the Liberals spout off this kind of nonsense when what they should be doing is explaining how they intend to respect veterans, some of whom are meeting with a number of my colleagues outside.
Another thing I am disappointed about has to do with Bill C-357, a bill I introduced to create a grandfather clause for veterans wanting to transition to the public service. They could thus avoid having to work another five years to collect full retirement benefits. It is a very simple bill.
I have repeatedly requested a meeting with the Minister of Veterans Affairs. I even told him to forget about my bill and incorporate its amendments into the Treasury Board rules so that the 80 veterans who have to work an extra five years in Canada's public service to retire with dignity can benefit from the grandfather clause. The Minister of Veterans Affairs refused to meet with me. This would cost about $2 million. That is peanuts.
As a final point, in response to my colleagues, I want to point out what we, the Conservatives, have done since 2006. First, we created the position of veterans ombudsman. Second, we announced clinics for veterans affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. Third, we established the Veterans Bill of Rights, which is on my desk in Beauport—Limoilou. On top of that, we announced additional funding to support operational stress injury clinics.
Furthermore, we created the atomic veterans recognition program. We launched an outreach campaign with community partners to identify and support homeless veterans in the Montreal area. In addition, in 2010, we created a community war memorial program, because once again, veterans often need recognition. We also introduced benefits for seriously injured veterans, including the earnings loss benefit, to increase monthly financial support.
All of that was introduced by the Conservative government, and that is not all. We also improved access to the career impact allowance, another measure created by the Conservative government. Is that not incredible? We also created a $1,000 supplement to the career impact allowance for the most seriously injured veterans. That is another Conservative government measure. Lastly, let us not forget the flexible payment options for veterans and Canadian Forces members who are receiving a disability award. That is another Conservative government measure. Is that not incredible, Mr. Speaker?
Despite everything I just said, the bottom line is that the Prime Minister made a solemn promise in 2015, hand on heart and surrounded by top military brass who are now MPs. He said that veterans would never, ever have to fight in court for their rights.
That is what is going on. He broke his promise. There is nothing honourable about that. It is most unfortunate.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:43 [p.17283]
Mr. Speaker, we did not leave a mess. Concerning the Equitas Society, the hon. member for Durham came to a truce with them with dignity and respect, and said that when the Conservatives came back as the next government, they would continue to discuss together how to deal with this situation, which did not happen.
The reality is that the Prime Minister went further in his campaign and did politics on the backs of veterans, on the back of this court case, as he did politics this week on the back of a court case in Saskatchewan. He is always doing that. He did that with Equitas. This is the basis of the discourse today. With his hand on his heart, he said that veterans will never, ever have to fight the government for their rights. Then he broke his promise. This is what is happening today. This is what we are fighting against.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-15 13:47 [p.17284]
Mr. Speaker, I too have a great deal of respect for my NDP colleague who makes very impassioned speeches.
I have two answers that are short and to the point. The new veterans charter is a new paradigm for the treatment of veterans. It is not perfect. I would say that if it were up to me, I would get rid of the new veterans charter and go back to the old system, which had better pensions. A veteran should not have to prove that he suffered. When he returns home from war let us just give him what he is owed.
This new paradigm was put in place by the Paul Martin government in December 2005. Ours was the first government to work with this new paradigm, whereby veterans carry the burden of proof. They have to prove that they suffered mentally or physically. That is the problem. In the United States, the government has the burden of proof. If the Liberals want to improve the situation, they have to reverse the onus.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-02-06 13:37 [p.16820]
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Durham for his excellent speech.
This matter involving the Prime Minister and the Aga Khan’s island is very unfortunate, but something positive has come of it. It has allowed us to see through the government and all of its Liberal MPs who have been claiming to have a monopoly on virtue since 2015. They have been playing games with Canadians for the past two years, claiming day after day, year after year, in a disgusting and apolitical manner, that we Conservatives are not working for the well-being of all Canadians.
The Prime Minister’s 2016 vacation on the Aga Khan’s island is so troubling for Canadians that the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner found four violations of the law. It is now obvious, after this trip, that the Liberals no longer have the monopoly on virtue.
All Canadians can now see the Liberals’ true colours: a political, post-modern and radical left made up of social engineers who want to change our beautiful country’s customs and traditions merely for the sake of change.
Thank God for opposition day. Thank God, because when he was found guilty of four violations of the Conflict of Interest Act, the Prime Minister merely apologized, saying that he would not do it again.
If the Liberals were in opposition, they would do exactly what we are doing right now. Incidentally, this is not a tactic to divert attention from the country’s finances, which are regrettable on several levels. We are doing our democratic and parliamentary duty. We must enlighten the many Canadians and citizens of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening. We must explain that this is the first time in the history of Canada, since its creation in 1867, that a prime minister has broken a federal law.
How did he break the law? The Ethics Commissioner explained it very simply by referring to the four sections violated. She wrote, “I [also] found that...he contravened section 5 for failing to arrange his private affairs to avoid such an opportunity.” She also said that she found him “in contravention of section 11 of the Act when members of his family accepted the Aga Khan’s gift of hospitality and the use of his private island in March 2016 and when he and his family accepted the Aga Khan’s gift of hospitality in December 2016.” She concluded by saying that “[the Prime Minister] contravened section 21 of the Act when he did not recuse himself from discussions that provided an opportunity to improperly further the private interest associated with one of the institutions of the Aga Khan....”
The Canadian government gave the Aga Khan tens of millions of dollars, my friends, and your political leader went gallivanting around on his billionaire’s island.
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 13:50 [p.16822]
Madam Speaker, I wish I had a recorder when I saw that on TV.
Yes, I was discouraged by it. However, no report from the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner was made or put forward on that particular issue. I trust the parliamentary agent, and nothing was produced in regard to the issue he is speaking about. However, something was produced in regard to the trip of the Prime Minister to the Aga Khan's island.
However, beside this matter of equality, my main argument today is that it was completely dishonourable for the Prime Minister to go to an island in the south. He should stay here.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-03-22 14:48 [p.9897]
Mr. Speaker, it is not just a question of role and money. It is a question of principle and honour, and the government has none.
A prime minister must adhere to three guiding principles: he must show humility, show restraint, and manage finances carefully.
When will this Prime Minister finally act with honour, lead by example, and stop wasting Canadians' money?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2016-09-22 13:26 [p.4971]
Mr. Speaker, I, too, believe that I am the voice of the people of Atlantic Canada, where I lived between the ages of two and 11. Acadia is still very much a part of me, and that is why I absolutely had to speak about it today.
Right in the middle of summer, the Prime Minister arrogantly and unabashedly announced that he intended to change the historic process for appointing Supreme Court justices that has been in place since 1875.
More than any other, this government announcement has made me dislike the political party that currently governs our great country. Yes, like many Canadians, I am outraged by such actions and attitudes that show the true arrogance of this government.
I am saddened by this unsettling desire, so brazenly expressed by the Prime Minister, to radically alter our constitutional customs, the very customs that have informed government policy for so long in Canada.
If this Liberal government decides to change the constitutional convention for choosing Supreme Court justices without first obtaining the consent of all parliamentarians in the House, it will be going too far. Therefore, and I am choosing my words carefully, this government's actions in the past few months make me fear the worst for the federal unity of this great country.
The Prime Minister is not just interfering in provincial jurisdictions whenever he feels like it, but also interfering in his own areas of jurisdiction by planning to make sweeping changes without even consulting the opposition parties or the public. This is nothing short of anti-democratic. There are other examples of this.
First, the Prime Minister plans to change Canada's nearly 150-year-old voting system without holding a referendum to do so. It is no secret that he and his acolytes are doing this for partisan reasons and to protect their political interests as well.
Then, this same Prime Minister shamelessly suggested just this morning that he wanted to put an end to a 141-year-old constitutional convention. I am talking about the constitutional convention whereby a Prime Minister selects and appoints a judge to the Supreme Court when a seat becomes vacant while ensuring that the new appointee comes from a region similar to that of the person who occupied the vacant seat.
The purpose of this constitutional convention is to guarantee that the decisions rendered by the highest court in the country reflect the regional differences in our federation. Must I remind the political party before me that Canada has five distinct regions and that those regions are legally recognized?
The fact is that Jean Chrétien's Liberal government passed a law that provides for and gives each of the regions of Canada a quasi-constitutional right of veto. Accordingly, the Atlantic provinces, and their region as a whole, do have a say when it comes to the Constitution Act of 1982.
What is more, the British North America Act guarantees the Atlantic provinces fair and effective representation in the House of Commons. For example, New Brunswick is guaranteed 10 seats. The same is true in the Senate, where it is guaranteed just as many seats. Under the same convention, each of the Atlantic provinces holds at least one seat on the Council of Ministers.
How can our friends opposite justify threatening, out of the blue, to reduce to nil the Atlantic provinces' presence in the highest court of the country? If the government moves forward with this new approach, will it do the same to Quebec, the national stronghold of French Canadians? That does not make any sense.
I invite the government to think about this: can the Supreme Court of Canada really render fair and informed decisions on cases affecting the Atlantic provinces without any representation from that region?
Justice for Atlantic Canadians means treating them as equals. It seems the Liberals could not care less about the regions even though every one of them includes distinct communities that want Supreme Court decisions to reflect their values, goals and ideas about the world.
For the Prime Minister to suggest, if only in passing, we defy the convention whereby one seat on the Supreme Court of Canada's bench is reserved for Atlantic Canada is offensive to many legal experts and associations, including Janet Fuhrer, a past president of the Canadian Bar Association, and Ann Whiteway Brown, president of the New Brunswick branch of the Canadian Bar Association.
Echoing this sentiment are the Law Society of New Brunswick, the Atlantic Provinces Trial Lawyers Association, and the Société nationale de l'Acadie, which advocates on behalf of Acadians worldwide.
Disregarding this constitutional convention is tantamount to stripping four out of ten provinces of their voice in the highest court in the land.
Must I also remind members that the Atlantic provinces have a large pool of extremely qualified legal professionals who come from every region and background and who are perfectly bilingual? More importantly, these are candidates who have a vast knowledge of the Atlantic provinces' legal systems and issues. Is there anyone in this House, or elsewhere, who would dispute that?
Even more importantly, there are a few significant constitutional cases on the horizon that could have major repercussions on the Atlantic provinces. Consider, for example, the case referred to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal regarding the elimination of protected Acadian ridings. Hearings on this are currently under way.
Is the Prime Minister really thinking about having judges from other regions rule on a case that deals with how Acadians are represented, when Acadians have been fighting for their survival on this continent for generations?
Is that really what our friends across the aisle want? Do the Liberals from Atlantic Canada really want to muzzle New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, two founding provinces of this great country?
The change that the Prime Minister wants to make to how judges are lawfully appointed to the Supreme Court is essentially a total and complete reversal of this country's established constitutional practices. How shameful and how arrogant.
It would seem the son is following in his father's footsteps. Do hon. members not see what is happening? Just like his father before him, the Prime Minister wants to alter the constitutional order of our country.
Fear not, however, because we in the Conservative Party are not buying it. We not only see what this Prime Minister is doing, but we also see know full well that behind this change in convention is a much greater ideological design.
There is an underlying desire to profoundly change Canadian constitutional arrangements and replace them with a post-materialist world view that is a departure from our constitutional traditions.
In this world view, the main objective is to eliminate from our government institutions, in this case the Supreme Court, the historical and traditional community characteristics that have defined Canada since day one by replacing them with individual and associational characteristics.
In other words, the Prime Minister obviously wants to eliminate the political predominance of certain constituencies in the Canadian constitutional order, at the Supreme Court in particular. He wants to promote a new political predominance, that of associational groups that bring together individuals who share individual rights rather than constituent rights.
Although that may be commendable in some ways, it is a major change because the Prime Minister is ensuring that the very essence of political representativeness and the concept of diversity within the judiciary is changed. The Prime Minister wants a representativeness based on a concept of individual diversity and fragmented by idiosyncratic characteristics.
In light of this potential change, Canadians across the country, including those from Atlantic Canada, must protest and call on the Prime Minister to answer for this. The Prime Minister cannot act unilaterally in this case and must involve all the players concerned.
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