Interventions in the House of Commons
 
 
 
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View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Pursuant to an order made on Thursday, December 5, the House will now proceed to statements on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
I now recognize the right hon. Prime Minister.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2019-12-06 9:35 [p.25]
Mr. Speaker, 30 years ago today, 14 women were murdered in an anti-feminist attack at École Polytechnique in Montreal. It has been 30 years since Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau and Barbara Daigneault were killed in cold blood, 30 years since the lives of Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair and Anne-Marie Lemay were tragically cut short, 30 years since we lost Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte and Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz.
We gather today to mourn the loss of these women, these daughters, sisters, friends and colleagues.
Each December, as we honour the memories of those 14 women, the survivors and the families, we promise to do better, but the reality is that in 30 years things have not changed enough. Women, girls and people of diverse gender identities still face unacceptable and preventable violence, violence that destroys lives, families and communities. It is more than time for change.
It is more than time to put an end to gender-based violence, including the national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, because it is more than time to build a country where everyone is safe and where everyone's rights are respected and realized.
To find the way forward, we need only look around. From coast to coast to coast, people are coming together and saying enough is enough. Students and parents, women and men are saying no to misogyny, to sexism, to hatred and to discrimination.
To the survivors, advocates and everyday Canadians who have taken up this work, their courage is powerful and we will always stand with them.
Actions speak louder than words. That is why we will be building on the progress made under Canada's strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence in order to develop a national action plan. That is also why we are investing in women-led organizations in Canada and around the world. However, we cannot stop there. We need to do more, because even to this day, people in our communities are still losing loved ones to gun violence.
This fall, I announced that we will strengthen gun laws and ban the types of weapons used at École polytechnique. These weapons, designed to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time, have no place in our communities, in our streets, in our country. Too many lives have already been lost, and thoughts and prayers will not stop another tragedy. It is time to take real steps to end gun violence in Canada.
On December 6, 1989, I was in CEGEP, just a few blocks away from the École Polytechnique. I will never forget that deadly night.
As we come together today to remember the tragic events of 30 years ago, we must take action, on behalf of our sisters, our daughters and all Canadians, to ensure that it never happens again.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
There were 14 of them. They were young, smart, and filled with ambition. They were looking forward to the bright future that lay ahead for them. No one knows when their time is up, and those young women never could have guessed that one evil man was about to rob them of what was most precious—their lives.
Exactly 30 years ago today, these young women were heading to university. For many of them, it was the last day of class, which is normally a happy day. What were they thinking about when they got up that morning? They might have been thinking about the upcoming holidays, or reuniting with their families and loved ones. Maybe they had a Christmas carol in their head. They were likely a little nervous about their upcoming exams. They might have been thinking of future projects they wanted to take on.
All of those hopes and dreams were brutally destroyed that afternoon when a man committed a terrible and violent crime. On December 6, 1989, at the École Polytechnique, he separated men and women and started shooting the women, murdering 14 women and wounding many others.
Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault and Annie Turcotte lost their lives. These names of these 14 women deserve to be read and honoured.
The victims of the École Polytechnique were wounded or killed by a man who targeted them because they were women. Thirty years later, we pause on this day, December 6, to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
As a father of three wonderful girls, as a brother to two brilliant sisters and as a husband to an extraordinary woman, it pains me to think that these women who I love so much, and all women today, still have to be concerned for their safety just because they are women.
It is completely unacceptable that violence against women is still happening. That is why I am proposing that all Canadians, myself included, do more than just be respectful toward women. Let us also be proactive and demonstrate through our actions how much we value the safety and dignity of every life, of every single woman.
Thirty years later, let us honour the memory of these innocent victims.
Let us consider the messages we send about the value, worth and dignity of women in our speeches, our actions and the examples we set for our sons and daughters. Let us each decide to do our part to make Canada a safer place. In this way, 30 years later, let us honour the memory of the victims of École Polytechnique.
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
BQ (QC)
View Andréanne Larouche Profile
2019-12-06 9:47 [p.26]
Mr. Speaker, there is a plaque on the wall of the École Polytechnique, and there are 14 names engraved on that plaque: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte. They were the 14 women whose lives were taken, who were murdered because they were women. These 14 women were daughters, partners, sisters, friends. They were taken from the people they loved, from the people who loved them.
Although 14 women were killed in the anti-feminist attack at the École Polytechnique, the victims number in the thousands, in the millions even. Thirty years later, all Quebeckers still bear this burden, this awful sense of being tainted. This happened in Quebec at the hands of a Quebecker. We all lost something on December 6, 1989. A man walked into a classroom in a place of knowledge and learning, he separated the men and the women, he let the men leave, and then he lined up the nine women and opened fire.
One of the students, Nathalie Provost, looked him in the eye and tried to calm him down. She said, “Listen, we are just women studying engineering. We are not feminists about to take to the streets in a tirade against men. We are just students trying to live normal lives.” Six of the women were killed, and three were injured. They were just students trying to live normal lives. After that, he left the classroom and went on a terrifying a 20-minute rampage through the school.
We all want our children to go to school. We tell them to go to school, to learn, to find a career that suits them, to contribute to society and to do their best. On December 6, 1989, however, a school, a university, was the site of a cowardly act of violence, hate and misogyny.
It is not enough to commemorate the events at Polytechnique. It is not enough to remember where we were and who we were with. That is not enough. Thirty years after this event, we must continue to fight to ensure that an anti-feminist attack like the one on December 6, 1989, never happens again.
The following 14 names will be forever etched in our history books: Geneviève Bergeron, Hélène Colgan, Nathalie Croteau, Barbara Daigneault, Anne-Marie Edward, Maud Haviernick, Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz, Maryse Laganière, Maryse Leclair, Anne-Marie Lemay, Sonia Pelletier, Michèle Richard, Annie St-Arneault, Annie Turcotte.
We must take action in your name. You forever symbolize the fight to end violence against women, you are part of our conscience, and you are what inspires us to do better and be a better society.
Thirty years later, thirty years after this day of infamy, let us make a solemn commitment to fight misogyny, hate and violence against women.
Words are not enough. In the House, we have the ability to take concrete action to ensure that an anti-feminist attack such as the one that occurred at the École Polytechnique in Montreal never happens again.
We can introduce stronger gun controls, especially for assault weapons and handguns, tighten border controls for firearms and ensure that buyers of firearms are not a threat to anyone's life.
We must also address daily violence against women, the blows, the horrible violence committed against women simply because they are women.
We need to get going. We need to take action. We have a duty to be vigilant. We owe it to the women we lost on December 6, 1989, and to the women we have lost since then. Let us act to ensure that this never happens again.
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2019-12-06 9:54 [p.27]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on behalf of all New Democrats in remembrance of that terrible day, December 6, 1989, when 14 women were killed by a man who hated them because of their gender.
Even after 30 years, it is still horrific to think of these deaths, how young the women were and how much promise their lives held. What continues to hit me today is how ordinary violence is, and the message that it sends to women. We need to stop putting the responsibility of being safe on women and girls and start putting the responsibility of respecting women on men.
The hatred of women that fuelled the shooter that day 30 years ago has not gone away. It still exists and every two and half days a woman or girl is killed in our country, often by someone she knew.
It is here when women walk home at night with their keys in their hands and a friend on speed-dial to make sure they make it home safe. It was in Toronto last year, when a bitter young man with a violent hatred for women ran down 10 people with a van, and it is here every single day when indigenous women and girls are dehumanized, stolen from their communities and murdered.
Thirty years after Canadians said “never again” in the wake of the École Polytechnique tragedy, we must all acknowledge that we have a long way to go to keep that promise.
Systemic change begins when governments take male violence against women seriously, recognize that it is an epidemic, and bring in a national action plan to end gender-based violence.
It means calling out damaging language that blames women, dehumanizes survivors and excuses men's brutality wherever it appears in our media or our justice system. It means listening to women and believing them when they share their experiences. It means men working every day to become better feminist allies and holding other men to account for sexism and misogyny. It means making sure that when a woman, girl or trans person needs access to counselling or a shelter it is there for them with no wait, no matter where they live.
It means that groups providing these services on the ground have stable funding so that they can focus on helping women to escape violence and rebuild their lives, instead of on scraping by until the end of each funding cycle. It also means all of us in the House naming this epidemic for what it is: men's violence against women.
Today, 30 years after that terrible December 6, we remember the 14 women who were killed because a man hated feminists and we mourn them. I hope that 30 years from now, we look back on this time as one when we as a country said “enough is enough”.
There is no such thing as an isolated incident of violence against women. There are only choices that we make as Canadians. Today we say that one death is one too many, and that toxic masculinity hurts us all.
Every woman and girl has the right to humane treatment, safety, happiness and freedom and they have the right to have ambition. We support that choice through the actions taken in memory of the thousands of women and girls killed by violent men. On this day, we owe them nothing less.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
GP (NB)
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2019-12-06 10:00 [p.27]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the unceded, unsurrendered homeland of the Anishinabe Algonquin nation on which we stand.
Today is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. We remember the victims of the December 6, 1989, attack at École Polytechnique. This attack was a vile, anti-feminist act, and it was not an isolated one. This attack was a direct consequence of the rampant misogyny in our society. Violence against women has not been eradicated in our communities.
Misogyny continues to exist today and has seen a resurgence as of late. As with racism or homophobia, we must name it so we can end it. There can be no place for gender-based hatred in our society.
This day commemorates a living history of ongoing violence against women and girls and members of the LGBTQIA2+ community, particularly those who also face other forms of discrimination for their race, religion or economic status. Whether it is in the echoes of a fight from the apartment upstairs, in hateful comments on Facebook or Twitter or in the backlog of case files of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, we must not forget that there is still so much violence and marginalization facing women across the country.
We must work to educate society about consent and our responsibility to call out violence where we see it, to intervene and to help prevent instances of abuse. We must also support women who are seeking to end the violence they face. We must believe them.
Yesterday, CBC/Radio-Canada reported that New Brunswick had the highest number of domestic murder-suicides of all Canadian provinces. Seventy percent of these homicides are committed in rural communities. These tragic deaths prove that there is a glaring lack of essential services to support women who are facing all kinds of violence.
By the same token, we need to support women who continue to push boundaries and break through the glass ceilings in their own worlds, despite the challenges and sometimes the dangers that this brings.
Today I remember the 14 women cut down in the massacre at École Polytechnique, and today I commit to women across Canada, and indeed across the world, that I believe them and support them. There is no room for misogyny in Canada.
I remember.
[Member spoke in Wolastoqiyik]
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I invite all members to stand and observe a moment of silence in memory of the victims of the tragedy that occurred 30 years ago at École Polytechnique in Montreal.
[A moment of silence observed]
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the applause from the other side, but members have not heard what I am about to say yet, so they might want to retract it in a few moments. I appreciate it and thank them.
As we take our seats and take up the people's business in this chamber, we all share in a privilege of protecting the hopes and dreams of our neighbours, communities and fellow Canadians through the work we do.
As I return here for the sixth time, I am so grateful to once again have earned the confidence of my constituents in Regina—Qu'Appelle, because this seat does not belong to me; it belongs to them. None of the seats in this chamber belong to any of us, including the Prime Minister's seat. Instead, these seats all belong to the people who sent us here, and they sent us here to get to work. Canadians sent us here to make sure the country works for them, their jobs, their livelihoods, their cost of living, their health care, their environment, the safety of their communities and the security of our country on the world stage.
It is clear that we have a lot of work to do. No matter what party or region we are from, we all have a duty to listen, to learn, to grow and to improve. All of us, on both sides of the House, need to expect more from ourselves and from others.
This is particularly true in light of the results of the last election, in which the people sent a clear message to all of us that the status quo had failed, that the approach of the previous four years was just not good enough.
Canadians want better, and as the strongest opposition in Canadian history, we are going to make sure they get better. We will spend this Parliament proposing constructive solutions to Canada's most pressing problems. We are prepared to work with Canadians of every political stripe, focused on implementing ideas that actually work.
This does not mean we will compromise on the principles that make us Conservatives, and it certainly does not mean that we will shirk from our responsibilities as Her Majesty's loyal opposition to hold the government accountable every day in every way for its ethical lapses, errors and misdeeds. Canada's Conservatives are always prepared to look for common ground, but make no mistake, we will do our job.
It is just as important to recognize that when Canadians voted in the fall election, when they passed judgment on the previous four years, they were rendering a verdict on a four-year stretch in which the Liberal Party wielded virtually unchecked power. While the talking heads and pundits have been working overtime to spin the election results as anything else, the facts of this election are clear: The Liberal Party lost votes and seats in every region of the country. It lost the popular vote and was reduced to a minority government with the weakest mandate in Canadian history.
Canadians sent the Prime Minister a message that requires some reflection, as he himself admits.
Just because the Prime Minister avoided being fired does not mean he gets to act like he had a promotion. To be fair, he gave the appearance that he might be changing. He met with me and opposition leaders early on to discuss shared goals. He made a grand show of meeting premiers and mayors from across the country. However, yesterday in the Speech from the Throne, he revealed that he has not learned a thing, that he has not changed at all, even though the people of Canada sent a message that they demand better: better than four years of unserious, entitled government; better than four years of government that puts the interests of activists and lobbyists ahead of the jobs for Canadian families; better than four years of the Prime Minister's lecturing others about standards the he himself refused to live up to.
Canadians demand better. They demand a fundamentally new approach by a government that is prepared to rise to this moment in history. Times of fear bring times of division, and Canadians are afraid for their country. We must return to what makes us strong as a nation. We must put a stop to the divisive policies that have pitted province against province and region against region.
Canada was built on the idea that we are stronger when we work together, when we dream together, when big nation-building projects are seen not just as possible but necessary. I believe we can build that kind of Canada again. That is what we came to the House prepared to work for.
Yesterday we were sorely disappointed. This throne speech was supposed to be the first real part of the Prime Minister's new approach. That is what these speeches are all about. It is a statement of intent about how the government has changed, how it will learn and how it will improve. As I listened to the Governor General, that is what I was waiting to hear, some humility. I am still waiting.
If this Liberal government ends just like the last one, then an opportunity to learn and grow will have been missed and the message Canadians sent to the Liberal Party on October 21 will have truly been ignored.
One of the most important roles of the official opposition is to always be ready as a government in waiting to provide an alternative to the status quo. This is doubly true in a minority Parliament.
Today I want to talk about the challenges our country is facing, as well as the opportunities ahead and the leadership it will need.
I will talk about the kinds of actions all Canadians should expect from all parties in this Parliament: first, support for Canadian families that are struggling with the rising cost of living; second, keeping Canadians safe in an increasingly unstable world; third, creating and sustaining good Canadian jobs in a time of economic uncertainty; fourth, protecting the environment and fighting climate change at home and around the world; and fifth, preserving national unity and healing the divisions between provinces, between regions and between all Canadians.
Let us begin by talking about what should be the top priority for us all: supporting Canadian families who are struggling with the rising cost of living. Too many of the political games being played by the political classes are far removed from the real hardships facing real people.
Over half of Canadians have $200 or less in the bank at the end of the month. They are a breath away from financial hardship. They are vulnerable to interest rate hikes, living as they do on the brink of insolvency.
September 2019 had the highest number of personal bankruptcies since the Great Recession and the middle class is struggling. Over the past three years, the number of food bank users with jobs has gone up 27%. More and more hard-working people are not getting by. People are struggling to pay the mortgage, the rent or their bills.
More and more Canadian families are struggling to put food on the table or gas up the car.
The tax burden is going up. Studies have shown that for an average Canadian family earning $117,000 of combined income, 44.7% of that income, or $52,000, goes to paying taxes, and 53% of that goes to paying federal taxes. Nevertheless, over the past several weeks there has been a chorus of voices from elite corners of Canadian high society demanding that our party endorse the carbon tax. Let me be clear: We will always oppose a carbon tax because we know the real cost it imposes on the Canadian people.
The entire point of the carbon tax is to make essentials more expensive, making it harder to put fuel in the tank. It is about punishing a mom for driving her kids to school, punishing a dad for driving his daughter to soccer practice, punishing a senior for turning up the heat on a cold winter's day. We are not going to support that, especially when the Liberal carbon tax has granted a massive exemption to the country's largest emitters. There are better ways to fight climate change.
It is time to take action to lower the cost of living and put more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
Another issue Canadians are looking to the government for leadership on is how we are going to keep them safe in an increasingly unstable world.
Let us not sugar-coat it. The world has become a much more dangerous place. The Government of China continues with an expansionist agenda that is threatening Hong Kong's vibrant democracy and the safety and security of the people of Hong Kong themselves.
Just as important to Canadians, the same Chinese dictatorship continues to hold two innocent Canadians hostage in retaliation to Canada's fulfilling its legal obligation to arrest and extradite Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. I understand that this is a matter of very serious diplomatic sensitivity for the government, and I have no doubt that behind the scenes there is a lot of work being done to secure the safe return of the two Canadians the Chinese government is holding. However, what is incomprehensible to Canadians is that in the face of this blatant attack, the Minister of Small Business still travelled to China and posed in photo ops to promote China as a place for Canadian investment.
Canadians are asking why the government is still giving $256 million to the Asian Infrastructure Bank so that China can develop infrastructure in other parts of the world. In fact, we found out just recently that this Asian Infrastructure Bank, funded by Canadian tax dollars at a time when western Canadian energy companies are struggling to get their product to market, funded not one but two pipeline projects in other countries. Canadians want to know why the Prime Minister is so silent in the face of such a blatant outrage. He should at least respond to what his own Minister of Foreign Affairs said: “China stand[s] out as [a] beacon of stability, predictability, a rule-based system, a very inclusive society.”
While he is at it, the Prime Minister could also share how his government intends to check the Russian expansionism that threatens countries like Ukraine and the Baltic states while funding cyber-sabotage around the world that threatens our alliances and democratic institutions.
While he is at it, he could explain the calculation his government made in abandoning the State of Israel and Jews around the world when his government curried favour with anti-Semitic factions at the United Nations to earn itself a Security Council seat.
However, most of all we would really appreciate hearing the Prime Minister talk about Canada's deteriorating relationship with the United States, one that was only exacerbated by his own conduct at this week's NATO summit. We understand that President Trump is a challenging negotiator, but Americans are our partners all the same, and no international file is more important to Canadian jobs and livelihoods than the ratification of the new NAFTA.
The fact is that 80% of our GDP depends on trade. We need an effective foreign policy to ensure that our allies and trade partners continue to trust us and trade with us.
Whether we are talking about steel industries in Ontario, aluminum industries in Quebec, our forestry industry in B.C., our agriculture and agri-food industries, including our supply-managed sectors, the auto sector, the aerospace sector or the hundreds of thousands of workers who depend on our energy sector, Canada's economy, Canadian workers and Canadian jobs depend on having a government that will stand up for our country no matter what.
This brings me to what should be another very important government priority: creating and sustaining Canadian jobs in a time of economic uncertainty.
Let us have some true moral clarity in the House right now. As I speak, a network of foreign-funded activist groups is trying to permanently shut down Canada's energy sector and drive hundreds of thousands of Canadians out of work. They have already done lasting damage to the economies in western Canada and to the livelihoods of thousands of families who depend on the development of our oil and gas to pay the bills. Every single member of the House should be expected to stand up and be counted. Do they stand with the activists or do they stand with the workers of Canada?
These groups take foreign funding and interfere in our discussion around energy and pipelines in this country. It has never made any sense to me why there are loud voices in this country, including many from the government benches, that want to ban and block the exportation of Canadian energy to foreign markets. Meanwhile, they do nothing when tanker after tanker of foreign oil comes into Canadian markets.
When Canadians make these decisions for themselves, they should be doing it by themselves. That is why a core Conservative commitment is to ban foreign-funded activist groups from participating in the approval process for large energy projects.
I can stand here confidently on behalf of every single member of the Conservative caucus and say with certainty that every single one of us will stand with Canadian workers every single time. Therefore, we are going to fight for pipelines, for lower taxes and for reduced regulations to make Canada the best place in the world to invest, start a business and create jobs. This will include repealing Bill C-69 and the tanker ban that has signalled that Canada is closed for business.
We will seek to diversify our trade relationships to reduce our dependence on the United States. When we, the Conservatives, were in office, we negotiated free trade and investment agreements with 53 countries, while protecting our business interests. We will put the same amount of energy into breaking down trade barriers in Canada as we will into standing up for free trade beyond our borders.
I hear it from our provincial counterparts and I hear it from businesses: It is time to build a true single market inside of Canada that can compete with trading blocs around the world and other single markets. We can do all of this while living up to our responsibility to future generations when it comes to environmental challenges like climate change.
Fighting climate change will require honesty and it will require co-operation, but first is honesty: Canada produces less than 2% of global emissions. China alone produces over 27% and saw a 4% increase in CO2 emissions just in the first half of 2019.
That is why our Conservative plan focuses on exporting Canadian green technologies and on substituting coal in China with clean Canadian natural gas and carbon capture technology. It is because we know that Canada can make a real difference by taking the climate change fight globally. Imposing a carbon tax on seniors will not do that. Even if it were possible to drop Canada's emissions to zero, it would not make a dent in our shared global obligation.
As well, if the Liberals do take climate change seriously, why would they rely so much on imposing taxes on essential things that are known to be unresponsive to price increases? It is time to stop targeting Canadian commuters and seniors and instead focus on innovative market-based policies that prepare Canada for the future and can ensure we make a real impact on global emissions. A real plan must offer a global vision for fighting climate change.
We can fight climate change without imposing taxes on parents who are taking their children to school. We need to invest in new technologies and establish a higher standard for big polluters so that they reduce their emissions at the source.
Finally, I want to talk about the gravest danger facing our nation's prosperity and the steps we can and must take to preserve national unity during this time of peril.
We are facing a time when our country is being divided between east and west, between English and French and between urban and rural. Even the divisions between generations continue to grow. No Canadian can afford to be oblivious to this threat, least of all members of this House. As a proud MP from Saskatchewan, I would caution all of our colleagues from across Canada to not underestimate the deep alienation and anger that people of my province, along with our neighbours in Alberta, currently feel about their deal in the confederation.
The damage done over the past four years is significant. Today, 175,000 Alberta energy workers are unemployed. Proud Canadian companies like TransCanada and Encana are moving their businesses to the U.S.
After only four years of Liberal rule, the Bloc Québécois, 32 sovereignist members strong, has returned with a vengeance. Premier Legault had specific requests. The Liberal government did not consider any of them, yet the Bloc members have decided to support the throne speech anyway. During the election campaign, the Bloc claimed to be the voice of Premier Legault, and this is the result. Only the Conservative members will stand up for Quebec's interests, not the Bloc.
The rifts dividing our country are deep, but they can heal. The first rule of medicine is to do no harm. That is why we must relegate the rigid ideological approach of the first Liberal term from the front pages to the history pages. We must focus on the things that unite Canadians.
I still believe that Canada can be a place of big dreams and that the same spirit that built the Canadian Pacific Railway, the TransCanada Highway and the St. Lawrence Seaway still exist today. We can still achieve big things together. This country can work for both the west and the east and for all provinces in between, but only a Conservative government has the vision to do just that.
I do believe that national unity is not something that we do; it is something that happens when we get the big things and the little things right. Our role as an official opposition is to fight for Canadians who, inadvertently or not, are hurt or left behind by the government's agenda, so we will show up every day. We will be ready to do our job.
We will use every tool at our disposal to oppose the items on the government's agenda that could harm Canadians.
We will constantly be at the ready, with better policies and a better plan to replace the government when it falls.
Canadians can no longer afford a government that gets the big questions wrong. We know we have a better program that will help unite Canada, create jobs, help Canadians make ends meet, and allow more Canadians from all races, regions, genders, religions, sexual orientations and languages to pursue their dreams and build a better life right here in Canada, right here at home.
On behalf of Canada's official opposition, I therefore move:
That the motion be amended by adding the following:
“and wishes to inform Your Excellency that Canada is threatened by:
Declining productivity and competitiveness, a rising cost of living and challenges to our society which requires:
Offering a plan for tax relief for Canadians with a path to a balanced budget,
Restoring Canada as an attractive place to invest,
Addressing social challenges that limit the ability of Canadians to achieve their full potential, and
Developing a real environment plan that strengthens the competitiveness of our economic sectors and tackles global climate change;
A weakening position within an increasingly uncertain world, which requires:
Confronting threats such as the regimes in Moscow and Beijing and protecting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic,
Developing a principled foreign policy that stands with traditional allies such as NATO, Ukraine, and Israel, and
Facing the rise of protectionism and strengthening the relationship with our largest trading partners;
A national unity crisis, which requires:
Respecting provincial jurisdiction and scrapping the carbon tax,
Stopping the attack on the Western Canadian economy, and
Restoring confidence in our national institutions, starting by returning ethics and accountability to the federal government.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
The amendment is in order.
Questions and comments.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-12-06 10:30 [p.32]
Mr. Speaker, over the years it has been very well established that this government and this Prime Minister have been focused on Canada's middle class. We have seen many progressive policies brought to the floor of the House that have enabled hundreds of thousands of children to be lifted out of poverty. Seniors have been lifted out of poverty. We have seen record amounts of infrastructure dollars invested in every region of our nation. We are—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
Could I have members' attention, please?
I want members to remember one thing I said yesterday: that our moms, dads, daughters and entire families are watching. I want them to be proud of us here and I do not think shouting is the way to do that.
The hon. member for Winnipeg North.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2019-12-06 10:31 [p.32]
Mr. Speaker, we are committed to providing ongoing support of Canada's middle class and those needing assistance to be lifted out of poverty. The throne speech embodies many progressive measures, such as a continued commitment to tax breaks for Canada's middle class. I am sure the leader of the official opposition will recall that the Conservative Party voted against many of those progressive measures, including the tax break.
When the leader of the official opposition says he will support Canadians from coast to coast, will he put actions to his words and support the government's initiative, which will continue to lift Canadians out of poverty and provide tax breaks for Canada's middle class?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, Conservatives always support tax reductions. What we were voting against were the tax hikes the Liberal government included in its budget, the cancelling of the children's fitness tax credit and the public transit tax credit, and the tens of billions of dollars of new debt that the Liberal government has piled onto the backs of future generations of Canadians taxpayers.
The member wants to talk about infrastructure dollars. The Parliamentary Budget Officer said that the Liberal plan “did not exist”. He wants to talk about jobs. November saw the biggest job decline in Canada in recent years. He wants to talk about the middle class. They are paying more taxes under the Liberal government. Almost 45% of their income is going just to pay the taxes.
If the member wants to see concrete proposals, he will find them in our plan to make life more affordable for Canadians by lowering taxes on all Canadians, by bringing back those popular tax credits that made life more affordable and by having a responsible plan to get back to balanced budgets so that less money from Canadian taxpayers is going just to pay the interest on the debt. I would invite him to vote for that plan.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-12-06 10:34 [p.32]
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the Leader of the Opposition back as Leader of the Opposition.
I listened with great interest to his speech and I heard the disconnect that we heard throughout the election. Sure, we heard about Liberal corruption, but we heard a lot about melting ground. Certainly the ground is melting beneath his feet for failing to put forward any coherent climate change plan.
I represent blue-collar industrial workers, and they are concerned about the issue of catastrophic climate change. Year in and year out, emissions rise. We are expecting a 60% rise in emissions from the oil fields in the next 20 years, and what do we get from the member? We get the conspiracy theory of foreign radicals trying to undermine our industry. Nobody buys that.
We do not have any coherent plan other than the carbon tax, but what I find deeply offensive is the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is telling the House that if Jason Kenney does not get his way and massively expand the oil fields, the Conservatives will put the issue of the future of our country on the table.
It is unacceptable that a Conservative member stands, without any coherent credibility on the single biggest crisis facing our planet, and tells the rest of Canada that they have to go along with his conspiracy theories, with no credibility on environmental change, or Conservatives will break up our country.
I would tell that member to drop that kind of language, because the ground is certainly melting beneath his feet very quickly at this point.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his re-election. I know he has a new seat in the House of Commons. He is being returned to that party as a member of the fourth party. I hope he enjoys the new perspective over there.
I can understand why the member does not believe there are foreign radical groups trying to destroy jobs in our economy. In the NDP, the members are all domestic. This is the problem with that party. It does not understand that our plan achieves the dual balance of reducing CO2 emissions by taking the climate change fight globally and by recognizing that Canadian industries have taken advantage of things like innovative tax credits for investments and technology to reduce the amount of emissions they produce.
I would invite the member to come to Alberta and Saskatchewan to see the types of advancements being made in extracting our natural resources at a lower rate of emissions. That is the benefit of our plan. That is why we need to replace the Liberal government and implement these policies, so we can get the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their jobs back on their feet.
If the member thinks that it is just idle rhetoric when I talk about the hurt and alienation in Saskatchewan and Alberta, that is despicable and shameful. I will take no lessons from him about standing up for this country and standing up for—
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-12-06 10:37 [p.33]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know it is your first day, and you will make an amazing Speaker, but for the Leader of the Opposition to accuse someone who is representing their—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am sorry. We cannot hear. It is not working. I cannot hear to make out whether it is debate. If I can have order in the House for a second so I can hear the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay?
The hon. member Timmins—James Bay.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-12-06 10:38 [p.33]
Mr. Speaker, it is very unparliamentary for the leader of a party to accuse someone of being despicable for asking the question. That is the antithesis of democracy—
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I am sorry. If I can interrupt again, we are having a real technical problem here. I cannot hear what is happening.
The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
View Charlie Angus Profile
NDP (ON)
View Charlie Angus Profile
2019-12-06 10:39 [p.33]
Mr. Speaker, if we are going to establish a tone in the House, and while you have a lot of our respect, to call someone “despicable” for asking a question that is relevant to the issues of the day is very unparliamentary. If this is the tone that member is going to raise, we are going to have a very difficult number of years.
I am asking, Mr. Speaker, that you ask the member to withdraw that personal attack.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I was listening to both back-and-forth and there were words I could have picked out of both questions.
What I am asking is that all members keep track and watch what they say to each other. Remember that we are not naming people and we are not badgering people to bring them down. We are debating ideas. Let us keep it at that level.
The hon. member for Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
View Paul Manly Profile
GP (BC)
View Paul Manly Profile
2019-12-06 10:40 [p.33]
Mr. Speaker, as this is my first opportunity to speak in the House of Commons, I would like to thank the good people of Nanaimo—Ladysmith for electing me not once but twice in the last six months. However, I am not excited about the idea of going back for another election. I know some members are.
There are a lot of things to deal with in my community. I have four first nations that are looking forward to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. My community has the highest homelessness per capita in Canada. We have an affordability crisis. We have a mental health crisis. We have an opioid crisis. Our regional hospital is old and it serves the oldest population per capita in Canada. We have more people over the age of 75 in the regional district of Nanaimo—Ladysmith than anywhere else in Canada.
There are a lot of things that I want to work on across party lines to get things done in this Parliament with the government. One of those things is climate change.
I know that my hon. friend for Cowichan—Malahat—Langford has carried fish in trucks to get them up the river because of the droughts. Our forest industry is suffering because of climate change. We see our forests dying. People want action. It is affecting our economy.
If members would indulge me for a moment, my mother was born in Alberta and my father was born in Saskatoon. I have a lot of relatives in those communities. They are hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, innovative, industrious people. They are get-her done folks.
Does the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle see a future for Alberta and Saskatchewan, besides ripping and shipping raw resources out of those provinces, by using the innovation and hard work of the people of those provinces to change the future for our children and grandchildren and so we can have a future?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, the last part of the member's question was a very unfortunate attack on two provinces and the energy sector, which provides jobs for so many thousands of families. That is the type of rhetoric that we hear from groups and individuals who are trying to shut down Canadian development while other countries expand and develop overseas markets for their products.
I agree with the member on much of what he said as it relates to the lack of a mention in the throne speech on many important issues. However, we have an exciting plan to help those who are addicted to opioids with a recovery plan that invests in people. Instead of just maintaining addictions we actually will help people get off of harmful drugs. Those are the types of things we will be proposing in this Parliament as well.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2019-12-06 10:43 [p.33]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to respond to the speech from the Leader of the Opposition.
One of the things we have listened to and heard from Canadians over the past number of months of the election campaign and subsequently is the need for us to collaborate in the House, a need for us to work together. One element of that will involve actually listening to each other in the House.
My team gave me an excellent speech to read in response to the Leader of the Opposition's speech, but this morning, I am choosing not to read it because it was written yesterday. I want to take the time to really listen to the Leader of the Opposition, who shared his thoughts on the work this Parliament will be doing and his vision for the best way to help Canadians across the country.
This is indicative of the new approach we need to take. Instead of merely reading a speech that itemizes everything we have done and everything we want to do, a speech that brings together all the elements in the excellent throne speech delivered yesterday, I would rather respond to the Leader of the Opposition's speech by addressing each of his points individually.
Unfortunately, as I go through the elements that the hon. Leader of the Opposition laid out in his speech, I will have to stray a bit from them. There are some really important issues that matter to this country and to Canadians that he did not develop, dwell on or share his perspective on. First and foremost is on issue of indigenous reconciliation.
We are gathered here today, and every day, on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people. As we move forward as a country, we have to include every Canadian and ensure they have a real and fair chance to succeed. For far too long in these houses of Parliament, we have not properly walked the road of reconciliation, which is a difficult road to be sure. It is one that will have setbacks and challenges as we walk it, but one on which we can make real progress, not just for indigenous Canadians but for all Canadians, as all Canadians have asked us repeatedly in recent elections to do. To continue to step up on indigenous reconciliation is something that we on this side of the House will do. I am sure it was a simple oversight on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition. I know that many people on the other side very much want us to work in partnership and in respect with indigenous peoples in the country.
He also did not touch on the health challenges and health opportunities we have as a country, to move forward on the big things that will make a real difference for Canadians, whether they be national universal pharmacare, ensuring that every Canadian can access a family doctor or ensuring that there are clear outcomes and expectations on mental health care right across the country. These are the things, along with home and palliative care, on which we intend to work.
We understand they are elements we will need to work on with the provinces, in respect and in partnership, because of provincial jurisdiction. That is why I am pleased to have begun some of those conversations already. I am very pleased to have an outstanding health minister and team, along with our deputy prime minister, who will engage directly with the premiers of provinces and territories across the country to move forward on keeping Canadians healthy.
Now the challenge for me is to respond to the Leader of the Opposition's speech, so I will go over his list of priorities for Canadians.
I do not think any Canadian anywhere in this country will be surprised to hear me say that, aside from those omissions, we agree with what he identified as Canadians' top concerns: the cost of living, affordability, the safety of Canadians abroad, ensuring the availability of good jobs for Canadians, fighting climate change and, lastly, national unity.
I think it is worth taking a look at each of those issues as well as some of the points he made and how he thinks we can address those issues. I want to show not only that we know how to listen, but also that we want to work with all parties in the House of Commons.
I will first address the question of affordability.
The Leader of the Opposition recognized that many Canadians are feeling anxious about their personal finances, about the path forward for themselves to retirement and about the path forward for their children to getting good jobs in the future. There are concerns about the rising costs of living. Questions of day-to-day expenses, the costs of housing and everyday purchases keep Canadians anxious. We agree entirely. That is why the Liberal Party set out four years ago to focus on the middle class and the people working hard to join it. What we proposed in this Speech from the Throne, and in this mandate as we move forward, is to respond to that in concrete and tangible ways.
A number of the initiatives we put forward in our first mandate have started to have significant positive effects on Canadians, but we know there is much more to do. The very first thing we did in the last Parliament was put forward a tax cut for the middle class by raising taxes on the wealthiest 1%. We knew that lowering taxes for Canadians was something that would make a difference in their lives and would demonstrate that we understand the anxiety people are feeling. That is the very first thing we moved forward with. We propose, in this 43rd Parliament, that the very first thing we do once again is lower taxes for Canadians.
We are planning on putting forward very shortly a proposal to raise the basic minimum exemption that people pay on their taxes to $15,000. That means that thousands of Canadians will no longer have to pay taxes at all, because they make less than $15,000. Many more will see their tax burdens decrease significantly. If we are looking for common ground in this House of Commons, as we are, this proposal significantly resembles the proposal put forward by the leader of the official opposition to help at the lowest levels of our tax system.
The Leader of the Opposition put forward a proposal that would help Canadians. We only have one small issue with it, which our proposal actually fixes, and I do not think it is a proposal that the Leader of the Opposition or his team will be preoccupied with. I think they can support it, because the change we made is to make sure that as we lower taxes for low-income Canadians and the middle class, we do not actually give any extra advantages to the wealthiest Canadians. The small hiccup in the proposal that the Leader of the Opposition put forward was that it would benefit someone making $400,000 a year than someone making $40,000 a year. We are ensuring that the help we are giving to Canadians by lowering taxes really goes to those who need it most. That will help with affordability.
The second big thing we did as a government four years ago was introduce the Canada child benefit. We stopped sending cheques to millionaire families like mine and that of my colleague, and we started giving more money to those who need it most: low-income and middle-class families. This measure has helped lift over 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty.
However, we recognize that more work needs to be done, and I do not want to use my time talking about what we have done over the past four years. I would rather talk about what we plan to do moving forward. We want to increase the Canada child benefit for families with children under the age of one. I think everyone here can get behind such a measure. As we know, it costs more to care for newborns than it does to raise children who are three or 13 years of age. This measure will truly help families, and we know it will help boost people's confidence in their future and in their children's future. This will also help reduce the anxieties that we know many Canadians experience.
We also acknowledge that housing is a concern for so many Canadians. That is why we recently developed a national housing strategy that will improve affordability and access to housing for Canadians. However, of course we recognize that we still have a lot of work to do.
We have worked with municipalities and provinces to respond to the very real need for housing. We recognize there is more to do and that is why we are continuing to invest in infrastructure. We look forward to bringing in the Canada housing benefit, which will be a portable benefit based on going to families rather than to a specific apartment or location. This will give families a broader range of choices in affording the housing they need in order to build a future for themselves and their families.
We also recognize that far too many young Canadians, far too many first-time homebuyers are seeing greater barriers to buying their first home as housing prices rise across the country. Even with economic growth and more jobs, we know that people are facing anxiety, and that any delays in millennials or others buying their first home ends up accumulating in missed opportunities to build the equity throughout their lives that would afford them a good retirement. That is why we put in place the first-time homebuyer initiative a number of years ago, which provides money to first-time homebuyers that lowers their mortgage costs and makes buying their first home more affordable. However, that is something we have done already.
What we are proposing to do as a next step around housing affordability is to make sure that people in high-cost markets, like Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, Victoria or the GTA, have a larger benefit. That would allow more people to buy their first home, even in places where the cost of housing is significantly higher than other places. Our focus on affordability and supporting the middle class , as well as the people working hard to join it, runs through everything we do.
What was interesting about the Leader of the Opposition's comments on this is that he talked about the carbon tax as being a significant cost for Canadians. If he is serious about reducing people's anxiety about the future and reassuring Canadians about their ability to tackle new challenges and support their families, it would be good if we were able to lay out the actual facts of what our plan of putting a price on pollution means for Canadians across the country.
First of all, to prevent pollution from being free anywhere in the country, we wanted to work with the provinces to ensure that they could create a price on pollution in a way that suited each province and its realities. That was the starting point. We would rather not have to bring in a federal backstop anywhere across the country, because we know that provinces have varied needs and perspectives and should be able to determine their own way of fighting climate change and putting a price on pollution to make sure it is not free anywhere in the country. However, we also need to make sure that everyone across the country is doing their part to prevent pollution from being free anywhere in the country, and that we have a level playing field. That is why, rightly, in our pan-Canadian framework to fight climate change, we expect a similar level of equivalency and stringency right across the country.
There are a number of provinces that do not believe it is important to fight climate change or to put a price on pollution. Therefore, we have to move forward in bringing in a backstop.
However, every single dollar collected from a particular province for the price on pollution will be returned to that province. Most important, average costs for an average family in that province will be less on the price on pollution we added than the climate action incentive we return to them at tax time before the full year is up. Therefore, very simply and clearly put, in the provinces in which there is a federal backstop, that is, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and soon Alberta and Manitoba, the average citizens of those provinces will be better off with this price on pollution than they would be had there been no price on pollution. Indeed, in a province like Saskatchewan, where the Leader of the Opposition is from, I can point out that families will be hundreds of dollars better off every year with this price on pollution. If one wanted to truly bring down the temperature and the anxiety in the west, pointing out that fact might actually help.
We recognize as well that fighting for better affordability for Canadians means fighting the challenges of poverty that far too many Canadians continue to face. That is why initiatives like the Canada child benefit and our fight against poverty have helped in lifting over 900,000 Canadians out of poverty over the past years. That is something on which we know there is much more work to be done. For every family we have seen lifted out of poverty, there are more families we need to help. That is what we are going to focus on in the coming years.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I was just going to suggest we break so we can go to question period. I am not sure if the right hon. Prime Minister is going to continue his speech afterward. I just want to clarify.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2019-12-06 11:00 [p.36]
Mr. Speaker, I have still four points to make, based on what the Leader of the Opposition said. I will continue after question period to respond to the Leader of the Opposition.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I thank the right hon. Prime Minister. That was for my clarification.
The hon. member for Durham.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2019-12-06 11:01 [p.36]
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order. I wanted to give the Prime Minister the ability to finish the bulk of his remarks, so I waited to bring it up.
My point of order relates to the general practice of the House, which is that before the government talks about the provisions that are going to be contained in a bill, that it table the bill with this House. The Prime Minister, in his remarks, made a specific reference to a tax measure and the exact change he is going to bring in with respect to the basic personal exemption, in a bill that has not yet been tabled in this House.
We are talking about collegiality. I would ask the Prime Minister to table the bill that contains the specific tax measures referenced in his remarks, so that Parliament can review what he is talking about as per the normal course of this House.
View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2019-12-06 11:02 [p.36]
Mr. Speaker, the initiatives I proposed are spelled out in our platform, which is there for everyone and every Canadian to see.
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Rachel Bendayan Profile
2019-12-06 11:02 [p.36]
Mr. Speaker, we have a duty to commemorate one of the greatest tragedies in our country, a tragedy that occurred in my riding of Outremont at the Polytechnique 30 years ago today.
On that day 14 women were killed by a semi-automatic rifle. Why? Because they were women.
We know the task before us. It is to legislate stronger gun control, such as for the type of gun used to kill those 14 young women.
Today at 5:10 p.m., 14 white lights will shine from across Mount Royal in Montreal where the Prime Minister and I, and hundreds of others, will honour the memory of those victims. As I look around this chamber at the women here and in my community, I know how deeply that act of cowardice has failed to silence women.
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