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View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-20 10:05 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to take the floor from British Columbia where the sun has not yet risen. I apologize for the darkness.
It is an honour to rise this morning to present a petition from petitioners concerned about Canada's commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The petitioners point out that Canada has existing obligations under other human rights declarations that apply globally. They specifically point out the need to have a piece of legislation in Canada that brings the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into legal effect in this country, and to update our legislation to reflect Canada's obligations to enforce the rights of indigenous peoples in multiple situations. They specify the Wet'suwet'en territory and the conduct of the RCMP.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-10-20 10:05 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to table a petition signed by over 58,000 Canadians who are calling on the Liberal government to repeal its order in council.
On May 1 of this year, with the stroke of a pen, overnight, the Liberals, with their order in council, made hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens criminals. It had a catastrophic impact on sporting goods owners, like K.K.S Tactical Supplies and Cassandra Parker in my riding who, overnight, faced catastrophic losses to their business because of the inventory they had that they could no longer sell. It had no value.
I hope that the Liberals will see their way to repeal this order in council. If not, a new elected Conservative government will do so.
View Anthony Rota Profile
Lib. (ON)
I want to remind hon. members to be as concise as possible and to not go into a discourse. That is for debate.
The hon. member for Montarville.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-10-20 10:06 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(6), it is my pleasure to present a petition signed by 1,745 individuals, most of them residents of Montreal's South Shore.
The petition states that the former Saint-Bruno firing range is a National Defence site measuring 4.5 km2. It has not been used for some time, it is in the process of being transferred, it is locked and monitored, and all recreational activities that used to take place there have been suspended. The site has mountain bike, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails that were established and groomed by volunteers in such a way as to respect protected areas set aside for the preservation of rare and endangered species. It also has soccer fields, which means it has tremendous recreational and tourism potential for the greater Montreal region. The petitioners are asking the Minister of National Defence to act quickly to transfer the site to a Quebec organization such as SÉPAQ or to a regional or municipal authority in order to protect it from real estate development and restore access to citizens for recreational purposes while respecting areas reserved for the preservation of protected species.
View Kate Young Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Kate Young Profile
2020-10-20 10:08 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition to Parliament that speaks to the sexual exploitation of children. The petition draws attention to this growing threat. It says that our children are being exposed to pornography online, their health can be threatened, with some addicted to pornography, some producing and distributing pornography, some performing sexual assaults on other children, some planning suicides online and some planning violent acts to public safety online. The petition says that our parents, caregivers and professionals require increased education, and that the Government of Canada should support the efforts of the federal Canadian charity Internet Sense First and its anti-Internet child exploitation team's goal of the education of Canadians regarding the theory of digital supervision for proactive online child protection.
View Kyle Seeback Profile
View Kyle Seeback Profile
2020-10-20 10:09 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, the Black Horse community which is part of the town of Caledon in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon, is terribly underserved by rural broadband. Many studies have been conducted to show that upload speeds and download speeds are exceptionally poor. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, with businesses operating from home and children having to do some of their schooling at home, they call on the Government of Canada to make broadband Internet service an essential telecommunications service.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-10-20 10:09 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first is from members of my riding who were very concerned when the House of Commons was shut down. They indicated that the House of Commons should be considered an essential service to Canada. They said that limiting the business of the House of Commons, along with matters concerning the COVID pandemic, inhibited the ability of members of Parliament to hold the government to account, virtual meetings were insufficient, the Prime Minister's daily press availability was not an effective forum for holding him accountable and unprecedented levels of public spending were hurried.
A return to normal in-person sittings of the House of Commons and its standing committees is needed. This took place during the months prior to the actual prorogation by the Prime Minister. The 13,346 petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to immediately reconvene the House of Commons.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
2020-10-20 10:11 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to sex-selective abortion. It indicates that sex-selective abortion is legal in Canada because there are no laws, yet sex selection is antithetical to equality between men and women that we promote as a nation. A 2019 DART & Maru/Blue poll indicated 84% of Canadians believe that it should be illegal to have an abortion if a family does not want a child because of its sex. International organizations including the World Health Organization, United Nations Women and United Nations Children's Fund have all identified unequal sex ratios at birth as a growing problem internationally. Canada's own health care professionals recognize sex selection as a problem here. The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to pass a Criminal Code prohibition of sex selection abortion.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:11 [p.942]
Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand at this time.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-20 10:12 [p.942]
Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:13 [p.942]
That the House:
(a) note that the WE Charity scandal has preoccupied Parliament since the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) was announced on June 25, 2020, and despite many meetings on this topic held by several of the standing committees of the House of Commons in the subsequent weeks, the outstanding and unanswered questions only became more numerous and increasingly serious;
(b) further note that several other scandals and potential scandals have come to light more recently in the context of government expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic response, including, but not limited to,
(i) the awarding of contracts to the employer of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s spouse to administer the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program,
(ii) allegations of lobbying by the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s spouse to secure amendments to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS) which would benefit his employer,
(iii) the acquisition of ventilators, which did not have regulatory approval for use, manufactured by a company owned by a retired Liberal member of the House of Commons;
(c) acknowledge that the Prime Minister’s abrupt decision to prorogue Parliament intensified the need for parliamentary accountability;
(d) believe that, to ensure that the work required to achieve this accountability does not interfere with the ordinary operations of the House’s network of committees, a special committee with a dedicated mandate should be established; and
(e) therefore appoint a special committee on anti-corruption, to be styled: The Anti-Corruption Committee, with the mandate to examine and review,
(i) all aspects of the CSSG, including its conceptualization, planning, development, establishment, implementation and termination,
(ii) the assorted relationships between WE Charity, including any of its affiliated or related organizations and the Kielburger family, on the one part, and the government and ministers of the Crown and their families, on the other part,
(iii) all aspects of the CECRA program, including its planning, development, establishment and implementation,
(iv) all aspects related to the allegations of lobbying by Rob Silver or MCAP for amendments to the Income Tax Act in respect of the CEWS program,
(v) all aspects related to the acquisition, purchase and regulatory approval of ventilators manufactured by, or otherwise associated with, the Baylis Medical Company,
(vi) any other matter connected to the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response measures that any standing committee of the House may request the committee to investigate,
provided that,
(vii) the committee be composed of 15 members, of which six shall be government members, five shall be from the official opposition, two shall be from the Bloc Québécois and two shall be from the New Democratic Party,
(viii) the members shall be named by their respective whip by depositing with the Clerk of the House the list of their members to serve on the committee no later than the day following the adoption of this order,
(ix) the Clerk of the House shall convene an organization meeting of the said committee within five days of the adoption of this order,
(x) changes in the membership of the committee shall be effective immediately after notification by the whip has been filed with the Clerk of the House,
(xi) membership substitutions be permitted, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2),
(xii) notwithstanding Standing Order 106(2), the committee be chaired by a member of the official opposition, and in addition to the Chair, the first vice-chair shall be from the Bloc Québécois, the second vice-chair shall be from the New Democratic Party, and the third vice-chair shall be from the government party,
(xiii) quorum of the committee be as provided for in Standing Order 118 and that the Chair be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and to have evidence printed when a quorum is not present, provided that at least four members are present, including one member of the opposition and one member of the government,
(xiv) the committee be granted all of the powers of a standing committee, as provided in the Standing Orders,
(xv) the provisions of Standing Order 106(4) shall extend to the committee,
(xvi) the committee and any of its subcommittees have the power to authorize video and audio broadcasting of any or all of its proceedings,
(xvii) the provisions of paragraph (o) of the order adopted on September 23, 2020, shall apply to the committee and any of its subcommittees until January 29, 2021, provided that the meetings of the committee and any of its subcommittees shall have the first claim to the priority use of House resources available for committees,
(xviii) the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth may be ordered to appear as witnesses from time to time, as the committee sees fit,
(xix) the committee be instructed to present an interim report no later than February 15, 2021,
(xx) the committee’s initial work shall be supported by orders of the House issuing for
(A) the unredacted version of all documents produced by the government in response to the July 7, 2020, order of the Standing Committee on Finance, provided that these records shall be filed directly with the Clerk of the House either electronically or in hardcopy within 24 hours of the adoption of this order and, in turn, transmitted to the committee which shall, until it may decide otherwise, consider them in camera,
(B) a copy of all records at Speakers’ Spotlight pertaining to speaking appearances arranged, since October 14, 2008, for the current Prime Minister, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Margaret Trudeau and Alexandre Trudeau, including, in respect of each speaking appearance, an indication of the fee provided, any expenses that were reimbursed and the name of the company, organization, person or entity booking it, which had been originally ordered to be produced on July 22, 2020, by the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, provided that these records shall be filed directly with the Clerk of the House either electronically or in hardcopy within 24 hours of the adoption of this order and, in turn, transmitted to the committee which shall, until it may decide otherwise, consider them in camera,
(C) all memoranda, e-mails, documents, notes or other records from the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office, since June 25, 2020, concerning options, plans and preparations for the prorogation of Parliament, including polling and public opinion research, provided that these documents shall be laid upon the table within 10 days of the adoption of this order and, upon tabling, shall stand referred to the committee and to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs,
(D) a complete accounting of all communications between the government and any of WE Charity (or its affiliated organizations), Craig Kielburger, Marc Kielburger, Speakers’ Spotlight, Rob Silver, MCAP, Frank Baylis or Baylis Medical Company since June 25, 2020, in respect of the prorogation of Parliament, provided that these documents shall be laid upon the table within 10 days of the adoption of this order and, upon tabling, shall stand referred to the committee and to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
We are here this morning for accountability. As public officials, all parties, including the government, should re-evaluate their reason for being in this Parliament. Public service is deeply important to me. That service is rooted in respect for all Canadians, love of country and deep respect for parliamentary democracy.
I have high expectations of my colleagues because I have high expectations of myself. I believe in this country and the nobility of serving it.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Ultimately, it boils down to trust. Public officials should garner the trust of Canadians, not erode it.
There is no question that this government has been incompetent for several years now, as evidenced by its mismanagement.
Our party has uncovered a trove of compromising information in this WE scandal affair, a pattern that started to arise involving Liberal insiders and the Prime Minister's family.
A charitable organization, WE, became an extension of the Liberal Party, but worse yet, it soon became clear that the more WE paid members of the Trudeau family, the more the Liberal government rewarded WE. That connection undermines the trust of Canadians.
The opposition must stand up for Canadians. There is concern about corruption, in some cases with the highest offices in the land and with the Prime Minister, who has already been found twice to have violated public ethics rules. The WE Charity, we know, secretly lobbied the Liberal government dozens of times in the past, including during the pandemic, and never registered to do so. That is just further proof that the Canada student service grant program was never truly about the students.
The Ethics Commissioner is investigating. The lobbying commissioner is investigating. The official languages commissioner is investigating. The procurement ombudsman is investigating. We are running out of agencies to investigate the government's conduct. These are valid questions we have that we bring today.
I want to share, for a moment, a lesson I learned from my air force time, talking to some of our incredible World War II bomber command veterans. They had a rule of thumb. They said that when they were navigating night bombing missions and they started getting lots of fire from below, when they started getting flak, it meant they were over their target.
We are getting a lot of flak for this motion. That is because Canadians know we are over the target and we should keep asking questions. We will hold the Prime Minister and his government accountable, as it is our parliamentary function.
We know that when the Prime Minister took office, WE Charity had already begun paying members of his family. Over the past five years, those payments have totalled more than half a billion dollars.
The WE Charity was awarded multiple sole-source contracts over the past five years, well before it worked directly with Bill Morneau to come up with the Canada student service grant. We know that the WE Charity employed a member of former finance minister Morneau's family, and that his family went on two luxury vacations paid for by the WE Charity. We also know that the Prime Minister, Mr. Morneau and several officials and ministers in the current government turned around and handed to their friends a WE management contract of a billion dollars under the guise of supporting youth programming during the pandemic: youth programming that never came to fruition.
The Liberals must immediately stop this cover up, release the documents, tell Canadians the truth and let Parliament do its job. If the documents do not contain anything incriminating, there is no reason for the Liberals to spend so much time and resources hiding them. We are still wondering how much we do not know.
We have already seen that flak firing up from below. The Prime Minister is throwing all of his heavy artillery at us because we are over the target. Prorogation, resignation, filibusters, delays, political games and threatening elections are all just to ask us to stop asking to remove the blacking out of documents and asking for transparency. The Liberals were willing to shut down Parliament in a pandemic after it had already been shut down for months while emergency programs for the country, like the CERB, were expiring. They were willing to put all those Canadians to the side in order to stop a few tough questions from the MP for Carleton. Canadians should wonder why. Now the Liberals are threatening an election in the middle of a pandemic to avoid these secrets coming out.
When the government got caught, it tried to hide. It answered with talking points. It turned over redacted documents. It filibustered at committee. Then it shut down Parliament.
Today, I am introducing the Conservative opposition day motion. We are making a modest proposal to establish a committee to look into various ethical questions and problems with the government's handing out of COVID-19 funding to insiders and friends. It is a committee that would examine the misuse and potential breach of trust during the worst crisis Canadians have experienced in their lifetimes. The committee would examine the Canada student service grant, as well as the relationship between WE, the Liberal government and members of family; lobbying efforts for income tax changes, particularly with respect to the Canada emergency wage program; the acquisition, purchase and approval of Baylis Medical Company ventilators, and I know the name “Baylis” is pretty well known in this chamber; and, of course, topics the other parties will identify specifically for this committee.
The committee's initial work would be supported by the disclosure of documents, which this government continues to delay and avoid. The committee would simplify multiple committees into one special committee with a specific mandate to allow finance, health and other committees to do their work.
It is time to put our house back in order and rebuild Canadians' trust. This is the primary duty of any government managing a crisis. We must unite Canadians and put an end to the double standard, with one set of rules for the Liberals' friends and another set for everyone else.
The motion would also be amended today to make clear that the appointment of a special committee to look into the use of public funds by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic shall not constitute legitimate grounds for a general election. We would be changing the name of the committee based on some advice from the New Democratic Party, and we would be challenging all members, including the deputy House leader of the Liberal Party who is shrugging and guffawing at my remarks. I would remind him of his public duty to Canadians. I would remind him that to whom much is given, much is expected. Canadians expect the truth.
Can that member handle the truth? Canadians also deserve accountability, and that is exactly what this committee would do.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:23 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Conservative Party says that we need to re-evaluate why we are here. I think he is right: We do need to re-evaluate why we are here.
Canadians, in the last election, put together a minority government, and they expect the opposition parties to work with government. All parties need to work together, and the focus of our attention should be on doing what we can to fight coronavirus and the pandemic, just like other jurisdictions across the land are doing. From non-profits, to government agencies and private people, they understand and appreciate the importance of the pandemic and us as a government working together.
My question to the leader of the official opposition is this. Why does he not recognize that the value of being part of the official opposition means that one comes up with ideas of how we can work for the betterment of Canadians?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:24 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the deputy House leader from the Liberal Party for his indignation this morning and remind him that our party, particularly our health critic, has been asking questions on COVID-19 and the absence of rapid health testing in this country. Canada is the only major OECD country without rapid health testing, which is a failure of this government. We are more than happy to explore the failures of this government, but we would need to extend sitting times in Parliament.
We are going to study and fight the coronavirus, but we are also going to study, at committee, the Liberal corruption virus.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-10-20 10:25 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, as we know, WE Charity really had no French arm or French name. A literal translation into French would be “nous, charité” or “we, charity”. It reminds me of the expression “charity begins at home”. In this case, I have to say that it certainly applies to both the organization and the Liberal government.
The government has been telling us that we are in the midst of a pandemic and that this is not the time to be discussing corruption. When the government spends billions of dollars, is it not the right time to deal with this issue? It should not threaten Parliament with an election just because we are simply calling for transparency on the government's part.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:26 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
He is right. The Commissioner of Official Languages is concerned about this scandal. That is why we need a committee to address all aspects of the scandal, namely official languages, health, spending and ethics. That is why we will have this debate today. That is why Canadians need the truth, accountability and answers to reasonable questions.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-10-20 10:27 [p.945]
Mr. Speaker, one of the great concerns that we have had with this situation is that in March we were plunged into an unprecedented crisis. We were all told that we could work together, and I think this Parliament did some extraordinary work together.
At issue is the Prime Minister making a promise on April 8 to university students who were suffering massive levels of student debt, high tuition costs and complete uncertainty. He promised to have a plan in place for university students. That was on April 8.
On April 17, the minister of youth and diversity had a secret meeting with Craig Kielburger and misrepresented those facts to our committees, both at finance and ethics. Out of that we are in this scandal, and the Liberals continue to try and block straightforward answers.
How long does my hon. colleague think the Liberals will carry on with this blockage of answers that the Canadian people deserve?
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-20 10:28 [p.946]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay is right. In March we did work all together. In fact, I had calls with several ministers recommending solutions. I was in a leadership race that I asked to be suspended. I know his party, and all parties, tried to get solutions for Canadians in the midst of a pandemic. We know the Prime Minister promised testing and tracing in March that has not been delivered. As the member said, on April 8, the government promised students something that was not delivered, and then worked with its friends to create a program that appeared to be quid pro quo in the midst of a pandemic.
I am sure the member agrees. We hope the NDP will work with us because we are changing the name of the committee based on its recommendation. We have many of the same questions he had. What was terrible was even in a pandemic with no Parliament sitting, there was one line for Liberal insiders and friends of the Prime Minister, and one line for students, front-line health care workers and all other Canadians.
This motion is not about an election: It is about accountability. We ask the government to stop playing games.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:29 [p.946]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the very important topic of our work here in the House of Commons, which we do proudly and diligently for the good of Canada and Canadians.
Our objective today is to enable all parliamentary committees to continue their meaningful work of oversight during the pandemic and to create a committee that will directly address the current government's unfortunate and irresponsible spending decisions during the pandemic and other decisions that may unfortunately be made. This is why we are here today.
The leader of the official opposition moved this motion, but traditionally, the Leader of the Opposition does not move motions on supply days. MPs are generally the ones who do so. However, our leader decided to move this motion because this is an important matter and Canadians need representatives in Parliament who do their jobs and who can oversee the government's actions, department by department, in parliamentary committees and in the House.
We want to hold the government accountable for its management of public money during the pandemic. Unfortunately, this government has made some highly improper and wrongful spending decisions.
The Prime Minister was very excited about playing Santa Claus, as he gave his little daily updates at 11:15 a.m. in May, June and even July, outside his residence. He announced hundreds of millions of dollars, billions even, in assistance to anything in Canada that moved.
What else did we see? We saw that the Liberal government was also prepared to spend nearly $1 billion to help Liberal Party cronies and friends of the Prime Minister's family.
This is what we are talking about this morning. We are talking about the misjudgment of the government when it comes to spending money. It spent nearly $1 billion to help a company close to the Liberal Party and close to the family of the Prime Minister.
Nearly $900 million was involved in the WE Charity scandal. As was mentioned earlier, that organization had no roots in Quebec and barely had a made-up French name. It was the furthest thing from a Canada-wide organization. It was exclusive to English Canada, if not to Toronto, if not to the Liberals.
Through the questions we asked at parliamentary committees, we managed to pull the cat out of the bag and quickly realized that the Liberals were in fact trying help the friends of the Prime Minister's family. I cannot use the word “lie” in the House, but the Liberal version of events underwent a series of changes, which we will politely call an evolution.
First we were told that there was absolutely no connection between WE Charity and the Liberal Party, and that the Prime Minister's family had never been hired by this organization, but that is totally false. Then we were told they were paid only for travel expenses, but that is completely false. Just yesterday, we found out that some of the figures reported by WE Charity at the committee meetings did not line up with the truth. That is why we must have a committee that will focus specifically on the Liberals' mismanagement of public finances. The situation with WE Charity was not unique.
What future does the government have in store for us?
If the past is any indication, we parliamentarians must be especially vigilant to make sure that the billions of dollars Canadians pay every year in taxes to the federal government are well managed. That is our job. It is funny: We are here to ask Parliament for permission to do our job.
The Conservatives are here to tell the government and Parliament that we want to do our job. We need to do our job; we have to do our job. This is why we are here today. We are asking the government to allow all parliamentarians do their job. When I say that, I am also talking about the Liberal members of Parliament. They also have questions to ask of the government, because unfortunately what we saw this summer was a government saying one thing and then, after being asked more questions, saying sorry that it forgot about other things.
Let us talk about Bill Morneau, who forgot to pay $41,000. Who could believe that? I can tell members that I would always have in mind that I owe more than $40,000. This is what we have seen.
We saw the Minister of Finance resign. We saw the Prime Minister prorogue the House to prevent parliamentarians from doing their job. We saw the government table 5,000 pages of documents, a full quarter of them redacted. This is not what Canadians want, and that is why we must conduct this valid investigation, which is key to our work as parliamentarians.
In our opinion, it is essential that ethics be at the heart of what we do, and that public funds be spent appropriately. What do we have on the table today? We have a motion that will allow us to focus exclusively on managing these issues so that other committees can work on the pandemic and the House can do what it is meant to do. The oral question period always starts with questions about the pandemic, and that is how it should be. However, a committee would allow us to precisely manage that pandemic.
We introduced this motion on the Order Paper, as is the custom, last Thursday. Now all parliamentarians are aware of our goals, our intentions and what we want to do. Then, the Liberal government came along with a strange proposal, to say the least. They want to create a committee that will do the bare minimum in certain areas to avoid directly addressing the root of the problem.
The government would like the committee to be chaired by a member of the government. I have considerable respect for all of my friends in Parliament, whether they be Liberal, Bloc Québécois, New Democrat, Green, independent or Conservative. In the past year, we have seen how the Liberals are working on behalf of the Liberal Party rather than for the good of all Canadians.
A few weeks ago, the House and the committees began sitting virtually. The Standing Committee on Finance was one of them. We saw the committee’s Liberal chair try to suspend the committee’s work by placing his thumb on his webcam. I have never seen anything so ridiculous in my life. I have considerable respect for that person. I will not name him because I have too much respect for him.
Good gracious, that is what is going on in our committees now. The Liberals are filibustering and reading newspaper articles to prevent us from having real parliamentary committee debates. A chair put his thumb in front of his webcam to put an end to the sitting. Just imagine if I tried to put my thumb in front of the camera to adjourn the House. It is ridiculous, but that is what the Liberals did to prevent the hon. member from Carleton from doing what he was supposed to be doing in the parliamentary committee.
Let us be serious. Rather than conduct a careful study, the Liberal government is proposing that this be done in four weeks. Four weeks is not enough. Arbitrary suspensions, obstruction, adjournments and cancelled meetings, that is what the Liberals have served up.
For the past two days, the Liberals have been hinting that if this motion is adopted, the government could trigger a general election. How irresponsible. How absolutely outrageous.
I am sorry to say that, but when we talk about an election we talk about serious business. It is not the time to to play chicken on this issue, even if the House of Commons is the best place to talk about that. “Some chicken, some neck,” as we heard on December 30, 1941, here in the House of Commons.
This is certainly not something we can take lightly. It would be absolutely outrageous to trigger a general election in the middle of a pandemic. What would be the reason for it?
As far as management of public funds is concerned, the Liberals are prepared to trigger an election to prevent parliamentarians from doing their work. That way of thinking is unworthy of a parliamentarian, but it is typical of the Liberals. The Liberals prorogued the House, and they are preventing parliamentarians from doing their work in committee. What they are proposing makes no sense.
Since we are listening to our colleagues' recommendations, I move, seconded by the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord:
That the motion be amended in paragraph (e),
(a) by replacing the words before subparagraph (i) with the following: “therefore appoint a special committee on allegations of misuse of public funds by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, with the mandate to examine and review”; and
(b) by adding the following: “, (xxi) the establishment of the committee shall not, in the opinion of the House, constitute legitimate grounds for calling a general election”.
Should this amendment and the proposal we are submitting today in the House be passed by the majority, Canadians will get their money's worth, since we will be able to investigate the Liberal government's management of public funds while continuing our everyday work for the good of all Canadians.
View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-20 10:40 [p.947]
First, it is my duty to inform hon. members that an amendment to an opposition motion may be moved only with the consent of the sponsor of the motion.
Therefore, I ask the hon. member for Durham if he consents to this amendment being moved?
View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-20 10:41 [p.948]
Questions and comments, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:41 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, since 2015, there is something the official opposition has been doing consistently. They are constantly looking for an area of mischief where they can assassinate the character of the government. As I have said before, character assassination is something they do well. They will look for and nail down an issue, putting it ahead of any other issue. We have seen that. They talk about filibusters, but I can tell members that no party filibusters more than the official opposition.
Reflecting on what his leader said about why we are here, does the member feel there is an obligation on the official opposition to be more positive regarding ideas on how we can combat the coronavirus pandemic? That is what Canadians want us to be focused on.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:42 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, I want to pay my respects to the hon. member, because as everyone knows, we are celebrating the five-year anniversary, plus one day, of the 2015 election.
Since I have been in the House of Commons, I have never seen a government so corrupt. Has anyone seen a prime minister under investigation by the Ethics Commissioner and found guilty not one time but two times? Members should watch out. He will be accused again for a third time a few weeks from now.
View Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Profile
Mr. Speaker, I would like us to take a moment to look back.
What has happened over the past few months? A specific committee was created to investigate what went on with WE Charity, and it was making good progress. We had many pieces of the puzzle, but some were missing. Everyone agreed that we had to get all the way to the bottom of things.
Then what happened? We did not complete our work. Now we are proposing a solution that will enable us to keep addressing the effects of the pandemic while doing our work in the House in a responsible manner, because it is up to us to lead by example.
Why is there now a lack of interest in shedding light on what happened?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:44 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her remarks. I know a few people in her riding, so I know that she plays a very active role there, and I thank her for that, too. We are all working to improve the lives of Canadians and, in my colleague's case, Quebeckers.
We are here to do our job and, as parliamentarians, that job is to hold this government to account. We have to make sure that government members manage public funds properly. Unfortunately, as we have seen in recent weeks and months, they believe public money should be used to help families and groups with ties to the Liberal Party.
The hon. member for Durham and leader of the official opposition was absolutely right when he said earlier that we are here to fight the coronavirus as well as the Liberal corruption virus.
View Alexandre Boulerice Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his passionate speech.
The NDP has always been in favour of getting to the bottom of the WE Charity scandal. We have a duty and responsibility as parliamentarians to scrutinize the government's spending and ethics.
The Liberals are so addled that during a recent filibuster in committee, a Liberal member said that only the Ethics Commissioner had the power to determine who is considered the Prime Minister's mother and brother. The Liberals were trying so hard to hide the truth that they were disputing the definition of family members and hiding behind the Ethics Commissioner's supposed authority to define who is considered a mother and brother of the Prime Minister.
I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on this. How mixed up are the Liberals, and how hard are they trying to obfuscate this issue?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-10-20 10:45 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank my NDP colleague. I knew that the Liberals were doing everything they could to obstruct the work of the committees, but I did not know that they had stooped to such ludicrous depths. Honestly. I think that everyone knows who the Prime Minister's father, mother and brother are. We do not need the Ethics Commissioner to tell us that. It just shows how completely out of touch the Liberals are with the reality right in front of them.
I am pleased to see that all the opposition parties seem to have the exact same position as we do. We want to investigate. The one does not impede the other. The parliamentary committees will do their job. During question period, we will do our job. We will do our job as parliamentarians by studying bills and asking the government questions about the pandemic every day. We are also responsible for checking the facts, and that is why the opposition parties are proposing to set up a committee that will focus on this government's mismanagement of public funds.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 10:47 [p.948]
Mr. Speaker, to start things off, I will list a number of points that are important as we continue to debate this today.
First, it is important to recognize that the government does consider this to be a matter of confidence, because the House cannot establish a committee looking into government corruption and, at the same time, claim it still has confidence in the government. Additionally, the motion is nothing more than a blatant partisan proposal that seeks to paralyze the government at a time when the entire government should be focused on keeping Canadians safe and healthy during this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Second, we cannot have committees finding public servants in contempt without even providing them the opportunity to explain why they made lawful redactions to a small number of items within more than 5,000 documents released to the finance committee.
Third, we cannot turn our committees into partisan tools to force private citizens to release personal financial information. Where would that end?
Fourth, we cannot have Conservatives drowning the government in requests for documents and arbitrary deadlines that are designed to be impossible to meet, forcing public servants to drop their work on supporting Canadians during this pandemic.
Fifth, the Conservative motion is just proposing more political games. It is not a serious effort to examine all the areas of pandemic spending.
Sixth, Canadians want their politicians to work together in this pandemic, not throw mud at each other.
Seventh, we have proposed a path forward for this Parliament with a serious committee that will do serious work.
Eighth, we do not want an election. Canadians do not want an election. We have important legislation before the House, including MAID, conversion therapy and sexual assault training for judges, and legislation upcoming on wage subsidy, rent support and the Canada emergency business account.
Finally, I would hope all parties will work with us in support of Canadians.
I wanted to highlight these items, prior to my responding to some of the things I have heard from both the leader of the Conservative Party and the Conservative opposition House leader, because I think they are really important.
To start, the leader says we need to evaluate why we are here in the first place. I would suggest the leader is right. We are here in this House because Canadians have bestowed upon us their trust and confidence. When I say “we”, I am referring to every member of Parliament, no matter what side of the House they sit on. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to our constituents.
If the Conservatives were to consult, as we have been and as, I believe, most members of Parliament have been with their constituents, they would find the number one concern facing our country today is the coronavirus. What we can do collectively in order to fight the coronavirus and protect the health and well-being of Canadians, while at the same time protecting our economy, is the priority in Canada today.
What we hear, day in and day out, from the Conservative Party is the issue with WE. Opposition members want to say it is this huge mountain of corruption. I have been in opposition for many years, and boy they sure can make something look awfully big. I would suggest that, in comparison with other administrations, it is very minimal. It is something a committee could deal with along with all the other things that are done at the House of Commons.
The leader of the Conservative Party said to reflect. I suggest that Conservative members of Parliament need to realize that the track they took in 2015 of character assassinations of politicians on the government side is wrong. I suggest that they put that on hold and start dealing with what our constituents want us to deal with, and that is fighting the pandemic.
What is interesting is that, whether they are in non-profit organizations or governments of different levels, indigenous people or private individuals, people across our country not only recognize but also understand the importance of working together. The only group of people that seems to be so focused on being a destructive force is the Conservative Party of Canada.
For example, its members talk about WE. The leader said WE is an extension of the Liberal Party. Let me tell the leader of the Conservative Party that the WE organization got an annual grant from the Manitoba government. The last time I looked, the Manitoba government was a Progressive Conservative government. That was an annual grant. That is hard to believe based on what the leader of the Conservative party has been saying.
My job is not defend WE. My job is to assure Canadians that, as much as the Conservative Party is so bloody focused on this issue, we are going to remain focused on the priority of Canadians, which is to combat the pandemic. We will work with those who want to work with us, and the list is endless, to ensure we are doing what is absolutely essential to protect the health and well-being of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, while at the same time working on our economy.
I have made reference in the past to what we have been able to do by working with Canadians. We have come up with some wonderful things out of nothing. On the other hand, the Conservatives criticize and black-mark our civil servants, yet it was those civil servants who put together and created the CERB program, which assisted millions of Canadians in every region of our country. It is the credibility of many of those same civil servants that is being called into question by the Conservatives.
In part, they are the same civil servants who put together programs such as the wage subsidy program. By listening to what members of Parliament from different political parties said, including many people from opposition parties, regarding the importance of our seniors, they developed programs that would assist our seniors. We have done that in different ways, such as a one-time payment to the GIS and OAS, which are retirement programs. I am especially proud of the GIS, which is for the poorest seniors in our country. We recognize the importance of and the need for additional expenditures.
This is the type of thing we should be talking about inside the House of Commons. The Conservatives want to make a change here. I hope they are not going to hoodwink our friends in the New Democratic Party, who have been very critical of the many government ideas and programs we have brought forward. I will not take that away from them. That is part of what they and the Conservatives should be doing as the opposition, which is to look for ways the government can improve the system and take advantage of the opportunity to communicate with ministers during a pandemic.
I find this motion, which I would classify as a confidence motion, to be amazing. The Conservatives should look at the details and read it thoroughly. It will take quite a while to read, because it is a very lengthy motion.
This all goes back to what it is the Conservatives have been up to for the last five years. They may as well not have had a change of leadership, because it is almost as if Stephen Harper is still here.
At the end of the day, the Conservative Party needs to get on track. It needs to put less attention on some issues and more attention on this issue, the issue of the pandemic. We are now well into the second wave.
I made reference to organizations. I had discussions with Folklorama, an organization I am very proud of. It is such an economic driver for the city of Winnipeg. It is an organization that really amplifies and embodies Canada's diversity. It does so much good for my city, and in fact, our country. It is the longest running multicultural ethnic event of this nature in North America, and someone once said to me of the world, which I suspect could be the case.
Folklorama has now been going on for over 50 years, but not this year. This year we did not have those two weeks of celebration of diversity, with displays of culture and heritage, entertainment in the forms of dance and song, or the gathering of hundreds of thousands of people in the city of Winnipeg to appreciate our diversity. The reason for that was the pandemic.
The Government of Canada, through the wage subsidy program, was able to assist Folklorama. This is one organization. Some of its members said they were not sure if it would be able to survive this year because of the pandemic.
Another great program is 211. We finally have a national 211 program in Canada because of funding that in part came from Ottawa. Obviously it is also the United Way and some wonderful people. I think of Ms. Walker in particular, who did a fantastic job in advocating for 211. Now there is an Internet presence, and most importantly, a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week phone line that can be accessed from anywhere in Canada, from what I understand. By calling 211, people can access all sorts of different programs.
Those are the types of things having a positive impact on real people in all of our communities. I remember months ago talking with the United Way about the program and how important it was to try to incorporate it to its fullest extent in the province of Manitoba. I was so pleased the other week when we finally saw it come to fruition.
There are endless examples of small businesses that are here today because of the support they received from the government. I reference the CERB program. Disposable income that Canadians rely on day in, day out is absolutely critical. That particular program, which came from nowhere and is a direct result of the pandemic, was there for over eight million Canadians. It allowed them to purchase the groceries they needed. It allowed them to get the things that were important to their lives.
On co-operation and recognizing how important the pandemic is, we have been working with provinces. I believe the amount was over $19 billion for the safe restart program. The Government of Canada worked with provincial and territorial jurisdictions in order to ensure we have in place what is important to help us all get through a second wave.
Liberals understand, and I like to think most members of Parliament understand, why we need to be here. We get criticized for proroguing the session. Let me remind members that there was an agreement by the majority of the House when we rose earlier this year that we would come back on September 23. We had agreed to that. We also agreed that we would sit, albeit in committee of the whole, on the floor of the House during the summer. We would have to go back to 1988 to find the last time the House of Commons sat in July and August.
When we were sitting here, I had never before witnessed the opportunity for opposition parties to contribute to policy development for the Government of Canada, never. They had the opportunity not just to ask one question and a supplementary question. They had five-minute slots. We were going for well over two hours, during which hundreds of questions were being asked by opposition and government members of ministers to try to influence policy.
There were more days that we sat in the summer than we lost because of prorogation. Prorogation is utilized, even in the province of Manitoba. Here is a bit of hypocrisy. How can a Conservative member of Parliament criticize proroguing a session, especially if the member is from Manitoba, when the Manitoba government prorogued its session? Go figure. Yes, there is a pandemic in Manitoba, too. It is across Canada. Yes, WE does get money from the Province of Manitoba, too.
The point is that the Conservatives will do whatever they can to twist things. The opposition House leader said the Prime Minister has been investigated by the commissioner more than any other prime minister. We hear that every so often. It was Stephen Harper who established the commissioner. How stupid a comment from the Conservative Party saying the Prime Minister is the worst.
I have far more faith in the commissioner than I do in the official opposition, far more faith, the reason being that the Conservatives obviously have a bias. They have demonstrated that bias since the day after the Liberals were elected five years ago, five years plus a day. Five years ago, the Conservatives started their character assassination and they have not stopped since. Why should people believe what the Conservative Party has to say on the issue of corruption?
Do members recall the Senate scandal during the Stephen Harper government? Do they know how many people were linked to the PMO during the Senate scandal? That is where there was a payout. If we really think about it, the commissioner is there to ensure that the political partisanship we see from the Conservative Party is put to the side and we stick to the facts. The facts on that issue are that it was public civil servants who made the recommendation.
I see my time has expired. I would ask for leave to continue, but I expect the Conservatives would not want this continual barrage of reality.
At the end of the day, I am hopeful that members will see the Conservative interference in the House of Commons, which is having a negative impact on Liberals being able to do what we need to do with regard to fighting the coronavirus that is impacting every region of our country.
That is what Canadians want us to be focused on. That is what the government will continue to be focused on.
View Andrew Scheer Profile
Mr. Speaker, I am always pleased when the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is giving speeches, because it offers me an opportunity to do penance and to offer up my suffering here in the hopes of reducing my time in whatever comes next. I am glad that he took 20 minutes. I would have been happy to give him leave for more time to earn more time off from purgatory.
The member has such faulty logic. All along there are just too many holes. I know some of my colleagues want to ask questions, too, so I will not litigate, point for point, all of his logical fallacies.
However, on his idea that focusing and asking questions about this corruption scandal is somehow doing Canadians a disservice, the member is missing the point. It is his party and his Prime Minister that used the pandemic to reward their friends. It is his party that, when Canadians were scared about their health and worried about their financial well-being, took the time to stop and make sure their friends were compensated, that they got a share of the big bucks that were rolling out of the Prime Minister's Office.
That is what this investigation is about: holding a government accountable that would use a pandemic, an unprecedented time in Canadian history, to give itself massive amounts of power and then pay off its well-connected friends. That is what this investigation is about. That is why Canadians deserve to get answers on the WE corruption scandal.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-20 11:08 [p.951]
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the former leader of the Conservative Party, what balderdash. That is just not true. I do not believe for a moment that, in this pandemic, the billions of dollars being spent is about rewarding Liberals. I do not believe that for a moment.
What I do believe is that the billions of dollars spent have been spent in order to support Canadians in all regions of our country in a very real and tangible way.
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