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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-09 15:27 [p.27595]
Mr. Speaker, as always, I would like to salute all the people of Beauport—Limoilou tuning in this afternoon. I would also like to salute my colleague from Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, who just gave a speech on Bill C-91. We worked together for a time on the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I know languages in general are important to him. I also know that, as a Métis person, his personal and family history have a lot to do with his interest in advocating for indigenous languages. That is very honourable of him.
For those watching who are not familiar with Bill C-91, it is a bill on indigenous languages. Enacted in 1969, Canada's Official Languages Act is now 50 years old. That makes this a big year for official languages, and the introduction of this bill on indigenous languages, which is now at third reading, is just and fitting. That is why my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, the Conservative Party's indigenous affairs critic, said she would support the bill when it was introduced back in February. Nevertheless, we do have some criticisms, which I will lay out shortly.
The bill's purpose is twofold. Its primary purpose is to protect indigenous languages and ensure their survival. Did you know that there are 70 indigenous languages spoken in Canada? The problem is that while some languages are still spoken more or less routinely, others are disappearing. Beyond ensuring their survival, this bill seeks to promote the development of indigenous languages that have all but disappeared for the many reasons we are discussing.
The second purpose of the bill, which is just as commendable, is to directly support reconciliation between our founding peoples and first nations, or in other words, reconciliation between federal institutions and indigenous peoples. As the bill says, the purpose is to support and promote the use of indigenous languages, including indigenous sign languages. It seeks to support the efforts of indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen indigenous languages, especially the more commonly-spoken ones.
Canada's official opposition obviously decided to support the principles of this bill right from the beginning for four main reasons. The first involves the Conservative Party's record on indigenous matters. Our record may not have been the same in the 19th century, and the same could be said of all parties, but during our 10 years in power, Prime Minister Harper recognized the profound tragedy and grave error of the residential schools. He offered an official apology in 2008.
I want to share a quote from Prime Minister Harper, taken from the speech by my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo:
The government now recognizes that the...Indian residential schools policy...has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
That is why my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo said:
We acknowledged in 2008 that [the Canadian government at the time was] part of the destruction of these languages and cultures. Therefore, the government must be part of the solution in terms of helping to bring the languages [and culture] back, and part of that is Bill C-91.
This is why I said that reconciliation is one of the objectives of this bill, beyond the more tangible objective. That is the first reason the Conservatives will support this bill on indigenous languages.
The second reason is that, under Mr. Harper's fantastic tenure, we created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was an important and highly enlightening process.
There were some very sad moments. Members of indigenous nations came to talk about their background and share their stories. They put their cards on the table for all to see. They bared their souls and told the Canadian government what they go through today and what their ancestors went through in the 19th century. Not only did the Conservatives offer a formal apology in 2008, but they also created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to promote reconciliation between indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada and all Canadians. Our legacy is a testament to our sincere belief in reconciliation. I am sure that is true for all MPs and all Canadians.
Now I will move on to the third reason we support this bill. I am the critic for Canada's official languages, French and English. That is one of the reasons I am speaking today. When I first saw Bill C-91 on the legislative agenda, I considered the issue and then read the Official Languages Act of 1969. The final paragraph of the preamble to the Official Languages Act states that the act:
...recognizes the importance of preserving and enhancing the use of languages other than English and French while strengthening the status and use of the official languages....
When members examine constitutional or legislative matters in committee or in debates such as this one, we need to take the intent of the legislators into consideration. When the Official Languages Act was introduced and passed in 1969, the legislators had already clearly indicated that they intended the protection of official languages to one day include the promotion, enhancement and maintenance of every other language in Canada, including the 70 indigenous languages. Clearly that took some time. That was 50 years ago.
Those are the first three reasons why we support this bill.
The fourth reason goes without saying. We have a duty to make amends for past actions. Those who are familiar with Canada's history know that both French and English colonizers lived in relative harmony with indigenous peoples for the first two or three centuries after Jacques Cartier's arrival in the Gaspé in 1534 and Samuel de Champlain's arrival in Quebec City in 1608. Indigenous peoples are the ones who helped us survive the first winters, plain and simple. They helped us to clear the land and grow crops. Unfortunately, in the late 19th century, when we were able to thrive without the help of indigenous peoples, we began implementing policies of cultural alienation and residential schools. All of that happened in an international context involving cultural theories that have since been debunked and are now considered preposterous.
Yes, we need to make amends for Canada's history and what for what the founding peoples, our francophone and anglophone ancestors, did. It is a matter of justice. The main goal of Bill C-91 is to ensure the development of indigenous languages in Canada, to keep them alive and to prevent them from disappearing.
In closing, for the benefit of Canadians watching us this afternoon, I would like to summarize what Bill C-91 would ultimately achieve. Part of it is about recognition. The bill provides that:
(a) the Government of Canada recognizes that the rights of Indigenous people recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 include rights related to Indigenous languages.
This is a bit like what happened with the Official Languages Act, which, thanks to its section 82, takes precedence over other acts. It is also related to section 23 on school boards and the protection of anglophone and francophone linguistic minorities across the country. This bill would create the same situation with respect to section 35 and indigenous laws in Canada.
The legislation also states that the government may enter into agreements to protect languages. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism may enter into different types of agreements or arrangements in respect of indigenous languages with indigenous governments or other indigenous governing bodies or indigenous organizations, taking into account the unique circumstances and needs of indigenous groups, communities and peoples.
Lastly, the bill would ensure the availability of translation and interpretation services like those available for official languages, but probably not to the same degree. Federal institutions can cause documents to be translated into an indigenous language or provide interpretation services to facilitate the use of an indigenous language.
Canadians listening to us should note one important point. I myself do not speak any indigenous languages, but for the past year, anyone, especially indigenous members, can speak in indigenous languages in the House. Members simply need to give translators 24- or 48-hour notice. That aspect of the bill is about providing translation and interpretation services, but those services will not be offered to the same standard as services provided under the Official Languages Act. However, it is patently clear that an effort is being made to encourage the development of indigenous languages, not only on the ground or in communities where indigenous people live, but also within federal institutions.
I would also point out that the bill provides for a commissioner's office. I find that a little strange. As my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo said, for the past four years, the Liberals have been telling us that their most important relationship is the one they have with indigenous peoples. I understand that as a policy statement, but I think it would be more commendable for a government to say that its most important relationship is the one it has with all Canadians.
Now I will talk briefly about the current Commissioner of Official Languages. Many will understand the link I am trying to make with the new indigenous languages commissioner position that will be created. Right when all official language minority communities across the country are talking about the need to modernize the act, today the Commissioner of Official Languages released his annual report and his report on modernizing the act. Most Canadians want bilingualism that is even more vibrant and more wide-spread across Canada. At the same time, there are clearly important gaps in terms of implementing the Official Languages Act across the entire government apparatus.
I have a some examples. A few months ago, the National Energy Board published a report in English only in violation of the OLA. At the time, the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie said that was unacceptable. The government's job is not to simply say so, however. She should have taken action to ensure that the National Energy Board complies with the Official Languages Act. Then, there were the websites showing calls for tender by Public Services and Procurement Canada that are often riddled with mistakes, grammatical, syntax, and translation errors and misinterpretation. Again, the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie told us that this was unacceptable.
There is also the Canada Infrastructure Bank, in Toronto. The Conservatives oppose such an institution. We do not believe it will produce the desired results. In its first year, the Canada Infrastructure Bank struggled to serve Canadians in both official languages. Again, the minister stated that this is unacceptable.
These problems keep arising because of cabinet's reckless approach to implementing, as well as ensuring compliance with and enforcement of, the Official Languages Act across the government apparatus. It has taken its duties lightly. The minister responsible is not showing any leadership within cabinet.
When cabinet is not stepping up, we should be able to count on the commissioner. I met with the Commissioner of Official Languages, Mr. Théberge, yesterday, and he gave me a summary of the report he released this morning. He said that he had a lot of investigative powers, including the power to subpoena. However, he said that he has no coercive power. This is one of the main issues with enforcement. For example, the majority of Canadians abide by the Criminal Code because police officers exercise coercive powers, ensuring that everyone complies with Canadian laws and the Criminal Code.
The many flaws and shortcomings in the implementation of the Official Languages Act are due not only to a lack of leadership in cabinet, but also to the commissioner not having adequate coercive power. The Conservatives will examine this issue very carefully to determine whether the commissioner should have coercive power.
The provisions of Bill C-91, an act respecting indigenous languages, dealing with the establishment of the office of the commissioner of indigenous languages are quite vague. Not only will the commissioner not have any coercive power, but he or she will also not have any well-established investigative powers.
The Liberals waited until the end of their four-year term to bring this bill forward, even though they spent those four years telling us that the relationship with indigenous peoples is their most important relationship. Furthermore, in committee, they frantically rushed to table 20-odd amendments to their own bill, as my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo pointed out.
How can the Liberals say their most important relationship is their relationship with indigenous peoples when they waited four years to table this bill? What is more, not only did they table the bill in a slapdash way, but they had to get their own members to propose amendments to improve it. It is not unusual for members to propose amendments, but the Liberals had to table a whole stack of them because the bill had all kinds of flaws.
In closing, I think this bill is a good step towards reconciliation, but there are no tangible measures for the commissioner. For instance, if members have their speeches to the House translated into an indigenous language and the translation is bad, what can the commissioner do? If an indigenous community signs an agreement with the federal government and then feels that the agreement was not implemented properly, who can challenge the government on their behalf?
There is still a lot of work to be done, but we need to pass this bill as quickly as possible, despite all of its flaws, because the end of this Parliament is approaching. Once again, the government has shown its lack of seriousness, as it has with many other bills. To end on a positive note, I would like to say that this bill is a step toward reconciliation between indigenous peoples and the founding peoples, which is very commendable and necessary.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-09 15:48 [p.27597]
Mr. Speaker, the member is right. We are celebrating 50 years of having two official languages in Canada. They are official languages in terms of status and institutionalization of the facts, because historically, there were two languages three centuries ago. They were part of our identity in Canada, and they are still part of it.
There are a few ways to ensure that the Commissioner of Official Languages has more powers. As legislators, we have to do our due diligence and look at this carefully. Specialists have said that we should have pecuniary and administrative sanctions. For example, some governmental agencies and private enterprises go against the law. Only one private enterprise in Canada is under the law, which is Air Canada. Some of them constantly go against the law in their behaviour and actions, on a monthly basis sometimes. Although the commissioner is constantly making recommendations, 20% of his recommendations are never followed, as was said this morning. Why? It is because he does not have the power to tell organizations to stop or they will pay a fine.
Another option is to have an executory deal. It is less coercive. The governmental agency or private enterprise could be asked to make a deal, such as being in accordance with the law within five months.
If my colleague is interested, he can look into how it is done in Wales, England. It has a commissioner who has huge coercive powers.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-09 15:51 [p.27598]
Mr. Speaker, if I correctly understood what the member said, there is, in fact, a part at the beginning of the law that speaks about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, UNDRIP, which does not bind the government to this law, and maybe she finds that unfortunate. However, I voted against UNDRIP.
There were some indigenous people in my riding who came to my office, and with courage and pride I sat in front of them and explained to them why it was actually a courageous act as a legislator in 2018 to vote against the ratification of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by Canada. Why? It is because most constitutionalists would say that it goes against some of our own constitutional conventions and laws, and I think that a courageous legislator must tell the truth to Canadians.
Although we might like UNDRIP, it is not in accordance with Canadian law. What is most important for a legislator is not to protect United Nations accords; it is to protect the Canadian law. I explained that to my constituent, who was an indigenous person, and I think we had huge respect for each other. Although he did not agree with me, I understand why he could not agree with me, which was because of the history he had with us and the founding people. Maybe that is why UNDRIP is not so clearly enshrined in this law.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-05-09 15:54 [p.27598]
Mr. Speaker, to the first question on the importance of language, I know what it means, because I am a Quebecker. I am a French Canadian, and I am able to speak in French in this institution, but I like to show respect and answer in English when someone talks to me in English. My father is an anglophone, by the way.
When my daughter was born five years ago, I intended to speak to her in English, and I told my wife that she could speak to her in French, but I could not do it, because when I speak in English to my daughter, it is not from my heart. I do not feel the connection. Therefore, yes, a language is fundamental to a person's identity. It is fundamental to carry the culture we are from. It is impossible for me to speak to my kids in English. I do not see them that much, because I am here, but when I speak to my kids, I want my heart to be speaking.
Second, it is obvious that there were a lot of mistakes in the bill, because the government had to present more than 20 amendments. We should be afraid that there are other mistakes in the bill, which we did not have time to discuss or analyze correctly. I think that could be something troublesome that the next government, which will be Conservative, will have to repair.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-04-10 17:21 [p.26955]
Mr. Speaker, I must say that in this case, I also appreciated the speech made by my colleague from Sherbrooke. I agree with him, much to the chagrin of my colleague from Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.
As the member for Sherbrooke said, this budget is dragging up broken promises, such as the promise to return to a balanced budget this year, which is rather unbelievable. It does not even include a timeline for balancing the budget. This is a first in our country's history.
The government is budgeting $41 billion to deflect attention from its mistakes, including its bungled foreign and domestic policy. Once again, the budget favours the major interest groups, as the member for Sherbrooke pointed out. We saw more evidence of this today, when the government gave Loblaws $12 million for refrigerators. It is absolutely ridiculous.
Does my colleague from Sherbrooke agree that this budget shows a lack of respect for Quebeckers?
In 2015, the member for Papineau, the Prime Minister, told a New York newspaper that Canada was postnational. This is an outright affront to Quebeckers, whose historical and political reality is very much alive and well.
There are also no measures in this bill to address the Quebec premier's concerns about the cost of the arrival of a huge number of illegal refugees. I know he does not like that term, but Quebec wants to be reimbursed for some of those costs. There is also nothing in the budget about a single tax return or the Quebec Bridge, and there is nothing to address the discriminatory measure wherein larger cities will get more money for sustainable mobility infrastructure than smaller ones like Quebec City.
Does my colleague agree that the 2019 budget implementation bill once again shows the government's lack of respect for all our fellow Quebeckers?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2019-02-20 16:21 [p.25570]
Mr. Speaker, I want to point out how disappointed I am. I could hardly wait to speak about this bill today, mainly for personal reasons. I have an Inuit first name, Alupa, which means “strong man”. My entire family is very aware of and attuned to indigenous matters. My wife is an anthropologist who has worked with the Inuit for many years, and my father is a forensic historian, who has defended indigenous people in many cases by locating treaties or doing research for them.
The minister said that this is an extremely important bill that will protect and promote indigenous languages, some of which are dying out. That much is true. The Liberals have also said that no relationship is more important than the relationship with indigenous peoples. They have said it over and over, but this bill was introduced only a few months before the election, at the end of their mandate and four years after they were elected. Yes, it is urgent that we take action, but it is not true that we will all be able to state our position and discuss it in committee. As there are only three spots for opposition members, I do not think I will have the opportunity to debate the bill or to suggest amendments in committee.
Although we support this bill on the face of it, it deals with some very serious issues. There is a very clear reason why we support this bill, and that appears in the last paragraph of the preamble to the Official Languages Act, which states that the government recognizes the importance of preserving and enhancing the use of languages other than English and French while strengthening the status and use of the official languages.
This bill is therefore perfectly aligned with Canada's political doctrine. However, there are some very important issues that need clarification, and I will talk about them now. Why is the Official Languages Act quasi-constitutional? That is because it is linked to sections 16 to 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The minister told us that Bill C-91, an act respecting indigenous languages, is linked to section 35 of the Constitution. Does that mean that this bill will become quasi-constitutional legislation like the Official Languages Act? If so, we will have to discuss this for weeks because it will have a major impact on our society. It will be a very positive impact, to be sure, but when we say that the bill could be quasi-constitutional we need to know where that takes us.
The bill also states that there would be a commissioner of indigenous languages. Will this commissioner have duties similar to those of the Commissioner of Official Languages? Will they have a joint office?
The bill also talks about funding to protect, preserve and promote indigenous languages. Will that involve developing action plans as we do for official languages? Will this cost billions of dollars over five years every five years, as is the case with the action plan for official languages? Will the department also receive $1 billion in recurring funding every five years?
There are all kinds of questions to which we have no answers today. Could we maybe get an inkling of an answer right now?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:07 [p.24822]
Mr. Speaker, I had the honour and privilege to be chosen, among the 338 members of Parliament, to speak today on the last day we will be sitting in this building, the Centre Block, in the House of Commons, in our wonderful Parliament, in our great federation.
Before I go any further and talk a bit about Centre Block, I should say that I will be sharing my time with the excellent member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, one of my esteemed colleagues, whose riding is quite close to my own. We share a border, between Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval and Beauport. I am very happy to work with him on various issues that affect our respective constituents.
I would like to wish a very merry Christmas to everyone in Beauport—Limoilou who is watching us right now or who might watch this evening on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. I wish everyone a wonderful time with their family, and I hope they take some time to rest and relax. That is important. This season can be a time to focus a little more on ourselves and our families, and to spend time together, to catch up and to rest up. I wish all my constituents the very best for 2019. Of course we will be seeing one another next week in our riding. I will be in my office and out in the community all week. I invite all my constituents to the Christmas party I am hosting on Wednesday, December 19, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at my office, which is located at 2000 Sanfaçon Avenue. Refreshments will be served and we will celebrate Christmas together. Over 200 people attended the event last year. I hope to see just as many people out this year. Merry Christmas and happy new year to everyone.
Today I want to talk about Bill C-76. I think this is the third time I speak to this bill. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to speak at all three readings of the same bill, and I am delighted I have been able do so.
This is somewhat ironic, because we have every reason to feel nostalgic today. The Centre Block of the House of Commons has been the centre of Canadian democracy since 1916, or rather, since its reconstruction, which was completed in 1920 after the fire. We have been sitting in this place for over a century, for 102 years. We serve to ensure the well-being of our constituents and to discuss democracy, to discuss legislation and the issues that matter to our country every day.
Today, rather ironically, we are discussing Bill C-76, which seeks to amend the Canada Elections Act. This is the legislation that sets the guidelines, standards, conditions and guarantees by which we, the 338 members of Parliament, were elected by constituents to sit here in the House of Commons. It is an interesting bill that we are discussing on our last day here, but this situation is indeed somewhat ironic, as my NDP colleague so rightly said in his question to the parliamentary secretary. He asked why, if this bill is so important to the Liberals, they waited until the last minute to rush it through after three years in power. The same version appeared in Bill C-33 in 2015-16, and the Liberals delayed implementation of that bill.
Since we are talking about Bill C-76, which affects the Elections Act and democracy, I must say I find it a shame that only six out of the 200 amendments the Conservatives proposed in committee were accepted.
We have concrete grievances based on real concerns and even the opinion of the majority. I will share with the House some of the surveys I have here. I just want to take a minute to say to all those watching us on CPAC or elsewhere right now, that it has been my dream ever since I was 15 to serve Canadians first and foremost. That is why I enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. That is why I dreamed of becoming an MP since I was 15. In 2015, I had the exceptional honour of earning the confidence of the majority of the 92,000 constituents of Beauport—Limoilou. I would like to tell them that, in my view, the House of Commons represents the opposite of what the Prime Minister said yesterday. He said it was just a room.
I did not like that because the House of Commons, which will close for renovations for 15 years in a few days, is not just a room, as the Prime Minister said. I find it unfortunate that he used that term. It is the chamber of the people. That is why it is green. The colour green represents the people and the colour red represents aristocracy. Hence the Senate chamber is red.
I hope I am not mistaken. Perhaps the parliamentary guides could talk to me about this.
It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister said that it is not the centre of democracy, because that is not true. I will explain to Canadians why it is wrong to say that Parliament is not the centre of democracy.
The Prime Minister was right when he said that democracy resides everywhere, whether in protests in the streets, meetings of political associations or union meetings. Of course, democracy happens there. However, the centre of democracy is here, because it is here that elected members sit and vote on the laws that govern absolutely everything in the country. It is also here that we can even change Canada's Constitution. The country's Constitution cannot be changed anywhere else or as part of political debates by a political association or a protest. No, it can only be done here or in the other legislative assemblies of the provinces in Canada. It is only in those places that we can make amendments and change how democracy works or deal with problems to address current issues. Yes, by definition, in a practical manner, the centre of democracy is right here. It is not, as the Prime Minister said, just a room like so many others. No, it is the House of Commons.
Just briefly, before I get back to Bill C-76, I want to talk about the six sculptures on the east wall. The first represents civil law; the second, freedom of speech; the third, the Senate; the fourth, the governor general; the fifth, Confederation; and the sixth, the vote. On the west wall, there are sculptures representing bilingualism, education, the House of Commons, taxation—it says “IMPÔT — TAX” up top—criminal law and, lastly, communications. Those sculptures are here because we are at the centre of democracy. The 12 sculptures represent elements of how our federation works.
With respect to Bill C-67, we have three main complaints.
First, Bill C-76 would make it possible for a Canadian to use a voter card as their only document at a polling station. To be clear, the voter card is the paper people get for registering as an eligible voter. From now on, the Liberals will let people vote using that card only. Currently, and until this bill is passed, voters have to present a piece of identification to vote.
There are risks in letting people vote without an ID card like a driver's licence, health card or passport. First, in 2015, the information on over one million voter identification cards was incorrect. That is a major concern. Second, it is easy to vote with a card displaying incorrect information. That creates a significant problem. It is serious. We need to make sure that voting remains a protected, powerful and serious privilege in Canada.
Our second concern—and this is why we have no choice but to vote against the bill and what upsets me the most personally—is that the government is going to allow Canadians who live outside the country to vote, regardless of how long they have been living abroad. There used to be a five-year limit. In Australia, it is six years. Many countries have limits.
Now, the Liberals want to allow 1.4 million Canadians who live abroad to participate in Canadian elections, even if they have not lived in Canada for 20 or 30 years. They will even be allowed to choose what riding they want to vote in.
Do the Liberals realize the incredible power they are giving to Canadian citizens who have not lived in Canada for 20 years? Those individuals could potentially choose a riding where the polls indicate that the race is very close and change which party is chosen to govern.
Our third concern about this bill is that the Liberals want to prevent third parties, such as labour groups, from accepting money from individuals or groups outside the country during the pre-writ period.
That is good, but there is nothing stopping this from happening before the pre-writ period. People will be able to take in money and receive money from groups outside the country before the start of the pre-writ period.
I thank all Canadians who are watching us for their trust. I look forward to seeing them in the riding next week.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:19 [p.24823]
Mr. Speaker, I am glad to know the member opposite had the same dream as I did, starting at age 15. I am glad to see that she went all the way to realizing this dream. Good for her. Marvellous.
The Liberals speak about this bill as if it is something fundamental, so why did they wait three years? We are three years into their mandate right now, three years of failures. We have three years of failure on the border, where we have almost 100,000 illegal border crossings happening right now. There is huge financial pressure on provincial governments to deal with this crisis. We have three years of failure concerning deficits. They promised that they would run a small $10-billion deficit, and now the Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by Mr. Harper, something we should never forget, who brings accountability to the government every day he acts, has informed us this week that the deficit is way larger than what was announced two weeks ago. It will be about $26 billion just for 2018-19.
I completely disagree with the member. Yes, the right to vote is fundamental. However, the responsibility of the government is to make sure that voting is respected and protected for everyone.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-12-13 13:22 [p.24824]
Mr. Speaker, as I said, from day one we contributed to this bill. We proposed over 200 amendments, and only six of them were accepted. It is disappointing to see that now the Liberals will be going forward without the acceptance of all members. We are talking about a bill that would have an impact on future elections. We should require all members to stand behind such an important bill. We think it should have been a must for the government to accept many more of our amendments.
Yes, with respect to what the member just told us, if those kinds of situations happened during the last election, which was completely unacceptable, why not give more powers to the election directorate if we are able to? Why was the government so negative toward all the other amendments we brought forward?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-27 16:41 [p.24051]
Madam Speaker, it is a bit unfortunate to notice that the parliamentary secretary cannot spontaneously speak without any notes about their supposedly great budget engagement.
I went out for a few seconds and I am sure I missed the point where the member said when his government would balance the budget. I am sure I missed that. The Liberals seem to want to be a responsible government, so I am sure I missed that point.
Could the member just repeat to me in which year the government will balance the budget?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-27 16:46 [p.24052]
Madam Speaker, I would like to respond to something the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said. She said the government always has iconic and historical engagement announcements. I have come to think that it is all the government is about. It is always historical, amazing, so great, but we have never in Canadian history seen a government spend so much money to do so little.
I am very happy to speak today in the House of Commons on behalf of the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou.
Centre Block will soon be closing for complete renovations for 10 or 15 years. I wanted to mention that. There is no cause for concern, however, because we will be moving to West Block. I will therefore be able to continue to speak on behalf of my constituents.
Today I am discussing Bill C-86, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018 and other measures.
I will focus on the fact that the members of the Conservative Party are extremely disappointed with the bill. We have witnessed a string of broken promises over the past three years. It is a little ironic that the hon. member for Papineau, the current head of the Liberal government, said during the election campaign that he wanted to do something to make people less cynical of politics, to help them have more confidence in politicians, in the ability of the executive branch, the legislative branch and members of Parliament to do things that are good for Canadians and especially to respect the major promises formally made during the campaign.
A group of researchers at Laval University have created what they call the Vote Compass. It shows the number of promises kept and broken by the provincial and federal governments.
I remember that, to their chagrin, a few months before the 2015 election, the research institute had to acknowledge that 97% of all promises made by Mr. Harper during the 2011 election campaign had been kept.
The Liberal government elected in 2015 broke three major promises and is continuing to break them in the 2018 budget. These were not trifling promises. They were major promises that were to set the guidelines for how the government was to behave and for the results Canadians would see.
The Canadians we talk to are familiar with the three major promises, since I often repeat them. I have to, because this is serious.
The Liberals promised to limit themselves to minor $10-billion deficits in the first two years and a $6-billion deficit in the third year.
What did they do? The first year, they posted a deficit of $30 billion. The second year, they posted a deficit of $20 billion. This year, the deficit is $18 billion, or three times what was announced.
That is the first broken promise, and it was not just some promise that was jotted down on the back of a napkin. In any case, I hope not. In fact, I remember quite well that the promise was made from a crane in the midst of the election campaign. The member for Papineau was in Toronto, standing on a crane when he said that he would run deficits to pay for infrastructure. That is the second broken promise. He said that the $10 billion a year in deficits would be used to inject more money into infrastructure. However, of the $60 billion in deficits this government has racked up to date, only $9 billion has gone to infrastructure. That is another problem, another broken promise.
That is why I was saying earlier that we have rarely seen, in the history of Canada, a government spend so much money for so few results. This is probably the first time we have seen this sort of thing.
I will give an example. He said that he would invest $10 billion in infrastructure in 2017, but he invested only $3 billion and yet racked up a deficit of $20 billion. Where did the other $17 billion go? It was used for all sorts of different things in order to satisfy very specific interest groups who take great pleasure in and boast ad nauseam about the Liberal ideology.
The third broken promise is an extremely important and strategic one. In fact, it was so obvious that we did not even really think of it as a promise before.
All Canadian governments, in a totally responsible manner and without questioning it, traditionally endorsed this practice. If there was a deficit, the document would indicate the date by which the budget would be balanced. There was a repayment date, just as there is for anyone in Canada. When the families of Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are watching today, want to buy a car or appliance, such as a washer or dryer, not only does the seller ask them to get a bank loan, but he also asks them to sign a paper that indicates when the debt will be repaid in full.
Thus, it is quite normal to indicate when the budget will be balanced. We have been asking that question for three years, but what is even more interesting is that the Liberals had promised that the budget would be balanced in 2019, and now there are 45 days remaining in 2018. Telling us when the budget will be balanced is the least the Liberals could do.
There are consequences to running up large deficits, however. The Liberal government has been accumulating gigantic deficits at a time when the global economy is doing rather well, although forecasts indicate that we will enter a recession in the next 12 months. Although times are tough in Alberta and Ontario, where General Motors just closed a plant, the situation is positive. There are regions in Canada that are suffering tremendously, but the global economic context is nevertheless healthy. Knock on wood, which is everywhere in the House of Commons.
The first serious mistake is to run up deficits when times are good. When the global economy is doing well and our financial institutions are making money, we have to put money aside for an emergency fund and an assistance fund, especially for the employees of General Motors who lost their jobs and for all families in the riding of my Alberta colleague who have lost their jobs in the oil sector.
We have to have an emergency fund for the next economic crisis because that is how our capitalist system works. There are ups and downs. That is human nature. It is random. Agreements are signed, things are done, progress is made, and there are ups and downs. The current positive situation has been going on for five or six years now, so we need to be prepared. That is why growing the deficit during good economic times can have very serious consequences.
I would like to talk about another serious consequence, and I am sure this will strike a chord with the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are listening to us now. Does anyone know how many billions of dollars the government spends on federal health transfers? It is $33 billion per year. To service the debt, to pay back people around the world who lend us money, we spent $37 billion last year. We spent $4 billion more on servicing our debt than on health transfers.
An hon. member: That is shameful.
Mr. Alupa Clarke: Yes, Madam Speaker, it is shameful. It sure looks like bad management of public affairs. It makes no sense, and I am sure Canadians agree. I am sure they are sick and tired of hearing us talk about $10-billion, $20-billion, $30-billion deficits and so on.
Canada's total debt is now $670 billion. My fellow Canadians, that means that, at this point in time, your family owes $47,000. That is a debt you will have to pay.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage was very proud to announce that the government was giving nearly $6,000 a year per child, through the Canada child benefit, to people earning less than $45,000 a year. They are not giving money away, however; they are buying votes, which is unfortunate, since the very children this money is helping will end up having to pay it back. This is completely unacceptable on the part of the government.
I am proud to be part of a former Conservative government that was responsible, that granted benefits without running deficits and that also managed to balance the budget.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-27 16:59 [p.24053]
Madam Speaker, I will respond to that, because the Conservatives do not hide and we are not afraid of the truth.
The fact is that the MP for Papineau, the Liberals' leader, the Prime Minister presently, said during the last campaign that never in the world would he present an omnibus bill. There was no nuance. It was, “no omnibus bill, ever”. The fact is that it is the biggest omnibus bill we have ever seen in this Parliament. It is bigger than an elephant. Seriously, it is huge. It is over 800 pages.
The blunt fact is that we were not ashamed of putting forward omnibus bills, because Canadians wanted the House to be efficient. Canadians wanted the House to go forward to make changes when necessary. Sometimes, when we had to debate every article, it did not go fast enough for the quickly changing pace of the world and all the needs of the Canadian people.
Right now the member is trying to engage with people to try to hide the fact that the Liberals are doing omnibus bills. They are ashamed of it.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-27 17:01 [p.24054]
Madam Speaker, I personally believe we should ensure that workers pensions are protected when a company files for bankruptcy.
As a society, we cannot tell workers who have worked for 30 or 40 years and who were counting on a pension that, all of a sudden, for purely capitalist reasons, their pension will be slashed.
There are people in my riding who suffered a great deal when White Birch Paper almost went under. There were unbelievable cuts to employees’ pensions. The only comfort I could find when I met with the people on the board of White Birch Paper, which employed 400 people, was when they told me that their pensions had been cut as well.
The NDP is working hard on this. Good for them, because it is an important issue.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-27 17:16 [p.24056]
Madam Speaker, I am sure that the member must have skipped one of the paragraphs in his speech where he was intending to announce when the government would balance the budget. That has always been the case in Canada's history. Maybe he could check his speech once more. All of my constituents are calling non-stop every single day about when the budget will be balanced.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:04 [p.23347]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise. As usual, I would like to say hello to the many people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us live on CPAC or on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter later.
I would like to comment on the speech by the Minister of Status of Women. I found it somewhat hypocritical when she said that she hopes her opposition colleagues will support the bill and the budget's feminist measures, which she presented, when the Liberals actually and strategically included all these measures in an omnibus bill, the 2018 budget implementation bill. Clearly, we, the Conservatives, will not vote in favour of Bill C-86 because it once again presents a deficit budget that is devastating for Canada's economy and for Canadian taxpayers. It is somewhat hypocritical for the minister to tell us that she hopes we will support the measures to give women more power when she herself was involved in hiding these measures in an omnibus bill.
I would like say, as I often say, that it is a privilege for me to speak today, but not for the same reason this time. I might have been denied the opportunity to speak to Bill C-86 because this morning, the Liberal government imposed closure on the House. It imposed time allocation on the speeches on the budget. This is the first time in three years that I am seeing this in the House. Since 2015, we have had three budget presentations. This is the sixth time we are debating a budget since 2015 during this 42nd Parliament. This is the first time I have seen the majority of my Conservative colleagues and the majority of my NDP colleagues being denied speaking time to discuss something as important as Bill C-86 to implement budgetary measures. The budget implementation legislation is what formalizes the budget the government brought down in February. Implementation is done in two phases. This is the second phase and it implements the Liberal government's budget.
By chance, I have the opportunity to speak about the budget today and I want to do so because I would like to remind those listening about some key elements of this budget which, in our view, are going in the wrong direction. First, the Liberals are continuing with their habit, which has become ingrained in their psyches. They are continuing with their deficit approach. It appears that they are in a financial bind. That is why they are creating new taxes like the carbon tax. They also lack the personal ability to govern. You might say that it is not in their genes to balance a budget. The Liberals' budget measures are bad and their economic plan is bad. They are so incapable of balancing the budget that they cannot even give us a timeline. They cannot even tell us when they think they will balance the budget.
This is the first time that we have seen this in the history of our great Canadian parliamentary democracy, established in 1867, and probably before that, in the parliaments of the United Canadas. This is the first time since 1867 that a government has not been able to say when they will balance the budget. I am not one for political rhetoric, but this is not rhetoric, this is a fact.
The Liberals made big promises to us in that regard during the 2015 election. Unfortunately, the Liberals put off keeping those promises. They promised to balance the budget by 2019. Now, they have put that off indefinitely, or until 2045, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, a position that, let us not forget, was created by Mr. Harper. That great democrat wanted to ensure that there was budgetary accountability in Parliament. The Liberals also promised that they would run small deficits of $10 billion for the first three years and then balance the budget. The first year, they ran a deficit of $30 billion. The second year, they ran a deficit of $20 billion. The third year, they ran a deficit of $19 billion. Just a week or two ago, we found out from the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the Liberals miscalculated and another $4 billion in debt has been added to that amount. The Liberals have racked up a deficit of $22 billion. That is 6.5 times more than what they set out in their plan to balance the budget.
The other key budget promise the Liberals made was that the small deficits of $10 billion would be used to build new infrastructure as part of a $187-billion program.
To date, only $9 billion has flowed from the coffers to pay for infrastructure projects. Where is the other $170 billion? The Prime Minister is so acutely aware of the problem that he shuffled his cabinet this summer. He appointed the former international trade minister to the infrastructure portfolio, and the new infrastructure minister's mandate letter says he absolutely has to get on this troublesome issue of money not being used to fund infrastructure projects.
There is a reason the Liberals do not want to give us more than two or three days to discuss the budget. They do not want the Conservatives and the NDP to say quite as much about the budget as they would like to say because we have a lot of bad things to tell them and Canadians.
Fortunately, we live in a democracy, and we can express ourselves in the media, so all Canadians can hear what I have to say. However, it is important for us to express our ideas in the House too because listening to what we say here is how Canadians learn what happened in history.
Things are not as rosy as the Liberals claim when it comes to the economy and their plan. For instance, in terms of exports, they have not been able to export Canadian oil as they should. We have one of the largest reserves in the world, but the Liberals tightened rules surrounding the National Energy Board in recent years. As a result, several projects have died, such as the northern gateway project and energy east, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project, which the Liberals managed to save in the end using $4.5 billion of taxpayers money. In short, our exports are not doing very well.
As for investments, from 2015 to 2017, Canadian investments in the U.S. increased by 65%, while American investments in Canada dropped by 52%.
On top of that, one thing that affects the daily lives of Canadians even more is the massive debt, which could jeopardize all our future projects for our glorious federation. In 2018, the total accumulated debt is $670 billion. That comes out to $47,000 per family. Not counting any student debt, car payments or mortgage, every family already has a debt of $47,000, and a good percentage of that has increased over the past three years because of the Liberals' fiscal mismanagement.
That is not to mention the interest on the debt. I am sure that Canadians watching at home are outraged by this. In 2020, the interest on the debt will be $39 billion a year. That is $3 billion more than we invest every year in health.
The government boasts about how it came up with a wonderful plan for federal health transfers with the provinces, but that plan does not respect provincial jurisdictions. What is more, it imposes conditions on the provinces that they must meet in order to be able to access those transfers. We did not do that in the Harper era. We are investing $36 billion per year in health care and spending $39 billion servicing debt. Imagine what we could have done with that money.
I will close by talking about the labour shortage. I would have liked to have 20 minutes so I could say more, but we cannot take the time we want because of the gag order. It is sad that I cannot keep going.
Quebec needs approximately 150,000 more workers. I am appalled that the minister would make a mockery of my questions on three occasions. Meanwhile, the member for Louis-Hébert had the nerve to say that the Conservatives oppose immigration. That has nothing to do with it. We support immigration, but that represents only 25% of the solution to the labour shortage. This is a serious crisis in Quebec.
There are many things under federal jurisdiction that the government could do and that, in combination with immigration, would help fill labour shortages. However, all the Liberals can do is make fun of me, simply because I am a member of the opposition. I hosted economic round tables in Quebec City with my colleagues, and all business owners were telling us that this is a serious crisis. The Liberals should act like a good government and stop making fun of us every time we speak. Actually, it is even worse; they want to prevent us from speaking.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:15 [p.23349]
Mr. Speaker, that is such a dishonourable question. He is doing exactly what I just criticized his colleague from Louis-Hébert for doing. That is fearmongering. The Liberals are doing exactly what they are accusing us of doing. They are making a mockery of what we are saying and the work we are doing as Her Majesty's opposition.
When we were in power, over 300,000 immigrants entered Canada every year, and there were no crises at our borders because we made sure that the our immigration system was orderly, fair and peaceful.
At an economic round table, the executive director of the Association des économistes du Québec told us that immigration was only 25% of the solution to the labour shortage. Even if we welcomed 500,000 immigrants a year, that would still not completely solve the labour shortage.
We need to help seniors who want to return to the workforce. We need to allow foreign students in our universities to stay longer. We need to make sure that fewer young men in Quebec drop out of high school. All kinds of action could be taken, but all the Liberals are capable of doing is launching completely false insinuations and hyper-partisan attacks on us.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:17 [p.23349]
Mr. Speaker, the government needs to be serious and show some leadership. That means being capable of making decisions for the future well being of Canadian society.
Why are the Liberals coming up with a carbon tax and bogus plans to fight climate change when they know a recession is coming? Everyone is talking about it. There will be a recession by 2020. What are they going to do in a recession with a $30-billion deficit? They have run up deficits or more than $100 billion in three and a half years. When the next recession hits, what are they going to do to get the economy moving again without any money?
We know what to do. From 2006 to 2015, the Conservative government managed to get through the worst economic crisis in history since the recession of the 1930s. We had the best result in the G7 and the OECD.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-06 16:19 [p.23349]
Mr. Speaker, there is the expression that Conservatives times are tough times. Why is that? We always have to clean up the Liberals' mess every single time. They were in power more often than us because they do not have principles. All they want is power. We stand up for the people and principles.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-11-01 11:34 [p.23119]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Louis-Hébert for his speech.
At the beginning of his speech he talked about historic investments in infrastructure. Sadly, it is historic in theory only, since we have seen just $9.3 billion of the $187 billion announced a few years ago.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Conservative government not only released the $80 billion from our economic action plan, but we also spent it in real time. Many observers even talked about how effective the plan was, since the money was getting out. I just wanted to set the record straight.
I would also like to ask my hon. colleague when the government plans to balance the budget. He did not mention that in his speech. One of the Liberal government's key promises in 2015 was to balance the budget by 2020. Promises must be kept if we want to reduce cynicism among Canadians instead of fuelling it. This is important to our democracy, and yet, it is clear that the government has shelved this promise and that it has absolutely no intention of keeping it.
When will the government balance the budget?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 10:49 [p.22876]
Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise to speak in the House.
I would like to say hello to the people of Beauport—Limoilou who are watching us now on CPAC or watching a rebroadcast on Facebook or Twitter.
Without further delay, I would like to address the previous speaker's comments. I find it interesting that he said their objective was to prevent foreign influence from third parties.
The bill will pass, since the Liberals have a majority. However, one problem I have with the bill is that it will allow more than 1.5 million Canadians who have been living outside of Canada for more than five years to vote in general elections, even if they have been outside Canada for 10 or 15 years.
These people have a privilege that even Canadians who have never left the country do not even have. The Liberals will let them randomly choose which riding they want to vote in. This is a massive privilege.
If I were living in the United States for 10 years and saw that the vote was really close in a certain riding, thanks to the new amendments made to the bill, I could decide to vote for the Liberal Party in order to ensure that a Liberal member gets elected. That seems like a very dangerous measure to me. It will give a lot of power to people who have been living abroad for a very long time. That still does not make them foreigners, since they are Canadian citizens.
For those watching us, I want to note that we are talking about Bill C-76 to modernize the Canada Elections Act.
This is an extremely important issue because it is the Canada Elections Act that sets the guidelines for our elections in our democracy. These elections determine the party that will form the next government of Canada.
I am sure that the people of Beauport—Limoilou watching us right now can hardly believe the Liberal government when it says that it wants to improve democracy or Canada's electoral system or allow a lot of people to exercise their right to vote. The Liberals' record on different elements of democracy has been deplorable the past three years.
Two years ago when the House was debating the issue, I was a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The Liberals introduced a parliamentary reform that included some rather surprising elements. They wanted to weaken the opposition, thereby weakening roughly 10 million Canadians who voted for the opposition parties, including the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party.
They wanted to cut speaking times in the House, which is completely ridiculous. I have said it many times before and I will say it again. An MP currently has the right to speak for 20 minutes. Most of the time, each MP speaks for 10 minutes. Through the reform, the Liberals wanted to cut speaking times from 20 minutes to 10 minutes at all times. The 20-minute speaking slot would no longer exist.
I have a book at home that I love called The Confederation Debates. It features speeches by Papineau, Doyon, George-Étienne Cartier, John A. MacDonald, Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine, among many others that I could name. These great MPs would speak for four, five, six, seven or eight hours without stopping, long into the night.
With their parliamentary reforms, the Liberals wanted to reduce MPs' speaking time to 10 minutes. They wanted to take away our right to speak for 20 minutes. All this was intended to minimize the opposition's speaking time, to stifle debate on various issues.
What they did yesterday was even worse. It was a clear-cut example of their attitude towards parliamentary democracy. They imposed time allocation. In layman's terms, they placed a gag order on a debate on the modernization of the Canada Elections Act. No example could more blatantly demonstrate their ultimate intent, which is to ram the bill through as fast as possible. It is really a shame. They want to ram this down our throats.
There is also what they did in 2015 and 2016 with their practice of cash for access.
When big-time lobbyists want to meet with a minister or the Prime Minister to discuss an issue, they just have to register and pay $1,500, or $1,575 now, for the opportunity to influence them.
These are not get-togethers with ordinary constituents. These are get-togethers arranged for the express purpose of giving prominent lobbyists access to top government officials and enabling them to influence decisions.
Here is a great example. The Minister of Finance attended a get-together with Port of Halifax officials and people closely connected to the Port of Halifax. No other Liberal Party MP was there. That is a blatant conflict of interest and cash for access.
If Canadians have a hard time trusting the Liberals when they say they introduced this bill because they want to enfranchise people or improve democracy and civic engagement, it is also because of all of the promises the Liberals have broken since their election in 2015.
Elections and electoral platforms form the foundations of Canadian democracy. Each party's political platform contains election promises. Personally, I prefer to call them commitments. The Liberals made some big promises. They said they would run small $10-billion deficits for the first two years and then reduce the deficits. Year after year, however, as they are in their third year of a four-year mandate, they have been running deficits that are much worse: $30 billion, $20 billion and, this year, $19 billion, although their plan projected a $6-billion deficit.
They broke that promise, but worse still, they broke their promise to return to a balanced budget. As my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has put it so well often enough, this is the first time we are seeing structural deficits outside wartime or a major recession. What is worse, this is the first time a government has had no plan to return to a balanced budget. It defies reason. The Parliamentary Budget Officer, an institution created by the Right Hon. Stephen Harper, said again recently that it is unbelievable to see a government not taking affairs of the state more seriously.
Meanwhile, with respect to infrastructure, the Liberals said they were introducing the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history—everything is always historic with them—worth $187 billion. What is the total amount spent to date? They have spent, at most, $7 billion on a few projects here and there, although this was supposed to be a pan-Canadian, structured and large-scale program.
The Liberals also broke their promise to reform the electoral system. They wanted a preferential balloting system because, according to analyses, surveys and their strategists, it would have benefited them. I did not support that promise, but it is probably why so many Canadians voted for the Liberals.
There is then a string of broken promises, but electoral reform was a fundamental promise and the Liberals reneged on it. It would have made changes to the Election Act and to how Canadians choose their government. That clearly shows once again that Canadians cannot trust the Liberals when they say they will reform the Election Act in order to strengthen democracy in Canada.
Let us now get back to the matter at hand, Bill C-76, which makes major fundamental changes that I find deplorable.
First, Bill C-76 would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to authorize the use of the voter information card as a piece of identification for voting. As one of my Conservative colleagues said recently, whether we like it or not, voter cards show up all over, even in recycling boxes. Sometimes voter cards are found sticking out of community mailboxes.
There are all kinds of ways that an individual can get hold of a voter card and go to the polling station with it. It is not that difficult. This Liberal bill enables that individual to vote, although there is no way of knowing if they are that person, unless they are asked to provide identification—and that is not even the biggest problem.
It does not happen often, thank goodness, but when I go to the CHUL in Quebec City—which is the hospital where I am registered—not only do I have to provide the doctor's requisition for blood work, but I also have to show a piece of ID and my hospital card.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 12:09 [p.22891]
I believe you, of course, Madam Speaker.
That is completely ridiculous in the current context. My colleague is talking about something that happened a number of years ago. However, in the current context, there are practically no bills. The government's legislative agenda is practically non-existent. What is it introducing right now?
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership has been signed. We are waiting for the USMCA to be examined here in the House so that it can be ratified. We voted only once this week. We are beginning to wonder what we are doing here. The Liberal government is not introducing any meaningful legislation. This week, we had the opportunity to debate an extremely important bill, and the government imposed a gag order on us. Looking at the government's legislative agenda, it seems that we should have been able to take as much time as we needed to discuss that bill.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-26 12:11 [p.22891]
Madam Speaker, our critic for democratic institutions and other Conservative colleagues on the committee presented and tabled 200 possible amendments to the bill. These amendments would not only have strengthened the bill but possibly also given the Conservatives the privilege and honour of voting for the bill.
Concerning the citizens' voting cards, one million cards sent to citizens in the last election contained erroneous information. Also, as an Ipsos Reid poll indicates, 87% of Canadians do not see why it is a problem for them to be required to have another identification card when they present themselves at the polling booths.
It is at the basis of democracy that we make sure that the right person is on the card when someone goes to the polls to vote to choose the next government.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 11:30 [p.22540]
Madam Speaker, I understand what my colleague is saying when he talks about a sham and the protection of prisoners as a basic right. All that is entirely legitimate. However, we Conservatives have concerns, which we share with unionized prison guards. Historically, I think that the NDP has always promoted unionism and, more often than not, supported labour demands in our country.
I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the concerns and objections expressed publicly by prison guards, who say that the segregation of certain inmates helps them maintain discipline inside prisons, which is important. It is an exceptional measure, but a measure that is needed in order to remind inmates that there are serious consequences to some of their actions inside the prison walls when they are arrested and incarcerated.
What does my colleague think about the concerns expressed by the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 11:51 [p.22543]
Madam Speaker, in the last two years, we have seen time and again that the Liberal government has a propensity to always walk along the line of a court judgment. The role of the House of Commons is to reiterate, sometimes through the preamble of a new bill, to the courts and the judge the intent of a bill of a rule that was put forward, accepted and voted on in the House. Jean Chrétien did that many times. He did it for advertising in the tobacco sector. Companies wanted the Supreme Court decision and Jean Chrétien tabled a bill with a preamble saying that the judges were wrong.
In this instance, why are the Liberals again and again following the judgment when they could have just reiterated the intent of our purpose in the House of Commons, to protect the citizens of Canada and to ensure that guards had the necessary tools to apply discipline?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 12:08 [p.22544]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.
As always, I will begin by saying hello to my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou, many of whom are watching today, as I am told every time I go door to door.
I also want to tell them that the issue we are discussing today is a very delicate subject. We are talking about the prison environment and about people's lives, namely, the lives of victims of crime and the lives of criminals in prison. This subject can be unsettling, and people often have very strong views on one side or the other. Some people want a really tough-on-crime approach, while others want a softer approach, for reasons that are equally legitimate on both sides.
I would like to ease into the debate and explain the Conservative caucus's take on Bill C-83, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act.
My colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, our public safety critic, was the commanding officer of the Régiment de la Chaudière. I have a lot of faith in him. Today he moved a motion calling on the House to simply end the debate on Bill C-83. My colleague believes that the bill is so botched that we need to shut down debate. In other words, we want to stop this bill and keep it from moving forward or being voted on in this place.
What I find interesting is that the NDP members have said that the bill does not go far enough in terms of protecting people who are incarcerated, while we are saying that it goes too far because it compromises the safety of prison guards and Canadians in general. Given that the motion moved by my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles will not be voted on right away, I will address some of the main aspects of this bill.
I want to address my constituents in Beauport—Limoilou. The bill would eliminate the use of administrative segregation in correctional facilities. Everyone is entitled to an opinion on administrative segregation. These opinions are often based on Hollywood movies. Administrative segregation is used when an inmate is imprisoned for life, or for 10 or 2 years. Inmates serving a life sentence already know that they are not getting out of prison and that they will probably die there, even though there is a provision allowing them to request a discharge after 25 years and leave prison, even in very serious cases of premeditated murder.
Nevertheless, life in prison is a very long period of time for someone who is incarcerated. How can the correctional facility and the guards compel or force this prisoner to comply with disciplinary guidelines? The prison guards are ordinary men and women, with normal lives, who go home at night, who have children, and all that. How are they meant to impose order every day in prison when there are inmates who will be there for the rest of their lives? These lifers could go so far as to kill another inmate since they will be in prison either way.
What I am saying is that correctional facilities need access to measures that are psychologically difficult for prisoners, like segregation, otherwise known as the hole. I do not think that is a good word, since they are no longer holes. They are real and proper cells, just used as a means of segregation.
The inmates eat well enough, and they have access to sanitation facilities. Prisons are not like Alcatraz in the 19th century. We are talking about orderly, coordinated disciplinary segregation that gives correctional officers some measure of control over hardened criminals who do not follow the rules unless they are afraid of ending up in segregation.
This bill would eliminate that. Considering the argument I just laid out, we think that is totally ridiculous. The bill would also replace those facilities with structured intervention units, but it does not tell us exactly what those units are or how they will work.
The bill also talks about using a body scanner, and that is one part of the bill we support, as do corrections professionals and unions. Visitors often find ways that I will not describe in detail to bring drugs and other objects, such as cell phones, to prisoners. That is not allowed. Using a body scanner could make life easier for corrections officers, visitors and prisoners because there would be no need to conduct uncomfortable searches.
The bill specifies that exceptions for indigenous offenders, women offenders and offenders diagnosed with mental health issues need to be formalized. It is about time.
Speaking for myself, there is something I find intriguing. The bill comes in response to recent superior court decisions that found that indefinite segregation was unacceptable under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I want to respond to something my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood said in answer to a question I asked 15 or 20 minutes ago. He told me that we make law, but the courts and judges interpret the law.
Nowhere in the Canadian Constitution does it say that lawmakers do not have the right to interpret the law. It is ironic to hear a lawmaker say something so absurd, because we interpret laws every day in the House of Commons. We interpret them in debate and in committee. We review laws, we rewrite laws, we pass laws and we repeal laws. The role of interpreting law belongs as much to the legislative branch as to the executive branch. The executive branch is even required to apply the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to evaluate every bill through the lens of the charter.
Distinguished Professor Christopher Manfredi of McGill University, who is recognized by his peers around the world, said that the interpretation of each of the three branches is important because they each have their own interpretation of Canadian law and that we achieve better results for Canadians when there is vigorous competition between the powers.
In conclusion, I will say that we could have a philosophical debate about the existence of prisons. No one thinks that prisons are wonderful. At a human level, I believe prisons are probably the most horrible thing there is. However, the historical evolution of humanity shows that this is the only known way to ensure that the most dangerous members of our society will not have any further criminal impact on others. The objective is public safety. The Canadian government's main objective is Canadians' safety. That is why I told the member from Scarborough—Guildwood that he should have instead introduced another bill that emphasizes the government's role in protecting Canadians and that tells the court that it is absolutely wrong about administrative segregation in prison. It is unfortunate, but we must have prisons.
As I reiterated in my arguments, administrative segregation is the only real tool that ensures that prisoners serving a life sentence, for example, have a psychological constraint preventing them from harming other inmates in jail. How can we control a lifer without administrative segregation? It is good for the effectiveness of prisons and for the safety of guards.
We hope that the government will reverse course on this bill. I do not understand why the NDP does not want to support the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, which believes that ending the practice of administrative segregation will jeopardize the safety of correctional officers.
I thank the citizens of Beauport—Limoilou for listening.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 12:20 [p.22546]
Mr. Speaker, inmates who are disciplined by being sent to these units that the bill seeks to create—and that we hope will never see the light of day—will have access to a television and anything else they usually have in their cells.
What we are saying is that administrative segregation, as it now exists, is a psychological deterrent for inmates serving life sentences, for example, who would otherwise not hesitate to harm other inmates or guards. They do not care because they are already in prison for life. The only way to dissuade them from engaging in that type of behaviour is to threaten to send them to solitary confinement with no television or anything else. That psychological element is needed to maintain discipline in prisons.
It is unfortunate, and perhaps prisons should not exist, but that is the only way to protect Canadians, and the only way to maintain discipline is administrative segregation.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-18 12:22 [p.22546]
Mr. Speaker, I completely agree. The Liberals like to base bills on individual cases. That is understandable in some ways because the fundamental objective of a liberal democracy is to protect the minority from the majority. However, the Canadian majority is beginning to get fed up with never having a voice in this government and never having its wishes and desires represented.
That is very dangerous for social harmony, because the majority also needs to have a say. One of the complaints that we as MPs hear most often in our ridings is that the government is always kowtowing to the Canadian judiciary.
To show my good faith, I will say that I will always be proud of Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin—perhaps a little less so of Mr. Martin. Mr. Chrétien carried on the tradition of other prime ministers. When he and his caucus did not agree with a Supreme Court ruling, they reintroduced the same bill in the House of Commons with a preamble.
That is called an “in your face” reply. I suggest that my colleagues go see all the eminent law professors at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. They know all about that kind of thing, and they detest it. An “in your face” reply is when legislators tell the Supreme Court justices that they are wrong, that they do not understand the government's objective, and that they misinterpreted Canadian law.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:15 [p.22508]
Madam Speaker, this a very important debate today, as we are speaking about increasing safeguards at the workplace for males and females, concerning discrimination, harassment, be it sexual or other types of harassment.
It struck me today that, on an ongoing basis, my colleagues have been asking members on the other side of this House about the actions that were alleged this summer, through the media, that the Prime Minister inappropriately touched a journalist 20 years ago. The PM has not addressed this situation in an appropriate way.
What does the member have to say about this?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:29 [p.22510]
Madam Speaker, my colleague who just spoke has been here for a long time, so she has really seen first-hand how things have changed in the House of Commons.
I would like to know if she thinks this bill is part of a long-term evolution that might lead to other legislation that would continue to strengthen the workplace and make it safe.
Does she think this bill will, as we hope, eliminate the slightest possibility of harassment on Parliament Hill? Is she convinced that this bill contains all the necessary measures and provisions to finally keep everyone safe from harassment and discrimination in our workplace here on Parliament Hill?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2018-10-17 16:31 [p.22510]
Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her reasoned and reasonable answer, because constantly reviewing legislation describes our constitutional and political role in the House of Commons to a tee.
That is why it is important for Canadians to understand that nothing is ever perfect and that they must not get too cynical and disillusioned about politics. The fact is that everyone here is always working to improve Canadian society.
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